Why arn't Controllers Sexy

mneme

Explorer
Not if you do it right, it doesn't.

If you're successfully partitioning the combat, it ends up being shorter just by virtue of the bad guys who didn't participate in the first fight, as it takes the same number of actions to drop them but they're taking fewer actions before they drop (due to being out of the fight due to a wall or whatnot -- the only way it could be longer is if normally those guys would have been in the mix, -not- dropping conditions on PCs (which makes fights take longer, if you assume the PCs are going to usually win), and taking AoE damage.

More often, control makes fights a lot -shorter- by, say, sucking most of the bad guys into a pit and then bombing the hell out of them with AoE while the party mobs the rest; by the time the party finishes with the enemies left out of the control, the rest is just mop-up.

If the controller is "controlling" enemies but really getting in the way of her own people, she's not doing her job.
 

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Benimoto

First Post
If the controller is "controlling" enemies but really getting in the way of her own people, she's not doing her job.

What do they call that one around here, the "No true Scotsman" argument? As mentioned, a controller who operates by isolating enemies while doing controller level damage is doing her job correctly. She is making use of her powers to make a difficult fight easier, even if it may end up longer in the end. A lot of controller powers do things like this, disabling an enemy while making them more difficult to attack. Almost any zone or wall does this, as well as a lot of area attacks that create hindering terrain.

And, in my experience, a partitioned fight is inevitably longer. There is less area damage going around, and many players may feel hesitant to use more damaging limited-use powers on "only 2 enemies" or when the fight is "under control". And, although it's a rare case, isolating regenerating enemies or those who have recharging defensive or healing powers can really drag things out.
 

keterys

First Post
In some cases, making a fight increasingly complex can slow things down enough that it causes grind. Also, making things too boring by restricting the ability of large swathes of the combat from acting can be grindy. There are definitely ways to play controllers so they end up not being as treasured as, say, any of the other three roles.
 

Herschel

Adventurer
The rest of the party also has a lot to do with how things play out. If a good controller controls properly then fights should get shorter, but only if the rest of the party is bright enough to take advantage of what they're given.

Ie: If you have a number of single-target mashers, isolating enemies, cutting their damage and enabling focused fire is outstanding. But if the hitters still go after separate targets or whatever, a properly played controller can't fix everything. Good, well-played controllers are great team players, but they need everyone else to play teamwork also.

The "issue" is more that controllers are probably more dependent on fellow players not being knuckleheads than other roles (with leaders being the second).
 

keterys

First Post
Eh, I'm pretty sure that the other roles require at least as much teamwork. Rogues like combat advantage. Leaders like people following their buffs. Defenders like people not screwing up their ability to defend. Etc.
 

Herschel

Adventurer
They all require at least some teamwork, but generally a striker can be a knucklehead easier than a controller (with a Rogue being the most dependent on others, especially at low levels). The striker will still be doing good damage himself while not enhancing the team (which is why I find general Char Op so often a bad crutch for players).

That way, the striker looks like he's doing so much more than the controller when in reality he may not be.
 

What do they call that one around here, the "No true Scotsman" argument? As mentioned, a controller who operates by isolating enemies while doing controller level damage is doing her job correctly. She is making use of her powers to make a difficult fight easier, even if it may end up longer in the end. A lot of controller powers do things like this, disabling an enemy while making them more difficult to attack. Almost any zone or wall does this, as well as a lot of area attacks that create hindering terrain.

And, in my experience, a partitioned fight is inevitably longer. There is less area damage going around, and many players may feel hesitant to use more damaging limited-use powers on "only 2 enemies" or when the fight is "under control". And, although it's a rare case, isolating regenerating enemies or those who have recharging defensive or healing powers can really drag things out.

Yeah, I'm not really buying it. Of course in the infinite variety of possible encounters out there ANYTHING is going to happen now and then. A particularly bumbling wizard might make things slower at times. On the whole if you drop a wall across the middle of the encounter and cut off half of the enemy the fight is going to be MUCH faster. The other characters can focus on one or two targets without interference, its generally a lot easier to flank, etc. Most other classes do good single target damage anyway, so its not like they'll generally be starving for targets.
 

Aulirophile

First Post
New info on the Winged Horde discussion:

So I made a standard level 1 fighter, nothing special, then using the following calculator to determine how many rounds it takes to kill him. With CA, and without CA, based on the average damage of a level 1 brute, skirmisher, and soldier. I didn't make him a BRV fighter or anything, just a nice straightforward fighter. I did take Toughness, because I always take Toughness till level 6 and then retain it on a defender. Those first few levels can be brutal.

Calculator:

Square Fireballs: Character Survivability Calculator (advanced)

Stats: 32 hp, 19 AC, 16 Fort, 15 Ref, 12 Will.

