half-elf cavalier | warlock / PMC fighter

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I'd like feedback on a paragon+ defender I'm fiddling with for LFR and home play, a half-elf hybrid cavalier | warlock / PMC fighter.  As with the last build I posted for feedback (hexblade / PMC rogue), this one exploits sloppy wording in paragon multiclassing to poach an at-will power with no level and so is subject to all the same RAI criticisms as Mia.  Also as with the previous build, this one is partly a theoretical exercise: I'm curious how much room for improvement there is in some default terrible Essentials classes that can power swap.  (Actually, I think that the cavalier's default Holy Smite is so good when combined with Vengeful Guardian that I don't want to swap it out for anything; hence Novice Power being in a sense a dead feat.)



Anyway, combined with the Versatile Master feat (therefore, half-elf required), for my paragon multiclassing at-will swap I choose the berserker's vengeful guardian.  Combined with Eldritch Strike (MBA slide 1 on hit), I can use flail shenanigans to slide 1 or knock prone, thereby potentially getting some action denial.  Further, unlike say mellored's super knight (which does the same thing but better), this build can access encounter and daily attack powers for further versatility.  Here are the build details:


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====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
CavaLockFightSerker, level 11
Half-Elf, Paladin (Cavalier)/Warlock, Paragon Multiclassing
Virtue: Virtue of Valor
Hybrid Paladin (Cavalier) Option: Hybrid Cavalier Will
Eldritch Pact (Hybrid) Option: Star Pact (Hybrid)
Hybrid Warlock Option: Hybrid Warlock Will
Eldritch Strike Option: Eldritch Strike Charisma
Hybrid Talent Option: Paladin Armor Proficiency
Half-Elf Power Selection Option: Knack for Success
Arcane Student Who Saw Too Much (Arcane Student Who Saw Too Much Benefit)
Theme: Elemental Initiate

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 11, CON 20, DEX 14, INT 9, WIS 11, CHA 22

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 10, CON 15, DEX 13, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 17

AC: 30 Fort: 22 Ref: 21 Will: 27
HP: 83 Surges: 13 Surge Value: 23

TRAINED SKILLS
Bluff +16, Diplomacy +18, Endurance +14, Intimidate +16, Nature +10

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +3, Arcana +4, Athletics +1, Dungeoneering +5, Heal +5, History +4, Insight +7, Perception +5, Religion +4, Stealth +3, Streetwise +11, Thievery +3

POWERS
Barbarian Attack: Vengeful Guardian
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Elemental Initiate Attack: Disciplined Counter
Half-Elf Racial Power: Knack for Success
Multiple Class Utility: Defender Aura
Paladin Attack: Righteous Radiance
Warlock's Curse Power: Warlock's Curse
Paladin Attack: Holy Smite
: Holy Smite (Additional Use)
Warlock Attack 1: Eldritch Strike
Paladin Attack 1: Frost of Letherna
Paladin Utility 2: Vice's Reward
Paladin Attack 3: Mocking Smite
Fighter Attack 5: Rain of Steel
Fighter Utility 6: Dauntless Endurance
Warlock Attack 7: Touch of Command
Warlock Attack 9: Summon Warlock's Ally Warlock
Utility 10: Ethereal Sidestep

FEATS
Acolyte Power (retrained at level 10 from Superior Fortitude, swaps Dauntless Endurance for whatever)
Novice Power (retrained at level 11 from Superior Will, no power swap)
Level 1: Hybrid Talent
Level 2: Flail Expertise
Level 4: Wrathful Warrior
Level 10: Adept Power (swaps Rain of Steel for whatever)
Level 11: Versatile Master (swaps Vengeful Guardian for paladin at-will attack power, add Mocking Smite)

ITEMS
Alhulak x1
Dwarven Plate Armor +3 x1
Heavy Shield x1
Periapt of Cascading Health +2 x1
Bracers of Mighty Striking (heroic tier) x1
Belt of Vigor (heroic tier) x1
Circlet of Indomitability (heroic tier) x1
Dagger of Long Range +1
Magic Ki Focus +3 x1
====== End ======

The basic strategy is the same as for most knights: get adjacent to as many enemies as possible, and then spam the MBA, stopping to curse our target or something else first if we can.  Only here the MBA, eldritch strike, slides 1 or knocks prone.  Our punishment is an opportunity action that does the same, so it's reasonably versatile.  Also we have several encounter / daily tricks up our sleeves at level 11, without any assistance from magic items, to help set up some nice double binds:




  • 2/encounter Holy Smite: tack onto punishment ideally interrupting a move or interrupting a standard after a move (e.g., standing up), to frustrate attacks when slide 1 won't.

