D&D 5E The Adventuring Day has nothing to do with encounter balance.

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
When you're getting a massive hit buff for spending an Action Point in a turn while you've got a Tac Lord in the party, it's probably more like hitting on 15's at that point, and that's not including Dice of Auspicious Fortune, Combat Advantage, or even crazier things like the Eladrin Tactical Warlord Paragon Path that can increase that attack bonus to like +10 for a turn.
Oh, or the original Orb of Imposition Wizard who can force even solos to routinely fail saves against debilitating daily powers.
 

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
When you're getting a massive hit buff for spending an Action Point in a turn while you've got a Tac Lord in the party, it's probably more like hitting on 15's at that point, and that's not including Dice of Auspicious Fortune, Combat Advantage, or even crazier things like the Eladrin Tactical Warlord Paragon Path that can increase that attack bonus to like +10 for a turn.
Yea, 4e had tons of ways to buff allies, debuff enemies, and cause auto damage.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Ah, found it. 3 days before 4e was actually released, people realized that the Ranger's Blade Cascade (it was melee not ranged, sorry) could let a Ranger SOLO Orcus in one round....here's boring math stuff:

How this guy does it

"Assuming a maxed +46 attack bonus (after Imperiling Strike), we have a Blade Cascade chain with an average number of hits equal to 19 times the number of rerolls plus one (if somebody bothers to do the math and finds it's wrong, please tell me so and why.) Now, Imperiling Strike, with a +40 attack bonus, has a 50% chance of hitting with a regular attack, so half of the time we will start our Blade Cascade with less than four rerolls. In particular, we should note that our racial reroll has a +2 bonus, so that's the one we'll use first, since any extra bonus on the Cascade are wasted.

Considering all this, we have a 50% chance of having 4 rerolls when starting Blade Cascade, 30% of 3 rerolls, 10% of 2 rerolls, 5% with one, 2.5% with none, and a 2.5% of losing all rerolls and failing to land Imperiling Strike (this, as you already know, means you are already dead). The average damage values of each are 3752.5 (4 rerolls), 3002 (3 rerolls), 2251.5 (2 rerolls), 1501 (1 reroll), 750.5 (no rerolls) and 59.25 with no IS.

With 39.5 average weapon damage, this gives a final average damage of 3097.29 hit points, enough to kill Orcus twice. To that we could add an average 33 damage from Imperiling Strike and a maxed 6d8 from a critical sneak attack done when Orcus is bloodied. If we added Raise the Stakes, these numbers would improve a bit, but the point is already made."

Note, this was done with the PHB1, and one Ranger, no assistance from Leaders or stuff from later books. Of course, Blade Cascade got quickly nerfed, but it just goes to show high level play has always been, and always will be, busted.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
Of course, Blade Cascade got quickly nerfed, but it just goes to show high level play has always been, and always will be, busted.
It does not show the bolded. I'm not even sure it shows the previous point either.

Particularly since such shenanigans were extremely rare in 4e, as opposed to being pretty much the point of 3.5e optimization. To the extent that games today make a distinction between "practical optimization" (getting to solid, useful benefits with no exploits or strained interpretations) and "theoretical optimization" (doing whatever you can, so long as there's some kind of RAW argument that it works), with specific callouts for excluding "nigh-infinite" shenangians.

Because getting "nigh-infinite" shenanigans as a 3.5e character is pretty easy. Especially if you're a full caster, but it's not strictly required.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
It does not show the bolded. I'm not even sure it shows the previous point either.

Particularly since such shenanigans were extremely rare in 4e, as opposed to being pretty much the point of 3.5e optimization. To the extent that games today make a distinction between "practical optimization" (getting to solid, useful benefits with no exploits or strained interpretations) and "theoretical optimization" (doing whatever you can, so long as there's some kind of RAW argument that it works), with specific callouts for excluding "nigh-infinite" shenangians.

Because getting "nigh-infinite" shenanigans as a 3.5e character is pretty easy. Especially if you're a full caster, but it's not strictly required.
I only played in one epic tier 4e game, but my experience was that there were quite a few shenanigans you could engage in to make characters stronger than they ought to be. One of the big problems of the ranger was multiple attacks with lots of sources of static damage; Twin Strike tried to address this, but they kept printing stuff like the bracers that gave you +1d6 damage if you attacked twice or +2 damage to weapon attacks, and your Cleric might make all enemies vulnerable all/7 with their encounter power, and so on.

