Ranking Warlock builds

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Hey Op. How's it going? I've been away for a while, and have been working on catching up on everything I've missed in the last few months. Having looked over Hexblades and Heroes of Shadow, I wanted to ask this:

How would you rank the various warlock builds? Not simply the individual pacts, but the over-all builds: the original, the hexblade, and the binder. It seems to me that the original warlocks remain superior for flexibility in power choice, but I wanted more than just my own opinion. Are the other builds worth examining for any reason besides fluff?
From what I've seen in charop so far it's Warlock >> Hexblade >>>>> Binder.  Binder really got screwed with lack of power choices (fixed encounter powers for a controller is a huge no), the pact boon trigger is counter to their design, and generally less control and damage than both the warlock and hexblade.

Hexblades are solid.  Not overwhelming in terms of damage output, but fey pacts with the frost power is pretty strong.  Excellent flavor, interesting and cool mechanics, not so well thought out design-wise (could use quite a bit of errata for clarifications)

Warlocks are still pretty awesome.  Can go controller/striker or full striker with Mindbite Scorn (extra die of curse damage), Killing Curse (upgrades curse to d8s), Cursed Spells (add Int mod to curse damage) as well as Hellish Rebuke exploiting.  Shadow Warlock isn't as necessary now that Hidden Stalker is out (CA w/ ranged attacks while you have concealment), but it can still save a feat.  Armor of Dark Majesty is still the prime defensive option in lieu of SWA.
From what I've seen in charop so far it's Warlock >> Hexblade >>>>> Binder.  Binder really got screwed with lack of power choices (fixed encounter powers for a controller is a huge no), the pact boon trigger is counter to their design, and generally less control and damage than both the warlock and hexblade.

Hexblades are solid.  Not overwhelming in terms of damage output, but fey pacts with the frost power is pretty strong.  Excellent flavor, interesting and cool mechanics, not so well thought out design-wise (could use quite a bit of errata for clarifications)

Warlocks are still pretty awesome.  Can go controller/striker or full striker with Mindbite Scorn (extra die of curse damage), Killing Curse (upgrades curse to d8s), Cursed Spells (add Int mod to curse damage) as well as Hellish Rebuke exploiting.  Shadow Warlock isn't as necessary now that Hidden Stalker is out (CA w/ ranged attacks while you have concealment), but it can still save a feat.  Armor of Dark Majesty is still the prime defensive option in lieu of SWA.



Is this cursed spells thing a feat? I can't seem to find it.
Cursed Spells is an epic feat, +Int to curse damage, nice little feat tax like the Avenger's Painful Oath at paragon, lets the average warlock keep up with the Joneses at epic.
From what I've seen in charop so far it's Warlock >> Hexblade >>>>> Binder.  Binder really got screwed with lack of power choices (fixed encounter powers for a controller is a huge no), the pact boon trigger is counter to their design, and generally less control and damage than both the warlock and hexblade.

Hexblades are solid.  Not overwhelming in terms of damage output, but fey pacts with the frost power is pretty strong.  Excellent flavor, interesting and cool mechanics, not so well thought out design-wise (could use quite a bit of errata for clarifications)

Warlocks are still pretty awesome.  Can go controller/striker or full striker with Mindbite Scorn (extra die of curse damage), Killing Curse (upgrades curse to d8s), Cursed Spells (add Int mod to curse damage) as well as Hellish Rebuke exploiting.  Shadow Warlock isn't as necessary now that Hidden Stalker is out (CA w/ ranged attacks while you have concealment), but it can still save a feat.  Armor of Dark Majesty is still the prime defensive option in lieu of SWA.

Thanks. I figured as much. It's a shame. Hexblades are thematically good, and the damage even seems okay with a nice flat bonus, and they even get Melee and Ranged basics, making them work well with warlords. But the lack of power choice cripples them so hard, as does the loss of concealment (which ironically would have worked even better on a fragile character looking to get into melee).

