Does the swordmage marking power suck?

Zaran

Adventurer
Ok, I'm running a game with swordmage. It was brought up that the swordmage's interrupt attack only triggers when their marked target hits a target other than the swordmage.

I have a player who thinks that this ability is no where near as good as other defender interrupt powers. He states that with other defenders allies can provoke oppurtunity attacks just so the defender can get in a free strike because the monster will usually jump at the oppurtunity for a free attack. He says that because the swordmage's mark has to hit that it's not worth pulling this tactic.

I believe that while the stated tactic isn't useful, the fact that the swordmage can basically do a fire-and-forget tactic (marking a foe and moving on to another until that marked foe hits an ally) is still useful.

What I am asking from you guys is this: Have you found this ability to be lacking in practice? Are there any tactics that you take advantage of that make up for the reduced usefulness of the interrupt part of their ability?

I've been trying to keep this generic to all 3 builds but the swordmage in the group is of the Aegis of Assault variety.
 

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Flipguarder

First Post
the mark is good because in addition to hitting the target you get to teleport a good distance as an interrupt. Correct use of Aegis will result in your swordmage being wherever they need to be.

In addition to this, the swordmage already does a substantial amount of damage with it's powers.

the swordmage in my party does stupidly powerful things with his melee basic attack.
 

mneme

Explorer
The question is incorrect. The Aegis of Assault and Aegis of Ensnaring both trigger "when the marked target makes an attack that does not include you as a target". Neither (unlike Aegis of Shielding, but Aegis of Sheilding has its own advantages) require that the marked target hit in order to do its thing.

Edit: wow, I just couldn't see the "if it hits" in the compendium. Weird.

Regardless, while the Swordmage mark has a few disadvantages (short range is a big problem; you should be able to increase the range more easily, plus they need to hit), it's also the hardest mark to avoid by far, as you can't necessarily attack the swordmage (who is off on another portion of the battlefield), it doesn't need to be maintained every round, and you can't avoid the mark by just running away.

So I'd say the assault swordmage is the -most- likely defender to get to make punishing attacks rather than have her class feature mostly serve to make the monsters attack her.
 
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Holy Bovine

First Post
Ok, I'm running a game with swordmage. It was brought up that the swordmage's interrupt attack only triggers when their marked target hits a target other than the swordmage.

I have a player who thinks that this ability is no where near as good as other defender interrupt powers. He states that with other defenders allies can provoke oppurtunity attacks just so the defender can get in a free strike because the monster will usually jump at the oppurtunity for a free attack. He says that because the swordmage's mark has to hit that it's not worth pulling this tactic.

I believe that while the stated tactic isn't useful, the fact that the swordmage can basically do a fire-and-forget tactic (marking a foe and moving on to another until that marked foe hits an ally) is still useful.

What I am asking from you guys is this: Have you found this ability to be lacking in practice? Are there any tactics that you take advantage of that make up for the reduced usefulness of the interrupt part of their ability?

I've been trying to keep this generic to all 3 builds but the swordmage in the group is of the Aegis of Assault variety.

I couldn't disagree more with your player if I had an electronic disagreeing machine. The swordmage player in my group continually gets his free attack as he is usually 5-6 squares away from whoever he marks. The marked foe (99% of the time the biggest, baddest dude the party is fighting) has no choice but to attack someone else and, being the main bad guy of the encounter, almost always hits. Even if he doesn't the SM is off harassing controllers & artillery at the back of the enemy group and the main bad guy still has that -2 to hit (it is fun to note that, ime, when the bad guy misses it is often by just 1 or 2 points). The player I have is really 'into' the swordmage class and seems to have a fantastic grasp of its tactics and abilities. The fact the PC is so effective and only has 1 arm (yup - he lost an arm by choice when his dragonmark went haywire several months ago) is either a testament to the greatness of the class or the player or both.
 

Prestidigitalis

First Post
Speaking generically, there are three disadvantages to the Swordmage mark.

1. Very short range (2 squares)
2. Minor action to mark
3. Immediate action to use

No other defender mark carries all that baggage. Compared to those restrictions, the problem you describe doesn't bother me so much. In the case of the Shielding Swordmage, there really is no additional problem.

Actually, there is *one* problem, which is that I keep forgetting to remind my DM of the -2 penalty for the mark. Swordmage is definitely a "pay attention even when it isn't your turn" class.
 

Zaran

Adventurer
The question is incorrect. The Aegis of Assault and Aegis of Ensnaring both trigger "when the marked target makes an attack that does not include you as a target". Neither (unlike Aegis of Shielding, but Aegis of Sheilding has its own advantages) require that the marked target hit in order to do its thing.

