Feedback on a Paragon Brawler

21 posts / 0 new
Last post
CB Summary

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Bugbear Boulder, level 17
Human, Fighter (Weaponmaster), Gladiator Champion
Build: Brawling Fighter
Fighter Option: Combat Agility
Fighter Talents Option: Brawler Style
Human Power Selection Option: Bonus At-Will Power
Athlete (+2 to Athletics)
Theme: Werebear

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 24, CON 13, DEX 16, INT 9, WIS 11, CHA 13

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 18, CON 12, DEX 12, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 12


AC: 34 Fort: 40 Ref: 27 Will: 24
HP: 124 Surges: 10 Surge Value: 31

TRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +16, Athletics +24, Endurance +14, Heal +13, Intimidate +14

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +7, Bluff +9, Diplomacy +9, Dungeoneering +8, History +7, Insight +8, Nature +8, Perception +8, Religion +7, Stealth +11, Streetwise +9, Thievery +11

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Werebear Utility: Bear Shape
Fighter Attack: Combat Challenge
Fighter Attack: Combat Agility
Fighter Attack 1: Knockdown Assault
Fighter Attack 1: Grappling Strike
Fighter Attack 1: Dual Strike
Barbarian Attack 1: Blood Bear Rage
Fighter Utility 2: Forceful Drag
Fighter Utility 6: Rock Steady
Fighter Attack 7: Hydra Charge
Fighter Attack 9: Pitiless Grapple
Fighter Utility 10: Body Shield (Fighter)
Gladiator Champion Attack 11: Opening Ploy
Gladiator Champion Utility 12: Fail to Disappoint
Fighter Attack 13: Stranglehold
Fighter Attack 15: Relentless Headlock
Fighter Utility 16: Painful Drag
Fighter Attack 17: Vicious Uppercut

FEATS
Level 1: Superior Fortitude
Level 1: Pin Down
Level 1: Inescapable Hold
Level 2: World Serpent's Grasp
Level 4: Brawler Guard
Level 6: Battle Berserker
Level 8: Improved Grab
Level 10: Adept Power (Blood Bear Rage)
Level 11: Stout Shield
Level 12: Brutal Brawler
Level 14: Eyes in the Back of Your Head
Level 16: Armor Specialization (Scale)

ITEMS
Bloodiron Stormscale Armor +4
Sustaining Cloak +4
Feyslaughter Talid +3
Sash of Ensnarement
Goliath's Belt
Ebon Gauntlets
Circlet of Continuity
Boots of the Giantkind (heroic tier)
Backlash Tattoo
Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier)
====== End ======



Thanks go to Beowulf, Bob, and discussions in Ground and Pound and Harder than a Rock for advice and ideas so far.

Starting the game at Level 17, standard items/gold, one free Defense or Expertise feat (Superior Fortitude in this case). 

Grabs are +25 (escapes are versus 40 Fortitude, 41 in "Bear Shape", which I should be every encounter), Attacks are +21.

A few decisions I made that I hadn't seen much before in Brawler Op:

  1. I did not MC Monk for MUS. Instead I took Brutal Brawler (for d8 Spiked Gauntlets) and MC Berserker for +1/2/3d8 MBAs one encounter per day, and access to Blood Bear Rage (L1) and Clawed Ancestor Rage (L25). Blood Bear Rage grants a +4 untyped bonus to grab attacks, and 5+STR auto damage to any enemy that starts their turn grabbed by you. Clawed Ancestor Rage lets you make grabs as a minor action, and 10+STR auto damage.

  2. Gladiator Champion PP, mainly for the L16 feature: "Enemies adjacent to you cannot shift to a square that is not adjacent to you."

  3. Circlet of Continuity and Sustaining Cloak offer two ways to sustain grab(s) in case of being Dazed, Stunned, or otherwise lacking actions.


The rest of the party is a Barbarian - Calm Fury, Warlord (Tactical) - Platinum Warlord, Executioner|Skald/Warlock - Guild Executioner, Slayer - Kensai, Invoker - Arbiter of Forgotten Justice. We will be taking on a modified version of Demon Queen's Enclave. It looks like we've got decent damage output, so knowing that the Brawler is not the best sole Defender, I'd like to focus on survivability and enemy control.
 

I have played very little in Paragon or Epic, and appreciate any advice you can offer! Thanks.
That 18 Strength to start is mightly expensive. If your DM wants to mess you up, all he needs to do is attack your Will, which at the level you are starting it is plenty common.


You were given a free expertise feat, I would recommend you take it. Or any expertise feat.


