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Swift & Without Mercy: A Guide to Pursuit Avengers
"The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked."
Note: This is not a typical Handbook. kilpatds has done an amazing job with his handbook, and continues to do so-- even going so far as to keep up a fantastic Wiki effort. Instead, this Guide approaches this particular type of Avenger in a different way, which I hope will offer value to those of you who are interested in Pursuit Avengers.
Note also that the usual Color based rating system will not be used exactly the same here. If you're going, "why does this guy give Battle Awareness a gold rating", don't spend time trying to figure out why. Just know that that's my way of saying, "I wish I could take TWO of these!"
Part 1: The Life of a Pursuit Avenger...
A big part of building any 4e D&D; character is understanding what it is you'll be doing with that character. To that end, I'm going to use this space to talk about how you actually overcome Encounters, and the ways in which a Pursuit Avenger is able to help his party kick some monster (posterior).
To kick this off, I want to point out that there are two main ways in which any character may help his party win an encounter:
Some encounters can be won simply by overwhelming the opposition with firepower, and removing key bad guys from the map very quickly.
This approach is the most popular one, as dealing damage is a key part of it, and everybody loooooves bringing the pain. Another crucial aspect of a good Sprint is target selection. If your party is facing a Battle Wight Commander, whose basic attack deals damage *and* drains a healing surge from your surge pool, and you're over in a corner beating up a guy whose most dangerous attack is an area burst 1 that deals modest damage, you're doin' it wrong. More on how to do it right in a minute. For now, just accept that being an effective offensive character isn't quite as simple as "hit bad gye inna fayse!".
Far less glamorous is helping your party win by extending encounters-- helping your party survive the opening turns of an encounter, and being able to keep them going if an encounter turns into a war of attrition.
Factors that contribute to Marathon wins include:
a) Healing ability/powers. Pursuit Avengers can easily MC dip to provide some of this.
b) High defenses and HP pool. Avengers of all stripes generally have this covered.
c) Ability to deny enemy actions. You can dabble in this.
d) Ability to dictate enemy targets. Specifically, keep them from attacking less resilient targets. This is where Pursuit Avengers really shine.
As a Pursuit Avenger, you help your party by being effective in both ways. Your damage output is good, your defenses are huge, and you are able to lock down dangerous enemies who might otherwise pummel a less-resilient ally into submission.
You are a Striker and Secondary Defender.
When all else fails... play dead.
Section 1a: Being a Defender.
Yep. We're going to cover the secondary role first. Here's why:
1) You're going to put out good damage. You're a Striker, it's what you do. Focusing on being effective in this role, in addition to your Striker duties, is what separates a good teammate from a truly great one.
Gratuitous sports metaphor: Any receiver can catch a pass. Few are going to throw a block like Hines Ward.
2) I could give you another reason, but reason number 1 should have you convinced by now. You DO want to be a great teammate, right? You should. All of the cool kids are doing it.
Now that that's covered...
What makes you a legitimate secondary Defender, as opposed to simply being a melee Striker, or a weird Controller-y thingy?
Your Defender tools Show
Doing the job Show
Section 1b: Being a Striker.
1) High damage output, with 3 sub-categories.
1a) Nova. Generally, single-turn burst. Occasionally, 2-turn burst. This is the Achilles heel of almost all Avengers.
1b) non-Nova, front-loaded damage. Similar to nova ability, except that this involves being able to provide consistently high damage multiple early turns in an encounter-- ideally, the first 3-5 turns. While you can't provide much in the way of Novas, you can do this very well. To clarify, this is what happens between turn 1 and the time that you settle completely into At-Will spamming.
1c) At-Will. This is where Avengers earn their paycheck.
2) Mobility-- high damage output isn't a big deal when you can't get to the target you need/want to drop.
3) Staying power*
Average encounter length for a challenging encounter is 7-10 turns. While it's awesome for a glass cannon type to be able to run out on turn 1 and drop something, it's not so awesome when said glass cannon gets dropped on turn 2 or 3, or when they force the party to take an extended rest at an inopportune time due to running out of surges, OR when the party's Leader is looking accross the table at them and saying, "dude... I don't have any heals left." Your job is to conserve party resources, not drain them.
Here's another gratuitous sports metaphor, relating to Staying Power:
Andersen Silva > Chuck Liddell because one of these guys doesn't neglect their defenses.
*You should be noting right now that survivability has been mentioned as an important aspect of both of your jobs.
This part is all about your relationship with the various monster types. Some of these things are well known. Other concepts/thoughts here are definitely going to be new to some readers.
Many folks considered 'in the know' are aware that Pursuit Avengers are particularly good at annihilating Artillery. The dynamic here is very simple-- they're most effective when using Ranged attacks, and do not want you in their faces. Their options are:
1) Eat an OA by staying next to you and making a ranged attack. Few will do this.
2) Resign themselves to a toe-to-toe melee slugfest with you. This keeps them alive longer than their other options, but means they're using weak melee ability against your very high defenses.
3) Eat an OA by moving away from you. Most DMs won't provoke in this way *if you have a good MBA*. Do NOT neglect your MBAs, sirs.
4) The DM favorite: shift 1 + ranged attack. This triggers your Censure of Pursuit bonus, assuming the bad guy is even able to shift. At Paragon, you can remove this option entirely by taking Censure's Grip.
Note also that most Artillery attack AC or Reflex, and that your AC and Ref are very high.
What to look for to spot Artillery:
Artillery are generally armed with ranged weapons, or implements of various sorts. They won't press forward during an encounter, instead either remaining stationary, or moving from one vantage point to the next. These guys are some of the easiest to spot during Turn 1, because you'll often be able to identify them immediately when the DM describes the scene.
Due to some recent changes, the Brute vs Avenger interaction has changed somewhat. Here's the new juice on Brutes...
1) Their AC, Reflex, and Will usually suck, which means you're going to have an even easier time hitting them than you would against anyone else. The flip side is that they have much higher HP, on average. You should expect them to require 1 more hit to kill than other monster types.
2) Brute offense: It used to be that Brutes hit pretty hard, but had a hard time landing those shots. That's not something you can bank on, anymore. They now hit harder, and more often. These guys are now what they should have been all along, which is... scary frontline damage dealers.
In the 'old days', you would go after these guys because you were their kryptonite. Now, you go after them simply because you're the best guy for the job. Yes... THE best guy for the job.
-- Your Defender will take longer to kill one than you will, which means about 1-3 extra turns of eating attacks from a high damage opponent. While the Defender is resilient, putting the Defender on a Brute still means that it is up and dealing damage for a greater period of time.
-- These guys will tear up just about anyone else they get on.
Since MM3 & Bilsmode tweaks have come out, you should expect Brutes to be every bit as threatening as Artillery.
What to look for to spot Brutes: Brutes can be tricky to identify during Turn 1, but you'll usually know who they are by Turn 2 or Turn 3. They're often big (Large+), and they hit hard. To be more specific, they hit harder than Soldiers, who are the other prominent melee type. In a nutshell-- if it rushes into melee and hits hard, it's usually a Brute.
What Controllers do in the broad sense is painfully obvious. To get more specific, they generally have respectable damage output, typically do something that screams, "HI! I'M A CONTROLLER!" on Turn 1, are often obviously special due to placement and bodyguards (Soldiers or Brutes protecting them).
With these guys, the main thing to understand isn't so much what you bring to the table that makes you especially good at taking them out-- the more important thing to keep in mind is simply that THEY GOTTA DIE.
If there is a Controller on the grid, it should be your first or second target.
What to look for to spot a Controller: Spotting Controllers generally happens one of two ways:
1) The DM makes it obvious that they are special during his description/set up of the encounter. He'll either give it extra attention during the description, or he'll do something with mini positioning that makes it obvious that this guy is special.
If the DM is especially devious, you'll have to use the second method:
2) Select another obvious target-- (hopefully a Skirmisher, Artillery, or Brute)-- and observe what monsters do on their turns. It'll only take 1-2 turns, tops, for you to figure out who the Controller is (if there is one).
Note: It isn't absolutely vital that you target a Controller first, but they are usually the most optimal first target, simply because of what they do. If you're not able to spot this guy before your first turn, kill something else first, THEN move on to this guy.
Lurkers are one of the less appealing targets for you, for 2 main reasons:
1) By themselves, Lurkers aren't a huge threat. Their damage is bursty, rather than consistent, and the bursts aren't big enough to drop a target without the help of allies who put out more consistent damage.
2) Lurkers usually have defensive powers which will make them a bit obnoxious to kill quickly. IE, you might wind up wasting turns trying to take them out, while it would be a lot easier to remove another target from play.
What you need to know about spotting Lurkers: They'll look like something else until they use one of their stealth/escape powers. As always, your best bet is to make your first target an obvious Brute, Artillery, Controller, or Skirmisher, and let observation dictate your second target. If you spot one of these guys while you're working on your first target, *avoid* making the Lurker your second target.
Ahhhh, Skirmishers... these guys are very, very fun targets for a Pursuit Avenger.
These guys want to fly around the grid, usually have mobile attacks that let them do so without provoking OAs, and their powers are occasionally written in such a way that they are effectively multi-attacks that include the Defender as one of their targets. Man... Defenders hate that. These guys also tend to be very strong offensively, and often attack multiple creatures each turn with drive-by style attacks.
