Party Optimization Challenge, level 6/16/28

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My group has a guy who wants to try DMing vs a supremely optimized party; as such he's given us a challenge:

The group will have 3 PC's.  They will run through 3 encounters, one at level 6, one at level 16, one at level 28.  All choices from the earlier levels must be kept (or retrained per usual retraining rules) for the higher level characters.  All characters will be getting free feat bonuses to hit, damage and defenses (exact amount dependent on level).  To pretend resources are a problem, the DM will randomly pick 1/3 of all our daily abilities at each level, and declare them to have previously been used.  We'll also only have half of our healing surges available for any given encounter.

Each encounter will pit the characters vs an encounter of level n+5, with a budget used assuming the party is size 5.  Monster levels will never be higher than n+5.  Monsters will be stock monsters, possibly with a level adjustment (but not too much adjustment; no level 6 monsters increased to level 30 for instance.)  The monsters will use all the updated rules on damage and minion numbers.


I would like suggestions on party composition; I'm partial to controller heavy given how badly outnumbered we're likely to be, but one of my compatriots wants to simply go crazy on DPR.  I just don't think we can get enough DPR, that's good at all 3 tiers, to survive this.
I'd like to submit Achilles, because I'd really like to see him tested in such a gauntlet, and he can perform quite well in such an environment. He still has a butload of surges, all his dailys are useful but he doesn't rely on any, he is a full 1-30 build and he is both Defender and Striker.
If you don't select him, I'd suggest some silimar Defender like an appropriate Fighter - or the inverse a Sanction focused Healadin.

The Leader is the most problematic, has a pure Healic and the like won't do - he also needs multiplication and then also some self defense. I'd probably go with either a Bravuralord (Lazy or not) or a Bard, but that's more intuition than fact.

For the last player I'm a bit iffy... I don't really know any Striker that fits the bill of a) nova b) control and c) AoE, so I'd vote either for a second Strike focesed Defender to add durability, or a Blaster Wizard or Invoker, who brings actual control and solid damage, and sets up the main Defender to do the killing.

Two threads of interest for you:
-- recent similar discussion for a 5-man party
-- high synergy Fighter / Invoker combo as above (Leader would need some work)

In any way, I think level 6 is going to be the hardest - L16 has already most relevant features for Paragon open to you, and 28 is all kinds of Epic sillyness that let's turn such encounters on their head.
I'd recommend optimizing for 16 and 28, with a minor effort towards good charge at 6, spam dire boar and vanguard/avalanche weapons for the high DPR.  Charging in heroic is an easy way to get sky high DPR as a template on most builds.  Even if you need to take melee training as one of your 4 sacred feats at level 6 it might be enough to out damage them.
 
DPR King Candidates 3.0
How much damage should I shoot for?
You're fired : 1 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .2 KPR Fair Striker : 2 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .4 KPR Highly Optimized : 3 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .6 KPR Nerfbat please : 4 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .8 KPR It's OVER 9000!!!!!: 5 Kills Per 5 Rounds = 1+ KPR
DPR? KPR? KP4R? Bless you
DPR = Damage Per round ~= Chance to hit * damage on a hit KPR = Kills Per Round. 1 Kill = 8*Level+24 damage = DPR/(8*level+24) KPNR = Kills Per N Rounds. How many standards can you kill in N rounds?
Funny enough that's exactly what Achilles does.
Although that Mounted Combat Charging opt is really really crazy...
Going first and having a team with potent nova potential is important. You're going to be outnumbered by powerful enemies, so your success will hinge on taking out enemies before they get a chance to act.

Auspex's Killswitch is an excellent example of a Leader who enables potent Alpha Striking. Your other two party members need to be fairly mobile, self-reliant, and highly damaging. LDB's Trailblazer is an excellent example of that. You could do some interesting things with the third man. You could go for one of the Ultimate Defenders, or one of the very potent Battlemind builds floating around. I'm partial to Ioun Greystone Marker, although it will have a tough time in that level 6 fight.
As a note, our group house rules that Spark Slippers and the Lighting Fury feature that acts similarly can only occur once per round.

Additionally, we have to pass the level 6 before we can get to the other 2 (this is a pass/fail challenge).  If we fail, then he'll completely redo the encounter and we have to try again.  

I'm not completely sure about a leader's enabling with this.  Due to the sheer number of opponent's, there's a good chance that after the first round, we won't be all that close to each other due to opponent control; and often the first round is slightly too far away to do a true nova on the enemy (unless we go all ranged, but I don't think we'll  have the survivability for that).

The trailblazer is definitely something I'm considering.  I'm not actually as concerned about the alpha nova as I might be, because I can't base it around dailies; and because most alpha nova's simply won't kill 5 elites.  So if I go for a reasonable nova and then high at-will DPR + high survivability, I think we'll get more mileage.
My BM build is rock solid and doesn't use any gray area - the Spark Slippers etc was just for testing theoretical abuse potential.

