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Talk:Jack of Swords (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Balance Edit

Being able to parry 3 attacks per round doesn't make this look fighter-level whatsoever. I'd maybe even go so far as to call it wizard--heck, this could probably be able to take on the Tome Fighter since it could negate its Foil Action. --Ghostwheel 04:27, April 6, 2010 (UTC)

I'd very much hesitate to call it wizard-level, since the auto-parry isn't going to help it at all against things which don't use attack rolls (hallway of magical runes, dragon breath weapon, mind flayers, vrock, necromancer) or encounters with overwhelming numbers of attack rolls (6 trolls, 12 shadows), and it still requires beating that attack roll. The ability to specifically mess with one schtick of a specific wizard-level class if you succeed on an opposed roll is not inherently wizard-level. --Quantumboost 05:03, April 6, 2010 (UTC)
A number of shticks of a number of wizard-level classes, including the gish/beatstick option of clerics, all for 3 levels. That much power, especially as a free action, is stronger than a rogue-level class would have IMO. Especially when you get into iterative attacks, which are usually lower than the attack roll this class uses. --Ghostwheel 05:08, April 6, 2010 (UTC)
But the standard we claim to use, which makes the terms "fighter-level" or "rogue-level" or "wizard-level" mean anything at all, is a comparison against a roughly even sampling of the full spectrum of challenges the character can expect to face at their level. This PrC is very good at duels, and against martial-style character builds it will have a good shot at winning - but it sorely underperforms against large groups of enemies (like say an army - a literal army - of skeletons) and enemies who don't bother making attack rolls. Which are most of the actual challenges you're dealing with at the level this class comes into play. Your wizard-level assessment is very specifically ignoring all the cases where the class brings virtually nothing to the table and overemphasizes the very small subset that it actually does perform decently well on. What is someone with this class going to do against a Gelugon (even ignoring the iron golem that's supposed to be with him)? What are they going to do against an army of ghouls and the Drow Priestess who commands them? --Quantumboost 05:16, April 6, 2010 (UTC)
The thing is that the standard works well on base classes, where you can take the base class boost it to the level the SGT asks one to be, and run it. Prestige classes on the other hand can have any number of combinations behind them--and it comes down to this; is being able to neutralize around half the attacks that the game steps up with (assuming half combat, that is, attack rolls, and half magic that targets saves) an ability that a fighter-level class would have? Even a rogue-level class with this ability not only needs to spend an immediate action on it, but must also recharge it to reuse it (if a Warblade picked up Wall of Blades). Comparing it to that ability (and similar ones), this one blows it completely out of the water. --Ghostwheel 05:39, April 6, 2010 (UTC)
No, the standard applies to prestige classes as well. You're spending three of the levels you take to get to level 15 to get the prestige class. If this is a wizard-level class, then a <something rogue-level> 12/Jack 3 should do substantially better than a <same rogue-level> 15 on the level 15 SGT. Unless you want to rewrite the description of balance levels, of course. :P --Quantumboost 05:48, April 6, 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that 3 class levels are going to make enough of a difference with any class to affect the SGT that much--even uber ones like Incantatrix rest on the fact that they're based on a wizard-level class. That said, my argument still stands--you're basically making yourself immune to all attackers, as long as you're not swamped--and even then, if you've got a really high AC you still just need to defend against 3 attacks. (So even if half the trolls miss, you're ignoring the rest.) --Ghostwheel 07:21, April 6, 2010 (UTC)
According to the CR system and SGT standard, three class levels are supposed to, when aggregated with your existing class features, increase your personal power by a factor of roughly 2.8. That's significant, and it is measurable. You need to establish that the PrC has some impact compared to the class levels you would take otherwise, or you have no business claiming that it has X or Y balance point. Because you will have specifically demonstrated and admitted that you cannot distinguish what balance point that PrC actually is.
So this is my challenge to you: demonstrate that this prestige class, as compared to an additional three levels in base classes already established as the specified balance point in an effectively-made build, is significantly more effective when subjected to the level 15 SGT posted on this wiki. I'll wait. If you can demonstrate that, I will gladly admit that you were right and I was wrong. --Quantumboost 08:04, April 6, 2010 (UTC)
I'll make a new heading then, so it'll be easier to write everything down.
So I suppose I should have clarified this. The Parry ability can only be used against attacks from a weapon, or from touch attacks. Sorry about the mix-up, I was sure I had included that stipulation. I didn't even notice that I hadn't until I checked my watchlist and found that there was a bunch of activity on this page. STDoc 02:16, April 7, 2010 (UTC)
Is this serious? All this fuss over parry? I would think there'd be a fair arguement for wizard with the inclusion of one of the pretty good epic feats there. But parry?
Warblades do that. It's called Wall of Blades. This is just Wall of Blades: The Class, so I'd expect it to focus on it more, and it does that job well. Well, anyway, I'm not worried at ALL about parry. If you aren't gangraped and facing a single person, then the end result is that after an attack or two is foiled, they get wise and attack your friends. Which if you have a tank is nice, but if you don't, or you WERE the tank, you just failed at tanking. Or, worse, they attack you at range, with magic, with an AoE, etc.
Now, about that epic feat. Not one of my favs, I worry about save or dies at will with no cost. DC isn't exactly nessicarily low either, or limited in scope to who it can effect. -- Eiji Hyrule 00:58, April 30, 2010 (UTC)
Vast oversimplification of the ability. Sure, Warblades get Wall of Blades... as an immediate action. That means only once per round, that means that they can't use any other counter during that round or boost when their round comes up, and they can only do it once. Furthermore, they can use it at most once every three rounds, since on round 1 they're using the counter, round 2 they're waiting for their swift action to get eaten up by use of the ability, and only on round three can they decide to refresh their maneuvers in order to use it again. So, yeah... not a very good analogy between the two. --Ghostwheel 01:05, April 30, 2010 (UTC)
That's why I called it Wall of Blades: The Class. I expect it to be better, it's an ECL 12+ PrC. Given it's focus on it, I would want it to take the ECL 3 Wall of Blades, strip it of the other maneuvers you get by being a warblade, and improve Wall of Blades to be worth ECL 12. And if that means "using it, but more", well then that sounds like a prett good upgrade to go from ECL 3 power to ECL 12 power. -- Eiji Hyrule 01:13, April 30, 2010 (UTC)
Debatable; that said, you can see for yourself that it shifts the SGT towards wizard-level below, a measure that's more objective than how strong a class or specific ability "feels". --Ghostwheel 01:27, April 30, 2010 (UTC)
To be fair, a good part of the fuss was about establishing how to actually determine the balance level of a Prestige Class with the SGT. Hopefully we won't have to have that discussion again. ;) --Quantumboost 01:36, April 30, 2010 (UTC)

