The Most Powerful Fighter is a Battlerager Fighter

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 11, 2009

It pays to do your homework when building a character. I’ve played some tough characters in my day, but the Battlerager Fighter I played in a recent LFR game was the toughest melee character I’ve ever played. This is one of the character builds I presented in the Characters Who Deal the Most Damage article from last month and after seeing him in action I don’t know why you’d want to play any other kind of Fighter.

Before I began researching class/weapon combinations that deal the most damage, I had no idea how a Battlerager Fighter even worked. So for those who haven’t read the Martial Powers book, here are the pertinent details.

The Battlerager Vigor class feature grants you temporary hit points equal to you Con modifier whenever you’re hit by a melee or close attack. If you take the Dwarf Stoneblood feat, which I of course did since I was playing a Dwarf, then this number is further increased by half of you Con modifier. So if you’ve got an 18 Con then you’re looking at 6 temporary hit points every time you’re hit in melee.

Things really started getting crazy when the attacks were only doing 6 points of damage. So if I already had 6 temp hp and I was hit for 6 damage then my temp hp are reduced to 0 and I don’t take any real damage. But hold on, I just got hit so I regain 6 temporary hit points after the attack is resolved. So I’m back where I started at 6 temp hp. In effect I’ve got Resist 6 to melee and close attacks. If the monsters aren’t hitting that hard, then I have little to fear.

And if you think the ability to mitigate damage is crazy let me tell you about the offensive capabilities of this build. By taking the Dwarven Weapon Training feat he gains proficiency and +2 damage with all axes and hammers. So I armed him with the Execution Axe – in this case an Execution Axe +1, Vicious. So a crit, even with a 1[W] is still going to do 12+1d12 (high crit)+1d12 (Vicious)+appropriate modifiers. Oh, and did I mention that the Execution Axe has a brutal 2 property, so you get to re-roll those annoying 1s and 2s. Using his At-will power Brash Strike gives him an extra +2 to attack and lets him add his Str and Con to damage, as well as the usual damage modifiers. Needless to say, his opponents fell rather quickly.

I only needed to expend one healing surge per combat encounter and that was when I used my Second Wind. Between the never-ending temporary hit points, the use of a really powerful weapon and the incredibly high minimum damage associated with Brash Strike, this build has become my new favourite. I’ve never been that fond of playing Dwarves, but after seeing all the feats and powers suited to this race I look at them with new found respect.

So other than highlighting the sheer power of this build I think this is a great example of why it pays to do some homework when you’re building characters. The Character Builder allows you to make various builds easily and quickly. Take some time to review all of your options before settling on what you think are the best combinations.

1 RPG Ike June 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Yeah, I’ve DMed a dwarven battlerager in my past few 4E sessions and he very nearly broke the session. I managed a narrow TPK at 6th-level by stacking up several frost-zombies doing aura damage, but at 15th-level even Dragonclaws made him chuckle, and he hit back so very hard. Plus the marking! My lord, there was little joy on my side of the screen.

Honestly, and I hope no one takes this as flamebait, but this is exactly the kind of character I wouldn’t want to play. Not because kicking ass isn’t fun—obviously, it is—but because I don’t want to do homework when building a character. I understand the appeal, but powergaming bores me quickly.

Just out of curiosity, Ameron, would you have any fun playing a low-level, low-magic, gritty campaign?
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2 mike June 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Wow man, pretty solid idea, makes me want to try and build one out
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3 Brandon June 11, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Your description sounds a little overpowered to me. Did your character overshadow the other player characters or was everyone about equal? I guess from your description of the Battlerager Fighter, why would I bother with any other type of fighter? I’ll have to look at Martial Power when I get home to see what some of the trade-offs are (if any).

4 Tom June 11, 2009 at 2:23 pm

I’ve seen Battlerage Vigor on the ban list of many DMs. Hopefully Wizards is paying attention.

5 GeekBob June 11, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Hmmm, overpowered as it is, it makes for a great class for an NPC I had in my old 3.5 FR camapign. He was a battlereager dwarf (Dooley Pwent). Players loved having him around.
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6 Shades June 11, 2009 at 3:18 pm

As an experiment I just ran a 11th level Dwarven Battlerager up in the character generator. I built him slightly differently, using an Urgosh and the two-weapon feats, he gets upwards of 18-20 points of static damager per hit depending on equipment and a functional DR of 9 hp. On top of that with the right equipment, he can have a ridiculously high armor class and decent non-Fort defenses (Fort of course is ridiculously high as well).

Busted all to hell.

7 Ameron June 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm

@RPG Ike
My favourite game is one where the characters are low-leveled and low-powered. This levels the playing field and gives you some great advantages over other PCs if you use your head when you create your character. Too often people power game and pump up 1 stat and forsake everything else. The character is really good at just one thing and is shamefully bad at everything else. By creating balanced characters I find I tend to enjoy myself more because I have versatility.

In light of all the comments you may want to check with your DM before you set your heart on playing this build. And thanks for the shout out on your site.

