Author Topic: Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage  (Read 1012 times)

Legacy_PracticalKat

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« on: January 27, 2014, 08:15:22 am »


               [Edit: Rejigged the formatting of the build..] 

I wasn't following the somewhat technical direction the previous discussion was taking, so I'm starting another thread with one question: is Greater Spell Penetration more important for this build than Still Spell?  

GSP was recommended by WebShaman for the dex build in the place of Still Spell, but I'd think it wise to not lose Still Spell (or alternatively Silent Spell) in the campaign.  Otherwise Paralyse makes you very vulnerable.  It seems to be a trade-off between spell power and flexibility, and with two spell focus feats already my gut feel is that flexibility is more important. 

I've tweaked the build looking at both the strength and dual-wielding versions by Webshaman, and added it at the bottom for info (the choice is at Level 20).   For those reading this for the first time, this is to be played in SoU + HotU + Sands of Time, so I'm taking comments on the Bard / AA build into account (using Listen now instead of Spot).

Wizard(40), Elf
STR: 10

DEX: 16
CON: 12
WIS: 8
INT: 18 (36)
CHA: 8

Elf: (Hardiness vs. Enchantments, Keen Sense, Low-light Vision, Skill Affinity: Listen, Skill Affinity: Search, Skill Affinity: Spot, Sleeplessness)
01: Wizard(1): Toughness, {Scribe Scroll}
02: Wizard(2)
03: Wizard(3): Weapon Finesse
04: Wizard(4): INT+1, (INT=19)
05: Wizard(5): Extend Spell
06: Wizard(6): Maximize Spell
07: Wizard(7)
08: Wizard(8): INT+1, (INT=20)
09: Wizard(9): Spell Focus: Illusion
10: Wizard(10): Spell Focus: Abjuration
11: Wizard(11)
12: Wizard(12): INT+1, Two-Weapon Fighting, (INT=21)
13: Wizard(13)
14: Wizard(14)
15: Wizard(15): Ambidexterity, Spell Penetration
16: Wizard(16): INT+1, (INT=22)
17: Wizard(17)
18: Wizard(18): Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
19: Wizard(19)
20: Wizard(20): INT+1, Greater Spell Penetration, (INT=23)
21: Wizard(21): Epic Spell Penetration
22: Wizard(22)
23: Wizard(23): Combat Casting
24: Wizard(24): INT+1, Great Intelligence I, (INT=25)
25: Wizard(25)
26: Wizard(26): Great Intelligence II, (INT=26)
27: Wizard(27): Great Intelligence III, (INT=27)
28: Wizard(28): INT+1, (INT=28)
29: Wizard(29): Great Intelligence IV, (INT=29)
30: Wizard(30): Great Intelligence V, (INT=30)
31: Wizard(31)
32: Wizard(32): INT+1, Epic Spell: Epic Mage Armor, (INT=31)
33: Wizard(33): Epic Prowess
34: Wizard(34)
35: Wizard(35): Epic Spell: Epic Warding
36: Wizard(36): INT+1, Great Intelligence VI, (INT=33)
37: Wizard(37)
38: Wizard(38): Great Intelligence VII, (INT=34)
39: Wizard(39): Great Intelligence VIII, (INT=35)
40: Wizard(40): INT+1, (INT=36)

Hitpoints: 240
Skillpoints: 378
Saving Throws (Fortitude/Will/Reflex): 17/21/19
Saving Throw bonuses: Spells: +11, Mind Effects: +2
BAB: 20
AB (max, naked): 24 (melee), 24 (ranged)
AC (naked/mundane armor/shield only): 17/17

Spell Casting: Wizard(9)
Alignment Changes: 0


Appraise 7(20), Concentration 43(44), Discipline 21(21), Heal 12(11), Hide 20(23), Listen 20(21), Lore 20(33), Move Silently 20(23), Search 21(36), Spellcraft 43(56), Tumble 21(24)
               
               

               


                     Modifié par brendonwp, 28 janvier 2014 - 05:54 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 12:13:35 am »


               

brendonwp wrote...

