Controlling 101

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The idea for this thread was inspired by mkill's guide, The Art of Defending (http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1171270).

The Basics



So you've decided to become the bane of your DM. You've chosen the right role. Nothing is more frustrating to a DM than to have their monsters not be able to do what they're supposed to do. Most monsters can take a few hits from the Striker, and in doing so they won't lose effectiveness (until they cross that 0 HP threshold). You can debilitate them before they've lost HP. And ultimately this is what battlefield control is all about: muck up your enemy's plans to the advantage of your allies.

Controllers are often regarded as the most "expendable" role. Don't let this dishearten you; no role is necessary to have an effective party, but your tactics will change depending on which roles are present or absent. I suspect that the underestimation of controllers stems from the fact that they're the most novel role in DnD 4E. This is because in previous editions, combat was not as tactically oriented as it is in 4E. Controllers were not needed as much (though there were certainly plenty of spells that threw status effects around). Movement and positioning were not nearly as critical. Well, they are now, and that's why your role exists. Think about the stereotypical adventuring party from previous editions (and keep in mind that this is very generalized): the fighter was the "tank" (defender), the cleric was the "healer" (leader), the wizard was the "damage dealer" (striker, although wizards were pretty much the "I can do anything" class), and the rogue was the skill-monkey/trap finder/party face/all manner of out of combat usefulness. Now all roles are designed to be effective in combat (so the Rogue graduates to Striker), but combat is no longer a matter of walking up to your enemies and beating them to a bloody pulp until they fall.

With that in mind, I'd like to emphasize that a controller is generally not concerned with damage. Damage shouldn't be ignored because damage from all party members (not just the strikers) contributes to killing enemies. Also, if you decide to emphasize crowd control using large bursts and blasts, that damage dealt to multiple enemies will really start to add up! The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you should never focus on damage at the expense of status effects. Status effects are your bread and butter. This is how you anger the DM. This is what your party relies on you to do. You have a job, now concentrate on being good at it.

In case it's not already obvious, playing a controller does require you to think about everything that's going on in a given encounter. Think of it as a big, complicated game of chess where your opponent is the DM. IMO, this is what makes playing a controller so much fun. Just remember to do your homework so that you can do your job (and that's why you're here, right?). If it's not clear what a given monster's role is, ask your DM to describe them a little better. Ask leading questions if you have to ("what kind of armor is it wearing?", "is it using an implement?", etc.). You need to know what you're fighting in order to best neutralize it. Different monster roles have different strong and weak defenses, so make sure that you target the weakest defense whenever you attack a monster. You also need to know your allies! Don't necessarily treat them as weapons or meat shields that are at your disposal (even though they sometimes are), but rather think about how you can help them to do their job even better. Communicating your tactics is critical in making sure that your allies take advantage of the opportunities that you can afford them. Besides, if the only reason the striker was able to take down the BBEG caster was because you stunned his two bodyguards, then he can't gloat about how his DPR saved the day and take all the credit. It was a team effort, and the controller is an integral catalyst in setting the party up for the win.


Controller effectiveness vs. monster roles



There are a lot of different options for how to go about battlefield control, and some are more effective than others when facing a given monster role. I've created a rating system for various effects (which is undoubtedly not an exhaustive list, since I threw it together relatively quickly). Hopefully it will spark discussion. Constructive comments on my ratings will be much appreciated, as well as analyses of controller tactics from different points of view.

Note that controllers are very useful against flying enemies of any role, since they can often cause them to crash by using the right powers. If an enemy doesn't have hover, then immobilizing/restraining them will cause them to crash. Knocking a flyer prone will automatically cause it to crash.


Rating:

1: Nearly Useless
2: Situational
3: Moderately Useful
4: Usually Useful
5: Highly Effective



Artillery

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Blinded
Block Line of Sight
Dazed ( if adjacent to melee ally)
Deafened
Difficult Terrain (if adjacent to melee ally)
Dominated
Immobilized (if adjacent to melee ally)
Prone ( if adjacent to melee ally)
Push
Pull (best if you can pull them into range of a melee ally)
Restrained (if adjacent to melee ally)
Slide
Slowed
Stunned
Weakened



Brute

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Blinded
Block Line of Sight
Dazed ( if unable to charge, or if you need to get past them)
Deafened
Difficult Terrain
Dominated
Immobilized
Prone ( if unable to charge)
Push
Pull
Restrained
Slide
Slowed
Stunned
Weakened



Controller

Show

Blinded
Block Line of Sight
Dazed (if ranged and adj. to melee ally)
Deafened
Difficult Terrain (if ranged and adj. to melee ally)
Dominated
Immobilized (if ranged and adj. to melee ally)
Prone (if ranged and adj. to melee ally)
Push (if it has an aura)
Pull (if you can pull them into range of a melee ally)
Restrained (if ranged and adj. to melee ally)
Slide
Slowed
Stunned
Weakened



Lurker

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Blinded
Block Line of Sight (if ranged)
Dazed
Deafened
Difficult Terrain
Dominated
Immobilized
Prone
Push
Pull
Restrained
Slide
Slowed
Stunned
Weakened



Skirmisher

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Blinded
Block Line of Sight
Dazed (movement often incorporated into powers)
Deafened
Difficult Terrain
Dominated
Immobilized
Prone
Push
Pull
Restrained
Slide
Slowed
Stunned
Weakened



Soldier

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Blinded
Block Line of Sight
Dazed ( if unable to charge, or if you need to get past them)
Deafened
Difficult Terrain
Dominated
Immobilized
Prone ( if unable to charge)
Push
Pull
Restrained
Slide
Slowed
Stunned
Weakened

Controller abilities




Area and Zones: Controllers are all about affecting as much of the battlefield as they can, and a major way that they accomplish this is through Area Effects (bursts and blasts). These are usually not very damaging for each individual enemy hit, but your cumulative damage output can get significant if you catch a lot of enemies in your bursts and blasts (and if you're fighting minions, it doesn't matter that your damage/enemy is low since one hit takes them out). More useful to you is the fact that by attacking more enemies with one standard action, you have more chances to inflict nasty status conditions. Zones are basically upgraded areas in a sense, since you can sustain them and keep the effects going longer. With zones, however, comes a new level of strategy. A lot of them deal automatic damage if an enemy enters or starts their turn there, so it's prudent to keep enemies within them. This can be accomplished with forced movement (pushes and slides), or just moving the zone (if the power allows that). Also note that since zones deal automatic damage, they are an effective way to deal with enemies that have really high defenses.

Blinded: A good debuff against any role, but better against melee types because it prevents flanking. This is particularly good for Skirmishers and Lurkers that have bonus damage when they have combat advantage.

Block Line of Sight: An obvious tactic for foiling any ranged enemies.

Dazed: Its usefulness varies quite a bit. Against ranged enemies, don't bother dazing them unless one of your melee allies (or you) are adjacent to them, ready to slam them with an opportunity attack if they fire. It can be used to deny melee enemies an action, but it takes a lot of strategy. The enemy can use its one action to charge, so you have to make sure that you and your allies are out of range of a charge. One way to do this is to make sure that everyone within reach is exactly one square away from the dazed target (since you have to move at least two squares to charge). Druids excel at this, since wild shaping back to humanoid form grants them a minor action shift. This tactic is useless, however, if the enemy has reach. Another way to make dazing more effective is by combining it with other effects (notably prone). Now the enemy has to burn its one action to stand up from prone if nobody is within reach. Turn wasted.

Where daze really shines is against Solos, because it prevents them from using immediate actions and opportunity actions. Anyone who's been on the receiving end of a Dragon's tail strike will understand this. Because daze denies opportunity actions, it's also very useful for breaking through enemy front lines (the brutes and soldiers) to gain access to the squishies. Just send your striker through and let them go to town.

