My Party Hates Leaders! Help

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I've playing with a steady group of d&d players and it has become very apparent that no one wants to play a leader. We have a 5 person group (not including the DM) and although two people started in the leader role we allowed everyone to reroll after level 1 (once everyone had figured out how 4e worked) and all of our leaders wanted to reroll to non leaders. Since then we've played a side party (for variety) and had an open session (where some of our friends who don't normally play got to try it out) and so we've ended up trying out 4-5 different leaders and 20 or so total characters. Everyone who has played a leader has either ended up switching or, in the case of the dropins, commented that they wished they played something else. I asked several people why they felt this way and everyone seemed to agree: leaders don't feel useful on easy/medium fights...

We've been following the DMG suggestion of 1-2 hard encounters out of 8-10 encounters per dungeon and everyone seems to feel this is a good balance. However, the truth is that there is almost no risk of anyone dying in easy to medium encounters with or without a leader. This leads to the problem that leaders don't feel that useful in such encounters. In an easy/medium encounter the goal is to kill everything quickly while not wasting long term resources such as dailies or healing surges. While a leader might help prevent the party from taking damage (saving healing surges), simply killing things faster has the same effect (in a more satisfying feeling way). In hard encounters, the resource saving power of a leader is much more powerful since your resources are much more limited in a single encounter. But being valuable in 20% of encounters is simply not enough..

In an easy encounter:
A leader misses frequently (as much as 50% of the time) while doing minimal damage to a single target. The target is often weak enough and dies fast enough that the applied debuff often has little effect. A 50% miss chance means in 50% of the rounds, the leader had literally no effect on the battle. And leaders usually don't do much outside of their turn.
A striker hits much more frequently while doing significantly more damage. To our leaders this seems better in essentially every way for easy encounters.
A controller attacks multiple targets a large fraction of the time. Since it is attacking multiple targets, it has a much higher chance of hitting something and will, on average, do more damage. Once again this seems better in every way.
A defender has the same low hit chance and single target capability as a leader. However, their marking ability often gives them out of turn attacks. The fact they are marking things means they are attacked more often (meaning they get to do more outside their turn). And their positioning and coordination seems to more important. I would have expected defenders to have some of the same problems as leaders (within our group) and it is true we've had fewer people chose to play defenders, but they've been happier with their choice than when they chose a leader.

I don't mean this to be just a complaint. We can design dungeons and encounters around a party with no leaders and we've had one party play with a sentinel (the least leader-like leader) and one with a cleric-wizard hybrid. However, I was hoping you guys could help me with 2 things....

1) Is there a good way to design easy/medium encounters where a leader is more useful (the way high minion encounters are controller centered, solo encounters are striker centered)?

2) Any recommendations for a good high damage/hit or AOE leader?

Thanks in advance.

One of the good things about 4E is that you don't have to have leaders or any other role.  DMs can adjust encounters and PCs can heal themselves enough to get by, plus other classes have minor leader things they can do.  They are very useful to have however, and usually the last role I want to go without in a party.  I don't know much about encounter design so I can't help you much there.

One of the main things leaders should be doing is making sure your strikers and others hit more often (attack rerolls, granting attacks, boosting to hit, or debuffing defenses) or making them do more damage through vulnerability and damage boosts.  They also should have things like mobility boosts to help party members get into better positions.  And they need condition removal.  No other role does condition removal as well as a leader can and barbarian striker that is immobilized (save ends) 5 squares away from an enemy isn't hitting anyone.  A well built leader makes the rest of the party function better at their jobs and acts as a force multiplier.

Many leaders do have out of turn attacks: shamans are build around that as a class feature and warlords and clerics have a good number of immediate attack powers.  There maybe others, but those are 3 I know can do it regularly.  There are several good high damage leader builds: Runepriest can be made fairly high damage.  Templar cleric can be, either as a big weapon wielding battle cleric or as a ranged AOE Radiant/Fire build that exploits vulnerabilities.  Stalker shaman can be made pretty decent damage dealers too.

I am playing a battle cleric right now that does pretty good DPR for a non striker.  Has goliath greatweapon profiency, has all the dragon 400 cleric encounter powers that boost damage with a simple 2 handed weapon, uses unforgetable cudgel, took paragon of victory path, which boosts damage with an action point and gives you a minor action at will attack 1/encounter, and has mc monk for flurry of blows 1/encounter.  He still heals more than enough, debuffs enemies, boosts defenses and offense of allies, grants attack rerolls, occasionally hands out an MBA, and grants plenty of saves.  

