In my opinion, the Essentials hunter is hands-down, one of the most effective controller classes published for Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons — and WotC published a bunch of controller classes. There’s the wizards, the invoker, and the druid for starters — there are actually five different wizards.

But despite having some of the coolest powers in the game (including summoning, I mean really), controllers lag far behind the rest of the classes in both damage and basic role effectiveness. Controllers might have decent access to action denial conditions like dazed and stunned, but that isn’t really control.

Here’s my Scourge class for reference:
Essentials Dungeons & Dragons Scourge Class (v0.1)

This class goes beyond 1st level and spans all three tiers of play.

You know what the epitome of control is? Damage. You heard me. Sure, status effects are nice, but status effects are a cheap stand-in for damage. And you want to know why 4e controllers suck? They don’t do much damage. Oh, and most of their decent status effects are locked away in encounter and daily powers.

First, a controller needs to be able to hit in order to be able to deal damage, and that’s why many controllers target “NADs,” or Non-Armor Class Defenses. NADs are typically lower than AC by at least two points, but this can be a crap shoot because monsters don’t follow the same rules as player characters. Oh, you didn’t know?

Next, a controller needs reliable effects or they simply can’t do their job. That’s why many controller powers have an effect that still occurs on a miss, or an aftereffect that takes place after their target makes a saving throw, or effects that don’t rely on dice at all, but rather occur based on enemy positioning — such as via zones.

Well, they would if these powers weren’t largely available on a per-encounter or per-day basis. Many of them suffer from the “too awesome to use” problem.

Encounter types can vary dramatically in Fourth Edition, and for that reason it can be difficult to determine whether a power is appropriate or not — and if your GM isn’t inclined to make much use of maps and minis, your best powers are a bust.

So what does the scourge do? Well the scourge is a rogue that does what the hunter does with bows at a distance … with flails at close range. The scourge can take a bit more punishment in close combat than the hunter, and though lacks somewhat in mobility, makes up for it in raw control and damage potential.

Originally I’d hoped to make the scourge a controller based on the fighter, but I realized as I developed it that I wanted to lock away some of its potential behind the combat advantage mechanic — which falls under the purview of the rogue, who is (beyond reasonable doubt) the unequivocal king (or queen) of combat advantage.

Once I started thinking about the scourge in terms of the rogue, many of the basic features fell into place automatically. This class leans heavy on combat advantage and likes to work with flankers (or either Cunning Stalker or Vicious Advantage).

The experiment continues! Play at your own risk!