Oh! blame not the bard. - The Bard Handbook

478 posts / 0 new
Last post

The Bard Handbook
Oh! blame not the bard - Thomas Moore

IMAGE(http://www.meaus.com/euridice-and-orpheus.JPEG)

After languishing as a second tier class in 3.5 the bard is back. And quite frankly it is possibly the most interesting and fun class to play yet. This handbook will continue to expand as we learn more, especially in March and April of '09.

Table of Contents
The Bard's Role
The Bardic Virtues
Weapons and Implements
The Bardic Armor
Attributes
Races
How to be a better leader
Powers that always have an effect
Powers that Target Weak NADs
At Will Powers
Encounter Powers
Utility Powers
Daily Powers
Paragon Path
Epic Destiny
Multiclassing, Part 1
Multiclassing, Part 2
Feats
Skills
Links
Virtue of Valor Builds
Virtue of Cunning Builds
Other Builds, Part 1
Other Builds, Part 2
Other Builds, Part 3
Equipment

Everything here is open for discussion. Valid and detailed critical input will help this guide be the best it can be.

Fomatting, layout and general outline shamelessly cribbed from sCRuLooSe's excellent Warlord Guide.


Every thing that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads and then lay by.
In sweet music is such art,
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.

William Shakespeare - Orpheus



Notes on the Rating System
Sky Blue: The best of the best choices.
Blue: Special forces but not elite.
Black: If you consider average acceptable for combat, this might be for you.
Purple: For corner cases only. These options require VERY specific circumstances to even consider.
Red: This is a false option.

Current Progress
3/15/09 - Rated all powers for all 30 levels.

The Bard's Role

The Bardic Virtues



Both Bardic Virtues are fun, and both are very useful. I personally feel that Virtue of Cunning wins out, especially if you want to multiclass.

Virtue of Cunning: aka the cannybard (we will not use the term cunbard or the even worse cunnibard) or the Cunning Bard
For your INT Bard. I really enjoy cunning. But it does require that you keep a watch on the battlefield. That extra slide has saves a party member almost every combat. I also use it to circle the bad guys, move a PC out of an AoE, set up powers that damage the baddies when they move (Pike Hedge), put baddies in a PC's aura, stick a fighter on baddies. (It helps that we also have a warlord with wolf-pack tactics.) It has so many uses.

Virtue of Valor: aka the valbard, or the Valorous Bard
For your Con Bard. Temp hit points are the new damage reduction. This Virtue has a useful class feature, but it doesn't quite trigger often enough. When compared to War Song Strike this Feature looks even weaker. If you want to multiclass, only one other class uses CON as its primary (read To-Hit) stat, meaning you will likely want to take Combat Virtuoso. Another consideration is, you are likely to be granting the temp HP to the damage dealers and not the tanks. Which is NOT your best option tactically speaking. Still, a very good class feature, and worth considering.

Virtue of Prescience: aka the Prebard, the presbalouskibard, or the Prescient Bard
For the WIS Bard. I wish this feature could be used more than once an encounter. As it is, there is an encounter power that lets you basically adopt this feature without speciallizing in it. (As opposed to other features where you can take a power that lets you use a limited version of the power.) The good news is that if you want to MC, WIS is a good stat to keep high. However, it provides a lot of the benefits that CHA does, making the Prebard less durable. Finally there are no WIS CHA races, making this build even more problematic. All told, I wish this had been a DEX build, especially since it is SUPPOSED to use ranged weapons.

Weapons and Implements



Since Bards are so skilled at multiclassing, they have the potential to use all kinds of different implements and weapons. This can lead to problems as the bard may have to switch out items in mid combat, possibly costing them vital actions. Worse still - while most melee characters can choose a weapon type and stick with it no matter what exploit they use, a heavily multiclassed bard could have 3 to 4 times the number of implements to pay for. Given 4th Eds economic setup this is a huge drain on personal and party resources for minimal benefit. The reality is that you will likely have one nice implement, and several sub-par implements. When you further compound this with a tertiary stat, and your chance of hitting can drop 15 - 25%.

There are some solutions to MID (Multi-implement Dependency). Some of the implements can serve as proxies for other implements, and some of the implements span a number of classes. You can also hold multiple implements. This allows you to add multiple properties to a power.

Weapons & Songblades

Wands

Wand of Psychic Ravaging: Valorous, Cunning- A must have for Cunning bards. Good for Valorous bards, but they will probably be much better off just using their songblade.


Instruments

Other (Multiclass) Implements

Star of Corellion: Valorous, Cunning- This beauty serves as an implement for all arcane implements. This is another must have for bards who multiclass, as it opens up any Arcane or Divine class (except the invoker - bummer) and it does not take up a slot. Not taking up a slot is HUGE. It means that you can get the benifit of multiple implements. Make the SoC your imlement with the most plusses. Then keep several wands with neat add on effects and pull those out depending on the power you are using.

Bardic Armor

Attributes



Attributes for the Bard are a tricky thing. Because the bard has so many multiclassing options it takes some forethought on the character's entire career path to make them fully effective. If you go at it willy nilly you can very well end up with a difficult to play character. My recommendation is to start with an idea of what classes you might want to dabble in. Then you want to narrow the field down to one attribute outside your main two (CHA and CON or INT), lets call that your Multiclass Stat pick. With that in place, you should order your stats as follows:

If you multi-multiclass:

Valorous Bard:
CHA/Multiclass Stat Pick(STR or DEX)/CON/INT/WIS/DEX or STR

Cunning Bard:
CHA/Multiclass Stat Pick(WIS or STR or DEX)/CON.

Precient Bard:
CHA/WIS/CON/INT or DEX/STR.

(Keep in mind that your Multiclass stat pick can very well be CHA, CON, WIS or INT, decreasing your reliance on MAD.)

If you multiclass into one or no classes:

Valorous Bard:
CHA/Multiclass Stat Pick(STR or DEX)/CON/INT/WIS/DEX or STR

Cunning Bard:
CHA/Multiclass Stat Pick(WIS or STR or DEX)/CON.

Precient Bard:
CHA/WIS/CON/INT or DEX/STR.

As far as what that Multiclass stat pick should be, well we can look at it from the standpoint of what stat will give you access to the most classes. Fully 1/3 of the potential builds (by a conservative measure) use STR for attack, 1/4 uses WIS. You could do a lot worse than to pick one of those stats (or perhaps set both at 13). This makes the Precient Bard an excellent option for the multiclasser. We will want to temper that with some common sense however. As discussed under the multiclassing section, we are not likely to do well in the defender role, and we need to watch out for relying on two many implements. We can assume that more than two implements will be problematic. It is also the case that the you may not want to substitute powers, so having a high stat is not as crucial. You may just be multiclassing to get the benefit.

Picking the stat that gives you the most opportunities is one way of approaching this problem. The other is to look at what classes get the most synergy / power. Given the large (and ever increasing) number of classes and powers available, this can be difficult to spot right away. But I am sure to CO boards will tease out those optimal builds, and we can link to them from here.

A final way of picking that third stat is to make a pick based on a theme, or to fill in some holes in your party. One popular, and useful option is to pick all leader classes to get all the extra healing. While it may not be the most powerful option available, it certainly fits into the feel of a Bard as a character who always seems to have an ace up his sleeve.

So my picks for that third stat (if you decide to go there) are STR for the Valorous Bard, WIS or maybe STR for the Cunning Bard, and STR or DEX for the Precient Bard. Note that this means that the Precient bard has much more multiclassing options, even after you eliminate the defenders (remember you typically don't want to multiclass into a defender role). Thems the breaks, because you probably don't want to make your Cunning Bard a front line person, given thier con and ability to hit with a melee attack. Don't worry, the Cunning bard still has more choices than it can possibly get to in one character.

Remember that you can always retrain your multiclass stat pick, but you can not retrain your attributes, so spend a little more time on this section for your character.

The Races



Bladeling (MOP *, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - The stats don't mesh (except for ranged weapon Prescient bards), and the racial power is best used by an Avenger - not a good mesh for the role you are trying to fill.
Bugbear (MM *, p) : All Virtues - Neither the stats nor the skills fit (OK if you want ranged). The Racial Power is great, but it is even better if you pick a striker class. The oversized weapons are very good, but again it is best used by another class.
Bullywug (MM2 *, p) : All Virtues - Practically unplayable no matter what the class.
Changeling (Doppleganger) (EPG, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Significantly better with the release of EPG. They make good ranged bards, using either an implement or a ranged weapon depending on their stat choice. The racial powers are meh, but the feats make up for that. They are still better by far in a city oriented campaign than in a dungeon setting.
Deva (PHB2, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - If only the stats meshed better, because the racial power is VERY nice for a bard who multiclasses a bunch.
Dragonborn (PHB, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Not a bad choice here. The bonus to strength is a great choice if you want to multiclass, since STR covers the most MC feats by far.
Drow (FRPG, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Something to consider if you want to play a ranged bard. A MC into a stealthy class and you can really be concealed for most of your attacks. The drow feat selection also goes a LONG way to helping out a ranged bard.
Duergar (MM2 *, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Not a good fit stat wise, and a racial power that will likely never hit after 5th level or so.
Dwarf (PHB, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - As much as I love the idea of dwarven skalds drumming out a war chant optimally speaking they are a sub-optimal choice. If you want to pick a dwarf, think front line and either Prescient or Valorous.
Eladrin (PHB, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - The mobility is good, and the INT bonus works for the cunning bard. Not a bad choice if you are multiclassing into Rogue or Ranger, or want to be a ranged bard.
Elf (PHB, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - This is better for a ranged weapon bard or a Prescient bard, but still lacking in synergy. The racial power saves it from being Red
Genasi (FRPG, p) : All Virtues - If you don't pick the Promise of Storm manifestation this is not a terrible choice for a bard.
Githyanki (MM *, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Sweet leaderly racial power, a bonus to initiative and OK stat synergy makes this a pretty good choice.
Githzerai (MM *, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Meh. A fair racial power with no stat synergy makes for a poor choice, unless you go ranged weapon prescient.
Gnoll (DRA 364, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - The Pack Attack feature is good, but you are gonna want to stick to Valorous if you go gnoll. You might consider this for a front line bard as well.
Gnome (PHB2, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Another sweet choice for ranged weapon bards. They are not quite as good as the Teifling since the skills that you need to pull off the gnome best are not on the Bard's list. Still the extra Cantrip is fun to play. (Personally speaking I don't care for the fluff here either, but that's just me.)
Goblin (MM *, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - The racial power is not too shabby if you want your bard to be on the front line. Still, the stats don't fit well, and the drow is better in most ways anyway.
Goliath (PHB2, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Slightly better for front line Bards, and OK for Valorous, but in general a sub-optimal choice.
Half-Elf (PHB, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - If you stay in the Heroic tier, this race has perhaps the weakest Racial power, after humans. The diplomacy bonus is nice, but it is only given to other party members when the Bard is typically the party face. Given all that, if you are going to play in the Paragon tier, then with picking one feat, suddenly this becomes an incredible option. For those of you who want to paragon class this is the only real racial option. For the Virtue of Valor, this is a very good choice because of the Con bonus.
Halfling (PHB, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - The racial power is good for a cunning bard who should be out of combat, and that fits if you want to play a ranged bard.
Half-Orc (PHB2, p) : All Virtues - You can get an extra 1d8 each encounter with Hunter's Quarry, and more Temp HP from a valorous build.
Hobgoblin (MM *, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Fluff wise - blech. But char-op wise, if you want a Virtue of Valor bard, this is likely your best option. And it is still pretty good for the others. The extra initiative allows you to dump Dex, and you can slough off ongoing effect easily.
Human (PHB, p) : All Virtues - A bard that wants to multi-class is going to be very, very feat strapped, so that makes humans a viable choice for all virtues. Also, there are a number of strong at wills to choose from making the human a viable choice.
Kalashtar (EPG, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Made for the Prescient bard, but the plus to wisdom is good for the Mcing bard. The strong racial powers are added gravy, and leader like to boot.
Kenku (MM2 *, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Good stats - perfect if you want to play a sneaky bard. Also good for ranged weapon bards.
Kobold (MM *, p) : All Virtues - The mobility is better suited to a front line bard, but the stats are off. I am not sure shifty is worth the loss in hit potential and point cost.
Minotaur (DRA 369, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - This race does not fit with the bard fluff or crunch wise. The best that can be said for it is it can help a Mcing bard with front line aspirations.
Orc (MM *, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - It works somewhat for a Valorous Bard or a front line bard, especially the additional Healing Surge in an encounter.
Shadar-kai (DRA 372, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - The racial power can help the cunning bard who is backed into a corner, and the stat boost is good for Cunning as well. All others have better picks.
Shifter, Longtooth (PHB2, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - The plusses make it easier for you to multiclass. If you are going to the front lines, regeneration is NEVER a bad thing, and the increased damage is nice too.
Shifter, Razorclaw (PHB2, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Just not a good fit, although you can make do with a Prescient bard, especially if you go traditional ranged prescient.
Tiefling (PHB, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - I actually hate the fluff surrounding the teifling. So much to my chagrin they make the best Virtue of Cunning race choice. The stats line up, and the racial power gives them pluses to hit, which are ALWAYS appreciated. Oh well.
Warforged (EPG, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - A good choice for cunning because the implements can be mounted. Still doesn't alleviate the gp cost of MID, but it helps. Can be a front line, or ranged or implement bard, but the Con boost points towards Valorous.



