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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by RickAllison View Post
    Every time I see it, I ask myself why I keep forgetting to play one even though I love it so much. I get super distracted when it comes to concepts, but I love the Mastermind so much.
    I currently has a DMPC that is halfling Mastermind with boundiful luck that just helps the party calling openings while tossing dart at enemies' knees occasionally. He isn't a coward just to smart to get that close to something that can cleave him in half.
    what is the point of living if you can't deadlift?

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpawnOfMorbo View Post
    Tanks should have low AC
    This won't solve your problem. Enemies don't avoid turtles because they're hard to hit, they avoid them because they're hard to kill and because other things are a higher priority.

    There's no IC reason to just assume that you're squishy because you polymorphed into a low AC tyrannosaurus. Same goes if you're a naked screaming musclebound giant with an axe. Barbarians have existed for the entire history of warfare in the D&D world, people have a general idea what's going on.

    One of the issues with tanks in D&D, especially 5e, is that there's no reason to attack the tank instead of the easier target.
    This isn't an issue with tanks, it's an issue with turtles, which is basically a kind of failed attempt to tank.

    In many games, like say Final Fantasy XIII, the tank has a way to force enemies to attack them.
    Human vs AI games often have this. However, Human vs Human games with tank roles tend not to. If you want to understand how to tank in D&D, you would be better off looking at PvP games for examples. Less FFXIII, more Overwatch, League of Legends, Atlas Reactor, etc.

    You'll notice that in said games, people don't really talk about "aggro." They talk about an entirely different set of concepts, like "peel," "pressure," and "punishes."

    This is the key misunderstanding: Your goal isn't to get hit, it's to throw a monkey wrench into the enemy's strategy. Your durability is a tool to help you do that. Let me try to show you what I mean.

    Let's say you have a big beefy Sorcadin with Warcaster. They walk up to a foe, hit them hard with attacks + quickening Booming Blade. The foe is now not only wounded, but under a whole lot of option pressure. Why? Well, let's look at our hypothetical baddie's decision tree.

    Option A) They attack you. This is bad, because you're very hard to kill.

    Option B) They try to move past you to attack the back line. This is bad, because they'll not only trigger the Booming Blade rider, but they'll then provoke an opportunity attack which will give them another fat Booming Blade smite to the face. And then another Booming Blade rider on top of that if they continue to move. This is bad, because it will reduce the number of turns that they live and therefore offset the offensive benefit of attacking a squishier target. It might even outright kill them, given how much damage you've already done to them.

    Option C) They stay still, and use a ranged attack. This is bad, because they'll have Disadvantage on the ranged attack from being in melee with you.

    Option D) They stay still, and use a breath weapon cone. This is bad, because they can't freely position to maximize how many people are in the AoE, or change up their angle to get around allies taking advantage of cover, and because allies in the tank's aura will have a huge bonus to saving throws.

    Option E) They cast a spell. You or someone in your party casts Counterspell. And a lot of the stuff from option D might apply, too.

    See what's going on here? The effective tank isn't just going "gee, I super hope the DM decides to pick option A, otherwise I'll be useless." They're making all 5 options less attractive. That's a tank.

    Getting hit more often is not the goal itself, but a side effect of doing this effectively; enemies will try to deal with you because you have rendered other options less tenable. For a very direct example, an Ancestral Guardian barbarian will often get hit because they can actually make their allies more durable than a Bear-barian (at least, against Attacks from their marked target). Nobody wants to have Disadvantage to hit, Resistance, damage reduction, and damage retribution answering their attack, all at the same time.

    But that doesn't mean that the Ancestral Guardian's goal was actually "get hit." It was creating that "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation in the first place. The Ancestral Guardian is perfectly happy if the enemy makes the error of targeting a protected ally and triggering Spirit Vengeance and the like.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    In the one campaign I was in that went from start to level 20, it was the S&B Champion Fighter that was the only tank we had, or frankly needed. I think he spent every ASI on ability scores and Tough. We didn't gain another frontliner until the bard learned True Polymorph.

