Thread: warblade crusader swordsage
31st December 2011, 08:35 AM #1
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warblade crusader swordsage
I have seen several posts regarding the warblade and how strong this class is. I wanted to know your opinions/experiences with all 3 classes. I was reading, briefly, the Swordsage, and at 1st glance, it seemed to have the advantage of mans/rdd mans & stncs, moreso than the Warblade.
Looking for those who have played to give give pros/cons on these classes and the disciplines they have access to, including mans & stncs.
This book seems foreign to me, like nothing I have ever read before. Do the abilites they have work once then with meditation & 5 minutes they can do it again?
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Or you'll hate it, like some others do, because it's radically alters the game for melee.
Either way, in a nutshell, Warblades are excellent Damage Dealers, Crusaders are good Damage Absorbers, and Swordsage gets the option to do many cool things. The Swordsage has fair BAB progression in exchange for it's wider variety of maneuvers and this keeps it balanced with the full BAB Warblade and Crusader as a melee class.
Each of the three classes have a mechanic for renewing maneuvers. Warblade is fastest, Swordsage is slowest and Crusader is partially left to chance. However, there is no limit to how often these classes can access their maneuvers short of the recharge mechanic, so the ToB class is as useful on the 20th fight of the day as they were on the first.
In my oppinion, I'd not be interested in making a Melee character WITHOUT considering some or a lot of Tome of Battle stuff. I'm a big fan of the book.
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IME, Crusader is the strongest, but also the most bland. The no action required maneuver recovery (and in the case of Warblade, which barely requires action, Crusader doesn't have to ever stop pumping out maneuvers) is just really good. You may not have your best maneuver available right when you want it, but you'll usually have at least 2 or 3 "best" maneuvers, so chances are you'll seldom be left hanging, especially with the Extra Granted Maneuver feat, a virtual requirement for any Crusader not just dipping. The delayed damage pool gives you another round to end the fight before dropping, which is a lot of time in D&D combat, and furious counterstrike's bonus is on par with inspire courage, eventually better. The other class features like cha to will saves, reroll save once per day, Mettle, and Diehard are all fairly boring, but very nice to have.
The real power of Crusader, though, is prestige classing. They are prime (or in the former case, the only) entry classes for the 2 most powerful prestige classes in ToB: Ruby Knight Vindicator and Eternal Blade. They are also the best class to make a Jade Pheonix Mage with since their recovery requires no actions to detract from your casting. Prestige classes also often have faster maneuvers readied (and thus, granted maneuvers) advancement than the base class.
Crusader's drawbacks are mostly only having 3 disciplines. One is possibly the worst in the game (Stone Dragon), but the other 2 are two of the best in the game, so it balances out. Again, PrCs can often give different discipline options, making them a strong choice. Only other real issue is that Crusader has so very few boosts and counters, it's almost all strikes. For example, through the first two maneuver levels, the only maneuver they can take that isn't a strike is Shield Block (counter), if they're even using a shield. But, a lot of their strikes and stances fill in the role of boosts and counters the other classes would have. The healing strikes, for instance. Or their devoted spirit stances, which can heal, debuff enemies attacking allies, or turn the Crusader's threatened area into a no-man's land hellscape (Thicket of Blades, one of the best stances). Finally, for what little it's worth, I should note Crusader has the best proficiencies, including the only one of the adept classes with martial ranged weapons.
Warblade is a great class and probably the best for pure killing power. It's also the only class with access to the two far and away best maneuvers in the book (Iron Heart Surge and White Raven Tactics; Crusader gets the latter, Swordsage gets neither). Overall, Iron Heart is a great discipline, though mostly for boosts and counters until the late levels. Despite the d12 HD, the Warblade will often have abysmal AC and thus soak up tons of damage, very similar to the Barbarian, really.
Warblade's main weakness is the anemic amount of maneuvers and the fact you can't use a maneuver the turn you recover them. This is the most likely adept class to spend a bunch of rounds not using maneuvers. Will save is also often a big concern, though Moment of Perfect Mind can help.
