Sep 26, 2005
The Weapon Mastery feats rank among the best feats in the game; indeed, for a weapon-dependent character, their addition to their power is difficult to underestimate. Yet for many classes, it is difficult to pick up many Weapon Mastery feats. As follows is a list of the Masteries and which classes are best suited for taking them, as well as a look at which classes have a difficult time taking masteries.
Cleric: Axe Mastery (Dwarf only); otherwise, you're out of luck unless you're willing to invest very heavily in Constitution and take Bludgeon Mastery.
Fighter: Axe Mastery, Bludgeon Mastery, Heavy Blade Mastery, Light Blade Mastery (Rogue multiclass only). Can take Flail, Pick, or Spear Mastery as well, but they suck.
Paladin: Axe Mastery. If you're willing to invest very heavily in Constitution, Bludgeon Mastery is good as well.
Ranger: Axe Mastery (Some races can swing this without sacrificing other attributes at all, and you can potentially make a strength/wisdom ranger who dumps dex this way), Heavy Blade Mastery (Dual wielding either scimitars or bastard swords), Light Blade Mastery (Rogue multiclass only). Can manage Flail, Pick, and Spear Mastery, but none are worthwhile.
Rogue: Light Blade Mastery, Daggermaster paragon path.
Warlord: Axe Mastery. If you're willing to invest very heavily in Constitution, Bludgeon Mastery is good as well.
Str 21, Con 17
This is perhaps the easiest of the weapon mastery feats for many of the classes to get. It requires the primary stat in strength, something all of the melee classes can easily accomplish, and the somewhat more problematic Con 17. This is easy for a fighter to achieve as it is likely to be his secondary stat anyway (though he may split between Wisdom and Constitution), but for the Paladin, Ranger, and Warlord, the 17 constitution is tough, as to achieve it without spending discretionary attribute points on it you have to have 15 Constitution base.
Notably, you probably also want to pick up Deadly Axe if you aren't using a Greataxe, a Paragon level feat which improves your capabilities and with much lower, more reasonable stat requirements. You may even want to pick it up if you don't think you're going to aim for Axe Mastery, as it will significantly improve your ability with Axes as they deal pretty decent damage base.
Dwarves, however, have a large edge here because they can invest 13 in Con, boosting it to 15 via racials, and qualify for it by epic tier without investing points in it really at all. They also have the advantage of being able to gain Axe proficiency as Clerics via the Dwarven Weapon Training feat, giving them access to higher damage weapons. This is pretty easy to pull, via the following after-modifiers attribute sets:
Cleric or Paladin: 16/15/8/10/16/14 or 15/15 or 13/16 (if the paladin really wants an extra point of charisma or two)
Ranger (Melee-focused, obviously): 16/15/14/10/16/8
Warlord: 16/15/10/16/10/11 (Can switch the Intelligence and Charisma around for the other kind of warlord, or potentially make them more even and 14 each, though that's probably suboptimal)
The cleric and paladin have to sacrifice little; yeah, their wisdom/charisma isn't quite as high as it could be, but they have lots of hit points and, for the paladin, lots of healing surges. The ranger likewise suffers somewhat, his Dexterity not being quite as high as it could be but having lots of hit points to help to make up for it.
Note that a human can also execute a lot of these builds, though they probably don't want to with a Cleric because of their lack of Dwarven Weapon Training. Unfortunately their wisdom will be two lower in both cases, meaning dwarves are probably better for this, and rangers probably have better options.
Ranger (Melee-focused, obviously): 16/15/14/10/14/8
Warlord: 18/15/8/14/10/10 (can switch the Intelligence and Charisma around if desired, and can have 16 for strength and either Intelligence or Charisma instead of 18/14.)
