Dwarf Pitfighter, Or How to Chop Down a Forest

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Dwarves are pissed.

And yes, by pissed I mean drunk.  But I also mean ticked off.  Like so furious that their beards are attacking everyone around them (I think that's a minor action racial attack. Read the fine print.) What are they so enraged about?  Besides running out of beer?  I'll tell you why:

One quick look at the best defenders ever, and not one freaking dwarf.  Not one.  (There are multiple half-elves.  There is a tiefling on the list.  Seriously, a TIEFLING.)

Dwarves have been defending everyone for four editions (sometimes from themselves, but mostly from the bad guys. Mostly.)  And in this wamby-pamby edition, they get stuck with the short end of the optimization stick.  Battleragers.  Whoopdy-doo.  They charge in with their mordenkrad, they get some THP, and like to pretend they are defending something while they run back out and let the BBEG eat the wizard.  (Which isn't a huge loss, I agree.)

But there is one dwarf that even battleragers fear.  One dwarf whose very name calms even the most impassioned berserker.  Where he walks, other dwarves step aside. (Mostly because he never sheathes his weapon.)  He has so many elf and eladrin ears on his belt that he has to keep his cell phone in his helmet.  He is the only dwarf that writes a list of the best defenders ever and starts with "#1--Me. #2--Everyone Else." And that dwarf's name is:

Stephen Colbert.

Yes, that Stephen Colbert.  It is a little known fact in the Oral History of K'haz-Mandun that the Comedy Central host is also a dwarven pitfighter, ready to think with his gut, and cleave his foes into choppy-chopped little bits.  It is rumored that if you cut his head off, he'll keep fighting with his gut and grow a new head. (I think that's his L24 ED ability.)

So without further ado, here is the arrogant SOB:

Show

Stephen Colbert, level 30
Dwarf, Fighter, Pit Fighter, Demigod
Fighter: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents: One-handed Weapon Talent
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Strength
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Wisdom

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 30, Con 18, Dex 12, Int 10, Wis 22, Cha 12.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 18, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 10.

AC: 49 Fort: 49 Reflex: 39 Will: 42
HP: 207 Surges: 15 Surge Value: 55

FEATS
Level 1: Dwarven Weapon Training
Level 2: Devoted Challenge
Level 4: Axe Expertise
Level 6: Improved Defenses
Level 8: Cruel Cut Style
Level 10: Distracting Shield
Level 11: Armor Proficiency (Plate)
Level 12: Armor Specialization (Plate)
Level 14: Marked Scourge
Level 16: Dwarven Durability
Level 18: Daunting Challenge
Level 20: Focused Superiority
Level 21: Slashing Storm
Level 22: Martial Mastery
Level 24: Rapid Combat Challenge
Level 26: Epic Fortitude
Level 28: Epic Will
Level 30: Epic Reflexes

POWERS
Fighter at-will 1: Cleave
Fighter at-will 1: Threatening Rush
Fighter encounter 1: Hack and Hew
Fighter daily 1: Villain's Menace
Fighter utility 2: Shielded Sides
Fighter encounter 3: Sweeping Blow
Fighter daily 5: Rain of Steel
Fighter utility 6: Daring Shot
Fighter encounter 7: Come and Get It
Fighter daily 9: Thicket of Blades
Fighter utility 10: Reactive Surge
Fighter encounter 13: Storm of Blows (replaces Hack and Hew)
Fighter daily 15: Unyielding Avalanche (replaces Villain's Menace)
Fighter utility 16: Fighter's Grit
Fighter encounter 17: Vorpal Tornado (replaces Sweeping Blow)
Fighter daily 19: Devastation's Wake (replaces Thicket of Blades)
Fighter utility 22: Instant Getaway
Fighter encounter 23: Warrior's Urging (replaces Storm of Blows)
Fighter daily 25: Reaper's Stance (replaces Devastation's Wake)
Fighter encounter 27: Cruel Reaper (replaces Vorpal Tornado)
Fighter daily 29: Force the Battle (replaces Rain of Steel)

ITEMS
Radiant Waraxe +6, Heavy Shield, Agile Godplate Armor +6, Bracers of Iron Arcana (paragon tier), Helm of Able Defense (paragon tier), Diamond Cincture (paragon tier), Siberys Shard of Radiance (epic tier), Feystep Lacings (paragon tier), Eladrin Ring of Passage (paragon tier) (3), Many-Fingered Gloves (paragon tier), Cloak of Translocation +6
Now you might be saying, "Waraxe? Pit Fighter? Wouldn't a bastard sword and kensai be better?"  Well, I'm glad you asked that to me and not Mr. Colbert, because he'd probably say something like "There is no truthiness in numbers!," take a bow, and then chop your feet off at your ankles.

