Purpose There are quite a few handbooks written about clerics at this point, but most tend to favor WIS-based Devoted Clerics. This guide intends to fill the gap by giving a focused discussion on their (perhaps justly) maligned brethren, the strong and brawny Battle Cleric. It is arguable that Battle Clerics are inferior to Devoted Clerics at this time, but they still offer strong benefits and are thus worthy of serious consideration. They take a little bit of extra work to get up to snuff, which is the purpose of this guide. Besides, we can't let Paladins keep a monopoly on smiting heathens in the face with heavy objects, can we?
This is my first handbook and I welcome suggestions, input, and advice. The goal is to create a living document that will reflect the wisdom of the Char Op community at large.
Rating System: Red: One star -- Either completely eclipsed by another power or a just flat out bad choice. There aren't a lot of these, but the ones that exist are pretty notable. Purple: Two Stars-- Low on the power scale. Either situationally useful or not a bad power, but just a bad choice given other options. Black: Three Stars-- Solid. Not a bad choice, but there might be better ones. You are never digging yourself into a giant hole with a black power, but you'll probably have more effect with a better one (if one exists at this level) Blue:Four Stars-- A very nice power. The types of powers that you can point to saying "this is what makes a cleric awesome," these powers are never a bad choice. Sky Blue: When you use these powers, you shine. You dictate the flow of the battle, tipping the scales with these single powers, shouting "I AM CLERIC! HEAR ME ROAR!" Or something to that effect. (Rating System borrowed from the Cleric's Bible, ReaderOfPosts)
Why Play a Battle Cleric? Battle Clerics are excellent additions to a party in the following circumstances: - Your party is light on defenders, and needs another melee character to hold the front line. - You want to hit things in the face, your party needs a leader and you don't feel like playing chess (i.e., a warlord). - You are converting a character from a previous edition. - You have melee strikers in the party who do not have great basic attacks, with which Righteous Brand will be very helpful, much more so than a TacLord's Commander's Strike. - You have a TacLord in the party who wants someone to have strong basic melee attacks for use with Commander's Strike; while not as devastating as a great weapon fighter or brutal scoundrel rogue, a Battle Cleric is quite serviceable as the warlord's surrogate. Look at maul-wielding or polearm-totin' builds for this role. - You are starting above first level -- its a long, hard slog to get the feats needed to play on the front lines with the big boys, so skipping that slow start is quite nice!
The rest of the time, they are a decent choice, but a Devoted Cleric or other leader type might technically be a bit more optimal.
What is a Battle Cleric? The paladin and battle cleric are both hybrid characters. The paladin is a defender with a splash of leader. The battle cleric is a leader with a splash of defender; depending on weapon selection they can lean more offensive or defensive. A devoted cleric is a leader with a splash of controller.
With your battle cleric, do not expect to be as tough and hardy as a defender, or as sticky (although there are ways to work on that). Don't expect to be a surrogate for a controller. You will be on the front line (or close to it) and able to hold your own, but the primary purpose for your existence is healing and buffing. Don't forget that your job is to keep the party alive and make the other meleers the best they can be!
Chapter 2: Initial Choices Your most fundamental decisions need to be made up front. This is particularly true of Battle Clerics, who use weapons. Your initial decisions will guide many of your later feat selections and paragon path choices, so they are quite important.
Ability Score Discussion Your exact starting array will vary based on your race and sub-build choice.
STR: Most of your powers key off of STR to hit. Start with at least a 16, and if your race does not offer bonuses to hit (think Action Surge, Elvish Precision, etc) then consider a 17 or 18. You are the leader, thus you are handing out bonuses -- don't expect to get buffed to hit yourself.
CON: If you want to use axes or hammers, start with a 15. Otherwise, it isn't very important. HP and surges are handy, so make it as strong as you can, but you likely can't afford more than a 12.
DEX: If you want to use heavy blades, start with a 15. Otherwise, you can't afford to pump this.
INT: Dump away -- 8, here we come! The only thing you'll use this for is your Religion Skill -- don't worry, at level 2 you'll be able to understand the basic tenets of your faith, until then, just smack stuff really, really hard.
WIS: This ability score is used for two cleric class abilities, Healer's Lore and Turn Undead. Additionally, all of the cleric paragon paths rely on WIS to some degree or another. You can dump it, but in that case, plan on multiclassing out for PP, and you won't get much benefit out of your class abilities. I'd suggest at least a mildly positive score, and a 15 is better.
CHA: CHA can be helpful as there are several powers that are strictly better than anything else if you have the CHA to exploit them that are quite nice for a Battle Cleric, as they shore up your weaknesses vis a vis a Devoted Cleric (i.e., healing capabilities). Additionally, CHA will allow you to multiclass as a paladin. We'll have more discussion on the CHA vs. WIS issue in a moment.
Your first choice is, do you want to be a burly axe or hammer toting cleric, or will you aim for the steely precision of heavy blades? Your weapon choice will lock you into the CON or DEX path early on, so it is a critical decision. Your race will also play into this choice significantly. You can change many other things about your character, but your starting ability score array is the least flexible and in many ways the most critical, so take a few minutes to think about it now.
BURLY BATTLE CLERIC This cleric focuses on STR and CON, perhaps with a bit of WIS or CHA thrown in for good measure. They wield axes or hammers and are a bit more durable than other battle clerics in terms of HP. They often wear heavy armor and often favor two-handed weapons. They'll tend to do the most damage and have a few more HP, but they have weaker defenses. If you're playing at the early levels, Burly clerics may be at an advantage as the extra HP from a higher CON are quite significant at the lower heroic tier.
Hammer Wielders: Hammers are all about damage. Hammer Wielders can opt for the Maul (2H) or the Warhammer (1H). Hammer Rhythm in Paragon Tier is the real gold, here. If you wield hammers and start with the suggested 15 CON, you will need to drop several stat pumps into CON in order to qualify for hammer rhythm. It'd be nice to pick up Plate Proficiency and Shield Proficiency, but you'll find yourself running out of feats quickly, forcing a choice; you won't qualify for shield specialization anyways so many hammer wielders may prefer a maul and forgo the shield. The downside is that your REF defense will probably suck a lot due to all that focus on CON, and AC will be weaker without a shield. Most hammer wielders will want to multiclass out for a non-cleric PP due to their lack of WIS.