    For context, the party was the Fighter, a Lore Bard, a Ranger, and a homebrewed Cleric. Thanks to us being a bunch of support casters and some...interesting ability scores on the Ranger's part, the Fighter was both our nova and our consistent DPS. Our tactics rapidly evolved into "drop the Fighter (from 100 feet up, if need be) into the middle of the fray, and then hinder, delay, and disable anyone that tried to stop his damage output or close with us."

    From that campaign, I learned that it's party positioning, DM fiat, and necessity that creates a tank more than anything else.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    This isn't an issue with tanks, it's an issue with turtles, which is basically a kind of failed attempt to tank.
    As an addendum to this, imagine the biggest, beefiest Totem Bear Barbarian. Fat stacked Con and Str, reasonable Dex. Near maxed HP, fairly high AC, the works. If he went in and attacked, trying to "tank", what does BBEG have to do now?

    Well, option A still sucks, more so because trying to cut through that much health and AC stacked with resistances is nearly useless. You'll be annoying to it.

    But options B, C, D, and E are much more reasonable options because what the worst that you as the Bearbarian can do, attack for 1d12+STR+rage bonus? That's it? It's a small price to pay to freely move and catch all the back-liners in one big dragon's breath.

    But imagine even the simplest addition of the the Sentinel feat. Sure, the barbarian may not have as much AC or HP depending on how he spent his ASIs, which makes Option A a little more reasonable, but it also means that if the BBEG tries to move, he's possibly stuck back at option A and sucky choices of options B-E because suddenly his movement is zero. Now he has to weigh his options more carefully. Now the absolute unit of a turtle that is the Bearbarian now is acting like a tank, by limiting options in another "damned if you do, [maybe] damned if you don't". It's not perfect (the BBEG needs to attempt to move and you might miss the attack) but it was better than without it.

    Change that Bearbarian to an Ancestral Guardian, and suddenly this turtle is the king of option limitations. If you want to get to his friends, you basically have to somehow get away from him or straight up deal with him, and he's a real big hugger that won't let go.
    Last edited by Protolisk; 2019-08-25 at 01:44 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    The best way to fulfill the "tank" role that I've found is to use a Warforged Cleric (Nature) 1/Wizard (Abjurer) X with Shillelagh, Sentinel, and Warcaster. This gives you the ability to effectively control enemy movement while standing on the front lines.

    Also, if an enemy wastes all of its attacks on illusions, it's not hitting your friends.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by bloodshed343 View Post
    The best way to fulfill the "tank" role that I've found is to use a Warforged Cleric (Nature) 1/Wizard (Abjurer) X with Shillelagh, Sentinel, and Warcaster. This gives you the ability to effectively control enemy movement while standing on the front lines.

    Also, if an enemy wastes all of its attacks on illusions, it's not hitting your friends.
    Illusions are a tough sell because from DM to DM the efficacy of using them can be drastically different. It can range from a DM who would allow Minor Illusion to hamper an unintelligent enemy for a turn to a DM who has even the thickest most dense meathead enemy attempt to walk straight through the newly spawned dragon (major image), realize it's an illusion, and continue forward unimpeded.

    Illusory Dragon, however, is a fantastic way for your Wizard to contribute to the party. Even if your DM is a party pooper who doesn't expect for their NPC to fall for an illusion they still have to respect the fact that the dragon is a huge and surprisingly solid obstacle. Knowing that it's an illusion only makes it marginally less deadly.

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Protolisk View Post
    But imagine even the simplest addition of the the Sentinel feat. Sure, the barbarian may not have as much AC or HP depending on how he spent his ASIs, which makes Option A a little more reasonable, but it also means that if the BBEG tries to move, he's possibly stuck back at option A and sucky choices of options B-E because suddenly his movement is zero. Now he has to weigh his options more carefully. Now the absolute unit of a turtle that is the Bearbarian now is acting like a tank, by limiting options in another "damned if you do, [maybe] damned if you don't". It's not perfect (the BBEG needs to attempt to move and you might miss the attack) but it was better than without it.
    I think that fighters, barbarians and paladins (maybe just everyone) should have sentinel baked in for this reason. It makes the tactical positioning minigame in 5e more interesting.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Being a good tank is a combination of factors:

    1. Durability
    2. Tempting Target
    3. Dangerous to Ignore


    My personal favorite formula for this, that can be achieved as early as Level 4 [with a Variant Human] is a Barbarian with GWM and Sentinel.

