Versatile vs. Weapon expertise for Swordmage

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I guess the subject basically asks my question. I am playing a shielding swordmage who just hit level 4 and I am trying to decide between the above two feats. Is taking versatile expertise necessary? Do swordmages have that many implement powers? If so, which implement is most effective for swordmages? I don't really like the idea of holding an implement in my off-hand and reducing my swordmage warding AC bonus, so it would seem to me like just taking Weapon Proficiency is good enough. Is there something I'm missing?
Yup.  Swordmages use blades as implements.  You don't need to carry anything in your off-hand.

And, yeah, they have a lot of implement powers.  Versatile Expertise is a must -- it provides the bonus for both weapon and implement attacks through the blade, AND grants the bonus to a back-up weapon type (say, "spear" for those times you really need a javelin).
You never need a javelin because you could just take Intelligent Blademaster (which you should do), which lets you throw your sword.

The best bet is to do Versatile Expertise for Heavy Blades and Light blades, so you can use anything you like.
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Intelligent Blademaster doesn't let you throw your sword. What feats are you reading? All it lets you do is use Int. instead of Str. for MBA's. What you want is a Farslayer weapon. I'd suggest a Farbond Spellblade, but you're Shielding so you probably won't have the Str. for a heavy thrown weapon.
Intelligent Blademaster doesn't let you throw your sword. What feats are you reading? All it lets you do is use Int. instead of Str. for MBA's. What you want is a Farslayer weapon. I'd suggest a Farbond Spellblade, but you're Shielding so you probably won't have the Str. for a heavy thrown weapon.

In a way it does. Intelligent Blademaster applies to basic attacks, not just melee basic attacks, which is why it's superior to Melee Training since it applies to Ranged Basics as well as Melee Basics.

You never need a javelin because you could just take Intelligent Blademaster (which you should do), which lets you throw your sword.

The best bet is to do Versatile Expertise for Heavy Blades and Light blades, so you can use anything you like.



I have IB, and wield a bastard sword right now, so I think Versatile like you recommend is probably best. Thanks for the advice
The only Expertise feat you should ever take is Versatile Expertise.  It is strictly better than Weapon and Implement Expertise, with the sole exception of qualifying for Weapon Master, which you shouldn't be doing because it's basically useless.  Even if *you* don't use implements, all weapons *can* be used as an implement, so you can pick a second weapon as your "implement" (as technically written and as implemented in the Character Builder), and the feat gives you the bonus no matter whether you're using a Weapon power or an Implement power, regardless of how you chose your item.
Intelligent Blademaster doesn't let you throw your sword. What feats are you reading? All it lets you do is use Int. instead of Str. for MBA's. What you want is a Farslayer weapon. I'd suggest a Farbond Spellblade, but you're Shielding so you probably won't have the Str. for a heavy thrown weapon.


In a way it does. Intelligent Blademaster applies to basic attacks, not just melee basic attacks, which is why it's superior to Melee Training since it applies to Ranged Basics as well as Melee Basics.




Two things.

1. It only applies to basic attack rolls, your damage roll is still str/des.

2. it lets you use int for your attack rolls for basic attacks. NOWHERE does it allow you to use your sword as a heavy/thrown/light thrown weapon. I suppose you could throw your sword as an improvised weapon, but it'd only deal 1d4 damage, and you wouldn't get the proficiency/enchantment bonus from it.



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2. it lets you use int for your attack rolls for basic attacks. NOWHERE does it allow you to use your sword as a heavy/thrown/light thrown weapon. I suppose you could throw your sword as an improvised weapon, but it'd only deal 1d4 damage, and you wouldn't get the proficiency/enchantment bonus from it.

Yeah, by "it lets you throw your sword" I meant that it let you do it well.  I think I'm just so used to Swordmages using Farbond Spellblades that it didn't even occur to me that it wasn't a normal ability.  But yeah, I still don't think that a ranged attack option is all that important for a Swordmage anyway, so I'd still go Heavy and Light Blades.

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Just want to clear up two things:

(1) As Mapache said, the current wording of Versatile Expertise allows you to choose two weapon groups.  In my opinion, that's not RAI, and that's not how I use the feat for my swordmage (I've chosen heavy blades for both weapon and implement), but I agree that until we see a definitive answer one way or another, Mapache's interpretation is not incorrect and can (should?) be used.

