Poll: Best Defender In your opinion and why?

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In your opinion and why? Please include builds.
Githyanki, Swordmage|Artificer  (not LFR legal do to Githyanki and mark of warding, use cindersoul genasi or some other race instead, and maybe deva heratage instead of mark of warding).

Level 6, 30 AC, every encounter almost all encounter long.  Pull out an aegis blade if you need to mark alot of people (and then drop it).  -3 to attack, and -9 to damage if they ignore you, and most guys will waste alot of attacks against you till they find out they need a 19+ to hit.

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Githyanki, Swordmage|Artificer
Swordmage Aegis (Hybrid): Aegis of Shielding
Hybrid Artificer: Hybrid Artificer Will
Hybrid Talent: Swordmage Warding
Background: Akanûl (Akanûl Benefit)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 10, Con 18, Dex 13, Int 20, Wis 10, Cha 8.


STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 10, Con 15, Dex 13, Int 17, Wis 10, Cha 8.



AC: 28 Fort: 17 Reflex: 20 Will: 16
HP: 56 Surges: 11 Surge Value: 14


TRAINED SKILLS
Endurance +12, History +15, Arcana +13


UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +4, Bluff +2, Diplomacy +2, Dungeoneering +3, Heal +3, Insight +3, Intimidate +2, Nature +3, Perception +3, Religion +8, Stealth +4, Streetwise +2, Thievery +4, Athletics +3


FEATS
Level 1: Hybrid Talent
Level 2: Weapon Proficiency (Spiked shield)
Level 4: Mark of Warding
Level 6: Improved Swordmage Warding


POWERS
Hybrid at-will 1: Static Shock
Hybrid at-will 1: Sword Burst
Hybrid encounter 1: Burning Weapons
Hybrid daily 1: Punishing Eye
Hybrid utility 2: Channeling Shield
Hybrid encounter 3: Transposing Lunge
Hybrid daily 5: Swordmage Shielding Fire
Hybrid utility 6: Regeneration Infusion


ITEMS
Magic Leather Armor +2, Boots of the Fencing Master (heroic tier), Rhythm Blade Spiked shield +2, Aegis Blade Longsword +1 (2)

@ Obsid
10 Base
5 Int mod
3 half level
2 leather
2 enhancement
1 fencing boots
3 swordmage warding
1 improved swordmage warding
27 total AC unless I'm missing something

You don't get a shield bonus from the spiked shield since you're not proficient with light shields, and since rhythm blade says your shield bonus increases by 1, you lose out on that too.
In your opinion and why? Please include builds.


My absolutely favorite (admittedly not best) Defender at the moment is a Changeling Paladin|Swordmage (Int/Cha).  It's the only defender I know of with good Reflex and Will.  Here's an LFR character I'm playing with:

Take Virtuous Strike (a Charisma melee basic) and use it in conjunction with an Assault Aegis. Take the Power of Arcana to make it an arcane power (and a +1 to hit). Beef it up with White Lotus feats for a catch-22 situation. Arcane Admixture: Cold + Wintertouched + Lasting Frost for frostcheese. Instead of spending a feat on Fullblade proficiency, use a Mage's Fullblade.

Wield the fullblade as your heavy blade implement in one hand to gain Swordmage Warding and free-action switch to 2 hands weapon before and after attacking (Wizards use this same strategy for staves).  Morninglord is the PP of choice (need to worship Amaunator and take Fickle Servant for Power of Arcana), but Academy Master is also a good option if you're not heading to level 16 or aren't in FR.  Still, Morninglord allows the Bless Weapon (18-20 crits, extra 1d6) abuse, especially with Salves of Power.

Rune Knight 11, level 11
Changeling, Paladin|Swordmage, Academy Master
Hybrid Paladin: Hybrid Paladin Reflex
Swordmage Aegis (Hybrid): Aegis of Assault
Hybrid Talent: Swordmage Warding
Background: Auspicious Birth, Waterdeep (Auspicious Birth Benefit)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 13, Dex 11, Int 21, Wis 9, Cha 21.

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

AC: 28 Fort: 18 Reflex: 24 Will: 24
HP: 96 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 24

FEATS
Level 1: Hybrid Talent
Level 2: Focused Expertise (Fullblade)
Level 4: Power of Arcana
Level 6: White Lotus Riposte
Level 8: Wintertouched
Level 10: Toughness (retrained to White Lotus Master Riposte at Level 11)
Level 11: Lasting Frost

POWERS
Hybrid at-will 1: Lightning Lure
Hybrid at-will 1: Virtuous Strike
Hybrid encounter 1: Valorous Smite
Hybrid daily 1: Majestic Halo
Hybrid utility 2: Bless Weapon
Hybrid encounter 3: Dimensional Vortex
Hybrid daily 5: Swordmage Shielding Fire
Hybrid utility 6: Armathor's Step
Hybrid encounter 7: Price of Cowardice
Hybrid daily 9: Ray of Reprisal
Hybrid utility 10: Winter's Arrival

ITEMS
Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Siberys Shard of Radiance (heroic tier), Magic Drowmesh +3, Mage's Fullblade +3, Amulet of Protection +2, Salve of Power (heroic tier)
There's one problem with that. True, using the fullblade as an implement one handed is fine, but you wouldn't gain your warding benefit from it unless you hold it 2 handed. To do otherwise wouldn't actually be wielding it, even if used as an implement. To actually wield a weapon requires you to be holding the weapon properly, ie. 2-handed weapons being held with both hands. That's what makes versatile weapons so much more effective. You do have the choice of 1 handed or 2 handed use with no true drawback other than lowered damage capacity.

