So you decided to sell your soul to some foreign entity in exchange for arcane power. Great, now it’s time to get down to brass tacks and figure out just how you’re going to use your new found power. Hopefully this guide will help you make the most of it.
As with all handbooks this is all just in my opinion, many of you will have different opinions on the matter. You’re welcome to disagree with me and post your own feedback and criticism. If I incorporate your ideas into this handbook I’ll be sure to credit you.
This handbook is primarily intended to cover the basics of being a Warlock and will be written as such. However, attempts will be made to point out exceptions to the general wisdom for gish and other variant builds.
As is the trend nowadays I’ll be using Dictum Mortuum's color-coding.
Red: bad idea, avoid this option. Purple: better, but will rarely be useful Black: useful, but there are probably better options Blue: good, a solid choice Sky Blue: excellent, probably your best bet
Credits: MwaO and Black_Egg for some early criticism and prodding me enough to expand the guide to include gishes.
Strength: Dump this unless you want to go for heavier armor and/or a gish build. Most Warlocks will have a high Int, so the armor alone probably isn't worth the investment. Note: Putting this at 11 would let a Con-lock pick up Hide Armor, Light Shields, and Hide Specialization at Epic without sacrificing much.
Constitution: Depending on your choice of pact this is either your primary or tertiary stat. Regardless Con is important for Fort, HPs, and healing surges. Dexterity: Still useful for Initiative as well as Stealth and Thievery if you decide to pick those up…but that’s about it. Intelligence: Your secondary stat. Int gives you AC, Reflex, and bonuses on many powers. Also good if you want to pick up Ritual Caster. Wisdom: Nice for Insight and Perception, but you’ve got better places to spend your points.
Charisma: Like Con this is either your primary or tertiary stat. Useful for Will and social skills either way.
Eventually I'll add a section on possible stat arrays for various builds, bear with me. Basically you're going to want to focus on either Con or Cha, depending on your pact, and then Int. Trying to pump both Con and Cha will require you to sacrifice a lot of Int. This is painful enough as it is but it will also nerf your AC. Even though it takes a hefty investment in both attribute points and feats you should strongly consider heavy armor and shields if you want to attempt a Con and Cha build. Just don't say I didn't warn ya. :P
Dragonborn: An interesting choice but overall not optimal. The Charisma bonus is certainly nice but the Strength bonus is a waste. Assuming you’re focusing on Charisma you probably won’t have the stats to make good use of Dragon Breath or Draconic Heritage which is why this race is only black. However, Dragonborn make very interesting Str/Cha gishes. In this case base Dragon Breath off Str and you'll be clearing minions like it's going out of style. If you decide to go Dragonborn make sure you pick up Dragonborn Senses.
Dwarf: Another race with one good stat bump and one weak stat bump. Dwarven Resilience and Stand Your Ground are great. Dwarven Durability will make you the toughest Warlock around, but as a ranged striker you don’t really need to be that tough. The free weapon proficiency is worthless for ranged Warlocks, but a gish will certainly enjoy it. I had my doubts about the dwarves but considering how well it works with Blood Mage and the limited choices for a Hell lock I think they deserve a blue rating.
Eladrin: No stat bump to Con or Cha keeps this from being a blue race. The Int boost is good no matter what kind of Warlock you want to play. The extra maneuverability from Fey Step will be helpful to Infernal or Star pact Warlocks. Eladrin Education plus the Dex bump will let you grab Stealth which is awesome for Warlocks.
Elf: Elven Accuracy may be awesome but two weak stat bumps make this a pass. Half-Elf: Now we’re talking, two great stat boosts, low-light vision, and good skill bumps! Half-Elves excel at any kind of Warlock and are one of the few races that can pull off a Con&Cha Star Pact well. Dual heritage lets you pick the amazing human feats though you should probably pass on the Elf feats. Dilettante is one of the more interesting racials in my opinion. I’d suggest picking up Scorching Burst or maybe Thunderwave for some minion clearing goodness.
Halfling: A solid choice with one good stat boost and one ok stat boost. The Dex and Skill boost will let you be pretty decent at Thievery if you lack a rogue. Second Chance will help keep the squishier Charisma warlock up and blasting. However, the Halfling feats won’t help you as much as they would a melee character.
Human: As in previous editions Humans are good at anything. Awesome racial feats, a bonus feat, a bonus skill, and boosted defenses make them strong Warlocks. Unfortunately, if you’re focused on only one primary stat (and with only one stat boost you probably should be) then the extra at-will won’t help you very much. An Infernal Warlock can grab Dire Radiance to target another save but Fortitude is generally the hardest Defense to hit. Tiefling: Arguably the best race for Fey pact Warlocks with two great stat bumps. The other racial benefits are pretty nice too. Infernal Wrath doesn’t excite me at all though, but at least you’re one of the few builds that can get the full benefit of it. The racial feats make Infernal Wrath significantly better so make sure to grab them. Hellfire Blood is a pretty strong feat especially for Starlocks who have lots of fear powers.
Drow: A tempting choice for any Cha-lock. At the moment this is the only player race that gets Darkvision, which is especially powerful for stealthy characters. With the Dex and Skill boost you’ll be decent at Stealth even without training. You’ll almost always hit with Darkfire and, while CA isn’t as important to Warlock as it is a Rogue, a to-hit bonus for the whole party is great. Genasi: An interesting race with lots of fun options, but the stat bumps make this a less than optimal choice. Still, a gish build might consider this race.
These races lack racial feats, but some have such great stats and/or abilities that they're worth considering anyways (assuming your DM allows them). I'm only going to mention the ones appropriate to the Warlock. Doppelganger: An excellent choice for a Feylock and the party face. There's no combat benefit but depending on the campaign and the DM the racial power could be absolutely amazing or just interesting. According to Keith Baker's blog Changelings are practically the same, so expect racial feats with the release of 4e Eberron.
Githyanki: With plus Con and Int this an absolutely amazing Hell lock or Con Starlock race. The bonus to Initiative is great and Telekinetic Leap will help either you or an ally get into the perfect position. The only downside is no Low-Light vision. Pray we get some good racial feats for the Githyanki sometime in the near future.
Gnoll: Could be Blue considering the lack of good races for Hell locks but the racial is useless. The speed and stats make this a solid gish choice, but sadly the racial still isn't much count.
Gnome: An awesome Feylock, better than Doppelganger or Tiefling IMO. Fade Away and Reactive Stealth are excellent defensive abilities. I thought we'd get Gnome feats with the FRPG, but now I guess we'll have to wait for Eberron. If they're good Gnomes will officially replace Tieflings for Feylocks.
Goblin: Also very similar to Halflings. Goblins have Low-Light and a Stealth boost but probably a worse racial power. It's at-will but seems like it's only going to help you run away...or flank I guess.
Hobgoblin: Like Half-Elves they can excel with any pact. Not so great skill bumps, but the Initiative bonus is great. Still, I prefer Dilettante to Hobgoblin Resilience.
Kobold: Yet another Halfling-like race. Two useful stat bumps, good skills, and a racial power that's not overwhelming but still very useful.
Minotaur: Could make a very strong gish, but otherwise I'd pass.
Orc: Once again a good candidate for gish builds.
Shadar-kai: Basically an Eladrin clone, but Shadow Jaunt is probably better than Fey Step. Lacks the extra trained skill but if you were grabbing Stealth than the skill boost almost makes up for it.
Warforged: The Dragon Article makes this one of the best Gish choices as it gives lots of extra benefits, racial feats, and even racial Paragon Paths. The ability to imbed implements so they don't take up a slot is so ridiculously good that any Con-lock should consider this race.
Your pact is perhaps your single most defining aspects and will influence all of your other decisions. In fact I probably should have put this as the first section! I’m not going to employ the color coding on your choice of pacts as they each have their ups and downs. Ultimately it depends on what kind of character you want to play.
Fey Pact: Making your pact with “ancient, amoral powers of the Feywild” grants you the excellent defensive at-will Eyebite and the incredible maneuverability enhancing Misty Step pact boon. Fey powers tend to focus more on debuffing, messing with your opponent’s mind, and battlefield control. All of a Feylock’s powers are based off Charisma so you may double as the party face. Overall a very strong pact choice. Infernal Pact: Selling your soul to the Devil himself nets you the vengeful Hellish Rebuke at-will and the fortifying Dark One’s Blessing. Infernal powers offer high damage, temporary hit points, and forced movement. All of a Hell lock’s powers are based off Con making you one of the toughest characters around. I have to admit Infernal pact is probably my favorite, but maybe that’s because it seems the most thematically appropriate to the Warlock. Star Pact: A pact with the Far Realm gives you the control at-will Dire Radiance and the accuracy enhancing Fate of the Void pact boon. Star powers are a mix of debuffs, control, and high damage. A Starlock’s powers are split between Charisma and Con making a balanced build preferable. Unfortunately balancing between two primaries can be difficult, especially with the recommended point buy. Another option is to pick one stat and run with it, picking up other pact's encounter powers when needed. This is probably an easier build to play without a generous point buy.
Dark Pact(Forgotten Realms Player's Guide): Channeling the power of the Underdark grants you the bloodthirsty Spiteful Glamor at-will and the retributive Darkspiral Aura pact boon. Dark powers influence your enemies' minds and inflict ongoing damage effects. Like the Feylock, the Darklock's powers are based off Charisma. The Dark Pact offers power, but often at a price.
Note: Thanks to a new feat from Dragon 366 you can eventually gain a second pact.
All of the Warlock encounter powers have a pact bonus that incorporates your Int bonus into the power’s effect somehow, if you have the appropriate pact. This is the reason you didn’t dump Int and makes it preferable to select your pact’s encounter powers. Still there are occasions where it is worth while to go with another pact's encounter powers, especially if you have a low Int. None of the base daily or utility spells have pact bonuses so don’t be shy about grabbing whatever spell you prefer. However, be aware that the Dark Pact (unfortunately) has some daily spells with a pact bonus. Hopefully this won't become the new precedent. Powers are evaluated on a combination of how effective they are overall and how they stack up to the other options at that level. Level 1 At-Wills Spoiler:Show
Eldritch Blast: Your default attack, this is Sky Blue for a number of reasons. It can be based on either Con or Cha, it doesn’t have to meet a condition to do its damage, it can be used as a ranged basic attack, it targets Reflex, and it does untyped damage (so while nothing will be vulnerable to it, nothing will be immune/resistant either). If you’re grabbing a Warlock power with Dilettante or PP multiclassing it’s between this or Eyebite depending on your stats/role.
Eyebite: Hits Will and makes it really difficult for the target to hit you for a round. The other pact powers only do more damage if their condition is met while Eyebite’s secondary effect always works.
Infernal: Hellish Rebuke: Even though you’re tougher than other Warlocks you still don’t want to be putting yourself in harms way just to trigger the extra damage. However if you know you’re going to be taking damage (like you’re standing in a zone or you’re about to use Warlock’s Bargain) then by all means fire away. You can also use it to discourage the BBEG from attacking you but if both you and the defender are smart it shouldn’t be that necessary.
Dire Radiance(Con): This is probably easier to trigger than Hellish Rebuke and obviously less masochistic. Still there’s no way to force the trigger unless you can interrupt the target’s turn. Also it’s the first of your numerous fear effects and targets Fortitude.
Spiteful Glamor: This only does more damage than Eldritch Blast against uninjured targets and it has no secondary effect. However, it does target Will and it's always nice to be able to hit multiple defenses.
