Optimizing vs minions

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So, we've had a few things going recently where people gave actual examples, and either they themselves (in labs), or other people optimized parties around those particular examples.

What I would like to suggest is:  Optimize a party given that your DM likes 'movie' style campaigns.  Which means, for most encounters, your enemies go down the moment you hit them, and only named bosses take longer to die; similarly, this DM likes low level monsters so that he can replicate the 'storm of bullets' feel in a movie - even with 30 guys shooting machine guns at the hero, nothing ever seems to hit them.
To start this off I present encounter 1:

Level 18 party.
Level 21 encounter.

Encounter is set in a rolling plain - the parties may choose where to engage the bad guys, as the bad guys (the first contingent of an invading army) believe themselves unstoppable.  Thus you may place any low cover bushes/trees on the map, as well as low (up to 10' tall) hills.  Against medium sized opponent's, these hills can block line of sight.  The area of the encounter will be several hundred squares in all directions; the party can choose to start as close or as far away from the closest enemies as they would like.  There will be no terrain powers or hazards (unless the party chooses to add some, but be aware that the monsters might try to use them too).

The enemy:
1 level 18 solo soldier, with a leader aura that boosts minions within the aura (specifically it boosts their attack and defenses).  The aura has a range of 100 squares.
76 level 8 minion soldiers (this is the equivalent of 4 level 18 standards); any of their attacks that hit increase the damage that other minions do against that target until the end of the next turn.

The solo is based around the Chuul - but it is on a 40' base, and is 40' tall.  It has threatening reach 8.  The Chuul has a recharge power to allow it to triple it's speed, and it gains damage reduction equal to the number of allies within it's aura.
The minions are lizardmen armed with axes and greatbows; thus they are effective both in melee and at range.  More minions will continually appear on the battlefield, from any direction, as the rest of the army tries to catch up with the Chuul, and scouts report back to the group accompanying the Chuul.

Obviously the Chuul has been laying waste to the outskirts of whichever empire the players call home; the PC's have finally managed to track down the Chuul and now must stop it before it reaches the next city.

The encounter is designed as a starting point towards an epic campaign, and thus the Chuul is designed to feel like an epic threat.


The contest is to build a party to defeat this challenge, and then go on to defeat several other encounters; most of the other encounters will be in very enclosed spaces, so while you can choose to build an entire party that has spent enough resources on flight to make this encounter negligible, that would probably result in too much lost resources for later encounters.  The follow-up encounters will have to do with finding out where the Chuul came from, how the lizardmen control(led) it, and why the lizardmen (after 100's of years) have suddenly attacked the empire.

Flame Tongue Weapon + Magic Missile.

Edit: And the Lightning Fury PP.

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.

Isn't there a "make an attack against everything you can see" combo?
My Works
My House Rules Cryptic Commander: a Tiefling Wizard|Warlord - Arcane Wayfarer - Planeshaper that focuses on controlling every creature in an encounter. Feyknight: A Half-Elf Knight - Gladiator Champion - Marshall of Letherna build that uses Eldritch Strike and the White Lotus Riposte feats to create a decent catch-22 with his mark aura. Novamancer: a Wizard/Swordmage - Malec-Keth Janissary - Radiant One that specializes in area damage, somewhat item dependent but is capable of massive damage. the Epic Crit-Fisher: Avenger/Ranger-PMC-Eternal Seeker with a 2,560 damage crit-fishing nova. Eldritch Slayer: A Slayer - Kulkor - Destined Scion that uses a similar trick to the Knight, combined with Kulkor for some decent DPR. Polearm Seeker|Fighter: A Seeker|Fighter/Psion - Kensei - Destined Scion build that uses Polearm Momentum to not be super bad. Generic Runepriest: A generic type Runepriest/Fighter - Hammer of Vengeance - Destined Scion
One does not
111819409 wrote:
99856009 wrote:
by RAW, you can't horse into the forge of the dawn titan.




...Couldn't resist.


