Weekly Optimization Showcase: Dream Blade

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As usual for the showcase, these builds are intended to spur discussion and perhaps inspire a few people in the spirit of the old CO boards. They come from members of my gaming group - me, TempestStormwind, DisposableHero_, Andarious, Sionnis, and Seishi - and I'll always identify who wrote the build at the start, so do not assume I'm the guy behind all of them (because I'm not!).

Unless otherwise noted, showcase builds use 28 point-buy, and have their snapshots evaluated using fractional base attack / saves (because it simplifies the math). None of them actually rely on fractional to be built, though. The format I use showcases their progression at key levels rather than just presenting the build and showing off a few tricks at level 20; most of these are capable of being played 1-20 if you so choose.


 


With that out of the way, let's get started. This week, I’m offering one of Andarious’ builds, and the first dedicated melee build in more than a few weeks.


------------------

DREAM BLADE


Rest in pieces.



Required Books: Eberron Campaign Setting/Races of Eberron (but see Race and Variants), Tome of Battle, Expanded Psionics Handbook, Complete Warrior, Complete Scoundrel (1 feat, but oh what a feat)
Unearthed Arcana used: None. It’s an Andarious build, you surprised?


 


Background: A while back Andarious noticed the Combat Brute feat and decided he had to play around with the Momentum Swing maneuver it offered. The first build to come out of this was a little bruiser called the Momentum Blade. If there’s interest in it, we’ll offer it up for the vote later. Andarious wasn’t quite satisfied with the BAB that the Momentum Blade ended up with, so he made a pure warblade build that used the same trick. The result is a nice combo build that will lay out serious hurt every round. After enough levels, you will likely not have to recover your maneuvers unless you’re up against huge groups of opponents, as it’s unlikely that there will be anything left standing after you complete your combo routine.



The Basics


 



  • Race: Kalashtar. Nets you the psionic template and enough power points so that a single power draining effect may not totally clean you out. Any psionic race with no LA or Str/Dex penalties will do, or even a human with Wild Talent. Elan’s another option.

  •  Ability Scores: 14/12/14/14/14/8. All your level increases should go into Strength, which is the first ability score to get tomes too. You’ll need +1 manual for Dex before you take Combat Reflexes, should you choose to take it.


 


Skill Notes: Max Concentration and Tumble, and take these four skill tricks (at the following levels), Twisted Charge (2), Up the Hill (4), Nimble Stand (6), and Acrobatic Backstab (9). Make sure you meet their prereqs in time. Andarious’ level 20 set up also maxed out Martial Lore and put 17 in jump, 18 in Climb, 14 in Swim (enough to swim in Mithral Full Plate during a storm given our Str), and 12 in Balance. That’s a fairly good setup for a mobile combatant.


 


Basic Equipment: A greatsword and the best armor that fits. Breastplate will do you fine at the early levels; mithral breastplate later on. You lack ranged proficiencies, so be careful; consider tanglefoot bags for snagging tricksy enemies who won’t sit still. 


Magical Gear Goals: A Third Eye Concentrate for +10 to your Concentration checks is an absolute given. You want to grab yourself a pair of Shadow Hands carrying the Cloak of Deception maneuver around level 7, definitely by level 9. It’s very useful. Later on you’ll want a Ring of Evasion and a Ring of Diamond Mind, the latter used to pick up Moment of Alacrity. If you fear grappling more than Reflex save effects, a ring of Freedom of Movement is an alternative to Evasion. If you want to sunder regularly, you’ll want a greatsword made of adamantine.


 



The Build.
Build Stub: Warblade 20



1 – Warblade – (Battle clarity (Reflex saves), weapon aptitude) (Psionic Weapon) (Steel Wind, Moment of Perfect Mind, Sapphire Nightmare Blade, Punishing Stance)

*
At level 1 your attack sequence is simple, hit em with everything round one. Greatsword 2d6+Punishing Stance 1d6+Sapphire Nightmare Blade 1d6+Psionic Weapon 2d6=6d6 (21)+4 for Str, a lovely final average of 25 damage in one hit. Keep in mind that the average HP for a CR 3 enemy is 27. Rotate between a single attack (recovering maneuvers) and a Sapphire Nightmare Blade each two rounds thereafter until everything falls down. If you want to pace yourself, open with Sapphire Nightmare Blade, then use Psionic Weapon on your recovery round before returning to SNB. Average HP for a CR 1 threat is 12.24, and you can deal enough damage to drop one every round for the first three rounds, even with Punishing Stance off.