Witchfire: Less damage than the others but significantly lowers the target’s chance to hit. Unfortunately it only lasts one round and does fire damage.
Diabolic Grasp: Good damage and decent battlefield control. Unfortunately it targets Fortitude which is often the hardest defense to hit. Vampiric Embrace: Targets Will but has a short range. Just remember that temporary HPs don’t stack so your pact boon won’t do you any good if you kill the target with this power (until higher level, and then temp HPs from the power won't do you any good). Still, it is a source of HPs in a solo encounter.
Dreadful Word(Cha): The best option at this level. Dreadful Word has good damage, targets Will, and applies a hefty penalty to the target’s Will if you’re a Starlock. Pop this on the BBEG and tell your party to fire away with their Will attack dailies. However, it is short range and a fear effect (some enemies have resistance/immunity to fear).
Glow of Ulban(Cha): Not bad, but the fact that it only affects one saving throw doesn't impress me. I see no reason to take this over Dreadful Word.
Cursebite: Wow, this can deal a ton of AoE damage. The only reason it isn't Sky Blue is that it'll be a huge pain to setup without a Rod of Corruption. Unfortunately it does target Fortitude.
Flickering Venom: Not bad, but after the stealth nerf it can be hard for ranged attackers to get CA. With all the other great choices at first level this is a pass.
Fey: Curse of the Dark Dream: Medium damage and the ability to move your target even a little for the rest of the encounter (potentially) make this a tempting choice. Unfortunately the other Charisma daily is just too good to pass up. If only you could sustain a power more than once per round. If you do take it keep in mind this is a charm so again some enemies might be resistant/immune.
Armor of Agathys: Your typical ranged Warlock won’t be able to make that much use out of this power unless you like getting hit in the face with OAs. However this is an excellent gish buff.
Flames of Phlegethos: Pure damage, but tons of it. At low levels you’re unlikely to meet anything with resistance but keep in mind that fire resistance is one of the most common resistances.
Star: Dread Star(Cha): Lower damage than the other dailies but can keep the target out of melee for a round and puts a save ends Will debuff! The only possible downside to this is that it’s a fear effect (which a Starlock is likely to have in abundance).
Prophecy of Zhudun(Cha, Dragon 366): Even less damage than Dread Star, but it dazes the target and they treat others as having concealment. Considering that the dazed condition grants combat advantage this helps you hit the target almost as well as Dread Star and it works for all attacks. Really this is just better in almost every way (though keep in mind Dread Star's defense penalty applies even on a miss).
Crown of Stars(Cha, Dragon 366): Targets Reflex and does more damage than the other Star dailies (but not the other pact dailies). The potential blinding effect is nice but the really interesting part is that it can be sustained for more attacks. The extra attacks only deal a minor amount of damage but they only take a minor action to use! Not only does this give you another chance to deal Curse damage (if you miss with your standard action attack) but it's also great against minions. I really like this one, but Prophecy of Zhudun is probably better. Note: Thanks to the_redbeard for pointing out that this goes great with Starfire Womb.
Contagion: I really like the concept of this power but I'm not sure how well it'll work in action. If the target fails his first saving throw than Contagion will likely deal more damage to him than any other daily and it spreads to nearby enemies! But...if he passes the first save you only did 10 damage with a daily and no special effects. Without some way to increase the target's chance of failing I'm not sure this is worth it. Oh and you especially don't want to use this on Solos or Dwarves!
Your Glorious Sacrifice: While your friend might not be too keen on taking damage this power is only worth it if he does. If you've dealt damage to an ally then this could do more damage than Flames of Phlegethos (thanks to the pact bonus). Target's Fort, but the to-hit bonus mostly makes up for it.
Beguiling Tongue: Umm…wow, +5 to three different social skills and it’s an encounter power! Granted it's only to one skill check per use but once is often enough. Considering the importance of skill challenges in 4e you should probably take this unless you really don’t want to be the party face. Paladins eat your heart out.
Fiendish Resilience: I think Hell locks have more ways to gain temporary HPs than any other class in the game and almost all of them are crammed into the first two levels. I just don’t see you needing this very often unless you’re a gish.
Ethereal Stride: A very nice, low level maneuverability power with a defensive buff. There’s nothing to not like about this power, I just can’t rank it as high as Beguiling Tongue. Feylock’s certainly won’t need this but if you dumped Charisma and you know the face role is covered then grab this.
Fevered Certainty of Caiphon(Dragon 366): A nice skill boost, but it's a daily and the Will penalty makes it less attractive to use in combat. Shadow Veil: Meh, decent bonus to a useful skill but it only lasts one round. Nowhere near as good as the other options.
Spider Scuttle: Uhh nice, this is better than the level 6 Utility Spider Climb in every way. If you don't care about social skills this is a very nice choice.
Eldritch Rain: Basically two Eldritch Blasts at the same time, but they have to be against different targets that are moderately close together. Not very exciting to me. Otherwind Stride: Move into the fray (preferably by teleporting), blast ‘em, then teleport away and laugh…assuming the targets are melee :P This power gets even better if you take the Feytouched Paragon Path.
Infernal: Fiery Bolt: Nice damage and helps you clear away mentions so you can curse the BBEG. It is fire damage though.
Frigid Darkness(Con): Only single target which is kind of disappointing when everyone else got some AoE but your Rogue will love you. Unlike the other level 3s this power gets significantly better if you have the appropriate pact. Hits Fortitude. (Note: This power was updated so that you and your allies gain combat advantage against the target and the AC debuff only lasts one round.)
Hands of Ihbar(Cha, Dragon 366): An interesting idea, but the fact that you have to hit a cold resistant creature with a cold attack in order to lower it's resistance to cold is disheartening (it's not explicitly clear but I think I'm right in my interpretation that the damage is applied before the effect). Still, rate this considerably higher if you and/or your party are particularly focused on cold damage.
Upsetting Onslaught: Both damage and dazing are good, so either way this power is effective. However, I don't like that the target gets to choose. Also the pact bonus is kinda odd since you'll normally want to hit Will, but added flexibility can't hurt.
Your Delicious Weakness: This is a pretty unique power (I think) and I like the "always prepared" feel to it. The usefulness will vary wildly depending on your opponents though, so I feel this power is better at higher levls when you have more powers to choose from.
Fey: Crown of Madness: Low damage for a daily and the sustain effect seems lack luster to me. All the target has to do is move one square away from his allies on his turn. Unless you have some way to consistently keep enemies clumped up this is worthless. Curse of the Bloody Fangs: Better damage and a much better sustainable effect than Crown of Madness. Even if the target moves away from his allies he still takes damage. However it does target AC which is…odd. Without a proficiency bonus it might be hard to land this power unless you set up some bonuses. I haven’t seen any other implement powers that target AC so this could be a mistake.
Infernal: Avernian Eruption: Another fire damage AoE, but much more suited to taking out groups of tougher foes. A solid power, but Hunger of Hadar is just too sexy.
Fury of Gibbeth(Int, Dragon 366): Another strange power at this level, this one uses Int with a +2 bonus for the attack roll. As long as your build emphasizes Int then this actually isn't so bad. The damage is great for this level and the effect is pretty good, so this isn't a bad choice. However, if you dumped Int then obviously this isn't for you.
Hunger of Hadar(Con): Your first zone and boy is it a good one. This is classic battlefield control. It blocks line of sight, damages them when they enter or when they start their turn there, and only requires a minor action to maintain while giving you free attacks! Use other control powers to keep them stuck in the zone, or let them out and force them back in again for even more damage!
Forceful Assault: Good damage and a good debuff, probably the best choice for non-dark Cha-locks.
Twilight of the Soul: This has a lot things going for it. It targets Will, potentially does lots of damage, the pact bonus helps it stick, and it's reliable. Yup that's right, this is the first reliable lock power. Otherwise this might not be Sky Blue, but c'mon it's our first reliable!
Fey: Fey Switch: Useful to bail out the overeager rogue or melee ranger, just make sure you don’t stick around either. Could also be used to let your defender gather a clump of baddies and set up an Otherwind Stride.
Infernal: Shroud of Black Steel: A decent buff that gets major cool points for letting you imitate Colossus. The speed penalty could be keenly felt by a melee gish though (which are the ones most likely to take this). Any Warlock could use this buff though and Charisma locks might want it just for the Fortitude boost.
Spider Climb: There are significant advantages to having a climb speed but as this is an encounter power you’ll probably fall immediately afterwards. Unless there are a lot of obstacles that can be overcome in one move action this is pretty lame.
Star: Dark One’s Own Luck: Even though you have more options you should probably use this like Elven Accuracy, on a daily attack. Sadly this is daily but it’s a pretty good one. I’d just be afraid I’d never use it because I’m “saving it for when I really need it”.
Red Leeches of Nihal(Dragon 366): Provides a hefty amount of temporary HPs so non-Hell locks might want to consider this. The best thing about it is that it's an immediate action, the trigger should happen often enough as to be almost superfluous. The main problem is Dark's Own Luck is just better.
Rending Fear of Khirad(Dragon 366): How many times have you tried to interrogate an enemy only to have your DM say "Sorry, he's just more afraid of Orcus than he is of you," no matter how high your intimidate check is? Well not anymore, mwhahaha! I'd be very tempted to take this, even though Dark One's Own Luck will be more useful on a consistent basis.
Shadowslip: Kinda cool, but the situational limitation just ain't that great. Now if it made them miss instead of triggering on a miss then we'd be talking.
Mire the Mind: An interesting power that’s really more a buff than an attack. Try to use it early in the encounter so you can enjoy the Stealth bonus for the rest of the fight. However, you should also try to use it on the BBEG as his attacks will probably be the most dangerous and everyone can get combat advantage.
Howl of Doom: Decent damage for an AoE and the movement effect makes this perfect for pushing a clump of enemies back into a zone. However, it is a fear effect that targets Fortitude. I really like this power but if you don’t have zones in the party it’s probably only blue.
Infernal Moon Curse: OK damage (if you’re Infernal) and OK effect, just not very exciting. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for the 5 feet off the ground part other than flavor, but immobilized is still immobilized.
Far Realm Phantasm(Cha, Dragon 366): Low damage, but burns your target's next standard action and hurts his Will defense for a round. A very solid choice, this would be Sky Blue if it did better damage.
Influence of Acamar(Cha, Dragon 366): Great damage, decent battlefield control, and great range (for Starlocks). Unfortunately the target limitation kills it for me. Sign of Ill Omen(Cha): Uhh…so this is just a slightly different version of Witchfire. Target’s Will, which is better, but it does the same damage as a level 2 encounter power. I’m way too lazy to do a statistical analysis on which is better, two rolls with a penalty equal to your Int mod or 1 roll with a penalty equal to 2+Int, but they seem pretty similar. However Sign of Ill Omen only affects your target’s next attack while Witchfire last until the end of your next turn. That may not seem like much of a difference until you think about AoE attacks (which require one roll per target) or OAs. I say skip this even if you’re a Starlock.
Deathboon: A nice to-hit boost, solid damage, and the "boon" is pretty cool when it triggers. I'm not sure if they intended this or not but if your DM is nice Darklocks might be able to get 2d8 extra damage if you drop an unbloodied target.
Death's Commands: For a low level dazing encounter power this actually ain't too shabby. However, as an anti-undead spell it's weird that it does necrotic damage (which undead are resistant too). You might not do any damage, but the immobilization means a melee undead might not be able to do anything at all.
