View Full Version : [4E] Fighters and Stances

2008-08-03, 06:19 AM
While thumbing through the PHB's fighter powers, I started looking over the various stances that sporadically appeared at various levels. For those who haven't looked at stances, they're essentially self-buffs. All the ones in the PHB are a minor action to activate and last through the entire encounter. Also, you can only be in one stance at once. Activating another stance ends the first.

This means three things:

If you choose a lot of stances, you reduce your ability to "Nova". Only one stance per encounter will do you any good - if you have more, they need to wait until the next encounter to make use of them effectively.

Stances need to be used early in order to be most effective. They last the entire encounter and improve you in various ways so if you want to use them, use them in the first round. If you take a lot of stances, you can safely use one per encounter and let them carry you through the fight.

They're incredibly efficient. Just activating a stance is a minor action which means you can still use an at-will so you're always doing a decent amount of damage (the at-will + the stance's damage). The more enemies you add, and the longer a fight goes on the better stances become.

In the Fighter list, there were some Utility Stances - mostly minor effects - and some Daily Stances. It's the Daily Stances that I'm most interested in; each one turns the Fighter into a Hero. There are scant few powers that can compare to the stances for pure damage potential.

Even the lowest stance, Rain of Steel at level 5, sweeps aside minions adjacent to you automatically and adds another swing of your sword to any enemy tougher than that. Per round. For the whole combat. If you're surrounded completely and have that stance up, you do 8[w] + whatever else you used on your turn. Woe betide if you're mounted and are surrounded.

The Fighter's Daily Stances are as follows:

Rain of Steel (level 5)
A very simple stance. Merely inflicts 1[W] to any enemy that starts next to you (poor minions...). Like all stances, it's a minor action to activate so feel free to swing with an at-will for some more damage in the same turn. Crack the Shell and Dizzying Blow do have some status effects, but damage-wise they're trumped almost in the first round alone. If there are more enemies than just one around you, then Rain of Steel blows them away...and it'll keep adding more damage for the whole fight.

Unyielding Avalanche (level 15)
Arguably the best stance a Fighter has, Unyielding Avalanche turns you into a DEFENDER (yes, in all caps). It grants regeneration equal to your con mod, and a small bonus to AC and Saving Throws. And last but not least, it strikes everyone who starts next to you for 1[W] just like Rain of Steel...except those people are slowed too! Sweet mercy, if you were looking for an ability that meant your enemies had to fight you and no one else then look no further. Unfortunately, Unyielding Avalanche doesn't easily over take Dragon's Fangs or Serpent Dance Strike in pure damage. But if the combat lasts a few rounds against multiple opponents it will overtake them eventually - also, you can't miss with stances so you'll always get full benefit.

Reaper's Stance (level 25)
Compared to other powers of its level, Reaper's Stance has the smallest lead. But like all stances, it over takes other powers because it just lasts so long. Reaper's Stance grants you a 19-20 threat range (unimportant - you should have the crit increaser for your weapon) and gives you a bonus to damage equal to your dex mod. That'll be a few extra points on every attack you make for the entire fight. Finally, it inflicts 1[W] and ongoing 10 damage to any enemy starting next to you. If the 6[W] powers of this level do an average weapon damage of about 27, then Reaper's over takes them in three rounds minimum. You're only missing out on the useful extra effects but the end damage is potentially more than worth it.

Force the Battle (level 29)
The pinnacle of a Fighter's Daily Stances, Force the Battle turns you into an almost literal God of War. It improves the damage of your At-Wills and Encounters by 1[W]. And any enemy next to you is subject to an At-Will attack from yourself as a free action. To put that in perspective, if you were fighting only 1 enemy and were using nothing but At-Wills, Force the Battle almost triples your damage output per round. The other powers at this level don't hold a candle to this stance. It's that good.

So~! Now that I'm done trying to persuade you all of the awesomeness that are stances, I'm willing to hear your opinions on them. Anyone have good things to say about them as well? Bad things? Had you even looked at the stances closely before hearing about them?

2008-08-03, 08:56 AM
All in all an accurate depiction methinks.

All I know is, we were a party of 4 level 5 characters, and we had to take on some homebrewed ridiculous barbarian thing with over 300 hit points, and I busted out Rain of Steel. By the end of that fight I had dealt over 200 damage to the damn thing. I outdamaged the Warlord and the Ranger COMBINED by a good 100%. The Wizard was off dealing with the minions so he didn't really contribute much.

But yeah, Fighter Stances freaking OWN.

