The Punishing Polepally - Pushing the Straladin's Primary Defender Limits

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 The Punishing Polepally


"You have a problem with my friends? Don't even breathe in their direction, or you all
will be spending the rest of your miserable lives in pain, face down in the muck."




Credits


Litigation - for one of the greatest handbooks ever: Pillars of Faith (and Facestabs) - The Paladin's Handbook
Alcestis - for making me think about this build (and incidentally indicating the mechanics needed explaining)
Jason Englefor creating the original pic (the above has some less talented additions made by me)
Everyone posting



Introduction - A Straladin Primary Defender


[sblock Introduction]There are good reasons as to why the Straladin is generally considered a less optimal base from which to build a primary defender. Though still the best choice for certain parties and often remarkably competent at handling a dangerous opponent, in comparison to the Chaladin, the Straladin has traded defender potential for striker potential. This can be seen at the most basic level, such as the Paladin's trademark action-independent mark punishments; in comparison to the Chaladin, the Straladin's marks arrive crippled to a build chassi with limited options to improve the marks, not to mention options for defender tools to complement them.


Nevertheless, a few Straladin defender mechanics have true potential in certain combinations, sometimes effectively realized when complemented with options from another class. For example, imagine if all the Straladin's marks would also provide the triggers and the immediate interrupt MBA punishment of the Fighter's Combat Challenge power, wouldn't that create a very strong defender mechanic, capable of keeping enemies close as well as punishing those not adjacent? And what if the Straladin's OAs would also stop movement like the Fighter's Combat Superiority feature, wouldn't that be a great complement? The Punishing Polepally has the bigger, better and flashier Stormtrooper versions of these.
[/sblock]


This build isn't meant to display groundbreaking new build combinations; it's based on a potent but demanding and unusual Straladin specialization that has been available for years, though to my knowledge surprisingly rarely discussed and never exemplified in detail on CharOp. More importantly, this build reaches for the very limits of the Straladin's primary defender potential, when completed hopefully showing just how good a Straladin can be at her day job.


To further this most holy of endeavors, I humbly ask for your learned advice, critique, questions and opinions.
 


Build Concept - Mark Punishment, Control and Self Defense


The main goal of the Punishing Polepally build is to be the most effective Straladin primary defender possible. To achieve this, the build focuses on combining:



  • strong native marks (DC/DS) and marking powers for punishment-stacking, the ability to defend against numerous enemies, the unavoidable punishment and the related strong class build options

  • the "enlarged Combat Challenge" MBA mark punishment and shift trigger of the Longarm Grasp feature for the optimization-friendly punishment and superior stickiness

  • the reach, slide and knock prone properties of the Polearm Stormtrooper combo for the action-denial capacity of interrupting MBAs and the increased close combat control in general, especially with multitarget attacks

  • durability from primarily Paladin class options and triggered attack responses to enemy aggression towards self for better survivability, more frequent action-denial and maintained defender catch-22 balance


These primary defender abilities - DC/DS marks, Longarm Grasp, Polearm Stormtrooper and Self Defense - are clearly reflected in virtually every single build component as well as the build's combat mechanics and prefered tactics.


[sblock Level 1-30 Summary]
Punishing Polepally, level 30
Half-Orc, Paladin, Polearm Master, Indomitable Champion
Background Alternatives: Arcane Student Who Saw Too Much, Auspicious BirthBerserker - Follower of Kord (Perception)
Theme: Ironwrought
Deity: Kord


FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 28, CON 14, DEX 16, INT 10, WIS 26, CHA 12


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


AC: 511  Fort: 50  Ref: 42  Will: 492
HP: 223 237  Surges: 13 Surge Value: 55 59


Initiative: +27


TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +27, Endurance +22, Insight +28, Religion +20, Heal 28, Perception +28


IMPORTANT FEATURES
0 Half-Orc: Half-Orc Resilience, Swift Charge
5 Ironwrought: resist all 6 when bloodied
11 Polearm Master: Forceful Reach
16 Polearm Master: Longarm Grasp


POWERS
0   At-will: Divine Challenge, Lay on Hands 8/day
0   Encounter: Furious Assault racial, Inevitable Strike theme, Divine Mettle/Strength Channel Divinity
1   Ardent Strike, Holy Strike pally AA1
1   Divine Pursuit pally EA1  replaced lvl 13
1   Blazing Brand pally DA1 replaced lvl 15
2   Call of Challenge pally EU2
3   Winter's Edge pally EA3 replaced lvl 17
5   Arc of Vengeance pally DA5 replaced lvl 19
6   Virtue pally EU2
7   Hold Fast pally EA3 replaced lvl 23 
9   Knightly Intercession pally DA9 replaced lvl 25
10 Guiding Verse pally EU10
11 Leveraging Strike pp EA11
12 Reaching Stance pp DU12
13 Castigating Strike pally EA13
15 Avatar of Undaunted Bravery pally DA15 replaced lvl 29 
16 Shield of Discipline pally EU6
17 Mark of Terror pally EA17 replaced lvl 27 
19 Wheel of Fate pally DA19
20 Polearm Sweep pp DA20
22 Divine Aegis pally DU16
23 Champion's Call pally EA23
25 Exalted Retribution pally DA25
26 Epic Tenacity ed DU26
27 Stunning Smite pally EA27
29 Powerful Faith pally DA29
30 Unmatched Defense ed DU30


FEATS
1   Blessed Strength
2   Devout Protector Expertise3 retrained lvl 11
4   Mighty Challenge
6   Battle Awareness Athletics
8   Mark of Storm 
10 Improved Defenses
11 Polearm Momentum, Polearm Expertise3 retrained lvl 23 
12 Polearm Gamble
14 Thirst for Battle
16 Weapon Proficiency Greatspear3
18 Superior Will
20 Deadly Draw retrained lvl 21
21 Weakening Challenge, Crusading Wrath
22 Divine Mastery
23 Mighty Crusader Expertise3
24 Deadly Draw 
26 Honored Foe
28 Impaling Spear
30 Hafted Defense


ITEMS
Lightning Greatspear +6, Symbol of the Champion's Code +6, Agile Godplate Armor +6, Timeless Locket +6, Crown of Stuttered Time, Iron Armbands of Power (epic), Strikebacks, Shadow Band, Ring of the Dragonborn Emperor, Belt of Vim (epic), Rushing Cleats, Backlash Tattoo, Eberron Shard of Lightning (epic), Fragment of the Eleventh Rack (paragon), Kingslayer's Curse - Face Me, Cowards4


[sblock Notes]



  1. AC 48 while bloodied

  2. All defense values are at -2 vs. enemies not dependent on eyesight (tremorsense, blindsight etc) and thus ignore concealment

  3. Much of this retraining chain isn't strictly necessary, but optimizes defender performance during as many levels as possible. During heroic, the Polepally is best off wielding a longsword and carrying a shield for better AC and the superior Devout Protector Expertise. At level 11, the longsword must be exchanged for a polearm (halberd or glaive) and Devout Protector retrained for Polearm Expertise. Because of the Longarm Grasp feature gained at level 16, accuracy has increased value and the Polepally becomes proficient with the superior greatspear and changes weapons. Finally, at level 23, the Polepally gains Champion's Call, an implement attack which requires the retraining of Polearm Expertise into Mighty Crusader Expertise.

