Taxes?

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Hey CharOpers, I never really come here, and when I do Im sure its for a newb question so please forgive me.
I'm a DM and my players are in no way CharOps, we enjoy the story and the excitment but never really looked to much into the balance of the math, trusting it was worked out for us.
So then I read this weekes Rule of Three and followed the talk about feat tax. I love flavorful feats and have always gone with them over combat feats, as characters are combat enough without focusing every single choise Im given to it....

Anyways as a DM I don't want my players to feel like they have to take these feats, or to not know they should, so tell me, What are the feats that are highly suggested to keep the balance and so my guys don't feel like they are falling behind. Ill just give them out for free so please tell me when I should build them in.

Thanks!
In the Nentir Vale, all injured creatures are required to wear a name tag!
Mostly it's about the bad scaling of hit and defenses compared to monsters. As a consequence, the most common feats considered taxes are Expertise feats and Improved Defenses. The quickest solution is to handle them out for free, effectively giving them 2 additional feats (one for defenses and one for expertise).

For a more (imo) elegant houseruling, you can follow this route: as far as Improved Defenses goes, you can fix it giving players a passive +1 increase to all NADs (Fort, Ref, Will) per tier. That is, +1 at heroic, +2 at paragon, +3 at epic. Exactly what the feat does. Then change Superior Fort/Ref/will into a static +1 feat bonus while keeping the secondary (arguably primary) effect, so they can't stack a +4 on top of the "free" bonus you already gave them.
For Expertise feats, given that some have nice riders that seduce players into wanting them anyway, you can either turn them into "Weapon(Implement) Specialization" feats, with only the rider as a bonus (e.g. proning instead of sliding for Flails), or build those bonuses into Weapon (Implement) Focus.
You are probably going to get a lot of varying answers on this depending on the DM/Player. As noted above, the NAD and expertise feats are probably the most commonly accept feat taxes. You can fix them behind the scenes as a DM if you are will to adjust your monster attacks vs NADs and defenses, but giving the feats for free requires less work overall. I give the vanilla feats and if the player wants to spend a feat for one the improved Essentials versions that is up to them. 

Now there are other class specific situations that some people regard as feat taxes, things like Intelligent Blademaster for Swordmages or some of the new Assassin feats.  
Another option is to let players choose a free feat every few levels that has no direct combat impact, as approved by the DM.  This helps flesh out the characters more, without reducing their effectiveness in combat.

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?
Now there are other class specific situations that some people regard as feat taxes, things like Intelligent Blademaster for Swordmages or some of the new Assassin feats.  



Oh, right. Depending on your players, you may want to consider handing out a free pre-nerf Melee Training to each class. That is, make each class able to use a Melee Basic Attack with their primary stat for both hit and damage (Con for Battlemind, Int for Swordmages, Wis for Avengers, etc).

Now there are other class specific situations that some people regard as feat taxes, things like Intelligent Blademaster for Swordmages or some of the new Assassin feats.  



Oh, right. Depending on your players, you may want to consider handing out a free pre-nerf Melee Training to each class. That is, make each class able to use a Melee Basic Attack with their primary stat for both hit and damage (Con for Battlemind, Int for Swordmages, Wis for Avengers, etc).




I generally limit it to weapon based characters. I see no reason a wizard should have a good basic attack by default, but any class whose job revolves around hitting someone with a weapon should be good at it regardless of if they are using a power or not. (Monks get an exception here since they are a weird case.)
Yeah sorry, I thought that was implicit in the Melee part of the equation, but truly it regards weapons in general (and Monks) as opposed to casters like Wizards, Invokers and Sorcerers.
Generally for me to consider a tax its something I think should have been fixed through errata or a new class option because a designer made a mistake and is something that works as a math fix.  By math fix I mean it directly effects the outcome of offensive D20 roles.  Either enemy attacks vs players or players attacks vs enemies.

The scaling +1/2/3 feat bonuses to hit and to defenses and melee training are the big ones.  Those are all something that should have been built into the game and all effect D20 roles.

Individual classes and builds have others.  Con shamans need chain proficiency or else their AC doesn't scale properly. 

