Weekly Optimization Showcase: Edge of the Light

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Big Edit - this is a substantial revsion from before with the core trick much, much cleaner. The original version was moved here.

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, Radical Taoist, 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, we're showing one of RadicalTaoist's, with input from Andarious and Caker.

-----------------------
EDGE OF THE LIGHT
Cut, Fade to Black 


Required Books: Races of Eberron, Tome Of Battle, Complete Warrior, Complete Adventurer, Complete Scoundrel, Complete Champion, PHB2, Cityscape web enhancement.
Unearthed Arcana used: None!


Background: So, you’ve seen the Inevitable Nightmare, which made offense reliable without sacrificing durability, and Captain Constitution, which made durability reliable without sacrificing offense. This walks the line between them: turning your defenses into your offenses. Unlike the Evasion Tank, Edge of the Light doesn't wait for opponent attacks to negate. Rather, it minimizes the chance of getting hit, and converts that minimization into serious offensive momentum. You'll be making strategic choices defensively, but tactical decisions offensively - it's kind of weird like that.


This build is centered around the synergy between four key feats (particularly two tactical feats), and it originally arose when RT was looking for kalashtar melee options. As such, pay attention to the feats more than the maneuvers in this build – the maneuvers are supplemental and exploit buildup effects from the feats, rather than the other way around. Oh, and I think you'll be surprised. This is a build that will use such optimal choices as Improved Combat Expertise and Run (yes, you read that right). Despite that, it can go toe-to-toe with most of the melee builds you've seen so far and drive them insane.

The Basics:



  • Race: Kalashtar. You're performing an ethnic martial art which is as much a state of mind as the physical forms, so this is not negotiable.

  • Ability Scores:  14/12/14/14/14/8 is a good spread. We assume you pump Strength at every chance, including a +5 tome. 

  • Alignment: Oddly for a kalashtar, non-lawful. This is optional but it really helps with damage output late-game.



Skill notes: You need to qualify for Battle Trickster, which makes this interesting. We suggest Balance 20, Concentration 17, Diplomacy 17, Intimidate 20, Jump 22, Tumble 20, Bluff 6, and six skill tricks (Never Outnumbered, Extreme Leap, Acrobatic Backstab, Back on your Feet, Up the Hill, Twisted Charge, Nimble Charge, and Nimble Stand); you need a tiny amount of Perform(Dance) but should have space with this. This means that you're acting as intimidation and, partially, party face as well as the usual acrobatic warrior.

Basic equipment: Use any weapon that can trip. The classic choice (guisarme) works just fine, but since you're not an AoO tank (look at the Dexterity) you can get by without reach if you'd rather use a heavy flail or somesuch. We're working below with a scythe - the lower damage doesn't matter, but the extra multiplication gets a bigger workout. In terms of armor, you can get by with light to medium armor: you want to keep your speed unrestricted, but don't need to emphasize the actual numbers quite as much.

Magic gear goals: Oddly, once the trick comes online, you don't need accuracy as much as you normally would for a warrior. Focus instead on multiplication-friendly flat-damage (Keen, Collision, and a +3 enhancement to allow greater augment gems are fine). Defensively, you don't need AC so much either (not even touch AC), but it might be wise to load up on movement abilities - you need to be able to close distances and still keep at least a standard action free. You have reason to invest in every ability score, so the discount on a Belt of Magnificence might come in handy.

The Build 
Build stub: Warblade 14 / Fighter 2 / Battle Trickster 3 / Barbarian 1.

 1 – Warblade – (Battle Clarity, Weapon Aptitude) (Combat Expertise) (Wolf Fang Strike, Moment of Perfect Mind, Steel Wind) (Punishing Stance)
*
A defensive opening, to be sure. Combat Expertise isn't all that hot here, but it isn't too unusual either - use it to cover for Punishing Stance's AC drop if you need to, as Punishing Stance + either of your strikes can end fights fast enough on its own.

 2 – Warblade – (Uncanny Dodge) (Sudden Leap)

 3 – Warblade – (Battle Ardor) (Path of Shadows) (Emerald Razor)
*
Emerald Razor can help give you some much-needed offense even while you use Combat Expertise. Path of Shadows is a near useless prerequisite for you, but you do still need it. 

 4 – Fighter – (Power Attack)
*
Critical feat one of four.

For now, combining Power Attack with Emerald Razor is a well-known way of getting your damage up there. Depending on what you fight, you can use this with Combat Expertise as well and still stand a decent shot of hitting.

 5 – Fighter – (Improved Trip)
*
How about that - we have the prerequisite feat (which is normally a sticking point for this feat) for its own reasons, and we're using a scythe (trip-compatible) for its own reasons, so Improved Trip is almost an afterthought.

Tripping is a touch attack to start, and the followup attack is made at +4 for a prone target, so you can still afford to make use of Power Attack or Combat Expertise as necessary.

 6 – Warblade – (Dancing with Shadows) (Iron Heart Surge > Steel Wind) (Absolute Steel)
*
Critical feat two of four.

At this point, you're a crazy AC engine, which builds up to an extremely powerful offense.. Dancing with Shadows gives you three tactical maneuvers based on prolonged use of Combat Expertise (with at least a -2). Sustained use of that feat will bring them online one after the other, making you deadlier all the while (at least for single attacks - read: strikes). During the first round, you're at a serious penalty, though you have ways of mitigating this: Combat Expertise for -5 (the best seed value for your Dance) can be mitigated with Emerald Razor or the touch attack to trip a target, and after that round, you start being able to recover your accuracy while keeping your defenses going. 

Absolute Steel helps you close the distance to your target - if you don't attack, you can't use Expertise, and your dance stops. It also provides a small AC bonus of its own, which might be redundant at this point but it still helps since it's a dodge bonus and you've got Uncanny Dodge.

 7 – Warblade – (Ironheart Aura) (Flesh Ripper)
*
This is largely a prerequisite level. Ripper will help compensate for your attack roll penalties even more than Dancing with Shadows does, while Ironheart Aura will let you get more mileage out of Absolute Steel: the first stage of Dancing with Shadows gives a Will bonus, and so does Ironheart Aura. You can boost your Will by +4 simply by remaining in Absolute Steel, and that's a big thing for warriors. (I really like Absolute Steel + Ironheart Aura. It's a little bonus that hits just about everything you care about, and you can get it pretty early.)

 8 – Warblade – (Improved Uncanny Dodge) (Ruby Nightmare Blade > Wolf Fang Strike)
*
So, Dancing gives you big attack bonuses over time. Why not get more mileage out of them with Ruby Nightmare Blade's multiplier over Power Attack? You can fire this off on round 2 with a serious attack roll bonus if you are okay with stopping your Dancing with Shadows count early (say, if you're fighting foes who are spread out), and as a naturally psionic kalashtar, you can expend your focus to make sure that Concentration check doesn't whiff.

 9 – Warblade – (Battle Cunning) (Improved Combat Expertise) (Fountain of Blood)
*
Critical feat three of four.

Why is this here? It's an awful feat.

Simple. Dancing with Shadows feeds off of your Combat Expertise bonus from one round to the next, converting it gradually from a penalty to a bonus while keeping the AC up there. By uncapping Combat Expertise, you can feed even larger numbers forward, covering for the lower AB on the first round with Emerald Razor. By the time round 2 comes online, your first strike is made at a normal bonus even with full Expertise active. Round three and later? You're adding your level to both your AC and your normal attack bonus, without suffering an Expertise penalty at all, which is just screaming for better use of Power Attack on a Nightmare Blade.

And after anything falls to that? That's where Fountain of Blood comes in. You can add in Never Outnumbered if you want to scatter the mooks after this. (Fearsome armor helps here (Intimidate +5, as a move action), and is reasonably cheap, but since you're not a fear specialist, so it's not a priority.)

Side note: Honestly, while I thought that uncapping Dancing with Shadows was more important, if you want to bring Stormguard online sooner, you can do it here and delay Improved to 12. I don't think you get quite as much bang that way, but it does get you on the frontlines faster.

 10 – Warblade – (Don't swap)

 11 – Warblade – (Combat Reflexes) (Pouncing Charge)
*
Exactly when your third iterative attack is online, you get Pounce. It doesn't interact too well with your dance, but it can help get you into position on the first round - especially since the +2 from charging offsets the minimum Expertise needed to start the Dance with Shadows.

 12 – Battle Trickster – (Bonus Trick) (Stormguard Warrior)
*
Critical feat four of four.