Axe Wielders: Axes do respectable damage and are less stat intensive. If you choose Axes, you're set for life with your 15 CON. This makes it easier to invest in your Reflex or Will defenses. An increased investment in WIS/CHA makes certain paragon paths more attractive, such as the cleric paths. You likely will still find shield specialization out of reach, but at least there are some polearm options that allow you to stay safer than with the hammers (i.e., the halberd).
Dwarves, Half-Elves, Dragonborn, and Humans make the best Burly battle clerics.
PRECISE BATTLE CLERIC This cleric focuses on STR and DEX, again with a WIS or CHA tertiary. They wield blades (maybe a spiked chain) and often wear light armor while using a shield. They will tend to have a superior reflex defense but do less damage. At higher levels they may edge out their Burly companions defensively, because a better Reflex defense is likely superior to a few extra HP.
Heavy Blade Wielders: If you start with 15 DEX, you are set for life with the heavy blade chain of feats. Long swords and Bastard Swords are precise, giving +3 to hit, and qualify you for Heavy Blade Opportunity at Paragon Tier, which is decent, although not as nice for you as it is for, say, a CHA-based paladin. Both weapons work nicely with a shield. The glaive is an option for those who want to forgo the shield and use a 2H reach weapon, but AC will suffer; even modest scale mail is likely out of reach without an investment in CON. A glaive is nice in paragon tier with Polearm Gambit and blade opportunity/hvy blade opportunity, but if your game is mostly occuring in the heroic tier, you're better off with a spiked chain or perhaps a halberd.
Scimitar Wielders: Scimitars are like Hammers for precise clerics. They do 1 point less damage than a warhammer but are high crit, which more than makes up for that, especially at higher levels. Additionally, scimitar wielders have high DEX which pumps their REF defense and allows full access to the benefits of shields. You will need to drop some stat pumps into DEX for Scimitar Dance, and you lack the +3 bonus to hit that most precise clerics enjoy, but they're still a solid choice. You'll probably want to multiclass out for your PP.
Light Blades: Light blades benefit from Nimble Blade, making them a good choice if your game is in the heroic tier. They lack a really potent paragon tier feat however, and clerics may have a tough time getting the 21 DEX required for mastery in epic tier without dropping a bunch of stat boosts here. They also lack the damage of heavy blades. You'll probably want to multiclass out for your PP.
Spiked Chain: The chain gives +3 to hit with reach, making it a sort of superior glaive, especially in the heroic tier. You'll be missing out of Blade Opportunity and Heavy Blade Opportunity, though, as well as Polearm Gamble. Sweeping Flail is not as good, in my opinion, unless you're fighting lots of humanoids with shields (in which case, knock yourself out).
Elves, Eladrin, Halflings, and Humans make the best Precise Battle Clerics.
MOST OFFENSIVELY FOCUSED Hammers (Maul) w/ Plate Axes (Halberds) w/Plate Spiked Chains Glaives Scimitars w/ Shields Heavy Blades w/ Shields Light Blades w/ Shields Hammers or Axes w/ Plate & Shields MOST DEFENSIVELY FOCUSED
To be wise or handsome? After you've chosen between CON & DEX, its time to choose between WIS & CHA. The default choice is to favor WIS, as you have some cleric class features that use WIS that you cannot get rid of and it generally is a stronger choice. I suggest that Axe, Heavy Blade, and Spiked Chain toting characters consider pumping WIS/CHA as a secondary stat in order to enhance their cleric powers rather than pumping CON/DEX.
Clerics wielding weapons with more stat-intensive feats will probably need to devote stat pumps to DEX or CON.
To make using CHA worthwhile, I'd suggest selecting powers that key off of CHA and multiclassing in Warlord, Warlock, or Paladin, while taking one of those class' paragon paths and/or swapping powers. If you're not planning on doing either or both, then stick with WIS. Honestly, most of the paladin PP are not worth it as you lack a reliable method of marking foes and the Warlord PP don't demand CHA. CHA might be worthwhile if you are the party "face" and need to emphasize social skills or if you plan on heavily multiclassing into Paladin, swapping out several powers.
"Here's the list of cleric powers that are affected by CHA:"Show
Divine Aid (Enc Util 2) - Granting saves is good, especially as you don't have Sacred Flame. Consecrated Ground (Daily 5) - A great power if you have the CHA to exploit it. Bastion of Health (Enc Util 6) - Lets you trigger more surges each fight. Strengthen the Faithful (Enc 7) - A few more HP for your friends... But, Healer's Lore would do the same with strong WIS. Mass Cure Light Wounds (Daily Util 10) - More HP for all... But, Healer's Lore would do the same with strong WIS. Inspiring Strike (Enc 13) - Again, more healing... But, Healer's Lore would do the same with strong WIS. Sacrificial Healing (Enc 27) - More healing... But, Healer's Lore would do the same with strong WIS. Sunburst (Enc 27) - More healing... But, Healer's Lore would do the same with strong WIS. Healing Sun (Radiant Servant PP Daily Util 12) - Nice power, but you won't be a radiant servant. Pass.
Dragonborn (****): Dragonborn make good Burly and Precise battle clerics, but I'd say that they make slightly better Burly clerics; the focus on CON helps them exploit Draconic Heritage and empower their breathweapon. The racial bonus to STR is very nice, and the CHA boost is a strong encouragement to focus more on the Handsome cleric side of the house. If CHA weren't a bit inferior to WIS, they'd be 5 stars.
