I walk the line: conceptual optimization or ''no Hope without Op''

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Hi,

I've been lurking on this forum for quite a while under many accounts and started posting a bit more in the last weeks. I'm sure this proposition came up many times, but many it would be a good idea to make a bridge, or a middle line, between CharOp and CharDev. I'm asking this because it seems more and more frequent to see on CharOp people, new players or older players with new games in mind, asking questions about a character they want to play but get destroyed by people telling them to play something completly different because their concept did not meet the strict mathematical prerequisites of CharOp. It seems that all new players might start to think that playing 4th Ed revolve around elemental exploit and numbers crunching; that DnD 4ed is more of a math class than a board game.

If you take time to go see on CharDev, you'll often see that people answers to some players questions are not incredible Opcharacters. This is a probleme with the fact that CharDev do rarely suggest optimizable builds and that CharOp refuse to compromise to add some flavour. Seriously, for some time, I been feeling that most new players are told to make a choice between their original build concept and an optimized character; like if the two were not possible at the same time with a little compromise. This is where i would suggest a ''conceptual optimization'' thread for people who would like some advices to make their build better without the automatique OpAnswer: ''Play something else, Binders sucks''. I dont know how it would end, probaly nowhere, but I think that some older members of CharOp's advice would be helpfull to people even if its not a ''mathematical  optimization''. I guess you would agree that if you want to play an Eladrin Scout, is really anoying that your first answer is: '' play a Pixie exec-charger, its much better''. CharOp is still the best place to transform your character in a real powerhouse but, you know, its not always more fun to be more powerful (I'm sure you have all seen some cases of player's jalousy or Dm's frustration because of an overpowered character). I'd like to see a thread where members try to optimize the player's concept rather than his role's stats, if you get my point: A player want to play a Halfing Warden? Optimize (meaning ''get the most out of it'') around those facts rather than suggesting other hafling defenders. People arent that stupid: they know this is a unusual build and that a Dwarven Warden is muh better. Anyway, here's an idea from an old man, and I'd like to hear some opinions from CharOpers on this.
The trouble is that the answer to concept-op, from the char-op perspective is 'flavour is mutable, play something good and reflavour it'.  Being bound by the (usually terrible) writing in the flavour text of things is silly; that's what imagination is for.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
^ This.
I really like, when somebody asks for optimization around a mechanical concept,  even if it's one that is not used regularly, but find optimizing around fluff concepts rather dull.
Quite right, refluffling powers is clearly a most in 4ed. But still, there is a great demand for race+class combo optimization that goes beyond simple reflufing. I mean, sure I can refluf the names of some powers to fit the character-concept, but it would be hard to refluf a divine attack into an arcane attack (tough divine to primal seems easier), or to refluf a Goliath to an Elf just for stats sake, I you know what I mean. If everything can be refluffed, I almost wonder why there is so many races and classes if all that matters is the stats in the end. By the way, I'm quite thrilled by your quick response to what I believed to be a thread quick to vanish in the forum's depth, especialy from the guy who made guides about the Hunters and the Eladrin Knight, wich are classes and builds more or less well-loved from a ''mathOp'' point of view. So much easier to go Goliath knight, right? But still.... :P
There is a vast difference between choosing a concept that you know is subpar (but wanting to optimize it anyway), and beleiveing that something subpar is actually already optimal.

In my experiences, i've seen many people get decent help as long as they have a modicum of system mastery and approach CharOp the correct way. I've seen many many threads where the Op says "this is for a low [or mid] Op game", and the responses are along the lines of "that build is good enough for that game, if you do much more you will outperform the the rest of the party".
The problems come in when poster gives little to no informoration, and then is suprised by the CharOp default assumption that it is for a high-op game with a strict reading of RAW.


But, keep in mind, that 4e *is* about scaling math, and if the player doesn't put in some effort to at least scale along the designers' baseline assumptions, it *will* fall behind the expected curve.
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
Quite right, refluffling powers is clearly a most in 4ed. But still, there is a great demand for race+class combo optimization that goes beyond simple reflufing. I mean, sure I can refluf the names of some powers to fit the character-concept, but it would be hard to refluf a divine attack into an arcane attack (tough divine to primal seems easier), or to refluf a Goliath to an Elf just for stats sake, I you know what I mean. If everything can be refluffed, I almost wonder why there is so many races and classes if all that matters is the stats in the end.



