Half-Elf Twin Strike Polearm Shenanigans Fighter with +2 Reach - PEACH

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As anyone who has been following the ask a simple question, get a simple answer thread may have noticed, I've been trying to figure out how to combine the awesomeness of Twin Strike, Headsman's Chop, Arena Training and Polearm Momentum/Polearm Gamble/Heavy Blade Opportunity, and this frankenstein monster is the result:

Tsunami, level 12
Half-Elf, Fighter, Polearm Master
Fighter Option: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents Option: Arena Training
Arena Training: Quarterstaff
Arena Training: Glaive
Extended Arena Training: Gauntlet Axe
Extended Arena Training: Craghammer
Background: Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 20, Con 13, Dex 16, Int 11, Wis 16, Cha 9.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 17, Con 10, Dex 16, Int 10, Wis 22, Cha 8.

AC: 28 Fort: 27 Reflex: 22 Will: 22
HP: 101 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 50

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +15, Endurance +11, Intimidate +10

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +9, Arcana +6, Bluff +5, Diplomacy +7, Dungeoneering +9, Heal +9, History +6, Insight +11, Nature +9, Perception +9, Religion +6, Stealth +8, Streetwise +5, Thievery +8

FEATS

Level 1: Staff Expertise
Level 2: Weapon Focus (Heavy Blade)
Level 4: Extended Arena Training
Level 6: Mark of Storm [Dragonmark]
Level 8: Polearm Momentum
Level 10: Polearm Gamble [retrained at 11]
Level 11: Versatile Master
Level 12: Heavy Blade Opportunity

POWERS

Level 1 Dilettante: Twin Strike
Level 1 at-will: Reaping Strike
Level 1 at-will: Threatening Rush
Level 1 encounter: Bell Ringer
Level 1 daily: Tempest Dance
Level 2 utility: Glowering Threat
Level 3 encounter: Sweeping Blow
Level 5 daily: Rain of Steel
Level 6 utility: Ignore Weakness
Level 7 encounter: Come and Get It
Level 9 daily: Thicket of Blades
Level 10 utility: Clearheaded

ITEMS

Lightning Gauntlet Axe +2, Subtle Gauntlet Axe +2, Lightning Glaive +2, Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Acrobat Boots (heroic tier), Magic Tembo Hide Armor +3, Amulet of Protection +3

COMMENTS

This fighter has an at-will attack as follows:

Reach 3 polearm hit, slide 2 to adjacent & prone, hit again with subtle gauntlet axe


Or:


Reach 3 polearm hit, slide 2 to adjacent & prone, hit another target with reach 2 lightning gauntlet axe, slide 1 to adjacent

That's +17vAC, 2d4+6 damage on the first hit, and +19vAC 1d8+8 damage on the second (with CA) and is adjacent, prone and marked
      Or +17vAC, 2d4+6 damage on the first hit, and +17vAC 1d8+6 damage on the second target and they are both adjacent and marked, and the first is prone

He can use this attack on his turn, on opportunity attacks, and whenever an enemy moves from non-adjacent to adjacent.
He can also slide adjacent & prone on all of his other attacks, including Combat Challenge.

HOW IT WORKS

This build exploits a couple RAW loopholes that lets it combine Twin Strike with a Polearm as well as adding additional reach to a reach weapon. First, Twin Strike says "you must be wielding two melee weapons or a ranged weapon." This excludes two-handed weapons, and attempting to use a Fighting Shield won't work because you can't wield a two-handed weapon with a light shield.

This is where you add in the Gauntlet Axe. It explicitely says it keeps the hand free, says it "can also serve as a light shield", which means it doesn't have to, and it says "when enchanted as a magic weapon, it does not occupy a character's arm slot" which means I can still use Iron Armbands of Power. This means I can be wielding both a Polearm and a Gauntlet Axe for Twin Strike. It's also defensive, off-hand, and an axe, which works with Headsman's Chop.

The other trick is adding reach to my Glaive. Arena Training fighter talent says "any of your feats that grant feat bonuses to attack rolls or damage rolls with one of your arena weapons apply to your other arena weapon as well." While this was likely RAI to mean that the feat bonuses apply to both weapons, RAW it says the entire feat applies, so long as it qualifies. Therefore, selecting my arena weapons as Glaive and Quarterstaff allows me to apply Staff Expertise to my Glaive - which has the benefit "when you make a melee weapon attack with a staff, the weapon's reach for that attack increases by 1". Therefore, melee weapon attacks with my Glaive also gain +1 reach.