Curse of the Black Frost: A nice damage over time effect to throw on a melee BBEG and force him to chase after people.
Iron Spike of Dis: Decent, untyped damage but the kicker is immobilization (save ends). Keep a melee nasty at bay or pin one down in a zone. Plus you just nailed somebody to the ground with a giant iron spike, how cool is that?
Brood of Hadar(Con, Dragon 36): Excellent damage on the primary target and has a chance of hitting a secondary target with curse damage too. Unfortunately the primary attack is based on Con while the secondary attack is based on Cha, and you have to kill the primary target to even have a chance at hitting the second. Still if you're Charisma based and have an OK Con the bonus to hit on the primary target might be enough. I just don't see taking this over all the other excellent choices at this level.
Summons of Khirad(Con): Less damage than Iron Spike of Dis but hits an easier save. You probably won’t be able to keep the target out of melee but you can keep dropping him in a zone over and over again until you miss. I like the fact that you make attack rolls instead of letting your opponent save but since it requires you to sustain it you won’t be able to have a zone of your own up. Ultimately the usefulness will probably depend on your party. If you have a Wizard buddy that loves zones then this power is worth it, otherwise stick with Spike.
Thief of Five Fates(Cha): I’m not sure about this power. I suppose it’s a 45% chance to force your target to miss/fail which is pretty good, but also pretty random. In addition you can keep it going with a minor action until you miss. If their Will is easy to hit this is better than a (save ends) effect, but if their Will is hard to hit then it’s not. This might be worthy of blue, I can't decide. Keep in mind though that as a Warlock your role is to deal damage which this power does none of.
Death's Fond Caress: It's the only other reliable lock power and it ignores necrotic resistance, but it does less damage than Flames of Phlegethos, a level 1 daily.
Ring of Pain: Like Contagion this relies on the target failing his first save to have it's full effect. But, Ring of Pain still does initial damage, targets Will, and the damage can really rack up for Darklocks.
Warlock’s Leap: A teleport that doesn’t require line of sight? Yes please! However, it is a daily so if you have lots a teleports already you can probably pass on this. At first I thought this was a minor action (it's not, thanks rmn498 for the catch) but I still consider it worth the rating since it doesn't require line of sight.
Ambassador Imp: Ehh…I suppose it’s useful outside of combat in some adventures, or if you want to set up a postal service.
Shadow Form: Well…it seems like a pretty good escape power, but the only other use I can think of would be to fly into position for your next attack. Still it seems like you could just teleport most of the time. Shielding Shades: Save this for a crit and you won’t regret picking this power up. As a squishy Feylock (who has plenty of teleports) I’d probably pick this up, for other Warlocks it’s a toss up between this and Leap.
Troublesome Aid of Caiphon(Dragon 366): This basically doubles the amount of healing you get for a single healing surge! While Shielding Shades might save you from an attack that does more than half your health the fact that this is an encounter instead of a daily makes it at least as good.
Darkest Mirror: This is just way too situational. How often are you going to be fighting only invisible opponents and no visible ones?
Bewitching Whispers: This power does no damage to your target and only does damage to your other enemies if they’re dumb enough to provoke an OA from the target. I suppose if there were a way to prevent the target from warning his allies this might not be terrible, but as it is…Please don’t take this.
Harrowstorm: Decent damage and let’s you slide the target a huge number of squares. Unfortunately, it target’s Fortitude. Note: if you're a Bloodmage this could do huge amounts of damage so rate this significantly higher.
Soul Flaying: Probably more damage than Harrowstorm if you’re a Hell lock and it targets Will. The weakened effect only lasts one turn but this is still a decent pick.
Blaze of Ulban(Cha, Dragon 366): Ok damage and targets Will. Strangely this slides a secondary target which you don't even have to hit. This could potentially be used against a BBEG that you'd otherwise have trouble hitting, but it's pretty situational. Still, this is pretty much a Cha-lock's only choice at this level and the save penalty is decent bonus for Starlocks. Coldfire Vortex(Con): Basically the same as Fiery Bolt, just not as good really. Sure it does slightly more damage but it attacks the primary target’s Fortitude rather than Reflex and you have to hit all the secondary targets. Still, it does give you the option of doing cold or radiant damage, which is nice.
Cursegrind: Just Cursebite with a little more damage, still this is your first swap-out level so eventually you might as well.
All Must Sacrifice: Can potentially do lots of damage but considering enemies usually have more HP than your party this is a questionable exchange. Still the damage is spread out among the party so this might be worth it for Darklocks.
Curse of the Golden Mist: An interesting power that can lock down a target but locks you down as well. You probably don’t want to use this in large scale battles, but this could turn a solo encounter into an automatic win…a little bit anticlimactic though.
Infernal: Fireswarm:Good damage and the sustain effect does AoE damage (just make sure you don’t hit your melee allies!). Unfortunately it takes a standard action to sustain and it deals both fire and poison damage.
Thirsting Maw: Less damage, short range, and targeting Fort hurts, a lot, but the vampiric healing is very nice and very thematically appropriate. Definitely a solid choice, especially for gishes, unfortunately this comes at the same level as Tendrils of Thuban.
Far Realm Glimpse(Cha, Dragon 366): OK damage and a good control effect, though the second dazing seems a little redundant. I just can't imagine taking this over Visage of Zhudan.
Tendrils of Thuban(Con): I love this power! A good damage zone that locks them in place so they keep taking damage and stay put. The sustain reapplies the immobilized condition so even they save on their turn they’re still stuck! They won’t be getting out of this without help so begin diabolically cackling . Unfortunately it does target Fort and won’t help you against frost immunes, but it still rocks.
Visage of Zhudan(Cha, Dragon 366): Finally a zone for Cha-locks! I still like Tendrils of Thuban a little better, but this has a few advantages. Visage actually blocks line of sight, targets Will, and does damage whenever they enter or start their turn in it as well. However, it only slows targets instead of immobilizing them so you'll need other powers (or your allies) to keep enemies in the zone.
Kimmeriel's Smile:The damage is a little low but the daze effect is pretty cool since it doesn't end until the target hits someone. This would be particularly good against melees, I just wouldn't take this over Visage of Zhudan.
Dark Lady's Gift: Another ongoing damage, save-failing dependent power. This one is totally dependent on the primary target continuing to fail, so you really need some way to hurt his saving throws to make this work.
Infuriating Elusiveness: Considering this is another short range teleport Feylocks can probably pass, but the invisibility is nice. Hell locks and Starlocks, especially gish ones, will certainly find this hard to pass up.
Cloak of Shadow: Really just an escape power, and not that great of one. Still if it could help you fly onto a good perch and rain death upon the enemy it’d be worth having, but the fact that you have to wait a round to do anything really hurts. I think I’d almost always rather have Infuriating Elusiveness instead.
Caiphon's Disquieting Liberty(Dragon 366): At this level 5 hit points is definitely worth removing one of those conditions, especially restrained. Non-Feylocks will probably still want Infuriating Elusiveness though. Eye of the Warlock: A pretty unique and interesting power but in the end I’m not sure how useful it is. At first I thought this would be great for spying but the 55% chance to end every 6 seconds kinda kills that idea. Still you can get in range, throw this on someone not likely to die right away, then run away and blast from a very safe distance (for a little while anyways). Feylocks might consider picking this up, but everyone else probably needs the teleport.
Ruinous Resistance: If you don't mind being a total jerk to one of your "friends" then this is pretty good, but someone's really not gonna like you.
Thirsting Tendrils: Targets Fort and just average damage but the healing makes this a very attractive power. Unfortunately this is at the same level as Strand of Fate, so you’ll have a tough choice. What’s up with WotC making it so hard to actually choose our healing powers?!
Warlock’s Bargain: A very high damage power, but targets Fortitude. The short range and the health cost can make this dangerous to use so be careful. Fortunately, having a high Int will help mitigate the cost and don’t forget this is an excellent trigger for Hellish Rebuke.
Delban's Eye(Cha, Dragon 366): While this does more initial damage and could still rack up a fair amount of extra damage it won't be as much total damage as Strand of Fate. Interestingly this marks the target and negates concealment while they're marked but that's only situationally useful. Considiering this also targets Fort just take Strand of Fate instead.
Strand of Fate: An amazing setup power that’s fun for the whole party! This would be a good time for everyone to pop action points. In the typical 5-man party this power could potentially do up to 90 extra damage, and that’s not even counting the pact bonus! Even Con-locks should consider grabbing this if they didn’t totally dump Cha.
Unholy Glee: Even if the target chooses to remove the effect the first round this should do more damage than Warlock's Bargain. However, you might get unlucky and do substantially less (if the target doesn't end it but makes the save). On the bright side this targets Will and has a huge range.
Your Delectable Pain: Once again they just copied a lower level power and upped the damage, but this time the damage is considerable even without vulnerabilities! You should probably be a team player and take Strand of Fate instead but this is a close second.
Delusions of Loyalty: A very nice power to throw at a brute. Even if he can’t hit your enemies a least he’s not hitting your allies. It’s better for small scale battles since you won’t be able to keep any other effects going (like a zone). Keep in mind it is a charm effect.
Minions of Malbolge: An interesting buff that repels any enemy who gets near you. This seems like an excellent gish buff, but it’s still useful for other Locks in close quarters. Unfortunately it only lasts till the temporary HPs run out. However, this power becomes much better if you also have Summons of Khirad. Just use Summons to bounce the target into your imps every round for some fun extra damage! (Thanks to Shular for pointing this out.)
Dark Side of the Moon(Cha, Dragon 366): This apparently Pink Floyd inspired power would be pretty good if it weren't at the same level as Wrath of Acamar. It is easier to hit with though and it's a fear effect (which could be good or bad, depending on your feats/features and your target's resistances).
Wrath of Acamar(Cha): Another excellent control power, this one simply takes the opponent out of the fight until they save. I like this a little bit better than Delusions of Loyalty since it doesn’t need to be sustained, but it might not last as long. It does good, reliable damage but might be slightly harder to hit with considering it targets Reflex. Which one you choose pretty much comes down to personal preference.
Explosive Contagion: This type of power should look pretty familiar by now but this is definitely the best one so far.
Passionate Betrayal: An awesome Charm spell, you don't have to maintain it and the target takes penalties to his saving throws for all the healthy opponents! Just make sure your party focuses their fire.
Raven’s Glamor: A very long range teleport that also turns you invisible. You can’t attack and stay invisible, but considering you can stay invisible for as much as 5 mins this power could be very useful in non-combat situations.
Wings of the Fiend: Pretty simple, and pretty awesome. We’ve finally gained a power almost as good as the 3e Warlock’s 6th level power!
Entropic Ward: A situationally useful buff. This could be a lot better for a gish since they’re more likely to be surrounded and their melee attack could probably use the boost.
Ulban's Shining Cloak(Dragon 366): Wow, not only do you get to turn the BBEG's nasty attack into a miss but you also get to reflect it back at him! This is really good (assuming you kept your Int score up of course) but I don't know that I could pick it over Wings without having some other source of flight.
Thorns of Venom: Significantly less damage than the others and targets Fort, but a pretty decent setup power.
Spiteful Darts: Well you know how much I like pushing enemies into zones and this one is AoE and good damage to boot!
Dark Transport(Cha): Great damage and targets Will. With the pact bonus this is an awesome positioning power, but non-Starlocks might find it dangerous to use. A very strong gish power as well that lets you pull an enemy away from his defenses and puts you right in the action.
