BEST build tank (level 5) for Unfair

Just sharing my latest build

This is the fight against the 3 Plagued Smilodons. Did it on second try, cos I missed some buffs on first try, and dearly paid for that.

This is Unfair at level 7, you can decide by yourself if this build is viable or not.

My actual build is Vital Strike Flat-Footed melee, but you can choose a different approach since you only need 5 mandatory levels for the best tank ingame, the other 15/35 are free for whatever dps/healing build you want

The build is as follows:

Race: Half-Elf - kindred (22 Charisma)
Background: Whatever. I go for pickpocket cos of +2 Initiative
Stats: 22 Charisma…rest depends on your build choice. I went 14 INT and 16 STR cos I plan to go Vivisectionist (int) Vital Strike Melee (str).
Alignment: Any Lawful
Deity: Non-Atheist

Lvl 1 : Monk - Scaled Fist (Important first pick. If you pick monk later the bonuc AC gets a -1 bug)
Lvl 2 : Oracle - Almost Whatever. Nature’s Whispers for Charisma to AC
Lvl 3 : Witch - Stigmatized. Powerless prophecy (mandatory to avoid alphastike on your tank flat-footed)
Lvl 4-5: Paladin - Almost Whatever. Need Smite Evil and Divine Grace.

So by level 5 you have Insanely high Saves, you’re untouchable and you have 15/35 levels to play whatever class you want

Just a little math on the AC, based ONLY on spells and items you will eventually find in the game

AC 10
Charisma bonus: 20 (Base +12 Bonus +8 Cha head)
Witch: +5 (hex, familiar, ring)
Deflection: +5 (Ring/Spell)
Natural Enchanc: +5 (Ring/Spell)
Armor: +8 (bracers)
Shield: +4 (spell from scroll even)
Enhanchment Armor: +5 (spell)
Enhanchment Shield: +5 (spell)
Haste: +1
Fight Defensively: +4
Dodge +1
Monk Armor: +2 (dodge)

This will give you a net 75 AC with a lvl 5 char with lvl 20 spells.

You can add more items (belt, boots, better monk armor, neck, gloves).
You can add the Mythic buff: Archmage Armor
You can add +10 AC (+5) Deflection on a boss by using Smite Evil
You can add more feats like Crane Wing or Combat Expertise
You can add +10 AC with Smite Chaos from hellknight
You can add up to +14 AC by going Alchemist
and so on…

I honestly think that if you want to make the best possible front-line MC tank you should get these 5 levels, and fill the remaining 15 with whatever you like

You don’t need a tank.

Kinda agree. If you want to reload 10000000 times per fight, or spend 100000000000000000 gold resurrecting half party after every fight…you don’t need a tank

If you play Unfair and want a decent gaming experience without save scumming…you do

there is a guy posting videos on YouTube playing unfair without a tank. Is not impossible BUT, the only way he can manage it (and sometimes he barely do, like the Nabasu fight), is casting 70-80% of his spells before the fight, abusing mechanics (like line of sight), and…MOST IMPORTANT, he has 2 mercenaries (alchemist and Exploiter conjurer). Most of his fight are impossible without a tank and full story group

This is pretty close to the Angel Oracle I’ve used on my last playthrough, minus the witch level. And it was really, really strong - but I would say that depending on where you want to go with the character, a few levels might be in the way of further development. In my case, that would have meant getting the Angel spells later because my spellcasting class is behind by four levels. Because of merged spellbook, these are going to be kind of irrelevant in the longer run. But until then, I am not sure if I want to pick up some of the stuff a little later. Or, for example, get my Animal Companion a bit earlier.

You could pick Powerless Prophecy with a mythic feat onto your Oracle with the added bonus of not being staggered during the first round.

Regarding Paladin: you can pick Divine Guardian and use Troth on yourself, provided that’s still possible, but I am not sure whether the +4 AC will only be on the first attack or not.