Stormguard makes you complete for a number of reasons, mostly hinging on Combat Rhythm (appropriately for a dancer). During your first round, you max out Combat Expertise and close in with a Pouncing Charge - using Combat Rhythm to make sure all three attacks hit. They won't be all that lethal now - but on your next turn, you can stop using Expertise and strike with an extra +12 on your normal attack roll - perfect fuel for a Ruby Nightmare Blade, which multiplies the Combat Rhythm bonus damage. For longer fights, you can employ Ruby Nightmare Blade while using Combat Expertise (just PA for less: Combat Rhythm gives you enough bonus damage that you don't need full PA for standard damage output), and enable the full strength of your Dance with Shadows on subsequent rounds.

If someone provokes an AoO - say, standing up from when you tripped them, or (if you chose a guisarme) trying to close in with you - you can either take it normally, switch it over to build Combat Rhythm, or employ Channel the Storm as needed. Channel the Storm is particularly deadly here - once you start dancing, it won't be hard to strike almost impossible targets thanks to Graceful Lunge, Lingering Defense, and Channel the Storm raising your strike attacks to truly mind-boggling levels.

 13 – Battle Trickster – (Robilar's Gambit)
*
And THIS is why we took Combat Reflexes despite the low Dexterity (oddly, you don't need 13+ to take it). Robilar's AC penalty is completely absorbed by the dance (making it almost risk free), and even with the penalty you're still more likely to be missed than hit, giving you an AOO - to forsake for Channel the Storm. Trying to fight back is a losing proposition.

 14 – Battle Trickster – (Bonus trick, Tricky Fighting)

 15 – Barbarian – (Ferocity 1/day, Lion totem: Pounce) (Leap Attack)
*
Ferocity suits us much better than Rage: Not only does it boost Dexterity (more AC, more Initiative, more Combat Reflexes), but it critically does not prevent the use of Combat Expertise the way normal Rage and most Rage variants do. You can't use Concentration while ferocious, which prevents the use of Nightmare Blades and Moment of Perfect Mind, but if you've already spent those maneuvers or are somehow restrained from movement, Ferocity is a decent fallback.

The real reason we're here (apart from IL timing) is, of course, Pounce without needing to ready or expend a maneuver to do it. Now you can Pounce between targets every round if need be - and although Dancing with Shadows only buffs your first attack roll each round, you can simply switch the subsequent (penalized) attacks over to touch attacks and build up some Combat Rhythm through shadow-boxing.

Of course, if you decide to stop using the Dance, your subsequent attacks are made at their normal attack bonus - why not switch that over to Power Attack and get some serious multipliers in through Leap Attack? We've been pumping Jump for Sudden Leap and we have the rest of the ubercharge suite already - except for Shock Trooper. ...Which we don't need, since Dancing with Shadows provides enough of an attack roll benefit  most of the time and, when it doesn't, Combat Rhythm can pick up the free attacks and feed them forward for a more deadly next round.

 16 – Warblade – (Avalanche of Blades > Pouncing Charge) (Dancing Blade Form)
*
Having picked up a universal pounce earlier, we can exchange Pouncing Charge for another way of boosting up Combat Rhythm. If you're within Sudden Leap range at the start of battle, using Avalanche Rhythm during your first round (while you seed your Dance with Shadows and boost up your AC against counterattacks) can produce a pretty damn scary Graceful Lunge + Power Attack + Ruby Nightmare Blade on the following round.

Dancing Blade Form gives you a great alternative to Absolute Steel, particularly in tighter quarters. Not only is it a perfect thematic match, it gives you reach. The usual drawback - "just on your turn" - is moot here: you're not an AoO tank, so you don't need reach during your enemy turns, but you need to be able to strike at your target during a Graceful Lunge, so reach on your turn does matter.

 17 – Warblade – (Battle Skill) (Run) (Swooping Dragon Strike)
*
Battle Skill helps whenever you're tripping, which you're doing as a secondary thing most of the time but shouldn't neglect.

Swooping Dragon denies the target their Dexterity bonuses, which is underrated, and provides +10d6 on a single attack (which can be boosted by Graceful Lunge after that stage of the dance starts), but the real reason you're picking it up here is for a Jump-check-based DC on a Stun effect - in a build that maxes out both Strength and Jump (and may have speed bonuses from Absolute Steel as well).

...Which, incidentally, is why Run is there. The warblade bonus feat list is normally just considered to be Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Blind-Fight, and the gateway feats for discipline tactical feats. Well, Run is on there too - and since it adds +4 to Jump if you get your basic running start, you can view it as "Greater Ability Focus: Swooping Dragon Strike and Sudden Leap" and it suddenly becomes a lot less silly.

 18 – Warblade – (Adaptive Style) (Diamond Nightmare Blade > Ruby Nightmare Blade) 
*
Diamond is a straight upgrade to Ruby, and it makes your power attack lunges all the more dangerous. If you're willing to end your dance count, you can full power attack with no real penalty here, and we all know how painful that can be once you multiply things. (And if DNB is expended or you're using Ferocity? That's what you've got Pounce + Leap Attack for.)

Adaptive Style is a useful feat in any case, but this feat choice is more flexibile if you want to open things up a bit. Extra Rage for more Ferocity uses is a possibility, but that doesn't work well with Diamond Nightmare Blade.

 19 – Warblade – (Improved Initiative) (Diamond Defense) 
*
This allows you to cover for all three saves with a single maneuver, which is always at a premium for the warblade. Also, it doesn't rely on Concentration, so you can use it while Ferocious.

 20 – Warblade –  (Time Stands Still > Flesh Ripper)
*
You saw it coming once you saw Stormguard and Avalanche, didn't you? Most useful on rounds when you stop dancing - and get straight to the killing.



Known Maneuvers / Skill Tricks

:
Warblade Maneuvers known (5 readied, IL 17, Adaptive Style):

  • Strikes: Diamond Nightmare Blade, Emerald Razor, Avalanche of Blades, Swooping Dragon Strike, Time Stands Still

  • Boosts: Sudden Leap, Fountain of Blood

  • Counters: Moment of Perfect Mind, Diamond Defense

  • Other: Iron Heart Surge 

  • Stances: Punishing Stance, Absolute Steel, Dancing Blade Form


Skill Tricks: Never Outnumbered, Extreme Leap, Acrobatic Backstab, Back on Your Feet, Up the Hill, Twisted Charge, Nimble Charge, Nimble Stand


Snapshot: Slap the +6 items on Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution (you’d probably want boosts on the mental scores as well – almost to the point where Belts of Magnificence enter the equation – but we’ll skip it for snapshotting. Interestingly, better overall results can happen with +6 Str, +6 Con, and +4 on Int and Dex, which is actually cheaper). Similarly, Tome Strength by 5. With that, we have 230 expected HP, a base attack of 20 (melee +35 with Greater Magic Weapon, but Dancing with Shadows: Graceful Lunge can get that much higher for a critical attack), and saving throws of +22/+11/+7 (with Dancing with Shadows and Ironheart Aura to boost Will to +11, along with the Diamond Mind counters – and a naturally psionic race if that’s needed).

The real interest here is the interaction within the tactical feats. Dancing with Shadows allows you to increase your defenses without seriously paying in offense (and, if you wish, converting that defense into very powerful offense if you wish to start the Combat Expertise count again – note that continual use of Combat Expertise just negates the penalty, while switching it off can basically double your base attack bonus; you can throttle it back and mix the benefits if you wish). When you do pay for the defense - such as on attacks past the first after Graceful Lunge kicks in - you can use Stormguard Warrior to charge up for rounds where you don’t pay. When you’re attacked, your improved AC makes Robilar’s a no-brainer, and the interaction between Robilar’s and Stormguard is well-known (just pick whether it’s better to Channel the Storm or charge up Combat Rhythm based on where you are in your Dance with Shadows).

Let’s explain this in a round-by-round sense,

just to make it clear.
You have a lot of leeway here on how much you want to use your Expertise, but for example purposes, we’ll assume you go all out. Let’s also assume your base AC is 35 – a pretty basic with-gear number for a light-armor warrior without a shield.

  1. Combat Expertise for 20. Your attack bonus falls to +15, your AC rises to 55. (This is a round to use Combat Rhythm.)

  2. Combat Expertise for 20. Dancing with Shadows: Flowing Body Still Mind / Graceful Lunge both kick in. Your attack bonus rises to +35 (inheriting the +20 AC bonus from the previous round) for your first attack this round, which is probably a single-hit martial strike. (It remains +15 for multiple hits, such as on a pounce, but again, Combat Rhythm picks up that slack and feeds extra damage forward.) Your AC rises to 55. (Graceful Lunge only cares about the AC bonus, not the penalty to attack rolls, which turns out to be important for round 3.)

