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    Default Why hate optimization?

    There is that "what is optimization?" thread. I found it rather annoying because basically one side was saying: "Optimization means this," and the other was "Optimization means that, and you're wrong." Very frustrating argument. Like. Clearly you guys aren't going to even agree on the basis of your arguments, so drop it. Or work to agree on some basis so there's actually a constructive argument. But I digress. [Maybe they have; I haven't read but like half a page.]

    It came up that a set of people find optimization absolutely detestable. And mostly what they seem to refer to is T1 or TO optimization (batman and pun pun). And i'm sitting here like... "different strokes for different folks." If you don't like it, don't play it, is generally how most games operate (video and otherwise). Like what is actually the point in hating it?

    I saw one say something along the lines of "optimization makes players feel worthless if they aren't T1." And, I could see where they are coming from. I initially had that same sort of feeling, when I learned about Batman wizards, or just how bad monks are compared to even fighter-pretending-to-be-a-monk. But you know? You grow out of it.

    Sure, you'll probably not want to play a straight up monk (class - saying nothing of fluff), or take Toughness but...probably for the best, as those were actually limiting your options by picking them anyway.

    There's potentially the idea that some guy is going to hog the spotlight by doing literally everything. ...But that's more of a player problem than an optimization one. We all knew a spotlight whore before. Most of the time, they didn't optimize either. They just forced themselves everywhere. I am always optimistic, and doubt most of them had ill intentions, and merely wanted to participate.

    [Please. Keep this civil.]

    EDIT FOR CLARITY'S SAKE

    ...OK. Let me lay the foundation for what I mean about optimization, because I am talking about it, so Psyren has a point.

    Optimization, in the context of what I am talking about is "how well does you character do their job(s)". I found this definition agreeable, and fits with most usage I've seen.

    Optimization is not inherently active, merely a measure. Thus, some classes have very low optimization floors, like monk, while others like Swordsage have high ones - where "optimization floor" is the measure to which they are effective, just using their base kits.

    T1 and TO optimization is a subset of optimization, which refers to those who are exceedingly effective at their jobs, and whose jobs are many, or involve many different roles. (As opposed to those who are just supremely optimized for one thing, which probably is more disruptive, as those tend to be binary in either they annihilate their job or they are useless, because their job doesn't apply.)

    To deoptimize is to intentionally make the character less effective than the basic kit would normally impart, because they actively work against the tools granted. Like a rogue with a weapon that can't sneak attack.

    And "unoptimized" means either "the choices made were subpar for your job" or "little to no effort and/or thought was put in to making yourself effective."


    For those who want a more in depth explanation of tiers, you can have Doomeye to thank for finding this again.
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    JaronK's tier list for 3.5

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    The following is a repost of something I made over on the WotC forums. I'm not exactly sure which forum to put it on, as it's intended for a variety of purposes. It's here mostly because I'd like to get some feedback from knowledgeable minds, but it's also a useful tool, much like a handbook, and available for use.

    My general philosophy is that the only balance that really matters in D&D is the interclass balance between the various PCs in a group. If the group as a whole is very powerful and flexible, the DM can simply up the challenge level and complexity of the encounters. If it's weak and inflexible, the DM can lower the challenge level and complexity. Serious issues arise when the party is composed of some members which are extremely powerful and others which are extremely weak, leading to a situation where the DM has two choices: either make the game too easy for the strong members, or too hard for the weak members. Neither is desireable. Thus, this system is created for the following purposes:

    1) To provide a ranking system so that DMs know roughly the power of the PCs in their group

    2) To provide players with knowledge of where their group stands, power wise, so that they can better build characters that fit with their group.

    3) To help DMs who plan to use house rules to balance games by showing them where the classes stand before applying said house rules (how many times have we seen DMs pumping up Sorcerers or weakening Monks?).

    4) To help DMs judge what should be allowed and what shouldn't in their games. It may sound cheesy when the Fighter player wants to be a Half Minotaur Water Orc, but if the rest of his party is Druid, Cloistered Cleric, Archivist, and Artificer, then maybe you should allow that to balance things out. However, if the player is asking to be allowed to be a Venerable White Dragonspawn Dragonwrought Kobold Sorcerer and the rest of the party is a Monk, a Fighter, and a Rogue, maybe you shouldn't let that fly.

    5) To help homebrewers judge the power and balance of their new classes. Pick a Tier you think your class should be in, and when you've made your class compare it to the rest of the Tier. Generally, I like Tier 3 as a balance point, but I know many people prefer Tier 4. If it's stronger than Tier 1, you definitely blew it.