* A Note on non-standard races

Get DM approval for races not from a Player's Handbook or a Player's guide. And proceed with caution as technically they are not there for players to use to make a character.

How to be a better leader



The Bard is a new kind of leader. She is most certainly going to be the party's face. Which is nice as not all the leaders have a chance to step into the spotlight. That being said, during combat, it is your job to keep the team functioning well. That typically means healing, sliding, and buffing. The bard also has control mixed in there as a secondary role. There is a lot of debate over what control means, but I think it is safe to say the two roles overlap a great deal.

As a player, to play a good leader you really have to know all about the other character's roles and abilities.


Do not however take over the game. Just because you can slide a character doesn't mean you should pick up their mini and move it. Remind them that they can shift if the want to, and if they don't want to, don't press them. Make suggestions to the other players. "Ohh, you could get flanking over here!" "He has to cross difficult terrain here, so he can't charge if you move up." Try asking in character for a little extra fun. Remember your character is a charmer, and uses sweetness and guile to get his way. Don't be a Warlord barking orders, that lacks subtlety. Make them think it was their idea.
Reserved





Powers from other classes with bard synergy

Check out the illusion powers from Dragon magazine . Some of the ones that deal psychic damage are:

At Will Powers


Misdirected Mark (PHB2, p68) : Cunning, Valorous, Prescient -
Oh, Blame not the Bard - Thomas Moore
Yeah it was the Fighter - Anon. Bard

In general, this is a very situational power that will almost never compare favorably to Vicious Mockery or Cutting Word. It only has extra effects for fighters and Wardens, (and is only useful for fighter if she does not have the baddie marked AND the baddie is next to the fighter), otherwise it gives a -2, which Vicious Mockery already gives. It does target Reflex, which is good, but often not as good as will, and it does more damage than VM - but not CW.

Vicious Mockery (PHB2, p69) : Cunning, Valorous, Prescient -
Your Mother Was a Hamster and Your Father Smelt of Elderberries - A rather strange gentleman

The best Bard at-will for cunning Bards. As this is a psychic power it gets better with the feat Dark Fury and with a wand of psychic ravaging.

War Song Strike (PHB2, p69) : Cunning, Valorous, Prescient -
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword - Battle Hymn of the Republic

It grants temp HP to allies which is quite valuable, but ironically it is better if you are a Cunning Bard. Still, one of the best ways to get a fighter to go after a baddie who is wailing on you is to say "Free temp HP if you hit this bozo."

Guiding Strike (PHB2, p68) : Cunning, Valorous, Prescient -
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke / Shatter'd and sunder'd. - Charge of the Light Brigade; Lord Alfred Tennyson

There is much versatility in this one. If you know your party, then this one can be a huge boon. Figure out what your party hits hardest, and nuke that defense. Keep it up until they drop. Wash, rinse, repeat!

Jinx Shot (AP, p6) : Cunning, Valorous, Prescient -
I'm hexed with regrets and bad luck / So keep your distance it's rubbing off. - Green Day

Heh - The fluff around this is great. Prone is an OK condition - but that’s OK - this is an at-will. The real drawback is this is the only Ranged weapon power so far.

Cutting Words (Minis) : Cunning, Valorous, Prescient -
ya - Traditional Haiku kireji or "cutting word"

Shame it is a pull, but otherwise use this to stick baddies (esp back row baddies) onto a defender.

Encounter Powers


Level 1

Blunder (PHB2, p69) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - You do damage, you can slide your enemy around and other party members get a hit. This power is all good. It far outshines Fast Friends if you have a fighter in your party. Need to get a baddie out of a squishie's face? Then slide 'em into a sticky defender. They get an attack, remember - so they can mark the baddie. In fact, with the fighter, this is potentially allowing three attacks on one baddie.
Fast Friends (PHB2, p69) : All Virtues - If you have a rogue in the party they will love you for this one, but compared to the other powers on this level, Fast Friends is lacking.
Firemetal Shot (AP, p7) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - This works well with other powers that grant your allies lots of extra attacks. Again planning and communication are the key here.
Focused Sound (AP, p7) : All Virtues - Triple the crit range at first level is very good.
Inspiring Refrain (PHB2, p69) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - For Valorous Bards only. It does good damage, and lets other hit better too, but it uses the weapon keyword.
Prophesied Strike (AP, p7) : All Virtues - A solid power for this level. May be your best bet if you have a bunch of strikers in your party.
Prophetic Action (AP, p7) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Not bad, but if you want to do this, why not play a Cannybard?
Shout of Triumph (PHB2, p69) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - A great controller power that also gets your allies in position. Take it if you have no effective minion sweeper.
Thunder's Calling (AP, p7) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - The sliding is not too bad, and the extra attack is a nice cherry on top.

Level 3

Charger's Call (PHB2, p70) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Can be effective in the right party. If you do pick this one you need to have a high initiative, and typically you want to use it first thing, since that is when most of your allies will be close to you AND ready to charge.
Cruel Fate (AP, p8) : All Virtues - Roll twice for damage is bad enough. The fact that you can not easily control who gets the benefit of that put this power in the red.
Cunning Ferocity (PHB2, p70) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Use this one thoughtfully, and it can serve you very well. Find a way (action points, AoEs, whatever) for your party to get in as many attacks as they can before the end of your next round. Always tell your party several times when you use this one. But it is still just a bonus to damage....
Dissonant Strain (PHB2, p70) : All Virtues - It is a psychic power, which means more feat and implement synergy. For an encounter is not much better than Vicious Mockery. However, it does have that very leader-y give an ally a savings throw, a bard rarity. That's why I use this one over Impelling Force.
Entangling Opening (AP, p8) : All Virtues - Prone is bad. At least this power does decent damage.
Impelling Force (PHB2, p70) : All Virtues - This one, at first looks like a better version of Blunder, but it is actually has some limitations. First it attacks Fort - which is the worst NAD - often equivalent to AC. Second, it forces you to end the move next to an ally, limiting the flexibility. It is a lot harder to use this power to block enemy shots or push baddies into pits.
Recitation of Foreknowledge (AP, p8) : All Virtues - An encounter power with an Effect is really good. This works best with Rogues in the party, but anyone can use Combat Advantage.
Rhyme of the Blood-Seeking Blade (AP, p8) : All Virtues - A very sweet leader like power that turns a miss into a hit. The best part is you get to decide when it gets used. Pay attention in a fight and you will likely know just how close someone is to hitting a baddie.
Song of the New Dawn (AP, p8) : All Virtues - If you have a melee heavy party, this is likely to be a real winner. Status effects become more and more prominent as you go up in levels, so this one scales well.

Level 7

Chillsong Stroke (AP, p10) : All Virtues - Slowed is paltry - especially when it is applied with a melee weapon. The ally shift makes it worthwhile.
Deflect Attention (PHB2, p71) : All Virtues - This is a great power for pulling a fellow traveler's fat out of the fire. It feels like a good fit for a leader - you heal someone then get them the heck out of dodge. But it also has the flexibility to give sneak attack, or allow a striker to maneuver into position.
Distracting Shout (PHB2, p72) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Well, if you hit, it insures that your folks can maneuver around one creature with relative ease, but its just for a turn. It certainly isn't as good as Deflect Attention, except it does 2 extra pts of Dam (on average).
Insightful Shot (AP, p10) : All Virtues - Wow. This is a pretty good one. Shame it is a one shot or it would be DeepSkyBlue. Save it for when you want a power to really really hit.
Rewrite the Future (AP, p10) : All Virtues - Fun stuff. This is really the equivalent of rolling twice on a to hit, only with more flexibility.
Scorpion's Claw Strike (PHB2, p72) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Bad name. OK power. Its more slippin' and slidin' around the battlefield. The AC bonus for the Valor Bard is nice, and can help sliding into dangerous areas.
Song of the Duplicitous Allure (AP, p10) : All Virtues - There are way to many riders on this powers effect to make it worth your while, even if it is psychic and does OK damage.
Theft of Life (AP, p10) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - More healing for your defenders is always good, and the Cannybards temp HP capper is a sweet extra.
Timely Distraction (AP, p10) : All Virtues - Nice psychic damage with a good range, and it gives combat advantage.
Unluck (PHB2, p72) : All Virtues - Unluck is just fun. If it were an interrupt or a reaction, it would be so much better. As it stands, it is best used against solos & Elites. If you do take this power, just be careful on loading up on too many powers that are better used on solo types.