You trained endurance, put it to good use at U6 and U10 and give yourself that well needed saving throw against debilitating conditions. You're worth nothing to the party if your character spends the encounter drooling in a corner.

Considering you start at level 17, with 18 so close, I would start with odd numbered stats 17/10/13/8/15/10. And boost Str/Wis after that.

Don't take the bonus at-will.


Take a +4 weapon and a +3 armor.
Brutal Brawler gives you 1 extra damage on average. You'd get more out of weapon focus.
Whenever I see a brawler thread I have to throw out my Slap Chop build. Race independent version on pg 2.

If you are going for a defender who focuses on defending/controlling though, I am not sure a Brawler is really what you are looking for. Probably a sword and board fighter or a Paladin would be a better bet since they could defend against more than 2 enemies at a time (with 2 arms you are only grabbing 2 enemies). If you are going for a single target lockdown + beatdown though, the Brawler can definitely do that.
Thanks guys, some good tips.

I really like Slap Chop! I missed it somehow when I was searching for Brawler builds.

I'm torn about how much effort (stat points, feats, equipment) to invest in my Will. I frankly saw it as a lost cause, so I looked for ways to mitigate the effects of those kind of attacks, assuming they are going to hit easily.  Might be worth moving some points around to pick up Superior Will, both for the defense boost and the saving throws.

The Utility powers were another area I struggled with. An Encounter saving throw re-roll (Dauntless Endurance), mass area marking (Kirre's Roar), or a Daily stance to reduce forced movement (Rock Steady, a bigger factor for Brawlers than most Fighters, since it can potentially break grabs)? Encounter instant save (Clearheaded), an off-turn grab with damage reduction (Body Shield), or a stance that makes your grabbed targets Restrained (i.e., can't be force-moved, -2 attacks, grants CA) (Grappler's Stance)? They're all great choices I think, but has anyone had any actual play experience with them at upper-Paragon, and can comment about how frequently they were actually used?
You could go with 18 Str/14 Wis starting and just bump your Str/Wis every level. That's the route I would go with since Will attacks are often very nasty.
Firstly, if you're going straight Brawler, forget about damage.  Seriously, just don't bother.  You will never get your damage up anywhere close to a threatening level, so it's not worth trying.  You're essentially a melee controller, so take that and run with it.  Meaning it's far better to make your Combat Challenge attacks have some other effect attached to them than it is to have them have +1 damage.

To that end, something that I've found more recently about the Monk multiclass is that it opens up the bull rush, of all things, as a useful combat tactic.  The current form of my Ground and Pound build that I'm playing in the campaign currently has a bull rush with a very nice hit rate that is a 7-square slide, with a 7-square shift attached, all for just one little Monk-specific feat.  Much of the grab support from items also has bull rush bonuses thrown in that we usually don't care about, so the hit rate with the bull rush is actually not bad at all.  It was a small investment, only one feat, but it opens up one hell of a lot of flexibility.  Shoving enemies around, fine, but also shoving allies around, and then following them after, can be highly useful in an actual campaign situation.  It doesn't do great numbers on the CharOp benchmarks, but I've felt it was worth the investment.  So much so that it makes it even more of a reason to drop my next feat into +2 to speed (which I very likely would have done anyway).

But that's a complete aside.  Back to the brawler, your goal is control.  And control you do damn well.  Use it, and you'll completely shut down monsters, particularly elites and solos.  Most of them have some form of daze/stun/dominate resistance nowadays - extra saving throws, that sort of thing.  Very few of them have external "well you can't move, you can't stand up, you're out of range of anyone else" resistance.  Makes brawlers quite effective, and quite fun to play.

But spending a feat to do a little bit more than piddly damage, on a nonhybrid brawler?  Nah.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
They're all great choices I think, but has anyone had any actual play experience with them at upper-Paragon, and can comment about how frequently they were actually used?

I can't comment on the utilities, although I really like Kirre's Roar in heroic. But I can say that very few people have ever regretted taking Superior Will by late paragon. Your will defense being a lost cause actually makes it better. In a way, at least. That being said, truly feat-starved builds can use the Circlet of Arkhosia as a replacement.
I played a Brawler Style fighter from 1-20, and learned a lot of nifty gimicks in that time. Honestly, Brawler's Style is pretty mediocre. It lets you restrain, which is nice, but it doesn't really add anything useful to your repitoire. Restrain also screws your allies out of force-moving things you have grabbed, which is situationally bad. Body Shield is just great for screwing over grabbed targets, who're already pretty screwed anyways. Snagging Grip is generally better than reducing forced movement, as it will let you pull the opposition with you when necessary.