I'd suggest the following stat layout: STR 16+2, CON 16, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 11, CHA 13+2 (swap CON and DEX as desired) or STR 17+2, CON 15, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 13+2 (swap CON and DEX as desired)
Dwarf (***): Dwarves make solid Burly & Wise clerics. They don't get a bonus to STR, but they do get bonuses to CON and WIS, your secondary and tertiary stats. Dwarven Weapon proficiency (and its related feat) is great; dwarves will usually end up with Mauls or Halberds. You can actually make good use of both of your racial skill bonuses as you will have decent CON and WIS, and encumbered speed is great for wearing plate mail. Dwarves have access to pretty decent racial feats. With Moradin's Favor, you'll excel against Large foes. The lack of a way to reliably boost offense and no bonus to STR is what really hinders dwarves; if your campaign features lots of Large foes, then boost dwarves to four or even five stars due to Moradin's Favor and Dodge Giants.
I'd suggest the following stat layout: STR 18, CON 13+2, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 13+2, CHA 10
Eladrin (**): Eladrin are best suited for precise clerics and are barely serviceable. The bonus to INT as well as the racial skill bonuses are both wasted, and the bonus to your will save is overkill. On the upside, Eladrin Education is excellent (grab perception!), Eladrin Weapon Proficiency is helpful and will likely save you a feat, and Fey Step is handy for getting into position quickly to set up buffs or Combat Advantage before you drop your big daily.
I'd suggest the following stat layout: STR 18, CON 10, DEX 13+2, INT 8+2, WIS 13, CHA 10 (swap WIS & CHA as desired)
Elf (*****): Elves are the precise counterpart to dwarves. While also lacking a bonus to STR, they net a sweet +2 to both DEX & WIS. Again, both racial skill bonuses are handy. Elvish weapon proficiency isn't so useful, but it does give you a fall-back ranged attack that is quite superior to the crossbow. Wild Step won't be very helpful unless you multiclass to ranger or some other class that lets you shift multiple squares at once. Elvish accuracy, as always, is great, especially for Cleric powers, many of which have great effects on single targets -- if they connect. In my opinion, Elvish Accuracy pushes elves over the top to 5 stars. Being able to reliably land a daily is fantastic for battle clerics, who have relatively few attacks that target multiple foes.
I'd suggest the following stat layout: STR 18, CON 10, DEX 13+2, INT 8, WIS 13+2, CHA 10 or STR 17+2, CON 12, DEX 13+2, INT 8, WIS 14+2, CHA 10 (for a few more HP and better WIS at the expense of offense; this lets you get into Scale Mail in Paragon Tier, which is good.)
Half-Elf (****): Half elves make quite solid Burly Handsome Clerics. The racial skill bonuses are somewhat lackluster as you likely can't pump both WIS & CHA, but can make you a decent face if your party lacks one, especially as clerics can get training in both Diplomacy and Insight. Dual heritage is great, because you'll want to be taking Action Surge right away. Consider multiclassing out for your paragon path.
There are actually quite a few good choices for Dilettante as there are several classes out there that use powers relying on STR and the Weapon keyword; favorites include Cleave (Fighter) for clearing minions, Holy Strike (Paladin) for more radiant damage options which is especially nice at lower levels when you lack many Radiant options, Valiant Strike (Paladin) as bonuses to hit are always good, Hit and Run (Ranger) for a bit more mobility, Viper's Strike (Warlord) to lock down foes, Wolf Pack Tactics (Warlord) to get a bit more tactical. Furious Smash (Warlord) is a possibility but will be inferior to Righteous Might most of the time. Reaping Strike (Fighter) is also a possibility but I feel that it is inferior to Cleave as it basically just ups your damage a bit instead of having a more versatile secondary effect.
I'd suggest the following stat layout: STR 18, CON 13+2, DEX 10, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 13+2
Halfling (***): Halflings are the precise counterpart to Half-Elves. The skill bonuses are somewhat handy, especially if your party lacks a rogue and you're filling the gap. Nimble reaction gives you a bit more mobility and Second Chance is a solid defensive power. However, the lack of offensive boosts is troubling. Plus, they can't use polearms, which most Precise Battle Clerics won't mind too much, but still, should be noted. I'd suggest picking up Nimble Blade and Defensive Mobility while using a light blade to get into position with Combat Advantage as much as possible to make up for a lack of bonuses to hit.
I'd suggest the following stat layout: STR 18, CON 10, DEX 13+2, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 13+2
Human (*****): Humans make very solid Battle Clerics of any type. The free-floating ability score bonus will be put into STR. The bonus at-will is likely a waste; take Sacred Flame and hope that you hit when you really need to grant someone a save. The bonus skill is a bit of a waste as well, because you won't have the INT to exploit an extra knowledge skill. The bonus feat, however, is very handy for battle clerics, who need to buy lots of proficiencies. As always the bonus defenses are handy. The real gold, however, is Action Surge, a solid feat that helps you land your daily.
I'd suggest the following stat layout: STR 16+2, CON 10, DEX 15, INT 8, WIS 15, CHA 10 (Swap CON/DEX and WIS/CHA as you like)
Tieflings (*): Tieflings make pretty mediocre battle clerics. The bonus to INT is a waste, and the bonuses to Stealth and Bluff likely aren't too helpful unless you're in a city campaign. At least you're charismatic, which is of minor help. Bloodhunt is nice, and fire resistance is ok, I guess. The Infernal Wrath power provides a nice bonus to hit. You'll want to get a flaming weapon ASAP -- with a good flaming weapon, you might be able to move Tieflings up to 2 stars. Maybe. I would advise going the Precise Route to make the most of your racial bonus to Stealth.
I'd suggest the following stat layout: STR 17, CON 10, DEX 15, INT 8, WIS 15, CHA 13+2
Selecting powers will be pretty straightforward. First, discard most of the ones that use WIS to hit. No matter how good it looks, your WIS will likely be a few points lower than STR, and thus isn't likely to be worthwhile, with a few rare exceptions. In general, I won't mention WIS-based powers unless they particularly stand out.
If you chose CHA over WIS, then pick the power that uses your CHA. If you don't have decent CHA, you likely want to go with the other one.
Lance of Faith (*): Pass. Inferior to your Righteous Brand.
Sacred Flame (** or ****): If you're a human, pick this up as your third at-will so you can grant saves in a pinch, especially if you do not plan on getting Divine Aid at level 2. If you're not human, you have a choice between this and Priest's Shield. Sacred Flame is worth considering if your WIS is no less than 2-4 points lower than your STR, especially if you have good CHA to boot. Remember that at higher levels it will become more difficult to pump the enhancement bonus on your weapon and your holy symbol. The devotion to WIS required will also preclude hammer or scimitar wielders, who are slaves to their CON or DEX respectively.