Deafened: Usually useless. The only benefit is that it grants a -10 to Perception checks, so if you or your allies are invisible the enemy will really hate trying to guess which square you're in (unless they have area attacks, in which case they stand a good chance of hitting you anyways). Could also be situationally useful if the Rogue is trying to sneak up on someone.

Difficult Terrain: If you're trying to keep melee enemies away, difficult terrain is an ok place to start. Combine it with slow, and now you're starting to make a difference. What you really want to use difficult terrain for is to prevent enemies from shifting. This works great against lurkers and skirmishers who like to shift out of harm's way after they've struck. If your party has a lot of elves in it, the difficult terrain won't even prevent them from shifting (and if they're 16+ level Twilight Guardians, it won't affect them at all!). Some zones will also create difficult terrain, which makes it harder for an enemy to escape them (through their slower movement and inability to shift: so tell the defenders to guard the edge of that zone!).

Dominated: You control the enemy's actions. Dominated creatures are automatically dazed, which actually ends up being more of a hassle than a benefit. If you want to use your new minion to attack its friends, they have to either be adjacent already or within range of a charge. Or just dominate a ranged enemy and forget all about it. Dominating enemy controllers sounds like it could be fun, but keep in mind that they usually have high Will (and dominating effects always target Will).

Forced Movement: Can be either push, pull, or slide. Slides are generally superior because they don't have the directional limitations of push and pull. Forced movement can be used both defensively and offensively. On the defensive front, you want to keep your enemies from flanking your allies as much as possible. Offensively, you want to get your allies into flanking positions as often as you can. Flanking is functionally a good debuff, especially against soldiers since they're so hard to hit. Using flanking (or other powers that grant Combat Advantage) in combination with buffs from a leader is a good strategy for dispatching your foes (especially soldiers) quickly. Against Elites, Solos, or Soldiers that are simply a much higher level than you, this may be the only way that you stand a reasonable chance at actually hitting them. Forced movement is also a great way to break through the enemy's front line (for another option, see Dazed) of soldiers and brutes so you can beat up on the squishies. This might be the only way that you can allow your allies to spread out if you start a battle bottlenecked in a hallway. You need a way to break through the “plug” and gain access to the enemy controllers and artillery. Finally, force movement is great for getting more mileage out of your sustainable zones.

Helpless: An excellent debuff, as the target grants CA and can be the subject of a coup de grace. You're usually helpless because you're unconscious, but the 9th level Wizard Daily Face of Death (Arcane Power) is notable in that it imposes the helpless condition (save ends) upon a conscious target after the "immobilized" saving throw fails the first time. By RAW, this creates a unique condition whereby an enemy can pass its immobilized save the second time but fail the helpless save, allowing it to attack and move normally on its next round while still technically being helpless. While certainly strange, this situation still lends itself well to you and your allies mobbing said enemy with coup de graces until it falls.

Immobilized: Useless against ranged opponents unless you have a melee ally next to them. If they attack, they'll be punished for it. This is a great condition to put on melee opponents when you want to waste their turns. As long as you and your allies are not adjacent to them, they can't attack you. Can't charge you, can't chase after you if you decide to attack enemy squishies. Also great for flying enemies that lack "hover."

Prone: Similar to dazed, in that it can lock a melee enemy down if you and your allies are out of charging range. Combining prone with daze, slow, or difficult terrain makes it more effective. Can also knock flyers out of the air.

Restrained: An upgraded immobilized with some debuffs to boot. Forced movement won't budge them, they grant combat advantage, and they take a -2 penalty to attack rolls.

Slowed: Useful against range opponents if you're trying to keep them from running away. Useful against melee opponents if they're far enough away that you can waste their move. The Druid's Grasping Claws is of note in that you can slow with an OA. Combine with difficult terrain for maximum effectiveness. Really screws the more mobile lurkers and skirmishers over.

Stunned: always an excellent option, because it's a guaranteed way to eliminate an enemy's action. There isn't really anything that you need to do to set it up or make it more effective. It's straightforward and brutal.

Unconscious: It's a rare status effect in terms of the number of powers that confer it, but given that Wizards get Sleep at 1st level most Wizard players will get a chance to use it (or at least have it in their spellbook, though in that case I'd advise them to give Flaming Sphere a rest for at least one day and have some fun with Sleep). Renders the opponent's turn wasted just as effectively as Stunned, but with the additional advantage of allowing coup de graces. Also, when they wake up (if they're still alive), they're prone. We may have just found a winner :D

Walls: Specific tactics depend on the wall in question. Generally though, walls prevent movement. Some do this by imposing movement penalties (see Wall of Fire, Wall of Thorns; difficult terrain on steroids!), others just make moving through them an unattractive option because they're damaging. You can completely prevent minions from getting past them since they deal automatic damage (this also makes them very useful against enemies that have high defenses). They're also a good way to block line of sight for ranged opponents, allowing the party to focus on the melee enemies without worrying about getting pelted by controllers and artillery.

Weakened: A decent back up effect, but it's better to prevent an enemy from attacking at all, though a power that weakens (save ends) may be a good choice compared to, say, a daze until the end of your next turn (which may be able to prevent enemy attacks if it's set up right). Weakened is “fire and forget,” and can be useful for those times when it's simply not possible to eliminate an enemy's turn with a daze (better to save that daze for when battlefield positioning is more in your favor!).

Fairly useless against enemy controllers, since their damage usually isn't impressive but their status effects (which are not affected by being weakened) are very dangerous. If you can't eliminate their actions entirely, it's not even worth it.

Tips, Strategies, and Tactics




Aspects of Control (or, what to focus on)



There are many different ways to control the battlefield, and different techniques usually have different goals in mind. Controllers have the potential to use all of these methods, but different classes and builds have their own strengths and weaknesses. Specializing in one method will make you more effective overall (for example, if you take a feat that imposes save penalties or that increases the size of your AoE's, specializing in save ends powers or AoE's will mean that more of your powers benefit from these feats). However, you have to balance the fact that certain types of powers are more or less effective depending on the encounter and what types of foes you're up against. All controllers should therefore make sure that they have a number of tricks up their sleeve so that they can handle whatever comes their way.

Area of Effects



Using bursts and blasts is a way of affecting multiple enemies with a single power. This tactic is very broad, as AoE powers may have very different effects. Some do damage, pure and simple. The more enemies you catch in the blast, the more your damage adds up. The argument is often made that it's best to focus fire on a single enemy since foes do not become less effective as they drop in HP, until they cross that 0 threshold. While this is true to an extent, hitting 3, 4, 5, and upwards enemies with a single power can inflict staggering amounts of damage on the enemy forces as a whole. Besides, the rest of the party can focus-fire on single targets; when they move onto subsequent targets they may already be bloodied. Watch out though, as a lot of AoE's do not discriminate friend from foe. AoE's usually do more than just raw damage, and this is where they become truly useful. Status effects can be used to eliminate an opponent's turn, and if you can engineer the situation so that you scrap the turn of multiple enemies with one power, that's all the better. Obviously AoE powers will have weaker effects than single target powers of equivalent levels, but you can still get creative and make the situation work for you. Slow is usually considered to be one of the weaker status effects, but if you can slow an entire front line of brutes and soldiers while convincing your own allies to keep a respectful distance (that fighter is just itching to charge in there...), you can have a huge impact on the battle. Just convince your melee friends to delay until after the enemy's turns (assuming you went before). The benefits of mass debuffs should be relatively obvious, and imposing forced movement on a clump of enemies is much more beneficial than moving each individually. Wizards in particular have many spells with very large AoE's (and the feat Enlarge Spell can make them even bigger if you're willing to accept a damage penalty).

