Then came Flail Expertise, an easy-to-use feat that can prone at-will with minimal support. Yay!
At first I thought this would push PM and WSG aside and drive all prone builds to flails, but under closer analysis I've realized that's far from being the case. We'll see a lot of flail builds pop up (because frankly the feat is damn cool), but WSG and PM offer some very important features that FE does not! After all, FE is limited to melee weapon attacks, and you must use a flail. This excludes magic casters, ranged builds, and hammer/polearm fun.
I plan on putting this analysis in the top post of my handbook, but I figured it's a good thing to discuss with the community first. You guys will point out things I miss.
So , without further ado, here's my analysis:
- Must use a Flail
- Must hit with an attack
- Melee attacks only (no close, area or ranged)
- Weapon attacks only (power must have weapon keyword)
- Must slide opponent (you knock them prone instead)
- No stat or class requirements
World Serpent's Grasp
- Must hit with an attack
- Enemy hit must be slowed or immobilized at the time of the hit
- Fairly difficult for most builds to pull off at-will, since it's hard to slow/immobilize a target long enough to attack again and prone.
- No class or stat requirements
- No weapon/implement requirement, and works even for powers lacking weapon/implement keyword (racial powers, class features, etc)
- No power range limitations (melee, range, area, close)
- No slide requirement (unless you're using Hindering Shield)
- Must be a fighter (multiclass/hybrid works)
- Requires Dex 15 and Wis 15
- Must use an attack (don't have to hit)
- Must use a Spear or Polearm for the attack (as a weapon or implement)
- Must push or slide 2 squares or more, usually requiring an item or feat to increase distance
- Can be used as a weapon or implement (as long as power has weapon/implement keyword)
- No power range limitations (melee, ranged, area, close), making it easy to prone crowds.
- Works on a hit or a miss, and in the effect lines of the power (so long as it's still part of the same attack action that met PM's requirements).
Single Powers or Attacks
These are at-will powers or feats that prone without needing FE, WSG or PM. They are very scattered and specific, but I include them in the comparison for completion. I include a somewhat complete list at the bottom of this guide.
- You only prone with the one specific action (i.e. one at-will power, or OAs, or charges, etc).
- These powers and feats are usually very specific to a class, such as fighter or monk. You have access to them if you're that class, or occasionally if you multiclass into it.
- They are usually very specific to whether you're using a weapon or implement. It's uncommon for these methods to work for both weapon & implement, or work without either.
- You get the range/targeting limitations they give you. It's rare for an at-will power that prones out of the box to also target multiple enemies.
- Some of these powers or feats do reduced (or no) damage with the attack, or give up some other aspect to balance them with their peers.
- If you have access to the power (i.e. you are a fighter and thus can choose Knockdown Assault), then you can take that power and prone freely with no other support. This frees up your build's feat/power/etc slots to focus on other interests.
- Often no stat requirements or other limiting factors. Again, this makes it easy to include at-will proning in your build without spending any more resources on it.
FE is limited to melee attacks with flails. Most spellcasters and ranged attackers are out, and not even close attacks will work (so no proning crowds). FE won't give you awesome prone-spamming wizards, for example. PM and WSG both work fine in this area, but they require a lot more setup (especially to do them at-will, which many WSG users don't even try to do). That's why I have a whole handbook dedicated to PM, and almost made one for WSG.
So FE is much more limited, but oh~so~much easier to get going.
Though harsh, PM's requirements are all up-front. The target doesn't need to be slowed etc, and you know up-front which powers will push/slide 2. WSG requires slowing/immobilizing a target and keeping it slowed/stuck long enough to get another hit in, but its lack of stat requirements and weapon restrictions make it an attractive option anyway.
What exciting things can be combined with these feats to make them even more awesome? I could write volumes on Polearm Momentum alone (and I have -- check my handbook). Flail Expertise has yet to be fully explored, and there's sure to be even more crazy materials to come out soon. However, we can explore a few characteristic combinations. I also have a bunch of prone-exploiting strategies in my handbook that I don't want to enumerate here, so these are but a few examples.
- I'm seeing a lot of people combine this with dragging flail to get back the slide they gave up. The repositioning is very useful.
- Lashing Flail is common too, especially for essentials classes that do nothing but basic attacks. For others, it helps prone with their charges, OAs, and defender attacks. This forced movement is very useful for repositioning, especially when intercepting an attack against an ally (such as with Combat Challenge). The prone greatly limits their options.
