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The PHB1 fighter and most other pre-essentials defenders use immediate actions to enforce their marks.

Unfortunately for this strategy Defenders are limited to only enforcing a single mark violation per round. The attack penalty from being marked still applies and is sometimes enough discouragement. However a bold enemy (or a bold DM) seeing the defender has expended his immediate action will ignore the defender and take a penalty to attack a squishier target.

I know at epic there is Rapid Combat Challenge for fighter that let you do combat challenge twice per round.

What is the best way for a defender to enforce his marks more than once per round?

NOTE: I mostly care about the heroic->paragon fighter, however I feel like some of the answers may be able to be generalized to other classes and tiers so please feel free to expand. Also please note a starting level/class/race combination.

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4 Answers 4

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The "correct" answer is that your assumptions are invalid. In my experience, a defender needing to enforce her mark more than once per round suggests both an over-zealous defender and an under-protected party.

However, in practical terms, if you're even asking this question it means that the "correct" answer isn't particularly useful. A defender should, most of the time, try to occupy the "tender mercies" of two enemies. They can, given their defenses, survive two enemies attacking them. If your GM is undaunted by mark-punishment there are a number of options, taken from my memory of the art of defending. There are 5 excellent threads here.

To rephrase your question in the realm of the practical then, the question is not simply "how do I enforce marks more than once per round" but "how do I attract and maintain the attention of two monsters?"

This raises the question of "aggro" and "stickiness". Aggro is a measure of how much a monster is inclined to hurt you. Having a painful punishment is an excellent way of raising aggro. Having high defenses is an excellent way of lowering aggro, especially if you consider the relative defenses of the defender and the party. If the defender is a low-damage wall, most sane monsters will simply ignore the wall. Don't be a wall. It's boring. (I speak from bitter experience here).

Stickiness is, effectively, soft control which prevents monsters who would otherwise move away from ... moving away. The fighter has failed to draw enough aggro and now must remind the monster to respect her. Defenders... vary... in terms of effective stickiness. Forced movement combined with a terrain feature of a wall or difficult terrain is an excellent sticky-amplifier, as is causing creatures to fall prone.

Therefore, some notes on how to manage aggro and stickiness as each type of defender at each tier.

Battlemind

The battlemind functionally has two "tiers" which are "before lightning rush" and "after lightning rush."

Before lightning rush

From levels 1-6, the battlemind is a fairly normal defender. They have absolutely no "sticky" capabilities, allowing marked monsters the free run of the place. To counterbalance, they are also quite happy to follow monsters if they are foolish enough to shift. With the right power choices (if your GM likes provoking) they can also perform quite punishing OAs.

To engage two monsters, both intent on attacking more squishy members of your party, you'll want to rely on conductive defense and vicious cobra strike. Conductive defense is a punishment stacker, dealing out primary damage as punishment whenever the enemy hits an ally. If the GM really is suicidal, combine it with mark of storm and flail expertise. Then they're prone and next to you. In order to attack someone else, they will have to provoke an OA from you (assuming no allies are in melee with them.) CD allows you to "sticky" one enemy by knocking it prone next to you with pseudo-punishment and keep another enemy marked. Don't forget the augment 1 to really discourage shifting. If you focus on this, your second at-will should be twisted eye for its augment 1: allowing you to use it on OA. (Or be a half-elf with eldritch strike). If enemies routinely violate your mark, go with a two-handed weapon. Not only will this lower your AC, (making you a more attractive target) but the BFWeapon in your hands will make most sane creatures think twice about giving you a free swing with it that debuffs them further.

After level 7 and lightning rush, the ability as an interrupt to whack an enemy who's silly enough to attack an ally within 5 squares of you is quite sufficient. The kicker here is to have a lightning (flail) with flail expertise and mark of storm (or be a half-elf). Then you can (if it's a melee attack) slide the enemy away from the ally, negating the attack, or, if they're a ranged attacker, get an OA then your lightning rush in. This should generate quite sufficient aggro, not to mention the proning and sliding shenanigans.

