Starting out, Essentials or Core?

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hey guys

so me and a few mates are starting out D&D 4Ed with the red box (friend owns it) however im likely going to be the DM (and maybe have a character as he will DM sometimes) so what should i/we go for, the essentials range or the Core range?


i heard we can mix the books but could someone please varify that
That is almost asking for trouble on this board: people have very strong and conflicting opinions.

Yes, you can technically use Essentials and Core book classes side by side.

You can run in to some rule conflicts, but not many, and there are a lot of people here who can clarify.
Go for whichever has the classes/races that interest you.  You can absolutely mix them no problem.  Get a Rules Compendium for up-to-date rules.  And if you're the DM:  There is nothing wrong with Dragon material. 

Cry Havoc!  And let slip the hogs of war!

me and a few mates are starting out D&D 4Ed with the red box (friend owns it) however im likely going to be the DM (and maybe have a character as he will DM sometimes) so what should i/we go for, the essentials range or the Core range?

i heard we can mix the books but could someone please varify that

The essentials range is basically the new 'core range' (i.e. kinda like a D&D 4.1). Either is fine, and they can be mixed. I recommend:
- The original PHB (has a nice production value and I'm partial to it)
- The original DMG (if you can get it cheap, but the updated version is fine too)
- Rules Compendium (it's handy, and contains errata)
- The Monster Vault (has lots of tokens)
- DDI subscription to generate characters with the Character Builder.
- For adventures I'd recommend LFR.

if you start with the red box, you might want to go into essentials next, simply bc your pcs will convert more easily. here is the conversion document for red box pcs

wizards.custhelp.com/ci/fattach/get/8096...
That is almost asking for trouble on this board: people have very strong and conflicting opinions.

Yes, you can technically use Essentials and Core book classes side by side.

You can run in to some rule conflicts, but not many, and there are a lot of people here who can clarify.



Honestly you are one of the only people I've seen with any reliability say that you can't mix them (or mention mixing is an issue even). 

Mix and match, play what you want.  It is all compatible. 
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yes they're compatible, i think it's all pretty good imo, there's no wrong choice there- all the content is pretty good, the original PHB gives you more flexibility, essentials gives you clearer rules, and a more lenient learning curve

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/8.jpg)

The Red Box classes are closer to (but oddly not identical to) the Essentials ones. OTOH there is less difference in most cases than people would like to make out. Get a Rules Compendium, get a Monster Vault, get a DMG1 or a DM's Kit, and if you want, get a PHB1, it has good stuff in it, so do the other PHBs, etc. Don't worry about it though. Buy books that interest you. It will all work together.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
ive decided that will be going for the DM kit and monster Vault

in terms of player books (which i will get at some point, but not right now) you guys seem to be encouraging the original PHBs
Good idea. The monster vault is pretty much agreed upon to be the best monster book of the edition. The DM Kit is nice to have as well.

You may not want to get the essentials player options though. They have...balance issues. 
Khyber is a dark and dangerous place, full of flame and smoke, where ever stranger things lie dormant.
Good idea. The monster vault is pretty much agreed upon to be the best monster book of the edition. The DM Kit is nice to have as well.

You may not want to get the essentials player options though. They have...balance issues. 



i heard the essentials fixed the balancing but dumbed down the characters (from what ive heard on the internet)

what kind of balancing issues are we talkinh about?

They didn't.  The essentials characters were just very streamlined classes added into the mix.

Most of the balancing issues in 4e are either non existant, not relevant, or handled by easy houserules (like imp defenses and expertise for free).  The few that actually do need to have their wings clipped are errataed or very narrow (Revenants) 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Good idea. The monster vault is pretty much agreed upon to be the best monster book of the edition. The DM Kit is nice to have as well.

You may not want to get the essentials player options though. They have...balance issues. 



i heard the essentials fixed the balancing but dumbed down the characters (from what ive heard on the internet)

what kind of balancing issues are we talkinh about?


