Spellshooting Swordmage (4e Optimized Character Build)

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While almost all controllers, a lot of strikers and even some leaders fight at range, defenders are forced to stand in the frontlines. This build will try to make a reasonable ranged defender. Note: After I finished this guide, I saw that it could work as a hybrid Swordmage|Cleric, although you have to cherry-pick powers from two classes who aren't known for their ranged abilities.

Level 1[edit]

Class: Our class is a hybrid swordmage|wizard. This means that we'll have enough ranged powers while still being able to mark enemies reliably.

Race: Our race of choice is a watersoul genasi for its perfect ability bonuses and racial power. You could also consider a voidsoul, or another con-int race, such as a warforged.

Starting Ability Scores: Strength 13, Constitution 16, Dexterity 10, Intelligence 18, Wisdom 14, Charisma 8. Your racial bonuses are already included. Intelligence affects attack powers of both of our classes. Constitution determines how effective our Aegis is, so that should be high too. Wisdom is essential to increase the size of our aegis with the wandering swordmage paragon path, and dexterity will be raised for a small boost to initiative and to qualify for some feats. Charisma en Strength are of little use to us.

Class Options: Obviously, we take aegis of shielding.

Equipment: Use a longsword and cloth armor. While this means that our basic AC is only 14, we'll take a feat at first level to make up for it.

Feats: At 1st level pick something that boosts your AC, as what you're having now isn't going to work for us. Hybrid talent: Swordmage Warding is a good choice, but proficiency with leather armor or unarmored agility are too.

Powers: At this level, an normal wizard would actually be better, because he doesn't have a completely worthless at-will power. However, at later levels you get some incredible good swordmage powers, so it's worth to take mainly wizard powers now.

Level 1 at-will powers: For our swordmage power, I decided to take Sword Burst. You can also take lightning lure if you want to pull an enemy just outside the range of your aegis closer. If you really don't mind low damage or are playing in a mount-heavy campaign, give Arcane Lance a thought. For our wizard at will, we take Illusory Ambush, because it provides an attack penalty that stacks with our mark and psychic lock, making it very hard for enemies to hit your allies.

Level 1 encounter power: Falcon's mark provides an extra mark, can be used at range, and deals an uncommonly resisted damage type. We don't take it, however. Why? Because Twilight Falls is just plain awesome in combination with your mark. Did I mention it can be used with psychic lock?

Level 1 daily power: Phantom Chasm and Sleep are excellent powers, who are both giving the enemies a very hard time. I recommend Phantom Chasm, because it works with psychic lock.

Attributes at level 1[edit]

At level 1, you will have:

  • 28 hit points
  • 10 healing surges (surge value 7)
  • Initiative +0
  • AC 17 (10 +0 armor, +4 ability, +3 untyped)
  • Fortitude 13, Reflex 14, Will 14

Trained skills: Arcana, Endurance, Insight.


Level 2:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

New feat: Extra manifestation

New utility power: Channeling shield

Discussion: At this level, we gain a instant-mini-aegis of shielding that boosts our next attack. As feat, we take Extra Manifestation. I don't recommend a specific manifestation, so just pick one you like.

Level 3:

+5 HP

New encounter attack power: Dimensional Vortex

Discussion: It may seem like a plain level, but we pick up a marvelous power. Dimensional vortex does not simply let us teleport enemies away before they get to attack our allies, it also redirects the attack to a new target of our choice!

Level 4:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

+1 INT (19), +1 WIS (15)

New feat: Divine Healer

Discussion: Our first ability boosts go to our main stat and Wisdom. The wisdom boost becomes essential when we reach level 11 and take our paragon path, but it also enables our swordmage to become a cleric of Sehanine. In my opinion, you can swap healer's lore for battle clerics lore. This boosts our AC into the stratosphere, gives us training in heal and qualifies us for some excellent divine feats.

Level 5:

+5 HP

New daily power: Shielding Fire

Discussion: We pick up our first Swordmage daily, and it's a good one! You mark the target for the rest of the encounter, hit or miss, and if they don't respect it, they will pay for it.

Level 6:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

New feat: Mark of Warding

New Utility power: Dimension Door

Discussion: With mark of warding, you apply yet another penalty to hit on your enemies. A marked enemy hit by Illusory Ambush will now have -5 to hit on its next attack roll. Dimension door gives us a good emergency escape power.

Level 7:

+5 HP

New encounter power: Phantom Foes

Discussion: An enemy attacking other enemies is an enemy not attacking your allies. And isn't that just what a defender should accomplish?