The other way to inderectly boost DPR is to play a build, shaman or warlord usually, that focuses on handing out basic attacks to you strikers.
In an easy encounter:
A leader misses frequently (as much as 50% of the time) while doing minimal damage to a single target. The target is often weak enough and dies fast enough that the applied debuff often has little effect. A 50% miss chance means in 50% of the rounds, the leader had literally no effect on the battle. And leaders usually don't do much outside of their turn.
A striker hits much more frequently while doing significantly more damage. To our leaders this seems better in essentially every way for easy encounters.
A controller attacks multiple targets a large fraction of the time. Since it is attacking multiple targets, it has a much higher chance of hitting something and will, on average, do more damage. Once again this seems better in every way.
A defender has the same low hit chance and single target capability as a leader. However, their marking ability often gives them out of turn attacks. The fact they are marking things means they are attacked more often (meaning they get to do more outside their turn). And their positioning and coordination seems to more important. I would have expected defenders to have some of the same problems as leaders (within our group) and it is true we've had fewer people chose to play defenders, but they've been happier with their choice than when they chose a leader.

If the sole metric that your party uses is damage -- which is what it sounds like from the above -- then no role is going to be "better" than a striker.  They do the most damage, period; that's what the role is built for.

Leaders are built as support classes.  They're not designed to attack enemies; they're designed to help their allies attack the enemies better.  Be that through healing, extra attacks, attack bonuses, or enemy debuffs, that's what a leader does.

Now, as GO said, if your party wants to run without a leader, that's fine, but I see no reason why you as a DM has to change encounters to cater to that.  The system is designed so that a well-made party has at least one member of each role, so if they want to run with a different make-up, they should deal with the consequences of that.

There is also the maxim that "strikers wield weapons, leaders wield strikers."  Have them play a build that grants basic attacks and deal with the inevitable arguments with the relevant striker in the party as to who "is responsible for" the damage.  (One of the more ludicrous arguments I've heard regarding 4e play style, but to each their own.)

If they are resolute in their belief that "damage is all that matters," then they're never going to be happy playing anything other than a striker or a blast/burst-controller.  That's certainly a valid way to play the game, but (at least IMO) they're missing a lot of the tactical things that make combat more interesting than a basic "who can do more damage first" grind.
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With a Runepriest (and other leaders as well, but I've played a Runepriest more than any other leader), you should actually ALWAYS feel useful. Even if I miss, my party is reaping the rewards of my rune state (either increasing their defenses or making a monster easier to hit). Believe me, my party loves you (and you feel useful) when you start turning their misses into hits.

Also, if you don't mind not rolling yourself, a Warlord's "Direct the Strike" is definitely useful for the rest of the party (giving your striker an extra attack every round? Yes please).
 
Also one of the reasons I like playing leaders is that they are one of the harder/more interesting roles to play usually.  You have to pay attention to everyone all the time: your party and all the enemies and both have to react to what just happened, while planning for the next rounds buffs.  And pay attention for any opportunity or interrupt powers you may need to use depending on build.

I play high damage strikers only when no one else in the group wants to, since parties need at least one most of the time, and will only play a couple of high damage striker classes in campaigns since I think most high DPR strikers get boring.  I play barbarians and avengers and am willing to try a blackguard, but haven't yet.  I play warlocks and monks too, but those are focused more on control than DPR.

And if you are a power gamer like me you can optimize leaders without worrying as much about outshining the rest of your party.
Thanks for all the responses. I feel like maybe I didn't explain myself very well though. It isn't that people think leaders aren't useful; its that leaders don't feel useful themselves in easy encounters (they feel very useful in hard ones). This may seem like a petty distinction but let me give some examples that will help explain...

1) It is the (ranged) bard's turn. Since it is an easy encounter no one needs a heal (so he doesn't a minor action) and since he is a ranged bard hiding in the back he doesn't really need to move. His standard action is single target "spell" that applies a debuff. He rolls a 9, which misses. The result is, the bard's turn had literally no effect on the encounter

2) It is the warlord's turn. He uses Direct the Strike to have the party's thief make a melee basic attack. The player goes and uses the bathroom, while the thief essentially takes the turn for him.

3) A player is attacked by a monster and that attack would have hit but it ends up missing thanks to the Runepriest's aura. The player playing the runepriest has fallen asleep at the table and doesn't notice the effect his character had.

