The second video is worth watching. He addresses the points you make regarding the kinds of encounters he’s doing, and clarifies what he means by “optimal”. He says he’s not talking about maximizing DPR or min-maxing in general. He’s talking about how classes are designed to encourage you to take a certain sequence of actions, and how those tend to be the right thing to do in most situations.I wasn’t going to post this because I have said it all before but:
Being a GM is like being a craftsman in that you have a set of tools which you use to build adventures/ sessions. There are a lot of different tools but one of the first ones that most D20 fantasy style GMs learn is the “monster leaps out of the brush/darkness, moves up, and melee attacks until dead” and it’s not necessarily a bad tool, it certainly has its uses, but it’s very common and almost every player knows exactly how to deal with it.
What is happening here is that Cody either has a very limited selection of tools such that he has to repeatedly rely on the same tool for every fight or when he read the AP he assumed that every encounter had to use his favorite/most familiar tool, ignored everything that contradicted that, and attempted to run the game using nothing but that tool – to predictably poor results.
Now I haven’t watched the second video (and I’m not going to since I have better things to spend my time and data on) but I’m betting he is going to bring up a couple encounter examples using his favorite tool and then try to illustrate how one combat routine is clearly ‘optimal’ (the sequence won’t actually be ‘optimal’ and have some flaws that people on the forums will point out if they haven’t lost interest already, but that’s beside the point). What he won’t do is bring out six different tools (say hit-and-fade, a deathtrap, combatants mixed with non-combatants, sentry removal/raid, the classic monster burst out of the brush, and attacking prepared defenses as examples) and give examples showing how the same sequence is optimal for all of them even though that would support his argument while a certain sequence being optimal in a certain situation will not (unless of course that is the only situation the players will ever encounter – which for a good GM it won’t be).
Because of the way pathfinder 2e works characters tend to get a broader range of actions as they progress. This makes it a fantastic system for GMs who like to mix up their tools as you will be less likely to find those “I’m completely useless in this situation” moments (which is incidentally why some GMs rely so heavily on the ‘monster burst out of … and melee attacks until dead’ tool because players almost always have an option they can use in that situation and the GMs feel bad when they create situations in which characters can do nothing).
BTW: if any of you do have the ‘optimal’ build/sequence/routine for all situations for a class please post it! I’m doing sanity checks on a bunch of boss battles and death traps and would love some ‘optimized’ test characters to balance them against.
I feel like a lot of PF2e fans took his video the wrong way. Ive seen so many "response" videos. I never once got the feeling he was attacking PF2e but simply giving his own criticisms. His critics are fair in my opinion. Some people like complicated systems and some don't and that's okay.
The second video is worth watching. He addresses the points you make regarding the kinds of encounters he’s doing, and clarifies what he means by “optimal”. He says he’s not talking about maximizing DPR or min-maxing in general. He’s talking about how classes are designed to encourage you to take a certain sequence of actions, and how those tend to be the right thing to do in most situations.
The example he gives is the ranger. A ranger at the start of almost any combat wants to Hunt Prey. It sets up all your other ranger-y things. After that, you attack. A flurry ranger will make tons of Strikes because that is what a flurry ranger is designed to do. A bow ranger will Hunt Prey and do bow stuff. If you took the gravity weapon focus spell in the APG, you’ll do that but then you’ll Hunt Prey. Other classes are the same way. A swashbuckler wants to generate panache before buckling swashes. Investigators will Devise a Stratagem. It’s just their idiom.
He also includes a 5e example. Your ranger in 5e is basically going to do the same thing. Though it has a few more options due to the way PF2 combat is designed generally, he doesn’t really hold that against PF2. You could probably construct a similar example between PF2 and 3e. I don’t know, but you might even be able to get AD&D into the mix. It’s just a natural issue with systems that give classes obvious things to do, which is that players will tend to do the obvious thing (because it’s obvious).
So if everything is basically the same between systems, why the issue? Skill actions. Skill actions impose a lot of cognitive load on the GM. There’s a lot to internalize. I’ve complained about them quite a bit here lately in our complexity thread. Cody’s point is he doesn’t want to run that way. He doesn’t want skills broken down into little actions with various degrees of success. He says he could just not use them, but then he can also just use a system that doesn’t work that way in the first place, which is apparently what he’s inclined to do.
To be honest, that’s more or less my reasoning for pitching my group on OSE. Looking at how we actually play, and what I want out of a GMing experience, I could run PF2 and make it work, or I could run a system that better matches our style and what I want out of a system. I just need to convince them it’s not as lethal as they think it is (and if that fails, we’ll likely switch to 5e instead of sticking with PF2).
Cody isn't wrong. (It's his opinion, after all. How could he be?) My experience with PF2 was sort of a straw breaking the camel's back moment for me. For the time being, I'm moving to OSR games (or stripped down 5e for those who must play that).
I just don't have the mental bandwidth for the discussions that arise from PF. The game focuses so much on the system that the mechanics are always in the way of the action. Those mechanics, to me, do not offer a better experience or more enjoyable game, though it requires significantly more prep time, fiddling with math, and slower resolution in and out of combat.
I'm not saying any PF2 fans are wrong - it's just not for me right now.
What baffles me is he's going all in on 5e to get less sameyness? Really? Or is it that he's only slightly sour on sameyness, but if he's getting sameyness then he wants less complexity?
I think his reasoning for going with 5e is if the combat is going to be samey either way, why put up with the extra complexity of PF2? That’s understandable.
That's what it comes off as to me. And even though PF2e fans say that you can make characters with many options in combat: 1} players can easily walk into "samey" combat characters and 2) I aint a fan of putting more work on a GM to keep thinking up stuff to spice up combat all the time.