The whole point of Stephen Colbert is that he is the best aoe fighter around.  He has the balls to have Warrior's Urging AND Come and Get It.  At L16 he might AP, minor action unyielding avalanche, come and get it, and sweeping blow, for a combination of (1W + mods) + (1W + mods) + (1W + mods) to everything in a 7v7 square area, and each one of those attacks gets half his level in damage.  Eat that Kensai reroll.

He doesn't care if he misses.  Period.  A giant d12 is the best thing to keep a DM hitting you, and if that sneaky politician tries to run away (He hides behind a DM screen, that's fishy), you have +wis mod to attacks and damage on both your CC and opp attacks.

Yes.  He has THREE eladrin rings of passage.  All taken from dead fae type creatures.  He teleports in with feystep lacings, or some other blinky elf magic item, positions himself smack dab in the middle of everything, and BLAMO, draws everything to him.  He'll even use Come and Get It on trees.  He's that badass.

If you need single target damage for the occasional solo, you've got it.  Marked Scourge + Cruel Cut Style + Slashing Storm.

Yes, he could be a ceaseless guardian.  But he's Stephen freaking Colbert. He was a demigod at L1, so he better be a stinking god by the time he hits L30.

Lastly, he is relatively item independent.  He fights tooth and nail for a radiant waraxe, but beyond that, he just wants some plate armor, and some teleporty thing to get him in the middle of the action faster.  If he can't pick up a radiant waraxe, then he can always make do with a ring of the dragonborn emperor and iron armbands.  He doesn't care.  He'll hack dudes to death regardless of his personal wealth.  

All communist elves will bite the dust, and guts will prevail, because damn it, this is America.  Stephen Colbert is the ideal dwarf with an oversized-axe, thinking with his gut, and pwning anybody that has treasure and is worth XP.  All while being pissed.
A fun read!  Although I have little place to criticize such a great dwarf such as Mr. Colbert, has concretebuddha considered changing the Starting Array to 18 12 11 8 13 10 and placing your last stat adjustment into Dex instead of Con?

The downsides would be -2 HP, -1 Surge, -1 Surge Value and -1 Endurance BUT the gain would be +1 Reflex, +1 Initiative (or did I miss the feat of +Wisdom to Initiative?) and a +1 to some skills that even though it is Colbert, he doesn't need to bother being good at anyways.

It seems like a defensive boost, and I like the concept of all defenses 40+  =)  (to be fair, I have yet to play at such prestigious levels, so all I know is what little I dream up)

EDIT - I just noticed you have Agile Godplate, so going a little more Dex would net you a little more AC as well.
Bah! Colbert kicks you for your impudence, then congratulates you on being good with numbers.  You will make a fine Nerd With Glasses, and you will have lots of money, until Colbert kicks in your door and steals it from you.

There are other options too!  Stephen Colbert could also go 18str/14wis/11con, with a +2str/con racial spread, then wait to retrain to plate at epic.  He would lose two healing surges, but he'd gain +1 damage from Wisdom.  With the stat spread I originally listed, he could also switch around the feat order and pick up plate early, especially if he's the only one in the party taking heat.

Pretty much do whatever your gut tells you, and as long as you wield a big axe and choppy chop everyone in the room, you'd focus the DM's threat on you, which is the point of this build.

*Stephen Colbert kicks concretebuddha in the kneecap*  "EXPLAIN THREAT, YOU DOLT!"

OW.  Er...yes, Mr Colbert would like me to explain threat, as quickly and painlessly as I can:

Let's look at dice, shall we? 

  • Let's start with a d4.  Just stare at it.  Seriously.  Get out your dice bag, pick up a d4, and "roll" it.  What's that? You can't really roll a d4?  It just kinda flops in place doesn't it?  There is no suspense in a d4, you are never on the edge of your seat waiting to see what number comes up.  "Ho hum, I rolled another 3."  Not exactly intimidating.  You can't be a real dwarf and use d4s, ever.  Those are for rogues and floppy dudes with polearms.

  • D6's are fine as long as you have at least two.  But you can't use a shield and get a 2d6 weapon. So pass.

  • D8s and d10s, while decent, still don't have an alarming weight to them.  You have to work to keep threat with one of those, and the DM probably thinks you're a pansy that he can run away from whenever, or he can just run around you, because you aren't a real threat.

