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More About Defending

Yesterday I wrote quite a bit of general thoughts on playing a defender, and today I thought I would add some specific examples to illustrate those points.

Before going into the examples it is important to understand that there are different environments you can be playing a character in and that those environments greatly affect the choices that will give you the most fun. If you are playing with your regular group, chances are everyone can figure something out and make it fun. If you are playing with strangers that are randomly assembled (say and RPGA event or play-by-post game) it is best to ensure that your character does its job, and does it well to be sure you have a fun game.

Example 1: Alek – Ensnaring Swordmage vs Adrie – Shiedling Swordmage

Together these two provide a lot of battlefield control, particularly of the position that enemies find themselves in, so much in fact that a party with both of them might well not need an actual controller. But alone they are very different characters, Adrie is in many ways the more effective defender – stopping 7 points of damage every round that an enemy doesn’t attack her, is (in my experience) far suprior to the repositioning on its own. This becomes more profound when powers like Transposing Lunge and Dimensional Warp (her level 7 encounter) let you prevent all of the damage an enemy does, and inflict damage at the same time! This is like the Ensnaring Swordmage Aegis but it stops damage!

So what ends up happening is that Alek’s -2 from his mark becomes the biggest threat to the enemy mostly, while Adrie is constantly able to get in the way of the enemies plans, causing her to be a more effective Defender.

Example 2: Beren – Two-Handed Specialst Fighter vs Samaius – Charisma Paladin
(Note Samaius is in the middle of a PbP encounter, hence his used powers and damage ;))

Beren works on 1 enemy at a time, and he does it by doing a lot of damage. Once marked by him ignoring the mark is usually very painful for the enemy. It makes a particularly nasty combination at low levels with his Obsidian Hound – attack the hound and get hit by Beren, attack Beren get hit by the hound! Still at level 4 he is on target with +11 to hit, and 10-20 points of damage with a melee basic means that he is definately outputting enough damage to make enemies keep their attention on him (but you need to watch out for Bugbear Stranglers!).

Samaius on the other hand works by trying to mark as many enemies as possible as often as possible and then punishing them for not attacking him. His Challenge/Sanction does 7 points of damage more than enough at level 1 to discourage enemies from ignoring him (it is around 1/4 of most level 2 monsters’ hit points), and with Valorous Smite, Majestic Halo, and Ardent Strike+Divine Challenge even at level 1 he can keep 2 enemies marked and threatened with damage on most rounds.

Where Beren is Defender/Striker Samaius is Defender/Leader. For both of them weapon choice and feat choices are key to supporting their secondary role, and neither of those choices are hampering their ability to effectively undertake their primary role, but may enhance their primary role. One buy saying hit me or get really hurt, the other saying hit me because not only will I hurt you I heal my buddies.

Example 3: Tomas – the Defender who is a Striker

Where the other characters are aimed at groups of strangers, and thus being able to really meet the requirements of your role are critical Tomas is an example of the things that are possible in a group where you are playing with all the same people and know the DM.

Between Divine Challenge, Virtuous Strike, and Call of Challenge Tomas can keep things marked for 3 or more rounds. Change the Salve of Power (originally so he could re-use Magestic Halo) for a few Pearls of Power to get multiple uses from Virtuous Strike in an encounter if needed and he gets those marks out just fine. This then combines with his Striker powers, and the fact he cannot be immobilised (at will teleport 5), and constant application of damage by teleporting and Tomas does lots of interesting things on the battlefield to allow him to meet the expectations of both roles. (The party he was in had no defender other than him, and he worked well in the defender role.)

Categories: Game Theory
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