2 – Warblade – (Uncanny dodge) (Charging Minotaur)

*
It’s a handy little maneuver. Keep it in mind for later.

3 – Warblade – (Battle ardor (critical confirmation)) (Power Attack) (Battle Leader’s Charge)

*
Your attack routine for a while is going to be:

Round 1: the best charge you have


Round 2: the best Nightmare Blade you have, with appropriate Power Attack


Round 3: recover maneuvers, find another target


At this level, Psionic Weapon should go on Round 1 if against a low-Dex opponent and Round 2 against a high-Dex opponent, to maximize chances of it connecting.


4 – Warblade – (Action Before Thought > Steel Wind, Leading the Charge)

*
MOAR DAMAGE. Enjoy your new default stance!

5 – Warblade – (Unnerving Calm) (Iron Heart Surge)

*
The duel of wills can give you a little buff, or your opponent a little debuff.

6 – Warblade – (Improved uncanny dodge) (Deep Impact)

*
See level 3, but we don’t spend our Psionic Focus on Psionic Weapon anymore. Full Power Attack against a hosed AC can ruin someone’s day.

7 – Warblade – (Battle cunning (damage)) (Ruby Nightmare Blade)

*
Around this level you should be getting those gloves of the Shadow Hand. They should be 16% of your 19k wealth at that level. Against low-Dex opponents, a full Power Attack RNB will HURT.

8 – Warblade – (Mind Over Body > Sapphire Nightmare Blade)

*
Now with RNB and Cloak of Deception running, you're able to outperform SNB dramatically.

9 – Warblade – (Blind-Fight, Psionic Meditation) (Disrupting Blow)

*
A lot of good stuff comes online. You can finally grab the Acrobatic Backstab skill trick. Psionic Meditation allows in combat reloading, so Deep Impact can be used multiple times per combat without that awful full round action cost to refocus. Disrupting Blow is a lovely maneuver for a high-Str warblade. And Blind-Fight?

10 – Warblade – (Hearing the Air)

*
Here’s what Blind-Fight is for. Invisible opponents just became a lot less threatening.

11 – Warblade – (Battle skill (opposed checks)) (Iron Heart Endurance)

*
3rd iterative attack! IHE provides some resilience, and while Greater Insightful Strike does provide reliable damage, it's not hard to replace particularly later on when you've got access to Strike of Perfect Clarity.

12 – Warblade – (Improved Sunder)

*
Usually a meh tactical choice – you don’t want to destroy potential loot – but it’s a prereq.

13 – Warblade – (Improved Initiative) (War Leader’s Charge)

*
And a better charge shows up!

14 – Warblade


15 – Warblade – (Battle mastery (attacks of opportunity)) (Combat Brute) (Diamond Nightmare Blade)

*
This is the level where the Dream Blade picks up the schtick that Andarious was building it towards. Combat Brute’s Momentum Swing maneuver comes online at the same time as you get access to Diamond Nightmare Blade, and with Deep Impact and Cloak of Deception fueling your attacks, you should routinely be pushing 180 damage with your DNBs. (The average HP for a CR 15 monster is 224.63, mind you). Oh, and Momentum Swing isn’t the only maneuver Combat Brute has to offer; this is the other reason to keep Charging Minotaur in mind.

16 – Warblade – (White Raven Hammer > Ruby Nightmare Blade, Stance of Alacrity)

*
Your attack routine now looks like:

Round 1: Best charge you have


Round 2: Full power attack, Deep Impact, and Dex denial on a Diamond Nightmare Blade


Round 3: White Raven Hammer, either to finish off or hold your original target in place, or to snag your next target


Stance of Alacrity allows counters to be used each round while maintaining available standard actions, OR lets you use multiple counters in a single round if need be. Helpful against a barrage of effects that would drain your Diamond Mind counters.


17 – Warblade – (Combat Reflexes) (War Master’s Charge)

*
Best charge there is!

