This Party is Off the Hook! A Miniguide to Party Optimization

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This Party is Off the Hook!
A Miniguide To Party Optimization



eberron_adventure_party_200x238shkl.jpg

4E is a team game.  You can create characters in a vacuum if you want, but the most effective characters are those in parties are here the characters are created to work in a group and to complement each other.

One of the most common questions I see on these boards is what character should I add to my party.  I love those threads and this guide is a place to discuss how to improve parties as a whole and if you have a question about what character you should add to your party, this is the place to ask.  Please contribute any strategy suggestions in the comments an politely argue away about what you think is more important to a party.

This guide will discuss the basics: The importance of Roles, how to fill in gaps, skills, range vs. melee, character synergies, party size, and any thing else people think is important enough to include.

Posts:
Intro
Roles
Range vs. Melee
Synergies
Skills

Party Size
Other

Roles


Which is most important and why?

The general charop consensus seems to be that the two most important roles are leader and striker, with defender coming in a respectable third and controller last.  Others put defenders in front of strikers and some put leader as second.  There is no where near universal agreement about this and many would put defender above striker and a few would put leader as second.  My view is Leader > Striker > Defender > Controller, but with many caveats.  I would rather have a second striker, defender, or 1st controller in a party before a second leader in a party of five most of the time, but still think leader is the role I would least want to go without in a party of 3 or more. 

And with controller more than any other role it depends on the player and build.  In my own experience I have seen very effective controllers that were a major asset to the party and ones that barely contributed.

What does each role bring to the table?

Defenders
All defenders can mark and should be able to punish enemies for ignoring the mark or for trying to move away from them.  They should also be tough: able to take attacks through good defenses, high hitpoints and surges and also be able to shrug off conditions

Strikers
Mobility and damage.  Also many strikers have ways of protecting themselves (but not allies) from enemies.  Strikers also tend to be a bit sneakier than the other classes and often make good scouts.

Leaders
Leaders should be able to add healing, ally buffing/enemy debuffing, enabling extra movement and attacks, and grant saves/remove conditions.

Controllers
The hardest roll to define and thought by many to be the least important of the 4 roles.  A good controller can still add a lot to a party: minion clearing and mutitarget damage, terrain modification, forced movement, action denial, and status effects.  Usually larger parties benefit more from a controller since there are often more enemies thrown at the party at the same time, which is where many controllers shine since more targets gives you more scope for delaying some enemies from engaging, more opportunity for effective AoE damage, and better options for AoE placement.
 

Minoring in a role


Many classes have strong minors in other roles: Paladins can heal with lay on hands, making them like leaders; warlocks have debuffing making them like controllers; some wizards boost their DPR enough to minor in striker; bear shamans can use their spirit to mark their enemies and punish them for moving away.  The majority of the time they do not do this as well the primary class, but putting in one or two well built minoring characters can go a long way to making up for a party gap. 

Who minors in what role:

This is a list of the general ways that different builds have minors.  I am more than willing to improve on the definition of minoring but for now:  Defender means marking and/or being tough on the front line.  Striker means high DPR for your role.  Leader means ally healing, status removal, action granting, or buffing.  Minoring in controller means lots of AoE, inflicting status effects, or forced movement. 
 
Minors in Defender

Strikers:
Rageblood Barbarian
Pursuit Avenger
Iron Arms Monk

Leaders:
Battle Cleric
Bear Shaman
Most Warlords
Wrathful Runepriest
Valor Bard
Enlightened Ardent

Controllers:
Swarm Druid (Depends on AC and HAE)
Staff Wizards
Protecting Seeker


Minors in Striker

Defenders
2-h Fighter
Ardent Paladin
Assault Swordmage

Leaders
Stalker Shaman
Euphoric Ardent

Controllers
Blaster Wizard
Predator Druid
Wrathful Invoker
Vengeful Seeker

Minors in Leader

Defenders
Virtue Paladin
Lay on Hands Paladin
Lifeblood Warden

Strikers
Thaneborn Barbarian

Controllers
Preserving Invoker


Minors in Controller


Defenders

Most Polearm Builds for defenders
Shield Fighter
Earthstrength Wardens
Stormheart Wardens
Ensaring Swordmage

Strikers
Warlocks
Sorcerers
Monks
Thunderborn Barbarian

Leaders
Bards (especially prescient and cunning)
WorldSpeaker Shaman
Laser Cleric
Pacifist Cleric
Defiant Runepriest

Other ways to minor in a role


Mulitclassing: Almost any character can multiclass to get a class feature of another class.  Powers swap feats can add to any area your character is lacking.  