  4. Legendary Boon (alternative reward)[/sblock]


[/sblock]
 


The Primary Defender Mechanics


Though naturally all components of any build will affect its performance, most components in this build also combine in the distinct set of abilities mentioned above, differentiating the Polepally from the more typical Straladin. These key defender abilities and the associated build components are explained in the first section. To illustrate the mechanics of these abilities and how they combine to force opponents into catch-22 situations, simplified examples of enemy actions and the Polepally's responses are described in the second section.


[sblock The Key Defender Abilities]


Polearm Stormtrooper: Reach 2, Slide 3 and Knock Prone 


A Stormtrooper is simply a build which adds a "slide 1" effect to all of its attacks by combining the Mark of Storm feat with lightning/thunder attack powers. The Polearm version wields a reach Polearm and increases the slide to at least 2 squares and knocks hit enemies prone with most or all its attacks through the Polearm Momentum feat. Starting at level 11, the "reach 2, slide 3 and knock prone on hit" properties of this build are added to all melee attacks, and the slide and knock prone effects to all weapon burst attacks*. The Stormtrooper ability thus not only makes all the Polepally's standard action attacks significantly more powerful, but notably also all attacks made outside of his own turn. This is an effective defender tool in the Polepally's hands, often resulting in a hit enemy being robbed of its move action or even its entire turn when combined with interrupting attacks (generated by especially the Longarm Grasp feature and the Polearm Gamble feat). With a Polearm Master degree from the Stormtrooper Academy, an unusually long and flashy pointed stick and the grip of his smelly old shoes, the Polepally thus provides a better defense for his party. In addition, this classic combination gives our crusader the ability to poke several baddies at once into bad positions and/or pile them together for allies' area attacks, besides allowing for single-poking into an area almost three times as large as that of the typical short-stick Paladin.
Slide 3 lightning weapon + 1 mark of storm, +1 rushing cleats, +1 forceful reach 
*The Polepally's only non-weapon attack power is the E23 Champion's Call (slides 2: thunder keyword + 1 mark of storm, +1 rushing cleats)
 


DCC: Longarm Grasp


This level 16 feature gives the Polepally an improved version of the Fighter's Combat Challenge power, as it triggers a MBA when a marked enemy attacks an ally or shifts within 2 squares instead of only adjacent. With the Deadly Draw and Impaling Spear feats, those triggered MBAs as well as other weapon attacks also become significantly more accurate against most enemies. While limited to immediate actions, it's a powerful defender tool in a Polearm Stormtrooper's hands that makes it difficult for most nearby marked enemies to escape and/or attack allies. Together with boosted DC/DS, the Longarm ability forms the Polepally's unique combined mark which I naturally call Divine Combat Challenge, DCC (or DCS in case of a DS mark).
Weapon MBA attack: +36(38) vs. Ref / MBA damage: 2d10+26 lightning +15 lvl, +9 str, +6 enhancement, +3 proficiency, +3 expertise (deadly draw) impaling spear / MBA greatspear, +9 str, +6 enhancement, +6 IAoP, +5 shard
 


DCC: Divine Challenge and Divine Sanction


Through the Blessed Strength and Mighty Challenge feats and the Symbol of the Champion's Code, the virtually unavoidable DC/DS punishment deals close to the maximum static damage possible to any enemy marked by DCC that ignores the Polepally and attacks an ally. And in epic, the Weakening Challenge feat also cuts the triggering attack's damage in half. As the Longarm part of the DCC mark doesn't come into play until level 16, requires a roll to hit and most notably an immediate action, the boosted DC and DS keeps any and all DCC marked enemies escaping the Longarm in check, as well as slapping on a big chunk of damage to those grasped by the Longarm while trying to attack allies. Besides the lasting DCC from the Paladin class' at-will Divine Challenge power, the Polepally can apply several DCS marks per encounter and day through other powers:
¤ Ardent Strike AA1 - EoNT DCS on hit, usable with charge at-will
¤ Call of Challenge EU2 - EoNT mass DCS in burst 3 1/enc, level 2
¤ Knightly Intercession DA9 - immediate pull adjacent and attack with lasting DCS on hit 1/day, level 9-24
¤ Castigating Strike EA13 - EoNT mass DCS in burst 3 on hit 1/enc
¤ Divine Strength - lasting boosted DCS through the Crusading Wrath feat 1/enc, level 21
In every epic encounter, the Polepally may thus keep two enemies marked during the entire encounter through DC and Divine Strength, and twice also all enemies within 3 squares until end of next turn by using the Call of Challenge and Castigating Strike encounter powers. And with the Divine Mastery feat gained at level 22, the Polepally may also gain a third lasting mark or a third round of mass DCS when spending an AP.
Divine Challenge damage: 33 / Sanction damage: 24/31 9 power, +9 blessed strength, +9 mighty challenge, +6 symbol / 9 power, +9 blessed strength, +6 symbol, +7 crusading wrath


Self Defense


As DCC provides one of the stronger and more "trigger-happy" mark punishments possible in the game, the Polepally attracts a lot of enemy aggression. To handle this, he has offensive options to punish or outright void enemies' attacks, as well as defensive options to significantly decrease the attacks' effects. Some of the more important of these are powers:
¤ Polearm Gamble OA - against approaching enemy, MBA with "slideproning" 1/enemy turn, level 12
¤ Strikebacks - reaction MBA triggered by being hit 1/enc, level 10
¤ Backlash Tattoo - reaction MBA triggered when being bloodied first time 1/enc, level 9
¤ Ring of the Dragonborn Emperor - reaction re-use encounter attack triggered when being bloodied 1/day, level 15
¤ Fragment of the Eleventh Rack - reaction weaken, restrain and vulnerability 5 to all, triggered when being bloodied 1/day, level 18
¤ Exalted Retribution DA25 - on hit: save ends boosted OAs triggered by target's attacks 1/day
¤ Lay on Hands - 440 HP leaderless healing 55 HP/round, 8/day (Auspicious Birth 472/59 HP)
¤ Virtue EU2 - pro-active Lay on Hands 55 THP 1/enc, level 6 (Auspicious Birth 59 THP)
¤ Guiding Verse EU10 - minor action save on a 2+ roll 1/enc
¤ Shield of Discipline EU6 - EoNT resist all 9 1/enc, level 16
¤ Wheel of Fate DA19 - burst attack, surge-free heal on hit and lasting regeneration 8 while bloodied 1/day
¤ Divine Aegis DU16 - stance +2 boost to all defenses, also for allies within 2 1/day level 22
¤ Crown of Stuttered Time - sustainable phasing and insubstantial 1/day, level 28
In addition, the Polepally priotizes defenses and has other components to help increase overall durability, for example features and feats such as Half-Orc Resilience, Thirst for Battle, Superior Will and the Ironwrought level 5 feature.
 


