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    PirateGuy

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    Default Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past 5?

    Was doing the math, and realized that even though my life cleric has a +1 mace, sacred flame seems like a just flat out better option, as 2d8 is a lot more damage than 1d6+3. And even when I get thr boost at level 8 that boosts my melee damage, and even if took weapon master my weapon would deal 2d8+4, when in just a couple levels my sacred flame will deal 3d8!

    Am I wrong or should I not expect my cleric to do much melee attacking as I level up?
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    On a life cleric? Pretty much. Your wisdom is likely better than your Str, you lack proficiencies with better weapons, and propably don't have feats and other abilities that improve your melee attacks. Radiant is also generally better damage type than bludgeoning.

    There are exceptions... if you (or someone else in your party) paralyze the enemy with Hold Person, every melee attack is made with advantage, and automatically crits if it hits. When you would do 4d8 with SF, you could be doing 2d6+3+4d8 with a weapon with no further investment.
    It's Eberron, not ebberon.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    most of the time, this is correct. There are benefits to a melee attack though, since the divine strike damage bonus is multiplied on a crit just like sneak attack is, and sometimes an enemy has deceptively good dex saves compared to their actual armor class. There's also things like magic +x weapons that sacred flame can't really get a similar bonus from anything, poisons if you're into that, and of course having a melee weapon means you can make opportunity attacks without having to take war caster.

    But in either case, I find that past level 5 or 6 you have enough power out of your spell slots that you don't have to worry too much about whether you spend a turn melee attacking or using a cantrip.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by JackPhoenix View Post
    On a life cleric? Pretty much. Your wisdom is likely better than your Str, you lack proficiencies with better weapons, and propably don't have feats and other abilities that improve your melee attacks. Radiant is also generally better damage type than bludgeoning.

    There are exceptions... if you (or someone else in your party) paralyze the enemy with Hold Person, every melee attack is made with advantage, and automatically crits if it hits. When you would do 4d8 with SF, you could be doing 2d6+3+4d8 with a weapon with no further investment.
    Edit: I answered this thinking of the prone condition and not paralyzed. The following is mistaken (though true for attacking a prone enemy)

    Just a small and fairly irrelevant to the discussion at hand correction: ALL attacks within 5 feet of the target are made at advantage. Ranged, Spell, Melee doesn't matter. And melee attacks outside of this range are not made with advantage. Edit: To further clarify the rule for prone, all attacks not made within 5 ft, not only lack advantage but gain disadvantage.
    Last edited by Galithar; 2019-10-12 at 07:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Rfkannen View Post
    Was doing the math, and realized that even though my life cleric has a +1 mace, sacred flame seems like a just flat out better option, as 2d8 is a lot more damage than 1d6+3. And even when I get thr boost at level 8 that boosts my melee damage, and even if took weapon master my weapon would deal 2d8+4, when in just a couple levels my sacred flame will deal 3d8!

    Am I wrong or should I not expect my cleric to do much melee attacking as I level up?
    Depends.

    Remember that Sacred Flame deals no damage on a successful Dexterity save. Boosting attack rolls is usually (note, usually) easier, because you can get weapons that boost your attack roll, and you can get advantage on attack rolls, meaning that you have better chances to land an attack roll than to land a save-or-suck. The thing is, you're also using a mace, and not a weapon that deals equal damage (say, a Quarterstaff in 2 hands, or a Warhammer if you're a Dwarf, or a Longsword or Rapier if you're an Elf), so base damage is already lower, thus making it harder to compare.

    Think of Spiritual Weapon. It deals better damage than Sacred Flame at first (1d8 + spellcasting ability modifier), and only gets outclassed in terms of damage by 11th level, where 1d8 + 4~5 (depending on your Wis score) can't compare to 3d8 (avg. of 8~10 damage from Spiritual Weapon vs. 13~14 from Sacred Flame). If you had a weapon that dealt a base d8 damage (like a Quarterstaff), and used your spellcasting ability score for attack and damage rolls, you could outdamage Sacred Flame pretty easily. (If you take Magic Initiate: Druid, you can get Shillelagh, which allows you to do exactly that with a club or quarterstaff, and you still keep one hand free.)