For ease of understanding, I'm putting in the rarity of items, tier you get access to feats, and color-coding for power usage)

A couple of things as a brawler:

A) You are generally better off with a weapon and a free hand. My personal favorite is the War Axe for this sort of work.
A2) You don't need all that grab/hold-improvement.

B) You are better off as a non-human, you actually have this half-right (I'll explain why in a minute.)

C) Strongly consider going a hybrid ranger/fighter if you're trying to do any damage at all.

A) You are better off with a weapon in one hand, and nothing in the other.

This is because brawler-style fighters are masters of move-action denial. You use one of the theme powers (Mercenary has one I beleive) that gives you a no-action prone rider on a power that hits. Use that, combined with Grappeling Strike to instantly lock someone down forever. Once the target is prone, they are begging for you to end their lives. You do this by stacking ludicrous numbers of "Does loads of damage to prone" feats and gear. Examples include Headsman's Chop (Heroic), (uncommon enchant) (Uncommon) Subtle Weapon, and (Uncommon) Gloves of the Executioner (The name is something similar. They're mid/high paragon tier gloves), which respectively give you 5, +Enhancement, and +5 bonus damage to prone targets/ CA granting folks. Subtle and Headsman's chop are unavailable to fist-only guys. Using a spiked gauntlet, you get similarly good bonus damage (Light Blade Expertise + Subtle + Gloves), but far worse weapon damage, which really hurts you as a fighter (as you level, most of your attacks get +[w], and the difference between a Brutal(ish) d12 and a brutal d8 is staggering.

A2) Your grabs all automatically end at the end of the next turn, and cannot be sustained. Grabbing is a standard action, seperate from all your attacks, which automatically grab if they hit anyways. The grab attack does zero damage, and can be broken by any given teleport. Why not just use your attack values instead of giving yourself + a zillion to grab? Realistically speaking, all you need is a ridiculously high Fortitude (You're a fighter, it's part of the package,) Innescapable Hold (heroic), and Pin Down (Heroic). World Serpent's Grasp (Heroic) is alright as well, as it will let you prone on your second hit regardless.

B) Be the Dovahkin.

The Racial secondary doesn't quite match up (+2 charisma?), but there is a game-making feat for Dragonborn: Draconic Arrogance (Paragon Teir.) Every time you push or knock prone, you deal Str mod in damage. You will be knocking prone (and if you get the stance powers for it, pushing as well) all the time. It's the single best DPR booster you can get as a brawler. Additonally, you then get dragonbreath, and lots of other nifty Dragonborn things.

Also, if you don't get/can't afford the Gloves of the Executioner, get (Uncommon) Claw Gauntlets. Because you made the smart move and got bit, they give you an extra d10 of free damage whenever you hit something granting CA to you, which should be basically every turn after the first. If you get Cunning Stalker (Heroic), you get CA every turn, period.

C) Ranger/Fighter is insanely powerful as a Defender/Controller/Striker.

Unarmed doesn't deal good damage by itself. Technically speaking, you do better damage, regardless of build, with actual weapons. That being said, Unarmed attacks are just wicked cool. If you're trying to make an unarmed powerhouse who can both defend and wreck an enemy's day, go Fighter/Ranger hybrid.

Build Basics:

Race: Anything with +2 Str, preferably Dovahkin.
Class: Hybrid Fighter/Ranger
Multiclass: Master of the Fist
PP: Shock Trooper.
Theme: Were-whatever, or Guardian.

Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike, World Serpent's Grasp, Pin Down, Cunning Stalker, Draconic Arrogance (If Dovahkin.) Ki-Focus Expertise.

Powers: Win-strike (Ranger.) Grappeling Strike (Fighter.) Better versions of Win-strike (Ranger.) Immediate actions and no-actions (Fighter.) Stances (Both.)  Better versions of Win-strike (Ranger.)

Because you're going to be handsy, it's easy to keep people grabbed and adacent to you. Additionally, keeping the marked is easy because you mark them as soon as their grabbed, and you have them prone all the time. You procede to violate your prone target until they die, and move on to the next target. They are marked, prone, and have to fight your ludicrous AC.

If you went Dovahkin, you also have some stances that say "On Hit: push the target 1 square, shift into the square it left."  Couple that stance with any ranger multi-attack power, and this gives you phenomenal bonus damage when you start pushing prone guys around the map while they take copious quantities of damage. Due to the interaction of Shock Trooper, MoFist, and Imp. Unarmed Strike, you have d12 +3 fists. Shock Trooper lets you do your dex mod in bonus once per round to something you have CA against as well, so that's also pretty handy.