There are other feats that charop members recommend everyone take because the shore up a builds weakness and are borderline taxes.  They effect the games math in someway, usually damage, but do not effect D20 rolls.  Something like Mighty Challenge for Straladins or Painful Oath for avengers.  Characters almost have to take these to be effective compared to other similar classes and its significantly harder to play a PC without them.  They won't directly effect how often someone hits or gets hit.
I give my players Melee Training + any single expertise feat at level 1, and then they'll get improved defenses at Level 16. Might lower that to level 6.. we'll see...

I don't think you need to give anything besides those. I will say that giving expertise for free also helps balance out the party, if you have a mix of optimizers+casual players. The casual players don't get left quite as far behind (although the rageblood barb in the party who went 20/14/12 str/con/dex.. he'll be behind. he'll have to learn from that mistake, though).

So then I read this weekes Rule of Three and followed the talk about feat tax. I love flavorful feats and have always gone with them over combat feats, as characters are combat enough without focusing every single choise Im given to it....



"Feat Tax" is a misnomer. You don't need them. The nice thing about D&D is that you, as DM, can decide what you want needed or not. Encounter guidelines are just that: guidelines. If you have players that want fun feats and don't make up for it with tactics, then simply adjust the numbers a bit. Optimizing is just one way to play the game.
Gunthar, your statement is mathematically false.

Also, "no this isn't broken, because you can fix it" is logically unsound.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
So then I read this weekes Rule of Three and followed the talk about feat tax. I love flavorful feats and have always gone with them over combat feats, as characters are combat enough without focusing every single choise Im given to it....



"Feat Tax" is a misnomer. You don't need them. The nice thing about D&D is that you, as DM, can decide what you want needed or not. Encounter guidelines are just that: guidelines. If you have players that want fun feats and don't make up for it with tactics, then simply adjust the numbers a bit. Optimizing is just one way to play the game.



It's not about optimizing, it's about good math or bad math when developing a game. It's a fact that in terms of relative strength PCs fall behind without those feats. If you hit tofu 50% of the time, saying that an epic tofu should be only hit 35-40% of the time is nothing else than a proof of bad scaling design. External factors should make thngs more or less challenging, not a built-in error in the combat tables.

Stuff like Painful Oath is optimizing. Basic optimization, for sure, but Expertise and ID are not even that. They're merely math fixes. Obviously a DM can adjust encounters as he wishes, and most good DMs will always make *some* adjustments because everyone's aim is, ultimately, having fun. But for this kind of math problems, the quickest way is handling it facing what those feats really are: taxes.
It's way, way simpler to just give a free feat or add a built-in scaling to players, than to manually change every single encounter they'll face in 30 levels.
Gunthar, your statement is mathematically false.

Also, "no this isn't broken, because you can fix it" is logically unsound.



A lot of Gunthar's statement didn't involve math. You don't need Expertise and you don't need Improved Defenses.

You do, however, need those feats if, and only if, you want to keep up with baseline expectations about your character's ability to hit and ability to avoid attacks against non-AC defenses without circumstantial modifications.

Most people want to keep up with those things. I know I sure as hell do.

Taxes are requirements. I tend to think of Expertise and Improved Defenses more like the electric bill. You don't necessarily need electricity to survive, but it sure feels like you do, and it makes life a lot more enjoyable.
WotC themselves have admitted, explicitly and repeatedly, that they botched the scaling of player attack bonuses and NADs relative to monster scaling. To claim at this point that feat taxes are anything but taxes is simply false. If you don't pay the taxes, you're not playing D&D as it was designed to be played.

The wisdom of patching their math through feats rather than errata is debatable, but the basic facts of the situation (WotC screwed up the math, and characters without expertise and improved defences fall demonstrably below par relative to monsters as they level up) are not.
True. But by the time they really fall behind in epic, they have access to a minimum of 13 feats. I don't thnk paying taxes with 2 of 13 feats is all that onerous. Most LFR characters seem to be doing just fine without bonus feats to cover these gaps.

I'm sure your players will love you if you give them these bonus feats. But it really isn't necessary - they can afford it.