Single Target Lockdown



A strategy made famous by the Orbizard build. The most powerful status effects are likely to be single target, and if they're save ends then you can dramatically increase their efficacy by seeking out ways to impose save penalties (this is why Orbizards excel at the task). The most dangerous foes (Solos) have save bonuses, so you should consider the pros and cons while choosing targets (a controller with no save penalties is unlikely to keep a Solo busy for very long). Obviously Stun is one of the most powerful effects at locking down any type of foe, but you won't have access to powers that stun for a while. In Heroic tier your ability to lock down single targets will be mostly limited to melee foes (daze, immobilize, prone, etc.), though you can ruin the day of ranged enemies if you employ these tactics while a melee ally is breathing down their neck. Druids can lock down ranged enemies right out of the box just by being in melee, assuming they can maneuver them into a corner or onto difficult terrain. The most important thing to remember is to choose your target carefully so you get the most mileage out of the effect.

Summoning



Different controllers go about summoning in different ways. Generally speaking, summoning is a way for you to put an extra ally on the battlefield. Most universally, all summons serve as a form of damage mitigation. Summoned creatures have HP equal to your bloodied value, but when they're killed you only lose 1 healing surge. Furthermore, if you time it right and the dice favor you, you may find yourself in a situation where your summoned ally is almost down. At this point you can dismiss the summon and all of the damage dealt to it will have been wasted! Finally, this form of damage mitigation is also a good way to draw fire away from your allies, particularly melee Strikers (which tend to have few surges and a knack for getting knocked around). Since summons count as allies, they can also be used to set up flanking (a pseudo-debuff) and they can benefit from a leader's buffs. They also simply take up physical space on the battlefield, which may or may not be useful in a given encounter. Many individual summons have specific control abilities, but I'm not going to attempt an exhaustive list. Rather, I will generalize how the summons of Druids, Invokers, and Wizards differ from each other and what makes them unique. Invoker summons have the ability to make opportunity attacks (OAs), potentially limiting the movement of enemies (or at least punishing them for moving). They sometimes get bonuses to their defenses, and the higher level summons can attack with the Invoker's minor action. Wizard summons are similar in that they can make OAs and they tend to get defense bonuses. They also usually get some minor controlling effects, but their attacks are standard actions instead of minor actions. Often the OAs of Wizard summons will even have an additional effect of some kind (often allowing the summoned creature to act as a secondary Defender). Druid summons are the most offensively oriented of the bunch. Most of them can't make OAs so their ability to affect enemy movement by simply being present is limited. They're also a bit squishier since they don't usually get a bonus to their defenses. The most important feature of Druid summons, however, is their ability to take Instinctive Actions. You can opt to control a summoned creature using your standard action much like a Wizard does, but if you don't command it then it will take its instinctive action at the end of your turn, assuming that it's able. Some instinctive actions are better than others, and some have control effects while others just do straight damage. Some incorporate movement into their instinctive action, making them viable even if your enemies are mobile. Essentially they can be no maintenance, granting you an extra action each round.  You have to pay attention though; there are some summons that instinctively attack creatures that meet certain criteria, and that includes you and your allies! 

Debuffs



A controller that focuses on debuffs is sort of an anti-leader. I differentiate debuffs from status effects by defining debuffs as numeric penalties and status effects as effects which limit enemy actions or options in some way. Sometimes the line is blurry (i.e. blinded). In a sense this form of control can be almost indistinguishable from what a Leader does; after all, mechanically there is no difference between giving an enemy a -1 penalty to AC and giving your ally a +1 bonus to attack (assuming they attack AC). Furthermore, sometimes Leaders debuff as well (i.e. the Bard's at-wills Vicious Mockery and Guiding Strike). In fact, Vicious Mockery is virtually identical to the Wizard spell Illusory Ambush (Vicious Mockery has the Charm keyword and Illusory Ambush has Illusion, but otherwise they're identical with the obvious exception of keying off of different attack stats). Both can be upgraded with Psychic Lock in Paragon. So do debuffs fall under the jurisdiction of Leaders or Controllers? It would seem, rather, that the two roles happen to share this ability (nothing wrong with that though).


Positioning



Once again, this is something that Controllers and Leaders have in common. Generally, however, Leaders affect positioning by granting their allies extra movement and Controllers conversely impose forced movement upon their enemies. This actually results in some important distinctions that are appropriate for both roles; namely, Leaders can bail their friends out of zones, difficult terrain, etc. to reduce their negative effects, whereas Controllers can force enemies into zones, difficult terrain, etc., compounding their negative effects. You're concerned with offense, while the Leader plays a defensive game. You also get to have more fun with movement since you can knock enemies into pits, off cliffs, etc. (a Leader would be unlikely to do the same to your allies). Both of you can manipulate flanking, either creating flanking opportunities for your allies or eliminating them for your enemies. The Druid at-will Call of the Beast is a unique way of denying enemies CA (from flanking or otherwise) without affecting positioning at all.

Controller classes



Druid 


Overview: Primary stat: WIS; Secondary stats: DEX, CON

The Druid is unique, in that it is currently the only melee controller in the game. Its main strength is versatility, and being able to switch between melee and ranged with a minor action (free action in paragon, if you take the Quick Wild Shape feat). I would recommend balancing beast form and caster powers so you can take advantage of this versatility as opposed to making a "pure caster" or a "pure beast form" Druid, though those routes are certainly playable.

Predator Druids (DEX secondary) should emphasize mobility and speed in beast form. You get a free +1 speed bonus by going this route (so at level 1 an Elf has a base speed of 8!!!), so take advantage of it. It's easy to overly emphasize your Striker secondary role as a Predator, so dont' forget to focus on control effects!  Overall, they arguably have the best riders of the Druid builds.

Guardian Druids are a bit tougher (they use CON for AC, which also conveniently gives them more HP and surges), but not as fast or mobile. Their secondary role is leader, but don't expect to provide much healing support.  They're very good at forced movement.

Swarm Druids (CON secondary) are extremely durable, as they get a swarm-like damage reduction against melee and ranged attacks while in beast form, and they can take the feat Hide Armor Expertise to use their Con in place of Dex or Int for AC.  They have a lot of close burst/blast attacks, some of which are not party friendly, so feel free to wade into groups of enemies but be careful that you don't hit your friends!

Summoner Druids are not a distinct build.  Any Druid can specialize in summoning to whatever extent they please.  This could range from picking up a single Daily summoning power, to filling all Daily slots with summoning powers, picking up summoning feats, and choosing a summoning Paragon Path (Pack Lord or Primal Summoner). 

Pros:
  • Versatile (can switch between range and melee)

  • Can cover any secondary role 

  • Excellent at-will powers, and access to 3 of them (or 4 if human)

  • Leader HP/surges

  • Great mobility (wild shaping grants shifting, predator druids get +1 to speed)

  • Summons have instinctive actions, thus they are low maintenance


Cons:
  • AoE's are generally smaller than a Wizards and less party friendly than an Invokers

  • Being in melee makes you an attractive target

  • In Heroic, sustain minors can be problematic if you want to wild shape, move, and attack


Secondary Roles:
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Striker – Predator Druids really shine as secondary strikers. They can be build to deal respectable damage while in beast form, and many of their powers grant mobility (for example, see the riders on Darting Bite and Predator's Flurry, which significantly improve your shifting). Mobility can also be achieved via status effects (enemies can't make OA's while dazed or stunned, and blinded, prone, and restrained grant attack penalties). And don't forget that wild shaping back to humanoid form allows you to shift, and to do the same when wild shaping to beast form grab Pouncing Beast Armor, the feat Agile Form, or (in Paragon if you're a Predator) the amazing feat Pouncing Form (shift your DEX mod squares when wild shaping to beast form).