Righteous Brand (*****): This is excellent. The buff granted scales with level and the damage is respectable. This is one of the best buffs out there -- just make sure you have a melee character, preferably a striker, in your party to take advantage of it. Use this to set up encounter and daily powers from your friends.
Priest’s Shield (***): A decent choice, especially if you are playing defender by yourself while waiting for backup to arrive. This allows you to bodyguard a squishy wizard or help a defender hold the line. It is also nice when you're mobbed by minions or other low-HP monsters. Once the striker shows up though, you're probably better off switching to Righteous Brand and helping the glass cannon dish out the hurt faster.
Divine Glow (**): Its AOE, which is nice, and it delivers a minor buff whether you hit or miss, but you can do better. Probably pass, unless your party is short a controller, in which case you probably would be better off playing a Devoted Cleric anyways!
Healing Strike (****): Quite nice. Best damage for this level and it is Radiant, which is nice vs. your undead. I don't like relying on hitting to trigger healing surges, but if you miss you can usually drop a Healing Word in a pinch at the end of the round. Burly clerics using a two handed weapon will probably appreciate this the most. Precise clerics may not be impressed, as double damage with your 1d6 or 1d8 one handed weapon isn't as impressive as rolling a fistful of D6s for a maul.
Wrathful Thunder (***): Dazed is a good status condition. Grants mobility to you and your friends because dazed critters can't make OAs. This is solid, and probably the better choice for Precise Clerics.
Beacon of Hope (*****): The ability to heal your whole party instantly and enhance all of your healing for the rest of the encounter makes this a great power, even if you are unlikely to hit with the Weaken status effect. This can turn a TPK into a manageable encounter. Avenging Flame (****): Decent damage for this level. The burn will either continue or the foe stops attacking for a round or two. Either way is good for you. You may want to start with this at level 1, then retrain it for Beacon of Hope once you pick up a few more heavy-hitting powers. The ongoing 5 fire damage will seem lackluster by mid-heroic tier anyways.
Bless (*): This does not stack with Righteous Brand. Bonuses to hit are hard to come by, but unless you have a whole lot of ranged characters in the party, I'd pass.
Divine Aid (****): If you're a Handsome cleric, and there isn't a paladin in the party, take this and don't look back. Granting saves is great.
Sanctuary (****): +5 bonus to all defenses, and it is usable every encounter? Sign me up! This can prevent a nasty condition from getting layered on in the first place by a monster, help you extricate yourself from a situation where you got in over your head, or encourage a foolhardy companion to back off for a round and burn a second wind or reposition (remember, it goes away if they attack). A solid choice for non-handsome clerics or if you don't feel like stealing the paladin's thunder. The only problem is that its ranged, thus provoking an OA when you fire it up.
Shield of Faith (**): A daily, and it doesn't stack with Priest's Shield. I'd pass.
Blazing Beacon (**): Ok if you have a ranged striker that can't benefit from Righteous Brand. Otherwise not worth mentioning.
Split the Sky (****): This lets you push a foe around and knock them prone. It targets fortitude instead of AC, so if you carefully select your victim and you'll effectively get +2 or 3 to hit. Enemy controllers and skirmishers are especially vulnerable.
Rune of Peace (****): A good defensive power, this calls off the dogs for a round or two. Particularly good against high damage monsters like solos and artillery. This is an example of why I favor elves so highly -- when you need this power, you can't afford to miss.
Weapon of the Gods (**): If you have an archery ranger or someone else who makes multiple attacks with their weapon, this is ok. Precise clerics may appreciate it for the AC debuff it puts on a foe; coupled with Righteous Brand, you're basically giving a +6 or 7 bonus to hit for your allies. It allows you to get radiant damage as well, which is nice when you're up against the undead. Still, it is quite situational compared to the other choices.
Consecrated Ground (****): If you're a Handsome cleric, this is the power to nab. It enhances your healing, automatically clears out minions, and deals solid damage to other foes over the course of a long fight. If you're not so handsome, you may be better off with one of the other powers. One problem with this power is that it may tempt your DM to try and kill you, ASAP, to get rid of the zone. Be warned that firing this up may paint a target on your chest -- you may want to follow up with Sanctuary.
Bastion of Health (***): Good for handsome clerics.
Cure Serious (**): It is a daily, and a standard action to trigger, which kind of sucks, but healing half health at one go is pretty nice. Good if you've got folks with few surges in your party that seem to run out before the end of the day.
Divine Vigor (* or ****): Good for dwarves, lame for everyone else. If you're a dwarf and there are at least one or two more other dwarves with you, I'd grab it without looking back. Otherwise not worth the trouble.
Holy Lantern (**): If you've been having trouble with traps, or if you're in a city campaign and doing a lot of talking, this is good. It is also good if you don't have a wizard and thus lack magical light. An elf with Skill Training in Perception, Alertness, and this power can make your DM cry when they think about including a trap. Possibly the best choice for Wise clerics.
Awe Strike (****): You basically get +3 to hit with this power as it targets Will, if you choose your victim wisely. Immobilized is a great condition, really enhancing your defender-esque role.
Strengthen the Faithful (** or ****, depending on your build): Better damage and keys off of CHA. Burly Handsome clerics will probably be interested in grabbing this (I'm looking at you, Dragonborn!).
Level 9 Daily Blade Barrier (***): A barrier even if you don't have great WIS. It gives you nice control, and as a stout meleer, you can fill any gaps the wall doesn't cover. A solid choice for enhancing a controller feel.
Divine Power (*****): Going against FORT instead of AC again gives you a bonus to hit with proper target selection. It is more radiant damage, so nice against your undead. It is AoE, which is nice. Pushing the target is gravy. The bonus to AC won't stack with Priest's Shield, but this lets you focus on going offensive with Righteous Brand. The regeneration is nice, especially for Burly clerics who tend to have inferior defenses. Remember, your Healer's Lore adds to Regeneration, and so will the bonus from Beacon of Hope, which potentially makes this Regeneration 13 or 14 instead of 5. An encounter-changer for a melee cleric, this power may turn you into an unstoppable engine of destruction.
