Paladin Striker (4e Optimized Character Build)
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The build is designed to allow Paladin's to damage roughly on par to Barbarians when they aren't charging. While not a particularly powerful build, you can also heal and the divine theme and powerful dailies and encounters are fun to use. It's a good replacement for the avenger and fits in better with a "crusader" build type paladin, who's more of a damage-dealer than a defender. They make good 5th wheels as an extra character to play, and make fine defenders and decent strikers. This build does more damage when creatures aren't targeting you, or when you fail to be a defender, (due to divine challenge doing 3 + Charisma or Strength modifier with the right feat), so you make a good psuedo-striker if you can't get your enemies to attack you. The build is more for fun than serious high end damage optimization. Your encounters and dailies are roughly on par with other strikers, and so the build mostly focuses on boosting your at-will powers, chiefly holy strike with the domain of strength feat.
Player's Handbook 1, Divine Power, Adventurer's Vault
Game Rule Components
The general basis of the build revolves around two key things, the Holy Strike at-will power, and the Domain feat "Power of Strength". This boost your damage to low-end striker levels, roughly on par with the Barbarian. So, your main at-will should do 20 damage with a mordenkrad or gouge, or 18.5 with a craghammer, at level 1. This allows you to deal roughly the same amount of damage as a Barbarian or Beserker, or 18.5 to 19.5 damage. Your at-will will do 1[W] (8, or 6.5), + Strength (5) + Wisdom (3) + Domain of Power (2) + Enhancement bonus + Feat bonus (1) for 20 or 18.5 damage. This is in comparison to the Barbarian which does 1[W] (8) + Strength (5) + D8 (4.5) + Enhancement (1) + Feat bonus (1) for 19.5 damage (or slightly less with a weaker weapon or a d6 damage roll). The general key basis of the build is replicating the Sorcerer's or Warlocks extra secondary ability bonus, be it Strength, Dexterity or Constitution, in order to deal equivalent damage to most strikers, by utilizing the extra wisdom damage on your holy strike at-will power. This is also roughly on par with the D8 of many strikers, be it the Warlock or Ranger. At higher levels, such as level 8, your wisdom modifier increases and thus your damage, making it scale better than the D8 most strikers have.
The one key caveat is that the target must be marked to deal the extra damage, which can be a problem if there are a large number of defenders in your group or you have trouble marking. This build works particularly well synergistically when other allies in your group are Aura based Defenders, due to the mark not overlapping with the aura. It also does not scale as well at higher levels. The Domain: Power of Strength feat to increases to 2/3/4 extra damage at each tier, and the wisdom increases at each tier, but this usually is not enough to keep you on par with other strikers. A paragon path that deals extra damage, such as Son of Mercy or Morninglord, or even the Pit Fighter paragon path (which requires that you multiclass fighter), will be needed to remain competitive. Like the Avenger, you deal more damage if the target doesn't engage you or attack you, as your Divine challenge is especially punishing, scaling to do +3/6/9 damage and with the right feat, or Mighty Challenge (and Blessed Strength with the Half-Orc), adding extra strength damage at well, for 8 extra damage at heroic, 12 extra damage at paragon, and 18 extra damage at epic. This damage is situational, but also helps you be a defender as it is highly punishing. If you fail to protect your allies from attacks, you will instead deal more damage and kill the enemy faster, which benefits the team no matter what.
You will naturally sacrifice some extra defense for the required feats and the build, especially if you are using a two-handed weapon, but it's roughly on par with a Barbarian (albeit starting off with plate, and having healing powers) and the necessary feats can be picked up over time. The feat requirements are actually quite small, only requiring weapon proficiency, expertise, and the domain of strength feats. The other feats more or less are perfunctory and thus while good to have, aren't particularly limiting. The biggest question will be optimizing for a two-handed weapon or a one-handed weapon,which is the trade off of a shield, which boosts your AC from 18 to 20, and your reflex by 2. While the damage is only slightly different (6.5 compared to 8), certain other powers and abilities require two-handed weapons, which can make it important depending on your choice of powers. As you are not a charge spammer, you will also lose out on certain benefits of the Barbarian or charge spammer in general, but you do more consistent damage. As your encounter and daily powers are generally powerful enough The benefits of this build drop off at higher levels, where it becomes harder to keep up with other strikers and the damage difference is more pronounced, meaning it does not scale as well. Your damage is typically 75% of that of most strikers, and you don't have as high a chance to hit on average, but you have great nova damage with your encounter and daily powers. Your naturally powerful encounter and dailies will compensate for this to some extent, and other ways of boosting your average at-will damage should be used to make you more powerful if you can find it.
