Once, the “Iron Commando”. Now, a first-level, metal-fearing, leather-wearing Tree Hugger
This was the fastest life ever, thanks to Otto’s Box. One month from start to finish, and I didn’t even play Mawry for a lot of the time due to all the attention that my new stick-fighting Acrobat was soaking up. Still, it counts as a life, and that calls for another past life cap report.
Normally I would recap the latest build here, in Mawry’s Paladin report, but I already went into detail on this build – the “Iron Commando” – in this post over here.
She spent her first eight levels as a tactical fighter. Fun, but something I’ve done before, I was just killing time waiting to qualify for the Stone of Experience. But I was careful to avoid growing my character in directions that were not Paladin/Tank compatible. At least, as far as my limited tanking knowledge would allow. Speaking of which, DDOGamer readers were very helpful in this, answering my plea for Tankly knowledge with page after page of helpful tips and comments. Thank you again.
Eventually came level 8, and then instantly, level 18 with level 19 banked, needing only 500K to cap the entire life. Not a lot of time to critique the build. But enough to learn some lessons:
Tanking is gear intensive
I’ve noted this previously but it is totally worth repeating. You simply cannot tank without gear. There are degrees of gearedness (gearness? geardity?) and they matter!
Entry-level gear, consisting of whatever you already have plus some cheap crap from the AH, will let you enter the world of Tanking, but not in a way that will let you survive when surrounded, let alone versus any of the hard bosses.
Intermediate gearing requires some decent multiple-attribute items and more importantly, a plan, to ensure that your various gear-based modifiers all stack with each other and all work towards your tanking ambitions. Most of the critical tank modifiers should be present.
With intermediate gear you can successfully tank all but the very hairiest situations. In some cases you will feel god-like, able to withstand every bit of damage being thrown at you. But not in all cases, and over-confidence from those god-like moments will work against you.
Top-shelf gear means that every item has multiple modifiers, every modifier is at peak for that modifier type, and you have covered all of the attributes needed by a tank. This goes beyond the ability to withstand melee damage and extends into things like elemental resists, available Shield spell, ETC. A decently-built tank with top-shelf gear can withstand anything. Anything.
Mawry was tanking with intermediate gear. In most situations she was just fine, in many she was god-like, but every time I started feeling that she was invulnerable I would stumble into one of those situations that require top-shelf gear and have to beat a hasty retreat.
Survivable Mawry survives
Even when I blundered into one of those cases I could not handle, I was usually able to at least successfully retreat. I only died twice. Twice! That is completely not like me in any way. Normally I die twice per quest, often while everyone else is still buffing.
But not Mawry, not this life, no. Very very sturdy.
Intimidate is nice but not enough
Throwing out an intimidate will get the bad guy’s attention, but it won’t keep it. If you are traveling with high DPS characters, you will find it difficult to hold attention solely with Intimidate. You need to be hitting things too, and hitting them with some authority.
There are paladin enhancements that add to your threat when hitting, including Divine Righteousness, an active action boost that adds significantly to threat (increased threat enhances the chance that you will hold monster attention).
Mawry added Cleave and Great Cleave as well, so that she could try to hold attention from a large group of bad guys at the same time. They were an effective addition, but being feats, an expensive addition. This is where Mawry’s Fighter levels paid off; she had feats to spare.
Although Mawry’s self-healing was limited, it was surprisingly effective! Mainly because she was taking so much less damage than I am used to taking. But four Lay on Hands, one Endless Mug of Rum, one Unyielding Sovereignty, and a stack of pots was more than sufficient, 99% of the time.
The other 1% was problematic. When you have over 500 hitpoints, trying to get yourself back to full from one-half takes a lot of potions. Even with all this self-healing, you’re still going to enjoy the accompaniment of an actual healer.
Say Goodbye to DPS
I think this is partly because sword-and-shield style is simply inferior DPS-wise, but also partly because I used the weapons I already had instead of getting the best possible one-handed weapons. Mawry has a lot of rapiers, and when she tanked, she used them. Greensteel rapiers generally. If she was going to stay a tank she would have had to invest in either Khopesh (max DPS) or Bastard Sword (slightly less DPS but enhanced ability to hit multiple targets with one swing).
But either way, her DPS was disappointing. I know that Tanks don’t need DPS, but Evangelyne at level 16 has more DPS using a quarterstaff, even without sneak attacks. It is sad.
- Solo-ability: Unbelievably effective, even more than the Evasion Battlecleric. My most solo-able build to-date
- DPS: Definitely lacking here. Possibly the worst DPS I’ve ever had on a melee class character. You make up for it with Fighter tactics, and by simply being able to stand there toe-to-toe with the bad guys for however long it takes to whittle them down. But it feels like you are giving them the Death of a Thousand Cuts
- Party Support: Tanking is, ultimately, a party support capability. Holding the attention of all the monsters, all the time, made it almost trivial for healers to keep up with damage, and obviated much of the need for crowd control. It is a different approach to party support, but an effective one.
- Survivability: In addition to all the melee damage resistance, this build has great saves too! No evasion of course, but the saves help make up for the loss. This is the second-most most survivable character I have ever built, behind only the Dark Monk
- End Game: One would have to really devote themselves to acquiring the gear needed to be an effective tank in Elite Epics (EE). But I think even an intermediate-level geared tank would be effective at every part of the end game except EE.
The way I progressed this character – tactics fighter then suddenly, tank! – was in some ways ideal. I think it would be difficult to play your tank gradually as she levels. Becoming a tank all at once seemed much more fun. Plus there really is no need for a tank character until you start hitting raids and especially, the Vale of Twilight raids.
But then … oh my, what a fun character! In spite of her missing DPS, I really enjoyed playing this character build. Enough so that I am thinking of coming back to it for Mawry’s tenth life when she is a fighter. I don’t know if a pure fighter can be as effective though … maybe she will be 8 paladin 10 fighter, instead of this life when she was the reverse.
This is probably not the build for a first-timer, as it is too gear intensive. But if you have the gear, or are willing to do the farming it will take, then wow, what a fun build!
Next up: I’m going to do a flip and play a build created by my Gamer Girl. I’ve put together plenty of builds for her, but this time I will be playing one of hers, a super-speed-runner Druid elemental Damage-Over-Time caster.
🙂 😀 🙂