Supporting Components


To increase the effectiveness of the above abilities and overall defender performance, the Polepally also notably has:
¤ Kingslayer's Curse - non-adjacent enemies' reach attacks against the Polepally receives a -2 penalty level 23
¤ High Initiative - increases enemy turns starting with enemy prone and marked in a bad position
¤ Inevitable Strike - no action, extra damage to one attack and EoNT +1 accuracy buff 1/enc
¤ Leveraging Strike EA11 - ridiculous slide 13 on hit 1/enc
¤ Champion's Call EA23 - burst 5 pull adjacent, implement attack and EoNT immobilize 1-8 marked targets on hit 1/enc
¤ Mark of Terror EA17 - EoNT stun marked target on hit 1/enc, level 17-26
¤ Stunning Smite EA27 - single target primary + secondary against enemies adjacent, EoNT stun up to 9 targets on hit vs. Will 1/enc
¤ Reaching Stance DU12 - threatening reach stance for 5x5 squares OA movement control 1/day
¤ Polearm Sweep DA20 - burst 2 weapon attack, for serious multitarget "slideproning" 1/day
¤ Powerful Faith DA29 - hit with damaging primary triggers secondary: all enemies in 10 EoNT blinded on hit vs. Fort. Hilarious... 1/day
As mentioned, the Polearm Stormtrooper ability means all of the Polepally's powers with the weapon keyword and an attack roll adds "slide 3 and knock prone" to any other hit effects the attack might have. This means especially his multitarget attacks become considerably more powerful than otherwise. A most extreme example of this is the normally relatively mediocre capstone Powerful Faith, which in the Polepally's hands become capable of blinding, re-arranging and proning every single enemy in a huge area (441 or 21x21 squares).

[/sblock]


[sblock The Mechanics in Action]
In order to demonstrate the combined effects of the above mechanics, I'll be using a few simplified examples of typical situations at the start of a marked monster's turn, a few possible monster actions and how the Polepally may respond to make each action as poor a choice as possible. Each described monster action includes one or more smileys, which corrensponds to a defender mechanic or ability (besides hinting at how the monster feels about the choice) and are detailed along with common results in the legend below. Please note that the objective of these examples is to explain the Polepally's active defender mechanics - they only include the most basic monster actions and powers (not the full potential of an epic level standard monster). See also "Not included actions/defender mechanics" below.


[sblock Smiley Mechanics Legend]
All numbers are based on the level 30 Polepally and a standard monster of equal level (AC 44, Ref 42, 50% base hit chance vs. ally AC with 4d8+20 melee), but all mechanics are in place at level 16, with the exception of the DCC weakening effect which comes into play at level 21.


Attack on ally without punishment. Best of all, of course, is having a big delicious mouthful of a tender squishy and avoid direct disciplinary actions by the Polepally.
Attacking the Polepally is rarely much worse than other options, but this choice of target means the attack is at least 37% less likely to hit (25% probability instead of 40%) and is also more likely to have its impact significantly reduced by damage resistance, THP, self-healing, immediate saves etc.
Reaction attack triggered by hitting or making the Polepally bloodied. This payback usually comes in the form of a MBA that has a 75 or 85% probability to hit and deal 40 average damage and knock the monster prone in the worst possible position within 3 squares, likely worse than the monster's attack. If the Polepally becomes bloodied, there's also a risk the payback is a more devastating encounter attack instead of a MBA. Not often a much better option than doing nothing and sometimes much worse. 
DC/DS punishment triggered by attacking ally. This may be better than not attacking at all but it's usually at least equally inefficient as attacking the Polepally and often more dangerous: the monster's penalized and weakened attack on an ally only deals 8 damage on average*, less than a third of the 29 DC/DS damage* that unavoidably punishes the monster for even trying. *40% hit chance when marked, 4d8+20 damage on hit = (.35*38) + (.05*52) 15.9, weakened average damage = 7.95. DC/DS damage is 33 and 31 with the two lasting marks or 24 with the two EoNT mass DS powers, 29 is an approximate average per round and mark.
5MBA triggered by shifting. Often a worse result than doing nothing for especially this melee oriented monster: the MBA has a 75 or 85% hit chance, deals 40 average damage, voids the triggering move action by knocking the monster prone and places the monster in the worst possible position within 3 squares, thus usually putting all targets out of range of melee attacks and maybe forces the monster to waste a standard action to stand up before ending the turn. The monster may instead attempt a ranged attack while prone at an additional -2 penalty which means a high probability of a miss, in addition to potentially triggering DC/DS as in #4 and leaving the monster prone and exposed. If the initial MBA misses, the monster may instead face result #2, 3 or 4. 
6OA triggered by moving or ranged/area attack. Worse than a shift and result #5, as an OA doesn't expend the Polepally's immediate action while still an interrupting MBA with equally devastating results plus an improved 80 or 90% base hit chance. The only potential advantage to #5 is if the OA is generated by the Polearm Gamble mechanic, as that at least means the monster has CA against the Polepally until the end of its turn (though it likely may not be able to take advantage of it). Other OAs are triggered by a monster making a ranged or area attack, or moving to attack an ally (thus potentially also triggering DC/DS as in #4 or even the full DCC load for the worst possible result as in #8).
DCC triggered by attacking ally. A worse result than #5, this means the monster run a 75 or 85% risk of receiving the full DCC punishment (both result #4 and 5), likely dealing 69 average damage as well as robbing the poor creature of its entire turn. If the monster has used its move action, this result is also likely to leave the enemy prone and not just in the worst possible position within 3 squares. Regardless of whether the MBA hits or not, the monster will still get ripped off in the damage trade of #4. 
8 OA and DCC triggered by moving (shifting) and attacking.This is virtually always worse than anything else. In any order, the monster triggers a MBA by shifting as in #5 or by moving as in #6, repeats for a second MBA (taking whichever triggering action not taken first) and attacks ally to trigger the DC/DS punishment described in #4. The worst theoretically possible is of course if an OA is triggered first and then the full DCC punishment is triggered by an attack as in #7, for a potential 109 average damage and a 99.9% risk of an utterly wasted turn. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how a monster takes home the Darwin Award of these examples.[/sblock]

[sblock A - Monster Adjacent to Polepally]
1  Attack Polepally - Less hit chance, high durability and immediate payback abilities make this a poor choice.
2  Attack ally - Triggers the full DCC mark punishment and is thus an awful choice. 
3  Shift and attack ally - This comes with similar problems as alternative #2: the Polepally's MBA may be triggered either by the shift or by the attack if the monster is within 2 squares and thus the full DCC punishment. 
4 Charge ally - This naturally triggers an OA with equally devastating effects and/or possibly the full DCC/S punishment if the monster is within two squares. 
5 Shift and charge ally - Similar to #4, but as the shift triggers a limited immediate MBA instead of an OA, this option isn't quite as bad. But if the Polepally is using the Reaching Stance, it means that if the MBA triggered by the shift isn't made or misses, the monster's charge movement will also trigger an OA with the same results.
6 Ranged or area attack - Regardless of any prior shift, move or choice of targets, this alternative likely has a 80 or 90% probability of adding an additional -2 penalty to the monster's attack roll and/or invalidate some or all targets.[/sblock]


[sblock B - Monster 2 Squares from Polepally]
1 Move/shift (charge) and attack Polepally - This action triggers an OA (move) or, in the slightly less troublesome case, an immediate MBA (shift), which means this is a much worse choice than in example A. 
2  Attack ally - This has exactly the same results as in example A.
3 Shift and attack ally - This also has the same results as in example A.
4 Move/charge and attack ally - Along with alternative #6, this is the least bad option in most cases. But if the Polepally is using the Reaching Stance, the movement triggers an OA and thus has equally poor results as in example A. 
5 Shift and charge ally - This has the same results as in example A, whith the exception that the Polepally's Reaching Stance won't trigger an OA if the Polepally's MBA triggered by the shift misses (as the monster will be out of reach after the shift).
6 Ranged or area attack - Along with alternative #6, this is the least bad option in most cases, as it usually only triggers the DC/DS punishment or potentially no punishment if the Polepally is one of the targets. But if the Polepally is using the Reaching Stance, the attack triggers an OA and thus has the exact same results as in example A.[/sblock]


