This Handbook uses the following system for ratings: Red: This is either completely worse than another choice, or is just plain ineffective. Purple: This has its uses for certain builds, but there are probably better options. Black: Taking this will not hurt you, though there may be better options. Blue: This is a very solid choice, and should always be considered. Sky Blue: You should think hard before not taking something with this ranking. Gold:You will need to take this if you want to be considered optimized in any meaningful fashion.
This Handbook covers the following sources: SourcesShow
AP - Arcane Power AV - Adventurer's Vault AV 2 - Adventurer's Vault 2 D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX DMA 2009 - Dragon Magazine Annual 2009 DP - Divine Power DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting Du XXX - Dungeon Magazine, issue XXX E1 - Death's Reach (Adventure) Ebr - Eberron Player's Guide FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide Homm - Village of Hommlet (Adventure) HoS - Heroes of Shadow HotEC - Heroes of the Elemental Chaos HotFL - Heroes of the Fallen Lands HotFey - Heroes of the Feywild HotFK - Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms MM - Monster Manual MM 2 - Monster Manual 2 MME - Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium MotP - Manual of the Planes MP - Martial Power MP2- Martial Power 2 NW- Neverwinter Campaign Setting P1 - King of the Trollhaunt Warrens (Adventure) P2 - Demon Queen Enclave (Adventure) P3 - Assault on Nightwyrm Fortress (Adventure) PHB - Player's Handbook PHB 2 - Player's Handbook 2 PHB 3 - Player's Handbook 3 PHB D - Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn PHB T - Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings PHH 1 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 1 PHH 2 - Player's Handbook Heroes: Series 2 PP - Primal Power PsP - Psionic Power
Thanks to: LordDuskblade, for the format being used. Lord_Ventnor, Cecil90670, DwarvenSpartan, and all those who have posted on the swordmage before. Robert Quill, for the artwork being used in the title post.
Hit Points - 15 + Con score at 1st level; 6 at each level thereafter. This is the standard amount for a defender, and two of the three swordmage builds use Constitution as their secondary ability.
Healing Surges - 8 + Con modifier. While this starts out a little under the average for defenders, the aforementioned Constitution affinity makes up for it.
Proficiencies - Due to your class features, you will be using light blades and heavy blades, so only getting military light and heavy blades (and simple ranged weapons) isn't too onerous. And that said, heavy and light blades are accurate and reasonably damaging, and for the implement powers, what the form the weapon takes doesn't really matter. Leather armor proficiency only is low for a defender, though Swordmage Warding and Int as the primary ability mitigate this drawback for the most part.
Swordbond - It's nice to have, but between the standard action to use it and the limited circumstances where it comes in handy, it'll primarily be used for flavor. The feats which improve it don't improve it enough. You can ignore this feature.
Swordmage Aegis - This is the center of what makes you a defender. While you don't mark as easily as a warden or a fighter, you don't have to remain adjacent to your target to enforce the mark. Your mark is sustained without additional actions or attacks, making it equal to the battlemind's. Finally, you can take feats to significantly improve your marking ability at paragon (Double Aegis) and epic (Total Aegis) tiers, making you one of the premier multi-markers without forcing you to choose certain powers.
Swordmage Warding - This makes up for your leather armor. Though it works with a two-handed blade, you will want to make use of it along with a one-handed blade to get the maximum +3 bonus. Thanks to errata, you no longer have to worry about losing it for the encounter if you are knocked out. You gain your warding with any armor choice, meaning that a swordmage in heavy armor still gains its full benefit.
Dragonborn - Dragonborn now get a choice of either secondary skill for a swordmage. The added synergy of getting Constitution to healing surge value and the ability boost have improved dragonborn to black. The dragonfear racial power also benefits a swordmage more than the default dragon breath, so take a look at that power.
Dwarf - While the dwarf also gets a bonus to a secondary ability, it's the more useful one. Dwarves' racial features (especially second wind as a minor, resist forced movement/prone) also lend themselves to defender classes. The lack of an Intelligence bonus and lower movement are the only things which hold it back from blue.
Eladrin - Speaking of Intelligence bonuses, the eladrin is the first PHB race to have one. Given the importance of Intelligence for a swordmage, this can't be undersold. While Dexterity is of less use to a swordmage than other abilities, it does give access to weapon feats and Improved Swordmage Warding. With the new Essentials choice of ability score bonuses, you can also pump up your Charisma (and thereby your Will defense) as well. Thanks to other racial feats, and the synergy that fey step has with swordmage powers, eladrin is an excellent choice for a swordmage.
Elf - Elves have gone up in value since Essentials gave them the choice of a bonus to Intelligence. Now, they're roughly equivalent to old eladrin. The added ability to hit balances out the decrease in mobility.
Half-Elf - The half-elf gets a bonus to Constitution, which is nice. Two of the best choices for Dilettante are Magic Weapon (for general ally buffing) and Eldritch Strike (so you don't have to take Intelligent Blademaster for a good MBA). You can also take dilettante powers from a few implement-wielding classes, but then you have to find a way to use your sword as an implement or reach back for a second implement when you want to employ your dilettante power. You're not getting much benefit from access to elf feats, but access to human feats can come in handy on occasion.
Halfling - You don't get a bonus to any abilities that matter to a swordmage (save Constitution, with the new Essentials bonuses, and that's a minor benefit). You're Small, so you'll use a rapier (thanks to the errata changing it into a military light blade). Still, if you want to play a Small swordmage, be a gnome.
Human - Swordmages have less dependence on secondary abilities than many other classes, so the floating +2 isn't as great a disadvantage as with other classes. You also get bonuses to your defenses and a bonus feat. Swordmages are feat-starved at early levels, so you are more effective out of the gate than some other races. Getting a third at-will also means that you can grab something other than sword burst and booming blade/frigid blade.
Tiefling - The tiefling gets a bonus to Intelligence, which, as stated before, is vital for a swordmage. Bloodhunt is generally useful, and the improved form of Infernal Wrath means that enemies get a small catch-22 (one which stacks with White Lotus Riposte, no less). The fire resistance is ok, if not overwhelming. They also have picked a few feats from their PHB series book, leading them to be an excellent choice.
Deva - This race has an Intelligence bonus, and its racial ability can usually turn one failed roll into a success each encounter. It also gets a defense bonus for most of the second half of a fight, and its resistances make it stand up strong against undead.
Gnome - While many of the problems that affect the halfling also affect the gnome, the Intelligence bonus really reverses things. Fade Away works better for the gnome as a swordmage than it would for other defender classes. They didn't gain anything from their choice of secondary ability scores.
Goliath - The goliath has bonuses to both of the swordmage secondaries, but no Int bonus. That said, since most swordmages don't need much besides Intelligence and a bit of Str/Con, you can go with 18 Int pre-racial and still have enough Strength and Constitution to qualify for Greater Swordmage Warding in paragon. Stone's endurance is also a great power for a defender.
Half-Orc - Half-orcs get a bonus to either secondary ability ever since their Essentials update, which helps them out some (though not as much as Int would, of course). Furious Assault is of less benefit to swordmages than to some other classes, since swordmages are more likely to use longswords than larger, more damaging weapons. On the other hand, Half-orc Resilience should trigger every combat, and the Str/Dex combination is required to qualify for a lot of heavy blade feats. Half-orcs also have a racial paragon path made for swordmages which provides them with some good benefits if going the assault route.
Shifter, Longtooth - The Strength bonus and regeneration from the shifting racial power is enough to keep this race from the bottom of the barrel, but it's a close thing. Not much else to say.
Shifter, Razorclaw - Ability bonuses which don't help a swordmage, a shifting power that's of less help than the longtooth's, and ... I'm out of racial features to discuss.
Githzerai - The racial abilities are useful to a defender. Defended Mind helps you recover from conditions that shut down most defenders cold, and Iron Mind comes in handy when your enemy doesn't ignore your mark. A +2 bonus to initiative checks is never bad either, and the shift with your second wind can help you disengage if you're really hurting. Oh, and to top it off, they can get a bonus to Intelligence as well.
Minotaur - The racial features have improved slightly, making minotaurs tougher and helping the ones who pump Constitution over Strength. There are also a couple of good racial feats, such as Bloodied Ferocity. That improves them to average.
Shardmind - Based on the bonus to Intelligence and racial teleporting ability, the shardmind began at blue. Once all of the nifty out-of-combat benefits were accounted for, as well as more feat support than the changeling has had in the last year, I think it's safe to move up the shardmind to light blue.
Wilden - The racial ability modifier helps Constitution, which is ok. Hardy Form is a little help to shore up the Will save. Finally, you can probably make use of any of the racial powers, though two of them use your immediate action. This race isn't much above purple, but there are a few racial feats which help wilden defenders: Burden of Guardianship in heroic, Burden of Liberty and Secret of Escape in paragon, and Secret of Enduring Vigor in epic.
Bladeling (MOTP) - The bladeling's racial power has the same problem as the dragonborn's, and the ability modifiers have the same problem as the elf's. There's also no racial support. Wait for a Winning Races article, but even then, you'll probably remain disappointed.
Changeling (EPG) - This is a non-standard choice, but it comes with a bonus to Intelligence. The other powers and racial traits are ok (Will tends to be the weak defense for a swordmage, so boosting it is nice).
Drow (FRPG) - While you can give your enemies two bad choices with your cloud of darkness (attack you in the cloud, or your allies with the mark penalty, potentially triggering your aegis), the other drow abilities are of little use to a swordmage, and the racial ability modifiers are no good. No help from Essentials with the ability score selection either. No Intelligence for drow? That's weird.
Genasi (FRPG) - This is the race for the archetypal assault swordmage build. There's good racial feat support for the class, and the various elemental manifestations allow you to tailor your character's resistances for a story arc. This is a very strong choice. Oh, and now that they gain Constitution as a choice in place of Strength, they're everything a shielding or ensnaring swordmage would want (at least in terms of ability scores).
Goblin (DSH) - Goblins are Small, get little feat support, and Goblin Tactics is the opposite of why a defender should be using an immediate action. Avoid them.
Hamadryad (HotFey) - If you're ok with not getting any racial feat support, then hamadryad isn't actually a bad choice. You get a racial power that's functionally equivalent to the goliath's stone's endurance, a +2 bonus to saving throws against some nasty conditions, and the ever-important bonus to Intelligence.
Kalashtar (EPG) - Dual Soul moves up the save for dazed and dominated, but it doesn't help you succeed at it. Bastion of Mental Clarity does help you avoid being hit in the first place. With their new choice of Intelligence in place of Wisdom, they make good swordmages, if not amazing ones. Maybe if they ever get some feat support...
Kobold (DSH) - The kobold is fighting uphill, thanks to its size. With the nerf going from Shifty to Shifty Maneuver, kobolds are a worse race as a result.
Mul (DSCS) - Mul holds the distinction of being the first race to get a blue rating for swordmages which does not get a racial bonus to Intelligence. They gain access to dwarven feats which allow them to use their second winds without spending a standard action, a racial encounter power that's tailor-made for defenders, and a bonus to Constitution and Strength (for assault swordmages) or Wisdom (for Will defense). They are tough as nails, and while they have an easier time with other defender classes, they work well as swordmages.
Pixie (HotFey) - Pixies have at-will flight. That makes them unique, but they also can play some neat defender tricks with being Tiny (while not suffering as much as other defenders might - a swordmage is usually fine sticking with a rapier anyway), and they definitely get the best feat support of any of the new races in Heroes of the Feywild. Oh, and Int bonus too.
Satyr (HotFey) - No Int bonus, and its grab-bag of racial features don't help defenders. Avoid.
Shade (HoS) - The shade is the flip side of the mul, in that it's the first race with a racial bonus to Intelligence that is lower than blue. Why give up a healing surge for darkvision, training in Stealth, and a racial power thats wholly unsuited for being a defender? Be eladrin if you want to be an Int/Cha character, and enjoy some actual feat support.
Svirfneblin (DSH) - No Int bonus, and low speed. The darkvision is good in the right campaign, and the racial ability can come in handy if you have an extra minor action.
Thri-Kreen (DSCS) - The thri-kreen is very similar to an elf in terms of racial features. It's slightly better in terms of ability bonuses, but slightly worse in racial powers. Either way, not great for swordmages.
Vryloka (HoS) - No Int bonus, and the racial power is not made for swordmages who will rarely be the ones to kill or bloody enemies. The racial necrotic resistance keeps it from being red.
Warforged (EPG) - Warforged are equal to goliaths in toughness, and their racial abilities and racial feats work as well for swordmages as for any other class. Oh, and now that they can be Intelligence/Constitution, they jump up in color just the way that githzerai did when their flex stat was announced.
Gnoll (D367) - The gnoll's racial traits lend it more to striker than defender, but it does get a Constitution boost and moves faster than any other race besides the elf. Gnoll Claw Fighter also makes it the only race which can get Swordmage Warding while unarmed.
Hengeyokai (D404) - This race has no feat support and will never have it. It lacks a bonus to Intelligence or either of a swordmage's secondary abilities. If you want to play a shapechanger, go for changeling.
Hobgoblin (D419) - Hobgoblins get a bonus to Constitution, and with their write-up in Dragon, they can now get Intelligence as their flex stat. Even though their racial feats will probably not benefit you, their racial power can be good to shed a non-stun/dominate condition.
Revenant (D 376/HoS) - The race gets a bonus to Constitution, and Unnatural Vitality gives you an extra turn standing when other defenders would drop. You also get a better form of the half-elf's Dual Heritage in that you can choose which race to get the benefit from (sadly, elves have few good racial feats that don't involve elven accuracy). Choosing eladrin gives you access to fey step instead of dark reaping, as well as the other good eladrin swordmage feats. With some of their racial feats being of great use to defenders, this race is on the cusp of being rated higher, despite lacking a bonus to Intelligence.
Shadar-Kai (D 372) - Intelligence bonus and a racial power that's better than fey step puts this class to blue, and I've found two racial feats which kick it into light blue (barely). The race could still use more racial support, but they make good assault swordmages.
Bugbear (MM) - This race gets a Strength bonus, which is some help, but it also gets Oversized. This racial trait is overpowered, but for a swordmage, it means you can use weapons with decently large damage dice. Its other racial power also emphasizes damage, so bugbear swordmages tend to be on the fragile side.
Bullywug (MM 2) - I don't care about the Constitution bonus. That's a useless racial trait, and swamp walk is not going to come in handy 9 times out of 10.
Duergar (MM 2) - The bright sides are that duergar get a Constitution bonus, darkvision, and that their racial power uses Constitution for the attack. The downside is that's basically it.
Githyanki (MM) - This race is so well-suited for swordmages that some people were upset it's not in PHB3 for that reason. Racial bonuses to the swordmage's abilities, a bonus to Will and saves vs. charm, and a racial power that helps mobility for you or an ally - all these things are good for swordmages, and there's also a generic boost to initiative.
Kenku (MM 2) - The kenku's racial abilities aren't useful to a swordmage, and you don't get good feat support. Flock Effect is mildly useful, but is really made for rogues, not swordmages.
Orc (MM) - Orcs get a bonus to both secondary abilities for a swordmage, but their racial power triggers on Strength, not an ability of your choice. You're forced into assault swordmage if you want to make use of it, and you have better feat support with goliaths, warforged, and minotaurs.
Strength - Before Arcane Power, you only needed Strength if you were an assault swordmage (and even then, it only helped with the kicker on a couple powers if you took Intelligent Blademaster). Now, with Greater Swordmage Warding helping to bring up your AC and dealing with some of your feat dependency, it's worth starting with 12, post-racial. Only go to the high end if you're an assault swordmage, preferably one with a decent Dexterity to allow for heavy blade weapon feats. (Recommended Starting Score: 10-16, before racial adjustments)
Constitution - This is the secondary ability of choice for most swordmages. It gives you more hit points, more healing surges, and if you're a shielding swordmage, more damage prevented with your aegis. (Recommended Starting Score: 12-16, before racial adjustments)
Dexterity - Intelligence is going to be affecting your Reflex defense, and you don't have any class skills affected by this ability. The reasons to avoid dumping this ability are initiative and feat prerequisites, especially weapon feats. If you don't care about those feats or a -1 to initiative, then go ahead and dump it. (Recommended Starting Score: 8-12, before racial adjustments)
Intelligence - This affects your attacks, your AC and Reflex defenses, two of your class skills, and is basically used as a yardstick for how effective you'll be. Start high, and raise every opportunity. (Recommended Starting Score: 16-18, before racial adjustments)
Wisdom - You need to get your Will defense from somewhere. This helps one of your class skills and your passive Perception. It also becomes very valuable if you take the Wandering Swordmage paragon path. (Recommended Starting Score: 8-14, before racial adjustments)
Charisma - You may get two class skills which key off it, but other people will typically have better modifiers with them. There's also a skill power which ameliorates a low score here. Worth boosting if you get a racial bonus - as I said in Wisdom, you need to get your Will defense from somewhere. (Recommended Starting Score: 8-12, before racial adjustments)
Arcana - Automatic skill for you, but it's worth it. It's based off Intelligence, helps identify several nasties, and works well enough in a lot of skill challenges. Athletics - This is used for jumping, climbing, swimming, and escapes from grabs. You aren't going to do so well with Acrobatics. Diplomacy - Someone else better than you will almost always have this trained. Diplomacy is too important otherwise. Endurance - You'll have a good modifier here if you favor Constitution. The only reason to avoid training it is if your DM doesn't use the things (disease, rough terrain, etc.) that would require you to roll it. It also has a couple of strong skill powers (Reactive Surge being a fun one). History - More for the skill challenges than anything else. It does work off Intelligence, so you'll have a good modifier there. Insight - This is the main reason to favor Wisdom over Charisma (that, and Wandering Swordmage). It's also something for you to use during social time, where you can assist without fear of causing a failure. Finally, Insight has some of the best choices for skill powers. It's not enough to improve the skill to blue because swordmages have good utility powers already, but if you have an extra feat to grab the Skill Power feat, take a look at what's available.
Intimidate - Someone else will probably have Charisma as a primary ability. That person will be more intimidating. On the off-chance that the resident social monkey doesn't have it trained, it's worth taking.
Acrobatics - Worth taking if you're a race that gets a Dexterity bonus (or racial skill bonus). The main benefits are escaping from grabs and negating falling damage (the former more than the latter, especially at higher levels).
Bluff - See Diplomacy.
Dungeoneering- Very campaign-dependent, and if it's important, someone with a Wisdom-based class will take it before you.
Heal - The Heal checks you'll trigger are at a low enough DC that you don't need to be trained.
Nature - This skill helps in different skill challenges than your other skills, and having it trained allows you to identify more enemy types.
Perception - It's nice to have, but know that someone else will probably be better at it than you. It can get you acting in a surprise round, which makes it more valuable than the other non-class skills.
Religion - You might have a better skill check than another divine character who's trained in it, thanks to favoring Intelligence. It also allows you to identify more enemy types.
Stealth - You are not a rogue. A lack of armor penalty doesn't mean you're good at sneaking. Your Dexterity bonus won't keep up with monsters' passive perception checks.
Streetwise - See Intimidate.
Thievery - Can't anyone else do this? You're not going to have a high Dexterity, and thieves' tools can only go so far.
Earthforger (HotEC) - The level 1 power's main drawback (slowed) matters less to someone who can teleport everywhere. At level 10, being able to reduce forced movement can be very nice. The level 2 swap also comes in handy for assault swordmages, and it even scales. Of course, it is campaign-dependent (aerial and underwater combat both remove nearly all its benefits).
Elemental Initiate (HotEC) - Disciplined Counter helps out nicely with a catch-22, while the level 10 feature boosts one of your secondary defenses. Both the level 6 and 10 powers can be worth swapping for, though remember that the level feature's power bonus to Will doesn't stack with the power bonuses from the optional utility powers.
Fey Beast Tamer (HotFey) - You're able to gain just as great a benefit from a +1 power bonus to all defenses (or +2 power bonus to damage) and easy CA as any other PC. Nothing special about it, though, and the companions don't share your defenses or your mobility.
Gladiator (DSCS) - Strong encounter attack, and Keep them Close is a great epic feat. Gladiator Champion also doesn't require a fighter multiclass if you take this theme.
Guardian (D399) - A strong encounter attack power (Lightning Rush junior), and a useful level 10 feature if you get your DM to say your bonded charge can be one of your fellow PCs. Even the bonuses to Insight and Perception aren't bad. It does become less useful when you get enough immediate action attacks that another one doesn't help.
Harper Agent (NW) - The features are somewhat disappointing in that there's really only one of them (that grows more flexible), but hitting when you would have missed or saving when you would have failed can come in handy. Spellscarred Harbinger (NW) is pretty similar in terms of flexibility of effects without gaining more of them.
Noble Adept (DSCS) - Ignore the power swaps. You're taking this theme for a generic d20 roll booster, and it's good enough to stand on its own. Helping out your allies or yourself means it should always have a chance to change a miss into a hit (or a failed saving throw into a successful one).
Order Adept (D399) - Guh. The attack's the worst part of this theme, and it isn't that bad in heroic. Wizards have excellent utilities that even rival what swordmages get naturally, and a bonus to Arcana and Will to boot? It's a mighty strong choice.
Primal Guardian (DSCS) - You're taking this theme for its power swaps. While the encounter powers aren't quite as good as Dimensional Vortex or Transposing Lunge (for shielding swordmages), the daily attacks are nearly as good as full warden dailies. Encounter-long benefits are good to have.
Sohei (D404) - The point of this theme for you is not the minor action attack (though you probably will get some use from it): it is access to all the utilities that defenders can use to avoid being dazed/stunned/dominated. That level 10 feature also helps with that. Of course, if you have the action, an extra smack in the face isn't bad.
In all of my builds, I will begin by leaving out any magic items that are not required for the build to function and assume that the campaign is using inherent bonuses to compensate. Please note that these builds are not fully optimized. Most of them will have a few feats which can swapped out to taste, or to take advantage of party synergies, and the choice of race is usually not fixed in stone. The Eternal must be a revenant, but the choice of soul is up to you. The Elemental Warriors both work best with a specific race (eladrin for the Bralani Wintersoul paragon path, and tiefling for the racial feats and epic destiny). Trying to stay on the bleeding edge of optimization requires a lot of upkeep, and is more vulnerable to errata. They are optimized enough to show the themes of each of the builds.