  3. Combat Expertise for 20. Dancing with Shadows: Flowing Body Still Mind / Graceful Lunge / Lingering Defense all kick in. Your attack bonus rises to +55 (inheriting the +20 bonus from the previous round from Graceful Lunge, and with Lingering Defense removing this round's penalty outright – but again, it falls to +35 for multiple hits (which is as good as if you'd not been Dancing anyway, but can still be used to build up Combat Rhythm if you aren't using a single-hit strike)), and your AC rises to 55.


Since you used Combat Expertise continually for over three rounds, all three maneuvers within Dancing with Shadows can be maintained indefinitely – essentially re-read Round 3 for later rounds. This summary also ignores the exact numeric impact of Combat Rhythm, as well as the potentially huge increase on top of this with Channel the Storm - and it also ignores the huge range of flexibility you have (i.e. you don't need to use Expertise at max, or even the same amount from round to round.)

Observe the attack bonuses: Using Power Attack on top of full Combat Expertise in this dance is exactly as good as normal on round 2, and essentially free on round 3 - and we all know how powerful free Power Attack can be. Here, though, it comes with a massively inflated AC on top of that.

You can reach numbers like this off a little faster (two rounds) if you're willing to cycle between strong and weak. Basically, follow round 1, and when it comes to round 2, stop using Combat Expertise. You'll get round 3's numbers on round 2 (very useful for a quick Power Attack / Nightmare Blade, particularly if you charged up Combat Rhythm during round 1), but when round 3 itself comes around you'll have to start over from the beginning to build momentum again. Alternatively, you can "hedge" a bit and only use Expertise at -2: this is enough to keep the Dance with Shadows count ticking, although it doesn't feed a very large bonus forward for Lingering Defense or Graceful Lunge. Still, it's better than starting from scratch.



Practically speaking, this amounts to surprisingly augmented attack rolls (enough to offset even moderate Combat Expertise penalties, even on charge-up rounds – after one round you're back to normal as far as strikes are concerned, and after two you get attack rolls high enough to hit just about anything, and you can even switch on full Power Attack earlier at no real costs if you wish to reset your Combat Expertise count) along with a rather prodigious AC, including touch AC. The ability to switch that defense into offense when it counts – full power attack Diamond Nightmare Blade at no lost accuracy, or an Avalanche of Blades / Combat Rhythm with a +60ish base attack – can produce downright scary results when you need to go for the kill, while simply sustaining the momentum merely makes you maddeningly hard to hit.

Overall Strengths: The Dances with Shadows + Improved Combat Expertise + Stormguard Warrior combo is fierce; adding full Power Attacking Nightmare Blades on that just cranks up the own. Plus, it’s a martial adept that draws upon the number-game nature of tactical feat interplay as a combat style, rather than simply locking on and unloading maneuvers - you can just Ubercharge away during the Dance and remain perfectly dangerous without even touching your maneuvers. You can also act as a decent party face with your skill selections (Diplomacy and Intimidate with a splash of Bluff), and your array of movement-based skill tricks make you surprisingly hard to pin down. Finally, you splash a tiny bit of tripping in there as well, so if you want to muck up the enemy action economy old-school style, you can.

This revised version of the build also sports a much more respectable Will save in the middle of combat due to the new emphasis on Iron Heart stances and the reduced emphasis on Dexterity (leaving more points for Wisdom). It's not amazing but it's a great place to start, especially for a warrior.

Overall Weaknesses: You also don’t have as many readied maneuvers as you’d like, and without Adaptive Style it can be hard to get your choices right for every situation. There’s also the more general concern that defense isn’t proactive (although you try damn hard to make it such) – and in this case, the defensive round needed to start the combat momentum is similar to a buff round. Although you’re attacking during that round, it’s unlikely to have much offensive impact due to serious attack roll penalties. (After that round is done and your tactical feats kick in, you’re a lot harder to stop – and you’re hard to kill during the buildup.)

There is also another tactical weakness here: The reliance on Dancing with Shadows, which requires you to fight defensively / use Combat Expertise, or to take a total defense action, on multiple rounds, comes with its own hidden limitation. If you aren’t able to reach targets to fight in melee, you can’t fight defensively or use combat expertise (both actually require a attack roll), so you’re forced to use Total Defense instead if you want to build momentum. Total Defense is a full-round action (so you need Sudden Leap if you want to move at all) and only gives you a +6 AC bonus to feed forward into Graceful Lunge (while this is larger than you can get with normal Expertise, it’s a serious loss compared to Improved Expertise). To get around this, pack other swift-action movement effects at the very least, and pay attention to your speed and teleportation options. I'd suggest buying Acrobat Boots at the very least, quite early on, and looking into the Fleet Warrior's Array set.




Variants: If you need an even higher AC (why, I'm not sure), you can switch the stances a bit: level 6 picks up Pearl of Black Doubt, and to help cover for the lower saves (and the soon-online Stormguard Warrior), you drop Emerald Razor for Iron Heart Focus at 10th. This lowers your saves by 2 but gives you an immediate-action reroll of any of the three, using only a single maneuver to do so, long before Diamond Defense shows up. (I think the +Speed from Absolute Steel compensates for that, though.)

I’ve also been bandying around an alternative take on this – add Dancing with Shadows and Stormguard Warrior to an Idiot Crusader (Crusader / Warblade / Master of Nine with more crusader readies than crusader known maneuvers) with Power Attack. Pick Extra Granted Maneuver and the right extra Crusader maneuvers (I’d suggest Shadow Stride and the biggest Nightmare Blade we can fit; Avalanche is nice but might be difficult), and you can avoid the “just stay away” weakness pretty easily. Every round, you’d teleport, keep the Dance with Shadows going, and reply with a fully-charged Nightmare Blade at no attack penalty every single round. Since Mo9 requires Improved Unarmed Strike, we'd also probably fit in Snap Kick as well: the penalty doesn't hurt us much, and the extra hit can be used to build up Combat Rhythm quicker, even when all we do is a strike. (The strike is at our full bonus due to Graceful Lunge while Snap Kick falls to the penalized bonus - and is thus fodder for Combat Rhythm.)

 




There you have it. Sometimes it’s refreshing to revisit classic schools of optimization (here, tactical feat interaction) with a mindset refined by the Tome of Battle – just as the Tome breathed new life into Sun School (Shadow Hand teleports, especially on a Shadow Sun ninja; this is kind of well-known now), Combat Brute (Nightmare Blade multipliers; see the Dreamblade build), and Elusive Target (parry counters like Wall of Blades; see the Evasion Tank). (There’s even an argument for Woodland Archer here, using ToB extra-attack maneuvers; see the Heavy Weapons Elf.) Here we do the same, with Dancing with Shadows, in tandem with the interesting links within the Tome’s own offerings.


(What next, we start revitalizing the Weapon Style feats?)


Next up: For now the free-for-all will continue. I'll toss up a different build next week if there isn't a clear winner, and hopefully by then we'll have enough of a buffer assembled to make better voting options open. The current frontrunners on the Free-For-All are Deathblow and Quiet Murder.

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 Bleed: 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 will be the first to say that the text is..well I don't like it.

As for the build itself, I quite like the use of tactical feats you have shown before, but squeezing FOUR into one build is just silly(in a you must be crazy sort of way). I feel like it is a whole lot of work for a fairly lackluster result ultimately. But hey, you just optimized combat expertise, kudos on that.
I will be the first to say that the text is..well I don't like it.


I'm on a computer that uses OpenOffice and I opened a .docx format file - .docx is proprietary and OpenOffice has trouble with it (if I'd saved it as a .doc it'd work just fine). That might do it. I'll fix this as soon as I can get to a computer with a modern Word install.

As for the build itself, I quite like the use of tactical feats you have shown before, but squeezing FOUR into one build is just silly(in a you must be crazy sort of way). I feel like it is a whole lot of work for a fairly lackluster result ultimately.

 
There's only three - Dancing with Shadows, Stormguard Warrior, and Reaping Talons, the last of which isn't all that essential to this build (and can probably be dropped, in all honesty - it's more central to the Mook Mulcher, which is related but less defensive. Edge is a descendent of the Mook Mulcher). This can actually be used to remove flaws from the build, though it gums up the timing unless you also drop TWF (which hurts Stormguard a bit).

(...And I'll be honest, that didn't occur to me until just now, and it might be a cleaner approach to the build altogether. I suspect Reaping Talons might have been lingering on RT's mind from this build's ancestor. It interacts surprisingly well with Stormguard if you're using Tiger Claw weaponry, but keeping track of it while you're also mixing in Dancing with Shadows makes it a bit complex for minimal return against anything you'd need +60ish attack/AC to fight. I'll work that in to the variants. [EDIT: It's in there now. Turns out it's a lot more interesting since it ended up freeing up a lot more room.])