Also, it's "hidden sniper", not stalker. Thank you though. That's an amazing feat. Finally makes running a human star-pact warlock a real possibility. For how silly the essentials are, they come with some nice feats and wizard powers.
my GF has a charging warlock at level 5, i have an infernal hexblade im doing 1d12+17 (23.5 avg) while she is doing 1d10+2d8+8 (22.5 avg) with her greatspear, both good for their levels but here is the diffrence

- the hexblade has better defenses, the warlock is a non dex/int class in light armor

- the hexblade does not need to spend a minor or charge to do its damage, no curse, no charge gimmicks 1d12+17 is his soul eater MBA

- the hexblade encounter powers are striker powers, most of the warlock encounters give you seemingly random things, while the hexblade's is a 2d12+17 and a +5 bonus to my next damage roll great for a big hit round.

- the striker features of the warlock is inheritly weaker then the striker feature of the hexblade, at level 5 the hexblade is getting its con + 2 (or dex/int + 2 depending on pact) this will always be +5 or +6 extra damage, while the warlock needs to spend a feat to upgrade to a d8 and then its still only adding 4.5 onto its avrage damage. 

both are really good classes but im going to say the hexblade is better, it dosent waste actions like the warlock has to. 

Also, it's "hidden sniper", not stalker. Thank you though. That's an amazing feat. Finally makes running a human star-pact warlock a real possibility. For how silly the essentials are, they come with some nice feats and wizard powers.



Yea, my bad.  I always get Hidden Sniper and Cunning Stalker mixed up in some way.

my GF has a charging warlock at level 5, i have an infernal hexblade im doing 1d12+17 (23.5 avg) while she is doing 1d10+2d8+8 (22.5 avg) with her greatspear, both good for their levels but here is the diffrence

- the hexblade has better defenses, the warlock is a non dex/int class in light armor

- the hexblade does not need to spend a minor or charge to do its damage, no curse, no charge gimmicks 1d12+17 is his soul eater MBA

- the hexblade encounter powers are striker powers, most of the warlock encounters give you seemingly random things, while the hexblade's is a 2d12+17 and a +5 bonus to my next damage roll great for a big hit round.

- the striker features of the warlock is inheritly weaker then the striker feature of the hexblade, at level 5 the hexblade is getting its con + 2 (or dex/int + 2 depending on pact) this will always be +5 or +6 extra damage, while the warlock needs to spend a feat to upgrade to a d8 and then its still only adding 4.5 onto its avrage damage. 

both are really good classes but im going to say the hexblade is better, it dosent waste actions like the warlock has to. 



Errr...

The warlock IS an Int secondary class.  You should have 15 AC at least at Level 1, and then throw in Shadow Walk and you have solid AC and NADs.  Not to mention you're a ranged character so you're less likely to be attacked than a character in melee.

Warlock's Curse scales much faster than the hexblade's damage bonus.  In Epic you can potentially get 4d8+Int curse damage (with Int of 7-8, this averages out to be around 25-26 damage), whereas hexblade is at Stat+6, which will amount to 14-15 damage in epic, depending on ED.

Curse also has a TON of support.  Control effects, alternate damage types, damage boosts, Bloodied Boon, etc.  The Hexer PP (which is solid for any warlock and uses Con or Cha for its powers) makes cursing large groups of enemies a cakewalk.  Not to mention quickswapping a Rod of Corruption for the free curse everything within 5 squares of a fallen enemy.  

The hexblade encounter powers do have a higher damage die than a warlock's, but a warlock's powers have better control and a few have pseudo-multi striking.  Example:  Chains of Levistus deals 2d6+Con cold damage, and if the target moves they take an extra 2d6+other mods (No stat unfortunately).  Killing Flames is an immediate reaction power (that's not a flat 5/10/15+Stat damage) with a common trigger.  The hexblade powers offer a large hit, but other than that they don't scale too well.

It seems like your experience with hexblades is in heroic tier.  That's where they shine a lot with their bigger damage die and high static mod to damage.  But come paragon, a properly built warlock will scale much faster, have more versatility with powers, and generally be all-around better.  Especially Hellish Rebuke specialists.  And that's going to be nightmarish if Curse becomes 1/turn instead of 1/round.

