Exploiting Racial and Class Abilities: Dwarven Resilience

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on April 27, 2011

The ability to heal your character without assistance from the party cleric was one of the biggest changes in 4e Dungeons & Dragons. It gave every character the opportunity to recover from a devastating attack by themselves. In the category of healing themselves, none are better than the Dwarf. Now, I’ve already stated the Dwarves Are The Best Raceand today I want to examine their defining racial feature: Dwarven Resilience.

Second Wind is a great ability allowing an player to use a standard action to heal. However, let’s be honest, no one likes to use their standard action for anything but rolling dice on an attack power. As a player I feel slightly cheated when I use my second wind. I recognize that it’s a tactical decision, but I would rather be using my standard action for attacking and rolling dice!

This is why Dwarves are so great, they can use Second Wind as a minor action. This is why they have the best racial power. There is no need to give up offense on the same round that they take a defensive action. The key to maximizing this racial power is to increase the value of your healing surge. As a result while the options presented here make Dwarven Resilience a more powerful option, they also make your character more efficient at healing in general.

Best In Class

There is no one class that best enhances the Dwarven Resilience racial feature. Instead you are looking for any class that has an emphasis on Constitution. Simply put, you are trying to maximize your potential hit point pool and therefore your healing surge value. The defender role provides a high hit point pool and several other classes have Constitution as a primary or secondary attribute including the Druid, Invoker and Warlock.

The Dreadnaught paragon path is one of the best for this build as it increases your maximum hit points by 10. This paragon path requires the Fighter as a prerequisite.

The Right Feats

There are numerous feats that affect your healing surge value or that are keyed off the use of your healing surge.

Shared Vitality (Heroic)

This feat might seem like an odd choice to be placed into a post about gaining the greatest benefit from the Dwarven Resilience racial power. However, most Dwarves have a decent amount of healing surges. This feat allows the character to use their healing surge to heal another player. It allows your Dwarf to act as a pseudo healer every encounter. If you are playing a leader, it is like adding another usage of Healing Word (minus the extra healing dice).

Toughness (Heroic)

Five extra hit points per tier. More hit points means a larger healing surge value.

Durable (Heroic)

While durable doesn’t add to your hit point pool or your total hit points gained, having two extra healing surges is nothing to scoff at. If you are playing a controller or a striker who isn’t good at keeping out of trouble, this feat is almost mandatory.

Redoubled Efforts (Heroic)

Rather than gaining the normal defensive bonus when you use your second wind action, you gain a +2 to attack. Perfect for the Fighter who wants an added edge before making their attack.

Dwarven Recovery (Paragon)

This feat requires the martial role and it allows a +5 to saving throws until the end of your next turn when you use your second wind.

Improved Second Wind (Paragon)

This feat heals 5 extra hit points when you use your second wind. It may not seem like a lot of extra healing, but there are occasions when every hit point counts.

Epic Recovery (Epic)

This feat has some potentially steep prerequisites. A 19 Constitution and a martial class. It allows you to use your second wind twice in one encounter. Now normally you might not want to give up two standard actions, but as a Dwarf you can use Dwarven Resilience to gain one use as a minor action. The other usage still counts as a standard action.

Stoneheart Warrior (Epic)

This feat is simply outstanding and is only available to Dwarves who select a martial class. Use your second wind as a free action. It doesn’t get much better than that. If you have taken Epic Recovery it is two free uses of your second wind. Epic Recovery and Stoneheart Warrior should be the feats selected at level 21 and 22 respectively for any dwarf who is playing a martial class.

Are You Skilled Enough

If you are planning on improving your ability to heal then training in Endurance is a must. The reason is the many healing-based utility skill powers that become available to you. The key to making the best out of Dwarven Resilience is having a high healing surge value, it makes sense to maximize your ability to use that healing.

Third Wind (level 6)

This daily utility power allows you spend a healing surge as a minor action. There are no other prerequisites for this action. It essentially lets everyone else pretend to be a dwarf.

Reactive Surge (level 10)

When you become bloodied you can spend a healing surge as an immediate reaction.

The Best Tools

Equipment selection can have a large impact on your ability to heal. There are a few items that are geared towards healing. For a complete list of items read Brave Warrior, Heal Thyself. You’ll complete the read with a new appreciation of how to create a self-sustaining Fighter. Below is the one key piece of equipment you should consider obtaining to enhance the value of the Dwarven Resilience racial power.

Cloak of the Walking Wounded

When you use your second wind, you can spend two healing surges. It’s an item most players are aware of and as a result I don’t think too much extra commentary is required on this item.

When playing a Dwarf is Dwarven Resilience just another nice option available to you? Or do you look for ways to use this power beyond the ability to simply heal yourself?

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1 Lahrs April 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

I personally feel dwarves are one of the best races overall for the majority of classes, but I do not believe building a character around second wind is a worthy investment. For four of the feat slots you chose to improve your healing surge values, I would rather use the same feat slots for improved defenses, iron will, lightning reflexes and superior fortitude for a +7 to NADs by Epic. You can increase the NAD’s an addition 4 each by taking the epic versions of the individual improved defenses, which would use all seven of your improved healing surge slots, but gives an impressive +11 to NAD’s. I think it is much better to not be hit than to moderately improve the healing surge value or number of surges. Besides, it is the healers job to heal, the second wind should be a panic button, not a focus.

I do believe Shared Vitality is a great option for a dwarf, even if one is not a primary healer. The extra flexibility for one feat is great.

Taking the level 10 Reactive Surge encounter power (utility), which you mentioned in the end, is honestly all you should need to add for a second free use of a healing surge. Between Reactive Surge and Dwarven Resilience, any non-healing class using Dwarf as a race should be set.

