Tag Archives: Podcast followup

Radiant Mafia: Maximizing Radiant Damage With Your Party

Today’s post is written by guest blogger Ian from the Going Last gaming podcast. Check out their podcast for tons of tabletop gaming news, miniatures news, and D&D discussion.  I know I do.  This article is a followup on character concepts discussed in episode 20 of our podcast.

Character optimization is a fun and useful exercise, but for some players having an expertly crafted PC just isn’t enough. These players need something more, and party optimization can fulfill that role. Party optimization can be even trickier and more complicated than character optimization, but it can be more useful and more rewarding. Arguably the most common and most rewarding party optimization theme is something called the “Radiant Mafia.” Continue reading

Doing High Damage With Warlocks

Recently I went with some friends down to a Living Forgotten Realms battle interactive, where I knew we would be facing some challenging combats.  My warlock had just leveled to 18, so I had the opportunity to do some retraining.  Here were my goals for reworking the warlock:

  • I wanted to feel like a real striker doing real striker damage.  Warlocks are known for being more “controllery”, so I considered focusing on those kinds of powers. But then I decided that if you’re looking to impose status effects, “dead” is the best one…
  • Since the last time I played my warlock, Wizards updated the class by making it so that you can apply curse damage once per turn, rather than once per round (this is analogous to the change to rogues).  I tried looking for as many out-of-turn attacks as I could, but the Con warlock doesn’t have many.  Charisma has a few nice dailies that have the potential to give you out-of-turn attacks for the whole encounter, but I chose to stick with Con.
  • The only out-of-turn attack I ended up with was Killing Flames, which is an encounter Immediate Reaction triggered when an enemy within 10 becomes bloodied, and you attack it for 3d8+Con damage.  Add another 3d8 from curse dice, and that’s a pretty good hit.
  • We also had a warlord at the table, and since I had a melee basic attack (Eldritch Strike), I got some free attacks from that as well.

All in all, I was pretty impressed with the damage output.  I went Academy Master for my paragon path, which gives you +3 damage on at-wills, and gives you an encounter power to use an at-will and gain 2 extra damage dice.  Since I am sorcerer-king pact, that means that on the first turn I can use my encounter power to attack a target for 7d8+30 (+35 if I have prime shot).  I crit with that once… it was awesome.

How to get awesome damage (mostly from feats):

  • Blood Pact of Cania (+2/3/4 damage with Con powers)
  • Dual Implement Spellcaster (adds your off-hand implement bonus to damage rolls)
  • Called Shot (+5 damage with prime shot)
  • Killing Curse (d8’s for curse dice)
  • Implement Focus (+1/2/3 damage)
  • Mindbite Scorn (extra die of curse dice)
  • Siberys Shard of the Mage (+3 damage when using a weapon as an implement)
  • Staff of Ruin (always awesome)
  • Gauntlets of Blood (+4 damage vs. bloodied targets)

So with all of this, I used a +4 Staff of Ruin with +4 off-hand Wrist Razors to get +27 damage on most powers:

+7 (constitution) +4 (enhancement) +4 (staff of ruin) +4 (dual implement) +3 (siberys shard) +3 (blood pact of cania) +2 (implement focus)

This goes up to +30 with an at-will (from Academy Master), and can get up to +39 with an at-will when I have Prime Shot vs. a bloodied target.  Even better, I have +2 to hit bloodied targets with Prime Shot since I’m a tiefling.  So I didn’t miss much, and if I did, I have a couple of daily rerolls, and the U12 from Academy Master keeps me from expending an encounter power if I miss all targets with it.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions for doing lots of damage with warlocks?  Leave them in the comments below!

New Cleric Options

This article is related to the new Strength Cleric options posted on the D&D website last month.  We discussed these options in a recent podcast episode.

Related article: Battle Cleric Options

Related podcast: Episode 14

There was a great article that came out while I was on vacation detailing some new options for Strength-based clerics.  This is a build type that has been in need of some love for a while, so it’s nice to see they finally got it.

Class Features

Battle Cleric’s Lore (replaces Healer’s Lore, which lets you add Wis to your surge-heals): Gives you a +2 shield bonus to AC (leaving you free to use 2-handers), proficiency with scale (clerics normally only get chain), and when you surge-heal someone, they get a +2 unnamed bonus to attack rolls until the end of your next turn.

On a scale of 1 to amazing, this gets an amazing.

Channel Divinity Powers

Normally, clerics get two channel divinity powers: divine fortune (which gives you a +1 to the next attack roll or saving throw you make before the end of your turn; pretty worthless) and turn undead (only useful versus undead, obviously).

