Sentinel druid build: looking for advice

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Hello CharOp, one of my players decided to play a sentinel druid and I want to help him build an effective character. Here's his build right now:


====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Redgard, level 5
Mul, Druid (Sentinel)
Season: Druid of Spring
Druid Wilderness Knacks Option: Beast Empathy (Druid)
Druid Wilderness Knacks Option: Herb Lore (Druid)
Versatile Expertise Option: Versatile Expertise (Hammer)
Versatile Expertise Option: Versatile Expertise (Totem)
Born of Two Races Option: Dwarf
Inherent Bonuses

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 12, CON 19, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 19, CHA 8

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 12, CON 16, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 16, CHA 8


AC: 21 Fort: 19 Ref: 15 Will: 17
HP: 56 Surges: 12 Surge Value: 14

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +7, Insight +11, Nature +11, Perception +11

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Arcana +2, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +1, Dungeoneering +6, Endurance +7, Heal +8, History +2, Intimidate +1, Religion +2, Stealth +2, Streetwise +3, Thievery +2

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Mul Racial Power: Incredible Toughness
Druid Attack: Combined Attack
Cleric Utility: Healing Word
Druid Attack 1: Dynamic Assault
Druid Attack 1: Summon Pack Wolf
Druid Utility 2: All-Encompassing Nature
Druid Attack 5: Life Blood Harvest

FEATS
Level 1: Dwarven Weapon Training
Level 2: Toughness
Level 4: Versatile Expertise

ITEMS
Adventurer's Kit
Light Shield x1
Hide Armor x1
Totem
Craghammer x1
====== End ======



I'm trying to convince him to drop Dynamic Assault and take Fire Hawk instead. Also, I'm not sure what MC would be best for this character. Shaman looks sweet, with the extra companion and the Mending Spirit feat. Cleric has an incredible feat support for healing word, though: Dwarf Battle Priest, Shielding Word, Gambler's Word, Reactive Healing, Supreme Healer, Shared Healing... so much stuff!

What do you think?

EDIT: something to keep in mind, my campaign uses a tweaked version of inherent bonuses (more/higher bonuses) but magic items are all very rare and unique, and all homebrewed by me. So let's not talk about published magic items.
Encourage your player to play something else is the best advice any of us can give, as Sentinels are without question or peerage, the worst leader in the game.

Barring that, its a sentinel, so trying to optimize it is both fairly rudimentary and meaningless. Just pick the decent non-Beastform powers and you're done.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Yeah, the lack of encounter power choice and enabling is obviously painful. I tried to talk him into playing a shaman (which is quite similar in both concept and style to the sentinel), but he doesn't like it. Are the MCs I mentioned worth it, at least? 
You lack encounter powers, leader dailies, have subpar at-wills, for nothing in return. You literally have 2 encounter heals and that pretty much it. The MCs are ok, but don't salvage the class.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
What is it about the sentinel that has your player so enthralled then?

The animal companion can done through the Fey Beast Tamer theme, and put on an actual useful leader who still has the enconuter heals, but real choice in power selection.

Bargle wrote:
This is CharOp. We not only assume block-of-tofu monsters, but also block-of-tofu DMs.
 

Zelink wrote:
You're already refluffing, why not refluff to something that doesn't suck?
Hybrid sentinel at least gets to pick from druid encounter powers and doesn't really lose that much.

They can hybrid well with shaman, warlord, or cleric.  And probably with artificer or runepriest, but I am not sure about those two since I have not looked that close at those two.  Cleric or lazy warlord would probably be the simplest to hybird with.
Encourage your player to play something else is the best advice any of us can give, as Sentinels are without question or peerage, the worst leader in the game.

Barring that, its a sentinel, so trying to optimize it is both fairly rudimentary and meaningless. Just pick the decent non-Beastform powers and you're done.

IMO, they are a bit underated.

Yes, they are a poor class, and certainly the worst leader, but if you consider them a hybrid leader|controler, they can be put into most home games* without issue.

*assuming no one else does much optimizing. 

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.

I'm playing a hybrid Sentinel|Cleric and it's extremely effective from levels 1-5. You end up with close to defender level AC, you have great control options and leader options (especially since you have all the healing word support from cleric which also works with the sentinel healing word). I went for the wolf since it's pretty much +2 to hit for the party.