Paragon paths: both from your own class and other classes can emphasize another role.  If you really need to minor in something, thid route can be one of the more effective choices, but be careful since the trend recently is to make it hard for members of a different class to get the full benefit of another classes paragon paths.

Hybrid: There is too much about hybrids to go into here, but hyrbids allow you to do two roles at once.  Usually you will not do either role as well as someone devoted to just one of the roles, but it is an option.

Items: Again, there are many items out there that will help supplement you in areas which are not your primary role


What to do for a party missing a role



Muliclassing and power swaps are good for many of these cases.  This does not always work and in some cases a role feature is built into a class like the fighter marking enemies he attacks, but there are many times where mutlicassing can give you part of role, such as picking up the paladin or warden marks once an encounter or a daily heal power from a leader.  The first parts below are from Tiornys, with the "my advice" parts following.

Missing a Defender


defender
A party missing a defender has fewer overall resources and reduced ability to control melee combat. They are more vulnerable to focused fire and lockdown of ranged characters.

Desired encounter resources:
1-2 ways to allow self/an ally to escape undesired melee
1-2 strong defensive buffs, including resistances, bonuses to defenses, and temp HPs

Tactical considerations: use formations to make it costly for the enemies to all engage a single target, especially one that the enemies have been focusing on. Primarily ranged characters should invest in a decent melee option or place an even higher priority on being able to escape melee or avoid OA's when making ranged/area attacks.

My Advice: Up the other characters ability to take and avoid hits.  Try to rotate who takes the hits between encounters if possible.  Use summons or pets when possible to create some sort of front line.  You can also use characters that do need defending and these fall into two general categories: porcupines (generally strikers who punish enemies for attacking/approaching them) and high defense characters (also usually strikers).  Examples of porcupines are riposete strike using brutal scoundrel rpgues or infernal locks using hellish rebuke.  Examples of high defense charcters are defensive focused monks or pursuit avengers.


Missing a Striker



striker

A party missing a striker has a harder time dealing with high priority targets, especially those protected by terrain and/or front line creatures. They are more vulnerable to high powered artillery and controllers.

Desired encounter resources:
1-2 high damage single target powers per party member
Half of the party either strong at range or having ability to bypass obstacles to get to protected targets

Tactical considerations: focusing fire becomes more important with the party's damage output more evenly spread across its members. Strong control from controllers or sticky defenders can enable 1-2 party members to lock down part of the enemy while the rest of the party focuses on a convenient target.

My advice: Up your DPR.  Almost any class can do this, but for classes like two hand talent fighters, ardent paladins, predator druids, blaster wizards etc you can get your damage to be close enough to that of a striker to pass as one.  For leaders you also need to be concentrating on upping the damage of your party members most of the time through granting extra attacks to your fellow PCs, helping those attacks to hit, and increasing the damage of the attacks that do hit.


Missing a Leader



leader
A party missing a leader has access to fewer resources in combat, and has a harder time recovering from adversity. They are more vulnerable to ambushes, losing initiative, and controllers.

Desired encounter resources:
1-2 ways to access surges without using a standard action on second wind
Multiple ways to gain action advantage on the enemy

Tactical considerations: avoidance of reckless tactics becomes more important in a party with fewer ways to help a character who gets in trouble. However, the party can't play too defensively or their resources will be overwhelmed. Focus on dropping the enemy as quickly as possible without taking undue risks. Investment in initiative and anti-ambush skills is even more important than normal.