Starless Void(Con, Dragon 366): So it's Frigid Darkness with a damage upgrade...yay, how exciting. Niether one is a bad power, they're both just disappointing, especially this one.
Dreadtheft: This is pretty awesome, it has a to-hit bonus, hits two targets, has a huge range, and refreshes if you kill one. On top of that a Darklock gets to "borrow" a resistance. The damage isn't spectacular but the potential to do it several times per encounter more that make up for that. Just select a minion as one of your targets if you want to be sure of getting it back.
Blades of Vanquished Armies: While you probably never want to be surrounded this will greatly help if you ever find yourself in that situation. This would be particularly good for a gish.
Curse of the Twin Princes: Decent damage and targets Will, but the range sucks. Still this provides a very strong deterrent against getting attacked. Even better for gishes, except when someone else is attacking your target.
Tartarean Tomb: An awesome power that almost completely shuts down the target while you get to keep blasting him!
Gibbeth's Embrace(Int, Dragon 366): Another strangely Int-based power. This one has no bonus so you might have trouble hitting. It has the potential for lots of damage, but I can't justify taking this over the other great choices.
Thirteen Baleful Stars(Con): Good damage, targets Will, and stuns for a round. A good power, but pales in comparison to Tartarean Tomb. Also, it’s another fear effect.
Invisible Death: A huge range but even if you have CA I'd rather take Curse of the Twin Princes.
Ring of Torment: Good damage on the target and this time the "contagion effect" occurs after your primary target saves. This would actually be worth using on someone with good saves (assuming they have allies running around).
Curse of the Fey King: Uhh, low damage and a completely random and unexciting effect. If the target rolls a 20 then great, but if he rolls a 1 than you get nothing. The only saving grace to this power is that it targets Will.
Hellfire Curse: Once again it’s pure damage, but lots of it. Unfortunately it targets Fort and does fire damage, but by this level you’d better have Irresistible Flame to help you out there.
Banish to the Void(Con): Another pretty crappy power, but at least it also targets will. The damage is pitiful for this level and the effect is pretty lame too. The fact that he disappears until the start of his next turn means basically nothing except that your allies can’t attack him. The target’s return attack is also pretty random, what happens if there are several “nearest targets”? If the target’s space gets filled he even gets to choose which closest space he appears in so he also gets to chose who he attacks! I really don’t understand the point of this power.
Envoy of Nihal: Pretty good damage, but the healing is what makes this shine. If you're a Cha-lock you want this power.
Inevitable Undercut: OK, but take Envoy of Nihal instead.
Curse of the Dark Delirium: Yeah you get to make the target dance the Mockarena if you want to, but it keeps you busy as well. Still it’s a strong power to use in an encounter with a few elite enemies. Obviously this is a charm effect.
Hurl through Hell: An absolutely amazing power! Great damage, targets will, keeps the opponent out of the fight for four rounds with no save, then stuns him until he saves (check the errata). Plus the flavor is delicious for a Hell lock. It is both a fear effect and a fire spell though, but that can’t stop the awesomeness of this power.
Caiphon's Abominable Melody(Cha, Dragon 366): Less initial damage than Hurl or Doom but could rack up quite a bit of continuing damage with no further effort on your part. While the conditions aren't as good as Hurl's the slide effect offers excellent control. However, the fact that you have a 55% chance to negate all damage for the rest of the encounter makes it silly good. The minor damage inflicted on you or your allies is just a nuisance by this level (especially since you might negate it...).
Doom of Delban(Con): Good initial damage that can get to be ridiculously high as you sustain it. The damage to you does make it painful to use though, unless you have Divine Regeneration or a Cleric to heal you up. Unfortunately it targets Fort, is a fear effect, and does cold damage. Cold damage isn’t as commonly resisted as fire but there’s no feat to help you penetrate cold resistance. However Wintertouched and Lasting Frost work really well with this power.
One Final Sacrifice: This is pretty crappy. You deal 10 damage to your allies for either 1d8 or 1d12 extra damage. So on average you're getting the short end of the stick no matter what pact you have. On top of that the enemies have more total HP than you do...don't take this.
Spread the Corruption: This is kinda cool, and strange in that it's melee. A Darklock who's been pumping Int will get 6 to 8 attacks in (if there are enough enemies clumped up) so you can deal quite a bit of total damage. However, this is very situational and requires you to get close to use. I'm mostly giving it points for style; you'd be much better off with one of the other pacts' Cha dailies.
Class Skills: You get to choose four skills from this list. What you choose will probably depend largely on your party makeup. Try to coordinate with the rest of your group to cover as many different skills as you can, with the best bonuses. Arcana(Int): Depending on your background you probably ought to have this, role play-wise, but otherwise you can let the party Wizard handle it. However, if you don’t have a Wizard, or just want to cast rituals, then you need to take this and Ritual Caster. Bluff(Cha): A good skill for anybody to have, but you won’t need it in combat. If you’re the party face then this is a no-brainer. History(Int): Another skill that you can probably let the Wizard handle, but less useful. Insight(Wis): Like Bluff this is a useful skill for anyone and you really want it if you’re the face. However, you’re not Wisdom-based so this isn’t mandatory. Intimidate(Cha): Another good face skill, but you can also force bloodied opponents to surrender! If you’re Charisma-based take this. Religion(Int): Useful for a variety of reasons but half your party might have it. If you have Ritual Caster you might want it though.
Streetwise(Cha): Basically the old Gather Information and a knowledge skill all in one. This is only a class skill for two other classes so consider picking this up, especially if you’re Charisma based.
Thievery(Dex): A fun and useful skill, but you’re not Dex-based so if there’s a Rogue let him handle it.
Non-Class Skills: These will cost you a feat to acquire training in but some of them are well worth it.
Stealth(Dex): Thanks to Shadow Walk you can always get concealment to remain hidden. Unfortunately, after the stealth nerf, you need total concealment or total cover to begin hiding so this is no longer ridiculously good for a Warlock. It’s still not a bad idea to pick up though, especially for scouting.
Perception(Wis): Nice to have so someone can't pull the above mentioned stealth shenanigans on you. This is also how you find traps so this compliments Thievery well. However, there's likely to be someone better at it than you in the party.
Diplomacy(Cha): Grab this if you're the face to fully fill the role, otherwise you can pass.
Alertness: Useful for anyone, but even better if you’re in charge of traps. Unfortunately it doesn't stack with Skill Focus.
Armor Proficiency: Your choice of armor will depend on your stats. A Cha-lock will have to make sacrifices to get better armor which, if you keep your Int up, probably aren't worth it. However a Con-lock can start out wearing Hide or heavier with only a little bit of pain or wait till Epic and put only a single starting point in Str. The choice between Hide or heavy armor depends on your Int and how high you plan on pumping it. If you start with a 16 Int and pump it every time (or a 14 Int and go Demigod/Chosen) then Hide and Chain offer the same protection. However keep in mind that Hide and Plate Specialization require Con while Chain and Scale require Dex (which you certainly can't afford).
Astral Fire: There are tons of fire powers and a few radiant powers, but not worth investing in Dex on it’s own.
Burning Blizzard: Starlocks have several cold powers but there are very few acid powers for the Warlock (which is kinda odd when you think about it). Considering you don’t need Wisdom either, pass on this.
Dark Fury: Once again you probably won’t have the stats for this, but there are plenty of the appropriate powers.
Defensive Mobility: You want to stay mobile so anything to help you against OAs is good. However, between stealth and teleportation you can probably avoid OAs entirely (especially Feylocks). This is a lot better for a Gish because they’ll be in melee all the time.
Durable: It might not be all that exciting but anything to increase your endurance/longevity is good.
Improved Dark One’s Blessing: This is great at the early levels when you can really notice the extra HPs but it doesn’t scale at all. Still, more health is always a plus.
Improved Fate of the Void: An excellent feat considering how hard it is to get attack bonuses in 4e. Don’t forget that, unlike Dark One’s Blessing, Fate of the Void is actually cumulative. If multiple cursed enemies drop in a round you could end up with an astronomical bonus!
Improved Initiative: Blasting the enemy before they get to blast you is obviously helpful, get this feat.
Improved Misty Step: More maneuverability is good and it stays just as useful throughout your career.
Intelligent Blademaster(FRPG): If you've multiclassed into Swordmage this is an excellent choice for a gish. With this feat you can focus on Int instead of Str.
Jack of All Trades: The importance of skill challenges and the way skills work in 4e make this a worthwhile feat (unlike the mostly useless version in 3e).
Linguist: There’s no easy way to gain languages in this game and few other party members will have the Int to take this. If you’re the face then you’ll want to know as many languages as possible.
Power Attack: Obviously this is only for a Gish, everyone else can move along. This is only black because you probably won’t be using a two-hander (you still need an implement and pact blades can only be light) and you probably have a lower attack bonus than other melee types. Still, if you’re not having difficulty hitting then you definitely want this.
Quick Draw: If you have the Dex this could help you with switching implements. Unfortunately the initiative bonus won’t stack with Imp Init.
Ritual Caster:A fun feat but you can probably pass if the party already has a Wizard. Now if there is no Wizard then you really need to take this.
Sacrifice to Caiphon(Dragon 366): Assuming this works on both single- and multi-target powers this is absolutely amazing. Everybody hates missing, now with encounter powers it’s not so painful (well, technically, it’s more painful, but you get the point). Using this with higher level powers can be costly though…unless you’re a Hell lock! Besides giving you something to do with all those temporary HPs remember the damage can trigger your Hellish Rebuke.
Shadow's Eclipse(Dragon 366): Resistances are great, but unless you know your DM loves radiant damage you won't run into enough to justify taking this feat. It is very easy to activate for you thanks to Shadow Walk, so in the future this could become a lot better.
Shield Proficiency (Light): Just like Hide proficiency there’s no real reason not to take this if you have the Str. You can still hold things in your shield hand with a light shield, just not attack with them. According to the FAQ this is enough to benefit from an item's property.
Shield Proficiency (Heavy): You can’t hold anything in your shield hand but the AC and Reflex boost is nice.
Skill Focus: If you’re the party trapsmith you’ll want this on Thievery to compensate for your low Dex. Similarly you might want this for Stealth if you pick up training in it. You might also consider getting this for face skills, but if you’re Charisma based it probably isn’t necessary.
Skill Training: Skills are important to everyone in 4e, but try to take a multiclass feat for this instead.
Starfire Womb(Dragon366): Excellent for Starlocks, most of your powers are fear, radiant, or both. Unfortunately other locks probably don't have enough of the appropriate powers to take this.
Toughness: More HPs are always good and Charisma locks are pretty squishy.
Weapon Focus: According to the FAQ when using a weapon as an implement you gain the bonus to damage rolls from Weapon Focus. Thus, if you're going to be using a Pact weapon anyways there's no reason not to pick this up as it's a damage bonus to all your attacks (implement and weapon based). There's also no reason to take any of the Astral Fire type feats any longer.
Wintertouched: The Wintertouched + Lasting Frost combo might not be as good for you as it is a Rogue, but it’s still very nice. There aren’t that many cold powers but some of them are very good and require several attack rolls (like Tendrils of Thuban and Doom of Delban).
Racial Heroic Feats:
Avowed Dragonfoe(FRPG): A very power feat against dragons but its limited scope makes it somewhat campaign specific.
Broken Shackles(FRPG): A nice defensive bonus but it doesn't stack with Iron Will.
Dragonborn Frenzy: A +2 bonus to damage is OK, but you don’t want to be bloodied to use it.
