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Q-man
04-28-2011, 10:04 PM
Combat is a pretty exciting part of the game session. It stays exciting until the encounter is brought under control and the danger starts to fade away. The controller herds the enemies over to the defender, who in turn drops his mark on them so that they can't break free to attack the softer less armored characters in the party. Its what the players are trying to do each encounter.

I want the players to follow along the path I've written for them through the story. I want the players to approach the encounter from this side, so my carefully placed traps have maximum effect. I want the players to go to more places than the tavern and the dungeon and converse with all the NPC's I've created. I don't get what I want, so why the hell should I give them what they want?

Its important to note that by counteracting the player's strategy you will make your combat encounters much longer. The players will need to stop and adapt to your shenanigans which means their turns will take longer while they rethink their plans. The trade-off is that the encounters will be more interesting.

I've only DMed against two types of defenders, the Fighter and the Battlemind. Since each defender works differently you'll need tactics for each one. So chime in with your own suggestions.


Tricks I use against Fighters:
Shift and Charge - If the enemy has a decent pool of hit points I'll provoke the Fighter by trying to shift away. If the fighter misses I'm home free, if not PC's can only take one immediate action per combat round and one attack of opportunity per enemy's turn. Which means that while he stopped that movement, he can't prevent me from moving again. So I'll use my standard action to charge some other target and break away from the defender.
Overwhelm - Again this takes advantage of the single immediate action that the defender can take. Sacrifice one enemy to make him use that action, once its gone the rest of the marked enemies can safely shift away.
Daze - When you daze the Fighter they are unable to take Immediate actions or Attacks of Opportunity. This shuts their mark down and lets your enemy get away.
Bull Rush - If the fighter isn't next to the enemy his mark doesn't have much threat. Shoving him 1 square is just enough that he can't make use of it as use your move action to get some distance. This uses your standard action, so its more useful for setting yourself up for the next turn.

Tricks I've used against Battleminds:
Just run away - The Battlemind's core ability is Constitution, which means strength isn't likely to be extremely high. This means that their melee basic attack isn't the best. Which in turn means that when you move away from the Battlemind their attack of opportunity won't have the best bonuses. Once you get the slightest bit of distance their mark isn't much of a threat.
Bull Rush - Just like with the fighter, the Battlemind needs to be adjacent to you to use their mark. Move them one square away and you can set yourself up for next turn, or make great use of an action point.
Buddy system - The Battlemind can shift as a reaction to its marked target shifting. So you can't shift to get distance. However, if you have two enemies marked by the Battlemind and one of them shifts left while the other shifts right, the Battlemind has to make a decision and let one of your monsters run free.
Daze - Just like with the Fighter if you take away attacks of opportunity and immediate actions the Battlemind's mark abilities are shut down.

wizarddog
05-03-2011, 02:31 AM
Thats why having 2 defnders makes a party pretty hardy ;)

Now you will have to find ways to counter the Warden ;)

yukonhorror
05-03-2011, 07:20 AM
my DM ignores marks a lot. Yes the monster get's punished, but so do I (the squishy mage guy).

Also, they move people to get within defenders, do the same. Use your controllers to slide that defender out of reach, so his buddy can charge the squishy.

Warden - 2 strategies. First, have a sacrificial cow. Have the first guy marked provoke the imm action, then the rest are free to attack whoever. Second, shift and charge far enough away that he can't pull you back in. With wardens, they have to be adj to mark, so ignore them on purpose. Screw what the tactics say.

Swordmage - probably the hardest to get around as it has such a large radius of effect. But ignore the mark and attack as normal if you want to have the effect you need.

Paladin - similar to swordmage, but maybe it is worth the couple of points of dam you'll recieve.

Q-man
05-03-2011, 07:26 AM
I haven't really seen a Warden in action, so its tough to know what would actually work against them. On the surface it looks like they could be overcome in the same way that you would a warrior. Since the Warden needs to be next to the target to use his interrupt. There is the matter of Warden's grasp though. While it can't prevent your attack, it does give the Warden's ally a very easy escape.

I also notice that the Warden can only mark targets that are adjacent to him, and these marks only last until the end of the Warden's next turn. My first thought would be to have the monster spend it turn getting some distance between itself and the Warden. A shift then using its standard action to move further away. Then on its next turn the Warden's mark would fade and its free to do whatever it pleases.