Master of Forms and Master of Storms: A Druid Handbook

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Master of Forms, Storms, and Swarms:  A Druid Handbook



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Important Notice


I'm currently working on migrating all of the material in this guide to my new guide, Call of the Wild.  This guide will no longer be updated.  The new guide will include the Sentinal build.



Introduction


So you've chosen to be a Druid.  In doing so, you've chosen to be anything (in a manner of speaking).  Thanks to Wild Shape, you can slip into the form of any natural or fey beast, though in reality your imagination is the limit: the PHB2 even suggests that some Druids use Wild Shape to emulate the Primal Beast by become an indistinct blur of fur and feathers, claws and talons.  Your versatility is unmatched, but don't let that underestimate your effectiveness in a given area.  The fluidity with which you can switch between melee and ranged combat is legendary, making you a wild card on the battlefield (and allowing you to be ready for anything the enemy throws at you).  Finally, while you are labeled as filling the "controller" role, keep in mind that Druids tend to lean strongly toward a secondary role, and you have the option of focusing on any of the other 3:  striker, defender, or leader.


Why Play a Druid?



  • You're versatile:  This class has no trouble switching between fighting in melee and at range.  This appeals to players who like to switch their fighting style in response to the flow of battle.  It's also a good option for a player that wants to try out the controller role, but still likes mixing it up on the front lines.  Because they're often in the line of fire, Druids are tougher than the other controllers.  Druids also get 1 more at-will than other classes, which gives you an additional option in combat (and Druids have several excellent at-wills to choose from).

  • You double-dip in roles:  Controllers can sometimes singlehandedly turn the tide of a battle, but let's be realistic here - sometimes there's just not a huge need for control.  Instead of being swingy in their usefulness as most controllers are, Druids can fall back on a secondary role (or 2), in particular encroaching well into the territory of pure strikers.  This can usually be done without sacrificing much (if any) control, and often you can control and strike/defend/lead simultaneously.

  • You're the best Summoner around:  Druid summons get instinctive actions, and while some of them are risky, there are plenty of "safe" onces to choose from.  Attacking without the Druid needing to spend an action provides a nice boost to DPR, and is often a good enough incentive for enemies to attack the summoned creature, which means that you and your allies aren't getting attacked (and the summon's HP pool is "cheaper" than a PCs).  Some summons even get some control effects tacked onto their instinctive actions.

  • You're mobile:  Only the Monk has you beat here, and even that's debatable (especially Predators).  Wild Shape grants you a minor action shift (which can be a free action in Paragon) and Predators can significantly increase the distance with a feat, plus many of their powers grant shifts.  It also helps that you're an extremely competent charger, so in theory you can Wild Shape (shift) to disengage from an enemy, use your move action to swing around and position yourself, and then charge a particularly juicy enemy (and probably end up flanking for the charge attack, given all of that re-positioning).  Druids are great at punching through the front line and taking on the squishies in back, and take note that they have several tricks up their sleeve for locking down/severely punishing ranged enemies.




Ratings


GOLD indicates what is essentially a must-have option, a rare gem indeed.
Sky Blue options should be strongly considered, as these are optimal choices.
Blue options are very good; they're generally useful and often optimal depending on build.
Black is average.  Solid option, but you could probably do better (you're pretty safe sticking with these for thematic reasons, though).
Purple indicates a below average choice, but for certain character builds (or to preserve thematic consistency) it's still viable.  Still, you shouldn't choose too many of these.
Red is pretty much junk.  Take it at your own risk, but remember that you were warned.


Sources



PHB = Players Handbook
PHB2 = Players Handbook 2
PHB3 = Players Handbook 3
PrP = Primal Power (may also be referred to as PP, though I'll try to be consistent)
MP = Martial Power
AV = Adventurer's Vault
AV2 = Adventurer's Vault 2
D### = Dragon issue ###
PHH = Players Handbook Heroes minis set
HotFL = Heroes of the Fallen Lands
HotFK  = Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms


Common Abbreviations


MBA = melee basic attack
RBA = ranged basic attack
OA = opportunity attack
NAD = non-AC defenses (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will)


Acknowledgements


Molecule, for his excellent Druid guide, Heart of the Wild (which you should check out, because multiple opinions are useful).

LDB for the standardized format.

Everyone that posts with commentary/suggestions.



Class Overview

Class Features, etc.


 HP and Healing Surges12 + Con score HP + 5 per level, and 7 + your Con mod healing surges.  This is standard fare for leaders, slightly better than most strikers, and much better than other controllers.  Most Primal classes are tougher than expected for their role, and you'll definitely put that toughness to use mixing it up in melee (a unique playstyle among controllers).  Note that 2 of the Druid builds have Con as a secondary stat, reinforcing the class's innate durability.

Defense bonuses:  +1 Reflex, +1 Will.  Nothing too surprising here; all Druids will have a solid Will defense, though only Predators will have high Reflex.  The class bonus is nice for Guardian and Swarm Druids that don't want to give up on Reflex entirely, but they'll be stuck with it as their lowest NAD regardless.

Proficiencies:  You're proficient with the light armors (cloth, leather, and hide) and can use staffs and totems as your implements.  Totems are somewhat lacking in support (but this is slowly being remedied), whereas staffs provide a wide range of options (can't go wrong with a staff of ruin).  Since they're technically weapons as well, you can use dragonshards, weapon focus, etc. with staffs and reap the benefits with your implement attacks.  In terms of armor, you want hide regardless of your build (Swarm Druids will want to take Hide Armor Expertise as soon as possible, preferably at level 1).  You can also use simple melee and simple ranged weapons, but when you can shred opponents with your claws and blast them with primal magic, why bother?

Balance of NatureIt's easy to underestimate the advantage of this class feature.  After all, it's basically telling you that you need to choose at least one at-will with the beast form keyword, and one without it (ensuring that you can do something regardless of your form).  The real boon is the fact that you get 3 at-wills (and 4 if you're human).  As a controller (and a versatile class), anything that provides you with more options in combat is a good thing.  This also gives any Druid the opportunity to have at-will options against all three NADs. 

Primal Aspect:



  • Primal Predator:  You get a +1 bonus to speed as long as you don't wear heavy armor (and there's no reason why you should).  The value of this class feature is equivalent to a Paragon Tier feat (Fleet Footed), and proves to be an appropriate advantage for a secondary striker.  With the right powers and feats, Predator Druids can be more mobile than almost any striker.  This could bring slow races (like Dwarves) up to par, and results in Elves starting with a base speed of 8, holding the title of fastest race/class combination.

  • Primal Guardian:  If you're not wearing heavy armor you can use your Con modifier in place of Dex or Int to determine your AC.  Essentially just consolidates your toughness (HP, surges, AC) into one secondary stat.

  • Primal Swarm:  While you're in beast form and not wearing heavy armor, the damage dealt to you by melee and ranged attacks is reduced by your Con modifier.  You'll have among the lowest AC in the game though, now that Hide Armor Expertise has been errata'd.  Obviously you'll want to stay in beast form a lot to benefit from this (though generally if you're in humanoid form you'll be relatively safe from attacks anyways). 


Ritual Casting:  Standard fare for a controller.  You get Animal Messenger and another 1st level ritual for free, and once per day you can use Animal Messenger without paying the component cost.  Whether or not you're psyched about Animal Messenger depends largely on personal taste, but in a real campaign it's likely to be useful at least once.  Once you hit level 4 try to get your hands on Enchant Magic Item: as long as your party has adequate funds, they'll never lack a magic item of your level or lower that they need.  Furthermore, there are some low level items that are extremely useful for Druids (Claw Gloves, level 4, and Horned Helm, level 6) and being able to enchant them as soon as possible is very convenient.

Wild Shape:  This plays a large role in making the Druid a versatile class, and from a flavor perspective is the Druid's defining feature.  I've heard arguments that Wild Shape is "merely cosmetic" or "doesn't really do anything except restrict what powers you can use at a given time."  You can look at it like that, but you can also say that Wild Shape allows the Druid to switch between melee and ranged combat more easily than any other class that does the dame.  You use a single implement in both forms (unlike Bards, Paladins, etc. that need to either carry an implement and a weapon, or restrict their item choice by carrying a weapon that functions as an implement), and changing from beast form to humanoid form grants you a free shift as part of the minor (and later, free) action.  The mobility is nice, and there are both items and feats that let you shift when you change from humanoid to beast form as well. 

Note: The November '10 errata made the wording of Wild Shape less restrictive; now the only powers that you can't use in beast form are weapon or implement powers lacking the beast form keyword. Have fun with your utility powers now!



Skills


Class Skills

 


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Arcana:  It's usefulness depends largely on party composition; if nobody else in the party has it, you should take it.  It also helps out with some rituals.  Unfortunately, Int is a dump stat for you so don't expect to compete with Wizards.

Athletics:  If you don't take it, you'll end up getting laughed at when you try to swim using an alligator's form, climb as a cat, etc.  Strength may range from being a dump stat to tertiary for you; some good reasons to work out occasionally are light shield proficiency, Fighter multiclass, and Powerful Charge.

Diplomacy:  Charisma tends to be the Druid's de-facto dump stat, so the only reason to take this would be if a) nobody else in the party took it and b) nobody in the party has a high Charisma.  Despite your training, don't expect to excel at it.

Endurance:  I'm not sure if this is unique to my play experience, but Endurance seems to be the skill that comes up the least often in-game.  That said, it's nice to have when it does come up, and as a Druid you might want to consider training your body to withstand extreme environments.  This will also be useful if you ever happen to contract a disease and don't have the resources (i.e. ritual) to remove it, and 2 of the 3 builds use Con as a secondary stat.

Heal:  Nice for some rituals, but you can also use it to stabilize a fallen ally, allow an ally to use their second wind, or grant an ally a saving throw.  Plus it's based on your primary stat, so you'll be sure to be good at it.

HistoryKeyed off of a dump stat, and there's probably somebody else in the party that's more knowledgeable about such things than you.  Pass.

Insight:  If you want to pull your own weight in social situations, your best bet is to get really good at reading people.  You may not be persuasive, and you may not be good at lying to people, but at least you can see through the facade of others.  Make sure you have some subtle way of communicating your insights with the ones doing the talking though...

Nature:  All Druids are good at this (it's literally a required skill).  Since it's keyed off of your primary stat you'll likely have the highest Nature check in the party.  Good for foraging, identifying monsters, following tracks, navigating, and a myriad of other uses if you get creative. 

PerceptionNobody likes being caught off guard.  Maybe that's why most players tend to value a high Perception.  Even if someone else in the party focuses on this, it's never a bad idea to boost it up yourself.  After all, when you're camping in the wilderness there's likely to be only one person keeping watch during any given shift...



Non-class Skills
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Acrobatics:  Situationally useful; Athletics would probably be a better choice.  Even if you want to be an agile cat in beast form Stealth is more likely to be useful.

BluffI'll just reiterate that Charisma is a dump stat, and since this isn't a class skill you'd have to expend special effort (feat, background, etc) to gain training in it.  Not worth it.

Dungeoneering:  As far as non-class skills are concerned, this is a decent one to pick up.  Like Nature, but for subterranean environments.  Also represents architectural knowledge.

Intimidate:  As intimidating as you might imagine a tiger or a bear roaring in someone's face, most Druids can't do it convincingly.

Religion:  Dump stat, and a fairly common skill for other classes to have.  There's a few rituals that use it, but overall you probably won't need to pick it up (though a lot of multiclass feats give it away, and many of them utilize Wisdom).

StealthYou know it sounds like fun to turn into a sneaky animal and run with the Rogue.  If you're a Predator, you'll have the right stats for it, too.  Good choice as a background benefit.

Streetwise:  Move along, move along...

Thievery:  A Predator will have the right stats for it.  Could be useful if nobody else in the party has it, but it's not exactly thematic for a "traditional" Druid.  If you want it, create a good backstory and roll with it!



Attributes


Note:  Recommended starting values are post-racial bonuses.

Strength:  Not all Druids will want to invest in this, but it does have its advantages if you plan on multiclassing, using a shield to boost your AC (despite what Quick Stow has to say about it--I'll get to that later), or focus heavily on charging (Powerful Charge).  More attractive as a tertiary for Predators, since it boosts a redundant NAD (Fortitude) for Guardians and Swarms.  Recommended starting value:  10-13.

Constitution:  This is the secondary stat of Swarms and Guardians.  Predators that decide to ignore Strength should make this tertiary to provide a boost in toughness (they tend to be somewhat fragile otherwise).  Swarm Druids will want this to be especially high, as it boost AC (via Hide Expertise), HP, surges, power riders, and their class feature damage reduction.  Recommended starting value:  10-13 for Dex Druids, 16-18 for Con Druids.

DexterityThe Predator's secondary stat.  Since controllers generally want a high initiative value, Con Druids will likely want this to be tertiary.  Predators want this as high as possible because their AC, initiative, riders, and sometimes mobility depend on it.  Recommended starting value:  13 for Con Druids, 16-18 for Dex Druids.

Intelligence:  Book smarts won't get you very far in the wilderness.  Even Con Druids looking to boost Reflex would be better served by bumping Dex, since it gives them a higher initiative.  Only races with an Int boost should do otherwise.  Recommended starting value:  8-10

Wisdom:  This is your primary stat.  Keep it your highest, and strongly consider choosing a race that gets a bonus here.  Recommended starting value:  16-18.

CharismaThe designated dump stat for most Druids.  Druids with notions of being decent at Intimidate might dump Int instead, but since this will never contribute to your Will (you'll always have a better Wis), a player seeking to optimize would be best served by putting an 8 in here.  Recommended starting value:  8

Sample Ability Spreads
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Note:  All examples are 1st level, pre-racial mods.  Abilities are presented in order of Str, Con, Dex, Int, Wis, Cha.

Predator:  13, 11, 16, 10, 16, 8.  This array will qualify you for light shield prof. and open Str-based MC options, as well as Powerful Charge.

Predator:  11, 13, 16, 10, 16, 8.  Similar to the array above, but you forfeit qualifying for Str-based feats in favor of having Con as a tertiary score (another healing surge).

Guardian:  11, 16, 13, 10, 16, 8.  Most Guardians will opt for this array; Dex tertiary gives you a small boost to Initiative and Reflex. 

Swarm:  13, 16, 11, 10, 16, 8.  A good array for maximizing AC as an off-tank, since you'll qualify for light shield prof.  Your only real sacrifice is +1 initiative compared to a Dex 13 array, since the shield will give you +1 Reflex.

Swarm:  11, 16, 13, 10, 16, 8.  Dex tertiary for initiative and to open up Dex MC options (notably Assassin).  If you plan on picking up Venom Hand Master you'll need this array (good idea if you want to take the Coiled Serpent PP and/or a Staff of the Serpent). 

Explanation:  All of these arrays maximize primary and secondary stats, primary for obvious reasons and secondary because it determines your AC, and you'll need all the AC you can get as a class that annoys the crap out of the DM (I mean...the monsters...) in melee.  Thus, Wis/Dex or Wis/Con races are optimal.  For races with a Wis/non-secondary stat bonus, I would recommend going with an array that gives you a 13 in Str post-racial, to make up for the 1 point of AC you'll lose by not getting a racial bump.  Races without a bonus to Wis are viable but not optimal, with Implement Expertise being a more pressing priority earlier on.


Races


PHB Races

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Dragonborn:  Not a completely hopeless choice.  Cha is almost always a dump stat, but Str can be useful for some builds.  Additionally, Draconic Heritage synergizes with a high Con and Dragon Breath provides one more AoE option.  Still, you're better off with something else.

Dwarf:  Dwarves actually make superb Druids, as they get a bonus to the primary stat (Wis) and one of the secondaries (Con).  The ability to use your second wind as a minor action is excellent, especially for Swarm Druids that like to off-tank, and it synergizes well with the Druid Paragon feat, Vital Form (which lets you regain your second wind 1/enc when you Wild Shape).  Stand Your Ground is situationally useful.  Dwarves do have a couple of downsides, the first being that their speed is low, and many Druids value mobility.  If you're making a Swarm Druid that functions as a stalwart off-tank, or if you plan on hanging back and flinging ranged evocations most of the time the speed isn't as much of an issue.  The other downside is that their most attractive feat, Dwarven Weapon Training, is pretty much useless for you (unless you want to MC or Hybrid).

Eladrin:  Eladrin can hold their own as Predator Druids (thanks to their Dex bonus).  The Int is wasted though.  Fey Step is a nice way to boost the mobility of an already mobile class, and provides a get out of jail free card if you're ever immobilized or restrained.  Since Druids tend to have excellent Perception, the party will sleep easy knowing that you'll be on watch a lot (thanks to Trance).  I've also heard of Druid Feycharger builds, so you can basically become a blink dog if you go that route.

Elf:  Hands down the best option for Predators.  Boosts to your primary and secondary stats mean that you'll easily be able to start with an 18 in both, resulting in good offense (attack), defense (AC), Initiative, and mobility (thanks to various powers and feats that utilize Dex).  The Elven base speed of 7 also means that as a Predator Druid, Elves get a speed of 8 right out of the box.  Predators shift a lot as well (don't forget that Wild Shape grants you a shift!), so the power of their Wild Step cannot be overstated.  It can be a source of endless frustration for a DM that plans to give the party a headache with terrain, only to have you ignore it.  Plus Elven Accuracy is one of the best racial powers that a controller can get their hands on.  In addition to making godly Predators, Elves can also excel as Guardians or Swarm Druids (though not to the same extent). 

Half Elf: 
The November '10 errata with racial adjustments from HotFK essentially (no pun intended) upgraded Half Elves from the low end of black all the way up to sky blue. Con is now their main stat bump, with a choice of either Cha or Wis, so they get a bonus to the primary and secondary stat of all Druid builds except the Predator. Plus you can trade out Dilletante (which most Druids don't have much use for) for a flexible new racial power, Knack for Success. Your choice of a free saving throw, mobility, accuracy, or a skill bonus for you or an ally; talk about versatile! 

Halfling: 
Halfling's can now get a bonus in Dex and Con, the Druid's 2 secondary stats (with the other likely to be tertiary). Their racial bonus against OAs will mostly be unneeded because of the Predator's myriad ways of shifting, and since they'll be charging a lot a Badge of the Berskerker would go further in protecting them from OAs. Still, their speed isn't penalized for being small and Second Chance will give them a little extra durability. Since small characters get kind of screwed when using weapons, the Druid is a good way to give Halflings the chance at making a melee class and not being gimped for it.

Human:  They'll excell at most classes because they're designed to do exactly that.  The bonus feat is gravy since Druids have a ton of good feats to choose from, and the bonus at-will means that they'll have a total of 4.  That's a good situation for a controller to be in, especially one that places particular emphasis on versatility.  Put your stat bonus into Wisdom, obviously.

Tiefling: 
At least they don't get bumps to two dump stats anymore. Despite having access to a Con bump, they still make sub-par Druids. I've always found Infernal Wrath to be somewhat underwhelming as it is, but as a class that dumps Cha it's just pathetic. Furthermore, it's difficult to follow the "standard Tiefling optimization" rules (Hellfire Blood + a Flaming Weapon or fire powers) because you don't have an overabundance of Fire powers.


PHB2 Races

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Deva:  The bonus to Wisdom is excellent, and Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes is almost as good a racial power as Elven Accuracy (you can't do anything about a particularly bad roll on a key attack, but if you just missed with an attack you can fairly confidently turn that into a hit).  Deva make better Con based Druids, and are one of those rare builds that might be better off focusing on Int instead of Dex to boost Reflex.  A playstyle designed around being more reactive than proactive is useful, given the lower than average initiative (what this means is that you should avoid big "opener" powers that work best when used to hamper large clumps of enemies before they have a chance to act). 

Gnome:  Same stats as the Tiefling.  Fade Away is at least a useful racial power for you, but the fact that your speed is 5 means that you're still not much better than your Infernal friend.  Pity, as Gnome Druids have a certain thematic appropriateness to them. 

Goliath:  They lack a bonus to Wisdom, but everything else is nice.  They get a bonus to a Druid secondary stat (Con), and with the Str bonus you can reap the benefits of having a 13 Str without putting more than 1 stat point into it.  Powerful Athlete makes your beast form seem less...clumsy.  Stone's Endurance is a quality racial power, and if you choose Barkskin as your level 2 utility power you can pull this trick 2/enc.  A good choice for Swarm Druids who want to off-tank.

Half-Orc: 
Not a bad choice at all. You can get a bonus to both secondary stats, and the other racial features are all great. Any melee class will get some mileage out of Half-Orc Resilience, and the benefit of Furious Assault is obvious for a secondary striker. Swift Charge is pretty sweet too, since most Druids have a pretty potent charge.

Longtooth Shifter:  The Wis bonus is solid, and the Str is helpful to some builds (since you can get 13 Str so easily, you should go for it).  Thanks to the Longtooth shifting racial power, Longtooth Shifters are among the toughest Swarm Druids (pick up Beasthide Shifting in Paragon).  An excellent pick for an off-tank.

Razorclaw Shifter:  Same stat bonuses as the Elf, without the other little perks (Wild Step, Elven Accuracy, and base speed 7).  However, you're faster than the Elf while shifting, and you get a bonus to Reflex and AC.  Nearly as good a choice for a Predator, but can't keep up with the Elf as a Guardian or Predator (Razorclaw shifting doesn't synergize as well as the Elf racials). 


PHB3 Races

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Githzerai:  Same stat layout as the Elf and Razorclaw Shifter, so Githzerai prefer Predator Druids.  The racial initiative bonus and the free shift when you second wind are both solid for the Druid.  The racial power, Iron Mind, gives you a +2 bonus to defenses as an interrupt; certainly useful, but IMO not quite as good as the Elf or Shifter racial powers.  Still an elite choice for a Predator, and a solid choice for a Con-based Druid.

Minotaur:  Can get a bonus to Wis or Con, both of which are useful to a Druid (too bad you can't pick both).  When you drop to 0, you can make a MBA as an immediate interrupt.  Guess what?  This means that you can slide the enemy away with Savage Rend, and completely ignore the attack that took you down!  The extra healing surge is appreciated, though the racial AC bonus against OAs while charging will be moot once you get a Badge of the Berserker.  Also, Goring Charge is probably not as good as Savage Rend/Grasping Claws. 

Wilden:  Bonus to primary stat, and choice of bonus to either secondary!  They're plant people, so they should make natural Druids.  They get a choice of three racial encounter powers: one works well with AoE's (check), another synergizes well with MBA's and charges, and dazes to boot (check plus), and the third grants some mobility and damage, and allows you to ignore cover/concealment (check).  Since all three work very well with the Druid class, the Wilden adds more versatility to an already versatile character.  They join the ranks of Elves and Dwarves as elite Druid races.

Shardmind:  Surprisingly, not that bad of a choice.  You can choose Wisdom as one of your stat bumps, and the racial power can be extremely useful for making use of your Claw Gloves, or just for getting out of sticky situations.  Plus communicating telepathically while in beast form is just awesome.


Other Races

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Drow:  These guys were so far off the radar before that I completely forgot to include them until the HotFK update, and nobody even noticed! The update lets them move into the Elf's niche (same stat bumps), though their racial traits aren't quite as good (though they do come close!). Both racial powers are great for gaining CA, which your Claw Gloves will appreciate immensely. Darkvision's a pretty sweet deal, too.

Bladeling (MotP):  
Normally I'd give a Dex/Wis race an automatic sky blue rating, but these guys have very little support and no racial advantages aside from the stat synergy.  Knocking these guys down to blue was the easiest way for me to distinguish them from Elves, Razorclaw Shifters, and Githzerai, all of which have clear advantages over Bladelings. 

Kalashtar (EPG):  The Wisdom bonus makes this a solid, though thematically odd, choice for a Druid.

Changeling (EPG):  You are the ultimate Shapeshifter.  In this sense, the Druid is a nice thematic fit for the race.  The Dexterity bonus is definitely helpful for Predator Druids as well, but there's not much more
to recommend this race.

Revenant (D376):  No Wisdom bonus, but it does get a boost to both of the Druid's secondary stats.  The Racial power, while useful, isn't a game breaker (just some extra damage), but the ability to stay conscious after dropping to 0 HP is extremely useful, especially since Druids can use the action to hinder opponents or get out of melee (and danger).  The Past Life feature also gives them nice flexibility.  Check out Blightbeast for an awesome in-theme PP.  One of the better choices within their rating category (black).

Shadar-Kai (D372):  See Eladrin.  The Racial powers are even similar; both let you teleport.  Shadow Jaunt is slightly better than Fey Step though, as it makes you insubstantial for a turn.  Since Predators (the build you have the most synergy with thanks to your +2 Dex) are somewhat frail, this is a valuable racial power to them (low level Predators will also get a jump start on their mobility with the teleport).

Warforged (EPG):  These guys make extremely tough Swarm Druids, and given their bonus to both Str and Con are one of the few races that will be able to easily afford 13 Str as a Con build.  Their racial power augments the natural toughness of a Swarm Druid, and being safe from failed death saves means that they're not in dire peril if they decide to off-tank with low HP. 

Genasi (FRPG):  Stat bonuses are just in the wrong places.  Str is sometimes a tertiary stat for shield proficiency and/or polearm shenanigans, but otherwise the only thing Genasi have going for them is a decent Racial power, depending on what you choose.  The mobility provided by the Watersoul and Windsoul racial powers are useful, and Earthsoul Genasi can knock enemies prone in a close burst 1.  Still not enough to recommend this race for the Druid class.


Builds and Tactics 

Character Creation:  Things to Consider


Investing in Strength:  Is it worth it?

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Powerful Charge:  Strength might seem like an obvious candidate for a dump stat at first, but there are some advantages to putting at least 3 stat points into it at character creation.  Though Predators get a slight boost in durability by going with Con as a tertiary (and Fortitude boosting) stat, the following advantages may provide enough of a reason to focus on Strength instead.  The most straightforward (albeit most expendable) feat with a Str 13 prerequisite is Powerful Charge (PHB).  Druids charge a lot, so this is an obvious choice if you want to eke out as much damage from a charger build as possible. 

Figher MC/Polearm Momentum:  Multiclassing Fighter (via Battle Awareness (MP), with the pre-reqs of 13 Str and Wis) can be surprisingly effective because it opens up the feat Polearm Momentum (MP).  Note the hefty Dex prerequisite though, so only Predators are likely to go this route.  You're also stuck with an Alfsair Spear as your implement.  Despite these restrictions, the combination is potent.  First of all, Battle Awareness is a nice feat in its own right.  It grants you a free MBA if an enemy attacks an adjacent ally or shifts away from you.  If you're going the Polearm route, your main MBA is Savage Rend, which means that the Battle Awareness attack (which is an interrupt) can be used to slide the attacking enemy away from your ally, wasting its attack.  You can also use this free attack when ranged enemies try to shift away from you (even if you slide them back to you, you can't make another OA against them this round, but it sets them up for more trouble next round).  So Battle Awareness is gravy, but why Polearm Momentum?  First of all, it lets you knock any enemy that you slide 2 or more squares PRONE.  Rushing Cleats are fairly easy to obtain in Heroic, and that's all you need to make Savage Rend a slide 2.  In Paragon, Fierce Thrasher Form can be taken if you want to trade out the Rushing Cleats for something else, or if you want Savage Rend to be a slide 3.  So what you've essentially created with this build is a Druid that can knock an enemy prone at-will, including with an OA or a charge.  The best part is since Savage Rend has a slide component, the prone enemy can be positioned wherever you want it!  For melee enemies this generally means 1 square away from you (so it can't charge, and since it wasted its move action to stand up it can't attack you at all), and for ranged enemies this means adjacent to you or an ally.  Adjacent to a defender is a great place for any proned enemy to be, and flanked is especially advantageous because once they stand up they can either attack and be flanked next round or escape the flank but give up the attack. 

Light Shield Proficiency:  The March 2010 errata officially changed the wording of Wild Shape such that shields do not work in beast form.  I don't agree with this decision from a balance standpoint, and thematically it doesn't make any less sense than a Druid benefitting from armor in beast form, but it's RAW so you'll have to work around it.


Choosing a Primal Aspect

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Primal Guardian:  Guardians have arguably the worst of the Primal Aspect class features.  All it really does is turn your secondary stat into an AC boosting stat, and thus ties healing surges and AC to the same attribute, making you very tough for a Controller.  Picking up Chain Proficiency could also make up for a lack of Dex/Int as a secondary stat.  From a mechanical standpoint, this class feature does save you a feat, and thematically a Druid in heavy armor doesn't feel right, so that's a plus.

Guardians have moderate to good riders with their powers; though many riders simply add your Con mod to damage, there are plenty that enhance your control (especially with regard to forced movement).  In fact, forced movement is probably the Guardian's strongest feature, and it's often coupled with control (knocking prone, immobilize, synergizes with zones well, etc.)  Most Guardian-specific feats are sub-par.

The Guardian's secondary role is leader, and of all the builds it expresses its secondary role the least.  Particularly in the early levels, you'll mostly just be a controller without a secondary role to fall back on.  Multiclassing Shaman and picking up Mending Spirits is a good way to boost your healing.

Overall, overshadowed somewhat by the other two builds.  Choose this option if you really like the riders and/or want to build a forced movement specialist.  Guardians are often stereotyped as spending little time in beast form, but this is untrue.  They have plenty of beast form riders, and any Druid has a lot of flexibility over how much time they spend in either form.

Primal Predator:  The Primal Aspect class feature is slightly better than the Guardian's.  It too can be replicated by a feat, but Fleet Footed is a Paragon Tier feat so Predators have the edge in terms of "replacement cost."  The speed will not go to waste either, as this build focuses heavily on mobility.  An Elf Predator Druid is the fastest character in the game right out of the box.  The biggest downside of the Predator is that it's the least durable Druid build (Dex secondary means it won't have many surges).  Still, it's more durable than most controllers.  Focus on hit and run tactics instead of standing toe to toe with enemies in melee.

Where Predators really shine is the riders on their powers.  As you browse through my ratings for the Druid powers, those with Predator riders are consistently sky blue or blue.  Many of their riders allow you to shift multiple squares or have large enemy debuffs or self-buffs.  This build best epitomizes the "melee controller."  They also have solid to excellent feats.

The secondary role of the Predator Druid is, not surprisingly, striker.  You can still retain a lot of control though, because most of your damage boosting will be done through feats and items.  My recomendation would be to rely on Savage Rend as your primary damage power, leaving a lot of room for control options elsewhere.  While Predators can achieve DPR into the low-moderate striker range, their biggest advantage is in their superior mobility.  Predator Druids are arguably the most mobile build in the game (their only competition is Monks, and possibly Artful Dodger Rogues with large enough AC buffs against OAs that they ignore them); more mobile than almost any full-fledged striker, even.

Overall, if you want a mobile Druid with either high single target DPR and/or high melee control, you want a Predator.  Players that like a "skirmisher" playstyle will be drawn to this build, but don't feel like you should spend most of your time in beast form.  Predators can be effective across the whole spectrum between rarely being in beast form to rarely being in humanoid form (that said, more of their riders are for beast form powers). 

Primal Swarm:  The Primal Swarm class feature is easily the best of the Primal Aspects.  Reducing the amount of damage that you take from melee and ranged attacks by your Con modifier makes you incredibly durable.  The downside is that since Hide Armor Expertise was nerfed by the March 2010 errata, Swarm Druid AC will be non-competitive (get used to getting hit a lot).  Note that your class feature doesn't provide true damage resistance, so it stacks with any other effect that mitigates damage in any way.  Of all this builds, Swarm Druids are most encouraged to stay in beast form because that's the only time you get your pseudo-DR.

Swarm Druid powers tend to be impressive close bursts and blasts (both in size and damage), but they're generally not party friendly and they probably have the worst riders (very little control) of the three Druid builds.  This makes Swarm Druids best suited to either blasting away at enemies far from your friends (your durability protects you when you go solo against many enemies), or off-tanking and limiting the amount of "bomb" powers that they pick.  Swarm Druid feats tend to be solid (competitive with Predator feats and much better than Guardian feats).

It should come as no surprise that these guys are secondary defenders.  Between the feat Ruthless Killer and several of their powers, they can exhibit impressive stickiness and they're fairly durable (low AC notwithstanding).  Overall, their ability to off-tank was reduced when Hide Armor Expertise was hit with the nerf bat.  They also have very few ways to mark targets, and very few ways to punish enemies for attacking friends.

Overall this build tends to be the weakest at control (AoE=/=control).  Still, amazing durability and excellent AoE (and even single-target) damage are a very tempting combination, and it's not that difficult to remain effective at both.  In the face of poor party coordination and/or tactics, the high friendly fire nature of Swarm Druids would make them somewhat difficult to play effectively (this can be said of all controllers, but it's especially true for Swarm Druids, which is ironic given that they're the most control-lite of the Druid builds).


Balancing Versatility and Specialization

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The most important thing to keep in mind is that while some specialization is desirable even for a class that strongly emphasizes versatility, over-specialization is counter-productive.  So where exactly does that line lie?  Unfortunately, there aren't really any hard and fast rules, and it will mostly depend on your build and party composition.  The most general advice that I can give is that you should always favor control, even if you have a strong slant toward a secondary role.  I'll give some examples.