The amount of damage you do will depend on your tactics, feats, and items. Charging and getting combat advantage are great ways to increase your accuracy. With Enraged Boar Form (feat) your charges will be even more accurate, and you'll also get +2 to damage! Ferocious Tiger Form gives you +2 to damage when you have combat advantage (so try to charge into flanking positions!). Primal Fury will give you a +1 to attack when the enemy is bloodied. So in an ideal situation, when charging into a flanking position against a bloodied enemy, you can have a +5 bonus to your attack (+1 charge, +1 enraged boar, +2 for CA, and +1 for Primal Fury) and a +4 bonus to damage (Enraged Boar and Ferocious Tiger)!  Provided you have a lot of allies that fight in melee, it's actually not that uncommon to maneuver into such an advantageous situation (powers like Pounce and Swarming Locusts help, and don't forget that many status effects will give you CA). Grab a Horned Helm (for charging) and Claw Gloves (for CA) as soon as possible to boost your damage.  Staff of Ruin, Staff of the Serpent, and Iron Armbands of power are also popular damage boosters (SoR and Iron Armbands won't stack, however).

Defender – Any Druid can play pseudo-defender for a round or two if an enemy is harassing an ally that's squishier (a ranged leader or another controller).  Predator Druids have some good grabbing powers, but they'll generally favor hit and run tactics over off-tanking.  Swarm Druids are the real defenders.  Grasping Claws is great for providing some stickiness, especially with the Ruthless Killer feat.  Your Damage Reduction makes you very tough to kill, and various powers help with this even further.  Pick up Bolstered Swarm (feat) as soon as you have room for it in paragon, as it provides a reliable source of THP (by wild shaping).  You may also want Toughness and/or Durable.  You don't have very many ways to mark, but at level 3 Roar of the Unbowed Beast is a good start.  You may also want to consider picking up a defender multiclass feat.

Leader – Yep, Druid's can minor in leader too. You can focus on powers that provide forced movement and use them to get your allies out of trouble (this seems to be a feature of both controllers and leaders; warlords and bards are particularly good at it). For paragon paths, Keeper of the Hidden Flame, Guardian of the Living Gate, and Spiral Winds Ally are good choices.  Consider multiclassing into Shaman; for the price of 2 feats you can get a 1/encounter Healing Spirits!  Otherwise, you don't have many ways of healing.  In general, Druids can't function as well as a secondary leader as they can a striker or defender.

NOTE: While Druid's are capable of fulfilling any role to an extent, I do NOT recommend actually trying to balance all of them! Pick one secondary role to focus on, and make it fill a hole in your party composition. If you want to multiclass, you'll probably get the most mileage out of a leader class, and focusing on casting (Wildshaping for the occasional Pounce or to pull an enemy off of an ally).


Why would a controller want to be in melee?

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Admittedly, pure control is most effective at range because you have more choices of enemies to affect, you can more easily affect a different enemy the next round, and you're safer from getting attacked. So what incentive does a Druid have to wade into melee? Melee combat is dangerous, but the Druid is tough for a controller. Druid's have Leader HP and Healing Surges, so provided they don't neglect AC, they're less squishy than the other controllers and most strikers (the Avenger and the Barbarian being the exceptions).

So you're equipped for the job, now what does it offer you?
  • Ability to Flank: The resulting Combat Advantage will benefit you as well as your flanking partner. Boom, free debuff by virtue of positioning alone.

  • Access to charging: Charging is a good deal, since it's a free movement (with restrictions) and a +1 to attack. Yes, another free bonus; this dangerous job is really starting to have some nice perks! The movement's a wash because you need to be adjacent to an enemy to attack in melee, whereas a ranged character can just attack. In other words, needing to be adjacent to attack isn't as much of a penalty now*. And with some feats and items, charging becomes an even more beneficial option. As a bonus, unlike most classes, all of your melee at-wills can be used while charging. So while the fighter has to give up his Tide of Iron if he charges, you still have your ability to control (Savage Rend being the obvious analog here). 

  • Less Friendly Fire: Some of your beast form powers allow you to make multiple attacks and shift. For example, Predator's Flurry can daze two enemies, provided they are within your DEX mod squares of each other, without risking any friendly fire. Color Spray can potentially hit more enemies, but it will also hit allies.

  •  Lockdown: Pin an enemy against a wall, pillar, sarcophagus, etc. such that even if they shift they're still adjacent to you. This tactic works even better now thanks to the feat Ruthless Killer from Dragon 382, which changes the slow effect of Grasping Claws to immobilized if you stay adjacent to the target.  Works great for Lurkers/Skirmishers who had plans to go after someone squishier than you (it may also prevent them from getting bonus damage), and is AMAZING against ranged enemies with really crappy melee attacks. If they want to attack, they're going to get some claws to the face (and they'll either be slowed or slid one square). To replicate this, a ranged controller either A) needs help from an ally (immobilize, daze, or knock prone the ranged enemy, and the adjacent ally can punish them for attacking) or B) needs to use a power that blocks line of sight. Both A and B require powers that offer these effects, none of which are available at-will (though zones/walls that block Line of Sight may be available for the whole encounter).

  • Ability to make Opportunity Attacks (that don't suck): This has been referenced above, but it merits having a point of its own. Especially since your OAs are better than most; yours can either slide 1 square or slow.


Once again, these are intrinsic benefits to melee combat, irrespective of the many specific powers that Druid's get for melee. Versatility is often overlooked because it's not easily quantified, but in this case the ability to switch back and forth between melee and range (and not gimp your effectiveness by doing so) is a pretty clear benefit.

* The biggest penalty for needing to be in melee vs. range involves Grasping Claws. Slow can normally be used at range to prevent a melee enemy from reaching an available target, provided said target is more than 4 squares away. The Druid doesn't normally have this option, since you can't move after a charge. The enemy will be slowed, but you're now a nice target if nobody else is in range. Still useful if you have more HP than whichever allies you're trying to protect, but doesn't waste the enemy's turn.


Invoker



Overview: Primary Stat: WIS; Secondary Stats: CON, INT

 Apologies to all of the Invoker players. I have neither played an Invoker, nor seen one in action. This section will likely remain in an impoverished state for quite some time.

Pros:
  • AoE's often target enemies only, so you're more party friendly

  • Most summons can be commanded to attack with a minor action

  • At-wills can be modified with Domain feats

  • Access to heavy armor


Cons:
  • Fairly squishy

  • Lack of a unifying class feature to enhance versatility or control

  • Only 4 summoning powers


Wizard



Overview: Primary stat: INT; Secondary Stats: WIS, CON, DEX, CHA

The Wizard is currently the most well-supported controller, and thus some may consider it the "best" controller class. Wizards are ranged controllers, and depending on the build they may or may not be squishy (compared to incarnations from previous editions). Their biggest strength is their extremely powerful Daily spells (it's generally agreed that Wizards have the best Dailies of any class). Wizards also specialize in large area spells (bursts and blasts), and these can be made even bigger by taking the Enlarge Spell feat. They can affect a lot of enemies, but need to be very conscious of where their allies are (because most of their spells do not discriminate).

Orb of Imposition (WIS) Wizards focus on single target save-ends effects because of the save penalty that their Implement Mastery gives them. Save penalties can also be stacked on from various other sources (feats and items). Seek out one of the Orbizard threads on the CharOp boards for details on how to make an extremely broken build. Also note that since WIS is your secondary, your Thunderwave will pack a huge punch.

Orb of Deception (CHA) Wizards will almost always be Illusionists (though not all Illusionists need choose this Implement Mastery). Arcane Power is your bible, so make sure you have it. Gnome Illusionists are another very powerful Wizard build, and AP offers a lot of illusion spells. Just watch out for monsters that are immune to illusions or psychic damage.