  • 1/encounter Mocking Smite: tack onto on-turn MBA to become invisible for a round

  • 1/encounter Touch of Command: immediate reaction dominate if attacked

  • 1/encounter Disciplined Counter: immediate reaction if missed, slide or knock prone

  • 1/day Rain of Steel stance: enemies starting adjacent take 1[W] + mods damage

  • 1/day warlock's pet (invisible Thought Phantom): as an opportunity action, I become invisible when an enemy adjacent to the thought phantom hits me



Some questions:


The essence of the build is hybrid cavalier with paragon multiclassing + versatile master to poach vengeful guardian, but everything else is open.  Would any classes be better than warlock hybrid and fighter multiclass?  (I looked hardest at bard and ranger.  Bard has no martial support and too many minor actions (skald's aura) to compete with warlock's curse; ranger has no good daily attack, and its utilities aren't as good as those for fighters.)


The build is feat starved, and I won't have room for everything.  I know the feats I should take depend a lot on how DMs are reacting to me, but what should be general priority be for feats?  I've listed them from what I think are most important to least:




  • defense patching (superior {insert defense} / improved defenses / epic {insert defense})

  • warlock curse op (protective hex / warding curse)

  • white lotus op (white lotus riposte & master riposte)

  • flail op (lashing flail / dragging flail / mobile mastery)

  • accuracy patches (superior implement training: accurate ki focus, deadly draw)

  • revenant op (requires switching to revenant half-elf, obviously)

  • frost op (arcane admixture / lasting frost / icy heart / +/- wintertouched)

  • charge op (items, mostly)



Suggestions for future power selection are welcome.  My picks:



  • 12 utility: Maiden's Waking (sorcerer)

  • 15 daily: Darkness Unleashed (replaces Frost of Letherna)

  • 16 utility: Infuriating Elusiveness

  • 19 daily: Menacing Shadow (replaces ???)

  • 23 encounter: Unwilling Betrayal (replaces Touch of Command?)



Any other thoughts are welcome too.  Thanks!

EDIT (April 26, 2013): I just posted a variant that swaps out hybrid warlock in favor of hybrid bard.  See post #13 in this thread for more details.  Again, feedback is welcome. 

I initially came to the thread expecting to do the obligatory "why are you choosing a cavalier?" thing. Now that I see what you're doing though, I'll point you to this in case you hadn't seen it. Slightly different, but maybe you'll get some ideas.
I initially came to the thread expecting to do the obligatory "why are you choosing a cavalier?" thing. Now that I see what you're doing though, I'll point you to this in case you hadn't seen it. Slightly different, but maybe you'll get some ideas.



Nice, thanks for the link.  I'll look it over carefully in a bit.  (I wish the search function on these fora was a lot better.)  Glancing quickly, it looks like there's a lot there I can study for help.  I don't think I'd be able to maintain two +6 items (weapon & implement), though; is that required for Super Pseudo Knight to be functional?

Also, how are you getting paragon hybrid talent along with paragon multiclassing?  I thought that in order to get the paragon hybrid talent you have to forgo any paragon path, whereas to swap for vengeful guardian you need to choose paragon multiclassing, which (I assume, but maybe not?) is its own paragon path?

Anyway, that looks really helpful, so I'll continue to study it carefully.  Thanks!
Ah, cool.  Thanks for the clarification.  It looks like I have an extra feat to play with, then.  Yay!
If you can't do both items, then either pick something other than warlock and get ES via dilettante (though that loses a bunch of other things) so that you don't have implement powers, OR pick a weapliment. That second one is probably better.

Also, keep in mind that it's mostly a theory build, so I went pretty overboard on stickiness-related things, while survivability only exists via revenant cheese. There's probably other details that don't mesh with a practical build, too.
Also, if you do dilettante instead of knack for success, then you can trade away the at will from dilettante.  The PMC rules just says you trade away one of your at wills for an at will from the second class which you use versatile master to pick any other at will.

