Heroic Tier - Help picking a defender

30 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hi CharOps!

My group is starting a new game and i chose to be a defender for this go.

Game is starting around level 4, and probably ending around 10 (standard rules for creation).

We have 4 players in the group, and since everyone is working on their builds I can only post the current status.
So far we an invoker, a runepriest, a ranged striker, and myself.


Since the party is small, I'm currently thinking of playing a higher damage defender and started by looking at fighters and wardens; i've read both of the handbooks and messed around with them both on the builder.
The basics so far seem to be: AC will be similar between the 2 classes, and they both punish as an intermediate. Warden has higher HP's and Font of life so will be tougher, but the fighter is more accurate (assuming weapon talent). 
The warden handbook clearly points out that fighters are stickier, but it seems to me that the warden is (mainly from Weight of Earth + WSG), at least at this level...

I really can't decide. 


So basically I have 2 questions:
1) Am i missing something about the stickiness of low level fighters?
2) Given this party/level, what would you guys recommend? And i am open to any defender, even hybrid builds.

 Thanks!
Fighter's stickiness feature is that his OAs stop movement entirely, and it's flat-out the best in the game until you can prone automatically with them (which, for most classes, doesn't happen until 11th at the earliest), in combination with the fact that he has the outright best power selection.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Makes sense. Thanks!

But what's stopping the mob from shifting and then charging someone else?

EDIT - I'm not trying to argue, but since the warden can produce difficult terrain,prone for leaving a zone, and can slow at will, it's just easier for me to 'see' their potential
Because you hit him if he shifts.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
If you want a damage dealing defender, Fighter is quite good. I've played my goliath runepriest along a  strikerish dwarf fighter and we had some great synergy. With also an invoker who can dump stuff on the front line, it should be a good arrangement.
Part of it comes down to how your DM respects marks, but assuming you're well versed on the difference between immediate actions and opportunity attacks (maybe it's just me, but I see a lot of first-time defenders get confused on this), a dwarven fighter with a Craghammer is probably the way to go.
Thanks Spaced! I missed that somehow.
And Thanks Mengu for the input!

So one last question, just to make sure i've got this.
Since the attack on a shift is an immediate you can only do it once/round. But it seems that only the OA stops movement and not the combat challenge. If i understand this correctly it means:

Scenario 1
Mob1 shifts away and you whack him, but since it wasn't an OA, you don't stop the movement.
Mob2 can then shift away freely since you've already used your immediate against mob1.
Meaning they both get away, and only mob1 gets hit on the way out. 
 
Scenario 2
Mob1 tries to walk away, i whack him with an OA and end that movement. If he tries to get away again (charging for example) i can whack him again with combat challenge. He still gets a way, but i basically got to double tap him on the way out.


Are my interpretations of both of these correct? 
At Spartan - He considers marks to be 'requests' and will very often ignore them if he feels the 'catch 22' isn't good enough. I've seen entire combats go where the mob avoided every single mark since the punishment wasn't good enough, or the mob could easily get away.

This is a big part of my apprehension, and why i completely want to understand all of the nuances of the fighter before i make the decision...
Scenario 1
Mob1 shifts away and you whack him, but since it wasn't an OA, you don't stop the movement.
Mob2 can then shift away freely since you've already used your immediate against mob1.
Meaning they both get away, and only mob1 gets hit on the way out. 

Correct. But if you had them marked, they still have a -2 to hit your allies.
 
Scenario 2
Mob1 tries to walk away, i whack him with an OA and end that movement. If he tries to get away again (charging for example) i can whack him again with combat challenge. He still gets a way, but i basically got to double tap him on the way out.

Not quite. You get one opportunity attack per turn, and charging away does not trigger combat challenge. However if for some bizarre reason, the enemy ended up next to you when making his charge attack against an ally, then yes, you would get the combat challenge attack because the trigger for making an attack that doesn't include you is satisfied at that point.


For SC1: Got it! And yes, i was assuming they are both marked. Thanks again.  

For SC2: I had misread combat challenge (again) and thought it could be used against any movement (ie charge) and not only shifts (or attacks).

Overall, I fully agree that stopping normal movent cold on an OA is pretty amazing.
But as far as shifting goes, the only thing stopping multiple mobs from shifting away then charging is the fact that i get to make a melee basic against the first one that does so.
Lol, i know my DM, i'm not sure that's good enough.