Staff Wizards (CON) are more defensive in nature, and can handle being up close and personal with the enemies (leather prof is recommended if you go this route). This form of Implement Mastery is compatible with almost any Wizard build, so it's here that I will discuss the PHB recommended builds, Control or War Wizard. It's simple, really: don't make a war Wizard. The type of character that you're looking to play would be much more effective if you choose the Sorcerer class. You may now open your PHB2 and turn to page 136. If you're really stubborn about being a blast Wizard, it's doable but you won't be doing your job (controller) very well. Choose a Genasi and drool over Elemental Empowerment (Heroic Tier feat in AP), or choose a Tiefling and focus on fire-based spells.

Tome of Binding (CON) Wizards focus on summoning spells. To be a summoner, you will sacrifice most of the other amazing Daily spells that Wizards have access to, but just don't think about it. Your job is now to summon stuff, so don't think you can just cherry pick the "cool" summons and take other Dailies as you please. If you want to do that, then choose a different form of Implement Mastery (Staff works particularly well). Summoning is a form of control, in that you create an ally (flanking buddy!) that can now make OAs. You've decided to focus on restricting enemy movement and manipulating positioning. Take encounter powers that give you some other options so you're not a one trick pony.

Tome of Readiness (NA) can be used with any Wizard build. It gives you some additional flexibility. It's not a terribly popular option, and there's a reason for that. If you want an implement that's compatible with any build (or just want to make a generalist Wizard build), see Staff of Defense.

Wand of Accuracy (DEX) Wizards get a bonus to a single attack once per encounter. Make sure you don't waste this on a sub-optimal target or with a sub-optimal spell. This Implement synergizes well with Elves, since they can re-roll at attack once per encounter, making you extremely accurate. It's another rather unpopular choice for a couple of reasons: 1) most wands aren't that great, and 2) your secondary stat (DEX) boosts the same defense as your Primary stat (INT), giving you lower overall defenses (redundant bonuses are wasted).

Pros:
  • Great ability to cover large areas

  • Orbs offer best solo lockdown of any controller

  • Can master a second implement at paragon


Cons:
  • Can deal a lot of friendly fire damage

  • Squishy (Staff Wizards can greatly mitigate, but not eliminate, this)

  • Relatively few choices for summoning (1/level)[/sblock]

Psion



Overview:  Primary stat:  INT;  Secondary stats:  CHA, WIS

Psions control the battlefield simply by thinking it.  Here's another class that I have limited experience with.

Telepathic Psions (CHA) control the battlefield by mentally assaulting their opponents, rendering them less effective (debuffs), dazed, or even dominated. 

Pros:

  • Often targets Will

  • Augmentable at-wills provide great flexibility in how you use your powers, and allow for specialization


Cons:

  • No summons (currently)

  • Augmentable at-wills instead of encounter powers results in "one trick pony" syndrome (you give up variety of effects for versatility in how you use a specialized effect)


Seeker



Overview:  Primary stat:  WIS; Secondary stats:  DEX, STR

Seekers are the first controller to use weapons instead of implements.  This gives them a range advantage (bows in particular have a much longer range than most implement powers) as well as an accuracy advantage (they gain their weapon's proficiency bonus, but still usually target NADS).  The price that they pay is that they're primarily single-target controllers, and the area attacks that they do have tend to originate from a target hit with an arrow (making placement less flexible).  Their Inevitable Shot class feature can turn a projectile into a heat seeking missile; once per encounter when they miss, they can make a RBA against a different target within 5 squares.  You're an archer whose arrows are enchanted with the magic of the Primal Spirits, placing you into a similar archetype that the caster Ranger filled in previous editions.

Vengeful Seekers (DEX) use bows, whereas the STR based build is speculated to focus on heavy thrown weapons.  They're also extremely mobile, as the Bloodbond allows them to shift as a minor action (much like Druids, but without the wild shape requirement).  Their Encaging Spirits encounter power (granted by the Bloodbond) lets them push all enemies in a close burst 1 and then slow them.  Overall, the bloodbond makes Seekers extremely mobile.  Their secondary role is ranged striker.

Pros:
  • Weapon using controllers gain proficiency bonus despite targeting NADs (accurate)

  • Long range

  • Leader HP/surges


Cons:
  • Few AoE's, and those that exist usually center on a target that's been hit (inflexible placement)

  • No summons (currently)

I'd actually put being blinded as a more crippling condition for ranged creatures than melee. If you're a melee creature and you're blinded, you gain major penalties and have a hard time hitting and doing damage. If you're a ranged creature and you get blinded, you're completely out of the fight.
Blinded is worse if your opponents keep moving. In that case you have to play "guess the square" in addition to taking the -5 penalty. However, enemies that use close and area attacks don't have to worry about the penalty and have a better chance of guessing the right square by covering more of them. We ran into a nasty scenario a few sessions back where the entire party was blinded. The only one to not get heavily screwed by this was the party's wizard with her thunderwave and cloud of daggers.

Overall the blind ratings look about right. Artillery tend to care the least about being blinded. It's inconvenient but unless the party spread out quickly it probably won't affect their effectiveness too much. If anything, I'd almost be tempted to push it down to 2 for area heavy artillery. However, it does rate higher for mult-attack artillery without area effects, so 3 is a decent average.

The only thing that seems off right now is that push might be undervalued for controllers. Some of those have auras that boost nearby allies and shoving them away from their allies can deprive them of those benefits. This is actually more of a leader thing, but there's no entry for that and controller is the closest match.
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Daze is also very useful for 2 other things:

1. for letting either you/allies from disengaging from melee since dazed creatures don't get opportunity action so you can just walk away from them. Good if you want to escape from melee or letting your strikers pass the soldiers/brutes to get to artillery/controller easier.

2. To stop immediate actions from creatures. e.g. Orcus Tail Lash is pretty nasty, its an immediate reaction that can stun you as soon as you move adjacent to him. Daze him and you don't have to worry about it.
Could you sort those lists alphabetically, it'd make them easier to read.
Thanks for putting this together alien! I definitely find it helpful to assess the usefulness of various effects on the different enemy roles. Combine that with a consideration of the average defenses of each enemy role (so that you can actually hit the target reliably), and you've got a pretty good base of information for assessing the powers of Wizards and Druids for their effectiveness at controlling the board.

A couple comments . . . your ratings for weakened did seem a bit high to me (4 out of 5 for every role except controller). As you say, it's better to prevent an attack from happening in the first place, and most of the negative status conditions can do just that. Weakening seems more like a 3 to me - it's usually useful (as opposed to situationally useful), but it's not that powerful an effect. Other status conditions can also help your allies hit the target, which weakening does not do, and that should factor in as well (in much the same way that damage still matters even if you're not a striker).

I also thought the ratings for pushing, pulling, and sliding might be a bit high across the board. I guess part of the problem is that the usefulness of such powers depends on how many squares you can move the target. An Artillery sitting at 20 squares away isn't really going to be effected much by being pulled or slid 3 squares. For those powers, it might be better to give them some parathentical ratings and remarks, like Pull - 2 (4 if you can pull a ranged enemy into melee range of an ally).
Daze is also very useful for 2 other things:

1. for letting either you/allies from disengaging from melee since dazed creatures don't get opportunity action so you can just walk away from them. Good if you want to escape from melee or letting your strikers pass the soldiers/brutes to get to artillery/controller easier.

2. To stop immediate actions from creatures. e.g. Orcus Tail Lash is pretty nasty, its an immediate reaction that can stun you as soon as you move adjacent to him. Daze him and you don't have to worry about it.

I agree. For most opponents daze is not that great because the creature normally only has one action a round that is damaging. However, when you are taking on a solo such as a dragon, or the as mentioned Orcus, daze becomes extremely powerful. Solos are solos because of the multiple damage actions they get to use in a single round. Anyone who has been on the wrong side of a claw, tail sweep, breath weapon all in one round can attest to that. Remove that and they are just an elite with more hit points.
However, when you are taking on a solo such as a dragon, or the as mentioned Orcus, daze becomes extremely powerful. Solos are solos because of the multiple damage actions they get to use in a single round.

