Hybrid Leader as Only Leader

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So here's the situation. I tried asking 4chan's /tg/ board to avoid cluttering these boards but no one responded

I'm currently involved in a campaign that's been going on for a while that has finally entered Paragon tier. The character I play is a Bard, and I serve as the group's only Leader.

Our DM made a side campaign starring evil characters that was necessary for the plot. For this group, I played as a hybrid Blackguard/Ardent to form the other half of the group's Leader, since another person played a hybrid Striker/Leader as well. I ended up adoring my character - I loved roleplaying him and I loved using him in combat. He was also extremely effective, which from my understanding is something hybrids struggle to do at times.

I really want to move him over to the good group, since despite being evil his interests don't conflict with the party at all, and he's not the kind of evil who goes around butchering everybody. My DM also doesn't seem to have a problem with the idea.

My experience with 4e in Paragon tier is limited. I've played the system a lot, both as a player and DM, but I've never been in a campaign that's reached this level. I've heard this is the point where full-time Leaders become vital due to monsters applying tons of status effects.

TL;DR
I want to use a Blackguard/Ardent Hybrid as my group's sole leader in Paragon tier and possibly beyond. Our other members are a Rogue, Sorcerer and Wizard. Is this viable or would it be pushing it too much?
(Worth noting, the Rogue player, though he plays a great Rogue, tends to get wrecked extremely bad every encounter due to not having a Defender or anyone else in melee with him. I don't know if having this character fighting at his side in melee would make his life harder or easier)

Appreciated in advance for your time.
If you pick up a few extras, like Iron Resurgence (trained in heal) and Healers Mercy (channel divinity power) you would have so e extra gusto. Also MC Shaman opens up access to an encounter heal. Not sure you have room for all three though. And Im sure theres more, but I dont know much about Ardents.
Remember: Darth Vader's accepted build on the forums is a Swordmage|Warlock/Fighter.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
What about the blackguard draws you?  If it's flavor, you've got lots of choices if you were to reimagine the PC.  Avenger|Warlord/Cleric(BCL) could be an effective half-leader with a side of "Paladin with attitude" and half-striker.  Not sure what a good PP would be, and you'd be pretty feat starved.

Or you could just be a straight warlord or straight Ardent, and carry a holy symbol.  Refluffing is a powerful thing. 

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Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima


TL;DR
I want to use a Blackguard/Ardent Hybrid as my group's sole leader in Paragon tier and possibly beyond. Our other members are a Rogue, Sorcerer and Wizard. Is this viable or would it be pushing it too much?
(Worth noting, the Rogue player, though he plays a great Rogue, tends to get wrecked extremely bad every encounter due to not having a Defender or anyone else in melee with him. I don't know if having this character fighting at his side in melee would make his life harder or easier)

Appreciated in advance for your time.



I think there are actually options for this, but I'd point you in a slightly different direction:
Be a Blackguard|Ardent who takes mostly Sanction-style powers on the Blackguard-side while taking enabling powers on the Ardent-side.

i.e. Call of Challenge, Valorous Smite, another mass sanction option of some kind, plus Ardent Strike. That will help your Rogue out a lot. With say a starting Cha of 18, a Wis of 13, Dex of 14, Con of 14, you ought to be reasonably decent given the apparent optimization of your group.


Yeah, no he wasn't. You were playing heroic, where anything is effective because you're essentially in the tutorial, the difficulty curve hasn't kicked in.



This might be the case for Paragon, but the characters we were playing were upper-heroic, and I certainly didn't find him bad. I was level 8 and got to level 11 before the end. I found myself to be effective at enabling, healing and damage dealing all at once. Where things got dicy is when my allies started taking too much damage and I'd already spent my encounter heal, which forced me to rely on trying to heal with Energizing Strike.

My character was an eladrin and I had an 18 strength and 20 charisma, my powers hit with fair consistency and my Blackguard powers in particular hit extremely hard due to having such a high CHA. My character is using the Domination vice, not the Fury one, and he had so many ways to grant himself THP that he was able to activate his class feature whenever I was intending to use a blackguard power.

