10 Rules of Party Optimization

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I'd like to point out that a sololock is really just a different form of High Nova... and ought to be treated the same. Having the ability to make one monster of any type snore off in the corner for forever is effectively identical to killing one monster in a single round, that that's pretty much the definition of high nova.

Using a sololock in a real game requires just as much DM permission as using a Str-primary half-elf avenger.

I disagree on a number of points. First, *delaying* combat is not the same as ending it. A soloLock, using entombment or Sequester, for example, removes the mob from the board for a few turns. The team must still have a way to address/kill the mob. The SoloLock gives you the chance to rest, set up tactically on your plan, and reduce the application of threatening actions to the party at any one time.

The Nova merely blasts through an enemy's hit points. They remove permanently, rather than temporarily.

Secondly - ON SOLOLOCK's, I disagree that Wizards and Order Pally's are the premium or plainest versions of this. The Warlock, especially at paragon and epic, can dominate or banish several enemies over the course of a combat. Wizards and Pally's can *stun* an enemy, but the enemies may be immune to stun, have status removed by an ally, etc... Banishing has none of these issues. And Mindcontrolling/dominating allows you to use the strength of the enemy against them. Overally, there is far more effectiveness and versatility in the Warlock Sololock than the wizard.

Third -
"As for the rogue and warlock... warlocks can act like controllers. Trouble is, they can't act as high-grade strikers. Not that they're useless - they're not - but they aren't at good at controlling as a controller and aren't as good at striking as a striker. ... So while you're adding in some control attributes, it comes at the cost of being less effective as a striker - and they still cannot replicate the wizard with a suite of 4 encounter control powers and several AoE stun dailies. "quote]

Warlocks can act as strikers, but *not* as NOVAs. That's very different than saying they can't be high-grade strikers.
Warlocks are *better* at controlling single targets, and worse at controlling multiple targets. At Paragon and Epic Levels, where a Dragon or Lich can be the end of your party, single target controlling is more important than multi-target controlling.
Warlocks have *more* control dailies and encounters than Wizards, with SEVEN Encounter SoloLock Powers and TEN Daily SoloLocks to choose from.
Wizards own AOE, utility, and Multi-mob control, granted, but Warlocks are, by design, the best of the Single mob Sololocks.

Great guide!
I disagree on a number of points. First, *delaying* combat is not the same as ending it.

Um, correct. But a permamently stun-locked solo (sleep, Legion's Hold, etc) is a dead solo. All that's left is the yelling. At since that's the usual usage of SoloLock (unable to escape a crippling condition, like Stun), that's effectively the same as nuking it with a Nova as far as GM fun is concerned.

And the advice about being careful going to far with Novas is attempting to address DM fun, and how that affects your options in a real game.

Why wizard was the chosen SoloLock

Canonical Wizard SoloLock: -16+ on saves, used a orb power to turn a miss of "sleep" into a hit. Solo is now unconscious until kissed by a prince. See Lordduskblade's Orbizard post for the build details.

"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

RE: NOVAS and SOLO-LOCKS

Some valid points here that I'll mull over. I have some immediate counterthoughts:

As mentioned a few times, some level of nova is built into the game. (Or at least, some level of shrewd planning and gameplay that begins to be a split hair from nova is expected to survive the tougher encounters.) To me, it's obvious that solo-locking is a function that an optimized party is expected to possess. There's too many ways to do it in the Player's Handbook to argue otherwise. Thus, it's low nova in that it fits the game's conception.

I easily can parse Champions of Order from the worst high nova builds, because CoOs give up considerable potential to solo-lock. Versus standard foes or even minions, Pit Fighter looks so much better.

Orb wizards are a special case, as was discussed in my original draft. In my mind, they're the one "preapproved" high nova build. (I suspect they're meant as a nod to 3.5 wizard players jonesing for a save-or-die mechanic.) If you define high nova as elaborate combining of content to create outsized effects, and orb wizards do what they do straight out of the box, where does that leave us? (Wishing that Orbs of Imposition would disappear, yes. But other than that?)
EB, does today's Rule 6 rewrite address your concerns?
EB, does today's Rule 6 rewrite address your concerns?

I think that adequately addresses my concerns.
This needs to undergo another revision in light of a variety of recent material. Let us call the traditional scatter of PCs "light tactics." That is, everyone moves independently, taking advantage of openings and minimizing enemy AoE opportunities, much like skirmishers in real history.

