log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General Reducing incoming damage: +1 =/= +5%

clearstream

(He, Him)
The enemies can do what is most beneficial for them unless you force them not to. If you have a pc built with really high defenses they can ignore him. If you have a ox with slightly above average defenses they can swarm him.
Yes, I agree, that's what the methods I outlined deal with. Foe is assumed to do the best thing for themselves. If that is attack the tank, then they are making less optimal attacks. If it is ignore the tank, then they are either or both of - giving the party an additional attack, and giving up an attack of their own in order to close.

For sure you have to assume that intelligent foes, experienced in combat and whose lives depend on it, are doing the best thing. One has some control over what options are available. Remember that I am not arguing for slightly-better-than-average defenses. I am arguing for markedly-better-than-average defenses. Plate + defense at minimum. Or the tank is a battle master (menacing, trip, brace etc) and also carries a shield. Or an EK with shield and shield.

The question might be reframed as - given an average party of four, is it better to have zero tanks or some number of tanks? In my experience, parties with a small, non-zero number of tanks do extremely well. Parties with all archers can be very powerful, but can also find themselves suddenly dead.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

clearstream

(He, Him)
This wasn't about directly preventing attacks. It was about getting enemies to attack a high AC target so that the AC could prevent more attacks. The problem is you can only force/incentivize a fairly limited number of attacks your way and even when you do there's only a smallish chance the higher AC makes a difference in outcome. As in you probably need to direct at least 4 if not 10 attacks to you before your AC prevents 1 additional attack. Spending those same resources on offense has a good chance of causing that 1 attack reduction by killing at least 1 enemy a round earlier.
As you say, we must assume foe does what is best for them. We can't make them attack the tank, but we can use the tank to create a problem for them. Giving up free attacks to a PAM paladin, a GWM barbarian, or a battle master with suitable maneuvers, in order to avoid focusing them, is what must be anticipated.

Now you are making very specific assumptions.
You asked for an example, so I aimed to make that concrete. The specifics are honestly not too important: there are numerous approaches to gaining tempo. I indicated some to illustrate the general strategy.

IMO clerics make one of the best tanks. High AC. Spirit Guardians does a great job of helping keep potentially multiple enemies from allies. Also, it gives a strong incentive for clerics to be attacked (to end spirit guardian concentration). Plenty of resources to spend on negating attacks via healing.
Definitely. Life clerics get heavy armor. Their efficient healing is another approach to punishing a foe who refuses to attack the tank.

I'd posit that it's usually control spells are what's really doing this, not the tank.
It's the combination. The control spells matter because each time a foe enters or leaves PAM's reach for the first time in a round, they give the party some tempo. If no PC can close, the control spells become inefficient. When fear wears off, the foe attacks and now the wizard has one fewer spell slots. If the players would commit to all-warlock or all-CEX/SS fighters, they could probably find combinations more optimal. But generally - working together - three archers and a tank is flexible and strong.
 

Argyle King

Legend
Enemies have movement they can spend before attacking. 1 square is not enough to keep them from attack you this turn. So your assumption isn't about being more than 1 square away, it's about all ranged PC's being more squares away than their movement distance when it's their turn. That's a big assumption.

This is no different than saying it works when it works or doesn't work when it doesn't work...

It's about outgoing damage versus incoming damage. The difference between X (outgoing) and zero will almost always be better than the difference between X and Y (incoming).

...and it is different because that particular setup is based upon a set of conditions and assumptions which I did not set. Ranged attacks have a lot of advantages in 5E (as they also do in a real fight) but without many downsides. That's true regardless of specific situations. Ranged attacks are a strong combat multiplier in D&D.

What changes depending on the situation is how to best employ the strengths of the PC party (as a collective combat unit).

Hypothetically, in the situation given where a tank is taking a lot of attacks -and the party expects that- it makes sense that the PC filling the role of tank would invest resources in being difficult to hit. (Sidenote: It's not difficult to build a PC who is, even at low levels, virtually impossible to hit.)

If the party as a collective unit isn't very capable of using that tactic, it's reasonable to think the party would approach employing their strengths differently. For example, back in 4E, a party which doubled up on a combat role at the expense of something would fight differently. In 5E, that remains true -in a system with less powers to create movement.

The strengths remain the same. It's the approach to employing them which changes. Ideally, the best scenario is one in which you accentuate your strengths while mitigating the enemy's ability to use theirs.

I know that a lot of people think in terms of individual PCs. I don't. I look at things from the perspective of how the pieces of the party as a whole -as a collective unit- can engage with the enemy.

To get back on topic....