There aren't any significant balancing issues. There are individual powers in all books that have had errata to tweak them. Some things were a little too good, at least in some combinations. There is a lot of errata for the PHBs that you can use, though it is certainly not necessary. The Rules Compendium has the most updated versions of the core rules compared to the PHB. You can also download updated versions of many of the PHB1 classes for free.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
ive decided that will be going for the DM kit and monster Vault

in terms of player books (which i will get at some point, but not right now) you guys seem to be encouraging the original PHBs



while i also love the original phbs, i want you to be clear that you cannot easily convert your red box pcs to original phb characters. you will have to start new ones. thats the only reason i suggested essentials. do what you want, but dont be surprised when nothing in the phbs even remotely resembles your pcs
You can also find all the updated PHB1 classes in PDF form for free on WOTC's website with the class compendium articles.  Here is the cleric for example.

You will either need a copy of heroes of the fallen lands or PHB1 to get things like stats for equipment, races, feats, and epic destinies.  Heroes of the forgotten kingdom has that too, but fallen lands is a better book.

And essentials didn't fix the balance issues unfortunately.  Most of the essentials classes and builds are roughly the same level of power as the PHB classes, but several of them are far behind the curve, especially once you hit higher levels.
while im still undecided on the player books (we might do both, some buy one book, and il get another)

but in terms of monsters and DM books, after i get the DM Kit and Monster Vault would i still need to buy the other books?
No.  You might want to, some of them are great, but you don't actually need very many of the printed books to play.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
Personally I think MV1 and MV2 are the best buys for DMs.  The sheer number of tokens you get to represent your monsters is mind-boggling.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Dumbed Down or Streamlined character development? You decide.

Essentials: you get _____ to start and _____ when you level up.
PHB: Choose 1 of these 2 builds (other options in other books). choose 2 of these 4 at-wills (2 work better for each build, and more choices in further books). Choose 1 of these 3-5 encounter powers (2 work better for each build, and yes, more choices in further books). Choose 1 of these 4 daily powers (same note). that's first level. Which each level up, you have your choice of one of at least 4 options.

If making decisions is too hard, or you don't have time to look at them all and compare, play Essentials.

Sorry if that seems patronizing, insulting, or over-simplified, but believe it or not, I am trying to achieve clarity without (yet again) kickstarting the argument.
while obviously i would prefer no argument, i really dont minds having the differences spelled out for me, heck that was the first post which actually explained how they were different and i thank you for it

still undecided what i will get but im telling the players to buy those books, im not going to buy everything for them
still undecided what i will get but im telling the players to buy those books, im not going to buy everything for them

You mean let each of them decide which player's book(s) to get? Excellent decision!

The player's books are all balanced, and the DM doesn't need to have them.  Yup, that's right: in 4e the DM doesn't actually need to know the rules about the PC's powers (i.e. you just need to know the core rules).

while obviously i would prefer no argument, i really dont minds having the differences spelled out for me, heck that was the first post which actually explained how they were different and i thank you for it

still undecided what i will get but im telling the players to buy those books, im not going to buy everything for them


I don't see anyone arguing. But if you really must get a players book I would go with the original PHB. It has more class options, and race options than both of the Essentials players books for less money all together. Plus it comes with rituals which all of got the boot in Essentials. But if you are making your players buy some too, let them decide on what to buy depending on how/what they wanna play. All the PCs that are created with PHBs 1-3, and the Heroes Books will be compatible with each other in terms of playing and power. And they will all be able to fight the same critters. 

Since I'm guess you are gonna want more spelling out here...

Essentials classes while they mechanically play very similarly to core PHB characters they are very streamlined many choices for their level ups are already chosen for them, from things like class features, powers, and even some feats.

While with PHB characters you choose everything from a list of choices each time you level. There is no pigeon holing into specific things.

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 

One problem with the PH books is power creep. PH3 classes are balanced against each other, but not against previous PH characters. PH 2 characters are balanced against each other, but not PH1 classes.
And some classes just seem to be pointless.
Likewise, some builds in the _____ Power books are way stronger than the ones in the PH that introduced the class.

Maybe this is my own bias. Maybe I'm wrong. But this is what my experience has shown.

Here's even more spelling out for you. Here's how each set of books handles different parts of character creation and leveling up.

Class features
PHB1: Each class gets all special features for the class at level 1.
Essentials: Each class gets some features at level 1, and additional features or improvements to those features at higher levels.



