Tainted Faith: The Blackguard's Guide

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Tainted Faith:


The Blackguard's Guide



 
Tired of the goody-twoshoes, preaching of the virtuous lifestyle hogwash that permeates Paladin orders everywhere? Ever felt the urge to shove a sword up a Cavalier's (self-)righteous arse? Then you've come to the right place, lowlives. Here we don't deal in timid morality. Stuff like sacrifice and tempering valor with mercy is for sissies. We Blackguards let those base emotions empower us to stroll around the battlefield and slaughter everything in our paths. Or maybe imprison them into doing our bidding. Whatever works. Maybe we're just a bit mean-spirited. Or maybe we're just evil. No matter, we're here to show what Paladinhood is really all about: Stabbing people in the face! At least we're honest about it.


 


So why play a Blackguard?


With so many Striker classes in existence, how do you, a variant of an established Defender class, set yourself apart?


* You are the most durable Striker around. You use Paladin figures for hit points, healing surges, defense boosts, and armor proficiencies, which are all tops in the game. You wear plate mail from the start, something no other Striker does. And on top of that, you have several ways to load yourself with temporary hit points. Combine all that, and you'll have no problem living to kill even when the fight gets thick.


* You have some flexibility for an E-class. Bored by the relative lack of options available to Essentials Martial classes? If you're a Blackguard you get some flexibility and upward mobility, thanks to the fact that you still have daily powers. Just having those opens up a whole new world you can exploit to make you the best engine of destruction you can be.


* You can bring the pain right as it's needed. With one of the best E-Encounter attack boosters in the game, one that happens to be even further upgradeable by some common feats, it's very easy to add that nice little extra spike of damage at moment's notice, even outside what could be called a "nova round." You'll find that you're pretty easy to rely on, at least where hurting things is concerned.


 


Ratings system:

Red: A trap, obsoleted by something else, or just plain crap.
Purple: Situational at best. Substandard in most cases.
Black: Not bad. You could do worse.
Blue: Consider it, at least.
Sky Blue: One of your best options, period.
Gold: Mandatory. Not just the best. Mandatory. A very rare rating.


This Handbook covers the following sources:

PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB3 - Player's Handbook 3
HoS - Heroes of Shadow 
DP - Divine Power
E:HFL - Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands
E:HFK - Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
MM - Monster Manual
MM2 - Monster Manual 2
AV - Adventurer's Vault
AV2 - Adventurer's Vault 2
D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX
DA XX - Dragon Annual, year XX
MOTP - Manual of the Planes
PHBH - Player's Handbook Heroes
MP - Martial Power
MP2 - Martial Power 2
AP - Arcane Power
PP - Primal Power
EPG - Eberron Player's Guide
DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting
PHR:D - Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn
PHR:T - Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings
MME - Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium
HotF - Heroes of the Feywild 


Glossary

AoE - Area of effect, often denotes a burst or blast attack.


AP - Action Point


BBEG - Big Bad Evil Guy (typically a Solo or an Elite)


DPR - Damage per round


DS - Divine Sanction. A type of mark attached to many of the old Paladin's powers that deals automatic radiant damage at no action cost if it's violated. Blackguards can still access some of the powers with this type of mark, thus allowing them to be very strong secondary Defenders if the mood should strike them.


ED - Epic destiny

Lucifer - "Lightbringer," one of many names given to what is considered the source of all evil in Christianity, Satan. The fact that the "Lightbringer" epithet is attached to a mythical being of supreme evil in real life is justification enough for Blackguards to fittingly throw around Radiant damage if they want to, whether it be via Divine Sanction or directly with their attacks. A Blackguard who picks up means of Radiant damage may occasionally be described as "going Lucifer."


MAD - Multiple-attribute dependency. Otherwise known as stretching your ability scores too thin. Typically a designator for a build needing three or more ability scores to function.


MBA - Melee basic attack


NAD - Non-AC Defense (Fortitude, Reflex or Will).


OA - Opportunity attack


O-Paladin - The original 4e Paladin, which will get referenced a few times here.

Permafrost - The Paragon Tier combination of the feat Lasting Frost for cold vulnerability on demand, a reliable way to deal cold damage, such as a Frost Weapon, and the feat Wintertouched for eternal combat advantage. One of the top damage-boosting options in 4e to this day. Blackguards are especially encouraged to take advantage of this, thanks to a particular class feature.


PP - Paragon path


Radiant Mafioso (or Radiant Soldier) - A character built around creating vulnerability to Radiant damage, greatly increasing not only his own damage, but in many cases his allies' as well. All Divine characters, yes, even Blackguards, have a capacity to become this type of character, thanks to things like at-will powers with the Radiant keyword, Radiant weapons, the Power of the Sun domain feat and the Morninglord paragon path. A full party of this type of character makes up the Radiant Mafia (or Radiant Army).


THP - Temporary hit points.



Thanks to:

Everyone who posts and helps out.

Tales of the Tainted:

Power Source and Role


Unlike your parent class, the Paladin, you are a Divine Striker, not a Defender. Instead of focusing on protecting your allies, you focus on seeking out and destroying the enemy. For the specifics, you actually seem to be the opposite of the existing Divine Striker, the Avenger, in that you prefer to be in the thick of the fight, surrounded by several foes at once. Your high survivability and the means therein let you survive the attention and wreak havoc.


Damage Per Round (DPR) - How much damage you can be counted on to do in any given round at the base level. Lately, this seems to be a measure of how well you can take advantage of all the damage-boosting options provided by charging. You are indeed capable of using most of those tools, and as such you'll have no problems hitting established Striker benchmarks for this category. However, you probably won't completely shatter them.


Burst/Spike/Nova Damage - Admittedly, this is fairly build-dependent, but you do have the tools and the options to become very solid at this. You have the most damaging E-encounter attack straight out of the box in the game, for one. You also have a few ways to get an extra focus-fire attack in a round here and there, and you'll definitely want to take advantage of those if you can. (The Fury Vice, in fact, gets one out of the box with the Blackguard's tailor-made paragon path.) Also, just the fact that, unlike Martial E-classes, you have full Daily power progression gives you a world of options for helping your burst damage. Finally, you also have a few AoE powers that you can swipe by various means, and while that isn't quite as good as focus-firing, it's still hardly something to discount.


Debilitating Effects - Some of your daily powers deal effects like weakening, dazing and even stunning, so you're covered fair enough in this department.


Survivability - Paladin hit points and healing surges, +1 to all NADs, plate mail from the start, and plenty of in-class ways to generate THPs all help ensure that you'll live to kill a lot of enemies.


Targeting Capacity - You'll have to work a little at this category. Considering you're in plate mail, you'll be a bit on the slow side, although a feat can remedy that. On the other hand, you do tend to love charging, which helps your movement by default. Your plate mail, Paladin vitals and THP generation even allow you every once in a while to take calculated risks against enemy OAs to get to who you want. Your per-encounter concealment feature utility helps, too.


Secondary role effectiveness

Controller - Some of your attack powers, dailies and paragon path powers in particular, inflict some debilitating conditions to several foes at once. As such, you can perform decently here if you wish to.


Defender - Considering what your parent class is, it should come as no surprise that you can do very well at this secondary role. You still have all the Paladin's vitals, for one, as well as the extra survivability support on top (THP generation, namely). But even more importantly, you can still access some of the O-Paladin's Divine Sanction powers, marks complete with their own punishments and even some feat support behind those, to practically steal the show as a Defender on any given round. And Humans, in particular, can assume the Defender role almost full-time with an at-will power! In fact, some Blackguards find it so easy to beef up this secondary role that it can be easy to forget that you're a Striker. Try not to fall into that trap.


Leader - While you're probably not going to focus on this secondary role nearly to the extent of your Defender counterparts (your subclass does tend toward being a selfish bastard, after all), the fact remains that you do still have some solid options available here simply by virtue of still being a Paladin. You still have access to utilities that can heal and grant saving throws to your allies, as well as some sweet offensive buffing powers.

 


Tainted to the Core: Baseline Mechanics


Game Mechanics

Hit Points: Just like your parent class', 15 + CON, +6 per level. Defender hit points on a Striker is just plain awesome.


Healing Surges: 10 + CON modifier, same as all other Paladins. The highest baseline number of surges in the game, and for a Striker to have this is just too incredible for words.


Defenses: +1 to all NADs is as good as it gets, plain and simple.


Proficiencies: Plate mail and heavy shields from the start and proficiency in all martial melee weapons. Again, you can't ask for more than that. In case you want to take some O-Paladin powers that use it, you have holy symbol proficiency as well.


Class Features

Lv. 1


Dark Menace (HoS): You add your Charisma modifier to damage with weapon attacks if you have combat advantage. By itself, not really anything special, but the Blackguard's extra damage modifiers are more a sum of parts type of deal, and this is one of the parts.


Dread Smite (HoS): The negative out of the way: This power is a free-action attack and needs to be errata-ed into a no-action. Now that's out of the way, time to explore the awesomeness of the Blackguard's E-encounter attack booster. Namely, it's simply the most damaging of its kind in the game. The amount of damage it adds on an at-will weapon attack power (and that's ANY weapon at-will, so an MBA and anything a Half-Elf picks up with Dilletante are fair game) starts off very strong and scales beautifully. The initial damage, a scaling amount plus your Charisma modifier, happens hit or miss, and then on top of that, if you hit with the triggering attack, it deals a scaling amount of ongoing damage, save ends. Oh, did I mention the damage is cold and necrotic? The cold part, in particular is very important, since (1) because of the way resistances work, it masks the fact that necrotic is commonly resisted, and (2) a certain little combination called Permafrost (you may have heard of it) is a deliciously cheap way to add extra points to both the initial and the ongoing damage inflicted by this thing.


Shroud of Shadow (HoS) : A per-encounter minor action utility that grants partial concealment and a tier-scaling amoung of THPs. Pretty good, and it gets some nice upgrades later on as well. Note, however, that this utility is strictly Shadow, NOT Divine. One consequence of that is that feats which recover Divine encounter powers do not recover this one. You'll find this a common theme for utility powers originating with the Blackguard.


Vengeance Strike (HoS): The fixed at-will power that all Blackguards get, this one gives you a power bonus to damage that increases the more enemies surround you. The increasing damage buff effect is reminiscent of the increasing attack buff effect of the O-Paladin and Cavalier power Valiant Strike. On its face, this power is fair enough and deals good stationary damage. However, ironically, it's still not as good for Striker purposes as its fixed Cavalier counterpart. (Humans who take that Valiant Strike will NEVER use Vengeance Strike.) Again, not a bad power, but be aware that there are better powers out there, including from the Paladin archetype itself. You can't charge with this power, either, which also hurts quite a bit.


Spirit of Vice

Domination (HoS): Once per round, if you have THPs, trade in an amount of health equal to your CHA-mod for extra damage on an attack. This extra damage stacks with Dark Menace and isn't reliant on getting CA. (Remember what I said above about the Blackguard's damage mechanics being a sum-of-parts deal?) This one scales pretty nicely, and it's pretty easy for Blackguards to load up on ways to get THPs in all the rounds that matter of most fights.


Fury (HoS): A flat +2 extra untyped damage bonus when you have CA that becomes +4 if either you're bloodied or you're next to a bloodied creature (this can be an ally or an enemy). This stacks with Dark Menace. Obviously doesn't add as much to a single hit as Domination, but one thing to note is that this bonus applies on all hits you make, versus Domination's bonus on only one hit per round. However, unless there's some blood flowing near you when you make your attacks, you're going to have a tough time getting this to equal or exceed Domination's overall boost to damage even on a good multi-attack nova.



Vice at-will

Dominator's Strike (HoS): Associated with Domination, the effect should look familiar to you if you've seen Paladins in action before. It's exactly a STR-primary/CHA-secondary copy of Bolstering Strike. Which is decent enough when you want a some extra survivability in the form of THPs in a pinch. However, you can't really rely on it to give you the THPs necessary for your Spirit of Domination boost, since a lot can happen between the turn you use this and your next turn (like you getting attacked and having those THPs disappear).


Ferocious Strike (HoS): Associated with Fury, this one grants CA on your next turn. Which is really not that useful, as (a) you'd rather have had the CA this very minute while the fight is still in doubt, and (b) CA is typically not very hard to get, especially at this point in 4e's lifespan. There's almost always going to be something better for you to use on an attack that this power's card should never come into play at the table. Quite simply, a waste and a trap to use.



Lv. 2


Vice's Reward (HoS): The Blackguard's fixed utility at this level. Fortunately, it's pretty good. This per-encounter pure Shadow power gives you a tier-scaling amount of THPs, a saving throw and a power bonus to all your defenses until the end of your next turn. (For you Domination Blackguards, that's now two THP-granting powers per encounter straight out of the box.) Takes a minor action to cast.


Lv. 4


Servant of Vice (HoS): This daily conjuration isn't too useful in combat, as it's destroyed in one hit and making everyone give up CA, including your allies, isn't the wisest thing to do, typically. However, the part of this in which you get to ask your servant the tough questions about the campaign can be quite useful, albeit subject to DM fiat.


Lv. 7


Improved Shroud of Shadow (Vice-related)

Domination (HoS): Now your Shroud of Shadow utility gives you extra THPs, with your CHA mod + a scaling amount involved. The number of THPs that results winds up being quite substantial, improving your survivability and giving you some ammo ripe for your Spirit of Domination damage boost.


Fury (HoS): A significant untyped bonus to your next damage roll when you use Shroud of Shadow, scaling amount + CHA mod, is quite nice, indeed. Makes your Shroud of Shadow a rather sweet combat starter.



Lv. 17


Dauntless Presence (HoS): Getting CHA-mod THPs when an ally next to you uses a surge sounds like a pretty good deal, at least in the instances that you're in the position for this to trigger.


Lv. 22


Vice Utility Power

Your Lv. 22 utility power is fixed, and it depends on which vice you took. You can't retrain it or take another Paladin power, but interestingly enough, you seem to be able to use a power-swap feat to trade it for another class' utility at this level. (Power-swapping is not the same as retraining.)


Dark Grace (HoS): From Domination, an aura 1 daily that gives you and your allies in the aura some THPs when they hit enemies. In addition, if an ally in the qura spends a healing surge, you steal half the healing, selfish bastard that your are. Definitely a utility tailor-made for your subclass through and through, although the aura 1 is a rather limiting area to work with.


Rampaging Bloodlust (HoS): From Fury, this aura 2 daily gives you and allies in the aura a power bonus to damage based on how many enemies you've got in the aura. Aura 2 seems rather small for the heights this power seems to aspire to, though. This one's definitely most effective when the fight is clustered in a small area and you have other solid melee support nearby. Making everyone give up combat advantage in the aura, allies included, is also kind of a double-edged sword. Still, a utility that fits the Blackguard subclass well enough.



Lv. 23


Shadow Step (HoS): A free-action 5-square teleport when you use Shroud of Shadow does wonders for your targeting capacity.


Lv. 27


Shadow Infusion (HoS): Substantial resistance against necrotic and cold damage is quite nice, especially for a Striker. Necrotic, in particular, is a common damage type used by enemies.


Lv. 29


Avatar of Vice (HoS): Your fixed daily capstone. Interestingly however, you can elect to keep all your lower-level powers instead if you don't want this. You can also multiclass power-swap this one with such feats if you wish. If you do decide to keep this, you'll have an encounter-long buff that makes you deal extra CHA-mod necrotic damage on all attacks, gain THPs when you hit and even give you a 1-in-3 chance to recharge Dread Smite if you run out of uses. A fair, but not exhilarating, capstone.





Talents of the Tainted: Skills


The Blackguard's class skill list differs quite a bit from that of the O-Paladin and the Cavalier, reflecting his propensity for dishonest or threatening behavior or thirst for forbidden knowledge. Mainly, he won't make quite as good a party face as his morally upright counterparts, unless the party needs someone who can doubletalk or strike the fear of the gods at the bargaining table. However, other than that, the Blackguard still has a class skill list that covers well for skullduggery, as well as the all-important combat and adventuring skills in Athletics and Endurance. You can train up to four skills.


Class Skills

Arcana: You're not going to be smart enough to use this knowledge skill effectively.


Athletics: Helps you climb and swim, and even jump to hit airborne enemies, among other things. A must-train for sure, and with a high Strength you'll be good at it.


Bluff: A skill for misdirecting and lying, good in the skill challenges in which this can be useful. With a high CHA you're guaranteed to be good here.


Endurance: Resist diseases and a lot of adverse conditions in general. Keys off CON, but don't let that stop you from taking this important skill.


History: You won't be smart enough.


Intimidate: For when you really need to get your point across, or when you want an enemy to surrender. With your high CHA you'll be great at it.


Religion: You won't be smart enough to pass any skill checks using this, but at least this one has an excellent utility power, particularly for Domination Blackguards, so that might make this worth training regardless of your slow wits.


Thievery: Most of you probably won't have the DEX to be great at this. For the few of you that might, this is a very useful one to have.



Recommended Non-Class Skills

Diplomacy: Sometimes it pays to speak civilly. And you'll certainly be great at it if you care to learn.


Perception: An all-important skill to have, even if you won't necessarily have the Wisdom to be great at this.


Fundamentally Tainted: Ability Scores


Strength is your default attack score, and for optimal results, it's best to play along. If that's the case, you should start STR as high as possible and boost it every chance you get. Even if the Blackguard's at-will powers do not impress you (and I don't blame you), the better Striker-inclined daily powers and paragon paths in the game (both Paladin and MC options) use STR for the attack roll, so you'll have a lot more burst damage ammo to play with as a Strength build, overall. (Recommended start: 16-18, before racial adjustments.)


Charisma is the stat that every Blackguard needs to start high and keep high at all times. It determines the damage from all your Striker features, as well as your encounter power Dread Smite. And some Blackguards among the Humans, Half-Elves and Tieflings even have the option of making this their primary attack stat by taking a CHA-based MBA, which they'll spam indiscriminately. Do note that if you go this route, however, your daily powers and paragon paths are more Defender/Leader inclined, rather than Striker inclined, so your burst damage won't be nearly as destructive. (Recommended start: 14-18, before racial adjustments. 14 is the BARE minimum if you're not attacking with it.)


Constitution determines your starting hit points and number of healing surges, which is helpful for keeping you upright. Your baseline number of healing surges gives you a nice head start, but it never hurts to have more. A CON of 15 at Paragon Tier or higher lets you make better use of your plate mail with a feat. And finally, if you're using an axe or hammer, you might want to invest points here for weapon mastery.  (Recommended start: 12-14, before racial adjustments. Some Blackguards can make a case for leaving this at a 10-11 to start, but that should be a last resort.)

Dexterity is the stat that tends to be all over the place for a Blackguard. If you have a mind either to master a heavy blade, or if you want to play with a gouge, which is a top DPR option, you need substantial investment here. A DEX 17 is required for a key gouge feat in Surprising Charge (after you multiclass Fighter), and DEX 17 is also required for Heavy Blade Mastery in Epic Tier. DEX 19 can net you Spear Mastery, which also applies to the gouge. If you're not playing with such weapons, or if you don't care about Heavy Blade Mastery, you can afford to leave this average, but it's never an outright dump stat, as a penalty to initiative isn't fun for anyone. (Recommended start: 10-15, before racial adjustments.)


Wisdom is also swingy among Blackguards. Some of you won't care about it at all and can even dump it below Intelligence if you want. On the other hand, Wisdom also powers some existing Paladin feats that help with survivability, particularly if you picked up a decent array of Divine Sanctions. Even a +2 modifier on those feats can go a long way. Another case where Wisdom can be useful for a build is in multiclassing Fighter. STR 13, WIS 13 qualifies for the excellent Fighter entry feat Battle Awareness, so keep that in mind as well. (Recommended starts: 8-13, before racial adjustments.)


Intelligence, on the other hand, does absolutely nothing for you. At all. You should never feel bad about dumping it. (Recommended start: 8-10, before racial adjustments.)


 


Born Tainted: Races


Any race that gets a bonus to Strength can do well as a Blackguard. If it's accompanied by a bonus to Charisma as well, even better. Dragonborn come to mind there. Alternatively, races with a bonus to the also-vital Charisma and an accessory stat like Dexterity or Constitution can do well, since they can buy an 18 Strength naturally and still be adequate in other areas. And finally, a select few races with a Charisma bonus can even viably attack with that stat full-time -- Half-Elves, Tieflings and Humans come to mind there.


PHB

Dragonborn: +2 CHA and STR make you perfect for the job. As if that weren't enough, you also get your CON mod to your healing surge value to be even more durable. You're also more dangerous when bloodied, perfect for the Fury Vice in particular. And last but not least, you have a minor-action encounter AoE handy in your breath, which you can even turn into a mass-Sanction power if you wish to assume some Defender responsibility.


Dwarf: +2 to CON and STR, minor-action second wind, resistance to forced movement, and some terrific weapons- and survivability-related feat support make you as great a Blackguard as anyone. The only relatively minor point of complaint is that your movement is a bit on the slow side, although at least you won't be slowed any further by wearing plate.


Eladrin: You can get a CHA bonus, but the natural smarts are wasted. Still, having a per-encounter teleport to help your mobility, a bonus to Will and saves against Charm, and a free trained skill out of class do count for quite a bit. This can work out. Remember to buy the natural 18 in Strength.


Elf: Awesome racial power, but otherwise not a good match at all. Dexterity and Wisdom are tangentially relevant at best and are in no way an acceptable substitute for more muscle or image.


Half-Elf: +2 to CHA and CON are a great set of stats to have. If you go the conventional STR-based route, you can easily afford the natural 18 and still have solid scores in the other vital attributes. Or you can go the route of a full CHA-based attacker, made possible by the Dilletante class feature and a Paragon Tier feat that transforms the per-encounter use of the at-will you swiped from another class into a true at-will power. And back to the conventional STR-based Blackguard, there's some great Dilletante options for him, too.