The solo's damage reduction is not part of the aura; it simply has the same range as the aura.  Suppressing the aura will make the minions almost completely useless, but will not let you kill the solo.  For similar reasons, Ligntning Fury PP won't work against the solo; if you can come up with an efficient way to get minions near him it would work for them.
Dismissal? Vestige of the unknown arcanist? Make solo disappear?

Infernis
Just to clarify: the point of this thought experiment is to optimize killing large numbers of minions without getting wrecked in the process.  To erachima, you are right about what I said; that's why I clarified what I meant.  I know perfectly well that any party can destroy a solo no problem - I want to see a party that can handle 76 minions and still have enough left to handle a solo no problem.  Considering a solo can easily be killed with at-wills, I don't believe this is a problem.  

If however you have no interest in doing that, then we will say you are successful in killing a solo (which I already know you can do, because you are a frequent poster on these boards, and I have seen some of your work in the past) and move on.

To those others (and erichma) who might be interested:

Would it be better if I simply remove the solo altogether, and redo the minions levels?  How about if they are just 55 level 14 minion soldiers?


As a final point to erichma: What exactly makes this unplayable?  Would you object to such an encounter in a campaign you played in?  Assuming an online forum where the time it takes the DM to play that monsters isn't a problem, why should this encounter be so bad that you would want to simply ignore the possibility of it's existence?

As a further note on that:  For me, any campaign in upper paragon or epic, should be played in an encounter space of this scale (upwards of 200+ squares of space); usually they would be split between various rooms, not on a huge open plain, but I didn't think of that as being a problem.  Pre-made adventures of these levels, with encounters that are in one room (even if totally interesting) always feel limiting to me.  Yes that is a personal opinion, but I'm trying to give some reason why I don't feel the example encounter is out of line.
Take a monk and get dancer on the sea of battle and make an attack agaist every target you are adjacent too when you shift your speed...
Alrighty, I see your point.  In tabletop this could suck if handled incorrectly.  However, the premise is theorycraft - (I had actually forgotten about the various non-free-action attack options on killing - I house rule all of them to be free actions).  Online, in a game where people only post say once a day, assuming the DM has lots of time (which he could, if he's DMing a game in play by post anyway; or even on a maptools type game where he could easily have a computer program to generate all the attacks, the results, and which players were targetted in a few seconds), this encounter doesn't seem nearly as out of the question.

Further, in 3.x, I have successfully ran such encounters (except my original encounter had 1 boss and 850 minions, although the mechanics were house-ruled given that it was 3.x); and not only did the players love them, they talked about them for years afterwards as a huge success.  I most certainly wouldn't suggest such an encounter to a new DM; nor would I suggest it to a DM who was new to his group, as success (as determined by a fun encounter that all involved (players and DM) enjoy) is highly dependant on who you are playing with.

My problem with using the Chuul plus 6 swarms is that any highly optimized party can instantly kill any encounter with numbers on parity with the party (even without any infinite loopholes), unless all the monsters are solo's.  Even if all the monsters are solo's, the party can be optimized to kill at least 2 or 3 before team monster gets to play; and pitting 6 solo's against the party isn't something that CharOp would generally consider reasonable.  Thus I was aiming for something where the absolute damage dealt doesn't matter; rather the number of targets the party could attack mattered.  My level 24 alpha strike party could kill 40 minions per round, and still wipe a solo afterwards; I wanted to see if it could be done with a level 18 party.

 For the above reasons, I was trying to theory craft it; in part to see if I could pull off such a scenario in 4e without killing my party straight out.  I did fail to remember just how much of a difference my own houserules would make for such a scenario; so if no one feels like trying to optimize (without trivializing) this encounter, then I'm sorry; I won't continue the thread.
It's an interesting thought experiment, but I have to agree that in practice this encounter would take a long, long time and get tedious pretty quick.  It's best to go symbolic and somehow lump attacks and hits into groups.  Erachima's idea of using swarms for the army is a pretty good way of doing that.

When you want a "hail of bullets" scenario, you really don't want to be rolling a d20 for every one of those bullets.  It's an opportunity to get creative and think beyond the "i hit each guy until he's dead" type of encounter.
Makes me think of huge Extra-heavy fights in Exalted.

