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Dragon 382 - Controllers: Breaking the utility power paradigm

dbm

Adventurer
I've just read the Controller article from Dragon 382 and it seems to me that they have fundamentally broken the Utility power paradigm. As I understand it, the whole point of Utility powers were that they were a resource you couldn't spend on killing things. You could only use these powers to buff yourself / allies or provide creative options (e.g. movement powers, skill powers etc.). The reason behind this was to save players from theirselves, stopping them throwing all the other things out the window and simply focussing on out and out combat power.

This Dragon article has several feats which allow you to exchange one of your existing utility powers for a combat enhancing power. For example, one of the powers allow you to effectively add 'Brutal 2' to the attack power you are currently using.

OK, so the cost is quite high (Feat put Utility Power slot) but it seems to me that this kind of power will become mandatory for any combat min-maxer, especially given how weak most of the existing feats which add damage to spells are.

What do people think?

Cheers,
Dan
 

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Starfox

Adventurer
If there ever was a Utility Power Paradigm, it was broken already in PH1. Check out the Fighter utility powers - barely one per level is an actual utility, the rest are all combat.
 

Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
If there ever was a Utility Power Paradigm, it was broken already in PH1. Check out the Fighter utility powers - barely one per level is an actual utility, the rest are all combat.
Yup. I think the error started with not having an explicit non-combat power system. Utility Powers in a way are almost the last vestige (aside from feats, I suppose) in 4E where you still choose between combat and non-combat ability.
 


Stalker0

Legend
As far as I can see, utility powers have never been solely about out of combat power. These powers seem in the ballpark of normal utility powers.

Frankly, I don't even think the new utilities are that good. Considering they cost a feat, I think I'll stick with my badass wizard utilities.
 

Khur

Sympathy for the Devil
As far as I can see, utility powers have never been solely about out of combat power. These powers seem in the ballpark of normal utility powers.
This. Utility powers don't usually deal damage by themselves, but many of them are combat-oriented powers. The powers in the article are essentially self-buffs and along the lines of other similar powers.
 

MrMyth

First Post
I've just read the Controller article from Dragon 382 and it seems to me that they have fundamentally broken the Utility power paradigm. As I understand it, the whole point of Utility powers were that they were a resource you couldn't spend on killing things. You could only use these powers to buff yourself / allies or provide creative options (e.g. movement powers, skill powers etc.).

As others have mentioned, this has never been true. From the very first, Utility powers were primarily combat-relevant abilities, with many providing ways to help 'kill things'. Not all, of course - many were more indirect, and others could be relevant in or out of combat, and some few were entirely non-combat abilities. I like those, certainly, but I don't think the goal was ever for them all to be such - I think the plan was more to use Utility Powers as a catch-all for non-attack based effects. Buffs, movement, skill enhancements, power enhancements, etc. This article doesn't in any way change that paradigm.
 

LightPhoenix

First Post
As far as I can see, utility powers have never been solely about out of combat power. These powers seem in the ballpark of normal utility powers.

IMO, utility powers have never been about out of combat power. Sure, there were a few that hinged on skill challenges. However, the vast majority were designed to be used in combat situations. The only reason some of the utility powers are designed to last five minutes is to provide a simple answer to the desire to use them out of combat.

With regards to non-combat "powers", that is the realm of rituals and skills.

Frankly, I don't even think the new utilities are that good. Considering they cost a feat, I think I'll stick with my badass wizard utilities.
They're pretty awful for a Wizard, in fact. There's no way I would choose one of them over a Wizard utility. That said, Wizard utilities are pretty awesome. However, I have considered some of the Skill Utilities for a Wizard, so I think it's more these suck than the Wizard utilities are too good.
 
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Starfox

Adventurer
What WAS said early on was that there should be different silos for combat and non-combat capabilities in the game. So that everyone has a combat role and a non-combat role, and lack of combat ability should not be balanced with superior non-combat ability and vice versa. Frankly, I think that failed as well. Examples:

Fighters: 3 trained skills and very few noncombat utilities, balanced by superb combat abilities.

Bards: Superior non-combat utility and versatility (many skills, non-trained skill bonus, multiclassing to get discount on new skills) balanced by poor combat abilities even for a leader.

