Handbook of Design Failure - Classes that aren't good at their roles *WIP*

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Feeling that, even though the regular handbooks rate the classes thinking on the best choices available for it to fulfil its role, sometimes not even this will cut when compared to other classes of the same role. This may serve as a forewarning to newcomers that look at some classes with awesome flavor/fluff but are outshined 9-10 out of 10 times by fellow role-mates.

Based on this, here I will try to list these classes and explain why they aren't recommended picks.

Disclaimer: Mind you that this handbook will not go over hybrids territory. It may be that some of the classes that show up here are way better as hybrids or mc.

For discussion on whether a class should be here or not, go to: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Thanks: Alcestis, Zathris and Zelink for supporting, suggesting how to do it and helping me with the idea.
Controllers:

Binder
Why: Poorly designed powers and all of the "if you are adjacent to someone who dies/you kill then you get xxx". Considering that you are a controller (and just like most of your fellas, a ranged one), it isn't healthy to stay close to the enemies.


Bladesinger
Why: Its features and powers are striker-oriented with just the occasional control (even though they aren't near striker-damage benchmark without perhaps, charge-op).
Lack of hard control (daze, blind, stun...) past heroic is also a major hindrance, since no controller should lack these beyond heroic tier.

Hunter
Why: In Alcestis' words "high single target damage with a splash of control is not controlling"

Swarm Druid (past low Heroic)
Why: You are squishy and easily killable. Seriously, low defenses and damage reduction that won't stop enemy controllers from disabling you makes you the most vulnerable of controllers. Add to that some powers that require you to stand among your enemies and you're purée.
Strikers:

Most of striker problems are the inability to keep dealing enough damage to be considered a striker, therefore, some of them may require Charge Optimization, which can be done regardless of the class. That said, having to rely on charge for damage won't make you a striker per se.


Another issue for strikers is their access to multiattacking. Getting to dish out more than one attack roll on your turn is perhaps one of the main striker characteristics.


Scaling (damage on powers going up with levels) is also required.



Assassin
Why: Requires controversial reading of the powers (instances of shroud damage) to actually achieve striker-benchmark damage.

Blackguard
Why: No multiattacks, and encounter powers. Dependants on multiclassing to actually get some damage up. The Blackguard also has very poor scaling (can't get their rolls to achieve what is required of them according to the tier).

Vampire (past low Heroic)
Why: Just like the blackguard it lacks multiattacks and scales poorly.
Defenders


Cavaliers
Why: Its Defender Aura and Righteous Radiance just plain suck without feat support. Auto-damage won't stop monsters from ignoring you.


Specific Build Cases

Ensnaring Swordmage
Why:
Leaders:
Sentinel:
Why: Apart from the heal, they don't offer much in terms of enabling or granting attacks, that is, being a leader.
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Sounds reasonable - given the dearth of new content, most of charOP is now educating people new to the game.
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
Such a thread is a good idea. First it appeared to be another pointless "thought experiment", but i think that this one certain Baja-esque list could be indeed very useful, since all class handbooks evaluate a class's powers under quarantine, without looking at the class's (classes? class'? :S) overall ranking in terms of its role.
Imo, this would fit very well in the "The Complete Collection of Character Build Links" thread, to highlight it for casual forum roamers. I don't know, if it's possible to get access to The_Collective, tho, since many recent and very helpful threads/builds/handbooks that definitely belong there also aren't implemented, yet.
Thanks a lot. I am accepting input here btw on how I can better serve.

Well, I don't know about the recent helpful threads/builds but since they lack a home, perhaps we could create another topic like "stuff that should be on the Complete Collection but isn't".
In the case of Blackguard and Vampire, they scale poorly and lack multiattacks.
In the case of the Binder and IIRC Bladesinger as well, their power selection is poor, unless you pick powers from the parent class and the parent class with these powers is simply more effective.

I wonder which reading of assassin powers lets them hit striker benchmarks.
Edit: I'd love for someone to tell me in a PM, I don't want to derail this thread with a discussion on assassins. 

I wonder which reading of assassin powers lets them hit striker benchmarks.
Edit: I'd love for someone to tell me in a PM, I don't want to derail this thread with a discussion on assassins. 


I guess the reading of assassin's shroud, that every shroud is a damage instance (and a damage roll on top of that) of it's own, cause it lacks the "extra" before damage`?! But i might be wrong..


Well, I don't know about the recent helpful threads/builds but since they lack a home, perhaps we could create another topic like "stuff that should be on the Complete Collection but isn't".