Astral Refuge (**): Pulls someone out from a sticky situation, but you lose their firepower too. If you have foolhardy party members that get in over their heads, this is handy. Trouble is, its range "touch." So, you'll have to go get in over your head too. I'd prefer to use Sanctuary, Shielding Word, Priest's Shield or some healing spells to keep them safe and in the fight, myself.
Knights of Unyielding Valor (****): Useful for control, especially if your party is short on defenders. All of the other conjurations thus far have been reliant on WIS, so you might want to pick this up just for variety's sake.
Mass Cure Light Wounds (***): Not a bad power, but it does require a standard action. Better for Handsome clerics in a larger party. 3 stars
Shielding Word (****):Doesn't require an action, and potentially prevents a hit. Doesn't stack with priest's shield, though.
Arc of the Righteous(**):I'm not impressed, overall -- pretend to be a striker, because all this power does is damage. Battle Clerics are a bit short on multi-target powers, so this might help clear out the hordes. Precise clerics may like it a bit better, as the secondary strike doesn't kick in unless you hit on the primary one. This could also be alright for a dwarf cleric who is using his Channel Divinity power to get a bonus to hit on both attack rolls. The Lightning damage type isn't terribly useful right now, but if more feats/vulnerable monsters come out, it might be better.
Inspiring Strike (****): Solid buffing, especially if you have CHA. 15 temp HP is enough to eat at least a hit or two every fight. Good if you have a particularly vulnerable striker or other squishy that needs some help every fight. For example, if one person keeps burning through their surges before the end of the day when everyone else still has some left, this might be a bit better than...
Mantle of Glory (*****): Even if you don't have WIS, Mantle of Glory is seriously worth considering. Allowing everyone (potentially) to spend a surge? That's like 4 more Healing Words every encounter, whether you hit or not! Not to mention it goes against WILL (the weakest of defenses), is Radiant damage (so it p0wns undead -- did you forget that Righteous Brand doesn't do radiant damage?), and is a solid Blast 5 for minion control? I think you need to have a reason to pass this up.
Holy Spark (****): STR vs. WILL is good -- that's around +3 to hit compared to AC, and that's what pushes this up from a three-star ho-hum damage power up into the four star realm. Doing elemental damage is usually good, and lightning isn't resisted nearly as much as FIRE or POISON. It does respectable damage and furthermore arcs around. If you have some way to screw enemy saves such as a Symbol of Power, this is great. Even if not, its good crowd control.
Seal of Warding (****): Bursts are good, and this is one that can be sustained. Basically this creates a little bastion of defense that makes it tough for enemy strikers and skirmishers to move in for the kill as well as making it difficult for ranged foes to plink you. The attack does great damage and pins down foes pretty effectively too. If you have decent WIS this is worth considering; going vs. WILL is good, even if you don't have fantastic WIS.
Purifying Fire (**): If you have great WIS and decent CHA, worth considering, maybe. Its another burst but this one doesn't stick around. The healing effect is decent, especially as you can expect to be in melee, but fire damage is easily resisted and going against REF isn't so hot.
Astral Shield (****): This grants a +2 untyped bonus to AC, and untyped bonuses are good. The bad thing is that this is action intensive, taking a standard to fire up and a move to shift around. Plus, at this level, fewer monsters target AC. Still, its an untyped bonus and the only utility at this level you can use every encounter.
Cloak of Peace (***): Upgraded sanctuary. The bonuses are huge and might save an ally from death, but it effectively takes them out of the fight. If you or someone else in the party is very focused on things that don't count as attacks, this is great. For example, you could drop this power on a TacLord and they could provide their passive bonuses and use commander's strike with impunity. Its also good for a defender that is just the anvil for a striker, providing flanking, CA, and defense. This verges on 2 stars, but it is a bit better than Astral Refuge, the last "save an overextended party member" power we came across.
Divine Armor (***): So, this is like Astral Shield, but it also gives Resist 5/All and is a daily, and is a bit less action intensive. If you face a lot of mobs of little monsters or damaging terrain ("Every time you start your turn in a square, take some damage), then this is better. Also, if your party is prone to getting spread out and doesn't want to bunch up around Astral Shield, this is good. Otherwise I'd go with Astral Shield.
Hallowed Ground (*****): Finally, bonuses worthy of your standard action. The bonus to attack rolls doesn't stack with Righteous Brand, but the bonus to saves and to all defenses turns this into one of those powers that can turn an encounter from a TPK into a manageable situation. You could stack this and Consecrated Ground or another zone to create a veritable fortress on the field.
Blinding Light (***): Going against FORT is not nearly as good as targeting REF or WILL, but this power could be quite effective against skirmishers or artillery. Radiant damage is nice, and the Blinded status condition is good. All in all, a decent power, but not a game changer.
Enthrall (***): If you have WIS, worth considering. It goes against WILL so even if your WIS is a point or two behind STR, you'll have a good chance of hitting. Immobilized is a decent condition, making this sort of a 'Turn Undead' for anyone vulnerable to charms.
Sentinel Strike (****): Solid damage and a strong defensive buff. This makes you quite defender-esque. The 3[W] damage is most appealing for Burly Clerics who are likely to wield larger two handed weapons.
Thunderous Word (**): Goes against REF, so if you're going to pick a WIS power here I'd skip this in favor of Enthrall. On the upside, it does have a huge AOE and you can pretend to be a warlord by letting all of your allies shift 1. Also good for handsome clerics.
Fire Storm (***): Sustainable auto-damage is solid control even if your WIS doesn't rock. Plus, it only damages foes, not allies. Sadly you cannot move the zone.
Holy Wrath (*****): The upgrade to Divine Power. Unfortunately it is not a multiple W power, but still, 2d10 damage is solid. The AOE is nice too. Nothing not to love here except it doesn't buff your allies as much as it buffs you.