Utility Powers: As there are selections of either combat or noncombat utility powers, we clearly have a competition between combat and noncombat silos here - you have to give up one to become better atthe other.

Feats: the main source of noncombat skills, but shares the silo with so many combat-related must-haves that few people ever choose them.
 

Bards: Superior non-combat utility and versatility (many skills, non-trained skill bonus, multiclassing to get discount on new skills) balanced by poor combat abilities even for a leader.

*blink*

You're kidding, right? I'm playing a bard in my current game, and while he doesn't have a lot that he can do against multiple foes at once, when focused against a single foe at a time, he's ferociously effective in combat.
 

fuzzlewump

First Post
I also enjoy bards.

On another note, I feel like these feats are very obviously bad. I mean, I think I still wouldn't have taken them if they were just extra powers I didn't have to swap out anything for. If they were encounter powers and I didn't have to swap out anything, then I would think about it.
 

MrMyth

First Post
What WAS said early on was that there should be different silos for combat and non-combat capabilities in the game. So that everyone has a combat role and a non-combat role, and lack of combat ability should not be balanced with superior non-combat ability and vice versa. Frankly, I think that failed as well.

I pretty much entirely disagree. For one thing, I don't think the goal was to give every class identical combat and out-of-combat ability, but to instead ensure that everyone could contribute in both, generally in different ways. I.e., make every class both combat capable and non-combat capable. To that end, the Fighter might have only three trained skills, but that is still enough to pick up a good selection of abilities (Athletics for physical needs, Intimidate for social scenarios, and Heal, for example.) The Rogue might have twice as many skills, but that is a far cry from the last edition - when an Int 8 Fighter might have one relevant skill to the dozen a Rogue could be good at. The Rogue might still have an 'edge' in terms of out-of-combat ability, but hardly one that puts him on a different playing field from the fighter.

And in terms of combat ability, I don't think any class is truly behind. Some can be optimized in different ways, but every class is pretty combat capable, bard included.

As for feats, the key thing is that each feat is a small enough element that you can easily afford to give up +1 damage in order to get a new trained skill. There are a few obnoxiously strong combat feats, like Expertise, that mess with this paradigm - but they are the exception, not the norm.
 

Rechan

Adventurer
*blink*

You're kidding, right? I'm playing a bard in my current game, and while he doesn't have a lot that he can do against multiple foes at once, when focused against a single foe at a time, he's ferociously effective in combat.
Agreed, the Bard kicks major ass. I've seen three in play so far (two of which I've played myself), and they work in combat.

I mean hell, Melee bards can turn the solo monster into an encounter-long pinata of free HP for anyone who hits it.
 

Marshall

First Post
Yours too? Mine routinely out does the strikers and sometimes even plays defender in pinch. Throwing out heals is almost better aggro than a mark.
 



Starfox

Adventurer
As I said, I play the Wis build (which I think sucks), and I still do smashingly.

The Int-based build was just awesome, when I played it.

Interesting to hear - not my experience at all. Here we feel the class/role ranking is basically

Fighter > Striker > Defender > Everyone else.
 


Klaus

First Post
*blink*

You're kidding, right? I'm playing a bard in my current game, and while he doesn't have a lot that he can do against multiple foes at once, when focused against a single foe at a time, he's ferociously effective in combat.
Indeed, the Valorous Bard is a better warlord than the Warlord. Add in a multitude of combat-related multiclass feats and you're gold!

BTW, I statted Aragorn as a Bard, and it fit him perfectly.

Back on-topic: now that we have an article explaining what a controller does, anyone got ways for a martial controller to work?
 

Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
Indeed, the Valorous Bard is a better warlord than the Warlord. Add in a multitude of combat-related multiclass feats and you're gold!

BTW, I statted Aragorn as a Bard, and it fit him perfectly.

Back on-topic: now that we have an article explaining what a controller does, anyone got ways for a martial controller to work?
The challenge remains:
- how to justify area attacks?
- how to manipulate/"control" enemies at range?
Archery and/or high speed might be the right tools, but does it still feel "martial" if you try to make an entire controller class, with zones, effects and all that...
 

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