The converse would be "heavy tactics": The PCs maintain a rigid formation. This hasn't been very popular because it maximizes enemy AoEs, minimizes PC positioning opportunity, and frankly can be a little hard to coordinate. It's the equivalent of a real-world shield wall.

It strikes me that a lot of recent material makes heavy tactics worth exploring. My intent is to delete the current Rule 9 (admittedly a placeholder more or less) to make room for a new Rule 5: Light or Heavy Tactics? Characters for one sort of party will look (eg, be designed) much differently than those for the other.

What I would like is any available feedback on heavy tactics in real play.

As an example of an extreme heavy tactics build: Consider a party with a fighter/Moonstalker (shield-and-spear) at the point. Behind him stands a shielding swordmage/Sigil Carver with White Lotus Master Hindrance. Maybe to his right an Eladrin warlord/Battle Captain with great spear and to his left a slidetastic bard. (Warpriests, Dwarven Defenders, etc can claim a place here too.) Controller behind the swordmage so that the party forms a cross shape, with all but the Sigil Carver +2 all defenses and all but the fighter and controller also +1 AC (via Phalanx Warrior).

The party loads up on powers that slide and/or end in prone. The idea is to have the fighter stand 1 square away from the center square of a 3-square section of wall. The party slides/pulls targets in front of him. Either the fighter (Knockdown Assault) or the slider (Polearm Momentum via fighter MC, among other recent techniques) prones the target in the hex, so that multiple enemies can be stacked there, and no one who can't ignore difficult terrain or teleport can get out. Meanwhile, the swordmage spams supercharged (via Pack Tactics) Sword Bursts with Arcane Reach, while nerfing the No 1 threat in the pile, none of whom can reach anyone but the fighter unless they have reach. Anyone who's MCed/PP'ed into a mark also nerfs the more dangerous targets in the pile. Rocks fall on the bad guys.

Basically, you shape the battlefield to match your ideal formation rather than the light tactics approach of shaping your formation to match the battlefield's ideal.

Input?
Knight Commander is probably a key figure in heavy tactics. An untyped +2 bonus to attack is a pretty good incentive for remaining adjacent.
Knight Commander is probably a key figure in heavy tactics. An untyped +2 bonus to attack is a pretty good incentive for remaining adjacent.

Excellent point, and as usual we find ourselves on opposite sides of the Int/Cha warlord divide. Though in this case I think I have to beat a timely retreat because Knight Commander is an absolute beast for a heavy tactics party. Among him and the very nice Moonstalker and Sigil Carver adds, you're spreading +2 attack, +4 to +8 damage, +3 AC, +2 NADs throughout the party. That's a nice tradeoff for catching burst 1s in the teeth.

Anyone actually optimizing these "adjacent ally" bonuses in play? Bueller?
Hope this is an appropriate place to drop this question. I'm about to be DMing a very combat heavy, stealth oriented campaign starting at Paragon where I will totally be rewarding player initiative. I also intend to use encounter groups which are occasionally too large to be manageable unless the party leverages the urban terrain to break them up. Having a face will probably only matter for interrogations. That said, the party consists of 6 members, 5 of which have their builds worked out:

Warforged Fighter/(Kensei?): the tank, sword and board, super sticky, warforged superiority, HBO and push 4 ToI
Half-Orc Barb/Winter's Fury: the chargemonkey, uses frostcheese and headsmans chop to play leapfrog with the fighter
Tiefling or Half-elf Hellock|Paladin/?: Can't say I totally know what's going on here, but I guess off-tanking, some face stuff, and some shooting. The player really likes gishes.
Tiefling Psion(Telepath)/Dreamwalker: The controller. Intending to pop minions and hurt enemy's brains. Psychic lock to cover the above 3 and let them do their jobs
Human Rogue/Darkstrider: the scout sniper. Sup. Xbow, always hidden, perception, stealth, athletics, thievery, intimidate (for dis. strike) and acro all ready to let him ghost around and give support and leading fire. They may even use him to pull once or twice.

The last guy is a shaman, but he doesn't know which. And there's the question: which shaman build would go best with these guys based on your parameters?

Thanks,
-Drillboss
I have a similar handbook I started a couple of weeks ago in my signature.  This one is fairly dead.

I would recommend either a panther or bear shaman for your group, and would lean toward the bear shaman.  You are not lacking anything too much and will likely need the extra healing and temp hitpoints from a bear shaman more than the extra damage output from the panther build.  The eagle shaman would be an ok choice since your rogue at least will have a decent ranged basic attack.  You have control pretty well covered with a warlock and a psion so a worldspeaker would probably add the least.
Woops... didn't see how old it was. Nonetheless, thanks for the quick reply, and I'll check out your handbook as well.