Recommended Dilletante Powers

Eldritch Strike (Warlock) (PHBH): The cornerstone of the fully CHA-based Half-Elf Blackguard. This power counts as an MBA, which takes care of all your charging, leader-grants and OA needs, and it comes with a free slide of the enemy, which can be exploited in various ways. (Deadly Draw, for one. Multiclassing Fighter into either Polearm Momentum or Hindering Shield for others.) A build that revolves around this power matures in Paragon Tier; take Melee Training for Heroic, then retrain that feat for Versatile Master when you hit Paragon.


Howling Strike (Barbarian) (PHB2): You must be committed to a two-handed weapon to use this one, but if you are, this at-will is the pinnacle of charging at-will attacks with its hefty tier-scaling damage bonus built in.


Twin Strike (Ranger) (PHB): Ahh, the infamous Twin Strike. Otherwise known as THE way to get huge DPR without charging (and, in fact, tends to beat charging DPR in many cases). Dual-wielding is a bit unorthodox a setup for a Blackguard, but it's very much worth it. And the ability to use Dread Smite with this opens up some hilarity all by itself.



Halfling: CHA and DEX bonuses are reasonable enough to buy a starting 18 in STR, and you do have a great defensive racial power and feat support geared toward defense. However, small size is a bit of a drawback for a Striker class that tends to favor the larger weapons.


Human: Floating stat, good. (Put it in Strength or Charisma as you see fit.) Racial bonus to all NADs, good. Bonus feat and trained skill, great. Bonus at-will from your archetype, priceless. Several of the existing Paladin at-wills are significantly better than the Blackguard's fixed ones, so you'll definitely want to take advantage of this. One of the Paladin at-wills even lets you become a fully CHA-based Blackguard.


Tiefling: Like the Half-Elf, you can go with bonuses to CHA and CON to buy a natural 18 STR with minimum fuss. Or you could exercise your option to go fully CHA-based with the feat Wrath of the Crimson Legion, which makes your MBA use CHA for both attack and full damage (much better than the weaksauce Melee Training) and, by the way, also comes packaged with an alternative racial power that happens to be a close burst 5 mass-Sanction. And some of the Tiefling's other feat support is just as incredible, namely things like Imperious Majesty, Secrets of Belial, Dispater's Iron Discipline and Icy Clutch of Stygia. Bloodhunt also lets you finish bloodied foes off faster, which doesn't hurt, either.



PHB2

Deva: Bonus to the all-important Charisma, and Wisdom can have its uses. You're pretty much going Strength-based through and through, though, since you don't have a viable Charisma MBA option (no, Melee Training doesn't count). Buy that natural 18 in Strength and move on. You do have a good racial power and some handy resistances, so you'll do OK.


Gnome: Well, uh, you get a Charisma bonus. That's about all you have going, and the rest of it is just plain awful. Cumpulsory INT bonus that you'll get no use from. Small size cramping your weapon selection. And perhaps the worst of all for the Striker role: Slow speed that is made even slower if you wear plate. Yeah, you can take a feat to bring that unacceptable speed 4 to a 5, but that's a tax no other race needs to pay. Gnomes just shouldn't be Blackguards, period.


Goliath: Strong by nature, with the option for extra CON is a great set of bonuses. You could choose to be wise, instead of sturdy, which has its points as well. More generally, your racial power, Stone's Endurance, is fantastic for your survivability, and you also get some great feat support for both offense and defense.


Half-Orc: Go with strength and agility and you'll be set. With the extra DEX you'll find things such as Heavy Blade Mastery and Gouge optimization easier than most other Blackguards will. The THPs you get from being bloodied the first time helps if you're going Dominance, the extra speed on a charge is just plain awesome for your targeting capacity, and the per-encounter utility Furious Assault is always great for some extra damage.


Shifter, Longtooth: You're strong, which is what counts the most, and being wise has its points. And you've also got a very nice per-encounter racial power you can pop when you're bloodied for some extra damage and regeneration.


Shifter, Razorclaw: Same marginal stat bonuses as the Elf, and a racial power that sucks compared to the Elf, never mind a race actually appropriate for the Blackguard duties like its Longtooth counterpart.



PHB3

Githzerai: At best, you boil down to a more defensive Elf. Yeah, the Blackguard thing just isn't for you.


Minotaur: You'll certainly be capable with a guaranteed Strength bonus and the choice of extra CON or WIS. However, you have one rather serious shortcoming in your racial encounter power, which can't hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle. On the plus side, you do get some nice feat support, namely the awesome extra attack from Bloodied Ferocity.


Shardmind: Too bad for the cumpulsory smarts, but at least you can be charismatic. And like the Eladrin, you have enough of a solid racial package otherwise to at least be a passable Blackguard. In your case, Living Construct is just great, and like the Eladrin, you have a nice per-encounter teleport. Your particular racial power even manufactures combat advantage, which is great for your class' MO.


Wilden: CON is nice, but DEX is tangential. Neither make up for a lack of bonus to STR or CHA. Only some nice racial powers keep you from bottoming out completely.



Other rulebooks/Dragon

Changeling/Doppelganger (EPG): An interesting option, certainly fun if nothing else. Go with CHA and DEX for the bonuses and remember to buy the natural 18 in STR.


Drow (FRPG): The potential to be charismatic and quick is fine, and you also have some very nice feat support for the Striker role, as well as power support for it in the form of your Lolthtouched powers. Trance is also an excellent adventuring benefit.


Genasi (FRPG): The cumpulsory smarts aren't fun, but the option for Strength cures that. The racial powers, the manifestations and the feat support for those are pretty good.


Gnoll (D 367): DEX and CON for bonuses, which aren't the worst, but aren't Strength or Charisma. The damage bonuses do help some, though.


Kalashtar (EPG): Extra Charisma and Wisdom are the best you'll do. You'll basically be a more defensive, Leader-inclined Deva, which can work out serviceably. Saves at the start of your turn against dazed and dominated are nice.


Mul (DSCS): Same stat bonus options as the Dwarf (go STR and CON), as well as the ability to benefit from either Human or Dwarf racial support (I'd choose Dwarf) make for an excellent Blackguard.


Revenant (D 376): CHA and DEX are solid bonuses to have, of course, and the ability to pick feat support and even the racial powers of other races can make for some interesting and potentially effective combinations.


Shadar-Kai (D 372): Worse than an Elf through and through with the same stat bonus options.


Shade (HoS): Losing a healing surge is an automatic disqualification from playing, well, anything really. It's that bad. Then add a racial power that's utterly useless in combat to the mix and training in a skill that you'll never really be good at, and you have a complete failure of a race. Oh, you have a Charisma bonus, you say? Sorry, you still fail.


Thri-Kreen (DSCS): If you're lucky enough to be allowed to play one of these guys outside the Dark Sun setting, you'll have a lot going for you. Like the Half-Orc, you'll have an easy time mastering heavy blades and gouges thanks to your STR and DEX bonuses. Then you add the speed of 7, the Trance-like Torpor and a minor-action racial attack power that can actually hit things at higher levels, and you'll be very effective.


Vryloka (HoS): The penalty to healing surge value when bloodied is pretty annoying early in Heroic but in later levels it's almost inconsequential, making for a weird power curve. If you're starting a campaign past lower Heroic, you'll actually find a lot to love. You can have the Strength and Charisma bonuses to be a perfect match for the Blackguard, a la the Dragonborn. Your extra speed really helps your targeting capacity, you have some sweet resistance to a common enemy damage type in necrotic, and you have a potent and versatile per-encounter racial utility that can give you an awesome free shift of up to your speed, a nice THP buffer (great for Domination) or a bonus to your attacks as you see fit.


Warforged (EPG): STR and CON bonuses are both awesome, for starters. Then you add Living Construct, a Trance-like benefit, the fact that you're highly unlikely to ever die from getting KO-ed, and an awesome THP-granting racial power (perfect for Dominance), and you'll rock this class.




 


Themes of the Tainted: Recommended Themes 


Devil's Pawn (NWCS): Hellfire and Brimstone is a very handy encounter power for debuffing the attacks and the defenses of enemies within 2 squares of you. Fire resistance at Lv. 10 is nice, too.


Fey Beast Tamer (HotF): You get a level-scaling beast companion that has half your maximum hit points. And at Lv. 5 said companion grants combat advantage to enemies next to it automatically, flanking or not, which is perfect for you considering how reliant you are on CA. A strong and flavorful theme.


Guardian (D 399): Guardian's Counter is a per-encounter combination of martyrdom and MBA-based punishment. Perfect for a prospective off-defender Blackguard (and extra attacks in general are always awesome for you). The Lv. 10 bonded charge feature is also pretty nifty, giving you a free +1 to attacks when an important ally that might be a bit on the squishy side gets attacked.


Pack Outcast (NWCS): Must be a Human or Shifter (and with DM permission, Half-Elf or Half-Orc). Now you get combat advantage whenever an ally and you are both next to an enemy, regardless of positioning. Thus giving you the best part of flanking without actually needing to flank. That's pretty handy, especially for a class so reliant on obtaining CA as you. Oh, and, yeah, there's that shapeshifting thing, but really, that's beside the point.


Sohei (D 404): This Oriental- and divine-flavored theme presents Sohei Flurry, a much-needed nova power right off the bat. It's a minor action to tack on another attack after you hit an enemy with your standard, and in Epic Tier you can even hit a second enemy with this for collateral damage. (Another Epic Tier note: Since Sohei Flurry is a Divine power, it can be recovered with Divine Mastery.) It also attacks with your highest stat, so you CHA-Blackguards are in luck. The +1 power bonus to saves at Lv. 10 against the three big ones (daze, dominate, stun) is also pretty neat.


 


Tools for the Tainted: Basics of Equipment


 


Weapons


Axe: Great for the damage potential, and many fine weapon properties are of the axe variety. Axe mastery is also easier than most. The proficiency on axes is only +2, though.


Specific weapons

Execution Axe (AV): 1d12 brutal 2 and comes with high crit. Can't go wrong with it.


Gouge (DSCS): Simply the most exploitable weapon out there. Counts as a spear as well, which is the heart of its exploitability. If you're looking to pump your DPR as high as it will go, this is where you look. It requires substantial DEX investment to use it properly (17 for Surprising Charge, 19 for Spear Mastery), and locks you into multiclassing Fighter, but the returns you get on the investment are huge.


Waraxe (AV): Versatile 1d12 weapon. Unlike many heavy Strikers such as Barbarians and Slayers, you can conceivably have your reasons to go with a shield, and this weapon can do nicely.


Flail: Surprisingly good choice for shield Blackguards who multiclass into Fighter, thanks to the slide they can put on their MBAs in conjunction with Hindering Shield's slowing. Also works for anyone who wants to take easy advantage of Deadly Draw for constant combat advantage.


Specific weapons

Triple-Headed Flail (AV): Accurate +3 proficiency and solid 1d10 damage for good times all around.


Hammer: Mastering this requires more CON investment than most of you will be comfortable with, but for certain builds (*cough*Half-Elf*hack*Eldritch Strike*wheeze*) it's still a very worthwhile investment, particularly if you're going to use a shield.


Specific weapons

Craghammer (AV): The best one-handed hammer. Half-Elves with Eldritch Strike take this, use a shield, MC Fighter, take Hindering Shield in Paragon, then Overwhelming Impact in Epic and get an at-will daze with an MBA. Delicious.


Mordenkrad (AV): 2d6 brutal 1 damage is never a bad thing. Even if you can't exploit this weapon quite as well as you can the gouge.


Heavy Blade: An iconic, solid option. The heavy blades worth mentioning all have a +3 proficiency bonus for extra accuracy. If this group has a weakness, it's that it's not a super-exploitable group of weapons. Mastery of this group also requires some DEX investment. Still, you can't go wrong with one of these.


Specific weapons

Bastard Sword (PHB) : The best one-handed representative of this group, with a 1d10 damage die.


Fullblade (AV) : The best two-handed member of this group, with 1d12 damage die and high crit.



Light Blade: Don't laugh. This group is surprisingly solid, noted for its extreme accuracy courtesy of its +3 proficiency bonuses (the ones worth mentioning) and its terrific feat support on top. It requires some substantial DEX to be used properly (again, MC Fighter and DEX 17 for Surprising Charge), and mastery is out of the question with its 21 DEX requirement, but still, more than a worthy option. It's a particularly nice choice for the rare dual-wielders in the audience.


Specific weapons

Rapier (PHB): The best light blade for you, with its 1d8 damage die. And it's a martial weapon, so you start with proficiency in it already. Great times.


Mace: Never use one when you can use a hammer instead.


Pick: Just not much good Striker support for this.


Polearm: If you have an at-will forced movement attack somehow (Half-Elf with Eldritch Strike is the key example here), then MC Fighter, DEX 15, WIS 15 for Polearm Momentum makes this an awesome choice. Just add some extra squares to that forced movement somehow and you'll be set.


Specific weapons

Greatspear (AV): Accurate +3 proficiency, d10 damage die and open to both Polearm and Spear charging shenanigans. As good as it gets here.


Spear: The banner members of this group were already discussed under the other weapon categories that they're also members of (Gouge as Axes and Greatspears as Polearms). That said, you might want to keep a one-handed member of this group as a sidearm for when you need to make ranged attacks. The feat support for this group is undeniably great, especially if multiclassing Fighter.


Specific weapons

Javelin (PHB): +2 proficiency and 1d6 damage die, and it can be thrown up to 10 squares. Solid sidearm.


Trident (AV): More damaging than the javelin (1d8 die), but it can only be thrown 3 squares. Not as good a sidearm as the javelin, but rather a worthy choice if you want to take advantage of MC Fighter and Surprising Charge while still using a shield.


Staff: lol

For Tainted Humans Only: Lv. 1 At-Will Powers


Both of a Blackguard's usual at-will powers are fixed, but Human Blackguards who opt to take a bonus at-will power instead of Heroic Effort get a free choice of another at-will power from the Paladin archetype, even an at-will from another Blackguard Vice besides their own, if desired.


The powers Vengeance StrikeDominator's Strike and Ferocious Strike have already been discussed in the class features section. Other options will be discussed here. Some of those options use Charisma as an attack stat, so these powers will be split into separate categories based on attack stat, for your convenience.

Needless to say, this is a feature Humans will want to take full advantage of, since a few of the existing at-wills from the Paladin archetype tends to suit their needs better than the Blackguard's own fixed at-will powers do.


Strength OR Charisma, Weapon

Ardent Strike (DP): Whoa. Talk about buying back the Paladin's native Defender role in one fell swoop if you take this. If you hit with it, you Divine Sanction the enemy, landing a mark complete with its own no-action punishment mechanic and even some feat support on its own. And even better, you can charge with it, so it's compatible with most of the DPR optimization tricks therein! For you, this is about as perfect a marriage of the Striker and Defender roles imaginable. And finally, as a Blackguard you're more likely to worship the evil deities who hold the domain support for this power. Have fun!


Associated Domains: Darkness, Destruction, Strife, Torment


Strength, Weapon

Challenging Strike (PHBH): Worthless to you.


Associated Domains: None


Forbidding Strike (PHBH): Meh. If you're going to take a power that boosts your Defender subrole, go all the way and take Ardent Strike, which is also compatible with all the Striker stuff, unlike this one.


Associated Domains: None


Holy Strike (PHB): Your secondary Striker stat is Charisma, not Wisdom, and you don't have an at-will mark by default. Don't take this one.


Associated Domains: Fate, Freedom, Luck, Strength, Vengeance


Strike of Hope (E:HFK): A Radiant Cavalier Virtue power that's suited for actual Defenders who have a reliable marking mechanic without having to choose an at-will power. That would not be you.


Associated Domains: None


Valiant Strike (PHB): +1 bonus to hit for each enemy next to you. How ironic that this power, an O-Paladin staple from the very beginning which also happens to be the Cavalier's fixed power, is a better Striker power than your own Vengeance Strike! In a crowd, this one strikes true quite often, and unless you use a reach weapon, you're always going to get at least a +1 bonus to hit out of this. Some of you might even be able to justify the use of Power Attack with this one. As if that weren't enough, the domain support for this power is marvelous. One of the associated domain feats even turns this one into a deadly accurate MBA. Amazing.


Associated Domains: Civilization, Hope, Protection, Skill, Storm, Wilderness


Vengeful Strike (E:HFK): Another Radiant Cavalier Virtue power, and another one far more suitable for fully ordained Defenders than for you. It can deal nice stationary damage with your high CHA as a rider, but you don't want to rely on your allies being bloodied for the damage. And you can't charge with it, so again, skip it for better options.


Associated Domains: None


Charisma, Weapon

Bolstering Strike (PHB): A waste, pretty much. If you're going to be CHA-based, go all the way with a certain power that can actually be used as an MBA, instead. Even the domain support, very appealing to other Paladins, is just way too much of a stretch for you.


Associated Domains: Change, Creation, Earth, Life, War


Enfeebling Strike (PHB): Amazing for the O-Paladin, but worthless to you. Without a consistent, reliable, at-will way to mark you're just not going to get much use out of this one.


Associated Domains: Death, Madness, Moon, Poison, Trickery, Tyranny, Undeath, Winter


Virtuous Strike (DP): This is the power that Humans take if they want to be a full CHA-based Blackguard. It counts as an MBA, it has the Radiant keyword, it gives you a +2 bonus to saves if it hits, and it has some absolutely wicked domain support.


Associated Domains: Arcana, Justice, Knowledge, Love, Sea, Sun


 


Domains of the Tainted: Deities and Domains


You can only apply the benefits of one domain power feat per usage of an at-will. They're optional, just like all feats, but it is recommended you at least consider them, as many of them do provide fairly significant extra bonuses on your at-will powers. Since Blackguards are a lot more likely to spam their at-will powers than O-Paladins are, domains are of particular interest to them. And consequently, some domains that the O-Paladin wouldn't give the light of day are actually of interest to Blackguards.


For your convenience, the deities to whom these domains apply and the domain feats that alter the at-wills rated sky blue above will be listed here.


 


Deities and Associated Domains


Core

Good/Unaligned
Avandra: Change, Freedom, Luck
Bahamut: Hope, Justice, Protection
Corellon: Arcana, Skill, Wilderness
Erathis: Civilization, Creation, Justice
Ioun: Fate, Knowledge, Skill
Kord: Storm, Strength, War
Melora: Life, Sea, Wilderness
Moradin: Creation, Earth, Protection
Pelor: Hope, Life, Sun
The Raven Queen: Death, Fate, Winter
Sehanine: Love, Moon, Trickery

Evil
Asmodeus: Civilization, Tyranny
Bane: Skill, War
Gruumsh: Destruction, Strength
Lolth: Darkness, Trickery
Tharizdun: Destruction, Madness
Tiamat: Strife, Vengeance
Torog: Earth, Torment
Vecna: Knowledge, Undeath
Zehir: Darkness, Poison


Forgotten Realms (D 378)

Good/Unaligned
Amaunator: Civilization, Justice, Sun
Angharradh: Hope, Protection
Bahamut: Justice, Strength
Berronar Truesilver: Life, Protection
Chauntea: Earth, Hope, Life
Corellon: Arcana, Skill, Wilderness
Garl Glittergold: Creation, Trickery
Gond: Creation, Knowledge
Ilmater: Freedom, Hope
Kelemvor: Death, Fate, Justice
Mielikki: Freedom, Wilderness
Moradin: Creation, Earth, Protection
Oghma: Knowledge, Skill, Trickery
Selûne: Arcana, Change, Moon
Sheela Peryroyl: Love, Wilderness
Silvanus: Life, Storm, Wilderness
Sune: Love, Skill, Trickery
Tempus: Protection, Strength, War
Torm: Civilization, Justice, Protection
Tymora: Change, Luck
Waukeen: Civilization, Knowledge

Evil
Asmodeus: Knowledge, Torment, Tyranny
Auril: Storm, Winter
Bane: Civilization, Tyranny, War
Beshaba: Fate, Trickery
Cyric: Madness, Strife, Trickery
Ghaunadaur: Destruction, Earth, Madness
Gruumsh: Destruction, Storm, Strength
Lolth: Darkness, Poison, Strife
Loviatar: Torment, Vengeance
Luthic: Earth, Protection
Shar: Darkness, Knowledge, Undeath
Sseth: Arcana, Darkness
Talona: Destruction, Poison
Tiamat: Tyranny, Vengeance
Umberlee: Sea, Storm
Zehir: Darkness, Poison


Eberron (D 378)

Good/Unaligned
The Silver Flame: Hope, Justice, Protection
The Sovereign Host: Civilization, Fate, Knowledge
Arawai: Life, Storm, Wilderness
Aureon: Arcana, Justice, Knowledge
Balinor: Earth, Strength, Wilderness
Boldrei: Civilization, Justice, Protection
Dol Arrah: Hope, Sun, War
Dol Dorn: Skill, Strength, War
Kol Korran: Civilization, Skill, Trickery
Olladra: Change, Freedom, Luck
Onatar: Civilization, Creation, Strength
The Traveler: Change, Creation, Trickery
The Blood of Vol: Death, Undeath
The Path of Light: Freedom, Skill, Sun
The Spirits of the Past: Protection, Vengeance, War
The Undying Court: Fate, Knowledge, Undeath

Evil
The Dark Six: Destruction, Wilderness
The Devourer: Destruction, Sea, Storm
The Fury: Madness, Vengeance
The Keeper: Death, Torment
The Mockery: Trickery, War
The Shadow: Arcana, Darkness
Cults of the Dragon Below: Darkness, Madness


 


Domain power feats


Ardent Strike

Power of Darkness (DP): Concealment against the next attack when you hit. This one's pretty good.


Power of Destruction (DP): Tier-scaling damage boost against unbloodied enemies. Far more of interest to you than to your Defender-inclined counterparts, especially since you took Ardent Strike with the full intention of spamming it, more than likely. A good boost to your DPR against fresh foes that stacks with everything.


