Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Optimizing the Suboptimal: A (sub)Guide to the Myrmidarch

Note: This guide was written by Wroy in the Paizo Forums, but it went defunct sometime in 2015.  I have uploaded it here with his permission for use. 

Optimizing the Suboptimal: A (sub)Guide to the Myrmidarch
There is something appealing about underdogs, and the myrmidarch is one heck of an underdog archetype. It gives up or restricts many of the magus’ abilities, and what it gains in return is rarely worth the cost. Still, there is some sort of perverse satisfaction to be gained from the challenge of trying to optimize something like the myrmidarch.
A couple words of warning: don’t expect a myrmidarch to be equal in ability to an optimized character of a stronger class/archetype. The goal is to make it as good as we can, and hopefully functional enough to be a party asset.
(Also if the myrmidarch’s creator ever reads this, please don’t hold any criticisms of the archetype that I present against me. This little guy holds a fond place in my heart and I dig the concept... I’ve probably spent more effort trying to wrap my head around what I can possibly do with it than any other archetype.)
Color Coding
These colors will be used in a manner similar to Walter’s solid magus guide, and will be relative to the myrmidarch. The color coding in this guide is:Red or * = Terrible choice. This should probably never be chosen.Orange or ** = Poor choice. This may let you do something gimmicky or specialized, but there are many better choices.
Green or *** = Good choice. This has value to most builds.Blue or **** = Best choice. Nothing should be considered, “must­have,” but this is as close as it gets.
Archetype Analysis
Let’s break down all of the myrmidarch’s unique abilities to see what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of red...
Diminished Spellcasting ­ ...and this stinker should have a special redder­than­red color of its own. The myrmidarch loses one prepared spell per day from each spell level. That means a 1st­level myrmidarch is only getting two cantrips and his bonus 1st­level spell, and the higher his
level gets the worse this penalty becomes. There is no direct benefit gained, ostensibly because your other archetype abilities are so powerful.
Ranged Spellstrike – If you’re looking at the myrmidarch, it’s probably this ability that grabbed your attention. What magus wouldn’t want to be able to deliver his spellstrike at range? The fact that the archetype’s hallmark ability is coded orange speaks volumes. On one hand it’s a cool ability, but the wording is a little wonky and it has a number of limitations. There are no wide­threat­range ranged weapons, so you lose out on some of those big shocking grasp crits that magi love. You can’t hold the charge on a ranged touch spell, so if you miss your attack the spell is wasted. You can’t use multiple charges or multiple attack spells with the ability until you reach 11th level. You have a very limited list of spells that work with it unless you pay a feat tax (and use up higher­level spell slots already made meager by diminished spellcasting). You give up the amazing spell recall and improved spell recall abilities, which hurts your spells per day even more.
Weapon Training – This is a fantastic ability, and arguably worth losing some of your arcana (the only reason it’s not blue). Whether you are going through a career­spanning adventure path or focusing on 11 levels of PFS play, the instant a myrmidarch hits 6th level he should have a goal to pick up gloves of dueling and gain a +3/+3 untyped bonus with his primary weapons.
Fighter Training – The myrmidarch gets early entry into this ability from the standard magus, and I’d code it orange except for the fact you lose knowledge pool – another amazing magus ability.
Armor Training – Maintaining your full Dexterity bonus to AC and movement while wearing heavier armor is great, and much better than the additional Concentration bonuses the myrmidarch gives up. This would be blue, but Diminished Spellcasting taints this analysis so much it drops this awesome ability to green.
Armor Mastery – DR 5/­ is a worthwhile trade for giving up true magus as a capstone, but it’s 20th level so most games aren’t using these abilities much in any case.
Overall, it’s apparent how specialized the myrmidarch is. We gain some martial ability at the expense of a lot of standard magus abilities (and note that Walter rates most of what you lose as green/blue). We can’t look at the archetype as fulfilling the same role as a standard magus. If we’re going to make something useful of this, it’s going to take a combination of focusing on the myrmidarch’s physical combat abilities (not an optimism­inspiring thing for a 3⁄4 BAB class) and eke every possible ounce of use out of his limited spellcasting.
Similar to Walter’s two schools of thought on magi, this led me to two approaches to the myrmidarch: ranged myrmidarch or switch hitter. A ranged myrmidarch forsakes most if not all of his melee spellstrike and spell combat abilities in order to maximize his ranged attack and debuff potential, while a switch hitter myrmidarch tries really hard to stretch his limited feat
resources into still being able to use melee attacks and spell combat when needed. I recommend being a switch hitter; you are still dedicating most of your resources into ranged combat in any case.
Race Selection
Dwarf – Wis is going to be a tertiary attribute, and while everyone loves Con the myrmidarch will probably be in less melee combat than the average magus. Slow and Steady ruins his mobility in armor.
Elf – Elves gain a bonus to both of the myrmidarch’s important attributes and make a solid, if not best, choice.
Gnome – Possibly the worst choice for a myrmidarch. Gnomes offer nothing that works well with the myrmidarch’s few strengths.
Half­Elf – If you plan on incorporating an exotic weapon into your myrmidarch build, then the half­elf with the Ancestral Arms alternate racial trait makes an optimal choice. The other racial abilities outshine the human.
Halfling – His bonus to the myrmidarch’s most important attribute gets him above a red rating, but that’s pretty much it. A size bonus to attack rolls is always nice for ranged characters as well, and your damage isn’t going to be based off Strength.
