From the Labs: Tax Evaders

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I don't know how I'm going to do it yet or what classes and encounters, but I'm going to try to see what happens when a party forgoes its taxes (Expertise, Improved/superior Defenses).

Characters: I've been kinda thinking about it over the last couple hours and I'm pretty sure I'm going to want to do characters I'm comfortable with this. I have been contemplating a "We are the party that knocks you down" type theme with a Knight (WSG, Defend the Line), Slayer (WSG, Axe Power Attack thing at 7th level), Hunter (Clever Shot), Pixie Streak of Light Unbalancing Trick, and Scout (Charging Ram). Probably have them all MC a leader (Skald?) and take Headman's Chop if appropriate.

Of course then I'm gonna want to take Nimble Blade on everyone who can qualify. I think I could do this at level 12 and have some pretty interesting encounters, thoughts?
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Nice, let's see how it works out. 

Tier obviously matters most in this experiment. In Heroic the 5% difference won't really be noticeable. Some characters might even be a little more effective since they have at least 2 additional feat slots for stuff like class feats. Obviously in Epic accuracy and defenses will really suffer, but you have enough feat slots available so the tax matters less. 

What would actually interest me the most is to see this experiment performed at a level where feat tax still matters, but the effects of not having those feats also becomes noticeable (i.e. early paragon).
Well, I'm torn between trying to do it at level 30 (I think Popesixtus has a good arguement about scaling down), 25 (just because it makes it easier for me to find level appropriate monsters from MM3, the Monster Vault and Threats to the Nentir Vale). I could opt for 12, when characters get their second PP power and its not an odd level so they will be at full defenses and attack bonus due to 1/2 level.

*edit* Just added some thoughts on Characters to the second post where I will be posting the character summaries.
I think the results are more predictable for level 25-30 than for level 12. 

Another thing you should take into account is what result is the most useful for the general public. Sure, you could run it at 30, but who plays at that level? Same for 25, and in both cases most builds will have enough room for the tax feats (the only interesting experiment at this level would be Improved Defenses vs the 3 Superior defenses feats, but then the difference is agian only 5%). 

That is why I suggest early paragon, since not only do more players play it, it's probably the place where the differences between having/not having the tax feats is felt the most (better accuracy & defense vs I NEED ALL THOSE COOL FEATZ NOW!!1). 
Yeah, I'm really intrigued by the thought of doing it at level 12. I can do the @ level, L+1 and L+3 encounter track again and use some of my favorite mobs like the guards from Gloomwraught, the Drow in Monster Vault (along with Cyclopses, Archons, etc.)

Yeah, I think I'll do that.

(Also, see post two for some thoughts on characters I might run through this).

Thinking of two of the encounters including Calystryx and Vestipalk (sp?) as they are solos who are in the right level range and can include some other standard and minion monsters  in the xp budget.
Indeed, I'd highly recommend comparing directly to other situations that we have data for already.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Sounds to me like something that ought to be run multiple times with different characters; a team that's highly opped other than the taxes may not notice it nearly as much as a team that's marginal.

As Mand12 mentioned, running it at a level where we already have other data to compare with is pretty darn important.
You might want to put a normal leader in there.  Something like an earth or domination domain warpriest will fit in with the proning theme and be simple to run.
With good tactics, maximized stats and otherwise good builds, you should be fine offensively.  However, your NADs will likely be hurting and monsters will be hitting many of them on very low rolls.  If you face daze and stunning monsters, you will suffer more (i.e. the way things operated prior to Essentials, Superior Will, etc.).

I think a lot will also depend on Initiative.  If you lose (or mostly lose) Initiative, I think you could be headed for some long fights (which you should still win, with good bulds and tactics).

Daren
*Sigh* I could redo the level 16 encounters I guess.
The so called feat taxes in fact not that required at early paragon.  I have a level 12 druid who does just fine running around hitting things and I don't have any of the standard feat tax feats.  I do however have a lot of other feats I leverage such as enraged boar form for increased accuracy on charges. 