Where people want the bonus feats to be given out, in early heroic, the math scaling hasn't yet become an issue, and people just want free expertise and improved defenses because feats are very tight at that point.
Another option is to let players choose a free feat every few levels that has no direct combat impact, as approved by the DM.  This helps flesh out the characters more, without reducing their effectiveness in combat.



I actually used this rule in D20:  Every two levels each character got a "Useless Feat", where "Useless Feat" is defined as one nobody ever takes because most characters only got 6 Feats *ever* and there were too many that were absolutely required if you wanted to be able to participate in CR-of-your-level encounters.

Which meant that I had characters who were actually taking stuff like Skill feats - and as a side effect they were able to make characters who might have been able to hold down a day job if they hadn't been an adventurer.

D&D fixed all this so it's not necessary.
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
Gunthar, your statement is mathematically false.

Also, "no this isn't broken, because you can fix it" is logically unsound.



My statement is patently true. There are differing expectations from the game. It's not badwrongfun to enjoy the game on either basis. That's the point. The system is flexible in order to handle multiple playstyles and expectations. I want to play the game as close to what I perceive the designer's expecations for it to be played and form the information at-hand. That's why I take/use them. I don't even have a list of house rules for the game.  

It has nothing to do with "the math".
So then I read this weekes Rule of Three and followed the talk about feat tax. I love flavorful feats and have always gone with them over combat feats, as characters are combat enough without focusing every single choise Im given to it....



"Feat Tax" is a misnomer. You don't need them. The nice thing about D&D is that you, as DM, can decide what you want needed or not. Encounter guidelines are just that: guidelines. If you have players that want fun feats and don't make up for it with tactics, then simply adjust the numbers a bit. Optimizing is just one way to play the game.



This is true in the sense that I could run combat a tad lighter and 'fix' the math, but I like to run my game in front of the screen and when my players find out Im pulling a monster or running combat a bit under their lvl or anything else I would do to easy up on the math they will feel weak and cheated. Not to mention if I give them a feat fix I never have to worry about ajusting encounters again... Set it and forget it!

So with that said, correct me if Im wrong, they need a Wepon expert feat, Improved Defences, and melee training feat, and that should set things right so they never feel like they have to or are highly encouraged to take combat only feats?
In the Nentir Vale, all injured creatures are required to wear a name tag!
So then I read this weekes Rule of Three and followed the talk about feat tax. I love flavorful feats and have always gone with them over combat feats, as characters are combat enough without focusing every single choise Im given to it....



"Feat Tax" is a misnomer. You don't need them. The nice thing about D&D is that you, as DM, can decide what you want needed or not. Encounter guidelines are just that: guidelines. If you have players that want fun feats and don't make up for it with tactics, then simply adjust the numbers a bit. Optimizing is just one way to play the game.



This is true in the sense that I could run combat a tad lighter and 'fix' the math, but I like to run my game in front of the screen and when my players find out Im pulling a monster or running combat a bit under their lvl or anything else I would do to easy up on the math they will feel weak and cheated. Not to mention if I give them a feat fix I never have to worry about ajusting encounters again... Set it and forget it!

So with that said, correct me if Im wrong, they need a Wepon expert feat, Improved Defences, and melee training feat, and that should set things right so they never feel like they have to or are highly encouraged to take combat only feats?



You're wrong, so I'll correct you. Almost every single class/build has access to feats that go beyond this that are so powerful for the class that they are "highly encouraged" to take them.

Lets take tactical warlords for example. They normally give everyone a +2 to initiative. They can take a feat that changes this to +Int mod. This is such a huge swing, so frequently utilized for so many characters (the entire party in nearly every encounter) that there is no way a taclord won't feel "highly encouraged" to take it. Yet it is combat only.

Frankly, most feats they are going to take are combat only. And that's okay.



So with that said, correct me if Im wrong, they need a Wepon expert feat, Improved Defences, and melee training feat, and that should set things right so they never feel like they have to or are highly encouraged to take combat only feats?



You're wrong, so I'll correct you. Almost every single class/build has access to feats that go beyond this that are so powerful for the class that they are "highly encouraged" to take them.