Level 8:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and checks

+1 Int (20), +1 WIS (16)

New feat: Combat Casting

Discussion: Since your aegis range is still fairly small, you might end up in melee to mark a target. Combat casting helps with that, but when we hit paragon tier, we'll drop it.

Level 9:

+5 HP

New daily power: Mirage Arcana

Discussion: Mirage Arcane basically locks enemies in a 5X5 square, dazes, and makes them unable to attack creatures outside the zone. Psychic lock synergy is icing.

Level 10:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

New feat: Improved Initiative

New Utility power: Impenetrable Warding

Discussion: Our last level before the awesomeness known as paragon tier. We get a nice stance, but the feat is not that useful for us.

Attributes at level 11[edit]

(This assumes +2 equipment and Drakescale armor)

+6 HP

+1 to all ability scores

STR 14, CON 17, DEX 11, INT 21, WIS 17, CHA 9

At level 11, you will have:

  • 79 HP
  • 10 healing surges (surge value 19)
  • Initiative +5
  • AC 30 (10 +8 armor, +2 shield, +2 enhancement, +3 untyped, +5 levels)
  • Fort 20 (10 +3 ability, +2 enhancement, +5 levels)
  • Ref 22 (10 + 5 ability, +2 enhancement, +5 levels)
  • Will 22 (10 + 3 ability, +2 enhancement, +5 levels, + 2 class)
  • Speed 5

Paragon path: Wandering Swordmage

Wow... just wow... This path is HUGE. At first, it solves the problem of our small marking range by adding our wisdom modifier to its range. We can now mark enemies from a distance of 5 squares. The encounter power is a bit of a waste on us, as is the bonus to history checks. The action point feature lets us teleport away before taking an extra action, so we have another way to escape melee range now.

New feats: Our new feat is Double Aegis, what combined with our new expended marking range turns us in a massive threat for our enemies. We also retrain Improved Initiative for Psychic lock, so a lot of our powers will now impose massive penalties to hit on the targets. Be sure to pick up a Githyanki Silver Sword somewhere.

Level 12:

+5 HP

+1 to all attacks, defenses and skill checks.

New feat: Greater Aegis of Shielding. We also retrain combat casting for Greater Swordmage Warding

New Utility power: Arcane Tanglestep

Discussion: We continue to get some useful feats. Greater Aegis of shielding will give enemies yet another penalty for being marked, and Greater Swordmage Warding improves our defenses further. We don't need combat casting anymore, since we can stay further away from our enemies now. Arcane Tanglestep is about everything we don't want, through, so ignore it.

Level 13:

+5 HP

Lost encounter power: Twilight Falls

New encounter power: Dark Gathering

Discussion: Twilight falls is exchanged for Dark Gathering, which does everything that made Twilight Falls awesome, but better.

Level 14:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and checks

+1 INT (22), +1 WIS (18)

New feat: Reserve Maneuver

Discussion: Our aegis range is expanded by one square, our attack stat gains a higher modifier, and we get to swap our almost useless paragon path power for a better one.

Level 15:

+5 HP

Lost daily power: Phantom Chasm/Sleep

New daily power: Slumber of the winter court

Discussion: Our new daily power, Slumber of the winter court, has a chance of knocking the target unconscious whether it hits or misses, so Sleep is not longer required.

Level 16:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

New feat: Verstaille Expertise (heavy blades/heavy blades)

New utility power: Aegis of lost souls

New paragon path feature: Learn from Experience

Discussion: A useful feat, a useful utility, a less useful path feature. Not much to say here.

Level 17:

+5 HP

Lost encounter power: Dimensional Vortex

New encounter power: Surprising Transposition

Discussion: Some consider Surprising Transposition inferior to Dimensional Vortex. I don't, because it gives us an extra option if we use it.

Level 18:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses, and skill checks

+1 INT (23), +1 WIS (19)

New feat: Pervasive Light

Discussion: A lot of monsters are vulnerable to radiant damage, so we can now exploit that without having to take such powers ourselves.

Level 19:

+5 HP

Lost daily attack power: Mirage arcana

New daily attack power: Summon Black Devourer

Discussion: It is a tough break, but we exchange Mirage arcana for Summon Black Devourer. This summon gives you the extra frontline fighter that your party will sometimes need.

Level 20:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

New feat: Superior Will

New daily attack power: Heritage of Blades

Discussion: We end paragon tier with a small boost to will, as well as better protection against some nasty effects. Heritage of blades gives us a stance that lets us protect our allies and deal extra damage each round.

