D&D (2024) UA 8 Barbarian Discussion

Well, you don't have to make it a strategic choice. One of the first Brutal Strike options is knockback, and you don't need any strategic use for that to just be a fun mechanic. Wading into a crowd of foes and just sending them flying as you swing your weapon around helps, not hinders, the "hit stuff hard" feel of the class.

Anyway, I updated my spreadsheet to figure out how this affected damage rates. Here are two graphs, one for a 60% base accuracy and one for an 80% base accuracy, using the Wild Heart subclass (ie: no extra damage factors from the subclass). The X axis is level. If it seems necessary, I can revise things to provide chart vs AC instead of by level.

The build is PAM/GWM/Charger for feats, at levels 4, 8, and 12, respectively. The weapon is a glaive with Graze.

EDIT: Fixed an error in the graphs.

FJnQiAD.png

TICm8Fq.png


All four options are using Reckless Attack. The purple (4th) line is not using Brutal Strike. The red (2nd) line is using Brutal Strike. The green (3rd) line is using Brutal Strike with a secondary source of advantage. And the blue (1st) line shows how Brutal Critical compares.

At 60% base accuracy, purple and red are nearly identical until level 17. At the higher 80% accuracy, red has gained more of an edge. This shows that Brutal Strike should usually be at least as good as the default advantage that Reckless Attack would give, and is an improvement at higher base accuracy and higher levels.

Brutal Critical is better in raw damage than Brutal Strike at low accuracy, between levels 13 and 16. Brutal Strike is about on par with it outside that range, and generally better if you can get a secondary source of advantage.

Edit 2:

Berserkser would get a little bit more out of Brutal Critical because of the extra Retaliation attack it can perform. Here's a graph for that:
d2ti2CQ.png
 
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While reviewing things for the above post on damage, I realized that Charger synergizes incredibly well with Forceful Blow. You knock the opponent back 15 feet, and can then immediately move towards it up to half your speed (so up to 20 feet without other adjustments), which is more than enough to trigger the 10 foot move requirement to use Charger. So you can use Charger at least as often as you can land that first hit.

And in terms of pushing people around, add in the World Tree subclass for Push weapon mastery and 20' reach with your polearm. So now you can:

1st strike: 15' Forceful Blow + 10' Push
Move 20' towards target from Forceful Blow bonus
2nd strike: 10' Charger push + 10' Push
Use normal movement to close at least 10', to get target back within 20' reach
3rd strike: extra Polearm Master strike + 10' Push

For a total pushback of 55' (or 45' if you used Charger for damage instead).

It would be amusing to use this to forcefully isolate a target and then let the monk go and 1v1 against it, given the solo tanking buffs monk got this UA.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I think that's the area where we will just have to agree to disagree. I think there are plenty of areas for this kind of decision making on rogues, rangers, many fighters, and even now the monk. But to me the barb is the relaxed casual class, little thought, full awesome.
I dunno, I feel like the Barbarian and the Champion are both used as excuses to prevent each other from getting any actuality interesting features. I say to heck with it, let everyone have interesting features. It’s not like having one choice to make starting at 9th level suddenly makes the Barbarian too complex to handle. If you really want an auto-pilot Barbarian, you could do worse than just always using brutal strike whenever you reckless attack.
 

Stalker0

Legend
If you really want an auto-pilot Barbarian, you could do worse than just always using brutal strike whenever you reckless attack.
Right, which means you are still in the same mess that the 2014 barb is in. You're not really gaining much at higher levels (as the chart above shows), which has been the number 1 complaint with the barb, at some point it just stops being worth getting more levels in the class.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I have never,

I truly have no idea why wotc thinks these featutes are equal to 7th and 9th level spells in termsof oomph. High level play is just not exciting when it comes to martial class design. I dont get it.

shrug

They seem to expect the martial to fantasize about doing the same thing for 20 combats in a row, while spellcasters fantasize about that one amazing moment.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
This is the part I want to dig in on. I think people are making the assumption that I am saying "I would rather keep brutal critical".

I don't...I think brutal critical is a bad ability and should go, I am just not sure this is the right replacement. Is the barbarian class the place we want to insert more strategic choices, or should it just remain a class that walks up and beats the crap out of you, no real thought, just raw awesome.

In other words, should there just be a new ability that adds to the barb's awesomeness all the time, no choice, no thought, just more awesome.