Your final AC with that build should be:

10+5 (1/2 lvl)+5 (Int)+2 (leather)+3 (enh)+1 (warding)= 26 AC
@ Obsid
10 Base
5 Int mod
3 half level
2 leather
2 enhancement
1 fencing boots
3 swordmage warding
1 improved swordmage warding
27 total AC unless I'm missing something

You don't get a shield bonus from the spiked shield since you're not proficient with light shields, and since rhythm blade says your shield bonus increases by 1, you lose out on that too.



It only requires proficiency to get the bonus (at least RAW), I am proficent with a spiked shield (through the weapon proficency), and therefore get the shield bonus.  If you disagree, just swap out improved swordmage warding for light shield prof, and lose a point of AC.  You also forgot to count resistive formula and the +1 from mark of warding to resistive formula (I didnt count shifting with the boots, as its not a perm bonus).
Mmm there is no best defender, just different ones with their strength and weaknesses. I still prefer  Fighters because of their awesomeness, damage, stances and their ability to hold a enemies in check.

This is the fighter I been planning to play from level 1 to 30. A "cookie cutter" build I assume. It's as good as a guardian fighter gets IMO. Probably never reach level 30 but gotten to level 8 and I plan every power/feat before I start a character. Here it go:

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 30
Dwarf, Fighter, Pit Fighter, Adamantine Soldier
Build: Guardian Fighter
Fighter Talents: One-handed Weapon Talent

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 26, Con 20, Dex 12, Int 12, Wis 20, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 18, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8.


AC: 51 Fort: 43 Reflex: 36 Will: 42
HP: 224 Surges: 16 Surge Value: 61

TRAINED SKILLS
Heal +25, Endurance +25, Athletics +26

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +14, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +22, History +16, Insight +22, Intimidate +15, Nature +20, Perception +22, Religion +16, Stealth +14, Streetwise +15, Thievery +14

FEATS
Level 1: Dwarven Weapon Training
Level 2: Weapon Expertise (Axe)
Level 4: Armor Proficiency (Plate)
Level 6: Toughness
Level 8: Devoted Challenge
Level 10: Mark of Warding
Level 11: Dwarven Durability
Level 12: Armor Specialization (Plate)
Level 14: Reckless Attacker
Level 16: Marked Scourge
Level 18: Deadly Axe
Level 20: Grit (retrained to Axe Mastery at Level 21)
Level 21: Epic Recovery
Level 22: Slashing Storm (MP2)
Level 24: Allied Opportunity (MP2)
Level 26: Robust Defenses
Level 28: Dual Challenge (MP2)
Level 30: Epic Will

POWERS
Fighter at-will 1: Brash Strike
Fighter at-will 1: Tide of Iron
Fighter encounter 1: Hack and Hew (MP2)
Fighter daily 1: Comeback Strike
Fighter utility 2: Pass Forward
Fighter encounter 3: Sweeping Blow
Fighter daily 5: Rain of Steel
Fighter utility 6: Daring Shot
Fighter encounter 7: Come and Get It
Fighter daily 9: Thicket of Blades
Fighter utility 10: Mighty Surge
Fighter encounter 13: Bash and Pummel (replaces Hack and Hew) (MP2)
Fighter daily 15: Unyielding Avalanche (replaces Comeback Strike)
Fighter utility 16: Twisting Escape (MP2)
Fighter encounter 17: Minotaur Charge (replaces Sweeping Blow) (MP2)
Fighter daily 19: Strike of the Watchful Guard (replaces Thicket of Blades)
Fighter utility 22: Prescient Shield (MP2)
Fighter encounter 23: Warrior's Urging (replaces Come and Get It)
Fighter daily 25: Reaper's Stance (replaces Rain of Steel)
Fighter encounter 27: Cruel Reaper (replaces Bash and Pummel)
Fighter daily 29: Force the Battle (replaces Strike of the Watchful Guard)

ITEMS
Heavy Shield, Magic Godplate Armor +6, Magic Waraxe +6, Amulet of Protection +6
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

Quick Summary:
AC 51, Fort 43, Ref 36, Will, 42
HP: 224 Surges: 16, Surge Value 61
Basic Attack: 35 vs AC 2d12+21

Only added magic items to see his stats.

Will probably be things like:

Weapon: Jagged at paragon tier, Rending/defensive Waraxe at other tiers.

