Work too long with a complex system and you start to make assumptions. Bad assumptions. Yesterday I was musing about area attacks with the weapon keyword, wondering whether or not they’re considered melee attacks and thinking that that would be an awfully uncomfortable conversation to have with players if it were so. Turns out that I’m an idiot. Everything I needed was right there in front of me, I just hadn’t considered it and this is one of those things that WotC never seems to discuss.
“Melee” is either an attack type or a range description. Otherwise, it is not a keyword. The “type” pulldown on the Monster Builder lists six power types: none, melee, close blast, close burst, ranged and area. Once you choose one of these types, the power inherits certain characteristics. Looked at in this light, the PHB wording is actually very clear:
Targeted: Melee attacks target individuals. A melee attack against multiple enemies consists of separate attacks, each with its own attack roll and damage roll. Melee attacks don’t create areas of effect.
Melee attacks have a defined number of targets; close and area attacks do not. Come and Get It is not a melee attack because it has an area of effect. All I really had to do is look at the darned icon.
Is this what WotC intended? I think yes. The most recent revision to the monster customization rules says that, in general, you should use the “low” damage expression for attacks that target more than one creature. In that light, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that most damage boosts, especially large ones like Hellsworn Blessing, would not apply to close and area attacks. It feels elegant and deliberate. Why then doesn’t WotC explain this? I suspect this is largely because the concept is difficult to justify in a non-mechanical sense. That still seems like a very unpleasant conversation to have.