Brandis stood in the doorway and waited. A slow breath did nothing to calm his pounding heart, and he emptied his lungs with a whispered prayer to the Raven Queen:
"Not today, Dark Lady. Please"
He listened to the pounding of the demon's hooves drawing near and to the frantic rhythm of his companions' feet as they fled behind him. If he could buy them a little time, maybe they could get to safety. Maybe Verna Wouldn't die.
The demon rounded the corner and bellowed in triumph. Its roar assaulted his ear, shook the stone beneath his feet, and blasted at his face, but Brandis held his ground. Lowering its head, the demon charged.
With a roar of his own, Brandis ran to meet the onrushing demon. He let his fury and his despair carry him forward like a crashing wave of steel. He threw himself down under the demon's curving horn, then with all his strength brought his blade over his head to slash across its neck. Acrid blood sprayed over him, but the demon didn't fall. Howling, it swatted at Brandis with a massive fist, sending him staggering backward.
"At least I know I got your attention," Brandis muttered, gripping his sword more tightly. He couldn't hear his friends anymore, just the pounding of blood in his ears.
[Martial Power Page 22, Last Stand]
Fighter weaknesses and Strengths
The fighter is dependent on hitting hard and/or accurate to force the enemies to attack him. He has good feat support for extra damage and maybe more easily than some of the other defenders can qualify for Weapon Mastery Feats. Stances is a bit unique to fighter since he got more and better stances than most other classes. They can help him deal damage or become more durable. All the Class options gives an increase in damage depending a little on what armor you wear. This is way the Fighters secondary role is usually considered to be striker.
The fighter got a good amount of powers that stuns/dazes/push and knock enemies prone. This is great for defending and keeping his enemies where he want them. He can also be quite mobile depending on your choices and several powers that push the enemy let him follow after. Fighters often go for scale or even hide armor. This also improves his mobility compared to the plate wearer.
He is also very good at holding a line as his OAs is deadly and stops movement. The enemy must expect a long circle to get around him and its becomes even better if you're using polearms.
Fighter Paragon Paths is some of the best in the game and a lot of classes multiclass fighter just to reach those.
His weakness is few abilities to support or heal his allies. Also do not forget that his quite vulnerable to daze effects as such an effect means enemies can just walk past him because he can't make CC or OAs. He is not the most durable of the defender but the differences isn't that big. Battlerager is an exception. The paladin gets more Surges and Plate Prof and often more Healing because of Lay on Hands. The Paladin also has feats like Virtuoso Recovery and Honoured Foe. The Warden gets more HP and can easily get out of save ends effects. The Swordmage probably got higher AC. However the differences isn't that big and a few feats and the fighter can be at the same level.
Fighters Handbook By Lordduskblade: A great handbook by Lordduskblade
I use color ranking to quickly see what the different options are ranked.
So I thought it would be easier to follow the standard ranking for handbooks on the forums. However I taken away purple. I don't put too much effort to rank bad options. I added Gold ranking. Copy from the Warlords handbook by Armisael. However Gold is not mandatory but close to it. I added Gold since an extra color for good options was needed for the rankings.
Red = This is bad and something to avoid
Purple= Not that good but it has it's uses.
Black = This is ok and something worth considering depending on your build.
Blue = Quite good and something you should take a look at,
Light Blue = This is very good and you should consider this.
Gold = This is extremely good and you most likely want this.
Player's Handbook = PHB
Player's Handbook 2 = PHB2
Eberron Player's Guide = EPG
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide = FRPG
Monster Manual = MM
Manual of the Planes = MOTP
Martial Power = MP
Divine Power = DP
Arcane Power = AP
Dragon Magazine = DM
Class Features: What it takes to Fight
Hit Points: You Start with 15 HPs and 6 extra for each lvl. This is expected as a defender. The Warden gets more HPs than you.
Healing Surges: You get 9 surges. The paladin is the only defender that start out with more.