I also have a level 14 warlord (non-lazy) who happily walks around hitting things his level without much effort, and while he does get hit quite often he is only using +2 armour and neck items so his defences are lower than they should be, but he still rarely takes enough damage to go down.
The so called feat taxes in fact not that required at early paragon.  I have a level 12 druid who does just fine running around hitting things and I don't have any of the standard feat tax feats.  I do however have a lot of other feats I leverage such as enraged boar form for increased accuracy on charges. 

I also have a level 14 warlord (non-lazy) who happily walks around hitting things his level without much effort, and while he does get hit quite often he is only using +2 armour and neck items so his defences are lower than they should be, but he still rarely takes enough damage to go down.


That's fine, but if you look honestly at every feat your characters have, wouldn't they be even more effective in combat if they switched one for an Expertise feat? 
The so called feat taxes in fact not that required at early paragon.  I have a level 12 druid who does just fine running around hitting things and I don't have any of the standard feat tax feats.  I do however have a lot of other feats I leverage such as enraged boar form for increased accuracy on charges. 

I also have a level 14 warlord (non-lazy) who happily walks around hitting things his level without much effort, and while he does get hit quite often he is only using +2 armour and neck items so his defences are lower than they should be, but he still rarely takes enough damage to go down.



To expand on Svendj's words: Of course the feats aren't required. They never were, even back when PHB1 was all we had and everybody had under-par accuracy. But why make combat a ****ing chore and be forced to resort to megacheese boosts like Battle Captain to get by, when you could just pay the tax and have fun without having to optimize to the hilt elsewhere?
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Of course taking the mathematically proven feats is the optimal choice, but that doesn't mean its not possible to play your character without them and still be effective.  The problem is how do you compare the utility that one feat might give you to the straight up dmg bonus another will?  How do you compare +cha mod on the warlords inspiring word to +1 to hit?  How do you compare constant CA to +1 to NADs? 

My warlord isn't cheesed out (except maybe in healing and save granting abilities) and he walks around hitting things just fine.  Whats a level 14 monsters average AC, something like 29 from the few random monsters I just browsed in the compendium.  My warlord has +19 to hit, means I hit on a 10 which is better than 50%, if I have CA its an 8.   Yes I'm not hitting everytime but I'm hitting often enough.  The only things I have in that build to increase accuracy is +1 when bloodied from being dragonborn,  and +1 when I AP from veterans armour.  I don't understand all this complaining about being badly under accuracy without feat taxes, I'm hitting 55% using no strategy or boosts on a leader, I wouldn't think that is that horrible.
Of course taking the mathematically proven feats is the optimal choice, but that doesn't mean its not possible to play your character without them and still be effective.  The problem is how do you compare the utility that one feat might give you to the straight up dmg bonus another will?  How do you compare +cha mod on the warlords inspiring word to +1 to hit?  How do you compare constant CA to +1 to NADs? 

My warlord isn't cheesed out (except maybe in healing and save granting abilities) and he walks around hitting things just fine.  Whats a level 14 monsters average AC, something like 29 from the few random monsters I just browsed in the compendium.  My warlord has +19 to hit, means I hit on a 10 which is better than 50%, if I have CA its an 8.   Yes I'm not hitting everytime but I'm hitting often enough.  The only things I have in that build to increase accuracy is +1 when bloodied from being dragonborn,  and +1 when I AP from veterans armour.  I don't understand all this complaining about being badly under accuracy without feat taxes, I'm hitting 55% using no strategy or boosts on a leader, I wouldn't think that is that horrible.



Here there be something you ain't telling us. You're getting extra bonuses from somewhere, which is skewing things - with a normal array your to-hit at that level should be +18. which makes it a 50-50...on the most favorable level of the tier. Yeah. You're gonna feel it hard when you're at 19 and missing those feats.

PS: Also, the answer to 'how do you compare these things' is simple:

A) Does it kill enemies faster?
B) Does it flatly deny actions to the enemy without killing?
C) Does it set up enemy killing?
D) Does it do something else?

That's the priority order for stuff, more or less. The best defense is a good offense, so while Improved Inspiring Word is good, Inspiring Dragonbreath is better.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
You might want to put a normal leader in there.  Something like an earth or domination domain warpriest will fit in with the proning theme and be simple to run.



Wait, is the domination warpriest the new guy from dragon with the fear powers?

