Playing a leader in a four-person, three-striker party

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Hi guys,

I'm currently playing a radiant cleric (level 18) in a party otherwise entirely composed of strikers (human warlock, drow rogue, revenant vampire). Due to the lack of a defender, I'm finding that even routine combats drain us of too many resources. Moreover, my radiant cleric gets hit way too frequently and thus is as likely to use healing word on himself as he is on another party member. So I'm thinking of changing characters.

My question for y'all is: what leader class (and within that class, build) would be the most effective at simulating a defender while still providing the important leader abilities (healing, buff, etc.)? Tentatively, I feel like a tactical or inspiring warlord would be the way to go, but I'd like a second (and third and fourth ;)) opinion.

Cheers
Genasi Taclord.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Genasi Taclord.



Thanks. Would you mind expanding on that answer, perhaps giving me some insight on what aspects of a Genasi Taclord build fulfill my desired role? Any tips or tricks you have would be appreciated.
One option would be to hybrid Cleric|Fighter and actually BE a defender also. Clerics have enough healing powers you will be fine without one Healing Word. Taking Battle Cleric's Lore over Healer's Lore will help you be hit less and not cost you a feat even. 

A Warlord would help up the damage and end combats faster but don't have the buffed heals and that party is likely to get tagged a lot even if it's a little less. Bravura or Resourceful would be good choices if your party is very accurate, TacLord otherwise. 

Another other option would be to play a Pacifist Cleric so your healing is ridiculously boosted, but that's not something I would recommend.
One option would be to hybrid Cleric|Fighter and actually BE a defender also. Clerics have enough healing powers you will be fine without one Healing Word.


I've been trying to avoid going hybrid. But I will consider that option, thanks.


Taking Battle Cleric's Lore over Healer's Lore will help you be hit less and not cost you a feat even. 


Oh, my radiant cleric already has BCL and has 4x uses of Healing Word most combats (Gambler's Word feat). But I'm a complete HP pinata for the bad guys, partly because of the stat double-up of the build (WIS primary, CHA secondary leave my Fort and Ref in pitiful shape).


A Warlord would help up the damage and end combats faster but don't have the buffed heals and that party is likely to get tagged a lot even if it's a little less.


On the other hand, feat support allows warlords to throw out Inspiring Word quite often during a combat.


Bravura or Resourceful would be good choices if your party is very accurate, TacLord otherwise. 


Two of the three strikers are very accurate (the warlock and the rogue). The third striker (vampire) is less accurate, mainly because the player isn't really an optimizer.


Another other option would be to play a Pacifist Cleric so your healing is ridiculously boosted, but that's not something I would recommend.


I don't think I'd go that route either. Plus the flavour of it doesn't really appeal to me. ;)
Yes a Warlord may help, but I suspect your problems may not be so much due to a lack of defender, but more due to a general lack of optimization, in addition to the lack of a front line. Clerics can have very good defenses, so you shouldn't be so much of a practice dummy. The Vampire is likely a drain on everyone's resources. And if the drow rogue is low surge and likes to hide, that's going to be loads more pain for the rest of you. In a party of 4, sharing damage is pretty important.

If you're going to try Warlord, I'd suggest hybriding Artificer, so at least you get some surge redistribution options. Not sure if your warlock is Con based or not, but if he is, sharing his surges can go a long way.

Your DM also should take your party composition into consideration when designing adventures. If you're always running out of resources too soon, he may need to rethink his methods.
The hybrid in My sig has done very well for me thus far in LFR games running either role Defender and Leader. I need to get around to updating the heroic level powers though. Thinking that rejuvenating strike and swordmage decree would be preferable to armathors Step and Watchers Strike. Probably should go with aegis of assault until you pick up greater swordmage shielding. Ill get the post updated somewhat later.

Keep in mind it gets complicated......