Heck, you could take virtuous strike to gain a radiant at will and the +2 to saves. 
Good thoughts, thanks.  I totally spaced on the fact that my implement attacks aren't getting feat bonus accuracy correction.  Bah.  Maybe my extra feat slot (from the freebie hybrid talent) should be spent on ki focus expertise (on top of flail expertise)?  At least the rider effect won't be wasted.  But yeah I could conceivably lose the warlock hybrid.  I'm also annoyed that the build has striker hit points, all because you round down fractions at every level; if I swapped warlock for fighter, say, that would change.

Still, it seems worth keeping warlock just for Touch of Command and eventual curse shenanigans, even without the implement correction feat (yet): +2 to the attack roll of Touch of Command seems not worth a feat.  Maybe it'd be worth it later, e.g., once I have Menacing Shadow too.  Weapliment might work too, but then I'm stuck with Disrupting flail, which is not that great and not even legal at +3 for a new level 11 LFR character.  (I'm currently drooling over the abduction ki focus, maybe with resplendent ki focus training, maybe even to the point of starting with a +2 resplendent adbuction ki focus instead of generic +3, and then saving up my pennies to upgrade it as soon as possible.)

I thought about going Dilettante too, but the at-will selection doesn't look that impressive over Eldritch Strike spam.  Virtuous Strike seems situational, and Knack for Success would cover some of the same situations ("I really need a save") even better.  Dark Beckoning might be situationally useful too, but it's ranged and implement, so I'd need the accuracy correction for implements even more.  Focusing Strike might be good, but again Knack for Success does about as well.

Even more tricksy might be swapping Righteous Radiance for Vengeful Guardian (if I'm abusing RAI for a non-leveled at-will, I might as well give up a non-leveled at-will too, right?), and keeping Virtuous Strike that way.  Hmm...

EDIT: I love the earth mephit arcane familiar from Super Pseudo Knight.  I'm off to look up even more familiars!
You could also skip all implement powers with Warlock and stick to weapon powers. Iron wolf warrior allows you to swap out powers to free or no action attacks that trigger off your Eldritch strike and use your highest stat.
Another dilettante idea is to take one of the skald at-wills to give buffs to your allies as you spam ES. I'm just not all that crazy about Knack For Success, there are so many things dilettante can do.
You could also skip all implement powers with Warlock and stick to weapon powers. Iron wolf warrior allows you to swap out powers to free or no action attacks that trigger off your Eldritch strike and use your highest stat.


Hybrid Rules, you have to take 1 Warlock power of each type, regardless (Unless you take all non-class powers I think?)
"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.
Another dilettante idea is to take one of the skald at-wills to give buffs to your allies as you spam ES. I'm just not all that crazy about Knack For Success, there are so many things dilettante can do.



Yeah, I thought hard about going PMC bard (skald) instead of fighter for the skald enabling at-wills.  Unfortunately I can't just swap for one via dilettante, because it (Song of Serendipity) requires the skald's aura to function.  So I debated swapping fighter multiclass for Master of Stories.  In the end, I wanted martial / fighter feat support for the flail + fighter utility powers, and what sealed the deal was the fact that all the skald minor actions seemed too costly given all the other things I want to be doing with minor actions (cursing things mostly).

You could also skip all implement powers with Warlock and stick to weapon powers. Iron wolf warrior allows you to swap out powers to free or no action attacks that trigger off your Eldritch strike and use your highest stat.


Hybrid Rules, you have to take 1 Warlock power of each type, regardless (Unless you take all non-class powers I think?)



Dang, that's what I thought.  Thanks for clarifying before I had to ask.
After thinking a bit about some of the advice I've gotten here, I've come up with a variant that swaps hybrid warlock for hybrid bard.  So, level 11 half-elf cavalier | bard / PMC fighter.  Basically, it gives up:



  • warlock's curse (damage & future feat shenanigans: protective hex / warding curse)

  • touch of command

  • summon warlock's ally (thought phantom)


in favor of:



  • skald's aura (1/encounter heal, song of serendipity)

  • lesser flash of distraction

  • weapon only, so open theme (elemental initiate not required) & less feat intensive / more flexible

  • possible eventual Combat Virtuoso feat, for fighter attack powers


I still think the warlock version is better, mainly because warlock's curse enhances his job as defender (his punishment and double binds become worse when he does more damage).  The bard build has nice leadery effects, but those effects don't enhance his job as defender, and on their own they aren't impressive enough to substitute for a really good leader (who grants free attacks).  I think if I were a DM I'd dread facing the warlock variant a lot more than I would the bard variant, at all levels, especially if the group already had a competent leader.  Thoughts?
 

