Game Theory on Choices (or why the Seeker sucks)

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For those of you not familiar with Magic the Gathering, Breaking Point is a card that seems incredibly strong at first glance.  It's one mana cheaper than the famously powerful Wrath of God, and it cannot be blocked or removed like the 6-damage-three-mana spell Ball Lightning.  So if its effect can be better than Wrath, or better than Ball Lightning, how come this card never made a splash on the tournament scene?  

The answer is because the opponent gets to choose the effect.  Ball Lightning can kill an opponent with 6 life remaining. Breaking Point can't; an opponent who would die to the damage will throw away his creatures to survive. Similarly, Wrath can save you when you are at two and your opponent is at twenty. If you Breaking Point, your opponent will suck up the six damage and kill you on the counter swing.  Clearly, the division of Wizards that designs MTG understands this basic principle of game theory.  Giving choices to the enemy is bad--unless the opponent is choosing irrationally, the effect that offers an opponent a choice is always strictly worse than either of its components.

Unfortunately, this lesson on game design doesn't seem to have cross-pollenated to the DnD team.  Perhaps the most egregious example is Brash Assault, a power that gives opponents a choice of being hit by a base attack, or trading blows with the Warlords ally.  Since there is no compulsion for a monster to make its bonus attack, and no punishment for withholding, a rational monster will make the attack only when it benefits him to do so.  The power is an MBA that gives the monster a choice.

This pattern continued past MP into PHB2.  Peek at the invokers level 3 powers. Glyph of Imprisonment isn't EXACTLY the same as Chains of Carceri; the former targets will instead of reflex, and does radiant damage.  But unless you have a build that takes advantage of the radiant damage, Chains are basically in all ways superior.  The Glyph gives the enemies a choice of taking the same damage as Chains and having less restricted movement, or taking noticeably less damage for slightly more restricted movement.  If an enemy wants to move three or more squares, Chains is superior; if the enemy doesn't want to move at all, Chains is superior.  Only if the enemy wants to move two or fewer squares is Glyph superior, and then only by .5 of an average damage.

But the real victim of this failure to understand the 'Punisher' mechanic is the Seeker, because half of his arsenal relies on it. For instance,  consider Guardian Harrier.  It's 1[W] + Wisdom, and punishes enemies who don't move with +Strength damage.  But a sorcerer can add his strength to a d10+primary stat role 100% of the time, notwithstanding enemies' decision to move. In other words, Guardian Harrier isn't a controller at-will; its a mediocre striker at-will (though admittedly with longer range or more accuracy for bloodbond and spiritbond, respectively).

It continues.  Burrowing Shot deals damage equivalent to a boring 3[w] striker power, and will on rare occasions do a little splash damage--unless the target is a leader that can productively spend its turn spamming zones and healing, in which case the seeker has a boring 2[w] power.  Spectral Scorpion differs in specifics, but the end result is the same.  Binding Shot, a level 9 daily, is incredibly low damage; giving enemies the option of taking negligibly more damage to ignore the condition just weakens it further.  At level 13, enemies will take extra damage if they break Raven Wing Shot's condition--but even if they decide to break it 100% of the time, the seeker will total doing damage than a ranger using the level 1 Two-Fanged Strike!

This problem lasts all the way to 29.  Look at Bones of the Earth.  5 dice damage plus immobilized would be hopelessly weak from a level 29 daily.  5 dice of damage plus ongoing 10 would be even more pathetic.  But the condition on Bones of the Earth amounts to "The enemy can choose, each round, whether it would be more beneficial to take ongoing 10 or to be immobilized."  Its atrocious--and its designed that way based on a fundamental misunderstanding of game theory.

Seekers have some cool powers.  They also have a lot of junk.  And while criticism that all Seekers are just bad Rangers is unfounded, it's easy to accidentally make one that is.  Just pick the powers that deal damage as punishment, and you'll have no control, and striker damage bonuses that only sometimes work.

Edit:  As several people are reading my OP, skipping 10 pages of discussion, and posting questions that have already been answered or misunderstandings of my argument that have already been clarified, here are a few relevant responses to common questions.

 
57048578 wrote:
Optimal choice discussion aside, I don't think that choice/choice powers are a bad idea.

I don't either!  Breaking Point may have sucked, but Browbeat is one of my favorite cards ever.

The problem is not that choice/choice powers are inherently weak, but that they are inherently weaker than either of the choices.  So when a Seeker at-will gives the enemy a choice between being hit by Sorcerer damage, or being immobilized, the Seeker ends up inherently weaker than his Sorcerer buddy who deals sorcerer damage without a choice.  The punishment for not moving needs to be significantly higher for the power to be a viable at-will. Unfortunately, the DnD design team doesn't seem to have picked up on that yet.



 [quote author=57048578 post=402507381]
57531378 wrote:
Meh, there are a few problems with the OP's argument.

1) The fact that his M:tG example demonstrates that SOME instances of giving an enemy a choice are bad can't be generalized to ALL instances of giving an enemy a choice are bad. Unless some general rule of logic is invoked the argument has not been made and the conclusion is not proven, thus the argument is flawed.

All right, general logic (in spoiler text since it will be long)

Show
Assume that powers A, B, and C are all identical except that A imposes condition X, B imposes condition Y, and C allows a monster to choose between condition X or Y.

Assume that conditions X and Y are distinct, and that neither is strictly better or worse than the other--that is to say, in some cases a monster will be hindered more by X than by Y, and in other cases the monster will be hindered more by Y than by X.

Assume that monster Q is fully aware of the conditions of the battle, and makes rational decisions to maximize his chances of winning.

There are three possible cases in which Q can find himself.

Scenario 1:  X and Y are equally detrimental to Q.
Result:  Obviously, all three powers are equally detrimental to Q.
A = B
A = C
B = C

Scenario 2:  X is more detrimental to Q.
Result:  A deals X to Q.  B deals Y to Q.  Q chooses to have C deal Y to Q.
A > B
A > C
B = C

Scenario 3:  Y is more detrimental to Q.
Result:  A deals X to Q. B deals Y to Q.  Q chooses to have C deal X.
A < B
A = C
B > C

Thus, in all circumstances where Q has knowledge and rationality, A is either equivalent to C or better than C.  In all circumstances where Q has knowledge and rationality, B is either equivalent to C or better than C.  Thus, we can generalize that powers that offer a meaningful choice to opponents must, by necessity, be worse than a power that forces either of the two choices on that opponent, unless that opponent behaves against its best interest through ignorance or irrationality.
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Giving choices to the enemy is bad--unless the opponent is choosing irrationally, the effect that offers an opponent a choice is always strictly worse than either of its components.



derailing a bit, that's precisely why I don't understand the advice that a fighter should not blindlessly mark every enemy they happen to hit... and that advice was given by the authors nonetheless!
That would depend on your DM. There are many out there that simply attack the marker if they are marked almost exclusively.  While this does make your job of defender easier, it also brings up another scenario:  The one where you have 2 healing surges left and all the squishies have 9.