[sblock C - Monster 3+ Squares from Polepally]
1 Move/shift (charge) and attack Polepally - A very bad choice, just as in example B.
Move/charge and/or attack ally - Unless any of the monster's movement or its attack is within 1 square of the Polepally (or 2 squares when the Polepally has threatening reach) and thus triggers an OA, this action "only" means the monster suffers the DS/DC punishment. Highly dependent on terrain and combatants' positions, which can often be exploited by the Polepally.
3  Ranged or area attack - An area attack which includes the Polepally is naturally the best choice as it avoids any direct penalties from being marked and most immediate payback options from the Polepally, while the other attack options comes with the usual problems.[/sblock]


[sblock Not included actions/defender mechanics]
For the sake of simplicity, I've not included several potential monster abilities (teleportation, reach, close 2+ attacks etc) that a minority of standard monsters have at-will even before epic, even though the Polepally's defender mechanics may of course significantly impact most such abilities. Likewise, most of the Polepally's limited powers and previous turns are unaccounted for, which perhaps most notably means the monster starts its turn standing up. (A far more common situation in actual play is that a marked monster starts its turn prone in the worst possible position the Polepally's previous attack could've slid it into, the monster often having a severely limited number of options to begin with.) In addition, only the mechanics with the most direct and significant impact on each monster action are detailed (ie primarily the Polearm Stormtrooper and DCC abilities).[/sblock]


[/sblock]

 



[sblock Edit History]
Aug 23: Changed Impaling Spear to Deadly Draw.
Aug 24: Changed background to Ironwrought and Strength Through Challenge to Impaling Spear. Added two alternative Path of War backgrounds. Thanks to ThatWasTotallyNinja!
Aug 26: Added pic and new heading.
Aug 30: Edited some bad wording/layout and misses from previous changes, added clarification to the "The Mechanics in Action" and a damage calculation to #4 of the legend to reduce potential misunderstandings.
[/sblock]

Test your PC builds' combat prowess and pit them against other builds at the Core Coliseum - the online D&D arena.
Seems fairly good. How are accuracy and mobility/targeting (i.e. polearm builds are good black holes; can you get the hole to a spot where it's effective)? Looks like accuracy is okay, but would benefit from Deadly Draw or some other perma-CA solution.

I'm inclined to think that Guardian or Ironwrought would be a better theme. Or Earthforger, since it helps negate forced movement (which messes with your polearm shenanigans).
Looks good. I'm very happy to see this up and running. I would also second either Ironwrought and my personal favorite the Earthforger. EF would add an ability to reduce forced movement and gives you some close burst control to further hinder the enemies actions while granting you some durability.

"Something, something, something, Darkside. Utini."

Deadly Draw seems like a good suggestion that would increase the accuracy in general as well as many MBAs to at least 85-90%. I'll try to jam that in somehow.

This build initially had the Ironwrought theme, but I switched because of two reasons: 1) the resist all is often redundant on a Pally, especially with both Strength Through Challenge and Shield of Discipline, 2) it's granted attack and bonus is relatively incapable of slideproning additional enemies in a round/encounter.

Guardian would IMO be much better (perfect) for an ally of the Polepally; he already has the theme's trademark ability to void attacks within 2, in addition to tons of triggers for immediate actions.

The choice between EF and Sohei is tough, as EF's reduction of forced movement would support the Polepally's position dependent combat style, and more importantly it's zone would be able to increase the Polepally's roadblock size/effectiveness. But IMO, the first problem with the EF in this case is that the attack is a standard action, and more importantly, an attack that should be made in the first turn and requires repositioning to take full advantage of. (Ideally, the Polepally attacks the enemy best positioned for a chokepoint and then moves outside the zone to create a larger roadblock.) This means that the attack competes for both standard actions with for example the superior Champion's Call or Stunning Smite, and with move actions in the first or second turn, both of which are already packed full with competing move or minor actions in most encounters. The second problem is that the zone prevents shifting and hinders movement - the Polepally often wants the enemy shift within 2 or move within 1, the zone promotes neither.

The reason I ultimately went with Sohei is because Flurry is much more independent of timing and terrain to be effective, in addition to better complementing the existing close burst weapon attacks that lack reach and improving the Polepally's effectiveness vs. single opponents. Had the EF attack been charge-friendly or if we were to assume the Polepally has an ally with a complementing encounter damage zone, I would probably choose EF instead.

Please let me know if you think my reasoning is off, I've only playtested the Polepally with Sohei (lvl 16 and 26). 
Test your PC builds' combat prowess and pit them against other builds at the Core Coliseum - the online D&D arena.
I see why you like Sohei. Personally, I'd still go Ironwrought to make sure your important attacks hit (like Castigating Strike, or that key first attack of Stunning Smite, or even just a Polearm Grasp MBA that saves your ally from going down). Then I'd ditch Strength Through Challenge for Deadly Draw. Patches up the chance of enemies just getting lucky.

You can roughly get the +1 to saves via the Arcane Student Who Saw Too Much background, by the way. I'd say it's worth it; up to you. These are nitpicks, it's a nice build.
I see why you like Sohei. Personally, I'd still go Ironwrought to make sure your important attacks hit (like Castigating Strike, or that key first attack of Stunning Smite, or even just a Polearm Grasp MBA that saves your ally from going down). Then I'd ditch Strength Through Challenge for Deadly Draw. Patches up the chance of enemies just getting lucky.

Ok, I'm obviously not the sharpest knife in the kitchen, but thanks to you at least the Polepally may be the sharpest spear in the fight... Offense is in many ways the best defense for this build and I'll edit accordingly.

You can roughly get the +1 to saves via the Arcane Student Who Saw Too Much background, by the way. I'd say it's worth it; up to you.

Also a good suggestion, but I'm a bit wary of explicitly campaign dependent backgrounds on CharOp builds. I think I'll put up both backgrounds as alternatives, along with my other preference Auspicious Birth.

These are nitpicks, it's a nice build.

Thanks! My aim was to make a more effective primary defender than a CoO build or a more typical Fighter such as this:

[sblock 1-H Fighter level 30 Summary]
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
1-H Fighter, level 30
Half-Orc, Fighter, Pit Fighter, Demigod
Fighter: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents: One-handed Weapon Talent
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Strength
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Wisdom
Background: Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 28, Con 15, Dex 18, Int 12, Wis 24, Cha 10.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 16, Con 13, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.


