Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Unreasonable Expectations

I have unreasonable expectations. Not for everything, or even most things, but certainly for those in the defender role that work hard to be good at one thing, particularly, defense. The problem is, really, in pure defense stats themselves. If you spend time and resources in bolstering one above the others, the expectation is that when you are attacked on that stat, the enemy should miss, more often than not. That's a tough mindset to be in, as a player.

Monsters should roughly hit a player half the time, when targeting armor. Though, monster discrepancies play into this some as well. There is a 2 point fluctuation on any given monster role, and it's not separated by elites or solos. This is a weird inconsistency, and one that's really annoying when statting encounters. The thrust is, when you start pumping feats and really trying to up a particular defense, the player expectation changes. With my current base AC, as an example at level 12, I am hit either 35% of the time or 45% of the time, depending on the monsters being selected (brutes hit less often, but everything else is the same, roughly). This is from three feats used to up my AC and defenses. Otherwise, I would be hit 55% or 65% of the time. This is about on par with other light armor wearers, and only slightly behind heavy or medium armor wearers, which is as it should be.

So taking the 35%, which is most of the mosters. Let's start adding in big fights. My personal defenses go up by 2. This puts my getting hit at 25%. If other players start blowing their's, they can only hit my on a 20. This goes for both types of the monsters, the higher end ones and the normal ones.

You can see how this poses a problem. Monster levels need to start to creep up to challenge me against AC. If the defender isn't challenged, then the party isn't really at risk, in a lot of ways. Things can circumvent the defender, but that leads to the defender feeling useless. Any given fight is balanced around the potential use of powerful dailies. In the fights that dailies aren't used, then the numbers are slightly out of whack, and the feats begin to feel useless. Monsters two levels higher, and on the higher end have a 20% increased chance to hit. So there we are, over the half the time mark, with three feats taken.

This is frustrating, but it's completely understandable and a reasonable way the game is expected to operate, to some degree. Any given encounter is two levels in either direction, so some will miss a lot, some will hit a lot. The upshot is I need to change my expectations of what defenders are and the feats that I take.

It's not unreasonable for me to expect to be hit a lot, but getting hit consistently is really where that leads, as high defenses are pretty tough to deal with. The other option is plan attacks that don't target armor, but that is limiting in a different way.

This is an area that the game doesn't handle well, and as a player, I need to just be better.

Monday, August 16, 2010

An in-depth analysis of the status condition: Daze

Daze. The player only gets one action of any type, excepting free actions, during their turn. They may not take any opportunity actions, including immediate interrupts and immediate reactions.

That seems like it sucks. The first experience with it sucked, that's for sure. I never took the time to really think about WHY it sucked though. Recently, I encountered being dazed again. This time though, I didn't even care. I was too busy bashing faces in and trying to complete the objective to really notice, honestly. That got me thinking, why was the first time so bad?

The answer is pretty simple, positioning. If you are in position already, daze doesn't matter. You don't spend movement most of the time, anyway, save for maybe a shift. If the enemy moves away from you, you can't smack them, but you can then charge them. That's not so bad. Ranged has similar concerns, coupled with a greater need to move, should an enemy decide to encounter them.

When daze is really awful is when something else makes it bad. A persistent zone, fantastic terrain, or movement due to some sort of trap or obstacle. It's also bad if you need your minors consistently. Leaders suffer the most from this, with defenders being right behind them. If the defender doesn't care about the punishing portion, depending on the defender, and they just want the mark, as was my particular case last session, it matters less.

So what do to with daze? Try not to use it while characters are taking damage from a zone or something, unless it's a take damage at the end of their turn zone. If that's the case, sure, no problem. Try not to plan it around stopping healing, or making healing the only thing a leader can do. It's not a great time. Use it at the beginning of combat, or on a surprise round, make movement and strategy a commodity early on, without locking down a class entirely. Daze melee. They can have the option of using charges or other basic abilities if need be. It impacts them a lot, but still less than others. Use daze to cover a retreat. It's a great way to make a bad guy into a villain.

So what's my opinion? I don't hate it as much as I used to hate it. It has a place, but hopefully we don't visit that place too often.