Dancing with Shadows is the key to Edge of the Light: that feat clearly wasn't designed with Improved Combat Expertise in mind, and putting the two together on their own produces the insane defensive dance described in the snapshot. Adding in Stormguard Warrior and the usual supporting infrastructure (Combat Expertise, Robilar's Gambit, Power Attack, and Nightmare Blades, with Avalanche and Time Stands Still as garnish) allows you to convert that defense into devastating offense while making the setup round pull double-duty (basically, you use the initial round - the only one you suffer attack roll penalties during - to power Combat Rhythm, in effect charging up both feats. On round 2, you can stop using Combat Expertise and instead channel your attack bonus into Power Attack for a devastating Diamond Nightmare Blade, or you can use Combat Rhythm as a substitute for Power Attack while you continue to charge up for round 3. Rhythm also helps you make use of attacks beyond the first, since Graceful Lunge only benefits the first attack you make in a round - in effect, the 'weakness' of Graceful Lunge becomes more fuel for a stronger Combat Rhythm on round 3.)

And we've seen two-tactical-feat builds in use before - from the earliest days of 3.5 onward, in fact. Pre-Leap-Attack, the earliest proto-uberchargers used Combat Brute and Shock Trooper together.


Edit: in fact, Caker, your suggestion got me thinking quite a lot about this, and I might revise the entire post to work in that suggestion - it makes the build much more elegant and interesting. (For one, it showcases the Stormguard/Dancing interaction better: with Dancing Blade Form (a perfect thematic match, I might add), it lets each tactical feat's prerequisities interact with a benefit from the other tactical feat. The core of Edge is Improved Combat Expertise to uncap Dancing with Shadows, and Stormguard / Power Attack to capitalize on the numeric advantages while minimizing the numeric disadvantages that uncapping provides. DBF adds reach during the only time you'd want to use it, and allows Stormguard's prereq to mix with Dancing's Will boost.) Assuming RT's cool with it, as Edge is his baby.

But hey, you just optimized combat expertise, kudos on that.

 
And how! Honestly, this was my reaction too.

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 Bleed: 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.

You basically summed up what I was thinking; the main trick is dancing with shadows and stormguard warrior. Everything else in the build is really just "win more", and is really not needed.
It really, really sucks that this is a racial-locked trick, because I really like it. You don't see fun stuff like this every day!

Now, to decide what to vote on...gota take a good look at the archive and see what's good.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Go right ahead with Caker's suggestion; it's a good idea. 

You basically summed up what I was thinking; the main trick is dancing with shadows and stormguard warrior. Everything else in the build is really just "win more", and is really not needed.


You're forgetting Improved Combat Expertise. You can stretch this build to work without Power Attack if you really want, but without Improved Combat Expertise, the numbers really aren't that impressive. 
Go right ahead with Caker's suggestion; it's a good idea. 

You basically summed up what I was thinking; the main trick is dancing with shadows and stormguard warrior. Everything else in the build is really just "win more", and is really not needed.


You're forgetting Improved Combat Expertise. You can stretch this build to work without Power Attack if you really want, but without Improved Combat Expertise, the numbers really aren't that impressive. 


Hop yer arse o'er to the WIP Build Repository, then; I've got a good skeleton going but need more flesh from a TC guru (and admittedly we might want to tone down the TC as well since Pouncing Charge is of less use and we won't be using Prey on the Weak.) (I won't be there for a bit, have to pick up my thesis from printing.)

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 Bleed: 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.

Go right ahead with Caker's suggestion; it's a good idea. 

You basically summed up what I was thinking; the main trick is dancing with shadows and stormguard warrior. Everything else in the build is really just "win more", and is really not needed.


You're forgetting Improved Combat Expertise. You can stretch this build to work without Power Attack if you really want, but without Improved Combat Expertise, the numbers really aren't that impressive. 



I just kind of lumped that together with the trick honestly. This build is much much less impressive without the imp. combat expertise. Probably not worth even bothering with at that point. Kind of like how uberchargers probably wouldn't be worth bothering with if power attack was capped at -5.
I will point out that it's a big stretch that most DM's will let you wield a two-handed weapon and allow you an IUS on the side. The whole 'but you don't need hands for UA' argument just doesn't fly for that, and certainly goes against the spirit of the rules, and only with creative interpretation does it match RAW.


Remove the IUS and you've a conservative, defensive build with a solid foundation and excellent tactics. If it's in there as a pre-req for snap kick, just consider it a cost feat.

==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
Huh? You have IUS, you have TWF, what's the question? How does it even go against the spirit of the rules?
Taking a hand off of a weapon is a free action as well, so you can still feel free to punch them in the face. Unarmed strikes are simple weapons that you wield at all times as an off-hand weapon (technically).
You don't need to go that far. It's called a "kick".

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 Bleed: 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.

But the heavy 2h axe you are wielding throws you off balance so you have to roll a balance check of 10 to keep upright.

That's how this works right? 
If you're the kind of GM who would ban a melee trick as mild as this, such a ruling would make sense. It's not broken, it's not unrealistic, it's not even really problematic for equivalent CR monsters.
Tempest, I did vote the previous time for A-Game Ranger, though if that was only mentioned elsewhere and not a build choice, I'll vote for something else.  I'll get alternative votes up in a few.  EDIT:  Deathblow and/or Quiet Murder if A-Game Ranger isn't available.

Just so you know, the links for levels 6 and 9, known maneuvers, and the Variant section appear to be malfunctioning.
How are you qualifying for snap kick at 5? And voting for Quiet Murder.
Oh, good catch. I was under the mistaken impression that SK had a prereq of BAB +4. My bad.

Fortunately, the cleaned up version does without unarmed strikes, so that error will disappear. 
He isn't, move the fighter level to level 7 i would guess fixes it.
The revised version is almost ready; I'll shunt the text (with its awful fonting...) to another post and replace the front post when it's ready to go. Ditching Reaping Talons had a cascade effect - the new build is a lot cleaner with identical class structure (so none of the numbers need to be changed). The most visible changes are dropping the flaws, the unarmed/TWF subfocus, and even the Mongoose maneuvers in favor of tripping, better saving throws, and a late-game transition to ubercharging. Without flaws, Stormguard is a touch later than I'd like, but Power Attack + Improved Combat Expertise + the right maneuvers gives you enough to work with on the way there. And although Reaping Talons' removal causes us to drop Cleave, we still get to use the "look, we use two completely sub-par feats" joke.

The current vote stand looks like it's either Deathblow or Quiet Murder. I like them both - they're simple, which is always nice. I'll spoil one thing: Quiet Murder's stunts haven't been seen here, while Deathblow's is more of a "everything already exists, let's just put them all together and refine it" thing (though it's still useful).

Cyclone_Joker: The two times I offered "something completely different", I put up a non-build article (specifically, the Dead for Nothing teamwork showcase and the article on flash-stepping); there aren't any un-seen "somethings completely different". I suppose I could showcase our other team, but those group displays take a lot of work (especially because the other team is level 12), and the game uses more houserules than Dead for Nothing so it's less transferrable. Plus, it grew organically from a low level with a rotating cast of PCs, while DFN was engineered as a team; DFN is much more interconnected, which is what made it worth writing about.

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 Bleed: 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.

Tempest: Wait two weeks, and DFN may have material for another party optimization showcase. You're not done with the Mazer-Killers yet, and I have other opponents among Dathiur's minions you'll find a good challenge.
Excited to see the more streamlined version of the deck.
I noted the problems with wielding a 2h weapon and IUS because it goes very, very much against the rules of fighting.

People naturally trot out that you don't need a hand free to use IUS. That is true enough. But you still have to assign primary and off hand when attacking with two weapons, and in this case, both hands ARE being used to wield a weapon...you don't have an 'off-hand' to assign, it's already in use. Attempting to claim that you don't need that hand isn't going to go over well with a lot of DM's. I'm sure a DM would allow you to swap 2H and IUS attacks, but 'add them in'?

Note that if you think you can do this, then you can also do it with Quickdraw and a light weapon, completing your attack sequence with your 2H weapon, letting go, drawing a dagger or something, and doing a second attack combo. 

I think it unlikely that a DM would allow this. If you do, then I firmly believe you are house-ruling an adjustment to the whole combat system.

And...it's another kick in the teeth to non-using 2H weapons.

Another variant is even simpler...I'm going to 2h this longsword through a full attack sequence, then drop off my primary hand and attack with it in my off hand. It's a free action, don't even need quickdraw. And it's just like IUS, I'm just using a weapon that's 'already there.'    

Snap kick doesn't require a free hand...it just says you get a single UA attack.  And given the name, I'm okay with that.