(2) Intelligent Blademaster allows you to "use your Intelligence modifier instead of your Strength modifier when making a basic attack with a melee weapon." It applies to the attack as a whole, not just the attack roll.  You can use your Intelligence modifier for damage as well.

I agree with mpl—Versatile (heavy blades, light blades) is your best bet.
Intelligent Blademaster doesn't let you throw your sword. What feats are you reading? All it lets you do is use Int. instead of Str. for MBA's. What you want is a Farslayer weapon. I'd suggest a Farbond Spellblade, but you're Shielding so you probably won't have the Str. for a heavy thrown weapon.



In a way it does. Intelligent Blademaster applies to basic attacks, not just melee basic attacks, which is why it's superior to Melee Training since it applies to Ranged Basics as well as Melee Basics.





Two things.

1. It only applies to basic attack rolls, your damage roll is still str/des.

It applies to basic attacks. Basic attacks is referring to the type of attack you are making, namely, a basic one, not to an attack roll.
Yeah, by "it lets you throw your sword" I meant that it let you do it well.  I think I'm just so used to Swordmages using Farbond Spellblades that it didn't even occur to me that it wasn't a normal ability.  But yeah, I still don't think that a ranged attack option is all that important for a Swordmage anyway, so I'd still go Heavy and Light Blades.

That's an odd stance for someone that's so used to seeing swordmages with Farbond Spellblades. 

I loathe getting stuck out of combat, and the longest-ranged swordmage at-will is range: 3 (most defenders have it worse, yes).  Immobilization or flying skirmishers can just make life hell.  A decent ranged at-will is a must. 

(1) As Mapache said, the current wording of Versatile Expertise allows you to choose two weapon groups.  In my opinion, that's not RAI, and that's not how I use the feat for my swordmage (I've chosen heavy blades for both weapon and implement), but I agree that until we see a definitive answer one way or another, Mapache's interpretation is not incorrect and can (should?) be used.

There's no reason to choose the same thing for both.  If you pick heavy blade for either, you get the bonus with both weapon and implement attacks (unlike Weapon or Implement Expertise, VE doesn't specify).  But since heavy blades are absolutely a swordmage implement, they should be a legitimate choice.  Take heavy blade and spear, or heavy blade and light blade, if only because there's no reason not to.

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There's no reason to choose the same thing for both.

There is if you think that RAI for the feat is that it was intended to only give you your weapon choice to weapon attacks and your implement choice to implement attacks, and you are trying to follow that RAI.  Which is what battles14 is explicitly refering to.

As he says, that isn't RAW, just his (IMO probably correct) guess at RAI.  Until the feat gets changed, unless your DM enforces that interpretation/guess at RAI that definitely disagrees with RAW, then you might as well choose Heavy Blades and Light Blades as a Swordmage.  Unless you are doing something else fancy to use a different implement/weapon.

Heh, RAI for Expertise is that they're math patches and when the devs play, they just give inherant bonuses and don't use the Expertise feats. Tongue out

That's a shame they do that.  Because no one has every shown it's actually a necessary math patch.  Just that the attack bonuses don't scale with monster defenses, which isn't the same thing.

That's a shame they do that.  Because no one has every shown it's actually a necessary math patch.  Just that the attack bonuses don't scale with monster defenses, which isn't the same thing.


It's "necessary" to achieve their intentions. I don't know what you'd consider "necessary" though.

There actually being a problem with the game math that requires a patch.
You never need a javelin because you could just take Intelligent Blademaster (which you should do), which lets you throw your sword.

The best bet is to do Versatile Expertise for Heavy Blades and Light blades, so you can use anything you like.

This is my advice as well.  Daggers (light blade) can be used for throwing and quick draw lets you get them out with a quickness without costing you your Warding.
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This is my advice as well.  Daggers (light blade) can be used for throwing and quick draw lets you get them out with a quickness without costing you your Warding.

Yeah, but a thrown dagger uses DEX to hit.

There actually being a problem with the game math that requires a patch.