You also don’t “need” a group, or a healer, or actually to play the game at all, so you don’t need anything. “Need” does not enter into it - you can make do without basically any particular thing. I’ve played this and it definitely has utility.

Consider this. I’m 400+ hours in the game, and lvl 7 is the highest I got. I like to restart again and again with new classes till I find the right one

What you say is true but there’s a problem with some assumptions you’re making.

You could pick Powerless Prophecy with a mythic feat onto your Oracle with the added bonus of not being staggered during the first round.

You get your first Mythic level on lvl 6. Until level 6, Without powerless Prophecy you get 1-shotted at the start of every fight. Since this build is (most of the times) going for -7 dex (thanks to oracle buff), you’ll never be first on initiative, and on Unfair it measn you get a 40-80 dmg arrow on you at lvl 2. A barbarian hitting you for 120 dmg on lvl 3 and so on.
This build is great (imo) becasue it makes a great tank starting from Act1 to the end, and allows you to go your own route from lvl 6 onward

Mythic levels are not required to be strong.

And as for spells…well…you COULD go caster but, going for a caster build is not the best idea for a melee tank :grin:. So totally right with that. If you want a caster, do not pick this build.

Animal companions are a nice addition, but, since you do not need them to tank, because of this build, even if you get them later on, is not really an issue

No, I got all of that. I played almost this character to level 19, but on Hard, and I did have the problem of getting ganged up on because of the low initiative. You can circumvent this problem a good deal by letting the enemy come to you, so you don’t get full attacks in the first round. Yes, Archers will be a problem, but they are also going to be a problem if you aren’t flatfooted and they just shoot someone else instead. You could also just pick Powerless Prophecy directly with your Oracle instead of with the Witch. And it is not without cost - being staggered is annoying. It can IMO be circumvented, but as far as I know not during the first couple of levels.

Um, I really don’t think that is the case. You’re going to push CHA anyway, and with merged spellbook, you’re still going to end up with level 9 spells sooner than non-merged full casters. And divine self-buffs are really nice on this character. Angel spells also mostly don’t need too many magic feats to be effective.

Just to be sure, I 100% agree that this is a nice build. I just wanted to mention that, depending on what you go for overall, you might want to switch around the order a bit. Or not.

You would kinda want to take Abundant Smite mythic feat if you want to get more out of your Smite though.

And to add on the Powerless prophecy thing: if you really go merged spellbook you can pick up Pranked and get Mirror Image as a spell. The disadvantage of another -4 initiative doesn’t make that much of a difference at this point, and that spell does also alleviate the flat-footed problem a bit. Your build would get two curses anyway.

You get powerless on oracle not even witch…sure you get some more ac if you still dip witch but it’s not needed in the long run.

Best is 13 Divine Guardian/ 1 SF / 1 Oracle / 1 HellKnight / 4 Mutation Warrior

For a merc paladin tank with mark of justice.

Witch level maybe feel nice early for the iceplant etc AC but slows down paladin progression too much. And is a malus on attack bonus.

And anyways if you have a glory domain cleric to boost this tank’s charisma you don’t need witch.

This build gives you the highest AC you may want by level 5. So not really useful comparing it to a lvl 20 build.

Th Witch dip is necessary for being able to use some scrolls (like Shield), and 5 AC for free in Act1 and 2 is HUGE.

As for powerless Prophecy…true you get it from oracle, but you NEED it to survive Act 1. If you walk toward enemies, all of them will target you, even archers and you will be able to survive everything they throw at you. If you are flat-footed you’re going to reload every time an archer get more initiative than you.

And @ Icarus, yap you can go divine caster as you say and use the amazing self buffs…but THAT is why i think this build is amazing. I don’t kinda like going Angel, I want to go Legend and Alchemist…and guess what…with this build you can do both :D:D

Oh, and also, if you do have a Paladin in your group, he can put Bestow Grace on this character, so you don’t need two levels of Paladin here to get CHA on saves (other advantages nonwithstanding). And since that Paladin is probably a frontliner, you also get less value out of your Smite as long as you can’t put two identical Smites on the same creature. Probably still worth it, though. You could also slap Hellknight on later for another source of Smite (Armor Training kinda wasted though).