AC: 48 Fort: 47 Reflex: 46 Will: 47
HP: 217 Surges: 11 Surge Value: 54

TRAINED SKILLS
Endurance +24, Athletics +29, Intimidate +22

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +19, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +22, Heal +22, History +16, Insight +22, Nature +22, Perception +22, Religion +16, Stealth +19, Streetwise +15, Thievery +19

FEATS
Level 1: Heavy Blade Expertise
Level 2: Weapon Proficiency (Bastard sword)
Level 4: Shield Push
Level 6: Improved Defenses
Level 8: Thirst for Battle (retrained to Superior Initiative at Level 21)
Level 10: Weapon Focus (Heavy Blade)
Level 11: Marked Scourge
Level 12: Daunting Challenge
Level 14: Armor Specialization (Scale)
Level 16: Heavy Blade Opportunity
Level 18: Distracting Shield
Level 20: Ubiquitous Shield (retrained to Rapid Combat Challenge at Level 22)
Level 21: Slashing Storm
Level 22: Heavy Blade Mastery
Level 24: Martial Resolve
Level 26: Strength Through Challenge
Level 28: Epic Reflexes
Level 30: Epic Will

POWERS
Fighter at-will 1: Shield Feint
Fighter at-will 1: Tide of Iron
Fighter encounter 1: Steel Serpent Strike
Fighter daily 1: Villain's Menace
Fighter utility 2: Glowering Threat
Fighter encounter 3: Sweeping Blow
Fighter daily 5: Rain of Steel
Fighter utility 6: Kirre's Roar
Fighter encounter 7: Come and Get It
Fighter daily 9: Jackal Strike
Fighter utility 10: Clearheadedness
Fighter encounter 13: Chains of Sorrow (replaces Steel Serpent Strike)
Fighter daily 15: Unyielding Avalanche (replaces Villain's Menace)
Fighter utility 16: Interposing Shield
Fighter encounter 17: Warrior's Challenge (replaces Sweeping Blow)
Fighter daily 19: Battlefield Challenge (replaces Rain of Steel)
Fighter utility 22: Martial Supremacy
Fighter encounter 23: Warrior's Urging (replaces Come and Get It)
Fighter daily 25: Reaper's Stance (replaces Jackal Strike)
Fighter encounter 27: Indomitable Battle Strike (replaces Chains of Sorrow)
Fighter daily 29: Force the Battle (replaces Battlefield Challenge)

ITEMS
Eye of Awareness (epic tier), Steadfast Amulet +6, Foe Caller Gauntlets (epic tier), Iron Armbands of Power (paragon tier), Shadow Band (epic tier), Foe Binder Ring (paragon tier), Diamond Cincture (paragon tier), Boots of Caiphon (epic tier), Eager Hero's Tattoo (paragon tier), Stone of Earth (paragon tier), Diplomat's Scabbard (paragon tier), Dice of Auspicious Fortune (paragon tier), Solitaire (Violet) (epic tier), Agile Elderscale Armor +6, Radiant Bastard sword +6, Dragonscale Shield Heavy Shield (paragon tier), Ring of the Radiant Storm (paragon tier), Siberys Shard of Radiance (epic tier)
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[/sblock] 
Think I may have succeeded? 
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Certainly better as a defender than that fighter. The build there seems much more damage-focused (makes a decent defender/striker), whereas your paladin is pure defender.

On a small sidenote, the fighter you posted is using 2 arms slot items (a magic shield and IAoP). Only one of them can function at a time (can't remember if it's the first one you put on or the last one).
Certainly better as a defender than that fighter. The build there seems much more damage-focused (makes a decent defender/striker), whereas your paladin is pure defender.

On a small sidenote, the fighter you posted is using 2 arms slot items (a magic shield and IAoP). Only one of them can function at a time (can't remember if it's the first one you put on or the last one).


A better fighter pure defender to compare too would be Longtooth Pole-Arm Fighter and the quintessential Dwarven Hammer Fighter.

As far as the arm slot items are concerned,IIRC, you can have both equiped and choose which enchanment you are using at a particular time. So you would not recieve the passive properties of both but could use the Daily of the shield and not gain the properties of the armbands for that turn.

"Something, something, something, Darkside. Utini."

RC 276: "The character benefits from the item that was put on first; any other item put in the same item slot doesn't function until the character takes off the first one." 
RC 276: "The character benefits from the item that was put on first; any other item put in the same item slot doesn't function until the character takes off the first one." 


Okay. I really need to fully read through the RC. That seems like a wierd rules clarification. I guess that would make sense in the case of properties but as far as at-will/encounter/daily powers on items i really see no need for equiping stipulations. Oh well i guess as far as Char-OP standards the rules are the rules but for actually home game play ask your DM.

"Something, something, something, Darkside. Utini."

RC 276: "The character benefits from the item that was put on first; any other item put in the same item slot doesn't function until the character takes off the first one." 


...I realize this is a bit off-topic, but any clue if that affects Ki Foci and Magical Weapons?  Or are you able to choose on a power-by-power basis which of the properties you wish to use?
You choose on an attack by attack basis between weapon and ki focus.

That is a specific rule that is associated with a ki focus that overrides the general rule about first magic item put on.
Certainly better as a defender than that fighter. The build there seems much more damage-focused (makes a decent defender/striker), whereas your paladin is pure defender.

A better fighter pure defender to compare too would be Longtooth Pole-Arm Fighter and the quintessential Dwarven Hammer Fighter.


The Fighter wasn't made by me, it's an "Ultimate Defender" that can be found here. I agree with you and I think "Super-Scrag" is a very nice defender/striker, but I believe his primary defender effectiveness is not even close to that of the Polepally. 

As ezrider23 probably knows, the reason I first presented a basic version of this build (in another thread) was because someone made the statement "All optimized Paladins are Cha-focused" (as primary defenders) and claimed it was a fact simply because no Straladin build had been listed in the Ultimate Defenders thread (abandoned by Alphatethegreat) and that no Straladin build would be able to compete with the "UD builds". Needless to say, I think the poster is wrong both in using an old thread as proof of the Straladin's or other (sub)classes' top primary defender performance, and in claiming the Straladin would be unable to compete with UD builds.

BTW, the shield would only be a mundane Heavy Shield, its magic properties and powers inaccessible with the armbands or vice versa. I guess the shield was presented as an alternative to the armbands or simply a forgotten left-over from an earlier build version. Even if it had worked with the armbands, I don't see how it could be worth the cost of a lvl 28 item for a build already requiring several high level items.  

Planeswalker817 and Koshinuke: Which can be fun. An example I haven't seen on CharOp yet is a Stormsoul Genasi optimizing having all melee attacks as thunder and lightning by lvl 11 through Shocking Flame, adding Oncoming Storm, Echoes of Thunder and Lightning Soul for a near constant +1 accuracy and +7/+9 damage boost using any weapon (including unarmed). Add Ranger or Barbarian for melee multiattack overkill. (And perhaps MC Pally Divine Channeler, Storm Sacrifice and Tireless Wrath for an additional EoNT +19 damage boost in every epic encounter.)
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Planeswalker817 and Koshinuke: Which can be fun. An example I haven't seen on CharOp yet is a Stormsoul Genasi optimizing having all melee attacks as thunder and lightning by lvl 11 through Shocking Flame, adding Oncoming Storm, Echoes of Thunder and Lightning Soul for a near constant +1 accuracy and +7/+9 damage boost using any weapon (including unarmed). Add Ranger or Barbarian for melee multiattack overkill. (And perhaps MC Pally Divine Channeler, Storm Sacrifice and Tireless Wrath for an additional EoNT +19 damage boost in every epic encounter.)



How would said build add the thunder keyword to attacks? There are very few ways of doing that.
Hmm...I just looked at the UD thread, and yeah, that one really doesn't seem to fit in. The rest are all much better at being defenders.

