I'm bored, I love Warlord's, and I've always wanted to know if I had what it takes to make a handbook. Well I do. Wasn't sure what format to use, but I guess I'm going to go with what is referred to as LordDuskBlade's format. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Obviously, these choices will be based on my opinions, so if you feel that I'm wrong or that I missed something, say so.
I'm going to be breaking this up into separate blogs instead of posting in a message board. However, I may post it afterward, as I think that may still be the popular format (I know I don't check blogs unless I have a direct link from the boards).
What Warlords do...
If you ever see a Warlord on the battlefield and it looks like he's not doing anything, you're wrong. At any given time, the Warlord is quite busy being awesome. Even if you want to claim that Warlords are not the best leader class (you'd be wrong though), he is the only leader so far that can help the party JUST BY BEING ON THE FIELD! Combat Leader gives all party members (including yourself) a +2 bonus to initiative. All Warlords also have a Commanding Presence bonus that triggers on an action point, though the effects differ depending on your selected presence. Each Warlord presence can be played as very different leaders. Here is a general diagnosis of how each Commanding Presence plays on the field as well as the Action point bonus they confer:
Inspiring Presence: When an ally uses an action point, they regain hit points equal to your Charisma modifier + half of your level. Not a useless feature, but the problem is is that an action point should not be used or saved for when you need a heal. Not to sound like a strict power gamer here, but action points are best used for Nova turns. This bonus offers no help in this situation (not that regaining hit points is bad). What I will say for the Inspiring Presence is that it brings with it some pretty strong rider effects (the effects listed on a power that are only eligible with a certain feature). This build is the closest thing to a commited healer among the Warlord presences. Gives out lot's extra healing and saving throw bonuses. Inspiring bonuses also tend to be extra damage instead of increased attack bonuses, and attack bonuses that are given out are generally smaller when compared to the Taclord's. Resourceful Presence: Interesting to say the least. This build generally splits it's ability points between Charisma and Intelligence, with Strength still being the primary. When an ally spends an action point to make an attack, a hit will get a damage bonus equal to one-half your level as well as your Intelligence modifier. If the attack misses, the ally gains temporary hit points equal to one-half your level plus your Charisma modifier. If an ally uses an action point to attack, he gets a pretty decent bonus either way. This guy gets some relatively interesting powers, in that most require Intelligence and Charisma to be optimal. This build also gets some use out of wielding a heavy thrown weapon, although it is far from necessary, and not necessarily optimal. This build offers a mix of everything that the Warlord class can offer (that's the theme here). Bravura Presence: When an ally uses an action point to make an attack, they can CHOOSE to take advantage of this Warlord's Presence. If they choose to use it, a successful hit will allow the ally to make a free basic attack or take a move action for free. If the attack misses, the ally grants combat advantage to all enemies until the end of his next turn. Very powerful action point bonus. In my opinion, the problem with the Bravura Warlord, the Bravelord, is the way his powers work, and hence the way you need to play him. A few words to describe a Bravelords playstyle: Reckless, Headstrong, Daring, Fearless, Opportunistic. If these sound like your play style, this may be the guy you're looking for.
Inspiring Presence: When an ally uses an action point, they regain hit points equal to your Charisma modifier + half of your level. Not a useless feature, but the problem is is that an action point should not be used or saved for when you need a heal. Not to sound like a strict power gamer here, but action points are best used for Nova turns. This bonus offers no help in this situation (not that regaining hit points is bad). What I will say for the Inspiring Presence is that it brings with it some pretty strong rider effects (the effects listed on a power that are only eligible with a certain feature). This build is the closest thing to a commited healer among the Warlord presences. Gives out lot's extra healing and saving throw bonuses. Inspiring bonuses also tend to be extra damage instead of increased attack bonuses, and attack bonuses that are given out are generally smaller when compared to the Taclord's.