Other neat combinations include Full Extension for reach 4 for an attack per encounter, and Reaching Stance for reach 3 on opportunity attacks for an encounter each day. The level 16 Polearm Master feature allows me to apply reach to Combat Challenge as well!

SUMMARY

So that's the build. Incredibly feat intensive and pins down your race, class, weapons and half your items, and has not so great defenses. However, it has Reach +2 Twin Strike with Polearm Shenanigans to make you a swirling, crackling, lightning tornado of death.

I look forward to hearing any flaws in my logic, any way of patching the gaping holes in the character design and any and all feedback.


EDIT:


Updated feat order, ability scores, item choices and to hit/damage calculations. Power selection changed to emphasize multi-marking and ignoring status conditions. Figured out I didn't need to use Rushing Cleats to get the target adjacent, got Acrobat Boots instead to stay on my feet. Starting to look pretty good!

Your only definite flaw appears to be assuming that you'll ever find a competant DM who'll let you play this character.

It's not really worth arguing over your 'RAW loopholes'. You know that you are torturing the logic of the game into order to gain unintended mechanical benefits. I generally support RAW over RAI (or at least did as long as RAW made sense), but in these cases nothing in the rules suggests that this is what the designers intended.
Wielding used to mean that you were actually using the weapon in the attack. It probably still does. Your use of Twin Strike should require that you attack with two separate weapons, not just have them on hand. 


Actually, I am using the Gauntlet Axe in the second attack. And aside from the complicated route I took to get there, nothing I did really requires terrible leaps of logic to work.

Twin strike works with two weapons, I'm using two weapons, one that uses both hands and the other that doesn't take up my hand slot.

Arena Training is designed to give you the benefits of expertise/focus on both arena weapons without needing to get them twice. It also adds the benefits of the feat as well. If you pick the right weapon, you get extra reach, as the feat says. You could also add an extra slide to a non-hammer weapon, or brutal 1 with a non-axe weapon.

Neither of these break the game, since as this build demonstrates it's incredibly feat intensive, low damage, and nearly defenseless. It's more a thought experiment with some neat rule combinations I found. I'd actually originally posted this in CharOp, but wanted to see if people with interest in Defenders specifically would have something else to contribute. That in mind, any idea how I could make this less useless?
For one thing, you could use Arena Training to get you Gauntlet Axe proficiency, and save a feat that way.  You really don't need to use it for your Glaive.
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 use it on my Glaive so I can apply feat bonuses (and other feat benefits) from my other arena weapon to my Glaive, namely Staff Expertise for the Quarterstaff to gain reach +2 on my Glaive. However, Extended Arena Training would also let me apply +1 reach to my Gauntlet Axe, so I have +2 with main weapon and +1 reach on my offhand. Not too shabby.
Oh, right the arena training only applies to your arena weapons, not all your weapons.  I see now.
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 use it on my Glaive so I can apply feat bonuses (and other feat benefits) from my other arena weapon to my Glaive, namely Staff Expertise for the Quarterstaff to gain reach +2 on my Glaive. However, Extended Arena Training would also let me apply +1 reach to my Gauntlet Axe, so I have +2 with main weapon and +1 reach on my offhand. Not too shabby.



Being able to use Twin Strike with reach weapons would be amazing, and you would be increasing your marks with the extra range, I think that’s a good tactic. 
Considered trading Headsman's Chop for Weapon Focus, but it'd add +2 to each attack instead of +5 to the second. It'd be better for hitting multiple targets, though - although the lack of a strength bonus on the twin strike takes out a ton of damage.

Without twin strike, I'd have freedom in race, a free feat slot, and deal 2d4+13 and slide and prone and mark one target.
With twin strike, I'm stuck as half-elf, need versatile master, but can hit two targets for 2d4+6 damage each and slide & prone & mark two targets.
How are you getting Reach 3 *at-will*?  At most, I think it's once per encounter.
Staff Expertise's extra reach applies to the glaive because of Arena Fighter.

Summer Sentinels can do it too.
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.
 Wait Arena training combines bonuses to attack and damage rolls but nothing more regarding other bonuses. Isnt there any faq or errata about this?
Sosa,

This is one of his "RAW" verse "RAI" abuses.

The Arena Training feats stat that if you have a feat that applies an attack or damage bonus to an arena weapon, it applies to all arena weapons.  While this is oversight since the Essentials "Expertise" feats that apply attack bonuses plus a little extra, didn't exist when the Arena Fighting styles were released.

The other is a claim that he can be WIELDING both the Polearm and Axe Gauntlet at the same time because the Axe Gauntlet says that the hand is free to use another weapon.  Overlooking a practical limitation that you can only be WIELDING 1 weapon per hand in any given round, even if you may have multiple weapons in that hand, allowing you to select which your wielding each round.