Lets take tactical warlords for example. They normally give everyone a +2 to initiative. They can take a feat that changes this to +Int mod. This is such a huge swing, so frequently utilized for so many characters (the entire party in nearly every encounter) that there is no way a taclord won't feel "highly encouraged" to take it. Yet it is combat only.

Frankly, most feats they are going to take are combat only. And that's okay.




Okay let me rephrase that then.... basic combat that doesn't feel like your class race or theme but is generic combat skill... like a warlord becoming more warlording is great, a warlord making sure his will defence isn't too low doesn't feel cool....

So what are the basic feats that are boring but people take to "keep up"?

In the Nentir Vale, all injured creatures are required to wear a name tag!
I think you're going about this the wrong way. If you want your players to be able to take cool feats that normally wouldn't be taken because of competition with combat feats, then you should grant several new feat slots in which players cannot take combat-only or no-fluff feats.
To talk from a Light Op guy's perspective (I just care that I'm effective, not that I'm SUPER EFFECTIVE!!!!!!)

Weapon Expertise, (specially the essentials *****Expertise like Heavy Blade expertise) and Improved Defenses... the MBA fix is nice... but it's hardly neccesary for a class that has At-will melee attacks. One solution would be to give them those 2 feats for free (Weapon Ex. at 1, Improved Defenses at 11) and a free "combat" feat at level 3 or something. That way those that need the MBA can get it earlier, and still not fall behind, those that might like it can grab it, and those that don't need it don't fall behind. 

Wizards really should make an errata (You have +1 at paragon and an additional +1 at epic) to fix things. But Wizards stratedgy on fixing things is normally "HIT IT WITH A HAMMER!!!!!!!!"


I typically let my Theme, Paragon, Epic and MC determine a lot of my role play elements.  


Okay let me rephrase that then.... basic combat that doesn't feel like your class race or theme but is generic combat skill... like a warlord becoming more warlording is great, a warlord making sure his will defence isn't too low doesn't feel cool....

So what are the basic feats that are boring but people take to "keep up"?



It's universally accepted that some sort of +1/+2/+3 style expertise feat for all attacks is necessary to keep up. It's debatable whether all expertise feats are boring - some, such as Staff Expertise, Orb Expertise and Flail Expertise, have some powerful and interesting riders. I believe the standard benchmark is for characters to acquire such a feat no later than level 6.

It is generally accepted that NAD's need the +1/+2/+3 bonus that Improved Defenses provides by 21st level. There is some debate as to whether these are needed earlier.

Melee classes that do not hit off Strength require either an at-will that can be used as an MBA, a class feature, or a Melee Training feat to make basic attacks effectively. The classes in most desperate need of help in this area, in my opinion, are Battleminds, Swordmages, Paladins (charisma based), Monks and Ardents, although there may certainly be more.
how many would you suggest for this? is it 3, or 3 per tier, does the tax continue into paragon and epic?

I was thinking of this at first, giving feats as rewards in a way, having them gain them as training from a master durring an extended stay in a town over winter, but then I might mis balance the party.

Any suggestions on this method?
In the Nentir Vale, all injured creatures are required to wear a name tag!
how many would you suggest for this? is it 3, or 3 per tier, does the tax continue into paragon and epic?

I was thinking of this at first, giving feats as rewards in a way, having them gain them as training from a master durring an extended stay in a town over winter, but then I might mis balance the party.

Any suggestions on this method?

It's 3 total in Epic. They scale per tier (+1 at heroic/+2 at Paragon/+3 at Epic) kind of like a scaling rare item would. They do it automatically.  As JRG1 said, you really won't feel missing teh bonus until 6th level at least, many won't start to feel it until paragon, some even through paragon. Once Epic hits though, if you aren't opt'd and tactically-minded in (essentially) every other way, you really feel it.

+1 is nice, +2 can be made up other ways many times with status effects, combat advantage, etc. but +3 is very noticeable even with casual observation.  