How Much Secondary is Too Much (Predator and Swarm Druids):  I've seen a lot of "striker" Predator builds floating around, and as a rule they focus too heavily on choosing damaging powers (particularly encounter powers).  As a Druid, the vast majority of your extra damage will come from feats and/or items that provide conditional damage on charges and from CA.  In my experience, this makes Savage Rend (or Grasping Claws) the go-to power for single-target damage (you can't charge with encounter powers).  So stay away from powers like Darting Bite, etc. because they're typically not going to bring as much to the table as a more control focused power.  If the party needs an off-striker, default to Savage Rend. 

The same goes for wannabe defender Swarm Druids.  Your class feature + Hide Expertise (and maybe a few durability powers) will make you as tough as you need to be, and all you need for stickiness is Ruthless Killer + Grasping Claws, and Clinging Drones if you want to hold onto multiple enemies.  If you put so much effort into defending (or striking for Predators) that your controlling suffers, you would have been better off making an actual defender (or striker).

In short, specialize enough to be effective at a given tactic, but recognize possible redundancies and know when you've gotten into the "overkill" territory. 

Guardian Ping-Pong:  I'll give an example for Guardian Druids now (because let's face it, they don't get enough love).  They have the best options for forced movement, but don't accumulate more forced movement than you actually need.  This will vary depending on build and party composition (and don't forget that Savage Rend can become a slide 2 around mid-Heroic with Rushing Cleats, and a slide 3 in Paragon with Fierce Thrasher Form).  If an at-will suits your needs, don't blow an encounter power!  The biggest concern with forced movement is having something useful to actually do with it.  Shove enemies into a sticky defender.  Move them into/through damaging zones.  Clump them to set them up for AoE's.  Clear paths for allies that are less endowed in the mobility department.  Couple it with control (prone, daze, immobilize).  All of these things require specific conditions to achieve synergy, so make sure that you or your allies can provide those conditions!  If you find yourself shoving enemies because it's all you can do (and then having them simply move back to where they want to be), then you need to re-evaluate your build and/or tactics.

Use What Works:  Finding an effective one-trick pony could go a long way toward freeing up your power slots for other options (making your more versatile).  Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer has already been mentioned (don't bother with grappling powers, you are already the king (or queen) of single-target sticky!).  Another example is Polearm Druids who can prone with Savage Rend at-will.  Against enemies without reach, this is all the single target control that you'll need.  Encounter and Daily powers that offer single target action denial will look far less attractive to this build, because they're redundant with an at-will.

Embracing the Beast - Or Not?:  I'd like to offer up some advice on the frequency in which you use Wild Shape.  Generally, the answer should be often.  Specifically, you should have worthwhile options for both forms so that you can tackle a wide variety of different encounter types.  At the extreme end of the scale (one at-will as your only beast or only humanoid power, which I recommend against), at least make sure that you choose your "emergency" power well; Grasping Tide is an excellent choice for a very beast-form centric Druid, as it's a generalist, high control, AoE power.  For caster specialists, Savage Rend is the cream of the crop (you'll definitely want a MBA, and a slide is typically more useful than a slow).  At this point, however, you're taking advantage of neither the minor action shift that Wild Shape allows, nor the melee vs range flexibility, and IMO that's a bit of a waste.

Usually the flow of the battle will dictate which form you find yourself in.  If you need some enemies dazed and your only powers that daze are beast form powers, that's the form you assume.  Next round you might want to push a cluster of enemies, and your only option for that is a caster power.  This makes the choice obvious.  Sometimes it's just as simple as asking an ally if they need a flanking buddy.  Always look for tactical opportunities, keeping what powers you have available in mind.  Certain monster types might also dictate your choice of form.  In beast form you might be able to lock down artillery monsters, but you can't really do anything against flying opponents.  Consider also what defenses your caster form powers target vs your beast form powers; by asking the DM a few clarifying descriptive questions, you can almost always tell which defense is low for a given monster.  Finally, your own condition may dictate your tactics.  If you're battered and bruised, it might be advantageous to hang back and fling ranged attacks for a while.  If your allies are getting pummeled and you have the HP and surges to spare, by all means close in with fangs bared and take some hits for the team. 

Mediums for Specialization:  I've already hinted at this, but I wanted to state it directly: you'll rarely need to devote all of your resources to one function.  For example, if you want to maximize your striker potential, you'll generally do so via damage boosting feats and items.  This leaves you free to choose control options for your powers, instead of seeking out powers with the highest damage dice.  Also be sure to check out alternative ways to achieve a given effect; for example, Agile Form and Pouncing Beast Armor do the exact same thing.  Sometimes you won't want to waste a feat, and sometimes you'll have a different armor enchantment in mind.  Take the path of least conflict!  You might not even need either of them, as there are plenty of powers that increase your mobility (both attack powers and utility powers).  Weigh your options carefully, look for alternatives, and do what's best for your build!



Sample Builds



Predator Polearm Build:
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Predator (Polearm), level 30
Elf, Druid, Keeper of the Hidden Flame, Sovereign Beast
Primal Aspect: Primal Predator

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 15, Con 13, Dex 26, Int 12, Wis 26, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 11, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 44 Fort: 35 Reflex: 45 Will: 42
HP: 170 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 42

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +36, Arcana +21, Athletics +21, Perception +30, Endurance +20

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +22, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +23, Heal +23, History +16, Insight +23, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Stealth +22, Streetwise +15, Thievery +22

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Enraged Boar Form
Level 2: Improved Initiative
Level 4: Agile Form (retrained to Polearm Momentum at Level 6)
Level 6: Battle Awareness
Level 8: Focused Expertise (Spear)
Level 10: Agile Form (retrained to Pouncing Form at Level 11)
Level 11: Repel Charge
Level 12: Fierce Thrasher Form
Level 14: Striking Resurgence (Retrained to Wild Surge at level 21)
Level 16: Vital Form
Level 18: Stampede
Level 20: Ferocious Tiger Form (retrained to Mobile Warrior at Level 22)
Level 21: Redoubled Efforts
Level 22: Primal Resurgence
Level 24: Robust Defenses
Level 26: Primal Summoning Expertise
Level 28: Epic Reflexes
Level 30: Swift Predator

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid encounter 1: Thorn Spray
Druid daily 1: Summon Giant Toad
Druid utility 2: Verdant Bounty
Druid encounter 3: Predator's Flurry (retrained to Battering Claws at Level 7)
Druid daily 5: Vine Serpents
Druid utility 6: Camouflage Cloak
Druid encounter 7: Latch On
Druid daily 9: Summon Crocodile
Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn
Druid encounter 13: Claws of Retribution (replaces Latch On)
Druid daily 15: Wrath of the Storm Chaser (replaces Summon Giant Toad)
Druid utility 16: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 17: Hungry for the Kill (replaces Battering Claws)
Druid daily 19: Summon Crocodile (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid utility 22: Sky Talon
Druid encounter 23: Grasping Earth (replaces Hungry for the Kill)
Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid encounter 27: Leaping Rake (replaces Thorn Spray)
Druid daily 29: Summon Elder Pack Wolf (replaces Wrath of the Storm Chaser)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Light Shield, Alfsair Spear Spear +6, Great Cat Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier), Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Belt of Raging Endurance (heroic tier), Horned Helm (paragon tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier), Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Greatwing Tattoo (paragon tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

Savage Rend knocks enemies prone each time it hits, which is the main point of this build.  Whenever the Sovereign Beast's utility power is used to change you size to large, enemies are pushed up to 3 squares (initially I thought this would prone people, but without the Implement Keyword the Alfsair Spear + Polearm Momentum doesn't have any effect).  Thanks to Mobile Warrior + Great Cat armor, every time you make an attack (hit or miss) you can shift 2 squares. Once per encounter, Leaping Rake can be used with Sovereign's Charge to hit all enemies within reach of your shift (9 squares at level 30), dazing them and knocking them prone on a hit.  The overall point of the build is to be a solid (though not optimized fully for damage) striker that can slide + prone with Savage Rend at-will.  Since Savage Rend is the main striker/single target control power in this build's arsenal, other power slots are freely utilized for versatile control options (with an emphasis on powers that synergize with Savage Rend and/or Polearm Momentum, such as Claws of Retribution and Wrath of the Storm Chaser).  I'm not 100% sure that Polearm Momentum applies to the effect/zone of WotSC, but since it has the Implement Keyword and it's an attack power, I'm operating under the assumption that it's valid.  Feel free to point out any rules text that suggests otherwise.  Finally, this is my first foray into Epic tier character building, so any advice on the latter third of the build would be especially helpful.

PHB3 has introduced the Paragon feat Repel Charge, which is absolutely perfect for this build.  Enemies can now be slid multiple squares away from you and knocked prone, and being charged by them is no longer a risk (excellent for enemies with reach, which previously could overcome this build's main trick).  Use Savage Rend for the OA triggered by Repel Charge, and slide the enemy out of reach, negating its attack.  Plus that's another opportunity to knock the poor sod prone again!


Guardian Polearm Build with Summoning Focus (provided by Squad)
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
RSDF, level 30
Razorclaw Shifter, Druid, Primal Summoner, Reincarnate Champion
Build: Guardian Druid
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Spear)
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Staff)
Epic Vitality: Epic Vitality Wisdom
Past Spirit: Past Spirit (Longtooth Shifter)
Past Spirit: Past Spirit (Githzerai)
Dragon Breath Key Ability: Dragon Breath Constitution
Dragon Breath Damage Type: Dragon Breath Lightning
Firepulse: Firepulse Constitution
Earthshock: Earthshock Constitution
Darkfire: Darkfire Wisdom
Razor Storm Key Ability: Razor Storm Constitution
Background: Wild Hunter (+2 to Athletics)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 24, Dex 17, Int 12, Wis 28, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 11, Con 16, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 45 Fort: 42 Reflex: 41 Will: 43
HP: 181 Surges: 14 Surge Value: 45

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +37, Insight +31, Perception +31, Endurance +27, Athletics +23

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics  +20, Arcana +18, Bluff +17, Diplomacy +17, Dungeoneering +26, Heal +26,  History +18, Intimidate +17, Religion +18, Stealth +20, Streetwise +17,  Thievery +18

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Enraged Boar Form
Level 2: Versatile Expertise
Level 4: Wrathful Warrior (retrained to Battle Awareness at Level 21)
Level 6: Deadly Draw
Level 8: Polearm Momentum
Level 10: Strong-Willed Summoning
Level 11: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 22)
Level 12: Fierce Thrasher Form
Level 14: Opportunistic Withdrawal (retrained to Githzerai Mobility at Level 24)
Level 16: Repel Charge
Level 18: Weapon Focus (Spear)
Level 20: Quick Wild Shape
Level 21: Rapid Regeneration
Level 22: Robust Defenses
Level 24: Primal Summoning Expertise
Level 26: Epic Reflexes
Level 28: Defensive Advantage
Level 30: Primal Resurgence

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide (Druid)
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid encounter 1: Call Forth the Spirit Pack
Druid daily 1: Summon Giant Toad
Druid utility 2: Grit and Spittle
Druid encounter 3: Battering Claws
Druid daily 5: Summon Pack Wolf
Druid utility 6: Swarm Dispersal
Druid encounter 7: Roar of the Unbowed Beast
Druid daily 9: Summon Crocodile
Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn
Druid encounter 13: Tidal Surge (replaces Roar of the Unbowed Beast)
Druid daily 15: Summon Great Eagle (replaces Summon Giant Toad)
Druid utility 16: Insightful Riposte
Druid encounter 17: Torrential Storm (replaces Battering Claws)
Druid daily 19: Summon Guardian Briar (replaces Summon Pack Wolf)
Druid utility 22: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 23: Primal Roar (replaces Call Forth the Spirit Pack)
Druid daily 25: Writhing Henge (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid encounter 27: Thunder Claw (replaces Tidal Surge)
Druid daily 29: Summon Elder Pack Wolf (replaces Summon Great Eagle)

ITEMS
Ritual  Book, Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Phantom Chaussures (paragon tier),  Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Belt of Vim (paragon tier), Iron Armbands  of Power (epic tier), Ring of Protection (paragon tier), Horned Helm  (epic tier), Periapt of Cascading Health +6, Backlash Tattoo (heroic  tier), Blood Fury Scythe +1, Alfsair Spear Spear +6, Summoner's Staff  +2, Ring of Action Reversal (paragon tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======



Predator Striker Build:
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Predator (Striker), level 30
Elf, Druid, Coiled Serpent, Sovereign Beast
Primal Aspect: Primal Predator

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 14, Con 14, Dex 26, Int 12, Wis 26, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 12, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 45 Fort: 35 Reflex: 43 Will: 42
HP: 170 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 42

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +28, Perception +28, Athletics +21, Stealth + 29

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +24, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +23, Endurance +15, Heal +23, History +16, Insight +23, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Streetwise +15, Thievery +22

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Enraged Boar Form
Level 2: Implement Expertise (staff)
Level 4: Weapon Focus (Staff)
Level 6: Superior Implement Proficiency (staff)
Level 8: Ferocious Tiger Form
Level 10: Agile Form (retrained to Pouncing Form at level 11)
Level 11: Quick Wild Shape
Level 12: Powerful Charge
Level 14: Shadow Initiate
Level 16: Venom Hand Master
Level 18: Primal Fury
Level 20: Hafted Defense
Level 21: Primal Summoning Expertise
Level 22: Primal Resurgence
Level 24: Robust Defenses
Level 26: Swift Predator
Level 28: Wild Surge
Level 30: Blood Thirst

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend
Druid at-will 1: Fire Hawk
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid encounter 1: Thorn Spray
Druid daily 1: Summon Giant Toad
Druid utility 2: Sudden Bite
Druid encounter 3: Predator's Flurry
Druid daily 5: Summon Stalking Panther
Druid utility 6: Rodent's Agility
Druid encounter 7: Blood-Spray Bite
Druid daily 9: Summon Crocodile
Druid utility 10: Animal Clan
Druid encounter 13: Claws of Retribution (replaces Predator's Flurry)
Druid daily 15: Summon Savage Tiger (replaces Summon Giant Toad)
Druid utility 16: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 17: Hungry for the Kill (replaces Blood-Spray Bite)
Druid daily 19: Summon Guardian Briar (replaces Summon Stalking Panther)
Druid utility 22: Sky Talon
Druid encounter 23: Grasping Earth (replaces Thorn Spray)
Druid daily 25: Primal Tiger (replaces Summon Savage Tiger)
Druid encounter 27: Leaping Rake (replaces Hungry for the Kill)
Druid daily 29: Summon Elder Pack Wolf (replaces Summon Crocodile)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Accurate Staff of Ruin +6, Light Shield, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Horned Helm (epic tier), Boots of the Fencing Master (heroic tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Baldric of Tactical Positioning (paragon tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier), Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (paragon tier), Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier), Executioner's Bracers (epic tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

This build is all about damage, pure and simple.  The best way to do this is to get CA and charge as much as possible (preferably simultaneously).  Feats are almost all damage boosters.  Summons are heavily favored because instinctive actions boost DPR.  Swarming Locusts is chosen because it's the highest damage at-will AoE, and because it provides CA (which greatly increases this build's damage output).  For more control, it can be swapped out for Grasping Tide (almost as much damage, plus prone will provide CA anyways).  Most pure-damage encounter powers, however, were ignored in favor of powers that provide a bit more control (you don't want to completely neglect your role).

Alternative PPs for Striker Druids are Blood Moon Stalker, which offers greater nova potential and is a bit more front-loaded than Coiled Serpent (though it sacrifices control and a little mobility), and the Blightbeast, which is only a viable PP for Con based Druids who want to dabble in striking.


Guardian Version of a Striker Build (provided by Squad)
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
LSDF, level 30
Longtooth Shifter, Druid, Blightbeast, World Tree Guardian
Build: Guardian Druid
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Staff)
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Totem)
Background: Wild Hunter (+2 to Athletics)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 16, Con 24, Dex 14, Int 12, Wis 26, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 12, Con 16, Dex 12, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 45 Fort: 42 Reflex: 40 Will: 42
HP: 181 Surges: 14 Surge Value: 45

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +28, Perception +28, Insight +28, Endurance +29, Athletics +27

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +17, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +23, Heal +23, History +16, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Stealth +17, Streetwise +15, Thievery +17

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Enraged Boar Form
Level 2: Superior Implement Training (Accurate staff)
Level 4: Versatile Expertise
Level 6: Vicious Advantage
Level 8: Weapon Focus (Staff)
Level 10: Ruthless Killer
Level 11: Opportunistic Withdrawal (retrained to Long Step at Level 21)
Level 12: Ferocious Tiger Form
Level 14: Gorebrute Charge
Level 16: Powerful Charge
Level 18: Quick Wild Shape
Level 20: Battle Awareness
Level 21: Slashing Storm
Level 22: Rapid Regeneration
Level 24: Robust Defenses
Level 26: Epic Reflexes
Level 28: Second Skin
Level 30: Primal Resurgence

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Claws
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide (Druid)
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid encounter 1: Call Forth the Spirit Pack
Druid daily 1: Lightning Arc
Druid utility 2: Grit and Spittle
Druid encounter 3: Roar of the Unbowed Beast
Druid daily 5: Clinging Drones
Druid utility 6: Swarm Dispersal
Druid encounter 7: Tundra Wind
Druid daily 9: Entangle
Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn
Druid encounter 13: Expose Weakness (replaces Call Forth the Spirit Pack)
Druid daily 15: Primal Boar (replaces Lightning Arc)
Druid utility 16: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 17: Cloud of Sparrows (replaces Tundra Wind)
Druid daily 19: Primal Lion (replaces Clinging Drones)
Druid utility 22: Insightful Riposte
Druid encounter 23: Primal Roar (replaces Roar of the Unbowed Beast)
Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Entangle)
Druid encounter 27: Thunder Claw (replaces Expose Weakness)
Druid daily 29: Earth Maw (replaces Primal Boar)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Phantom Chaussures (paragon tier), Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Belt of Vim (paragon tier), Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier), Ring of Protection (paragon tier), Horned Helm (epic tier), Blood Fury Scythe +1, Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier), Accurate staff of Corrosion +6, Aversion Accurate staff +1, Ring of Action Reversal (paragon tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger
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Guardian Slip 'n Die Build:
A high control, forced movement specialist with plenty of zones to provide a nice destination for enemies.  Race undecided.

Guardian Leader Build:
Shaman MC for Mending Spirit, moderate control that focuses on aiding allies.  Race Undecided.

Swarm Atomic Bomb Build:
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Swarm (Bomb), level 30
Wilden, Druid, Blightbeast, Demigod
Primal Aspect: Primal Swarm
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Wisdom
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Constitution
Hardy Form: Hardy Form Will

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 28, Dex 15, Int 12, Wis 28, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 11, Con 16, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 41 Fort: 46 Reflex: 37 Will: 46
HP: 185 Surges: 16 Surge Value: 46

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +31, Perception +29, Athletics +21, Arcana +21

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +17, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +24, Endurance +24, Heal +24, History +16, Insight +24, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Stealth +24, Streetwise +15, Thievery +17

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Hide Armor Expertise (retrained to Hafted Defense at level 11)
Level 2: Implement Expertise (staff)
Level 4: Weapon Focus (Staff)
Level 6: Superior Implement Proficiency
Level 8: Coordinated Explosion
Level 10: Defensive Mobility
Level 11: Bolstered Swarm
Level 12: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 22)
Level 14: Quick Wild Shape
Level 16: Staggering Smash
Level 18: Agile Form
Level 20: Paragon Defenses (retrained to Robust Defenses at Level 21)
Level 21: Primal Resurgence
Level 22: Wild Surge
Level 24: Vital Form
Level 26: Epic Resurgence
Level 28: Epic Fortitude
Level 30: Primal Aspect Form

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide
Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend
Druid encounter 1: Scattered Form
Druid daily 1: Savage Frenzy
Druid utility 2: Warding Wind
Druid encounter 3: Flowing Swarm
Druid daily 5: Roar of Terror
Druid utility 6: Rodent's Agility
Druid encounter 7: Thorn Castle
Druid daily 9: Flurry of Stingers
Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn
Druid encounter 13: Floating Death (replaces Thorn Castle)
Druid daily 15: Devouring Flies (replaces Flurry of Stingers)
Druid utility 16: Howl of the Wild
Druid encounter 17: Cloud of Sparrows (replaces Scattered Form)
Druid daily 19: Primal Lion (replaces Savage Frenzy)
Druid utility 22: Sky Talon
Druid encounter 23: Primal Roar (replaces Flowing Swarm)
Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Devouring Flies)
Druid encounter 27: Disorienting Drone (replaces Floating Death)
Druid daily 29: Blinding Blizzard (Primal Lion)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Accurate Staff of Ruin +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Roc Elderhide Armor +6, Shield of Deflection Light Shield (epic tier), Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Antipathy Gloves (heroic tier), Essence of the Wisp (epic tier), Cloak of Displacement +6, Belt of Breaching (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Greater Ring of Invisibility (epic tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

A Swarm Druid that stays as far away from allies as possible, preferring to get behind enemy lines to safely use close bursts/blasts.  Area damage will be maxed, with emphasis on durability second and mobility and forced movement (to get into position or position enemies) when possible. Salve of Power will typically be used on Roar of Terror, which benefits from both Psychic Lock and Staggering Smash.  I generally don't like choosing Demigod as an ED (because I feel it's too good), but Divine Spark does boost area attack and damage, and as far as I know there isn't an ED with any other kind of AoE synergy. 


Swarm Defender Build:
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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Swarm (Defender), level 30
Dwarf, Druid, Luminescent Swarm, World Tree Guardian
Primal Aspect: Primal Swarm

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 15, Con 26, Dex 13, Int 12, Wis 26, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 16, Dex 11, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.


AC: 41 Fort: 45 Reflex: 36 Will: 46
HP: 183 Surges: 17 Surge Value: 53

TRAINED SKILLS
Nature +28, Perception +28, Heal +28, Athletics +22, Endurance +30

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +16, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +25, History +16, Insight +23, Intimidate +15, Religion +16, Stealth +21, Streetwise +15, Thievery +16

FEATS
Druid: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Hide Armor Expertise
Level 2: Ruthless Killer
Level 4: Implement Expertise (staff)
Level 6: Battle Awareness
Level 8: Hafted Defense
Level 10: Stone Step Spirits
Level 11: Vital Form
Level 12: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 21)
Level 14: Bolstered Swarm
Level 16: Dwarven Durability
Level 18: Paragon Defenses (retrained to Robust Defenses at Level 22)
Level 20: Quick Wild Shape
Level 21: Primal Resurgence
Level 22: Epic Fortitude
Level 24: Primal Summoning Expertise
Level 26: Epic Will
Level 28: Vicious Advantage
Level 30: Primal Aspect Form

POWERS
Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts
Druid at-will 1: Call of the Beast
Druid at-will 1: Grasping Claws
Druid encounter 1: Call Forth the Spirit Pack
Druid daily 1: Summon Pack Wolf
Druid utility 2: Barkskin
Druid encounter 3: Predator's Flurry
Druid daily 5: Clinging Drones
Druid utility 6: Swarm Dispersal
Druid encounter 7: Roar of the Unbowed Beast
Druid daily 9: Summon Crocodile
Druid utility 10: Armor of the Wild
Druid encounter 13: Tidal Surge (replaces Roar of the Unbowed Beast)
Druid daily 15: Summon Crocodile (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid utility 16: Darting Viper
Druid encounter 17: Lightning Cascade (replaces Tidal Surge)
Druid daily 19: Summon Guardian Briar (replaces Summon Pack Wolf)
Druid utility 22: Protective Whirlwind
Druid encounter 23: Grasping Earth (replaces Lightning Cascade)
Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Summon Crocodile)
Druid encounter 27: Disorienting Drone (replaces Predator's Flurry)
Druid daily 29: Summon Elder Pack Wolf (replaces Summon Guardian Briar)

ITEMS
Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Staff of Ruin +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Enduring Beast Elderhide Armor +6, Cloak of the Walking Wounded +6, Recoil Shield Light Shield (heroic tier), Sandals of Avandra (epic tier), Antipathy Gloves (heroic tier), Crown of Eyes (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Belt of Blood (heroic tier), Ring of Heroic Health (epic tier), Greater Ring of Invisibility (epic tier)
RITUALS
Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

The ultimate off-tank.  Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer will make this guy extremely sticky.  Mobility-hampering control will be favored over damage, with a very strong emphasis on durability and self-sufficiency.  Dwarf was chosen for the second wind synergy and general toughness, though Longtooth Shifter is also an excellent choice if you want a very durable character.  Salve of Power is used on Clinging Drones, and summons are chosen for stickiness or (in the case of Guardian Briar) ability to aid allies.  Because this build will spend the vast majority of time in beast form, I didn't feel too bad about giving it a situational humanoid at-will (Call of the Beast).  This power is mostly used as a last resort if enemies (especially skirmishers) pile onto an ally and you have no other way of getting them off or keeping them stuck to you.


Master Summoner Build:
I'm debating whether or not to actually stat this out, as it's mostly common sense.  Pick summons for all of your Dailies, use a Summoner's Staff as your implement, grab the feats Strong Willed Summoning and Primal Summoning Expertise, and go with Primal Summoner for your Paragon Path.  Works best with Guardian, and worst with Swarm.  Pick up Firehawk for flavor, and most of your other choices can be whatever.


Combos


Check out my Controlling 101 Thread for controller tactics in general.

Chill Wind Attack Enabler
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Piece 1:  Chill Wind (Druid at-will, PHB2)
Piece 2:  Ally/allies (preferably with good basic attacks) with Agile Opportunist (Paragon feat, PHB2)
Piece 3 (optional):  Cold resistance for allies from piece 2 (various sources).

Sequence:  Have allies cluster up near an enemy or enemies.  Hit as many targets (both allies and enemies) as you can with Chill Wind.  Slide enemies into position if necessary, then slide allies adjacent to enemy/enemies (preferably into flanking positions).  This will trigger Agile Opportunist, and they'll be able to make MBAs against their foes.


Safe At-Will Immobilization
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Piece 1:  Grasping Claws (Druid at-will, PHB2)
Piece 2:  Ruthless Killer (Heroic Druid feat, D382)
Piece 3:  Vicious Advantage (Heroic feat, PHB3)
Piece 4:  Defensive Advantage (Paragon feat, PHB)
Piece 5:  Aversion Staff - may be wielded off-hand (Staff Enchantment, PHB3)
Piece 6:  Marauder's Armor (Armor Enchantment, AV2)
Piece 7 (optional):  Defensive Mobility (Heroic feat, PHB)

Sequence:  Charge and enemy using Grasping Claws as your MBA.  This will slow the enemy, or immobilize them as long as you're adjacent thanks to Ruthless Killer.  Vicious Advantage causes the enemy to provide CA while slowed or immobilized.  Since slowed/immobilized is a status effect, you gain a +2 bonus to defenses vs the target from the Aversion staff.  Since you have CA, Defensive Advantage provides another +2 to AC.  Since you charged, Marauder's Armor provides another bonus to AC.  The net result is that the enemy is locked down, granting CA (be glad you have Claw Gloves!), and given your substantial buff to AC, will be unlikely to effectively retaliate.  Your conditionally high AC will make provoking OAs less of a threat (especially if you have Defensive Mobility), so feel free to just walk 2 squares away next round and charge again (with CA, since the enemy is still slowed).  Especially potent against ranged enemies, who will either have to use a weak melee attack against you or provoke an OA to use a ranged attack.


Savage Rend Action Denial
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Piece 1:  Savage Rend (Druid at-will, PHB2)
Piece 2:  Prone Enabler/Out of Turn Attack*
Piece 3 (optional):  Rushing Cleats
Piece 4 (optional):  Fierce Thrasher Form

*List of Options that Fulfill Piece 2: 

Out of Turn Attacks:  Claws of Retribution (Druid Encounter 13, PHB2), Repel Charge (Paragon feat, PHB3), leader-granted benefits (ex. Foolhardy Fighting, Bard Encounter 13, PHB2).

Prone Enablers:  Primal Wolf (Druid Daily 9, PHB2), Polearm Momentum (Heroic Fighter feat, MP2) + Alfsair Spear (Weapon Enchantment, AV2)

Sequence:  This is essentially a set of different combos, all of which function similarly (namely, to use the slide of Savage Rend to deny enemy actions).  I highly recommend picking up at least one of the optional pieces if you utilize the out of turn attacks, as these will give you a slide 2 (or 3, with both), which can be used to deny the actions of enemies with reach.  For out of turn attack options, just set up the conditions for the enemy to provoke attacks from you (example: use the Claws of Retribution power while adjacent to several enemies).  When the enemy attacks, an OA is triggered, allowing you to use Savage Rend to interrupt the triggering attack.  If you slide the target to a space where it cannot reach its target of the triggering attack, then the action is wasted.  In addition to the potent control that these combos provide, out of turn attacks also provide a nice boost to your DPR.

The Prone Enablers both add the "prone" condition to your Savage Rend, so all you need to do is slide the enemy 1 square away from you, and preferably position it such that you are blocking a path to your allies (or nearby allies are also 1 square away from the enemy).  This prevents the enemy from charging you after spending its move action to stand up, and hopefully it won't have a clear path to allies either.  Note that this doesn't work against enemies with reach, however you can combine a prone enabler with Repel Charge to slide an enemy with reach 2 or 3 squares away, thus giving you the opportunity to shut them down through your out of turn attack. 

In general, Druids who plan on abusing Savage Rend + Repel Charge should pick up as many daze and prone powers as possible in order to goad enemies into charging them (or providing them with no other choice than to charge). 


Slow 'em up and knock 'em down
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Piece 1: Grasping Claws (Druid at-will, PHB2)


Piece 2: World Serpent's Grasp (feat, HotFK)


Piece 3 (optional): Boots of Adept Charging (level 2, AV)


Piece 4 (optional)*: Pouncing Beast Armor (level 4, PHB2)


Piece 5 (optional)*: Agile Form (feat, PrP)


*functionally identical


Sequence: Slow an enemy by hitting them with Grasping Claws (or any attack that slows). This step can be conveniently skipped if an ally has already slowed an enemy. Next round (or this round via an action point) hit them again with Grasping Claws to knock them prone and keep them slowed (so you can spam this next round if desired). If you hit the enemy as part of a charge attack, Boots of Adept Charging allow you to shift away (leaving you safe from counter-attack if the enemy doesn't have reach).


Without charging, you can use hit and run tactics against melee enemies without reach as long as you keep hitting if you have either Agile Form or Pouncing Beast Armor (both allow you to shift 1 when you use Wild Shape to enter beast form). For example, if you start your turn in beast form 1 square away from the enemy you can use your move action to move adjacent, hit them with Grasping Claws (knocking them prone), and then use Wild Shape to shift 1 square away again. At the start of your next turn you can use Wild Shape to shift 1 square adjacent to the enemy while entering beast form, attack with Grasping Claws (once again knocking them prone), and then use your move action to shift 1 square away again. If they use a double move to stand up and then move adjacent to you then you'll simply have an extra action to play with, and if they use a double move to stand up and run away then you can easily catch them again by charging.


If the enemy has reach you can still hit and run every other round assuming you're faster than them (your turn will consist of Grasping Claws, Wild Shape + shift, move action full speed). Obviously against ranged opponents you'll use the slow + prone combination to keep them adjacent to you instead of hitting and running. This way they can either stand up and then shift away on their turn, stand up and use a ranged attack (provoking an OA from you), or stand up and use a sub-par melee attack.


Keep in mind that this tactic requires you to consistently hit for it to keep working; every time you miss you lose a round of being able to prone, since you'll have to slow the enemy again. Therefore, I highly recommend anything that increases your accuracy, especially powers, feats, etc that allow you to get CA (since that will allow your Claw Gloves to net you solid DPR at the same time).



Feats

STATUS:  All of the General and Class feats are up for all three tiers.  I don't see the Racial feats as much of a priority, so I'll wait until more important sections are complete before tackling them.  Note that I'm not including every single General or Racial feat, as many of them aren't even worth glancing at for a Druid.



Heroic Tier



General Feats

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Implement Expertise/Focused Expertise (PHB2/PHB3):  Basically the same feat, except that focused expertise applies the bonus if you ever want to hit anyone with your staff.  Could be useful if you're stuck in humanoid form when someone provokes an OA.  After all, there's no downside to taking Focused Expertise over Implement Expertise.  Unfortunately, this feat is basically a math fix (without it PCs get less accurate as they level up) so if you don't like missing you should take it.  Despite the fact that it's gold, the math doesn't start to get wonky until later levels so don't feel like you have to take this first.  Definitely pick it up by mid to late Heroic tier, though.  Some DMs houserule that everyone gets this for free, so you might want to ask your DM about that.

Mark of Passage (EPG):  Between Wild Shape and all of the powers with shifts tacked on, Druids shift a lot.  This will probably come into play most rounds for Predators (especially if you like to switch between beast and humanoid form a lot).

Superior Implement Training (PHB3):  A great way to give your attacks a little more oomph as a caster.

Wintertouched (PHB):
  Combine with Lasting Frost to cause enemies to grant CA and cold vulnerability whenever they're hit with a cold power.  Druids have an ok selection of cold powers, but if you plan on taking advantage of the "Frostcheese" combo you should pick up a Cold Quarterstaff.

Coordinated Explosion (PHB2):  If you plan on using a lot of AoE's, you're probably going to suffer from "friendly fire" sooner or later.  Might as well benefit from it.  Make sure that you remember which of your allies has high Reflex and Fortitude, and choose your attacks accordingly based on who is in the area.  You might want to synergize with an exceptionally tough ally, perhaps even choosing powers correspending to the resistances that your party has.  With some planning, catching an ally in the blast could turn into a good thing!