Indomitable Spirit (****): Allows the whole party to spend a healing surge. If you're having trouble keeping folks up, this is good. Otherwise, go with Holy Wrath.
Knight of Glory (**): This is WIS vs. AC, so it is unlikely to hit, especially if your WIS lags behind your STR. It does let you make an extra attack as a minor action, which is handy, and it does good damage, but that's about all I can say for it. Firestorm is more likely to hit, does more damage, and requires fewer actions to be useful, and Holy Wrath is an AOE that uses your primary ability.
Chapter 4: Feats My general philosophy with feats is to first aim to maximize offense, then to shore up defenses, then to broaden out.
One exception is to get all your equipment proficincies in place ASAP. This allows you to start claiming useful treasure as soon as possible. If you plan to get into platemail sometime, but the DM throws a nice suit of Chainmail your way, that chain will become expensive rubbish once you upgrade your armor proficincies. Same goes for weapons -- you don't want to be stuck holding the bag on a nice magic club when you would have really preferred a longsword. If you share equipment with someone else, it might be advantageous to wait for awhile however; then you can get the "hand me downs" as they upgrade their stuff.
HEROIC TIER Most of your feats will be spoken for quickly. You'll likely need to spend one on weapon proficiency, two on armor/shield, one on a multiclass feat, and one on channel divinity, leaving only one free feat left.
Action Surge [Human] (*****): This is full of win. Take it ASAP and don't look back, ever. Use it to power your daily and other critical powers.
Weapon Proficiency or Dwarven Weapon Training [Dwarves Only] or Eladrin Soldier [Eladrin] (*****): This feat will likely give a damage boost and allows you to start accumulating your magic weapons of choice. Precise Clerics likely want to nab a Heavy Blade of some sort, possibly a polearm to start and a Bastard Sword later; some may take the Spiked Chain for the reach and bonus to hit. Burly Clerics will want a Greataxe, Maul, or polearm.
Elvish Precision [Elf] (*****): Bonuses to hit when you need them most. Elves will want this at level 1 or 2 in most cases.
Moradin's Resolve (****): One of the few Channel Divinity Feats that gives a bonus to hit, this is essential for Dwarves, who lack offensive punch. I'd pick it up around level 6, when large monsters start to show up more often. If you're in a city campaign or other campaign with few large monsters, pass.
Student of the Sword (****): +1 to hit is good; even if its only on one attack roll per fight, that helps you land your daily. This opens the door to multiclassing. Even if you don't want to multiclass for your PP, the bonus to hit and training in a useful skill (Athletics is tempting) is worthwhile.
Warrior of the Wild (***): A bit of bonus damage and training in a skill (Perception, anyone?). The PP options are lackluster though, which keeps this from being higher ranked. Be prepared to go down a cleric PP.
Sneak of Shadows (***): More bonus damage; the skill isn't tempting for most, but Precise Clerics, especially Halflings, may be interested. Again, the PP options are likely not too interesting. It does open up Surprise Knockdown, though, which is a fair feat.
Nimble Blade (***): A +1 untyped bonus to hit is respectable, but you have to use a light blade. Precise Clerics may be interested. Ideal for a halfling as they are small and can easily get into position with CA; Eladrin may also be interested, with their Fey Step ability making it easier to get CA.
Weapon Focus (***): An extra point of damage. If you've got a feat open, might as well get it, but no hurry. Dwarves and Eladrin are at an advantage here as they don't need to worry about this until Epic, if ever.
Dragonborn Frenzy [Dragonborn] (***): More damage is good, but you have to be bloodied for it to kick in.
Blade Opportunist (***): Precise Clerics will likely be interested.
Power Attack (***): You may not have the attack bonus to exploit this, but if there's another leader in the party to buff your attacks, by all means, knock yourself out! Particularly attractive for Burly clerics wielding two handed weapons, but Precise Clerics have more AB to burn. A spiked chain wielder could make good use of this. Powerful Charge (**): More damage is good. However, you probably won't get more than one or two charges per fight, so how much use will it see?
Far Throw (**): Most of your weapons are hurled, but usually range isn't an issue. If you're running into problems, this feat may be worthwhile. Otherwise don't bother.
Combat Reflexes (**): Only Precise Clerics will have the DEX required to make use of this, but it may be worth taking after you've gotten Blade Opportunist.
Armor of Bahumut (*****): An excellent Channel Divinity Feat that helps you and your allies.
Human Perseverence [Human] (*****): Bonuses to saves are hard to come by.
Lost in the Crowd [Halfling] (*****): An excellent feat; medium critters are pretty common, so the bonus should kick in most of the time.
Dodge Giants [Dwarf] (****): Money at late Heroic Tier when big monsters show up with regularity. Especially as your Dwarf is likely a Burly Cleric with a cruddy reflex defense, every bit helps. If you're in a campaign with few large monsters, this drops to 1 star.
Toughness (****): Clerics often lack the HP to be on the front line. Toughness helps to remedy that.
Student of Battle (****): An extra "healing word" and some decent PP options.
Soldier of the Faith (***): A good choice for Handsome clerics, this makes you more of a defender and opens up some PP options. Most of the paladin PP choices are not ideal for a cleric though, so I'd consider this carefully.
Armor Proficiency Scale, Plate (***): Burly clerics will have the CON to qualify for plate, and they probably will want to get into it, too. 3 feats (proficiency + specialization) at paragon nets you +3 to AC. Its painful but unless you have multiple defenders and can comfortably sit in the back with a polearm, you're going to need the AC.
Shield Proficiency Light, Heavy (***): Precise Clerics have the DEX to qualify for Shield Proficiency at paragon. 3 feats nets you +3 AC, +3 REF. This is more of a no-brainer than the armor proficiency and is highly suggested. Burly clerics have the STR for the Shields but lack the DEX for specialization; if you're starting in the mid to late Paragon tier, or if you're very concerned about defense, you might want to invest in these feats, but for most they'll be too expensive.
Defensive Mobility (**): Clerics aching for more mobility may be interested. Its particularly nice for a halfing, as it stacks with their racial ability and makes it easier to get CA for Nimble Blade.