18 – Warblade – (Adaptive Style) (Time Stands Still > Battle Leader’s Charge)

*
Adaptive Style allows for more reliable defense as well as more versatile options for both defense and attack. It also feeds well into Heroics shenanigans from allies or an eternal wand. The winner here, however, is of course Time Stands Still. Add to your attack routine:

Round 4: Time Stands Still to mop up the opposition


Round 5: Best remaining strike, probably Disrupting Blow


Round 6: …there’s a round 6? Um, run away if there’s anything that survived all that?


19 – Warblade – (Adamantine Hurricane)


20 – Warblade – (Stance mastery) (Strike of Perfect Clarity > War Leader’s Charge)

*
With stance mastery, put on Stance of Alacrity and Hearing the Air out of combat. Switch to Leading the Charge and Stance of Alacrity when combat starts. You don't actually need a boost when you charge, so your swift action's free up.

 


Strangely, this switch actually nets you a free Immediate action (one you'll want to have) so you can counter without losing your Swift action to fuel Cloak of Deception. But even if that DOES happen and you need to double counter, you've still got Acrobatic Backstab once/combat.



Snapshot: At level 20, with a +5 manual for Strength, a +1 manual for Dexterity, and +6 items in every ability score besides Charisma (you can actually swing this at level 20, a lot of your other equipment is cheap as hell), you have 235 HP, +20 BAB (and a +34 melee attack roll with your +5 adamantine greatsword), and saves of +17/+15/+9 BEFORE any resistance bonuses. Your skills include a +38 Concentration check with that Third Eye, and a +28 bonus on your Tumble skill before armor check penalties (so +27 in Mithral Breastplate and +25 in Mithral Fullplate). Your full power attack on a Diamond Nightmare Blade (which WILL connect with hosed ACs) does 260 damage on average, and 340 damage if you time it with Momentum Swing. Consider that you can use Deep Impact on your initial charge maneuver, and then refocus with Psionic Meditation and use it on the followup. Consider that your War Master’s Charge deals 95 damage on average WITH NO POWER ATTACK (not counting your allies’ contributions), and it stuns without a save. Then consider that your War Master’s Charge (AGAIN WITH NO POWER ATTACK) + Momentum Swing Diamond Nightmare Blade combo deals 435 damage and that the average HP of a CR 22 monster is 452.33. See why rounds 3+ of your routine are considered cleanup?


 



Overall Strengths: This is a build for fighting game aficionados; you build up a strong combo and will be KOing non-boss opponents by round 3 tops. You have all three Diamond Mind save counters and the best possible non-epic uncanny dodge to help with your defenses. Adaptive Style and stance mastery opens further versatility. Hidden opponents are easy pickings with Blind-Fight and Hearing the Air. Deep Impact and Dex denial through items and skill tricks will make sure your attacks hit. And how they hit! You can reliably wipe out CR 21 challenges by round 2 if they’re not immune to stunning. Finally, remind your party spellcasters of the utility in Grease; you have the Balance ranks to ignore its effects


Overall Weaknesses: You rely on Moment of Perfect Mind to shore up your Will save, and that isn’t a perfect defense by any means. You’re also vulnerable to two of the big concerns for high level melee: charge foiling (usually via terrain and positioning, though Twisted Charge will help) and Elusive Target (STUN the suckers before you Power Attack). While Blind-Fight is great against miss chances from concealment, incorporeal miss chances and stuff like Greater Blink can still ruin your day; some ghost touch effects may be in order.

Variants:  Andarious wanted to note that the warblade bonus feats he selected were just what he considered to be the best options available, taken in the most beneficial order; those can definitely be switched around or replaced as necessary. We mentioned some alternative races earlier. Some people don’t find Adaptive Style all that necessary for Warblades; it too can be switched out.


 


There you have it. Whether your campaigns run light or dark, the Dream Blade will be well suited to offing enemies quickly and neatly. Fire up that Momentum Swing, and tuck ‘em in. Sweet dreams!


 


Next up: You guys didn’t break that three way tie for second place! T___T Take your pick from [AR] Slash and Burn, [DH] Psycarnum Warrior, and [AR] Evasion Tank for next week. Also, indicate if you’d want the runner up for this vote to show up the week after that, or if you want a fresh set of options.

Voting is open, and comments are appreciated! 