I agree with that Killswitch isn't good for the job, that's why I didn't mention him. Too few allies on the board, and that nova won't win the encounter.
That's why I mentioned Bravuralord and Bard - both can get some cheap (build wise) initial enabeling to thin the encounter a bit and take out a key target (enemy controller / leader), and then help through the rest with solid healing / control. My tipping goes slightly towards the Bravuralord - make him Battlefront Leader and then add Risky Charge to lockdown even more mobs, so they have to spread fire.

The most of "ultimate" defenders are just mass debuff or single target catch-22, that won't win you a real fight, particularly not this one - and most kick in only by Paragon.
The exceptions are those that I already mentioned - Sanction Paladin (see Litigation's recent build + Power of Sun) or damage focused Fighters (take your pick from LDB's builds or my Iron Curtain).

The Trailblaizer is definately solid, and has the right mix of frontloaded nova, at-will DPR and surviability.
I just think that in such an environment I'd like to have either one full AoE or two Defenders - extra single target damage can be generated easily enough by high damage Defender + Leader. In that regard - see my Fighter + Invoker Combo... solid control, solid AoE and the Preservation Invoker can generate quite many attacks for others to exploit. And at last you want at least one character with range, and preferable one that can knock prone to force fliers down (before you can get your own flight with mounts / potions), and tacking that on a Leader or Ranger is hard...
I suggested Killswitch mostly for Initiative optimization, something you should invest in for everyone. The best way to deal with enemy control is to engage them before they can apply their control.
I agree with that Killswitch isn't good for the job, that's why I didn't mention him. Too few allies on the board, and that nova won't win the encounter.
That's why I mentioned Bravuralord and Bard - both can get some cheap (build wise) initial enabeling to thin the encounter a bit and take out a key target (enemy controller / leader), and then help through the rest with solid healing / control. My tipping goes slightly towards the Bravuralord - make him Battlefront Leader and then add Risky Charge to lockdown even more mobs, so they have to spread fire.



This post is going to be in 2 parts. The first part will be a general conversation about small party group building. The second part is a response to the above segment from Langweille, and a reason why I absolutely do advocate Killswitch or a Taclord for a small party.

Small Party Shop-Talk:

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.


On Killswitch, a response to Langweille

Lang, I want to preface this by saying that I generally give you credit for being a logical and thoughtful guy.

You blew my mind with this post, because you usually make sense. Right now, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, and assuming that you are either tired, distracted, or unfamiliar with Killswitch. If any of the above are the case, hey, it happens. Sometimes we all have those moments, or make those posts.

To be blunt, Killswitch blows a Bravuralord and most Bards out of the water. Badly.

Turn 1:

(minor) Resistive Formula. Thanks to Enhanced Resistive Formula, this sets up a Free action interrupt that throws a big pile of Temp HP on an ally. This is insurance against you or an ally getting burned down during round 1-- and since you're gaining the same number of temps, it also makes you a less desirable target for the DM.

(move) Reorient the Axis. Before team Monster has even gone, your Defender's position is established, and your wingman-- whoever he may be-- is in his comfort zone.

(standard) Direct the Strike, Pincer Maneuver, Insightful Assault, War Master's Assault, or Magic Weapon. Bottom line, you're making a minion check.

(Immediate) Shocking Feedback. As an Interrupt, this means that you get another attack before Team Monster deals any damage.


Now... your allies typically beat Team Monster, as well-- thanks to Combat Leader/Combat Commander-- and get to start their turns where they want to be. Your Defender gets to mark his target(s), and throw down any burst attacks he may have. Your Striker/Controller also gets to attack before Team Monster.


If any testimonials are required, LDB will personally attest to us combining to mark + damage 2 Elites, while also killing 6 minions, before Team Monster ever got a turn. Even worse... both of the Elites were stuck adjacent to LDB's Fighter. Reorient the Axis + Come and Get It before Team Monster got to act = game over. That L16 party destroyed an L20 Enc in less than 3 rounds.

This isn't a rarity. It's what the build is designed to do.


While Killswitch isn't the only Leader who will excell in a party like this, he's absolutely a great grab-- and he'll destroy what even most optimized Leaders will bring to the table.

I'm not saying that the build is absolutely perfect, of course. The heal count is a soft spot, though you can easily drop Tactical Orders to grab Rousing Words to fix that right up. That still leaves you with Reorient the Axis and Slick Concoction...
Thanks for the kind words, Auspex. ;)

I wouldn't say that I'm tired or something, but I have my reasoning (see below).
But granted, I haven't seen Killswitch in play (only all different kinds of Warlords and one Artificer).

My train of thought was as follows:
1) If the party survives the L6 encounter, it survives the rest.
2) By L6 Killswitch hasn't that much going for him, that couldn't be found in other Leader builds, either.
3a) A L+5 encounter for a 3-man party means 7-and-some level equivalent regular mobs on the board. Meaning even after you nuke one or even two (heavily depends on initial postioning) mobs, you will get swarmed and possibly seperated. And Punishing Eye usually just makes the mobs back off.
3b) A Bravelord has much fewer investments to get a quite solid encounter nova going as well (Dragonborn -> +5 dmg from breath, free attack from Presence, +2 att from Martial Cascade, prone from charge for CA / Headman's Chop) - he can dump all the rest in immediates and healing, and with Rousing Words and Improved Inspiring Word heals for Surge+2xCha+2d6 at L6 on his Word - plus two Dailies. Plus as Battlefront Leader he's quite sturdy in melee and can use Risky Charge + Avalanche Hammer + Badge of Berserker to give Artilleries quite a hard time.