EDIT -  at least until I can work a prone in there... *starts thinking about polearm momentum*

Thanks again everyone!
And i am still open to suggestions...
 
Mark of Storm + Flail Expertise easily prevents shift + charge if your DM likes to ignore marks.
It is typically fairly unwise for the DM to disobey the mark, except when creatures have an agenda. If everyone else is about 2-3 points of AC behind you, the disobedient monster is just taking damage for nothing. Part of your defending is also how much you seem like a threat. When you open up with something that bloodies an enemy on turn 1, you assert yourself as a threat, and monsters will attack you, mark or no mark.
As far as I know, a fighter is going to be much better at adding some damage potential to the party just due to power selection. When your mark is ignored, think of it as a free double tap. Also remember that you actually have to hit with weight of earth for it to work. Fighters are sticky as- is.
True!

But like i said, we've had some really lackluster defenders in the past: Low damage, a negligable punishment, and zero stickniess. Some of them had high defenses, but it was still easier to hit the other party members with the -2. And since the other party members did higher damage, and there was no real punishment, it was pretty much a no-brainer. 
Eventually the former defender re-rolled Slayer, took a few mark-like utilities, and suddenly combats got a lot easier. :/
In any case, we finished up that campaign and are starting a new one.

So, part of my goal here is to come in strong and sorta show everyone how it's done. I know the basics of defending but have only played one in early paragon and it was with a different DM. So this feels pretty limited compared to what i'm used to...


Edit - at Scatterbrained - also true! But the zones and forms provide difficult regardless, and WoE with Viscious Advantage and WSG means perpetual CA as long as i keep hitting, and i can pretty easily prone.
But, as Mengu mentioned, I do see the threat potential of doing a ton of damage and still being inherantly sticky... 

Overall, I'm not sold on either of them yet, and you guys have given me a lot to think about. I'll probably do a few versions of each at various levels to try to guess what they will look like in various stages of the campaign.

Thanks again everyone! 

community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

This build may be of interest to you as well.
Warden isn't that far behind for damage or stickiness, particularly if you go with wildblood.  They get a double tap power at level 1 with wildblood frenzy, have a good immediate at 7 with guardian's pounce, and in some encounters can be stickier if you have their good daily powers going.

The main thing with a warden is that they are harder to build right than a fighter and you almost have to mc fighter to steal from their feat support and to get the immediate attack from battle awareness.  I find warden's more interesting to play than fighters, especially as you get to higher levels and get more forms.
I've starting working on build for both, and as i suspected, i'm still undecided.

Do you guys think they will hybrid well? 
I've starting working on build for both, and as i suspected, i'm still undecided.

Do you guys think they will hybrid well? 



They can. You generally want to go Str/Dex and toss a couple of 12s onto Con/Wis - that lets you pick up Font of Life or one of the Fighter specialities with your hybrid talent.
If you're concerned about monsters respecting your mark and this campaign isn't going past heroic, consider a battlerager.  You're a more attractive target and you can dish punishment fairly well.

@5th level
1d10 (brutal 2)
+2 Dwarven Weapon Training
+2 Battlerage Vigor
+2 Bracers (item bonus, assuming you grab armbands)
+4 Strength, conservative estimate
+1 enhancement bonus (Probably a Dwarven Thrower)

That's enough to make a monster think twice.

See if you can talk the Invoker into playing a mage.  Hypnotism + Beguiling Strands make fighters even better than they normally are.  Invokers blow things up--that's cool.  Enchanters make DMs cry--that's cooler.

Knight wouldn't be horrible either, and at level 1 (with world serpent grasp) can prone if they try to escape if you hit them with slow-stance the round before.
Just another quick note, when comparing fighter and warden, please don't underestimate the accuracy contribution of Fighter Weapon Talent, for a striking/enforcing build.
In addition to the suggestion of a fighter/warden hybrid, you should also consider a warden mutlcass fighter and fighter multiclass warden.

If you want to adjust for your DM' style and punish the hell out of somebody who violates your mark, consider assault swordmage hybrid warlock (hitting with Eldritch Strike) or a hybrid Fey Warlock Paladin (invisible laser punishment).
In addition to the suggestion of a fighter/warden hybrid, you should also consider a warden mutlcass fighter and fighter multiclass warden.

