PDA

View Full Version : [4e] My issue with defenders.



Morgan_Scott82
2008-09-10, 01:36 PM
Since the release of fourth edition the one role I've been least excited to play is the defender, which I was fine with, until I joined a party in need of a defender, so I decided it was time to give it a try. I settled on swordmage, since it had both the novelty of being something new, and from the preview documents looked to have interesting and unique powers, but that nagging lack of enthusiasm for the role still plagued my thinking. Over the last few days as we've finally set a start date for the campaign and I've been putting in more work on building and finalizing the character, and as a part of that trying to get into a defender mindset. In doing so I think I've discovered a big part of what turns me off of the role.

In a perfect world a defender hopes to get no uses out of one of his class features...

The fighter attacks a foe and marks him with combat challenge, the fighter hopes that the target will attack him, the target does in fact attack the fighter, combat challenge does nothing. The fighter got his desired outcome and combat challenge does nothing.

The paladin spends a minor action to issue a divine challenge, the paladin is hoping that the target will attack him, the target does in fact attack the paladin, divine challenge does nothing. Once again the fighter got his desired outcome, and divine challenge did nothing.

Finally we have the swordmage who spends a minor action to use his swordmage aegis, he too is hoping that his target will attack him, once again the target does attack him, and swordmage aegis does nothing.

In all three defenders that we've seen so far the hope of the character is that their class feature is useless. That doesn't sit well with me. It could be argued that the reason the target attacked the defender is because of his marking class feature, however there's not necessarily any evidence that the use of the mark altered the creatures plans, and furthermore in what world is getting stabbed a reward for things going according to plan?

Does anyone else have similar feelings? Can anyone offer a different perspective that might change the way I look at defenders? I'm looking forward to the discussion and hearing other opinions.

Tormsskull
2008-09-10, 01:44 PM
Does anyone else have similar feelings? Can anyone offer a different perspective that might change the way I look at defenders? I'm looking forward to the discussion and hearing other opinions.

I don't get that feeling at all. You seem to be looking for a specific numerical advantage for this ability, but that's not what it does (in this case).

If the -2 is enough to convince the marked enemy to attack the Defender, then it wasn't useless, it convinced them to attack the Defender.

If the enemy was going to attack the Defender anyway, and the Defender marked them, then you could make some kind of an argument that it did not have a direct effect, but IIRC it carries on to the next round so it serves as an ongoing incentive for the enemy to continue attacking the Defender.

This gives the Defender a degree of aggro management.

Marshall
2008-09-10, 01:51 PM
Look at it this way.

In my party, we have a Dwarven Sword and Board warrior, who at level 2 has AC 3-4 points better than the rest of the party, higher HP, more surges (with a higher surge value), and can use Second Wind as a minor action. He hits decently hard. We also have a halfling rogue that has much worse AC, HP, and surges, and hits for ridiculous damage.

Monsters getting hit by the warrior feel it. When the rogue guts them with backstabber and sly flourish, they don't just feel it, they hate life. The monster, if it had a brain in its head, would get the heck away from that rogue, but can't so it should kill the rogue...

But, if the monster hits the rogue, the warrior gets a free swing... which means even more pain. Honestly, it's a lose-lose for the monster, unless it thinks it can take the rogue out of the fight in one hit.

I have my monsters decide, many times, to attack 'the bigger threat' even through a mark... it depends on the situation, the monster, etc... but marking isn't a 100% 'never attack someone else'. i think it works pretty well.

Mark Hall
2008-09-10, 01:55 PM
I disagree with you.

The purpose of a mark is to force other people to go after you, or suffer the consequences. It is not that they hope to get no uses out of it, but that the cost of ignoring it is hopefully so high that the person will do what the defender wants... which is to attack the defender.

That said, it's important to use your marks wisely. Marking my wizard is a bad idea for a heavy fighter, since I'll smash him with Reflex or Will saves.

Douglas
2008-09-10, 02:01 PM
A Defender's job is to protect the other party members. He can do this either by being hit instead of them or by making them harder to hurt.

The first option is not likely to happen normally. A Defender typically has high defenses and lots of hit points - he's not going to go down easily, so attacking him is choosing to either not concentrate your fire (really stupid) or leave the rest of the party alone for quite a while. Meanwhile, the Defender has less damage output than the Striker, less battlefield control than the Controller, and less party-boosting ability than the Leader. Offensively, he is significantly less of a threat than any other party member. All of these add up to the conclusion that attacking the Defender is choosing to take longer than normal to eliminate a threat and to eliminate a lesser threat first, generally a rather stupid thing to do.

So, no smart enemy is going to attack the Defender normally if he has any choice in the matter.

Enter a marking ability and abilities that depend on it. Suddenly the bad guy has an incentive to attack the Defender.

Think of it this way: Defenders actually have two distinct sets of class features. One set makes the Defender a tough target, the other debuffs the enemy, buffs you, or both. You can only use one of the two sets against any given enemy at a time, and that enemy gets to choose which one. It doesn't particularly matter which choice the enemy makes, you're doing your job either way.

Yakk
2008-09-10, 02:03 PM
Part of this is the job of building the Defender.

The Defender wants to arrange it so that it is ... sometimes optimal to attack the Defender.

The marking power gives you an edge. Marked enemies take some damage and get a -2 to hit if they attack someone else.

Now, you can go for the high-damage-output fighter, and grab a two handed weapon, and max out your offensive powers.... but then all your mark power does is make enemies attack you.