I hope that covers the basic idea.
For multi-target DPR, Storm Sorcerer's hard to beat.

What's the GP budget at each level?
Wishlist: -Alternate ability bonuses for pre-PHB3 races -Lots more superior implements or an official customization rule -Monk multiclass feat that grants Unarmed Combatant
Theres one issues I'd like to address herewith limited resoursing. the player should get to choose what daily he doesn't have not the DM as this puts the advantage in the dms favor who already is getting a +5 encounter also pretty much has the oppertunity to say you don't get your best daily Half healing surges for a single encounter though is not really an issue.

My suggestion would be Main Defender could be real good as a revenant build with ivestment in the feats that allow you to continue while dying Warden builds may be able to keep alot of attention on himself, lots of con and keeping the mobs near him Level 16 version and level 28 he will have to litterally kill you not just make you dying (which can be tough to do considering the 60 - 100 hit point buffer that you get to heal for all) to get you out of the fight.  Taclord is probably gonna be your best leader in this situation. And I would go for a AoE striker as it seems your gonna be out numbered.

As the sort of inverse to Auspex7's comments, saving throws will be crucial to a small party, given that any lost actions are 67% more damaging than to a 5-man party's action economy.

I'd probably lean toward some fairly old classics:

Wis-Cha Half-Elf Paladin/Morninglord
Str-Int Eladrin TacLord/Battle Captain
Str-Dex Half-Orc Ranger/Avenger/Stormwarden

In routine encounters, Killswitch probably edges out the Battle Captain, but at this far over party level the fights will grind and the Battle Captain's heal-and-nova routine will almost assuredly be fully tapped each time.

The TacLord stacks an "I attack and my buddy attacks too" power in every encounter slot, then uses Commander's Strike with his radiant Greatspear to trigger the Paladin's Virtuous Strike to ensure radiant vulnerability (Power of the Sun feat swapped out for Morninglord 16 feature later). The Stormwarden uses Sun (level 6) then Radiant Weapons, adding radiant dings via Pervasive Light to his level 11 autodamage, his level 16 autodamage, and each of his multiattacks. He's a rolling infinite mini-nova.

The Ranger needs to forgo a little nova potential to take every immediate interrupt "save my glass keister" utility that he can. The Paladin and TacLord need to take every saving throw add/bonus that isn't filling an absolutely essential slot for something else.

EDIT: The first fight will be the toughest, I agree. The Ranger needs Invigorating Stride and weirdly he should take the Heal skill and Swift Recovery, too. (Because the Paladin MUST take Wrath of the Gods and the Warlord MUST take Reorient the Axis at level 6, respectively.) That gives the heroic party:

2 Inspiring Words
4 Lay on Hands (or 2? Does this county as daily power?)
Ranger Second Wind on move action.
1 other Second Wind on Ranger's minor action.

That may be enough to help them grind it out ...


Good luck.

@Auspex:
Two short sketches of what I had in mind.

B the Bard - Healing / Control focused
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
B the Bard, level 6
Half-Elf, Bard
Eldritch Strike: Eldritch Strike Charisma
Bardic Virtue: Virtue of Valor

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 8, Con 18, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 20.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 8, Con 15, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 17.


AC: 14 Fort: 17 Reflex: 15 Will: 19
HP: 55 Surges: 11 Surge Value: 13

TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +8, Acrobatics +9, Religion +8, Intimidate +13, Bluff +13

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Diplomacy +11, Dungeoneering +4, Endurance +8, Heal +4, History +4, Insight +6, Nature +4, Perception +4, Stealth +5, Streetwise +9, Thievery +5, Athletics +3

FEATS
Bard: Ritual Caster
Level 1: White Lotus Riposte

POWERS
Bard at-will 1: Vicious Mockery
Bard at-will 1: Staggering Note
Dilettante: Eldritch Strike
Bard encounter 1: Shout of Triumph
Bard daily 1: Stirring Shout
Bard utility 2: Agile Recovery
Bard encounter 3: Rhyme of the Blood-Seeking Blade
Bard daily 5: Vigorous Cadence
Bard utility 6: Everybody Move

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Harsh Songblade Dagger +1
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

Mind, I'm no expert at Bards.
Still that guy hands out plenty of healing by powers and tHP, is quite resilient and offers good control from ranged - use him with a melee as 3rd. War Chanter as PP is pure win.
You can also take Blunder and Warsong Strike as other good options. Still some buildspace left here.

W the Warlord - balanced Nova / Healing
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
W the Warlord, level 6
Dragonborn, Warlord
Warlord: Battlefront Leader
Commanding Presence: Bravura Presence
Dragonborn: Dragon Breath
Dragon Breath Key Ability: Dragon Breath Strength
Dragon Breath Damage Type: Dragon Breath Cold

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 20, Con 11, Dex 12, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 18.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 17, Con 11, Dex 12, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 15.