I have been considering using a Longsword/bastard Sword thou since Master's Blade is simply EPIC!!! at epic tier with the number of stances you can get. With a longsword I would probably choose a little different powers/feats and maybe Stats: (16,16,13,10,16,8)

Armor: Probably Dwarven Armor
Arms: Iron Armbands of Power or maybe Shield of Ultimate Defense at High Epic tier
Neck: Cloak of the Walking Wounded or Brooch of Vitality

You figure the rest

Added powers/feats from Martial Power 2 manually

Strengths:

-Great Damage for a guardian Fighter because of stances and fighter feats like Marked Scourge, Reckless Attacker, Slashing Storm and you get to add Wis mod to damage because of Pit Fighter.
- A very high AC and overall survivability yet you still should be "sticky" enough so that even solos won't ignore you because of high CC damage (Allied Opportunity, Mark of Warding, Devoted Challenge)
- Prescient Shield Stance is Gold against solos.
- Good at holding both single target and multiple enemies

Weaknesses:

- Few abilities to support his allies

Figured you wanted a build so I added this.
There's one problem with that. True, using the fullblade as an implement one handed is fine, but you wouldn't gain your warding benefit from it unless you hold it 2 handed. To do otherwise wouldn't actually be wielding it, even if used as an implement.


Holding an implement in one hand and wielding it are two different things.  Dual Implement Spellcaster would be an example denoting the difference.  You're mistaking it for the former.

A mage wields his quarterstaff in two hands to attack as a weapon, and wields it as a staff implement in one hand to cast spells. It is a free action to switch between and Swordmages can do the same.  Swordmage Warding's RAW states that you must wield a heavy blade, but does not require it be wielded as a weapon.  As a corollary, a dagger does not stop being a dagger if a Sorcerer uses it to cast spells, hence a Sorcerer/Daggermaster can still crit on an 18-20 with her spells cast through her dagger.  The same can be said of Swordmages - the blade is still being wielded.  It's an interpretation that's been backed up by Dragon Magazine articles and Customer Service queries (for what it's worth, then again they are RPGA legal sources).

@obsid
Aha, I had a hunch I was forgetting something.  Resistive formula is indeed very powerful.
There's one problem with that. True, using the fullblade as an implement one handed is fine, but you wouldn't gain your warding benefit from it unless you hold it 2 handed. To do otherwise wouldn't actually be wielding it, even if used as an implement.


Holding an implement in one hand and wielding it are two different things.  Dual Implement Spellcaster would be an example denoting the difference.  You're mistaking it for the former.

A mage wields his quarterstaff in two hands to attack as a weapon, and wields it as a staff implement in one hand to cast spells. It is a free action to switch between and Swordmages can do the same.  Swordmage Warding's RAW states that you must wield a heavy blade, but does not require it be wielded as a weapon.  As a corollary, a dagger does not stop being a dagger if a Sorcerer uses it to cast spells, hence a Sorcerer/Daggermaster can still crit on an 18-20 with her spells cast through her dagger.  The same can be said of Swordmages - the blade is still being wielded.  It's an interpretation that's been backed up by Dragon Magazine articles and Customer Service queries (for what it's worth, then again they are RPGA legal sources).

@obsid
Aha, I had a hunch I was forgetting something.  Resistive formula is indeed very powerful.



Customer Service has also stated the exact opposite as well regarding wielding 2-handed weapon in one hand. And they have stated it doesn't work. So it actually shows that once again CSR doesn't hold firm with their own rulings.

Also, there is no where that states a wizard has to wield a staff as a weapon to gain the effect of their implement mastery class feature, only that they have the feature available. Also, Daggermasters also don't state you have to use the dagger for weapon attacks, only that they be involved in the attacks themselves, which they are if used as an implement.

Wielding a weapon simply implies that you are able pose a threat with that weapon. Can you actually pose a viable threat, outside of your turn while holding any 2-handed weapon in only 1 hand? Otherwise, wand users, orb users, and any other implement type user could make opportunity attacks with those implements. If you're, as a Swordmage, and you're using a 2-handed heavy blade as an implement, you are no longer wielding a heavy blade, but are actually only using it as an implement.
Fighters and Balanced Paladins are tied as the better defenders. This is based on characters that do NOT take the Mark of Warding feat.

Fighters of any type have a mark that punishes when adjacent. An enemy cannot ignore a fighters mark unless they feel very lucky. A Fighter with feat support depending on the build can apply up to a -5 penalty to attacks not including him (and still be a -2 against him), immobilize and/or knock prone. Unlike Wardens, Fighters stop targets dead in their tracks and with feat support have the option of forced movement, immobilizing or knocking a target prone with opportunity attacks.

A Str/Cha Paladin can have a Divine Challenge that at times cannot be ignored. I say balanced and not strickly CHa or Str defenders because the primary Divine Challenge with Mighty Challenge will stack the base damage with Cha and Str. Divine Sanction is also very potent when Paladin's multi-mark. Unlike other defender marks the Paladin Challenge or Sanction is a No Action once per round, per mark. If a Paladin sanctions 5 enemies and all decide not to attack the paladin, they all take damage once they commit to the attack. This is an advantage over a Fighter who can only punish one marked target per round. However, this does say a Paladin's immediate action for utility powers and some daily attack powers which only add to their defender role.


It only requires proficiency to get the bonus (at least RAW), I am proficent with a spiked shield (through the weapon proficency), and therefore get the shield bonus.  If you disagree, just swap out improved swordmage warding for light shield prof, and lose a point of AC.  You also forgot to count resistive formula and the +1 from mark of warding to resistive formula (I didnt count shifting with the boots, as its not a perm bonus).