-Drillboss
I agree that a bear shaman would be best. If the campaign will be combat heavy then you need the leader to be particularly optimized for healing. This may be the only healer in the group, too.  A high constitution will help to improve the healing.

A world speaker shaman also uses a high constitution but the emphasis for that build is more on tactical control than healer.   Still workable however.

For paragon, I recommend Scarred Healer as the best for healing . Again constitution should be high to get the most benefit.

The optimal race for this build would be drawf or wilden. Both have stat boosts to wisdom and constitution. The wilden also has skill bonuses to nature and stealth, so may have a slight advantage.

cheers
They did what to Dual Strike?!? Maybe I should get around to revising this white elephant.

Oh look, I did. Must have taken my laptop with me to the opium den last night.
I like the update; it seems simpler to read, yet still says everything it needs to.

As a point of note, my alpha-strike team (in Langeweille's guide, probably never to be truly completed) actually meets almost all of your standards.  The things that team misses:

Rule 1 is completely ignored.
Rule 4 is completely ignored (but see A2 from rule 10 below).
Rule 6 assumes zero is high enough.
Rule 8 is partially ignored.
Rule 10:
Tier A:
#2 is ignored; but since you put an inverse value on 1 and 2, and #1 is so high, technically that means I don't need #2.
Tier B:
#3 is ignored (but I think this one is the one that should be inversed to A1; controlling enemies means very little when they are all dead)
#6 needs item optimization to really meet the desired levels.
#9 is missing.
Tier C:
#1 is missing (but see A2)
#2 is missing.
#5 is not optimized.
#9 is ignored.

Of all of these, I would say that C9 is probably the easiest biggest flaw; diseases could potentially cripple my group without the DM having to modify things too much.  The second biggest flaw is Rule 1.  Obviously the DM can always find some way to overcome the alpha-strike, even if this party is capable of alpha-striking vastly higher level encounters (with the extreme coming from the level 24 version of the party that kills Tiamat and her 5 Elite bodyguards before they act).  However, my party has lots of backup plans (note that for the parties entire designed existence, level 11-24 (25+ is silly), less than 1/3 of the parties encounter powers are used by the alpha-strike, and the at-will DPR is nothing to scoff at, even if it isn't DPR king range.)


Something I do notice in your guide is a lack of mentioning healing surges; for instance, with my alpha-strike party, the biggest problem for the party is not a lack of healing - they have lots and lots of it.  The biggest lack is that if they are required to use a large amount of healing for more than say 2 or 3 encounters, the entire party will probably run out of healing surges.  I'm not entirely sure how to fit that into your guide, but I guess some kind of Tier B capability to endure your DM's playstyle for an entire day.  The closest you come to mentioning it is when you mention Artificers in Rule 5.

Tier A:
#2 is ignored; but since you put an inverse value on 1 and 2, and #1 is so high, technically that means I don't need #2.
Tier B:
#3 is ignored (but I think this one is the one that should be inversed to A1; controlling enemies means very little when they are all dead)

Well, yea, at the bleeding edge of optimization all other in-combat values approach zero.

I do think some form of debuff is always a good idea, even if nothing more than as part of that "backup plan" for when things go south. Terrain-making is a little more complicated than that, though I suspect that you're interpreting it purely as a form of debuff. A hazardous zone is both an area denial and a source of massive DPR for forced movement--heavy parties. So it really has to be treated as a different topic, though admittedly I do a very cursory job of it here.

The second biggest flaw is Rule 1.  Obviously the DM can always find some way to overcome the alpha-strike, even if this party is capable of alpha-striking vastly higher level encounters

Most certainly he can. He can quit. 

Something I do notice in your guide is a lack of mentioning healing surges; for instance, with my alpha-strike party, the biggest problem for the party is not a lack of healing - they have lots and lots of it.  The biggest lack is that if they are required to use a large amount of healing for more than say 2 or 3 encounters, the entire party will probably run out of healing surges.  I'm not entirely sure how to fit that into your guide, but I guess some kind of Tier B capability to endure your DM's playstyle for an entire day.  The closest you come to mentioning it is when you mention Artificers in Rule 5.

That's an excellent point, and I've actually been thinking a lot on the topic of a party's durability being something like an algebraic equation. It's actually easier to think about in terms of the party than the individual PC because leader heals and most of the Second Wind tricks are communal assets. Front-loading durability with multiple leaders is offset by having a shorter "tail" of untappable surges starting the day and all that, yea. 