Luckily for you, they have average defenses, and they trigger your Censure of Pursuit as a matter of habit. In my experience, putting my Oath on a Skirmisher usually means I'm +1 to hit, and +(Censure bonus) damage until it dies. The alternative is for the Skirmisher to stand still and fight you toe-to-toe, which is obviously not something they really want to do.
Note that, if you take Censure's Grip and an enabling buddy-feat, you can actually negate their ability to use certain attacks (any power that involves a shift away from you goes out the window). More on this in the build sections later.
What do you need to know to spot Skirmishers? You'll know after their first turn, because they're going to do something flashy that involves moving.
Soldiers mark, are generally very accurate, don't hit hard, and have high defenses (but average HP). These guys are pretty easy to spot.
They'll want to go after Strikers or Controllers, so that they can keep you marked, and protect their more offensively-minded friends on Team Monster.
Only target one of these guys first if it becomes evident that you've stepped in one, and can't get it off your shoe without killing it. If that happens, don't worry. It's just a speed bump.
What do you need to know to spot Soldiers?: Watch for heavy armor, marks, and guys who are running *toward* you.
and secondary roles...
Leaders. Leaders are high priority targets. Sometimes, it'll be obvious who they are. Other times, their effects will be passive (auras, etc), and you may not even know when one is on the grid. What you need to know about them is simple: when you spot one, that's your next target. Some clues: granting allies MBAs or other attacks, using healing powers, buffing allies, etc.
Minions. Fodder for your Controller to chew up and spit out. These guys are the reason you *never* use a Daily or Encounter power against a target without seeing them take a hit first.
Elites. These guys are the equivalent of two Standard monsters of the same level. You should *love* seeing them, because each Elite on the board could just as easily have been 2 Standards, and life is easier for you when the field is less cluttered.
If you spot one of these guys, get your Defender on it ASAP, and make your first targets non-Elites. The reason for this is simple: If you focus on killing Standard monsters first, you reduce the damage potential of Team Monster faster.
Solos These guys are the equivalent of 5 Standard monsters of their level.
If you see one of these guys and it *isn't* alone, get your Defender on the Solo, and go after the Standard monsters. DMs often build Encounters with monster synergy in mind, so there is usually a good reason for those Standard monsters to be there. Taking them off the grid ASAP is priority number 1 for you.
Section 1c: Tips for Succeeding in Both Roles
OK... the DM has called for initiative, and you've rolled. You get a good number, and go very early in the initiative order. Since you're Dex-secondary, this will happen a lot.
You know what each type of monster usually does, and you realize that differentiating between monster types usually means observing them for at least 1 turn.
So... how do you pick your FIRST target? Here's what you do...
Prioritize imminent threats.
-- is a melee monster near your Leader?
-- if you're fighting in a confined/crowded area, is there an enemy holding a staff, rod, etc?
The subject of a 'yes' to one of those questions is a GREAT bad guy to drop your first Oath on. While you're killing that one, you'll be able to identify your second target.
Target aquired? What now?
Turn 1 is all about gathering information. You do NOT want to blow your wad here, unless you're going late in the initative order, and have already seen evidence that a target is not a minion.
Your first attack against a fresh target should always be a 'minion check'-- generally, an At-Will or a charge.
Other options, which can help you gain information a lot faster: multi-target attacks. Area bursts, close bursts, or close blasts. If you hit something, and it stays alive, it is not a minion. If you hit a minion... who cares? Less clutter is good.
Note: If you spot a high priority target during the initiative & set-up period (before turn 1), and the target is far away, you're going to want to have an 'approach power' in the bag-- some tool that helps you close the distance safely, and quickly. Keep this in mind as we go forward.
If your target didn't die from your first hit, this is where you use your Daily power for the Encounter, and an Action Point, if you're going to use one. You really want to kill the first target as quickly as possible, then move on to any priority target you've recognized during the first 2 turns.
Do not hold anything back here, unless it's obvious overkill-- usually not a problem for an Avenger, considering our limited Nova ability.
Turn 3 and beyond:
Once turn 3 rolls around, you should have a working idea of what everything on the grid does, and you should still have a couple tricks up your sleeve.
Until you run out of 'extras' (non-Standard attacks, item powers, etc), continue throwing them down until you're reduced to spamming At-Wills.
Again... do not hold anything back.
All Avengers can be very strong spamming At-Wills. Pursuit Avengers are especially potent, because they begin to cripple many monsters just by going after them. Once you get that bad guy into position (it only takes one Overwhelming Strike), the target is forced to either deal with you, or die even faster by trying to run.
Section 2: Building for Success Within Your Roles
Rather than go over everything kilpatds has already gone over, I'm just going to focus on Skills, Feats, Powers, and Items as they relate to your life as a Pursuit Avenger.
Before we launch into that, I'm going to lay out some general Pursuit Avenger guidelines and thoughts. Here they are:
1. Optimizing At-Will DPR is your ticket to success as an effective Avenger Striker. Add as many non-Standard attacks and effects as you can cram in around this At-Will base.
Some exceptions exist, but.... not very many.
The At-Wills you're going to want to build around are either Overwhelming Strike, or Bond of Retribution. No matter which one you build around, you'll usually want to have both of them. EVERY Pursuit Avenger should have Overwhelming Strike, with NO exceptions.
2. Maximize Your Strengths.
Do not get suckered into thinking that having high innate accuracy and defenses means that you don't have to bolster those features with feat support.
This drives me crazy. Every time I hear, "Avengers don't need Expertise. They have OoE!", or "Avengers don't need AC feats, they have Armor of Faith and high Dex!", I want to strangle a baby seal.
Maximize your Strengths, and you will be wildly successful.
3. When you make build choices, consider them in the context of a real, 7-10 turn Encounter.
Chains of Censure can be used to 'stun' a melee target.
Flowform Armor can help you recover potentially lost actions.
These are just two examples of the types of things people will skim over and not be especially impressed by, despite their ability to dramatically shift things in your favor during the course of an Encounter.
Sample build: Githzerai (Pursuit) Avenger/Ardent Champion/Demigod.
1) This build uses Power of Skill to charge with Overwhelming Strike on turn 1. This gives it a stiff hit for its minion check, and allows it to reposition its target instantly-- setting up Deadly Draw + Censure's Grip on its subsequent turn.
2) 16 starting Dex, +Improved Armor of Faith, +Dex-boost from Demigod/Divine Spark. 47 AC.
3) Built around At-Will DPR. Factoring in Slashing Storm, the build puts out over 100 DPR with Overwhelming Strike from a cold start. This doesn't factor in Deadly Draw, assumes the target saves against Font of Radiance on the first attempt, assumes stand-still (not charging), etc. While you can definitely bump the number up (this frame can be pushed over 110 DPR, easily), this particular build is put together to model the marriage of Striker + Defender roles.
4) Immediate action attacks (Strikebacks, Battle Awareness, Relentless Stride, Vengeful Parry, Backlash Tattoo, etc) help drive this build's actual DPR even higher.
5) Big crit rate + Symbol of Victory = you're virtually guaranteed to have an Action Point for each of the first 3 Encs in any 'workday'.
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D; Character Builder ======
Challenger, level 30
Githzerai, Avenger, Ardent Champion, Demigod
Avenger's Censure: Censure of Pursuit
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Heavy Blade)
Versatile Expertise: Versatile Expertise (Holy Symbol)
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Dexterity
Divine Spark: Divine Spark Wisdom
Background: Occupation - Criminal (Thievery class skill)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 16, Con 15, Dex 26, Int 12, Wis 28, Cha 10.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 14, Con 13, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.
AC: 49 Fort: 43 Reflex: 42 Will: 43
HP: 203 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 50
Religion +22, Perception +30, Stealth +29, Thievery +29, Athletics +28
Acrobatics +25, Arcana +16, Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Dungeoneering +24, Endurance +17, Heal +24, History +16, Insight +24, Intimidate +15, Nature +24, Streetwise +15
Level 1: Githzerai Blade Master
Level 2: Power of Skill
Level 4: Unarmored Agility
Level 6: Versatile Expertise
Level 8: Battle Awareness
Level 10: Deadly Draw
Level 11: Painful Oath
Level 12: Censure's Grip
Level 14: Paragon Defenses (retrained to Robust Defenses at Level 21)
Level 16: Power Attack
Level 18: Improved Armor of Faith
Level 20: Pervasive Light
Level 21: Hand of Divine Guidance
Level 22: Slashing Storm
Level 24: Punishing Radiance
Level 26: Font of Radiance
Level 28: Divine Mastery
Level 30: Epic Fortitude
Avenger at-will 1: Focused Fury
Avenger at-will 1: Overwhelming Strike
Avenger encounter 1: Angelic Alacrity
Avenger daily 1: Aspect of Might
Avenger utility 2: Distracting Flare
Avenger encounter 3: Fury's Advance
Avenger daily 5: Bond of Foresight
Avenger utility 6: Aspect of Agility
Avenger encounter 7: Relentless Stride
Avenger daily 9: Temple of Shadow
Avenger utility 10: Wings of Vengeance
Avenger encounter 13: Avenger's Demand (replaces Angelic Alacrity)
Avenger daily 15: Aspect of Fury (replaces Aspect of Might)
Avenger utility 16: Astral Cloak
Avenger encounter 17: Vengeful Parry (replaces Avenger's Demand)
Avenger daily 19: Oath of the Inevitable Blade (replaces Temple of Shadow)
Avenger utility 22: Twin Step
Avenger daily 25: Aspect of Death (replaces Bond of Foresight)
Avenger daily 29: Final Oath (replaces Aspect of Fury)
Adventurer's Kit, Vicious Fullblade +6, Dawn Warrior Starweave Armor +6, Timeless Locket +6, Iron Armbands of Power (epic tier), Siberys Shard of Radiance (epic tier), Assault Boots (paragon tier), Strikebacks (heroic tier), Horned Helm (paragon tier), War Ring (paragon tier), Ring of Giants (paragon tier), Diamond Cincture (paragon tier), Symbol of Victory +2, Backlash Tattoo (heroic tier)
Section 2a: Heroic Tier
*Note that, rather than giving explanations of what these things do, I'll assume that you have already looked at kilpatds' excellent Wiki guide to Avengers, and have a working understanding of the mechanics. My focus here will be discussion of how they relate specifically to the goals of Pursuit Avengers.