I think defensive style is great to build the upfront tank. You could combine that with a race which gets a natural AC bonus to already be at +2 before equipment. Heck, maybe even go straight Dex after that so you can be good at ranged attacks until the enemy gets close and still have a high AC. In melee, switch over to a shield and a finesse weapon.

Behind that can be archery style PCs and casters.

Are there situations where that might not work 100%? Probably, but that's true of virtually anything, so I don't see that as a particularly strong argument against it.

(Edit to fix spelling mistakes)
 
Last edited:

Staffan

Legend
I know that a lot of people think in terms of individual PCs. I don't. I look at things from the perspective of how the pieces of the party as a whole -as a collective unit- can engage with the enemy.

To get back on topic....

I think defensive style is great to build the upfront tank. You could combine that with a race which gets a natural AC bonus to already be at +2 before equipment. Heck, maybe even go straight Dex after that so you can be good at ranged attacks until the enemy gets close and still have a high AC. In melee, switch over to a shield and a finesse weapon.

Behind that can be archery style PCs and casters.
This is an important point. Ranged combat is strong, but if every PC wants to be in the second line shooting at the enemy, what happens is that every PC ends up in the first line in melee combat with the enemy.
 

Sorry, but throwing a weapon instead of dodging isn't a leroy jenkins move. It may not be the best move but it's not leroy jenkins.

And your still agreeing with me that for dodging to work, other PCs have to do fairly specific things on the turn you dodge.
The Leroy Jenkins was specifically referring to just dashing up to the enemy, but I probably wasn't clear about that. I agree that dodge requires the party to work together, but it doesn't necessarily have to be very specific things, as it's DM dependent. Like with all defensive fighting styles (defensive, protection, and interception), the DM can easily make them useless by choosing to attack weaker PCs. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, as I feel it punishing players for their character choice.
 

Staffan

Legend
The Leroy Jenkins was specifically referring to just dashing up to the enemy, but I probably wasn't clear about that. I agree that dodge requires the party to work together, but it doesn't necessarily have to be very specific things, as it's DM dependent. Like with all defensive fighting styles (defensive, protection, and interception), the DM can easily make them useless by choosing to attack weaker PCs. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, as I feel it punishing players for their character choice.
That's why being tough is only half the job of a tank. The other half is some form of aggro management, which is hard to do in an RPG. The closest we've seen is probably 4e which had marking and various punisher ("fight me or face consequences") mechanics for different defender classes. The closest we get in 5e is Sentinel.
 

U
That's why being tough is only half the job of a tank. The other half is some form of aggro management, which is hard to do in an RPG. The closest we've seen is probably 4e which had marking and various punisher ("fight me or face consequences") mechanics for different defender classes. The closest we get in 5e is Sentinel.
There's also interception in 13th Age, which is a small change that has a big effect. (Basically anyone attempting to get to someone behind you can be intercepted). You basically just take into consideration that while actions are resolved in turns they represent events taking place in real time.
 

Argyle King

Legend
This is an important point. Ranged combat is strong, but if every PC wants to be in the second line shooting at the enemy, what happens is that every PC ends up in the first line in melee combat with the enemy.

There's truth to that.

Though, I would also say that a PC focused around Dex (for ranged attacks) likely has good AC even when stuck in melee.

###

Related question: Did the style which gives bonuses for close-quarters shooting make it into a product other than Unearthed Arcana?

I never used it, but that could be an interesting concept to build around as a party.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
This is an important point. Ranged combat is strong, but if every PC wants to be in the second line shooting at the enemy, what happens is that every PC ends up in the first line in melee combat with the enemy.
That's not quite as true. Control Spells, Tasha's summon spells, conjure animals, mobility enhancement abilities/spells. All of those can work together to eliminate the need for a front line PC. The party definitely has to be built for that though.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The question might be reframed as - given an average party of four, is it better to have zero tanks or some number of tanks? In my experience, parties with a small, non-zero number of tanks do extremely well. Parties with all archers can be very powerful, but can also find themselves suddenly dead.
I believe you are typically best off having a little less than half the party be melee (though with solid control or summons you can eliminate many if not all of those melee PC's). The ideal is to have a solid amount of focus fire and incentive damage being spread around your multiple melee characters.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
It's the combination. The control spells matter because each time a foe enters or leaves PAM's reach for the first time in a round, they give the party some tempo. If no PC can close, the control spells become inefficient. When fear wears off, the foe attacks and now the wizard has one fewer spell slots. If the players would commit to all-warlock or all-CEX/SS fighters, they could probably find combinations more optimal. But generally - working together - three archers and a tank is flexible and strong.
I actually think that's the worst party imaginable. 3 ranged and 1 melee is just rough. The melee has to invest so much into defense that he has very limited offense and as such is much easier to ignore.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
To get back on topic....