Not RAW.
Proficiency with the spiked shield is required to get the proficiency bonus to attack.
Light Shield proficiency is required to get the shield bonus to defense.

Resistive Formula is awesome.


 
A Str/Cha Paladin can have a Divine Challenge that at times cannot be ignored. I say balanced and not strickly CHa or Str defenders because the primary Divine Challenge with Mighty Challenge will stack the base damage with Cha and Str. Divine Sanction is also very potent when Paladin's multi-mark. Unlike other defender marks the Paladin Challenge or Sanction is a No Action once per round, per mark. If a Paladin sanctions 5 enemies and all decide not to attack the paladin, they all take damage once they commit to the attack. This is an advantage over a Fighter who can only punish one marked target per round. However, this does say a Paladin's immediate action for utility powers and some daily attack powers which only add to their defender role.



I disagree. Balanced Paladin is a trap choice. I've seen a lot of Str/Cha builds, and all of them shoot themselves in the foot at some point. DP only made it worse with Mighty Challenge, because now it looks like it's a good idea, but it is not. If you're worried about Divine Challenge damage, use radiant vulnerability.

Your main problem is that a lot of the good Paladin stuff depends on his Wisdom secondary, and if you gimp that, you miss out on power rider effects, lay on hands etc. Even worse, most of the Str/Cha builds are Dragonborn with a Con 12 or worse, and completely waste their racial Healing Surge bonus. Why!?

So, either go Str / Wis or Cha / Wis. You gain nothing from two high attack stats, there are so many powers out there now that you'll find something good for either Str or Cha at every level. Learn the distinction between Str and Cha Paladins:

Str - Melee weapon powers, single target, high damage
Cha - Implement close burst, multitarget, low damage, crowd control

These are completely different strategies, that demand different powers, different feats, different equipment. And you need to decide on one, it's pointless to go for both.
AC: 28 Fort: 17 Reflex: 20 Will: 16



That's not a 6th level defender, that is crap. You went through hoops to boost your AC beyond what's useful, but your NADs are low enough for an easy hit. With a 12 points lower Will and 11 points lower Fort than your AC, what monsters will the DM use against you?

I've written it many times, there is a narrow band of good AC for a Defender: 16+level to 20+level.

Go below that, and you're a waste of party resources, as you draw monster attacks but can't shake them off. Go above that, and monsters will a) ignore you and attack your allies or b) attack your NADs.

Look at your feat choices:

Level 1: Hybrid Talent
Level 2: Weapon Proficiency (Spiked shield)
Level 4: Mark of Warding
Level 6: Improved Swordmage Warding



Of these, one is a good choice (#4), the rest is crap that you can cut if you stop trying to cheat the system and just build a solid, straightforward swordmage that can get stuff done.

Just look at your melee basic attack. Str 10, with a spiked shield? +5 to hit, 1d6 damage (w/o enchantment) at 6th level? Is that a joke? You never charge or make opportunity attacks?
Normal swordmages with the right feats (say intelligent blademaster, bastard sword proficiency and focused expertise) have something like +12 / 1d10+5 at that point.
Agreed; the best Defender is not a "Highest AC" competition; a Defender needs to present a credible threat.

As far as my favorites, I'll go with the following (sorry, no builds now... maybe later):

1A. Fighter --> hits hard (so I don't miss playing a Striker, which is what I usually go for), super sticky, build variability galore, works very well with most parties
1B. Swordmage --> unique but very effective style, plenty of AoE's and control, works well with certain parties
2. Paladin --> healing for some crazy durability, punishes multiple creatures, has cool synergies with Radiant abuse and White Lotus
3. Warden --> more HP than anybody else, multimarking ability galore
I stopped playing my Avenger once WotC started messing around with it too much. While I play other strikers from time to time I've moved on to my Eldarin Shielding Swordmage/Sigil Carver and I absolutely love it. Sure I'm not doing loads of damage but I can sweep minions, lock down enemies, and make many of their attacks completely ineffective. They seem to have far more flavor than other defenders (Paladin=Holy Fighter, Warden=Hippie Fighter, Battlemind=Special Needs Fighter).

I always root for the Fighter, because I'm an athiest. I'd rather play something that doesn't make me role play religion, but the fighter features always end up a mix of defense/offense. I like my defender to be DEFENDERS.

1. Paladin
- mark dmg is 100% accurate
- mark dmg can be dealt at range, wardens and fighters only ever get reach 2
- mark dmg does not use an action, so if you mark 5 enemies, you can use mark dmg on 5 enemies, Fighters and Wardens only ever triggers once per round
- mark dmg is radiant

Also, preferred paragon path is Hospitaler, so now Divine Challenge heals the attacked ally. This furthers discourages the montser from attacking allies.

Purely on a basis of aggro, the paladin is hard to argue with, but what about defense?
- start with Plate and +1 to all defenses
- great feat selection. Honored Foes brings in a steady flow of temp HP, Virtuousy recovery gives you resistance. Some nice exclusive options for defense

Also, Lay of hands isn't truly a defensive power, but it keeps you alive all the same.

My Defender Opt philosophy is that you want to stack Aggro and Defense as high as you can. For example, when picking feats you can use a pattern of agrro feat, defense feat, agrro feat...