I wish some of those old threads were being kept up-to-date. As far as I can tell, any builds made over the last year or so tend to just be forgotten about, because they aren't being aggregated anywhere for posterity. It's sad, because I don't see many people trying to make cool builds anymore. 
How would said build add the thunder keyword to attacks? There are very few ways of doing that.

Oh, missed listing that in my last post, sorry. The build would use the Thunderfist Ki Focus (found in Psionic Power, IIRC). It's the only item that can constantly add thunder. I think we should stop this discussion here though, as I'm not keen on derailing my thread further.

Test your PC builds' combat prowess and pit them against other builds at the Core Coliseum - the online D&D arena.
Hmm...I just looked at the UD thread, and yeah, that one really doesn't seem to fit in. The rest are all much better at being defenders.

I think it's less good, but it's not that far from for example the Kensei version "Mr. Smith". Though I haven't read all the UD builds, there seems to be quite a difference in performance between the best and the worst of them.

I wish some of those old threads were being kept up-to-date. As far as I can tell, any builds made over the last year or so tend to just be forgotten about, because they aren't being aggregated anywhere for posterity. It's sad, because I don't see many people trying to make cool builds anymore. 

Agreed. Though I think I saw Alphathegreat here a week ago or so.
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How would said build add the thunder keyword to attacks? There are very few ways of doing that.

Oh, missed listing that in my last post, sorry. The build would use the Thunderfist Ki Focus (found in Psionic Power, IIRC). It's the only item that can constantly add thunder. I think we should stop this discussion here though, as I'm not keen on derailing my thread further.




Unfortunately Thunderfist Ki Focus overwrites all other damage types, as far as I know.

I think the Building Thunder PP might allow you to add lightning though.
Hmm...I just looked at the UD thread, and yeah, that one really doesn't seem to fit in. The rest are all much better at being defenders.

I think it's less good, but it's not that far from for example the Kensei version "Mr. Smith". Though I haven't read all the UD builds, there seems to be quite a difference in performance between the best and the worst of them.

I wish some of those old threads were being kept up-to-date. As far as I can tell, any builds made over the last year or so tend to just be forgotten about, because they aren't being aggregated anywhere for posterity. It's sad, because I don't see many people trying to make cool builds anymore. 

Agreed. Though I think I saw Alphathegreat here a week ago or so.


IIRC Alpha has updated his Darth Vader build and i think LDB was going to update his builds as well. It's nice to see some new "UD" builds cropping up and other that should be considered for "UD" being reworked. Defenders are personally my favorite role in the game and deserve more and more love. It's a thankless job defending all those squishies.

Shoutouts to UPHO for this build and all his help on my Strally which i've yet to play. Thatwastotallyninja for his awesome Warden build and Darthpotater for his really great Draconic Guardian build. Also hats off to all the other Defender-OP's out there.

"Something, something, something, Darkside. Utini."

I don't think this proves that paladins can be an ultimate defender as much as it beats into the ground that dragonmarks can break anything
I don't think this proves that paladins can be an ultimate defender as much as it beats into the ground that dragonmarks can break anything

First: yes, dragonmarks can be very powerful, that's why you can't have more than one. But for example MC feats, certain races or powers can be significantly more powerful. It's the combination of synergizing build components - or rather the resulting mechanics' ability to increase combat role performance - that makes a build powerful, very rarely one or two specific elements. And as there are quite a few alternatives to Mark of Storm that enables sliding with MBAs, isn't Polearm Momentum at least as broken? And what about the ridiculously powerful Weakening Challenge? Or Superior Will that ignores the most fundamental rules concerning conditions and saves?

Second: the currently listed UDs include builds with dragonmarks as well as those without, just as other great example builds on CharOp. So IMO, dragonmarks don't even qualify as "no-brainer choices", much less as broken.

Third: there are Paladin UDs and I don't think it surprised anyone the first (and so far only) non-hybrids listed were Fighters and Pallys.

Please explain why you believe my reasoning is off.

@ Black_Knight999: Check your inbox.
Test your PC builds' combat prowess and pit them against other builds at the Core Coliseum - the online D&D arena.
I don't think this proves that paladins can be an ultimate defender as much as it beats into the ground that dragonmarks can break anything

First: yes, dragonmarks can be very powerful, that's why you can't have more than one. But for example MC feats, certain races or powers can be significantly more powerful. It's the combination of synergizing build components - or rather the resulting mechanics' ability to increase combat role performance - that makes a build powerful, very rarely one or two specific elements. And as there are quite a few alternatives to Mark of Storm that enables sliding with MBAs, isn't Polearm Momentum at least as broken? And what about the ridiculously powerful Weakening Challenge? Or Superior Will that ignores the most fundamental rules concerning conditions and saves?



Far be it for me to act as the Char Op police, but I gotta say I second Bob here. The key components to your UD claim are basically Polearm Momentum + Lightning Weapon + Mark of Storm + Polearm Master, which every defender can pull off if Mark of Storm is allowed. The only key defender ability you claim that has anything to do with being a Paladin at all is DC/DS, which is a powerful feature but hardly the key of an UD. 

In fact, I think you can claim that just about every defender can be an UD with this combination. Swordmage can mark 2 targets within Longarm Grasp range at paragon (Double Aegis) and all enemies at epic (Total Aegis), Warden marks everything after using Warden's Lure, Fighter does it after Come and Get It, and Battlemind does it natively with Battlemind's Demand. 

It's a neat build that does a good job of putting this package on a Straladin, and I thank you for researching and posting it. But it doesn't prove that Straladins can be Ultimate Defenders. It just isn't class-specific enough for that. 
It might well also be worth noting that, as long as you can find ways to mark, you can accomplish pretty much all of this build with less stat, item, and campaign-world investment using either Spiked Chain or Cahulaks, since Polearm Master only specifies a reach weapon, amusingly, not a Polearm.  You lose Polearm Gamble, sure, but you gain more versatility in that you can do it without dragonmarks, without 15 DEX/WIS, and without the second square of slide.  Polearm Master is a brilliant path, basically, for anyone who can mark and wants to defend affectively, because its entry requirements are amazingly low... 

It seems to me that, essentially, this is a PM fighter, with the added bonus of some extra punishment more than 1/round.
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 love when people add "stormtrooper" to builds and talking about how great it is. It's like a Navy SEAL team nicknamed "The French" expecting to ever be taken seriously.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
I love when people add "stormtrooper" to builds and talking about how great it is. It's like a Navy SEAL team nicknamed "The French" expecting to ever be taken seriously.



CANADIANS!
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!
Hey, TWTNinja has made a Warden primary? Recently? I've completely missed it. I'll search and go check it out. 

Far be it for me to act as the Char Op police, but I gotta say I second Bob here. The key components to your UD claim are basically Polearm Momentum + Lightning Weapon + Mark of Storm + Polearm Master, which every defender can pull off if Mark of Storm is allowed. The only key defender ability you claim that has anything to do with being a Paladin at all is DC/DS, which is a powerful feature but hardly the key of an UD.

Maybe my presentation of the build is the main culprit here, as I wanted to highlight the things that separated the Polepally from more typical Straladins, and more importantly the more complex related basic defender mechanics which are only available to a Straladin or Baladin. I see you also missed the fourth and largest part - Self Defense - which is based on Pally class features and options. Furthermore, the Polepally's performance is also largely dependent on the supporting components, especially his choice of class powers (Pally only) that improves his key defender abilities and vice versa. Hopefully these unique Pally components will be more visible and pronounced once I've put up a "Powers and Tactics" section. (BTW, there's no mentioning whatsoever about dragonmarks in the UD build criterions, which I guess is why quite a few UDs depend on them.)