But there is NO clear support for using a 2H weapon AND getting TWF at the same time. You really have to inventively interpret the language to allow it...and if you do, then the other two examples I gave above also become perfectly valid, because now you're 'three-handing' it, and 'off-hand' has no meaning.

==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
Ahhh, I see. I am interpreting "off-hand" as the title of a status of attack (i.e., "the category of attacks granted by the TWF feat"). You're interpreting "off-hand" as the characteristic of "being delivered via the other hand". The "unarmed attacks can be made with any part of the body" line makes your interpretation problematic, as does the example of off-hand attacks made with armor spikes.

Excited to see the more streamlined version of the deck.


Deck? Someone's a Magic player.

(...we have an MtG deck repository document on Google Drive to match our build repository for D&D...)
No, I'm interpreting 'off-hand' as 'a second limb being assigned to attack with, in addition to your primary attack'. Which is, I believe, the correct interpretation, because not all secondary attacks are with 'hands'.

Your secondary limb/off-hand is already being committed when using 2h weapons. You actually picked the second limb, and it wasn't 'the rest of the body'. Its the hand grabbing the greatsword.

YOU are interpreting TWF as an 'off-hand' attack literally requiring a second hand, and then IUS getting around that restriction because it doesn't actually require a hand. That is not, I believe, the correct way to look at the rule. Furthermore, the IUS rule that you can be carrying something says nothing about already having limbs devoted to making primary and secondary attacks. Carrying a sack of flour in two hands is not the same as wielding a greatsword with both hands, and people know it, and while trying to argue that you can make a full attack sequence with your feet while carrying that load of flour will pass muster, arguing that you can make that full attack while spinning a greatsword around with both hands as your primary attack generally isn't going to. 'Carrying' and 'wielding' are two very different things.

And not incidentally, this preserves the uniqueness of each fighting style, instead of once again subsuming other styles into 2h uberness (like Wield Buckler did for sword and board).

==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
Incidentally, there's someone on the Pathfinder boards asking about CoDzilla.

I found the quote, but whoever it was credited to was removed. Does anyone remember who it was?

on top of that, you know CoDzilla has its own Wikipedia entry? And on top of that, neither the original quote nor the original source are named in that. Someone should fix that, like, pronto. 

Oh, and in the Urban Dictionary, too.

I tried a search of these boards, as I know Tempest answered it for me once before, and came up dry. I would like to credit the proper party, can someone help me?

==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
Incidentally, there's someone on the Pathfinder boards asking about CoDzilla.

I found the quote, but whoever it was credited to was removed. Does anyone remember who it was?

on top of that, you know CoDzilla has its own Wikipedia entry? And on top of that, neither the original quote nor the original source are named in that. Someone should fix that, like, pronto. 

Oh, and in the Urban Dictionary, too.

I tried a search of these boards, as I know Tempest answered it for me once before, and came up dry. I would like to credit the proper party, can someone help me?

==Aelryinth


That'd be me, actually. The original discussion was on the Psionics boards, someone's DM was banning psionics point blank but letting core stuff pass unquestioned. I actually have refined my position on "bring in powerful characters to punish stupid DMs" since then (my current position is: don't do it) and dread the thought that this quote will be my great contribution to the Internet. Urban Dictionary? Wikipedia? REALLY?
No, I'm interpreting 'off-hand' as 'a second limb being assigned to attack with, in addition to your primary attack'. Which is, I believe, the correct interpretation, because not all secondary attacks are with 'hands'.

Your secondary limb/off-hand is already being committed when using 2h weapons. You actually picked the second limb, and it wasn't 'the rest of the body'. Its the hand grabbing the greatsword.

YOU are interpreting TWF as an 'off-hand' attack literally requiring a second hand, and then IUS getting around that restriction because it doesn't actually require a hand. That is not, I believe, the correct way to look at the rule. Furthermore, the IUS rule that you can be carrying something says nothing about already having limbs devoted to making primary and secondary attacks. Carrying a sack of flour in two hands is not the same as wielding a greatsword with both hands, and people know it, and while trying to argue that you can make a full attack sequence with your feet while carrying that load of flour will pass muster, arguing that you can make that full attack while spinning a greatsword around with both hands as your primary attack generally isn't going to. 'Carrying' and 'wielding' are two very different things.

And not incidentally, this preserves the uniqueness of each fighting style, instead of once again subsuming other styles into 2h uberness (like Wield Buckler did for sword and board).

==Aelryinth    


        


Call it a limb, call it a hand, call it what you like. Two-handed weapons require two hands to wield. The rules don't state "wielding a two handed weapons occupies all your possible attack capability". They say it requires two hands and that's it. I simply grant more priority to the "any part of the body" line than you do.

It'll come down to the DM, of course, and you're totally justified in making that ruling if you're the DM. I don't see it as a balance threat. I don't even see it as subsuming other fighting styles into 2HF, any more than it's subsuming 2HF into the TWF style. Guy with a big sword kicking all over is a fantasy melee trope, it works flavour-wise. Guy with a big sword kicking all over doesn't do so much more damage as to be a threat to the game. I don't see a problem with it.

...heh, now I'm thinking of a 2HF/TWF/Sneak Attack/Power Attack build. Do ALL the melee damage!
Thanks.

Can you do the RP world a favor and update YOUR wikipedia slice of immortality, so this question never be asked again?

Guy with a big sword kicking all over is a trope, yeah, but I see that as swapping attacks. what you're presenting is guy with a big sword kicking all over just as well as someone without a big sword doing nothing but kicking. :P

And it opens the door to the quickdraw and drop-one-hand-from-my-longsword, as far as justification goes. If your example works, then THOSE examples work.


==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
post 74.

paizo.com/threads/rzs2p5yu&page=2?Cleric...


found the whole original quote on EnWorld, but they didn't bother to credit the maker. Bah!

Urban dictionary has what it means, but not the source quote.


and 1d4Chan has an explanation in its wiki, but not quote again. Feh!

Someone make a wikipedia entry for the term!!!!      

==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
The new one is up. I fixed the fonts and spacing while I was at it. Took a while.
Original post

Sorry for the missed week. Even with the downtime I'm a bit behind, so only the one this week.
(EDIT: ...What in the nine hells happened with the fonts here... I can't change that easily without digging out a few dozen tags from the raw HTML. Bah.)

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, Radical Taoist, 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, we’re showing one of RadicalTaoist’s, finalized by Andarious.
------------------

EDGE OF THE LIGHT
Cut, Fade to Black

Required Books: Tome of Battle, Races of Eberron, Complete Warrior, Player’s Handbook 2, Complete Scoundrel, Complete Champion (for one variant class feature), Cityscape (for one variant class feature).
Unearthed Arcana used: Flaws. First build in a while with them, but let’s run with it.

Background: So, you’ve seen the Inevitable Nightmare, which made offense reliable without sacrificing durability, and Captain Constitution, which made durability reliable without sacrificing offense. This walks the line between them: turning your defenses into your offenses. Unlike the Evasion Tank, Edge of the Light doesn't wait for opponent attacks to negate. Rather, it minimizes the chance of getting hit, and converts that minimization into serious offensive momentum. You'll be making strategic choices defensively, but tactical decisions offensively - it's kind of weird like that.

This build is centered around the synergy between four key feats (particularly two tactical feats, with a third tactical feat as an option), and it originally arose when RT was looking for kalashtar melee options. As such, pay attention to the 
feats more than the maneuvers in this build – the maneuvers are supplemental and exploit buildup effects from the feats, rather than the other way around. Oh, and I think you'll be surprised. This is a build that will use such optimal choices as Cleave and Improved Combat Expertise. Despite that, it can go toe-to-toe with most of the melee builds you've seen so far and drive them insane.

The Basics




  • Race: Kalashtar. You're practicing an ethnic martial art here, and it's as much a state of mind as it is physical forms, so you're out of options if you can't play one of these.

  • Ability Scores: 14/15/14/14/8/10 is a good spread. We assume you pump Strength at every chance, including a +5 tome. A +1 Dex tome is useful to round things out at the higher levels (the 15 is there as a prerequisite).

  • Alignment: Any nonlawful – kind of unusual for a kalashtar, but serviceable. (See the variants if you have to be lawful.)

  • Flaws: You need two; we're going with Murky-Eyed and Frail for the snapshot.


Skill Notes: 

Basic Equipment: Your weapon selections are odd – despite the kalashtar monk traditions, you’ll be using a greataxe and decent armor (breastplate’s fine – mithral to remove the speed penalty later on, but not essential otherwise).