My character was 4th level and the rest of the table was 3rd level. So I expected to have a slight edge over the rest of them, but not nearly to the extent that I did. The only trade off (which I didn’t mention in the article) is that Brash Strike provides the target you just attacked with combat advantage. I found that this was a fair trade off since my opponent didn’t do a lot of damage (some my temp hp protected me) and I dropped him in just a few hits. I was willing to accept that trade off.

I can see why, now that I’ve played one.

I think PCs would be very accepting of an ally with this build. I wonder how accepting they’d be of an opponent with this build.

This is clearly a situation where we’ve found a hole in the rules and are exploiting the hell out of it. Some call it a broken mechanic others call it a chance to destroy everything. I’m leaning more towards the broken mechanic side of this argument.

8 wickedmurph June 11, 2009 at 4:05 pm

I’m a little unsure of how temporary hit points function in this context. Wouldn’t you still take the 6 hp from your regular hp, and THEN gain 6 temporary hp? Could that not, in practical terms, result in the “feeling awesome until you just die” issue?

I didn’t think that temporary HP’s were effectively healing for your character, just the ability to hang in longer than other people, followed by catastrophic system failure. Correct me if I’m wrong here.
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9 GeekBob June 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm

@Wickedmurph: If I undestand Temp HP correctly, first, you can only gain Temp HP (THP) from one source. If another soruce gives you THP, then you can choose to gain them from that source, replacing what you have (Unless the power says otherwise). Plus, I beleive they are added after damage is calculated. So the THP you have would first be gone (Plus any added damage if beyond the THP total), then you’d get more THP.

@Ameron: Not as happy as I would be as a GM ^_^
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10 RPG Ike June 11, 2009 at 5:02 pm

@Ameron: Agreed. I need options and depth in my characters, and your powergamer decription is pretty spot on.

I remember describing my ideal lower-powered campaign on someone’s blog once, and I think they told me they would kill themselves before playing that. I was just curious if if you felt the same way. Thanks!
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11 GeekBob June 11, 2009 at 5:08 pm

@RPG Ike: “To Each Their Own” I always like to say. If that was someone’s opinion, just remember, they’re not playing in that game ^_^. I always find people’s campaign ideas interesting, even if they’re not my cup-o-tea and moreso if I can take some idea away from it.
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12 Shades June 11, 2009 at 5:55 pm

I know I mentioned that the build was busted, and I think I was a little harsh earlier.

I’m not against a well built character, in fact I think a well built character is essential to get the most out of this system. I do have issues with a defender build that can consistently deal more damage than an equivalent level striker while absorning more punishment than most other defenders.

13 Ameron June 12, 2009 at 8:21 am

I agree with GeekBob’s reply. So lets say this Fighter has 60 hp. He takes 6 damage in the first round so he’s down to 54 hp, but as part of this build he now gets 6 temp hp. So the next time he’s hit, the first 6 damage come off of his temp hp. So if he’s hit for 6 hp again he looses all his temp hp, and he’s still at 54 hp. But again, he gains 6 more temp hp after the attack is resolved because of his class feature. So he’s still hurt a bit (the original 6 damage), but new damage keeps coming off of his temp hp first. As long as the new damage is 6 or less with each hit, he won’t go below 54 hp.

Thanks for jumping in.

@RPG Ike
I have no issues with low-powered games. I did play in a game once where the DM didn’t award magic very often and I did feel a bit cheated. But in the end I just looked at it as a role-playing opportunity. I worked on developing the character and not just his gear. It was a lot of fun (eventually).

Agreed. I’ve read a lot of great-sounding ideas on the blogs, some I’d love to play in others not so much, but they were all interesting to read about and they all got me thinking of how to work those ideas into my game.

A defender that essentially works as both a striker and a defender does seem a little bit too overpowered which is what prompted me to write this post in the first place. Thanks for your comment.

14 Hugh September 1, 2009 at 11:29 pm

The build looks really cool Ameron,would there be any chance of seeing the full monty build,starting stats,skills, level by level to 30 ?,I’ve just started a 4E group and we badly need a kick ass fighter.

15 Ameron September 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm

I’d be happy to provide versions of this character at various levels. Of course, with the recent changes to the Battlerager Fighter I don’t know if this character will be quite as tough. (Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still be totally kick-ass.)

We’re planning to post an article in September featuring coo and powerful builds. I’ll see what I can do about getting a really high level version of this PC in there for you.

16 Hugh September 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Thanks, that would be great!. As a newcomer to 4E and RPG’s in general, its really helpful to see builds laid out and mapped for me.

It is, I think, a good way to see how a lot of the powers synergize with each other and how starting stats,feats,ect ,boost and compliment particular builds.

17 chris May 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm

you have to think outside the box with characters like this, loss of hp isnt the only way to die, have someone grapple him in a swamp. even if you have a million temp hp, it only takes a minute to drown.

18 chris May 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm

and doesnt the real hp go before the temp hp, so if he doesnt drink a potion before that temp hp goes away, hes dead?

19 Matt August 14, 2010 at 1:40 am

and nerfed

20 Ego November 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm

For a MUCH better and more powerful combination choose Warforged with Reparation Apparatus.

Now you’re getting an extra 2d6 THP every time you gain some AND you’re getting that 2d6 on top of any powers you have that might heal you (Iron Vanguard Paragon). Literally unstoppable.

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