Half­Orc – The myrmidarch can gain a bonus to Dexterity, so they get rated above red. None of their abilities synchronize much with the myrmidarch.
Human – Bonus feat. That’s the singularly most important thing race can provide where this archetype is concerned. Normally I am not an advocate for the ultimate supremacy of the human bonus feat, but myrmidarchs are so ridiculously feat­starved by needing to accomplish multiple build goals that human is by far the best racial choice for them.
Dragon Empires
Kitsune – Comparable to the Halfling but with different flavor, the kitsune’s racial traits probably provide less benefit to a myrmidarch but they compensate with 30 foot base speed.
Nagaji – They take a penalty to a very important attribute and gain nothing of interest to the myrmidarch in return.
Samsaran – The only thing keeping them out of the red is their bonus to Intelligence.
Tengu (switch hitter) – These interesting birds gain a bonus to your primary attribute, are automatically proficient in exotic swords and similar weapons, and have a situationally useful natural attack.
Wayang – These little guys are interesting. Bonuses to both of your primary attributes, size bonus on attacks, and nice racial traits (although you will get little out of shadow magic since Charisma is a tertiary attribute).
I rate the stats for a myrmidarch as: Dex Int Con Str Wis Cha. Dexterity takes precedence over everything. You need it to hit ranged attacks and, ideally, any necessary melee attacks. Intelligence is almost as vital; every bonus spell you receive is a precious resource to cover the evil, unwholesome wrongness that is Diminished Spellcasting. Con and Str come in rated somewhat close to each other; as nice and integral as hp are, you want enough Strength to wear heavy armor and maintain a 30 foot movement. I highly recommend picking up muleback cords for your shoulder slot as soon as possible; if this is not a guaranteed option, make sure you don’t neglect Str. This attribute priority list is the same for ranged and switch hitter myrmidarchs, although focusing exclusively on ranged attacks allows for a deeper investment into Dex and Int.
Sample ranged point buys (human):
  •  10 point build: Str 10, Dex 16 (18), Con 11, Int 15, Wis 7, Cha 7 
  •  15 point build: Str 10, Dex 16 (18), Con 11, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 7 
  •  20 point build: Str 10, Dex 17 (19), Con 11, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 7 
  •  25 point build: Str 10, Dex 18 (20), Con 12, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 7 Sample switch hitter point buys (human): 
  •  10 point build: Str 10, Dex 15 (17), Con 12, Int 15, Wis 8, Cha 7 
  •  15 point build: Str 10, Dex 16 (18), Con 12, Int 15, Wis 10, Cha 7 
  •  20 point build: Str 11, Dex 16 (18), Con 13, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 7 
  •  25 point build: Str 11, Dex 17 (19), Con 14, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 7 
    Magus Arcana 
    This only lists arcana that deserve further discussion or have a notably different rating than Walter’s main guide. 
    Accurate Strike (UC) – Myrmidarchs don’t make enough melee attacks to waste one of their limited arcana on this. 
    Arcane Edge (UC) – Bleed damage can be a nice effect, but you have other ways of inflicting it than wasting points from your arcane pool. 
Bane Blade (UC) –Bane is awesome. Applying bane against whatever creature you need this combat for a single point from your arcane pool is even more awesome.
Close Range (switch hitter) – I bumped this up to half­orange only because a myrmidarch is going to have a lot of ranged touch spells prepared, and a switch hitter could gain some use from the arcana. This would let you prepare reach shocking grasps that could still be used as a regular melee touch spell. Check with your GM to see how Reach Spell synchronizing with this arcana works in your game; close range arcana lets you deliver rays as melee touch attacks, while Reach Spell only specifies that it converts a spell into a ranged touch attack (not explicitly a ray).
Critical Strike – This is even less situationally useful than it is for a standard magus, because it is limited to melee.
Devoted Blade (UC) – Look ma, I can bypass DR! Bane is probably more useful, because you can only select enhancements with this arcana that match your alignment. Being able to penetrate DR/good may be worth it.
Lingering Pain (UC) – I like this one. Hitting an enemy spellcaster for 1d8+10+10d6 damage that counts as continuous is a nice way of telling them they are not successfully casting a spell while you kill them. It’s a tempting choice for the 3rd level arcana, if you’re willing to skip/wait for arcane accuracy.
Spell Blending – You probably want this. Reach ghoul touch is an amazing thing to put on a projectile. I’d rate this blue just for that one spell alone in mid­levels, and there are a number of touch range sor/wiz spells that make good choices for this arcana. Even in the utility spells, stuff like gravity bow can be handy if you can’t pull off a consistently successful UMD with your dumpstatted Charisma.
Similar to the arcana ratings, if it’s not here than see the main guide.
Arcane Strike – The myrmidarch loves this feat as much as the standard magus, the switch hitter even more so. I’d even give this a blue rating, but have heard the magus’ designer is on record saying that the augment weapon ability is supposed to supercede and not stack with this feat. The feat stays green on the off­chance that ruling makes it into a UM errata.
Clustered Shots (UC) – This has some use because you will probably not be spellstriking
every round, but you will also not be firing a rain of projectiles every round like your stereotypical archer so YMMV.
Critical Mastery (Bleeding Critical, Destroy Identity­FoC, Dispelling Critical­UC, Staggering Critical) – Unlike the standard magus, the myrmidarch qualifies for this at 17th level. Awesome feat, as long as you have your threat range as large as possible and can pick up multiple critical feats ahead of time.
