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Pathfinder 2E Taking20's Illusion of Choice - Breaking it Down

!DWolf

Explorer
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.
That might be what he’s is saying but to provide context on what is actually happening to a non-pf2e player:
  1. pathfinder 2e has a large amount of mechanical support for encounters that are NOT straight combat (that is a monster appears and attacks until defeated, final fantasy style).
  2. Cody runs only straight combat encounters.
  3. thus the system feels over-designed or too complex to him because of #1 and #2.
  4. since he only runs straight combat encounters his players know pretty much what to do and so ‘optimize’ to face it. He calls this the “illusion of choice” and blames it on the system and not himself from #2.
  5. when people pointed out the above and suggested he change #2 (which would also fix #3 and #4), he felt personally attacked as not being creative and lashed out.
  6. he then used a badly done and cherry-picked example to try and prove point #4, completely ignoring the fact that the #4 stems from #2 and running a variety of encounters instead of straight combat after straight combat would fix the issue.
So that’s it in a nutshell. The thing is if he just wants a system to do straight combat then 5e might be a better choice - but he can’t admit #2 so he has to blame pf2e which is what everybody is reacting to.
 

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Retreater

Legend
That might be what he’s is saying but to provide context on what is actually happening to a non-pf2e player:
  1. pathfinder 2e has a large amount of mechanical support for encounters that are NOT straight combat (that is a monster appears and attacks until defeated, final fantasy style).
  2. Cody runs only straight combat encounters.
  3. thus the system feels over-designed or too complex to him because of #1 and #2.
  4. since he only runs straight combat encounters his players know pretty much what to do and so ‘optimize’ to face it. He calls this the “illusion of choice” and blames it on the system and not himself from #2.
  5. when people pointed out the above and suggested he change #2 (which would also fix #3 and #4), he felt personally attacked as not being creative and lashed out.
  6. he then used a badly done and cherry-picked example to try and prove point #4, completely ignoring the fact that the #4 stems from #2 and running a variety of encounters instead of straight combat after straight combat would fix the issue.
So that’s it in a nutshell. The thing is if he just wants a system to do straight combat then 5e might be a better choice - but he can’t admit #2 so he has to blame pf2e which is what everybody is reacting to.
I don't know about saying he only does straight combat encounters. He mentions in the second video some interesting encounters and creative solutions his players have done.
I get where he's coming from, just in a different direction. Personally I've come to the conclusion that I don't need the complexity that PF2 offers. I can run a tactical, thrilling fast paced adventure using any system. Having one that doesn't use a 600+ page rulebook and character creation software is the option I'm pursuing now.
 

!DWolf

Explorer
I don't know about saying he only does straight combat encounters. He mentions in the second video some interesting encounters and creative solutions his players have done.
Turning into a fly and spying on people might be creative but it is not an encounter by pf2s definition (time is precisely measured in six second increments). Look at the encounter examples he actually gave: a chimera in a mountain pass, a mimic in a room, ghouls and ghasts somewhere, and wights attacking a fighter and ranger. In all these he has assumed what happens is the exactly same - the monster shows up and attacks until defeated. His players fall into ‘optimal’ routines because he is presenting them (in combat) with variations of the same scenario over and over again and they have optimized for it. The fact that he blames the system for him doing that and the subsequent effects on his game (characters falling into ‘optimal routines’) is why people are calling him out.

Side Note: you can tell that he has assumed straight combat because he says the optimal routine problem is exemplified by these scenarios: but as soon as you change them to be something other than straight combat, then the ‘optimal’ routine problem is revealed to be a lie. Take the ranger in the chimera example: the rangers ‘optimal’ routine (hunt prey and then make attacks until target is dead) completely breaks down if the chimera is performing a hit-and-run over hostile terrain and ends each turn with no line of effect to the party and obstacles and hazards between them. Likewise if the ghoul and ghast encounter is an infinite number of ghouls and ghast emerging from a set of submerged tunnels in a vertical cave system that is rapidly flooding with water (because it’s raining), then the rangers ‘optimal’ action is probably not going to be hunt prey, shoot target until dead.

Further note: I am running pregens through my death traps. Neither the ranger Harsk nor the swashbuckler Jirelle seem to have ‘optimal’ routines that it appears they must do every turn to be effective. Quite the opposite - they have a wide variety of equally viable actions that they are forced to choose between such that even I, who have perfect information about the situation, finds it impossible to choose the ‘optimal’ action.
I get where he's coming from, just in a different direction. Personally I've come to the conclusion that I don't need the complexity that PF2 offers. I can run a tactical, thrilling fast paced adventure using any system. Having one that doesn't use a 600+ page rulebook and character creation software is the option I'm pursuing now.
Right and if he had just said that everyone would have just shrugged and moved on. But he instead blamed the system for a problem he created and then got super defensive about it when people pointed that out.
 

Also, NONE of the routines his players use are optimal in the first place, Cody is just convinced they are because he's bringing baggage from earlier systems where they would have been. There are usually better things to do than attack a third time (which puts it at a high penalty, unless the player has one very specific build) as the simplest example.

For some reason, there's a handful of people that can't wrap their head around the idea that whats optimal in Pathfinder 2e isn't the same as whats optimal in 1e or 5e. I have a group that handles severe and extreme encounters pretty safely, and did so at most points in the game (we skipped some levels to get it done in a year) from 1 to 17, I still get lectured by people who are getting TPKed about how they're doing the optimal thing.
 

Retreater

Legend
Also, NONE of the routines his players use are optimal in the first place, Cody is just convinced they are because he's bringing baggage from earlier systems where they would have been. There are usually better things to do than attack a third time (which puts it at a high penalty, unless the player has one very specific build) as the simplest example.

For some reason, there's a handful of people that can't wrap their head around the idea that whats optimal in Pathfinder 2e isn't the same as whats optimal in 1e or 5e. I have a group that handles severe and extreme encounters pretty safely, and did so at most points in the game (we skipped some levels to get it done in a year) from 1 to 17, I still get lectured by people who are getting TPKed about how they're doing the optimal thing.
I know I've posted frequently about our TPKs in PF2. I hope you didn't take them as me lecturing you.
For us, usually if we did a do-over and changed our tactics after the TPK or with new characters, the party did much better. But then another session or two, we'd have a new TPK. It just got too exhausting and frustrating, combined with struggling with the online VTT and problem player dynamics (honestly the worst part of it).
 

I know I've posted frequently about our TPKs in PF2. I hope you didn't take them as me lecturing you.
For us, usually if we did a do-over and changed our tactics after the TPK or with new characters, the party did much better. But then another session or two, we'd have a new TPK. It just got too exhausting and frustrating, combined with struggling with the online VTT and problem player dynamics (honestly the worst part of it).
No worries, I wasn't thinking of anything specific, I didn't get the sense you thought your party was especially optimal, more like you were caught between their insistence on playing the module as RAW as possible, their unwillingness to take responsibility for that choiceby 'getting gud' so to speak, and one GM mistake (the thing with the door) I personally would have compensated the party for with adjustments.
 

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