The Man of Steel; a tough but flexible Defender

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The Man of Steel

or


An exercise in being super

A Warden|Battlemind/Gladiator Champion/Topaz Crusader



                                               

IMAGE(http://i35.tinypic.com/1z4xt8n.jpg)



This build is an exercise in good defendering, using good amounts of newfangled options. The premise is simple: Enemies who never leave your grasp won't be harming your ranged allies, and they'll be hard up to try and hurt your melee friends.


This build uses the following sources:
AV - Adventurer's Vault
AV 2 - Adventurer's Vault 2
DRAGON - Dragon Magazines
DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting
MP - Martial Power
MP 2 - Martial Power 2
PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB 2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB 3 - Player's Handbook 3
PrP - Primal Power
PsiP - Psionic Power

Level 1 Snapshot
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 Man of Steel, Level 1
      Race: Warforged
      Class: Battlemind/Warden Hybrid
      Hybrid Talent: Hybrid Talent (Warden's Armored Might: Stormheart)
      Hybrid Defenses: +2 Will defense
      Background: Vilhon Wilds (+1 initiative, can reroll Dungeoneering)


      FINAL ABILITY SCORES

      Str 18, Con 18, Dex 12, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
 

      STARTING ABILITY SCORES

      Str 16, Con 16, Dex 12, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
 

      DEFENSES

      AC: 19 (10 + 3 armor + 4 stat + 2 shield)
      Fort: 14 (10 + 4 stat)
      Ref: 13 (10 + 1 stat + 2 shield)
      Will: 14 (10 + 1 stat + 2 class + 1 Race)
      HP: 34         Surges: 13      Surge Value: 8
 


      TRAINED SKILLS

      Athletics +6, Endurance +6, Perception +6
 


      FEATS:

      Level 1: Hybrid Talent


      POWERS:

      Warden At-Will 1: Weight of Earth
      Battlemind At-Will 1: Conductive Defense
      Warden Daily 1: Form of Winter's Herald

      POWER POINTS: 2

      EQUIPMENT:
      Mace, Hide Armor, Heavy Shield, Standard Adventurer's Kit



Level 11 Snapshot
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 Man of Steel, Level 11
      Race: Warforged
      Class: Battlemind/Warden Hybrid
      Multiclass: Fighter
      Paragon Path: Gladiator Champion
      Hybrid Talent: Hybrid Talent (Warden's Armored Might: Stormheart)
      Hybrid Defenses: +2 Will defense
      Background: Vilhon Wilds (+1 initiative, can reroll Dungeoneering)


      FINAL ABILITY SCORES

      Str 21, Con 21, Dex 13, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 11
 

      STARTING ABILITY SCORES

      Str 16, Con 16, Dex 12, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
 

      DEFENSES

      AC: 29 (10 + 5 level + 3 armor + 3 magic + 5 stat + 2 shield + 1 feat)
      Fort: 23 (10 + 5 level + 1 armor + 2 magic + 5 stat)
      Ref: 20 (10 + 5 level + 2 magic + 1 stat + 2 shield)
      Will: 23 (10 + 5 level + 2 magic + 1 stat + 2 shield + 2 Class + 1 race)
      HP: 97         Surges: 14      Surge Value: 24
      Resist: 5 Fire, 5 Cold


      TRAINED SKILLS

      Athletics +12, Endurance +14, Heal +11, Perception +11
 


      FEATS:

      Level 1: Hybrid Talent
      Level 2: Weapon Expertise (Mace)
      Level 4: Sudden Roots
      Level 6: Mark of Warding
      Level 8: Encouraging Shield
      Level 10: Wrathful Warrior (Train Heal Skill)
      Level 11: Armor Specialization (Hide)

      POWERS:

      Warden At-Will 1: Weight of Earth
      Battlemind At-Will 1: Conductive Defense
      Warden Daily 1: Form of Winter's Herald
      Battlemind Utility 2: Oaken Resilience (retrain to Invigorating Presence at Level 10)
      Warden Encounter 3: Burst of Earth's Fury
      Battlemind Daily 5: Nightmare Vortex
      Warden Utility 6: Soothing Wind
      Battlemind At-Will 7: Forceful Reversal
      Warden Daily 9: Form of the Oak Sentinel
      Battlemind Daily 10: Battle Aspect
      Gladiator Champion Encounter 11: Opening Ploy

      POWER POINTS: 4

      EQUIPMENT:
      Guardian's Call Mace +2, Earthhide Screaming Armor +3, Cloak of Survival +2, Heavy Shield, Eager Hero's Tattoo (Level 10), Standard Adventurer's Kit, 2400 gold