It's universally accepted that some sort of +1/+2/+3 style expertise feat for all attacks is necessary to keep up. It's debatable whether all expertise feats are boring - some, such as Staff Expertise, Orb Expertise and Flail Expertise, have some powerful and interesting riders. I believe the standard benchmark is for characters to acquire such a feat no later than level 6.



I wouldn't give out feats like staff or flail expertise or superior will for free.  Those are the ones that I would take even without the scaling bonus.  I would give out versatile expertise at 6, improved defenses at 11, and melee training for melee classes without a good strength score at level 1 and leave it at that.

If I were DM I would also give out free non-mechanical feats or very low usefullness feats at 1/11/21 like linguist, but those would be from a short list I would pick.

And avengers are on my short list of clases that need melee training.  You shouldn't have to worship a short list of specific deities to have an MBA that hits.
I suggest you not give out ANY expertise or defenses feats for free. PC's are given plenty of feat slots to afford them by the time the math errors start to really affect the game.

If you look up to the Compendium of Builds above, you'll see tons of extremely effective builds that didn't require these bonuses.

EDIT: However, I do give out melee training to characters who need it. In the home game I run, the centered breath monk uses Dex for his MBA's.
Gunthar, your statement is mathematically false.

Also, "no this isn't broken, because you can fix it" is logically unsound.



My statement is patently true. There are differing expectations from the game. It's not badwrongfun to enjoy the game on either basis. That's the point. The system is flexible in order to handle multiple playstyles and expectations. I want to play the game as close to what I perceive the designer's expecations for it to be played and form the information at-hand. That's why I take/use them. I don't even have a list of house rules for the game.  

It has nothing to do with "the math".



The fact that you don't care about balance does not mean that the game isn't imbalanced.  It's not that I'm saying you're having badwrongfun, I'm saying that telling people "feat tax" is a misnomer is misleading at best.  You should at the very least be clear that you're ignoring glaring balance problems and proceeding ahead, and that if people do care about balance then they should pay their taxes.

What you enjoy, what you want to get out of it, what the style of play is are all irrelevant to the actual effect that the feats have.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
It's universally accepted that some sort of +1/+2/+3 style expertise feat for all attacks is necessary to keep up. It's debatable whether all expertise feats are boring - some, such as Staff Expertise, Orb Expertise and Flail Expertise, have some powerful and interesting riders. I believe the standard benchmark is for characters to acquire such a feat no later than level 6.


The new expertise feats are the Feat Tax Refund feats.  You get something equivalent to a real feat in addition to the attack bonus that the math demands to maintain balance as you level through tiers.  Example:

Defensive Mobility
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to AC against opportunity attacks.

Heavy Blade Expertise
Benefit:
You gain a +1 feat bonus to weapon attack rolls that you make with a heavy blade. This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and +3 at 21st level.
    In addition, while wielding a heavy blade, you gain a +2 bonus to all defenses against opportunity attacks.

The presence of feat taxes and the presence of feat tax refunds is indisputable, regardless of what you choose to value in your game.  The system is what it is.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Strictly on topic:

- give players a scaling +1/2/3 bonus on NADs, and convert the feats Superion Fort/Ref/Will to a static +1 bonus while keeping their current rider; this way a player has the "tax" for free and can still choose one of those Superior bonuses without having strange sums;
- give players a scaling +1/2/3 bonus to Hit, and build the riders of the Essentials (and newer) experttise feats into Weapon/Implement Focus; that way they still take those if they want their riders, but the hitting math is fixed;
- give players using a WEAPON class, plus the Monk, a Basic Attack that triggers off their main attribute (e.g. Wis for Avengers), both to hit and to damage;

That, imho, should be sufficient. Obviously there will be more feats that feel "mandatory", but these are pretty much the "quality of life" ones. All the rest goes form mild optimization to extreme optimization. They will still be mostly combat related, but as you said, it's like having a Warlord trying to be more Warlord-ish, that's fine. I think you won't need more than these. Obviously my suggestions are just that, suggestions. You can opt for something different, your choice
Strictly on topic:

- give players a scaling +1/2/3 bonus on NADs, and convert the feats Superion Fort/Ref/Will to a static +1 bonus while keeping their current rider; this way a player has the "tax" for free and can still choose one of those Superior bonuses without having strange sums;
- give players a scaling +1/2/3 bonus to Hit, and build the riders of the Essentials (and newer) experttise feats into Weapon/Implement Focus; that way they still take those if they want their riders, but the hitting math is fixed;
- give players using a WEAPON class, plus the Monk, a Basic Attack that triggers off their main attribute (e.g. Wis for Avengers), both to hit and to damage;

That, imho, should be sufficient. Obviously there will be more feats that feel "mandatory", but these are pretty much the "quality of life" ones. All the rest goes form mild optimization to extreme optimization. They will still be mostly combat related, but as you said, it's like having a Warlord trying to be more Warlord-ish, that's fine. I think you won't need more than these. Obviously my suggestions are just that, suggestions. You can opt for something different, your choice



Is there a way to do this without moding the feats, are there feats that scale that I can just give and be done with it? I ask because we use the character builder in which I can add feats but not mod them....
In the Nentir Vale, all injured creatures are required to wear a name tag!
Houndstooth, as I mentioned in the post above, all you need is versatile expertise, improved defenses, and melee training.  Those all scale fine and will work with everyone, including weapliment users.

And your players can still take feats like superior will and staff expertise if they want to and get something out of them.
Strictly on topic:

- give players a scaling +1/2/3 bonus on NADs, and convert the feats Superion Fort/Ref/Will to a static +1 bonus while keeping their current rider; this way a player has the "tax" for free and can still choose one of those Superior bonuses without having strange sums;
- give players a scaling +1/2/3 bonus to Hit, and build the riders of the Essentials (and newer) experttise feats into Weapon/Implement Focus; that way they still take those if they want their riders, but the hitting math is fixed;
- give players using a WEAPON class, plus the Monk, a Basic Attack that triggers off their main attribute (e.g. Wis for Avengers), both to hit and to damage;

That, imho, should be sufficient. Obviously there will be more feats that feel "mandatory", but these are pretty much the "quality of life" ones. All the rest goes form mild optimization to extreme optimization. They will still be mostly combat related, but as you said, it's like having a Warlord trying to be more Warlord-ish, that's fine. I think you won't need more than these. Obviously my suggestions are just that, suggestions. You can opt for something different, your choice



Is there a way to do this without moding the feats, are there feats that scale that I can just give and be done with it? I ask because we use the character builder in which I can add feats but not mod them....



Yes.  Improved Defenses, Weapon/Implement/Versatile Expertise.  Done.

I don't understand why people feel the need to complicate things and then claim it's more 'elegant'

D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Thanks GelatinousOctahedron and Mand12, I love the simple answers... I feel like Im a bit over my head every time I come to the CharOp board...

And thanks everyone else for giving me some other options I might use if I ever dive into the math of the game.
In the Nentir Vale, all injured creatures are required to wear a name tag!


Yes.  Improved Defenses, Weapon/Implement/Versatile Expertise.  Done.

I don't understand why people feel the need to complicate things and then claim it's more 'elegant'




Because some people could argue that giving out the new Expertise feats for free would be overdoing it, considering their riders.
That's all :P

Well yeah, if you give a feat tax refund feat for free you're doubling up the refund.  Staff Expertise already has the free +1/2/3 to attack inaddition to what it really does.  But if you give people weapon/implement/versatile expertise, then they don't stack anyway.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Gunthar, your statement is mathematically false.

Also, "no this isn't broken, because you can fix it" is logically unsound.



My statement is patently true. There are differing expectations from the game. It's not badwrongfun to enjoy the game on either basis. That's the point. The system is flexible in order to handle multiple playstyles and expectations. I want to play the game as close to what I perceive the designer's expecations for it to be played and form the information at-hand. That's why I take/use them. I don't even have a list of house rules for the game.  

It has nothing to do with "the math".



The fact that you don't care about balance does not mean that the game isn't imbalanced.  It's not that I'm saying you're having badwrongfun, I'm saying that telling people "feat tax" is a misnomer is misleading at best.  You should at the very least be clear that you're ignoring glaring balance problems and proceeding ahead, and that if people do care about balance then they should pay their taxes.