Or you could go sword and board, grab defensive powers (self healing, temporary HP, defense boosting, etc)... and stick your enemies with a decision. They ignore your mark ... and you get a free attack on them (damage) and they get a -2 penalty to hit.

Or they follow your mark, and hit a player with huge defensive abilities that reduces the enemies effectiveness.

That edge -- the free hit and the -2 to hit for attacking other targets -- is what you, as a defender, want to exploit. You can make yourself that much suckier a target, and the enemies are still stuck with attacking you.

In fact, with enough defense, your enemies might decide "screw that", and attack your friends. Which means you get to attack them, and can end up doing more damage than the high-damage-output fighter!

Plus, if your -2 to hit is as large as the gap between the high-damage-output fighter and your friend's toughness, you also have a better defense...

In short: the Fighter who makes it too optimal to attack the Fighter is screwing up.

Also note that Elites and Solos have less incentive to attack the Defender. Because they take 1 unit of damage when they disobey the mark, and more damage is dealt to the alternative target.

Minions, meanwhile, have more incentive to follow the mark.

MartinHarper
2008-09-10, 02:05 PM
I think it depends on DMing style. I've been DMing marked dumb creatures by having them always attack the player who has marked them, which gives the effect you mention. If I had them always ignore the mark and take the penalty, it would have a different effect. Tactically, killing the fighter seems the best approach, but I'm not sure which is the more fun/realistic approach. Maybe I should mix it up more.

I find that Combat Challenge/Combat Superiority mostly comes into play when the marked creature makes an opportunity attack or tries to run away.

TheOOB
2008-09-10, 02:07 PM
The swordmage class coming out soon actually would usually prefer if their marked target focused on someone else.

Morgan_Scott82
2008-09-10, 02:19 PM
I think it depends on DMing style. I've been DMing marked dumb creatures by having them always attack the player who has marked them, which gives the effect you mention. If I had them always ignore the mark and take the penalty, it would have a different effect. Tactically, killing the fighter seems the best approach, but I'm not sure which is the more fun/realistic approach. Maybe I should mix it up more.

I find that Combat Challenge/Combat Superiority mostly comes into play when the marked creature makes an opportunity attack or tries to run away.

This has been my experiance as well, and it is also the approach recommended by the DMG, and also by James Wyatt's advice to Shelly Mazzanoble in the recent Dragon magazine colum "The Secret Lives of Dungeon Masters" recommending marked creatures always attack the creature that marked them.

Additionally the idea that incentivising the enemy to attack the defender prevents the enemy from attacking more vulnerable party members like Wizards or Warlocks, is not necessarily an advantage and the same result can frequently be achieved through party positioning (facing artillery is an obvious acception) such that to attack the squishies the opponent will have to move and brave several opportunity attacks before reaching the wizard, therefore there is already a disinsentive to attack the squishy even without regard for the marking ability, increasing the likelihood that the enemy would have attacked the defender even without the mark ability further supporting the position that the mark class feature is often (or at least occasionally) of extremely mitigated value.

Starbuck_II
2008-09-10, 02:30 PM
The swordmage class coming out soon actually would usually prefer if their marked target focused on someone else.

Aegis Shielding? yeah, totally agree.

Assualt? Kinda, it is just a basic attack.

Morgan_Scott82
2008-09-10, 02:36 PM
Aegis Shielding? yeah, totally agree.

Assualt? Kinda, it is just a basic attack.

The real trouble with Swordmage Aegis is that it only triggers when at attack hits an ally, whereas the extra effects from Combat Challenge and Divine Challenge rely only on the fact that an attack was made regardless of whether or not the attack hits. But this is above and beyond my other concerns.

Erk
2008-09-10, 03:47 PM
Also, I may be wrong on this, but I believe two defenders' marks stack, giving the monster a guaranteed -2 on his attack no matter who it attacks. poor beast.

ninja_penguin
2008-09-10, 03:53 PM
I'm almost 100% sure that marks override each other, in order to prevent a dual fighter/paladin obliteration of a target.

Douglas
2008-09-10, 04:00 PM
Yeah, any new mark on an enemy removes any previous mark on that enemy.

Erk
2008-09-10, 04:01 PM
Aww. That's unfortunate. Makes having multiple defenders less useful against a Solo.

its_all_ogre
2008-09-10, 04:57 PM
defenders rock!
fighter is pure better compared to paladin if you have no need of additional healing, imo the opportunity attacks halting enemies escaping is that good.

Decoy Lockbox
2008-09-10, 05:09 PM
I'm currently playing a lvl 9 fighter/warlord. One thing I've learned about marking and "tanking" in 4e -- just because you have more AC and hp than the rest of the party, doesn't mean you should be taking all the hits for them. Last session (we were lvl 8 at the time) we fought 5 homebrewed demon-possessed wolves (4 brutes and a soldier leader). In the first round, I used "come and get it" (or as I call it, "fighter magnetism") to draw all five enemies into melee range, then used an action point to use "sweeping blow" with a +20 attack bonus, hitting all five opponents for further damage. I probably racked up about 25 damage per opponent, and marked all of them.

On the wolves' turn, they basically dogpiled on me. And that is how my 76 hp fighter took 180 points of damage in a single fight :smallbiggrin:

So the lesson here is that marking can be a potent tool, but only when used sparingly and with caution. I agree with most of the above posters that whether or not the marked monster attacks you, its a win-win for you (most of the time at least).

Yakk
2008-09-10, 05:14 PM
Aww. That's unfortunate. Makes having multiple defenders less useful against a Solo.
Well, that depends. Is the Marking enough to convince the Solo to attack the marked target?

