So I'm supposed to play a defender...

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Okay, so, here's the skinny.

I'm currently playing in a group of four players, and since there were four of us, we decided we'd take the opportunity to have a party made up of one character from each role. Being the nice guy I am, I let everybody else pick what role they wanted to play first. It also helps that I'm pretty much willing to try any given class at least once.
So long story short, I get assigned the role of Defender. I make up a cavalier, we start playing, everything's going great...Until a super difficult combat encounter. Said encounter was almost a TPK, and as it was, ended up killing three of our four characters, my cavalier among them.
So the other two characters who died (our leader and controller) decided to switch roles between themselves, meaning that I'm still the defender.
Our party now consists of a human ranger, an eladrin bladesinger, a tiefling bard, and my mul fighter. But the thing is, after a couple of encounters... I just don't like the feel of the fighter class. Something about it just rubs me the wrong way. SO, with that in mind, I'm looking for other options. I'd love to hear any suggestions you guys have for interesting, fun, or unique defender builds.
Hmm, well, as far Defenders go, there's different styles of Defender.

Lock em down Defender-Fighter(ponding your amrked target and mostly keeping them from doing anything but hitting you)
Follow them wherever they go Defender-Battlemind(marking them and chasing after them when they shift, when a mark is violated, you make them take as kuch damage as they dealt)
Mark and forget Defender-Paladin(marking an enemy/enemies and they automatically take damage if they violate your mark)
Defend from a distance-Swordmage(teleporting in t smack them for violating or reducing damage dealt for violating...there is a third, but it's not veery good)
"Something that rubs you the wrong way" isn't much for us to go on, in the way of suggesting defenders you might like. I mean, the Fighter class has tons of different ways to play it, seeing how it's the best supported defender of them all. 

I can only tell you what I like, so here goes:

Warden: practically indestructible, and can be built to do A LOT of damage (think Earthstrength Warden with Crippling Crush). Not as good at limiting enemy actions as other defenders, but I ensure you you'll be the last man standing. 

Swordmage: an unusual defender style: mark and move away to another target. The class has some really awesome immediate action powers and is one of the most mobile defenders there is.

Brawling Fighter: pound one guy into the ground, then move on to the next one. Can also be built to do a lot of damage. 

And some more offbeat builds:
- Paladin|Warlock hybrid
- Swordmage|Warlock hybrid
- Battlemind|Swordmage hybrid

Playing a defender can require a real shift in your thinking from playing other roles.   You really have to get into it to enjoy it.  

The first thing is to look at what your primary goal is in combat.  To me, that goal is to make trying to hit the most heavily armor character the best option for as many enemies as possible.  You are there to keep the other characters from getting hit, to defend them.  So any time an enemy attacks you, rather than your allies, you are doing your job.  Sometimes it feels like you are really getting pounded on, but once you get that when that happens you are actually winning as a team, it's all good.  

You also have to get that a defender is also a special kind of controller.  You place conditions on you enemies to get them to do what you want, and punish them when they don't do that.  The different defender classes determine how you do it, and they can all be very different.  

My first session playing a defender was very rough.  I was totally frustrated.  But afterward, I went back a focus my thinking on who my character was in the party and what I need to do for the team.  After that it became very tactically satisfying.  Where to position my character, which enemies to mark, how can I help set up my allies to be able to really hurt the enemies.  When my focus became reducing the options and opportunity for as many enemies as possible every round, I was having a ball.

Since then I have a real love for defenders.  Battlemind is my favorite, followed by warden and paladin.  I'd love to try out swordmage, since they work a bit different.  Although, I have to note that when I don't play a defender, I will only take a controller or leader, never a striker.  I particularly like sentinel druids, since I can get HP, surges, and AC like a defender and the animal companion gives me option to lock down a battlefield by filling another square and putting condition on the enemies with the aura.  A sentinel with a 20 Con rivals the warden as a tank.

But maybe its not the role that's bothering you, but other options for the character.  One the the things I hate about defenders is the lack of options for skills.  Fewer trained skills and crappy class skill lists.  Many defenders can feel useles out of combat, particularly if your stats are all built toward STR and CON... particularly a fighter.  You become worthless for knowledge checks and social checks, and uninvolved in skill challenges that can focus on skills when you are untrained and have low ability modifiers.  Some defenders (swordmage and paladin particularly) are easier to build to get some useful skills than others.  You really have to make some choices when building a defender to get one or two useful skills.  Athletics and Endurance are kinda traps.