Resourceful Presence: Interesting to say the least. This build generally splits it's ability points between Charisma and Intelligence, with Strength still being the primary. When an ally spends an action point to make an attack, a hit will get a damage bonus equal to one-half your level as well as your Intelligence modifier. If the attack misses, the ally gains temporary hit points equal to one-half your level plus your Charisma modifier. If an ally uses an action point to attack, he gets a pretty decent bonus either way. This guy gets some relatively interesting powers, in that most require Intelligence and Charisma to be optimal. This build also gets some use out of wielding a heavy thrown weapon, although it is far from necessary, and not necessarily optimal. This build offers a mix of everything that the Warlord class can offer (that's the theme here).
Bravura Presence: When an ally uses an action point to make an attack, they can CHOOSE to take advantage of this Warlord's Presence. If they choose to use it, a successful hit will allow the ally to make a free basic attack or take a move action for free. If the attack misses, the ally grants combat advantage to all enemies until the end of his next turn. Very powerful action point bonus. In my opinion, the problem with the Bravura Warlord, the Bravelord, is the way his powers work, and hence the way you need to play him. A few words to describe a Bravelords playstyle: Reckless, Headstrong, Daring, Fearless, Opportunistic. If these sound like your play style, this may be the guy you're looking for.
How to Read this Guide
Taclord= Tactical Warlord
Bravelord= Bravura Warlord
Inspiralord= Inspirational Warlord
Resourcelord= Resourceful Warlord
CA= Combat Advantage
OA= Opportunitay Attack
BA= Basic Attack
MBA= Melee Basic Attack
RBA= Ranged Basic Attack
CS= Commander's Strike
OS= Opening Shove
WPT= Wolf Pack Tactics
FS= Furious Smash
VS= Viper's Strike
RA= Rousing Assault
AP= Action Point
Crit= Critical Hit
This is the Standard Char-op Color Rating System:
Red: Complete and utter junk. This is either completely useless or overshadowed entirely by another, better option.
Purple: Can be useful in certain situations, but generally, powers like this get a response of 'meh.'
Black: This is an OK power; you could do worse. But it could be better.
Blue: Good stuff. You want this, but there's one ranking that's even better.
Sky Blue: Absolutely amazing. If at all possible, get this power.
Know the difference between Basic Attacks, Ranged Basic Attacks and Melee Basic Attacks. If a power gives a BA, a character makes an RBA or MBA. If a power gives a MBA, you get an MBA, a RBA is not an option. This will be a common thing to look for when reading powers.
You are not your own ally. One more time, as this really is quite unclear to the unexperienced. YOUR ARE NOT YOUR OWN ALLY! If a power, effect or ability that targets allies does not specifically target you also (it will read something like "You and all allies"), you recieve no benefit from it.
Because of the above statement, keep in mind that most of your power's and abilities do not hand out attack bonuses and the like to you. Therefore, it is necessary to occasionally go out of the way to pick up something for yourself, wether through a magical item and/or utility powers, to get your own attack bonuses. Many of your powers offer little to no help to the party if you don't actually hit. Buffing yourself is often step one to buffing the party.
This is a reiteration of the above statements, but I feel it is important to list, as it is very easy to overlook again. You don't get any bonus on your action points from your own Commanding Presence ability. Sorry.
In this guide, I will occasionally describe a power as being a basic attack. This is only a power comparison, and does not mean the power can be used in place of a basic attack. A basic attack is 1W+ Str mod, so if that is the damage a hit does, I may say that it is a basic attack.
Do you have what it takes to be a Warlord?
Let's review the races that can make a good Warlord. Unlike most guides, I'm not gonna bother with races that don't belong anywhere near this class. Here we go:
Eladrin- Sky Blue for Taclords only. Offers some interesting feats and Paragon Path for Tactical Lords. Fey Step is very useful on a Taclord, and can be abused by combining with Fey Charge and/or Fey Tactics. This is the most well known and exceptable reason to start with a secondary stat higher than your primary (most eladrin taclords start with a 16/18 Str/Int).
Half-Elf- Best for Inspiring and Bravura Warlords. Gives access to Human and Elf feats, as well as the diletante power. This race would not be Sky Blue if it weren't for the Versatile Master feat.