My Advice: The most obvious thing you need to replace is the midcombat healing.  This can be done through some classes that minor in leader like life spirit wardens and lay on hands paladins.  You can pick up multiclass 1/day heals through all of the leader feats except shaman, which lets you get 1/encounter heal while costing 2 feats.  Many leader powers heal as well so this is a case where power swapping feats might be worth it.  Several skill powers can also provide some healing.  Don't forget that any character can use second wind and many characters can generate enough temporary hitpoints to reduce their need for healing.  Item healing is another way, with potions being the most readily available way to heal.  There are a few other ones out there like a healing weapon and river of life gloves that as daily powers let allies heal.

The other part of this role is the save granting, ally buffing/enemydebuffing, and party enabling and those are a bit harder to replace.  For divine characters a number of channel divinity feats replicate leader effects like buffing/debuffing and healing.  There are a number of  items like the steadfast ammulet and holy symbol of hope that either grant extra saves or grant bonuses to saves.  A few classes can boost ally attacks through their powers like barbarians.


Missing a Controller



controller
A party missing a controller has a harder time dealing with situations where they are outnumbered. They are more vulnerable to horde tactics, enemy leaders, and well coordinated enemy forces.

Desired encounter resources:
1-2 AoE powers
Some form of efficient minion clearing, possibly including 1-2 extra AoE powers
1-2 single target lockdown/debuff powers

Tactical considerations: without a character dedicated to disrupting the enemy plan, pay more attention to cleanly executing a plan based on the party's strengths. A striker heavy party should concentrate their fire, a leader heavy party should try to synergize buffs/debuffs, and a defender heavy party should keep multiple enemies occupied.

My Advice: The good thing about controller is that many classes already provide some control, both through multitarget attacks and through debuffing attacks.  Getting a character like a centerred breath monk, polearm fighter, or lazer cleric to have a strong minor in controller is very easy.  Right now many controllers have very good dailiy attacks and pick up their control more from powers than through class features so poaching a daily or hybridding works better for controllers than for the other four roles most of the time.

Range vs. Melee




What is the proper ratio?


You need melee characters to build a front line in most parties.  You also need ranged characters to take care of flying enemies and enemies that are otherwise at a distance you can't reach through melee.  The general consensus seems to be that you need to be at about 3 Melee for every 2 Ranged, with one of those being far ranged (10+).  If you do not have a party of 5 or ten that exact ratio is hard to hit exactly.  There are also exceptions to this and one of the most effective parties I have heard of was of a group of bow rangers who all MC shaman to make the spirit companions work as the front line.

What builds can do both?


These classes all have fairly common builds that can fight fairly well both at range and melee.  You can always hand a melee character a javelin, but that sort of build would not count unless you went for a more specific spear/shield build that was actually effective at range.
both

Defenders
Charisma Paladins
Spear/shield fighters

Strikers
Warlocks
Avengers
Str/Dex Rangers
Dragon Sorcerers
Dagger Rogues

Leaders
Shamans (spirit for melee, shaman for ranged)
Balanced Clerics
Bards
Ranged Warlords
Artificers

Controllers
Staff Wizards/WoST
Druids
Protector Seeker


Making a front line


Almost all parties need some sort of front line to help protect the squishier back line party members.  Usually this is made up of at least one defender and at least one other characters that can hold their own at least some of the time.  Most often these are the builds mentioned above that minor in defender like battle cleric and rageblood barbarian, but also includes summoner classes like the shaman, artificer, invoker, and wizard who can either always or often put summons on the front line in their place.

Synergies


Who plays well together




Powers that work well together:


Sample Synergized Teams


Optimized Part Core.  This thread has examples of many three PC teams that all work well together.

Here are some examples of teams that other people have put together that work well:

team synergies

Team Jedi (exploits radiant damage)

Skills


Which skills are most important?