    However, you're not wrong at a certain point: Sacred Flame is pretty good, since it hits a save rather than AC (which means you can probably land damage on high AC characters, or simply put characters with reactions that hinder attack rolls), and it hits from a distance, which is pretty good. If you lack Shilellagh, or a good Str or Dex score and a solid weapon, Sacred Flame will outperform. Personally, I've used both, and I tend to hit more with my weapon than with Sacred Flame (then again, I also have Produce Flame, which allows an attack roll at a distance, so I got all steps covered anyways). If you feel that making attacks isn't as effective as Sacred Flame, and you don't plan to have a better weapon or get Shillelagh somehow, might as well go for it, even if you have Divine Strike.

    Note that some Cleric domains (Arcana, Grave, Knowledge, Light) boost cantrip damage, which will make Sacred Flame even better (and by extension, Word of Radiance), so YMMV. It really depends on your domain: Arcana, Grave, Knowledge and Light Clerics prefer cantrips, Forge and War Clerics (and to an extent, Tempest) prefer weapons, and the rest could do well with any.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Galithar View Post
    Just a small and fairly irrelevant to the discussion at hand correction: ALL attacks within 5 feet of the target are made at advantage. Ranged, Spell, Melee doesn't matter. And melee attacks outside of this range are not made with advantage.
    Correction to correction: All attacks against paralyzed target have advantage regardless of distance, but only attacks in 5' automaticaly crit. But the OP specifically talked about using a mace, so I didn't considered shooting the target point-blank with a crossbow relevant.
    It's Eberron, not ebberon.
    It's not high magic, it's wide magic.
    And it's definitely not steampunk. The only time steam gets involved is when the fire and water elementals get loose.

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Not "always". It depends on your Domain, the saving throw of opponent, the magic resistance of the opponent, and the AC of the opponent. There is also the fun factor where you're tired of doing the same thing over and over. You want to do something else and don't give a Hoover it's not the absolute best optimal thing you can do.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Alright so normally sacred flame is better, but mace has situational better uses and some good flavor, sounds cool!

    Out of curiosity, how powerful of a magic mace do you think you would need for a mace to be the better choice most of the time?
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Rfkannen View Post
    Am I wrong or should I not expect my cleric to do much melee attacking as I level up?
    The only factor beyond what you mention is that saves are 3 points harder than attack rolls.

    This means that a pure Dex16 against a cleric 5 (Str16 = +6 hit / Wis16 = DC14):
    - AC13 vs Str16 = hit on 7+ (30% miss)
    - Dex16 vs DC14 = saves on 11+ (50% miss)

    - weapon = 1d6+3 * .70 = 4.55
    - cantrip = 2d8 * .50 = 4.5



    So sacred flame is great against armored targets, but no better than melee against agile targets.
    Potent cantrip and Wis20 make sacred flame a sure thing though.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Rfkannen View Post
    Alright so normally sacred flame is better, but mace has situational better uses and some good flavor, sounds cool!

    Out of curiosity, how powerful of a magic mace do you think you would need for a mace to be the better choice most of the time?
    Lightbringer?

    Let's be fair; the vanilla Lightbringer (a mace you can get from a place in the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure) is somewhat decent (grants light as a torch, and deals +1d6 radiant damage while it shines) is a pretty good start, but if you need to know...

    Turn it into a Warhammer, ramp it up to a +3 weapon, increase the extra damage to 2d6 radiant while the weapon shines, and give it 1/long rest Daylight. That makes it quite the menace...and I can speak of it; turns out that I'm currently playing a Life Cleric that follows Lathander on a Rise of Tiamat campaign that followed Lost Mine of Phandelver, so we have Phandalin as our home base. The DM found it fair to give me an upgraded Lightbringer (which is exactly as I mentioned), and it's obviously better than Sacred Flame, even if the attack bonus isn't as large (my Strength is 13, for a +1 bonus, whereas my Wisdom is 20). I tend to switch between the two, using Sacred Flame if I need to hit someone at a distance, and slamming with upgraded Lightbringer if someone gets too close, and I switch between the two. Do note that I also have Magic Initiate: Druid for Produce Flame and Shillelagh, so I already had a decent option for a weapon (I still hold a club just in case Lightbringer isn't available). so it's not like I don't have options. Our group is about to reach the end of the campaign, and it's been fun to wield it.