Deadly Draw (PHB3):  Combat advantage against enemies that you pull or slide adjacent to you.  Good thing you can do that at-will (aren't you glad you picked up those Claw Gloves?). 

Hide Armor Expertise (PrP):  Only relevant for Swarm Druids; Predators and Guardians get nothing from it.  The March 2010 errata severely limited the potency of this feat.  Instead of adding your Con mod to AC while wearing Hide, you can use a +2 bonus instead of your Dex or Int.  If you dump them completely, you'll want to pick this up, but by Epic your stat bumps will turn even a starting modifier of +1 into a +2, meaning that it's time to re-train this.

Impending Victory (PHB3):  A +1 bonus to at-will attacks against bloodied creatures isn't too bad for a class with exceptional at-wills. 

Improved Initiative (PHB):  Controllers should generally act before the monsters.  It allows them to preemptively set up favorable conditions before the monster's have even had a chance to act.  Certain Dailies (Faerie Fire, Wall of Thorns, Vine Serpents, Entangle) are good choices for locking or slowing down enemies before they can do anything.

Skill Power (PHB3):  Another utility power for the price of a feat?  Yes, please!  I'm fond of some of the options for Heal and Endurance, personally.

Staggering Smash (PrP):  You have access to a lot of powers that daze.  Some of them are melee.  Being able to place a dazed enemy 1 square away from you prevents them from charging you.  A great option to enhance your control.  The push will only be useful against stunned creatures if you push them into an ongoing damage zone, hazardous terrain, etc.  Still, an excellent choice.

Toughness (PHB):  If you have room for it, take it.  The extra HP is a nice perk, and it also increases your bloodied value and surge value correspondingly (so over the course of an adventuring day, it works out to be more than just 5/10/15 extra HP).  Your summons can use the extra HP, too.

Vicious Advantage (PHB3):  CA against slowed or immobilized targets is great!  As a controller you'll be dishing out those effects often, and Claw Gloves will ensure that you get a lot of mileage out of it!

Weapon Focus (PHB):  If you use a staff or an Alfsair Spear, you can apply this bonus to your implement attacks.  One of the better options for increasing your damage output since it's not situational, and it scales with tier.

Combat Reflexes (PHB):  To-hit bonuses are nice, and you have good OAs, but you probably won't have room for this feat.  Still, it could be useful for off-tanks. 

Defensive Mobility (PHB):  Swarm Druids that specialize in getting behind enemy lines and blowing everything up with their close attacks might want to look into this.  Predators don't need it with all of the shifting they can do.

Distant Advantage (PHB2):  As a class that can enter melee to benefit from CA, this isn't as much of a must-have for you as it is for fully ranged classes.  Still, if you have allies that reliably set up flanks then this could be a significant accuracy boost for you.  Combine with Coordinated Explosion and watch the fireworks.

Durable (PHB):  The extra surges can be useful, especially for a Predator.  Salves of Power and Summons are two things that can chip away at your surges.  Still, it's not a top priority.  I would advise playing through a few levels, and if you're consistently the reason why the party has to stop to rest, then pick it up (I'd advise that for any character thinking about Durable, not just Druids).

Mark of Storm (EPG):  Druids aren't exactly swimming in thunder/lightning powers, but anyone planning on taking the Storm Speaker PP should at least pick this up.  Better if you plan on wielding a Lightning Quarterstaff.

Powerful Charge (PHB):  A good choice if you're trying to get your damage as high as it can go; you already have other ways of boosting charge damage.  Overall, Enraged Boar Form is better though, so pick that up first.

Timely Respite (PHB2):  If you're going to take this, you should already have a better-than-normal second wind (Dwarves, Wild Surge, Vital Form).   

Fast Runner (PHB):  You charge a lot, but I can't remember a situation where my Elven Predator has ever needed to cover more distance.  Maybe a Dwarf could use it though.

Hafted Defense (PHB3):  The powers that be have declared that this doesn't work in beast form, which is when you'll need AC the most.  Pass.

Reckless Charge (PrP):  As far as charge enhancing feats go, this one's a pretty bad deal.  If you can coordinate with your defender such that you're never really at much risk of being attacked after charging then it's worth it, but the odds of that consistently going smoothly are pretty slim.

Restful Healing (PHB2):  You don't really have enough healing powers to make this useful unless you MC Shaman and then take Mending Spirit (you get the Shaman's Healing Spirit's 1/enc).  The purple rating assumes that this is the case.

Staff Fighting (D368):  Makes your staff a 2 handed weapon with the "defensive" property.  Nice AC boost...at least until you Wild Shape.  You don't benefit from mundane weapon properties in beast form, and that's just when you need the AC the most. 

Animal Empathy (PrP):  How often do you need Insight when "dealing with beasts?"  I get that it's thematic, and something that Druids should be able to do, but the mechanical benefits are situational and not very good to begin with.  You're a Wisdom based class, so your Insight should be fine for most skill checks regardless. 


Improved Bull Rush (PHB2):  You have Savage Rend.  Walk away, and don't look back.  Forget about this feat's existence. 

Improved Grab (PHB2):  Even if you have a grappler build you don't want this.  Grappler Druids use their powers, not the grab action, to grab (counter-intuitive, isn't it?).  In any case, this bonus won't work with a power like Latch On because it's not the grab action (rather, it has a grab effect).

Shield Proficiency (Light) (PHB):  The March 2010 errata has decreed that this no longer works in beast form.  Bummer.



Class Feats

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Agile Form (PrP):  Shift 1 square when you use Wild Shape to go into beast form.  With this feat, you can potentially shift as a minor action every round (assuming you're fine with constantly bouncing between beast and humanoid forms).  Note that Pouncing Beast Armor does the exact same thing, but as far as I know the two do stack so you may want to pick up both.

Enraged Boar Form (PHB2):  +1 to attack and +2 to damage while charging.  Since charging already gives you an intrinsic +1 to attack, you can secure a decent increase in DPR when you charge (try charging with CA for an overall +4 to attack).  Furthermore, you have great powers (Savage Rend and Grasping Claws) that you can use with a charge.

Ruthless Killer (D382):  As long as you stay adjacent to the target, you can choose to immobilize rather than slow the target of Grasping Claws.  You couldn't ask for a better feat if you're an off-tank trying to become stickier. 

Primal Fury (PHB2):  Predator only, gives you a +1 to attack against bloodied enemies (with Primal powers).  If the party focus fires enough that there are consistently bloodied enemies on the battlefield you can get this bonus more than 50% of the time.  Definitely worthwhile.

Stinging Swarm (PrP):  You'll probably get hit a lot as a Swarm Druid, which means that you'll have CA a lot if you take this feat.  And no worries, because you can resist a good chunk of the damage you take. 

Strong Willed Summoning (PrP):  One of the few ways to boost your summoning prowess in Heroic tier.  This can probably wait for late Heroic though, when you're more likely to have a summoned creature out almost every encounter. 

Ape's Reach (D383):  Opens up Polearm Gamble as an option, but only when you're bloodied.  Also allows you to hide behind the defender while you pound on the enemy with Grasping Claws or Savage Rend.  Plus, if you're bloodied you probably need the protection that reach could give you.  The bonus to Athletics checks is icing on the cake, making this a solid feat.

Druid of Darkness (PrP):  It's Ferocious Tiger Form, but just for Drow.  The good news is that they stack, so if you want to build a striker Druid that plays like a Rogue (and are willing to go with Drow), you might as well pick this up. 

Ferocious Tiger Form (PHB2):  +2 damage when you have CA in beast form.  If you have room for it, it synergizes nicely with Claw Gloves.  Weapon Focus is a better choice though, since it applies all the time (though WF won't work with totems).  Builds with a strong focus on dealing damage will probably take it eventually.

Patient Hunter (D382):  Makes Pounce a black power.  Do you really want to spend a feat to make one of your sub-par at-wills merely average?  That said, if you're set on Pounce you'll want to pick this up.

Predator's Burst (PrP):  The feat table says that you get a +1 to attack while charging with this, but the feat description says it's a +1 to damage.  If it's the former bump it up to blue, if it's the latter bump it down to purple.  The general rule of thumb is to go with what the text says, but hopefully an errata will get rid of this ambiguity. 

Stampede (D383):  Free movement after a charge is nice.  This synergizes really well with Polearm builds (easily blue), since you need to slide an enemy 2 squares to knock them prone, and you generally want to be 1 square away from prone enemies (so they can't charge you).  Without this feat you can still slide them to within 1 square of you, but being able to move a square yourself allows you to fine-tune your positioning better.

Turtle's Shell (D383):  Very flavorful, but mechanically it's only useful for a few builds.  Dwarves will usually use their second wind in every encounter; twice after they pick up Vital Form.  Wild Surge lets any race do this, but you can't get it until Epic.  For those that can use it cheaply (minor or free action) and often (2/enc with Vital Form), it's a significant defensive buff and is probably blue.

Constrictor's Grasp (D383):  Useful only for grappler builds.  Decent source of auto damage if you like to spam Latch On. 

Primal Instinct (PHB2):  Conditionally useful, but probably not worth a feat slot for most builds.  You can't use it on yourself, and as the controller you're most likely to want to go first.  If there's a Rogue in the party this might be black since it decreases the odds of them losing First Strike. 

Quick Stow (PrP):  You're usually not going to be holding anything too important unless you're multiclassed into a weapon user.  In that case, you should probably pick this up, otherwise ignore it.  Note that the example of "Shields" as a "held item" is more than likely erroneous (for further explanation see the "Character Creation" section).  I'm not a fan of this feat specifically for the shield controversy that it introduced into RAW.

Shifting Wind (D383):  Dwarves can use it to boost their mobility a bit, but it's still only a 1/encounter shift (until you get Vital Form).  Once you hit Epic and Wild Surge becomes available, any race can make use of this.

Unstoppable Beast (D382):  You can shift 1 square into the target's original space when you use Savage Rend.  Savage Rend is a great power, but this feat doesn't really do much to enhance it.  It might be useful for Alfsair Spear + Polearm Momentum Druids who want to stay 1 square away from their prone targets (though that can already be done without this feat).


Watchful Guardian (PrP):  This bonus is so situational that I would more than likely forget I even have it.  It requires you to be in beast form and assumes that a monster will actually risk provoking an OA (in my experience this happens fairly rarely).  Then you have to remember that adjacent allies get the bonus too.  I'm skeptical that a Druid is going to be adjacent to an ally often enough for this to be worth a feat slot.

Beast Form Eyes (D383):  Do you really want to spend a precious feat slot just to get low light vision?  What makes this feat even worse is that if you already have low light vision, it's just a paltry +2 bonus to Perception.

Cheetah's Speed (D383):  A +4 speed bonus while charging is fairly significant, but the requirement that you need to be bloodied just kills it.

Monkey's Rush (D383):  If you haven't figured it out yet, these D383 feats are largely pretty useless.  As with Wild Bull Rush, why on earth would a Druid do it?

Slithering Form (D383):  Why would you need to crawl?  Standing up is a move action and doesn't provoke OAs.  Druids are also good at charging and have range attacks. 

Wild Bull Rush (PrP):  Why on earth would a Druid have a reason to bull rush?  Savage Rend is superior in every way.  Pass.


Racial Feats

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DEVA:
Focus the Spirits' Lives (PrP):  Better than Auspicious Lineage if you spend a lot of time in beast form.

Auspicious Lineage (PHB2):  Not likely to make much of a different, but accuracy is accuracy.

DRAGONBORN:
Enlarged Dragon Breath (PHB):  A minor action close blast 5 isn't too shabby for a controller.

DROW:
Druid of Darkness (PrP):  It's Ferocious Tiger Form.  Since they stack, Drow basically get to take the feat twice.  Not too bad, for pseudo strikers.

DWARF:
Stone Step Spirits (PrP):  Shifting is moving, so this basically gives you the Elf's Wild Step and then some, because you can also ignore difficult terrain on a charge.  A huge boon for Dwarven Druids, whose biggest weakness is their slow speed.

Spirits of Stone (PrP):  You get a +2 bonus to your next attack after using your second wind.  Dwarves have no reason not to use their second wind every single encounter (twice, after they've picked up Vital Form in Paragon), which means that this is a pretty decent attack buff.

ELADRIN:
Eladrin Soldier (PHB):  If you're multiclassing with a weapon using class, this is probably the best way to pick up an Alfsair Greatspear.  Otherwise you have no use for this feat, making it red.

ELF:
Wild Elf Luck (FRPG):  See Elven Precision.  There's a 25% chance this will be worse on any given roll, 25% chance it'll be the same, and 50% chance that it will be better than Elven Precision.  Those are good odds.

Elven Precision (PHB):  If you're re-rolling an attack, it's probably an attack that you would like to see hit. 

HALF-ORC:
Thirst For Battle (PHB2):  You're a controller, so you like having a high initiative.  You also favor the Predator build, which can definitely use the extra healing surge.

Primal Resilience (PrP):  Improve your Half-Orc Resilience, but this is based on Con (whereas Half-Orcs synergize best with Predators).

Savage Assault (PHB2):  As a controller, de-buffing is part of your job.  A free de-buff with your racial power is, therefore, a decent investment.

GOLIATH:
Markings of the Victor (PHB2):  You get to reroll your first attack roll every encounter.  Controllers typically want to make a big impact in the first round, to disable the enemy before they can get an advantage (another way of looking at it is giving your party an advantage right away).

HALFLING:
Halfling Agility (PHB):  Solid attack de-buff when you use your racial power.

Lost in the Crowd (PHB):  If you spend a lot of time in beast form, this is a good way to boost your survivability.


HUMAN:
Action Surge (PHB): 
More accurate attacks when you use an Action Point is good for any class.  After all, if you're using an AP you probably want to make a big impact on the battle.

Human Perseverence (PHB):  Who doesn't like saving throw bonuses?  Shrug off effects so you can deal more!

SHIFTER (GENERAL):
Wild Senses (PHB2):  It's a slightly less potent version of Improved Initiative, which might be worth it if you want to be a good tracker.

SHIFTER, RAZORCLAW:
Razorclaw Spirit Shifter (PrP):  Free shifts when you're damaged and using your shifting power.

Blurring Claws (PHB):  Thanks to Claw Gloves, you'll probably try to get CA a lot anyways.
.

SHIFTER, LONGTOOTH:
Longtooth Spirit Shifter (PrP):  Your regeneration while using your shifting power is better.  Great for Swarm Druid off-tanks.

Gorebrute Charge (PHB2):  Pile on that extra damage on a charge!


Paragon Tier



General Feats

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Armor Specialization (Hide) (PHB):  Bump up your AC, and get rid of your armor check penalty while doing it.  Most Predators won't qualify for this, but every Guardian or Swarm Druid should pick this up eventually.

Lasting Frost (PHB):  A Frost Quarterstaff is your best friend if you plan on exploiting the infamous Frostcheese combo.

Repel Charge (PHB3):  Defender can't punish shift + charge?  No worries, you've got that covered yourself!  OAs interrupt, so by sliding your attacker away with Savage Rend you'll negate the attack.  This also covers the biggest weakness of both Daze and Prone - the fact that melee enemies can still use their action to charge you.  Well, now even if that happens you'll still be rocking the action denial!  Remind your DM not to metagame (the monsters won't know you can repel their charges until they've seen it in action).  This feat is practically mandatory for Polearm builds.

Blood Thirst (PHB):  If you're focusing on dealing damage, consider picking this up.  Combine with Primal Fury if you're a Predator, and with focus-firing tactics your party should be able to provide you with a bloodied target >50% of the time.  Remember that while Primal Fury provides a bonus to all of your attacks, this only provides damage to melee attacks.

Danger Sense (PHB):  Controllers like to go first.  Improved Initiative will give you a higher maximum initiative check, but Danger Sense will get you consistently higher results.  If you have room for them, you can take both.

Defensive Advantage (PHB):  Only Predators need apply (Dex pre-req of 17).  Still, between the status effects that you throw around and your superior mobility (allowing you to easily choose flanking positions), you'll get CA a lot.  You probably already seek it out since you should have Claw Gloves by level 4.  This could mean that you get +2 AC most of the time.

Great Fortitude (PHB):  If you don't take Paragon Defenses, you'll probably end up taking Iron Will and either this or Lightning Reflexes.  My preference is to keep up with 2 NADs (haha) and consider the third as a lost cause, in which case Predators won't bother with this.  Other people prefer more balanced NADs.  It's really a matter of personal preference, and how often a given NAD is targeted in your campaign.

Iron Will (PHB):   Most Druids will end up taking this if they don't take Paragon Defenses. 

Lightning Reflexes (PHB): 
See Great Fortitude, and note that if you don't take Paragon Defenses you'll take this if you want a decent Reflex defense.

Opportunistic Withdrawal (PHB3): 
As if Druids needed any more mobility?  Seriously though, with feats like Deadly Draw and Vicious Advantage you'll have CA most of the time.  Even without those feats, you'll still probably be flanking a lot so you can get the bonus damage from Claw Gloves.  This feat will see a lot of use.

Paragon Defenses (PHB2): 
A nice little NAD bump.  That sounded wrong...

Reserve Maneuver (PHB2):  Don't like your Paragon Path's encounter power?  Switch it out for something better!

Agile Opportunist (PHB2):  You have some excellent MBA's, so if forced movement is annoying you this would be a good feat to pick up.

Back to the Wall (PHB):  This feat never really appealed to me, but some people like it.  If you like to focus on ranged attacks this might be a good pick; your AC will get a boost, and if an enemy tries to attack you, just Wild Shape and reap this feat's benefits as you tear them to pieces.   You'll appear to be a "squishy caster" in a disadvantageous position (ranged combatants are easily locked down when against a wall).  If your DM isn't metagaming, tactically minded monsters should take the bait.

Combat Anticipation (PHB):  Druids with a tendency to fight at range more often than not might find this useful.

Expansive Burst (PHB3):  Close and area bursts ignore cover.  Not bad, especially for Guardian builds (because let's face it, they have fewer attractive feats).

Eyes in the Back of Your Head (PHB3):  Situational, because most Druids will have enough mobility to avoid getting flanked in the first place.  Guardians and Swarms may still benefit from this, though.

Fleet Footed (PHB):  Some Predators like to max out their speed, and this is a necessary step in that direction.  Still, most Predators won't need that much speed.  Con Druids (especially Dwarves) would benefit from an extra square of movement.

Improved Second Wind (PHB):  Dwarves looking to fill a feat slot will get some mileage out of this (pick up Vital Form first), but Druids have access to some nice feats that improve your second wind, and they're better than this.  Most races won't get much use out of this until Epic (when they take Wild Surge). 


Psychic Lock (PHB):  Druids don't have a ton of powers that deal psychic damage.  Definitely grab it if you have Call of the Beast though; the attack debuff makes the power much more attractive.

Quick Recovery (PHB2):  Allows your healing surges to take you farther.  Bonus healing is always nice, provided that you can fit this into your build.

Spear Push (PHB):  Polearm builds will probably want to pick this up in Epic.  Before then, the 15 Str requirement is too steep.

Uncanny Dodge (PHB):  If you wind up flanked a lot this feat is worth considering.  This will mostly apply to off-tank Swarm Druids.

Vexing Flanker (PHB2):  If you have a lot of ranged allies this might be worthwhile.  Rogues will also love you for it, since they can chuck daggers instead of doing the flanking themselves.  Especially valuable for Swarm Druids that can not only off-tank, but can hold an enemy in one spot (Ruthless Killer + Grasping Claws).  Predators might use hit and run tactics a little too much for this to be useful.

Agile Athlete (PHB):  You know the drill.  If you want to turn into a cat that can climb, take stuff like this.  Everyone else will pass.

Polearm Gamble (PHB):  If you have an Alfsair Spear, this only works if you have the Ape's Reach feat (and that feat only works when you're bloodied).  A bit too situational for my tastes.  Besides, 15 Str is a steep price to pay for a Druid in Paragon, though by Epic a starting 13 will turn into a 15.


Two Handed Grasp (PrP):  Even if you wield an Alfsair Spear, High Crit is a weapon property, and thus it won't apply to your implement powers.



Class Feats

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Quick Wild Shape (PHB2):  You get Wild Shape, and all the benefits that come with it (like shifting), as a free action (though still useable only once per turn).  Shifting as a free action is incredibly useful, as I found out one day when my Druid was dazed.  Also frees up your minor action for things like sustaining powers.

Bolstered Swarm (PrP):  As if Swarm Druids weren't tough enough already?  Using Wild Shape to enter beast form will net you 5 + Con mod THP (increases to 10 + Con mod at Epic).  One of the first Paragon feats that a Swarm Druid should take.

Pouncing Form (PrP):  One of the best feats a Predator Druid can take.  When you Wild Shape from humanoid to beast form, you shift your Dex mod.  As a minor (or, more likely by now, free) action.  This is just made of the best kind of win.  You can punch through pretty much any front line, and can likely reach any target on the map, with this gem.  Never leave home without it.

Hunting Wolf Form (PHB2):  Mobility is good (Elven Predators will have speed 9 in beast form), and everyone loves to pump up their Perception.  Since perception isn't just visual and auditory, you can make the argument that this feat boosts your sense of smell in beast form.

Fierce Thrasher Form (D382):  Increase beast form push, pull, or slide powers by 1 square.  Since one of the best Druid at-wills, Savage Rend, has a slide effect, you'll get a lot of use from this.  Combine this with Rushing Cleats to turn Savage Rend into a slide 3, and/or allows you to use Alfsair Spear + Polearm Momentum shenanigans without being locked into Rushing Cleats.

Stalking Panther Form (PHB2): 
If you're willing to walk around in beast form whenever you suspect a combat might spring up, this is just as good as Improved Initiative and Still Training: Stealth combined.  Actually, it's better than Skill Training:  Stealth if you're already trained in Stealth, because it stacks.


Vital Form (PrP):  You can use your second wind twice?  Good deal!  Off tanks will want this at some point, and it's Sky Blue for Dwarves (in fact, it'll probably be their first choice of Paragon tier feats).  Anyone else that can use their second wind as a minor action (I vaguely recall some items, and at least one Shaman power, that allow you to) will also want to pick this up earlier rather than later.  Synergizes extremely well with the Epic level feat, Wild Surge.

Warning Guardian (PrP):  Finally, a Guardian Druid feat that doesn't suck!  It's basically Call of the Beast light, but doesn't require an action (just that you're adjacent to a flanked ally).  Your defender will love you for taking this feat, and repay the favor by (most likely) punishing any marked enemies that attack you.  Great against skirmishers that get damage bonuses when they have combat advantage.


Brutal Grappler (D382):  Anyone that you're grabbing grants CA to you.  It's a niche build, but grapplers will benefit from it.  Druids can focus on grappling mostly by taking Latch On (as a Predator) and taking the Coiled Serpent PP.  A few other misc. powers grant grabs as well (including Summon Crocodile).  Non-grapplers have no use for this.

Commanding Form (PrP):  The thing is, if you command your summon in general it won't be able to use its instinctive action.  This is useful for those times when the summon couldn't have used an instinctive anyways (or, more importantly, when it would have used an instinctive action against an ally or yourself), but at this point your Wild Shape is likely a free action so unless you're sustaining a power, the minor action isn't too critical.

Scattering Swarm (PrP):  As a Swarm Druid, you're not a fan of enemy area attacks.  While they're not quite the Achilles Heel that they are for real swarms (you're not vulnerable to them), you still don't get your class feature's DR against them.  With this feat, at least you can get some mobility out of being hit by them.  It could help you spread out so that fewer party members get hit by the next monster's area attack.  It's probably not the highest priority in early Paragon (there are a lot of juicy feats in this tier), but you'll want to pick it up eventually.

Bolstering Guardian (PrP):  It's nice that they tried to give the Guardian Druid some feats that boost their secondary role as leader, but come on.  The ally has to be adjacent to you when you kill something (which is a big enough restriction to begin with), but to top it off the amount of THP is only equal to your Con mod.  Good in a fight against minions, but pretty sad when compared with Bolstered Swarm.

Scuttling Crawler Form (D382):  Pick this up if you REALLY want to make sure that your cat/monkey/giant squirrel form can climb trees.  It's a low priority for most Druids.

Venomous Fang Form (D382):  You don't have that many powers with the poison keyword to begin with.  If you really want to focus on poison attacks, just multiclass Assassin and pick up Venom Hand Master (which lets you ignore poison resistance and immunity).  Much better than ignoring just the first 5 points of poison resistance. 


Racial Feats

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DEVA:
Ascendant Lineage (PHB2):  Never waste your racial power again, so you're likely to turn 1 miss into a hit every encounter.

DWARF:
Dwarven Durability (PHB):  It's Durable but better, because you get to add your Con mod to your healing surge value.  Sky blue for Swarm Druids that stray heavily into off-tank territory.

HALF-ELF:
Versatile Master (PHB2):  Regardless of your class, this feat is good stuff.

HALFLING:
Underfoot (PHB):  Sweet, sweet mobility.  The only reason it's not sky blue is because it won't work on medium creatures and requires training in Acrobatics (pick it up as a class skill with your background).

HUMAN:
Action Recovery (PHB):  Situational because it assumes that you're stacked with conditions when you want to use an AP.  Then again, tough fights are usually when you want to blow an AP, and if you're stacked with conditions the fight is probably pretty tough...

SHIFTER (GENERAL):
Beasthide Shifting (PHB2):  You gain Resist 2 All while under the effect of your shifting racial power.  Umm, yes please!  Especially for Swarm Druid off tanks!



Epic Tier



General Feats

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Long Step (PHB3):  Add 1 square to any shift you make.  You can probably shift as a free action by now (minor if you don't have Quick Wild Shape), so this is well worth picking up.

Primal Resurgence (PHB2):  Regain an expended Daily power 1/day when you become bloodied as a free action.  You should take this excellent feat as early as possible.

Robust Defenses (PHB2):  If you have Iron Will, Great Fortitude, or Lighting Reflexes re-train them all as soon as you get this, because it's all three feats in one!  Stacks with Epic Fortitude, Reflexes, and Will (which provide untyped bonuses).

Second Skin (PrP):  Unfortunately, Predators won't be able to afford a 17 Con pre-req, but all Con Druids should retrain Hide Specialization into this.  It grants a +2 feat bonus to AC (the net gain is 1 AC if you replace Hide Spec.), and a +1 to attack rolls using Primal Fear powers. 

Epic Fortitude (PHB2):  An upgrade to Great Fortitude.  Stacks with Robust Defenses or the Paragon NAD boosting feats.

Epic Reflexes (PHB2): 
An upgrade to Lightning Reflexes.  Stacks with Robust Defenses or the Paragon NAD boosting feats.

Epic Will (PHB2): 
An upgrade to Iron Will.  Stacks with Robust Defenses or the Paragon NAD boosting feats.

Rapid Regeneration (PHB3):  If you're a Con Druid, you'll definitely want to pick this up, as well as Primal Aspect Form.

Superior Initiative (PHB3):  Pretty soon the DM will just assume that you go first automatically...

Unfettered Stride (PHB):  You can ignore difficult terrain!  You'll need training in Acrobatics, though.

Blind Fight (PHB):  Invisible or concealed creatures have absolutely no advantage over you.  Situational, but that's a pretty good benefit!

Epic Resurgance (PHB):  Regaining an encounter power is great, but it's dependent on a random event (critical hit). 

Flanking Maneuver (PHB):  You'll have to pick up Acrobatics training at some point, but being able to move through opponents' spaces is nice, especially for Predators (since they can shift like crazy, and therefore avoid OA's for doing so).

Indomitable Will (PHB2):  Stacks with Epic Will, but not Robust Defenses.  The bonus also applies to saving throws against dazed, dominated, or stunned, which is where the real allure of this feat lies.

Triumphant Attack (PHB):  You inflict a nice debuff when you score a critical hit, and it's save ends.

Opportune Reflexes (PHB2):  Stacks with Epic Reflexes, but not Robust Defenses.  The bonus also applies to saves against ongoing damage, which is a nice perk.

Unyielding Fortitude (PHB2):  Doesn't stack with Robust Defenses.  You do get to apply the bonus to death saving throws, however, meaning that it has its place in feat-light builds.




Class Feats

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Primal Summoning Expertise (PrP):  Lets you use your summons' standard action attacks as a minor action.  It doesn't specify a limit per turn, so get a lot of summons onto the battlefield and enjoy the fine control that you'll have over them.  Powerful summons with dangerous instinctive actions (the Tiger or Lightning Drake, for example) are also a lot more viable with this feat. 

Wild Surge (PrP):  Second Wind as a free action when you use Wild Shape?  Don't mind if I do!  If you haven't picked up Vital Form yet, now's a good time to do so.  Way to take some pressure off the leader.

Primal Aspect Form (PHB2):  Can't complain about regeneration 2 while bloodied in beast form!  It shouldn't come as a surprise that Swarm Druid off tanks will get a lot of mileage out of this.

Swift Predator (PrP):  The +1 bonus to speed in beast form is ok, but the best part of this feat is that when in beast form, you can add a square to the distance of any shift.  A good choice for most Predators.

Guardian Resurgence (PrP):  It's possible that I'm being too hard on these Guardian feats, but come on!  Bonus HP equal to your Con mod when an ally uses their second wind is nice and all, but is a Guardian Druid necessarily going to be adjacent to allies all that often? 


Racial Feats

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DEVA:
Transcendant Lineage (PHB2):  Your racial power is more likely to make a difference.  Still, this is Epic tier we're talking about, and I'm not sure if this packs that big a punch.

GOLIATH:
Ancient Stone (PHB2):  More durability is always a good thing, especially for off-tanks.

SHIFTER (GENERAL):
Burst of Savagery (PHB2):  Time this right.  In the middle of a fight, it's not worth the loss of your shifting benefits.  During the last round of a fight, the THP will go to waste.  Try to use it toward the end, and then once your THP is lost switch over to ranged mode.


At-Will Powers
Choosing At-Wills

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A major strength of controllers is versatility, and Druids are particularly versatile.  Your at-wills should reflect that.  The three main things that you need to consider are 1) single target vs. AoE, 2) defenses targeted, and 3) functionality, particularly avoiding redundancy.  Finally, if you want your beast form to be as effective as possible (even if you plan on staying in humanoid form most of the time), choose a beast form attack that counts as a melee basic attack (MBA).  This means that all Druids should have either Savage Rend or Grasping Claws (both are excellent powers).

  1. One of the main functions of a controller is the ability to target multiple foes at once.  Thus, all controllers have AoE choices in their at-will power lists.  These do less damage per target than single target attacks, but spread over mulitple enemies the total damage dealt becomes very impressive.  Most importantly, AoE's discourage enemy clumping (spread out enemies are less able to focus fire on a given ally), and can take out multiple minions in one round.  You should choose at least one power that is an AoE, or alternatively you can pick up Flame Seed, which replicates AoE functionality (though it's not as effective).  Most AoE's are "caster" type power, though Druids focusing primarily on beast form can pick up Swarming Locusts.

  2. Different monster types (soldiers, skirmishers, artillery, etc.) tend to have different strong and weak defenses (and these are usually consistent among individuals of a given role).  For example, Skirmishers have high Reflex but low Fortitude and/or Will, whereas Brutes and Soldiers have very high Fortitude, but low Reflex and/or Will.  Will is most often the lowest defense across all monsters, but spellcaster types (and other misc. monsters) do have it as their highest defense.  Point being, if you want to be able to accurately target monsters of various roles, you need attacks that target different defenses.  In combat it's perfectly reasonable to ask the DM for clues, i.e. does he look muscular and steadfast but fairly slow and/or dim-witted; was that movement a shift, and does this guy look fairly nimble (but frail); what kind of armor is this monster wearing, etc.  Details like this allow you to infer what a monster's strong and weak defenses are, and once you know that you can target their weak defenses.  Since Druids get 3 at-wills through their Balance of Nature class feature, they're the only class that can have an at-will that targets each of the three Non-AC Defenses (NADs).  I would recommend that most Druids target at least Reflex and Fortitude, since they only have 1 at-will that targets Will and it does no damage.  Note that all of the beast form at-wills target Reflex.

  3. While all of the powers are different, many of them function in similar ways.  For example, Flame Seed, Fire Hawk, Grasping Tide, and Call of the Beast all encourage enemies to stay put (usually through a threat of more damage, though Grasping Tide notably uses a status effect which results in action denial).  Storm Spike and Swarming Locusts encourage enemies to move (to avoid damage and CA, respectively).  Savage Rend, Thorn Whip, and Chill Wind all have a forced movement effect.  Pounce and Swarming Locusts both provide CA.  Fire Hawk and Storm Spike are both single target, high damage ranged attacks.  Grasping Claws and Savage Rend are both Melee Basic Attacks (and thus useable with opportunity attacks (OAs) and on a charge).  If all of your powers belong to the same "functional group," then they're redundant and you are less able to respond to a variety of different situations.  In the end, you'll realize which power is "best" for a given situation (i.e. pick up Rushing Cleats and Savage Rend is better at sliding than Chill Wind) and you'll ignore the others.  Better to be able to perform a wide variety of functions.



At-will Powers

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Fire Hawk (PrP):  I'll put it out there right from the start: there is controversy over how this power actually works.  Because I seem to have hit the character limit on this post, I won't discuss it here.  In terms of usage, Fire Hawk is a good example of soft control in that the target can neither use a ranged attack nor move without shifting safely.  Doing so will allow you to roll the secondary attack, which would essentially double your damage output for the round.  Devastating against artillery, and useful against enemies that want to move.