If so, then you now have the ability to force the Solo to spread damage around over two decent-defense targets.

If not, then you only have the first Defender out-damaging the Striker with the punishment for attacking anyone but the Defender.

You can even pull off initiative tricks, like:
PALADIN
PARTY MEMBER A
FIGHTER
In this case, the Paladin can mark the monster, then party member A can freely provoke an OA knowing that a response will deal extra damage from the paladin.

Then the Fighter marks the monster, and when the monster twacks whomever the monster twacks, more damage is done...

Edge of Dreams
2008-09-10, 06:24 PM
There are a few different situations involving marks/challenges/whatever. I am going to assume that the defender has somewhat better defenses/hp/surges than the rest of the party. I am then going to posit that a monster attacking the defender (as opposed to attacking anyone else in the party) is almost always preferred because the defender can take the hit better, and because focusing the damage on one member of the party makes healing easier. All of the below options also assume that the creature has a choice of who to attack (i.e. is within range of movement/attack and can see another party member).

Spoiler tags for length reasons

Basic situations:

A) On its turn, creature X would have attacked the defender anyway, due to positioning, tactics, whatever. This is beneficial to the party, but the mark/challenge/aegis (MCA from here on) did not contribute to the situation.

B) On its turn, creature X would have attacked a different party member, but decides to attack the defender because of the MCA. This is beneficial to the party, and the MCA has contributed to the fight.

C) On its turn, creature X attacks a different party member despite the MCA. The creature takes a -2 on its attack roll, and either 1) an opportunity attack is made (50-50 chance of rolled damage) 2) the creature takes radiant damage (100% chance of set damage) or 3) the creature's damage output is reduced by a set amount. The only possible outcome of this scenario that doesn't benefit the party is when the creature hits its target despite the -2 and the fighter's opportunity attack misses. Otherwise, the MCA has contributed to the fight.

D) A party member other than the defender provokes an attack of opportunity from creature X. Either the creature gives up the OA (the MCA has contributed) or the creature attacks, causing scenario C above.


Advanced techniques:


E) "You Shall Not Pass" - Fighter only. Wherever a fighter stands, he creates a 15-foot wide area that no creature can easily pass to the other side of without going around. In a 15-foot wide or smaller corridor, the entire party can stand behind the fighter and as long as the fighter succeeds on OA's with his combat superiority, no creature can access the party. The mark helps this by granting OA's on shifts. This is a really nice tactical benefit that depends on marking to work.

F) Double-tanking - Paladin and Swordmage only. These tricky techniques depend on taking advantage of the Paladin and Swordmages ability to use Challenge and Aegis at a distance and against enemies they aren't actually attacking. The basic idea is to place MCA on creature X who is threatening the other members of the party, hoping to cause situations B, C, or D (see above) with that creature. The Paladin or Swordmage then proceeds to position themselves and attack another creature Y in an attempt to cause situation A above. If pulled off properly, the defender's defensive abilities combined with the MCA can allow you to "tank" two creatures simultaneously. This is a really great benefit to the party, and is something I love to do with my Paladin all the time.

G) Kiting - This can be done by any of the three defender classes, but it takes a specific build and/or some creativity. The basic idea is to MCA a creature from a distance, thereby encouraging that creature to move to attack the defender, allowing for tactical repositioning of your enemies. Basically, MCA creature X from a distance and then move/stay away from them, while maintaining the MCA as long as possible. For fighters and paladins, this means finding a way to attack the creature from a distance. My half-elf paladin character picked up Eldritch Blast as his dilletante power for exactly this reason. Either the creature will head toward the defender and attack them (situation B above, with extra tactical movement goodness) or the creature will go attack someone else (situation C, which we have already established is still beneficial in most cases)

As you can see, this shows that the MCA (Mark, Challenge, Aegis) is beneficial in many situations, even if the defender never gets the benefit of his MCA being triggered by an attack against another party member. How often situation B occurs compared to situation C (see above) is entirely an issue of DM-ing style and interpretation of monster's intelligence and tactical preferences, which I will not go into here. Situation A should occur occasionally, but as people have commented above, situation A is usually not a monster's best choice.

EDIT: This analysis also doesn't even begin to look at how MCA interacts with other abilities of defender classes, e.g. the paladin's Bolstering Strike which grants him temporary HP, meaning it's even more beneficial to the party when he is attacked instead of others.

AvatarZero
2008-09-10, 06:38 PM
My Eladrin Fighter isn't much tougher than the rest of my party, but even though he's in an atypical situation for a Defender I'm having a lot of fun murdering my way through encounters. :smallsmile: Here are a few things I've learned through playing. Feel free to tell me if you don't think I know what I'm talking about.

When my group gets shot at, the best thing for me to do is teleport away and charge into the artillery, leaving the rest of the party to fight the first line of combattants. Taking hits is for high CON + high AC fighters (like that dwarf with the rogue friend), preventing hits from ever happening is what I do. If a shooter is using the terrain for cover, chances are that by getting to the right spot and marking I can prevent it from shifting and shooting me, leaving it with a series of terrible options that all involve getting stabbed. (Note that the best case scenario, shift and shoot, still requires getting stabbed.)

You don't have to take all the hits. Other people have healing surges too. Marking an enemy to attract their attacks to you is good, but marking and moving to somewhere inaccessible (teleport again:smallbiggrin:) leaves the monster with an unavoidable -2 to hit. This is basically the same, "prevention beats cure" idea as before. I reckon I'm playing smart, but maybe my friends are too tactful call me a coward.