Power of Strife (DP): A hefty tier-scaling damage bonus. +1/2/3 bonus for each enemy within 3 squares of the target, which can have some really nasty results.


Power of Torment (DP): A hit with Ardent Strike sets up combat advantage for your ally's next attack. Decent.


Valiant Strike

Power of Civilization (DP): +1 damage bonus per enemy next to you. This one is of a lot more interest to you than to O-Paladins, since you took Valiant Strike with more or less the full intention of spamming it. A good damage boost.


Power of Hope (DP): Grant a +1 power bonus to attack to an ally up to 5 squares away when you hit. It sure doesn't hurt to help an ally kill a little better while you're hacking at the enemy yourself.


Power of Protection (DP): A hit gives an ally up to 5 squares away +1 power bonus to all defenses. Pretty much a Defender-inclined choice through and through, but you'll be in position to grant this a lot. Not a priority for you like it will be for actual Defenders, but not the worst choice you can make.


Power of Skill (DP): Turns Valiant Strike into a deadly accurate melee basic attack. If you qualify for this domain, you're taking this, period.


Power of the Storm (DP): Gives Valiant Strike the Thunder keyword, along with the +2/3/4 damage bonus. This one is actually really nice. The Thunder keyword gets great support from feats and other features (Echoes of Thunder, Oncoming Storm). And if you're in Eberron and have the Mark of Storm Dragonmark, even better.


Power of the Wilderness (DP): On a hit, you and adjacent allies ignore difficult terrain. Not bad.


Virtuous Strike

Power of Arcana (AP): Makes your Virtuous Strike an Arcane power when you use it, which opens it up for synergies with certain feats you can get via Arcane multiclassing, such as the White Lotus line. Master Riposte, in particular, is a great way to get extra attacks.


Power of Justice (DP): A hit grants a +1 power bonus to attack for all bloodied allies within 10 squares. Situational, but it comes up often enough to warrant a look.


Power of Knowledge (DP): A hit gives you a +1 power bonus to all defenses. Solid.


Power of Love (DP): Even Defender Paladins think this one is a horrible deal. How much more so you.


Power of the Sea (DP): A hit either allows you to make a save or slaps a -2 penalty on the enemy's save. Solid choice, and very versatile. It can save you or help prolong an enemy's misery from a save-ends status power (hi, Dread Smite).


Power of the Sun (DP): Cause tier-scaling Radiant vulnerability (3/5/8) when you hit, which is very, very exploitable for the DPR potential. Amazing to have on an MBA power.

Dark Prayers of the Tainted: Daily Powers


For your convenience, powers will be separated into Strength-based and Charisma-based attacks and whether they use a weapon or implement (or are other things like stances, etc.). Remember that your Lv. 29 daily is fixed and replaces your Lv. 15 power.

Overall, weapon-based powers will tend to be the way to go, since your damage features are not added on implement attacks. An implement-based power will have to do something pretty special to get a good rating in the Blackguard's arsenal.


 


Lv. 1 Daily (at Lv. 5)


Although you do not get to choose a Lv. 1 daily power at Lv. 1, these powers are options for you at Lv. 5, when you do get your first daily power selection. And there are some very nice choices here. Namely Blood of the Mighty, which is about as good as a single attack can get in Heroic Tier. Shield-using Blackguards will probably want Blazing Brand, instead. Even Charisma has some good options here, too, with Majestic Halo doing solid damage along with a secondary Defender effect.


Strength, Weapon

Blood of the Mighty (DP): 4[W] and Reliable is amazing in Heroic Tier, especially with a big-die, superior two-handed weapon of some sort. You take 5 damage whenever you use this, but that's a small price to pay at this stage in the game considering the potential to off enemies instantly with the help of this power.


Blazing Brand (DP): Attacks Fortitude and is also Reliable. Deals ongoing fire damage and makes the enemy give up combat advantage, save ends. Pretty good for shield-using Blackguards who won't use weapons big enough to take full advantage of Blood of the Mighty.


Driving Blades (D 383): When you hit, the save-ends effect deals untyped ongoing damage and lets you push and follow the target as long as that lasts. Solid when you hit, no doubt, but unfortunately the miss effect is quite feeble, so its Reliable competitor, Blazing Brand, probably still holds the edge.


Paladin's Judgment (PHB): You're a Striker. Repeat after me: You're a Striker. Not a Defender or a Leader. And a non-Reliable power that deals no damage on a miss is not Striker-worthy, even if this lets an ally spend a healing surge.


Charisma, Weapon

Glorious Charge (DP): You won't have the Wisdom to put up the healing numbers possible with this. And besides that, it's just not good Striker material with its mere 2[W] damage and lack of miss damage.


Majestic Halo (DP): 3[W], half-damage on miss, and you spread Divine Sanctions around for a whole encounter after the attack. Lets a CHA-based Blackguard take on a strong Defender presence for the encounter, and while the damage isn't quite as good as Blood of the Mighty, it's still serviceable at this level.


Charisma, Implement

Frost of Letherna (D 381): A mass-slowing power that's definitely more suitable for Defenders as a whole.


On Pain of Death (PHB): Attacks Will and makes the target take damage whenever it attacks your or your allies, until it saves. This one's actually a pretty good implement power thanks to the more or less guaranteed extra damage out of turn.


Radiant Delirium (PHB): Attacks Reflex and dazes whether it hits or misses. That's great. If it hits, it imposes a -2 penalty to AC until the enemy saves. Even better. This one is well worth its status as an implement power.


 


Lv. 5 Daily


Frenzying Smite is the clear winner for you if you're talking strictly Lv. 5 powers, although the decision between it and Blood of the Mighty is rather difficult. Charisma-based attacks, on the other hand, are not very Striker-worthy here. The Lv. 1 list is probably more your style.


Strength, Weapon

Arc of Vengeance (DP): A solidly damaging close burst 1 whirlwind that, hit or miss, applies Divine Sanction until the end of your next turn. Half-damage on miss.


Chilling Smite (E:HFK): Cold-based attack that reduces the enemy's damage by -5 until they save. Even if you miss, the effect lasts a round, and the attack does half-damage. Pretty good.


Dark Majesty (HoS): Attacks Will, so at least it hits often. The damage is pretty mediocre on hit, though, and the splash damage isn't exactly going to make its recipient cry, either. Can be a bit better if you have ways to take advantage of sliding your enemies.


Fiery Smite (E:HFK): A garden-variety, fire-based Brute Strike ability that also pops minions next to the target. Meh, whatever.


Frenzying Smite (HoS): Another 4[W] attack in Heroic, this time dealing half-damage on miss and coming packed with a nice push-and-follow effect. You give up CA, but who cares? Tough choice between this and Blood of the Mighty.


Martyr's Retribution (PHB): 4[W], like Blood of the Mighty and Frenzing Smite, but far costlier than those two powers. Too costly in fact. Stick with the other 4[W] powers; this should never see the light of day in your arsenal.


Shadow's Apathy (D 381): Reliable attack that save-ends slows and weakens on hit. A good power that would be even better if it weren't Necrotic.


Unrelenting Punishment (DP): Er, no. A healing effect that you won't have the WIS to benefit from substantially, and the attack itself does no miss damage, nor is it Reliable, which is a no-no for a single-hit Striker power.


Charisma, Weapon

Unyielding Faith (DP): Imposes Divine Sanction for the whole encounter, but only if it hits. Does do half damage on a miss. Overall, you're better choosing a Lv. 1 power like Majestic Halo over this.


Charisma, Implement

Hallowed Circle (PHB): Even Defender Paladins find this one rather iffy, and in your hands it's completely worthless.


Name of Might (DP): Close blast attack vs. Fortitude that save-ends slows if it hits and still slows until the end of the enemies' next turns if it misses. More a Defender and Controller power through and through, and you don't get to add your Blackguard damage modifiers. I'd pick something else.


Sign of Vulnerability (PHB): Ranged attack vs. Fortitude that imposes Radiant vulnerability if it hits. If you have the Sun domain you don't need this at all. Everyone else who deals Radiant damage might actually want to give it a look though, especially if you have Bless Weapon.


Strength/Weapon AND Charisma/Implement

Prayer of Two Paths (DP): Utter garbage.




Lv. 9 Daily


Death Angel is incredible with other melee support around, and failing that you still have other solid choices like Knightly Intercession, Spirit Harrow or, for you Radiant Mafiosi, Whirling Radiance. Charisma attacks here leave a lot to be desired for your role (even the weapon power is mediocre), but at least Ray of Reprisal is a nice off-action attack that serves a secondary Defender purpose.


Strength OR Charisma, Weapon

Reaper's Harvest (D 380): Just plain terrible.


Strength, Weapon
 

Death Angel (HoS): This attack vs. Will is positively nasty if you have other melee allies surrounding the target of this one. You force any one enemy in the close blast 3, if you hit, to choose between running away from you and eating your allies' OAs for a quick death, or standing there save-ends dazed. You also get to teleport anywhere in the blast regardless of hit or miss.


Final Rebuke (DP): Attack Fortitude, push the enemy far and add some extra damage if you push the enemy into something solid. Not too bad. It's Reliable, too, which helps its case for Striker viability.


Holy Outrage (D 383): No miss damage, and the effect that happens regardless of hit or miss requires a combination of some serendipitous positioning and a source of plenty of extra attacks in a round to be worthwhile. Pass on it.


Knightly Intercession (DP): A power flavored for more selfless folk than you probably are, but an immediate interrupt daily for what is still a common trigger is still what it is -- a good selfish reason to take this one. You take the hit for an ally under attack, then pull the offender to you and attack him. If it hits, the enemy is Sanctioned for the rest of the encounter. The only weakness is that the attack does nothing on a miss, but it's an off action, so you can't complain too much about this one.


Shadow Blades of Shared Doom (D 381): You've got a pretty strong possibility to DS an entire cluster of enemies if you hit with the initial attack, since the secondary attack triggered on hit is still weapon-based versus Will. You Sanction the initial target for a round hit or miss. Good multi-target power that would be even better if it wasn't Necrotic.


Spirit Harrow (HoS): Close burst 1 Psychic attack vs. everyone around you, and if you hit the enemies can't shift or make OAs until they save. It's actually more suited for Defenders than for you, but if you are looking for some nice area control, this is great for it. And there is something to be said about limiting enemy options in moving away from you and combining that with ways to force attacks.


Thundering Smite (E:HFK): Thunder-based attack that knocks all enemies within 2 squares of the target (but not the target itself) prone. Eh, fair enough. Half-damage on miss helps its case.


Whirling Radiance (E:HFK): Close-burst attack vs. Reflex, so this radiant attack will hit often and invoke the save-ends ongoing 5 radiant damage. If you can create radiant vulnerability the damage from this can add up quickly. Still deals half-damage on miss.


Strength, Implement

Shout of Condemnation (DP): One of the rare STR-based implement powers, and a Defender/Controller power through and through. Other Paladins like this one well enough, but you should pass on it.


Charisma, Weapon

Shackles of Justice (DP): No miss damage. At least the save-ends condition, moderate radiant damage for damaging an ally, happens hit or miss, but this still doesn't add up to anything remotely Striker-worthy.


Charisma, Implement

Crown of Glory (PHB): Close burst 1 attack vs. Will, followed, hit or miss, by you slowing enemies who start their turns next to you. This can be sustained with minor actions. Again, a power much better suited to Defenders than to you. No real justification to use this implement power and sacrifice your damage modifiers.


One Stands Alone (PHB): Close burst 1 vs. Will, save-ends weakens regardless of hit or miss. Another power more suited to Defender use than Striker use, and this one requires some coordination. Pass.


Radiant Pulse (PHB): Even Defender Paladins hate this one, and you absolutely have no use for it.


Ray of Reprisal (DP): An immediate interrupt to an enemy hitting one of your allies. A Defender power through and through, but it's an off-turn attack to a common trigger, which is always valuable to keep around. This Radiant attack vs. Fortitude deals half damage on a miss, and regardless of hit or miss, the damage the ally takes from the triggering attack is cut in half. An implement attack well worth taking.


 


Lv. 15 Daily


For the typical Strength-based path, this is a pretty mediocre level, to be honest. Your best bets are probably the Avatar powers, but even those aren't terribly exciting. This is a good level to start exercising your right to power swap. Charisma has some very nice options this time around with the likes of True Nemesis and Knight's Defiance.


Stance

Divine Vengeance (DP): You won't have the Wisdom to make this one effective.


Strength, Weapon

Avatar of Righteous Nobility (E:HFK): This one's only useful for Cavaliers.


Avatar of Slaughter (HoS): Hit or miss, gain a nice power bonus to damage and the ability to splash necrotic damage on a second enemy next to you. Fair enough.


Avatar of Subjugation (HoS): Hot or miss, gain a bonus to attack rolls, THPs at the start of all your turns and even let an ally take some damage in exchange for twice the THPs in return. Interesting, if nothing else.


Avatar of Undaunted Bravery (E:HFK): Regardless of hit or the half-damage miss, you get to pull one enemy at the start of every single one of your turns a couple squares as a free action. Not the worst choice you can make, as it certainly makes targeting enemies for annihilation easier.


Bloodied Retribution (PHB): Hit hard when bloodied and use a healing surge. Basic enough. Does deal half-damage on miss.


Flames of Devotion (DP): Hit or miss, your attacks deal 2d6 extra fire damage for as long as you sustain the effect with minor actions. A little too costly for the effect, especially compared to something like Bless Weapon. Lack of miss damage hurts a lot, too.


Pyre of Judgment (DP): Reliable attack that causes ongoing 10 fire damage and damages surrounding enemies by a fair amount until a save. Decent.


Wayfinder's Charge (D 375): Get enemies in the way out of the way and make them pay for taking OAs, then hit the marked target for decent damage, halved on miss. Not bad.


Charisma, Weapon

Knight's Defiance (DP): Pull all enemies within 5 squares to you, save-end Sanction all of them, then attack one of them in melee. Great secondary Defender power.


Tower of Faith (DP): Attack deals half on a miss, and hit or miss you get some pretty good bonuses to saves. Fair.


Charisma, Implement

Break the Wall (PHB): Debuff all of an enemy's defenses, -2 if you hit, -1 if you miss. Decent.


Darkness Unleashed (D 381): This Necrotic close burst 1 power is actually pretty good for Dwarves and anyone else whose second winds are minor-action or better. In their employ it can amount to an AoE attack above and beyond their standard action. If your second wind is a standard action you're better off looking elsewhere.


True Nemesis (PHB): Whether you hit or miss with the initial attack, this power lets you make all the immediate-reaction attacks against the target you could possibly want for the rest of the encounter. These happen if the enemy attacks you or allies, so the attacks are practically guaranteed. Great against a solo, and one of the few ways CHA-Blackguards can get any kind of true burst damage going.


 


Lv. 19 Daily


Some decent options for Strength if you were going more for a control option and less for a nova power here. Ruinous Smite, Deathguide's Sanction and Smite the Soul are good at what they do, although if you're looking for a true nova power you need to look out-of-class. If you want a CHA-based option, Corona of Blinding Radiance is as good as it gets.


Special

Plundering Smite (HoS): A no-action tacked on to an at-will attack (this can stack with Dread Smite, by the way), this adds necrotic damage on the spot and additional ongoing necrotic, and gives you a little self-healing each time the target takes the ongoing damage. The consensus is that the ongoing necrotic damage is of a different type than the cold/necrotic from Dread Smite, so the damages should stack. In that case, it's fair enough, but you also might find yourself looking for better nova powers outside the class.


Ruinous Smite (HoS): Tacked on to an at-will attack (a no-action, so it stacks with Dread Smite), this adds some nice extra damage and makes the enemy yell, "I'm fallen and I can't get up!" when you're standing over him until he saves. This one's pretty nice for keeping one foe locked next to you. You give up CA, but that's a pretty small price to pay.


Strength OR Charisma, Implement

Visage of Sorrow (D 380): Close burst 2 mass sanction for a turn and hit or miss a debuff to attacks against yourself. Not that impressive, and unless you have a more lasting mass-Sanction power to follow up with, it's counterintuitive.


Strength, Weapon

Crusader's Boon (PHB): Simply inadequate.


Deathguide's Sanction (D 381): This one does solid damage, it's Reliable, it's Radiant, and when it hits, it save-ends Sanctions the target while also turning it into a fencing dummy of free healing (5 + CHA mod) every round for all your allies who hit it while the Sanction lasts. Great for a little secondary Defender/Leader action, while still being at least a somewhat competent Striker power.


Overwhelming Fervor (DP): Solid damage on hit, halved on miss. You want to hit with it so you can impose Divine Sanction on the target for the rest of the encounter.


Smite of the Flame Cage (E:HFK): Far more suited for Defenders than for you. The lack of miss damage on this one kills it for you.


Smite of Winter's Grip (E:HFK): A good status effect -- restraining -- hit or miss with this cold-based attack (save-ends if you hit) and also some ongoing cold damage on hit. Pretty solid.


Smite the Soul (DP): Save-end stuns on hit, with a dazing aftereffect. A little low on the damage for a daily of this level, but a worthy pick nonetheless, especially if you can put a penalty on the save. On miss, deals half-damage and dazes for a round.


Wheel of Fate (DP): A solidly-damaging close burst 1 attack with a free surge's worth of healing if you hit at least two enemies. However, your WIS isn't that of a typical STR-based O-Paladin, so the regeneration when bloodied isn't quite as useful for you. The lack of miss damage also hurts in your case.


Charisma, Weapon

Corona of Blinding Radiance (PHB): Close burst 1 vs. Reflex, Radiant, and is just plain devastating even if it misses (which it won't too often). Save-end blinds on hit, and even on miss, half damage and blinds until the end of your next turn. Second to none for melee control.


Righteous Resolve (DP): O-Paladins don't even like it, and without a high WIS it's even less useful for you.


Charisma, Implement

Name of Potency (DP): Close burst 2, mass save-ends immobilization if it hits, save-ends slow if it misses. Much better for Defenders than for you. You should stick with Corona of Blinding Radiance, which unlike this one will benefit from your class damage modifiers.


Righteous Inferno (PHB): Not impressive even for Defender Paladins, and total weaksauce in your hands.


 


Lv. 25 Daily


Exalted Retribution, when set up correctly, is a solid way to get a more-or-less guaranteed extra attack for a nova sequence, and even has the chance to give you more. If you're CHA-based, you'll go with Discipline the Unruly, a Defender power at its core, but a very good one, at least.


Strength OR Charisma, Weapon

World in Winter (D 380): Crippling your allies' movement and offensive capability for the good-on-paper control effect is not a good idea.


Strength, Weapon

Exalted Retribution (PHB): Hit or miss with this (and it deals half-damage on miss), you threaten the enemy you targeted with this one with a souped-up OA if it makes an attack at all, against either you or your ally. With other melee support nearby (or a wall), you can force a highly damaging extra attack for a nova sequence. Too bad the enemy can save against this, but you're going to get the opportunity for at least one extra attack out of this regardless of that fact. It sure is nice to have a workable nova option out of the box.


Mark of Weakness (DP): Save-end weakens and Sanctions on hit, half damage and weaken for one turn on miss. Pretty tame for a Striker power at this point.


Radiant Storm (E:HFK): Tailor-made for a Cavalier, pretty much. You won't be able to force the AoE damage this one is capable of.


Ravenous Shadows (HoS): Creates a wall that can slide nearby enemies into it upon conjuration and the minor-action sustains, immobilize them and make them eat some combined cold/necrotic damage. It's not bad control, but you're a Striker, and you really should be looking at something that improves your nova damage, instead.


Roaring Thunder (E:HFK): Pretty much Thundering Smite, Mark II, this time with a daze on the target and an extra square's distance on the mass-prone effect. Can't say I'm impressed.


Spurn the Unworthy (DP): The attack itself isn't that good for this level, and all you get are an extra weapon die's worth of damage on your melee basic attack. Not impressive.


Venomous Infection (HoS): Attack that deals a fairly hefty amount of ongoing acid and poison damage and comes with a minor spray damage effect when the target is bloodied or killed. Cool enough flavor, but in practice it doesn't exactly inspire.


Charisma, Weapon

Discipline the Unruly (DP): Easily the CHA-Blackguard's best choice. Enemies within 5 squares of you, marked or not, that attack any ally automatically suffer a solid amount of radiant damage and are blinded for a round. You can sustain this with minor actions, and you will most definitely want to do that. Perfect for off-defending, this one allows for some incredible punishment-stacking combos.


Harsh Verdict (DP): No reason for this power.


Charisma, Implement

To the Nine Hells with You (PHB): To the Nine Hells with this power, you mean. Generic marks suck, and the fire damage is hardly impressive.

Aides for the Tainted: Utility Powers


Remember that your Lv. 2 and Lv. 22 utilities are fixed.  


Lv. 2 Utility (at Lv. 6)


Although you don't have a free selection from this list at Lv. 2, you do at Lv. 6. Bless Weapon and Virtue are just as great at Lv. 6 (and even beyond) as they are at Lv. 2. Call of Challenge is also very good if you're looking to shoulder more of the Defender burden.


Class Powers

Astral Speech (PHB): You're a killer, not a talker.


Bless Weapon (DP): If you're building around forcing Radiant vulnerability, this daily encounter-long buff is downright amazing with its expanded crit range and extra hitting and damage.


Call of Challenge (DP): This minor-action mass-Sanction is great if you're looking to steal the show as a Defender for one round every encounter.


Divine Counter (DP): A rather odd self-defense and Defender utility. Half the damage and impose DS as a per-encounter immediate interrupt for an enemy attacking one of your NADs. Doesn't exactly get a Striker excited.


Kord's Strength (D 383): Per-encounter boost to an Athletics or Endurance check in combat, followed by +2 power bonus to melee damage and Sanctioning enemies on your attacks for a round. Not wholly terrible, but you're not going to roll one of those skills every combat. Situational.