Unless you have an artificer in the party or the level 1 ritual Commrade's Succor, sometimes, with this sort of DM, you'll need to let the squishies get ruffled a bit in order to last out the day.

But anyway, I feel bad for derailing.  I certainly see the OP's point here.  Giving an enemy a choice should be factored in to power design so that it only happens with powers that without that penalty would be too powerful for their level (much like the self-damaging mechanic or other penalties are used to balance powers).
While I completely agree that some Seeker powers are not as well written as they might be, giving choice to an enemy is not always a bad thing.  As long as those two choices tend to be equally bad.  The problem for WotC designers is that they haven't yet really hit the nail on the head with these types of powers.

As someone who is a strong Warlord player, I completely agree that Brash Assault is the perfect example of a power that will never entice a monster into it (except based on roleplaying, sometimes) but I submit that using M:tG as a comparison is not really fair.

Sometimes, a DM will have a good reason to roleplay a monster as they type that will respond to certain powers in certain ways.  In Magic, it's just two players, fully aware of the "math" working against each other in what effectively comes down to an equation.

Situations will be more fluid in D&D.  A power that punishes a monster with 10 damage or immobilized is great, if you have them in dangerous terrain and they really want to move.  A failing of many "this power sucks" arguments tends to be that a lot of players forget that they will have other party members impacting the combat as well.  Sometimes, the synergy of a party makes powers better than they at first seem in a "one-character" vacuum.  To use an absurd example, Commander's Strike is the worst power in the game if you don't have any allies...  Silly, but it makes the point.

@gbnogkfs
One of the primary reasons they mention this is that your fighter may not always be in a position where marking would be the best choice.  A warden I was DM'ing for learning this the hard way by marking every monster around him when he had 10 hp left in a hard fight.  Since he marked all the monsters, they all attacked him.  He went down.  It's not, "don't mark sometimes for no reason" it's "don't mark if you have a situational reason not to."  Additionally, some parties carry more than one defender.  If your mark is overriding another mark, that at that moment might be more beneficial, then don't mark...  it's all about situation.
Your not comparing things exactly; the situation you use to preface is magic, giving only two impacts without any additional considerations.

The point of a controller is to force the target to a certain action. It's not supposed to occur in a vacuum.

He's slowed or takes ongoing -- Skirmisher keeps moving and hitting for massive damage, target never reaches prey -- equals death, staying still and attacking someone close -- taking ongoing damage and getting hit from striker for massive damage and whoever is close?

You've made someone sticky and made your striker effective, i.e. control 
I'd suggest you're misunderstanding what these powers are supposed to do.

Guardian Harrier services the Defender secondary, not the Striker secondary - it encourages the target to move away from whichever party member it is attacking at the time.

Burrowing Shot does pretty nice damage, and encourages an enemy not to attack - better than that, if it doesn't, you could use a power after it turn that forces it to attack one of its allies, which can be handy. Alternatively, it causes your enemies to spread out so that the target of Burrowing Shot can make an attack without damaging them.

But the real issue is what you are fundamentally misunderstanding. You assume that monsters are willing to take damage when they can avoid it. If they are, I would say, they are being played poorly. Self-preservation is one of the strongest instincts there is. Anything that is "take damage or" would require the creature to have a very, very, very good reason to not go with "or". You can't think of the creature's decision in terms of numbers. You need to think of it in terms of it wants to survive, first, and win the battle second. Some special circumstances would change this, mind you, but in general, your analysis is wrong.
If "self preservation" is the strongest instinct of monsters, every monster would run while bloodied, and fights would last half as long.

Besides, the best route to self preservation is to kill ones enemies--and if taking five damage is required to take a 15-damage counterattack, that's a good tradeoff (especially since monsters have more HP than PCs.)

But Inarai, you're missing the point. If the monster WANTS to avoid damage--and your job is to KILL the monster--then why should the seeker give the monster powers that let it do what it wants? Not when the Ranger can deal the same damage, or more, 100% of the time regardless of the monsters decision.
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I think these types of powers are fine...if the effects are strong enough.  Also when creating these kinds of powers, the power of the effect can be ramped up because the fact that the target chooses the effect inherently lowers the effectiveness of hte power.

Storm Pillar would be a good example: you can choose to avoid the damage, but if you decide you need to eat it, you might eat quite a lot of it.  Obviously it's of no use on artillery, but that's not the power's fault... and it can be a horrible thing to do to a skirmisher.  "I can eat a ton of damage, or I can choose to stand still and not be useful at all this round"

Brash Strike, is, of course, a bad example.

There are some high level avenger powers with the same issue. "End your turn next to me, and you'll take 5 damage.  How do you like that Mr. 27th level monster?"  "Oh, that's what the tickling was.  I was wondering."  Make that "End your turn next to me and you'll be slowed and dazed and take 25 damage" and you'd have something more suitable for the tier.  Yes, slow and daze in combination are very strong, but since the monster chooses, it's acceptable.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima


@gbnogkfs
One of the primary reasons they mention this is that your fighter may not always be in a position where marking would be the best choice.  A warden I was DM'ing for learning this the hard way by marking every monster around him when he had 10 hp left in a hard fight.  Since he marked all the monsters, they all attacked him.  He went down.



well... that could have happened regardless of the marking. Mark or not, the monsters always have the choice of attacking the fighter: if that's the best tactict for them, marking them should not change their course of action. (if played rationally, which is the basic premise here)
In the specific marking example, the advice assumes a squishy DM--if he WANTS to cut you some slack, and your powers PREVENT him from doing so, then marking can be counter productive. But as gbnogfks said, if the fighter is at 10 hp, rational monsters will chew him up and spit him out, marked or otherwise.
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There's a flaw in your train of thought because you're comparing different powers unilaterally, regardless of intent. Part of the purpose of the Controller role (or at least one way to manifest that role) is to influence opponent behavior by providing Lose/Lose-less scenarios. Now, while some powers may provide choices that aren't effective deterrents I don't think that's a damning mark on all choice powers. Keep in mind that the choice isn't really made in isolation, it's made by a DM who's in the middle of reffing an encounter. Sure we can sit back and evaluate that under X circumstances Y is the better choice than Z, but I'm not likely to remember that at the table for every power (though I suppose I'll remember which ones my players have over time) nor am I willing to hang up the table long enough to really evaluate the choice.