Overwhelming Strike. This attack allows you to put yourself between your target and your allies (creating threat of OAs), pull melee baddies away from your allies (creating threat of Pursuit bonus), and can now be optimized with minimal effort to give you At-Will Combat Advantage, as well as further threat of OAs. This is unquestionably the definitive At-Will for Pursuit Avengers, as this power is what makes the world go 'round for your build, whether you're emphasizing your secondary Defender aspects, or building a charger.
There is NEVER a good reason for a Pursuit Avenger to select any other At-Will instead of Overwhelming Strike at level 1. Thanks to Painful Oath giving us the Radiant & Necrotic keywords, this build is now the go-to for everyone, including Radiant Servants and Arbiters of Forgotten Justice.
Building Around Overwhelming Strike Show
Bond of Retribution. Bond of Retribution really doesn't have anything going for it, other than the Radiant keyword-- which Painful Oath gives you at 11th, anyway. This power is now basically a handy tool for fighting undead from levels 1-10, and then becomes obsolete at the same level where you start to find ways to have fun with the Radiant keyword.
Avenging Shackles. It slows, so it works GREAT with any build that includes Vicous Advantage. Add Distant Vengeance and Closing Pledge, and you'll get double rolls, have instant Combat Advantage, and move toward the target as a free action on hit. Having the Radiant keyword built-in doesn't hurt. Using Avenging Shackles + Distant Vengance + Favored Soul = laser beams from the sky.
Bond of Censure. This power sucks if you don't build it up. Start with an Int mod of +1 (Humans can start with 16 Dex, 18 Wis, 12 Con, and 12 Int at L1, for example), add Deadly Draw and Censure's Grip. Creates the same scenario for you as the built-up Avenging Shackles, except with reduced damage, and you won't need Distant Vengeance. Since you're very likely to have Deadly Draw + Censure's Grip, anyway, this makes a great third At-Will for Humans. Note that it also lets you pull your target away from enemies it might be bullying.
Focused Fury. This power is useful only as a second or third At-Will in a line-up that includes Overwhelming Strike. Where this power gets its value is in the fact that it can be used to make ranged attacks, which allows you to use your primary stat when you're stuck at long range. This power's mechanics suck for melee (OoE and the rider are mutually exclusive), but a Wis-based ranged attack is useful-- especially for those of you using a ranged weapon + bolts of transit and the like.
In the immortal words of Metallica, "Nothing Else Matters".
Angelic Alacrity-- My personal go-to for every Pursuit Avenger I make, including all 3 that I have played to this point, as well as builds I've done for others. This power has tremendous value for getting you to the right target, safely on Turn 1, and it hits as hard as nearly anything prior to Level 13. Note: This power has further value in preserving your Oath double rolls, as it allows you to move around your OoE target to avoid its allies.
Avenging Echo. In my personal opinion, this power is overrated. The damage it does to an enemy for starting adjacent to you is less than the extra damage you'd have done with Angelic Alacrity (assuming d12 weapon), and you won't really have enough trouble getting your double rolls to justify taking this for insurance purposes.
Raging Tempest. It's cute, but when you add it all up, you'll see that you'll get far more total value out of Angelic Alacrity.
Relentless Attack. 2[W] and allows you to create space between your target and your allies. Good for locking down Brutes and Soldiers, but... you don't really need it, because you have a quantifiable IQ, and you already took Overwhelming Strike.
Whirlwind Charge. To me, this one shakes out to be the Runner-Up to Angelic Alacrity, *unless* you're going with a charge-oriented build. If you have a Vanguard or Thundergod weapon, Horned Helm, or other feat-support, this one beats out Angelic Alacrity for raw damage, which can justify the sacrifice of versatility.
Nothing else to see here. Move along.
Forget alphabetical order. Fury's Advance is the clear winner at this level. Why? Because it's a Minor action attack, with a built-in push 1 (for us), and an easy conditional damage rider for when you just want to put your foot on the gas a little. Fury's Advance is also the clear favorite, in part, because you probably took Angelic Alacrity at L1, and won't need to use your L3 slot for an 'approach power'.
Bound by Fate. Immobilize at L3? Against a Brute, Soldier, or other melee (Skirmisher, anyone?), this is effectively a stun if you hit and then shift back 1 square. It's also 2[W]. If you took this instead of Fury's Advance, I'd make a weird face at you, but I wouldn't slap you silly.
Deadly Stride. Another approach power, likely not necessary by this level. I think the power is overrated from a mechanical standpoint, but lets be honest... phasing is COOL.
Relentless Stride. Conditional Immediate Reaction. Low damage, but it's extra damage, and you can satisfy the condition on demand with the right tools. It is also worth noting that attack effectively provides another possible punishment for enemies who try to disobey your wishes. Note also that this power can be used as an approach power. ALSO note that this power synergizes incredibly well with Holy Blessing (2U). Use is as follows: First OoE target dies. Use Holy Blessing to Oath your next target as a Free action. Before your next turn, you will almost always catch the Relentless Stride trigger, which means that you put an attack into the target, and start adjacent to it (remember, RS triggers when the target ends its turn not-adjacent to you, so it isn't moving after you hit it). This transition tool can be devastating. Relentless Stride is my personal power of choice with my L7 slot, after using my 6U slot to grab Holy Blessing.
Sequestering Strike. Amazing repositioning tool, and 2[W]. There are some creative uses for this, but the vast majority of the time, this will be used to whisk the target off to the side or into flanking. This is the popular alternative to Fury's Advance.
That's all of the options that I really consider relevant at the moment.
Chains of Censure. OOOOKKKKK... immobilize the target or another enemy, 2[W], and a bonus damage rider. DING! DING! DING! We have a winner. I use this one very frequently, and find that the 'hit and shift 1' to approximate a stun is extremely effective.
Inexorable Pursuit. An approach power with a long path range, and 2[W]. A solid choice, but probably not necessary at this level. One thing to note which may impact your perception of this power's overall value: the phasing component is included in an Effect line, preceding the attack. In other words, you can use this out of combat to walk through walls.
Splinter the Formation. Do not be confused by this thing's broad-based reputation. It sucks for Pursuit Avengers.
That's all for L7.
Argent Mantle. This is a fantastic power, and it barely gets any love or attention. Close burst 1 doesn't get your OoE double roll, but it *does* help get rid of annoying minions who may try to cramp your style. The damage is OK, and the rider is sneaky in its utility, though you'd only really want to take the reroll if your initial roll came up around 30% of its potential damage. The 'must use the second' bit means you're stuck with a bum roll on the second pass if you get one.
Aspect of Might. HELLOOOO, NURSE!!! 3[W] is the most you'll get for quite a few levels, and the Effect line is AWESOME. This power is why no one talks about some otherwise decent options at this level. Take it.
Steelsworn Oath. Effect line lets you designate the target as your new OoE target, and the damage is good. All in all, not as great as it sounds... even if it doesn't sound that great to you. This power only gets mentioned here because of its relevance as a trap for the uninitiated.
Strength of Many. If your senses desert you, or you suffer from Unique and Special Butterfly Syndrome, which are the only 2 real reasons why you shouldn't take Aspect of Might, then this is the most acceptable Runner-Up choice at this level. In a vacuum, this power is fairly bland. The more allies and multi-attacks you have, the more its value increases. Against a Solo or Elite, with a 5+ person party, and factoring in Action Points, Fury's Advance, an Immediate action attack, and granted attacks... this power can turn you into a wrecking ball for 2 turns. While that might sound like a lot of conditions, you should be noting how ridiculously common those factors are/should be.
Temple of Light. Doesn't hit quite as hard as you want it to, and the Effect only runs until the target dies. The Effect line + multi-attacks will help you drop this target quickly, though.
Wings of Light. You get to FLY, you don't provoke OAs, and you'll hit hard. That would sound so much more appealing if A) you didn't already have an approach power (you should have one that works on a per-Encounter basis), and B) Aspect of Might didn't exist. Take this one if you were a thespian in high school, and want to personify an angel. Otherwise... you know what to do.
