Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An almost wrap-up of the hybrid

A few almost possibly sorta final impressions of the hybrid rules I've been "playtesting".

All in all, I'm really enjoying the hybrid rule. It's not quite up to snuff with the old 3.5 multi-classing in terms of flexibility, but it has some definite strengths.

For starters, it's greatly simplified everything. One of the things with 3.5 multi-classing that always gave me a headache was keeping track of the various level dependant things, such as caster level. My character might be 18th level overall, but her caster level might have been only 15. Throw in some ECL from being an oddball race and those waters became even muddier.

In 4E there's none of that. Yet.

I also have to admit that there's some value in restricting players to combining only two classes (with a third possible via those terribly weak "multi-class" feats). It was pretty easy to get carried away with the multi-classing in 3.5. Just a quick skimming of the posts in the WotC forums is proof of that. There are classes in there that I've never even heard of, strung together in a chain that resembles alphabet soup.

The 4E hybrid helps the player police himself. While I'm generally against anything that restricts creativity and imagination, trying on some handcuffs can be fun once in a while. (IMJH)

At the very least the hybrid rules have allowed me to play the character that I originally envisioned. A wizard who enjoys wading into the front line.

Without the hybrid rule, my Dragonborn was capable but he really felt like a fish out of water. He wasn't fulfilling his role and it showed in every way. So he ended up standing back with bastard sword in hand, ready to defend himself if someone came after him, but otherwise dropping Scorching Bursts and trying to look interested.

Now, with the hybrid fighter/wizard combo he's up front blasting hobgoblins off the backs of their wolf mounts with his Thunderwave, and then dealing out triple damage with a Brute Strike. Without the stifling presence of filling a certain role combat is fun again.

As far as balance goes I still haven't seen anything to suggest that he's out of whack compared to the rest of the party. He gets roughly the same bonuses to hit in melee as our comically inept paladin and our kill thief ranger, and is about as effective with his "spells" as the cleric.

That said, I still get the feeling that "spells" aren't as effective as melee attacks (either up close or ranged). They simply seem to miss more often than they should. It's like everything's Fort/Will/Reflex defense is one or two points too high. Hopefully, they're churning out some feats that can give casters a bonus to hit with certain types of powers.

I need to note that we recently caught a little bit of cheating that I'd been doing. Namely in my feats, as I clearly skipped the small print and assumed that my hybrid wizard would retain his ritual casting and spellbook. In my defense, those are pretty core to the class. I guess they had to cut something to make the hybrid a sacrifice, so I had to re-tool my feats to regain the Ritual Casting ability, among other things. Oddly enough, I haven't missed not having a spellbook and hadn't really given it any thought at all since initially generating the character. I'm sure there's some reason or benefit for having a spellbook, but it hasn't affected my playstyle.



Francis Bousho said...

Making Wizards (and other Arcane Casters) hit harder and more often:

The first trick to making an arcane caster hit more often is picking a single implement, and using it almost exclusively. Like most fighters do with their weapon groups. Then take the Implement Expertise feat...which is essentially Weapon Expertise for your implements.

Now, if my memory serves me right, you are a storm flavored wizard, right? So you've probably taken lightning as your breath weapon. If so, you can take the dragonborn/arcane caster feat Draconic Spellcaster for a +1 to attacks with spells that have the lightning keyword.

This next one is risky, but can be worth it if your ally has resistance or the attack only hits enemies. It's Coordinated Explosion and it's from Player's Handbook 2 and the feat gives you a +1 to attack rolls when an ally is within the range or your burst or blast powers.

Another two feats you will want to look into are Echoes of Thunder and Oncoming Storm, which give you a +1 to damage after using a thunder power, and a +1 to attack rolls with thunder powers after using a lighting power (for instance, getting a +1 to attack with thunderwave after hitting with your lighting breath weapon).

Throw in things like Distant Advantage, which gives you combat advantage when your target is being flanked by your allies, and a liberal dose of leader buffing and you wizard powers should easily hit their mark.

Alexandra Erin said...

I was just clicking here to suggest implement expertise... I think that's the big difference between spells and melee attacks (or more speficially, between implement powers and weapon powers) is that with the melee ones you've got +2 or +3 from your proficiency bonus built right in.

Implement Expertise does not make up the gap, especially compared to a Fighter who's taking feats, but it does help.

I think this might be why Archery Rangers have so much fun: they get the advantage of distance plus weapon proficiency.