We need some Lab Disasters.

66 posts / 0 new
Last post
Anyone in engineering will say all rules are written in blood. We need more horror stories, death, and the factory burning down.
We've had a lot of really good lab results of level 30 teams winning fights. Unfortunately I do not feel they demonstrate where things can go wrong. I'd like to see some lower level battles (16 is the prime zone IMHO) where a little more trouble occurs.
Testing is faulty when all results demonstrate positive results when conducted at maximum level.
Well I ran a level 16 lab here:  community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Of course, far from a lab disaster, the PCs cleaned house in this lab too. 

Daren
I'm planning on running a lab at level 16 that uses randomized monsters and characters/classes that run from "potential party liability" to "practical optimization with some theme choices" to represent what a table where not everyone knows about optimization, or cares, would look like.

I don't expect a disaster but I also don't expect things to go smoothly.

Right now I'm just building the characters. Once I get that done I'll get the results.
If interested perhaps we could run some level 16 Level+3 encounters against the party to see how they handle it. Thats a solid fight that would justify the dailies used, and about the level I use in my campaigns for challenging fights. I know a couple nasty solid monsters off the top of my head that I would use in such a fight.

I very much enjoyed the Essentials F-Class builds against Ogremoch earlier, and honestly I would not have expected the Essentials characters to do NEARLY as well as they did. Honestly I would almost have put money against it. Is it because level 30 is just that good or is were tactics just brilliant... or something else?

At any rate the purpose of my post is that I have not seen enough relevant level labs (heroic or paragon) and no failures yet in lab tests. I've always felt the difficulty rating was usually a bit low for monsters and I guess this confirms that, considering the 100% success rate.

Basically, Someone needs to die.
I am starting to wonder how much of the results is based on party composition rather than the individual classes involved. What happens if the group of 5 is missing one party role. No controller? No Defender? Heck, what about no strikers? Is this an issue where any motley crew of characters can defeat anything at level 30 or is the game balanced to the point that the inclusion of all roles acts as a force multiplier?

I have played LFR without  any given role present at almost any tier and it was doable but that is a case where players have varying levels of optimization and onre character may have carried the weight of another. What if you create your party of 5 and then roll to randomly remove one character, and then roll to randomly duplicate one of the 4 remaining. what kinds of scenarios might this create? What impact would it have if when fighting Ogremach there were 2 blackguards and no Binder? This is alot of work but may be an interesting way to look at things.

Also I am not sure if it has been done but I think that there should be a standard array of pre determined d20 rolls that are used from one fight to the next to eliminate some of the luck of dice from the mix.
If interested perhaps we could run some level 16 Level+3 encounters against the party to see how they handle it. Thats a solid fight that would justify the dailies used, and about the level I use in my campaigns for challenging fights. I know a couple nasty solid monsters off the top of my head that I would use in such a fight.

I very much enjoyed the Essentials F-Class builds against Ogremoch earlier, and honestly I would not have expected the Essentials characters to do NEARLY as well as they did. Honestly I would almost have put money against it. Is it because level 30 is just that good or is were tactics just brilliant... or something else?


This has come up in the Lab Notes thread, but two things I'm wary about are the way the PCs coordinate with each other (hard to avoid when one person's running the whole party) and the way the monster mix slants towards fewer, larger bodies.  It seems like a major component of F-class victory is keeping the big bad consistently dazed to shut down off-turn attacks like Ogremoch's immediate reprisal.  I'm still impressed by the viability of the F-class parties, but I have to wonder how much it depends on the party being well-coordinated.  Among other things, I wouldn't expect a party of players that tactically savvy to be playing Binders and Vampires instead of, say, Killswitch and Trailblazer.

I don't have the slightest clue how to go about injecting tactical blunders into a lab-bench fight in a principled way, though.
Crit my build -- help me get better at CharOp
- Pretty Hate Machine
I am starting to wonder how much of the results is based on party composition rather than the individual classes involved. What happens if the group of 5 is missing one party role. No controller? No Defender? Heck, what about no strikers? Is this an issue where any motley crew of characters can defeat anything at level 30 or is the game balanced to the point that the inclusion of all roles acts as a force multiplier?

I have played LFR without  any given role present at almost any tier and it was doable but that is a case where players have varying levels of optimization and onre character may have carried the weight of another. What if you create your party of 5 and then roll to randomly remove one character, and then roll to randomly duplicate one of the 4 remaining. what kinds of scenarios might this create? What impact would it have if when fighting Ogremach there were 2 blackguards and no Binder? This is alot of work but may be an interesting way to look at things.