Deadly Aim – This fills the same role as Power Attack does for the standard magus.
Dervish Dance (ISWG) – You are mostly a ranged attacker. A switch hitter probably shouldn’t spend a feat to have a degraded action economy when he needs to switch to melee, all in the name of extra damage he can match with the agile enchantment.
Focused Shot (APG) – At first glance, adding a ranged­attacking magus’ Int damage seems great. Unfortunately, it cannot be used with a full­attack action when you are lobbing out tons of projectiles, and it cannot be used in conjunction with your ranged spellstrike ability.
Impact Critical Shot (UC) – If you can spare the feat, this adds some nice control aspect to your ranged criticals.
Point Blank Shot/Precise Shot – You are a ranged attacker. You need these.Power Attack – You will not get enough use out of this nor do you need it as a prerequisite for
anything integral to a myrmidarch build.
Rapid Shot – On one hand, you are going to get no benefit from this when using ranged spellstrike. On the other, you have limited spell slots to dish out real damage and a full attack with this will do more damage than a cantrip­fuelled ranged spellstrike.
Improved Critical – It is much easier on your resources to add a keen enhancement with augment weapon than it is to waste a feat on this. The rating on this feat is one of the few things of which I completely disagree with Walter’s original guide.
Improved Precise Shot – If you don’t have a seeking weapon, this is a worthwhile option at level 15+.
Lunge – The majority of your attack power is ranged. Let the guys with the unhealthy scimitar fetish take this feat.
Quick Draw – Maybe you want to try and have a switch hitter that uses thrown weapons. I don’t recommend it. Every thrown weapon either has a terrible threat range to capitalize on ranged/normal spellstrike, a terrible range increment that ruins one of the benefits of ranged
spellstrike, or both. This feat will be necessary if you try it.
Weapon Finesse (or Weapon Finesse) – This is an all or nothing feat. Either the myrmidarch
is a switch hitter who still wants some use from spellstrike and spell combat and needs weapon finesse, or he has decided to focus all his energy on ranged combat/support spells and skips the feat. The good news is that this feat is 90% of what you need to make a viable switch hitter myrmidarch combined with its spellstrike and spell combat abilities. Additional build options will help expand on your melee ability, but I’ll take picking up a single feat to have some versatility any day.

Weapon Focus & Greater – You should have a high enough attack bonus to make these not be an absolute necessity. Weapon Focus is decent as a prereq for...
Weapon Specialization – You can pick this up at 7th level, but it costs you two feats to get here. The extra damage is particularly nice for rounds when you’re dumping out as many projectiles as possible instead of using your ranged spellstrike for a single attack.
Extra Arcane Pool (UM) – The myrmidarch does not have enough feats to spend one on superfluous arcane pool points, and his limited number of arcana means he has less ways of blowing through the pool quickly. If he manages arcane pool prudently, the base amount should easily be enough to get through the day.
Extra Traits (APG) – There are nice traits in multiple categories, but you probably don’t have the feat to spare. The magic and regional traits have the lion’s share of the most beneficial traits for a myrmidarch, and since you can only have one trait per category that’s another factor that limits the use of this feat. See the traits section for some nice choices.
Preferred Spell (APG) – It has a feat tax that makes it hard to justify the benefit. Still, converting spells to spontaneous shocking grasps is nice.
Toughness – You are a d8 HD character with a limited investment in Constitution. However, you should be avoiding melee unless it’s on your terms and you don’t take many hits.
Intensified Spell (APG) – This is not quite a must­have for the myrmidarch like it is for the standard magus, but it comes close. It drops to a green rating only because there is one other metamagic feat more important than it.Reach Spell (APG) – Remember how the magus spell list only has a handful of ranged touch spells for ranged spellstrike? Not anymore. This feat is the bread and butter of the myrmidarch and should be picked up sooner rather than later. It’s worth picking up at 3rd level just to have it
available the moment the myrmidarch gets ranged spellstrike. It will always be a +1 level metamagic, as you only need to get the spell to short range in order to use it with ranged spellstrike. When combined with the spell blending magus arcana, it truly shines.
If you’re playing PFS, you’re getting two of these at 1st level. Many home games incorporate them as well. If your GM allows traits, you can also take the Extra Trait feat as mentioned above, if you can work it into your build.
Some useful traits are:
Armor expert – A reduction in armor check penalty is nice for an armored arcane caster. Killer – Extra damage on critical hits for a class that tries to get as many criticals as possible doesn’t hurt either.
Reactionary – Who doesn’t like a higher initiative?

Birthmark – You may have dumped Wisdom and are relying on your good class save. Charms and compulsions are some of the nastier Will­based things that can affect you, so this bonus helps.
Desperate Focus/Focused Mind – A bonus to concentration checks is nice, but you should be avoiding those checks even more than the standard magus.
Gifted Adept – A +1 caster level to a frequently­used spell is nice if you didn’t take magical lineage for your magic trait.

Magical lineage – This tied to shocking grasp is arguably the best magic trait you can take. Two­world magic – I highly recommend this for the standard magus, not so much for the myrmidarch. Touch of Fatigue is a great cantrip when you’re spellstriking and fighting in melee, but it requires metamagic (and wastes spell slots) to use it with your ranged spellstrike ability.