Optimal choice discussion aside, I don't think that choice/choice powers are a bad idea. There's a certain degree of reward that comes from seeing your actions directly impact the choices that are made at the table, not just that your opponents took actions to recover from what you did to them, but that they changed their plan in some way, behaved differently, because of the scenario you constructed. 
Keep in mind that the choice isn't really made in isolation, it's made by a DM who's in the middle of reffing an encounter. Sure we can sit back and evaluate that under X circumstances Y is the better choice than Z, but I'm not likely to remember that at the table for every power (though I suppose I'll remember which ones my players have over time) nor am I willing to hang up the table long enough to really evaluate the choice.

True, but "the DM might screw up" isn't good balance for the game. Besides, even if the DM screws up 25% of the time, that means that 75% of the time choice-powers are worse than normal powers.  Finally, 4e is a cooperative game. Having powers that are only good when you outsmart your DM sets up an adversarial, player-versus-master set up that we've been intentionally moving away from since the first Tomb of Horrors.



Optimal choice discussion aside, I don't think that choice/choice powers are a bad idea.

I don't either!  Breaking Point may have sucked, but Browbeat is one of my favorite cards ever.

The problem is not that choice/choice powers are inherently weak, but that they are inherently weaker than either of the choices.  So when a Seeker at-will gives the enemy a choice between being hit by Sorcerer damage, or being immobilized, the Seeker ends up inherently weaker than his Sorcerer buddy who deals sorcerer damage without a choice.  The punishment for not moving needs to be significantly higher for the power to be a viable at-will. Unfortunately, the DnD design team doesn't seem to have picked up on that yet.

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True, but "the DM might screw up" isn't good balance for the game. Besides, even if the DM screws up 25% of the time, that means that 75% of the time choice-powers are worse than normal powers.  Finally, 4e is a cooperative game. Having powers that are only good when you outsmart your DM sets up an adversarial, player-versus-master set up that we've been intentionally moving away from since the first Tomb of Horrors.


True, it may not be the best thing to balance on, but it is a factor nonetheless and one that contributes to the playability of the power being higher than the on-paper viability. This is where you end up with tons of people showing up saying "it works great at my table" and whatnot because in-play use is less... I dunno, sterile.



The problem is not that choice/choice powers are inherently weak, but that they are inherently weaker than either of the choices.  So when a Seeker at-will gives the enemy a choice between being hit by Sorcerer damage, or being immobilized, the Seeker ends up inherently weaker than his Sorcerer buddy who deals sorcerer damage without a choice.  The punishment for not moving needs to be significantly higher for the power to be a viable at-will. Unfortunately, the DnD design team doesn't seem to have picked up on that yet.


This is where my first comments come into play: if the Sorcerer isn't dealing Sorcerer damage every turn then they're a bad Striker. The Seeker isn't being held to the rubric of the Sorcerer, though, which is why Choice powers tend to be really bad for Strikers unless they're Lose/Lose-crazy-bad, in which case they're inherently better than any straight Lose power. The Seeker, though, is being held against other Controllers, and while every member of the party needs to do their share of the damage it's certainly not the defining MO of Controllers.

The example you've used, damage or immobilized, has distinct tactical uses. A melee opponent that's away from anyone to hit gets to choose between taking damage and doing nothing. That's control. Part of the advanced tactics of being a Controller is to read the field and determine what incentives (of those you have available) will achieve desired results. You use these powers because you want the target to take the Lose-less option because doing so will be better for the party. You want the Ogre to take the Immobilized option because it saves the party 1d12+7 damage.  If it doesn't? Well, at least you got some Sorcerer damage in there. It feels counterintuitive, but the Lose-less option is the one you should always be focusing on because that's the one they're likely to take. If the Lose-less option is actually a Lose-nothing option then either the power is bunk or it's just not the right situation for it (but even Thunderwave isn't universally useful).
In the specific marking example, the advice assumes a squishy DM--if he WANTS to cut you some slack, and your powers PREVENT him from doing so, then marking can be counter productive. But as gbnogfks said, if the fighter is at 10 hp, rational monsters will chew him up and spit him out, marked or otherwise.





If the fighter's at 10, someone needs to help him out before that happens. That said, a lot of seeker powers seem to basically be ranged marks, in some ways it can be built as a ranged manifestation of the defender role - but rather than making things attack it, the Seeker discourages the enemy from attacking certain targets or behaving in certain ways.

Also: If the DM is trying to "beat" the party, it's already adversarial. If he is not, his decisions should be those the creatures would actually make - and thus you are outsmarting the creatures, even if the DM knows what you're doing.
It's awesome to force an opponent to choose between two awful options.  As long as you constantly watch out for options like that a seeker is fine.

If you don't think about ways to give monsters terrible choices and just use the powers willy-nilly then making the DM make a decision will be meaningless.

The druid has some awesome "tough choice" powers and I'm happy to see them on the Seeker as well.

If they're not working for you, I'd suggest figuring out how to up your game by learning to watch for the best applications of those abilities each and every round.

The example you've used, damage or immobilized, has distinct tactical uses. A melee opponent that's away from anyone to hit gets to choose between taking damage and doing nothing. That's control. Part of the advanced tactics of being a Controller is to read the field and determine what incentives (of those you have available) will achieve desired results. You use these powers because you want the target to take the Lose-less option because doing so will be better for the party. You want the Ogre to take the Immobilized option because it saves the party 1d12+7 damage.  If it doesn't? Well, at least you got some Sorcerer damage in there. It feels counterintuitive, but the Lose-less option is the one you should always be focusing on because that's the one they're likely to take. If the Lose-less option is actually a Lose-nothing option then either the power is bunk or it's just not the right situation for it (but even Thunderwave isn't universally useful).

Unfortunately, you're thinking about the 'punishement' as if it's a good thing--the same mistake as Wizard's is making.  

So here's a thought experiment. Let's start with the Sorcerer:
Chaos Bolt:
Hit: 1d10 + Cha + Str damage

Now, let's re-write Guardian Harrier.  Bear in mind that the power I'm providing is for all intents and purposes functionally identical to the actual powers in the PHB3 (assuming a longbow). 