Durable (**): If you find yourself running low on surges, not a bad choice. I'd put it low on the list, though.
Improved Initiative (***): Going first is good, because it lets you buff an ally's first attack with Righteous Brand, get a Priest's Shield down before the enemy has a chance to strike, or get into position early. Precise Clerics may prefer Quick Draw.
Corellon's Grace (***): A decent channel divinity feat if you want to be more mobile, especially for halflings (who are quite mobile and unconcerned about OAs).
Skill Training (**): You may be interested in Perception, Athletics, or another handy skill. Take a multiclass feat before you take this though.
Alertness (**): For ranger-multiclass characters, this can lead to a very solid Perception score. Elves may be interested.
Light Step [Elf] (*): If your campaign is taking place over an epic overland journey, sure. Otherwise, you'll probably pass.
PARAGON TIER Things open up significantly in Paragon Tier as far as feats go. There are fewer "must take" feats as you should have most of your proficiencies in place; all you'll need as a sure thing are feats related to your equipment (weapon and armor specializations for the most part). You may find yourself going back and getting more heroic tier feats here, for example, purchasing Shield feats in addition to Plate mail armor.
WEAPON FEATS Deadly Axe (*****): If you use axes (other than Great Axes), get this. If you don't, don't.
Hammer Rhythm (*****): If you use hammers, get this. You are a slave to your CON, so keep pumping it.
Heavy Blade Opportunity (*****): If you've selected the longsword, glaive, or another heavy blade, you want this.
Scimitar Dance (*****): Hammer Rhythm for blade wielders.
Light Blade Precision (****): Light Blades generally aren't as good as heavy ones, but if you're using them, you might as well get some extra damage.
Polearm Gamble (****): You have the WIS to qualify, but your OA isn't as painful as a fighter's is. If you've found your defenses to be adequate thus far, go for it.
Steady Shooter (***): Good for Burly clerics. Your crossbow is your primary ranged attack most likely so you might as well pick this up if you find yourself having to fight at range.
Sweeping Flail (***): I'm sorry, this is just not as good as the other weapon feats. If you find yourself fighting lots of humanoids, its great. At least its pretty easy to qualify for.
Steady Shooter (***): Good for Burly clerics. Your crossbow is your primary ranged attack most likely so you might as well pick this up if you find yourself having to fight at range. OTHER OFFENSIVE FEATS: Arcane Reach (**): If you've selected a lot of close powers, knock yourself out. Not as useful as it is for a wizard who has at-will close powers.
Blood Thirst (***): A free +2 damage vs. all bloodied foes is good. Back to the Wall (***): Untyped bonuses to hit are good. If you find yourself in dungeons a lot, get this. This is particularly good for polearm wielding clerics who get more flexibility in where they stand.
Devastating Critical (**): If you don't have a way to boost your crit range, this is an extra 0.275 damage per melee weapon attack. Take it if you really want to boost your damage output.
Empowered Dragon Breath (*): This ups your damage from 1d6 to 1d10, so anyone except a minion... still won't care?
Lasting Frost (**): Too bad cleric powers don't do cold damage. If you have a Frost weapon, knock yourself out.
Lightning Arc (**): Too bad cleric powers don't do electrical damage, either.
Point Blank Shot (**): Much better for devoted clerics. You'll likely pass.
Sly Hunter (**): If you're an elf that is pumping DEX and going for scimitar dance, this isn't bad. If you aren't an Elf, why the hell are you using a bow?
Armor Specialization Plate (*****): If you're in platemail, why not grab an extra point of AC? Good for burly clerics.
Shield Specialization (*****): If you're using a shield, this is ideal. The Reflex bonus doesn't stack with Lightning Reflexes, but that's ok -- you're tight on feats anyways, so perhaps Lightning Reflexes can be passed over.
Scale Specialization (****): If you somehow could afford the 13 CON for Scale, this is a good feat. I ranked it as 4 stars merely because many clerics will not be able to afford the DEX and CON.
Chain Specialization (***):[/color] If you have the CON for scale, get into scale. Otherwise, you should probably be using a one handed weapon and shield, so Shield Specialization is for you. If you really, really want to use a Fullblade or are tied to your exalted armor, Chain Spec is the best you can get.
Hide Specialization (***): If you started with high dex and are maxing DEX (at the expense of WIS), this is an option. Probably best for halflings or elves.
Combat Anticipation (***): Bonuses to defenses are good. But, as a meleer, you will often be in the thick of things with the bad guys. I would count on the bad guy controllers avoiding nuking their own guys to keep you safe from most area of effect powers.
Defensive Advantage (**): Ok for halflings or anyone else who often has combat advantage.
Dwarven Durability (*****): You need more surges and more HPs to keep up on the front line. If you're a dwarf, take this.
Evasion (***): See my thoughts on Combat anticipation. This is best for precise clerics who use shields, who are likely to have strong REF defenses to start with.
Feywild Protection (****): You're going to use Fey Step just about every encounter, so why not net a cool +2 to all defenses when you likely need it most?
Great Fortitude (***): Your fort defense will be respectable as you're maxing out STR, making this feat likely unnecessary.
Improved Second Wind (**): Great for dwarves. Most battle clerics have lots of ways to trigger surges with Minor actions or as part of attacks, making this not so useful.
Iron Will (**): Nice bonus to an important defense. But your will is likely strong enough, especially if you are pumping WIS or CHA as a secondary stat. Given how tight you are on feats, this is probably towards the bottom of the list.
Lightning Refelxes(***): I like this feat for Burly clerics who are in plate using a 2H weapon. Your Reflex will likely be a weak point, well worth shoring up.
Mettle (***): While you have good FORT and WILL defenses and can probably exploit this feat, its been my experience that such attacks are pretty rare.
Solid Sound (**): Right now, there just aren't enough THUNDER powers to exploit this.
Uncanny Dodge (***): You probably have the WIS to qualify, and your cleric likely also lacks mobility to get out of flanking situations. Not a bad choice if you find yourself getting flanked often.