    • Reckless Attack: "Hey, this guy is really easy to hit. I like when my attacks hit!"
    • Great Weapon Master: "Hey, this guy's attacks really hurt! I want that to stop!"
    • Sentinel: "Every time I try to move away from this guy or attack his ally instead, I get hurt. I might as well just attack him instead."

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ProsecutorGodot View Post
    Illusions are a tough sell because from DM to DM the efficacy of using them can be drastically different. It can range from a DM who would allow Minor Illusion to hamper an unintelligent enemy for a turn to a DM who has even the thickest most dense meathead enemy attempt to walk straight through the newly spawned dragon (major image), realize it's an illusion, and continue forward unimpeded.

    Illusory Dragon, however, is a fantastic way for your Wizard to contribute to the party. Even if your DM is a party pooper who doesn't expect for their NPC to fall for an illusion they still have to respect the fact that the dragon is a huge and surprisingly solid obstacle. Knowing that it's an illusion only makes it marginally less deadly.
    Even with the strictest DM interpretation, illusions still block line of sight until you attack through or dispel them, so it's a reliable way to cover an ally from range. Then you have things like Wall of Force to stop enemies from moving. If you have a bat familiar, you can use Darkness or Fog Cloud and then use the bat's blindsight to see enemies, so you're invisible to them but they can't leave without provoking an OA from you, which ends their movement thanks to the Sentinel feat.

    Basically, you're the most strategically important target because you're the wizard casting battlefield control spells and countering all the casters, but you're also the most difficult target to hit because of warforged heavy armor + shield + shield of faith + shield spell + mirror image.

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by bloodshed343 View Post
    Even with the strictest DM interpretation, illusions still block line of sight until you attack through or dispel them, so it's a reliable way to cover an ally from range. Then you have things like Wall of Force to stop enemies from moving. If you have a bat familiar, you can use Darkness or Fog Cloud and then use the bat's blindsight to see enemies, so you're invisible to them but they can't leave without provoking an OA from you, which ends their movement thanks to the Sentinel feat.

    Basically, you're the most strategically important target because you're the wizard casting battlefield control spells and countering all the casters, but you're also the most difficult target to hit because of warforged heavy armor + shield + shield of faith + shield spell + mirror image.
    I understand that most illusions block line of sight, but most illusions also have a clause that physical interaction causes them to be revealed as illusions to you, walking through them is a way to do that without making an investigation check and is often the go to strategy for a DM who really doesn't want to deal with the illusion.

    When you said illusion, I was under the impression that you were talking about the Illusion school and not obscurement in general. Minor nitpicks but you're also not going to be casting Fog Cloud or Darkness in the same turn as you would use your Familiar's sight because it takes an action to do so. It doesn't seem like a very effective use of your time to cast and concentrate on one spell and then use all subsequent actions to use your familiars sight. You're also not going to have Shield of Faith up at the same time as those obscuring effects as they both take concentration.

    You can either be the big brutish wizard with but a single reaction if you maintain concentration on Shield of Faith or risk having them run directly past you on the turn where you can only set up the obscurement spell before you're able to see through it using your familiar.

    I think skipping Cleric altogether, instead starting with a level in Fighter and taking Booming Blade for War Caster would be more effective. Since you're only relying on obscurement spells and illusions (that are usually only tricking an enemy for a turn or two at best) then you can be a Juggernaut with just the 13 int requirement to multiclass, your ward scales much better with your Wizard level than it does intelligence anyway. This opens up grappling as an option since your strength score is good.