You want to have all of the skills covered if possible, but some skills are more valuable than others.  Some are also better to have combined in one character such as:
Scouting/exploring: stealth/thievery/perception/athletics (need dex/wis/str)
Social Skills: bluff/diplomacy/insight/intimidate/streetwise  (need cha/wis)
Ritual Casting: arcana/nature/religion/heal (need int/wis)

1st Tier: At least one person in party needs this.  For perception especially it is good for as many characters as possible to have it.
Perception
Insight
Stealth
Thievery
Heal

2nd Tier:
It is good for at least one character to have these.  These are particularly important for social skills and rituals, so one PC can usually specialize in these.
Arcana
Religion
Nature
Athletics
Bluff
Diplomacy
Intimidate

3rd Tier:
Useful for individuals, but not party essentials.
History
Dungeoneering
Acrobatics
Endurance
streetwise

Ways to replace skills


A few skills can be replaced by using feats.  The feat Dungeon Experience lets you use dungeoneering skill for lock and traps, which means any high wisdom character with the dungeoneering skill can make up for lake of dex focused character.

Ritual Casting


Someone in your party probably needs this, either by default or by spending a feat for it.  Not everyone thinks this is that valuable and you can always buy scrolls, but it is better to have this just in case.  Here are the classes that get it for free: Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Invoker, Psion, Wizard.

Party Size


What is the ideal party size?



4E is designed around having 5 characters in a party.  Other sizes work fine, and most people on this discussion board have had good experiences with parties from 3-6 characters in size.  Less than 3 tends to be a bit tricky since unless you hybrid you are missing full members of two roles.  More than 6 tends to bog down some.  It is easier to make sure your get each role, skill, etc. filled, but solo leaders and defenders can get stretched a bit thin.  The following is general advice for each party size.

What to do if I have 2 members?



2 PCs

This is one of the hardest ones to answer, but poster sanityfaerie gave some good advice in this thread about two character parties:

"- First, to consider ranged/melee
  - Really, everyone needs to be able to function in either here.  You will find yourself in cases where range damage is the only thing that matters (when the enemy controller that is making the rest of the fight miserable is flying, for example), and in those cases, you don't really have enough people for anyone to sit it out.  You will find yourself in cases where you are swarmed, and in those cases, everyone had better be prepared to function at least reasonably well in hand-to-hand.  There are caveats - if you have a ranged-heavy striker, then you might be able to get away with having your second character be pure melee - but being able to function in both is pretty valuable

- Second, let's look at roles.
  - Leader: You'll want some.  You don't necessarily need a full one.  Things like having one or both party members as dwarves, having a paladin, and/or 2-feat MCing to shaman for the healing spirit can cover you here reasonably well.  The healing here is critical, because you can't afford to let either character drop.  At the same time, the buffing is often less valuable, because you don't have as many fellow PCs to buff.  A two-player party is no place for a lazy warlord.
  - Defender: There's really two ways to go here.  You can go true defender/squishy, but it's probably not worth it.  The guy in the back will be too fragile, and the guy in the front will have to spend more build range than it's worth to get enough stickiness.  The other option, and by far the more sane here, is to go with a pair of characters, both of whom are relatively durable.  If you're going ranged/melee pair (where one character intends to spend most of their time in melee, and the other intends to spend most of their time in the back ranks) then clearly the guy in front should be investing *somewhat* more heavily in durability, but it's still the case that he won't be as sticky as a defender - the party doesn't have enough resources overall to make it worthwhile to have him as sticky as a defender - so more folks will get past, and your other character needs to be able to handle that.
  - Striker: damage is good.  Damage is always good.  More damage is better.  In this party, you cannot afford to have anyone who isn't at least reasonably good at dealing damage, and the more striker you can fit in, the better.
  - Controller: Special case here.  Ignore the controller role.  Instead, thing about controller effects.  At a basic level, don't pay for effects that you can't use.  If you're stacking forced movement, you should know what you intend to do with it.  If you're stacking dazes, you should know why.  The controller role is one of those things that you get as much as you pay for, so make sure that you only pay for things that will help you.

