The Instinctive Summoner - A Super Tough Dwarven Summoner

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The Instinctive Summoner – Druid / Primal Summoner / Indomitable Champion

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This build uses the following sources:
AV - Adventurer's Vault
AV 2 - Adventurer's Vault 2
D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX
PE: HoFL - Player’s Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Land
PE: HoFK - Player’s Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdom
PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB 2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB 3 - Player's Handbook 3
PHH 1 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 1
PrP - Primal Power

Level 1 Snapshot

Race: Dwarf (PE: HoFL)
Class: Druid (PHB 2)
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian (PHB 2)

Ability Scores, with racial adjustments:
Strength 12 (+1)
Constitution 18 (+4)
Dexterity 12 (+1)
Intelligence 10 (+0)
Wisdom 18 (+4)
Charisma 8 (-1)

HP: 30 --> 12 base, +18 Constitution
Bloodied: 15 HP or less
Healing Surges: 11 --> 7 base + 4 ability (Constitution)
Healing Surge Value: 7 HP

AC: 17 --> 10 base, +3 armor + 4 ability (Constitution)
Fortitude: 14 --> 10 base, +4 ability (Constitution)
Reflex: 12 --> 10 base, +1 ability (Reflex), +1 class
Will: 15 --> 10 base. +4 ability (Wisdom), +1 class

Initiative: +0 --> +0 ability (Dexterity)

Speed: 5 --> 5 Base

At-Will Attack Powers:
L1 - Grasping Tide (PHH 1)
L1 - Savage Rend (PHB 2)
L1 - Fire Hawk (PrP)

Racial Powers:
L1 - Dwarven Resilience (PE: HoFL)

Encounter Attack Powers:
L1 - Frost Flash (PHB 2)

Daily Attack Powers:
L1 - Summon Giant Toad (PrP)

Skills:
Endurance (+7) --> +4 ability (Constitution) +5 trained, -1 armor
Insight (+9) --> +4 ability (Wisdom) +5 trained
Nature (+9) --> +4 ability (Wisdom), +5 trained
Perception (+9) --> +4 ability (Wisdom), +5 trained

Feats:
L1 – Staff Expertise (PE: HoFL)

Gear (Expected GP = 100):
Staff (AV) (5gp)
Hide Armor (PHB) (30gp)
Standard Adventurer's kit (PHB) (15gp)
Total: 50gp

Who you are:

Here you are at the beginning of career, just a fresh druid out of school sent out into the big bad world on a mission to protect nature. Luckily it seems you had good teachers as you are well equipped to handle the rigors of adventuring. While other controllers may be fragile little things that need protecting you are able to stand toe to toe with most creatures and come out on top. Meanwhile your extensive training with the staff has helped you to avoid being hit while casting you nature magic and made you more accurate then most.  


Level 11 snapshot

Race: Dwarf (PE: HoFL)
Class: Druid (PHB 2)
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian (PHB 2)
Paragon Path: Primal Summoner (PrP)

Ability Scores, with racial adjustment:
Strength 13 (+1)
Constitution 21 (+5)
Dexterity 13 (+1)
Intelligence 11 (+0)
Wisdom 21 (+5)
Charisma 9 (-1)

HP: 83 --> 12 base, +21 Constitution, +50 levels, +10 Toughness
Bloodied: 41 HP or less
Healing Surges: 13 --> 7 base, +5 Constitution, +2 Dwarven Durability
Healing Surge Value: 25 --> 20 base, +5 Dwarven Durability

AC: 26 --> 10 base, +3 armor, +5 ability (Constitution), +5 levels, +2 enhancement, +1 shield
Fortitude: 23 --> 10 base, +5 ability (Constitution), +5 levels, +2 enhancement, +1 item
Reflex: 21 --> 10 base, +1 ability (Dexterity), +5 levels, +2 enhancement, +1 shield, +1 Class
Will: 24 --> 10 base, +5 ability (Wisdom), +5 levels, +2 enhancements, +1 class

Initiative: +15 --> +5 ability (Wisdom), +4 Improved Initiative, +5 levels, +1 item

Speed: 5 --> 5 base

At-Will Attack Powers:
L1 - Grasping Tide (PHH 1)
L1 - Savage Rend (PHB 2)
L1 - Fire Hawk (PrP)

Racial Powers:
L1 - Dwarven Resilience (PE: HoFL)

Encounter Attack Powers:
L1 - Frost Flash (PHB 2)
L3 - Call Lightning (PHB 2)
L7 - Tremor (PHB 2)
L11 - Redfang Prophecy (PrP)

Daily Attack Powers:
L1 - Summon Giant Toad (PrP)
L5 - Summon Shadow Ape (PrP)
L9 - Summon Crocodile (PrP)

Utility Powers:
L2 - Barkskin (PHB 2)
L6 - Rebuking Thorns (PrP)
L10 - Reactive Surge (PHB 3)

Skills:
Endurance (+14) --> +5 ability (Constitution), +5 levels, +5 trained, -1 armor
Insight (+15) --> +5 ability (Wisdom), +5 levels, +5 trained
Nature (+15) --> +5 ability (Wisdom), +5 levels, +5 trained
Perception (+15) --> +5 ability (Wisdom), +5 levels, +5 trained
 
Feats:
L1 - Staff Expertise (PE: HoFL)
L2 - Superior Implement Training: Accurate Staff (PHB 3)
L4 - Hafted Defense (PHB 3)
L6 - Battle Awarness (PE: HoFK)
L8 - Melee Training: Wisdom (PE: HoFL)
L10 - Improved Initiative (PHB)
L11 - Dwarven Durability (PHB)

Changes:
+6 HP
Ability Score Boosts: +1 Strength (14), +1 Constitution (21), +1 Dexterity (12), +1 Intelligence (11), +1 Wisdom (21), +1 Charisma (9)
New Encounter Attack Power: Redfang Prophecy (PrP)
New Feat: Dwarven Durability (PHB)
Paragon Path: Primal Summoner (PrP)

Magic Items (Expected GP = 32,000):
L10 (5,000gp): Diamond Cincture (Heroic Tier) (AV)
L10 (5,000gp): +2 Lifeblood Hide Armor (PHB 2)
L7 (4,200gp): +2 Cloak of Distortion (AV)
L7 (2,600gp): +2 Accurate Summoner’s Staff (AV 2)
L6 (1,800gp): Iron Armbands of Power (Heroic Tier) (AV)
L4 (840gp): Casque of Tactics (Heroic Tier) (AV)
TOTAL: 19,440gp
 
Who you are:

It has been several years since you first walked out into the world as a new protector of the land and you have learned more in that time period then you ever did back at school. After years of practice you have begun to master the art of summoning the spirits of nature to aid you in battle. While these spirits are powerful they you have not neglected you own personal power remain ever the stalwart guardian and powerful spell caster. Meanwhile through your travels you have picked up many items to aid you in your fight against the unnatural forces of the world ranging from the mundane shield you now carry to the powerful Summoner’s Staff you wield.


