Is Ranged really better than Melee? - Page 8
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  1. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by clearstream View Post
    I think it is useful to have pillar archetypes in a system: they help define the space for viable strategies. The question that CEx SS poses for me is whether it was a design error, or a pillar? I believe many would agree that it was a frank mistake, but why?

    Perhaps for many groups, the melee character who discards defense to go all in with the heaviest weapon they can wield, fits their narrative in regard to repeatable massive damage to single-targets. So if that is the pillar, one really wants to see ranged doing less than that. The pillar for ranged could be the Archer Ranger, or the Agonizing Warlock. Maybe both.

    But... if the thesis is that ranged damage is equal to melee damage (i.e. ranged has no intrinsic advantage over melee), then clearly CEx SS could with as much justice take over that system pillar for repeatable massive damage to single-targets. It turns out not to be a design mistake, but a boundary. That would be its importance. For me, that causes dissonance: it sounds wrong. Therefore I think that contrary to the original thesis, it must be the case that ranged damage has some ratio advantage over melee.
    What I keep saying is that in general melee either has better defense or does more damage or both when compared with ranged. Melee has that advantage as well as the advantage where damage is more likely to be spread over more party members than concentrated on fewer. I propose that those advantages make melee greater than or equal to ranged.

    If melee was merely equal to ranged in terms of damage and defense then ranged MIGHT be better. I can at least see an argument there. However, even then it couldn't be that much better because melee still has the advantage of having damage taken on them spread around more. That advantage alone is very significant and very overlooked. Ultimately though, we aren't talking about ranged characters doing more damage and having more defense than melee characters, typically melee characters do more damage and have more defense than ranged ones.

    That said, given a ranged character played as described (trying to take advantage of kiting and avoiding hits altogether) and dealing the same damage with the same defenses then I think melee characters are still equal to or greater than ranged ones when it comes to team contributions. Throwing another body forward that can take some damage is often more important for the team than one avoiding being the target of all attacks (since that normally means their ally is taking those attacks).
    Last edited by FrogReaver; Friday, 9th November, 2018 at 02:04 AM.
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  2. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    One more thought (or set of thoughts) on this topic:

    When you choose to focus on melee, either as a tank or a damage-dealer, or some blend of both, you recognize that there are some pretty common situations where you are going to be useless.

    When you choose to focus on ranged damage, you also know there are going to be some situations where you are useless, but those situations are far less common. And while that could in theory be addressed by the DM, the solutions...because of the overly generous rules for ranged...feel much more contrived.

    With some tweaks to ranged rules (such as the ideas I offered earlier: that it's harder to hit moving targets at long range at your full attack speed, and that ranged attacks draw AoO's from enemies within reach) it would be more common, without contrivance, for ranged attackers to have to do something other than pewpew at full efficacy.
    No tweaks are needed. All you need to do is stop thinking about individual contributions and instead think about team dynamics. Spreading damage out over more of the team saves lives and that's what melee allows. Focus fire is also very useful and much easier to achieve with range. You want a good mix of range and melee in order to keep allies from being focused while being able to focus enemies.

    I'd say ideally you want at least half the party to be melee and at least a third to be ranged. You can take the best of both worlds with a few dual purpose characters. Ones that can shift from ranged combat to melee combat easily. The bow and 2 short sword style characters seem ideal for this.
    Last edited by FrogReaver; Friday, 9th November, 2018 at 02:30 AM.

  3. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    What I keep saying is that in general melee either has better defense or does more damage or both when compared with ranged. Melee has that advantage as well as the advantage where damage is more likely to be spread over more party members than concentrated on fewer. I propose that those advantages make melee greater than or equal to ranged.

    If melee was merely equal to ranged in terms of damage and defense then ranged MIGHT be better. I can at least see an argument there. However, even then it couldn't be that much better because melee still has the advantage of having damage taken on them spread around more. That advantage alone is very significant and very overlooked. Ultimately though, we aren't talking about ranged characters doing more damage and having more defense than melee characters, typically melee characters do more damage and have more defense than ranged ones.

    That said, given a ranged character played as described (trying to take advantage of kiting and avoiding hits altogether) and dealing the same damage with the same defenses then I think melee characters are still equal to or greater than ranged ones when it comes to team contributions. Throwing another body forward that can take some damage is often more important for the team than one avoiding being the target of all attacks (since that normally means their ally is taking those attacks).
    I think the problem here is that two completely different points are being argued.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    No tweaks are needed. All you need to do is stop thinking about individual contributions and instead think about team dynamics.
    I'm not thinking about individual contributions or team dynamics. I'm thinking about hard choices and trade-offs and puzzle solving. Or lack thereof, really.