Magical Gear Goals: You oddly don’t need much – accurate weapon (focus on flat damage – Keen + Collision + enhancement bonus on an adamantine greataxe is fine) and standard AC boosters are a given. Specialist gear includes the Gloves of the Balanced Hands in the mid levels, along with anything to boost your unarmed attack rolls as well (you just want them to connect, you don’t necessarily want them to dish out insane damage). You also have use for all six ability scores (Str/Con frontliner, Dex for AC/AoO, Int for warblade synergy, Wis for will save, Cha for Intimidation), so you might find ability score boosters getting expensive – one of the few places a Belt of Magnificence’s slight cost reduction might be useful. The emphasis should be on the three physical scores, though you shouldn’t neglect your Will save.

The Build.
Build Stub: Warblade 14 / Fighter 2/ Battle Trickster 3 / Barbarian 1

1 – Warblade – (Battle clarity, weapon aptitude) (Improved Unarmed Strike, Path of Shadows, Two-Weapon Fighting) (Moment of Perfect Mind, Steel Wind, Wolf Fang Strike) (Punishing Stance)

*
 Fairly standard warblade opening. TWF with a greataxe and unarmed strike doesn't tickle, doubly so with a low-level Punishing Stance. Sadly Path of Shadows is useless to you, but it’s a vital prerequisite.

2 – Warblade – (Uncanny dodge) (Sudden Leap)

3 – Warblade – (Battle ardor) (Combat Expertise) (Action Before Thought)
*
Action Before Thought chosen over Wall of Blades because we will have great AC (particularly through Combat Expertise later on), but not necessarily great Reflex saves.

4 – Fighter – (Power Attack)
*
Skill trick acquired: Never Outnumbered

You have just acquired the first of your four critically important feats. For now, enjoy getting a good PA return despite TWFing. Use Never Outnumbered as a way to reduce enemy AC and saving throws can give you another option in battle. Remember that Never Outnumbered has its own range (10’ radius) rather than your weapon’s threatened area.

5 – Fighter – (Snap Kick)
*
Skill trick acquired: Extreme Leap

We can Sudden Leap to get into position and then full attack for three strikes at 5th level. Ouch.

6 – Warblade – (Dancing with Shadows) (Iron Heart Surge > Action Before Thought) (Pearl of Black Doubt)
*
You have just acquired the second of your four critically important feats. The 'Crazy AC' engine starts to kick into gear here. The three maneuvers Dancing with Shadows unlocks are all number-game tricks based around Combat Expertise, but they’re appreciated. The two that matter most here have the same general trigger: Graceful Lunge can be used to amp up your attack roll on a critical offensive strike, while Lingering Defense + continuous Combat Expertise use means that you have monster AC and only have to pay in attack roll penalties every other round (if at all). Throw Pearl of Black Doubt on that and laugh.

7 – Warblade – (Ironheart Aura) (Flesh Ripper)
*
Flesh Ripper and Ironheart Aura are mostly there to eat prereqs, although Ripper helps with the attack roll penalties most of my feats demand. Interestingly, the third ability of Dancing with Shadows also provides you a boost to your Will save that’ll kick in during most of your combat rounds after the first, given your tactics. I say “interestingly” because it stacks with Ironheart Aura – you can switch to Punishing Stance and get a flat +4 Will save now if you want, and this is coincidentally the level at which Domination effects start appearing. (While Pearl is your default stance, your trick largely involves increasing Armor Class, which can offset the penalty from Punishing Stance just fine.)

8 – Warblade – (Improved Uncanny Dodge) (Ruby Nightmare Blade > Wolf Fang Strike)
*
Remember who's naturally psionic? Use Combat Expertise and Dances with Shadows to build up an attack bonus, and then feed that bonus into Power Attack to be multiplied by RNB, expending focus to make sure it doesn't whiff.

9 – Warblade – (Battle cunning) (Stormguard Warrior) (Fountain of Blood)
*
 You have just acquired the third of your four critically important feats. Generally speaking, as with most Stormguard Warriors, you’ll be emphasizing Combat Rhythm and Channel the Storm, although you lack the real infrastructure to exploit the latter at this level.

NOW he goes from AC **** to really dangerous. First round: Go max Combat Expertise and use Combat Rhythm to make touch attacks. Second round: keep the AC bonus with no attack roll penalties, but enjoy the Combat Rhythm damage (on either a full attack or a Ruby Nightmare Blade, depending on movement requirements). Rinse and repeat.

If the fight is expected to last a long time, you can switch from a two-round cycle to a three-round persistent battle dance simply by maintaining at least -2 Combat Expertise (although there's really no problem in keeping it maxed out). The three-round version is elaborated upon below.

This is a mature stunt in its own right, but you’ll need one more to make the numbers exceptional.

As a side note? If you picked up Fearsome armor and killed your target with a Move action left over, you can mix Fountain of Blood with Never Outnumbered and act as crowd control. We’ll improve on the crowd control aspect soon as well.

10 – Warblade – (Dancing Mongoose > Steel Wind)

11 – Warblade – (Combat Reflexes) (Pouncing Charge)

12 – Battle Trickster – (Bonus trick) (Robilar’s Gambit)
*
Skill tricks acquired: Acrobatic Backstab, Back on your Feet

Use Robilar’s to feed Channel the Storm, primarily. You’re not a tripper – you’re a dancer. And Channel’s attack roll bonus helps counteract Combat Expertise, while its damage bonus combines nicely with Ruby Nightmare Blade or Tiger Claw full attack effects. And to round things out, Dancing with Shadows gives you a more or less persistent AC increase from Combat Expertise to offset Robilar’s penalty, meaning more Channel the Storm triggers will come from misses rather than hits.

13 – Battle Trickster – (Improved Combat Expertise)
*
Skill trick acquired: Up the Hill

You have just acquired the final critical feat, and here the build completes itself by removing the +5 limit on Combat Expertise. With the bonus to AC capped only by BAB, you go from 'hard to hit' to 'effectively untouchable'. Using the Gambit is almost risk-free with your AC.

14 – Battle Trickster – (Bonus trick, tricky fighting)
*
Skill tricks acquired: Twisted Charge, Nimble Charge

15 – Barbarian – (Ferocity 1/day, Lion Totem (Pounce)) (Cleave)
*
Skill trick acquired: Nimble Stand

Ferocity from Cityscape serves us better than normal Rage due to its Dexterity boost - and, most notably, because unlike normal Rage, it lets you use Combat Expertise (kind of central to this build). Lion Totem from Complete Champion gives us pounce. Cleave helps us fight multiple opponents better. Expertise+Robilar’s+Stormguard lets you turn counterattacks into further buffs. Basically, if they bunch up, you lunge at them – you’re not an ubercharger: you can weather the storm and stay dancing.

16 – Warblade – (Avalanche of Blades > Pouncing Charge) (Prey on the Weak OR Dancing Blade Form)
*
We don’t need Pouncing Charge anymore; we do want to start moving towards the combo virtually every warblade uses. Prey on the Weak provides an offensive option since Pearl of Black Doubt may be getting a little redundant at this point; it's a great stance for generating extra attacks (getting the most out of Combat Rhythm or your insane attack bonus + Power Attack).

However, Prey on the Weak requires targets to fall to be of any use. If your DM favors fewer, stronger opponents, your offensive stance should  be Dancing Blade Form. Reach really helps (even if you aren't AoO tanking), and the save bonus from Ironheart Aura is always welcome.

17 – Warblade – (Battle skill) (Swooping Dragon Strike)

18 – Warblade – (Reaping Talons) (Diamond Nightmare Blade > Ruby Nightmare Blade)
*
The damage output from a well-charged DNB, after eight Combat Rhythm attacks and full Power Attack, can be utterly horrifying. The build can go toe-to-toe with most great wyrm dragons at this point.

Also? You’re fighting with an unarmed strike (the regular TWF attack and Snap Kick) and a greataxe: two Tiger Claw discipline weapons. The maneuvers this feat grants when fighting multiple opponents with twin Tiger Claw weapons stack very nicely with Stormguard Warrior, and will get you better use out of Cleave and Prey on the Weak. The anti-crowd ramifications of those two feats are explored further in another build of RT’s called the Mook Mulcher, but that’s for another day, children.

19 – Warblade – (Blind Fight) (Raging Mongoose)

20 – Warblade – (Time Stands Still > Dancing Mongoose)
*
Yes, it’s that combo again, in case you haven’t utterly decimated your opponent with the Diamond Nightmare Blade. Just time the Time Stands Still to fall on an offensive round and let fly.