And @Soulgix : Yeah. But I kinda wanted to reach Aegis of the Faithful ASAP and get my shield spell from there. I ran a lot of other melees without shield, so I sacrificed some early-game advantage for it for getting group benefit a little earlier.

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Or you could just play better.

Designing for the exception is poor design, and that Smilo fight is exceptional.

Most of the tough fights involve a boss with very high AB/AC along with several adds with much lower. For those fights you’re better off giving your melee enough AC to avoid the adds while debuffing/disabling/distracting the boss, or in many cases just ganking it while it’s trying to cast. That’s very doable up to Hard with any party and yes on Unfair it requires some planning regarding team makeup, especially to deal with nat 20s. But I’m doing it with one Battle Scion Merc on my first try. It’s probably doable with just straight companions.

The Smilo fight is exceptional because it features three or four foes with those high AB/AC (for level seven at least), they have five full attacks each, they don’t waste time trying to cast, and they’re resistant to most control. At least they made them Evil now which helps a lot.

If you insist on doing that fight at level 7 on Unfair (there’s no quest involved and the rewards are relatively meager) you’re better off attacking their Reflex Saves and using Difficult Terrain rather than gimping your whole build trying to tank them.

It’s the conventional wisdom so yes most people start out with the assumption that tank, spank, and heal is a given.

It isn’t.

Uh, yes, it kinda is. I can count the number of bosses that I couldn’t tank with my character on Hard on one hand, so I’d wager that a character with 5 AC more could do it on Unfair. And he still was a monstrosity AB and damage-wise and could dish out 9th level spells earlier than the other pure casters, so it’s not as if I lost much by it. His character can do the same, whether by Angel merged spellbook or by Legend 40 levels.

Didn’t try in-fight healings though. My Angel can cast Heals as a swift action, but this isn’t even necessary a lot of the time. On Unfair I’d guess it’s probably ineffective regardless.

But I would say that having a tank beats not having a tank if you don’t pay too much for it. It’s not as if this somehow prevents him from doing group tactics, or smart play, or summon spam, or anything. He can still do all that and enjoy the benefits of negating enemy attacks by just standing there.

Ya…still thinking middle end-game with Aegis of the Faithful.

Surviving Act1 (killing all optional bosses Nabasu included), and Act 2 (Smilodons and other optiona bosses included), was my main focus

Oh…and btw…being able to tank those 3 Smilodns at lvl 7, on my second try, shows how my build is EXTREMELY STRONG, and not really gimped

I would point out that, not being able to tank those Smilodons at level 7, shows how your build is extremely gimped and not really working

Then, on Unfair…you CANT just

For those fights you’re better off giving your melee enough AC to avoid the adds while debuffing/disabling/distracting the boss, or in many cases just ganking it while it’s trying to cast.

Simply because every single enemy will have enough AB to single hit/kill every member of your party, even if he’s not a “boss”.
Simply because you cannot debuff/disable/distract a boss with 15+ saves (on Act1) who resists or is immune to everything you throw at him.
Simply because a boss with 150/200 hp, cannot be killed while he is casting, because in Act 1 you cannot do that much damage in 1-2 rounds.

I assume that everything from “Oh…” is a reply to Desiderius?

Yes, this is all blooming later than your design. And early is probably when you need this the most. But for me, the Angel spells are just so convenient that I try to get them as soon as I can, provided I can get through the earlier levels regardless. If I notice that the design without Witch isn’t tanky enough on Unfair, I will keep that option in mind.

