Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Warlock Basics - Lots of feats and a damage boost for Warlocks!

Despite the great support, both in amount and quality, that has been devoted to the Warlock class (of which I spoke recently), there were two areas where the class was lacking, compared to other strikers: offense-boosting feats, and raw damage output. As of today, this is no longer a problem, because this month's Warlock Basics article in DDI does an amazing job at fixing it.

"I suddenly feel... powerful!"

Previously, a Warlock looking for feats to improve his attacks didn't have many obvious choices, apart from Implement Expertise (if his DM hadn't got rid of it) and Dual Implement Spellcaster, which annoyingly requires 13 Dex in a class that has no other use for that ability. After that, you might want a White Lotus feat for your at-wills... and that's about it. It is telling that the mediocre-until-it-becomes-unplayable Empowering Shadows was the best the class had to offer in the offense-enhancing department, outside of race-specific stuff. Warlock players have been crying for something as simple as a feat increasing Curse dice ever since PHB. There is one of those in Warlock Basics.

Then you have the damage issue. Warlocks compensate their low damage in multiple ways (great survivability, utility and fun via Pact Boons, and many ways to inflict nasty conditions), but it's still sad to hit for significantly less than every other striker, and even a bit less than some non-strikers (say, a defender or leader with a two-handed weapon). There are some ways to tweak the punishing at-wills for a more or less reliable extra damage, but only for Constitution builds. Or you can turn to the Dark Side, take Eldritch Strike and use your single melee power to make a melee character specialized in charging. Which is quite effective, but hardly matches the concept of the class.

So, what does the article do, exactly, to solve these long-standing problems? There are twenty class-specific feats, most of them interesting and playable, and three that are downright awesome, one for each tier of play. Once it is compiled and added to Character Builder, Warlock players will find themselves hard pressed to find slots for all the feats they want to try - which is quite a turn of events. And it will only get worse (or better, depending on your point of view) next month, when Superior Implements turn up...

The Big Three feats are, in my opinion, well above the power curve, in order to close the power gap between most warlock builds and the average striker. They improve the character's accuracy, control, and damage - accentuating two of the class' strengths, and mitigating its greatest weakness. More importantly, they are tighly coupled with the class features so that borrowing them through multiclassing or hybridizing is hard enough. The heroic one, Primed Curse, is the most likely to get skipped of the three, due to the fact that the boost to Prime Shot won't help melee or area attacks. But any traditional ranged Warlock will become one of the most accurate characters in the game, just below the rogue, which is nothing to sneeze at.

The great paragon feat, Protective Hex, inflicts a pseudo-mark penalty on every enemy hurt by your curse. This has an amazing synergy with the Warlock's resilience and abundance of riposte attacks and, in combination with your party's defender, can make life very complicated for your target. I can't imagine building a paragon warlock without it. Finally, the epic one is even more of a must - called Cursed Spells, it adds your Intelligence to curse damage, which is a great, but safe way to fix the class' damage, since it can't be exploited through multi-attacks or areas.

Only these three feats would justify an article, and a good one at that... but the rest are far from bad! To name a few things, there's the mentioned damage dice increase for your Curse, a feat that grants an improved version of Bloodcurse Rod, a way to ease the restrictions to apply Prime Shot, something to ignore cover and concealments on your cursed targets, ways to trade curse damage for the blind or dazed condition on encounter powers, options to boost daily powers to deal ongoing damage or make opponents slowed or immobilized, and feats that change the type of Eldritch Blast and curse damage. Among other things. If you play a Warlock, you will be retraining after this article. If you don't, maybe you'll want to try one as your next character.

1 comment:

  1. I like Eldritch Strike. I'd like to have a Warlock build with more melee powers-call it a Hexblade perhaps?

    Easier Prime Shot is a good one, seeing as how Called Shot was intro'd into Dragon a while back. It's not as powerful as it is for Rangers but it's not exactly a small thing when you have +5 damage.