Ability Score Blues

Rechan

Adventurer
I've been making a few characters lately, and find myself a bit frustrating.

Any class that is attacking defenses, it feels as though I got to have an 18 in the primary stat, because throwing around a +3 vs. Ref or Fort just ain't going to do it. And if you're using point buy, this necessitates picking a race with a + in that stat. Otherwise, your defenses are going to take a hit.

For instance, I made a warforged Swordmage (+2 Str & Con), but that meant a 16 had to go into int, and as I looked at it, hitting the defenses were going to be much harder. Meanwhile, the Genasi (+2 Str and Int) was just better, period. But I was interested in focusing on CON and INT, not STR. (Oh, to have a race with +2 Con and Int...)

Anyone else feel a little strapped?

Another thing I've noticed. I use the standard array, and so I find myself plugging the 14 into the stat with the +2, and the 16 in the other, so it's an even +3 for primary and secondary. Anyone else falling into this habit?
 

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DracoSuave

First Post
I've been making a few characters lately, and find myself a bit frustrating.

Any class that is attacking defenses, it feels as though I got to have an 18 in the primary stat, because throwing around a +3 vs. Ref or Fort just ain't going to do it. And if you're using point buy, this necessitates picking a race with a + in that stat. Otherwise, your defenses are going to take a hit.

For instance, I made a warforged Swordmage (+2 Str & Con), but that meant a 16 had to go into int, and as I looked at it, hitting the defenses were going to be much harder. Meanwhile, the Genasi (+2 Str and Int) was just better, period. But I was interested in focusing on CON and INT, not STR. (Oh, to have a race with +2 Con and Int...)

Anyone else feel a little strapped?

Another thing I've noticed. I use the standard array, and so I find myself plugging the 14 into the stat with the +2, and the 16 in the other, so it's an even +3 for primary and secondary. Anyone else falling into this habit?

Con doesn't need to be as high as Int in order to be effective, however. At most, you'll garner yourself an extra point off Aegis, and an extra point of damage, but it's not the multiplicative effect that it would have in your primary stat. It really ends up being a drop in the bucket, whereas attack rolls are much more important in the long term for boosting your effectiveness at doing anything that includes an enemy. Int/Con would be a good thing in a race, but it's not a game-ender, and you can have a very decent Con-based swordmage based off of Eladrin, Tiefling, or Genasi.

Look at the powers you want that aren't named Aegis and determine if Constitution really buffs those, or if you're better off with a more balanced build to open up the elemental feats that work with all your powers. Go with a theme first, then figure out the attributes. Looking at Aegis and then stopping is -not- the optimal way to build a swordmage, there's a lot more going on there than 'Str' and 'Con' build.
 

Brig

First Post
On average you should need between 8-12 to hit things and with a +3 vs DEF at first level you generally hit on ten. I believe all of the creatures between 1st and 3rd level average their DEF around 13. So it seems a 16 should be fine.
 


kouk

First Post
Well, use Point Buy and you can still swing an 18 even with a race that isn't known for their brains/brawn whatever.

As long as one of your racially-boosted ability scores is at least secondary, you shouldn't be too bad off at all.

People also have been known to use weapons with different proficiency bonuses. If every single character in the world absolutely had to have an extra +1 to attack, you wouldn't see much use for hammers, axes, or scimitars at all.

You can easily get that "extra" +1 with weapon choice with a typical character (though not many options with Swordmage in particular because almost all their things have +3 already), and if you're using the Adventurers Vault, upgrading a magic item's enhancement is doable -- so put more of your funds toward that and make sure your weapons/implements are always topped off for the level you are able to make.

Maybe you just have to pay a bit more attention to Flanking and such, or gain assistance from your party in the form of enemy Defense penalties or boosts to your own attack bonus (not uncommon effects).

Of course, a DM can also be helpful by keeping your primary weapon upgraded by dropping loot every few levels for you.
 

Baumi

Adventurer
You are usually equal or better of with your attacks against Defenses than against Ac with the proficiency.

While the proficiency gives you +2 or +3 to you attack the AC is also a few points higher than the defenses so it should be the same. But if you attack Defenses than you should try to get powers that attack different ones since you can then choose the weakness better and avoid strong defenses like Fort on a Brute.

But still you should always aim for a 16+ in your attack stat since you will roll on that quite often.
 

actually having your defenses higher at the cost of +1 off your primary attribute is a fair trade...

usually you try to attack the lower defenses of monsters, so +1 off your primary defense is ok...

it is not like you need a 18/00 in this edition... it is only much more obvious that it has an effect on everything you do.

Also when you generally need a 10 - 15 to hit, a +1 bonus is not that important (remember the debates about weapon focus beeing usefull) and in 3.5 where it could happen that you only hit on a 19 or 20, that +1 bonus is much more important... really... i won´t do the math again, because it confuses so many of the readers...
 

Rashak Mani

First Post
I agree with the OP. In 3.X and before having a 10 DEX meant lousy AC. Now you can compensate with good INT. You can get away better with lousy secondary/terciary stats in 4E than in 3.X, if you can pick one of each pair of attributes that increase defenses. The temptation to sacrifice other stats to pump the primary one (ones) is very strong. Since the primary determines attack and damage even more so.

Shield wielding fighters can get some reflex without even having INT or DEX if they want to. Initiative might suck... but overall they won't necessarily have a huge weakness with 08 INT and 10 DEX.
 

Cadfan

First Post
My rules of thumb are:

1. Have an 18 in your attack stat
2. Unless you are wielding a +3 proficiency weapon, or are a Fighter, or both, in which case a 16 will do if it absolutely must.
3. You can afford to just plain buy an 18 in your attack stat, if and only if your racial bonuses are going to important stats.

If you're buying an 18, you can get stats that look like 18/13/12/10/10/8 before racial modifiers. So if you're a warforged assault swordmage, you could have, after racial modifiers, 15/12/8/18/10/10, or something thereabout.

A genasi, by contrast, is going to have slightly better stats. After racial modifiers he might have 16/13/10/19/12/8. Now, sure, that's better. But its not so much better that I'd throw in the towel.

While its true that certain race/class combinations are just plain better than others, its also true that the difference is usually pretty small in terms of the game's actual math. So don't let it dissuade you from what you want to do.
 


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