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D&D 5E Is it better to prevent or inflict damage? (psi warrior, battle master, others)

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
So let's start off examining the situation where the party is at full hp and resources and an ally gets hit. You are either going to choose to prevent that damage now or deal more damage to the enemy next turn. The assumption for this scenario is that all you care about is efficiency.

You need to know or estimate your chance that 1d8+int damage would make a difference in killing the enemy a round earlier. Labeling this A
You need to know or estimate the chance the enemy hits again before it dies. Labeling this B
You need to know the damage the enemy does on a hit. Labeling this C

If Min(1d8+int, C) > A*B*C. A typical scenario might have B = 60%. C = 20 Average Damage. Then for this scenario if Min(1d8+int, C)/12 > A the damage prevention is better. In short your chance that 1d8+int damage makes a difference in killing the enemy a round earlier has to be very high OR the monsters DPR has to be very high before we ever approach the territory where it might be more resource efficient to do the damage over the damage prevention.
 

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Horwath

Hero
You win battles by killing faster, not dying slower.

That said, if your heal on a downed ally will cause your party to deal more damage as that ally is better damage dealer/controler then you should heal.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
One other thing, the extra damage from Telekinetic Strike triggers a second concentration check - so that may have special value in some cases.

Really, though, if the party Bard isn't already handing out BI like candy, you should be conserving Psi Dice - because you aren't getting them all back with a short rest. If you are the only character burning LR resources (aside from hit points) in a given encounter, that's a mistake.

Far better to burn at a similar rate across the board, at least for LR resources, than to run out first and be the one that is the drag on rests. Not that I've seen that many full casters tap out after level 7-8 or so in a long time.
 


Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
One other thing, the extra damage from Telekinetic Strike triggers a second concentration check - so that may have special value in some cases.

Really, though, if the party Bard isn't already handing out BI like candy, you should be conserving Psi Dice - because you aren't getting them all back with a short rest. If you are the only character burning LR resources (aside from hit points) in a given encounter, that's a mistake.

Far better to burn at a similar rate across the board, at least for LR resources, than to run out first and be the one that is the drag on rests. Not that I've seen that many full casters tap out after level 7-8 or so in a long time.
The extra damage from telekinetic strike is a bit strange - it isn't affected by critical hits (boo) but as you say, may need double concentration checks - I'm going to have to talk to my GM on how we will handle it.

Party bard - you can't assume a party has a bard... the majority of games I've played in have not had a bard actually.

The LR vs SR aspect is interesting, and you are right that burning out all your stuff is a concern. However, the fighter is a "short rest class", so after a short rest I do regain a preeeety significant suit of powers (action surge etc), and I also can regain one Psi point, so the character wouldn't be 100% depleted... so in a way the psi warrior is more "balanced" in a SR vs LR regard...
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
You win battles by killing the enemy before you are killed (both damage and damage mitigation matter here). The rest is just a matter of efficiency.
weeeeellllll

You could build a party around defense, where every PC has strong defenses and defensive abilities that protect themselves and other party members... and it would make battles take forever. long, drawn out slugfests aren't necessarily fun.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
However, the fighter is a "short rest class", so after a short rest I do regain a preeeety significant suit of powers (action surge etc), and I also can regain one Psi point, so the character wouldn't be 100% depleted... so in a way the psi warrior is more "balanced" in a SR vs LR regard...

It won't feel that way; one psi die isn't that much and if all you get from a SR is that action surge and second wind, it may be difficult to even talk the party in to taking one.

Psi die are a long rest resource and the pool is ultimately very small - you have to adjust your burn rate to match the rest of the party's long rest resources.
 

Campbell

Legend
I think it's very specific to the class. I'm currently playing a level 15 githyanki psi warrior in a long term game with the Two Handed fighting style and the Great Weapon Master feat. At this level the damage portion of psychic strike is not super significant. What tends to be more significant is the knockdown effect which paired with Action Surge let's me really push damage. Also it's a resource that can only be used offensively once a turn so in bigger fights you tend to use both offensive and defensive uses. In less important fights I tend to be fairly stingy (no more than 3 uses favoring offense and using the party wide AC buff usually).
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I think it's very specific to the class. I'm currently playing a level 15 githyanki psi warrior in a long term game with the Two Handed fighting style and the Great Weapon Master feat. At this level the damage portion of psychic strike is not super significant. What tends to be more significant is the knockdown effect which paired with Action Surge let's me really push damage. Also it's a resource that can only be used offensively once a turn so in bigger fights you tend to use both offensive and defensive uses. In less important fights I tend to be fairly stingy (no more than 3 uses favoring offense and using the party wide AC buff usually).
I'm pretty sure that we won't reach level 15 (the campaign is projected to be level 5-10) but that level 15 power is really good.

... so are the level 7 and level 10 powers really, now that I think of it. Definitely not a front-loaded subclass.

You may be amused to learn that my character is a human scholar who learned the ancient arts of Gith swordsmanship by translating an ancient text.
 

ECMO3

Explorer
Hello

There are a number of classes that can spend a resource to inflict damage, or spend the same resource to prevent damage. A very clear example of this is the Psi Warrior, who can use a resource (psi dice) to either hit harder or shield someone from damage. There are several other classes with this dilema (the battle master can use a maneuver dice to parry for example), but the psi warrior has a very direct equivalence - spend a psi die to do/prevent 1d8+int bonus damage, so I'm going to use this one since it's so clear.

If the damage prevention can stop someone from going down, that is a very good use of the psi point.... but you could also make the example of making more damage that is sufficient to take down a foe. So it's unclear to me if one is clearly better than the other, or if it's situational, or roughly equivalent.
It depends on how much you can inflict and how much you can stop.

If you can flat prevent almost all hits/damage completely (like a bladesinger with protection from good and evil or blur up), then defense is generally better as you can usually wear down your enemy over time.

If you are talking about taking half damage or less (like the example you gave or the rogue ability) but you are still taking a significant amount then dealing damage is better as you can generally overwhelm your enemy on action economy.

Obviously the specific enemy, the specific type of damage, the enemies hit poits, your hit points, all alter this calculus.
 



FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
weeeeellllll

You could build a party around defense, where every PC has strong defenses and defensive abilities that protect themselves and other party members... and it would make battles take forever. long, drawn out slugfests aren't necessarily fun.
Fun doesn’t factor into which is mechanically better which is what your OP asked...
 

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