Grr, I had a simple Idea and now I don't know how I want to do it. I'd like a fight with Calystyx or what ever her name is because a bloodied dragon with 4 turns seems like a solo that might actually work right (especially as I'm usually underwhelmed by Action Recovery but I really like the new unstoppable trait on the Black Blade of Raam).

I haven't even found the time to get on the CB and start building characters yet and who knows when I'll find the time to actually run this thing.
My warlord isn't cheesed out (except maybe in healing and save granting abilities) and he walks around hitting things just fine.  Whats a level 14 monsters average AC, something like 29 from the few random monsters I just browsed in the compendium.  My warlord has +19 to hit, means I hit on a 10 which is better than 50%, if I have CA its an 8.   Yes I'm not hitting everytime but I'm hitting often enough.  The only things I have in that build to increase accuracy is +1 when bloodied from being dragonborn,  and +1 when I AP from veterans armour.  I don't understand all this complaining about being badly under accuracy without feat taxes, I'm hitting 55% using no strategy or boosts on a leader, I wouldn't think that is that horrible.


Again, that's fine if it suits your playstyle. But imagine this scenario: 

Normally, you hit 55% of your attacks, meaning you miss 45% of them. That means your standard actions do nothing almost half the time. (unless you have powers that have an effect even on a miss, but for argument's sake let's say you don't)

Now compare your character to a Warlord who invests in accuracy. He takes the appropriate Expertise feat (+2) and makes sure he always has combat advantage through Wintertouched + Frost Weapon or something (+2). His miss-rate is now only 25%, so now his standard actions only do nothing a quarter of the time. That's only a two-feat investment for an almost 150% increase in effectiveness. 

Now do you see why Char-Op likes accuracy boosters so much?

Here there be something you ain't telling us. You're getting extra bonuses from somewhere, which is skewing things - with a normal array your to-hit at that level should be +18. which makes it a 50-50...on the most favorable level of the tier. Yeah. You're gonna feel it hard when you're at 19 and missing those feats.


I get +19 to hit for a level 14 Warlord this way: 

7 (level) + 6 (22 Str) + 3 (proficiency) + 3 (enhancement) = 19. Nothing out of place here.
I didn't include CA, so why are you, its not difficult for me to get CA most of the time, its rare I can't move into a position to get CA, and if I can't I'm a lot less likely to use a big daily without a good effect line.  On top of that if I'm not using a daily I'm probably using intuitive strike which is vs will so I'm probably hitting on a 6, a 5 if i'm bloodied or use an AP or 4 if both.  How is this bad accuracy?

Like I said, I'm well aware that getting all the "Feat taxes" is the most optimal option, but I'm also saying its entirely possible to play without them if you use good strategy and take other appropriate feats/items.
I didn't include CA, so why are you, its not difficult for me to get CA most of the time, its rare I can't move into a position to get CA, and if I can't I'm a lot less likely to use a big daily without a good effect line.  On top of that if I'm not using a daily I'm probably using intuitive strike which is vs will so I'm probably hitting on a 6, a 5 if i'm bloodied or use an AP or 4 if both.  How is this bad accuracy?

Like I said, I'm well aware that getting all the "Feat taxes" is the most optimal option, but I'm also saying its entirely possible to play without them if you use good strategy and take other appropriate feats/items.


Easy friend, I didn't insult you or your character. Just wanted to point out some things that you might not be aware of (didn't say you weren't). Also: 

- You mentioned earlier you attack AC instead of Will. Regardless, your effectiveness still increases with Expertise. Hitting on a 2 > hitting on a 4 when you roll that 3. 
- Combat Advantage most of the time =/= CA all of the time.
- I already said that, for argument's sake, I wasn't talking about powers with an effect line. 
Errr, I'm not upset, I'm just pointing out to you that you need to compare like to like.

Yes most of my powers are against, AC, but some aren't, and I use those ones if I'm worried about accuracy.  Yes I can hit on a 2 maybe if I take all the feats, but I think once you are getting to that low you can't really call them "feat taxes" anymore as they clearly aren't required.

Combat advantage most of the time isn't all of the time, true, but is it worth taking a feat just to give you CA that extra 1 or perhaps 2 rounds that you might not have it?