This is true. Daze becomes more important when it inhibits a second attack and not just a move or minor action.

I guess the hard part with a guide like this is controlling for party composition. Status effects that grant combat advantage are a lot more valuable, for example, if you've got a rogue in the party.
If you're a ranged creature and you get blinded, you're completely out of the fight.

Ranged attackers can use Perception to discern the square of a target as easily as melee attackers can.
I guess the hard part with a guide like this is controlling for party composition. Status effects that grant combat advantage are a lot more valuable, for example, if you've got a rogue in the party.

I think that's why the OP just focused on the effects on the enemy roles. Combat advantage is to some extent useful for everyone, so that could be factored in, but I think a discussion of party composition should generally be avoided here. Don't get me wrong, it's relevant information, but leave that to the individual to factor in.
I think that's why the OP just focused on the effects on the enemy roles. Combat advantage is to some extent useful for everyone, so that could be factored in, but I think a discussion of party composition should generally be avoided here. Don't get me wrong, it's relevant information, but leave that to the individual to factor in.

It is something that deserves consideration in a discussion thread though.

Take, for example, knocking a target prone. Usually useful on a melee enemy, but if your party features several ranged members (spellcasters and archers), knocking enemies prone becomes much less valuable as your allies take a penalty to-hit, since this is the opposite of what a controller wants to do.
Take, for example, knocking a target prone. Usually useful on a melee enemy, but if your party features several ranged members (spellcasters and archers), knocking enemies prone becomes much less valuable as your allies take a penalty to-hit, since this is the opposite of what a controller wants to do.

Yeah, I see your point. I guess considerations of party composition might pop up more frequently than I originally thought.

Could party composition considerations be dealt with in the general notes on the effects rather than in the breakdown by enemy role? For example, if the OP includes notes specifically on prone, it could include something like . . . "Adjust the value of a Prone effect by -1 if the strikers in your party are mainly ranged." The earlier suggestion about Combat Advantage could be handled in the same way. Any condition that grants Combat Advantage could include the note "Adjust the value of this by +1 if you have a Rogue in the party". Would that work best to handle considerations of party composition?
These suggestions/comments have been great! I've made some changes to the ratings based on the discussion. I think the next section that I'm going to work on is a discussion of the different conditions. This will be more generalized that giving a rating based on role, and it will also be easier to include things like walls and AoEs. After that, I will probably start a section on party composition (so keep those thoughts coming, as the sheer variety of different class/race combinations is daunting, as any one person has only limited experience in game). And of course no controller guide would be complete without a discussion of the strengths/weakness/differences of the Wizard, Druid, and Invoker (this will start out as very general, especially for Invokers since I haven't looked at the class much).
@Alien: Nice to see someone started the work for other roles. Keep it up, I'd love to see more. Here are some ideas for other chapters:

- Keeping yourself alive: Controllers are usually the most fragile member of the party, so you either need to beef yourself up or add mobility to stay out of reach.

- Melee controllers (Wizard of the Spiral Tower, Wildshape Druid)

- Teamwork with defenders, leaders, strikers, and a second controller

- How to handle boss fights against single, tough enemies

- Wizard: Blast allies yes/no, reducing collateral damage
You need a "6" for Stunned and a "7" for Dominated.

("6" - Monster can't do anything. "7" - Monster helps you.)

Also, those two will always have those numbers, regarless of monster role, so just put it on the top instead of putting them in every list.
@Alien: Nice to see someone started the work for other roles. Keep it up, I'd love to see more. Here are some ideas for other chapters:

- Keeping yourself alive: Controllers are usually the most fragile member of the party, so you either need to beef yourself up or add mobility to stay out of reach.

- Melee controllers (Wizard of the Spiral Tower, Wildshape Druid)

- Teamwork with defenders, leaders, strikers, and a second controller

- How to handle boss fights against single, tough enemies

- Wizard: Blast allies yes/no, reducing collateral damage

Squishyness: Not always, I'm starting a campaign tomorrow where my wizard will have the highest AC in the party (17 thanks to Leather and Staff, the Warden and Barb only have 16s)

Blast Allies: The answer is always yes. A catchphrase from my last campaign where I played the wizard was "Do what the wizard tells you" because when it's the wizard's turn, bad things happen

Alien: Your section on prone is slightly incorrect, prone enemies only grant combat advantage to those who make melee attacks against them, so a crossbow rogue does NOT get CA
Blast Allies: The answer is always yes. A catchphrase from my last campaign where I played the wizard was "Do what the wizard tells you" because when it's the wizard's turn, bad things happen

I disagree with you on this one, but you do have a good point about other party members "doing what the wizard tells [them]." The wizard is in a difficult situation because he/she really has to consider what the best possible outcome will be. Will the damage done to the enemies outweigh the damage done to the party? And what about status conditions? What role are the enemies, and what are your allies defenses? If you're using a power that targets Fort, and the burst contains two enemy lurkers, your Fighter, and your Hellock, your attacks are less likely to affect your allies, but have a good chance of hitting the lurkers. Does it do ongoing poison damage? If one or both ally is a Dwarf they're going to have a pretty easy time shaking it off. The problem is that enemy hit points are NOT equal to ally hit points. Monsters generally have more hit points but their attacks deal less damage, compared to Player Characters which have devastating attacks but fewer hit points (in general). Also, consider the fact that PCs usually need to conserve resources for future encounters, so not damaging them should be a high priority. The likelihood of the enemy's attacks hitting also needs to be factored in. Do the enemy's have low to-hit, and are engaging the sword and board fighter because they can't escape his combat challenge? Doesn't matter if your burst is more likely to hit them and miss the fighter; the battle can be won more easily by attrition, without risking injury to your ally (so you also need to consider, is your attack more likely to hit than the enemy's?).

While this may sound overly complicated, keep in mind that a rough qualitative sense should be enough. You know if the enemies have been hitting frequently, and assuming your DM rolls in the open you should have a decent estimate of their attack bonus. You should also have a good idea of how the defenses of your allies differ from each other (besides, you could always ask other players what their defenses are if you're really worried about hitting them).

So now back to your point about the wizard telling the other PCs what to do. You'll make life easier for yourself and your allies if you're aware of positioning before your turn comes up. Tell the fighter to shift out of melee if the enemy will not be attacking between the figher's turn and yours (the fighter can delay and attack after the enemy to optimize your initiative order tactics). You'll be much more likely to minimize friendly fire if you plan your turn out before it's actually your turn. The wizard should constantly be assessing the pros and cons of their actions, and constantly scheming up ways to tip the balance in their favor.



Alien: Your section on prone is slightly incorrect, prone enemies only grant combat advantage to those who make melee attacks against them, so a crossbow rogue does NOT get CA

Thanks for catching that! It has been edited.
Under which category is unconscious?

That's a pretty nice effect.
Under which category is unconscious?

That's a pretty nice effect.

Indeed it is. I forgot about it, as it doesn't come up all that often. I'm thinking 5's across the board :D

It's been added to the "controller abilities" section.
(the fighter can delay and attack after the enemy to optimize your initiative order tactics)

This (initiative) is something that deserves focus, IMHO.

Some status effects lose a lot of usefulness if you're not in the right place in Init. Examples:

Prone - You should act, followed by the melee PCs, then the Monster, then the ranged PCs. This way, the melee allies get CA and the ranged ones don't get the penalty. If the monster acts between you and your friends, all you've done is cost him a move action.

Immobilized or other "break the defense" statuses - You act, then the strikers, then the defenders, then the monsters. This way, the strikers can slip past the affected enemies, then the defenders move in to stop pursuit. If you're not in the correct initiative, the monsters might recover before the rest of the group has a chance to act OR they might recover before the defenders move in to hold them in place and fall back to get the strikers who slipped past (maybe even flanking with the squishies).

