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    frown Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    1. Why do all threads devolve into an assumption of an arena duel format between the classes in question? Suppose one is comparing the druid spell list with the wizard's; it is largely irrelevant to mention the counters a wizard would have to a druid's best spells, because most of a druid's enemies are not wizards*! And yet nearly every thread will do this, some more than once.

    2. How should this be prevented? Attempt to educate offending posters about the folly of the "arena fallacy", perhaps?


    * The exceptions tend to be at high levels and/or high op, neither of which are as common as some might think.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    People get defensive over their favorite class.

    The best way not to fuel the fire is to avoid presenting an opportunity for said fire.
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    If the wizard is played even half competently then you stand not a chance in hell.

    If the wizard is well played then he can kill you by punching you to death. Why? Because he is immune to death. As in you flat out do not have the capability to kill him regardless of what you do.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    For some classes an arena duel can be relevant: Fighter vs Barbarian for example.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    ...because it's tremendously easier than any other standard of comparison. Even an Arena duel can be difficult to set up, with a lot of finagling on both sides. Any more complicated comparison would pretty much require running a whole quest series, far beyond the time and effort most forumgoers would even consider attempting just to settle a debate.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    People get defensive over their favorite class.

    The best way not to fuel the fire is to avoid presenting an opportunity for said fire.
    I suppose this is true. It's no less frustrating to see it in action through someone else's carelessness, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwendol View Post
    For some classes an arena duel can be relevant: Fighter vs Barbarian for example.
    Well, true, but even there if the focus is on PvP, rather than PvM, it can skew things somewhat. For example, NPCs may lack certain equipment- or spell-backed strategies, because they don't have the resources of a PC. It's not as significant, though, because those two classes do not have as much to differentiate themselves anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by sonofzeal View Post
    ...because it's tremendously easier than any other standard of comparison. Even an Arena duel can be difficult to set up, with a lot of finagling on both sides. Any more complicated comparison would pretty much require running a whole quest series, far beyond the time and effort most forumgoers would even consider attempting just to settle a debate.
    To clarify: I wasn't strictly speaking about a full-on mini-game to be run to settle things, although that is obviously an even more extreme example. But even when discussing a single spell or class feature, too often the discussion focuses on how it can directly be countered by the other class's spell or feature.

    You're right, though, that it is easy to fall into the pattern, but that's just intellectual laziness, I think. Not that all disagreements should be settled by posting in PbP Recruiting for a full campaign, by any means, but that discussion should at least try to center around the more common roles in parties, or solo, acting against the broad range of enemies. (A little laziness is a good thing, but too much is very bad. )
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    The problem with keeping the arena out of the argument (especially with spellcasters) is the endless tirade of spells and counters that will ensue. The problem is that many arguments are low on specifics (=builds) and high on google-fu and WBL-mancy. Perhaps that is a way to steer arguments away from pure theory, while still keeping off the duels. With a specific build one can build specific challenges.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Because in any discussion of Tiers it is always assumed every spellcaster has every spell ever published all the time whenever they need the most perfect spell for any situation ever, always getting through spell resistance, the opponent always failing the saving throw, and having any feat ever published that facilitates overcoming whatever the situation is to justify their rant against Tier 1, rant against Tiers 4-, adoration of Tier 3, or bash 3E in general. Arena combat facilitates the bias. Such an occurrence only happens in theory on paper as an intellectual exercise, not actual practice of play.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Correct. By presenting actual builds, perhaps it would be easier compare classes since the forum can then pitch them against specific challenges.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by navar100 View Post
    Because in any discussion of Tiers it is always assumed every spellcaster has every spell ever published all the time whenever they need the most perfect spell for any situation ever, always getting through spell resistance, the opponent always failing the saving throw, and having any feat ever published that facilitates overcoming whatever the situation is to justify their rant against Tier 1, rant against Tiers 4-, adoration of Tier 3, or bash 3E in general. Arena combat facilitates the bias. Such an occurrence only happens in theory on paper as an intellectual exercise, not actual practice of play.
    This just isn't accurate. Among other things, the many of the most broken or easily abused spells (e.g. Glitterdust, Grease, Color Spray, Gate, Timestop, Wish) are in core. The tier system is alive and well without any splatbooks. It is true that an arena does favor a wizard slightly more because they have time to prepare and preparation is important for wizards but that's a distinct claim.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaZ View Post
    This just isn't accurate. Among other things, the many of the most broken or easily abused spells (e.g. Glitterdust, Grease, Color Spray, Gate, Timestop, Wish) are in core. The tier system is alive and well without any splatbooks. It is true that an arena does favor a wizard slightly more because they have time to prepare and preparation is important for wizards but that's a distinct claim.
    Err... he didn't actually imply that splatbooks were the problem at any point there. What he's describing is known as "Shrodinger's Wizard", and it's a real phenomenon.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Even so, there are "toolbox" spells (e.g. Polymorph and summons/Planar Binding) that most wizards can be assumed to have, which counter a great deal of their opposition. There are also very standard defenses like invisibility or flight, and very standard utility like Celerity/Time Stop. Assuming these basic spells is not Schrodinger in my opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Even so, there are "toolbox" spells (e.g. Polymorph and summons/Planar Binding) that most wizards can be assumed to have, which counter a great deal of their opposition. There are also very standard defenses like invisibility or flight, and very standard utility like Celerity/Time Stop. Assuming these basic spells is not Schrodinger in my opinion.
    The point that the OP is making is that, when talking about the utility of a druid, it shouldn't matter (much) whether a wizard can counter them.

