Idea: Another (quasi) Defender helps significantly to keep enemies in check, but dedicating a whole extra character to it makes the party lack in other areas.
Basis: The Warlord is already a frontline geared character, while still bringing full Leader support to the fight. But he lacks stickyness and can be overwhelmed easily if not carefully played.
Solution: The feat Risky Charge (Bravura Presence), preferably paired with Boots of Adept Charging and a reach weapon, provides that lockdown while consuming very little resources. The large support and excellent stat choice of the Warlord opens up enough options to achieve any desired customisation.
-- works already at first level (only one feat required and one level 2 magic item desired)
-- achieves almost complete lockdown of most mobs
-- still a fully capable Leader
-- can border Striker mobility and damage if optimised for it
-- huge customisation possibilites
-- locks the choice of the Commanding Presence (lest you use a variant build)
-- must be able to charge and hit to achieve at-will lockdown (encounter tricks available to get around that)
-- can backfire if played too reckless
How It Works
The key to lock down mobs (short of a full Stun / Dominate) it to deny them their move action, so they cannot shift and/or charge as they please. While difficult terrain can do that, we cannot rely on it and might be hampered by it ourselves. Thus players employ conditions to manufacture favourable situations - Mark plus punishment for Defenders, but also Daze, Prone and Immobilise are the most common, and Slow can work sometimes as well.
In this build we rely on the ability to knock Prone provided by the Risky Charge feat. To avoid retaliation when we miss, we use a reach weapon, although other options like high defense are possible. Afterwards we use the free shift from the Boots of Adept Charging to reposition ourselves such that the mob is stuck in lose/lose situation. Against ranged mobs we shift adjacent, which forces them to either fall back to their weaker melee attack or suffer an OA because they couldn't shift away. Against melee mobs we stay one square away in their charge deadzone and position us between them and our allies, so they either can't attack, must charge another ally and be punished by an OA from us, or crawl and stay Prone for another round, with all penalties attached. Reach mobs are a bit of a problem, but as we're only a secondary Defender that's acceptable, as we can still lower their options significantly. Furthermore we have hampered the ability of the mobs to focus fire in any case.
Smart selection of our powers lets us either employ our buffs while charging or out of turn as full extra attacks.
Eladrin deserve special mention, as they are very capable Spear users, Intlords and (Fey)Chargers, and Half-Elfs shine as usual due their ability to pick a non-class at-will, which in particular benefits chargers.
As always remember to check your specific racial options, as they usually offer some very good picks.
Combat Leader is the standard go-to choice due its great impact and the chance to improve it with high enough Int/Cha at Paragon. Battlefront Leader is a solid alternative as the free shift can be of high tactical value, and you also get some very tasty defensive benefits.
If you want to hybrid, Defenders seem nice but are somewhat superflous with this build, although Paladins and Swordmages (with some twinking here and there) still are quite a good choices. You rather should aim for optimising your damage output, particularly on charges, which makes both Barbarians as well as Rangers an excellent choice. These options are discussed in detail below under variants.
Charisma is the typical Bravura stat, and it offers a very good choice of defensive and some solid offensive buffs. It's also a common Leader stat in other classes, and opens up the option to MC Paladin to gain a powerful encounter Mark and access to more buffs. This is best if you expect to often operate alone and also the default recommendation.
Intelligence is the most aggresive choice, and although you are no Taclord many powers as the famous Lead the Attack just care for Int in general. This is best if you expect to often hunt with a melee ally.
Wisdom is newer and less supported, although it is set to be a mixture of the Cha and Int approaches, geared more for ranged combat. It also offers significant benefit for MCing into Fighter, Ranger and Cleric, which offer the best benefit in feat and PP options outside your class, and let's you get Polearm Gamble. This is best if you expect to hang back among your ranged allys and protect them from anything that makes it past the frontline.
Constitution and Dexterity are not primary stats for you, but they have many general benefits as Initiative or Healing Surges, and are often crucial to qualify for feats.
All together it may look like this build suffers serious MAD issues, but I can assure you that such is not the case. It's rather that every attribute offers a tangible benefit to your build, and the key is to decide with one or two secondary and tertiary attributes match your playstyle and thus powers and feats best.
At Paragon you can further increae your deadliness by picking up Polearm Gamble if you have Wis 15, although it's strictly optional. The CA is a little price for the extra OA, although you can invest into Uncanny Dodge if you really care. The Fighter's Polearm Momentum is not so sweet in this case due many somewhat exclusive choices, although it's possible. If you want to stop enemies from getting adjacent you could rather get Antipathy Gloves and MC Warden for Sudden Roots, which is both less of an investment and more widely useful. At last Repel Charge is a bit more conditional but requirement free alternative.