Guardian Harrier Mk. II
Hit:  1d10+Wis + Str damage.  If the enemy moves two or more squares on its next turn, it regains hit points equal to your strength modifier.


Because Guardian Harrier is written in the book it "punishment" for monsters, it seems better than it is.  But if we rephrase the power to eliminate that psychological temptation, it becomes clear that Guardian Harrier is a sorcerer's Chaos Bolt with an escape clause built in.

The same thought exercises apply to every power I've named.  Don't think of them as "lose/lose." Think of them as "Striker damage" or "Not-quite striker damage"  with an additional way for monsters to avoid taking damage.


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The example you've used, damage or immobilized, has distinct tactical uses. A melee opponent that's away from anyone to hit gets to choose between taking damage and doing nothing. That's control. Part of the advanced tactics of being a Controller is to read the field and determine what incentives (of those you have available) will achieve desired results. You use these powers because you want the target to take the Lose-less option because doing so will be better for the party. You want the Ogre to take the Immobilized option because it saves the party 1d12+7 damage.  If it doesn't? Well, at least you got some Sorcerer damage in there. It feels counterintuitive, but the Lose-less option is the one you should always be focusing on because that's the one they're likely to take. If the Lose-less option is actually a Lose-nothing option then either the power is bunk or it's just not the right situation for it (but even Thunderwave isn't universally useful).

Unfortunately, you're thinking about the 'punishement' as if it's a good thing--the same mistake as Wizard's is making.  

So here's a thought experiment. Let's start with the Sorcerer:
Chaos Bolt:
Hit: 1d10 + Cha + Str damage

Now, let's re-write Guardian Harrier.  Bear in mind that the power I'm providing is for all intents and purposes functionally identical to the actual powers in the PHB3 (assuming a longbow). 

Guardian Harrier Mk. II
Hit:  1d10+Wis + Str damage.  If the enemy moves two or more squares on its next turn, it regains hit points equal to your strength modifier.


Because Guardian Harrier is written in the book it "punishment" for monsters, it seems better than it is.  But if we rephrase the power to eliminate that psychological temptation, it becomes clear that Guardian Harrier is a sorcerer's Chaos Bolt with an escape clause built in.

The same thought exercises apply to every power I've named.  Don't think of them as "lose/lose." Think of them as "Striker damage" or "Not-quite striker damage"  with an additional way for monsters to avoid taking damage.







...

Sorceror is striker primary, it will generally do better damage. So, your comparison is false.

And healing the enemy is just ridiculous, and makes that a power to never ever touch. The "escape clause" is a form of controlling/defending, as well, it influences enemy behaviour, which is the point of these "choice" powers. You make it better for them to do what you want them to do. No monster wants to eat that damage, so they will move.

Regardless, the ability is actually very good in it's niche: Controller primary, striker secondary. It strongly influences the enemy to do something you want them to, and it does so with the threat of extra damage. On a hit, the power succeeds at one of 2 things: Controlling the enemy or hitting them for striker damage. Most of the time, it will do the former - which is it's PRIMARY FUNCTION. That escape clause doesn't hamstring the power, it's the exact thing that makes it useful for the class's role.
You want the Ogre to take the Immobilized option because it saves the party 1d12+7 damage.  If it doesn't? Well, at least you got some Sorcerer damage in there.

If getting Sorcerer level damage is considered a success, why don't I just play a sorcerer?

For choice powers to function, the penalty has to be stronger than even a striker's power.  Otherwise you should just replace the character with a striker.

(random semi-trolling:

'I say "Monster, if you don't move 2 squares, I'll blast you."  I then ready an action to blast the monster if it doesn't move two squares.'

Is a striker saying that that a better controller than the seeker, assuming no communication issues?)

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

And healing the enemy is just ridiculous, and makes that a power to never ever touch.  



1[w] + wis + strength.  An enemy can regain str hit points if it moves two squares on its turn.
1[w] + wis.  And enemy takes str extra damage if it does not move two squares on its turn.

With the sole exception of interacting with resistance/vulnerability differently, how are my version of the power and the original version of the power different?

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And healing the enemy is just ridiculous, and makes that a power to never ever touch.  



1[w] + wis + strength.  An enemy can regain str hit points if it moves two squares on its turn.
1[w] + wis.  And enemy takes str extra damage if it does not move two squares on its turn.

With the sole exception of interacting with resistance/vulnerability differently, how are my version of the power and the original version of the power different?






That exception is the issue. If an enemy resists or reduces your damage, you've negated some of your main damage as well - and then the power becomes bad.

As is, it works FINE. It does EXACTLY what it's supposed to do. The idea is that the enemy will almost never incur the punishment.
> Because Guardian Harrier is written in the book it "punishment" for monsters, it
> seems better than it is. But if we rephrase the power to eliminate that
> psychological temptation, it becomes clear that Guardian Harrier is a sorcerer's
> Chaos Bolt with an escape clause built in.

The creature must move in order to activate that escape clause - what else is it giving up if it takes that option? It may end up drawing OAs, triggering other effects that are active on it, or losing an advantageous position.

As others have said, these effects can't be considered in isolation.
The idea is that the enemy will almost never incur the punishment.

And the issue is that monsters run by smart GMs will always incur the punishement when it's in Team Monster's advantage to, and never when it's not.  So you'd be better off replacing the Seeker with a striker, you'd always be ahead except when you'd be even.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

The idea is that the enemy will almost never incur the punishment.

And the issue is that monsters run by smart GMs will always incur the punishement when it's in Team Monster's advantage to, and never when it's not.  So you'd be better off replacing the Seeker with a striker, you'd always be ahead except when you'd be even.





You mean DMs who are playing monster chess, instead? Monsters will almost never choose to be hit, if they are making choices the creature would actually make instead of being treated like pawns in chess.

In theory, this sounds right, but D&D is too easy to manipulate.  If one of the options is effectively negated, you're left with giving the enemy only one real option - and you're advocating that the remaining option needs to be overpowered.  The way that power scales in D&D makes this type of manipulation too easy. 

As an abstract example which shows one method of manipulation, let's say that I give you two options when I use a power.  Both options are the equivalent to a power typical for that level with 5 levels of feat/item support.  Now, let's say that I have 3 levels of feat support to benefit one of those options, and those 3 levels make it too painful to ever be a realistic option for enemies to choose.  As we're really only down to one option, and that option is equivalent to a typical power of that level with 5 levels of support, but I only devoted 3 levels of feat support to make the other option too strong to be considered, I am obtaining too much benefit for the cost.