I don't really see it slowing down either, it looks to have solid options all the way to 30.
So they hybrid well with other leaders? Nice, didn't think about that. I'm going to experiment with hybrid builds, then, and see what I can get.
I'm playing a hybrid Sentinel|Cleric and it's extremely effective from levels 1-5. I went for the wolf since it's pretty much +2 to hit for the party.



Stardock has it right. Spring Sentinel/Battle Lore Cleric out of the box. Your rogue will love you.

Magic Stones is one of the best multi-target at-wills. The Wolf Companion (and Seed of Healing) has excellent scaling.
Rogues should have auto CA.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Chalk up another vote for Sentinel|Cleric hybrid.  They're way better than straight Sentinel with pretty much all the flavor kept intact.  Cleric has such a wide array of decent powers that you can really make some fun builds. 

Will it out-CharOp a warlord?  Nope.  But it's fun to play and way better than straight Sentinel.
Quick question about hybrid bear druid/ranger builds. When I build one on the builder and take the staff fighting feat to make the staff a two sided weapon, why do I not get the d12's for each side? The feat says d8's but the sentinel build supersedes it to d12's. Is it a glitch or a thinking error on my part?
By RAW, if you do use a staff as a double weapon through staff fighting, each end does 1d8.  It does not matter what damage you would do with the staff normally, the feat sets the damage as 1d8.  Therefore the damage on a staff as a double weapon is 1d8/1d8 while as a double weapon it is 1d12.

Staff
Two-handed weapon or double weapon
Damage: d12 or 1d8/1d8
Prof: +2

Staff fighting does not interfer with the sentinel feature which states you can use a staff as 1d12.
Quick question about hybrid bear druid/ranger builds. When I build one on the builder and take the staff fighting feat to make the staff a two sided weapon, why do I not get the d12's for each side? The feat says d8's but the sentinel build supersedes it to d12's. Is it a glitch or a thinking error on my part?



Hybrid Sentinel only gets the Animal Companion, not the weapon bonuses.
Yeah the weapon bonuses were in the original Sentinel hybrid, but errata took them out.  I'm not sure if the errata ever hit the builder though.

Thanks for the great feedback, guys! I built a sentinel/cleric MC shaman, I'm pretty confident my friend will like it. He'll probably want to take combined attack instead of call forth the spirit pack, though.

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Redgard, level 5
Mul, Druid (Sentinel)/Cleric
Season: Druid of Spring
Versatile Expertise Option: Versatile Expertise (Hammer)
Versatile Expertise Option: Versatile Expertise (Holy Symbol)
Hybrid Cleric Option: Battle Cleric's Lore
Born of Two Races Option: Dwarf
Inherent Bonuses

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 12, CON 19, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 19, CHA 8

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 12, CON 16, DEX 12, INT 10, WIS 16, CHA 8


AC: 22 Fort: 18 Ref: 14 Will: 18
HP: 51 Surges: 12 Surge Value: 12

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +8, Insight +11, Nature +11, Perception +11

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +3, Arcana +2, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +1, Dungeoneering +6, Endurance +8, Heal +8, History +2, Intimidate +1, Religion +2, Stealth +3, Streetwise +3, Thievery +3

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Mul Racial Power: Incredible Toughness
Cleric Utility: Healing Word
Shaman Feature: Call Spirit Companion
Shaman Feature: Spirit's Fangs
Shaman Feature: Speak with Spirits
Druid Attack 1: Fire Hawk
Cleric Attack 1: Singing Strike
Druid Attack 1: Call Forth the Spirit Pack
Cleric Attack 1: Moment of Glory
Druid Utility 2: All-Encompassing Nature
Cleric Attack 3: Death Surge
Druid Attack 5: Life Blood Harvest

FEATS
Dwarven Weapon Training
Level 2: Spirit Talker
Level 4: Versatile Expertise

ITEMS
Adventurer's Kit
Mordenkrad x1
Holy Symbol x1
Scale Armor x1
====== End ======

Does it look decent?
 