Final point. You should have a DEX>14. You should be using a longspear. Your Lv1Daily should be Villain's Menace. Your Lv3Enc should be Rain of Blows. Seriously, what are you, a pacifist?

The New Bruceski
2008-09-10, 08:36 PM
Edge of Dreams, good, but a couple of points:

e) a Combat Challenge attack is an interrupt, not an opportunity attack. You can't stop a multi-square shift with it.

f) A Paladin's Challenge requires the paladin to follow up by moving next to the guy or attacking them.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-09-10, 09:17 PM
Edge of Dreams, good, but a couple of points:

f) A Paladin's Challenge requires the paladin to follow up by moving next to the guy or attacking them.

Which is why your Paladin gets Javelins... or even a Hand Crossbow. Attack does not mean you need to hit, and keeping that Wight from zapping your pallies by thread of Radiant Damage isn't the worst use of your time :smallbiggrin:

JaxGaret
2008-09-11, 01:52 AM
In a perfect world a defender hopes to get no uses out of one of his class features...

The fighter attacks a foe and marks him with combat challenge, the fighter hopes that the target will attack him, the target does in fact attack the fighter, combat challenge does nothing. The fighter got his desired outcome and combat challenge does nothing.

The paladin spends a minor action to issue a divine challenge, the paladin is hoping that the target will attack him, the target does in fact attack the paladin, divine challenge does nothing. Once again the fighter got his desired outcome, and divine challenge did nothing.

Finally we have the swordmage who spends a minor action to use his swordmage aegis, he too is hoping that his target will attack him, once again the target does attack him, and swordmage aegis does nothing.

This is incorrect. Combat Challenge, Divine Challenge, and Swordmage Aegis did not do nothing; they contributed to the enemy not attacking a non-Defender in the party.


In all three defenders that we've seen so far the hope of the character is that their class feature is useless.

No, we haven't seen that.


That doesn't sit well with me.

Perhaps there is another reason for why it does not sit well with you, since what you stated above is false.


It could be argued that the reason the target attacked the defender is because of his marking class feature, however there's not necessarily any evidence that the use of the mark altered the creatures plans

Creatures that are marked know that they are marked. It doesn't matter whether or not in specific instances the enemies' plans were altered; that it does and will happen is the point.


, and furthermore in what world is getting stabbed a reward for things going according to plan?

The non-defenders in the party not getting stabbed is the reward.

Perhaps you don't fully grasp the concept and ethos of being a Defender.


Can anyone offer a different perspective that might change the way I look at defenders? I'm looking forward to the discussion and hearing other opinions.

Hopefully I did so.

Kurald Galain
2008-09-11, 04:56 AM
Dragon magazine colum "The Secret Lives of Dungeon Masters" recommending marked creatures always attack the creature that marked them.

I think that's bad advice. While low-intelligence monsters will likely do exactly that, at least some of the party's opponents should be smart enough to use tactics. And no, "attacking the guy who marked you" isn't always the best option.

Zocelot
2008-09-11, 07:17 AM
Is it possible to have a realistic Chaotic Evil defender? They don't seem the type to volunteer to get stabbed so their friends don't.

Kurald Galain
2008-09-11, 07:18 AM
Is it possible to have a realistic Chaotic Evil defender? They don't seem the type to volunteer to get stabbed so their friends don't.

Sure, if they're masochistic.

Tengu_temp
2008-09-11, 07:27 AM
Is it possible to have a realistic Chaotic Evil defender? They don't seem the type to volunteer to get stabbed so their friends don't.

Characters of all alignments can have friends and loyalties. Chaotic evil types might also work as mercenaries or for other selfish reasons - bear in mind, in 4e you usually get wounds only when you're bloodied.

fractic
2008-09-11, 07:29 AM
Is it possible to have a realistic Chaotic Evil defender? They don't seem the type to volunteer to get stabbed so their friends don't.

Just because they are CE doesn't mean that they don't value friends. At least while they are useful. Or maybe it's more like "Hey! I haven't killed you yet get back here!".

Tsotha-lanti
2008-09-11, 07:31 AM
Is it possible to have a realistic Chaotic Evil defender? They don't seem the type to volunteer to get stabbed so their friends don't.

Nevermind friends and loyalties (which are certainly not precluded by a Chaotic Evil alignment) - intelligent CE creatures can understand when "I keep them busy while you get behind them and stab them" is a good tactic.

Starsinger
2008-09-11, 07:34 AM
Nevermind friends and loyalties (which are certainly not precluded by a Chaotic Evil alignment) - intelligent CE creatures can understand when "I keep them busy while you get behind them and stab them" is a good tactic.

Particularly a Fighter. I can see a CE Fighter getting into the OA's just because the monster dared to attack someone else, implying the Fighter isn't worth its time.

Tengu_temp
2008-09-11, 07:38 AM
Particularly a Fighter. I can see a CE Fighter getting into the OA's just because the monster dared to attack someone else, implying the Fighter isn't worth its time.

The Pesci (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThePesci) fighter, then?

Hmm, an interesting concept...

MartinHarper
2008-09-11, 01:24 PM
{my experience is with a Dragonborn Fighter with a two-handed weapon}


Combat Challenge, Divine Challenge, and Swordmage Aegis did not do nothing; they contributed to the enemy not attacking a non-Defender in the party.

This is true in round 1-2. In round 2/3+, the Fighter has taken damage, and may well be bloodied. Meanwhile the other characters are untouched. At this point, the best tactic for the monsters is to pile on the Fighter, regardless of the -2 to hit modifier, even if the Fighter has the best AC. Additionally, the better the job the Fighter does at grabbing aggro in the first round or two, the greater the chance that the -2 to hit becomes irrelevant.