    I can't deny that if you manage to get all of that properly set up it would be effective (although I personally think you're overselling it just a bit) but it sounds complicated and it uses up several spells to do something not all that impressive in my opinion.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ProsecutorGodot View Post
    I understand that most illusions block line of sight, but most illusions also have a clause that physical interaction causes them to be revealed as illusions to you, walking through them is a way to do that without making an investigation check and is often the go to strategy for a DM who really doesn't want to deal with the illusion.

    When you said illusion, I was under the impression that you were talking about the Illusion school and not obscurement in general. Minor nitpicks but you're also not going to be casting Fog Cloud or Darkness in the same turn as you would use your Familiar's sight because it takes an action to do so. It doesn't seem like a very effective use of your time to cast and concentrate on one spell and then use all subsequent actions to use your familiars sight. You're also not going to have Shield of Faith up at the same time as those obscuring effects as they both take concentration.

    You can either be the big brutish wizard with but a single reaction if you maintain concentration on Shield of Faith or risk having them run directly past you on the turn where you can only set up the obscurement spell before you're able to see through it using your familiar.

    I think skipping Cleric altogether, instead starting with a level in Fighter and taking Booming Blade for War Caster would be more effective. Since you're only relying on obscurement spells and illusions (that are usually only tricking an enemy for a turn or two at best) then you can be a Juggernaut with just the 13 int requirement to multiclass, your ward scales much better with your Wizard level than it does intelligence anyway. This opens up grappling as an option since your strength score is good.

    I can't deny that if you manage to get all of that properly set up it would be effective (although I personally think you're overselling it just a bit) but it sounds complicated and it uses up several spells to do something not all that impressive in my opinion.
    Mirror Image still work, it is a non concentration spell.
    My tank Sorcerer have it.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSnake'sCha View Post
    Mirror Image still work, it is a non concentration spell.
    My tank Sorcerer have it.
    I didn't say it wouldn't. Casting Mirror Image doesn't automatically make you a tank.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Regarding the titular question: No. Nobody is better off being weaker, and a PC group doesn't gain overall strength by having someone be more vulnerable.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ProsecutorGodot View Post
    I didn't say it wouldn't. Casting Mirror Image doesn't automatically make you a tank.
    It helps, I added it as an option for an illusion that will work as you were arguing about illusions.

    A single spell don't make you a tank, DPR and an important concentration spell make you a great target.

    AC and defensive spells make you survive.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by BloodSnake'sCha View Post
    It helps, I added it as an option for an illusion that will work as you were arguing about illusions.

    A single spell don't make you a tank, DPR and an important concentration spell make you a great target.

    AC and defensive spells make you survive.
    I was clear that I was talking about illusions that have the caveat "physical interaction with them reveals it to be an illusion" which are most of the placed illusions like Minor Illusion, Major Image and Silent Image.

    But my logic that illusions are only as effective as your DM allows them to be still applies to Mirror Image. If you don't have the right tools to make an enemy regret ignoring you the DM is just going to have those orcs run right past you. "3 spinny meat man make Thokk head hurt, go attack squishy magic lady in back instead".

    This isn't to say that it's a bad spell, just that in my experience Illusions often leave too much room for interpretation. In the case of players arguing that they should be more effective than they are (someone convinced that a Minor Illusion can make a completely accurate intricately detailed image of a 5ft or under humanoid) or DM's who might be poor sports and have his creatures metagame their way past an illusory wall by simply walking through it, somehow knowing it wasn't real from the start, as it makes no logical sense for someone to be walking face first into walls regularly.

    Your mileage may vary but I don't think Illusions are usually a good way to approach tanking. I will say, however, that an Illusionist Wizard who reaches 14th level can do pretty well, Illusory Reality allows them to change the terrain in a meaningful way. You can cage people on the spot for as low as a 1st level spell (silent image), which is an incredibly low cost. You're also effectively able to move any creature you capture using Silent Image, it's like having Resilient Sphere and Telekinesis packed into one 1st level spell with no saves.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    First of all tanking working or not completely is DM dependent, some DM’s are kind of playing it like all monsters know exactly how much threat all pc’s pose damage and control wise, thus not letting the “tank” do the role he designed his toon to do, like the monster knows that “if I walk past the armored guy up front I might take 13 damage which is fine cause I got 88 hp and this lets me get to the high threat wizard in the back.