Martyr's Blessing (PHB): There's simply much better options out there if you're looking to play Defender.


Restore Vitality (E:HFK): A minor-action surgeless heal, using your healing surge value at all times, at melee range, with a saving throw attached. Decent healing spell, but you're about the killing, not the healing.


Sacred Circle (PHB): A butt of jokes since Day One. Think of just about everything wrong that a daily utility power can possibly do. That's this abortion in a nutshell.


Touch of Grace (DP): Definitely not for you.


Virtue (DP): You can expect to burn through at least one healing surge every encounter. Might as well use this encounter utility to trade your healing surge in for your surge value's worth of THPs. Domination Blackguards buy a large reservoir of THPs they can trade in for their damage, and Fury Blackguards can pop this when bloodied and buy a safe round or two of their extra damage. Easily a top choice for you.


Lv. 6 Utility


Before you commit to picking your first free utility from the Lv. 2 list, you'll want to note some of the goods here, as the actual Lv. 6 list is no slouch in its own right. Such goods include an amazing damage buff to you and your allies in Wrath of the Gods, and a very strong defense utility in Shield of Discipline. One skill power involving Religion, Deliverance of Faith, is also very much worth mentioning, especially if you're a Domination Blackguard.


Class Powers

Aspect of Domination (HoS): This daily Shadow utility lets you push your CHA-mod with all your at-will attacks for the whole fight. Some might be able to take advantage of that.


Aspect of Ferocity (HoS): An extra 1[W] on all your attacks when you're next to anyone who is bloodied (ally or enemy) is pretty good. Note that this daily is pure Shadow.


Bond of Protection (E:HFK): Single-ally protection spell. Definitely not on your radar.


Divine Bodyguard (PHB): Even actual Defender Paladins think this one sucks.


Fear Not (DP): Per-encounter, grant an adjacent ally a saving throw which gets a bonus if it's a fear effect. You can use this on yourself, too, so this one isn't bad.


Flare of Divine Vengeance (PHBH): No way in the hells is this one-round attack buff and surge use worth a daily. Not at all.


Fury of the Battle God (D 383): The only way this power is ever going to be worthwhile is if you miss most of your targets with an AoE encounter or daily power. Translation: Picking this is planning for failure and being a failure. Seriously, go back to the Lv. 2 arsenal and take Call of Challenge if you want mass Sanctioning. If you already had that one, well, pick something else.


One Heart, One Mind (PHB): Flavorful, but doesn't help you kill.


Pure Devotion (DP): A +4 power bonus to Fortitude and Will per encounter as an immediate interrupt if an enemy attacks you. I have nothing against the occasional self-defense power. They help you live longer and stay more fit to kill. So a pretty good choice.


Shield of Discipline (DP): An excellent encounter power for survivability. Pop this at the start of a turn when you've been under an enemy's focused efforts and cut their DPR against you down for that round.


Shield the Virtuous (DP): Another single-ally protection spell, and another option that can only be considered a waste for one of your role.


Valiant Rush (DP): Double your speed on a move action one round per encounter. You might actually value this one more than your Defender counterparts.


Winter's Fated Stance (D 381): This stance is certainly good against enemies that deal Cold and Necrotic damage. But unless you're fighting those enemies every day, this isn't the wisest choice.


Wrath of the Gods (PHB/E:HFK): Hoo-wee, encounter-long CHA power bonus to your damage AND your allies' damage with this daily? So not only do you kill better, but your allies do, too. Great fun. It's only weakness is that it's a close burst 1, but if you plan it right this shouldn't be much of an issue. It used to be even sexier, but even now, it's great.


Class Skill Powers

Religion


Deliverance of Faith (D 385): Hello, Virtue, good to see you again. Having that power twice is a great thing in your case.


Lv. 10 Utility


Pretty lackluster list for the most part as relates to the Striker mentality, but there are some pearls in the slop. You can steal from the Cavalier and take Spirit of the Virtuous Charger. If you're a Human, Winter's Arrival is also worth considering for the extra mobility and targeting capacity. Failing that, there are still some beauties at Lv. 2 and Lv. 6 you may have had to leave behind before.


Class Powers

Beacon of Nobility (E:HFK): I'm sure you, as a Striker, have better uses for your minor actions that handing out THPs to an ally.


Beacon of Penance (E:HFK): You need your hit points too much to bother transferring them to others. You need to live to kill.


Benediction (DP): Actually a solid dual-purpose per-encounter utility that rewards an ally who hits with either a use of a healing surge or potentially some extra damage. But, again, not really suitable for your role.


Cleansing Spirit (PHB): Invoke a saving throw with a +2 bonus, either for an ally or for yourself. This one is actually a solid take.


Deathguide's Stance (D 381): This stance is similar to getting the Bard's Virtue of Valor once per day (except doling out actual healing, rather than temp HPs). Which makes it decent in 5-standard fights, but not so good against Elites and Solos. It's also useless against minions. And it doesn't really help you kill, either.


Deathly Aura (HoS): This pure Shadow daily can pile some nice damage on enemies in the aura 1 pretty nicely (assuming they don't resist necrotic, of course), but you have to be bloodied for this to happen. I'm not sure how long you want to stay bloodied for this.


Font of Healing (DP): Basically an enhanced, Lay on Hands-style power healing both you and an ally. You're not a healer though.


Guiding Verse (DP): You probably won't have the Wisdom to make this any better, numbers-wise, than Cleansing Spirit. And this one only works on yourself.


Noble Shield (PHB): This daily is extremely situational. It's only useful at all for AoE attacks from an enemy.


Righteous Indignation (DP): This one fails. If it affected more than one attack, or were an encounter power, it might have been worth it.


Spirit of the Virtuous Charger (Lv. 8) (E:HFK): If you like to charge a lot, this minor-action daily is a very nice pick. At later levels this power gets even better, gaining a lot more general usefulness aside from merely charging. At Lv. 18 you get flight. And at Lv. 28, this power also grants its benefits to all allies within 2 squares of you.


Turn of the Dark Tide (HoS): This pure Shadow daily is similar to the existing Turn the Tide, but even worse, since it forces your party members to take damage in the process. Still uses up your standard action, too. Avoid it.


Turn the Tide (PHB): Your standard actions are always better spent attacking. Period.


Vengeful Vigilance (D 375): You don't have Divine Challenge, so you'll get no use out of this one.


Winter's Arrival (D 381): A Human with Ardent Strike will greatly appreciate a per-encounter teleport that will help close distance on a Sanctioned enemy who gets away. The difficult terrain you create can rob the enemy of a few movement options.


Class Skill Powers

Endurance


Reactive Surge (PHB3): Immediate-reaction spending of a healing surge when you get bloodied. Pretty good to have around.


History


Lessons of History (D 385): Well, well, a reason to actually consider training History. Letting all your allies recover an encounter utility in one fight per day is quite handy.

 

Lv. 16 Utility


A few decent-to-great defensive powers here. Divine Aegis is probably the best of the bunch overall.


Class Powers

Angelic Intercession (PHB): This daily is a fancier Martyr's Blessing. And it still sucks.


Call from the Brink (E:HFK): This daily's a pretty decent recovery spell on an ally who gets KO-ed, but again, you're a Striker. Choose something that helps you kill, or at least lets you live to kill.


Death Ward (PHB): Less useful than Call from the Brink, overall, assuming you even had an inclination to heal in the first place. You shouldn't.


Devotion (DP): Boost the whole party's Fortitude and Will by +4 power bonus, but only until the end of your next turn. As a daily power, that's barely acceptable for Defenders and Leaders, and irrelevant to you.


Divine Aegis (DP): Daily stance giving a +2 untyped bonus to all defenses for you and anyone up to 2 squares away. Straightforward, but very effective, since it stacks with every other defense bonus out there. This one actually helps you live longer, so taking it definitely has it points.


Higher Cause (DP): This daily stance gives untyped save bonuses and regeneration when bloodied. Another solid power that helps you live longer to kill.


Liberation (DP): Again, you're a Striker. You should be using your move action for killing purposes.


Pragmatic Sacrifice (HoS): Certainly interesting and flavorful, and Blackguard-appropriate with its selfishness, but in practice this self-death rescue daily just isn't really worth the slot.


Prayer for the Valiant (DP): A daily mass-saves power. Not really your thing, but a nice emergency button, I suppose.


Shadow Healing (HoS): This pure Shadow daily is definitely best used immediately after combat is over. Your bloodied value's worth of surgeless self-healing is very nice, no doubt, but the prohibition on spending your healing surges until after your next short rest makes this unwise to use in the heat of a battle.


Stave off Winter (D 386): Sort of an immediate-interrupt, ranged Lay on Hands-type power, followed by some situational benefits at the cost of additional healing surges. Not really worth it.


Training for the Tainted Ones: Feats


Note on the general, class, racial, and divine power source feats: Not all of those will be listed. Only the consequential ones (many of those will be rated blue or sky blue). Traps among those will be noted. This saves space, plus since feats have become a more precious resource thanks to simply the increasing number of them in 4e, narrowing them down to the meaningful choices is justified.


As for what you should prioritize when selecting feats:


1. Attack accuracy. There's a reason your chance to hit is factored into your DPR figures. If you don't hit, you don't do damage, plain and simple. So look for as many things that give you bonuses to your attack rating (preferably either constant ones or huge per-encounter spikes) as you possibly can.


2. Damage. A very close second in priority. When you hit, you want to make sure it hurts as much as possible. It's your duty as a Striker.


3. Combat advantage generation. Since your class damage features rely on getting combat advantage, taking feats that make it easier for you to obtain is certainly a good idea.


4. Mobility. You're not a particularly mobile Striker, by default, so anything you can get to improve your mobility on the battlefield will ensure that you can nail whomever you want, whenever you want.


5. Defense/survivability. You don't deal damage when you're dead. You're already doing fine in this category by default, considering you're still a Paladin, but any extra support you take here certainly won't go to waste.


6. Power recovery. If you come upon feats that let you recover your encounter powers, take them. They can impact the battle in a big way.


 


Class/Power Source feats

Heroic Tier


Commanding Vow (D 388): A Human with Ardent Strike will seriously want to look at this one and combine it with Deadly Draw for the constant combat advantage.


Protector's Commitment (DP): Rather selfless flavor, but what the hell, it's a fairly commonly triggered +1 untyped bonus to attacks and stacks with the Expertise feat you're bound to take. You or an enemy next to a bloodied ally happens quite a bit (particularly the latter case, since that happens with a simple flank).


Symbol of the Sonnlinor (D 385): If you can justify worshipping Lawful Good Moradin to your DM somehow, this is great for axe and hammer users. Not only does it reduce multiple-item dependency in letting you use your axe or hammer as an implement, but it opens up a lot of interesting combinations for implement use. Like the classic Lasting Frost synergy. Or how about following up a close-burst implement crit with a Rending attack? Bloodiron's sure looking fine. The possibilities are endless.


Virtuous Recovery (DP): While your WIS won't be so high as to make you nigh-invincible with this feat, even a modifier as small as +2 can go a long way toward increasing your survivability. Works on any way you spend a surge, including second wind and utility powers like Virtue.


Paragon Tier


Hero's Poise (D 388): OK, so this feat is more geared toward a Defender Paladin's inclinations, or elsewise high-CHA Leaders who multiclass or hybrid Paladin. Still, it is what it is: A way to make your whole party laugh off save-ends status effects as long as you can make saves yourself. If a more suitable Defender or Leader doesn't have this feat, this one is highly recommended. After all, you need your allies to be in prime condition to assist you in laying down the pain.


Honored Foe (DP): If you have at least a +2 WIS modifier and either you're a Human with Ardent Strike or you have a couple of mass-DS powers on hand, this one can help your survivability quite a bit.


Pervasive Light (DP): This one is aimed at those of you who primarily like to attack with other damage types besides Radiant, but still want to take advantage of Radiant vulnerability. If you're hanging out with a full-fledged Radiant Mafia, this can be an outright amazing choice, allowing you to stack the Radiant vulnerability your allies create with the extra damage or nasty tricks from your own preferred attack type (such as from Cold, Psychic or Thunder).


Epic Tier


Divine Mastery (DP): How does regaining a use of Dread Smite when you use an action point sound? Or even a Divine encounter utility if you prefer. Whatever you need at the time. You need to to get this as early in Epic Tier as possible. (Unless you took a Fighter PP with a multi-attacking encounter power, in which case you need to take Martial Mastery, instead. If you're a Sohei, you'll still want Divine Mastery in addition.)


Paladin's Truth (DP): Humans with Ardent Strike should strongly consider this. Ignoring immunities and resistances on targets you mark is incredible. Life is so much more beautiful for Blackguards when necrotic resistance ceases to be an issue.


Promise of Judgment (D 388): Humans with Ardent Strike can turn it into a guaranteed DS with this feat. A good choice.


Punishing Radiance (DP): Radiant vulnerability 10 (or the increasing of it by 10) until the end of your next turn on a radiant divine power's crit. Fantastic if you're going Lucifer and picked up a good Divine at-will attack (typically because you're Human). Also note the synergy with Font of Radiance.


General feats

Heroic Tier

Aggressive Advantage (E:HFL): Combat advantage for your first turn of combat straight up, during what is often the most important round of combat, is certainly worthwhile. NOTE: If your DEX is 15 or higher, take Superior Reflexes instead if you planned to take this.


Axe Expertise (E:HFL): Gives you the necessary tier-scaling feat bonus to attack rolls with axes, and also lets you reroll those pesky 1s on a damage die. Decent extra perk, assuming you're going one-handed plus shield.


Blindfighting Warrior (E:HFK): Ignoring concealment of all sorts can come in handy for melee types.


Bludgeon Expertise (E:HFL): Tier-scaling feat bonus to attacks with hammers and maces, and its perk of an extra square of forced movement on an attack can be very nice with Eldrich Strike for Half-Elves or for Mark of Storm. NOTE: This does not work with Ardent Strike and Commanding Vow, though, since it's the Sanction, not the attack, that slides.


Cunning Stalker (E:HFL): This feat takes care of a ton of the situations in which you couldn't gain combat advantage otherwise. Basically, this is the feat you take if you can't fully exploit the truly constant CA feats (like Deadly Draw, Wintertouched or Vicious Advantage).


Deadly Draw (PHB3): If you have means of sliding your enemy in any way at-will (e.g. Ardent Strike + Commanding Vow, or Mark of Storm, or Half-Elf with Eldritch Strike) this can net you constant combat advantage. Great fun.


Disciple of Freedom (E:HFL): Slowing, immobilizing and restraining are pretty nasty conditions for you as a Striker. The ability to save at the start of your turn against those is a huge bonus. Plus, there's the fact that in Paragon Tier, this feat is going to have some beautiful synergy with Hero's Poise, should you take that feat. Requires CHA 13.


Disciple of Stone (E:HFL): Tier-scaling THPs for you when you use a healing surge. Good one, assuming you're not already taking encounter powers that grant THPs on surge use (e.g. Virtue). Requires CON 13.


Disciple of Strength (E:HFL): If your second wind is minor-action or better (Dwarf, Questing Knight) this one's good for the extra sting on your next hit. Requires STR 13.


Durable (PHB): Two extra surges are nice to have.


Echoes of Thunder (PHB2): Extra tier-scaling untyped bonus to damage when you hit with Thunder powers. If you're a Human using the Storm domain on your Valiant Strike, this should be next on the radar after Weapon Focus, as it really lends potency to your preferred keyword.


Focused Mind (PHB3): +4 feat bonus against two of the more crippling conditions, dazing and stunning. Good now, even better later, especially if you take Hero's Poise in Paragon Tier.


Heavy Armor Agility (E:HFL): If you have the STR or CON 15 to qualify, it's a very good idea for a plate-clad Striker like yourself to take this for the extra mobility and targeting capacity.


Heavy Blade Expertise (E:HFL): The tier-scaling feat bonus to attacks with heavy blades you're looking for, and the +2 bonus to defenses against OAs you get in addition can make you a little more confident about barging through other enemies to get in an ideal position, assuming you've decided to go one-handed plus shield.


Holy Symbol Expertise (HoS): Only CHA-based Blackguards, or anyone who takes a PP with implement powers, are likely to care, but this is the implement-based Expertise feat you take if you like your weapon-based Expertise feat's perk too much. Canceling CA against you in many situations is pretty nice, indeed.


Implement Focus (E:HFL): Finally, a general tier-scaling feat bonus to implement damage. It's probably not that high a priority for you, though.


Improved Defenses (E:HFL): It's likely not a matter of if you're taking this tier-scaling feat bonus to NADs, but when. NADs tend to fall behind as your levels increase, and this feat helps corrects that. Note: This feat obsoletes Paragon Defenses (PHB2) and Robust Defenses (PHB2).


Improved Initiative (PHB): Less urgent for you to take than it is for your Defender counterparts, but it's still nice to have if you can fit it in.


Light Blade Expertise (E:HFL): Tier-scaling feat bonus to attack with light blades and an extra untyped tier-scaling bonus to damage with CA. An incredible member of the Expertise family.


Master at Arms (E:HFL): Tier-scaling attack bonus for all weapons, and the additional action economy for drawing and stowing weapons is pretty nice, too.


Nimble Blade (PHB): If you actually happen to use light blades, this is a must-take thanks to the extra +1 to attack rolls with CA that stacks with all other bonuses.


Powerful Charge (PHB): +2 bonus to charge damage is nice for charge optimizing, which is one of the key avenues of boosting your DPR.


Rapid Assault (PHB3): Now this'll do your alpha strikes a lot of favors. A very healthy, tier-scaling melee damage boost on your first round of combat.


Resilient Focus (E:HFL): Flat +2 feat bonus to all saves. Certainly nice, but some of you will have better options in this department. Might actually be better than Focused Mind depending on which PP and ED you take.


Skill Power (PHB3): Gives you an extra skill power for the cost of this feat. If you use it to pick up the right power, this one can actually be a very good choice.


Spear Expertise (E:HFL): The extra untyped tier-scaling bonus to damage when you charge stacks with Two-Handed Weapon Expertise's damage bonus in the same situation, so it's conceivable that gouge wielders might take this one in addition to Two-Handed Weapon Expertise. If you're wielding a one-handed spear as a main weapon for whatever reason, then obviously you'll take this one to get the necessary Expertise family feat bonus to attacks.


Superior Fortitude (E:HFL): STR or CON 15 required, this feat bonus gives you an extra point to your Fortitude over Improved Defenses, and you gain a tier-scaling resistance to ongoing damage. Solid enough, but you're only really going to care if you took both Superior Reflexes and Superior Will (in which case you might as well take this one instead of Improved Defenses).


Superior Reflexes (E:HFL): DEX or INT 15 required, this feat bonus gives you an extra point to your Reflexes over Improved Defenses, and on top of this you get the full benefits of Aggressive Advantage attached -- free CA your first turn of combat straight up. So this defense feat also boosts your offense when it tends to matter most, making it a great choice should you qualify.


Superior Will (E:HFL): If you don't have the CHA 15 to get this at Lv. 1, you will soon after. Your Will defense increases an extra point over what Improved Defenses gets you, but by far the most important part of this is saving against daze or stun at the start of your turn, even if a save normally wouldn't end those conditions. (If it is a save-ends condition you still get a save at the end of your turn as well.) Needless to say, this feat is one you shouldn't pass up at all, and it's only a matter of when you'll take it, not if. Being dazed and stunned rob you of the ability to do the damage you should deal by rights.


Swift Recovery (E:HFL): Tier-scaling feat bonus to your healing surge value, available to you if you trained Endurance. As far as the HP-related feats go, this one should be top priority. It has the greatest effect on your daily hit point totals, factoring in surge use, even more so than Toughness has.


Toughness (PHB): Tier-scaling increase of your maximum hit points value. This is actually not as good as Swift Recovery for your survivability over the course of a day (especially in Heroic and Paragon Tiers), but it's still worthy of your attention in case you can fit both feats in your build. In Epic Tier, the comparison between this and Swift Recovery becomes more of a wash.


Two-Handed Weapon Expertise (HotF): For Blackguards going with a two-hander, this practically cries out for something higher than gold. If you're using a two-hander, you're taking this, no ifs, ands or buts. The necessary tier-scaling feat bonus to attacks, which applies to all two-handed melee weapons, plus a tier-scaling untyped bonus to damage on a charge, a.k.a. your main avenue of DPR.


Two-Weapon Fighting (PHB): Not a great feat by itself, but the reward is the feat line it opens up. Dual-wielding Blackguards are rare, but here it is in case you're one of those.


Versatile Expertise (PHB3): There's still something to be said about the Expertise family member that grants you the necessary tier-scaling attack bonus to one weapon and one implement of your choice. Mostly, just CHA-based Blackguards will care, but if your weapon-specific Expertise feat's perk doesn't really help your build, and you plan to use implement powers, this one's waiting for you. 


Vicious Advantage (PHB3): Combat advantage against any slowed or immobilized opponent. Some builds might find a way to put this one to permanent use.


Weapon Focus (PHB): Your feat bonus to damage, and high priority among the many damage boosts you should take. However, note that some races have their own, possibly superior, racial options for feat bonus to weapon damage.


Weapon Proficiency (one superior weapon) (PHB): Typically, a superior weapon will give you an average of 1 extra damage over its military counterparts (and sometimes a little more) for 1[W] powers (like your at-wills and MBA in Heroic and Paragon), and, of course it makes those big [W] powers absolutely sing. Should be the first of many damage-boosting feats you take, barring a few exceptions like light-blade users (Rapier is military) and those races who have superior options that often give them proficiency here on top of an extra damage perk (looking at you, Dwarves).


Wintertouched (PHB): You don't need to take this at all until Paragon Tier, but once you take Lasting Frost this can grant you constant CA. Considering your class is predisposed toward the Permafrost combo, this should rank very high on your list.