All feats which are colored red are primarily offensive in nature, while feats colored blue are primarily defensive (either defensive of the swordmage, or of his party). This coloring can differ between builds. An assault swordmage who doesn't focus on Strength would need Intelligent Blademaster for offense with the aegis-granted attacks, while an ensnaring swordmage who takes that feat to have a more threatening OA is using it more as defense. This way, if your group needs a more aggressive swordmage, or if you’re the secondary defender, you have a better idea of which feats to swap out.
The purpose of this build is to show how a revenant swordmage can work, despite lacking the ever-important bonus to Intelligence. I found that spending the extra points for Int 18 weakened the rest of the build too much (inability to qualify for Greater Swordmage Warding is rough, as are very low defenses), but 17 was doable. There are a few free feats that can be swapped to taste, namely Death's Blessing, Shared Danger Sense, and the two Vistani feats. You can also lose Epic Reflexes without exposing yourself to a great deal of danger. The choice of githzerai soul was made primarily for access to Githzerai Blademaster, though it also adds a nice bit of story justification for the Planeshaper epic destiny. Once you gain Fierce Vitality in paragon, you fight better while dying than with hit points. Only get your leader to help you when you're close to negative bloodied, or when you've failed enough death saves.
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Deadhead, level 30 Revenant, Swordmage, Coronal Guard, Planeshaper Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Shielding Choose your Race in Life: Githzerai Background: Cursed (+2 to Intimidate) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 14, Con 24, Dex 14, Int 26, Wis 10, Cha 16.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 12, Con 14, Dex 10, Int 17, Wis 8, Cha 13.
The purpose of this build is to take advantage of the many ways an ensnaring swordmage has to slow or immobilize targets. This pays dividends in paragon tier when Deadly Immobilization becomes available. Between that and Heavy Blade Opportunity combining with Sudden Roots (the reason for the multiclass warden), any opportunity attack you do adds your Constitution modifier to the damage, and at level 18, gives you combat advantage against the target. The choice of genasi elemental manifestations gives you added longevity. If your enemies can't get away from you and start attacking you, you've got three encounter immediate interrupts to reduce the damage they deal.
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Ember, level 30 Genasi, Swordmage, Scion of Absence, Demigod Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Ensnarement Divine Spark: Divine Spark Constitution Divine Spark: Divine Spark Intelligence Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade) Elemental Manifestation: Cindersoul Extra Manifestation: Voidsoul
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 17, Con 24, Dex 16, Int 28, Wis 10, Cha 12.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 13, Con 14, Dex 14, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 10.
While the Thunderball has weakened considerably with the loss of Expand Spell, it's still reasonably effective. The purpose of this build is to use as many close burst powers as possible to affect all the enemies around you. The name of the build comes from the Resounding Thunder/Arcane Admixture combination which changes Sword Burst into close burst 2 by giving it the thunder keyword. Other powers chosen either can be used outside of the normal turn order or are also close attacks which can benefit from Resounding Thunder. The example below uses the Wandering Swordmage paragon path to get a ridiculously large aegis (close burst 9), and chooses the Chosen of Erathis epic destiny in order to get a crit range of 16-20 on all uses of Sword Burst in an encounter.
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Mad Max, level 30 Deva, Swordmage, Wandering Swordmage, Chosen Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Shielding Divine Spark: Divine Spark Intelligence Divine Spark: Divine Spark Wisdom Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade) Arcane Admixture Damage Type: Arcane Admixture Thunder Arcane Admixture Power: Sword Burst Quickened Spellcasting: Sword Burst Background: Thay (Thay Benefit)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 14, Con 14, Dex 12, Int 30, Wis 24, Cha 10.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 12, Con 12, Dex 10, Int 18, Wis 12, Cha 8.
The purpose of this build is to use the combination of Polearm Momentum, Mark of Storm, Rushing Cleats, and Arcane Admixture (thunder) to make any single power slide each target it hits 2 squares and knock those targets prone. As with the Thunderball build, Sword Burst is the best choice for such a power, since it can hit the greatest number of targets every given round. Compared to the Thunderball build, this build focuses more on control than on pure damage. Two examples of the build are given.
The first is a shadar-kai assault swordmage which can also use Polearm Momentum with its aegis of assault attacks (Booming Blade) thanks to the Sword of Assault paragon path. It makes use of Archlich to help increase damage after teleporting in with an aegis attack, as well as to improve some defensive capabilities. Shadow, Shadar-Kai SwordmageShow
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Shadow, level 30 Shadar-kai, Swordmage, Sword of Assault, Archlich Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Assault Arcane Admixture Damage Type: Arcane Admixture Thunder Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade) Arcane Admixture Power: Sword Burst Quickened Spellcasting: Sword Burst Background: Auspicious Birth (Auspicious Birth Benefit)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 22, Con 13, Dex 16, Int 28, Wis 16, Cha 10.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 14, Con 11, Dex 12, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 8.
ITEMS Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Glaive, Leather Armor ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
The second is an eladrin shielding swordmage that is more defensively oriented, trying to keep away from any targets it has marked to ensure the use of an immediate interrupt in any given turn. As a note, this character uses Sage of Ages as its epic destiny. While only basic equipment is given here, a full build of this character would have every source of Arcana bonus that it can find once it hits level 26. Trick of Knowledge is worth it. Thanks to mellored for providing the initial basis for this build in this thread.
This came out of two things: a burst 2 Swordburst is tons of fun, and Psychic Lock is powerful when you hit multiple targets.
Overview: The Psychic Lock feat is an incredibly powerful tool. It essentially gives +2 defenses to all your allies (and yourself!) vs. any affected targets. That makes your job of defending easier. So we use a Githyanki Silver Sword to make our powers do Psychic damage, and have the Psychic keyword.
But it only really works well if you can affect multiple opponents. So it synergizes very well with AoEs. Hence, it would synergize very well with an enlarged Swordburst.
If you've had a chance to play a Swordmage that does a burst 2 Swordburst, you know how potent this is (and how much fun it is). You triple the amount of squares you affect (from 8 to 24). I attack about 3 targets on average (usually all the melee enemies). Combined with potent disincentives (Transposing Lunge, Dimensional Vortex, etc...) it's also not uncommon to draw a lot of heat, hence White Lotus feats (plus Psychic Lock which also benefits you) become very useful.
To do this we use the Resounding Thunder feat, which requires us to have powers with the Thunder keyword. That's where the Primordial Blade ability of the Malec-Keth Janissary comes in. It adds 1d4 extra thunder damage to all your attacks. This adds the Thunder keyword to all your powers. For this framework, hitting and multi-marking are very important. Your Psychic Lock, Imm Interrupt Swordmage powers, and White Lotus feats that make this framework fun will benefit from multi-marking and hitting consistently. Fortunately, as soon as you hit Paragon you should be marking 3+ targets every combat (Double Aegis + Swordmage's Decree, + other situational powers).
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Corwynn, level 30 Human, Swordmage, Malec-Keth Janissary, Ceaseless Guardian Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Shielding Devshirme Training: Gain Training in a skill Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade) Guardian Mindfulness: Guardian Mindfulness Intelligence Background: Gray Vale (Gray Vale Benefit)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 14, Con 24, Dex 10, Int 28, Wis 14, Cha 12
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 12, Con 16, Dex 8, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 10.
All the way back in Dragon 367, swordmages had an article which provided some heroic-tier powers for fire, cold, lightning, and thunder. Some of these powers, such as Dimensional Thunder, were good for any swordmage. Many of them were only good as part of a theme. Now, nearly two years later, there has been enough support for these elemental-themed characters to make them competitive. Two such swordmages follow - Chill, the eladrin swordmage themed around cold, and Singe, the tiefling swordmage themed around fire.
Chill has enough choices with swordmage cold powers that he doesn't need to take a frost or chillwind weapon. With his paragon path's level 16 feature, any enemy that starts its turn next to him is slowed until the end of his turn. This makes him very sticky for an assault swordmage, especially in conjunction with Frigid Blade (which is nearly as good as immobilization). There's also good synergy between Lasting Frost/Wintertouched and Starborn, increasing the damage of your attacks even further. Obviously, if you can get a frost or chillwind weapon, you have more freedom in power selection (as well as getting the LF/W bonus on your aegis of assault attacks).
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Chill, level 30 Eladrin, Swordmage, Bralani Wintersoul, Radiant One Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Assault Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade) Arcane Admixture Damage Type: Arcane Admixture Cold Arcane Admixture Power: Sword Burst
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 14, Con 24, Dex 13, Int 26, Wis 10, Cha 15.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 12, Con 16, Dex 11, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 13.
Singe makes use of the newest Class Acts: Wizards article to pick up a couple of nice wizard feats and a new paragon path: the Master of Flame. As a result, he sets fire to things like no other. Singe uses a Longsword of Summer to give all of his attacks the Fire keyword. The primary combination of this build is the level 16 feature of Master of Flame, Swath of Destruction, and any and all fire-based bursts. Of course, with the appropriate weapon, all bursts are fire-based. At epic tier, Singe gives all enemies he is marking vulnerability to fire against his attacks, which works well in conjunction with Consuming the Weak to make sure that enemies will almost always be taking 5 ongoing fire damage (or up to 18 if he scores a critical hit against them). Should they save against it, they take an additional 15 cold damage from Icy Clutch of Stygia, and the process repeats.
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Singe, level 30 Tiefling, Swordmage, Master of Flame, Heir to the Empire Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Shielding Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade) Arcane Admixture Damage Type: Arcane Admixture Fire Arcane Admixture Power: Sword Burst
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 14, Con 24, Dex 12, Int 28, Wis 10, Cha 18.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 12, Con 16, Dex 10, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 12.
The Sigil Carver paragon path is so good that its main drawback (requiring that allies remain adjacent to you to gain most of its benefits) can be small enough that allies will choose to remain close by, despite the difficulties with flanking and susceptibility to bursts and blasts. Punishing Sigil, already a strong punishment, gets even stronger when it can be used to negate an attack. This build makes use of a Staggering Weapon along with Eldritch Strike to make an opportunity attack against any marked enemy within 5 squares which hits an adjacent ally. If you hit, that attacker gets slid 7 squares - enough to cancel most melee-range attacks. While not required, this build also benefits from magic items which increase teleportation distance, provide benefits for teleporting (such as the bonus from a Cloak of Translocation), or Arcana bonuses to help with Sage of Ages.
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== Vari, level 30 Half-Elf, Swordmage, Sigil Carver, Sage of Ages Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Shielding Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Light Blade) Pact Initiate: Pact Initiate (star pact) Eldritch Strike: Eldritch Strike Constitution Background: Aerenal (+2 to Arcana)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 14, Con 26, Dex 12, Int 24, Wis 10, Cha 16.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 12, Con 16, Dex 10, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 12.
ITEMS Staggering Longsword +6, Leather Armor ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
Swordmages may only have one multiclass, like all non-bards. Hybrid swordmages will not be covered in this handbook. The ratings given below are made with that in mind. Only classes with a rating of black or higher are listed below. While an individual multiclass feat might be rated black or higher in the Feats section, it doesn't offer capabilities as good as these feats in terms of access to feats, paragon paths, and epic destinies.
Artificer/Cleric/Warlord - Each of these classes gives you access to a daily minor action heal. This is best saved to keep you conscious, or to revive a dying character when other heals are exhausted. Cleric and warlord also give you access to divine and martial feats, respectively, which can be of some use.
Fighter - This is a strong choice for a multiclass. Although the skills are underwhelming, fighter multiclass feats improve your abilities as a defender, and give you access to martial feats and fighter feats. One of these feats (Polearm Momentum) is used as the basis for one of the builds listed above.
Shaman - Unlike the other leader multiclasses, taking the initial multiclass feat for shaman doesn't give you a daily heal. Instead, it gives you a spirit companion and a daily (tiny) skill boost power. The spirit companion is best used to control enemy movement - it uses your defenses and ignores close and area attacks, so most enemies won't waste the action to try to destroy it. The follow-up multiclass feat gives you a encounter heal, making you much more capable as a secondary healer (and giving you more longevity each encounter if no one else needs the healing).
Warden - A warden multiclass improves your defending capabilities as did the fighter, but while the fighter showed the aggressive side of defending, warden improves the defensive side. The first feat improves your multimarking abilities, and the follow-up feat gives you an extra saving throw once per encounter at the start of your turn. This also grants access to primal and warden class feats (the most important of which is Sudden Roots, which dramatically expands your stickiness).
Wizard - Wizard opens up a number of interesting paragon paths, and it allows you to cherry-pick a nice power if you want more control. There are a few good choices at each tier to improve your controlling capabilities, especially with daily attacks.
Arcane Lance (D405) - You're better off using a glaive and taking Frigid Blade - that does more damage and doesn't require you to ride a mount (which can't follow when you teleport).
Booming Blade (FRPG) - This power does solid damage on a hit, and it also helps make you a little more sticky. If they choose to run away from you, then the damage done is actually respectable.
Frigid Blade (D367) - This power gets better and better as you level. By the time you've reached paragon, it's mostly equivalent to slow. At epic, it can act as immobilize against some enemies, and will slow most of the rest. It's also an at-will cold spell, so it works in conjunction with Lasting Frost/Wintertouched without requiring a frost blade.
Frostwind Blade (PHH 2) - Not too useful in heroic, where you're only going to have one enemy marked for most of the fight. It improves a bit when you can have sustained multimarking capabilities, but even then, its range for the extra damage is somewhat limited, and you're less likely to use it when you have more encounters. Frigid Blade's a stronger choice for a cold-themed at-will.
Greenflame Blade (FRPG) - This power helps to clear out minions... if they're bunched up, and they don't resist fire. It's not a bad choice, but the extra damage scales too slowly to help at later levels.
Lightning Lure (FRPG) - Lightning Lure is the only ranged at-will for a swordmage, but its main use is to pull enemies over so that you can hit them. Remember that vertical forced movement is generally a no-no. That said, you can still sometimes use this power to pull an enemy through damaging terrain (or even off a cliff, if you're standing next to one), which makes this a good third power for a human swordmage.
Luring Strike (AP) - Luring Strike has low damage, even for a class that already does low damage compared to the other classes. The advantages it brings are increased mobility, and some battlefield control. It can be used to pull an enemy away from an ally, giving the ally a chance to get free, or to position the enemy for combat advantage against one or more attacks.
Sword Burst (FRPG) - It's a close burst 1 that does force damage (so it's unlikely to be resisted). It's your only choice for an area-of-effect at-will. Fortunately, it's a good one. The size of the burst can be expanded with feats, and it only targets enemies, making it the linchpin for a couple of combinations.
Blazing Pursuit (AP) - This power's usefulness depends on whether your enemies try to run away from you. Less useful for assault swordmages (despite the kicker) and ensnaring swordmages, who have their own ways of getting next to an enemy that gets away from them.
Chilling Blow (FRPG) - Chilling Blow is most effective against multi-attackers (such as controllers, artillery, elites, and solos). That said, at the levels where you'll be using it, you probably won't have a great Constitution modifier (+3, maybe +4 if you take a race with a Con bonus rather than an Int bonus).
Crackling Burst (AP) - It's like Sword Burst, but it doesn't avoid allies and does less damage unless the targets move (in which case it does 1 more damage, on average). Avoid.
Dimensional Cleave (D405) - Triggering this power (and its big brothers) reliably requires another encounter power which teleports a creature next to you. That makes it too hard to use unless you're building around it. It's slightly better for ensnaring swordmages, but all you get from this power is the same thing that assault swordmages get naturally.
Falcon's Mark (AP) - Double marking powers are strong anytime, and this can also help out a swordmage who can't close in on a good target, either due to terrain or status conditions. It's even stronger for the ensnaring swordmages, who get a second target for their aegis.
Flame Cyclone (FRPG) - The first close blast you can take. It's basically equivalent to an at-will for a sorcerer, but if you don't have a controller in your group who can dish out the area damage, that area damage might save your behind in a few fights (and the power improves to blue).
Foesnare (FRPG) - Your first immobilizing power. The ability to use it while charging shouldn't be ignored, since it means you can still do something useful as a defender even if dazed. Charging also improves your attack bonus.
Fox's Feint (AP) - Swapping positions with the target is only situationally useful - mainly to get the target into a flank. This power is black for ensnaring swordmages, but they're probably better off with Falcon's Mark or Foesnare.
Lightning Clash (FRPG) - You'll usually be better off with Flame Cyclone which does more damage to the targets it hits and hits more targets.
Sword of Sigils (AP) - So, I can mark anyone that I hit with a close burst 1 attack, do more damage to them if they ignore the mark equal to White Lotus Riposte, and it gives a mini-shielding aegis to the shielding swordmage? This power is a strong choice.
Binding Aegis (D405) - The nice part is "effect". Immobilize can stop a lot of monsters in heroic, and you get the attack later as needed. The main downside is "only targeting a marked enemy", so you have to get close before using it.
Blade of Judgment (D385) - Blade of Judgment can be used when an ally is hit with an area effect, even if you are also targeted. The target also doesn’t need to be marked with your aegis (despite the flavor text). It’s slightly better for ensnaring swordmages to give them a damage option instead of their aegis power’s CA+repositioning, and slightly weaker for assaultmages who can already do something similar.
Burning Blade (FRPG) - This power is unconscionably weak if you only make the minimal investment in Strength. Assault swordmages who do bump Strength get a much better use out of it, though they still need to use it early in the fight to gain the most benefit. For them, it improves to black.
Dance of the Sword (AP) - This is the first "hypno-sword" power. It comes with low damage, but it targets Will and comes with a large area of effect that only targets enemies. Hit or miss, the targets won't be making OAs, so you and your allies nearby can move freely for at least a turn. Improves to blue if you can expand its size.
Dimensional Thunder (D367) - Dimensional Thunder is a weapon attack against a NAD, which is a positive (even when the NAD is Fortitude). It comes with movement baked into the power, which can be very helpful when you're almost but not quite where you need to be, or if you're dazed and would otherwise have to charge. It has decent damage for a swordmage power, and no matter what, all enemies adjacent to you will be taking ongoing damage. Very strong indeed.
Dragon's Teeth (AP) - Large area of effect, and it only targets enemies. Unfortunately, its main benefit is Strength-based, so it's primarily of use to assault swordmages (and is black for them).
Frost Backlash (FRPG) - This is the highest single-target damage power you'll see for another 14 levels. Its main use is to give your enemy no good choices for a big battle - hit your ally and trigger your mark, or hit you and take a 3[W] weapon attack against a NAD. The main reason it's not rated light blue is that you can't always get the enemy to hit you when you want to use the power.
Lashing Asp (AP) - This stance is a minion killer, but there's easier ways to kill minions. It is otherwise similar to Burning Blade (bonus damage based on secondary ability), and using Constitution instead of Strength isn't enough to help it. There are better utility stances to use than this "attack".
Sweeping Frostblade (AP) - This will always immobilize, at least for a little while. It's also another enemy-only burst, giving it good synergy with expanding the burst size.
Vanishing Blade (D390) - This daily attack power would have worked slightly better as a utility power (probably a stance). You don't care much about whether you hit with this power, but the effect gives you great protection for a round and then excellent mobility for the remainder of the encounter. Especially fun for assault swordmages who can use it to punish their aegis targets, then dart back out.
Warding Flourish (D374) - An interesting choice here - you're not immobilizing, but you get most of the benefit of immobilization if you're attacking melee-based enemies (without reach). It can pin enemies, and also allows your allies to push them around a little. With the right terrain, that's very useful.
Whirling Blade (FRPG) - A pseudo-reliable ranged 5 attack that does 2[W] damage. Range isn't that valuable to you, and the Miss benefit means you're probably not hitting the target that you wanted to.
Arcane Transport (AP) - At level 2, you probably don't have too many teleportation powers. At later levels, when you do have those powers, you probably still want something stronger than this. If it were an encounter power, it'd be worthwhile. As it stands, it isn't.
Channeling Shield (AP) - You get a mini-aegis of shielding which works against any attack (against you, from a creature you don't have marked...), and if you are a shielding swordmage, it also gives you a damage boost. Unfortunately, the damage it prevents doesn't scale well, and so it's down to black by late paragon and epic.
Dimensional Warp (FRPG) - Swapping places with an ally or swapping two allies' places comes in handy more often than one would think at first. It can get an ally that was surrounded out of trouble, or allow two allies to make use of the same space to flank on their turns. It's a minor action to use, so you can also use it to get a little burst of speed yourself if needed.
Eldritch Speed (FRPG) - Nice for when you know that you need to get in fast. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell ahead of time when that is.
Elemental Aegis (D367) - 99% of the time, Channeling Shield will be much more useful. This only prevents elemental energy damage, doesn't help you, and requires the attacking enemy to be marked by you. The 1% of the time where the ally's hit with multiple attacks and the resistance works multiple times isn't worth it.
Fear No Elements (FRPG) - Most campaigns will have a fair number of fights where there's a particularly damaging energy type. With this power, you don't need to have the right equipment ahead of time.
Ghost Step (AP) - You can shift through difficult terrain with this power, and it helps a lot with positioning. I prefer more defensive stances, but your mileage may vary.
Host of Shields (AP) - Simple, yet effective. The benefit is equally applicable at higher levels, and it can keep you up during a long solo battle while your mark protects your allies.
Mythal Recovery (FRPG) - At lower levels, there are fewer killer status effects. As you level up and dazes and blinds get thrown around, this power (or similar powers) become more valuable. It increases to blue by paragon tier.
Price of Ensnarement (D382) - Price of Ensnarement gives you a damage bonus against slowed or immobilized enemies, and adds a small attack bonus if you're an ensnaring swordmage. The value of this stance is based on your party as well as your personal build. If you're the only one with slowing and immobilizing powers, it's not useful as a level 2 utility (since you probably only have a single encounter power that slows or immobilizes). If you're in a party with a wizard with Ray of Frost, then it improves immensely. Once you reach a higher level, you may find it worth retraining into if you're already focused on that branch of powers or have taken advantage of Sudden Roots.
Spellbinder’s Gift (D385) - This can be used to hit vulnerabilities (including vulnerabilities you created) or to avoid resistances if your party's weapons are already doing elemental damage. The former, you want more than one encounter per day (especially at the cost of a minor to sustain), and the latter is unlikely. Weapon attacks don't often have associated elemental damage.
Ward of Brilliance (AP) - It's like the wizard's shield, only it's a daily and only works against melee attacks from a marked target. Ignore the part about blinding if the attack - your turn will come before the enemy's turn, so it's basically "grants CA and can't make OAs" until you next act.
