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Thread: Fighting Style: 3.5 vs. 4.0

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    Fighting Style: 3.5 vs. 4.0

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    3.5ers, our precious fighter is under attack. Forry turned the fighter into a dramatic power channeler, with the help of Tome of Battle, to do cool things like...um, I don't know since I don't play 4.0. But I'm guessing there's crazy knockdowns, bedazzlements, slides, arm severage, bonuses to allies, marks (what the?), and other stuff that 3.5 fighter didn't get in the PHB.

    Now our fighter has some cool stuff in addition to really fast attacking (best BAB progression and full attacks). Combat maneuvers are available (disarm, overrun, charge...). Feats, and the accompanying trees are there (whirlwind! Look out!). The best part about this stuff, 3.5 can use these maneuvers as many times as he wants.

    But really, it's still just a boring old attack, right? So what if your 4th level fighter just attacked five locathah at the same time? Or he smashed his opponent's trident with one attack, and followed that up with a bloody stab? Is that as cool as it gets?
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    I think you should actually read up on the fighter in 4e. The role of the fighter is much different than in 3.5, so trying to compare it is pointless. The same can go for all the classes. 4e is enough removed from 3.5 that we are talking about totally different systems. It may have some of the same terminology, but it's completely different.

    If your really interested in comparisons you need to look at the Pathfinder fighter vs the 3.5 fighter. Then you can see the short of it.

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    Just checked the dwarven fighter from the D&D free sample. It said the fighter's job is to "defend his allies." The most defensive thing he can do is mark enemies, preventing them from being as effective as possible when attacking the fighter's allies. Other than that, he (Forry fighter) can damage enemies even when he misses, heal himself, knock enemies down (apparently regardless of how many legs they have, how big they are, how nimble they are...), and damage enemies automatically (cleave).

    So yes, 4.0 is a different breed. But the two characters still seem to share the same role: wear armor, wield a weapon, and get messy. I'm not asking what the 4.0 equivalent of Whirlwind attack is; I'm wondering if 3.5 fighters can be as interesting in combat, without having powers and paragon paths, as 4.0s.

    Personally, I think they can be even better - especially with some imagination and creative use of feats and skills.
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    In the case of 3.5, the fighter can be effective with some feats and the creative use of those feats can make interesting combos.

    However,the fighter has the deck stacked against it in effectiveness compared to other classes that just do the job better (Cleric, Druid, Wizard) making the fighter rather a poor choice in some 3.5 games. That is just poor game design.

    The best source of fighter feats/powers that exclusively work for fighters is actually in PHB 2. It includes many of the extras that allow a fighter to do more damage and other abilities: Brutal strike, Crushing strike, Driving attack, Intimidating strike, Melee weapon mastery, Over whelming assault, Bounding assault, Rapid Blitz, Robilar's Gambit, Slashing Fury, Weapon supremacy, Combat form feats, etc. Problem is that they all appear a little late in the game for the fighter and by that time, your so frustrated you probably wouldn't continue in the class.

    With the Tome of Battle, you at least got cool abilities you could use, if only once per encounter. That put them on par with spell casters.

    The big difference about 4e and 3.5 that must be considered is that battles in 4e last longer. The creatures have more hit points and the damage output is not overwhelming. On average, a 3.5 battle after a certain level is determined by initiative and 2-3 rds later. So even if a fighter could do all those wonderful things in 3.5, the battle would be over before he could actually get to them. He would be better off power attacking with a big sword and doing as much damage as possible rather than setting up the foe for his comrades to take down.

    4e is about team work. 3.5 sometimes gets reduced to who has the bigger gun.

    Pathfinder tries to address that issue and gave the fighter more abilities though I should point out that it limited the power of druids, wizards and clerics to balance it out.

    This of course really depends on the game your playing. A low magic setting makes fighters more attractive. But a low technology setting screws fighters if they don't have access to heavy armor. A high magic setting makes fighter redundant. So it will all depend...

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    3.5 fighters can easily have the deck stacked against them - but I would say that's the player's fault, not the system's. With a 3.5 fighter, the player has perhaps too much leeway in the selection of feats. The ranger, with its pre-determined combat style choices, represents how the fighter could be made foolproof.

    To keep your 3.5 fighter up to speed with the cleric, druid, and wizard, you must choose your feats carefully, and intentionally min-max him. There are a handful of paths to take: max damage, max attacks, defensive, or ranged.

    Max damage requires power attack, an exotic two-handed weapon, and a focus on criticals.

    Max attacks requires the two-handed path, proper weapon selection, attack of opportunity maximization, and quick draw.

    Defensive: spring attack, combat expertise path, possibly a tower shield, and an excursion into arrow snatching.

    Ranged: composite bow, point-blank shot tree, and mounted archery. Plus snatching arrows could come in handy.

