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Character Optimization Part 3: Heroic Medium

Dragonborn Paladin of Bahamet

When we last left our Dragonborn Fighter, he was mixing it up at level 1 fairly well. Let’s assume he survives til level 2. Since this is a thought experiment, I can’t really say what magic items, if any he may have found, so let’s focus on things we can plan for. The first thing our Fighter (who I’m going to call ‘Kriv’ from here on out) had to do was get a better weapon. There were three basic choices:

Longsword for +1 to hit.

Battleaxe for d10 damage.

Khopesh for Brutal 1.

Statistically speaking, the average damage of the Battleaxe is 5.5, compared to 4.5 for the longsword. The Khopesh is a weird case because it simply cannot inflict 1 damage, making it’s average damage 5 even.

I say go with the longsword for now, but don’t forget Mr. Khopesh. Since it counts as both an Axe and a Heavy Blade, there’s some fun tricks you can pull with it later on down the road. Like, say, retraining into Weapon Master’s Strike once you have a little more Con.

We get a new Feat at this level. All the Feats we talked about last time are still good, although if we want to use the Style Feats, we’ll have to retrain. Ditching Cleave for Tide of Iron for Bloodhound Style is still very attractive, but your enemies are tougher now, and likely have a better chance to hit. They may think about trying to ignore your Mark more often.

This is a good time to show them how that’s not a good idea, so let’s go with Draconic Combat Challenge.

For our Utility, we have quite a few interesting choices:

-Defensive Stance. Stance Feats can dramatically change an encounter; this one reduces your speed to 2, but gives you +2 AC and a free shift when an enemy misses you. There will be fights when you’ll want this, but it’s a Daily.

-Shielded Sides. +2 AC and Reflex, and flanking doesn’t grant Combat Advantage until your next turn as a minor. And it’s an Encounter power! Unlikely that this will go to waste.

-Shielding Shove. Push a friend up to 3 squares away, and mark a guy standing next to you until the end of your next turn as a minor Encounter. It is a push, so you have to be careful, but this is another versatile power, and it lets you potentially mark two enemies in the same turn!

-Who’s Next? Kill a non-minion and shift your speed. Until the end of your next turn, you get a non-typed damage bonus equal to the number of squares you shifted. And it’s an Encounter power! This is really good battlefield mobility for you, and it can be a nasty setup if you’re willing to spend an Action Point either this turn or the next!

This is a hard choice, but we need more Encounter options. For now, let’s go with Shielding Sides; again, it’s not likely to go to waste, and we can retrain into one of the other options in a level or two.

And we’re on to level 3! There will definitely be magic items by this point. Just a quick list of things to look out for:

-Foe Maker Weapon. You can’t count on a crit, but +1d10 against a marked enemy ain’t bad. Plus the Daily lets you mark every enemy within 5 squares of you until the end of your next turn!

-Blood Fury Weapon. This could be cute, but I’d make a list of the benefits you get for being bloodied, including whatever powers your Leader might have first.

-Pinning Weapon. A very nice Daily power for a Defender to have, it will dramatically change one encounter to your advantage!

-Meliorating Armor. Sure, you probably won’t hit too many milestones in a day, but an AC boost is an AC boost!

-Veteran’s Armor. Ditto.

-Immunizing Armor. Poison is bad at low-levels. This makes it less of a problem.

-Armor of Resistance. This is a toughie, since it’s hard to know what you’re going to need at this stage of the game. Fire, Cold, Necrotic, and Poison are good choices, for various reasons.

-Talon Amulet. Again, it’s that Daily momentum shift we love so much. Great for minions; minion hits you, minion dies!

-Lifesaving Brooch. Remember what I said about who the most common target of Heal checks was?

-Badge of the Berserker. This takes away the biggest reason not to Charge. You sometimes have mobility issues, and this can help out a lot!

-Amulet of Physical Resolve. Poison, weakened, slowed, immobilized. All things Defenders hate!

-Amulet of Mental Resolve. You’re not a big fan of charm, illusion, or sleep either.

Ok, so, level 3. Your next Encounter Power, and boy have you been needing it!

-Bull Charge. Nice if you got a Badge of the Berserker. Still, having to make two rolls to knock the guy prone isn’t as good as it could be.

-Dance of Steel. Good damage and temporarily immobilizes the target.

-Shield Slam. Sure it doesn’t do damage, but it’s a Free Action that’s very accurate, and both pushes and knocks a target prone. You’ll have fun things to do with this later on!

-Sweeping Blow. A Close Burst attack, and with the weapon you’re using, super accurate. It’ll mark several enemies, and is always good for clearing out minions and mooks of all stripes.

It’s hard to say what problems you’ve been facing in combat have been up until this point, but another way to deal with hordes is always good, so we’ll take Sweeping Blow. But remember what I said about Shield Slam, you may be needing it later…

And finally, level 4. Beyond this point, you’re entering mid-to-high level heroic, where things start to change some. Your build is still solid, but builds focused on higher-level play will start to shine. You have a choice now, as well. Increase Con or increase Wis. Both have their advantages; up until this point, I’ve been passing on powers that grant extra bonuses based on either stat. Going with Con will grant a slight boost to damage and survivability with the right Powers, while going with Wisdom makes you Fighter’s Challenge better, and also, your Will defense. You’ll know which you need more at this point!

Your third Feat option doesn’t have to be as carefully chose either; you can start thinking about the things you’ll want to do in the future. Something to keep an eye on is Headsman’s Chop; with powers such as Shield Slam, you can set up an enemy to take a LOT of damage.

Just consider this turn:

Standard Action: kill enemy. Move Action: Who’s Next? Move 5 spaces adjacent to enemy.

Next turn: knock enemy prone with Shield Slam. You have +5 damage this turn from Who’s Next? Spend an Action point to use Steel Serpent Strike (or, if you really want to make sure you hit, Shield Feint), then Lasting Threat. All with +10 damage, thanks to Headsman’s Chop on your prone foe!

If he lives, and you used Steel Serpent, he’s prone, slowed, marked, and cannot shift until the end of your next turn! To quote of my favorite movies:

“..he ain’t goin’ nowhere. He’s goin’ fuckin’ nowhere!”

Did you miss Part 1 or Part 2?

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Posted by Lynceus

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