Dragonborn Senses: Low-light vision, for a feat?! Yes please!
Enlarged Dragon Breath: Good for more minion clearing, but not necessary.
Dodge Giants: You won't be fighting many large opponents in Heroic tier but this feat gets a lot better at later levels. Hopefully you'll be staying out of the way of the big guys but a gish should highly consider this.
Dwarven Weapon Training: Retrain it for Weapon Focus at epic since the two won’t stack.
Gold Dwarf Pride(FRPG): A nice bonus but you don't want to be knocked unconscious to activate it.
Shield the Fallen(FRPG): A very nice bonus to your allies but ranged warlocks are unlikely to be standing next to allies very often. Also, selflessness isn't exactly our style. :P
Eladrin Soldier: Just like Dwarven Weapon Training.
Moon Elf Resilience(FRPG): The limitation on where your allies can be when you use this is irksome, otherwise it'd be great.
Sun Elf Grace(FRPG): Like Feywild Protection, just worse. Granted you can get it earlier but it also has a limitation on its use.
Group Insight: Not very exciting considering it does nothing for you but your allies will love it.
Light Step More of a fluff feat than anything really, it's just not worth it. The skill bonus is OK but won't stack with Skill Focus.
Ghostwise Heritage(FRPG): I'm not sure I'd take this even if I had a good Perception.
Halfling Agility: Makes your racial even better, take it.
Lost in the Crowd: Practically everyone’s bigger than you, but you won’t be adjacent to multiple enemies very often. Of course if you’re a Halfling gish (I’m not sure why you’re a Halfling gish but whatever) this is a must have.
Action Surge: Probably the best racial feat in the game. Use this to greatly increase your chance of hitting with a daily.
Human Perseverance: Ways to improve your saving throws are rare so this feat is golden.
Stubborn Survivor(FRPG): Wow, another way for Humans to improve their saves. This kind of flies in the face of the conventional wisdom to horde your action points but still a good feat.
Ferocious Rebuke: Makes your racial actually decent, take it.
Hellfire Blood: A good feat on it’s own, but if your DM allows you to add keywords to powers with an implement then it’s a permanent +1 to attack and damage!
Scion of the Gods: An excellent feat but it doesn't stack with the other defense feats.
Clutch of Darkness(FRPG): Useful for when you want CA for a Close Burst but not that much better than your normal Cloud of Darkness.
Drow Fighting Style(Dragon 367): You don't need a Crossbow, you have Eldritch Blast.
Drow Heretic(Dr 367): There are more spiders than I thought but still too narrow to be worth a feat. Unless of course, your campaign is an anti-spider crusade.
Instinctive Darkness(Dr 367): Would have been awesome if it was an immediate interrupt instead of an immediate reaction but it's not. As written this really doesn't do much for you, the enemy will have finished smashing you in the face before your cozy Cloud of Darkness appears.
Lolth's Meat(Dr 367): Attack bonuses are hard to come by so this is pretty good.
Ruthless Hunter(FRPG Like I said, you don't need a crossbow.
Shadowslip(Dr 367): This seems much better for a melee character, there's better feats out there for a warlock.
Shield of Shadows(FRPG): A nice bonus but not really worth a feat.
Earthshock Master(Dragon 367): A nice feat but I wouldn't consider it a priority. Still the damage makes Earthshock good for killing minions now.
Extra Manifestation(FRPG): Extra versatility is always good and it sets you up for the awesome Double Manifestation at Epic.
Fast Manifestation(Dr 367): Let's you swap out manifestations in case you chose poorly and basically gives you an extra encounter power.
Firepulse Mastery(Dr 367): Reliable is better for this power since it's single target and more damage is always good, but this isn't necessary.
Genasi Fire Affinity(Dr 367): Inflicting save penalties is awesome and the extra resistance is like a little gravy on top. Unfortunately Warlocks currently only have two powers that deal ongoing fire damage, so without some power swaps you won't have much use for this. However, if you really want ongoing fire damage to be your shtick this feat will help it stick. :P
Genasi Frost Affinity(Dr 367): The immunities are particularly good for a gish but the fact that they only protect against cold powers makes it a little too campaign specific.
Manifest Resistance(FRPG): Good, assuming you use a manifestation that grants resistance, but you probably don't have enough feats to squeeze this one in.
Primordial Surge(Dr 367): An extra source of temporary hit points is always appreciated by non-Hellocks, especially gish ones.
Versatile Resistance(FRPG): An excellent feat, I only wish there was a way to improve the resistances.
Arcane Reach: Too bad this requires a 15 Dex, otherwise it’d be awesome!
Armor Specialization: If you’re a Con lock you’ll have no problem with the stat requirement for Hide or Plate so grab this if you’ve got an appropriate armor proficiency. Otherwise the requirements are just too high.
Called Shot(Dragon 368): This a pretty hideous damage bonus that stacks with everything. However, depending on you and your party it might be hard to get Prime Shot.
Combat Anticipation: As good for you as it is anyone else (and maybe even better since those are the kind of attacks you’ll likely be hit by). Unfortunately it’s a feat bonus so it won’t stack with a lot of other feats.
Danger Sense: Initiative optimization is even more important in 4e, take this.
Defensive Advantage: Another nice feat (you should have combat advantage almost constantly if you have a decent Stealth modifier), but even harder to qualify for.
Demonweb Spiral(FRPG): A first glance this looks really good, but you have to remember that Darkspiral Aura triggers on the enemy's turn when he attacks you. Considering he's already attacked you he's probably already moved into position and isn't going to move until after the immobilization would be over anyways.
Devastating Critical: Doing damage is your job and this does increase your damage output, but not by much. Your implement will give you plenty of extra damage on a crit for free and you don’t have a way to increase your crit range like other strikers.
Fleet-Footed: Maneuverability is very powerful in 4e, but depending on your power selection you might not really need this.
Great Fortitude: Especially good for Charisma locks who probably have a poor Fortitude.
Hammer Rhythm: A great choice for a Con based gish. Obviously not for ranged Warlocks.
Improved Darkspiral Aura(FRPG): If you have Darkspiral Aura you should definitely get this as it will help you get closer to that magical 12 damage.
Improved Second Wind: Pretty crappy considering it’s only 5 more HP and it only modifies your second wind, not your healing surge value.
Iron Will: Like Great Fortitude but for Con locks.
Lasting Frost: A great feat on it’s own and even better with Wintertouched.
Lightning Reflexes: Your Reflex should be OK unless your build had to dump Int. In that case you should definitely consider this feat.
Point-Blank Shot: The fast majority of your attacks are ranged attacks, take this.
Psychic Lock: An awesome feat for Feylocks, but others probably don’t have enough psychic powers to make it worthwhile.
Secret Stride: You need to move 3 squares to activate Shadow Walk so take this if you picked up training in stealth. Unfortunately after the stealth nerf this has moved down to blue.
Shield Specialization: Even better than Armor Spec if you use shields but harder to qualify for.
Solid Sound: A nice, stacking bonus for a Hell lock but sadly you only have 2 powers that trigger it. However, you could get more thunder powers by multiclassing with Wizard.
Twofold Curse: A great feat, but not mandatory thanks to Rod of Corruption.
Twofold Pact(Dragon 366): An extra pact boon and an extra at-will?! This is just too good to pass up. Not only does this let you pick up any pact-appropriate feats but you also get the pact bonus from that pact's encounter powers. Note that since you pick your Paragon Path before your level 11 feat you can't take another pact's Path though. Take this.
War Wizardry(FRPG): Reduces your chance to hit allies and how much damage you do to allies with area effects. This isn't necessary for every Warlock, but for Darklocks it's almost mandatory. Remember all those Dark powers that let you hurt your allies to do more damage to your enemies? Well suddenly the deal just got a lot sweeter as you're now doing half the damage to your friends and the full amount to the target.
Racial Paragon Feats:
Empowered Dragon Breath: I generally think of Dragon Breath as a minion clearing ability, but when that’s not the case this is certainly helpful.
Dwarven Durability: A great feat, every dwarf should have this.
Feywild Protection: Hopefully you used Fey Step to get out of trouble so you probably won’t be attacked this turn. However, it stacks with anything so if you’re teleporting in for a close attack this could come in handy.
Running Shot: Gives you a little more maneuverability but it's risky considering you still grant CA to your enemies. Just not worth a feat.
Underfoot: This is more suited to a melee character, a non-gish should probably pass.
Action Recovery: Another amazing action point related feat, take this.
Bael Turath Born(Dragon 366): At 11th level this increases your resistance from 10 to 19, at 30th it goes from 20 to 38. Who wouldn't take this?
Fiery Rebuke: All of a sudden your racial is actually good, take this. Also I assume this adds the fire keyword to your attack so you can benefit from Hellfire Blood as well.
Flickering Shroud(Dragon 367): Except in very dire circumstances I can't imagine giving up your main source of ranged CA for this.
Highborn Drow(Dr 367): If only this interacted with Master of Fire and Darkness to give you 3 separate racial powers it'd be amazing. As it is I could see using Web of Shadows over Cloud of Darkness in many situations.
Master of Fire and Darkness(FRPG): Every Drow should have this feat.
Merciless Killer(FRPG): This is Sky Blue for melee because they have an easier time getting CA. Still thanks to your racials you have plenty of tricks to help trigger this awesome damage bonus.
Shadowborn(Dr 367): Bleh, the damage bonus won't stack with other feats and unless everyone in your party has low-light or darkvision you probably won't get the initiative bonus very often either. However, it does stack with Improved Initiative.
Venomous Heritage(FRPG): Lots of monsters have poison effects, this is pretty nice.
Shocking Flame(FRPG): Easy extra damage if you usually manifest firesoul or stormsoul. Sadly it's only melee damage but if you're playing a Genasi Warlock you're probably a gish.
Stoneguard(FRPG): This would be better for non-gish but it's still a great AC bonus that stacks with everything.
Stormrider(FRPG): This is just fleet-footed with a little extra bonus. Hovering is especially nice for a melee character.
Blind-Fight: If you're a gish you don't need anything hurting your chance to hit. Other Warlocks won't be getting adjacent to their opponents enough to make this worthwhile.
Bludgeon Mastery: A hammer really is the best choice for a gish, you just can't afford the Dex to get Heavy (or Light for that matter) Blade Mastery. Once again this obviously won't help a non-gish.
Epic Resurgence: A handy feat, unfortunately it's not easy to increase your crit range. However if you do have a way (like Student of Caiphon) this is probably Sky Blue.
Font of Radiance: Amazing for Students of Caiphon, others need not apply.
Irresistible Flame: A lot of Hell lock powers are fire effects, including your level 29 daily. A Hell lock should take this immediately, others probably don’t need it.
Student of the Athanaeum(Dragon366): This is almost like having an extra daily...as a feat. I don't think anymore needs to be said.
Unfettered Stride: Requires training in a skill you probably don’t have, but it’s such a great maneuverability enhancer that I thought it worth mentioning anyways.
Racial Epic Feats:
Double Manifestation(FRPG): Gives you an extra racial power and the benefits to go with it, what more needs to be said.
Without multiclassing your Paragon Path is decided by your pact so these will not be rated against each other. Instead they’ll be rated for their usefulness to each pact.
A very solid path choice. Feytouched Action may not be unique but it’s one of my favorite “action point features”. Slashing Wake adds some much needed offense to the Feylock’s arsenal. Even if you don’t have a high Int it can still be useful for minion clearing. Unfortunately Patron’s Favor isn’t very exciting except for the increased curse damage result. On the other hand both Will of the Feywild and Whispers of the Fey are excellent.
