Hide Armor expertise solutions

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Ok, so first off, Hide Armor Expertise was broken and needed to die.  Sure, it was a "must have" feat for several barbarian, shaman, and druid builds, since it allowed you to ignore int and dex entirely and still have some of the highest AC in the game, but that wasn't the only problem: for two feats (multiclass primal +hae), Battleminds would have been able to tie their primary attack stat and their armor stat together, making them the most powerful defender ever.  Fixing HAE before PH3 came out was a smart move.

The problem is that the nerf went too far.  At level 1, it's just slightly better than chainmail proficiency for a barbarian and is debatably better for swarm (AC or armor reduction, which is worth more....) druids, but it doesn't go anywhere after that (and it's not any better than chainmail proficiency for all but the most minmaxed shamans, ever).  If you assume that everyone is upgrading their armor to a higher level of masterwork every time one becomes available, the AC progression for most if not all other classes in light armor amounts to about +1 for every 7 levels (+1 at 8th, 14th, 21st, and 28th levels) for their stats, while heavy armor users get a bonus +1 every 6 levels or so (6th, 11th, 21st, and 26th) from masterwork stats.  Can secondary-con barbarians and swarm druids even keep up? Do they get special feats that give them a leg up on other classes, AC-wise?  I know swarm druids aren't even allowed to use shields while transformed.

I've seen it suggested that HAE should provide a +2 bonus per tier: that's probably too high due to the barbarian agility bonus, but it would keep HAE in line with being comparable to getting chain mail proficiency.  I think the bonus should at least increase by +1 for paragon and epic (so +2/+3/+4), because the way things stand, Secondary-Con Barbarians and Swarm druids have to choose between having functional class features and having an AC progression that is at least as good as any other class in the game.  The +1 per tier would at least make Swarm druids have a meaningful choice between heavy and light armor: 2-3 AC or a damage reduction bonus.

Thoughts?
It was the only thing that balanced out melee rangers w/ ranged ones... bout to post my own thread on the subject
reread your post after i wrote my own thread, and bc they made a con based defender, they had to ruin the good thing they had

they could have the requirement "not usable by psionic classes" though that would tick people off...

i think runepriest is way worse than battlemind though. con based ldr?! um, wowzers
At first glance, I was happy about the change. I figured Hide Armor Expertise would be making your hide armor into heavy armor, and then all the AC scaling problems would have been done. But, as you point out, it's automatically behind chain by -1 right off the bat, falls -3 behind chain in paragon and -5 behind chain in epic levels.

Don't get me started on Second Skin. That's just odd; did they realize that lower AC for primal classes was bad in epic levels and their extra hp didn't make up for it?

Barbarian Agility is another problem entirely. It's bad, it always has been. Day one I showed how I could build a Str/Dex Barbarian and have comparable ACs to shield wearing defenders. Now that the Tempest Barbarian is out, it only gets worse.

Hybrid classing can already be used to get Con to AC in light armor from several classes, but that comes with its own baggage.

When I'm not using the character builder for my games, I've allowed "heavy hide" armor for a long time; it can be enhanced like leather or hide (since shaman enhancements are leather), it uses the same feats as hide, but its stats are that of chain (+6 AC,  scales like masterwork chains). I also allow "light chain", which uses chain feats and enhancements but hide stats (this is for people like tempest fighters who might want to still wear metal armor instead of hide to pair with their high Dex's).

Oh, and I remove barbarian Agility. This fixes the melee Ranger, the bear Shaman, and the Barbarian all in one fell swoop. Too bad I can't add these items into the compendium and have the math work. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Another problem with HAE - aside from its inferiority to chain, is that the feat actually becomes less effective as you advance.

Best case scenario, you've got a +0 mod in INT and DEX at 1st level when you take this feat.  So the feat is worth +2 AC.  Yaay.

But whether you choose to improve DEX/INT or not, you'll still have a +1 mod in it by level 21 due to automatic stat increases at 11th and 21st levels.  Which makes the feat half as useful at epic tier as it was at paragon and heroic.

While certain feats become less relevent as you advance in level and tier, HAE is the only feat (at least the only one I've found) that becomes mechanically less beneficial.

I agree with the +2/+3/+4 option for scaling, but even with that, it still bares noting that the feat fails to improve from paragon to epic.  If you've got a +0 INT/DEX at heroic, then the feat's good for +2 AC at heroic, +3 AC at paragon, and +3 AC at epic.  Maybe it should apply to AC and Reflex?

(incidentally, as much as my Rageblood Barbarian would love to see a 2/4/6 scaling feat, I feel that's way too much AC for a single feat - especially since many builds might abuse it by not even having a CON mod that high.  My barbarian was happy maxing CON at +5 - in fact, it might be a good idea to add the caveat: "up to a maximum bonus of your Constitution modifier" to any errata which increases this feat's bonus above +2) 
Setting Hide Armor Expertise as scalable would solve the problem in my opinion.  I'd prefer to see +2/3/4 per tier as a replacement for your DEX/INT, but I think that even +2/2/3 would be fine.

Light Armor Versatility:
When wearing light armor, you can gain a +2 bonus to AC instead of using your Dexterity or Intelligence modifier to determine your AC.  This bonus increases to +3 at paragon tier and +4 at epic tier.


Then they can go ahead and make as many light armor wearing classes as they want without worry about dex/int as primary or secondary stat.

Then they can go ahead and make as many light armor wearing classes as they want without worry about dex/int as primary or secondary stat.

Except Bear Shamans and V-shaped Warlocks, who are still screwed.  (At least Warlocks have Shadow Walk.  Errata Shamans to have hide already!)
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