Either way, think about you character as part of a team with a very specific job to do within that team.  Its a dirty job and you will put yourself at great risk, but it will make life a lot easier for the rest of the party.  They should be thanking you and showing you great appreciation.  



I have found the most fun way to play a defender is generally to charge in at the most dangerous looking enemy or to go after the most dangerous looking group and try to attack and mark all of them.  Even be willing to provoke some OAs if it will get you next to more enemies.  You can take the hits the vast majority of the time.  Usually I do this with a str/wis paladin or wildblood warden, but I have done it when playing an arena fighter as well.

Its refreshing to not have to worry as much about getting hit like when I am playing a leader or striker.  Its not quite playing the PC in a reckless manner, but if you are willing to not worry much about your PC dieing or at least getting close to dieing then defenders can be a lot of fun.

Swordmage if you want a defender.  They are pretty fun.
Thanks for all the advice guys. I think next time I need to go for a defender, I'll try a swordmage, since that seems to be the most suggested class. For right now though, as it turns out, we might have a fifth guy joining the group who loves playing tanky characters, so I might not have to be the defender anymore.

I have a Cavalier|Fighter in LFR who is now level 3.  He's fun to play but his defenses need some work. 

What is it that you don't like about the Fighter?

Yeah, one of my players is playing a Defender, and it is a badge of honor for him to get the crap kicked out of him ;) His guy in general is played as a man beaten down by the world on a daily basis, but who gets up in the morning as a giant middle finger to everyone who'd like to see him stay in bed.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you're trying different defender classes and they aren't working, maybe the defender role just isn't for you. While covering all the roles is recommended, it's not a strict requirement. If no one wants to play a defender, then your group just doesn't have a defender. You guys can still get by.
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As others have said: swordmage plays the least defendery of a defender class.

If just standing and banging is the reason a fighter feels boring to you, you might check out Beowulf, which can be a fun controllery/tactical build.

The goal of this build is to be a lockdown Defender. To accomplish this, it employs an unorthodox but powerful strategy, which is to grab his opponent and force him to stay adjacent. To successfully pull this off, it raises its Fortitude defense to soaring heights, and also employs the Brawling Fighter's excellent free hand fighting style. Toss in a way to suppress teleportation and it's pretty apparent no one is getting away from this Fighter once he's established a hold.

This build's tactics are generally to rush in (via a high spot on the initiative order) and lock down an opponent via a grab power. Then, it employs other powers to knock the enemy prone and drag him across the battlefield, either to set him up for your allies to take down or so you can engage another enemy and lock him down as well. Don't think it's all about control here, though: the Brawler power line actually has a few offensive gems available to it, so you can enjoy punching your opponent in the face.

It really is fun to grab someone, hold them, drag them across the battlefield, then attack someone else.

Strong Belwas (inspired by the character from GoT is also a fun fighter build).

The goal of this build is to be a versatile Defender. To accomplish this it employs a wide variety of fighter powers. Using the Gauntlet Axe as an off-hand weapon allows access to powers that require a free hand or a weapon in each hand and combines nicely with the brawling style to keep its defenses respectable. Toss in the damage bump from the Pit Fighter paragon path and you have a character that can make things very tough on his enemies. 
The build's tactics are adaptable. Need to multimark? No Problem. Need to drag an enemy to a better position? On it. Need to kill this enemy faster? Gothca covered.

I had the opposite reaction: Fighter (weapon&shield) was great fun. Not as much damage as the strikers were dishing out, but thanks to me the rogue had a flank-partner. And marking as a free-bee--all you have to do is attack it, and hit or miss, the target is marked. Now, there is a bit of work separating what is a fighter-challenge attack, and what is an opportunity attack, but it is very effective. My dwarf fighter is now lvl23, and dazes whenever he hits with most of his attacks. If the target moves away from you, opportunity attack (and if you hit, it stops movement, and has to either spend another action to move away, or stays right next to you). If it shifts (unless it has one of those cheating powers that lets it ignore OAs, you get to try to hit it anyway. In another game we have a brawling fighter, who is also very effective. Both are Dwarves--maybe that's a better fighter race?

On the other hand, I hated the battlemind. After 2 sessions, I had no further interest in playing him, and he retired.

I did get to see a swordmage at work a couple of times, and it was effective (and annoyed the DM--always fun).

What build are you using for your fighter? What is it that isn't working for you?
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