I love the flavor of this path but ultimately it’s a little disappointing. Infernal Action looks good until you see that the Blood Mage’s version blows it out of the water. The life sparks are an interesting concept (and actually provide a benefit for you if you kill multiple cursed enemies a round unlike your pact boon) but not getting to choose which buff you get is a major let down. Sustain Life Spark is nifty but only helps you after the combat while every one else enjoys some in-combat benefit. Soul Scorch offers some pretty impressive damage, especially if you have an appropriate spark to fuel it, but isn’t overly exciting to me. The other powers are sadly unimpressive. The only thing that saves Life Spark Summons from being completely worthless is that it only takes a minor action. Still with 10 hit points it’s unlikely to even last until next round to do one pathetic basic attack. Actually, soaking up one or maybe two hits might be the best use for it! Soultheft may affect up to 3 targets but it has the misfortune of targeting Fortitude and being short range. On top of that the damage is less than impressive for a daily. Doomsayer:
Doomsayer’s Proclamation can be a very powerful effect but there are normally only 2 Warlock powers that inflict a save ends effect with the fear descriptor (Dread Star and Hurl through Hell, both dailies). Unless you have access to the powers from Dragon 366, which has tons of this power type. If you can use Dragon 366 then upgrade Doomsayer to a Blue rating. Doomsayer’s Oath is a nice to-hit bonus but obviously you want to avoid getting bloodied. Doomsayer’s Action is a very useful tool in the hands of a skilled multi-curser. With a Rod of Corruption you could easily wipe out most of the minions in one or two turns! In addition both Accursed Shroud and Long Fall into Darkness are strong powers (in fact the way I read it Accursed Shroud is broken, but any DM with half a brain will only let it force one reroll per attack). Fates Entwined is just alright, it's more of a deterrent than a source of extra damage. Dragon 366 gave a significant boost to this path, but I prefer Student of Caiphon.
Student of Caiphon(Dragon 366):
Finally another good Warlock path, though it's certainly better for Cha-based Starlocks. At first Star Bright disappointed me just like Infernal Action, but note that it adds the radiant keyword to the power you use with the action point! Not only does this let you avoid resistances, it also let's you take advantage of the other ability you get at 11th level. Caiphon's Guidance is absolutely amazing, no one else but Daggermasters can expand their crit range this wide. With all the new powers Cha-locks should have no problem getting enough fear and/or radiant powers. The leader-like Caiphon's Intercession is also quite strong, as long as you have someone with a good melee basic attack in the party. The damage thing is weird, but as long as your allies are cool with it, it shouldn't be a problem. As far as powers go, Trust in the Guide Star is pretty decent, but Steps on the Purple Stair seems way too punishing for what it gives you. However, Caiphon's Hungry Mercy is one of the best path powers I've seen. For the low low cost of a minor action and some healing surges your entire party can recover an encounter power or maybe a daily! Overall Student of Caiphon is an excellent choice, especially since you don't have to multiclass for it. Darkwalker(FRPG):
This one is also disappointing. The chance to add your Int bonus to damage with Deadly Absence is nice, but without Spellplague multiclassing (which will probably only be available in FR campaigns) or certain magic items (which are expensive and take up slots) you won’t get to use it all that often. Darkwalker Action is flat out terrible. Sure insubstantial is a nice defensive boost and it triggers Deadly Absence, but that in no way makes up for the fact that you just sacrificed an extra action. Finally Ghostken is too situational for my tastes. I just don’t think you’ll be facing enough insubstantial opponents. The Darkwalker does get a decent selection of powers though. While Ghostly Bane is really only good as a trigger for Deadly Absence the other two powers make up for it, particularly the awesome Wraithform Blast. Evermeet Warlock(FRPG):
Once again we have another Cha-lock path, though this is the first non pact-specific lock path. However, the fact that it’s focused on teleports obviously means Feylocks are the primary candidates. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out why they’d ever pick it over Feytouched. I doubt non-Feylocks will have enough teleports to really benefit from this path. Maybe I just have too high a standard for paragon paths but this one doesn’t excite me either. First off Feywild Wake seems slightly redundant if you have Eyebite and I’d much rather have Slashing Wake. Mercurial Action is very good though, more maneuverability is always a plus. Mastery of Passage is really the only thing Evemeet Warlock has over Feytouched, allowing you to aid your allies’ maneuverability. The powers are the main problem with this path. Blinding Beacon is just terrible compared to Will of the Feywild. Feylights is good, but only in certain situations. Moonflower Inspiration adds a little leader to your repertoire but considering Feylocks are already low on the damage totem pole a damaging option would have been nice. Once again compare it with the Feytouched power, Whispers of the Fey, and you’ll see why you don’t want this path.
It doesn’t specifically state that the Wizard multiclass feat qualifies you for this Destiny but I figured I’d include it just in case. While all of the destiny features are useful to a Warlock, Archspell is what makes this worth taking. Use Archspell on your level 29 daily and you are free to open up a can of whoop ass every encounter without worrying about saving it for a boss. Spell Recall is similar and has the added benefit of being changeable each day. Arcane Spirit is nice but hopefully you aren’t dying very often to begin with (though since there is no real penalty for your first death each encounter you could be a kamikaze if that interests you). However I’m not a big fan of Shape Magic. While I suppose it’ll be nice if you really need an expended power again you’d better absolutely positively need that power to justify burning a standard action in combat. You’re much better off using it out of combat to regain a spent daily power.
Only Charisma locks are going to qualify for this, the stat requirement is just too steep for Con locks. Sly Fortune’s Favor is good for the same reason as Elven Accuracy, but it’s even more versatile. Still, unless you really need to make that saving throw you should probably reserve this for daily power attack rolls. Keep in mind though that it’s 3 uses per day, not encounter, which is either better or worse than EA depending on how many encounters your group usually has. Trickster’s Disposition is a handy ace to have up your sleeve but is sadly only usable once per day. While Trickster’s Control’s 15% chance to reuse every power you have once per day could be awesome it could also be absolutely worthless. I guess I just don’t like how completely random it is. On the other hand Epic Trick is absolutely amazing.
Quite possibly the best Destiny for every single class, Warlocks included. For most locks Divine Spark is a permanent plus one to attacks, damage, AC, Fort or Will, and whatever random secondary effect Int does for a power! Unfortunately, Divine Recovery is no where near as good as Arcane Spirit, but it’s still useful. Divine Miracle is nothing short of miraculous though. It’s basically like saying you never need to use an At-Will ever again! Divine Regeneration is also great, especially when paired with Doom of Delban. Eternal Seeker:
The red-headed step-child of Epic Destinies, Eternal Seeker is for the player who really likes multiclassing. The only time I’d consider taking this is with a gish to pick up more melee powers. I do have to admit though, Eternal Action is nice.
Radiant One(Dragon 366):
Not unsurprisingly this destiny isn't as good as Demigod, but it's still strong and fits right in with the Starlock them. However, I don't quite understand this "radiant fire" damage. Is it supposed to be a new damage type, just a power with both the fire and radiant keyword, or both simultaneously? Depending on the answer this makes the resistance from Starborn either completely worthless or really good. However, the extra damage from Starborn is a decent boost if you've kept your Int up. Starburst might not be as defensive as some other destinies powers but it has the potential to dish out a ton of damage. Starry Rift is limited to only once per day but it's like an action point, only better. Finally Star Flesh is an amazing defensive power, especially if you kept your Int up. I'd say this destiny does a pretty good job of furthering your role as a striker.
Reborn Champion(Dragon 365):
I like this Destiny, just not for a Warlock. While Deeds of Song and Story will make skill challenges a breeze and Legends Never Die is arguably better than the Demigod’s Divine Recovery you just don’t have the crit range to make Legendary Action worthwhile. Stance of Legends is great as well, but save this Destiny for the Daggerasters.
This is just Demigod with a different Utility power and slightly different flavor. Unless you want to be some god's minion then Demigod is likely better, but two of the alternate Utility powers are worth special mention. These trade some survivability for extra damage, furthering your role as a Striker. For Cha-locks Renewing Dawn can deal a ton of extra damage, especially in a party with lots of healing. Sune's Censure can also be pretty brutal, especially if you or an ally has a way to bestow temporary vulnerabilities. If you and an ally share a common damage type it gets even better.
Wizard is an obvious choice for multiclassing with a Warlock because it uses a relevant stat, attacks at range, and generally gives you more area effects. Of course if your build dumped Int then you should probably look elsewhere.
Offers some solid power choices, regardless of your pact choice, but the features are a little lackluster. First off, Arcane Riposte will be almost entirely useless to you because you don’t have a good Dex. It seems to me that in a moderate to hard encounter just about everyone will end up bloodied so Battle Edge will at least come in to play, but a free at-will once per encounter just doesn’t excite me that much. On the other hand Battle Mage Action might be generic but it’s actually quite good. Forceful Retort might be dangerous for a non-Feylock to use offensively but it’s a great defensive power if you’ve gotten in over your head and need to retreat. Arcane Rejuvenation is another solid defensive power, especially for the squishier Cha-based locks. Closing Spell can be devastating if used last, but the limitation on when you can use it is irksome.
Probably the best choice for Hell locks (and maybe Con based Starlocks too, but Cha locks should look elsewhere). Not only does the flavor blend wonderfully with Warlocks but so do the powers and features! The Blood Mage offers so many ways to increase your damage that I wonder why it’s a Controller path instead of a Striker path. Blood Action can dish out some nasty damage when combined with an AoE to inflict it upon as many enemies as possible. Likewise Bolstering Blood pairs wonderfully with AoE attacks and can even trigger the extra damage from Hellish Rebuke. Unlike a Wizard you actually have hit points to spare, especially with all those temporary HPs floating around! Unfortunately it can only be used on Wizard or Blood Mage powers by RAW, so consider trading out some powers with the multiclass feats. Normally taking a Second Wind is not the best tactical decision and should only be done out of desperation but Burning Blood turns it into a viable attack power (or absolutely incredible if you’re playing a Dwarf)! Best of all however is Blood Pulse. Combine it with any of the numerous forced movement powers you have to deal tons of damage, and don’t forget your friends can join in on the fun as well! Soul Burn is arguably better than the Archmage’s Shape Magic considering it only requires a minor action and you have plenty of surges to spare (however it can only be used on encounter powers, not dailies, Blood Pulse would be a strong choice). Finally Destructive Salutation offers selective AoE that target’s Will, does great damage, and stuns. There’s just nothing not to like about Blood Mage.
You just don’t have the Wisdom to really make best use of this path; however both Storm Cage and Maelstrom of Chaos are excellent powers.
Wizard of the Spiral Tower:
Simply put there are just better paths for a Warlock Gish. Without house rules you can’t benefit from Corellon’s Implement (though a Pact Blade is almost as good) because you don’t have the implement mastery class feature. I’m also not a big fan of those action features that blow your action point to regain an encounter power (instead of taking an extra action and some other benefit) but Spiral Tower Action is even worse than usual since it only works on Wizard powers.
Yes I know what you’re thinking, “Cleric? But Wisdom is one of our dump stats!”. However, Divine Oracle makes Cleric worth mentioning all on its own.