The character concept is predicated on a DM allowing both of those specific interpretations of RAW, knowing the impact that it will have on the character and the game.

I wouldn't really call it abuses...

I'm told the Essentials Expertise feats were released around the same time as Arena Training and likely had the benefits in mind. After all, it's reasonable to assume Heavy Blade Expertise applied to a light blade would still give you +2 against opportunity attacks, or Bludgeon Expertise applied to an axe would still add an extra slide or push. Taken with a restricted view, with just the +1/2/3 to attack, it's a trap of a fighter talent - it would severely restrict your character options while only saving you a single feat.

The extra reach from Staff Expertise is hardly excessive. Summer Sentinals get it automatically, minotaurs and goliaths both have racial PPs that do it, I even built a whole guide around it (in my sig, if you're interested) that can leave a character with permanent reach 5. It's hardly gamebreaking, especially since Polearm Gamble still only applies to enemies moving adjacent.

As for the wielding issue, I see no practical limitation to attacking with an off-hand weapon after the first hit was with a two-handed weapon. You swing, you let go of the glaive as a free action and hit a second time, then grab the glaive again as a free action. You could technically even hit with the gauntlet axe on the backswing from the glaive without even letting go. You're most definitely wielding both weapons.

In any case, this character has sufficient drawbacks from the feat-intensive road to get his particular trick working that it is not an unbalanced character. He is a defender with pitiful defenses drawing lots of heat, he wouldn't last two rounds in combat without a dedicated healer. He's really just an interesting exercise in TheOp.
I wouldn't really call it abuses...

I'm told the Essentials Expertise feats were released around the same time as Arena Training and likely had the benefits in mind. After all, it's reasonable to assume Heavy Blade Expertise applied to a light blade would still give you +2 against opportunity attacks, or Bludgeon Expertise applied to an axe would still add an extra slide or push. Taken with a restricted view, with just the +1/2/3 to attack, it's a trap of a fighter talent - it would severely restrict your character options while only saving you a single feat.

The extra reach from Staff Expertise is hardly excessive. Summer Sentinals get it automatically, minotaurs and goliaths both have racial PPs that do it, I even built a whole guide around it (in my sig, if you're interested) that can leave a character with permanent reach 5. It's hardly gamebreaking, especially since Polearm Gamble still only applies to enemies moving adjacent.

As for the wielding issue, I see no practical limitation to attacking with an off-hand weapon after the first hit was with a two-handed weapon. You swing, you let go of the glaive as a free action and hit a second time, then grab the glaive again as a free action. You could technically even hit with the gauntlet axe on the backswing from the glaive without even letting go. You're most definitely wielding both weapons.

In any case, this character has sufficient drawbacks from the feat-intensive road to get his particular trick working that it is not an unbalanced character. He is a defender with pitiful defenses drawing lots of heat, he wouldn't last two rounds in combat without a dedicated healer. He's really just an interesting exercise in TheOp.



No.  The Arena Training stuff was released with Dark Sun, which was (supposedly) written and designed separately from Essentials.
My statement still stands. It works RAW, and it works just fine RAI - it's not unbalancing or game-breaking or completely illogical. Even having a gauntlet axe have reach makes as much sense as any heavy thrown magic weapon returning to your hand immediately after being thrown.
By extension of your interretation of the rules, an Arena Fighter could select Staff and Spiked Chain with spiked chain training and Staff expertise to obtain a +3 proficiency 2d4 light blade double weapon with +2 reach?

Likewise, a Scout who wants to gain the benefits of spinning axe style (+2 damage) while still benefiting from all of the light-blade feat support could wield 2 rapiers and an axe gauntlet, while still attacking with both rapiers, since he's "wielding" both the axe and the rapier in his off-hand?

Or do you think the "able to wield two weapons in one hand" ruling only applies to two-handed weapons?

What about stout and versitile weapons?  Are all double weapons (since they all have the stout property) wieled as a two-handed weapon when dual wielded and thus feats that require a two-handed weapon to use apply on all primary weapon attacks?
By extension of your interretation of the rules, an Arena Fighter could select Staff and Spiked Chain with spiked chain training and Staff expertise to obtain a +3 proficiency 2d4 light blade double weapon with +2 reach?

Yes. Isn't that cool? You could do the same thing by being Goliath and going Stoneblessed or Minotaur and being Beastblooded. You could do it with one less feat by not using it as a double weapon, it'd still be a +3 proficiency 2d4 light blade with reach 3.