If you want to amp it up, you take Chain Proficiency, Chain Expertise, and Hybrid Talent (Tempest Style), as well as Two Weapon fighting. You turn into a blender at this point, as you get a +2 per teir scaling bonus to off-hand weapon damage, a shield bonus, and chain at no penalty. The Chain is mostly optional, but can boost your AC and give you (uncommon) Agile Armor, which is a nice way of getting some free AC.
My Dragonborn Brawler Fighter went MC Monk and does d12 damage which his unarmed strike attacks.  He has a speed of 10 (base 9 with +1 for starting in concealment of somet kind.)

He can move stuff away from the main battle to tear it up and not leave a mess.  :P
So.. he's an avenger ?



Can someone explain to me what the benefit is of a defender who controls ONE enemy in paragon? That's a serious question, since I utterly and competely do not understand this thread.   
So.. he's an avenger ?



Can someone explain to me what the benefit is of a defender who controls ONE enemy in paragon? That's a serious question, since I utterly and competely do not understand this thread.   



He controls the everloving crap out of that monster. They can also do decent single-target if you build them right. Getting locked down by a grab-fighter can be worse than being stunned. (If you're stunned, at least you can't provoke mark punishments.)
So.. he's an avenger ?



Can someone explain to me what the benefit is of a defender who controls ONE enemy in paragon? That's a serious question, since I utterly and competely do not understand this thread.   



He controls the everloving crap out of that monster. They can also do decent single-target if you build them right. Getting locked down by a grab-fighter can be worse than being stunned. (If you're stunned, at least you can't provoke mark punishments.)



This is patently untrue.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
I only came to this thread because the mouseover for the thread had zelink saying something wrong. I'm glad it was just Zhara being quoted.
"Invokers are probably better round after round but Wizard dailies are devastating. Actually, devastating is too light a word. Wizard daily powers are soul crushing, encounter ending, havoc causing pieces of awesome." -AirPower25 Sear the Flesh, Purify the Soul; Harden the Heart, and Improve the Mind; Born of Blood, but Forged by Fire; The MECH warrior reaches perfection.
I only came to this thread because the mouseover for the thread had zelink saying something wrong. I'm glad it was just Zhara being quoted.




Probably true, given what I see on the forums
How am I wrong? Getting grabbed by a Brawler is not worse than being stunned.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
So, this level 17 fighter is better than a level 1 wizard ?
Awesome stuff everyone, thanks.

@Zhara: Great advice on ways to crank up damage, but I think you are underestimating how useful a standard Grab action can be. True, no damage to the inital attack, but being able to sustain the grab with a minor action (as opposed to needing to successfully hit every round) means that enemy is locked down for good. You're right that teleportation is a huge weak spot for all Brawlers; that's why Feyslaughter Spiked Gauntlets/Talids are pretty much required IMO.

Regarding other comments, there is NO doubt that Brawlers are not top-tier Defenders by any means. I'm playing a Brawler because I want to play a Brawler, full-stop. Not because I'm looking for the best catch-22, or highest DPR/KPR, or most effective damage soak. And, most importantly, the rest of the players know that going in, and are totally OK with what it means in-game. I know it's Char-op heresy to not always take the greatest mechanical advantage to end combat fastest, but there's a lot of fun to be had in optimization within narrow limits, such as a grab-focused secondary Defender/melee Controller (and this is still the best place to come for advice).

FWIW, with the Sash of Ensnarement and some good tactical positioning, it's conceivable to keep up to three enemies prone and immobilized for the entire encounter. Not mechanically optimal, but not useless, and I find it fun!
Lets be honest here. You want to play your character, not "a Brawler" Brawlers can choose to use not-terrible powers that have better control options and don't have to employ terrible tactics like dealing no damage in order to pin a target, you're choosing that route because you want to.

Low Damage Secondary Defender is not just non-optimal, at it's best is a nil factor in the combat. If you have fun playing that, great, but coming here asking for a PEACH and then rejecting everything that doesn't cater to your narrow view of how your character should be played is rude and a waste of our time. If you want pampering, call your mom.
"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.
Totally fair Zathris, I did not mean to come off as rejecting any of the advice offered here. My only intention in my last post was to say that there are situations where it might be worth considering a sustainable Grab over a grab attack that ends automatically, even if it means sacrificing damage for one turn, as well as acknowledging that Brawlers in general will not be as combat-optimal as other Defenders.

I absolutely started this post looking for feedback on the Brawler I had built and suggestions for improving him, both of which I have received and greatly appreciate!