Move action (teleport to boost AC and Reflex extremely high)
Minor Action:  Mark multiple Targets
Standard: Grant ally a basic attack
Yes a Warlord may help, but I suspect your problems may not be so much due to a lack of defender, but more due to a general lack of optimization, in addition to the lack of a front line.


You may be right, though I'd say three of us (myself, the warlock's player, and the rogue's player) aren't shabby at optimization.


Clerics can have very good defenses, so you shouldn't be so much of a practice dummy.


True, and this is where I have to own up to a mistake in my previous thinking. I took radiant cleric thinking that I'd concentrate on burst damage to help us stay ahead of the damage curve, but now I'm finding that things aren't playing out the way I envisioned they would. Hence my desire to switch characters.

I can certainly make a cleric with high defenses, but that cleric is still going to find it difficult to stop enemies from moving away from him and focus-firing on his allies.


The Vampire is likely a drain on everyone's resources. And if the drow rogue is low surge and likes to hide, that's going to be loads more pain for the rest of you. In a party of 4, sharing damage is pretty important.


I hear you, but the rest of my party are individualists who like what they like and don't think about party composition much, if at all. This is how I ended up in the position I'm in. Everyone else decided they wanted to go striker, so I volunteered to fill the leader/defender void. It's not that we don't work well together in combat; we do. It's just that when it comes time to building one's own character, everyone but me is off in their own world doing their own thing.


If you're going to try Warlord, I'd suggest hybriding Artificer, so at least you get some surge redistribution options. Not sure if your warlock is Con based or not, but if he is, sharing his surges can go a long way.


The warlock is indeed CON-based. As I said earlier, I'm not wild about the prospect of hybriding, just due to my own bizarre taste, but that suggestion is very welcome and I'll consider it if I do decide to hybrid. Thanks.


Your DM also should take your party composition into consideration when designing adventures. If you're always running out of resources too soon, he may need to rethink his methods.


He tries, and I've recently told him of my concerns, so maybe his encounters will change. But regardless of what he does, I feel that I myself need to change characters. The radiant cleric would be fine in a normal party with every role filled, but in this particular context, he isn't cutting it, and that's my fault for not thinking the situation through when building the character.

Yeah, it seems like that party screams "Kill us in any order you want" (depending)
Looks like my sig link is broken.... Well its under the hyrbid section for leader-defender..


Thundering Vortex, Death From two sides and either Rejevenating strike or Watchers Strike (both Level 7 SM) should probably be the encounter powers depending on whether you want more heals or marks. Ive havent been able to test it beyond level 11 however so mielage may vary.   
Yeah, it seems like that party screams "Kill us in any order you want" (depending)



That's it exactly. Monsters can basically just focus fire any PC they want. If they get lucky with their rolls, they can drop a PC or just bring him to dangerously low HP levels without me or anyone being able to punish them for their choice of targets. What's more, the warlock is an implement wielder who doesn't threaten, and the rogue has no good melee basic attack. So there is very little OA consequence for a monster who walks away from either of those two to pound on another PC.
Looks like my sig link is broken.... Well its under the hyrbid section for leader-defender..


Thundering Vortex, Death From two sides and either Rejevenating strike or Watchers Strike (both Level 7 SM) should probably be the encounter powers depending on whether you want more heals or marks. Ive havent been able to test it beyond level 11 however so mielage may vary.   



Thanks for that. I really hope I don't have to go hybrid. It just seems like a huge pain, and I don't want to spend copious amounts of time trying to fine-tune the perfect hybrid character, but I'll keep your build in mind. Cheers.
Yeah, it seems like that party screams "Kill us in any order you want" (depending)



That's it exactly. Monsters can basically just focus fire any PC they want. If they get lucky with their rolls, they can drop a PC or just bring him to dangerously low HP levels without me or anyone being able to punish them for their choice of targets. What's more, the warlock is an implement wielder who doesn't threaten, and the rogue has no good melee basic attack. So there is very little OA consequence for a monster who walks away from either of those two to pound on another PC.