Adopted – You may be able to find something useful in the race­limited traits, if you want to play an elf raised by goblins or something similarly cheesy.
There are a ton of traits in these categories, so I’m only going to highlight:
Wayang Spellcaster – It’s magical lineage for those who selected something else for their magic trait. The reduction in effective spell level is technically not a trait so this should stack with magical lineage... letting you prepare 
intensified reach shocking grasp as a 1st level spell if you
so desire. Amazing how many magi have spent time training in Minata these days...
Standard magi will find some blasphemous things written here. You’ve been warned.
Melee Weapons
*cestus – This is one of the best melee weapons for a switch hitter. You cannot be disarmed, you can use a ranged weapon while wearing it, and it has a 19­20 threat range for spellstrikes. It’s green instead of blue because I’ve heard that some GMs apply the ­2 penalty for intricate actions to bow or crossbow attacks when you wear a cestus. If your GM agrees with me and only applies the cestus’ penalty to intricate skill checks such as disable device, then consider this a blue rating. 
dagger – It doesn’t look very impressive, but is included here in case someone wants to actually try and make a close­skirmishing switch hitter myrmidon with thrown weapons. It is equally effective for melee and throwing plus has a 19­20 threat range.*spiked gauntlet – The threat range sucks, but if you are firing a bow or crossbow with rare moments of melee then this does allow spellstrike/spell combat.
scimitar/cutlass/rapier/kukri – Yeah, the myrmidarch doesn’t spend every night whispering sweet nothings to his threat range 18­20 weapon. Each of these weapons sucks for the myrmidarch because is has no range, and even with a feat blown on Quick Draw it has an overall weaker action economy than thrown weapons when it comes to switching back and forth from melee/ranged. At a weight of 2 lbs., however, switch hitters may find it worth owning a cheap cold iron kukri or rapier just for those rare days when you know you are going to be forced into melee for a protracted period of time.
rhoka/wakizashi/katana/urumi – All the lack of benefit of the martial 18­20 threat range weapons for the price of a feat.armor spikes – Similar to the spiked gauntlet, the threat range sucks plus they add weight to your armor. However, it is the most economical way of being able to spellstrike/spell combat at a moment’s notice.
*There are still some complications with switch hitting as a magus, even with these. If you’re holding your bow/crossbow in the same hand as the cestus/gauntlet, you can’t make melee attacks with the melee weapon. If you’re holding it in your other hand, you cannot attack with the cestus/spiked gauntlet and still consider that hand free for spell combat. A weapon cord on your ranged weapon should solve the problem, unless your GM assigns an arbitrary penalty for the dangling bow/crossbow’s unwieldiness per the weapon cord text.
Ranged Weapons
lt. crossbow – This comes with a nice range increment, a 19­20 threat range, and the ability to
be shot with one hand or prone if necessary. It also allows you to dump Str below 10, as long as you have a method of carrying your armor and equipment without getting encumbered. However, you won’t be able to full attack without taking the Rapid Reload feat.hvy. crossbow – The extra damage and range is not worth it, because you’ll never be able to full attack with a hvy. crossbow without a serious feat investment to pick up Crossbow Mastery.
sling – Just because halflings are a decent race for myrmidarchs, I’ve included the sling. The damage is subpar, the range is mediocre, and it only has a 20 threat range. Halflings with the warslinger alternate trait, however, can full attack with it without wasting any feats. If you are a halfling with enough static bonuses to your damage rolls it may be worth trying. (Probably not.) longbow – This is comparable to the lt. crossbow and probably edges it out despite the spellstrike­unfriendly threat range. You can make full attacks when needed, the range is great, and if you do have an enhanced Strength for some reason then a composite version can give extra damage. The x3 crit is worth noting because the myrmidarch will have a higher percentage of his damage output being physical damage than the typical magus anyways.
shortbow – There is no benefit to doing less damage with a smaller range increment than the longbow.hvy. repeating crossbow – This deserves mentioning if you are using Golarion­specific material. Seeker of Secrets has rules for new and inferior ioun stones, including the cracked opalescent white pyramid. For 1,500 gp, you can gain weapon familiarity with a keyed exotic weapon, treating it as a martial weapon. This relatively cheap solution lets you proficiently use a hvy. repeating crossbow without a feat. Nice range, high damage (especially when combined with enlarge person and/or gravity bow, 3d8 Medium base damage with both) and limited ability to make full­round attacks. You do have to spend a full round reloading after every 5 shots, which gets harder to manage at higher levels. If you’re good at knowing when to let loose with the rapid shot and when to drop in a ranged spellstrike or single shot while getting better battlefield position, you may want to look at repeating crossbows. If you find yourself struggling with this, or if your GM’s game style lets an archer constantly sit in one place dumping out nonstop full­attacks, go with the longbow.
tube arrow shooter – I’m only mentioning this as a gimmick; nothing about the weapon’s stats are good. There may be an emergency situation where you find your primary ranged weapon not ready, and you don’t have enough actions to retrieve it for an important shot. A spring­loaded wrist sheath lets you ready a tube arrow shooter as a swift action, letting you get off an emergency ranged spellstrike.
agile – This is a cheap way to let you be able to do some damage in melee as a switch hitter. Enchanting a melee weapon is not your primary or even secondary concern, but the enchantment is worth mentioning.cunning – A magus should have no problem meeting the Knowledge skill requirements of this enchantment, and +2 crit confirmation on your primary weapon is nice.
seeking – A great weapon enchantment, this is worth the +1 bonus you are giving up considering you buff your weapon with your arcane pool. Unlike a ranger, you have no way of
getting Improved Precise Shot as an early entry. The enchantment doesn’t ignore cover like the feat, but it is effective against total concealment. A myrmidarch will probably get more benefit out of this enchantment rather than waiting until 15th level to spend a feat on something comparable. any enchantment a magus can get from arcane pool – Don’t waste your resources on permanently putting these on your weapon. The only exception is keen, because you will want it 99.9% of the time anyways.