Attributes at level 21[edit]

(This assumes +4 equipment and Stromscale armor)

+6 HP

+1 to all ability scores

STR 15, CON 18, DEX 12, INT 26, WIS 22, CHA 10

At level 21, you will have:

  • 130 HP
  • 11 healing surges (surge value 32)
  • Initiative +11
  • AC 40 (10 +9 armor, +2 shield, +4 enhancement, +3 untyped, +10 levels +2 feat)
  • Fort 32 (10 +4 ability, +4 enhancement, +10 levels +2 feat +2 armor)
  • Ref 34 (10 + 8 ability, +4 enhancement, +10 levels +2 feat)
  • Will 36 (10 + 6 ability, +4 enhancement, +10 levels, + 2 class +4 feat)
  • Speed 5

Epic Destiny: Chosen of Sehanine

The first feature of this epic destiny gives us a +2 boost to two abilities of our choice. As usual, we go with Intelligence and Wisdom. Later on, we get to heal ourselves just before we drop, and while divine miracle not the broken superpower is that it used to be, it's still pretty good.

New feats: We retrain double aegis for total aegis, so now we can mark all enemies within eight squares of us as a minor action. To keep up with the massive amount of creatures that will possibly violate it, our new feat is Rapid Aegis reaction.

Level 22:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

New feat: Swordmage implement expertise

New utility power: Oni's gift

Discussion: Critical hits are good. Do you need more explanation why we take this feat? In addition, our final utility power lets us basically be invisible while it's not your turn for the whole encounter.

Level 23:

+5 HP

Lost encounter attack power: Phantom Foes

New encounter attack power: Radiant Shield

Discussion: The side effect of marking is that it also makes it harder for enemies to attack one of their own allies. Now that we're marking a lot of foes at once, we'll swap phantom foes for radiant shield, to mark a group of creatures just outside your aegis' range.

Level 24:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and checks

+1 INT (27), +1 WIS (23)

New feat: Double Manifestation

New epic destiny feature: Divine Recovery

Discussion: Same ability boosts as always. Divine recovery keeps you standing for a longer time, and you can manifest two elements at once.

Level 25:

+5 HP

Lost daily attack power: Shielding fire

New daily attack power: Darksword bolt

Discussion: Shielding fire has lost a lot of its power now that we can reliably mark enemies from a great distance. 20 levels after we take it, it's replaced by Darksword bolt.

Level 26:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

New feat: Epic resurgence

New utility power: Horns of the moon

Discussion: Epic resurgence lets you recover encounter powers when you crit. AWESOME. Horns of the moon is an encounter-long buff and an encounter-long debuff whose targets you can change at the start of your turn. MOAR AWESOME.

Level 27:

+5 HP

Lost encounter attack power: Dark Gathering

New encounter attack power: Impenetrable Gloom

Discussion: Just like Twilight Falls was upgraded to Dark Gathering, we upgrade Dark Gathering now. The resulting zone will make life hell for your enemies.

Level 28:

+5 HP

+1 to attacks, defenses and skill checks

+1 INT (28), +1 WIS (24)

New feat: Armor Profiency (plate)

Discussion: Your final ability boosts bring your aegis' range to nine squares, and your new feat lets you get tarrasque plate armor. Resist 5 all is good.

Level 29:

+5 HP

Lost daily attack power: Summon black devourer

New daily attack power: Visions of Wrath

Discussion: Remember what I said about marking also applying to enemies attacking each other? Well, here it's kind of useful after all, since missed attack rolls means that the target automatically fails its save.

Attributes at level 30[edit]

(This assumes +6 equipment and Tarrasque plate armor)

+5 HP

STR 15, CON 18, DEX 12, INT 28, WIS 24, CHA 10

At level 30, you will have:

  • 175 HP
  • 11 healing surges (surge value 43)
  • Initiative +16
  • AC 50 (10 +12 armor, +2 shield, +6 enhancement, +3 untyped, +15 levels +2 feat)
  • Fort 41 (10 +4 ability, +6 enhancement, +15 levels +2 feat +4 untyped)
  • Ref 41 (10 + 8 ability, +6 enhancement, +15 levels +2 feat)
  • Will 43 (10 + 6 ability, +6 enhancement, +15 levels, + 2 class +4 feat)
  • Speed 5
  • Resist 5 all

New feat: Epic fortitude

New epic destiny feature: Divine miracle

Discussion: Our weakest defense is patched up, and we get to recover a power once a battle.

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