The Defender-Mage

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This idea began with the concept that Thunderwave is one of the best at-will powers for a Defender. Naturally, I tried to apply Thunderwave to a Fighter by multiclassing, only to fail miserably. The build wasn't HORRIBLE, but it definitely sacrificed much without much synergy. Reverse the roles, and have the Wizard dabble into martial training, and it all gets much more interesting....

Dwarven (or Human or Githyanki) Staff Implement Wizard / Iron Vanguard / Archmage

Below stats are for a Dwarf:

Str: 14
Con: 16
Dex: 8
Int: 16
Wis: 14
Cha: 11

Feats

1: Improved Initiative
2: Armor Proficiency (Leather)
4: Armor Proficiency (Hide)
6: Durable (level 12 - Toughness)
8: Weapon Focus (Staff)
10: Student of the Sword
11: Solid Sound
12: Dwarven Durability
14: Armor Specialization (Hide)
16: Uncanny Dodge
18: Iron Will
20: Resounding Thunder
21: Spell Accuracy
22: Arcane Mastery
24: Great Fortitude
26: Epic Resurgence
28: Lightning Reflexes
30: Inescapable Force

Core Powers

Defensive:

Shield
Blur
Resistance
Stoneskin
-any Force or Thunder power

The Defender-Mage can easily shore up his defenses with a wide variety of tools. With Solid Shape, each of your Force and Thunder powers (which makes up the vast majority of your arsenal) grants a +2 (unamed bonus!) to any of your defensive abilities. This also allows Shield to reactively supercharge AC or Reflex, or provide an incredible boost to either, and a moderate one to another defense. Blur is a potent tool against anything that can't see past illusions, and Resistance is a spell capable of rendering attacks from a chosen element nearly worthless. Most importantly, Stoneskin is an encounter-duration DR 10 versus ALL damage, and at 30, is the strongest candidate for becoming an encounter power via Archspell.

Control:

Thunderwave
Mage Hand
Flaming Sphere
Color Spray
Bigby's Icy Grasp
Mordenkainen's Sword
Wall of Fire
Thunderlance
Bigby's Grasping Hands
Wall of Ice
Crushing Titan's Fist
Evard's Black Tentacles
Elemental Maw
Necrotic Web
Forcecage
Legion's Hold

Too numerous to individually mention, A Wizard has many ways of keeping foes harmless through limiting their actions. The first major category is Conjurations. Summoning a Sphere of flames, a sword, or grappling fists is a great way to control the field, as you are not only conjuring useful spells that already control enemies through their primary effects, but you are also placing semi-permanent (as long as you have a minor to sustain each of them, and they aren't dispelled, which is currently difficult, to say the least) squares of enemy-only blocking terrain on the battlefield. Mage Hand is an at will, minor action wall, making it an invaluable trick in setting up battlefield defense.

Walls, although relatively easier to move through, are useful in creating obstacles that you don't need to expend actions to maintain, and that can still make movement extremely difficult. Zones such as Necrotic Web and Evard's Black Tentacles are great ways to proactively stop threats. With the acquisition of Iron Vanguard, this Wizard gains your con mod in health for every kill on the battlefield, which becomes amazing when minions come into play, and is great otherwise. Ferocious Inspiration makes you even more unbelievably unkillable, allowing you to bolster the defense that was breached to nearly unhittable levels (considering the defense boost from using this power), heal yourself with a second wind, elminate the target that would drop you, or make him simply lose his action. Simply put, with this ability, if you have an action point and an immediate action open, there is no reason that you should die. Trample the Fallen adds additional bite to many of your powers. Frontline Surge and Inexorable Shift are typical defender abilities that compliment the build well, and Indomitable Strength allows you to heal yourself, and dazing is very useful for allowing this Wizard to cast in the thick of combat, where he's most at home.

Dwarf has two useful ability modifiers, gives you minor actions Second Wind, and Dwarven Durability is the single greatest survivability feat in this game. Githyanki are incredible for their +2 to Int AND Con, a great mobility power, a bonus to Wisdom (this builds weakest defense by the end) and a passive bonus to Initiative rolls. Human gain a small net bonus to their Defenses over the others, and have amazing feats that allow you to overcome debilitating defenses with ease while granting a critical attack boost when it matters most. Overall, I believe Human (+2 Int) to actually be the best Defender-Mage's, but all 3 are incredibly viable and bring their own unique strengths to the build.