    I noticed the trend the OP is talking about in the other thread as well, and was also annoyed by it. The argument basically went like this: "A wizard can trump any of the druid's tricks, therefore a wizard is better than a druid."

    I like the idea of an Arena Fallacy, and propose the following gist.

    Arena Fallacy: The idea that the best way to compare the utility of two options in D&D is to have characters using them fight against each other.

    The Arena Fallacy is a fallacy because most (or at least a lot of) D&D combat is a group of players against enemies which may or may not even have class levels.

    Edit: As for *why* that trend exists, I think it's there for a few reasons. First and foremost, it's simply easier to think about than this nebulous idea of "the average of all encounters", or whatever other alternative is there. Second, there's a fair bit of human nature and societal norms built around direct confrontation. It's the same thing that leads to a fist fight over who's better at a sport.
    Last edited by Salanmander; 2012-06-15 at 12:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Salanmander View Post
    I like the idea of an Arena Fallacy, and propose the following gist.

    Arena Fallacy: The idea that the best way to compare the utility of two options in D&D is to have characters using them fight against each other.

    The Arena Fallacy is a fallacy because most (or at least a lot of) D&D combat is a group of players against enemies which may or may not even have class levels.
    I do not think is a fallacy at all: the simple fact that in a campaign you could face enemies with class levels means that you should be aware that a Wizard has many options against a Fighter, while the Fighter has few option against a Wizard. Of course this is just an example, no intention to start a debate Fighter vs. Wizard. I just want to point out that an arena fight could be a good way to see if a class could be a reasonable challenge to the party and if not, what kind of tweaks it requires to not utterly destroy it, or give it a good fight.
    An example: if I want to put a Wizard against a mostly melee with low will saves party, I should be aware that throw a Glitterdust against it while airborne could result in a party wipe, especially if the Wizard has backup. An arena fight could tell you that without simulating every possible scenario.
    Last edited by Engine; 2012-06-15 at 12:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    While I agree that a closed duel isn't the best way to compare tiers (I personally prefer a series of typical adventuring challenges, including non-combat encounters) - the use of Arena Fallacy doesn't necessarily invalidate the claim that the Wizard has greater utility than the Druid. Until both get access to Shapechange, the Wizard's spell list has a clear advantage even outside of a fight; greater facility with divinations, earlier access to astral/extraplanar travel, more social uses etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    First, please don't start threads with ideas you don't support just to see what reactions you get. That's almost the definition of trolling.