    This ofc ignores the fact that most thinking creatures don’t want to get attacked from two directions. But yeah if your tank has both low ac and high damage the dm might be more keen to let his monsters attack you.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ProsecutorGodot View Post
    I was clear that I was talking about illusions that have the caveat "physical interaction with them reveals it to be an illusion" which are most of the placed illusions like Minor Illusion, Major Image and Silent Image.

    But my logic that illusions are only as effective as your DM allows them to be still applies to Mirror Image. If you don't have the right tools to make an enemy regret ignoring you the DM is just going to have those orcs run right past you. "3 spinny meat man make Thokk head hurt, go attack squishy magic lady in back instead".

    This isn't to say that it's a bad spell, just that in my experience Illusions often leave too much room for interpretation. In the case of players arguing that they should be more effective than they are (someone convinced that a Minor Illusion can make a completely accurate intricately detailed image of a 5ft or under humanoid) or DM's who might be poor sports and have his creatures metagame their way past an illusory wall by simply walking through it, somehow knowing it wasn't real from the start, as it makes no logical sense for someone to be walking face first into walls regularly.

    Your mileage may vary but I don't think Illusions are usually a good way to approach tanking. I will say, however, that an Illusionist Wizard who reaches 14th level can do pretty well, Illusory Reality allows them to change the terrain in a meaningful way. You can cage people on the spot for as low as a 1st level spell (silent image), which is an incredibly low cost. You're also effectively able to move any creature you capture using Silent Image, it's like having Resilient Sphere and Telekinesis packed into one 1st level spell with no saves.
    I may have missed some of the stuff.

    Spoiler: this is what I missed
    Show
    I was clear that I was talking about illusions that have the caveat "physical interaction with them reveals it to be an illusion" which are most of the placed illusions like Minor Illusion, Major Image and Silent Image.


    Then I agree that if the DM will want the illusions not to work they will not work.

    I never played in a table like this but I know it is possible.

    My bad for missing this part.


    Quote Originally Posted by Spacehamster View Post
    First of all tanking working or not completely is DM dependent, some DM’s are kind of playing it like all monsters know exactly how much threat all pc’s pose damage and control wise, thus not letting the “tank” do the role he designed his toon to do, like the monster knows that “if I walk past the armored guy up front I might take 13 damage which is fine cause I got 88 hp and this lets me get to the high threat wizard in the back.

    This ofc ignores the fact that most thinking creatures don’t want to get attacked from two directions. But yeah if your tank has both low ac and high damage the dm might be more keen to let his monsters attack you.
    That reminds me a game I had. We all played Sorcadins.

    And the tank that do 13 damage is what everyone until now sayed is the wrong way to tank.

    There are always the tank that can stop the orc in place, that will make difficult terrain and that will just do so much damage that the 88hp monster will have the ability to die from walking past him.

    It is like the wizard that stand surrounded by zombies and cast spells on the necromancer, the zombies can't do much to the wizard so he can just ignore them.
    The low AC tank is like the zombie.
    The tank don't need to lose armor in order to be dangerous, the armor just means he will probably be bad at stealth.
    The tank need to get stuff that will make the enemy suffer.
    It can be smite, Sentinel, BB+War Caster, Spirit Guardians, conquest fear lock and more.
    The AC is not a big factor, the big factor is threat and the guy that lock you down and hit you time after time when you can't hit him is a big threat.
    Same as the guy who target your high value allies and have the ability to hurt them.

    High damage or disablers are what your tank need.

    Unless the shaman told the orcs that the first one to kill a metal block will be the leader of the tribe they have no reason to pay attention or to to flank the low damage high AC tank.

    The low AC high damage is the glass cannon, not a tank. But why build a glass cannon when you can build a steel cannon?
    Last edited by BloodSnake'sCha; 2019-08-26 at 03:49 AM.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Lot's of good advice in this thread, and no low AC isn't going to help.