In Divine Power, clerics got healer’s mercy, which is a standard action AOE heal that weakens you for a turn.  Not optimal for Strength clerics since you’re trying to do damage, but still better than turn undead in most situations.

In this new article, Strength clerics get a Strength-based anti-undead power as an alternative to turn undead.  Most clerics will stick with healer’s mercy, but if you’re in an undead-heavy campaign, you might consider this alternative.

The real star here is an alternative to divine fortune: favor of the gods.  This is a minor action that lets you choose an ally within 3 squares and let that ally reroll the attack roll the next time they miss before the end of your next turn.  This is good to pop off on someone you know is going to be using a big daily or AOE effect, so even though it’s not a reactive reroll, it’s still way better than divine fortune.

Attack Powers

There are two styles of attack powers in the article: powers that require you to use simple weapons, and powers that give you a bonus if you use a simple weapon.

So which weapons are simple?  Normally a Strength cleric would be using a big two-hander like fullblade (+3, d12, high crit), mordenkrad (+2, 2d6 brutal 1), or execution axe (+2, d12 brutal 2, high crit).  Let’s compare these to your options for a 2-handed simple weapon, keeping in mind that using a simple weapon also saves you a feat:

  • Morningstar (+2, d10)
  • Greatclub (+2, 2d4)
  • Quarterstaff (+2, d8)
  • Scythe (+2, 2d4)

Of these, the highest damage option (though not by much) would be the morningstar.  You might consider the quarterstaff if only because the Staff Expertise feat gives you +1 reach with melee attacks.

To give you an idea of why using simple weapons with the new powers might not be so bad, let’s take a look at the at-wills.  We’ll assume we’re using a quarterstaff, just to see how the damage stacks up.

Battle Cleric’s Weapon Mastery
At-Will * Divine, Weapon
Standard Action, Melee weapon
Requirement: You must use this power with a simple weapon.
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength + 1 vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + 2 + Strength modifier damage.
Level 21: 2[W] + 4 + Strength modifier damage.
Weapon: If you’re wielding your weapon with both hands, you gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll.

Compare this to a basic attack with a fullblade: same attack bonus, and d12+Str versus d8+4+Str.  In this case, this power is strictly better in terms of damage.  Compared to, say, execution axe, the difference is d12+Str (brutal 2) versus d8+4+Str, and this power is still slightly ahead (and more accurate!).

The downside is that this power doesn’t do anything else.  Let’s look at the other new at-will:

Weapon of Divine Protection
At-Will * Divine, Weapon
Standard Action, Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + Strength modifier damage.
Level 21: 2[W] + Strength modifier damage.
Weapon: If you’re wielding a simple weapon, the attack deals 1d6 extra damage.
Effect: Until the end of your next turn, your allies gain a +2 power bonus to all defenses while adjacent to you.

With this power, we lose the extra accuracy, and trade 4 bonus damage for a d6 of bonus damage (which is approximately the same), and gain an effect that is sort of mediocre in my book.  I don’t really see a reason to use this power over Battle Cleric’s Weapon Mastery.

The article also has several encounter powers that are very similar to these at-wills: either you must use a simple weapon, but you get more accuracy and higher damage, or you can use whatever weapon you want (which is nice for people who are attached to their mordenkrads), but you get a damage bonus if you happen to be using a simple weapon.

The encounter powers have some nice effects to them, but rather than listing them all out, here are my favorites:

  • Effect: Until the end of your next turn, you and each ally within 3 squares of you can make attacks against the target’s lowest defense, instead of the defense normally targeted by that attack.  [Comment: This is a really nice bonus to the team, and could translate into a pretty high attack bonus depending on the target.]
  • Target: One or two creatures within melee range, Hit: 1[W]+Strength and dazed until the end of your next turn.  [Comment: This is huge.  On my level 21 cleric, I was still using a level 3 encounter power that dazed one target!  Also, this is one of the ones usable with any kind of weapon, and does +1d6 with a simple.]
  • Effect: Until the end of your next turn, you and your allies gain a +1 power bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls against the target. In addition, whenever you or one of your allies within 3 squares of you is hit or missed by an enemy’s attack, this bonus increases by 1, to a maximum bonus of +5.  [Comment: Depending on the fight, this could add up to be a pretty big bonus.  Also, you probably want to delay in the initiative order until right before the monsters so as to crank this up as much as possible.]

So in conclusion, Strength cleric got a lot more cool options and flexibility.  Hooray!