    Curious thing is, I didn't give my DM a list of magic items I wanted, so all I got was basically shoved on me; that said, I do have a ton of magic items (Bag of Holding which I have since the group trusts me to have the spare, Mythril plate armor which the party INSISTED on me having so that I'd get better AC so that I'd survive, Boots of the Winterlands that the entire party has, "Lesser" Ring of Water Elemental Command that the party INSISTED that I had because of the water breathing property; the only magic item I actually sought for is a Pearl of Power), of which two are definitely OP (the upgraded Lightbringer being one, and a "concentration stone" that gives me another concentration slot). Most of my power comes actually from my build, though, even though I've made good use of nearly every item (I got the Bag of Holding by diving on a pool and taking advantage of water breathing and water walking to get to a dragon's treasure hoard, and I've definitely made good use of two concentration slots for Bless + another spell). Found it necessary to say, since I'm not the kind to rely too much on magic items (I prefer a good build instead), but it's important to give out the full story.

    TL;DR - Lightbringer is a pretty good mace, but Sacred Flame will still remain competitive unless you have a very generous DM.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Expanding more on the fun factor there is also the sense of control. There is an aesthetic difference between the player rolling the d20 to hit versus the DM rolling the die to save. Mechanically it is easier for a player to improve his hit chances, long term and short term, than making it harder for a monster to save, so the player feels the buff. Crunching numbers maybe one attack form averages a point or two higher damage than the other as the levels progress, but in play of the game it doesn't matter. For some people it does matter, and as long as they keep it for their own character and don't tsk tsk another player who doesn't do what they would have done, enjoy. I will optimize, but I'm looking for what's fun for me not what does 1 point more damage than another thing. I want good enough.

    This is not to say I would never use Sacred Flame. It depends on the character and my mood - the fun factor.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Note that some Cleric domains (Arcana, Grave, Knowledge, Light) boost cantrip damage, which will make Sacred Flame even better (and by extension, Word of Radiance), so YMMV. It really depends on your domain: Arcana, Grave, Knowledge and Light Clerics prefer cantrips, Forge and War Clerics (and to an extent, Tempest) prefer weapons, and the rest could do well with any.
    And if you pick up some weapon cantrips, Arcana can do cantrips and weapons. A Polearm Master Nature Cleric (with Shillelagh) also seems pretty functional.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by JackPhoenix View Post
    Correction to correction: All attacks against paralyzed target have advantage regardless of distance, but only attacks in 5' automaticaly crit. But the OP specifically talked about using a mace, so I didn't considered shooting the target point-blank with a crossbow relevant.
    Oh well I feel dumb... I thought we were talking about them being prone...

    Never correct when tired people!!

    Sorry for the horribly mistaken failed attempt to correct lol

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Galithar View Post
    Oh well I feel dumb... I thought we were talking about them being prone...

    Never correct when tired people!!

    Sorry for the horribly mistaken failed attempt to correct lol
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    Mistakes happen. The only thing I might consider doing is editing your earlier post to add a caveat saying "This is incorrect, I was thinking of Prone," so any newcomers to the thread don't get the wrong info. But really, it's not a big deal.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Not "always". It depends on your Domain, the saving throw of opponent, the magic resistance of the opponent, and the AC of the opponent. There is also the fun factor where you're tired of doing the same thing over and over. You want to do something else and don't give a Hoover it's not the absolute best optimal thing you can do.
    This. In general, all melee clerics will usually be better off with a weapon attack. For the rest, I really wouldn't dare to make a generalistic statement (also because even the subclasses that give +wis to a cantrip can work well with melee attacks when combined with the SCAG-cantrips).

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Rfkannen View Post
    Was doing the math, and realized that even though my life cleric has a +1 mace, sacred flame seems like a just flat out better option, as 2d8 is a lot more damage than 1d6+3. And even when I get thr boost at level 8 that boosts my melee damage, and even if took weapon master my weapon would deal 2d8+4, when in just a couple levels my sacred flame will deal 3d8!

    Am I wrong or should I not expect my cleric to do much melee attacking as I level up?
    Its good to know that you have sacred flame to use, but it depends if wisdom is your priority (it doesn't have to be). I myself used SF extensively because I had a better chance of it producing damage.

    IMO, if the party is looking to your life cleric to consistently lay down the smack, that could be the issue.