Level 13

Couplet of Deceptive Weakness (AP, p12) : All Virtues - A more powerful Impelling Force, that you can use an immediate interrupt. Basically if you get cornered, you can bring a defender over to help you out. Its good, but as a leader you are supposed to help others, not pull them into entanglements.
Earthquake Strike (PHB2, p73) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Not terrible, but a bit of a tactical trap. You don't want to encourage your party to spread out their attacks, which they just may do to get that knockdown. The damage bonus is nice.
Enduring Struggle (AP, p12) : All Virtues - Nice damage, and it heals in a burst, but it doesn't do much healing. If you find yourself in a party that needs lots of small healing this may be a good power, otherwise skip it.
Foolhardy Fighting (PHB2, p73) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Yikes. Very sweet if you are a bard of cunning. Just remember though, this is specifically for a solo type baddie. Don't load up on too many of these powers.
Harmony of the Two (PHB2, p73) : All Virtues - Very Very weak. You hand out one basic attack? Wasn't the warlord doing this, like 10 levels ago?
Insult of Passivity (AP, p12) : All Virtues - Wow dazed. Use this on a controller, artillery, or lurker along with immobilized. Then they can sit right there while you take care of the brutes.
Sharp Retort (AP, p12) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Good stuff since it is an immediate interrupt that occurs AFTER the roll is made! With the right party this could be very, very nasty.
Slippery Feet (AP, p12) : All Virtues - Meh - it sound pretty nice, but seriously slowed plus slide is just weak.
Song of Storms (PHB2, p73) : All Virtues - Finally another nice controller power. Bonus is it only targets enemies, and has lingering effects.

Level 17

Balance of Fortune (AP, p13) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - I really, really like this one - especially the allied attack bonus. You get to add on average 2.5 (or 3.5 for Prebards) to each attack for a turn.
Inescapable Fate (AP, p13) : All Virtues - Rerolling damage is just not as exciting to me. Maybe if this was an interrupt so you could fix a particularly crappy roll.
Masks of Menace (PHB2, p74) : All Virtues - Nice damage, psychic keyword and giving out a "supermark" all adds up to a decent, but not stellar power. Pick an ally that is targeting via ranged, if possible.
Resounding War Cry (AP, p13) : All Virtues - Thunder damage for you Voice of Thunder enthusiasts, and what amounts to being dazed 90% of the time.
Shout of Evasion (PHB2, p75) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Another "use early" power. Move your pawns around the battlefield and get them into position to have combat advantage, or to bottleneck the baddies.
Song of Summons (PHB2, p75) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Another "rescue" power. Only this time you are saving your own bacon. I choose you, Fighter!
Strings of Fate (AP, p14) : All Virtues - This will typically work out to +3 to hit for a turn. With only 1[w] damage, it is a good thing this hits more than one enemy.
Turning the Tide (AP, p14) : All Virtues - Since this is a blast it covers most of your allies, and they will likely as not get the healing. It does good AoE damage, and there are healing surge riders that can up the healing done.
Word of Vulnerability (PHB2, p75) : All Virtues - Everyone gets to add your CHA damage, which is nice, but it is only for a turn and only if they have combat advantage. It better if you have one or two vexing flankers.

Level 23

Chant of Bad Fortune (PHB2, p15) : All Virtues - Always giving all your allies a saving throw is good enough - but a penalty to a baddie's saving throw as well. Very sweet.
Echoes in Time (AP, p76) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Best use is likely to give a charger multiple charge attacks, but you better be first in init if'n you want to pursue that tactic. It can also be used in conjunction with some form of immobilization to allow strikers to "hit and run."
Mind Game (AP, p15) : All Virtues - Attacking is will is fun, no? Well why not let all your pals in on the fun as well!
Reverberating Shot (AP, p15) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Nice damage, and a flexible buff for allies - doesn't last that long though.
Rhythm of Disorientation (PHB2, p76) : All Virtues - 1d6 damage and the bonus effect is prone + a basic melee attack. Bleh.
Song of Liberation (PHB2, p76) : All Virtues - Ends three rare conditions. Not too good to waste a 23rd level power on that.
Sound Strike (AP, p15) : All Virtues - Potentially devastating. Couple this with lots of bonuses to hit, and it gets really nasty very quickly.
Weal and Woe (PHB2, p76) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Pretty good damage, and a nice bonus on the saving throw, but really only worth it for the valor bard, Cunning bards don't get that close.

Level 27

Blinding Rhyme (AP, p16) : All Virtues - Use this to put a controller or artillery on the front lines. For extra fun, time it with your controller so they are all bunched up. Bust to use this power by waiting to go during your chosen target's turn for maximum damage done.
Bond of Malediction (PHB2, p77) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Put this on your defenders. They attack her? Ouch! They don't attack her? Ouch! Keep in mind this is a solo killer power. It is really good to put on Battleragers that like to get in the thick of things. More attacks means more psychic damage.
Crescendo of Victory (AP, p16) : All Virtues - What? No. This is WAY too weak, its vs. AC and it does average damage. Not a 27th level power at all.
Kaleidoscopic Burst (PHB2, p77) : All Virtues - It does radiant damage, which saves it from a 2 rating. Other than that it really is shabby for a 27th level power. Surge of Valor is almost always better.
Pounding Rhythm (AP, p16) : All Virtues - This is potentially a lot of stunning. It doesn't last long, but the flexibility o who gets stunned is nice.
Second Chances (AP, p16) : All Virtues - A very sweet reroll power. Keep this for when you need to turn things around. If it looks like everyone is gonna break out the dailies tell them to wait until after your turn then get this power going.
Strike from Legend (AP, p16) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - A very flexible power. Just monitor the circumstances, and you can heal or buff, as you like.
Surge of Valor (PHB2, p77) : Valorous, Cunning, Prescient - Another ho-hum effect for a capstone Encounter Power.

Utility Powers


Level 2

Cannon of Avoidance (AP, p8) - An excellent ability - very flexible. You can use it to help out whoever is in trouble. Break it out early on, and stick it on your squishies, then move it as needed.
Clockwork Precision (AP, p8) - Well this one breaks the Skill Encounters right in half. Good thing it is a daily.
Concerted Effort (AP, p8) - Its not too bad, but it is very dependant on someone hitting early on.
Hunter's Tune (PHB2, p70) - You can't use it on yourself. It only affects one skill. It lasts for a while, but only if you stay close to the person trying to be stealthy. Pretty poor unless you are stealthy yourself, which is not likely as it isn't a class skill, and DEX is not a primary or secondary stat.
Inspire Competence (PHB2, p70) - This one is much more flexible than Hunter's Tune. It doesn't have the same bonus, but it applies to all the allies in an area. Which in a party of 5 will typically net you an even higher bonus to your skill if you use aid another. And, better still, it lasts throughout an encounter. Remember a skill challenge is an encounter.
Moment of Escape (AP, p8) - Pretty straightforward. Use it to save someone's bacon - but you have to wait for your turn.
Song of Courage (PHB2, p70) - A sweet daily that adds to hit for the rest of the encounter (effectively). Bust this one out early in the combat if you are going to use it.
Song of Defense (PHB2, p70) - Not bad, but it only adds to AC, so it cannot compare to Song of Courage.
Word of Protective Fate (AP, p8) - It is kind of a fire and forget spell. Use it early for maximum effectiveness. The problem is it is a daily that you might cast and it could never have a benefit. In fact, chances are 2.5% with each attack roll that it will not have an effect.

Level 6

Allegro (PHB2, p71) - Weak for a daily Utility. I think this would be better as an Encounter. Know your tactics when you use this one.
Chord of Resilience (AP, p9) - This is a clutch power that can save an allies' bacon, but the problem is that it doesn't move them out of danger, it just reduces damage one time.
Dramatic Shift (AP, p9) - A power that turns you into kobolds for a turn. Cool, but it doesn't last nearly long enough.
Glimpse of the Future (AP, p10) - Now we are talking. This all but ensures a hit by an ally when they need it. Make sure you use this one ASAP.
Ode to Sacrifice (PHB2, p71) - Shuffling around effects can be useful, if the conditions are right. (i.e. moving poison effects to the dwarf.) The way to effectively do this is to use this is to transfer the effect right before the end of the recipient's round. That way you get the saving throw, but not the effect. The CON bonus makes this Valorous
Song of Conquest (PHB2, p71) - You gotta stay in close, it only gives temp hp, and the effect is gone way too quickly. It really is only useful if you have a good CON making this Valourous, but they can already dish out the temp HP.
Song of Speed (AP, p10) - Its good, but it is over too soon., and it only effects one person.
Synchronicity (AP, p10) - Everyone gets to go first. A pretty important power, and likely the best at this level.
Trickster's Healing (PHB2, p71) - Super crappy - especially for a daily. It gives about half that of a healing surge to realistically one ally, maybe two.

Level 10

Illusory Erasure (PHB2, p72) - This is the bard giving a squishie a "get out of a pounding free" card. But it also has some other awesome options, like giving the rogue CA. And its an encounter power.
Song of Recovery (PHB2, p72) - Another nice utility that can really save a party. If everyone is nuked by status effects, you can pull them out of the mess. Still a little too limited in its general use, but use it one time effectively and it may be worth it keeping this as an ace in the hole. Try delaying so your allies can get another roll, then on your turn use Chorus of Recovery for up to 3 attempts.
Veil (PHB2, p73) - This one could be a great deal of fun. It all depends on the game you are in. If I were in a city based game with lots of political intrigue and skullduggery then this is DeepSkyBlue. Otherwise it is severely lacking.
Word of Life (PHB2, p73) - This is another "rescue" power, only this one works immediately upon your ally dropping. Less flexible than Illusory Erasure, but much more effective at rescuing an ally (Illusory Erasure you have to plan a little). Take your pick.
Break Enchantment (AP, p11) - Unless you expect to face a lot of illusion or charm spells (going to the feywild maybe? And even then it really is still sub par), take savior's song instead.
Chant of Accuracy (AP, p11) - Its a large burst, but it is a mediocre bonus and it doesn't last long at all. Skip this one.
Idyll of Calm (AP, p11) - Better duration than Chant of Accuracy, and it helps remove penalties, but still a little weak against most enemies.
Illuminating Stars (AP, p11) - Very nice for Skill Encounters. Pretty much sub par otherwise.
Mantle of Unity (AP, p11) - A very nice power that falls just short of being awesome because of its limited duration and short range. But it reminds me of that spell Willow cast at the end of season 5. Or captain Planet.
Savior's Song (AP, p11) - A second roll at a saving throw is a very good power, typically the equivalent of +5 the roll, and this lasts throughout the encounter.