Angelic Avenger (***): This is a decent Precise Battle Cleric path. The level 11 power demands WIS, and the Astral Vibrance feature asks for CHA. You're unlikely to have both, so at least one of them will end up being a wash. Weapon Training frees up a feat from the heroic tier (you can retrain that Bastard Sword weapon proficiency feat). I really like Angelic Action, as bonuses to hit are hard to come by. Angel Ascendant is a very solid power, and flight 6 is nothing to be scoffed at.
Divine Oracle (*): This path primarily keys off of WIS, which you don't have. Terrifying Insight will be a waste; you won't have many powers that go against Will. Hammer of Fate will likely be useless. I'd skip this one.
Radiant Servant (**): Another path that demands WIS. You don't have many attacks with Radiant damage, either. Pass.
Warpriest (****): A bonus to AC and an ability to mark? Sign me up. This is best for wise, burly clerics who can make the best use of the WIS-based powers and heavy armor bonus. Dwarves, that'd be you, right? This is solid for clerics who want to be "stickier," emphasizing the defender role. Battle Cry at least has a decent effect even if you miss your targets.
Pit Fighter, Fighter (****): Great for wise clerics; this path is all about damage output, so if you lack a striker, its not a bad idea.
If you have CHA:
Knight Commander, Paladin (****): Honor and Glory is great, especially as you'll be in the thick of things using Righteous Brand and Priest's Shield anyways. This path does ask for some CHA, making it great for handsome clerics.
Kensei, Fighter (****): A solid choice for any melee character. This path is all about bonuses to hit, which fits in nicely with the Precise Cleric's mindset; a Burly Cleric may appreciate the bonuses, however. Particularly good for races that don't get bonuses to hit such as Halflings or Dwarves.
Swordmaster, Fighter (***): If you've used the power swap feat to get a Fighter Encounter power, this is worth a look for Precise Battle Clerics that favor heavy blades.
Astral Weapon, Paladin (**): While there is a lot of STR synergy, the Astral Judgement feature is not very useful if you can't mark at will like a "real" paladin. You'll also have to use a power swap feat to make Astral Rejuvenation useful.
Champion of Order, Paladin (**): In Defense of Order is lackluster without easy marking. So is None Shall Pass.
Combat Veteran, Warlord (****): This is great for Burly Clerics. It doesn't demand WIS or CHA, so any sort of Battle Cleric can benefit from the path's features; everything keys off of STR. Excellent for making your cleric more "tactical."
Sword Marshal, Warlord (***): This is for Precise Clerics who use heavy blades. You'll want to swap out an encounter power to use Sword Marshal's Action. Sword Marshal's Boon isn't so useful as most cleric powers help you out along with your allies. The path doesn't use CHA for anything, so WIS or CHA clerics can both benefit.
I will indicate the source of the equipment and the level at which it first becomes available like so: (PHB 2). Those aren't page numbers!
In general, with weapons, I prefer ones with fewer bells and whistles. Every awesome weapon property makes that weapon more expensive; a Lightning Weapon is -4/5 to hit and damage compared to a vanilla Magic weapon. Given that every single one of your powers uses a weapon attack to hit, I put a premium on getting maximum bonuses to hit. So, you'll find me favoring weapons that are 1-2 levels higher than the magical standard (i.e. level 2 and 3 weapons). Those weapons that are level 4-5 for a +1 version must really have a compelling property or daily power to be worth consideration.
Magic +X (PHB 1) (**): Its boring. And with the release of level 6 +2 weapons in the AV that have more interesting properties such as the Dynamic Weapon, its underpowered, too. The exception would be if you want to keep your options open for upgrades. A plain old magic +X weapon can easily be upgraded to be anything once you get the right cash.
Vicious(PHB 2) (***): A no-nonsense, cheap enhancement. Keeps your plusses maximized. This is best if you have a friend that can render foes helpless (like an Orbizord buddy) so you can run up to coup de grace. Also good if you are building to maximize crits.
Frost (PHB 3) (****): Nice control with the daily power, an energy type, and synergy with Wintertouched/Lasting Frost. Also, not too expensive. Not a bad choice, especially at Paragon tier.
Thundering (PHB 3) (**): Yawn. It is only Thunder damage 1x/day when you trigger the power, and push 1? You'll have a few encounter powers that let you push folks in a pinch, so this is weak in my opinion.
Flaming (PHB 5) (*): Fire is the most commonly resisted damage type. The extra damage dealt is not worth losing out on the +4/5 to hit and damage that you've paid for such an "expensive" weapon. Unless you're a tiefling, stear clear.
Lightning (PHB 5) (**): This is expensive. The daily is great for minion clearing, though. I'd say that if you have trouble with clearing minions in your party, then someone should use one of these. I think they're better for defenders, who can get away with missing more often as they still do their job (mark foes and hold the line) whether they hit or miss.
Lifedrinking (PHB 3) (**): Temporary HP are great, but I'm not sure its worth the -4/5 to hit and damage.
Dragonslayer +2 (PHB 9) (**): Middle of the road for cost. The benefits are AWESOME against a small subset of foes. However, given that you're in melee a lot of hte time, you may not be able to reach dragons with a melee variant of this -- a throwing weapon or ranged weapon would be better. The rest of the time, its not so useful. If dragons are a big part of your campaign, this is good. If you have a ton of magic items with daily powers, this is good. If you happen to pick up a Javelin of Dragonslaying, it makes an ok back up weapon. But I'd steer clear for use as a primary weapon in most cases.
Resounding +X (PHB 2) (****): Inexpensive and delivers a very solid debuff as a Daily. Dazed is a great condition.
[bTerror (PHB 4) (***)[/b]: A solid debuff, but getting expensive. The bonus to crits is minor but nice. If you are a dwarf or another race that can't boost offense easily, then this is great for using prior to an AP-fueled delivery of a daily power.
Holy Avenger (PHB 25) (**): Most of your attacks don't use the Radiant Keyword. The Daily isn't bad but won't stack with any defensive powers you may have. The critical property is ok, but you don't need to tear through surges and should have lots of ways to trigger your own surges. Unless you're a balanced cleric (and if so, why are you reading this guide?) and need to consolidate your weapon and holy symbol, I'd skip it.