Wait, is the domination warpriest the new guy from dragon with the fear powers?



Yes.  The build is built around fear powers that push and prone, including at wills.

A couple of the encounter powers prone enemies and then they provoke when they try to stand up from them.  Its not in the CB yet.

And every PC I have played at least takes the attack expertise feat by late heoric.  There are not enough better choices not to.  Even the time I played a sun domain warpriest where almost every single attack he had including his at wills had an effect line, I made sure he had expertise.  I am willing to put off improved defenses till paragon, but usually that is because I am taking things that boost ac or superior will first.

So far the avenger I am playing hasn't taken them yet, but he is already hitting about 80% of the time and I plan to take one at level 8 or 10.  And the feats I am taking instead are straight damage or ac boosts and a bunch of stacking tricks onto Overwhelming Strike which he uses for about 75% of his standard actions.
Errr, I'm not upset, I'm just pointing out to you that you need to compare like to like.

Yes most of my powers are against, AC, but some aren't, and I use those ones if I'm worried about accuracy.  Yes I can hit on a 2 maybe if I take all the feats, but I think once you are getting to that low you can't really call them "feat taxes" anymore as they clearly aren't required.

Combat advantage most of the time isn't all of the time, true, but is it worth taking a feat just to give you CA that extra 1 or perhaps 2 rounds that you might not have it?


It still comes back to the question: how effective are you? Armisael listed some good criteria. If you think you're effective enough without Expertise, then more power to you. But I think the experiment will show that the characters are more effective with it than without it. 

Speaking of which, OP, how are you going to compare this? An easy way could be to preroll the d20 rolls (like earlier experiments did) and run the same fights twice, with and without Expertise and Improved Defenses. 
If you do that, you shouldn't change player or monster behaviour until the difference becomes noticable (for example, controller misses instead of hits with his area burst daze). 

You could even run it 2 more times: once on "heroic" and once on "epic" by decreasing/increasing the attack and defense bonusses by 1. It wouldn't be perfect because heroic and epic characters are fundamentally different, but it would show the difference between no feat taxes and the effects of having them at every tier, while saving you the work of designing new encounters for every tier. 
Ugh. I don't have the patience for that. I suppose I could go pull the feat taxes out of  one of my earlier labs and put in some form of alternative (god know what at this point) and do that. that will bore me out of my mind though, that's why my labs are always something different.


Like I told mand12 elsewhere:

Sure!
Normally what I do is have some idea hit me (Can a Fey Themed Party that is not fully optimized work at mid-paragon for my last Lab). I then build the party and a series of encounters for the party.
Now the reason I can do this faily easily in 4E is that I have a set of concrete guidelines to go by (a character has a L+1, @L, L-1 set of magic items + gp = to the value of a L-1 magic item to equip with) and I can make a set of encounters that are reasonably balanced at L+0, L+1, and L+3 using monsters that are L-1 to L+4 and get generally consistent results.






  
Too bad, would've liked to see the results of that. 
If you marked the actual die rolls in a previous lab you could just go back and see how often expertise changed a miss to a hit, try to estimate its impact on the fight.
I don't think Improved Defenses should be treated as some kind of "must have" feat.  I don't have any characters who took it.  Pretty much all of mine by mid-paragon end up with Superior Will and Reflexes and that's it.  I guess if I couldn't qualify for Superior Will, I would consider taking Improved Defenses.  But I think Superior Will is close to "must have" and Superior Reflexes if just behind it, since auto-CA in the most important round i.e. 1st round, is huge.

Jonathan -- the only thing I would limit is other additional bonuses to hit -- so no Tiefling Fire attackers, no Item bonus to hit items, etc.  That is the best way to see what the effect of no expertise is.

Daren
Or my semi beloved nimble blade .

It still comes back to the question: how effective are you? Armisael listed some good criteria. If you think you're effective enough without Expertise, then more power to you. But I think the experiment will show that the characters are more effective with it than without it. 
 



Of course it would show that, mathematically its been pretty much proven that the "feat taxes" are the best options, so taking them over another feat will be superior (unless you somehow already hit on a 2 or are being missed on any roll besides a 20), but whether they are required is another story entirely.
Actually, it's the same story as always: "the labs yet again prove that the game is really easy if your DM doesn't try to make hard fights and you and all your allies are of one mind."