Level 16

Allied Rhythm (AP, p13) - Far too situational for an effect that lasts for one round and only affects one person.
Blink Zone (PHB2, p74) - A persistable zone of blinking. FUN! But it only gives 2 squares of teleportation, so it gets marked down for that.
Chorus of Recovery (PHB2, p74) - Another power that grants saving throws. Good, especially since it last throughout the encounter, and only takes a minor to get started.
Chorus of Vitality (AP, p13) - Here's a nice heal and extract power that is very useful if your party keeps falling down.
Elegy of the Undefeated (PHB2, p74) - This is how the leader is the Big Darned Hero of the battle. No one wants to sit out the battle making death saving throws. You can put them back to at least bloodied!
Haste (AP, p13) - A minor action for a standard action as a daily is useful, but not super, Heroic Interjection does the same with an interrupt.
Heroic Interjection (AP, p13) - An extra action point is very nice, but you have to wait for an enemy to spend theirs.
Song of Sublime Snowfall (PHB2, p74) - Heal your friends while you hinder your enemies (including flying ones - very nice). Bust this one out early.
Song of the Soul Harvest (D372, p21) - Upping the marking ability of your defenders is pretty good. Use this one early though - and in large minion fights. It will work best if you have a Warden.

Level 22

Assured Recovery (AP, p15) - Its an immediate interrupt with a probably +8 or +9 to the roll, meaning it is almost literally an assured recovery. But it just an extra saving throw for a level 22 power.
Climactic Chord (AP, p15) - Another "pile-on" power. The bonus to hit, and the ability to use at-wills brings this power up to OK.
Elegy Unwritten (PHB2, p75) - Another rescue power. It is very nice as an immediate interrupt to get your ally right back in the thick of things.
Invisible Troupe (PHB2, p75) - Its pretty good - I just wish it lasted longer. Get the power if your have an several allies that can profit from CA. If you want it as a "rescue" power then pick Song of Transition.
Mirrored Entourage (PHB2, p76) - Everyone gets "Mirror Image", which acts like an ablative armor. It will last for maybe 4 rounds, and be half as effective for some of that time. Not worth a daily.
Note of Aggression (AP, p15) - This does not compare favorably with haste. Its changed to an Encounter power, but it only adds in a charge or a melee basic. Not worth the tradeoff for 12 levels if you ask me.
Ode to the Daring (AP, p15) - Beaucoups of healing for the whole party (likely), plus an extra saving throw.
Song of Transition (PHB2, p76) - Its a smallish zone, but this is a good power, it allows a quick retreat, easy flanking, and just think of what it will do for a charging barbarian!

Daily Powers


Level 1

Arrow of Warning (AP, p7) - Immediate interrupt that does 3[w] and give an ally a free at-will. Too sweet. The bonus to hit makes this DeepSkyBlue for Prescient Bards.
Burdening Dirge (D374, p14) - Slowed is just not that great a status effect. But it does last the entire encounter.
Echoes of the Guardian (PHB2, p69) - Not too bad. Better if your allies include a defender that can use class features off a granted mark (right now that is only the fighter and the warden.) But still, it is a daily, which makes it OK when compared to Stirring Shout.
Echoing Roar (AP, p7) - A pretty good power. If only it stopped invisability. As it stands, it should help you flush out those nasty lurkers.
Malevolent Mischief (AP, p7) - It does good damage, and it hits reflex, but it just slows the target.
Saga of Rivalry (AP, p7) - A really good incentive to get the bad guys to close with your defenders. Since it is ranged weapon, you can really target those annoting controllers or artiullery on the back line.
Satire of Fortune (AP, p8) - A great leader -like power. If you put this on a baddie, do it right before everyone unloads their dalies. If you get lucky they will keep hitting. If not at least you can give whoever missed another shot. Oh - and its psychic damage to boot.
Slayer's Song (PHB2, p69) - This is a no brainer if you have a rogue in the party. It uses the weapon implement, so you are gonna have to run up close. This daily will last through the encounter - very nice.
Stirring Shout (PHB2, p69) - I love this power. Your party will love you for using this power. When faced with a solo baddie this should be the first power you toss out. Anything that encourages the tanks to hit the baddie more is very good news. It is also VERY fun to throw it on a baddie that has been harassing you. Watch your party swarm your foe like ants on a honeyed anthill.
Verse of Triumph (PHB2, p70) - This gives your party a huge tactical advantage for the rest of the encounter. Nice.

Level 5

Arrow of Ill Omen (AP, p9) - Yikes. This gives one ally a 25% greater chance of scoring criticals. It you got someone who exploits criticals, then this is a nasty combo.
Compulsion (AP, p9) - Fun, fun, fun. You get place the baddie where you want 'em until they shake your compulsion!
Rhyme of Fire (AP, p9) - Extra fire damage to one enemy does not impress me much
Satire of Bravery (PHB2, p71) - Fun and powerful, but not quite as flexible as the others. If you want to be nasty you can save a move action to go in the middle of their turn so you can ensure they are dazed.
Song of Discord (PHB2, p71) - Another fun and very strong power. But this is another power that is best used for solos. So far the bard has been heavy on these types of powers. Use it to disarm a baddie then drive them off a cliff or through a slew of Opportunity Attacks.
Strictures of Fortune (AP, p9) - Like Compulsion, the ability is not super, but by golly stealing a recharge power and using it yourself is so. Much. Fun.
Tune of Ice and Wind (PHB2, p71) - The real kicker here is the fact that this targets only enemies. This one can turn a monster pile on into a rout easily. Plus, it is good to drop this in the middle of a CF and watch only the baddies go flying. Take this if you need a controller, otherwise pick Song of Discord.
Vigorous Cadence (AP, p9) - Another solid power that give out lots of healing. The wording is a little problematic though. What happens when several allies are the same distance away?
Word of Mystic Warding (PHB2, p71) - Kinda like Satire of Bravery, only a little better since you can slide defenders away giving the baddie a bad choice. You can also use it on "Squishies in trouble". Please note, you may be subject to the baddies ire, since this is a weapon power. This keeps it from being Blue IMHO.

Level 9

Counterpoint (AP, p10) - A pretty situational power. It really just allows the fighter to have a weak mark on the creature.
Forceful Conduit (PHB2, p72) - A fun one. Still, if the rest of your party is martial, do not get this one. While I do like the idea of making a baddie drop a fireball in his own lap, this power's real effect is increased range and possible elimination of cover. So for a 7th level daily I'd say that makes it average at best.
Hideous Laughter (PHB2, p72) - Now this is a good power for a leader. You can allow your party to swarm all over a baddie, and it can't stop their movement.
Hymn of the Daring Rescue (PHB2, p72) - Put it on your squishies so you can pull 'em back if the get in over their head.
Rain of Starlight (AP, p11) - An area effect that nerfs invisability and concealment is a nice power to have in your back pocket.
Saga of Vengeance (AP, p11) - A really good version of stirring shout.
Symphony of Misfortune (AP, p11) - An AoE that is sustainable, only affects enemies, and does different effects that you choose. Very Nice.
Thunder Blade (PHB2, p72) - Blunder for the entire encounter. Shuffle those pieces around the board!
Wail of Anguish (AP, p11) - Another great power on this level. This is espceially good for bards who lead from the back.

Level 15

This level is full of goodness.
Confusing Chorus (PHB2, p73) - A most excellent power that, if successful, eats up actions AND does damage to other baddies. Use this with Impelling Force or Blunder to make sure they stay close to the baddies you want to get got.
Dance of the Biting Wind (PHB2, p73) - This gives the Cunning Bard's Feature, meaning it is more likely Purple for them. An OK choice for the other bards. I think it should not be level 15…
Fated Vulnerability (AP, p12) - Not a bad power. With the right party it could become a Blue power for sure. If your pary is all rogues, sorcerers, and swordmages this becomes a sweet pick.
Funeral Dirge (D372, p21) - Weakened is not so good for a level 15 daily. However, the zone does stick around, but you can't place it very easily (it’s a burst, not an area spell)
Hole in the Mind (AP, p12) - It does psychic damage, and invisability is not bad to grant. Shame it doesn't last longer, and it is limited to one target.
Iceshard Shot (AP, p12) - Now theres a twist. Your allies can make the baddie fail the save. Very nice.
Menacing Thunder (PHB2, p74) - A large zone that gives allies a substantial bonus to hit. This is the epitome of leadership, and your melee characters will love you for it. Shame it is a typed bonus to hit.
Quick Steel Dance (PHB2, p74) - Not bad considering the Combat Advantage attack is NOT an opportunity attack. Makes your defenders very sticky.
Satire of Evasion (AP, p12) - Another good one. Use this to pump up attacks when the party breaks out its dailies
Wall of Sound (AP, p13) - A very nice pick. If used well this can shut down large waves of enemies, bottleneck them, and let your defenders daze the heck out of them.
Wracking Radiance (AP, p13) - Healing in a burst, ongoing damage and a nice aftereffect make this a standout.

Level 19

Several powers this level allow your party memebers to do their job better (Corralling Song, Saga of the Harring Foe), consider these, as this is part of your role in th party.
All Soul’s Ball (D372, p21) - Ooof. That is scads of healing, and lots of enemies granting combat advantage. Very, very sweet.
Corralling Song (AP, p14) - Another fun power. You get to group them into a bunch for the wiz to nuke from afar. Great stuff. Do what you can to expand the burst on this power.
Encircling Dance (PHB2, p75) - A fairly average power for a daily. Use it early, espically if you are a valor bard.
Increasing the Tempo (PHB2, p75) - A finishing move, but pretty average. Give it to a character with a high crit range, or that can use features or at-wills with basic attacks.
Irresistible Dance (PHB2, p75) - Better if you have a rogue (or someone who gets extras from CA), but still CA gives a +2 to-hit, and you get to slide them into a new position, and it’s a burst.
Linked Fortunes (AP, p14) - Well, it starts out great, but it grants the same benefit to the enemy. No thank you.
Mocking Epigram (AP, p14) - Its more useful against brutes, but as fun as thi power is, it only OK. Your best bet is to have the target hit itself (or an almost dead baddies) so that you can concentrat your damage.
Saga of the Harrying Foe (AP, p14) - Yeah. Another make the defender super sticky power. Ask your defender before sticking a baddie onto her though.
Satire of Prowess (PHB2, p75) - Another one creature only power. Other than that whats not to love!
Spring to Action (AP, p14) - It’s a burst effect with good damage that allows your party some serious movement. I am just not convinced that the ability to port back to the same zone is all that great given how much combat moves around.

