Ambushed by Kobold Warriors in the crypt of the Wizard King, a Fighter draws his Greatsword. The Kobolds cackle harshly in the draconic tongue, aiming their spears at the Fighter’s throat.
The Fighter readies his sword. Suddenly, the Kobolds attack. With an explosion of speed and power, the Fighter lops a Kobold’s head off with a single swing. The rest of the creatures scatter like leaves in the wind.
In Pathfinder 2e, Power Attack is a combat feat available to Level 1 Fighters. By gaining this feat, your Fighter can devastate opponents with powerful attacks, but at a price.
What is the Power Attack feat?
The Power Attack feat allows characters to sacrifice actions for additional power. By using two actions instead of one, you can batter opponents with an extra die of weapon damage. This damage increases as your character’s level increases.
Power Attack is a bit of a gamble, allowing characters to stake it all on a single blow. Available in the Fighter class, this feat is especially effective with characters wielding two-handed weapons.
You unleash a particularly powerful attack that clobbers your foes but leaves you a bit unsteady. Make a melee Strike. This counts as two attacks when calculating your multiple attack penalty. If this Strike hits, you deal an extra die of weapon damage. If you’re at least 10th level, increase this to two extra dice, and if you’re at least 18th level, increase it to three extra dice.
Source: Core Rulebook pg. 144
Feats of Strength
Power Attack is aimed at characters who prioritize Strength over other abilities. While Dexterity-based fighters can be very effective, Power Attack works best when paired with powerful martial weapons like a Greatsword or Greataxe. These weapons rely on a character’s Strength.
How to Calculate a Power Attack
A successful Power Attack adds an extra die of weapon damage to your damage roll. If you’re wielding a Greatsword, for example, and land a Power Attack, you’ll be delivering a whopping 2d12 of damage, and that’s before adding your Strength modifier. Talk about a headache!
At higher levels, you’ll unleash even more damage, up to three extra dice at level 18. Meaning, you can use the Power Attack feat throughout the entire course of your character’s adventuring career.
Multiple attack penalties still apply when using Power Attack. If you try to make a Strike after using Power Attack, your attack will be made with a -10 penalty. This happens because using a Power Attack drains a lot of energy, leaving you light-headed.
When to Use Power Attacks
Because Power Attacks use two actions, you’ll need careful planning to use them properly. If you can reach a foe with a Stride action, then you’ll be in an excellent position to unleash a Power Attack, ending your turn afterward. Power Attacks work particularly well against heavily armored bosses or those with damage resistances.
If you start your turn adjacent to an opponent, you have a couple of choices. You can use Strike to make a melee attack and follow it up with a Power Attack. Your first attack will have no penalty, but your Power Attack roll will have a -5 penalty.
Alternatively, you could choose to use Power Attack first with no penalty and follow it up with a Strike attack. In this case, your second attack will suffer an -10 penalty. Depending on the circumstance, one option may be more appealing than the other. For example, those using a Greataxe could factor in a +1 circumstance bonus from a Backswing.
This feat is particularly potent against enemies with a relatively high Armor Class. When an opponent is extremely difficult to hit, you need to make the damage count. With Power Attack, you can make short work of slippery foes.
Also, creatures resistant to physical damage can be trouble for a Fighter. Using Power Attack will let you cut through an enemy’s defenses. If a creature is resistant to physical damage, a regular attack may not be strong enough to hurt it. Power Attack gives you the option of boosting your damage.
You can significantly improve the potency of your Power Attacks by taking the Furious Focus feat. Available starting at the 6th Level, Furious Focus only works when you’re wielding a two-handed weapon. When you make a Power Attack with Furious Focus, the attack only counts as a single attack toward your multiple attack penalty.
With Furious Focus, your character will be more likely to land extra attacks. Any follow-up Strikes made after Power Attack would only take a -5 penalty instead of the usual -10, considerably boosting the likelihood of landing a second attack.
Players can find Furious Focus in the Core Rulebook, pg 148.
What is Power Attack (Mythic)?
In Pathfinder 1e, mythic paths offer characters the chance to learn new powers and legendary abilities. Available in Mythic Adventures, Mythic feats aren’t offered to just anyone. Only those with an extraordinary destiny can unlock the power of myth.
Currently, there are no official ports of Mythic feats from Pathfinder 1e to Pathfinder 2e. If GMs would like to include these feats in their games, they’ll need to homebrew the rules themselves.
If you’d like to offer a Fighter the chance to use Power Attack (Mythic), make it available at Level 6 as a bonus feat with Power Attack as a prerequisite. Mythic feats usually require a non-mythic prerequisite.
Secondly, increase the weapon damage dealt by Power Attack by +1. This way, characters will deal 3 damage dice instead of 2. At 10th level, increase the damage dice to 3 extra dice, and at 18th level, increase it to four extra dice.
A word of warning: introducing homebrew content can seriously upset the delicate balance of your game. While it can be a blast customizing feats and creating new content, it’s a task best left to the professionals.
How Good is Power Attack?
While the Power Attack feat can undoubtedly be deadly in the right hands, it isn’t a good fit for most characters. Only those who plan to deal massive damage with a two-handed weapon should take this feat.
The following tables show data for battles between a Level 1 Fighter and 2 Kobold Warriors. It’s assumed that the Fighter starts his turn adjacent to both Kobolds. Several weapon comparisons are provided.
Each table shows what happened when the Fighter used his regular attacks versus when he used a Power Attack.
Example Player Character
Strength: 18 (+4)
Feats: Power Attack
Name: Kobold Warrior x2
*For this example, Power Attack is executed on the first melee strike of the round. Multiple attack penalties apply to subsequent attacks. Power Attack uses 2 Actions, indicated with >>
|Shortsword (1d6) + 4||Attack 1||Attack 2||Attack 3||Total Damage|
|Longsword (1d8) + 4||Attack 1||Attack 2||Attack 3||Total Damage|
|Falchion (1d10) + 4||Attack 1||Attack 2||Attack 3||Total Damage|
|Greatsword (1d12) + 4||Attack 1||Attack 2||Attack 3||Total Damage|
Looking at the data, we can see that Power Attack is more effective with the two-handed Greatsword than with any other weapon. What’s more, we can see that using an Agile weapon like the Shortsword is just as effective as using a larger Longsword. Accuracy matters, folks!
In short, Power Attack was made for the muscular Fighters who enjoy smashing enemies with massive damage. If taking out anyone who stands in your way with a single blow sounds like a good time, you’ve come to the right place.
All kinds of characters join the adventuring life. Some are in it for the glory; some for the power. Still, others hope to leave Golarion in a better place than the way they found it.
This latter group will need some help as there’s no shortage of ruffians, bandits, and cutthroats roaming the cities and ports of the Inner Sea.
For characters who prefer to let a Greatsword do the talking for them, gaining the Power Attack feat will make the journey through the empires, frontiers, and wildlands of Golarion a little easier.
Just be careful you don’t accidentally chop the wrong person in half, okay?