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By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!

Wardens, as their name might imply, are focused on protecting nature and their party. In game terms, they're Primal Defenders - tanks with the ability to take on a Bear's strength, or a Goat's stubbornness. If for whatever reason you don't want to be a Paladin or some other defender class and want plenty of AoE attacks and a much more limited shapeshift from the druid with more variety in perks.

Wardens were stealth-ported into 5th edition as, fittingly, the Oath of the Ancients paladin, then, later, as a proposed ranger archetype, the Primeval Guardian, who can turn into a massive-but-slow tree creature that gains bonus reach and temporary hitpoints, later generating an aura that slows down enemies and heals allies.


By default, all Wardens possess two mechanics: Font of Life, which permits you to roll a saving throw at the start of the turn as well as at the end, making you more resistant to effects, and Nature's Wrath, which lets you mark someone next to you at the end of a turn and grants two default powers. These powers are Warden's Fury (an at-will immediate interrupt that attacks a nearby marked enemy who targets anyone but you and makes that target grant combat advantage to all allies if successful) and Warden's Grasp (an at-will immediate reaction that slides a marked enemy within 5 spaces that attacks someone besides you and renders them slowed and unable to shift for the turn).

The mandatory subclass feature here is Guardian Might, which categorizes Wardens in one of two categories based on what your secondary stat is (Considering that all Wardens WANT their Strength to be as good as possible). Alongside making this secondary be used for AC instead of Dexterity when wearing light or medium armor, they can do the following:

  • Con Wardens
    • Earthstrength adds to the Con to AC business by doubling your Con Bonus on AC whenever you use Second Wind. This can make taking gambles with fighting less dangerous by virtue of your extra armor on top of the massive heal you just got.
    • Stormheart acts as your most controller-like style by making your Second Wind shift around any enemies within 2 spaces of you and slowing all marked enemies within range. A lot of the powers that key to this include cold or lightning damage as effects.
  • Wis Wardens
    • Lifespirit gives a bit of a supporting role by letting an ally spend a Healing Surge whenever you use Second Wind. Powers keyed to this always include a special perk that offers THP or defenses.
    • Wildblood takes an alternate angle to the pure defender by making your marks more potent by adding Wis to all penalties when using Second Wind.

What becomes apparent to anyone dealing with a Warden is that while their Fortitude NAD will be astronomical by virtue of their Strength being the one stat they'd want to max out and Will possibly not being that far behind based on subclass, Reflex will almost invariably suffer the hardest, as Int becomes a dead-weight stat and Dex being not far behind by also helping Initiative (though the Battlewise feat can negate even that).


I would claim that the Earthstrength (Str/Con) build for a Warden is moderately different from Fighters, Paladins, and all the other Defenders, because they get a hell of a lot of AOE attacks. Hit something with your hammer, and it asplodes, making lightning everywhere. Classes other than Warden can't really specialise in this. The problem with this build is that they wind up with pretty poor defences, although Wardens do get more HP than any other class, and who needs defence when you have meat?

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Classes
Player's Handbook 1: Cleric - Fighter - Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Warlock - Warlord - Wizard
Player's Handbook 2: Avenger - Barbarian - Bard - Druid - Invoker - Shaman - Sorcerer - Warden
Player's Handbook 3: Ardent - Battlemind - Monk - Psion - Runepriest - Seeker
Heroes of X: Blackguard - Binder - Cavalier - Elementalist - Hexblade - Hunter
Mage - Knight - Protector - Scout - Sentinel - Skald - Slayer - Sha'ir - Thief
Vampire - Warpriest - Witch
Settings Book: Artificer - Bladesinger - Swordmage
Dragon Magazine: Assassin
Others: Paragon Path - Epic Destiny