The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed - Coming in December and available for pre-order now
Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    Greetings everybody. I have recently planned a build that I would like to share with you in order to hear your opinions.

    The Concept

    The idea is to create a melee-focused Cleric who uses a combination of Booming Blade, Spiritual Weapon, and Spirit Guardians to maximise melee damage and offer a bit of battlefield control.

    We will ask the DM to reskin our cleric to be a Warcraft-style shaman: a master of the elements who gets his powers not from a deity but from the spirits of the natural world and of his ancestors.

    Why Tempest?

    Except for the obvious thematic fit for a shaman, there are mechanical reasons to pick Tempest over the other cleric domains.

    Since we are going to be on the frontlines we need three things: heavy armour, martial weapons, and Divine Strike.

    This gives us two main choices: Tempest and War. War gives us Guided Strike, which is nice, but in my estimate Tempest's Destructive Wrath synergises better with a thunder damage focused build; War Priest is useless since we are not going to be using the Attack action and our bonus action is already occupied by Spiritual Weapon; as for the level 17 feature, I consider flight superior to resistance to non-magical damage, especially since there are reliable ways of getting complete immunity to that sort of damage.

    A special mention goes to the Forge and Order domains. The former is great at early levels, but becomes much weaker once everybody has magic items.
    Order on the other hand can deal more damage than Tempest on non-Channel Divinity turns thanks to the level 17 feature Order's Wrath, has an amazing Channel Divinity feature, and works great with Rogues thanks to Voice of Authority. Overall it is comparable in strength to Tempest, I chose the latter because of flavour and access to flight.

    The Build

    We are going to be playing a Firbolg. This gives us perfect stat boosts, extra spells, and a very useful one turn invisibility. Plus they seem perfect for the role of shaman.
    We are also going to be using a shield and a warhammer, which we will obviously refer to as Doomhammer. Our AC with no magic items will be 20, with perfect magic items we can reach 26.

    Now for the controversial part: after we reach level 14 we are going to take one level in Druid.
    Yes, yes, I know. We lose improved Divine Intervention. I've never really liked that feature.
    It's very DM dependant and beyond our control, even if everything goes perfectly it only works once a week, and even if it works... isn't it a boring way to defeat a boss? I'd rather use honest, fair combat.

    On the plus side, we gain Shillelagh. This is essentially equivalent to two +2 Str ASIs by the time we get it, and if we cast it pre-combat we don't even need to waste a bonus action.

    Point buy:

    Str 15+1
    Dex 8
    Con 15
    Int 8
    Wis 14+2
    Cha 10

    You can put the last two points anywhere, I like being at least decent at talking to NPCs.

    ASI

    Magic Initiate: Wizard for Booming Blade, Find Familiar, and Green Flame Blade. Now GFB will work off our intelligence, which is 8, so before level 5 this doesn't deal any extra damage. Later on however, if we are sure the enemies won't trigger the extra BB damage, GFB still outdamages BB.

    +2 Wis

    +2 Wis

    War Caster: keeping concentration on Spirit Guardians/Conjure Celestial is essential, and using BB on opportunity attacks is a neat extra bonus.

    Resilient Con: this brings our Con up to 16 at level 20 and further protects our concentration. Plus, Con saves are numerous and nasty.

    Spell selection

    I am only going to list the key spells we need for our build, everything else is up to you.

    Guidance: best cantrip in the game.
    Toll the Dead: good ranged option.
    Sacred Flame: for when you need that radiant damage.
    Light: we don't have darkvision.
    Booming Blade: duh.
    Green Flame Blade.
    Shillelagh: to attack with Wisdom.
    Bless: great buff for its level.
    Healing Word: to save allies at 0 hp.
    Aid & Death Ward: you cast these just before the end of a long rest. As per Sage Advice, you immediately regain the spent slots but still have the spells active for the day.
    Spiritual Weapon: to weaponise our bonus action.
    Spirit Guardians: our go-to concentration spell for most fights.
    Contagion: great against powerful single targets.
    Heroes' Feast: non-concentration buffs are great.
    Conjure Celestial: in my opinion the second best spell in the game after Wish, and only slightly less versatile.

    Anything else is just a bonus.

    Into battle

    Now here's how we fare in actual combat at level 20. Most of this works far earlier than that, of course.
    In a difficult fight this is our sequence of choice:

    Turn 0: Shillelagh. We want to have this on all the time since it's a cantrip. We always want to cast it pre-battle whenever possible.

    Turn 1: We upcast Spirit Guardians with a 6th level slot and charge into battle. All enemies in range take 6d8 = 27 damage at the start of their turns. We then use our racial invisibility with our bonus action since we can't cast Spiritual Weapon in the same turn as Spirit Guardians.