Archmage compliments this build nicely, granting much more access to the daily powers that make up most of this builds combat style, while granting the amazing Arcane Spirit. Seriously, when you get this, if an enemy actually manages to get the best of you, you pick up Insubstantial AND Phasing, and fully restored health. In short, you're a defensive GOD. At 30th, you will have Stoneskin always on, if you weren't already unstoppable enough.

To-Do list:
Actual power progression isn't fully fleshed out yet. No gear has been finalized. Overall build is still in an early stage, and almost certainly could be further optimized in terms of feat placement.
Reserved for future content, including level snapshots and build options
Looks like you posted most of your text twice. Whoops, huh? :P

Can you elaborate a bit on how you use thunderwave? Pushing foes back is handy, but since you don't knock them down, slow or otherwise immobilize them I'm not sure of its overall utility. The main problem that I've been coming across is that the times where it's tactically advantageous to push someone away (such as right beside my fighter buddy), I'll be in very big danger of hitting said fighter or another party member. The Epic feat that lets you ignore allies' spaces in area effects is an awful long way.

I ask because I like the idea of thunderwave a lot, but I'm finding it has limitations. What do you think?

Interested in commentary on Gish via Wiz with a splash of a Melee class, like the one here.
Yeah, I've been meaning to update and do a little bumpage myself.

Chimaera2000: I do think it has some limitations, but that proper positioning will overcome any problems with targeting a good deal of the time, assuming you have a party that works well with this type of build. I see pushing as very useful for bouncing foes into disadvantageous terrain (zones your wizard has created, or more natural surroundings), or simply allowing your party to advance on a position, closing in an enemy. Also, you can use it to disengage, help someone else retreat or with the aid of terrain or an action point, allow you to use a ranged effect without drawing an OA.

Currently, I believe builds like this will diverge into two categories: the more threatening builds using Str and Int, or the more defensive ones using Con and Int. As all mighty as it may be, this isn't an orb Wizard, and will never use Wis on the level that they do. Simply put, the vast majority of this build's best attacks don't include "save ends" effects. This also makes Cha less important than usual, although still very tempting.

My next concern is full viability. I'm not too hot on a Defender that can't start defending until Paragon tier, and would like for this to be a viable replacement defender from level 1.

Taking in info surrounding the release of the game has changed my opinions on much of the execution for this build, but I still believe it has merit, and I'll be updating shortly with some ideas of where I think it needs to go from here.
Holy crap this is exactly what I've been looking for. A dwarf wizard using a staff has been something I've been wanting to explore but seeing as a wizard is generally well protected I saw no need for it.. but playing a defender role definitely warrants such a move.
Why do you have Student of the Sword at level 10? Doesn't look like you get much out of it, especially at that level. Plus, you don't have any of the power swap feats, so you can't go into Paragon Multiclassing...
Why do you have Student of the Sword at level 10? Doesn't look like you get much out of it, especially at that level. Plus, you don't have any of the power swap feats, so you can't go into Paragon Multiclassing...

Because some of us can read and saw that he took the Fighter Paragon path Iron Vanguard, which actually works pretty well with a Wizard. I'm not sure it's better than Blood Mage, but it's pretty nice.
Ahoy there!

Thanks for posting that! I 'm a huge fan of the Thunderwave as well, even it 's just for it visual effects.

On a sidenote: Ye suggest taking Hide Armor Proficiency. I can see that with boosting your Int up to 18 at level 8 and 20 at lvl 14, 22 at lvl 24 you can get a rather high basic AC. (AC 32 with Darkhide, Int bonus, staff, level bonus at lvl 16) Still, I 'd consider retraining to Chainmail around Lvl 16. so you can have access to the Armor Powers better suited for defenders.

Cheers!

Captn M.

Better to fight windmills than become a miller!

One thing I'm a little confused on, how is this build getting into iron vanguard? I thought you needed all 4 multi-class feats to qualify for the paragon path?
One thing I'm a little confused on, how is this build getting into iron vanguard? I thought you needed all 4 multi-class feats to qualify for the paragon path?

I'ts a good thing you don't. :P

Reread the multiclass section again if you are unsure.
Being a Defender isn't just about having high defenses and HP.

You need to be sticky, and you need to be able to punish enemies for attacking your allies.

If you can't do that, you're not a Defender; you're a controller with high defenses.
Whoa... wait...

So you're saying that any class can paragon into any paragon path?

That's...

Really crunchy.

And has great potential for awesome fluff.
So you're saying that any class can paragon into any paragon path?

You know, you guys would know things like this already if you read the PH.