SGT Edit

Warblade 11 + JoS 3 + Warblade 1 = Warblade 12 / JoS 3 with access to level 7 maneuvers. We'll pick up the TWF tree, Combat Reflexes, Stormguard Warrior, and Robilar's Gambit, as well as double kukris. I'll be putting what a straight up warblade would have gotten next to the result of what this one has (1 = win, 0 = 50/50, -1 = loss)

  • Marut - we can resist its will-affecting things for a single round with Moment of Perfect Mind, allowing us to get close. The next round it'd probably use Plane Shift--which would screw us if we didn't have parry at will. Probably be around 50/50 if this were without JoS, but on this count it's probably a solid win. 1/0
  • Hullathoin - with its decent attack bonus, this is going to hit us around half the time. The other half, we parry. Were this a normal warblade, they'd get grapplepwned and killed. After that, we can kill it pretty easily between Robilar's Gambit and Stormguard Warrior, probably on round 2. 1/-1
  • Nightmare Beast - another melee foe. We can ignore Disintegrate with parry, as well as most of his attacks--if they even hit. Hit, hit, hit, and between all the attackers we're making (6 without Dancing Mongoose) it's sure to fail a fort save and autodie. 1/0
  • Windghost - I'm not sure if there's any way to kill this once it's in the sky and we're not unless we get the drop on it. That said, there's no way it can touch us. MoPM takes care of its song, and we could even plink at it with arrows all day long (autokilling it if it gets close). Where a regular warblade would never have a chance of killing it with arrows, on crits it needs to make a save or die. Eventually it does. 1/0
  • Yakfolk cleric with a party of Dao - No idea what Dao are, but once we get fairly close to the cleric (and we have enough potions and items at this point where that's hopefully possible) we use Dancing Mongoose + Pouncing Charge to get in close and make 8 attacks, each one that crits (15-20) forces the yakfolk to make a save, one of which it's bound to fail. A regular warblade might not be able to kill it in one round, and might get hit by a touch save-or-die (like plane shift) on the next round. 1/0
  • Drow Priestess with army of ghouls - Mostly ignore the ghouls, MoPM and deflect attacks from the priestess. Follows much the same as the Yakfolk, I think. 1/0
  • Warparty of Cloud Giants - being able to parry makes a real difference here. Parry the attacks we want to, take a few others, proc robilar's gambit to get a save or die most of the time (which grows with Blood in the Water), and kill them. A regular warblade might not be able to take that many hits, but we're taking a lot less with parry. 1/0
  • Mature Adult White Dragon - much the same as before. With its CL of 3 we don't have to worry about its spells so much, and a potion of fly will let us take care of its strafing attacks. Reading a pouncing charge + dancing mongoose, and you've probably killed it. If you don't, you can always take its attacks (robilar's gambit + stormguard warrior) or deflect most of them if they even hit (parry), and do it again if it dares get close. A regular warblade on the other hand will probably get grappled or take too much damage from all the attacks. 1/0