I choose slash and burn and I'd like the runner up for this vote to show up next week.   


A nice solid build. A bit bland (IMO) though. Then again I generally prefer multiclassed builds. Different strokes for different folks Smile.
And here I thought this build would be more psionically involved,...it's cool either way.  Evasion Tank for me, my curiosity has been bugging me ever since I've heard the name.


EDIT: Psycarnum Warrior for Runner up. 
Very nice, now all I gotta do is figure out a way to get lucid dreaming in this for a legit sandman/freddy krueger. My vote is for Slash and Burn and then Evasion Tank.
Funny enough, the build that Andarious pioneered this build's trick with, the Momentum Blade, would be able to get its hands on lucid dreaming more easily, and quite possibly grab claws as well. We'll have to put it up for a vote some time later.
Would you mind putting links to the other showcases at the bottom of the op? It made things very convenient (doing this for the snoipah would be great too).
Make a note in the build that you're mulitplying manuver damage from a charge, instead of adding it on at the end as the book mandates. It IS a house rule of yours, after all, even if it is fixed damage and would normally be included in a multiplier, but the book specifically says otherwise.

A nice clean and basic warblade build. 

==Aelryinth
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
I like reading about specialist builds that use odd mechanics. This is a nice damage build, but that's it...it's another damage build. Builds that make use of other mechanics are what I like to see.

That's why i'd like to see uberflank. Maxing out flanking? sounds like a FUN build to see, esp if effective.

Barring that, Evasion tank sounds more specialized then slash and burn. I'll go with ET.

==Aelryinth  


 
Fighter vs Warblade analysis http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19573526/Analyzing_the_Fighter_vs_The_Warblade The Lockdown F/20 iconic build http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19856162/A_little_Lock_build_for_you
I would like to put my vote in for evasion tank I'm quite intrigued by the sound of it and would love to see the build
Still Psycarnum Warrior (followed by Evasion Tank, I guess).
Make a note in the build that you're mulitplying manuver damage from a charge, instead of adding it on at the end as the book mandates. It IS a house rule of yours, after all, even if it is fixed damage and would normally be included in a multiplier, but the book specifically says otherwise.


Actually, we're not. Momentum Swing is only used with Diamond Nightmare Blade. We're not applying any multipliers to the White Raven charges, we're just using them to set up the Combat Brute tactical maneuvers (and deliver a lovely stun along with repositioning our allies, in the case of War Master's Charge).
Momentum Swing triggers off of a charge, but doesn't benefit from the charge itself. You charge with Power Attack -5 or greater, and the following turn your Power Attack return improves, giving a higher seed number for Nightmare Blade to multiply. 

Any charge works - the White Raven charges are just used because they're the best charge we have available (they all bypass AoOs and bring charge damage of their own to the table).

Thanks again; I'm posting here to have my signature available. (I might want to create an index thread instead...) 

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

I second the index thread, with a brief description of the builds outlined, and the main tricks incorporated.

As far as this weeks build, it once again showed how simple yet effective ToB allows martial adept characters to be. I don't think I had actually ever considered combat brute a feat worth taking, but you have shed light on circumstances in which it is useable.

My votes are for evasion tank and uberflank. 
Psycarnum Warrior. Can I vote for it twice?
If not, my second choice is Uberflank.
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56788208 wrote:
I do, however, have one last lesson on this subject. That last one? The only build in this post that can one-shot average opponents[by dealing twice as much damage as they have HP? I would argue that it is not optimized. Why isn't it optimized? Because it's overkill. Overkill is NOT optimizing. This means that there are portions of this build dedicated to damage which can safely be removed and thrown elsewhere. For example, you probably don't need both Leap Attack AND Headlong Rush at the same time. You could pick up Extra Rage feats for stamina, feats to support AoO effects, feats that work towards potential prestige classes, and so on. However, you could also shift our ability scores around somewhat. I mean, if you're getting results like that with 16 starting Strength, maybe you can lower it to 14, and free up four points to spend somewhere else - perhaps back into Charisma, giving you some oomph for Intimidating Rage or Imperious Command if you want. You can continue to tune this until it deals "enough" damage - and that "enough" does not need to be "100%". It could easily be, say, 80% (leaving the rest to the team), if your DM is the sort who would ban one-hit killers.
Tempest_Stormwind on Character Optimization
So when do you think Bachmann will be saying she met a mother the previous night that had a son who got a blood transfusion using a gay guy's blood, and now the son is retardedly gay?
When she meets CJ's mom?
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I should have specified this was a one-vote week. Evasion Tank is the overwhelming favourite so far, but voting could still turn that around. Since there's so much demand for them, I'm probably going to write up Psycarnum Warrior, Slash and Burn, and Uberflank anyways, so they can be candidates for selection in the following weeks.
I didn't realise Uberflank was an option this week. There's a lot of flanking stuff which could be used to pretty uber effect - though I still vote Psycarnum (it has both "Psy" and "carnum" in the name!). IIRC there are things which let you flank when you're not really flanking (or improve your flanking ability, a la Elocator) so I wouldn't be surprised if it used something of that ilk, along with some of the many flank-boosters.
I like reading about specialist builds that use odd mechanics. This is a nice damage build, but that's it...it's another damage build. Builds that make use of other mechanics are what I like to see.