    Something I don't think has been brought up is deception, rumors etc. For an example, a monk can make themselves look like a mage and vice-versa fairly easily. This will only effect the first round of combat but if your enemies are sharing information you can just keep swapping disguises you can at least weaken surprise attacks. As for rumors, one of my most tank-ish experiences was in a game where, due to various reasons, the main enemies were convinced my character could flip out and become a relentless, unstoppable killing machine after a couple rounds. She.. couldn't do that at all, but the enemy never stuck around long enough to confirm anything besides the fact they couldn't seriously injure her. Since they didn't want to die when this neigh-invulnerable entity flipped out, of course.

    More generally, you need enemies to think you're the biggest threat*. Actually being the biggest threat helps, but anything that makes you look more deadly or everyone else look weaker could be of use. Or anything that makes it look like you're the real source of whatever the rest of the party is doing.

    *Or create situations where they don't have the option of attacking the actual biggest threat.

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    This isn't an issue with tanks, it's an issue with turtles, which is basically a kind of failed attempt to tank.

    Human vs AI games often have this. However, Human vs Human games with tank roles tend not to. If you want to understand how to tank in D&D, you would be better off looking at PvP games for examples. Less FFXIII, more Overwatch, League of Legends, Atlas Reactor, etc.

    You'll notice that in said games, people don't really talk about "aggro." They talk about an entirely different set of concepts, like "peel," "pressure," and "punishes."

    This is the key misunderstanding: Your goal isn't to get hit, it's to throw a monkey wrench into the enemy's strategy. Your durability is a tool to help you do that. Let me try to show you what I mean.

    Let's say you have a big beefy Sorcadin with Warcaster. They walk up to a foe, hit them hard with attacks + quickening Booming Blade. The foe is now not only wounded, but under a whole lot of option pressure. Why? Well, let's look at our hypothetical baddie's decision tree.

    Option A) They attack you. This is bad, because you're very hard to kill.

    Option B) They try to move past you to attack the back line. This is bad, because they'll not only trigger the Booming Blade rider, but they'll then provoke an opportunity attack which will give them another fat Booming Blade smite to the face. And then another Booming Blade rider on top of that if they continue to move. This is bad, because it will reduce the number of turns that they live and therefore offset the offensive benefit of attacking a squishier target. It might even outright kill them, given how much damage you've already done to them.

    Option C) They stay still, and use a ranged attack. This is bad, because they'll have Disadvantage on the ranged attack from being in melee with you.

    Option D) They stay still, and use a breath weapon cone. This is bad, because they can't freely position to maximize how many people are in the AoE, or change up their angle to get around allies taking advantage of cover, and because allies in the tank's aura will have a huge bonus to saving throws.

    Option E) They cast a spell. You or someone in your party casts Counterspell. And a lot of the stuff from option D might apply, too.

    See what's going on here? The effective tank isn't just going "gee, I super hope the DM decides to pick option A, otherwise I'll be useless." They're making all 5 options less attractive. That's a tank.

    Getting hit more often is not the goal itself, but a side effect of doing this effectively; enemies will try to deal with you because you have rendered other options less tenable. For a very direct example, an Ancestral Guardian barbarian will often get hit because they can actually make their allies more durable than a Bear-barian (at least, against Attacks from their marked target). Nobody wants to have Disadvantage to hit, Resistance, damage reduction, and damage retribution answering their attack, all at the same time.

    But that doesn't mean that the Ancestral Guardian's goal was actually "get hit." It was creating that "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation in the first place. The Ancestral Guardian is perfectly happy if the enemy makes the error of targeting a protected ally and triggering Spirit Vengeance and the like.
    This. All of this.

    Tanks in DnD don't really work like the tanks in a MMO, for several reasons. A better genre to pull inspiration from is MOBAs - even if they don't explicitily have a "tank" role, you'll often need a mix of durability and control options to effectively tank in those games, just line in DnD.

  20. - Top - End - #50
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    As others have said, effective tanking revolves around making the enemy choose between bad options. Ideally, it will be a hard choice, so that different enemies (or the same enemy on different rounds) will choose different strategies (and different targets) at different times. This spreads the damage around the party, making it less likely that anyone drops from focused fire.