Also I am not sure if it has been done but I think that there should be a standard array of pre determined d20 rolls that are used from one fight to the next to eliminate some of the luck of dice from the mix.



I thought Tsuyo's Scrub Brigade test was a nice, bloody opener Tongue out. I know I was scared to death for my PCs when I started the Labs.

As I have approached them, the Labs have been about finding the 4e "baseline." Seven or so tests doesn't prove anything, but if they are any indication, then a party of 5 solidly built, well played characters with party synergy should beat an at-level, well played group of monsters in around 5 rounds. I call it the Rule of Five for shorthand. If further tests prove that's the baseline, then it's not too hard to push the boundary up or down to discover threshholds where parties are likely to wipe/ have ubearable grindfests, or turn those fights into trivial jokes.

Tactics and party synergy played a big part in my tests. I don't think its a reach to say that breaking the synergy would have really, really affected things. The Sentinel didn't do diddly squat in the Ogremoch fight besides heal, but if she wasn't there to heal or hand out saves, it's probably the disaster the OP is looking for. A party with two strikers and a controller finished off Ogremoch in 5 total rounds; a party with two controllers and a striker finished Borys, Dragon of Tyr off in 6 total rounds. There's all sorts of variation if you look at the tests, and then imagine or recreate the same fights while swapping in different elements. The rolls are all there; go ahead and swap in 5 Binders vs. Ogremoch and see what happens.

Concerning standardized dice rolls across all of the labs, it sounds like good science. But in the context of the actual game at the table, I don't think that will make for any significant result swings. It's not as if a 15 hits harder than an 11. Either a PC has really good luck, really bad luck, or insignificant normal luck. I'd say the luck in my tests were insignificant. It wasn't particularly good luck (e.g. over 4 tests, I can't recall a significant striker crit). Where there were spells of bad luck, the PCs either had enough accuracy resources to overcome it on the spot (targeting NADs to hit on 6s, rerolls, Heroic Effort-type boosts, etc.), or they used resources to survive the lack of damage output for a round until their luck turned (e.g., the Round 3 readied action fiasco vs. Ogremoch). It would have taken a really, really, really nasty string of bad luck across multiple characters to make for a true disaster. A string of luck like that will hurt pretty much every single party you could ever put together. At that point, you're just looking for dead bodies.
I am starting to wonder how much of the results is based on party composition rather than the individual classes involved. What happens if the group of 5 is missing one party role. No controller? No Defender? Heck, what about no strikers? Is this an issue where any motley crew of characters can defeat anything at level 30 or is the game balanced to the point that the inclusion of all roles acts as a force multiplier?

I have played LFR without  any given role present at almost any tier and it was doable but that is a case where players have varying levels of optimization and onre character may have carried the weight of another. What if you create your party of 5 and then roll to randomly remove one character, and then roll to randomly duplicate one of the 4 remaining. what kinds of scenarios might this create? What impact would it have if when fighting Ogremach there were 2 blackguards and no Binder? This is alot of work but may be an interesting way to look at things.

Also I am not sure if it has been done but I think that there should be a standard array of pre determined d20 rolls that are used from one fight to the next to eliminate some of the luck of dice from the mix.

Well I think having a well-balanced party has defintely helped.  But I think that basic DnD 4.0 design is that the party will be on the balanced side.  So I don't know that if the Essentials failed in a unbalanced party if that would reflect on the classes instead of just on poor party composition.

On the die rolls, I thought about trying to assign die rolls to each side, but decided it would be more work and less fun.  In my test, the rolls were pretty even, but a few of the classes (Hunter, Thief) just don't miss much.  What is crazy is that this was without deft blade and the other feats that allow you to attack a NAD with a basic attack.  Safe to assume that in actual play with a decent player that a thief will be close to a 95% hit rate with his backstabs.

In any event, I think the labs have already demonstrated that most of the E classes are adequate in the hands of a good player.

Daren

I think one of the components that's missing is the resource expenditure and slightly unlucky rolls that characterize a disaster. Optimized parties are often able to overcome poor rolls/resource expenditure. Sure, lots of parties can survive an encounter, but what happens when they've used up too many resources on previous combats and get a little unlucky?

I'd look at the following choices:
Say 1 to 2 of the characters randomly picked, roll a 1 on the 1st round of combat. I've seen parties where that could be characterized as lucky - at one 4 player table I was at, all 4 of us rolled a 1 for initiative. Yes, one in 160000 chance. Combat didn't start so well for us...