You can't give PCs things that can be overpowered with PC manipulation.

I think WotC needs to keep these powers underpowered if they plan to keep including them, but I'd rather that they just not include them anymore. 

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It seems Reyemile & Mystek both make somewhat compelling points for the two sides of issue with the choice powers. On one hand, if the choices are too binary, too weighted out such as Browbeat and some other M:TG cards, then it's hard to make them reliably useful. On the other, triggers which fire too easily or that can be fired too often can potentially make for a very overpowered effect if it wasn't 'costed' right, such as comedy with the Blood Mage.

I'd venture that Guardian Harrier is a good example of a power that manages to balance these factors out. On the obvious downside, it is, at best, a Sorcerer's at-will in damage, but it is countable as a ranged basic, which factors into the power level to an extent; Acid Orb for a non-striker isn't the worst place to be. If you're looking to make that damage near-guaranteed, it's not that hard with tactics. Focus-fire with a sticky defender is the most obvious power play. Them trying to get away is already risky, and that'll rarely be the difference between staying or risking an OA/Combat Challenge. Further, with a warden or your own persistent movement control (Rime Strike), there may not even get to be a choice. Also of note, because the damage trigger is separate from the main source, it has the upside and downside of working differently with resistances and vulnerabilities. Slap some Lasting Frost on this, and a Frost thrown weapon GH can be doing 1d8+Wis+Str+10, which suddenly pushes it up a notch.

Many of the interesting seeker powers follow the controller vein of setting up hard choices. In Magic, good players do this all the time; Breaking Point isn't good at it because the choice is (generally) clear, but in combat, it's possible to be very sneaky like making a bluff for pumps/kills on a seemingly risky attack, forcing the opponent to risk his own creatures or give up free damage. The goal in these situations is to make it so the right choice doesn't look like it. In this regard, their theme of 'you hurt your adjacent allies' is a good one for potential abuse. With a wrangling ally that can move enemies near each other, you can force them to suffer a decent uptick in damage per round or deal with your party's shenanigans to stop it (which might, in turn, increase DPR anyhow).

Given how these choice-based or otherwise partially DM-controlled powers aren't even the majority of the class' power set, I don't see a big case for dropping them as a design. I like the contrast when a character can set up more hard choices, because just as in Magic, the more hard choices you inflict on an enemy, the more likely he'll eventually screw one up.
The idea is that the enemy will almost never incur the punishment.

And the issue is that monsters run by smart GMs will always incur the punishement when it's in Team Monster's advantage to, and never when it's not.  So you'd be better off replacing the Seeker with a striker, you'd always be ahead except when you'd be even.


A word of advice; you are evaluating the powers in a vacuum.

Control is all about tactics.  You don't simply slap on a conditional effect; you use it when BOTH choices would benefit you, and even if the opponent picks the better of the two, you steeple your fingers and say "Just as planned".  Moreover, you work with your party to make it so there is not better option; if the target wants to move to avoid the punishment, the fighter shifts next to him and pins him to the floor.  If the target tries not to attack, the strikers dance past him while laughing as he doesn't take OA and use the advantage to secure a better position.  Meanwhile, if the target IS attacking and chewing on the penalty, your leader steps in and uses a defensive buff to prevent any trouble, so that the enemy is kicking his own arse for nothing.

Moreover, it is all about targeting; a "If you move, you get slapped" power works nicely against a skirmisher to keep him from doing his job.  It isn't very good against a backline artillery cannon....unless a melee striker happens to be hounding him, in which case you can throw on the effect to punish him for trying to get away.  Can the target just evaluate if your damage will be worse than being near the striker?  Sure.  But the point is; either way, the hurt is going his way, and there's nothing he can do about it. 

Lose-Lose situations rely upon ensuring that it IS a true loss, no matter which way the target goes.  And that means synergy; changing your tactics depending on which choice he goes with, always ensuring that whatever happens, He Chose....Poorly.  Because that's what control is all about; using the situations and turning them to your advantage.
Meh, there are a few problems with the OP's argument.

1) The fact that his M:tG example demonstrates that SOME instances of giving an enemy a choice are bad can't be generalized to ALL instances of giving an enemy a choice are bad. Unless some general rule of logic is invoked the argument has not been made and the conclusion is not proven, thus the argument is flawed.

2) All examples of "under circumstance X power Y does less than striker damage and thus is a bad power" is easily dismissed by the most basic reductio ad absurdum. All other at-wills do inferior damage to Twin Strike, therefor they are broken and should do more damage. This is an extreme example of the same logic but it illustrates the point. Just because you can show me a power that would do more damage than the one I have (particularly if it is one that isn't even an option for my character) means nothing. At most it COULD indicate I made a suboptimal choice, but it usually doesn't.

3) When you take powers in general in total isolation from the context of the encounter they are being used in then you have nothing to judge by except DPR essentially. We all know charops loves things that do damage, more damage, and best of all the mostest damage. It is a valid way to analyze powers, up to a point. It is not a very deep analysis and can trivially lead to absurd results.

If I want the orc to move away from the door, then I would be happy to have Guardian Harrier over Chaos Bolt. The orc is likely to move if I cast GH on him. He has NO incentive to move if I cast CB on him. If those are my choices then tactically it would be foolish of me to use CB unless the extra couple of points of damage is so significant that it changes the equation. Damage is a wonderful thing, but it is worthless to do an extra say 5 points of damage to the orc if the party fails to achieve its goal because the orc didn't move. More than that, the truth is that extra 5 points of damage is likely to prove irrelevant anyhow. The fighter can probably dish out a nice 25 points of damage, there is only a 20% chance that the 5 extra I did made the difference between that being a killing blow and 5 points of overkill. This kind of calculation comes up all the time.

Finally it is unfair in the OPs comparison to compare CB to GH the way he does. What would GH ACTUALLY look like if it wasn't a 'choice' power? It CERTAINLY WOULD NOT be as high damage as CB. Maybe it would be more than it is now if the enemy moves, but to imagine that the hypothetical alternative power you have to compare to would be doing CB's damage is just plain wrong. It would do less. Maybe it would be a d12 + Wis say. Is a static extra 2 points of damage worth the loss of the chance to encourage a monster to move? That is a LOT tougher call than the false choice presented by the OP.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

You mean DMs who are playing monster chess, instead? Monsters will almost never choose to be hit, if they are making choices the creature would actually make instead of being treated like pawns in chess.