But really, I don’t see what you lose out on this concept. Tanking is basically free in a fight for a frontliner, since you need to close distance anyway. After that, you don’t pay in actions for the tanking. It’s like CCing the guys that attack you by standing next to them, provided you’re good enough that you don’t need a lot of actions to maintain the tanking with healing of buffing.

Another thing I just noticed that this will allow the Witch to provide the Mage Armor spell for Archmage Armor. Which was kinda annoying on my build, having to rely on potions and scrolls for it. Starts sounding better and better, actually. And I could actually pick up three curses.

But OP is paying too much for it.

And yeah my Aldori Defender/Swordlord is getting close to being able to tank Unfair bosses without giving up anything so it could also be doable. But boss fights still play out a lot differently than the Smilo fight if you do it early.

Archmage Armor has a massive opportunity cost though.

I still don’t understand how in the world you want to take that, especially early, instead of developing your class and Mythic Path.

There are great armors and Mythics that let you do unique things. Why are people so reluctant to play the game?

Doing things you don’t need to do isn’t extremely strong.

It lets me do something - well, not unique, but still pretty unusual - it lets me occupy bosses for more than two rounds without action costs. Summons don’t hold out long and are unreliable, Last Stand holds for only two rounds, CC needs to get through enemy resistances and costs actions. Dispel needs a successful check and an action too. Tanking, if you get the numbers high enough, just works like 95% of the time.

Also, it gives you a good option in case you do screw up. I don’t know about other people, but I have serious concentration issues at the moment. And in case I make a mistake, this character can close down an approaching enemy just by moving there.
For example, on my blind Hard run, I underestimated how hard the AC ramp was on enemies. I had this problem in Blackwater when I managed to blow all my WIL targeting abilities and Ember managed to miss with all her hexes against an enemy despite his WIL save being his weakness. So I was left with no option to disable the guy. So I moved my main close to him and beat his AC the hard way while he was flailing away at my tank.
Other example: the dragon in Wintersun village. Again, I was unprepared as to how high his AC would be, and the only effective touch spell I had on me was Enervation. I managed to hold him by tanking the guy while my crew mopped up everyone else, especially that hyper throwing axe guy that casts Mirror Image every round, before ganging up on the dragon. He had about 17 negative levels at the time. Quite suboptimal, yes. But shit happens. And when it does, tanking is a great fallback option.

Yeah, the loss of armor in the slot annoyed me quite a bit. But even with the best armor you won’t come close to the numbers this build is going to give you, and on Unfair, I want my stuff to be as reliable as possible. The enemies where you do need it are the enemies where this is most useful. Also, I think blowing one mythic feat isn’t so much of a cost. And even if I did, I could simply go Waves Oracle and pick up Ice Armor to save on the mythic feat.

In short: I played the game and found this to be quite effective in almost every circumstance. Whether I screwed up and needed it to deal with a boss or I simply employed it as part of my strategy.

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Support/ tank paladin is valuable as a party member on unfair. But what you are ultimately going for is “mark of justice” (lvl 11 paladin) because that makes the paladin smite ability a party wide buff to attack and hit stuff.

My point was that dipping too much delays you getting the level 11 levels of paladin …which you really need by the time act 4 starts and enemy difficulty ramps up. If you think smilos are hard…lol act 4 will be a wake up. There you will need party wide smite or party wide true strike (sensei) to hit stuff with your martial characters.

And while witch is tempting to splash in early for that extra 5 AC in the long run for the overall build it will be more harm than good.

Smilos can be killed by webbing them and nuking them in several rounds.

Even without the witch level by level 16+ you will get to 85AC+ on Pala/oracle/SF which is all you need not to get hit.

If you do splash in witch…at least go 2 witch/ 4 DD because I guess those dragon disciple levels help on a martial frontliner.

Something like 11 Paladin or Divine Guardian ( group smite) / 1 SF monk /1 Oracle / 1 Hellknight (more smites) / 2 Stigmatized / 4 DD

But AFAIK topic starter wants to play as gish oracle, then more than 2 paladin is unneded.