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why paladins (smite) are powerful: action economy efficiency

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
So

I *think* most people will agree that the Paladin is a very powerful class in 5e - perhaps one of the few that are probably a little bit OP (esp in a game with few combats per long rests).

A big part of that is the power to smite - to "burn" spell slots to do more damage when hitting a foe with a weapon. At first glance, this seems like an inefficient use of spell slots. For example, a paladin could cast bless and give +1d4 to hit to 3 people (including herself). If *two* more attacks land in a fight that would have missed without the bless spell (a reasonable number), those 2 attacks will probably do more damage than the 2d8 that spell slots would have done if, instead of being cast as bless, was used to power a smite.

Yet, despite this, both from personal experience as a GM running a game with a paladin, or from reading the boards here, a paladin smiting away is a thing to behold. WHY?

Because while it's not very "efficient" to use your spell slots as smite, it's very efficient *action wise*. Casting a spell takes an action usually. An action you could use to attack instead. Smiting allows you to use your spell slots and attack at the same time.

It's one of the reasons I'm becoming a bit hesitant about the hexblade after using it for a while in a pbp game - every round you cast is a round you are not attacking (or vice versa)*. That is what the "gish" in pathfinder was (the magus) - a class that could cast and attack in the same round, and why it was very powerful indeed.

So that's why the Paladin is good

* the hexblade *can* take an invocation that allows him to smite like a paladin, but he only has 2 spell slots for 90% of most campaigns, so it's not so great - and it's an invocation he can't use on something else.
 

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S'mon

Legend
Nova-ing is always very powerful because by front loading damage you end fights early, you take out the most powerful monsters early, the party takes less damage and is stronger for the next fight.
 

Autumn Bask

Villager
Nova-ing is always very powerful because by front loading damage you end fights early, you take out the most powerful monsters early, the party takes less damage and is stronger for the next fight.
Exactly this. And on top of that, Paladins are a killer support class, so even if one is excelling more in the party than everyone else, few people are ever going to resent them for it because they're also helping to keep everyone alive.

I can somewhat forgive this though, given that Paladins have the most roleplaying restrictions of any class, besides maybe Warlock. The party needs some reason to keep that stubborn bastard around.
 


It is rumored if you say Paladin three times, you can summon certain forum members, similar to the situations like Bloody Mary or Candyman....
 

Scott Graves

First Post
I can somewhat forgive this though, given that Paladins have the most roleplaying restrictions of any class, besides maybe Warlock. The party needs some reason to keep that stubborn bastard around.
I find the Ranger is pretty high up on the butt kick scale. The one in my party at 5th level fired 36 point cruise missiles fairly regularly. Two of those a round and some big things go bye bye pretty fast.
 

Dausuul

Legend
On top of all that, the interaction of smite with the crit rules means a paladin wanting to be a little more conservative in their use of spell slots can wait till they score a 20, then turn the smite into a double-damage blast.

And, on top of that, there is no per-turn limit to the use of smite, unlike most such features. So a paladin needing to pull out all the stops can use a smite on every hit; up to twice per round with Extra Attack, or even three times if you can arrange a bonus action attack (e.g., with Polearm Master).
 

Because while it's not very "efficient" to use your spell slots as smite, it's very efficient *action wise*. Casting a spell takes an action usually. An action you could use to attack instead. Smiting allows you to use your spell slots and attack at the same time.
Absolutely this. I've looked over the smite spells that the paladin has, and they generally pale in comparison to the damage the simple smite has without using a bonus action. I think that the simple smite should have been the same as the smite spells, using a Bonus Action to cast and triggering on the next hit. Not only would this limit smite to once per round, but it would remove the option of using the bonus action for things like Great Weapon Master's or Polearm Master's bonus action attack. This also would remove the tactic of saving smites for critical hits.
 

Scott Graves

First Post
On top of all that, the interaction of smite with the crit rules means a paladin wanting to be a little more conservative in their use of spell slots can wait till they score a 20, then turn the smite into a double-damage blast.