    Psionic classes are mostly absent simply because I don't have enough experience with them. Other absent classes are generally missing because I don't know them well enough to comment, though if I've heard a lot about them they're listed in itallics. Note that "useless" here means "the class isn't particularly useful for dealing with situation X" not "it's totally impossible with enough splat books to make a build that involves that class deal with situation X." "Capable of doing one thing" means that any given build does one thing, not that the class itself is incapable of being built in different ways. Also, "encounters" here refers to appropriate encounters... obviously, anyone can solve an encounter with purely mechanical abilities if they're level 20 and it's CR 1.

    Also note that with enough optimization, it's generally possible to go up a tier, and if played poorly you can easily drop a few tiers, but this is a general averaging, assuming that everyone in the party is playing with roughly the same skill and optimization level. As a rule, parties function best when everyone in the party is within 2 Tiers of each other (so a party that's all Tier 2-4 is generally fine, and so is a party that's all Tier 3-5, but a party that has Tier 1 and Tier 5s in it may have issues).

    The Tier System

    Tier 1: Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played well, can break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.

    Examples: Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Archivist, Artificer, Erudite

    Tier 2: Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potencially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and world shattering, but not in quite so many ways. Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility.

    Examples: Sorcerer, Favored Soul, Psion, Binder (with access to online vestiges)

    Tier 3: Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

    Examples: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Crusader, Bard, Swordsage, Binder (without access to the summon monster vestige), Wildshape Varient Ranger, Duskblade, Factotum, Warblade, Psionic Warrior

    Tier 4: Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competance without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribue to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

    Examples: Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Warmage, Scout, Ranger, Hexblade, Adept, Spellthief, Marshal, Fighter (Dungeoncrasher Variant)

    Tier 5: Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the rest of the party is weak in that situation and the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly.

    Examples: Fighter, Monk, CA Ninja, Healer, Swashbuckler, Rokugan Ninja, Soulknife, Expert, OA Samurai, Paladin, Knight

    Tier 6: Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.

    Examples: CW Samurai, Aristocrat, Warrior, Commoner

    And then there's the Truenamer, which is just broken (as in, the class was improperly made and doesn't function appropriately).

    Now, obviously these rankings only apply when mechanical abilities are being used... in a more social oriented game where talking is the main way of solving things (without using diplomacy checks), any character can shine. However, when the mechanical abilities of the classes in question are being used, it's a bad idea to have parties with more than two tiers of difference.

    It is interesting to note the disparity between the core classes... one of the reasons core has so many problems. If two players want to play a nature oriented shapeshifter and a general sword weilder, you're stuck with two very different tiered guys in the party (Fighter and Druid). Outside of core, it's possible to do it while staying on close Tiers... Wild Shape Variant Ranger and Warblade, for example.

    Note that a few classes are right on the border line between tiers. Duskblade is very low in Tier 3, and Hexblade is low in Tier 4. Fighter is high in Tier 5, and CW Samurai is high in Tier 6 (obviously, since it's pretty much strictly better than the same tier Warrior).

    JaronK
    Last edited by SangoProduction; 2017-12-24 at 04:32 PM.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    What I've seen around the forum seems to suggest a lot of personal bad experiences with an "Optimizer" at the table (often those who dislike optimizing call them Munchkins).

    I wonder if there's a parallel to a young kid playing a trading-card-game against someone who has bought all the best cards and just stomps them? I could see this being a good way to view the experience of being at a table with someone who uses their system mastery. I have a player who's afraid to run anything with me as a player just because I know the system so well.

    Part of the matter could just come down to personality and worldview, with some people being black-and-white in their perspective. For them, optimization is the same whether it be Tippy-verse or using a sword when you have a sword-related ability.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Perhaps someone could define some terms for those of us who are clueless? T1, T0 (I assume the T is tier, but what exactly is that?), batman, pun pun, fluff?

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    There is that "what is optimization?" thread. I found it rather annoying because basically one side was saying: "Optimization means this," and the other was "Optimization means that, and you're wrong." Very frustrating argument. Like. Clearly you guys aren't going to even agree on the basis of your arguments, so drop it. Or work to agree on some basis so there's actually a constructive argument. But I digress. [Maybe they have; I haven't read but like half a page.]
    To be blunt, you're making the same mistake they are. You apparently have a specific definition in your mind for "optimization" that you don't find objectionable, and just as apparently there are going to be people with a different definition of that word that they do take issue with. Clearly you aren't going to even agree on the basis of your arguments, so better to drop it. Unless of course, you're lucky enough to only have people reply whose definition lines up with yours (which actually includes myself) - but then the thread does nothing to solve the overall communication problem that's annoying you.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    New Player: "Hey guys this is my character, she's tough so she took Toughness."

    Player B: "Pssh, sorry kid nothing personal but that's a bad decision. I know this because of a web page that I read about optimization and I can't explain it in a useful way, but just trust me you're making dumb decisions and I'm very smart because I use optimization."

    New Player: "That's pretty condescending. You're using this optimization thing to make me feel bad. Therefore I associate optimization with feeling bad and I want to destroy it."

