Blue Dragon Wyrmling (Guardian): By this point all of the summons are dealing the same amount of damage, and unfortunately the dragon's attack has the weakest effect (a simple mark without a punishment). Fortunately, it happens to have a very nice "breath weapon" encounter power that deals good damage and dazes (and remember that you'll likely have Primal Summoning Expertise by this point, so you can fire that sucker off with a minor action).
Desert Roc (Guardian): What a wonderful summon! You'll probably be actively commanding this guy, but since you have Primal Summoning Expertise (you did remember to pick that up, right?) it won't be too big a drain on your actions. The Roc can grab up to 2 enemies of size Large or smaller, and then fly up into the air with them (fly speed is 8). That's good incentive for them not to try and break the grab, right? They probably don't want to kill the Roc either. Feel free to drop them whenever you want, though.
Dire Lion (Predator): If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? The Dire Lion's standard action is almost the same as the Hunting Tiger's before him, which is in turn very similar to the Pack Wolf's. Actually, it's a little worse off than the Tiger's because it doesn't include a shift. I thought about demoting this guy to blue, but his encounter power makes up for a lack of improvement in his main attack. A friendly close burst 2 (originating from a Large creature, no less) that deals superb damage and debuffs attacks is very nice (arguably the best encounter power of all the summons), especially considering you'll be making it as a minor action via Primal Summoning Expertise.
Raptor Behemoth (Predator): No control attached to its attack, but it does get to shift if the target ends its turn within 2 squares of it and then it deals auto-damage. At first glance this looks like a decent way to improve your chances of it making an instinctive attack, but by this point you're commanding your summons through Primal Summoning Expertise pretty much every round.
Wall of the World (HotF): This is really nice as a utility power (similar to the Wizard's Wall of Ice, which is a daily attack power)! Creates a large wall that's blocking terrain for your enemies (you and your allies can walk through unimpeded), and as a minor action you can repair sections of the wall that have been destroyed.
Protective Whirlwind (PrP):Solid debuff against area and ranged attacks, and the fact that the zone is difficult terrain is useful against melee types as well. Plus you can slide creatures in the zone around like crazy, as a free action. This means getting your allies into advantageous positions, and screwing your enemies over.
Stonebones (PrP): If you're anything like me, you tend to choose encounter utility powers over dailies. Unfortunately, this is the only encounter utility at this level, but Resist 15 All for a turn is pretty universally useful. Plus you get to save against forced movement.
Touch of Renewal (HotFK): Wow, the target regains HP as if it had spent 2 healing surges, and it gets 40 THP on top of that. That'll keep someone on their feet for a while.
Primal Beast Apotheosis (D389): You know, if this power's effect didn't end the next time you used Wild Shape, this would be hands down sky blue. As it is, the flight portion can be better covered by picking up Sky Talon. Effectively getting Brutal 2 might be nice for striker types, and if they tend to stay in beast form most of the time anyways then this power might be blue for them. Ignoring difficult terrain is almost always going to be inferior to gaining a flight speed. The highlight of this power (and the best choice of the 4 different benefits) is probably the "aura" 2 defense de-buff. Grab a flanking buddy so you can both enjoy an effective +4 to-hit! Again, if you tend to stay in beast form most of the time anyways, this power is better, but as a rule I'm not a fan of the restriction.
Sky Talon (PHB2): You gain a flight speed with hover while you're in beast form. The fact that you can actually attack while flying makes this a pretty solid choice, but it's ultimately overshadowed by the superior (and lower level) power Falcon's Flight.
Tortoise Shell (PrP):Not a bad defensive power, and the fact that you can use it as an interrupt on yourself is icing on the cake. If the defense bonus didn't get cut in half when you move and/or if it didn't have to be sustained this would easily be a blue, or even sky blue, power. Alas.
Tree of Life (PrP): Conjure up an encounter long cover object that grants you and your allies regen 5 while you're within 2 squares of the tree. Not bad, but 2 squares isn't very far, and the fact that the tree can't be moved would make me nervous.
Elemental Passage (D396/HotEC): A move action to remove yourself from play for a round of enemy attacks is a fair enough defensive strategy, even if it does open up your allies to more attacks. Only use it if you're in real trouble and they're not. Some of the random effects are decent (water and air), but the fact that they're random doesn't work in your favor.
Fey Circles (PrP): Wow, this would be a nice power if the circles didn't disappear when used. Especially since BOTH the starting circle and destination disappear when used. The Nov '10 errata changed this to give you five teleports instead of four, but that's not enough to boost this power's rating. The circle locations are pre-set and battle conditions might change, possibly making the destinations unfavorable.
Phantom Beast (PHB2): Well, as far as I can tell the insubstantial doesn't do much unless you plan on provoking OAs during your turn, as you lose the effects of this power at the end of your turn (not the end of your next turn). Phasing by itself on your turn isn't useful enough to justify taking this is a utility power at this level.
Unseen Beast (PHB2):This isn't all that great for its level. The invisibility lasts until the end of your current turn, so you're essentially just gaining CA for the turns that you used Wild Shape to assume Beast Form. And if you need to move past some enemies, you won't provoke OAs. The CA is nice, but Druids have access to better powers for mobility a lot earlier than this.
Unyielding Roots (PHB2):Wow, this does the same thing as Roots of Rescue, a sub-par 10th level utility, but to multiple allies at once. Oh, and you can sustain the effect as a minor action, essentially giving you immunity to forced movement for an encounter. Situational.
Grasping Earth (PHB2): An area burst 2 immobilize vs Will is a nice deal. If you're a Predator, you also gain a bonus to attack rolls against the target(s) equal to your Dex mod. This power is still blue for the other Druid builds.
Fungal Eruption (D386):This is an interesting power because it's simultaneously defensive and offensive. The de-buff to all defenses will help you and your friends hit the targets, and the fact that they're weakened obviously makes them less dangerous to you (unless they have nasty status effects). Oddly enough, this is an encounter power with a "save ends" effect (if that gets errata'd out, demote this power to black). Plus, the burst creates a zone that slows for icing on the cake.
Ice Spikes (HotF): Restrain as an effect in a close blast 5! If this were friendly and/or ranged, it would be sky blue, but it's still a strong choice.
Dominate Beast (HotF): Almost the same power as Charm Beast, but 16 levels later. Actually, on a miss instead of dazing the power is simply not expended, meaning that the turn you used it on is wasted (so it's arguably inferior to Charm Beast). Infiltrating Drone at level 17 is a better choice if you like dominating things. Still, a dominate is a dominate so it's nevertheless a solid power.
Rain of Fire Needles (PrP): An area denial power that's probably difficult to use in practice (I haven't used this power in-game, so I don't know for sure). Basically, it's a soft control area burst 2 that encourages enemies to leave the zone. If it were enemies only, it would be fairly simple to create lose/lose situations with this - fire it off into a melee cluster and the enemies can either leave (provoking OAs from your allies and possibly opting not to attack them) or take damage. Since it's actually an "all creatures" attack, you're not going to want allies in the burst. This leaves 2 scenarios where this power can be useful: 1) your allies fall back right before you set this off, so enemies either provoke OAs as they run past allies leaving the zone, or they take a longer route out that may limit which allies they can target, or 2) fire this off on a cluster of enemies that's already immobilized, restrained, etc. This way you're basically just guaranteeing a lot of area damage.
Razor Snare (PrP): Respectable area (burst 2) that targets only enemies. This is the opposite of Rain of Fire Needles, as it encourages enemies to stay put. Essentially, it's the soft control version of an immobilize or restrain. The fact that you have access to Grasping Earth (hard control, actual immobilize) this level makes Razor Snare an unlikely choice, especially since the punishment for moving isn't that much damage. One thing that this power does have going for it is that it's enemies only, which keeps it from being purple. Also, if you're a Predator all of the targets grant CA - a smaller buff useable by the whole party, as opposed to the significant attack buff of Grasping Earth that only you can utilize.
Scalding Geyser (HotF): This one's somewhat weak; if the damage were reduced it would feel at home in Heroic tier. Prone as an effect (which can mess with flying enemies pretty bad) and the combination damage types of fire and force help maintain this power's average rating. Stormburst (PHB2):Epic level encounter powers should be doing more than just slow. If you want to hinder enemy movement, just take Grasping Earth since the affected area is the same and immobilize is better than slow. The only thing that this power has going for it is that any creature that enters or starts its turn in the area takes 5 lightning damage. Of course Torrential Storm (level 17) has a similar zone effect, but that one deals 10 lightning damage.
Whipping Vines (HotF): A good concept for a power made weaker by the fact that it's single target. The slide effect isn't that impressive, and the fact that immoblized is in the hit line hurts this power.
Blinding Swarm (PrP): The blast is pretty small for a power of this level, but it does target Will. Blind is also a pretty good status effect, and if you're a Swarm Druid you get to shift anywhere in or adjacent to the blast. Primal Roar (PHB2):An enemies only close blast 5 vs. Will that qualifies for Psychic Lock (only worthwhile if you already have Call of the Beast), and is a beast form attack. Prone is a nice condition, and by this point you and your party should be good at positioning yourselves to make the most of it. Deafened, however, is largely useless.
Fearsome Fangs (PrP): Here's another forced movement Guardian power, essentially a super souped up Savage Rend. Your Wis mod squares is a good distance for a slide, and there are also some leader elements to this power (before the attack allies adjacent to the target get to shift 1 square, and after the forced movement the target grants CA).
Strength of the Hunt (PHB2):Similar to Hungry for the Kill (level 17) in that it's a beast form attack that lets you spend a healing surge. Whereas the former comes with some mobility, this power allows an ally within 5 squares of you to spend a healing surge as well (if you're a Guardian). A worthwhile (black) pick up if you're playing leader on the side, but the lack of control hurts. Note that at some point in early Epic you should pick up the Wild Surge feat, as well as Vital Form. This combination lets you use your second wind as a free action when you wild shape twice per encounter. Unless your party lacks a leader, I don't see the point in being able to spend 3 surges for yourself every encounter (besides, the second winds are better because they give you a defense bonus).
Primal Storm (PHB2): Holy smokes! An area burst FOUR attack is incredible for a Druid, and the fact that it only targets enemies only sweetens the deal! This power deals respectable damage on a hit, and knocks the target prone. The zone (which is sustainable) allows for a secondary attack - an opportunity action that goes off when a prone enemy stands up. On a hit, the prone enemy cannot stand up. Furthermore, the OA can be used against any prone enemy in the zone, not just one that that was knocked prone specifically by this power (polearm Druids, take note). If you can prone enemies at-will (Savage Rend for polearm Druids, Grasping Tide and some Summons for everyone else), then you can potentially lock down every enemy in this huge zone for the entire encounter (provided you roll well on your zone OAs). If you can use forced movement to clump enemies together, spam Grasping Tide to your heart's content.
Writhing Henge (HotF/D386): Whoa, something to actually compete with Primal Storm! You summon 6 (!!!) tendrils, each of which makes an attack instinctively (with reach!) or slides an ally. As a standard (or minor, with Primal Summoning Expertise) action you can command all 6 of the tendrils to attack. Simply put, the damage output of this power is apocalyptic. Oh, there's also ongoing 5 and a slide on top of that. Plus, each of the tendrils has its own HP pool (equal to half your HP), but you only lose a healing surge if all 6 go down. Talk about damage mitigation! Its only downside is that the tendrils are immobile, but with 6 on the field (and given their reach, and ability to slide) that's not much of a drawback. Avian Cloud (PrP): Enemies only area that is guaranteed to blind (save ends on a hit, until the end of your next turn on a miss). The burst also creates a zone that doesn't need to be sustained - creatures outside of the zone have total concealment from creatures within it (the attack penalty for this is equivalent to being blind, -5). Additionally, enemies that start their turn within it take damage. The zone works best when you can keep enemies in it; if you can't do this through hard control (immobilize, restrain), then you and your allies can park yourselves on the outside edge after you've shoved some enemies back in. If they try to break out, they'll draw OAs, and if they attack you from within the zone they suffer the attack penalty (which, if you're adjacent to them, is lowered to -2, as per rules on concealment). Note that you're not penalized for attacking creatures inside the zone though, so blast away with Grasping Tide. Creeping Doom (PrP): This is a great offensive power for Swarm Druids, but be VERY careful that your friends know that its area is strictly off-limits. The initial attack is a close burst 1, but targets creatures within it or adjacent to it, dealing some damage and dazing them. The daze isn't save ends, but as a standard action you can repeat the attack, potentially allowing you to spam a close burst daze all encounter long! It does need to be sustained, but each time you do so you can opt to increase the zone's size by 1 to a maximum of 5. Since the standard action targets creatures adjacent to the zone as well, it's effectively a close burst 6. But you probably won't want to take it that far, because once again, it targets allies too. Definitely make sure that you discuss the tactics of this power with your party, and don't forget that allies can move through the zone safely, provided they don't start their turn there.
Fey Lure (PHB2): Druids don't typically get area burst 3 attacks, so this provides some huge coverage for them. It's a good thing that it only targets enemies (also note that it targets Will, making it accurate more often than not). It creates a sustainable zone which, at the end of your turn, allows you to slide each enemy within it 3 squares. With such a constant source of forced movement, hopefully you can put it to good use; stacking another zone inside of this one works especially well, though even the fine control that you have on enemy positioning is probably worth it.
Summon Elemental Warrior (D396/HotEC): It's certainly no Writhing Henge, but it's a solid enough summon even if it does follow the new paradigm of summons lacking the Implement Keyword. It's functionally distinct for Druids because it doesn't have an Instinctive Action, but rather functions as a mini-defender with a mark, lockdown, and mark punishment. Being able to choose 1 of 4 (based on the elements) is a nice touch, though Air is usually going to be the best choice because it can fly (although so can fire) and has the best lockdown.
Summon Proud Mastodon (PrP):A summon with reach that prones on a hit? Nice! Of course this won't stop large (or larger) enemies from hitting it, and the Mastodon gets a +4 attack bonus against such creatures. Still, prone eats a move action. The biggest downside of the Mastodon is that it charges the nearest unbloodied enemy instinctively, meaning that it will probably suffer a fair amount of OAs. If it can't do that though, it attacks an enemy within 2 squares, actually utilizing its reach (unlike the Proud Bear at level 9). Make sure to throw a lot of dazes around to protect this guy from OAs, especially since daze + prone = one frustrated enemy (and DM!).
Wicker Man (HotEC): Oooh, awesome imagery with this one! It's unclear whether creatures inside the Wicker Man can actually attack it, but IMO it's implied that they can (so it probably won't last all that long). The auto-damage that comes with the sustain is a damage roll, so it's basically a minor action attack that auto-hits everything that's still restrained.
Summon Razorclaw Behemoth (PrP): An unexciting summon with a melee range of only 1. The attack deals ongoing damage, and it instinctively charges the nearest enemy taking ongoing damage (otherwise it will attack an adjacent enemy, or move up to an enemy). It might draw OAs from charging, and besides which ongoing damage doesn't stack. Charging the nearest enemy that's not taking ongoing damage would be more productive, IMO.
Primal Tiger (PHB2): The initial attack isn't too shabby, but the real meat of this power lies in its effect: it's an improved version of Polearm Gamble for the rest of the encounter (while in beast form). Make an OA against enemies that enter a square adjacent to you. For Polearm Druids this is sky blue since that OA can be used to slide the enemy and then knock them prone. Just make sure you don't try to pull this trick on enemies with reach. Primal Ape (PrP): Close burst 1 attack that deals decent damage and pushes everyone out of your way (3 squares on a hit, 2 on a miss). You also become large until you leave your current beast form, and this grants you several different buffs that generally make you more effective at melee combat. More control would be nice.
Primal Panther (D382):Another mostly damage power, but the effect makes it a solid choice if you can reliably get CA (not a problem after the first attack, since you have CA while invisible). You can make yourself invisible until the end of your next turn, at which point you'll hit the target again with CA and continue to stay invisible. You won't have to worry about OAs, and attacks against you will be at a -5 penalty. Nice defensive and offensive buff, but unfortunately there's no control.
Ferocious Maul (PHB2):You can seriously debilitate a single enemy with this power. Daze + Prone is a nasty combination, as your first order of business is probably going to be standing up with your one move action. Also note that each condition has a separate saving throw. Still though, an elite or solo will probably save on all conditions within a round or two, and even though the damage is an effect, it's not much for a single target Daily attack at this level. Being able to target 1 or 2 creatures with this would have brought it up to par, IMO.
Brittle Frost Blade (HotFK): An attack against 1 or 2 creatures, plus you create an aura that causes enemies to grant CA and any damage rolls against them gain a +5 bonus. Superb nova setup that even ranged allies can take advantage of.
Rejuvenating Harvest (HotFK): An attack against 1 or 2 creatures, plus you create an aura that allows allies within it to automatically end one effect (out of dazed, immobilized, restrained, or slowed) on them as a free action. A powerful benefit, but it's a bit too dependent on allies being clumped next to you at exactly the right time for my tastes.
This is an excellent level for Druids - each of the 3 Wild Shape builds get a potent option!
Disorienting Drone (PrP): Top choice for Swarm Druids at this level. Enemies only close burst 2 (3 if you're a Swarm Druid!) daze that targets Will. And it packs some nice damage on top of that! It's rare for Swarm Druids to have such a potent option that doesn't endanger their friends.
Barrage of Lightning (HotF): Friendly close blast 5 with an effect line that dazes. You could do worse.
Cast in Stone (HotF): This power is a bit situational, but in the right situations it can be really powerful. It's a waste to use it on a standard monster because you're trading in your standard action for theirs, and yours is more valuable. Against elites and solos, however, the action economy improves drastically. Because Petrified is a relatively rare status effect few solos have mechanics to shake it off even under the new design parameters, and save bonuses won't help because it lasts until the end of your next turn. The best part is that you can continually sustain the effect with a standard action.
Polar Blast (PHB2): Close blast 5 immoblize, and if you're a Guardian you can set up a nova round (targets gain Vulnerability All equal to your Con mod). If you're not a Guardian, this is black.
Behemoth Stampede (PrP): Too bad it hits all creatures in the blast. Still, the combination of push 5 + prone makes this a solid choice, especially if you have some zones on the field to exploit.
Explosive Wind (PHB2): If you like forced movement, this power delivers. Five squares is enough distance to usually be pretty useful. The damage isn't bad for an area burst 2, either.
Lava Vents (HotF): Fairly large area, but it's mostly just damage. The effect creates difficult terrain in the area and creatures that end their turn their take some autodamage. Definitely on the weak side, especially since it's unfriendly. Too bad, since the imagery that goes along with it is really cool.
Phantom Serpent (HotF): What is with these single target powers? Blind as an effect would have been great in Paragon, but this late in the game I would have expected this to be a multi-target or area attack. The easily resisted poison damage doesn't help matters either.
Leaping Rake (PHB2): Top choice for Predators at this level, and this is one of my favorite powers in the game. Predators shift a number of squares equal to 1 + their Dex mod, attacking each enemy within reach during the shift and DAZING THEM!!!! It's party friendly, can hit a TON of enemies that aren't necessarily grouped to be hit by an AoE, and offers significant mobility. Unfortunately, if you're not a Predator the shift is only 3 squares, making this black for them (can still hit a good amount of enemies, but they have to be clumped).
Thunder Claw (PrP): The Guardian go-to power for this level. Any Druid can appreciate a single target stun as an encounter power, but Guardians even get a slide equal to their Con mod out of this!
Howling Doom (PrP): A close blast 5 that targets Will, and has both the Fear and Psychic keywords (take note Call of the Beast users who grabbed Psychic Lock). The immobilize is solid, and granting CA is a nice little bonus. Polar Blast has more damage potential, but this increases your allies' chances of hitting, and doesn't require you to be a Guardian.
Death Fangs (PrP): On the one hand, this is a pure damage power that doesn't offer any mobility. On the other hand, it sure is a lot of damage (especially if you're a Predator). This is actually one power that focused striker builds (that are already satisfied with the amount of control in their arsenal) might want to pick up.
Feral Whirlwind (PHB2): You can't get much more vanilla than this. Enemies only close burst 1 with absolutely no control. Even for a pure damage attack, this one's pretty sad.
You may want to consider picking up another level 25 power here. It's not that these powers are bad, it's just that several of the level 25 powers are just that good.
Summon Elder Pack Wolf (PrP): A great capstone summoning power. Its attack knocks the target prone, and it has an OA which is triggered when a prone enemy tries to stand up. The OA does the same amount of damage as the original attack, and causes the target to be unable to stand up until the start of its next turn. Great at keeping a troublesome foe down! Not surprisingly, it instinctively attacks an adjacent prone creature, then an adjacent creature, and as a last resort it will move adjacent to an enemy. Low maintenance, high damage, and high control. What more could you ask for in a summon?
Blinding Blizzard (PHB2): Sigh. After Primal Storm at level 25, nothing seems that amazing at this level. This is one of the better powers of the bunch, though. It's not party friendly, but the burst 2 blinds (save ends), which is always appreciated. Unfortunately, no blinding on a miss. The zone does let you make an OA though, triggered by anyone starting in or entering it, which restrains. Can be sustained.
Earth Maw (PrP):Restrained (save ends) is a nice condition, and when you sustain it you can repeat the attack as a minor action. As a conjuration instead of a summon, the Maw can't be killed. However, unlike a summon it can't attack instinctively (minor action is good enough, though), needs to be sustained (and so will end if you're stunned), and can't act as an HP sink. Still, it's a strong option, especially if you haven't put any resources into summoning.
Hinterland Exile (HotF): A single target attack that removes the target from play (in addition to dealing decent damage to it). The miss effect isn't that impressive, since it's a single-target daze. On the third failed saving throw, the target is permanently banished to another plane. Sounds cool in theory, but Druids don't make the best imposers so the chances of an enemy failing 3 saves in a row are pretty slim (about 9% for a standard enemy, if no save debuffing is used).
Hunter's Heart (PrP): At this level, single target powers aren't your best choices. That said, this immobilizes vs Will with an aftereffect that does good damage, and you get a solid encounter long offensive buff while you're in beast form as well. Strikers may want to consider this. Since the effect buffs beast form, Sentinels won't get as much out of it.
Summon Storm Behemoth (PrP): Alright, so by this point you should definitely have a way to control your summons so that dangerous instinctive actions aren't really a problem anymore. This Behemoth tries to catch as many creatures in its area attack (a burst 2!) as it can, so try to make sure it doesn't come to that. Fortunately, before it does that it will gladly use its melee attack against an adjacent enemy, but really what makes this summon attractive is when you take control of it yourself. You essentially get an AoE turret that you can use to decimate the enemy ranks (as a minor action, given the right feat and/or power).
Whirling Firestorm (PrP):This power has a surprising "blaster Wizard," or Sorcerer feel to it. Engulf everything within a close burst 2 in a fiery conflagration, dealing respectable damage (and ongoing 10 on top of that). It then creates a zone that damages creatures that start their turn there, and when you sustain it you can either increase the size of the zone by 1, or decrease it and make a free ranged attack. As long as your allies don't start their turn in the zone they're fine, so this isn't as dangerous as it sounds (don't hit them with the initial attack, though!). With this and a summon on the field, you get the free ranged attack when you sustain, the summon's instinctive action, and your standard action. That's impressive DPR potential!
Lifeleach Thorns (PHB2): Meh, the concept is cool but the execution is pretty weak. It can hurt your friends, and while a target takes ongoing 10 damage, is immobilized, and is weakened if it's hit, a single saving throw can end it all. The HP that you gain for each target hit is either downright laughable (for Predators), or simply just paltry for this level (HP regained equal to your Con mod). Sure, it'll add up if you hit a lot of targets, but a burst 2 at this level isn't that big (besides, on a miss the damage is a tickle and the only effect is weakened, save ends).
Gaze of the Beast (PHB2): Who doesn't like taking control of their enemy's actions? Dominating is strong because it not only eliminates an action that would be used against the party, but it gives the party an extra action to use. Dominate enemies with the most impressive attacks, especially if they look dull-witted (this targets Will, so spellcasters are a bad target). The daze (even if it's save ends) on a miss is a bit of a let-down, but only because this is single target (a stun would have been nice, or even a dominate until the end of your next turn).
Primal Archetype (PHB2): Targets 1 or 2 creatures, which is good because as a single target power this would not be as exciting. On a hit you stun (save ends), and on a miss you still stun the enemy for a turn. For the rest of the encounter your beast form is also improved, with a solid speed bonus, an attack bonus against bloodied enemies, and the ability to shift 2 squares as a move action. Certainly useful, but considering it's a level 29 Daily I'd expect a bit more. Oh well, at least the power stuns.
Blizzard's Embrace (HotEC): Overall the little effects of the zone just don't match the level. The fact that it's heavily obscured for enemies is a solid debuff (especially for ranged or reach attacks), but difficult terrain is likely irrelevant (or nearly so) at this level, and the restrain is avoidable.
Storm Weapon (HotFK): Affects flails, hammers, maces, and staffs. Not surprisingly this allows a weapon to deal extra thunder and lightning damage once per round, but the real selling point is that it also dazes on a hit. Corroding Weapon (HotFK): Allows an axe, heavy blade, light blade, pick, or spear to deal 15 ongoing damage on a hit. It's single target, and assuming said target fails its save then subsequent attacks won't benefit unless you attack someone else. Actively discouraging focused fire is not good.
Assassin - Acolyte of the Veil is a solid MC feat (Druids might find Stealth tempting, and a 1/enc teleport fills a gap in the Druid's mobility, as they don't get many teleports). It also opens up Venom Hand Master, which is useful if you have a lot of poison attacks, the Coiled Serpent PP, and/or a Staff of the Serpent. Sky blue for such poison-centric builds.
Avenger - Everyone likes to poach their class feature, and you actually have some stat synergy.
Cleric - You share an attack stat, and Sentinel's might want to pick up Healing Word feats with Cleric as a pre-req. Some people interpret Battle Cleric's Lore (D400) as working with the M/C feat, and if your DM is one of these people then Cleric M/C becomes sky blue, possibly even gold. An unconditional +2 shield bonus patches the ruling that Druids can't use shields in beast form quite nicely, even making the Swarm Druid more playable.
Fighter - Battle Awareness is an excellent MC feat in its own right, but this also gives Druids access to Polearm Momentum which, thanks to the Alfsair Spear, they can use with Savage Rend. Con Druids may also want to pick up Wary Fighter (use Wis instead of Dex for Initiative), but only if the overall bonus is greater than that provided by Improved Initiative.
Invoker - You share an attack stat (Wis) and one of two secondaries (Con). Diversify your controller repertoire.
Monk - Probably the best M/C option for a Wild Shape Druid (assuming you're not going for Polearm Shenanigans). An encounter useage of Centered Flurry of Blows makes the entry feat worth it. Ki focuses are nice if you want to pick up some weapon attacks from HotFK. For even more fun, pick up a Transcendent Ki Focus as your Superior Implement to get reach with your melee attacks (you give up an accurate implement, but reach is a tactically potent option). An Abduction Ki Focus is a great enchantment since it gives you slide 1 with your MBA's so you can either increase Savage Rend's forced movement capabilities, or tack Savage Rend's slide onto Grasping Claws to get the best of both worlds. The Radiant Fist PP also gives the Druid a place in a party abusing radiant shenanigans.
Poisoner (D373) - This "multiclass" allows you to ignore poison resistance, which could be very useful for striker types that picked Coiled Serpent as their PP.
Ranger - A good alternative to skill training, since you'll get some conditional bonus damage to boost your striking prowess.
Rogue - Predators might want to look into this, but given the Rogue's very specific weapon requirements I wouldn't try to poach any powers off of them. Possibly blue for spring Sentinels.
Shaman - This is hands down the best M/C option for Sentinels, especially if you want to maximize the amount of critters you have on the field. The stats synergize well, and Spirit Talker provides great control. Mending Spirit is a superb MC feat, granting you a 1/enc use of Healing Spirits and significantly boosting your capabilities as a leader.
Adroit Explorer (PHB2): What class doesn't like this PP? An encounter power of your choice, an attack bonus against the first enemy that bloodies you, and resist 10 all when you spend an action point is a solid starting package. The utility lets you reroll a failed save with a bonus, you can spend a healing surge (it's an encounter power, to boot). Finally, the Daily allows you to use one of your encounter powers as an immediate reaction when an enemy bloodies you (without expending the power).
Blightbeast (D373):Predators won't get as much out of this PP, because it has both features and powers that key off of Con. You gain necrotic resistance while in beast form, and your beast form attacks also deal extra necrotic damage equal to your Con (making this a fine striker-focused PP for Guardian and Swarm Druids). When you spend an AP, adjacent enemies can choose to get out of the way or take ongoing damage equal to your Con mod. At 16th level you can ignore necrotic resistance in beast form, and enemies without necrotic resistance gain necrotic vulnerability (5) when you hit them (in beast form). Yep, this PP definitely has impressive damage potential. These damage boosts notably apply to all beast form attacks, not just melee attacks, so Swarm Druids rejoice in the devastation that your AoEs will sow! The encounter power isn't anything special, it's essentially a necrotic version of Savage Rend with a daze effect. The utility is a great mobility boost though, as you can move your speed + Con while in beast form, and you take half damage from any melee attacks (OAs) that damage you during this movement. Combined with the Primal Swarm class feature, expect to be mostly unphased. The Daily is a bland single target slide that deals ongoing damage, and enemies that start their turn adjacent to you take 5 necrotic damage. Fortunately the rest of the path is so good.
Primal Summoner (PrP): Usually a better choice for a summoner than Pack Lord. The features are all great: your summons get an attack bonus to their instinctive actions and regain HP when they use them (less useful in Epic if you pick up Primal Summoning Expertise), and when you use an AP you can give a standard action command to a summon as a free action (Pack Lord's feature was similar, but only let you give a minor action command). At 16th level whenever you take a move action, your summon can also move its speed (best part: it doesn't say "you command your summon to move its speed," it just moves. Thus, they can still use their instinctive action after moving!). The encounter power is only ok, granting your summons a damage bonus against the target. The Utility is a stance (rare for a Druid) which gives your summoned creatures an attack and damage buff with all attacks except instinctive actions. Very limited use in Paragon, but once you get Primal Summoning Expertise it becomes useful. Not surprisingly, you get a summon power at level 20, but it's kind of an odd (though effective) one. It switches forms constantly, even bouncing back and forth between medium and large size. Its attacks have a built in shift though, so only on rare occasions will this summon not deal damage instinctively (it's also party friendly).
Blood Moon Stalker (PHB2): Not a bad choice for striker-focused Druids; the attack powers are pretty sub-par (they offer no control), but the features are nice: free MBA when you use an AP, free action second wind when you kill something (pick up Vital Form even if you're not a Dwarf!), and at 16th level you can crit on a 19-20 in beast form. Thanks to the utility power (and the MBA with an AP), this PP provides impressive nova potential for Druids, which is usually their biggest weakness as secondary strikers.
Coiled Serpent (PrP):This PP is a strong choice, especially for striker-focused Druids. The poison resist and stealth bonus may or may not be useful, but dealing ongoing damage with a successful AP attack is excellent, especially if you target multiple enemies (they all take the damage). At 16th level, you get a significant damage boost (2D6 additional poison damage to all melee attacks in beast form). The encounter power is a great grab attack, provided you're ok with it turning into a normal grab after 1 turn (and therefore not worth sustaining). Instead of an escape penalty, it grants a direct +5 bonus to all defenses, which also aids in survivablity (plus attacks that miss you automatically hit the target). The utility is an encounter power with a 3 square shift + concealment (nice!), and the Daily is an impressive enemies only area burst 2 that targets Will. Your modifier (and static bonuses) aren't added to the damage, but dazed is a solid condition (on a miss you still daze for a turn), and the target takes damage for attacking if hit.
Inner Circle Initiate (HotF): Protector only. The AP feature is a weak damage bonus, but the 11th level feature gives an ally in or adjacent to your Nature's Growth zone THP equal to their surge value when you use the power. The encounter power is a friendly area burst 2 that creates a zone as an effect; enemies that start or end their turn in the zone grant CA until the start of their next turn. Vanilla, but easy CA won't go to waste, and you can affect a lot of enemies with it. The utility is an out of combat daily. At 16 enemies that end their turn adjacent to you while you're bloodied take autodamage. That's a solid deterrant against melee attackers (and if nothing else it'll increase your DPR). Might be worthwhile to carry a low level Blood Fury Weapon just for the power. The Daily is a simple blaster power that creates a moveable zone which deals autodamage to creatures ending their turns in it.
Keeper of the Hidden Flame (PHB2): This is a good pick for Sentinels since their Animal Companion is an ally (which makes the 16th level feature, the utility power, and the daily power more useful). A good default for Sentinels that don't need the healing of Spiral Wind's Ally. The 11th level features are useful to any Druid: re-roll a missed attack when you AP and get +1 to attack against your nearest enemy with close, ranged, and area attacks. If you have an ally that likes to charge, the 16th level ability is a nice mobility buff. The 11th level encounter power offers excellent single target control: vs Will attack that pulls the target, knocks it prone, and dazes it for a turn. The utility is an encounter power that buffs your party's attack and damage in a close burst 5. The Daily is an odd power reminiscent of Call of the Beast, though it's single target. Probably the weakest feature of this PP (assuming you have a charge-happy ally). Overall, everything about this PP is fairly solid, though it lacks anything that really stands out as amazing.
Luminescent Swarm (PrP): The stronger of the two Swarm Druid PPs. You have an Aura 5 that grants allies a +2 bonus to saving throws (and sheds bright light), and you deal bonus radiant damage when you use an AP. Starting at level 16, when you use Wild Shape to enter humanoid form, you can choose an adjacent enemy to get a -2 penalty to attacks against you. The features might not be amazing, but they're all moderately useful. The encounter power is a vs. Will blast that offers dazing, sliding, and lets you shift 1 square for each target you hit. Awesome! The utility is situational (a sustainable Daily that says "no more concealment for you!" in a close burst 2), but the Daily is gold: enemies only close burst 3 that attacks all 3 defenses (one attack roll for each target); hitting Fort deals ongoing radiant damage, hitting Reflex lets you slide the target 5 squares, and hitting Will blinds the target (save ends). Whoa! The damage applies if you hit any defense.
Pack Lord (PrP): This PP has solid features, including +1 to attack and all defenses when you have a summoned creature out, giving a minor action command to a summon as a free action when you AP (note that the summon can still use its instinctive action as long as this is the only command you give it), and at 16th level your bloodied summons gain regeneration. The encounter power is a single target attack that lets you tell a summon to use a standard action attack; if you don't have a summon out it might even work on one of your allies intead! The utility is pretty much a carbon copy of Animal Clan (10th level utility), but it allows you to use any standard action attack instead of just the instinctive action. Note that once you hit epic, taking Primal Summoning Expertise makes this utility useless. At 20th level, you can choose a 19th level Druid summoning power (the Guardian Briar and the Swamp Behemoth are the better choices). If you plan on spending a lot of time in Epic (with Primal Summoning Expertise), this path becomes a better choice than Primal Summoner, as PS's 11th level feature works with Instinctive Actions, which your summons won't be using if you're giving them standard action commands as minor actions.
Shadow Dancer (HoS): You're looking at improved mobility via teleportation and gaining CA for doing it (not that you usually have trouble getting it, but it could save you a feat slot). Your best teleport, Feywild Sojourn, doesn't work too well with it though, since you reappear the turn after you teleport (thus you won't get CA from the level 11 feature). Still, it'll meet the pre-req for the PP. A free teleport when you use an AP and free invisibility for being hidden (situational, as most Druids don't become hidden that often) round out this PP's features. The encounter power is phenomenal, combining a self-teleport, a MBA, teleporting the target on a hit, and dazing all into one juicy package. Works really well with either Grasping Claws or Savage Rend. The utility is also very nice, though I don't get why teleporting as a minor if you're adjacent helps you; you already used your minor to activate the power, so aren't you essentially just trading your move for a minor instead of just using your move directly? Ah well, mobility is mobility. The Daily is odd, creating an enemies only damaging, slowing, and obscured zone along the path where you shift your speed. Use it to debuff enemy ranged attacks made through it and push/slide melee guys into it. Overall a sub-par level 16 feature balanced out by an amazing encounter power makes for a decent PP, given that the other features/powers are solid (if nothing too spectacular).
Spiral Wind's Ally (PrP): This is a good choice for Sentinel's (assuming they have a decent implement), but Wild Shape Druids will likely get annoyed with with level 11 features being restricted to humanoid form. Sentinels have enough healing to get a lot of mileage from Healing Spiral, and allowing an ally to spend a healing surge whenever you use an AP is solid for any Druid build. The 16th level feature lets you shift 2 squares as a free action when you spend a healing surge, which could be useful for re-positioning. The encounter power is a decent enemies only blast with some surgeless healing for allies adjacent to the target(s). The utility power is an encounter power, but it's dependent on your allies' use of second wind; with few exceptions (Dwarves being the most straightforward), PCs typically only use second winds as a very last resort. The Daily is nice because it's enemies only, and because you get to choose one of three damage types, with each one causing a different effect (yay versatility!). Unfortunately, the effects aren't amazing: either all targets slowed (weak for this level), all allies in blast get surge free healing (by far the strongest option), and one enemy in blast dazed (why can't you daze everyone? It's a Daily!!!).
Formless Predator (D394): At level 11 you get a small 1/enc damage boost and a cosmetic benefit, though the AP feature (shift + ending a condition) is solid. At 16th level those pining for Natural Spell can be sated; you can give one of your at-wills the beast form keyword, which disappears when you change back to humanoid form. The obvious candidate is Grasping Tide, as having a ranged AoE in beast form can be handy (if you're immobilized/restrained, or if you don't want to lose out on threatening with an OA). The encounter power offers solid mobility and damage, but a single target daze is a bit of a let-down (you've probably been dazing 2 targets with Predator's Flurry, which also offers mobility, since level 3). The Daily is solid as it guarantees blindness and deals respectable damage, but is still single target. The utility is probably my favorite feature, since it lets you get around that 1/turn restriction on Wild Shape (the wording of which means that you're always under a polymorph effect, so you can use this in both beast and humanoid form). The THP and safety net vs Petrification are just icing on the cake (the utility alone almost tempts me to bump the path up to blue).
Guardian of the Living Gate (PHB2): The 11th level feature makes your AoE's more accurate (conditionally), you can grant a save with an AP, and at 16th level you grant a save when you fail one. The utility also grants allies a save bonus against attacks from a certain enemy. Overall, this PP has a strong leader slant to it. The encounter power is a moderate self-buff, and the Daily offers single target damage with a little control.
Nocturnal (HoS): This PP is primarily focused on damage and gaining phasing, which obviously increases your mobility. The level 11 feature gives you phasing during the movement of your charges, which combined with a Badge of the Berserker means you can feel free to charge through enemy spaces. When you spend an AP and hit w/ an at-will, you can charge as a free action. The encounter power is very nice, as it stacks damage onto a melee attack and gives you THP. The utility seems a little odd and underpowered for a Daily, but free flanking can certainly come in handy (still, I've never had problems getting CA as a Druid). Unfortunately the level 16 feature is garbage (who trades their standard for a move action?), and the Daily is a bit underwhelming, though though at least functional. Like Blood Moon Stalker this path increases your nova capacity, but it does so more by providing several ways to tack a little bit of damage onto attacks. Overall I think BMS does the job better (and provides better survivability), but if you like the idea of phasing you might prefer this.
Primal Mapper (D382): This PP is all about mobility, which is one of the Druid's strengths. The 11th level features allow you to move your speed or shift half your speed when you AP or use your Second Wind (hint: Vital Form (P feat), Wild Surge (E feat), Dwarf, and some items and powers (see Shaman's Hearth Spirits) are great second wind enablers). At 16, you ignore difficult terrain completely, which is pretty gravy for a mobile melee controller. The encounter power gives you some meh soft control, but it also provides extra damage to an at-will attack, and Druids have great at-wills that they tend to use frequently. Plus as far as I can tell the extra damage would apply to all targets of an AoE. In my opinion, this is the best part of the PP as far as a Druid is concerned. The Utility power is nice, especially since it makes the slow condition a whole lot more useful. The Daily is pretty underwhelming from a controller's perspective, but if you're struggling with concealment it certainly has its uses.
Sky Hunter (PHB2): Flight speed before an AP is nice, but an attack bonus against flying creatures is very situational, and Perception bonus after a beast form Daily (at 16th level) is underwhelming. The utility is basically Black Harbinger. The encounter power is an excellent single target attack though: fly twice your speed without provoking an OA from the target, and on a hit the target is blinded. Blinding stuff is always gravy, but it's the mobility that really makes this power useful. The Daily grants you a "single move fly speed" (you have to land after your move action) for the encounter while in beast form, and a single use attack that packs a nasty punch: enemies only close burst 5 that deals respectable damage and slows (save ends), or for a turn (on a miss). Poor features + good attacks average out to an average overall PP. Also, this would have been a perfect opportunity to give Druids at-will flight, so I'm a little bitter that the PP doesn't offer this.
Steadfast Sentinel (HotFK): Only Sentinels can take this path. The encounter power is yet another use of Combined Attack: no thank you! A free shift that ignores difficult terrain for you or an ally when you make an AP is nice, and the other level 11 feature (you ignore difficult terrain) is nifty, but it's nothing really that mind blowing. The utility is by far the highlight of this PP, giving you and 1 ally regen while bloodied, which can be ended as a minor action to spend a healing surge with some bonus HP. The level 16 feature just seems out of place, as an at-will power that lets you polymorph into another humanoid. Sentinels choose to give up shapeshifting, and this isn't as cool as Wild Shape. The Daily would be nice if it were a minor action, but IMO spending a standard action to activate an aura without making an attack isn't all that great at this level. Most Sentinels would do well to choose something else; Spiral Wind's Ally, Guardian of the Living Gate, or one of the Summoner PP's make great choices.
Vermin Lord (BoVD): A niche PP that largely focuses on movement options and buffing/debuffing (and notably requires an Evil alignment). The AP feature is a combination auto-damage/defensive buff for enemies/allies (respectively) adjacent to you, and the feature is vanilla poison resist (a common damage type at least). The encounter power has several minor effects that combine into a pretty decent package (except for it being unfriendly), with vulnerability 5 all as an effect being the highlight. The utility is pretty "meh," especially as a daily, though the level 16 feature provides a really easy way to gain a fly speed (it's not permanent, but lasts for a turn after you use an encounter or daily power, which should be most of the combat). That feature is easily my favorite feature that this path offers. The daily provides ongoing 20 poison damage as an Effect, which is pretty interesting (even if it's not particularly powerful).
Whirling Samara (PrP): I love the flavor of the mixed swarm that this PP touts (a swirling mass of birds, insects, leaves, and seeds), but at the end of the day you can apply that flavor to any Swarm Druid right out of the box. You gain immunity to ranged and melee forced movement attacks while in beast form (can we say situational?) and you get to make up to 2 attack re-rolls before the end of your next turn when you use an AP. There's a catch though - exercising the re-roll option will deal damage to you. The level 16 feature is a bit better, giving you a fly speed for a turn when you wild shape into beast form. The encounter power has a hint of leader, as it grants THP to an ally within 2 squares of you when you hit (notice that you can attack 1 or 2 creatures, so you can give 2 allies THP). Still, the THP is only equal to your Wis mod. The encounter utility is excellent: when you wild shape into beast form you become insubstantial until the end of your next turn and you can move through enemy spaces. Nice! And finally, the last element granted to you by this PP is actually probably the best. The Daily power is an enemies only blast 5 that blinds (save ends), in addition to dealing respectable damage. The effect grants you some buffs while in beast form, including the ability to shift 2 squares as a minor action and blinding (save ends) anyone you score a critical hit against (the zone from Entangle provides some nice synergy here).
Storm Speaker (PrP): This PP wouldn't be that bad if you had more lightning and/or thunder powers. Moreover, limiting yourself to the small number of the ones that you do have would probably result in a sub-par assortment of powers (you don't have many lighting/thunder powers that are particularly good). Two of the features only come into play if you use lightning/thunder powers (so not often for most well-constructed builds), though the free action flight when you use an AP is nice (and having lightning/thunder resistance is likely to come up at some point during your career). The encounter power is a bit bland, though it can be used to set up a better attack. The utility isn't bad - a defensive buff for the rest of the encounter and the ability to slide enemies that end their turn adjacent to you. The initial attack of the Daily is a flexible multitarget power (1, 2, or 3 enemies in a close burst 3), but at the end of the day this power is all about damage, without a control component. Meh.
Deadly Trickster (PHB): Only Predators will qualify for this ED. The level 21 feature is nice, as re-rolls are always welcome. Not expending a power for rolling high will be nice when it happens, but it only triggers off of the first attack roll. This isn't in your favor if you're using an AoE or multi-target power. The utility is very nice, as it basically gives you all of your resources back. Blow several dailies in a nova round, and then get them back later with this. The capstone ability should be saved for a situation when you'd otherwise drop below 0 HP, to save your butt.
Demigod (PHB): The gold standard for EDs, mostly because at level 21 you get to increase 2 abilities by 2 each. That's a free +1 to 2 NADs, to attack and damage, and to AC for you. Level 24 is a vanilla get-out-of-jail-free ability. At level 26 you get a daily regen utility, which is solid for survivability. The capstone recovers an encounter power each encounter, letting you use your favorite encounter power twice. All excellent.
Eternal Seeker (PHB): This ED is tough to rate because it depends highly on what exactly you hope to get from it. You can choose encounter and daily powers from any class, allowing you to cherry pick the best Wis based implement powers in the game (look to the Cleric and Invoker, for starters). At level 24 you can double what you get out of APs, even if the second extra attack is delayed by a round. It's still 2 rounds of nova for the price of 1. Your utility can be from any class, and since these aren't necessarily tied to ability scores you have a HUGE selection to choose from. The possiblities seem endless. As your capstone ability, you can cherry pick a 24th level ability from any other ED. In general, this ED has gotten a lot more favorable as more splatbooks have been released. Let the power creep work for you!
Glorious Spirit (PHB2): All around unimpressive features. A small amount of extra damage to your worthy foe, resistance/insubstantial piercing, and some mobility for a class that can already usually get wherever it wants to be.
Harbinger of Doom (PHB2): This ED is all about salvaging your own bad rolls and making things even worse for your enemies when they roll badly. I don't like how random these benefits are, and you're always at the mercy of the dice. The utility is fairly weak.
Lorekeeper (PHB2): Small bonuses against creatures under the purview of your knowledge skills. The only attractive part of this ED is the capstone feature, which lets you turn 2 daily utilities into encounter powers. It comes too late in the game to recommend this ED, though.
Primal Avatar (PHB2): A teleport with a frequent trigger (being hit), even if it costs and immediate reaction is solid. The level 24 feature is a roundabout way of essentially giving you +1 to attacks and skill/ability checks based on one ability score. Not quite as good as getting a +2 to Wis, but pretty close. There's also a nice daily utility, and a solid save-your-butt ability as your capstone feature.
Fang of the World Serpent (PrP): The level 21 feature is largely wasted since it's based on Str, but the level 24 feature gives you 2 free attacks for bloodying something or scoring a critical hit. The utility is an accuracy and speed boosting stance (though it's conditional), and at level 30 you can possibly reduce critical hits. Those wishing to boost nova potential might give this ED a look.
Fury of the Wild (PrP): An ED that increases Wis is always welcome. Autodamage to unbloodied enemies within 10 squares whenever you score a critical isn't too shabby, especially if you have an expanded crit range. The utility is an immediate reaction encounter power that gives you a bunch of little benefits (triggered off you you being bloodied). The capstone feature is a dud, though; conditional re-roll when you miss with an at-will. We can overlook this since it'll only see 1 level of play. Still not as good as Demigod.
Honored Ancestor (PrP): This ED isn't too bad, even if it is a little bland. Features are all defensive in nature, except the level 24 which lets you teleport when you spend an AP. The utility power is an encounter power that has a good chance of negating your attack, and the capstone feature is usable per encounter, allowing you to spend a surge when you're reduced to 0 HP.
Master Hierophant (D396): Can't go wrong with a +2 to Wis and whatever your secondary stat is, but overall this is one of the weakest of the Demigod clones. The level 24 feature is odd, and best used out of combat for surge efficiency. The utility power is a non-Wild Shape Polymorph (so you can't combine the two) that increases your mobility somewhat and has some other minor benefits. Nothing too special, but not all that bad either. Level 30 is your standard "cheat death" feature.
Mythic Spirit (PrP): A very leader-focused Demigod clone (in that you can increase an ability score by 2). You get a bonus to saves, and allies can rolls saves whenever you make a save. You can use your Second Wind for free when you're dying, and the utility power is an interrupt that lets you heal an ally that drops to 0 HP, giving them a free attack to boot. This is a top-tier choice, for sure.
Reincarnate Champion (PrP): Yay, free racial powers of your choice! And what's this? You get to boost an ability score by 2 in Demigod-like fashion? Don't mind if I do! The utility lets you reincarnate yourself as a different race (actually, it forces you to if you use it), which may or may not be appealing. By level 30 you gain access to every single racial encounter power, but to use one that's not one of your 2 Past Spirit races (or your own) you have to sub one of those out for it. Could be conditionally useful.
Sovereign Beast (PrP): You can use Wild Shape to become Large, and after level 26 enemies around you are pushed an enemies that can see you are debuffed. Wild Shape often and reap these benefits often. Other features allow you to use any beast form encounter power with a charge (and tack a prone onto it), and you can regain an encounter power or spend a healing surge when you kill something. A solid package overall.
World Tree Guardian (PrP): This one's for the Con Druids out there. Damage resistance whenever you're hit is a great starting feature, and on top of that at level 30 you get regeneration equal to however many healing surges you have. You'll be plenty durable. At level 24 you can die in place of an ally, and then come back to life with regen the following turn. The utility power has some tactical potential, but unfortunately it's a sustain minor. This is one of your better defensive options.
Indomitable Champion (HotFL): This one's a Demigod clone; start out by increasing 2 ability scores by 2. Extra HP and a bump to all NADs is a great follow up feature for level 24. At level 26 you can heal when you drop to 0 HP, and at level 30 you can turn a hit against you into a natural 1 once per day. This is the more defensive ED from the Essentials books.
Destined Scion (HotFK): Again, another Demigod Clone, so bump 2 abilities by 2. At level 24 you gain a bonus to all attack rolls and saving throws. Nice! The utility power is your standard heal-after-dropping-to-0 HP (actually, if you start your turn below 0 HP). Finally, at level 30 you can turn a miss into a hit 1/day. This is the offensive Essentials ED, so it's a good one to default into if you can't decide what to pick.
Shiradi Champion (HotF): Boost an ability score by 2, and gain several other minor Fey-themed benefits (including Fey origin). At level 24 you gain a conditional bonus to AC and Reflex, and at level 30 you get your get-out-of-dying-free card. The utility power allows you to remove yourself from play to gain various benefits from Queen Tiandra. This one's really close to being sky blue, but it falls slightly short of the other ability-boosting options (even if it is really flavorful).
Wild Hunter (HotF): You get a stat bump, but it has to be Str or Dex so only Predators will be interested. Tack ongoing damage and CA onto one of your encounter powers at level 24, and summon a pair of hounds (that don't do much) with your utility power. At level 30 you can save yourself from death, and assume the form of the Avatar of the Wild Hunt while you're at it. This lets you regain your encounter powers, makes you Large, increases your reach, and expands your crit range with at-wills. If this didn't happen so late in the game this ED might be more worthwhile.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that while some specialization is desirable even for a class that strongly emphasizes versatility, over-specialization is counter-productive. So where exactly does that line lie? Unfortunately, there aren't really any hard and fast rules, and it will mostly depend on your build and party composition. The most general advice that I can give is that you should always favor your primary role, even if you have a strong slant toward a secondary role. I'll give some examples.
How Much Secondary is Too Much (Predator and Swarm Druids): I've seen a lot of "striker" Predator builds floating around, and as a rule they focus too heavily on choosing damaging powers (particularly encounter powers). As a Druid, the vast majority of your extra damage will come from feats and/or items that provide conditional damage on charges and from CA. In my experience, this makes Savage Rend or Grasping Claws the go-to power for single-target damage (you can't charge with encounter powers). So stay away from powers like Darting Bite, etc. because they're typically not going to bring as much to the table as a more control focused power. If the party needs an off-striker, default to Savage Rend.
The same goes for wannabe defender Swarm Druids. Your class feature and a couple of utility powers will probably make you as tough as you need to be, and all you need for stickiness is Ruthless Killer + Grasping Claws, and Clinging Drones if you want to hold onto multiple enemies. If you put so much effort into defending (or striking for Predators) that your controlling suffers, you would have been better off making an actual defender (or striker).
In short, specialize enough to be effective at a given tactic, but recognize possible redundancies and know when you've gotten into the "overkill" territory.
Guardian Ping-Pong: I'll give an example for Guardian Druids now (because let's face it, they don't get enough love). They have the best options for forced movement, but don't accumulate more forced movement than you actually need. This will vary depending on build and party composition (and don't forget that Savage Rend can become a slide 2 around mid-Heroic with Rushing Cleats, and a slide 3 in Paragon with Fierce Thrasher Form). If an at-will suits your needs, don't blow an encounter power! The biggest concern with forced movement is having something useful to actually do with it. Shove enemies into a sticky defender. Move them into/through damaging zones. Clump them to set them up for AoE's. Clear paths for allies that are less endowed in the mobility department. Couple it with control (prone, daze, immobilize). All of these things require specific conditions to achieve synergy, so make sure that you or your allies can provide those conditions! If you find yourself shoving enemies because it's all you can do (and then having them simply move back to where they want to be), then you need to re-evaluate your build and/or tactics.
Use What Works: Finding an effective one-trick pony could go a long way toward freeing up your power slots for other options (making your more versatile). Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer has already been mentioned (don't bother with grappling powers, you are already the king (or queen) of single-target sticky!). Another example is Polearm Druids who can prone with Savage Rend at-will. Against enemies without reach, this is all the single target control that you'll need. Encounter and Daily powers that offer single target action denial will look far less attractive to this build, because they're redundant with an at-will. Alternatively, Grasping Claws + World Serpent's Grasp plays very similarly to a Polearm build, but requires fewer resources invested.
Embracing the Beast - Or Not?: I'd like to offer up some advice on the frequency in which you use Wild Shape. Generally, the answer should be often. Specifically, you should have worthwhile options for both forms so that you can tackle a wide variety of different encounter types. At the extreme end of the scale (one at-will as your only beast or only humanoid power, which I recommend against), at least make sure that you choose your "emergency" power well; Grasping Tide is an excellent choice for a very beast-form centric Druid, as it's a generalist, high control, AoE power. For caster specialists, Savage Rend is the cream of the crop (you'll definitely want a MBA, and a slide is typically more useful than a slow). At this point, however, you're taking advantage of neither the minor action shift that Wild Shape allows, nor the melee vs range flexibility, and IMO that's a bit of a waste.
Usually the flow of the battle will dictate which form you find yourself in. If you need some enemies dazed and your only powers that daze are beast form powers, that's the form you assume. Next round you might want to push a cluster of enemies, and your only option for that is a caster power. This makes the choice obvious. Sometimes it's just as simple as asking an ally if they need a flanking buddy. Always look for tactical opportunities, keeping what powers you have available in mind. Certain monster types might also dictate your choice of form. In beast form you might be able to lock down artillery monsters, but you can't really do anything against flying opponents. Consider also what defenses your caster form powers target vs your beast form powers; by asking the DM a few clarifying descriptive questions, you can almost always tell which defense is low for a given monster. Finally, your own condition may dictate your tactics. If you're battered and bruised, it might be advantageous to hang back and fling ranged attacks for a while. If your allies are getting pummeled and you have the HP and surges to spare, by all means close in with fangs bared and take some hits for the team.
Mediums for Specialization: I've already hinted at this, but I wanted to state it directly: you'll rarely need to devote all of your resources to one function. For example, if you want to maximize your striker potential, you'll generally do so via damage boosting feats and items. This leaves you free to choose control options for your powers, instead of seeking out powers with the highest damage dice. Also be sure to check out alternative ways to achieve a given effect; for example, Agile Form and Pouncing Beast Armor do the exact same thing. Sometimes you won't want to waste a feat, and sometimes you'll have a different armor enchantment in mind. Take the path of least conflict! You might not even need either of them, as there are plenty of powers that increase your mobility (both attack powers and utility powers). Weigh your options carefully, look for alternatives, and do what's best for your build!
Most controllers do their fair share of dazing and knocking prone, but Druids are arguably the most effecient at it. Melee enemies subjected to these effects that aren't adjacent to a target will spend their turn standing up and then charging. A Druid can position him/herself 1 square away in beast form, blocking the general charge path to the rest of the party (or at least the squishiest PCs). The enemy cannot charge the Druid being only 1 square away, and if he wants to charge past the Druid he will provoke an OA (provided the Druid's position is favorable). If Grasping Claws is used for the OA, the enemy is unlikely to reach his target. Polearm builds can shut the charging enemy down just as effectively with Savage Rend (which will knock them prone again). Note that the feat Staggering Smash conveniently places a dazed enemy 1 square away; otherwise the Druid can shift (either via Wild Shape or a move action).
Ranged enemies, which can often laugh off the dazing/proning effects of other controllers (stand+shoot), will fear the Druid. Again, because the Druid has a powerful MBA s/he maintains a threatening presence. Simply move adjacent to the affected enemy in beast form and they'll provoke an OA if they try to shoot after standing. Most will likely resort to a melee attack, and fortunately most ranged enemies have weak melee attacks.
Piece 1: Chill Wind (Druid at-will, PHB2) Piece 2: Ally/allies (preferably with good basic attacks) with Agile Opportunist (Paragon feat, PHB2) Piece 3 (optional): Cold resistance for allies from piece 2 (various sources).
Sequence: Have allies cluster up near an enemy or enemies. Hit as many targets (both allies and enemies) as you can with Chill Wind. Slide enemies into position if necessary, then slide allies adjacent to enemy/enemies (preferably into flanking positions). This will trigger Agile Opportunist, and they'll be able to make MBAs against their foes.
Sequence: Charge and enemy using Grasping Claws as your MBA. This will slow the enemy, or immobilize them as long as you're adjacent thanks to Ruthless Killer. Vicious Advantage causes the enemy to provide CA while slowed or immobilized. Since slowed/immobilized is a status effect, you gain a +2 bonus to defenses vs the target from the Aversion staff. Since you have CA, Defensive Advantage provides another +2 to AC. Since you charged, Marauder's Armor provides another bonus to AC. The net result is that the enemy is locked down, granting CA (be glad you have Claw Gloves!), and given your substantial buff to AC, will be unlikely to effectively retaliate. Your conditionally high AC will make provoking OAs less of a threat (especially if you have Defensive Mobility), so feel free to just walk 2 squares away next round and charge again (with CA, since the enemy is still slowed). Especially potent against ranged enemies, who will either have to use a weak melee attack against you or provoke an OA to use a ranged attack.
Sequence: This is essentially a set of different combos, all of which function similarly (namely, to use the slide of Savage Rend to deny enemy actions). I highly recommend picking up at least one of the optional pieces if you utilize the out of turn attacks, as these will give you a slide 2 (or 3, with both), which can be used to deny the actions of enemies with reach. For out of turn attack options, just set up the conditions for the enemy to provoke attacks from you (example: use the Claws of Retribution power while adjacent to several enemies). When the enemy attacks, an OA is triggered, allowing you to use Savage Rend to interrupt the triggering attack. If you slide the target to a space where it cannot reach its target of the triggering attack, then the action is wasted. In addition to the potent control that these combos provide, out of turn attacks also provide a nice boost to your DPR.
The Prone Enablers both add the "prone" condition to your Savage Rend, so all you need to do is slide the enemy 1 square away from you, and preferably position it such that you are blocking a path to your allies (or nearby allies are also 1 square away from the enemy). This prevents the enemy from charging you after spending its move action to stand up, and hopefully it won't have a clear path to allies either. Note that this doesn't work against enemies with reach, however you can combine a prone enabler with Repel Charge to slide an enemy with reach 2 or 3 squares away, thus giving you the opportunity to shut them down through your out of turn attack.
In general, Druids who plan on abusing Savage Rend + Repel Charge should pick up as many daze and prone powers as possible in order to goad enemies into charging them (or providing them with no other choice than to charge).
Sequence: Slow an enemy by hitting them with any attack that slows (Grasping Claws is your default for at-will slowing). Next round (or this round via an action point) hit them again with Grasping Claws to knock them prone (thanks to World Serpent's Grasp) and keep them slowed (so you can keep spamming this). If you hit the enemy as part of a charge attack, Boots of Adept Charging allow you to shift away, safe from counterattack (unless the enemy has reach).
Without charging, you can use hit and run tactics against melee enemies without reach as long as you keep hitting if you have either Agile Form or Pouncing Beast Armor (both allow you to shift 1 when you use Wild Shape to enter beast form). For example, if you start your turn in beast form 1 square away from the enemy you can use your move action to move adjacent, hit them with Grasping Claws (knocking them prone), and then use Wild Shape to shift 1 square away again. At the start of your next turn you can use Wild Shape to shift 1 square adjacent to the enemy while entering beast form, attack with Grasping Claws (once again knocking them prone), and then use your move action to shift 1 square away again. If they use a double move to stand up and then move adjacent to you then you'll simply have an extra action to play with, and if they use a double move to stand up and run away then you can easily catch them again by charging.
If the enemy has reach you can still hit and run every other round assuming you're faster than them (your turn will consist of Grasping Claws, Wild Shape + shift, move action full speed). Obviously against ranged opponents you'll use the slow + prone combination to keep them adjacent to you instead of hitting and running. This way they can either stand up and then shift away on their turn, stand up and use a ranged attack (provoking an OA from you), or stand up and use a sub-par melee attack.
Keep in mind that this tactic requires you to consistently hit for it to keep working; every time you miss you lose a round of being able to prone, since you'll have to slow the enemy again. Therefore, I highly recommend anything that increases your accuracy, especially powers, feats, etc that allow you to get CA (since that will allow your Claw Gloves to net you solid DPR at the same time).
Sequence: Battle Awareness (note that you'll need at last a 13 in Str) qualifies you for Polearm Momentum, which allows you to knock enemies that you push or slide 2+ squares prone. You will, however, need to use an Alfsair Spear as your implement to utilize this feat. Staggering Smash allows you to push any enemies that you daze or stun 1 square, and Gauntlets of the Ram increase this to a push 2 (qualifying for Polearm Momentum). The end result is that enemies hit by such powers are pushed 2 squares away, dazed, and knocked prone. This is extremely potent, and for melee enemies is likely going to be just as good as a stun. Druids have plenty of multi-target daze powers, but the most attractive in Heroic tier is likely going to be Predator's Flurry, since it's an encounter power and targets 2 creatures.
Sequence: The beauty of Tome Expertise is that it neither requires you to be proficient with a Tome, nor to wield one, to use its secondary benefit. Any enemy adjacent to one of your conjurations or summons grants CA (though it doesn't affect enemies immune to fear). With multiple conjurations/summons you can generate reliable CA for multi-target attacks (like Magic Stones), AoEs, and of course simply debuff enemies for your allies (Sniper Rogues will love you). Aside from having access to Air Spirit, Protectors also have an advantage in Nature's Growth, which makes it difficult for enemies to shift away from your conjurations and summons to break the CA.
Of particular note is the synergy with Grasping Tide, since that power's biggest weakness is accuracy problems due to requiring 2 successful attacks against different defenses (Fort and Reflex), and there being relatively few ways to easily gain CA for area bursts (especially at lower levels). Well, park a spirit companion or an air spirit right above the origin square and you're set!
Conjuration Choice: Though it's helpful to have multiple options for tagging spread-out enemies, there are tradeoffs that must be considered. Obviously the Fey Cantrip Feat and the Staff of Spectral Hands requires a feat and item (respectively) that, aside from enabling this combo, aren't particularly useful otherwise. Air Spirit has the advantage of requiring no resource investment to acquire (if you're a Protector you get it, if you're not you can't), but it's relatively action-intensive since it requires a minor action to conjure, a move action to move, and a minor action to sustain. Action economy can be a really big issue here, though you'll fare better if you can a) lock down the enemy (so you don't need to move the air spirit) and b) don't need your minor action for Wild Shape (whether that's because you simply don't use it much, if at all, or because you have Quick Wild Shape in Paragon). The Shaman's Spirit Companion is quite possibly the best option, since it's easy to use and isn't action-intensive. If you're a M/C Shaman it requires a standard action to conjure, but that's only an issue if it's destroyed in combat (since you'll assume that it's always conjured out of combat so you start the fight with it out). It gets to move whenever you take a move action, which makes its placement extremely flexible. Finally, even though it requires a feat (or hybrid) to obtain it also functions as a roadblock, has a limited-use OA, and opens up Mending Spirit which is always great. Also if you're a hybrid or feel like power-swapping, it can be the origin for attacks which offers tactical advantages. Finally, it has a much greater range than Air Spirit or Mage Hand (20 vs. 5), and keep in mind that all of these conjurations can float.
Format: Items are listed with the name first, and in parentheses the item level(s) and the source are indicated. Armor, Implements, and Neck Slot item levels are followed by a "+" because they scale appropriately, giving an additional +1 enhancement bonus at regular intervals after the minimum level (up to +6). Implements Spoiler:Show
Choosing your Implement Type:
Druids can use Staffs and Totems as implements. Additionally, there is one weapon (the Alfsair Spear) that is useable as an implement for anyone who can use Totems. Seeing as you'll almost certainly be taking Implement/Focused Expertise at some point, there is a strong incentive to stick with the same type of implement throughout your career. This doesn't necessarily mean sticking with the same enchantment, but if you've been using an Earthfall Totem and you suddenly decide that you want a Staff of Ruin instead, you'll have to wait until you level to re-train your Expertise feat.
Spear: Since there's only one enchantment (Alfsair Spear) available, you give up the diversity of choosing different enchantments with different powers/properties. Aside from being useable as an implement, the Alfsair Spear itself has a mediocre Daily power and doesn't have any flashy properties. In a vacuum, it would be rated low. Despite these disadvantages, the Alfsair Spear does have one important thing going for it, and it's the selling point of the item: it opens up Polearm Momentum (which you'll need a Fighter MC to take) for Druids. Since Savage Rend is fairly easily upgraded to a slide 2 by mid-Heroic, this gives you an at-will prone attack. Plus, since the spear is a weapon useable as an implement, the damage bonus from weapon focus applies to even implement attacks cast through it. Also, it's compatible with the Siberys Shard of the Mage (and other Dragonshards), which are only useable with weapons but apply to implement powers.
Staff: If you're not making a Polearm Druid, this is probably going to be your best choice. Like the spear, the Staff implement also counts as a weapon (Quarterstaff), so weapon focus and dragonshards are fair game for boosting your damage. Staffs also tend to have more/better choices (including the ubiquitous Staff of Ruin) compared with Totems.
Totem: A viable choice, but generally inferior to staffs. If you're really set on one of the specific totem properties and/or powers, feel free to take it. Also, if you are a Shaman MC/Hybrid, you'll want to use a Totem since it's the only implement that the two classes have in common. It's not that there aren't any good Totems out there. Totems just don't double as weapons, and so can't benefit from Weapon Focus and/or Dragonshards. If you don't have room for a feat like Weapon Focus, or you can't afford a Dragonshard, then you won't lose out with Totems compared to weapons-as-implements. But the ugly truth, for now, is that not all implements are created equal. Prior to the existence of Dragonshards, a simple feat called "Implement Focus" would have fixed the disparity (and I still hope that such a feat is created soon). Until that day, Totems will be chosen only if there's a specific reason to do so, with Staffs being the default choice.
Weapon Enchantments: According to the March Errata, weapon enchantments are legitimate for weapons-as-implements. A Frost or Lightning Quarterstaff are good choices if you want to exploit Frostcheese or Mark of Storm, respectively. A Cunning Quarterstaff gives you a reliable source of save penalties, which could be very useful if you tend to stay away from Summons for your Daily slots. Chargers might consider a Vanguard Quarterstaff, but generally a Staff of Ruin will be a better choice since a controller shouldn't lock him/herself into charging as much as a Barbarian could.
Accurate Staff (PHB3): Who wouldn't want an extra +1 to-hit?
Accurate Totem (PHB3): Who wouldn't want an extra +1 to-hit?
Farseeing Totem (PHB3): The Deadly property is the selling point, but only if you're locked into Totems for some reason (Shaman MC). Normally if you want DPR, you use a Staff.
Quickbeam Staff (PHB3): Forceful is great for a class that has a lot of forced movement, plus it doesn't hurt that Savage Rend is a staple attack for many Druids. Energized (thunder) might see use for some builds.
Guardian Staff (PHB3): Energized (forceful) is pretty much useless, but given the lack of static AC boosting options for Druids, the Shielding property is a worthwhile method of boosting your defenses.
Icicle Totem (PHB3): Thanks to the Empowered Crit property, combine this with a Razor Talon Totem for some crit-fishing fun. Energized (cold) isn't terrible either, but most Druids that focus on cold will pick up a Frost Quarterstaff for consistent frostcheesing.
Storm Totem (PHB3): It's unlikely that you'll have enough Thunder powers to make this worthwhile. If you find yourself with a lot of vs Fort powers, the Unstoppable property will help (but why not go with an Accurate implement?)
Mindwarp Staff (PHB3): Doesn't really apply much to Druids. Implement Enchantments:
Alfsair Spear (3+ AV2): Technically this is a weapon, but it's one that can specifically be used as an implement by anyone that can also use Totems. By itself it's actually not the best choice, though a Daily power that dazes on a critical hit certainly has its uses. However, when combined with a Fighter M/C (you'll get the best deal out of Battle Awareness) and Polearm Momentum it becomes very potent. This forms the basis of the Polearm Druid, and this item is mandatory for them. The original builds used slide-enhancers to trigger the combo with Savage Rend. While this remains a potent tactic, push-enhancers are now a better deal since they can be used with Magic Stones to target 3 creatures, as well as any daze power if you have the feat Staggering Smash.
Aversion Staff (2+ PHB3): This is an excellent controller implement, and it's doubly useful for Druids since they're in melee so often (and have gotten screwed out of various ways to boost AC). Any power that inflicts a status effect now essentially buffs your defenses as well (at least against attacks from affected enemies). This makes sitting on top of enemies immobilized from Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer all the more attractive.
Shepherd's Totem (3+ HotF): Increase all forced movement distance by 1 square. If you specialize in forced movement, this is an easy way to get a bonus to it.
Staff of Ruin (3+ AV): More damage on all of your attacks. Simple and effective. You can safely default to this if you don't know what else to do.
Staff of the Serpent (7+ AV): If you plan on spending most of your time in beast form (or even if you just have the mindset of "when I'm striking, I'll go into beast form; if I'm in humanoid form, I'm controlling"), this plus tier-appropriate Iron Armbands of Power will result in more damage than a Staff of Ruin. If you'd rather deal damage regardless of what power you're using, the Staff of Ruin would be preferable.
Summoner's Staff (7+ AV2): You know, I just now realized that since your summon counts as an ally, they can recieve the THP when an attack misses them. So you can either buff your summon up, or play leader. Either option is a win! The Daily gives your summon the Halfling's Second Chance. Any Druid with more than 1 summoning power would do well to consider this, and it's likely the default choice for most Primal Summoners and Pack Lords.
Architect's Staff (5+ AV): Bigger (and irregularly shaped) walls and zones are nice for Druids that tend to utilize these types of powers a lot. Remember, you have an at-will that creates a zone (Flame Seed), and this item makes that power a whole lot better. The Daily is also nifty for responding to changing conditions on the battlefield. It sure is pricey, though.
Destiny Staff (25+ AV): Free use of a healing surge when you kill stuff. Nice! Extra standard action with your Daily. Also nice!
Earthfall Totem (7+ AV2): Extra damage for using powers that push, slide, or knock prone. Damage-wise, at high levels this surpasses Staff of the Serpent + Iron Armbands if your main damaging powers do these things (hint: Savage Rend!). Of course because it's a totem it loses out on being Dragonshard compatible, so given the extra cash spent the Staff of the Serpent will pull ahead again.
Earthroot Staff (3+ AV): If you tend to immobilize, restrain, and slow a lot, the save penalty will definitely come in handy. Low level synergies include Savage Frenzy, Faerie Fire, Vine Serpents, and Entangle.
Razor Talon Totem (14+ AV2): Your crit range on beast form attacks is 19-20. Most classes can't pull this off so early.
Staff of Corrosion (18+ AV): This is essentially a Staff of the Serpent but with Acid damage. Damage Reduction is less common for Acid than Poison, but the cost keeps this staff from being sky blue.
Wrath of Nature Totem (2+ HotF): D12 crit dice is simple, but effective. If you use a lot of AoEs you'll increase your chances of critting. A solid choice for Blood Moon Stalkers. Defensive Staff (2+ AV): Give your NADs a boost. Unfortunately, you'll never gain the AC bonus unless you're a Hybrid Wizard. Works off-hand, if you're fine with the cheesy dual-staff image.
Dire Totem (10+ AV2): You can make yourself Large while in beast form 1/day.
Flameheart Totem (10+ AV2): If you really want to focus on CA damage, this + Claw Gloves is a nice combo. Still, it's outdamaged by Staff of the Serpent, which has less situational extra damage.
Staff of the War Mage (3+ PHB): As a Daily power, you can increase the size of a blast or burst by 1. Great if you pair it with a nice AoE combat opener like Vine Serpents.
Stern Mountain Totem (10+ AV2): From the Aspect of the Ram item set. Implements that allow you to regain HP as if you've spent a surge aren't all that common, so it's worth consideration if you're low on defense.
Staff of the Traveller (5+ PHB3): With all the shifting that Druids get, this staff is actually a really good choice despite the Psionic-specific encounter power. It also works in the off-hand (though personally I find dual-wielding staffs cheesy). Pretty expensive, though.
Summer Growth Totem (3+ PHB2): Restrain a target with a critical hit (synergizes with the improved crit range of Entangle), and as a Daily power you can create some difficult terrain.
Totem of the Night (12+ AV2): Don't use this as your primary implement, but if you're planning on going into the Underdark for a while Darkvision is probably going to come in handy.
Marauder's Armor (7+ AV2):You charge a lot. Getting an AC buff for doing so is an excellent deal, especially since you're most vulnerable to actually being hit with a melee attack right after a charge. The Daily power is nice, too: spend a healing surge or make a saving throw. Very powerful, especially considering that it's available starting at level 7! Pouncing Beast Armor (4+ PHB2):Shift 1 square when you use Wild Shape to change into beast form. This essentially gives you a minor/free action shift every turn, if you're willing to shapeshift that much.
Enduring Beast Armor (5+ PHB2): A solid choice for Druids who want to increase their survivability. Bonus HP whenever you spend a healing surge in beast form as a property, and a Daily that lets you spend a healing surge as a minor action. Nice.
Hunting Beast Armor (2+ PHB2): This armor gives you +2 to your Reflex, and as an encounter power you can shift 2 squares as a move action in beast form. Great choice for Predators looking for some additional mobility.
Great Cat Armor (19+ AV2): Very nice indeed! Increase the distance of your shifts by 1. Aren't you glad that you're a class that can shift as a minor/free action at-will (via Wild Shape)? The Daily multisquare shift isn't too shabby, either.
Roc Armor (18+ PHB2): This armor essentially gives you Sky Talon (level 22 Daily utility). Being able to attack while flying is nice, and even if you have Sky Talon you might want to keep both so you can pull the trick twice per day.
Predator Armor (3+ PHB2): +1 bonus to both Fortitude and Will isn't bad, but the Daily power is kind of meh.
Bracers of Bold Maneuvering (8, 18 AV): AC bonus against OAs 1/enc isn't too shabby for such a mobile class.
Bracers of Mighty Striking (2, 12, 22 PHB): Basically Iron Armbands of Power, but they only work with MBA's. They're significantly cheaper though, so if most of your striking is done through Savage Rend or Grasping Claws, these might be a better choice. Doesn't stack with a Staff of Ruin though.
Couters of Second Chances (5, 15, 25 AV): 1/day re-roll. Even the low-level version is useful for high level characters, providing a very cheap accuracy boost.
Iron Armbands of Power (6, 16, 26 AV): Item bonus to damage with melee attacks. A safe choice if you don't use a Staff of Ruin (since both provide item bonuses, they don't stack).
Bracers of Mental Might (6 AV): Substitute Wis for Str on rolls 1/enc. Good for Athletics while Wild Shaped.
Counterstrike Guards (4, 14 AV): Eh, if you're going for damage there are better bracers for you (mighty striking or iron armbands). Useful for Druids that carry a Staff of Ruin, though.
Frost Charger Bracers (13, AV2): Charging an enemy causes all enemies adjacent to the target to take a little cold damage (assuming you have a Str mod). I can see Frostcheese builds possibly finding this useful.
Friend's Gift (4, 14, 24 AV): I've heard arguments about whether reviving the companion grants the extra HP, and there's a good argument for why it works by RAW. You're spending a healing surge (check), and the companion is regaining HP (double check). The extra HP is a great cushion for mitigating the risk that the companion will be one-shotted after being revived.
Companion's Defender (5, 15, 25 AV): A bonus to all defenses while adjacent to you is pretty sweet for either build, though summer Sentinels are likely to get more use out of it (and the bear needs the boost more than the wolf).
Guardian's Collar (10 AV): The perception bonus is nifty (animal companions already get a +2 bonus compared to your Perception), and not being surprised if your companion isn't is a nice perk (even if it is situational).
Sigil of Companionship (6, 16, 26 AV): Not a bad item in theory, and if you're going for damage it's a great way to boost Combined Attack, but it's possibly situational (dependent on your playstyle). You'll probably want to be adjacent to the bear to benefit from its aura, so this is less useful for summer Sentinels, and the wolf already grants CA through its aura so there's normally no need to flank. That said, flanking isn't exactly difficult, especially considering the wolf's mobility. Could be blue for spring Sentinels that play with it in mind.
Transposition Harness (12, 22 AV): It's a higher level than it probably should be, and the power isn't very strong for a Daily. Still, it could be a decent "get out of trouble" trick.
Recalling Harness (8, 18, 28 AV): Not only is this item an oddly high level, but I'm not even sure how useful it would be. It's unclear whether the companion could perform a Heal check by RAW, but the concept is dubious at best. Furthermore, if the enemy has been attacking with AoE's then providing it with a target near your own dying body could end up actually killing you.
Boots of the Fencing Master (7 AV):You shift a lot as a Druid, especially if you're a Predator, so a buff to AC and Reflex when you do so is a great boost in survivability. Plus an encounter power that lets you shift 2 squares as a minor action is just made of win.
Boots of Teleportation (28 AV): These are pricey, but you get to teleport your speed at-will! Unsurpassed mobility.
Rushing Cleats (7 AV):Upgrade your Savage Rend to a slide 2! These are Gold for Polearm builds in Heroic, but they go back down to sky blue in Paragon when Fierce Thrasher Form becomes available (even so, a slide 3 is also an attractive option so you might keep both). Sandals of Avandra (25 AV):Speed bonus, and you can shift half your speed at-will as a move action.
Zephyr Boots (24 AV): Congratulations, you have a fly speed equal to your speed! Become an eagle without feeling stupid!
Boots of Adept Charging (2 AV): Shift after you charge, and they're dirt cheap!
Boots of Caiphon (24 AV2): This is from the Points of the Constellation item set. Reflex bonus, plus you can shift up to your speed as a minor action at-will, if you're willing to take damage equal to 2x the number of squares you moved.
Boots of Speed (22 AV): Speed bonus and an extra move action 1/day.
Boots of Striding (9 PHB):+1 speed. Boots of Swimming (13 AV): Pick these up if you find yourself near water a lot (island hopping campaigns seem to be popular). When you wild shape into a dolphin, sea turtle, etc. it's believable!
Dimensional Stride Boots (18 AV): A reflex buff and an encounter teleport. Solid.
Dragonborn Greaves (12 AV): Decent defensive option, with a speed bonus to boot (pun not intended). Of course you only benefit when you're bloodied.
Phantom Chaussures (18 AV): You get the Warlock's Shadow Walk, and as a Daily you can become invisible after moving 6 squares. Fits the skirmisher playstyle of Predators very well.
Airstriders (25 AV): You can fly!! With restrictions...
Boots of Eagerness (9 AV): An encounter power that lets you take another move action as a free action. In general, Boots of the Fencing Master are a better choice, and they're cheaper as well. Still, the free action is useful if you're dazed.
Boots of Free Movement (6 AV): Yeah, you don't like to be slowed, immobilized, or restrained. If you find it happening a lot, these might help.
Boots of Surging Speed (7 AV2): Might be useful if you've taken second wind enhancing feats and/or are a Dwarf.
Cat Tabi (8, 18, 28 AV): I'm only mentioning this because some people might want to be more cat-like in beast form. More of a fluff choice than an optimization choice. Oceanstrider Boots (14 AV): Speed bonus plus you can walk on water.
Survivor's Boots (16 AV2): No more provoking OAs while you're bloodied! Useful for going wherever you want to go unimpeded, or for casting in melee without repercussions!
Boots of Striding and Springing (14 PHB): I guess you can't complain if you find these as treasure, but there's not much of an improvement compared to the much cheaper Boots of Striding.
Clearing Cleats (26 AV2): Come on, really? For an item 2 levels lower you can get a fly speed, and 2 levels later you can get an at-will teleport. In either case, difficult terrain isn't a problem for you.
Claw Gloves (4 AV2): This item is from the Skin of the Panther Heroic item set. Deal an extra 1D10 damage with beast form melee attacks when you have CA. Makes you a Rogue-lite, but the best part is just how cheap they are. Conveniently, they're a 4th level item, which is exactly when you can start using the Enchant Magic Item ritual. So enchant a pair as soon as you have the cash.
Antipathy Gloves (10 AV): You basically have an aura 1 of difficult terrain. Back artillery into a corner and then lock them down! Lock enemies into flanks (if they want out, they're provoking an OA)! This is probably your best alternative to Claw Gloves. Gauntlets of the Ram (8 PHB): Add 1 square to your pushes. With the release of Magic Stones this item became much more valuable. Note that this also increases the push distance of the feat Staggering Smash. These are gold for Polearm builds, who can get obscene amounts of control out of them.
Gauntlets of Blood (4, 14, 24 AV2): Claw Gloves are generally better for damage, but if you don't get CA that much these are a good second choice (bonus against bloodied creatures).
Gloves of Ice (11, 21 AV2): If you go the Frostcheese route, you might want to pick these up. However, I don't really recommend it because choosing mostly cold attacks will likely result in a sub-optimal build (unless you're a Hybrid).
Hero's Gauntlets/Great Hero's Gauntlets (17, 27 AV2): Solid option for any class, accuracy buff when you spend an AP and a ton of THP (1/2 surge value or surge value).
Greatreach Gauntlets (18 AV): Give your melee attacks reach! Why isn't this sky blue, you ask? Because when your minor action to give yourself reach, you also take a -2 penalty to attack rolls. Still, Polearm builds might want these so they can pick up Polearm Gamble.
Strikebacks (10 AV): Once per encounter when you get hit, hit back!
Gloves of Accuracy (16 AV): Druids who favor casting ranged evocations can find a use for these.
Gloves of Missile Deflection (13 AV): Protect yourself against enemy artillery.
Luckbender Gloves (6 AV): Yeah, if you're going for damage, stick with Claw Gloves.
Horned Helm (6, 16, 26 PHB): You charge a lot as a Druid, and this item increases the damage you deal on a charge. Try charging an enemy that you have CA against (charging into a flanking position is fairly easy to do) for some serious damage (because I'm sure that you, like most Druids, have Claw Gloves as well).
Casque of Tactics (4, 14, 24 AV): An initiative bonus, plus you can swap initiative with a willing ally 1/day. This could make a huge difference, since controllers have a lot of powers that make excellent combat openers.
Charger's Headdress (12 AV2): This is from the Aspect of the Ram item set. You get a +1 bonus to charge attacks. Strictly speaking, a Horned Helm will result in higher DPR. However, you get an additional +1 bonus if you have another item from this set (most likely the Fleece of Renewal). Problem with the fleece is that it's not quite as good as the all-powerful Badge of the Berserker. Still, a +2 bonus from this set, +1 from Enraged Boar Form, +1 from charging, and +2 if you have CA could give your charge attacks an overall bonus of +6, so don't rule out this combination completely.
Crown of Eyes (16 AV): You don't grant CA to flanking enemies. Great for off-tanks!
Essence of the Wisp (21 AV2): Pull whoever hits you with a ranged attack 2 squares (at-will, imm. reaction). Plus you get a +2 bonus to Will.
Helm of Able Defense (14 AV2): From the Panoply of the Sheperds of Ghest set. Will bonus, and a bonus to all defenses until the first time you're hit. Solid.
Phrenic Crown (7, 17, 27 AV): Save penalty when you use vs Will powers. You don't have as many as some classes do, but Roar of Terror and Baleful Polymorph are notable examples.
Bear Headdress (9 AV2): Guess what Wild Shape is? A Primal Polymorph power. And since it allows you to change from humanoid to beast form or vice versa, you're technically always affected by a polymorh effect as a Druid. So this item gives you a constant Will bonus.
Cap of Water Breathing (10 AV): You can breathe underwater, as a property. Sweet!
Circlet of Second Chances (3, AV): Re-roll a save 1/day. It's cheap.
Circlet of Continuity (11 AV2): Being dazed/stunned sucks. So a save bonus against it is good. Once per encounter, you can also sustain a power that normally requires a minor action when you're dazed or stunned.
Eye of Awareness (23 AV): Bonus to Will and Initiative. It's pricey though.
Goggles of Night (14 PHB): Darkvision as a property might be worth it.
Helm of Battle (9, 19, 29 PHB): Giving you and your allies an initiative bonus is nice, but this is kind of expensive for such a small bonus.
Reading Spectacles (2 AV): Lol, never noticed this item before. Eh, it's cheap enough, why not?
Badge of the Berserker (2+ AV2): The movement you make as part of a charge doesn't provoke OAs. A no-brainer for a class that charges a lot.
Amulet of Elusive Prey (14+ AV): Predators may consider this as a defensive option, as it fits the skirmisher playstyle well. AC/Ref. bonus for moving 4 squares.
Amulet of the Unbroken (29 AV): 1/day, when you're reduced to 0 HP spend as many surges as you want. If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Amulet of Vigor (9+ AV2): Daily power that lets you spend a healing surge as a free action, and recover double the HP! Plus the enhancement bonus increases your surge value. Still, a Cloak of the Walking Wounded is probably a better choice.
Cloak of Displacement (15+ AV): AC bonus until you're first hit during an encounter, and a Daily akin to the Halfling's Second Chance.
Cloak of Distortion (4+ AV): Fairly standard defensive option for ranged classes, and you're half ranged.
Cloak of the Desert (13+ AV2): Free concealment for an encounter 1/day.
Cloak of the Walking Wounded (4+ AV): Most Druids will eventually be able to use their second wind with a less costly action than a Standard, and when that time comes (most likely Epic) this will provide excellent synergy. Dwarves will want to consider this right from the start.
Fleece of Renewal (13+ AV2): This item is from the Aspect of the Ram set. Whenever you charge, you get THP equal to your Con mod. Obviously a poor choice for Predators.
Talisman of Terror (7+ AV2): Save penalty that synergizes with Roar of Terror (but not much else that you get).
Timeless Locket (14+ AV2): Initiative bonus, check. Daily power that turns your minor action into a standard action, double check. What a great item for a controller.
Torc of Power Preservation (15+ AV): As a Daily power, you get a chance to regain an encounter power that you just used. Solid.
Amulet of False Life (9+ PHB): Gain your surge value in THP 1/day when you become bloodied. There are better defensive options, though.
Amulet of Mental Resolve (2+ AV): Not bad, grants you a bonus to several different saves.
Amulet of Physical Resolve (2+ AV): Again, save bonuses for different effects.
Brooch of Vitality (15+ AV): Increase your HP value (and by extension, your bloodied and surge values). Not bad, but there are better defensive options.
Frostwolf Pelt (4+ AV2): The Daily power knocks an enemy that hit you prone as an effect. End your next turn 1 square away to keep that enemy from attacking (charging) you again. This item also gives you cold resistance, so if you or a party member like to spam cold zones and/or Wintertouched/Lasting Frost enhanced AoE's, then this will make getting hit by friendly fire less dangerous.
Life Charm (25+ AV):This makes it so you can't fail death saves (like a Warforged). Anything that could possibly have a direct influence on preventing death is a decent enough choice.
Lifesaving Brooch (2+ AV2): This could be, well, life-saving at low levels. Loses its edge when your leader gains more healing powers, though.
Orc's Eye Amulet (8+ AV2): For those that like to play leader, this lets you give an ally THP 1/enc when they bloody something.
Seashimmer Cloak (13+ AV2):Property gives you a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater. Hello, aquatic Wild Shaping! Daily makes you insubstantial as an imm. interrupt, so there's a defensive component as well. Of course it's cheaper in the long run to just pick up a Ring of Aquatic Ability, plus it frees up your neck slot. Talisman of Repulsion (30 AV): Daily slide 5 + immobilize imm. reaction. Not bad for a controller.
NOTE: The various "Grace" rings have powers that work if you haven't made an attack during that turn. Normally this is pure suck unless you're stunned, in which case it's just situational. However, depending on your interpretation, your DM might not consider giving a command to a summon "making an attack." It's super cheesy and I personally wouldn't allow it, but if you can get away with it then more power to you.
Ring of the Dragonborn Emperor (15 AV): Cheap ring with a great property and Daily power! +3 damage bonus with close attacks (won't stack with Staff of Ruin, but since Iron Armbands only apply to melee attacks this will be useful). Plus you can use one of your encounter powers as an imm. reaction when you become bloodied (an expended power if you've reached a milestone) 1/day! A prime choice for Swarm Druids.
Ring of Many Forms (15 AV2): This ring is part of the Raiment of the World Serpent Paragon item set. When you use a polymorph power you gain a +1 bonus to your next attack roll before the end of your turn. Guess what? Wild Shape is a polymorph power! If you find yourself shifting between humanoid and beast forms a lot, you'll also find yourself hitting more often if you have one of these. At level 15 it's pretty cheap for a ring.
Greater Ring of Invisibility (23 AV2): An encounter power invisible until the end of your next turn (as a minor action), and if you've reached a milestone you also get concealment until the end of the encounter. Sooo, auto-concealment after facing 2 encounters? Every kill begins with "K"...
Ring of Free Time (29 AV2): You gain Resist 5 to all damage. Plus, 1/enc you can take an additional minor action on your turn as a free action, and if you've reached a milestone this power becomes at-will (but useable once per round). Methinks this synergizes nicely with Primal Summoning Expertise *evil laugh*
Shadow Band (27 AV): Property: Gain concealment. Ok, don't mind if I do! Total concealment for a turn as a Daily, or until the end of the encounter if you've reached a milestone!!! So this is essentially +2 AC all the time, and +5 AC for an encounter 1/day.
Dauntless Champion's Ring (30 AV2): Pricey, but it lets you regain an encounter power (and, if you've reached a milestone, a Daily) if you've expended them all. The surge value bonus is just icing on the cake.
Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (14 PHB): I really like this item for Predators, since they tend to be low on surges. Purple for Con Druids though, because they generally don't need an extra surge.
Ring of Aquatic Ability (15 AV): Another way to gain swim speed and underwater breathing (opening up options for your Wild Shape). Cheaper in the long run than maintaining a Seashimmer Cloak (plus it doesn't waste your neck slot).
Ring of Fey Travel (22 AV): +1 to speed for those who want obscenely fast Druids, and a minor action teleport as a Daily (which you can do for 2 turns if you've reached a milestone).
Ring of Heroic Health (21 AV2): Great for off-tank Druids! The Daily power lets you spend a healing surge or, if you've reached a milestone, regain HP as if you've spent a surge! Predators may also want to grab one of these since it can let them gain the benefit of spending a surge without actually spending one.
Ring of the Phoenix (27 AV): The fire resistance is nice and all, but this ring's true allure lies in its ability to let you come back to life in a burst of flame (1/day)!
Ring of Regeneration (24 PHB): Increase your healing surge value, and regain a healing surge that you've spent today as a Daily power (+ regen if you've reached a milestone when you use the Daily).
Blink Ring (22 AV): Some teleporting as a Daily power. Ring of Focus (24 AV2): +1 Will, plus you can sustain using a free (or no) action. Useful for when you're dazed/stunned.
Ring of Protection (17 PHB): +1 to saving throws and a Daily power that would be better if the bonus were higher.
Ring of Ramming (18 AV): If you have a lot of powers that push, this will increase the distance by a square.
Star Opal Ring (26 PHB): If you're trying to maximize your speed, this will help. Plus a Daily teleport with a useless explosion (it's Cha based).
Diamond Cincture (10, 20, 30 AV2): Fortitude bonuse equal to # of diamonds (which is the belt's level divided by 10, so 1, 2, and 3, respectively). As a minor action at-will, you can regain HP as if you'd spent a healing surge, making that diamond worthless (which means the Fortitude buff goes away). All diamonds are restored after an extended rest. So this essentially gives you extra healing surges, which means that it will be favored by Predators. Baldric of Tactical Positioning (8, 18 AV): Combine with Claw Gloves for an "oh no, I can't get CA!" failsafe.
Belt of Blood (10, AV): Essentially a boost to your healing surge value for Con Druids; you're probably going to be bloodied if you use a healing surge anyways. Predators should check out the Sash of Vitality Ceaseless, which is more expensive but uses Wis instead of Con.
Belt of Breaching (19 AV2): This is from the Eldritch Panoply set. Kill something and spend a healing surge, plus teleport 5 squares.
Belt of Raging Endurance (9, 19, 29 D380): An extra healing surge never hurt anyone. Overkill for Con Druids, but Predators should seriously consider this to make up for their lower Con score (especially if they've chosen Str tertiary instead of Con). The higher level versions are strictly worse than a Diamond Cincture.
Healer's Sash (11, 21 AV): Even after this was hit with the nerf bat, it's still a worthwhile item to pick up.
Sash of Regeneration (28 AV2): Regen 5 while bloodied makes this an attractive option for off-tank Swarm Druids.
Sash of Vitality Ceaseless (14 AV2): From the Ayrkashna Armor set. When you spend a surge while bloodied (when else would you spend a surge?), you gain additional HP equal to your Wis mod. The Predator's answer to the Belt of Blood!
Backbone Belt (11 AV): Nice defense boost for a class that likes using second wind.
Belt of Vigor (2, 12, 22 PHB): It's cheap and it boosts your healing surge value.
Belt of Vim (8, 18, 28 AV): Give your Fortitude defense a boost.
Belt of Vitality (23 AV): Fortitude buff, plus you get to spend a healing surge when you make a death saving throw 1/day.
Shielding Girdle (10 AV): Gives you the Wizard's "Shield" as a Daily.
Vengeance Sash (23 AV): Use a standard action attack 1/day when you're reduced to 0 HP (hint: Hungry for the Kill or another power that lets you spend a surge would be an excellent choice).
Viper Belt (4 AV): A cheap way to get poison resist. Solid.
Siberys Shard of the Mage (3, 13, 23 EPG): Extra damage if you use an implement that also counts as a weapon. Augments your weapon/implement, so it doesn't take up an item slot, either. If you have the spare cash, definitely pick one up.
ITEMS Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Light Shield, Alfsair Spear Spear +6, Great Cat Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier), Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Belt of Raging Endurance (heroic tier), Horned Helm (paragon tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier), Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Greatwing Tattoo (paragon tier) RITUALS Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
Savage Rend knocks enemies prone each time it hits, which is the main point of this build. Whenever the Sovereign Beast's utility power is used to change you size to large, enemies are pushed up to 3 squares (initially I thought this would prone people, but without the Implement Keyword the Alfsair Spear + Polearm Momentum doesn't have any effect). Thanks to Mobile Warrior + Great Cat armor, every time you make an attack (hit or miss) you can shift 2 squares. Once per encounter, Leaping Rake can be used with Sovereign's Charge to hit all enemies within reach of your shift (9 squares at level 30), dazing them and knocking them prone on a hit. The overall point of the build is to be a solid (though not optimized fully for damage) striker that can slide + prone with Savage Rend at-will. Since Savage Rend is the main striker/single target control power in this build's arsenal, other power slots are freely utilized for versatile control options (with an emphasis on powers that synergize with Savage Rend and/or Polearm Momentum, such as Claws of Retribution and Wrath of the Storm Chaser). I'm not 100% sure that Polearm Momentum applies to the effect/zone of WotSC, but since it has the Implement Keyword and it's an attack power, I'm operating under the assumption that it's valid. Feel free to point out any rules text that suggests otherwise. Finally, this is my first foray into Epic tier character building, so any advice on the latter third of the build would be especially helpful.
PHB3 has introduced the Paragon feat Repel Charge, which is absolutely perfect for this build. Enemies can now be slid multiple squares away from you and knocked prone, and being charged by them is no longer a risk (excellent for enemies with reach, which previously could overcome this build's main trick). Use Savage Rend for the OA triggered by Repel Charge, and slide the enemy out of reach, negating its attack. Plus that's another opportunity to knock the poor sod prone again!
Guardian Polearm Build with Summoning Focus (provided by Squad)Show
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ====== RSDF, level 30 Razorclaw Shifter, Druid, Primal Summoner, Reincarnate Champion Build: Guardian Druid Primal Aspect: Primal Guardian Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Spear) Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Staff) Epic Vitality: Epic Vitality Wisdom Past Spirit: Past Spirit (Longtooth Shifter) Past Spirit: Past Spirit (Githzerai) Dragon Breath Key Ability: Dragon Breath Constitution Dragon Breath Damage Type: Dragon Breath Lightning Firepulse: Firepulse Constitution Earthshock: Earthshock Constitution Darkfire: Darkfire Wisdom Razor Storm Key Ability: Razor Storm Constitution Background: Wild Hunter (+2 to Athletics)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 13, Con 24, Dex 17, Int 12, Wis 28, Cha 10.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 11, Con 16, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.
ITEMS Ritual Book, Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Phantom Chaussures (paragon tier), Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Belt of Vim (paragon tier), Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier), Ring of Protection (paragon tier), Horned Helm (epic tier), Periapt of Cascading Health +6, Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier), Blood Fury Scythe +1, Alfsair Spear Spear +6, Summoner's Staff +2, Ring of Action Reversal (paragon tier) RITUALS Animal Messenger ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
ITEMS Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Accurate Staff of Ruin +6, Light Shield, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Horned Helm (epic tier), Boots of the Fencing Master (heroic tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Baldric of Tactical Positioning (paragon tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier), Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords (paragon tier), Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier), Executioner's Bracers (epic tier) RITUALS Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
This build is all about damage, pure and simple. The best way to do this is to get CA and charge as much as possible (preferably simultaneously). Feats are almost all damage boosters. Summons are heavily favored because instinctive actions boost DPR. Most pure-damage encounter powers, however, were ignored in favor of powers that provide a bit more control (you don't want to completely neglect your role).
Alternative PPs for Striker Druids are Blood Moon Stalker, which offers greater nova potential and is a bit more front-loaded than Coiled Serpent (though it sacrifices control and a little mobility), and the Blightbeast, which is only a viable PP for Con based Druids who want to dabble in striking.
ITEMS Ritual Book, Claw Gloves (heroic tier), Phantom Chaussures (paragon tier), Marauder's Elderhide Armor +6, Badge of the Berserker +6, Belt of Vim (paragon tier), Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier), Ring of Protection (paragon tier), Horned Helm (epic tier), Blood Fury Scythe +1, Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier), Accurate staff of Corrosion +6, Aversion Accurate staff +1, Ring of Action Reversal (paragon tier) RITUALS Animal Messenger ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
FEATS Druid: Ritual Caster Level 1: Staff Expertise Level 2: Superior Implement Training (Accurate Staff) Level 4: Implement Focus (Staff) Level 6: Coordinated Explosion Level 8: Improved Defenses Level 10: Defensive Mobility Level 11: Bolstered Swarm Level 12: Armor Specialization (Hide) (retrained to Second Skin at Level 22) Level 14: Quick Wild Shape Level 16: Staggering Smash Level 18: Agile Form Level 20: Superior Will Level 21: Primal Resurgence Level 22: Wild Surge Level 24: Vital Form Level 26: Epic Resurgence Level 28: Epic Fortitude Level 30: Primal Aspect Form
POWERS Druid at-will 1: Swarming Locusts Druid at-will 1: Grasping Tide Druid at-will 1: Savage Rend Druid encounter 1: Scattered Form Druid daily 1: Savage Frenzy Druid utility 2: Warding Wind Druid encounter 3: Flowing Swarm Druid daily 5: Roar of Terror Druid utility 6: Rodent's Agility Druid encounter 7: Thorn Castle Druid daily 9: Flurry of Stingers Druid utility 10: Feywild Sojourn Druid encounter 13: Floating Death (replaces Thorn Castle) Druid daily 15: Devouring Flies (replaces Flurry of Stingers) Druid utility 16: Howl of the Wild Druid encounter 17: Cloud of Sparrows (replaces Scattered Form) Druid daily 19: Primal Lion (replaces Savage Frenzy) Druid utility 22: Sky Talon Druid encounter 23: Primal Roar (replaces Flowing Swarm) Druid daily 25: Primal Storm (replaces Devouring Flies) Druid encounter 27: Disorienting Drone (replaces Floating Death) Druid daily 29: Blinding Blizzard (Primal Lion)
ITEMS Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Accurate Staff of Ruin +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Roc Elderhide Armor +6, Shield of Deflection Light Shield (epic tier), Rushing Cleats (heroic tier), Antipathy Gloves (heroic tier), Essence of the Wisp (epic tier), Cloak of Displacement +6, Belt of Breaching (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Greater Ring of Invisibility (epic tier), Ring of Many Forms (paragon tier) RITUALS Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
A Swarm Druid that stays as far away from allies as possible, preferring to get behind enemy lines to safely use close bursts/blasts. Area damage will be maxed, with emphasis on durability second and mobility and forced movement (to get into position or position enemies) when possible. I generally don't like choosing Demigod as an ED (because I feel it's too good), but Divine Spark does boost area attack and damage, and as far as I know there isn't an ED with any other kind of AoE synergy.
ITEMS Ritual Book, Adventurer's Kit, Staff of Ruin +6, Siberys Shard of the Mage (epic tier), Enduring Beast Elderhide Armor +6, Cloak of the Walking Wounded +6, Recoil Shield Light Shield (heroic tier), Sandals of Avandra (epic tier), Antipathy Gloves (heroic tier), Crown of Eyes (paragon tier), Salve of Power (heroic tier), Belt of Blood (heroic tier), Ring of Heroic Health (epic tier), Greater Ring of Invisibility (epic tier) RITUALS Animal Messenger, Comrades' Succor ====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======
The ultimate off-tank. Grasping Claws + Ruthless Killer will make this guy extremely sticky. Mobility-hampering control will be favored over damage, with a very strong emphasis on durability and self-sufficiency. Dwarf was chosen for the second wind synergy and general toughness, though Longtooth Shifter is also an excellent choice if you want a very durable character. Because this build will spend the vast majority of time in beast form, I didn't feel too bad about giving it a situational humanoid at-will (Call of the Beast). This power is mostly used as a last resort if enemies (especially skirmishers) pile onto an ally and you have no other way of getting them off or keeping them stuck to you.
Race: Half-Elf (Dilettante - Direct the Strike) Class: Druid (Sentinel) Paragon Path: Spiral Wind's Ally Season: Spring Level: 11 The Half-Elf's Dilettante improves the leader capabilities of a Sentinel, giving this build an enabling power; Brand of the Sun is a great alternative if you want an early save-granter. Dwarf is also a superb choice, as your companion regains a surge's worth of HP for free when you second wind, which the Dwarf can do as a minor action. The Paragon Path is currently the best option for improving the leadership capabilities of a Druid, offering plenty of additional healing. Spring was chosen because the Wolf's aura provides a good counterbalance to the otherwise highly defensive nature of this build. Obviously the Bear works well for a purely defensive build, but I prefer a more balanced approach. All leaders should contribute to offense in some way.
Str-11, Con-21, Dex-14, Int-12, Wis-21, Cha-9 Con and Wis were bumped at each opportunity. Alternatively, you can switch Dex and Int around which reduces your Initiative, but you can qualify for Blade Initiate (Swordmage M/C) which allows you to use heavy and light blades as an implement. Doing so frees up your weapon enchantment for something other than an Alfsair Spear.
Hit Points / Bloodied: 93/46 (12 base + 21 Con + 50 level + 10 Toughness) Healing Surges: 12 (7 base + 5 Con) Healing Surge Value: 28 (1/4 HP + 4 Swift Recovery +1 Belt of Vigor) Since you want your animal companion and summons to soak as much damage as possible, you want to make sure that you have enough HP and surges to take that punishment. More importantly, you want your surge value to be as high as possible. This is because when you re-summon your companion after it's been reduced to 0 HP, it comes back with HP equal to your healing surge value. It also gets free HP equal to your healing surge value when you use your second wind, so the higher your surge value the more damage your companion can soak.
Defenses AC: 27 (10 base +5 level +5 Con +2 enh +3 Hide +1 shield +1 feat) Fortitude: 24 (10 base +5 level +5 Con +2 class +2 enh) Reflex: 20 (10 base +5 level +2 Dex +2 enh +1 shield) Will: 22 (10 base +5 level +5 Wis +2 enh)
Initiative: +7 (+5 level +2 Dex)
At-Will Powers Animal Attack Fire Hawk Choosing an implement at-will is the way to go for Sentinels in my opinion. Fire Hawk improves your wolf's stickiness, as enemies will still suffer an attack even if they shift+charge. It's also a great striker power, and is particularly brutal against artillery.
Encounter Powers Combined Attack x3 Spiral Gust Combined Attack can't be traded out, so you might as well make the most of it. Focus fire on an enemy that a Summon will use its Instinctive Action on for impressive burst damage for a leader. It's also useful for shuffling around your companion's position (Move action: you move adjacent to an enemy, companion shifts. Standard Action: Combined Attack allows companion to move its speed as a free action, and you both attack target).
Daily Powers 1: Summon Pack Wolf 5: Life Blood Harvest 9: Summon Crocodile The Pack Wolf synergizes extremely well with the Wolf companion, resulting in enemies being locked down (via the Pack Wolf's prone and companion's OA) next to a summon and a companion, both of which you want to funnel attacks onto. The Crocodile works much the same way, only by directly grabbing an enemy and holding it in place (make sure that place is in your Wolf's aura). Life Blood Harvest gives you a nice emergency heal for when your Healing Words and buffing/damage funneling just won't cut it. Variant 1: Destructive Harvest makes a good alternative to Life Blood Harvest if you find that you don't need the healing all that much (especially true if there's another leader in the party). It's great against solos and elites, as it provides a nice damage buff to allies adjacent to the target. Works particularly well if you have a lot of melee multi-attackers in your party (Rangers, Monks, and Whirling Barbarians). Variant 2: This is another variant on your level 5 selection. If you want to go with a full summoning theme, and if your party can coordinate to keep enemies from running away, Summon Shadow Ape simultaneously brings a defensive buff, a DPR boost, and damage funneling to the table The level 1 choice Summon Giant Toad is also solid, as always.
Utility Powers 2: Barkskin 6: Camouflage Cloak 10: Clear the Chaff Barkskin and Camouflage Cloak both provide excellent defense buffs to allies with a minor action. They can both help you funnel damage onto a summon or your companion if you use them on melee allies that are taking advantage of the wolf's aura. Once again, enemies must choose between attacking buffed allies or the annoying wolf that's providing CA. Clear the Chaff is a phenomenal save granter, which by this level is probably going to get plenty of use.
Misc Powers R: Direct the Strike U: Restore Life
Feats 1: Spirit Talker 2: Versatile Expertise (spear weapon, spear implement) 4: Mending Spirit 6: Toughness 8: Swift Recovery 10: Durable (re-trained to Versatile Master at 11) 11: Armor Specialization (Hide) Other feats that work well for this build are Improved Defenses, Superior Will, Strong Willed Summoning in late Heroic or early Paragon, and Battlewise if you prefer getting your wolf into position before your allies take their first turn (however, since you don't specialize in offensive buffing or de-buffing, you don't really need to go first as much as some of the more aggressive leaders or your controller counterparts).
Items Main-Hand: Alfsair Spear +2 with Siberys Shard of the Mage +1 Off-Hand: Light Shield Armor: Lifeblood Armor +2 Neck: Healer's Brooch +2 Arms: Iron Armbands of Power Waist: Belt of Vigor Companion: Friend's Gift Lifeblood Armor makes sure that you're buffed with THP at the start of every encounter. You'll need the Alfsair Spear to use both Weapon and Implement attacks. You'll definitely want to use implement attacks, as Summons are much better than most of the weapon-based dailies. The Shard and Iron Armbands keep your damage up to par since Combined Attack pretty much forces you to be an off-striker. Belt of Vigor boosts your surge value, and the Friend's Gift gives your Animal Companion extra HP when you spend a healing surge to have it re-gain HP. This definitely works when you second wind, though it's unclear whether it works when you re-summon. "Doing so causes your animal companion to appear in the nearest unoccupied space, with hit points equal to your healing surge value." IMO it works fine since the companion goes from 0 HP to surge value HP as a direct result of you spending a minor action and a healing surge, but the wording is a little ambiguous.
This is the original 4e Druid from the PHB2. Because I wrote most of this guide when this was the only Druid subclass available (and because it's the more complex subclass to build), most of this guide is written with this subclass in mind.
More to be added later
As an alternative Druid build from the D&D Essentials line, the Sentinel features a simplified design paradigm, but this by no means makes Sentinels a simple class. Rather, they are straightforward to build (albeit less so than most other Essentials classes), but exhibit a non-traditional mechanical functionality in play. In this section I'll attempt to highlight some points that are important to keep in mind for any player seeking to build (and optimize) a Sentinel Druid. Some of these points will be copied and pasted from other sections within the guide, as readers may find it beneficial to have a lot of the Sentinel information in one place, given how different the build is from Wild Shape Druids.
The Sentinel occasionally gets flak for not being able to adequately fill the leader role. While Sentinels are certainly different from all other leader classes, you can do just fine as the only leader in a party. The biggest point of contention for many of the Sentinel's critics is Combined Attack. It's the only encounter attack power that a Sentinel will ever get, and it doesn't offer any blatant leader functionality (though it does allow you to re-position the companion and its aura, that's a far cry from the riders that other leaders get on their encounter powers). But that's ok, because a Sentinel largely "leads" passively. The companion's aura is the most obvious passive feature, but the companion's overall mechanics also subtley fill the leader role. Damage soaked by the companion is damage that the PCs don't take (damage resistance and THP also work like this), and because you can revive the companion as often as you like during a given combat, Sentinels get access to an unprecedented amount of healing surges in any given encounter. And of course Sentinels get the requisite 2/enc minor action heal as a class feature (in fact, it shares the Cleric's Healing Word).
In order for the companion to operate most effectively it needs to off-tank, and depending on your DM's playstyle (or the specific monsters in a given encounter), it might require "stickiness" (in other words, hard or soft control which entices enemies to attack the companion, often by discouraging them from moving away). Thus, the Sentinel almost necessitates emphasizing defender and controller as secondary roles. Furthermore, it can make a fine off-striker, potentially allowing it to fill in for any of the 4 roles. The elegance of the Sentinel's design is that it doesn't accomplish this by trying to do everything at once (the classic "Jack of all trades, master of none" trap). Instead the Sentinel has a couple of unique mechanics that it specializes in, and it just so happens that these mechanics can fit under the definition of multiple roles. To an extent the mechanic already existed in 4e with summoning powers: since they cause attacks to be wasted they can be defined as action denial (controlling), since they exist to be attacked and can sometimes funnel damage to themselves they can be defined as mini-defenders, and since they mitigate incoming damage they function as a defensive buff (leading). The companion is basically an at-will summon.
So Sentinels can function as a sole leader in the party, but they also bleed into the other roles quite a bit. Clearly there must be a downside, and indeed there is. Leader functions can be broken down into buffing, debuffing, enabling, healing, and save granting. Buffing and debuffing are functionally the same, so the fact that Sentinels don't really get any debuffs is irrelevent. Sentinels are competent at buffing, as the companion's aura provides an always-on buff, their best weapon-based at-will is an excellent defensive buff (THP as an effect!), and most of their dailies are buffs. Besides the fact, the companion's damage-soaking ability fills the same niche as a defensive buff so you could argue that in terms of functionality, this is their strongest area. They are also strong healers; if you factor in the ability to revive the companion using your own surges and a minor action, you can consider them excellent at this function as well. Their ability to provide offensive buffs, however, is extremely limited for the summer Sentinel and spring Sentinels will mostly just do this through their wolf's aura. Most leaders have a much greater variety of options in this area. A Sentinel's ability to grant saves is virtually non-existent through most of Heroic tier, though their 10th level utility power Clear the Chaff is top-notch. Again, most other leaders have many more options for save-granting than a Sentinel, and they often have access to them earlier. The Sentinel's biggest shortcoming, however, is enabling. They have virtually no way of granting other PCs attacks at all*.
*Actually, I recently realized that this isn't the case. A Sentinel can use the Chill Wind Attack Enabling combo in Paragon, even if it does require some resource expenditure on the part of allies. Still, a PC with a really good MBA like a Slayer or Brutal Rogue should be more than happy to pick up Agile Opportunist and some cold resist if it means that the Druid will consistently grant them free attacks and mobility, all while hitting enemies in the process.
The following is a more in-depth discussion of the animal companion's mechanics, copied directly from the "Class Features" section of this guide. I feel that it's important to understand how the companion works, because in-play it may not seems like the companion is "doing much." In reality, the companion is a very strong asset to the party, though because of its subtleties it's easy to overlook its contributions.
A Sentinel's animal companion is essentially an at-will summon, and there are a couple of advantages to always having a second creature on the board. You occupy an additional space, threaten more squares (the companion's attack is a basic attack, so it can make OAs), and if one of you is affected by a debilitating status effect, the other can still act normally. Additionally, since a monster can only make one OA per turn, if you need to walk past an enemy you can send the companion in first to take the OA, and then safely follow in its footsteps.
The companion also acts as a damage sponge; since its HP is equal to your bloodied value at the start of a fight and it only costs a healing surge to summon back (albeit at half HP), enemy attacks against the companion are less efficient. Even the fact that the companion gets revived at half HP has its advantages, because the more often that the companion drops, the more enemy damage that gets wasted. For example, if the companion had 2 HP left and an attack hit it for 12 damage, then the companion soaked 10 damage just by "dying." The companion also reverts to full HP after a rest, and if you use your second wind the companion also regains HP equal to your surge value. So companions soak damage: 1) by having 2x surge value at the start of a fight, 2) when enemies overshoot their remaining HP to drop them, and 3) when an injured companion recharges its HP after any rest without any resource expenditure.
Another important function that the companion will serve is providing access to healing surges during combat. Normally this can only be done by using second wind or through a specific power, such as Healing Word. However, you can keep reviving the companion using a minor action as long as you have the surges to continue doing so. Each time the companion drops, that's one additional healing surge that the party was able to use in combat, which is great if PC healing is limited and/or if an encounter is particularly difficult. Because companions are easily healed and soak damage, you should make sure that you have a few tricks for making sure that enemies attack your companion rather than a PC.
Wolf: The wolf is an aggressive animal companion, with an aura that causes enemies to grant CA. This means that the wolf is very accurate since it will always have CA, though it's slightly less damaging than the bear. While CA has the potential to be redundant (the aura does nothing if an ally already has CA), the effective +2 to-hit is also more powerful than the bear's defense buff, plus the aura's benefit can be utilized by ranged allies. The wolf is fast (speed 8), with good AC and balanced defenses.
Bear: The bear is the more defensive choice, and makes a great off-tank. It's aura grants allies a +2 to defenses, which combined with the bear's innately low AC will make it a very attractive target. It deals more damage than the wolf (though it won't have permanent CA, so it won't be as accurate), has an average speed of 6, and compensates for a low AC and Reflex with a high Fortitude and Will.
You can find this discussion under Heroic Tier Powers (part 1). It's easy to dismiss Combined Attack because it looks bland on paper, but in play I've found it to be surprisingly versatile.
Sentinels are stuck with this power, so you might as well make the most of it. Though it lacks leader riders, it's actually a pretty versatile power. Its uses include:
Striking: This is its most obvious function. Flank an enemy (for Summer Sentinels) or attack an enemy in your companion's aura (for Spring Sentinels), and then have the companion attack that enemy as well. Focus firing is simple, and effective.
Minion-clearing: Use the initial attack to hit a minion, and then have the animal companion go after a different minion. You'll want to shift the companion when you take your move action if it's already adjacent to an enemy, since the movement granted by Combined Attack's effect does provoke OAs. Taking out 2 minions with a standard action isn't too shabby, and they can be far apart thanks to the companion being able to move.
Killing Blows: Like minion-clearing, finishing off enemies is a situation where spread (as opposed to focused) damage is beneficial. It's a waste of a striker's standard action to finish off enemies that are nearly dead, and defenders and controllers may be too busy elsewhere. The goal is to waste as little damage as possible, and 2 attacks that deal moderate damage each is a great way to ensure that happens. Kill an enemy with the initial attack, and then deal some damage to another enemy with your companion (preferably one that's also near death, so you can get 2 kills). Another variant of this strategy is that if you miss a nearly-dead enemy with your initial attack, you have another shot at killing it via the companion.
Re-positioning: If the companion's aura is needed somewhere else (or, for Summer Sentinels, if the bear needs to switch between flanking and protecting via the aura), Combined Attack is a good way to make that happen. You'll want to shift the companion when you take your move action if it's already adjacent to an enemy, since the movement granted by Combined Attack's effect does provoke OAs. You can also take advantages of situations that require spread damage at the same time (kill a minion or nearly dead enemy with your attack before re-positioning the companion).
Front Line Breaching: In many encounters, you want to get a melee presence to the ranged enemies and/or lurkers/skirmishers as soon as possible. Between getting to move when you take your move action and then getting to move again via Combined Attack, animal companions can cover a lot of distance quickly. The wolf, with its high speed and aura that benefits ranged allies, is much more likely to employ this tactic. You may end up diverting forces from the enemy frontline to deal with the companion, or at the very least the squishies will try to take out the companion instead of raining ranged attacks upon the PCs. It's dangerous work running behind enemy lines with no support, but given that a) companions act as damage sponges and b) it's trivially easy to resurrect them in combat, your party can reap the rewards of this tactic while greatly mitigating the risks.
The second paragraph is an excerpt from the section on Choosing At-Wills from this guide. Before we get to at-wills though, one crucial point to keep in mind is that if you decide to pick up an implement power (this includes Dailies as well), you'll need to make sure that you actually have an implement. This is no problem for summer Sentinels, since the quintessential "weapliment" (weapon useable as implement) is the staff, which their class feature supports. Spring Sentinels, however, have a hurdle to overcome. None of the weapons that their class feature buffs can intrinsically be used as an implement. While you can use one of these weapons and a separate totem or staff in your off hand, it will cost you some AC/Reflex because you won't be able to use a shield. You have two options that are more optimal: 1) use a spear and limit yourself to the Alfsair Spear (AV2) enchantment, or 2) multiclass Swordmage so that you can use heavy and light blades as implements (though see the following section on multiclassing for other considerations). The additional advantage of using a spear, scimitar, sickle, or dagger as your weapon and implement is that the class feature that gives you a +1 bonus to attacks with these weapons applies to attack rolls, and NOT just weapon attacks. Therefore, the bonus is applied to your implement attacks as well (it's like getting Superior Implement Training for free). One final thing to keep in mind is that while summer Sentinels can pick up Staff Expertise and be happy, spring Sentinels will be limited to Versatile Expertise (from PHB3), which scales more slowly and doesn't provide a secondary benefit, but that's still preferable to taking two Expertise feats (one for the weapon, one for the implement).
The Sentinel build introduces melee weapon powers. Most Wild Shape Druids will find little use for these powers, but Sentinels have a very important decision to make. Because their companion's animal attack counts as one of their at-wills, they only get to choose 1 at-will that they can use. If they want a ranged at-will option they can choose an implement power, but that means that they don't have a good melee attack that they can personally use. A Sentinel that chooses a weapon attack has no reliable ranged option, however. Obviously Human is an attractive option for those who want the best of both worlds. For other races, I personally recommend picking up Fire Hawk or Grasping Tide. Once you start getting multiple uses of Combined Attack you'll already have a great melee power, and at lower levels the animal companion simply does much better damage than you will personally; by and large you won't miss a weapon at-will if you don't take one. Grasping Tide and Fire Hawk can also serve to make your companion sticky (which is ideal for an off-tank, especially one that's such a good damage sponge). Fire Hawk is better for single target damage at range, and makes an especially potent anti-artillery power, whereas Grasping Tide is good for AoE damage and offers superb at-will control. That said, Tending Strike is also a good power, especially for builds that seek to be a more pure leader or spring Sentinels that don't want to spend resources on an implement (i.e. lock themselves into using an Alfsair Spear or picking up Swordmage M/C).
While it's certainly not mandatory, it's highly advisable that all Sentinels consider a multiclass option. Specifically, there are two different classes that most Sentinels can benefit from multiclassing into. The first option was mentioned in the previous section on choosing at-wills and implements. Spring Sentinels who want to use a scimitar, sickle, or dagger as an implement should consider Blade Initiate, the Swordmage M/C feat (note that you'll need at least a 13 in Int to qualify). Once per day, this feat provides an encounter-long +2 buff to AC (stow your light shield as a minor action to get the +3 bonus for having a free hand), but more importantly it lets you use heavy and light blades as implements. Avoid training Arcana at character creation, because this feat also provides training in that skill.
The other major M/C option is Shaman. This is a very powerful option, and is one of the main reasons why I prefer using an Alfsair Spear as a spring Sentinel (I also think that a feat is a more valuable resource than a weapon enchantment). The entry feat is Spirit Talker, which grants you the Call Spirit Companion power, albeit useable as a standard action. Keep the SC conjured at all times so that it's already out when you enter combat, because a standard action is pretty inefficient from an action economy standpoint. You also get to choose an OA from one of the Shaman builds, which the SC can use once per encounter. Personally, I prefer World Speaker's Command (from Primal Power) because on a hit it ends the triggering move action, which provides great lockdown potential (hint: it can make your animal companion sticky). You also get Speak with Spirits as a Daily power, and training in Nature which is wasted since you already have that.
Like the animal companion, the spirit companion can move (at your speed) whenever you take a move action. So basically each move action you take allows you to move 3 "creatures" (the SC is actually a conjuration, so remember that it doesn't provoke OAs and can't be targeted by AoE's). The SC is also a very nice damage sponge; only ranged and melee attacks can target it, and an attack has to deal 10+1/2 your level damage to "kill" the SC, otherwise it has no effect. You only take 5+1/2 your level damage if the SC dies, which means that that it soaks at least 5 damage, obviously more if the attack overshoots the threshold. Between the animal companion and the spirit companion, you can have a lot of fun keeping multiple melee enemies at bay, blocking chokepoints, etc. Overall this is a great way to enhance your control.
As if the entry feat wasn't already good enough, it also provides access to Mending Spirit. This feat grants you a 1/encounter use of the Shaman's Healing Spirit class feature. Yep, that's an additional minor action heal once per encounter. This is a strong M/C option for any class, but it's particularly good for Sentinels since Spirit Talker enhances what they already do well. An often-overlooked advantage to having Healing Spirit is that Healing Word (an any other leader's version of it) can be used twice per encounter, but only once per round. You cannot spend two minor actions to use Healing Word twice on the same turn. You can, however, use Healing Word and Healing Spirit on the same turn, giving you the potential for some nova healing.
This subclass was released in Heroes of the Feywild. Overall it's pretty similar to the Wild Shape Druid, especially if you've picked up Beastwalker Circle to gain Wild Shape. Protectors with Wild Shape will have to be more careful about at-will choice, since they only get 2 as opposed to 3. Many won't even bother picking it up, instead focusing completely on ranged and close implement attacks. This build is defined by Nature's Growth, which allows Protectors to create difficult terrain in every encounter, and Summon Natural Ally, which is an interesting variant on summoning.
The individual summons available through Summon Natural Ally are rated at the beginning of each tier's power ratings. However, I feel it might be valuable to see all of the ratings, split by Druid Circle, in one place for quick reference and comparison (copied from the original ratings). I'd like to draw attention to 2 things here. The first is that the balance between Predators and Guardians is pretty good. Predators start off with an advantage, but the Guardian's Cobra is good enough that this isn't game-breaking. The two builds stay remarkably even when they pick up their level 15 (Paragon) options, and then in Epic (level 29) Guardians shoot ahead. The second point that I'd like to emphasize is that by and large, these summons are highly rated when compared with regular Druid daily attacks. Low level Guardians may pine for Summon Giant Toad and Summon Crocodile, but those wouldn't noticeably improve a Predator's performance, and the Guardian's Cobra compares favorably to the other low level summons. Writhing Henge is better than any of the SNA options, but to be fair it's also arguably overpowered. The other big Epic power, Summon Elder Pack Wolf, is comparable enough to the Roc or Dire Lion that most Protectors won't miss it. However, keep in mind that Beastwalker Circle allows a Protector to pick up Writhing Henge, and Guardians can use the feat to upgrade to the Toad or Croc if they desire.
GUARDIANS: Giant Cobra (Heroic): This will probably be the go-to choice for most low level Guardians. It deals the highest damage of the level 1 creatures and its attack debuff is universally useful. Unfortunately, it's a little easy to ignore so be sure to park it next to debilitated foes or team up with a defender, which can both protect it and keep enemies close by.
Desert Hawk (Heroic): The Hawk deals moderate damage, can shift before it attacks, and can slide foes. Unfortunately, due to the wording of the instinctive effect it will only attack adjacent enemies and won't shift on its own. That's a major blow to its effectiveness. It does, however, have a fly speed which can be extremely useful. Fly over the head of an enemy that's adjacent to one of your melee allies (preferably a defender) and the hawk can get an instinctive attack in even if the enemy shifts (unless it then charges away). Situationally useful for chasing after flying enemies (and the hawk is medium, so small PCs can use it as a mount).
Bulette (Paragon): Who hasn't wanted one of these terrors at their disposal? It deals impressive damage, and slows on a hit. What really makes this a great option is its encounter power. It won't use it instinctively, but a close burst 1 that deals sick damage and prones is worth the price of a standard action (that would be a decent blaster power even without the proning). Its only flaw is that while slowing is nice and can easily deny an enemy of its standard action if the party is sufficiently far away (especially considering Nature's Growth), it won't be that hard for most enemies to escape from it. This guy's really close to being sky blue though.
Venomous Scorpion (Paragon):It deals the lowest damage of the Paragon summons, but immobilizing + ongoing 10 (save ends both) is phenomenal! Enemies will be very hard pressed to escape from this guy, and it will therefore be really easy for it to use its instinctive attack every round. You really can't go wrong by bringing this guy out, and the only reason not to is if you want to use the Bulette's encounter power.
Blue Dragon Wyrmling (Epic): By this point all of the summons are dealing the same amount of damage, and unfortunately the dragon's attack has the weakest effect (a simple mark without a punishment). Fortunately, it happens to have a very nice "breath weapon" encounter power that deals good damage and dazes (and remember that you'll likely have Primal Summoning Expertise by this point, so you can fire that sucker off with a minor action).
Desert Roc (Epic): What a wonderful summon! You'll probably be actively commanding this guy, but since you have Primal Summoning Expertise (you did remember to pick that up, right?) it won't be too big a drain on your actions. The Roc can grab up to 2 enemies of size Large or smaller, and then fly up into the air with them (fly speed is 8). That's good incentive for them not to try and break the grab, right? They probably don't want to kill the Roc either. Feel free to drop them whenever you want, though.
PREDATORS: Grizzly Bear (Heroic): This guy deals moderate damage and can grab the target. If it has a creature grabbed it instinctively sustains instead of attacking which is a bummer, but it's also the best choice for locking down an isolated enemy. Because it won't be attacking as often it's the more situational of the Predators early summons.
Pack Wolf (Heroic): This is very similar to the Summon Pack Wolf daily power, except you don't need combat advantage to knock the enemy prone and it deals a little more damage. It still deals less damage than the other SNA options for this level, though. Thanks to the mobility denial that prone provides it should be attacking instinctively pretty much every round, especially if you position it tactically. Utilize Nature's Growth to keep enemies from closing in on your allies. It's probably most efficient parked right next to a defender, however, since the defender will protect it and it will make the defender more sticky. Synergizes well with Fire Hawk, Grasping Tide and Grasping Claws.
Dire Bear (Paragon):The bear deals excellent damage, and is most valuable because it brings something to the table that most of the other summons don't. Instead of being sticky, the bear actively pushes enemies away. Because of this it probably won't get to attack instinctively as much as the other summons, but don't write it off just yet. In some encounters it's just really helpful to have a good forced movement options (fighting by a cliff, pit, campfire, etc.), and even when it won't attack instinctively it may be worth the occasional standard action to command it to attack. It also makes a really good bodyguard; park it next to a squishy ally that enemies just keep coming toward. It will get to use its instinctive attack more often (more damage for you!), or enemies will avoid the squishy ally in which case you just did your job. If the bear hits someone they're knocked back, allowing the bear's "charge" a chance to escape.
Hunting Tiger (Paragon): Not much to say, really. It's almost exactly the same as the Pack Wolf, except it does quite a bit more damage, it can shift before attacking, and it's Large. Even if it will only attack adjacent enemies instinctively, the shift might help it gain CA. Prone still remains a good mobility-denial tool. Finally, while it's unlikely to be very useful in most combats, it gets a monstrous stealth bonus if it tries to hide after moving. Dire Lion (Epic):If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? The Dire Lion's standard action is almost the same as the Hunting Tiger's before him, which is in turn very similar to the Pack Wolf's. Actually, it's a little worse off than the Tiger's because it doesn't include a shift. I thought about demoting this guy to blue, but his encounter power makes up for a lack of improvement in his main attack. A friendly close burst 2 (originating from a Large creature, no less) that deals superb damage and debuffs attacks is very nice (arguably the best encounter power of all the summons), especially considering you'll be making it as a minor action via Primal Summoning Expertise.
Raptor Behemoth (Epic):No control attached to its attack, but it does get to shift if the target ends its turn within 2 squares of it and then it deals auto-damage. At first glance this looks like a decent way to improve your chances of it making an instinctive attack, but by this point you're commanding your summons through Primal Summoning Expertise pretty much every round.
At first I avoided making a Hybrids section for this guide for a couple of reasons. The first is that hybrids add a huge amount of complexity and options and to try to cover all of that would be a gargantuan undertaking. The second is that Wild Shape Druids simply don't hybrid very well, and thanks to their versatility in covering different roles they generally don't need to. Now that the hybrid rules have been released for Sentinels I feel it's time to address the issue. Unlike Wild Shape Druids, Sentinels hybrid quite well. They get full use of the animal companion as normal, they get to pick an at-will from each parent class which gives them one more than a regular Sentinel would have, and (best of all) they're not forced into Combined Attack! The idea of building a Sentinel that's not on such strict rails is appealing to many people, and making a hybrid is how you do that.
Sentinel (Leader Focus): The best choices for your other class if you want to run a more dedicated leader are the Cleric and the Shaman. Since Wis and Con are both almost equally important to a Sentinel, it's most efficient to stick with classes that share these stats (and these are the leaders that fit that). When choosing encounter powers you'll likely be relying heavily on your other class if you're trying to make a more "pure" leader. In general the Cleric will offer more healing and defensive buffing, whereas the Shaman has great enabling powers and a balanced repertoire of other leader functions. Both are also pretty strong secondary controllers, so you'll have plenty of options if you want to emphasize that secondary role.
Sentinel (Other Roles): Potential options for non-leaders are Invokers, Battleminds, and possibly Warlocks (some builds get by without Int anyways). Invokers are particularly attractive because you can cherry pick control powers from either parent class, and they also have some neat leader powers (in addition to powerful debuffing options that could count toward both roles). An Invoker|Sentinel can make a great primary controller and the animal companion adds a unique "at-will summon" twist. You could even M/C Shaman and pick up Mending Spirit to have 2 per encounter heals. You can really fine-tune how much you want to emphasize the leader and controller roles, and you'll often be blurring the 2. Finally, Invokers tend to have weak at-wills (unless you like blasting) and strong encounter powers, whereas Druids have several really good at-wills but a dearth of good encounter powers (particularly non-beast form ones). A hybrid can spam a good Druid at-will like Grasping Tide or Fire Hawk while having access to the Invoker's superb encounter powers.
Serene Swarm: As mentioned in the "Builds" section, a hybrid Swarm Druid | Serene Runepriest is an extremely durable build, and this "Serene Swarm" option is easily the best way to make a viable Swarm Druid above mid-Heroic.
Beast Form Tank (Battle Cleric's Lore): Though it's a bit "cheesy" at best since it violates the general rule limiting hybrids to getting only the best armor that both classes are proficient in, off-tanks might also consider combining a Wild Shape Druid with the Cleric and picking up Battle Cleric's Lore for the free AC bump. You'll have to water down your repertoire with some Cleric powers, but fortunately the class offers some top-notch control options so this might not even be a downside. You also get an encounter heal out of the deal. Ultimately, this is a very attractive method for optimizers to "patch" the beast form AC "problem," though personally I expect an errata that prevents hybrids from benefitting from Battle Cleric's Lore in the future. Until then, have fun (if your DM is cool with the build).
Level 11 Half-Elf Sentinel|Cleric Spiral Wind's Ally or Miracle Worker
Starting Abilities (post racial): 10, 18, 12, 8, 18, 12 Final Abilities: 11, 21, 13, 9, 21, 13 Druid of Spring (Hybrid) – Wolf and +2 to heal checks Healing Word (hybrid) Animal Companion – same as regular Sentinel Combined Attack (hybrid) – you can take it if you want (or additional uses) Healer's Lore (replace with Battle Cleric's Lore) Healing Word (Hybrid) Dilettante – Direct the Strike
Starting HP = 12 + Con; 5 HP/level 7+Con mod surges +1 F and +1 W
83 HP / 41 bloodied / 24 surge value; 12 surges
AC 29 = 10+5(lvl)+9(scale)+3(enh)+2(BCL)
F 26= 10+5+5(Con)+2(feat)+3(enh)+1(Class)
R 21= 10+5+1(Dex)+2(feat)+3(enh)
W 26= 10+5+5(Wis)+2(feat)+3(enh)+1(Class)
Feats 1: Hybrid Talent – Channel Divinity (Healer's Mercy) OR Cleric Armor Proficiency 2: Superior Implement Training (Accurate Staff) 4: Staff Expertise 6: Melee Training (WIS) 8: Battlewise 10: Swift Recovery 11: Improved Defenses At-Will Fire Hawk Brand of the Sun or Blessing of the Wild Animal Attack Encounter 1 – Cause Fear (or Sunburst) 3 – Combined Attack (or Tundra Wind) 7 – Searing Light (or Fey Beguiling) PP – Spiral Gust or Reversal of Fortunes R - Direct the Strike Daily 1 – Summon Pack Wolf 5 – Inspire Fervor 9 – Summon Crocodile (or Sunbeam) Utility 2 – Shield of Faith 6 – Camouflage Cloak 10 – Clear the Chaff
Note: This build is intentionally gear-independent.
Explanation: Battle Cleric's Lore currently works with hybrids, but it's notable that it breaks one of the design goals that hybrids get the worse of the 2 parent class's armor proficiencies. It is RAW though, but if your DM isn't cool with it (or in case it gets errata'd later on) you'll need to take Cleric Armor Proficiency for your Hybrid Talent instead of Channel Divinity. As it stands Hybrid Talent is used to get Healer's Mercy; being weakened won't hurt this build much because you can always command your wolf to attack while weakened, or use Direct the Strike. Fire Hawk was chosen to increase the wolf's stickiness and to destroy artillery; for your Cleric at-will Brand of the Sun provides convenient at-will save granting, whereas Blessing of the Wild is a nice mobility enabler. Cause Fear and Inspire Fervor both synergize extremely well with the animal companion since the amount of granted OAs/MBAs is dependent on how many allies are in range; your animal companion counts as an ally, so you're essentially getting a "free" attack in when you use these powers as a hybrid Sentinel. Sunburst provides a more defensive alternative to Cause Fear, and it also synergizes well with the animal companion since it throws THP around to all allies in its range. As a hybrid Sentinel, these types of powers are stronger than normal so it's beneficial to look out for them as you're choosing powers.
Two small notes about races... Devas are probably the one race that can well make a Con Druid and still go first reliably, thanks to their racial feat that gives that changes their Init from Dex to Wis+2. Their necrotic resistance and their defense bonus against bloodied targets it quite effective in actual play. A Minotaur's retribution attack triggers off dropping to zero, not off being hit - hence you won't be able to negate unless you have a way to heal with that attack.