I just haven't finished my thoughts. I'll squeeze it in when I do. 

I'm glad you liked the update.

I'm late coming to this thread, so excuse me if this has already been brought up, but I have to take small exception to the recommendation on adding a 2nd Leader to be the first priority. I say this for a very important consideration, which is time. While I won't argue against a second leader adding to the party's effectiveness, a second Leader in my experience slows the game down and adds to grind. The pace of the game and how long it takes to resolve encounters is as important to the total game experience as how well the party performs, and I find adding another damage dealer, which doesn't exactly have to be a 2nd Striker, is the best addition to both make the party work better and keep the game moving at a good pace.
...whatever
I'm late coming to this thread, so excuse me if this has already been brought up, but I have to take small exception to the recommendation on adding a 2nd Leader to be the first priority. I say this for a very important consideration, which is time. [...]

Hm, well, the idea here is that both leaders invest in buffing the striker, which should increase party damage-dealing and shorten the encounter.

Now, a Warpriest, yea, he's going to draaaaaaw things out. A Cleric too, for that matter, so I certainly can see your point.

Cool cool - many threads I linked seem to bump up recently.
Good thing, because some of the really good stuff - like this - tends to be forgotten sometimes.

I really like your workover. Nice going through, and I do also like that you kept your old 3x10 as #10, because even if a bit aged, they still have plenty merit.

Two things that would improve the guide:
-- A slightly longer introduction. Considerations you / we as community made, how much "general truth" and how much "you can also try something different, IF" lies in the rules, etc
-- For each rule, pick a few keywords and bold them. Makes the text much easier to read, remember and reference.

Role discussion will follow in your other thread... after my dinner. ;)

Good job, keep it up !

PS: Just listened to Carmina...
I'm late coming to this thread, so excuse me if this has already been brought up, but I have to take small exception to the recommendation on adding a 2nd Leader to be the first priority. I say this for a very important consideration, which is time. [...]

Hm, well, the idea here is that both leaders invest in buffing the striker, which should increase party damage-dealing and shorten the encounter.

Now, a Warpriest, yea, he's going to draaaaaaw things out. A Cleric too, for that matter, so I certainly can see your point.




What you describe requires a firm commitment to optimization across the entire party. Play more casually and two Leaders is grindy. I play a lot of pickup games in RPGA, and nothing makes me wince like seeing two or more Leaders at the table.
...whatever
What you describe requires a firm commitment to optimization across the entire party. Play more casually and two Leaders is grindy. I play a lot of pickup games in RPGA, and nothing makes me wince like seeing two or more Leaders at the table.

Oh, heck yea. There's no sense in even approaching the topic of party optimization with your typical RPGA situation. It only makes sense in a private campaign with dedicated players, of whom all but one need to be open-minded enough to play what's in the best overall interest.

Is that like a 1-in-1000 scenario? Very well could be. ;) I suspect it would be more common for someone who thinks in terms of party optimization to be the "veteran" player steering a bunch of new players into builds that follow these principles.

If I bring a leader to RPGA it's a TacLord and I ain't even bringing dice. ;)
What I'm trying to say is that there are levels of optimization. There is full on, go for broke optimization. There is a more casual style of optimization, where you build strong characters but without trying to squeeze every drop out of them. There is casual play with minimal concern for optimization, but with some effort to make characters and parties at least work on a basic level. Then there is the complete randomization of a bunch of strangers and noobs playing RPGA.

In my opinion, two leaders only works well at the very top of that scale. To anyone who plays more casually than going for complete optimization, adding a second leader is bad advice. Adding a second damage dealer, either a 2nd Striker, Blaster, high-impact Defender, or opportunistic Controller/Striker combo is a much safer bet, and will work much better in a more casually optimized party.
...whatever
What I'm trying to say is that there are levels of optimization. There is full on, go for broke optimization. [...] In my opinion, two leaders only works well at the very top of that scale.

Well, I'm going to be upfront and say what I'm thinking, which is that you need to hang out with better players. ;)

Playing a leader who shortens combat rather than lengthens it is pretty simple. They just need to take the "I hit and my ally hits too" encounter powers. Various Warlords and the Panther Shaman have nearly full slates of them.

Logically, if ally X does the most damage, then adding the leader's damage to ally X's damage in the same turn should always be better than the alternative of adding alternate build Y's damage to the mix, instead. (Assuming that alternate build Y isn't hugely more optimized than ally X. And if that's the case, the real problem is that ally X's player needs to be playing alternate build Y.) 