- Third, take synergy.
You're going to have one other PC to work with, and if one of you goes down and doesn't come back up almost immediately, you've probably both lost already.  Working out two-player synergies can be a really good thing for you.  Things like this involve...
- Prone, daze, prone-exploitation, and CA-exploitation: A relatively simple set that's really quite difficult to put together all in one character, but becomes significantly easier with two.  Prone+daze is an excellent way to take an enemy out of the fight, prone+prone-exploit can reap some serious damage rewards, prone or daze alone with some forced movement can limit the enemy's choices pretty significantly, and both prone and daze grant CA (in addition to making it easier to maneuver for flanking).
- Vuln and vuln-exploitation: frostcombo, radiant mafia, and even necrotic via blightbeast: Often even better in a full-party setting, but work just fine with two-player

- Fourth, special considerations.
There are things to bear in mind as a limited-size party....
- Radiant damage.  It would be really very helpful if you could manage at least one PC with at-will access to radiant damage, just because of all fo the undead that are so much less pleasant when you have to go without.  At the same time, being completely beholden to any one damage type is both very easy for a two-person party trying to work the synergies and potentially lethal.
- CA: flanking is a lot harder to come by when there's only one other person in the party.  Rogues are still playable, but they'll need to have a plan from level 1 on how they're going to get their CA
- Attack-granting: becomes a lot less useful when you only have one other person to grant attacks to.
- Charging: you cannot charge if the enemies are all adjacent to you, and that's a lot more likely in a party of 2

Fifth, skills - if yours is a campaign that will care about skills at all.
- You'll probably want wisdom.
- You'll probably want charisma.
- You'll probably want intelligence
- You may want dex
Of course, this doesn't mesh well with reality - particularly since you'll likely want a fair bit of con as well."



What to do if I have 3 members?


3 PCs


You will not be able to cover all 4 roles all the way for sure.  So you are going to need to have someone at least minor in whatever role or roles you are missing.  If you have to go without one role, controller is probably the best to drop since they are more useful in larger parties. 

Here is some good advice from Auspex7 in a thread about 3 member parties

Small Parties at the Table:

a) Small parties mean smaller numbers of enemies, because of the encounter budget system. The only way this isn't true is if you're facing a slew of minions.

--Nova and front-loaded offense gains value against smaller numbers of enemies, as you are removing a higher % of incoming damage and control from the grid with each individual monster you kill.

--With fewer targets on the grid, you're generally able to apply Novas and other damage bursts more quickly, as clear paths are more readily available, and the process of identifying key targets (example-- playing the ever-popular, "Whose Aura Is It?!") becomes quicker.

b) With small parties, each individual's offensive output has a higher impact, because it represents a larger % of the party's total offense. Pacifists lose their shine in 3 man parties for this reason. Similarly, high-octane Leaders gain shine for the same reason.

c) with smaller numbers of enemies on the grid, the total drain on a Leader's healing ability is reduced. Simply put, when you're the only Leader in a party of 5, you've got a lot more ground to cover, and your healing has to offset a higher volume of incoming damage (from the increased number of monsters on the grid).

d) with smaller numbers of monsters on the grid, control becomes a bigger consideration. Again, this is a direct reflection of the % of each Team constituted by any one creature.


I don't think anyone will (or could) argue with those points.

Optimization 'needs' for a 3-man party:

a) Defender, Leader, and... offense. You don't want anyone to be lacking in punch, because any one of you could be hit with control effects. Example: Chaladin, Pacifist Cleric, Ranger. If that Ranger gets slapped with a stun, you're not putting out very much damage that turn.

b) an emergency heal, in case the Leader gets blitzed."




What to do if I have 4 members?


What to do if I have 5 members?


What to do if I have 6 members?

What to do if I have 7+ members?

Other 


10 rules of Party Optimzation Full of good advice.

Nice idea. But it's too late to contribute anything...

Minor Striker: Great Weapon Fighter
Minor Controller: Polearm Control Builds (Fighters, Wardens, Paladins,...)

...just a bit...
Pursuit Avengers can Minor in Defender.  That's the only one I feel comfortable calling out.  I assume you'll cover the radiant mafia when you fill out that post.

"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

Yey, finally somebody's writing it !