Hafted Defense gets a recommendation here, while other weapon related feats like Polearm Flanker are rather situational or stat dependent.
You will find that today the Warlord and his usual MC options are so well supported that you won't be able to buy even every really good feat you might want. That's not an issue but more of a luxury problem. You should rather consider you favourite implementation of this build and, as natural for every Leader, how your group will be composed.
Charge based enchantments as Vanguard or Thundergod are the frontrunners, although a Hungry Spears offer good versatility and Frost or Radiant Spears (plus Siberys Shards and Gloves of Ice for Frost / Morninglord PP for Radiant) provide significant damage enhancement, which is well placed on you as Leader, so you can debuff for your allies as well. A General's or Overreaching Spear can help you deal with reach mobs at higher levels. Some other enchantments are possible, but more situational.
Glaives are an alternative to get into Heavy Blades, but you will seldom profit from your own prone with Headman's Chop and Heavy Blade Opportunity doesn't do much for you.
Whips require a feat (either regular Surperior Weapon Training or the even better Whip Training, which in return takes up your MC slot), but are accurate, have reach, let you keep your shield and grant you access to some interesting Flail related style feats and PPs. A Spiked Chain works somewhat similar as double weapon with Spiked Chain Training.
Intlords have a bit more freedom to pick up Hide, which has no speed penalty, access to the charge friendly Marauder's Armor or the strong Displacer Armor, although Tactician's Armor has a place in case you didn't fully max your Int.
As usual you should pick up Iron Armbands of Power, and if not otherwise slotted either Gauntlets of Blood or Strikebacks as Gloves.
Your headslot sees fierce competition between the Horned Helmet as charge enhancer, and the more specific Helm of Heroes to enhance your granted attacks.
Badge of the Berserker is solid to spare you OAs if you like deep charges, but usually it shouldn't be necessary. Rather pick up a more defensive enchantment for your Neck, like Amulett of Mental / Physical Resolve, Cloak of Resistance, Cloak of Survival or Periapt of Cascading Health. A Healer's Brooch is always solid to enhance, well, healing.
Don't forget a Tattoo, which usually should be either Demonskin or Backslash.
At last mind your own healing and surges, and get a Belt of Raging Endurance, Cord of Divine Favour or Tenacious Ring (the latter only with high Cha).
Intuitive Strike is the best buff power for anything from multi-attack Striker sequences to important Controllers debuffs, and the trade of damage for accuracy is perfectly acceptable. Just mind that if you flank with ally A, it still doesn't grant ally B CA, lest you employ Vexing Flanker / Distant Advantage. It's also a very good combat opener if you have Impetuous Charger, as you can charge and the AP for Intuitive Strike, and your allys will likely finish that mob in one round.
Commander's Strike and Direct the Strike are standard attack granters, for occasions when you cannot charge. They serve well enough in either case, but because you have solid basic attacks as well, are not as necessary as usual.
Rousing Assault is a good secondary power, as the Cha build is heal focused anyway and hereby can be improved even further.
Brash Assault is somewhat situational, both depdendent on how your DM will react to it as well as that it works best paired with your Defender, whom you will often not work closely with in this build. But if you get it to work, it packs a good punch, and it can significantly be enhanced using Harlequin Style and thereby even be turned into its own lockdown mechanism, as explained under variants.
Paint the Bulls-Eye and Risky Shot are both solid ranged at-wills, that either make a good setup power, although somewhat less than Intuitive Strike, or simply provide some extra damage for a little risk.
Viper's Strike and Wolf Pack Tactics can improve your groups' tactical position in a melee furball. The former locks down enemies if you can team up with a melee ally, and the latter gets ranged allys get away from being swarmed, although offensively Commander's Strike or Intuitive Strike work better.
Here we maximise that effect as we focus on the many non standard action powers the Warlord has available. They are already stellar because they are always a free extra attack, and many available carry even great benefit beyond that. A second consideration can be powers that can be used on a charge, so you don't hamper your lock down trick, or better even powers that enhance charging. At last you might pick up a few of those rare gems available that only come as a standard action.
Encounter powers that fit that bill are Vengance is Mine, Powerful Warning (L1), No Gambit is Wasted (L3), Join the Crowd, Fierce Reply (L7), Blade Burst Trap, Bolstering Insight, Impromptu Attack or Unified in Blood (L13), of which many also profit from your increased reach. Martial Doom (L3), Provoke Overextension, Sudden Motivation (L7), Death from Two Sides or Headstrong Bravery (L13) fit that bill, while the latter also doubles up as charge power.