Bond of Foresight. Doesn't hit that hard, but... it guarantees you extra damage if you've isolated a target. The target either attacks you (OA TO THE FACE!!!), tries to get away (OA TO THE FACE!!!-- whether it shifts *or* moves), attacks someone else with a ranged or area attack (OA TO THE FACE!!!), or stands still, not attacking anything ('STUN' TO THE FACE!!!). Because the Effect line gives you OAs, it doesn't conflict with Battle Awareness or Strikebacks. IE, you may very well get to hit the target twice on its first turn after you hit it with this.
Executioner's Cloak. If you're trained in Stealth, this can be ridiculous. To clarify... isolate the target, then hit it with this power. On your subsequent turn, hit it, and then shift 1 to a square in which you remain adjacent to the target. As part of this shift, make a Stealth check. Worst case scenario: you fail, and the target knows where you are. Great. It still attacks your Defenderesque defenses at -5, and grants you CA. Best case scenario: you succeed on the Stealth check, and the target is unable to attack you. At the very least, this usually means a Censure trigger, with the delivery attack including CA.
Living Death Strike. I'm a big fan of front-loading damage, but for most Avengers, this is a trap. Bond of Foresight will give you more actual damage, at no surge cost.
Menacing Presence. If you're playing the lockdown game, your OoE targets for the duration of the encounter will be suffering a -2 AC penalty. Aside from increasing your already substantial accuracy, this power can dissuade the DM from swarming you. Oh, and it hits pretty hard.
Oath of Righteous Fury. This power is a little bit of a sleeper. It should help you navigate the battlefield very well, and if you're a charger, all but ensures that you're set up for a charge on your next turn.
Blade of Repulsion. Virtually guaranteed Oath double rolls, even in a very confined area. Since getting double rolls isn't usually that big of an issue, that aspect alone doesn't make this power blue. For the extra nudge, we'll take an auto-slow, which is great for the Defender-minded Avenger.
Enduring Strike. Depending on your DM, it's either a trap, or fairly useful. I shy away from this because I am strongly of the opinion that, when it comes to Standard actions, an Avenger should be PROative, rather than REactive. IE, you don't want to be holding onto a high damage attack, you want to be using it very early on to remove targets from the grid as quickly as possible.
Holy Ardor. This power is kind of sneaky. The up-front damage isn't that great, but the worst-case scenario by the time you get this should be a single application of the 5 ongoing, and a single-use of +5 damage (should have 20 Wis by the time you get this).
Temple of Shadow. Similar to Executioner's Shroud at L5, except the Effect isn't (save ends), and the penalty the target suffers for attacking you is actually lower (-2, instead of -5). On the bright side, this power's penalty applies to ALL enemies, not just the target. In actual game play, this power is flat-out awesome.
That's all for L9 at this time.
Let me kick off this section by stating plainly that I am a very big proponent of selecting Encounter, rather than Daily, Utility powers. In my opinion, pragmatic > dramatic.
Avenger's Resolve. Encounter. Solid choice for the survival-minded early on. Retrain-bait for later if you take it.
Distracting Flare. Encounter. My personal favorite. Aside from allowing you to move around without eating OAs, this power provides the total concealment you need to make Stealth checks as part of a move. If you're clever, this power can be used to create Censure triggers, slip away from being swarmed, avoid being denied your Oath (in the rare event that it's an issue), and move safely through the enemy front-line to get to Artillery or Controllers in the rear.
Enduring Spirit. Encounter. When your defenses are as high as an Avenger's, an on-demand +4 to all defenses is a Very Big Deal.
Holy Blessing. This power helps a lot with your ability to kill or control your second target in an encounter. If you use it with Censure's Grip, you'll have your 2nd target locked down from the very first time you hit it. An even BETTER use is to pair this with Relentless Stride. How it works: As soon as your first target dies, use Holy Blessing to Oath your 2nd target. When your new Oath target's turn comes around, you are virtually guaranteed to get a Relentless Stride trigger, which will allow you to teleport to it and put a shot into it (with CA for the attack, no less)-- before your next turn arrives. This means that you start your next turn adjacent to the target, and with CA for another round. There is no better time to dump an Action Point turn into the target... and if you're building for it, you can do so 3/3 encs of an LFR workday.
Loyal Sanction. Encounter. If you do not worship Tempus, you should be using Divine Guidance every encounter. This power makes Divine Guidance even better. Note that this power gives the damage bonus until the end of your next turn, which makes it a potent nova-enabler for multi-attackers all the way through Epic tier. Note: This is one of very few Utility powers you get that will directly contribute to your party's damage output.
Refocus Enmity. Encounter. The 'elephant in the room'. There are people who will tell you that Oath of Enmity double rolls are a precious thing, are hard to come by, etc. At this point, I have played two Avengers from L1 on, one for an Epic tier 3-shot, and have another that started at L8. In hundreds of combined encounters, I have never needed to change my OoE target. I once (1 time, literally) found myself saying, "wow... Refocus would be nice right here", but retracted the statement 2 turns later. If you choose your targets correctly, this power will amount to nothing more than a waste of a slot.
(Acrobatics Skill power) Agile Recovery. At-Will. Situationally, very useful. Action preservation is awesome, and this power will let you stand, move, and then make an attack, all in one turn.
(Athletics Skill Power) Scrambling Climb. Encounter. Another one that's situationally very useful. This one's value diminishes when you gain other means of moving up quickly... see L10 Utilities for more.
(Endurance Skill Power) Endure Pain. Daily. This will amount to about 6-7 points of 'Resist All', for 1 turn. In my book, as a Daily, that makes it a trap.
(Endurance Skill Power) Invigorating Presence. Daily. This one is a show-stopper. Despite being a Daily, this one justifies selection.
(Intimidate Skill Power) Ominous Threat. Encounter. Free action Mark on hit = big win for the Defender-minded Pursuit Avenger. Note that it requires being trained in Intimidate, which precludes some of your other strong options. Thankfully, you can pick up the extra training slot with an MC feat. This interacts especially well with Strikebacks, Vengeful Parry, Bond of Foresight, etc.
(Religion Skill Power) Deliverance of Faith. A useful tool for self-preservation, and you qualify for it automatically.
(Thievery Skill Power) Fast Hands. At-Will!. *droool*. AWESOME choice, no question. In my humble opinion, one of the best available Skill Powers in the system.
Aspect of Agility. Encounter. This is a stronger option than most at this level. A long shift and an included defense bonus is a pretty big deal when you're fighting in confined spaces.
Aspect of Majesty. Daily. IT'S A TRAP!. Do not take this. Oath of Enmity requires that you be adjacent to your target to get your double rolls, and your Will is already through the roof. This actually hurts you.
Oath of Enduring Wrath. Daily. Save bonus for the duration of an Enc is good. This gets rated Black, anyway, because you want to use your early Minor actions for Oath, Fury's Advance, and RRoT or Loyal Sanction.
Oath of the Relentless Hunter. Daily. Gold for Fluff, Black for mechanical reasons. If you're a hardcore RP guy, this might be a definitive power for your character. You really can not beat the fluff to this.
Soul Seeker. Daily. Wheeeee... flanking buddy! Problems: it's a Minor action, so you have better things to do. You are also able to get virtually At-Will CA nowadays.
(Athletics Skill Power) Mighty Sprint. Encounter. For most of you, this allows you to move at a speed of 10, ignoring difficult terrain, and with a built-in jump booster. Usain Bolt will envy your speed, and kids will be amazed at Youtube videos of you dunking from the free throw line. Awesome power. For added LOLs, use this after Aspect of Might. I've done it in a side-game, and I promise you, the reactions of your friends will be worth the selection.
(Endurance Skill Power) Third Wind. Daily. If you're going to take a Daily Utility, this is the kind to take. Note that it's a Minor action that wants to be used after you're very likely to have used up your offensively-oriented Minor actions, so there should be no conflict.
(Heal Skill Power) Swift Recovery. Encounter. Since it's a given that action denial is a very big deal, it should also be obvious why this is good. This power saves Team Hero a Standard action. If it weren't for the 'melee touch' range, this might be sky blue. Sadly, 'melee touch' and a class suited to going it solo don't mix well. Nevertheless, it's good in a pinch.
(Insight Skill Power) Prescient Maneuver. Situationally fantastic. Sadly, it conflicts with other, more important Immediates.
(Intimidate Skill Power) Everybody Move. Close blast 3 push with no attack roll needed? Who cares if it can't be used to toss someone off a ledge? Solid power for rearranging the grid.
Channel Endurance. Encounter. Resist 5 all for 2 turns is good enough at 10th to warrant a Minor action once your offensively-oriented Minors are expended. Retrain bait for later levels.
Ever Onward. Daily. Pass. There's a better option at this level for the same basic purpose.
Leading Step. Encounter. Good choice, though it conflicts with other Immediates. Awesome for escaping dogpiles.
River of Life. Daily. Regen 5 isn't huge, but it can be a life saver in some situations. These types of situations make this a justifiable pick at this level, as it is basically a bail-out power.
Wings of Vengeance. Encounter. 2 turns of flight, and it's triggered as a Minor action, which means it works in conjunction with things like Mighty Sprint and Distracting Flare, as needed. This is SERIOUS mobility. This is my favorite at L10. Strong fluff, strong mechanics. Pure win.
