Most fun 11th level Wiz/Fighter build?
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  1. #1

    Most fun 11th level Wiz/Fighter build?

    I'm in a Tomb of Annihilation campaign. I am considering the following builds that top out at 11. The goal is a build that will remain fun and effective for the whole campaign rather than just at the very end.

    1) Battlemaster 6 / Abjuror 5
    + Maneuvers look fun
    + Solid, reaction-based spell defenses
    + 3rd level spells

    2) EK 7 / Abjuror 4
    + War magic (Get a bonus attack when casting a cantrip)

    The builds end up with similar numbers in other respects (AC, spell slots, etc.) I suspect the EK build outperforms the battlemaster build at level 11 due to warmagic (In terms of hitting power). The downside is that it likely wouldn't come online until level 9 (In order to multiclass relatively early)

    I wonder if the battlemaster build is more tactical and "fun" based on the opportunities for controlling maneuvers?


    Thoughts?
    Last edited by LinusDerKleinus; Friday, 17th May, 2019 at 06:23 PM. Reason: clarification

  2. #2
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    I think this depends what type of fighter you want to be. Do you want to emphasize tanking? DPR? Control? Also, will you have access to SCAG and Xanathar's?

    A downside of abjuration in a build like this is that the ward's HP scales with your wizard level, so if you are going mostly fighter first, it won't be worth that much by the time you get it, and you also won't have many spell slots to replenish it. You might want to consider bladesinging or war magic (the wizard subclass that confusingly shares a name with an eldritch knight feature) instead, since those subclasses give you nice defensive benefits at wizard level 2 that are just as good later (although you will be limited to light armor and no shield if going bladesinger). A nice benefit of war magic in particular is that you don't care that much about the downside of using arcane deflection, since you'll mostly be using cantrips anyway, so you get an at-will +4 to your saves at the cost of a reaction.

    Consider the following build:

    Race: Variant Human (War Caster)
    Stats: STR 15+1, DEX 12, CON 15+1, INT 12, CHA 8
    Level 1: Fighter 1 (Defense Style)
    Level 2: Wizard 1 (Booming Blade, Shield, Absorb Elements, Rituals)
    Level 3: Wizard 2 (War Magic)
    Level 4: Wizard 3 (Shadow Blade, Mirror Image)
    Level 5: Wizard 4 (ASI, Booming Blade scales)
    Level 6: Fighter 2 (Action Surge)
    Level 7: Fighter 3 (Eldritch Knight; 3rd level spell slots for Shadow Blade)
    Level 8: Fighter 4 (ASI)
    Level 9: Fighter 5 (Extra Attack)
    Level 10: Fighter 6 (ASI, another 3rd level spell slot)
    Level 11: Fighter 7 or Wizard 5 (the other War Magic, or 3rd level spells and bump spell slots/arcane recovery; Booming Blade scales)

    ASI/Feat considerations: +2 STR, Tough (compensate for those d6s), Sentinel (juicy AoOs), Shield Master (if the party has other melee characters to benefit from the proneness)

    Or if you want a more defense-oriented build and/or shadow blade isn't your style (or isn't available), grab Wizard 5 at level 6 for Haste, and make those booming blade + regular weapon attacks. You'll be virtually concentration proof, between your 23 AC (plate+shield+defense style+haste), Shield spell, war caster, proficiency in CON saves, and arcane deflection (not to mention the potential for mirror image if you have a round to prepare). Maybe pick up a spear and take PAM to tack on a bonus action attack, triggered by your haste action.
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  3. #3
    I'll be going STR build, actually focusing on great weapon fighting.... not optimal for defense, but the archetype of a knight with a magical sword is my thang. [And the campaign has already started.] Dex based melee is a heresy


    War magic as a school... appears to really gimp defensive spell casting of the shield spell [or any other leveled spells] . . . That is a big sacrifice. But I will reconsider it an appreciate the suggestion.
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  4. #4
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    Ah, cool. The build above is STR-based, but I had sword and board in mind. I like defense for a wizard gish to mitigate the loss in HP, but I think most of the rest of the considerations (the haste-oriented path, anyway) still work with a GWF build.

    Arcane Deflection does compete with the Shield spell for your reaction, but once you've decided that its benefits are the best use of your reaction it doesn't really gimp its use much more than any other reaction option, since the only time the restriction comes into play is during your next turn, when you're unlikely to need Shield anyway (AoOs aside, I suppose). It seems to me that if you fail an important save, the option to instead make the save is well worth being limited to cantrips on your next turn. Especially for a gish, who is mostly casting slotted spells (other than reactions) before combat, or in the first round at the latest). If using haste, you really don't want to fail your concentration save.

  5. #5
    So the other big trade-off or decision boils down to Warmagic (EK ability) versus Battlemaster maneuvers. Here, I think the controller aspects of battlemaster would be more fun, and would come on line much earlier (possibly by level three or five). Conversely, warmagic would not happen until around level 9 (in order to get the wizard subclass earlier). Warmagic would probably lead to higher DPR over those last three levels, but . .

    1: Fighter
    2: Fighter
    3: Fighter: Battlemaster --> Maneuvers
    4: Wiz
    5: Wiz subclass
    6-10 --> Doesn't really matter much, as the tradeoffs are less significant.
    11: Battlemaster 6/Wizard5

    (vs.)