When the leader runs out of encounter powers, he just spams Commander's Strike or the shaman equivalent. His DPR actually exceeds the DPR of the most strikery PC in the party. It's pretty simple, really. Given the monstrous MBA striker builds out there, it's almost mathematically impossible for a second striker to kill things faster than a simple-to-run leader backing up the first striker. (With the usual notable exception of a nova from a melee Ranger, which remains easier for the DM to jack with than is usually conceeded around here.)

Certain leaders --- hello, radiant Warpriest! --- are guaranteed to turn any fight into a grind, this is true. But optimal leader builds are surrogate strikers who also bring a boatload of alternate utility to the table.
I really like your workover. Nice going through, and I do also like that you kept your old 3x10 as #10, because even if a bit aged, they still have plenty merit.

[...]

PS: Just listened to Carmina...

Thanks for this. I'll wait for your extended comments before replying in depth.

And yea, the Excalibur song. Never gets old. Except when it does. ;)

What I'm trying to say is that there are levels of optimization. There is full on, go for broke optimization. [...] In my opinion, two leaders only works well at the very top of that scale.

Well, I'm going to be upfront and say what I'm thinking, which is that you need to hang out with better players. ;)

Playing a leader who shortens combat rather than lengthens it is pretty simple. They just need to take the "I hit and my ally hits too" encounter powers. Various Warlords and the Panther Shaman have nearly full slates of them.

Logically, if ally X does the most damage, then adding the leader's damage to ally X's damage in the same turn should always be better than the alternative of adding alternate build Y's damage to the mix, instead. (Assuming that alternate build Y isn't hugely more optimized than ally X. And if that's the case, the real problem is that ally X's player needs to be playing alternate build Y.) 

When the leader runs out of encounter powers, he just spams Commander's Strike or the shaman equivalent. His DPR actually exceeds the DPR of the most strikery PC in the party. It's pretty simple, really. Given the monstrous MBA striker builds out there, it's almost mathematically impossible for a second striker to kill things faster than a simple-to-run leader backing up the first striker. (With the usual notable exception of a nova from a melee Ranger, which remains easier for the DM to jack with than is usually conceeded around here.)

Certain leaders --- hello, radiant Warpriest! --- are guaranteed to turn any fight into a grind, this is true. But optimal leader builds are surrogate strikers who also bring a boatload of alternate utility to the table.



That's kind of a narrow way to think about it. Excessively narrow in my opinion, bordering on the sort of thing that gives optimization a bad name.
...whatever
That's kind of a narrow way to think about it. Excessively narrow in my opinion.

It was mostly meant as a joke.

I respect that your point is that most players aren't going to be expert enough to design a leader who fits this bill. I'm just trying to make the point that it's not that hard to properly play a leader, and maybe just a little education or dropping a few hints would do the trick?

Now, if you're playing with someone who just lurves their Pacifist Cleric, I got nothing but sympathy for you ...


Now, if you're playing with someone who just lurves their Pacifist Cleric, I got nothing but sympathy for you ...





I am playing with this player, to be honest. Its not quite so bad as it sounds, since we treated the character as a Controller who healed while constructing the party, and she's a Paragon Tier Half-Elf with Direct the Strike as her Versatile Master Dilettante At-Will.
...whatever
Bumped for fixed s-blocks and modest update.
[pours out the top of his 40 for the Wizard/Cleric/Divine Oracle].
Hi Rancid_Rogue -
I read through your guidelines and I pretty much agree with all of it. There's on thing I slightly disagree about though so I figure I'd bring it up. You say that only one striker is necessary and I understand what you're getting at under normal circumstance, but I wonder how Essentials impacts that statement.

Personally, the new standard for striker damage in my book is a thief charger. I'm not saying go all out with the KAM or dire boar stuff, but just a basic thief with surprisingly charge, a few nice items and an ally to dance around does a ton of damage (specifically at heroic levels which I'm most familiar with).

Anyway, my point is that a lot of charger builds don't benefit from having a multiple leaders and bonus attacks because they bulk of they damage isn't coming from just a basic attack with no bonuses. It might be better to just have two crazy charger strikers and one leader than vice-versa.

Any opinion on the matter? 
Any opinion on the matter? 

That's a good point. When I first wrote the guide, charging was nice. At the time of the current revision, it was starting to give off a faint whiff of cheddar. Now, with Thief/KAMs and Aspect of the Ram Scouts leaving Team Monster splayed across the dungeon tiles? Charging may just be a little overripe.