Daily and Utility powers as usual should round you character. They both depend on your particular build, your partys composition and where weaknesses need to be covered and strength can be enhanced. Iron Dragon Charge and Dangerous Leader (L9) deserve some special menion here, as they beautifully enhance your charge attack for the duration of a whole encounter. At last remember to check Skill Powers in case you miss some trick, and keep in mind that you can even gain an additional one for just a feat.
Thus Artillery is well on top of your target list due both damage output and low defense. Mind that you cannot always reach those without gambling your own safety both due distance and protection by other mobs.
Brutes tend to take some extra time to kill, but can pose a huge problem to squishy party members if they're able to gang up on them and get in a some lucky hits. Their low armor makes an ideal target for your charge lockdown.
If those targets are either killed or locked up by fellow party members, Skirmishers and Controllers are next on your list to take care of. Both have average defenses, and Skirmisher usually combine shifting and attacking while Controllers can often fight in melee as well as at range, so complete action denial is unlikely. Still you can heavily narrow their options and also work with your Strikers to bring swift death to them.
You should stay away from Soldiers and Lurkers, as both have a good defensive and most of the time can be better countered by other party members or applying your usual Leader options like spot heals, instead of engaging them head on.
If you face any mirror of yours, that is another Leader buffing or healing other mobs, make it a priority target if you can. Elites against which you can achieve a full lockdown make exceptionally good targets as well, but be careful when going toe to toe over an extended time, as you are not as durable as a regular Defender. Leave Minions and Solos for your other party members to deal with, lest they are the last remnants on the battlefield.
Charge them and attack them with reach, then use your free shift to get adjacent. If they then do anything but use their weaker melee attack on you, you can retaliate with an OA, hastening their demise. If you miss, shift such that you at least provide cover to your allies and you don't get focus fired by other mobs together with your original target.
In case you face them on difficult terrain that blocks your free shift, you simple charge adjacent right away. You can forego the gamble of knocking prone with your charge, as they won't get away either. In case they have terrain walk or a backup spot, either consider if you can corner them or simply risk missing and getting hit back in melee - the very most time taking that low risk is preferable to them having free reign with their strong ranged attack.
Again charge and attack them with reach to avoid retaliation, but then stay at one square distance. Now they can either crawl towards you (which later will also provoke an OA if you have Polearm Gamble) and suffer all the penalties and still not get up, so you can shift away next round and still leave them off miserable. They can also stand up regularly and walk to you, not attacking, or charge an ally if he is in range at all, thus blocking their special attacks and eating an OA from you, which you prepared by using your free shift to stand in their path. You yourself cannot be charged, because they won't meet the required minimum move of two squares, and any ally can profit from that dead zone as well. In case they are dazed for any reason, they actually are completely out of options. A miss has no particular consequence, except that you will probably not achieve any significant lockdown for this round.
In case you go up against mobs with reach things become somewhat more complicated. You should leave that to your Defender or Controller, but sometimes you don't have a choice. At higher levels those mobs become more common, but you usually can expect to still have enough alternatives in your target selection to run your favourite tactic.
Reach mobs can retaliate if you miss your charge, so consider if that lockdown is really worth that risk or if you can limit the options of the mob enough without it. If you decide on trying, shift adjacent afterwards, as it can attack you due its reach matter what, but this way you can at least force him to deal with you or eat an OA. Instead you can also shift away if no allies are close and you have Polearm Momentum / Repel Charge, as that will at least give you a free OA. If you have achieved greater reach in some way, you can try to knock prone without fear of retaliation, and then adjust your position afterwards as usual. Later you might be able to get your hands on some forced movement and/or slowing effects, which all together can give you a round or two of full lockdown even against reach mobs each encounter.
Now you should use any non-charge power, probably one of at-wills you prepared for this case. This is also the best moment for any of your melee Strikers to join you and finish off that mob quickly. As usual use your shift to reposition yourself and employ your reach for maximum benefit.
You can also shift and charge another target. Do that if you think that your allies can finish that mob without you in the remaining round, so you can already lockdown the next. Also use that option if an ally of yours is in trouble - you might not kill the mobs quicker all together, but you can get him out of a rough spot and give him time to breath and recover, usually by aiding him with one of your healing powers.