Dailies - you're allowed to use one daily because the rest have been used up. Roll a d6 - 1-2, it is your favorite daily, 3-5 are the other 3 dailies, 6, you happened to use them all up previously.
I think these labs are demonstrating what is really expected.  A decent party should, really, always win.  It might get hairy some times, but the game is designed to be won, ultimately.

Now, there are certain situations (poorly made characters, either through accident (tsuyo's scrub brigade), choice, or just lack of knowledge - unlucky dice rolls/crits - monster composition ideally created to destroy the player party) where this might not hold.  There are certain situations where combat will be much shorter or much longer.  But, in most cases, the players are going to win.

The value of these, I think, is in establishing a base-line, and showing how high above that base-line an optimized character/party will be.
I think one of the components that's missing is the resource expenditure and slightly unlucky rolls that characterize a disaster. Optimized parties are often able to overcome poor rolls/resource expenditure. Sure, lots of parties can survive an encounter, but what happens when they've used up too many resources on previous combats and get a little unlucky?

I'd look at the following choices:
Say 1 to 2 of the characters randomly picked, roll a 1 on the 1st round of combat. I've seen parties where that could be characterized as lucky - at one 4 player table I was at, all 4 of us rolled a 1 for initiative. Yes, one in 160000 chance. Combat didn't start so well for us...

Dailies - you're allowed to use one daily because the rest have been used up. Roll a d6 - 1-2, it is your favorite daily, 3-5 are the other 3 dailies, 6, you happened to use them all up previously.



It's important to note that the Lab PCs had almost none of the feat and item support that, say, LFR or tournament PCs have. Extra +1 to hit from a Superior Weapon/ Implement? Improved crit range? Power or other resource recovery on crit? Superior Initiative and/ or Danger Sense? Voidcrystal weapons to remove monsters from play to give PCs a breather? Fantastic Recuperation or other rituals? Fortune Stones? Or for that matter, any rings or wondrous items?

I think an implication of these tests is that as PCs add this stuff, the DM has to add knobs to compensate (extra/ higher level monsters, dangerous terrain, combat subgoals, longer encounter workdays, etc.), but that the game without this stuff functions as well. Rather than being depressed because I want to see blood, that makes me happy about the state of 4e. If I really want to see PC blood, I have a clearer sense of what knobs I want to turn and when Cool.

I love reading through the Labs, especially since I've had no xp with Essentials.  But the lab encounters don't seem to be representing enough of the problems I see in actual play.  My group has had a number of 10+ round combats.  Some of it was solo grind but some was just fun hard encounters.   I've had a combat where it was:

rd 1) double move into position, get crushed & dazed
2) second wind
3) kill a minion
4) actualy did something
5) death save +
6) death save -
7) death save -
8) back up, did something
9-10) mop up

But that was 1 of 52 encounters I had good notes for (all paragon tier).

Other times we played a whole level's worth of encounters in 5/6 rounds or less.

Don't forget the 13 round double encounters!  Now that's resource management.

Plus everyone loves the 10 round encounter where they are dazed for 5 of the rounds.  It happens.  Frustrating but not 'hard' as usually the rest of the party is doing ok and it only means some extra daily resources get spent (surges, items, whatever).  Which is fine since most of the time when it is time for an extended rest, at least a few people in the party have some resources left.

I would say overall the labs are probably a bit too coordinated and are more ideal than reality.  But I also agree it is a bit challenging to inject tactical blunders/bad decision making on purpose but we all know it does happen at the table from time to time.

Scrub Brigade (the one lab disaster so far) confirmed two things, basically: 1) Ensnarement Swordmages really are that terrible, and 2) the "math tax" feats really are necessary. Note how in all the Essentials lab tests, the characters still took the math tax feats. And, yes, didn't have an Ensnarement Swordmage on the team. So besides that, you should be fine as long as you build your characters competently and have good tactics.

I'd still be interested in a True Morbid Curiosity lab: Ensnarement Swordmage, O-Assassin, Sentinel, Seeker, Vampire.
Doesn't that party need a defender?
Doesn't that party need a defender?



Touche.
They can use the sentinel's dog ;)
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director


I'd still be interested in a True Morbid Curiosity lab: Ensnarement Swordmage, O-Assassin, Sentinel, Seeker, Vampire.