Bargle wrote:
This is CharOp. We not only assume block-of-tofu monsters, but also block-of-tofu DMs.
 

Zelink wrote:
You're already refluffing, why not refluff to something that doesn't suck?
I have a question about the 4 Reaper's axes.  Is there a rules clarification on stacking MBAs on killing one creature.  That seems awfully OP in a lot of situations especially when there are so many ways to change out weapons on the fly. 
oo I actually very much enjoy the off-turn shift next to the next guy and kill him with rain of steel.  it probably wouldn't wipe it in one round, but it would certainly defeat it.  Nice.  

@Scatterbrained:  I actually totally agree - I would never do this scenario without hand-waving a lot of the minions, or having a computer program setup to run them for me so that they would be calculated extremely fast.  In the past, my party also solved it by granting themselves immunity to arrows and then climbing up a tree.  They killed minions (hand-wave several minutes) until the boss showed up; all the minions followed the boss to the tree, whereupon the party did mass aoe (which they had been holding back as it seemed pointless before all 700 remaining minions were clumped, so the minions believed there were no aoe left); then the boss knocked the tree over (which killed the last few minions).  The party were in rough shape, and some had to take time to help each other out from under the tree while the others fended off the boss until finally they could turn and fight as a unit; by this time 2 party members were unconscious from the boss; 3 more (of the 6) fell while fighting, and the archer finished him off while she was at less than 10 hp.  Of course, there were no reinforcements, as I had started with far more than this thread was using.

please note that this is a story, and doesn't reflect optimization at all, and so has all kinds of holes in it that wouldn't work on this board.

As to swarms, they particularly suck if aoe is used on them; since this is an optimization board, one sorcerer (or genasi wizard, or invoker, etc), would probably kill all the swarms without breaking a sweat. Additionally, half damage from melee/ranged really doesn't mean much either if you are doing mass overkill on the level seen on this board.  However, if you were to say give a swarm 1 hp/level (so 18 hp), and make all attacks against them do 1 damage (aoe's do 1/size +1 if burst, so an area burst 1 does 2, a close blast 4 does 4), and misses never hurt them, I might be tempted to do that, as that would replicate my desire to get numbers of attacks out of the party.
Wow, I sure don't know what you're talkning about erachima.
 Also, I think this is being appraoched in entirely the wrong way. I once ran a "massive minion encounter", and my playes loved it to pieces. Anyway, so assume the following: the BBEG has mobilized his army (infinite minions), how many can the players kill before a time limit, say, 20 rounds, runs out. Or rather, how many mobs can the players target (and kill) in that timeframe?
Oh, yes, it's horrendously overpowered and ill-advised. Even just dual-wielding the things is rather pushing it. But it's legal, just like turning your entire XP budget into LVL-10 minions is legal. And if you're asking people to give solutions to situations that are completely outside of the normal design constraints, using only resources available within the written rules, don't be surprised when they're based on elements that are similarly outside of normal design constraints.

I guess here is what I do not understand so if you could help understand I would greatly appreciate it. 

From the compenduim:

some powers and other effects grant the ability to use an attack power (usually a basic attack) as a free action. For example, a character might have two different abilities that let him or her make a melee basic attack as a free action when their respective triggers occur. If both abilities are triggered on the same turn, the character can make only one of the melee basic attacks during that turn.

I freely admit that I am probably missing a part of the puzzle. 
Isn't there a "make an attack against everything you can see" combo?

Combo?  There's a PP with that as it's daily.  Ghost Blade's lv20 Daily was designed for this sort of thing.  Not that that makes it the best way to beat it though, as has been pointed out.  A Lot.
Ways to kill minions: any form of autodamage aura/autodamage in general.  Specifically, things like Rain of Steel stance.

But yeah, this is well outside of normal encounter design, and probably fairly unplayable in practice.  Even the process of rolling attacks versus that many minions would get incredibly dull, incredibly fast.