Again, this falls on what you consider to be a "problem".

The devs didn't intend for the math to fall behind, hence it is a "problem" for the implementation of their intentions.

The devs didn't intend for the math to fall behind, hence it is a "problem" for the implementation of their intentions.

That's my point.  They may not have intended for the "math" to fall behind, but there isn't any proof that the "math" actually falls behind.  All we have is a bunch of people complaining that Attack vs Defense "math" falls behind.  But that doesn't show that the actual math of the game is falling behind at all, just that one specific aspect of the math falls behind, which may need to fall behind to balance other parts of the math which get ahead.  No one has actually shown this, and everyone seems to fall into the same logical trap and assume that a hit bonus is necessary to "fix" something which almost certainly does not need to be fixed.

The devs didn't intend for the math to fall behind, hence it is a "problem" for the implementation of their intentions.

That's my point.  They may not have intended for the "math" to fall behind, but there isn't any proof that the "math" actually falls behind.  All we have is a bunch of people complaining that Attack vs Defense "math" falls behind.  But that doesn't show that the actual math of the game is falling behind at all, just that one specific aspect of the math falls behind, which may need to fall behind to balance other parts of the math which get ahead.  No one has actually shown this, and everyone seems to fall into the same logical trap and assume that a hit bonus is necessary to "fix" something which almost certainly does not need to be fixed.


You appear to bear the burden of proof on that one.

The math showed that from your attribute gains and increases in equipment your average to-hit drops by about 15% (iirc), based simply on their Monster Defense guidelines. This got the CharOp boards to go "focus on your to-hit" and then the devs to go "whoops". The devs say it's not supposed to fall behind - thus there is a problem in their implementation.

You say "which may need to fall behind to balance other parts of the math which get ahead" - so prove it. Balance what other parts of the math? Neither CharOp nor WotC supports that notion.

You're saying "the developers intended for it to fall behind to balance other things", directly contradicting the developers who say otherwise. Or you're saying... heck, I don't know what you're saying.

You appear to bear the burden of proof on that one.

The math showed that from your attribute gains and increases in equipment your average to-hit drops by about 15% (iirc), based simply on their Monster Defense guidelines. This got the CharOp boards to go "focus on your to-hit" and then the devs to go "whoops". The devs say it's not supposed to fall behind - thus there is a problem in their implementation.

You say "which may need to fall behind to balance other parts of the math which get ahead" - so prove it. Balance what other parts of the math? Neither CharOp nor WotC supports that notion.

You're saying "the developers intended for it to fall behind to balance other things", directly contradicting the developers who say otherwise. Or you're saying... heck, I don't know what you're saying.

The point is that just because the raw, not RAW, Attack vs. Defense math falls behind does not mean that the modified Attack vs. Defense math falls behind. To generally highlight this argument, at high level what do you have going for you besides your basic Attribute + Prof + 1/2 level modifier? What massively scaled attack bonuses does your Leader provide? For a Rogue, how many ridiculous feats can you take that grant you CA WAY more often than earlier levels made possible? How many utility powers do you have that may grant circumstantial bonuses to attack? How many more powerful dailies do you have that grant occasional bonuses? How well do all of these interact?

There are such amorphous bonuses that it is incredibly difficult to quantify what they are worth but I don't think anyone can seriously argue they don't exist and that they are likely more prevalent in Paragon and Epic than they are in Heroic.

Anyways, that's the argument and it's why I don't give out Expertise & Paragon/Epic Defenses for free.

What massively scaled attack bonuses does your Leader provide? For a Rogue, how many ridiculous feats can you take that grant you CA WAY more often than earlier levels made possible? How many utility powers do you have that may grant circumstantial bonuses to attack? How many more powerful dailies do you have that grant occasional bonuses? How well do all of these interact?

There are such amorphous bonuses that it is incredibly difficult to quantify what they are worth but I don't think anyone can seriously argue they don't exist and that they are likely more prevalent in Paragon and Epic than they are in Heroic.