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by quark12000 View Post
    Perhaps someone could define some terms for those of us who are clueless? T1, T0 (I assume the T is tier, but what exactly is that?), batman, pun pun, fluff?
    Sorry. Tier 1 and I saw theoretical optimization shortened to TO before. Batman is a wizard, who tries to have basically every tool. Pun pun is a specific TO build. Fluff is basically the character, as opposed to the stats. The role play rather than the numbers.
    "I, the wizard, make an unarmed strike against our fully armored tank. Obviously it misses. Now that I'm in combat I ready a maximized enervation." - Lilith Knight

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    When you start to play street football too hard, you could end as a professional player. What was fun become tedious labour betraying the original concept of game as something fun to spend your time on.

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    To be blunt, you're making the same mistake they are. You apparently have a specific definition in your mind for "optimization" that you don't find objectionable, and just as apparently there are going to be people with a different definition of that word that they do take issue with. Clearly you aren't going to even agree on the basis of your arguments, so better to drop it. Unless of course, you're lucky enough to only have people reply whose definition lines up with yours (which actually includes myself) - but then the thread does nothing to solve the overall communication problem that's annoying you.
    This thread is actually tangent to that one, and makes no claims as to what is or is not optimization. I apologize if I misrepresented the intent with the opening paragraph.
    "I, the wizard, make an unarmed strike against our fully armored tank. Obviously it misses. Now that I'm in combat I ready a maximized enervation." - Lilith Knight

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    Sorry. Tier 1 and I saw theoretical optimization shortened to TO before. Batman is a wizard, who tries to have basically every tool. Pun pun is a specific TO build. Fluff is basically the character, as opposed to the stats. The role play rather than the numbers.
    But what is Tier 1? What are the different tiers? (by the way, I looked up 'pun pun' on Google. Some people have way too much time on their hands!)

    And what you call 'fluff' is my favorite part of playing!
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    To use your analogy of different strokes for different folks, referring to video games, some people absolutely loathe certain kinds of video games and will make that abundantly clear to everyone they meet at every opportunity, so it's the same kinda thing. People are allowed to hate something. They are even allowed to express that opinion. Other people can then read their arguments and decide for themselves if they thing that the arguments are biased, personal hatred, or valid arguments that they agree with.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by quark12000 View Post
    Perhaps someone could define some terms for those of us who are clueless? T1, T0 (I assume the T is tier, but what exactly is that?), batman, pun pun, fluff?
    Tiers are a rough estimate of how powerful a given class usually is.They go from Tier 1(very very strong potentially) to Tier 6 (tends to be quite weak.) Tier 0 is a hypothetical tier for all powerful characters. In practice it doesn't really exist in normal games. Note that tier is about generalities and potential. Just because the Wizard class tends to be more powerful than Rogue does not mean that an individual Wizard will always lose to an individual Rogue. Player skill matters a great deal as well.

    Batman/Batman Wizard refers to a style of playing spellcasters that can be very powerful and effective but requires quite a lot of player skill. Batman wizards rely less on direct damage and a lot more on divination and having the correct tool for every situation available. Batman wizards are among the most powerful characters in D&D but they require a lot of work, planning and a helpful GM.

    Punpun is an infamous character that takes advantage of some rules loopholes to obtain nigh infinite power and ascend to God hood. No one actually plays Punpun, he's just the benchmark of how absurdly powerful a character you can make if you know the rules inside and out.

    Fluff versus crunch refers to the storytelling aspect of the game versus the numbers and rules of the game. Fluff is calling my character a "Winter witch" while crunch is the part where she's a wizard with a specialty in cold spells. Fluff and crunch don't always line up directly. Sometimes they interact in odd ways. To fluff or refluff something means to come up with a story explanation for a game mechanic. For example if I claim story wise that my Winter witch gained her powers by making deals with Baba Yaga, the witch queen, and the spirits of winter as a way to explain why she can cast spells then I'm fluffing the character that way.

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by ayvango View Post
    When you start to play street football too hard, you could end as a professional player. What was fun become tedious labour betraying the original concept of game as something fun to spend your time on.
    That's a rather reasonable answer that I personally empathize greatly with. Though guides exist if you want to optimize without effort, and high optimization is rarely a prerequisite for most if any games. Even meat grinders generally want to kill you, so they don't actually want you to optimize. Or so I've heard. I've never had a hankering for playing one of them.



    ...OK. Let me lay the foundation for what I mean about optimization, because I am talking about it, so Psyren has a point.

    Optimization, in the context of what I am talking about is "how well does you character do their job(s)". I found this definition agreeable, and fits with most usage I've seen.

    Optimization is not inherently active, merely a measure. Thus, some classes have very low optimization floors, like monk, while others like Swordsage have high ones - where "optimization floor" is the measure to which they are effective, just using their base kits.

    To deoptimize is to intentionally make the character less effective than the basic kit would normally impart, because they actively work against the tools granted. Like a rogue with a weapon that can't sneak attack.