Grasping Claws (PHB2):  This power can be used as a Melee Basic Attack, so have fun slowing on a charge or an OA!  Predators will find this very situationally useful (at least straight out of the box), since a slowed enemy right next to them has an easy time choosing a target:  you!  Nice if you're off-tanking though, and if you're already adjacent to a target, this can be used to slow them, then you shift away by using Wild Shape and run out of range.  Nice action denial on paper, but hard to coordinate in actual gameplay.  This power also has a ton of potential support, which is detailed in the "combos" section of this guide.

Grasping Tide (PHH):  Arguably the Druid's most powerful at-will.  An area burst 1 that deals decent damage and targets Fort, but if the targets try to move out of the area you get to make a vs Reflex OA that knocks them prone if they hit.  Sure, it requires two attack rolls against two different defenses, but what an amazing effect!  Note that getting knocked prone interrupts the target's move action (i.e. it's wasted), and standing up costs another move action.  Set this up so that the targets are essentially forced to move.  Against melee enemies make sure no one is adjacent to them, and if you cast it on a group of ranged enemies and then park yourself adjacent to them (preferably in the origin square, so that they have to shift out of the area to avoid your OA) they can either eat an OA from attacking, or shift away and risk getting knocked prone next to you (having expended their move action).  Most Druids will probably choose this power.

Savage Rend (PHB2):  This is the beast form at-will of choice for any Druid that doesn't plan on off-tanking and abusing Grasping Claws.  Even then, you might consider taking both.  The slide 1 is nice, but it becomes really amazing when paired with Rushing Cleats and/or Fierce Thrasher Form to make it a slide 2 or 3.  Excellent chessmaster power.  Furthermore, use it for an at-will prone if you go with a Polearm (Alfsair Spear) build.  Slide melee enemies such that they fall prone one square away from you or an ally, with you or said ally blocking a straight path to everyone else (alternatively, just knock them down next to a sticky defender).  Impressive action denial.  You can also screw artillery over by knocking them prone next to yourself.  Similar synergy can be achieved using the level 9 Daily Primal Wolf if you don't want to M/C Fighter and/or don't want to limit yourself to an Alfsair Spear.  Finally, Savage Rend also synergizes with Battle Awareness (Fighter M/C feat) and Claws of Retribution (level 13 encounter power): if you hit you interrupt the provoking attack, and sliding the enemy out of range to make the provoking attack causes it to be wasted.

Swarming Locusts (PrP):  Whoa, an at-will AoE that deals 1D8 + Wis mod damage!  Sure, it's a close blast so you put yourself at risk, but as a Druid you tend to do that anyways whenever you shift into beast form.  But wait, there's more: it creates a zone that causes any enemies in it to grant CA!  If the enemies don't want to or can't move, you get multi-target combat advantage.  If you want the targets to move, this might be enough of an incentive to force them to comply (in this way it's similar to the single-target Storm Spike).  Don't let the flavor deter you from choosing this as a non-swarm Druid, for flavor is mutable.  My Predator turns into a spitting cobra when she uses it, which is a perfect fit given that she has the Coiled Serpent PP. 

Call of the Beast (PHB2):  Solid power; it's an AoE and the only at-will you have that targets Will.  Since the November 2009 Errata, the power officially targets enemies only.  The effect is nice, and has many tactical uses: targets can't gain CA and are punished if they attack anyone but your nearest ally.  Note that you don't count as your nearest ally.  Unfortunately, it doesn't do any damage up front, and the punishment damage doesn't scale well (it's not a damage roll, but a flat 5 + your Wis modifier).  Fortunately, it has the Psychic keyword which means if you take Psychic Lock at Paragon, you can throw around -2 attack debuffs with this.

Chill Wind (PHB2):  Chill Wind's effect is very nice (slide 1), and since it does cold damage it qualifies for the Lasting Frost/Wintertouched combo, but it also targets Fortitude.  I'm not one to claim that Fortitude=bad like many on these forums; in fact, I advocate that Druids should pick at least one at-will that targets Fortitude to use against high Reflex enemies.  However, the usefulness of Chill Wind is most apparant against front line enemies (soldiers and brutes), which happen to have high Fortitude.  This makes is slightly less accurate than preferred.  Overall a solid power, but there are better choices for an at-will AoE.  Check out the "combos" section for how to take advantage of this power from Paragon onwoards (at which point it becomes blue).

Flame Seed (PHB2):  Can be used as a pseudo AoE, but I wouldn't recommend relying on it as your only option.  It's placement is limited in comparison to other area burst 1's in that it occurs around a central target, so any enemy caught in the zone must be adjacent.  Compare this to Chill Wind, which can catch 2 or more non-adjacent enemies in its area.  Also, since everything hinges on one attack roll against the target, it's an all or nothing power.  The upside is that it creates a zone that enemies can be forcibly moved into if it does hit, and the zone deals auto damage.  As a Druid, you have many powers that grant forced movement.

Spirit Briar (D386):  This power functions nearly the same as Storm Spike, though it's more pre-emptive as you designate a party member to protect instead of simply saying "move or suffer."  This makes it slightly more versatile.  Like most soft control powers (particularly at-wills), the punishment probably isn't enough to discourage an enemy from attacking you or your ally, in which case it basically turns into a single target damage power.  As such, it can't compete with Fire Hawk.  Furthermore, its punishment is based on a secondary stat, making it terrible for Con based Druids.  It does target Will, though, which is a nice change of pace for Druid at-wills.

Storm Spike (PHB2):  Deals respectable single target damage, though its potential isn't as high as Fire Hawk.  The soft control effect encourages enemies to move away, however, whereas Flame Seed, Grasping Tide and Fire Hawk encourage enemies to stay put.   Thus, it occupies a unique niche in the Druid's repertoire of at-will powers (note: its niche is now shared with Spirit Briar, which is a slightly inferior power).  Combine with a sticky defender to really bring on the hurt.

Pounce (PHB2):  A beast form power that's useable on a charge and grants CA to the next attack made against the target.  The fact that it's not a MBA really hurts this power, making Grasping Claws or Savage Rend an obvious first choice.  Additionally, Swarming Locusts provides a means to throw out CA at-will, but as an AoE (though the CA only applies if the enemy remains within the zone).  Druids that spend most of their time in beast form and don't like Swarming Locusts for thematic reasons might want to consider this, but only if they have a Rogue in the party. 

Thorn Whip (PHB2):  A single target pull 2 is largely unremarkable (especially once you boost your Savage Rend to a slide 2 or 3).  Two things save this power from being red: 1) it's a single target vs Fort power and it's the only one you get at-will.  Decent choice against skirmishers, especially if you can actually pull them next to a defender. 2) it's useful for when you need to move an enemy but you can't actually get to them (if they're on a ledge, beyond a chasm, etc.).  If that's the case, then you can probably even hurt them more (falling damage, dangerous terrain, etc.).  Situational, though.  As of the May 2010 errata forced movement can now occur in any direction, so Thorn Whip can officially pull flying enemies toward the ground.  





Heroic Tier Powers

STATUS:  Complete.

Level 1 Encounter

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Thorn Spray (PrP):  Sky blue assumes that you're a Predator, for everyone else it's blue.  A close blast 5 is the biggest AoE you can hope to get at this level, and the debuff for Predators (1+Dex mod penalty to all defenses) is huge.  Great nova set up, and if you have allies with AoEs they can start carpet bombing your debilitated foes (great power to use right before an AP).  

Call Forth the Spirit Pack (PrP):  If you can't decide what to take at level 1, default to this.  It's easy to use and doesn't even require the enemies to be clumped (target 1 or 2 creatures in a close burst 5).  It does extra damage against marked targets, and it comes with a prone effect.  If everyone stays either 1 square away from the targets or out of their charging range, it's double action denial.  As is standard for prone attacks, it's useful against artillery (park yourself or an ally next to them) and anyone that the defender is trying to lock down.

Scattered Form (PrP):  This is solid damage for a close burst 1, and Swarm Druids won't be afraid to get deep enough into a clump of enemies to catch a lot in the burst.  You also take half damage from all melee and range attacks if you're a Swarm Druid, and that's on top of your class features damage reduction.  Get in there, set off the bomb that is yourself, and then weather the ineffectual hits. 

Cull the Herd (PHB2):  This power is a rarity: a ranged beast form power that targets Will.  The single-target damage is respectable, but the effect (a pull 3) isn't terribly exciting.  Redundant with Thorn Whip, so don't take both.

Frost Flash (PHB2):  The damage is pretty pathetic unless you're a Guardian, but the immobilize effect is nice to have at level 1.  It's good action denial for those starting out with the class; cast it on a melee enemy and tell everyone to stay away.  Simple as that.  Still, you can get more impressive action denial out of Grasping Tide.

Stinging Cloud (PrP):  Short range, but decent damage for an AoE.  Encourages enemies to leave, as it does a decent amount of damage if they stay (though it doesn't scale well).  Combine with prones, immobilizes, daze, etc. to make their situation worse, but most of the time melee enemies will just charge you.  A dazed or prone ranged attacker, however, will have a meaningful choice to make.

Darting Bite (PHB2):  No control, and while it can target 2 creatures they both need to be within melee range of you.  It's tempting for a striker-minded Predator to consider this power, especially if they see the shift and want to start playing skirmisher, but hitting and running can be done just as easily with Savage Rend (albeit only against 1 target).

Twisting Vines (PHB2):  Ok, so the concept is neat and all but it just sort of falls apart mechanically.  In theory it's a good way to keep multiple targets fixed in one place, but only if they're adjacent to someone on your team (since the monsters can't shift through difficult terrain unless they're elves).  The difficult terrain usually ends up screwing your allies up just as much as the enemies, or if nobody really needs to move it's just a damaging AoE (which you can do just fine with an at-will). 

Close to the Kill (PrP):  What?  Why would anybody take this power?  Assuming that you can easily predict when your attack will either bloody or kill an enemy the THP are nice, but otherwise this is just a damage power.  But as you start accumulating damage bonuses for charging, Savage Rend will outperform this power (even Enraged Boar Form brings Savage Rend even with this in terms of average damage on a hit, but the DPR of Savage Rend will be higher because of the +2 bonus to attack).  Encounter powers that underperform at-wills are no good. 




Level 1 Daily

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Lightning Arc (PrP):  This power targets 1 or 2 creatures (so it's party friendly) and dazes on a hit (half damage on a miss).  The Effect allows you to make a secondary attack, which is an area burst 1 around each primary target.  On a hit a secondary target is knocked prone.  Just delay your turn so that you go right before a melee ally (2 melee allies following your turn, each fighting a separate cluster of enemies, is ideal).  Fire your lightning bolts into the fray, and depending on how many/which enemies are dazed or prone when you're done your melee allies can attack (with CA) as they see fit, and then shift so that they're 1 square away from as many dazed/prone targets as possible.  With minimal coordination you can get some serious (party friendly!) action denial.

Summon Giant Toad (PrP):  I would argue that the toad is the perfect summon.  It instinctively attacks the same creature that it attacked last turn, and with a melee reach of 3 enemies won't be able to shift a square to avoid it.  If it can't attack its original target, it will attack the nearest enemy within 3 squares.  That's a pretty big area on a battle grid, so unless you summoned it on the outskirts of the battle it should have plenty of targets to choose from.  Talk about low maintenance!  It would also never think of harming your or your friends.  Truthfully, I'd pick this over many of the higher level summons.  It helps that summons scale extremely well:  they'll always use your stats and your bloodied value as HP.  A level 1 summon will never be too weak to be useful in high level combat (though its damage dice will be lower).  Furthermore, by showing a preference for low level summons over high level summons, you sacrifice a low level non-summon Daily (which do tend to become outstripped by higher level Dailies; just look at Earth Roots vs. Entangle vs. Entangling Thorns.

Savage Frenzy (PHB2):  This is a great choice for a Swarm Druid with notions of off-tanking.  Dazed and Slowed (save ends) is a nasty combination.  Most Druids will want to combo this with the feat Staggering Smash; all of those adjacent enemies will conveniently be pushed to 1 square away from you (so don't worry about getting charged).  Furthermore, it's pretty easy for allies to stay out of charging range of enemies that are both dazed and slowed. 

Summon Pack Wolf (PrP):  Good enough to pick this over the Toad if you're going for a wolf theme (which seems to be popular for Predator Druids).  If the wolf has CA, it will knock the target prone on a hit.  Allies 1 square away will be safe from a charge, and prone enemies also grant CA.  In this way the wolf can be used to limit the enemy's choice of targets.  If the wolf is the only adjacent opponent and none of your other allies are within charging range, it funnels damage onto the wolf.  Since summons are a good way to mitigate damage (their HP is your bloodied value, but you only lose 1 surge, or half of that, if they die) it may be in your party's best interests for the wolf to be attacked.  Don't forget that when your summons get really low on HP you can dismiss them as a minor action to prevent yourself from losing a healing surge (the result is that all damage that the enemies piled onto the summon is wasted damage, which is almost as good as action denial).   The only thing keeping the wolf from being sky blue is that its first instinct is to attack an adjacent prone creature, which may include you or your allies.  So if you're fighting enemies with prone effects, make sure that none of your allies crowds the wolf.

Earth Roots (PrP):  AoE with ok damage, and a zone that slows any enemy that starts its turn there.  The sustain effect is nice, since you can slide one enemy within 2 squares of the zone into it (so they'll be slowed for their next turn).  You'll be able to consistently keep enemies slowed in a cramped space, especially if you or the party has other forms of forced movement that can knock them into the zone.  Still, slow isn't one of the more useful status effects and if you're spending a minor action each turn to sustain this then Wild Shape faces some steep competition for your minor action.

Faerie Fire (PHB2):  This power looks better on paper than it works in practice, but it's still not useless.  It packs a decent punch, but since the damage is dealt as an aftereffect the enemy is sometimes killed before it goes off.  The slow effect means that it's most useful in the first round of battle, so hopefully your Initiative is high.  Oftentimes the CA is the most useful result of this power's use.  I expect much more from a Daily.  Still, the fact that it targets Will is nice.

Fires of Life (PHB2):  Enemies only AoE that does somewhat paltry damage initially, but deals ongoing damage as well.  When a target saves against the ongoing damage, one of your friends heals some HP.  If a target dies before they save, a friend can heal even more HP. 

Fog of Insects (PrP):  Be VERY cautious about throwing this power around, because it's a close burst 3 that does good damage to each creature in burst.  So tell your allies to back up, or try to break through the enemy front line before using this.  If you happen to have high initiative, wading into the ally-free cluster of enemies to set this thing off would be a superb first action for round 1.  Plus it does half damage on a miss, and has an effect that boosts your defenses by 2 for the rest of the encounter.  If it weren't so dangerous for your allies (and therefore situational) it would be a solid blue power.  If you can figure out how to use it effectively and coordinate well with your party, it's definitely a worthwhile pick.

Form of the Primeval Boar (D383):  This is the only decent level 1 Daily from D383.  Temporary HP equal to your healing surge value as an effect is nice; should absorb a few good hits.  The +2 bonus to damage with charge attacks would be nice if it didn't end the next time you use Wild Shape.  Hopefully you don't mind sticking with your beast form for a while.  The single target attack is essentially a higher damage Savage Rend that marks.  Not particularly exciting unless you're a Swarm Druid off-tank.  The combination of little things you get with this power add up to a viable, if somewhat mediocre power.

Wind Prison (PHB2):  This power is situational at best.  The single target damage is decent, but the lose-lose situation that it gives to the target is mediocre.  I think the idea is that with some coordination from the party, you can set it up so that the target essentially has to decide on losing actions itself (by staying put with nobody in reach), or causing its friends to lose actions (by proning them all).  Sounds nice in theory, but the target has all of the control in terms of when this goes off.  If the space isn't too cramped, everyone else could move beyond 5 squares.  It also takes a massive amount of cooperation from the party to make the prones effective.

Form of the Primeval Ape (D383):  The bonus to Athletics only applies while you're bloodied, and you lose it when you use Wild Shape.  Might as well not even exist.  There's also a single target attack which, if it hits, causes a push 3 and you knock the target prone.  Nothing happens on a miss.  Yeah, this power is terrible.

Form of the Primeval Bear (D383):  A +1 bonus to damage in beast form isn't even that great, so why would they make it end next time you use Wild Shape (as opposed to a bonus to attacks in beast form for the rest of the encounter)?  This effect is crap.  The attack is a single target grab, but there's no de-buff to escapes so the grab probably won't last too long.  Very, very sad for a Daily.


Summon Fierce Boar (PrP):  First level is no time to be messing around with potentially dangerous Instinctive Actions.  Since the boar can either charge or attack an adjacent enemy instinctively, it's likely to get in an attack every single turn.  The downside is that it charges the nearest bloodied creature, meaning that your and your friends piss this guy off just as much as your enemies.  Besides that, its default instinctive action is the charge the nearest bloodied enemy, and only if it can't do that will it attack an adjacent enemy.  This means that the boar is going to be taking a LOT of OAs and will probably go down fast (good riddance, since the creature can turn on you).  The only upside is that when reduced to 0 HP, it uses its standard action attack as an interrupt.  It's attack pushes the target, which means that the enemy attack that originally "killed" the boar is lost unless the enemy has reach.  So until the boar misses with its attack, it can essentially cheat death.  Even this might be problematic, however, as you'll never know when it's best to dismiss the boar to prevent yourself from losing a healing surge, as it's likely to wreak the most havoc when it's on its last leg. 



Level 2 Utilities

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Verdant Bounty (PrP):  An improved Obscuring Mist.  It's an encounter power, so the tradeoff is that it only lasts one turn and can't be sustained.  However, it only costs a minor action to cast and the zone is heavily obscured (-5 penalty to attacks against non-adjacent creatures within it, so it REALLY screws over ranged enemies) instead of lightly obscured.  Note that with heavily obscured squares, even if an enemy engages you in melee they still take a -2 penalty to their attack.  Have everyone stay at the edge of the zone so that the enemy doesn't gain the same benefit. 

Barkskin (PHB2):  A big AC buff for 1 turn for Con Druids, and it can be used on allies as well.  This power is guaranteed to come in handy in every combat encounter, unless you forget you have it.

Sudden Bite (PrP):  Sometimes, for whatever reason (shift or to use a ranged evocation), it's in your best interest to use Wild Shape while in the fray.  This power lets you not have to worry about your crappy humanoid OA.

Warding Wind (PrP):  The fact that it's an interrupt means that as soon as the DM asks "does an X hit your AC (where X=your AC or your AC + 1)?" you can negate the attack.  Similar to the Wizard's shield, but with a smaller bonus (but one that applies to all defenses instead of just Reflex and AC) and a slide effect if the attack misses (which it will unless your DM is a punk that doesn't tell you what he rolled for the monsters).  A solid defensive choice for any Druid, but especially Predators who won't get much use out of Barkskin.

Ferocious Transformation (PrP):  You get free CA, and for almost all Druids this means that you'll do more damage in addition to the accuracy boost.  It's an Immediate Reaction so the shift won't save you from the damage, but how much can you expect from a 2nd level encounter utility?

Fleet Pursuit (PHB2):  Not a bad option for slower races that want some additional mobility.  Elven Predators that take this are basically The Flash, at least for an encounter.  Still, needing that much speed is pretty situational.


Obscuring Mist (PHB2):  Annoy ranged enemies, or place the edge between two opposing fronts: your allies gain concealment by staying just within the mist, but they can still attack enemies outside of it without penalty.  Unfortunately, it's a Standard Action and a Daily power, but the fact that it can be sustained is a plus.

Resist Energy (PrP):  This just strikes me as the type of thing that "spellcasters" are supposed to do, and so I can see how it might be appealing to some players.  It's situational so despite being an encounter power it won't see much use, but your party will thank you the next time you fight a dragon.

Skittering Sneak (PHB2):  I'm honestly not sure how to rate powers like this.  They're generally not very useful in combat, but for a stealth/infiltration mission they're just what you need.  Nobody will be suspicious of a tiny little mouse running around.

All Encompassing Nature (D386):  This power is just so darn situational.  Even in a skill-heavy campaign, there's probably someone else in the party that has Arcana and Religion covered (and Dungeoneering should already be solid, as it's based on Wisdom).  Best case scenario is that once in a blue moon you can come to the rescue when someone fails a monster knowledge check for Arcana. 


Level 3 Encounter

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Predator's Flurry (PHB2):  The default option for most Predators at this level.  Dazing two targets is nice, especially since they needn't be clumped (so long as they're within a number of squares equal to yoru Dex mod as a Predator, or 2 for everyone else).  I'll take this over an AoE daze like Color Spray any day.  Color Spray has the potential to hit more targets, but Predator's Flurry is more party friendly and you have a more flexible choice of who you want to daze.  This is also a good "sticky" power for Swarm Druid off-tanks.

Flowing Swarm (PrP):  Gives Swarm Druids some mobility, and moving through enemy squares (and doing extra damage while you're at it!) is always fun.  A good choice for AoE spammers.

Roar of the Unbowed Beast (PrP):  A Druid power that marks!  I would have preferred it to be a Swarm power instead of a Guardian one, but then again the punishment for ignoring the mark is forced movement, which is one of the Guardian's specialties.  Besides, it's still pretty effective in the hands of a Swarm Druid.  It also conveniently targets Will (which is typically a low defense).

Thorn Castle (PrP):  This power has a lot going on with it, which makes it seem kind of schizophrenic to me.  An AoE that slows seems useful against melee enemies during the first round of combat, but the power's effect creates a zone that grants cover to any creature attacked through it, which makes it seem more like an anti-artillery power.  The party hides behind the zone to gain cover from artillery, and you use as many forced movement powers as possible to knock melee enemies into the zone (they'll take damage for entering it).  So you can either use the slow to hinder melee enemies that are far off and have the zone be useless, or take advantage of the zone and have the slow probably be useless.  I guess its selling point is diversity: you have a tool for two very different situations.  A good choice for Guardians, as it protects your allies (you're a secondary leader, after all), and provides a damaging zone that synergizes with your many forced movement powers.

Tundra Wind (PHB2):  A solid choice for anyone, but especially nice for Guardians, who can use it to push enemies all over the place.  Try to put the enemies wherever it would be bad for them to be prone, even if that means just 1 square away from you (adjacent to a Fighter would be nice too).

Battering Claws (PHB2):  It's Savage Rend x 2 with one extra square of movement.  An excellent choice for Polearm Druids, since you can knock 2 targets prone and choose where they fall (make it 1 square from you).

Ironbreaker's Claws (PrP):  An AoE that does decent damage, and if you hit and then switch to beast form before your turn ends, any enemy that hits or misses you takes 5 damage.  Disincentive for every enemy on the board (even ranged) to attack you is nice (especially for Predators who don't normally get these kinds of powers), but the damage doesn't scale.

Call Lightning (PHB2):  I remember really liking this spell in 3rd edition.  No longer.  AoE damage equal to Swarming Locusts, but instead of a CA-granting zone you get an attack-debuffing zone (plus enemies that leave take 5 thunder damage).  This has a net defensive effect, and generally speaking net offensive powers (like Swarming Locusts) are more worthwhile.  The punishment for leaving the zone does make this slightly better than Swarming Locusts, but shouldn't 3rd level encounter powers be obviously better than at-wills? 


Feral Harrier (PrP):  The damage is only ok, but the shifts before and after make it seem like the perfect skirmisher power.  It fits a striker-focused Predator's playstyle pretty well, and makes it easy to hit and run, but with a little creativity you can already do this with better powers that offer more control.  Take Predator's Flurry, for example.  Use it when an enemy has engaged you in melee, run away from that enemy and attack someone else, then shift away from them using Wild Shape, and finally use your move action to run away.  Even Savage Rend lets you run away after you hit someone with it; slide them away from you and just use a move action without worrying about shifting.  That's why I like to think of Feral Harrier as a newbie skirmishing power that takes up a valuable power slot that could be used to gain some more control.


Level 5 Daily

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Clinging Drones (PrP):  Another reason why Swarm Druids can make actual defenders jealous.  The power's effect is that for the rest of the encounter, enemies can't shift while adjacent to you.  The blast itself is fairly good too, especially against skirmishers.  This power is a skirmisher's nightmare.

Vine Serpents (PrP):  Restrain is an excellent condition to inflict, especially as an AoE.  It's like immobilize, but the target also grants CA, can't be freed with forced movement, and takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls.  The power also creates a zone as an effect that doesn't need to be sustained (lasts until the end of the encounter)!  Any creature within the zone that leaves it or attacks a creature outside of it takes 5+Wis mod damage.  Since Druids excel at using forced movement, enemies will be spending a lot of time in that zone (and no matter what they do they take damage--unless they opt not to attack). 

Wall of Thorns (PHB2):  Similar to the Wizard's Wall of Fire (a popular 9th level Daily), but 4 levels earlier and without the autodamage for being adjacent.  Can be sustained with a minor action.  Enemies take damage (and ongoing damage) if they enter the wall's space or start their turn there, and entering a wall square requires 3 additional squares of movement, making it an effective barricade.  Extremely deadly if you set it up such that enemies are forced (or locked) into the wall's space for multiple rounds.  I've seen this power trivialize difficult encounters where the party is on the defensive at a choke point.  I've also seen it be used to completely bisect a room full of minions (which obviously can't pass through it), essentially turning 1 encounter into 2 easy ones.  It won't be useful all the time, but when it is, it really shines.

Primal Spider (D382):  This is a decent power in a vacuum, but it's overshadowed in every way by Vine Serpents.  Restrain is better than immobilize, immobilize on a miss is better than slow on a miss, and an encounter long damaging zone (that doesn't need to be sustained) is better than slowing on each hit with a beast form attack.

Roar of Terror (PHB2):
  Definitely a solid power at the upper limits of black, and may even be blue.  Blast 5 does more damage per target than some of the single-target powers at this level (*coughPrimalWolverinecough*), targets Will, and has a daze (save ends) effect.  Psychic damage means that it will qualify for Psychic Lock in Paragon (which is really only worth picking up if you have Call of the Beast as one of your at-wills).

Summon Fire Beetle (PrP):  This is your first summon with an AoE Instinctive Action, and it's a comparatively forgiving one.  The beetle uses its close blast 3 against as many enemies as it can.  Note that it won't avoid hitting allies; if an ally is in a big clump of enemies the beetle won't hesitate to inflict some friendly fire.  Fortunately, it won't specifically go after groups of allies.

Summon Guard Drake (PrP):  One of the Druid's few defensive summons.  Essentially, it stands next to whoever you tell it to guard and attacks adjacent enemies that attack its charge (via an immediate interrupt).  As its Instinctive Action it moves so that it's adjacent to the creature it's guarding, automarking any adjacent enemies at the end of its movement.  This means that it's really convenient to have the Drake guard yourself, because where-ever you move during your turn, the Guard Drake will follow before any enemies have a chance to attack you (provided you don't move further than its speed).  Note that if it's guarding sedentary allies, adjacent enemies can usually just shift and then attack, ignoring the Drake's punishment (but still taking the mark de-buff).  Thus, against tactical-minded DMs, combine with tactics that force enemies to charge or immobilize them.

Summon Shadow Ape (PrP):  A summon with a dash of leader.  When the Ape hits an enemy, all creatures gain concealment from that enemy (including the Ape).  It instinctively attacks an adjacent creature, or moves up to its speed to an enemy no one is adjacent.   Unfortunately, it seems like the Ape is fairly easy to run away from so you might not want to just "fire and forget."  Flank the target (or have an ally do so), or use status effects to impair the target's mobility (prone, daze, immobilize, and restrain work the best).  It may take some coordination to live up to its full potential, but at least it won't attack your friends.

Summon Stalking Panther (PrP):  This summon is all about damage, but its Instinctive Action is actually kind of a pain.  It charges the nearest enemy that has no creatures within 2 squares of it, or it attacks an adjacent enemy if it can't do that.  This means that enemies can clump together to avoid its charge attack (silver lining: you could take advantage of this by spamming AoE's), and the panther will take a lot of OAs, reducing the length of time that it will be on the playing field.  Set it loose on some artillery for best performance. 

Form of the Primeval Wolf (D382):  A +2 bonus to damage when you have CA is nice, but unfortunately it ends the next time you use Wild Shape.  Ugh.  The single target power is actually not bad, if for no other reason than it's a free action that can be used whenever you hit with a beast form attack.  The free action attack does decent damage and knocks the target prone, making it a decent nova attack.  Of course if you're going for damage you'd get more out of a summoning power, and the Pack Wolf (at level 1) even prones (and can do so more than this power).  This power just barely escapes being red, largely because the other 2 level 5 Dailies from D382 are just that much worse. 

Hobbling Rend (PHB2):  Slowing is almost always most useful in the first round of combat, before distant melee enemies have gotten the chance to act.  Having a Daily that slows 2 enemies from melee, regardless of the fact that it's save ends, just doesn't strike me as being the most intelligent use of a Daily power slot.

Primal Wolverine (PHB2):  Pitiful damage for a single target Daily spell, even if it does have ongoing 5 to go with it.  Also causes any enemy that makes a melee attack against you to take Con mod damage while in beast form for the rest of the encounter.  Just not worth a 5th level Daily in my opinion.

Form of the Primeval Lizard (D382):  Like all of the Daily powers from D382, the effect (+2 to attacks with OAs) is not only minor for a Daily power, but ends the next time you use Wild Shape.  Using Wild Shape often in combat is almost always more effective than remaining in one form the whole time (though Swarm Druids will need to be in beast form to benefit from their damage reduction).  The single target attack slows (bad status effect) until the end of your next turn (not even save ends for a Daily!?!?!), and if the target moves or shifts into a square that's not adjacent to you it takes damage equal to your Con mod.  Pathetic punishment for a Daily, and it only "improves your stickiness" (if it can even be called that) for 1 round!  Absolute and utter garbage. 

Form of the Primeval Spider (D382):  The +1 bonus to saves is nice, but alas, it ends the next time you use Wild Shape.  The attack is a single target immobilize (save ends).  Is this power really at the same level as Vine Serpents?


Level 6 Utility

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Camouflage Cloak (PHB2):  Works on you, or a friend.  Normally invisibility ends when you attack, but not so for this power!  Cast it before you attack for free CA, and you can even use ranged attacks in melee (when you're invisible you don't provoke OAs).  Then you get a nice little defensive buff for the next round (any enemies that attack you take a -5 penalty), and since the invisibility ends at the end of your next turn, you can get CA for a second attack!  Plus this is an ENCOUNTER power!  The only downside is that whoever is invisible can't move, or they lose the invisibility.  Small price to pay if you ask me.

Leaf Wall (PHH2):  Set this up to create a substantial terrain advantage for your party.  Allies within it or behind it have concealment, so it works against both ranged and melee enemies.  Enemies that enter the wall's space or start their turn there grant CA until the end of their next turn.  Use forced movement to cause as many enemies as possible to grant CA by moving them through the wall.  Just be sure that you place it in a spot where your allies will want to spend the vast majority of the encounter.  Also, don't forget that the way the power is worded only enemies attacking through the wall are penalized from concealment; your ranged allies can stay behind it, reaping the benefit of concealment without suffering an attack penalty.

Swarm Dispersal (PrP):  At least for Swarm Druids, it's a good thing that this works in humanoid form rather than in beast form.  In beast form you're already very durable, and this allows you to risk turning into your humanoid form to pop off a ranged attack.  Just as useful for any other Druid build, too. 

Black Harbinger (PHB2):  For the duration of the encounter you can use Wild Shape to turn into a bird and fly.  You can't attack while in that form, but it's still a significant boost to your mobility.  Can't reach archers up on a ledge?  Fly up there and tear them apart in melee next round!  Need a sniper spot where you'll be safe from all melee foes?  Fly up to one! 

Blood Frenzy Howl (D389):  The burst size means that you're almost guaranteed to help all of your allies, which adds up to a lot of THP handed out.  This power gets bonus points for helping Druids be better leaders, the secondary role that they're currently least adept at filling (which is odd, since 3.x Druids were basically leaders).  The fact that this power is triggered on a critical hit, and thus you can't control when the THP are distributed, prevents it from being sky blue.

Rebuking Thorns (PrP):  If you use this at the beginning of an encounter where you plan to be in melee a lot, the end result is a lot of damage.  It's like the Fighter's Rain of Steel, but better because it's a fixed number instead of 1[W].  Also, props for allowing you to use Con or Dex for this.  It's always appreciated when a power serves all builds equally well. 

Rodent's Agility (PrP):  An encounter power that lets you move 5 squares, through enemy spaces, without provoking OAs?  Sign me up!  Bummer that it only works in humanoid form (though the flavor is that you turn into a mouse without using up your Wild Shape, scamper off, and then turn back into yoru humanoid form at the end of the movement).  Excellent for Swarm Druids that like wading into the enemy ranks and, standing far enough away from their friends, unleashing a devastating close burst or blast. 

Chant of Sustenance (PHB2):  This is an interesting power, as you get to move zones that you normally wouldn't be able to move.  It will allow you to get some extra damage out of them if enemies that start their turns there take damage, and in general it allows you to respond to the changing conditions on the battlefield.  You also auto-sustain on the round that you use this.  Unfortunately, this is a Daily and the zone re-arranging is only a one-shot deal.  I could see this making a BIG difference in the occasional encounter, but most of the time it won't really be that useful.