    Second, the whole "blue text" thing is not a forum rule or even a recommended procedure. If someone wants to do it in their own posts, fine, but everyone should stop telling people that they "need to" or "should have" posted in blue just because they're being sarcastic/ironic/whatever.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Engine View Post
    I do not think is a fallacy at all: the simple fact that in a campaign you could face enemies with class levels means that you should be aware that a Wizard has many options against a Fighter, while the Fighter has few option against a Wizard. Of course this is just an example, no intention to start a debate Fighter vs. Wizard. I just want to point out that an arena fight could be a good way to see if a class could be a reasonable challenge to the party and if not, what kind of tweaks it requires to not utterly destroy it, or give it a good fight.
    An example: if I want to put a Wizard against a mostly melee with low will saves party, I should be aware that throw a Glitterdust against it while airborne could result in a party wipe, especially if the Wizard has backup. An arena fight could tell you that without simulating every possible scenario.
    But the point is that we're trying to evaluate which will contribute more in a party. Let's take one wizard who focuses on scry-and-die tactics, contingency-teleports away when they take damage or are targeted by any non-harmless spell, and only knows single target spells because they always get their target alone. A second wizard focuses on battlefield control, keeps themselves safe-ish with a contingent mirror image, and has a mix of spells like Otto's Irresistable Dance and spells like solid fog.

    The first wizard will flat out win in an arena with the second wizard, no questions asked. However, the second wizard will likely contribute more in a party.

    Arena combat may be a relevant thing to think about when creating PCs, and it's *certainly* important when you're a DM creating challenges with class levels, but it's not the best way to compare how much two PCs will contribute in a party.

    (Sure, the first wizard could take down any target given enough time (which he has), but the party may get bored and go "screw this, we're a druid, a different wizard, and a warblade, we can take it ourselves", or may be left in combat when the wizard contingency-teleports away.)


    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren
    While I agree that a closed duel isn't the best way to compare tiers (I personally prefer a series of typical adventuring challenges, including non-combat encounters) - the use of Arena Fallacy doesn't necessarily invalidate the claim that the Wizard has greater utility than the Druid. Until both get access to Shapechange, the Wizard's spell list has a clear advantage even outside of a fight; greater facility with divinations, earlier access to astral/extraplanar travel, more social uses etc.
    True. It simply invalidates the particular argument of "Wizard beats up X, therefore X is not useful in a party".

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Salanmander View Post
    The point that the OP is making is that, when talking about the utility of a druid, it shouldn't matter (much) whether a wizard can counter them.

    [...]

    The Arena Fallacy is a fallacy because most (or at least a lot of) D&D combat is a group of players against enemies which may or may not even have class levels.
    Yes, exactly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Salanmander View Post
    Edit: As for *why* that trend exists, I think it's there for a few reasons. First and foremost, it's simply easier to think about than this nebulous idea of "the average of all encounters", or whatever other alternative is there. Second, there's a fair bit of human nature and societal norms built around direct confrontation. It's the same thing that leads to a fist fight over who's better at a sport.
    These are both fair points. I don't suppose there's much that can be done about the second one, except to try to discourage it where possible; the first, though, can perhaps be reduced by formalizing condensed "standard" encounter sets. E.g., a set of four-five widely differentiated encounters with which to compare the classes, either by running them through, or simply theorycrafting. (Essentially, the encounter series Psyren mentioned, standardized.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Engine View Post
    I do not think is a fallacy at all: the simple fact that in a campaign you could face enemies with class levels means that you should be aware that a Wizard has many options against a Fighter, while the Fighter has few option against a Wizard. Of course this is just an example, no intention to start a debate Fighter vs. Wizard. I just want to point out that an arena fight could be a good way to see if a class could be a reasonable challenge to the party and if not, what kind of tweaks it requires to not utterly destroy it, or give it a good fight.
    This is true, as far as it goes, but the fallacy lies in trying to use the comparison for more than it actually works for. Fighters are a fairly good stand-in for all kinds of mundane classes and monsters, but what about a comparison of Shadowcaster vs. Truenamer? There are very very few monsters that use either of those subsystems, and not too many NPCs for that matter, and a direct arena comparison is therefore next to useless for determining their respective value in a party.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    I just want to make a distinction here:

    Arena Fallacy: Arguing the relative effectiveness of classes in standard PvM play by pitting two classes directly against each other in a PvP style.

