Which role to double up on?

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If a standard D & D team is made up of 5 PC's, and a given group should prbably have a defender, controller, striker, and leader. what role should be the 5th spot ? Leader, striker, controller, defender,or does it matter? Ian.
Doesn't matter.
My personal preference would be cleric and warlord, but that's just currently, when I get the books it may change

Striker seems to be popular for the core book. Rogue, Ranger and Warlock are all Strikers....


It does matter, but there's no one right answer.

As long as you have all the roles covered well, you should be flexible enough to succeed in any situation; whatever you double up on should help you do better in the type of situation that calls for that role the most.

If you want to focus on the flexibility of having a balanced party, you may wish to look at what your secondary roles of your characters are, and cover a role or two that are underrepresented in your party's secondary roles. Secondary roles can come from multiclassing, but are also provided by the classes: Fighter is Defender(Striker), Paladin is Defender(Leader), and Warlock is Striker(Controller) (I've seen more evidence of this perusing the PHB when I had a chance than you see in the pregens. A lot of it comes online at level 3+). Warlord I don't know enough of, and Cleric, Wizard, Rogue, and Ranger I haven't seen a clear secondary role for.
So, for example if you've got a Fighter, a Warlock, a Wizard, and a Cleric then your party might want a second leader or a second defender more than anything else. A paladin might be an ideal fit for that group. Then you've got
Defenders: Fighter and Paladin
Strikers: Warlock and Fighter.
Controllers: Wizard and Warlock.
Leaders: Cleric and Paladin.
So every role is covered (to varying degrees) by two party members.
Let's look at the choices.

An extra striker means taking out single targets faster. This group is lighter on health but faster on taking down the opponents. My guess is that many groups of this type will have abilities that synergy well with each other for the case of going after elite and solo targets.

Minions are more of a problem for this group as Strikers hit hard but usually only on one target at a time. Extra dice of damage mean little when the target has one hit point.

An extra controller means more AoE and more keeping the opponents from swarming the group. One scorching burst is annoying. Multiple scorching bursts cause real problems as they now each cover a 3x3 AoE. It does not take many rounds of this type of firepower to clear all the minions from a fight.

Against a single target, the damage is less than the Striker combo since you do not have the extra bonus damage.

An extra leader means better access to healing surges and the healing surges are more efficiently used. This type of group can wear down big opponents and minions. Many of their abilities enhance other people in the group and the more access to these abilities the more the group is able to function better.

This is not pretty or flashy solution. This is the durable team that does some constant damage but trys to chip away at opponents depending on the two extra healings per encounter to make sure that everyone keeps on their feet.

Damage is higher to the group but the group recovers it better too since it faces more minions and big opponents last longer.

An extra defender is an extra combat meat shield on the main line. The AC is very good and they have plenty of surges if they can get the time to use them after a battle. They also per round have good damage which makes them better then a striker if the striker does not get their bonus damage. They can wade into a fight and be counted to come out the other side.

This is a bit like the striker option in that minions are more of a problem then single opponents. It is less of a problem with minions because the better AC and hit points means that the Defenders can absorb more minions attacks per round then can the strikers. Fighter in KotS also has an at will attack that is good at taking out 2 minions a round.

While not as good at taking down a single big target as the strikers, the duel defenders are still going to hit hard with their abilities. The fighter in KotS has the best raw damage attack in Brute Strike doing 6d6+3+3(for power attack)= average of 27 points of damage. While strikers per round with their bonus damage will do more in the long haul of a combat, the defenders still have more muscle power then controllers or leaders.


Wrap up

First consideration is the type of opponents that you will be facing over most of the campaign.

If your DM hates the minion rules then avoid a second controller. If your DM loves the minion rules then a second controller could be extremely valuable.

If your DM just likes throwing one or two big bad monsters against the group then a second striker is a good idea. That bonus damage will be always good if hunting single high profile opponents.

If your DM likes pushing extra tough encounters on your group that are more then recommended then I would likely suggest the extra leader. The extra leader is not flashy but more bonuses to fight and more health will see you through many a tough battle.