Still, a second charge may add what to the MBA behind it? +2 to hit and +1d8+1d6 damage? That's not completely overpowering Commander's Strike and a second helping of Sneak Attack or Painful Oath+radiant vulnerability. Adding the encounter level bumps (another Power Strike vs a Warlord attack amounting to a mediocre striker MBA), the leader probably edges ahead a bit. And of course the leader has dailies to open many of the fights.

I think multiple charging strikers would compare well with multiple leaders backing a single striker. They'd be vulnerable to tight quarters or sticky monsters, but the leader model is vulnerable to the striker somehow going down despite having two healers backing him. If the chargers are KAM builds, yea, they probably pull substantially ahead.

I'll have to add some comments on charging, thank you, but I'll probably wait until after the next errata. It may be a real game-changer.       


Any non-mounted charger with Surpringly Charge will be doing 2W+1d8+1d6+statics basic damage assuming CA. The Thief just so happens to make it more potent because a) it can pretty much guarentee CA at all times and b) it will likely be doing 2W+3d8+2d6+statics at level 2 with a +18 to hit (this is using the Backstab power so once an enc, otherwise 2W+3d8+1d6+statics and +15 to hit).  1/enc DPR is low 40s and regular DPR would be mid 30s depending on specific magic items and feats.

At least at heroic level, I can't think of an combination of extra leader that can get more damage out of a round than then a charger Thief. Anyway, I wrote this not because it seemed like you were disagreeing with me, but but I felt for a CharOp post I should give numbers to back up my statement

 





Any non-mounted charger with Surpringly Charge will be doing 2W+1d8+1d6+statics basic damage assuming CA. The Thief just so happens to make it more potent because a) it can pretty much guarentee CA at all times and b) it will likely be doing 2W+3d8+2d6+statics at level 2 with a +18 to hit (this is using the Backstab power so once an enc, otherwise 2W+3d8+1d6+statics and +15 to hit).  1/enc DPR is low 40s and regular DPR would be mid 30s depending on specific magic items and feats.

At least at heroic level, I can't think of an combination of extra leader that can get more damage out of a round than then a charger Thief. Anyway, I wrote this not because it seemed like you were disagreeing with me, but but I felt for a CharOp post I should give numbers to back up my statement

I did forget Surprising Charge. So let's say our second charging Thief does 5d8+1d6+8 in early heroic, or an average 34 damage assuming a hit. On subsequent turns where he can't charge but still obtains CA, it's 3d8+8 or 22 hits. Meanwhile, in our alternate party, the second leader is wielding the Thief for the same non-charge damage +4 for 26 hits. To hit should be a slight advantage to the leader party, because Nimble Blade may be purchased earlier.

So, if the second charging Thief can get off a charge one-third of the time or more, he out-damages the extra leader model, by as much as ~30% (~7 DPR) assuming every turn is a charge. We should not ignore the second leader's dailies, however. Those are real hard to quantify, but being as this is all real back of the envelope anyway let's just wave our hands and say the two strikers need to get off charges close to half of the time to break even, and probably can outpace the two leaders by as much as 5 DPR in early heroic, assuming a lot of help from their allies moving the targets so that they can charge nearly every turn.

Against that, you have one leader supporting two strikers, rather than two leaders supporting one striker, when Team Monster manages to live long enough to get in some licks. 

It's certainly a viable alternate approach to party optimization, but I'd be inclined to still lean toward an extra leader over an extra striker.         


        

Depending on the Warlord build, you can have encounter powers that are "you and the thief both attack".  You can have interrupts that are "the thief attacks" or "you and the thief both attack".  The extra damage that you do should compare well to the difference between a thief who can charge and one who can't.

"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

in addition when said thief makes an attack on the warlords turn he'll be able to stack sneak attack on a second time as it's a new "turn"
 
R_R, I really enjoyed your treatise on party optimization. I don't know how long ago your fifth revision came out but it seems pretty spot-on to me and helped me know where to fit in with my party, especially as I tend to prefer to build a character to fill the gaps. One thing I didn't see were some hypothetical example-type parties for either 4- or 5-character campaigns. I think that would be a welcome addition, especially for those learning about this so they have a model of how roles and skill gaps would be filled. Just a thought.