You couldn't pay me money to run that. Wrap the Ensnaring Swordmage in a blanket, leave him at a designer's doorstep, and write a little note that says "never do this again". Let the warlock keep that cool remove from play encounter power, and put the Binder in there as well.
What I intend to find out with my test is how battles will go if you've got a role or two missing from a battle, coupled with characters that have made choices that aren't optimal for some sort of reason and only an average grasp at tactics. I don't intend for all characters to be bad, and I intend for most to have the feat taxes, but I think it'll be interesting to see how a battle goes when say, the fighter and avenger team up to take out a brute, or if the mage just simply doesn't know who its supposed to target, or if the sorcerer is hybriding bard and avoiding mba granting powers, etc.

I suspect that battles will still go ok. I also believe they'll take at least 6 rounds to complete, and I also think that luck will greatly affect the party more than it may affect other parties.
I'd still be interested in a True Morbid Curiosity lab: Ensnarement Swordmage, O-Assassin, Sentinel, Seeker, Vampire.



I'm still interested in seeing this too! Because if *this* party (casually optimized) can get through a string of at-level encounters without grinding out an 8 round encounter (or dying), then the designers really have accomplished something pretty big: they've made classes balanced enough that _every one of them_ is a reasonable choice and can carry its weight in battle.

True, some classes will still be considerably better than others, but none of them are unusable.

Conversely, if this party *fails*, then one or more of these classes is something of a design failure. Continue
further testing to find out which one(s) and we have interesting information! 

Who's gonna run it?...Anyone? ...Anyone? ...Beuller? 
Scrub Brigade (the one lab disaster so far) confirmed two things, basically: 1) Ensnarement Swordmages really are that terrible, and 2) the "math tax" feats really are necessary.


I don't think that #2 has really been proven at all. While I agree that having an Expertise feat is necessary, I think that an epic party is still viable if they lack feats like Improved Defenses. One week ago many people assumed that all epic strikers need multiattacks, but that turned out not to be true either.

That said, it would be interesting to see what a good party can do. I suspect that a party of "casually optimized" characters could pretty much take down two Ogremochs at the same time, without even going to the level of Killswitch, Radiant Mafia, or other TO combos.
2) the "math tax" feats really are necessary. Note how in all the Essentials lab tests, the characters still took the math tax feats. And, yes, didn't have an Ensnarement Swordmage on the team. So besides that, you should be fine as long as you build your characters competently and have good tactics.



Those characters were also horribly unoptimized in pretty much every other way possible, which tells us little about how much the math tax feats are actually needed.

I want to see what happens if a group of otherwise optimized characters does not take the math tax feats. Only then can we know how necessary those feats are--if the group still meets the baseline expectations, then the expertese/improved defense feats aren't really all that necessary.

Someone could even go back through the playtests that have been done and switch out the math tax feats with other relevant feats and see how much the outcome changes using the same rolls, so it wouldn't tak entirely new playtests.
Scrub Brigade (the one lab disaster so far) confirmed two things, basically: 1) Ensnarement Swordmages really are that terrible, and 2) the "math tax" feats really are necessary. Note how in all the Essentials lab tests, the characters still took the math tax feats. And, yes, didn't have an Ensnarement Swordmage on the team. So besides that, you should be fine as long as you build your characters competently and have good tactics.



I don't think it really proved anything about an Ensnarement Swordmage. It proved that the following are a set of really, really bad ideas:
Bump Cha with your human racial bonus when it is your dump stat and you're a Swordmage.
Don't always bump Int. In fact, fail to bump it 5 times out of 6, just so you get to round down on your modifier.
Take 1 feat that lets you avoid OAs when using ranged attacks when you don't have any. Oh wait, you can spend a standard action to use a 29th level Daily that doesn't involve making an attack that starts out Red before you make Con your second lowest stat.
Take 8 weapon and armor feats that you don't use.
Take a feat that boosts damage on attacks you don't have unless you use a Daily utility that you need to sustain.
Take a feat that lets you be better at the aftereffects of successful Stealth when you don't have real capabilities to ever be hidden.
Take an initiative feat that bumps your Initiative by +2 when a +8 Initiative feat is also available. And the only reason it is even +2 is because you bumped Wisdom 4 times when you could have bumped Int instead.

That's just the feat and stat problems - wasting 13 feats when you don't have Expertise and your primary attack stat is 7 below where it ought to be can probably do a number on almost any non-cornercase character.
I agree. I don't think the scrub brigade really told us anything other than that the CB choose for me button is garbage.
Testing is faulty when all results demonstrate positive results when conducted at maximum level.


Results you may have not wanted to see =/= faulty.  If you haven't noticed yet pcs at lv l30 are extreamly powerfull.  When we played the price of undeath we had to super buff Orcus, and force the pcs to go through 5 encounters befor him withouth a short or extended rest to make the encounter challanging.
I agree. I don't think the scrub brigade really told us anything other than that the CB choose for me button is garbage.



