Help a player/DM understand the current state of optimization in the game

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So. I've been playing (and occasionally DMing) 4th Edition since it was first launched; and while I believe I have the basics of optimization down, I'm not really a dedicated optimizer (that is, I will play with melee-only Bards even though the Implement powers are usually much better, and I wouldn't shy away from playing a Vampire even if it doesn't have any nova capability at all). So, I would like to ask this from the good folks here at CO:

If I completely disregard any material in Dragon and use only the printed books (including the most up-to-date errata and the Essentials line), how would that affect my home games in terms of character choices? That is, would Avengers or Sorcerers (just for two examples) be completely worthless choices in terms of benefitting the party (even if not directly as Strikers)?

Many thanks to anyone willing to help me understand this. :-)
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )

If I completely disregard any material in Dragon and use only the printed books (including the most up-to-date errata and the Essentials line), how would that affect my home games in terms of character choices? That is, would Avengers or Sorcerers (just for two examples) be completely worthless choices in terms of benefitting the party (even if not directly as Strikers)?



Are you also disregarding errata? Also, why disregard Dragon? The worst offendors for optimization aren't in Dragon, and the weakest classes get the support they in Dragon.
So to answer your question directly, yes. And if you play with *nothing* but the printed books the game will be more broken than it is now. 

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

would Avengers be completely worthless choices in terms of benefitting the party (even if not directly as Strikers)?



If you ignore Dragon, you ignore the article that fixed the Avenger.  There's a hefty chunk of feats in that article that basically fix some of the major glaring holes in the Avenger and bring it up to the range of other strikers.


I can understand why people used to ban Dragon from their games.  It used to be primarily 3rd-party fan-submitted unbalanced piles of junk, and had some really destabilizing effects on the game sometimes.  That's just quite simply not the case anymore.  Dragon content now for 4e is written by the same people who write the books, and using the same design standards.  There really isn't any rational justification for banning Dragon at this point.  Things have changed.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Yeah, count my opinion as corresponding with the above. There have of course been some 'broken' things in Dragon, just like there were some quite broken things in PHB1 etc. There is generally not a notable quality difference between books and DDI stuff in general. If anything much of the stuff in Dragon is very niche and generally not causing problems in terms of game balance.

As for what is the effectiveness of non-optimized characters... Well, they're just not optimized. Sure, they will be somewhat less effective in combat. That is only going to matter if the disparity between characters is large because you say insist on doing your melee-only bard while the other people at the table are running tweaked up characters that take full advantage of some of the more serious optimization paths and have huge DPRs etc. The players of these other characters might evidence some frustration when the DM has to pull out all the stops and beat the party to an inch of its life and your character is half as effective as theirs are.

In general though? Any character that is built in a reasonably intelligent fashion such that feats and items contribute to its effectiveness and its stats are allocated properly isn't going to be really ineffective. Some builds are inherently weaker or really need to pick up one or two specific things in order to work well, but they're the exception. You may thus find your high paragon Vampire to be quite lackluster but paired with other casually built characters in a game where the DM is going to provide you with reasonable challenges it isn't likely to cause real problems.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
I'm yet another person who agrees that hating on Dragon is pretty old school and not really the problem anymore. A lot of the common optimization tricks on these boards come from combining game elements (feats, items, etc.) that are right out of the PHB1, Adventurer's Vault, etc.

As we are discussing in a bunch of parallel threads, the way to win 4e damage is to buff your at-will damage and use your encounter/ daily powers to either attack multiple times during your turn, or attack outside your turn through immediates, OAs, etc. Also, there are a number of tactical tricks that increase damage across classes - charging, sliding enemies into and out of damaging zones, applying vulnerable __ energy type, etc. None of these depend on any one source, Dragon or otherwise.

You can play whatever is fun throughout your PC's career, that's always been true. But it gets to a point at higher levels where the DM has to pull punches vs. parties with a vampire primary striker. You start to really need some immediates and other tactical tricks (though not all of them). Again, that's a system issue, not necessarily a source issue.
I will add that if your party is going to be intentionally unoptomized, you might want to be careful about adopting the MM3 guidelines for monster damage. In my experience, the damage monsters put out with the new guidelines is excessive for a party that isn't optimized and/or coordinated.