Level 21 Snapshot

Race: Dwarf (PE: HoFL)
Class: Druid (PHB 2)
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian (PHB 2)
Paragon Path: Primal Summoner (PrP)
Epic Destiny: Indomitable Champion (PE: HoFL)

Ability Scores, with racial adjustments:
Strength 14 (+2)
Constitution 26 (+8)
Dexterity 14 (+2)
Intelligence 12 (+1)
Wisdom 26 (+8)
Charisma 10 (+1)

HP: 138 --> 12 base, +26 Constitution, +100 levels,
Bloodied: 69 HP or less
Healing Surges: 17 --> 7 base, +8 Constitution, +2 Dwarven Durability
Healing Surge Value: 42 HP --> 34 Base, +8 Dwarven Durability

AC: 39 --> 10 base, +6 armor. +8 ability (Constitution), +10 levels, +4 enhancement, +1 shield
Fortitude: 37 --> 10 base, +8 ability (Constitution), +10 levels, +4 enhancement, +3 feat, +2 Item
Reflex: 31 --> 10 base, +2 ability (Dexterity), +10 levels, +4 enhancement, +3 feat, +1 shield, +1 Class
Will: 36 --> 10 base, +8 ability (Wisdom), +10 levels, +4 enhancement, +3 feat, +1 Class

Initiative: +24 --> +8 ability (Wisdom), +4 Improved Initiative, +10 levels, +2 item

Speed: 5 --> 5 base

At-Will Attack Powers:
L1 - Grasping Tide (PHH 1)
L1 - Savage Rend (PHB 2)
L1 - Fire Hawk (PrP)

Racial Powers:
L1 - Dwarven Resilience (PE: HoFL)

Encounter Attack Powers:
L7 - Tremor (PHB 2)
L11 - Redfang Prophecy (PrP)
L13 - Oak Skewer (PrP)
L17 - Wind Storm (PHB 2)

Daily Attack Powers:
L1 - Summon Giant Toad (PrP)
L9 - Summon Crocodile (PrP)
L9 - Summon Guardian Briar (PrP)
L20 - Summon Primal Slayer (PrP)

Utility Powers:
L2 - Barkskin (PHB 2)
L6 - Rebuking Thorns (PrP)
L10 - Reactive Surge (PHB 3)
L12 - Tightened Control (PrP)
L16 - Primal Restoration (PHB 2)

Skills:
Endurance (+23) --> +8 ability (Constitution), +10 levels, +5 trained
Insight (+23) --> +8 ability (Wisdom), +10 levels, +5 trained
Nature (+23) --> +8 ability (Wisdom), +10 levels, +5 trained
Perception (+23) --> +8 ability (Wisdom), +10 levels, +5 trained

Feats:
L1 - Staff Expertise (PE: HoFL)
L2 - Superior Implement Training: Accurate Staff (PHB 3)
L4 - Hafted Defense (PHB 3)
L6 - Battle Awareness (PE: HoFK)
L8 - Melee Training: Wisdom (PE: HoFL)
L10 - Improved Initiative (PHB)
L11 - Dwarven Durability (PHB)
L12 - Strong Willed Summoning (PrP)
L16 - Improved Defense (PE: HoFL)
L18 - Uncanny Dodge (PHB)
L20 - Implement Focus (PE: HoFL)
L21 - Primal Resurgence (PHB 2)
L21 - Second Skin (PrP)

Changes:
+8 HP
Ability Score Boosts: +1 Strength (15), +3 Constitution (26), +1 Dexterity (13), +1 Intelligence (12), +3 Wisdom (26), +1 Charisma (10)
New Epic Destiny: Ceaseless Guardian (D 387)
New Feats: Primal Resurgence (PHB 2), Second Skin (PHB 2) (replaces Armor Specialization: Hide)

Magic Items (Expected GP = 800,000):
L20 (125,000gp): +4 Lifeblood  Armor (Phb 2)
L20 (125,000gp): Diamond Cincture (Paragon Tier) (AV 2)
L19 (105,000gp): +4 Cloak of Distortion (AV)
L17 (65,000gp): +4 Accurate Summoner’s Staff (AV 2)
L16 (45,000gp): Iron Armbands of Power (Paragon Tier) (AV)
L14 (21.000gp): Casque of Tactics (Paragon Tier) (AV)
TOTAL: 486,000

Who you are:

It has been a long road and many have fallen in the defense of the land but you remain standing. A hero among heroes you, but your journey through this world is not over. There are many trials left many wrongs that must be righted and you are prepared. You are now a truly powerful Summoner able to direct you creatures with the ease of years of practice meanwhile you have continued to embrace your natural toughness. A mountain in the sea of chaos you stand against all comers trusting in the spirits of nature to protect you, and see you through to the next day.


Level 30 Snapshot

Race: Dwarf (PE: HoFL)
Class: Druid (PHB 2)
Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian (PHB 2)
Paragon Path: Primal Summoner (PrP)
Epic Destiny: Indomitable Champion (EP: HoFL)

Ability Scores, with racial adjustments:
Strength 15 (+2)
Constitution 28 (+9)
Dexterity 13 (+1)
Intelligence 12 (+1)
Wisdom 28 (+9)
Charisma 10 (+0)

HP: 205 --> 12 base, +28 Constitution, +145 levels, +15 Toughness, +20 Epic Resilience
Bloodied: 102 HP or less
Healing Surges: 18 --> 7 base, +9 Constitution, +2 Dwarven Durability
Healing Surge Value: 60 HP --> 51 Base, +9 Dwarven Durability

AC: 48 --> 10 base, +7 armor, +9 ability (Constitution), +15 levels, +6 enhancement, +1 shield
Fortitude: 50 --> 10 base, +9 ability (Constitution), +15 levels, +6 enhancement, +3  feat, +2 item, +4 Epic Fortitude, +1 Epic Resilience
Reflex: 45 --> 10 base, +2 ability (Dexterity), +15 levels, +6 enhancement, +3 feat, +1 shield, +2 item, +4 Epic Reflexes, +1 Epic Resilience, +1 Class
Will: 51 --> 10 base, +9 ability (Wisdom), +15 levels, +6 enhancement, +3 feat, +2 item, +4 Epic Will, +1 Epic Resilience, +1 Class

Initiative: +37 --> +9 ability (Wisdom), +8 Superior Initiative, +15 levels, +5 item

Speed: 5 --> 5 base

At-Will Attack Powers:
L1 - Grasping Tide (PHH 1)
L1 - Savage Rend (PHB 2)
L1 - Fire Hawk (PrP)

Racial Powers:
L1 - Dwarven Resilience (PE: HoFL)

Encounter Attack Powers:
L11 - Redfang Prophecy (PrP)
L17 - Windstorm (PHB 2)
L23 - Fungal Eruption (D 386)
L27 - Disorienting Drown (PrP)

Daily Attack Powers:
L9 - Summon Crocodile (PrP)
L20 - Summon Primal Slayer (PrP)
L25 - Writhing Hedge (PrP)
L29 - Summon Elder Pack Wolf (PrP)

Utility Powers:
L2 - Barkskin (PHB 2)
L6 - Rebuking Thorns (PrP)
L10 - Reactive Surge (PHB 3)
L12 - Tightened Control (PrP)
L16 - Primal Restoration (PHB 2)
L22 - Tortoise Shell (PrP)
L26 – Epic Tenacity (PE HoFL)
L30 – Unmatched Defense (PE: HoFL)

Skills:
Endurance (+29) --> +9 ability (Constitution), +15 levels, +5 trained
Insight (+29) --> +9 ability (Wisdom), +15 levels, +5 trained
Nature (+29) --> +9 ability (Wisdom), +15 levels, +5 trained
Perception (+29) --> +9 ability (Wisdom), +15 levels, +5 trained

Feats:
L1 - Staff Expertise (PE: HoFL)
L2 - Superior Implement Training: Accurate Staff (PHB 3)
L4 - Hafted Defense (PHB 3)
L6 - Battle Awareness (PE: HoFK)
L8 - Melee Training: Wisdom (PE: HoFL)
L11 - Dwarven Durability (PHB)
L12 - Implement Focus (PE: HoFL)
L16 - Improved Defense (PE: HoFL)
L18 - Uncanny Dodge (PHB)
L20 - Strong Willed Summoning (PrP)
L21 - Primal Resurgence (PHB 2)
L21 - Second Skin (PrP)
L22 - Epic Reflexes (PHB 2)
L22 - Superior Initiative (PHB 3)
L24 - Danger Sense (PHB)
L26 - Epic Fortitude (PHB 2)
L28 - Primal Summoning Expertise (PrP) 
L30 - Epic Will (PHB 2)

Changes:
+5 HP
+1 to attacks, defenses, and checks
New Feat: Epic Will (PHB 2)

Magic Items (Expected GP = 14,625,000):
L30 (3,125,000gp): +6 Lifeblood Elderhide Armor (PHB 2)
L29 (2,625,000gp): +6 Cloak of Distortion (AV)
L27 (1,625,000gp): +6 Accurate Summoner’s Staff (AV 2)
L26 (1,125,000gp): Iron Armbands of Power (Epic Tier) (AV)
L24 (525,000gp): Boots of Caiphon (AV 2)
L23 (425,000gp): Eye of Awareness (AV)
L20 (125,000gp): Diamond Cincture (Paragon Tier) (AV 2)
TOTAL: 9,575,000gp

Who you are:

It has been a good life, and your time is coming to a close. One last adventure is waiting for you, the final journey you must take. You legacy is written into the history of the land and few in the world can match you power and fame. Woe to all those who would dare defile the land for you are the oncoming storm sent to destroy them and none shall deter you from your mission.  
 