Paragon Tier

Agile Opportunist (PHB2): This one depends on party composition. If your Leader is someone who has a lot of features or powers that can slide you, such as a Cunning Bard, you DEFINITELY want this; they'll thank you for it. And rolling extra attacks is always fun.


Armor Specialization (PHB): Your feat bonus to AC. Most likely, you'll be picking this one for plate (CON 15 needed).


Danger Sense (PHB): Roll twice for initiative and take the better result. Good for guarding against bad initiative rolls.


Deadly Axe (PHB): Gives your axe the high crit property if it didn't have it already. Good for the Gouge and any one-handed axe.


Fleet-Footed (PHB): Extra speed is never a bad thing, especially for the Striker role.


Hammer Rhythm (PHB): You probably won't have the CON to put this to the best of use, but it'll still help your hammer DPR.


Heavy Blade Opportunity (PHB): DEX 15 needed. This one can be pretty effective with the right at-will. (Humans are the most likely to care.) Valiant Strike for a more accurate OA, Ardent Strike for a DS to discourage any attacks after the enemy moves away.


Lasting Frost (PHB): I'm going to stop just short of calling the lynchpin feat of the Permafrost combo "mandatory," but I will say that it's very, very, very, VERY tempting. Considering that the highly spammable Dread Smite deals cold damage, and a lot of it, and all instances of damage from that thing benefit from the vulnerability that Permafrost creates, you are practically ordained to go the Permafrost route, moreso than even other Strikers.


Light Blade Precision (PHB): If you happen to use light blades, this is a nice untyped bonus to damage against Large and larger foes, which become almost ubiquitous in upper Paragon on into Epic.


Repel Charge (PHB3): A nice way to discourage enemy charges. An opportunity to get an attack out of the deal is always good.


Reserve Maneuver (PHB2): Don't like your paragon path's encounter power? Trade it out for an O-Paladin encounter power after you rest.


Recommended encounter powers with Reserve Maneuver

Valorous Smite (Lv. 1, CHA weapon attack, DP): If your CHA is attack-caliber, you've got yourself a mass-DS power if you want to assume more Defender responsibility.


Fortune Spurned Smite (Lv. 3, STR or CHA weapon attack, D 381): With extra melee support around the enemy you hit with this, you can enable a nice beatdown of OAs.


Strength from Valor (Lv. 3, STR weapon attack, DP): Close-burst that can net you a solid amount of THPs. Good for the Domination Vice, in particular.


Winter's Edge (Lv. 3, STR weapon attack, D 381): A close-burst with the Cold keyword that slows enemies at the very worst. If you happen to have a mass-DS power on hand, you can immobilize a crowd with this, instead.


Solid Sound (PHB): +2 untyped bonus to a NAD for a round when you hit with the Thunder or Force keyword. This one is good for those with the Storm domain or those using a Force Weapon.


Two-Weapon Opening (PHB2): For the rare dual-wielding Blackguards in the audience, qualifying for this is why you take Two-Weapon Fighting. Getting extra attacks on crits is a beautiful thing.


Uncanny Dodge (PHB): Canceling enemy bonuses to combat advantage is nice.


Vexing Flanker (PHB2): All your allies get combat advantage against an enemy you're flanking. Pretty useful.


Epic Tier

Axe/Bludgeon/Heavy Blade/Light Blade/Spear Mastery (PHB): Takes a conscious effort with your ability scores to qualify for the expanded crit range from this family of feats, but it's worth it, no doubt.


Blind-Fight (PHB): Thwart invisibility and concealment (but not total concealment) on adjacent creatures. Not bad.


Epic Fortitude/Reflexes/Will (PHB2): +4 to the NAD in question. Stacks with Improved Defenses. You would do well to go for at least one of these. Can make your highest defense extremely hard to hit, a medium defense from a secondary stat in the high teens-low 20s solid, and even your lowest defense at least passable.


Epic Resurgence (PHB): Not as high priority as Divine Mastery, but still worth a look after, especially if you expanded your crit range.


Font of Radiance (PHB): On a radiant crit, inflict a save-ends condition that involves bright light and a healthy amount of free radiant damage per round on the enemy and its adjacent lackeys. Very nice if you're going Lucifer with your attacks. Note the synergy with Punishing Radiance, too.


Long Step (PHB3): Charging is one of the main ways to boost your DPR, and an extra square when you shift will ensure you can do it whenever you please.


Rapid Regeneration (PHB3): If you have any substantial sources of regeneration and an even appreciable CON modifier, you should look at it.


Superior Initiative (PHB3): If you took Improved Initiative, retrain for this higher feat bonus.


Triumphant Attack (PHB): Attack roll and defense debuff for a full encounter whenever you crit in melee. Very good.


Unfettered Stride (PHB): Ignore difficult terrain. Good if you've somehow trained yourself in Acrobatics.


Mount feats

Heroic Tier


Mounted Combat (PHB): This feat is pretty much a necessity to get the most out of your time mounted, should that apply to you somehow. (Jade Horse comes to mind.) You can get some really awesome benefits from your mount.


Paragon Tier


Holy Steed (D 388): Requires the Mounted Combat feat, but you should have that anyway if you plan on using a mount often. +2 to all your mount's defenses is obviously awesome, and extra CHA-mod bonus to all your mount's damage rolls actually makes your mount a somewhat credible damage threat.


Racial feats

Dragonborn

Heroic Tier


Bolstering Breath (PHR:D): Your breath becomes party-friendly and gives your allies in the blast a +1 bonus to attack. Something to consider for Heroic Tier, while it can still hit something.


Draconic Challenge (DP): Turns your breath into a mass-DS power you covet. Excellent if you're looking to assume some Defender responsibility.


Drow

Heroic Tier


Clutch of Darkness (FRPG): If you opted for Darkfire, extending the range on that is nice. However, if you opted for Cloud of Darkness, the burst expansion can actually be a liability almost as often as it is an asset.


Far Shadow (D 385): If you took Cloud of Darkness, you should take this feat over Clutch of Darkness. Turning your Cloud of Darkness into an area burst within 10 squares can always work out well.


Knife in the Dark (D 382): Nice and brutal, just your style. Essentially get yourself a net +3 per tier on your damage over Weapon Focus when you attack targets in your Cloud of Darkness.


Paragon Tier


Cloud of Poison (D 382): 5 poison damage to enemies stuck in your Cloud of Darkness. Decent.


Eyedark Strike (D 373): Blinding once per encounter at the cost of your Cloud of Darkness can be a nifty deal.


Master of Fire and Darkness (FRPG): This feat doesn't work right thanks to it not accounting for the revision to Drow in Essentials. I'm rating it based on the likelihood that it will get errata-ed so that you get to use both Lolthtouched powers. Most DMs out there seem to have adapted that change, so this one's very good in that case.


Merciless Killer (FRPG): Finishing bloodied enemies off becomes a snap with the +5 untyped bonus to damage.


Epic Tier


Lolth Blessed (D 382): Recharging Lolthtouched powers with an action point? Sure, I'll take that, and so should you.



Dwarf

Heroic Tier


Dwarven Weapon Training (PHB): You get proficiency in all axes and hammers, including the superior versions, and on top of that, the equivalent of Paragon Tier Weapon Focus with those weapons. Automatic pick, for sure.


Paragon Tier


Dwarven Durability (PHB): Two extra healing surges and you get to steal the Dragonborn's healing surge value benefit. No Dwarf should ever go without this.


Genasi

Heroic Tier


Extra Manifestation (FRPG): Some extra versatility never hurt.


Paragon Tier


Shocking Flame (FRPG): Extra fire or lightning damage on all melee attacks with the right manifestation. Solid.


Stormrider (FRPG): Strictly better than Fleet-Footed with the right manifestations.


Epic Tier


Double Manifestation (FRPG): Manifest two elements at once. Yes, this is awesome.


Goliath

Heroic Tier


Markings of the Victor (PHB2): Reroll your first attack of every encounter and take the better result. Perfect for an alpha strike.


Paragon Tier


Unyielding Stone (PHB2): A high amount of THPs when you use Stone's Endurance, in addition to the damage resistance. Now you're even tougher to bring down. Not to mention that Domination Blackguards get some serious ammo.


Epic Tier


Ancient Stone (PHB2): Extends your Stone's Endurance another round with a slight drop-off in power, essentially. That's still really good.


Half-Elf

Paragon Tier


Versatile Master (PHB2): You took Dilletante for a reason. Make that thing a true at-will.


Halfling

Heroic Tier


Lost in the Crowd (PHB): Plenty of things are bigger than you. A +2 untyped bonus to AC in this case is great.


Paragon Tier


Underfoot (PHB): If you're trained in Acrobatics somehow, this one is worth a look for the beneficial movement option. You'll fight plenty of Large things.


Half-Orc

Heroic Tier


Anger Unleashed (PHB2): +2 to attack rolls until the end of your next turn after being bloodied. Pretty good.


Divine Assault (DP): A serious damage buff for all an ally's attacks until your next turn when you use your racial power. Very, very nice, especially if you've got, say, a Ranger in the party. Or a leader who likes enabling extra attacks.


Thirst for Battle (PHB2): +3 feat bonus to initiative (only 1 less than Improved Initiative) and an extra healing surge to boot make this a great feat for you in Heroic and Paragon Tier.


Paragon Tier


Strength from Pain (PHB2): +5 extra damage until the end of your next turn after you're bloodied is nothing to sneeze at. Especially if you have a close burst attack or, somehow, a focus-fire multi-attack ready.


Epic Tier


Ferocious Critical (PHB2): A huge bonus to attack and damage until the end of your next turn when you score a crit. Awesome.


Human

Heroic Tier


Action Surge (PHB): +3 untyped bonus to all attacks from an action point is increadible for the Striker role.



Kalashtar

Heroic Tier


Clarity of Spirit (DP): Bastion of Mental Clarity triggers a healing surge in you or an ally. Nice.


Dual Mind Strength (D 385): Strictly better than Weapon Focus if you're using a Githyanki Silver Sword.


Epic Tier


Quori Desperation (EPG): Buy yourself a round to heal and/or act when you would've been knocked out. Nice.


Minotaur

Heroic Tier


Bloodied Ferocity (PHB3): A free melee basic the first time you're bloodied every fight, a trigger that's pretty much always going to happen if you let it. Never pass up the opportunity for free attacks. And who cares if you give up combat advantage?


Paragon Tier


Beast Within (PHB3): Steal from the Dragonborn's arsenal and then some with this feat. +1 to hit and damage when you're bloodied. Great.


Revenant

Heroic Tier


Chill of the Grave (D 376): Mask the commonly resisted Necrotic damage of Dark Reaping by adding an element whose resistance isn't so common.


Dark Feasting (D 376): THPs from Dark Reaping. Decent.


Death's Blessing (D 376): Become undead. You no longer need to eat, sleep or breathe, or make Endurance checks related to those things. Great one.


Death's Quickening (D 376): Take a minor action past the KO point as well as a standard action. Good.


(Race) Soul (D 376): You get a trait, or in some cases, the racial power of your past life race. That can be really huge.


Paragon Tier


Thin the Herd (D 376): Now Dark Reaping can trigger when someone, including you, gets bloodied. Good, again, if you actually plan to use Dark Reaping.


Epic Tier


Ghostly Vitality (D 376): Whoa. Get your full complement of actions in the negative hit points range, and also gain insubstantial for more damage reduction. Consider it mandatory. Retrain Death's Quickening for this one.



Shifter

Paragon Tier


Beasthide Shifting (PHB2): Resist all 2 when you use your Shifting power. Nice.


Tiefling

Heroic Tier


Bloodhunter's Flank (PHR:T): A tier-scaling untyped damage bonus when flanking a bloodied enemy for both you and any allies involved in the flanking. Great for finishing off your target.


Icy Clutch of Stygia (PHR:T): Considering your highly spammable save-ends ongoing damage E-encounter power, there's no way you're passing up this tier-scaling + CHA mod amount of free damage when the enemy saves against ongoing damage. And, happy coincidences, this zap of damage happens to be cold, which is exactly what your Dread Smite deals, which means yet another instance in which Permafrost's cheap bonus gets applied to Dread Smite. Get the picture? And finally, remember that this one is triggered on ALL successful saves against ongoing damage, so if you can mix different types of ongoing damage on a hit it can get really, really nasty.


Imperious Majesty (D 381): Charisma determines initiative instead of DEX. Not an urgent pick like it is for your goody-good Defender counterparts, but still awesome if you can fit it in.


Wrath of the Crimson Legion (D 381): The cornerstone of the CHA-based Tiefling Blackguard, making their MBAs fully CHA-based, attack, damage and all. Even if you're not going that route, this is still awesome if you're looking to shoulder the Defender burden some, as this feat also replaces Infernal Wrath with Paladin's Wrath, which is a close burst 5 mass-DS power.


Paragon Tier


Dispater's Iron Discipline (PHR:T): CHA-modifier bonus to your personal saves against the three heavy hitters (daze, stun, dominate). Without question, an auto-pick. And the synergy with the Hero's Poise/Superior Will combo is absolutely delicious.


Mammon's Theft of Health (PHR:T): How appropriate for your class' selfish flavor. Not a feat for everyone, but worth mentioning because Tieflings can go fully CHA-based, and incidentally one of their premier choices for a PP is Questing Knight, which grants them a free-action second wind when bloodied. Steal another surge from an ally and you can be back up close to full health just like that.


Secrets of Belial (PHR:T): Swiping a utility power from any class you don't belong to, up to the level of the power you traded, can be amazing. Note that there's nothing stopping you from trading in your fixed utilities at Lv. 2 and Lv. 22 with this feat, so if you see something at those levels you want, go for it.


Warforged

Heroic Tier


Warforged Tactics (EPG): Consider immediately after the Expertise feats. An extra +1 to attack an enemy next to an ally in melee, which happens as often as flanks happen and more (read: a whole hell of a lot).


Eberron Dragonmark feats

Mark of Storm (EPG): Slide an enemy a square every time you hit with a Thunder or Lightning power. A Lightning Weapon or Power of the Storm is going to make this one sing, plus your class itself has some encounter and daily powers with those keywords.

Rise of the Tainted Ones: Paragon Paths


To be blunt, PPs are really pretty slim pickings for you. The vast majority of the O-Paladin PPs, even some of the ones that are considered amazing on your parent class, either require features you don't have or are otherwise very suboptimal in your employ. That said, you're not completely in the dark. Depending on your Vice, the default PP Grim Blackguard can be a solid choice, and Gray Guard can also work out fairly nicely. CHA-Blackguards tend to favor Questing Knight if nothing else works out, or Champion of Corellon if they worship that deity. If you're in the right setting, can do some convincing to the DM and/or set your character up right, Heartwarder and Morninglord are also fine choices. If all else fails, racial PPs can be a good option (particularly for Dragonborn and Humans), and there's always taking PPs from a multiclass (MC Fighter, in particular, has some great ones for you).


Paladin/Blackguard PPs

Astral Weapon (PHB): Strength-based O-Paladins don't even like this one most of the time.


Champion of Corellon (DP): A solid option for CHA-Blackguards. (STR-Blackguards will probably spread themselves too thin.) Full movement in plate saves a feat on Heavy Armor Agility, and CHA-Blackguards are more likely to be able to get enough of a DEX investment for Superior Defense to boost their AC. The CHA-based powers are decent, too.


Champion of Order (PHB): Without a consistent at-will sustainable mark like the O-Paladin's Divine Challenge, the heart and soul of this PP, Certain Justice, is of no use to you. And In Defense of Order, the other key feature, also only works with DC. A non-option for you.


Demonslayer (DP): Just feeble all around.


Dragonslayer (DP): Dragonslayer's Challenge, the hallmark of this PP, is only really worth it with the O-Paladin's Divine Challenge. The powers are actually pretty good, but not enough to salvage it for CHA-based Blackguards.


Faithful Shield (DP): One of its features requires a power you don't have (Lay on Hands), and none of the rest is relevant to your Striker role.


Fortune Blessed (D 384): Requires you to worship Avandra. An interesting, and pretty solid path, with its luck tokens mechanic that can boost bad rolls or even let you reroll d20s and keep your better result. The encounter power is an immediate reaction counter when an enemy attacks you and gives you a luck token for free if you don't have any. The per-encounter utlity is HUGE damage reduction, even before you add any luck token effects, and the daily is also a solid debilitator.


Gray Guard (DP): Gray Guard Vigilance is very handy for Humans with Ardent Strike, or for those of you packing a couple mass-DS powers, if you're going to fight a lot at night or in dark places. You also get training in the all-important Perception skill. Debilitating Smite is a solid daze and slow encounter power. An encounter you didn't use the utility Relentless Justice is an encounter where Debilitating Smite hit its mark. You can't really do much with the daily power since you don't have Lay on Hands or its variants, but this is still a very solid option for you.


Grim Blackguard (HoS): The tailor-made Blackguard PP, with the powers and the action point feature dependent on which Vice you selected. The common features are pretty good: A flat +2 untyped bonus to saves at Lv. 11 (more against fear) and the Lv. 16 feature Dark Blessing gives you a random perk from a list of four benefits (all of them nice) when an enemy next to you drops dead.


Vice specifics

Domination: The encounter power is an AoE that can load up that THP buffer and weakens enemies on hit, making it more a control power, albeit a fair one. The daily utility makes the party finish bloodied foes faster with the attack bonus against them. And the daily inflicts some rather hefty ongoing psychic damage that a party in the right position can keep going with no saves allowed. A decent, but not eye-popping suite, overall.


Fury: This vice gets an excellent encounter power perfect for a nova round, straight out of the box. Activated with a minor action, you can punish any enemy who hits you until the end of your next turn with a dazing opportunity action attack. If you have an attack that punishes the enemy for attacking an ally instead, or for shifting away (Battle Awareness, for example), you can catch one of those enemies in a sick Catch-22 for a very good chance at an extra attack. The daily utility gives a boost to the whole party's damage in a fight involving multiple enemies. And the daily is an interesting power that can basically serve as a low-grade domination/stun effect two-thirds of the time as long as the enemy doesn't save.



Hammer of Moradin (DP): Hammer-wielding Blackguards who (somehow) can justify worship Moradin might look at this one. Hammer Bond is a permanent +1 to attack with hammers, which is great. The powers are flavorful and decent, but not eyecatching.


Holy Conqueror (DP): Requires Ardent Vow, which you don't have.


Hospitaler (PHB): You can't use it.


Justiciar (PHB): A CHA-based Defender PP through and through, and not even quite as good as Questing Knight at that. Pass.


Knight of Celestia (MOTP): O-Paladins want nothing to do with this one. And you can't even use it to its fullest. That's all you need to know.


Knight of the Chalice (DP): Not impressive for O-Paladins, and since it works off Channel Divinity and marks, it's even less so for you.


Questing Knight (DP): A Defender PP pretty hardcore for the most part, but there is still a lot to like from this one, and it's pretty much the fallback option for all CHA-Blackguards who can't exploit anything else. The most relevant part to you comes at Lv. 16 when you get free-action second wind when bloodied, which is awesome for your survivability and action economy. The Lv. 11 bonus to Will against three of the more common anti-Will attack keywords is also pretty welcome. The encounter power, Strength of Ten, is actually an incredible mass-DS power and AoE attack that greatly expands your secondary Defender role if you want to keep it around; if not, there's always Reserve Maneuver.


Sainted General (D 390): Must multiclass (or hybrid) Warlord, but you can't put this one to any use at all, so that's moot.


Scion of Sacrifice (DP): Requires Ardent Vow, which you don't have.


Slayer of the Dead (DP): Overly-specialized paths are not for you.



Forgotten Realms PPs

Doomguide (FRPG): Must worship Kelemvor, and it's best if your Charisma is attack-caliber as well. It's features and powers are very effective against undead, but even when undead aren't involved, they're at least decent, and the daily power in particular, Kelemvor's Sword, is quite good. You wish more of the "specialized" paths were like this one. Not a bad choice in any case.


Eartheart Defender (FRPG): For Dwarves, and while it's probably more suited for Defenders, it's not completely wasted on you. Heart of Earth is an attack bonus after using that minor-action second wind. Gain Heart is a good power to pull out when bloodied, healing you significantly. And the daily, Earthsurge, is an excellent sticky power, a good-sized zone that moves with you and slows enemies in it.


Heartwarder (FRPG): A good pick if you somehow worship Sune and have attack-caliber Charisma and an implement. The most relevant part of this PP to your purposes is Siren Voice, which is per-encounter domination right from the start of Paragon Tier. In case you're wondering what to do with it afterwards, the most ideal thing is to have the enemy charge one of its buddies through a gauntlet of your allies' OAs. True, the enemy will snap out of it afterwards, but only after he committed to his charge. The rest of the features and powers are mostly healing and Defender-oriented, but are quite fine at that.


Morninglord (FRPG): If you can convince your DM of a valid reason to worship Lawful Good Amaunator, this PP is as awesome for you as it is for every other Divine class. Burning Radiance forcing radiant vulnerability after every single radiant attack (including those from a Radiant Weapon, or Virtuous Strike for CHA-based Humans) is really incredible. The other features and the powers sure aren't bad, either, although they are implement-based and require your highest mental stat. Still, if all else fails and you can't use the awesome AoE encounter power Pure Glow to its fullest, there's always Reserve Maneuver.


Purple Dragon Knight (FRPG): More of a Defender/Leader path, and only really an average one at that.


Silverstar (FRPG): Pretty underwhelming through and through.


Steelsky Liberator (FRPG): For Dragonborn, Genasi, Half-Orcs and Humans, and it's geared toward fighting dragons. It's not very good otherwise, though.


Eberron PPs

Lyrandar Wind-Rider (EPG): For those with Mark of Storm. If you have the Storm domain or a Lightning Weapon and a high Charisma, you can take advantage of what this path has to offer, which is quite a bit, actually. Storm Adept is a +1 to attack rolls with Thunder and Lightning powers, which is great. Feather's Touch can come in handy, and the CHA-based (or CON, but that's not likely for you) powers are decent control effects. Not too bad.


