I’ve been playing a swordmage now for three levels, and it’s been a whole heck of a lot of fun. If you’ve considered running a swordmage, or if you just like accounts of D&D 4E actual play, read on.
A bit of context: we had just wrapped up our long, plane-hopping 3.5E campaign, and someone volunteered to run a 4E port of The Temple of Elemental Evil. My fellow players started to express interest as to their class preferences. For a while I was considering wizard, as I’d played the 4E version before and enjoyed it. But another player was keen on playing a wizard, and we didn’t have a defender at all. When the swordmage became available, it seemed like the perfect fit — and the DM, bless his soul, allowed me to take it.
Before I get into how the swordmage operated in actual play, I want to walk everyone through the choices I made in character generation, as that obviously had a very significant impact on the play experience.
Class: I’d already decided on swordmage, but perhaps some insight into why I chose it might be helpful.
When it comes to 4E classes, the main thing I consider is the At-Will powers. You’ll be using them a lot in every encounter, and you’ll be using them from level 1 right to level 30. If you don’t really like the At-Will powers of a class, it’s going to be very tricky to enjoy playing it.
The At-Wills for the swordmage are tempting. There’s a sticky-defender power (Booming Blade), a minion-clearing Cleave-like power (Greenflame Blade), a short-ranged ‘Get Over Here!’ power (Lightning Lure), and a crowd-busting Close Burst 1 power (Sword Burst.)
It’s a good assortment, but there’s two more At-Wills which really define the swordmage’s schtick.
Every swordmage chooses one of the two Aegis powers. They’re both Marking powers that are At-Will minor actions with a range of Close Burst 2. They both trigger when the marked creature attacks and hits a non-you target.
Aegis of Shielding reduces the damage by a certain amount. It’s not a bad power, and it puts a bit more defense into the defender role. But I couldn’t resist the other power.
Aegis of Assault lets you teleport over to the marked target and make a melee basic attack. Either one of these effects — either teleporting over, or making a basic attack — would almost be good enough on its own. Together, they make up a power which brings the awesome.
My decision to take Aegis of Assault and its subsequent good use have made a deep impact on the nature of our party’s combat. It’s fair enough to say that I built the rest of my swordmage around Aegis of Assault.
Now having a basic grasp of the sort of swordmage I wanted to play, it was time to select his race.