1. Mark of Warding
2. Toughness
4. Astral fire
6. Virtuous recovery

Then you have a back and forth between aggro and defense management. You need both to do your job. Its important to remember that doing dmg on your turn isn't aggro. Monsters don't really care whether you did 20 or 30 dmg with your encounter powers. What counts is how much punishment you can do with your mark.

More Often. Mark Hard.

I'd go Fighter as the best Defender. Lot's of Options around, and sticky to the max. Defender do their business on threats of punishments and Fighter do well at this, limiting your choices or increasing their risk. Not the best for Multi-Marks, but overall on top of my Defender's List.


1. Paladin
- mark dmg is 100% accurate
- mark dmg can be dealt at range, wardens and fighters only ever get reach 2
- mark dmg does not use an action, so if you mark 5 enemies, you can use mark dmg on 5 enemies, Fighters and Wardens only ever triggers once per round
- mark dmg is radiant



I am not too sure the bold part is right unless i didn't understand what you said. In some cases, it will be up their Reach, which isn't necessarly topped at 2 with the different options out there.

Warden do normally Mark adjacent target only, using Nature's Wrath, but the punishment it will trigger will be wether up to it's Reach for Warden's Fury or up to 5 squares away for Warden's Grasp.

Fighters do normally Mark up to their Reach depending on the attack they'll use since they can Mark on every attack they make. But the punishment it will Trigger, Combat Challenge, only trigger by adjacent Marked enemy.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I don't know... my Polearm Master can use Combat Challenge at reach.
I don't know... my Polearm Master can use Combat Challenge at reach.



No he shouldn't. The Polearm Master's Feature Longarm Grasp doesn't let you use CC within your Reach.

Precisely what it do is that whenever an enemy within 2 squares of you and marked by you shifts or makes an attack that doesn’t include you as a target, you can make a melee basic attack against that enemy as an immediate interrupt.

Though this Feature uses an Immediate Interrupt to make an MBA, it's not Combat Challenge how similar it can be. Many Feats can benefit CC that wound't work with Longarm Grasp. Difference here.

Normally that's how Fighters and Wardens work but different Options out there can alter how they work or mimic certain aspect of them. So i just was saying how they generally work.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I don't know... sounds like Combat Challenge to me, just reflavored. Except I don't do all that silly stuff. Just immobilize them.

Pinning Challenge. A real defender feat.
I don't know... sounds like Combat Challenge to me, just reflavored. Except I don't do all that silly stuff. Just immobilize them.

Pinning Challenge. A real defender feat.



Reflavored ? Not really. It's an entirely different ability here, that uses the same Trigger, the same Immediate Action and the same attack, an MBA.

But if let's say an enemy you Marked is now adjacent and makes an attack not including you or Shift, you will have the opportunity to use one of the two options, Combat Challenge or Longarm Grasp. Sure they do the same thing almost. Where Longarm Grasp let you use it with more versatility, at a higher Reach, Combat Challenge have many options that can be keyed to it that would not kick in if you would use Longarm Grasp. The Feat Vigilant Justice letting you use the At-Will Brash Strike with CC for exemple,would not be usable with Longarm Grasp, as any other Feats that alter or benefits Combat Challenge.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Right now I'm liking the looks of the Avernian Knight PP in MP2. You have all the benefits of the normal Fighter mark, plus automatic fire damage (based on Con) to enemies that ignore it. The damage isn't quite as good as a Paladin mark and the damage type isn't as favorable, but it's still stacked on top of the normal Fighter mark enforcement abilities. I'm playing a hammer wielding Battlerager Fighter in a campaign that's just starting up, and level 16 can't get here fast enough.
I'd go Fighter as the best Defender. Lot's of Options around, and sticky to the max. Defender do their business on threats of punishments and Fighter do well at this, limiting your choices or increasing their risk. Not the best for Multi-Marks, but overall on top of my Defender's List.


1. Paladin
- mark dmg is 100% accurate
- mark dmg can be dealt at range, wardens and fighters only ever get reach 2
- mark dmg does not use an action, so if you mark 5 enemies, you can use mark dmg on 5 enemies, Fighters and Wardens only ever triggers once per round
- mark dmg is radiant



I am not too sure the bold part is right unless i didn't understand what you said. In some cases, it will be up their Reach, which isn't necessarly topped at 2 with the different options out there.

Warden do normally Mark adjacent target only, using Nature's Wrath, but the punishment it will trigger will be wether up to it's Reach for Warden's Fury or up to 5 squares away for Warden's Grasp.

Fighters do normally Mark up to their Reach depending on the attack they'll use since they can Mark on every attack they make. But the punishment it will Trigger, Combat Challenge, only trigger by adjacent Marked enemy.




Actually you are right, I was referring to polearm master for fighters, and the Warden's Fury for wardens. Hence, a warden with reach 3 could mark at 3, but practically Im not sure how often that happens. That would require both a polearm plus some kind "increase reach by 1 for x duration" power. I could amend my sentence to something that includes those scenarios.

I don't really care about Wardens Grasp though, all it does is slide 1 square and hamper movement after the attack. That's not really intimidating anybody. A monster can just shift, attack an ally and slide back to the warden with only a -2 penalty to attacks. Without the dmg from a free attack, the Warden is only effectively marking at his reach in my view. I would never play a Warden without a polearm.