Cavalier

This class presents a few problems, to be honest. The defender aura is excellent for multiple-enforcement, and absolutely pathetic for actually doing your job of getting 2 enemies to attack you. It does, however, auto-damage whenever an enemy shifts out of the aura or attacks someone else while within it, so it does its job. The damage, however, is not sufficiently significant to worry an enemy who is attracted by the squishies surrounding you.

Righteous shield is a good 1/enc "no really, pay attention" but can't carry sufficient weight on its own. Given that your enforcement is OA based instead of II, shifting after your enemies isn't enough to maintain stickiness. The reduced daily count also isn't particularly impressive for this task. If you find yourself being in a position where the rest of your party is too squishy and the DM isn't respecting your radiance, your only real bet is to be human and grab power of earth and bolstering strike. Or, going by the recommendations of the charop guide, grab virtuous strike for power of arcana (white lotus hinderance is actually exceptionally good for stickiness if you can get your opponent against a wall) or power of the sun, which, to be fair, both does more damage and makes your radiance hurt far more, increasing your aggro, rather than your sticky. In higher tiers, it's about the same problem, but your dailies can compensate fairly well.

Knight

See above. Recently a series of feats for knights enhancing their power strike power have come out. Given that a knight performs an MBA on aura violation and slows on hit (you have hold the line, right?) there's no real "problem" with enforcing your aura against as many enemies as you want to hug. If you find that despite your quite impressive attacking capabilities they still want to be friends with your allies, you can invest in a lightning flail, flail expertise, and mark of storm to prone them, both when you attack with your MBA and when you punish them. Beyond that, the flail strike which prones them causes them to provoke when they stand from prone is absolutely delicious. This class is perfectly suited to multi-"marking" and insuring that enemies stick around. The only caveat is to consider your AC carefully, as you need to strike a balance between not being dead and having enemies dismiss your MBA as "weak" (more fool they). There's no real tier change in tactics.

Fighter

The fighter faces some difficulties in multi-marking, as noted in your question. However, fighters are past masters of both sticky and aggro-generation techniques.

In order to adequately assess a fighter, we must look at them in low heroic, high heroic, and paragon.

In low heroic, the best resource is the "battle-fury stance" By upping damage and dropping AC, you make your mark punishment non-trivially painful and increase the enemy's desire to attack you. This, combined with deft hurler cleave or dual strike is more than sufficient to lock down two targets with sufficient threat generation. If one target decides to provoke your MBA is more than sufficiently painful to punish him for that decision. Another option is the spear benefit of weapon master's strike, which causes them to provoke while shifting. This excellent power means that you can, quite literally, stop shifts (due to combat superiority).

If both enemies decide to break away (repeatedly) your best bet is to use tide of iron to position them against a surface. This way, they cannot shift-charge without provoking. While you can't tide both of them, mark of storm and a pair of lightning weapons (yes, this is starting to cost) with dual strike is more than enough to see the positioning through.

In high heroic, the sliding can be improved with rushing cleats a bludgeon expertise. With a slide 3 (from mark of storm or tide of iron), you'll be able to position your enemies exactly where you want them. Come and Get it (level 7 encounter power) is also effective in this regard. You may also want to investigate "Binding Style" which flat-out immobilizes the second target of dual strike. In this vein, you may want to consider a "net multiclass" to slow targets of your net attacks. Since a net is an off-hand weapon, it is an absolutely fantastic control technique, especially when combined with a slide.

In paragon, the level 16 gladiator champion dispenses with trickery and simply makes you undeniably sticky: Enemies cannot shift away from you. Period. Kulkor Arms Master rewards you significantly for proning opponents (quite achievable in many ways) and is considered one of the cheesiest fighter PPs. Son of Mercy is a bit single-target for your requirements, but is a lovely complement to dual strike for both damange and control of the person you don't have cornered.

Paladin

Paladins get both divine challenge and divine sanction. While the amount of punishment isn't particularly impressive, they can challenge and sanction different people, and accomplish multiple punishment actions in a turn, no extra stuff (beyond an at-will that can sanction) necessary.

