A Complaint on Unarmored Agility

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So, UA is tossed out as a solid feat, a great way for classes like Wizards and Sorcerers to patch bad AC, and the path for Avengers and Monks to have really impressive AC.

But why is this feat rated so highly compared to feats like say, Solid Sound. Does that not do something similar for Force/Thunder builds? And yet we rate NADs as somehow less useful than AC, yet those of us who play at higher tiers KNOW that NADs become attacked more and more, whereas AC becomes less relevant. Now, I'm not arguing that AC is unimportant, but I am arguing that UA is overrated, especially come epic when you can retrain it to an Epic Defense feat. Give me +4 to Will over +2 to AC anyday. 

Just Saying. 
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I think some of it comes from the "Always On" bias.  Things that provide a constant bonus that can be seen right on the character sheet/builder get more consideration than a conditional, EVEN IF the condition is always going to be true.

Unarmored Agility is also available in Heroic, so it's pretty easy to slot into any build that's staying in cloth.  I would consider retraining it for Epic Will (since you should have Superior anyway).  It boils down to the wonderful standby of, "Well, it depends..."

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I kind of hit this issue a while back regarding Avenger AC. A charge avenger is literally strait-jacketed into his feats going into paragon. What feat do you drop for any amount of build flexibility? Probably UA because the returns to investment simply gets lower and lower as you increase in levels and tier.

Would I rate it higher than Solid Sound though? Hell yeah. There are times when I realize I forgot a bonus that would have negated a hit somewhere, and would have to go back to a DM with an explanation and a mathmatical breakdown. I hate that. What's optimal is not always what's convienient, and the choices that get made at the end of the day are often what's convienient and also 'optimized enough'.

If going into paragon, and I haven't taken improved defenses yet, would I retrain UA for it though? In a heartbeat. 
I kind of hit this issue a while back regarding Avenger AC. A charge avenger is literally strait-jacketed into his feats going into paragon. What feat do you drop for any amount of build flexibility? Probably UA because the returns to investment simply gets lower and lower as you increase in levels and tier.

Would I rate it higher than Solid Sound though? Hell yeah. There are times when I realize I forgot a bonus that would have negated a hit somewhere, and would have to go back to a DM with an explanation and a mathmatical breakdown. I hate that. What's optimal is not always what's convienient, and the choices that get made at the end of the day are often what's convienient and also 'optimized enough'.

If going into paragon, and I haven't taken improved defenses yet, would I retrain UA for it though? In a heartbeat. 

Why am I suddenly reminded of this OotS?

If going into paragon, and I haven't taken improved defenses yet, would I retrain UA for it though? In a heartbeat. 


This, basically. Maybe it should say in the handbooks that the feat becomes less valuable in paragon if it means your other defenses would suffer. 

On the other hand, -10% to hit on a defense that nearly all monsters can target (with their basic attack, no less) is still really worth a feat. 
Monsters use MBAs for things other than "Use your MBA twice" powers and wizard enduced "stop hitting yourself"? And even then AC tends to have the same issue as Ref - the attacks deal damage, I remember having this argument with nausicca because of her overrating Mass Charm, the number of creatures in upper Paragon with MBAs that do something other than damage (counting ongoing) or forced movement > 1 is not significant, right around 15% iirc.

I'll take a +1 Will over a +2 AC.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
Monsters use MBAs for things other than "Use your MBA twice" powers and wizard enduced "stop hitting yourself"? And even then AC tends to have the same issue as Ref - the attacks deal damage


UA is far from irrelevant against dragons and other elites/solo's with double attacks that use their MBA twice. Especially for cloth-wearers, who generally don't have a lot of HP anyway. 

I'll take a +1 Will over a +2 AC.


At the cost of a feat that does nothing else? And at what level?
Wanna know why we don't rate Solid Sound that highly Zel? Because anyone who would have half a reason to use thunder or force is not gonna be attacked in the first place in any quantity that matters. Not to say that Unarmored Agility is awesome or anything (I can think of very very few cases where I'd take it instead of leather armor proficiency, the bonuses from leather are immensely better), but Solid Sound is kind of a trap choice.
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Wanna know why we don't rate Solid Sound that highly Zel? Because anyone who would have half a reason to use thunder or force is not gonna be attacked in the first place in any quantity that matters. Not to say that Unarmored Agility is awesome or anything (I can think of very very few cases where I'd take it instead of leather armor proficiency, the bonuses from leather are immensely better), but Solid Sound is kind of a trap choice.