    This is distinct from:

    The "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better Argument: This is directly comparing competing class features, like comparing the Wizard's level 1 spell list to the Druid's. Done correctly, this isn't a fallacy, as you're comparing the capabilities of two classes.

    Arena Fallacy: "In-game, a Psion is much better than a Wizard because the Psion can make Black Lotus Extract which kills Wizards easily."

    Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better Argument: "Wizard 1 is a better control caster than Druid 1 as Grease and Colour Spray are better than Entangle."
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    The answer is simple enough. The people that play with the tier system and arena duels are playing their own special form of D&D: The 80's fight video game variant. Ye Old Mortal Combat is a great example-to foes would pop out of no where, stand face to face and the big words 'Fight' would come on the screen. This is the 80's fight video game variant of D&D. In this variant the world is simple a bunch of arena style duels.

    And you can see that this variant is popular. Lots of people like video games, so they also like this variant. This variant stresses as little role play as possible, and is just all about the toe to toe fight.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by sonofzeal View Post
    Err... he didn't actually imply that splatbooks were the problem at any point there. What he's describing is known as "Shrodinger's Wizard", and it's a real phenomenon.
    Really? Because "having any feat ever published" and "most perfect spell for any situation ever" sound like an issue of splatbooks. The comment being made wasn't about Schrodinger's Wizard- that's a problem that applies in these discussions whether or not one is in the arena situation.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by kardar233 View Post
    I just want to make a distinction here:

    Arena Fallacy: Arguing the relative effectiveness of classes in standard PvM play by pitting two classes directly against each other in a PvP style.

    This is distinct from:

    The "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better Argument: This is directly comparing competing class features, like comparing the Wizard's level 1 spell list to the Druid's. Done correctly, this isn't a fallacy, as you're comparing the capabilities of two classes.

    Arena Fallacy: "In-game, a Psion is much better than a Wizard because the Psion can make Black Lotus Extract which kills Wizards easily."

    Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better Argument: "Wizard 1 is a better control caster than Druid 1 as Grease and Colour Spray are better than Entangle."
    Hey, you stole my idea to kill that pesky wizard!

    In all seriousness, this is important point. A lot of the time it is Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better when people talk about arenas. An example is the monk as a spellcaster slayer. I recall seeing someone saying how a monk could be built to kill a wizard, and another poster gave an example of how a wizard could counter each point and do the same but better.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithril Leaf View Post
    Hey, you stole my idea to kill that pesky wizard!

    In all seriousness, this is important point. A lot of the time it is Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better when people talk about arenas. An example is the monk as a spellcaster slayer. I recall seeing someone saying how a monk could be built to kill a wizard, and another poster gave an example of how a wizard could counter each point and do the same but better.
    I was going to PM you about it because I wanted to know, but then you posted it later. Elegant solution. Watch out for Necropolitans.

    If you're specifically building a character to kill casters, then a PvP conflict is perfectly applicable, as a PC caster is fairly representative of a target of yours.

    However, if you're building a character as part of a party (which I'd say most people are actually talking about) then you're comparing your effectiveness in your role versus any competing builds, which doesn't necessarily correspond to their effectiveness in an arena setting.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaZ View Post
    Really? Because "having any feat ever published" and "most perfect spell for any situation ever" sound like an issue of splatbooks. The comment being made wasn't about Schrodinger's Wizard- that's a problem that applies in these discussions whether or not one is in the arena situation.
    I don't have a problem with splatbooks. I have a problem with people saying spellcasters have everything all the time any time to justify their biases when in actual game play that is not the case.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Mithril Leaf View Post
    Hey, you stole my idea to kill that pesky wizard!