I've read the power twice, once just this weekend on the compendium. It says the marked foe has to hit.

Effect: You mark the target. The target remains marked until you use this power against another target. If you mark other creatures using other powers, the target is still marked. A creature can be subject to only one mark at a time. A new mark supersedes a mark that was already in place.
If your marked target makes an attack that doesn’t include you as a target, it takes a –2 penalty to attack rolls. If that attack hits and the marked target is within 10 squares of you, you can use an immediate reaction to teleport to a square adjacent to the target and make a melee basic attack against it. If no unoccupied space exists adjacent to the target, you can’t use this immediate reaction.
 

fba827

Adventurer
My group has seen three swordmages (all shielding) in various parties over the life of my current gaming group. They'd seem to get in their marking bonus maybe every other round on average.

The fire and forget marking that you mention is the key - the primary tactic was usually: mark an enemy, move, then attack another enemy somewhat near by. In essence, he was covering two enemies at once (one by proximity as a threat the other by mark).

Whereas a fighter or warden or paladin had to usually engage/be near their marked target to have full effect from their marking - the swordmage has freedom of movement.

Besides, the swordmage has lots of other benefits that the other defenders don't have - stuff like variety of damage types (helps with vulnerable/resistances), teleport type actions, bursts, blasts, light armor, and so on - these are things not common among other defenders.

While my personal opinion will mean nothing to your own playgroup, of all the defenders, the swordmage is by far my favorite.
 
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BlackSeven

First Post
I've found Swordmage to be, with the Aegis of Assault and Ensnaring, work much the same as every other defender. They have an interrupt when an enemy is attacked, with better range in many cases. For all defender classes but Paladin (who must be threatening the target at the end of their turn in order for it to stick), it is an immediate action, be it interrupt or reaction.

Where Swordmage is actually better than the others is with the Aegis of Shielding. In this way, the Swordmage is the truest of the defenders, the only defender ability where they actually prevent damage to an ally beyond the -2 penalty to the attack roll or getting lucky and dropping the enemy beforehand. From across the battlefield, they lower the damage of their marked target directly. No other class does this.

For the Assault and Ensnaring, the key to using the ability is to mark the target and the ditch them, forcing them to pursue you or trigger the ability. Marking and staying next to them just isn't as effective.
 

Obryn

Hero
IME, Shielding Swordmages are almost ridiculously good defenders. The Aegis of Shielding is basically the meanest thing you can do to a monster that doesn't require attack rolls or saving throws.

Assault Swordmages are a lot like crazy Fighters. The mark is very similar - except the swordmage can't control movement, but can teleport from 10 squares away, often into flanking.

Ensnaring, I'm still unsure about. I can't picture the tactics yet.

Anyway, if your swordmage is standing next to the target of his mark, he's doing it wrong. Their main perk is defending from a distance.

-O
 


bganon

Explorer
Also, I don't think it's fair to compare the mark-related class features alone. Fighters have great mark features, but I can't recall many powers that specifically interact with their marking. Swordmages, on the other hand, pretty much always have the option of taking an encounter attack that enhances their mark-related feature. Things like Transposing Lunge can make a swordmage's mark much more effective.
 

korjik

First Post
Speaking generically, there are three disadvantages to the Swordmage mark.

1. Very short range (2 squares)
2. Minor action to mark
3. Immediate action to use

No other defender mark carries all that baggage. Compared to those restrictions, the problem you describe doesn't bother me so much. In the case of the Shielding Swordmage, there really is no additional problem.

Actually, there is *one* problem, which is that I keep forgetting to remind my DM of the -2 penalty for the mark. Swordmage is definitely a "pay attention even when it isn't your turn" class.

This pretty much sums up the problems I have that cause this thread. Swordmage marking works quite a bit differently than the marking abilities of any of the other defenders. The 'on a hit' and the 'until used on another' are the biggest differences. It is the only permanent mark, and the only one that trips on hit instead of on attack.

I did point out that SM are good at harassing arty/controllers/bosses from a distance. It just seems to me that it is a bit off on how the mark works. At only close 2, you have to get pretty close to use it in the first place, and it seems to me that you could end up stuck near the marked guy quite easily, making harassment at range irrelevant.

Then there is the fact that teleporting next to someone in the back of the monsters could be a really good way to end up surrounded and hacked to bits. Avoidable if you are clever, but lethal if you are not.

I also thing that the *one* problem is prolly the biggest. When DMing, I dont remember the marks, and when playing, most of the time the players dont remember the -2 either. That is probably the first thing that needs to be adressed. :)
 

Klaus

First Post
The strength of the Swordmage's mark lies in the fact that you don't have to attack or engage its target to keep the mark. You can mark a target and then go and engage someone else for the rest of the encounter, knowing that anyone the target attacks has an effective +2 to all defenses. The fact that you can choose to teleport next to the target (or teleport the target to you) is a bonus. In essence, the Swordmage is a defender that doesn't get tied down.