GSP was recommended by WebShaman for the dex build in the place of Still Spell, but I'd think it wise to not lose Still Spell (or alternatively Silent Spell) in the campaign.  Otherwise Paralyse makes you very vulnerable.  It seems to be a trade-off between spell power and flexibility, and with two spell focus feats already my gut feel is that flexibility is more important.

If you have Mind Spell immunity or Freedom you're immune to Paralysis and both are quite common, either through items or spells (such as Protection from Alignment, Lesser Mind Blank, and Mind Blank).

Still Spell is used if you're going for wearing armor.

Regarding the GSP...it's very environment dependent.  Usually anything with high SR can be Breached and most places don't go beyond the toolset limit of 32 SR anyway.  Whether it's useful depends entirely on the environment, even more than most things.  You won't need it in Sands of Fate from what I reclal.

Silent Spell/Still Spell is mainly useful for being able to cast spells as 1 level higher -- like Silenced Isaac's Greater Missile Storm.

I've tweaked the build looking at both the strength and dual-wielding versions by Webshaman, and added it at the bottom for info (the choice is at Level 20).   For those reading this for the first time, this is to be played in SoU + HotU + Sands of Time, so I'm taking comments on the Bard / AA build into account (using Listen now instead of Spot).

You may want to clean up the actual build breakdown.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_PracticalKat

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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2014, 06:15:30 am »


               MM, the ins and outs of effects and spells are largely beyond me, so thanks for that.  So the decision seems to be one of preference.  

Have sorted the formatting.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2014, 06:33:30 am »


               It's not preference, it's whether the environment actually uses enemies with significant Spell Resistance (usually they don't).  Preference is more Still versus Silent spell if you're NOT going armored -- though I'd claim Silent Spell is superior since you could use it while silenced.  But that's a pretty rare case -- it's mainly used just for making spells 1 level higher.

Hell, I'm not even sure you can cast a Stilled spell while Paralyzed -- I don't think the engine allows it (and it SHOULDN'T unless the spell DOESN'T have a verbal component).  If you're Paralyzed you're hosed, period.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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Reprise: Dual-wielding Melee Mage
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2014, 08:21:07 am »


               Yeah, Still Spell provides no ability to cast while paralyzed. As MM says, the feat is probably used most often so that casters can get extra casts of useful level N spells from level N+1 slots.

It is also used so that arcane spells with somatic (movement) components can be cast while wearing armor without risk of arcane spell failure, something useful for swordmages. And, in the same line, it is a prerequisite for the Automatic Still Spell feats, which allow arcane casting while wearing armor, whether or not a given spell is cast from a slot one level higher than usual.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2014, 05:22:25 pm »


               Wait -- why the hell are you taking Spell Focus in Adjuration and Illusion?
               
               

               
            

Legacy_PracticalKat

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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 04:13:28 pm »


               Will go for Silent Spell on balance, I think.
@MM, those feats are in Webshaman's notes for the DW build. I like the idea of SF: Abjuration because it's supposed to make self-buffs harder to dispel. Illusion I'm not at all attached to - what would you suggest?
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 05:25:34 pm »


               You probably don't want to take Spell Focus in either of those schools.

First, SF: Abjuration doesn't have any effect on how easy buffs are to dispel. Nothing except higher caster level will directly help with that, and even caster level won't prevent breaches from removing buffs.

The Spell Focus feats only raise the DCs for saving throws of the spells you cast. In other words, when you cast a spell at a target, having spell focus in that spell's school makes it less likely that the target will make his save. Choose whether to take Spell Focus feats based on whether the offensive spells in that school are ones you plan to use (and that they require a saving throw). The wiki page of spell lists by school will be useful.