AC: 14 Fort: 19 Reflex: 14 Will: 18
HP: 48 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 12

TRAINED SKILLS
Intimidate +14, Diplomacy +12, Athletics +13, Endurance +8

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +4, Arcana +3, Bluff +7, Dungeoneering +2, Heal +2, History +5, Insight +2, Nature +2, Perception +2, Religion +3, Stealth +4, Streetwise +7, Thievery +4

FEATS
Level 1: Inspiring Breath
Level 2: Armored Warlord
Level 4: Risky Charge

POWERS
Warlord at-will 1: Rousing Assault
Warlord at-will 1: Intuitive Strike
Warlord encounter 1: Vengeance is Mine
Warlord daily 1: Bastion of Defense
Warlord utility 2: Martial Cascade
Warlord encounter 3: No Gambit Is Wasted
Warlord daily 5: Stand the Fallen
Warlord utility 6: Rousing Words

====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======


Speaks for itself - after firing of your nova keep your party healed with all your powers and Rousing Assault.
Either charge an Artillery to keep it locked down (I can see both +2 Longsword and +1 Avalanche Warhammer as good option - keep a Heavy Shield) or work with your ally with Intuitive Strike for +4 to hit with CA. On feat still open - either Weapon Focus for offense (Expertise was free ?!) or Toughness for more personal resilience / Improved Inspiring Word (any way to recycle, btw?) for another +Cha healing with that one. L2 & L6 selection depend on how in particular dailys are rolled.
Afterwards just take any Bravelord you like, for example LDB's quite similar build, and rock till 30.


PS: Yes, I took 17/15/13 pre-racials at L1. Surviving L6 is the key - you can adjust attribute progression for L16/L28 well enough.
Any restriction on setting-specific material?
Wishlist: -Alternate ability bonuses for pre-PHB3 races -Lots more superior implements or an official customization rule -Monk multiclass feat that grants Unarmed Combatant
Thanks for the kind words, Auspex. ;)

I wouldn't say that I'm tired or something, but I have my reasoning (see below).
But granted, I haven't seen Killswitch in play (only all different kinds of Warlords and one Artificer).

My train of thought was as follows:
1) If the party survives the L6 encounter, it survives the rest.
2) By L6 Killswitch hasn't that much going for him, that couldn't be found in other Leader builds, either.
3a) A L+5 encounter for a 3-man party means 7-and-some level equivalent regular mobs on the board. Meaning even after you nuke one or even two (heavily depends on initial postioning) mobs, you will get swarmed and possibly seperated. And Punishing Eye usually just makes the mobs back off.
3b) A Bravelord has much fewer investments to get a quite solid encounter nova going as well (Dragonborn -> +5 dmg from breath, free attack from Presence, +2 att from Martial Cascade, prone from charge for CA / Headman's Chop) - he can dump all the rest in immediates and healing, and with Rousing Words and Improved Inspiring Word heals for Surge+2xCha+2d6 at L6 on his Word - plus two Dailies. Plus as Battlefront Leader he's quite sturdy in melee and can use Risky Charge + Avalanche Hammer + Badge of Berserker to give Artilleries quite a hard time.

I hope that covers the basic idea.



You're quite welcome.

Responding with numbers to keep organized.

1) This may very well be true.

2) That's a pretty fair statement. Of course, no Leader is really separated from others by a substantial margin at L6, and Killswitch has serious separation from many other Leaders by 11th or 12th. I would argue that much of any party's ability to succeed in the L6 challenge will be based on power selection, and dumb luck with dice. L+5 is far harder at this point than it is later on.

3) Yeah, the L+5 budget means a few extra creatures on the board. However, while nuking down 1 or 2 leaves you with 5 or 6 left, not nuking down that 1-2 early targets means worse swarming-- and an overwhelming amount of incoming damage. IMO, the best solution is to bring a multi-marking Defender with some close burst powers, and the ability to cash in on enabling.


At the end of the day, there's one very big thing that we should all acknowledge:

Any determined and experienced DM should be able to crush any 3man L6 party with an L11 encounter budget-- especially with MM3 standard damage. At this point, each player only has 2 Enc powers, 2 Utilities, and a few feats, and the monsters are starting to get some pretty mean powers.

A Level 11 budget = 3,000 xp. Without being creative-- these are all grabs from the 'Human' section of MM2-- here's a sample 3,000xp encounter:

2 x Human Noble (200 each) - 400
3 x Human Hexer (300 each) - 900
1 x Human Pirate Captain (500 each) - 500
2 x Human Knife Fighter (600 each) - 1,200
Quick response:
-- The Bravelord easily facilitates one mob off the board as well in the initial round - maybe two if things to well with the breath and we have a strong multi-attacker.
-- While I agree that a determined DM should crush such party, it's not impossible. Your budget for a 3-man L6+5 is 1.800 XP (3x L11 mob = 3x 600 XP), so it isn't as bad as you make it. ;)

PS: Silly thought... What about a Druid as 3rd ? Good single target lockdown, good damage with Claw Gloves etc, and still some solid ranged control. But I might miss something there, no Druig expert.
Quick response:
-- The Bravelord easily facilitates one mob off the board as well in the initial round - maybe two if things to well with the breath and we have a strong multi-attacker.
-- While I agree that a determined DM should crush such party, it's not impossible. Your budget for a 3-man L6+5 is 1.800 XP (3x L11 mob = 3x 600 XP), so it isn't as bad as you make it. ;)

PS: Silly thought... What about a Druid as 3rd ? Good single target lockdown, good damage with Claw Gloves etc, and still some solid ranged control. But I might miss something there, no Druig expert.