In other words, a controller should ideally have the highest Init among the PCs, without any monsters in between them. That way, delaying or readying is possible to adjust to specific tactics without giving monsters a lot of free turns.

Init adjusting doesn't have to occur in a single round, either. Some conditions work just fine independently of init placement (or conditions that last "until the end of your next turn"). It is mostly important for short-term conditions (Prone, penalties for "the target's next attack" or "until the end of the target's next turn") or for save ends, which might be over in the target's first turn.

This can be expanded to Controller + Leader sinergy. You'll normally want to have it so that the Striker is buffed ("+1 to attack rolls before the end of the ally's next turn"), attacking a debuffed monster ("the next attack against the target has CA"_).
I've started the "Controller Classes" section. I got a good amount done on the Druid, since that's the controller that I have the most experience with. And admittedly, the pro/con lists are very rough, but I haven't put much thought into them yet (just wanted to get something up there).

I think where I'm going to run into trouble is with the Invoker. I haven't looked at the class much, and I haven't played it at all. It'll most likely be the last class that I cover, and if anyone offers any suggestions about it I'll most likely just take your word for it
I like the section on the Druid. A lot of good information there, but it looks like there's one mistake:

The biggest penalty for needing to be in melee vs. range involves Grasping Claws. Slow can normally be used at range to prevent a melee enemy from reaching an available target, provided said target is more than 4 squares away. The Druid has to work for this. You can charge with Grasping Claws, wild shape to shift away, and then move away, but if you started your turn in humanoid form that's no longer an option.

You can't charge, then shift and move away. Remember with charge:

No Further Actions: After you resolve a charge attack, you can’t take any further actions this turn, unless you spend an action point to take an extra action.
I like the section on the Druid. A lot of good information there, but it looks like there's one mistake:



You can't charge, then shift and move away. Remember with charge:

No Further Actions: After you resolve a charge attack, you can’t take any further actions this turn, unless you spend an action point to take an extra action.

Ah, thanks for catching that. It's funny because I've made that mistake here before and been corrected. Guess I was more tired than I thought when I posted that :D
Awesome job. Thanks a lot because I've actually been wanting just such a thread.

All the debate about whether there should or can, or shouldn't or can't, be a martial controller class has me examining what the real boundaries of both the martial power source and the controller role really are.

This will help immensely in answering many of those very questions, kudos and thanks. Now I just have to find or create a similar thread for the martial power source and see how it all goes.
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As I see it... (and bear in mind that in practice I have the tactical nous of General Custer, so criticism gratefully accepted)

Basically, the striker wants to go after the high damage output low defence/hp enemies. The defender is stopping the enemy from going after the striker.

The enemy wants to do the same only in reverse.

So the controller is making sure that the PCs plan goes into effect, rather than the enemy lurker/artillery going after the striker, and the enemy soldiers stopping the other characters going after the enemy lurker/artillery.

The zen of the controller would be to put each enemy on ice until they stagger out one at a time into the waiting arms of the defender, who holds them put while the striker kills them.

More practically, the controller's job includes (in a rough priority order):
a) stopping the enemy from doing an end-run around the defender.
b) stopping the enemy from ganging up on the defender all at once.
c) getting the striker's targets into a convenient position for the striker.

a) and c) are to some extent the responsibility of the striker and defender. b) is pretty purely the controller.

Obviously the best way to do the controllers' job is to do enough damage to kill all the enemy, but if it was always that simple everyone would be a striker.
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So the controller is making sure that the PCs plan goes into effect, rather than the enemy lurker/artillery going after the striker, and the enemy soldiers stopping the other characters going after the enemy lurker/artillery.

The zen of the controller would be to put each enemy on ice until they stagger out one at a time into the waiting arms of the defender, who holds them put while the striker kills them.

More practically, the controller's job includes (in a rough priority order):
a) stopping the enemy from doing an end-run around the defender.
b) stopping the enemy from ganging up on the defender all at once.
c) getting the striker's targets into a convenient position for the striker.

a) and c) are to some extent the responsibility of the striker and defender. b) is pretty purely the controller.

Obviously the best way to do the controllers' job is to do enough damage to kill all the enemy, but if it was always that simple everyone would be a striker.

These are very important components of a controller's job, but I would zoom out a little, and look at the role from a bigger picture pov. Combat in 4e is much more than just strikers (on both sides) try to kill, defenders (on both sides) protect strikers. What you really have to analyze is what does the party need most, and you should be prepared to be able to provide that. This is going to vary from encounter to encounter, and will largely depend on party composition, as well as the composition of the enemy forces.

I wouldn't prioritize your a-c list in a general sense. Stopping the enemy from getting around your defender shouldn't be your highest priority if your allies are not particularly squishy, or if you have two defenders. Just be cognizant of what your party needs, and more importantly, what would screw your enemies over the most. If anything should be a "top priority," I would say that it would be causing your enemies to lose turns. Immobilize melee enemies, block LoS for ranged enemies, etc.

Depending on the setup, isolating groups of enemies can be very effective. In confined spaces, a wall could easily cut off half the enemies from the battle. This works REALLY well for minions. Just trap them; they can't get through the wall without dying instantly. If it's a wall of thorns or fire, normal enemies are slowed down by it.

Going along with that, you didn't list "stopping enemies from ganging up on the Striker." Example from my party: Avenger is at the top of the initiative, and rushes forward to attack a skirmisher (Banshrae warrior). An Iron Gorgon goes next, charges the Avenger, pushes and knocks him prone. Then the Banshrae goes, and using a recharge power (Staggering Palm), scores a crit and stuns the Avenger. Druid was next (and the rest of the enemies were higher in the init. order than any other allies): pops up a Wall of Thorns on the Gorgon, and cuts off the rest of the enemies from finishing off the Avenger. The Ranger wades in and rescues the Avenger, and the two of them team up on the Banshrae. The rest of the party deals with the Gorgon and the other enemies (another Banshrae warrior and two Banshrae Dartswarmers). Had the Avenger been swarmed, the battle would have become much more difficult.
How can Blinded ever be considered less useful than Blocked Line of Sight?

When you are Blinded, you automatically lose line of sight to everything on the battlefield, in addition to the other associated penalties.

When something is merely in your way, you can often move to see around it.
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Alien: Great work, I love this thread. A small suggestion: the "Controller effectiveness vs. monster roles" may benefit from either a) being formatted into table form (everything won't be in seperate s-blocks, which makes it harder to compare among different roles), or b) being color coded a la the Handbook colors (e.g. red=bad, sky blue=great) since many of us are now used to things being evaluated this way.

You should also note in the "weakened" section that, while it reduces the damage dealt, it does nothing to prevent the infliction of status effects. There are times when the status effects are far worse for you than the damage.

You can't charge, then shift and move away. Remember with charge:

No Further Actions: After you resolve a charge attack, you can’t take any further actions this turn, unless you spend an action point to take an extra action.

It should be noted that this limitation can be overcome with the very cheap (level 2) Boots of Adept Charging, which allows for a free shift after a charge.

Edited to add: you should also note that Walls (and to a lesser extent, Zones) don't require a to-hit role to be effective, which makes them especially attractive options for dealing with those enemies with really high defenses.
A small suggestion: the "Controller effectiveness vs. monster roles" may benefit from either a) being formatted into table form (everything won't be in seperate s-blocks, which makes it harder to compare among different roles), or b) being color coded a la the Handbook colors (e.g. red=bad, sky blue=great) since many of us are now used to things being evaluated this way.

Great suggestions! I've color coded the ratings, and it looks much better.

You should also note in the "weakened" section that, while it reduces the damage dealt, it does nothing to prevent the infliction of status effects. There are times when the status effects are far worse for you than the damage.

Added.