One of the better nukers I saw in play was a Sorcerer/Acolyte of the Skin, because Demon-Soul Bolts hits three times and you got all your damage mods on each bolt; not only was this an encounter power, but thanks to Pearls of Power, you could arrange to use it multiple times in a big encounter. Items that broke the math totally existed, like the Goggles that gave ranged attacks a bonus to hit, multiclassing and hybrid rules could create bizarre combinations of abilities. I keep mentioning Dice of Auspicious Fortune, which were used a lot in the groups I played with; at the beginning of each day you roll 3d20 and log the results, then you can use one of those results in place of a d20 roll later that day (there was a Theme with a similar ability, as I recall). So oh hey, I rolled a 17? That's one daily that is absolutely going to hit later today!

And saying that high level play is never busted? Come on, we know high level abilities aren't playtested with any real rigor, the sheer weight of all options available make it impossible to create a "standard level 16 party" for any kind of encounter or adventure design. High level characters have ways to actually decide whether or not they have full resources for an encounter and the only way around that is to design every adventure to not allow the use of such abilities.

I don't mean this it's not possible to run a good high level game, or that high level games can't be fun, but it takes a lot of experience and work on the DM (and perhaps gentleman's agreements on what things to use/not use) than is fair for the average DM.

4e might not have Locate City bombs, but it does have Feywild Boles and Dimensional Knives and ways to generate unbalanced numbers. You can cheat healing surge attrition by shuffling the amount of surges the party has with a ritual, and build a Striker that can one shot Solos starting at level 1 and never really changing.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I like the concept, but I think your still in the same fundamental bucket.

A Tier 2 monster would heavily challenge a Tier 1 party (levels 1-4 lets say). But a Tier 3 monster isn't going to be nearly as threatening to a Tier 2 party. The game just fundamentally changes around 5th level in a way that it never does again for the rest of the game.
So make tiers logarithmic. There’s no rule that says every tier needs to be the same number of levels, and if levels have diminishing returns, maybe there should be more of them between each successive tier.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
4e might not have Locate City bombs, but it does have Feywild Boles and Dimensional Knives and ways to generate unbalanced numbers. You can cheat healing surge attrition by shuffling the amount of surges the party has with a ritual, and build a Striker that can one shot Solos starting at level 1 and never really changing.
Well...that's sort of my point.

We went from locate city bombs and the Wish and the Word to...dealing 40% more damage than expected, or having an attack you could potentially juice up so it could kill a god in one blow if the stars aligned.

That's ENORMOUS progress in terms of getting busted-ness under control. Being "busted" is both a matter of degree and a matter of kind. Your statement pretty much implies "never, ever bother trying to balance. You'll never make ANY progress, whatsoever, no matter what you do." And that's objectively untrue. A single example of a broken power certainly does not indicate that high-level gameplay is always busted, still less that it is always horrifically busted rather than just a little wonky.

You'll also note that I did not say--and certainly did not mean to imply--"that high level play is never busted." I was, in fact, specifically trying to avoid saying that. Because I absolutely agree that you usually can finesse and finagle and push and prod and tweak and shift, and enough of those stacked together can lead to weirdness in much the same way that a stack of identical books can remain balanced despite having books arbitrarily far from the table...if the stack gets tall enough.*

What I am saying is:
(A) We can do better than we have in the past. We can learn from past mistakes, and improve.
(B) Different kinds of "bustedness" exist, not just different degrees, and fixing the worst kinds is worthwhile even if the lesser kinds remain.

*Each book is balanced so long as the center of mass of the stack remains above the table. The maximum distance you can push things for N books of unit length is half of the sum of the first N harmonic numbers, (0.5)(1+1/2+1/3+...+1/N) This is a divergent series, so you can get distances arbitrarily long. However, it converges with a logarithmic growth rate, meaning you need only 4 books (because half of the sum of the first 4 harmonic numbers is 1.041666...)
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Well...that's sort of my point.

We went from locate city bombs and the Wish and the Word to...dealing 40% more damage than expected, or having an attack you could potentially juice up so it could kill a god in one blow if the stars aligned.