I learned this the first time I hit and went 'wtf?'

Thinking about player tactics, I find the toughest combats tend to come about when a PC chooces moves that best suit them and are detrimental to the party. An example was a bloodied Fighter moving out of  the central location of a battle to avoid more damage leaving the Thief with no flanking help and our Wizard hung out to dry with none of the enemies around him marked.

If you're testing, it would be interesting to see which PC can make the most impact with a stupid decision. I would wager it's the Defender or the Leader. Granted if your Striker runs off to start pummeling an unbloodied enemy while everyone else is getting slammed by two that are bloodied, this adds equal issues. I would probably rank the Controller 4th in overall ability to eff up a situation primarily due to the fact that you need an ally unfriendly aoe or something similar to leave your friends in a bad spot.

On an aside, I might say it would be difficult for a Seeker to actually make things worse for a party, which in itself is sort of a plus.

Also, I have a soft spot for Seekers, bias noted.
If you're testing, it would be interesting to see which PC can make the most impact with a stupid decision. I would wager it's the Defender or the Leader. Granted if your Striker runs off to start pummeling an unbloodied enemy while everyone else is getting slammed by two that are bloodied, this adds equal issues. I would probably rank the Controller 4th in overall ability to eff up a situation primarily due to the fact that you need an ally unfriendly aoe or something similar to leave your friends in a bad spot.



I think it is clearly the Striker. The "Hey, I rolled high on initiative, no one else in the party did, and all my capabilities are melee only. Why don't I move right into the middle of all the monsters and offer them up a focus-fire target by showing them how good my encounter nova is!" is the classic easy to do bad Striker move.

Thinking about player tactics, I find the toughest combats tend to come about when a PC chooces moves that best suit them and are detrimental to the party. An example was a bloodied Fighter moving out of  the central location of a battle to avoid more damage leaving the Thief with no flanking help and our Wizard hung out to dry with none of the enemies around him marked.



I agree with this part.  I have been playing a lot of defenders recently and you have to be willing to take a good beating and not run away.  They are tough enough to take it the vast majority of the time.  Hopefully that means you have a good party willing to help you out when you really need it, but a defender player who is afraid of getting bloodied or even having to make the occasional death save is not going to be that useful. 

I actually like the two defender set up we have right now in one group I am playing with.  The fighter usually tries to tie down one or two enemies in the middle while my paladin pushes through with divine pursuit in the first or second round to take on any ranged guys in the back.

Possible future labs for people with too much time on their hands might be to try out different role ratios.  Charop consensus seems to be you generally want 1 defender, 2 strikers, 1 leader, 1 controller in a 5 man party.  How does a 2 defender, 2 leader, 1 striker party hold up?  How does a 4 controller, 1 leader party do? etc.

Thinking about player tactics, I find the toughest combats tend to come about when a PC chooces moves that best suit them and are detrimental to the party. An example was a bloodied Fighter moving out of  the central location of a battle to avoid more damage leaving the Thief with no flanking help and our Wizard hung out to dry with none of the enemies around him marked.

If you're testing, it would be interesting to see which PC can make the most impact with a stupid decision. I would wager it's the Defender or the Leader. Granted if your Striker runs off to start pummeling an unbloodied enemy while everyone else is getting slammed by two that are bloodied, this adds equal issues. I would probably rank the Controller 4th in overall ability to eff up a situation primarily due to the fact that you need an ally unfriendly aoe or something similar to leave your friends in a bad spot.

On an aside, I might say it would be difficult for a Seeker to actually make things worse for a party, which in itself is sort of a plus.

Also, I have a soft spot for Seekers, bias noted.


 
I'm with you here. In 4E more than any other edition it's more important to know what everybody else is doing. I'd say strikers have the least impact with bad decisions. I've seen controllers block lines of sight essentially leaving their allies "blind" and making allies sit doing nothing while close-blasting baddies mangle their front lines.

Stances/Rages are also big. If the Barbarian has Clawfoot Berserker Rage going, having your character six instead of five squares away from it when you know you're going to be bloody is kind of stupid but things like thathappen quite often. Or having your defender with crap reflex and lining your high-reflex ranged guys up in blast patterns with him. 

I also have a soft spot for seekers.  
Fair point on the Striker and I've seen a number of them do it, but that would be greatly effected by the size of the battle area. Assuming the player isn't intelligent enough to delay or ready an action all of the baddies would need to be withing roughly 12 squares (lets assume a move of 6 and a charge).

