Lair Assault is the ultimate challenge for veteran Dungeons and Dragons players. A challenge like this means there is no room for error, and no screwing around when you create characters and build your party. Every hit point, and every point of damage counts. Even the smallest details can mean the difference between life and death. If the Lair Assault program isn’t a training ground for the DnD Championships, I don’t know what is! So what are you waiting for? Get a group together to assault the lair right now!
Step 1: Rally the Troops
If you have the luxury of knowing some of the people you might play lair assault with, you should make some phone calls or start an email thread to build your roster. Your first line of defense in this challenge will be good communication with your fellow players, in and out of game.
Like any serious competition, you will need to work effectively with your team members to be successful. If a single person makes a big mistake, it could bring the whole team down. Discuss your strategy and tactics prior to your lair assault game, and discuss your results afterwards. Continue to build on what you learn until you are able to overcome the challenge. And if your group works hard, and beats the lair, then you will be ready to take on the insanely deadly nightmare mode!
Step 2: Decide on a Strategy
Once you have a roster of players, discuss your strategy and the tactics you want to use. Does your party want to abuse a status/feat combination, like abilities that knock opponents prone, and strikers with the Headman’s Chop feat?
Do you want to play 5 ranged strikers with multi-class healing feats and one defender? Or will you dedicate a player to every role? Given that this is a timed event, how will you decide whether or not to kill certain monsters? Who in the group has the power to make calls during play?
A lot of players will not have the luxury of carefully planning their party makeup in advance, so I would advice these players to bring multiple characters to the lair assault table. This will help ensure that you can fill whatever role is needed on a given night.
What is the party’s marching order? The first person to enter each room in the lair will certainly affect how much damage the party takes. To control this, here’s a random strategy idea I had:
- Dexterity based class with high initiative +
- Casque of Tactics (head slot) +
- Character Background “Trained from Birth for a Specific Prophecy”
= the defender is almost guaranteed to go first.
This combination of abilities allows the dex character (most likely a ranged striker) to make an initiative roll at +8 bonus or higher (adding improved initiative would make it at least +12). With “Casque of Tactics”, the dex character can swap initiatives with a willing ally within 5 squares. Finally, the background allows the dex character to reroll initiative once per day.
With this strategy, one ranged striker can sacrifice a small amount of damage output to ensure that the party’s tin can man is front and center. This allows the defender to specialize more acutely on defenses and hit points, and should, overall, decrease the damage per character over the course of the encounter.
Step 3: Fill the Roster
Once you have a high level strategy, create your characters! Peer reviews will help ensure you made the best decisions possible. Balanced parties are a must, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to dedicate a player to each role. Many classes can serve dual purposes depending on the build and powers that are chosen. For example, I’m not convinced that any party really needs a dedicated controller… unless after the first run you realize there are a ton of minions. Strikers with burst/blast/multi-target powers, or a Dragonborn’s breath weapon can do the job in some cases.
I very much doubt that any group will have more than one defender. I also doubt that any group will have more than two leaders. Since this is a timed challenge, damage output will be king. Strikers wanted! If I were to assemble a group, I would probably have one tin can dwarven defender (paladin to grant temporary hit points), one leader with forced movement and bonus attack abilities (likely Bard or Warlord), one leader that can grant saving throws and more temporary hit points or damage resistance (possibly a Warpriest Sun Cleric), and two ranged strikers (possibly both elven thieves with greatbows and the treetop sniper feat). I would seriously consider removing one of the leaders in favor of another striker. Maybe use an essentials druid as one of the leaders… they are practically strikers anyway!
Race will also have a big impact. Will you choose Dwarf to second wind as a minor action, and resist forced movement? Will you choose Eladrin to teleport your way out of trouble? Will you choose Genasi for racial damage resistance? Or how about Bugbear for an oversized weapon? Race also affects glory awards. If you want to receive the “Racy Group” glory award, for example, the entire party must be the same race!
Step 4: Execute Strategy According to Plan
The best laid plans are worthless if you don’t follow them. Stick to the plan, and follow the orders of your team (or team captain) if you are not sure what to do. If you follow a clear plan and it fails, it will be easier to modify the plan afterwards. If you attempt the lair assault challenge in a haphazard manner, it will much more difficult to determine which elements of the encounter led to your downfall.
Step 5: Learn From Your Mistakes
Throughout the encounter, take notes on what happened to facilitate more accurate analysis later on. Keep track of the damage you dish out, and that you take. Figure out the hit points and defenses of your opponents so you can play smarter the next time through. Discuss each lair assault run after you are finished and decide if you need to rethink your strategy, character design, or item choices.
Your Party Suggestions
Do you have a fantastic party strategy idea? Are there any specific tactics you plan to use? Let us know! And don’t forget– unlike the D&D encounters program, this is meant to be devastating, excruciating, and painfully difficult. I hope you have fun, and don’t give up!