Level 21 Snapshot
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 Man of Steel, Level 21
      Race: Warforged
      Class: Battlemind/Warden Hybrid
      Multiclass: Fighter
      Paragon Path: Gladiator Champion
      Epic Destiny: Topaz Crusader
      Hybrid Talent: Hybrid Talent (Warden's Armored Might: Stormheart)
      Hybrid Defenses: +2 Will defense
      Background: Vilhon Wilds (+1 initiative, can reroll Dungeoneering)


      FINAL ABILITY SCORES

      Str 24, Con 26, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 12
 

      STARTING ABILITY SCORES

      Str 16, Con 16, Dex 12, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
 

      DEFENSES

      AC: 42 (10 + 10 lvl + 4 armor + 5 magic + 8 stat + 2 shield + 2 feat + 1 ED)
      Fort: 36 (10 + 10 lvl + 4 magic + 8 stat + 2 shield + 1 feat + 1 Item )
      Ref: 29 (10 + 10 lvl + 4 magic + 2 stat + 2 shield + 1 feat)
      Will: 32 (10 + 10 lvl + 4 magic + 2 stat + 2 shield + 1 feat + 2 Class +1 Race)
      HP: 162         Surges: 17      Surge Value: 40
      Resist: 10 Fire, 10 Cold, 5 Lightning, 5 Thunder
      Immune: Dazed, Dominated


      TRAINED SKILLS

      Athletics +19, Endurance +23, Heal +17, Perception +17
 


      FEATS:

      Level 1: Hybrid Talent
      Level 2: Weapon Expertise (Mace)
      Level 4: Sudden Roots
      Level 6: Mark of Warding
      Level 8: Encouraging Shield
      Level 10: Wrathful Warrior (Train Heal Skill)
      Level 11: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 21)
      Level 12: Paragon Defenses
      Level 14: Dizzying Mace
      Level 16: Danger Sense
      Level 18: Shield Mastery
      Level 20: Ubiquitous Shield
      Level 21: Rapid Wild Defense

      POWERS:

      Warden At-Will 1: Weight of Earth
      Battlemind At-Will 1: Conductive Defense
      Warden Daily 1: Form of Winter's Herald
      Battlemind Utility 2: Oaken Resilience (retrain to Invigorating Presence at Level 10)
      Warden Encounter 3: Burst of Earth's Fury
      Battlemind Daily 5: Nightmare Vortex
      Warden Utility 6: Soothing Wind
      Battlemind At-Will 7: Forceful Reversal
      Warden Daily 9: Form of the Oak Sentinel
      Battlemind Daily 10: Battle Aspect
      Gladiator Champion Encounter 11: Opening Ploy
      Gladiator Champion Utility 12: Fail to Disappoint
      Battlemind At-Will 13: Intellect Snap (replaces Conductive Defense)
      Warden Daily 15: Form of the Crushing Mountain (replaces Form of Winter's Herald)
      Battlemind Utility 16: Shield of the Iron Mind
      Warden Encounter 17: Warden's Lure (replaces Burst of Earth's Fury)
      Battlemind Daily 19: Relentless Strike (replaces Nightmare Vortex)
      Gladiator Champion Daily 20: Finishing Strike

      POWER POINTS: 6

      EQUIPMENT:
      Guardian's Call Mace +4, Darkhide Screaming Armor +5, Cloak of Survival +4, Storm Shield Heavy Shield (Level 8), Circlet of Arkhosia, Belt of Vim (Level 8), Boots of the Fencing Master, Eager Hero's Tattoo (Level 20), Standard Adventurer's Kit, 24600 gold




Level 30 Snapshot
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 Man of Steel, Level 30
      Race: Warforged
      Class: Battlemind/Warden Hybrid
      Multiclass: Fighter
      Paragon Path: Gladiator Champion
      Epic Destiny: Topaz Crusader
      Hybrid Talent: Hybrid Talent (Warden's Armored Might: Stormheart)
      Hybrid Defenses: +2 Will defense
      Background: Vilhon Wilds (+1 initiative, can reroll Dungeoneering)