It isn't that everything could or should be refluffed. Just that if your heart is set on playing certain options, if you're in a game where the DM isn't pulling punches, you're going to need to be absolutely ruthless about how you optimize the rest of the game.

To a large extent, the problem really isn't strictly about optimization being necessary so much as the following:
Your DM needs to be 4e savvy enough to downshift the game once you get into Paragon/Epic to make up for the party's bad choices. If the group as a whole is poorly optimized, this is often problematic.
It helps a lot when no one is the star of the table to the point where other players, particularly players of sub-optimal builds will get upset that they're not being effective. 
A lot of people that start threads have really lousy attitudes, they come in with preconceptions and dismiss any attempts to answer their questions or alter their build even though, theoretically, that's the reason they're here. When people have a good attitude and want to receive helpful criticism then things go better for them and they get a lot more out of it. Not everybody has to copy every bit of advice given, but the advice is worthwhile here so they shouldn't complain when they get it, people here are going to suggest better alternatives when they are logical, it doesn't mean the OP must obey it. The advice isn't usually to scrap the whole thing unless there's a really good reason.
Indeed - that's the other trouble.  Most threads of people who turn out to 'want to optimise a CONCEPT, man', are just people looking for CharOp to pat them on the back and tell them they've done a good job.  We don't do that.  If it's a steaming pile, we'll say so.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
People arent that stupid

“Ignorance is not stupidity, but it might as well be. And I do not like feeling stupid.”

― Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion

The difference between stupidity and ignorance is one is curable. Most people have no idea that 4e has a pretty rigorous power curve. I've lost track of how many people I've talked to who think Paragon is the worst designed part of 4e (whereas if you ask anyone in CharOp, it is one of the most fun). Why? Because most people don't optimize, they don't think it is "neccesary." So they end up behind the power curve with a DM who does nothing to compensate for that fact and the game ends up being a grind. I'm not talking about top tier optimization, but optimized enough to meet baseline. And it is a grind, normal encounters lasting 8+ rounds, etc.

Generally people don't know that the concept they are playing isn't going to make baseline without top tier optimization. They picked it for "flavor." Then, surprise, they want to build the rest of the character for flavor as well. When they are given suggestions that will make their build meet baseline, they complain it isn't matching their flavor. Usually at this point they have basic system math explained to them and never post again, because they feel like we are ruining their fun. Not perhaps realizing that 4e played outside the power curve on the low side isn't fun and we're trying to save them from that. Some people are that stupid, the rest are ignorant and you simply don't know which you are dealing with. So you run through the same educational banter. The people who adjust their expectations? They were ignorant and now they aren't. I don't mean this in a mean way at all, but like the man said:


“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

― Isaac Asimov

A lot of people come in here knowing nothing about the game math, the game's design, etc., and then argue when we tell them their character isn't going to work well enough, even in a low-op game, if they keep it the way it is. And they refuse to change it. They get a poor reaction.

"Optimizing" within constraints is something CharOp does all the time, mechanically. "I want this PP" or "it has to be this race/class." Fine. But optimizing within flavor when flavor is mutable is not a reasonable request.

That sticks purely to people who are ignorant of optimization and want advice and then don't take it. There are other people who get poor reactions (people who think they posted a good build and wanted some minor tweaks to optimize it, when the build itself is beyond bad and needs to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch, people who are using a game element which is one way in the rules and another way in the CB and then won't listen when you tell them it doesn't work like that, etc).
The main problem of people asking advice is, that they tend to have combinations containing too many factors in mind. Some example:

"I want to build an Eladrin Warden that uses a crossbow" is an impossible task to be anything but horrible. 

Now, if the person asking for advice would instead just tell us, what's her main priority, without the explicit need, that all her requirements are combined in this build, and would instead paraphrase the less important factors to something more general, it could look like this:

"Mhm, i'm really dead set on playing an Eladrin, in best case a defender of some kind. I'd also like to have some ways of ranged combat".

Now THAT is something CharOP could perfectly work with to bring ideas how to truly optimize that concept, cause we only have to browse through all combinations in the given order:

1. Race: Eladrin
2. Defender
3. some way for ranged combat 

and would come to the conclusion of a SM|WL/Sigil Carver, for example. Since the major priorities are satisfied and SC's f16 kind of is ranged (not in game terms, but literally). And even if lower level priorities weren't satisfied, the OP might like the suggestions anyway. And if not, we can way better work on from that point.

Deadlocked concepts like the Spiderman net-hunter recently, that did consist of a dozen bad mechanical decisions, the OP was dead set on, don't give CharOP any chance of helping.