This isn't to say that the old guidelines were just right, but I think that WotC's fix went way overboard for many parties. In LFR, I'm seeing non-defenders being hit for more than their bloodied value fairly regularly, and it even happens to defenders if brutes are using the limited damage expressions.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
Dragon Material has a very long history of being unbalanced (way before 3rd Ed), but to take an example from 4th Ed:

Melee Rangers have plenty of access to non standard action attacks from PHB, in addition to Twin Strike.

Dragon Material gives melee rangers access to Prime Shot bonus for Melee attacks...

Dragon Material then adds 5pts of damage to any attack benefitting from Prime Shot...

__________________

This is merely one example, but nearly every character built will desire something from Dragon Magazine. Is Dragon Material really balanced? I'd wager it is now more so than it has been in the past, but just barely.

___________________
Edit to add: The sad truth is, however, that some classes really just don't perform without Dragon Support. I wouldn't put either the Avenger or the Sorceror into these categories, but the Vampire is really just sad (and the best example) when one decides to eliminate Dragon Material from the game (not that it has received support yet). If you chose to play a vampire as written, with a DM who designs or adjusts encounters based on the number of players, you are literally hurting your party...
My group doesn't like to use Dragon for two reasons: first (and most important), we don't have it, since most of us don't want to pay for it; and second, because it seems to be at least a bit more unbalanced in comparison to the books - Feralspirit mentioned how Rangers get even more powerful thanks to Dragon, but we're also thinking of the recent themes, one of which lets any class gain a Wizard Utility power and also a +2 bonus to Will.

Are you also disregarding errata?



Like I said in the opening post, no; we're using the most up-to-date errata.

If you ignore Dragon, you ignore the article that fixed the Avenger.  There's a hefty chunk of feats in that article that basically fix some of the major glaring holes in the Avenger and bring it up to the range of other strikers.



Sorry, but what would be those "glaring holes", and how were they fixed? Feats? Items?

Edit to add: The sad truth is, however, that some classes really just don't perform without Dragon Support.



Hrnf. Could you please tell me what classes are those?
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
My group doesn't like to use Dragon for two reasons: first (and most important), we don't have it, since most of us don't want to pay for it; and second, because it seems to be at least a bit more unbalanced in comparison to the books - Feralspirit mentioned how Rangers get even more powerful thanks to Dragon, but we're also thinking of the recent themes, one of which lets any class gain a Wizard Utility power and also a +2 bonus to Will.

Thats not gain a Wizard Utility power, but rather take a Wizard Utility power in place of their own classes when they gain a new Utility power or retrain one.

Edit to add: The sad truth is, however, that some classes really just don't perform without Dragon Support.



Hrnf. Could you please tell me what classes are those?


Warlock.
In short though? There is no argument for banning dragon content that does not point far more strongly to banning PHB1 content.



+1. Or Adventurer's Vault content. Or some of the Insightful Warlord powers in Martial Power 2 that make for prime picks. Stuff that separates non-optimized from optimized PCs is all over the system.
I understand where your skepticism comes from, but I don't think the burden is on us to prove that Dragon content is useful.  You're being shown an overhwelming consensus, and have very little reason to believe we're lying to you to ruin your game.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I don't think Thorvald is arguing that Dragon Material might ruin his game, or is or is not useful. I think his question is more along the lines of "Is my game ruined without Dragon Material?" I think the answer to that question is no, provided that care is taken in class choices.


Edit to Add: In the early days of the game, as a young player and DM, I accepted all Dragon Material. Very quickly I learned this was a bad policy, and began picking and choosing which material was ok, and which wasn't balanced. This kind of policy is really only viable with an established and regular group of players, though. Today, I play in one open source game, and another game which is slow to approve new material, with no Dragon work accepted at all. They're both entertaining for me, but the difference in power is apparent between the two.
That's the wrong question to ask, though.  What he should be asking is "is my game better with Dragon material" and the answer is unequivocally yes.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Do Dragon Magazines have broken stuffs? Yes

Would Dragon Magazines add more brokenness to the game? Yes

Are dragon materials more broken than those in published books?  Yes and no, depending on the material.
 
Are there races or classes underperforming without Dragon Magazines? Yes - most notably small races, Avengers and Warlocks


The decision is yours.
Do Dragon Magazines have broken stuffs? Yes

 
Are there races or classes underperforming without Dragon Magazines? Yes - most notably small races, Avengers and Warlocks


The decision is yours.