Two highlights include clearing an entire room of enemies in one AoE and teleporting behind an enemy boss and killing him in a single crit. Granted, that crit was a daily that did 4W damage with a Fleshgrinder Fullblade. (Edit- thought it was 5W, been a while since I played him. I didn't make that mistake mid-game though)

Now I should note this is the only time I've ever gotten to play a Striker, even a half-Striker, so my perception of damage dealing might be skewed. Overall I'm just kind of surprised at the negativity towards the Blackguard class, considering I had researched it beforehand and only found neutral to positive opinions. I knew the HoS classes were overall kind of on the 'meh' side aside from the Executioner, but it's still kind of surprising to be told the Blackguard is that bad.

That's... actually false. A single hybrid leader can be sufficient in a paragon group where everyone is pulling their weight. That's the real concern here though: Paragon is the point where characters need to all actually do something well, and this character doesn't. Paragon wants good damage dealers --and by extenstion good enablers-- and good status resistance (read: "Superior Will for everyone!") becomes majorly important, but there's not really that much most leaders can do about status effects. Save grants only work if you could save against the condition to begin with, after all.



I should have everyone in my group read this paragraph just so we know what we're getting into. This is our first time in Paragon tier for all of us.

Ardent/Fighter, Ardent/Cleric, or Ardent/Paladin would all be appropriate MCs



Ardent/Paladin might be a good choice. If my DM lets me re-design the character I could focus on a CHA build since I'm an eladrin, and it'd give my group a Defender which it is sorely lacking and always has (our Defender ended up not being able to play and we've had to go without the entire campaign). Also straight Ardent could be a good choice, as suggested by you and kilpatds.

You all have given me much to think about, thank you.

Edit: Overall I might just stick with the bard though after this. I loved roleplaying the character, sure, but I also like my bard well enough. It was the playstyle that sold it for me, I like Bard but I've played so many Leaders that I'm getting bored with the role.

What is your Bard build?  If you are getting bored with it (and your GM will allow a full character swap), maybe we can make some suggetions to change the build.  Maybe a different focus will keep you interested during paragon.
In instances like this, honestly I think people who play very underoptimized or even awkward characters need to play something optimized once or twice to see the difference.

Or you could post what your build exactly is on here, and we could point out exactly what you are losing and use numbers to quantify the problems.  I know I finally figured out what a leader was supposed to do when I was playing a warlord in heroic and granted 10 attacks in the same round.  Before that I had no idea what people were talking about when they were discussing the optimization gap.

Edit: Also if your bard is a Warchanter and is built to properly enable he should be doing a lot more damage than your blackguard.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I want to use a Blackguard/Ardent Hybrid as my group's sole leader in Paragon tier and possibly beyond. Our other members are a Rogue, Sorcerer and Wizard. Is this viable or would it be pushing it too much?
(Worth noting, the Rogue player, though he plays a great Rogue, tends to get wrecked extremely bad every encounter due to not having a Defender or anyone else in melee with him. I don't know if having this character fighting at his side in melee would make his life harder or easier)

Keep in mind that D&D does not have a set difficulty level, so a character that may be unacceptable here (Blackguards in general for some people) can function totally fine in a lower optimized group. It's part of the DM's job to tailor the difficulty to your group's optimization level.

That being said, it sounds like you already know that your group is in need of more than one encounter heal. Experience with your group and your DM can tell you more than we can. I agree with MWaO that angling more towards defender|leader would fill both gaps in your party, and it's pretty easy to pick up some extra healing utilities. It's not going to be the optimal pick, but it would be the optimal direction within the character you have now.

4e also has many ways around unbalanced parties. There are rules for companion characters or outside sources that can provide healing (and/or defending) which your DM may want to consider.
What is your Bard build?  If you are getting bored with it (and your GM will allow a full character swap), maybe we can make some suggetions to change the build.  Maybe a different focus will keep you interested during paragon.



I'm a Cunning bard who uses a Songbow to allow me to use some of the awesome ranged attack powers, like Arrow of Warning and Rhyme of the Blood-Seeking Blade.