Creeping Vines (PrP):  Can we say situational?  Still, it's an encounter power so your party might find something creative to do with it?  The only thing that keeps it from being red is the fact that pit traps are not uncommon, and this will get your allies out quickly. 

Stalker's Eyes (PHB2):  Eh, your perception is already pretty good, and many races already have low light vision.  This power is red for them, and close to it even for races without low light vision.  The fact that it's a Daily makes it very weak.

Treetop Lurker (D382):  Ummm, really?  Creeping Vines is just better than this.  It may not last as long, but at least it's an encounter power and lets your allies climb as well.



Level 7 Encounter

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PREFACE:  This level is disappointing for Con based Druids.  You might be better off picking up another level 3 encounter power.

Blood Spray Bite (PrP):  Solid damage, and if you're a Predator you'll be pushing a LOT of creatures (just don't target soldiers or brutes with the initial attack, as it's vs Fortitude).  Remember that you don't have to push in a straight line forward; as long as each square moved is further away from you, you can push different enemies in converging trajectories to clump them (into a zone, or to set them up for an AoE).  An excellent power for re-shaping the battlefield.

Latch On (PHB2):  Solid damage, and you grab the target.  If you're a Predator, they gain a penalty to escaping the grab equal to your Dex mod (for other builds this is purple).  I've heard a lot of arguments against this power because it locks the most fragile of the Druid builds down in melee.  This is true, and if used recklessly it could easily end up doing more harm than good.  The key is to lock down enemies that don't want to be in melee.  Ideally, you'll be grabbing artillery, ranged lurkers or controllers (that have ranged attacks as opposed to close attacks), allowing you to smack them with an OA every time they attack.  And if they take two move actions to try to escape you've done some quality action denial (and with the hefty debuff, it will usually take them a while to escape).  If you're going to use this against a melee enemy, skirmishers that get bonus damage for having CA or for moving are the best targets because you'll deny them these bonuses.  NEVER use this on soldiers or brutes!

Poison Sting (PrP):  This is a decent sized burst, but make sure your friends are clear of it.  Encourages enemies to stay put, which isn't bad if you're trying to off-tank.  Still, the punishment doesn't seem like that severe a deterrent.

Serpent's Hold (D389):  Check it out, it's Latch on for Guardians.  Except without a penalty to escape the grab, so don't expect to hold on to the enemy for very long.  This disadvantage is somewhat compensated for by being able to move the target when you sustain, and the fact that you can shift 2 squares before making the initial attack.  Still, if you grab a target you probably want to keep it locked down, and Latch On just does that better (at least for Predators). 

Tremor (PHB2):  Moderate single target damage from range with a prone effect.  Enemies adjacent to the target are also knocked prone.  It's not hard to coax some action denial out of this power if you cooperate with your allies (just tell them to stay 1 square away to prevent charging).  If an ally can help you clump enemies via some forced movement, all the better.

Plague of Locusts (PrP):  Damage isn't terrible if you're a Swarm Druid, and it targets 3 creatures (which means it's party friendly).  CA is nice since it's generally useful to everyone, but I expect more impressive control at this level.  The short range also kind of sucks. 

Swirling Winds (PHB2):  Poor single target damage for this level with a sub-par pull effect (albeit to multiple enemies).  The only use for a pull 1 would be to peel enemies off of your squishy allies.  You can already do that with Savage Rend, Chill Wind, Thorn Whip or Storm Spike (to some extent). 

Wind of Blades (PrP):  An AoE that targets Will is nice, since you don't get many of those.  Enemies can get around dealing damage to their friends by just shifting away from them though.  There's absolutely no punishment for moving.  A slight annoyance to creatures like Hobgoblins who like to keep their friends close, but otherwise it's a waste of an effect. 

Feast of Fury (PHB2):  Remember back at level 1 when I recommended against Darting Bite?  Pretty much the same deal here.  This does more damage (but only barely, even though it's 6 levels higher), but the 2nd attack will either do less damage (if the first misses) or more damage (if the first hits).  Oh, except that it doesn't have a shift effect like Darting Bite did.  Just don't take it.


Level 9 Daily

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Primal Wolf (PHB2):  A single target prone where the target has to pass a save before it can stand up.  Not bad.  The effect, however, is glorious.  Whenever you hit an enemy with a melee attack while in beast form you knock them prone (you also get a +2 bonus to attack rolls against prone targets).  This power has excellent synergy with Savage Rend, even if you haven't augmented it into a slide 2 with Rushing Cleats yet.  Just knock every enemy you hit prone at a convenient 1 square away from you!  Savage Rend is also your best option for taking advantage of the +2 attack bonus against prone creatures; simply use it on your original target before it saves, and it stays 1 square away (in case it passes the save).  If you charge it with these attacks, you get a 2 (power) + 2 (CA) + 1 (charge) + 1 (if you have Enraged Boar Form) = +5-6 to attacks, plus any bonus damage that you get for charging or having CA.  This makes Primal Wolf a rare combination of excellent striking potential as well as excellent control.  Note that Polearm Druids can already replicate this power's effect at-will, so this won't be an attractive option for them.

Summon Crocodile (PrP):  This summon's Large size could be an advantage, allowing it to block up a hallway or just resulting in it potentially being adjacent to more creatures.  The attack is nice because when it hits, the Croc grabs (and the enemy takes a -3 penalty to escape).  Not quite as good a debuff as Latch On, but it's still a 15% lower chance of escaping.  And even if the target escapes (which burns its move action), as long as it stays adjacent to the Croc it will get attacked again instinctively (and grabbed again).  Nice damage, because it gets to attack when it sustains the grab (which it does instinctively).  Quality summon with good control, low maintenance, and isn't a danger to you or the party.

Entangle (PHB2):  Excellent combat opener.  The area is large, and it's a mass immobilize.  The effect creates a zone that lasts until the end of the encounter (no need to sustain), and any enemy starting its turn within the zone is slowed.  Even if you miss with the immobilize, the slow might still result in mass action denial.  When you're in beast form within the zone, your attacks can score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20!  This power is sky blue if you have some combination of Vicious Advantage, Claw Gloves, Defensive Advantage, and/or a Staff of Aversion.

Sunbeam (PHB2):  Enemies only Area burst 1 that targets Will.  This makes it accurate, and safe to use.  On a hit, the target is blinded (save ends), which is the equivalent to a -5 attack debuff and the target can't make OAs.  Plus, it grants CA.  The damage is done as an aftereffect.  Unfortunately, what keeps this power from being Sky Blue is the fact that on a miss it just does damage.  It would be better if it blinded until the end of your next turn, but I guess we can't have it all.

Flurry of Stingers (PrP):  This power is about damage, pure and simple.  It does excellent damage for a close burst 2 (just don't hit your friends!), and then whenever an enemy enters a square or starts its turn adjacent to you it takes poison damage equal to your Con mod.  A Swarm Druid using Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer can whittle down an enemy's HP, taking little damage in retaliation.

Summon Great Eagle (PrP):  You could do worse than this.  Its standard action is a flyby attack, and it gets a +4 AC bonus against OAs.  When it hits, the enemy grants CA.  It will instinctively attack an adjacent enemy, and if it can't do that it moves adjacent to an enemy (which causes the enemy to grant CA).  Basically, it's going to provide CA every turn that it's out.  Blue if you have a Rogue in the party, since it will let them attack from range without losing Sneak Attack.  Plus, thanks to the Claw Gloves that you've almost certainly picked up ages ago, you pack quite a punch yourself when you have CA (if you charge, you'll be even more accurate and do even more damage).  This makes it the summon of choice for striker Druids at this level.

Death's Bounty (PrP):  What an odd power.  Decent single target damage (cold damage qualifies it for Wintertouched/Lasting Frost), and the effect creates a burst 2 zone centered on the target whenever it drops to 0 HP.  Use it on weaker opponents to get the zone sooner rather than later, but either way you don't have complete control over where the zone appears (forced movement can help, though).  The zone lasts until the end of the encounter and doesn't need to be sustained.  It's difficult terrain, and any creature that ends its turn there is immobilized until it escapes (using your defenses).  The problem is, it takes a lot of work to ensure that an enemy will end its turn in the zone (even if it is difficult terrain), and without a debuff to escaping it could be trivial depending on whether the target uses Acrobatics or Athletics (you'll either have a low Fortitude or Reflex). 

Form of the Primeval Raptor (D383):  Fly speed equal to your speed isn't too shabby, and I wouldn't even mind the requirement that you have to land at the end of your movement if the effect lasted the whole encounter.  Alas, you lose it the n
ext time you use Wild Shape.  The attack itself is a mediocre skirmisher power, albeit one with flight.

Pain from Perseverence (D386):  Weak damage for a Daily of this level (plus psychic for a vs Fort attack?!?!).  Situationally useful for punching a hole in an annoying resistance (if, for example, your DM puts you up against a White Dragon to foil Frostcheese).  The only reason it's not red is because it's also an encounter-long Arcane Admixture for all of your Druid powers.  Nice if you want to use Frostcheese yourself on a greater variety of powers, and it makes the Storm Speaker PP (if you were unfortunate enough to choose it) more useful for an encounter.

Summon Proud Bear (PrP):  The instinctive action ruins this summon.  You either attack an adjacent enemy, or move adjacent to an enemy.  Why isn't the Bear using its reach?!  Even the Toad (at level 1) uses its reach instinctively!

Feral Mauling (PHB2):  Single target attack that throws out a -2 attack penalty.  For your 9th level Daily?  Not unless you want to suck.  In a couple of levels you can take Psychic Lock and inflict the same attack penalty at-will with Call of the Beast, as an AoE that targets Will, no less. 

Form of the Primeval Cat (D383):  Terrible.  Very similar to Form of the Primeval Raptor but instead of flight speed you get a +1 to speed, and the attack is a shift instead of flight.  Oh, but you don't get the shift after a hit.

Form of the Primeval Serpent (D383):  An effect so negligible it might as well not exist (yet you still lose it next time you Wild Shape), laughable damage for a Daily, and a single target ongoing damage + slow (save ends).  I wouldn't even take this at first level.

Primal Serpent (D382):  See Form of the Primeval Serpent, but worse because it doesn't have the slow effect.  Contender for the worst power in the game.


Level 10 Utility

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Armor of the Wild (PHB2):  Resist All equal to your Con mod for an encounter!  Obviously pretty useless for Predators, but this will prevent a lot of damage for Guardians and Swarms. 

Feywild Sojourn (PHB2):  Druids don't get many teleports, so this is a great opportunity for them.  Best of all, it's a delayed teleport that lets you hang out in your "happy place" for a round, far out of harm's way.  As a move action at the start of your next turn, pop back onto the battlefield (anywhere within 10 squares of where you left) wherever it would be most advantageous.  And it's an encounter power!

Animal Clan (PrP):  Do you have a summon that, instinctively, doesn't fight the way you want it to (namely those that put your allies in harm's way)?  Use this whenever that summon is on the field so you can control its Instinctive Action with a minor action!  Note that you can also move the summon with a minor action, so make sure that you have a good ranged attack for your standard action.

Goodberry (PrP):  Create 4 goodberries that last all day.  The HP/THP that they can grant is pretty negligible at this level, but rolling a saving throw as a minor action is pretty nice!  Though it's not stated in the power, common sense would allow you to administer this to an ally as a minor action (like a potion). 

Animal Shapes (PrP):  It's Mass Skittering Sneak!  If you tend to go on a lot of infiltration missions, this will help you keep the party together (and unnoticed). 

Winter Storm (PHB2):  The difficult terrain alone isn't enough of a benefit to justify taking this power, but it also causes enemies in the (sustainable) zone to gain vulnerable 5 cold.  If you and/or your allies have a lot of cold powers, this can cause a LOT of additional damage!  Purple if there's no party synergy (few, if any, cold attacks), but sky blue if there are cold spammers in your party (cold sorcerer, frost weapons, etc).  

Cleansing Rain (PrP):  Very situational.  If you know that you'll be facing a lot of enemies with fire/acid attacks then it might be worth picking up (to re-train out when it's no longer useful).  Looks suspiciously like a power designed to aid a troll PC...

Roots of Rescue (PHB2):  Not sure if forced movement is enough of a problem to justify taking a 10th level utility power (even if it is an encounter power) to negate it once. 

Swarm Swap (PrP):  This power is situational because it requires a very specific setup to be useful.  You need to be adjacent to an enemy just outside of an AoE that is targetting you. 

Diving Fin (D382):  If you're in a campaign with a lot of aquatic environments, this may become a reasonable (if sub-par) choice.  Never split the party...


Paragon Tier Powers
STATUS:  Complete.

Level 13 Encounter

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Claws of Retribution (PHB2):  At first this seems like just a decent way to get some out of turn damage in for a striker-focused Predator.  But it's so much more than that if you couple it with Savage Rend.  First of all, you get to make an OA against any adjacent enemies that hit or miss, and with an attack bonus equal to your Dex mod (as a Predator), your chances of hitting are very good.  Since OAs interrupt the triggering attack, when you slide the target away with Savage Rend you can cause them to waste the triggering attack (provided you slide them out of reach of their target).  With Rushing Cleats and/or Fierce Thrasher Form, you can even screw enemies with reach over.  This gives Predators a good reason to rush into a clump of enemies and wreak havoc, with little to fear.  Swarm Druids can absorb damage, but with this power you can avoid the attack altogether!  Bump this down to blue if you're not a Predator but still have Savage Rend, and purple if you don't have Savage Rend.

Floating Death (PrP):  You make a close burst 1 attack for solid damage, shift your speed (over to another clump of enemies) and then make another close burst 1 attack (if you're at least 4 squares from where you started), which does extra damage if you hit at least one target with the first attack.  The area damage that can result from this power is impressive, and the mobility is greatly appreciated.  Plus the imagery that it evokes is awesome.

Rending Claws (PrP):  Impressive nova set-up!  If you hit, the target gets vulnerability 5 to all damage until the end of your next turn.  Use it on an enemy with a ton of HP (Elites or Solos), because the whole party should be focus firing this guy, with multi-attacks ideally, and possibly even using action points.  Plus on your next turn you'll benefit from the vulnerability (and if you have a summon out, better still).  For Predators this is sky blue because the vulnerability equals 3 + your Dex mod (so 8 for a +Dex race, and it will scale with level, becoming 9 in one level, actually).  Striker builds will enjoy being responsible for the obscene amount of damage that this can inflict, even if it is indirectly (still your damage though!). 

Expose Weakness (PHB2):  This is an interesting setup power for Guardians.  Assuming it hits, the next attack is made agains
t the target's lowest defense.  Make sure you (or whoever makes the next attack) take advantage of the opportunity by hitting them with a doozy (Dailies preferred).  Rending Claws is a better setup for pure damage, but this could allow a power with a status effect to hit.

Oak Skewer (PrP):  A very large amount of forced movement to a single target if you're a Guardian, and a conditional immobilize (the target must end adjacent to a solid object).  You basically impale the target and pin them to something.  With a push of 3 + Con mod as a Guardian, odds are pretty good that you can get the target to a solid object for the immobilize (walls, pillars, trees, heck, even overturned tables work).  If you're not a Guardian, however, the push is only 3 squares, making it much more situational (red).

Tidal Surge (PHB2):  A solid forced movement power.  The area affects allies as well though, so you'll have to plan for that.  Sky blue for Polearm builds, as it allows you to knock multiple enemies prone.

Twin Horned Bolt (PrP):  A single target, ranged 10 prone is underwhelming, but if you hit then any enemies that provided cover are also automatically knocked prone.  The closest thing that 4e has to a "line" attack.  


Thunder Crash (PHB2):  It may come as a surprise that I've rated your first power that stuns as purple.  That's because the stupid thing doesn't do any damage!  Both Fighters (if they're wielding a hammer or mace) and Rogues get WEAPON attacks that stun at this level, so if you take this then they'll just laugh at you.  Comparisons with other classes aside, stunning is great because it guarantees a wasted turn.  But if your turn is spent just stunning someone (no damage), then all you've really accomplished is taking yourself and an enemy out of the fight for a turn.  The effect is neutral for both of you.  That's not to say this power is useless though; it just depends on who you stun.  Stun a weakling, and the net effect is to your disadvantage.  But stun the BBEG, and you've done a wonderful thing (you may be out of the fight, but the rest of the party can wail on him).  Situational because it's only useful in combats where you can stun someone stronger than yourself. 


Level 15 Daily

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Baleful Polymorph (PHB2):  Turning people into newts is a classic magic user threat, and now you can show everyone that you're not kidding around!  A single target, vs Will stun (save ends).  Does damage as an aftereffect, and on a miss it's a daze (save ends).  Best if you can inflict some save penalties.

Devouring Flies (PrP):  This power depends a lot on how many enemies are in a given encounter - the more the merrier.  It's a decently large area, but the initial attack hits your friends so you're better off using it sooner rather than later (start of combat is ideal).  Which is fine, since the zone (which doesn't need to be sustained!) doles out a decent amount of surgeless healing whenever an enemy starts its turn there.  Six HP might not sound like a lot, but when it's 6 HP per enemy, per round, it starts to add up.  Good defensive option.

Infesting Strike (D389):  This is pretty much an AoE that deals ongoing damage, but the damage is contagious!  Very flavorful, and can be devastating if your party has a lot of forced movement.  Even after a given enemy saves, if you force them next to another infected enemy they'll become re-infected!  You'll really dish out the hurt with this one, and it has a solid aftereffect to boot.  Interestingly, by re-infecting enemies they can be suffering from the infection and its aftereffect simultaneously.

Call Lightning Storm (PHB2):  Hmm, a smallish AoE that hits your friends too.  It does create a zone that slows, though, and as a move action you can move the zone 5 squares.  Make sure that enemies (actually, it's creatures so don't get too excited) in the zone STAY slowed!  When you sustain it, everyone takes 5 Lightning damage.  Honestly, this power would be a lot better if it wasn't so hazardous to your friends.

Devouring Ice (PHB2):  First thing's first: this power has the Reliable keyword, so you'll never "waste" it.  Against melee enemies immobilized (save ends) could easily mean "you lose your turn," and the ongoing cold damage is a nice bonus.  Plus the aftereffect does more damage than Baleful Polymorph's.  Still, it's of less general use than Baleful Polymorph since stun is foolproof action denial.  Plus, while Reliable is nice, it still means that you do nothing on your turn if you miss with it. 


Primal Boar (D382):  Don't bother taking this is you're a Predator, as the damage bonus while charging is equal to your Con mod.  Excellent choice for Swarm Druids though, because when you charge and provoke OAs (which won't hurt you much even if they hit) they attacker takes 15 damage.  The target of the charge is pushed 1 square and knocked prone on a hit.  I'm not sure, but I think that the second half of this power should be formatted as its own attack, rather than in the Effect line.  

Revitalizing Pounce (PHB2):  Nice self-sufficiency power.  The damage is less than stellar, but auto-saving from everything on a hit can really turn a difficult encounter around.  Make good use of the opportunity and follow up with an AP so you can screw over whoever's been inflicting all of those status effects.

World Warp (D386):  Out of turn action denial as an effect is nothing to sneeze at, and it also has some re-positioning utility.  Still, monster attacks typically aren't very damaging, so its offensive value will tend to be quite underwhelming for a 15th level Daily.  The exception to this would be if you managed to use it on something that dishes out a nasty status effect.

Primal Crocodile (D383):  You can grab the target, and they take a -2 penalty to escape.  This is less than the penalty from Summon Crocodile (at level 9), and much less than the penalty from Latch On (a 7th level encounter power).  I expect more from my Dailies.  There's also an effect that lets you grab a target whenever you attack them in beast form, but there's no penalty to escaping, which means that escaping will be pretty easy.  Still, escaping burns a move action so for Swarm Druids who want to keep their enemies close this is blue

Slashing Claws (PHB2):  This power is all about damage, which IMO is a waste of a Daily. 

Summon Lightning Drake (PrP):  One of the riskier summons at your disposal.  It has an area attack that it uses as its Instinctive Action (after shifting 1 square), but it tries to catch as many creatures as possible in it, which includes you and your friends!  If you have Animal Clan (level 10 utility) or Primal Summoning Expertise (Epic feat), then this power becomes blue because you can actually control the Drake's AoE yourself.  There's also a whole spectrum of usefulness between purple and blue which depends on whether or not you and your party have lightning resistance, and how much you have.

Summon Savage Tiger (PrP):  This thing's a loose cannon.  It deals good damage, but it charges the nearest bloodied creature with its instinctive action.  Not only does that put you and your allies in danger, but it means that the Tiger could take an OA every time there's a bloodied creature within charging range.  Only if there's no bloodied creatures within range will it attack an adjacent enemy.  Bump it up to black if you have some way of reliably controlling it without using your own standard actions.

Wrath of the Storm Chaser (PrP):  A single target attack with a decent slide on a hit.  The effect is what makes this power though: whenever you use Wild Shape to change into beast form, you slide the target 2 squares.  Unfortunately, the fact that the effect only works on the initial target of this attack makes it pretty situational, besides which you need something interesting to use the slide for.  For most Druids, this won't make or break an encounter.  This is blue for Polearm Druids, however, as it essentially gives you a free prone against the target whenever you use Wild Shape to go into beast form.  Since you don't have to be in melee to knock them prone like you usually do, it's absolutely devastating against flying opponents.  You can literally cause them to automatically crash every other turn.

Summon Razorclaw Bat (PrP):  This is probably the worst summon you can get, not because it's dangerous to you and your friends but because it doesn't really do much.  After the initial attack it instinctively attacks an adjacent enemy if it can.  If it can't do that, it literally runs away and hides.  And wont' do anything else until you command it.  An enemy literally just has to walk away from it once to make it useless on its own.  It also has a close burst 2 standard action attack that causes enemies to lose all concealment, but is a mass concealment denier really worth a 15th level Daily? 



Level 16 Utility

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Darting Viper (PrP):  I can has mobility!  Shift your speed, ignoring difficult terrain, and you can move through enemy spaces.  Until the end of your next turn you also get a +4 bonus to speed, and can move through enemy spaces.  And you can pull this off every encounter!

Wall of Stone (PHB2):  This power has AMAZING control potential.  You can use it to "seal off" a medium creature, which will then have to break through a square of the wall (which has 100 HP).  Here's how it works:  8 squares will completely surround the enemy, but a square is only 5 ft high so they can just step right over if you stop there.  Next place a square on top of one of the non-corner squares, so that one side is 2 squares high.  Place another square jutting off from the side of this top square, such that it forms a "lid" over the creature's head.  Voila!  You have a box!  Also useful if you need to completely block off a hallway.

Howl of the Wild (PHB2):  Spend a healing surge as a minor action once per day.  Plus, each target (you and your allies) in a close burst 5 regains 2D6 HP (the bonus HP even scales!).  A solid defensive option, especially if there are times when the party Leader can't keep up with the party's healing needs.

Primal Restoration (PHB2):  Clump up with your allies an everyone in the burst 2 (including you) can spend a healing surge to either regain HP or remove an effect that a save can end.  Why isn't this sky blue, you ask?  It costs a standard action.  Better than a second wind, though.

Dryad's Trees (PrP):  Neat concept, and you grant the whole party a teleport that can be used for the rest of the encounter (albeit one with restrictions on the destination).  You can use this to severely hamper less mobile enemies, especially if combined with ranged attacks and additional control effects.

Elusive Wind (PrP):  Once per encounter flight (8 squares) is solid, and the fact that you shed any marks is icing on the cake.  If you don't land at the end, you float down safely (so feel free to engage a flying enemy for a turn).  Until the end of your next turn, you get to shift 1 square as a free action whenever you are hit.  This is really good if free actions are assumed to be useable as interrupts, but to the best of my knowledge that's unclear (some free actions, like Elven Accuracy, only work if interrupt is assumed, but whether that assumption applies to all free actions has not been clarified).  Ask your DM.

Feral Recovery (PrP):  Mass free saving throws are a good deal, and certain saves even get a +5 bonus (fear, charm, or illusion).  Not bad, but personally I'd prefer a free save (personal) that you can use every encounter.


Phantom Beast (PrP):  If you're looking for mobility and want to move through people's squares, just take Darting Viper.  Still, this has its uses, as phasing can be used to walk through walls.

Insect Plague (PHB2):  This is sort of an annoying power to use effectively, but insubstantial is a nice benefit.  Basically, if you start your turn in humanoid form you want to attack, and then wild shape so that you're insubstantial for the next round of attacks.  While insubstantial, you can't attack though, so you'll have to Wild Shape at the start of your turn back to humanoid form to attack.  Assuming you don't want to use your beast form for any attacks, you can be insubstantial every other round.  I'm not a fan of the restriction though.
 


Level 17 Encounter

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Infiltrating Drone (D389):  Oooh, a Charm AoE for beast form...that targets Reflex?  And isn't party friendly?  Uhh, ok, if you say so.  Still, the secondary attack is glorious:  an encounter DOMINATE!  And targeting Fort isn't so bad, it just means you'll want to dominate enemy controllers and skirmishers, which is probably who you'd want to temporarily convert to your cause anyways.

Cloud of Sparrows (PrP):  Your allies will appreciate that this burst 2 targets enemies only.  The effect grants you a rare form of mobility for a Druid - a teleport!  You also gain concealment for a turn.  This power has a bunch of little things going for it, which in combination make it a solid choice.

Hungry for the Kill (PrP):  The substantial pre-attack shift means that you can Wild Shape (shift) then move away after, protecting yourself.  Solid damage, and if you or the target is bloodied you can spend a healing surge, make a saving throw, or both!  The "bloodied" requirement isn't too restrictive, since that's when you'll be wanting to spend healing surges anyways.  A rare combination of mobility, damage, and survivability.  The only downside is there's no control... 

Scavenger's Prize (PHB2):  The damage on this attack is respectable, and you get to grab the target.  If you're a Predator, you can then shift your Dex mod squares, taking the target with you!  Excellent re-positioning power.  However, since the grab is really only a means to allow you to drag the enemy, if you're not a Predator this power is red.

Devouring Swarm (PrP):  The damage isn't bad, but like most Swarm AoE's it targets all creatures.  If you're a Swarm Druid, you get 10 + your Con mod THP so it's a good choice for off-tanks.

Inexorable Smash (PrP):  Nice attack if you're a Guardian, otherwise it's purple.  Dazed is a great status effect, and your Con mod should be high enough to give you a lot of options for the slide.  Still, at this level some multi-target control would be preferred.

Torrential Storm (PrP):  The blast + slide is ok, but the zone is what makes this power worthwhile.  If your party has other forced movement options, you can keep flinging the enemies back into the zone (assuming you slid them out with the initial slide).  On your next turn, if you've upgraded your Savage Rend to a slide 3 at this point, you can even deal the zone's autodamage twice.

Windstorm (PHB2):  An AoE that slides everyone 1 + Con mod squares, if you're a Guardian.  You can do a lot with that kind of forced movement.  If you're not a Guardian, the slide is only 2 so it's probably not worth picking up.

Lightning Cascade (PHB2):  You'd think shooting lightning bolts that arc onto another target would be better.  For example, if this power dazed it would be a solid power.  As it stands, slow isn't terribly useful except during the first round of combat, and by now you've probably already picked up better combat opener powers.

Shifting Rake (PHB2):  The damage isn't terrible, but the effect is pretty situational.  Preventing a target from shifting generally means that you want said target to stay put.  If nobody's adjacent to punish the enemy for using non-shift movement, then you've failed.  So you can either park yourself next to the enemy, in which case your "after" shift is wasted unless you flank, or you need a defender buddy.  But defenders are already good at being sticky.  So it's basically useful against artillery.  Swarm Druids won't even be interesting, because Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer has been doing the same thing since early Heroic (albeit without the mobility).  Weak for its level overall. 

Slashing Death (D389):  Similar to Hungry for the Kill, but you can only spend the healing surge if all 3 attacks hit.  If I'm hurting enough to want to spend a healing surge, I sure don't want it to hinge on hitting with 3 attack rolls.  Also requires 3 enemies to be positioned the correct distance from each other.  Bottom line: redundant with a better power.



Level 19 Daily

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Primal Lion (D382):  An enemies only close burst FIVE that targets Will, does solid damage, pushes one square, and dazes (save ends).  As King of Beasts you'll even inspire allies to gain 5 + Con mod THP.  And if that's not enough, every time you hit an adjacent enemy in beast form that enemy grants CA.  Excellent control with a dash of leader, and even for Predators it's probably the best choice at this level (you'll just hand out fewer THP). 

Summon Guardian Briar (PrP):  It instinctively attacks an enemy within 2 squares of it (and the damage isn't bad), otherwise it will move its speed so that it's within 2 squares of as many allies as possible.  Where there are allies, there are likely more enemies to attack.  Plus allies within 2 squares of it get a +2 bonus to AC.  The standard increase in DPR that good instinctive actions provide, combined with a solid defensive buff, make for an excellent choice.  Increase the number of rounds that the Guardian Briar is active by telling the Defender to stay nearby - summons count as allies, so attacks against the Briar can be punished.

Entangling Thorns (PHB2):  All told, while this is probably a better combat opener than Entangle (10 levels earlier), I'm not sure that it's a better power overall.  I guess the fact that on a miss you still immobilize for a turn is nice, but IMO this power should either a) create a zone, or b) target enemies only. 

Pummeling Hail (PrP):  Be very careful that you don't hit your friends with it (the fact that it has a range of 20 squares helps).  This sustainable zone qualifies for Wintertouched/Lasting Frost synergy, and best of all if you're in beast form (as a Swarm Druid) the zone doesn't affect you!  If you lock enemies down in the zone with you, you'll end up doing a ton of damage.  If you're not a Swarm Druid this isn't nearly as good, being bumped down to purple

Summon Swamp Behemoth (PrP):  This summon will trample all over the enemy forces.  It does a lot of damage in a given round, but it's also going to provoke a lot of OAs and go down fast.  Try to daze or stun enemies before the Behemoth goes to prevent the enemies from taking their OAs. 

Lunge and Vanish (PHB2):  Single target damage, and you get to shift after becoming invisible (which lasts until the end of your next turn).  Is this seriously a level 19 Daily?  Its only redeeming quality is that the damage is pretty good, and striker Predators will appreciate the defensive boon of being invisible. 

Primal Bear (PHB2):  Tsk, tsk, another grab that doesn't grant a penalty to escaping.  The Fortitude bonus helps, but if you're Con based your Reflex won't keep enemies grabbed very long, and if you're Dex based the +2 bonus probably won't help much.  The +2 AC for the rest of the encounter might be attractive to Swarm Druids, but there are much better options.

Swarming Bulwark (D389):  Turning your beast form into a living wall just oozes with Swarm Druid flavor, but unfortunately this power is mechanically beneath the power curve.  A sustain move is just mean, and the damage sucks because you don't add modifiers to it (unlike Wall of Thorns way back at level 5).  Perhaps that'll be fixed in the compiled issue, but even then the damage is similar to WoT.  You can grab targets that enter the wall...but as an immediate reaction.  Meaning once per round.  I guess that hive mind of yours isn't too good at multitasking.

Summon Thunder Bison (PrP):  About as vanilla as you can get with a summon.  The AC bonus will increase its survivability, but it won't be very effective at attacking enemies on its own.  It instinctively  attacks adjacent enemies or moves adjacent to an enemy, but enemies can simply walk away from it to avoid getting attacked by it at the end of your turn (remember that Druid summons don't get OAs).  You or an ally will have to lock an enemy down to help the Bison out.

Thorns of the Hinterlands (D386):  It's basically Wall of Thorns on steroids.  You get 2 walls, which can't be adjacent to each other (you can still make something walk through it twice).  Unfortunately, the movement penalty to walk through the walls is only half of what WoT's is!  So even if enemies are forced to pass through both walls, the net movement lost is the same as WoT.  Uhhh...that's all the improvement we get after 14 levels?  Sure, 2 walls means double the damage, but Druids should place control first, especially with Daily powers.

Tremors (PrP):  Creating earthquakes is cool, but this power won't be terribly useful because it attacks all creatures within the burst.  Knocking targets prone is fun when they're 1 square away and/or out of charging range, but this won't slow them down much unless your allies can hold a position just outside the zone.  Grasping Tide actually offers better action denial, because knocking a target prone is a secondary attack that interrupts their move action.  If Tremors functioned more like that, it would be good.  As is, you'll mostly just give your friends a lot of CA with it.  Not cutting it for a level 19 Daily.

Winter Hailstorm (PHB2):  Similar to Pummeling Hail.  Increasing the size of the zone sounds nice, but considering that it affects allies it might not be in your best interests to do so.  Slowing at this level is also pretty weak.

Form of the Night Owl (D389):  Too many conditionals with this power.  It ends when you use Wild Shape again, and the fly speed is lame because you have to land at the end of the movement.  The damage on the attack sucks, and a single target slow is just pathetic for a Daily of this level.  The HP you hand out is also pretty piddly.




Epic Tier Powers


STATUS:  Complete.

Level 22 Utility

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Sky Talon (PHB2):  You gain a flight speed with hover while you're in beast form.  This power is great because you can actually attack while flying (you just can't use Daily powers)! 

Protective Whirlwind (PrP):  Solid debuff against area and ranged attacks, and the fact that the zone is difficult terrain is useful against melee types as well.  Plus you can slide creatures in the zone around like crazy, as a free action.  This means getting your allies into advantageous positions, and screwing your enemies over.