The monsters you describe would flee from combat at the first hit every time; there would be no DnD because every fight would be over round one. Well, unless your evil PCs were tracking down, cornering, and murdering their opposition.

Besides,having monsters make "choices the creature would actually make" means playing them with in-character knowledge--such as the fact that the spirit harrowing you is a lot less threatening than the fighter with the greatsword waiting for you to drop your guard.

Many of the interesting seeker powers follow the controller vein of setting up hard choices. In Magic, good players do this all the time; Breaking Point isn't good at it because the choice is (generally) clear, but in combat, it's possible to be very sneaky like making a bluff for pumps/kills on a seemingly risky attack, forcing the opponent to risk his own creatures or give up free damage. The goal in these situations is to make it so the right choice doesn't look like it. In this regard, their theme of 'you hurt your adjacent allies' is a good one for potential abuse. With a wrangling ally that can move enemies near each other, you can force them to suffer a decent uptick in damage per round or deal with your party's shenanigans to stop it (which might, in turn, increase DPR anyhow).

Given how these choice-based or otherwise partially DM-controlled powers aren't even the majority of the class' power set, I don't see a big case for dropping them as a design. I like the contrast when a character can set up more hard choices, because just as in Magic, the more hard choices you inflict on an enemy, the more likely he'll eventually screw one up.

The problem here is that the seeker choices aren't hard choices; the punishment is always to weak.

But more to the point, DnD isn't Magic. In Magic, you're trying to beat your opponent.  Bluffs, mindgames, and the withholding of information are all fair game.  But in DnD, I'm trying to work WITH my players to have a fun experience.  If my players started trying to psych me out into making the wrong choice, and I started trying to second guess them and figure out how best to kill them, it would be the Tomb of Horrors all over again.

The creature must move in order to activate that escape clause - what else is it giving up if it takes that option? It may end up drawing OAs, triggering other effects that are active on it, or losing an advantageous position. As others have said, these effects can't be considered in isolation.

Actually, they can.  There are a bajillion different permuations of DnD combat, true. And each time the monster is hit with Guardian Harrier, it (read: the DM) will take into account positioning, attacks of opportunity, and other factors. But in the end, it's choice boils down to a simple, abstract decision. It will decide, "Would I rather take 3 extra damage, or would I rather move?"

In the first case, when the creature would rather take three extra damage than move, it stays put. Maybe it made this decision because its adjacent to a fighter; perhaps it is dazed, but wants to attack rather than run. It takes its turn and sucks up 3 extra damage.  On the monster is hit for a die plus two stats--exactly the same damage that the Sorcerer would deal with a Chaos Bolt.

In the second case, the creature would rather move than take damage, so it moves. Perhaps this decision is because it has three HP left, and an AoO at least has a chance of missing and leaving it alive; it might prefer moving because it's adjacent to the orb-wielding 8 strength wizards with no OA to speak of.  But again, the specifics are irrelevant. The monster doesn't want to take three extra damage, so it doesn't; Chaos Bolt, however, has no such escape clause! The monster thanks the Seeker for being nice, and enjoys its three HP.

In other words, as long as the creature is behaving rationally, There are two possibilities: 1)Guardian Harrier is Chaos Bolt, or 2) Guardian Harrier is worse than Chaos Bolt.  The only time--the only time--that Guardian Harrier is more useful to the party, is when the monster screws up, and makes the irrational decision.  Now, at some tables this may happen often, because the DM is incompetent or because he likes to play his monsters that way.  But that means you're using monster stupidity to balance powers. And that strikes me as an awful decision from a game-design perspective.
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You're still doing it: comparing Controller at-wills to Striker at-wills. Stop it, it's bad and it's hurting your case. Fact is Seeker powers generally do more damage than other Controller powers and can even peak at Striker levels. That does not make them strikers nor does it make a Striker a better choice for the party slot. Stop comparing to Chaos Bolt.

You look at the lower damage "way out" portion of the power because that's the option you really want the target to take. You're not sitting there hoping they miss the way out, you're hoping that they take the way out because the way out provides action control. You're a Controller.

In other words, as long as the creature is behaving rationally, There are two possibilities: 1)Guardian Harrier is Chaos Bolt, or 2) Guardian Harrier is worse than Chaos Bolt.  The only time--the only time--that Guardian Harrier is more useful to the party, is when the monster screws up, and makes the irrational decision.

No, you have that backwards. You use GH because you want the target to move. Best case scenario you do more damage than any other single-target controller at-will and drive the target to move out of its position of its own volition. Worst case scenario you do Striker damage to it.
The point of powers like this one is to confuse the opponent, really. Some DMs are not competitive multitaskers; others are trying to play the monsters not based on a team strategy, but on individual motivations (hence the Monster Tactics sections in the MM - one of the things that's often nicely done in 4e that was neglected earlier).  Self-interested creatures may run from the harrier. It encourages them to go somewhere else and hit someone else.

To me, the morale and intelligence aspect of an encounter is a nice part of D&D. Certainly the "choice" aspect of controllers is one that's present, and certainly Harrier is not that impressive of a power, but controllers often have "choice" powers. Storm Pillar is a good example of that, too - it's not very useful in some cases.

The comparison that should be drawn is, btw, to Acid Orb, which is a RBA and has no other effect. And yes, Guardian Harrier is not as good as Acid Orb in its effect on the target in the hands of a sorcerer; there is something nice about it, though, and that's that it does the most damage of any Seeker RBA, situationally, and Seekers make use of RBAs through their class feature (Inevitable Shot) and have feats to further improve RBAs (Primal Eye).

It's weaker in a strictly rational sense, but we can't even then say that Harrier is useless, because a Seeker simply doesn't generally have the option of dealing the same damage as a striker. Dual Strike is currently very substantially inferior to Twin Strike - but it's still a useful power for a fighter who wants to deal more damage and dabble in a more striker-like role.
The notorious tjhairball of legend and lore.

You mean DMs who are playing monster chess, instead? Monsters will almost never choose to be hit, if they are making choices the creature would actually make instead of being treated like pawns in chess.

The monsters you describe would flee from combat at the first hit every time; there would be no DnD because every fight would be over round one. Well, unless your evil PCs were tracking down, cornering, and murdering their opposition.



To be clear, I'm talking about creatures that aim both to survive and win.
In other words, as long as the creature is behaving rationally, There are two possibilities: 1)Guardian Harrier is Chaos Bolt, or 2) Guardian Harrier is worse than Chaos Bolt.  The only time--the only time--that Guardian Harrier is more useful to the party, is when the monster screws up, and makes the irrational decision.