Special Mention: Arcane Mutterings (PHB3) - While this is a skill power, it's one for which every swordmage qualifies. Remember what I said above about avoiding Charisma and training in most social skills? This lets you use Arcana in place of three of the four main social checks, once per encounter. If it's a skill challenge, once per encounter is probably enough to make a meaningful contribution so you're not stuck wishing that you had more useful skills. This is the most generally useful of the Arcana skill powers, even if it's not normally useful in combat.
Blades of Fiery Wrath (D382) - This power is competing at the same slot as Transposing Lunge and Dimensional Vortex. Fortunately, it is a decent choice thanks to its free action and trigger. The White Lotus feats already make it attractive to have a swordmage who uses a lot of at-will attacks. With this spell, you can use your at-will attacks and have a good fallback if your first attack misses.
Blastback Swipe (FRPG) - Here's a power with a lot of stuff going on. Weapon attack versus NAD, can be used during charging, and if you're an assault swordmage, used in place of an MBA when your aegis triggers. The push 2 isn't shabby either. Stronger for assault swordmages, but not enough to go to light blue.
Blazing Lunge (AP) - Blazing Lunge does more damage than Blastback Swipe and targets a slightly better defense, but its damage is more easily resisted and it doesn't have any control elements.
Corrosive Ruin (FRPG) - This power was ok when it was Flame Cyclone, but this does less damage and targets Fortitude. Making the damage acid is a minor benefit, but powers are also supposed to be better as you level up, not equal.
Dimensional Vortex (AP) - The existence of Dimensional Vortex is the only reason that Transposing Lunge isn't gold for shielding swordmages. You don't need to have the target marked (making it especially useful in the early rounds of combat), and it's an attack against Will. You can reverse an attack that could have dropped one of your allies. It's slightly better for shielding swordmages, but any flavor of swordmage makes use of it effectively.
Dual Lightning Strike (AP) - Two attacks against two distant enemies is good, and marking them means that they'll try to come after you. The power also has teleportation built in as an effect, which means it can be used to get you into a flank for the second attack (or just let you move if you were immobilized).
Incendiary Sword (D367) - This is the swordmage's sole area burst against Will. It's a strange power, but its low range and inability to discriminate between allies and enemies means that it's not of as much use as it first appears. If your DM tries hard to avoid the extra damage, it works better as a little soft control.
Shadow Snake Lunge (AP) - If I wanted to immobilize a creature, I'd use a power that did it directly. If I wanted to use a power that did more damage if the target moved away, I'd use Booming Blade.
Sloth Strike (FRPG) - Would you do an extra 1[W] damage and change immobilized into slowed? That's basically what this power does when compared to Foesnare. I'd rather have the strong lockdown than the extra ~5 damage.
Transposing Lunge (FRPG) - This power is only average for two of the swordmage builds (teleporting your target adjacent to you helps positioning and sometimes with terrain), but the kicker for shielding swordmages makes it light blue for them. It is used as part of your aegis activation, so even if you don't hit (and potentially pull the target to where its attack fizzles), you'll still prevent some damage. For a good shielding swordmage, this is close to a free action.
Unseen Gauntlet (AP) - Speaking of movement denial, Unseen Gauntlet does a good job of immobilizing a target at range. Against a melee-based enemy, this is nearly as good as a stun. If it didn't target Fortitude (the best defense for brutes, who are also the most melee-based), it'd be blue.
Deep Freeze (FRPG) - This power forces enemies to keep away from the creature that you've attacked. The initial attack itself is somewhat underwhelming, but this means that a stronger use of the power is to hit yourself or an ally with it. Yeah, it's harder for swordmages to get Rain of Steel, but the damage is just as nice.
Dimensional Bond (AP) - I'm not sure who's supposed to use this power. I guess it's shielding swordmages who want to follow their aegis target - assault and ensnaring swordmages have their own ways of keeping up with the enemies they have marked.
Elemental Foible (FRPG) - Ignore the attack and hit line of this power. Giving an enemy vulnerability to elemental damage is the main shtick, and if the party can take advantage, then this power is huge. If they can't, it isn't.
Energy Theft (AP) - Like Elemental Foible, this power's attack and hit don't matter. By making the vulnerability (save ends), you give your party a minor resistance to that energy type. Against creatures doing typed damage (e.g. the undead with necrotic, or a variety of elementals), this resistance can turn a hard combat into an easy one. It's unfortunate that it acts more like a utility power when you use it this way. If your DM regularly uses encounters with a "theme" type of damage, then this power increases to blue.
Enervating Slash (AP) - So it's like weakened in almost every way, but with a different name. The creatures it hurts the most are the ones most likely to save against it. Pass.
Lingering Lightning (FRPG) - Nice visual, but the low range hurts it. Still, the chance for hitting three targets around you with ongoing damage keeps it from dropping to purple.
Mark of the Hound (AP) - The effect isn't that great. The damage is good for a swordmage (which is mediocre for most other classes). You have better options.
Purifying Wound (AP) - This power is worse than Dimensional Thunder, and it comes at a higher level. Pass on it.
(Swordmage) Shielding Fire (D367) - This power has a different name in the compendium than in the Dragon article. Shielding Fire's damage is almost besides the point (though its damage is on the high side if you hit). Permanently marking an enemy from across the battlefield (with your aegis, no less) is very useful, and it doesn't prevent you from using your aegis normally. For a shielding swordmage, this makes the aegis of shielding into a decent offense. Your mark's much less likely to be ignored now. This power is light blue for a shielding swordmage.
Theft of Alacrity (D382) - As a plus, this is an attack against Will, which is nice. The ability to teleport after the enemy is situationally useful for repositioning, but you probably won't need it to pursue the enemy (unlike what the flavor text would suggest). Enemies that are immobilized or slowed tend to have trouble getting away from you...
Armanthor's Step (FRPG) - Now any race can gain the same sort of mobility as eladrin, shadar-kai, and shardminds. This power is less useful for those races who already have a racial encounter teleport, but they still benefit from the power bonus that comes after the teleportation (into a flank, hopefully). It can also help a great deal outside of combat. There's a reason that eladrin buildings don't have ground floor windows...
Dimensional Warding (FRPG) - Enemies can't teleport around you while this stance is active. For most of them, this is no change from the usual. There are some times where this can be vital, however, so it's not all the way down to red. As you go higher in paragon and epic tiers and are more likely to face teleporting enemies, this power goes up to black.
Eldritch Quagmire (D405) - You get to be a warden with Winter's Herald. For ensnaring swordmages, it can negate an opponent's turn once, making it stronger.
Fate-Spurned Foe (FRPG) - You don't have that many (save ends) effects, and those you have aren't that bad. This power is nice for a wizard which multiclasses into swordmage, though.
Nimbus of Shielding (D382) - Nimbus of Shielding competes with a lot of good utility powers at level 6. The basic effect (+1 to AC to adjacent allies) is very limited. With the shielding swordmage kicker, it also helps with non-AC defenses, which is a bit more useful (protecting against burst effects, which typically target non-AC defenses). That said, it's still very positioning dependent, and I have a bias against powers which constrain your ability to move freely around the battlefield.
Quickling Stride (AP) - Double move as a single move action. Too bad that in most battlefields, teleporting 5 is better than moving 12.
Silversteel Veil (FRPG) - Not a bad power. It protects you and your nearby allies (with an untyped bonus, even), and it has the Force keyword, so it can trigger your Solid Sound later. The only stain against it is that it can be hard to tell when it's best to use it.
Stride of the Gallant (D382) - Encounter-long teleport is very nice, but the restrictions on destination and the fact that it was made a daily stance rather than an encounter stance (as it was originally) keep it from being a very strong choice. If you've got things which increase your teleportation distance, then you can get more use out of the stance, and it's accordingly higher rated.
Swordmage's Decree (AP) - You get a double mark each encounter, or a super-mark once in a day. The utility of this utility power goes down in paragon and epic when you have access to Double Aegis and Total Aegis, but this power still works even then to mark more targets than you'd otherwise be able to.
Unicorn's Touch (AP) - After the errata, it's garbage. Alas, we hardly knew ye.
Variable Defense (D367) - The damage resistance is limited to elemental types, it's of a low magnitude, and the ability to change it won't come in handy often enough to justify it over Fear No Elements.
Zephyr of the Barren Sands (AP) - While teleportation is still usually more useful than flight, flight still gets around difficult terrain and many enemies, and you don't need line of sight to your final destination. That keeps this power in the black.
Dazing Rebuke (AP) - This power's timing is all sorts of messed up, and it uses up your immediate action. Save that for something better.
Echoes of Sword Magic (D382) - The first blue power of level 7. This power has the same advantages as Blades of Fiery Wrath back at level 3, but it also does thunder damage (harder to resist, and works with Resounding Thunder) and marks the targets you hit for a turn (with your aegis, no less).
Evoker's Summoning (D385) - The power wants to be good. It's against Will (which makes the force damage somewhat puzzling), but its effect is basically the equivalent of the fighter's Come and Get It, but against a single enemy that only moves the target if you hit (and with lower damage). I know they're different classes, but they're the same role, and if anything, the swordmage should have more battlefield control than the fighter.
Electrified Lash (FRPG) - It's more damaging than Sword Burst, but that's the only good thing that can be said of it. Too bad Sword Burst is an at-will attack.
Fettering Aegis (D405) - Major downside is the action type. It won't provoke from the mover (assuming it's his turn), but any other enemies can smack you. It's ok for non-ensnaring, and much stronger for ensnaring swordmages who force enemies to remain there. You're like a fighter!
Flamewall Strike (FRPG) - It's got interesting flavor, and is the closest thing that the swordmage has here to auto-damage. It could be worse.
Isolating Slam (FRPG) - Knock those enemies apart! Of course, if you miss with the primary attack (which is an MBA using Intelligence), you don't do anything. Even given that swordmages don't do much damage and this is only an encounter power, that's a little underwhelming.
Rejuvenating Strike (AP) - Rejuvenating Strike can keep you going through a tough fight, and is especially valuable if your leader hasn't focused on healing. The kicker for the ensnaring swordmage is nice, but minor.
Shatterblade (AP) - This is a larger Greenflame Blade, but at least it does Int damage to those adjacent foes. Wait, it also hits allies? This is a bit too dangerous to get good use out of it.
Sleet Strike (D367) - Despite my personal distaste for the flavor (moving doesn't make you fall prone, but shifting does?), the power is fairly effective at keeping enemies attacking you. If they don't, they'll either move away (provoking OAs) or shift and fall prone (no, I don't know why they'd do that either).
Spikes of Agony (FRPG) - This power is a larger Booming Blade. Sensing a pattern here? Since the extra damage isn't rolled, it doesn't benefit from any modifiers you have from enhancement bonuses, item bonuses, etc. That said, for assault swordmages, this power improves to black, as it helps to pin a mark who was already ignoring you.
Thunderclap Strike (AP) - Simple, but effective. This could be considered an improvement on Sword Burst, but there are enough differences to distinguish between them. This hits allies and targets Fortitude, but does twice as much damage and knocks targets prone.
Watchful Strike (AP) - The flavor text is only true for the assault swordmage. For them, this power is black. For everyone else, this power's less effective than Dual Lightning Strike back at level 3.
Arcane Deflection (AP) - This daily gives you a stance which you can use to protect your adjacent allies. That said, using that stance requires you to use an immediate action, so you can't use your aegis. Be aware of whether getting allies adjacent to you will be a help - there are plenty of nasty bursts by this level, and being able to block one of the attacks isn't so great if it means someone else gets hit. You're best at blocking NAD attacks against allies with weak NADs, since you're getting your proficiency bonus and the monster is taking a -2 to -4 penalty over an AC attack. Improves slightly for the Sigil Carver paragon path, which is going to have clustered allies anyway.
Be Gone (FRPG) - If this power only teleported an enemy away, it'd be ok, but not great. Thankfully, it's also Reliable, so it'll always hit, eventually. Very straight-forward, if a little dull.
Beacon Blade (FRPG) - Blinding is a very nice status condition. On the downside, the damage is low, and the effect won't come in handy against most enemies.
Blade Bolt (AP) - Another "throw your blade" power. It allows for a double mark (though it will disappear if you use your aegis again), and can slow a foe so that it might not be able to reach you. The weapon attack against a NAD is icing on the cake.
Dimensional Echoes (D382) - Dimensional Echoes is a weapon attack against Fortitude, which is nice. I wish that the damage were higher - it's equivalent to a level 1 encounter power from most classes, or a level 3 encounter power for the swordmage. The effect is good, but I don't know that it's enough to convince me to take the power. Single square teleportation is awful close to shifting, and the other half is nearly equal to sliding the enemy one square. If I had enough other teleporting goodness to justify taking Extended Teleportation, Dimensional Echoes looks a whole lot more inviting and improves to blue. Forceful Dismissal (AP) - Push and prone is a nice combination, and it still pushes with half damage on a miss. If you don't have many close blast powers thus far, this is a good one.
Glamor Blade (FRPG) - You can be in two places at once, as long as those two places are within 5 squares of one another. Battlefields are large enough in 4e that this won't help much with OAs. The damage is low to boot. Skip this power.
Hellspike Assault (AP) - Hellspike Assault gives you two weapon attacks against a NAD, as well as the movement to get to your second target. The damage on the second attack is pretty good for a swordmage to boot. Icy Sweep (D367) - The damage is off a secondary attribute, and sliding around you isn't nearly as good as teleporting anywhere within 5 squares. Take Be Gone if you like this sort of thing.
Isolating Aegis (D405) - Confusingly phrased for its effect (it is no one's ally, and no one is its ally). Unfortunately, an anti-leader effect is too rarely useful to justify this power.
Leaping Flames (D367) - If I could go lower than red, I would. If this attack misses, you've done half of 1d10 + Intelligence damage. Whoop-de-do. Even if you hit, the "traveling flames" move so slowly that you'll probably not catch another enemy with it.
Lightning Strider (D367) - High mobility, low damage. It helps you cross the field, but it doesn't do much to the enemies that were in your way.
Troll Rampage (AP) - Regeneration all combat (while bloodied) is nice. Charge for that extra +1 attack. If you miss, you'll still get a few hit points back, so keep that in mind when healing at the end of encounters. It might not be worth a surge if you think you'll start the next combat with this power. This power is normally best used around the middle of the combat, when you've got a better idea of how much benefit you'll get from bloodied regeneration.
Arcane Awareness (FRPG) - You don't grant CA for a turn. Wait until paragon, then take a feat which gets most of this benefit all the time.
Armor of Assault (AP) - Armor of Assault doesn't compare favorably to Host of Shields, a level 2 stance from Arcane Power. Host of Shields doesn't help with Fortitude or Will, but it also doesn't require you to hit with a melee weapon attack every round to get the benefit. There's also the level 10 vs. level 2 issue. Overall, stick with Host of Shields or Impenetrable Warding to improve your defenses.
Dimensional Dodge (FRPG) - Depending on how your DM rules on the timing, this may allow you to take an OA against a target trying to hit you with a ranged attack. Otherwise, it at least gets you in the target's face. Rated black assuming you get the OA, or purple if you don't.
Feywild Grace (AP) - Another stance to help you move around. The power bonuses to skills are nice, but the meat of the power is ignoring difficult terrain and an extra 2 speed. The value of this stance is dependent on how much the DM uses difficult terrain.
Impenetrable Warding (FRPG) - Your NADs are going to be lower than your AC, probably by quite a bit. Some of the nastier attacks from enemies target your NADs. This stance gives +3 to those NADs for most swordmages, and up to +5 for people who improve their warding to the utmost. This makes for a powerful stance.
Like a Feather (AP) - It's like Feather Fall, only more useful. Protecting against prone helps during combat more often than preventing falling damage. It's just unfortunate that it has such competition here. For those swordmages in campaigns set in Sharn, this power becomes gold.
Spider's Leap (AP) - If Like a Feather is about things going down, Spider's Leap is about those things going up, or at least side-to-side. You can jump quite a ways... but being able to fly six squares, as you could do through level 6's Zephyr of the Barren Sands, is almost always more useful, even for the ensnaring swordmage.
Unerring Vision (AP) - It's sort of like truesight mixed with blindsight, but since the targets still have total concealment, concealment, or cover, it's like knowing that you're going to be ambushed, but you don't know exactly when or how. There's also the question of "when do I need to know to use this?"
Acid Burst Blade (FRPG) - This power is an upgraded Greenflame Blade. That said, the damage dealt to enemies adjacent to the target is rolled, meaning that your damage bonuses (including enhancement bonus) apply to it. It's obviously better for assault swordmages, who can use it to make their aegis attack more effective, but not enough to raise it to blue.
Binding Light (AP) - Another power that can be used in place of an assault aegis attack. Binding Light does radiant damage, which can come in handy. That said, the immobilization is more of an ensnaring swordmage thing. Maneuvering into place to use it effectively is also a little harder, unless you teleport into the middle of the enemies.
Dimensional Slash (FRPG) - This power's fairly close to Be Gone, a daily from only 4 levels before. Unfortunately, the restriction on the teleportation makes it a little harder to use to maximum effectiveness. Still a strong power.
Enervating Challenge (D385) - This power can be compared to Evoker's Summoning, a level 7 encounter power from the same Dragon article. This power does less damage, targets Fort instead of Will, and in exchange for an extra 2 squares of range, provokes OAs. Yeah, it also weakens for a turn, but that's not enough to save it from red.
Ensnaring Bolts (AP) - It's an enemy-only blast that's large, and it groups the enemies up for a second attack. It improves to blue for an ensnaring swordmage who slows the enemies in addition to pulling them.
Fist of Force (AP) - It's rare to see an encounter power with an effect, and it's especially rare for swordmages. The range on this power isn't great, and it's an implement attack against Fortitude, which can be a gamble. That said, the guaranteed control and good damage if you hit make it a solid choice.
Hypnotic Swordplay (AP) - Ignore the ensnaring swordmage kicker on this power. An extra 5 damage is nothing. You're not using this power for its damage. Stun is such a potent status condition that this power was going to be black at minimum. Targeting Will is enough that it makes blue even with the lousy range.
Master Dimensional Cleave (D405) - Same as Dimensional Cleave - and these powers don’t scale enough for going up a tier.
Seed of Fire (FRPG) - It's decent damage, but it's largely a melee basic attack, push, and Scorching Burst (albeit more damaging). Fun visual, but I'm not convinced on the control element of it to move it any higher.
Silverlight Strike (AP) - Despite the low damage, Silverlight Strike is a great defender power. It's nearly as good as blinding the target for your allies, and it encourages the monster to keep coming at you.
Acid for Blood (FRPG) - Mediocre single target damage, and you're not even given 5 ongoing damage if you miss.
Assault of Fiery Cuts (AP) - It's a weapon attack against a NAD, and the secondary attack can hit a fairly large number of targets. On the downside, it's one of the more commonly resisted damage types, and the secondary attack's damage is so low that it's mainly useful in popping minions.
Burning Mantle (AP) - Reliable makes this power a whole lot better. When used in conjunction with powers like Booming Blade and feats like White Lotus Riposte, your opponent's stuck with a choice of how he'd like to take his damage (and will probably take it in more ways than one).
Death's Blade (AP) - This power is clearly designed to be used against elites and solos. It's unfortunate that the best part of the power requires you to hit, but at least you still get the ongoing damage if you miss. The power drops to purple if your DM likes to use undead.
Eldritch Chains (AP) - We haven't had a nice close blast in a while. This power is great for ensnaring swordmages focusing on immobilization, and even if you miss, you're still doing half damage and slowing for a turn. Force damage is also a nice touch.
Free the Storm Within (FRPG) - With this daily, you become stickier, but you're not guaranteeing more damage. Promise of Storm doesn't work with this power, as it isn't an attack, and lacking the Implement and Weapon keywords means you're not adding any bonuses to the damage rolls. You're doing 9 damage on average to a target that moves away, but what if they don't move away? It's only good to give enemies choices if both of them are bad.
Hunter's Pursuit (AP) - High damage here, and it's a weapon attack against a NAD. This is a better single target immobilization than Eldritch Chains, and the ensnaring swordmages get to knock prone instead if they want and give CA to their nearby allies.
Inferno's Sword (FRPG) - This power is better than Acid for Blood, but that's not saying much. It doesn't discriminate allies from enemies, and it still doesn't do any ongoing damage with a miss.
Reaper's Challenge (D372) - This power works better than Death's Blade at shutting down elites and solos. If you can keep the enemy from targeting you in a burst or blast, it will make the effort to come after you rather than have all of its damage cut in half. The weakening lasts for two turns because it applies to the triggering attack, and the enemy will be scared to take OAs against your allies. Great defender power.
Rubicant's Assault (D385) - Good repositioning before the pseudo-close burst attack, and then more repositioning before tacking on an extra attack with the potential to daze certainly doesn't hurt.
Aegis of Lost Souls (AP) - This is a good multi-marker power, and it allows you to use your aegis at a much greater range than you normally could. It obviously works best if someone drops a minion early, allowing you to mark the other enemies around it. Just remember that marking any other targets with your aegis will remove these marks as normal. Even better for hybrid swordmages who have additional restrictions on their aegis.
Bolstering Warding (FRPG) - This is a strong stance. Status effects are more and more onerous at this level, and removing them without a saving throw allows you to ignore any save penalties. Just be careful that you don't have too many stances (unless you're using a Master's Blade, in which case go wild).
Borrowed Confidence (AP) - It's an encounter power, and basically gives you a hyperactive version of an avenger's oath of enmity for a single turn. There's better ways to get saves available for the swordmage, so that part's less important, but it's nice to have the option.
Elemental Barrier (D385) - When this utility was at-will, it was a bit too strong. As a daily, and without the ability to have the effect move with you, it's too weak. Have a wizard friend use Mass Resistance (level 10, for the record) instead - more damage prevented, and more choices of damage types to prevent.
Elemental Protection (FRPG) - A slightly improved version of Fear No Elements, back from level 2. For 14 levels higher, we should get something more effective than 5 more damage reduced.
Ironskin (FRPG) - Resist 5 is a small amount of damage resistance at this level, but it is effective against all attacks. There's better damage prevention available since this power was created (Moment of Glory, Protective Roots: I'm looking at you), but this helps you take the hits and keep on ticking. That's what you need to do.
Shared Fortune (AP) - This power is too situational to be of good use. Take Bolstering Warding if you want to end (save ends) effects.
Shield of Besieged Tower (AP) - So I can get +1 AC, increasing to +3 if I've got two enemies near me... or I could take Host of Shields and get +2 AC and +2 Reflex all the time. The extra +1 AC this power can have over HoS doesn't make up for the difference in Reflex, and it's 14 levels higher. Boo.