Stonebones (PrP):  If you're anything like me, you tend to choose encounter utility powers over dailies.  Unfortunately, this is the only encounter utility at this level, but Resist 15 All for a turn is pretty universally useful.  Plus you get to save against forced movement.

Primal Beast Apotheosis (D389):  You know, if this power's effect didn't end the next time you used Wild Shape, this would be hands down sky blue.  As it is, the flight portion can be better covered by picking up Sky Talon.  Effectively getting Brutal 2 might be nice for striker types, and if they tend to stay in beast form most of the time anyways then this power might be blue for them.  Ignoring difficult terrain is almost always going to be inferior to gaining a flight speed.  The highlight of this power (and the best choice of the 4 different benefits) is probably the "aura" 2 defense de-buff.  Grab a flanking buddy so you can both enjoy an effective +4 to-hit!  Again, if you tend to stay in beast form most of the time anyways, this power is better, but as a rule I'm not a fan of the restriction.

Tortoise Shell (PrP):  Not a bad defensive power, and the fact that you can use it as an interrupt on yourself is icing on the cake.  If the defense bonus didn't get cut in half when you move and/or if it didn't have to be sustained this would easily be a blue, or even sky blue, power.  Alas.

Tree of Life (PrP):  Conjure up an encounter long cover object that grants you and your allies regen 5 while you're within 2 squares of the tree.  Not bad, but 2 squares isn't very far, and the fact that the tree can't be moved would make me nervous. 

Fey Circles (PrP):  Wow, this would be a nice power if the circles didn't disappear when used.  Especially since BOTH the starting circle and destination disappear when used.  Four teleports for an encounter isn't spectacular, especially since the circle locations are pre-set and battle conditions might change, making the destinations unfavorable.

Phantom Beast (PHB2):  Well, as far as I can tell the insubstantial doesn't do much unless you plan on provoking OAs during your turn, as you lose the effects of this power at the end of your turn (not the end of your next turn).  Phasing by itself on your turn isn't useful enough to justify taking this is a utility power at this level.

Unseen Beast (PHB2):  This isn't all that great for its level.  The invisibility lasts until the end of your current turn, so you're essentially just gaining CA for the turns that you used Wild Shape to assume Beast Form.  And if you need to move past some enemies, you won't provoke OAs.  The CA is nice, but Druids have access to better powers for mobility a lot earlier than this.

Unyielding Roots (PHB2):  Wow, this does the same thing as Roots of Rescue, a sub-par 10th level utility, but to multiple allies at once.  Oh, and you can sustain the effect as a minor action, essentially giving you immunity to forced movement for an encounter.  Situational.


Level 23 Encounter

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Grasping Earth (PHB2):  An area burst 2 immobilize vs Will is a nice deal.  If you're a Predator, you also gain a bonus to attack rolls against the target(s) equal to your Dex mod.  This power is still blue for the other Druid builds.

Fungal Eruption (D386):  This is an interesting power because it's simultaneously defensive and offensive.  The de-buff to all defenses will help you and your friends hit the targets, and the fact that they're weakened obviously makes them less dangerous to you (unless they have nasty status effects).  Oddly enough, this is an encounter power with a "save ends" effect (if that gets errata'd out, demote this power to black).  Plus, the burst creates a zone that slows for icing on the cake. 

Primal Roar (PHB2):  An enemies only close blast 5 vs. Will that qualifies for Psychic Lock (only worthwhile if you already have Call of the Beast), and is a beast form attack.  Prone is a nice condition, and by this point you and your party should be good at positioning yourselves to make the most of it.  Deafened, however, is largely useless. 

Blinding Swarm (PrP):  The blast is pretty small for a power of this level, but it does target Will.  Blind is also a pretty good status effect, and if you're a Swarm Druid you get to shift anywhere in or adjacent to the blast. 

Fearsome Fangs (PrP):  Here's another forced movement Guardian power, essentially a super souped up Savage Rend.  Your Wis mod squares is a good distance for a slide, and there are also some leader elements to this power (before the attack allies adjacent to the target get to shift 1 square, and after the forced movement the target grants CA). 


Rain of Fire Needles (PrP):  An area denial power that's probably difficult to use in practice (I haven't used this power in-game, so I don't know for sure).  Basically, it's a soft control area burst 2 that encourages enemies to leave the zone.  If it were enemies only, it would be fairly simple to create lose/lose situations with this - fire it off into a melee cluster and the enemies can either leave (provoking OAs from your allies and possibly opting not to attack them) or take damage.  Since it's actually an "all creatures" attack, you're not going to want allies in the burst.  This leaves 2 scenarios where this power can be useful: 1) your allies fall back right before you set this off, so enemies either provoke OAs as they run past allies leaving the zone, or they take a longer route out that may limit which allies they can target, or 2) fire this off on a cluster of enemies that's already immobilized, restrained, etc.  This way you're basically just guaranteeing a lot of area damage.

Razor Snare (PrP):  Respectable area (burst 2) that targets only enemies.  This is the opposite of Rain of Fire Needles, as it encourages enemies to stay put.  Essentially, it's the soft control version of an immobilize or restrain.  The fact that you have access to Grasping Earth (hard control, actual immobilize) this level makes Razor Snare an unlikely choice, especially since the punishment for moving isn't that much damage.  One thing that this power does have going for it is that it's enemies only, which keeps it from being purple.  Also, if you're a Predator all of the targets grant CA - a smaller buff useable by the whole party, as opposed to the significant attack buff of Grasping Earth that only you can utilize.

Stormburst (PHB2):  Epic level encounter powers should be doing more than just slow.  If you want to hinder enemy movement, just take Grasping Earth since the affected area is the same and immobilize is better than slow.  The only thing that this power has going for it is that any creature that enters or starts its turn in the area takes 5 lightning damage.  Of course Torrential Storm (level 17) has a similar zone effect, but that one deals 10 lightning damage.

Strength of the Hunt (PHB2):  Similar to Hungry for the Kill (level 17) in that it's a beast form attack that lets you spend a healing surge.  Whereas the former comes with some mobility, this power allows an ally within 5 squares of you to spend a healing surge as well (if you're a Guardian).  A worthwhile (black) pick up if you're playing leader on the side, but the lack of control hurts.  Note that at some point in early Epic you should pick up the Wild Surge feat, as well as Vital Form.  This combination lets you use your second wind as a free action when you wild shape twice per encounter.  Unless your party lacks a leader, I don't see the point in being able to spend 3 surges for yourself every encounter (besides, the second winds are better because they give you a defense bonus).


Level 25 Daily

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Primal Storm (PHB2):  Holy smokes!  An area burst FOUR attack is incredible for a Druid, and the fact that it only targets enemies only sweetens the deal!  This power deals respectable damage on a hit, and knocks the target prone.  The zone (which is sustainable) allows for a secondary attack - an opportunity action that goes off when a prone enemy stands up.  On a hit, the prone enemy cannot stand up.  Furthermore, the OA can be used against any prone enemy in the zone, not just one that that was knocked prone specifically by this power (polearm Druids, take note).  If you can prone enemies at-will (Savage Rend for polearm Druids, Grasping Tide and some Summons for everyone else), then you can potentially lock down every enemy in this huge zone for the entire encounter (provided you roll well on your zone OAs).  If you can use forced movement to clump enemies together, spam Grasping Tide to your heart's content.

Writhing Henge (D386):  Whoa, something to actually compete with Primal Storm!  You summon 6 (!!!) tendrils, each of which makes an attack instinctively (with reach!) or slides an ally.  As a standard (or minor, with Primal Summoning Expertise) action you can command all 6 of the tendrils to attack.  Simply put, the damage output of this power is apocalyptic.  Oh, there's also ongoing 5 and a slide on top of that.  Plus, each of the tendrils has its own HP pool (equal to half your HP), but you only lose a healing surge if all 6 go down.  Talk about damage mitigation!  Its only downside is that the tendrils are immobile, but with 6 on the field (and given their reach, and ability to slide) that's not much of a drawback. 

Avian Cloud (PrP):  Enemies only area that is guaranteed to blind (save ends on a hit, until the end of your next turn on a miss).  The burst also creates a zone that doesn't need to be sustained - creatures outside of the zone have total concealment from creatures within it (the attack penalty for this is equivalent to being blind, -5).  Additionally, enemies that start their turn within it take damage.  The zone works best when you can keep enemies in it; if you can't do this through hard control (immobilize, restrain), then you and your allies can park yourselves on the outside edge after you've shoved some enemies back in.  If they try to break out, they'll draw OAs, and if they attack you from within the zone they suffer the attack penalty (which, if you're adjacent to them, is lowered to -2, as per rules on concealment).  Note that you're not penalized for attacking creatures inside the zone though, so blast away with Grasping Tide.

Creeping Doom (PrP):  This is a great offensive power for Swarm Druids, but be VERY careful that your friends know that its area is strictly off-limits.  The initial attack is a close burst 1, but targets creatures within it or adjacent to it, dealing some damage and dazing them.  The daze isn't save ends, but as a standard action you can repeat the attack, potentially allowing you to spam a close burst daze all encounter long!  It does need to be sustained, but each time you do so you can opt to increase the zone's size by 1 to a maximum of 5.  Since the standard action targets creatures adjacent to the zone as well, it's effectively a close burst 6.  But you probably won't want to take it that far, because once again, it targets allies too.  Definitely make sure that you discuss the tactics of this power with your party, and don't forget that allies can move through the zone safely, provided they don't start their turn there.

Fey Lure (PHB2):  Druids don't typically get area burst 3 attacks, so this provides some huge coverage for them.  It's a good thing that it only targets enemies (also note that it targets Will, making it accurate more often than not).  It creates a sustainable zone which, at the end of your turn, allows you to slide each enemy within it 3 squares.  With such a constant source of forced movement, hopefully you can put it to good use; stacking another zone inside of this one works especially well, though even the fine control that you have on enemy positioning is probably worth it. 

Primal Tiger (PHB2):  The initial attack isn't too shabby, but the real meat of this power lies in its effect: it's an improved version of Polearm Gamble for the rest of the encounter (while in beast form).  Make an OA against enemies that enter a square adjacent to you.  For Polearm Druids this is sky blue since that OA can be used to slide the enemy and then knock them prone.  Just make sure you don't try to pull this trick on enemies with reach.

Primal Ape (PrP):  Close burst 1 attack that deals decent damage and pushes everyone out of your way (3 squares on a hit, 2 on a miss).  You also become large until you leave your current beast form, and this grants you several different buffs that generally make you more effective at melee combat.  More control would be nice.

Primal Panther (D382):  Another mostly damage power, but the effect makes it a solid choice if you can reliably get CA (not a problem after the first attack, since you have CA while invisible).  You can make yourself invisible until the end of your next turn, at which point you'll hit the target again with CA and continue to stay invisible.  You won't have to worry about OAs, and attacks against you will be at a -5 penalty.  Nice defensive and offensive buff, but unfortunately there's no control.

Summon Proud Mastodon (PrP):  A summon with reach that prones on a hit?  Nice!  Of course this won't stop large (or larger) enemies from hitting it, and the Mastodon gets a +4 attack bonus against such creatures.  Still, prone eats a move action.  The biggest downside of the Mastodon is that it charges the nearest unbloodied enemy instinctively, meaning that it will probably suffer a fair amount of OAs.  If it can't do that though, it attacks an enemy within 2 squares, actually utilizing its reach (unlike the Proud Bear at level 9).  Make sure to throw a lot of dazes around to protect this guy from OAs, especially since daze + prone = one frustrated enemy (and DM!). 

Ferocious Maul (PHB2):  You can seriously debilitate a single enemy with this power.  Daze + Prone is a nasty combination, as your first order of business is probably going to be standing up with your one move action.  Also note that each condition has a separate saving throw.  Still though, an elite or solo will probably save on all conditions within a round or two, and even though the damage is an effect, it's not much for a single target Daily attack at this level.  Being able to target 1 or 2 creatures with this would have brought it up to par, IMO.

Summon Razorclaw Behemoth (PrP):  An unexciting summon with a melee range of only 1.  The attack deals ongoing damage, and it instinctively charges the nearest enemy taking ongoing damage (otherwise it will attack an adjacent enemy, or move up to an enemy).  It might draw OAs from charging, and besides which ongoing damage doesn't stack.  Charging the nearest enemy that's not taking ongoing damage would be more productive, IMO. 


Level 27 Encounter

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This is an excellent level for Druids - each of the 3 main builds get a potent option!

Disorienting Drone (PrP):  Top choice for Swarm Druids at this level.  Enemies only close burst 2 (3 if you're a Swarm Druid!) daze that targets Will.  And it packs some nice damage on top of that!  It's rare for Swarm Druids to have such a potent option that doesn't endanger their friends.

Leaping Rake (PHB2):  Top choice for Predators at this level, and this is one of my favorite powers in the game.  Predators shift a number of squares equal to 1 + their Dex mod, attacking each enemy within reach during the shift and DAZING THEM!!!!  It's party friendly, can hit a TON of enemies that aren't necessarily grouped to be hit by an AoE, and offers significant mobility.  Unfortunately, if you're not a Predator the shift is only 3 squares, making this black for them (can still hit a good amount of enemies, but they have to be clumped).

Thunder Claw (PrP):  The Guardian go-to power for this level.  Any Druid can appreciate a single target stun as an encounter power, but Guardians even get a slide equal to their Con mod out of this! 

Howling Doom (PrP):  A close blast 5 that targets Will, and has both the Fear and Psychic keywords (take note Call of the Beast users who grabbed Psychic Lock).  The immobilize is solid, and granting CA is a nice little bonus.  Polar Blast has more damage potential, but this increases your allies' chances of hitting, and doesn't require you to be a Guardian.

Polar Blast (PHB2):  Close blast 5 immoblize, and if you're a Guardian you can set up a nova round (targets gain Vulnerability All equal to your Con mod).  If you're not a Guardian, this is black.

Behemoth Stampede (PrP):  Too bad it hits all creatures in the blast.  Still, the combination of push 5 + prone makes this a solid choice, especially if you have some zones on the field to exploit.

Explosive Wind (PHB2):  If you like forced movement, this power delivers.  Five squares is enough distance to usually be pretty useful.  The damage isn't bad for an area burst 2, either.

Death Fangs (PrP):  On the one hand, this is a pure damage power that doesn't offer any mobility.  On the other hand, it sure is a lot of damage (especially if you're a Predator).  This is actually one power that focused striker builds (that are already satisfied with the amount of control in their arsenal) might want to pick up. 


Feral Whirlwind (PHB2):  You can't get much more vanilla than this.  Enemies only close burst 1 with absolutely no control.  Even for a pure damage attack, this one's pretty sad.



Level 29 Daily

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Summon Elder Pack Wolf (PrP):  A great capstone summoning power.  Its attack knocks the target prone, and it has an OA which is triggered when a prone enemy tries to stand up.  The OA does the same amount of damage as the original attack, and causes the target to be unable to stand up until the start of its next turn.  Great at keeping a troublesome foe down!  Not surprisingly, it instinctively attacks an adjacent prone creature, then an adjacent creature, and as a last resort it will move adjacent to an enemy.  Low maintenance, high damage, and high control.  What more could you ask for in a summon? 

Blinding Blizzard (PHB2):   Sigh.  After Primal Storm at level 25, nothing seems that amazing at this level.  This is one of the better powers of the bunch, though.  It's not party friendly, but the burst 2 blinds (save ends), which is always appreciated.  Unfortunately, no blinding on a miss.  The zone does let you make an OA though, triggered by anyone starting in or entering it, which restrains.  Can be sustained.

Earth Maw (PrP):  Restrained (save ends) is a nice condition, and when you sustain it you can repeat the attack as a minor action.  As a conjuration instead of a summon, the Maw can't be killed.  However, unlike a summon it can't attack instinctively (minor action is good enough, though), needs to be sustained (and so will end if you're stunned), and can't act as an HP sink.  Still, it's a strong option, especially if you haven't put any resources into summoning.

Gaze of the Beast (PHB2):  Who doesn't like taking control of their enemy's actions?  Dominating is strong because it not only eliminates an action that would be used against the party, but it gives the party an extra action to use.  Dominate enemies with the most impressive attacks, especially if they look dull-witted (this targets Will, so spellcasters are a bad target).  The daze (even if it's save ends) on a miss is a bit of a let-down, but only because this is single target (a stun would have been nice, or even a dominate until the end of your next turn). 

Primal Archetype (PHB2):  Targets 1 or 2 creatures, which is good because as a single target power this would not be as exciting.  On a hit you stun (save ends), and on a miss you still stun the enemy for a turn.  For the rest of the encounter your beast form is also improved, with a solid speed bonus, an attack bonus against bloodied enemies, and the ability to shift 2 squares as a move action.  Certainly useful, but considering it's a level 29 Daily I'd expect a bit more.  Oh well, at least the power stuns.

Hunter's Heart (PrP):  At this level, single target powers aren't your best choices.  That said, this immobilizes vs Will with an aftereffect that does good damage, and you get a solid encounter long offensive buff while you're in beast form as well.  Strikers may want to consider this.

Summon Storm Behemoth (PrP):  Alright, so by this point you should definitely have a way to control your summons so that dangerous instinctive actions aren't really a problem anymore.  This Behemoth tries to catch as many creatures in its area attack (a burst 2!) as it can, so try to make sure it doesn't come to that.  Fortunately, before it does that it will gladly use its melee attack against an adjacent enemy, but really what makes this summon attractive is when you take control of it yourself.  You essentially get an AoE turret that you can use to decimate the enemy ranks (as a minor action, given the right feat and/or power). 

Whirling Firestorm (PrP):  This power has a surprising "blaster Wizard," or Sorcerer feel to it.  Engulf everything within a close burst 2 in a fiery conflagration, dealing respectable damage (and ongoing 10 on top of that).  It then creates a zone that damages creatures that start their turn there, and when you sustain it you can either increase the size of the zone by 1, or decrease it and make a free ranged attack.  As long as your allies don't start their turn in the zone they're fine, so this isn't as dangerous as it sounds (don't hit them with the initial attack, though!).  With this and a summon on the field, you get the free ranged attack when you sustain, the summon's instinctive action, and your standard action.  That's impressive DPR potential!

Lifeleach Thorns (PHB2):  Meh, the concept is cool but the execution is pretty weak.  It can hurt your friends, and while a target takes ongoing 10 damage, is immobilized, and is weakened if it's hit, a single saving throw can end it all.  The HP that you gain for each target hit is either downright laughable (for Predators), or simply just paltry for this level (HP regained equal to your Con mod).  Sure, it'll add up if you hit a lot of targets, but a burst 2 at this level isn't that big (besides, on a miss the damage is a tickle and the only effect is weakened, save ends).




Multiclassing, Paragon Paths, and Epic Destinies

Multiclassing


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Assassin - Acolyte of the Veil is a solid MC feat (Druids might find Stealth tempting, and a 1/enc teleport fills a gap in the Druid's mobility, as they don't get many teleports).  It also opens up Venom Hand Master, which is useful if you have a lot of poison attacks, the Coiled Serpent PP, and/or a Staff of the Serpent.  Sky blue for such poison-centric builds.


Avenger - Everyone likes to poach their class feature, and you actually have some stat synergy.


Cleric - You share an attack stat, but not an implement.  You can still pick up some utilities though.


Fighter - Battle Awareness is an excellent MC feat in its own right, but this also gives Druids access to Polearm Momentum which, thanks to the Alfsair Spear, they can use with Savage Rend.  Con Druids may also want to pick up Wary Fighter (use Wis instead of Dex for Initiative), but only if the overall bonus is greater than that provided by Improved Initiative.


Invoker - You share an attack stat (Wis), one of two secondaries (Con), and an implement (staff).  Diversify your controller repertoire.


Monk - MC feat has yet to be released, but the Centered Breath Monk has perfect stat synergy with the Predator Druid, and if you're a Githzerai then Zuoken's Centering allows you to use Wis instead of Con for surges/HP (though it's a Paragon feat, so you'll have to wait for it).


Ranger - A good alternative to skill training, since you'll get some conditional bonus damage to boost your striking prowess.


Rogue - Predators might want to look into this, but given the Rogue's very specific weapon requirements I wouldn't try to poach any powers off of them.


Shaman - Amazing stat synergy (both are Wis primary, and have Con as a possible secondary stat) and you share an implement (totems).  Mending Spirit is a superb MC feat, granting you a 1/enc use of Healing Spirits and significantly boosting your capabilities as a secondary leader.  Especially attractive option for Guardians.


Paragon Paths


Class Paragon Paths


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Blightbeast (D373):  Predators won't get as much out of this PP, because it has both features and powers that key off of Con.  You gain necrotic resistance while in beast form, and your beast form attacks also deal extra necrotic damage equal to your Con (making this a fine striker-focused PP for Guardian and Swarm Druids).  When you spend an AP, adjacent enemies can choose to get out of the way or take ongoing damage equal to your Con mod.  At 16th level you can ignore necrotic resistance in beast form, and enemies without necrotic resistance gain necrotic vulnerability (5) when you hit them (in beast form).  Yep, this PP definitely has impressive damage potential.  These damage boosts notably apply to all beast form attacks, not just melee attacks, so Swarm Druids rejoice in the devastation that your AoEs will sow!  The encounter power isn't anything special, it's essentially a necrotic version of Savage Rend with a daze effect.  The utility is a great mobility boost though, as you can move your speed + Con while in beast form, and you take half damage from any melee attacks (OAs) that damage you during this movement.  Combined with the Primal Swarm class feature, expect to be mostly unphased.  The Daily is a bland single target slide that deals ongoing damage, and enemies that start their turn adjacent to you take 5 necrotic damage.  Fortunately the rest of the path is so good.


Primal Summoner (PrP):  Usually a better choice for a summoner than Pack Lord.  The features are all great: your summons get an attack bonus to their instinctive actions and regain HP when they use them (less useful in Epic if you pick up Primal Summoning Expertise), and when you use an AP you can give a standard action command to a summon as a free action (Pack Lord's feature was similar, but only let you give a minor action command).  At 16th level whenever you take a move action, your summon can also move its speed (best part: it doesn't say "you command your summon to move its speed," it just moves.  Thus, they can still use their instinctive action after moving!).  The encounter power is only ok, granting your summons a damage bonus against the target.  The Utility is a stance (rare for a Druid) which gives your summoned creatures an attack and damage buff with all attacks except instinctive actions.  Very limited use in Paragon, but once you get Primal Summoning Expertise it becomes useful.  Not surprisingly, you get a summon power at level 20, but it's kind of an odd (though effective) one.  It switches forms constantly, even bouncing back and forth between medium and large size.  Its attacks have a built in shift though, so only on rare occasions will this summon not deal damage instinctively (it's also party friendly).


Coiled Serpent (PrP):  This PP is a strong choice, especially for striker-focused Druids.  The poison resist and stealth bonus may or may not be useful, but dealing ongoing damage with a successful AP attack is excellent, especially if you target multiple enemies (they all take the damage).  At 16th level, you get a significant damage boost (2D6 additional poison damage to all melee attacks in beast form).  The encounter power is a great grab attack, provided you're ok with it turning into a normal grab after 1 turn (and therefore not worth sustaining).  Instead of an escape penalty, it grants a direct +5 bonus to all defenses, which also aids in survivablity (plus attacks that miss you automatically hit the target).  The utility is an encounter power with a 3 square shift + concealment (nice!), and the Daily is an impressive enemies only area burst 2 that targets Will.  Your modifier (and static bonuses) aren't added to the damage, but dazed is a solid condition (on a miss you still daze for a turn), and the target takes damage for attacking if hit.


Keeper of the Hidden Flame (PHB2):  The 11th level features are useful to any Druid: re-roll a missed attack when you AP and get +1 to attack against your nearest enemy with close, ranged, and area attacks.  If you have an ally that likes to charge, the 16th level ability is a nice mobility buff.  The 11th level encounter power offers excellent single target control: vs Will attack that pulls the target, knocks it prone, and dazes it for a turn.  The utility is an encounter power that buffs your party's attack and damage in a close burst 5.  The Daily is an odd power reminiscent of Call of the Beast, though it's single target.  Probably the weakest feature of this PP (assuming you have a charge-happy ally).  Overall, everything about this PP is fairly solid, though it lacks anything that really stands out as amazing.


Luminescent Swarm (PrP):  The stronger of the two Swarm Druid PPs.  You have an Aura 5 that grants allies a +2 bonus to saving throws (and sheds bright light), and you deal bonus radiant damage when you use an AP.  Starting at level 16, when you use Wild Shape to enter humanoid form, you can choose an adjacent enemy to get a -2 penalty to attacks against you.  The features might not be amazing, but they're all moderately useful.  The encounter power is a vs. Will blast that offers dazing, sliding, and lets you shift 1 square for each target you hit.  Awesome!  The utility is situational (a sustainable Daily that says "no more concealment for you!" in a close burst 2), but the Daily is gold:  enemies only close burst 3 that attacks all 3 defenses (one attack roll for each target); hitting Fort deals ongoing radiant damage, hitting Reflex lets you slide the target 5 squares, and hitting Will blinds the target (save ends).  Whoa!  The damage applies if you hit any defense.


Pack Lord (PrP):  This PP has solid features, including +1 to attack and all defenses when you have a summoned creature out, giving a minor action command to a summon as a free action when you AP (note that you forego the summon's Instinctive Action if you do this, but between Animal Clan, Full Pack, and Primal Summoning Expertise it's not a huge deal), and at 16th level your bloodied summons gain regeneration.  The encounter power is a single target attack that lets you tell a summon to use a standard action attack; if you don't have a summon out it might even work on one of your allies intead!  The utility is pretty much a carbon copy of Animal Clan (10th level utility), but it allows you to use any standard action attack instead of just the instinctive action.  Note that once you hit epic, taking Primal Summoning Expertise makes this utility useless.  At 20th level, you can choose a 19th level Druid summoning power (the Guardian Briar and the Swamp Behemoth are the better choices).  If you plan on spending a lot of time in Epic (with Primal Summoning Expertise), this path becomes a better choice than Primal Summoner, as PS's 11th level feature works with Instinctive Actions, which your summons won't be using if you're giving them standard action commands as minor actions.


Blood Moon Stalker (PHB2):  Not a bad choice for striker-focused Druids, and for builds with a strong focus on DPR this PP is blue.  The attack powers are pretty sub-par (they offer no control), but the features are nice: free MBA when you use an AP, free action second wind when you kill something (pick up Vital Form even if you're not a Dwarf!), and at 16th level you can crit on a 19-20 in beast form.  Thanks to the utility power (and the MBA with an AP), this PP provides impressive nova potential for Druids, which is usually their biggest weakness as secondary strikers.


Guardian of the Living Gate (PHB2):  The 11th level feature makes your AoE's more accurate (conditionally), you can grant a save with an AP, and at 16th level you grant a save when you fail one.  The utility also grants allies a save bonus against attacks from a certain enemy.  Overall, this PP has a strong leader slant to it.  The encounter power is a moderate self-buff, and the Daily offers single target damage with a little control.


Primal Mapper (D382):  This PP is all about mobility, which is one of the Druid's strengths.  The 11th level features allow you to move your speed or shift half your speed when you AP or use your Second Wind (hint: Vital Form (P feat), Wild Surge (E feat), Dwarf, and some items and powers (see Shaman's Hearth Spirits) are great second wind enablers).  At 16, you ignore difficult terrain completely, which is pretty gravy for a mobile melee controller.  The encounter power gives you some meh soft control, but it also provides extra damage to an at-will attack, and Druids have great at-wills that they tend to use frequently.  Plus as far as I can tell the extra damage would apply to all targets of an AoE.  In my opinion, this is the best part of the PP as far as a Druid is concerned.  The Utility power is nice, especially since it makes the slow condition a whole lot more useful.  The Daily is pretty underwhelming from a controller's perspective, but if you're struggling with concealment it certainly has its uses.


Sky Hunter (PHB2):  Flight speed before an AP is nice, but an attack bonus against flying creatures is very situational, and Perception bonus after a beast form Daily (at 16th level) is underwhelming.  The utility is basically Black Harbinger.  The encounter power is an excellent single target attack though: fly twice your speed without provoking an OA from the target, and on a hit the target is blinded.  Blinding stuff is always gravy, but it's the mobility that really makes this power useful.  The Daily grants you a "single move fly speed" (you have to land after your move action) for the encounter while in beast form, and a single use attack that packs a nasty punch: enemies only close burst 5 that deals respectable damage and slows (save ends), or for a turn (on a miss).  Poor features + good attacks average out to an average overall PP.  Also, this would have been a perfect opportunity to give Druids at-will flight, so I'm a little bitter that the PP doesn't offer this.


Spiral Wind's Ally (PrP):  If you're trying to play secondary leader, this is probably your best option.  For most Druids, the minor healing support isn't enough to sacrifice the features/powers of one of the other PPs.  I'm not a fan of the fact that both level 11 features are restricted to humanoid form, though, especially since you're not in control of when allies spend healing surges, and it's not something that happens every round.  That said, bonus healing whenever an ally spends a surge is nice support, and allowing an ally to spend a healing surge whenever you use an AP is solid.  The 16th level feature lets you shift 2 squares as a free action when you spend a healing surge, which is nice because you'll often spend them as a result of a leader's healing power, when it's not your turn.  The encounter power is a decent enemies only blast with some surgeless healing for allies adjacent to the target(s).  The utility power is an encounter power, but it's dependent on your allies' use of second wind; with few exceptions (Dwarves being the most straightforward), PCs typically only use second winds as a very last resort.  The Daily is nice because it's enemies only, and because you get to choose one of three damage types, with each one causing a different effect (yay versatility!).  Unfortunately, the effects aren't amazing: either all targets slowed (weak for this level), all allies in blast get surge free healing (by far the strongest option), and one enemy in blast dazed (why can't you daze everyone?  It's a Daily!!!). 


Whirling Samara (PrP):  I love the flavor of the mixed swarm that this PP touts (a swirling mass of birds, insects, leaves, and seeds), but at the end of the day you can apply that flavor to any Swarm Druid right out of the box.  You gain immunity to ranged and melee forced movement attacks while in beast form (can we say situational?) and you get to make up to 2 attack re-rolls before the end of your next turn when you use an AP.  There's a catch though - exercising the re-roll option will deal damage to you.  The level 16 feature is a bit better, giving you a fly speed for a turn when you wild shape into beast form.  The encounter power has a hint of leader, as it grants THP to an ally within 2 squares of you when you hit (notice that you can attack 1 or 2 creatures, so you can give 2 allies THP).  Still, the THP is only equal to your Wis mod.  The encounter utility is excellent: when you wild shape into beast form you become insubstantial until the end of your next turn and you can move through enemy spaces.  Nice!  And finally, the last element granted to you by this PP is actually probably the best.  The Daily power is an enemies only blast 5 that blinds (save ends), in addition to dealing respectable damage.  The effect grants you some buffs while in beast form, including the ability to shift 2 squares as a minor action and blinding (save ends) anyone you score a critical hit against (the zone from Entangle provides some nice synergy here). 


Storm Speaker (PrP):  This PP wouldn't be that bad if you had more lightning and/or thunder powers.  Moreover, limiting yourself to the small number of the ones that you do have would probably result in a sub-par assortment of powers (you don't have many lighting/thunder powers that are particularly good).  Two of the features only come into play if you use lightning/thunder powers (so not often for most well-constructed builds), though the free action flight when you use an AP is nice (and having lightning/thunder resistance is likely to come up at some point during your career).  The encounter power is a bit bland, though it can be used to set up a better attack.  The utility isn't bad - a defensive buff for the rest of the encounter and the ability to slide enemies that end their turn adjacent to you.  The initial attack of the Daily is a flexible multitarget power (1, 2, or 3 enemies in a close burst 3), but at the end of the day this power is all about damage, without a control component.  Meh.




Epic Destinies


Coming soon!




Items



STATUS: Complete, but feel free to make additional suggestions!

Format:  Items are listed with the name first, and in parentheses the item level(s) and the source are indicated.  Armor, Implements, and Neck Slot item levels are followed by a "+" because they scale appropriately, giving an additional +1 enhancement bonus at regular intervals after the minimum level (up to +6). 

Implements
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Choosing your Implement Type:

Druids can use Staffs and Totems as implements.  Additionally, there is one weapon (the Alfsair Spear) that is useable as an implement for anyone who can use Totems.  Seeing as you'll almost certainly be taking Implement/Focused Expertise at some point, there is a strong incentive to stick with the same type of implement throughout your career.  This doesn't necessarily mean sticking with the same enchantment, but if you've been using an Earthfall Totem and you suddenly decide that you want a Staff of Ruin instead, you'll have to wait until you level to re-train your Expertise feat. 

Spear:  Since there's only one enchantment (Alfsair Spear) available, you give up the diversity of choosing different enchantments with different powers/properties.  Aside from being useable as an implement, the Alfsair Spear itself has a mediocre Daily power and doesn't have any flashy properties.  In a vacuum, it would be rated low.  Despite these disadvantages, the Alfsair Spear does have one important thing going for it, and it's the selling point of the item: it opens up Polearm Momentum (which you'll need a Fighter MC to take) for Druids.  Since Savage Rend is fairly easily upgraded to a slide 2 by mid-Heroic, this gives you an at-will prone attack.  Plus, since the spear is a weapon useable as an implement, the damage bonus from weapon focus applies to even implement attacks cast through it.  Also, it's compatible with the Siberys Shard of the Mage (and other Dragonshards), which are only useable with weapons but apply to implement powers.