(Endurance Skill Power) Reactive Surge. To borrow a phrase from my buddy LDB, this power is "sex in a can". Using this invokes images of Borat saying, "I am NOOOOOOT Bloodied!" So much win here, it kinda hurts. One snag that occasionally comes up: if you get bloodied by an aura or ongoing damage-- ie, something without an attack roll attached-- this won't trigger.
(Intimidate Skill Power) Snap Out of It. Encounter. Potentially huge, but you run the risk of moving adjacent to an ally (melee touch range), only to have the save fail. When it works, you'll be a hero.
(Perception Skill Power) Spot Weakness. Nice damage boost. Especially valuable with Fury's Advance, Immediates, and Action Point turns.
(Religion Skill Power) Conviction. Sweet fluff, very big save bonus. If you're in position to need a save, odds are good that the opportunity cost of the Minor action isn't an issue.
This is your basic shopping list for Heroic Tier:
Melee Training (Wisdom) or Power of Skill Versatile Expertise (Holy Symbol, +weapon type of choice)* Weapon Proficiency (superior weapon) Weapon Focus
*as an alternative to Versatile Expertise, those of you who make zero use of Implement attacks now have the option of grabbing one of these feats to cover your scaling accuracy feats... Note that each of them include the normal +X feat bonus to hit, but also include a side perk. In this listing, I will only reference the side perk.
Axe Expertise. If you're using an Axe, it's an Execution Axe, and it's already Brutal 2. This one is a trap.
Bludgeon Mastery. Wow, huh? An extra +1 to push or slide distance for our Mordenkrad wielding homies.
Heavy Blade Expertise. The little bonus to avoiding OAs is cute, but... it encourages silly actions, and is actually redundant with many of the powers at your disposal.
Spear Expertise. If you're a spear-wielding charger, this is a dream come true. More statics? For free? Yes, please.
...and... Master at Arms. Think 'Weapon Expertise', with a built in, Minor action weapon swap feature. How often are you swapping weapons, though?
Those are the only 4 I'll list, because they cover all of the weapons that you'd really want to be using.
Once you've got those taken care of, these are great options to pick up:
Righteous Rage of Tempus
Power of Strength
Improved Armor of Faith
*note that Power Attack is available at Heroic tier, but requires stat allocations that you do not want/need at this point. It is best selected at Paragon or Epic tier, as you are able to start with 16 Dex and 18 Wis and 'grow into it' by 11th or 21st without bumping Str.
...and, naturally, any MC feat you may require. The better ones for Pursuit Avengers are:
Battle Awareness. An extra attack once per encounter, great choices for skill training. If you're hardcore, picking up this and using it to train Endurance will allow you to take the Reactive Surge Skill power at L10. This feat also opens up access to all of the Fighter feats, including Slashing Storm at Epic tier. This is THE MC feat to take if you aren't planning on using a Paragon Path that requires any other MC feat.
Initiate of the Faith. 1/day Healing Word is nice. The skill training is clearly wasted, but this also opens up Radiant Servant, as well as the possibility of taking Acolyte Power to grab Bastion of Health, which is a fantastic tool for extending encounters, and gives you insurance in case your Leader gets pressed. This feat also opens up Radiant Advantage at Epic tier. This is awesome, since Multiclassing into Cleric usually means you're building around Bond of Retribution.
Divine Secretkeeper. Gain training in Arcana or History, pick up Ritual Caster, and open up Blightspeaker or Arbiter of Forgotten Justice.
Note: The Heroic tier feat list ends here because I feel that the class is currently in the beautiful position of having more good feats to choose from than slots available at this point. I will list more Heroic tier feats in the Paragon feat section, as that is now the best time to grab some of the other strong feats available at Heroic tier.
Perception. Take this every time. No exceptions.
...and I highly recommend using Background: Occupation (Criminal) to gain Thievery as a Class Skill.
Note: The Perception, Stealth, and Thievery Skill set combines with your huge defenses to make you arguably the best possible point-person in the game.
There are other skills, of course... take them based on personal preference. I simply list these because they often have big impacts on combat encounters.
Section 2b: Paragon Tier
I. Paragon Paths
11F = L11 feature.
AP= Action Point feature.
16F= L16 feature.
11E= L11 Encounter power.
12U= L12 Utility Power.
20D= L20 Daily power.
Overall Rating: Blue.
11F: This feature is OK. It virtually ensures a hit, and interacts in a sweeeeet way with Backlash Tattoo.
AP: You're a Striker. You want to AP early. Monsters want to hammer you early. This AP feature is awesome for you.
16F: This + Symbol of Victory basically ensure that you get an AP turn in every encounter of a 5 Enc workday. It also means you get to take advantage of the solid AP feature very frequently. If you have a Warlord in your group, it also means lots of giggles. Make no mistake... this feature is a fantastic +damage, +survivability feature for you.
11E. This PP doesn't give you an 11E. That's not a bad thing, considering the power level of most 11Es. Instead, it lets you choose a lower level Enc power, which means you're very likely to have 2 uses of Fury's Advance (most likely), or Relentless Stride. Much like the 16F, this is a sneaky way in which this PP gives you extra damage.
12U. Welcome to freedom and fun. This feature gives you a very good chance of not only surviving the brutal T1 & T2 onslaught, but coming out of it active, and healthy... every encounter. At a cost of 'No Action', it's basically amazing.
20D. This power would appear to want you to have a good Standard action Enc power, but remember... this is 1/day. You get your Enc powers 1/enc. Choose your Enc powers based on rate of usage, rather than fueling this. Besides, if you don't have a Standard action Enc power that's bigger as a stand-alone attack than an MBA, you can just use your Backlash Tattoo, instead. Still... at the time when you first get this, it's easy to have that decent-sized Enc. Avenger's Demand is a fantastic choice, because it allows you to retaliate if the enemy who triggers this is 5 squares away, it hits hard, and the whole thing resolves with you standing over the prone form of the triggering target.
This is unquestionably one of my favorite PPs, and one of the best PPs to use if your DM is a 'killer DM' who likes to drop everyone on Turn 1.
Overall Rating: Blue, and Deep Sky Blue at Epic.
11F. Expands your crit% to about 1 in 8, rather than 1 in 10, and synergizes with 19-20 range expansion elements.
AP. Saves are OK, and often most needed in the opening turns of an Enc, which is also around when Strikers usually want to use their Action Points.
16F. MBA on crit = win.
12U. For a lonewolf type, this is AMAZING. +11.5 average damage per hit when you get it.
20D. Hits hard, and lets you recover an Enc.
Overall Rating: Sky Blue.
Let me preface this one by saying that Morninglord may very well be the most powerful available PP for an Avenger. It is absolutely amazing. In fact, it's such a 'gimme' that I can't actually bring myself to use it in a live game. If you want to kick some serious (posterior), and pwn some face, this is one of the best choices you can make.
On the flip side, it's a 'late bloomer'. IE, it isn't anything special at all, until you hit L16. At that point, the DM should just slap on a wig and a dress, because he's your new girlfriend.
Last comment... if recent trends are any indication, this PP has already set up a date with the nerf bat.
Note: If you're going to grab this PP, start out with 12 Cha at level 1. That's all you need.
11F. Worthless until L16. At that point, it's 11 auto-damage if you started with 12 Cha.
AP. 27.75% crit chance, for one attack. Meh.
16F. SHAZAAAAMMM!!! The best +damage feature you can get from any PP right now. +10 right out of the gate.
11E. GREAT power to throw out on T1 as a multi- minion check. Note that it deals up front damage, then has a secondary kicker. IE, it can double-dip on existing vuln: Radiant.
12U. Daily. Minor action multi-heal. Very nice throw-in power.
20D. Meh. All it really has going for it is that it multi-dips into vuln Radiant.
Req: multiclass Cleric. This gives you 1/day Healing Word, and lets you use a feat slot on Acolyte Power, to pick up Bastion of Health for a 1/enc, Minor action heal. VERY handy.
Overall Rating: Blue
This is my personal favorite PP. I have a LOT of experience with this one, and find it to be absolutely incredible at a live table.
My favorite flavor... Avenger/Radiant Servant of Tempus, with Power of Strength and Righteous Rage of Tempus, and using a Vicious Weapon*.
*Bloodiron is better in terms of raw DPR, but Vicious is available early in each item tier, and is less likely to make your DM want to punch you.
One of my favorite things about this PP is that it 'blooms' at level 11, when you get the 11F, AP, and 11E, which are the 3 best things about it.
11F. Crits on 19-20 mean that you crit roughly 1/5 of the time with OoE. One more reason to grab all of the Immediates you can grab.
AP. This AP feature is wiiiicked. Use it and laugh.
11E. even post-nerf, I love it. I use it as a multi- minion check. In some situations, I use this before I Oath, so that I can be sure to tag the right target on T2.
12U. Good out of combat healing. On rare occasions, you might even find in-combat uses for this. Should be Sustain: Minor, imo.
20D. Looks terrible at first glance. Single target, no double roll. Implement. Bleh. On the bright side, it's got an auto-damage secondary. This is the perfect multi- minion check power.
Overall Rating: Sky Blue
11F. Resist to psychic is something extremely situational, so you won't get to use this frequently.
AP. This AP feature is pure win. Instead of being hosed by starting a turn dazed, you just AP, and go about your business.