Feats
No difference between the 2.  Exact same progression, although a few of the Essentials classes get free feats at certain levels.



Powers
PHB1: All classes get the Classic AEUD (stands for At-will, Encounter, Utility, Daily) Progression.  Pick 2 at-will powers, 1 Encounter, and 1 daily at 1st level, and pick additional powers as you level.  Utility at level 2, encounter at level 3, Daily at level 5, utility at level 6, encounter at level 7, daily at level 9, utility at level 10, etc...
Essentials: No set in stone progression at all.  All classes still get utilities at the normal levels (2, 6, 10, etc...), but the rest of the powers are all over the map.  One class, the mage, has a power selection progression that is identical to PHB1.  Some other classes, have every single power (other than utilities) picked for them.  Several of the classes never get daily powers.  And many of the classes get addional utilities at weird levels.



I like both styles, and have had fun with PHB characters and Essentials characters.  A player who likes to have a lot of control over every part of how their character levels up will enjoy PHB.  Players who want to just have something that works well without worrying about a lot of character creation decisions will probably like Essentials more.

I would pick up Rules Compendium, Monster Vault, and whatever character creation books you think look interesting.


One problem with the PH books is power creep. PH3 classes are balanced against each other, but not against previous PH characters. PH 2 characters are balanced against each other, but not PH1 classes.
And some classes just seem to be pointless.
Likewise, some builds in the _____ Power books are way stronger than the ones in the PH that introduced the class.

Maybe this is my own bias. Maybe I'm wrong. But this is what my experience has shown.



Can you give an example of a set of classes that are like this? (example from PHB3 > "" PHB2 > "" PHB1)

Other than the battlemind having 2 powers which are scary strong and breakable (Lightning Rush + Brutal Barrage) I can't think of anything from PHB3 that shows them being stronger than the others.  Same with the other two handbooks. 
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Most of PH3 is psionics. Their powers run something like this.
You attack me: I get to damage you for attacking (or maybe you actually have to hit) me.
You attack someone else: I get to damage you for that.
You move: I get to damage you for that.
Oh, I can boost some of my powers. Now I have to keep track of what I've used and how that effects the powers.
Only played with two of those classes (battlemind was one of them). Might be being overly judgemental, or just plain snarky, but that's how I felt about it.

PH2: Wardens get to make saves at the beginning and end of their turns. So they might totally ignore any conditions your monsters inflict. There are certain feats that have the same effect, but they are limited to a couple of conditions (Superior will allows Beginning of Turn saves for Daze and Stun, but only Daze and Stun, requires a Wis or Cha of 15, and is a paragon feat). And they get to do funky things to terrain and mark everything adjacent to them, just because.
compare to:
PH1: Fighter. Gets to attack when marked targets shift away from it, or if monster attacks anyone but him. Get's wisdom bonus to those attacks. Oppies stop movement. Only marks creatures it attacks.

Martial Power fighter builds include the 2 weapon fighter, which has at-wills that let it attack with both weapons, each one does full static bonus. (Even the Ranger, king of Damage Per Round, doesn't get full static when it hits twice).

PH2 Avenger: gets to roll twice per attack roll against 1 targetted creature every time it attacks--that's twice the chance to crit, and half the chance to roll a 1. Limitation: it can't be next to another enemy. Should be simple:surround it with minions. Problem: there are lots of powers that allow the Avenger to move, shift, or teleport, either himself or himself and the target, so that the Avenger can pretty much guarentee being allone with designated target. Oh, and it is easily possible to generate massively more static than any PH1 striker class.

PH1 cleric is still the king of healing, BUT, PH2 bard has way nastier side effects.

PH1 has the melee and the range/devoted clerics. Divine Power adds the Pacifist priest, who seldom does damage, but has such incredible healing that it is truly terrifying. (To give you an idea, there is a now-erratta's paragon power called Astral Flare, which was a Burst 7 (15x15)(now burst 3(7x7)) power that did damage and dazed monsters. It was an encounter breaker, esp vs Demons and Undead. Compared to what some of the Pacifist's powers are, it is nothing, even at burst7.