Unless you are going to be using, say, a thunder power 2-3 times per turn...  Then its kinda cool .
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Wanna know why we don't rate Solid Sound that highly Zel? Because anyone who would have half a reason to use thunder or force is not gonna be attacked in the first place in any quantity that matters. Not to say that Unarmored Agility is awesome or anything (I can think of very very few cases where I'd take it instead of leather armor proficiency, the bonuses from leather are immensely better), but Solid Sound is kind of a trap choice.



Unless you are going to be using, say, a thunder power 2-3 times per turn...  Then its kinda cool .



Since untyped bonuses from the same named game element don't stack, doesn't really matter how many times a turn you use it.
If going into paragon, and I haven't taken improved defenses yet, would I retrain UA for it though? In a heartbeat. 


This, basically. Maybe it should say in the handbooks that the feat becomes less valuable in paragon if it means your other defenses would suffer. 

On the other hand, -10% to hit on a defense that nearly all monsters can target (with their basic attack, no less) is still really worth a feat. 



Yes. I've done that exact switch myself.

I think the basic issue is that ideally, you have 3 defenses where you're relatively hard to hit. Most monsters don't cover every defense and some monsters will have problems hitting you no matter what they do.

If you don't have an AC, that means you have 2 defenses where you're relatively hard to hit. It is roughly the same problem that Str/Con or Wis/Cha builds have, even if you're insanely hard to hit on your Will. And I think in Epic, most characters are going to be silly famous. Everyone knows that Hercules has a poor Will and very solid AC/Fort/Ref as an example.

i.e. a lot of monsters are going to know to not attack your vaunted Will score and because most Epic monsters can attack at least 2 defenses, they'll hit you more often than if your AC was better and your Will merely great.
I don't know that Improved Defenses vs. Unarmored Agility is a meaningful debate. The real question is "why not have both"? Some builds are feat starved, but if you can make the room for both it's a solid way to go.
I think UA straddles the line between Dark Blue and Sky Blue for any build that can use it, the choice will depend on the rest of the build and the party. If any handbook rates it gold (which I know it's rated gold in Sorcerer and Monk HB's), that's too high. There are just a lot of feats at the same caliber or better, which means there is a lot of competition for feat slots, and when you're needing to drop one thing for another, UA is usually one of the first to go.

At low levels UA is not that important either. On my monk, I started with Toughness at level 1, over UA, and at level 3 I retrained it to UA. My sorcerer just hit paragon, and I still haven't found the feat space to pick it up, likely never will. It depends on the build, the group, what you want to do with the character, etc. A ranged wizard with a solid front line probably never needs UA, and could even consider it purple. Experience with the character will be more telling than numbers on a paper or colors in a handbook.

As for Solid Sound, I think it's pretty solid in Paragon and up (pardon the pun) if you are converting your attacks to thunder. For instance for any Malec-Keth build with thunder, it could easily be my level 16 pick.
Wanna know why we don't rate Solid Sound that highly Zel? Because anyone who would have half a reason to use thunder or force is not gonna be attacked in the first place in any quantity that matters. Not to say that Unarmored Agility is awesome or anything (I can think of very very few cases where I'd take it instead of leather armor proficiency, the bonuses from leather are immensely better), but Solid Sound is kind of a trap choice.



Unless you are going to be using, say, a thunder power 2-3 times per turn...  Then its kinda cool .



Since untyped bonuses from the same named game element don't stack, doesn't really matter how many times a turn you use it.


Sure it does, because the Solid Sound bonus can be applied to different defenses with each hit.  First is +2 Ref, second is +2 Fort, etc.
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I don't know that Improved Defenses vs. Unarmored Agility is a meaningful debate. The real question is "why not have both"? Some builds are feat starved, but if you can make the room for both it's a solid way to go.


That begs the question: "what builds are so feat-starved by level 11 that the choice comes up?". 

There are 6 cloth-wearing classes: Wizard, Avenger, Sorcerer, Monk, Psion, and Vampire.

They will generally spend two feats on accuracy (expertise and superior weapon/implement) and one on Superior Will if they can get it (total: 3). 

The strikers spend one on a feat bonus to damage, and the controllers spend one on initiative (total: 4). They might spend one on a multiclass if it's a requirement for their paragon path (possibly 5). That's 4-5 feats spent for non-Avengers, leaving 2 for Imp Def and UA/Armor Prof. 

For Avengers though, you also need to spend some feats on Power of Skill, Painful Oath and Surprising Charge as soon as possible, which brings you to a total of 8 feats (not counting the defense feats). 