WOOPS!

That "3,000 xp budget" I referred to takes us back to that, "we all make those posts" comment I made earlier.

You're absolutely right, there.

Still, it's not too difficult to pile on some pretty heavy control with that type of budget to work with. The Human Nobles each have a close blast 5 attack that denies a Standard action, and the Hexers can chain stun. Even with an 1,800xp budget, you can bring 2 of each, with 800xp left over for raw damage.

Definitely not as bad as 3,000xp budget, though


Edited to consolidate and amend after back-to-back posts:

Rancid Rogue made a great point about Saves.

I'm not sure about Druids, because my experience with them at the table has been that they seem to go down quickly. Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer = great for locking down a single target, and their damage can be solid for Heroic (Vicious Advantage + Claw Gloves + above combo), but... I'm not sold on them.

As I mentioned in the post I deleted, I think a hybrid Striker|Leader like a Human SorcLord could be great. +1 heal/enc for the L6 run, multi-target hitting (made easier by the small number of allies), strong RBA, able to work at range, etc. Adding Saving Inspiration later means you gain 2 extra Saves per Enc for the cost of 1 feat. Damage output doesn't just stay the same, the SorcLord actually benefits from being able to grab from the Warlord's Immediates (like Powerful Warning), which should even increase his damage output.

I haven't thought that one entirely through, though. Still kind of toying with ideas.
Speaking of that...
Quite some time ago I did some BM testing and ran a 3-man through an absolute gauntlet of encounters: +2.5 -> +3.5 -> +4.5 - at L3 !
They survived that - the last encounter barely, but on the other hand that was L3, it was with the preview version of the BM as Defender, and it was against the pure horror called Giant Ant Hive Queen. And although I DMed vs myself, I (and my players Tongue out) consider myself a pretty vicious DM.
Enjoy the read (warning: long).

PS: Saves are indeed a good point - although I'm not sure how much could or would make room for that at L6. You still can expect a fair number of TEONT-suck-it-up debuffs...
Perhaps a striker|controller focused on immobilizing/slowing would be advantageous for keeping monsters put/dazed.
DPR King Candidates 3.0
How much damage should I shoot for?
You're fired : 1 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .2 KPR Fair Striker : 2 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .4 KPR Highly Optimized : 3 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .6 KPR Nerfbat please : 4 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .8 KPR It's OVER 9000!!!!!: 5 Kills Per 5 Rounds = 1+ KPR
DPR? KPR? KP4R? Bless you
DPR = Damage Per round ~= Chance to hit * damage on a hit KPR = Kills Per Round. 1 Kill = 8*Level+24 damage = DPR/(8*level+24) KPNR = Kills Per N Rounds. How many standards can you kill in N rounds?
Perhaps a striker|controller focused on immobilizing/slowing would be advantageous for keeping monsters put/dazed.



I'd say damage Invoker -> very good control powers and still solid damage, if for nothing else than Hand of Radiance / Divine Bolts.
Or maybe Druid (as mentioned above) -> good single target damage with Claw Gloves and MBA immobilise, and can easily fire off some ranged encounter control powers (they are solid). But not expert there.

I'd leave the single target smoking to the Defender + Leader, because tbh I don't know of any good control + AoE + spike Striker or something that could be hybrided into one, short of a very carefully built and party adjusted Sorc...
My suggestion would be
  1. Stong Multi-Marking character with good defenses, maybe a Wandering Swordmage build

  2. The Puppetmaster, a Lazylord|Bard -- The highest party bonus to Init around

  3. Any decent 2h striker with good survivability (Barb or Avenger)

Has the inescapable fisherman been broken or something? Because that seems ideal for the later encounters and quite passable for the early one, from what I remember of it, anyway.  Pair it with a good leader(Bard with slides to put things back into the pond?) And maybe a half-elf monk with a Twin-Strike/Blurred step Ki focus build(Crashing temptest, Starblade Flurry, Mountian Devotee, ect) To give you some high damage across multple targets and the rest of the feats being pumped into Defence and good damage boosters.
quick 2c:
would it be worthwhile looking at MC Shaman, or hybrid shaman to get a spirit companion on the board for more control/meat shield?

This thread is fun!!!

I find myself unable to come up with anything that satisfies me 100%. What I'm currently sitting on is:

Warden (MC Fighter)/Son of Mercy. As early as Heroic, this guy is able to grab Battle Awareness + Wary Fighter to Op his Init a bit, he has Form of Winter's Herald + Form of Moutain's Thunder, and he's got a great base speed, plus a ton of surges.