2 Liam Gallagher April 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

One quality that makes the second wind build so good is that you will always reap 100% of it’s benifits since you will never need to make an attack roll, worry about save modifers or resistances when you’re healing your self. You will never use your second wind and feel as though you’ve wasted it.

3 Alton April 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I do like playing a Dwarf once and awhile. I love the resilience as well as the stand your ground class feature. I do agree with Lars that I would not base my build around Second Wind use. However, the character concept provided here is a good outlet for those that do not like to play leaders, but still want to be able to hold their own in the heat of combat.

4 Al April 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm

A couple that you may consider from essentials:

1) Swift Recovery – Add +3/4/5 (depending on tier) to your PCs Surge value.

2) Disciple of Stone – Gain 5/7/10 (depending on tier) temp. hit points when you spend a healing surge.

5 Wimwick April 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm

@ Lahrs
Improved Defenses and the other options you mentioned don’t stack, but I do get the arguement. I’m a fan of those feats as well. What I like about these feats is that you only need a few of them to make a difference. While it is the healers job to heal, 2 healing word powers can get consumed fairly quickly if a party isn’t working well together or if the dice are against you.

@ Liam Gallagher
I agree, you can’t miss or screw up second wind. Which makes it a great thing to get some additional benefit from.

@ Alton
Stand your ground is another great racial feature. There are few items that can help improve it as well.

@ Al
Thanks for providing a few more options to the build. Both are solid suggestions.

6 benensky April 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Great article. Many good tips. Fun to read. I need to stop back at this blog more often.

7 Seth April 27, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I’m surprised you didn’t make specific mention of the Warden as a class that makes best use of Second Wind. It may be because you’re focused on some martial feats which boost Second Wind, but every Warden build turns your Resilience into a minor action buff or debuff. With Lifespirit, it even functions as a superior Healing Word.

Even before the ability adjust revision that lets you stack Con and Str with one, I’ve basically considered Warden a primarily dwarven class. Most other characters would have a hard time justifying the use of a standard action to get an AC boost or a shift to some targets; doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t make the sacrifice sometimes, but the mindset of players generally eschews losing a standard for such purposes. That means that the Warden features are usually an additional consequence of the player having to take their second wind; but in a role-filled party, keeping the defender up and healthy is usually the leader’s primary focus anyway, so Second Winds don’t come up so much.

Dwardens, however, can substantially increase the value of both their race and class through the combination.

8 Andrew April 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

You forgot the Dwarven Durability feat. Another 2 surges (I think) and some other benefit too (again, I think).

I built a Lv. 12 Dwarf Fighter with 20 healing surges once.

9 Rico April 28, 2011 at 2:07 am

Another great piece of equipment is Dwarven Armor. As a Daily power, it allows you (as a free action) to regain hit points without expending a surge (essentially it grants a free healing surge).

10 obryn April 28, 2011 at 11:31 am

You missed the best one – Resilience of Stone, which lets your Dwarf (or even dwarf-blooded mul) use their Second Wind as an immediate reaction to taking damage. Heroic tier, too.

11 Camelot April 29, 2011 at 12:16 am

The mindset that using your second wind is “wasting your standard action” bothers me. I love 4e’s combat design, but it’s overall design irks me because, I hate to say it, almost everything is geared towards combat. Lately I’ve been playing more Star Wars Saga Edition, in which there’s an entire class, the Noble, who’s talents rarely ever increase combat power, but provide other solutions to defeating enemies, such as scaring them away, making them weaker so you don’t have to be stronger, and even having money to buy better equipment and bribe your way out of trouble.

I think if D&D had a wider variety of mechanical focuses, fighting defensively could be condisered just as good a strategy as dealing damage.

12 Sokket May 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm

While many classes do benefit from Dwarven Reslience, the answer to which class benifits best is easy. Warden. Not only does the warden benefit from having one of the highest health pools in the game, the class boons are focused around the second wind. Increased defenses and damage for the turn after a second wind coupled with dwarven resilience amounts to two incredibly powerful attacks (three with an action point) and an intervening round of nigh invulnerabilty for a dwarf warden. Try building a dwarf warden up to even level 12 focused on self healing. You’re looking at a character who can take over 250 points of damage before dying, without the assistance of a leader healing his or her back.

13 Eli July 16, 2011 at 2:37 am

another good feat is timely respite, a heroic tier feat from the PHB 2, which allows you to get a saving throw whenever you 2nd wind or total defense

personally, as a fighter, i don’t want Resilience of Stone, since I’d rather use my minor then my immediate, which I need to punishment threat

some more items that can boost 2nd wind functionality are:
armor of durability [AV 40] which increases surge value by the enhancement
parry gauntlets; gives a +2 item bonus to defenses when you take total defense or 2nd wind [stacks with backbone belt!]
belt of blood [av 164] which increases your surge value while bloodied by your con mod
backbone belt [av163] which increases the 2nd wind defense bonus to +4

14 Eli July 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

lots of good feats in Heroes of the Fallen Lands;
swift recovery; add +3 to healing surge value

disciple of justice; when you use your 2nd wind, you can heal an adjacent ally that amount instead of healing yourself
[note – compared to shared vitality; SR requires cha 13 and being adjacent; SV requires divine class and worshiping moradin, range 5… SV seems a little better, but requirements for SR are less focused]

disciple of light; when you spend a healing surge while bloodied, every ally in 5 gains 3 temp hp, increasing by tier

disciple of stone; when you spend a healing surge, gain 5 temp hp, increasing by tier

disciple of str: when you 2nd wind, gain a +5 power bonus to the damage of your next melee attack

disciple of wild: when you use your 2nd wind, you can shift 3 squares as a free action

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