So if players aren't going to be nudged into widening their character's combat options and the GM isn't going to picking up the slack, I can get someone taking a personal preference to nudge themselve in the direction of one system or another. Same thing as someone going from 5e to PF2e because it has options to widen characters in combat and put more focus/power on party comp.
The fact that classes can have a somewhat locked in set of action is prevalent in almost all RPGs. I think once PF2 gets some more options books you will see the classes having alot more options in the action economy.
No worries. Based on my understanding of the video’s argument, I’d say the answer is “yes”. However, it’s using an idiosyncratic definition of “optimal”. It’s not talking about maximizing performance or tactics. It’s just that classes have a characteristic thing they do, which is more or less D&D in a nutshell.Let me clarify my argument:
Suppose that instead of a monster that runs up to melee and attacks it instead flies up, attacks (and gets to move the target on a critical success), and then flys away. And the entire battlefield is difficult terrain with lots of obstacles that block line of effect and it ends each turn behind one. And In that difficult terrain are hidden monsters attached to hazards that won’t attack unless you trigger the hazard (spiders with webs the spiders have greater cover unless they attack). Is the optimal action for the ranger and swashbuckler the same in this situation?
Or suppose that a room is filling with water, two portcullis have sealed the exits, and shadows are below the water tearing off the characters shadows to multiply in number. Is the optimal action for the ranger and swashbuckler the same in that situation?
Or suppose you are sneaking up on an enemy camp to assassinate the general. You need to take out a series of pickets as sneakily as possible. Are optimal actions for that situation the exact same as in the previous ones or are you tempted to take other actions (such as readying a bow shot or using the sneak action?)
Now suppose you got to the general, killed him but alerted the camp. At the beginning of each round the gm rolls a d6 and adds the round number and that’s how many enemy soldiers show up. Are the same optimal actions valid in this case as well?
I have hundreds of these scenarios. Is there an optimal turn routine that you can use in literally all of them? The majority of them? Because I haven’t found one. Sure the bow ranger wants to hunt prey and fire their bow, the swashbuckler wants to gain panache and use finishers, the melee fighter wants to make melee attacks, and the sorcerer wants to cast spells. But the repetitive ‘optimal’ techniques are not the product of the classes but of the GM throwing the same situation at the characters over and over and the players adapting their characters and play styles to that. Variety is the spice of life and all that.
(Note that I am not arguing with you Kenada this is a wordy restatement of my opinion on ‘optimal’ routines)
The examples were a bit skewed, but they felt like a red herring. I’m not going to take the bait and nitpick them. Cody bounced off PF2 for other reasons, and he didn’t feel like combat did enough to differentiate PF2 from other games for him. Okay.P.S. I downloaded the audio and listened to it. Don’t. It’s basically him feeling attacked and trying to prove himself right in his opinions by white rooming to show that dnd 5e is objectively the superior game. I basically predicted what he would do exactly: he gives four different monsters in three different environments (a chimera in a mountain pass, mimic in a room, ghouls and ghast somewhere, and some wights that he goes into detail with) and then proceeded to say that the ranger will take the same action in all the situations (maybe with movement) because the system encourages it. But here’s the thing: He hasn’t presented four different scenarios, he’s presented four different variations of one scenario - straight up combat where the monster appears and attacks until dead and hoped that no one noticed this. Now these can be changed to different scenarios. For example: there is high wind in the mountain interfering with ranged attacks, the terrain is difficult so the PCs are slower, and the chimera instead of just attacking performs a fighting retreat after an initial strafe. That is it attacks then uses its superior mobility to retreat to a totally protected location which is over some obstacles and maybe even some hazards like scree or a rickety bridge and it repeats this as necessary until it is sure it can get the kill. But notice that as soon as you actually change the scenario the rangers ‘optimal’ action stops being so optimal (or ‘obvious’ since he’s trying to walk back a little).
No worries. While we’re probably switching to another system, “classes doing class things” isn’t an issue I have with PF2.@kenada
I'm not completely disagreeing with you, since some classes are definitely built to have go-to rotations (e.g. ranger wants to designate a target because Hunter's Edge and other riders) and I can see how that might feel like a constraint in some ways (worth noting the ranger won't do it every turn, unless they're always preying on something that dies the same round). But I have a few points to make on it, they aren't against you, but your post from earlier is a useful springboard.
I assume he chose ranger because the PF2 and 5e rangers have similar set ups. Given that you neither Hunt Prey not Hunter’s Mark every round (usually), he probably should have looked at more than just one round of combat. Moreover, he should have still used Hunt Prey even in a melee situation.2. Its actually kind of funny he chose ranger, when most classes don't have the same constraint of "I want to use this one action every turn" Rogues certainly don't, Fighter's certainly don't, Barbarians kinda do with Rage, but in addition to ways to game it (wounded rage was my barbarian's favorite), they chiefly only do that once per combat, Champions don't (but you'll use your reaction all the time.) Spellcasters do, but their variety is in the spellcasting itself, not in the cast a spell action. Swashbucklers have something similar, but again, there are ways to game it, and multiple ways to gain panache.
That's kinda the jist of it but I hate how this video gives the absolute worst examples and uses only basic combats with nothing else other than standard combatants. I respect his opinion but most PF2 people will disagree and have actual factual evidence to back up why he's wrong about certain things. TTRPG's are always going to have somewhat blander combat for people who play alot of videogames and are used to weapons and characters having dozens of modifiers.For perspective I am a 5e player and have no PF2 experience so take this with a grain of salt. The take away message I got from his video was that because of PF2 crunchiness and very robust feat system, this tends to player characters being over specialized which leads to characters being one trick ponies in combat whereas in 5e because it's less crunchy mechanically with less character customization, characters tend not to be as specialized which leads to more viable options in combat. Plus if both systems are kind of repetitive in combat, might as well go with the less complex system.