If you want to define combat roles more precisely... Here's something I wrote down some time ago. IME it fit's the actual table behavior very well (detailed arguments in the OP and down the thread in my answers).
Just a word on Controllers - Minion killing is IMO rather a by-product of their role (plunge the enemy ranks in chaos and therefore naturally try to hit as many mobs as possible / control via threat of damage) than a core part of their role.

Oh, and Battleminds can develop significant potential in Striking or Controlling (rarely even both together).
All Warlords can minor in defender through appropriate power selection, although I think it's generally not as optimal as just being a crazy good buffbot. It does have some nice potential for sticking your enemy in a catch-22 though since the combat-challenge like Warlord powers don't require you to have marked the target.

Which is most important and why?


The general charop consensus seems to be that the two most important roles are leader and striker, with defender coming in a respectable third and controller last.


Is there really any consensus on this? I always seem to read Leader & Defender as the most important. Only consensus I've seen is that Leaders are the most important and Controllers the least. Where Defenders and Strikers fall kind of doesn't matter after that.
Well, you definately want a Leader...
In a two people party, it doesn't really matter if the second one is Striker or Defender - the Striker shouldn't be a glass cannon, and the Defender should know how to hit hard, so it's largely a wash.
While I agree that a Controller is not so essential (largely due poor Role protection), control is something every party should bring to the board to a fair degree.
Since getting a whole party to collaborate on building a party is about as tough as herding cats, I recommend getting 2 players to work on combos and synchronizing together well. I started a post on great 2-character combos and I think the information from there would be useful in this thread. I suck at finding the post, even though I tried, but I think the people commenting on that thread made a lot of useful suggestions.

Which is most important and why?


The general charop consensus seems to be that the two most important roles are leader and striker, with defender coming in a respectable third and controller last.



Is there really any consensus on this? I always seem to read Leader & Defender as the most important. Only consensus I've seen is that Leaders are the most important and Controllers the least. Where Defenders and Strikers fall kind of doesn't matter after that.

I feel like it's more based on what kind of party, but i would consider it being:
1st-Leader
2nd- Striker/Defender
3rd- Controller

This way, for a 3 person party, a controller really isn't needed. Plus, a find it more important for a 3 person party to just in general have a versatile melee character, able to both contribute to damage as well as defense. Also, for a 4 person party, i almost find Controllers aren't even needed until you get to around the 5-6 person party. Having 2 defenders or 2 strikers generally makes combat flow very smoothly, and a controller doesn't necessarily do anything to sway battles one way or another, but rather, just assist with AoE and condition effects. Just my opinion, though
I love Runepriest as a second Leader (minor: Defender) in a party with a ranged Leader who has some save-granting ability. Scale + shield, standard issue, and amazing Str/Wis At-Wills, including Word of Exchange, AND an At-Will Immobilize. Very good all-around package for a frontliner.
There is a case for controlers being the least neaded. BUT...

There has been at least a few damage orientated controler builds (Psion and Blaster Wizards) that some striker classes compair badly too at certen levels. And as soon as Paragon hits they become all the more usefull.

They will probably less usefull that a defender and almost always less needed that a leader but write them out at your peril.



Diabalos
May be you could add "shielded fighters" in minors controllers since through some builds they bring a lot of forced movement and slow/daze condition.
I have added some more examples in the minoring in roles and added some other text.  If you have suggestions please be at least somewhat specific about what builds you are using.   If you say invokers are good leaders, what type are good leaders? All of them?  Just some?

I have very little experience with several classes and I am going to put what I think the consensus is for those.  For instance everyone seems to agree that assault swordmages minor in striker so I am going to put them as a defender minoring in striker since I have never seen that build in play and know little about them.  Everything in PHB3 except monks I am not that familiar with and I do not know martial power 2 builds well.  I also don't know avengers, con focused wardens, invokers, artificers, swordmages, bards, rogues, and strength focused sorcerers that well.

I would love to put in as many as possible, and may a add a section for builds that don't really minor very well.
Nice idea for a handbook!