      FINAL ABILITY SCORES

      Str 26, Con 28, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 12
 

      STARTING ABILITY SCORES

      Str 16, Con 16, Dex 12, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
 

      DEFENSES

      AC: 52 (10 + 15 lvl + 5 armor + 6 magic + 9 stat + 2 shield + 2 feat + 3 ED)
      Fort: 53 (10 + 15 lvl + 6 magic + 9 stat + 2 shield + 2 feat + 3 Item + 2 ED + 4 Typeless)
      Ref: 43 (10 + 15 lvl + 6 magic + 2 stat + 2 shield + 2 feat + 2 ED + 4 Typeless)
      Will: 48 (10 + 15 lvl + 6 magic + 2 stat + 2 shield + 2 feat + 2 Item + 2 Class + 2 ED + 4 Typeless +1 Race)
      HP: 218         Surges: 18      Surge Value: 54
      Resist: 15 Fire, 15 Cold, 15 Lightning, 15 Thunder
      Immune: Dazed, Dominated, Immobilized, Restrained, (optionally) Polymorph


      TRAINED SKILLS

      Athletics +26, Endurance +33, Heal +22, Perception +22
 


      FEATS:

      Level 1: Hybrid Talent
      Level 2: Weapon Expertise (Mace)
      Level 4: Sudden Roots
      Level 6: Mark of Warding
      Level 8: Encouraging Shield
      Level 10: Wrathful Warrior (Train Heal Skill)
      Level 11: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 21)
      Level 12: Paragon Defenses (retrained to Robust Defenses at Level 22)
      Level 14: Dizzying Mace
      Level 16: Danger Sense (retrained to Strength Through Challenge at level 23)
      Level 18: Shield Mastery
      Level 20: Ubiquitous Shield
      Level 21: Rapid Wild Defense
      Level 22: Superior Initiative
      Level 24: Epic Recovery
      Level 26: Epic Reflexes
      Level 28: Epic Will
      Level 30: Epic Fortitude


      POWERS:

      Warden At-Will 1: Weight of Earth
      Battlemind At-Will 1: Conductive Defense
      Warden Daily 1: Form of Winter's Herald
      Battlemind Utility 2: Oaken Resilience (retrain to Invigorating Presence at Level 10)
      Warden Encounter 3: Burst of Earth's Fury
      Battlemind Daily 5: Nightmare Vortex
      Warden Utility 6: Soothing Wind
      Battlemind At-Will 7: Forceful Reversal
      Warden Daily 9: Form of the Oak Sentinel
      Battlemind Daily 10: Battle Aspect
      Gladiator Champion Encounter 11: Opening Ploy
      Gladiator Champion Utility 12: Fail to Disappoint
      Battlemind At-Will 13: Intellect Snap (replaces Conductive Defense)
      Warden Daily 15: Form of the Crushing Mountain (replaces Form of Winter's Herald)
      Battlemind Utility 16: Shield of the Iron Mind
      Warden Encounter 17: Warden's Lure (replaces Burst of Earth's Fury)
      Battlemind Daily 19: Relentless Strike (replaces Nightmare Vortex)
      Gladiator Champion Daily 20: Finishing Strike
      Warden Daily 25: Form of the Autumn Reaper (replaces Form of the Oak Sentinel)
      Warden Daily 29: Form of the Imperious Pheonix (replaces Form of the Crushing Mountain)


      POWER POINTS: 8

      EQUIPMENT:
      Guardian's Call Mace +6, Elderhide Screaming Armor +6, Cloak of Survival +6, Storm Shield Heavy Shield (Level 28), Circlet of Arkhosia, Lightning Reflex Gloves, Belt of Vim (Level 28), Boots of the Fencing Master, Ring of Guarded Will, Foe Binder Ring, Eager Hero's Tattoo (Level 30), Standard Adventurer's Kit, 17000 gold




Progression notes
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To start off, you act somewhat like a regular Warden. Conductive Defense is to have an easy time hitting, and Weight of Earth is your go-to when you absolutely need someone slowed. When you gain Sudden Roots, it loses a bit of its touch, and switching it for Thorn Strike is an option. Your second wind is like a control option + heal, and your assortment of marks allows for easy debuffing. In general, Battlemind's Demand is a fire-and-forget mark you lay on a target, or two targets with the augment. Hybrid Nature's Wrath is reserved for the person you are actively engaging. With Blurred Step at your disposal, enemies will need special movement modes to get away from you.

      Your damage output increases when you hit level 7, gaining Forceful Reversal. This power allows for out of turn damage if all the enemies are being nice and respecting the mark, and allows for repositioning of the front line.

      The end of heroic has you with strong defenses in all slots except reflex, a controlling second wind, a decent amount of slows, and a few different ways to punish.

      Leaping into paragon, your defenses improve, and you get the first real trick in Intellect Snap + Dizzying Mace. Your actively engaged target now lives in hell as you can easily apply an at-will daze with some light damage that gives them a -6 penalty to hit (on top of your -3 to hit anyone that isn't you), and that penalty will only grow as you do. In addition, you gain 2 more power points at the same time. As you continue in paragon, danger sense helps avoid low initiative and the shield feats increase your defenses and makes you tougher to hit no matter what ill befalls you.