At-Wills: Staggering Note, Vicious Mockery

Encounters: Victim of the Feywild, Rhyme of the Blood-Seeking Blade, Unluck, Song of the Queen's Protection

Dailies: Arrow of Warning, Song of Discord, Wail of Anguish

Utilities: Moment of Escape, Mantle of Unity, Glimpse the Future, Song of the Spiral Paths

Feats: Distant Advantage, Bard of All Trades, Improved Majestic Word, Improved Defenses, Advantage of Cunning, Battle Song Expertise, Majestic Rescue, Improved Cunning

Paragon Path: Summer Rhymer

You'll note I have a lot of melee-enabling abilities. This is because we used to have another melee before the player switched to the Wizard. My rogue has still been appreciating it, though, and it's still seeing use because our DM is letting us use a henchman melee character to allow the Rogue someone to set up his attacks with. He's not particularly effective, he's just a body to absorb damage and provide flanking for the Rogue.

The real problem here though is that we've played numerous smaller campaigns and I've played the Leader in every one of them. I even had to play an NPC Leader for two of the three campaigns I've run. I love 4e a lot but I'm sure you can understand why I'm getting burnt out on this role. 
I was playing a warlord in heroic and granted 10 attacks in the same round.



Uh... I can only see that happening in heroic if we define "granted" to include both made and granted. In which case you're still having to combine Lamb To The Slaughter, Knight's Move, Vengeance is Mine, another encounter power, and... either the effect from Iron Dragon Charge or just have an implausibly huge number of allies to target.



Bravlord.  5 allies Action pointing(1 per), Lamb to the Slaughter (3), AP Brash Assault(1_, Vengeance is Mine(1).

Very specific, but seeing the maximum of what something strong can do highlights the differences better than seeing the all-day-erryday.

Edit: That same combat everyone got dropped except me and one other and I used Stand the Fallen to toss out a total of 9 surges (it was a group of 8 and one person had amulet of life).
Its anecdotal and was the best case scenario (we were supposed to lose that encounter and the DM ended up banning Stand the Fallen from his games), but the point was getting to pilot that character on his best day was like playing 3 of my other leaders on their best day. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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The real problem here though is that we've played numerous smaller campaigns and I've played the Leader in every one of them. I even had to play an NPC Leader for two of the three campaigns I've run. I love 4e a lot but I'm sure you can understand why I'm getting burnt out on this role. 


Well, i guess it really boils down to, What do you want to play?

If you get to change your character and this isn't a high op game then play what you want and see if the DM will change the companion character to some form of healer.
Gotcha. Though while differences like that are dramatic, they can also be misleading. Like, say, when you crit with a 5[W] daily at low levels but fail to realize that daily weapon dice fall behind tenfold against monster HP...



True but, "Granting X attacks" assuming your group isn't made of particularly weak tofu is going to stay strong almost no matter what you do.  The only problems you end up running into is if your group have armisael-level free action attacks (meaning everyone supposedly has a reliable one every turn), but then its a ton of free-action movement and extra attacks.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here

Edit: Overall I might just stick with the bard though after this. I loved roleplaying the character, sure, but I also like my bard well enough. It was the playstyle that sold it for me, I like Bard but I've played so many Leaders that I'm getting bored with the role.



Which leaders have you played? I have to admit, a front line of a Rogue and a NPC sponge does not inspire confidence going in to paragon. I take it  the Sorcerer isn't a Dragonborn variety? Four-person groups are great because gameplay tends to go faster even without very fast players so you're really in the action but they don't leave much room for willy-nilly character choices. Unless your DM is really in to customizing I feel two actual melee characters is the minimum you want if for no other reason than to have two viable melee targets for team monster.
Here is a suggestion that may help:  remake the character as a melee leader.  You can do this by building a single class Valorious Bard (with some multiclass options), or hybrid bard with another melee leader class to make something with flavor to suite (in my opinion, single class bards are weaker melee leaders than a hybrid version).  This will address your party composition issues, make the character different, and hopefully improve your like of the game.