I like the int focus of the class, it finally offers a strong option for someone wanting to play a "smart fighter" that isn't a caster. The most powerful things to do with Warblade usually involve Stormguard Warrior tactical feat, using one or both of the AoO and touch attack based tactics to pump up next round's damage to massive levels. The only prestige class "unique" to Warblade, Bloodstorm Blade, is really really cool, but less powerful than the base class because it doesn't advance maneuvers at all, and is best left as a niche class for throwers.
Swordsage, after having played several, I've come to find to be the weakest of the 3 classes. They get the most maneuvers, and indeed the most "magical" ones, but they also lack a lot of the strongest disciplines/maneuvers/stances in the book, and their recovery mechanic is godawfulterrible. Also, lacking the full BAB and high HD of the others, you're relying much more on those maneuvers, and with so many boosts and counters, I've found I actually blow through all my readied maneuvers faster as a Swordsage than as the other 2 classes. The Adaptive Style feat is basically a tax you need to pay just for the class to function properly, and even then, you're spending every 3rd, 4th, or 5th round doing nothing. Desert Wind is overall one of the weakest disciplines, possibly worse than Stone Dragon. Shadow Hand is very good, but for utility (going invisible, teleporting, etc...), not for offense. Setting Sun doesn't work as advertised, it's pretty bad for a weak halfling in practice. To use it well, you want an optimized trip build with as much str and size as possible to get the throws to succeed often and do damage. Setting Sun can be good, but in order to be good, requires a level and type of specialization the typical Swordsage won't be able to provide.
Other than that, not sure what else to say...bar none the weakest class features of the three, IMO. The amount of skills is nice, but only 2 more than the other adepts and lacking the really prime things like Use Magic Device, Spellcraft, etc... that you'd actually want to spend points on ideally. The class is very squishy and really does need its maneuvers to fight worth a damn. All that said, it's a very fun class with a lot of varied, interesting options, even if not the most powerful, and it's probably my favorite class of the three to play.
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I agree with the above.
I think Warblade is the most fun, followed by unarmed swordsage variant. Crusader, though a tank, is kinda boring.
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." - Gary Gygax
Shadow hand gives 2d6 sneAk attack and desert wind has that beautiful extra d6+level damage manuever to all your attacks. There is damage to be had. I'd still Play any of them over a regular melee class anyway
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Some thoughts on the Swordsage Disciplines (no particular order):
In my opinion, Desert Wind isn't so much about the damage as it is about the mobility. There's quite a few maneuvers that provide movement modes not otherwise readily available. Combine with Shadow Hand's teleportation options, and you can basically go wherever you want on the battlefield. Desert Wind also has some very nice damage boosts if you like those - and yes, fire damage is resisted by a lot of things, but quite a few things are also very vulnerable to it. When in the desert, don't ready those maneuvers (Swordsages have so many maneuvers known, you'll have other options). When in the arctic, OTOH, abuse that fire damage.
Also, at low levels (before you're only fighting demons and stuff), Desert Wind can really shine nicely.
Shadow Hand is actually a bit weak, I think. The various utility maneuvers are mostly stances, except for the excellent teleportation maneuvers. This can be good or bad, depending, but won't be only good in combat (out of combat, it's a different story). The sneak attack enhancing stuff can be nice, but depends on staying in Assassin's Stance. The ability damage maneuvers are utter crap for the level and shouldn't be used at all. The supernatural 'noose' maneuvers aren't worth it at their level: single target, mediocre damage blasts with an attack roll attached.
Setting Sun throws - I'll go against SotS's otherwise excellent analysis here - aren't really advertising use by weak halflings except through one artwork. The throws are a unique and fun way to go about battlefield control as a meleer IMO. Being big and strong is mostly what melee combat is about anyway, so I've got no gripes there. The movement-based counters are nice in concept, but seem rather situational to me, I'd rather use the aforementioned disciplines for movement options.