/grimace


The benefit of having multiple strikers is the potential to kill one monster every round. I suspect however that your party is not designed to do that and everyone just scatters trying to solo fight things?
From a pure class perspective might want to consider a High Wisdom Paladin with mutiple uses of lay on hands. Needs to be in melee touch range but you kinda get both roles from a single class that way.

/grimace


You're telling me! ;)


The benefit of having multiple strikers is the potential to kill one monster every round. I suspect however that your party is not designed to do that and everyone just scatters trying to solo fight things?



No, no, I shouldn't libel my fellow players. We're pretty good at focus-firing, and we frequently do drop a monster or even two in a round. Problem is, we ourselves get hit hard, myself in particular, which drains my healing resources and also slows down just about every combat. And as Gunthar put it, our party is basically an open invitation for monsters to kill us in whatever order they choose, because we can do very little to stop them from ganging up on one member.
From a pure class perspective might want to consider a High Wisdom Paladin with mutiple uses of lay on hands. Needs to be in melee touch range but you kinda get both roles from a single class that way.



It's a possibility, but the rogue likes to move across the battlefield quickly and do his striking thing, regardless of where I am at any given time. I frequently have to warn him to stay within range of my healing word and not cut himself off from the rest of the party. If I play a paladin, the rogue will probably be out of my healing range most of the time.

I am starting to think that hybrid is indeed the solution here. Grr.
From a pure class perspective might want to consider a High Wisdom Paladin with mutiple uses of lay on hands. Needs to be in melee touch range but you kinda get both roles from a single class that way.



It's a possibility, but the rogue likes to move across the battlefield quickly and do his striking thing, regardless of where I am at any given time. I frequently have to warn him to stay within range of my healing word and not cut himself off from the rest of the party. If I play a paladin, the rogue will probably be out of my healing range most of the time.

I am starting to think that hybrid is indeed the solution here. Grr.




Try talking with the rogue and find out if he is aware of the various permastealth tricks/combos. -5 to hit him really would help his survivability 
Cleric may actually work, but it would either need to hybrid or probably go wis/con.  Maybe even something like earth domain warpriest with mark of warding/tactical warpriest, devout warpriest, or arcane armorer.

The problem is you will be doing a bit less damage yourself, but will have a lot more surges and will be able to hand out DR to your allies.

An Oghma Warpriest dizzying mace/devout warpriest build could also work and would provide some enabling with your healing word.
I would also like to second the idea of Swordmage|Warlord. Go for a Genasi and you could be Assault or Shielding. Decent enough healing and shielding would give damage reduction to keeps your buddies up and running. Good mobility for you to get where you need and actually contribute some damage your self.
What about a earth strength warden multiclassing into runepriest to take powerswap for level ten utility protective scroll?
Cleric may actually work, but it would either need to hybrid or probably go wis/con.  Maybe even something like earth domain warpriest with mark of warding/tactical warpriest, devout warpriest, or arcane armorer.

Beat me to the punch... one of these options should work decently enough, if most your concerns are enemy damage and focus fire related. Could also go Goliath, pick up Enter the Crucible, and maybe a party resist utility.

Keep in mind there is only so much you can do for your allies. They need to also be proactive about their own survival, they should all have a few interrupts to get them out of trouble, negating an enemy attack or two. Your Warlock could pick up Shared Pact to share loads of THP's. You're not the only one responsible for your entire group's defensive countermeasures.

Outside the box... Hybrid Cleric|Sentinel?

You could bring a wolf to battle for the CA aura to help accuracy, you get great stat synergy, can pluck from druidic control powers, and still maintain solid healing. 
So much LSM...
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
In a party with 3 strikers our suggestions are cleric|Sentinel, an Earthstrength Warden, and pure cleric, whereas warlord gets brushed aside? Seriously, CharOp is dead if this is the case.
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!
Yeah, anyone who says anything but Warlord is nuts.  Both strikers should have good basic attacks, so you're set.
In a party with 3 strikers our suggestions are cleric|Sentinel, an Earthstrength Warden, and pure cleric, whereas warlord gets brushed aside? Seriously, CharOp is dead if this is the case.