But this all just means that Hexblades really need support, whether they errata a lot of the warlock support to work with Hexblades (Example:  Student of Caiphon's L16 feature working on any pact boon trigger, Bloodied Boon to not require Curse/Eldritch Pact, etc) or add new feats/power choices/buff mechanics for Hexblades.



Warlock is only int-secondary if you pick one primary and stick to it.  If you go for respectable scores in both primaries to have expanded power selection, then you necessarily sacrifice int to do it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
That's something I've actually wondered about. What are the rules for hexblades for above heroirc tier? Do they just keep the same 3 encounter powers for their whole careers, and only add through paragon? Because that's bogus. I'm also curious if there are any rules for retraining those hexblade powers you get. I wouldn't mind the mechanics of hexblades at the heroic tier if I could just choose my own encounter powers. 

Honestly, with how sparse everything is getting lately, I worry about Wizard's D&D department. When we compare the former content to the new stuff, it almost feels like scab labor. I have a feeling some necks will be on the line soon.
I've played with both Con/Int and Cha/Int warlocks and never felt like I really needed to tank my AC to maybe pick up a couple powers that use the other primary.  There are fantastic powers that use either Con or Cha, but there's always something solid to pick no matter if you're Con or Cha.

Hexblades do keep the same 3 encounter powers, but they scale in damage die (2/3/4 [W] and 5/10/15+Stat usually).  Once the feat that lets you trade out an encounter power for something from your parent class (like Martial Crosstraining) then Hexblades have a bit more option.

Edit: If they make a feat letting Warlocks pick up a hexblade encounter power, it will be a sad, sad day for warlocks.  Unless they give Warlocks a way to access the Pact Weapon feature, such a feat would do nothing.  But if they do release it, I will have a field day with Warlock's Curse and Pact Weapon.
The difference between curse damage and pact reward is that the latter apply to each and every damage rolls the Hexblade makes, while curse damage is only once per round. This makes a big difference for off-round attacks, multiattacks and zone damage triggers. Curse may be situationally better, but i overall prefer pact reward

Chauntea/Lathander/Torm Cleric since 1995 My husband married a DM - καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός

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The difference between curse damage and pact reward is that the latter apply to each and every damage rolls the Hexblade makes, while curse damage is only once per round. This makes a big difference for off-round attacks, multiattacks and zone damage triggers. Curse may be situationally better, but i overall prefer pact reward



True.  Zones become much better, but warlocks and hexblades don't have a lot of access to multiattacks/off-round attacks outside of items.  And hexblades can't MC or use half-elf dilettante for other classes powers either since the pact reward is limited to warlock and warlock PP powers.  So it pretty much comes down to dailies with zone effects or encounter powers that affect an area (which would require the feat to swap encounter powers that hopefully is coming out soon)

Welcome to the Essentials choicelessness, hope you enjoy the stay.

You get your one hexblade encounter power.  You get a second use of it at level 3 and more damage at paragon and epic, and there is no mechanism to swap it for other encounter powers.  You also get the pact retribution, which is sortof like an encounter power, but also don't get to choose it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Hexblades compete with O-Warlocks if you have alot of attack granting in the party. Also other things that give basic attacks with non-standard actions make the Hexblade stand out:

Ring of Fury (Item)
Quickened Spellcasting (Feat)
Prescient Maneuver (Power)
Star-favored Champion (ED)

O-Warlock is certainly more versatile and easier to optimize in a vaccum. However in our particular group my infernal hexblade is a damage monster with attack granters all over the place.

The difference between curse damage and pact reward is that the latter apply to each and every damage rolls the Hexblade makes, while curse damage is only once per round. This makes a big difference for off-round attacks, multiattacks and zone damage triggers. Curse may be situationally better, but i overall prefer pact reward



True.  Zones become much better, but warlocks and hexblades don't have a lot of access to multiattacks/off-round attacks outside of items.  And hexblades can't MC or use half-elf dilettante for other classes powers either since the pact reward is limited to warlock and warlock PP powers.  So it pretty much comes down to dailies with zone effects or encounter powers that affect an area (which would require the feat to swap encounter powers that hopefully is coming out soon)




You are right, but only on paper. Fortunately you don't play alone, so enabling and OAs has to be taken on account... and the hexblade is a very appealing ally for an enabler.

