Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Epic Review - Ultimate Combat Part 1

This is a review of the Ultimate Combat for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as published by Paizo, under the OGL.

With 3 20 level classes to cover in addition over two hundred feats, this will be a 2 or 3 part review. Without further adieu....the review:

From Paizo's Page:
Seize the initiative and chop your foes to pieces with this exhaustive guide to the art of martial combat in this exciting new rulebook for the smash-hit Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, suitable for players and Game Masters alike!
This comprehensive 256-page hardcover reference reveals the martial secrets of the Pathfinder RPG rules like never before! Tons of new tricks and techniques for combat-oriented character classes put a sharp edge on your weapons and a sure step in your tactics, ranging from new barbarian rage powers, new cavalier orders, tons of new rogue talents, and more than 60 new archetypes for nearly every Pathfinder RPG character class, including spellcasters like wizards and clerics.
Ultimate Combat also introduces three new Pathfinder RPG classes: the ninja, samurai, and gunslinger! The ninja blends the subterfuge of the rogue with high-flying martial arts and assassination techniques. The samurai is an unstoppable armored warrior who lives by a strong code of honor—with or without a master. The gunslinger combines the fighter’s martial prowess with a new grit mechanic that allows her to pull off fantastic acts with a pistol or rifle. All this plus tons of new armor and weapons, a complete treatment of firearms in the Pathfinder RPG, a vast array of martial arts, finishing moves, vehicle combat, duels, and new combat-oriented spells for every spellcasting class in the game!
    Ultimate Combat includes:
  • New player character options for 14 Pathfinder RPG base classes, including alchemist discoveries, barbarian rage powers, cavalier orders, combat-cleric archetypes, animal shaman druids, new fighter archetypes like gladiator and armor master, inquisitor archetypes like witch-hunter or spellbreaker, combat-themed magus arcana, monk archetypes based on mastery of martial arts, new paladin archetypes like angelic warrior, ranger archetypes like big game hunter and trapper, new rogue tricks, and wizard archetypes like the gunmage
  • The ninja, samurai, and gunslinger, brand-new 20-level alternate classes specially designed to get the most out of combat
  • Hundreds of new combat-oriented feats including martial arts feat trees, finishing moves, and combination feats
  • In-depth overviews on a variety of combat-related topics, such as armor, Asian weapons, duels, fighting schools, guns, siege weapons, and more
  • A complete system covering vehicle combat, including wagons, boats, airships, and more
  • Tons of optional combat rules like called shots, armor as damage reduction, and new ways to track character health
  • …and much, much more!
This book promises a LOT. But if you're expecting your two-handed fighter who already does massive damage with every hit to get even more power, this isn't where to look. Ultimate Combat yes, but other aspects.

Part 1 will cover the new classes.

First Glance: The cover art grabs you right away, another great Wayne Reynolds cover. Flipping through the book, I see lots of new options, Eastern Options, from weapons to armor. A New Base class: The gunslinger, and two alt classes, the ninja and the samurai.

Main Review:
Chapter 1: Classes
First and foremost is the Gunslinger. The most anticipated and yet hated class in the book. I personally love the class. I don’t think the guns themselves do quite enough damage, but let’s cover the class first. The class starts with the Gunsmith feat, which helps alleviate the excessive cost of ammunition in early firearms era. The class is based on the fighter, but with a few changes. 4+int skill points, light armor, and of course proficiency in firearms. Grit and deeds, this is what makes the Gunslinger. Deeds are a type of talent powered by the wisdom based grit. Used in various circumstances to perform cinematic stunts, everything from the gunslinger’s dodge, to the utility shot to scoot an unattended a hat… At 3rd and every 4 levels after gunslingers gain access to more powerful deeds.
Gunfighters get bonus feats and gun training similar to a fighter. Guntraining gets a damage bonus equal to their DEX bonus for one type of firearm per advance. Nimble grants a +1 dodge bonus while wearing no or light armor at +1/4 levels beyond 2nd.

This is a great class, and with the additional archetypes allows much more variation. While it's not for everyone it is a solid class.

OK, so you can't have an Asian themed game without ninjas...well, you can't but it's not really the same. this is one of the hotly debated class changes. Some felt the ninja could be easily done with just rogue talents. To a certain extent, this could have been done. But, I prefer seeing an alternate class, with ki. The ninja is an alternate class, this it counts AS a rogue, which means no Rogue-Ninjas. There is some play between the two classes as a rogue may take ninja tricks and a ninja may take rogue tricks, further blurring the line between the two classes.

I like the class, and in one of my Play-by-post games I'm going to get to see one in action.

Samurai are an alternate Cavalier class. I'm not usually a cavalier fan personally. I'd definitely play a samurai before I'd play a cavalier, as I like resolve more than tactician. In addition, the honorable stand and weapon expertise abilities are more along my play styles. Last Stand is an especially cool ability making the samurai nigh unstoppable once per day. Weapons deal minimum damage except on criticals, and they cant be killed by by opponents that are not the target of his challenge. Lastly samurai get an order just like cavaliers. (Note, the samurai really feels like an archetype. and perhaps should have been written as one.)

Sadly neither ninja, nor samurai receive archetypes in this book, though the gunslingers got four.

In part 2 I will be covering the archetypes. So it's more a part 1.5