Proficiencies: You start out with some great proficiencies. However a lot of fighters might want to use plate and that is something you miss.
Combat Challenge: The Fighters mark is one of the most punishing marks in the game. He get to attack an enemy if it shifts or make an attack that does not include you. This is unlike the warden who doesn't get to attack on a shift. There is also some nice feat support for CC and this is one of the major reasons the fighters mark is so strong. However unlike the paladin the fighters mark is useless if he is dazed, stunned and so on. Daze can be quite common at higher tiers. He also can't punish more than one enemy with this mark. It's still considered to be one of the strongest mark on a single target.
Combat Superiority: This is extremely useful and one of the reasons the Fighters is so great at holding the front lines thou he can't really punish more than one enemy with CC. It stops the enemy from just rushing past you on a hit. The combination of Combat Challenge and Combat Superiority is the reason it can be so hard to get away from a fighter. This class feature yells out defender.
Weapon Talent: This is pretty standard and good for Great Weapon Fighters or guardian Fighters. +1 to attack is not something to be underestimated and this class feature is the most versatile as it got a benefit that is always needed and doesn't force a secondary stat upon you. Good for Guardian Fighters since +1 to attack will make your stickier and good for Great Weapon Fighters as +1 to hit will help you hit.
Battlerager Vigor: Getting Temp HP each time you hit an enemy is excellent for a defender as it makes you more durable. Also if you're in Chain or Light Armor you also get some extra damage. Good for Guardian Fighters as it makes you more durable and good for Great Weapon Fighters as it makes you a bit more durable and you hit harder. However this class feature will make you a slave to con and your will defense and OAs may suffer.
Tempest Technique: With this technique you get more powers that marks several creatures and deal a good amount of damage. You can play as a striker if you want to. As a tempest you might decide to go all out dexterity as secondary or just enough to qualify for some feats. Your AC doesn't need to be worse than Sword and Board thanks to TWD and defensive property.
Axes: Axes are great for Guardian and Great Weapon Fighters. They deal deadly crits and awesome damage. They also got good feat and power support, this alone makes axes strong. Several powers gives extra damage based on con if you're using axes. However their real strength is that you can easily spread out your secondary stat between wisdom and constitution, maybe even dex if you want to. If you're going all out con or got a dexterity score to meet Heavy Blade Mastery feat then hammers or heavy blades is probably better.
Flails: The feat support isn't that good but the fighter does have a few great powers that requires flail. Deals good amount of damage.
Hammers: If you going to have a high con then this is the weapon for you. Deals great amount of damage and hammer rhythm is an excellent feat. Some great powers are available if you choose this weapon group and some powers gives extra riders effect based on con with hammers.
Heavy Blades: Simply a good option because of the accuracy and damage. For most fighters accuracy is more important than damage. Heavy Blade opportunity makes the fighter even stickier and his OAs something to be feared. Good power support. It does require some investment in dexterity. Great for Tempest Fighters and fighters with spread out secondary stats.
Maces/picks/staffs: Use an Axe or a Hammer instead. Little support overall
Spears: Good for pushes and can often be thrown. It has some interesting feats and powers. Not bad at all. However the damage and accuracy is usually a bit low.
Polearms: Excellent choice for Fighters who want to improve their battle control. Reach is great and with polarm gamble you can control a big part of the battlefield to help protect your allies. The Greatspear is a great choice as it also got accuracy. Glaive is also something to consider because of Heavy Blade Opportunist + Polearm Gamble combo.
Light Blades: Only for Tempest Fighters. Don't got that great feat or power support but at least you're quite accurate.