    And "unoptimized" means either "the choices made were subpar for your job" or "little to no effort and/or thought was put in to making yourself effective."
    "I, the wizard, make an unarmed strike against our fully armored tank. Obviously it misses. Now that I'm in combat I ready a maximized enervation." - Lilith Knight

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    This thread is actually tangent to that one, and makes no claims as to what is or is not optimization. I apologize if I misrepresented the intent with the opening paragraph.
    You might not be defining what it is, per se, but you are actively defining what it is not. For instance, you say the guy who hogs the spotlight by being capable of literally everything is taking optimization to an unhealthy extreme. Again, I actually agree with you on this, but there are folks here who do consider that to be the norm for their games. There is simply no way these viewpoints can be reconciled.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crake View Post
    To use your analogy of different strokes for different folks, referring to video games, some people absolutely loathe certain kinds of video games and will make that abundantly clear to everyone they meet at every opportunity, so it's the same kinda thing. People are allowed to hate something. They are even allowed to express that opinion. Other people can then read their arguments and decide for themselves if they thing that the arguments are biased, personal hatred, or valid arguments that they agree with.
    Which is why I want to know their reasons.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    What I believe the guy was trying to get across (or part of it anyway), and what annoys me, is how insufferably elitist and gatekeepery the char-op community can be, especially in places where its not called for. New thread, new player, immediate max char-op from a dozen directions. Every time I post about shields, weapon spec, the standard party, CR, or design intent (directly or indirectly related to whatever the topic at hand is), someone feels it absolutely imperative to directly contradict me because "blah blah char-op blah."

    I've slugged it out with people for years, and it will never stop because there are enough people that I could fight a new guy every week and never run out of new challengers just raring to tell me how all the garbage I figured out was bogus years ago actually makes me wrong because reasons. I've formulated and refined my arguments down to the simplest in-arguable points, but even then I know the only thing that actually gets them to stop is grinding them down with continuous walls of text until they get bored.

    And it's not like I don't understand. I had my char-op phase like everyone else. Even though I knew there was something missing in most of the "spellcaster supremacy" arguments it still took years, experience, and multiple clashes to dig up the bits that I'd always known people were ignoring. The difference is that some people move on, some can at least agree that their playstyle is not the only one, and others define so much of themselves by it that they refuse to see anything else. The irony of people swearing by RAW with no regard for why it was W, ranting about *my* bias when literally their entire problem is that they're imposing their viewpoint onto others, ignoring obvious calculations because it doesn't fit their mantra. It's pretty annoying.

    I do not hate optimization (indeed, it is natural for all gamers to optimize, which is an incredibly broad term)- but I hate the destructive culture it wrought across 3.x, including some of the very books themselves, which holds a grip to this day.


    It's not actually all that bad at the moment mind you. A couple new players around the last couple weeks, but with the holidays on things are slower and most of the responses have been reasonably moderate. I expect in a month when activity increases I'll probably have to pull back for a while lest I waste too much time arguing on the internet.

    I don't think there's much of a viewpoint that optimization is bad- most people who don't like it just seem to run the game the way they want without trying to force it on others, when they even show up on a forum known for a significant char-op community. Unless there's a whole anti-optimization dominated forum, but that's not a community with much to hold it together. This is the first I've heard of someone making more of a stink than me- and my whole point is that char-op is a choice, not that you're wrong for choosing it.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    What I believe the guy was trying to get across (or part of it anyway), and what annoys me, is how insufferably elitist and gatekeepery the char-op community can be, especially in places where its not called for. New thread, new player, immediate max char-op from a dozen directions. Every time I post about shields, weapon spec, the standard party, CR, or design intent (directly or indirectly related to whatever the topic at hand is), someone feels it absolutely imperative to directly contradict me because "blah blah char-op blah."

    I've slugged it out with people for years, and it will never stop because there are enough people that I could fight a new guy every week and never run out of new challengers just raring to tell me how all the garbage I figured out was bogus years ago actually makes me wrong because reasons. I've formulated and refined my arguments down to the simplest in-arguable points, but even then I know the only thing that actually gets them to stop is grinding them down with continuous walls of text until they get bored.

    And it's not like I don't understand. I had my char-op phase like everyone else. Even though I knew there was something missing in most of the "spellcaster supremacy" arguments it still took years, experience, and multiple clashes to dig up the bits that I'd always known people were ignoring. The difference is that some people move on, some can at least agree that their playstyle is not the only one, and others define so much of themselves by it that they refuse to see anything else. The irony of people swearing by RAW with no regard for why it was W, ranting about *my* bias when literally their entire problem is that they're imposing their viewpoint onto others, ignoring obvious calculations because it doesn't fit their mantra. It's pretty annoying.