The school of abjuration is mostly buffs and only has a couple spells for which a higher save DC is useful, Dismissal and Banishment. In my view, using a feat to raise the DCs of those spells would be pretty much a waste.

Similarly, the the wizard spells in the school of illusion for which higher saves would be useful are Color Spray, Phantasmal Killer, Mass Blindness/Deafness, and Weird. That school comes a little closer to justifying a Spell Focus feat, but it is still not worth it, largely due to weaknesses in Phantasmal Killer and Weird.

Most people who take Spell Focus feats take them in the evocation school, which has lots of damage spells that require saving throws (and some very good damage spells that do not); necromancy which has at least three nice spells requiring saves (Finger of Death, Horrid Wilting, and Wail of the Banshee) and a couple others that can useful in certain situations (Undeath to Death) or if you can manage them right (Fear, which is not party friendly, so it needs careful placement if you are playing at hard core or higher difficulty setting); and enchantment, which has many spells with will saves, but which many players think is marginal since immunity to mind spells and paralysis is pretty common. Though I doubt you are considering it here, you may also run across specialty caster builds who plan to make a lot of use of just one or two spells and take SF in those spells' schools to make them more effective. The two that come to mind are Flesh to Stone, which is a transmutation school spell that can be effective because there is no immunity to petrification in the game (although quite a few creatures are considered "fleshless" which provides immunity), and Flame Arrow and Evard's Black Tentacles, which are conjuration school spells that can be useful at times.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 05:43:07 pm »


               BTW, your toon gets a nice high INT, so he could certainly get away with taking no focus feats and still have respectable saving throw DCs. However, I would tend to want to concentrate my focus feats. That is, get two or three of the focus feats in one school rather than one feat in two or three schools. That way, you have one school where your spells will be really hard to save against.

When I have to choose one school, it's typically necromancy and I try for all three feats in it. With Epic Spell Focus: Necromancy, your Wail of the Banshee will have a DC of 38 with no INT buffs or items and 44 with your INT capped with +12 worth of buffs. That will be a very tough save for most PvE opponents without a high CON.

If you are looking to free up other feats in order to take focus feats, I really think this build could do without the Spell Penetration line. Remember that penetration only raises your effective caster level when trying to bypass an opponent's Spell Resistance. It has no impact on anything else. And, as a wizard you will have access to the breach spells (Lesser Spell Breach, Greater Spell Breach, and Mordenkainen's Disjunction), all of which lower SR if you find an opponent who is resisting your spells (unless he is a monk, who will have unreducible SR). I would at least give up Epic Spell Penetration in order to get Epic Spell Focus.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2014, 02:21:51 am »


               

brendonwp wrote...

MM, those feats are in Webshaman's notes for the DW build. I like the idea of SF: Abjuration because it's supposed to make self-buffs harder to dispel. Illusion I'm not at all attached to - what would you suggest?

Both are terrible.  Abjuration does nothing.

Like MrZork said, Necromany and Evocation are the only ones really worth taking usually (and often in that specific order).  I'd also second dropping the Spell Penetration line unless you enter an environment where it's actually needed -- usually better to just breach an opponent with higher Spell Resistance.

I'd also skip Combat Casting, Epic Prowess, and Epic Mage Armor...go with

Great Int X
Epic Warding
Epic Spell Focus (probably Necromancy)
Epic Spell Focus (Evocation if you do a second one)

If you decide to only do one spell focus you COULD pick up EMA instead of the second focus but I still don't think it's worth it.  I can safely say I've never wished I had EMA on a pure caster build.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Westan Willows

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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2014, 02:28:33 am »


               I never thought much of MA so I never took EMA.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2014, 09:10:38 pm »


               Brendonwp, I am pretty surprised that Webshaman had Combat Casting in his MM build. And, taken at epic levels in a maxed-concentration build and without Improved Combat Casting. It is doing pretty much no good at all, even as a convenience! LOL.