Kinda tired for now, but I hope that illustrates it well enough? With JoS, it comes out to 8 wins, no sure wins without (lots more 50/50s, as a rogue-level class should have). Between Devestating Critical, tons of attacks, Pouncing Charge, Blood in the Water, Stormguard Warrior and Robilar's Gambit we can kill most melee enemies fairly easily, surviving them with multiple parries and warding off will save-attacking things with MoPM. --Ghostwheel 01:53, April 7, 2010 (UTC)

A couple of nitpicky issues:
  • Yakfolk Cleric with party of Dao: Dao are Earth Genies from the Manual of the Planes, individually CR 7 (that makes the cleric about CR 13-14). Among their notable abilities are at-will Wall of Stone and at-will Persistent Image (also Limited Wishes which the Yakfolk can probably take advantage of). Those two SLAs seem to put a damper on the "get close to the cleric" strategy, so I'm not sure this is a sure win for the Jackblade.
  • There are still several elements of the level 15 SGT that are missing, especially including cases that I don't actually see this build doing very well on. Notably, the Fiends and attack-spamming groups.
But yes, that's a sound case for this being marked as Wizard-level. Possibly mostly due to the craziness of Devastating Critical on a TWF build with an acutally solid baseline.
I would like to see numbers on many of the fights that are glossed over here, and am not fully in the clear about what exactly Warblade 13-15 even does for anyone, but that's just curiosity. --Quantumboost 04:59, April 7, 2010 (UTC)
Blah, editing conflict.
Hearing about the Dao... well, both characters are probably screwed with readied action stone walls stopping them from getting to the cleric. That said, it also breaks line of sight for the cleric, and stone isn't hard to go through at that level, so I'm completely unsure on how it'd work. Maybe they'd both get the same result. Maybe they'd both lose. I'm just not sure.
As for what the warblade would get... they'd probably get one level 7 and one level 8 maneuver more than the JoS, and we'll say... Avalanche of Blades and Girallon Windmill Flesh Rip. Both are very nice maneuvers, but they're not going to be as strong as proccing a save-or-die 25% of the time (around twice per round on a full attack and we could probably have made it more with Disciple of Dispater and/or an Adaptive weapon with Lightning Maces, and even more when adding in Dancing Mongoose and adding in Pouncing Charge).
Making full stats... Ugh. It's a pain, especially since as soon as someone brings up something that needs to be changed, one can just add it with all the wealth one gets at level 15. Apart from the Dao, is there anything else you'd massively disagree with? Just the number of encounters that go from 50/50 to win is pretty much a case for labeling it Wizard IMO--that and the number of enemies who rely on physical attacks that one can fairly easily neutralize. --Ghostwheel 05:29, April 7, 2010 (UTC)
Nah, it does seem like this class is, overall, appropriately marked as Wizard-level. --Quantumboost 05:33, April 7, 2010 (UTC)
So I suppose I should have clarified this. The Parry ability can only be used against attacks from a weapon, or from touch attacks. Sorry about the mix-up, I was sure I had included that stipulation. I didn't even notice that I hadn't until I checked my watchlist and found that there was a bunch of activity on this page. STDoc 02:16, April 7, 2010 (UTC)
That doesn't change much though--still comes out about the same. Mind changing it to wizard-level? --Ghostwheel 06:26, April 7, 2010 (UTC)

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