    I do not hate optimization (indeed, it is natural for all gamers to optimize, which is an incredibly broad term)- but I hate the destructive culture it wrought across 3.x, including some of the very books themselves, which holds a grip to this day.


    It's not actually all that bad at the moment mind you. A couple new players around the last couple weeks, but with the holidays on things are slower and most of the responses have been reasonably moderate. I expect in a month when activity increases I'll probably have to pull back for a while lest I waste too much time arguing on the internet.

    I don't think there's much of a viewpoint that optimization is bad- most people who don't like it just seem to run the game the way they want without trying to force it on others, when they even show up on a forum known for a significant char-op community. Unless there's a whole anti-optimization dominated forum, but that's not a community with much to hold it together. This is the first I've heard of someone making more of a stink than me- and my whole point is that char-op is a choice, not that you're wrong for choosing it.
    That's actually a very interesting answer, thank you. And I agree, I do see that happening. I can't think of a way to fix it, though. The easy fix is "I know about swordsage; I said I want monk." But new players don't know to specify that, let alone know about Tiers. And you can hardly blame people for giving the best advice (as they see it) they can, since no guidelines were given....

    But then people ask for guidelines, and that seems to be just as destructive, based on a few recent threads.

    About the gatekeeper thing, i'm not so sure about. Perhaps for people with very specific readings like with segmented armor and mithral, fit the bill, where they really like their interpretation. But I'm not sure what you actually mean.
    Last edited by SangoProduction; 2017-12-24 at 02:58 PM.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Optimized characters are capable characters. Not every character is optimized to the same purpose, some characters want to deal damage, some characters want to support the rest of the party, some characters want to solve noncombat challenges, etc. There are plenty of characters who can fill two or more roles, but often a party should have characters who are versatile and it's not a bad thing if several characters can cover the same role as long as everyone gets their time to shine.

    The issue comes when there are different levels of optimization in the party. Sometimes you and some guys from work start up a game and half the guys and both of their wives have never played before, so you make an intentionally one-sided character so everyone else has ample opportunities to contribute. This is better than trying to tell everyone else how to build/play their character, and it's much easier to accomplish keeping the party on an even level of optimization this way.


    Optimizing characters just makes sense, if someone is bad at math they're not going to become an accountant, and if someone spends a career doing something they're going to get really good at it. Some people are lazy and selfish and never try to be any better at their job, and manage to convince their boss that this is the most they're capable of. Everyone else has to pick up their slack, and when the department (party) does well they get just as much credit (XP) as everyone else.

    A party of characters goes into danger and risks their life on a daily basis, they want the people traveling with them to be the most capable companions they can find, because their lives depend on the ability of these people to be good at what they do. It makes perfect sense in-character to have a party of optimized character, it makes perfect sense in-character for a character with a much higher level of optimization to not want to travel with that party, and it makes perfect sense in-character to expect the characters traveling with you to be just as capable at their jobs (optimized) as you are.

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    New Player: "Hey guys this is my character, she's tough so she took Toughness."

    Player B: "Pssh, sorry kid nothing personal but that's a bad decision. I know this because of a web page that I read about optimization and I can't explain it in a useful way, but just trust me you're making dumb decisions and I'm very smart because I use optimization."

    New Player: "That's pretty condescending. You're using this optimization thing to make me feel bad. Therefore I associate optimization with feeling bad and I want to destroy it."
    I feel like this dynamic has happened quite a bit and that it should show up in the thread a second time because of how spot on it is.

    Plus, this forum and forums like it have a culture that amplifies aspects of the game. Whirlpounce barbarian is a thing here. Throwing that jargon around a new person can lead to a sort of intimidation. Plus, folks are left wondering where the heck the values associated with their in real life games went.

    You only have to read one thread about dragonwrought kobolds and you're like, "these guys are crazy!" They're using setting books from three different settings and they are reimagining the length weight age charts to support a reading of the rules that is really close to the text. Who plays like this? I've read about rules lawyers, but that was just rob trying to get a few more D6 onto his fireball. These guys have a list of "defined game terms."

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    That's actually a very interesting answer, thank you. And I agree, I do see that happening. I can't think of a way to fix it, though. The easy fix is "I know about swordsage; I said I want monk." But new players don't know to specify that, let alone know about Tiers. And you can hardly blame people for giving the best advice (as they see it) they can, since no guidelines were given....

    But then people ask for guidelines, and that seems to be just as destructive, based on a few recent threads.

    About the gatekeeper thing, i'm not so sure about. Perhaps for people with very specific readings like with segmented armor and mithral, fit the bill, where they really like their interpretation. But I'm not sure what you actually mean.
    I mean, if you think about it, back in the old days there was a separate forum for optimization. I think that was a healthy state for the 3.X community to be in. On these boards, however, the main reason for posting on the 3.X board as opposed to general RP is that you're looking for mechanical answers. If you aren't concerned with the specifics of the d20 system, you may as well go to the broader board.