Halfling- Bumps Charisma and Dex, so it's a decent choice for Bravura and Inspiring Warlords. Oddly, it's a fitting race for some Bravelords, with racial abilities and an encounter power that really help the build.
Human- I value them at Blue here, but that is widely disagreed upon. They do have a lot going for them here though. Extra at-will, +1 to all NADs (which is argued to make up for the second stat bump, extra skill, extra feat (that's a biggie) as well as the option to choose where your single stat bump goes to (double edged sword). They also have acess to some pretty strong feats, and some people are a fan of adroit explorer, though I haven't looked at it yet much.
Tiefling- Fine choice for any Warlord, but does best as a Resourceful Warlord. Decent racial powers and a good stat bump make him a very strong choice all around.
Deva- No business being anything except a Tactical Warlord. The lack of a Strength bump hurts, and Wisdom is useless for most builds, although this guy would work very well for a polearm Taclord. I'm actually surprised I haven't seen a few of these builds. I bet they'll get some feat support soon. Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes is a very strong power for a Taclord too, as his accuracy would be slightly subpar on this build, and his hitting is very beneficial to the entire party. Astral Resistance is likely to see a bit of use too I'm sure.
Gnome- Same stat bumps as the Tiefling, but the powers aren't as good, especially with this class. Fade away is a big part of the Gnome's power, and being invisible is very bad for a Warlord (if he care's about his party members). It’s also been pointed out that Gnomes have a speed 5… That means that if you are gonna wear heavy armor (which is most presences other than Tactical), you are gonna have a speed 4. That’s unacceptable.
Goliath- Not a bad choice, just nowhere near optimal. Strength bump makes him a decent choice for any presence, and Constitution never hurts. Would be a good choice for a player that wants to be a Warlord, but still want's to deal some decent damage.
Half-Orc- See Goliath
Changeling- See Gnome (changing shape may remove your abilities that only work when party has sight of you, DM decision)
Drow- No Strength bump. Once again, hiding from everyone is bad for a Warlord.
Genasi- Only Race that bumps Strength and Intelligence. Great pick for Tactical and Resourceful Warlords. Earthsoul is generally hailed as the better manifestation for Warlords.
Minotaur- Same as Goliath and Half-Orc. Decent choice for Bravura Warlords, maybe Blue here.
Shadar-Kai- Not bad for a Taclord... You're better off as an Eladrin.
Warforged- Decent and interesting choice for any presence.
A Warlord’s tool is his weapon, whether it be to strike a foe himself, or to provide an opportunity for an ally to do so. Lets see some of the Weapons a Warlord does well with.
Long Sword/ Bastard Sword- Great weapon choice for a warlord. Nothing fancy, just a heavy blade, which opens up Heavy blade opportunity and Heavy Blade Mastery (which is unfortunately about the only Weapon Mastery most Warlords have any chance of or business taking). Any weapon with a +3 proficiency is a great choice for a Warlord. Spending the feat for the Bastard Sword upgrade is totally up to the player, as more damage is only good, but a purely leading Warlord may not have room for this expense.
Double Sword- Taking a double weapon is completely dependant on your build. If you want to take Twin Strike or take the TWF feats, then a Double Sword may be a good choice for you. However, if you are playing a standard Warlord with no need for a second weapon, you’re better off spending the Proficiency feat on a Bastard Sword or Heavy Shield. Edit: Recently errated to remove the Heavy Blade Property as well as changing the weapon to deal d6 damage on both sides. Not a really big deal for Warlords, although it is enough to make it less appealing and drop it’s rating down.
Drow Long Knife- It’s a +3 proficiency Off-hand Heavy Thrown Heavy Blade. It may take a feat and only do d6 damage, but you won’t find another Heavy Thrown weapon like this. Only advisable for Resourcelords that choose a lot of powers that require a heavy thrown weapon. I don’t suggest picking this up just because you can throw it without having powers that require it.
Falchion- You don’t need a two handed weapon. You’re much better off having your shield in your off hand. If you are focused only on damage though, this is a strong weapon that requires no feat. High Crit.
Fullblade- Same as Falchion, but requires a feat.