    Spreading damage out over more of the team saves lives and that's what melee allows. Focus fire is also very useful and much easier to achieve with range. You want a good mix of range and melee in order to keep allies from being focused while being able to focus enemies.
    Look, everything you say would be equally true if ranged were doing twice as much damage as any melee. Which suggests to me that you're missing the point entirely.

    You seem to be making an argument about team optimization. Which is fine. Very @lewpuls of you. Some of us, though, are arguing something else. Call it "storytelling". Just like the melee fighter must gnash his teeth in frustration when an opponent is just out of reach, an archer should also have to sometimes...more often than currently...gnash his teeth in frustration. The problem right now is that archers don't suffer enough limitations. "No, I'm fine, thanks. I'll just stand back here where it's completely safe and continue to do my maximum damage each round." It's not that this isn't fair, or that it's poor strategy, or whatever. It's that it makes archery "uninterestingly good."

    I'd say ideally you want at least half the party to be melee and at least a third to be ranged. You can take the best of both worlds with a few dual purpose characters. Ones that can shift from ranged combat to melee combat easily. The bow and 2 short sword style characters seem ideal for this.
    Yeah, you are definitely missing the point.
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  4. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    Sure it wasn't them that won the fight by keeping the blame things off you?
    Now that I understand more why this conversation has been so strange, I had to return to this post.

    I brought up the example of my archer doing more than half the total damage in the purple worm fight not to brag about how cool I was, but to point out that he did all that damage just standing in the middle of a big room. It wasn't bad@$$, it was boring. My teammates were all getting swallowed (and regurgitated), stung with poison tails, and generally having to make interesting decisions and trying to save each other and having a ton of fun doing it.

    I just rolled the same handful of dice every turn. And with +2 from Archery Style I hit with every single arrow (I think 3-4 would have missed otherwise.)

    I was far enough away that it would have taken the worm 2 turns to reach me, even with Dash. During which I could have also Dashed. And would have.

    Yes, it was good party composition to have an effective archer. Yes, he needed melee to make it work.

    And it was just...dumb. Boring. Bad game design.

    There, I said it.

  5. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrogReaver View Post
    But ranged is only individually better. It isn't better for the group. It leads to fewer melee characters getting damage spread out between them which makes each melee character more likely to die.
    So with the topic of "Is Ranged really better than Melee?"

    - You agree that a solo ranged character is better than a solo melee character do to melee limitations
    - You agree that a Ranged only group is better than an Melee only group do to tactical advantages for ambush, spreading forces to make them harder to attack, action economy of being able to attack from the start of combat, and dealing with flying enemies. I will also agree that no one really makes groups of all melee or all ranged as a plan. Sure someone could and in that case ranged would be better but I have never seen it.

    Your only argument is party composition is better with more melee is better because they spread damage to increase survivability.

    I believe this CAN be true but is not always. For example, I am playing in 2 games right now, one as a Warlock eldritch blasting from range but we have to melee fighter sharing damage as you describe. The other I am playing a cleric in heavy armor with a shield and I stand right behind the party tank firing sacred flame or toll the dead. The cleric is ranged but also in the fight taking blows, dividing damage, and healing with cure wounds (I didn't even take healing word because this was my plan) and using shield of faith on myself. So I am ranged, I am not fighting melee almost at all, and I am spreading the melee damage without disadvantage because sacred flame and toll the dead are not "to hit" spells so I don't get disadvantage on attacks.

    So while I will agree the cleric is not the normal case, it is also completely a matter of party planning. So I agree party planning is important for many reasons but I don't think makes melee better or worse. I think that's simple a fact you would half to consider even in a ranged only party if that was a goal. I believe the solo, ranged only group, and importance of ranged characters in a mixed group clearly makes ranged a superior fighting style in D&D HOWEVER, that does not make them superior characters. My cleric is ranged and heavily armored but his role in the group is a healer and if I fail to heal the group then I will be considered to be playing poorly and in turn be the weakest character no matter my damage or how many blows I take. Just like in my group with where I play a warlock, I am the scout and when I fail to hit with ranged no one complains but when I fail so be a successful scout they are going to rib me. Our Tank in both parties is not measured on how much damage he does or how much damage he takes but if he stays on his feet and keep enemies attack him.... of course if he falls he blames the healer so that's coming back to me. lol

  6. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by clearstream View Post
    Hmm. Posting up values already produces a wall of text, and it is sometimes difficult to know where to strike the balance of what to include.
    Very good post but I think you nailed my point in your favor with the first sentence. I get using 100% hit is not accurate but adding accuracy becomes so situationally variable that that often it devolves topics into arbitrary argument that only matter to rare occasions at specific tables, which doesn't make less valid points but it does become a debate of diminishing returns that tends to forget the topic. As a result I appreciated the value and simplicity of 100% accuracy but recognize that it needs to be contextualized as being ironically inaccurate. (if you except the meaning of ironic to be in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this). Ultimately, that means both approaches have their place but it depends on the effort and intent of the poster which often mean you get the debate about which is better to use from people with different intent not qualifying that intent to each other.

    On topic. Ranged and Melee both have similar weapons with 1d6, 1d8, and 1d10 dice with the same 1-5 bonus to hit and damage and both have feats with -5 to hit for +10 damage. So I am not sure that "to hit" or damage be it average or max are normally distinctly different enough to matter. You can argue Greatsword vs a Hand crowsbow and a Heavy crossbow vs dagger but really its the classes that make those weapons matter for damage and to hit more than the weapons themselves. A monk with dagger, a rogue with a hand crossbow, a fighter with heavy crossbow, a barbarian with great sword etc.

    So if we are talking about range vs melee the tactical advantage of reach for defense and offense it what makes ranged better. When you start talking about party composition, enemies, and classes... your not talking about ranged vs melee any more your just jumping into scenario testing. I think the heart of @FrogReaver 's original post is under appreciation and general consideration of melee character's contributions to a group. That said, I generally don't care about melee vs ranged as a rogue as either is generally more important to the group as scout, a wizard as combat manipulator, and I really feel like when melee characters are under appreciated its not for the melee fighting style its more for a lack of out of combat utility which can often be fixed by the player finding a party role.

    Example, Grog on critical role was not just the Berserker Barbarian he was also the groups quartermaster and many of best moments of Critical Role that involved Grog were not his combat triumphs but when he made party members trade party goods in comical ways. Don't get me wrong he put down the damage at times and he struggled to be in the fight bring a melee weapon to a ranged fight but I feel like it was the out of combat role that really made the best moments. I see this in my group too and it does not just effect melee characters but also ranged those who forget non-combat roles and abilities. It is certainly more effort for melee characters to pick up non-combat utility then picking up a few utility spells or having utility abilities by default like the rogue and ranger. I see this most with Barbarians, Fighters, and monks. I have also see a few threads on this already.
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  7. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    Oh lord is this thread really devolving into a Battle of Pedants about military history?

    I guess most of them do.
    Your not wrong, so I am bowing out and returning to the topic. I had more to say but your point is fair and it was really becoming a different conversation and I was going to recommend that @WaterRabbit start another thread and we could pick up there but then I realized it is moved too far from D&D to even post here.

    So Elfcrusher, I am sorry for the side track and thanks for the tactful call out.

  8. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by smbakeresq View Post
    It does but the cover would have to be between you and who you are attacking so that means the target would have to be 10’ away, so only applies to reach weapons. Cover is different in melee as the weapon is always attached to you and you are in all parts of the 5’ square and it is assumed you are reaching and attacking from different angles.
    5e combat doesn't use squares except as a DMG optional rule.

    Common cases where I see cover in melee are (a) attacking around a corner and (b) attacking around a pillar or similar between the combatants. A doorframe can also provide cover. Three attackers vs one defender in doorway, I'd give cover bonus to the two attackers from either side of the doorway.

    I wouldn't give a cover bonus for a 3' high fence between standing humans, either melee or ranged, since legs are much less than 50% of a human body. I'd probably give a cover bonus for a 4' high wall though.
    Last edited by S'mon; Friday, 9th November, 2018 at 11:57 AM.

  9. #79
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    To get back to the OP; well only a melee combatant can use a shield, giving a +2 to +5 AC bonus which is very significant in 5e. Barbarians & Paladins only work in melee. Comparing Fighters, I'd guess a longbow Fighter is probably better than a greatweapon Fighter but I see more players with greatweapon Fighters so it can't be too crippling. In fact I don't think I've seen a DEX-based light armour longbow archer Fighter in dozens of PCs.

  10. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
    Yes, it was good party composition to have an effective archer. Yes, he needed melee to make it work.

    And it was just...dumb. Boring. Bad game design.

    There, I said it.
    I could understand the argument coming from 4e, as archers often had trick shots and powers. I would say from 3e you would suffer the same issue, as if the front line is doing their job, the archer does just sit back and wail away.
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