Grab Fighters

After our last podcast, we decided that articles would be the best way to give detail on the character builds we discuss.  This frees us up from having to read off every single power and feat choice during the podcast, and talk more about concepts and general choices.  We hope you enjoy these new supplements to our podcast!

Related Podcast: Episode 13

Martial Power 2 introduced an interesting new build for fighters: the Brawler.  Instead of the normal weapon talent (+1 to hit with one- or two-handed weapons), you get the following benefits:

  • While wielding a one-handed weapon in your main hand, and your off-hand is free or grabbing a creature, you get +1 AC and +2 Fortitude
  • In addition, you get a +2 enhancement bonus to unarmed attack rolls, and a +2 bonus to grab attacks and attacks to move a creature you are grabbing (increases to +4 and +6 at paragon/epic)

These combo well with a new at-will, Grappling Strike, where you make a standard Strength vs. AC attack against your target, and on a hit, you grab the target until the end of your next turn.  This is a great way to grab monsters without making the standard “grab” attack, which doesn’t include modifiers from your weapon and doesn’t do damage.  Fighters also got several good encounter and daily powers that work when your off-hand is free or grabbing a target.

To maximize the effectiveness of your grabs, here are some more tools you can use:

  • Inescapable Hold is a feat that makes enemies trying to escape your grab have to roll against your Fortitude instead of Reflex, even if they use Acrobatics
  • Forceful Drag is an encounter U2 power move action where, if you have a creature grabbed, you can move up to your speed, dragging the creature with you, and then knock it prone.  Which combos nicely with…
  • Pin Down, a feat that says that any prone creature that you have grabbed can’t stand until you end the grab or it escapes
  • World Serpent’s Grasp is a feat that says whenever you hit a slowed or immobilized target with an attack, you can knock it prone

With these abilities, you grab an enemy, use Forceful Drag to knock it prone, and then keep regrabbing it every turn, keeping it prone (hopefully) for a long time.  Alternatively, once you have an enemy grabbed, it is immobilized, so hitting it again will knock it prone.  Making the enemy roll against your Fortitude is especially good since you already have a high Fort from being a fighter, and you get an extra +2 from being a Brawler.  You might even toss on the Superior Fortitude feat for an extra +2 to your Fort defense (+3/+4 at paragon/epic) to make it that much harder for the enemy to escape.

“Lazy” Shaman Hybrids

After our last podcast, we decided that articles would be the best way to give detail on the character builds we discuss.  This frees us up from having to read off every single power and feat choice during the podcast, and talk more about concepts and general choices.  We hope you enjoy these new supplements to our podcast!

Related Podcast: Episode 13

Shamans In General

A non-hybrid shaman gets some fundamental class features, the most important of which is your spirit companion.  You summon your companion as a minor action, and many of your attacks and other class features work off of your shaman.  Many of your powers will have a range of “melee spirit”, which means the attack is usable if the target is adjacent to your spirit.  Depending on which style of spirit you choose (bear, eagle, world serpent, etc.), you get powers and features that are unique to that style.

“Lazy” Shamans

As a hybrid shaman, you don’t get all of the features associated with your spirit style, but you do get an at-will attack power.  To be a “lazy” shaman, you’ll want to choose the Elemental Spirit, which gives you the power called Spirit Infusion.  This is a standard action that targets an ally adjacent to your spirit.  The spirit is dismissed (though it can be resummoned with another minor action), and the ally can make a basic attack with a +2 power bonus to the attack roll and a power bonus to the damage roll equal to your Intelligence modifier.

In addition to this at-will, shaman has other powers that also grant other players attacks.

For example, in Primal Power there is an E3 called Sly Fox Spirit which grants a basic attack to an ally adjacent to your spirit, and if that attack hits, grants a second basic attack to a second ally adjacent to your spirit.  As another example, there is a D5 called Vengeful Blood Spirits in Primal Power that lets two allies make charge attacks, doing an extra d10 on a hit, and also gives those allies +2 to hit and damage with charge attacks for the rest of the encounter.

Since none of these powers use Wisdom, and as a hybrid shaman you only ever need to have three shaman attack powers (one at-will, one encounter, and one daily), then you don’t need to have any Wisdom at all if you choose these powers.

You’re then free to choose your other hybrid class to be almost anything.  Ideally you might choose something based on Intelligence to make your Spirit Infusion as effective as possible.

If you’re feeling especially lazy, you could even hybrid warlord/shaman, and take all the warlord powers that also grant attacks to other players (Commander’s Strike, Powerful Warning, etc.).

If you build your character correctly, you won’t even need to bring any dice to the table!  Though you might have to borrow a d20 from someone for the occasional saving throw or skill check…