Chauntea/Lathander/Torm Cleric since 1995 My husband married a DM - καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός

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I enjoyed playing a Hexblade for a three-session mini-campaign, but by the time it was over I was ready to move on.  The fluff and concept is great, but it's just not appealing to use the same powers forever.  I can't imagine taking it from 1-30.

The warlock, on the other hand, is such a diverse class.  You can go all kinds of different ways with it, and it's not like its lacking in flavor either.  I recently got to play a teleport-heavy, control-focused feylock in epic and it was maybe the most fun I've ever had with D&D.  I think the warlock should be the poster child for classes like Assassin and Seeker - you can make a class viable with good support.
while i think hexblades are better now, this may change when warlocks get the update, i know something on everybodys mind is that they should get their curse 1/turn insted of 1/round (like the rogue) 

this wont really alter much, the hexblade has gurenteed static damage while the warlock has variable damage based on how you roll, and you cant roll better then the hexblades static bonus until paragon, and even then you gotta roll well and normally the static will be better. 

that said the class as a whole needs a few alterations,

1. the hexblade needs to actually be able to use some of its class feats (since almost 90% of them are tied to the curse or pact)

2. the warlock needs to be able to apply its curse as a free action on its turn, having to spend a minor is a pain when you have sustain minors

3. the warlock needs to apply its damage 1/turn like the theif can sneak attack 1/turn.

with these changes the status quo wont change hexblade will be better, and i for one love my hexblade.  
Well, this week the warlock article is coming out. I expect a buff on the damage side, since the class needs it. Curse 1/turn is definitely interesting. I'd add also an option for switching starlock powers to con OR cha (as we did since 2009 in our games) and a couple of damaging kickers on control powers (very common in phb warlock, especially feylock)

Chauntea/Lathander/Torm Cleric since 1995 My husband married a DM - καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός

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that said the class as a whole needs a few alterations,

1. the hexblade needs to actually be able to use some of its class feats (since almost 90% of them are tied to the curse or pact)

2. the warlock needs to be able to apply its curse as a free action on its turn, having to spend a minor is a pain when you have sustain minors

3. the warlock needs to apply its damage 1/turn like the theif can sneak attack 1/turn.

with these changes the status quo wont change hexblade will be better, and i for one love my hexblade.  



+1.  That would help both the warlock and the hexblade a lot!!!  The only thing left would be to throw in a couple out of turn encounter/daily attack powers for warlocks/hexblades to take advantage of their damage boost via Pact Reward or 1/turn curse if it comes out.

Edit:  Additionally, if warlocks get 1/turn curse, then they become just as viable for enabling allies as hexblades since they can both use their extra damage feature with the extra attack.  Which is perfect; it puts the warlock and hexblade classes in a good place mechanically and design-wise.

I admit my opinion is a bit skewed because I rarely play with enabling leaders (usually the leaders in my group play clerics and artificers; great buffs, not a whole lot of extra attacks though), so I usually build with that in mind.  I definitively should have thought of that when comparing them, but I still think the warlock pulls ahead of the hexblade without the presence of an enabler.  Mainly because the hexblade doesn't have the power support to really take advantage of its damage feature like the slayer can.

The Warlock is an exceedingly versatile class that, while complicated, can be quite powerful when built correctly.

The Hexblade is mediocre. While you can do some interesting tricks using its highly exploitable weapon/implement feature, it is ultimately an MBA spamming class that much worse potential when it comes to spamming MBAs than its martial counterparts and is not even that much better at doing so than the Warlock, is unable to tap the majority of its base class's support, and has highly deficient scaling for all of its non-MBA powers. (If the Warlock gains the ability to invoke Curse 1/turn rather than 1/round, the Hexblade will lose even that small relative niche.)

The Binder is an absolute failure that is worse not only in general but even specifically at control than either the Warlock or the Hexblade.