And, on top of that, there is no per-turn limit to the use of smite, unlike most such features. So a paladin needing to pull out all the stops can use a smite on every hit; up to twice per round with Extra Attack, or even three times if you can arrange a bonus action attack (e.g., with Polearm Master).
That's why the Black Dragon I had them fight didn't last long... The Paladin is very creative at using his Persuasion ability to piss off the big bad-guys to come after him. I made the black dragon the father of the Black Dragonkin they killed coming for revenge. So the paladin waves the sword in the air and says "Hey, does this sword look familiar? Yeah, after a took it from him I stabbed it through your son's cowardly heart!" Then he rolled a 17 for a net 23 on the persuasion roll to get the dragon to attack him. He hit the dragon twice in a row, once with a crit, both adding his 2nd level smites. Kapow! The dragon then took a cruise missile from the Ranger and boy oh boy did that hurt the beast. I think it lost half it's points in the first round.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
So

I *think* most people will agree that the Paladin is a very powerful class in 5e - perhaps one of the few that are probably a little bit OP (esp in a game with few combats per long rests).

A big part of that is the power to smite - to "burn" spell slots to do more damage when hitting a foe with a weapon. At first glance, this seems like an inefficient use of spell slots. For example, a paladin could cast bless and give +1d4 to hit to 3 people (including herself). If *two* more attacks land in a fight that would have missed without the bless spell (a reasonable number), those 2 attacks will probably do more damage than the 2d8 that spell slots would have done if, instead of being cast as bless, was used to power a smite.

Yet, despite this, both from personal experience as a GM running a game with a paladin, or from reading the boards here, a paladin smiting away is a thing to behold. WHY?

Because while it's not very "efficient" to use your spell slots as smite, it's very efficient *action wise*. Casting a spell takes an action usually. An action you could use to attack instead. Smiting allows you to use your spell slots and attack at the same time.

It's one of the reasons I'm becoming a bit hesitant about the hexblade after using it for a while in a pbp game - every round you cast is a round you are not attacking (or vice versa)*. That is what the "gish" in pathfinder was (the magus) - a class that could cast and attack in the same round, and why it was very powerful indeed.

So that's why the Paladin is good

* the hexblade *can* take an invocation that allows him to smite like a paladin, but he only has 2 spell slots for 90% of most campaigns, so it's not so great - and it's an invocation he can't use on something else.
I would say that I find the example unconvincing. Smite is indeed a powerful action economy use but only a subset of combats start with point blank swinging. So, a paladin can bless before they would be smiting and so the bless becomes the "better action economy" because you get its benefits round after round for free for only one slot. That d4 bonus to the saves combined with a decent Con (perhaps Warcaster) helps keep that benefit going for not just the pally but as you say others.

So, I do not disagree on the pally effectiveness or its standing and nova potential. But, the case for action economy of smite vs bless is not that solid in a lot of cases.

Of course, this will vary by table to table - being directly tied to the frequency of "sudden combat onset syndrome" and "short fights".
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
You can't have too much restriction on smite though, otherwise it becomes a fool's game (ie, so much better to just cast bless).

Anyway, [MENTION=6805410]Fradak[/MENTION], [MENTION=59816]FitzTheRuke[/MENTION] we discussed this the other day and my opinion has evolved a bit :)
 

Dausuul

Legend
Absolutely this. I've looked over the smite spells that the paladin has, and they generally pale in comparison to the damage the simple smite has without using a bonus action.
It isn't really the damage that's the issue; the smite spells carry rider effects that make up for the small loss of damage. The problem is the bonus action, the concentration requirement (?!?), and the fact that you risk missing with all attacks and losing the spell.

I think that the simple smite should have been the same as the smite spells, using a Bonus Action to cast and triggering on the next hit. Not only would this limit smite to once per round, but it would remove the option of using the bonus action for things like Great Weapon Master's or Polearm Master's bonus action attack. This also would remove the tactic of saving smites for critical hits.
I entirely agree that the smite spells and the regular smite should work the same way. However, I would not just take the spell rules and apply them to smite--that's going too far in the other direction. The spells are kinda crap.