Glaive- the Glaive is a popular weapon because it has reach and counts as a heavy blade and a spear. The two big downsides are that it only has a +2 proficiency and requires 2 hands to wield. I don’t suggest this weapon, as it takes a significant investment into Wisdom and Dex, which are tertiary stats for a Warlord, which they really can’t afford.
Greatspear- Fantastic weapon for any warlord. This weapon is exceptional for a Taclord, especially the Eladrin variety, due to the Eladrin Soldier feat (which will give proficiency and a damage bonus for this weapon). You can’t wield a shield with this weapon, but reach will help with that.
Greatsword- See Falchion, no High Crit though.
Longspear- Identical to the Great Spear, but has a +2 proficiency. If you want this type of weapon, you must take the Greatspear, the +1 to hit is essential for any Warlord.
Parrying Dagger- Enchanting this with the Rhythm Blade enchantment is a nice alternative to the heavy shield (less of a check penalty). If you want to eek out every bit of AC possible, then this can combine with the TWF feat and Two Weapon Defense for a total of a +3 bonus to AC coming from your offhand. Not for all builds.
Spiked Chain- If you want a double weapon and reach, this is the only way to go. Unfortunately, Warlords don’t get a whole lot of use from flails.
Whip- If you have Commander’s Strike, buy a whip. I didn’t say get whip proficiency, just have one in your inventory. Even if you are not proficient with this weapon, you can still use the reach property to target an enemy for Commander’s strike. Annoying little trick that’s useful when there’s not a lot of room around the big bad.
Warlords Tools: Magical Items
Magic weapons are so build dependant, I'm not even gonna bother color rating these. I'm just going to list Magical Items that are useful in some or most Warlord builds, with a brief discription.
Farbond Spellblade (AV2): Not an optimal weapon for any build, but useful in any. Great for Resourcelords who want a damaging weapon and the ability to use the Heavy Thrown Weapon Powers.
Goblin Totem (FRCG): If you're a Smallord, this is a nice damage bonus.
Hungry Spear (AV2): Farbond Spellblade, but better. Requires a Spear though.
Battlecrazed Weapon (AV): I'm sure a Bravelord can put this to good use.
Battlemaster's Weapon (AV): Regaining an encounter power once a day can be useful.
Blade of the Eldritch Knight (AV2): Essentially reach 5 for most of your attacks. You can find some use in this weapon.
Flaming Weapon (PHB): This is probably the weapon you want if you are playing a TieflingLord.
Inescapable Weapon (AV): When you miss, you get an attack bonus against the same creature next turn that stacks until you hit. Accuracy bonuses are always a good thing for any Warlord.
Inspiring Weapon (AV): Small damage buff for a round to all allies as a daily. Not a bad choice, but you can probably do better.
Jagged Weapon: Great choice for most Warlords since very few builds can afford a Weapon
Radiant Weapon (AV): If you wanna deal some extra damage yourself, this is a good way to go.
Subtle Weapon (AV): Extra damage with CA. Good damage bonus for yourself.
Tenacious Weapon (AV): Encounter power that allows you to roll twice for an attack your about to make. You have to use this before making an attack roll, but an encounter "double roll" is very useful in getting off your dailies and important encounter powers.
Vanguard Weapon (AV): Great weapon if you plan to charge around a bit. Has a great damage buffing Daily power for Charismalords too.
Withering Weapon (AV): Gives a -1 AC debuff every time you hit (save ends), and it stacks. If you're party hits mostly against AC, this is a very useful weapon to have. The vast majority of your attacks hit AC also, so this helps you a bit too.
I won't be including any Cloth or Leather Enhancements. As of now, I haven't heard of any Leather or Cloth only Magic Armor good enough for a Warlord to lower his AC.
Agile Armor: If you're wearing Heavy Armor and have a few points in Dex, this is a good looking armor. More AC never hurts.
Armor of Durability: Increases your Healing Surge value. Considering we'll most likely have low HP and few Surges, this is never a bad thing to have.
Armor of Dwarven Vigor: Use your Second Wind as a minor once a day, with additional healing. Not bad when you aren't the type to use Second Wind normally. Heavy only.