Human (Storm) SorcLord/Essence Mage. He's got a lot of survival features-- like Sudden Scales, Fog Form, and the 12U from Essence Mage that makes him insubstantial 1/turn. He's also able to drop some of his burst powers around the Defender without worry. Being Dex secondary helps with Initiative, and being Human means he can grab Blazing Starfall + a good RBA. He also brings 1/Enc Inspiring Word to the L6 run, and has the option of adding Fight On + Saving Inspiration later, if the group feels this is necessary. Small party size means it's easier to safely use burst/blast attacks.

Taclord. Init boost for the group, heavy armor, etc. He can also grant RBAs to the Sorc, among other things.



Human Cleric|Invoker is also a strong option...

gah...

I'll probably wind up mulling this over all night. I love a good Op puzzle.
This thread is fun!!!

I find myself unable to come up with anything that satisfies me 100%. What I'm currently sitting on is:

Warden (MC Fighter)/Son of Mercy. As early as Heroic, this guy is able to grab Battle Awareness + Wary Fighter to Op his Init a bit, he has Form of Winter's Herald + Form of Moutain's Thunder, and he's got a great base speed, plus a ton of surges.

Human (Storm) SorcLord/Essence Mage. He's got a lot of survival features-- like Sudden Scales, Fog Form, and the 12U from Essence Mage that makes him insubstantial 1/turn. He's also able to drop some of his burst powers around the Defender without worry. Being Dex secondary helps with Initiative, and being Human means he can grab Blazing Starfall + a good RBA. He also brings 1/Enc Inspiring Word to the L6 run, and has the option of adding Fight On + Saving Inspiration later, if the group feels this is necessary. Small party size means it's easier to safely use burst/blast attacks.

Taclord. Init boost for the group, heavy armor, etc. He can also grant RBAs to the Sorc, among other things.



Human Cleric|Invoker is also a strong option...

gah...

I'll probably wind up mulling this over all night. I love a good Op puzzle.

I'm liking the challenge too, I'll post some thougths later...

Remeber that as Hybrid you can retrain your class feature later in your career.
If you think of a Sorc(Lord) consider Cosmic - the rider on the zone is strong, and if you add rider + WLR + damage aura together, you can end up with a lot of auto damage.

Alas, no more char building for me today - would love to see Achilles tested, as he fulfills the requirements (sans some minor adjustments) quite well. But now... finishing my GURPS char... Foot in mouth
OK...

Warden/Son of Mercy as above

SorcLord as above (this guy brings Combat Leader for party Init boost)

Deva Spirit Stalker Shaman/Flame of Hope, with Battle Intuition, and Learned Spellcaster for Ritual Casting (to move around party surges, as needed-- among other things).
OMG!

So, you guys rock - I can't really post right now, I just wanted to say, this is amazing.  And hopefully tomorrow I can read more of it/respond properly.

A single note:

That 3000xp post was actually RIGHT.

Remember: 3 man party, but monsters will be built with a 5 man party budget of n+5.  So it WOULD be 3000xp budget for the example used.  Yes.  He is that mean. 
OMG!

So, you guys rock - I can't really post right now, I just wanted to say, this is amazing.  And hopefully tomorrow I can read more of it/respond properly.

A single note:

That 3000xp post was actually RIGHT.

Remember: 3 man party, but monsters will be built with a 5 man party budget of n+5.  So it WOULD be 3000xp budget for the example used.  Yes.  He is that mean. 



Man, that makes me feel better... I had re-read the original post before I commented on the 3,000xp budget...

I felt like a tool thinking I missed on that.
My fault indeed - just didn't read the whole thread again. ;)

@Auspex:
Just curious - what special synergies do you expect out of your combo ?
How in particular will you general enough spike to not fall into a "all mobs fall together in round 10" situation ?
My fault indeed - just didn't read the whole thread again. ;)

@Auspex:
Just curious - what special synergies do you expect out of your combo ?
How in particular will you general enough spike to not fall into a "all mobs fall together in round 10" situation ?



The offense would come from combining overlaying bursts (Sorc + Warden) with the taclord throwing RBAs to the Sorc (Direct the Strike), and the TacLord bringing things like Powerful Warning to provide extra off action attacks.

With the party all being built to have strong Initiative, they should easily gain position advantage most of the time, and should be able to drop multiple targets by the end of round 2.
Ah OK, I was mainly wondering about your Shaman variant.

That sound's reasonable, although I'm still somewhat doubful that a) the Warden generates enough AE, b) you generate enough single target spike on top of those bursts and c) that you manage all those positioning requirements. All your fancy powers come just at L7 - but I might be missing something there.
The best I could see in fact would to run the Sorc on an off-type elemental damage, letting the Defender (Warden or otherwise) gather the mobs and then AE burst (not blast) them, and then let the Sorc nuke on top of the Defender (or use his one "skip the middle" burst), who can manage thanks to a resist of at least 10.
I still think that Cosmics are stronger at low level, if built right, due the big big autodamage potential.
I definitely think a Sorc is a must; simply because AoE + survivability is awesome.  Although I'm partial to the Dragonborn Dragonsorc who specializes in defense.  (And at level 6, one can make such a sorc get 28 DPR with Dragonfrost)

I'm not especially happy with defenders for this, simply because I'm planning on everyone being survivable anyway, so it seems a waste to have a defender; I'd rather have a Barbarian or a Trailblazer, or any other survivable striker instead. 