    As the 3.X board ages and whithers, the content reflects its nature. For those who enjoy the character-building minigame, we're limited in what is left to discuss. Haven't all the tricks been found? Haven't all the builds been built? For that reason, optimizers are called to any sort of "character help" post.

    I think instead of concerning ourselves with the unending communication failure, we should find healthy outlets for the optimizers. Many long-standing players don't originate posts. I don't think I see people asking for build help who have been playing 3.5 since the Wizard Board days. Maybe we should start doing that. Maybe optimizers should ask for build help not entirely because they need it but so they can give healthy example posts with proper guidelines.

    Children learn language by being constantly exposed to it. New 3.5 players will learn how to speak our language by having plenty of healthy, meaningful posts to mimic in style and tone.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    The easy fix is "I know about swordsage; I said I want monk." But new players don't know to specify that, let alone know about Tiers. And you can hardly blame people for giving the best advice (as they see it) they can, since no guidelines were given....
    No tier knowledge required, but not knowing they need to specify is a problem, and indeed when people simply ignore those specifications.
    But then people ask for guidelines, and that seems to be just as destructive, based on a few recent threads.
    Guidelines like tiers? The problem there is that it's still locked to a specific style of gameplay that most proponents of tiers don't seem to realize. But people like competitive number ratings and its so much easier to sling those around than re-post/re-write the entire process of grokking how encounters work and where the game's actual baseline (if any) is.
    About the gatekeeper thing, i'm not so sure about. Perhaps for people with very specific readings like with segmented armor and mithral, fit the bill, where they really like their interpretation. But I'm not sure what you actually mean.
    I'm probably using the term too broadly, replace with "exclusionary" or "dismissive" or somesuch if desired. The chain of "this thing I describe, which is the same as your character, which by extension includes you, is useless." Again it's not rampant, but it's still around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    No tier knowledge required, but not knowing they need to specify is a problem, and indeed when people simply ignore those specifications.

    Guidelines like tiers?
    I think guidelines as in, "I know I want to play the Monk class but I need help with my feats. I want to be stealthy focused. The character is at level 3 and I don't want to multiclass."
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by Madara View Post
    I think guidelines as in, "I know I want to play the Monk class but I need help with my feats. I want to be stealthy focused. The character is at level 3 and I don't want to multiclass."
    Yeah! This kind of thing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madara View Post
    I think guidelines as in, "I know I want to play the Monk class but I need help with my feats. I want to be stealthy focused. The character is at level 3 and I don't want to multiclass."
    basically, yes.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by Madara View Post
    I mean, if you think about it, back in the old days there was a separate forum for optimization. I think that was a healthy state for the 3.X community to be in. On these boards, however, the main reason for posting on the 3.X board as opposed to general RP is that you're looking for mechanical answers. If you aren't concerned with the specifics of the d20 system, you may as well go to the broader board.

    As the 3.X board ages and whithers, the content reflects its nature. For those who enjoy the character-building minigame, we're limited in what is left to discuss. Haven't all the tricks been found? Haven't all the builds been built? For that reason, optimizers are called to any sort of "character help" post.
    I've still got plenty left to discuss (see: every wall of text I drop), and I'm really only interested in things regarding 3.5. There are still infinite ways to tweak this and that, things to stat and refine mechanics for, tricks undiscovered and tricks forgotten or missed, things left not understood or analyzed in any way other than zomg char-op. There just seem to be very few people indeed who are interested in discussing anything other than optimization (or meta-discussions about optimization) and that is naturally what most new players show up looking for. And then of those few remaining I vehemently disagree with a number of them to boot.
    Many long-standing players don't originate posts.
    True, I hardly ever post threads. Hardly seems worth it when I expect I'll get a couple mildly interested responses and then nothing- if I'm going to just type to myself I might as well keep it in my notes. I've got one idea for a handbook but it's right at the point where I can use it fine but finishing it in detail is still a massive effort, and most of the rest of the stuff I'd be interested in posting is technically more homebrew than discussion, so it wouldn't even go on this part of the forum- but I don't watch the homebrew forum and I'm pretty sure most of the rest of the 3.5'ers don't either. And really, who wants to read some guy's list of houserules and tweaks? Especially when most of them go directly against prevailing optimization opinions?

    Can't say I'd be too interested in a "puppet" thread though. We've got plenty of good posts around, they're just hidden under miles of shorthanded op-focus and arguing a lot of the time. Just engaging with new players as they show up and actually discussing things instead of throwing down op-builds and handbook links and walking away would do the job. And teaching makes you re-learn what you hadn't actually learned.

    Edit: ah, guidelines being destructive as in providing them just provokes people.
    Last edited by Fizban; 2017-12-24 at 03:52 PM.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by SangoProduction View Post
    Optimization, in the context of what I am talking about is "how well does you character do their job(s)". I found this definition agreeable, and fits with most usage I've seen.