Westan, Mage Armor is available at level 1, where it is actually an okay buff because it can be hard for a mage to stay out of combat and he is very unlikely to have other gear that will add +4 to his AC. So, MA, Shield, and possibly a potion of Barkskin and Cat's Grace and those goblins who previously were wearing him down are now not hitting much.

Later on, the mage has better gear and other spells with better combat benefits and the only real value in Mage Armor is the +1 dodge bonus. But, also by that time, he has the level 1 spell slots available anyway and the level 1 offensive spells aren't so great and it isn't a bad trade to give up a Burning Hands for a Mage Armor. So, many players keep a MA or two on the books because, well +1 AC is still +1 AC, and it is a cheap way add +4 AC to a familiar or summons or to give +1 AC to another player or NPC in the party, possibly a melee toon for whom it makes a little difference.

I definitely agree with MM on Combat Casting and Epic Prowess. No real value from CC and EP isn't worth it in this toon.

But, I still say that Epic Mage Armor has its uses, depending on the environment and depending on when the mage sees himself entering melee. For a more traditional no-melee mage or in a module where even the low-level mobs have ABs designed to hit plate+shield equipped toons, then EMA may not be missed. For modules like HotU and Sands of Fate, there are mobs with mediocre AB but enough strength to do not-mediocre damage if they are hitting. EMA helps them miss.

Remember that the OP's toon is supposed to be a melee mage. Not a mage who occasionally has a mob slip past his tank henchman or summons, but one who actually intends to fight some of the low-level mobs with weapons. In that situation, he would be missing that +5 AC. One can argue that a melee mage isn't the best build or will never be up to scratch as a meleer or whatever, but that really doesn't matter because that is the build goal here. In such a build, +5 AC from a single feat will have a serious impact on which low-levels the mage can last long enough against to melee.

As noted elsewhere, another tactic is to chug heals as those guys pound your toon, and that can work (though it can be a risky tactic with a low-HP toon). But, that tactic may not satisfy a player looking to play a melee mage. The idea is that the OP's mage is actually fighting these low-skilled brawlers. If the idea instead was to get hit a lot and let damage shields or whatever take down the mobs, then the better build would be to forget about DEX and STR and AC entirely and put those points and buffs into CON and just do a reciprocal damage build straight through. Reciprocal damage builds can be a hoot and damage shields will help this build, too. But I don't think that someone whose main effectiveness against mobs is letting them pound him while he tries to keep up with the damage is really what the OP is asking for here.

Honestly, brendonwp, I would move EMA earlier in the build to where Combat Casting is now. You will want it before the end of HotU.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Westan Willows

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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2014, 09:18:54 pm »


               I use shield. For me it works better then MA.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Westan Willows

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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2014, 09:36:08 pm »


               Doesn't EW do the sane as EMA?
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2014, 10:32:25 pm »


               The two are very different.

Epic Warding is damage reduction (DR). It soaks the first 50 points of physical (slashing, piercing, and/or bludgeoning) damage from an attack from a weapon with less than +20 attack bonus or enhancement bonus, or from a creature weapon (like claws, fists, etc.) on a creature who has less than +20 DR itself. Quite useful if you are going to get hit and you want to reduce the damage that gets through to you. Especially effective in conjunction with damage shields against spell-resistant or spell-immune foes like high-level monks or certain golems.

Epic Mage Armor adds an armor class (AC) bonus effect of +5 each for armor AC, deflection AC, natural AC, and dodge AC. That's +20 AC if the mage has no other AC boosts or gear. Since lots of other spells or gear add to AC and only dodge AC stacks (up to a +20 dodge AC bonus), there are many situations in which only the +5 dodge AC bonus will add to the mage's total AC. That's why I was referring to +5 AC above. In low or low-mid magic environments (say, where the gear bonuses are no higher than +5), EMA can be useful in boosting AC while leaving inventory slots available for other gear. In other words, you might be able to wear a nice amulet that grants bonus spell slots or something, but still have +5 natural AC.