    In all seriousness, this is important point. A lot of the time it is Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better when people talk about arenas. An example is the monk as a spellcaster slayer. I recall seeing someone saying how a monk could be built to kill a wizard, and another poster gave an example of how a wizard could counter each point and do the same but better.
    Yeah, if it's Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better, that is a perfectly valid way of saying one class is superior to the other.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    The answer is simple enough. The people that play with the tier system and arena duels are playing their own special form of D&D: The 80's fight video game variant. Ye Old Mortal Combat is a great example-to foes would pop out of no where, stand face to face and the big words 'Fight' would come on the screen. This is the 80's fight video game variant of D&D. In this variant the world is simple a bunch of arena style duels.

    And you can see that this variant is popular. Lots of people like video games, so they also like this variant. This variant stresses as little role play as possible, and is just all about the toe to toe fight.
    I'm pretty sure Mortal Kombat is from the 90s.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwendol View Post
    Correct. By presenting actual builds, perhaps it would be easier compare classes since the forum can then pitch them against specific challenges.
    I've seen this happen, and it usually ends with disagreement over whether the challenges were fair (proportional to how much one side's pet class didn't do as well as hoped.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    "Cold is better for cooking food than heat!"=wrong. As simple as that.
    Quote Originally Posted by moritheil View Post
    But we even have real world examples of cold cooking, so is it so unreasonable to say that in a fantasy world that could be the norm and that cold COULD be better than heat for cooking?

    You can produce several million pounds of Tarrasque steak every day! (Better hope he's edible.)

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by navar100 View Post
    I don't have a problem with splatbooks. I have a problem with people saying spellcasters have everything all the time any time to justify their biases when in actual game play that is not the case.
    Whereas 'Schroedinger's wizard' is theoretical, it's not very far from the reality of practical gameplay (assuming smart play from the wizard).

    First of all, full casters can be proactive. As a non-caster, you're more or less forced to follow the plot line. If you're in point A and want to get to point B, you have to follow the route the DM has built between points A and B. A caster is not bound by these restrictions. He can straight-line fly to point B, teleport there or even skip directly to C since he doesn't really need to pass by point B in order to get there. Often, the wizard isn't perfectly prepared to face situation X because he just happened to be, he's perfectly prepared because he went looking for situation X specifically.

    Consider the following situation: a character arrives in town, and hears there's a hydra terrorizing the population in the swamps, about one week's walk from it. The fighter can wake up next morning, say to himself 'I'm going to slay the hydra' and buy whatever stuff he feel he'd need for that (he can't customize anything more than item). Even if he's well prepared to face a hydra, he still needs to walk for a week until he gets there, exposing himself to numerous more-or-less random encounters he has no prior idea about. What if the wizard wakes up saying to himself 'I'm going to slay a hydra'? He prepares as many divination&scrying spells as needed to get a good feeling for what he'll be op against, then next morning prepares his spell list accordingly. He teleports in, full of anti-hydra spells, slays the hydra and is back before lunch.

    Secondly, casters have divinations. There's virtually no way for a non-caster to know the future, whereas a full caster, depending on what's acceptable at the table can get anything from general tips to fully customizable spell lists for tomorrow.

    And third, it's very hard to make a wizard fight unprepared. Even if you somehow manage to inconvenience him, he can usually just leave, and come back for you when he's prepared (that might mean even as soon as a few minutes). Encounters that can both put the wizard at a disadvantage and stop him from leaving are few, and usually involve other wizards.
    Last edited by LordBlades; 2012-06-16 at 01:44 AM.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    I just like the treads that say, my friend thinks class X is awesome and i want to prove him wrong with class Y (usally wizard, cleric or druid). They ask for a build and people give suggestions that are always in the line of a one round combo, there is some aguments over it.
    Then the person who wanted the build in the first place never says how the fight went.
    16 years of schooling and my english is still bad.

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by crazyhedgewizrd View Post
    Then the person who wanted the build in the first place never says how the fight went.
    Of course not. He got what he wanted.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    "Cold is better for cooking food than heat!"=wrong. As simple as that.
    Quote Originally Posted by moritheil View Post
    But we even have real world examples of cold cooking, so is it so unreasonable to say that in a fantasy world that could be the norm and that cold COULD be better than heat for cooking?

