Use Your Daily Powers Every Day

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 3, 2009

Do you use all of your daily powers every day? If you’re anything like me, you’re reluctant to use them if they won’t yield the best possible results. But how often have you held your daily powers in reserve and then not had a chance to use them? I know this happens to me almost every time I play.

PCs in 4e D&D have numerous powers at their disposal. Encounter powers are tougher than at-will powers, and daily powers are tougher than encounter powers. So if the daily powers are the strongest in you PC’s arsenal why are they not being used more often? By not using your daily powers every day you are, in essence, putting your PC at a disadvantage and are less effective.

During most gaming sessions my actions tend to go like this during combat. Round 1, encounter power; round 2, encounter power; round 3 encounter power, round 4 and onwards at-will powers. I rarely use my daily powers. What usually ends up happening is that by the third or fourth combat encounter we either stop and take an extended rest, or we realize that one more fight is all we can handle for the day.

Resting now means I’ve once again held back daily powers only to have them go unused. Alternatively, knowing (or suspecting) that we only have one fight left I try to use all of my daily powers during one combat. This is true for most of my allies as well. So after struggling through the last three encounters we all start using our daily powers in the last fight. This makes combat boring for us (usually because it’s over so quickly) and incredibly frustrating for the DM, since his monsters are slaughtered with minimal effort.

Encounters are designed with balance in mind. The DMG provides very clear direction on how to build encounters that are suitable for PCs of a particular level. Part of this calculation assumes that the PCs will throw a couple of daily powers at the monsters every fight. If none are used then the PCs should find the battle tough. If everyone uses their daily powers in the same fight it should seem easier. By holding back, you’re making your job harder.

I’m going to propose a radical idea to all PCs. Why not use your daily powers in the first few rounds of the very first combat? The power may not be put to its fullest potential, but at least then you get a chance to use it. Of course if your daily power has a specific effect that just isn’t applicable at the beginning of combat, for example if it lets all allies spend a healing surge, then this isn’t the best idea. But as soon as a few of your allies need healing go ahead and use the daily power. What’s worse: using your daily power and not getting the absolute maximum benefit out of it; or going through three combat encounters and not using it at all?

How often do you use all of your PC’s daily powers? How often does your party take an extended rest and none of the PCs have a single daily power left? Would you rather use your daily power doing twice the necessary damage to drop your opponent or would you rather save it just in case?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Risan September 3, 2009 at 9:20 am

You need to look at it as a party resource, and not so much as individuals. Same for action points. Have a few party members use a daily, not everyone. I completely agree with using the most power at the beginning of the encounter, because this will hopefully drop the enemies faster resulting in less damage taken so you can fight more. So I like to open combat with an encounter power and position myself to use a daily. But as a party we try to conserve some of our power for later fights, so not everyone will use a daily in the same encounter unless needed.

2 DeadGod September 3, 2009 at 10:01 am

I think Risan has the idea. If you average four fights a day and have a party of four characters, that means one character per encounter can pop a daily to spread the love.

I think the most important thing to do with a daily power is to identify its purpose. When a situation comes up that could benefit from that purpose, then use the power! Use lots of damage to take out a priority target, use lots of healing to save your defender’s butt, use forced movement to get the controller out of a sticky melee situation.

The one caveat to this might be those situations where you know you are going to come in contact with a big-bad and might need that power.

3 Kensan_Oni September 3, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I often tend to pop a Daily Power in an early encounter, before the big end encounter. This is for 2 reasons 1) It speeds up the earlier fights a lot if it goes through, and 2) Design Philosophy of the game shows that encounters are completely winnable without ever using Dailies. While the “big encounter’ hold back is an ideal one, you never really have to hold back for that encounter, as you’ll do fine anyway.

… of course, maybe I just like using powers, and that gives others the heebee jebbee’s.

4 Ameron September 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

@Risan
It seems like good communication is the real key. The PCs need to talk to one another. Try to use a few daily powers during each combat and not horde them all until the end. It sounds like your group is better at this than mine is.

@DeadGod
Sound advice. One of the things we’ve found useful is for everyone to explain what their powers do (daily or otherwise) whenever they retrain or get new powers. If I can see a good opportunity for another PC to use his daily powers I can point it out, assuming I know what his power does. I like the idea of spreading the love with regards to daily powers. More PC need to take this approach (me included).

@Kensan_Oni
Using the daily powers early will definitely make the overall fight easier and should reduce the number of healing surges the party needs to use afterwards. I agree that very few encounters require a daily power in order to defeat it. Daily power may make it easier, but they aren’t usually necessary.

5 Wyatt September 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm

This is one of my goals in Eden, to try to make Daily powers more attractive. My idea is that at level 1, you should hold back your daily. At level 5, you should use a daily every 2 encounters. At level 9, you should use a daily every other encounter. I try to create feats and daily powers for this purpose.

For example, loads and loads and loads of Eden’s daily powers are Stances, even for the arcane/divine characters, because stances replace each other’s effects. This means that most of your dailies can give you an encounter-long boost, but you can’t stack them up. So using one each fight becomes more feasible and worthwhile.

I don’t like that 4e treats daily powers like they should be just a “huge attack” that you pop it and it’s gone…that just means you will hoard them so you can pop huge attacks one after the other when necessary and make mincemeat of the “boss battle”…they go unused all day.
.-= Wyatt´s last blog ..Wyatt Does Attack Math (This Can’t End Well) =-.

6 Swordgleam September 3, 2009 at 8:51 pm

My players tend to use their dailies as a group. If one player uses one, the rest follow suit. It’ll happen any time they think an encounter is especially tough – and given how I run my game (without bothering to do monster math) that’s about every other encounter.

I think part of it is how annoying it is to blow a daily for not much effect. Especially when one day of in-game time can last several sessions of gaming, when you use a daily, it’s gone for as long as a month of real-life time.

7 Wyatt September 3, 2009 at 9:28 pm

I think Wizard’s noticed that, because nowadays many Dailies have Effects, usually encounter-long ones, so even if the huge attack misses, you gain something from its use. This is part of the things I do with my own powers.
.-= Wyatt´s last blog ..Wyatt Does Defense Math (Oh Lawd) =-.

8 Ameron September 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm

@Wyatt
I think you’re on the right track. Daily powers that have an encounter-long effect are certainly more appealing to players.

When I’m the DM I strongly encourage my players to use their daily powers early and often. As mentioned above, you should never NEED a daily power to beat a monster.

@Swordgleam
The domino effect is common with my group too, but usually only in the last couple of fights. I’ve never seen it happen during the first encounter of the day. I think more daily powers should be reliable. That would minimize the disappointment if you miss.

9 gamerseuss July 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm

My players typically hold onto their dailies until the take the measure of an encounter, and in fact, open up with their at-wills. This is actually more sound tactically because among other things, I’m known for hiding who the big threat is, or even attacking in waves. I soften up the PCs with minions and lowlies first, then send in the Elite/Solo monsters to finish the job. I use my monsters very tactically, and thus, the PCs have to think tactically on their feat. Even at higher levels, where they have 3 or 4 of each Daily and Encounter, they know for optimum survivability, they need to make them count. I often laugh in maniacal glee when a Daily or even an Encounter is blown against a single minion or a foe down to only 2 or 3 hitpoints in the game.

My PCs go through anywhere from 2 to 8 encounters in a day, so they do need to conserve their Daily resources, and that means, they need to use their At-Wills and Encounters to their optimum effect. By the 7th or 8th encounter of a game-day, they are awful low on Surges afterall

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