New Cleric Options

This article is related to the new Strength Cleric options posted on the D&D website last month.  We discussed these options in a recent podcast episode.

Related article: Battle Cleric Options

Related podcast: Episode 14

There was a great article that came out while I was on vacation detailing some new options for Strength-based clerics.  This is a build type that has been in need of some love for a while, so it’s nice to see they finally got it.

Class Features

Battle Cleric’s Lore (replaces Healer’s Lore, which lets you add Wis to your surge-heals): Gives you a +2 shield bonus to AC (leaving you free to use 2-handers), proficiency with scale (clerics normally only get chain), and when you surge-heal someone, they get a +2 unnamed bonus to attack rolls until the end of your next turn.

On a scale of 1 to amazing, this gets an amazing.

Channel Divinity Powers

Normally, clerics get two channel divinity powers: divine fortune (which gives you a +1 to the next attack roll or saving throw you make before the end of your turn; pretty worthless) and turn undead (only useful versus undead, obviously).

In Divine Power, clerics got healer’s mercy, which is a standard action AOE heal that weakens you for a turn.  Not optimal for Strength clerics since you’re trying to do damage, but still better than turn undead in most situations.

In this new article, Strength clerics get a Strength-based anti-undead power as an alternative to turn undead.  Most clerics will stick with healer’s mercy, but if you’re in an undead-heavy campaign, you might consider this alternative.

The real star here is an alternative to divine fortune: favor of the gods.  This is a minor action that lets you choose an ally within 3 squares and let that ally reroll the attack roll the next time they miss before the end of your next turn.  This is good to pop off on someone you know is going to be using a big daily or AOE effect, so even though it’s not a reactive reroll, it’s still way better than divine fortune.

Attack Powers

There are two styles of attack powers in the article: powers that require you to use simple weapons, and powers that give you a bonus if you use a simple weapon.

So which weapons are simple?  Normally a Strength cleric would be using a big two-hander like fullblade (+3, d12, high crit), mordenkrad (+2, 2d6 brutal 1), or execution axe (+2, d12 brutal 2, high crit).  Let’s compare these to your options for a 2-handed simple weapon, keeping in mind that using a simple weapon also saves you a feat:

  • Morningstar (+2, d10)
  • Greatclub (+2, 2d4)
  • Quarterstaff (+2, d8)
  • Scythe (+2, 2d4)

Of these, the highest damage option (though not by much) would be the morningstar.  You might consider the quarterstaff if only because the Staff Expertise feat gives you +1 reach with melee attacks.

To give you an idea of why using simple weapons with the new powers might not be so bad, let’s take a look at the at-wills.  We’ll assume we’re using a quarterstaff, just to see how the damage stacks up.

Battle Cleric’s Weapon Mastery
At-Will * Divine, Weapon
Standard Action, Melee weapon
Requirement: You must use this power with a simple weapon.
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength + 1 vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + 2 + Strength modifier damage.
Level 21: 2[W] + 4 + Strength modifier damage.
Weapon: If you’re wielding your weapon with both hands, you gain a +2 bonus to the damage roll.

Compare this to a basic attack with a fullblade: same attack bonus, and d12+Str versus d8+4+Str.  In this case, this power is strictly better in terms of damage.  Compared to, say, execution axe, the difference is d12+Str (brutal 2) versus d8+4+Str, and this power is still slightly ahead (and more accurate!).

The downside is that this power doesn’t do anything else.  Let’s look at the other new at-will:

Weapon of Divine Protection
At-Will * Divine, Weapon
Standard Action, Melee weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + Strength modifier damage.
Level 21: 2[W] + Strength modifier damage.
Weapon: If you’re wielding a simple weapon, the attack deals 1d6 extra damage.
Effect: Until the end of your next turn, your allies gain a +2 power bonus to all defenses while adjacent to you.

With this power, we lose the extra accuracy, and trade 4 bonus damage for a d6 of bonus damage (which is approximately the same), and gain an effect that is sort of mediocre in my book.  I don’t really see a reason to use this power over Battle Cleric’s Weapon Mastery.

The article also has several encounter powers that are very similar to these at-wills: either you must use a simple weapon, but you get more accuracy and higher damage, or you can use whatever weapon you want (which is nice for people who are attached to their mordenkrads), but you get a damage bonus if you happen to be using a simple weapon.

The encounter powers have some nice effects to them, but rather than listing them all out, here are my favorites:

  • Effect: Until the end of your next turn, you and each ally within 3 squares of you can make attacks against the target’s lowest defense, instead of the defense normally targeted by that attack.  [Comment: This is a really nice bonus to the team, and could translate into a pretty high attack bonus depending on the target.]
  • Target: One or two creatures within melee range, Hit: 1[W]+Strength and dazed until the end of your next turn.  [Comment: This is huge.  On my level 21 cleric, I was still using a level 3 encounter power that dazed one target!  Also, this is one of the ones usable with any kind of weapon, and does +1d6 with a simple.]
  • Effect: Until the end of your next turn, you and your allies gain a +1 power bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls against the target. In addition, whenever you or one of your allies within 3 squares of you is hit or missed by an enemy’s attack, this bonus increases by 1, to a maximum bonus of +5.  [Comment: Depending on the fight, this could add up to be a pretty big bonus.  Also, you probably want to delay in the initiative order until right before the monsters so as to crank this up as much as possible.]

So in conclusion, Strength cleric got a lot more cool options and flexibility.  Hooray!

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4 Responses to New Cleric Options

  1. Aaron says:

    You honestly can’t see a reason to use Weapon of Divine Protection of Battle Cleric’s Weapon Mastery? Really? Are we playing the same game?

    A +2 bonus to all defenses on an effect line is excellent for an at-will. You’re playing a Battle Cleric, so you’re already on the front lines – or maybe just behind it, with a Staff and Staff Expertise! – so you’ll be adjacent to your defender and some of your melee strikers a lot of the time. A flat +2 bonus to all defenses is amazing for your defender, and it might (or might not) save you from having to throw another Healing Word on Mr. Suicide Ranger.

    Battle Cleric’s Weapon Mastery makes you a better (yet still poor) striker, I guess? Clearly we have differing opinions on what we want from our leaders.

    • James Hamblin says:

      It’s +2 to defenses for people adjacent to you. So to use it on the defender would mean that your party has at least 3 melee: your defender, you, and someone else that you can flank with. Because if my choices are to give the defender +2 to defenses or to give myself +2 to hit, I’m going for +2 to hit every time. But again I think this speaks to the aggressive way I play.

      • Aaron says:

        Indeed. It may be worth noting that I’ve played very, very flew strikers, but have loved playing Defenders (the swordmage is my all-time favorite class from any class-based system) and Controllers the most, with leader a moderately-enjoyed 3rd place.

  2. Aaron says:

    Gah, heat-induced typos. First sentence should read “You honestly can’t see a reason to use Weapon of Divine Protection *over* Battle Cleric’s Weapon Mastery?

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