Which makes me sad, as that gloom pact reward makes me drool. Slide any ally or enemy three squares when you drop someone? Hell yes!

Might have to adapt that into a o-warlock pact.
That's why I'd want to readapt it to original warlock format. It's a great offering, but the powers don't even have enough punch behind them to be reliable kills, which means you have to get right in the thick of the action if you want your boon to go off, which would actually work with prime shot and shadow walk. It's all so ass-backwards, which confuses the hell out of me, as they managed to make wizards actually equally good with what came before (and even a little better in some cases), yet screwed up warlocks so badly.

God, all the wasted potential for the shadow power source...it makes me weep.
Yeeeaa.  I read an idea that Binders should get curse, but instead of extra damage, it would have some scaling control effect (slow, immobilize, daze, maybe some forced movement) tacked onto the power.  And then making it a branch of the same feature (ie an alternate version of the Warlock's Curse) so that it would still work with any support that requires the Warlock's Curse class feature.  

Just to clarify, take the Eldritch Pact feature.  You have Eldritch Pact (Fey) and Eldritch Pact (Infernal).  Both are different versions of the Eldritch Pact feature.  With the Binder/Warlock, have Warlock's Curse (damage) and Warlock's Curse (control).  Then clarify various Curse support to say "when you apply your Curse effect" or some variation thereof instead of "when you deal damage with your Curse".  

Additionally, the control version of Curse would need to be applicable to areas to keep up with Wizards/Invokers.  Maybe it can only apply to encounter/daily powers?  Or it scales in strength with the type of power used (at-will = weak effect, encounter = moderate effect, daily = strong effect)?

Personally, it seems that it would be fairly simple design (outside of all the re-clarifications that would be needed) and a pretty cool way to make Binders unique, flavorful, and comparable to other controllers.

Edit:  I have to agree with erachima's analysis of the warlock, hexblade, and binder.  The suggestions that undeadpool put forth on page 2 would make a big stride in bringing hexblades up to par though, at least with the warlock.  And again, the warlock/hexblade really need some out-of-turn attacks to capitalize on their strength (always added damage via pact reward and 1/turn Curse if warlocks get it).
It seems simpler to just give them curse, and as part of being a binder say "when you deal warlock's curse damage (possibly with a binder power to prevent hax), add ____ affect to the creature dealt damage until beginning/end of your next turn". Lets them get back some damage and add some control while limiting it to once enemy at a time, the kind of controlling that warlocks did in the first place.

As for what that condition would be, slowed seems like a pretty safe, not abusable option, synergizes with the pact boon of sliding (so you slide your next victim into your defender and slow them so they can't get away), and is even appropriate flavor, as your curse either manifests as cloying darkness around their feet, or even weighs down their shadow & soul. Some clauses might include immoblizing if the opponent is already slowed, and possibly the ability to promote the ability to blindness, perhaps as a paragon path ability (when you spend an action point and deal damage with your warlock's curse, you may choose to blind your opponent in place of/in addition to slowing them).
An alternative might be "no opportunity actions allowed", which I know is considered a pretty good controller mechanic.
EDIT: considers all targets as having partial  concealment would be another one, though nethermancers did it first.

Another thought might be a bonus damage mechanic that rewards you for hitting enemies under status effects, or does bonus damage when you inflict a status.

EDIT: of course, adding this effect on top of curse means I would probably take something out, such as shadow walk or prime shot
I had another idea as well that might work: a binder might get warlock's curse, and can sacrifice damage dice for status effects. This way, you  are forced to choose between damage and control, creating interesting decisions for the player. Plus, you can create a scaling effect by offering more debilitating effects by trading in more curse dice. So you can go from slow->immobilized->blinded. This trade-off mechanic may also preclude the need to remove any other features. Also, I goofed a bit, referring to prime shot when binders get "Shadow twist". 

I'm combing over the powers a little bit before I go to bed to see how they can be tuned up as well. A quick scan reveals that the dailies are actually decent. You have some decent options just in HoS, with a general split between hitting single or multiple enemies, which is fine. It's the encounter powers that probably need revision. Or simply being freed from being forced to choose them.