Parade Armor/Studded Leather – If you cannot afford mithral armor, you may find use for this in a Dex­focused build at low levels.Chain Shirt – The mithral chain shirt is your friend before 8th level.Quilted Cloth – If you’re willing to give up a couple points of AC and/or have an insanely high boosted Dex at low levels, this may interest you (especially if your adventuring party can keep you protected from melee enemies). DR 3/­ against enemy arrows and bolts is a nice thing for an archer to have, arguably better than +2 to AC.
Agile Breastplate – At 8th level, this is +6 armor, +4 max Dex, ­3 armor check (0 for jump/climb). That’s just as non­masterwork... definitely a respectable suit of armor. Picking up a mithral suit to use as light armor before 8th level is fantastic, as long as you can afford it. Armored Kilt + Quilted Cloth – At 8th level, this is +2 armor, +7 max Dex, 0 armor check, and DR 3/­ vs. arrows and bolts.Armored Kilt + Chain Shirt – At 8th level, this is +5 armor, +5 max Dex, 0 armor check. If you already have a mithral chain shirt, the kilt is a cheap way to add an extra point of AC while retaining a max Dex of +7 on your armor.Kikko Armor – At 8th level, this is +5 armor, +5 max Dex, ­2 armor check. Depending on your Dex mod, this is comparable to the agile breastplate. The mithral version lets you pump max Dex bonus to +7. Even if you didn’t invest in a mithral chain shirt by 8th level, it is significantly more expensive to purchase mithral kikko armor compared to the kilt+shirt option.
Agile Breastplate + Armored Kilt – At 14th level, this is +7 armor, +5 max Dex, ­2 armor check (0 for jump/climb). If you purchased a mithral version of the breastplate at earlier levels, this combo has a +7 max Dex and no armor check penalty.Full plate – At 14th level, this is +9 armor, +3 max Dex, ­4 armor check as non­masterwork, +5 max Dex and ­1 armor check as mithral. Myrmidarchs probably have better than a +5 Dex mod at 14th level in most games, but I’ve included this as a solid core rulebook benchmark. Tatami­do – At 14th level, this is +7 armor, +5 max Dex, ­4 armor check, mithral is +7 max Dex and ­1 armor check. If you are running at a +5 Dex bonus, possibly due to low point buy, this is a candidate for adamantine armor. DR 3/­ with your relatively low hit points is handy... not many archers can claim to run around in heavy adamantine armor at full speed. It’s not the armor
selection I’d choose, but it could be useful for some builds.Tatami­do (mithral) + Armored Kilt – At 14th level, this counts as a set of heavy armor with +8 armor, +7 max Dex, ­1 armor check.
Celestial Armor – It will accommodate whatever the myrmidarch has for a Dex bonus to AC, and combined with the fly effect is well worth the price. Your money may go further on heavier armor with additional enchantments, however. You get armor training 2 for a reason.Mithral Full Plate of Speed – This has a +5 max Dex bonus at 14th level, and the haste ability is decent. I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase it, but it deserves mention.
Other Items
Metamagic Rods – Unless you have a way to get a third free hand to use the rod, your ranged weapon severely complicates the use of metamagic rods in combat. Rods such as one of extend that have use out of combat are of greater benefit to the myrmidarch.
Walter has this well­covered for the magus, and I pretty much agree with him so this section will be small. This includes magus spells along with sor/wiz spells picked up by spell blending (marked with an asterisk). Some red­rated sor/wiz ranged touch spells are included to discourage myrmidarchs from wasting a spell blending on them.
Level 0
Touch of Fatigue – If you want to add an economical debuff ability to your arsenal, you could take the Two­world magic and Wayang spellcaster traits for this cantrip. Combined with the Reach Spell feat, you’ll be able to drop fatigue arrows on enemies starting at 4th level. I’d rather spend rounds full­attacking for damage if I’m not spellstriking with one of my prepared spell slots. Your traits can be better applied elsewhere.
Acid Splash/Ray of Frost – This is one of the reasons I wouldn’t waste my magic and regional traits on touch of fatigue. If I don’t want to expend a spell slot and don’t have a good opportunity to full attack, these cantrips can always be ranged spellstriked for some additional elemental damage. If you have access to Adventurer’s Armory, make sure you have the appropriate alchemical focus for your cantrip of choice for the extra point of damage.
Level 1
*Abundant Ammunition – If your GM rules that a hvy. repeating crossbow’s clip is a container, this is a decent utility wand spell for a myrmidarch taking the repeater/ioun stone approach. *Gravity Bow – It’s a nice spell for a myrmidarch, but probably better in a UMD’d wand rather than wasting an arcana or feat to pick up.
Hydraulic Push – Your arrows can bull rush using your Int mod and caster level.