The Fighter requires no action to mark, but the mark goes away if the target isn't attacked every round. Triggers an immediate action attack.

The Paladin requires a minor action, but must be adjacent to the target or attack it, or the mark goes away. Triggers damage (no action).

The Warden requires a minor action, has multiple targets and a couple of powers to enforce the mark.
 

icedrake

Explorer
...the swordmage mark is rather amazing compared to the other classes. Mind you, I haven't played a warden or looked at it much, as my preference is clearly for the swordmage.

Firstly, the shielding mark is by far the strongest of the bunch. You sit back attacking other foes while the primary marked target just has his damage shut down unless its a striker.

The assault power is best when you have a second defender who can serve as the primary tank. You can mark a target that harasses your other party members, run off to hit some other guys then come back and smash the marked target.

Ensarement is something that has potentual, but I haven't played it yet.

Look at it this way, the fighter doesn't move at all. If his marked target isn't near him, he can't use it. Swordmage? Doesn't matter where the target is. I mean the cheese with Swordburst in the paragon tier with Polearm Gambit and Heavy Blade Opportunist is crazy good... add in mark of storm and energy admixture and rushing cleets, its just silly.
 

Zaran

Adventurer
The Warden requires a minor action, has multiple targets and a couple of powers to enforce the mark.

According to the compendium, Nature's Wrath is a free action. So they can mark multiple opponents and attack one of them with a str vs fort attack when they attack an ally. It sounds like the warden's marking ability is alot better than even the fighters ability.
 

DracoSuave

First Post
The thing to remember, most of the time that attack's likely gonna be a melee attack, which means it's VERY likely you'll then blink into a flanking position, giving you combat advantage, often with an encounter power that has multiple effects.

Not to mention, every time they trigger it, there's an escalating increase in the chance it hits if you take the right feat.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
What I've noticed is that the three people I know who have played defenders spend a lot of time complaining about other defenders.

A fighter, a warden, and a swordmage, all played at different times, and each of them gripes when the marks of the other classes don't work like the marks of the character that they first learned how to use.
 

Sanzuo

First Post
It sounds like the warden's marking ability is alot better than even the fighters ability.

Yes and no. Wardens are great for marking a whole crapload of guys, and while they are great for giving enemies a lot of incentives for not attacking the warden's allies, only the fighter is the best at actually preventing the enemy from doing so.

I still think that fighters are the best defenders in that they keep enemies OFF of their allies.

Wardens are the best defenders because they get in the way and are effing hard to kill.

Paladins are the best defenders because of Certain Justice. (Please god nerf this power.)

Swordmages are the best defenders because of ??????

Actually I don't know if swordmages suck or if I just suck at swordmages. The one assault swordmage I built was a terrible defender. In the game I was playing monsters just attacked whoever they felt like, mark or no. When they did go for my swordmage he really didn't have the resilience to stand up to a focused attack. That guy went down a lot.

Since I built my warden however, I'm unstoppable and my allies are thanking me for it.
 

DracoSuave

First Post
well, to be fair, the Assault Swordmage is like the Two-hander fighter, or the Ardent pally... it's not about stopping attacks, but dealing damage for them. But, as for squishiness... there's no reason for you not to take toughness, durable, and such defensive feats. Your AC is plate-worthy (without disadvantage), and you have hps the same as any other defender except Warden. Assault's just not the 'stop attack' defender, but the 'punish attack' defender.
 

Nifft

Penguin Herder
IME, Shielding Swordmages are almost ridiculously good defenders. The Aegis of Shielding is basically the meanest thing you can do to a monster that doesn't require attack rolls or saving throws.

Assault Swordmages are a lot like crazy Fighters. The mark is very similar - except the swordmage can't control movement, but can teleport from 10 squares away, often into flanking.

Ensnaring, I'm still unsure about. I can't picture the tactics yet.

Anyway, if your swordmage is standing next to the target of his mark, he's doing it wrong. Their main perk is defending from a distance.
These words echo my own thoughts on the subject.

A Fighter can control most normal movement very well, but can be utterly screwed by a foe who can teleport, or who can be moved by one of his allies. Swordmagi laugh at such tricks.

IMHO the strongest Swordmage is the Shielding version, who marks one nasty dude and then runs away, leaving that dude with a hugely painful debuff -- or the option of eating OAs from the rest of the party while charging the Swordmage. This is a good illustration of the well-played Defender: giving his foe two options, both of which suck.

Cheers, -- N
 

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