It is a damage build, your right. It's a damage build that went on a theory that for the most part it functions best making only one or two rolls a turn (even at higher levels). That didn't stop me from throwing in Time Stands Still (it's just SOO good). However it was an attempt at two major goals.

1. Zero Buff or Prep time
2. Economy of dice rolls

It of course had to do those things and still be effective in combat, and I think it does. 
This is a nice variant of JanusJones' Meditant.

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Heh, I seem to stumble on accidental variants all the time. I don't seem to have the prejudice against 9th level maneuvers that Janus did when writing that build. I'm all about things like an average of 7 no save con damage or a save or die, and if you live still take my melee damage +20d6. I am also one of the people who stands by Swordsage as being at least as good as the other martial adept classes, just different in their application.

Swordsage makes likely the best status inflicter, while Crusader's the clear winner in tanking, and Warblade's probably the most consistant damage dealer (although Swordsage CAN surpass this, it's usually quite situational).
I tend not to find the level 17-20 to be the real differentiator... I've almost never played at those levels.
But the standard build gets 1 level 9 maneuvers and replacing the Crusader levels by Warblade will get you 2 more... The standard build also aims for some of the reliability another of your builds (your, as in your group's) went for.

One of the selling points of the Meditant are that its tricks come inline earlier (Psy Meditation at level 5, Combat Brute at level 12). Obviously one reaps the consequences later on with the loss of Dual Stance at level 20.

I also like Swordsage a lot, but don't forget the date: this was 2006. Now, JJ used to be quite opinionated so maybe he still thinks the swordsage sucks...

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
The Meditant seems more similar to the Inevitable Nightmare to be honest.
The Meditant seems more similar to the Inevitable Nightmare to be honest.


Oddly, I hadn't seen the Meditant until reasonably recently - well after the Nightmare was designed. The similarity is purely coincidental, even if it is rather eerie. We seem to have built VERY similar characters independently.

The similarity between Dream Blade here is in part because Dream Blade was named because it's a counter to the Nightmare (and it's a kalashtar) - one of the "tone it downs" if you prefer. The two are clearly related - and the meditant is somewhere between the two, as a common ancestor. In the same sort of way that all uberchargers are descendents of the Lancer.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

The two are clearly related - and the meditant is somewhere between the two, as a common ancestor.


Yes, that's how I see as well.

Just to be clear, I was in no way accusing anyone of plagiarism!
(Basically, JJ scooped your article. You can still publish your incremental findings. ;)) 

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
The Evasion Tank will be late today.
Okay, I apologize. I just don't have a showcase ready and stuff has been piling on this one weekend.

As Tempest is still occupied, I'll make up for it with three showcases by next Friday. I'm tired of teasing you guys with these builds, so I might as well toss them at you all at once. The Psycarnum Warrior will definitely follow the Evasion Tank.
I've got this to about 95% completion (give or take 5%). RT will look it over tomorrow (well later today). And it'll be up. I was anxious for this one.
The biggest tease mankind has ever seen.
I've been looking at and setting up a character with this build, and I found what I believe is a stumbling block.. (Which could easily be me missing or misreading an important part.)