    This is where the AC of the tank comes in. If it's too low, the enemy will have more incentive to focus fire on the tank. In certain situations this may be useful, but in general just reduces the tank's survivability. Conversely, if the tank's AC is too high, the enemy may choose to target the tank less often than the party would prefer, preventing any of the tank's durability features from coming into play, and risking other characters receiving focused fire.

    This is one of the reasons that Barbarians make such effective tanks: their ability to choose from round-to-round whether or not to grant enemies advantage to hit them lets them vary their attractiveness as a target. For example, in rounds where other PCs have full cover, the Barbarian is already a very attractive target, and may wish to avoid recklessly attacking (or even dodging, although this risks losing Rage) to reduce incoming focused fire. By contrast, if another PC is caught in the open with low HP, the Barbarian can increase their attractiveness as a target with a reckless attack, hopefully drawing fire from at least some of the enemies.

    In general, I would say that low AC doesn't help a tank, but you also don't want a tank's AC to be significantly higher than the rest of the party--it will make it more challenging to become an attractive target on those rounds where you want to be. This will be campaign-dependent of course: having a 22 AC is likely a huge advantage in a Combat-as-War game if the party can frequently choose the terrain for their battles. By contrast, a 22 AC may be a liability in a party of AC 15 spellcasters in a Combat-as-Sport game if the DM tends to design battles that lack options for cover.

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xetheral View Post
    As others have said, effective tanking revolves around making the enemy choose between bad options. Ideally, it will be a hard choice, so that different enemies (or the same enemy on different rounds) will choose different strategies (and different targets) at different times. This spreads the damage around the party, making it less likely that anyone drops from focused fire.

    This is where the AC of the tank comes in. If it's too low, the enemy will have more incentive to focus fire on the tank. In certain situations this may be useful, but in general just reduces the tank's survivability. Conversely, if the tank's AC is too high, the enemy may choose to target the tank less often than the party would prefer, preventing any of the tank's durability features from coming into play, and risking other characters receiving focused fire.

    This is one of the reasons that Barbarians make such effective tanks: their ability to choose from round-to-round whether or not to grant enemies advantage to hit them lets them vary their attractiveness as a target. For example, in rounds where other PCs have full cover, the Barbarian is already a very attractive target, and may wish to avoid recklessly attacking (or even dodging, although this risks losing Rage) to reduce incoming focused fire. By contrast, if another PC is caught in the open with low HP, the Barbarian can increase their attractiveness as a target with a reckless attack, hopefully drawing fire from at least some of the enemies.

    In general, I would say that low AC doesn't help a tank, but you also don't want a tank's AC to be significantly higher than the rest of the party--it will make it more challenging to become an attractive target on those rounds where you want to be. This will be campaign-dependent of course: having a 22 AC is likely a huge advantage in a Combat-as-War game if the party can frequently choose the terrain for their battles. By contrast, a 22 AC may be a liability in a party of AC 15 spellcasters in a Combat-as-Sport game if the DM tends to design battles that lack options for cover.
    I was going to say I disagree but then I read the last sentence.
    So I agree.

  22. - Top - End - #52
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    The only real solution I can think of is Sentinel as far as tanking support abilities, and that is a really powerful feat (perhaps due to it's great effect of making the tank function as a tank?) Functionally I agree "Tank" classes really need more tanking abilities, something like Mass Compelled Duel, with the DC set by Con? Or Str or Dex depending on your class. Still possible to ignore, but it's something to help Tanks be useful against groups.
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  23. - Top - End - #53
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    One thing that is something to think about is AC in itself is abstract. A fighter in plate and shield and a monk can have near equal AC but may manifest in very different ways.
    I'm a firm believer that players' description of actions should play a big roll in how NPCs react.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    No, tanks should not have low AC. High AC also represents hits that do no damage. They aren't really a miss, but a hit that doesn't get through.

    Moving by threats on the battlefield is penalized, so should not happen unless there is a very strong reason to take that chance. That's why tanks stand in front. It's not that they are a desired target, it's that they are in the way.