Items are not of particular importance to the build itself, however your biggest choice will be between a one-handed or two-handed weapon. A one-handed weapon does slightly less damage, but provides greater defenses due to your shield bonus. At level 1 this is represented as 20 AC and 13 reflex with the shield vs. 18 AC and 11 reflex without the shield (with base attribute and reflex bonuses). Because a gouge is not necessary as this is not a charge spamming build (like with a Barbarian), you do not need the item types of a Gouge (a spear and axe) which allow you to target reflex with the level 11 feat impaling spear, and thus a one-handed weapon is not as big of a hassle. If you plan to go with more munchkin style themes, picking the right weapon (which produces radiant or fire damage and so on) will be important.
Starting Ability Scores (Before Racial Adjustments): 18/14/11/10/10/8 or 16/16/12/12/10/8. Idealistically you should have 20 strength regardless of the build, but an 18/18 is typically fine, although you will ultimately do less damage due to a lower chance to hit.
Race (Templates): Idealistically you will choose +2 Strength and Wisdom, however the Human, Dwarf, and Genasi options offer enough utility to justify the lack in wisdom. Dwarves have good feats in general, including dwarven weapon training,
Starting Racial Traits:
|1st||<- class, racial HD, or LA ->||+||+||+||+||Weapon proficiency: Mordenkrad, Gouge, Craghammer or waraxe|
|2nd||<- class, racial HD, or LA ->||+||+||+||+||Expertise Feat|
|3rd||<- class, racial HD, or LA ->||+||+||+||+||[Domain]: Power of Strength|
|4th||<- class, racial HD, or LA ->||+||+||+||+|
The basic idea is to use your holy strike at-will, then use your domain feat to boost the damage, than use various feats and paragon paths to boost the damage further. Elemental damage is a good way to boost any attack, and radiant, lightning, thunder, fire and cold damage are all good sources for this. Heroes of the Elemental Chaos are particularly useful for feats and powers, as well as items to boost the damage of these types of damag.e
Two key methods of dramatically increasing the damage do exist, chiefly revolving around boosting your radiant damage or using firewind blade. The first is to use a firewind blade item (normally an enchanted bastard sword) and find a way to convert your damage to fire damage, which allows you to deal extra fire damage equal to your enhancement bonus +1 to an adjacent enemy every time you hit with a fire-based attack. Because the firewind blade power is a separate attack, all benefits to fire damage ,from item bonuses or feats also help to boost the damage of the attack; this means that instead of doing 1 + the enhancement bonus, you can deal 1 + the enhancement bonus, +all feat, paragon path and item bonuses. At level 11, fiery blood and primordial adept allow you to deal an extra 8 damage with every attack, which more than easily puts you in to striker territory with a one-handed weapon. Furthermore, Primordial Adept and Fireyblood will trigger on your main attack, which means a minimum of +3 extra damage on the primary attack as well, increasing the damage to 11. Dealing fire damage with an attack that is not from a fire weapon will be difficult, however, and will require certain paragon paths or special powers.
The easiest way to convert all your damage from attacks to fire damage is with the Genasi racial feat at level 11 or , although this requires you to be a Genasi, which only has +2 Strength and Intelligence, reducing your damage output somewhat as you lose a +1 bonus to your wisdom stat. This is relatively minor drawback however, as the +13 damage you'll be doing (Genasi also do another +2 damage and convert all the damage to fire with the feat) will more than offset the 1 to 2 extra damage you'd lose. This build only works at level 11, and Morninglord only works at level 16. Morninglord, which adds 10 extra damage to all radiant attacks, is more tricky, especially if you are trying to combine the firewind blade together, but as Holy Strike does radiant damage you can at least deal radiant damage with your main at-will, despite lacking a special weapon (although this will not apply to all attacks). There are other paragon paths as well, such as Sons of Mercy which deals extra damage to your wisdom modifier (but only to a single target), or Pit fighter which deals extra damage to all creatures, but only happens at level 16 and requires you to multiclass fighter as it is a fighter paragon path. This can be easily added on top of the firewind blade, although if you are not a Genasi the Dragonborn paragon path Honorable Blade will allow you to deal fire damage with each attack or the Soul Forged paragon path will convert all your damage to fire and radiant damage. This takes up the morninglord or Sons of Mercy paragon path spot however and thus ultimately will weaken your build.
The basic gist is to utilize your superior defenses and healing powers to provide an advantage and a more preferable divine theme over the stock barbarian, which is done at the cost of charging.
This build requires that you mark, which can be a deal breaker if you have a lot of other defenders in the group, and requires that each target be marked and precludes you from being a spam charger or using other well known boosts to damage. Your damage does not scale as well as paragon and epic tiers, which will require some damage increasing themes or paragon paths to remain competitive with higher level strikers.
There really isn't a counter needed since it isn't particularly strong, but exceptions to firewind blade or other powers could become necessary (which is possible with virtually any build).
Overall just a fun build to have competitive damage to a Barbarian, trading your extra defenses and healing powers to be able to charge spam.
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