Sudden Escape (FRPG) - Avoid being hit by a nasty melee attack. That definitely has its uses, but it uses your immediate action, doesn't help against most ranged attacks and some melee attacks (if the attacker has enough reach), and only works once per day.
Unerring Parry (AP) - This does something similar to Sudden Escape. It halves the damage of the triggering attack, but works every encounter. I'd say Sudden Escape is a little better because it can avoid melee attacks carrying nasty status effects, but not enough to lower this to purple or raise Sudden Escape to blue.
Dazzling Display (AP) - Weapon attack vs. NAD, but at this point, the low damage is hurting it. You're nearing epic tier, where 2[W] becomes the new norm. CA without flanking is nice for all your allies, especially the ranged attackers. That, and the effect giving you concealment for a short time is enough to keep the power at an average rating.
Elemental Detention (D385) - Thank goodness its damage was bumped up to 2W. It's still a little on the low side of average, but restrained is a decent status condition. The -2 to attack rolls is always handy.
Firelasher's Lunge (AP) - Greenflame Blade which can be made as an assault swordmage attack and while charging, doing 1[W] extra damage. I personally prefer Acid Burst Blade for assault swordmages, but if you're not one, the ability to use it while charging keeps it at black.
Ice Cage (FRPG) - Weapon attack vs. NAD, but again, low damage. To be fair, the kicker damage is likely to trigger, and it keeps the damage down against you and your allies, so it's not all bad.
Necromantic Disruption (D372) - A 3[W] encounter attack? I'm shocked. Wait, that comes later. This power is nice against those pesky ghosts, and if you time it right or get lucky, you can use it again. That's solid.
Snake Strike (AP) - It's been a while since you had a power with this good of a range, and that was a daily. It encourages your foe to get near you or take more damage (including doubling of damage bonuses). It'd be better if it wasn't against Fortitude or if it didn't do poison damage, but it's good enough as is.
Spidersilk Slash (FRPG) - Really? Binding Light does a better job locking multiple enemies down, even if it does less damage on average. See also: Weapon attack vs. NAD, but low damage.
Surprising Transposition (AP) - This is the first upgraded version of Dimensional Vortex that we've seen. This turns a hit against an ally into an auto-hit against an enemy. That said, you're moving your ally into an enemy's former position, which can be dangerous, and the attack targets Fortitude rather than Will. That means you'll want to use it against the skirmishers and lurkers hanging on the edge of combat. Pull them into the thick of things and pound on them before they can run away.
Swordshock (FRPG) - This power is worse than Necromantic Disruption in almost every way. If you're a stormsoul genasi, then this power is slightly better, but that's such an edge case that red is justified.
Thundering Vortex (AP) - Close burst 3, targeting enemies only, and it starts out with the thunder keyword, so it's ripe for Resounding Thunder. It gives you an extended ability to mark, and the damage is good too. It's even better for shielding swordmages, who get a full aegis mark for a turn.
Bane Blade (FRPG) - This seems like it should be a ranger power from the old school, or maybe something an artificer puts on a weapon. For whatever reason, it's yours. The damage is good for a swordmage power, and creature types in 4e are very broad, so you should get the damage bonus for most of the enemies in a given encounter.
Death's Resurgence (D372) - Good damage, and it's enemies only. It also keeps you from dropping in those hard fights when the leader's out of heals and you're all running low. Because of the trigger, the fact that it prevents you from using your aegis doesn't matter. Just make sure your aegis doesn't prevent you from using this power.
Forceful Rebuke (AP) - Mediocre damage, and pushing enemies doesn't offer as much control as sliding them.
Hell's Own Blade (FRPG) - It's really an area burst 2 attack that does a little more damage if centered on one enemy. That said, at level 19, the swordmage equivalent of Fireball is a bit underwhelming.
Lightning Rod (FRPG) - So no ongoing damage with a miss, and in exchange, it comes with a little Greenflame Blade action? Pass.
Marksman's Vision (AP) - I feel like I saw this power before, back when it was Mark of the Hound. It's got a better effect (you can actually see the target, and it works before you make the attack), so it makes it to average. No half damage on miss means it's on the bottom of the average stick.
Planar Shock (AP) - Weapon damage and stunned (save ends). You're also getting to move the target around no matter what. If you're fortunate enough to have some terrain which can hurt enemies around, this power can make good use of it.
Ward of Scales (AP) - Obviously, this power is blue only for those swordmages favoring Constitution. Sorry Strength and Wisdom - you're right out. The sustain minor can be rough sometimes, as it can interfere with marking or moving, but it protects your ally directly and comes with some nice damage on top.
Whirling Threat (AP) - Whirling Threat has movement baked in and allows for a second multi-mark. It isn't quite as useful as it would have been at level 15, since Total Aegis is just around the corner, but it is good for getting half of a battlefield to want to attack you.
Anarch of Shyr (FRPG) - Anarch of Shyr has a solid focus on the damage aspect of the assault swordmage. You gain an encounter power which marks with your aegis for the encounter, doubling the chance that one of your enemies will ignore the mark. You get an encounter stance that lowers your attack bonus (bad), but adds elemental damage to weapon attacks (good). The daily power is the stinker - an implement attack against AC. It also doesn't benefit from the stance. The path features are solid, but unexceptional. Arcane Hunter (AP) - Does your DM regularly throw you up against creatures with vulnerabilities and resistances? You should have enough powers to avoid being hurt by resistances, and the vulnerabilities that you can inflict (through the power, or through feat combinations like Wintertouched/Lasting Frost) are minimal. Not a strong path. Coronal Guard (FRPG) - While this paragon path doesn't require the aegis of shielding, the first path feature does require it (and it's worth it). Improved Silver Shield makes it so you can easily handle fighting a second creature halfway across the battlefield while one or more of your marked targets can't reach you easily. Improved Swordmage Armor makes your Swordmage Warding go to +4 (or +5 if you also have the feat Improved Swordmage Warding). Impenetrable Warding becomes that much better. Finally, the encounter power can cancel a melee attack entirely if you are in the right spot and hit with it. The other features are mostly generic defense boosts, though the daily does good damage for a swordmage daily. Improved Silver Shield and Countering Thunderclap are enough to make this path blue by themselves. The rest is icing on the cake. Ghost Blade (AP) - A very important thing to note is that two of the aegis powers are teleportation powers. You can gain combat advantage for weapon attacks as a minor action each turn, so long as you're ok with being near a target that you're marking. Remember that the daily, Omnipresent Assault, requires you to be insubstantial or phasing to use it, so keep that in mind when spending an AP (one of the few ways that most swordmages can actually achieve either of those conditions).
Malec-Keth Janissary (MotP) - This paragon path got a whole lot better with the errata fixing the encounter attack power. Chant of War is one of the few ways to increase the size of your aegis burst, besides taking Wandering Swordmage. If you weren't boosting Wisdom hard, then close burst 5 might well be larger than what you could do with the Wandering Swordmage anyway. An extra skill or two languages is nothing to sneeze at, and at level 16, you get to add elemental damage to all of your attacks. It adds keywords to your attacks, and it triggers any vulnerabilities that creatures might have. Loyal Unto Death gives you a strong attack with combat advantage and a way to rescue your allies who got in too deep. Ever-Present Escort is an encounter mini-Shield that helps your allies instead of you. Elemental Scourge is the odd one out, but it's a close burst 5 that only targets enemies, does all kinds of damage (which can't be resisted), and also lets nearby allies teleport around. It's my personal favorite of the swordmage paragon paths, even if some other paragon paths are stronger for other builds.
Phantasm Guard (D384) - A racially restricted swordmage paragon path, Phantasm Guard nonetheless is quite impressive. Shadowed Aegis should be granting concealment against at least two enemies for most rounds (until epic, where it may be better). Wave of Dread is Color Spray with different keywords, but that power is strong enough to still be worth it at level 11. Nightmare Landscape's action cost is rough, but can be worthwhile for long battles in tight quarters. Illusory Host also works best in tight quarters, but even when that's not available, it's still a close burst 2 that comes in handy for marking most of the battlefield.
Sage of Fate's Bonds (AP) - Bond of Fury changes your aegis of ensnarement into something akin to a paladin's punishment. Bond of Escape changes your aegis of ensnarement into a way to rescue allies after they've been hit. They're not compatible with one another. Foe Binder lacks a duration, which technically means that it ends immediately. If your DM decides that it lasts until the end of the encounter (as opposed to the end of your next turn, which is the more reasonable assumption), then it's a little better, but remember that the target line doesn't say "One or two creatures". You need two adjacent creatures to use it. Protective Bond really is good, allowing you to rescue an ally for the entire encounter. Of course, it's not compatible with either of the Bond path features previously mentioned. Deadly Ensnarement allows you to do something if your aegis target misses, but it's another immediate action. The main reason this paragon path is rated below average is that it gives you lots of options, but limits you to using one per turn. Most other paths give effects which complement one another instead of interfering with one another. The path improves in epic tier when Rapid Aegis Reaction becomes available, but you still only get one of the path features to use in a given turn.
Sharakim Blademaster (D386) - This paragon path is only available to half-orcs following the aegis of assault path (which is probably most half-orc swordmages). You're fighting uphill by being a half-orc swordmage, but this paragon path gives you an expanded aegis size, a strong encounter power (that increases to 3[W]+Int+Str when used with an action point), a way to avoid a couple of nasty status conditions and reposition yourself, and a daily attack that lets you respond to a generic mark. The other level 11 feature, Sharakim Gravitas, helps in skill challenges - you might not have the best skill modifiers, but you're doubly potent when you succeed. A good choice for a non-traditional swordmage race.
Sigil Carver (AP) - Sigil Carver is a shielding swordmage paragon path. It dramatically affects how your group will position themselves. You give two strong benefits to adjacent allies: +2 to all defenses (power bonus) and an improved mark counterattack. Note that you can make the counterattack even if you were included in the initial attack (no bursts to avoid your wrath), and that if you weren't included in the attack, you get the benefit of your aegis of shielding (because it's an opportunity action, not an immediate action). Aegis Sigil gives a brief multi-mark and decent damage. Sigil of Safety is an encounter improved Shield which helps out your allies (any defense can be blocked, and it might teleport the ally out of range). Sigil of Enmity has a lousy Hit line, but the effect can be very powerful depending on party composition. Two-blade rangers love you for this attack.
Sword of Assault (AP) - This path's big thing is Battlemage Readiness, which allows you to use any of your swordmage melee at-will attacks in place of a melee basic attack when your aegis triggers. You can use Greenflame Blade for more minion popping, Booming Blade for a little soft control on moving away, or even Frigid Blade if you decided to make Constitution your secondary ability after all. You also get the equivalent of Quickened Spellcasting with your level 16 feature. The downside of this path is its powers. Aegis Reserve also lacks a duration (just like Foe Binder from Sage of Fate's Bonds), so it requires your DM to decide if it should be until the end of your next turn or end of the encounter. Fire and Thunder deafens (most useless status condition ever), and Spell Strike does tiny damage for an encounter power. You need to be hitting something with a vulnerability to pull up to average damage.
Umbriri (FRPG) - Umbriri has finally received (good) errata to fix its encounter power. It has changed to an ordinary encounter 11 rather than something useless. Even so... the paragon path doesn't do much. All of its mechanics are shadow-themed, but don't have a consistent mechanical theme to go along with it. For example, Shadow Shroud gives you combat advantage against an enemy when you're concealed, but the only thing the path gives you to gain concealment is the action point feature. I think this path does work well for a hybrid swordmage|warlock who multiclasses into assassin to gain Shadow Walk, but that's rather build-specific.
Wandering Swordmage (FRPG) - Wandering Swordmage is good enough to drive swordmages to use Wisdom as their secondary ability. Aegis Insight is that huge of a feature. Between that and Double/Total Aegis, you can be marking the majority of the battlefield. It has not received errata, so Aegis Insight only works for assault and shielding swordmages as written. I think that most DMs who are not slavishly holding to RAW will also allow it to function for ensnaring swordmages. Four Corners Attack gives you decent damage and flexibility at the cost of requiring two attack rolls (the second of which is a weapon attack against a NAD, at least). Arcane Tanglestep gives you the ability to reposition your enemy and yourself instead of using your normal aegis. Finally, Heritage of Blades helps out nearby allies, and lets you do minor action auto-damage for the rest of the encounter. It isn't an implement power, so your enhancement bonus won't apply.
Ward Guardian (AP) - Ward Guardian wants to be good, but its features and powers just aren't that strong. You get a bonus to defenses while bloodied and help your allies with avoiding OAs. Your powers are ok (except for the utility - a daily standard action utility should do more than give adjacent allies your Warding bonus, and the sustain minor is a slap in the face), but unexceptional. There are better choices than this.
Academy Master (D374) - This paragon path works well for the character who has maxed out White Lotus feats or has otherwise given their at- wills a great boost. Don't forget that you can use the daily power on the path's encounter power for +4 [W]/dice of damage. The +2 Arcana bonus is also nice for those working on the Sage of Ages.
Deneith Protector (Ebr) - The entry feat doesn't do too much for you. On the other hand, Bodyguard's Resolve works well for a swordmage, since you've got a persistent, ranged mark. Globe of Warding is nifty, but it doesn't move with you. Keep that in mind. Thematically, it fits a more aggressive shielding swordmage - there are a number of effects which redirect attacks to you, sometimes granting you another attack in return.
Master of Flame (D388) - Very clearly made for those who focus on fire, the primary benefits are level 16 feature Swath of Destruction (the equivalent of Resounding Thunder for fire powers) and daily utility Burning Transformation, which gives you encounter-long insubstantial, shift as a minor, and more damage with fire powers (which are the only kind you can use in that form). The other powers and features aren't bad, but aren't nearly as notable. Still worth it if you can follow the theme.
Master Preserver (DSCS) - While this paragon path is tied to Athas in its fluff, it doesn't tie strongly into the mechanics, so it should be possible to convince many DMs to allow it. All the powers help out the swordmage as off-leader, granting healing and damage prevention, and the level 16 feature gives surgeless healing and a bonus to attack rolls when you spend a healing surge (which, as a defender, should happen fairly often).
Orien Swiftblade (Ebr) - Unlike the Mark of Sentinel, the Mark of Passage is rather useful to you. All the teleportation powers you've got get a little better. The powers are all about mobility, and you get to be Nightcrawler on the battlefield. Nice for shielders who feel they can't move themselves or enemies about as easily.
Shyran Spiritblade (D379) - This is sort of a swordmage paragon path. The problem is that it's also a shaman paragon path. Half the features work with a spirit companion, and the other with a swordmage's at-wills. You're better off than a shaman who tries to multiclass swordmage, but even so, it's not the best.
Vistani Execrator (D380) - This paragon path requires you to be a Vistani (that is, take the appropriate heritage feat), but the attacks are all implement-based, and the daily is an enemies-only close burst. If you stand in front of your friends and use your evil eye, you can potentially hold away an enemy who wants to come close to them (and you get an extra use of it each encounter).
Adroit Explorer (PHB2) - Swordmages get a couple of nice encounter powers at low level, and Dimensional Vortex makes a strong choice for your level 11 encounter power (since it does its own scaling). Bloody Determination is what half-orcs wish they had available as a feat. Finally, Champion of Humanity means you're getting to spend an action point in the first three combats as a minimum (hey, maybe you'll get a skill challenge in there). Bloodied Greatness isn't as good for you as for some other classes, but Destined for Greatness makes up for it.
Bralani Wintersoul (D384) - An eladrin-only paragon path, this is themed around cold and stickiness. The best part is the level 16 class feature which slows any enemies who start adjacent to you. The attack powers both immobilize and have the correct attack bonus for non-weapon/implement attacks. The damage will be a little low, but the control is good.
Fey Beguiler (PHB2) - Both rogues and wizards get some good utility powers. Ever wish you could use Shield? Now's your chance. The encounter dazes, and the daily gives you combat advantage. Both give you some range that you won't get from most of your other powers.
Scion of Absence (D380) - This path recharges your racial ability with an action point. That's probably the only thing in it that you can't make use of as a swordmage. Make an enemy disappear. Prevent all damage from an attack, every encounter. You heard right. The daily is a stance which does auto-damage, and makes for a cheap thing to throw up when you don't need a defensive stance in place.
Battle Engineer (Ebr) - A very strong paragon path for a swordmage who multiclasses into artificer, even though you don't get much of a benefit from most of the path features. If you're a half-elf who has taken Magic Weapon as your Dilettante power, this path edges towards sky blue.
Arcane Wayfarer (AP) - The theme of this paragon path isn't too hard to figure out. If teleportation isn't involved, the Arcane Wayfarer wants no part of it. Wayfarer's Step is a very nice level 16 feature. You've got better than shift 2 as a move action, and there are plenty of things which can improve it.
Blood Mage (PHB) - A swordmage who goes into this paragon path does so to increase its damage. They're more likely to make use of Burning Blood (since they take more damage than wizards typically do), and the powers are all still good (even if Blood Pulse was nerfed a little more than it needed, it's still a huge burst that prevents enemies from coming toward you).
Planeshifter (MotP) - Another teleportation-based paragon path, but this one's a bit slower, and befitting its name, more involved with planar shenanigans. Sequester is as good as a stun when it hits, and you can always bring it back after it misses its turn to start wailing on it again if you've dealt with everything else. Quick Portal isn't so hot for more fight- based games, but for those times when you're completely outnumbered, having Linked Portal as a standard action (and no ritual component cost beyond some surges) is great. The level 16 feature also works well against enemies trying to mess with you the way that you mess with them, and it doesn't require you to take one of the swordmage stances which do the same thing in a less permanent fashion. Simbarch of Aglarond (FRPG) - This paragon path toughens a wizard up. For a swordmage, it makes you even harder to drop each fight. Silver Fire is nasty against any big boss. 5 to 15 extra damage every hit adds up fast, and with the bonus on the attack, Silver Fire usually hits. The utility is a good backup for a leader, or to save someone from across the battlefield. You've got enough surges to spare to play paladin for a little bit. The daily is a huge bomb, and if you've been hit with any nasty save ends effects, you'll probably be able to save against them. Note that dazed and blinded aren't hurting you when you want to drop a large area burst that only hits enemies. Spellstorm Mage (PHB) - Spellstorm Mage gets solid damage from its features and encounter power. The utility spell isn't great, but used at the start of a combat, it can act as a pseudo- slow, and it can be used to protect allies from having enemies shift adjacent to them in the middle of a fight. The daily has a good range. Re-arranging the entire enemy complement in one combat each day sounds fun, and vertical teleportation means that an enemy who fails a saving throw takes 2d10 damage on top of the 3d8 you did as a base. Just be sure to hit, and hope they don't save. Wizard of the Spiral Tower (PHB) - This was the original swordmage paragon path, before there was anything such as a swordmage. Both of the attacks are nice. Corellon's Blade is particularly nasty. Weapon attack vs. Will, and it gets a +4 bonus? If you're not hitting, you probably rolled a 1. The other features are less interesting, though any minions who attack your Will will kill themselves, even if you have a negative Charisma modifier. Unseen Mage (AP) - Swordmage + Invisible = enemies don't get good choices. All the powers give the swordmage a way to become invisible, and Enhanced Invisibility means that they last 50% longer than usual. Both the utility and the daily also help your allies, which means that you can fulfill your defender role without exposing your allies to many more attacks. If you take this paragon path, go for Oni's Gift at level 22.
Borrowed Ascension (AP) - You gain a sustainable hovering flight with good speed. Around this level, you should be getting access to Zephyr Boots which give you much of the benefit of this power without requiring you to use up your minor action each turn. This power does give a bump to speed, so it has its uses.
Boundless (AP) - You'll be able to move normally for the majority of the encounter where you use this power. It's too bad that stunned isn't included in the list. I'm rating this at black for now, but I'm curious if anyone with epic tier experience finds these status effects common enough to justify that rating.
Eyes of the Mage (FRPG) - The perception bonus and getting a weak form of truesight are nice, but the additional effect means that it'll be useful even if your DM doesn't use invisible creatures. Best used against an attack which will mess up you or an ally, such as a critical hit or a nasty status effect.
Ghost Walk (AP) - The only encounter power available at this level. Ghost Walk gives you a decent amount of damage resistance and lets you move through enemies, but it doesn't seem more powerful than what a shadar-kai swordmage has been doing since level 1. That feels a little underwhelming.
Giant's Might (FRPG) - This is a fun power, and given the proper power choices, a strong one as well. Your close bursts hit more enemies, which includes the close burst that marks enemies with your aegis. Your melee (weapon) attacks get the same benefits as the frost weapon/Wintertouched/Lasting Frost combo (and those bonuses stack, for the record). You also gain reach if you started out Medium, giving a little more flexibility in positioning to threaten enemies.
Oni's Gift (AP) - After the errata, this power works at what it's supposed to do. It's still somewhat strange that you can sustain after it has ended, but that's what exception-based design is for. If you use it before your attack, you can move without provoking OAs and get combat advantage for your attacks. If you use it after your attack, you've got total concealment while defending, making it that much less attractive for your aegis targets to attack you. It's a little less powerful for assault swordmages (as they lose the invisibility if they use their aegis power), but Giant's Might works better for them anyway (as long as the terrain supports it).
Shackled Warding (FRPG) - This is a combination of Dimensional Warding and the warden's Form of Winter's Herald, with the size of the zone increased. Now you can lock down enemies around you, and without the ability to teleport, the slowed condition will have its full effect.
Acid Fountain (FRPG) - This power is an acid form of Flame Cyclone with an extra +2d10 damage (technically a little less, since it doesn't add Strength). Your damage isn't scaling fast enough to have this power nearly as effective as Flame Cyclone was at its level.
Aegis Bolt (AP) - Good damage (roughly 4[W] for the swordmage), ranged 10, and it allows you to mark a far-away foe with your swordmage aegis for a turn. Good deal all around.
Blink Assault (AP) - Movement's baked into this power, and it also affects an adjacent ally. You're pretty much guaranteed flanking as well. Bringing the ally along improves the power considerably.
Bravado Strike (AP) - This is much like Rejuvenating Strike back at level 7. You get +1[W] damage and can also make a saving throw, but because the power requires you to hit for this benefit, it probably won't get rid of the worst sorts of status effects. At this level, you should have enough healing to take care of you without spending a surge nearly straight.
Freezing Swordburst (AP) - The primary attack is equivalent to the damage you do with an at-will, though the immobilize is nice. The secondary attack is like a combination of pre-epic ray of frost and scorching burst, only without the range. Using it as an assault swordmage attack helps it, but not enough.
Grandmaster Dimensional Cleave (D405) - Same as Dimensional Cleave, and it still doesn't scale enough for an epic-tier power.
Lightning Bolt Charge (AP) - This is basically Dual Lightning Strike from level 3, only it does an extra 1[W] damage on the initial attack and doesn't mark. The distance you can teleport is also slightly better if you hit with the initial attack. I'd rather have something that helps me as a defender than some extra damage.
Meteor Strike (FRPG) - You get a melee basic attack. If it hits, you get two smaller attacks against Reflex that do a little damage. The damage isn't good enough on its own to recommend this power more highly.
Radiant Shield (AP) - An area burst 2, enemies only, that targets Will. Its damage is good (roughly 3[W]), and it marks everything it hits (with your aegis, if you're a shielding swordmage). Oh, and as an effect, your allies in the burst are insubstantial until the end of your next turn, which further encourages those enemies to come after you. A great defender power, even if it can potentially provoke OAs. The range is great on it for an opening strike.
Thunder Riposte (FRPG) - By itself, this is a good power. Dazed is effective as ever in epic tier, and prone + dazed is ugly. For a shielding swordmage who can use this as part of his aegis, the power improves to blue, since it's equivalent to giving the attack an additional -2 penalty from being prone, as well as setting up the enemy for a counterattack. Just make sure you aim the blast carefully - everyone can be affected.
Bounding Lightning (FRPG) - This power does nothing if you miss. It's a ranged power, which is not good for swordmages who are trying to be defenders. Oh, and it's only damage, with no control or defensive elements.
Darksword Bolt (AP) - Being lightning and necrotic damage means that it's unlikely that a creature will resist the damage (even most undead don't resist lightning). It's also a ranged weapon attack against a NAD, so you can throw it against the artillery hiding in the back who will have a lower Fortitude defense. It's decent damage as well, though again, it's only damage.
Death Grip (D372) - This is an excellent lockdown power. Even if both attacks miss, the target isn't going anywhere. The damage is only necrotic, which means you don't use it against undead. Also, the secondary attack is a weapon attack against a NAD (potentially with CA), so it's got a pretty good chance of hitting.
Icy Shackles (FRPG) - This power seems familiar, combining elements of Ice Cage and Chilling Blow. It's Reliable, so you will land it sometime. I think the flavor text was written for a different power. There's only soft movement denial (to avoid the extra 5-7 damage), not anything like slow or immobilize.
Invincible Rampage (AP) - Remember Troll Rampage back at level 9? Now you get a fixed amount of regeneration while bloodied (roughly equivalent to what Troll Rampage does at this level), an automatic chance to spend a healing surge, and the same benefits with charging and a tiny bonus to ensnaring swordmages.
Mindsap Maneuver (AP) - This power works well against elites and solos, who often have double attacks or worse. Against most other enemies, being restricted to a basic attack isn't as onerous. If you don't hit early, they may have already used their nasty encounter powers.
Quicksilver Blade (FRPG) - Yes, it's only damage, but it's potentially a lot of damage over time. You're using fewer minor actions for your aegis at this level thanks to Total Aegis, so you should be able to make a stab each round against an enemy.
Sword Duel (AP) - It's nice to see a daily with the main strength of the power as an effect, rather than only on the hit. The problem I see is that at this level, 10 damage is somewhat negligible against the nasties that you want to use dailies against. It does add up over time, or forces the enemy to concentrate on you, so it's a solid choice.
Thundering Heart (FRPG) - The primary attack is reliable, but the secondary attack isn't. Unfortunately, the Compendium doesn't have a typo. That secondary attack is with Strength. Even the best assault swordmage probably won't have Strength equal to Intelligence, and the extra burst doesn't even discriminate between allies and enemies. Skip it.
Waves of Languor (AP) - You get your own version of Sleep, 24 levels after the wizard gets it. You won't have the save penalties that a wizard can have (even with a cunning weapon and Fate-Spurned Foe), so it probably won't get most of the targets to unconscious and staying there. Even so, it does slow and weaken, even on a miss, making it a decent power for a defender.
Calm the Flames (D385) - It's a close burst 2 that only targets enemies. The damage is equivalent to 3[W] or better, and the combination of slowed and dazed means that the enemies can't even charge effectively.
Circle of Devastation (FRPG) - It's a close burst 2 that only targets enemies (Yep, same as above). It's a weapon attack vs. a NAD. It does force damage, so it's unlikely to be resisted. It pushes targets a good distance, allowing you to position them around the battlefield. All those things make this a blue power. It's that last part that stands out. When used in conjunction with the aegis of shielding interrupt, it can disrupt an attack the same way that Dimensional Vortex and Transposing Lunge can. For shielding swordmages, this power is light blue.
Dimensional Charge (FRPG) - This is movement + damage, and can get you wherever you want in the battlefield. You can even "charge" to locations that you normally couldn't due to not being the closest square or most direct path. Just be careful with the power. If you use the movement, it's a charge whether you want it or not, so you can't use other actions afterward.
Maelstrom Blade (FRPG) - This is approximately +1[W] damage over Sword Burst at this level, and weapon vs. AC tends to be equal to implement vs. Reflex. The assault swordmage kicker isn't that great, since you can't guarantee that the enemies will be in position to make it useful when your mark is triggered.
Slash and Burn (AP) - Make a melee basic attack, and if it hits, make a secondary attack to add a little extra damage, push, and daze. Two attack roll powers need to have great effects to justify them. This is the best encounter power you'll get. It should be better than this.
Steel Tempest (AP) - I have no idea why you'd want to dismiss this zone early. I suspect it used to damage allies as well until someone pointed out how much that'd suck. Pop all the minions within 3 squares of your target, and do decent damage to the primary (roughly 5[W] damage, if it can't get out of the zone before its next turn). Use this in conjunction with push/pull/slide shenanigans.
Sword Chaser Assault (AP) - Which would you rather do - 4[W] damage to a target who hit your ally with a melee attack (and a teleport next to the target), or teleport that target and potentially make him hit one of his allies instead? Dimensional Vortex usually wins out there. This isn't a bad power, but you usually have cooler things to do with your immediate action.
Thundering Burst (AP) - It's a close burst 1 form of Booming Blade, but it hits allies as well as enemies. The slow helps out ensnaring swordmages, but not enough to increase it to black for them.
Wrath of the Arctic Wind (AP) - Damage is mediocre, but you get immobilization and prone or repositioning. One of those is going to be useful. The power improves to blue for assault swordmages who can throw it out when a mark is ignored. If the enemy has already used its move action, it could be prone (and granting CA against melee attacks) for a whole round.
Astral Thunder Blade (FRPG) - Ignore the primary attack. The meat of the power is in the secondary attack, which can stun enemies within a pseudo-burst 2. That secondary (weapon) attack is against a NAD, which comes in handy. Even if you miss, you'll still daze all those enemies, forcing melee enemies to charge if they're not already adjacent to you or your allies.
Constrictor's Strike (AP) - So we've got an improved version of Hunter's Pursuit from level 15. We get +1[W] damage and half damage on miss, but the attack is against AC rather than Reflex and the ensnaring swordmage benefit (restrained instead of immobilized) isn't quite as good as prone instead of immobilized. It didn't improve enough to justify it.
Mirrorblade Army (AP) - ...What? You know how easy it is for you to destroy minions at this level? It ain't much harder for your enemies. For a daily attack power, you get the ability to make opportunity attacks from multiple locations. And it costs a minor action each turn to sustain? Blargh.
Obliterating Blaze (FRPG) - Damage, and a bit more damage. It's nice to do some damage (if you hit, as there's no half damage on miss for the primary), but you don't have fine control over when (and more importantly, where) the target will be reduced to 0 hit points or fewer. For added fun, knock out the target instead of killing it. It still explodes, but it's ok afterwards. Go figure... it's magic.
Silver Lightning Assault (AP) - This is movement + attack, and the damage is good. You also don't have to stay in that location if it's not safe tactically. At that point, it's more like a ranged power than a melee power. You do get half damage on the miss, but you're stuck where you are in that case.
Sword of Soul Rot (AP) - So it's Death's Blade from level 15. 14 levels gets us +2[W] damage and increases the ongoing damage to 10 necrotic instead of 5. That extra damage is negligible, and the same restrictions that plagued Death's Blade are present here.
Transdimensional Invasion (D385) - Definitely the star of this Dragon article, Transdimensional Invasion does a lot of damage to every enemy within close burst 5, repositions those enemies (hit or miss), and lets you end up anywhere within 5 squares of your starting position.
Vorpal Doom (FRPG) - There are very few Reliable powers that also have an effect. You're best using this power at the start of a fight. If you hit, you get an expanded crit range for the rest of the fight and do a great amount of damage. If you miss, and you think that you might have more fights later that day, save it for the next encounter. You've still got the expanded crit range for this one. Swordmage Implement Expertise has caused this power to decrease in value - most swordmages can fit in SIE by level 28.
Arcane Sword (AP) - This is the only swordmage-only epic destiny. It feels more like a mix between an epic destiny and a paragon path. Given that it's supposed to be an epic destiny, this is a problem. It gets an action point benefit, an underpowered/worthless utility (you have taken Total Aegis by then, right?), and a capstone benefit that's good (choosing one of your encounter attack powers which can cancel an attack), but not great. The best reason to take it is the death benefit, which, as written, allows you to fight invincibly for an encounter after you die. You can't enforce your mark, but immune to damage doesn't work. That's too good for a DM to allow, which makes this destiny nigh-useless.
Archlich (AP) - You get an Intelligence bonus, resistances (including the utility, which gives resist all 18 as a daily when you first get it), autodamage, an auto-revive, and can regain encounter powers when stuff dies. There's a lot of stuff there. Remember, "can't spend healing surges" isn't the same as "can't be healed". Artificers and pacifist clerics are your friend.
Avangion (DSCS) - You get an Intelligence bonus along with a bonus to whatever ability helps your Will save to start. At level 24, the destiny gets a big boost with low-light vision, at-will flight, and the ability to make all your damage radiant in addition to its normal types. The utility power gives allies free saving throws (including against effects that a save can't usually end) and surgeless healing when bloodied or dying. Finally, at level 30, the Avangion can spend its healing surges on its allies' behalf when they are reduced to dying. It doesn't normally work on themselves, despite the wording, because you can't typically take free actions when dying. It would work for revenants, anyway. Despite that minor drawback, it's still a very strong choice for an epic destiny.
Ceaseless Guardian (D387) - This is an explicitly defender-oriented epic destiny, and you benefit from it as much as any other defender and more than many. You get a boost to a single ability score (somewhat standard, but you really only need one ability score high). Level 24 brings the big benefit: the ability to take immediate and opportunity actions while dazed and stunned. Unlike battleminds, wardens, and fighters, you can respond to your mark from a distance, so the enemy will still need to move at least 11 squares away from you to be safe. Finally, at level 30, people don't die around you as long as you have healing surges left. It makes that investment in Constitution even more worthwhile. The other benefits (extra speed and winning initiative/avoiding surprise once per day) aren't bad either. I almost want to rate it light blue, but that might be a little self-serving.
Demigod/Chosen (PHB/FRPG) - This is the gold standard for epic destinies, even after the reduction of the level 30 feature. Demigod's basic utility grants plenty of regeneration, which works well for defenders, but another Chosen's utility may grant a better benefit for an individual build. The other features' usefulness is self-evident.
Destined Scion (HoFK) - This destiny is boring as dirt from a thematic standpoint, but the benefits start out as good as Demigod and then increase your attack bonus and saving throw bonus. The utility and capstone aren’t as exciting, but being front-loaded isn’t a bad thing.
Draconic Incarnation (D388) - Start out with ability bonuses equal to Demigod or Chosen. Add a strong anti-death feature (not anti-dying, unfortunately), a utility to make you flying and Huge (with all the benefits that gives to your close burst powers), and end with two extra daily powers. These can be daily attacks or daily utilities as phrased, and it means you can grab some nasty wizard powers if you so desire. That's definitely at Demigod level. Harper of Legend (FRPG) - This is a wonky epic destiny, and requires some skills trained to qualify that you otherwise might not take, but all of its features and its utility are of use. You get an extra encounter power (which can go as high as level 23 by the time you hit level 30), 2 action points at the start of each day, and Spectral Harper gives a strong revival if the enemies finally manage to kill you. Half your surges might seem like a lot (and it can be, if it gets you early in the day), but you're getting healed to full and insubstantial for the rest of the combat. That's roughly equal to eight surges healed if the enemy can even manage to knock you out (and any surges that you spend during the combat effectively heal double the usual amount of damage). Ending any save ends effect (other than dominated or stunned) as a free action is also useful for a defender. Get rid of dazed or blinded, or something enemy-specific.
Planeshaper (D372) - To start, you get an Intelligence bonus. Add to it an extra use of an encounter power (including utility powers), the ability to disappear a target that you crit on, and a level 30 feature which allows you to completely reshape the battlefield. You can also hit a pause button once per day, giving everyone a chance to regroup, heal, and recharge an encounter power.
Radiant One (DRA 2009) - You gain resistance to fire (and radiant, for the good it does), and do extra radiant/fire damage to anyone granting you combat advantage. If something would kill you, you come back up and deal a surge's worth of auto-damage to enemies within close burst 3. The utility power, Star Flesh, basically gives you immunity to attacks (+7 or 8 to all defenses, and a 55% chance of changing any non-melee attack into a miss) for the encounter. Starry Rift is a little underwhelming by comparison, and it's giving you a free turn once per day. That I say that tells you how good it can be. If any of the other members in your party have a way to allow you to regain the use of Star Flesh in a given day, the path is jumping up to gold.
Sage of Ages (AP) - There are two main reasons to take this epic destiny. The first is Keeper's Prescience, which is giving you the equivalent of the pre-errata Dice of Auspicious Fortune every turn. The second is Trick of Knowledge (a.k.a. "Best reason to max out Arcana ever"). With Keeper's Prescience and the right bonuses from items and feats, you can be reasonably guaranteed to get two or three of the bonuses every encounter. Getting +2 to arcane attacks and all defenses is great; getting saving throw benefits on top is even better. The level 30 feature also works as a true capstone, unlike some that are relatively anemic.
Unyielding Sentinel (D388) - The level 21 feature is fairly standard (bonus to Con and Int, for swordmages). The best part of the destiny comes at level 24, where every saving throw that you make gets the better of two rolls. The remainder of the path is somewhat situational or underpowered for swordmages, who aren't likely to drop enemies with their low damage attacks.
Aegis Accuracy (D382) - Aegis Accuracy is strictly inferior to Retributive Shield for shielding swordmages. It's also a conditional attack bonus (and a small one), so this would only be taken after the swordmage has already taken Versatile Expertise for his or her weapon group of choice. Since assault and ensnaring swordmages are the ones who might take this feat, its utility depends on how much the DM respects their marks. If the mark isn't being ignored, the feat is not useful. Even if it is, you'll probably have better choices.
Aegis Vitality (D382) - Aegis Vitality is a weaker form of the Coronal Guard path feature, but it's available to all swordmages regardless of paragon path. It helps out shielding swordmages the most, since they have the easiest time of marking one enemy and engaging another one across the battlefield. It scales across tiers, so it remains useful even through epic levels.
Closing Advantage (AP) - Closing Advantage and Combat Casting both reward switching between ranged/area attacks and melee attacks. At this point, the swordmage doesn't have enough good ranged/area attacks (combined with the mediocre benefit) to justify taking this feat.
Combat Casting (AP) - This feat is slightly more useful than its counterpart, Closing Advantage, as it allows you to use your ranged/area powers while still threatening any adjacent foes. Obviously, you'll need a couple of ranged/area powers to make this feat worthwhile.
Escalating Assault (FRPG) - Only for assault swordmages. This makes your aegis attacks much more likely to hit over the course of a long combat. However, it only triggers with the use of an MBA - no using other powers in place of that MBA, or you don't get your attack bonus.
Extended Teleportation (D382) - Extended Teleportation is interesting. It is largely dependent on power selection, but when combined with a number of powers that teleport, it offers you a lot of versatility. It's unfortunate that it doesn't work with all teleport powers, but it seems like Wizards is limiting the ability of multiclass characters to take advantage of the synergies between classes. Lately, many feats have been limited to affecting class features only available to a main-class character, or explicitly stating that they only affect a particular class's powers.
Grasping Ensnarement (AP) - Only for ensnaring swordmages. Now that you brought your enemy next to you for ignoring your mark, what do you do to prevent him from doing it again? With this feat, the answer is "slow him". That said, if you don't mind multiclassing into Warden, Sudden Roots does much the same thing and helps with your OAs as well.
Improved Swordbond (FRPG) - Your swordbond now works like drawing a weapon normally. How often is your sword 100 feet away? It's a cute idea, but there's no way to make this useful to you (outside of roleplaying magic tricks) without gimping other characters with weapons.
Improved Swordmage Warding (AP) - You get +1 to AC, which is always nice for a defender. It isn't compatible with Armor Proficiency (hide), so you have to choose between the two if you want to increase your AC. This increases to blue if you're playing a race with a racial bonus to Dexterity, especially if that race doesn't have a racial bonus to Intelligence.
Intelligent Blademaster (FRPG) - This feat means that your opportunity attacks are now effective, making enemies much less likely to simply move away from you. It also allows you to throw weapons with the heavy thrown quality using your Intelligence for the attack. Due to the way it's phrased, you can't use light thrown weapons, though individual DMs might house rule that it's ok to throw daggers. Javelins are probably your best choice there otherwise. If your Strength is already high (within a +1 modifier of your Intelligence), then this feat drops to red.
Retributive Shield (FRPG) - For shielding swordmages only. Your mark is the only one which functions entirely at range - you can be up to 10 squares away from your aegis target the entire combat after marking him. If you're close enough to use the +2 attack bonus, then you're probably close enough that the enemy can close in on you. That said, if you focus on ranged and area attacks, you can try to kite your marked enemy while other PCs off-tank. The power rises to black for these shielding swordmages.
Student of Sword Magic (FRPG) - I want to like this feat. Unfortunately, the powers that I really want to be able to swap are the swordmage's utility powers. Curse you, Richard Baker, for getting my hopes up with your Swordmage novel! Wizards make use of their spellbook so that they can prepare different dailies (with different elemental damage, and different types of control effects) when they know what's coming. The swordmage dailies have less variety, so being able to choose between them is less useful. (P.S. I met Richard Baker, and he does not deserve curses.)
Vigor of the Blade Adept (D382) - Vigor of the Blade Adept improves your survivability somewhat. Swordmages tend to have plenty of stances, so you can probably get your Strength bonus to your healing surge value during combats. Again, it's limited to swordmage stances, so multiclass characters will not be able to take advantage of it, and Strength is not a favored ability for two of the three swordmage builds, which further limits it. I hate to say it, but if you're running into trouble with healing surges, you'll probably do better by taking Durable.
Deadly Immobilization (D382) - Deadly Immobilization looks like it's supposed to help ensnaring swordmages, based on the Constitution-based benefit which corresponds to the suggested secondary ability for ensnaring swordmages and the emphasis of movement denial for that build. There are a limited number of swordmage powers which slow or immobilize targets (and again, it's only swordmage powers), but there is usually one available at a given level. It is build-limiting, but does increase the damage of the swordmage considerably within that build.
Distant Swordbond (FRPG) - So it's a mile now. That changes nothing. If it were a free action, at least it would be a poor man's Quick Draw, but we don't even get that. Stick with a scabbard for your free action draw.
Double Aegis (FRPG) - Your abilities as a defender are directly proportionate to the number of enemies you mark. Marking multiple enemies also increases the chance that at least one of them ignores the mark, giving you your aegis effect. It also cuts down on the number of times you'll need to use your minor action to mark, giving you more freedom to use stances and utility powers that require your minor action. It goes down to red at epic tier, where you should retrain to Total Aegis quickly.
Ensnaring Flourish (AP) - For ensnaring swordmages only. That's a pretty nice damage bonus, but evaluate in context. You don't have many multi-attack powers to use against the target, so it's not like you'll get the damage more than once per round (unlike, say, a ranger). By this tier, you should have an idea of how often your DM ignores your mark. The feat's value rises the more often the mark is ignored.
Greater Aegis of Shielding (AP) - As you might guess, this feat is for shielding swordmages only. An increase of 5 damage prevented with your aegis is nothing to sneeze at, but there's something else to consider. By taking this feat, you can essentially choose any ability as your secondary ability and still be as effective as a full-Con swordmage with your aegis. This feat is basically required for a shielding swordmage based around Wisdom. Finally, you get ahead of the damage curve in paragon, allowing you to shut down most older (pre-MM2) paragon creatures.
Greater Swordmage Warding (AP) - This feat, by itself, is enough to justify Strength 12 at character creation. As a swordmage, you tend to be feat-starved. This feat gives you the equivalent of Armor Specialization and Paragon Defenses. At epic tier, it automatically improves, giving you an additional +1 AC and the equivalent of Robust Defenses. A small benefit that's sometimes overlooked is that it saves you a retraining, allowing you to improve your other feats more quickly without the "Paragon Defenses retrains to Robust Defenses" that other classes would have to do. Take this feat if you want to get hit less and live longer.
Timely Teleport (D382) - Timely Teleport is hard to evaluate. It keys off your primary ability, so the distance you teleport will be good. It gives swordmages who are in a tight spot an ability to escape while healing and defending themselves. The questions you have to ask yourself are "how often do I use second wind?" and "would this feat make me more likely to use it?" This is very party-dependent, and has to be evaluated within that context.
Vigorous Assault (AP) - For assault swordmages only. This feat depends on your Strength bonus, which is a little iffy. As with Ensnaring Flourish, evaluate how often your mark is ignored, and value this feat accordingly.
Binding Ensnarement (AP) - For ensnaring swordmages only. Slow has become immobilize. It's an improvement over Grasping Ensnarement, but I feel like it should be restrained by epic tier. At least then, you'd always get the -2 to attack rolls, even if the enemy can teleport away.
Blade of the Raven Queen (DRA 2009) - Shadar-kai only. Give your cold spells the necrotic keyword and damage type. How often does that help? Few things are vulnerable to necrotic, or have high resistance or immunity to cold. I fail to see the value, even if it is flavorful.
Charging Aegis (AP) - I'm open to explanations of why this feat is better than purple. As I see it, swordmages don't do much charging (not like fighters or barbarians), so the ability to charge and mark as a free action isn't that valuable, especially with all the competition at epic tier.
Extended Aegis (AP) - While increasing your aegis response area from 10 squares to 20 squares is a good thing, many battles, even at epic tier, will allow you to stay within 10 squares of your aegis target(s) without much trouble. It's just a limitation of how large maps can be before they become unwieldy. If your DM is a fan of the giant set-piece, the feat improves to black.
Rapid Aegis Reaction (D387) - Swordmages have the easiest time marking multiple enemies of any defender by epic tier, and are the only defender besides the paladin that can enforce a mark at range. This feat allows you to use your aegis twice in a round (given two triggering attacks), or use your aegis along with another immediate action power. Take this feat.
Shared Warding (AP) - A nice benefit for your allies, but you're risking more people getting hit by area bursts targeted on you. Improves to blue if you're a Sigil Carver, and everyone's going to hang out by you anyway.
Swordmage Implement Expertise (D387) - You finally have a "crit on 19-20" feat of your own which works with all of your powers. This helps to bring your damage up during epic tier, especially if you've got a lot of immediate action attacks or bursts/blasts.
Total Aegis (FRPG) - This feat gives you the greatest capability of marking of any defender, and once you've marked the targets, you don't have to do anything to maintain that mark. This is why paragon path features which increase the size of your aegis burst are even more valuable than they seem. When you've marked four or five enemies with a single action, you'll know you've arrived.
Arcane Familiar (AP) - This feat is really a whole bunch of smaller feat choices. There's more than I can cover in this guide. You can see The Pet Store for more information on familiars, but two things to note are that Arcane Familiar gives access to Alert Familiar (D374) (Uncanny Dodge without the Wis requirement) and Sight of the Familiar (D382) (which can grant darkvision, blindsight, or tremorsense, depending on familiar choice).
Armor Proficiency (hide) (PHB) - This feat gives the same effective benefit as Improved Swordmage Warding, but with ability prerequisites that are easier for a swordmage who is qualifying for Greater Swordmage Warding to achieve. The downside is that you take a check penalty on all of your physical skills. Decide how important they are to you, and how much +1 AC is worth to you in the first place.
Coordinated Explosion (PHB2) - This feat is of some use in Sword Burst builds (after Versatile Expertise, of course). Being in the blast or burst is not the same as being targeted by the blast or burst's attack, so grab that extra bit of accuracy.
Deva Heritage (D374) - This is a bloodline feat, which means you can only have one of them. Ignore the skill bonus. The meat of this feat is the extra stance. Getting +2 to all of your defenses for the start of a fight is nice, and it encourages the DM to focus monsters on you in order to get you bloodied. The light's also helpful if you're fighting in dim conditions.
Disciple of Stone (HotFL) - The extra temporary hit points that this feat gives you are better than Toughness. You're almost guaranteed to need temps when you're being healed, so they're less likely to be wasted than with some other granters.
Dual Implement Spellcaster (AP) - This feat is for swordmages who need to increase their damage beyond what Weapon Focus did. It has a prerequisite of Dex 13, which limits who can take it, and your recommended off-hand weapon is a Rhythm Blade to make up for the decreased defenses.
Durable/Toughness (PHB) - Both of these feats serve the same purpose. If you're not favoring Constitution, and you are doing a good job of keeping attackers attacking you, then they can come in handy. That said, they probably won't do so too often. (Dwarves get a better version of the former feat, giving them a bonus to the healing surge value as well. That means you stay up better during fights, which is very valuable.)
Elan Heritage (PsiP) - Besides the flavor bonuses (telepathy and immortal subtype), you also get an immediate interrupt for use when you're attacked by an enemy. More useful in heroic (when you typically only have a single target marked) or in epic (when you probably have Rapid Aegis Reaction to be able to use it). Skip Boon of the Made, though. It doubles the damage prevented, if you have no other damage reduction, but you're not guaranteed to be attacked again during the resistance's duration.
Fey Bond (HotFey) -A very weak feat, so why am I mentioning it here? Easy: it can qualify a non-fey swordmage for Fey Shift at epic, and spending two feats for an at-will teleport 2 is still worth it. If you need to take it, don't bother with it until paragon or epic (via retraining).
Focused Mind (PHB3) - Dazed and stunned are nasty against defenders, and there are a fair number of dazed (save ends) effects even in heroic. Improving your chance of a successful saving throw by 20% isn't bad.
Improved Defenses (HotFL) -This feat gives a feat bonus to NADs that is one higher than that available through Greater Swordmage Warding. Generally, that feat is better, since AC is important to increase. If you need +1 to all your defenses (which is the net bonus), then take this.
Improved Initiative (PHB) - If you dumped Dexterity, you may want this to get into the fight in a reasonable timeframe. It may not be enough still. Superior Initiative (PHB3) in epic is a little better, but you're still going to be slow.
Mark of Storm (Ebr)/Warding (Ebr) - The Mark feats may be limited by your DM, since they're really a part of the Eberron campaign setting. The Mark of Storm is useful for those who have tricked out their Sword Bursts with Arcane Admixture (thunder), while Mark of Warding is equivalent to a paragon-tier fighter feat plus an occasional defense bonus. Increasing mark penalty is good, ok?
Ritual Caster (PHB) - Usually, taking Learned Spellcaster is better, as you get a skill training too. Mark of Scribing (Ebr) is also better if available. If neither is available, you can take it if your group lacks other ritual casters (or has a Ritual Caster who doesn't favor Intelligence and doesn't have training in Arcana).
Resilient Focus (HotFL) - +2 feat bonus to saving throws sure blows Human Resilience out of the water. Take this to make yourself into an elite.
Swordmages now have their own version of fighting style/domain feats to enhance their at-wills. All of these feats require you to be wielding a longsword (not a huge cost for a swordmage) and hit with a particular at-will power, and some have a greater effect if you moved at least three squares away from your starting point during your turn.
Rose King's Balm (D386) - Enhances greenflame blade, granting a +2 bonus to saving throws at the end of your turn (+5 with movement). Unfortunately, most conditions that you really want to save against won't allow you an attack (stun, dominate), will decrease your chances of hitting (blinded, restrained), or will make it difficult to move at least three squares to get the higher bonus (daze, slow, immobilize).
Rose King's Run (D386) - Enhances luring strike, granting a climb speed. How often do you need to hit someone, then climb 4 squares? Too conditional.
Rose King's Shield (D386) - Enhances booming blade, granting 5 temp hp (10 with movement). This is definitely the strongest of the Rose King feats. Best used to move, then attack, so the stickiness of Booming Blade is retained.
Rose King's Step (D386) - Enhances luring strike, granting the ability to shift through difficult terrain until the end of your turn. You're a swordmage. Teleport more.
Skill Power (PHB3) - There are quite a few useful skill powers, and because your class utilities are fairly strong, this is a good way to pick one up without costing you a class utility. It also revalues some skills slightly. Insight and Endurance have lovely skill powers. See also Arcane Mutterings.
Superior Will (HotFL) - This feat compares well with Martial Resolve, an epic-tier feat for the martial classes. If you like avoiding dazing and stunning (including non-save ends variety), then this feat's for you. The feat bonus to Will is also +2 over the bonus from Greater Swordmage Warding, so it's giving you both halves. If you can fit in Focused Mind, you have little chance of being stuck dazed or stunned on your turn.
Vistani Heritage (D380) - This feat is a bloodline feat, so you only get one. It's not too useful by itself, but it gives access to Vistani Foresight (D380) in epic (which would be a gold feat if it didn't have this as a prerequisite). Depending your character's roleplaying inclinations, one or more of the Vistani "free ritual of type X" feats could also be handy. I like Vistani Pathfinding (D380) myself - there are a lot of exploration rituals, and travel rituals are also good to have in a pinch.
War Wizard's Expertise (D402) - In addition to giving you the Expertise benefits for all your arcane attacks and MBAs, your attacks are even more ally-friendly. Since you didn't have many unfriendly bursts and blasts, this primarily protects them against your arcane at-wills when dominated.
Weapon Focus/Implement Focus (heavy blades) (PHB/HotFK) - Weapon Focus used to be much better when it applied to your implement attacks as well. Now, only take one of these feats if the majority of your attacks have the weapon or implement keyword.
Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword) (PHB) - This is for assault swordmages, who make more [W] attacks than anyone else. Other swordmages don't need it as much.
White Lotus Dueling Expertise (D402) - In addition to giving you the Expertise benefits for all your arcane attacks and MBAs, this feat also gives you a proficiency with another arcane implement. This isn't too bad when used with an Orb of Nimble Thoughts (primarily for the power, after the property was weakened via errata), and there are a couple of other implements that are worth taking for their powers which you can now use.
All White Lotus feats have something in common - they only trigger when using at-will arcane spells. This means that you're going to have an easier time using them during heroic tier, and you'll want to take more attack powers which trigger outside of your turn. Fortunately, swordmages get a number of powers which fit the bill.
White Lotus Defense (D374) - It's a minor defense bonus, but if you hit enough enemies with your at-will attack, it's not bad.
White Lotus Enervation (D374) - It's (effectively) a minor attack bonus, presuming that you're spamming the same attack each time. Still, it's conditional enough that you should pass it up unless your allies also have plenty of attacks that target the defense.
White Lotus Evasion (D374) - You can evade enough already. Check out White Lotus Master Evasion at paragon and decide if you want this feat still.
White Lotus Hindrance (D374) - This feat does the opposite of what a defender wants. It encourages enemies to move away from them, and to have a hard time getting close to them. However, it also gives you access to White Lotus Master Hindrance in paragon, so take a look at this feat when you hit level 11.
White Lotus Riposte (D374) - This is probably the strongest of the White Lotus feats, especially in heroic. Doing extra damage, out of turn, helps make up for the swordmage's lower damage potential, and it leaves no good choices for an enemy. Sword Burst is the at-will of choice to take full advantage of this feat.
Wintertouched/Lasting Frost (PHB) - You need both halves of the combination for maximum effectiveness. See Lasting Frost in the paragon section for information.
Arcane Admixture (AP) - This feat helps with Sword Burst/Resounding Thunder and Wintertouched/Lasting Frost combinations. It also can trigger some other effects, such as Solid Sound. That said, if you aren't going for one of these combinations, its only other effect is to help with characters themed around a particular energy.
Arcane Reach (AP) - This feat is hard to qualify for, but being able to drop a close burst 1 as close blast 3 gives you a lot of flexibility when choosing powers.
Fiery Blood (HotEC) - A worthwhile feat bonus to damage? Wow. Of course, you need to be using the proper energy type. Works well with tieflings.
Icy Heart (HotEC) - A worthwhile feat bonus to damage? Wow. Of course, you need to be using the proper energy type. Works well with Wintertouched/Lasting Frost.
Lasting Frost (PHB) - Useless on its own, but with Wintertouched, your cold attacks are effectively getting +2 to hit and +5 damage. You can even choose enough cold attacks that you don't need a frost blade, unlike most who use the combination. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with burst powers (at least, not effectively), so that keeps it from becoming good with Sword Burst and Arcane Admixture.
Lightning Soul (HotEC) - A worthwhile feat bonus to damage? Wow. Of course, you need to be using the proper energy type. Works well with Mark of Storms.
Psychic Lock (PHB) - This feat is normally useless for a swordmage, but it's very good with a Githyanki Silver Weapon. You effectively double your mark penalty when you hit a target. It isn't compatible with other energy types rewriters, however, so take this feat only if you know you'll have the weapon and aren't using any other such tricks.
Reserve Maneuver (PHB2) - Reserve Maneuver's main use is with any paragon path that has a weak encounter ability. Take Dimensional Vortex or Transposing Lunge (if a shielding swordmage) and keep it.
Resounding Thunder (PHB) - Use this in conjunction with Arcane Admixture (thunder) to increase Sword Burst, or Primordial Blade from the Malec-Keth Keth Janissary paragon path with any burst/blast. Otherwise, check and see how many thunder bursts you've got. There's a couple, but it's probably not worth it without the at-will.
Solid Sound (PHB) - This feat's deceptively good, as it grants you an untyped defense bonus. If you use multiple such powers, it can give the bonus to multiple NADs. Most importantly, you choose which defense gets the bonus, allowing you to tailor it to the biggest threat in a given fight. It depends on power choice, but consider it if your powers align.
Thunder's Rumble (HotEC) - A worthwhile feat bonus to damage? Wow. Of course, you need to be using the proper energy type. Works well with Resounding Thunder and Solid Sound.
Uncanny Dodge (PHB) - Taking Arcane Familiar and Alert Familiar usually works better for most swordmages, but if you have enough Wis and want just this benefit, it works. You tend to get in the thick of things, so not granting a +2 bonus to hit when you're flanked is handy.
< strong>White Lotus Master Evasion (D374) - This feat's stronger than its prerequisite, but the fact that it has a prerequisite is a strike against it. How much do you need to move around the battlefield, anyway? You teleport.
White Lotus Master Hindrance (D374) - WLMH is what WLH should have been at heroic in order for it to be useful to a swordmage. Protect your allies by making sure that the folks you hit can't shift next to them. Force those OAs. Still, it's got a prerequisite, which limits its effectiveness.
White Lotus Master Riposte (D374) - White Lotus Master Riposte only works on enemies that you don't have marked. This means it's of minimal use to assault and ensnaring swordmages (who tend to end up adjacent to their mark targets), and little use to shielding swordmages. None of your at-wills have significant range. Stick with the heroic tier version.
Epic Fortitude/Reflex/Will (PHB2) - Epic Will makes up for what is probably your lowest defense; the others make you a stronger defender overall.
Epic Resurgence (PHB) - Extra uses of your encounter powers are good to have, and with Swordmage Implement Expertise, you have a pretty good chance of triggering it.
Fey Shift (HotFey) - This feat is amazing for fey swordmages, giving them at-will teleportation. Non-fey have to hold their noses and take Fey Bond, which makes it a bit less palatable, but still worthwhile.
Long Step (PHB3) - Shifting two squares instead of one with a move action can get you to the far side of a Medium enemy in a single go. It also allows you to shift into difficult terrain. Less valuable if you've already got a lot of teleportation available (say, from Fey Shift).
Strength Through Challenge (D387) - You don't get access to plate, so resist all is generally hard for you to get. This feat rewards you for being a good defender, and you have an easy time getting multiple targets marked. A strong choice, and stronger if you don't have many typed resistances with higher values.
Surprise Mark (D387) - It's a generic mark at the start of each combat, which makes it somewhat less valuable, but if you have powers or items that let you respond to a generic mark (such as Foe Caller Gauntlets), it can still be quite useful. If nothing else, it comes with the -2 penalty.
Quickened Spellcasting (AP) - It's nice to add some extra damage each fight, especially in conjunction with other at-will enhancing feats. With Total Aegis, you shouldn't need your minor action quite so often as you used to.
Ascendant Lineage (PHB2) - Memory of a Thousand Lifetime's biggest drawback is that you can still roll low enough that the modified roll is still a failure. This feat effectively makes it Reliable, so it should always help you during an encounter.
Draconic Spellcaster (AP) - This feat was dramatically powered down with the latest errata. Now, it works as a combination of Weapon Focus and Versatile Expertise, but only for the right elemental powers. Only take it if you've got a strong elemental theme with your power selection or Malec-Keth Janissary.
Eyedark Strike (D373) - An encounter ability to blind an enemy for a turn (without granting it total concealment against allied attacks) is strong, and since it triggers on a hit, it won't ever be wasted.
Shield the Fallen (FRPG) - This feat allows for you to be an even stronger defender when your allies are ailing. Increases to light blue for dwarves going the Sigil Carver route. Don't discount the save bonus for dying allies: they can potentially use it to get 20 or higher on a death save, allowing them to wake themselves up.
Dwarven Durability (PHB) - Get full use from that secondary ability by helping out the leaders in your party to restore even more of your hit points with each surge (and an extra two surges to boot). Even better with an artificer or ritualist with Comrade's Succor to share surges you don't need personally.
Aerenal Arcanist (Ebr) - This requires the Aerenal background, meaning that it can't be used in LFR, but it's a good feat if you can take it. Swordmages get many good utility spells; this allows you to pick and choose which ones you take. It also works for half-elves.
Empty Mind (D380) - Your low defense is probably going to be Will. If you're using the voidsoul manifestation, then doing 5/10/15 psychic damage when you're hit with a Will attack is decent retribution.
Extra Manifestation (FRPG) - You will probably find time to take this sometime in heroic. Being able to switch around resistances or use a different racial power comes in handy, especially with the new corrupt manifestation powers. Cindersoul is particularly tasty when your mark isn't being ignored.
Eyes of Dying Light (D380) - Darkvision is a sensory mode whose value shouldn't be understated. You can't always assume that someone is holding a sunrod. With that in mind, this feat is a nice one for heroic tier genasi or those who haven't taken Arcane Familiar/Eyes of the Familiar.
Shocking Flame (FRPG) - For an assault swordmage with the appropriate manifestation, this is equivalent to Weapon Focus during paragon tier. It increases to blue during epic tier, where the damage bonus outstrips Weapon Focus, and goes to light blue if you're manifesting both firesoul and stormsoul through Double Manifestation. Just remember - melee attacks only.
Double Manifestation (FRPG) - This could well be your level 21 feat. You did take Extra Manifestation somewhere before, right? It's usually +1 to a NAD, an extra racial power, and some extra resistance or a saving throw bonus. It also improves your versatility. There's some good racial powers available now, especially with the corrupt manifestations.
Dakshai's Body-Mind Union (PHB3) - Iron mind is already a strong racial power, but this feat gives you much more protection against save ends effects (80% chance of ignoring them before any penalties) at the cost of doing nothing about any damage that may have come along with it.
Githzerai Blade Master (D378) - There's something about feats which have the word "Blade Master" in them. Swordmages want them. This gives you the equivalent of the bastard sword weapon proficiency and a juicy damage bonus in a single tasty feat.
Shared Danger Sense (PHB3) - You're no warlord, but with this feat, you give the same sort of initiative bonus. Racial bonuses to initiative are fairly rare, so it stacks with just about everything. Remember, going first means more attacks against the enemy means enemies dead quicker.
Claw Fighter (D367) - You're fighting uphill if you're playing a gnoll, but when you take this feat, you can never lose your Swordmage Warding due to being disarmed. Take those short swords and go slash up somebody.
Ferocious Critical (PHB2) - With Swordmage Implement Expertise, you now have as good a chance of scoring a critical hit as any character (and better than many if your aegis of assault triggers regularly). Take this feat, and between your regular standard action attacks and any aegis of assault attacks that might come out, you should have this triggering in many of your combats. Follow up a critical hit on one turn with bursts/blasts on the next to maximize the boost you get.
Action Surge (PHB) - This feat is one of the great benefits of playing a human. So why isn't it rated higher? Simply put, most of your dailies don't have a large enough benefit for hitting, and your best encounters don't happen during your turn. Where a wizard is casting Sleep and a warlord is Leading the Attack, you're using Dimensional Thunder or maybe Shielding Fire. With both those powers, the effects are the key. As you go into paragon and epic tiers, there are stronger powers, but more feats competing for a slot.
Risky Aegis (AP) - A human-only swordmage feat. For shielding swordmages, you trade granting combat advantage for +2 damage, and the possibility of getting a boost for two attacks if you AP. Considering that those swordmages typically want to stay away from their marks, it's not so hot. Ensnaring and assault swordmages get more use from this feat, since they end up next to their aegis target when the immediate action triggers. For these swordmages, this is a blue feat.
Opportunity Gore (D369) - The attack bonus will fall behind your other attacks a little, but knocking prone on your OAs is great. Replaces Intelligent Blademaster for shielding and ensnaring minotaur swordmages.
Beast Within (PHB3) - Take this feat swiftly. Swordmages can now fight near 0 hit points as well as any defender, and this helps to make up for your lack of a racial Intelligence bonus. Take as many effects and items which grant temporary hit points as possible, and trigger them once you're bloodied.
Inexhaustible Resources (DSCS) - Change your second wind so it grants temporary hit points rather than healing. It makes it easier to use earlier in a fight, especially if you took Resilience of Stone with the help of a multiclass feat.
Past-Life Flashbacks (D376) - A -10 penalty to initiative every combat sounds rough (and is), but if you've taken Dimensional Vortex as your level 3 encounter power, you've got a good chance of being able to use it with a +2 attack bonus, and keep that +2 bonus for your first real round of combat. It's something to consider, based on your DM's usual terrain and creature type mix.
Restless Dead (D376) - At heroic tier, this is mediocre. Once you have Fierce Vitality at paragon tier, this power improves to light blue. Annoying that it's religion-specific. (See also Ghostly Vitality in epic)
Fierce Vitality (D376) - You've taken one of the biggest threats to a defender - getting dropped to 0 hit points or fewer - and given yourself a good buffer. The rules are a little hazy about what happens when your regular Unnatural Vitality ends and your Fierce Vitality takes over, but assuming that the DM makes the reasonable assumption of "you get one standard action per turn, but keep your immediate and opportunity actions", you're solid. It also means that your feats which trigger when you're dying have longer to be in effect.
Ghostly Vitality (D376) - Between this, Restless Dead, and Fierce Vitality, you actually function better while you're dying than when you've got hit points. Consider taking feats which give you bonuses to death saving throws (e.g. Resilient Focus), and fight while dying until you start getting close to negative bloodied or fail two death saves. At that point, your leader should be able to give you a heal that's roughly equivalent to healing back all of anyone else's hit points.
Blighting Power (DRA 2009) - Your Booming Blade gains the necrotic keyword. Who's been resisting the thunder damage? Pass.
Devious Jaunt (DRA 2009) - You're an Int-primary class. This makes your devious jaunt capable of carrying you anywhere in the battlefield. Get it when you have a chance unless your DM only puts you in caves or other locations where the battlefield's line of sight is similarly constrained.
Deathward Aegis (DRA 2009) - Gives your allies necrotic resistance when you use your aegis of shielding. Value is proportionate to how often you face undead. Generic assumption: not that often.
Shadowed Aegis (DRA 2009) - Assault swordmages tend to get stuck in the middle of fights more than those with the aegis of ensnarement or shielding. What's a good way to avoid being swarmed? How about being insubstantial every time you enforce your mark? Sounds great to me. It also gives you a little more leeway to start pulling out the big swords. Two-handers don't work well for swordmages as a rule, but if you're insubstantial, you can be hit twice for every time a regular person is hit.
Hellfire Blood (PHB) - It's a stronger feat now that the attack bonus for fire powers isn't competing with other feat bonuses. It's also stronger by point of comparison, since the big attack boosters were all strongly tamped down. Works best with a Flaming Weapon or Weapon of Summer so you're not limited in your choice of attack powers.
Secrets of Belial (PHB:T) - As nice as the swordmage utilities are, the ability to swap your level 6 or 10 utility for Serpent's Cunning makes this a hugely useful feat. If your DM is ok with losing an underwhelming paragon path utility, even though it's against the Rules Compendium rules, it becomes even better.
Secret of Enduring Vigor (PHB3) - This is an immediate interrupt, so you don't start dying... unless you take a healing surge on top of what would drop you, in which case you were probably close to negative bloodied anyway. A nice way to keep ticking for a round without requiring your leader to bring you back up.
Multiclass feats requiring any combination of Strength 13, Constitution 13, Wisdom 13, and/or Intelligence 13+ were evaluated. Most swordmages will be able to qualify for these multiclass feats by paragon tier at the latest.
Student of Artifice (Ebr) is the easiest leader feat for a swordmage to take, based on prerequisites. It also is the only leader "daily heal" feat which doesn't cost a surge for the recipient. The downsides are that it doesn't give a new skill, and there are few artificer class feats that a swordmage wants to take.
You'll want to take Disciple of Divine Wrath (PHB2). This feat can come in handy when you need to land one of your dailies where the usefulness of the power is tied up in the hit line. You'll also have a good skill modifier with Religion. The downside is that oath of enmity requires you to not be surrounded, and given your role as a defender, that's not something you can always count on.
Berserker's Fury (PHB2) is straightforward. Get a class skill for the barbarian, and once per day, +2 to damage rolls with every attack. This is roughly equivalent to the ranger's Warrior of the Wild in terms of skill access and damage bonus, but Berserker's Fury lasts the whole combat and works against every enemy without costing a minor action, and is therefore rated slightly higher.
Demanding Talent (PHB3) works in a straightforward fashion. If you want an extra mark that works at range, this feat delivers. Obviously, it loses some of its appeal in paragon when you have other ways of multimarking, and doesn't give access to many good feats/paragon paths/powers.
Initiate of the Faith (PHB) gives you Religion, which will have a good modifier, and a once-per-day heal. Since you don't get Healer's Lore (at least, not without taking Divine Healer, a lousy feat), it doesn't heal any more than a warlord's heal. Take this if you want to have a divine class for other prerequisites.
Student of the Sword (PHB) gives you +1 attack once per encounter with your sword, and a brief second mark. Battle Awareness (MP) requires more to take (Wisdom as well as Strength), but note that it doesn't require you to have that target marked. You aren't stickier because of it, but it's a little extra damage you can get that enemies have no way to expect. Martial Power 2 delivers Cyclone Warrior (MP2) (you aren't dual-wielding), Wrathful Fighter (MP2) (good for a couple of temp hp each encounter) and Brawling Warrior (MP2). Since swordmages nearly always keep a hand free, getting a +1 to an attack you just rolled once each encounter can come in handy when you know you just barely missed (and the extra AC isn't too bad either). Each of the previous feats gives you a skill from the fighter class list (whoop-de-doo), but also gives you access to fighter feats. Ever since Martial Power came out, fighters have had some nice feats. With this, you can also have access to those feats which don't also require Combat Challenge.
Divine Secretkeeper (DP) is slightly better than the wizard equivalent (Learned Spellcaster), as it also gives you the free once-per-day version of Hand of Fate. It also qualifies you for generic divine feats, which is some help depending on class and tier.
Disciplined Talent (PHB3) gives you your choice of psion class skills. Most of these overlap with swordmage class skills, but Perception is in there. The unaugmentable at-will requires an implement that you'll probably never have, but you can grab Mind Thrust or Kinetic Trawl for a ranged basic attack on the off-chance you need one of those. It doesn't grant much access to feats or paragon paths, but there are a couple of orbs which have decent properties.
Warrior of the Wild (PHB) is nearly as straightforward as Berserker's Fury. You get your choice of feats from the ranger (and they give good choices), as well as Hunter's Quarry for two turns each encounter. The downsides are that Hunter's Quarry must target the nearest creature when you use it (meaning no teleport shenanigans to attack a target in the back lines), it only affects one creature (more of an issue for the swordmages focusing on close bursts), and it requires a minor action which you need for your aegis and some of your utility powers. These are minor downsides, and Warrior of the Wild is still a solid choice.
Student of Divine Runes (PHB3)is a standard leader daily heal which also gives Religion as a skill. The lower healing potential is somewhat compensated for by the Runic benefits, which either increase damage or defenses for the group for a turn. A +2/4/6 power bonus to damage as a minor action is nothing to sneeze at for an alpha-strike round, even if no one needs healing.
Twilight Adept (MP2) is the first rogue multiclass feat which doesn't require Dexterity, and is probably the easiest way to pick up Stealth. Cunning Sneak is a pretty nifty ability, even if your Stealth modifier isn't going to be the greatest. You also get access to martial feats.
Spirit Talker (PHB2) doesn't provide a daily heal, unlike most choices for leader multiclass feats. On the other hand, it does give you Nature, a spirit companion, a once-per-encounter OA with the spirit companion, and a once-per-day boost to a skill check. The spirit companion can come in handy to block enemy movement, and the protector's spirit OA doesn't have to hit to give back a couple of hit points. On the other hand, the expansion feat for Spirit Talker is Mending Spirit (PP), which gives use of the shaman's healing spirit once per encounter. With this feat, you can act as a secondary healer for your party, rather than emergency healer once per day.
Defender of the Wild (PHB2) gives you your choice of a warden class skill (which includes Nature and Perception), and the ability to do a brief mass-mark around you each encounter. The latter becomes less important by epic tiers, but could allow you to do two huge bursts for a short time. It also gives you access to Sudden Roots, a very strong defender feat. The expansion feat, Warden's Endurance (PP), gives you Font of Life once per encounter. This has the potential to be huge (getting rid of a nasty condition like blinded, dominated, dazed or stunned) or meaningless. After all, you still need to make the save.
Student of Battle (PHB) is the standard leader heal once per day. Tactical Leader (MP) gives you a tiny version of the Tactical Presence form of the Commanding Presence class feature, once per encounter. Martial Power 2 brings four new multiclass feats, three of which give better bonuses than the two aforementioned feats. Bravura Leader (MP2) gives a mini Bravura Presence (increased damage in exchange for granting CA), while Resourceful Leader (MP2) gives a mini Resourceful Presence (increased damage on a hit, temp hp on a miss). Many swordmages will qualify for both of those multiclass feats, which, when taken together, give a warlord-level damage boost on an AP. Skirmishing Leader (MP2) gives a mini Skirmishing Presence (movement before/after AP) which can save a move action during a nova round or help out a slowed target. Insightful Leader (MP2) also gives a mini-Presence benefit, but +1 to defenses with an AP requires the target to remember the bonus, and it's not large enough to change many hits into misses. All of the warlord multiclass feats give you your choice of skills from the warlord class list (though it's somewhat sparse). The skills aren't exciting, but they do give you access to warlord feats and martial feats, some of which can be nice.
It's easy for swordmages to qualify for both wizard multiclass feats. Arcane Initiate (PHB) gives you an area burst or RBA as an encounter power. Learned Spellcaster (AP) gives you Nature or Religion, and the wizard's Ritual Casting feature. Unfortunately, the bonus rituals are granted by the wizard's Spellbook feature - you'll have to pay for every ritual you get.
Martial Resolve (MP) - Saving twice against the big nasty conditions for defenders is key. This is the Font of Life benefit, and can even grant saves against multiple conditions if you're unfortunate to suffer from them. If you qualify through a martial multiclass and have the Wisdom, you shouldn't regret taking this.
Resilience of Stone (MP2) - A dwarven paragon-tier feat, but it has a greater benefit for muls who choose to take dwarven feats. Changing your second wind from a standard action to an immediate interrupt helps out your leader quite a bit.
Timely Revival (MP) - Human only, and epic to boot. Still, if your leader's not keeping you up, this feat will help bring you back from dying. Success on a death save means 10+, and you probably don't have any easier ways to spend your second wind. Just remember that it doesn't say you use your second wind as a free action, so it still costs a standard action. Beats dying, though.
Eladrin's Challenge (MP2) - Eladrin only (as you might have guessed from the name). If your DM isn't allowing the Mark of Warding feat, then this feat is the only way for a swordmage to pick up an improved mark penalty.
PolearmMomentum (MP) - The prerequisites for this feat are killer. Besides fighter, you also need to have Dex and Wis 15: two abilities that usually aren't even secondary for a swordmage. You also have to use a polearm for your weapon, so you're stuck with a glaive if you want your Swordmage Warding (and you do).That said, if you work it so that you qualify, take Luring Strike, and use something like Rushing Cleats to increase the distance you slide the target, you could be knocking enemies prone with your at-will, while repositioning the enemy and moving yourself around. It requires a lot of planning to get to work, so it's not something that you get without building around it.
Small Warrior's Defense (D378) - Medium warriors wish they got something this good. If you're playing a Small swordmage, you're probably wielding a versatile weapon in two hands. If you take this feat, now you've got the equivalent of the full bonus of your Swordmage Warding, as well as an extra +2 to Reflex to boot.
Tactical Insight (MP) - It's half-elf only, and it's epic tier, but giving all of your allies +2 to damage rolls against every enemy you have marked can't be ignored. It's great with things which expand your aegis burst, since Total Aegis means you can mark them all.
Sudden Roots (PHB2) - Slowing with your opportunity attack is just as effective for you as it is for the warden. Ensnaring swordmages like this feat even more than shielding or assault swordmages, because it makes it harder for their mark target to escape.
Fey Tactics (MP) - This warlord only feat is for the eladrin. Taking someone along with you when you fey step can be good to get a striker out of trouble, or to move up a leader or another defender who's stuck adjacent to an enemy.
A short note before the equipment ratings: This guide was written before item rarity ever existed. Although item rarity has affected how magic items in 4E work, I'm going to keep going with the assumption that players have at least some control over common and uncommon magic items, while DMs control rare magic items, artifacts, and alternative rewards. I rate the former, and I have a short section at the end for the rare magic items which a swordmage might particularly want.
WotC has listed some alternative rewards as uncommon and others as rare (I'm not aware of any common alternative rewards). I think that's more an artifact of shoehorning item rarity onto non-items than it is a good evaluation of how readily available those non-items are. Many of them are campaign-specific (especially Dark Sun) and are less well-suited for general play or reflavoring than most magic items are.
In addition, some DMs will go by the suggestion that alternative rewards "fade" after five levels. Any DM who follows this suggestion devalues alternative rewards considerably. That suggestion assumes that PCs replace their items every five levels. In practice, the expected "wealth per level" assumes that a PC does that for the items with enhancement bonuses, but doesn't do it for other items more than once (maybe twice, if passing up something else).
Armor of Aegis Expansion (AV2, lvl. 2+) - A cheap armor with an encounter power; this lets you protect everyone (including yourself) when your marked target tries to use a close power to get around your aegis. It scales in two ways (based on enhancement bonus and scaling by tier), keeping it effective at higher levels. Armor of Resistance (AV, lvl. 2+) - Resistances are your bread-and-butter as a defender. Try to get a suit which resists a common elemental type for your campaign. Runic Armor (AV2, lvl. 3+) - One benefit of this armor is the item bonus to Arcana, which helps for Sage of Ages optimization. The other is a boost to your damage after second winding. Better for dwarf swordmages, of course. Sylvan Armor (PHB, lvl. 3+) - Simple, but effective. Help keep your Athletics check up even though you're probably not improving Strength, and make it less likely that you'll fail the group Stealth check for everyone. Battle Harness (DMA 2009, lvl. 4+) - You get Quick Draw with a scaling bonus to initiative. Helps swordmages who dumped Dexterity, though it doesn't stack with a warlord's bonus. Parchment Armor (AV2, lvl. 4+) - Many times in a fight, you'll have figured out an enemy's defenses and know that you missed by just a little. With this armor, you can changes those misses into hits. It scales very well, allowing it to affect more attacks at higher levels. Flowform Armor (PHB3, lvl. 4+) - You can't use the augment, but that doesn't really matter. This armor gives you protection against save ends effects, and combines well with save rerollers. It improves at higher tiers when the save ends effects become nastier, improving to light blue. Blending Armor (MME, lvl. 9+) - Ignore the bonus to Stealth; that's mainly giving you a chance to succeed during a group Stealth check. The encounter power, on the other hand, helps you to reposition yourself when you're out of teleports.
Feytouched Armor (MotP, lvl. 12+) - You get the initiative bonus all the time, and the encounter power is quite nice when you've gotten swarmed and need a little time to escape. It lasts for a full turn afterwards, so you also get an attack with CA out of it. Crystalline Breastplate (AV2, lvl. 15+) - Hard to figure out how a crystalline breastplate comes in leather, but I digress. This is an improved form of the armor of resistance since you can change the resistance each extended rest. The one clear disadvantage comes if you fight enemies with mixed elemental types. That's mostly a fear for lightning/thunder, but there are some fire/cold. Very few things do radiant and necrotic. Dawn Warrior Armor (E1, lvl. 20+) - This is an improved form of the other resistance-style armors. The resistance itself is a little lower, but it protects against a wide range and has no drawbacks. It even has a daily power which doesn't require an attack roll (very nice, since most which do require attack rolls have a low attack bonus). Shame that it's from an adventure, so many DMs won't allow it.
Farbond Spellblade (AV2, lvl. 2+) - You get access to a strong ranged basic attack presuming you took Intelligent Blademaster or pumped Strength. Sometimes, especially at low heroic, you can't get to your enemy. Now you can do something to him. Aegis Blade (AV2, lvl. 3+) - Its only advantage over a generic magic weapon is the daily power, but it's a great way to draw attention to yourself in a fight, and the fact that it's your aegis mark means it works better for swordmages. Frost Weapon (PHB, lvl. 3+) - Primarily used with Lasting Frost/Wintertouched for frostcheese, but cold damage isn't commonly resisted, so it can also change your elemental powers to cold to avoid resistances. Rhythm Blade (AV2, lvl. 3+) - If you're going to dual wield for Dual Implement Spellcaster, this is your best choice for an off-hand weapon enchantment. Also note that it increases your shield bonus by 1 rather than granting a +1 shield bonus, so it does stack with things like Two-Weapon Defense (if you've got a lot of feats to invest). Master's Blade (AV2, lvl. 4+) - There are a lot of stances available to swordmages from level 2 on. It's easy to be in one, which gives you an untyped attack bonus to your at-wills. The daily power helps when you run into a boss fight so that you don't have to choose between an offensive stance and a defensive one (or two defensive ones if it's really nasty). Weapon of Arcane Bonds (AV2, lvl. 4+) - The power is an encounter power, and it can work at range if you've taken some of the longer range powers. You probably won't complete the item set, which is a shame. Weapon of Defense (MME, lvl. 4+) - Untyped resistance is always nice, even in such a small amount, and the daily is especially useful when you know you won't be using your mark punishment or other immediate action powers. Fey Strike Weapon (D381, lvl. 5+) - This works as a rich man's Farbond Spellblade once per encounter, but the daily is nice for dislodging an annoying artillery or lurker who keeps staying out of range of the melee strikers. Runic Weapon (AV2, lvl 5+) - An at-will way of gaining temps is nice. It's not much each time, but it should save you a surge throughout an adventuring day. Dread Weapon (AV, lvl. 8+) - While it's somewhat unimpressive when first available, the value of this weapon increases as you gain the use of larger bursts and blasts, an increased critical hit range, and the increased penalty to defenses and checks. A generous DM might include attack rolls under checks, per the definition of page 11 of the PHB, but assume defenses, skill checks, and ability checks will be covered. Force Weapon (AV, lvl. 8+) - Force damage is almost impossible to resist, and the daily locks down something you hit for a round. No save ends here. Mithrendain Steel Weapon (DMA 2009, lvl. 8+) - The property is very nice to improve all your teleportation. The daily isn't as good with the clarification on forced teleportation. Mordant Weapon (P1, lvl. 8+) - Daily isn't so hot, but few things resist acid and poison both. Rubicant Blade (D385, lvl. 8+) - The property is very nice to improve all your teleportation, and the daily is good to reposition you and half your party (very nice if some were immobilized away from enemies). Feyslaughter Weapon (AV, lvl. 9+) - This has an excellent property. It's worth buying a cheap version of this in late paragon/early epic to have on hand when you face a nasty teleporting foe. -2 to your attacks and damage is worth it if the enemy can't escape you. Githyanki Silver Weapon (MotP, lvl. 9+) - Turn your damage into psychic damage. Works well with Psychic Lock to give a larger attack penalty to those you hit, and the daily power is great for getting a breather against a nasty enemy, or to put one enemy on pause while you deal with other problems. PROTIP: Grab a Headband of Intellect along with a Githyanki Silver Weapon to improve your attack bonus.
Jagged Weapon (AV, lvl. 12+) - This weapon is a relatively low level way to get critical hits on a natural roll of 19, which is nice. A bit less good in epic now, where Swordmage Implement Expertise becomes available. Farslayer Weapon (AV2, lvl. 13+) - While a Farbond Spellblade has a better range, this weapon allows MBAs at range. It's easier to optimize MBAs (and they don't provoke opportunity attacks), which means this weapon has its advantages. Predatory Weapon (AV, lvl. 13+) - This weapon is as good as a vicious weapon against marked targets, and it gives you an extra mark each encounter when you hit a target. Draw the enemies down upon you. Battlemaster's Weapon (AV, lvl. 14+) - This is another generic magic weapon with a daily power, but the daily power recharges an encounter power in the middle of the fight. Even if you don't end up using it as your primary weapon, it still works as a pseudo-Salve of Power that doesn't cost a healing surge to use. Blade of the Eldritch Knight (AV2, lvl. 15+) - Remember Farslayer Weapon from just above? What if any of your melee attacks could be used at that range? This is also part of the Eldritch Panoply item set, and the first item benefit is pretty snazzy for swordmages who focus on teleportation. It means that assault and ensnaring swordmages can teleport two squares as a minor action whenever they mark someone. Radiant Weapon (AV, lvl. 15+) - The second radiant damage weapon, and the first one that's probably worth using. One of the few sources of an item bonus to damage for all of a swordmage's powers, and it synergizes well with a dragonshard augment. Planesplitter Weapon (MotP, lvl. 19+) - The encounter power gives you a little extra range with any of your melee attacks, including encounters and dailies. The daily power helps with mobility a great deal, and can benefit your entire party. The ability to use Planar Portal when you hold the weapon is just cool, but cool is good. Shadowfell Blade (P3, lvl. 19+) - This weapon gets to be radiant against the majority of creatures who are naturally vulnerable to necrotic damage and has an encounter power which turns you insubstantial for a turn. All that, and it gives you a double attack and movement as a daily item power? Not too shabby.
Death Mark Weapon (AV2, lvl. 23+) - It's a vicious weapon against enemies you marked, and it also improves your mobility considerably if you manage to finish a target off. Good for repositioning and then marking again. Brilliant Energy Weapon (AV, lvl. 25+) - The cream of the crop for radiant damage weapons. The damage is lower than its predecessor, but it can change one of your AC attacks into a Reflex attack each encounter. That's between +2 and +5 depending on what type of creature you're targeting. Works best against brutes and soldiers.
Note: With the release of the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, there's a new weapon - wrist razors. Enchanted wrist razors take up the arms slot but don't take up a hand, leaving you with the good warding bonus. Any properties which don't require attacking with the weapon can be very handy. Heroic TierShow
Bracers of Mighty Striking/Iron Armbands of Power (AV, lvl. 2+/6+) - The Bracers of Mighty Striking work best for assault swordmages who don't otherwise have many melee powers. Iron Armbands of Power are more expensive, but are strictly better than the bracers. If the swordmage focuses on melee attacks, the IAoP improves to blue. Shielding Blade Wrist Razors (D391, lvl. 2) - With this enchantment on your wrist razors, you get a +1 shield bonus to your AC. The reason for its dual rating is simple. If your DM agrees with the interpretation of allowing Rhythm Blade Wrist Razors to function, they're pretty much strictly better (also adding the shield bonus to Reflex). If the DM disagrees with this interpretation, the Shielding Blade is a good substitute. Phylactery of Action (Homm, lvl. 3) - This item is basically too good. A host of nasty conditions, and this allows you to reroll a save each encounter. The one downside is its source (the Village of Hommlet bonus module), which means many DMs won't allow it. Rhythm Blade Wrist Razors (AV2/DSCS, lvl. 3) - This is a very nice way to get the benefit of the Rhythm Blade (+1 AC/Ref) without losing the +3 bonus to AC from your warding. Bracers of Mental Might (AV, lvl. 6) - These bracers allow you to take a power swap feat from another class or to take an out-of-class paragon path and still use its encounter power or daily power each fight. Not much point to them otherwise.
Rapidstrike Bracers (AV, lvl. 15) - The initiative bonus is nice, but the main benefit is getting an at-will instead of an MBA when making an opportunity attack or charging. Rebuking Bracers (AV2, lvl. 18) - Repositioning with a critical hit, and excellent synergy with the Blade of the Eldritch Knight. Between the two of them, you also get the first item set bonus for the Eldritch Panoply.
Acrobat Boots (PHB, lvl. 2) - Cheap boots, and standing from prone as a minor means you won't need to charge as often. Boots of Free Movement (AV, lvl. 6) - Even swordmages can't teleport all the time, and immobilized and restrained stink for you in heroic tier as much as most non-ranged attackers. This gives an encounter power to try to get rid of those conditions early. Boots of the Fencing Master (AV, lvl. 7) - A nice item bonus to your defenses when you shift, and an encounter minor to let you shift two squares (which allows shifting into difficult terrain). Rushing Cleats (AV, lvl. 7) - Not a very good item for most swordmages, but an integral part of the Polearm Momentum builds where it's used to knock targets prone at-will. Boots of Sand and Sea (AV, lvl. 10) - Similar to Boots of Striding a level earlier, but it throws in an encounter power to help you swim for a turn. The 800 gold is minimal at higher levels, and if it helps you once, it has paid for itself.
Feystep Lacings (AV, lvl. 12) - The Reflex bonus is always nice, and teleportation usable multiple times in a day (and without a daily item use) benefits swordmages who have already used their other teleports and need to move to mark or attack. Eladrin Boots (PHB, lvl. 16) - Another teleportation enhancer, and a daily teleport tacked on. The property is why you sought these boots out. They grant a benefit to all teleports, not just teleportation powers, making them useful in conjunction with the Fey Shift feat. Phantom Chaussures (AV, lvl. 18) - While wearing these boots, you gain the warlock's Shadow Walk. That's a huge property, and the daily grants you invisibility for 1.5 turns as a free action, which definitely gives you a defensive boost when running (or teleporting) into the middle of foes. Planestrider Boots (MotP, lvl. 18) - The first property allows you to teleport around corners when you otherwise wouldn't have had line of sight. The encounter teleport means you can move nearly anywhere on the battlefield that you want, every encounter. You just can't guarantee being able to get back out.