These examples, while somewhat overstated, are intended to show how the leaders in these situations are useful to the group but the player who is playing the leader doesn't feel like he gets to do much. A lot of his abilities are/feel passive (and everyone would still get them if the leader was being played by a corpse) or have a high chance of having no effect.
#1: This is unavoidable; regardless of class or role, if you miss and there's no effect on a miss and you have nothing else to do, then there's no effect.  Given how D&D has lived off on this particular 'sacred cow' since the beginning, the only workaround is that the player takes powers that have either miss effects, or effects that work regardless if it's a miss or a hit.

#2: Some people find it awesome that one character in the party can, in the long run, cut down encounters by a huge amount by having the most powerful character(s) in the party maximize on each round.  Apparently your group doesn't find this as impressive, so the solution is to simply have those leaders take powers that have others attack instead of them [not that you can't take stuff like Death from Two Sides, which makes you and your ally attack a single target, possibly causing the ally's attack to crit].

#3: Runepriests have only two "auras" -- Rune of Destruction adds +1 to attack rolls, Rune of Protection adds resistance against all damage -- so I'm not sure where this comes from, but this seems to be primarily a player issue, rather than a role issue.

So the problem is that the group wants a leader that's active, and by active you mean "leading the troops by wading in the muck of battle himself".  Melee Bard, Runepriest, Battle Cleric and Warlord builds that are not lazy, seem to be the best recourse in this manner, if anyone is really interested in being the leader.  Heck, I even have a Warforged Artificer build, who is primarily designed to be a striker, and has "leader" stuff as more of an afterthought than his focus (and he primarily heals himself before anyone else, partly due to the fact that he rushes into battle first whenever possible).

Although if all the players dislike the idea of their party members doing better than they are, it's really going to be difficult to make anyone in the group want to play leader...
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3) A player is attacked by a monster and that attack would have hit but it ends up missing thanks to the Runepriest's aura. The player playing the runepriest has fallen asleep at the table and doesn't notice the effect his character had.



If your party doesn't like them, they don't like them.. and there's possibly nothing to be done to make them like them. That being said, I'll speak to your RP example (since I just played one last night). Firstly, the "aura" is the only passive skill a RP has. It's also not that inactive, because it's the RP's player's responsibility to remind other players to take the aura. If he's not tracking them all, the other players won't either. So that, in itself, is active. Also, the runepriest should be on the front lines going toe to toe with the creatures. He needs to hit something to set off any other riders besides his rune state. So he should be attacking every single round and doing respectable damage.

I'll give an example from an encounter last night of two rounds of combat with my level 3 wrathful runepriest:

We drop into a catacomb and are immediately surrounded by monsters. I pop my daily, Rune of Undeniable Dawn to try to pop the surrounding minions. I hit 3 out of the 4 surrounding monsters (no minions) for 19 damage each and set up a sustain minor 3x3 zone of +2 to all defenses for the party. I then action pointed (I almost always go crazy in the first found of combat), and used my encounter, Flames of Purity, to hit two of the monsters again (bad damage rolls, so only for like 11) and also add +3 damage (for a round) to our fighter who was already set up with both of those monsters adjacent to him. Now, admittedly, I just spent a daily, action point, and encounter... but it was pretty danged awesome.

A few rounds later, I was chasing a creature all over the map and hit it with one of my at-wills (word of diminishment). It had hit me once already, so I had a +3 damage from my wrathful hammer. I was also benefitting from having used rune of mending, so I also had +2 damage from that. I then critted and rolled a 5 on my extra d6 for my learning mordenkrad. Total damage for use of one at-will: 29. That's near striker level goodness.

If you only focus on the buff/debuff/heal aspects of a leader, then yes... they can seem boring. But they should all be filling a secondary role as well, whether that's controller (probably not good for your group, since they seem to mainly value doing damage), striker, or defender. So they should be hitting hard or defending well AND handing out your buff/debuff/heal. Not doing one OR the other.

I really like the runepriest. My main problem with him is against mobile/teleporting/shifting creatures because I need to be up close and adjacent. Our last adventure was mainly fey-themed, so it was a little frustrating with all the phasing/teleporting going on.
Just so it's clear: why do you want a Leader in your party if none of the players want to play them?

As was mentioned above, nothing says you have to have someone in every role. Particularly if you have strikers and defenders with good Leader-like secondaries (Paladin, some Barbarian and Fighter flavors, etc), you may not miss them. It seems like the way that you are doing encounter design right now is not making them necessary-rather than change the way you play to make a Leader mandatory, why not just keep doing what you're doing?