So? Enemies have more attacks and conditions to inflict as well, that doesn't change anything. So you're saying a party without a Leader will fail? My Rogues have CA 90% of the time from level 1 onwards (as should any competent rogue in a competent party). As you have extra powers, so do the enemies. Yet it's all conditional and not conductive to the basic calculations. So you get a +5 to Attack. The Enemy gets an immediate interrupt to Shift away. So who are we to judge if it all balances out? How about we get the developers? Maybe they know?

The developers supposedly made a balanced system, they saw it needed a fix, and fixed it. You say the original system, built by the devs, is balanced - when they say it is not - because of the other components (powers, etc) the devs put in there - contrary to the devs' stated opinions and intentions.

It's like having a car that doesn't brake correctly, Honda saying "whoops, we'll fix that" and you saying "Pft, people scream about being unable to stop, but it's supposed to be like that and Honda meant it because there's upper limits on speed, road configurations, steering adjustments, and other amorphous qualities that become prevailant at high speeds that balance that so-called flaw." ...while Honda is busy saying "It's our mistake, here's the fix."


What massively scaled attack bonuses does your Leader provide? For a Rogue, how many ridiculous feats can you take that grant you CA WAY more often than earlier levels made possible? How many utility powers do you have that may grant circumstantial bonuses to attack? How many more powerful dailies do you have that grant occasional bonuses? How well do all of these interact?

There are such amorphous bonuses that it is incredibly difficult to quantify what they are worth but I don't think anyone can seriously argue they don't exist and that they are likely more prevalent in Paragon and Epic than they are in Heroic.


So? Enemies have more attacks and conditions to inflict as well, that doesn't change anything. So you're saying a party without a Leader will fail? My Rogues have CA 90% of the time from level 1 onwards (as should any competent rogue in a competent party). As you have extra powers, so do the enemies. Yet it's all conditional and not conductive to the basic calculations. So you get a +5 to Attack. The Enemy gets an immediate interrupt to Shift away. So who are we to judge if it all balances out? How about we get the developers? Maybe they know?

The developers supposedly made a balanced system, they saw it needed a fix, and fixed it. You say the original system, built by the devs, is balanced - when they say it is not - because of the other components (powers, etc) the devs put in there - contrary to the devs' stated opinions and intentions.

It's like having a car that doesn't brake correctly, Honda saying "whoops, we'll fix that" and you saying "Pft, people scream about being unable to stop, but it's supposed to be like that and Honda meant it because there's upper limits on speed, road configurations, steering adjustments, and other amorphous qualities that become prevailant at high speeds that balance that so-called flaw." ...while Honda is busy saying "It's our mistake, here's the fix."



You really missed the entire point of the argument. First, I was merely giving illustrative examples, they are not an exhaustive list. Nowhere did I say anything about parties without Leaders failing so don't put words in my mouth. The point is, it does change something because the balance mechanics are incredibly more complicated than simply Base Attack vs. Base Defense, which you yourself pointed out by giving an example of monsters also receiving bumps. The point is, balance in that respect is an amorphous concept that is hard to quantify into one number vs. another number.

Additionally, while so often termed a fix or a feat tax the simple truth is it's a feat, albeit a good one. If the developers truly wanted to 'fix' a 'problem' they see they could simply give a scaling +1/2/3 bonus to attacks in the respective tiers and not offer this feat. They didn't do that, therefore, it is an option, not a fix or a requirement, regardless of how good a feat it may be.

You really missed the entire point of the argument. First, I was merely giving illustrative examples, they are not an exhaustive list. Nowhere did I say anything about parties without Leaders failing so don't put words in my mouth. The point is, it does change something because the balance mechanics are incredibly more complicated than simply Base Attack vs. Base Defense, which you yourself pointed out by giving an example of monsters also receiving bumps. The point is, balance in that respect is an amorphous concept that is hard to quantify into one number vs. another number.

The biggest thing I missed is that you're not Fitz.
Regardless, if Leader scaling bonuses are necessary for balance, then a party without a Leader will obviously have broken math.

The important point however is that the mechanics (math and amorphous concepts and everything) didn't spontaneously spring into existance - they were created by the developers with the intention of being balanced. So the "highest court" in deciding if it is balanced or not is with the devs - who say that it isn't.