    Turn 2: We cast a 4th level Spiritual Weapon as a bonus action for 2d8+5 damage. With our action we cast Booming Blade with advantage from our familiar for a total of 4d8+2d8 (Divine Strike)+5. We are rolling thunder damage, so we can activate Destructive Wrath to deal maximum damage equal to 1d8+45. If we then get hit we'll deal 2d8 lightning damage as a reaction and push the enemy 10 ft away (great against multiattack, since moving back in range will trigger the extra Booming Blade damage). Spirit Guardians is still active for 6d8 damage on the enemy's turn.

    Assuming we only hit one enemy with Spirit Guardians and don't crit, all this equals 2d8+5+1d8+45+2d8+6d8 = 99.5 average damage.
    If the enemy, having been pushed away, then triggers the extra Booming Blade damage we add 4d8 for a total of 117.5 damage in one turn, for at least three turns. It later becomes slightly less after we run out of Channel Divinity and Wrath of the Storm.


    What do you think of the build? Do you see any way to improve it?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    SD
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    I would not dump dex. if you're planning the druid dip to be wisdom focused anyways I would drop the strength back to the minimum for plate or go medium armor which in the end isnt a large difference in AC plus might be more thematic for firbolg.

    Other than that it's hard to mess up a tempest cleric.
    what is the point of living if you can't deadlift?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Los Angeles

    Default Re: Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    Quote Originally Posted by OgataiKhan View Post
    Do you see any way to improve it?
    Yup!

    Clerics may well be my most-played class in the game. I've played many frontliner clerics of almost every subclass. So unsurprisingly I have a lot of thoughts on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by OgataiKhan View Post
    Turn 1: We upcast Spirit Guardians with a 6th level slot and charge into battle. All enemies in range take 6d8 = 27 damage at the start of their turns. We then use our racial invisibility with our bonus action since we can't cast Spiritual Weapon in the same turn as Spirit Guardians.
    Using your racial invisibility here basically wastes it, since Spirit Guardians doing anything will end Invisibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by OgataiKhan View Post
    Since we are going to be on the frontlines we need three things: heavy armour, martial weapons, and Divine Strike.
    I think this is the biggest part I disagree with out of your assumptions. Of those three things, none are particularly important for Cleric frontliner builds, let alone necessary.

    Martial weapons make no difference whatsoever for your damage if you're using Shillelagh. Even if you weren't using Shillelagh, you make just one attack per turn, so it's just 1 damage at most. It's basically a non-factor.

    Medium armor and heavy armor are basically sidegrades, with pros and cons for each.

    Potent Spellcasting works just fine, since things like Toll the Dead scale well compared to Divine Strike and don't have penalties for being used in melee (and will even make you a stickier tank, since Potent Spellcasting can apply to War Caster opportunity attacks, while Divine Strike only works on your turn). In the case of the Arcana Cleric, it can even be used with Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade to apply Wisdom to damage multiple times.

    You will really be able to open up your options if you get out from under the idea that you need things like martial weapon proficiency to be on the front lines. They are more placebo effect than anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by OgataiKhan View Post
    Now for the controversial part: after we reach level 14 we are going to take one level in Druid.
    How are you planning on dealing with the "Druids will not wear metal armor" limitation, given that you wish to wear full plate?

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    I would not dump dex.
    Inclined to agree with this sentiment. Your heavy investment in Strength isn't doing a whole lot for you, especially with Shillelagh in use.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Re: Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    Thank you for your insights, you bring up many valid points.

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    Using your racial invisibility here basically wastes it, since Spirit Guardians doing anything will end Invisibility.
    Good point, I didn't realise that also counted as forcing a saving throw.

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    I think this is the biggest part I disagree with out of your assumptions. Of those three things, none are particularly important for Cleric frontliner builds, let alone necessary.

    Martial weapons make no difference whatsoever for your damage if you're using Shillelagh. Even if you weren't using Shillelagh, you make just one attack per turn, so it's just 1 damage at most. It's basically a non-factor.

    Medium armor and heavy armor are basically sidegrades, with pros and cons for each.

    Potent Spellcasting works just fine, since things like Toll the Dead scale well compared to Divine Strike and don't have penalties for being used in melee (and will even make you a stickier tank, since Potent Spellcasting can apply to War Caster opportunity attacks, while Divine Strike only works on your turn). In the case of the Arcana Cleric, it can even be used with Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade to apply Wisdom to damage multiple times.

    You will really be able to open up your options if you get out from under the idea that you need things like martial weapon proficiency to be on the front lines. They are more placebo effect than anything.
    I did consider the Arcana Cleric, and it would certainly be a stronger build overall due to things like Wish, Forcecage, and Mass Suggestion.

    One problem with a Toll the Dead-focused build, however, is that saving throw spells are harder to land than attack roll based spells against stronger enemies. I could just use BB as an Arcana Cleric in those cases, but I'd deal 4 less average damage than I would with Divine Strike on my turn as a Tempest Cleric (assuming no extra BB damage here) and I'd miss out on Destructive Wrath and Wrath of the Storm. Overall, even disregarding the lower AC, Arcana only seems stronger after Cleric level 17.

    Plus, I'd like to optimise the Tempest Cleric specifically since it's a better thematic fit to my concept and seems more fun to play.

