The Monk Has The Same AC As My Swordmage Defender. Help!

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Hey all,

My level 15 Genesai Swordmage has only managed to push an AC of 35, which is actually what the level 15 monk has. I'm not certain how, but the DM has added up all her bonuses and it's legit.

Maybe it's my time spent in MMOs, but for some reason, me playing a "Defender", yet having the same AC as a Striker feels like a DPS who can't outdamage a tank (IE: totally freakin useless).

My current bonus is derived from the following: 10 +7 Int,+7 Half-Level, +3 Hide Armor (+Armor Prof), +4 Enhancement, +4 Warding (+Greater Warding Feat).

Can anyone help me jack or cheese this up a bit more?
Monks tend to have defender level AC because they are a dex based class with a class feature that gives them +2 to AC in no armor.  Couple that with unarmored agility (another +2), and a parrying dagger, a rhythm blade in the offhand (with the right interpretation/DM), and you can easily have defender level AC with the Monk.

I wouldn't worry about it.  The monk will take care of himself, and you can focus on protecting the more squishy characters in your group!

AC 35 at level 15 is great, as you ideally want to be shooting for your level +18 in AC.  You're two above the Defender Average for that level.
Level+20 AC is great.  Remember that you have substantially more hitpoints/surges and probably better NADs than the Monk, too.
You're also a Defender because you have marking and a mechanism that keys off it.  There's a lot more to being a defender than high AC.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Well, if he weren't more durable than the Monk then the mark wouldn't be very useful.
You should encourage him to take a defender multiclass and then take a little of the heat off of you.  With the right investment most classes can perform the jobs that other classes are supposed to do (ie: a wizard with an 8 int that just charges can do striker damage), but that means that that pc is sacrificing something and will be weak in other areas.  If he is investing lots of resources into having super high ac, that means he likely is losing out on damage.  So rather than think about how to optimize your ac so that he doesn't take your glory, then come up with some other niche now that you have an ally who is defying the glass cannon stereotype.
Monks don't really need to pick up a marking mechanic to do some light off-defendering, imo. All they need to do is win initiative, run right into the middle of the enemy force, and go BOOGABOOGABOOGA!

They're likely to suck up a few attacks. And with defenses that nice, it's good that they do - as a defender you usually don't want to be the only person spending their surges.
Monsters attack at around level+5 vs. AC.  So if you're at level+15, you get hit on a 10.  At level+20, you're getting hit on a 15, and that's pretty good.

So you're fine.   Don't sweat it.

"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

Hey all,

My level 15 Genesai Swordmage has only managed to push an AC of 35, which is actually what the level 15 monk has. I'm not certain how, but the DM has added up all her bonuses and it's legit.

Maybe it's my time spent in MMOs, but for some reason, me playing a "Defender", yet having the same AC as a Striker feels like a DPS who can't outdamage a tank (IE: totally freakin useless).

My current bonus is derived from the following: 10 +7 Int,+7 Half-Level, +3 Hide Armor (+Armor Prof), +4 Enhancement, +4 Warding (+Greater Warding Feat).


Can anyone help me jack or cheese this up a bit more?


Does the monk have a higher primary ability score and a higher level armor? As I see it your swordmage should be ahead by 3 AC: +1 for better AC class feature (+3 swordmage warding vs. +2 unarmored defense , +1 for feat improving your warding, +1 for better armor (hide armor's +3 vs. unamored agility's +2)

If you want to improve your AC further you should get a shielding weapon for another +1

Well, if he weren't more durable than the Monk then the mark wouldn't be very useful.



Well, yes, I agree with you completely.  I just wasn't repeating information that you had already given.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Hey all,

My level 15 Genesai Swordmage has only managed to push an AC of 35, which is actually what the level 15 monk has. I'm not certain how, but the DM has added up all her bonuses and it's legit.

Maybe it's my time spent in MMOs, but for some reason, me playing a "Defender", yet having the same AC as a Striker feels like a DPS who can't outdamage a tank (IE: totally freakin useless).

My current bonus is derived from the following: 10 +7 Int,+7 Half-Level, +3 Hide Armor (+Armor Prof), +4 Enhancement, +4 Warding (+Greater Warding Feat).


Can anyone help me jack or cheese this up a bit more?


Does the monk have a higher primary ability score and a higher level armor? As I see it your swordmage should be ahead by 3 AC: +1 for better AC class feature (+3 swordmage warding vs. +2 unarmored defense , +1 for feat improving your warding, +1 for better armor (hide armor's +3 vs. unamored agility's +2)

If you want to improve your AC further you should get a shielding weapon for another +1



I'm not sure what the monk build actually looks like but an Ironsoul Monk can probably do it.

10 Base
7 Half Level
7 Dexterity
2 Unarmored Defense
2 Unarmored Agility
4 Enhancement
1 Mental Arsenal
1 Iron Parry

That's a 34 AC right there, with one feat and assuming he sprung for a 20 starting dex like the swordmage did with his intelligence.

Other items that can bump that to 35:

- Defensive Weapon
- Whirling Iron Parry (conditional)
- Lion's Den at-will (conditional)
- Boots of the Fencing Master (conditional)
In an MMO, you have tanks and squishies.  You then usually have a bogus Taunt mechanic to get around the limitations of monster AI.

Forget what you know about MMOs - DnD is not an MMO.

In DnD - a Defender is defined by their marking and punishment effects, which impose tactical considerations onto the monster's choices.  This then leads to Defenders probably getting targeted, which then leads to needing good defences and durabilities.

But defence is NOT a Defender only shtick - its just a feature that lets you use your real shtick - the marking and punishment - and survive.  There would be little point if doing your party role got you killed after all.

Most classes, be they striker, leader, or even controller, are quite capable of getting good defences.  And any smart defender WANTS his allies to be well defended, as it actually helps the Defender to do his job while keeping his own defences and survivability high.

Anyway - you've got awesome defence - monks (that do not suck) always have awesome defence.  Everything is as it should be here.
Level+20 AC is great.  Remember that you have substantially more hitpoints/surges and probably better NADs than the Monk, too.



Monk want to fight surrounded, and WOTC designed them for this task, which is right out of martial arts movies.  Monks are unlike any other striker in that regard. 

Monks have good NADs across the board, as they get +1 to all nads and two of the three traditions get a NAD bonus as a class feature.  Monks also frequently get NAD boosting feats, which makes them great.   Iron Soul are a bit of the exception, as they do have a poor NAD like other classes. 

Monks don't really need to pick up a marking mechanic to do some light off-defendering, imo. All they need to do is win initiative, run right into the middle of the enemy force, and go BOOGABOOGABOOGA!

They're likely to suck up a few attacks. And with defenses that nice, it's good that they do - as a defender you usually don't want to be the only person spending their surges.



This has been my experience as well. 

Monks DPR goes up the more enemies surround them, so they want to fight surrounded and two of the three monk traditions have mechanisms to encourage monsters to stay on the monk. 

In an MMO, you have tanks and squishies.  You then usually have a bogus Taunt mechanic to get around the limitations of monster AI.

Forget what you know about MMOs - DnD is not an MMO.

In DnD - a Defender is defined by their marking and punishment effects, which impose tactical considerations onto the monster's choices.  This then leads to Defenders probably getting targeted, which then leads to needing good defences and durabilities.

But defence is NOT a Defender only shtick - its just a feature that lets you use your real shtick - the marking and punishment - and survive.  There would be little point if doing your party role got you killed after all.

Most classes, be they striker, leader, or even controller, are quite capable of getting good defences.  And any smart defender WANTS his allies to be well defended, as it actually helps the Defender to do his job while keeping his own defences and survivability high.

Anyway - you've got awesome defence - monks (that do not suck) always have awesome defence.  Everything is as it should be here.



I 100% agree.  With that said, as a defender playing with a monk, your job is not to defend the monk.  Monks do fine by themselves, if they put any effort at all into their defenses.  Your job is to defend the rest of the party. 

Also, I just wanted to repeat that defenses don't make a defender.  The marking mechanic defenders get is what makes them function as defenders.  

In other words, monks are self-sufficient (or ineffective, or dead).  Monks aren't defenders.    Monks are strikers whose DPR depends on playing as if you were a defender (or simply stupid).

 
Plus as a defender you don't want your defenses to reach into the "Can't touch dis" range, since that gives enemies a massive deterrent from attacking you, regardless of marking or not, unless you have a serious enough mark punishment to discourage that, in which cas, go nuts.
Thank you all for your feedback.

Well, if he weren't more durable than the Monk then the mark wouldn't be very useful.



This gets to the core of my issue. In actuality, the wizard in the party actually only has 1 AC less than me as well. It's a very defensively optimized group. If I'm not significantly more durable than a Striker or Controller in the group, how do I present the enemy with bad options (that seems to be the crux of what a Defender is all about)...  If I mark them, they are 100% likely to try and target me. Why deal with a -2 to hit and a 14 damage shielding Aegis when they can hit me far easier?

My fear is I am going to be hard pressed to offer them a bad decision every turn, given the current make up of the party.

Nonetheless, it seems like everyone is telling me not to sweat it - so it must not be too bad a thing for a Striker to have similiar AC to a Defender. I'll let it go, focus on defending the few other party members I do trump AC-wise. I believe a melee ranger is joining us this next week. Tried one of those before: my AC was pathetic, so maybe his will be too. lol

As said by others earlier, there are two main horns to the 'defender's dilemma' for a marked enemy. Do they violate your mark and suffer the penalties? Or do they waste their time attacking you instead?

Your job as a defender is to make it so that the worse option is nevertheless a bad option.

If your particular party makeup is making the dilemma an easy choice for your enemies - that is, they always opt to attack you because your allies are also very tough - then as you level up and buy new equipment for your PC, you should probably work on making that particular choice less attractive. That is, improve your defenses or durability in general.

A defender in a party of L+18 ACers doesn't need to work very hard to make their marks compelling. But they do need to work pretty hard to be tougher than their party.

Also it's worth reiterating that for most parties, it's a good thing when attacks are split amongst the few tougher party members rather than a single defender. Everyone has healing surges. Unlike in many games such as WoW, strikers and leaders don't insta-gib when a monster looks at them sideways. Their surges are a valuable resource, and if the party has no way to share the surges around, then the only way they'll get spent is by getting hit. If a party ends their adventuring day because one party member is at 0 surges, while everyone else has 80% of their surges remaining, then there's room for improvement - and it doesn't matter whether the character with the 0 surges was the defender or the wizard.
My own experience DMing a shielding swordmage was that he worked best when he dropped his mark and ran away from his mark target. Totally ignored him. This made the marked target have a very rough choice, in that he had to do tactically sucky things ( follow the swordmage around) or not hit well at all. This tended to provoke OAs, cause flanks, and otherwise neuter him. A lot of times he couldn't actually land blows on the swordmage, due to slows, immobilize, prone, or whatever. What if your swordmage is across a wizard created zone from the monk? Where does he go now?
 If I'm not significantly more durable than a Striker or Controller in the group, how do I present the enemy with bad options (that seems to be the crux of what a Defender is all about)...



I can't imagine you not being significantly more durable. How many HP do you have compared to the Wizard? How many Surges? If you compare (Max HP + (Surges Per Day x Surge Value)) to the Wizard, you should come out far ahead.

If you're not, it might also be the Wizard doing it wrong by investing too much into defense, thereby not having enough left to do his own job.

Also shouldn't +4 Hide Armor be Masterwork? 
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 If I'm not significantly more durable than a Striker or Controller in the group, how do I present the enemy with bad options (that seems to be the crux of what a Defender is all about)...



I can't imagine you not being significantly more durable. How many HP do you have compared to the Wizard? How many Surges? If you compare (Max HP + (Surges Per Day x Surge Value)) to the Wizard, you should come out far ahead.

If you're not, it might also be the Wizard doing it wrong by investing too much into defense, thereby not having enough left to do his own job.

Also shouldn't +4 Hide Armor be Masterwork? 



The wizard has 100 hps. The monk has 106. I'm 99% sure both of them have Toughness and Born Under A Bad Sign background perk. I have 107 hps. I have 11 healing surges. I know the monk has 10. Not sure what the wizard has.

In the interest of being 100% thorough, I'ma hybrid SM/Artificer. I know this is a minor surge/hp hit, but the benefits of having an infusion and the extreme mobility + the leadership tools of an Artificer make me extremely powerful.

I'm not too concerned about my overall power - I just wanted to know if it was possible to jazz up my AC and NADs a bit more. I awknoledge that my hps and surges aren't going to be 100% what they could be as a single class defender. 

The +4 Hide was 3, then +1 Feat from Specialization. I apologize for not being clear. I've also retrained out of Greater Swordmage Warding, as the +1 feat bonus to the ward doesn't stack with the gain from Specialization. I picked up Improved Defenses.


Sounds like they are just investing so much in defenses that you hardly need to protect them anymore. Doesn't really sound like your fault then, they could probably drop a few of those defense buffs and focus on their own job instead.
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Sounds like they are just investing so much in defenses that you hardly need to protect them anymore. Doesn't really sound like your fault then, they could probably drop a few of those defense buffs and focus on their own job instead.



