Does the prone ranged defensive bonus apply to a creature hit by Flaming Sphere's initial attack?

Flaming Sphere is a nice low-level wizard power, but even the errata text is a little confusing.

Daily ✦ Arcane, Conjuration, Fire, Implement
Standard Action Ranged 10
Effect: You conjure a Medium flaming sphere that occupies a
square within range, and the sphere attacks. Any creature that starts its turn adjacent to the sphere takes 1d4 + Intelligence modifier fire damage. As a move action, you can move the sphere 6 squares.
Target: One creature adjacent to the flaming sphere
Attack: Intelligence vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d6 + Intelligence modifier fire damage.
Sustain Minor: You can sustain this power until the end of the encounter. As a standard action, you can make an‑ other attack with the sphere

The attack is a ranged 10, but this is only for placing the sphere. Effect then says "and the sphere attacks." and Target says "One creature adjacent to the flaming sphere".

Is that attack a melee attack?

It's not really the original ranged attack that places the sphere, it's an attack that takes place after that.

If an enemy is prone, would that give the prone enemy a bonus to defense since the power says it's a ranged attack?

Or does the prone creature not receive a defensive bonus, because the conjured sphere is right next to the prone creature?

-
Given this, and the other question posted regarding this attack, I think this power (and others like it) may be slightly broken in terms of rules verbiage. I suggest you submit these issues to WotC Customer Support for review. You'll probably get a response either stating that the power is entirely Ranged and all defenses/bonuses applicable to its use should be handled the same as any other Ranged attack, or that the issue is open to DM interpretation (as all rules ultimately are) and they'll submit it to R&D. – Iszi Feb 27 '11 at 8:00

I would say that your ranged attack merely generates the sphere (it's Effect line), and then the sphere attacks (which I'd treat as a melee attack, since the target has to be adjacent.)

-
+1. I also can't imaging lying down to be an effective defense against being rolled over by a sphere, or against a close burning fire of any kind, let alone the combination. – SevenSidedDie Feb 21 '11 at 19:22
Perhaps stop, drop, and roll? – Lunin Oct 26 '11 at 6:02

The sphere, unless otherwise stated, uses the range line of the power. So in this case it is a range 1. This is very different than a close burst 1 targeting 1 creature, and this is also different than a melee 1.

Especially in the particular case you are talking about. Melee attacks, regardless of the reach, have combat advantage against it. A ranged person normally would have a -2 against it. Unless he is next to the creature, in which case there is no penalty. Bursts and blasts also have no advantage or penalty. See 'Prone' in the compendium.

Another potential effect is that a ranged attack can generate an OA. Doesn't matter here since the sphere is a conjuration; although some conjurations do pop..

-

I think that the accepted answer is basically correct, in that the power doesn't say what sort of attack the sphere makes, and you should probably treat it like a Melee since that makes more sense than Close or Ranged.

However, even without knowing the type of attack, we can still give a RAW answer to your question:

Does the prone ranged defensive bonus apply to a creature hit by Flaming Sphere's initial attack?

No.

In the 'Prone' section of the Rules Compendium, starting on page 232 and continuing to 233, it says (emphasis mine):

The creature grants combat advantage to attackers making melee attacks against it, but it gains a +2 bonus to all defenses against ranged attacks from attackers that aren't adjacent to it.

So it definitely does not get the +2 bonus to defenses.

If you decide to treat the flame sphere's attack as a melee, then the creature would grant combat advantage to the attack.

-