Special Thanks:
Koval: For helping me develop the concept
MC Drowbane: For pushing me to make a controller

The Breakdown


The Core Concept:


The core concept here is to use the powerful druid summons and their instinctive actions to have them fight for you with out eating up your own actions. To that end you spend a lot of time actually buffing yourself up so that the summons you create are as powerful as can be. This also has the added effect of turning you into a tank in your own right making you one of the toughest controllers out there and freeing up party resources that would normally be spent on protecting you. Now we will look at some of the key parts of the build in more detail.

Part 1 - Summoning

This is your primary avenue for control. All of your summons throughout your career have the ability to really be a thorn in your enemy’s side whether it is by debuffing, lockdown, or ally buffing all of them make your enemies job of killing you and your allies much harder. Thanks to Paragon Path’s level 16 feature you are easily able to position the summons where they can do the most damage with out actually needing to spend any action to do so. Once in position their powerful Instinctive Actions go to work and mess with your enemies plans. Also on a side note here by epic your are sporting 4 summons with the ability to recharge one meaning that all together you can expect to have 5 summons to use per day.


Part 2 - Active Control

With your summons using their Instinctive Action to hinder your enemy you are free to spend your action to control in a more traditional way. You pick up an array of implement powers that allow you to actively control your enemies and to be the go to minion popper. Generally your control effects are about forced movement and status effects such as prone, daze and stun. While these effects are not as powerful as those of some other controllers when you combine them with the control provided by your summons and your natural toughness you get a powerful combination of active and passive control.


Part 3 - Durability


Thanks to your race and your various class features and feats you end up with some very strong durability. Now the primary reason for this is to make your summons tougher as their durability is based on your own, but it does have some other uses besides helping to make your summons more powerful. One of the best uses is as human shield for your allies much like a defender engages enemies in melee and attempts to draw their fire you can do the same and with Staff Expertise you can do so while continuing to blast away with your ranged powers. This creates a powerful combo where you can tie up some enemies in melee while keeping pressure on the enemies back row with your implement attacks and thanks to your staff and melee training still have accurate OA attacks to use against you enemies.


Part 4 - Item Independence


Now while there are some items out there that are really good for the build and several of them are included in the above build you don’t need any of them to be effective. You basic ability to do your job does not require anything more then basic a basic magical staff, armor, and neck slot item. This allows for you to adapt the basic build through items as you desire and be a powerful and effective character throughout all tiers of play.

Now the other side of the Item Independence is that you can drasticly increase the power of the build via Item Optimization. You can switch some feats around and easily push things to another level, but the basics will be the same just enhanced by powerful item combos.

Important Numbers




In this section we are going to look at the durability, accuracy, and damage your summons bring to the table.


Basic Summons Info

Level 1

Base Stats
HP: 15 AC: 17 Fort: 14 Ref: 12 Will: 15
 
Giant Toad Attack: +5 vs. Reflex, Reach 3
Hit: 1d8+4 damage, and the Target is Pulled 2 squares
Critical: 12 damage, and the Target is Pulled 2 squares


Level 11

Base Stats
HP: 46 AC: 26 Fort: 23 Ref: 21 Will: 24
 
Giant Toad Attack: +17 vs. Reflex, Reach 3
Hit: 1d8+9 damage, and the Target is Pulled 2 squares
Critical: 2d10+17 damage, and the Target is Pulled 2 squares
 
Shadow Ape Attack: +17 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d8+9 damage, and all creatures have concealment verse the targets attacks until the end of your next turn
Critical: 2d10+17 damage, and all creatures have concealment verse the targets attacks until the end of your next turn
 
Crocodile Attack: +17 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d8+9 damage, and the target is grabbed taking a -3 to escape attempts verses the grab
Critical: 2d10+17 damage, and the target is grabbed taking a -3 to escape attempts verses the grab.


Level 21

Base Stats
HP: 76 AC: 39 Fort: 37 Ref: 31 Will: 36
 
Giant Toad Attack: +27 vs. Reflex, Reach 3
Hit: 1d8+19 damage, and the Target is Pulled 2 squares
Critical: 4d10+27 damage, and the Target is Pulled 2 squares
 
Crocodile Attack: +27 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d8+19 damage, and the target is grabbed taking a -3 to escape attempts verses the grab
Critical: 4d10+27 damage, and the target is grabbed taking a -3 to escape attempts verses the grab
 
Guardian Briar Attack: +27 vs. Reflex, Reach 2
Hit: 2d8+19 damage
Critical: 4d10+34 damage
 
Medium Primal Slayer Attack: +27 vs. AC, Reach 2, two targets
Hit: 2d12+19 damage
Critical: 4d10+40 damage,
Large Primal Slayer Attack: +27 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d10+19 damage
Critical: 4d10+49 damage

Level 30

Base Stats
HP: 110 AC: 48 Fort: 50 Ref: 45 Will: 51
 
Crocodile Attack: +37 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d8+24 damage, and the target is grabbed taking a -3 to escape attempts verses the grab
Critical: 6d10+32 damage, and the target is grabbed taking a -3 to escape attempts verses the grab
 
Medium Primal Slayer Attack: +37 vs. AC, Reach 2, two targets
Hit: 2d12+24 damage
Critical: 4d10+48 damage,
Large Primal Slayer Attack: +37 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d10+24 damage
Critical: 6d10+54 damage 

Writhing Hedge Attack: +37 vs. Reflex, Reach 2, 6 attacks
Hit: 2d8+24 damage, ongoing 5 damage (save ends), slide the target 3 squares
Critical: 6d10+40 damage, ongoing 5 damage (save ends), slide the target 3 squares
 
Elder Pack Wolf Attack: +37/+36 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d10+24 damage, and Knock the Target Prone
Critical: 6d10+44 damage, and Knock the Target Prone
Elder Pack Wolf OA Attack: +36 vs. Reflex
Trigger: An Adjacent creature stands up from prone
Hit: 2d10+24 damage, the target is unable to stand up until the start of its next turn
Critical: 6d10+44 damage, the target is unable to stand up until the start of its next turn
Tactics


You are a Wall:


One of the things this build incorporates is toughness comparable to some of the toughest defenders out there. This in itself is a tool you can use. Being able to position yourself where you can hinder enemy’s movement much like you would a wall. This gets even better when used in tandem with your summons give you two bodies to move and block and hinder enemy movement. You can also use this with your allies to enable them with CA and to help your defender keep enemies close by being a second line of defense.


This also combines well with your ability to use ranged spells in melee with out provoking OA attacks. This allows you to engage enemies in melee by putting yourself in their way, meanwhile you can use your ranged spell to hit whatever enemies you want. This can allow you to hinder a group of enemies by closing with them in melee and then hitting another group with your powers to either hinder of to focus fire with your allies. The key with this is your toughness is a versatile tool in your bag of tricks.