2008-08-03, 10:04 AM
Rangers also have a few stances I think. Don't have a rulebook handy.

Stances are to Fighters as Minor Sustain and Save Ends are to Wizards. Both are reserved for Dailies, and give the Dailies multiple round impact. People have complained that nothing lasts more than a turn or 2 before the effect wears off. That's what things like Stances are for.

Granted, you can only use them once per day, and unless you take a low level one, you will only have 1, maybe 2, at a time. Or you multiclass...

2008-08-03, 10:44 AM
Yes, they are really nice. Also at level 2 you get an utility daily stance that gives you regen 2 + Con while bloodied: really handy to keep you alive without too much effort on the leader's side.

2008-08-03, 11:37 AM
Yes, they are really nice. Also at level 2 you get an utility daily stance that gives you regen 2 + Con while bloodied: really handy to keep you alive without too much effort on the leader's side.

I really like Boundless Endurance as well. It'd definitely be one I would pick up at the lower levels. I'd probably trade it out as I started to get more stances though because, as I said up there, you can only use one stance an encounter. Once I'd have managed to get a few stances under my belt, I'd trade Boundless Endurance for Unstoppable.

There's also Defensive Training for Fighter utility stances but I think I prefer Unbreakable at that level.

Rangers also have a few stances I think. Don't have a rulebook handy.

That they do - half of them are decent mobility ones. Undaunted Stride lets you ignore difficult terrain and Long Strider increases your speed by 2. The best Ranger Stance is Master of the Hunt which lets them add Wis mod to all their damage rolls. If I wasn't the sort of multiclass Cleric for Warpriest then dipping Ranger for that stance ain't a bad idea for something like a Glaive / opportunity fighter with lots of Wis.

Tiger's Reflex is their last stance and it's alright, but it only allows basic attacks when an enemy tries to hit you. For Rangers, this is ok if you're Defenders are worthless or you're taking a ridiculous ammount of hits but for Fighter's I'm not so sure...it punishes opponents for attacking you which is what you want them to do so making them second guess hitting you is a bad idea. The other stances just happen because you're there - forcing the enemy to deal with you quickly or suffer your pointy bladed wrath (they make you a bigger target because you hit them as long as you're standing).

2008-08-03, 11:52 AM
for Fighter's I'm not so sure...it punishes opponents for attacking you which is what you want them to do so making them second guess hitting you is a bad idea.
Well with Combat Challenge if he's marked either he attacks you at +0 or an ally at -2, in both cases you can make a basic attack against him. It's a win-win situation, and attacking you is still marginally a better option for the enemy.

2008-08-03, 12:56 PM
Aye, it's not bad by any means. I just believe the other stances available to fighters do the job better - since their damage is automatic it punishes your opponent for not killing you as opposed to Tiger's Reflex which punishes your opponent for trying to kill you.

Besides, Tiger's Reflex is a level 25 Daily Stance which means it directly conflicts with Reaper's Stance or, even worse, with Force the Battle. It's good for Rangers no doubt, but there are better options available to fighters unless for some reason you're fighting a single opponent that's going to make multiple attacks per round against you.

2008-08-04, 04:00 PM
Rain of Steel also combos really well with the Fighter's level 7 encounter power, "Come and Get it." Use "Come and Get It" to force multiple enemies to shift towards you, and get the attack on each of them. Then activate "Rain of Steel." You end up with 2[W] + str damage to each enemy, and best of all, they're all marked (if you want them to be)!

- Eddie

Kiara LeSabre
2008-08-04, 04:35 PM
Tiger's Reflex is their last stance and it's alright,

No, their last stance is Follow-up Blow, and it's uber. Combine it with things like Cruel Cage of Steel and Blade Cascade after landing something like Armor Splinter for excessive-striking goodness.

Edit: And Reaper's Stance is mainly for flail/spear fighters who will actually have a high Dexterity for other reasons and thus make good use of it.

2008-08-05, 08:10 AM
all i have to say right now is that i am running a longtooth shifter fighter pit fighter demigod... and that stances rock my socks.

i picked up on them when i was browsing my build early on... and though i didn't bother posting anything on the boards about them, i find i must completely agree with pretty much everything said here. while the regeneration for unyielding avalance isn't that great because i already have longtooth shifting, its still good. im just debating whether or not i want to drop all my other dailys and take two -three stances and just be a stance fighter. as i type this i think im gonna go with two stances because we seem to be averaging two encounters per game/day and i think the extra stance would do me well.