Edit: I just checked, even really old but super powerful builds, that nobody should miss, like all switch builds aren't included. :/
Not to talk about the whole new benchmarks for classes like Barbarians.
Class's was correct.
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
Thanks. Laughing
Such a thread is a good idea. First it appeared to be another pointless "thought experiment", but i think that this one certain Baja-esque list could be indeed very useful, since all class handbooks evaluate a class's powers under quarantine, without looking at the class's (classes? class'? :S) overall ranking in terms of its role.
Imo, this would fit very well in the "The Complete Collection of Character Build Links" thread, to highlight it for casual forum roamers. I don't know, if it's possible to get access to The_Collective, tho, since many recent and very helpful threads/builds/handbooks that definitely belong there also aren't implemented, yet.


To be a Baja-esque list it has to be completely lacking in insight or knowledge of the game. This list looks like it will be useful and necessary.

Anyway, Blackguards fail because they need to be radically multiclassed to stand a chance in the damage department. They have no easy access to multiattacks beyond a couple of paragon paths, themes and daily power swaps. They have no encounter powers and can't swap powers there. So any Blackguard who wants to be a striker is kinda locked in to very specific builds. And at that point you might as well be an actual Paladin, who at least can power swap after Battle Awareness (MC Fighter) for Rain of Blows and have the feat support to make it scream, and be a full defender besides.

Cavaliers fail because Righteous Radiance sucks. Auto-damage with nothing else to add has never been an effective deterrent, which was the reason the Paladin itself was weak at the very start of 4e, before Divine Power and Dragon support. Add that fact to the shoddy Defender Aura mechanic, and you have a recipe for failure. Sure you can take Divine Sanction powers, but at that point, again, you may as well just be a real Paladin. Plus some of the Divine Sanction feat support requires Divine Challenge as a class feature (especially Weakening Challenge), so you're can't even use those powers as effectively as a real Paladin can.

Oh, and yay, my first post on the CO boards in months. Don't get too used to it, though. I've still had too much going on elsewhere ...
Why are swarm druids on here? Just because your AC sucks doesn't mean you're a worse controller.
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!
Being conscious helps your control.
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
Being conscious helps your control.



There's no particular reason that a Swarm Druid ought to be bad at staying conscious - they have a relatively weak secondary stat and don't want to over-invest in it. It is likely worthwhile for such a thread to point out such classes(aka Barbarians and Swarm Druids)
Speaking of Design Failure, this thread's almost certainly going to create more heat than light.
As far as I can tell this thread isn't about classes who are merely standard or mediocre at their roles. It's about classes who can't natively fill their roles at all. Like, for example, Wardens are mediocre Defenders, but they can at least still be called Defenders. Cavaliers can't even be considered Defenders. That kind of thing.
As far as I can tell this thread isn't about classes who are merely standard or mediocre at their roles. It's about classes who can't natively fill their roles at all. Like, for example, Wardens are mediocre Defenders, but they can at least still be called Defenders. Cavaliers can't even be considered Defenders. That kind of thing.

Correct.
Where do we class Ensnaring Swordmages? 
Where do we class Ensnaring Swordmages? 

I'd say they aren't capable of being real defenders... the only build that ever made use of that feature succesfully was a SM|Lock (what isn't?).
Where do we class Ensnaring Swordmages? 

I'd say they aren't capable of being real defenders... the only build that ever made use of that feature succesfully was a SM|Lock (what isn't?).



I know someone tried to do something useful with it, couldn't remember if it was actually defending or if they even succeeded.

Assault isn't really much better as a defender. 
Where do we class Ensnaring Swordmages? 

I'd say they aren't capable of being real defenders... the only build that ever made use of that feature succesfully was a SM|Lock (what isn't?).


Yes, I did a gimmicky SM|Starlock that used Ensnaring Aegis to trigger Dire Radiance. And that was more of a striker trick than a defender one, since it lacked any sort of capacity to actually prevent attacks.

I guess it's up to Yuukale whether to include specific builds that don't work or just overall classes.

I would definitely propose the Sentinel for the Leaders-that-can't-lead list, though. Apart from the heal, it does nothing leadery at all. It's probably the only Leader that flat out doesn't work, though. The rest all have at least one decent trick they can pull.
I've made use of Ensnaring successfully with a Battlemind|Swordmage. 3 uses of Lightning Rush makes the Aegis very situational and Ensnaring tends to be the best option of the situational choices - I don't usually want to teleport out of position because that frees up my non-Aegis marks and I'd rather use Lightning Rush than Shielding almost all the time - but the moments where I want to put someone into burst formation, I usually really want them in burst formation.