If you want to adjust for your DM' style and punish the hell out of somebody who violates your mark, consider assault swordmage hybrid warlock (hitting with Eldritch Strike) or a hybrid Fey Warlock Paladin (invisible laser punishment).



Then there is also the dragonborn fighter|paladin with harlequin style brash strike shenanigans that double taps punishment.

Edit: Almost forgot, this build will also let you pick up a way or 2 to enforce marks at range!
Hi again everyone!

I've spent the last 2 days at my job, doing holiday stuff, and working on the builds. I want to take a moment to formally respond to all the posts i've missed, and i'll post up my inital build afterwards.

@Wizdidit - Thanks for the link! Granted i didn't study it, but that build seems to have a lot of parts that won't really be available at level 4. I have it bookmarked in case i ever get to start in epic!

@DSMR - I know I'm only supposed to lock down a few of them, (my example scenerios only had 2 mobs in them) i just wanted to make sure i can actually keep them locked down! 

@Gelatinous - Thanks for the input! Maybe i'm just weird, but it was easy to for me to see a warden's stickiness right out of the gate - it was just obvious in the powers. Maybe i'm misinterpreting how you guys define sticky? I'm defining it as mobs can't leave even if they want too; whether they like it or not they are stuck there (Difficult terrain zones, slow + prone, immobolized, things like that). Fighters don't have much of that built right into their powers (but they get it through combos), so it was harder for me. 
I also agree that Wardens look to be more fun at higher levels, and sadly, this game will likely end around 8-10. 

@MWaO - They do turn out pretty decent together! As you suggested i went with a high Dex and Font of Life. I'm still tinkering with that build (and enjoying it!), but don't have anything ready to post.

@Spartan - All of those damage mods can pretty easily be obtained with any dwarf, be him fighter or warden, so it doesn't help pick a build. It does help illustrate the point of doing enough damage to keep mobs interested, so i do appreciate it. 
As for the controller, he is dead set on being an invoker, and even called it last campaign ("my next pc is going to be an invoker"). Getting him to swap is likely out of the question. 

@Matt - i gave knight a quick look before i started this thread. Nothing against them, i just never really considered it. I'll give them a second look!

@Mengu - I'm not, i know enough about system maths to know that a +1 is pretty huge! But thanks again!

@Misha - I don't think i could be a Warden without MC Fighter, but i never thought it if the other way around... Taking your advice i plopped a mc warden feat into the fighter, and love the extra marking potential. Thanks!

@Jug & Misha- Those other hybrids sounds fun, Hopefully i'll get enough time to really explore them... The game will be starting on dec 28th, so i only have 5 days to get a final build, and between christmas and work, it's significantly less than that.
 
 
Since the community at large seemd to think that fighters are better, i decided to 'complete' a fighter build first.

Here's my first pass, I'm sure it needs some work.

Show


====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Fighter, level 4
Goliath, Fighter (Weaponmaster)
Fighter Option: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents Option: One-handed Weapon Talent
Inherent Bonuses
Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
Theme: Guardian

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 21, CON 10, DEX 14, INT 10, WIS 15, CHA 8

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 10, DEX 13, INT 10, WIS 13, CHA 8


AC: 22 Fort: 20 Ref: 17 Will: 16
HP: 54 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 13

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +12, Endurance +5, Intimidate +6, Perception +9

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Arcana +2, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +1, Dungeoneering +4, Heal +4, History +2, Insight +4, Nature +6, Religion +2, Stealth +2, Streetwise +1, Thievery +2

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Guardian Attack: Guardian's Counter
Goliath Racial Power: Stone's Endurance
Fighter Attack: Combat Challenge
Fighter Attack 1: Cleave
Fighter Attack 1: Footwork Lure
Fighter Attack 1: Steel Serpent Strike
Fighter Attack 1: Tempest Dance
Fighter Utility 2: Glowering Threat
Fighter Attack 3: Rain of Blows

FEATS
Level 1: Flail Expertise
Level 2: Defender of the Wild
Level 4: Mobile Challenge

ITEMS
Flail x1
Scale Armor x1
Heavy Shield x1
====== End ======




A few things of note:

Knowing this char doesn't really have a solid need for a secondary, and will never make paragon i went with the 18/13/13/10/10/8 stat array, since i could do bumps to dex and wis at 4 and 8 respectively. I'll be happy to change it, if enough of you think i should.