If healing isn't too much of a problem, you should look at Summon Toad or Summon Wolf for your L1 Daily.
Well in fact he did like summon wolf a lot... he'll probably pick it anyway 
Summon wolf works really nicely with the wolf companion. Also, I might suggest taking a 20 post racial in wisdom unless he's planning on being frontline all the time. Wis does a lot more for him than Con in most cases.

Even if he is planning on frontline all the time, a 16 post racial Con + being a mul helps a lot with survivability. 
Hmm yeah, it's heavy armor now so Con is no longer needed for AC, and Dex and Str aren't really necessary for this character. More accuracy, on the other hand...thanks for the tip! ;)
Keep in mind the surges from a good CON might still be needed to keep the animal companion going.  It can vary depending on how much your DM likes to attack it or use area attacks.  But yeah it's hard to turn down some extra WIS.  Just keep CON decent.
You have a 19 wisdom and a 19 con? You should have even numbers.
Put your Wis at 20 and Con at 16.
You have a 19 wisdom and a 19 con? You should have even numbers.
Put your Wis at 20 and Con at 16.



He only has odd numbers because he's at level 5, so he got bumps at level 4. He started with an 18 in each.

It should be 21 and 17 now. 
Keep in mind the surges from a good CON might still be needed to keep the animal companion going.  It can vary depending on how much your DM likes to attack it or use area attacks.  But yeah it's hard to turn down some extra WIS.  Just keep CON decent.


In fact, I'm the DM  I'm just helping one of my players build an effective character. I tend to use monsters with aoe attacks, but nothing excessive, really, and since the group already has an earthstrenght warden, a shielding swordmage and a berserker barbarian I think this character might afford a 16 in Con.

heres a lil something from a couple years ago that i never got a chance to play. sentinel druid|beastmaster ranger/mc shaman. 2 wolf companions and a spirit wolf, Princess mononoke!
Here's the final build. Some choices (like combined attack or all-encompassing nature) might not be optimal, but my friend wanted them for RP reasons. We already tested this build in a couple of fights, and it seems effective: good defenses, HP and healing surges, good accuracy, decent healing and most of all, it is really devastating against enemy artillery (firehawk + wolf + spirit companion).


====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Redgard, level 5
Mul, Cleric/Druid (Sentinel)
Season: Druid of Spring
Hybrid Cleric Option: Battle Cleric's Lore
Born of Two Races Option: Dwarf
Inherent Bonuses

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 11, CON 17, DEX 10, INT 10, WIS 21, CHA 8

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 11, CON 14, DEX 10, INT 10, WIS 18, CHA 8


AC: 22 Fort: 17 Ref: 13 Will: 19
HP: 49 Surges: 11 Surge Value: 12

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +7, Insight +12, Nature +12, Perception +12

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Arcana +2, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +1, Dungeoneering +7, Endurance +7, Heal +9, History +2, Intimidate +1, Religion +2, Stealth +2, Streetwise +3, Thievery +2

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Mul Racial Power: Incredible Toughness
Cleric Utility: Healing Word
Druid Attack: Combined Attack
Shaman Feature: Call Spirit Companion
Shaman Feature: Spirit's Fangs
Shaman Feature: Speak with Spirits
Cleric Attack 1: Sonnlinor's Hammer
Druid Attack 1: Fire Hawk
Druid Attack 1: Summon Pack Wolf
Druid Utility 2: All-Encompassing Nature
Cleric Attack 3: Hammering Wind
Cleric Attack 5: Inspire Fervor

FEATS
Level 1: Dwarven Weapon Training
Level 2: Spirit Talker
Level 4: Mighty Crusader Expertise

ITEMS
Scale Armor x1
Adventurer's Kit
Mordenkrad
Holy Symbol x1
Execution axe x1
====== End ======

Thanks to everyone for the help, and if you have more advice for later levels (or if there are obvious mistakes in the build to point out) I'll be grateful  


 
You have a 19 wisdom and a 19 con? You should have even numbers.
Put your Wis at 20 and Con at 16.



He only has odd numbers because he's at level 5, so he got bumps at level 4. He started with an 18 in each.

It should be 21 and 17 now. 



I'd go for 20 and 18.