    Optimization is not inherently active, merely a measure. Thus, some classes have very low optimization floors, like monk, while others like Swordsage have high ones - where "optimization floor" is the measure to which they are effective, just using their base kits.
    I get you but for others optimization is the knowledge required to avoid traps/make things click. In which case, Monk is one of the highest optimization floors.

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Tiers as a measure of "power" is a misnomer. Tiers as a measure of 'ability to solve problems' has always worked better for me.

    My trouble with mundanes is explained by the tier system as viewed this way. In a magical land somebody's gonna eventually get petrified and the bog standard mundane just cannot deal with that.

    Doesnt mean mundanes cannot be fun. Just means they eventually have to quest for a depetrification elixer or somesuch and, to me, they cease to be the agent of their own destiny at that point.

    Begging full casters for favors takes some of the heroic out of the heroic fantasy, to me at least.

    Best way I can describe why I favor Artificers and full casters.


    On the other hand I also actively under optimize those same casters with just awful minionmancy. Golems make just awful minions at the levels they're available. So I use them, because they please me and because using Golems to solve problems can be very hard.
    On the other other hand having the option to depetrify someone AND awful minionmancy is nice too.


    It occurs to me too that problems that are speedbumps to a full caster can be whole questlines for mundanes.
    Has been my experience that available playtime affects this too. Living rurally and poor being able to drive half an hour to an hour to IRL game is a luxury. That said we do not waste time on random encounters or unnecessary sidequesting. It behoovs us to play full casters and resolve problems rapidly so as to get something done with our limited playtime.

    On the forums I have seen games move at a much much slower pace, arguably because theu have all the percieved time in the world. The wizard obviating a sidequest with a single spell could certainly be seen as cheating your fellow players out of valuable playtime in that circumstance.

    So yeah, acceptable optimisation could be practica l or not depending on how quickly a given player/gm/group desires problems to get resolved.
    Last edited by unseenmage; 2017-12-24 at 04:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    For most people, I'm guessing it's bad experience with a munchkin* making them associate "strong characters" with "jerks." Either that, or stumbling into RAW arguments here/having them crop up in response to a post of theirs and getting lost and exasperated by the whole process.

    I wonder if it would be possible to develop (and have a mod sticky) a standard-issue "character help request" form, to help fine-tune responses in ways that people might not know to ask about. Something like:
    • What sources are available?
    • How many different sources are you willing to use in one build?
    • How willing are you to re-flavor material, bend role-playing requirements, and so on?
    • How mechanically complicated a character are you looking for?
    • How powerful a character are you looking for-- one who struggles with similar-level/CR monsters, one on equal footing with them, one who can handle monsters several levels higher than expected, or one who can handle monsters many levels higher than expected?
    • What's your tolerance for "technically legal" stuff-- do you want to avoid anything weird-looking, stick to things where the end result is logical/not too strong, or does anything go?



    *Here defined as "a jerk; a cheater; an immature player who attempts to dominate the game via any means necessary, including optimization, cheating, whining, and interrupting."

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Unless there's a whole anti-optimization dominated forum, but that's not a community with much to hold it together.
    Weirdly, the 5e subforum here tends towards that direction-- post about optimization or a powerful combo you found, and people jump all over the thread screaming about how you're playing wrong and ruining the game.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    In my experience, optimization threads are far more often about making a character concept work than they are about getting as powerful a character as you can. If you just want power, a cleric, druid or wizard with a good PrC is basically all you need. But being effective with some characters requires a lot of hoop-jumping and/or particular material, which is where optimization comes in.
    Last edited by Morty; 2017-12-24 at 04:12 PM.
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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by quark12000 View Post
    Perhaps someone could define some terms for those of us who are clueless? T1, T0 (I assume the T is tier, but what exactly is that?), batman, pun pun, fluff?
    JaronK's tier list for 3.5

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    The following is a repost of something I made over on the WotC forums. I'm not exactly sure which forum to put it on, as it's intended for a variety of purposes. It's here mostly because I'd like to get some feedback from knowledgeable minds, but it's also a useful tool, much like a handbook, and available for use.

    My general philosophy is that the only balance that really matters in D&D is the interclass balance between the various PCs in a group. If the group as a whole is very powerful and flexible, the DM can simply up the challenge level and complexity of the encounters. If it's weak and inflexible, the DM can lower the challenge level and complexity. Serious issues arise when the party is composed of some members which are extremely powerful and others which are extremely weak, leading to a situation where the DM has two choices: either make the game too easy for the strong members, or too hard for the weak members. Neither is desireable. Thus, this system is created for the following purposes:

    1) To provide a ranking system so that DMs know roughly the power of the PCs in their group

    2) To provide players with knowledge of where their group stands, power wise, so that they can better build characters that fit with their group.