Likewise, a Scout who wants to gain the benefits of spinning axe style (+2 damage) while still benefiting from all of the light-blade feat support could wield 2 rapiers and an axe gauntlet, while still attacking with both rapiers, since he's "wielding" both the axe and the rapier in his off-hand?

I hadn't thought of that. It's interesting, and might actually work, except you'd have to be a fighter (hybrid fighter does not have arena training as an option) AND get the scout class feature, so I'm not sure you could make that happen. You might be able to argue that even though the gauntlet axe has the off-hand property it is not actually in your off hand, so it would satisfy the requirements for twin strike (two melee weapons) but not spinning axe (in your off hand). So, maybe.

Or do you think the "able to wield two weapons in one hand" ruling only applies to two-handed weapons?

I'm not sure what you're referring to. Please explain?

What about stout and versitile weapons?  Are all double weapons (since they all have the stout property) wieled as a two-handed weapon when dual wielded and thus feats that require a two-handed weapon to use apply on all primary weapon attacks?

I'm not entirely clear on the difference between double, two handed and stout weapons, so I can't really argue here. I don't think you can dual wield two two-handed weapons, for certain.



I'm not entirely clear on the difference between double, two handed and stout weapons, so I can't really argue here. I don't think you can dual wield two two-handed weapons, for certain.


 I hadn't thought of that. It's interesting, and might actually work, except you'd have to be a fighter (hybrid fighter does not have arena training as an option) AND get the scout class feature, so I'm not sure you could make that happen. You might be able to argue that even though the gauntlet axe has the off-hand property it is not actually in your off hand, so it would satisfy the requirements for twin strike (two melee weapons) but not spinning axe (in your off hand). So, maybe.  



This has nothing to do with the Arena feat, rather it has to do with your assertion that a character can wield a gauntlet axe in their "off" hand while also wielding a two-handed weapon in both hands.  Since this interpretation of the rule says that I can be using gauntleted hand to wield both the axe gauntlet AND another weapon, a Scout with a gauntlet axe and two rapiers should be able to make attacks with both rapiers while still qualifying for the damage bonus for wielding an off-hand axe.

The extension to the double weapons, which all have the stout property, allowing them to be used as a two-handed weapon (or versitile weapons, which gain a +1 damage bonus when wielded two-handed) would be that you can use them as two-handed (applying any feats or abilities that only apply to two-handed weapons) while still using their secondary end as a off-hand weapon.

You could do it with one less feat by not using it as a double weapon, it'd still be a +3 proficiency 2d4 light blade with reach 3. 

true, but then you can't use an additional feat to pick up the Spiked Ward as a level 6 daily utility to gain threatening reach for the encounter and threaten a 7x7 area of the map or pick-up two-weapon warrior powers that allow you to attack multiple foes who are widely spread.
One note I'm not sure you addressed - "even though the gauntlet axe has the off-hand property it is not actually in your off hand, so it would satisfy the requirements for twin strike (two melee weapons) but not spinning axe (in your off hand)". Would that still be a valid argument?

In any case, there's several different things going on here. One is a RAW argument, which I still think is sound - it's the fault of the writers to create a poorly worded item like Gauntlet Axe, and the job of TheOp to make it work to our advantage until it gets erratad. The other is the balance issue - which I still think isn't terrible, since reach is easy to get if that's what you're looking for and wielding a polearm in for half of your two-weapon attacks won't break the game. You can make your logic a bit more fuzzy and apply it to new and creative exploits, but I think my build doesn't do that yet - it's neat, it's a one-trick pony that'd have its butt handed to him two rounds into combat, but as a proof of concept I think it's shiny.

In conclusion, Chain Ward is awesome.
While I agree that extending the reach of the polearm (or spiked chain) via the arena fighter talent is RAW, but I believe it is likely an unintended oversight resulting from seperate groups working on different aspects of the game in parallel, I disagree with your interpretation that you can fullfill the requirements of Twin Strike (wielding 2 melee weapons) with a Polearm and a Gauntlet Axe.

This comes down to the question:  Can you be "wielding" the gauntlet axe AND wielding another weapon in that same hand at the same time?  My assersion here is no.  While you can be holding another item or even weapon in the hand with the axe gauntlet, you can't be wielding both at the same time.

The description of the Gauntlet Axe only says "it turns the forearm into an axe while keeping the hand free"  I understand you're interpreting that as saying that you can wield the gauntlet axe AND another weapon in the same hand (since the polearm needs both hands to wield) but it doesn't actually say that anywhere.  The general rule is that you can only be wielding 1 weapon in a hand at a time, and in the absence of a specific rule to override the general, the general still applies.
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