If we're 5 on 5, that's a likely 5 hits, but if you're lucky enough to have some hindering terrain, or a narrow passage your idiot Striker might survive the initial shock at which point they are well positioned and hopefully supported by a Defender by the end of the round.

It also takes into account the DM style. I played with a DM who put all monsters on the same initiative which was hell on the first round, but manageable from there.

With your input, I might say Defender, Melee Striker, Leader, Ranged Striker and Controller. I have a hard time moving Defender out of the top 'You just effed the whole group' spot.
FWIW, I've found that, in my 3 years of playing that PC death is usually the result of:

  1. Poor tactical choices by the dead PC

  2. The DM accidentally building an encounter that was unfairly hard (usually because of an unintended combination of monster power + terrain or monster with a trait that nerfs the party composition, like swarms against a group without AoEs).


If it helps, I'd say my general group composition breaks down like this:

Player 1: Likes defenders and strikers.  Will optimize if you show him a combination, but on his own typically just eyeballs it to pick okay feats and good powers.

Player 2: Likes defenders.  Has a weak grasp on the rules so they can't tell the difference between good and bad powers but usually asks advice and takes it.  Bad tactics in battle.

Player 3: Likes leaders.  Seems to always pick the worst possible power at each level.  Spams at-wills a lot.

Player 4: Likes controllers.  Optimizes enough to be strong, but still considers group/flavor choices.

Player 5: Likes strikers.  Min/maxes as if it were his job.

Our fights always last too long (6-10 rounds).  Part of the problem is group composition (we rarely have more than 1 striker at a time, once we had NONE), part of the problem is the two guys who compulsively pick bad powers or just can't seem to see how the PCs can work together.  Player 3's first PC was a Dragonborn Warlord... who picked nothing but breath-altering feats.  *sigh*
I want to see what happens if a group of otherwise optimized characters does not take the math tax feats. Only then can we know how necessary those feats are--if the group still meets the baseline expectations, then the expertese/improved defense feats aren't really all that necessary.



Exactly. Setting up controlled tests that accentuate self-fulfilling predicytions is not an accurate enough test to constitute proof.

I want to see what happens if a group of otherwise optimized characters does not take the math tax feats. Only then can we know how necessary those feats are--if the group still meets the baseline expectations, then the expertese/improved defense feats aren't really all that necessary.



Exactly. Setting up controlled tests that accentuate self-fulfilling predicytions is not an accurate enough test to constitute proof.




The tests are public. Rolls, defenses, damage output, everything. If people are really curious as to how these different combos will play out, they can do some quick substitutions and play it out themselves.

As far as the "math tax" feats, I'm thinking that means Expertise, Focus, and some kind of defense suite. Having spent so much time with the numbers recently, I can give the following observations:

1) Expertise: Absolutely necessary at high levels: Not even close. In Round 1 of Morbid Curiosity vs. MM3 monsters, the Binder doesn't banish the Brute blocking the door without expertise, and the Vampire doesn't nuke the Yuan-ti without it. Those were the two encounter-changing events. In the Ogremach fight, they almost never hit his AC 50.

You can argue that PCs would be able to grind out wins without the Expertise feats. That's true, but then PCs are grinding out wins. The fights were fun and quick, and I'd rather keep it that way.

2) Improved Defenses: Very helpful at high levels: The defender absolutely needed these feats in every one of my Lab fights to keep herself in position, protect her action economy, etc. Like most high level monsters, for example, Ogremoch's Fort and Ref attacks were his most dangerous. After looking at the fights, the defender needed some defense coverage through feats. No question.

I estimated that if the non-defenders skipped the Defense feats, PCs still win but it would have taken 1/2 round to one round longer because of things like the striker stepping back to minor-minor-potion, the leader having to use their standard on a healing power and not on an attack, etc. My fights were at-level; that gets worse as the fights get harder.

3) Focus: Helpful at high levels: It helps the Strikers, but its a pretty small contribution to their large passive mods. It helped the defender and leader, but they only had it because they had no other real feats to take. I say its helpful because it contributed to cutting out some of the grindiness.


As far as the "math tax" feats, I'm thinking that means Expertise, Focus, and some kind of defense suite. Having spent so much time with the numbers recently, I can give the following observations:

1) Expertise: Absolutely necessary at high levels: Not even close. In Round 1 of Morbid Curiosity vs. MM3 monsters, the Binder doesn't banish the Brute blocking the door without expertise, and the Vampire doesn't nuke the Yuan-ti without it. Those were the two encounter-changing events. In the Ogremach fight, they almost never hit his AC 50.