16F. Note the language of this, and the language of Danger Sense (feat). Danger Sense redefines your initiative check to be a double roll. This feature allows you to make two checks. Four rolls = sweeeet-- especially with a +2 racial Init mod, and being Dex-based. If your DM reads that differently (he shouldn't, but may), then it's still a free Danger Sense, which is never bad.
11E. Doesn't look so good, does it? Look at it again, like this...
Sample turn, AP used:
--AP-- (Rrathmal AP features applied here)
(standard) Trace Chance
(free) Symbol of Victory item Daily, recovering an AP.
That turn is a get-out-of-jail-free, and you hit like a truck in the process.
12U. At a glance, this looks good. Then you look closer, and see that it's an Immediate, and it doesn't look so good. Then you consider the ramifications, and... it looks REALLY SEXY again. This is the kind of power whose presence is enough of a threat to mean you won't often have to use it. Note also that the power allows you to shift your speed. This means that you can actually use this power to give yourself an even more advantageous position, and are able to avoid the target shifting to a postion where Team Monster may deny you your Oath.
a) your target can not shift + charge away from you.
b) the decision to shift away from you guarantees that the target either eats an OA to move away, gives up its standard action to shift 1 again, or is stuck next to you at the start of your next turn, meaning it's about to eat your Censure bonus.
c) the monster's absolute best-case scenario, assuming you have a full host of Immediates (strikebacks, backlash tattoo, vengeful parry, etc) is to shift 1 away from you, wait for you to follow, and then attack you-- with the intention of avoiding your Strikebacks or similar. You obviously don't mind, because he's still buffing your at-will DPR by giving you your Censure bonus every turn in which he does this. You can also simply use Overwhelming Strike to move the target right back to where he was before.
20D. Sneaky power. It's not great at a glance, but if you can set up Team Hero to hit on a '10', this power gives Team Hero a bunch of auto-hits. And... you get to sustain it as a Minor action. Who doesn't love auto-hitting?
Overall Rating: Black
11F. Not going to get much use out of this.
AP. Very nice. An average of +11 damage per use.
16F. See 11F.
11E. OK... forget the business about attacking a second target. This is actually pretty darn good as a single-target attack.
12U. Not too shabby. Extra damage stance = win.
20D. Ehhhh... it's OK. You don't want to wait to use your big hits, so I don't especially care for this.
Req: Moradin's Resolve feat-power. This, in turn, requires worshipping Moradin.
Overall Rating: Black
11F. Note that this feature doesn't actually do anything for you exept fuel the 16F until Epic tier, since Paragon tier Radiant fun is tied to other Paragon Paths.
AP. Sneaky. Allows another use of Channel Divinity, as opposed to allowing re-use of a Channel Divinity power. Basically, 1 use of Moradin's Resolve, and 1 use of Divine Guidance.
16F. Basically amounts to 2 turns of +1d10 damage, with a chance for stun.
11E. Multi-target attack that doesn't make you give up your OoE roll against your Oath target. Very nice!
12U. Situationally useful. It's an Immediate, which conflicts with things you're more interested in using.
20D. Interesting power. Low front-end damage, but a substantial boost to statics after that point.
Overall Rating: Blue
11F. FREE Power Attack. This is basically a +2 to hit, or +6 damage feature, depending on your perspective. If you use this PP, start with 14 Str, 16 Dex, and 18 Wis at L1, and take Power Attack as your L11 feat, and Painful Oath at L12.
AP. AWESOME. As a Striker, you want to AP by T2 whenever possible. Since the first 2 turns are when you're most likely to be pelted by status effects (since that's when monsters are blowing their Enc powers and recharges), this feature is PERFECT for you.
16F. Solid throw-in, but unremarkable as a stand-alone. You'll love it when it's a factor.
11E. Your hit-rate with this won't be giant, but it is a great multiple target attack, and allows a TON of movement-- including moving allies on Effect line. Very underrated, tactics-friendly power.
12U. Situationally useful. It's an Immediate, though.
20D. Minion check that rips vulns and immunities (save ends). Good in fights in confined spaces. Note that you don't actually worry about vulns and immunities much, since Painful Oath makes your attacks Radiant & Necrotic, and the only guys I know of who resist both of those are Devas.
Overall Rating: Black.
Prerequisite: Mark of Shadow, and trained in Stealth. You're going to be trained in Stealth, so that's not a tax. The issue here is that you not only need Mark of Shadow, you need it during Heroic tier-- during which you're going to be starved for feat slots. Taking Mark of Shadow means you're missing out on something awesome. This would be easier to swallow if Mark of Shadow didn't suck so bad for you.
***Potential Snags: You can't use this in LFR games, some DMs won't allow it in home games, and many Eberron DMs will only let you take this Dragonmark if you're an Elf.
11F. Thuranni Silence is either a worthless throw-away, or a very nice perk, since using Stealth with allies within 10 squares means that you're running off the lowest stealth roll made by any party member in that range. If your party's least stealthy guy has an absolutely horrible stealth skill, you won't get any value here. If your party is all Dex secondary types, it will rock out, and you'll enjoy the feature.
AP. This AP feature is very sexy. From an offensive standpoint, it lets you move around safely, and gives you on-demand Combat Advantage. From a defensive standpoint, Team Monster will be at -5 to hit you until the end of your next turn. protip: AP on T1 if your target doesn't die when you hit it the first time.
16F. This is perceived to be the hot ticket with this PP, and it is unquestionably a solid feature. There are some things to consider, of course...
1) It's necrotic, so many monsters will resist it.
2) It's only ongoing 5.
3) Nothing you have CA against is going to last long enough for you to get much benefit out of this feature.
At the end of any given encounter, I would be *shocked* if this yielded 20 or more applied damage. If I'm wrong, you're killing things toooo slooooowwwllllyyyyyy.
11E. HELLOOOOOO, NURSE!!! 'Descending Shadows' is a dream come true! It's basically a double attack, it gives you CA, and it absolutely cripples the target by Blinding it. Since you're an Avenger, and probably an Elf (hi, Elven Accuracy!), you're going to get a LOT of BANG!!! from this power. The punchline: It's Wis vs NADs!!!
12U. Shadowstep is one of those powers that tactical players are going to absolutely freak out over. Many folks will see that it's a Standard action, and they will probably cringe a little. Before I go into applications for this, I want to point out something very important: per Stealth rules, this power actually lets you hide as part of the teleport that puts you in the origin square. By itself, that is ridiculous. Now... here are some fun, and some downright rude, ways to take advantage of this power:
Shadowstep Sample Applications Show
20D. It's a trap. Very cute trick, but it will throw your kill speed in the toilet.
Conclusion: The AP feature, 11E, and 12U are amazing. The 16F can be good. But... all of this comes at a steep price.
Overall Rating: Black, or Blue if you have RRoT.
11F. Nice for chargers, or for any Avenger to safely get to a target via charge.
AP. Second use of Divine Guidance or RRoT in an Encounter.
16F. Can be useful, if you use Radiant Visage during T1 or so.
11E. Close blast 5 targeting enemies only. very useful for popping minions, or making sure the guy you want to Oath isn't actually a minion in disguise.
12U. Very nice mobility power.
20D. Nice kick-off for a close quarters fight, or one that involves any flying enemies.
Requires: MC Cleric
Overall Rating: Blue, or Black (depending on your goal).
11F. Warpriest's Training does nothing for you. Your other 11F, Warpriest's Strategy, has a 9.75% chance per attack against your OoE target to be relevant. OK feature, but unspectacular.
AP. Extra Damage Action only applies to your Standard action attacks, but that's still +(.5xL) damage per hit for two hits, which isn't too shabby.
16F. Heeeeere's the big winner among this PP's features. This is absolute murder against any enemy who wants to move away from you, or attack anyone else. It forces the target to stay adjacent to you, and to point its attacks at your high defenses. This is the type of feature you get, and rarely apply. Instead, having this ensures that you'll often have full control of your OoE target's position and targeting.
11E. This power is awesome. You will want to note that it doesn't work with OoE (even if your OoE target is the only one adjacent to you-- OoE requires Melee attacks, and this is a Close burst 1). You'll also want to note that the important part is all on the Effect line. Also note-- you don't have to be bloodied-- only your allies are required to be bloodied in order to benefit from this power's Effect. Simply put, this power is an awesome 'swing' power. You can turn the tide of an Enc very quickly with it.
12U. It's only a Daily power, but you will get to use it, and the two options are varied enough that you will have something productive to do with it when it goes off.
20D. Weird power. Close burst 5 vs enemies only = great. It's not reliable, though, and it doesn't do anything on a miss. On the bright side, you stand a very good chance of hitting *some* target with it, and it's a great power to throw out at the beginning of an Enc with a packed grid (before you apply your OoE to a target). You'll pop some minions, stick some ongoing damage on non-minions, and quickly identify a viable OoE target-- especially if you hold off on naming your OoE target until turn 2, giving yourself a chance to see what each enemy does.
Commentary: This PP isn't a huge +damage PP. It's an incredible +Defender PP, and the 11E means you'll also gain instant value when you select this PP. While it won't make your damage go through the roof, this PP will absolutely help Team Hero win.
If you take this PP, I strongly recommend taking Power of Skill so that you can use Overwhelming Strike with the OAs the 16F grants (it will negate a triggering melee attack if the enemy doesn't have reach 2+). I also recommend getting as much +damage as possible from Feats and items.