Throwing out some options:
- hybrid bard/ardent, War Chanter
- hybrid bard/warlord, go for the heavy shield option, opens up Fight On for a 3rd encounter heal
- hybrid bard/runepriest, mild striker feel, rune priest and bard utilities are very good for healing, other options opped for damage
- mutlclass fighter for punishment, avenger for must hit attacks, additional leader classes for more healing

Disclaimer:  I personally have a strong affinity for melee characters, and I lean towards leader and defender.  Spending each fight trying to dance out of melee and do something interesting can get boring, while optimization of melee positioning is pretty awesome.


Which leaders have you played? I have to admit, a front line of a Rogue and a NPC sponge does not inspire confidence going in to paragon. I take it the Sorcerer isn't a Dragonborn variety?


As a player, I've played Bard, Cleric, Shaman and Blackguard/Ardent. As an NPC companion when playing DM, I had to take over a Warlord character when his player became too busy to make our play nights anymore (he was also supposed to be the other campaign's Defender), and I made an Artificer for when I ran the Seekers of the Ashen Crown module and one of my players made a Vampire.


The sorcerer is a Wild Mage.



Here is a suggestion that may help:  remake the character as a melee leader.  You can do this by building a single class Valorious Bard (with some multiclass options), or hybrid bard with another melee leader class to make something with flavor to suite (in my opinion, single class bards are weaker melee leaders than a hybrid version).  This will address your party composition issues, make the character different, and hopefully improve your like of the game.

Throwing out some options:
- hybrid bard/ardent, War Chanter
- hybrid bard/warlord, go for the heavy shield option, opens up Fight On for a 3rd encounter heal
- hybrid bard/runepriest, mild striker feel, rune priest and bard utilities are very good for healing, other options opped for damage
- mutlclass fighter for punishment, avenger for must hit attacks, additional leader classes for more healing

Disclaimer:  I personally have a strong affinity for melee characters, and I lean towards leader and defender.  Spending each fight trying to dance out of melee and do something interesting can get boring, while optimization of melee positioning is pretty awesome.



I definitely considered this. I wanted her to be a melee bard from the start but it just didn't work with the initial group composition. Now, I'm wishing that's the route I had taken.

I got my DM's go-ahead though and I'm currently in the character builder tinkering with an ardent/paladin, feeling pretty optimistic about it too.

Thanks again everybody. I also directed the rest of my group to this thread so they could see your comments on Paragon+ play. 
They're going to read this? In that case,

Hey, group! Quit rolling up strikers and let your friend play a non-leader for once!
+1
As a note when Gunthar asked whether the sorcerer was dragonborn he was asking if it was one of my Rebreathers.  It isn't, but thats what he was asking about.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here


Which leaders have you played? I have to admit, a front line of a Rogue and a NPC sponge does not inspire confidence going in to paragon. I take it the Sorcerer isn't a Dragonborn variety?


As a player, I've played Bard, Cleric, Shaman and Blackguard/Ardent.  




The reason I ask is if you've played mostly ranged and/or squishy leaders. I have a Bow-using Warlord, a Bow-using Bard and a Battle Cleric, for example,  and I find the bow-users fairly redundent in some ways even though they're completely different classes. I love playing my Battle Cleric though as he feels much different from my melee Ranger, Swordmage, Thaneborn Barbarian and Swormage/Warlock hybrid also. It can be easy to get in a style rut and sometimes changing character style can be as important as which class you choose. I was looking at your nybris and thinking maybe one reason you liked it was because you could "get in and get your axe dirty".

As I mentioned before, having a second character who can mix it up in melee is really nice, IMO. The Wild Sorcerer and Wizard are made of squish generally.


Which leaders have you played? I have to admit, a front line of a Rogue and a NPC sponge does not inspire confidence going in to paragon. I take it the Sorcerer isn't a Dragonborn variety?


As a player, I've played Bard, Cleric, Shaman and Blackguard/Ardent.  




