Monday, October 20, 2008

Show me something Warlord. Anything.

I've had the chance to see our party's Warlord in action over a handful of sessions now, and so far nothing has changed my original opinion of this new class.

In fact, it seems to have the same "flaws" that the 3.5 version of the Cleric had. In that the majority of the Warlord's rounds are spent bestowing things upon his fellow adventurers. The Cleric used to "waste" actions on healing (a "problem" fixed by healing surges) and now the Warlord "wastes" actions either moving other players, or giving them an extra attack.

Granted, an extra attack or move is always appreciated. But, do we really need a new class for this purpose? Just give powers to the individual classes to do it themselves, just like with Healing Surges.

Personally, I've never cared for playing a Cleric because of the burden of healing party members. I'll certainly never play a Warlord.

The thing that probably miffs me about this "class" is that I can't shake the feeling that they bumped the Sorcerer to make room for it in the PHB.


Powerless against all these Powers

The more I play 4E, the more I miss saving throws.

I know, the saving throw system in 3rd edition was far from perfect. In the higher levels the monster's saving throw bonuses made their saves against even the most boosted of spells almost trivial.

But still, saving throws added something to the game. They added a feeling of empowerment (admittedly illusionary since dice are either random or malicious) and some tension (the dreaded natural 1 lurked everywhere).

With 4E's powers, there are no saves. Beating the defense score is enough. After that you simply apply the effect. It's quick. It's simple. It's elegant in it's way. It's also boring and rather anti-climactic.

I get hit and... I fall down. I get hit... and I'm dazed.

It's not all bad however. I like that players can pick and choose their powers to attack a variety of defenses (ie. some vs AC, some vs Reflex etc...). I also like that there's no more frustration caused by a Daily Power (used a crucial moment) getting shrugged off because the DM rolled a high save.

Still, the more I play the more I miss those Saving Throws. Hell, I even miss the natural 1.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Playing Gnolls - Playtested?

Just finished the article on “Playing Gnolls” from Dragon #367, and it was a great read. (I'd provide a link and/or page numbers, but with WotC, it's almost pointless.)

The gnoll has always been one of my favorite monsters so I was glad to see it getting some special treatment. The article also reinforced a lot of what I love about 4e. Namely the way that monsters are given a flavor that becomes the basis of and is emphasized in their powers and tactics. It’s a wonderful touch and severely lacking in 3.5.

On the other hand, the feats at the end of the article are... disappointing.

Does anyone at WotC read these before they’re printed? Do they have any real editors? Are they playtested in any shape or form?

Case in point.

Swift Bite
Prerequisite: 11th level, gnoll
Benefit: When you bloody a foe, you can choose to deal an extra 1d6 + Strength modifier damage with a bite against the target.

Seems straight forward enough at first glance. But the benefit raised questions within seconds of reading it.

Does this extra bite automatically hit, doing the extra damage? Or is it a free attack, like a sudden interupt, that you have to roll to hit? I’m guessing it’s the former because there’s no mention of a Str vs AC or whatever.

My point is, I shouldn’t have to guess.