Use your Summons Wisely:

Your summons aren’t just attacks they are creatures in their own right able to act independently or in tandem with your allies. It is important to know when to have your summons isolate enemies or have them work in tandem. Obviously the big question here is how many enemies you are facing. When you are facing just a few tough enemies then you want to use your summons to focus fire on a single target, however if you are facing multiple powerful enemies if you can position your summons to delay one or two powerful enemies that can be a big shift in the combat reducing your enemies ability to focus fire.


The battlefield also plays a big difference here if you have a large open space to play with you can more easily isolate some enemies with combining your summons abilities and your forced movement effects, on the other hand the ability to use your summons and yourself as a wall is reduced. Meanwhile in a more closed off battlefield the ability to isolate enemies is reduced but you can much more easily position yourself and summons to drastically reduce enemy’s ability to move around. Basically it is key with this build to adapt the tactics you use with your summons to the fight at hand as if you don’t you will find yourself lacking effectiveness.


The final thing is to use the right summon for the job. Each of your summons does something different. Some are more mobile, some can lockdown a single target, while others do more damage. When you start the combat you need to make a gut call as to which of your summons will be the most effective in this situation. Now even if you pick a summon that is not quite right for the combat there is still a lot you can do will all you summons in nearly every situation you just have to adapt which is what summons I find are best at.


Action Advantage is made of Win:


In any game if you can do more in the same period of time as your enemies then you have an advantage. With your summons instinctive action and your ability to throw down your own powers you have this advantage. You are effectively getting 2 standard action attacks each round. It is important that you capitalize on this ability by maximizing the impact of these actions as it is by far you biggest advantage over other builds. This is especially true in long combats where you can get multiple turns of action advantage.


Now the question is how to use your action advantage there are two main ways to use this. The first is to focus fire and try to lockdown and take out and single or group of enemies quickly which for many combat will be a strong tactic. On the other hand you can also use this ability to hinder multiple groups of enemies at once. Since your summons are creatures in their own right as such you can have them engage one group of enemies while you close and engage another group. You can even combine this multi target hindrance with your ability to use ranged powers in melee to hinder up to three groups of enemies at the same. The key here is much like with the summons you need to adapt to the situation which with your bag of tricks shouldn’t be to hard.


Versatility is Key


The key here is that you a more versatile controller then others due to your ability to mix things up at ranged and melee to your durability and ability to gain action and numbers advantage. You are not a clear cut controller who lays down a single powerful effect to hinder your enemies then uses smaller effects to keep them hindered. You use multiple small effects at the same time to add up to a powerful effect then keep these small effects coming to keep the more powerful effect going. It is not just about one basic tactic it is about a variety of tactics that when used together and at the right time allow you to help turn the tide of battle.

Variants



Hybrid: Invoker|Druid

Build

Race: Dwarf (PE: HoFL)
Class: Druid|Invoker (PHB 3)
Covenant Manifestation: Manifestation of Wrath (PHB 2)
Hybrid Talent: Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian (PHB 2)
Paragon Path: Pack Lord (PrP)
Epic Destiny: Indomitable Champion (PE: HoFL)

Starting Ability Scores, with racial adjustments:
Strength  10 (+0)
Constitution 18 (+4)
Dexterity 12 (+1)
Intelligence 10 (+0)
Wisdom 18 (+4)
Charisma 10 (+0)

Final Ability Scores, with racial adjustments:
Strength  12 (+1)
Constitution 28 (+9)
Dexterity 14 (+2)
Intelligence 12 (+1)
Wisdom 28 (+9)
Charisma 12 (+1)

HP: 190 --> 11 base, +28 Constitution, +116 levels, +15 Toughness, +20 Epic Resilience
Bloodied: 95 HP or less
Healing Surges: 17 --> 6 base, +9 Constitution + 2 Dwarven Durability
Healing Surge Value: 56 HP --> 47 Base, +9 Racial

AC: 48 --> 10 base, +7 armor, +9 ability (Constitution), +15 levels, +6 enhancement, +1 shield
Fortitude: 50 --> 10 base, +9 ability (Constitution), +15 levels, +6 enhancement, +3  feat, +2 item, +4 Epic Fortitude, +1 Epic Resilience
Reflex: 46 --> 10 base, +2 ability (Dexterity), +15 levels, +6 enhancement, +3 feat, +1 shield, +2 item, +4 Epic Reflexes, +1 Epic Resilience, +2 Class
Will: 50 --> 10 base, +9 ability (Wisdom), +15 levels, +6 enhancement, +3 feat, +2 item, +4 Epic Will, +1 Epic Resilience

Initiative: +24 --> +2 ability (Dexterity), +8 Superior Initiative, +15 levels, +5 item

Speed: 5 --> 5 base

At-Will Attack Powers:
L1 - Grasping Tide (PHH 1)
L1 - Hand of Radiance (PHB 2)

Racial Powers:
L1 - Dwarven Resilience (PE: HoFL)

Encounter Attack Powers:
L1 - Thunder of Judgment (PHB 2) (Replaced by Deadly Doubt)
L3 - Call Lightning (PHB) (Replaced by Wind Storm)
L7 - Rain of Blood (DP)
L11 - Alpha’s Command (PrP)
L13 - Deadly Doubt (DP)
L17 - Windstorm (PHB 2) (Replaced by Fungal Eruption)
L23 - Fungal Eruption (D 386) (Replaced by Diorienting Drone)
L27 - Disorienting Drone (PrP)
 
Daily Attack Powers:
L1 - Summon Giant Toad (PrP) (Replaced by Writhing Henge)
L5 - Dawns Blazing Fingers (D 383) (Replaced by Wall of Blades)
L9 - Summon Blade Angle (PHB 2) (Replaced by Angle of Victory)
L15 - Wall of Blades (PHB 2)  (Replaced by Guardian Briar)
L19 - Guardian Briar (PrP)
L20 - Summon Crocodile (PrP)
L25 - Writhing Henge (PrP)
L29 - Summon Angel of Victory (PHB 2)

Utility Powers:
L2 - Barkskin (PHB 2)
L6 - Guardian Angel (DP)
L10 - Angelic Messenger (D 383)
L12 - Full Pack (PrP)
L10 - Reactive Surge (PHB 3)
L22 - Tortoise Shell (PrP)
L26 – Epic Tenacity (PE HoFL)
L30 – Unmatched Defense (PE: HoFL)

Skills:
Endurance (+29) --> +9 ability (Constitution), +15 levels, +5 trained
Nature (+29) --> +9 ability (Wisdom), +15 levels, +5 trained
Perception (+29) --> +9 ability (Wisdom), +15 levels, +5 trained

Feats:
L1 - Hybrid Talent (PHB 3)
L2 - Staff Expertise (PE: HoFL)
L4 - Superior Implement Training: Accurate Staff (PHB 3)
L6 - Hafted Defense (PHB 3)
L8 - Toughness (PHB)
L10 - Improved Initiative (PHB) (Retrained to Superior Initiative)
L11 - Carceri’s Manacles (D 387)
L12 - Dwarven Durability (PHB)
L14 - Improved Defense (PE: HoFL)
L16 - Armor Specialization: Hide (PHB) (Retrained to Second Skin)
L18 - Uncanny Dodge (PHB)
L20 - Melee Training: Wisdom (PE: HoFL)
L21 - Primal Summoning Expertise (PrP)
L21 - Second Skin (PrP)
L22 - Primal Resurgence (PHB 2)
L22 - Superior Initiative (PHB 3)
L24 - Epic Reflexes (PHB 2)
L26 - Implement Focus: Staff (PE: HoFL)
L28 - Epic Fortitude (PHB 2)
L30 - Epic Will (PHB 2)

Magic Items (Expected GP = 14,625,000):
L30 (3,125,000gp): +6 Lifeblood Elderhide Armor (PHB 2)
L29 (2,625,000gp): +6 Cloak of Distortion (AV)
L27 (1,625,000gp): +6 Accurate Summoner’s Staff (AV 2)
L26 (1,125,000gp): Iron Armbands of Power (Epic Tier) (AV)
L24 (525,000gp): Boots of Caiphon (AV 2)
L23 (425,000gp): Eye of Awareness (AV)
L20 (125,000gp): Diamond Cincture (Paragon Tier) (AV 2)
TOTAL: 9,575,000gp

What has Changed

This variant is designed trades out some of the primary builds durability for access to some of the stronger control powers of the invoker. Since the build is no longer relying on instinctive action it does not have the action advantage as much action advantage as the primary build. If you want a more traditional controller then this variant of the build can go along way towards that. You can easily switch out some of the powers for others of you choice and not loss much overall.