So, do Avengers take UA over Imp Def? At 11, yes. But since they're a melee class, I can see them taking it early and retrain it when they start leaving heroic and/or have a really good defender they can work with. 

It's difficult to say if this is a relevant question for hybrids by the way. On the one hand they're more feat-starved than other classes because of Hybrid Talent. On the other hand, HT is usually spent on getting a good AC anyway. Unless you hybrid something with Avenger, but then you should just aks yourself: why am I hybriding with a class that's already feat-starved? 
There are 6 cloth-wearing classes: Wizard, Avenger, Sorcerer, Monk, Psion, and Vampire.


And Arid Berserkers.  If you're going for the defendery aspects at all, UA is amazing.
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Right, forgot about them. Fortunately, I don't think they're feat-starved at all.
I think its partly because people rate heroic tier feats with the assumption that people are starting out in heroic tier and in early heroic a +2 always on boost to AC for some of those classes is very useful for any PC.  With monks and avengers leather or shields aren't an option if you want to boost your AC and those two are often next to enemies that target AC. 

The only wizard I had took leather prof as one of my first feats since it was in the early days of 4E and there simply were not other good options.  If I was playing with that same PC today I wouldn't even seriously consider it.

Solid sound is a good feat and I have it as darkblue in my warpriest guide for storm warpriests.  I assume you are taking improved defenses and superior will first, but in paragon its another good boost on top of that if you have room for it since almost all your attacks will have the thunder keyword.
There are 6 cloth-wearing classes: Wizard, Avenger, Sorcerer, Monk, Psion, and Vampire.

They will generally spend two feats on accuracy (expertise and superior weapon/implement) and one on Superior Will if they can get it (total: 3). 

The strikers spend one on a feat bonus to damage, and the controllers spend one on initiative (total: 4). They might spend one on a multiclass if it's a requirement for their paragon path (possibly 5). That's 4-5 feats spent for non-Avengers, leaving 2 for Imp Def and UA/Armor Prof. 

There is also Arid Berserkers and Serene Runepriests.

For the "bad" classes like vampire, your powers are pretty sucky to begin with, so you need to heavily multiclass, which costs a lot of feats. Similar problem on Arid Berserker if you want to be more defenderish. Monks and Sorcerers need heavy feat investment on increasing their static modifiers and gaining extra attacks through multi-class or other means. There are also racial feats that are sometimes the reason for the build, and you want to pick up the racial support. So whether your base class is good or bad, trying to make the best of it, costs a lot of feats. I can see some builds going with Imp Def at 11, and never picking up UA, some that pick up both. Not picking up either at paragon is... well, something crazy I might do with my sorcerer, but wouldn't recommend.
Right, forgot about them. Fortunately, I don't think they're feat-starved at all.


It's a bit tight.  You want spiked chain prof, battle awareness, WSG (retrained for Lashing Flail probably), sup will, dragging flail, UA, expertise which is all your heroic feats, plus focus, probably berserker's fury (or whatever the THP on rage one is called), so it's a bit tight until 14 or 16 if you really want to do it properly, more so if you want to swap for Rain of Blows, which you probably do.

Must post that build, actually.
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Berserk Vitality, actually, and it's on entering berserker fury, not rage.  Important distinction.
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I used Solid Sound as an example, not the primary example. It was more of a +2 AC vs. +2 to a NAD feat.

Edit: I'm pretty sure Serene Runepriests get Hide? 
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I used Solid Sound as an example, not the primary example. It was more of a +2 AC vs. +2 to a NAD feat. 



Take a look at the following imaginary 16th level character:
AC 33
Fort 26
Ref 31
Will 31

In general, unless the creature is attacking Fort, most creatures will need a 12 to hit this character. Pretend UA is in the mix and there's a +2 bonus to Will feat taken instead.

For:
AC 31
Fort 26
Ref 31
Will 33

Now most creatures have two ways to have a better option than a 12. Because most creatures can attack either AC or Fort, the character is now easier to hit by 2. It might not be by the best attack, but being easier to hit is a downside.

And as I mentioned, it depends on the metagame - paragon tier adventurers and especially epic tier adventures are going to have some level of fame. Monsters might know that you are especially strong-willed, etc...and thereby choose to try to ignore that NAD, just as adventurers can make monster knowledge checks...
 
Edit: I'm pretty sure Serene Runepriests get Hide? 