Is the worry that they will be needed at higher levels, or that it just gives players fewer options? Do you want them for out-of-combat utility?
You can optimize a leader to be more combat focused, in regards to hit and damage, Therefore, the hit ratio should be comparable to other classes, but you will loose out on the damage in comparison to a striker. Therefore, I would recommend they try a hybrid. You can come up with some interesting combinations like battlemind/shaman, fighter/cleric, artificer/wizard, or even a bard/ardent to mix things up. There is also multiclassing. One of my favorite characters to play was a warforged fighter/cleric based on strength as the primary attribute.

As to players leaving the table, I have seen that for all types of players, depending on their interest in the game. But with any game, you have to mix things up to keep all the players engaged.

Being a leader/healer is a stigma from previous editions of D&D. It is much better then it has been in the past, but if everyone wants to play a striker, then it will be a challenge to survive multiple encounters.
Not to drone on in defense of leaders (but we are in the leader forum), but I would argue against the assertion that leaders should wander away and be disengaged after their turn. In fact, other than defenders (who need to enforce their marks), leaders need to be more engaged during other players' turns to ensure that the other player is taking the buffs/debuffs during his or her turn (which is one of the more challenging aspects of playing a leader: really paying attention during other players' turns and having a good idea of what can be done to help tactically). Most strikers, on the other hand, are very much fire and forget. They do their flashy attacks and damage during their turn, then they wait until their next turn to do something again.
I recommend Killswitch as a leader with high accuracy, solid personal damage, reasons to stay engaged during other turns, and the ability to have an impact on every combat regardless of the difficulty of that combat.

t~
There are two ways that I can think of that can make a leader more interesting and useful in the easy encounters within the guidelines lines you discuss.

1.  Play as a warlord, and when you grant an attack to an ally, actually roll the attack, don't let the player playing the striker do it.  That way, you feel like a striker (or a defender) while still providing the necessary leader abilities.

2.  Play a hybrid leader|xxx where xxx is defender/striker/controller.  A hybrid Avenger|Cleric works really well here, their attack stats line up nicely, and you can get scalemail via Battle Cleric's lore.  That way, in easy encounters, you don't have to worry about providing leader benefits, just Oath a target and wail on it with your Avenger powers (and believe me, you can still provide nice damage as a hybrid Avenger).

When the tricky encounters turn up, you can provide your leader powers (possibly look at getting some nice leadery utilities), and can still output a nice DPR.
Thanks for all the responses. There are definatly some good suggestions I will look more into.
You can also look at encounter design for those easy and medium encounters to make them still fun to play.  It sounds like your groups encounters are mostly 'stand-and-bang' and I agree that can be boring for anyone other than the striker.  Move your monsters around, or use a lurker to get harry the PC's back row.  Leaders often have more to offer than other classes in the skill department, so consider adding the odd trap that needs disabling to the mix.  The leader can roll skill checks to shutdown the zombies spawning from some cripts, while the others work to defend the leader and mop up the zombies already on the loose.  

To make encounters fun, a DM needs to put some lures out there that could open some avenues for fun - the party needs to bite on some of those lures to make the encounter memorable.   
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A leader misses frequently (as much as 50% of the time) while doing minimal damage to a single target. The target is often weak enough and dies fast enough that the applied debuff often has little effect. A 50% miss chance means in 50% of the rounds, the leader had literally no effect on the battle. And leaders usually don't do much outside of their turn.



I was rereading this again and I want to say that a lot of time this is incorrect.  You can easily make a leader more than 50% accurate.  All the leaders I have played have been.  He won't be as accurate as a opted rogue or anything, but my goliath battle cleric is probably at about 65-70% accuracy, with first round attacks at about 90% accuracy.  And for some leaders (clerics are the big ones at this,  but not the only ones) they have a lot of attacks that automatically hit.

And a lot of leader powers, including many at wills and encounter powers, have effects on misses.  Clerics are again the bigs ones on this, but other leaders have at will powers with effects as well.

And do your leaders not have utility powers?  Any that are minor actions or immediate actions?  So that even when they miss with an attack they are still handing out a buff, move, or save or something that round.