Starsinger
2008-09-11, 01:45 PM
The entire point of a Defender is to say, "Ha ha! They're killing you and you're hitting me!"

Yakk
2008-09-11, 01:48 PM
{my experience is with a Dragonborn Fighter with a two-handed weapon}
Your feats and powers and the like -- are they built around doing more damage, or better defense?

Because your 2-handed choice has already said "less defense, more offense". The more you commit to offense and the less to defense, the less useful the marking powers become -- you become more striker-like, and less defender-like.

Regardless of that...


This is true in round 1-2. In round 2/3+, the Fighter has taken damage, and may well be bloodied. Meanwhile the other characters are untouched. At this point, the best tactic for the monsters is to pile on the Fighter, regardless of the -2 to hit modifier, even if the Fighter has the best AC. Additionally, the better the job the Fighter does at grabbing aggro in the first round or two, the greater the chance that the -2 to hit becomes irrelevant.

Are you trying to get every monster to attack you? That isn't ideal. (especially if you don't have maximized defensive power in your build)

Instead, get about half of the monsters to attack you. You want the rest to spread out and attack other party members.

If and when someone is in serious trouble, you pull out the "everyone must attack me or suffer the consequences" powers and self-toughness abilities.

On the other hand, if you encourage and let everyone to attack you, then you do become a more optimal target to beat on as your defenses get knocked down and your HP falls. Eventually it is you, not your allies, who needs aid.

What you can do at that point is pull back and place yourself in a spot that it is hard to surround you and beat on you. And then mark an opponent so that all of the remaining monsters are not free to beat on whomever they choose -- one must still attack you.

If the monsters try to attack you, you should be in a good defensive position, where not everyone can get into flanking positions and the like, and possibly a position that exposes enemies to OAs as they approach you from your allies.

MartinHarper
2008-09-11, 02:20 PM
I DM for the Fighter in question.


Your feats and powers and the like -- are they built around doing more damage, or better defense?

Level 1, two handed weapon, comeback strike, covering strike, reaping strike, sure strike, enlarged breath.


Are you trying to get every monster to attack you?

The player is just doing what comes naturally - going on the front lines, using her breath attack, and attacking stuff. The Wizard is normally at range, and the Ranger and Rogue have good positioning and some ranged abilities, such that they're rarely in any danger. The Warlord is on the front lines, but has similar damage output to the Fighter.

All this means that monsters are frequently left with the Fighter as the obvious target. She doesn't get all of the attacks, but she gets enough that she is normally the first to get bloodied.

Yakk
2008-09-11, 03:32 PM
I DM for the Fighter in question.

Level 1, two handed weapon, comeback strike, covering strike, reaping strike, sure strike, enlarged breath.
If you are the DM, make sure strike suck less. It is mechanically worse in terms of average damage than reaping strike in every situation, except attacking minions. (It does less average damage than a basic attack, barring insane defenses).

I'd advise making it a "roll twice, if either roll hits, blow connects", keeping the +2 to hit.

(Ie, having a crappy at-will sort of hurts the build.)[1]

Two Handed Weapon right off the bat does make you striker-esque. You are giving up +2 AC and +2 reflex right there.

Enlarged Breath is an offensive many-marking feat. Even more offense. Toughness would be an example of a defensive tanking power for a two-handed fighter at level 1 (5 extra HP, and +1.25 per healing surge, is nice at level 1).

comeback strike: daily that gives you a healing surge. Nice and defensive for boss battles. That helps make up some of the previous offensive choices.

covering strike: This can be used quite nicely for tactical reasons.


The player is just doing what comes naturally - going on the front lines, using her breath attack, and attacking stuff. The Wizard is normally at range, and the Ranger and Rogue have good positioning and some ranged abilities, such that they're rarely in any danger. The Warlord is on the front lines, but has similar damage output to the Fighter.

*nod* -- so, if the Fighter is going first, the other players should move past the fighter and get in the way of the creatures the Fighter has marked. Each of them takes an OA if they just ignore you, or a -2 if they choose to attack you.

Done right, you can split a bunch of damage over the Ranger, the Rogue and the Warlord, while still ensuring that some monsters attack the Fighter or get punished.

Ie: the Ranger/Rogue want to endanger themselves to a certain extent to keep the heat off of the Fighter. Move enemies so that they have to run through OAs to pile on one player. If one of them is taking too much damage, they use their powers to disengage, and the Fighter moves in and locks down those creatures.

Meanwhile, you want to focus damage on one of two creatures if you can, and have them die, reducing enemy numbers.


All this means that monsters are frequently left with the Fighter as the obvious target. She doesn't get all of the attacks, but she gets enough that she is normally the first to get bloodied.

*nod*, and then the Warlord uses minor action healing surges on the Fighter, healing 1/4 the Fighter's HP plus 1d6 per use? That isn't a bad deal for the PCs, is it?

[1] Cleave is better for clearing minions, generally. Or you can use something homebrew, like:
Sentinel's Strike + Fighter Attack 1
"The best defense is a good attack."
At-Will + Martial, Weapon
Standard Action + Melee Weapon
Target: one creature
Attack: Str vs AC
Hit: 1[W] damage, and gain a power bonus to AC equal to 1 plus 1 for every 2 enemies adjacent to you until the start of your next turn. The damage increases to 2[W] at level 21.