  • But what is this?  A d12?  Holy Monkeys of St. Roland!  You pick one of those up, and it rolls forever, and the DM's thinking, "Oh man, this is going to hurt, please don't hit my goblins with a 12."  And it gets worse, because you get to pull 5 of them, and WTF PWN them with your GIANT DIE.


So threat is easy.  It's how much of a threat you pose to the DM.  The bigger the die, and the more dice you roll, the bigger the threat, the easier your job is keeping the smarmy little halfing with a d4 and a bunch of d6s alive.

Long story short: the only number we need to remember is d12.  It's sighkhologee, see?
So, uh, have you submitted this to the Ultimate Defenders thread yet? Be sure and tell them about your d12s.
Stephen Colbert does not submit anything for approval.  They may submit their thread for approval here if they wish. Wink


(And Colbert might be arrogant enough to think his build is the best ever, but I'm not.  If someone comes along and drops a pie chart in my lap about how horrible Stephen Colbert is, I would pay attention.  At least until some dwarf gets bored and starts hacking at stuff.)
+1 Reflex, +1 Initiative

EDIT - I just noticed you have Agile Godplate, so going a little more Dex would net you a little more AC as well.



Now that Colbert is unconscious from drink, let me take a moment to discuss this without the constant fear of swirling axe death--

One of the fine balancing acts with any defender is the interplay between "too much AC" and "not enough AC".  The same goes with the other three defenses as well.  There is one phrase you never, ever, ever want your DM to be thinking, or god forbid, say out loud, and that is:

"It is a waste to attack the fighter."

If you pump up your defenses to unhittable, then he is going to ignore your mark.  If he starts thinking this, then every combat you will pull 5 guys, one of them will eat the CC attack, and the rest will shift charge away from you.

So what you want is to train your DM to see your giant d12, notice the fact that he has a decent chance at hitting your AC, and then attack you with all five guys.  Yes, you will get hit.  Good.  You took dwarven durability.  You have a decent amount of healing surges.  Hopefully you have a squirrely little pocket healer hiding behind you that can lay some holy healing on your boo-boos.  (If not, then pick one up, in the mean time, use your overpowered dwarven second wind, and when you get bloodied, use reactive surge.)

This is why when you play a build like this, you need to watch your DM to see how they react to everything you do.  If they are always taking swings at you, and never shift charge away, then pick up plate mail, plate spec, and whatever you can to up your AC.

OTOH, if your DM is constantly ignoring your mark, then sit in scale mail, drop your shield, and pick up a giant Executioner's Axe (another d12!), and make him pay attention.  Your DM is probably within those two extremes, so choose accordingly.   It's why I list Agile Warplate, but I'm not married to it.  If you need it, use it, if not, don't. 

(Think for a second why most people consider swordmages bottom barrel defenders.  I have two reasons why that is: Sky high AC. Sword burst is a d6.  I rest my case.)

As for reflex and initiative, reflex is the build's least important defense, and you aren't getting a stat bonus to it.  Most reflex abilities are aoes or ranged, so if you are sitting in a pack of their dudes, you are less likely to be targetted in the first place.  You can also teleport away from the slowed and immobilized conditions.  So the only one that really hurts you is dazed, and if you have a huge amount of threat from the monsters, then that one doesnt matter either, because they will stay swarmed on you regardless.  (It can even help you if the DM thinks, "Great! I have combat advantage! I'll kill that dwarf now!")

As for initiative, you aren't exactly fast in the speed department, and you actually want to go last.  You want your spindly little wizard/rogue/ranger to zip forward, get in trouble as they draw a pack of melee monsters (who all move + charge because of the DM's bloodlust), and then scream for help as your DM cackles.

Then you zip in, draw all of them off your bait...er, party member, because they were nice enough to clump a whole stack of dudes for you to pull.

So going last isn't bad in this case, because the alternative is for you to have a really high initiative, only pull one or two, and then die because you lack any escape mechanisms against ranged attacks.  Let the wizard blow his shield, then you save his bacon.
Slashing Storm is probably a waste here, seeing as you have no  melee encounter powers - it'll take a while before it starts counting for anything! D:
Your NADs seem a bit low:

Fort:
10 (base) + 15 (level) + 6 (enh) + 10 (str) + 2 (class) + 3 (imp.def) + 4 (epic fort) = 50

Ref:
10 (base) + 15 (level) + 6 (enh) + 1 (dex) + 2 (shield) + 3 (imp.def) + 4 (epic ref) = 41

Will:
10 (base) + 15 (level) + 6 (enh) + 6 (wis) + 3 (imp.def) + 4 (epic will) = 44
(Think for a second why most people consider swordmages bottom barrel defenders.  I have two reasons why that is: Sky high AC. Sword burst is a d6.  I rest my case.)