If you are likely up against plenty of tough melee types but in the four to six range of number. Too many for extra strikers to be valuable but not numerous enough for an extra controller to harvest in fields of fire then an extra defender is a good approach. You have a bit more down time then the extra leader group but you have more front line muscle to cut through the opponents.

This all is based on looking at the KotS character abilities (and some preview material) and taking my best guess from them. June 6th might show us things are quite different when characters are all level 20 or higher.
I'd say it depends on the other four builds.

If the group is mostly ranged (warlock or archery ranger, cleric, wizard), an extra defender would be good. A warlord is also a good option.

If the group is mostly geared towards single enemies (defender with high-damage single target powers, no dragonborn, warlord) the best would be to get a second controller or a cleric with AoE stuff (or a dragonborn).

And so on... The "fifth character" should look at what is the weak point in the group formation, and fix that.

Of course, this all falls apart if everyone is making their characters at the same time.
Double up?

You mean you're not playing in a 5 man party composed entirely of Dragonborn Paladins?!?
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For situations where players are making their PCs for a new game, and everyone wants to play, not analyse, whoever's picking the fifth character can follow this rule of thumb. Pick a class from your role of choice that's distinctly different from your role-mate.

Want to play a defender, and someone else has a greataxe-wielding fighter? Play a heavily armored 'tank'.

If you'd like to play a striker, and someone's running a warlock, go for a rogue or two-weapon ranger.
It might depend on what abilities there are which synergize particularly well with the rest of the party.

I am still not entirely convinced that you need to fill in all the 4 roles for a well balanced party (3e broke away from the "a front line melee combat character, a character with trapfinding and sneak attack but less front line capability, a fragile spellcaster with utility and offensive spells, and a more durable spellcaster with healing and support spells" paradigm a long time ago), with esteemed board members like Tempest Stormwind and Radical Taoist turning such conventional wisdom on its head by coming up with parties composed of builds which did not fit into any 1 particular role/character archetype, while remaining fairly effective both individually and as a party.

Likewise, there might be a meshing and blurring of roles. It may not be impossible to create a defender who can also control the battlefield, or a leader who heals decently, therefore doing away for the need to have someone else assume such a role.

For instance, I might want to experiment with combinations like "2 defenders, 3 controllers" or "2 controllers, 3 strikers". This is just a hypothetical scenario, since I don't yet know enough of the game to conclude if such combinations are feasible, but my point is that I plan to fully break away from such arbitrary party limitations such as "must have all 4 roles covered to be effective".

I'd like to expand on Runestar's point. I don't think you need (or even want) every tactical role in a party. In particular I regard the controller and to a lesser extent leader roles to be particularly weak. What is a "controller" in 4e? Near as I can tell, it's just a character that specializes in area of effect attacks (i.e. attacking more than one target at once at range). You can easily mimic that either by playing a Dragonborn character (that can be a controller as a racial ability) or simply doing a feat splash and picking up one or at most two Wizard powers. With a large party, it should be possible to do that with multiple characters without significantly affecting the strength of each particular character. In short, I see the "controller" as perhaps the most useless "tactical role" in the game because it's so easily duplicated with so little cost. Bye-bye wizards.

Likewise, (albeit to a lesser extent), I don't really see the need for a dedicated leader, especially since most of those powers are Cha based which means they syngerize well with a warlock (who will want to stay at range anyway).

It seems to me that the far most important (and most difficult to duplicate) tactical roles in a party are defender (because you need good hits and armor to be a decent defender as well as your powers) and striker (because you need mobility and the ability to escape trouble as well as your powers).

To answer the original question, I'd double up on Defenders because the Fighter-Paladin combos can get sick quickly (and Paladins do get some leader-like abilities). Going further, I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to replace the controller (wizard) with a striker (probably a warlock to keep someone with explicit rituals) and splash some wizard AoE powers in that build (suggestion: be human, half-elf).

Just my two coppers.

A controller doesn't just seem to about AoE damage but also about affecting battlefield conditions on a large scale, so they're more useful than just for minion-clearing.