J
R_R, I really enjoyed your treatise on party optimization. I don't know how long ago your fifth revision came out but it seems pretty spot-on to me and helped me know where to fit in with my party, especially as I tend to prefer to build a character to fill the gaps. One thing I didn't see were some hypothetical example-type parties for either 4- or 5-character campaigns. I think that would be a welcome addition, especially for those learning about this so they have a model of how roles and skill gaps would be filled. Just a thought.

I'm quite pleased that you found the guide useful.

As for your request for example parties, I've thought about a guide of that sort, but you wouldn't get any two regulars here to agree on the proper contents. Just the nature of the beast. LDB can (or perhaps, sadly acknowledging his absence of late, could) do the math to support the claim that Time Bomb should take feat X rather than feat Y or Z. Once you add in defenses, special abilities, utilities, and roleplaying concerns, there's no hope of standardizing a metric by which to compare two builds, much less the 10 builds and (quite crucially) their interplay that would be components of comparing two 5-PC parties. 

Then again, I could offer up some very general party builds, ideally general enough to avoid most of the quibbling. Maybe something like:

RADIANT MAFIA

Wis-Cha Githzerai Paladin/Monk/Morninglord
Skills: Athletics (via MC), Diplomacy, Endurance, Intimidate, Religion
Key Feats: Githzerai Blade Master, Power of the Sun (to level 16 then Agile Opportunist), Headsman's Chop, Zuoken's Centering, Githzerai Healer

Int-Wis Githzerai Invoker/Monk/Flame of Hope 
Skills: Athletics (via MC), Arcana, Heal (via background), History, Religion
Key Feats: Power of the Sun, Zuoken's Centering, Githzerai Healer

Str-Wis Longtooth Shifter Cleric|Ranger/Avenger/Moonstalker
Skills: Athletics, Nature, Insight, Perception, Religion
Key Feats: Headsman's Chop, Pervasive Light 

Dex-Wis Wood Elf Executioner/Avenger/Guild Executioner    
Skills: Acrobatics, Dungeoneering, Perception, Religion, Stealth, Thievery
Key Feats: Headsman's Chop, Agile Opportunist, Pervasive Light
Use Nimble Shoes to map Athletics to Acrobatics.

Con-Cha Tiefling Bard/Avenger/War Chanter
Skills: Arcana, Athletics, Bluff, Perception, Religion, Streetwise
Key Feats: Stirring Song of Baator, Secrets of Belial (Rune of the Astral Winds), Pervasive Light
Needs a Flaming Weapon that ignores that one odd writeup, failing that a second MC and flame ki focus.

Tactics:
Paladin hits focus-fire target to make it radiant vulnerable, obviously. Prior to level 16, this requires using Virtous Strike but ideally off-turn MBAs will do the job every so often leaving Paladin free to use encounters and dailies on his own turn and APs. After level 16, whatever.

Invoker backstops Paladin with his radiant-tagging RBA vs flying targets, etc. Grants extra attack to Paladin or Executioner via Covenant of Preservation.

Bard grants extra attack to Paladin or Executioner with move via Runepriest utility, then perhaps two more basic attacks per encounter via Blunder and his L13 encounter.

Executioner delays until just after focus-fire target acts, then Quick Lunges to prone him for everyone else's turn.    

Ranger pours on the radiant-vulnerable and prone damage stacking. If he can squeeze in Permafrost as well, this gets surreal ugly.

---

Anyway, would something like that be useful?
I was under the impression that it was best to have 2 strikers, 1 defender, 1 leader, and 1 leader or controller in a 5-man party.

There's some debate on that ideal composition. That's part of the point of this exercise. There are those of us who believe extra healing is really the most important fifth member function.



Yep. I'm a firm believer in starting with the Leader, add the Defender, add the Controller or Striker, then add the other, then fill out from there. The fifth party member can be whatever the party needs and even a Hybrid.
It was helpful R_R, thanks! Here's an example of something I'm considering. I'm about to join a group that is level 9 but they're so close to 10 that I'll be starting at level 10. Their party consists of:

Dwarven Warpriest (don't know which variation)
Dragonborn Fighter
some kind of Wizard, can't recall race

Clearly the party needs a striker. I was thinking about a archer-style Ranger...actually it's the Sharpshooter Beastmaster build from LDB: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

I tweaked his skills to make him a good scout also because I really doubt this party has a decent scout at all.

I have several choices of builds that I've been consiering, such as a Barbarian or a Rogue, but neither is your ideal of Dex & Wis builds.  Suggestions as to what striker would best synergize with the above party?
May I suggest some form of Elven Thief? I tend to like Wis over Cha for thieves usually as an off stat.