LOLWUT. I agreed with just about all of that post except for this bit. Swordmages are fantastic defenders. It's more like this: Sky high AC, crippling damage prevention. Of course, it just occurred to me that you might have been talking about the two bad swordmage builds.

Slashing Storm is probably a waste here, seeing as you have no  melee encounter powers - it'll take a while before it starts counting for anything! D:



You are right, let me look at it.


Your NADs seem a bit low:



Thank you, they are.  CB not updating to essentials screwed me up.

LOLWUT. I agreed with just about all of that post except for this bit. Swordmages are fantastic defenders. It's more like this: Sky high AC, crippling damage prevention. Of course, it just occurred to me that you might have been talking about the two bad swordmage builds.



So 2/3 swordmages suck.  (If implement powers did W damage it would be a different story.)  The other 1/3 of swordmages are decent if they load up every encounter power they have with threat abilities (dimensional vortex, transposing lunge, swordmage shielding fire), and then spam sword burst all day.  However, you are fighting an uphill battle, trying to overcome the natural drawback of a d6.  I have never thought as a DM, "Man, I need to kill that swordmage with the unhittable AC, he's just doing too much damage."

OTOH, a fighter with a d12+mods aoe attack, plus a d12+mods auto damage attack is really tempting to focus fire on, especially if they don't have sky high defenses.

Don't get me wrong, I think shielding swordmages can be effective in the right party composition, especially if you are light on heals and heavy on DPR, or if you are playing as a secondary defender with a hybrid swordmage/wizard or warlock.  I just have a hard time seeing the threat of "Oh no, my orc will do less damage if I attack someone else." *DM shift-charges 5 dudes*

IMO, it is harder for a swordmage to control a pack of enemies, which is where this character shines.




Okay, so about slashing storm:

In a perfect world, you can always pull 5+ monsters and just use aoes.

The problem is that smart DMs start putting monsters in groups of 2.  Or just stick a solo on you.  In these instances, it's a waste to use aoes when you can just cleave, and save your encounter powers for when you need them.  (Like the second wave.)  Slashing Storm is also for those times at the end of the battle, when your resources are thin, and you have maybe 3-4 monsters left, and you are trying to keep threat even at that late stage in the game.

Versus a solo, it is also functionally equivalent to marked scourge, so if you ever find yourself tanking a dragon, you at least get to do (+wis mod x3) damage.  (slashing storm, marked scourge, cruel cut style.)

You can also use it when you are out of range of a pack of monsters, and the only thing you can do is move + charge with threatening rush.

Yes, it's not perfect.  But there are a large number of generally useless Epic Tier feats for this character.  Axe Mastery has the same problem, as do many other "melee attack" feats.

If there is a better feat that can go in that slot, please let me know.
More than 33% of swordmages are Shielding Swordmages. I don't know where in the world you're getting this whole Swordmage = 1d6 thing. Swordmages don't just spam Swordburst. Mr. No is a Swordmage/Sigil Carver with some Artificer icing, and he's one of the builds that defined Ultimate Defenders.

But, the efficacy of Swordmages is off topic. On topic: The build itself is pretty good; but it's good because it has a lot of ways to pull things close, potent mark punishment, high defenses, and a lot of durability. Unfortunately, that's not what you're saying about it. What you're saying is that it will protect your allies by dealing so much damage that the DM will consider you a higher-priority target than your allies, which will only happen if your allies are pathetic.

Also, while there's no rule saying you can't write a funny post about a build, catchy titles and over-the-top presentations are best reserved for builds that represent an innovative and streamlined application of Practical and Theoretical Optimization. This build is good, streamlined practical Op, but it is definitely not innovative.
Ignoring swordmages for a moment, because it is off-topic.

I am so glad that you rewrote that last post, not because I was offended, but because I appreciate that you had the civility to back up your ideas with some sort of reasoning.  If you had just left the post as it was, I would have just tuned you out and moved on, but because you decided to elaborate, I feel that you are worth having a dialogue with.

What you're saying is that it will protect your allies by dealing so much damage that the DM will consider you a higher-priority target than your allies, which will only happen if your allies are pathetic.

Also, while there's no rule saying you can't write a funny post about a build, catchy titles and over-the-top presentations are best reserved for builds that represent an innovative and streamlined application of Practical and Theoretical Optimization.



I can understand this line of thought.  If a DM is a truly rational being, then yes, they will always calculate the exact risk/reward equation, and generally attack the squishies in the back row. (Just like how a computer handles threat in a video game.)  However, from my experience, that is not the case.  (Which I understand is anecdotal, but bear with me).