Fighting Styles: How to Fight
When using a shield you get better defenses. This naturally leads you into the more stereotypical role as a fighter; A valiant defender standing though, holding the line while protecting his allies. To fulfil such a role you need to remember that a balance between your own survivability and stickiness is required. This depends heavily on your party/DM and playstyle. Choosing powers that let your mark several enemies is great way to defend your allies. If nothing else it at least gives a debuff. You should position yourself so that you get the benefit of Combat Superiority if the enemy choose to go after your allies. Pushing enemies for better positioning or back into a damaging zone is also something your should do as often as possible. Remember however that there is no way you can take all the hits and that is something you shouldn't try to achieve since it will probably lead to your death.
As a great weapon fighter you trade some of your defenses for more damage. This doesn't mean you can't do the more typical role of a guardian fighter. You will be stickier because you deal more damage. However you could focus on a role as a semi-striker and locking out key enemies and bringing them down. If you happen to get close to roles like lurkers/controllers/strikers you could really mess their tactics. Your mark is usually more devastating than the shield wearer and this means they got big problems getting away from you. Mobility is something you want since it makes it easier to get to your chosen target. Charging is something you will do more often than the guardian fighter so powers that gives extra benefits on a charge is great. Watch out for focused fire as running behind the enemy lines can make you an easy target. It's best to have another defender to hold a couple of targets if you want to play such a role.
Polearm builds are a bit special and they could be considered under Great Weapon Fighters. Since they are so unique I decided to add a own section for them. They do not deal the same damage as the typical Great Weapon fighter nor do they have the defenses of a guardian fighter. What they do have is great control of the enemies. With feats like polearm gamble enemies will have big problems moving around since you threaten a big area. Pushing enemies back is great since you don't always need to be right next to the enemy to be able to defend the rest of the party. With polearm momentum you get an even bigger bonus when pushing or sliding enemies. When the enemy moves in again you can get an OA. You will probably get more OAs then other fighters. Polearm Fighters may be the best defender at holding a line thanks to the combination of polearm gamble, Reach and combat superiority.
For polearm builds I would recommend Greatspear because of accuracy and damage or Glaive for some terrible OAs with Heavy Blade Opportunist.
As a TWF you can deal lots of damage if you choose to and you don't lose much in terms of survivability. However you do lose some versatility since Tempest fighters often requires a high dex, because of Light Armor, feat requirements and several powers use dex as the number one rider stat. Going for Light Blades is also something to consider since the Tempest technique gives a bonus when using light blades. This means that TWF often have a worse OA because of low wisdom and/or less Healing Surges because of low con. However they more than make up for it with great damage since they get to attack multiple times, high accuracy, great mobility and an AC as a Shield user in many cases. TWF is the only fighter who get to mark two targets with an at will power.
Ability Scores: Steel and Courage
Str: This is your primary attack stat and as such need to be high. However unlike lots of other classes this is not your only stat that need to be decent or high (like Archer Ranger and therefore not Gold). Recommended: 16-18 before racials.
Con: Gives you more Surges and more HPs. Also gives a lot of rider effects depending on build. Great for battleragers Recommended: 12-16 before racials.
Dex: Decent stat as it improves your initiative and gives you better reflexes. Also you can get some nice feats with a decent score. Mostly for tempest builds. Recommended: 10-16 Before racials
Int: This is your dump stat. You gain nothing from it. Recommended: 8-10 before racials.
Wis: Improves your will defensive and makes your excellent Combat Superiority even better. Some Feats/Paragon Path can improve the value of wis even more. Recommended: 12-16 before racials.
Cha: Just as Int this is a dump stat. However there are a few class skill that is dependent on Cha. Recommended 8-10 Before racials.
Sample of Starting Stats:
18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8
This is great starting score for Great Weapon fighters who want to deal striker damage. 18 in Str and 14 in your secondary stat.
16, 16, 12, 12, 10, 8
This is good starting score for most battleragers who want to be guardian fighters or semi-strikers. Good for Tempest Fighters too. You most likely want a good secondary stat with this.
16, 14, 14, 13, 10, 8
Great for Fighters who is not slave to a secondary stat. Good for Weapon Talent Fighters or Tempest Fighters who fight in heavy armor. You can't go wrong with this.