If he's building it to first start play at level 5, then the primary stats at that level should be even numbers. The only two reasons I see for having odd numbers are, (1) you need 13, 15, or 17 for a specific feat, or (2) you are one level away from a bump (level 3, 7, etc.).
Sonnlinor's Hammer with CHA of 8?

Switch STR 11 and CHA 8 since CHA will probably come into play more often (riders maybe).
If you go 20/18 from my post above, you'll have a couple more points to pump into CHA as well.
Sonnlinor's Hammer with CHA of 8?

Switch STR 11 and CHA 8 since CHA will probably come into play more often (riders maybe).
If you go 20/18 from my post above, you'll have a couple more points to pump into CHA as well.


Well, basically we completely ignored the rider. It was chosen to have an effective MBA, sparing a feat. Do you think it's a bad idea?

No, its not a bad idea at all. A Wis MBA is very valuable, ignore da_duke.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
The WIS MBA is a good idea. I didn't mean to insinuate that it wasn't. 

I just don't understand why you would have 11 in STR instead of in CHA.

How often will this character need to use strength?
I doubt as often as charisma. 
The WIS MBA is a good idea. I didn't mean to insinuate that it wasn't. 

I just don't understand why you would have 11 in STR instead of in CHA.

How often will this character need to use strength?
I doubt as often as charisma. 


We put 11 STR to qualify for plate proficiency in epic. I know, it's only +1 CA at epic, but since CA is usually the most targeted defense we thought it might be worth it.

EDIT: double checking right now and plate prof requires 15 STR, so putting a 11 is indeed useless, with the exception of encumbrance (which we usually don't bother tracking unless people try to do crazy things).

11 in CHA, then.  
I think this is one of those times the char op people don't know what they're talking about.  Most posters in the char op forum optimize their characters for higher levels and don't play in the lower heroic tier (or so it seems).  A lot of the builds posted not only don't work well in the lower tier, but stronger classes are often overlooked.  Sentinels are one of the, if not the, most effective leaders in the lower heroic tier by far.  The OP's character looked better orginally but only needed some small tweaks.

I'd stick with 18con/18wis.  For feats I'd take toughness, staff expertise and the third choice is yours.  Toughness for extra bear hps, staff expertise for reach (helps to also be behind the bear out of melee, OA's with reach 1 is very good), as a third feat consider more healing surges, I'll be trying out Shaman but have yet to play a session at level 4.  For an at-will I went with grasping tide, I've found it's the strongest at-will and taking grasping tide allows the group to not need a controller (we play with 4 players).  I'm also a big fan of the goodberries utility power (I give it to our defender as a standing order after each extended rest).

I use the bear's standard attack as my primary attack (d12+8 damage) and grasping tide against minions or when I want to exert some control on the battlefield.  The downside of Sentinels are magic items, none really benefit the pet so I chose all defensive items.   The synergy of feats + magic items complementing each other (such as charging for regular druids) is missing for Sentinels so the class will get weaker as you progress. 

d12+8 pet damage at level 1 is very good damage, but another problem with Sentinel Druids is the pet damage doesn't scale well.  The defenses are weak (but who cares really, it's there to soak damage) and the +hit scales at 1/level which is great.  Sentinel Druid starts off overpowered and as you level it gets weaker, at level 5 you should still be doing well but it'll be the start of the decline. 

From levels 1-4 (I'm currently 4 in our campaign) I'm regularly told my character is overpowered.  Our DM is still trying to figure out how to counter the bear to increase the difficulty of the encounters.  In one session he tried repeatedly attacking/killing the bear and the group took no damage, I could easilly resummon the bear and with my high hps it can typically take 2 hits.  In another he tried ignoring it and the +2 defenses was a great bonus for the group, everyone typically crowds around it for the bonus.

Mike, let's go over a few points.

1. The Sentinel is terrible compared to any other leader.
2. One good at-will does not a controller make.
3. You have 18 CON you don't need Toughness. Gracious. MC Warlord for the mini Resourceful Presence.
4. You are told your character is overpowered because your DM has very low system mastery, not because your Sentinel is overpowered. Any encounter that involves meaningful amounts of AoE damage will ruin your day.