Thx guys for all the answers,

@Chainsaw: Its funny you bring foward the bad attitude thing, as I just read the thread with the guy building a swordmage for the Forgotten Realms and dont want to hear anything about any changes (''PEACH my builds but I wont change anything anyway'' kind of guy, I think Zathris might have killed him). I was considering the idea to create a thread that deals with those kind of attitude. You know, a thread where Mr.I-Wont-change-A-thing would post his restricted build (however boring they might be) and CharOp members deals with the optimizing within those restrictions (must be reasonable tough, it *is* still a game, no need to ask for advice if you dont want to). Maybe change the name from ''conceptual optimizing'' to ''resticted optimizing'', I love the irony of the second.

@Mommy: I've had a problem myself with a party half-optimized/half-bad where people tough funny to be bad. Their philosophy was: I'm more an hardcore player because I play a bad character with wrong feats choice etc. As a Dm myself, I do hate it when I need to refrain from making the quest as I'd like because my players didnt want nothing to with CharOp. But the opposite is true: I would'nt like all my player to exploit frostcheese or Radiant mafia and being rage-quited when I pull up a cold-resistant monster because: ''I'm playing against their optimization''. That's is one of the reason that brought me to think of a thread where mid-Op was balanced with the flavor of CharDev (who is receiving less and less visit these time, saddly). I mean, in 30 minutew I've had many great names from CharOp and I'm sure that you guys would be great at suggesting flavor-boosted build to new players. 

@Onikani: I guess one good thing would be to ask every poster to specify their campaign setting. It,s quite clear that more info would avoid some anger issues i've seen recently. Like you said, specify if their playing a Low magic world (wich prevent cold/radiant exploit due to weapons of magic weapons rarity), are they looking for Mid-Op or not, what's their party settup, and: is there anychance the rest of the party will be reading this thread (Here on CharOp we tend to discuss each party members build rather than just the OP's :p )

Again, my thanks to all of you, I'll still be gattering  opinions about the place of flavor in optimization.
@Alcestis: I bet there is, but I'll ask anyway: is there a place on this forum where we can find a list or a representation of this powercurv. You know: a list that shows the ideal Stats, damage output, etc of each role depending of level? BTW, i love the Asimov quotes, I think i'll get a new tatoo.
You wont ever get advice for building a char on 50% of its potential power level here. However, for example, if your restriction is a certain PP (that shouldn't be totally horrible ofc) and that PP is not the most optimal, but follows a concept, that makes any sense in mechanical terms, you will get help here and CharOP will optimize the last bit out of that concept.


@Onikani: I guess one good thing would be to ask every poster to specify their campaign setting. It,s quite clear that more info would avoid some anger issues i've seen recently. Like you said, specify if their playing a Low magic world (wich prevent cold/radiant exploit due to weapons of magic weapons rarity), are they looking for Mid-Op or not, what's their party settup, and: is there anychance the rest of the party will be reading this thread (Here on CharOp we tend to discuss each party members build rather than just the OP's :p )



Kinda like RuinsFate did here?


there a place on this forum where we can find a list or a representation of this powercurv. You know: a list that shows the ideal Stats, damage output, etc of each role depending of level?



The basic power curve is that a striker can kill a same level enemy in 3 hits. Naturally this means something different at each level, but it is roughly 20/40/60 per tier at a minimum. This also means that a good multi-hit or AP sequence should kill a same level mob.


Most of charop will tell you that mid/high op builds should be doing those numbers at-will, expect overall damage to be at a minimum of 20/60/90, and have the ability to encounter nova a same level standard in one round, and daily nova an elite in one round (or a solo in epic tier).

Otherwise basic (desinger) benchmarks are 
Ac: Level +15 (18-19 for defenders)
Nads: Level +13
Attack rolls against AC: level +6 (without conditional mods or ca)
Attack rolls agains Nads: Level +4

In other words, exactly 1 point higher than an enemy of the same level.


FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
Yeah, that's the reason in life of CharOp, and there's been so many great thing that came out of this forum, I'm amazed. Damn, it changed me from a 3.5 purist to a believer in the Fourth! But, there is still this question: What happen of those guys we wont help because of their focus (obsession) for flavor (that sadly some believe to be opposite of CharOP, damned Roleplay VS Optimization fallacy!)? CharDev wont help them, nor will CharOp. The problem's that they gonna go bakc to their game with bad characters not even slightly optimized and probably ruin their party and their game. Now, we can all agree that is really not our problem, that would be true, but my aging Dm's sixth sense urges me to find this middle line between CharOp and CharDev to avoid losing dedicated player because of the newcommers wronged conception of CharOping.