Benchmarks seem good, attack rolls are solid at level+8, but ac seems a little low (level+18).
Nads seem basically ok at level +16/+13/+12. I'm considering Superior Will at either level 6 or 8 and completely forgoing Imp Def. Thoughts? 

We are NOT using inherant bonuses, i just find it easier to equip mundane gear and turn on inherant bonuses while i'm poking around. This gives me a good feel for the numbers, and i'll uncheck IB and pick actual gear when i've settled on a build i like. 
Having said that, you will notice that i haven't picked gear yet, just a few placeholders to get numbers in line. I am completely open to (and appreciate) gear help.

Speaking of gear, I really enjoy the synergy of Footwork Lure + Flail Expertise for an at-will prone, and using a flail also allows for RoB. So i'm really leaning towards the flail, but as always, open to suggestions.

Lastly, Mobile Challenge is in there to help avoid the shift+charge scenario but i'm not sure it's necessary. I'm thinking Improved Init instead, but am open to anything. Thoughts?



Thanks again for all your help everyone!
 
If you do start at level 4, please start with 17/10/13/10/15/8. Get Wis to 16 and forget about it then.

That should give your mark punishment some punch.

Why Cleave, why Steel Serpent Strike, why Tempest Dance?

Oh, and why both those feats ?    


    
Most of the decisions were made from picking things from the handbook: everything i've picked is ranked blue/sky blue by LDB and in most cases is included in his level summary. 

I'm guessing you didn't really read this whole thread, but, in essence, my main concerns are being able to multimark and then forcing them to stay close to me (by slowing, proning, immobilizing, etc). I picked Steel Serpent Strike rather early since it grants slow+cannot shift until me EONT. Serpent's Coil may be better since i've started investing in a flail...

Cleave seems good for minion checking, and i'm not really sure what would be better. Maybe Viscious Offensive?

Tempest Dance was for some good multi-marking, but it may not be as necessary with the Warden MC (especially if i grab Viscious Offensive). It's prolly an easy swap for Villan's Menance.
 

By two feats, I'm assuming you are referring to Defender of the Wild and Mobile challenge. Defender was to mc warden for extra marking and training in perception. Mobile challenge was to help avoid enemies from shifting and charging. As mentioned, i'm not sure it's still necessary.




EDIT - Dropping in a revised build that uses some of Hermit's advice, and a few other things i noticed:
Show


====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Fighter, level 4
Goliath, Fighter (Weaponmaster)
Fighter Option: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents Option: One-handed Weapon Talent
Inherent Bonuses
Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
Theme: Guardian

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 20, CON 10, DEX 15, INT 10, WIS 16, CHA 8

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 17, CON 10, DEX 14, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 8


AC: 22 Fort: 20 Ref: 17 Will: 19
HP: 53 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 13

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +12, Endurance +5, Intimidate +6, Perception +10

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Arcana +2, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +1, Dungeoneering +5, Heal +5, History +2, Insight +5, Nature +7, Religion +2, Stealth +2, Streetwise +1, Thievery +2

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Guardian Attack: Guardian's Counter
Goliath Racial Power: Stone's Endurance
Fighter Attack: Combat Challenge
Fighter Attack 1: Footwork Lure
Fighter Attack 1: Vicious Offensive
Fighter Attack 1: Steel Serpent Strike
Fighter Attack 1: Villain's Menace
Fighter Utility 2: Glowering Threat
Fighter Attack 3: Rain of Blows

FEATS
Level 1: Flail Expertise
Level 2: Defender of the Wild
Level 4: Superior Will

ITEMS
Flail x1
Scale Armor x1
Heavy Shield x1
====== End ======

 
 
Main changes include bouncing stats around to boost dex and wis, switching Cleave for Vicious Offensive, Switching Tempest to Villian's Menace, and switching a feat (Mobile Challenge) for Superior Will (Overall, NADs are much better now at level +16, +13, +15).

I'm still deciding on RoB vs Sweeping Blow. Thoughts?

Anything Else? 
For the second at-will, would you consider Threatening Rush?
I am assuming damage won't be your main goal anyway, so the loss of +Str to damage isn't too much of a loss if it means you can multi-mark.