Staff:  If you're not making a Polearm Druid, this is probably going to be your best choice.  Like the spear, the Staff implement also counts as a weapon (Quarterstaff), so weapon focus and dragonshards are fair game for boosting your damage.  Staffs also tend to have more/better choices (including the ubiquitous Staff of Ruin) compared with Totems. 

Totem:  A viable choice, but generally inferior to staffs.  If you're really set on one of the specific totem properties and/or powers, feel free to take it.  Also, if you are a Shaman MC/Hybrid, you'll want to use a Totem since it's the only implement that the two classes have in common.  It's not that there aren't any good Totems out there.  Totems just don't double as weapons, and so can't benefit from Weapon Focus and/or Dragonshards.  If you don't have room for a feat like Weapon Focus, or you can't afford a Dragonshard, then you won't lose out with Totems compared to weapons-as-implements.  But the ugly truth, for now, is that not all implements are created equal.  Prior to the existence of Dragonshards, a simple feat called "Implement Focus" would have fixed the disparity (and I still hope that such a feat is created soon).  Until that day, Totems will be chosen only if there's a specific reason to do so, with Staffs being the default choice.

Weapon Enchantments:  According to the March Errata, weapon enchantments are legitimate for weapons-as-implements.  A Frost or Lightning Quarterstaff are good choices if you want to exploit Frostcheese or Mark of Storm, respectively.  A Cunning Quarterstaff gives you a reliable source of save penalties, which could be very useful if you tend to stay away from Summons for your Daily slots.  Chargers might consider a Vanguard Quarterstaff, but generally a Staff of Ruin will be a better choice since a controller shouldn't lock him/herself into charging as much as a Barbarian could.

Superior Implements:

Accurate Staff (PHB3):  Who wouldn't want an extra +1 to-hit?

Accurate Totem (PHB3): 
Who wouldn't want an extra +1 to-hit?

Farseeing Totem (PHB3):  The Deadly property is the selling point, but only if you're locked into Totems for some reason (Shaman MC).  Normally if you want DPR, you use a Staff.

Quickbeam Staff (PHB3):  Forceful is great for a class that has a lot of forced movement, plus it doesn't hurt that Savage Rend is a staple attack for many Druids.  Energized (thunder) might see use for some builds.

Guardian Staff (PHB3):  Energized (forceful) is pretty much useless, but given the lack of static AC boosting options for Druids, the Shielding property is a worthwhile method of boosting your defenses.

Icicle Totem (PHB3):  Thanks to the Empowered Crit property, combine this with a Razor Talon Totem for some crit-fishing fun.  Energized (cold) isn't terrible either, but most Druids that focus on cold will pick up a Frost Quarterstaff for consistent frostcheesing.

Storm Totem (PHB3):  It's unlikely that you'll have enough Thunder powers to make this worthwhile.  If you find yourself with a lot of vs Fort powers, the Unstoppable property will help (but why not go with an Accurate implement?)

Mindwarp Staff (PHB3):  Doesn't really apply much to Druids.

Implement Enchantments:

Alfsair Spear (3+ AV2):  Technically this is a weapon, but it's one that can specifically be used as an implement by anyone that can also use Totems.  By itself it's actually not the best choice, though a Daily power that dazes on a critical hit certainly has its uses.  It only becomes sky blue when combined with a Fighter M/C (you'll get the best deal out of Battle Awareness), Polearm Momentum, Savage Rend, and Rushing Cleats or Fierce Thrasher Form (to make Savage Rend a slide 2).  With this combo, you can knock an enemy prone after sliding them 2 squares, which you can do at-will.  Well worth the investment.

Aversion Staff (2+ PHB3):  This is an excellent controller implement, and it's doubly useful for Druids since they're in melee so often (and have gotten screwed out of various ways to boost AC).  Any power that inflicts a status effect now essentially buffs your defenses as well (at least against attacks from affected enemies).  This makes sitting on top of enemies immobilized from Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer all the more attractive. 

Staff of Ruin (3+ AV):  More damage on all of your attacks.  Simple and effective.  You can safely default to this if you don't know what else to do.

Staff of the Serpent (7+ AV):  If you plan on spending most of your time in beast form (or even if you just have the mindset of "when I'm striking, I'll go into beast form; if I'm in humanoid form, I'm controlling"), this plus tier-appropriate Iron Armbands of Power will result in more damage than a Staff of Ruin.  If you'd rather deal damage regardless of what power you're using, the Staff of Ruin would be preferable. 

Summoner's Staff (7+ AV2):  You know, I just now realized that since your summon counts as an ally, they can recieve the THP when an attack misses them.  So you can either buff your summon up, or play leader.  Either option is a win!  The Daily gives your summon the Halfling's Second Chance.  Any Druid with more than 1 summoning power would do well to consider this, and it's likely the default choice for most Primal Summoners and Pack Lords. 

Architect's Staff (5+ AV):  Bigger (and irregularly shaped) walls and zones are nice for Druids that tend to utilize these types of powers a lot.  Remember, you have an at-will that creates a zone (Flame Seed), and this item makes that power a whole lot better.  The Daily is also nifty for responding to changing conditions on the battlefield.  It sure is pricey, though.

Destiny Staff (25+ AV):  Free use of a healing surge when you kill stuff.  Nice!  Extra standard action with your Daily.  Also nice! 

Earthfall Totem (7+ AV2):  Extra damage for using powers that push, slide, or knock prone.  Damage-wise, at high levels this surpasses Staff of the Serpent + Iron Armbands if your main damaging powers do these things (hint: Savage Rend!).  Of course because it's a totem it loses out on being Dragonshard compatible, so given the extra cash spent the Staff of the Serpent will pull ahead again.

Earthroot Staff (3+ AV):  If you tend to immobilize, restrain, and slow a lot, the save penalty will definitely come in handy.  Low level synergies include Savage Frenzy, Faerie Fire, Vine Serpents, and Entangle.

Razor Talon Totem (14+ AV2):  Your crit range on beast form attacks is 19-20.  Most classes can't pull this off so early.

Staff of Corrosion (18+ AV):  This is essentially a Staff of the Serpent but with Acid damage.  Damage Reduction is less common for Acid than Poison, but the cost keeps this staff from being sky blue.

Defensive Staff (2+ AV):  Give your NADs a boost.  Unfortunately, you'll never gain the AC bonus unless you're a Hybrid Wizard.  Works off-hand, if you're fine with the cheesy dual-staff image.

Dire Totem (10+ AV2):  You can make yourself Large while in beast form 1/day. 

Flameheart Totem (10+ AV2):  If you really want to focus on CA damage, this + Claw Gloves is a nice combo.  Still, it's outdamaged by Staff of the Serpent, which has less situational extra damage.

Staff of the War Mage (3+ PHB):  As a Daily power, you can increase the size of a blast or burst by 1.  Great if you pair it with a nice AoE combat opener like Vine Serpents. 

Stern Mountain Totem (10+ AV2):  From the Aspect of the Ram item set.  Implements that allow you to regain HP as if you've spent a surge aren't all that common, so it's worth consideration if you're low on defense.

Staff of the Traveller (5+ PHB3):  With all the shifting that Druids get, this staff is actually a really good choice despite the Psionic-specific encounter power.  It also works in the off-hand (though personally I find dual-wielding staffs cheesy).  Pretty expensive, though.

Summer Growth Totem (3+ PHB2):  Restrain a target with a critical hit (synergizes with the improved crit range of Entangle), and as a Daily power you can create some difficult terrain.

Totem of the Night (12+ AV2):  Don't use this as your primary implement, but if you're planning on going into the Underdark for a while Darkvision is probably going to come in handy.



Armor
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Marauder's Armor (7+ AV2):  You charge a lot.  Getting an AC buff for doing so is an excellent deal, especially since you're most vulnerable to actually being hit with a melee attack right after a charge.  The Daily power is nice, too: spend a healing surge or make a saving throw.  Very powerful, especially considering that it's available starting at level 7!

Pouncing Beast Armor (4+ PHB2):  Shift 1 square when you use Wild Shape to change into beast form.  This essentially gives you a minor/free action shift every turn, if you're willing to shapeshift that much.

Enduring Beast Armor (5+ PHB2):  A solid choice for Druids who want to increase their survivability.  Bonus HP whenever you spend a healing surge in beast form as a property, and a Daily that lets you spend a healing surge as a minor action.  Nice.

Hunting Beast Armor (2+ PHB2):  This armor gives you +2 to your Reflex, and as an encounter power you can shift 2 squares as a move action in beast form.  Great choice for Predators looking for some additional mobility.

Great Cat Armor (19+ AV2):  Very nice indeed!  Increase the distance of your shifts by 1.  Aren't you glad that you're a class that can shift as a minor/free action at-will (via Wild Shape)?  The Daily multisquare shift isn't too shabby, either.

Roc Armor (18+ PHB2):  This armor essentially gives you Sky Talon (level 22 Daily utility).  Being able to attack while flying is nice, and even if you have Sky Talon you might want to keep both so you can pull the trick twice per day.

Predator Armor (3+ PHB2):  +1 bonus to both Fortitude and Will isn't bad, but the Daily power is kind of meh.



Arms
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Bracers of Bold Maneuvering (8, 18 AV):  AC bonus against OAs 1/enc isn't too shabby for such a mobile class.

Bracers of Mighty Striking (2, 12, 22 PHB):  Basically Iron Armbands of Power, but they only work with MBA's.  They're significantly cheaper though, so if most of your striking is done through Savage Rend or Grasping Claws, these might be a better choice.  Doesn't stack with a Staff of Ruin though.

Couters of Second Chances (5, 15, 25 AV):  1/day re-roll.  Even the low-level version is useful for high level characters, providing a very cheap accuracy boost.

Iron Armbands of Power (6, 16, 26 AV):  Item bonus to damage with melee attacks.  A safe choice if you don't use a Staff of Ruin (since both provide item bonuses, they don't stack).

Bracers of Mental Might (6 AV):  Substitute Wis for Str on rolls 1/enc.  Good for Athletics while Wild Shaped.

Counterstrike Guards (4, 14 AV):  Eh, if you're going for damage there are better bracers for you (mighty striking or iron armbands).  Useful for Druids that carry a Staff of Ruin, though.

Frost Charger Bracers (13, AV2):  Charging an enemy causes all enemies adjacent to the target to take a little cold damage (assuming you have a Str mod).  I can see Frostcheese builds possibly finding this useful.


Feet
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Boots of the Fencing Master (7 AV):  You shift a lot as a Druid, especially if you're a Predator, so a buff to AC and Reflex when you do so is a great boost in survivability.  Plus an encounter power that lets you shift 2 squares as a minor action is just made of win.

Boots of Teleportation (28 AV):  These are pricey, but you get to teleport your speed at-will!  Unsurpassed mobility.

Rushing Cleats (7 AV):  Upgrade your Savage Rend to a slide 2!  These are Gold for Polearm builds in Heroic, but they go back down to sky blue in Paragon when Fierce Thrasher Form becomes available (even so, a slide 3 is also an attractive option so you might keep both).

Sandals of Avandra (25 AV):  Speed bonus, and you can shift half your speed at-will as a move action. 

Zephyr Boots (24 AV):  Congratulations, you have a fly speed equal to your speed!  Become an eagle without feeling stupid!

Boots of Adept Charging (2 AV):  Shift after you charge, and they're dirt cheap!

Boots of Caiphon (24 AV2):  This is from the Points of the Constellation item set.  Reflex bonus, plus you can shift up to your speed as a minor action at-will, if you're willing to take damage equal to 2x the number of squares you moved.

Boots of Speed (22 AV):  Speed bonus and an extra move action 1/day.


Boots of Striding (9 PHB):  +1 speed.

Boots of Swimming (13 AV):  Pick these up if you find yourself near water a lot (island hopping campaigns seem to be popular).  When you wild shape into a dolphin, sea turtle, etc. it's believable!

Dimensional Stride Boots (18 AV):  A reflex buff and an encounter teleport.  Solid.

Dragonborn Greaves (12 AV):  Decent defensive option, with a speed bonus to boot (pun not intended).  Of course you only benefit when you're bloodied.

Phantom Chaussures (18 AV):  You get the Warlock's Shadow Walk, and as a Daily you can become invisible after moving 6 squares.  Fits the skirmisher playstyle of Predators very well.

Airstriders (25 AV):  You can fly!!  With restrictions...

Boots of Eagerness (9 AV):  An encounter power that lets you take another move action as a free action.  In general, Boots of the Fencing Master are a better choice, and they're cheaper as well.  Still, the free action is useful if you're dazed.

Boots of Free Movement (6 AV):  Yeah, you don't like to be slowed, immobilized, or restrained.  If you find it happening a lot, these might help.

Boots of Surging Speed (7 AV2):  Might be useful if you've taken second wind enhancing feats and/or are a Dwarf.

Cat Tabi (8, 18, 28 AV):  I'm only mentioning this because some people might want to be more cat-like in beast form.  More of a fluff choice than an optimization choice.

Oceanstrider Boots (14 AV):
  Speed bonus plus you can walk on water.


Survivor's Boots (16 AV2):  No more provoking OAs while you're bloodied!  Useful for going wherever you want to go unimpeded, or for casting in melee without repercussions!

Boots of Striding and Springing (14 PHB):  I guess you can't complain if you find these as treasure, but there's not much of an improvement compared to the much cheaper Boots of Striding.

Clearing Cleats (26 AV2):  Come on, really?  For an item 2 levels lower you can get a fly speed, and 2 levels later you can get an at-will teleport.  In either case, difficult terrain isn't a problem for you.


Hands
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Claw Gloves (4 AV2):  This item is from the Skin of the Panther Heroic item set.  Deal an extra 1D10 damage with beast form melee attacks when you have CA.  Makes you a Rogue-lite, but the best part is just how cheap they are.  Conveniently, they're a 4th level item, which is exactly when you can start using the Enchant Magic Item ritual.  So enchant a pair as soon as you have the cash.

Antipathy Gloves (10 AV):  You basically have an aura 1 of difficult terrain.  Back artillery into a corner and then lock them down!  Lock enemies into flanks (if they want out, they're provoking an OA)!  This is probably your best alternative to Claw Gloves.

Gauntlets of Blood (4, 14, 24 AV2):  Claw Gloves are generally better for damage, but if you don't get CA that much these are a good second choice (bonus against bloodied creatures).

Gloves of Ice (11, 21 AV2):  If you go the Frostcheese route, you might want to pick these up.  However, I don't really recommend it because choosing mostly cold attacks will likely result in a sub-optimal build (unless you're a Hybrid).

Hero's Gauntlets/Great Hero's Gauntlets (17, 27 AV2):  Solid option for any class, accuracy buff when you spend an AP and a ton of THP (1/2 surge value or surge value). 

Greatreach Gauntlets (18 AV):  Give your melee attacks reach!  Why isn't this sky blue, you ask?  Because when your minor action to give yourself reach, you also take a -2 penalty to attack rolls.  Still, Polearm builds might want these so they can pick up Polearm Gamble.

Strikebacks (10 AV):  Once per encounter when you get hit, hit back!

Gauntlets of the Ram (8 PHB):  Add 1 square to your pushes.  Too bad it doesn't do the same for slides...

Gloves of Accuracy (16 AV):  Druids who favor casting ranged evocations can find a use for these.

Gloves of Missile Deflection (13 AV):  Protect yourself against enemy artillery.

Luckbender Gloves (6 AV):  Yeah, if you're going for damage, stick with Claw Gloves.



Head
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Horned Helm (6, 16, 26 PHB):  You charge a lot as a Druid, and this item increases the damage you deal on a charge.  Try charging an enemy that you have CA against (charging into a flanking position is fairly easy to do) for some serious damage (because I'm sure that you, like most Druids, have Claw Gloves as well).

Casque of Tactics (4, 14, 24 AV):  An initiative bonus, plus you can swap initiative with a willing ally 1/day.  This could make a huge difference, since controllers have a lot of powers that make excellent combat openers.

Charger's Headdress (12 AV2):  This is from the Aspect of the Ram item set.  You get a +1 bonus to charge attacks.  Strictly speaking, a Horned Helm will result in higher DPR.  However, you get an additional +1 bonus if you have another item from this set (most likely the Fleece of Renewal).  Problem with the fleece is that it's not quite as good as the all-powerful Badge of the Berserker.  Still, a +2 bonus from this set, +1 from Enraged Boar Form, +1 from charging, and +2 if you have CA could give your charge attacks an overall bonus of +6, so don't rule out this combination completely.

Crown of Eyes (16 AV):  You don't grant CA to flanking enemies.  Great for off-tanks!

Essence of the Wisp (21 AV2):  Pull whoever hits you with a ranged attack 2 squares (at-will, imm. reaction).  Plus you get a +2 bonus to Will.

Helm of Able Defense (14 AV2):  From the Panoply of the Sheperds of Ghest set.  Will bonus, and a bonus to all defenses until the first time you're hit.  Solid.

Phrenic Crown (7, 17, 27 AV):  Save penalty when you use vs Will powers.  You don't have as many as some classes do, but Roar of Terror and Baleful Polymorph are notable examples.

Bear Headdress (9 AV2):  Guess what Wild Shape is?  A Primal Polymorph power.  And since it allows you to change from humanoid to beast form or vice versa, you're technically always affected by a polymorh effect as a Druid.  So this item gives you a constant Will bonus.

Cap of Water Breathing (10 AV):  You can breathe underwater, as a property.  Sweet!

Circlet of Second Chances (3, AV):  Re-roll a save 1/day.  It's cheap.

Circlet of Continuity (11 AV2):  Being dazed/stunned sucks.  So a save bonus against it is good.  Once per encounter, you can also sustain a power that normally requires a minor action when you're dazed or stunned.

Eye of Awareness (23 AV):  Bonus to Will and Initiative.  It's pricey though.

Goggles of Night (14 PHB):  Darkvision as a property might be worth it.

Helm of Battle (9, 19, 29 PHB):  Giving you and your allies an initiative bonus is nice, but this is kind of expensive for such a small bonus.

Reading Spectacles (2 AV):  Lol, never noticed this item before.  Eh, it's cheap enough, why not?



Neck
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Badge of the Berserker (2+ AV2):  The movement you make as part of a charge doesn't provoke OAs.  A no-brainer for a class that charges a lot. 

Amulet of Elusive Prey (14+ AV):  Predators may consider this as a defensive option, as it fits the skirmisher playstyle well.  AC/Ref. bonus for moving 4 squares.

Amulet of the Unbroken (29 AV):  1/day, when you're reduced to 0 HP spend as many surges as you want.  If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. 

Amulet of Vigor (9+ AV2):  Daily power that lets you spend a healing surge as a free action, and recover double the HP!  Plus the enhancement bonus increases your surge value.  Still, a Cloak of the Walking Wounded is probably a better choice.

Cloak of Displacement (15+ AV):  AC bonus until you're first hit during an encounter, and a Daily akin to the Halfling's Second Chance.

Cloak of Distortion (4+ AV):  Fairly standard defensive option for ranged classes, and you're half ranged.

Cloak of the Desert (13+ AV2):  Free concealment for an encounter 1/day. 

Cloak of the Walking Wounded (4+ AV):  Most Druids will eventually be able to use their second wind with a less costly action than a Standard, and when that time comes (most likely Epic) this will provide excellent synergy.  Dwarves will want to consider this right from the start.

Fleece of Renewal (13+ AV2):  This item is from the Aspect of the Ram set.  Whenever you charge, you get THP equal to your Con mod.  Obviously a poor choice for Predators.

Talisman of Terror (7+ AV2):  Save penalty that synergizes with Roar of Terror (but not much else that you get). 

Timeless Locket (14+ AV2):  Initiative bonus, check.  Daily power that turns your minor action into a standard action, double check.  What a great item for a controller.

Torc of Power Preservation (15+ AV):  As a Daily power, you get a chance to regain an encounter power that you just used.  Solid.

Amulet of False Life (9+ PHB):  Gain your surge value in THP 1/day when you become bloodied.  There are better defensive options, though.

Amulet of Mental Resolve (2+ AV):  Not bad, grants you a bonus to several different saves.

Amulet of Physical Resolve (2+ AV):  Again, save bonuses for different effects.

Brooch of Vitality (15+ AV):  Increase your HP value (and by extension, your bloodied and surge values).  Not bad, but there are better defensive options.

Frostwolf Pelt (4+ AV2):  The Daily power knocks an enemy that hit you prone as an effect.  End your next turn 1 square away to keep that enemy from attacking (charging) you again.  This item also gives you cold resistance, so if you or a party member like to spam cold zones and/or Wintertouched/Lasting Frost enhanced AoE's, then this will make getting hit by friendly fire less dangerous.

Life Charm (25+ AV):  This makes it so you can't fail death saves (like a Warforged).  Anything that could possibly have a direct influence on preventing death is a decent enough choice.

Lifesaving Brooch (2+ AV2):  This could be, well, life-saving at low levels.  Loses its edge when your leader gains more healing powers, though.

Orc's Eye Amulet (8+ AV2):  For those that like to play leader, this lets you give an ally THP 1/enc when they bloody something.

Seashimmer Cloak (13+ AV2):  Property gives you a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater.  Hello, aquatic Wild Shaping!  Daily makes you insubstantial as an imm. interrupt, so there's a defensive component as well.  Of course it's cheaper in the long run to just pick up a Ring of Aquatic Ability, plus it frees up your neck slot.

Talisman of Repulsion (30 AV):  Daily slide 5 + immobilize imm. reaction.  Not bad for a controller.



Rings
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NOTE:  The various "Grace" rings have powers that work if you haven't made an attack during that turn.  Normally this is pure suck unless you're stunned, in which case it's just situational.  However, depending on your interpretation, your DM might not consider giving a command to a summon "making an attack."  It's super cheesy and I personally wouldn't allow it, but if you can get away with it then more power to you.

Ring of the Dragonborn Emperor (15 AV):  Cheap ring with a great property and Daily power!  +3 damage bonus with close attacks (won't stack with Staff of Ruin, but since Iron Armbands only apply to melee attacks this will be useful).  Plus you can use one of your encounter powers as an imm. reaction when you become bloodied (an expended power if you've reached a milestone) 1/day!  A prime choice for Swarm Druids.

Ring of Many Forms (15 AV2):  This ring is part of the Raiment of the World Serpent Paragon item set.  When you use a polymorph power you gain a +1 bonus to your next attack roll before the end of your turn.  Guess what?  Wild Shape is a polymorph power!  If you find yourself shifting between humanoid and beast forms a lot, you'll also find yourself hitting more often if you have one of these.  At level 15 it's pretty cheap for a ring. 

Greater Ring of Invisibility (23 AV2):  An encounter power invisible until the end of your next turn (as a minor action), and if you've reached a milestone you also get concealment until the end of the encounter.  Sooo, auto-concealment after facing 2 encounters?  Every kill begins with "K"...

Ring of Free Time (29 AV2):  You gain Resist 5 to all damage.  Plus, 1/enc you can take an additional minor action on your turn as a free action, and if you've reached a milestone this power becomes at-will (but useable once per round).  Methinks this synergizes nicely with Primal Summoning Expertise *evil laugh*

Shadow Band (27 AV):  Property: Gain concealment.  Ok, don't mind if I do!  Total concealment for a turn as a Daily, or until the end of the encounter if you've reached a milestone!!!  So this is essentially +2 AC all the time, and +5 AC for an encounter 1/day. 

Dauntless Champion's Ring (30 AV2):  Pricey, but it lets you regain an encounter power (and, if you've reached a milestone, a Daily) if you've expended them all.  The surge value bonus is just icing on the cake. 

Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (14 PHB):  I really like this item for Predators, since they tend to be low on surges.  Purple for Con Druids though, because they generally don't need an extra surge.

Ring of Aquatic Ability (15 AV):  Another way to gain swim speed and underwater breathing (opening up options for your Wild Shape).  Cheaper in the long run than maintaining a Seashimmer Cloak (plus it doesn't waste your neck slot).

Ring of Fey Travel (22 AV):  +1 to speed for those who want obscenely fast Druids, and a minor action teleport as a Daily (which you can do for 2 turns if you've reached a milestone).

Ring of Heroic Health (21 AV2):  Great for off-tank Druids!  The Daily power lets you spend a healing surge or, if you've reached a milestone, regain HP as if you've spent a surge!  Predators may also want to grab one of these since it can let them gain the benefit of spending a surge without actually spending one.

Ring of the Phoenix (27 AV):  The fire resistance is nice and all, but this ring's true allure lies in its ability to let you come back to life in a burst of flame (1/day)! 

Ring of Regeneration (24 PHB):  Increase your healing surge value, and regain a healing surge that you've spent today as a Daily power (+ regen if you've reached a milestone when you use the Daily).

Blink Ring (22 AV): 
Some teleporting as a Daily power.

Ring of Focus (24 AV2):  +1 Will, plus you can sustain using a free (or no) action.  Useful for when you're dazed/stunned.

Ring of Protection (17 PHB):  +1 to saving throws and a Daily power that would be better if the bonus were higher.

Ring of Ramming (18 AV):  If you have a lot of powers that push, this will increase the distance by a square.

Star Opal Ring (26 PHB):  If you're trying to maximize your speed, this will help.  Plus a Daily teleport with a useless explosion (it's Cha based). 




Waist
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Diamond Cincture (10, 20, 30 AV2):  Fortitude bonuse equal to # of diamonds (which is the belt's level divided by 10, so 1, 2, and 3, respectively).  As a minor action at-will, you can regain HP as if you'd spent a healing surge, making that diamond worthless (which means the Fortitude buff goes away).  All diamonds are restored after an extended rest.  So this essentially gives you extra healing surges, which means that it will be favored by Predators.

Baldric of Tactical Positioning (8, 18 AV):  Combine with Claw Gloves for an "oh no, I can't get CA!" failsafe.

Belt of Blood (10, AV):  Essentially a boost to your healing surge value for Con Druids; you're probably going to be bloodied if you use a healing surge anyways.  Predators should check out the Sash of Vitality Ceaseless, which is more expensive but uses Wis instead of Con. 

Belt of Breaching (19 AV2):  This is from the Eldritch Panoply set.  Kill something and spend a healing surge, plus teleport 5 squares. 

Belt of Raging Endurance (9, 19, 29 D380):  An extra healing surge never hurt anyone.  Overkill for Con Druids, but Predators should seriously consider this to make up for their lower Con score (especially if they've chosen Str tertiary instead of Con).  The higher level versions are strictly worse than a Diamond Cincture. 

Healer's Sash (11, 21 AV):  Even after this was hit with the nerf bat, it's still a worthwhile item to pick up.

Sash of Regeneration (28 AV2):  Regen 5 while bloodied makes this an attractive option for off-tank Swarm Druids.

Sash of Vitality Ceaseless (14 AV2):  From the Ayrkashna Armor set.  When you spend a surge while bloodied (when else would you spend a surge?), you gain additional HP equal to your Wis mod.  The Predator's answer to the Belt of Blood! 

Backbone Belt (11 AV):  Nice defense boost for a class that likes using second wind.

Belt of Vigor (2, 12, 22 PHB):  It's cheap and it boosts your healing surge value.

Belt of Vim (8, 18, 28 AV):  Give your Fortitude defense a boost.

Belt of Vitality (23 AV):  Fortitude buff, plus you get to spend a healing surge when you make a death saving throw 1/day.

Shielding Girdle (10 AV):  Gives you the Wizard's "Shield" as a Daily.

Vengeance Sash (23 AV):  Use a standard action attack 1/day when you're reduced to 0 HP (hint: Hungry for the Kill or another power that lets you spend a surge would be an excellent choice). 



Wondrous Items/Misc.
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Salve of Power (10 AV):  Who doesn't like regaining Daily powers?  As a controller, your Daily powers tend to be very strong so this is an especially good choice for your.  The first level summons (well, Giant Toad and Pack Wolf) are good candidates for a second use, as is the 5th level power Vine Serpents (a good combat opener that generates a good damaging zone). 

Siberys Shard of the Mage (3, 13, 23 EPG):  Extra damage if you use an implement that also counts as a weapon.  Augments your weapon/implement, so it doesn't take up an item slot, either.  If you have the spare cash, definitely pick one up.

how I awesome druid

I heart Druids
also, I club seals
Wow, I figured that creating an optimization guide was time consuming but just how time consuming it is still surprised me.  I'd like to thank everyone who has created one of these for all of their hard work!

As for this guide, it's pretty much "1st level ready," which was my first goal.  I'm still not sure what I'm going to cover in terms of racial feats though; to start off I'll probably pick a handful of optimal Druid races and then comment on just the feats that are worthwhile.  At least until I have more base knowledge down on the rest of the guide.

Bring on the comments!
Stampede might deserve to be blue when coupled with that boots of adept charger.
Another hidden value of Githzerai is that if they could MC monk they would never worry about HS and HP as a predator. Monk's main stat seems to be dex too, which is nice.
Could you find a darker gold color?  I can't read that one.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

Stampede might deserve to be blue when coupled with that boots of adept charger.
Another hidden value of Githzerai is that if they could MC monk they would never worry about HS and HP as a predator. Monk's main stat seems to be dex too, which is nice.


Thanks, I'll start some notes in the multiclassing section.  Keep in mind though, Zuoken's Centering is a Paragon tier feat so Predators still have to deal with low surges for at least 10 levels.  Also, I don't think that the Monk's MC feat has been released yet, but PHB3 isn't too far away...

Could you find a darker gold color?  I can't read that one.


Thy will be done.  Hope that helps.
One thing about storm spike is its potential to apply the windrunner(eb dragonmark pp)'s con damage twice (since it applies to damage instead of damage rolls). Not too great but good enough for a guardian summoner who want to stay behind.

Also need mentioning is invoker pp Devoted Orator, which could make swarming locust a busrt 4 thunder power with resounding thunder and a push one. If you could get windrise, then swarming locusts could be used to coupled with momentun to push 2 and prone. Or you could use it with mark of storm and silde two and prone. Although invokers themselves would better at this.

Also need mentioning is invoker pp Devoted Orator, which could make swarming locust a busrt 4 thunder power with resounding thunder and a push one. If you could get windrise, then swarming locusts could be used to coupled with momentun to push 2 and prone. Or you could use it with mark of storm and silde two and prone. Although invokers themselves would better at this.


Good catch!  You have to wait until level 16 to pull this off, but it's a pretty potent upgrade to Swarming Locusts!  Also, Windrise Ports isn't necessary if you hybrid Druid and Invoker and take the Fighter MC.  I would only recommend this for Humans though, because other races only get 1 Druid power as a Hybrid and Savage Rend or Grasping Claws are both better choices in general than Swarming Locusts.
Hey all, I need some formatting advice.  I listed the feats in descending order by color, so that all of the sky blue feats were at the top, then came the blue feats, etc.  As I was looking over the work that I just did for the Heroic tier powers, I noticed that I did the same thing for level 2 and onward (the stuff that I worked on tonight).  The level 1 stuff (at-wills, encounters, and dailies) are all listed alphabetically, with the colors all mixed up. 

I definitely like the descending colors for the feats since the lists are so long, but I'm not sure how I feel about the (much shorter) power lists.  Any thoughts? 
I think it's great.  I prefer the descending order to the alphabetical.
Well, invoker hybrid druid would better be sliding with Vision of Blood, which targets will, has the psychic keyword, could be comboed with invoker defense and bloodiron scale.
I know you haven't gotten there yet, but both Warforged and Revenants should be discussed in the races section.  They both make decent Swarm Druids, using their racial traits and feats to further ablate/ignore the damage.  A Revenant Swarm Druid, with the various ignore-unconsciousness feats (fierce vitality, ghostly vitality, etc.), is ridiculously hard to knock down.  Even more so with Dwarf Soul or the Undying Warrior ED.
I know you didn't finish the items section yet, but there's no mention of Claw Gloves in your powers selection section. Claw Gloves have the single highest damage increase of any item published so far, and it stacks with both Staff of the Serpent, Siberys Shard of the Mage and Iron Armbands of Power. So when you make Darting Bite a purple power, you don't mention that it's the only melee, multi-attack power. Yes, it's only damage, but positioned correctly, it can be absolutely silly damage for a first-level encounter power.

The decision on whether to take melee powers for all of the item synergy or AoE powers for their control is a big issue for druids that focus on beast form.

Finally, I think you put way too much emphasis on the Alfsair Spear build. I wouldn't allow that combo were I DMing. It doesn't make any sense given the nature of Wild Shape, and for every "I hit with a spear!" I'd respond, "Alfsair is a weapon property." If you have doubts compare the wording of Alfsair ("Property: Classes that use totems can use this spear as an implement for class powers and paragon path powers.") to that of the Holy Avenger: "Special: A holy avenger can be used as a holy symbol." I read the flavor text too, but it's not the first time the flavor doesn't match the mechanics perfectly.

Other than that, I think a lot of your analysis is very solid. I've been having trouble picking dailies and utility powers—beast form specialists really get boned with utilities—and I can't wait to see what you recommend.
Zuoken's Centering does not require you to be a Githzerai.
I know you haven't gotten there yet, but both Warforged and Revenants should be discussed in the races section.  They both make decent Swarm Druids, using their racial traits and feats to further ablate/ignore the damage.  A Revenant Swarm Druid, with the various ignore-unconsciousness feats (fierce vitality, ghostly vitality, etc.), is ridiculously hard to knock down.  Even more so with Dwarf Soul or the Undying Warrior ED.