Armor of Enduring Health: Use Second Wind twice per combat. If you're a Dwarflord, this is extremely useful. You still shouldn't play a Dwarlord though... Hide, Chain only.
Battle Harness: Quickdraw with an Initiative Item bonus equal to the enhancement level. The quickdraw effect is generally not a big bonus for Warlords, but anyone can put this to good use. Light Armor only.
Bolstering Armor: Using your Second Wind allows all of your allies to spend a Healing Surge. Pretty useful if you don't have a lot of healing in your arsenal. Heavy only.
Dwarven Armor: Free Surgeless Heal once a day, with a bonus to endurance checks. It's a heal just for us, and it doesn't use one of our precious Surges, relatively cheap too. Heavy only.
Eladrin Armor: Great for Fey Charging Builds, and a good choice for any Chainmail wearer as it removes the armor's speed penalty. Downside- Chain only...
Exalted Armor: A great bonus to heals, in the Heroic Tier... Turns your mass heals into massive mass heals. Unfortunealty, the bonus this armor provides does not increase with higher enhancement levels. Also, Chain only. This is a great Armor to have in the heroic tier, but in Paragon, you should get some Scale armor and a better Magic Enchantment on it.
Healer's Armor: Adds the armor's enhancement level to heals you make. If you're doing a lot of healing, this is gonna add up fast. Hide, Chain only.
Marauder's Armor: Excellent armor if you plan to charge around a bit. Gives an AC bonus for a round when you charge, and has a daily heal or Saving Throw bonus when you charge. Leather, Hide only.
Spectral Armor: Ignore Plate armors speed and check penalty. Nice. Also has a daily power that gives you phasing and insubstantial until the end of your turn.
Tactician's Armor: Adds 1 to your Int mod. Awesome. Generally not necessary for the typical Taclord, this armor is very useful for balancedlords. Armor of choice for Taclords that go for Supreme Inspiration and Resourcelords. Chain only.
Verve Armor: Bonus to Death Saving Throws and a Daily power that automatically turns the result of a saving throw you just made to 20. Fine for any Warlord, but I know there are some Bravura builds that could make great use of this armor. Plate, Scale only.
Not too much popped out at me here... Honestly, I'd just give my Warlord the Iron Armbands of Power.
Iron Armbands of Power (AV): So it doesn't buff your allies or heal anyone. It's a nice raw damage bonus for yourself. If you attack, your damage matters. Don't overlook these.
Trollhide Bracers (AV): Daily regen power that lasts until end of encounter or below 0 hp. Regen is always nice.
Acrobat Boots (PHB): Stand up from Prone as a minor action. Don't overlook these. Very inexpensive item that can prove useful long into your career.
Battlestrider Greaves (PHB): +1 bonus to speed when wearing Heavy Armor. These can be useful through the Paragon Tier.
Boots of Eagerness (AV): Free move action once an encounter. Very useful, but you can probably do better. On the other hand, an extra action can be invaluable during a Nova turn...
Boot's of Quickness (AV): +3 Reflex Defense. So maybe you don't care about your movement that much, and/or you have it taken care of already. Bumping Reflex is extremely valuable.
Boots of Sand and Sea (AV): +1 bonus to speed in light armor. Not bad, but you can probably do better. A +1 to speed isn't that big a deal when you're not suffering a Heavy Armor penalty.
Boots of Speed (AV): +2 speed bonus and a daily power that allows you to take a move action for a minor. At this level, you can do better.
Boots of Teleportation (AV): Gain a teleport speed equal to your regular speed. Teleporting is awesome, being able to do it all the time can certainly come in handy
Eladrin Boots (PHB): +2 speed to all teleports and comes packed with an extra daily teleport. Nice item for an Eladrin to have.
Spark Slippers (AV2): Deal Charisma mod lightning damage to any creature that moves adjacent to you. How can that not be useful?
Zephyr Boots (AV): Gain a fly speed equal to your speed if you aren't wearing Heavy Armor. Flying is cool.
Time to analyze our at-wills, the backbone of our offense.