  You listed ability scores as 16/12/14/14/10/8.. Thusly a 10 wisdom.  Problem is, Psychic Meditation has a 13 wisdom requirement for selecting the feat.  I probably wouldn't have noticed if I wasn't having 'argh' moments trying to fit the thing together to the elite spread (15/14/13/12/10/8).  It'd be awesome if you could poke this and let me know if I'm wrong.. and make suggestions on how to best restructure for starting at level 6 and the elite spread in active play.  First thought is honestly to figure out what can be swapped around to get psychic meditation into the build by 6 and the other bit delayed till 9 without buggering things too badly.

  Regardless, nifty build that makes me cringe to even think of letting Tome of Battle stuff into my own games.  ;)

 - Shirra
Nice catch, you're absolutely right. I missed that when originally writing the build and of all the really well educated and informed optimizers that have been over this build it's been missed up until now.

As far as cringing at bringint Tome of Battle into your game, don't. A player who can create and understand this build can create and understand a FAR more powerful Wizard and ruin your game. They won't if they're a good player. Any and all source material really comes down to how it's used and or abused.

This build's not abusive in most games. It may be considered abusive if your DM doesn't understand the system very well and puts out monsters they think are tough. Anything that uses good maneuverability or concealment or worse yet both defeats this builds primary attack strategy at least for a few rounds before his party can get you by it. 
Seconding the don't-be-worried thing.

I ran the numbers a while ago and showed, pretty conclusively, that against CR-appropriate enemies, a warblade (the most aggressive of the three Tome of Battle classes, as shown here) actually falls behind a core-only barbarian in terms of damage output. (The key isn't so much rage as the barbarian's ability to full attack. Warblades definitely win on mobility, but their strikes almost always deal less overall damage than a barbarian's attacks (and the rare occasions that they do, they usually leave the warblade extremely vulnerable to counterattack). I didn't give either of them any feats except Power Attack.)

Basically, the tome as a whole adds mobility, dynamic tactical options, ability score flexibility (especially on Dexterity) and relative equipment independence to D&D melee. None of that actually increases overall power, but it greatly expands your freedom in employing what power you already have.

If you're worried about this build, note that you can shut down its charging relatively easily (block line of sight (smokestick, darkness, etc) or hinder movement (other combatants, difficult terrain, corners)), which prevents Combat Brute from kicking in. There's not much you can do to stop the Nightmare Blade + Deep Impact trick - except for all the ways you can block attacks (the Tome introduces counters that operate this way (Wall of Blades is basically a controlled parry), but concealment and especially the Elusive Target feat shut this trick down hard). And the rest of the build is just followup/cleanup for an attack you just foiled.


Not to belittle it - this is still a mean trick, and against a lot of opponents it will cleave them in two. However, it's not hard to introduce significant threats that can basically foil it and force you to be a bit more clever. (Read: Significant, recurring NPC opponents.)

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style)

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

Nice catch, you're absolutely right. I missed that when originally writing the build and of all the really well educated and informed optimizers that have been over this build it's been missed up until now.

As far as cringing at bringint Tome of Battle into your game, don't. A player who can create and understand this build can create and understand a FAR more powerful Wizard and ruin your game. They won't if they're a good player. Any and all source material really comes down to how it's used and or abused.

This build's not abusive in most games. It may be considered abusive if your DM doesn't understand the system very well and puts out monsters they think are tough. Anything that uses good maneuverability or concealment or worse yet both defeats this builds primary attack strategy at least for a few rounds before his party can get you by it. 



  I'm unfortunately both blessed and cursed by the fact that while my players -are- abusive and into breaking the games, they're not creative and number-crunching enough to come up with much that isn't easy to stop in it's tracks real fast.  Lets hear it for the lazy!

  Regardless, with that lil' stat issue (and even if it wasn't there, more shuffling for the elite spread), I think I'll just put this to the side and try to find a different third thing to round out the heavy crusader and inevitable nightmare character write-ups.   I've got this wierd left-over from my eaaarly days of gaming under a "Killer GM" (I qoute, 'If I haven't killed two characters a night, I'm doing something wrong'), where I hate to show up to a session without three characters completely ready to run.  :/

 - Shirra
Oh derp.

Even polar bears are disappointed in me. 

I'll fix that right away. Dang, I'm going to have to cut his Strength.