Sometimes you can also disengage and charge the same mob. One possibility for this is by having a double shift available, either due powers or feats like Long Step (epic) or Risky Shift (MC Rogue). Against Artillerys it's also an option to just walk back and charge, despite their OA, because two melee attacks are often still better than one of their ranged, and you have the chance to corner them completely for next round. Don't employ this just because you think an ally is in trouble - shift and charge another mob instead. And if one mob can spell doom for that ally, you will need to get out some better tricks than only a charge, simple as that.
Work with your Defender to determine which mobs he usually has problems with, and where he can aid you by holding mobs that are not that easily controlled by your charge. If you have few enemies, due Elites / Solos or later in the fight, you can make your Defender's job much easier by knocking prone one of his marked targets, and you can potentially charge each round as you don't need to get adjacent or can even tempt the mobs for OAs due your Defender's retaliation.
As with Defenders, your Controllers will usually deal with a different part of the enemy force. But sometimes it can be beneficial to concentrate your fire - not only for a quicker kill due defense and similar debuffs, but also because a Dazed and Prone mob is almost as good as Stunned one.
Having a second Leader at your side will probably be a more rare occasion, but it definately is an interesting one. On the one hand you can buff up each other to multiply your overall performance, but it also allows you to concentrate on different aspects of leading - in this case you should definately take the offensive part, as this is what Warlords are simply unparalled at.
You are already a high priority target for the emeny, as you can heal and buff. Adding lockdown capabilities and a significant damage output on your charge only makes the matter worse. And while you are able to patch up your Wizard if things should really go wrong, the reverse is seldom true.
Thus you need to remember that the primary goal of this build is to divert and spread enemy fire. This makes healing in combat much easier or often even unnecessary, and also helps your party to keep going longer, as you make much better use of your combined pool of Healing Surges.
Also consider which target to engage - anything in lockdown from your Defender or Controller is usually not a priority. Also avoid going deep into enemy territory unless necessary and establish a thorough frontline instead of being ganged up upon. Remember that this build employs control for a reason, and use that to stay out of trouble yourself and help out any ally who got into some with your unique capabilities.
Your playstyle should change to concentrate locking down ranged mobs, who whose counter attack is significantly weaker - you still can lock down melee mobs by charging and the shifting backwards if you dare to, but for that you want to ensure that you have a high chance to hit. The rest of the time you play less charge focused and more like a classic Warlord, and employ your charge rather as setup or to give an ally under distress some breathing room.
The usual weapon choice in this case are Heavy Blades due their higher proficiency. But if you're willing to invest some feats, Light Blades (Deft Strike, but also Surprising Charge / Nimble Blade) can become very good charge weapons. At last a Triple-headed Flail also offers high proficiency and also grants access some interesting feats (Combat Styles from Martial Power 2 and Dragging Flail as MC Fighter). Of course you can even use a two-handed non-reach weapon to maximise your damage, but be warned that this will indeed become a true Bravura like Warlord with very high risk play.
At last you may want to consider other options to knock mobs prone, as described below.
Good replacements are Boots of Free Movement, to gaurantee your mobility, and Boots of the Fencing Master to offer you a per encounter chance to safely setup another charge when engaged in melee. Rushing Cleats are useful for more classical polearm builds, although the aforementioned Avalanche Boots work as long as you only need to push and not slide. Many other options are possible as usual, just weigh their benefits against the extra cost and risk.
You also have access to a few encounter tricks. The best is Flash of Insight, which takes up only a level 2 utility slot and gaurantees success, and lets you employ proning even when caught in melee or on OAs and some immediate powers such as Vengence is Mine. Beat Them Into the Ground is an example of an encounter attack power, which has the potential to dominate the whole battlefield for a round. At last many other classes grant you access to Prone powers, which is particularly interesting for Hybrids.
The non-charge possibilities to Prone were already discussed. Simply being able to corner a mob or working together with an ally who can daze are other ways to achieve such lockdown. The last possibility is to immobilise the mob by grabbing it, which is usually achieved by either attacking with a Grasping Weapon (of which you could buy more than one aside from your main weapon, if you're cheese), or getting either MC Fighter or MC Garrote Training and the according encounter powers. Afterwards you easily maintain the grab due your significantly improved defenses due Brash Strike.
The king of chargers is the Barbarian with Howling Strike, charge encounter powers and the two everygreens Curtain of Steel (L7) and Storm of Blades (L7) for great single target damage. The Rages are also strong, and many offer either further control, straight extra damage, charge improvements or significant resilience for a whole encounter. You will need to buy back into heavy armor sooner than later (lest you do a wired Dex / Whirler Hybrid), and can improve Cha or Con as secondary, depending on your choice of regular PP or second Hybrid Talent for Feral Might at Paragon.