Anyway, here's the variant bard build:
Show
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
CavardFightserker, level 11
Half-Elf, Paladin (Cavalier)/Bard, Paragon Multiclassing
Virtue: Virtue of Valor
Hybrid Paladin (Cavalier) Option: Hybrid Cavalier Will
Hybrid Bard Option: Hybrid Bard Will
Paragon Hybrid Talent Option: Paladin Armor Proficiency
Eldritch Strike Option: Eldritch Strike Charisma
Half-Elf Power Selection Option: Dilettante
Arcane Student Who Saw Too Much (Arcane Student Who Saw Too Much Benefit)
Theme: Ironwrought

FINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 11, CON 20, DEX 14, INT 9, WIS 11, CHA 22

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 10, CON 15, DEX 13, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 17

AC: 30 Fort: 22 Ref: 21 Will: 26
HP: 83 Surges: 13 Surge Value: 23

TRAINED SKILLS
Bluff +16, Diplomacy +18, Endurance +12, Intimidate +16, Streetwise +16

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +4, Arcana +5, Athletics +3, Dungeoneering +6, Heal +6, History +5, Insight +8, Nature +6, Perception +6, Religion +5, Stealth +4, Thievery +4

POWERS
Barbarian Attack: Vengeful Guardian
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attac
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Ironwrought Attack: Inevitable Strike
Multiple Class Utility: Defender Aura
Paladin Attack: Holy Smite
Bard Utility: Skald's Aura
: Holy Smite (Additional Use)
Warlock Attack 1: Eldritch Strike
Bard Attack 1: Song of Serendipity
Paladin Attack 1: Virtuous Strike
Bard Attack 1: Disruptive Words
Bard Attack 1: Lesser Flash of Distraction
Paladin Utility 2: Vice's Reward
Paladin Attack 3: Mocking Smite
Fighter Attack 5: Rain of Steel
Fighter Utility 6: Dauntless Endurance
Paladin Attack 9: Knightly Intercession
Bard Utility 10: Mantle of Unity

FEATS
Level 1: Flail Expertise
Level 2: Skald Training
Level 4: Wrathful Warrior
Level 6: Novice Power
Level 8: Acolyte Power
Level 10: Adept Power
Level 11: Paragon Hybrid Talent
Level 11: Versatile Master

ITEMS
Staggering Alhulak +3 x1
Heavy Shield x1
Imposter's Plate Armor +3 x1
Periapt of Cascading Health +2 x1
Bracers of Mighty Striking (heroic tier) x1
Belt of Vigor (heroic tier) x1
Circlet of Indomitability (heroic tier) x1
Dagger of Long Range +1
====== End ======
 
One thing to keep in mind, in terms of feats that you still strongly want to include, you have superior will, improved defenses, hybrid talent, WLR+WLMR, dragging flail... those are just off the top of my head. At this level of feat starvation, the warlock build won't really get protective hex/warding curse for a long time (especially since it needs one more feat for ki focus expertise). Bard also is more durable, because that encounter heal will likely go to yourself (you are a defender that is particularly good at stickiness, after all). In fact, you might decide to pick up Revitalizing Incantation too, to become seriously hard to kill.

Combat Virtuoso + Come And Get It/Warrior's Urging should also not be underestimated. This build is a bit of a black hole, so being able to get the enemies clumped up next to you is huge. And remember that Versatile Master + PMC means that you can take PMC powers from any class, and Combat Virtuoso will affect all of those powers, so...you can really go nuts (worst case, just take Touch of Command anyway!).