Diamond Mind is a fantastic discipline! Even if you only use the save-replacing counters (you'll only need two of those, since your Ref saves will be high anyway), you'll win out big time. But if you're already doing those, and getting a good Concentration check, you can as well put it to use with some of the fantastic strikes in this discipline. Obviously, those strikes will shine the most when facing high AC opponents, but you will also force the occasional massive damage save. Hearing the Air is a great stance that deserves special mention.
Tiger Claw is about damage, pure and simple, and offers some nice ways of piling it up even when moving first. If you have a damage boost from some source (such as sneak attack, Knowledge Devotion, Inspire Courage etc.), Tiger Claw's many attacks will let you do lots of it. I haven't found much use in the stances offered, though (except for the one granting Scent at 1st level!).
Stone Dragon is advertised as bad, bad, bad, since you have to touch the ground to use its maneuvers. At the mid to high levels, this cramps your style quite a bit. The stances often require you to not move at all, which sucks even more. However, some of the strikes are pretty solid (pun intended...), escpecially the Mountain Hammer line. Ignore any kind of DR? Yes, please! Also, Charging Minotaur is a nice movement-without-AoOs option.
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Two other SD strikes deserve special mention. The 9th level one, Mountain Tombstone Strike, is actually decent and more importantly, has NO required maneuvers known! Great to add on to any high level PC who's run out of other 9th level maneuvers he can qualify for. Crushing Vise at level six is the other. Should you run into a ground-bound foe by those levels, by all means swap it into your readied pile. If you hit, the foe cannot move at all for one round, no save.
Since this is not off topic, and isn't worth a topic of it's own, I will ask:
If you had to choose only one lvl 9 crusader maneuver, which one would you take (I am torn between stone dragon and devoted spirit)?
The build I am working on is paladin based RKV, and it gets only one lvl 9 maneuver on lvl 20 via lvl 4 crusader swap. Build goes like this Paladin of Tyranny 4/Crusader 1/RKV 10/Paladin of Tyranny 2/Crusader 3; Reaches lvl 4 Pally spells, gets full BAB, has IL of 17 on lvl 20, CL of 13 (Paladin 14 (7)+feat (4)+illumian (2)).
Also, not sure if I should get Stone Power+Shards of Granite. 1st seems quickly to diminish in value and build is feat starved in lower lvls, while 2nd seems like it is situational.
P.S. Only building this for fun; got no time to play it lol
Last edited by Duke Arioch; 6th January 2012 at 10:28 AM. Reason: P.S.
Optimist drowned in a half-full tub.
Stone Power, some DR and the delayed damage pool combine to provide rather hefty survivability well into the mid levels. Stone Power should probably be retrained for something else around level 12 or so, but until then, I like it quite a bit.
Strike of Righteous Vitality acts like a Heal spell, which is good, since it saves your Cleric etc. an action (and a spell slot).
Mountain Tombstone Strike is rather underwhelming in my opinion. 2d6 Con damage only really amount to a lot of damage if your target has lots and lots of hit dice: an average 7 points of Con damage just deal 3 points of HP damage/HD. Good against a dragon, granted. But lots of stuff is immune to ability damage, and that makes this maneuver too situational for a 9th level choice.
Warmaster's Charge is an extremely potent ability once you have at least one ally (preferably more) backing you up. It can be good even when you're on your own (50 bonus damage is nothing to sneeze at), but in that case, you lose the no-save-stun, a nice attack bonus, and quite a bit of potential damage, not to mention an immediate action charge on all your allies. Also combines nicely with the Leading the Charge stance. Not to mention Charging Smite, which you'll probably take on your Paladin, right? Also, get those damage-multiplier-on-a-charge feats!
Honorable mention goes to Five Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike (you can select Shadow Hand Maneuvers as a RKV), which is just flat-out better than Mountain Tombstone Strike if you're facing foes who aren't immune to ability damage. The writeup is funky and full of errors, though (ability damage with a duration? WTF).
All in all, I like Warmaster's Charge best, although Strike of Righteous Vitality will come in handy time and again.