Again, I am biased by my experience. Maybe not everyone has run into the same thing. All I can say, for example, is that the Avenger in my group has consistently had a base static damage of at least 3 higher than the Ranger or Warlocks, and sometimes nearly double. To be fair, the Warlocks also sometimes get bonuses (bloodied, right spell/feat combo, PrimeShot/Prime Punisher,  etc) that almost equal the Avenger's typical static. But of course, Warlocks don't get to roll twice with every single attack.
From lvl4 to lvl21, number of times the Avenger has not had the option of taking the best of the 2d20: 6. Four of those are when it oathed a Quickling who ran out of the room and out of the encounter.

I am not saying that these are bad character designs. I'm saying that they were not balanced with their predecessors.

(what is an Avenger or a Warden anyway? Give me a litterary example. The designers claimed the Avenger was based on Batman. Since when is Batman a Divine-powered character? Moon Knight (one of the many Marvel clones of Batman) might be arguably be Divine, but Batman?)

So enough of my demented rambling. Maybe you can find some clue in all that.
So, after sifting through that it just sounds like you are trying to compare incomparables and make sure it lines up with what you are talking about?  I don't know I'm still a little confused.

I could really pick at a ton of what you have said, but I don't think it will do much good.  What it sounds like is that you are trying really hard to make a comment about power creep (which, frankly, doesn't exist in the form you are trying to sell it in) make sense by adding in a bunch of really skewed information.  That whole post seems directly counter-productive to helping new players get a grasp of what is going on and how everything is balanced.

A good example would be pacifist clerics which are pretty bad overall.  Cool, but pretty unhelpful for the vast majority of cases.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Damage-wise, Pacifists suck. Except against minions.
Healing wise... They are amazing. And tons of Temporary Hitpoints.
Side effects of powers--frequently game breakers. Stun all monsters in the encounter for either 1 round or save ends. Make monsters vulnerable all damage (hit it, it takes extra damage. Giving ongoing damage: it takes extra damage. Set it up in a zone that does damage: it takes extra damage). Dismiss 1 monster until it saves (lets you pick on the other monsters or gives the party a chance to recover and set up for maximum damage when it returns.

My observation is that the strikers do more damage than existing ones with each new book.
The Defenders are less vulnerable with each new book or block more of the monster's effectiveness.
The Controllers... actually, no one in any of the parties plays a controller, so I can't comment.
The Leaders get more powerful healing, grant more temps, and have more damaging conditions as the books progress.
Feats get more and more... well, you get the idea.

Let's look at Martial Power 2. There's a paragon feat that allows you (if you are using a shield) to slow any creature you push, and an epic feat that allows you to daze any creature you slow. Since Tide of Iron is an at-will attack that pushes, at lvl21, a shield fighter has an at-will Daze. With a couple other feats, opportunity attacks push (and thus daze), and even miss attacks start to daze. AT WILL. These options did not exist with PH1.

What does any of this have to do with new players learing? Not much. But then the OP asked "Can you give an example of a set of classes that are like this? (example from PHB3 >  PHB2 >  PHB1)", so I'm trying (perhaps badly) to answer that.
ZezKai, here's the thing about balance.  Everyone wants balance, or perhaps more accurately, everybody fears imbalance*.  However, most people downright suck at actually judging what is balanced and what is not, especially with that fear in the mix.  As a good rule of thumb, don't believe anything you hear about whether something is balanced or not until you can get a consensus on it from more than one or two people.  And then, take it with a grain of salt.

That being said, just have your players buy what they think looks cool.  4e, essentials, it's all the same game, it'll all work together.  The game isn't perfectly balanced, but as a group of new players, you're a long way from even being able to really tell, and it's just not something you need to worry about at this point in time.





*Blanket statement, exceptions, etc, etc.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
I'd recommend both a PH1 and an Essentials 'Heroes' book. The PH1 has the ability score generation methods, multiclassing rules, and magic rituals, while the 'Heroes' books have updated rules and better feats. Eventually, you might want to look into picking up a book of expanded magic items, but otherwise you should be good. Smile

This may seem obvious, but make sure you print out the errata for the books your group gets, whatever they may be. Have fun!
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
ZezKai, here's the thing about balance.  Everyone wants balance, or perhaps more accurately, everybody fears imbalance*.  However, most people downright suck at actually judging what is balanced and what is not, especially with that fear in the mix.  As a good rule of thumb, don't believe anything you hear about whether something is balanced or not until you can get a consensus on it from more than one or two people.  And then, take it with a grain of salt.
That being said, just have your players buy what they think looks cool.  4e, essentials, it's all the same game, it'll all work together.  The game isn't perfectly balanced, but as a group of new players, you're a long way from even being able to really tell, and it's just not something you need to worry about at this point in time.
*Blanket statement, exceptions, etc, etc.