In fact, I think you can claim that just about every defender can be an UD with this combination. Swordmage can mark 2 targets within Longarm Grasp range at paragon (Double Aegis) and all enemies at epic (Total Aegis), Warden marks everything after using Warden's Lure, Fighter does it after Come and Get It, and Battlemind does it natively with Battlemind's Demand.

Then I believe I've failed in explaining what makes this build a powerful defender, because it's not the Stormtrooper combo, the Longarm Grasp feature, strong DC/DS or the Self Defense. It's the combination of those abilities plus the strong class powers. And even if only looking at the three defender abilities you mentioned, it's a combination no other class may replicate, simply because only the Pally can hand out both mark punishments in the same turn. I also believe you would be grossly underestimating the level of optimization and effectiveness of most UDs by assuming the old and close to class independent Polearm combo is some kind of generic golden ticket to gain comparable defender power. And AFAIK, none of the listed UDs use the combo, despite some of them having dragonmarks as more or less vital components. But you can easily prove you're right by building say a Swordmage Polearm Master Stormtrooper capable of competing with the UD builds (or just the Polepally).

It's a neat build that does a good job of putting this package on a Straladin, and I thank you for researching and posting it. But it doesn't prove that Straladins can be Ultimate Defenders. It just isn't class-specific enough for that.

Thank you for posting and showing an interest. For the reasons mentioned above, what the Polepally does is extremely class-specific, even sub-class-specific.
Test your PC builds' combat prowess and pit them against other builds at the Core Coliseum - the online D&D arena.
All you just said was that you add Class-less defender Op w/DS. Which was exactly what svendj said made it not unique enough.
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!
It might well also be worth noting that, as long as you can find ways to mark, you can accomplish pretty much all of this build with less stat, item, and campaign-world investment using either Spiked Chain or Cahulaks, since Polearm Master only specifies a reach weapon, amusingly, not a Polearm.  You lose Polearm Gamble, sure, but you gain more versatility in that you can do it without dragonmarks, without 15 DEX/WIS, and without the second square of slide.  Polearm Master is a brilliant path, basically, for anyone who can mark and wants to defend affectively, because its entry requirements are amazingly low...

How do you add "slideproning" to every attack without MoS?

It seems to me that, essentially, this is a PM fighter, with the added bonus of some extra punishment more than 1/round.

So 33 autodamage and a weakened triggering attack for every marked enemy, every turn regardless of distances and conditions (besides stunned or unconscious) equals "added bonus of some extra punishment"? And having no Fighter class powers still makes it a Fighter? I've played both PM Fighters and this build, and IMO there are very significant differences, especially in epic.
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I love when people add "stormtrooper" to builds and talking about how great it is. It's like a Navy SEAL team nicknamed "The French" expecting to ever be taken seriously.

You got the point exactly! As you know, I'm an old fart and like to remember the good ol' days, back when I made the first troopers and corny names were ok...

*sigh*

...and I do think it's great with this build...
Test your PC builds' combat prowess and pit them against other builds at the Core Coliseum - the online D&D arena.
All you just said was that you add Class-less defender Op w/DS. Which was exactly what svendj said made it not unique enough.

Well, considering that only the Pally is capable of pulling off that combo, it's certainly restricted to a class and unique IMO. Though I see your point in terms of "using Paladin class options", so to speak. But it should be noted the build uses only Pally class powers, features etc.

Test your PC builds' combat prowess and pit them against other builds at the Core Coliseum - the online D&D arena.
Flail shenanigans add slide and prone.

Fighters will deal more than 33 extra damage on their turn than this Paladin, making added punishment of 1/10th monster HP somewhere between insignificant and 'stop poking me'. It's also 24 for your DS targets which is laughable at that level in terms of drawing attention.

Frankly, you started this thread with the attitude of "I've made a Paladin that qualifies as a UD, and here's why" with all of your evaluations of your advantages being affected by that attitude, you over-rate anything that favors the build (4d8+20 results in 8 average damage after weakening is an outright lie, and your defenses being at striker level), and under-rate or outright ignore anything that's a disadvantage (lets just ignore Teleporting and how we handle being controlled, CharOp won't call me on that!). Between your attitude tainting the entire thing, the reliance on Mark of Storm, and just being a generic HOrc Paladin (ie. kinda bad) pre-16, I would never consider this character among the UDs

Edit: Edit your replies if you're just going to add meaningless, oblivious, comments to your thread
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
You could probably make a good classless defender with Polearm Master (I'm considering doing that just for fun), but I can't think of any class more suited for it than a Straladin, and it's surprising that no one's built it before now (AFAIK).

Over the classless version, you get:
1) Multi-marking, and more importantly the ability to enforce those marks (DS + Weakening Challenge)
2) Much improved durability (all the THP granters and Lay on Hands, plus plate proficiency)

Those two are pretty major pieces, even if they come naturally. I agree that the build is standard PM op + standard Straladin op. But that's a nice combination, and Straladins tend to be ignored.

Whether I'd call it an Ultimate Defender...it could probably be effective enough, but I would also prefer it to be more unique.
Then I believe I've failed in explaining what makes this build a powerful defender, because it's not the Stormtrooper combo, the Longarm Grasp feature, strong DC/DS or the Self Defense. It's the combination of those abilities plus the strong class powers. And even if only looking at the three defender abilities you mentioned, it's a combination no other class may replicate, simply because only the Pally can hand out both mark punishments in the same turn. 


Fair point, the Paladin does have that going for it. But is the Straladin the only or the best type of Paladin to put this package on? 

Thank you for posting and showing an interest. For the reasons mentioned above, what the Polepally does is extremely class-specific, even sub-class-specific.


To be honest, I don't care for both the Paladin class and polearm shenanigans. The only reason I checked out your build is because you added it to the Collection of Guides and Builds. I consider it bad form to add your own builds to the thread, especially if you do so before any Char Op heavyweights have chimed in. At the very least you should have asked Alcestis to check out your build, since he's the one who tore you apart about Straladins in the other thread.
It really only has two things going for it. Paladin Mark support and the level 16 feature of Polearm Master. Here's the thing, from an optimization perspective. You remove Blessed Strength. You sub in Reserve Maneuver or take Bracers of Mental Might. You can now be a Cha-focused Paladin, who does all of this better at every tier of play and isn't locked down to a race with second tier feat support for your class. The two things the build has aren't exclusive to Straladins and, indeed, would be better on a Chaladin chassis. If the idea can be done twice as well on a Chaladin, despite taking a Str-based PP, I think the point I made about Chaladins simply always being the better choice for a defender when considering optimization holds up.

You've opened up Tiefling, Half-Elf, Eladrin (One of the few times there racial weapon training feat will be useful), Revenant of anything, Dragonborn, etc,. The comments about it really being a build that demonstrate the power of Mark of Storm are absolutely correct. Mello's idea of using a reach flail, eliminating odd secondary stat requirements and MoS dependency, is really good because it increases the lock down through Heroic and leaves it identical later on.