Known Maneuvers / Skill Tricks
:
Warblade Maneuvers known (5 readied, IL 17):


  • Strikes: Diamond Nightmare Blade, Flesh Ripper, Avalanche of Blades, Swooping Dragon Strike, Time Stands Still

  • Boosts: Sudden Leap, Fountain of Blood, Raging Mongoose

  • Counters: Moment of Perfect Mind

  • Other: Iron Heart Surge 

  • Stances: Punishing Stance, Pearl of Black Doubt, [Prey on the Weak OR Dancing Blade Form]


Skill Tricks: Never Outnumbered, Extreme Leap, Acrobatic Backstab, Back on Your Feet, Up the Hill, Twisted Charge, Nimble Charge, Nimble Stand


Snapshot: Slap the +6 items on Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution (you’d probably want boosts on the mental scores as well – almost to the point where Belts of Magnificence enter the equation – but we’ll skip it for snapshotting). Similarly, Tome Strength by 5 and Dex by 1. With that, we have 230 expected HP, a base attack of 20 (melee +35 with Greater Magic Weapon, but Dancing with Shadows: Graceful Lunge can get that much higher for a critical attack) along with Raging Mongoose and Snap Kick for extra attacks, and saving throws of +22/+13/+4 (with Dancing with Shadows and Ironheart Aura to boost Will early on, along with the Diamond Mind counters – and a naturally psionic race if that’s needed).

The real interest here is the interaction within the tactical feats. Dancing with Shadows allows you to increase your defenses without seriously paying in offense (and, if you wish, converting that defense into very powerful offense if you wish to start the Combat Expertise count again – note that continual use of Combat Expertise just negates the penalty, while switching it off can basically double your base attack bonus; you can throttle it back and mix the benefits if you wish). On rounds when you do pay for the defense, you can use Stormguard Warrior to charge up for rounds where you don’t pay; TWF with unarmed strikes and Snap Kick adds extra attacks to both halves of this routine (and even if you don’t boost unarmed accuracy, they can still help with the charge-up rounds). When you’re attacked, your improved AC makes Robilar’s a no-brainer, and the interaction between Robilar’s and Stormguard is well-known (just pick whether it’s better to Channel the Storm or charge up Combat Rhythm based on where you are in your Dance with Shadows). Adding in Reaping Talons makes you even deadlier against groups (note that TWF+Snap Kick gets you two unarmed hits): since you’re always using Combat Expertise, Stormguard Warrior’s almost unused Fight the Horde ability kicks in along with literally all three Reaping Talons options (since you’re using multiple unarmed strikes and pretty much continually using Combat Expertise).

Let’s explain this in a round-by-round sense,
just to make it clear.
You have a lot of leeway here on how much you want to use your Expertise, but for example purposes, we’ll assume you go all out. Let’s also assume your base AC is 35 – a pretty basic with-gear number for a light-armor warrior without a shield. It can, however, be much, much higher if you use Pearl of Black Doubt or specialist defensive gear. 

  1. Combat Expertise for 20. Your attack bonus falls to +15, your AC rises to 55. (This is a round to use Combat Rhythm.)

  2. Combat Expertise for 20. Dancing with Shadows: Flowing Body Still Mind / Graceful Lunge both kick in. Your attack bonus rises to +35 (inheriting the +20 AC bonus from the previous round) for your first attack this round, which is probably a single-hit martial strike. (It remains +15 for multiple hits, probably lowered further due to TWF or iterative attack penalties.) Your AC rises to 55. (Graceful Lunge only cares about the AC BONUS, not the penalty to attack rolls, which turns out to be important for round 3.)

  3. Combat Expertise for 20. Dancing with Shadows: Flowing Body Still Mind / Graceful Lunge / Lingering Defense kick in. Your attack bonus rises to +55 (inheriting the +20 bonus from the previous round, and with Lingering Defense removing this round's penalty outright – but again, it falls to +35 for multiple hits), and your AC rises to 55.

  4. Since you used Combat Expertise continually for over three rounds, all three maneuvers within Dancing with Shadows can be maintained indefinitely – essentially re-read Round 3. 


This is the three-round persistent battle dance approach. You can reach numbers like this off a little faster (two rounds) if you're willing to cycle between strong and weak. Basically, follow round 1, and when it comes to round 2, stop using Combat Expertise. You'll get round 3's numbers on round 2 (very useful for a quick Power Attack, particularly if you charged up for a Nightmare Blade during round 1), but when round 3 itself comes around you'll have to start over from the beginning to build momentum again. Still, this can help if you're skirmishing between targets.

That’s the basics behind Dancing with Shadows used all-out. Remember that you can add on Snap Kick attacks as touch attacks at the lower base attack bonus via Stormguard Warrior: Combat Rhythm without really breaking stride. Note that using Power Attack on round 2 is identical to using PA normally, while using it on round 3 or later gives you “free” Power Attack. (i.e. you get +40 damage at the same attack bonus you’d have if you weren’t Dancing with Shadows at all, except this time it comes with a massively higher AC to boot).

You can also inflate your attack rolls further using Robilar’s + Channel the Storm. If you build up a big charge on this, or if you want to full attack normally (say, to get the extra unarmed hits in there to trigger Reaping Talons’ abilities), simply throttle Combat Expertise back to -2 instead of -20. This is sufficient to keep Dancing with Shadows’ momentum going ad nauseaum, although your AC and subsequent attack rolls will suffer for it (and over a couple rounds, too, since Graceful Lunge carries the reduced AC bonus on to the next round). In the meantime, though, it seriously lightens the penalty on your iterative attacks, such as when you unload with an Avalanche or Time Stands Still. Ths approach is a hybrid between the cyclic form and the persistent battle dance, since it doesn't reset the Combat Expertise count for Dancing with Shadows.



Practically speaking, this amounts to surprisingly augmented attack rolls (enough to offset even moderate Combat Expertise penalties, even on charge-up rounds – on offensive rounds, you get attack rolls high enough to hit just about anything, and you can even switch on full Power Attack at no real costs if you wish to reset your Combat Expertise count) along with a rather prodigious AC, including touch AC. The ability to switch that defense into offense when it counts – full power attack Diamond Nightmare Blade at no lost accuracy, or an Avalanche of Blades / Combat Rhythm with a +60ish base attack – can produce downright scary results when you need to go for the kill, while simply sustaining the momentum merely makes you maddeningly hard to hit.

Overall Strengths: The Dances with Shadows + Improved Combat Expertise + Stormguard Warrior combo is fierce; adding full power attacking Nightmare Blades on that just cranks up the own. Plus, it’s a martial adept that draws upon the number-game nature of tactical feat interplay as a combat style, rather than simply locking on and unloading maneuvers. You can also act as a party face with your skill selections (Diplomacy and Intimidate with a splash of Bluff).

Overall Weaknesses: Moreso than many fighter-types, your will save is atrocious. You also don’t have as many readied maneuvers as you’d like, and without Adaptive Style it can be hard to get your choices right for every situation. There’s also the more general concern that defense isn’t proactive (although you try damn hard to make it such) – and in this case, the defensive round needed to start the combat momentum is similar to a buff round. Although you’re attacking during that round, it’s unlikely to have much offensive impact due to serious attack roll penalties. (After that round is done and your tactical feats kick in, you’re a lot harder to stop – and you’re hard to kill during the buildup.)

There is also another weakness here: The reliance on Dancing with Shadows, which requires you to fight defensively / use Combat Expertise, or to take a total defense action, on multiple rounds. If you aren’t able to reach targets to fight in melee, you can’t fight defensively or use combat expertise (both actually require a attack roll), so you’re forced to use Total Defense instead if you want to build momentum. Total Defense roots you in one place (full-round action) and only gives you a +6 AC bonus to feed forward into Graceful Lunge (while this is larger than you can get with normal Expertise, it’s a serious loss compared to Improved Expertise). To get around this, pack a swift-action movement effect at the very least, and pay attention to your speed and teleportation options.