Why do you assume that there is always a good choice to make?

Let's say I give you two choices, take the blue pill or the red pill.

If you take the blue pill, your feet grow.  If you take the red pill, your feet shrink.  Ah-ha!  You say.  I will make the choice that is best for me, the rational choice, so that the decision is never as powerful as ramming a pill of choice down my throat!

But when you take the blue pill, I throw down tacks all over the floor so that you hurt yourself with your big feet.  If you had taken the red pill, I would have thrown oil so that it was all slippery and you couldn't stand up.  In either case, I make that choice you made the wrong one; even if you decided that the blue pill would be easier to handle, I react to your choice by turning it to my advantage.

Ergo, Guardian Harrier's ability isn't just a bit of damage.  It's the choice that the Seeker can turn into tactics; disrupting an enemy by either forcing him out of position or pushing him closer to death, both of which are reasonable options.  And in response to the choice the monster makes, the Seeker can turn the tables, focusing fire to finish off a monster that ate the damage or exploiting the opening the fleeing creature leaves to gain tactical positioning.

Evaluating the powers in a vacuum is a mistake because you ignore the possibility of the player's acting upon the monster's choice.  A lose-lose situation works by making either choice a loss; when a monster makes a "rational" choice, you punish it for them by exploiting their tactics and turning that choice against them.

A simple damage power will never make the monster move.  Guardian Harrier sometimes can, and that ability OR the extra damage can be turned to your advantage.
Well the OP's claim that half the powers rely on this mechanic is way off.  While there are a few like this, there aren't enough that you can't simply take others, and for a controller the damage is fairly enviable.  No, the real problem behind the seeker class is you need to look at the constipated guy doing a river dance while thrashing about with a pair of tomahawks covered in radioactive 6-legged spiders every time you look in the book.

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

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Meh, there are a few problems with the OP's argument.

1) The fact that his M:tG example demonstrates that SOME instances of giving an enemy a choice are bad can't be generalized to ALL instances of giving an enemy a choice are bad. Unless some general rule of logic is invoked the argument has not been made and the conclusion is not proven, thus the argument is flawed.

All right, general logic (in spoiler text since it will be long)

Show
Assume that powers A, B, and C are all identical except that A imposes condition X, B imposes condition Y, and C allows a monster to choose between condition X or Y.

Assume that conditions X and Y are distinct, and that neither is strictly better or worse than the other--that is to say, in some cases a monster will be hindered more by X than by Y, and in other cases the monster will be hindered more by Y than by X.

Assume that monster Q is fully aware of the conditions of the battle, and makes rational decisions to maximize his chances of winning.

There are three possible cases in which Q can find himself.

Scenario 1:  X and Y are equally detrimental to Q.
Result:  Obviously, all three powers are equally detrimental to Q.
A = B
A = C
B = C

Scenario 2:  X is more detrimental to Q.
Result:  A deals X to Q.  B deals Y to Q.  Q chooses to have C deal Y to Q.
A > B
A > C
B = C

Scenario 3:  Y is more detrimental to Q.
Result:  A deals X to Q. B deals Y to Q.  Q chooses to have C deal X.
A < B
A = C
B > C

Thus, in all circumstances where Q has knowledge and rationality, A is either equivalent to C or better than C.  In all circumstances where Q has knowledge and rationality, B is either equivalent to C or better than C.  Thus, we can generalize that powers that offer a meaningful choice to opponents must, by necessity, be worse than a power that forces either of the two choices on that opponent, unless that opponent behaves against its best interest through ignorance or irrationality.


You're still doing it: comparing Controller at-wills to Striker at-wills. Stop it, it's bad and it's hurting your case. Fact is Seeker powers generally do more damage than other Controller powers and can even peak at Striker levels. That does not make them strikers nor does it make a Striker a better choice for the party slot. Stop comparing to Chaos Bolt.


I probably spent to much time on GH, but I'm really trying to make a general point about the class.  Certainly, if a seeker decides it wants psuedo-striker damage, taking GH as a secondary at will isn't terrible.  But my point is that a cursory scan showed about 10 powers that fall under this same umbrella of "mathematically worse than being a striker," and I wasn't looking too hard.  It's easy for an inexperienced seeker player to have EVERY power he picks at heroic tier be a punish-with-damage power; and THAT player will find himself with a strictly inferior ranger, even if a skilled player could select powers that would let the Seeker be a controller. 

To be clear, I'm talking about creatures that aim both to survive and win.

You seemed to be discussing creatures giving up tactical positioning and OAs to avoid 3-8 damage depending on tier. That doesn't sound like a plan to survive or to win.  But in any event, see my formal logic above.

Edit: And lest people think I be picking on the Seeker, as I said in my OP, the seeker is simply the worst offender.  Powers that offer enemies lose-lose situations are a really cool mechanic, one that presents an interesting decision point for PCs and DMS alike.  Unfortunately, with a few exceptions (Storm Pillar, the post-errata Blood Mage), those lose-lose powers are designed in a way that makes them slightly-to-entirely worse than comparable options that don't give monsters an option.
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One word: Greatbow.

This single weapon (and the feat to acquire it) needs to be remembered when evaluating with seeker powers.  Suddenly, every seeker power is doing d12 base damage with no attack penalty out to range 25.  And for a -2, you can go out to range 50, not that you're likely to ever need that.

Currently, the compendium lists only 3 level 1 at-will ranged 20 powers (acid orb, magic missile, mantle of the infidel), and none of them do anything like d12 damage.  Acid orb is 1d10 + striker bonus, magic missile is 2d4, and mantle of the infidel is 1d6 plus rider against marked targets.  Every seeker at-will is potentially d12 at range 25/50 (or a "mere" d10 range 20/40 with a longbow) with a rider, and half of them work as RBAs.  The only at-wills that even approach the seeker for effect at range are ranger powers (duh) and a couple of bard and warlord powers, and for the ranger to get striker bonus damage he/she needs to get close at least once.

In practice, ranged 15 is usually 'can attack anyone within LoE', but most ranged at-will powers cut off at 10 or even 5.  Even encounter and daily ranged/area powers often stop at range 10.

This doesn't necessarily negate what has been said about choice, but it's important to remember that seeker is long-range artillery.  When evaluating seeker powers, assume that W=d12, and that any foe who doesn't have a range 15+ attack has a long trek to even threaten the seeker.
Brash Assault is an awesome power.