Racial PPs

Dragonborn


Mithral Arm (D 385): Basically the Dragonborn version of the Human's Adroit Explorer, which has simply impressive potential. The per-encounter utility is also a nice survivability boost, and the daily is also great, letting you use an encounter power twice in a fight. See the feat entry for Reserve Maneuver above for recommendations on which encounter power to swipe.


Scion of Arkhosia (PHB2): If you like the idea of growing wings and flying everywhere this one's for you. The attack powers, variations of your breath, aren't anything special, though.


Dwarf


Firstborn of Moradin (PHB2): Decent, not great, features. The encounter power Receive the Charge is quite good, but the other powers are only average.


Goliath


Stoneblessed (PHB2): Unusual Reach is awesome, and the utility Summit Advantage even lets you take proper advantage of it for a round every encounter. The rest is pretty solid, too.


Half-Orc


Bloodfury Savage (PHB2): Savage Resilience is nice, and the powers are geared toward doing more and more damage. Not too bad, but not all that special.


Lightning Blitzer (D 386): Armored Swiftness is nice to eliminate the speed penalty for heavy armor. The daily is a nice blinder, too, but the rest of it is pretty avarage.


Human


Adroit Explorer (PHB2): A Lv. 7 or lower O-Paladin encounter power of your choice (see the Reserve Maneuver feat entry above for recommendations), a great action point ability, start the day with two action points, and an easily triggered immediate reaction daily using your encounter power of choice. Awesome.


Warforged


Warforged Juggernaut (EPG): You might like this if you're particularly charge-oriented. The daily stance is very good, sort of a Fighter's Unyielding Avalanche with resistance to forced movement.


 


Absolute Power of the Tainted Ones:

Epic Destinies


NOTE: The Blackguard can't take any of the Avatar EDs from Divine Power (not without multiclassing, anyway), since those require Divinity feats (and, by extension, Channel Divinity). So those won't be listed in this section.


General/Blackguard EDs

Dead God Avatar (D 390): Interesting option if worshipping a dead deity, and pretty solid all around. Immunity to charm and bonus to Wisdom and Charisma are decent, and the capstone Sacrifice to recover a daily power or encounter power is also appealing.


Deadly Trickster (PHB): If you got Bluff training somehow, you might go for this. Solid features, albeit somewhat limited in use. Epic Trick is an awesome utility, though.


Demigod/Chosen (PHB/FRPG/DP): Divine Miracle, that infamous capstone, finally got toned down so that now it only recovers one encounter power in a fight. That's still pretty good, though, especially combined with all the other ways to recover encounter powers. And the +2 to two stats of your choice, a solid near-death recovery mechanic and access to some great utilities still make this one great. Just no longer overpowering. The default Demigod's Divine Regeneration is an insane regeneration spell. The Chosen variants, tied to specific deities, differ from the Demigod via the utility power.


Core Chosen Utility Powers

Freedom is Life (Avandra) (DP): +10 to saves for the party for a turn. Rather situational.


Sheltering Wings (Bahamut) (DP): Basically a Cure Serious Wounds for you and an ally. Not bad.


High Arcana (Corellon) (DP): Everyone in the party, including you, can choose +2 power bonus with implement attacks or +4 bonus to NADs at the start of every turn for the whole encounter. Very solid. Note for Forgotten Realms: This is Corellon's second attempt at his Chosen power, and this version is hands-down the better one.


Anthem of Progress (Erathis) (DP): 16-20 crits on at-will attacks for the whole party. Nice. Even better if you have some crit fishermen aboard.


Unerring Foreknowledge (Ioun) (DP): Grant allies extra standard actions, using your minor action, every round until you've cycled through all your allies. Very, very nice.


Test of Strength (Kord) (DP): Work on your DPR and you can do some special things with this one.


Wild Surge (Melora) (DP): 18-20 crits on daily attacks. Very underwhelming, especially compared to what Erathis offers.


Forge of Creation (Moradin) (FRPG/DP): You and any allies who hit in the next round restore second winds, a healing surge and a daily item power. Solid. Note for Forgotten Realms: The FRPG and DP versions of this power are identical.


Celestial Balance (Pelor) (DP): Pretty underwhelming.


Death is Nigh (Raven Queen) (DP): +2 untyped bonus to attacks if someone has failed a death save in the encounter. Not a bad one to keep around.


Horns of the Moon (Sehanine) (DP): Buff any ally's attack and strip any enemy's defenses every turn for the whole encounter. This one is awesome.


Forgotten Realms Chosen Utility Powers (FRPG)

Renewing Dawn (Amaunator): Fairly hefty free radiant damage against a nearby foe when you or an ally use a healing surge in any way. Turns things you wouldn't even dream of (Virtue, etc.) into damage dealers. Sustain this effect with minor actions. If you worship Amaunator, odds are you're a Morninglord, and this utility can really help take advantage of the vulnerability that paragon path creates.


Horn of Life (Chauntea): Healing surge trigger, followed by 20 regeneration on the ally who needs it most any given round. The regeneration switches targets based on need at the start of your turns. A fantastic party heal.


True Death (Kelemvor): Anti-undead power, so it's situational. Good for that type of fight, at least.


Supreme Knowledge (Oghma): You're likely not good enough at knowledge skills to use this effectively.


Waxing Fortune (Selune): The chance of the situation that would make the bonus to attacks actually worth a damn happening is slim to none.


Divine Regeneration (Silvanus): Well, this looks familiar. No complaints, though, obviously.


Sune's Censure (Sune): Spread vulnerabilities from one enemy to another. This one can even make normally temporary vulnerabilities last the whole encounter. Or, if all else fails, force vulnerability 5 all. This one's nice.


Tempus's Glare (Tempus): This one can really mess with a Challenged or Sanctioned enemy.


Battle Judgment (Torm): Unless you killed a foe with a high-damage single-hit daily, this one's not going to heal much more, if not less, than a healing surge. Just awful.


Destined Scion (E:HFK): +2 to two stats of your choice, an extra +1 to attack rolls on top of that (perfect for a Striker) and a +2 untyped bonus to saves. A excellent, no-nonsense ED. The utilities won't dazzle you, but they're handy.


Eternal Seeker (PHB): This one has come a long way, and it has infinite room to grow. It's about as good as you can get without crossing the line into abuse.


Exalted Angel (DP): Flavorful destiny, and good overall if you like a lot of flying. However, the Lv. 24 death-triggered feature is not worth it; save-ends blinding may be good by itself normally, but NOT when it removes you from the fight.


Harbinger of Doom (PHB2): Shield of Ill Fortune is about the only remotely attractive thing in this destiny.


Indomitable Champion (E:HFL): +2 to two stats of your choice, extra hit points and extra NADs are as good a package as it gets. The utilities aren't completely earth-shattering, but they're handy when stuff happens. Another extremely solid, no-nonsense ED.


Keybearer (D 372): Traveler's Tricks is nice, as is the capstone that gives you phasing. Reality Distortion, on the other hand, kills this one. It would be pretty awesome if it weren't for the fact that it affects your allies as well as your enemies.


Legendary Sovereign (MP2): You get a +2 to Charisma to start off. If you picked the right paragon path, Sword of Kings, the capstone that lets you spam a weapon-based encounter power as long as you keep scoring at least one hit with it, will be very effective. Choose an AoE or, if you ever get one, a focus-fire multiattack. Great Captain is devastating when a crit happens, and the utility, Sword of the Sovereign, rounds it off by providing insane bonuses to attack rolls for allies' at-will and basic attacks (equal to your CHA-mod). This is Not My Fate is also a better recovery ability than Divine Recovery.


Planeshaper (D 372): Using an encounter power twice is great, as is removing an enemy from the fight for a turn on a crit. Shape Reality, the capstone, adds a whole lot of Controller to your arsenal. Can't go wrong with this one.


Punisher of the Gods (D 372/DA 09): Seems to have stabilized, but its current form, while good against one foe per encounter, is still a shadow of its former selves. Yes, that plural was intentional.


Raven Knight (D 380): Bonused to speed and going insubstantial and phasing on a charge are pretty good. The ability bonuses and the Necrotic utility aren't the best, though, but overall, you could do worse.


Revered One (PHB2): Its one redeeming feature only works with Channel Divinity, which you don't have.


Saint (DP): Great for Defender Paladins, particularly those geared toward healing, but you'll probably want to choose something more offensively oriented. Still, those sweet defense bonuses and immunity to domination do count for something.


Racial EDs

Avatar of Io (PHR:D): Bonuses to both STR and CHA, the Blackguard's two most important stats, a fully versatile breath weapon, and the ability to fly with hover. Pretty decent, even if the capstone isn't the best.


Forgotten Realms EDs

Harper of Legend (D 367): An extra encounter power (from the O-Paladin's arsenal or even a multiclass if applicable) and extra action points. Not bad at all. Spectral Harpist is interesting and a decent death-triggered capstone. Tymora Smiles is pretty weak, though.


Eberron EDs

Champion of Prophecy (EPG): +2 to a physical and a mental stat of your choice, great capstone that lets you recover dailies per milestone instead of action points, and Prophetic Certainty is a solid per-encounter utility.


Dispossessed Champion (EPG): Solid utility power (resist 10 to nearby allies), but the rest is pretty mediocre.


Mourning Savior (EPG): Very setting specific here, but the benefits in that respect are huge. Memory of Cyre is a great save-ends debuff whenever you use an action point. And speaking of action points, the capstone Cyran Vengeance opens up some nice abuse with those. Awesome.


Sublime Flame (EPG): You can't say no to an extra daily per day for worshiping the Silver Flame. The rest is pretty solid, too.

Tainted Further: Multiclassing



A note: If you see powers corresponding to fixed utility and daily levels for the Blackguards, it's OK. Power swapping at those levels is apparently still legal, as it's not the same as retraining.


Generally, your power-swapping will be for the intent to improve your nova capabilities. Most of the attack powers mentioned as ripe for the plucking will be powers that serve this vital part of the Striker role. Most of the paragon paths and epic destinies that are mentioned will be those that significantly contribute to your damage output as well. Tieflings who take Secrets of Belial may also want to look in this section.


 


General Power Source Options

Arcane classes


Key feats

Heroic Tier


Arcane Implement Proficiency (AP): This feat has a newfound purpose in a post-Essentials world, giving you the ability to use your sword for all your implement attacks. That's a huge asset. And since most of you are too dumb to enter Swordmage multiclassing (not that it's your best option, anyway), you take this.


White Lotus Enervation (D 374): -1 debuff to a defense targeted by an arcane at-will. Pretty neat bonus to your favorite arcane at-will if you got one, including an Arcana Virtuous Strike.


White Lotus Hindrance (D 374): Hit them with your Arcana Virtuous Strike or Eldritch Strike, and you create difficult terrain in all squares next to you. Not bad in itself, but the bigger prize lies in Paragon Tier.


White Lotus Riposte (D 374): The automatic damage from this feat when an enemy you hit with an Arcana Virtuous Strike or Eldritch Strike decides to attack you is nothing to sneeze at. It also opens up something even better in Paragon Tier.


Paragon Tier


Arcane Admixture (AP): Add another type of damage keyword to an Arcane power, which opens up a whole new world of feat synergies. Best spent on an at-will, making this most useful for Half-Elves with Eldritch Strike.


White Lotus Master Hindrance (D 374): This is why you took Hindrance. Now when you hit with an arcane at-will, you create the difficult terrain around all your allies as well, making them more difficult for melee enemies to approach. And it also makes flanks VERY easy to maintain, since enemies won't be able to shift into any difficult terrain surrounding you and your partners.


White Lotus Master Riposte (D 374): Repeating an arcane at-will (including an Arcana Virtuous Strike) as an immediate action when an enemy attacks you is an awesome thing to have for a Striker.


Epic Tier


Quickened Spellcasting (AP): Half-Elves with Eldritch Strike get a minor-action use of their at-will per encounter, allowing for a decent mini-nova on that turn, at the very least.


Key epic destinies

Sage of Ages (AP): Keeper's Prescience at Lv. 24 is incredible, basically allowing you to cover for a possible d20 failure every turn. That one makes for one of the best Seeking Destiny capstones for an Eternal Seeker there is. You won't likely make good use of this destiny's other key benefit, the utility, though.


 


Divine classes (others)


Entry feat

Divine Channeler (DP): Requires WIS 13 and training in Religion. This gives you the Channel Divinity class feature and a power from the class you chose to enter with this feat. You can only use it once a day, but of more importance is that this can open up Avatar EDs for you, and a couple of those are pretty good.


Key Avatar epic destinies (require Divine Channeler)

Avatar of Storm (DP): Geared toward those with the Storm domain or a Lightning Weapon. Requires Storm Sacrifice, and you get +2 bonuses to STR and CON, both important Blackguard stats. Stormhand is pretty nice, giving you the benefits of both Lightning and Thunder with all such attacks, and the capstone gives you flight. Solid and flavorful.


Avatar of War (DP): Requires Path of War. +2 to STR and CHA, the Blackguard's two most important stats, is a great start. Master of the Battlefield at Lv. 21 means you never give up combat advantage. And the utility, Rouse Conflict, adds some party enabling to your arsenal with a devastating minor-action nova trigger. The Lv. 24 feature related to the Path of War divinity power is only going to see play once per day, though, but the rest of this ED is so solid that it's still worth consideration.


 


Martial classes


Key feats

Heroic Tier


Resilience of Stone (MP2): For Dwarves to use their second wind as an immediate interrupt. Good deal.


Paragon Tier


Deft Blade (MP2): One of the many reasons light blades are a shockingly good choice for a Blackguard. Nailing Reflex with an MBA (or even an RBA of you throw a dagger, for example) is awesome.


Hammer Shock (MP2): Give your melee basic attacks with a hammer the Rattling keyword. Must be trained in Intimidate. Good one for hammer-users.


Impaling Spear (MP2) : Nail Reflex with an MBA from a spear. Practically a must if you're using anything from the Spear group (*cough*Gouge*hack*).


Lashing Flail (MP2) : A slide on a flail MBA is a great thing to have, especially for things like Deadly Draw and (if you MC-ed Fighter) Hindering Shield.


Paragon Tier, Goliath


Avalanche Reaver (MP2) : Woo, a push-and-follow effect whenever you charge. Opens up a lot of the forced movement exploits you know and love.


Epic Tier


Epic Recovery (MP): CON 19 required. If you have that and have a minor-action or less second wind, you definitely want this one.


Martial Mastery (MP): If you're multiclassing with something Martial, odds are good it might be for a paragon path with a multiattacking Lv. 11 encounter power so you can get a nova. If that's the case, consider this mandatory (and unless you're a Sohei, a higher priority than Divine Mastery, in fact).


Martial Resolve (MP): Saves at both the start and end of your turns against some of the more debilitating conditions, including some Superior Will doesn't cover. Very nice. Must have WIS 15.


Epic Tier, Dwarf


Stoneheart Warrior (MP): Must have CON 17. Makes your second wind a free action, which is awesome.


Key epic destinies

Adamantine Soldier (MP): Damage resistance and ignoring speed and check penalties in plate are the highlights of this solid destiny. Must multiclass into Fighter or Warlord.


 


Primal classes


Key feats

Heroic Tier


Longtooth Spirit Shifter (PrP, Longtooth Shifter): Extra regen on your Longtooth Shifting power? Awesome.


Reckless Charge (PrP): An extra +1 to charge attacks. Great, considering charging is still the way to go for most of you in DPR terms. Who cares about the -2 to AC?


Key epic destinies

Reincarnate Champion (PrP): Well, well, well, this one's a lot of fun. Accessing nice things like Fey Step, Elven Accuracy and Memory of a Thousand Lifetimes no matter what race you are is lovely indeed. 


 


Specific Classes

Avenger


The entry feats are the most attractive part of this multiclassing option, giving you some attack rerolls.


Entry feats

Disciple of Divine Wrath (PHB2): Trains Religion, and this Oath of Enmity last for two rounds' worth of attacks. Requires WIS 13.


Hero of Faith (DP): You probably won't have thee WIS 15 to qualify, and aside from that it's inferior to Disciple of Divine Wrath.


 


Barbarian


An excellent choice for extra damage output. Some of the Rages are well worth swiping with Adept Power and greatly help your DPR for a fight, if not your outright nova potential.


Entry feats

Berserker's Fury (PHB2): Training in any one of the Barbarian's class skills (go for Perception or Athletics). Also gives you a daily free action damage buff that lasts a whole encounter. Requires STR 13 and CON 13, easily done.


Key feats

Rampant Fury (PHB2): A Half-Elf with Howling Strike would do very well to pick this one up for the extra attack on a crit. Note that it's not compatible with Dread Smite at the moment, though.


Key powers

Lv. 15 Daily


Thunderfury Rage (PHB2): Punish attacks against you with an immediate reaction. Excellent.


Lv. 29 Daily


World Serpent Rage (PHB2): 7[W] activation attack that you can charge with, and afterwards you get to punish shifts with free-action MBAs left and right, or if the enemy decides to man up and face you, you deal a substantial amount of extra damage. Awesome.



Key paragon paths

Winter Fury (PrP): The ability to go full Permafrost regardless of weapon is very nice, as are the various chances the other features and powers grant to immobilize foes next to you.



 


Bard


A surprisingly grand option for you. Opens up the nifty White Lotus line, since Bard is Arcane, and some of the utility powers here are a big boost to your nova potential, believe it or not.


Entry feats

Bardic Dilletante (PHB2): Training in any skill on the Bard's extensive list (go for Perception). Also comes with a daily use of Majestic Word; you won't be using it too often, but it's there. Requires CHA 13.


Bardic Ritualist (AP): You just won't be smart enough for it.


Key powers

Lv. 16 Utility


Haste (PHB2): Trade a minor for a standard once per day, which is good to have for that big nova.


Lv. 22 Utility


Climactic Chord (AP): This daily is a minor-action party nova trigger that's perfect with your high Charisma. Who cares if the nova isn't all on you? A nova is a nova, and this power is great for bringing the pain by however many allies' hands it's done.


Note of Aggression (AP): Minor-action trigger of a free-action MBA or a charge for either you or an ally every encounter is great to have. Too bad if you use it for yourself, Dread Smite is off-limits for your turn, but an extra attack is more damaging than that still.


Key class feats

Epic Tier


Multiclass Mastery (AP): Grants you the benefits of two multiclass feats. Note that this does NOT allow you to take entry feats for more than one class. Only a real Bard can do that. What this does allow is getting the benefits of two power swap feats for the price of one, so if you currently have more than one power swap feat, you can retrain one of them out for something else.


 


Fighter


Quite possibly the best overall MC option for Blackguards. You get literally just about everything here. Some important Blackguard build concepts even demand that you enter this MC (namely if you're using polearms, a gouge or a shield). One particular entry feat is incredible all by itself. Some of the PPs are some of your best options, period, some of the utilities make for awesome DPR boosts, and finally several of the daily powers here can give you serious ammo for a nova. You can never go wrong taking this MC. 


Entry feats

Battle Awareness (MP): The per-encounter immediate interrupt attack punishes a shift or any instance when the enemy attack someone other than you. Combine with sources of retaliation strikes (the Fury Vice's Grim Blackguard encounter power is one out of the box, and there are several others outside the box), and you'll be in business for a little guaranteed spike damage one round out of every fight. You also get training in any Fighter skill. Without question the Fighter entry feat of choice, as long as you can afford the STR 13 and WIS 13.


Student of the Sword (PHB): The original. And pretty inadequate these days, but if you can't afford the WIS for Battle Awareness, this is about your only other recourse. If you ever do get up to WIS 13, promptly retrain this for Battle Awareness.


Wrathful Warrior (MP2): Can be useful for Domination, since it doesn't matter how many THPs you have to activate your extra damage, as long as you have at least 1. Requires STR 13 or CON 13. I'd probably still retrain it for Battle Awareness as soon as I qualify, though.


Key class feats

Heroic Tier


Polearm Momentum (MP): If you have ways of getting a 2-square slide on all your polearm attacks (start with Eldritch Strike or Mark of Storm and enhance your forced movement with items from there), then you get to knock prone as you please, which is awesome. Especially if you're taking Kulkor Arms Master. DEX 15 and WIS 15 required, but the returns on that investment can be gargantuan.


Surprising Charge (MP): I simply would never make a Gouge-wielding Blackguard (or Gouge-wielding anything, for that matter) without it. That extra 1[W] damage on a charge against a CA-wielding foe is huge. It's also a necessity if you're using light blades. DEX 17 required.


Paragon Tier


Hindering Shield (MP): A slow effect until the start of your next turn whenever your attack deals forced movement is great. Eldritch Strike, Lashing Flail, Mark of Storm and Avalanche Reaver all work. If you're using a hammer, you can even get an at-will daze via this feat and another one in Epic. This feat's only weakness is that since the slowing lasts until the start of your next turn, it's not an avenue toward exploiting World Serpent's Grasp and Kulkor Arms Master.


Striking Resurgence (MP2): Makes second wind usage on yourself a much better thing to do for the 95% of you who can only do it as a standard action. Dwarves and Questing Knights have no use for it.


Epic Tier


Overwhelming Impact (MP2): Can potentially give you at-will dazing if you use a hammer. That alone makes this feat amazing. The most common ways for you to get to this are Hindering Shield + Eldritch Strike, Mark of Storm or Avalanche Reaver.


Key powers

Lv. 5 Daily


Bedeviling Assault (MP): Tagging on free-action MBAs for the rest of the encounter whenever your allies hit the target of this is positively nasty. Those MBAs are automatically made with CA, too, so your class' extra damage mechanic will kick in every time here.