Variants:  This is actually the second Edge of the Light build. RT straight up admits that his original approach isn’t the most optimal take on the trick, even if it is more elegant in build. It’s listed below, as the
original flavor Edge of the Light:

Build Stub: Warblade 11 / Fighter 6/ Battle Trickster 3
1 – Warblade – (Battle clarity, weapon aptitude) (Improved Unarmed Strike, Path of Shadows, Two-Weapon Fighting) (Moment of Perfect Mind, Steel Wind, Wolf Fang Strike, [Punishing Stance])
2 – Warblade – (Uncanny dodge) (Sudden Leap)
3 – Warblade – (Battle ardor) (Combat Expertise) (Action Before Thought)
4 – Fighter – (Power Attack)
5 – Fighter – (Snap Kick)
6 – Warblade – (Dances with Shadows) (Iron Heart Surge, [Pearl of Black Doubt])
7 – Warblade – (Ironheart Aura) (Flesh Ripper)
8 – Warblade – (Improved Uncanny Dodge) (Ruby Nightmare Blade)
9 – Warblade – (Battle cunning) (Stormguard Warrior) (Fountain of Blood)
10 – Warblade – (Dancing Mongoose)
11 – Warblade – (Combat Reflexes) (Pouncing Charge)
12 – Fighter – (Robilar’s Gambit)
13 – Fighter – (Improved Combat Expertise)
14 – Fighter
15 – Fighter – (Reaping Talons, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting)
16 – Battle Trickster – (Bonus trick)
17 – Battle Trickster – (Cleave)
18 – Battle Trickster – (Bonus trick, tricky fighting) (Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Great Cleave)
19 – Warblade – ([Prey on the Weak])
20 – Warblade – (Battle skill) (Diamond Nightmare Blade)

This version assumes no Gloves of the Balanced Hands, hence Greater TWF.


Another variant approach drops Reaping Talons and its prerequisite feats (Cleave and TWF) - honestly, it's not needed, especially at the level it shows up. This removes flaws from the picture (and the Gloves of the Balanced Hands) and gives you space to work in one extra feat of your choice. Leap Attack comes to mind (you won't need Shock Trooper - Graceful Lunge provides the accuracy you'll need) if you like raw damage output, or Improved Trip for tactical support (generates extra attacks, you already have the usual "dead" prerequisite of Combat Expertise, and without Reaping Talons you can switch to a guisarme for extra reach (although this makes Snap Kick less desirable without Dancing Blade Form, which, interestingly enough, might allow their threatened areas to overlap)). A third, and more mundane, option is Extra Rage, for additional Ferocity uses - while this does prevent you from using your Nightmare Blades and Moment of Perfect Mind, it does not prevent you from using Combat Expertise the way normal Rage does. Finally, you can capitalize on the racial restrction of your martial art form consider any of the Kalashtar racial feats for that final slot - Strength of Two is perhaps the most useful (effectively a +5 Will counter without a Concentration check or readied maneuver slot. Unlike Moment, it works for an entire round, rather than just one saving throw, and it comes with a passive benefit while not in use. Alongside Ironheart Aura and Dancing with Shadows, this raises your Will save to +13, which is much more respectable - for a warrior, at least.)


Additionally, I’ve been bandying around an alternative take on this – add Dancing with Shadows and Stormguard Warrior to an Idiot Crusader (Crusader / Warblade / Master of Nine with more crusader readies than crusader known maneuvers) with Power Attack (you’d drop TWF and Reaping Talons, but keep Snap Kick and Robilar’s if possible; to get the most of Ironheart Aura, you’d probably use Dancing Blade Form as your stance of choice). Pick Extra Granted Maneuver and the right extra Crusader maneuvers (I’d suggest Shadow Stride and the biggest Nightmare Blade we can fit; Avalanche is nice but might be difficult to fit), and you can avoid the “just stay away” weakness pretty easily. Every round, you’d teleport, keep the Dance with Shadows going, and reply with a fully-charged Nightmare Blade at no attack penalty every single round.





There you have it. Sometimes it’s refreshing to revisit classic schools of optimization (here, tactical feat interaction) with a mindset refined by the Tome of Battle – just as the Tome breathed new life into Sun School (Shadow Hand teleports, especially on a Shadow Sun ninja; this is kind of well-known now), Combat Brute (Nightmare Blade multipliers; see the Dreamblade build), and Elusive Target (parry counters like Wall of Blades; see the Evasion Tank). (There’s even an argument for Woodland Archer here, using ToB extra-attack maneuvers; see the Heavy Weapons Elf.) Here we do the same, with Dancing with Shadows, in tandem with the interesting links within the Tome’s own offerings.

(What next, we start revitalizing the Weapon Style feats?)

Next up: Only one person (Thanks, Caker) voted last week... For now the free-for-all will continue. I'll toss up a different build next week if there isn't a clear winner, and hopefully by then we'll have enough of a buffer assembled to make better voting options open.

 

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 Bleed: 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 vote for quiet murder.


Also, a combination of being very behind on work+prior obligations on other forums means that the showcases on other forums won't show up for at least a month. Now I'll still do them (believe it or not but I actually like doing grunt work like this) but it will take a lot of time Cry.   

 

Deck? Someone's a Magic player.

(...we have an MtG deck repository document on Google Drive to match our build repository for D&D...)



I am indeed. I was just working on and talking to a friend about a deck I was puting together, guess that word was just on my mind. I think I have actually used magic terminology in my posts on these boards quite often.

On the matter of the new build, much better!
Just noticed, both path of shadows and dancing with shadows have perform(dance) prereqs that you wouldn't be able to meet when you're taking them without somehow getting it as a warblade class skill.
? I thought it was 2 ranks in perform (dance).
5 and 8 respectively from what I'm seeing.
Oh boo urns. Okay, shift the feats. Improved Combat Expertise...has a prereq of +6 BAB. Damn. So that's Adaptive at 3, Stormguard at 6, Path at 9, Dancing at 12, Improved Combat Expertise at 15, Robilar's at 18.

EDIT: Derp, forgot Battle Trickster's feat. Power at 3, Improved Trip at 4, Leap Attack at 5, Stormguard at 6, Path at 9, Dancing at 12, Improved Combat Expertise at 13, Robilar's at 15, Adaptive Style at 18. Acceptable. Alternatively, Adaptive at 3 and shift Leap Attack to 18.
Improved Trip doesn't look to be build-critical, so another option would be to take apprentice at 1 for 2 class skills, and shift combat expertise to 5. 
I suppose Heroics shenanigans could be used in that case to pick up Improved Trip as needed.

EDIT: Wait, doesn't Battle Trickster have Perform as a class skill? Could we take those levels sooner? 
No perform there, unfortunately. If there was, that would work, you'd be getting path of shadows at 6 and dancing with shadows at 7.
I like the idea of this build, but I don't think it works as advertised. You can only apply one of Dancing with Shadows' maneuvers in any given round.
No perform there, unfortunately. If there was, that would work, you'd be getting path of shadows at 6 and dancing with shadows at 7.


There is a weird solution here - sacrifice the second Fighter level and work on getting Stormguard earlier while we build up for Dancing. Any full-base-attack class with Perform as a class skill and at least 4 base skill points will work without messing with the rest of the timing - and I think you can actually go with a non-full-base-attack class as well if needed. Good catch, though - I forgot warblades didn't get perform.

I like the idea of this build, but I don't think it works as advertised. You can only apply one of Dancing with Shadows' maneuvers in any given round.


This is a more significant point, and the fault here is entirely mine - RT's original focused on a two-round cycle (Combat Expertise + Stormguard on buildup, then Graceful Lunge + Power Attack on the execution). I'm the one who glossed over that limitation - it's in text which is otherwise boilerplate, so it was a bit easy to miss. (Plus the rules text of the abilities makes it seem like they overlap - particularly in how you can "only benefit from one" when Flowing Body Still Mind has a duration that extends past you using Expertise....).

There are still two versions which only benefit from one part per round that keep most of the same fluff here. The first is the cyclic dance, essentially similar to the usual Avalanche Rhythm trick except not necessarily maneuver-dependent - it's a charge-up round and a strike round:

  1. Full Combat Expertise + Combat Rhythm. (Consider using Pounce / Dancing Blade Form / etc. to get this charged up.)

  2. Graceful Lunge + full Power Attack, hitting at your normal attack bonus. (Use a Nightmare Blade or an ubercharge - Combat Rhythm or trips to cover for inaccurate attacks.)

  3. Repeat from start. (Consider using Combat Rhythm when recovering warblade maneuvers.)

The second is the perpetual dance, which boosts your Will save over the entire duration and gives you perpetually high AC.

  1. Combat Expertise for at least -2 (choose accordingly). Do whatever you'd like (a pounce, Swooping Dragon Strike, what have you.).

  2. Flowing Body Still Mind. Full Combat Expertise + Combat Rhythm again. (The duration on FBSM makes it seem like you continue to benefit from it even if you choose to use another maneuver midway through the dance.)

  3. Lingering Defense. Full Combat Expertise again. Fight normally with your normal attack bonus and dramatically boosted AC. (Use any of your normal strikes or ubercharges).

  4. Repeat from 3, ad nauseaum.

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 Bleed: 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.

Still catching up with the old builds... I like this one.
It's a new trick (to my knowledge) and a cute one.

You should probably transfer the content of that last post to the OP, though, to replace the routines advertised there.

In sadder news, the Wikipedia article on CoDzilla seems to be gone. Probably not deemed noteworthy enough.

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

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar