Warlords are, as their name probably hints, ultimately a class who excels in combat. They lead others into battle with fierce determination and offer aid where it is needed. From what I’ve seen, this class is a mixture of the Fighter and Paladin class from 5e. When playing a Warlord, although they are good for supporting their team, it’s best to play them with the mentality: “Attack first, help later.” Though, a lot of the aid that the Warlord provides their team is something that comes naturally to them as long as their team is in their vicinity.
Below is a compilation of lists that can be treated as a Warlord build guide on how to optimize the class, each with a small description. Once again, these lists do not have any specific way in which they are ordered. If you are to take anything from this guide, make sure to also take it with a grain of salt for almost all of it is subjective.
Best Spells – N/A
The Warlord does not have access to any spells unless it’s through magical items that they may obtain.
Best Feats for a warlord build in Pathfinder
1. Panther Claw
A very straightforward feat that lets the Warlord do unarmed attacks per the number on their Wisdom modifier. As long as the Warlord’s modifier is more than 1 (which it most likely will be if they want the Warlord to be able to have a decent Passive Wisdom), they will get that extra attack. Once they do the extra attacks, the attacks themselves do damage based on their Dexterity or Strength modifier.
2. Deadly Agility
Prior to doing my research, I already knew of this feat and how strong it was. What I didn’t know was all that it entailed and that some DMs actually ban the feat entirely due to how overpowered and/or controversial it is.
That being said, if your DM allows it, this feat is basically the go-to to be an extremely powerful Warlord. If you don’t know what this feat does, it basically lets you use your Dexterity instead of your Strength for Finesse weapons. Very simple, but a little too effective.
3. Extra Readied Maneuver
It’s a matter of do you want to do more damage or get the heck out? The fact that this feat can be used per situation is the best thing about it. The idea of being able to instantly choose which Maneuver you can choose and use is extremely powerful in the hands of a Warlord.
Warlords already have the ability to choose four readied maneuvers, so why not make it five? Of course, the maneuvers take 10 minutes of weapon drills so it should be done outside of battle, but once they are ready for battle, having five readied maneuvers only makes the Warlord’s class feature stronger than it already is.
4. Greater Unarmed Strike
Since the Warlord can choose another feat at higher levels, this feat goes really well with Panther’s Claw. With Panther’s Claw, not only will they have multiple unarmed attacks, but the unarmed attacks will also be doing more damage. Just another way that the Warlord can get more damage into an enemy.
5. Advanced Study
Great when paired up with Extra Readied Maneuver. You can never have too many maneuvers, in my opinion. It just gives so much versatility and actions on your turn which is good regardless of what class you may be in.
In the Warlord’s case, though, the more things that the Warlord can do, the more it benefits the team. Having this along with the Warlord’s Gambit will practically make the Warlord an unstoppable force of damage.
Best Items for a pathfinder warlord
1. Cloak of Resistance
Even if the Warlord chooses to go for a ranged build, there are a multitude of scenarios in which they will be in the frontlines. In that scenario, why not have some insurance to have it so the Warlord takes less damage while they are there? That way, if the creature gets annoyed with the Warlord’s constant barrage of attacks and/or actions, the Warlord should be able to tank a few hits.
2. Body Wrap of Mighty Strikes
Especially if you obtain this item while using the Unarmed feats stated above, this item will be taking out low health monsters with ease and chunking down big monsters significantly more.
They may also use the item when pursuing an opportunity attack giving the opportunity to inflict even more damage when it’s not even their turn! Once again, the more damage the Warlord does, the better.
3. Boots of Striding and Springing
I always find that the more mobility an aggressive character has, the better. It just makes them even more formidable because they are able to get in, attack, then put some range between and the target.
4. Crown of Swords
I personally just like the idea of a Warlord having this item since, in most cases, it seems suited to the class and their background. Anyone can wear it since there aren’t any prerequisites to wearing it.
The way I see it, it can be used as a last-resort item if the Warlord runs out of options or if they just keep encountering tougher and tougher opponents. It also helps that multiple weapons can be created at once if they were attacked more than once for more than one turn.
5. Amulet of Mighty Fists
Once again, another item that helps out with unarmed attacks since the Warlord should be the one doing a subsequent amount of damage to their enemies, even if it’s with their bare fists. Alternatively, if the Warlord decides to attack with a weapon that does an additional type of damage (ex: radiant damage), it also gives a boost to that.
And it stacks! So if the Warlord decides to attack with their special magic weapon, it gives them a boost, then if they attack again with an unarmed attack, it also gives their unarmed attack a boost. In order to get little damage off with this weapon alone, the Warlord will have to either have really low stats (which most likely will not be the case) or just have extremely bad luck.
Tips and Tricks
My knowledge of Pathfinder is extremely limited and should be taken with a grain of salt. Most of this information are things that I researched myself. After the research, I have formed an opinion on the matter of what is strong and how to utilize the class to the best of their abilities.
1. Minmax Everything
In most classes, it’s easy to tell which ability scores should be maxed and prioritized. However, with the Warlord, it’s slightly different. The obvious would be Dexterity and Strength should be prioritized to the Warlord’s playstyle (ranged or frontline) unless they have a broken feat or item that nullifies this choice altogether. However, which one should be next?
With frontlines, one would usually think to prioritize Constitution so they can take more hits, but Charisma is a very important ability score for Gambits and Initiative. Then, if you decide to use any of the items or feats stated above, the Warlord’s Wisdom modifier can make a huge difference in damage output.
Since Warlords can get a little out of every ability score, I would say that the best tactic would probably be to minmax all of the ability scores while semi-prioritizing Dexterity or Strength.
2. Always Aggressive
Yes, the Warlord is like a Paladin in which they help out their allies in combat, but that doesn’t mean that it’s their strongest ability nor should it be prioritized. A lot of those aspects kind of come naturally as their class features with no necessary aid from modifiers.
As for playstyle, the aid for allies comes as an AOE effect (meaning it’s basically automatic if their team is in the area), so the only thing the Warlord has to prioritize is taking down the target before them. There is no reason the Warlord should be acting as a support character.
3. You are NOT the Tank
Even if the Warlord maxes out their Constitution (which they shouldn’t be in the first place), they should not be the one taking all the hits for the party. In almost every scenario, they would be the main damage dealer in a typical party.
Yes, they can take a few hits and should be in the frontlines, but they are the damage dealers- not the damage soakers. Basically, in terms of formation, the Warlord should be getting in, doing their damage, getting out and having someone else soak up incoming damage.
Pros and Cons of the warlord build in Pathfinder
- Never a Dull Moment: roleplaying and combat-wise, they can excel due to their Charisma and pure prowess in the battlefield. Especially in combat in which they will probably do the most, they can conduct several attacks and opportunity attacks, meaning they would be able to do a lot of actions during their turn and even attack during the enemy’s turn. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they also have Gambits in which they can figure out which ones they should do during enemy or ally turns since each Gambit does a different thing and if they fail, then of course they get a penalty so it’ll keep them on their toes.
- Main-Character Syndrome: This may sound like a con, especially to the Warlord’s teammates. Through the eyes of the Warlord, though, it seems like the most fun. They will, arguably, be doing the most in their party. In the front lines doing damage, giving their party a much needed boost and still surviving everything just fine. It may be a little sad to say, but the party will most likely be extremely reliant on the Warlord and their prowess. What would they do without them?
- Strong Early and Late: A lot of the Warlord’s strongest abilities come in early game such as Tactical Presence at level 2 and even Gambit at level 1. One might think that would mean that the Warlord would only fall off during late game, but they would be very wrong. As the Warlord levels up, they are given even more opportunities to use those strong class features (more times a day), allow them to do even more damage, and even give them an extra feat.
- Minmaxing: as stated before, Warlords should be mixmaxed when figuring out what numbers to put into their stats. Most classes are, as I call it, “cookie cutters” since it’s pretty clear which stats they should be prioritizing and maxing out, (for example: Barbarian with Strength and Bard with Charisma), but Warlord must dabble a little in basically everything if the player wishes to utilize everything the Warlord has to offer. This may not sit well with some, but when it comes time to figure out which ability score to increase, it may come down to “what do I need to do more of? Do I keep failing my gambits? Am I not hitting hard enough?” and so on.
- Basic Backgrounds: Warlords are usually humans or half-elves that worked as a guard, soldier, captain, etc. They may have any alignment they wish, but in order for the character to become a Warlord, it would only make sense for them to have a background as basic as this to suit them (for example: they spent most of their days serving the king and colonizing more land). That being said, Warlords also don’t have any backgrounds to any kind of deity (unless they are multiclassing), so they don’t have any access to spells whatsoever.
- No Versatility: Warlords have a very straightforward playstyle which is “be aggressive and don’t die.” There may be a lot of features that come with the class, but the playstyle of the Warlord will remain the same for basically every encounter. It definitely won’t be boring, but if the Warlord is to try any other playstyle with this class, they will find that they are just simply not as strong as they were when they played the way they should’ve been.