3 strikers that are a presumably dex/cha melee rogue with no good MBA, a warlock who has no melee weapon, and a vampire whose player doesn't care to optimize much... You can surely see where Warlord is not going to be an automatic savior for the survival of this group as monsters gut him first, then move onto the rest of the party.
Warden|Serene Runepriest. Start the day with a stock of Protective Scrolls and just get your group to trigger them in stagged order to redirect aggro whenever one person is under heavy pressure.

In play, you just play to defend. Resist-All Aura, at-will immobilize enforces stickiness, Serene runepriest feature gives you a ton of personal survivability.

Edit: Vistani Buzuq to eat your allies' surges and turn them into more scrolls. 
3 strikers that are a presumably dex/cha melee rogue with no good MBA, a warlock who has no melee weapon, and a vampire whose player doesn't care to optimize much... You can surely see where Warlord is not going to be an automatic savior for the survival of this group as monsters gut him first, then move onto the rest of the party.

The vampire has a good MBA (assuming heroic).  The Warlock has a good RBA.  The rogue has minor action attacks, and could likely use some movement to free up actions to use to nova with.  I'm not hearing anything to tell me "no warlords".  I'm barely hearing anything that would rule out lazylords.
 

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

Or regular warlords. Its not like they don't have stellar powers that grant both types of BAs. 

Saying a DM guts a warlord first then moves on is simply saying you kill the leader first. Duh.
If an enabling leader can't save the party with +damage, then a goddamn cleric is just going to marginally improve the suck and get everyone killed. Seriously, there is so much foolishness in this thread. 
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!
Yes a Warlord may help, but I suspect your problems may not be so much due to a lack of defender, but more due to a general lack of optimization, in addition to the lack of a front line.

You may be right, though I'd say three of us (myself, the warlock's player, and the rogue's player) aren't shabby at optimization.

It's not charop that's your problem, it's basic tactics and teamwork.  Everyone but you sat down by themselves, rolled up a OMGsweet striker, and didn't think for a second about party composition or apparently even just making themselves decently tough.

A leader better suited for the group could help, but it's not going to address the real issue in lack of teamwork and tactical thinking.  Honestly if I were the DM I'd either 1) just wait for a couple people to die and ask them to consider why they died before making new characters, or 2) adjust encounters to better fit the party's functioning level of play.

Also, permastealth isn't going to help the rogue because it focuses fire on the rest of you.

In a party with 3 strikers our suggestions are cleric|Sentinel, an Earthstrength Warden, and pure cleric, whereas warlord gets brushed aside? Seriously, CharOp is dead if this is the case.


3 strikers that are a presumably dex/cha melee rogue with no good MBA, a warlock who has no melee weapon, and a vampire whose player doesn't care to optimize much... You can surely see where Warlord is not going to be an automatic savior for the survival of this group as monsters gut him first, then move onto the rest of the party.




Assumptions much? He said that the rogue and warlock had some knowledge of optimisation. That means that the rogue would pick up melee training (if he isn't a brutal scoundrel) and the warlock has eldritch strike. Those are two strikers who can get their striker features on attacks granted by a warlord.

Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Fardiz, he specifically said earlier the warlock doesn't have eldricth strike. edit that to threaten, which I assume means no Eldrich Strike.

Kilpads, the vampire is late paragon.  No indication it has a good MBA, though who knows.

I think warlord would be fine, but he would need get his party to go along with it and make changes to their PCs.  The assumption that no one in the party has a good MBA or even a good RBA and that they are not interested in getting one isn't unreasonable from what he has told us so far. 