What you enjoy, what you want to get out of it, what the style of play is are all irrelevant to the actual effect that the feats have.



I said I use them because I feel they work best for how I feel the game plays best. Are they fixes? Sure, there's a decent term without the boorish connotations. They compensate for discrepancies in the mechanics of the game. Are they necessary to play? No, but they sure do help when you want/expect the game to function within certain parameters.
I suggest you not give out ANY expertise or defenses feats for free. PC's are given plenty of feat slots to afford them by the time the math errors start to really affect the game.

If you look up to the Compendium of Builds above, you'll see tons of extremely effective builds that didn't require these bonuses.

EDIT: However, I do give out melee training to characters who need it. In the home game I run, the centered breath monk uses Dex for his MBA's.



This. I don't give out free feats because there's plenty of slots for them by the time they need them. I do expect most players will take them at some point though.
Basically, the problem with the defense and attack math feats is that they are either required or extremely overpowered. Pick one. Either the DM A- doesn't adjust the monsters and your attacks fall behind by ~1/tier which has been expressly stated was not the intent, or B- your DM does adjust the monster stats down so that you remain hitting at the same rate, and then anyone who does take ID/Expertise has a scaling bonus per tier above what is expected. Defense and to-hit are just plain some of the most powerful bonuses in the game and getting a potential +3 for one feat is simply flat out the most powerful bonus a single feat can give. Which is pretty much the definition of overpowered: a feat is so much better than all the rest that you are always worse off picking another feat.

There is a reason that everyone wants a minimum of an 18 post-racials for to-hit. There is a range of acceptability for accuracy. Without feats or class features, the biggest difference in to-hit is usually a maximum of +2 at level 1 (+3 for rogues and fighters with weapon masteries), where the difference is between a +2/3 proficiency weapon and a 20/18 starting stat. Each of those are real trade-offs like damage differences, NADs, distribution of stats, riders, etc. A 1/2/3 to hit or defense is not a legitimate trade-off for any other feat, you just should take them. Further, it makes issues for DMs because when one player may have +5 or more to-hit over another, it makes it very hard to make monsters that are fitting for the party. Nobody wants to miss all the time, but if you make it so that others always hit because they took one feat that also is undesirable. Everyone should either have those feats or nobody should, and in the latter case the monsters should be adjusted accordingly.

The simple fact is that there are a set of feats that are just so much better that they crowd out interesting choices. Some people don't care, but I get extremely bored of seeing every character, virtually regardless of class taking the same set of feats over and over again. At that point, what's the point of having a customization system when everyone chooses the same things. It's the biggest problem in heroic tier where some feats are amazingly powerful and others are either so situational or so small that they are worthless. If nothing else, I have found that handing out several specific math fix feats (and old melee training because as you can see, new non-str melee classes get it built in for free like the skald and bladesinger) increases the diversity of characters. My players (and myself) tend to pick more fun or interesting feats when they don't feel burdened down by needing to choose feats that give them huge advantages.

The real problem IMO is systemic. There should be separate systems for combat customization and for non-combat customization. Especially when the non-combat ones are extremely situational or almost entirely for fluff. Being able to kill things and survive ultimately have the largest impact. If you can't win, you can't do anything else. That's why combat feats are almost always focused on. Taking Linguist is cool and has benefits for RP and certain campaigns, but who cares if you can speak all the major regional langauges if you sit around crying or dieing in combat? If I were to redesign the system, I would have alternating benefits where certain levels gained "combat feats" and other levels gained "non-combat perks" and the two were not related. 
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If I were to redesign the system, I would have alternating benefits where certain levels gained "combat feats" and other levels gained "non-combat perks" and the two were not related. 



This would be awesome. I don't agree that you need to give out bonus feats, but even if you do, I think combat options significantly crowd out non-combat options. Every time new supplements or Dragon articles with feats are released, there are more interesting combat feats available. These will continue to push out non-combat feats. Hopefully when 5E comes out, something like this might be implemented.
Without a division between sets of feats similar to that between attack powers and utility powers, attempting to solve that issue is a lost cause.
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