The Ranger recently has also gotten as strong charge option with Marauder's Rush, which together with a good Wis and Hunter's Quarry rivals Barbarians. Most of the class is focused around dual-wielding in melee, but there are some options without restrictions, as the fantastic Disruptive Strike (L3) or some heavy thrown options, and you also gain good extra mobility with powers as Invigorating Stride (L2). Niche builds trade charge damage for Twin-Strike, either in melee with a Spiked Chain or at range with high Dex and a Hungry Spear. The definate choice for a Paragon Hybrid is Prime Shot both due accuracy (get Prime Punisher for melee) and the damage improvement with Called Shot. Again you have to buy back into heavy armor, lest you ignore your Wis for some niche Dex or Int build.
Paladins are an excellent match to the stat structure of Warlords and let you keep heavy armor. You profit from a solid second melee oriented power list, which provides charges as well as Leader and Defender focused powers. The basic Divine Challenge works well with your charging approach and those two together can even keep two mobs in a lock with careful positioning, and you can increase the number of marked targets by spreading your Divine Sanction.
The playstyle of Swordmages to run away from their Mark matches well with your mobility oriented charging approach. The issue is to evaluate if you need your Swordmage Warding (which also restricts you to Glaives or non-reach Light and Heavy Blades), or if you just rely on Leather (or Hide and maybe a Heavy Shield from Battlefront Leader) and your Int. Thus you should consider if you are content with alternative methods of knocking Prone, which would also open up the excellent Tactical Presence, including getting this and Swordmage Warding as Paragon Hybrid.
Joe the Restless, level 12
Human, Warlord, Adroit Explorer
Warlord: Combat Leader
Commanding Presence: Bravura Presence
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Spear)
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Holy Symbol)
Ambitious Effort: Ambitious Effort Existing Power
Ambitious Effort Existing Power: Join the Crowd
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 21, Con 12, Dex 14, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 19.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 16, Con 11, Dex 13, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 16.
AC: 28 Fort: 26 Reflex: 23 Will: 25
HP: 89 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 23
Heal +11, Endurance +14, Intimidate +15, Athletics +15, Diplomacy +15, Insight +11
Acrobatics +7, Arcana +5, Bluff +10, Dungeoneering +6, History +5, Nature +6, Perception +6, Religion +5, Stealth +7, Streetwise +10, Thievery +7
Level 1: Risky Charge
Level 2: Weapon Proficiency (Greatspear)
Level 4: Versatile Expertise
Level 6: Hafted Defense
Level 8: Soldier of the Faith
Level 10: Mark of Healing
Level 11: Fight On
Level 12: Impaling Spear
Bonus At-Will Power: Direct the Strike
Warlord at-will 1: Intuitive Strike
Warlord at-will 1: Rousing Assault
Warlord encounter 1: Vengeance is Mine
Warlord daily 1: Bastion of Defense
Warlord utility 2: Martial Cascade
Warlord encounter 3: No Gambit Is Wasted
Warlord daily 5: Stand the Fallen
Warlord utility 6: Flash of Insight
Warlord encounter 7: Join the Crowd
Warlord daily 9: Iron Dragon Charge
Warlord utility 10: Instant Planning
Vanguard Greatspear +3, Amulet of Protection +3, Horned Helm (heroic tier), Boots of Adept Charging (heroic tier), Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Demonskin Tattoo (heroic tier), Gauntlets of Blood (heroic tier), Belt of Vigor (heroic tier), Dwarven Braidmail Armor +3, Symbol of the Dragon +1, Cryptspawn Potion (paragon tier), Potion of Vitality (paragon tier)
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more examples upon request
-- the Art of Leading (by mkill) for strategies how to fulfill the job as Leader well
-- Swift & without Mercy (by Auspex7) on playing Pursuit Avengers, with much tactical advise applicable to this Warlord build as well
-- the Warlord Handbook (by lordduskblade) for further opinions and options, such as racial feats, items, etc
-- optimising Basic Attacks (by Erudo) to help your allies to get the most out of all your extra attacks
-- Dragonborn Bravelord (by lordduskblade) for a well rounded offensive / healing Bravura Warlord build
-- a lazy Warlord (by Adslahnit) for a discussion on out of turn Warlord powers
-- San Diego Super Charger (by ShakaUVM) for a detail diskussion how to construct a charger
Feedback, in-play experiences, criticism and suggestion are always welcome.