You can argue that PCs would be able to grind out wins without the Expertise feats. That's true, but then PCs are grinding out wins. The fights were fun and quick, and I'd rather keep it that way.

2) Improved Defenses: Very helpful at high levels: The defender absolutely needed these feats in every one of my Lab fights to keep herself in position, protect her action economy, etc. Like most high level monsters, for example, Ogremoch's Fort and Ref attacks were his most dangerous. After looking at the fights, the defender needed some defense coverage through feats. No question.

I estimated that if the non-defenders skipped the Defense feats, PCs still win but it would have taken 1/2 round to one round longer because of things like the striker stepping back to minor-minor-potion, the leader having to use their standard on a healing power and not on an attack, etc. My fights were at-level; that gets worse as the fights get harder.

3) Focus: Helpful at high levels: It helps the Strikers, but its a pretty small contribution to their large passive mods. It helped the defender and leader, but they only had it because they had no other real feats to take. I say its helpful because it contributed to cutting out some of the grindiness.




1) Expertise raises the probability, but its success is still determined by a random number generated by a d20. No amount of optimization can counter a 1. Also, characters in a vacuum of even a single party set up run a few times even repeatedly make for an interesting control group, but do not account for the variables that actually happen in a game involving different individuals.

2) Improved defenses on a defender is also what I would call a no-brainer simply because more attacks are focused on them and they also have a great reliance on the ability to act off-turn regarding mark enforcement. Leaders especially after the first round I'd also put in that category and any sustaining controllers would fit that mode also. Unless cornered, a dazed archer ranger (for example) will still bring sufficient hurt to not hamper the party though. 

3) Applying supposedly objective data to make a subjective point is really pointless. There is no agreement on what "grind" constitutes.  1/2 to 1 round longer isn't a measure of "grind", it's purely subjective. So long as a battle is interesting and dynamic, grind is variable and mitigated, where a battle that's static and essentially pre-determined can be a grind if it only takes two rounds.

It also does not take in to account the randomly-generated numbers actually produced (although static modifiers at Epic reduce their influence greatly). A baddie with 1 HP remaining is no different that a baddie with 20 HP in most cases from a threat standpoint, but a difference of +2 static modifier damage didn't overcome rolling a 1 with your Fullblade instead of rolling a 4 with a dagger on that baddie with 1 HP remaining.

I'm not saying the expertise and improved____ feats aren't helpful or powerful, but I do contend they aren't necessary in the context some on this board ascribe to. Some characters/groups/parties will feel the need for them, others will be fine without them, or at least without the universal application of them. It depends on build, coordination, tactics, luck (actual rolls) and playstyle as well as just the numbers.
I actually like the two defender set up we have right now in one group I am playing with.  The fighter usually tries to tie down one or two enemies in the middle while my paladin pushes through with divine pursuit in the first or second round to take on any ranged guys in the back.

Possible future labs for people with too much time on their hands might be to try out different role ratios.  Charop consensus seems to be you generally want 1 defender, 2 strikers, 1 leader, 1 controller in a 5 man party.  How does a 2 defender, 2 leader, 1 striker party hold up?  How does a 4 controller, 1 leader party do? etc.



I really like the two defender party as well. It's extremely versatile and effective when done properly. I've also played with 1 leader, 1 defender and 3 controllers in paragon LFR and it was actually pretty fun because there were 9 Wizard Dailes in a set encounter module. I'd hate to try that at low heroic though.

As far as the "math tax" feats, I'm thinking that means Expertise, Focus, and some kind of defense suite. Having spent so much time with the numbers recently, I can give the following observations:

1) Expertise: Absolutely necessary at high levels: Not even close. In Round 1 of Morbid Curiosity vs. MM3 monsters, the Binder doesn't banish the Brute blocking the door without expertise, and the Vampire doesn't nuke the Yuan-ti without it. Those were the two encounter-changing events. In the Ogremach fight, they almost never hit his AC 50.

You can argue that PCs would be able to grind out wins without the Expertise feats. That's true, but then PCs are grinding out wins. The fights were fun and quick, and I'd rather keep it that way.





1) Expertise raises the probability, but its success is still determined by a random number generated by a d20. No amount of optimization can counter a 1. Also, characters in a vacuum of even a single party set up run a few times even repeatedly make for an interesting control group, but do not account for the variables that actually happen in a game involving different individuals.