Thanks for the Stats. And for the guide to CharOp, I never took the time to read it, my bad. You know, it just never caught my eye I guess. It's there, alright, but posters still arent telling much of there campaing setting or expectation.  
@Alcestis: I bet there is, but I'll ask anyway: is there a place on this forum where we can find a list or a representation of this powercurv. You know: a list that shows the ideal Stats, damage output, etc of each role depending of level? BTW, i love the Asimov quotes, I think i'll get a new tatoo.

No, actually, that'd be a semi-useful handbook. It has been tried before but it got bogged down when it tried to make benchmarks for things outside of strikers. Strikers are dead easy. But basically..

Defenses:

AC: Level+18 for Defender, Level+16 for Melee, Level+14 for Ranged. There are exceptions, but those are the general benchmarks.
NADS: Level+12 across the board minimum (one won't make it). One, ideally two, level+16.

Attack:

Level+5 vs AC for Weapon users with no conditional mods, level+3 for Implement users. Those are bare minimum requirements (16 stat). Ideally you take a race that boosts your attack stat and, if you are a weapon user, take a +3 Prof weapon and end up at level+7/level+4, respectively.

Strikers need to be able to solar flare (one round) nova a standard off the board on, ideally, an encounter basis (every other encounter is acceptable if you need the AP to do it) and then be able to average a kill once every three rounds. So 33% of SMHP per round. Every other person should be doing a kill roughly once every four, possibly five, rounds. Optimized strikers will absolutely be able to remove a standard with a nova, possibly an elite, and be killing a standard every two rounds thereafter. It is worth noting that estrikers, and any striker that struggles with the nova part, should be doing higher at-will damage to compensate for the low nova. This is why a lot of estrikers fall very far behind as you go higher in level: no acceptable nova.

As for helping people who don't want to be helped: Nothing you can do. It really isn't our problem and we can't force them to learn the game.
Too bad about that guide, it would have been uber-useful to make a canvas for basic optimization. Wish I was better with numbers. As for people not wanting help, you're quite right. A least a guide with the explanation of the power curve would have been usefull so people might a least force their concept to meet some bare statistical minimums by themselves without having ask-but-not-ask PEACH of their ''flavorOp''. Ahhhh well, some good intentions wasted. Thank you for everything.
A lot of people that start threads have really lousy attitudes, they come in with preconceptions and dismiss any attempts to answer their questions or alter their build even though, theoretically, that's the reason they're here. When people have a good attitude and want to receive helpful criticism then things go better for them and they get a lot more out of it. Not everybody has to copy every bit of advice given, but the advice is worthwhile here so they shouldn't complain when they get it, people here are going to suggest better alternatives when they are logical, it doesn't mean the OP must obey it. The advice isn't usually to scrap the whole thing unless there's a really good reason.



Really?

Reading the replies, I often think the old CharOps are the ones that have the lousy attitudes. Someone comes saying clearly "I would like to play X, I want to improve X, but still keep it X" (Let's say a spideman-themed hunter, or a back-line healer). The first response is usually "you are a retard, how dare you sully the pure waters of 4e, this is CharOp you n00b." The rest of thread is people saying then how stupid the original concept is, how they have to play one of 3 primary striking builds (Twin Strike, Divine Bolts, Eldrich Strike) or the OP is doing it wrong, or to "just refluff" the rebreather as a pacifist samurai.

In such a small percentage is the OP treated with respect or any of the questions answered. You'll notice a lot of the people who post never come back for a second time with another character concern. I wonder why that is?

As for helping people who don't want to be helped: Nothing you can do. It really isn't our problem and we can't force them to learn the game.