I kind of want a wizard or invoker as my third; because blastery aoe with lots of control seems very useful.  But this ends up with me not having any leader (although I'm not worried about enabling, as I usually love, simply because it's too likely I'll be losing people - I do need the healing though.  Perhaps all hybrid striker|leaders who specialize in defense?)

So.. Sorc|Bard, Barb|Lord, Wizard|Artificer?


Also, something the DM and I have been tossing around:

Is it possible that the typical n+5 'hard' encounter is simply not right?

We're wondering if their shouldn't be a scaling-by-tier encounter difficulty, as there is with so many other things:

We're looking at:
level 6 vs N+3, level 16 vs N+6, Level 28 vs N+9.

Primary reasons:  The biggest change the extra encounter difficulty will add is extra monsters:  Biggest change there is more hp on team monster, and more damage; their abilities will still be roughly the same.

Ideas? 
Well, if the Sorc is well built and well adjusted to the group, it certain is great - but it IMO can easily backfire if something goes wrong.
Which Sorc... well, we all have our preferences, and you read the arguments - so take your pick.

But I don't think skipping on a Defender is a good thing - just being surviveable means jack if a big bunch of mobs can pile on you.
And a Defender just has that extra durability, that you will never fully match on another char.

I think most everybody agreed on the Defender, Leader, PUNCH trio, with some control added in there, and some differences how to bring enough offense, and then how to still get good control and maybe an off-Leader.
Don't overdo with Hybrids.

And yes, that +3/+6/+9 encounter series sounds much more reasonable IME.

I just don't see a trio optimizing for layered AoE attacks surviving the deluge, myself. I still think the key is focus fire with a heavy secondary in wringing out every healing surge available in the crucial first fight. To flesh out the party that I described earlier at level 6:


The Morninglord Before the Dawn

Githzerai, Paladin level 6


Build: Virtuous Paladin


Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade)


Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Holy Symbol)


Background: Impiltur (Impiltur Benefit)


  


FINAL ABILITY SCORES


Str 10, Con 13, Dex 12, Int 8, Wis 18, Cha 18.


  


STARTING ABILITY SCORES


Str 10, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 8, Wis 15, Cha 17.


 


AC: 26 Fort: 17 Reflex: 19 Will: 20


HP: 63 Surges: 12 Surge Value: 15


 


TRAINED SKILLS
Religion +7, Heal +12, Insight +14, Intimidate +12


  


UNTRAINED SKILLS


Acrobatics +2, Arcana +2, Bluff +7, Diplomacy +7, Dungeoneering +7, Endurance +2, History +2, Nature +7, Perception +7, Stealth, Streetwise +7, Thievery, Athletics +1



FEATS
Level 1: Versatile Expertise


Level 2: Githzerai Weapon Training


Level 4: Power of the Sun


Level 6: Virtuous Recovery


 


POWERS


Lay on Hands: Lay on Hands


Paladin at-will 1: Ardent Strike


Paladin at-will 1: Virtuous Strike


Paladin encounter 1: Valorous Smite


Paladin daily 1: Majestic Halo


Paladin utility 2: Call of Challenge


Paladin encounter 3: Trial of Strength


Paladin daily 5: Name of Might


Paladin utility 6: Wrath of the Gods


 


ITEMS


Dwarven Layered Plate Armor +2, Learning Bastard Sword +1, Amulet of Protection +2, Heavy Shield, Icon of the Silver Flame +1, Madstone (heroic tier)



EDIT: D'oh! I just remembered that Pervasive Light won't work with the Stormwarden's autodamage, because the feat requires an attack roll. Oh well, change this chap to a Monk/Radiant Fist for maybe a bit more DPR but spread out quite a bit more, and a bit more survivability. May even be a better fit, frankly.

The Stormwarden Before the Front Rolls In

Half-Orc, Ranger level 6


Build: Two-Blade Ranger


Fighting Style: Two-Blade Fighting Style


Ranger: Prime Shot


Background: Chessenta (Chessenta Benefit)


 


FINAL ABILITY SCORES


Str 20, Con 10, Dex 18, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 10.


 


STARTING ABILITY SCORES


Str 17, Con 10, Dex 15, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 10.