You forget Runepriest, Assassin, Druid, Seeker, etc. From my experience any class that does not belong to martial or arcane or divine or psionic needs content from dragon to be at least competitive with no-optimized martial, arcane, divine or psionic character. Even within those categories some classes also need buff from Dragon to compete with none-dragon, even PHB/Power only,  fighters (Pit Fighter), rangers (Stormwarden), warlords (Battle Captain) and wizards (whatever), like sorcerers, monks, avengers and warlocks.
The question "Is there broken stuff in Dragon?" is misleading. The question should be "Is the stuff in Dragon more broken than what is published in 4E books?" and the answer to the second question is overwhelmingly no. If anything, powerful options in Dragon make the game more consistent, as some classes are killing machines right out of the books, like Fighters and rangers, but Dragon gives classes like Avengers and Warlocks good options that just aren't in the books.
...whatever
If you decide to ban things, they should be banned on a line-item basis (aka 'not using this, not using that') as opposed to doing so by source.  One bad apple doesn't spoil the whole barrel when it comes to game supplements.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Huh, I read his question at first assuming it to be along the lines of "is it worth the extra $ to pay for dragon".  Its not free, you know ...

Also, as other have said, the worst offenders for broken things tend to be in the printed books - but errata is free, and that tends to fix it.

However some classes will be very underpowered without dragon material to bring them up to par, and you miss out on a lot of 'fun' options.
Honestly, does the game lose for not taking Dragon Material. I'd say no.

In a competitive/challenging game, I wouldn't play a Warlock without Dragon material (to be very honest, I wouldn't play a Warlock in that kind of game even with Dragon Material).

I am not too familiar with psionic classes, so I'm not sure which are only viable with Dragon support. My understanding though, is that they have received very little Dragon Support anyway.

Avenger's damage doesn't compete very well with other strikers without Dragon Material, but I don't really call that a "glaring" hole (again, so long as the game isn't too challenging or competitive). In Epic they won't get an expanded crit range, but that shouldn't be the end of the world kind of loss...


Now, if you were to ask which kind of game I prefer to play (open source or limited), I prefer a more challenging game, with real threats to characters survival, and the necessity of working hard and utilizing every available resource, my answer is open source, and I find the small price of DDI membership to be worth it for that, but necessary? Nah...
There are very few things that are/where out right broken by themselves. And most of those are in the PHB1. They simply didn't know the game well enough then. Things have gotten more balanced since then, both in dragon and published.

However, more options = more combos = more variance in power. Vampiers for instance have virtually no opions, so they do fine for an "average" game, but can't do much to get beyond that (hence why char-op hates them). Fighters on the otherhand have tonns of options and can be pretty heavily tweaked.

5e houserules and tweaks.

Celestial Link Evoking Radiance into Creation

A Party Without Music is Lame: A Bard

Level Dip Guide

 

4e stuff

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

First of all, thanks a lot for all the answers, guys! :-) Really, you've been of great help. I would only like to ask a few more things, though:

Warlock.



Is it because of those two feats which increase curse damage? Are they really so necessary for a Warlock's damage ability?

(...)They now have a feat that patches the damage up(...)



That's the feat which adds Wisdom modifier to their damage, right? I was under the impression that the Avenger's increased accuracy was supposed to be its Striker feature, not some kind of outright damage bonus?
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
You're correct.  The avenger striker feature is not missing.

Unfortunately, that turns out to not really be enough, unless you optimize the heck out of static damage.  Among other issues, it turns out that Rangers and Rogues don't have to miss either, and do way more damage when they hit.  This is a bit of an issue.

(Ranger already has the Avenger's trick, but better, via Twin Strike, and adds 1/2/3d6 -> 1/2/3d8 to that.  And Prime Shot for less missing.  And prime-shot improvements.  And better spike-damage powers.  The Rogue already gets to attack reflex with weapon powers at +1 to hit, and has lots of powers to grant combat advantage.  That's called "doesn't miss", and then gets effectively 1-3d6+Stat on top of that.  And has more control in their powers, and more flexibility at range)