I tihnk this is part of it. The old CharOp have decided CharOp means "MathsOp," while new people think it means "ConceptOp." One group has determined for themselves some "minimum requirements," whilst the other just wants to have a better version of their character.
I've also noticed that there is indeed fewer ''patrons'' on the CharOp forum. While it's true that the old ''twin-strike is the answer to life's questions'' is sometime boring, some newcomers just have a bad attitude and only came to brag about their new character. Regardless, this is why we should be considering a thread for ''Concept stats Improvement'' in the CharOp section (or in another one), something that goes beyond the maths. I never tought that someone would speak of a ''4th ed purity'' as we all did back in the time with the 3.5 :P, and I do think that the 4ed gave so many more options than before to allow a near infinite mix-n-match combos with classes/races/theme/PP/ED. There's so many choices to make while buidling a character that it would be totally dumb for us to say that people who have hard time learning all the rules are desperate idiots. I'm quite sure all ofus made really crappy characters in their campaing once in a while. Zippy has a point when he says that some posters are quick to judge some people builds as non-playable because the poster did take some powers for flavor: the build would be less strong, but not non-playable. I dont think WotC made any class non-playable...I'm sure with a little good will a Vampire can be almost useful in a party...maybe.

Anyway, lets try to keep in mind that we should not be looking for who has the worst attitude issues, and keep on giving ideas on how to deal with those issues. (Man I swear, Its like couple therapy, but online :p ) 
The first response is usually "you are a retard, how dare you sully the pure waters of 4e, this is CharOp you n00b."



hyperbole doesn't help your point any

if this is how you are interpreting responses, you are the one with the lousy attitude

The first response is usually "you are a retard, how dare you sully the pure waters of 4e, this is CharOp you n00b."



hyperbole doesn't help your point any

if this is how you are interpreting responses, you are the one with the lousy attitude



Yeah ... go read that thread again if you think the early answers were dismissive or derogatory unless you include my insulting of the hunter class. OP asked for help optimizing his concept "I basically want to be able to do the basic things that Spidey does: wall-crawl, shoot webs, jump around." and he was told which class would do that best, and then he instantly replied saying that wasn't what he asked for even though it rather specifically was (though I should have elaborated on HOW wizard fit better, I made the mistake of assuming he might actually look at Wizard powers)

As per pretty much usual, we answered the question multiple times politely in the first 10 posts (if you ignore the posts discussing what OP means)
"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.
I dont think WotC made any class non-playable

community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

Um. They have, sadly.

@Zippy: The designers built in the baselines to the game, actually. CharOp did a lot of grunt work figuring out what can (and can't) make baseline. You are engaging in a false dichotomy, it isn't "Optimize numbers" or "optimize flavor." Tons of CharOp builds (Master of Puppets, Sainted Justice, the Penitent) have great flavor that people love. Go look at the threads. But when someone comes in and wants to optimize a concept and the concept doesn't make baseline as the person is imagining it, you have to start changing mechanics. In order for the mechanics to still match their concept, they have to reimagine it. This is called refluffing. It is a standard part of 4e. Some people don't like it. You know what everyone hates though? Playing a character that sucks. And in many cases people who come to CharOp, refuse to change, go play their bad character... you know what they do? They come back, sheepishly, hat in hand, because exactly what everyone said was going to happen, happened; their character sucked. Now they are willing to listen.

So, again, you can't force people to learn the game. It is not our problem if someone wants to come to a forum full of experts on a subject and then ignore the people they are asking advice from. That is just rude.
Uhh ... C.O. had a "bad" reputation as far back as 2002
before 3.5e came out.  The other boards existed back then.

I think the noob seperation between "I wanna play X" and
"I wanna play something that works" is a gulf uncrossable.
Some of the "I wanna play X" with the pat on the back
mentioned a few posts back, can work but only as a
Companion Character.  And then still needs a casual +1.

The average new poster to C.O. has no idea about this.
At all.
But there are hints at this in the collective subconcious
of all players of the game.  You roll the dice 1000 times
and your mind picks up on patterns your tongue can't say.
You roll the dice 10 000 times, and you hear about some
grumpy dudes on a board (oughta be) barred to Commoner 1s.
Hello C.O.

I've also noticed that there is indeed fewer ''patrons'' on the CharOp forum ...


5e/Next ... (cough)

5E mini- SRD available now in HTML here:  http://dnd.wizards.com/products/tabletop/players-basic-rules

 

I mean, sure I can refluf the names of some powers to fit the character-concept, but it would be hard to refluf a divine attack into an arcane attack (tough divine to primal seems easier), or to refluf a Goliath to an Elf just for stats sake, I you know what I mean.

I think sometimes the issue is that people just don't understand how powerful refluffing can be. It goes far beyond simply renaming powers - you can completely deconstruct them down to their primary effects and keywords and then rebuild them from there. It also helps to realize that terms like "arcane" and "divine" mean literally nothing in the context of describing your powers. They are simply 1) mechanical concepts that tie the power to certain feats, features, etc. and 2) a kind of roleplaying crutch for people who have trouble visualizing their own flavor.

A typical power is simply a means to deliver damage and/or effects. Maybe your area burst 1 with the fire keyword is called a fireball, but it could just as easily be a targeted strike from an airship hovering overhead, an alchemist's grenade, a vent opening up in the ground shooting lava up, a summoned dragon swooping in for a quick fire breath, ...I could go on and on. And at least 10 other people here could come up with just as many descriptions just as easily.

The real balance between mechanics and concept is to boil down your concept to the simplest mechanical terms (fire-based striker with a lot of mobility, psychic-type controller that messes with the mind, etc.), choose something that satisfies those terms, and then build the concept from there. "Class" and "race" doesn't actually describe who you are - just what you can do. "Power Source" doesn't really describe anything at all unless you're playing in specific campaign worlds, and even then it is easily worked around if the DM permits it.

It seems a lot of people react to this kind of reasoning as being a slave to mechanics or putting them above the concept, but that's not the issue at all. Your concept is literally only bound by your imagination, while your mechanics are bound by many, many rules. You truly give up nothing with respect to concept when you make your mechanical choices, because concept can be layered on top of anything with enough creativity.

Looking back at the characters I've played, I think the ones most popular at the table were the ones most heavily refluffed. Most of the other players didn't even know what class (and sometimes race) I was playing, but that was a good thing - they stopped focusing on the preconceptions of my class and instead focused on my character.

I can't emphasize enough that mechanics and roleplaying are not at all ever at odds with each other, so finding an area of "compromise" isn't the solution. The solution is a full realization of what refluffing is and what you can do with it. It's about breaking the shackles of preconceived fluff and making a character that's truly your own, and that also just happens to be fun and effective in combat.
“Ignorance is not stupidity, but it might as well be. And I do not like feeling stupid.”

― Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion


One of my favourite books.
As per pretty much usual, we answered the question multiple times politely in the first 10 posts (if you ignore the posts discussing what OP means)

This. Usually the answer is in the first three.

I've seen plenty of first-time posters start threads that devolved into ugliness...but almost every single time, their questions were answered correctly, respectfully, and completely in the early responses. The devolution from there has a few reasons (I would say it's about 45-45-10 between the OP being obnoxious, another poster just deciding to be a jerk for no apparent reason, and genuine well-founded disagreements).
Most people don't optimize, they don't think it is "neccesary." So they end up behind the power curve with a DM who does nothing to compensate for that fact and the game ends up being a grind. I'm not talking about top tier optimization, but optimized enough to meet baseline. And it is a grind, normal encounters lasting 8+ rounds, etc.



This has been biting me recently. Recently started playing with a party of completely unoptimized players, and the DM has been playing with them so long she thinks this is what 4e is supposed to look like. So what does she do when I start helping people with their builds? She buffs monster health until the encounters still last 6 to 8 rounds.


Sigh... 
Feel free to link her to this thread. A standard party should do an at-level encounter in 4 rounds, max, barring some weird skill challenge built-in to the encounter or something (though technically that should raise the encounter level).

At an average of 10 "encounters" (7 combast, 3 skill) per level, 7 6-8 round combats is 49 rounds where it should be around 20-25. So not quite double the expected, but close. Which means you are spending nearly twice as much time in combat as you should be.

Ask her if she'd like to have half her combat time back for building her world. Oh, and encourage her to use MM3 monster math (DMG errata document, last page). She can adjust any monsters she is using with the table. A lot of DMs like to drag combat about becuse they don't feel it is very threatening otherwise.

Oh, oh! Offer to DM a one-shot and do the monsters/encounters correctly. Let her actually see the difference.
 Offer to DM a one-shot and do the monsters/encounters correctly. Let her actually see the difference.



Great advice, but I'd offer the caveat to make sure her character (as well as everyone else's) has some level of optimization first. Bringing MM3 mobs into an encounter with, characters like, say, a Shadar-Kai Binder, Shardmind Assault Swordmage, and a *blanking on race* Ardent is not going to persuade players of the merits of faster combat so much as it is going to kill them in the first 2-3 rounds.  

Seriously, I'd consider it a win if I could get my teammates to pick an array instead of rolling stats.  
 Offer to DM a one-shot and do the monsters/encounters correctly. Let her actually see the difference.