(Note that it is mathematically similar to the Paladin's +1 to attack for every adjacent enemy. AC scales better with lots of enemies, so it grows slower, and the AC bonus only works if you manage to connect.)

DM Raven
2008-09-11, 03:45 PM
Defenders are easily the most important characters on the battlefield, at least at lower levels. Almost every time my defender has missed a game, the group as a whole does far worse. The job of the defender is to control the battle so the strikers and the other less armored characters aren't slaughtered...and they will be...

If you are into big damage hits, I would suggest playing one of the striker classes. A defender is more about thinking tactically and working with his leader and strikers to create an optimal battle situation in the face of dangerous odds. Your job isn't really to kill the enemies, but to keep them in check as the battle progresses. A smart group always stays behind their defender and uses him as a base to launch attacks on your foes. (That is unless your DM likes throwing easy encounters at you.)

Now, this being said you can build a defender that deals high damage, but that isn't your primary job in combat. Your strikers and controllers should be handling that.

And as for the "Sure Strike" power, it's fine the way it is. You shouldn't be using sure strike unless you are fighting enemies with high AC and you really want to land a hit for whatever reason. But giving the power two rolls and a +2 would make it stupidly OP. You basically just took a racial encounter ability (elven accuracy) and combined it with an AT WILL power. If you are more about the damage aspect of the defender, I wouldn't take Sure Strike as a power.

Jayabalard
2008-09-11, 04:46 PM
The Pesci (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThePesci) fighter, then?

Hmm, an interesting concept...I think more common would be the sun worshipping cleric who prays to Pesci.

Yakk
2008-09-11, 05:39 PM
And as for the "Sure Strike" power, it's fine the way it is. You shouldn't be using sure strike unless you are fighting enemies with high AC and you really want to land a hit for whatever reason. But giving the power two rolls and a +2 would make it stupidly OP. You basically just took a racial encounter ability (elven accuracy) and combined it with an AT WILL power. If you are more about the damage aspect of the defender, I wouldn't take Sure Strike as a power.

No, it isn't fine.


Let P be your base chance of hitting, A be your damage-not-including-strength, and S be your strength bonus.

Average damage from sure strike (assuming you have at least a 10% chance of missing without it):
(P+.1)*A

Average damage with Reaping strike is:
P*A + S

Let's subtract Reaping minus Sure strike:
P*A + S - (P+.1)*A
S - .1*A

So, Reaping does more damage unless your average damage per hit is 10 times your strength bonus.

I'm guessing that your strength bonus at level 1 is at least +3, and probably +4. So Sure Strike needs [W]+Implement+Other to be 30+ (or maybe 40+) for it to match the average damage of reaping strike.

Sure Strike sucks.

Let's compare it to a Basic Attack!

(P+.1)*A vs (P)(A+S)
subtract:
P*S - .1*A
So, your non-strength damage has to be at least 10 times your strength bonus, times your probability of hitting.

Let's use a 2d6 weapon, with +1 implement bonus, and another +2 from some other source. Or 10 damage average. Rather kick ass for a level 1 character, but ...

And let's give this character a +4 bonus to strength.

P*4 - .1*10
P = 1/4

So Sure Strike beats out a Basic Attack in this case if you need a 16+ to hit.

As I said, it can beat a Basic Attack, and it can be better at killing minions than Reaping Strike -- but Reaping Strike kicks the crap out of Sure Strike in terms of average damage on any target.

4e screwed up with the power.

With two attack rolls:

(1-(.9-P)(.9-P))*A
(1-(.81 - 1.8P + P^2))*A
SS = (.19 + 1.8P - P^2)*A
vs
RS = A*P + S

Set A = 10, S = 4, and we get:
SS = 1.9 + 18P - 10P^2
RS = 10P+4
RS-SS = 10P^2+8P+2.1
P = -8 +/- sqrt(64-84)
-------------------
2
which is imaginary roots -- ie, they don't cross.

Testing at P = .5, S=4, A=10, reaving does:
9 damage per round
Sure does:
8.4 damage per round

Which means that in this condition, Sure Strike still never outdamages Reaving Strike.

That is how bad Sure Strike really is.

See my point? Note that all of the above is speaking about average damage per round, to be clear.

But that's a tangent.

MartinHarper
2008-09-11, 05:40 PM
I think my players will get better tactically with experience, which may make the problem go away.


If you are the DM, make sure strike suck less.

She is certainly tending to use reaping strike rather than sure strike, so that might be a good idea. Then again, she may swap it out when she levels up, and it may get errata'd.


Then the Warlord uses minor action healing surges on the Fighter, healing 1/4 the Fighter's HP plus 1d6 per use? That isn't a bad deal for the PCs, is it?

Absolutely not. Tactically it is good enough. As you note, there are things the players could do better tactically (and they will do), but they do ok as is. The problem I have with it is that it makes the fighter's mark largely irrelevant after the first couple of rounds. In those later rounds you still need to track which creatures are marked, but that extra tracking doesn't really do anything. It just feels like a waste of time.

If I was more confident in my homebrewing abilities, I'd scrap the fighter's mark altogether, and let her use Combat Challenge against all adjacent enemies. That would be quicker and easier.

Edge of Dreams
2008-09-11, 07:04 PM
If I was more confident in my homebrewing abilities, I'd scrap the fighter's mark altogether, and let her use Combat Challenge against all adjacent enemies. That would be quicker and easier.

Bad plan. That makes the fighter's job way too easy. Most party members should be choosing a target based on focus-firing one enemy at a time. The defender chooses a target based on the tactics of which enemies need to be controlled/tanked. Removing the association between attacking and marking for fighters makes the tactics too simple, easy, and boring.