In essence, DMs are people too.  They get flushed, nervous, overzealous, annoyed, incensed, and greedy.  They are rational creatures on the surface, but underneath they are just as irrational as the rest of us.

The way I wrote the post is 100% tied into how to play this build at the table--like a loud mouthed braggart.  This is a mind game character, like in poker, when there's some obnoxious schmuck at the table with an awful laugh, who is larger than life, who slams the table, who smokes giant cigars, but who keeps taking everyone's money.  You just want to sock that guy in the face.

That is exactly the type of response you are trying to foster in your DM with this build.  Big dice, big aoes, lots of pulling all of his monsters, lots of attack rolls heading his way.  All on a drunken loudmouth dwarf.

And the DM starts to think, "Man, I should attack the wizard," but his emotional response is to stick it to the dwarf.  "How dare he not use a shield in my game?!? I'm killing him this time for sure!"  So his subconscious overrides his consciousness, and next thing you know, all 5 goblins are swarming your character.

This build is good, streamlined practical Op, but it is definitely not innovative.



I agree.  It is as vanilla as they come.  PHB dwarf + PHB pit fighter + PHB abilities (for the most part) + whatever items you can find.

That is actually a selling point for the build, and why it works so well.  The DM knows exactly what you can do, and why you can do it.  He can't really nerf it, and he can't really withhold some super power combo of items.  If he gives you a viscious greataxe, use that.  If he only drops hammers, use those.  It doesn't matter.  The idea is to take whatever he gives you, and smack his monsters anyway.

You are in control, since it's not a hybrid, or a dragon magazine PP, or some whacked out item from Dungeon, or a dragonmark, or whatever.  If you are in control, then it means your DM is out of control, which is often the best trait of a mark.  Whether we like it or not, for all intents and purposes, DnD is a dice game at its core.  This character is written using the oldest trick in the book, so yes, it is not innovative, but I'd like to think that it is definitely effective.


...


I'm not saying that anyone playing this build has to be noisy and loathsome about it: a light and subtle approach is probably the best.  Afterall, the goal is to win combats, not get kicked out of your gaming group.  Handle With Caution.  Innocent 
I don't buy the mind game, is all, which is why all the song and dance was annoying. I think that it could maybe work for a particular person with a particular DM, but for purposes of character optimization, that's far too situational and subjective to be the build philosophy.

What are the odds that you could fluster a FR DM into obeying your mark? There's no way to tell. What about in a CharOp one-shot on MapTools? Approximately 3,720 to 1. At your home game? Maybe, but only maybe.

There's no way one anonymous poster here can say to another anonymous poster here that they can pull this with their DM, and you shouldn't sell that playstyle as the reason this build is effective, because that is a lie that is bad and not true.
That is one of the strengths of the build, not the only strength of the build.

If a DM starts disobeying your mark, your CC is at +6 to hit and damage, and they take a -5 to hit any of your party. (Two at epic).  So damage them and save damage from your party at the same time, just like the Mr. No build you touted earlier.  (Not to knock that build, since I agree that is a great combination of effects.  Just showing the similarity.)  Granted, I can't take advantage of psychic lock with a Githyanki heavy blade, but mostly likely he won't either, unless he gets free range to choose whatever items he wants. 

Some of the other assets of the build are:
  • doesn't rely on gear

  • can use two weapon groups equally (unlike anyone who focuses on a single weapon type, like pretty much everyone else, except for maybe goliaths).  Any axe or hammer is fine.

  • doesn't rely on setting specific or questionable combos (like mark of storm + hindering shield)

  • high burst aoe damage (clears the trash--normals/minions--for your strikers)

  • has three different daily stances, all of which are effectively auto aoe damage.  You can tank just by standing next to your party, and you can do it for the three most important battles of the day.

  • it has the most fun (subjective I know) epic level combo ever:  AP + Force the Battle + Warriors' Urging + Cruel Reaper.  Which is pull everyone in a cb4, do three attacks at (3W+mods+1/2 level extra damage)) + when they start next to you, you cleave them for another (3W+mods), and if they try to get away, not only can you smack them with a CC, you can also pull them back next round with a 2W+mods+1/2 level extra damage Come and Get it (and keep on cleaving).  


If you want, you can AP after the Warrior's Urging to recharge it, so for three rounds you can aoe pull everyone to you and cleave them at the start of their turns.  Though hopefully the rest of your party has already decimated them by then.  As such, this build pairs well with a sorcerer or wizard who has taken spell accuracy, so you can clump up entire waves of enemies, then stand in the middle of a party unfriendly aoe.