    3) To help DMs who plan to use house rules to balance games by showing them where the classes stand before applying said house rules (how many times have we seen DMs pumping up Sorcerers or weakening Monks?).

    4) To help DMs judge what should be allowed and what shouldn't in their games. It may sound cheesy when the Fighter player wants to be a Half Minotaur Water Orc, but if the rest of his party is Druid, Cloistered Cleric, Archivist, and Artificer, then maybe you should allow that to balance things out. However, if the player is asking to be allowed to be a Venerable White Dragonspawn Dragonwrought Kobold Sorcerer and the rest of the party is a Monk, a Fighter, and a Rogue, maybe you shouldn't let that fly.

    5) To help homebrewers judge the power and balance of their new classes. Pick a Tier you think your class should be in, and when you've made your class compare it to the rest of the Tier. Generally, I like Tier 3 as a balance point, but I know many people prefer Tier 4. If it's stronger than Tier 1, you definitely blew it.

    Psionic classes are mostly absent simply because I don't have enough experience with them. Other absent classes are generally missing because I don't know them well enough to comment, though if I've heard a lot about them they're listed in itallics. Note that "useless" here means "the class isn't particularly useful for dealing with situation X" not "it's totally impossible with enough splat books to make a build that involves that class deal with situation X." "Capable of doing one thing" means that any given build does one thing, not that the class itself is incapable of being built in different ways. Also, "encounters" here refers to appropriate encounters... obviously, anyone can solve an encounter with purely mechanical abilities if they're level 20 and it's CR 1.

    Also note that with enough optimization, it's generally possible to go up a tier, and if played poorly you can easily drop a few tiers, but this is a general averaging, assuming that everyone in the party is playing with roughly the same skill and optimization level. As a rule, parties function best when everyone in the party is within 2 Tiers of each other (so a party that's all Tier 2-4 is generally fine, and so is a party that's all Tier 3-5, but a party that has Tier 1 and Tier 5s in it may have issues).

    The Tier System

    Tier 1: Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played well, can break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.

    Examples: Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Archivist, Artificer, Erudite

    Tier 2: Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potencially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and world shattering, but not in quite so many ways. Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility.

    Examples: Sorcerer, Favored Soul, Psion, Binder (with access to online vestiges)

    Tier 3: Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

    Examples: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Crusader, Bard, Swordsage, Binder (without access to the summon monster vestige), Wildshape Varient Ranger, Duskblade, Factotum, Warblade, Psionic Warrior

    Tier 4: Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competance without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribue to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

    Examples: Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Warmage, Scout, Ranger, Hexblade, Adept, Spellthief, Marshal, Fighter (Dungeoncrasher Variant)

    Tier 5: Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the rest of the party is weak in that situation and the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly.

    Examples: Fighter, Monk, CA Ninja, Healer, Swashbuckler, Rokugan Ninja, Soulknife, Expert, OA Samurai, Paladin, Knight

    Tier 6: Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.

    Examples: CW Samurai, Aristocrat, Warrior, Commoner

    And then there's the Truenamer, which is just broken (as in, the class was improperly made and doesn't function appropriately).

    Now, obviously these rankings only apply when mechanical abilities are being used... in a more social oriented game where talking is the main way of solving things (without using diplomacy checks), any character can shine. However, when the mechanical abilities of the classes in question are being used, it's a bad idea to have parties with more than two tiers of difference.

    It is interesting to note the disparity between the core classes... one of the reasons core has so many problems. If two players want to play a nature oriented shapeshifter and a general sword weilder, you're stuck with two very different tiered guys in the party (Fighter and Druid). Outside of core, it's possible to do it while staying on close Tiers... Wild Shape Variant Ranger and Warblade, for example.

    Note that a few classes are right on the border line between tiers. Duskblade is very low in Tier 3, and Hexblade is low in Tier 4. Fighter is high in Tier 5, and CW Samurai is high in Tier 6 (obviously, since it's pretty much strictly better than the same tier Warrior).

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    Default Re: Why hate optimization?

    Quote Originally Posted by emeraldstreak View Post
    I get you but for others optimization is the knowledge required to avoid traps/make things click. In which case, Monk is one of the highest optimization floors.
    Possible, but that's not the way most people use the term optimization floor, such that I've seen, and as this isn't a thread meant to debate what is or is not the definition, I'd prefer if we kept to using the definitions given (as far as this thread goes), just as a basis for common understanding.

    The tiers thing was a criticism I take responsibility for. I didn't finish the sentence for some reason...or the rest of the explanation there. Derp. I don't know how that happened.
    Last edited by SangoProduction; 2017-12-24 at 04:38 PM.
    "I, the wizard, make an unarmed strike against our fully armored tank. Obviously it misses. Now that I'm in combat I ready a maximized enervation." - Lilith Knight

    Journals from my D&D campaign
    My Vestige
    Found my Artifact
    Player Expectations
    Familiar with Druids?
    Optimal Guns

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