But that too is a hybrid. 
I think it would be useful if this guide would not just list the classes that are awful at their role, but also the classes that are average or great at their role. That way, it wouldn't only answer which classes to avoid, but also such questions as "is the rogue a better striker than the avenger" and such. This would be highly useful for beginning players, plus it would make the guide more positive (avoiding the more-heat-than-light mentioned earlier).,

How about simply making a list of roles, and rating each class (that has that role listed) on its effectivity within that role? 
A few notable off-role classes could be listed; for instance, the blaster wizard should be listed under strikers as well (albeit not as skyblue) because people expect to be able to play it as a striker. Paladin should be listed under leaders somewhere, likewise because expect it to be there. Maybe the warlock should be in the above controller list. "Any class with charge-op" should be an entry on its own in the striker list, probably (and several strikers would have a lower rating than that if they don't charge-op). $.02
I think it would be useful if this guide would not just list the classes that are awful at their role, but also the classes that are average or great at their role. That way, it wouldn't only answer which classes to avoid, but also such questions as "is the rogue a better striker than the avenger" and such. This would be highly useful for beginning players, plus it would make the guide more positive (avoiding the more-heat-than-light mentioned earlier).,

How about simply making a list of roles, and rating each class (that has that role listed) on its effectivity within that role? 
A few notable off-role classes could be listed; for instance, the blaster wizard should be listed under strikers as well (albeit not as skyblue) because people expect to be able to play it as a striker. Paladin should be listed under leaders somewhere, likewise because expect it to be there. Maybe the warlock should be in the above controller list. "Any class with charge-op" should be an entry on its own in the striker list, probably (and several strikers would have a lower rating than that if they don't charge-op). $.02



I suspect that would make things worse, not better.
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Why:

For one thing, many of their powers are just designed poorly. For example, instead of blinding enemies, it makes a big cloud of darkness that can hinder allies just as much as enemies. Another huge design flaw was the copy/pasting of the boon trigger from hexblades, requiring you to either kill something or be adjacent to something when it dies to gain your boon. Next to enemies is not typically where a ranged controller wants to be, especially one that drops AOEs that hinder everyone including itself.

Bladesinger
Why: Its features and powers are striker-oriented with just the occasional control (even though they aren't near striker-damage benchmark without perhaps, charge-op).

Since we're talking about control, the real issue is that Bladesingers never really "graduate" from early-heroic types of control.  At level 1, their best control is probably at-will proning. At level 30, their best control is probably... at-will proning. They never get "hard control" like daze, blind, stun, and dominate, and by paragon if you're not doing hard control you're not a controller.

Add to this the ridiculous idea to force them to choose encounter powers as daily powers, and you have a real squandered opportunity for a cool class. Although jumping through some wierd/crazy optimization hoops can make some neat (and certainly developer-unintended) builds.


Swarm Druid (past low Heroic)
Why:

Don't think anyone has come out and said it, but the main issue with Swarm Druids are that they are designed to have low defenses and rely on damage reduction to survive. This falls apart when you realize that damage reduction doesn't do anything to stop being immobilized, blinded, dominated, etc.  Couple this with swarm powers that assume you're in the thick of combat all the time, and you have a class that is likely to die a lot.
Well, for the rating classes/builds according to their capacities fall squarely on the classes' handbooks idea. Buuuut, I will add an excerpt to mention "fail builds" - as for example, the ensnaring Swordmage.

Rating the classes as to "who are the best strikers" feels like another handbook. Kinda like: "A guide to wolverines: the best at what they do" (ok, lame joke).  After I finish this, perhaps I'll open up the ranking classes topic.
That one would seem a lot harder to me, because it at least partially depends on tiers a lot.  sure, some classes are across the board great, but others have arcs- the DPR for a rogue is pretty amazing in heroic but by epic is just okay (though they can usually balance that with high spikes of damage and some great single target control), While Barbs start slow and become engines of destruction. 
With community input, all is doable =D

Though I still would like to do something like my original idea, getting to compile classes that have secondary roles as competent as if it was their primary, such as Battlemind being strikers.
It wouldn't be all that difficult, since you are only rating them relative to each other and whether they can fill the role.

The thing is if you did it, it'd immediately obsolete this handbook, because the classes rated Red would be the same ones on this list. Also it'd be a reasonable place to put classes that can fill a secondary role, if built for it, since you are after all rating everything and not just failures.
Well, for the rating classes/builds according to their capacities fall squarely on the classes' handbooks idea. Buuuut, I will add an excerpt to mention "fail builds" - as for example, the ensnaring Swordmage.