Not quite. Way back when, I ran a 'best of CharOp vs. Killer DM' labtest - it ramped up from a 'cakewalk' encounter (on-level MM3 Solo), to level-appropriate encounters that abused the XP budget with broken monsters to, IIRC, a L+8 encounter budget that had all the killer tricks I could find stuffed into it, including multiple solos, minion squads, and upscaled monsters that were proven to be really deadly. It was close at times, particularly when the dice chucked out eight 1s over three rounds for the PCs as well as 3 20s on the best attacks of a big monster, but the PCs obliterated the fights when they really cut loose. It did convince me that some powers are kind of 'too good' and border on overkill territory, though, which was valuable data, but if the PCs are on the ball and working together, the DM has no answer short of an unbeatable fight or a ridiculous L+7 budget for a tough battle.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Actually, it's the same story as always: "the labs yet again prove that the game is really easy if your DM doesn't try to make hard fights and you and all your allies are of one mind."



Not quite. Way back when, I ran a 'best of CharOp vs. Killer DM' labtest - it ramped up from a 'cakewalk' encounter (on-level MM3 Solo), to level-appropriate encounters that abused the XP budget with broken monsters to, IIRC, a L+8 encounter budget that had all the killer tricks I could find stuffed into it, including multiple solos, minion squads, and upscaled monsters that were proven to be really deadly. It was close at times, particularly when the dice chucked out eight 1s over three rounds for the PCs as well as 3 20s on the best attacks of a big monster, but the PCs obliterated the fights when they really cut loose. It did convince me that some powers are kind of 'too good' and border on overkill territory, though, which was valuable data, but if the PCs are on the ball and working together, the DM has no answer short of an unbeatable fight or a ridiculous L+7 budget for a tough battle.


Link? I'd like to read it.
Actually, it's the same story as always: "the labs yet again prove that the game is really easy if your DM doesn't try to make hard fights and you and all your allies are of one mind."



Not quite. Way back when, I ran a 'best of CharOp vs. Killer DM' labtest - it ramped up from a 'cakewalk' encounter (on-level MM3 Solo), to level-appropriate encounters that abused the XP budget with broken monsters to, IIRC, a L+8 encounter budget that had all the killer tricks I could find stuffed into it, including multiple solos, minion squads, and upscaled monsters that were proven to be really deadly. It was close at times, particularly when the dice chucked out eight 1s over three rounds for the PCs as well as 3 20s on the best attacks of a big monster, but the PCs obliterated the fights when they really cut loose. It did convince me that some powers are kind of 'too good' and border on overkill territory, though, which was valuable data, but if the PCs are on the ball and working together, the DM has no answer short of an unbeatable fight or a ridiculous L+7 budget for a tough battle.


Link? I'd like to read it.



I actually never uploaded the results. Totally forgot to do that since it took me a while to finish it.

I think I can dig up the details of the whole experiment if you give me some time, though copypasting it all will take a while as I played it all out by hand. At its core, what we had was:

Party:

Taclord, Enabling Heavy (Of my own design, since I wasn't very keen on the Genasi Novalord but wanted a Warlord leader)
Illusion of Hope build
Dragonborn King (Litigation's stun-heavy paladin build - I think I updated it in places for the challenge, but otherwise identical)
Shoot To Thrill build
Supercharger Build (majorly updated because I couldn't find any decent barbs)

The encounters they faced were...

Enc 1: Allabar from MM3. Warmup fight. Manhandled with at-wills and a couple encounter powers, IIRC.

Enc 2: L+1 encounter with upscaled Skeletal Tomb Guardians (Level 29), plus a Warlorded Elite, plus a minion squad.

Enc 3: L+2 ranged minion heavy fight, plus an upscaled Blackfire Creeper to drain surges and terrains and traps.

Enc 4: Can't remember.

Enc 5: Multiple solos, L+3. I think it was two dragons.

Enc 6: Super hard more L+7 fight. I'd have to look for the details of it.