Level 25

Adversarial Song (PHB2, p76) - This makes your defenders super-sticky to one foe, and does nice damage to boot.
Fraught with Failure (PHB2, p76) - Immobilized is good. Weakened - not so much. But at least it separates the save ends on the effects.
Frenzied Rhythm (PHB2, p77) - Man, what a CF for the bad guys when you hit them with this one. It’s a huge burst, and you get to take all of the baddies out of position, put them where you want them, have them hit their friends on the way, and then you daze them. What an opener!
Intimidating Visage (AP, p16) - A huge burst that forces back line baddies to come forward or take damage. A great power, but surprisingly not the best at this level.
Leave It Dead (AP, p16) - If this works with criticals (I think it should) it is a very nice power. Use it with brutal weapons with large chances of rolling max damage. Also use it with high crit weapons, and sound strike.
Sculpt Fate (AP, p16) - It’s a huge burst and a great power. The only issue is that even in a burst this size you will be luck to get more than 4 in the effect, which translates into an average of 2 rolls to replace. So its use is highly situational.
Virtuoso of Misfortune (AP, p16) - If this one hits, it is a nice double whammy that is hard to shake. Plus you can now pile on the effects to the targets with knowledge they will stick even longer. And given that this is a lagre burst, this is a very nice power.
Vision Distortion (PHB2, p77) - Holy dissapearing targets. This one is gives all your front line folks a miss chance AND a +4 to AC, not to mention CA. And it is a ranged burst - awesome.

Level 29

Arrow of Destiny (AP, p17) - Gah! If you hit you must have crit. Super nasty at this level. Especially when you consider that the Bard can now pick up anOrb of Karmic Resonance.
Hero's Beacon (PHB2, p77) - So nice. Turn an enemies into an ally healing battery, and a baddie scorcher. Radiant damage too!
Horrifying Truth (AP, p17) - The potential to stun everyone in a blast 5 is pretty darned good. Use this as your opener. You may want to wait until just after the baddies have gone to give your allies maximum attempts to stun. The only issue is it encourages your team to spread out attacks. But hey - the results are probably worth it.
Saga of Foretold Doom (AP, p17) - The only thing saving this from a worse rating is the large damage it does. Otherwise weakening one target (with a rider on that no less) at this level is no good.
Satire of Leadership (PHB2, p77) - I like the fluff here. I also like the idea of a big baddie's flunkies slowly backing away from their tainted leader. "WHERE YOU GO NOW THROQ?" Unfortunately a save ends, so its not quite as good as Hero's beacon.
Shockwave Strike (AP, p17) - Its not terrible since you can sustain it, and it is a large area to cover. If you are Valorous the CON rider makes this a Blue power.
Song of the Deadly Dancer (D372, p22) - Oooh. A bardic summoning power. Very nice, and it does a good job at defending, too.
Spellbind (PHB2, p77) - Dominated then dazed. Another nice power, but the damage is lacking.

Paragon Paths



I welcome any other suggestions you might have for viable Paragon Paths. Private Message me or post in this thread.

Bardic Paragon Paths (all)

Cunning Prevaricator (AP, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - With the new rules in the PHB2, invisability is not as good as it once was. You really need to have a good stealth to make it super powerful. Unfortunately, stealth is hard for the bard to come by, unless you are a gnome, or you pick the right background. Still - if you want to focus on stealth this is quite the build. And it is doubly so if you have another stealthy party member.

Euphonic Bow (AP, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Dang it, this is a fun class, I just wish it meshed better. Like the Cunning Prevaricator, it requires a decent Dex or youe level 16 feature is nigh useless (there is not Ranged Training feat), but there isn't a Dex bard build yet. Further, there is no way to avoid MID until you get to Paragon tier. I guess you could simply redo your character via retraining once you get into this path. Oh - and you are going to need some way to switch out weapons or to saty out of melee. Still I can see a Drow with a hand crossbow rockin' this class.

Grave Caller (AP, p) : All Virtues - If you want a bard that can be a defender this is a great PP. Choose wisely, because you only get one per encounter. In general this is a powerful class but limited in its options.

Life Singer (AP, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - A solid PP, but the pacifist thing is very annoying after a while. Its better for the Cannybard as it used INT as a secondary, and good for an impliment bard as it gives will attacks rerolls.

Voice of Thunder (PHB2, p) : All Virtues - There are very few bard powers with the thunder keyword over the course of 30 levels, and most of them are sub par. The powers in this path go against Fort - which is typically the highest NAD.

Student of the Seven (PHB2, p) : Cunning, Prescient, Valorous - Bonus points for MAJOR flexability. If you play LFR where you never know your party's makeup this is a SkyBlue pick. If you are a multiclasser Cannybard, this with Combat Virtuoso is a VERY nice set up. And seriously - Power recovery in the Paragon tier. Too sweet!

Summer Rhymer (PHB2, p) : Cannybard Only All round very solid powers and features. Very leader-y as well. You can grant concealment, give allies the ability to teleport, give out resistances, and improve your healing.

Karmic Shaper (AP, p) : Prebard Only Fun buffs for the Prebard's feature, and End of Luck is tons of fun! Solid, fun, but not uber. All in all a very nice PP.

War Chanter (PHB2, p) : Valbard Only This is almost stupid good for a Valorous bard. Give your allies an auto hit! YES! Spend two action points - very nice. And you hand out Temp HP by the bucketfull.

Half-Elf Emissary (AP, p) : All Virtues - Well - its nice, but some of the powers overlap with the Versatile Master power, and most half-elves will take this. Still Emmisary's gambit is a very powerful and flexable power for a leader, so this is still a blue PP.

Multiclass Paragon Paths

The ratings below are relative. Paragon Multiclassing is necessarily a sub-par choice (to many feats to get powers that are behind the power curve and are often based off a class' features). There are not too many viable options here. You are going to want to go with a class that has CHA to hit, or at worst INT for a Cunning Bard or CON for a Valor Bard. If you don't you will have lots of trouble hitting with your fancy new powers - which is just frustrating. Keep in mind that you don't want to rely on too many implements as well. That means likely sticking to wand classes for the Cunning Bard and blade users classes for the Valor Bard. Finally, you are not likely to succeed in the defender role - so those classes should be skipped. With all that in mind:

Warlock: Valorous, Cunning - Better for a Valor Bard, as they can likely use the Con or the Cha powers. But it is still a pretty poor choice as you can never get the Warlock's curse which pretty much nukes half the powers on the list.

Wizard: Valorous, Cunning - This is best used by the Cunning Bard as they will have the INT to pull it off. The wand use also synergises well, as do the Illusion powers from Dragon Magazine.

Artificer


Artificer: Valorous, Cunning -

Not enough info yet.



Sorcerer: Valorous, Cunning - The key to making this work is getting a songblade that is a dagger - thus you avoid MID, and MAD. Works better for Valor Bards - esp ones who dabbled in some martial classes.

Other Paragon Paths of note

Since Multiclassing allows you to join any PP of a class you have MC'd into there are LOTS of options here. We really only have room to hit the highlights. Keep in mind that the rules listed above for multiclassing really apply here as well. Any PP based off a base class is going to use the same attack stat, the same role, and the same implement (in most cases). So just because you MC into cleric because the healing is nice doesn't mean you should follow a Cleric PP (or even swap powers for that matter). There are some exceptions to this rule - mainly due to an overpowered PP (like Daggermaster.) As of right now we don't know what PP are available for the Sorcerer or the Artificer, so our best PP from other classes will come from the Wizard or Warlock classes. However, many of the Warlock's PP rely on the cursing mechanism - which the bard can not use, further limiting our PP options. If you don't see a specific path listed this is because I rated it less than average.

Battle Mage (Wizard): Valorous, Cunning - A fun PP with some good options like a get out of death free card, and a humm-dinger of a capstone power. It is better suited for the Valor (read mellee) bard, but the Cunning bard does more damage with it. Anyway - realistically no one, bard or wizard, is gonna hit with the 11th level feature most of the time.

Blood Mage (Wizard): Valorous, Cunning - Yikes. This is a very powerful PP, especially if you mixed in lots of area effect powers. It does psychic damage which is good for the bard, but one of the powers is specifically tied to wizard powers only.

Wizard of the Spiral Tower (Wizard): Valorous, Cunning - Depending on how your interpret the 11th level feature, this could be a sweet power (but like as not it only works for the listed implements, not any implement as benefits the bard.) Even with the conservative interpretation of that feature, this still is a great PP, with a feature based off CHA.

Divine Oracle (Cleric): Valorous, Cunning - Lots of goodness here for the Cunning Bard. If you choose this path, then plan ahead - you can not rely on the 11the level all stat bump to get your WIS to 13, you will have to pay for it in the heroic tier.
Standard Epic Destinies

Archlich: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - It just doesn't fit well with the bard, who has very few necrotic of fear powers, and use CHA not INT.
Chosen: All Virtues - See Demigod - this is almost as great, depending on who you worship
Darklord: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - Free minions are fun. The power works best with ranged bards. And dying actually pumps you up significantly. Consider this if you are going the DEX route, or playing a gnome bard, but make sure you have Stealth.
Deadly Trickster: All Virtues - The requirements are easy to meet, and while the features and power is not the most powerful, by golly it’s a bucketfull of fun - especially the ability to start over once per day. Very nice.
Demigod: All Virtues - Its hard to beat this ED no matter what the character class.
Eternal Seeker: All Virtues - Better for a Bard that does a lot of Mcing, but all in all it is not unlike paragon Mcing in that you are getting the same power at higher levels. Not so good.
Fatesinger: All Virtues - I really dislike the flavor. OK. With that out of the way, its not a terrible ED. I wish things like Fate's Clarity lasted longer, or perhaps applied to all bard powers with the heal keyword. But there is lots of healing and granting actions - the purview of a leader.
Harbinger of Doom: All Virtues - Cloak of Doom rises this above the average ED. The temp HP is nice, and the ability to never (likely as not) to roll a one again is especially fun for those who luck runs south.
Harper of Legend: All Virtues - It would be better if Tymora Smiles were an encounter power. As it stands, it has the nerfed power of choose a power less then your level. At least you can increase the level of this power making it better than some of these powers.
Keybearer: All Virtues - Some very cool stuff here, but less than other Eds, plus while Reality Distortion is an encounter, it takes a standard action to sustain it, and only get the really cool stuff at level 30. So average, in general.
Legendary General: All Virtues - There is some great lerder-type powers in this ED. Granting others used powers and extra AP is what you are supposed to be doing. Also the level 30 feature is pretty darned awesome. You are such a great leader, your allies can not fall on the field of battle!
Lorekeeper: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - Very good for the bard that uses INT or WIS. Make sure you are trained in all knowledge skills and you take bardic knowledge. Also pick up a Ring of Ritual Casting.
Planeshaper: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - There are some great features in here, including the ability to create walls as a minor action. Pkus you can grant everyone an extra encounter power and healing, which is very leader like of you.
Prince of Hell: All Virtues - The plus to Cha is good. And it is better for tieflings, but IMHO it does too much indiscriminate damage to be of any great use.
Prison of the Winds: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - The powers and features are weak, and indiscriminate. The bonuses to stats do not work for any bard except the Valbard.
Punisher of the Gods: All Virtues - Repel Legions is the only thing that makes this ED worthwhile. The rest is way too situational, and weak given the fact that this is the epic tier.
Radiant One: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - The power is insanely good if you have a high INT. The features are not bad either, but this is really one for the Cannybard.
Raven Consort: All Virtues - Very weak for an ED. Not very Bardish either. The best power works only when you kill a creature, meaning this is better for a striker or defender.
Reborn Champion: All Virtues - A fairly average ED, but you might consider taking it if you have built a skill monkey.
Redeemed Drow: All Virtues - Really campaign dependant. Still its not bad if you are fighting demons or spiders, and Light of Heaven is a great daily.
Storm Sovereign: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - Not too shabby for the Valbard since it gives a CON bump. For the others it is probably a skip. The flying is awesome, and it is nice that it turns any power into a Thunder or Lightning power that can ignore any resistance, but you only get them both at level 30, so…
Winter Sovereign: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - This is very good for the Valbard, as there are weapons that can add the cold modifier to their attacks. As such, they can impose a -5 penalty to the save ends. Other than that there are little cold bard powers, so this one is skipabble.