Regarding the 2 leader or 2 striker party my preference is for 2 strikers if you cannot field Leaders who wield the striker as a weapon (Encounters for example) but if you have warlord/panther shaman/mba granting bard, then the 2 leaders make more sense.
I actually went with a Bugbear Slayer wielding a gouge, lol. My DM allowed it and I convinced him he would be fun to play. The Beastmaster build or a Rogue prob would've been a smarter choice for party synergy, but it turns out the Dragonborn wasn't a fighter, she was a Cavalier who didn't even have a mount! So a little defender flavor in my striker was prob a good idea.  So we still don't have a scout, but it was fun to charge in and lay down the smack!

J
After studying Rancid_Rogue's instructions and mellored's Phalanx Tactics and Builds, and working for long periods on party compositions, I am proud to post "The Burden of Command," in which damage buffs for the party are prioritized by each member of the party.

It features multiple strikers, one of which is melee only, one which is primarily ranged, and one which can do both.

Key to formatting:


Role:
Class Race Theme Paragon Path
  Feats of Note; Miscellany

± indicates a flexible value
 
Defender:
Knight Shifter Were(Bear|Rat|Wolf) Moonstalker
  Headman's Chop, Skill Power: Kord's Force
  Claw Gloves with the WereX themes currently provide +1d10 to melee attacks when in Hybrid shape

Striker 1:
Thief Pixie Stormraider Guildmaster Thief
  Teeny Target

Primary Leader:
Bard Half-Elf Sidhe Lord War Chanter
  Adept Dilettante, Versatile Master, Harlequin Style, Headman's Chop; Dilettante power: Brash Strike or Brash Assault
  Brash Strike only gains the Bard's constitution modifier to damage when wielding an axe, hammer, or mace, and Headman's Chop grants its effect only when using a heavy blade or an axe. A ki-focused Gouge that can be used as a guitar - along with powers like Staggering Note - would be thematically preferable to wielding a weapon that looks like a misshapen shovel. Brash Assault is not particular when it comes to weapons, so sword and light shield will work just fine, so long as enemies take the opportunity to attack when Brash Assault offers it. Otherwise, it's not as good as it's cousin with the damage and to-hit built in.

Striker 2:
±Ranger ±Elf ±Fey Beast Tamer Battlefield Archer
  Grounding Shot; Fey Beast Companion: Panther

Striker 3:
Sorcerer (Elementalist) Half-Elf ±Knight Hospitaler Battle Engineer
  Adept Dilettante, Versatile Master, ±White Lotus feats; Dilettante Power: Magic Weapon
  High Constitution and Charisma, probably 16 in each pre-racial bonus.
  Battle Engineer's Encounter, Utility, and Daily are based on Intelligence, but the Encounter and Daily each have an "Effect" which may make the powers worth keeping, though the Encounter could be traded for Flame Spiral, if Flame Spiral is interpreted as dealing its damage as frequently as it seems.
  Note the War Chanter's level 20 daily power, which could be used with Battle Engineer's Encounter 11.

The Battle Engineer gains the Elementalist's class damage bonus to Magic Weapon, as it is an arcane power.

The Stormraider level 10 feature allows easy flanking, to work with the Guildmaster Thief's "Thick as Thieves" Level 16 path feature.

This party has wonderful action point economy, with:


  • The Warchanter's level 11 Paragon Path feature, and the Sidhe Lord's "Sidhe Bargain" Utility 2

  • The Guildmaster Thief's allowing the Warchanter to use the Guildmaster Thief's Action Points

  • The Battlefield Archer gaining an Action Point per encounter, which can be used by the archer, the GM Thief or the 'chanter.


The Knight Hospitaler Theme not only contributes to party healing, but it also grants the Sorcerer a power bonus when attacking an ally healed by the Knight Hospitaler's reaction power. The others receive extra to-hit from the Sorcerer's Dilettante power, which can be made with a staff or with a bow (Moonbow Dedicate would make this regularly useful, but the Guildmaster Thief's charisma bonus to damage applies only to melee).

Note that the War Chanter has some flexibility in terms of weapons, but should solve its weapon | implement problem by multiclassing into a ki-focus using class, or by using a weapon which doubles as an implement.

The War Chanter can also take the Foamgather Heritage and Foamgather Warrior feats, though it is looking a bit feat starved, for proficiency and a bonus to attacks with a net, which slides on a melee hit and therefore knocks an enemy prone, if there is room for Flail Expertise. But honestly, this is a trick that might work better with other options.

Absorbing Shields for those that can use them.





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