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Ray of Enfeeblement – This is a great spell for a myrmidarch for ranged debuff arrows. Its utility is up there with reach shocking grasp in many combats, especially if you’re using a longbow with no expanded threat range.Unseen Servant – This can help a switch hitter somewhat with action economy.
Level 2
Acid Arrow – Usable with ranged spellstrike and puts continuous damage on a target to disrupt spellcasting. Magical lineage plus intensified reach shocking grasp lets the same spell slot do up to 10d6 immediate damage to the target. Combine with 1 point from your arcane pool and the lingering pain arcana, and that is leagues better than anything acid arrow can be used for. *Ghoul Touch – Quite simply an awesome spell for a myrmidarch. I would take Extra Arcana­Spell Blending as a 5th level feat without hesitation just to get this spell, and would dedicate a trait to letting me reach metamagic it without increasing its level. Ghoul touch is useful to the standard magus, but a myrmidarch truly makes it shine. It goes from a melee­only touch spell to being effective out to 100+ feet. The myrmidarch can drop it on any targets like arcane casters or other enemies that have weak Fort saves, paralyzing them for a decent duration and turning them into a small­radius debuff.
Scorching Ray – Inferior to an intensified reach shocking grasp in both damage and energy type, you may get some use out of it at 11th level or higher when you can take a full­attack action with ranged spellstrike and apply the 4d6 damage rays to three separate arrows.
Level 3
*Battering Blast (DoG) – Ranged touch force damage that bull rushes and knocks prone on a failed Reflex save, plus potential multiple targets starting at 11th level? Yes please. The drawbacks are you need to devote arcana/feat to spell blending, there is a 3rd­level force damage spell (force punch) on your list already, and since it requires Reach Spell it gets compared to the 4th­level spells which contain a lot of utility and battlefield control.
Dispel Magic – If you plan on picking up Dispelling Critical at higher levels, this gains more use. Otherwise, see Walter’s guide.Flame Arrow – This is a fantastic buff for a myrmidarch. Bonus fire damage on 50 arrows with a long duration is something any archer can get behind.
Force Hook Charge – It has some use for a switch hitter, but even then melee is rarely something you do by choice.Ray of Exhaustion – This is a fantastic debuff for a 3rd­level spell slot, usable with ranged spellstrike.
Level 4
*Bestow Curse – This is a great debuff, but requires a 5th­level spell slot to use with ranged spellstrike and has plenty of competition from useful magus spells. There are better spell blending choices.Dimension Door – The quintessential getaway spell. A switch hitter can also use this with spell combat to take a full melee attack, then pop away to a safer ranged position to use his preferred
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combat style.*Dimensional Anchor – It’s a handy ability, but hard to justify wasting spell blending on a highly situational ray.*Enervation – This is my 4th­level spell blending choice, hands down. Enervation and ranged spellstrike is a nasty combination.*Fleshworm Infestation – It deserves mentioning even though a regular magus will get more use from it. The effects are nice, arguably better than calcific touch, and the visuals are just plain cool.*Named Bullet – Being able to enchant an arrow to automatically threaten a critical is amazing when you can tack 10d6 crittable electricity damage onto that arrow. This is close to enervation’s awesomeness and the best utility choice for spell blending.
Level 5
Corrosive Consumption – It’s less useful for a myrmidarch than a standard magus, and you will probably not want to waste a 6th­level spell slot on a reach version of it.Interposing Hand – This is a great spell for the myrmidarch to keep melee attackers at bay.
Level 6
*Cold Ice Strike – You may be tempted to take this even though it’s a line with terrible area and poor range, simply because it has a swift action casting time. You have many other uses for your swift actions, don’t have the spell capacity to be throwing out additional swift/quickened spells, and this would be a terrible waste of spell blending.
Contagious Flame – Your standard magus may consider this worse than chain lightning. For the myrmidarch using ranged spellstrike it’s actually decent. Full attack with your bow with an extra 4d6 fire damage on every shot, and then the rays continue to shoot on their own for 3 more rounds.
Disintegrate – This spell can be very painful in the hands of a myrmidarch. At 16th level, you are adding 32d6 damage onto an arrow. When used on an arrow with named bullet, that’s an automatic threat and potential 64d6 disintegratey damage. The killer on this is the Fort save which neuters the extra damage... it makes the spell highly situational and drops its rating. *Greater Named Bullet – For just a significantly higher spell slot, you can add a tiny amount of extra damage to the named bullet spell. Terrible option for spell blending.
*Hellfire Ray – This does respectable damage and the post­death mechanic is hilarious. It’s hard to justify using a 6th­level spell slot for a spell blended evil version of reach shocking grasp that does marginally more damage of a more­resisted type.*Major Curse – If you’re not picking up bestow curse, you’re not picking up a version with +2 levels just for a DC bump.*Repulsion – This is a cool defensive spell for a gish dedicated to ranged combat and possibly worth adding to the myrmidarch’s spell list.
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Sample Builds
This follows the original guide’s format of taking these through 11th level.
Switch Hitter (recommended, esp. if close range arcana improves ranged touch spells)
This myrmidarch uses a lt. crossbow until he can get an ioun stone­keyed hvy. repeating crossbow (lvl 2­3). He wears a cestus as a melee weapon. He’s a human with 15 point buy.