Honestly, unless the DM is planning some sort of cinematic stuntery based on skills, I'd just refuse to play something so blatantly poorly designed.  However, starting out with a description of that many minions, and running a skill challenge where you mow through them using Athletics, Acrobatics, Arcana, Religion etc etc, for instance, could be quite fun - I've played good cinematic skill challenges representing running battles against waves of well-below-level minions, where failing the skills drains surges.  It's good fun.
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.
There are several abilities that let a striker move through a path and every monster they come in contact with they get a attack against... those would be pretty hefty here.
Instead of starting another thread:

What about the following say as the lead up to the final encounter in an Encounters season (I'm blatantly ripping of Thermopylae here and I'm not an encounters author). Map used is the one for the skeletal/zombie Hold the Gate encounter in March of the Phantom Brigade.

Level 3 Party: XP Budget 1000 (5 PCs, Level +2 encounter)

1 Hobgoblin Commander (200 xp, starts on the battlefield)
1 Hobgoblin Warmonger (175 xp, enters battlefield on turn 3 with the reinforcements)
25 Goblin Snipers (25 xp ea., 9 start on the battlefield with the Hobgoblin Commander, 8 enter the battlefield on turn 2, 8 enter on turn 3 with the Warmonger).

Tactics: The Hobgoblin Commander and 3 of the snipers will attempt to engage the party in melee combat while the rest spread out and rain arrows on the party. As reinforcements pour in, 3 of the snipers will from each wave will attempt to keep the party engaged in melee while the other 5 continue to use their archery. When the Hobgoblin Warmonger arrives he will stay at range if possible and use his Leader ability as much as possible, shooting arrows at party controllers and leaders first, followed by strikers and defenders. Remember the Commander's Lead from the front bonuses.

(I'm going completely from memory for this so I could be off a little bit)
Reaper's axe
When you reduce an enemy to 0 hit points, you can shift 1 square and make a melee basic attack with this weapon. 

Throw that on a warlock with the rod that spreads your curse like a plague then cast that power where all cursed foes take damage.
DPR King Candidates 3.0
How much damage should I shoot for?
You're fired : 1 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .2 KPR Fair Striker : 2 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .4 KPR Highly Optimized : 3 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .6 KPR Nerfbat please : 4 Kills Per 5 Rounds = .8 KPR It's OVER 9000!!!!!: 5 Kills Per 5 Rounds = 1+ KPR
DPR? KPR? KP4R? Bless you
DPR = Damage Per round ~= Chance to hit * damage on a hit KPR = Kills Per Round. 1 Kill = 8*Level+24 damage = DPR/(8*level+24) KPNR = Kills Per N Rounds. How many standards can you kill in N rounds?
You are better off using Swarms of lizardmen to represent the units, or taking a block of monsters (lets say 8), calling them a "Unit", giving them the stats of a normal monster and shared HP.  Throw in a few at-level real minions as screeners, have a solo and a handful of standards (who are made up of 8 minis each and move and fight as a single monster.  When bloodied, half of them can die!).

Seriously its like saying "How do you optimize a level 34 encounter vs. 1000 level 1 minions" - the answer is, you run a freaking skill challenge to approximate the whole fight and narrate it, because the game system is not designed to make that kind of mass combat fun.

Do you want a big, sprawling combat?  Check out DMG 2's rules on allowing the players to gain short-rest-esque benefits in the middle of a fight after key triggers, like defeating an enemy champion or accomplishing an objective.  But you still want to use mostly standards and elites.  Minions seem like a good idea for mass combat, until you realize they either 1) suck or 2) are devestating, with nothing in between.   
I posted this idea in another thread, but how about a party of stealth-locks -- warlocks or hybrid warlocks that maximize stealth and curse invisibly. One or more of the warlocks should use the Aura Killer weapliment or Rod of Absorption. By double moving 2 squares at a time (4 squares each turn) they can maintain 'hidden' until the alphastrike. They don't all have to unleash at once. Each stealth-lock can take cursebite and cursegrind; the Adroit Explorer PP could grant a third 'sweep the battlefied' encounter power, cursebite #2....  These powers are all close burst 20 (21 if using arcane admixture(thunder) + resounding thunder).  On a two-dimensional surface that's 1,848 squares that each power can affect.  Rod of corruption can help spread the curse to sweep over fields of minions like wildfire.  A party of five warlocks could blast 9,240 squares of minions in one round, potentially 27,720 squares over three rounds.  One or more could possibly action point during the same round to make sure the minions go down (but should probably save AP's for the solo to include hitting with the aura killer weapon/rod of absorption).