Additionally, while so often termed a fix or a feat tax the simple truth is it's a feat, albeit a good one. If the developers truly wanted to 'fix' a 'problem' they see they could simply give a scaling +1/2/3 bonus to attacks in the respective tiers and not offer this feat. They didn't do that, therefore, it is an option, not a fix or a requirement, regardless of how good a feat it may be.

Ah, this is called assumptions and lack of context.

1. The devs have stated that the reason it is a series of (ever broader) feats and not errata is because people often miss errata, and by releasing them as feats they ensure players will not miss it.
2. The devs play with a scaling bonus to attacks, and the expertise feats are not available.
The biggest thing I missed is that you're not Fitz.
Regardless, if Leader scaling bonuses are necessary for balance, then a party without a Leader will obviously have broken math.

The important point however is that the mechanics (math and amorphous concepts and everything) didn't spontaneously spring into existance - they were created by the developers with the intention of being balanced. So the "highest court" in deciding if it is balanced or not is with the devs - who say that it isn't.

To reiterate, I'm not saying scaling Leader bonuses are necessary for balance. I was merely giving an illustrative example of the additional bonuses PC's have at higher levels that they don't have at lower levels.

As for your latter point, I agree, however while I believe the developers do a good job with 4E I think it's fair to say that a lot more goes into balance at Epic than at Heroic because of the amount of stuff available. Accordingly, despite my assumption that the developers know more about game design than I ever will that there's so much going on at high levels that I also don't believe they know all there is to know about high level balance.

Ah, this is called assumptions and lack of context.

1. The devs have stated that the reason it is a series of (ever broader) feats and not errata is because people often miss errata, and by releasing them as feats they ensure players will not miss it.
2. The devs play with a scaling bonus to attacks, and the expertise feats are not available.

Ironically, you are pointing out that the Devs said many people miss errata so they use a series of feats to achieve balance yet how many people do you think read what the Devs actually say? I would hazard a guess that a lot more people read errata than Dev blogs (or whatever your source for that statement is, which I don't necessarily dispute). However, a lot of people do use the Character Builder, which incorporates errata automatically and applying it automatically to that is not significantly different than applying the fix as a feat tax. As is, if you don't pay attention to errata and also don't use PHB2/3 you would not know Expertise exists at all unless you use the CB, where it's just as easy to throw the update in. So, excuse me if I think that's rather disingenuous of the designers, or at least a cop-out.

Sorry if that last paragraph is semi-rambling but I need to go get some studying gone and was in a rush. This bar exam won't take itself!
The math showed that from your attribute gains and increases in equipment your average to-hit drops by about 15% (iirc), based simply on their Monster Defense guidelines.

That's not the complete picture.  A more accurate (but still not complete) picture would be damage per round vs hit points.  But that still doesn't take into account status effects, leader bonuses, or other things that contribute to the final picture: Does a party of 5 kill an equal level encounter in about the same number of rounds at all levels, and lose the same % of their resources in doing so?

It's not *easy* to calculate the complete "math", which is why nobody has done it.  And IMO assuming that the hit bonus should scale identically with monster defenses is doing the game a disservice, especially by also claiming it is a "math" fix.  Especially given that generally speaking a party of 5 PCs takes *less* rounds to kill an equal level encounter even without the Versatile feats as they go up in levels (or at least tiers).  That indicates that there almost certainly is no broken math that needs to be fixed, and that giving away the bonus for free is a bad idea, let alone charging a single feat for +3 to hit at epic levels.

Edit: Master of the side-tangent strikes again.    I should really take this to the general forum.
Sorry if that last paragraph is semi-rambling but I need to go get some studying gone and was in a rush. This bar exam won't take itself!

Rules lawyer.

Hm...
With regards to if there is a Math Problem:
The Player's Strategy Guide (p112) states that players should have attack modifiers of 6+level vs AC  and 4+level vs NADs.
At GenCon 2008 it was said that they balanced the game around a set hit rate (50%?).
From here: www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...
"One of our goals in designing 4th Edition was to extend the "sweet spot" across all 30 levels of play. <...> One of the ways we extended the sweet spot across all 30 levels was by replacing that arbitrary math with a system that's consistent and coherent throughout the whole game."
It isn't supposed to decrease by 15% to 20% as you level. Prior to late-beta, players got stat bumps every 2 levels instead of every 4.