    You can produce several million pounds of Tarrasque steak every day! (Better hope he's edible.)

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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    The answer is simple enough. The people that play with the tier system and arena duels are playing their own special form of D&D: The 80's fight video game variant. Ye Old Mortal Combat is a great example-to foes would pop out of no where, stand face to face and the big words 'Fight' would come on the screen. This is the 80's fight video game variant of D&D. In this variant the world is simple a bunch of arena style duels.
    Well, this sounds more like speculation, although there is certainly something to it. I don't think that's a universal explanation, though. (Also, did you just mix the tier system in with arena duel fallacies? If so, I am going to have to frown very hard in your direction.)

    Quote Originally Posted by kardar233 View Post
    If you're specifically building a character to kill casters, then a PvP conflict is perfectly applicable, as a PC caster is fairly representative of a target of yours.

    However, if you're building a character as part of a party (which I'd say most people are actually talking about) then you're comparing your effectiveness in your role versus any competing builds, which doesn't necessarily correspond to their effectiveness in an arena setting.
    Another excellent rephrasing.

    Quote Originally Posted by moritheil View Post
    I've seen this happen, and it usually ends with disagreement over whether the challenges were fair (proportional to how much one side's pet class didn't do as well as hoped.)
    Hmm, I should probably go back and reexamine Test of Spite, although that was too PvP-oriented, IIRC.

    Quote Originally Posted by LordBlades View Post
    (stuff about fighters vs wizards)
    While this is generally a good analysis, it's not meta enough for the main subject of this thread.
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    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
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    Default Re: Two questions about class/tier comparisons [a bit of a rant]

    The way I see it is that Arena comparisons simply won't work. Even the "Anything you can do I can do better" doesn't seem to work all that well for comparing classes simply because of Optimization levels, play preferences, available character building materials, and character purpose. An "Anything you can do..." character shouldn't be used in most actual play groups because you have to be some kind of jerk to design a character that can outshine the rest of the party unless they play the same thing you do meaning outside of TO this argument is pointless. If its used to try and show how one class can excel at one particular thing over another class it will eventually escalate to "the wizard chain-gates" or some other well known trick. The Arena fight is useless too because going in the characters will be designed to specifically destroy the other character.

    What does that leave as a possible measure of the classes then?

    Versatility, hard control, and straight power seem to be the standards for how the tier system was put together, but I find that there are some indescrepencies depending on the character's level i.e a level 1 wizard is not as useful as a level 1 rogue, but at level 10 there's a big switch in power levels. So when comparing characters we also have to ask what level they are being compared at (especially considering how many ways there are to break the game by level 20). Another reason the tier system doesn't work as well as we would like is because it doesn't take optimization fully into account (but I won't waste the time posting build examples of some of my tier 3s and 4s that can and have kept the pace with 1s (for example I outshone a mailman build with a straight Dread Necromancer)

    A big comparison that I've seen has been druid vs. cleric vs. wizard but it all depends on the focus of the build, both technically and [B]flavour wise[B] (which usually gets left out of class comparisons despite it being as important as class power for the purpose of fun play). Considering that the biggest power point for those three is versatility it would be pointless to try and limit them like that for comparison. So what are we left with?

    My personal favourite way to compare classes is the gauntlet. A series of encounters decided entirely at random including a blend between skills, fighting, puzzles, and other types. 4 or so of those(since the game was designed on that thought) with a 4 man party of that one class (each built for a different purpose). See how you do, and detract points for crossclassing (since the test is if the class alone can handle the encounter).

    This leads to one last problem. PrCs, and multiclassing is a big part of D&D, so is things like LA and ECL so how can that be judged? it can't. Plain as simple. There is simply too many things out there that can boost any of the existing base classes to accurately judge the potential of the class as a whole. What is probably the only important thing to compare classes on is if the class, for both power and flavour, fits the guy you feel like playing. If you only care about who is more powerful or useful then you've missed the point of the game. No one class will be the best for playing the type of character you want unless all you want is to simply outshine your party. The DM is the most powerful, you should only worry about enjoying the guy you have until he kills you.
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