As for a second role? Keep on the Shadowfell doubled up the defender role, and that's probably a fairly good choice. They're solid and reliable on both offense and defense, and two defenders plus a striker probably provides a great deal of opportunity for synergy between the three, more so than if two strikers are in orbit around one defender. This is probably particularly true if you're dealing with newer players who may have more trouble keeping multiple delicate members (two controllers especially) out of harm's way.
A controller doesn't just seem to about AoE damage but also about affecting battlefield conditions on a large scale, so they're more useful than just for minion-clearing.

I know that's the theory, but the big emphasis I've seen on controllers is their ability to do AoE damage. Everything else seems very subdued and secondary. Even if I accept this, my basic point stands: You can mimic the AoE attacks just be being dragonborn (only need one in the party to do this) and/or simply have a couple of character splash and take one (or at most two) wizard powers via feats. This would work particularly well with a tactical warlord (for example).

As for a second role? Keep on the Shadowfell doubled up the defender role, and that's probably a fairly good choice. They're solid and reliable on both offense and defense, and two defenders plus a striker probably provides a great deal of opportunity for synergy between the three, more so than if two strikers are in orbit around one defender. This is probably particularly true if you're dealing with newer players who may have more trouble keeping multiple delicate members (two controllers especially) out of harm's way.

Ageed. The second defender is the choice that seems both the easiest (and least prone to error) and the most potent (most synergy) especially if you chose different defender classes (i.e. Fighter+Paladin)

My gut instinct says two defenders. To determine *optimal* party performance, though, we'd need to have a better look at the classes and their powers.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
My gut instinct says two defenders. To determine *optimal* party performance, though, we'd need to have a better look at the classes and their powers.

Agreed. I am basing what I said on what we now know. That may change depending on what's actually in the books.

I think leader is the last role to double up on.

Why? Leaders seem to focus on getting their other party members additional attacks and bonuses to attacks. This role is optimized by granting those bonuses to the apporpriate party members based on the monster(s) you're fighting.

If the party is fighting a lot of minions, granting the bonuses or additional attacks to the controller or the defender (cleave) will be most optimal. If you're fighting a tough solo, the striker (or lockdown defender) is the best choice to give your bonuses to.

If you have 2 leaders in a party of 5, and one of your party members drops, that is 2 less targets (to buff) for the leaders to do what what they are good at.

I think doubling up on defender may be the best option.

Defenders are good against solos and hordes. But they keep the monsters from getting to the more fragile members of the party, and allow their party members to do what they do.

Of course that is based on the info currently available (dnd4.com).
I agree with most on here... go with two defenders. Front line troops that keep everyone else free to do their more specialist jobs.

Put it this way.. best to have have more grunts(defenders) so your artillary(controllers) is safe, and you free up your support (leaders) and commandos(strikers) to be effective at their specialities.
My limited understanding of 4e suggests that the wizard is perhaps closest to the 3e warmage mechanics-wise, and many of its controller abilities were split between the fighter and the rogue. The rogue has the ability to shift foes and switch their positions with his attacks, while the fighter can make trip attacks, mark foes and the like.

This is why I am still not particularly convinced that there is a need for the controller and defender roles to be so distinct, because I tend to see them as subsets of a larger, singular role. A tank not only needs good AC and high to weather hits, but he will also want a means of enticing foes to attack him over anyone else (which is where battlefield control comes in).

That said, 2 defenders definitely sounds very appealing.
I think people are seeing controllers as AoE machines largely because most of what we've seen from them is just AoE attacks. While this is true, there is a reason for it:

At will attacks: For the controllers, this is the equivalent to the Wizard's crossbow. It isn't supposed to do all that much. Almost all at-will attacks in the entire game will be damage dealers.

Encounter attacks: We might start to see some Controller style effects here that aren't damaging, but they still probably won't be too powerful. I think this will prove to be the slot where the most classic AoE spells are found.

Daily attacks: This is the real location of the Controller style effects that many associate as the hallmark of the Wizard. Changes to the battlefield, Slow spells and the like are all likely to be found right here. We've seen hardly any of the options that a Wizard gets for these in the low levels, and many of the options for the Wizard daily spells in the high levels look very Controller-ish in a non AoE sense.