- Iron Star and Chainbinder are good paragon paths, and the feat line that goes with them are not bad either.
- Making a Trampling Dragon (Draconic Arrogance + Iron Vanguard) is somewhat easy, though con is not in line with flail stats. Just the draconic arrogance half is good enough though, if you wish to dump con. Note that flail builds do far more sliding than pushing, so they probably won't get as much out of this as a PM/WSG build, for example (though it's so much easier to set up with FE).
- Flail Expertise combines nicely with Hindering Shield to slow enemies. Proned and slowed enemies are quite a bit more limited in their options, especially if you slide them 2+ squares away from yourself or allies.
World Serpent's Grasp
- Any method of slowing regularly becomes WSG fodder. My favorite is a ranger using hobbling strike and multi-attack powers like twin strike.
- Hindering shield is probably the most obvious and common choice, but it inherently requires multi-attacking because HS's slow effect ends at the start of your next turn, before you can easily exploit it. It's an easy source of self-generated slowing, though. You can also have a wizard ally do lots of slowing, which is also common.
- Brawler fighters love WSG, not the least because of the Pin Down feat. Pin the poor sucker to the floor and pummel him to within an inch of his life. He must escape the grab or learn to live face-down and immobile.
- WSG's openness to weapons lends itself to using a hammer while pumping Str and Con. Then build a trampling dragon for major extra damage every time you knock prone or push. Should you find a reliable way to do this at-will and still keep the Str+Con stat synergy, it will be glorious. However, most players don't bother doing WSG at-will and just get what daily and encounter power exploitation they can -- it's often nasty enough as it is.
- Obvious options include the polearm shenanigans that come with Polearm Gamble and Forceful Opportunist. An imaginary wall around you that punishes foes (with knockback and prone) for moving adjacent does interesting things to enemy behavior.
- PM builds tend to prone on the first hit, so multi-attacks like twin strike tend to exploit prone on the second attack nicely. A multi-attacking ranger gets lots of combat advantage, for example. This also goes very well with options like Headman's Chop, Gauntlets of Brutality, and Moonstalker.
- PM's brutal stat requirements leave you with a weaker Con, but the trampling dragon method is easy to do at-will.
- Some spellcasters love PM because it's often easy to get it working with their pushing and sliding spells. This often allows proning and repositioning entire groups, even at-will (as wizard so easily does).
- Whether you are a wizard or have a wizard ally, exciting things happen when you push/slide and prone targets in an Acid Mire, Wall of Fire, or other artificial hazards.
That's enough for a first cut.
So! Comments? Corrections? Suggestions? Current favorites? Have I been fair to each feat? (I know damn well I favor PM, but I tried to give a balanced analysis) :D
As mentioned above, there are a few feats and at-will powers that let you prone at-will without using PM, WSG or FE. I list these here for convenience.
Thanks to JamesManhatten and others for assembling this list and contributing!
Fighter - Level 1 Attack - Knockdown Assault: does STR damage
Fighter - Heroic Feat - Staggering Challenge: give up damage to prone with CC attack.
Fighter (tielfing only) - Heroic Feat - Tail Trip: OA and CC prone in addition to doing full damage.
Hunter - noLevel Attack - Clever Shot: Ranged Basic
Bladesinger - noLevel Free Action - Shadow Sever: Melee Basic adds DEX damage
Wizard - Level 1 Attack - Beast Switch: full damage only melee 1 ranged
Barbarian - Epic Feat - Overpowering Charge: charges prone on hit, full damage.
Scout - noLevel Utility - Aspect of the Charging Ram: knock prone on a charge
Thief- noLevel Move - Unbalancing Trick: Melee Basic knocks prone (requires shift 2)
Monk - Level 1 Attack - Dragon's Tail: Full damage
Executioner - noLevel Attack - Bola Takedown or Quick Lunge or Whirling Kusari Gama: 1[W] damage or less
Warlord - Heroic Feat - Risky Charge: Can charge to prone on a hit, but provoke a basic attack on a miss.
Warpriest or Cleric - Level 1 Attack - Fell Strike: (Domination domain) Full damage
(note: I'm not able to find this in the compendium)
Warforged - Heroic Feat - Warforged Superiority: Prone on an OA, full damage.