Yeah, I found out the melee ranger is gonna have AC 29 I think. We're also having a bard join us, and I doubt his AC is going to be what the monk or wizard's is. I'll have some folks to protect, I think.  
My own experience DMing a shielding swordmage was that he worked best when he dropped his mark and ran away from his mark target. Totally ignored him. This made the marked target have a very rough choice, in that he had to do tactically sucky things ( follow the swordmage around) or not hit well at all. This tended to provoke OAs, cause flanks, and otherwise neuter him. A lot of times he couldn't actually land blows on the swordmage, due to slows, immobilize, prone, or whatever. What if your swordmage is across a wizard created zone from the monk? Where does he go now?



Going to bring attention to this. Swordmages have the advantage of a ranged mark and are frequently served well by marking the biggest bruiser in a group of monsters and then running off to fight the monster's artillary in the back. This would work especially well for marking anyone engaged with the monk! I'll demonstrate:

I'm not sure what tradition the monk is, but imagine he's an iron soul monk for now. The monk has hit the bruiser you've got marked so that monster can't shift. You, the swordmage, are five squares away beating on the bruiser's squishy, artillary back-up (because, hey, ranged mark means you don't have to be near the big guy to neuter him). What does the bruiser do? Ordinarily, he'd like to attack you because your defences are weaker than the monk's (because of your mark), but you're nowhere near him. He can't shift and charge because of the iron soul monk's flurry. So the monster's choice is this...

A) Attack the monk who's rocking at least level+22 to defences. Possibly level+23 depending on your mark. If the monster does hit, you interrupt and tank his damage at the very least! Maybe you have an encounter to use as well. Christ, that sounds like a bad idea...

Or B) Move away from the monk. To do this, the monster eats an opportunity attack from the monk - suffering damage because option A sounds so terrible - and then charges at you. All for a +2/+3 to hit and the promise of putting at least some hurt on team PC.   

Seriously, work with that monk! You could make a pretty dynamic duo.

      
If you're having difficulty pulling off the "mark, then run away" strategy, there are a couple things you can do:

1. Grab Armathor's step as your L6 utility.  This makes the "run away" part tactically a lot easier.
2. Grab White Lotus Riposte (don't bother with White Lotus Master Riposte).  Swordmages have so many excellent interrupt encounter powers that you should be spending your standard actions on at-wills a lot.  WLR is at worst an extra disincentive to attack you and at best +stat damage to at-will attacks.
+1 to AtG's suggestions on tactics. This is very much what our swordmage did.

1) mark
2) move away (often via teleport) leaving the target to the striker(s)
3) use swordburst/booming blade/lightning lure + WLR against some other squishy in the back field
4) marked target is neutered, squishy is in serious doo doo

and yes, the interrupt thing was a big deal. He was regularly interrupting my everything.

swordmage is a kind of strange class. I think it's fun, but it's definitely odd.
By the way, if you are using Booming Blade then the feat Rose King's Shield is just fantastic and another way to increase your durability relative to your teammates.  (It also really improves your surge efficiency.)
You could also take advantage of the party's high defense by debuffing monster accuracy.  If you don't already have one, a Githyanki silver sword and the psychic lock feat could inflict a -2 to enemy attacks in addition to your mark.
Interested in a rambling collection of game ideas? Check out Schemes of the Dancing Chimera.
Hey all,

My level 15 Genesai Swordmage has only managed to push an AC of 35, which is actually what the level 15 monk has. I'm not certain how, but the DM has added up all her bonuses and it's legit.

I actually support the notion of parties in which *everyone* has beefy ACs.

For LFR, at least. In home campaigns, DMs will just bring out stronger monsters.

Sounds like they are just investing so much in defenses that you hardly need to protect them anymore. Doesn't really sound like your fault then, they could probably drop a few of those defense buffs and focus on their own job instead.



Yeah, I found out the melee ranger is gonna have AC 29 I think. We're also having a bard join us, and I doubt his AC is going to be what the monk or wizard's is. I'll have some folks to protect, I think.  

A well built and played melee Ranger (by mid-Paragon) really won't need anyone to "protect him," since most enemies he squares off against will just die -- quick.

But melee Rangers and Shielding Swordmages do work well together, since melee Rangers want to be without any other ally adjacent to their target (for Prime Punisher/Called Shot bonuses) and Shielding Swordmages are good at marking and moving away.  So that should be a good set up for you.

Daren