And leaders not doing anything out of turn is not correct for the vast majority of builds.  I just checked the compendium and warlords have 47 different immediate powers (note: this is a big reason they are considered the top leader by most of charop, precisely because they are so effective when its not their turn).  And they have things like bravura presense, which grants allies extra attacks out of turn.  Clerics have 18 immediate powers.  Shamans only have 7, but all shamans have an opportunity action attack at will through their spirit.  Bards only have 12 immediate powers, but they have their virtues and those all basically function as immediate powers.
Plus, like any character, the leader can help out in less conventional ways too, like making a new door for allies to pass through instead of the existing chokepoint of a door that enemies are guarding
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57047238 wrote:
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I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
There are definitely Leader builds out there that kick a lot of butt.  However I think the OP's issue with his party members likely stems from the simple fact: Not everyone enjoys playing a support character.  For people who like this sort of play style, like me, half of the fun is making my team mates better.  No one might need a heal, but that doesn't stop you from using powers to increase a striker's damage, accuracy, or things like that.  Even if the encounter is easy, Leaders can help to speed things up.  Perhaps your friends might like a more offensive based leader that gets in close and dirty, like a warpriest or battlefront leader warlord.  Instead of focusing their powers on bigger/more heals, ask them to select powers that reposition allies or increase everyone's offensive power.  Later on if their leaders have trouble with healing they can always retrain some of their feats or powers.

Ultimately 4E is pretty good at not really needing all the roles covered.  Between second wind, healing potions, and other items your party can get by without a Leader.  Particularly if your DM takes that into account when designing encounters.
It sounds to me like the Op's party is coming from a previous edition, and possibly has the attitude that a Leader's job is to be a healbot.

For 4E leaders, healing is secondary. There are very few leader builds that aren't at least half about something other than healing by level 4, and they aren't good leaders for ordinary-size parties; some are barely about healing at all ever. 

Leaders, instead, need to be doing lots of one or more of the following things, usually IN ADDITION to doing respectable damage themselves:
* Enabling - giving their allies extra actions, such as free-action attacks during the leader's turn
* Buffing - giving their allies bonuses to hit, to damage, or to defenses
* Pinatas - hanging prizes on enemies, to be collected by whichever ally hits the adorned enemy first
* Controlling - all the stuff single-target controllers do to their targets 

These (and the damage) usually will require that the leader actually hit the target. Even when that isn't strictly required, the effect of hitting is almost always better than missing. The primary to-hit stat is at least as important for most leaders as it is for a striker, and very often more important because a single miss represents a greater reduction in the damage the party does to the enemy that round.

Am I serious, that leaders need to hit more than strikers do? Typically, if a Ranger misses, he misses - big deal, a two-weapon or archer Ranger should be doing at least two attacks every round, so he probably doesn't even lose his Quarry damage. If a Warlord misses (and given some prior circumstances), he misses, he fails to give all his allies a nice damage bonus against the same target for a round, and he fails to give the Ranger an immediate free MBA against the same target. Yeouch.

So - aside from lazy builds (don't roll to hit) and slasher builds (may roll to hit but don't actually care if they hit, and I don't recall seeing a slasher leader build) - the leader should ALWAYS go for a high to-hit stat. Probably at least 18 at level 1 in most cases.
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It sounds to me like the Op's party is coming from a previous edition, and possibly has the attitude that a Leader's job is to be a healbot.

For 4E leaders, healing is secondary. There are very few leader builds that aren't at least half about something other than healing by level 4, and they aren't good leaders for ordinary-size parties; some are barely about healing at all ever. 

Leaders, instead, need to be doing lots of one or more of the following things, usually IN ADDITION to doing respectable damage themselves:
* Enabling - giving their allies extra actions, such as free-action attacks during the leader's turn
* Buffing - giving their allies bonuses to hit, to damage, or to defenses
* Pinatas - hanging prizes on enemies, to be collected by whichever ally hits the adorned enemy first
* Controlling - all the stuff single-target controllers do to their targets 

These (and the damage) usually will require that the leader actually hit the target. Even when that isn't strictly required, the effect of hitting is almost always better than missing. The primary to-hit stat is at least as important for most leaders as it is for a striker, and very often more important because a single miss represents a greater reduction in the damage the party does to the enemy that round.

Am I serious, that leaders need to hit more than strikers do? Typically, if a Ranger misses, he misses - big deal, a two-weapon or archer Ranger should be doing at least two attacks every round, so he probably doesn't even lose his Quarry damage. If a Warlord misses (and given some prior circumstances), he misses, he fails to give all his allies a nice damage bonus against the same target for a round, and he fails to give the Ranger an immediate free MBA against the same target. Yeouch.