Erk
2008-09-11, 09:17 PM
No, it isn't fine.


Let P be your base chance of hitting, A be your damage-not-including-strength, and S be your strength bonus.

Average damage from sure strike (assuming you have at least a 10% chance of missing without it):
(P+.1)*A

Average damage with Reaping strike is:
P*A + S

Let's subtract Reaping minus Sure strike:
P*A + S - (P+.1)*A
S - .1*A

So, Reaping does more damage unless your average damage per hit is 10 times your strength bonus.

I'm guessing that your strength bonus at level 1 is at least +3, and probably +4. So Sure Strike needs [W]+Implement+Other to be 30+ (or maybe 40+) for it to match the average damage of reaping strike.

Sure Strike sucks.

Let's compare it to a Basic Attack!

(P+.1)*A vs (P)(A+S)
subtract:
P*S - .1*A
So, your non-strength damage has to be at least 10 times your strength bonus, times your probability of hitting.

Let's use a 2d6 weapon, with +1 implement bonus, and another +2 from some other source. Or 10 damage average. Rather kick ass for a level 1 character, but ...

And let's give this character a +4 bonus to strength.

P*4 - .1*10
P = 1/4

So Sure Strike beats out a Basic Attack in this case if you need a 16+ to hit.

As I said, it can beat a Basic Attack, and it can be better at killing minions than Reaping Strike -- but Reaping Strike kicks the crap out of Sure Strike in terms of average damage on any target.

4e screwed up with the power.

With two attack rolls:

(1-(.9-P)(.9-P))*A
(1-(.81 - 1.8P + P^2))*A
SS = (.19 + 1.8P - P^2)*A
vs
RS = A*P + S

Set A = 10, S = 4, and we get:
SS = 1.9 + 18P - 10P^2
RS = 10P+4
RS-SS = 10P^2+8P+2.1
P = -8 +/- sqrt(64-84)
-------------------
2
which is imaginary roots -- ie, they don't cross.

Testing at P = .5, S=4, A=10, reaving does:
9 damage per round
Sure does:
8.4 damage per round

Which means that in this condition, Sure Strike still never outdamages Reaving Strike.

That is how bad Sure Strike really is.

See my point? Note that all of the above is speaking about average damage per round, to be clear.

But that's a tangent.
Sure strike can be improved in a much more standard way.

Instead of STR+2 vs AC, make it STR+(strength modifier) vs AC.

Sure strike is still a lower damage ability by a substantial margin, I know; I would argue it is meant that way. It is meant to:
-mark opponents reliably in an emergency
-take out minions
-get some kind of smack down on the slippery baddies
It does suck too much RAW though. I think changing it to Str mod fixes it in a more elegant way than your fairly complicated mechanism. It's simply not a damage dealer, but with a bonus based on skill (which it presently lacks) it's a reasonably balanced tactical ability.

If you're still not satisfied, mix things up and put back the flat +2 from before, but on damage this time ;) it fits with the "sure" aspect by making the minimum damage guaranteed to be moderately useful

Starsinger
2008-09-11, 09:55 PM
Instead of STR+2 vs AC, make it STR+(strength modifier) vs AC.

I like Strength + Wisdom better, same modifier as your OA's so it's familiar and comfortable.

Yakk
2008-09-11, 10:50 PM
Sure strike is still a lower damage ability by a substantial margin, I know; I would argue it is meant that way. It is meant to:
-mark opponents reliably in an emergency
You don't have to hit to mark.


-take out minions
Barring the "one minion in range" situation, cleave kicks the crap out of sure strike when killing minions.


-get some kind of smack down on the slippery baddies

Utterly destroyed by reaping strike, and only defeats a basic attack in terms of damage per round on a relatively narrow range. And an even narrower range where it is significant.


It does suck too much RAW though. I think changing it to Str mod fixes it in a more elegant way than your fairly complicated mechanism. It's simply not a damage dealer, but with a bonus based on skill (which it presently lacks) it's a reasonably balanced tactical ability.

Wis is tempting. Another idea would be to have it give a to-hit bonus equal to your weapon's secondary attribute (Wis for Polearms, Dex for Blades, Con for Hammers/Axes/Staves), which is nice and flavorful.

TheOOB
2008-09-12, 01:48 AM
Sure strike has it's uses, it's just that all three of the fighters other at-wills are better in 9 out of 10 situations. In particular, sure strike combined with heavy blade opportunist is nasty for a fighter, or if you have a weapon daily you really need to hit with now.

Personally though, I don't see why you don't get your strength to damage with sure strike, reaping strike with a 2H weapon would still get a higher average damage(baring certain situations where the extra chance of hitting is more important than a little extra damage on a miss). Paladins get their strength bonus to damage with valiant strike, it pretty much guarantees a +1 bonus to attacks rolls, with +2 and +3 bonuses being common, and bonuses up to +8 possible, and I don't see being in the thick of a bunch of foes any more of the paladins stick then the fighters.

In the long run I suppose I see it kind of like the wizards cloud of daggers, its not bad, it's just a fairly specialized technique, the difference is that the wizard got an extra at-will to compensate, so we just need to make another at-will for a fighter so humans don't have to take a specialty technique.

Erk
2008-09-12, 09:06 AM
Adding your weapon's Relevant Stat to attack rolls and keeping Str to damage, actually, seems perfect. Because of the 2-attribute dependency (for many weapons) it balances out a bit... I likes it.

House Rul'd!