I feel sorry for your DMs and fellow players. Are most people like this, only reading some of the rules? I don't expect to see this kind of stuff on the rules-intensive Optimization board. Get with the program, guys.
Whoa... wait...

So you're saying that any class can paragon into any paragon path?

That's...

Really crunchy.

And has great potential for awesome fluff.

If you take the base multiclass feat for another class, you count as that class as well as your original class for the purposes of paragon path pre-requisites. So if you take Student of the Sword, you qualify for fighter paragon paths.

If you have the feat and all three powerswap feats, then you can take another class INSTEAD of your paragon path, if you wish.

All of this is very clearly laid out in the PHB. It's at the end of the feats section.
On a sidenote: Ye suggest taking Hide Armor Proficiency. I can see that with boosting your Int up to 18 at level 8 and 20 at lvl 14, 22 at lvl 24 you can get a rather high basic AC. (AC 32 with Darkhide, Int bonus, staff, level bonus at lvl 16) Still, I 'd consider retraining to Chainmail around Lvl 16. so you can have access to the Armor Powers better suited for defenders.

Thanks for the reply, but what am I missing about heavier armors? If I retrain to Chainmail, all I see is myself losing AC and ACP with nothing to gain. Am I overlooking anything?

Being a Defender isn't just about having high defenses and HP.

You need to be sticky, and you need to be able to punish enemies for attacking your allies.

If you can't do that, you're not a Defender; you're a controller with high defenses.

This is where I disagree. I do agree that stickiness is the main draw of a paladin or a fighter, but as one of those classes, I'd trade in stickiness for wall and zone level control, and would probably have a more effective character. As has been pointed out in other threads recently, sidestepping the Fighter to get to the party's gooey center is much easier than it should be. The Fighter's aura of influence is SMALL. Instead of picking a single guy to "stick" to, I'd rather contain the enemy forces with my power.

Neither method is perfect, and enemies will always break through at times, but I definitely believe that both methods are VIABLE.
Ahoy there!

Thanks for posting that! I 'm a huge fan of the Thunderwave as well, even it 's just for it visual effects.

On a sidenote: Ye suggest taking Hide Armor Proficiency. I can see that with boosting your Int up to 18 at level 8 and 20 at lvl 14, 22 at lvl 24 you can get a rather high basic AC. (AC 32 with Darkhide, Int bonus, staff, level bonus at lvl 16) Still, I 'd consider retraining to Chainmail around Lvl 16. so you can have access to the Armor Powers better suited for defenders.

Cheers!

Captn M.

Chainmail would not help, in fact it would be a hindrance. As chain is heavy armor, you do not add dex/int to it. Also I think your AC calculation is off because you didn't add in the base enchant bonus (Meaning that Darkhide doesn't even exist without a +4 enchant)

So, in comparison (at lvl 24):

Hide: 10(base)+12(level)+6(Int Bonus)+4(Darkhide)+4(Min enchant on Darkhide)+1(Staff)+1(Hide Armor Spec)=38 AC

Chainmail:10(Base)+12(Level)+9(Forgemail)+4(Min enchant on Forgemail)+1(Staff)+1(Chainmail spec)=37 AC (Note: To do this, every choice of leveling up stats would have to be Int/Dex, which is unlikely as it looks like Dex is a dump stat for him. Otherwise, subtract 1 from being unable to qualify from chainmail spec)

Lets Compare even at level 30

Hide: 10(Base)+15(level)+6(Int Bonus)+5 (Elderhide)+6(Min Elderhide Enchant)+1(Staff)+1(Hide Armor Spec)=44 AC

Chainmail: 10(Base)+15(level)+12(spiritmail)+6(Min Spirit Mail Enchant)+1(staff)+1(Chainmail Spec)=45 AC (Again, look at the note above, if you are not dumping every point into dex, then it is a wash)

Now, some enchantments on armor for chain may be better in some circumstances, but from a purely AC computation, Hide is better at 24 and it's a wash at 30 unless you gimp your character by increasing his dump stat.
Just finished a look at another take on the Defender-Mage. This one is a Wizard of the Spiral Tower, that is primarily designed as the 5th guy in a group; that is, he should be the Defender holding off the second front, and plugging up holes in the parties defenses. This works much better for this type of character, given their love for attacks that allies could just get in the way of, combined with it's lack of stickiness that protects close ranged strikers and leaders. In a nutshell, it's a space-controller that is designed for very mild stickiness, utility and the ability to take blows.