 


AC: 22 Fort: 20 Reflex: 19 Will: 15


HP: 52 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 13


 


TRAINED SKILLS


Dungeoneering +9, Acrobatics +11, Heal +9, Perception +9, Athletics +12, Religion +7


 


UNTRAINED SKILLS


Arcana +2, Bluff +3, Diplomacy +3, Endurance +4, History +2, Insight +4, Intimidate +5, Nature +4, Stealth +6, Streetwise +3, Thievery +6


 


FEATS


Level 1: Weapon Expertise (Heavy Blade)


Level 2: Weapon Proficiency (Bastard sword)


Level 4: Weapon Focus (Heavy Blade)


Level 6: Disciple of Divine Wrath


 


POWERS


Ranger at-will 1: Twin Strike


Ranger at-will 1: Hit and Run


Ranger encounter 1: Dire Wolverine Strike


Ranger daily 1: Jaws of the Wolf


Ranger utility 2: Invigorating Stride


Ranger encounter 3: Disruptive Strike


Ranger daily 5: Snarling Wolf Stance


Ranger utility 6: Swift Recovery


 


ITEMS


Marauder's Hide Armor +2, Sunblade Bastard sword +1 (2), Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Amulet of Protection +1, Madstone (heroic tier)



The Battle Lieutenant

Eladrin, Warlord level 6
Build: Tactical Warlord
Warlord: Combat Leader
Commanding Presence: Tactical Presence
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Spear)
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Bow)
Background: Thay (Thay Benefit)


FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 18, Con 13, Dex 12, Int 18, Wis 10, Cha 8.


STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 17, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 15, Wis 10, Cha 8.


AC: 22 Fort: 19 Reflex: 18 Will: 16


HP: 55 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 13


TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +14, Endurance +8, History +14, Athletics +11, Heal +8


UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +3, Bluff +2, Diplomacy +2, Dungeoneering +3, Insight +3, Intimidate +2, Nature +3, Perception +3, Religion +7, Stealth +3, Streetwise +2, Thievery +3


FEATS
Level 1: Eladrin Soldier
Level 2: Versatile Expertise
Level 4: Tactical Inspiration
Level 6: Warborn Fury Style


POWERS
Warlord at-will 1: Commander's Strike
Warlord at-will 1: Direct the Strike
Warlord encounter 1: Warlord's Favor
Warlord daily 1: Lead the Attack
Warlord utility 2: Adaptive Stratagem
Warlord encounter 3: Devastating Offensive
Warlord daily 5: A Rock and a Hard Place
Warlord utility 6: Reorient the Axis


ITEMS
Hungry Spear Greatspear +2, Summoned Hide Armor +2, Amulet of Life +1, Distance Longbow +1 (2), Arrows (60), Madstone (heroic tier)





HEROIC
Under the challenge rules the Paladin will have 6 surges, the Ranger 3, the Warlord 4. Inspiring Word will access 2, Lay on Hands 3 (assuming 1/3 daily attrition per challenge), Ranger utilities 2 via non--standard action Second Winds, Amulet of Life 1, Marauder's Hide 1, and (in desperate straits) the Madstones 3 and a normal Second Wind 1. That's all 13 of them. The Paladin's armor also adds a pseudo-surge.

The Paladin fires off Wrath of the Gods before drawing huge aggro for a few turns with his mass Divine Sanction encounter powers. He'll hope to paint a target with vulnerable 3 on the TacLord's turn via Virtuous Strike. After firing all of his bullets, he spams Virtuous Strike on his own turn unless the target absolutely needs locking down, in which case he can forgo a little damage (his attack on the Warlord's turn won't be against a vulnerable target if he doesn't re-paint on his own turn) to double up on Divine Challenge and Sanction with Ardent Strike.

The Ranger triggers Snarling Wolf Stance to make the OpFor pay if they try to mob him (and he fires off Dire Wolverine Strike if they didn't get the hint). After novaing with whatever dailies he has available, he spams 1d10+9 radiant Twin Strikes hoping to catch another +3 per attack from the Paladin's paints.

The TacLord meanwhile throws down A Rock and a Hard Place hoping to do 1d10+12 every time that someone adjacent attacks either of his allies. (But if they don't attack the Paladin they'll eat -2 to hit and 7 radiant damage, possibly twice with vulnerable 3 ... hence the stance's name.) After firing the rest of his bullets he spams Commander's Strike for the Paladin.

The Warlord loans one of his two Distance bows to the Ranger (who can't afford one of his own) so that they can man-handle any long-range encounters. He can even hand his throwable greatspear to the Paladin if they don't need any melee cover at all, so that all three are fairly effective at range.

I'd be hard-pressed to envision a tougher out at level 6.

PARAGON
The Paladin MCs monk to take Zuoken's Centering and base his HPs and surges on Wisdom. This is ... powerful. By level 16 he can pre-load every party member with 37 THPs at the cost of all three available LoH usages. He still has 5 surges left! With Burning Radiance and a Radiant bastard sword, the gloves come off. He can spam multiple targets with vulnerable radiant 10 for several turns, then Ardent Strike to make ignoring his mark cost 42 points of damage.

EDIT: See above and switch out Radiant Fist layered radiant damage, instead.
Because the TacLord is pulling the Paladin away from their target with Warborn Fury Style, the Ranger can add Called Shot/Prime Punisher hijinks to his DPR and do about 1d10+31 to painted targets with Twin Strike. Add 15 for Blade Storm and 15 for Twin-Blade Storm and that's a base DPR somewhere around 75.

The TacLord now has 4 Inspiring Words, each giving the recipient +5 power attack and +5 power speed.

EPIC
The MonkAdin now preloads his allies with 57 THP for a single Lay on Hands and heals any two party members for the same amount with his remaining 4 available LoH usages. You just don't ignore his mark, either.

The Ranger and TacLord just stay beautiful, doing their things better and better.





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