Magical lineage (shocking grasp) Wayang spellcaster (ghoul touch)
1 – Point Blank Shot
1B – Weapon Finesse
3 – Precise Shot
3 – Magus Arcana­Arcane Accuracy (alt. Close Range)5 – Reach Spell
5B – Extra Arcana­Spell Blending (ghoul touch)
7 – Intensified Spell
9 – Rapid Shot
9 – Magus Arcana­Hasted Assault (alt. Arcane Accuracy)11 – Deadly Aim
11B – Clustered Shots
15 pt buy, tweaked for crossbow use: Str 8, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 7

Level 1: He’s a ranged skirmisher with 10 hp and AC 18. His basic attack is +5(6) ranged for 1d8+1(2), or +5 melee for 1d4, taking into account he enchanted his weapon as a swift action on his first round. He must take a move action to reload his crossbow. His spell combat is +3 melee for 1d4 and a spell, probably color spray. Alternately, if he is fighting in tight quarters he can decide to forego the crossbow and use spell combat with his alchemically­focused acid splash. His attack routine while doing so is +3 melee for 1d4 and +3 ranged touch for 1d3+2 acid, taking a 5­foot step between attacks to not provoke AoO’s while casting or firing the acid splash. It could be worse, but this isn’t great.
Level 3: He now has 24 hp and is using hvy. repeating crossbow/ioun stone and cestus. His AC is still 18. Every 5 shots he has to spend a round reloading. He has spellstrike, but it’s not his forte. His basic attack is now +7(8) ranged for 1d10+1(2) and ignores penalties for opponent being in melee, or +7 melee for 1d4­1. His melee damage is terrible, so the only time he uses it is when using spell combat. His spell combat full­attack routine using arcane accuracy is +8 melee for 1d4, +8 melee for 1d4+3d6 electricity. Since he only has 3 1st­level spells thanks to diminished spellcasting and does not yet have ranged spellstrike, chances are he’s only
prepping one shocking grasp and still relying on color spray and grease. He carries a couple scrolls of shield for emergencies, because he’s too spell­starved to prepare them. Not looking good, but he’s the one that insisted on going to Myrmidarch School and they teach three levels of unpleasant fundamentals before showing you anything cool.
Level 6: At level 4 he increased Dex to 19. He has a +1 hvy. repeating crossbow, +1 cestus, +1 mithral agile breastplate, a wand of gravity bow, some minor items and is sitting on around 3,000 gp saving up for adding the agile enchantment to his cestus. He now has a lean 45 hp, AC 21 without buffs, and the ranged spellstrike and weapon training (crossbows +1) abilities. He enchants his crossbow at the beginning of fights to add keen and an additional +1 to it. He now has 4 cantrips, 4 1st­level spells and 3 2nd­level spells per day (compared to the average magus with 5/5/4 and spell recall). Most of his spell slots go to prepare reach shocking grasp and reach ghoul touch, with 2­3 defensive or control spells.
His basic attack is a +11(12) ranged spellstrike acid splash that deals 1d10(2d8)+3(4) + 1d3+1 acid with a 17­20 threat range. His hard attack is a +11(12) ranged spellstrike reach shocking grasp that deals 1d10(2d8)+3(4) + 5d6 electricity with a 17­20 threat range. His control strike is a +11(12) ranged spellstrike reach ghoul touch that deals 1d10(2d8)+3(4) with a 17­20 threat range, Fort DC 15 or d6+1 rounds of paralyzed and emitting a 10’­radius sickening cloud. If he wants to activate arcane accuracy for any of these shots, his attack bonus goes up to +14(15), plus he’s always ignoring opponent in melee penalties. It’s nothing like the raw damage of a ranger or fighter archer, but not too shabby for a specialist.
Spell combat and spellstrike are somewhat wasted at this point, but he is still capable of delivering touch spells with a relatively high attack bonus and throwing short­range spells combined with an attack. The main use of spell combat is to gain a concentration bonus in tight quarters. Obviously even the switch hitter prefers ranged combat.
*If the myrmidarch is willing to delay learning arcane accuracy, he can instead get close range arcana and be a much better melee skirmisher. Check with your GM per the notes for the close range arcana to see if this works.
Level 11: At level 11, the myrmidarch has increased Dex to 20. His 80 hp seem rather feeble, but he’s planning on pumping Con up to 14 in one more level and his AC has increased to 27+ without temporary buffs. He’s got a +2 seeking hvy. repeating crossbow now, a +1 agile cestus, improved armor plus he has some stat bumps (only assuming +2 improvements due to other gear needs, but possibly could afford +4). He has also picked up gloves of dueling to capitalize on his weapon training ability. He has 4 cantrips and 5/4/4/2 spell slots.
At his peak, he’s hasted and enlarged, possibly with a gravity bow. He’s got clips of flame arrow­enhanced bolts. His crossbow got enchanted by his arcane pool in the first round (during which he opened up with a ranged spellstrike), and he spends a point for arcane accuracy in this round. His full ranged attack is +20(21)/+20(21)/+20(21)/+15(16) ranged, for 1d10(3d8)+12(13)
with a 17­20 threat range, +1d6 fire damage. As at lower levels, he ignores penalties for firing into melee and his seeking weapon ignores miss % from concealment/total concealment. His bolt damage is added together before factoring in an opponent’s DR.
His ranged spellstrike can gain an attack bonus as high as +25(26) if he’s using arcane accuracy, dealing: 1d10(3d8)+3­7(4­8) +10d6 electricity with a 17­20 threat, +1d6 fire; or 1d10(3d8)+7(8) + ghoul touch/hydraulic push/ray of enfeeblement/ray of exhaustion.