Half-elves also can pull this off, though its probably a bad idea for them as rangers, the paladin option is arguably better than the dwarven option:
Paladin: 16/15/8/10/14/16 (Better stats than the dwarven option by having Cha and Wis reversed)
Warlord: 16/15/8/11/10/18 or 17/15/8/11/10/17 or 16/15/8/14/10/16 (all fairly solid arrays for an Inspiring Warlord and depending on how many intelligence-related skills you wanted to grab)
Dragonborn can potentially pull this off as well:
Ranger: 18/15/10/8/14/13 (not a horrible stat array, honestly, though it requires you to go the heavy armor route and dwarves are probably better suited for it)
Note that high constitution in general has the large side-benefit of qualifying you for armor specialization and armor training in platemail (and training in scalemail), if your class lacks those, and a paladin may be glad to be able to pick up Plate Mastery for an additional point of AC. This also notably qualifies rangers for Hide Armor mastery, which is a pretty handy boost to AC which can make up for the lower dexterity.
As a final note, the Halberd is a pretty decent two-handed weapon if you have the Wisdom to use Polearm Gamble. A fighter who wants to cheap out on secondary stats while trying to maintain maximum relevant ability scores may choose to use a Halberd, and it is a pretty decent weapon, especially as you gain a relevant heavy thrown weapon "for free".
Weapons worth using, in order of power:
- Handaxe (Heavy thrown, nice bonus for having gone down this path)
Deadly Axe (Non-greataxes)
Polearm Gamble (Halberds only)
Dwarven Weapon Training (Dwarf Clerics only, and replaces taking Weapon Focus)
19 Strength, 19 Constitution
This is far uglier than Axe Mastery due to the more balanced ability scores; again, fighters can pull this off fairly trivially. Hammers have the advantage of having Hammer Rythm at Paragon tier. Unfortunately, I can't really find any way to swing mastery without signficiant sacrifices to other ability scores in the form of upping Constitution instead of an important stat.
If any of you have an idea of how to pull this mastery off with a class other than a fighter, I'd be interested in hearing it. The best I can come up with would be a Warlord/Warlock, with a heavy investment in Strength and Constitution, but it seems like you'd be tossing a number of abilities from the Warlock class out the window to achieve it - a painful sacrifice.
The Maul is the single highest damage weapon in the game, and a dedicated maul fighter does as much damage as a rogue. An oversized Maul fighter has the ability to outdamage even the best of rogues. And you gain the incidental bonus of getting to use thrown hammers.
Weapons worth using, in order of power:
-Throwing Hammer (heavy thrown, incidental bonus to this path)
Dwarven Weapon Training (Dwarf Cleric only, if wishes to use Warhammers; strictly better than Weapon Focus in Mace)
Str 19, Dex 19
This is pretty trivial for any Ranger, but pretty much impossible for the Cleric, Paladin, and Warlord because dexterity does nothing for them. Sweeping Flail, their paragon-level feat, is pretty handy as it gives a situational but large and much sought-after to-hit bonus, though it is likely a worse choice than Heavy Blade Mastery overall due to the higher stat requirements and generally worse weapons.
Flails really don't have a lot going for them other than fighter powers unless you constantly fight mooks with shields, as they're outdamaged by the Maul at 2HW and Battleaxes and Warhammers at 1HW. While the Spiked Chain is the only reach weapon in the game with a +3 proficiency, its damage is too low, it does not currently have any additional feats, and there is no really good way to exploit reach at the moment, so is not worth using over a polearm. Generally, you're better off using Hammers if you want to inflict status ailments and Heavy Blades if you want a high dexterity weapon.
There is one advantage to using a heavy flail, though - a heavy flail user, while he lacks the HP of a dedicated maul fighter, has a significantly higher Reflex defense than his maul-wielding compatriot. Your DPR is worse and your weapon powers are generally somewhat weaker, but you don't have a terrible Reflex.
