E0M3: Basic Training

As the GenCon 2013 Tournament of Champions, and other various events, loom black and approaching upon the deadly horizon, we look to sharpen our blades. To that effect, this article aims to provide some basic tips and tricks for newcomers to use when building their dungeoneers. After all, none of us want an easy victory. If we did, we wouldn't be playing Fourthcore. Thus, I encourage the FTDM veterans out there to lend in their suggestions as well. New players reading this and improving their skills will only serve to make a better deathmatch.

Non-AC Defenses

A major difference in strategy with Fourthcore Team Death, as opposed to standard 4E D&D, is mathematics behind combat. In standard 4E D&D, enemies (ie. monsters) have a certain limited range of defenses. In FTDM, however, that assumption is thrown out of the window completely.

The 1st Level characters that FTDM requires, by and large, have at least one easy-to-hit weak point in their defenses. Very few enemies you will be seeing at these events has their lowest non-AC defense much higher than 12, and sometimes far lower.

So, when building your deathmatch dungeoneer, a common strategy is to have a variety of attacks that target different defenses, and to always go after the low defenses on the table. Defenses must all be displayed publicly during a match, so it is just a matter of vigilance and cunning to exploit your enemies' weaknesses.

A Trick Up Your Sleeve

When choosing at-will and encounter attack powers, keep an eye out for attacks that confer useful situational bonuses that can be exploited for different contingencies. A great example of this would be an attack power that can be used as a basic attack when your dungeoneer doesn't otherwise have strong basic attacks. Your encounter powers get recharged very often via the Respawn mechanic, typically about every other round, so don't always assume that it is a better choice than using an at-will attack.

Read the Maps, Use the Terrain

Just as simple as that, the most important thing you can do to prepare for a FTDM match is to read the map and understand how it functions. Using map powers to your advantage can rack up many kills without ever having to dip into your own attacks. Each map has its own unique features, be sure to understand them well.

Long-Lasting Dailies

Many Daily attack powers have effects that last until the end of an encounter. These effects carry on through death and are treated as boons that last an entire match, so be sure to keep an eye out for daily attacks that have better end of encounter effects, even if the damage output isn't as high as others.


Skills are used rarely in FTDM, but like anything else, they can be optimized and should not be ignored. Athletics and Acrobatics are the most used skills in FTDM, to jump over hazards and reduce falling damage respectively, so they should never be ignored. You should also take a good look at the maps' terrain powers and see if any special skill checks are called for, such as in the skill-check heavy map E1M9: RUN! or E5M1: 2FORT, which has special benefits associated with skill training.

Lastly, don't forget to choose a Background. Though some special boons, such as Themes, are disallowed in FTDM; non-Forgotten Realms Backgrounds are still FTDM-legal. Unless the maps you are playing on dictate otherwise, look for Backgrounds to enhance either your Athletics or Acrobatics checks.


  1. We've also seen Perception be useful in some circumstances. Cursed Drow!

  2. The potential of controllers (and controlling effects) to influence the battlefield cannot be understated. Study the map(s) and think of ways to manipulate enemies without rolling dice, or to maximize relatively low attack bonuses gainst NADs (as Ross notes above). Many classes have powers that trigger effects on either a hit or miss, and these are great ways to make sure your character functions irrespective of random chance.

    Also, winning often is a result of not dying the most, rather than getting the most kills. Leader-hybrid builds abound in this game and are always useful. Related to this, mutli-classing and hybrids are great ways to get that ace-in-the-hole feature or power that your enemies probably won't expect.

  3. In FTDM, each choice you make during character creation is big, and one near the top of the list for me is Feat selection. Each character gets only 1 Feat, unless you build with a specific race to get an extra one.

    A newbie FTDM'er might simply think to pick up a weapon proficiency and be done. That's not a bad choice, you want to be as accurate as possible, and for some builds, it's absolutely crucial to hit as often as you can to get your encounter powers and class abilities to fire off.

    However as the theory craft unfolds, there are many Feats that under normal D&D play, are absolute crap, but in FTDM really shine. Any Feat that has a specific combat purpose can now be built around, and into an effective character. By listening to the veteran FTDM'ers, you'll hear of a few cornerstone Feats that they prefer for their character builds, but the point here is that every combat and utility Feat can be put to good use if properly planned for.

    At one match, I saw a whole team take toughness, and build high CON characters. They were easy to hit, but they had enough HP across their team to ACCOUNT FOR A WHOLE EXTRA PERSON, and in the end that team's Feat selection is what won them the match. In FTDM, never look down on someone's Feat selection, there's probably a good reason they took what they did.

  4. FTDM Fragging for Dummies:

    Human Fire Elementalist

    Take Heroic Effort.
    Max Charisma. 13 Str/13 Con if using Disciple of Destruction. 14 Con otherwise.

    Snag Climber's Kit & Dagger Boots for +4 to Climb checks.
    Sunrod to eliminate lighting from ever being an issue.
    Hurler Snatchers to throw items a distance when necessary.

    L1 Feat: Disciple of Destruction for Killing Spree instagib fun or Binder Initiate (Gloom Pact) for control + forced movement.
    Human Feat: Incendiary Dagger

    That is all.

    1. Oh, and you'll of course want to add and take Athletics training from your class skill list via your background choice; easily the most used skill in all of FTDM.

      Whether you take Ignition or Blazing Cloud really depends on how cramped the maps are, though you can shift 3 with Elemental Escalation before Opportunity Attacks occur.

  5. All great suggestions. A lot of these are going into a little more depth and probably deserve their own write-up, don't you think?

    1. Would be nice to have an official FTDM forum where we could discuss/elaborate on these sorts of things in further detail.

    2. BOOM!


      I've had a lot of success using Google+ Communities recently, and there are enough bells & whistles so that I can keep any forum trolls out. Plus, not many firewalls block Google.