That's ENORMOUS progress in terms of getting busted-ness under control. Being "busted" is both a matter of degree and a matter of kind. Your statement pretty much implies "never, ever bother trying to balance. You'll never make ANY progress, whatsoever, no matter what you do." And that's objectively untrue. A single example of a broken power certainly does not indicate that high-level gameplay is always busted, still less that it is always horrifically busted rather than just a little wonky.

You'll also note that I did not say--and certainly did not mean to imply--"that high level play is never busted." I was, in fact, specifically trying to avoid saying that. Because I absolutely agree that you usually can finesse and finagle and push and prod and tweak and shift, and enough of those stacked together can lead to weirdness in much the same way that a stack of identical books can remain balanced despite having books arbitrarily far from the table...if the stack gets tall enough.*

What I am saying is:
(A) We can do better than we have in the past. We can learn from past mistakes, and improve.
(B) Different kinds of "bustedness" exist, not just different degrees, and fixing the worst kinds is worthwhile even if the lesser kinds remain.

*Each book is balanced so long as the center of mass of the stack remains above the table. The maximum distance you can push things for N books of unit length is half of the sum of the first N harmonic numbers, (0.5)(1+1/2+1/3+...+1/N) This is a divergent series, so you can get distances arbitrarily long. However, it converges with a logarithmic growth rate, meaning you need only 4 books (because half of the sum of the first 4 harmonic numbers is 1.041666...)
(This is kind of cynical; usually I give WotC a fair shake, because I believe these decisions are really made by suits who don't care about D&D players, they just want money. But it really doesn't matter- whether you have integrity as game designers or you're held hostage and forced to churn out easily digestible junk food that's slowly killing the people that eat it, the end result is the same. So here I am, live and uncut. People are going to either disagree or agree, I don't think anyone is actually going to change their opinion now. But here's my rant anyways, because I can't just say nothing, even though I am but a voice crying out in the wilderness...or an old man yelling at clouds).

No, it's not that you can't achieve balance. But not only are there issues with achieving balance because (forgive me for using italics, but I need to stress this) not enough people can agree on what balance is, nor are enough people interested in balance in the first place- either because they don't see any imbalance in their personal games, they think they have it covered, or, the position I understand the least (but tried to at least explain), they believe that the game is better without it.

Specifically with regards to high level play, it will remain busted until the company that makes the game cares enough to balance it. They don't. That's obvious. There's not enough money in it.

They are building the game for some "sweet spot" that they feel most games are run in. They want you to quickly fly past the first couple levels, which they feel are the least fun and hard to balance, since they are incredibly swingy- but are kept around because enough people insist that is when the game is the most fun; I remember how this went in the playtest, where it was felt that what 4e called level 1 was a great place to start campaigns, and WotC initially was going to keep it that way, but a lot of people called for the game to "start" at an earlier point, with less resources...for reasons.

Reasons I don't get. I don't run games at level 1, and I haven't since 1994, simply because I got tired of people making characters, then having those characters die any actual threats, from a random goblin throwing a spear, to kobolds, to effing tasloi (there's this fluffy low level adventure in Dungeon where some tasloi are keeping a faerie dragon hostage because they are...problematic now, I'll grant...addicted to it's breath weapon. I thought it was cute. It was a bloodbath).

3e proved to only be marginally better at handling level 1, and when 4e was like "hey, why don't we start with 20-30 hit points" I was like "THANK YOU".

But some people are really attached to the "zero to hero" loop, and want death to lurk around every corner and for players to feel cautious and meek- and you know what, that's fine, I don't think it's very much fun to run or play at those levels, but if it works for them, I can start at higher level, that's fine...except...

At a certain point, WotC stops really caring. Past level 10 is this vaguely defined zone of super powers and too many resources and enough of a hit point buffer that any reasonably decent group is going to cakewalk all but the most unfair encounters. Casters gain tons of "I win buttons", non-casters gain very meager abilities; in the case of the Fighter, just more of what they had before.

The CR system falls apart because it's based on largely nothing, monsters were never designed going "but what if they have 90% resources? 60%? 20%?" because they likely assumed that any group that gets too weak will stop adventuring for the day. They never say "what if the group has a Paladin instead of a Fighter? Or two Clerics? Or no Clerics?". They claim "oh no, it doesn't matter what classes you play"...so someone might get the idea that all classes are balanced against one another.