 


Questions, Comments, and Feedback Welcome




this... is... awesome.
I've been playing a build incredibly similiar to this in a game for the past three months or so.  We've gotten to 11th just last weekend, so I'm only just coming into my own but it really does work rather well.  I disagree with some of your choices in the at-will and encounter departments, but otherwise I'm glad to see someone besides me is trying to make a caster type druid.  Thanks for the validation and the smile. ^^

@ MC drowbane

Thanks, it turned out better then I expected.

@Avavanus

I would love to get your thoughts on powers selection. I tried to stear clear of wildshape powers becuse with the build they actually act as a debuff to your defense since you can't get the hafted defense bonus while in wild shape. You also can't direct your Summons while in wildshape and while generally you will leave them on auto pilot sometimes you may want to take direct control.

Also I tried to pick ranged powers as a means to be able to tie up multiple enemies at once in combination with the builds. I am always looking to improve my builds so if you have any suggestion feel free to post them.

Hybrid Wrathvoker, raise con and wise, and the nice thing is you'll have powers like Rain of Blood to boost both your allies and your summons. Besides, Invoker gets some nice Minor Action Summons too, and some strong controlish power to compensate for Druid's lack of hard control.

Chilling wind and Thorn Whip are really really weak, compared to Grasping Tide. And since many summons lack opportunity attack and most summons tend to attack only one enemy, moving them beside your summon generally is less reliable than dropping the summons around your defenders.

That said, I'm not overall a fan of druidic summons. Their distinctive action usually is  to soft control only one target, which is really not the main job for a controller, who would always aim to hard control multiple targets, especially with their precious daily. In fact the wizard might even have more powerful summons that would really draw the attention of the enemies thus function more well to be damage sink at least.
@Alenlichen

Sounds like an interesting variant. I will work one up and add it to the variants section when I get a chance.
You're underselling the summon's crits there.  The Summoner's Staff gives your summons d10 crit dice.

Other than that, quality straightforward build!
@Rokku

Thanks for the catch, and glad you like it.

I know the idea isn't super orginal but I felt that it was odd no one had actually stated and posted one of these up before so thought it was about time. Overall I am actually really pleased with the result, and with the addition of Essentials the build has a nice verstile base able to work in melee, and ranged with relative ease and spread fire to keep mutliple enemies busy or focus fire with some really solid power.
@Avavanus


I would love to get your thoughts on powers selection. I tried to stear clear of wildshape powers becuse with the build they actually act as a debuff to your defense since you can't get the hafted defense bonus while in wild shape. You also can't direct your Summons while in wildshape and while generally you will leave them on auto pilot sometimes you may want to take direct control.

Also I tried to pick ranged powers as a means to be able to tie up multiple enemies at once in combination with the builds. I am always looking to improve my builds so if you have any suggestion feel free to post them.



The defenses of summons are set when you summon them, they don't change based on what you do afterwards. (Plus a good DM ought to let you keep Hafted Defense bonuses, druids don't get many AC buffs. I guess it's apparently not RAW, though.) You also absolutely can command your summons in Wild Shape, "using" powers has been clarified to mean activating them, so things like Grasping Tide and Fire Hawk's OAs work as well. (As extra proof, check out the Commanding Form feat--hard to use otherwise!)

With that out of the way, I'd recommend grabbing some Claw Gloves, since sometimes you'll just want to flank and beat down. Fire Hawk is also an absolutely amazing power. And Grasping Tide is difficult to work, but when things go right it's one of the most powerful at-wills in the game (one of my DMs thought it was an encounter power!).

@yesnomu


Could you give me a link or tell me where I can find the rule that says you can command while summon. I know that some powers got pushed through as able to be used with wild shape, but from my understanding Summons actually require you to activate the power with each use. I know that commanding form is a feat that allows you to do some control but it could just as easily be a feat that provides an exception to the normal rule and so doesn't prove that you can comand in wild shape.

I am not saying you are wrong just asking if you can direct me to the relevent rules.

I have a Guardian Summoner build that does Polearm Momentum tricks - you can check it out under the build section of alien270's Druid Handbook (it's listed as "Guardian Polearm Build with Summoning Focus"):
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
That said, I'm not overall a fan of druidic summons. Their distinctive action usually is  to soft control only one target, which is really not the main job for a controller, who would always aim to hard control multiple targets, especially with their precious daily.


Even though I was happy with the build above, I share some hesitation about druidic summons - at least from the controller angle.  For the most part, the instinctive actions of the best summons only do damage, and so exert little control.  It seems like the summons are better for just increasing DPR, since they can attack without you spending an action.

Second, the best powers for Guardians are almost always forced movement, but that has little synergy with the summons as your dailies.  I think the best Druid dailies are often zones which do offer some great control, and combo very well with all the forced movement powers that Guardians have.

One way to go with Druid summons is to focus more on the sizeable increase in damage you get from instinctive actions, and focus more on a striker than controller angle (not that you won't have a little control from at-wills and encounter powers).  A very niche build for doing so would be going Predator, but Githzerai and MC Monk so that you get to use Wisdom instead of Constitution for HP/HS.  Predators have some great riders on their powers, and tend towards more damage and daze effects than forced movement, so the powers can better complement the dailies than the forced movement riders of Guardians.
I have to disagree that the druid summons are weak on control, the Elder Pack Wolf and Crocodile are some of the best controller summons in the game. They can single handedly take an enemy out of the fight for an extended period of time by locking them down each round. As for the other summons the Giant Toad, Guard Drake, Shadow Ape, and Guardian Briar all provide strong soft control effects and have nice supporting instinctive effects that allow them to exert this control with out you taking a single action.

This frees you up to use your action for your other control effects meaning that if you focus fire you can stack on few soft control effects that add up for some serious control.

Finally the Guardian Druids riders are general not the improtant part it is the fact that the guardian druid is tough which is the draw. Unlike several other controllers the guardian druid does not need to be protected as he is perfectly capable of protecting himself. This frees up party reasource normal spent helping to protect the controller for other things, and also provides you with another form of control in the ability to engage targets in melee there by helping to protect your weaker allies from harm.

The build above has two major tactics.

1) Focus fire on a single group or single enemy stacking on multiple soft control effects to hinder the enemies plans while engaging them in melee at the same time to further hinder them.

2) Engage multiple targets at various ranges by having you summon engage and hinder one, throw your ranged attack at another, and then move into melee range and become a human wall to a third. You can potential engage many target with this tactic which can do a lot to hinder the enemies plans.

To me controller are about hindering enemies plans and disrupting their tactics to help your party win the fight. I think that the druid summons are actually really good at that thing, but not in a traditional way.
 
Loved it from start to finish great job.
I have to disagree that the druid summons are weak on control, the Elder Pack Wolf and Crocodile are some of the best controller summons in the game. They can single handedly take an enemy out of the fight for an extended period of time by locking them down each round. As for the other summons the Giant Toad, Guard Drake, Shadow Ape, and Guardian Briar all provide strong soft control effects and have nice supporting instinctive effects that allow them to exert this control with out you taking a single action.


You misunderstand my point to some extent - I didn't argue that druid summons, relative to other summons, are weak on control.  I was arguing that druid summons relative to other druid daily powers are weak on control.  I know the draw of the Guardian build is its toughness - that's why I built Guardian alternatives to previously Predator only builds.  But if you're optimizing for control you still have to take into account what the better power choices for Guardians offer - and that's forced movement.