I like requiring a bonus action to declare a smite on that turn. If one were to get rid of the concentration requirement, and not expend a spell or slot unless you actually hit, I think that would go far to bring smite into balance. It would be a little tricky to figure out the exact wording of the rules, but that seems like a reasonable place to me.
 

jgsugden

Hero
For those seeking similar benefits without the Smite, Armor of Agathys for a melee spellcaster is very efficient and also costs no slots in combat as you usually cast it before combat. It also grants some temporary hps, but the beauty is the damage dealt. My Hexblade with 5th level slots dealt a lot of damage with that spell. A 5th level slot often deals 50 or 75 damage (although a spell, breath weapon, etc... can reduce that to 0 damage dealt by killing the temp hps before a melee attack). Obviously, it is less targeted, but it is another efficient way to deal action efficient damage, especially at higher levels.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Exactly this. And on top of that, Paladins are a killer support class, so even if one is excelling more in the party than everyone else, few people are ever going to resent them for it because they're also helping to keep everyone alive.

I can somewhat forgive this though, given that Paladins have the most roleplaying restrictions of any class, besides maybe Warlock. The party needs some reason to keep that stubborn bastard around.
Those roleplaying restrictions are also roleplaying supports. I've seen people who are lost when trying to figure out how they are going to roleplay a rogue or wizard, excel at roleplaying a paladin. Those built in "restrictions," as well as the devotion to their god and that god's tenets, provides the framework to build their roleplay.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I do agree paladins are on the front half of the power curve, but for me it's the whole package. Losing their aura at 6th would be a bigger hit than Divine Smite, but really it's how everything fits together reinforce the other parts.

Divine Smite does a bit more damage, but the riders on the Smite spells are generally better. And things like fear scale - making a foe frightened is great at 5th and 15th. But the damage part becomes less and less relevant as a percentage of foe HPs as the levels increase.

The Smite spells are bonus action cast, and only go off on a hit. Since the paladin is not particularly bonus action heavy (except Polearm Mastery paladins), from an economy standpoint this is similar. Not quite as good - multiple hits in the same round can't all get boosted, and you can't decide to throw a bigger spell on a crit. But still close.

Paladin Divine Smite feel the most powerful when you're doing either white room single encounters or running with a DM who regularly goes low on the numebr of encounters per long rest. If you have 1-3 encounters a day, it feels like you can divine smite all the time, while with 6-8 encounters if you try the paladin's slots will run dry very quickly. And if people did 11-13 encounters as often as they did 1-3 (+5 over recommendation to balance -5 under recommendation) you'd see Divine Smite being used very sparingly, all-combat spells like Bless coming up more, and always on or at-will abilities like their save Aura really being a blessing.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
It is rumored if you say Paladin three times, you can summon certain forum members, similar to the situations like Bloody Mary or Candyman....
Gnome Paladin with a rapier
Gnome Paladin with a rapier
Gnome Paladin with -

@#&*#&*NO CARRIER
*Blue has been slain by [MENTION=6799753]lowkey13[/MENTION].
 

Satyrn

First Post
It isn't really the damage that's the issue; the smite spells carry rider effects that make up for the small loss of damage. The problem is the bonus action, the concentration requirement (?!?), and the fact that you risk missing with all attacks and losing the spell.


I entirely agree that the smite spells and the regular smite should work the same way. However, I would not just take the spell rules and apply them to smite--that's going too far in the other direction. The spells are kinda crap.

I like requiring a bonus action to declare a smite on that turn. If one were to get rid of the concentration requirement, and not expend a spell or slot unless you actually hit, I think that would go far to bring smite into balance. It would be a little tricky to figure out the exact wording of the rules, but that seems like a reasonable place to me.
An ugly framework as a starting point:

Before attacking, use a bonus action to channel a spell slot into your melee weapon. The first time you hit this round, you deal extra damage yadda yadda.

If none of your attacks hit this round, the slot is not spent
.
 


Staffan

Adventurer
My experience, with a party where a dwarf paladin is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, is that smite often lets the paladin deal a lot of damage quickly in early fights, which then means that by the later fights the casters still have a lot of juice left in their tanks while the paladin's is running low.

I've almost never seen the PC in question use the Smite spells, however. To me, that suggests that the Smite ability is overpowered compared to those spells. Then again, the paladin in question has the oath of Vengeance which gives him hunter's mark which he'd have to drop in order to use those, so the situation might be different with other paladin types.
 

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