The reason I ask is if you've played mostly ranged and/or squishy leaders. I have a Bow-using Warlord, a Bow-using Bard and a Battle Cleric, for example,  and I find the bow-users fairly redundent in some ways even though they're completely different classes. I love playing my Battle Cleric though as he feels much different from my melee Ranger, Swordmage, Thaneborn Barbarian and Swormage/Warlock hybrid also. It can be easy to get in a style rut and sometimes changing character style can be as important as which class you choose. I was looking at your nybris and thinking maybe one reason you liked it was because you could "get in and get your axe dirty".

As I mentioned before, having a second character who can mix it up in melee is really nice, IMO. The Wild Sorcerer and Wizard are made of squish generally.



I stand corrected.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
The Dragonborn Dragon (and even Rebreathers) want to get in close enough to mix it up at times if built well. That can take a bit of the melee heat as there's another target close by to draw attention. So you were right, that was (at least partially) what I was asking.

One melee target, especially without Defender defenses/HPs I find is an issue in Paragon if for no other reason than party resource management. A Rogue can get solid HP through background, but generally not enough Surges to take the brunt of melee attacks. 
Just for the sake of giving a contrarian position to consider, I kind of want to note that a Blackguard|Leader hybrid really isn't all that bad if you play it more towards the leader role. The hybrid blackguard by itself isn't horrible, you effectively trade a mark mechanic for a beefier MBA (which is a pretty acceptable trade if you don't care to play defender), as well as better skill access.

The blackguard/paladin chassis is more valuable for its power selection, which contains a total gem in Fortune Spurned Smite, as it allows a full party beatdown in the form of OAs (and before anyone starts hating on the necrotic keyword, I advise to pack a scabbard of sacred might specifically to offset problem scenarios). A Blackguard|Warlord, for example, could chain together Hail of Steel + Fortune Spurned Smite + Devil's Pawn theme power tp tee off a huge party-wide beatdown. The warlord's other MBA-based powers also synergize decently well with the blackguard's beefier MBA, and between a power selection of Encouraging Boost/Virtue/Rousing Words/Wrath of the Gods/Instant Planning/Tactical Orders, you're going to end up with 3 heals/enc and some pretty strong leader utility selection either way.

I wouldn't do it for this party just because you have a sorc and a wizard and are shy of frontline melee'ers, but I would consider a Blackguard|Warlord to pass muster even by CharOp's lofty standards. There's some pretty interesting build choices available in this direction, including a Blackguard|Warlord/Infernal Strategist (Str/Cha) or a Blackguard|Warlord/Daring Blade (Int/Cha)
So basically the only draw of a blackguard is something that a Cleric gets 2 levels sooner or can be gained from a Theme now?
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
So basically the only draw of a blackguard is something that a Cleric gets 2 levels sooner or can be gained from a Theme now?



It's weapon vs a NAD and you get your own damaging hit in. An off-turn damage ping (Firecrafter Theme) will even let you get another OA off on your own. The power is correctly priced as an E3. What theme are you refering to that would replicate this functionality on an encounter basis? The reason I use Devil's Pawn is because FSS+ Devil's Pawn effectively does what Hail of Steel would do, a full 14 levels earlier.

The hybrid blackguard|ardent is a flat and major loss.



Sure. I'm not going to pretend like I play Ardents, so I'm not going to dispute that in the least bit. I only noted that Blackguard|Warlord is not bad, because there's some interesting synergies there. The one thing I do want to note is that as far as optimizing leader novas go, generating a cascade of OAs is extremely valuable considering the free action attack limit, and is pretty much the next level of leadstriking that builds should be striving for. The OA-fest from Fortune Spurned Smite might lose to Forward-Thinking Cut + Extra PP in terms of attacks per encounter, but the fact that its focus-fire and with a less competitive action type gives it value to consider.
The reason I use Devil's Pawn is because FSS+ Devil's Pawn effectively does what Hail of Steel would do, a full 14 levels earlier.


Closer to "generic Warlord e1" since "Theme is spent on doing this" is worth > 1 MBA. I'm not sure how you can even claim equivalance with HoS except in the same mythical party Thoughtswitch was designed for, and then in a head to head vs Thoughtswitch, a Blackguard|* doesn't even come close.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
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