Note that only 2 out of your 4 summons at 30th exert much control - and that's at the cost of not choosing Writhing Henge as a 25th level summon (which may exert little control but the damage potential is phenomenal).  Primal Lion at 19th and Primal Storm at 25th offer much better control than the summons you selected.  Guard Drake and Shadow Ape really aren't all that impressive compared to 5th level daily options.

My perspective is just that if you're going to build a Guardian Druid and you want to emphasize control, that Summoning isn't the best route.  If you just want to build a summoner for the sake of summoning, then that's fine, but I think you're trading control for damage.
No matter how strong a soft controlish power is, especially for a daily, it could never compete with that of strong control. A stun or dominate is ALWAYS better than a plain grab or -2 ab or, well, pull 2( for a daily?), unless there is something else spectacular with that grab or -2 ab or pull two.

And seriously, Guardian Drake is really, really, really hard to use, it's not even competitive with Wall of Thorns.

As for the engaging with multiple opponent part, I find it unconvincing because druid technically does not have any at will beastform mark/difficult terrian and you going near the enemy generally do not have anything to do with hindering the enemies. YOU will easily be the target due your wildshape debuffed defense, or, if the opponent is intelligent enough, it could just shift and do whatever it would like to do.

In conclusion, strong control generally hinders and disrupting opponent tactics more effectively than soft control. Druidic summons might have some good time at epic with DRP in some "not so optimized" or "easy" game, but I don't even think they can be compared with that of a wizard that DOMINATE, despite that power's limit. Or a wall of thorn, or a nicely placed Serpents. Furhter comparing the dailies with other controller (or, well, some classes whose main role is not even controler) dailies would only make Druids cry for mercy.

@yesnomu


Could you give me a link or tell me where I can find the rule that says you can command while summon. I know that some powers got pushed through as able to be used with wild shape, but from my understanding Summons actually require you to activate the power with each use. I know that commanding form is a feat that allows you to do some control but it could just as easily be a feat that provides an exception to the normal rule and so doesn't prove that you can comand in wild shape.

I am not saying you are wrong just asking if you can direct me to the relevent rules.



There's no explicit ruling anywhere, just a lot of things break if they can't. If commanding a summon is "using" the summon power, invokers are using a daily power every time they command their summons. This triggers their covenant every round, or multiple times per round when you get summons with minor action abilities--in particular, this can work with Avandra's Covenant to give out three saves a turn, every turn.

Likewise, the PHB says right there, "you can use daily powers once per day". Even then there were powers with activated abilities, like Flaming Sphere.

This thread has two CS responses to the question--as you would expect, they exactly negate each other. But the rules work better (and make more sense, like having vortexes not stop pulling) when you define "use" as the first activation of a power.
The thing about it is that the effects happen each round with out you spending a single action. Which while there effect is not as powerful as the examples you give they last for a longer period of time.

Given the builds defense combined with the grab attacks accuracy the target I sick my crocodile on is pretty much immoblized for the entire encounter until they kill the croc or are killed by the croc. Now the best way to use this is to hit a target that is seperated and basicly keep them isolated from your allies. That is an enemy that is taken out of an entire encounter of combat with a single spell. Elder Pack Wolf does something similar by knocking a target prone and keeping them prone.

As for shifting away your are right they can, but that contoller over them as they have to shift away instead of move this limits the range they can potentially move in a given round. From a tactical perspective you can also be a wall of sorts putting yourself into a position where the enemies have to move around you to get to your allies or engage you either way you have limited their options.

The difference is consistency of control, while your daily can throw down some serious debuff on a save ends bases (Roughly 1-2 rounds) summons throw down minor control (and in some cases major control) for an entire encounter. Also each time an enemy attacks a summon you have done more control as you are having the enemy waste resources by attacking your summon.

Either way you are exerting control over the enemy. Now admittedly it is not hard control but then it is something you can potentially do each round. That is where the builds tactics shine not in their shear power but their consitency and the multiple ways it has to control, and its ability to easily adapt to a situation.

As for Wildshaping this build doesn't use it, and if I find out that I can use wild shape and command I can reincorprate a constant 11 regen while bloodied which will more then make up for the loss of +1 AC and Reflex.

Overall in actually play I think this build can definatly hold its own and is a great addition to any party being able to mix things up and hinder the enemies tactics in a variaty of ways each and every round. It takes a bit more skill and tactical know how to work, but the abilities add up to a combination of things then when used correctly create a powerful controller.
Enemies don't even need to spontaneously attack your summons. Due to its low defense and HP issue, a few AOE/multiattacks with some aura could easily make it disappear.

And yes, 1 or 2 turns stun is soooo better in a party where the striker and leader could finish things off fast and clean. If there is only 1 or 2 opponent in the group have the ability to inflict massive damage or notorious effects, then one summon might be enough. But once that number rises to 3 or more, which happens so often after paragon, it would not be suffice at all to have 1 merely grabbed or prone, because they could still do what they are intended to do: handing out horrifying conditions that paralyse your whole party.

As I said, if you go front line, you would be an easy target for the enemies if their initial intention is you (which does not make a difference anyway) due to your low defense or someone else in the front line, around whom they would have already clustered (which again would not make any difference).
What do you mean low defense? The builds level 30 defense are

AC 48 Fort 50 Ref 45 Will 51
HP 220 Surges 18, and Surge Value 64

These are better defense then some defenders and thanks to staff expertise I don't provoke OA for using my implement powers in melee. The high defense and HP are a theme with in the build and by mid heroic you are sporting defender level defenses.

Meaning its summons defense are the same and they have 110 HP and due to my class features and my summoners staff they are regaining 9 HP each round and 11 temp HP each time they are missed. So unlike other summoners these are no push overs, and I am no push over.

I will say in some situation that stun and dominate are better as strong and temporary control but at the same time in other situation with longer more drawn out combats this build will shine. I have played under DMs who do both on a consistent bases. Now while the build is not as effective in short combat he still holds his wieght and doesn't expend party resources to be effective while filling any minion killing and generating some nice focus fire damage with the summons.

It is different styles overall I don't think any one of them is more powerful in actually play then a wizard they are just different. This build gives up some hard control power for a some consistent soft controller and some very nice durability.

The thing about it is that the effects happen each round with out you spending a single action. Which while there effect is not as powerful as the examples you give they last for a longer period of time.


This is where the comparison of summons to zones becomes relevant, since zones can also remain for an entire encounter.

Your defense of druid summons still hasn't addressed why a guardian druid trying to maximize control should go the summoning route for all the dailies.

You keep Summon Crocodile merely for the grab attack, when at 25th level you could have replaced it with Primal Storm - which is a Burst 4 AOE with a Range of 20 squares, that only targets enemies, does damage and knocks prone, and gives you a zone that can allow you to keep a prone enemy from standing up.  Even if the initial attack fails to knock an enemy prone, do you know how many ways as a guardian druid you can pull off forced movement + prone attacks (especially if you're using polearm momentum)?  Are you seriously suggesting that this build is better off keeping Summon Crocodile?

I understand if you want to build a summon only theme, but as I said before that's lessening your control rather than increasing it. 
Did you see the Heir of Siberys Epic destiny? With Mark of Handling you get a daily encounter-long utility that gives you an extra standard action each round that you can use to command a summoned creature. That might be useful.
I have said that my hard control is not as solid as other controllers, my point is that their are other ways to control just putting an extra body out on the field can help with control. I am defending the fact that summons can be a powerful tool for controler, not only via their effects but by putting another body on the field and giving you an action advantage over you enemies by effectively giving you more action a turn.

As for their possibly being better options there may be but this is a summoner build and has focused on that aspect. The other aspect is that my summons attacks are more accurate so their effects are more likely to take effect (+3/+5 to hit over other powers).  

As for the polearm momentum build I do have a build that uses that option, but generally I find it bad in the current enviroment with all the item rules changing going on as it is highly item dependent build. Though I am working on a none item dependent version, but it currently has some MAD issues I am trying to iron out.

I do understand their are some other option out there that can be really powerful but that is not the point of this build, and I think that the summons in a real game can be really powerful tools for a variaty of reasons. I believe this build is an excellent addition to any party and can really help out as a controller in a variaty of ways. It is a bit harder to measure then some other builds that is true but having played summoners in pretty much every edition including 4e I have found them to be highly verstile tools in any spell casters bag of tricks.

On another note: I am in the process of updating the build utilizing some wild shape powers which provide better control effects. This will reduce the builds Ranged capabilities but enhance its overall control aspects.

Edit: As to primal storm it is not action free, while yes it can be sustained (minor action), and has an effect that is useable each round (OA action). Meanwhile summons are action free when using instinctive actions. So while similar the Summons come out on top as far as action advantage go.

@ppaladin123

The build actually doesn't direct its summons that often the idea is to get an action advantage by using the instinctive action of you summons to have them do their own thing while you do yours. This is effectively giving you an extra standard action each round with some soft to hard control attached as using your abilities you are able to easily position the summons where they can do the most damage.

You did answer a lot of my questions/concerns - including just the fact that you want this to be a pure summoner build.  I still don't understand this line of reasoning though:
Edit: As to primal storm it is not action free, while yes it can be sustained (minor action), and has an effect that is useable each round (OA action). Meanwhile summons are action free when using instinctive actions. So while similar the Summons come out on top as far as action advantage go.


Of course I will grant that Summon Crocodile is action free when using instinctive actions relative to the minor action required to sustain Primal Storm.  That's one rather minor point in favor of the Summon - it's minor because with Quick Wild Shape the Druid isn't really using minor actions for anything else (though you do have to worry about getting dazed/stunned).  Other than that, Primal Storm is way better on a number of fronts that I already mentioned, which is why the reference to a trivial amount of action advantage doesn't really provide a good explanation for the choice of Summon Crocodile over Primal Storm.

The only case I can see for a Summon over Primal Storm is for DPR, since the Crocodile can attack multiple times, where the zone attack for Primal Storm deals no additional damage.  But what I keep finding baffling is that you don't defend the summon choice from this angle.  Furthermore, if you really want a Summon for this slot - go Writhing Henge!  It's brutal!
I have actually talked about the summons as a DPR tool with the concept of focus fire (aka multiple attacks against a single target or multiple targets). As for what I can do with my minor action that is actually quite a bit, by level 30 I can use it to shift, or power many of my utilities. second wind to heal, if need be command my summons, etc. There is alot you can do with minors besides wild shaping and so long as primal storm is active it is harder to do those things.

As for Writhing Henge I actually missed that summon power and will be adding it to the build as another summon with a control option though I think that I will drop the guardian briar for it as the crocodile is still a powerful control tool in all tiers of play, via the combo of oak skewer/windstorm, and then isolated grab to keep the target out of combat range for multiple turns.

I am not trying to be a pain or sound stuborn, I am just trying to explain that I believe summons can be a nice control tool, and can bring alot to the table as the issue of their effectiveness was raised. I have said that by the numbers their hard control is less, but they have other things going for them, and the point of this build is to capatilize on those things along with what control they bring.

To summarize the things that make the summons a nice tool, are action advantage, consistent encounter long ability, high accuracy, putting an extra body on the field (aka numbers advantage), ability to focus fire for strong DPR and stacking soft control, abilty if need be spread fire for multi target hinderance, and a few other things that are hard to quantify in a non play enviroment.

Anyways thanks for the find of Writhing Hedge it is a really nice tool in this builds bag of tricks.

On another note after playing around with it I actually don't think I will be using the wild shape stuff for this build. I find that that ability to mix things up at range and in melee that the current version has is an invaluable tool in actual play.



Writhing Henge is a powerful daily but that is like the only one. You keep arguing summons are nice control without even considering how ridiculous hard control would be in Epic (combined with optimized strikers and leaders), not to mention how important  they are in Heroic and Paragon tier. Summons are nice not because they excercise good control among all the controllers. They are nice within certain criteria, as I said, like in a "not so optimized" or "easy" game where there are only 1 or 2 dangerous enemies per encounter, they would function well.  However, the more intelligent the opponent becomes and the more the DM raises the difficult level, soft control would not suffice. It is not reasonable to argue something is "nice" without even taking consideration of what is not "nice" and what is so much"nicer". I can argue that certain druid builds are good, but only to the limit that they are good within the"Druid" category. If you extend the comparison to "all other controllers", it is so often the case that even a good druid build could hardly compare to one of them (at least before lv 16. In fact they have some very powerful hard control powers after that. But before you reach that level, they even cannot exceed clerics), except ordinary seeker builds, maybe. And I don't think there is any point in insisting the build is good for overall purpose unless the DM has specified the controller can only be a Druid.

It is not to say I do not appreciate this build. It is good within a certain criteria, like that of within the category of "Guardian Druid", or "Summoners Overall" (Even then there is radiant Invoker summoner, and their summons could actually flank and make OA at least, or some wizards summons). But beyond that, I still keey my doubt regarding its effectiveness.

I disagree I have stated my point as to what the build does, where its weakness lie (straight hard control), and where its strengths lie (durability, action advantage, numbers advantage, Stacking Soft Control). I will admit that it is different kinda controller and that it is not for everyone but in many situation and in many games this build is an excellent party addition.

For example take a party with mostly ranged combatants, the builds ability to put out a melee summon and go into melee itself can go along way to establishing a front line for the party. Leaving the other party members free to do their thing, and since the build can throw ranged itself while in melee it can actually help with the focus fire of the rest of the party. Meanwhile it is putting down some nice soft control (Possibly multiple forms of soft control) to further enhance the parties tactics and hinder the enemies.

As for not taking other things into consideration I believe I have addressed what other controllers do multiple times. From other druid powers to other controllers abilties and compared where I think the druid come up lacking and where it shines. 

My point is that the builds overall abitlies when combined together, Summons, Encounters, Feats, Defense, etc add up to something that is actually quite effective, and while the individual parts may be weaker then some other things out their total package is quite strong. The idea here is synergy of abilities creatiing a whole that is greater then the individual parts.

At this point there is nothing more I can say on the subject. If you don't like it don't play it but from my testing having played summoners, and having played more traditional controllers I find that they are comparable in an actual game enviroment with optmized party members. They bring different things to the table sure, but then every PC brings something different.



I've played a optimized summoning druid from lv 1 until late late paragon, and I found everytime it is the wizard that rocked the encounter while what the summons could do is to take the leftover. And seriously if it's not because of the wizard the summons would do more worse (die easily, nothing to do against flying targets, etc). I am now playing a pacifist cleric in another game and even that character feels more inclined to controller than a summoning druild. You argue your package is strong, and I said in certain criteria they are indeed. But it does not prove the other controllers (or even guardians themselves) do not have much stronger packages than a summoning druid (which in fact they often do).

Maybe it's because I would like to see what a class could achieve ultimately with every possible way to optimize, but in that sense the druidic summonings (not counting the tentacles...)are rather limited compared to most of the controllers.
Well that may be were are difference are from. I find that summoners are more adaptable to a situation then a wizard. Also unlike a wizard they are less likely to have issue. Often times when playing another controller I will miss with a key spell which can be a big difference in combat, meanwhile with the summons if I miss it is generally not a major issue as I can always try again next round and I still have a creature taking up space.

From a play perspective I also prefer a Summoner as it is a interesting tactical tool that I can use each round to change the course of a combat. Meanwhile the Wizard is boom do x thing and you suck for a bit which is less tactical then the summons abilities.

I will say a summoner is much harder to play effectively then the wizard but then that is part of the draw for me.