Great advice, but I'd offer the caveat to make sure her character (as well as everyone else's) has some level of optimization first. Bringing MM3 mobs into an encounter with, characters like, say, a Shadar-Kai Binder, Shardmind Assault Swordmage, and a *blanking on race* Ardent is not going to persuade players of the merits of faster combat so much as it is going to kill them in the first 2-3 rounds.  

Seriously, I'd consider it a win if I could get my teammates to pick an array instead of rolling stats.  


I think this is a good example of the table play vs CharOp disparity. Completely "unplayable" characters with a questionably knowledgeable DM are still playing 4e with success. Not necessarily 4e with the baseline assumptions respected by either side of the screen, but still definately 4e. 

Building on this, I'd agree with the OP that flavourOP would be a nice idea. Some tables play ruthlessly (I assume this is the case for Pink, Fardiz & Alcestis), and some do not, so the level of optimisation needs to be tweaked. Then we won't get the first few replies to threads being things like:
Rerolling the two said chars would be a good start for party op.


4e has an expected power curve for encounter design. Some builds simply cannot meet the expected power curve. So if your DM builds encounters by the books, your party is doing to die. Ensnaring Swordmages and Rogue|Wizard is really that bad. If he builds encounters around your very low-powered party, it won't matter what you play, so optimization is kind of pointless. Particularly if you aren't going to listen when people tell you that a lot of the choices already made are very bad.


Play a rebreather, use your breath 3 times per turn, have the other characters ready healing potions to get you up whenever you drop.
Advantages:
- Pretty much optimal way to end encounters
- Doesn't require the other players to reroll their characters
- Emphasis on teamwork
Disadvantages:
- None of the above should ever be taken seriously.
I don't mean to sound rude or anything, but if you want to do any sort of party optimization, the two other players need to change their characters.
Optimal party of 3 is probably a warlord, a multiattacking striker with a good basic attack and either an ultimate defender or a morninglord blaster. 



The quotes were found on my next tab from an active 'I am making a 3rd character for this arcane trickster themed party' type of thread where the answers fail to respect the OP or refuse to offer advice to his questions. I'm sure with any amount of searching we could find a large number of other quotes where the question is not answered, only the OP ridiculed.

So I think it would be viable that there is a section where someone can still improve their character, without having to meet the strict CharOp requirements.

In regards to refluffing, I think it is definately worthwhile. I do know however, that quite a few players & DMs are either uncomfortable with it beyond a point, or feel it is 'cheating.' Mechanically it is identical whether the archer shoots an arrow or a trained attack hawk as long as it is still +12 vs AC, 1d10 +5, but there are just some people who will go only go so far with refluffing (may be comfortable saying they are throwing a javelin rather than shooting a bow, but not comfortable saying they are throwing a bolt of arcane energy). Rather than throw up your hands at it, I think it should be kept as a constraint to work within.
The quotes were found on my next tab from an active 'I am making a 3rd character for this arcane trickster themed party' type of thread where the answers fail to respect the OP or refuse to offer advice to his questions.



Ok, tell me how you would have resolved this scenario:
"I want to do party Op in a group of 2, the other character is an intelligence based vampire. What can I do to make this a great party?"
^ This.
This particular thread did proof that the OP's party was even too lazy to read the class handbooks, in which case CharOP can't do anything for them. This party is way beyond the cavemen/nuke analogy and trying to advise them what and why would require walls of text, they couldn't follow anyway.

Edit: Reading the class handbooks should be the least of effort, everyone, who asks for advice on the board should have done on his own, before asking for advice in the first place, imo.
I think this is a good example of the table play vs CharOp disparity. Completely "unplayable" characters with a questionably knowledgeable DM are still playing 4e with success. Not necessarily 4e with the baseline assumptions respected by either side of the screen, but still definately 4e. 

If "success" is defined as "failing to have any fun" then yes, many people play 4e succesfully. Many more have stopped playing 4e altogether and they are also technically playing 4e succesfully by that definition. Let us get this straight: most people who have half a clue will have a good time playing a P&P RPG if they are into playing P&P RPGs. Regardless of the system. In 4e's case they emphatically will not have fun during combat if they aren't playing within system assumptions. Since 4e is almost entirely combat centric, I would actually argue that anyone who isn't doing the combat part of 4e right is not, in fact, playing 4e. They are playing a game. This is really weird to me, but I have seen so many people grind through 4e combats and have zero fun for the four hours or whatever it takes them to get through it, but enjoy the one hour of roleplay on either side that has nothing to do with 4e mechanics.