Rounds with CA: 8, rounds without CA: 6, vs skimishers. The average DPR is increase by 1. This ignores that fact that 1/6 of skirmishers do extra dice damage with CA. So Winged Horde reduces the average DPR of every monster it hits at level 1 by a minimum of 1, if it prevents them from getting CA.

Note that missing isn't a huge deal. If two monsters are trying to flank for CA, WH only has to hit one of them, and then neither gets flanking. So assuming a 50% miss chance for both powers, WH does 3 damage to two targets, burst does 7, and WH prevents a minimum of two damage, in situations where CA would've happened.

Considering that PC hp pools are smaller then monster HP pools, that is an overall win for WH (granted in a situation where monsters are trying to get CA and are prevented from doing so... but if I see a big clump of melee I WH them). That is on a per round basis, as well, so if you're out of encounters and the monsters are already flanking, WH, and you've statistically prevented some damage. Two monsters left alive on round 3-4 that have managed to get CA is a fairly reasonable assumption.

And that is why controllers aren't sexy. Their actual controlling powers require a lot of thought to use properly, which most people just aren't good at, and actually proving that you're using them properly involves the right situation to be assumed and quite a bit of math.
 
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KarinsDad

Adventurer
And that is why controllers aren't sexy. Their actual controlling powers require a lot of thought to use properly, which most people just aren't good at, and actually proving that you're using them properly involves the right situation to be assumed and quite a bit of math.

Actually, this is a lot of misconception about what control is. Winged Horde is not a real example of a controlling power. It's an example of a debuff power.

Some people think of debuff as control, but it doesn't really control. The monsters still get in attacks and they can still make reasonable decisions and hork the party over big time. Yes, the monsters do less average damage to the party, but one doesn't really think of a Leader as a Controller when a Leader debuffs foes.

Real control is restricting movement or restricting actions. Winged Horde does neither of these unless it actually gets lucky and kills a foe (in which case, that foe's actions and movement are totally restricted).

WotC doesn't actually provide a lot of good controlling At Will powers for controllers.

Take Storm Pillar for example. On the surface, it sounds like it does a lot of control. But in reality, it at most influences foes. The foes actually can still make decisions to pay the price and move through it or can even do ranged attacks while next to or under it. It may or may not actually control anything. A monster with Resist Lightning 10 or 15, it doesn't even influence the monster at all.


Some people call these types of powers "Soft Control". Soft Control is no different than any other power in the game system. Even a Ranger who is just doing damage is doing a limited form of Soft Control. He influences foes by having them attempt to gain cover, or attack the Ranger, or however he influences them. But influence is not real control. Nearly every attack power in the game system influences foes both mechanically and non-mechanically. A Fighter using a Mark is doing Soft Control, but this is more than just influence. It is also game mechanics.

Every single class in the game system has examples of Soft Control.


Hard Control powers are things like Walls, Slow, Restrain, Immobilize, Daze, and Stun. They actually game mechanics-wise prevent the foes from doing things. These are examples of real control and controllers get very few of these as At Will powers.

But these are the true strength of Controllers. Every PC does Soft Control in one way or another, not just Controllers. Hard Control is the key to a good Controller really handling an encounter and Winged Horde does not do Hard Control.

Hence, touting Winged Horde's Soft Control aspects as making it superior to other At Will powers which do a different type of Soft Control is subjective. A Wizard throwing out Scorching Burst is still doing Soft Control. For example, he is influencing foes to not stand around in groups where he can blast them, hence, restricting the actions of the monsters and giving PCs more opportunities to flank monsters. The monsters can ignore the Wizard and stand around in groups, but then he just blasts them again. And of course, the Defender and the Wizard can easily work together to blast foes regardless of what they do. For example the Wizard can delay to go after the Defender, and the Defender shifts back a square at the end of his turn in order to expose multiple monsters to a Wizard area effect attack.

I cannot count the number of encounters that I have seen where the DM spreads out the foes so that they won't get caught in area effect spells. This is soft control. The monsters are self restricting their own movement. This allows the PCs to focus fire on the outlier monsters more easily without the monsters being able to easily get flank in return. The DM spreads the monsters out, the PCs pick them off one by one. Just by having Scorching Burst, or Thunderwave, or Nightmare Eruption in his repetoire and using it, the Wizard PC is influencing the NPCs to do certain actions and is exerting Soft Control, just like the Cleric is doing Soft Control when he debuffs a monster. It's just different types of Soft Control.
 

keterys

First Post
Losing the ability to take opportunity actions and flank is a hard control by your definition, particularly on certain enemies who might lose their entire shtick.
 

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