@Avavanus

I would love to get your thoughts on powers selection. I tried to stear clear of wildshape powers becuse with the build they actually act as a debuff to your defense since you can't get the hafted defense bonus while in wild shape. You also can't direct your Summons while in wildshape and while generally you will leave them on auto pilot sometimes you may want to take direct control.

Also I tried to pick ranged powers as a means to be able to tie up multiple enemies at once in combination with the builds. I am always looking to improve my builds so if you have any suggestion feel free to post them.



As others have said, Grasping Tide and Fire Hawk are some of the best AWs around, I'd highly suggest considering them. 

As for encounter powers I find: My party always claps everytime I use Call Forth the Spirit Pack which (in addition to being thematically concurrent with a summon heavy build) is an easy set-up from the frontline into a prone for two targets and a fair bit of damage if you wait fro your friendly defender to mark 'em.  Tundra Wind is a must since its a combination "Back in that zone," "Go fall down a cliff," and "Get away from me/my friends."  A push [Con] is just awesome, especially at such a low level.  I personally am a fan of Thorn Castle which I understand many people undervalue.  That said, if I didn't take it I'd probably stick with your choice of Tremor as thats a fairly solid power (as long as you watch that you don't strike your friends).

Additionally, I am going to have to say that I think summons as a general rule (as evidenced by the cross-talk in this thread) get a bad rap as not being as effective as other dailies.  I feel that often times the combination of battlefield control (being in the way [often times as a large creature], flanking, OAs), extra HP sponges, additional DPR (which lets be honest is always a plus as a dead monster is the best control around), and their all-purpose "soft-control" match (and occasionally supercede) the "hard-and-fast" lockdown dailies or debilitating zones that druids (and other controllers) have access to.  Furthermore, I quite like having that minor action available to mean as I often feel as if I'm starved of it.  Maybe that's just my play style; I do shift and make use of my utilities quite a bit. 

That's perfectly fine if you disagree.  I understand that stuns/dominates work wonders but they only last a round or three (in my play experience) and my groups like me to harass/impede the target(s) not currently being focused fired who often already have a number of debuffs as a result of their efforts.  I'll also agree that zones are some of the most deadly thinks around...until they move out of them.  Sure you can try and slide them back in but they can have resistances to such efforts, you can miss on the power that would allow that, or maybe they just moved to far away (my DMs seem to like teleporting/highly-mobile critters).  Meanwhile, that summon will just follow them around and keep chomping away at them.

All that said, obtusehobbit, you should consider including a daily or two that is not a summon.  Some of them (as others have presented) are exceeding powerful and not every encouter will require the versatility of a summon.  Sometimes you can get the BBEG locked down in a hallway, plop a zone on him, and just beat the bejesus out of him.  As an example, a few weeks ago, we were fighting a (six-headed?) pyrohydra: I hit it with Vine Serpents and the party surrounded the beast and ran about it provoking opportunity attacks.  It proceeded to take 11 damage everytime it tried to make an attack.  It quickly added up and the fight was (relatively speaking of course) a cinch.  Just a little food for thought.

P.S. All info is based off the knowledge of a paragon level player who does not have access to essentials products yet.
Well I would say if you want to switch out some of the dailies that that is fine as for myself the build invests heavily in summons with the PP and feats. To that end I think it is important that the build be able to actually use those resources each combat which is why I like having 5 summons a day. In play you may change up some of the summons as you desire and depending on your party.

As for the At Wills, I meant to change chill wind out for for grasping tide and thorn whip for firehawk. They were in the the orginal build which incorprated polearm momentum, but that was dropped due to feat starvation, MAD issues, and the current state of the items rules. 

I think Call forth the spirit pack is very thematic, but I think an immobilize can be a more effective control at that level helping to delay a melee enemy for a round. Though it is a close call as call forth the spirit pack targets two creatures.

As for Tundra Wind I don't like it because of the issue of friendly fire. Since the build does stay in melee often he will likely be flanking or doing something else close to this allies. With a close blast 3 and the hit effect you could easily hurt your teams plans as much as the enemies.
Often times when playing another controller I will miss with a key spell which can be a big difference in combat



Controllers like wizard with certain PP and item (like the two orbs) have an easy time hitting things, so it generally is not an issue at all.
Yes you can get some nice accuracy with a wizard, but generally I have found they cap out at roughly 34-36 to hit verse Reflex/Will. A summoning build can get 36-39 to hit verse Reflex/Will. So there is a noticeable difference in accuracy. I am not saying that wizards can't be accurate just that due to the options out there for a summoning builds they can get a higher accuracy which is a useful and noticeable plus for summoning builds.

The other side is that even if you do use your daily you have a chance of missing and on some spells that makes a big difference. Where if I miss with a summons attack I can just keep trying and I still have the body on the field to position to hinder the enemies.
Added in the tactics section talking about some of the tactical application of this build.
Okay the Invoker|Druid Hybrid varaint is up. For those looking for a more traditional take on a summoner and controller it is the build for you. It still has high defense, but loses some HP and surges. Meanwhile it is able to pick up some of the strong powers from the invoker to help with the more traditional means of control. It also switches up the game from letting your summons run wild to a more active hand in the control of your summons.
To-the-point build value critique (as opposed to power/feat selection critique-- Druids are out of my wheelhouse).

1. I love the At-Wills. The value there is very evident, and having value in your At-Wills means fewer issues with losing momentum as encounters extend.

2. The Enc powers are pretty soft. This is mitigated a bit by the fact that the At-Wills are so strong, but it is a key point to me that there aren't any real strong Encs through L11 (frankly, they're really weak all the way through-- the 13E only has single target control value in specific situations/set ups, and the 17E is way behind for the level).

3. The summons are solid. While the direct control value is very soft, they do help somewhat with grid/space control, they provide a decent amount of extra damage, etc.

4. I LOVE the durability. It absolutely should not be overlooked that part of the reason for control, action denial, etc is to conserve party resources. At the end of the day, the 'resources' we're talking about are hit points and healing surges. The more of both you bring, and the more stingy you are about hanging onto them, the more 'give' you have in other areas. The question, of course, is how to determine the breakpoint in the balance, or for that matter, determining the relative value of hp/surges vs ability to impact conservation, in the first place.


In general, it is clearly lighter on hard control than a Wizard or Psion-- or even an Invoker (despite Invokers not getting much control out of many of their popular Enc powers, either). Having said that, the At-Wills actually provide decent at-will control, the damage should be solid, etc.


When all is said and done, though, the efficacy of a build is really determined by the answer to one very simple question:

"Does this build make the game easier for the rest of the party than a generic build would?"

Based on the strength of the at-wills, the positive action economy from the summons, and the durability, and assuming an LFR standard, 3 encounter workday, I would say it does so by L11. Prior to Paragon, it's still solid, and that's all you can really expect for the VAST majority of builds out there. You're not going to run a L4 delve and realize that the guy next to you is running a Stormwarden, for example.

Good example of practical Op, which is what I love to see.
Lv 13, deadly doubt is absolutely better than oak.
And I would not trade Rain of Blood, and possibly Deadly Doubt, even at Lv 30.
A +9 AB, regardless hit or miss (rain of blood), EVERY ENCOUNTER to your allies (and your summons included) is like Taclord Mini.

On the other hand, Divine bolt might be better than hand of radiance with Skill domain to turn it into an RBA, though with domain Hand of Radiance could actually be used to Lasting Frost cheese together with your summons with a frost quarterstaff and glove of ice.

L18 - Uncanny Dodge (PHB)
L20 - Melee Training: Wisdom (PE: HoFL)

Or two MC shaman feats, which give you another spirit to occupy one square and an encounter healing power. It' s not like you are going melee most of the time.
@ Auspex7 - I am glad you like it.

@AlanLichen - I will look that over. I debated heavily on Rain of Blood, but in the end I felt that it was more of leader power, and that the powers I picked up helped me more as a controller. Though Admittedly it is a tough call and you could easily not switch it out.
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