So - aside from lazy builds (don't roll to hit) and slasher builds (may roll to hit but don't actually care if they hit, and I don't recall seeing a slasher leader build) - the leader should ALWAYS go for a high to-hit stat. Probably at least 18 at level 1 in most cases.



Well, the OP did state that some of his problems actually included enabling and buffing *points at the issues where the warlord goes to the bathroom while the rogue rolls his attack, as well as where the runepriest's player fell asleep and not noticing that his buff caused an attack against an ally to become a miss*

I'm thinking that the problem isn't what leaders can provide, but how players actually play the role; personally I'd recommend a more striker-y, or maybe controller-y, leader... and actually I might even recommend a class that's weak at leading (as in rudimentary heals and buffs), and strong in striking.

Hence, the Runepriest or non-lazylord suggestion; heck, lazylords seem to be the very build that makes the leaders' players dislike the role, because even if they're the most pro-active and arguably(?) best leader build, it's the team that's making the rolls, and not the PC himself.

Here again is how I analyze their group's perception regarding leaders (correct me if I'm wrong):
* tracking conditions is a pain, and although leaders can grant bonuses or penalize enemies in truckloads resulting in everybody just about always hitting or dealing hefty amounts of damage, it effectively slows the game whenever the math is done.  Circumventable in the right group or setup, but the way I see it, their group isn't the type to deal with that much trouble.
* players want to make their own rolls.  Free attacks get love from their allies, but the leaders' players themselves?  Not as much love.  In this situation, it's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't", because apparently either [some] leaders don't get to give their buffs on a miss, or they don't make the attacks themselves.  Only solution is to make a leader that makes attacks and have effects on a miss, or at least boost leader accuracy significantly.  Hence, Warpriest is a good candidate for the group (although Runepriest works as well).

As the OP mentioned, it's not that the party per se hates leaders, it's just that the leaders' players don't appreciate actually playing one.

- - - - -
Here's one more suggestion for the OP: try making a Leader Character Companion (see Dungeon Master's Guide 2), for the players to play during combat.  It's super-basic healing (2/encounter heal), basic attacks, 1 at-will, 1 encounter, and 1 utility power.  Maybe that's what your party could make use of
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
A huge part of Leaders that I think gets missed (by people who don't want to play leaders, players who aren't as experienced, and people who tend to be offense-oriented) is the round where the defender is able to mark many enemies at a time (and by Paragon, each defender should probably have one). It's at that time where a good leader with a strong defense boost can turn some hits into misses, or even make enemies decide to disobey marks on the defender and get punished.
1) Is there a good way to design easy/medium encounters where a leader is more useful (the way high minion encounters are controller centered, solo encounters are striker centered)?

It depends on the leader.  A Bravura Warlord, for instance, can be a sort of 'combat accelerator,' giving out extra attacks to strikers and triggering mark-punishment for defenders (and getting himself beat in the process), a very different feel than the sorts of leaders you've tried, and maybe one that'd fit your style. 

For a Cleric, undead particularly highlight the Cleric's secondary controller function, and their radiant vulnerability also makes the Cleric a stronger damage-dealer.

For leaders that heal, efficient focus-fire on the part of the monsters /can/ bring a PC down.  Everyone doesn't feel scared when the monsters are concentrating on only one, but that one will apreciate the Leader's help.

Hard-to-hit enemies or hard-to-hurt (resistance, high hps) enemies can highlight leader buffs to attack or damage.

For leaders that grant saves or save bonuses, a few nasty conditions inflicted early in the combat, preferably by encounter powers, so they don't just keep getting re-aplied.

2) Any recommendations for a good high damage/hit or AOE leader?

The spread between classes as far as hitting is concerned shouldn't be that great.  A warlord designed to hit well will be 1 point of attack bonus behind a Fighter designed to hit well - and he has a few more non-AC-targetting attacks than the Fighter - he can hit just as hard as the fighter, too, he's just not as durrable.   A Cleric or Artificer or Bard designed to hit well will be hitting as much as any other implement-user.   Clerics were good AoE (secondary controller) leaders, prior to the Templar nerf - they're still not /bad/, but the cleric seems to be returning to the 'healer' role.  Then there are 'lazy' builds, which don't sound like your style, but leverage other characters' attack abilities to hit very well and very hard, indeed - by proxy (the action economy impact is the same, though, FWIW).