He now has enough spell slots to carry a couple intensified shocking grasps or such for switch hitting use. His hasted (via spell, not pool) attack routine with arcane accuracy looks a lot less impressive for melee attacks, but it does give some versatility: +19/19/14 melee for 1d4+6 damage and +19 melee for 1d4+6+10d6 electricity damage, all with 17­20 threat range.
Again, a dedicated ranger or fighter will put the myrmidarch’s ranged damage to shame, and a standard magus (str or dex) will tear through things in melee in a way that makes the switch hitter look laughable. This underdog does has versatility, however, and by his ranged combat support abilities alone he can be a functional member of most adventuring groups.
Dedicated Ranged Myrmidarch
This myrmidarch pretty much ignores spellstrike and spell combat, sacrificing what little melee combat ability the switch hitter has to eke out slightly better ranged combat stats.
He uses a longbow and will resort to armor spikes to threaten squares and for the rare occasion when he needs to use spell combat. He’s a human with 15 point buy.

Magical lineage (shocking grasp) Reactionary (+2 init)
1 – Point Blank Shot
1B – Precise Shot
3 – Rapid Shot
3 – Magus Arcana: Arcane Accuracy 5 – Deadly Aim
5B – Reach Spell
7 – Intensified Spell
9 – Extra Arcana­Spell Blending (ghoul touch, gravity bow) 
9 – Magus Arcana­Hasted Assault11 – Clustered Shots
11B – Weapon Focus (longbow)
15 pt buy: Str 10, Dex 18, Con 11, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 7
Level 1: This myrmidarch is a dedicated archer. He has 9 hp and an AC 18. His prepared spells are very limited at 2 cantrips and 1 1st­level spell, so he has one color spray or sleep prepared for that important fight. His usual attack is at +5(6) ranged, 1d8+1(2) dmg, 20/x3 crit, ignoring opponents in melee. His only use for spell combat is to gain a +3 bonus on a concentration check if he needs to cast defensively.
Level 3: The myrmidarch has increased to 21 hp and AC 18. He purchased a +1 longbow, which he enchants to gain keen at the start of an encounter. His attack is now +7(8) ranged, 1d8+1(2) dmg, 19­20/x3 crit, with a full attack of +5(6)/+5(6) ranged, same damage. If he uses arcane accuracy, he can increase his full attack to +8(9)/+8(9). He can now prepare 3 1st­level spells, which focus on battlefield control and perhaps a defensive spell. Spellstrike is even more useless to him than spell combat. All in all, it’s a very uninspiring synopsis if you compare it to the standard magus.
Level 6: The magus increased his Con to 12, putting him up to 45 hp. He picked up a +1 mithral agile breastplate similar to the switch hitter, getting him up to AC 21 unbuffed. His full attack routine is now +10(11)/+10(11) ranged, 1d8(2d6)+7(8), 19­20/x3 crit with arcane accuracy. He can use ranged spellstrike to do +14(15) ranged, 1d8+3(4) +5d6 electicity dmg, 19­20/x3(2) crit. His defensive and battlefield control spells have also increased in function.
Level 11: The myrmidarch now owns a +1 cunning, seeking composite longbow, a pair of gloves of dueling, a +3 slick mithral agile breastplate, a +1 medium fortification armored kilt, a belt of incredible dexterity +4, a headband of vast intelligence +2, plus assorted other gear. His unbuffed AC is 28+ and he has a paltry 80hp. He has 4 cantrips and 5/4/4/2 spell slots. His base Dex is 19, soon to be 20 at 12th level.
His full attack routine (hasted, gravity bow, arcane accuracy, arcane pool­enhanced wpn) is now +21(22)/+21(22)/+21(22)/+16(17), for 1d8(2d6)+12(13), 19­20/x3 crit (+2 confirm), +1d6 fire damage with flame arrows. He can haste and otherwise buff himself more frequently than the switch hitter, and gave up the extra threat range to be able to focus on high­volume fire with a bow. Against opponents with weaker ACs, he can drop 1 or 2 points of attack bonus for extra elemental damage.
His ranged spellstrike can drop damage and effects similar to the switch hitter at a +27(28) attack bonus but with a 19­20 threat range. Bad for optimizing the shocking grasp crits, but those extra couple points are nice to make sure the spell hits in the first place (and for save or suck/debuff spells).
The myrmidarch that tries to make the most out of his archetype abilities is going to be a ranged combat gish that focuses more on physical damage than the typical magus. I’ll leave it up to the individual reader whether the numbers add up and are worthwhile, but I think the archetype is an

okay choice for someone who wants to play an archer with arcane abilities (I’ll take it over the arcane archer PrC any day).
This is hopefully a useful guide... if you have any suggestions or thoughts that you feel deserve mentioning for the myrmidarch, feel free to let me know. 

1 comment:

  1. Heroes of the Streets introduces the Eldritch Archer Magus Archetype, which would render the pure ranged Myrmidarch obsolete in PFS if it became legal. For now though, it's not. The other thing in that book that IS legal though is the Reach Spellstrike Arcana. It allows you to treat all your touch range spells as close range spells for purposes of Ranged Spellstrike. So you no longer need the Reach Metamagic to make Myrmidarch work. Might be cause to re-evaluate some things.