Multiclass Epic Destinies

These are only available if you take the correct multiclass feat. Note that some EDs require a class feature that, as of right now, can not be obtained. They are not included on this list.

Adamantine Soldier: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - MC: Fighter, Warlord - The damage resistance makes this OK for a Valorous bard, but even a Valorous bard should not be in heavy armor.
Archmage: All Virtues - MC: Wizard - An all round strong choice for an Arcane class. The renewal powers are very good.
Dark Wanderer: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - MC: Ranger or Rogue - I like this ED flavor wise, but it isn't for the Bard, really. There are other ED that garner you much more.
Elf High Mage: All Virtues - MC: Wizard, Elf or Eladrin - Not bad, but the bonus is in WIS, and the ability to cast High Magic is better left to NPCs. Also the power is weak for an ED.
Eternal Defender: All Virtues - MC: Fighter - Umm - no. Not even for a frontline bard is this ED worth it. The powers and features do not sync well, and they trigger off a bards (at best) 3rd stat. Finally - there is no immortality option.
Glorious Spirit: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - MC: Primal - Better for the Valbard on the front lines, but in general - not for the bard, and not that great an ED even of you are NOT a bard.
Godhunter: All Virtues - MC: Ranger or Rogue - Its not terrible. There is some nice stuff here that even a Bard can use quite well. You have to MC into Ranger or Rogue, but that’s not terrible. Its just that there are better options out there.
Martial Archetype: All Virtues - MC: Martial - The real problem with this ED is that it requires you to paragon multiclass. No thanks. Especially when the ED itself is really an extension of paragon multiclassing into the Epic tier.
Mythic Sovereign: Valorous, Cunning, Precient - MC: Paladin, Ranger, or Warlord - Sword of Valor is not as good as you think it is, as it can only be used on basic attacks or at-wills (and at this level you are not likely to be breaking out too many at-wills). Becoming landed nobility is nice though. Better for Valbards as its power has the weapon keyword.
Perfect Assassin: All Virtues - MC: Rogue - Its great if you are a rogue, and Spirit of Death is very cool, but it doesn't work well for Bards.
Primal Avatar: All Virtues - MC: Primal - Oooohhh look a whole +1 to hit. Lookout. Ohh look, I can become a ghost - and just like a ghost I can't affect the real world. Woah!
Revered One: All Virtues - MC: Divine - A pretty good ED - very leader-like. It is especially good if you have a high WIS, are fighting immortals, and have lots of surges to spare. (ie you fight ranged.)
Undying Warrior: All Virtues - MC: Fighter - Weak, weak, weak. And if you can't mark you can't use the best power anyway (which isn't that great - I mean it is basically the same power once per encounter that the Avenger gets AT FIRST LEVEL!
Warmaster: All Virtues - MC: Warlord - Spring the Trap is justly epic. This is super-leader-like as it grants scads of actions, so it fits with the bard. Unfortunately, it is a little underpowered - but fun and thematically nice nonetheless.

Multiclassing, Part 1



First off, lets get this out of the way. The bard is perfectly fine if she doesn't take the first multiclass feat. In fact, there is a strong argument to be made for the bard not taking more than one multiclass. That being said, part of the fun in playing the bard is the class feature of takinf more than one multiclass. As such any bard guide would be remiss without an in depth discussion of multiclassing and its effect on optimization for the bard.

When you start to multiclass, it is best to consider two things MID and MAD. MAD is oft discussed here on the CO boards, but to clarify it stands for Multiple Attribute Dependency. It refers to the fact that a character who relies on too many different stats to hit will eventually fall behind the curve in comparison to her teammates & enemies encountered. With the removal of stat adders in 4th edition, iMAD has become a very, very hard constraint. It is almost impossible to have an effective or fun character that has to depend on 4 stats. And if you can avoid relying on 3 stats then that's even better. So when you multiclass you need to think about picking a class that relies on the same stats you do. In some instances, you might be OK - especially if you are picking up a class for a class feature (Cleric, I'm looking at you.) But even then, a feature can easily be dependent on a stat in a hidden way. For example, Battle Awareness subtly relies on STR to be effective. So unless you have a power or feat that shores up your basic melee attack, or you have a good STR, avoid this one.

MID stands for Multiple Implement Dependency (although technically this includes weapons as well), and it is related to MAD. It has come about with the advent of 4th edition. Just like a character can become ineffective if they are dependant on to may stats, so too can a dependence on too many implements (or weapons) really hurt a character. The biggest concern is having to purchase and upgrade more than 2 implements (or weapons) is not really cost feasible. Picking classes that share implements is crucial to making an optimal bard.

These issues are greatly magnified for the bard, as they dabble in more and more classes the chance of getting trapped by MID and MAD increases greatly. On the other hand, as more classes come out, the bard gets many more options. Unlike MAD, MID looks like it may become more of a problem as more classes are released, as the number of implements seems to be growing.

Below is a discussion of all the known classes, ranked via the color rating system along with a brief discussion. Keep in mind that these rankings are for taking the initial feat only. Given the bards multi-multiclass feature it may be that all you want to do with the bard is just pick up extra do-dads from other classes. You may not ever take the Novice, Acolyte or Adept feats. This is perfectly fine, it may even be the BEST way for a bard to multiclass.

Multiclassing Rankings

Cunning Bards

1) Soldier of the Faith (Paladin) - This works very well if you tell your party what you have planned. Doing this at a range is VERY devastating - especially if your fighters can wrap the baddie up or lock them down. But remember, they have to do it without overriding your mark. Furthermore, this specifically grants you the power - not some generic knockoff of the power (see Battle Awareness) which means that it works with other powers and feats should you choose to extend your class.
2) Pact Initiate (Warlock) - If only Dire Radiance used CHA. I like Eyebite for the at-will power, but Spiteful Glamor is good to as an opening salvo.
3) Berserkers Fury (Barbarian) - Berserker's Fury is an excellent feat. You see feats PP features that are more limited than this feat. If only it didn't require two stats.
4) Student of Battle (Warlord) - This is the best MC into Warlord. More healing helps you fill your role.
5) Sly Dodge (Rogue) - Compare this feat to the Swordmage MC feat. This is by far the better mobility action. Keep it in reserve for when you get cornered.
6) Inspiring Leader (Warlord) - This is another to pick up only if you want more skills. Student of battle is much better.
7) Initiate of the Faith (Cleric) - More healing helps you fill your healer role, and the cleric has on of the best PP in the game (for those who attack will, like the bard.) Finally it allows you access to the Star of Corellion - best implement for a cunning bard.
8) Sneak of Shadows (Rogue) - Sly dodge is best; Sneak of Shadows is Black and Ruthless Efficency is bad, bad for a bard. Also, compare this feat to the Swordmage MC feat - it makes the .
9) Initiate of the Old Faith (Druid) - The Druid gets a bump for the great feats you can pick up, but it is still better for a Valourous Bard.
10) Arcane Initiate (Wizard) - The implement synergy makes this an OK pick. If you get this one, consider MC into cleric as well for the Star of Corellion.
11) Defender of the Wild (Warden) - The power is for being in the thick of things, not hanging back. Keep in mind your build if you pick this MC feat.
12) Warrior of the Wild (STR) (Ranger) - Hunter's Quarry for two rounds is OK. It will work out to, at best 2d8 extra damage (barring extra feats) Pick the STR or DEX version based on your build.
13) Warrior of the Wild (DEX) (Ranger) - Hunter's Quarry for two rounds is OK. It will work out to, at best 2d8 extra damage (barring extra feats) Pick the STR or DEX version based on your build.
14) Arcane Prodigy (Sorcerer) - The feat bonus to damage is nigh useless, and the bard get no appreciable skill. The only reason to take this is if you want to get some of those sorcerer powers.
15) Two-Blade Warrior (Ranger) - Another one to take for the skill you get. It is MUCH better for the Valorous bard who uses a songblade (or two).
16) Divine Bloodline (Avenger) - I know a lot of people like this power, but for me it has too many restrictions and doen't last long enough. It is better for the Valourous bard anyway.
17) Acolyte of Divine Secrets (Invoker) - The invoker powers are nice, but it uses an off stat, AND an off implement, so you are likely to never hit with the at-will you get.
18) Spirit Talker (Shaman) - You can get more healing from this MC feat, true, but it is based off your WIS mod so in all likelihood it will not be enough to make a difference.
19) Student of the Sword (Fighter) - Not for the back line cunning bards.
20) Tactical Leader (Warlord) - Stay away from this one, unless you are trying to get more skill training.
21) Ruthless Efficiency (Rogue) - Requires a decent DEX and a good STR to pull off. Too much MAD for the Bard. Shame, because it grants a class feature, which is rare for a MC feat.
22) Battle Awareness (Fighter) - The feature granted is a knockoff of the real feature, it requires two stats, and it means you are in the defender role. All in all not very good for the bard.
23) Blade Initiate (Swordmage) - Worst MC feat ever, uses arcana, and the Swormage implements are not right for the cunning bard. Stay away.