Rating the classes as to "who are the best strikers" feels like another handbook. Kinda like: "A guide to wolverines: the best at what they do" (ok, lame joke).  After I finish this, perhaps I'll open up the ranking classes topic.

I'm sorry, but I can't hear/see that particular catch phrase without thinking about Astonishing X-Men #15. Tongue Out

Well, for the rating classes/builds according to their capacities fall squarely on the classes' handbooks idea. Buuuut, I will add an excerpt to mention "fail builds" - as for example, the ensnaring Swordmage.


Given the recent powers, I think it's actually time for Charop to revise our opinion on that. There's enough powers in the SM list alone to allow a Snaremage to actually be a Defender. Entirely worse than a Shieldmage or the |Warlock variants, mind you, but an effective Defender none the less.
"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.
Don't think anyone has come out and said it, but the main issue with Swarm Druids are that they are designed to have low defenses and rely on damage reduction to survive. This falls apart when you realize that damage reduction doesn't do anything to stop being immobilized, blinded, dominated, etc.  Couple this with swarm powers that assume you're in the thick of combat all the time, and you have a class that is likely to die a lot.



Swarm Druids only lack the AC fix and most of hard control powers target NADs anyway, don't they?

With the advent of MM3 damage expressions you basically either ignore your class feature and take Int or Dex as your secondary, or you die. The build is designed to be in melee and AC gets hit a lot in melee. Ignoring Con... well most of your riders are based on Con, so having it low really brings into question why exactly you picked Swarm. I guess if the Druid overall is Black (with Polearm Predator being Blue, if a pain in the ass to play correctly) you can Swarm, Go Dex/Wis, ignore your class feature completely and never pick powers with a Swarm Rider, you'd still be Black? Maybe? You're edging into Purple at that point and you're only doing it by ignoring your class feature, which is still a design failure.

Barbarians don't quite fall into this the same way, because 1-3 points is fine for their riders and they also get powers from their class features which are just useful. Swift Charge is awesome.
You're generally not taking Swarm for the riders...you should be going WereX themes simply so you can use non-Beast form options in Beast form. You sacrifice a point of AC for 2-5 resist at the cost of a feat in Epic. Which oddly enough, Werebear gives back.

And Druid has 3 encounter dominates, at 7, 17, and 23. In the context that those are the best powers in the Druid's arsenal and WereX exists, the best Druid option, crazily enough, is gaining damage reduction over +1 speed or +1 to hit with powers which are not dominate.
You're generally not taking Swarm for the riders...you should be going WereX themes simply so you can use non-Beast form options in Beast form.  You sacrifice a point of AC for 2-5 resist at the cost of a feat in Epic.


Doesn't a situation of "Take this class just so you can exploit a theme that really gives you what you want" count as a design failure?

You're not taking Swarm because you want to be a Swarm Druid.  You're taking Swarm because of a middling bonus to something unrelated to the class.

That counts as design failure in my book.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
You're generally not taking Swarm for the riders...you should be going WereX themes simply so you can use non-Beast form options in Beast form.  You sacrifice a point of AC for 2-5 resist at the cost of a feat in Epic.


Doesn't a situation of "Take this class just so you can exploit a theme that really gives you what you want" count as a design failure?

You're not taking Swarm because you want to be a Swarm Druid.  You're taking Swarm because of a middling bonus to something unrelated to the class.

That counts as design failure in my book.



I'm not arguing that it is a design success.

I'm arguing that it is one of the better Druid options because the best Druid powers don't have significant riders based on primal aspect and WereX bypasses the Beastform problem. 22 Dex/20 Con+Second Skin might not be 14 Dex/28 Con or 28 Dex/14 Con, but it ought to be a reasonably decent compromise - again, given that Werebear, Second Skin, and Elven Chain Shirt exist.
Well, for the rating classes/builds according to their capacities fall squarely on the classes' handbooks idea. Buuuut, I will add an excerpt to mention "fail builds" - as for example, the ensnaring Swordmage.


Given the recent powers, I think it's actually time for Charop to revise our opinion on that. There's enough powers in the SM list alone to allow a Snaremage to actually be a Defender. Entirely worse than a Shieldmage or the |Warlock variants, mind you, but an effective Defender none the less.


Keeping Zathris's remark in mind, this discussion explains very well why an Ensnaring Swordmage is pretty bad. It was written before the release of the recent powers Zathris mentions.
The major problem is that ensnare mage is pretty much strictly inferior to Shielding due to fantastic shielding riders.
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!
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