Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shaman: Protector vs Elemental

I posted a bit yesterday about the immediate impact of choosing a shaman pet in 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons. Protector seemed to come out ahead to me, but elemental wasn't very far behind and Sky wants to roll more dice. However, there are other choices later on in character creation which are also impacted by the type of pet. In particular every pet has at least one encounter power which gets improved and there are feats which can only be used if you have a specific pet. I went through the builder and made a character of each type to see what the choices were. Ignoring the 3 other pets, what are the options at each stage?

Encounter 1:

Elemental - pet makes a melee wisVref attack for d8+wis fire damage, target gets vul 5 fire for a turn, pet disappears, anyone adjacent to elemental pet can choose to deal fire damage for a turn
Protector - pet makes a melee wisVref attack for 2d6+wis damage, target is marked, if pet is protector the mark is for -5
Protector - I make ranged 5 attack, wisVfort for d6+wis thunder damage, if you stand beside pet you get resistance 4 to all damage, if pet is protector me or an ally with 5 squares of me gets 4 temp hit points
None - I make two ranged 5 attacks, wisVref for d8+wis damage, pet makes all adjacent enemies grant combat advantage for a turn

Theoretically if everyone saved up an action point and we used very precise positioning then we could get 40 bonus fire damage out of the vulnerability from the elemental attack. Possibly good for a boss fight but it doesn't seem very exciting for most encounters. I like the second protector ability for pretty much every fight since it gives damage prevention both from the resist and the shield. Those numbers are based on con modifier so taking it as an elemental spec is pretty sketchy. Making 2 attacks and granting combat advantage to a bunch of dudes actually seemed pretty reasonable (it's the stalker one and the choice I made for the first session) and I think it's my best choice for elemental, too.

Encounter 3:

Elemental - pet targets an ally beside him and disappears, ally gains resist 6 to all damage for a turn, do a close burst 1 attack centered on that ally hitting every enemy with a wis+2Vac attack for 2d6+wis damage
Protector - pet makes a melee wisVref attack for d8+wis damage and the target is immobilized for a turn, also allies can flank with a protector pet and get an extra +4 to hit if they do
Protector - pet makes a melee wisVfort attack for 2d8+wis damage and an ally adjacent to pet can spend a healing surge, if protector pet they get 4 extra healing

The elemental one here seems insane. Have an ally mostly surrounded by dudes? Put a big damage resistance buff on them and beat up all the enemies too. I again wanted the second protector option since having more ways to actually heal people seems good. The elemental shield size is based on int mod for elemental and would be only 3 for another pet type which still seems decent.

Utility 2:

Protector - daily minor action, me and all allies beside my pet get resist 4 to all damage for the fight
None - daily standard action, someone within 10 squares gets to heal as though they had spent a healing surge without actually spending one

The protector one isn't exactly protector only, but it is based on con mod so it gets pretty weak for another pet type. Resist 1 is ok but it requires precise positioning to pull off on everybody and is it really going to prevent more than letting someone heal without spending a surge? That one is a standard action which does hurt it a little, but I like more ways to heal that aren't pet dependent. I definitely take the resist 4 as a bear spec but as elemental I take the heal.


Elemental - each time you summon your pet you give an adjacent ally 4 temporary hit points
Elemental - each time your pet disappears from an attack power one ally adjacent to him before he disappears can shift 1 space as a free action

There are no protector specific feats that I can find. I was a little worried about losing the extra temp health from the protector at-will attack but it looks like I can pick up 4 temp health a turn out of the elemental pet if I spend a feat. I'm not sure about the timing on the second one but I think that means I can give Sky an attack but he gets to move a space before attacking, letting him get into range before swinging. Sounds like it could work well with the encounter power which hits everyone around my targeted ally.

I have 3 feats to pick total and it turns out there are 2 which really buff my main heal which I missed when I built my character the first time. They give the primary target of my heal 5 extra healing and they give everyone adjacent to my pet 5 temporary health. I don't know that the shift is really critical so I think I'd be going with both of those and the elemental temp health or both of those and +3 to perception as a protector. (I had a +1 to hit feat but it turns out we weren't supposed to take those. Oops!)

So elemental wins out at the encounter 3 and feat level. Protector wins out at the encounter 1 and utility 2 level. Overall they both seem pretty good and a lot better for what I need to do than my first try as a stalker. So it all comes down to if I want more consistent across the board healing or if I want more damage. Also note I have a healing daily or a damage daily I can pick from, so I can cover a whole spectrum.

My gut feeling is the extra 4 temp health from the elemental feat pushes it over the top. I get to roll fewer dice but Sky rolling at +14 for 17.5 damage and a guaranteed 4 point shield seems a lot better than me rolling at +9.5 (assuming targeting will is ~1.5 better than ac) for 10.5 damage and 4 point shields to everyone around on a hit. That's more than double the damage and it would take 2 targets getting the shield (and using the health) every time I hit to make up the healing. So, I think I'm going to give elemental a spin and see how it works out.


Sky said...

I'm gonna do *so* much damage!

Sthenno said...

Important note (I'm full of these): Temporary hit points do not stack under any circumstances. If you have temporary hit points and you get more, you are left with the larger of the two amounts, not the sum.

I don't think this changes your analysis of which is the best spec, it's just something I want you to know.

Ziggyny said...

Yeah, I actually did a search and found an official answer on the D&D boards about if temporary hit points stack up or not. I had visions of making everyone invincible with the protector pet but it wasn't going to work out. It does make one of the healing feats a little less good for the elemental spec but probably still worth taking. We'll see!

Two questions I did have, though, were:

1) Does the healing neck give +1 to temporary hit points? Regeneration? Just flat heals?

2) If we know a fight is about to start can we spend 40 seconds to pre-shield everyone? A minor action to summon the pet and a minor action to unsummon it and suddenly someone has 4 temporary hit points. Would those persist into the start of the fight? On just 1 person or on the whole group?

Sthenno said...

I don't think pre-shielding is appropriate for most encounters. If there is a credible reason that you can predict the start of a fight happening then it's probably fine, but at the same time I would tend to think that summoning and dismissing a spirit pet is probably a flashy, noisy business that enemies in the area would likely notice. So if you know that guys are coming and that they'll be here in a minute, I think starting the fight with the health up (and having activated any other encounter-duration powers you want) is fine. But doing this every couple of minutes all day every day is presumably not feasible. (If necessary we can imagine that summoning your spirit requires a similar exertion to running around and hitting people with swords).

The healing neck probably applies only to flat heals, if I recall the wording. The 4E rules are pretty good for just reading and doing what they say. It probably says something about healing powers healing people and never mentions temporary hit points.