Thanks for the Revenant advice, I actually haven't looked at the race more than an initial skim through it a while ago.  It also makes for an appropriately flavorful Blightbeast.


I know you didn't finish the items section yet, but there's no mention of Claw Gloves in your powers selection section. Claw Gloves have the single highest damage increase of any item published so far, and it stacks with both Staff of the Serpent, Siberys Shard of the Mage and Iron Armbands of Power. So when you make Darting Bite a purple power, you don't mention that it's the only melee, multi-attack power. Yes, it's only damage, but positioned correctly, it can be absolutely silly damage for a first-level encounter power.


Once I start on the items section I plan on making Claw Gloves gold.  With Enchant Magic Item, they're something that every Druid should have at 4th level. 

The reason that I didn't take those (quite potent, in combination) damage-increasing items into consideration with Darting Bite is that those items also work with the Druid's MBA at-wills.  The power itself doesn't really bring anything new to the table, and is actually less versatile as the MBAs can also be used with a charge (unlike Darting Bite) and have control effects (unlike Darting Bite).  Considering charge damage boosters, you'll get more single target damage and accuracy out of Savage Rend or Grasping Claws, and the control effects on top of that.  True, Darting Bite will still end up dealing more damage overall (spread over 2 targets), but switch up your items a little bit (Staff of Ruin instead of Staff of the Serpent, though the iron armbands become useless) and Swarming Locusts can do decent damage to multiple targets (though admittedly not to the extent of Darting Bite). 

Even Druids that lean very heavily toward striker should take some control powers; otherwise you might as well just be an actual striker.  Furthermore, this will be your only encounter power for the first 2 levels of the game, and thus it's you're only method of doing something "different" every encounter.  I still maintain that the Druid is, above all else, a class that thrives on its versatility.  That said, perhaps in the hands of the most pure of striker builds, Darting Bite might be better than a purple rating.  Even then, I'd advise re-training Call Forth the Spirit Pack or Thorn Spray into it at 3rd level, when you have another (control-oriented) encounter power. 

The decision on whether to take melee powers for all of the item synergy or AoE powers for their control is a big issue for druids that focus on beast form.


Yes, this is definitely a tough decision but that's part of the fun of playing a Druid.  It results in a wide spectrum of different builds in terms of how much emphasis they place on beast form via their power choice.  Also, power choice doesn't necessarily dictate how often you're in beast form.  You can choose a lot of heavy control "just in case" encounter powers, but 80% of the time you're charging around using at-wills.  You might pop into humanoid form to lay down a zone, but then use Savage Rend to constantly knock enemies into it (in this way you're definitely utilizing a humanoid control power, but you're doing so while in beast form).  And finally, while all Druids will have Claw Gloves, you need to decide whether you want to exploit the beast form item synergy that's available, and how much you want to do so.

In short, recommending items is easy enough, but recommending combinations of items and powers is a bit more tricky.


Finally, I think you put way too much emphasis on the Alfsair Spear build. I wouldn't allow that combo were I DMing. It doesn't make any sense given the nature of Wild Shape, and for every "I hit with a spear!" I'd respond, "Alfsair is a weapon property." If you have doubts compare the wording of Alfsair ("Property: Classes that use totems can use this spear as an implement for class powers and paragon path powers.") to that of the Holy Avenger: "Special: A holy avenger can be used as a holy symbol." I read the flavor text too, but it's not the first time the flavor doesn't match the mechanics perfectly.


In this case, I'd say that the flavor text sheds light on the reason that the Alfsair Spear exists in the first place.  Likely, it was designed to support just this type of build. 

In terms of Polearm Momentum, the feat is worded as such:  "whenever you use a polearm or spear attack..." whereas it could have specified "weapon attack."  You could argue that "weapon" is assumed, but since it's not explicitly stated then RAW doesn't back it up (furthermore, the Alfsair Spear's existence muddies the water, questioning whether or not "weapon" could really be assumed at all). 

So hitting with a spear allows Polearm Momentum to work.  And yes, the Alfsair Spear's property is a weapon property because the spear is listed under the weapon category, but the property states that the spear is an implement.  If you use the argument that implements can't use weapon weapon properties, then the spear actually can't be used as an implement, but it says that it can right there!  Since this circular argument will clearly lead us nowhere, common sense can be invoked and we can call this property an example of specific overriding general.  Weapon properties generally can't be used with implements, but this property specifically states that the spear is an implement. 

Going back to your example, when your player says "I hit with a spear!" and you say "Alfsair is a weapon property," it doesn't matter because your player hit with the spear implement

In terms of the different wording between the Holy Avenger and the Alfsair Spear, I don't see how they imply different interpretations.  The only difference between the Holy Avenger and Alfsair Spear given the wording is that the former counts specifically as a Holy Symbol, while the latter counts as an implement (specifically, implement:  spear) that's only useable by classes that can use totems.  Mechanically, it's not that different from a Wizard taking Arcane Implement Proficiency in order to use Implement:  Glaive (Swordmages can use Heavy Blades as implements). 

Finally, I'd like to address the over-arching issue, which is one of balance.  I take it that by potentially not allowing the Druid spear build while you're DMing, it can be inferred that you find such a build "cheesy," or overpowered.  After all, why else would a DM ban something?  I have to wonder why it's cheesy for a Druid to have an at-will prone but not a Fighter?  A Fighter wielding a shield and a basic spear (one handed) can use Tide of Iron with Polearm Momentum (assuming Rushing Cleats) in much the same way as a Druid uses Savage Rend.  Sure, the Fighter is sacrificing weapon choice by going with an "inferior" weapon, but the Druid is also sacrificing an implement enchantment (locked into Alfsair Spear, so can't use Staff of Ruin, Earthfall Totem, etc.), besides which the Druid has to Multiclass to pull it off.  Looking at it this way, it doesn't seem out of line.  Besides, the Druid is a controller so it should be able to pull off tricks like this.

Did that argument make sense?  If I'm focusing a lot on the build, it's because it's sort of a pet build of mine, thus there's some bias there.  Besides that, it's not a straightforward build, and so I think it's valuable to point out synergies where they exist (some of which I just discovered while writing this guide, such as Battering Claws, so there's a little bit of Eureka! going on as well).  I've also mentioned off-tank builds quite a bit, but that's more "mainstream" so it probably didn't catch as many people's attention. 

Finally, thanks for questioning the build, as this is probably the most extensively that I've actually reasoned out its validity.

Zuoken's Centering does not require you to be a Githzerai.


Not in the Compendium or Character Builder, but check out the compiled issue of Dragon 378.  I pointed it out in the CB forum a while ago, so it should be fixed soon (just like Reaper's Touch was).

That seems to be a issue with many of the racial printed feats without the listed requirement, they are meant to be racial but end up being printed without that requirement.  Hopefully its a trend they recognize and will fix but until then it seems best to assume its racial limited until proven otherwise.  I assume it will be updated once the January update is released.
This guide is off to a great start, I find the commentary very useful.  The guide is nicely organized, as well.  Superb work, keep at it.
Builds and Guides The Cosmonaut a build that teleports foes into space. November Errata Item Guide a guide to equipping Avengers and Strikers after the November errata. 100% Crit Rate Ardent Champion an Avenger combo that autocrits and/or inflicts infinite damage at level 11.
I know you haven't gotten there yet, but both Warforged and Revenants should be discussed in the races section.  They both make decent Swarm Druids, using their racial traits and feats to further ablate/ignore the damage.  A Revenant Swarm Druid, with the various ignore-unconsciousness feats (fierce vitality, ghostly vitality, etc.), is ridiculously hard to knock down.  Even more so with Dwarf Soul or the Undying Warrior ED.


Thanks for the Revenant advice, I actually haven't looked at the race more than an initial skim through it a while ago.  It also makes for an appropriately flavorful Blightbeast.


I know you didn't finish the items section yet, but there's no mention of Claw Gloves in your powers selection section. Claw Gloves have the single highest damage increase of any item published so far, and it stacks with both Staff of the Serpent, Siberys Shard of the Mage and Iron Armbands of Power. So when you make Darting Bite a purple power, you don't mention that it's the only melee, multi-attack power. Yes, it's only damage, but positioned correctly, it can be absolutely silly damage for a first-level encounter power.


Once I start on the items section I plan on making Claw Gloves gold.  With Enchant Magic Item, they're something that every Druid should have at 4th level. 

The reason that I didn't take those (quite potent, in combination) damage-increasing items into consideration with Darting Bite is that those items also work with the Druid's MBA at-wills.  The power itself doesn't really bring anything new to the table, and is actually less versatile as the MBAs can also be used with a charge (unlike Darting Bite) and have control effects (unlike Darting Bite).  Considering charge damage boosters, you'll get more single target damage and accuracy out of Savage Rend or Grasping Claws, and the control effects on top of that.  True, Darting Bite will still end up dealing more damage overall (spread over 2 targets), but switch up your items a little bit (Staff of Ruin instead of Staff of the Serpent, though the iron armbands become useless) and Swarming Locusts can do decent damage to multiple targets (though admittedly not to the extent of Darting Bite). 

Even Druids that lean very heavily toward striker should take some control powers; otherwise you might as well just be an actual striker.  Furthermore, this will be your only encounter power for the first 2 levels of the game, and thus it's you're only method of doing something "different" every encounter.  I still maintain that the Druid is, above all else, a class that thrives on its versatility.  That said, perhaps in the hands of the most pure of striker builds, Darting Bite might be better than a purple rating.  Even then, I'd advise re-training Call Forth the Spirit Pack or Thorn Spray into it at 3rd level, when you have another (control-oriented) encounter power. 

The decision on whether to take melee powers for all of the item synergy or AoE powers for their control is a big issue for druids that focus on beast form.


Yes, this is definitely a tough decision but that's part of the fun of playing a Druid.  It results in a wide spectrum of different builds in terms of how much emphasis they place on beast form via their power choice.  Also, power choice doesn't necessarily dictate how often you're in beast form.  You can choose a lot of heavy control "just in case" encounter powers, but 80% of the time you're charging around using at-wills.  You might pop into humanoid form to lay down a zone, but then use Savage Rend to constantly knock enemies into it (in this way you're definitely utilizing a humanoid control power, but you're doing so while in beast form).  And finally, while all Druids will have Claw Gloves, you need to decide whether you want to exploit the beast form item synergy that's available, and how much you want to do so.

In short, recommending items is easy enough, but recommending combinations of items and powers is a bit more tricky.


Finally, I think you put way too much emphasis on the Alfsair Spear build. I wouldn't allow that combo were I DMing. It doesn't make any sense given the nature of Wild Shape, and for every "I hit with a spear!" I'd respond, "Alfsair is a weapon property." If you have doubts compare the wording of Alfsair ("Property: Classes that use totems can use this spear as an implement for class powers and paragon path powers.") to that of the Holy Avenger: "Special: A holy avenger can be used as a holy symbol." I read the flavor text too, but it's not the first time the flavor doesn't match the mechanics perfectly.


In this case, I'd say that the flavor text sheds light on the reason that the Alfsair Spear exists in the first place.  Likely, it was designed to support just this type of build. 

In terms of Polearm Momentum, the feat is worded as such:  "whenever you use a polearm or spear attack..." whereas it could have specified "weapon attack."  You could argue that "weapon" is assumed, but since it's not explicitly stated then RAW doesn't back it up (furthermore, the Alfsair Spear's existence muddies the water, questioning whether or not "weapon" could really be assumed at all). 

So hitting with a spear allows Polearm Momentum to work.  And yes, the Alfsair Spear's property is a weapon property because the spear is listed under the weapon category, but the property states that the spear is an implement.  If you use the argument that implements can't use weapon weapon properties, then the spear actually can't be used as an implement, but it says that it can right there!  Since this circular argument will clearly lead us nowhere, common sense can be invoked and we can call this property an example of specific overriding general.  Weapon properties generally can't be used with implements, but this property specifically states that the spear is an implement. 

Going back to your example, when your player says "I hit with a spear!" and you say "Alfsair is a weapon property," it doesn't matter because your player hit with the spear implement

In terms of the different wording between the Holy Avenger and the Alfsair Spear, I don't see how they imply different interpretations.  The only difference between the Holy Avenger and Alfsair Spear given the wording is that the former counts specifically as a Holy Symbol, while the latter counts as an implement (specifically, implement:  spear) that's only useable by classes that can use totems.  Mechanically, it's not that different from a Wizard taking Arcane Implement Proficiency in order to use Implement:  Glaive (Swordmages can use Heavy Blades as implements). 

Finally, I'd like to address the over-arching issue, which is one of balance.  I take it that by potentially not allowing the Druid spear build while you're DMing, it can be inferred that you find such a build "cheesy," or overpowered.  After all, why else would a DM ban something?  I have to wonder why it's cheesy for a Druid to have an at-will prone but not a Fighter?  A Fighter wielding a shield and a basic spear (one handed) can use Tide of Iron with Polearm Momentum (assuming Rushing Cleats) in much the same way as a Druid uses Savage Rend.  Sure, the Fighter is sacrificing weapon choice by going with an "inferior" weapon, but the Druid is also sacrificing an implement enchantment (locked into Alfsair Spear, so can't use Staff of Ruin, Earthfall Totem, etc.), besides which the Druid has to Multiclass to pull it off.  Looking at it this way, it doesn't seem out of line.  Besides, the Druid is a controller so it should be able to pull off tricks like this.

Did that argument make sense?  If I'm focusing a lot on the build, it's because it's sort of a pet build of mine, thus there's some bias there.  Besides that, it's not a straightforward build, and so I think it's valuable to point out synergies where they exist (some of which I just discovered while writing this guide, such as Battering Claws, so there's a little bit of Eureka! going on as well).  I've also mentioned off-tank builds quite a bit, but that's more "mainstream" so it probably didn't catch as many people's attention. 

Finally, thanks for questioning the build, as this is probably the most extensively that I've actually reasoned out its validity.

Zuoken's Centering does not require you to be a Githzerai.


Not in the Compendium or Character Builder, but check out the compiled issue of Dragon 378.  I pointed it out in the CB forum a while ago, so it should be fixed soon (just like Reaper's Touch was).




Just a couple of points on the polearm momentum thing (for the record, I agree that RAW it's definitely allowed, but I think there's a reasonable houserule-based counterargument to be made for reasons of verissimilitude).

- Establishing intent based on the fact that the feat omits the word "weapon" is problematic.  First, the books are written by multiple individuals who have varying degrees and areas of knowledge about how powers and feats interact; the person who wrote the polearm momentum feat may have been a different writer than the one who made (for example) the weapon mastery and heavy blade opportunity feats.  Second, since MP came out before either AIP or the alfsair spear existed, it's possible that they wrote the feat with the expectation that polearms COULDN'T ever be implements.  Not great design in that case, but it's possible.

- In terms of balance, the druid making use of this feat doesn't gain too much out of it that the fighter doesn't (although having seen a fighter use this combo in actual play, the fact that if you miss you are not adjacent to your marked target make this weaker than it seems on paper for fighters).  I do think that wizard that plays a similar trick with AIP thunderwave is pretty overpowered though, and you would use the same logic to get there.
Actually I've asked the Csvice and their answer is "yes you can"..........


Just a couple of points on the polearm momentum thing (for the record, I agree that RAW it's definitely allowed, but I think there's a reasonable houserule-based counterargument to be made for reasons of verissimilitude).



True, I can see some people having issues with realism when using a spear implement to knock someone prone, but in the case of a Druid using Savage Rend I don't think that realism is violated.  There's a pretty consistent theme with wolves and knocking people prone, so the imagery of the combo is appropriate.  In fact, for any implement power that pushes or slides an enemy, the magical or physical force that causes the enemy to be forcibly moved could easily be concieved as being potent enough to knock them off their feet.  I suppose that having such potency tied to a spear used as an implement doesn't make much sense, but that's the path that 4e treaded when it introduced the concept of weapons-as-implements.


- Establishing intent based on the fact that the feat omits the word "weapon" is problematic.  First, the books are written by multiple individuals who have varying degrees and areas of knowledge about how powers and feats interact; the person who wrote the polearm momentum feat may have been a different writer than the one who made (for example) the weapon mastery and heavy blade opportunity feats.  Second, since MP came out before either AIP or the alfsair spear existed, it's possible that they wrote the feat with the expectation that polearms COULDN'T ever be implements.  Not great design in that case, but it's possible.


Yes, I suppose it is problematic to assume that omitting "weapon" was intentional in order to accomodate future mechanics.  Rather, I was thinking that the Alfsair Spear was probably created (and works) because of this omission.  After all, the item is perfectly suited for the build and not much else.


- In terms of balance, the druid making use of this feat doesn't gain too much out of it that the fighter doesn't (although having seen a fighter use this combo in actual play, the fact that if you miss you are not adjacent to your marked target make this weaker than it seems on paper for fighters).  I do think that wizard that plays a similar trick with AIP thunderwave is pretty overpowered though, and you would use the same logic to get there.


I'm assuming that your example was a Fighter using Footwork Lure, correct?  I was actually thinking that the Fighter would wield a regular Spear (simple one-handed weapon) and a shield so that he could use Tide of Iron + Rushing Cleats to knock targets prone.  This way he's still adjacent if he misses.  Of course the disadvantage here is that the Fighter is 2 squares away from the prone (but marked) enemy.  A Druid using Savage Rend can slide the target around, keeping it 1 square away from you, and often flinging it such that you are between it and your allies, protecting them from a charge as well.  IMO the Druid gets the slightly better deal with the feat, but since the Fighter can also take whatever spear enchantment he wants and doesn't require a MC feat to pull the trick off, it pretty much evens out.

Yes, I do agree that polearm Wizards spamming Thunderwave could be problematic, but are also RAW.  One possible fix could be to errata Polearm Momentum such that it only works with melee spear attacks; this way even if a non-Fighter class (like the Druid) poaches the feat, even if they're using a spear implement, it still works mechanically as intended.

Even without a fix, I don't see this as being a huge problem.  Most Wizards won't abuse the combo because of the prohibitive stat requirements:  the Fighter MC requires 13 Str (the quintessential Wizard dump stat), and Polearm Momentum requires 15 Wis (admittedly not a problem for T-wave Wizards) and 15 Dex (now we have an issue).  Only an Eladrin or a Deva could really pull this stat array off. 

Plus the Fighter MC feat (let's assume Battle Awareness), while amazing for a Druid, is awful for a Wizard.  The Wizard needs to spend another feat for AIP (Glaive), and misses out on the myriad of enchantments that come with staffs, orbs, etc.  Plus I could see the argument being made that a Glaive implement needs to be wielded 2 handed (a quarterstaff wielded 1 handed is believable, but a longer stick with a heavy blade at the end would be quite unwieldy).  No RAW support, but it follows common sense.  Besides, Swordmages that wield Glaives need to use them 2 handed for their weapon attacks, so if a Wizard poaches a Swordmage implement why shouldn't he be subject to the same restrictions as the Swordmage?  Point being, a Wizard wielding a 2 handed implement can't benefit from DIS, and also can't wield an orb, staff, wand, or tome (meaning that their implement mastery class feature cannot be used). 

Even if a 1 handed Glaive implement were allowed (contrary to common sense, though not specifically contradicted by RAW), lets review what such a build would cost a Druid vs a Wizard.

1a)  Druid needs to sink 3 stat points into Str (which he may have done anyways to get a shield); Predators have no problem with the Dex requirement.

1b)  Wizard needs to start with a 13 Str, 13 Wis or Dex (assuming racial bonus bumps one to 15), and 15 Wis or Dex.  Only Eladrin and Deva can do this and still get an 18 Int. 

2a)  Druid gains an advantage by picking up Battle Awareness

2b)  Wizard can't use Battle Awareness (unless Melee training is taken, and that's yet another feat)

3a)  Druids need no additional feats

3b)  Wizards need to pick up AIP: Glaive

4)  Both give up more appropriate enchantments (i.e. Staff of Ruin, etc.) to wield weapons as implements.

Druids benefit from all of the requisite feats (Battle Awareness and Polearm Momentum).  Two of the Wizard feats (Battle Awareness and AIP) are junk by themselves; they're only important because they open up Polearm Momentum.  Given that only 2 races can really pull this off, and that the stat array required is very specific even then, I don't see many Wizards trying to get their T-Wave to prone.  Even if they did, you could make the argument that the sacrifices that the Wizard had to make were enough of a balancing factor (especially if the DM realizes that the Glaive would be awfully hard to hold 1 handed in combat, even as an implement). 




For racial feats: Stone Step Spirits is invaluable to the more strikery swarm druid build. Spirits of stone looks like it could be good but i don't see having an extra feat to take it

PHB2-only, Beast Form friendly, draft build
(doubtless subject to a lot of improvements and addendums)

Race: Longtooth Shifter

WIS 20
CON 14
STR 13
(because I might want to MC Fighter later on)

Primal Guardian

feat: Ferocious Tiger Form

at-will
Call of the Beast (could become a minion detector/sweeper if you want to run into the group and provoke OAs)
Flame Seed (I like zones; may not be so hot in practice, pardon the pun)
Savage Rend (looking for a beast-form MBA, don't want slowed enemies to decide I am the only viable target)
e1
Cull the Herd (pull non-melee artists out where the party can have at 'em)
d1
Savage Frenzy (after my StarLock got mobbed by minions, I like close burst 1's) 

Heroic Powers
L2: Barkskin (AC is good if I'm going to invite getting hit)
L3: Predator's Flurry (should be useful for anything but BBEG fights)
L5: Primal Wolverine (use early and then provoke OAs - enemies and myself get the death of 1000 cuts)
L6: Black Harbinger (see also my background)
L7 Feast of Fury (I wish it had the between-attacks shift I got at L3)
L9 Primal Wolf (set-up power for PP: Moonspeaker, which is a pronefest)
L10: Armor of the Wild (makes Primal Wolverine less painful, play Swarm Druid before it was released)

relevant background:
When I was born, a follower of the Spirit Way opened my soul to the Beast Within and also gave me a quote blessing unquote: I wild shape into an ostrich-hawk-monster-bird thing (fossil South American terror bird, but the character doesn't know that) unless I will otherwise.

Best complements I have yet received:

Show

Making it up as I go along:

{BRJN} If I was writing the Tome of Lore, I would let Auppenser sleep. But I also would have him dream. In his dreaming he re-activates the innate powers of (some) mortal minds. Or his dreaming changes the nature of reality - currently very malleable thanks to Spellplague &c. Or whatever really cool flavor text and pseudo-science explanation people react positively to.

{Lord_Karsus} You know, I like that better than the explanations for the Spellplague.

 

{BRJN} If Bhaal approves of The Joker, does he approve of Jack Nicholson's portrayal or Heath Ledger's protrayal more?

{stigger} That question is utterly classic, and completely on target.

 

Prepped ahead of time:

I started the thread "1001 Failed Interrogation Results" (which seems to have faded into that great electronic goodnight, alas)

{ADHadh} These are all good and make sense! I just can't come up with something that's not covered here and is not completely ridiculous.

 

My 4e characters:

Show

Active:

LFR Half-elf StarLock8 Gondolin Nightstar

AoA Dwarf Guardian Druid8 Narvik from House Wavir

Character Ready-to-go:

Neverwinter Dwarven Invoker / Heir of Delzoun, worships Silvanus (!) "Truenamer" - speaks Words of Creation

Concepts I'm kicking around:

"Buggy" Wizard - insect flavor on everything.  His DMPC version is going to become a Lamia.  Becauae lichdom is so cliche.

Halfling Tempest Fighter - just because nobody else is doing it

Shifter Beast-o-phile Druid - for Nentir Vale campaign

I've finished the Paragon tier powers (though I'm still having issues with what seems to be a character limit on the Heroic tier powers post).  Commentary is especially appreciated for the late Paragon tier stuff, because I have no gameplay experience beyond mid-Paragon.  Same will go for Epic tier, when I get around to that.

EDIT:  Also, I'm focusing on getting the powers all rated for now, but I'll address other comments after that; I haven't forgotten about them!
I'm trying to figure out the Wall of Stone example. You stated:

Wall of Stone (PHB2):  This power has AMAZING control potential.  You can use it to "seal off" a medium creature, which will then have to break through a square of the wall (which has 100 HP).  Here's how it works:  8 squares will completely surround the enemy, but a square is only 5 ft high so they can just step right over if you stop there.  Next place a square on top of one of the non-corner squares, so that one side is 2 squares high.  Place another square jutting off from the side of this top square, such that it forms a "lid" over the creature's head.  Voila!  You have a box!  Also useful if you need to completely block off a hallway.

PHB states that each square of the wall must share at least one side, but not more than two, with another wall, not counting squares stacked on top of another.

I tried to diagram it out using rudimentary text characters, but it got too silly. How are you getting around the rule about squares not connected to more than one other square to make a roof? I thought the RAI of not counting squares stacked on top of another was for vertical walls, which makes me think you cannot lay a 5x5 wall horizontally on top of 4 other walls (like I used to do as a kid making little houses out of playing cards).
I'm trying to figure out the Wall of Stone example.

PHB states that each square of the wall must share at least one side, but not more than two, with another wall, not counting squares stacked on top of another.

I tried to diagram it out using rudimentary text characters, but it got too silly. How are you getting around the rule about squares not connected to more than one other square to make a roof? I thought the RAI of not counting squares stacked on top of another was for vertical walls, which makes me think you cannot lay a 5x5 wall horizontally on top of 4 other walls (like I used to do as a kid making little houses out of playing cards).


This is the diagram from Molecule's Druid guide, Heart of the Wild:


Diagram below: 0 is enemy, X is wall, - is blank space.

At floor height:
XXX
X0X
XXX

One square above floor height:

---
-X-
-X-




I'll see if I can make a "side view" of the wall:

|_|_|
   |_|

Ok, so these are the wall "blocks" (since they're not really squares, but cubes), minus the tops because I couldn't figure out how to do that with text.  The "encircling" blocks that surround the creature are not drawn, except for the one with the block stacked on it (the corner block in this drawing).  The empty quadrant (bottom left) is where the creature is trapped.  While the edges of the "lid" touch the encircling blocks (on its lowest plane), the only block that the "lid" shares a whole side with is the stacked block (corner block in my diagram).  Here's a more complete (though more cluttered) diagram:

   |_|_|
|_|_|_|

The middle block on the bottom is where the creature would be trapped.


Don't forget the bit where it says the Wall of Stone has to be on a solid surface. I feel many DMs would rule the insta-jail invalid since the last square is hanging in mid air, not on a solid surface.

Been looking through the powers, and Wall of Stone is the only one i can see with that limitation. The of course could be more, i don't have a comprehensive list of wall powers before me.
Don't forget the bit where it says the Wall of Stone has to be on a solid surface. I feel many DMs would rule the insta-jail invalid since the last square is hanging in mid air, not on a solid surface.

Been looking through the powers, and Wall of Stone is the only one i can see with that limitation. The of course could be more, i don't have a comprehensive list of wall powers before me.


True, I could see some DMs ruling against the wall of stone jail cell.  I wouldn't say that the last square is just hanging in mid-air, though, as it's attached on one side to the stacked block.  It depends on how you conceptualize the wall, too.  Are there literally independent blocks that just happen to be adjacent?  Are there independent blocks that are attached to each other with magical mortar?  Or are blocks just an abstraction use to measure what is essentially a solid stone structure?  In the first interpretation, the top block would simply fall into the hole and violate the wall rules (since it would be adjacent to another block on all 4 sides).  I think it's more likely that RAI, the wall blocks are attached (otherwise you could push stacked blocks off of the blocks they're resting on, and there is no mention of that in the power). 

Note also that the "jail cell" doesn't use all 12 blocks that the wall allows.  For a more realistic setup, have 8 blocks surrounding the enemy and stack a block on two different sides across from each other.  This way the middle block forms the center of a stone arch (this uses 11 of the 12 squares).  As stone arches occur naturally, the stability of such a structure is much less dubious than the minimum-block diagram from Molecule's guide. 

EDIT:  Might as well draw out a diagram of this.  Here's the arch in side view (once again, forgive my lack of top lines on the blocks):

|_|_|_|
|_|  |_|
Yay! Thanks for the awesome guide
Very informative guide.  You give a lot of good insight to the options available.  I also enjoy the layout of feats/powers, etc.  I am really looking forward to the PP entries, as I just decided to make up a Druid for my third PC that I will be running in an upcoming party. 

Thanks,
Ramius
58074418 wrote:
I strive for the freedom from expectations so many enjoy here; I fear I have a long journey to that level of spiritual creaminess.
Don't forget the bit where it says the Wall of Stone has to be on a solid surface. I feel many DMs would rule the insta-jail invalid since the last square is hanging in mid air, not on a solid surface.

Been looking through the powers, and Wall of Stone is the only one i can see with that limitation. The of course could be more, i don't have a comprehensive list of wall powers before me.


True, I could see some DMs ruling against the wall of stone jail cell.  I wouldn't say that the last square is just hanging in mid-air, though, as it's attached on one side to the stacked block.  It depends on how you conceptualize the wall, too.  Are there literally independent blocks that just happen to be adjacent?  Are there independent blocks that are attached to each other with magical mortar?  Or are blocks just an abstraction use to measure what is essentially a solid stone structure?  In the first interpretation, the top block would simply fall into the hole and violate the wall rules (since it would be adjacent to another block on all 4 sides).  I think it's more likely that RAI, the wall blocks are attached (otherwise you could push stacked blocks off of the blocks they're resting on, and there is no mention of that in the power). 

Note also that the "jail cell" doesn't use all 12 blocks that the wall allows.  For a more realistic setup, have 8 blocks surrounding the enemy and stack a block on two different sides across from each other.  This way the middle block forms the center of a stone arch (this uses 11 of the 12 squares).  As stone arches occur naturally, the stability of such a structure is much less dubious than the minimum-block diagram from Molecule's guide. 

EDIT:  Might as well draw out a diagram of this.  Here's the arch in side view (once again, forgive my lack of top lines on the blocks):

|_|_|_|
|_|  |_|


Well you can destroy a Wall of Stone square by square, so in that particular wall's example, they are individual 'blocks', from a hit point perspective.

My personal opinion on the walls' consistency is that it's a solid structure; no mortar, magical or otherwise. The middle 'lid' block is definitely attached to an adjacent solid surface, but it is not 'on' a solid surface (like being 'next to' a camel or 'on' a camel, neither of which i would recommend; they are vicious beasts). And while arches and overhangs are indeed natural occurances and entirely feasible considering the control the caster has on it's creation ('a druid did it'), i don't think that was the game designer's intent. Of course, again, I may be wrong.

I can see this working with a Wall of Force, for a nice no-save, binding, autodamage force cage. Speaking of auto damage, if a DM would allow the Wall of Stone prison, and the trapped creature destroys the center 'lid', would the falling Difficult Terrain Rocks™ cause any injuries?

Hmmmm

Well you can destroy a Wall of Stone square by square, so in that particular wall's example, they are individual 'blocks', from a hit point perspective.


Even with the interpretation that the entire wall is one solid surface, it's not surprising that individual blocks would have their own HP.  The "square" (though cube would be more accurate) is the standard unit of measure on a battle grid, and destroying a block represents essentially punching a hole in the wall (attacks on one wall of an encircling structure logically damage the structural integrity at that specific point; punching a hole in the wall of your room doesn't cause a hole to appear on another wall).

My personal opinion on the walls' consistency is that it's a solid structure; no mortar, magical or otherwise. The middle 'lid' block is definitely attached to an adjacent solid surface, but it is not 'on' a solid surface (like being 'next to' a camel or 'on' a camel, neither of which i would recommend; they are vicious beasts).


IMO, an individual DM would be well within his/her rights to rule it that way, not allowing the creature to be sealed in with a "lid."  But given the interpretation that the entire wall is one contiguous object (which, I agree, is the most reasonable interpretation), then you could argue that as long as the entire structure is on a solid surface then there's no problem.  Think of it like a house; the roof isn't on a solid surface, but the walls are supporting it and they are.  Thus, the house as a whole is on a solid surface.  The Wall of Stone cage is structurally not all that different, especially given the "arch" setup which would be quite stable. 

I can see this working with a Wall of Force, for a nice no-save, binding, autodamage force cage. Speaking of auto damage, if a DM would allow the Wall of Stone prison, and the trapped creature destroys the center 'lid', would the falling Difficult Terrain Rocks™ cause any injuries?


I'm not sure I follow your Wall of Force example.  It doesn't seem overly problematic to me, as the entire wall has 200 HP but any destroyed section takes the whole thing out, whereas with Wall of Stone each section has 100 HP.  The damage dealt upon shattering the wall doesn't seem to be a problem either; even if it were set up just as a barrier, any melee enemies would take damage from that anyways.  Besides, it's a whole 6 levels higher than Wall of Stone so it had better be more effective!

In terms of autodamage, I personally wouldn't have it cause any.  The Wall's HP represents slowly chipping through the stone, with 0 HP being the final strike against the (now thin) remnants of the block.  Even if a single attack somehow did 100 damage, I still wouldn't say that the whole block falls on the enemy, but rather shatters into a bunch of little pieces, or possibly even disintegrates.  But one again, it's not covered by the rules and so it would ultimate be up to an individual DM.  My only advice would be to consult pg. 42 of the DMG Laughing