This point is relatively invalid. No amount of optimization can count a one, but the opposite is true to. A wizard could have an INT of 8 and still hit on a crit. You can hit on an additional 3 sides of a d20 with expertise. Almost nothing has that great an impact on you to-hit. You could look at any of these tests and remove attacks that would've missed with 3 less attack bonus. It's all pretty substantial, and this is backed up with my LFR experience.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!

As far as the "math tax" feats, I'm thinking that means Expertise, Focus, and some kind of defense suite. Having spent so much time with the numbers recently, I can give the following observations:

1) Expertise: Absolutely necessary at high levels: Not even close. In Round 1 of Morbid Curiosity vs. MM3 monsters, the Binder doesn't banish the Brute blocking the door without expertise, and the Vampire doesn't nuke the Yuan-ti without it. Those were the two encounter-changing events. In the Ogremach fight, they almost never hit his AC 50.

You can argue that PCs would be able to grind out wins without the Expertise feats. That's true, but then PCs are grinding out wins. The fights were fun and quick, and I'd rather keep it that way.





1) Expertise raises the probability, but its success is still determined by a random number generated by a d20. No amount of optimization can counter a 1. Also, characters in a vacuum of even a single party set up run a few times even repeatedly make for an interesting control group, but do not account for the variables that actually happen in a game involving different individuals.



This point is relatively invalid. No amount of optimization can count a one, but the opposite is true to. A wizard could have an INT of 8 and still hit on a crit. You can hit on an additional 3 sides of a d20 with expertise. Almost nothing has that great an impact on you to-hit. You could look at any of these tests and remove attacks that would've missed with 3 less attack bonus. It's all pretty substantial, and this is backed up with my LFR experience.



Except if you play an effect-cleric :D

Chauntea/Lathander/Torm Cleric since 1995 My husband married a DM - καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/14.jpg)

Point to you Naus. Always finding some case where my logic is flawed, usually with a cleric or a wizard :P
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
No amount of optimization can counter a 1.


Being an Elf can counter a 1 once per encounter.  Several items give daily rerolls.  Various feats and powers have miss damage and miss effects.  Rolling a 1 on the key attack power definitely IS something you can optimise against.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
One reason I like Harbinger of Doom is that it does optimize against rolling ones.

As far as the "math tax" feats, I'm thinking that means Expertise, Focus, and some kind of defense suite. Having spent so much time with the numbers recently, I can give the following observations:

1) Expertise: Absolutely necessary at high levels: Not even close. In Round 1 of Morbid Curiosity vs. MM3 monsters, the Binder doesn't banish the Brute blocking the door without expertise, and the Vampire doesn't nuke the Yuan-ti without it. Those were the two encounter-changing events. In the Ogremach fight, they almost never hit his AC 50.

You can argue that PCs would be able to grind out wins without the Expertise feats. That's true, but then PCs are grinding out wins. The fights were fun and quick, and I'd rather keep it that way.





1) Expertise raises the probability, but its success is still determined by a random number generated by a d20. No amount of optimization can counter a 1. Also, characters in a vacuum of even a single party set up run a few times even repeatedly make for an interesting control group, but do not account for the variables that actually happen in a game involving different individuals.



This point is relatively invalid. No amount of optimization can count a one, but the opposite is true to. A wizard could have an INT of 8 and still hit on a crit. You can hit on an additional 3 sides of a d20 with expertise. Almost nothing has that great an impact on you to-hit. You could look at any of these tests and remove attacks that would've missed with 3 less attack bonus. It's all pretty substantial, and this is backed up with my LFR experience.



No one is talking about a Wizard with an 8 Int. But a Wizard with a 16 starting Int vs. 18 Starting Int is only one off. The thing is that there's a lot of ways to get a +3 bonus difference, especially among weapon users in melee. Charging a dazed target? +3, etc. It's generally in the second-half of a character's career where defences get scaling up more.

Enemies also. The difference between hitting on a 4 or a 7 you probably won't notice very often, but the difference between hitting on a 13 or a 16 is huge in a semi-"normal" roll distribution.

The other thing is pointing to Expertise as a "+3 bonus". Yeah, +3 is pretty big, but that's not until Epic that it reaches that point. The +1 through heroic is definitely a nice perk, but it's really not seriously changing things generally until around mid-paragon at the +2 level.
Point to you Naus. Always finding some case where my logic is flawed, usually with a cleric or a wizard :P



Probably because those two are the only classes i know... except maybe for ranger and invoker

Chauntea/Lathander/Torm Cleric since 1995 My husband married a DM - καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/14.jpg)