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At a low enough level that a character only has one BAB, is there any incentive to using a full attack, or is it more advantageous to hang on to the move action and use a standard attack?

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A full attack only applies if more than one attack occurs, so for a character with only one attack, the full attack action doesn't apply or come into play. –  Wyrmwood Jan 30 at 3:07
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@Wyrmwood Please answer in actual answers. –  mxyzplk Jan 30 at 4:18
    
Well, I rather intended that to be a question for the OP, but I guess my mind wandered a bit :) –  Wyrmwood Jan 30 at 16:13
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3 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

It matters for some characters

If you have, for example, Two-Weapon Fighting, Flurry of Blows, Rapid Shot, or haste, you may have more than one attack even though you have low BAB. You would need a Full-Attack to use those. Even with only one attack, some characters (e.g. a 3rd-level Swordlord Fighter) can get other benefits from making a Full Attack, and therefore may Full-Attack for just one attack, burning their Move action for the sake of that bonus.

But if you have only one attack and don't have any other special feature that references Full Attacks, there is no reason to choose to use one; you'd be burning your Move action for no reason.

Note that you do not choose between Attack and Full-Attack until after that first attack (assuming you still have a Move action to make the Full-Attack an option).

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I don't think your description in the second paragraph is strictly accurate - I believe a character is able to declare a full attack, even if there is no benefit in doing so. The sequence you describe, of converting from a single attack to a Full Attack is optional. –  YogoZuno Jan 30 at 3:54
    
@YogoZuno I'm reasonably sure. You definitely don't have to choose between an Attack and a Full Attack until after the first. I suppose extra attacks wouldn't be required if you had some other benefit, which implies that they aren't necessary in general... –  KRyan Jan 30 at 4:02
    
yeah, that's what I was trying to get at. The 'escalation' to a Full from a Standard attack is correct, but I don't believe there is anything preventing going straight to Full Attack if there was some reason to. –  YogoZuno Jan 30 at 5:30
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One benefit that isn't an extra attack is that at level 3, the Swordlord archetype for Fighter gains +1 deflection during a full attack. I believe you would need to declare your full attack before the first (and only) roll if you provoked an attack, which would only happen if an enemy had a readied action. I can't think of any effects that increases attack rather than AC. –  Jon Claus Jan 30 at 6:04
    
However, if you look to my answer the SRD says explicitly that the first attack is a standard action, and any following attacks convert to full attack. –  CatLord Jan 30 at 13:47
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The first attack does not require a Full Round action

Please see the following from PFSRD:

If you get more than one attack per round because your base attack bonus is high enough (see Base Attack Bonus in Classes), because you fight with two weapons or a double weapon, or for some special reason, you must use a full-round action to get your additional attacks.

Also...

After your first attack, you can decide to take a move action instead of making your remaining attacks

Thus, your first attack is always considered a standard action, no matter what your maximum number of attacks are from all sources. There is a note saying that as long as you have at least a standard action you may consume it with a full round one but that's for non attack related options. So given the rules above, you're not cornered into a full attack at low levels.

Edit: A Charge attack is a Full-Round action but without examining each special ability (maybe you have a character in mind?) there is nothing else.

Charging is a special full-round action that allows you to move up to twice your speed and attack during the action. Charging, however, carries tight restrictions on how you can move.

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A Charge is a totally different action type to Full Attack - see Actions In Combat in the Combat chapter. –  YogoZuno Jan 30 at 3:58
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A charge is not a full attack. However there are full attack actions that are not simply using all your attacks (including bonus attacks like TWF). Both Lunge and Whirlwind Attack count as Full Attack actions. For example, if you had haste, you would get another attack in addition to the two special ones. As I said above, you can choose to make the first attack as part of a full attack; you don't have to wait. One such reason is to get an AC bonus from Swordlord against a readied action. –  Jon Claus Jan 30 at 6:09
    
Edited to show I didn't call a charge a full attack but a full round action. Although +1 to you Jon Claus for the rest of the comment. –  CatLord Jan 30 at 13:05
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If you only have one attack (which is not the same thing as having only one BAB), then as far as I'm aware, there is no need to use the Full Attack action at all, because you would get the same number of attacks either way.

I suppose you could declare a full attack, even if that only meant attacking once. I can't think of any reason to do so; not within the basics of combat, anyway. But if some effect were to depend on using one specific type of attack (or action?) versus the other, then I'd let the player pick.

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