    I played a hill dwarf life cleric in CoS, much of my time was spent tanking and drawing hits. When needed I could upcast a guiding bolt for damage and use spirit guardians as a self-centered AoE.

    My priorities were keeping the party upright, and drawing hits, and the occasional big spell.

    With that said, most of my cleric spells aside from spirit guardians and the occasional upcasted guiding bolt stunk.... my flaming strike really fizzled.

    So, lean on sacred flame, and do you job, keep the party in the fight.

    Good Luck

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    personally i prefer Toll the Dead. Does more damage and im playing Death Cleric so i can usually hit two enemies.

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Analysis of raw damage falls apart due to other differences between cleric cantrips and weapon attacks.

    1. In most instances, attack rolls are more likely to succeed than forcing saving throws. A +0 modifier to a save is equivalent to 14 AC in terms of chance-to-work for a given ability modifier (ie if you have equal wisdom and strength). Many monsters will be far more likely to be hit by your attacks than to fail their save, especially since low-level monsters tend to have reasonable dex compared to their other stats.

    2. Attack rolls can crit. Save spells cannot.

    3. It’s far easier to gain advantage on attack rolls than it is to impose disadvantage on dex saves. Inversely, it’s usually easier to get disadvantage on attack rolls. However, as far as I am aware, all single-target saving throw-based cantrips require you to see the target, meaning they’re completely useless if you’re say, blinded. Attacking would only require knowing the location of the target to make an attack at disadvantage.

    4. Abilities that allow you to deal additional damage are substantially more common for weapon attacks. This only really works out in the weapons’ favor with multiclassing, for abilities like sneak attack or divine smite. Most abilities that allow cantrips to deal more damage are fairly deep into the classes, like Evoker Wizards and Dragon Sorcerers 6th level abilities. The Sorcerer ability wouldn’t even work for cleric cantrips, since it can’t boost radiant or necrotic damage.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by bid View Post
    The only factor beyond what you mention is that saves are 3 points harder than attack rolls.
    This means that a pure Dex16 against a cleric 5 (Str16 = +6 hit / Wis16 = DC14):
    - AC13 vs Str16 = hit on 7+ (30% miss)
    - Dex16 vs DC14 = saves on 11+ (50% miss)
    - weapon = 1d6+3 * .70 = 4.55
    - cantrip = 2d8 * .50 = 4.5
    I actually started to write about accuracy yesterday but never got around to posting.

    Young Green Dragon is AC 18 Wis/Dex Save +4
    Cleric with Str16 = +6 hit / Wis16 = DC14):
    Cantrip saves on 10+ (55% miss)
    Melee hits on 12+ (55% miss)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rfkannen View Post
    Was doing the math, and realized that even though my life cleric has a +1 mace, sacred flame seems like a just flat out better option
    They both have 45% accuracy but if you have a +1 Mace or Bless spell then you are more likely to hit in melee than with Sacred Flame (or Toll the Dead if you have access to it)
    At Level 8 having D6+4+d8 from Divine Strike is better than the 2D8 from Sacred Flame.

    Hobgoblin Captain AC 17 Dx +2; W+0. Cleric hits on 11+ (50% miss) but monster needs 12+ to save against SF (55% fail) or 14+ vs TtD (65% fail)
    Werewolf AC 11 Dx +1; W+0. Cleric hits on 5+ (20% miss) but monster needs 13+ to save against SF (60% fail) or 14+ vs TtD (65% fail)
    You will want the magic weapon because of its resistance but even without the radiant damage from Divine Strike makes your 80% hit in melee better
    Melee 3b+4.5r *.8 = 6
    SF 9 *.4 = 3.6

    Quote Originally Posted by Rfkannen View Post
    even if took weapon master my weapon would deal 2d8+4, when in just a couple levels my sacred flame will deal 3d8!
    I would never take Weapon Master just to push my damage dice from D6 to D8.

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Now I am reminded of my dislike of Cleric and none of the Domains getting extra attack, even War gets a half-baked way to attack twice a limited times a day.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongobear View Post
    Now I am reminded of my dislike of Cleric and none of the Domains getting extra attack, even War gets a half-baked way to attack twice a limited times a day.
    Quite a few Homebrew ones that do add in an extra attack. The existence of 2 bards and one wizard subclass that get them sets a good boundry for it. Even lines up nice at lv 6.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    Quite a few Homebrew ones that do add in an extra attack. The existence of 2 bards and one wizard subclass that get them sets a good boundry for it. Even lines up nice at lv 6.
    If rogue has still not gotten a subclass with one cleric has a long time to wait.