Swordmage

Swordmages are.. difficult defenders to play. Assuming you're in paragon and have double-marking, your main recourse here is to mark (of shielding) someone and then ignore them, focusing your attacks on a second enemy. While there are no penalties for that second enemy to shift-charge away, sliding and/or proning that second enemy is a good "second best"

Warden

Wardens are absolutely fantastic at sticky, having a number of daily forms that create difficult terrain around them, as well as powers that slow (and feats that up damage of powers that slow.) Multi-target sticky is more difficult, and mainly is a result of form of winter's herald and treacherous ice. At-will sticky is from slowing a target that isn't pinned against the wall. Wardens have excellent PP options for difficult terrain and forced movement, the level 16 forced movement and the daily 20 polymorph are exactly what's needed in this situation. You may want to invest in feats which up the penalty to attacks from your mark, as multi-marking is trivial. Don't forget to take sudden roots. Mark of warding is one of them, as is razorclaw mark (not the best choice of race, but... interesting from an RP point of view). With a -3 to attack rolls and the soft control of slowing, immobilizing, and/or forced movement, you should be able to keep two targets engaged without difficulty.

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There are a few strategies to help with this, but essentially you can't keep a monster from attacking who it (the DM) wants. You can only give it stronger discouragement. The following methods should help with that.

  • Positioning- Position yourself between the enemies and the squishier members of your party. This strategy relies on the cooperation of your allies, and some extra mobility as a fighter. You can use items, utility powers, and even some attack powers to get extra shifts on your turn, allowing you to get into position. Keep in mind that you don't have to block the enemy's path to your party, just make sure they have to move through your threat range. A high Wisdom score helps with this, for the bonus it grants to opportunity attacks.

  • Feats- As a fighter, especially in paragon tier, there are several feats you can take to improve the penalties granted by your marks, or grant nearby allies increased defenses. Sideways Defense (heroic) grants adjacent allies +1 to defenses against marked enemies. Daunting Challenge (paragon) increases the attack penalty of the mark to -3. Tactical Superiority allows you to restrict enemy movement even more when they try to get past you.

  • Taunts- Lastly, from a role-playing perspective, you can try taunting the enemies. This gives the DM more reason to make them attack you. This method will rely on the creativity and originality of the taunts, your DM's cooperativeness, and the type of enemy you are facing. Calling a mindless undead skeleton a "worthless bag of bones" is unlikely to affect its actions, but taunting the necromancer controlling them might.

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I like the creativity to your last point, although I will mention that this merely adds a role playing aspect to what a mark mechanically is already accomplishing. (mark is the mechanical abstraction of a taunt or some other invitation to aggression against the defender). –  wax eagle Oct 28 '11 at 17:01
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I'd say that the mark mechanic means is that the marked target is wary of the defender, since he has recently been harried by him. More of a distraction than a desire for aggression against the fighter and not others. –  Jason White Oct 28 '11 at 18:27
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Would the taunt be a diplomacy/Intimidate action, or are you just suggesting RP and DM cooperativeness? –  GMNoob Oct 29 '11 at 18:18
    
I hadn't even thought of using diplomacy or intimidate to maintain threat. The taunt was supposed to just be a role-playing method of making a target want to hit you. Obviously this does rely on the DM's cooperation. –  Jason White Oct 30 '11 at 23:11

Stances!

There are a few themes and multiclassing that allow you to make opportunity attacks similar to your Combat Challenge. These stances come at the cos of a Daily though.

The best OA stances come from being a ranger though, so that is a 2 feat swallow.

Spike Chain multiclass at lv.10 gives you threatening reach close bust 2 Daily.

Conditions!

Invest in magic weapons or feats that constantly blind, deafen, immobilize or restrain.

NOTE: If you haven't guessed it by now, there is little to no ways to get more immediate actions per round.The only way around this depends on your DM. See if he would let you swap out the Combat Challenge for defender's aura. It's technically legal but only if the DM can accept it.

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Play a Paladin. Their threats, both Divine Challenge and Divine Sanction, are No Action on swing, not hit. A number of other abilities, such as Shield the Virtuous, do damage for free even when unmarked.

Or a Battlmind. There are a few at-wills that do free things when monsters attack that do not require marking, unfortunately most of these only apply to the one you hit.

  • Ghost in the Steel - Wis mod psychic damage next time it attacks.
  • Demon Dance - a -5 penalty to OAs, making it easier for your allies to get out of there, or move to flank
  • Twisted Eye - penalty to attacks equal the number of allies around it
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