Actually not that bad of choice for Charisma locks thanks to Astral Vibrance, but there’s better options out there. You’d be unlikely to hit with Astral Wave but considering it’s a huge area that attacks Will you might find it useful for minion clearing. Angelic Presence is a handy defensive power and Angel Ascendant is OK just for the fly speed, even though you’ll never hit with it.
This class is so good it’s ridiculous, no party should be without one (though it doesn’t necessarily need to be you). First off Foresight means you and anyone close to you will never be surprised. Ever. If that wasn’t enough you also get to roll twice for initiative and take the better result. Depending on your DM you might be able to combine this with Danger Sense for three initiative rolls. You also get Prophetic Action which gives you an extra move action when you spend an action point. While that might not seem so amazing don’t forget how important maneuverability is in 4E. The last feature, Terrifying Insight, let’s you roll twice to hit with Will attacks. While the penalty for missing is a little stiff it’s more than worth it for the increased chance to hit with your daily powers. The powers are equally good. Prophecy of Doom let’s you turn an attack into an automatic critical which works especially well if you have a Rogue, a Reborn Champion, or someone else who benefits greatly from a crit. Good Omens provides a huge boost to the party’s attack rolls, and can even be used for two rounds if your party holds their actions till after you activate the power (they’ll be moved to right before you in the initiative order). Finally you have Hammer of Fate which has spectacular range and good damage…unfortunately you’ll have a hard time hitting with it. Still thanks to its bizarre “rewind on a miss” property there’s little reason not to try. Depending on your DM you might even be able to use Terrifying Insight on Hammer with impunity. Overall it’s not my favorite Warlock path (it’s more of a leader path) but Terrifying Insight makes it more than worthwhile for the Will attack focused Warlock, and your party will love you.
The obvious gish choice. You’ll need to have some Strength in order to hit with the Fighter powers, probably at the expense of Int.
As Nifft first pointed out this is a spectacular choice for a Con-based gish build. Enduring Warrior fits perfectly with the Hell lock’s style and Ferocious Rebuke gives you the chance to drop an enemy and remain conscious. The real beauty though is Trample the Fallen. Suddenly all of your lock powers that push deal twice your Con mod in damage! Frontline Surge is not amazing but still useful. Inexorable Shift and Indomitable Strength are both excellent though. For a detailed look at a Hell lock/Iron Vanguard build check out Nifft’s excellent thread the Hexhammer Gish.
Actually not a bad choice for the more martial minded gish since Kensei Focus will increase your melee accuracy while Kensei Mastery will up your damage. However Masterstroke and Ultimate Parry don’t excite me very much. Fortunately Weaponsoul Dance is very nice.
A good path but you’d be stretching yourself too thin to get a good Wisdom score. Pass.
Another possible gish choice. However Paladin has the advantage of offering Charisma based attacks allowing Charisma locks to have melee attacks without any Strength at all. In addition you can multiclass with Paladin and avoid weapon based attacks all together.
Despite the potential for brokenness with Pray for More, Demigod, and a vorpal weapon I’m not a big fan of this path (no sane DM is actually gonna let you use the Astral Demigod trick anyways). Astral Judgment is quite good, making your divine challenge even nastier. Unfortunately Astral Rejuvenation Action only works on Paladin powers, making it much less useful to you, and Courage from on High is just…weak. I realize saving throw bonuses are rare but a +2 to just fear effects? Yuck. Carving a Path of Light is OK but those that really need CA won’t need you to do it for them. Astral Whirlwind’s debuff is pretty solid though.
Champion of Order:
A pretty strong choice for a Defender-heavy gish build. Champion’s Action requires you to be adjacent to the targets and is only a small increase in your chance to hit but also lets all of your allies benefit from it as well. In Defense of Order makes your divine challenge even nastier and really shines against demons and elementals. Champion’s Hammer is only situationally useful but is actually better for a Warlock than a Paladin. The powers are quite strong, especially Certain Justice since it can’t be saved against! None Shall Pass is useful to you as you can normally only challenge one target per encounter though you may find it hard to keep both marked if you’re low on AoE. Rule of Order might be the weakest power of the bunch but at least it gives you another way to weaken your opponents.
You don’t have the Wisdom or Lay on Hands ability to use this path.
This Charisma based path has no weapon based powers so you can drop the whole gish aspect if you choose. All of your path features are quite strong but require you to be adjacent to either your opponents or your allies to be effective; making Feylocks the idea choice for this path. Just Radiance can be a powerful defensive tool but requires some set up to mark multiple enemies. The excellent Challenge the Unjust accomplishes this nicely but is limited in that it’s a daily. Despite the fact that Strand of Fate is amazing you might want to consider switching it for Hand of the Gods to help you set up Challenge. Also, Strike Me Instead is pure win against AoE attacks.
Not a very optimal choice, unless you completely dump Int, as it requires you to pump Dex. Still, some people like the stealth synergy with Master Infiltrator and it does provide for a different style of gish.
According to Ask Wizards and the FAQ using a weapon as an implement allows you to gain the benefit of Weapon Focus on implement powers. Since the Daggermaster abilities have similar wording it would seem they also work with implement powers if you use a dagger Pactblade (thanks to Ekko for pointing this out). Thus, Dagger Precision pretty much makes Daggermaster the path of choice for a Rogue/Warlock.
Some people really like all the ways to gain invisibility that Master Infiltrator has to offer, but Shadow Walk (and Eyebite if you’re a Feylock) makes it a bit redundant in my opinion. As far as features go, Infiltrator’s Action offers some useful extra mobility and Skillful Infiltrator gives a nice boost to some handy skills. Invisible Infiltrator is the meat of this path and I have to admit it is pretty sweet. Unfortunately the powers are fairly weak except for Impossible to Catch.
Shadow Assassin’s Action and Riposte make this an intriguing choice but unfortunately Bloody Evisceration won’t help you much (you can only Sneak Attack once per encounter). However, there’s a reason this is one of the most popular Rogue paths. All the powers are pretty good. If you are going to play a Warlock/Rogue I think this is the best path.
A viable option for gish builds that want a Leader slant. Warlord works best with Charisma locks since you can focus on Strength and Charisma and only lose out on some of your Warlock powers (since Int is your tertiary stat). A Con lock could still benefit but both your Warlock and Warlord powers will suffer.
One of the best paths for Tactical Warlords but unfortunately you don’t have Tactical Presence and can only use Inspiring Word once per day. On the other hand it doesn’t require much Intelligence and the powers are handy.
Possibly the best option for Con lock Warlords. Combat Veteran’s Action emphasizes the Leader aspect while Tough as Nails makes you as tough as a dwarf (or just ridiculously tough if you’re a dwarf). Battle Healer suffers from the fact that it’s only useable once per day and Miss Me Once isn’t very exciting. However, Skirmish Ploy and Superior Tactics more than make up for them.
The Charisma locks choice, Knight Commander also offers some Defender to go along with your Leader. Honor and Glory’s bonus to hit for your allies is just silly good. Knight Commander’s Action offers a decent boost to your party’s defenses but is probably the least impressive aspect (which is a testament to Knight Commander’s awesomeness). Press of Arms makes your OAs really nasty and works wonderfully with a Fighter or a Polearm Gambler in the party. Control the Field furthers your Defender aspect but the real beauty is that it basically spells certain doom to any minions within 5 squares of you.
Just…no. It’s terrible for Warlords and it’s no better for you.
A particularly interesting option for gish since it’s primary ability is Intelligence. With the Intelligent Blademaster feat you could play a gish without Strength and sacrifice very little as a Warlock. As a gish you’ll really appreciate the AC buff from Warding, but sadly it’s only usable once per day. Unfortunately the Swordmage paths don’t lend themselves particularly well to multiclassers. You could still make a good gish with just the aforementioned feat and a few power swaps though. Also, the Swordmage multiclass feat doesn’t give you the ability to use an implement like all the other feats do, so avoid implement based powers if you swap (unless your DM grants you the use of implements, it’s worth asking for).
Anarch of Shyr:
You don’t have aegis of assault so you can’t even take this.
Unfortunately you don’t have an aegis power to benefit from Improved Silver Shield. Likewise, the otherwise great Countering Thunderclap is implement-based so you’ll have trouble hitting with it. The rest of this path is quite good though.
This is a strange path. I doubt many actual Swordmages would take it, but Shadow Shroud actually makes it tempting to you (because all you have to do is move to gain concealment). Unfortunately Shadow Action and Concealing Umbra pretty much suck and you don’t have an aegis power to gain the full advantage of Shadow Defense (though the Necrotic resistance is still very nice by itself). Assassin Shadow relies on Strength, which doesn’t jive so well with the no Str gish concept. Shadowed Psyche on the other hand, is decent, especially against an elite or solo.
It’s hard for full-fledged Swordmages to get the Wisdom necessary to take full advantage of this class, you certainly can’t. Four Corners Attack and Heritage of Blades are very nice, but pass on this one.
Disclaimer: I don’t really like items that only have a Daily power and no static bonus, so you won’t see a lot of them unless the Daily power is particularly good.
Implements and Multiclassing: Remember that multiclassing with another implement using class will sometimes dictate what type of implement should be your primary. For example if you multiclass with Wizard you should probably use a wand as your main implement as it can be used for both your Warlock and Wizard powers. Otherwise you'll have to keep up with two different implements (which costs money and takes actions to switch between) or risk having a much lower to-hit bonus with some of your powers.
Set Damage Type Criticals: My understanding of weapons and implements that have a set damage type on a critical (like the Rod of the Pyre which does fire damage with its critical dice) is that they don't add the appropriate keyword to a power or "mix" with any existing damage types the power already has. Thus if a target has resistance to your critical damage he will always get that resistance when you crit, regardless of which power you used to crit. Obviously this makes set damage type critical properties undesirable. However, if I'm wrong and they do mix then it would actually be beneficial to have a set damage type critical.
Weapons: Pact Blade: Obviously this is a good option for gishes, but other locks can still use them if they want a melee weapon. The property is also interesting. It’s a minor deterrent against attacks and a decent way of killing minions, though less effective at it than a Rod of Reaving. It’s not clear whether this effect is an interrupt or a reaction, but if it’s the former than you could potentially kill the target before it even does damage to you! However, unless you really want a melee weapon you’re better off with a Rod of Reaving either way.
Pact Hammer(AV): Well the nerf bat hit this hard. I'll agree that it was probably overpowered but completely removing the property (and not replacing it with anything) seems a little harsh to me. However it's still a viable option for dwarves because it works with Dwarven Weapon Training, Hammer Rhythm, and Craghammers.
Pact Sword(AV): Sadly this one isn't very exciting. However, for an Eladrin gish this allows you to take advantage of your free longsword proficiency and the power is pretty decent once you get a good enhancement bonus on it.
Pact Bow(Dr 369): Only elves can use this, and you don't want to be an elf lock. If for some reason you are an elf lock then a to-hit bonus and extra range is very nice, but it's a daily power so I don't know that it's really worth using over another pact weapon.
I’m not going to go into other types of weapons in this guide. If you’re a gish wielding something other than a Pact Weapon please reference a guide for your other class.
Adamantine Rod(AV): There's currently not enough creatures with Radiant resistance to justify making this your implement. The high critical dice are nice but they're set as Radiant damage.
Bloodcurse Rod(AV): More pact boon triggers are always nice but they're not worth making this your primary implement. Unfortunately you have to bloody the target with this rod to get the trigger so you can't even hold in your off-hand for the property.
Bloodiron Rod(AV): Another rod with a so-so daily and no properties? No thanks.