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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Misterwhisper View Post
    If rogue has still not gotten a subclass with one cleric has a long time to wait.
    Im honestly surprised they haven't at least tossed an UA with one out yet. I'm guessing they don't want to step on the war domains toes but mechanically it's not a hard thing to pull off.

    The rogue is a harder one to nail down with so much tied into sneak attack. The swashbuckler is close with a pseudo mobile built in to free up the bonus action. I think it could be done but not as simple as cleric who get a sub class feature within the range of extra attack where rogues have to either wait to lv 9 or completely reduce the core.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    Im honestly surprised they haven't at least tossed an UA with one out yet. I'm guessing they don't want to step on the war domains toes but mechanically it's not a hard thing to pull off.
    Honestly, War Domain should've just gotten it. It makes the most sense, and they could've given it at 6th in place of their current feature.
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    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Lyracian View Post
    I actually started to write about accuracy yesterday but never got around to posting.

    Young Green Dragon is AC 18 Wis/Dex Save +4
    Cleric with Str16 = +6 hit / Wis16 = DC14):
    Cantrip saves on 10+ (55% miss)
    Melee hits on 12+ (55% miss)
    Precisely.
    That dragon gets a +4 from "armor" and both are equal.
    It shows how easy it is to save from damage.
    Trust but verify. There's usually a reason why I believe you can't do something.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2017

    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    The thing about melee is that you're probably not going to be very good at it. Strangely enough, this means you should do it more than other people sometimes. Mostly due to shoving.

    The opportunity cost of you shoving a target prone is way less than if an optimized paladin or fighter does the same. It's better that the party loses a d6+1 attack to shove someone prone, than a d10+4+10 attack to do the same. So, if you ever get decent initiative, do the shoving for them.

    A cleric is actually quite useful just being a shover/helper with Spirit Guardians doing the rest of the damage for you. Then you've got three options. Cantrip, or draw your mace and smack them, or keep shoving/helping. It's one of the reasons why most of my casters (admittedly mostly druids or clerics), almost always get athletics as a skill. It's very handy to save resources. Proning something or giving advantage is just as good as a cantrip or light attack, or even some lvl1 spells would be to +up party damage in most cases, and here you are, all in heavy armour with crappy attacks, just waiting to be used for shoving or helping instead of doing very little damage each turn.
    Last edited by sambojin; 2019-10-13 at 06:48 PM.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RedKnightGirl

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location

    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Well, for straight damage. If you see an enemy that seems to be made of sacred light, then that enemy probably resists radiant damage and you shouldn't use it.
    yo

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Pex's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2013

    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongobear View Post
    Now I am reminded of my dislike of Cleric and none of the Domains getting extra attack, even War gets a half-baked way to attack twice a limited times a day.
    Spiritual Weapon is the Extra Attack.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Chimera

    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Spiritual Weapon is the Extra Attack.
    Not to mention Spirit Guardians at level 5. 3d8 is more than most normal weapon attacks, delivered to each person within 15 ft. of you at the start of their turns. Those are limited resources, but I think it gives great contrast to Paladins and the like.
    Last edited by AdAstra; 2019-10-13 at 10:50 PM.
    The stars are calling, but let's come up with a good opening line before we answer

    And here's a rat for the road ~(,,_`;;'>

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2014

    Default Re: Am I wrong or is sacred flame always better than melle attacking for clerics past

    Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware of those spells. But what I want is an Option for Cleric that calls back to the old ClericZilla of 3.5e, who selfbuffed and just went ham on enemies with a Greatsword.

    Concentration already limited that pretty heavily, but War Domain is trash, and literally every Domain can do the Spiritual Weapon + Spirit Guardians trick.
    I Am A: Neutral Good Half-Orc Fighter/Barbarian (2nd/1st Level)

    Ability Scores:
    Strength-16
    Dexterity-16
    Constitution-17
    Intelligence-17
    Wisdom-16
    Charisma-13

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