Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Teamwork in 4e - "Hit him again!"

Today I want to compare the two parties I've been running D&D4e for. Specifically, I want to talk about the warlords. More specifically, I want to talk about Commander's Strike and party composition.

In the first party, Garback the Stabber was constantly using Commander's Strike to give Hatha the minotaur another attack. Since Garback used a scimitar while Hatha had Str 20 and a large maul, he got a lot of bang out of her basic attack.

When creating the second party, Laurel commented that she was impressed with how well Commander's Strike worked for the first party. She took it for her warlord, even carrying a reach weapon so she could more easily target foes with it. Unfortunately, the defender in the second party is a low-strength charisma-based paladin. Her basic attack is... unimpressive, to say the least.

The new warlord has gotten some mileage out of Commander's Strike with the ranger, but not nearly as much as she could teamed with a rogue or a fighter with a massive basic attack. With the paladin and ranger, she has gotten more use out of Viper's Strike. One very effective tactic they've used is to get the ranger and paladin next to the enemy, then the warlord Viper Strikes and the paladin attacks, marks, and shifts back. When the enemy shifts to go after the paladin, the ranger gets a free attack.

It's been said before but bears repeating: 4e is more about building a kickass team than a bunch of kickass individuals.


Anarkeith said...

Yeah, I'm very intrigued by the Warlord class as it fits my play style very nicely.

I do have a question out your statement referring to Commander's Strike:

"She took it for her warlord, even carrying a reach weapon so she could more easily target foes with it."

I couldn't decide when I first read the power description whether or not the Warlord had to hit to make it work. I eventually decided the Warlord was just giving up their attack, and it was up to their ally to make the to hit roll. Make sense?

Gregor LeBlaque said...

That's right, as far as it goes, but the power still has a range of Melee Weapon, which means the warlord at least has to be ABLE to hit the target - she can't just stand on the far side of the field and yell "Hit him again!"

Though, in the interest of full disclosure, that was how we played it when Garback was around and for about half a session with Kiro.

I've read that there are clarifications on the web by WotC folks that confirm this interpretation (though I haven't read them myself).

MikeLemmer said...

I'd agree with "must be in melee range, but doesn't have to hit to let his teammate attack". My reasoning is he distracts the enemy with the weapon, then orders his teammate to attack at the perfect opportunity.

Gregor LeBlaque said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for dropping by.

I went googling for clarifications and only managed to turn up a long thread that went back and forth between "melee range!" and "only the ally has to be in melee!" forever.

Still, it seems clear to me that both the warlord and the ally have to be in melee range because
1) The power's range, which applies to the warlord, is "Melee weapon" vs. a target creature
2) The ally makes a "melee basic attack" against that target creature

Plotter said...

I think it takes a special sort of leader to be able to get enjoyment out of using Commander's Strike. My current party's Warlord just can't bring himself to use it. He's certainly aware that, by the numbers, it can be a really damaging attack, but he feels like he's not getting his fair share of the glory when he uses it. It's too bad.

Still Viper's Strike and Wolf Pack Tactics are both fine at-wills.

Anarkeith said...

Wow, I checked the WoTC forums after I posted my response and found the same thread gregor did, or a very similar one. WoTC CustServ reps were cited in it at least four times calling it a line of sight power, rather than melee range (despite the wording in the PHB.)

My only justification to support this interpretation was from my fencing experience: My coach could watch my bouts and identify thinks my opponent was doing that would make it easier for me to hit. During breaks, he'd tell me what to look for. If the rules had allowed it, he'd certainly have been able to shout out this advice. He didn't have to be in "melee range" with either me or my opponent to see this stuff.

Gregor LeBlaque said...

@plotter: Welcome. Yes, it takes a giver, I guess :)

@anarkeith: I found this thread. The frustrating thing about reading it, for me, was that about halfway down page 1 I felt like I really understood the RAW. Then the custserv wavers and rule reinterpreters showed up...