Boots of Caiphon (AV2, lvl. 24) - A strong property, and for the cost of some damage, unparalleled at-will ground-based mobility. Note that the power is a minor action, not a move. Zephyr Boots (AV, lvl. 24) - You wear light armor. With these boots, make like Peter Pan and start flying. Note that you don't get a hover speed, so you can't stop in mid-air unless something else is granting it. Sandals of Avandra (AV, lvl. 25) - While these sandals aren't as good for letting you move as the Boots of Caiphon, they come with no drawbacks. Your base speed is increased, you're probably shifting 4 squares each turn as a move action, and once per encounter, turn off movement-based OAs and just go to town for two turns. Boots of Teleportation (AV, lvl. 28) - The ultimate in ground-based mobility. Works well in conjunction with most teleportation enhancers.
Gauntlets of Arcane Might (AV2, lvl. 3) - A cheap set of gloves which give a couple temps when you hit a marked foe. They don't have higher tier versions, so it's strictly a heroic thing, but it should probably save a surge at lower levels. Gauntlets of Blood (AV2, lvl. 4+) - Cheap and effective. The conditional bonus't main challenge is remembering that it applies. Antipathy Gloves (AV, lvl. 10) - As a defender, you want enemies to be near you rather than your friends, and two of the aegises (assault and ensnarement) cause enemies to be adjacent to you anyway. With that in mind, the nice part about the antipathy gloves is that they allow you to block up the middle of a battlefield. In cramped conditions, this means that you're making it harder for enemies to reach your allies in the back rows. Strikebacks (AV, lvl. 10) - It's an immediate reaction to use the gloves, but they're usable each encounter. Once per encounter, you'll probably get smacked by a foe you marked and not need your immediate action for anything else.
Gloves of Ice (AV2, lvl. 11+) - Obviously, the value of these gloves is proportionate to the number of cold-based powers you take. If you are taking the Lasting Frost/Wintertouched combo, this improves to light blue. Many-Fingered Gloves (AV2, lvl. 20) - You might notice that there aren't many hands slot items on this list, especially at higher tiers. Taking these gloves means you trade your hands slot for another ring slot... and there are plenty of good rings to use.
Foe Caller Gauntlets (D381, lvl. 22) - These gauntlets give you a strong defensive presence. With them, you can typically cancel one attack each encounter with an effect that is equivalent to a combination of aegis of assault and aegis of ensnarement at immediate interrupt speed. Also useful against artillery, skirmishers, and lurkers to bring them into the middle of the fight. Use with ranged marks such as Radiant Shield.
Circlet of Mental Onslaught (AV, lvl. 11) - The bonus to Will is always nice, and one encounter per day, you get +1 to your attacks. Solid choice. Circlet of Arkhosia (PHB D, lvl. 14+) - As a defender, you hate dazed, stunned, (and in epic, dominated). This circlet gives you the equivalent of Font of Life against these effects. This is great. Helm of Able Defense (AV2, lvl. 14) - It's cheesy and doesn't help against autodamage, but getting an untyped +2 to all defenses until you're damaged can prevent you from ever being hit.
Coif of Focus (AV, lvl. 21) - This makes you a solo against daze and stun effects, and for the daily, when you really can't afford being dazed or stunned, you can ignore it at the cost of a healing surge. Less good in LFR where Snap Out of It is popped like candy, but even there, the property is great. Eye of Awareness (AV, lvl. 23) - Generic but effective. Will's probably your low defense, and you don't favor Dexterity, so your initiative is probably low. This addresses both of those problems. Iron of Spite (AV, lvl. 27) - Primarily used for Sage of Ages optimization, this item also gives a little bit of extra damage against melee attackers who aren't undead.
Cloak of the Chiurgeon (AV, lvl. 3+) - Not very useful when worn, but when used as a pseudo-wondrous item, it's a level 3 item which restores a healing surge between encounters to whomever needs it the most. That comes in handy. Amulet of Life (D381, lvl. 5+) - Sometimes, you're just scraping above zero hit points. This lets you get back in the game fast. An improved form of Cloak of the Walking Wounded, since it can be used with any effect that lets you spend a surge. Steadfast Amulet (AV, lvl. 8+) - This is a daily power, but it's reliable and gets rid of nasty conditions. That means it's always got a chance to be useful Cloak of Survival (PHB, lvl. 9+) - Multiple resistances to common energy types is good, and the Endurance bonus is icing on the cake. Cloak of Translocation (AV2, lvl. 9+) - If you're a swordmage who focuses on teleportation powers (including your mark if you go with assault or ensnarement), then this neck slot item gives you a persistent +2 to AC and Reflex. That's plenty strong. Keicha's Amulet (AV2, lvl. 9+) - This amulet lets you pick a useful resistance from a list each day, and lets you share it with an ally in need. It's also part of a nice item set, so if you can convince your friends to join in the fun, you get a lot of skill bonuses and potentially the ability to share surges. Periapt of Cascading Health (D369, lvl. 10+) - One of the stronger things printed in early Dragon. Automatically ending a save ends effect as a minor action is good, but being able to do it once per encounter is better. It even improves at higher tiers, granting you further benefits against save ends conditions. Teetering on the edge of gold.
Drow House Insignia (P2, lvl. 12+) - The property is mostly useless (Intimidate those spiders!) but the daily power gives you concealment for an entire fight. Seashimmer Cloak (AV2, lvl. 13+) - Besides the useful property (worth getting this item once it's cheap just to get around underwater), the daily power allows you to get some protection when you're being swarmed. Wyrmtouched Amulet (AV, lvl. 19+) - For the dragonborn swordmage. With multiple breath damage types, you get multiple resistances. The daily power is more fun than powerful, but it's not bad.
Cloak of Invisibility (AV, lvl. 23+) - Another daily power as the only effect, but if you can force rerolls on attacks, you can keep it going for a while. It also makes your defenses very, very high, making your marks more likely to ignore you, and increasing the chance that it'll continue to last. Far-Step Amulet (AV2, lvl. 29) - The daily is nuts for crossing a battlefield, but the key is the static bonus to teleportation distance. It even works with its own power, so you can actually teleport 23 squares with it. Torc of Power Preservation (AV, lvl. 30) - The daily power here is reliable, and lets you use one of your encounter powers twice. Getting an extra use of an encounter power in a tough fight can mean an extra attack prevented, or an extra status effect applied, and reliable means you don't worry about wasting the item daily power if you manage to roll 3 or below.
Eladrin Ring of Passage (P1, lvl. 14) - A teleport enhancer, and as a daily (post-milestone), you can ignore line of sight for the teleport. It's not very often useful in fights, but during skill challenges and roleplaying, it can be used to great effect. Ring of the Dragonborn Emperor (AV, lvl. 15) - The daily is nice for increasing damage a little, and the breath weapon enhancement is nice for dragonborn, but the ring works best for those who are enhancing Sword Burst to get +3 damage on all the bursts. Bone Ring of Better Fortune (AV, lvl. 18) - The better of the necrotic resistance rings (especially because it stacks with other resistances). The daily is nice for the necrotic effects with a nasty side effect like blind, stun, or surge loss. Foe Binder Ring (D381, lvl. 19) - You've probably grown to hate elites and solos that get around your mark penalty by attacking everything. Now, your mark still doesn't trigger, but at least they still take the penalty (even on the attack against you). Ring of Dimensional Escape (MotP, lvl. 20) - A teleport enhancer, and a nice fallback if someone manages to bring you down. If you can't find a safe spot within 21 squares, you were probably dead anyway. (Incidentally, it's a nice item for DMs to give their big bads. Fall into a pit of lava, and reappear later to fanfare).
Greater Ring of Invisibility (AV2, lvl. 23) - The property is ok, but the meat of the ring is in the encounter power. It gives you invisibility for two turns, and after your first milestone, concealment for the rest of the encounter. It compares favorably to the Shadow Band, which is 4 levels higher (and which is rare as of MME, making this the superior choice). Nullifying Ring (AV, lvl. 30) - A huge bonus to saving throws of all kinds, and a daily power which, post-milestone, basically says "you ignore an attack". If the attack still has a status effect on a miss, that's not affected.
Viper Belt (AV, lvl. 4) - Poison isn't the most common damage type, but when it shows up, it's frequently associated with ongoing damage. The Viper Belt protects against ongoing poison up to 5, and has an encounter power to deal with large poison effects. Diamond Cincture (AV2, lvl. 10+) - Even after the errata, getting a permanent boost to Fortitude and the ability to spend surges in the middle of combat as minor actions is nice. Even better if your leader is one of the less-healing kinds, such as a tactical warlord.
Baldric of Assault (AV2, lvl. 11) - This gives you a bit more control along with your aegis of assault. Fun trick with this item - use it to slide an enemy off an edge. If they fall, your aegis of assault attack misses, but they're taking damage anyway. If they don't fall, they're prone for when you land on them and stab them. Belt of the Witch King (AV2, lvl. 18) - A solid bonus to Fortitude, and a daily power that'll probably give you around 30 hit points in paragon and more in epic when you're starting to hurt in a tough fight. Baldric of Shielding (AV2, lvl. 19) - With this item, you get most of the best feature in the Coronal Guard paragon path. It annoys DMs who find that you're nerfing one of their monsters while gaining the temporary hit points to block another one.
Belt of Vitality (AV, lvl. 23) - Simple in execution, but effective. Fortitude bonus is always nice, but if you need the other power on a regular basis, yell at your leader. Sash of Regeneration (AV2, lvl. 28) - I hear regeneration is good, even if it's only while bloodied. It means you'll never spend more than two surges during an extended rest.
Siberys Shard of the Mage (L3/13/23) (EPG) - There is no reason for you to take another dragonshard augment (unless you have an elemental theme or energy changer weapon, in which case choose the appropriate shard). This adds more damage to all of your implement powers.
Ruby Scabbard (AV, lvl. 5+) - There are other scabbards at higher levels, but the basic function remains the same. You get Quick Draw, usable only for the blade you put in the scabbard. Since you don't use a shield, getting Quick Draw for the blade is all you need. This way, you don't have to have your sword out at all times (which, while moot for a dungeon crawl, comes in handy in city fights so you can mark on your first turn). The Diplomat's Scabbard is probably the best upgrade for a defender. Elven Chain Shirt (MME, lvl. 9+) - Here's the second gold item in the handbook (and the only one that isn't rare). As a defender, you want high AC. This gives you an item bonus to AC without jumping through any hoops. Get one of these as soon as you can.
Solitare (Citrine, Aquamarine, Violet) (AV, lvl. 11+) - Each solitaire is weaker after the errata, but you don't need to be holding them to use them, so it's worth throwing 'em in your pack and using them when you can benefit. Keoghtom't s Ointment (PHB, lvl. 12) - While this item is useful for everyone, for a defender, being able to get a healing surge back is nice towards the end of a rough day. The ability to end diseases and poisons makes it better than Cloak of the Chiurgeon assuming either of those effects appear in your games. Elemental Prism (Du 165, lvl. 16) - This wondrous item helps you get around resistances, and as an added bonus, gives you resistance against the original damage type. Since you typically see creatures using elemental damage that they resist, it means more damage to them and less to you. Too bad about the source, though. Battle Standard of the Stalwart (AV, lvl. 19) - All battle standards can be useful, but this one (and BSotV below) both have large bursts and strong persistent effects that are worth spending a standard action to set up. +1 power bonus to defenses (or attacks, below) can prevent a lot of damage over the course of a fight, and for the enemy to undo it, it needs to spend a standard action of its own. All battle standards are less useful when you fight minions, but by this level, you should be able to handle most minions before they can reach your standard. Battle Standard of the Vanguard (AV, lvl. 20) - See above.
Bloodcrystal Raven Skull (E1, lvl. 21) - Another great item with an unfortunate source. This wondrous item prevents you from dying while it holds your healing surges, and it works for the whole party. It's listed as a good item for you because, as a defender, you're likely to be the first one to be killed in a fight. Charm of Abundant Action (AV, lvl. 28) - You know that sometimes, you feel like you're spending an action point just to make sure it isn't going to waste at the end of the adventuring day? Now, you can stock up on action points to unleash them in the fights where you really, really need them.
Demonskin Tattoo (AV2, lvl. 3+) - Elemental resistance of your choice, every other encounter (actually, a little better, because you typically don't need elemental resistance during a skill challenge). Fireheart Tattoo (AV2, lvl. 4+) - This gives you extra temporary hit points every other encounter (but same as the Demonskin Tattoo, it's really every other combat encounter.) If you're using an action point, those extra temps will probably go to use. Tattoo of the Wolverine (AV2, lvl. 7+) - A benefit that will probably come every encounter - the heroic tier version is probably all you need. +1 to attack is the better half, and that doesn't scale. Backlash Tattoo (AV2, lvl. 9) - Basically the tattoo form of Strikebacks, this is better (any basic attack, triggers on any type of attack, doesn't necessarily target the enemy who did it) and worse (only triggers once per encounter, so you may not have an immediate action to use it). Eager Hero's Tattoo (AV2, lvl. 10+) - The improved form of the Fireheart Tattoo. It's a lot more expensive, but it's worth it. Even the heroic tier version gives you between 5 and 13 temporary hit points at the start of each encounter, and the temporary hit points are increasing as the day goes on and you are probably running out of other resources besides just healing surges.
This section is for rare items that a swordmage is particularly interested in. While they are harder to obtain than common or uncommon magic items, the benefits are worth it.
Dice of Auspicious Fortune (D381, lvl. 11) - Even after two rounds of weakening, these dice are still great. The ability to know ahead of time what you're going to roll for an attack precludes the loss of an encounter or daily power, so long as you have an idea of what the enemy's defenses are. Greater Armor of Eyes (MME, lvl. 14+) - If you are blind, you can't teleport. This removes the possibility of blindness and helps you to not grant CA when flanked at higher levels. Horreb Ritual Cube (Du 170, lvl. 18) - Potentially the most broken thing the James brothers ever wrote. Even with an empty one, and ignoring the 0 cost, a +2 bonus to saving throws for a level 18 wondrous item is great. Ioun Stone of Intellect (MME, lvl. 21) - Swordmages lack an easy way to gain item bonuses to damage with all their powers without using a specific (radiant) weapon. This ioun stone helps your damage contribution not feel totally insignificant. Shadow Band (MME, lvl. 27) - Concealment is another way to bump your defenses up so that all the hate you draw doesn't drop you. Opal Ring of Remembrance (AV, lvl. 29) - I generally err on the side of caution when assigning things the light blue color, let alone gold. This is worth gold. A +2 item bonus to all of your Intelligence-based attacks is something that any optimized swordmage wants, regardless of the rest of the build. Ring of Free Time (AV2, lvl. 29) - Resist 5 all adds up faster than you might think. The encounter power gives you a free minor action to mark or activate a utility power, and once you've hit a milestone, effectively allows you to sustain a utility power like Oni's Gift for free.
A defender is the line that stands between the enemies and his allies. He takes the majority of the attacks (or at least more than his "fair share") and keeps on going when any of his allies would be unconscious or dead.
What is a defender (game mechanics-wise)?
This is a more complicated question. Defenders in 4E have a few common characteristics.
More hit points (and therefore a higher healing surge value) than most other classes
More healing surges per day as a base
Access to higher AC values, either in the form of heavier armor (scale/plate/heavy shield) or class features (Swordmage Warding or the ability to use an alternate ability to determine AC)
An at-will ability to mark a target, forcing the enemy to attack the defender or suffer a -2 penalty to attacks
An at-will ability to enforce a mark, providing an additional penalty to an enemy that attacks a target other than the defender
The last characteristic is what distinguishes defenders from some other classes who are also "tough", such as avengers and barbarians. A defender that cannot enforce his mark is a weak form of a controller.
What does a defender want to do?
A defender wants to leave enemies with no good choices.
In a party without a defender, enemies are able to attack whomever they wish, constrained only by the limitations imposed by the terrain and their own attacks. Generally, from a high level, enemies will choose to focus fire on the most vulnerable PC, drop him, and repeat. These tactics should sound familiar - they're essentially the same tactics that PCs use against monsters.
The defender gums up the works in two different ways. First, the defender's mark effectively raises the defenses of all of his allies by 2 against one or more enemies. This makes all of his allies less vulnerable. (At least in theory. Attacking non-AC defenses (at least one of which scales poorly throughout heroic and paragon tiers) or attacking with bursts and blasts can get around this restriction.) Second, the defender's ability to enforce a mark provides an additional incentive to focus fire on what is ideally the least vulnerable member of the party. Different defenders go about achieving "no good choices" in different ways, but there are two questions to which each defender must know the answer.
What bad stuff happens to the enemy when it respects my mark?
What bad stuff happens to the enemy when it disrespects my mark?
This split, this set of choices, is what separates defenders from the more straightforward roles. As a general rule, strikers, leaders, and controllers don't worry about an enemy's choices, though they may seek to constrain those choices. A rogue who attacks a target with combat advantage will deal extra damage with Sneak Attack. A wizard who hits a target with Ray of Frost will slow the enemy for a round. A swordmage who marks an enemy doesn't know whether the enemy will violate the mark, sending the swordmage down the "mark punishment" path, or respect the mark, resulting in the "swordmage discouragement" path. Both paths have to be bad, or the enemy is going to take the good path, and any effort investing in making the other path "bad" goes to waste.
As a point of clarification, the default "bad stuff" that comes when the enemy respects the mark includes a decreased chance of hitting (thanks to higher defenses) and when the enemy does hit, proportionately fewer resources expended (thanks to higher healing surge values and number of healing surges). There are other possibilities. White Lotus Riposte discourages the enemy from attacking the swordmage, as do powers such as Frost Backlash. In this sense, a feat such as WLR is conceptually equivalent to a feat like Improved Swordmage Warding.
How is a swordmage a defender (game mechanics-wise)?
Going through each of the criteria listed above in order:
A swordmage gets 12+Con score hit points at level 1, 6 hit points per level (the baseline for defender-level hit points), and two of the three swordmage builds recommend Constitution as the secondary ability score. This translates into more hit points and therefore a higher healing surge value.
A swordmage gets 8+ Con mod healing surges, which is on the low side for defenders (who average 9+Con mod), but is still above average overall. The usual number of healing surges is 6 or 7. Having Constitution as a secondary ability helps to compensate for this.
While a swordmage only has access to leather armor, the Swordmage Warding class feature is equivalent, AC-wise, to increasing to hide armor and a heavy shield (or just hide armor if using a two-handed blade). The swordmage's primary ability is Intelligence, which contributes directly to AC. Finally, swordmages get access to the feats Improved Swordmage Warding and Greater Swordmage Warding, both of which increase AC.
The Swordmage Aegis power gives the swordmage the ability to spend a minor action and mark 1 target until the end of the encounter. Feats exist to improve the number of targets marked with Swordmage Aegis, and the power can be used at-will.
Swordmages have the ability to use their immediate actions to punish enemies who hit their allies (not those who attack their allies - a key distinction that separates them from most other defenders). These enemies can be up to 10 squares away when they violate their mark without affecting a swordmage's ability to respond.
How does a swordmage differ from other defenders?
Swordmages can punish a mark violation at a greater range than most other defenders (up to 10 squares). A swordmage's mark does not require any actions to maintain. Most other defenders' at-will marks require an action taken each round to maintain a mark, typically while within a close range of the marked enemy. As a consequence of these two differences, swordmages are more mobile than other defenders. They are excellent at taking care of brushfires for a round or two while keeping one enemy marked with their aegis. While other defenders have an increased capability to lockdown an area, they themselves are usually also locked in that area. Swordmages who increase their mark punishment can sometimes force a monster to come to them, rather than the other way around. Swordmages have a choice in how they enforce their mark (See "How does choice of Swordmage Aegis affect how a swordmage defends?" below).
What is a swordmage's secondary role?
By the book, a swordmage's secondary role is controller, as is common for arcane classes. No other defender has so many close bursts and blasts, and the status effects on swordmage powers include movement control (e.g. slow, immobilize), soft action control (e.g. the target takes X damage if it takes action Y), and hard action control (e.g. daze, stun). In practice, the secondary role depends on which Swordmage Aegis is chosen and which powers are selected.
How does the choice of Swordmage Aegis affect how a swordmage defends?
There are three choices for Swordmage Aegis: Aegis of Assault, Aegis of Ensnarement, and Aegis of Shielding. Each of them corresponds to a different secondary role.
Aegis of Assault - striker. This is the most straightforward of the secondary roles. An assault swordmage whose mark is violated will be making an extra melee basic attack each time the monster's attack hits. Multiple attacks' damage adds up quickly. The Aegis of Assault also allows the swordmage to position itself anywhere adjacent to the target for an attack, which can often translate into flanking, and thus combat advantage.
Aegis of Ensnarement - controller. This aegis is the only one which doesn't affect damage directly. By default, it subjects the monster to forced movement and causes it to grant combat advantage. With a feat, it also subjects the monster to movement control (slow/immobilize). Many powers which grant a bonus to ensnaring swordmages have movement control effects.
Aegis of Shielding - leader. Preventing X damage and healing a target for X hit points is effectively the same thing. Shielding swordmages are the only swordmages whose aegis comes at immediate interrupt speed, which, in conjunction with the right powers, allows shielding swordmages to cancel some short-range attacks entirely. There are also a few powers which boost allies and have improved effects for shielding swordmages, such as Radiant Shield.
State of the Handbook
All swordmage powers in the Compendium as of May 2012 are rated.
All swordmage class feats in the Compendium as of May 2012 are rated.
All other feats in the Compendium (of high-black quality or better) as of May 2012 are rated, including a couple of purple feats that might otherwise be common choices.
Eight basic builds are provided.
All equipment in the Compendium (of high-black quality or better) as of May 2012 has been rated.
It looks like this is coming along nicely. I'm not a big fan of swordmages, so I'll probably wait until you're done to comment more, but I think there's another reason to consider wisdom over charisma: enlarge spell. Sure, you need to multiclass wizard to get it, but those are two feats well spent.
Also, WRT lightning lure, it is forced movement to a specific destination rather than measured in squares, so there is a good argument that it can, in fact, pull vertically.