 

 

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This may not be for everyone, but in one group I play in, one person plays two characters...his main, and heal monkey.  I know, seems like a lame artifact of the system, but it works.
In my current party my warlord stands beside my palladin as a form of "off tank" also when there is little for him to do he throws rocks slowy griding away at a monster in a fun way.
My first healer was a shaman. Having a spirit companion is awesome and because you focus on positioning both yourself and your pet, you feel like you do more. Also, you can get quite a few zones, which makes it pretty awesome if you have lots of forced movement in your party.

I had a runepriest/fighter that was pretty awesome. I was an off-tank/off-healer and one of our strikers just multi-classed and helped back me up when we really needed the healing. 

I imagine a Warlord in a melee heavy party would enable huge amounts of damage. Even if you don't do the damage directly, you increase the party's damage and get to shout at people to do things all the time :P

While I don't know much about bards or artificers, I imagine they can be really fun to RP and that might make up for it. We've never really had a useful controller, but my the fact that my Psion had ridiculous cha and bluff made her fun to play (she also had a fun personality). Like they say, put enough ranks in bluff and you don't need combat skills. 
Get a leader with more interupts (precient bard for example).

It will help them pay attention, and they'll know they made a difference, since they can actively change miss to hit, or vice versa.

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.

I'm usually a striker guy, my first 4e character was a ranger, and I recently replaced it with a sorc.  Everytime I try to build a wizard it looks crappy at control because i am too easily seduced by the damage powers.  So, bringing pain to the enemy is what I prefer to do.

On nights where everyone can't make it, our group tends to just run combat encounters in various dungeon delves.  These nights, I usually run the leader...at first because well, I didn't have anything I really wanted to test out, so I just volunteered to take heals so everyone else could test out the classes/combos they wanted to try.

Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually enjoyed my cleric(s).  the first one I tried was a drow melee based cleric.  She certainly wasn't optimal, but performed very well.  I played her again in the next delve, and once again, had a positive experience.  Damage was ok...not spectacular, but ok (this said by someone who's all about strikery damage goodness) and I was far more busy then when I played my ranger. 

With my ranger, I was likely to hit the can and tell someone to "just roll for me if I wasnt back before my turn, I'll be twin striking anyways...check power cards for my numbers, and don't forget to roll my quarry dice", but with the cleric I was constantly busy, trying to keep track of everyone's health...I liked it enough to build myself a ranged cleric when I switched to sorc and found that I kinda like standing in the back and blasting away.  I really like my ranged cleric too, in fact I just tweaked it a little bit this weekend, and pumped up my to hit and damage bonuses a little more (told you I am a striker at heart) and am kind of excited to see what it can do for the next delve.

the tl;dr version is that leaders in 4e are only as boring as you make them be.  the key for people that don't like them is to identify what about them they don't like, and build them to play in a different manner.  IMHO, Leader is one of the most versatile roles out there.  You just have to find the right build for you.
Rather than fighting the power, by making your campaign more leader needy, perhaps you should let your next contestant actually aim for a more strikery leader. If you're in heroic, the skald seems like it might work. Just focus on improving the accuracy and damage of the MBA, so that in low intensity encounters the skald can just focus on striking. With the skald in particular all the leadery attack benifits will still apply. Lead by hitting and doing damage.

If your campaign is in paragon, a twin-striking half-ef Valorous/Daring Blade would accomplish the same end. Pure damage in the easy encounters, healing and buffing on call in the harder encounters. 

I feel like it'd be better to try to build a leader type that let's the player contribute the way they want to contribute than "re-educate" them as to wonderfulness of the dedicated leader. 
Meh, while my group might be a fan of the dedicated non-attacking leader, I myself wouldn't want to play one, which is why I prefer the more striker-y or defender-y sorts of leaders, or the CHAladin, which is leader-secondary
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
As has been said, the role of the leader is to provide buffs and debuffs (and sometimes double as a defender and/or healer) while the rest of the party engages in their more obvious roles.

That said, it's obviously more difficult to play leaders than non-leaders. But it can also be way more rewarding. I've played every role throughout the years, and I can say without a doubt that leader has been the most fun for me. It can also be the role with the most diverse and versatile possibilities for growth if you know how to play it.