I would suggest that Strikers actually have three components:

1) Damage
2) Mobility
3) Self-Defense

So, I'd be adding the third one.  If you look at how WotC builds strikers, especially their utilities, there is a heavy focus on powers that protect the striker itself.  This is important on a party-wide level for two reasons:

a) it allows the striker more lee-way to move behind enemy lines to attack vulnerable targets without getting killed
b) it allows the leader to save his/her healing resources for the defender, who should be absorbing the damage

I'm not arguing that the striker should have higher defenses and hp than the defender, but they do tend to have powers that allow themselves to avoid hits, and discourage enemies from attacking them.
Good point.  I have noticed playing leaders almost the opposite.  They have lots of ways to give allies extra movement options and to remove conditions on them.  They are generally pretty bad at moving themselves out of trouble or removing conditions from themselves.  Shamans for instance have lots of ways to grant allies saves, but (I am pretty sure) no ways to grant themselves a save.
Minor Controller
Most Polearm Builds for fighters and wardens



Don't forget the Paladins.

There are even Sword Mage, Avenger and Warlord builds.
I would put down valbards and staff of defense wizards as secondary defenders, but not swarm druids since the HAE nerf.  Also wrathful invoker as secondary striker and preserving invoker as secondary leader.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

We ignored the HAE errata in our group for our swarm druid.  At lower levels at least can they still perform the job decently?  Would you give them a different minor or no minor?
Would a tempest fighter be considered a defender with a minor in striker?  The build sacrifices damage avoidance and mitigation for mobility and damage output.
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
We ignored the HAE errata in our group for our swarm druid.  At lower levels at least can they still perform the job decently?  Would you give them a different minor or no minor?


If I was attempting to make a strong party I would kill the Druid, and have them reroll.

They can do it decently in Heroic, eh in Paragon, and get owned severely at epic.

Also Rogues should have a minor in Controller. Stun/Daze/Blind/etc are super common Rogue abilities, and most of the abilities that do something like that (Dazing Strike, Blinding Barrage, Stunning Strike) are all sky-blue in the Rogue guide.
Other minors

Striker
Crippling Crush Warden

Defender
Pathfinder (LDBs new melee TWF Ranger, beastly)
Minor in Controller: Cunning and Prescient Bards, definitely.
We ignored the HAE errata in our group for our swarm druid.  At lower levels at least can they still perform the job decently?  Would you give them a different minor or no minor?



If I was attempting to make a strong party I would kill the Druid, and have them reroll.

They can do it decently in Heroic, eh in Paragon, and get owned severely at epic.

Also Rogues should have a minor in Controller. Stun/Daze/Blind/etc are super common Rogue abilities, and most of the abilities that do something like that (Dazing Strike, Blinding Barrage, Stunning Strike) are all sky-blue in the Rogue guide.



Six attacks a round say hi. Don't you mean the other way around?
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Minor in Controller: Cunning and Prescient Bards, definitely.


All Bards minor in controller, as many of the best Bard powers have control type effects.  Besides, Bards have the easiest time stealing and using powers from other classes.
Six attacks a round say hi. Don't you mean the other way around?


Even if that were exclusive to Swarm Druids, and assuming you're using the method I'm thinking of it isn't, auto-hit AC is still pathetic for a minor defender. There is a reason the actual Druid guides basically call Swarm unplayable at epic atm. And that is because it sucks. According to the recent round of nerfs and CS rulings, you can get something stellar like a 40 AC as a Swarm Druid. That is hit on a 5+ by an even level monster with no other boosts at 30. So go into beast form, enage in melee, and die. Yeah, no severe ownage goign on there.

Or are you not aware that you can no longer use shields, rhythm blades, or staff fighting in Beast Form, and HAE has been nerfed to a flat +2?

You're welcome to post a current-errata Swarm Druid you think it worth playing at epic. I know at least a few people who have been working on doing that for the last two months. No posted builds yet.

All Bards minor in controller, as many of the best Bard powers have control type effects.  Besides, Bards have the easiest time stealing and using powers from other classes.