Doh, you're right, I was thinking of the serene Runepriest|Avenger build that was in cloth, but that's because of the Avenger half.

Runepriests get scale actually.

And since solid sound is on "using" a force or thunder power, it is possible to cheese it with a force weapon.  Use the power of the weapon, a free action, to turn force on and then off and then on and you have just used a force power 3 times because the powers themselves have the force keyword. 
ETV on that, since the DM can explicitly limit your FAs
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For the Avenger I'm currently playing I did grab UA after getting power of skill and gith weapon training (read weapon prof + weapon focus).  So by level 4 I had it.  It served me well during heroic but once I hit 11 i'll be grabbing painful oath and retraining UA to improved defenses or something else.  That's in line with what has been suggested so far.

So yeah maybe UA is overrated in some handbooks.  It's still a good option though.
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It cannot be emphasized enough that keeping track of conditional bonuses is a huge chore.
It cannot be emphasized enough that keeping track of conditional bonuses is a huge chore.

Except that the best way to optimize is to get conditional bonuses that are better than unconditional ones, and meet those conditions frequently or always.
It cannot be emphasized enough that keeping track of conditional bonuses is a huge chore.


Which is the major difference between someone who can pull off a tactically optimized character, and one who can't. Conditional stuff is really only an issue when it's coming from another person (ie. Lightswitch handing out CA, +Int Damage, +Wis Hit, +Wis Damage, and Vuln 10 as its Nova)
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
It cannot be emphasized enough that keeping track of conditional bonuses is a huge chore.



Its the reason for condition tokens IMO.  When I give out buffs I give out tokens with conditions on them.  Also every player at my table has access to +2/-2 tokens to put at spots on their sheet when relevant.  Its not that hard if you are prepared to play that character.
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Or just make the bonus high enough. People tend not to forget about things over +6
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Sure, but +STAT bonuses to attack are kinda a problem all by themselves.
I love unarmored agility to the point of putting it on pretty much every character that can benefit from it... Given, those characters are either Monks, Avengers (or a hybrid there of) that need to wear cloth for features or wizards who I'd rather have the cloth magic items on rather than upgrading to leather. Also, considering I tend to build characters for my friends (because they shy away from statting up their own and don't like keeping track of lots of little details), it's simple and straightforward.

Though part of this may be personal preference. Back in 2e I had a DM essentially strip the entire party naked after the first session (we still had clothes and weapons, but that's not all that helpful...) so I rather like the idea of being to have passable AC while in my underwear.
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I love unarmored agility to the point of putting it on pretty much every character that can benefit from it... Given, those characters are either Monks, Avengers (or a hybrid there of) that need to wear cloth for features or wizards who I'd rather have the cloth magic items on rather than upgrading to leather. Also, considering I tend to build characters for my friends (because they shy away from statting up their own and don't like keeping track of lots of little details), it's simple and straightforward.

Though part of this may be personal preference. Back in 2e I had a DM essentially strip the entire party naked after the first session (we still had clothes and weapons, but that's not all that helpful...) so I rather like the idea of being to have passable AC while in my underwear.

And now I'm reminded of the "Bulletproof Nudity" cinematic/comedic optional rule from GURPS...

I love unarmored agility to the point of putting it on pretty much every character that can benefit from it... Given, those characters are either Monks, Avengers (or a hybrid there of)



See, the problem here is that anyone who thinks Monk hybrids or even most Avenger hybrids are playable probably isn't the guy we want to be trusting for advice on the value of UA.
Avenger does work, I'm sure someone will link you the ASM|Avenger they built! And then there's my rebuild of lang's Avenger|Artificer which is entirely worse than Mia well before the Vorpal+Sigils combo kicks in, but that's the fault of PMC Ranger actually being viable.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
See, that's why the word "most" is useful.
I love unarmored agility to the point of putting it on pretty much every character that can benefit from it... Given, those characters are either Monks, Avengers (or a hybrid there of)



See, the problem here is that anyone who thinks Monk hybrids or even most Avenger hybrids are playable probably isn't the guy we want to be trusting for advice on the value of UA.



That sentence is basically on the order of saying:
"Anyone who thinks Monks or even most Avengers are playable probably isn't the guy we want to be trusting for advice on the value of UA."

Because for the most part, Monk hybrids and Avenger hybrids can easily be Monk or Avenger builds down a feat with other, usually significant, options gained as a result.
Avenger Hybrids lose the ability to pick up off-class striker powers, which is a crippling flaw, and Monk Hybrids are less than the sum of their parts.
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