Saturday, May 22, 2010

Class Acts: Invoker. More feats than you can fit in a Burst 2.

One of the best articles in DDI so far this month has been the Class Acts dedicated to Invokers. It's one of those increasingly rare, mechanics focused articles, offering little in the way of backstory, but full of new options - the ones I'm always looking for. Signed by the prolific and reliable Robert J. Schwalb, this article consists purely of feats, of all tiers and colors. With a total of 34 invoker-specific feats, this is more than the whole Divine Power book added to the class in that regard, unless we count Domain feats. So the number of possible combinations and builds for the class has been greatly expanded - opening up some very intriguing concepts.

Dubious Manifestation is a new feat of dubious quality for Drow Invokers

There's something I should get out of the way first, though. A dozen of these are racial feats- not a bad thing per se, as it actually covers the races that had been left out in previous supplements. And they are terrible. Not all of them are strictly unplayable (though many are), but they manage to be consistently bland, situational, and often pointless. The formula of 'gain a small bonus when you use your racial power' is abused to death, and almost always disappoints. It's not that it's impossible to make exciting feats with one-shot encounter effects, but they aren't even trying too hard - combat advantage, forced movement, small amounts of damage or even a +1 bonus to a single attack roll are far too weak benefits to be worth the effort.

The few racial feats that do something different are way more acceptable, though not spectacular: the changeling one, Flexible Covenant, allows you to change covenants each day, and the shifter feat Mobile Covenant lets you shift huge distances as your covenant benefit. Nevertheless, the racial stuff feels like mere filler, overall.

After that, things get more interesting. Way more interesting. The remaining feats develop certain themes, such as improvement of summons, specialization in ranged attacks, mastering the staff implement and granting covenant-specific benefits.

Of these, perhaps the most interesting are the ones thatenhance your summoningprayers. With a name like 'invoker', one would have expected a class with better support for powers that bring creatures to the battlefield, so there was quite a gap to fill. Thankfully, the feats are excellent:Carceri's Manacles slows enemies around summoned creatures, whereasRighteous Summons grants a different benefit depending on the character's covenant: attack penalties for maledictors, ally sliding for preservers and, my personal favourite, extra damage for wrathful invokers. To round it off, we have a general purpose feat that will greatly benefit summoners inHand of Fury, which grants extra attacks when a daily attack fully misses.

The feats that reward the use of ranged power are very intriguing because, unlike other controllers, invokers are very strong in this department (mostly because of *Hand of Radiance* and similar multi-target shots). Heaven's Arrow grants a bonus to hit against isolated targets - a condition that isn't usually that easy to meet, but which has quite a bit of synergy with the free slides from Covenant of preservation. Interestingly, it is a scaling feat bonus, as if tempting players to take the feat instead of Expertise. I don't think anyone will get that far, but it is something to consider. The remaining ranged feats are Angelic Harrier, which makes your dailies and encounters slide, and Vanguard's Eye, which grants protection against opportunity attacks.

Staff wielders will get to play a very different style of controller by taking Staff of Channeled Invocations, a feat that turns ranged powers into melee attacks. Among other cool combinations, this allows invokers of the Skill Domain to use Divine Bolts as opportunity attacks, in what may be the first realistic application of the power since it was mostly obsoleted by Hand of Radiance. The other staff feat, Pillar of Heaven, is also interesting but much more limited in scope, as it should only be useful to invokers relying on single-target ranged powers in their encounter slots.

As for the different Covenants, Malediction gets the most new options, with four feats. Of these, Crushing Doom looks particularly impressive, placing a significant damage penalty on all targets of your Maledictor's Doom power. The other covenants get three feats each, of which the paragon feats Preserver's Fury (target of Preserver's Rebuke becomes vulnerable to all damage) and Wrathful Outburst (Armor of Wrath targets an additional enemy) stand out the most.

Finally, the epic tier presents three generic feats that every Invoker should consider taking.Invoker Implement Expertise, as its name suggests, is the boring yet useful option to boost the crit range for all class powers.Dreadful Invocation is a truly spectacular feat that makes your critical hits from encounter or daily attacks inflict a lasting attack penalty, as well as forcing the target to move away from you (with the subsequent opportunity attacks). The last one, Reaching Invocation, works with area attacks, allowing you to target additional foes adjacent to the area - the Invoker's equivalent to Enlarge Spell, and a reason to maybe try Vanguard's Lightning over Hand of Radiance once you gain access to it.

To sum up, an amazing, useful and deep article. If you play an Invoker, chances are that you'll end up using several of the feats included here.

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