Oh, and Multiclass Mastery in epic means yet another feat saved. I think bard is a much better choice.
One thing to keep in mind, in terms of feats that you still strongly want to include, you have superior will, improved defenses, hybrid talent, WLR+WLMR, dragging flail... those are just off the top of my head. At this level of feat starvation, the warlock build won't really get protective hex/warding curse for a long time (especially since it needs one more feat for ki focus expertise). Bard also is more durable, because that encounter heal will likely go to yourself (you are a defender that is particularly good at stickiness, after all). In fact, you might decide to pick up Revitalizing Incantation too, to become seriously hard to kill.

Combat Virtuoso + Come And Get It/Warrior's Urging should also not be underestimated. This build is a bit of a black hole, so being able to get the enemies clumped up next to you is huge. And remember that Versatile Master + PMC means that you can take PMC powers from any class, and Combat Virtuoso will affect all of those powers, so...you can really go nuts (worst case, just take Touch of Command anyway!).

Oh, and Multiclass Mastery in epic means yet another feat saved. I think bard is a much better choice.


These are all good points, and I think I'm convinced.  I do especially like the versatility of Come and Get it / Warrior's Urging + Combat Virtuoso, though it'd have to swap for a use of Holy Smite, which is a shame (but still worth it).  A couple of minor issues: Ki Focus Expertise could swap for Skald Training, so that's a wash.  Revitalizing Incantation is ranged, which is irritating.  I'm not sure that Hybrid Talent would be useful, as I already poach paladin armor / shield proficiency, and the other hybrid talents seem not worth it (unless I happen to be grouped with an agile opportunist striker, I guess).  Multiclass Mastery would be able to save a feat in LFR, where retraining shenanigans are legal, but maybe not in a potential home game.  It's still a good idea, though.

Anyway, I think you're right that bard is better than warlock for the build.  Thanks! 
I built a Knight which MCs Wizard and uses the War Wizard of Corymr PP.  His Half-elf Dilettante power pick is the Wizard's Beast Switch power, which is a Melee 1 implement power.  It does 1d8 + INT WIS (thanks to Adept Dilettante) mod psychic damage, knocks the target prone *and* gives you the option of sliding the target. 

At level 11, he is +16 vs Fort with this power.  I'm sure there are ways I could have beefed that attack up.  I haven't played him yet, so I'm not sure how well he can hit with that attack bonus, but *in theory* he rocks!   
I built a Knight which MCs Wizard and uses the War Wizard of Corymr PP.  His Half-elf Dilettante power pick is the Wizard's Beast Switch power, which is a Melee 1 implement power.  It does 1d8 + INT WIS (thanks to Adept Dilettante) mod psychic damage, knocks the target prone *and* gives you the option of sliding the target. 

At level 11, he is +16 vs Fort with this power.  I'm sure there are ways I could have beefed that attack up.  I haven't played him yet, so I'm not sure how well he can hit with that attack bonus, but *in theory* he rocks!   



Nice.  This looks like an interesting alternative to mellored's super knight.  It's less feat intensive than super knight, though super knight predates flail expertise, which would have helped with the feat requirements.  On the other hand, you're forced into a paragon path that otherwise looks not that great.  Being an implement power raises interesting possibilities too.

One selling point of this cavalier chassis, at least relative to the knight chassis, is that the hybrid cavalier can access some interesting encounter and daily attack powers.  But it's really feat intensive, and the knight chassis is certainly better in several other ways as well (e.g., hit points, Spirit of War).
I built a Knight which MCs Wizard and uses the War Wizard of Corymr PP.  His Half-elf Dilettante power pick is the Wizard's Beast Switch power, which is a Melee 1 implement power.  It does 1d8 + INT WIS (thanks to Adept Dilettante) mod psychic damage, knocks the target prone *and* gives you the option of sliding the target. 

At level 11, he is +16 vs Fort with this power.  I'm sure there are ways I could have beefed that attack up.  I haven't played him yet, so I'm not sure how well he can hit with that attack bonus, but *in theory* he rocks!   


I've played a Half-Elf Beast Switch War Wizard Knight, and he's worked pretty well.  Aside from the Adept Dilettante Beast Switch + War Wizard of Cormyr combo, the other thing that makes the build work is Martial Cross-Training Come and Get It + a Mage's Weapon, so you can sack your otherwise useless War Wizard E11 power for another use of Come and Get It.