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Some friends and I are starting a new campaign where we agreed to use Player's Handbook 1 & 2 only. Unfortunately, all of us have little to no experience, and, although I don't want to boast, I'm the 'best' among us when it comes to RPGs, so the role of protecting while outputting as much damage as possible befalls me.

I'm thinking of playing a Goliath Earthstrength Warden (with a high STR/CON) plus I like Warden a lot (any other suggestions are more than welcomed) so I need help determining Feats/Powers to be as much sturdy as I can, while being able to deliver pain.

Special Rules: The DM allowed 2 feats at 1st lvl (humans get 3), since we are only 4 players, and 2 rounds after stabilize we can get back into the fight using 2 surges, so I thought a Leader is not as essential as a Defender, and I don't think the DM will pit us against anything insanely hard, since we're newbies.

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I'm finding it difficult to plot the right idea without knowing the rest of your party. If your party is melee-focused vs. range focused is a huge game changer for the build. –  CatLord Dec 23 '13 at 17:02
    
Comments are not for answers. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 23 '13 at 23:32
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@CatLord was just asking for much needed additional information. –  András Dec 24 '13 at 15:18

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

First and foremost: As a Defender, you should realize that you're not going to match the damage output of the Strikers, even if they aren't optimized. You can certainly build for as much damage as possible within your class, but you're not going to lead the party in takedowns.

With the extra feat you're being given, I recommend picking up proficiency in a superior weapon of some sort. My personal preference for a Warden is the Craghammer, as it's a pretty high-damage weapon (d10), with an uncommonly high Brutal rating (2; at a glance in the Compendium, I only see two other weapons with Brutal 2: Execution Axe and Carrikal), however it appears in the Adventurer's Vault, so while you'd be able to select Weapon Proficiency (Craghammer) since WP is in the PHB, your GM might not want you using craghammers. Speak to him about it. (Similarly, the Guardian's Call weapon enchantment is absolutely the best -- d10 crit while in guardian form, +2 to a NAD while in guardian form -- but it shows up in AV2.)

You need to be mobile on the battlefield, since your mark is a close burst 1; this also means you're going to be taking some OAs. Something like Defensive Mobility is useful for extra AC against OAs; a Minotaur's Heedless Charge ability also helps if you use charge attacks to maneuver (and, of course, if you're playing a Minotaur... which is in PHB3 -- odd, since PHB3 is primarily a psionics book, and Minotaurs don't really strike me as a psionic race).

You're also likely going to be granting combat advantage on a frequent basis as you'll be flanked by enemies. I don't think there's any way to directly combat this with the limited book selection you've got (PHB3 has Eyes In The Back Of Your Head at Paragon tier), so you'll just have to stock up on defenses. Invest in your armor and neck items.

While you have AoE marks as a free action just for being a Warden, your marks aren't especially sticky compared to some others. Warden's secondary roles are Controller and Striker, but if you want to be an effective Defender, IMO, you need to embrace the Controller side of the character. Immobilize, knockdown, forced movement, difficult terrain... these all help to keep enemies close to you and off your allies. (Form of Winter's Herald is God's gift to Wardens, giving you +AC, +resist cold, creating difficult terrain, and granting you access to an AoE immobilize. It's a level 1 daily power, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it still in use on a level 30 Warden.)

Sudden Roots will also help keep enemies close so that you can keep beating on them. When they try to move away, your opportunity attack sets them to a speed of 2; if they're in difficult terrain at the time (see Winter's Herald again), their movement stops right then and there. (If you can get access to Primal Power, Crippling Crush is another excellent feat choice for someone trying to increase his damage; +CON modifier damage to attacks which slow or immobilize, which synergizes with Sudden Roots.)

Your primary goal is to create a Catch-22 for the NPCs: If they attack you, they're going to miss, or the damage isn't going to matter. If they attack anyone but you, violating your mark is going to cause them to miss and you're going to punish them for it (by pulling them closer to you so you can hit them on your turn, or simply hitting them if they're already in range). Wardens get several powers which help along these lines, such as Earthgrasp Strike (PHB2). You knock an enemy prone, and then deal damage when he gets up. He could stay prone if he wanted, but then he'd grant CA to the melee attacks (such as yours) and have a penalty to his attacks. (Earthstrength Wardens also force the target to stay prone for a round.)

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+1 about additional sources. I had a little trouble as well. My mind kept thinking of things from Martial Powers (especially shields) –  CatLord Dec 24 '13 at 15:45
    
I was between Fearsome Ram and Winter's Herald, now I know what to choose. Also, I asked about the Craghammer, he said no. Maybe I can go with Falchion or Maul? 2dX equals brutal 2, right? Last but not least, Warden's Grasp is an Immediate Reaction; does this mean my ally gets hit, and then my attack takes place? Or do I cause enemy's attack to miss if he's melee w/o my ally getting hit? –  Necrofear04 Dec 27 '13 at 14:13
    
1d10 brutal 2 is equal to 1d8+2 (and 1d12 brutal 1 would be 1d11+1, etc.); 2dX has a minimum value of 2, while a brutal 2 weapon has a minimum value of 3. (That said, unless X is 5, 2dX will have a higher maximum than 1d10!) A Reaction power occurs after the triggering event (while an Interrupt happens before it). –  Brian S Dec 27 '13 at 14:18

With just PHB 1 and 2 you do not have access to the good defense-enhancing feats like Improved Defenses and Superior Will. This makes an Str/Con build even worse idea then usual. The really bad statuses like dominate and stun usually target Will, and yours would be quite low.

My suggestion is a Str/Wis fighter, with a Dex tetriary and Int as a dump stat. As a defender your job is to:

  • discourage the enemy from attacking your allies, and
  • taking the resulting punishment

A Fighter is better than a Warden in both. If an enemy shifts than charges your ally, a Warden has no way to punish it for attacking someone else. Form of Winter's Herald is a great solution for this, but you can use only once per day, and any smart DM will take advantage of that fact. Also a Fighter usally has better AC and other defenses.

On the other hand if the other 3 players are Strikers, and they are quite optimized, a Warlord might be a good idea as well. They take anything down swiftly, you give base attacks, and provide healing if anyone needs it.

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This build is designed for you to have your at least one ally in the fray with you, especially a rogue with the King's Castle ability or something similar once you've marked the enemy. Either that or using Wildblood Cunning to duck back after marking if you have some ranged support, especially blasts.

Shifter (Longtooth) - Str+Wis, Regen while bloodied is the main goal here. The Goliath resist only lasts one round if I read it right. Lean towards getting the 20 Wis to start for +5 AC with Hide armor for a nice comfy AC 18

Warden (Wildblood) 1

  • Weapon: Longspear - cheapest if your DM cares, same damage and prof as halberd, lighter weight if it matters, has Reach
  • AW: Earth Shield Strike - Keeping that AC high, Thorn Strike - obvious control ability
  • E: Wildblood Frenzy - Decent hitting ability, might recommend Earth Spikes as a cheap attack move (target yourself when surrounded and make your opponents hurt and marked)
  • D: Form of the Willow Sentinel - Follows the idea to start next to the opponent(s), shift back and let allies fill the gap. Then use the class abilities when non-marked enemies attack non-you and keep them bogged down. Depending on the foe you can force them into opportunity attacks or flanks.
  • F: Wildblood Cunning, Toughness for the longer period of regen once bloodied
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