Valorous Bards

1) Pact Initiate (Warlock) - As a Valorous bard you can actually make a go at using Dire Radiance, but I still think Eyebite is even better as an opening shot for a Valorous Bard - especially one with Sneak of Shadows.
2) Berserkers Fury (Barbarian) - It is hard to beat this MC feat. It adds up to tons of extra damage over the course of a fight, and there are few limitations to it.
3) Sly Dodge (Rogue) - Good for manuevering into flanking without taking a hit.
4) Soldier of the Faith (Paladin) - Not quite as good as for the cunning bard, since the baddie is likely to be able to reach the frontline Valorous Bard, but still pretty nice.
5) Initiate of the Old Faith (Druid) - The ability to Wild Shape is GREAT for a frontline Valorous Bard, and the Druid only feats are VERY nice for a skill monkey character.
6) Student of Battle (Warlord) - This is the best MC into Warlord. More healing helps you fill your role.
7) Defender of the Wild (Warden) - For a short while you can hang with the defenders.
8) Student of the Sword (Fighter) - Extras to hit with your songblade - all good.
9) Inspiring Leader (Warlord) - This is another to pick up only if you want more skills. While it is not terrible for the Valorous Bard, more temp HP is not good, since it does not stack.
10) Two-Blade Warrior (Ranger) - A nice pick for a Valorous Bard. If you are a half Elf pick any one of the hit with multiple weapon At-Wills for your Dillettante.
11) Initiate of the Faith (Cleric) - More healing helps you fill your healer role, but this is not nearly as good as it is for the Cunning Bard.
12) Sneak of Shadows (Rogue) - Sneak of Shadows works well for the Valorous Bard - a solid pick for the right build.
13) Divine Bloodline (Avenger) - Since you can maneuver till you are the only one adjacent to the enemy this one is an OK power. Still doesn't last long enough.
14) Warrior of the Wild (STR) (Ranger) - Hunter's Quarry for two rounds is OK. It will work out to, at best 2d8 extra damage (barring extra feats) Pick the STR or DEX version based on your build.
15) Warrior of the Wild (DEX) (Ranger) - See other.
16) Arcane Prodigy (Sorcerer) - The feat bonus to damage is nigh useless, and the bard gets no appreciable skill. If you do pick this up make sure your songblade is a dagger!
17) Battle Awareness (Fighter) - The feature granted is a knockoff of the real feature, and it requires two stats. Attemp this only if you can afford spending a feat on Melee Training.
18) Acolyte of Divine Secrets (Invoker) - The invoker powers are nice, but it uses an off stat, AND an off implement, so you are likely to never hit with the at-will you get.
19) Spirit Talker (Shaman) - You can get more healing from this MC feat, true, but it is based off your WIS mod so in all likelihood it will not be enough to make a You are likely to make WIS your dump stat making this a sub-optimal pick.
20) Ruthless Efficiency (Rogue) - Requires a decent DEX and a good STR to pull off. Too much MAD for the Bard. Shame, because it grants a class feature, which is rare for a MC feat.
21) Arcane Initiate (Wizard) - With no stat or implement synergy, this one is a pass.
22) Blade Initiate (Swordmage) - Worst MC feat ever, and only grants the arcana skill. Even for the Valorous bard this one stinks. Get Sly Dodge instead.
23) Tactical Leader (Warlord) - Too many riders on this ability to justify the piddly bonus it gives. Compare this to student of the sword.

Raw Data used for rankings

Cunning Bards<br /> Base Skill Stat<br /> Feat Name Class Rate Rate Rate Total<br /> Pact Initiate Warlock 2 2 1 5<br /> Soldier of the Faith Paladin 3 2 0 5<br /> Student of Battle Warlord 2 2 0 4<br /> Inspiring Leader Warlord 2 2 0 4<br /> Tactical Leader Warlord 2 2 0 4<br /> Warrior of the Wild Ranger 2 2 0 4<br /> Warrior of the Wild Ranger 2 2 0 4<br /> Sly Dodge Rogue 3 1 0 4<br /> Berserkers Fury Barbarian 3 2 -1 4<br /> Defender of the Wild Warden 1 2 0 3<br /> Student of the Sword Fighter 1 2 0 3<br /> Arcane Initiate Wizard 2 0 1 3<br /> Arcane Prodigy Sorcerer 2 0 1 3<br /> Initiate of the Faith Cleric 2 1 0 3<br /> Blade Initiate Swordmage 1 0 1 2<br /> Sneak of Shadows Rogue 1 1 0 2<br /> Acolyte of Divine Secrets Invoker 1 1 0 2<br /> Divine Bloodline Avenger 1 1 0 2<br /> Initiate of the Old Faith Druid 1 1 0 2<br /> Spirit Talker Shaman 1 1 0 2<br /> Battle Awareness Fighter 1 2 -1 2<br /> Two-Blade Warrior Ranger 1 2 -1 2<br /> Ruthless Efficiency Rogue 2 1 -1 2<br /> <br /> Valorous Bards<br /> <br /> Pact Initiate Warlock 2 2 2 6<br /> Berserkers Fury Barbarian 3 2 0 5<br /> Sly Dodge Rogue 3 1 1 5<br /> Soldier of the Faith Paladin 2 2 1 5<br /> Initiate of the Old Faith Druid 3 1 0 4<br /> Student of Battle Warlord 2 2 0 4<br /> Defender of the Wild Warden 2 2 0 4<br /> Student of the Sword Fighter 2 2 0 4<br /> Inspiring Leader Warlord 1 2 1 4<br /> Two-Blade Warrior Ranger 2 2 -1 3<br /> Initiate of the Faith Cleric 2 1 0 3<br /> Sneak of Shadows Rogue 2 1 0 3<br /> Divine Bloodline Avenger 2 1 0 3<br /> Warrior of the Wild (STR) Ranger 1 2 0 3<br /> Warrior of the Wild (DEX) Ranger 1 2 0 3<br /> Arcane Prodigy Sorcerer 1 0 2 3<br /> Battle Awareness Fighter 1 2 -1 2<br /> Acolyte of Divine Secrets Invoker 1 1 0 2<br /> Spirit Talker Shaman 1 1 0 2<br /> Ruthless Efficiency Rogue 1 1 -1 1<br /> Arcane Initiate Wizard 1 0 0 1<br /> Blade Initiate Swordmage 1 0 0 1<br /> Tactical Leader Warlord 0 2 -1 1<br /> <br /> <br /> A note on these stats:<br /> Each "power" gained through the feat was ranked 0-3. This is the base ranking. If the feat gives training in ANY skill it gets +2, one or two skills +1, and training in arcana gets you no bonus points. If the feat has a two stat requirement then -1, if the feat uses the primary stat then +2, the secondary stat gets you +1. up to 1 is purple, 5 and over is cyan.<br /> <br /> Also please note: This means that the ranking changes if you are willing to sacrifice your secondary stat for multiclassing. For example, If you pick DEX as your secondary state you will move up Rogue and Ranger powers in the rankings by +1.

Multiclassing, Part 2



Multiclassing is not just about getting a class feature. You can also dip into other classes powers. Just to note, I think the bard right now only has to pick each Multiclass Utility feat only once - not once for each class he dips into. Still, take some care when dabbling. You still only get so many powers per level. Make sure you have the space available at every level for the powers you want. It really stinks to dip into a class and find out that you have to dump another sweet power for the one you want.

Listed below are the top one or two powers to take for the Novice, Acolyte and Adept paths in each class. If there is no good choice an N/A is listed.

Noteable Powers by Class

Feats, Part 1



Since we are approaching 800 feats, just the notable (for the bard) feats are included here. Gallons of digital ink has been spilled on the awesomeness of feats like Action Surge, so unless it has specific bardic applications, I will not include it here. Most of the feats included here are here because they are great, but there are also some that are here because they are bard specific, and some are here because I want to point out that the feat is a trap. As always, if you feel that a feat need to be included, please post below with your reasons, and I will consider it.

This is divided into two sections. The first contains feats to consider with rankings by Virtue. The second contains feats available by class for the bard that dabbled in that class. I did not include multiclass feats in here, as that was more adequately covered in the two multiclass sections, but remember that if you want to multiclass, you will need probably 4 to 6 Multiclass feats over the lifetime of your Bards build. In fact feat management is one of the more difficult issues with a Bard build. (Right behind picking the right multiclasses)

Bard and Arcane Only Feats
Heroic Tier

Advantage of Cunning (PHB2, p184) - Cannybards Only. I really like the extra control this feat grants you. It really ups the ability of the bard to organize the battlefield.
Bardic Knowledge (PHB2, p184) - Remember this doesn't stack with Jack of All Trades, so if you take this feat, make sure you are trained in these skills.
Improved Majestic Word (PHB2, p186) - Now your party can start each encounter with your CHA in temp HP. Pretty good. And the extra umph in combat is good too.
Strength of Valor (PHB2, p189) - Valbards only. A nifty perk for the valbard's allies. I just wish the Valbard's feature triggered more often
Combat Virtuoso (AP, p124) - If your build has one or more multiclasses outside of Your main stats, and you take all the power swap feats then this could be DeepSkyBlue. I can see taking it later on - Paragon Tier or even epic. Just remember that it doesn't affect your PP (unless you PMC) or your ED - so stick to CHA based there.
Extended Prescience (AP, p126) - Prebard only. This power merely brings it in line to where it should have been in the first place. Still - it make the feature a real bacon saver.
Feyborn Charm (AP, p127) - Plusses to hit are always nice - especially sine this applies to all arcane classes. Unfortunately there are not that many charm spells, and the skill buffs have the feat keyword.
Friendly Deception (AP, p127) - A good one to pick up for the skill monkey build, or if you are in a skill heavy campaign. Otherwise skip it.
Prescient Fortification (AP, p128) - Prebard only. This , coupled with the extended prescience makes the Prebard's feature formidable.
White Lotus Defense (D374, p13) - A strong reserve feat for when you get in a bind.
White Lotus Enervation (D374, p13) - A plus to hit is not too bad for a feat, even if it is for only one NAD.
White Lotus Evasion (D374, p13) - Shift as a minor action is very good (not as good as slide, but that’s OK). Use it to jump in and out of cover, or move into flanking position.
White Lotus Hindrance (D374, p13) - This is very nice too. It can keep you out of being flanked, or kill a charge (very nice)
White Lotus Riposte (D374, p14) - The equivalent of Fire Shield a 6th level Utility for a feat.
Arcane Familiar (AP, p139) - Its all in what familiar you pick, but you can't go too far wrong given the list here and in Dragon. Get the disembodied hand for the ability to get or stow any object as a free action.
Bonded Familiar (AP, p139) - Not too exciting, and it won't come up that often.
Shielding Familiar (AP, p139) - This one is a life saver, and is close to being equivalent to the epic NAD boosters in PHB2, especially good for the bard with their sub-are 6th level spells.
Spellseer Familiar (AP, p139) - Plus 1 to-hit and a reroll as a daily. Excellent. Shame it costs you a utility, but that's OK really.
Arcane Fire (AP, p124) - A very strong damage booster, but not very useful for the bard. This is super good if you have a cold at-will (Pick one up if you are a half-elf versatile master).
Arcane Implement Proficiency (AP, p124) - If you are an elf then you should really get this feat to use with a pact bow. Other useful implements to pick - Rod(for the invoker powers), pact blades, daggers, and staffs. This can only be taken once so choose wisely.
Dual Implement Spellcaster (AP, p125) - It’s the stat requirement that makes this less desirable. DEX is likely to be your dump stat. If it isn't then you are likely to not want to wield two implements. You are likely better off with a shield. It gets better if you somehow get a hold of two songblades - or you use Arcane Implement proficiency to get a dagger or pact blade as your off hang implement then this may b