Hence I put warden's at 3. Swordmage as for as I know can only apply their cool mark power to 1 enemy, which makes them like paladins without Divine Sanction. Swordmages seem to need a divine sanctionish ability to catch up to the other 3.

 Swordmage as for as I know can only apply their cool mark power to 1 enemy, which makes them like paladins without Divine Sanction. Swordmages seem to need a divine sanctionish ability to catch up to the other 3.



At Paragon the can mark up to 2 enemies in their burst for a feat, at Epic they can mark any in burst by swapping for the better feat.
Also if you read through the swordmage's encounter and daily powers many offer extra marks, some with the benefit of your aegis.
1. Fighter
2. Swordmage at Paragon
3. Avenger Sealed
4. Paladin
5. Warden 
1. Shielding Swordmage (best mark, good options)
2. Fighter (decently sticky, high damage, easy to abuse polearms)
3. Chaladin (sanctions)
4. Warden (extremely sticky, but low damage)
5. Assault Swordmage (good damage, bad at protecting)
6. Ensnaring swordmage (at least it's sort of sticky)
7. Straladin (weak sanction, but at least it can be decently built for damage)

3. Avenger Sealed



An Avenger can achieve high AC, but that doesn't make him a Defender.
People make that weird assumption that "high AC = tank" for some reason, when forced movement, an ability to get in your opponent's face consistently, and plenty of healing surges (and ways to expend them) will make you a better defender than god-tier AC ever will.
I'd say fighter or shielding swordmage for number 1. Straladin with a holy symbol of champions code (for a free boost to divine challenge and divine sanction damage) is not bad either.
1. Shielding Swordmage (best mark, good options)
2. Fighter (decently sticky, high damage, easy to abuse polearms)
3. Chaladin (sanctions)
4. Warden (extremely sticky, but low damage)
5. Assault Swordmage (good damage, bad at protecting)
6. Ensnaring swordmage (at least it's sort of sticky)
7. Straladin (weak sanction, but at least it can be decently built for damage)




I think your list is the highest I've ever seen the Warden ranked. Here I was thinking they were terrible...and yet still making one for a new campaign anyway. :D Then again, I have run a Starlock since 4E dropped, so I'm used to playing gimps!
The Starlock isn't gimped; it's just hard to build.

That being said, Wardens aren't that terrible. You don't have much options beyond control, but at least they do that pretty well, and they have the ability to survive the consequences of keeping enemies in their face 24/7.

Best = most fun.

Overpowered is not fun.  It usually means less fun for the DM and other players.  Even if they're on board and enjoy you playing an overpowered PC, it usually means the DM is throwing tougher monsters at the party - which rockets them through the levels much faster than they should.  The better the PC, the less time you get to enjoy them.

Instead, I look for PCs that are the most fun to play.  What makes a PC fun to play? 

1.) Dynamic.  A dynamic PC is a PC that gets to do different things and can bring a bunch of different approaches to solving problems.  Their powers each feel different, and do different things.  I like a PC that fills their role, but can contribute a bit to each of the other roles.  Accordingly, a good defender to me needs to be able to offer a bit of control (minion sweeping, conditions), leadership (healing, making the other PCs more effective) and striking (high damage against solos, elites, etc...) while being a solid defneder (battlefield control, providing defense, etc...) 

A dynamic PC does these things through different abilities.  They did a pretty good job with the fighter in making it dynamic, but it is less dynamic that the other defenders because it is hard to add these dynamic aspects without using magic as an explanation.  The other defenders tend to have more dynamic powers because the designers were not limited in explaining the powers by the absence of supernatural explanaions.

2.) Capable in non-combat aspects of the game.  4E combat is fun, but there is more to the game.  I like PCs that can do things outside of combat to shape the direction of a game.  PCs with the stealth to sneak around and spy are fun.  PCs that can interact with the maffia in the big city are fun.  PCs that can hob-nob with the social elite and play a role in politics are fun.  To do these things, PCs need the right combination of skills and prime ability scores.  I look for classes that tend to have high charisma, dexterity and wisdom and have access to the skills based on those ability scores.  Right now, I rank the defenders as follows for non-combat base potential: Battlemind, Paladin, Fighter, Warden, Swordmage. 

Despite not being well suited to non-combat role playing, defenders can usually pick up a skill or two via multi-class feats or other techniques to give them the aspects they need to increase their role playing opportunities in a city setting, etc...

3.) Appealing.  In the end, the most important things to me is if the types of abilities that the PC has seem like fun to ME.  Do you think teleporting is fun?  If so, that certainly makes swordmage a solid choice.  Is the nature gimmick your personal favorite?  If so, warden.  Do you like the idea of strong personalities and religion?  Paladin works there.

I think they're all good, but I'd say the defender I most want to try right now is a battlemind.  They have interesting RPG opportunities built in, are not typical brutes with high strength and have intriguing powers...  Perhaps a bit underpowered compared to the other defender classes (based on the limited amount we've seen), but interesting.

D&D & Boardgames If I have everything I need to run great games for many years without repeating stuff, why do I need to buy anything right now?