    You are right about Martial Proficiency of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    How are you planning on dealing with the "Druids will not wear metal armor" limitation, given that you wish to wear full plate?
    I... forgot about that detail, since I mostly saw the character as a Cleric and not a Druid xD
    That's a bit of a problem. I'd probably ask the DM to waive the limitation, given that it's only one level of Druid.


    Quote Originally Posted by LudicSavant View Post
    Inclined to agree with this sentiment. Your heavy investment in Strength isn't doing a whole lot for you, especially with Shillelagh in use.
    That's also true. Of course dumping Str and relying on Shillelagh from level 2 would make the Firbolg's +2 Str rather useless.
    I looked at the other possible races and, if I'm going to dump Str, the Loxodon seems ok.
    I'd go Str 8
    Dex 14
    Con 15+2 (knowing that I'm going to pick up Resilient Con eventually)
    Int 8
    Wis 15+1
    Cha 10

    I'd also get advantage against being charmed or frightened and Keen Smell, which compete against the extra 20 hp and Darkvision of the Hill Dwarf.
    What do you think of this option?

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

    Join Date
    May 2011

    Default Re: Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    Quote Originally Posted by OgataiKhan View Post
    I'd also get advantage against being charmed or frightened and Keen Smell, which compete against the extra 20 hp and Darkvision of the Hill Dwarf.
    What do you think of this option?
    I wanted kinda the same thing and went kinda the opposite direction

    Hill dwarf, dump dex and int. con14+2, wis15+1, cha 14. 1st lvl storm sorcerer for juicy cantrips, shield, con save and thematic flight and reaction. Straight tempest cleric after that. 1st feat is war caster. Never touch a weapon. I depend on spirit guardian and spiritual weapon for damage. Action is used for dodge, shocking grasp for armored or low AC opponents or toll the dead. Pretty fun so far.

    Might not be want you want but 1 lvl in sorcerer will gain you a lot. Arguably more than it costs.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Troll in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Los Angeles

    Default Re: Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    Quote Originally Posted by OgataiKhan View Post
    I... forgot about that detail, since I mostly saw the character as a Cleric and not a Druid xD
    That's a bit of a problem. I'd probably ask the DM to waive the limitation, given that it's only one level of Druid.
    In case they don't decide to waive it, I discuss some alternative solutions here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/shows...8&postcount=14

    Quote Originally Posted by OgataiKhan View Post
    I'd also get advantage against being charmed or frightened and Keen Smell, which compete against the extra 20 hp and Darkvision of the Hill Dwarf.
    What do you think of this option?
    Mysteriously Medium Elephantmen (aka Loxodons) are quite good, in my estimation. +2 Con means that you can start at 17 and bump to 18 with Res(Con). Natural Armor is mostly a ribbon but at least helps if you get ambushed while sleeping. Advantage on a wide range of saves and skills is fantastic. Trunk is also great. As is not getting a movement penalty like the dwarf, given how important every scrap of movement speed is to a melee character. Great race, optimization-wise.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Nobody in the Playground Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    As much as I love Tempest Clerics, I think Arcana Cleric is a better choice here too.

    Heavy Armor is only +1 AC over Medium. If you're going to use a shield, getting martial weapons doesn't help with Shillelagh. Even without Shillelagh, martial weapons would only equal +1 dpr assuming shield would be used. Gaining martial weapon prof really only benefits the builds that want to use PAM or GWM.

    I don't like a Druid dip so late you just don't get enough.


    Arcana gets you the weapon cantrips you want and even though you lose Divine Strike, you gain Potent Spellcasting which is a wash IMO.


    Alternatively, if you want to stick with Tempest Clerics, forget the Druid dip. If you want to dip into something, 2 levels of Fighter gets you a Fighting Style and Action Surge. trust me Action Surge is AMAZING on a Tempest Cleric. Use a Maul and take Defense from Fighter and you get half the shield's AC bonus back.

    Warcaster and Res(Con) are great and most optimized, but you don't really NEED both.

    I don't like dumping Dex either.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    In a dungeon somewhere
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    Quote Originally Posted by CTurbo View Post
    Arcana gets you the weapon cantrips you want and even though you lose Divine Strike, you gain Potent Spellcasting which is a wash IMO.
    I mean, Potent Cantrip applies when you roll damage for any Cleric Cantrip. So it would apply to both rolls of Booming Blade or Green-flame Blade.

    Both spells have two damage rolls, which puts Potent Cantrip at +1 (average) damage over Divine Strike.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Nobody in the Playground Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Optimising a Tempest Cleric: the Firbolg Shaman

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoKnight View Post
    I mean, Potent Cantrip applies when you roll damage for any Cleric Cantrip. So it would apply to both rolls of Booming Blade or Green-flame Blade.

    Both spells have two damage rolls, which puts Potent Cantrip at +1 (average) damage over Divine Strike.

    Yes I know that's why I was saying that Potent Spellcasting is pretty much equal to Divine Strike(at least until level 14 when you get the extra d8)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •