Jun 20, 2004
Seconding the don't-be-worried thing.
I ran the numbers a while ago and showed, pretty conclusively, that against CR-appropriate enemies, a warblade (the most aggressive of the three Tome of Battle classes, as shown here) actually falls behind a core-only barbarian in terms of damage output. (The key isn't so much rage as the barbarian's ability to full attack. Warblades definitely win on mobility, but their strikes almost always deal less overall damage than a barbarian's attacks (and the rare occasions that they do, they usually leave the warblade extremely vulnerable to counterattack). I didn't give either of them any feats except Power Attack.)
Basically, the tome as a whole adds mobility, dynamic tactical options, ability score flexibility (especially on Dexterity) and relative equipment independence to D&D melee. None of that actually increases overall power, but it greatly expands your freedom in employing what power you already have.
If you're worried about this build, note that you can shut down its charging relatively easily (block line of sight (smokestick, darkness, etc) or hinder movement (other combatants, difficult terrain, corners)), which prevents Combat Brute from kicking in. There's not much you can do to stop the Nightmare Blade + Deep Impact trick - except for all the ways you can block attacks (the Tome introduces counters that operate this way (Wall of Blades is basically a controlled parry), but concealment and especially the Elusive Target feat shut this trick down hard). And the rest of the build is just followup/cleanup for an attack you just foiled.
Not to belittle it - this is still a mean trick, and against a lot of opponents it will cleave them in two. However, it's not hard to introduce significant threats that can basically foil it and force you to be a bit more clever. (Read: Significant, recurring NPC opponents.)
Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.Weekly Optimization Series:
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows:
[TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.
[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)
Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft
Nice catch, you're absolutely right. I missed that when originally writing the build and of all the really well educated and informed optimizers that have been over this build it's been missed up until now.
As far as cringing at bringint Tome of Battle into your game, don't. A player who can create and understand this build can create and understand a FAR more powerful Wizard and ruin your game. They won't if they're a good player. Any and all source material really comes down to how it's used and or abused.
This build's not abusive in most games. It may be considered abusive if your DM doesn't understand the system very well and puts out monsters they think are tough. Anything that uses good maneuverability or concealment or worse yet both defeats this builds primary attack strategy at least for a few rounds before his party can get you by it.
I'm unfortunately both blessed and cursed by the fact that while my players -are- abusive and into breaking the games, they're not creative and number-crunching enough to come up with much that isn't easy to stop in it's tracks real fast. Lets hear it for the lazy!
Regardless, with that lil' stat issue (and even if it wasn't there, more shuffling for the elite spread), I think I'll just put this to the side and try to find a different third thing to round out the heavy crusader and inevitable nightmare character write-ups. I've got this wierd left-over from my eaaarly days of gaming under a "Killer GM" (I qoute, 'If I haven't killed two characters a night, I'm doing something wrong'), where I hate to show up to a session without three characters completely ready to run. :/