It is a fair attempt at making a UD though, except you yourself claim you won't really be at that level of effectiveness till 16. Which is when teleporters, extreme reach, and constant bursts/blasts start kicking in and they stay with you all the way through Epic. That isn't on a minority of monsters at that level either, that is standard post-MM3 monster design. Despite plate, your AC is actually barely striker level for most of that, as well.
@Alcestis: I mostly agree with you, except I think you're overlooking some of the strength-specific things. Assuming you keep Wis as the secondary, going Wis/Cha means a big drop in Fort, probably loses Polearm Gamble, and loses Crusading Wrath. It also makes it tricky to use the PM powers (though having to keep the d20 isn't a huge setback).

There's no question that Chaladins get a nicer power selection, but this build doesn't really need the extra punishment stackers (that's what Polearm Grasp is for)...I don't think a Chaladin version would be unarguably better, at least not in the second half of his career.

@upho: I'm gonna add my voice to the people recommending a reach flail.
Fighters will deal more than 33 extra damage on their turn than this Paladin, making added punishment of 1/10th monster HP somewhere between insignificant and 'stop poking me'. It's also 24 for your DS targets which is laughable at that level in terms of drawing attention.

The damage isn't anything to write home about, I agree. But the weakening effect is, IMO.

Frankly, you started this thread with the attitude of "I've made a Paladin that qualifies as a UD, and here's why" with all of your evaluations of your advantages being affected by that attitude, you over-rate anything that favors the build (4d8+20 results in 8 average damage after weakening is an outright lie, and your defenses being at striker level), and under-rate or outright ignore anything that's a disadvantage (lets just ignore Teleporting and how we handle being controlled, CharOp won't call me on that!).

First: the reason I put this up is explained in the introduction. Though the Paladin UD discussion made me think about the build initially, the main reason I made a thread is because the combo offers unique Pally advantages that might improve the Straladin's primary defender performance, and because no similar example build exists on CharOp AFAIK.

Second: I clearly state the examples include far from every situation - specifically mentioning teleports - and why (and I do think I'm being consistent). This has nothing whatsoever to do with "CharOp won't call me on that" or anything similar, it's simply because I believed the basic mechanics where most easily explained by using simplified examples. (Besides, teleports won't avoid the weakening punishment.) Regarding the numbers: 4d8+20 = 38 avrg, 50% base hit chance (as clearly stated), -2 from mark: 38 * 0.4 = 15.2, weakened 7.6 average damage. While I've rounded it up to 8, I really don't see how this is "an outright lie". On the contrary, I thought it would make a fair comparison between the marked monster's average damage and the Polepally's average DC/DS damage/effects. Please explain what I've done wrong.

Between your attitude tainting the entire thing, the reliance on Mark of Storm, and just being a generic HOrc Paladin (ie. kinda bad) pre-16, I would never consider this character among the UDs

I'm sorry you think I've got a bad attitude, that certainly isn't my goal. And I frankly don't understand what being "a generic HOrc Paladin" before lvl 16 and the reliance on MoS has to do with UD considerations, as the criterions include neither lvl 1-30 effectiveness nor indepence from options related to settings.
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There's no question that Chaladins get a nicer power selection, but this build doesn't really need the extra punishment stackers (that's what Polearm Grasp is for)...I don't think a Chaladin version would be unarguably better, at least not in the second half of his career.

This was exactly what made me think of the Polearm Master PP - ie what can replace the Chaladin's punishment stackers in a Straladin build.

Mello's idea of using a reach flail, eliminating odd secondary stat requirements and MoS dependency, is really good because it increases the lock down through Heroic and leaves it identical later on.

@upho: I'm gonna add my voice to the people recommending a reach flail.

Might be a great idea. I understand how you can prone and slide through MoS, Flail Expertise and Dragging Flail, but please explain how you add a slide in the first place without MoS.
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Lashing Flail.
MBAs only, but those are what count here, so...
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.
First of all, great build, we need character ideas, I dont care if it is an UD or not. I think an UD build must have AlphaTheGreat approbal, and some CharOP consensus, at least from the most experienced users.

That said, I dont like when a generic build works only with setting specific material like dragonmarks (and rare items). There should be a consensus on that.

Now my feedback. In my experience, Champion of Order is more effective than Polearm Master. Even with the Mark Of Storm attack denial, ruining the life of the nastiest enemy with the E11, and having an opportunity attack (and Battle awareness immediate interrupt) to other enemy (or the same) is better than a feature that only works 1/round and overrides the battle awareness extra attack. And it works since level 11.

You can keep the spear and polearm gamble for the other marked melee enemies, they will eat an attack or take damage from your Divine Sanction. Maybe this is a diferent build concept but I think is more effective and is unique to STR paladins (or baladins), and this was your main motivation.
Sapphire - Swormage Dragon Guardian - Dont touch my allies build. Swordmage / Sigil Carver / Draconic incarnation The Holy Slayer - A Striker - Defender Fighter | Cleric / Barbarian - Paragon of Victory WEREBEAR BATTLEMIND: You wont go where you want. - A Battlemind (Druid) / Unbound Nomad / Topaz Crusader
It really only has two things going for it. Paladin Mark support and the level 16 feature of Polearm Master. Here's the thing, from an optimization perspective. You remove Blessed Strength. You sub in Reserve Maneuver or take Bracers of Mental Might. You can now be a Cha-focused Paladin, who does all of this better at every tier of play and isn't locked down to a race with second tier feat support for your class. The two things the build has aren't exclusive to Straladins and, indeed, would be better on a Chaladin chassis. If the idea can be done twice as well on a Chaladin, despite taking a Str-based PP, I think the point I made about Chaladins simply always being the better choice for a defender when considering optimization holds up.

I think these are strong points, but I have a hard time seeing how the net result would be better, much less twice as good. Besides what TWTNinja mentioned and dependence on Reserve Maneuver and/or Bracers for the full use of the PP, you'd be forced to take the polearm route with it's associated ill-suited stat requirements and use a weapliment in order to add the slideproning to every or most of your attack powers (since Flail Expertise won't affect implement powers). 

That said, I think you could make a good flail-wielding Polearm Master Chaladin, but in order to be comparable to the Straladin version I believe the build would end up paying too much (items, stats) for less gain (less need of close combat control and additional punishment stackers).

@ svendj: Thanks, I thought I had missed something that would add slideproning to all attacks. Regarding the Collection thread: I had no idea this was the norm and I really apologize for both bad form and for drawing you into this thread for the "wrong" reasons. I'll remove the link. (A few years back I think it was more or less your duty to list your build, at least if it involved something not better exemplified elsewhere on CharOp.)

@ thespaceinvader: While the slideproning MBAs are vital for defender performance, I think it's greatly improved by the ability to impose a -2 attack penalty (or steal a move action) and position enemies with most other powers as well, especially when combined with strong multitarget attacks as in this build.

Regarding Flail instead of Polearm: My analysis is that 1) while the Flail route can be up and running in heroic, it won't be of much use since the build have no frequent MBA triggers before lvl 16, 2) losing PG is a serious setback, and 3) losing the ability to slideprone with (nearly) all attacks needs to be compensated. At the same time, with the current rather low defenses the Con boost is a bit more valuable than the Dex and most importantly, the Flail route doesn't require MoS. I should probably put up an alternative chain-wielding variant but also keep the MoS-dependent original.
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