1. Fighter
2. Swordmage at Paragon
3. Avenger Sealed
4. Paladin
5. Warden 



I couldn't dissagree more. Even if you hate wardens, a warden is 10x the defender that an avenger is. High hps, Good defenses (all not just ac), high surges (and things to do with them), consistant marks and penalties for ignoring them, and high threat are all equally as important. Avengers are flat out just not tanks.


1. Fighter
2. Swordmage at Paragon
3. Avenger Sealed
4. Paladin
5. Warden 



I couldn't disagree more. Even if you hate wardens, a warden is 10x the defender that an avenger is. High hps, Good defenses (all not just ac), high surges (and things to do with them), consistant marks and penalties for ignoring them, and high threat are all equally as important. Avengers are flat out just not tanks.


i dunno I could make a decent avenger tank, at least over a warden.

hp wise the avenger will be only 1 hp/lvl less and some con lower in hp (they get 6hp/lvl) compared to the warden.

pursuit avenger is basicly locking down a mob. Ac will be high as well as Will and Ref just losing out on fort.

with battle awareness and using a polearm/spear and the polearm momentum feat they can push a mob 2 and knock it prone with an at-will (focused fury) and they get lots of encounters that will push or slide all adjacent mobs two or more squares and those will also be prone giving your teammate and you lots of time to beat down each foe with giving them little chance to attack back (unless its a range mob but than most defenders will have the same problem with a few exceptions).

and these are just a few things off the top of my head, given time I could come up with other ways to be more tankish but still letting the char feel like an avenger and striker. Like the char below, granted AC might be a little low, though from what I read target AC is lvl +14 so its not to bad. This guy is able to push and knock prone a mob 5 squares while keeping one close for the party to beat on with an at-will, and if start looking at the encounters, utilities and dailies he can do it to lots of mob at once while keeping one to focus on. Marks with his OoE. Yeah i know the PP isn't anything special its more for favor.

while in a normal party of 5 with this guy as a "tank" that leaves 2 More strikers, 1 leader and one controller. With the added damage of the third tank/striker the mob dies pretty quick.

But eh to each there own.

I vote for shielding swordmage as I am playing one now and the reduction to damage is a huge help along with marking two mobs that don't have to be next to me. As of right now I mark two mobs than move away and engage a third. No one on my team except me has been bloodied in a long time and rarely that cause of the temp hp gained when shielding a teammate.

title


====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
level 17
Longtooth Shifter, Avenger, Moonstalker
Avenger's Censure: Censure of Pursuit

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 14, Con 14, Dex 20, Int 11, Wis 22, Cha 9.

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


AC: 33 Fort: 27 Reflex: 29 Will: 30
HP: 124 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 31

TRAINED SKILLS
Religion +13, Athletics +17, Perception +19, Acrobatics +18, Endurance +17

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +8, Bluff +7, Diplomacy +7, Dungeoneering +14, Heal +14, History +8, Insight +14, Intimidate +7, Nature +14, Stealth +13, Streetwise +7, Thievery +13

FEATS
Level 1: Battle Awareness
Level 2: Improved Armor of Faith
Level 4: Oath Strike
Level 6: Polearm Momentum
Level 8: Weapon Focus (Axe)
Level 10: Weapon Expertise (Axe)
Level 11: Painful Oath
Level 12: Paragon Defenses
Level 14: Avenging Resolution
Level 16: Halo of Isolation

POWERS
Avenger at-will 1: Focused Fury
Avenger at-will 1: Overwhelming Strike
Avenger encounter 1: Relentless Attack
Avenger daily 1: Thunder and Echo
Avenger utility 2: Agile Recovery
Avenger encounter 3: Sequestering Strike
Avenger daily 5: Dance of Flame
Avenger utility 6: Wrath of the Divine
Avenger encounter 7: No Respite
Avenger daily 9: Blade of Repulsion
Avenger utility 10: River of Life
Avenger encounter 13: Weaving Blades (replaces Sequestering Strike)
Avenger daily 15: Oath of the Many (replaces Dance of Flame)
Avenger utility 16: Pillar of Chernoggar
Avenger encounter 17: Warding Blade (replaces Relentless Attack)

ITEMS
Controlling Halberd +4, Repulsion Feyweave Armor +4, Amulet of Protection +4, Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Gauntlets of the Ram (heroic tier), Circlet of Arkhosia (paragon tier), Belt of Vim (heroic tier), Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier)
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======

QFT when it comes to avengers being better defenders than wardens(and i say this as a guy who likes and plays a warden).


A pursuit avenger(best for this example) has nearly the best defenses(cept Fort), best accuracy and really good damage. Sometimes the best way to defender the party is to be the biggest threat.  true wardens get controller powers and they have a mark, there really is no punishment if the monster shifts away to attack someone else. Slide 1 and slow until end of their turn? Really? As opposed to gaining +10 to damage(paragon) for a turn if the monster shifts away from the avenger? I would be more afraid of taking more damage if I were a monster.