Feyrod, Hellrod, and Star Rod(AV): These are interesting in that they allow you to use another pact's power as though you had that pact. Unfortunately it's a daily, and the only pact with pact bonus dailies, the Dark pact, has no rod yet. Still if you really don't like your pact's encounter power(s) at a particular level and decide to pick up another pact's power you could use this rod for a once a day boost, just don't make this your primary rod.
Lifesapper Rod(AV): A pretty cool power but it's a daily, and if the target makes the saving throw early on it did almost nothing. Basically this rod suffers from the same problem as Contagion, without some way to penalize the target's save it's too much of a gamble. Also, the average critical damage doesn't reward you for making htis your primary rod.
Mercurial Rod(AV): No bonus crit damage at all and a daily for a mere 2d6 extra damage that also ends your curse? This is just awful. The only possible benefit of this rod would be using it to end your curse so that you can recurse the target to retrigger Rod of Feythorns or a similar rod (normally you can't recurse a target once it's been cursed in the same encounter).
Quickcurse Rod(AV): There's no incentive to make this your primary implement but it's cheap and has a handy Encounter Power. I'm not sure if this allows you to curse more than once a turn and the fact that it's a free action might be canceled out if you have to swap implements. However the real perk is that it allows you to curse any target in sight, not just the closest one.
Rod of Baleful Geas(Dragon 365): The power is pretty nice (free action, slide them, and deal some damage), but it’s a daily and there’s no reason to make this your primary rod. As such you don’t have room for it unless you want to juggle implements (which isn’t all that bad really, just irksome).
Rod of Blasting(AV): This basically gives you the Eldritch Rain power as an item daily. Unfortunately you have to use this rod in the attack (so no holding a +1 Rod of Blasting in your off-hand and using the power with your primary rod).
Rod of Brutality(AV): Most of the time you're going to be hitting cursed targets anyways so the extra critical damage is nice. The property gives you an average of .5/1/1.5 extra damage per die of extra curse damage making this a pretty handy rod.
Rod of Corruption: Umm…wow, it’s just absolutely amazing. Every lock should have one of these as soon as they can scrape 680gp together! Just curse a minion, kill it, and suddenly everyone close is also cursed. This almost makes Twofold Curse unnecessary, but I’d still pick it up. If your off-hand is free to hold a rod you’ll only need a +1 of these and can use another rod as your primary implement (remember you can hold a rod with a light shield, allowing you to gain the benefit of any properties but not attack with it.)
Rod of Deadly Casting(Dr 365): The d10 crit damage and the off-chance to do silly amounts of damage are pretty nice. The potential for an infinite loop here could do some nasty things but let's not go into that.
Rod of Death’s Grasp: An interesting rod that causes ongoing damage on a crit instead of the normal bonus damage. The temporary HPs won’t stack with a Hell lock’s pact boon but they’re very nice for other locks. However, the daily power is nice for all locks to use on a solo since you won’t be getting pact boons in those encounters.
Rod of the Dragon’s Heart(Dragon 365): Too situational and waaaay too expensive
Rod of Harvest: An interesting item that lets you hold a pact boon for later, but unless you’re a Warforged (or some other race with the ability to use lots of rods) you just don’t have enough hands for this one. Still if you have extra money you could keep a “loaded” one on you in case of emergencies.
Rod of Reaving: Combined with a Rod of Corruption this equals easy minion clearing. Don’t be surprised if your DM starts spreading minions out more than 5 squares from each other though :P The property might not be that useful against non-minions but the fact that it adds d8s on a crit instead of d6s makes this a viable choice for your primary rod slot. Alternately you could just switch out rods after killing all the minions.
Rod of the Pyre: A set damage type, only average crit damage, and fairly crappy daily power. Compared to other rods like the Rod of Feythorns this one just doesn't even come close.
Barkskin Armor: If you sprung for Hide or Scale armor than this is a pretty solid choice.
Black Iron Armor: A very nice source of resistances if you have access to heavier armor. Darkleaf Armor: Not that great really but there's not a whole lot of choices for leather wearers. Deathcut Armor: Yay resistances, and the power’s not bad either. Unfortunately the resists don’t scale. This blue because it actually comes in leather.
Delver's Armor: Eh...I don't like that it's a daily, but the power is pretty handy.
Dragonclaw Armor(Dragon 365): Unless you have a teleport handy getting grabbed will really suck for you, so this isn’t a bad choice (for non-feylocks) if your DM likes lots of grabby things.
Dwarven Armor: Considering Endurance helps you resist disease this could be pretty useful, not to mention the healing ability (for a free action!). However, it’s only for heavy armor.
Eladrin Armor: Good but sadly it’s only for chain.
Elven Battle Armor: Maneuverability is pretty important in 4E, though less so for ranged characters. Flamedrinker Armor: You know how much I like resist armor, but in this case I’d much rather have Black Iron Armor (hey if your buddy doesn’t have fire resistance that’s his own fault :P).
Rimewrought Armor(Dragon 365): Cold resist armor! Unfortunately it only comes in plate.
Shadowflow Armor: Stealth isn’t as important after the nerf but it’s still useful and the higher level version can give you the total concealment you need to get hidden (and then maintain it with shadow walk).
Sunleaf Armor: Radiant damage just isn’t common enough to require resistance to it yet, plus the power is fairly crappy (the idea is not to provoke OAs in the first place!). However, the resistance does scale with level unlike Deathcut Armor, so this might become better if some radiant damage monsters get released. Sylvan Armor: Better than Shadowflow Armor until level 23 (you don’t need Shadowflow’s concealment, just the invisibility).
Tombforged Armor: I like this armor, especially for Hell locks who probably have more healing surges than anyone in the party, but the fact that it’s only for chain makes me cry. Trollskin Armor: Only useful once a day, but pretty freakin useful in that encounter. Keep in mind it’s only for Hide and Scale though.
Arms: Bracers of the Perfect Shot: A nice static bonus to your Eldritch Blast damage.
Shield of Deflection: Unless you’re a gish you’re likely to face a lot of ranged attacks, unfortunately you might not be able to use shields unless you’re a gish.
Battlestrider Greaves: You’re gonna see a lot of the bonus speed items because they’re really good. Use this one if you wear heavy armor.
Boots of the Infinite Stride: Extra speed and daily teleport is great, but the price is really steep. However, I have to ask, does anyone need to teleport a mile (unless you’re running away, but don’t forget you need los and loe)? Boots of Striding: Really cheap, and really good. Don’t think I need to emphasize how great extra movement is anymore. Boots of Striding and Springing: If you’ve got extra money burning a whole in your pocket then the extra bonus to jump checks might come in handy. Not at all a very high priority though.
Dwarven Greaves: Pretty cheap, and a fairly useful power, but like I said I’m not a big fan of this kind of item.
Eladrin Boots: Pretty nice boost to your teleports, especially for Feylocks, and an extra daily teleport. These are hard to pass up but for non-Feylocks I think I prefer the static speed bonus from Boots of Striding.
Winged Boots: No falling damage could save your life but it’s obviously pretty situational. A move action fly once per day doesn’t excite me very much. I’d only wear these if I knew I was going to be in danger of falling.
Hands: Burglar’s/Rogue’s/Guildmaster’s Gloves: If you’re the party’s designated trap man these gloves are a must have, otherwise I’d pass on them. Gauntlets of the Ram: More control is always good, and it’s pretty cheap too. Particularly good for Blood Mages.
Gloves of Piercing: Remember how I don’t like items with a daily power and no static bonuses? Well this power is so awesome it doesn’t matter. This could make or break an encounter if you stacked up too many powers of one type and run into a pack of resistant enemies. However, it doesn’t actually lower their resistance, just ignores anything 10 or lower, so you’ll need to replace them at higher levels when enemies have resistances higher than 10.
Shadowfell Gloves: The extra damage isn’t very exciting for a Daily, but the important thing is it converts the damage to necrotic. If you know your target isn’t resistant to necrotic this is a great way to avoid their other resistances. Gloves of Piercing are way better at low levels but these are decent replacement later on.
Circlet of Authority/Crown of Command: If you’re the face these could be invaluable.
Diadem of Acuity: Another useful skill boosting item, especially if no one else is good at finding traps or discerning lies.
Goggles of Night: For obvious reasons Darkvision is very nice to have, especially if you want to sneak around Helm of Battle: Initiative bonuses are not that easy to come by, but make someone else wear one :P Helm of the Eagle/Phoenix Helm: A nice perception boost and the daily can help you hit with a daily attack.
Helm of Ghostly Defense: A little pricey but Necrotic resistance and an awesome defensive power make this a nice choice.
Helm of the Wolf(Dragon 364): Arguably better than True Sight and much cheaper! This helm's power only works for one opponent but the effect is better and it doesn't require maintaining. I think this one is my favorite.
Ioun Stone of True Sight: Ridiculously expensive, but ridiculously awesome. I don’t really think this needs any explaining.
Iron of Spite: Good skill boosts and a decent deterrent against enemy attacks, but I’m not sure I’d shell out the cash for it.
Amulet of Health: So far this seems to be one of the few sources of Poison resistance.
Amulet of Scales(Dragon 365): It's a daily, but it's variable resistance for the rest of the encounter.
Cloak of Invisibility: It's a daily but it's pretty good. A nice source of ranged CA and a great defensive boost.
Cloak of Survival: A great way to get Cold and Fire resistance if you don't already have it. The Endurance boost will also help against disease.
Elven Cloak: Stealth isn't the end all be all for warlocks like it used to be but it's still nice. With a low Dex you can use all the stealth pluses you can get.
Periapt of Cascading Health(Dr 369): Very nice for getting out of that one particular effect that's really crippling you.
Stormwalker's Cloak: They may not be the most common damage types but you get two resistances on one item and a pretty nice daily power.
Ring of Draconic Zeal(Dragon 365): Once per day you can make a basic attack as a free action, not great, but not bad.
Ring of Flight: Bleh, this is pretty terrible compared to the Winged Boots. Ring of Freedom of Movement: The ability to ignore difficult terrain is pretty handy, but you probably have enough ways to teleport and/or fly to make it unnecessary. Ring of Fury(Dragon 366): Once per day, when you’re bloodied you can make two basic attacks for free (am I sensing a trend here Dragon?). Kinda cool, but if it’s a melee attack that bloodied you Eldritch Blast runs the risk of OAs. Ring of Protection: Saving throw bonuses rock, and the power’s not bad either. Ring of True Seeing: Not bad but only if you don’t have a similar (better) item on your head. Ring of Regeneration: The healing surge value bonus is nice, but the power becomes awesome after you’ve reached a milestone. Ring of Wizardry: Pricey, but pretty cool, especially if you’ve reached a milestone. Star Opal Ring: A nice speed bonus if you don’t have speed boots and the teleport is excellent, even non-Cha characters have a chance of hitting with the attack. Waist:
Belt of Vigor: OK, but mostly because there aren’t a lot of options here. Ironskin Belt: Not a bad defensive boost if you find yourself surrounded.
Bag of Holding: Always useful, and pretty cheap in 4E. Dust of Appearance: Not a priority, but a very nice thing to have, just in case. Flying Carpet: Umm…yes please? Just fly around and blast people at your leisure. Handy Haversack: A pimped out Bag of Holding, it’s the same cost-to-benefit ratio, so mix and match them to taste. Keoghtom’s Ointment: You should probably make everyone carry one these eventually, just so you always have someone to revive the leader. Ritual Candle: OK I guess if you’re the party ritualist, but not that exciting.