Overall Rating: Black for most. Blue for dedicated chargers.
11F. If you have Deadly Draw or Vicious Advantage + Power of Earth, this is nice.
AP. OK feature. Concealment is a nice pick up when you spend the AP.
16F. CA on Charge = Win. Add Censure's Grip, and you lock the target down instantly on charge.
11E. Hits pretty hard--and you'll have a remarkably easy time getting CA for this.
12U. Not incredible, but nice when you use it. Especially solid vs Solos.
20D. Nice actual damage.
Avenger's Demand. When paired with Deadly Draw, this power creates instant Combat Advantage before the attack roll. This power allows you to pull a target on demand, and then improve your position even further with a hit. It's absolute gold, and a keeper until level 23.
Cloud of Souls. This power is weird. Note that the zone requires that an enemy move into it, as opposed to starting in it. IE, it won't actually daze the original target.
Crimson Stride. Sequestering Strike, except you get a free move adjacent. What's not to love? If you don't take Avenger's Demand, this is a fantastic alternative.
Dervish Strike. The rider isn't actually that great for you, because it pushes the target toward allies it can hide behind. Despite being 3[W], it's hard to justify. One potentially beneficial note-- since you don't get to follow the target as a free action, it may be silly enough to wander away when it's out of OA range. Not likely, though. In practice, the target probably charges you or makes a ranged attack on its next turn.
Weaving Blades. Might look appealing, but it's an illusion. If being pressed is an issue, Avenger's Demand is a better fix.
Whirling Blades. The condition is so easy to meet, you really have to look at this as a Wis+2, 3[W]+(Wis mod)+5 attack.
Lethal Intercession. Meh. It's *great* if you get to use it as an OA. Not so great if you have to use a Standard action to deliver it.
Ready the Final Blow. With the arrival of Deadly Draw and Vicious Advantage, this power loses some luster. Don't take it unless you're a Str secondary build, and you want to protect poached attacks.
Soulforge Hammering. Note that this attack can be repeated in the first turn, which means that it basically gives you consecutive turns with at least 2 attacks, as long as you have Minor actions to spare in each. This power is one of the two heavy-hitters at this level. Take it, or the other sky blue option.
Spectral Charge. Within 3 levels, it'll be a normal charge, with insubstantial. Meeehhhhhh. Cute trick for a very brief window of time.
Vengeful Parry. The trigger is so easy to cause that you're basically guaranteed to get to use this before your third turn. It can help set up Deadly Draw, benefits from Painful Oath, can be used to dramatically improve your position... oh... it can actually negate the triggering attack. My favorite!
Aspect of Fury. Decent damage, and the rider is virtually guaranteed extra damage for a Pursuit Avenger. One quirk to consider: given that your defenses are generally higher than those of most (or all) of your allies' defenses, discouraging enemies from attacking you may not always be beneficial.
Zealous Onslaught. Not special at all, except for the Aftereffect, which guarantees you an extra attack if the target is alive to save against the effect.
Sadly, since the Temple of Brilliance nerf, those are the only 15Ds I find worth mention at the moment.
Blade of Astral Hosts. This power isn't great at a glance, but it's fantastic in application. You get to drop a couple minions, or put starting shots into non-minions, without giving up an attack against your OoE target.
Bonded by Blood. It sounds very Pursuit-y, but any target who is likely to survive long enough for you to make use of the rider isn't likely to run.
Flame Unquenchable. OK damage power.
Oath of the Inevitable Blade. Use it with Fury's Advance, or your second turn of Soulforge Hammering. Profit.
Stroke of Doom. You won't get your OoE double roll on the Primary attack, but you'll get adjacent to your target either way, and you'll get OoE on the Secondary attack. Decent damage.
Vengeful Recovery. Damage, Daze, and heal yourself, surge-free. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it is... IF you use it during an Encounter in which you eat a big shot during T1 or T2. As a Striker, you generally want to use your Daily powers early to help you remove targets from the grid expediently.
Astral Cloak. Encounter. Only lasts until the end of your turn, but allows you safe movement, total concealment (Stealth check), and on-demand Combat Advantage. While CA is very easy to come by these days, Deadly Draw and Vicious Advantage + Power of Earth don't grant you Combat Advantage until after you hit with them. This power gets it for you right off the bat, which helps set up Censure's Grip immediately.
Refire the Forge. Daily. While the healing is for a small value, it can serve as damage reduction of a sort. Also relevant: This power piggybacks an extra Immediate. Consult with your DM to determine whether he'll let you negate the triggering attack. The fact that it's an interrupt would seem to indicate this, but some DMs may not find this agreeable.
Winds of the Astral Sea. Encounter. OK teleport distance. Astral Cloak + a normal move action will get you a longer range of safe movement, plus significantly more numerous tactical applications.
(Insight Skill Power) Insightful Riposte. Encounter. For you, this generally changes the rare miss into a hit.
Painful Oath. Take this at L11, unless you're a Half-Elf taking Versatile Master, or are a Storvakal grabbing Power Attack at L11. Note: Painfun Oath confers both the Radiant & Necrotic keywords, once per turn. Again, that is once per turn, rather than once per round, which means that it applies to granted attacks, as well as Immediates and Opportunity Attacks.
Improved Defenses This is technically a Heroic tier feat, but we're slot-starved enough that many of us will be passing on this until Paragon, at which point it becomes a +2 feat bonus to all of your NADs, and truly becomes gold.
Danger Sense. Going early = awesome. With your Dex & DS, you'll go early a LOT.
Justice Hammer. Good grab if you crit about 1/5 of the time. 'Meh' otherwise. Pair with Prone-on-Crit for lovely control on a crit-based build.
Lasting Frost. Yep. It's only 'OK' for you. You don't need Frostcheese for CA, and Frost weapons conflict with Radiant fun. An OK alternative, of course. Note: Using a Frost weapon makes all of the damage dealt become cold damage, which means you lose the Radiant & Necrotic keywords from Painful Oath by using it.
Overwhelming Critical. Best when paired with Daze-on-crit. Redundant with Assault Boots.
Paragon Defenses. Defenses are a huge part of what you do... BUT... with the arrival of Improved Defenses, this is now obsolete.
Pervasive Light. Worthless... UNLESS you're a Radiant + crit build.
Reserve Maneuver. Depending on your PP, this is either worthless, or awesome.
Aggressive Advantage. Nice for fans of Censure's Grip.
Alertness. Nice little boost to Perc, and preventing surprise rounds against you = good times.
Disciple of Freedom. If you have an oppositional DM, and you find yourself going to war trying to preserve your OoE double rolls, this one is a gimme for you. It's basically Font of Life vs anything that may keep you from going where you want to go.
Eager Advance. That +4 bonus to speed only applies once per enc, but it means you get one HUUUUGE move right out of the gate. If you use this with Distracting Flare, or Mighty Sprint, you may very well be on top of Artillery on your very first turn.
Headsman's Chop. If you have a 20% crit rate, and a Rending Exe Axe, it averages out to less than +1 DPR. Only good for builds that generate multiple attacks on crit.
Invigorating Pursuit. Good grab for dedicated chargers. Wording implies that you get the +2 damage for the associated charge attack, since the condition is 'hit', rather than 'deal damage'.
Light of Order. The real cost of getting value out of this feat is 1 Feat slot and 1 Utility power. It's worth it for a Free action, +damage power ('Punitive Radiance').
Power Attack. If you're a Dex/Wis or Str/Wis race, you can start with 14 Str and auto-qualify for this by Paragon. If you grabbed Deadly Draw or Power of Earth + Vicious Advantage, this is all win.
Resilient Focus. Congratulations, you're an Elite monster. [b]Ritual Caster. Great in some campaigns, but most groups have someone who covers this.
Superior Fortitude. Ongoing damage sucks, and Fort is generally your lowest defense. Not a bad pick up.
Superior Reflexes. CA against all enemies for T1, AND your Reflex gets SILLY at this point. Very nice!
Superior Will. DMs everywhere cried the day Heroes of Fallen Lands came out. This feat is the reason why.
Wintertouched. See 'Lasting Frost' above.
Section 2c: Epic Tier
I. Epic Destinies
Overall Rating: Blue to Sky Blue
For features, refer to Demigod.
Anthem of Progress. Absolutely amazing, except that you have to worship Erathis.
Battle Judgement. Use it on a crit.
Celestial Balance. Trigger: a creature. IE, you can spend an AP to trigger it. Nice, on-demand help with healing and defense.
Death is Nigh. Great Effect, no question. The issue is whether or not you'll get to use it much at this point.
Divine Regeneration. See: Demigod. Clearly a winning choice.
Forge of Creation. Solid or awesome, depending on your build.
Freedom is Life. Auto-save for everyone!!! You're The Man!!!
High Arcana. +4 to all NADs... for everyone. The kicker? Corellon is a great deity choice, anyway.
Horn of Life. Strong effect, but you can't direct it much. Oodles of surge-free HP, though.
Horns of the Moon. Increased offensive punch for the rest of the Encounter, with some flexibility built in. Very slick, easy to use, and strong value.
Renewing Dawn. 1/day Minor action auto-damage, provided someone spends a surge. Meh.
Sheltering Wings. This is Sky Blue even if you only use it on yourself.