    1: Fighter
    2: Fighter
    3: Fighter: --> EK subclass
    4: Wiz
    5: Wiz: --> Abjuror or Warmagic
    6: EK4
    7: EK5
    8: EK6
    9: EK7 --> Warmagic. Finally.
    10: Wizard
    11: Wizard [EK7 / Wiz 4]

    In a nutshell, the fun parts of battlemaster happen at level 3 or 5; the fun parts of EK don't show up until much later. Also, the battlemaster build gets third level spells whereas EK does not (Although it does get third level slots.)
    Last edited by LinusDerKleinus; Saturday, 18th May, 2019 at 03:06 PM.

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    Yeah, I think if not building around shadow blade, the advantages of EK are less; the main thing it gives you is a boost to your spell slots, so that you can be taking fighter levels on your way to extra attack instead of pumping levels into wizard for the slots. Haste lets you do what war magic does anyway (booming blade + regular attack), and does it better, since the attack is via the attack action, and so not only leaves your bonus action open, it also procs any bonus action options that require the attack action (e.g., PAM). That's why I'd suggest going to Wizard 5 right after your first fighter level, to get Haste ASAP. In which case, you probably may as well go Battlemaster unless you want the extra spells and slots, even though in that scenario you don't get maneuvers until level 8.

    What is your plan for concentration in the progressions you list?

  7. #7
    That's a great question I had not considered, honestly. The more interesting options right now might be:

    1st Level:
    Fog Cloud √- Situationally helpful, especially if ranged combat is involved.
    Protection from E&G √+ Again, situational, but very good for those times when it is needed. I have no idea if it will be in the current campaign. (Don't tell me!)

    2nd:
    Blur √ (Although mirror image is probably better at doing the same thing)
    Cloud of Daggers √- I can see this being fun with a Battlemaster's push attack
    Dragon's Breath √- Not a serious option, but it's a lot of fun to cast this on a familiar for an extra AOE every turn. The ability to change damage types rocks.
    Reduce/ENLARGE. √+ Here we go.
    Flaming Sphere √ See Cloud of Daggers
    Levitate √- Fun for utility and taking unranged enemies out of the fight. More of a backline caster spell though.
    Shadow Blade √++ REALLY GOOD. Thanks for pointing it out. Gives a fun ranged option that relies on str rather than dex or casting!
    Web √- Another control option, better for full casters

    3rd:
    Fly √+ Duh
    Haste √++ Duh
    Protection from Energy √ Situationally useful, would pick it up for the spellbook if I find a scroll somewhere.
    - And a bunch of other options that I wouldn't bother preparing.


    I'm beginning to come around on Warmagic school vs. Abjuror, btw.

  8. #8
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    If you spend much time fighting in the dark/dim light, it's really hard to beat shadow blade, especially once you get 3rd level slots and can upcast it. Automatic advantage on every attack any time you're in a relatively common environment, more damage than a greatsword, and psychic, to boot. At a 3rd level slot it does nearly as much damage on a hit as a greatsword even with +10 from GWM, and well more once you factor in chance to hit. Oh, yes, and you can throw it; potentially twice in a turn by spending your bonus action in between. I think that, haste, and, situationally, fly, are the melee gish staples.

    I like most of the other spells you list, too, but as you say, most of them are better suited to a full caster controller, due to the opportunity cost (though if you can afford the spells known/prepared it can't hurt to have some of them in your arsenal for times when the full caster is busy concentrating on something more important).

    You won't likely benefit much from fog cloud yourself since you won't be very good at range, and since you're not a rogue, can't dip in, hide, pop out and attack in the same turn.

    Cloud of daggers is great damage for the level if you have a way of keeping the enemy in the zone, maybe via grapples, or with a booming blade rock-and-hard-place situation, etc. But again, probably better suited for someone who doesn't need to be in melee doing weapon damage themselves.

    Blur is better than mirror image for a front-liner if you don't factor in the concentration opportunity cost, since you'll be taking a lot of attacks, and so MI won't last long. Against a horde it may even be worth giving up shadow blade or haste for.
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  9. #9
    Overall it's becoming clear that ek7/warmage 4 is the build to beat out of my considerations. It gives a _lot_ of prepared spells and versatility without sacrificing melee punch. I do think Battlemaster looks fun, but not nearly as strong in the longer run. I'll have to save that for a ranged sniper [BM + Assassin] build.

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    What are the main factors leading you to opt for 7/4 over 6/5? Is it eventually getting war magic? Notice that in the progression you gave above (Fighter 3 --> Wizard 2 --> Fighter 7 --> Wizard 4), you don't get second level spells until level 9, two levels behind a single classed EK, and you don't get an ASI until level 6. That seems rough to me. You get a whole lot of cantrips and 1st level spells by level 4, but how many of those do you really need? There's so much tasty magic at 2nd level for a gish.

    Wouldn't you be better off going Fighter 1 --> Wizard 4 --> Fighter 6 --> ? (assuming you're not planning to use haste)? I realize that this delays your extra attack until level 9 vs level 7, but if you're coming around to using shadow blade regularly, 3d8+4 from SB+BB is more average damage than 2 x (2d6+4), and at levels 7 and 8, for two fights a day you can boost that to 3d8+4+1d8.
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