Lv. 19 Daily


Devastation's Wake (PHB): Double-taps on everyone in a close burst 1 around you? Yeah, that's really good.


Lv. 22 Utility


Martial Supremacy (D 382): A per-encounter stance that lets you reroll your MBA attack rolls is a huge boost to your DPR and ensures that everything will die quickly.


Lv. 29 Daily


Catastrophic Flurry (MP): Three attacks of focus fire, with extra damage tacked on if multiple ones hit. Plus each attack deals half-damage on miss. Great one for a nova.


Key paragon paths

Dreadnought (MP): A double-attacking encounter power straight out of the box in Inexorable Advance, an increase in your maximum HPs and a ton of damage resistance sources all make for a premier choice for Blackguards of all stripes.


Gladiator Champion (DSCS): The Dark Sun theme isn't required if you MC Fighter, so you're good to go in any setting for this awesome PP that enhances your hard control greatly. Especially its Lv. 16 feature, which prohibits enemies from shifting away from you, outright. That can be extremely useful for your purposes if you have sources of retaliation attacks.


Kensei (PHB): +1 to attack and +4 to damage with your chosen weapon is a great no-nonsense boost for your overall damage output. The powers aren't so hot, but that's why Reserve Maneuver exists.


Shock Trooper (MP): Requires dual-wielding shortswords for the best use from this PP, but that triple-attacking encounter power alone is an eye-popper. If you're using light blades you're going to have at least some DEX for the Quicker Death feature to add some damage. The extra die size on shortswords is also nice. Makes for a great choice on an unorthodox brand of Blackguard.


 

Ranger


Some solid entry feats, including one that lets you dual-wield one-handed weapons straight up. Since this class is the king of novas, it's no surprise that there are some real beauties here for daily powers, even if many of them require dual-wielding. The one that doesn't deserves special recognition.


Entry feats

Two-Blade Warrior (MP): If you dual-wield, you'll want this one if your DEX is high enough (13). Also trains a Ranger skill (go Perception).


Warrior of the Wild (PHB): Training in a Ranger skill (go Perception), and a Hunter's Quarry that can last two rounds. Go with this one if you don't dual-wield, or don't have the DEX to qualify for Two-Blade Warrior.


Key powers

Lv. 9 Daily, All


Attacks on the Run (PHB): Two-attack focus-fire flurry, and you don't have to dual-wield for it. Plus you get full movement for free with it. Beautiful.


Lv. 15 Daily, Dual-Wield


Blade Cascade (PHB): Needs no introduction. Just make sure you're set up for nigh-guaranteed success before using it.


Lv. 19 Daily, Dual-Wield


Cruel Cage of Steel (PHB): 3 attacks with a +2 bonus each to hit and can inflict a cocktail of status effects. If you just can't be bothered to wait and maneuver for proper Blade Cascade setup, you might prefer this one as your Adept Power, instead.


 


Sorcerer


One entry feat is pretty good, and you might see some utilities you like. A good choice for taking advantage of Arcane feats down the road.


Entry feats

Arcane Prodigy (PHB2): Just plain inferior to Soul of Sorcery.


Soul of Sorcery (AP): The preferred entry feat. Permanent resistance 5 to an element is a solid perk. Need STR 13 and CHA 13.



Warlord


You have a lot to love here if you want to expand your Leader capabilities, including some great utilities. You're going to focus far more on the enabling aspect of the Leader task than any other. You're all about damage, and again, a nova's a nova regardless of whether it's all on you, or whether you get your allies in on the act. Also, one entry feat in particular is quite amazing.


Entry feats

Bravura Leader (MP2): Typically, you should instead go with Resourceful Leader, which gives allies a damage bonus almost as good as this one, but doesn't make the ally give up combat advantage for it. Of course, you could always take this along with Resourceful Leader, and they do stack ...


Resourceful Leader (MP2): The Warlord multiclass feat to rule them all. Requires either CHA 13 or INT 13. Skill training from the Warlord list, plus an ally that spends an action point either gets a nice damage bonus if he hits with his attack, or a solid amount of THPs if he misses. Like the other Warlord MC feats from Martial Power 2, these benefits aren't limited to once per encounter. Simply impressive.


Key powers

Lv. 1 Daily


Lamb to the Slaughter (D 381): A beatdown power. Awesome if your party is melee-heavy.


Lv. 10 Utility


Instant Planning (MP): Likely, you'll want to use this when your allies are in position to tee off on one enemy. A high Charisma will grant a huge power bonus to the whole party's attack rolls to set up certain mayhem that round.


Lv. 15 Daily


War Master's Assault (MP): A high CHA with this power leads to a near-certain full-party beatdown of an unfortunate foe.


Lv. 22 Utility


Rush of Battle (MP): Minor-action basic attacks for all your allies for a round a day. Fun, fun times.


Lv. 25 Daily


Relentless Assault (PHB): Warlords love it, and you will, too. The important part of this happens hit or miss; a full-party beatdown once per any given round if anyone scores a crit. True story: Before errata the beatdown happened on every single crit.


Key epic destinies

Warmaster (MP): An awesome Leader destiny that grants extra party actions with your action points, and the capstone lets you spend as many as you want. Spring the Trap is the ultimate beatdown utility.

Armory of the Tainted Ones: Items


Just remember that your top priority in every 5-level interval should be to keep your armor, weapon (and implement if you use one) and neck item up to date. Plan it right and you'll still have plenty of room for other nice things.


Armor

Lv. 2+


Dwarven (PHB): Bonus to Endurance as a property, and a free surge-value heal per day. Good value.


Screaming (AV): Bonus to Intimidate as a property, along with a per-encounter attack debuff from range. Nice.


Veteran's (AV): Property gives you +1 to attack and all defenses on action point use. This one used to be a lot more powerful, but even now it's still pretty solid.


Lv. 3+


Heartening (AV): Dwarves and Questing Knights will look at this one for its property granting a healthy amount of THPs.


Lifegiving (AV): Necrotic resistance with a daily last-resort healing power. Not bad.


Meliorating (AV): Better defense every time you reach a milestone in the day. Awesome, especially if you don't have the Dexterity to take full advantage of Agile Armor. And this is in a lower pricing bracket than that one.


Versatile (AV): At-will lets you sacrifice a point of AC to remove speed and skill penalties. Can be handy, at least until you either take Heavy Armor Agility or get access to plate that lets you ignore such penalties at no cost.


Lv. 4+


Armor of Durability (AV): Property grants bonus to personal healing surge use. Good one.


Black Iron (PHB): Resistance properties against two of the more common damage types used by enemies (fire and necrotic). Solid.


Reinforcing (AV): Property grants an +1 item bonus to all defenses when you get hit in melee for the round after. The potential isn't as high as Meliorating, but it's more consistent. Another good choice if you can't take full advantage of Agile.


Salubrious (AV): This one is outstanding if you get enough sources of regeneration at some point in your career. Late Paragon and Epic are where this one is likely to really shine. Yet another good one for those who can't use Agile to its fullest.


Verve (AV): The property means you don't die as easily. Solid.


Lv. 5+


Agile (AV): A trap ... until you close in on Lv. 30, then it becomes awesome if you have any sort of DEX modifier. At that point there are no other masterwork armors a level or two above to grab your immediate attention.


Battleforged (PHB): Stronger second wind when bloodied. Not bad for a Dwarf or Questing Knight.


Shared Suffering (AV): Encounter power makes an enemy pay for inflicting you with ongoing damage. Not bad.


Lv. 8+


Bloodiron (AV): +2 item bonus to AC against a target you thump for a round. Nice.


Lv. 11+


Dragonrider (D 365): If you get a Dragon mount in Epic Tier, all of a sudden this scale armor becomes amazing. Have your Dragon wear Impenetrable Barding and some huge resistance to all damage for you is there for the taking.


Lv. 13+


Coral (AV): Worth a look if your campaign involves a lot of water travel.


Lv. 20+


Spectral Plate (AV2): Ignore speed and check penalties in this plate, along with a daily move action power where you're insubstantial and phasing. Very solid.


Lv. 24+


Soulwarding (AV): Resist two common enemy damage types (necrotic and psychic) and protection against attacks that make you lose healing surges. Nice.


Weapons

Lv. 2+


Defensive (E:HFL): Dwarves and Questing Knights will appreciate this one for the extra defense. Being a common item helps, too, if that matters.


Vicious (PHB): The basic d12 per plus crit weapon. Decent.


Lv. 3+


Frost (PHB): Considering your class' penchant for picking up Lasting Frost, going full-time Permafrost isn't much more of an investment than what you had planned anyway. And it's still a top-tier damage option.


Inescapable (AV): Stacks bonuses to hit with every miss until you hit the enemy. Solid.


Vanguard (AV): Great if you charge.


Lv. 4+


Battlecrazed (AV): Good damage bonus when bloodied.


Rending (AV): Axe only; follow up a crit with a melee basic attack. Solid.


Sunblade (AV): A heavy blade with an at-will Radiant keyword and damage option. It can also shed a lot of light to negate concealment in dark places. Your first lightsaber if you're going Lucifer, and a solid option.


Vigilant Blade (D 381):The first of several weapons that serve as a combination of weapon and implement, which reduces your item dependency (and thus saves money). This heavy blade (or, curiously, light blade) lets you shed bright light at-will for dark places and night scenarios, and the per-encounter power that lets you switch places with an ally being attacked and set up combat advantage against the assailant is also nice.


Lv. 5+


Lightning (PHB): A flavorful, and finally viable option, thanks to nice things like Storm Sacrifice and (if you're in Eberron) Mark of Storm. Unlike Flaming, this one can be worth the cost.


Lv. 8+


Cunning (AV): If you're into dealing save-ends effects with weapons, you'll want to consider this weapon for the penalty to the first save against it inflicts. Good even after the errata.


Disrupting (DA 09): Can be a flail or hammer (or a mace, but you don't use those). Serves as a weapon/implement combo and is more effective against undead. Fair enough, but Crusader's is better.


Lv. 9+


Crusader's (AV): A hammer that serves as a weapon/implement combo. Half of the damage is radiant, which makes it very good for those who abuse radiant vulnerability.


Githyanki Silver (MOTP): Heavy blade only, and boy is this one nasty. Take the Psychic Lock feat and have fun.


Lullaby (AV): One of the very few daily-power-only weapons worth a look. In this case, it's because the daily is a Sleep power. Comes in hammer or flail.


Lv. 10+


Blackshroud (AV): Concealment when you off an enemy. Comes in axe or heavy blade. Not bad.


Lv. 12+


Jagged (AV): Crit deals heavy save-ends ongoing damage instead of extra damage die, and it crits on 19-20. Comes in axe or heavy blade. Nice.


Lv. 13+


Bloodiron (AV): Essentially doubles the crit damage dealt, and the d10 per plus figures makes that quite worthwhile.


Desiccating (AV): Cumulative weakening of Fortitude (save-ends) with every hit. Not bad against Brutes.


Farslayer (AV): At-will power lets you melee basic attack from 5 squares away. Can come in handy.


Withering (AV): Cumulative debuff of AC (save-ends) with every hit. This one is more all-purpose than Desiccating.


Lv. 15+


Radiant (AV): At-will Radiant keyword switch, just like the Sunblade. When the switch is on, it also deals an extra item bonus to damage, which by itself makes it superior to its far more flavorful counterpart. However, if you're wearing the Iron Armbands of Power, you can stick with the Sunblade, as item bonuses don't stack.


Lv. 19+


Blade of Bahamut (AV): If you can somehow justify worship Bahamut, this heavy blade is a weapon/implement combo and helps reduce your item dependency. Solid crits, d10 per plus, along with a CHA-based blast 5 attack power that heals your allies a bit.


Moradin's (AV): If you can somehow justify worship Moradin, this hammer is a weapon/implement combo and helps reduce your item dependency. It deals great crits, too, d12 per plus.


Lv. 25+


Brilliant Energy (AV): Like the Sunblade, a far more interesting and flavorful lightsaber than the technically superior Radiant Weapon. If you're wearing Iron Armbands of Power then the disparity disappears, and you get solid crit damage of d10s per plus and a very nice encounter power that lets you attack Reflex with an attack that would normally target AC.


Holy Avenger (PHB): This weapon, which can also be used as an implement, is great for CHA-based Humans with Virtuous Strike, giving that power some serious extra bite. The bonus damage on that power, and all other Radiant powers as well, applies to both weapon and implement usage. The daily is a +5 to all NADs for potentially the whole party for a turn when you need it. Comes in axe, hammer, or heavy blade. Keep in mind it's a rare item, though, if that matters.


Lv. 29


Sorrowsong Blade (E2 KotG): This heavy blade is like Githyanki Silver but even better, as all attacks with it deal half psychic damage, permanently. And now that damage types and keywords have been clarified, what this means is that not only does it work with Psychic Lock, but attacks with this weapon don't lose their original damage type, either. Major win.



Holy Symbols

Lv. 2+


Symbol of Power (PHB): -2 penalty to the enemy's first saving throw against a save-ends effect. Since those are mostly daily powers, and since that's mostly what you'll use a holy symbol for, this one's good.


Lv. 8+


Symbol of the Champion's Code (AV2): If you're a Human with Ardent Strike, or you have enough mass-DS powers per encounter to be a threat with those marks, this is a great symbol to take. Even if you never make any attacks with it, the bonus to DS damage is quite valuable. Even if your symbol is a plus or two below attack-caliber for your level, it will make a difference.



Neck

Lv. 2+


Amulet of Mental Resolve (AV): +2 item bonus to saves against charm, illusion and sleep. Good early on.


Amulet of Physical Resolve (AV): +2 item bonus to saves against weakening, slowing and immobilizing. Also good early.


Badge of the Berserker (PHB2) : No drawing OAs on charges. Perfect for charge optimization, which your class likes to do.


Lv. 4+


Cloak of Distortion (AV): Not really worth it in Heroic Tier, anymore. It does get a lot better later, though.


Lv. 5+


Amulet of Life (D 381): Encounter power lets you spend an additional healing surge on top of any power that lets you use one. Pretty good, if rather pricey.


Lv. 8+


Periapt of Recovery (AV): +2 bonus to death saves. Nice.


Lv. 15


Brooch of Vitalty (AV): Increase your max HPs. Simple, and awesome.


Torc of Power Preservation (AV): This can recharge an encounter power. That can be a very nice thing.


Lv. 25


Life Charm (AV): Also known as: You (almost) never die.


Arms (Bracers)

Lv. 6


Bracers of Mental Might (AV): CHA-based Blackguards who get their item bonuses to damage from elsewhere (Radiant or Subtle weapons, for example) might want to take this one so they can take one of the STR-based arsenal's better nova powers.


Iron Armbands of Power (AV) (6/16/26): If you don't have an item bonus to damage from anywhere else, this is your default arms slot item. Period.


Lv. 14


Counterstrike Guards (AV): If you got your item bonus to damage from somewhere else (such as a Radiant Weapon), this is a great item to take for its MBA payback from an enemy's miss.



Feet

Lv. 2


Acrobat Boots (PHB): Minor action to stand up from being prone. Good one early.


Boots of Adept Charging (AV): Shift after a charge. Nice.


Lv. 3


Catstep Boots (AV): Half-damage, land on your feet from a fall. Good for this tier.


Lv. 7


Boots of the Fencing Master (AV): +1 item bonus to AC and Reflex whenever you shift, and you get to shift 2 squares every encounter. Good one.


Rushing Cleats (AV): Increases the distance of your pushes and slides, which is important if you're building around those. Like Polearm Momentum builds.


Lv. 8


Boots of Quickness (AV) (8/18/28): Untyped bonus to your Reflex defense. There's a version of it at each tier. Reflex is likely to be your weakest defense.


Lv. 9


Boots of Eagerness (AV): Extra move action per encounter. Nice.


Lv. 12


Battlestrider Greaves (PHB): Essentially negates the speed penalty for plate. Not bad.


Dragonborn Greaves (AV): Extra defense and speed when bloodied. Nice.


Lv. 13


Winged Boots (PHB): Your first item that prevents fall damage completely. Also comes with a daily flight power.


Lv. 14


Oceanstrider Boots (AV): +1 item bonus to speed and you can walk and stand on water and other non-hazardous liquid surfaces. Very nice.


Lv. 18


Dimensional Stride Boots (AV): +1 untyped bonus to Reflex, with a per-encounter teleportation power. Good.


Phantom Chaussures (AV): Concealment for moving 3 or more squares. Awesome.


Lv. 24


Boots of Caiphon (AV2): +2 item bonus to Reflex, and you get to sacrifice a little damage in exchange for a nice-distance shift. That damage isn't nearly as much as you'd take from an OA, so a great deal all around.


Lv. 25


Airstriders (AV): You get to fly. Along with taking no damage from falls. Great.


Sandals of Avandra (AV): +2 item bonus to speed, and shift half your speed at-will. Awesome.


Lv. 28


Boots of Teleportation (AV): At-will teleportation. That should say it all.


Hands

Lv. 4


Gauntlets of Blood (AV) (4/14/24): A nice damage bonus against bloodied targets.


Lv. 6


Breaching Gauntlets (AV): Reduce some resistance against your attacks. Good for this point.


Lv. 9


Gloves of Storing (AV): Interesting, and handy at times.


Lv. 10


Strikebacks (AV): Per-encounter immediate reaction attack against an enemy who hit you. It's always a grand idea to have sources of easily triggered extra attacks on hand.


Lv. 11


Gloves of Ice (AV2) (11/21): Practically a must if you're playing with the Lasting Frost synergy.


Lv. 18


Gauntlets of Destruction (PHB): Makes all your attacks brutal 1. Great option if you're not already using a brutal weapon. Even worth a look if you are, as this puts the brutal 1 effect on all dice you roll for damage, period, not just those directly from your weapon.


Lv. 20


Many-Fingered Gloves (AV2): Wear an extra ring. Very beneficial.


Head

Lv. 4


Casque of Tactics (AV): Until you can comfortably afford a Helm of Battle, this will do.


Lv. 6


Horned Helm (PHB) (6/16/26): Extra d6s of damage on a charge attack. Yes, sir.


Lv. 8


Circlet of Indomitability (AV) (8/18/28): Untyped bonus to Will, and a version comes at each tier. As good as anything.


Coif of Mindiron (AV): Per-encounter prevention of daze if Will is attacked. Gets even better in later tiers, when it also prevents stuns and eventually domination.


Lv. 9


Helm of Battle (PHB): Item bonus to initiative for you and nearby allies. Nice.


Lv. 14


Goggles of Night (PHB): Darkvision is nice if you don't have it already.


Helm of Able Defense (AV2): +1 item bonus to Will and an extra +2 to all defenses until your first turn at minimum. Quite good.


Lv. 21


Essence of the Wisp (AV2): +2 item bonus to Will, and an at-will power that pulls enemies who dare use ranged attacks against you a couple squares as an immediate action. Can help you reach enemies who prefer to stay at range.


Eye of Discernment (AV): Practical immunity to blinding is the main draw here, and that's pretty major.


Lv. 22


Helm of Ghostly Defense (PHB): Necrotic resistance and per-encounter insubstantial. Nice.


Lv. 23


Eye of Awareness (AV): +2 to Will and +5 to initiative. Very good.



Rings

Lv. 13


Ring of Giants (D 378): Stronger crits, which is great. The daily power is only for Primal powers, but that's not the important part.


Lv. 15


Ring of Aquatic Ability (AV): A ring slot is where you're most likely to put swim speed/underwater breathing properties.


Ring of the Dragonborn Emperor (AV): Item bonus to damage on all close attacks. Including close bursts and blasts with your weapon. Note this is not redundant with Iron Armbands of Power since that item applies only to powers designated "melee."


Lv. 16


War Ring (AV): Stronger crits. Not as good as Ring of Giants, if you have to choose one, but still a good choice in addition.


Lv. 17


Ring of the Radiant Storm (AV2): If your main damage type is either Lightning or Radiant, you'll want to take a good look at this one. Rerolling damage and keeping the better result is a nice boost.


Lv. 21


Ring of Tenacious Will (AV): Uses Charisma to determine number of healing surges instead of Constitution. Practically a must.


Lv. 24


Ring of Regeneration (PHB): Item bonus to healing surge value as a property, and the daily, after a milestone, gives you regeneration 10 and gives you back a healing surge. Good.


Lv. 25


Gargoyle Ring (AV): Save against petrification, even when you are petrified. Nice.


Lv. 27


Ring of the Phoenix (AV): Solid fire resistance property, and a very nice self-resurrection daily power.


Shadow Band (AV): Concealment all the time. Great fun.


Lv. 29


Ring of Free Time (AV2): Resist 5 all constantly is awesome enough. Then there's the one extra minor action per encounter from this ring ... which turns into an extra minor action every single round after the first milestone. Incredible, since you tend to use your minor actions a lot. For certain builds, particularly those with sustain-minor powers, this could even be essential.


Waist

Lv. 2


Belt of Vigor (PHB) (2/12/22): Item bonus to healing surge value. Solid start.


Lv. 6


Cincture of the Dragon Spirit (AV): If you're allowed liberal use of the Intimidate skill in combat this could be handy.


Lv. 7


Belt of Sacrifice (PHB): Item bonus to nearby allies' healing surge value. Great property. Ignore the daily.


Rope of Slave Fighting (AV): Attack normally when prone. Nice. The Paragon Tier version cancels combat advantage when prone as well.


Lv. 8


Belt of Vim (AV) (8/18/28): Untyped Fortitude bonus. Comes in a version at each tier. Just a great all-purpose benefit.


Lv. 10


Diamond Cincture (AV2): Item bonus to Fortitude with the opportunity to spend more healing surges if you need to. Good one, for sure, but since you can easily pick up ways to use your own healing surges every encounter, it's not the be-all, end-all like it is for some other classes.


Lv. 21


Baldric of Valor (AV): Bonuses to attack, saves and defenses for action point usage. Nice.