Haha, sorry suckers, that's code for "we didn't even take any of that into account". Your team has four Wizards, sufficient to blow past Legendary Resistance in one turn? Eh, maybe the next fight will challenge them more. Who knows? If they die, well, you can say it was supposed to be hard. If they win, well, you can say "but each subsequent battle will be harder because they have less spells, see?!".

When Crawford is talking about Epic Boons and capstones in the playtest, I'm like, dude, you're polishing the brass on the Titanic, the ship is going down, man! You don't give a damn about high level play! Your "marketing research" shows that most games are over by like, level 7!

Which is obnoxious when you realize that the game is really only balanced for like 4-5 levels, and all the rest of it, your "bounded accuracy" which is meaningless with options in the PLAYERS HANDBOOK, and never takes into account group composition (because you don't care about actual to hit and AC, you only care about HIT POINTS, you lazy bums!), you are fine with Four Elements Monks coexisting with Twilight Clerics because, well, tables will police themselves right? It works for MtG Commander!

I've watched the same decisions get made with regards to high level play for decades. To go on with the MtG analogy, D&D is a turn 7 format and they're fine with that.

All of this New and Improved Flavor 5e? Window dressing, man. So far, they haven't really addressed any actual concerns; it's another 3.5. Some updates, some things people will point to and say "see? This makes the game better!", some nerfs, some buffs, but the end result won't really be any different. They just want to sell you another three core rulebooks at 50 bucks a pop (ha, what am I saying, they'll probably up the price count).

Games Workshop has been treating their fans this way for decades, seems to work for them, and even if you jump off the train, they still got the most popular seating around.
 

Oofta

Legend
As an aside, when I was playing a high level character in the Scales of War adventuring path, the DM basically gave up by level 22. We obliterated every solo we came across with action denial and massive damage (ironically, my Ranger was doing most of the denial, as I had a fun combo of "hit enemy = slow, hit slowed enemy = prone" thanks to a few feats and a few powers that let me daze or stun foes -my favorite being a triple hitter Daily- hit once the enemy is slowed (save ends), hit twice, the enemy is also dazed (save ends), hit three times the enemy is also stunned (save ends). One time a solo actually failed the stun save, and that fight was basically OVER.

We once showed up missing two players and had to fight a solo (actually a solo and an elite) that was way overpowered, and was a puzzle boss, where you were meant to weaken it in an ongoing skill challenge. We flubbed all the rolls, powered it up, and...still muddled through and won out of sheer stubbornness.

The only solos that ever really challenged us did so by using their own action denial, or goofy "legendary actions" that gave them multiple turns. The hardest fight we ever faced was actually when we were level 19 and started running into level 21 regular enemies, so the math had us missing more often; once we got our epic destinies, epic weapons and armor and stat buffs, we were fine.

And I say this as someone who really enjoyed my 4e experience- but I'd be lying if I didn't say having more actions than your enemy is worth way more than the enemy having bigger numbers.

Epic level play in 4E was an interesting experiment, but it was very difficult to set up appropriate challenges. Player's capabilities to shut down or bypass challenges altogether abounded. I played in the LFR (the public play for 4E) campaign that went to 30th and one of the biggest complaints was that the modules constantly came up with some fabricated reason we couldn't use our powers. Especially the first few modules in the series were "Ha ha! You can't use all those toys you've worked so hard to get!"

It took me a while to figure out how to handle it for my home campaign and I'm not sure I ever really succeeded. Battlefield control, totally nerfing the opponent, was just built in to the DNA of 4E. When the PCs did it, games became boring because there was no real challenge. When the monsters did it it was boring because players had no choice but to sit and wait. Still can be an issue in 5E of course, and about the only solos I've found that work are creatures like dragons that can fly out of sight on their turn (which can have it's own frustrations) but for me it's been easier to find the right balance. Of course I get to stop at level 20 now and that helps as well.
 

jgsugden

Legend
You DO understand that tedious slog is an OPINION here? And for him, that may be true. In any event, it's impossible for you to prove it false just because your opinion is different.
Again, no.

When he says it is going to be a tedious slog and left no room for exception, that took it out of his perspective and made it a generalization.

Further, his statement goes beyond that to say it will inherently have no merit.

Stop and look at what what he said with a critical eye.
 

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