Here is the relevant quote from earlier "What's more, the warlock is an implement wielder who doesn't threaten, and the rogue has no good melee basic attack. So there is very little OA consequence for a monster who walks away from either of those two to pound on another PC."
The warlock HAS TO HAVE AN MBA OR RBA. Its a freaking class feature.

Vampire without an MBA?
IT GETS ONE AT FIRST LEVEL

Rogue without an RBA?

ITS DEX BASED

seriously, what are you people even talking about. 
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!
Kilpads, the vampire is late paragon.  No indication it has a good MBA, though who knows.

Oof.  Ok, that hurts.  That leaves you with plenty of RBA users (which still gives you two-hit powers.  Just not Death from Two Sides) and movement-based enabling.

And since you're paragon, a Warlord basically lets you stun half the monsters on turn-1, which REALLY should help reduce incoming damage in a high-striker party.  (IE, the benefit of having silly initiative modifiers).  Not only am I still suggesting a warlord, I'd still be comfortable bringing my lazylord.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

I think they're talking about the fact that nobody (except maybe the vampire) in the current party has any meaningful way of making it hard for an opponent in melee to go off and punch someone else at will.
I'm assuming a little, but I'm not assuming that much...

The third striker (vampire) is less accurate, mainly because the player isn't really an optimizer.

Not sure I want to be handing an inaccurate striker MBA's.

What's more, the warlock is an implement wielder who doesn't threaten, and the rogue has no good melee basic attack. So there is very little OA consequence for a monster who walks away from either of those two to pound on another PC.

This is why I didn't think they had good MBA's. True, the Warlock will have an RBA.

the rogue likes to move across the battlefield quickly and do his striking thing, regardless of where I am at any given time.

This is why I assumed he is a melee rogue.

Sure, Warlord can work, anything can work. The OP wants to take some heat off his allies and spread damage around, while also being a leader. The task is not hard, many classes can accomplish it. It's just a matter of picking appropriate race, powers, feats, multiclass, and PP. More than one way to skin this cat.
I think they're talking about the fact that nobody (except maybe the vampire) in the current party has any meaningful way of making it hard for an opponent in melee to go off and punch someone else at will.

From which I deduce that you've never seen an Alpha-strike party in action.
This is why I assumed he is a melee rogue.

Melee Rogues still tend to use daggers, and focus on dagger use more than melee use.  So he'll still have a good RBA, if he can get combat advantage.  What ways he has to get CA at range, I don't know, but Permafrost tends to work well and be popular in paragon-tier rogues.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

Taking heat off allies and spreading damage around...Yup that sounds exactly like an enabling leader.
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!
Kilpads, the vampire is late paragon.  No indication it has a good MBA, though who knows.

Oof.  Ok, that hurts.  That leaves you with plenty of RBA users (which still gives you two-hit powers.  Just not Death from Two Sides) and movement-based enabling.

And since you're paragon, a Warlord basically lets you stun half the monsters on turn-1, which REALLY should help reduce incoming damage in a high-striker party.  (IE, the benefit of having silly initiative modifiers).  Not only am I still suggesting a warlord, I'd still be comfortable bringing my lazylord.



Human Bard Warchanter might be suitable here as well. Why human? Because when your Rogue falls down, you've MC'd into Warlord for Avenging Spirit for extra action points(among other things) - optimize around your Rogue getting beaten to a senseless pulp...
I think they're talking about the fact that nobody (except maybe the vampire) in the current party has any meaningful way of making it hard for an opponent in melee to go off and punch someone else at will.

From which I deduce that you've never seen an Alpha-strike party in action.

Can't say that I have, but then aside from one LA where we had a Warlord, the only time I've ever seen anyone playing an enabling leader was me playing a bard. Tongue Out

Refuse to heal least optimized striker. They die and have to reroll. Make them role something useful to the party. No? They die again. Repeat till your party is more cooperative in playing this cooperative role playing game. Considering some of them go off on their own in fights this shouldn't be difficult at all.