I was kidding
. As a fighter fan boy even when the fighter was considered the worst class of 3rd edition, the fighter class will always be at the top of "Best Defender Class" polls for me.
Mar 27, 2012
Generally Playing defenders It is less about the builds, and Entirely about function. Defenders of all classes require certain things, Any class or build that can not successfully accomplish these is going to be worse as a defender than one that does. Breaking it down, The things a defender needs are:
Agro: The ability to hold the threat of a monster, The fighter's mark allows for Oppertunity attacks, the Paladin Deals unavoidable damage, and if left alone Will uff the entire party making even the squishiest striker near unhurtable, The warden Slows things down, The battle mind Punishes, The spell sword Picks one at creation. The point is not what it does but to maximize this and make sure it outweighs the Striker and leader's threat because it is unavoidable.
Damage avoidance: Ac and NAD in general. Accept that you are going to get pounded, On all fronts. Conditions aside you need to survive it or you are not defending any thing. Some classes This is paramount for their builds, The fighter can't have an enemy controller pulling him out of range of his mark as an example. Other classes are less concerned as their abilities make them more resistant to this sort of tactic. Still taking too much damage will strain your leader.
Damage Absorbtion. How you take the punishment. Temp HP, Powers that let you spend a surge, Negating Damage to yourself or others fall here. Paladins and Sheilding sword mages Reign in this area as their abilities also make them Prime targets for the enemy, Both being hybrid leaders in their own right, Ignoring either class can be devastating for an enemy as Damage output from opposing strikers is effectively negated through a stream of Psuedo healing and buffs to defense Yes our DM learned the Very hard way about Ignoring both of these classes.
Damage: The bare bones, You need your powers to work, They need to generally hit to work, and Damage is good when you hit. That said unless you are an assault swordmage or a fighter It is probably a lesser concern for you but For classes that threaten on the logic of smack them I pound you, this can't be ignored.
Movement: Generally speaking you need to be able to move, In some cases just to get out of a troublesome zone, in ogther cases to get an enemy blaster locked down so he stops pounding the party at range. Depending on class this May be a non issue, Sword mages can mark at ranges most ranged strikers consifer safe, Paladins can pull a ranged weapon and mark that way, Others need to be swift on their feet, to chase the problem down.
Where I see people go awry is they either ignore one or two of these when they can't afford to, Fighters bumping only AC or paladins not feating their challenge, or dumping wisdom. When making a character it is important to assess what priority these Traits fall in, and Select every feat and Piece of gear to make sure that when they are needed they work. For paladins Wisdom even for a Baladin is never a dumpstat. You need it at least at a +2 or you don't have any healing threat. Str vs CHa is more styalistic, but Mighty challenge is important regardless, Any bump to that mark which is a ranged auto hit is worth it even if it is a +1. Bump your Lay on hands and Temp HP generators as well, This is the meat of your crowd control. If it doesn't attack you, your party can thank the critter for what ever free healing you decide to toss out, and all the absorbtion you can grant for making that mistake. Movement is really a Lesser concern. Sure toss me across the field from the mark, It attacks the rogue it still gets hurt, and Defenses generally are an average choice since you get good defenses, And don't care all that much about the nastier effects in the game since you don't have to be close to your mark. Oh and Pick up a crossbow and Quick draw. Marking and keeping it there at range is well worth the gold you'll spend and the feat. After all you can AOO too, even if it doesn't stop the move.
With fighters this is totally different, Defenses are paramount, and not just for Damage mitigation, But to keep those nastier effects off of you. As a fighter I learned fast to really HATE enemy controllers Being slid after my turn off my mark made me useless, and the next level I retrained to cover that defensive hole. Damage is a concern here aswell. Yes you will probably hit and stop movement, If the hit is for 1d4+1 then the enemy will not care. So damage for those aoo's is huge as are effects for them. More so than the damage of your main attack. Damage Absorbtion is a function of your utilities and you get some nice Albeit personal options here that let you negate a hit or reduce the impact of even the worst critical and You can dip into Cleric since you have at least some wisdom for some added boost to this. Popping Cure light on yourself is a godsend when you are getting really pounded (Yes this is Absolutely Insane for a paladin and makes for the most fun reaction you can get out of a DM after he beats ytou to bloodied after 5 rounds of slogging through temps and surges only for you to heal nova and be full the next round). But this is generally optional unless your party is leader poor (Less than 1 Leader to every 4 Party members is a good gauge of this). Mobility Is important and not to be over lookjed either. Remember you are useless if you get taken out of range, And sooner or later you are going to be hit with something that makes that happen. Pick up feats for this where they can be used, A good reason to stay in scale is getting move 6 Back, and Boots and items that let you teleport or fly can get you around pesky conditions that may be preventing you from getting where you need to go. Save bumps are also crucial at this point too, You need to get rid of Conditions like dazed slowed and immobilized fast or you won't be any help. Feats, Items (The silver sky sash is the single best Item for this in the game 2 Saves one before I go and one after Yes please is the only answer to that question.) Aggro Is your low priority, If you covered your bases It will not be a problem, so don't waste too much effort here unless you just can't pass something up.
With Spell swords, The priority CHanges with your Aegis, General rules Are Your aegis is the most important thing, any feat that makes it better should be considered required, Powers that help it succeed at what it does are among your best choices, and gear that makes it worke more effectively should be aquired as soon as it becomes available. If you are Defense you will focus on that for your agro Your Con score will rank high, and You will likely not care one lick about your Damage output. But expect to be pounded and hard nothing annoys DMs more than trying to spank that Idiot striker who charged their solo Soldier than to have that spank reduced to a minion hit. and the striker will thank you for it. Assault will need to beef his off attacks, High crit weapons, Atwills that can be substituted for an MBA, preferably against a NAD are going to be your first concern. You must punish any thing that Ignores your mark, and hard, or it will continue to ignore you. So for defense, Your damage mitigation is your highest priority, for assault it is your damage. (Not too sure with ensnarement, Haven't played with that build yet, but I welcome any input there) Your defense will largely take care of itself, But remember not to Ignore reflex as it will generally be a point or 2 lower than your others. Making them an average choice, Damage Mitigation on yourself however is going to be important. You are not helpful dead, and As a defender you will take attacks if you are doing your job right. Utility powers are going to help here, as are Items, and are generally free to go to this priority since few help your ageis (Aggro) other than your weapon (Assault only) Your lowest priority is mobility, Again your mark reaches far, and spellswords especially assault are known for running all over the battle field in an encounter. Also of note you are the only defender with a pull that I have seen in the game as an atwill, Lightning lasso is worth some investment, just for it's effects Use it on enemy ranged strikers and controllers to pull them into you, On that Warlock who runs too far ahead, to pull the imobilized fire out of that zone of black death, In my experience This has been the most fun and versitile power in my arsenal, And worth feating as well just to pick up more reach with it, and the best arguement for humans as spellswords as there are no tough choices to make to pick it up.
The others I have yet to really play, But I am sure that their fans can point out the areas they need to develop on Wardens and Battle minds, and what generally takes care of itself or winds up being purely situational for those classes, But with what I have run I have been the main tank for the party successfully with any defender that wizards has published once I realized how they needed to be played and where I needed to invest my resources to make sure that they could perform as a defender when they needed to.