Blackfang108
2008-09-12, 10:00 AM
In the long run I suppose I see it kind of like the wizards cloud of daggers, its not bad, it's just a fairly specialized technique, the difference is that the wizard got an extra at-will to compensate, so we just need to make another at-will for a fighter so humans don't have to take a specialty technique.

Cloud of Daggers is a lifesave fro my group.

Our wizard has killed MANY people by using it round after round.

And defenders are not useless.

We didn't have one for two sessions. The Elandrin Warlord (me) was tanking, and I'd been dropped to negatives three times in two sessions, as well as almost being executed. (Glory to the Raven Queen for Fey Step.)

Now, our Ranger has become a Paladin. (the ranger didn't have Fey Step.)

I look forward to our first actual combat with him. (the only fight we had last session had me barrign a Door. When the guy surrendered, he called off his guards.)

Decoy Lockbox
2008-09-15, 07:23 PM
Adding your weapon's Relevant Stat to attack rolls and keeping Str to damage, actually, seems perfect. Because of the 2-attribute dependency (for many weapons) it balances out a bit... I likes it.

House Rul'd!

As someone playing a sword + shield fighter with a 20 strength, I would love for this to be legal in my game -- reaping strike isn't great when you deal 2 damage on a miss. However, this version sounds overpowered to me. Not broken, mind you, but a little overpowered. Can someone do the calculations on this version of Sure Strike?

Yakk
2008-09-15, 08:26 PM
Insured Strike + Fighter Attack 1
First, you must connect.
Standard Action + At-Will, Melee, Weapon
Target: One enemy
Attack: Str vs AC (see special)
Hit: [W] damage (increases to 2[W] at level 21)
Special: Grants a bonus to your attack roll based on the weapon. Hammers, Axes, Maces and Quarterstaffs add your Con to the attack roll. Light Blades and Heavy Blades add Dexterity to your attack roll. Polearms add Wisdom to your attack roll. In the case where more than 1 weapon category applies, pick the highest.

-------------------

Suppose your primary attack stat is +4, +1 every 6 levels, and your secondary is +3, +1 every 6 levels.

Suppose in addition that your weapon is a 1d10 weapon, it has a +1 enchantment every 5 levels, and you get additional sources of damage coming to +1 every ~4 levels (+7 over 30 levels).

Then your average damage with a normal attack is 9.5+0.6*Level, and with Insured Strike is 5.5+0.4*Level.

If your normal attack has a 35% chance to hit, then this attack has a (50%+5/6* Level) chance to hit.


Normal attack: .35*(9.5+L*.6) = 3.325+.21*L
Insured attack: (.5+L/120)*(5.5+L*.4) = 2.75+.2*L + ~L*0.0483 + L^2/300
= 2.75+.248 L + L^2/300

Insured - Normal = L^2/300 + 0.0383 L - 0.575

At 30: 3 + 1.15 - 0.575 =~ 3.575
At 1: -0.533...

So it ends up being relatively close to a basic attack in average damage.

If you back up and compare with reaping, reaping does:

P*A + S
average damage, while Insured Strike does:
(P + B/20)*(A)

Subtract and you get:

A*B/20 - S
where B is your secondary stat bonus, A is your damage without strength, and S is your strength bonus.

If B = (3+Level/6), we get:
A*(.15 + L/120) - S
which intersects at A =~ S*6 at level 1, down to A =~ 2.0 * S at level 30.

The problem here, of course, is that this describes a power that isn't all that good at level 1, but matches or exceeds reaping strike's average damage by level 30.

That ... isn't good.

....

A way that has less problems might be to add your secondary stat as DAMAGE, and let it keep it's +2 bonus to hit.

Ie:
Ensured Strike + Fighter Attack 1
First, you must connect.
Standard Action + At-Will, Melee, Weapon
Target: One enemy
Attack: Str+2 vs AC
Hit: [W] damage (increases to 2[W] at level 21), and see special.
Special: Grants a bonus to your damage roll based on the weapon. Hammers, Axes, Maces and Quarterstaffs add your Con to the damage roll. Light Blades and Heavy Blades add Dexterity to your damage roll. Polearms add Wisdom to your damage roll. In the case where more than 1 weapon category applies, pick the highest.

---

Now that is clearly better than a basic attack (assuming you have a decent secondary attack stat for your weapon).

It deals

(P+.1)(A+B)
instead of reapings:
P*A + S
Ensured minus Reaping is then:
.1*A + (P+.1)*B - S
or
.1*A + (P+.1)*B = S
is the point that Ensured passes Reaping.

Setting A + 5.5+(L*.4) and S = (4+L/6) and B = (3+L/6) we get:
.55+L/25 + (P)(3+L/6) +.3+L/60 = 4+L/6
(P)(3+L/6) = -.3-L/60 + 4+L/6 -.55 - L/25
(P)(3+L/6) = -.3-L/60 + 4+L/6 -.55 - L/25
(P)(3+L/6) = 3.15 + .11*L

At L = 1, 10, 20 and 30, we get:
(P)(3+L/6) = 3.15 + .11*L
P = 1.0294736842105263157894736842105 @ L 1
P = 0.91071428571428571428571428571429 @ L 10
P = 0.84473684210526315789473684210526 @ L 20
P = 0.80625 @ L 30

Hmm. It still sucks.

Helgraf
2008-09-15, 10:41 PM
Is it possible to have a realistic Chaotic Evil defender? They don't seem the type to volunteer to get stabbed so their friends don't.

Alignment doesn't make good tactics suddenly a bad idea.