Effects using (save ends) are rare among this guys best powers, thus he never picks up an orb, and his Wis is dumped. Cha is dumped for a similar reason; Spell Focus is amazing, but for this guy, FAR from optimal, given his other stat dependencies and lack of (save ends) effects. Besides, as I've stated before, this guy is a sort of fifth wheel in the party, and I'd optimally bring a dedicated Orb Wizard as well (or a Warlord / Wizard).

All points go towards Str and Int. Assuming +6 Frost Weapon, +6 Neck and +6 Armor, final stats are:
AC: 47 = 15(level) + 10(base) + 8(stat) + 6(magic) + 5(armor) + 1(shield) + 1(feat) + 1(staff)
Fort: 37 = 15(level) + 10(base) + 6(stat) + 6(magic)
Ref: 41 = 15(level) +10(base) + 8(stat) + 6(magic) +1(shield) +1(feat)
Will: 35 = 15(level) + 10(base) + 6(magic) + 2(class) + 1 (stat) + 1(race)
OA: 33 = 15(level) + 6(stat) + 6(magic) + 3(proficiency) + 3(unnamed)
Int: 29 = 15(level) + 8(stat) + 6(magic)

Eladrin Staff Wizard / Wizard of the Spiral Tower / Archmage

Str 14
Con 14
Dex 15
Int 18
Wis 10
Cha 8

1 Armor Proficiency (Leather)
2 Shield Proficiency (Light)
4 Durable
6 Armor Proficiency (Hide)
8 Improved Initiative
10 Toughness (Wintertouched at 12)
11 Solid Sound
12 Lasting Frost
14 Danger Sense
16 Shield Specialization
18 Arcane Reach
20 Blade Opportunist
21 Epic Resurgence
22 Seize the Moment
24 Triumphant Attack
26 Heavy Blade Mastery
28 Toughness
30 Combat Reflexes

AT-WILL:
Ray of Frost
Thunderwave

ENCOUNTER ATTACK:
1 Icy Terrain
3 Color Spray
7 Spectral Ram
11 The One Sword
13 Frostburn
17 Crushing Titan's Fist
23 Thunderclap
27 Confusion

DAILY ATTACK:
1 Flaming Sphere, Sleep
5 Bigby's Icy Grasp, Web
9 Wall of Fire, Ice Storm
15 Bigby's Grasping Hands, Wall of Ice (Otiluke's Sphere @ 19)
19 Wall of Ice, Evard's Black Tentacles
20 Corellon's Blade
25 Necrotic Web, Elemental Maw
29 Greater Ice Storm, Legion's Hold

UTILITY:
2 Shield, (Expeditious Retreat)
6 Wall of Fog, (Dispel Magic)
10 Blur, (Resistance)
12 Shape the Dream
16 Stoneskin, (Displacement)
22 Time Stop, (Mass Fly)
26 Shape Magic
The Fighter's aura of influence is SMALL. Instead of picking a single guy to "stick" to, I'd rather contain the enemy forces with my power.

Neither method is perfect, and enemies will always break through at times, but I definitely believe that both methods are VIABLE.

I'm not arguing it isn't viable, I'm just arguing that it is a Controller tactic, and that this character is not a Defender as being a Defender has nothing to do with having high defenses, or even being on the front line.

The two are merely correlated.
I'm not arguing it isn't viable, I'm just arguing that it is a Controller tactic, and that this character is not a Defender as being a Defender has nothing to do with having high defenses, or even being on the front line.

The two are merely correlated.

I see the role not based on how you accomplish it, but merely the end result.
Sorry to burst one of your bubbles, but there's already errata, and conjurations don't block movement unless they explicitly say so. Mage hand is not a 1-square wall.
With a Wisdom focus, you might also consider Cleric -> Warpriest. It's the only Paragon Path which grants Marking, and the combination of Extra Damage Action with two huge area attacks is juicy.

Cheers, -- N
Sorry to burst one of your bubbles, but there's already errata, and conjurations don't block movement unless they explicitly say so. Mage hand is not a 1-square wall.

Thanks, but yeah, I saw that. It might be a fine change for something like Mage Hand, but to do it across the board to Conjurations was a bad move in my opinion.
Eladrin Staff Wizard / Wizard of the Spiral Tower / Archmage

Str 14
Con 14
Dex 15
Int 18
Wis 10
Cha 8

AT-WILL:
Ray of Frost
Thunderwave

Don't you need a positive wisdom modifier to get much out of Thunderwave?