I'm having a problem finding the source on two things I know for certain:
1. It was put into feats instead of errata because not everyone applied errata.
    Pre-PHB2, the hit gap in epic was acknowledged and they said a solution would be in PHB2.
    andrewgr makes the claim that the 3 WotC employees he games with supports this notion.
2. The in-house game uses inherant bonuses instead of the Expertise feat.
    Staff tend not to post here on the official forums, I believe it is from either enworld or rpg.net.
    Here's a blog post from a game editor at WotC: gregbilsland.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/ho...
    He's not the fellow we originally sourced, though.

Man, I'm looking at threads that are over a year old now, it's not easy going back to the primary sources. Oddly, Fitz in those posts is arguing about how the math is broken.

And Fitz, in the threads we were both in over a year ago, I thought those things WERE calculated. But now I gotta run to the other office, so bye!

Edit: Very funny thing. I'm trying to find sources (not because someone requested them but simply because I like to support my statements) and it appears Fitz ran into the same problem... 1 year ago. But he was saying the same stuff I did, so eh...
Sorry if that last paragraph is semi-rambling but I need to go get some studying gone and was in a rush. This bar exam won't take itself!

Rules lawyer.


Technically, I am working on being an actual lawyer, not a rules lawyer, lol.


With regards to if there is a Math Problem:
The Player's Strategy Guide (p112) states that players should have attack modifiers of 6+level vs AC  and 4+level vs NADs.
At GenCon 2008 it was said that they balanced the game around a set hit rate (50%?).

Those two things are self-contradictory.  The PSG recommends a hit rate higher than 50%.

Man, I'm looking at threads that are over a year old now, it's not easy going back to the primary sources. Oddly, Fitz in those posts is arguing about how the math is broken.

And Fitz, in the threads we were both in over a year ago, I thought those things WERE calculated. But now I gotta run to the other office, so bye!

I certainly was aware that there was a issue with the hit rate decreasing.  It wasn't until I dug into the issue and participated in a more than a few discussions on it that I realized the game appears to already appears to account for it.  In fact, if there is a math problem, it appears the other direction .... as characters advance in tier they win fights faster and for less resources that are supposed to be an even challenge.  However that's conjectural and anecdotal so it's not the primary point I like to make.  The point I prefer to address is that just because the unmodified hit rate decreases doesn't mean the game "math" is actually broken ... and we don't have the stats to prove it one way or the other unfortunately.

Edit: Very funny thing. I'm trying to find sources (not because someone requested them but simply because I like to support my statements) and it appears Fitz ran into the same problem... 1 year ago. But he was saying the same stuff I did, so eh...

  One of the nice things about participating in discussions/debates (shouting matches?) on these forums is it gives you a chance to absorb some opposing points of views and modify your position.  Damned if it can't be hard to find supporting evidence sometimes though.

And Dark, I fully concede one of your points: The Devs appear to believe there is a math problem with the hit rate.  I posit that even they are prone to groupthink.  (That's twice I've used that word today.)
  One of the nice things about participating in discussions/debates (shouting matches?) on these forums is it gives you a chance to absorb some opposing points of views and modify your position.  Damned if it can't be hard to find supporting evidence sometimes though.

Changing your position based on new information? Flip-flopper! ;)



And Dark, I fully concede one of your points: The Devs appear to believe there is a math problem with the hit rate.  I posit that even they are prone to groupthink.  (That's twice I've used that word today.)

That's pretty much what I've been getting at, as I've never managed to even get to Paragon, so I've certainly never noticed a problem. Essentially, "If they all say there's a problem, 'k. In the mean time, I just want to hit Paragon..."

Changing your position based on new information? Flip-flopper! ;)

Haha.  I was trying to find some of those old threads so I could reread what I had posted.  What search words did you use to find them?

Changing your position based on new information? Flip-flopper! ;)

Haha.  I was trying to find some of those old threads so I could reread what I had posted.  What search words did you use to find them?

Hm, I was at work, with many different Search Forums windows open... hmm...

"Expertise dev" or "expertise podcast" or "expertise comments"?
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