Brash Assault- Basic attack that allows the target to attack you back, with CA. If the target chooses to make the attack, an ally can make a basic attack the target with CA as a free action. This power is completely dependant on your DM's playstyle. In general, it's very unreliable. There is a style feat that turns this into a decent attack, but it still suffers from the above analysis.
Commander's Strike- A Taclord's bread and butter. By it's self this power is strong, allowing you to use the power of the big hitter next to in lieu of your own, while giving a bonus to the hit. The fun part about this attack is that it allows you to get more mileage out of your attack bonuses that you're dishing out. Most bonuses you give out last until the end of your next turn. This allows you to give the ally a turn using the bonus, and then you can use commander's strike on your next turn to give him an attack using the bonus again. Obviously, action points extend this usefulness. Even without a decent or high Intelligence modifier, this power is still a good choice for any Warlord build.
Furious Smash- Target's Fortitude and only deals Str mod damage on a hit. A successful hit does allow you to confer a power bonus to the next attack and damage roll against the target equal to your Cha mod t0 an ally that is adjacent to you or the target. This bonus is lost if not used by the end of the allies next turn. I haven't run the numbers on this power, but my belief is that this is a good power to use to set up an encounter or daily, but not as bread and butter like Commander's Strike. The fact that it targets Fort can be a good reason to use it on enemies with lower Fort defenses.
Inevitable Wave- BA that can be used on a charge. If you hit with the attack, an ally who charges the target gets to add your Int mod to damage on the charge. Charging is a common Warlord move, so this can be put to pretty decent use.
Opening Shove- Targets Reflex. On a hit, you deal no damage but can push the target one square. You can then allow an ally to shift a number of squares equal to you Int mod, or he can make a MBA agains the target. In general, this power shouldn't be used to grant the MBA, as that is what CS does, but you have to actually hit with this power. If you want this power to help get an ally out of a situation or into CA, then WPT is the safer bet, although it is only a 1 square shift. This is good for the Warlord that likes to play the chess game, but other than that, it's not really worth taking. I've heard of the niche build with dragonborns, but i'm still not rating this higher because of that.
Rousing Assault- I like this power. This is great for any leader with a high Cha mod, which always fits the Inspiralord. My reasoning for Sky Blue on this is mainly because of the Warlord's other at-wills. An Inspiring Warlord will probably take WPT. Inevitable Wave and Opening Shove are horrible choices here. CS isn't optimal here (still not bad though). Viper's Strike and Brash Assault are situational and DM dependant. Furious smash deals paltry damage and only effects one attack roll. Generally, an Inpiralord's best choices are FS, RA, and WPT. I don't like WPT, I most characters can shift on their own. FS is not better than your own BA every turn. RA adds your Cha mod to any and all warlord healing power's you use before the end of your next turn. This stacks. You can set up a "Nova healing" round by using this attack two rounds in a row and/or mixing in an AP to give a 2x-3x Cha mod bonus to all your healing. If you happened RA on your last turn, then little Billy right next to you gets a booboo, you can use RA on your next turn and use inspiring word with a 3x Cha mod bonus (I said 3x because you should have Improved Inspiring Word feat if you're a Cha based Warlord). If you have this power and WPT, just use this power any turn you don't need WPT, and you are always ready for better healing.
Viper's Strike- BA with an Effect (Effects trigger regardless of the attack hitting or missing). The effect on this attack is DM dependant. This is not necesarily a weakness though. This power can be used tactically. I'm pretty sure that enemies are aware of effects from powers on them, so that's how I'm analyzing this. Helps keep an enemy on you unless it want's to eat an OA. Helps present a lose-lose situation. Fighters can make this power very useful.
Wolf Pack Tactics- BA that let's an ally adjacent to you or the target shift 1 square before the attack. My problem with this is that most allies can take care of themselves, and can generate CA relatively easily. I will say that it is particularly less useful for Taclords, since from a damage standpoint this attack is not as good as CS. Your own BA with CA is almost always inferior to your ally's BA with your Int mod to damage without CA. I'm gonna take a lot of crap for rating this blue...