      At 16, you gain the Whirlwind of Destruction feature, making adjacent enemies unable to shift to squares that aren't adjacent to you. Coincidentally, the level after gives you a power that pulls all enemies within 4 squares 4 squares. You'll be keeping that power, as now you can run into the fray and magnet a swarm of enemies to you, enemies who will most likely have a tough time escaping.

      Hitting epic level graces you with further power. Daze and Dominate, which for a long time have ruined your plans, can no longer affect you, and you get more AC. A few levels later gets you +2 all defenses and immunity to immobilize and restrained (and optionally polymorph), and the +2 power points are a welcome addition. You also gain an extra use of Second Wind. It rounds out with a PP regaining power, allowing you to use your augments forever.

      Items naturally also play a big part. Guardian's Call lets you shore up a bad defense when you use a Warden Polymorph, and some peices of equipment give double resistances, making you much harder to face down with typed damage. Circlet of Arkhosia helps you conquer Stun, the one effect that always bothers you for your entire career.



Proper Steel Usage
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At levels 1-6, all you have to worry about is marking as many non-minions as you can and getting in their face, applying liberal force. Conductive Defense is for damage, and Weight of Stone is for Slowing targets.

      At levels 7-13, it becomes important to get a good feel of the initiative order (Or, if your DM is kinder than me, just get it straight out). The idea is to use Forceful Reversal at every opportunity as soon as all your marking is complete.  Use it too quickly, and enemies will just ignore you as you now have no punishment. But if you don't use it, that's free damage you're giving up.

At around level 10, you start being able to generate THP regularly, so remember it.

      At levels 14 and on, your main attack will be Intellect Snap. Low damage means nothing when you can utterly cripple a chosen target. You now possess an At-Will Weapon vs. Will attack that Dazes the target, which gives them a -6 penalty to attacks against anyone, even you (and this doesn't even count your mark, or how the penalty will be more severe the more you level up). From this point on, powers all have only a specific use. Your main attack will otherwise be Intellect Snap. USE INTELLECT SNAP. Use it!

    Battle Aspect: Use when a fight doesn't seem to require the power of a full-blown Warden Form.
    Warden Forms: In general, you'll have an offense form (Oak Sentinel or Autumn Reaper) or a Defense form (Winter's Herald, Crushing Mountain, or Imperious Pheonix). Use offensive forms for increased threat and damage, and defense forms for containing enemies and keeping yourself alive. Try not to use more than 1 Polymorph in a given encounter.
    Earth's Fury/Warden's Lure: Earth's Fury is for proning multiple enemies. It upgrades into Warden's Lure, which should be used as soon as possible in non-solo fights to attract enemies in, hopefully forever.
    Soothing Wind and Invigorating Presence: Excuses to use Second Wind with even more benefits. Naturally, to be used when you are in danger of falling unconscious.
    Opening Ploy: For when you direly need to reposition an enemy.
    Finishing Strike: Your big bad attack, if for some reason you need to pump out damage. The stance also messes with enemy movement, provided the enemy has a decent amount of non-minion creatures that like to stick together.



Bizarro World: Modifications YOU can make!
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FEATS:
Sometimes, you play LFR, where obviously Mark of Warding isn't allowed. Or maybe you play in a game where Weapon Expertise is given for free. Never fear, for good options are here.

Vicious Advantage: You slow things a lot. Why not get CA for it too.
Skill Power: Get Invigorating Presence without sacrificing a utility? Yay
Psionic Fortune: Epic has you immune to a lot of things you want to save against, but until then...
Warforged Tactics: +1 to hit for applying melee pressure with allies? Sure, why not
Weapon Proficiency (Singing Stick): It amounts to +1 Accuracy, and lets you use one of the Weapon-Shields from Dragon 385 to gain another +1 AC


ATTACKS:
Only 2 of the powers are really negotiable here: Weight of Earth and Forceful Reversal. Simply put, Weight of Earth loses a lot of its strength when you gain Sudden Roots, but it lets you slow someone you really need slowed, like an enemy you know has a large shift movement, or perhaps you're dazed, which cuts off your Opportunity attacks. However, there's also a good argument for Thorn Strike, an option that gives you range and eventually pulls enemies adjacent, sealing off their ability to escape (if you have a say in it).