As an E1, if multi-mark is your goal, why not Goading Maneuver?


Personally, I like a Daily, particularly when you only have one, to give an encounter long boost, like Villains Menace does, but now that you explained it, I do get your choice for Tempest Dance.


While Rain of Blows is definitely nice if you want to get into the damage game, I think for a defender, there are better choices here. Two immediates, or the multi attacking Sweeping Blow. I would go for Immediate Vengeance here.


  

   
Thanks Again!

I mentioned earlier in the thread that we are in a party of 4 (Invoker, Runepriest, some kind of striker, and myself). Topping the proverbial damage chart isn't my goal, but i do want to keep my numbers pretty respectable since we are a small party. Also, my DM will ignore marks if the catch-22 isn't up to snuff, so having a good punishment is important.
So my overall goals are pretty typical: have good defenses, have a good punishment, get a few marks out, and try to prevent enemies from getting away.
I'm realistic that i won't be able to able to do all of these things perfectly at level 4, but i do need to be cognizant of them as i level...



I'm considering the switch to Threatening Rush. The loss of Str is pretty significant at this level, and i'm not sure there will be too many situations when i'm adjacent to 3+ enemies. And in those situations I'll still be able to use the MC Warden to mark them all as a free action. Having said that, i do really enjoy the fact that it can be used on a charge.

For the E1, i chose Steel Serpent Strike to keep someone adjacent to me. I expect there to be plenty of situations where i need to restrict someone's movement, and SSS does a great job of it. Maybe i won't need it with Footwork Lure + Flail Expertise, but it gives me another option. 

I do agree with Villan's Menance, the buff is HUGE (even on a miss), and will get me to level+11 on attack rolls for that encounter (+13 with CA). That's kinda rediculus at this level. :D

Which brings us back to the E3. I know that general CharOp wisdom is to have good at-wills and use your encounters to pick up minor/off-turn attacks. But my initial concern with using an immediate was my DM will seize the opportunity and have enemies try to shift away that turn (i won't be able to use combat challenge). Or, similarly, if i use combat challenge, i won't have an immediate action left to use the power.
I understand that it's probably silly of me to expect to use an immediate every turn, but until i feel a little more comfortable with the class and dm, i'd like to stay away from encounter power immediates. I can always retrain next level. 
I am going to go with Sweeping Blow, at least for now.  It's more accurate (i'll get an extra +2 since i'm using a flail), and I don't really have the damage mods to make RoB shine.

Revised Build, now with some gear!
Show


====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Holly, level 4
Goliath, Fighter (Weaponmaster)
Fighter Option: Combat Superiority
Fighter Talents Option: One-handed Weapon Talent
Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
Theme: Guardian

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 20, CON 10, DEX 15, INT 10, WIS 16, CHA 8

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 17, CON 10, DEX 14, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 8


AC: 22 Fort: 20 Ref: 17 Will: 19
HP: 53 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 13

TRAINED SKILLS
Athletics +12, Endurance +6, Intimidate +6, Perception +10

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +2, Arcana +2, Bluff +1, Diplomacy +1, Dungeoneering +5, Heal +5, History +2, Insight +5, Nature +7, Religion +2, Stealth +2, Streetwise +1, Thievery +2

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Guardian Attack: Guardian's Counter
Goliath Racial Power: Stone's Endurance
Fighter Attack: Combat Challenge
Fighter Attack 1: Footwork Lure
Fighter Attack 1: Undecided (Threatening Rush or Vicious Offensive)
Fighter Attack 1: Steel Serpent Strike
Fighter Attack 1: Villain's Menace
Fighter Utility 2: Glowering Threat
Fighter Attack 3: Sweeping Blow

FEATS
Level 1: Flail Expertise
Level 2: Defender of the Wild
Level 4: Superior Will

ITEMS
Heavy Shield x1
Amulet of Life +1 x1
Dwarven Scale Armor +1 x1
Alhulak of Defense +1 x1
====== End ======

 
 
Main changes here are RoB => Sweping Blow.
For Gear I grabbed an Alhulak of Defense (resist all 1 seems nice), and an Amulet of Life for my level 4 & 5 Items. I bought Dwarven Scale with cash money, and I still have a level 3 'free' item open (i'm considering Headband of Second Chances).

Thanks again, and more help is still appreciated!