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Level Up (A5E) Stunning Assault vs Stunning Strike


So after debating this one a little bit, I decided to turn to the math!

Stunning Assault - A manuever that costs 2 exertion and allows any of your attacks to trigger a stun.
Stunning Strike - The adept focus power that lets you spend exertion after a hit to trigger a stun, one exertion per attack.

So with SA, its more of a gamble. I spend 2 exertion straight up, and then see what happens. But in theory I could get a lot of stunning chances for a low exertion cost. With SS, I can wait until I hit, and once I stun, I don't have to keep spending exertion if I don't want to. It could be more efficient, or I could spend 4 exertions on 4 attacks to try and get the stun.

Now at first glance, my thought was that SA would be the better option, so I ran a little test.

Take a 5th level Adept with a 16 dex / 16 wisdom split, and lets do a flurry of blows 4 attack assault. This gives us a Focus DC of 14, and a Maneuver DC of 15. So for the target, I looked at a few CR 6 options, and found the mage. The mage as a spellcaster is definitely a creature I would in theory want to stun, they have an okay con save (+3), but a decent AC with shield (17).

So how do they compare? I did a 1 million run simulation to see how the two abilities looked. I was checked to see how often the creature was stunned, and how much exertion was spent to get the effect.

Stunning Assault
  • 2 exertion per round on average.
  • Stun Chance: 72.4%
Stunning Strike
  • 1.37 exertion per round on average.
  • Stun Chance: 68.3%

So if the Monk is willing to sacrifice ~5% stun chance, they save ~.66 exertion.

Now if you adjust the numbers, higher con saves favor SA, as the more times SS fails to land the more times I need to spend exertion, whereas SA is happy to just keep stunning away.

Increasing the AC favors SS..... since less hits occurs there are less chances for a stun, and SA I'm paying the exertion whether I hit or not.

I had to look at an AC of 15 and a Con Save of +10 before the Adept was spending 2+ exertion a round with SS, so the numbers do have to be a bit more extreme before SS is costing you more exertion than SA.

So in conclusion, at this first tier mathematical example....I actually think Stunning Strike looks pretty good. The combination of only spending exertion after you hit and the creature is not yet stunned really does help to save exertion over time, and I think in general will be the more efficient option. That said, Stunning Assault has its uses....if your fighting the legendary monster and want to blow through its legendary resistances, SA is a better option. SA is also better at stunning multiple creatures.

So at the end of the day, both are pretty good, it just depends on your style and whether you would rather use a focus feature or a manuever to get your stunning in (and this assumes a warrior monk, because monks cannot get this manuever normally).

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