"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

To those two question specifically, yes, mostly.  Curse damage is low, and on its own isn't enough to pull up warlocks to where other strikers are.  "But it's the same as hunter's quarry, and rangers are fine!" you might say - and you'd be right.  But hunter's quarry isn't how rangers get the bulk of their damage.  To understand what the extra options do for warlocks, consider how the rogue would do if sneak attack were a d6 lower.  Then consider how it would be if there were an option in Dragon that nudges it up a little to the point where it is now.  That's the scale of adjustments you'll find in Dragon.  For avengers, there's several feats that really make the class.  Painful Oath is one that, again, nudges them up higher to the point where they're around where other strikers are.  There's also an epic-level feat that gives them 19-20 crits on their Oath target, which again plugs a hole in the class repertoire.  The rest of the weapon-based strikers have the high strength, con, or dexterity to get access to the ___ Mastery feats to provide 19-20 crits, but with the Avenger being Wisdom based and two out of three builds being Int secondary, there just isn't the stats to qualify for the 19-20 crit feats.  Without the one tuned just for Avengers, they would drop rather severely compared to other strikers in Epic.  With that feat, they don't.  It hasn't made them superior, it's just brought them up to where everyone else is.


If your real question is "should I get a DDi subscription" then my answer would depend on what you're trying to get out of it.  If you're just looking for additional options to expand your game slightly, it's probably worth it but you'd still do fine without it if you're currently happy with how things are going.  There's really very little risk of Dragon options causing havoc and disrupting the stuff you're enjoying.  If, on the other hand, you're considering DDi for more than just access to Dragon content (character builder, compendium to look stuff up without having to first find which book the feat's in, etc) then you should absolutely consider Dragon content a nice, useful, beneficial bonus.  Will it make a huge difference?  No.  But it will be a positive one.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Hrm.
Is it possible, perhaps, to buy only some issues of the magazine, then, instead of subscribing?

(And again, thanks for all the help, guys! :-))
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
The first few are free.

5e houserules and tweaks.

Celestial Link Evoking Radiance into Creation

A Party Without Music is Lame: A Bard

Level Dip Guide

 

4e stuff

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Hrm.
Is it possible, perhaps, to buy only some issues of the magazine, then, instead of subscribing?

(And again, thanks for all the help, guys! :-))


That option isn't on the table, and WotC probably isn't going to offer it.
A one month subscription is I think 10 bucks, and you can download every issue ever published.  It's a pretty good deal when you look at it that way.  Once you have a sense of the sort of things in it, you can then decide if you think it's worth continuing to subscribe.

To put my comments in a bit of context, my year-long subscription renews in a week or two.  And I have zero doubts about plunking down the ~70 bucks for it.  Again, for a subscription you're getting quite a bit more than Dragon.  Sure, the Builder has its quirks, and isn't perfect, but it's useful.  Personally, I find the Compendium, alone, reason enough to subscribe, despite having all of the player books (up until dark sun and psionic power, anyway...but that's another story).  And my experience with the VT has been overwhelmingly positive.  I'm quite excited about its potential when it gets out of beta.

Dragon content complements the books.  You're not getting all of what 4e has to offer without it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Oh. And they published a book of them.

5e houserules and tweaks.

Celestial Link Evoking Radiance into Creation

A Party Without Music is Lame: A Bard

Level Dip Guide

 

4e stuff

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Oh. And they published a book of them.



Oh, right - see if your local stores have any copies of Dragon Annual that you could flip through.  That would give you a better basis to judge than anything we could say.  Though, it will probably cost you more than 10 bucks to buy one of those, and for 10 bucks you can just get all of Dragon and sort it out later.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
If I completely disregard any material in Dragon and use only the printed books (including the most up-to-date errata and the Essentials line), how would that affect my home games in terms of character choices? That is, would Avengers or Sorcerers (just for two examples) be completely worthless choices in terms of benefitting the party (even if not directly as Strikers)?

Sorcerers got nothing meaningful in Dragon (neither did Barbarians), but both Sorcerers and Barbarians are quite competitive and survivable strikers that can be turned into defenders if you want to build them that way.
Re: Warlocks.

It's not that warlocks were amazingly boosted in their damage dealing capability by Dragon.  On the contrary, very little effort has been made to give warlocks competitive damage.  Mindbite Scorn is a shining example, and it's in Dark Sun, not Dragon.

What warlocks HAVE gotten is compensation of all sorts of other kinds.  I've produced defenderlocks, controllerlocks and even seen leaderlocks.  We're really close to having a viable all-warlock party, just lacking a bit in the heals and leader bonus department.  Many of the best warlock non-striker options are in Dragon.

That's really why you see posters saying they still wouldn't play a warlock, because as a striker most warlocks just don't pull their weight (hellish rebuke aside).  But if you are playing a warlock as a half-striker, half-whatever, suddenly grand vistas of usefulness open up.  Warlocks are one of the most versatile classes in the game, as far as I am concerned. 
Killing Curse, Cursed Spells, Crimson Fire, and Student of Caiphon were all Dragon content.



