A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Default Paying Your (Feat) Taxes: In what order?

    I'm on a 4E nostalgia kick, and thinking through characters with fairly limited play experience makes me wonder - what order in practice and in play should one pay their "feat taxes"?

    Most builds you find in old CharOp threads start from a place of being Level 11, or 30, and thus having all the feats/items/retraining you need. That's great for theorycraft, but what about starting at 1 and playing to <wherever the campaign ends>? I've noticed as I pore over old guides that very few of them talk about what matters at level 1 versus level 5 versus level 11.

    This is all still hypothetical, so let's take a real character I'm itching to play if I can find a group willing and walk through it.

    The gameplan is "The Invisible Tank": A Swordmage that multiclasses Wizard to go for Unseen Mage (AP) as its Paragon Path.

    • This character wants to be a Fey race to take Fey Shift in Epic and have some racial Invisibility powers in Heroic tier, so they will be a Gnome or a Pixie and thus have no bonus feats.
    • This character will have to take Learned Spellcaster at some point before 11th to qualify for Unseen Mage as their Paragon Path. That leaves them 5 feats to take in Heroic Tier. Key feat taxes for a Swordmage are Intelligent Blademaster and an Expertise Feat. Less critical in heroic is Improved Defenses.
    • A Pixie also 110% needs to take Teeny Target as it's the only real reason to take the race over Gnome imo, and leans towards wanting Skill Power sooner rather than later, since they'll need to burn one of their Utilities known on Pixie Invisibility. A Charger/Assault Specialist would also want Streak of Light but my lean is Shielding.
    • Gnomes may want Magic of the Mists although it feels like overkill to me. Ditto Armored Warrenguard as it is worse than Improved Swordmage Warding.
    • Neither character hates taking Aegis Vitality, Skill Training: Stealth, Toughness, Improved Swordmage Warding, Resilient or Improved Initiative but those are what I'd call "luxury" feats more than essential ones.


    That's a long list of feats, but again the question of the day is not necessarily "what are the best feats" but "which of these is the most impactful at Level 1"? Do you take Expertise right away since it's gonna be awful tough to start with a 20 Int Post-racial with this builds' lack of secondary racial bonus (regardless of build although my lean is Shielding)? Do you take Intelligent Blademaster to have a MBA with some teeth? As a Pixie, do you prioritize Teeny Target as the overall largest defensive bonus you can buy?

    I know some of that is Build/Campaign specific, and that many DMs will give free Expertise and/or Improved Defenses, but to summarize my rambling: When starting at 1st, what feat tax/math fix do you pay first? Both generally, and for this build specifically.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Default Re: Paying Your (Feat) Taxes: In what order?

    Expertise can wait a few levels for establishing fundamental capabilities; your hit bonus starts out "correct" and doesn't begin falling behind enemy defenses until mid heroic. IMO Defenders must have a competent OA, and to me that means Intelligent Blademaster is your shoo-in L1 pick. By the time you hit L2 you'll know a lot more about your team's tactics and playstyle and what you've been seeing from your DM and that will help you decide the order on your remaining feats.

    edit to add: to speak generally, most builds need a feat (or some feats) to establish fundamental capabilities or shore up critical weaknesses and those are the ones that come first. E.g. most Wizards should lead with Enlarge Spell (Enchanters take Orb Expertise instead, and they do it for the forced movement bonus more than for the +1), a lot of strikers and defenders need to establish their melee basic, an Elemental Spirit Shaman takes Spirit of Vigor since that's one of the big draws to that specialty, etc.
    Last edited by tiornys; 2021-08-18 at 11:38 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Dimers's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Paying Your (Feat) Taxes: In what order?

    Quote Originally Posted by tiornys View Post
    Expertise can wait a few levels for establishing fundamental capabilities; your hit bonus starts out "correct" and doesn't begin falling behind enemy defenses until mid heroic.
    That said, attack bonus being high generally makes a game more fun, because hitting is what makes stuff happen. So for most characters, prioritize Expertise over defensive tax feats. Even more so when you're talking about Improved Defenses in particular -- attacks are more likely to target AC than F+R+W in early heroic IME, so Improved Defenses takes a long time to start paying off.

    For this particular situation, a pixie defender might well prioritize Teeny Target over Expertise -- a potentially bigger boost to defenses than Improved Defenses is, and adding defenses lets most defenders do their job better. But for the gnome build, I'd still definitely take Expertise ahead of Improved Defenses.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Kurald Galain's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: Paying Your (Feat) Taxes: In what order?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawk7915 View Post
    I'm on a 4E nostalgia kick, and thinking through characters with fairly limited play experience makes me wonder - what order in practice and in play should one pay their "feat taxes"?
    Generally speaking, any feat that gives you an active ability (e.g. Skill Power) is a higher priority than any feat that gives you a flat bonus. That said, Intelligent Blademaster is arguably in this category.
    Any bonus to offense is a higher priority than any bonus to defense.
    Any feat that gives only a +1 bonus can wait until it gives a +2 instead.

    Sort your feats based on that, HTH. Generally speaking, I take expertise in late heroic, and any other feat taxes in late paragon.
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