Weapons worth using, ranked by power:
Heavy Blade Mastery
21 Str, 17 Dex
This is pretty trivial for a Ranger to pull off, but is annoying for the Cleric, Paladin, and Warlord because dexterity does nothing at all for them. One of your best choices is to dual-wield scimitars; in that way, you qualify for both Heavy Blade Opportunity (which allows you to use an at-will ability (almost certainly Twin Strike) for opportunity attacks) and the very nice Scimitar Dance (deal dex mod damage on missed attacks); due to your high volume of attacks, this weapon is quite excellent for you, and you don't have to give up anything at all to use them extremely well. Even fighters who use shields are strongly tempted by the scimitar if they don't take weapon proficiency in the Bastard Sword, as being able to put all that dex to use would be nice. Those who don't use shields are going to go for the excellent Glaive (which works extremely well on a fighter, especially thanks to the very good Polearm Gamble power, though unfortunately they have to throw a bit into dexterity to get the weapon mastery feat necessary to put it to full use). Note that for the sword and boarder this also qualifies them for Shield Specialization, even better than Plate Specialization, and for the Glaive Wielder this qualifies them for either Chainmail or Scale Armor specialization.
Notably the Heavy Blade wielder also can take Blade Opportunist, one of the best fighter feats as it gives them an additional +2(!) bonus to opportunity attacks. Fighters do love their heavy blades, and they are one of the best choices for fighters, along with axes and hammers. Also worth noting, a fighter, ranger, or paladin will usually want to use scimitars; they're excellent weapons and unlike all other one-handed military weapons, a small creature can wield them one handed.
Elves and Eladrin have an advantage with heavy blades, much as dwarves did with heavy axes; it is easy for them to get their dexterity to 15 to start out with with minimal investment, making it a great "lazy weapon" for them. Halflings will pretty much focus on Scimitars if they're fighters, and use a scimitar anyway if they're a paladin but will not pump their dexterity and use the same "lazy" strategy.
Unfortunately, while axes involve boosting constitution, which is useful for Paladins, Warlords, and Clerics, it is not so with heavy blades, as dexterity is pretty useless to those classes, though it does qualify them for shield mastery. Eladrin Clerics are handy with longswords, but unfortunately their statistical boosts make it difficult to justify being one in the first place, so the benefit is pretty borderline due to the marginality of the build.
In order of power of weapons worth using:
Scimitar (heavy Dexterity investment, best choice for rangers and fighters who are willing to invest heavily in dexterity. THE weapon for small fighters)
Bastard Sword (best choice for the person who doesn't want to pump dexterity as much; best for Paladins, Warlords, and Fighters who would rather invest in some other secondary stat)
Glaive (Some Wisdom investment, but excellent; the fighter who uses a glaive will pump Strength and Wisdom)
Heavy Blade Opportunity
Weapon Proficiency (Bastard Sword)
Scimitar Dance (Scimitars only)
Polearm Gamble (Glaives only)
Light Blade Mastery
17 Str, 21 Dex
This is trivial for a rogue to qualify for, and a fighter is not going to use these unless he is multiclassed into rogue (and is going to cry because of the extremely high dex requirement). The same applies for the Ranger, who again isn't going to use these unless he multiclassed into rogue. These are basically worse heavy blades which can sneak attack and be used for rogue powers. If you're a rogue or a rogue multiclass, you probably qualify for this anyway, and if you aren't, you shouldn't be using Light Blades.
Note that this feat is unnecessary if you are a Daggermaster, who has an even better form of this ability as a class feature.
In order of power of weapons worth using:
Dagger (Rogue Daggermaster only)
Light Blade Precision (Optional, but highly useful if you fight lots of large foes)
Weapon Proficiency (Rapier)
21 Str, 17 Con
These are like axes, but worse in every way. Don't use picks; they don't have any other feats for them at all, and there are virtually no pick-dependent fighter powers. This may change in the future, but at the moment, steer clear.
19 Str, 19 Dex
Spears are like picks in that they lack feats. There are no spear-specific feats at all; even Spear Push allows you to use a polearm instead. They don't deal enough damage to be interesting, either, and you're better off using a halberd (if you want axe feats) or a glaive (if you want to use heavy blade feats, and you still qualify for Spear Push if you want to push more).
The only thing Spears have going for them is a small number of fighter powers. However, all of them allow you to use a different, generally better weapon instead, and the only one which does not, Talon of the Roc (which allows you the wonderful choice of using a pick or a spear to use), is decent but simply not enough to warrant using a spear over a better polearm with more feats and more relevant powers.