IIRC, Allabar got destroyed as expected, the STG fight cost a couple surges but otherwise worked out nicely, the minion fight burnt a ton of surges because the supercharger and Dragonborn King couldn't get where they needed to be and Illusion of Hope could only hit so many minions a turn, and everything else got destroyed except the L+7 fight.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Sounds cool. I'm not surprised it went the way it did when you played all 5 (great) PCs. 

One recurring problem I have with these kind of labs is that is was played at level 30 (I guess?). No surprise that great builds are dominating those fights. I'd like to see them played it 'fairer' levels (like early paragon) to see if you can replicate the results. 
Sounds cool. I'm not surprised it went the way it did when you played all 5 (great) PCs. 

One recurring problem I have with these kind of labs is that is was played at level 30 (I guess?). No surprise that great builds are dominating those fights. I'd like to see them played it 'fairer' levels (like early paragon) to see if you can replicate the results. 



I'm tempted to go for it, actually - I've got a set of builds that would do the job perfectly. The only issue is that it's a six-man party, but otherwise, they're all relatively optimized, but not to the gills, and rather varied. It's just that encounter building is so time-consuming.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Sounds cool. I'm not surprised it went the way it did when you played all 5 (great) PCs. 

One recurring problem I have with these kind of labs is that is was played at level 30 (I guess?). No surprise that great builds are dominating those fights. I'd like to see them played it 'fairer' levels (like early paragon) to see if you can replicate the results. 

Well I did an all-essentials lab at 16th versus an LFR Special (which the PCs destroyed rather easily).

I have found that the higher the level the more  broken things get (in favor of the PCs).  Early paragon is better than later in paragon or Epic, but I think mid-high Heroic would be even better.  I think there is a significant increase in PC power in going from 10th to 11th, due primarily to paragon paths, paragon feats, increased kickers, universal stat bump, etc.

Daren

The higher in level you are, the more decisions you've made and the more potential variance exists between PCs. The monster math is designed around a hypothetical character who picks a good option like 70% of the time and wastes the rest. That character doesn't exist in practice because people who know how to pick good options 70% of the time know how to pick them 100% of the time, while people who don't know how to pick good options only pick them about 20% of the time due to how many "nifty" but utterly useless options exist and how much combing over the ruleset can be necessary to find the build-driving combos CharOp thinks in.



This, this, and all this.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
The higher in level you are, the more decisions you've made and the more potential variance exists between PCs. The monster math is designed around a hypothetical character who picks a good option like 70% of the time and wastes the rest. That character doesn't exist in practice because people who know how to pick good options 70% of the time know how to pick them 100% of the time, while people who don't know how to pick good options only pick them about 20% of the time due to how many "nifty" but utterly useless options exist and how much combing over the ruleset can be necessary to find the build-driving combos CharOp thinks in.


Yep.

The other additional (but related) factor is actual tactical play decisions, which only re-inforces the discrepancy more.  People who know how to pick the best options usually also know how to make the best tactical decisions during combat.  Depending on the variance from the average or the optimal, the actual "in play" choices can have a huge effect of the performance of a character.

In other words, it's not just about the build.  Its knowing how to use the build to get the most out of it.

Daren
The higher in level you are, the more decisions you've made and the more potential variance exists between PCs. The monster math is designed around a hypothetical character who picks a good option like 70% of the time and wastes the rest. That character doesn't exist in practice because people who know how to pick good options 70% of the time know how to pick them 100% of the time, while people who don't know how to pick good options only pick them about 20% of the time due to how many "nifty" but utterly useless options exist and how much combing over the ruleset can be necessary to find the build-driving combos CharOp thinks in.



That's probably true for what, 20% of groups? For the rest, there is at least one person at the table who understands the game, and can help the other players (who pick bad options and bemoan their ineffective PC).
One-half of the tabletop gaming news podcast Going Last Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.
I either optimize the unholy hell out of my characters, at the very least I optimize a concept that I find nifty and effective, if a bit nonstandard.  I also play on the battlemat like a chess game, looking a few moves ahead on either side.  I'm torn with 2 of our players, on the one hand I could suggest feats, items, and tactical moves etc to make the characters they play much more effective, on the other I don't want to be that guy.  Still drives me a little nuts to see skill focus: diplomacy on an avenger with an 11 cha (when we have a hexblade).  I'm just saying.