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Ergo, Guardian Harrier's ability isn't just a bit of damage.  It's the choice that the Seeker can turn into tactics; disrupting an enemy by either forcing him out of position or pushing him closer to death, both of which are reasonable options.  And in response to the choice the monster makes, the Seeker can turn the tables, focusing fire to finish off a monster that ate the damage or exploiting the opening the fleeing creature leaves to gain tactical positioning.



Causing an incentivized decision is a fine mechanic in competitive multiplayer games with complex interactions, but not really particularly "useful" for D&D.  Anyway, must of these decisions aren't incentivized in meaningfully: the monster could completly ignore the incentives and it wouldn't suffer unduely because the "punishment" is no greater then another character's attack where they had no choice.

Thus the monster that always "choses" to take the extra damage from Guardian Harrier isn't any worse off then the monster who gets nailed by Acid Orb repeatedly. But sometimes, due in no way to the "incentive" Guardian Harrier created for him might move and avoid the damage for other reasons in which case it was strictly worse.

Any "tactical situation" you can cause with one of these powers, you can cause with a power without a choice and do it better, as you can actually use foresight to maximize the impact due to the fact you actually know what will happen instead of having to the monster deciding to pick the option which you have to least ability to capitalize on.

The question, though, with regards to the Seeker in particular, is whether the situational advantage of having these somewhat out of roll out of their usual role is worth them being weaker then they would be on a character of the proper role.  I generally think they are thanks to the greatbow, and definately at paragon tier when a certain pair of feats and paragon path gives them a significant power boost and makes them worth considering (but at this point, they really are striker powers and not just cheap knock-offs!).  Any they aren't ranged basic attacks don't seem worthwhile, though.

It isn't the choice that makes them good, its what weakens them enough that they are acceptable.
Heavy Rocks

Your formal logic is flawed because it's based entirely around equal gain/loss and doesn't provide for options on the part of the Player. Just as well as the DM can read the situation for the "rational" choice the Player can read the situation for which of their options will provide the fewest ways out. Ideally I want my secondary effect, the "way out" as you call it, to be my desired effect. Failing that I do a mere substantive amount of extra damage.

You need to take your logic and cross for Desired Results.

If the target doesn't move then I'm at least as good as a Sorcerer. If the target does move then I'm better because the Sorcerer could have never incentivized the move.

But seriously, please start comparing to other Controllers, not Strikers. Demonstrate a failure to control or something, not just an inability to love up to full time striker damage. 


Causing an incentivized decision is a fine mechanic in competitive multiplayer games with complex interactions, but not really particularly "useful" for D&D.  Anyway, must of these decisions aren't incentivized in meaningfully: the monster could completly ignore the incentives and it wouldn't suffer unduely because the "punishment" is no greater then another character's attack where they had no choice.


Except in the context of PvE it is a competitive (PCs v. Opponents) multiplayer game with complex interactions.
Except in the context of PvE it is a competitive (PCs v. Opponents) multiplayer game with complex interactions.



"Competitive multiplayer" implies more then 2 sides.  Sorry if that wasn't clear.  Incentivized decisions in two-sided conflicts are simply "what hurts more" which is the exact same situation as unincentized decisions ("how do I hurt them most").  In conflicts with 3 or more sides, incentized decisions can create and destroy self-interested emergent alliances, which is an extremely entertaining mechanic simply can't occur in 2 sided conflicts.

Further, as I explained, the "incentives" created generally do not cause complex interactions.  If one choice creates a situation no worse then what the creature normally wouldn't have any say in, its not particularly meaningful or complex.
Heavy Rocks

Your formal logic is flawed because it's based entirely around equal gain/loss and doesn't provide for options on the part of the Player. Just as well as the DM can read the situation for the "rational" choice the Player can read the situation for which of their options will provide the fewest ways out. Ideally I want my secondary effect, the "way out" as you call it, to be my desired effect. Failing that I do a mere substantive amount of extra damage.

You need to take your logic and cross for Desired Results.


The situation you describe is impossible in my formal logic framework.  The monster is perfectly informed and rational--thus, if the best outcome for YOU is for it to move, it knows that the best outcome for IT is to stay put, and it will choose to do so 100%.  The situation you're describing, where you want the monster to move and it does, only comes up if a) the monster is mistaken about its best choice, b) you're mistaken about your best outcome or c) somehow, you and the monster are after the same goal (maybe he's a goblin mook and you both want the chieftain dead?).

Admittedly, the monster may not perfectly understand the situation or behave perfectly rationally.  But at risk of repeating myself, "maybe monster will screw up" is not an excuse for mathematically poor design.

If the target doesn't move then I'm at least as good as a Sorcerer. If the target does move then I'm better because the Sorcerer could have never incentivized the move.

But seriously, please start comparing to other Controllers, not Strikers. Demonstrate a failure to control or something, not just an inability to love up to full time striker damage. 

You're missing my point.  Comparing Seekers to Strikers is entirely appropriate, based on my logic above. As I believe I've proved (I'm not convinced by your counter-argument), an opponent's choice of two options is always worse than either of those options individually. Thus, for a Seeker who chooses a series of powers in which one of the options is "Worse damage than a Sorcerer," it doesn't matter how controlling the other choice is when monsters make it--such Seekers are mechanically, mathematically, worse than Sorcerers!

Note that Seekers have powers that are true controller powers.  Grasping Spirits, for instance, is an amazing power that debuffs the enemy.  And while it's clearly 'worse' than Twin Strike (EVERYTHING is worse than twin strike) it is not, in a gamist sense,  'strictly' worse, because it does something fundamentally different than Twin Strike.  OAs can outdamage a twin-strike attack, and can carry a bunch of other debuffs from one's allies, so there are easily conceivable circumstances where GS will deal more damage or cause more trouble to a monster than Twin Strike will.  There are NO conceivable circumstances where it is worse for a rational, informed monster to be hit by a Guardian Harrier than a Twin Strike, because Twin Strike will ALWAYS outdamage GH regardless of the monsters choice.  

But my point isn't that Guardian Harrier is bad (in fact, I'd probably take it as my third human at-will for lack of better options).  My point is that there is a build of Seeker that creates the illusion of control, but in fact offers none because the enemy can always choose to ignore that control at the cost of too little damage.  That build is the most noticeable example of an endemic misunderstanding of game design, illustrated in the Seeker, Warlord, and Invoker.  And that misunderstanding, not Guardian Harrier or even the entire Seeker, is the true thesis of this thread.

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