Time for a a long overdue response to the most recent Eleven Foot Poll, which shows that you like playing leaders a lot, but strikers ever so slightly more.
Roles, of course, are something new to 4th Edition. Or at least, the delineation of roles as an explicit design goal is new. The aim is for every class to have something meaningful to do in combat, and with that in mind classes are split up into Leaders (who heal, and provide buffs and other benefits to allies), Controllers (who specialise in area of effect damage, debuffs, and enemy positioning), Defenders (the game's "tanks", who manage enemy target prioritisation and aim to absorb the majority of enemy attacks), and Strikers.
Strikers are probably the simplest of the four roles. Their job is to do damage. It's easy to measure whether you're a good striker - the more damage you do, the better you're performing.
The original Player's Handbook presented three Strikers - the Ranger and Rogue from the martial power source, and the Warlock as an arcane alternative. Subsequent expansions have added the Avenger (divine), Barbarian (primal), Sorceror (arcane) and Monk (psionic).
That's seven of the current (I think) 20 classes. Over a third of the playable class options are Strikers, which may have skewed the poll a little. (Leaders get 6, Controllers get 3, and Defenders get 4, for reference).
Is it accident that Strikers are so dispoproportionately common? Probably not. You'll note that our poll numbers aren't far off the overall class distribution, which suggests that the role proportions more or less line up with the distribution of play styles across the player base. Classes appear to have been assigned roles in proportion to the demand for that role.
So why do people like Strikers so much? The simplicity is an obvious factor. It's nice to know when you're doing your job well. On the surface, Strikers are the most visibly effective part of the team - newcomers to the game can clearly see Strikers doing more damage, while the benefits of the other classes might not be as immediately obvious.
Another issue is that strikers tend to have a high chance to hit. They're less susceptible to the frustrations of seeing a turn wasted on a miss, which makes them that much more enjoyable as a whole.
It's probably significant too that Rangers, Rogues and Avengers are all, flavour-wise, "outsiders". They're easily cast as loners and antiheroes who don't play by the rules and are secretly awesome. As detrimental as that kind of character can be to a game, there's no real question that it's an archetype that roleplayers love. Roleplaying has never been mainstream, and so a lot of players really identify with flavour that sees outcasts being both empowered and valued. It's basic wish fulfilment and it's what D&D does well.
What about you? What is it that you love about playing strikers? Or alternatively, why do the other roles work for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.