For the record(avenger would be between assault swordmage and charisma paladin)

1. Fighter
2. Shielding Swordmage
3. Balanced Paladin
4. Charisma Paladin
5. Assault Swordmage
6. Strength Paladin(Defending through doing good damage works)
7. Battlemind (Only because you dont have to hit to punish, otherwise warden would be better)
8. Warden
9. Ensnaring Swordmage







Battlerager fighter optimized for survivability. Just focus on forcing the enemy to go through you, and then smack him senseless while he desperately tries to take you down. Here's the link to the build in-depth:
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...(Please_critique;_Warning_-_long_post)?pg=1 

The original core books said that this was our game too. It doesn't feel like that anymore.

Ensnaring Swordmage is awesome at Paragon :D
If you play in a small party, say 4 or less, an Avenger/Cleric/Warpriest is a pretty solid defender. They are better as an off-tank to help a weaker defender build. Not only do you get a mark (lvl 16+), but the Avenger has great control capabilities, something thats moderately useful as a striker but exponentially more useful as a defender.

But since people are coming up with random rankings, here are mine:

1a) Shielding Swordmage - The battle for first is merely a matter of experience. I've played both but have had a better experience, especially from Paragon on, with a Swordmage.

1b) Some Fighters - Namely Sword & Board, Polearm, and Battleragers who use a shield. Whenever I think of these guys I think of every Ford or Chevy truck commercial. They just go on and on about being dependable, tough, long lasting, yada yada... But its the truth. Few classes are as dependable as the fighter.

2) Paladins - And they really aren't that much further behind Fighters and Swordmages. My biggest problem with Paladins is that they're MAD. It seems like its easier to build a bad Paladin than it is for other defenders. Once you get a grasp of what you want to do though they're just pretty darn great.

3) Other Swordmages - Assault lends itself to striker potential but more importantly lets you MC with other Strength based defenders quite well. Ensnaring is stronger than it looks, but doesn't really distinguish itself well enough against the two other Swordmage builds.

4) Other Fighters - Namely Tempest, Great Weapon/Battlerager, and the new Brawler Style. The first two are defenders with a dash of Striker. Cool but not always as good at defending against multiple threats as well as other defenders. Brawlers are actually more controller-ish. Nice, but if you're grabbing onto one guy, you're not defending against the others.

5) Wardens - I really want to like them, but they just come off as nature clones of Fighters and Paladins. Saving at the beginning of your turn is the only unique and cool thing they get to do, and thankfully for them its powerful enough to even be considered. Otherwise they rely on Daily powers more than any other defender. Even at their peak they're only reliable 4 encounters per day.

6) Striker/Defender Builds - I'm looking at Avengers, Barbarians, and Warlocks who MC into a Defender classes (not Hybrids, thats a whole other can of worms). I'm sure folks can come up with great theoretical builds for these role bending classes, but in the end they're best served as secondary defenders backing up a weak defender (ie Tempest Fighters, Wardens, etc).

7) Battleminds - These are last for the simple reason that there is very little on them. Even when the PHB 3 drops there will only be 2 builds with a dozen or so pages of powers. I guess thats fine if you're starting a new Heroic tier campaign. I see more problems for them in the future though. I think the Power Point system is clunky for a defender. You'll only ever really have 3-4 powers. Sure you can augment them and increase some little fiddly bit but in the end spending Power Points doesn't net you a new power, just a stronger version of weak at-wills. At epic none of their powers scale so you're probably better just sticking with your lower cost Heroic and Paragon powers since you'll get more out of your power points this way. Their mark also seems to carry the weakest punishment as well. More data is simply needed on these guys.
I'm fairly certain the warden rankings aren't taking Wildblood Speed in to account.
I'm fairly certain the warden rankings aren't taking Wildblood Speed in to account.


Its a good feature but it only applies to one type of Warden. Considering how fighters now have access to Combat Agility without the cost of a feat, Wardens still aren't gaining any ground here.
The thread has already broken out fighter, paladin, and swordmage by build (or at least by primary stat).  We might as well continue that trend and review the warden types separately, too. 

Combat Agility is... nice.  But it's an immediate reaction to the wildblood's free action / immediate interrupt, and the warden can continue to take those free actions (if not the interrupt strike) so long as marked foes keep attacking his allies.  That's damage and combat advantage against one foe, and combat advantage against a second. 

I'm not saying the wildblood warden competes with the paragon-and-up shielding swordmage for the top spot, but it surely does rate higher than its tough-as-stone-and-just-as-mobile CON-build brethren.
The thread has already broken out fighter, paladin, and swordmage by build (or at least by primary stat).  We might as well continue that trend and review the warden types separately, too. 

Combat Agility is... nice.  But it's an immediate reaction to the wildblood's free action / immediate interrupt, and the warden can continue to take those free actions (if not the interrupt strike) so long as marked foes keep attacking his allies.  That's damage and combat advantage against one foe, and combat advantage against a second. 

I'm not saying the wildblood warden competes with the paragon-and-up shielding swordmage for the top spot, but it surely does rate higher than its tough-as-stone-and-just-as-mobile CON-build brethren.


Perhaps we just need better competitive analysis of various Warden builds. I've said it before, but every time I've tried to play a Warden or seen a new one crop up at the table they always fail at their main role of being a defender when compared to other defenders. In my own break down I rate Wardens low because of this. Until I see one in play that is as good as other Swordmages, Fighters, and Paladins I've seen played I'm going to stand by words.

I do welcome the opportunity to be proven wrong!