Trying to eventually figure out how agile weapons stack up against things like greatsword. I created this very simplified spreadsheet to get an idea. Would love feedback/thoughts from anyone. I’m still figuring out the PF 2 rules
I’ll take a look at your sheet this evening, but my impression (mainly because of how Striking runes work) is that Agile gives only a minor benefit (except for Agile Grace Fighters and Flurry Rangers) and doesn’t put those smaller weapons on par with big ones most of the time.
Some important quirks of the system:
- A weapon’s damage die becomes much more important as you level now. Striking Runes (which, along with Potency Runes, the game math expects you get at the same level they become available) make a weapon do 2, 3, and finally 4 of its damage die instead of just 1. This means the difference between a d4 weapon and a d8 weapon eventually becomes 4d4 vs 4d8, averaging 10 vs 18. Meanwhile, damage from your ability score is mostly static (typically going from 4 to 6 if that’s your primary class ability score), so losing out on that damage by being a Dex melee attacker other than the Thief Rogue (the only class and subclass combo that gets to add Dex to damage with certain weapons in 2e) doesn’t hurt you nearly as much as it used to.
- You get some good static damage boosts from other sources as you level, now. Weapon Specialization and its upgrade add a big chunk of extra damage.
- Hit bonuses are king. Whatever else is going on, you 100% want to keep your weapon’s Potency Rune at the highest tier you have available. This is also what makes Fighters so good. The reason hit bonuses help so much is the new critical success rule. You get a crit if you beat a DC (AC is a DC, which is relevant to a lot of conditions) by 10 or more, even if you didn’t roll a 20. The game math is balanced around a martial having about a 50-55% chance to hit an on-level enemy with the first attack. So you typically hit on a 10. 10 above that is 20, so the crit rule doesn’t help there. However, if you hit on an 8, like Fighters do, you also crit on 18, 19, and 20. Each additional number you crit on adds an extra 5% to your average damage per attack, which is the same amount hitting on an additional number adds. So going from hitting on 10 and critting on 20 to hitting on 8 and critting on 18-20 actually adds 20% to your expected damage for that attack.
In other words, that piddly +1 to attack rolls from the Bard cantrip? It’s actually giving martials a +10% boost on their first attack each round. And the +1 damage.
- Flanking is really important. Even without a Rogue in the party, -2 to the enemy’s AC is the same as a +2 to attack rolls. And it’s a circumstance penalty, a pretty rare type, so it stacks with status penalties from conditions like Frightened or Sickened (which don’t stack with each other, by the way, but can both have values above 1) and bonuses to the attack roll (such as the status bonus from Inspire Courage or Bless). Stacking up the overlapping effects like this is how you dominate combat in 2e. In 1e, it was somewhat similar, except there where a dozen or more different types of effects to manage. Much more reasonable now.
- For most combatants, making a third swing is a waste. It’s typically a “crit or miss” situation and does little for your real damage output. Some other options are a defensive action (Raise a Shield, casting the Shield cantrip, parry [which bizarrely provokes attacks of opportunity], etc), moving away from the enemy so they have to spend an action catching up (some enemies have 3-action super attacks, so depriving them of just one action by making them move can be crushing), moving to flank before you attack, retrieving an item to use next turn (hard to do with both hands full, though), attempting a Recall Knowledge to identify the creature and learn a bit about it, Seek for an enemy that has become Undetected or Hidden, Point Out such an enemy you have found so that everyone else sees it too, and Take Cover to gain a bonus to AC from nearby cover or raise the bonus if you are already in cover.
- In Pf2e, the roller always wins a tie. This means attacks that roll something against a DC have an inherent 5% advantage over things like spells that force the target to make a save.
That ended up rather longer than I thought it would.
I put together something similar that factors in crit chances and the Deadly and Fatal traits since those are the big ones. There are a lot of traits to account for, though, so plenty of weapons won’t quite work with this. Backstabber, Backswing, Forceful, Sweep, and Twin will all have effects. Still, it gives you a pretty realistic perspective of how powerful various weapons are, you can adjust for whatever runes are on your weapon.