The two pregen Wizards we've seen both had Sleep and Acid Arrow I think. That's somewhat unfortunate in my opinion, since we've been told that Wizards will have a greater portion of their power invested into Daily spells than most other classes. Until we see more of the Daily powers that Wizards can pick up, I think it is premature to peg them as being low in utility. I think we'll find out as we go that Sleep is only the tip of the iceberg.


As far as the rest of the thread goes, I'd pick two Defenders or two Leaders (Warlord + Cleric) until we're more familiar with the system.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
It really depends on your specific power selections. If you have a Warlord with a host of those "do this and allies get a free basic attack" then obviously another PC with a good basic attack could be a nice fit.
At will attacks: For the controllers, this is the equivalent to the Wizard's crossbow. It isn't supposed to do all that much. Almost all at-will attacks in the entire game will be damage dealers.

Ha ha ... I'd go so far as to say that ALL at-will ATTACKS will be damage dealers (but there may be at-will powers in the utility category that are not)
My instinct is to double up on strikers as long as they are different classes-like Rogue and Warlock, but this is just a hunch until the PHB comes out.

However, I have not seen very much, can't wait for 6 June, Ian.
I think you will still find the double rogue a threat to be feared.

Two rogues mean that you have each providing the other with flank which means that each gets usage of their sneak attack from combat advantage.

With the Backstabber feat that changes the 2d6 to 2d8 (seen on rogue in KotS). That could be 5d8 by level 21.

How many rounds of having a pair of rogues doing their base damage plus 2d8 a round on a BBEG does it take to rip them to shreds.

Any dragon would be deeply worried if a group of two or more rogues choose to set their blades into its flesh.
I feel like doubling up on strikers will possibly be a really good choice. Playing through a couple playtest adventures, it seems like more than 1 defender wasn't ever needed. Casters aren't paper-thin anymore and it never seemed like "monsters attacking things other than the defender" was a big issue. That being the case, killing monsters faster seems to be preferred. The faster monsters die, the less they are wounding your party. I ran one adventure with Paladin/Fighter/Wizard/Cleric/Ranger and one adventure with Fighter/Cleric/Wizard/Warlock/Ranger and the party with two strikers seemed to have the easiest time.

At this early point, it can be very hard to say. We haven't seen so many powers yet. I'm having a hard time seeing a party without a Wizard. I know some of you think the Wizard could be replaced by Dragonborn, but I have a hunch that the wizard is going to have more utility than simply being Mr. AoE(we have barely seen any of their powers, hard to assume the wizard won't get any of the typical staple battlefield/utility powers). Being able to cut down minions from across the room early on in the fight, seems vital.

I'm also thinking a leader will very much be desired. I feel like a warlord+striker/cleric+striker is going to add a lot more to the battle than a striker+striker. Their healing seems vital and as I think about the encounters we have ran through so far, some of them would have been VERY messy w/out Healing Word.

I'm looking forward to diggin' into the rules, but for now, speculation = fun! :D:D
My guess is it will depend on the other classes and builds in the party.

Take for example the KotS party loose the paladin as he's the 5th character. And replace the cleric who's half ranged with a melee cleric build or a warlord. Now as there are to melees to hold the front line + the rogue darting behind enemy lines, I could see the benefit of adding a ranged striker like the warlock or ranger. Although the paladin or another leader are certainly strong choices too.

anyway it's hard to tell until we have the books
Thinking that having a Dragonborn makes up for a controller is just silly.

Leaders have just too much utility to dismiss them for yet another defender.

But I think this speculation is too premature and we shouldn't make our biased assumptions until after the books are released


I also think we should wait for the books to make decisions... but with the information we have so far, I would definitely say that we should wait for the books.
I'd say it depends on the type of leader that you have. If you have one better at healing (say the cleric) then you probably don't need a second leader. If you have one less as good at healing (say the warlord) then I'd go with a second leader (or paladin defender as they get some healing too.) If you have a cleric, then I'd be included to grab a second striker or fighter.
What if we had 5 dragonborn PCs who open up every fight with a dose of their 5-square cone breath weapons?:P
Dragonborn Wizard. If all other roles are filled a Dragonborn Wizard will always be welcome.
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