Forceful Reversal competes with Lightning Rush, an amazing Battlemind power that changes your battle style completely. However, you already have good punishment with Blurred Step + Warden's Fury, and Warden's Grasp is still some form of disincentive from a distance. Lightning Rush also breaks you away from all the enemies whom you may have been holding in place. Still, it lets you punish from 5 squares away AND redirect the attack completely, So it's clearly a viable (and strong) option.

RACE:
At the moment, it's non-negotiable. Goliath favors two-handed weapons (which you don't use), and the racial power, while strong, requires a bit of forethought. It also overlaps with a good bit of your item selection. On the other hand, Warforged lets you shake ongoing damage easier, gives you a minor action (limited) save, and the THP fills a similar roll to Goliath's Damage reduction.

However, if Dwarf gains the ability to take Str/Con as its stats, it becomes a strong contender. You lose 1 speed, 1 will defense, +2 to save against ongoing, and the THP racial, but you can use your Second Wind as a minor action (which is great, but doesn't mesh well with invigorating presence), gain +5 to Save against poison, the power to save against prone and reduce forced movement, and access to some of the amazing Dwarf feats.

Mul is also a good option, trading off Trance for Tireless and Warforged Resolve for Incredible Toughness. However, to fully take advantage of Mul, you need access to their feats (namely Humanity's Heir and Inexhaustable Resources) and you're already hard up for feats. Still, if you get some free feats, it's a solid choice.

THEME:
Let's say you're given the wonderful go to give your character a theme. As of this writing, the clear winner of themes is the Gladiator (from Dark Sun). Disrupting advance is a strong damage attack that also lets you reposition the front line, making life easier in your early game life. It also deals good damage considering the other attacks you do. It also opens up the Keep Them Close feat at epic, making your fire-and-forget marks extremely annoying for the enemy team. If you have access to that, take it instead of Epic Recovery.


As always, comments, criticism, and pointing out glaring flaws is always welcome. After all, steel is stronger when folded.

Special Thanks To: The many guides and builds on the forums, for inspiration and a good outline for formatting.
Very cool man.  Awesome flavor, I approve of anything comic themed.  Also pretty impressive your actually using a mace.  Looking forward to seeing this one develop.
The HP value looks a bit low at L30. I'm pretty sure a BM|Warden is tougher than that.

Overall, I greatly approve of your power selection, though I would suggest the addition of the Gladiator Theme and the Keep Them Close feat. I think it has the potential to give you a very strong option.
I wonder, how would a Singing Stick work with this build? It's a +3, off-hand defensive 1d6 mace. Would the extra accuracy make up for the lower damage?

Also, how would the two other official Str/Con races, Minotaur and Mul, work with this?

A list of CharOp Handbooks I'm currently updating:

Heart of the Dragon: A Dragonborn's Handbook

Infernal Wrath: A Tiefling's Handbook

Updated the main post to reflect changes in typoes, as well as add a scant section on Themes.

Concerning the Singing Stick, your main attack doesn't care about weapon damage, so it is a massive upgrade. You can even combine it with one of those fancy Heavy Shields that are also a weapon to get the +1 AC out of it. The problem is that the build is already hard up for feats, finding something to cut for proficiency may be difficult.

As for the other Str/Con races, Minotaur is a no. Charging lets you cover some nice ground, but it makes it harder to get out the marks in a timely manner. The racial only reinforces charging, and +1 surge shouldn't come into play considering your wealth of surges. And Ferocity isn't much of a consolation price considering your damage.

Mul, on the other hand, is solid. Being able to take Dwarf feats can make your second wind insane (although you don't want to be relying on it too much). Mul Vitality is somewhat moot, and Tireless is useful if strange. Incredible Toughness is a pretty big game changer over Warforged Resolve, allowing you reliably shake daze and stun early on, and even after getting the Topaz Crusader stuff it allows you to halt ongoing damage. I'm personally still partial to Warforged, considering that to make the most of Mul you need the dwarf and Mul feats to support it. If you're in one of those games and get free feats though, I'd definately go Mul.
Okay, a couple recommendations looking at level 30 (work backward from there):

1. Train out Danger Sense--> Strength Through Challenge once you pick up Superior Initiative in epic.
2. Swap out your Helm of Able Defense for a Circlet of Arkhosia (L18), and swap your Greater Ring of Invisibility for a Ring of Guarded Will.
 
Yeah, Strength Through Challenge was a no brainer that I forgot. It is now added.

I have also changed some items, after some thought. Mostly, I forgot about Circlet of Arkhosia, and while I favor never being hit to prevent being stunned instead of saving, the glaring weak point in Reflex means I must plan for the inevitable Stun vs. Reflex (which I've seen a lot of).

Also added was a bit more clarification, and some more fixed Math. Yay.