In my latest campaign, I'm playing Mervain Baumeister, a dwarf artificer who is at level 12 and has chosen the self-forged paragon path. His at-will attacks deal a petty 1d8+7 damage when they hit (which isn't very often), and even his mighty battlefist is no match for our assassin's 50-damage–per-turn at-will powers, but if it weren't for Mervain's thunderclap armour and static shell powers even the minotaur warden in our party might have fallen by now. The party would have half the magic items it has if it weren't for Mervain's enchant magic item ritual; he's even made himself en entire item set, since we're playing a relatively-low-trasure campaign where the prize for killing monsters is staying alive, not stealing a ton of gold and magic items. And not to brag, but Mervain is the character with the best though-out background and one of the best thought-out personalities in the whole party.

One thing that I believe is necessary for artificers to be fun is to forget all about optimisation and focus only on flavour. I'm sure there are better familiars than the warforged faceplate (although making it impossible for monsters to surprise you while you sleep is pretty cool), and there are probably better paragon paths than self-forged if you want to have a ton of defence and deal decent damage, but those are the natural choices for a character whose life goal is to understand the workings of the universe, advance science and technology and transform himself (and maybe others) into a bionically enhanced humanoid. Since artificers use intelligence for everything, the obvious choice is to select a race that gives +2 int, but I find dwarves to be much more fun than, say, devas or githyankis. Most of Mervain's powers and feats have been chosen with little optimisation in mind and with the character's goals and personality in mind (for instance, his level-1 daily power is obedient servant instead of, say, caustic rampart or life-tapping darts; Mervain likes to build things and tinker with mechanical stuff, not destroy his enemies).

I've shown how much fun an artificer can be, but other leaders are also great if you're more for roleplaying than for high damage and invincibility. My ex-girlfriend used to play Geunglich, a dwarf warlord who was the princess of a kingdom in the mountains. She did get in some pretty decent damage when she hit, but she was by far one of the least effective monster killers. We had a healer in that party (it was a pretty optimised tiefling cleric), and the defender (a dragonborn paladin) often doubled as a healer, especially when the tiefling botched her attack rolls and left our halfling rogue with negative hp after having expended all of her healing powers, so Geunglich had little to do protecting her allies. But her personality was awesome and the way my ex roleplayed her was a true pleasure to watch. Any leader can be cool.

To summarise, the great thing about leaders is their roleplaying potential. They are the characters who are the most fun to play and also the most relatable in any D&D campaign that focuses on roleplaying at least as much as on killing things and stealing their treasure. The striker's role is to kill, kill, kill; to me, that's as boring as D&D can possibly get (and yes, I have played strikers and enjoyed it, especially when they're chaotic evil). The defender's role is basically to stand in the monsters' way and take damage for long enough for the other characters to get their attacks in (the defender can also get the occasional high-damage hit in and double as a healer, especially when it is a paladin, but still). That's a little more interesting but still too combat-oriented for my taste. The healer is still better, but his role, obviously, is to keep the rest of the party alive, so there's limited potential in that. The controller can be awesome in combat and very cool out of combat; I'd say that he has the most versatility and potential outside of the leader. But the leader can literally be anything and do anything. Try explaining that to your players and see if that makes them like leaders better.

Cheers.
start throwing them versus some leaders in some of their encounters.



Ive seen this many times where a party just relies on damage, you just end up with games that are one big fight. Your supposed to challenge your players not cater to them.



I think it may have already been stated, but:

If you have a party that REALLY focusses on damage dealing, then I'm sure one of them will find a Warlord a very appealing option. I find players REALLY like the idea of a Warlord if you explain to them "A warlord can control the other party members". People who are more focussed on combat often love the idea of being able to move other PCs around and "commanding" (wording is important) other PCs to attack. On top of this, a Warlord can also be built to be a strong attacker, no problem!

Also, as someone had mentioned, Runepriests are incredibly useful, and ALSO focus on Strength for their attacks, so I see no reason why that wouldn't be a viable option as well.

Also, another option, if the party is mostly focussed on damage dealing and you find they don't need full leader capabilities (as some mentioned, a lot of other classes have leader-ish qualities) then perhaps suggest hybriding? They will only have one use of their healing power, but if that is enough then they could easily hybrid with a strike (Bard/Warlock, perhaps?) or any other role for that matter, and at least then there will be some leadership.
Or, at the very worst, one of them could multiclass to Skald or Shaman (or each of them multiclass to one of the said leaders), to grant the party 1/encounter healing Skalds or Bards with Skald Training might be up their alley too, assuming they utilize basic attacks and power-swapping with other classees to max out the damage :D
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging