Ability Score Blues

Mate, you can build an entire party with 20s.

Cleric with a 20: battle or laser, either is fine.
Fighter with a 20: use a board, and you can tank. Marks are a credible threat rather than just a "hit me" sign.
Striker with a 20: archer or rogue, take your pick.
Wizard with a 20: self explanatory.

Go ahead and try to swarm.
That party will wipe out swarms with ease .. now, I counter your challenge.
Build any encounter, throw it against that party, and see how much more dangerous it is against your balanced party.

yes, that whole party sounds quite good with only 20s... if you pick battle cleric and rogue, i will pick ranged and flying...
if you pick striker or laser cleric, i need a bit more time and i need to see the full writeup...
maybe something that can teleport up to your wizard, the ranger or the laser cleric which, if not prepared for melee will go down pretty fast... maybe the cleric is the weakest part...
mix in something that can attack your fighters will defense and it could get funny...
also i would use brutes, not soldiers, because soldiers best weapon is their AC and Attack bonus, which is not so important if your chances to hit are too big...

maybe the best would be following challenge: you build a party of 4, i build a party of 4 with each role covered once (maybe a second striker may replace the controler) at level 1, 5, 9 and lets see how they will compare... (note: i will not hesitate to also put a 20 into an attribute if it is the logical thing to do...) i may use the full standard array/point buy.
You are restricted to using those with 18 in the prime stat for all characters... you may or may not take a race, that increases that 18 to a 20...
 

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Cadfan

First Post
This is getting ridiculous.

Having a 20 instead of an 18 is a difference of +1 on attack rolls and +1 on damage rolls. If you attack eight times over the course of a battle, there is a 66.342% chance that no attacks that would have been misses had you used an 18 will instead be hits because you used a 20.

And the maximum extra damage you can get if none of your attacks that would have been misses instead hit is +1 per hit. In an eight round combat, for most characters, that's going to be like +5. More if you use area of effect attacks, of course.

Now obviously hitting is better than missing, and doing more damage is better than doing less. But seriously now! Perspective is important!

If my choices are between +1 attack and damage, or all of the following: +1 to one defense, +2 to another, +1 hp, +1 healing surge, and +2 initiative, well, I'd have to really think about it. Because that's something you could buy with 7 ability score points. In fact, you might even be able to buy more, depending on class powers and feat choices.
 

Danceofmasks

First Post
I'll just go with some standard offence builds.
Leaving out skills and equipment, 'cos those should be pretty obvious.

Human Fighter (1-h) 20 10 13 8 13 10
bastard sword, blade opportunist
cleave, tide and iron, reaping strike, passing attack, villain's menace

Human Cleric 20 13 8 10 13 10
light shield, heavy shield
priest's shield, righteous brand, *wis based attack*, healing strike, avenging flame

Elf Ranger (archery) 10 20 11 10 16 8
bow focus
twin strike, nimble strike, fox's cunning, split the tree

Tiefling Wizard (staff) 8 13 10 20 13 12
leather
scorching burst, cloud of daggers, burning hands, flaming sphere, sleep
 

ProdigalTim

First Post
I'm rolling up an elf archery ranger, the small twist being our DM has decided to give us a 24 point stat array rather than the standard 22. That being the case, what would be more effective:

10 13 19 10 18 8 (I realize CHA is more valuable but I don't want to RP a dullard) and just raise the DEX at level 4, or

10 13 20 10 16 8?

I really like the idea of maximizing my + to hit, thinking about taking the crossbow proficiency that grants a +3 proficiency bonus, but is it worth giving up the secondary benefits like amount of squares one can shift and the like?

Relatedly, should I even the 13 CON off at level 4, or just leave it there until the paragon boost?
 

Grabuto138

First Post
yes, as is waiting for your first action while everybody has a higher initiative than you... you act last, you receive more pain... hidden enemies, because your perception skill is too low (aka low wisdom), ranged attackers... domination... (aka thangs that you only pumped your attacks, now your friends are hit much harder)...

there is the cumulative effect of beeing hit too often: daily powers may be needed just to save your ass, because of a status effect hitting you may force some of your fellows to waste daily utilities to rescu you...

also: as I and others said earlier: fail at charop is not necesseraly a good ting: usually it means: combats are no fun, because they are either too easy or TPKs...
there are often easy ways to counter "optimized" characters if they don´t use absolutely broken combos (aka using 3.5 splatbooks mindlessly - and maybe even then), as optimization means lacking at all tasks you didn´t "optimize". The most funny thing is usually you don´t have to think too long about countering such characters, it happens automatically when you vary encounters a bit as a DM...

just to counter the next argument: but the party is optimized as a whole... just bring up scenarios where characters can´t set up the battlefield perfectly... and don´t hesitate to exploit the single characters weaknesses...
often character only look optimized, because the DM is too merciful with "imbalanced" characters...

You make an important point. Due either to the vindictivness or cleverness of my DM I have found over-optimized characters to always be sub-optimal because enemy tactics and environmental limitations always interfere with a delicate set-up. In fact, probably my favorite 3e character was the 2e conversion fighter that pretty much spread his feats around to major in greatsword and minor in longbow.

In 4e, I have found a 16 to be be pretty frustrating in a primary stat but I am not sure if this is hangover from 3e or a real limitation. In general I think the ideal is an 18 in primary and 16 in secondary after racial adjustments though there are probably too many exceptions to make this a rule.
 

Danceofmasks

First Post
Though tempted to use stuff from AV, I'll just stick to PHB
Also, I'm going with the DMG higher-level character equipment thing and just assigning 3 items + cash.

5 - Human Fighter (1-h) 21 10 14 8 13 10
bastard sword, blade opportunist, shield push, heavy blade focus
cleave, tide and iron, reaping strike, passing attack, villain's menace, unstoppable, sweeping blow, rain of steel
+2 bastard sword, bashing shield, +1 black iron scale
purchased: +1 amulet, some potions

5 - Human Cleric 21 13 8 10 14 10
light shield, heavy shield, scale, bastard sword
priest's shield, righteous brand, *wis based attack*, healing strike, avenging flame, shield of faith, split the sky, weapon of the gods
+2 bastard sword, +1 terror bastard sword, +1 barkskin scale
purchased: +1 amulet, 2 rituals

5 - Elf Ranger (archery) 10 21 11 10 17 8
bow focus, elven precision, skill training thievery ('cos it's funny)
twin strike, nimble strike, fox's cunning, split the tree, crucial advice, disruptive strike, splintering shot
+2 longbow, +1 lightning dagger, everlasting provisions
purchased: +1 amulet, +1 hide

5 - Tiefling Wizard (staff) 8 13 10 21 14 12
leather, hellfire blood, jack of all trades
scorching burst, ray of frost (retrained), burning hands, flaming sphere*, sleep, shield*, expeditious retreat, fire shroud, fireball*, bigby's icy grasp
* usually prepped
+2 orb ('cos it looks cool), +1 staff of winter, +1 orb of sanguinary repercussions
purchased: +1 leather, +1 amulet
 

Danceofmasks

First Post
9 - Human Fighter (1-h) 22 10 15 8 13 10
bastard sword, blade opportunist, shield push, heavy blade focus, human perseverance, action surge
cleave, tide and iron, reaping strike, passing attack, villain's menace, unstoppable, rain of blows (retrained), rain of steel, unbreakable, come and get it, thicket of blades
equipment: should be obvious where I've been going with the build

9 - Human Cleric 22 14 8 10 14 10
light shield, heavy shield, scale, bastard sword, human perseverance, action surge
priest's shield, righteous brand, *wis based attack*, healing strike, avenging flame, shield of faith, split the sky, weapon of the gods, bastion of health, strengthen the faithful, divine power
equipment: ditto

9 - Elf Ranger (archery) 10 22 11 10 18 8
bow focus, elven precision, skill training thievery ('cos it's funny), precise hunter, light step
twin strike, nimble strike, fox's cunning, split the tree, crucial advice, disruptive strike, splintering shot, evade ambush, spikes of the manticore, attacks on the run
equipment: ditto

9 - Tiefling Wizard (staff) 8 13 10 22 15 12
leather, hellfire blood, jack of all trades, improved initiative (retrained at 7), ferocious rebuke (retrained at 9)
scorching burst, ray of frost (retrained), burning hands, flaming sphere*, sleep, shield*, expeditious retreat, fire shroud, fireball*, bigby's icy grasp, wall of fog*, levitate, winter's wrath, wall of fire*, mordenkainen's sword
* usually prepped
equipment: ditto

grr edit: forgot gear
 

I think that choice of a 20 or an 18 for the primary stat actually depends on which particular stat it is. Some stats just give more per point than others.

The best stat, Dex, gives Attack, Damage, Initiative, Reflex and AC.
Int gives the same minus Initiative. So for a class which uses either of them for a single primary stat - Rogue, Bow Ranger, Swordmage or Wizard, I think a 20 is a good choice.

At the other end, Cha just gives Attack, Damage and Will: I wouldn't go above 18.
 


You make a fair point, though paladins can compensate after buying that 20 cha by wearing plate+shield.

i do agree with both of you...

@dance of mask: you are really fast... i hope i have the characters ready this evening (in germany) i am still at work...

@ the best character is a versatile character:
yes and no, it really depends from which perspective you look at it: a versatile character shines, when optimized characters fail... usually this means you are always second best...

i must admit: my experience with 4th edition is still limited, but in 3rd edition best characters were usually SAD - characters which optimized, but didn´t overoptimize...
also you had 3 phases in this game:
1st - 2nd level: a good alpha strike is most important, or a very high AC
3rd - 8th level: a good defense is worthwile
9th level+ : the alpha strike gets important once again in party vs single monster fights, in big fight with lower level monsters defense is still important.
This resulted in an overoptimized archer evolving into a quite balanced archer/twf ranger/fighter... it was brilliant to see that evolution ;)
 

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