Pathfinder Playtest – First Mock Combats
Our final playtest session before we got into an actual campaign consisted heavily of some mock combats. We did two encounters in total. The first one was a battle with some goblins. The second was a harder encounter with some hobgoblins. Overall we got a good feel for combat as a whole for our characters and how things like the action economy functioned. I’ll touch on some of the big things here.
Action Economy and General Play
The one thing I’ve actually come to really enjoy from the Playtest is how the action economy functions. Three actions allows for a lot of strategic diversity during play. A character has the potential to move twice and attack, move once and attack twice, move once then cast a one action buff then attack, and numerous other combinations. The versatility and options I had felt very Pathfinder to me. Strategically diverse while also being simple and understandable. The only drawback to this that I can potentially see is the triple movement action. The ability for an average humanoid to move 75ft in one round is unbelievably effective, especially when coupled with the point I’ll touch on next.
Designating attacks of opportunity to fighters hurts a party without fighters. Locking down combatants in melee to try and get a few extra hits in has always been an important part of combat and the focus of a lot of martial characters. By removing this aspect for the majority of characters you allow enemies to circumvent whatever ‘tank’ you try to put in place easily and get to the squishy targets with little to no hinderance. I found this extremely off putting for melee classes as it limits their options in combat. Casters however, also had some strange hurdles to overcome.
While relying on spells, casters end up being nerfed a bit in the number of spells they get in the playtest, which is a much smaller amount than in Pathfinder, due to no bonus spells from ability scores. To supplement this, they have newly buffed cantrips that feel far more effective. The only problem here is there are some cantrips that are obviously stronger than the others. Electric arc was the stand out one for me. This cantrip deals 1d6 damage to up to 2 creatures. The creatures get a reflex save to avoid it but still take half damage on a successful save, requiring a critical success to be unscathed. Due to this unlikely hood, casters can reliably pump out 1d6/2 minimum to two targets for two actions every round. Compare that to magic missile which deals 1d4 +1 per action and the difference between a cantrip and first level spell becomes questionable.
On top of the aggressive cantrip issue, some spells are just ineffective or rendered useless by other abilities. Slotted cleric spells are as effective as bard cantrip abilities. Certain status effects are extremely powerful and effective while others feel lackluster and wanting. It may be because we’re a caster heavy party, but overall spells feel like there are a clear “best choice” for most situations. This is only exemplified with some spells being on multiple class’s spell lists and without planning all of us who were able to take certain spells, having and using them in combat. The only thing I can really say about this is I don’t feel the system is overall balanced. It needs some drastic shifts in certain abilities, and too many pieces of the system need to be refactored and adjusted.
For the foreseeable future, my coverage of the playtest is going to be held back a bit. If any significant changes occur that I want to touch on I’ll do some follow up posts. For the most part though, I think I’ve expressed our team’s overall opinion of the playtest as it currently stands. I think Paizo has their work cut out for them, but I’m excited and hopeful for the team to rise to the occasion and make another system that we can enjoy for countless hours. If I seem critical of the system, know that it’s only because I care. I want Pathfinder 2.0 to be the best possible system it can be. I see tremendous potential in the playtest. I just want to make sure the problems are brought out where I see them. Check out our campaign we’ve been building towards, every Saturday on Twitch.tv/starcalledstudios where we’ll be updating our game to accommodate any playtest changes as they come.
If you agree or disagree with any of these opinions we want to hear about it. Reply to us on Social Media and start a dialogue, or join our Discord. Just remember to keep it civil. These are just opinions and we’re not trying to personally attack anyone with them. Also, this playtest can only get better if we reply to paizo, so please go to http://paizo.com/pathfinderplaytest and make sure your voice is heard if you’re participating in the playtest.