It should be noted that this limitation can be overcome with the very cheap (level 2) Boots of Adept Charging, which allows for a free shift after a charge.

This is one of my favorite items for Druids! I didn't include it in my description because I think that it goes a little too in-depth for a general controller guide, but I'm glad it was brought up in this thread.

Specifically, it's amazing in combination with Primal Wolf (level 9 Daily). Primal Wolf allows you to knock an enemy prone after they're hit w/ a beast form attack for the rest of the encounter. A good way to eliminate said foe's action is to use Savage Rend to slide them one square, and this way they can't charge you after getting up (beware: they may still be able to charge your allies!). If you either don't have Savage Rend or would rather use Pounce to debuff the enemy, you can still pull the same effective trick by shifting yourself instead of sliding the opponent.

It also increases your chances of setting opponents up into flanking positions, since you have a slide and a shift to work with, even after a charge.

Edited to add: you should also note that Walls (and to a lesser extent, Zones) don't require a to-hit role to be effective, which makes them especially attractive options for dealing with those enemies with really high defenses.

Added in the descriptions.

How can Blinded ever be considered less useful than Blocked Line of Sight?

When you are Blinded, you automatically lose line of sight to everything on the battlefield, in addition to the other associated penalties.

When something is merely in your way, you can often move to see around it.

Hmm, I actually hadn't considered that. Is the general consensus that this is how blinded works? In the description on pg 277 of the PHB it simply says "You can't see any target (your targets have total concealment)." Is blocked line of sight implied by not being able to see your target, or is Line of Sight a specific battlefield condition contingent upon having an unbroken line from your space to the target's, which is assumed to exist unless a power states otherwise?

Losing LoS from being blinded makes sense, but I had (perhaps falsely) assumed that they were two distinct conditions. Although, after re-reading PHB pg. 273, I have a feeling that I was making LoS out to be much more like LoE than it actually is.

Blinded specifically states that the target has total concealment, and PHB 273 states that "if you can see a target but at least one line passes through an obstruction, the target has cover or concealment." Is it safe to imply, then, that if LoS is blocked any targets have total concealment? I guess the source of my confusion was the fact that the blinded condition doesn't simply state "you don't have LoS," yet it DOES specifically state that targets have total concealment.
Is it safe to imply, then, that if LoS is blocked any targets have total concealment?

Nope. If LoS is blocked, then targets have cover or concealment, just as you quoted, based on why vision is blocked. However, Blinded is more specific: it provides total concealment. One could argue that Blinded doesn't block LoS, but since the only thing LoS does is provide cover/concealment, Blinded is *better* than normal blocking of LoS.

The advantage of a Wall is that it may block LoS for more enemies than a Blinded effect - and possibly also cause automatic damage. I think Walls are more flexible for this reason . . . but also more conditional, and less effective at stopping ranged attacks as well (providing only cover, versus the total concealment provided by Blinding enemies).
Thanks for that insight Songteller!

I've updated the ratings for the different monster roles by decreasing LoS. I'd like to qualify the ratings by saying that I'm not equating LoS with walls; walls usually block LoS, but they also hinder movement, deal damage, etc. Blocking LoS alone seems like it's not that great of an effect, thus it is rated fairly low. However, in combination with the other effects of walls and/or zones that block LoS, these powers are quite effective.
Updated with a "Tips, Strategies, and Tactics" section. Feedback welcome!
I know it would be a major additional undertaking, but I would LOVE to see a list of spells that provide each condition.

As the discussion has pointed out, Blind/blinded is one of the best conditions to inflict on anything except for melee - but I've had a hard time finding (wizard) abilities that induce it.
I did not read thruogh the entire blog, but I think you missed one condition.

I came across this one in PHB 2, page 106.

Power: Face of death,
providing your party with the sweet condition:
"helpless" after the first failed save!:D

Free crits (Coup de grace) for everybody without any reply from the enemy.
I know it would be a major additional undertaking, but I would LOVE to see a list of spells that provide each condition.

As the discussion has pointed out, Blind/blinded is one of the best conditions to inflict on anything except for melee - but I've had a hard time finding (wizard) abilities that induce it.

I was actually messing around with Druid attack powers in a spreadsheet a few weekends ago. My intent was to eventually come up with some way of displaying controller powers/effects such that I could compare the different classes. Major undertaking indeed! What I ended up doing was making columns for all of the different conditions, and listing powers that granted those conditions (with green, red, or grey fill corresponding to at-will, encounter, and daily, respectively). Sunbeam (D9) and Blinding Blizzard (D29) were the only blinds from the Druid's list.

The spreadsheet is a bit cumbersome, and a lot of effects don't fit perfectly into categories. Furthermore, I found that it didn't provide much info for the amount of effort. I haven't actually moved forward with it since then, but I came up with an idea for a second tab where I list all of the levels that Druids gain encounter and/or daily attack powers. The rationale here was that comparison's between the different controllers may vary depending on what level you're looking at, and looking at a class as a whole isn't as practical (since you don't get to keep all of your powers). In each level's row, I was planning on listing every effect/condition that a Druid could inflict with a power that level. Unfortunately this format doesn't lend itself well to quick, visual analysis. I toyed with the idea of doing a matrix with an "x" wherever a condition appeared in a level's row, but I don't think that this will help much visually, either.

Unfortunately, controllers are just notoriously difficult to compare. Even a simple count of how many powers a Wizard has that inflict a given status effect vs. a Druid or Invoker is overly simplistic since many of these powers may have additional effects, may be AoE or single target, may be save ends or "until the end of your next turn," etc. And of course whether a power is an encounter or daily has an effect on tactics and resource management.

Because controllers are a complex role, I would be hesitant to try to present their powers in such a simplified way (especially given how unwieldy even the simplification is). Take, for example, the Bard Daily, Compulsion (I know Bards are only secondary controllers but it was the first spell to pop into my head). At its core it's a forced movement power (at least that's what category it would fit into). However, it also goes into effect on the opponent's turn and prevents them from taking a move action that round. Position them so they can't charge and it's an effective single target lockdown power, functionally more similar to prone or dazed than most forced movement powers (which are typically used to set up flanking, get more mileage out of zones, etc., which Compulsion can still do). I can lump Compulsion in the same category as the Druid's Battering Claws since they're both forced movement, but that doesn't really shed any light on the differences or practical functions of the two powers.

Sorry for all of that text, especially since what it boils down to is that I'm not sure how to best present the abilities of controllers in a user friendly manner.



I did not read thruogh the entire blog, but I think you missed one condition.

I came across this one in PHB 2, page 106.

Power: Face of death,
providing your party with the sweet condition:
"helpless" after the first failed save!:D

Free crits (Coup de grace) for everybody without any reply from the enemy.

Thanks for pointing that out; I'd initially thought that "helpless" was so self explanatory that it didn't merit inclusion, but after taking another look at that Wizard power I noticed that it can lead to a somewhat interesting scenario (it would seem that, by RAW, Helpless does not necessarily mean that the enemy can't retaliate!). So I've updated the list of status effects to include Helpless (and I discuss this power specifically).
Power: Face of death,
providing your party with the sweet condition:
"helpless" after the first failed save!:D

That's strictly inferior to the level-1 wizard power, Sleep.
That's strictly inferior to the level-1 wizard power, Sleep.

Face of Death has some other uses, though -- Immobilize (save ends) on miss is pretty awesome, and it's an Illusion (important for Illusionists, although it's pretty damned horrible against Duergar).
Nope!

First its immobilised (FoD) vs. slowed (Sleep) and after you saved against immobilised and/or ? immobilised/helpless its still slowed for FoD (SE).

So I would take FoD over Sleep anytime, because most of the time it is superior. And that is not even taking into account, that probably, although not explicitley RAW, helpless means just helpless - i.e. you are not able to do anything!
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