I think defensive style is great to build the upfront tank. You could combine that with a race which gets a natural AC bonus to already be at +2 before equipment. Heck, maybe even go straight Dex after that so you can be good at ranged attacks until the enemy gets close and still have a high AC. In melee, switch over to a shield and a finesse weapon.
I don't think swapping to a shield mid combat is actually a feasible plan given that it takes an action to do so.

Are there situations where that might not work 100%? Probably, but that's true of virtually anything, so I don't see that as a particularly strong argument against it.
We originally were talking about taking archery style and just staying away from enemies. Did you shift our conversation to something else mid reply?
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I believe you are typically best off having a little less than half the party be melee (though with solid control or summons you can eliminate many if not all of those melee PC's). The ideal is to have a solid amount of focus fire and incentive damage being spread around your multiple melee characters.
For a typical party of four, isn't a little less than half, one?

^^
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I actually think that's the worst party imaginable. 3 ranged and 1 melee is just rough. The melee has to invest so much into defense that he has very limited offense and as such is much easier to ignore.
That's not really true though. Bearbarian has so much EHP and at the same time deals such ferocious single-target damage that they are hard to ignore. PAM paladin can establish a wide front line - more than sufficient on dungeon maps provided in official adventures - and again due to smite is hard to ignore. Tripping battle master deals less damage, but can take half of movement away from a foe. Armored life cleric has such efficiency that unless foes are focusing the cleric, spreading damage across the party has low impact. And that cleric might still turn on spirit guardians.

We've had all of these cases in play at our table (well, VTT mostly, these days!) None of them are a joy for foes to deal with. An unfortunate thing is it does narrow player choice because not very many strategies are well supported. I do see buffs and debuffs profoundly under-utilised.
 

Argyle King

Legend
I don't think swapping to a shield mid combat is actually a feasible plan given that it takes an action to do so.


We originally were talking about taking archery style and just staying away from enemies. Did you shift our conversation to something else mid reply?

You can interact with one object for free once per turn.

The strength of ranged attacks continue to be part of what I had been saying previously.

Looking at how that would work as part of a cohesive unit became part of my later responses, after the validity of the tactics was questioned.
 


Argyle King

Legend
But "donning" or "doffing" a shield specifically takes one action. It's in the equipment chapter, under how long it takes to don/doff armor. Drawing a weapon can be done as a free interaction, but donning a shield can't.

Thanks for pointing that out.

Even so, that just means that maybe the "tank" of the party needs to approach what they're doing differently.

My point was that it's not exactly difficult to place a barrier between someone using ranged attacks and the enemy.

Before that, my view was that D&D 5E has very few drawbacks for ranged attacks, and even the few 5E has [for ranged attacks] are pretty easy to work around. So being able to hit multiple times before the enemy gets close enough to attack at all is pretty good.

But dungeons and small spaces without range...?

Fair point, but that means the spaces are small for whomever the enemy is too. Hence the discussion about a hypothetical situation in which the enemy is attempting to focus fire on one guy. In such a case, the enemy is still being hit by multiple attacks from range while the amount of attacks hitting the PCs are still limited.
 
Last edited:

But "donning" or "doffing" a shield specifically takes one action. It's in the equipment chapter, under how long it takes to don/doff armor. Drawing a weapon can be done as a free interaction, but donning a shield can't.
Unless you are a thief that is.

On the topic at hand, AC is basically damage avoidance which is only 1/3 of the damage triangle with the other two sides of reduction and denial.

The easiest way to think about it is the stronger one side of the triangle gets it inadvertently reinforces the others. For example if you have 1 AC and get attacked 5 times with a +10 attack and 5 damage per hit you could expect to take ~24 damage. If your AC jumps to 17 it goes down to 17.5 or of you could avoid one of those attacks it drops down to 19. If you do both it drops to 14. Now finally you could have something like an ally with interception fighting style that reduces one attack to 0. With all three sides it's down to 10.5.

Some classes have very strong support to one side like barbarian's rage reduction and high(er) HP or artificer's high built in AC so it's a natural tendency to keep stacking in on but more often than not you get a bigger return with a little investment on the other sides.
 


pogre

Legend
I defer to others to work out the math - I teach social studies ;). However, as a DM who has run several campaigns from 1-20 I have learned to be more careful with magic items that grant an AC bonus.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top