Sune's Censure. By the time you get this, you probably have Punishing Radiance, so this really amounts to a Minor action vuln 10-15: Radiant until the targets die.
Supreme Knowledge. Pass.
Tempus' Glare. A decent throw-in for someone who already wants to worship Tempus.
Test of Strength. When you read the description, remember how awesome your basic attacks are. Then laugh.
True Death. Situationally awesome. Generally... useless.
Unerring Foreknowledge. WOW. Yes, please.
Waxing Fortune. Do. Not. Take.
Wild Surge. This would be Red if it weren't for multi-target Daily powers. As it is, it's about 99% dookie.
Overall Rating: Sky Blue 21F: Stat bumps for 2 stats = pure win. For you, this amounts to +1 AC, +1 Reflex, +1 Will, +1 to hit, +2 damage (+1 from stat, and another +1 via Painful Oath), as well as +1 Initiative, and +1 with all relevant stats. That's a ton of value.
24F: 'Rise again', player style. At this point, you're virtually unkillable.
26U: Who doesn't want Regen: 28?
30F: You can't recycle Enc powers all day long anymore, but between this and Divine Mastery, you'll be getting about 3 uses of Fury's Advance per Encounter, or 4 if you're an Adroit Explorer.
Overall Rating: Blue.
21F: This perk doesn't give you much in the way of extra melee powers. It can be useful for poaching some nifty, encounter-long effects, though.
24: WOOOHOOOO!!! Your crit rate + Symbol of Victory = this is 2 turns of big damage.
26: This is awesome, simply because there are so many amazing 22U powers out there to steal. Among others: Rune of Hero's Resolve, Note of Aggression, etc.
30: Another feature that's Big Win because of things you're naturally going to qualify for. If you qualify for Sage of Ages (ie, you've taken an Arcane MC), this is Keeper's Prescience.
Bond of Justice. 4[W], Radiant keyword, helps keep you right on top of your OoE target, and the rider is auto-damage. Not a bad choice.
Sacred Arena. This power lets you reposition your immediate surroundings without making an attack roll, and hits relatively hard.
Threatening Strike. Hit the target, shift it 2 squares (one adjacent to you, then 1 away, leaving the target in dead space) to satisfy Deadly Draw, and force a melee target to move if it wants to be able to hit something. Then, teleport & attack as an Opportunity Action. IE, if the target moves, you get to interrupt what it is doing, and put a shot into it. This power is AWESOME. By the way, it attacks Fortitude.
Vengeful Apparition. Big push, prone, and solid damage. Decent.
Victory Hymn. Decent hit, +stat to your next attack (Fury's Advance), and conditional heal + save. Meh.
Astral Charge. Only 1[W], but stun on a charge. Great starting shot to put into a new target.
Death Stroke. Easy conditional boost. High damage, single-hit power. Nice.
Inevitable End. Considering your Dex mod by L27, you will NOT miss with this power. Decent hit, conditional recycle.
Scatter to the Astral Winds. Want to re-map the battlefield? This lets you do it.
Spark of Hatred. OK, folks. This is the BIG LEAGUES. What we have here is a Minor action Dominate. All you need to make this a no-brainer are a current Implement, and 1 square of space (Ranged 5, so it does provoke). Seriously... this is disgusting. This is better than stun. You not only prevent one enemy from attacking Team Hero for a turn, you also get to use it to put a hit into your OoE target.
Spark of Hatred notes Show
Amber Prisons. That special someone will be stuck next to you for at least 1 turn, and you have a chance to move some other nearby enemies into dead space and immobilize them. This has huge potential for melee denial.
Aspect of Death. Big hit, solid ongoing damage. Use it on your first target, and you will be moving on to your second target very quickly. As if this wasn't enough, AoD attacks Fort.
Drawn by Fate. When you sift through all of the busy verbiage, you see that this is an approach power with a decent hit attached. Not spectacular, as its rider burns Minor actions.
Executioner's Justice. Looks GREAT at a glance. Those 'failed save' lines look awesome. Don't be fooled, however. Most of your enemies should die before you really get much out of this.
Mantle of the Astral Champion. Hit for OK damage, and fly until end of the encounter. Great vs flyers.
Wings of Pursuit. Similar application to Mantle of the Astral Champion, except you also get CA, and can only fly to squares adjacent to your ally.
Aspect of Terror. Disourages enemies from attacking you, which means they will attack your softer allies. Strong if you can set up scenarios where your OoE target is stuck next to you, and force him/her to choose between an OA or stun.
Brand the Soul. Nice hit, re-designate your OoE target.
Cataclysmic Duel. By the time you get this, your defenses are nuts, and your accuracy is obviously fantastic. Note also that this thing provides a further penalty to hinder your OoE target's ability to hit you. This is a big hit power. Once you hit a target with this, that target is on its way to the grave, IN A HURRY. Follow this up with an Action Point or Fury's Advance to throw a Daze on an enemy in the same turn.
Divide and Condemn. This power needs its own Sblock to demonstrate what it looks like in play.
Divide & Condemn notes Show
Fiery Vengeance. I occasionally plug this into builds, as it has a nice interaction with Censure's Grip builds. Having said that, it favors crowded encounters, and the healing surge component is a bit of a trap. This power doesn't know if it wants to be front-loaded, or used later in an Enc. My suggestion would be to use it very early if you take it.
Final Oath. This hits like a truck-- especially with RRoT + Vicious Fullblade or Exe Axe. It also virtually guarantees that you hit the victim with every attack until it dies.
Impaling Summons. Another 'approach power' with a range of 10, and it satisfies Deadly Draw on the Effect line. Nice hit attached. Good pick up.
March of Doom. This power's efficacy and value vary based on your party composition. If you have a melee heavy party, this power will all but guarantee that the target dies before your next turn. Note: If you use the Effect line to slide the target to a square adjacent to you, you can have instant CA from Deadly Draw.
Merciless Nemesis. Parlor trick. Don't bother.
Temple of Resolution. Attacks Reflex, solid damage, and makes life Hell for Skirmishers or others who don't want to stand still and fight you.
Ghostly Vengeance. Daily. Meh. You can already move around safely.
Indomitable Resolve. Daily. Negate a hit entirely? Situational, but awesome when you need it.
Raven Wings. Daily. Better than Indomitable Resolve, because it's No Action, AND lets you reposition.
Refuge of Piety. Encounter. You don't have to shift when you make the saves, but you can. This is pretty awesome.
Shield of Providence. Encounter. Lets you take only 1/2 damage for a turn, including the triggering attack, and gives you an average of +11 damage on your next attack. Situational, and burns an Immediate. I'm on the fence with this one.
Twin Step. Enounter. Aside from the fact that it lets you safely travel a big distance, this power also sets up a bunch of your other effects and riders that want your target to move or end its turn away from you. One fun trick-- Oath a target, teleport to it with this power, hit it with an attack, and use the free action component of this to teleport to the other side of your Defender. There's no way your OoE target wants to run past the Defender to get to you, so he's going to eat a rider, Relentless Stride, etc. Lots of potential for laughs with this.
Hand of Divine Guidance. 19-20 crit range is good for anyone. For Avengers, it's GREAT.
****Robust Defenses**** used to be listed here, before it was clubbed over the head and replaced by Improved Defenses, which you can grab as early as Heroic tier. At the very latest, you should have Improved Defenses by L16, so you shouldn't have to think about it here anymore.
Yep. So far, that's about it for Must Haves. You have a lot of flexibility here.
Divine Mastery. 19-20 crit + OoE + Symbol of Victory = you get to use this a LOT.
Epic Fortitude. Very nice boost to your softest NAD. When I only take one, this is usually it.
Epic Reflex. Solid pick. Boosts an already-high NAD.
Epic Resurgence. Looks great, right? Not so fast. Only triggers on your first crit. By the time you get this, you have a pretty good chance of triggering it before you're able to gain real value out of it.
Epic Will. While your Will is already very high, attacks against Will usually SUCK at Epic tier, so this has extra value. Great way to avoid a lot of Dominates, Stuns, Dazes, etc.
Enmity Shared. This is the fastest possible route to locking in Censure's Grip consistently, and it provides you with 2 turns worth of CA. Great for damage, fantastic for your Defender secondary, etc. All in all, a great choice. Even better for Solo fights, as it will give your entire party CA for the critical first 2 turns.
Font of Radiance. Pure win. Even more win if you're Avenger/Blightspeaker.
Halo of Tethering. Good pick-up for anyone who doesn't have Censure's Grip. Great for killing any enemy who wants to work at range.
Halo of Warding. OK choice. Better for anyone whose DM likes to swarm Avengers.
Long Step. Doesn't really bring much to the table, unless you're a charger.
Mighty Enmity. Meeehhhh. Helps a little with action economy, and has a fun interaction with Relentless Stride.
Punishing Radiance. Good all by itself. Better for Ardent Champions. Marries Font of Radiance very well.
Superior Initiative. For someone who is already Dex-secondary, this is a mountain of icing on top of a delicious cake. This is a spectacular choice.
Triumphant Attack. This is situationally strong. Most of the time, your kill rate diminishes its value.
Vengeful Declaration. This basically allows you to use Fury's Advance, RRoT, and other Minor action stuff earlier. Saving a Minor action 1/turn (Mighty Enmity) is ok. Saving a Minor action every time you use OoE = win.