Paragon Tier

Improved Cunning (PHB2, p191) - Cannybards Only. This is very strong, especially if you took the Advantage of Cunning feat. You are now a chess master.
Improved Valor (PHB2, p191) - Valbards only. 3 extra temp HP at this level doesn't make a huge difference, but its not terrible.
Lyric of Rejuvenation (PHB2, p191) - A solid choice that can extend the party's day greatly. Still 2 extra points at paragon is not that great.
Disheartening Presence (AP, p130) - A solid power with reasonable limitations, but one that will serve you well, if you can keep from being bloodied.
Majestic Rescue (AP, p132) - So worth it. At this level status effects can be more deadly than damage.
Prescient Aid (AP, p132) - Prebard only. If you get this, you must pick up Extended Prescience. As it stands this feat turns your feature into an auto hit for an ally once per encounter.
Song of Inspiration (AP, p133) - So this gives your allies who are at full the ability to "overfill" their hit points. Don't get this and Improved Majestic Word unless you have other leaders in the party - they overlap too much.
White Lotus Master Evasion (D374, p14) - Now you can move from complete cover make an attack and move back into complete cover. A most sweet ability.
White Lotus Master Hindrance (D374, p14) - A most leader like power. With correct spacing you can really control the battlefield.
White Lotus Master Riposte (D374, p14) - This can be quite fun. Make sure you have a melee at-will if you take this one though, otherwise they will get another free shot on you.
Arcane Admixture (AP, p130) - The thing that makes this so good is the fact that it adds a keyword. Now this power can be used with Wintertouched / Lasting Frost cheese. Or perhaps you want to add more powers to your Voice of Thunder PP.
Arcane Ritualist (AP, p130) - Absolutely Terrible. Rituals are already enough of a resource drain. Now they want you to throw a feat into the mix as well? No thanks. There are easier ways to cast that ritual. Aid Another comes to mind immediately.

Epic Tier

Long Arm of Virtue (PHB2, p194) - Very weak for Epic. The only reason you need to be that far away from your allies is if you exclusively use Ranged Weapon powers.
Bard Implement Expertise (AP, p133) - And there it is. The feat that doubles the number of crits you get. Pick it up now.
Multiclass Mastery (AP, p135) - Another great feat. Shame it comes so late in the game, but at epic tier you should immediately retrain a MC feat into this feat. Shame you can only take it once.
Prescient Resurgence (AP, p135) - Prebard only. This is an immediate must have, especially if you took all the other Prescient Virtue buffs.
Supreme Majesty (AP, p135) - Double your healing, and finally the bard is a decent healer.
Explosive Spellcasting (AP, p134) - It took me a bit to figure out just how Epic this one was. You need to combine it with Implement Expertise, and some sort of burst / blast size increaser. The trick is to get as many creatures as you can in the blast. This will greatly increase your chances of getting a crit. Now you can out that crit on whoever you want. Get an implement with a crit rider, and you are really getting Epic.
Quickened Spellcasting (AP, p135) - Meh. Once per encounter on an at will, and its only made into a minor (not free?) Well that is decidedly OK.
Trusted Spellcasting (AP, p135) - It only affects one power. Pick your biggest kaboom spell and at least it will do something on a miss.



General Feats

Other Class Feats

Remember that these feats in effect cost you one extra feat to get them. So be cautious about multiclassing just to get a feat from this list. If, however you are already multiclasses here are some feats to consider.

Warlock
Sacrifice to Caiphon - Still a great feat, but not as good given Combat Virtuoso. After all hitting is better than not loosing the power if you miss.

Racial Feats



Half Elf

Versatile Master - Such a great feat, and especially good for a Bard. It makes Paragon Path Multiclassing viable, and allows you to take a power based on a secondary or tertiary stat and not worry as much if you will just waste it.

Skills & Backgrounds



Obviously the Bard should focus on Charisma skills, especially Diplomacy. A bard can very easily get more than a +20 to a Diplomacy roll in the heroic tier.

Counterintuatively enough, the Bard's focus should be on all skills. In effect, they can have the equivalent of being trained in any sjill for the duration of an encounter.

If you have take Jack Of All Trades, Inspire Competence will give you the equivalent of being trained in that skill anyway.

There are a few options for a background. If you are going to be a frontline Bard you might consider. Keep in mind though that

Links

Virtue of Valor Builds



The Tenacious Troubadour by Parshias337 - A bard that can lead from the front. He is full of HP and healing, and can go toe-to-toe with most of the baddies.

The Foolmaker, a ranged Dwarven Valorous Bard by Alphastream1

The Triple Threat by Ranthanas2

The Dashing Swordsman by Thorvald_Grimbjorn - A sweet DEX based build mixing in a dash of Rogue to make a nice striker leader combo. It forces the bad guys to make a difficult choice - get hurt bad or get hurt worse.

Virtue of Cunning Builds



Bob Loblow by sticks128 - a nice use of the Summer Rhymer

Virtue of Precience Builds

Other Builds, Part 1



Fear the Mighty Bard - Superhigh DPR by sticks128

Other Builds, Part 2

If I could, I would make you a raging river, with angry rapids, supplied with rain, so you could always meander and forever be able to run away without contending with myths wrongly interpreted with pain. A harsh wind.
-John K. Samson
Macbeth:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
(Vigil Sonnet)

I was perched, patiently in the hawthorn,
Concealed, with my head darting east to west,
With the rest of us singing, so careworn,
To the moon, full and beautiful; possessed
By the graces of the pale light shining
Down here from unimaginable heights;
Silver-voiced in song, mine aimed in pining,
Awaiting images of goodly sights.
Of fields full of thick, long grass, sheathed in dew,
For the quiet, wet early morning air;
The soft, enormous sky, bathed all in blue
Those swarms of insects stirring, far out there

And long shadows receded, found here furled,
And I looked out there, at the whole, wide world.
And, because it would be just wrong not to include it, THE song that represents the group of Genre Savvy musicians.

The Bard's Song, Blind Guardian:

Now You all know
The bards and their songs
When hours have gone by
I'll close my eyes
In a world far away
We may meet again
But now hear my song
About the dawn of the night
Let's sing the bards' song

[Ref.:]
Tomorrow will take us away
Far from home
No one will ever know our names
But the bards' songs will remain
Tomorrow will take it away
The fear of today
It will be gone
Due to our magic songs

There's only one song
Left in my mind
Tales of a brave man
Who lived far from here
Now the bard songs are over
And it's time to leave
No one should ask You for the name Of the one
Who tells the story

[Ref.:]
Tomorrow will take us away
Far from home
No one will ever know our names
But the bards' songs will remain
Tomorrow all will be known
And You're not alone
So don't be afraid
In the dark and cold
'Cause the bards' songs will remain
They all will remain

In my thoughts and in my dreams
They're always in my mind
These songs of hobbits, dwarves and men
And elves
Come close Your eyes
You can see them, too.

PS: On topic, can't wait to see the analysis of bardic powers. I've been thinking about them too.
Mountain Cleave Rule: You can have any sort of fun, including broken, silly fun, so long as I get to have that fun too (e. g., if you can warp reality with your spells, I can cleave mountains with my blade).
Aren't you jumping the gun just a bit, my good man? ;) Regardless, I'm quite interested in seeing your handbook once finished.

"But Odin gave the mead of Suttungr to the Aesir and to those men who possess the ability to compose. Therefore we call poesy Odin's Booty and Find, and his Drink and Gift, and the Drink of the Æsir."
Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )
Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who present, past, and future sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word,
That walked among the ancient trees,

Calling the lapsed soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen, light renew!

"O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass;
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumberous mass.

"Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day."

--Blake
I sincerely hope this becomes way much more than words...
Aren't you jumping the gun just a bit, my good man? ;) Regardless, I'm quite interested in seeing your handbook once finished.

Maybe, but I figured the task of tackling multiclassing would be quite onerous. That plus I had some time this weekend.....

Anyway, I have started to rate the powers that we know of, so take a look and give feedback.
Maybe, but I figured the task of tackling multiclassing would be quite onerous. That plus I had some time this weekend.....

Anyway, I have started to rate the powers that we know of, so take a look and give feedback.

Biggest problem with multiclassing on a bard is that, unless specifically noted in the PHB, you may not take the same feat twice. Therefore, Novice Power, Acolyte Power, and Adept Power may be only used for one power each.

Added to that, you have the fact that you're a class based on two attributes which guide you onto what powers can be effective if taken. Multiclassing into something that doesn't rely on either of them is likely to be a waste of time. And then, you want to know if you can fit a multiclass feat in a build with the others needed to make it an effective character...

Edit: TY. Don't have the preview. Seems that there might be a few things to do with a bard, but until more stuff comes out we'll just have to wait and see.
They're Cha primary. Int or Con is secondary. Int is for the "tricky bard", and Con for the "valorous bard".
Question: Can Bard/Multiclass Cleric take Heartwarder (from FRPG) which has an "any divine class" prerequisite?

If so it could make a nice pacifist-type character.
Biggest problem with multiclassing on a bard is that, unless specifically noted in the PHB, you may not take the same feat twice. Therefore, Novice Power, Acolyte Power, and Adept Power may be only used for one power each.

Added to that, you have the fact that you're a class based on two attributes which guide you onto what powers can be effective if taken. Multiclassing into something that doesn't rely on either of them is likely to be a waste of time. And then, you want to know if you can fit a multiclass feat in a build with the others needed to make it an effective character...

Edit: TY. Don't have the preview. Seems that there might be a few things to do with a bard, but until more stuff comes out we'll just have to wait and see.

See my notes under Multiclassing on this.

Question: Can Bard/Multiclass Cleric take Heartwarder (from FRPG) which has an "any divine class" prerequisite?

If so it could make a nice pacifist-type character.

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll look into it.
Wand of Psychic Ravaging.

A Bard's best friend until PHBII comes out and proves otherwise.
There is another daily utility known (I think from the DDXP), much better than the others:
Song of Defense
Burst 5, Minor action.
Effect: The burst creates a zone of bolstering song that lasts until the end of your next turn. When you move, the zone moves with you, remaining centered on you. While within the zone, any ally gains a +1 power bonus to AC.
Sustain minor.
Lest I be remise in not contributing some lyrics...

"Bravely bold Sir Robin rode forth from Camelot. He was not afraid to die, O brave Sir Robin. He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways. Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin. He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp. Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken. To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away. And his limbs all hacked and mangled. Brave Sir Robin.

His head smashed in and his heart cut out and his liver removed and his bowels unplugged and his nostrils raped and his bottom burned off and his *****....

Brave Sir Robin ran away. Bravely ran away-away. When danger reared its ugly head he bravely turned his tail and fled. Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about and gallantly he chickened out. Bravely taking to his feet, he beat a very brave retreat. Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!

...'ng it in, and packing it up and sneaking away and buggering off and chickening out and ******* off home. Yes, bravely he is throwing in the sponge."

(Hey I was gonna submit "The Final Countdown"...)