    As DM, most of my encounters follow the simple rule that they attack whatever is closest. Advanced tactics, like going after the "mage", don't happen unless they are facing smart adversaries.

  25. - Top - End - #55
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Tactics for my NPCs very much depends on the specific enemies. Enter a bear’s cave and it will attack whoever is the most immediate threat, trying to push them out. A wolf pack is more likely to try to evade the tank and try to take down the weaker members. A rust monster would flock to an armored tank while avoiding an Ancient unarmored barbarian.
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Demonslayer666 View Post
    Advanced tactics, like going after the "mage", don't happen unless they are facing smart adversaries.
    Don't be too harsh on GMs running "dumb" enemies using effective tactics, after all many Int 8 PCs use brutally efficient team tactics.

  27. - Top - End - #57
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by HappyDaze View Post
    Don't be too harsh on GMs running "dumb" enemies using effective tactics, after all many Int 8 PCs use brutally efficient team tactics.
    Aren't tactics under wisdom?

    Knowing tactics is intelligent, understanding and creating them is wisdom.

  28. - Top - End - #58
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by HappyDaze View Post
    Don't be too harsh on GMs running "dumb" enemies using effective tactics, after all many Int 8 PCs use brutally efficient team tactics.
    In my experience, groups of PCs are effectively NEVER as good at tactics as a real world wolf-pack.

    Wolves trip, they attack from behind, they have one wolf distract you while another moves in for the kill, they go for the weakest member of a group, they will use one group to run you into an ambush by another group, they will deliberately relay you to exhaustion by alternating who chases, they use long distance signaling quite effectively to coordinate over long distances, they will disengage if over-matched or they will fight to the death to protect the rest of their group if that is more appropriate.

    Wolves aren't all that smart. But there aren't any tactics any martial or non-spellcasting monster is using in D&D land that are all that much more complicated than what a wolf can manage.

    Crows also aren't all that smart, but they can recognize a rifle, and within limits can count how many people have gone into a hunting blind and how many have left and keep track of whether or not anyone is in there. I have no trouble with the idea that a crow in D&D land would be smart enough to recognize when someone is casting a spell.

    The fact of the matter is, almost everything in D&D land is smart enough to employ decent tactics.
    Last edited by Doug Lampert; 2019-08-26 at 04:05 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    In my experience, groups of PCs are effectively NEVER as good at tactics as a real world wolf-pack.

    Wolves trip, they attack from behind, they have one wolf distract you while another moves in for the kill, they go for the weakest member of a group, they will use one group to run you into an ambush by another group, they will deliberately relay you to exhaustion by alternating who chases, they use long distance signaling quite effectively to coordinate over long distances, they will disengage if over-matched or they will fight to the death to protect the rest of their group if that is more appropriate.

    Wolves aren't all that smart. But there aren't any tactics any martial or non-spellcasting monster is using in D&D land that are all that much more complicated than what a wolf can manage.

    Crows also aren't all that smart, but they can recognize a rifle, and within limits can count how many people have gone into a hunting blind and how many have left and keep track of whether or not anyone is in there. I have no trouble with the idea that a crow in D&D land would be smart enough to recognize when someone is casting a spell.

    The fact of the matter is, almost everything in D&D land is smart enough to employ decent tactics.
    I think the distinction is they use decent tactics but not the best tactics and may take a while to recognise that there primary tactics aren't working.
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  30. - Top - End - #60
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    Default Re: Should Tanks have low AC?

    Even wolves don't have hunting strategies that reduce to "attack nearest thing."

    That orc with 7 Int? They possess instincts honed by a lifetime of warfare, and were trained as a soldier in a battle-hardened warrior society, taught tried and true strategies developed over generations of trial and error in battle. They know what a spellcaster is and why it matters as surely as any modern soldier can recognize a tank, sniper, grenade, or artillery emplacement and has at least some idea of the correct way to respond.

    A low intelligence score is not a good excuse to play creatures like badly programmed videogame zombies.

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