Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Heroes of the Feywild Playtesting

I decided to playtest some of the new builds from HotF using the same encounter as my last playtest, which consisted of 3 Raven Roost Outlaw Veterans, 2 Raven Roost Sharpshooters, and 4 Human Thugs (minions).  This was a level 9 encounter for a group of 4 level 6 PCs.  This was the party:
  1. Keyleth Arwyl (I built her backstory using the last chapter of HotF): Elven Protector Druid (Predator).  Note that she has the Beastwalker Circle feat, so she can Wild Shape.  New powers from HotF include Magic Stones (at-will), Gust of Wind (E1), Wind Wall (E3), and Summon Natural Ally.  Other powers include Grasping Claws, Summon Giant Toad, Sudden Bite, and Camouflage Cloak.
  2. Fen Silverfang:  Longtooth Shifter Berserker (Temperate Lands).  I went with Run Down and Stalk and Strike for his at-wills, and thanks to heavy shield proficiency his AC is top notch while his aura is up (25).  His other powers are Batter Down (E1), Brutal Slam (E3), Sweeping Cut (D1), Rage of the Crimson Hurricane (D5), Savage Growl (U2), and Cull Weakness (U6).
  3. Bharash Kenkholtet:  Dragonborn Bravura Warlord (with Battlefront Leader).  I probably should have went with a Skald, but I've always wanted to try one of these guys and all of the great MBAs in the party were just too tempting.  He has Brash Assault (with Harlequin Style) and Intuitive Strike as his at-wills (enabling and attack buffing).   Encounters are Vengeance is Mine and Devastating Offense, Fearless Rescue and Staggering Spin for dailies, and utilities include Shake It Off and Inspiring Reaction.
  4. Albanon Izariel:  Eladrin Warlock (S-K) | Swordmage (Assault).  Eldritch Strike and Swordburst (no surprises there) at-will, Grasp of the Iron Tower (re-fluffed to Uel's Warding Curse) and Dimensional Vortex for encounters, Vanishing Blade and Emerald Shield for dailies, and Ethereal Stride and Armanthor's Step for utilities.  This guy's a teleport-spammer, and has Eladrin Swordmage Advance.  
Interestingly, Keyleth, Fen, and Albanon all have very similar DPR with their basic attacks.  Assuming CA Keyleth has 16.05 DPR, and she has the easiest time getting it thanks to Cunning Stalker.  At one point she had a Horned Helm which had her charging DPR at 20.1 (well into Striker territory), but I decided to trade it out for Hamanu's Terrible Roar to make Magic Stones more interesting.  With CA vs a cursed enemy Albanon has 16.375 DPR (14.425 without CA).  Even though he tends to have the most difficult getting CA, in theory his total damage is beefed up with extra attacks (Aegis of Assault and Eladrin Swordmage Advance).  Fen's DPR with CA is 13.075 (or 16.85 while in Fury)If he has CA and charges, his DPR is the highest (assuming Fury) at 21.85.  In any case, Bharash will do very well regardless of who he hands out free MBAs to.  It's funny, since I didn't plan this party around MBAs, it just sort of happened that way.

The Encounter

The fight ended up lasting 6 rounds, but the final 2 rounds were mop-up and involved chasing down the Sharpshooters who were perched up on very defensible ledges.   If I remember correctly the only attack that was made in round 5 was Keyleth's Pack Wolf (SNA), because everyone else had to take double moves (actually, Albanon was able to charge but missed).  In a game I probably would have had these guys surrender after round 4.  Two action points were burned (Keyleth to administer a Heal check on an unconscious Bharash without losing her attack, and Albanon for a nova round).  One daily was used (Summon Natural Ally to summon a Pack Wolf).  After the short rest everyone healed within a few HP of full, and surge expenditure was as follows:  Bharash 3, Fen 2, Albanon 2, Keyleth 1. 

Now, on the to good stuff.  Instead of offering a round by round commentary, I'll just hit the highlights, organized by PC.  In general, the encounter was somewhat swingy.  The bad guys got an early advantage by rolling well for Initiative (whereas the PCs rolled crappy, except for Keyleth).  In round 2 Fen and Bharash both dropped, but once they recovered the PCs cleaned house.

Bharash:  Dragon Breath was used to pop a minion, which means Inspiring Breath was useless.  Battlefront Shift was used to get Fen into position to somewhat compensate for the party's crappy initiative.  Fen took a huge beating in round 1 because of it, but he took it well.  Bharash was unable to use Vengeance Is Mine because the two hits that I remembered I had it were from a minion and an attack that dropped him.  I think there was 1 opportunity where I could have used it but forgot.  Overall I was impressed with his performance, and he definitely lived up to the Warlord hype (I hadn't played one since before MP).  His risky playstyle (especially Brash Assault!) was really fun.

Fen:  It's a good thing Berserkers get such high AC, because he got attacked by almost everyone in the first/second round and stood up to the punishment really well.  After getting nailed by both Sharpshooters, Keyleth protected him with both a Camouflage Cloak and a Wind Wall, but one of the Raven Roost Vets managed to get some lucky hits in despite the invisibility.  He ended up critting with Batter Down, which contributed to him dealing the most damage of any PC despite mostly staying in defender-mode.  I did probably Fury too late (round 4), as none of the THP from Berserk Vitality got touched.  It would have been beneficial to Fury in round 3 instead when there were still a couple of melee enemies present, since Brutal Slam would have kept him sticky for a turn anyways and Savage Growl could have been used after that.  It'll take a few encounters before I get used to pinpointing the optimal moment to Fury.  I ended up never using Stalk and Strike but there was 1 round when I wished I had Aggressive Lunge.  Still, I think most of the time S&S will be the better choice, so I'll keep that in mind as I do more playtesting.

Keyleth:  Wind Wall was VERY effective against the archers in this combat, and was also able to easily hit 3 targets.  Obviously your mileage will depend on how often ranged enemies show up, but in my group archers in particular tend to show up a lot.  Unfortunately, I completely forgot about Nature's Growth so I can't comment on how useful it would have been.  I do remember some enemies shifting, and obviously that could have been prevented depending on the zone's positioning.  Gust of Wind was also a worthwhile power.  I ended up popping a minion with it and pushing a RR Vet 2 squares and knocking it prone.  I then Wild Shaped bringing me 1 square away with the shift (Pouncing Beast Armor).  All of my allies were behind me, so all the Vet could do was stand up and charge.  I hit with Grasping Claws for my OA, stopping his movement instantly (since he'd moved 2 squares already).  A perfect showcase for how Druids can eke more action denial out of prone and daze than other controllers.  I ended up using Magic Stones once, but the archer that I tried to push off the ledge with it made his save (and I missed the other one entirely).  Still a useful power, and had there been more minions I'm sure I would have had fun killing them 3 at a time with it!  The Pack Wolf was largely irrelevant since I'd summoned it next to one of the sharpshooters early on.  Its damage wasn't impressive (since SNA lacks the implement keyword) and without an OA it didn't stop the archer from shooting even after standing up from prone.  Against melee enemies it would be useful to deny their actions (in hindsight I should have summoned the Giant Toad instead).

Albanon:  Not much to say, except that he had some major action economy problems.  I never even got to apply his Aegis.

As a final note I'd just like to mention that I tried something new while playtesting this time.  I transferred all of the important info from the character sheets onto index cards, making mini character sheets.  It really reduced the clutter while playtesting!

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