Lv. 23


Belt of Vitality (AV): +2 untyped bonus to Fortitude, and once per day get back up when you make a death save. Very nice.


Lv. 25


Belt of Titan Strength (PHB): A huge buff to damage for a turn once per day when you really need to go nova with a multi-attack sequence. 


Mount

Lv. 1


Impenetrable Barding (AV) (1/11/21): Sweet, sweet damage resistance for your mount if you equip it with this.


Wonderous Items

Lv. 8


Jade Horse (D 393): Gives you a steed with the ability to charge without drawing OAs and a Trample that works on enemies of all sizes. Nice if you like being mounted but don't want to take the Celestial Mount, and even if you did that, this is a solid backup, indeed.


Lv. 9


Backlash Tattoo (AV2): Immediate reaction MBA when you get bloodied the first time every fight? Yes, please and thank you.



Dragonshard Augments (Eberron)

Lv. 2


Eberron Shard of Lightning (EPG) (2/12/22): The shard of choice for those who use Lightning Weapons, as well as Avatars of Storm.


Siberys Shard of Merciless Cold (EPG) (2/12/22): Lasting Frost users go straight for this one.


Lv. 3


Siberys Shard of Radiance (EPG) (3/13/23): Untyped bonus to Radiant damage rolls. You want this as soon as possible if you're going Lucifer. Paragon and Epic Tier versions available, too.

Manifestations of the Tainted: Sample Builds


Ardent Ravager

This Human takes Ardent Strike and builds around it for the perfect combination of high charging DPR and some single-target Defender capability on top. Like so many Blackguards, he favors cold damage. He also takes the Dreadnought PP for extra durability and a multi-attacking power for an encounter nova.

Race: Human
Vice: Fury
Theme: Guardian
Multiclass: Fighter
Paragon Path: Dreadnought
Epic Destiny: Destined Scion


Ability Scores
L1: STR 18, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 16
L4: STR 19, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 17
L8: STR 20, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 18
L11: STR 21, CON 13, DEX 11, INT 9, WIS 13, CHA 19
L14: STR 22, CON 13, DEX 11, INT 9, WIS 13, CHA 20
L18: STR 23, CON 13, DEX 11, INT 9, WIS 13, CHA 21
L21: STR 26, CON 14, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 24
L24: STR 27, CON 14, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 25
L28: STR 28, CON 14, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 26


At-Will Powers
L1: Ardent Strike
L1: Vengeance Strike
L1: Ferocious Strike


Encounter Power
L11: Inexhorable Advance


Daily Powers
L5: Blood of the Mighty
L9: Death Angel
L12: Bedeviling Assault (replaces Blood of the Mighty via Adept Power)
L20: Rampaging Bloodlust
L25: Exalted Retribution (replaces Death Angel)
L29: Catastrophic Flurry (replaces Avatar of Vice via Adept power)


Utility Powers
L2: Vice's Reward
L6: Wrath of the Gods
L10: Virtue
L12: Blood Iron
L16: Divine Aegis
L22: Rampaging Bloodlust
L26: Epic Recovery
L30: Undeniable Victory


Feats
L1: Weapon Proficiency (Fullblade)
L1: Cunning Stalker
L2: Heavy Blade Expertise
L4: Weapon Focus (Heavy Blade)
L6: Power of Strife
L8: Superior Will
L10: Student of the Sword
L11: Lasting Frost
L11: Wintertouched (retrained Cunning Stalker)
L12: Adept Power
L12: Battle Awareness (retrained Student of the Sword)
L14: Action Surge
L16: Rapid Assault
L18: Improved Defenses
L20: Heavy Armor Agility
L21: Martial Mastery
L22: Long Step
L24: Epic Reflexes
L26: Powerful Charge
L28: Paladin's Truth
L30: Promise of Judgment


Skills
L1: Athletics
L1: Bluff
L1: Endurance
L1: Intimidate
L10: Streetwise


Magic Items at L30 (Expected GP = 14,625,000)
L28 (2,125,000 gp): +6 Frost Fullblade
L27 (1,625,000 gp): +6 Dwarven Warplate
L27 (1,625,000 gp): +6 Badge of the Berserker
L26 (1,125,000 gp): Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier)
L26 (1,125,000 gp): Horned Helm (epic tier)
L24 (525,000 gp): Boots of Caiphon (epic tier)
L22 (325,000 gp): Siberys Shard of Merciless Cold (epic tier)
L21 (225,000 gp): Gloves of Ice (epic tier)
L21 (225,000 gp): Ring of Tenacious Will (epic tier)
L20 (125,000 gp): Diamond Cincture (paragon tier)
L13 (17,000 gp): Ring of Giants (paragon tier)
L9 (4,200 gp): Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier)
Total GP = 9,071,200 gp



Dark Savage

This Half-Orc has the natural agility to take full advantage of the nastiest weapon in the striking business -- the gouge. Favors the Dreadnought PP for extra durability and an encounter nova option. Once the nova party's over, he loves dealing the pain with high-powered charges, favoring cold damage like so many other Blackguards and attaching Dread Smite to those.

Race: Half-Orc
Vice: Fury
Theme: Guardian
Multiclass: Fighter
Paragon Path: Dreadnought
Epic Destiny: Destined Scion


Ability Scores
L1: STR 18, CON 10, DEX 17, INT 8, WIS 11, CHA 14
L4: STR 19, CON 10, DEX 17, INT 8, WIS 11, CHA 15
L8: STR 20, CON 10, DEX 17, INT 8, WIS 11, CHA 16
L11: STR 21, CON 11, DEX 18, INT 9, WIS 12, CHA 17
L14: STR 22, CON 11, DEX 18, INT 9, WIS 12, CHA 18
L18: STR 23, CON 11, DEX 18, INT 9, WIS 12, CHA 19
L21: STR 26, CON 12, DEX 19, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 22
L24: STR 27, CON 12, DEX 19, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 23
L28: STR 28, CON 12, DEX 19, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 24


At-Will Powers
L1: Vengeance Strike
L1: Ferocious Strike


Encounter Power
L11: Inexhorable Advance


Daily Powers
L5: Blood of the Mighty
L9: Death Angel
L12: Bedeviling Assault (replaces Blood of the Mighty via Adept Power)
L20: Rampaging Bloodlust
L25: Exalted Retribution (replaces Death Angel)
L29: Catastrophic Flurry (replaces Avatar of Vice via Adept power)


Utility Powers
L2: Vice's Reward
L6: Wrath of the Gods
L10: Virtue
L12: Blood Iron
L16: Divine Aegis
L22: Rampaging Bloodlust
L26: Epic Recovery
L28: Martial Supremacy (replaces Rampaging Bloodlust via Acolyte Power)
L30: Undeniable Victory


Feats
L1: Weapon Proficiency (Gouge)
L2: Cunning Stalker
L4: Spear Expertise
L6: Student of the Sword
L8: Surprising Charge
L10: Weapon Focus (Spear)
L11: Lasting Frost
L11: Wintertouched (retrained Cunning Stalker)
L12: Adept Power
L14: Impaling Spear
L16: Improved Defenses
L18: Superior Will
L20: Heavy Armor Agility
L21: Martial Mastery
L21: Battle Awareness (retrained Student of the Sword)
L22: Long Step
L24: Spear Mastery
L26: Ferocious Critical
L28: Acolyte Power
L30: Rapid Assault


Skills
L1: Athletics
L1: Bluff
L1: Endurance
L1: Intimidate
L4: Streetwise


Magic Items at L30 (Expected GP = 14,625,000)
L28 (2,125,000 gp): +6 Frost Gouge
L27 (1,625,000 gp): +6 Dwarven Warplate
L27 (1,625,000 gp): +6 Badge of the Berserker
L26 (1,125,000 gp): Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier)
L26 (1,125,000 gp): Horned Helm (epic tier)
L24 (525,000 gp): Boots of Caiphon (epic tier)
L22 (325,000 gp): Siberys Shard of Merciless Cold (epic tier)
L21 (225,000 gp): Gloves of Ice (epic tier)
L21 (225,000 gp): Ring of Tenacious Will (epic tier)
L20 (125,000 gp): Diamond Cincture (paragon tier)
L13 (17,000 gp): Ring of Giants (paragon tier)
L9 (4,200 gp): Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier)
Total GP = 9,071,200 gp



Stygian Warrior

Like so many Blackguards, this Tiefling favors the Dreadnought PP and inflicting truckloads of cold damage on a charge. The Tiefling gets to take the cold damage one step further with Icy Clutch of Stygia, which makes Dread Smite an even more devastating tool in rounds 2-4.

Race: Tiefling
Vice: Fury
Theme: Guardian
Multiclass: Fighter
Paragon Path: Dreadnought
Epic Destiny: Destined Scion


Ability Scores
L1: STR 18, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 11, CHA 16
L4: STR 19, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 11, CHA 17
L8: STR 20, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 11, CHA 18
L11: STR 21, CON 13, DEX 11, INT 9, WIS 12, CHA 19
L14: STR 22, CON 13, DEX 11, INT 9, WIS 12, CHA 20
L18: STR 23, CON 13, DEX 11, INT 9, WIS 12, CHA 21
L21: STR 26, CON 14, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 24
L24: STR 27, CON 14, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 25
L28: STR 28, CON 14, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 26


At-Will Powers
L1: Vengeance Strike
L1: Ferocious Strike


Encounter Power
L11: Inexhorable Advance


Daily Powers
L5: Blood of the Mighty
L9: Death Angel
L12: Bedeviling Assault (replaces Blood of the Mighty via Adept Power)
L20: Rampaging Bloodlust
L25: Exalted Retribution (replaces Death Angel)
L29: Catastrophic Flurry (replaces Avatar of Vice via Adept power)


Utility Powers
L2: Vice's Reward
L6: Wrath of the Gods
L10: Virtue
L12: Blood Iron
L16: Divine Aegis
L22: Rampaging Bloodlust
L24: Martial Supremacy (replaces Rampaging Bloodlust via Acolyte Power)
L26: Epic Recovery
L30: Undeniable Victory


Feats
L1: Weapon Proficiency (Fullblade)
L2: Cunning Stalker
L4: Icy Clutch of Stygia
L6: Heavy Blade Expertise
L8: Weapon Focus (Heavy Blade)
L10: Student of the Sword
L11: Lasting Frost
L11: Wintertouched (retrained Cunning Stalker)
L12: Adept Power
L14: Superior Will
L16: Improved Defenses
L18: Dispater's Iron Discipline
L20: Heavy Armor Agility
L21: Martial Mastery
L21: Battle Awareness (retrained Student of the Sword)
L22: Long Step
L24: Acolyte Power
L26: Epic Reflexes
L28: Rapid Assault
L30: Bloodhunter's Flank


Skills
L1: Athletics
L1: Bluff
L1: Endurance
L1: Intimidate
L10: Streetwise


Magic Items at L30 (Expected GP = 14,625,000)
L28 (2,125,000 gp): +6 Frost Fullblade
L27 (1,625,000 gp): +6 Dwarven Warplate
L27 (1,625,000 gp): +6 Badge of the Berserker
L26 (1,125,000 gp): Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier)
L26 (1,125,000 gp): Horned Helm (epic tier)
L24 (525,000 gp): Boots of Caiphon (epic tier)
L22 (325,000 gp): Siberys Shard of Merciless Cold (epic tier)
L21 (225,000 gp): Gloves of Ice (epic tier)
L21 (225,000 gp): Ring of Tenacious Will (epic tier)
L20 (125,000 gp): Diamond Cincture (paragon tier)
L13 (17,000 gp): Ring of Giants (paragon tier)
L9 (4,200 gp): Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier)
Total GP = 9,071,200 gp


I can feel your anger.

It gives you focus. Makes you powerful.

And this is the last reservation. Post away. (Discuss spoilers, I guess?)

Is it wrong that I'm disappointed you didn't name the handbook "Faith No More"?
cant wait to see what this class is like, since the cavilier disapointed me so....
Well given that the start with paladin armor/hp/defenses.  I assume this isn't going to be a high damage striker (at least by default, char-op will have it's say).  Probably closer to the level of the warlock.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

If Blackguards can finagle a way into grabbing the Summon Celestial Charger mount I'm going to be in heaven. I've always had a soft spot for anti-paladins and the like.
For Chuthlu.



Mead is for Paladins.


Here comes your 19th forums breakdown ... ohh who's to blame, it ain't 5E driving you insane.

 

Well given that the start with paladin armor/hp/defenses.  I assume this isn't going to be a high damage striker (at least by default, char-op will have it's say).  Probably closer to the level of the warlock.



The Blackguard has a handful of conditional ways to boost his damage. I played the preview adventure that debuted at DDXP, and I really had to struggle to get the most out of each attack. On the other hand, I didn't get hit in the final fight.
I killed Aleena.
Would blackguards trade lay on hands for some sort of smite power? Getting some sort of life-steal ability (damage => temps) would also be kinda cool (and closely resemble certain MMO classes, FBOFW).

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Probably not.  They're more anti-cavalier than anti-paladin in this instance (in terms of class mechanic with the Vices, and in terms of restricted alignments, where the O-Paladin has none) - and the Cav doesn't have LoH.  However, the BG does, if I've heard correctly get an anti-Righteous Shield, which allows him to drop damage on an ally if it would drop him below 0, or something along those lines.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I have to admit, I'm kind of liking the blackgaurd.  Giving me that fuzzy feeling reading over him!
I'm assuming blackguards can poach Paladin powers, correct?  Cuz that'd make the L2 utility Virtue pretty much gold for Domination.

Edit: OK, that's a bit hasty, but it's at least very high blue or sky blue.
I'm assuming blackguards can poach Paladin powers, correct?  Cuz that'd make the L2 utility Virtue pretty much gold for Domination.

Edit: OK, that's a bit hasty, but it's at least very high blue or sky blue.



There's also the level 6 skill power Deliverance of Faith which is pretty much identical.
Ooo, I didn't know that existed.  Awesome!
From everything I've heard, this is the real winner of HoS in terms of classes. I would love to have a PC play one so I can see how they go.
From what I have read, they get + cha mod damage on ca,  and have an encounter power that adds cha mod damage and cha mod ongoing damage. Plus one of the at wills let's you take cha mod damage to do cha mod damage so a quick non optimized breakdown at level one could look like this.

Str 16, Cha 18
Greatword
Weapon Focus Heavy Blades
+6 to hit
1d10+3(str)+4(ca)+4(tmp exchange)+1 (weapon focus)= 18.5 avg damage on hit, with relatively easy condition of CA
1d10 +3(str) +4(ca)+4(tmp exchange)+4(encounter)+4(ongoing)+1(weapon focus).= avg 26.5 damage once per encounter


That seems pretty good for a level 1st striker. How does this compares to rangers?


I'd definitely switch your STR and CHA around. You'll hit better, the +1 to STR directly offsets one of the CHA damage points you lose, and the extra hitting chance, in the long run, makes up for the other CHA point you lose and then some. I'd also go Superior Weapon Prof (Fullblade) instead of Weapon Focus at the start (1d12, high crit).

Also, Dread Smite is more powerful than simple CHA mod, as spoiled here. It's 2+CHA mod, 5 ongoing at 1st level.
So I'm going to be building 18 (+Racial) Str/14 (+ Racial) Cha toons? Wonder if the get a Wrathful Aspect like utility for Intimidatomancy?
I'd definitely switch your STR and CHA around. You'll hit better, the +1 to STR directly offsets one of the CHA damage points you lose, and the extra hitting chance, in the long run, makes up for the other CHA point you lose and then some. I'd also go Superior Weapon Prof (Fullblade) instead of Weapon Focus at the start (1d12, high crit).

Also, Dread Smite is more powerful than simple CHA mod, as spoiled here. It's 2+CHA mod, 5 ongoing at 1st level.




Great news.

The reason i went 18 cha was i figured that +8 on average to hit was enough at 1st level.  Since you are going to be seeking CA all the time, and you have the hp and ac to take a few chances with OAs to get it, i assume you will play like a rogue and seek it at all times. +8 is hitting on a 6 or 7 vs most 1st level mobs.

I thought about fullblade instead of focus, though mathematically they are really both just +1 damage on average. I forgot about the high crit part. A better choice over all.

17.5 average dps on an at will, vs 20.5 dps ish for a thief with CA, isn't too made when you consider that you are a hella of a lot more sturdy than the thief.
 
And if you have an 18 STR you'll hit better still. You can never have too much attack bonus. 18 is the standard start for the attack stat, and the bare minimum acceptable for a Striker.
If Blackguards can finagle a way into grabbing the Summon Celestial Charger mount I'm going to be in heaven. I've always had a soft spot for anti-paladins and the like.



if they have a power MBA and can get on a mount, then we already got striker damage right there, paladins can hit like a truck when they really want to.
What ranking are you going to give Wintertouched/Lasting Frost for the Blackguard Litigation? I would think it would be gold surely, given their striker feature relies on CA and uses cold damage. Could you ask for a better combination?
What ranking are you going to give Wintertouched/Lasting Frost for the Blackguard Litigation? I would think it would be gold surely, given their striker feature relies on CA and uses cold damage. Could you ask for a better combination?



gold means YOU HAVE TO TAKE THIS NO EXEPTIONS like your primary statistic while its DEFINATLY a great combo thing its not a "all blackgaurds suck unless this happens" situation 

the only things i see as gold is your primary statistics, and a few select things like taking the caviliers mount over a +2 out of combat to party speed

The value of a gold rating varries slightly from one writer to another.  Some seem to rate it as 'something so good that it's a reason to take the class in and of itself', some just use it as an extra awesome rating.  The 'you suck without it' version of gold is, from what I can tell, uncommon.  As an example, LDB rates 'Hail of Steel' (I think - the paragon warlord encounter to grant the full party basics) as gold, even though not every other option of that level is red, and even though warlords hardly suck if they don't take that power.

It's less about sucking without it, and more about being so far beyond good that you're simply silly not to take it, and given their reliance on combat advantage and their cold element a-will, it certainly seems to me that a blackguard would indeed be silly not to take the winterfrost combo.

Malisteen pretty much nailed it. If nobody else beat me to it, I think I was the guy who introduced the gold rating to CharOp. When I did so, I intended on rating the no-contest choices gold, not just the feat taxes. If there's an option that outshines everything else, even other good options, that's probably deserving of gold, like pre-errata Lead The Attack or Force the Battle for a fighter. I think Lit subscribes to the same school of thought, though he's pretty stingy with the gold. :P
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I think I'll probably rate Lasting Frost, the feat itself, gold simply because adding a cheap +5 to potentially both instances of the damage from an awesome E-encounter power that can be spammed 3/encounter (eventually) is just something you don't pass up.

I doubt I'll rate the combo gold, though. Wintertouched will probably still be sky blue because there are other ways for a Blackguard to get constant CA without a Frost Weapon, or even using Dread Smite at all. (Human with Ardent Strike and Deadly Draw/Commanding Vow comes to mind.)
From what I have read, they get + cha mod damage on ca,  and have an encounter power that adds cha mod damage and cha mod ongoing damage. Plus one of the at wills let's you take cha mod damage to do cha mod damage so a quick non optimized breakdown at level one could look like this.

Str 16, Cha 18
Greatword
Weapon Focus Heavy Blades
+6 to hit
1d10+3(str)+4(ca)+4(tmp exchange)+1 (weapon focus)= 18.5 avg damage on hit, with relatively easy condition of CA
1d10 +3(str) +4(ca)+4(tmp exchange)+4(encounter)+4(ongoing)+1(weapon focus).= avg 26.5 damage once per encounter


That seems pretty good for a level 1st striker. How does this compares to rangers?



It should be noted that you're dipping from both vices here, with fury's CA feature and Domination's at-will.  A good trick for a human, but I wouldn't call it non-optimized.

Edit - or is the temp hp-to-damage a dom feature rather than a condition of the at-will?  I don't remember, but if so you can't have both.

Edit 2 - Sorry, I'm wrong... ignore this
Just a question and hopefully this does not sound dumb.  From what I understand the BG at wills suck.  Due to the cavalier write up I would think that their encounter power is based off of using an at will and that they get to choose their dailies.  Is there really anything significant lost by going cha 20 and using one of the various ways of getting a cha based at will MBA (such as human-virtuous strike, half-elf-eldritch strike, or teifling with that paladin feat)?  All I can think of is that some of the better striker oriented dailies are str based but is there loss so significant that it beats out a 20 cha build that can get those special at wills?

It should be noted that you're dipping from both vices here, with fury's CA feature and Domination's at-will.  A good trick for a human, but I wouldn't call it non-optimized.

Edit - or is the temp hp-to-damage a dom feature rather than a condition of the at-will?  I don't remember, but if so you can't have both.


He's not dipping from both vices. Check MC-Drowbane's HoS spoilers thread and the ENWorld thread I linked in my second post here. ALL Blackguards get CHA-mod damage from CA. Domination gets an extra CHA-mod's worth of damage on top if he trades in THPs (as a feature, not as an at-will). Fury simply gets a flat +2 extra damage on the damage he deals with CA, which goes up to +4 if either the Blackguard is bloodied or the enemy he's attacking is bloodied.
Just a question and hopefully this does not sound dumb.  From what I understand the BG at wills suck.  Due to the cavalier write up I would think that their encounter power is based off of using an at will and that they get to choose their dailies.  Is there really anything significant lost by going cha 20 and using one of the various ways of getting a cha based at will MBA (such as human-virtuous strike, half-elf-eldritch strike, or teifling with that paladin feat)?  All I can think of is that some of the better striker oriented dailies are str based but is there loss so significant that it beats out a 20 cha build that can get those special at wills?


It will be a viable build, but as you said, the dailies will be a factor on whether or not you'll want to do this in the end (and if you've checked MC-Drowbane's HoS preview thread, some of those are looking pretty good). So will the Grim Blackguard PP, which at least for the Fury Vice is looking very good.