Certainly, although most Valorous Bards don't emphasize the Controller secondary quite as much as their Cunning and Prescient counterparts do.

But since they can if they want to, yeah, just add Bards in general to the Controller minor list.
As another example of a team that's already built to work together, I could find the link to my Half-Elf Twin Strike band (4 people use Twin Strike, 1 uses Magic Weapon, all 5 use Radiant Superior Crossbows, no shamans, 2 leaders, 2 strikers, 1 striker/leader, requires encounter level n+6 before becoming particularly challenged).

As a 'minor controller', I'd suggest Rogue, although I'm not sure if a particular build is required.

Incidentally, I have just been challenged; I am seeing tons of hate for Swarm Druids, but I distinctly recall my group having an interesting epic Swarm Druid recently.  

...

Never mind.  That particular druid was level 30, and using the capstone Lorekeeper ability to be awesome.  And it wasn't limited to Swarm Druids.  I'll see if I can't modify it though. 

Updated the range vs melee section.  Are there any common builds that can do both well that I left out?

Is there any sort of consensus on what skills are most valuable to a team?  I am thinking most valuable for a team not for individuals and skill powers where things like history can be valuable.  I am guessing most everyone would agree perception is one of the most important, but what would you all say are the skills by tier? Tier one "must have" two "try hard to get" three "ok, but not essential"

1st Tier:
Perception
Insight
Stealth
Thievery
Heal

2nd Tier  
arcana
religion
nature
athletics
bluff
diplomacy
intimidate

3rd tier
History
Dungeoneering
Acrobatics
Endurance
streetwise

Depending on how you value the Shielding Swordmage's Aegis power, it either minors as a leader (preventing damage is as good as healing technically) or controller (Most of its powers are centered around defensive control).
I'd rate Dungeoneering pretty high as a party combat optimisation skill. That is assuming you frown on asshats spouting off monster stats they've memorised.


Or are you not aware that you can no longer use shields, rhythm blades, or staff fighting in Beast Form, and HAE has been nerfed to a flat +2?



The March update removed the ability to benefit from a shield in beast form, but it didn't stop any of the other ways of gaining a shield bonus from working or keep defensive weapons (as long as they're also implements you can use) from working.  Rhythm blade, TWD, staff fighting, and hafted defense can all be applied in beast form.
There really aren't many classes that can't minor in striker.

Greatweapon and Tempest are obvious, but the rest of the fighter builds aren't far behind.
Any strength paladin, and some charisma paladins with radiant vulnerability exploitation
Any warlord with a striker in his group
Various wizards (tieflings, genesi, summoners, etc)
Druid chargers
Invokers who like cold or radiant
Panther shamans or Eagle shamans with a striker in their group
Earth Wardens (sorry but they beat the pants of the Wild Warden for striking)
Wrathful Runepriest
Assault Swordmage (they are mistakenly labeled as defender)

Cleric and Bard are the two that may be a bit challenged playing part time striker, but there are ways. I skipped some of the classes I haven't seen much in action.
As I said above, I am not that familiar with con wardens, especially on things like comparative DPR.  The main thing going for wildbloods as a striker is the movement, which for a defender is fairly high and i am pretty sure is better than it is for con wardens.  Granted the extra movement is usually towards enemies, but still.
Crippling Crush Wardens, of either Storm of Earth variety, add their con mod to all damage done, basically. So 2d6+str+con+misc mods. At level 1 that is 2d6+8, average hit is 15 average damage. They take a Maw of the Guradian Weapon (+con mod again while in a Form, which 3 encounters/day if you don't get one from your PP and don't factor in ways of recovering forms). You can grab either Mordekrand (Feat investment) or Gauntlets of Destruction to get brutal 1 which ups your average hit by 2 per [w].

Wildbloods do considerably less damage unless they go Son of Mercy, which has its own opportunity costs.
Don't forget that bards get rituals for free.  In fact, there's a good argument that bards make the best ritualists, as they get access to bard-only rituals (and can cast 1/tier/day for free), get all the ritual skills, and get feats like Bardic knowledge to buff them.