Twofold Pact as well.
Hmmm, I see.
Well, perhaps subscribing to Dragon for a month can be a valuable investment. I'll have to mull it over.
But thanks, again, for all the help, guys. :-)
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )

That's really why you see posters saying they still wouldn't play a warlock, because as a striker most warlocks just don't pull their weight (hellish rebuke aside).  But if you are playing a warlock as a half-striker, half-whatever, suddenly grand vistas of usefulness open up.  Warlocks are one of the most versatile classes in the game, as far as I am concerned. 



This is a really good description of the warlock.  Its really fun to play and a useful addition to the party, but for the most part you won't be doing true striker level damage.  If you are ok with not doing true striker damage and the party is not built around you being the primary striker than you will do fine. 

I only played a feylock for a short period of time, but it was very fun and I always felt like I was contributing even though in a 3 striker party I was doing the least damage of the three.

And I am one more vote for adding dragon material.  Several classes really need it.  No one has mentioned the cleric for instance, but it got things like battle cleric armaments, prophetic guidance, and mighty hew from dragon.  You don't have to use those things, but it makes the class more viable.   And the bow cleric guide I am working on right now would not be possible without dragon material for the most part since some of the key feats like moonbow dedicate and the at will silvery arrow are from there.  And warpriests get the earth domain only from dragon, which is overall the weakest domain, but has good powers for regular str/wis clerics to poach from. 

The vast majority of dragon material is not overpowered and most of the broken stuff has gotten errata at this point: grasp of the grave, white lotus master's riposte, punisher of the gods.
The new Rule of Three probably probably sums up the designer's current take on Dragon:

It’s also important to keep in mind that the class updates focus on correcting errors and balancing powers. If we see an area of weakness in a class, we will usually produce new content for it rather than go back and revise existing material.



So Dragon (which is about the only new content we're seeing nowadays) is their "errata" for the sake of buffs. That design philosophy has actually been in place for perhaps all of 4e. It sucks that you have to pay for their buff errata and get their nerf errata for free. It also sucks because "new content" usually means feats and items that suck up spots that could be used for more interesting choices - they may as well just make Painful Oath an 11th lvl Avenger class feature and give me my feat back. But oh well, that's the system.
Killing Curse, Cursed Spells, Crimson Fire, and Student of Caiphon were all Dragon content.



Twofold Pact as well.


Don't forget Called Shot, if the Warlock in question is fighting for Prime Shot bonus to hit (and some won't), they will probably want to get a damage bonus as well.
I'm not really a dedicated optimizer (that is, I will play with melee-only Bards even though the Implement powers are usually much better, and I wouldn't shy away from playing a Vampire even if it doesn't have any nova capability at all).


Look at it this way: Dragon doesn't only help classes mechanically, it also provides more thematic options.  There are all kinds of great PPs and class options that can provide for some awesome character ideas and concepts.  The game overall is just a richer experience with it - it doesn't just benefit optimizers.

And while the ranger feats Prime Punisher and Called Shot from Dragon do indeed make the ranger stronger, it is hardly the reason they are the powerhouses they are.  Pick up PHB1 and check out Twin Strike, all the minor/immediate encounter powers, and incredible beast dailies like Blade Cascade.  These are all far stronger contributions to the ranger, and any one of them "deserve" banning more than any feats in Dragon.  The same argument could be made for any splatbook - including MP2 increases power just as much as including Dragon.

It's also important to note that things like the Order Adept theme (mentioned as overpowered) was originally planned to be in a printed book.  In fact most of the material released this year in Dragon has been from the three books they cancelled.  Dragon material now comes from the same team as book material, and goes through the same scrutiny.  Nowadays it's probably more balanced, as they seem much more willing to errata Dragon stuff than things that just came out in print.

It's certainly your perogative if you want to use Dragon material, but I think the benefits are worth any perceived power-creep.
Note, too, that you don't exactly have to use Themes.  I'm still not allowing them in my games.
Note, three, you can adjust the difficulty of things.  As long as players are roughly even...  it doesn't really matter if their optimal or not.

5e houserules and tweaks.

Celestial Link Evoking Radiance into Creation

A Party Without Music is Lame: A Bard

Level Dip Guide

 

4e stuff

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

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