I've had 3 different barb players in my games, and all of them are traditionally "intellectual, strategic players". But what they enjoyed about the barb was just cutting loose, sitting back and just feeling invincible, wading into enemies without a care in the world. So to me that is the main strength of the barb, and so debating between whether option A or B in a given round is the best choice I am not sure if that is the best fit for the barb class.

I can understand that. And I don't know if you are right or not. None of the fixes I made to Barbarian included something like this.

But, then again, every player I've seen attempt to wade into enemies and feel invincible.... needed the healer to keep them alive, and not passively, I mean they generally were one of the first PCs to drop to zero hp. Traditionally at lower levels, but still. So, I don't see that playstyle as highly viable.

And, the things you can DO with brutal strike fit the fantasy. Even if the idea of making a tactical choice isn't your preference.
 

Right, which means you are still in the same mess that the 2014 barb is in. You're not really gaining much at higher levels (as the chart above shows), which has been the number 1 complaint with the barb, at some point it just stops being worth getting more levels in the class.
Caveat: Personal opinion only.

Having done a ton of these spreadsheet models for various classes, I don't feel like the barbarian is lacking in damage. Even the low-damage subclasses are comparable to good fighter subclasses (with averaged out novas, rather than particular spikes), and the Berserker is well above that.

What always felt lacking was gaining levels and not getting anything new or interesting. Brutal Critical steps up theoretical average damage, but it isn't something you do. It's just a bonus on the rare chance that you crit. Relentless Rage and Persistent Rage were nice bonuses in theory, but may have never actually come up in play. (Still cool when they did, but not a strong motivator in and of themselves.) Indomitable Might was of marginal value because very little made use of a Strength check.

So the issue with going up levels in barbarian was that it was boring. At best you might look forward to a subclass feature like Retaliation or flight. But there was precious little motivation from the class itself to keep progressing levels.

Brutal Strike doesn't improve on damage over Brutal Critical to any significant amount, but it lets you do things. They don't have to be tactically specialized, but they give you "Grog smash!" moments that let you do something cool. And that is worth vastly more than a bit more damage for motivating someone to want to gain more levels in this type of class.

Summary: I don't think it was so much the lack of damage that people complained about (Brutal Critical's low average damage boost is more due to the rarity of crits than the damage itself), but the lack of anything meaningful to look forward to. Brutal Strike and its improvements provide that meaningful something, along with Primal Knowledge making Indomitable Might actually mean something as well.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Right, which means you are still in the same mess that the 2014 barb is in. You're not really gaining much at higher levels (as the chart above shows), which has been the number 1 complaint with the barb, at some point it just stops being worth getting more levels in the class.
Well, sure. If your argument is “Barbarians don’t get significant enough high-level features,” I’d certainly agree. But, brutal strike is at least a step in the right direction. It’s still not much of a DPR increase, but it is a slightly higher DPR increase at 60% accuracy even if you always use it; it adds some additional non-damage combat utility and tactical value; and it gives the player the ability to decide when and if they want to use it. It’s still a pretty weak feature, but it is a better feature than brutal critical in every way, and with the playtest being very close to ending, I guarantee we’ll be stuck with brutal critical unless brutal strike passes the 60% test.

It’s a bit like how we often end up needing to vote in the US. Neither option is actually good but one is significantly worse, so we have to grit our teeth and support the least-worst option.
 


Brutal Strike doesn't improve on damage over Brutal Critical to any significant amount, but it lets you do things. They don't have to be tactically specialized, but they give you "Grog smash!" moments that let you do something cool. And that is worth vastly more than a bit more damage for motivating someone to want to gain more levels in this type of class.

Summary: I don't think it was so much the lack of damage that people complained about (Brutal Critical's low average damage boost is more due to the rarity of crits than the damage itself), but the lack of anything meaningful to look forward to. Brutal Strike and its improvements provide that meaningful something, along with Primal Knowledge making Indomitable Might actually mean something as well.
It also encourages both decision making and teamwork if it works the way I think. In 5e the main buff someone can give an ally is Advantage - and if they already have it there's limited teamwork. With the "classic" barbarian if someone has knocked the barbarian's target prone the barbarian says 'thank you' and then ... just doesn't reckless attack. With the current OneD&D version the barbarian says 'thank you' and then either hamstrings them to prevent them moving after they stand back up next turn or yeets them as well as doing extra damage with their reckless attack.

I'd rather tweak things so that reckless attack can be done in two ways in exchange for disadvantage:
  • Advantage
  • 1d10 extra damage
And then the upgrades come in later. Give choices - accuracy or damage.
 

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