    3.5 fighter doesn't have many exclusive features (in the core books), but focus and specialization should be included whenever possible. But really, after properly pursuing one of these paths, a fighter should be the last character an enemy wants to get next to in battle. A cleric is less likely to hit the enemy or do massive damage, a wizard is only a threat until you can grapple him, and the druid, well, stay in the city and you won't have to worry about them...
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    I loved what 3.X did for Fighters. Through the use of feats it is very easy to create multiple fighters of the same class who are totally different. That diversity is a strength.

    As a DM, if I feel the party fighter is off balance against other folks, I can use magic items to fix that. Nobody ever seems to complain about getting cool magic items after all!
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    Have to agree.
    Found myself playing more fighters in 3.x than in any other edition.

    In one campaign (Dawnforge) I played a Ogre Fighter wielding a Poleaxe, to later a Trueborn Human Sword & Board Fighter. Both extremely effective, but entirely two different builds for them.
    Even played a few Fighter/Rogue Combos.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grimwell View Post
    I loved what 3.X did for Fighters. Through the use of feats it is very easy to create multiple fighters of the same class who are totally different. That diversity is a strength.

    As a DM, if I feel the party fighter is off balance against other folks, I can use magic items to fix that. Nobody ever seems to complain about getting cool magic items after all!
    In 3.5, fighters are one of the least magical classes (rogues are next, then barbarians). So their progression is fairly mundane, and fairly limited to base attack bonus. That makes it easy for higher level classes with magical features to outshine the fighter.

    But as the DMG insists, higher level treasures involve more and more magical items. These help to enhance other classes, but they exponentially increase the fighter's value. Some examples: magic items overcome damage reduction and regeneration, which would normally diminish or eliminate a figher's damage. A fighter's AC, critical at low and mid levels, is basically limited to 21 (full plate, 1 dex, and a shield) without magic. Fighters, as a caster's worst enemy, can often face the brunt of a magical attack. With only a fortitude save to fall back on (and generally poor dex and wisdom), this makes magic items crucial to keeping your fighter from getting charmed and turning his attacks back on you!

    Quite possible, with Forry's martial powers, the new fighter might solve some of these problems on his own. Although maybe not, considering wizarddog's assertion that 4.0 is more about teamwork.
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    I am not familiar with 4th edition, but as a fan of fighters and a player of them for many years through all editions (except 4.0) I can say this - a fighter is not all about the feats, BAB, armor and/or weapons - though they all help.

    Being a good fighter is also about tactics. And by tactics I mean everything from rank and file battle formations to disinformation and guerilla tactics. You can have the highest BAB, coolest magic weapon and armor, and the most devastating feats in the game - but all of that is for nothing if you don't have a good plan of attack.

    The examples of Conan and Ulysses illustrate my point. Plain and simple fighters, but through clever planning and ingenuity they were able to use their maximum strengths against their opponents weaknesses - and even though there were magic wielding opponents, the fighter was able to come out on top.

    As far as more diversified attacking options - I think 3.5 did a good job on making that available through combat maneuvers combined with the concept and a diversity of combat feats. To do anymore might be cool and different, but not necessary to have a fun, challenging, and rewarding time as a fighter.

    Good example: I was once in a game where the DM went "crazy" and gave a terrasque to fight for 5 of us fighters who were at or around 13th level. Should be a no brainer right? Terrasque wins 5-0. But, we were able to lead the terrasque into a well set trap and contained it within a stone cavern (drop pit style). Then watched gleefully as it drowned when the cavern was filled water from one of our Decanter's of Endless Water. We cooked marshamallows around the pit and took bets on how long it would take to fill. In the end though, terrasque - 0, fighters - Won.

    Tactics baby. Tactics.

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    Tactics, yes, should benefit anyone getting into a fight. But from your example, 5 bards could have accomplished the same thing (probably better, by playing annoying music during the whole charade).

    So being a combatant is different from being a fighter. Being a fighter means finding the best way to express your class abilities in the context of your character concept. It's this aspect of the character that was my focus for the thread.

    (Although I'd love to chat up a thread about tactics too...)
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    I find a fighters strength lies in versatility. A fighter over 20 levels gets 17 (18 if human) feats that they can use to both specialize AND generalize in most areas.
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

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    But is that fighter outmatched by Forry, in terms of combat maneuver originality, if his best tricks are Whirlwind attack, Great Cleave, and Improved Precise Shot?

    At higher levels I'd say it's even more important, for fighter originality, to have a few skills built up to add some creativity to those feats that have been collecting dust for 10 levels.

    How about...Jump and Spring Attack for a momentum bonus to attack?
    Or Hide (cross class, I know) and Quickdraw, to catch an opponent flat-footed?
    Skills oughtta get interesting once you break out of mortal ranks - maybe around 8?
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