This problem is so ubiquitious that WotC tried to redo the monster math and released classes that were, in theory, so hard to screw up that they met baseline even if you were knew nothing about 4e. They literally tried to redesign the game to fix this problem. CharOp's solution is less drastic: educate people that they shouldn't build bad characters, learn to refluff. The difference? CharOp's solution works.
In regards to refluffing, I think it is definately worthwhile. I do know however, that quite a few players & DMs are either uncomfortable with it beyond a point, or feel it is 'cheating.' Mechanically it is identical whether the archer shoots an arrow or a trained attack hawk as long as it is still +12 vs AC, 1d10 +5, but there are just some people who will go only go so far with refluffing (may be comfortable saying they are throwing a javelin rather than shooting a bow, but not comfortable saying they are throwing a bolt of arcane energy). Rather than throw up your hands at it, I think it should be kept as a constraint to work within.

Well the part that makes me throw my hands up is when those same people insist that mechanics oppose or in any way constrain roleplaying, and make it clear that they see optimizers as cold, robotic players in a game that's only about numbers. The only real constraint to roleplaying is their own unwillingness to see how flexible the system actually is.

"I want to do party Op in a group of 2, the other character is an intelligence based vampire. What can I do to make this a great party?"



Ugh, you had to pick intelligence? Charisma/Constitution would have at least opened the possibility that you were an Ardent or Battlemind Adept Dilettante'ing Vampire for the extra PP :P
The quotes were found on my next tab from an active 'I am making a 3rd character for this arcane trickster themed party' type of thread where the answers fail to respect the OP or refuse to offer advice to his questions. I'm sure with any amount of searching we could find a large number of other quotes where the question is not answered, only the OP ridiculed.

So I think it would be viable that there is a section where someone can still improve their character, without having to meet the strict CharOp requirements.

That was a particularly exceptional thread in the type of question being asked (good third party member for a party of ensnaring swordmage and shadar-kai rogue|wizard would be a nearly perfect troll question for CharOp, though I don't think the OP of that thread was trolling). There really wasn't much to say to help. Now, I would agree entirely that being unable to help doesn't mean that you should be rude, which a couple of the responses were (if you can't say anything nice...). But the question wasn't answered because it really had no good answer.

One particular issue in that case, and I'll agree with pink here, is that the way the question was asked made it abundantly clear that they hadn't done even the basic optimization effort of reading a handbook or any other form of investigation into optimization before posting. So not only was the question being asked essentially hopeless, but trying to get the OP to understand WHY it was hopeless was, in itself, hopeless. Usually, when I see a thread that's being bogged down like that one, I try to chime in with some help...in that particular case, it started with a bad premise and, even worse, an attitude that demonstrated a complete lack of effort in understanding what mechanical optimization is. So I didn't post anything.

And, no offense, but you didn't post anything to help that guy out either... Be the change you want to see in the board

EDIT: I'm probably being overly harsh to the OP on that other thread... if they hadn't (apparently) abandoned the thread already, I'd probably post some advice.
Well the part that makes me throw my hands up is when those same people insist that mechanics oppose or in any way constrain roleplaying, and make it clear that they see optimizers as cold, robotic players in a game that's only about numbers. The only real constraint to roleplaying is their own unwillingness to see how flexible the system actually is.


I agree it is silly to say mechanics oppose roleplaying, when the mechanics are there to support roleplaying & fairness.  I think it is hard to gauge the line in the sand for people to see what is 'allowable' and what is 'too far' for reflavouring. I know in some extreme cases I've seen ones where people are trying to port their 2e bow fighter into 4e and refusing to try a class that actually supports ranged attacks (or almost perfectly matches the 2e play style he wanted), all because the name of the class says 'Ranger' rather than 'Fighter.'

And, no offense, but you didn't post anything to help that guy out either... Be the change you want to see in the board


A very fair point! I enjoy lurking on the CharOp forums to learn what I can, but as a heroic-tier player only for several years now, I've been told my experience means I do not have valid opinions to post in CharOp. As such, I try to limit my postings to where it's heroic-tier only or where the discussion doesn't hinge on builds keeping pace in the higher tiers (like the essential classes - my beef with them is that they are boring to play, rather than they fall behind in later tiers).
That was a particularly exceptional thread in the type of question being asked (good third party member for a party of ensnaring swordmage and shadar-kai rogue|wizard would be a nearly perfect troll question for CharOp, though I don't think the OP of that thread was trolling).


Now, if it was a Shade Ensnaring Swordmage and Goliath Rogue|Wizard ...
"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.
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