In the second part of this review, I'll be covering the many archetypes and class options in Ultimate Combat.
Alchemists don't get a lot in this book, just a few discoveries, and two archetypes. Some of the discoveries are great though, giving nice variety between the immolation and breath weapon bombs, also explosive missiles is fun for the archer/gunner types. Nauseating flesh is an interesting discovery if you end up fighting purple worms a lot. Also included are poison conversion and siege bomb. The two rage archetypes, are the Beastmorph and the Ragechemist, both nice combat oriented archetypes, though the ragechemist needs a great INT to offset the penalties from the greater strength increases. Beastmorph grants access to beastshape abilities while under mutagen effects.
Being Ultimate combat, it's only fitting that barbarians gain lots of new toys. 32 new rage powers, including 3 totem based chains, dragon, hive and world serpent. There are also some nice upgrades to existing rage powers, bleeding blow to add bleed damage to powerful blow; greater ground breaker (ground breaker), lethal accuracy (surprise accuracy) and greater guarded life (guarded life). Though I think my favorite new rage ability is the eater of magic rage power, which give a second save and possible temporary HP.
The new archetypes range from the Heavy armor wearing Armored Hulk to the Wild Rager. The Armored Hulk I'm a bit leary of, it seems a little too powerful, granting heavy armor proficiency, while eventually retaining full speed at the cost of fast movement, and uncanny dodge lines. The Scared Rager is an interesting archetype especially for people who like body modification in real life. I can see many people playing Dwarven or Half-Orc Scared Ragers. The Sea Reaver is one of my new favorite NPC archetypes, Conan's reavers!! The The Titan Mauler brings back monkey grip albeit without the brokeness. The True Primitive is the classic illiterate barbarian, with a specific armor and proficiency list for a Caveman, I think I'll make one named Geico. Urban Barbarian, interesting mix, they lose medium armor proficiency but get a rage that doesn't cause AC penalties. The Wild Rager...and behold the Frenzied Barbarian returns...not fan of the PC Killer barbarian.
Three new options for bards. The archaeologist, daredevil and dervish dancer. The archaeologist is nice, giving up some of the performance abilities for some roguishness, part bard, part rogue, I like it, and already plan on making a certain whip toting archaeologist icon. The daredevil and dervish dancer are combat bards, replacing knowledge skills with more combat oriented abilities. I can see lots of halfling bard dervish dancers in the future with the dervish blade feat from the Inner Sea Guide. Strength won't matter so much when you're scimitar does d4+4 or 5 and a hefty 18+ crit range. This is really effective at 8th level with Razor's Kiss to have improved critical while using his battle dance. At 12th level, the Dervish Dancer gains Dance of Fury, allowing a full attack while making a move action, and being able to attack at multiple points along the way. I like all these bard options and I can easily see myself playing them.
3 new orders are presented, though I feel the Order of the Tome, probably should have been in Ultimate Magic as they gain the ability to cast from scrolls. The Order of the Seal is the guardian type, similar to the protectors of the grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This cavalier option will make a nice NPC option using the keeper ability.
The 8 new archetypes vary from Beast Rider to the Strategist. The Beast Rider gives up heavy armor for a more powerful exotic mount. The Emissary gains mounted combat as a bonus feat, followed by Mobility, Trick Riding, and Mounted Skirmisher, he's mobile both in the saddle and out of the saddle. The Gendarme is another mounted master, but does not come fully to power until 20th level when he becomes a charging terror, causing triple damage (quad dmg with a lance) and max damage if he criticals, luckily the two archetypes can't be combined. The honor guard is the cavalier bodyguard, pretty simple archetype. The Luring cavalier is interesting, as it is a ranged specialist, allowing the cavalier to challenge at range, and gain ranged attack bonuses. The Musketeer is the first of the archetypes which grant weapon proficiency firearms to the class, in addition to a gifted firearm and nice abilities. The Standard Bearer is the bannerman, one thing it does is just switch the banner and mount abilities. Then he gains nice party bonuses to his allies. The strategist actually makes teamwork feats worthwhile at 4th level when he gains Drill Instructor, granting up to 4 allies use of one his teamwork feats. As I've said, I'm not a huge Cavalier fan, thus I'm not super excited to attempt any of these archetypes, though in my GMing I can see some of them being used.
Combat oriented clerics are presented in this book. The first is the crusader, at the cost of a domain AND one fewer spell each level, he gains access to a slew of bonus feats and the ability to cast a group heal or buff (though at a cost of a slot 3 levels higher, just like a mass spell.) There's a typo on this one, it says you gain a bonus feat at 1st and 5th and every 5 levels, max 6, but at 1st, 5th, 10th 15th and 20th, that's only 5. I'll never use this archetype as a PC. NPC....probably. The Divine Strategist loses a domain, then instead of channel, they gain some initiative bonuses. This archetype falls short, I don't like it. Evangelist lose medium and shield proficiencies, and of course gain perform as a class skill. They gain a partial bardic performance ability at the cost of reduced channeling. I could see using this class. It's not bad...Evangelist of Asmodeus...HAH! The Merciful Healer trades channel utility and his second domain for the ability to remove conditions with their channel, at 8th they get to reroll any 1s rolled on a channel, NICE! Of all the cleric archetypes, I think I like the Merciful Healer the most, it doesn't lose more than it gains. A Fighter/Evangelist Hellknight would be kind of fun though.
Druids gain 4 new archetypes, but 3 are just new shaman types, the Ape, Bat and Boar Shaman. I really like the shamen archetypes, though I prefer the Saurian from Ultimate Magic most. The World Walker is a Ranger/Druid hybrid of sorts, gaining favored terrains in lieu of trackless step and nature's lore. Then at 9th they get to teleport between trees. I'm surprised there's not a more combat oriented shapeshifter archetype in this book.