Note: Close Burst 20 is 41x41-1 squares; Close Burst 21 is 43x43-1 squares = 1848 squares. All assumes a two-dimensional field. In three dimensions one power could affect 79,506 cubes... x3 uses/warlock x5 warlocks = 1,192,590 cubes ;).  Each encounter.
Human Rogue with Pack Outcast, Versatile Duelist, Risky Shift, Reaper's Kopesh (Heavy Blade + Axe)

Lashing Blade (Rogue E7: Make an vs Ref attack vs anyone who starts their turn adjacent to you as an OA).
Move up, Lashing Blade. When you hit with lashing blade OA (with auto-CA from Pack Outcast), you shift 2 and make an MBA. If your MBA misses, when the minion starts its turn, you get a second swing from Lashing Blade. End your shift next to at least 2 enemies at a time, and you'd have cleared 99% of the field by the start of your next turn.

As a I player, I'd just break out a random table of values, call those as my dice rolls, and show them to the DM. Combo stops when I see two adjacent 1's, which is effectively never. Near the end of the sequence, you may even start funneling those MBAs towards the Solo.
Human Rogue with Pack Outcast, Versatile Duelist, Risky Shift, Reaper's Kopesh (Heavy Blade + Axe)

Lashing Blade (Rogue E7: Make an vs Ref attack vs anyone who starts their turn adjacent to you as an OA).
Move up, Lashing Blade. When you hit with lashing blade OA (with auto-CA from Pack Outcast), you shift 2 and make an MBA. If your MBA misses, when the minion starts its turn, you get a second swing from Lashing Blade. End your shift next to at least 2 enemies at a time, and you'd have cleared 99% of the field by the start of your next turn.

As a I player, I'd just break out a random table of values, call those as my dice rolls, and show them to the DM. Combo stops when I see two adjacent 1's, which is effectively never. Near the end of the sequence, you may even start funneling those MBAs towards the Solo.

If there are 76 minions +1 solo equally spread out in a 208x208 square aura, the average distance between the minions is SQRT(208x208 / 77) is circa 22 squares (rounded down) separation between minions.  You might need to do a lot of shifting if the minions are spread far apart.

EDIT: Makes Master of Flame and weapon of summer appealing PP/weapliment add-on's for the stealth-lock party example.. for close burst 22's.  And don't forget salves of power!
Does Rod of Corruption + Rod of Reaving still work? Because that would kill all minions within 5 squares of another minion as a minor action without an attack roll.
The best for this would be the Archlich ED.....


Any large auto-damage zone spell from a wizard would also work. 
The best for this would be the Archlich ED.....


Any large auto-damage zone spell from a wizard would also work. 


Planeshaper's Aura is bigger, but it's secret :D
My Works
My House Rules Cryptic Commander: a Tiefling Wizard|Warlord - Arcane Wayfarer - Planeshaper that focuses on controlling every creature in an encounter. Feyknight: A Half-Elf Knight - Gladiator Champion - Marshall of Letherna build that uses Eldritch Strike and the White Lotus Riposte feats to create a decent catch-22 with his mark aura. Novamancer: a Wizard/Swordmage - Malec-Keth Janissary - Radiant One that specializes in area damage, somewhat item dependent but is capable of massive damage. the Epic Crit-Fisher: Avenger/Ranger-PMC-Eternal Seeker with a 2,560 damage crit-fishing nova. Eldritch Slayer: A Slayer - Kulkor - Destined Scion that uses a similar trick to the Knight, combined with Kulkor for some decent DPR. Polearm Seeker|Fighter: A Seeker|Fighter/Psion - Kensei - Destined Scion build that uses Polearm Momentum to not be super bad. Generic Runepriest: A generic type Runepriest/Fighter - Hammer of Vengeance - Destined Scion
One does not
111819409 wrote:
99856009 wrote:
by RAW, you can't horse into the forge of the dawn titan.




...Couldn't resist.