Actually, yes.
Oh, and don't worry about the PH3. It has psionic classes and rules for hybrids--neither of which should be messed with by players just starting out.


My observation is that the strikers do more damage than existing ones with each new book.


   Your Ranger archer of PH1 is still the king of damage.  All games suffer from power creep, but 4e did a good job of keeping the initial characters reasonable.
Except that Rangers actually MISS sometimes.
Avengers only miss if both of their d20s are too low--very rare.

YES, the original characters were very well balanced. Sadly, the future character classes were not, or were not balanced with respect to the PH1 core.
Except that Rangers actually MISS sometimes.
Avengers only miss if both of their d20s are too low--very rare.

YES, the original characters were very well balanced. Sadly, the future character classes were not, or were not balanced with respect to the PH1 core.



And to compensate for their accuracy, Avengers only get the reroll if the only enemy adjacent to them is their Oath target, and Avengers have no bonus damage. Their accuracy IS their bonus damage.

As mentioned before, the static damage the avengers do is way beyond anything I have seen any other striker (even rangers) able to deliver. Sure, it takes a combination of feats and the right magic items, but so does every other class.
And only when adjacent to their oath? as mentioned before, between lvl4 and lvl20, this has happened exactly 6 times. Avengers have numerous powers that allowe them to shift or teleport themselves and/or their oath so that they gain said advantage.
So, what you're trying to sell us on is the idea that rolling twice to hit once is better than rolling twice to hit twice?
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
So, what you're trying to sell us on is the idea that rolling twice to hit once is better than rolling twice to hit twice?


Based on My admittedly anecdotal experience: yes.
Rolling twice and taking the better result: chance of crit is 1/10 instead of 1/20. Chance of fumble? 1/400.
Rolling two attacks: same chances of crit or fumble. Greater chance to miss entirely. Static is not as high because no stat bump. Quarry dice are random unless crit.

Where Rangers seem to come out and make the damage up to the top is the out-of-turn interrupt and reaction attacks. So far, I've only seen a couple of Avenger powers that do that, but one of them is particularly nasty (oath ends turn within 10 and not adjacent=teleport avenger next to oath and attack).
Either way, you're getting 2 rolls.  So whether you're hitting once or hitting twice, the odds of hitting at least once remain identical.  So there is absolutely no "greater chance to miss entirely."

Ranger gets a benefit in that there's a chance of doing two hits, whereas Avenger only gets the one hit.  Ranger also gets the potential hunter's quarry damage (Avenger doesn't get bonus damage unless the Avenger's Censure kicks in).  Avenger also only gets the second roll if they're not adjacent to a target, and rarely gets to use it with ranged attacks (certain attacks, and a feat gives it to RBAs).  Avenger does get to use 2-handed weapons, increasing damage (especially if they get a 2d6 weapon).
I've said this 4 times now:
Only when adjacent to their oath is NOT that big a restriction. As mentioned before, between lvl4 and lvl20, this has happened exactly 6 times. Avengers have numerous powers that allowe them to shift or teleport themselves and/or their oath so that they gain said advantage.
Quarry damage is nice, but random unless there's a crit involved.
LVL 20 static for the Avenger in our party is 18 minimum static damage. Under certain (admittedly limited) conditions, it can go up to 52. PER HIT. (normally, somewhere in between). Not counting weapon damage. Can your lvl20 ranger do that?

I could post the full details, but it seems like we are getting away from the OP question.
I've said this 4 times now:
Only when adjacent to their oath is NOT that big a restriction. As mentioned before, between lvl4 and lvl20, this has happened exactly 6 times. Avengers have numerous powers that allowe them to shift or teleport themselves and/or their oath so that they gain said advantage.
Quarry damage is nice, but random unless there's a crit involved.
LVL 20 static for the Avenger in our party is 18 minimum static damage. Under certain (admittedly limited) conditions, it can go up to 52. PER HIT. (normally, somewhere in between). Not counting weapon damage. Can your lvl20 ranger do that?

I could post the full details, but it seems like we are getting away from the OP question.


Well, I just crunched some numbers in the CB, and we're not posting full details, so suffice to say, yes.  I whipped a level 20 Ranger that can deal +18 static damage, under certain mildly limited conditions, on Twin Strike.  +24, under the same conditions, for any of his attacks that allow Strength mod.

And Quarry damage is nice.  Being rolled doesn't change that. 
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
Well, I did run the numbers.  Was rather amusing.  But, as you said, is OT, so I'll sblock it....

Off-Topic.  Warning, there's lots of numbers!  Enter at your own peril!

I became curious about which was actually better, when maxing, at first level, barebones.

So here's the assumptions used:
(1) I went with a weighted "target number required" system, figuring that their single-attack accuracy would otherwise be essentially the same.  So I have 21 "die result needed" rows, from Over-20 down to 1 (which is the same as 2, but since it does come up it's included), that only takes into account the result needed on the d20, not the modified number.  I then calculated the Damage per Attack for each target number.  After that, I made two different averages.  One is a straight average, which assumes that each target number is equally likely.  The other (which I consider the primary result) a bell-curve type average, which assumes that the middle number (11) is most likely to be used, and each step up or down is exponentially less likely; for simplicity's sake, I used the square of the step as they descended (so 11 was weighted 121 times; 10 and 12 were 100 times; 9 and 13 were 81 times; and so on).

(2) The Avenger's Wisdom is assumed to be 20, making the Static Damage bonus +5.

(3) The Avenger's Weapon is either a Heavy Flail or a Maul — 2-handed weapon which does 2d6 damage.

(4) There were two different types of weapons I took into account for the Ranger: a Brutal 2 weapon and a High Crit weapon, both which use 1d8 as the base.

(5) Rounded numbers to 2 decimals.

(6) I did not make any assumptions about feats.  Increasing accuracy would shift the weights.  There's an Avenger feat which significantly raises the average weapon damage, especially with a 2d6 weapon (Avenging Resolution, treats 1s and 2s on damage dice as 3s).  So on and so forth.  Not to mention Magic Weapons and Buffs and all sorts of other modifiers.  So there's plenty of ways these numbers could be skewed; that's why I went barebones except for the weighting....


Target | Avenger |High Crit|  Brutal 
Over 20|   1.17  |   0.79  |   0.89  
  20   |   1.66  |   1.84  |   1.39  
  19   |   2.77  |   2.61  |   2.26  
  18   |   3.82  |   3.37  |   3.12  
  17   |   4.81  |   4.10  |   3.95  
  16   |   5.74  |   4.83  |   4.78  
  15   |   6.61  |   5.53  |   5.58  
  14   |   7.42  |   6.22  |   6.37  
  13   |   8.17  |   6.88  |   7.13  
  12   |   8.86  |   7.54  |   7.89  
  11   |   9.49  |   8.17  |   8.62  
  10   |  10.06  |   8.79  |   9.34  
   9   |  10.57  |   9.38  |  10.03  
   8   |  11.02  |   9.97  |  10.72  
   7   |  11.41  |  10.53  |  11.38  
   6   |  11.74  |  11.08  |  12.03  
   5   |  12.01  |  11.60  |  12.65  
   4   |  12.22  |  12.12  |  13.27  
   3   |  12.37  |  12.61  |  13.86  
 2 & 1 |  12.46  |  13.09  |  14.44  
Weighted|  9.13  |   8.06  |   8.51  
Straight|  8.42  |   7.81  |   8.29 


Note that at various points on the scale, each does more damage.   When accuracy is very low, the Crit Ranger does better.  The Avenger does better in the mid-range, and the Brutal Ranger does better when the targets are more easily hit.

I actually suspect that my weighting is centered a bit high — in other words, I think it's far more common to need to get a roll on a d20 in the single digits instead of the double digits. 

Anyway, so it's really a matter of preference and feel.  There's viability to both claims.
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