Build of the Week: Hunting for Crits…Together!
Do you enjoy fishing for crits? Have you always wanted an excuse to use a panda mini? Or maybe you just enjoy the idea of effectively using teamwork feats in tandem with more attacks of opportunity than your GM can shake a stick at…
The “Crit-Fishing Hunter” is nothing new, but it’s a fun build that I’ve been experimenting with for a while. It can be a little too flashy for many players, but a new spell from Blood of the Ancients has the potential to make it work in tandem with the rest of the party, rather than making them feel like their role when you finally crit is merely watching as you and your panda blend an enemy into a fine red mist.
Feat Analysis: Teamwork!
The fundamental basis for this build is the use of the Hunter’s ability to share Teamwork Feats with its animal companion. But why post about this in 2018, years after this build was all the rage? Well, let me first introduce you to…
Shared Training: The newest hotness from Blood of the Ancients, this spell let’s a hunter share one of their teamwork feats with any number of allies. Your melee fighters will love all the free Attacks of Opportunity provided by…one another! Make sure to pass out Heavy Picks incase no one in the party has a High-Crit Weapon!
Combat Expertise/Butterfly Sting: The class might actually use combat expertise once in a blue moon, but it’s unlikely. Butterfly Sting is the real gem here, letting you pass off your 15-20 crits for your Panda’s Powerful Bite or a teammate’s Heavy Pick. I especially like using a Spell-Storing Heavy Pick with a good ol’ Shocking Grasp inside…
Weapon Finesse: This is what made me look into Swashbuckler, and I’m glad I did. The last couple levels of Hunter in PFS are pretty dead, and Parry & Riposte is pretty good.
Outflank: Getting this wtih Pack Flanking is a must. +4 to all your attacks as long as you are riding or fighting alongside your Panda, and free AoO’s when you pass off your Butterfly Stings. Improved Outflank is uncessary with Pack Flanking.
Pack Flanking: Because exact positioning is for wimps.
Paired Opportunist: Make sure you have the feat ready to show your GM. Enemies that provoke AoO from your ally also provoke AoO from you. It does crazy things with Outflank, and the +4 bonus is great.
Combat Reflexes: Zzzzz…but necessary to keep up your insane number of AoOs.
Precise Strike: An extra 1d6 damage from you and your Pet is nothing to sneeze at. Ok, it kind of is, but at this point you can just start taking flavorful feat options if your not looking to further specialize in improving the blender.
Improved Critical (Rapier): Keen is a fine option too.
Lookout: This effectively lets you and your animal companion always go during a surprise round, even when one of you fails the perception check. It also lets you roll twice and take the higher for initiative, although you should have a higher modifier than your panda.
Build Options: Panda!
Panda : So you might be thinking, “why a Panda”? I’m kidding. No one would ever ask that. But you might be asking “what does a Panda offer me”? Good question. Base 17 Str isn’t going to break any records, and there are other options of Animal Companion with Powerful Bite, but having multiple Natural Attacks to help fish for critical hits is a helpful asset. Not to mention, you know, its cute and fluffy.
Beastkin: Being able to talk to your animal companion as soon as possible is fundamental for getting past prick GMs. Oh, you will still need tricks. And try to get that +Int headband as soon as possible.
Power Attack/Vital Strike: As necessary here as on any Strength-based Build. Getting a Critical Hit with that Bite on a Vital Strike should take care of anything you were meant to fight in the first place.
Primal Companion Hunter: Beast Aspects are kind of dull. Get Advanced Player’s Guide Eidolan Evolutions instead! Flight. Reach. Even improving your ability scores. The Eidolan does it all!
Auspice Companion: Share Spells is pretty good on a hunter, I’m not going to lie. But the Luck Domain on a crit-fisher is fantastic. Plus having a Panda with a Buttermark on its face is just adorable. Desna, away!
Detailed Build: Panda Hunter
- Race: Human (Dragonblooded)
- Traits: Beastkin (panda) & Reactionary
- Class: Primal Companion Hunter 11/Swashbuckler 1
- 20 Point Buy: STR: 10 DEX: 17 (+1) CON: 14 INT: 14 WIS: 13 (+1) CHA: 10
- Feats: Combat Expertise (1), Butterfly Sting (H), Outflank (2), Pack Flanking (3), Paired Opportunists (4), Combat Reflexes (5), Weapon Finesse (5), Precise Strike (7), Improved Critical (Rapier) (9), Lookout (11)
So I decided to take the Swashbuckler route here. I’m not quite sure what there is to say about this build. You attack with your rapier, if you hit your panda bites your opponent. If you crit, your panda gets a second attack and you pass off your crit with Butterfly Strike. Then after your Panda gets their free Critical Hit, you get another attack of opportunity from them.
The class needs pre-combat buffing, using Dire Collar, Shared Training, Primal Hunter and Buff Spells all takes valuable time you could be spending blending one select enemy into oblivion. One-Way Window is a fantastic item for ensuring your enemies are on the other side of the door and that the entire party should take a round or two to buff now.