Thursday, July 2, 2009

Arcane Power: A welcome boost or necessary evil?

By now it should come as no surprise that I'm not exactly a fan of 4E. I'm sure I've beaten the no-multiclassing-spellcasters-suck-now horse well past the point of death. However, there are some signs that 4E might someday mature into a good all around game.

The hybrid rules are a step in the right direction. The whole emphasis on a character's "Role" in the party is still overly invasive, restrictive, and utterly annoying but at least there's some room for creative class mixing.

The new monk not only solidifies a class that always felt "tacked on" but also validates psionics, which were just shit from the get go. While the final product of the monk and psionics is yet to be seen, it sure looks promising.

Really, the only remaining disappointment I have is with the spellcasters. Namely the Arcane ones. The ones that were my favorites in 3rd edition but now feel and play exactly like any other class.

I'm sure that the Wizards, Sorcerers, Warlocks et al get access to some pretty sweet powers eventually. I've seen a few that I'm actually looking forward to having but it all rings hollow when I look at the powers the fighter side of my hybrid will get. They have the same level of niftiness with the added bonus of being right up in the thick of the action. Martial characters get to have their cake and eat it too.

Which brings me to the new "Arcane Powers" supplement. It's name alone gives me hope. After all, I really liked the majority of the content in the "Martial Powers" book, so I'm hoping the Arcane version will be filled with similar yumminess.

I read somewhere (sorry for the lack of linkage, I wanna say that it was somewhere on but I'm not sure and I'm too lazy to go searching) that the Familiar is finally joining the party, and that they have a passive and active mode. That's all well and good. I've never been a big fan of the familiar, simply because I don't like the extra bookkeeping and logistics of having one. If they've dumbed the familiar down to the point of being a magic item that perches on one's shoulder, that's fine by me.

I also saw something on a storm theme which is enticing. Not only is the sorcerer my favorite 3rd edition class, the addition of the storm theme would make it a good fit for my current hybrid fighter/wizard. I might need to do yet another character re-build. Or, perhaps not, since class is almost meaningless in 4E (but that's another post entirely).

I'm sure the wizard, warlock, and bard all gain some new tricks as well. The wizard section(s) will be of particular interest to me, and the warlock might be a good or interesting read, but I still say that the warlock and sorcerer are redundant. While one uses pacts and the other has a chaotic slant, in the end both are arcane strikers. Do we really need two of those? As for the bard, well, who really cares about bards?

While I'm loathe to drop any more cash on an edition that I'm not entirely sold on (yet) when we have a very fun edition to fall back upon, I'll probably break down and buy Arcane Power when I get the chance. I just hope that it finally gives the spellcasters a reason to be.


Francis Bousho said...

Arcane power was worth every penny my friend. It does everything Martial Power did right, even better.

First off, wizards start feeling valuable again with two new builds: Illusion (which we saw a taste of in DDI) and Summoning.

The new summoning keyword creates a creature with your bloodied value in hp and your defenses. It uses your actions (much like a ranger's animal companion) but requires no sustaining actions like a conjuration, instead lasting till the end of the encounter.

Beyond the added firepower summons give you (as they act much like reserve feats from 3.5) the wizard gets an amazing new implement called the tome. The tome has a nifty little power much like the other implement mastery (and I'd get into them, but there are two) but most importantly, especially for your hybrid fighter/wizard is that a magical tome can hold an extra wizard daily power. Essentially allowing your hybrid wizard/fighter to reclaim the versatility he lost by not having access to a spellbook.

There are some great feats in the book as well, and while I'm not a huge fan of the familiar ones, the racial + class prerequisite feats are quite impressive. The human for instance has a feat (with prereq "any arcane class" that gives it a +2 to damage with at-wills after using up its encounter powers.

Great new builds, amazing new feats and interesting paragon paths makes this book an essential buy for anyone who wants to re-empower the arcane power source.

Griff said...

WotC owes you a kick back or cut of the sale Francis. I'll buy it the next time I'm at Chapters or the local gaming shop.

Francis Bousho said...

One of my players almost killed me because I misplaced it for a week. He gave my girlfriend his Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask strategy guide just because she said she'd look for it.

It's that good. I'm telling you, you are going to want to do that character remake once you take a look at the Storm sorcerer. It should fit you pretty well, and it has a lot of great close blast and burst moves, not to mention the fact that Strength is the secondary stat for the class.

The Deist Angle said...

The problem I have with arcane classes isnt so much that "they feel the same" or "they can't get into the thick of things" so much as all controllers are spellcasters. (Druid, invoker (Not arcane, but definitley very magey) ,Wizard) I'd dig like a suprressive fire type dude for a martial controller or something. There's so few variations on the controller theme, the role just dosent get any experimentation.

Crwth said...

I was thinking about that a few months ago... how to make a "martial controller". Some kind of whirling dervish who cannot wear armor - they tumble in, blades awhirling, slice a group of monsters, and tumble back out.

This gives the "area" effect of the typical controller, but provides the vulnerability usually associated with a behind-the-scenes figure.

Of course, the rain-of-arrows type also works, but I'd worry about such a class being too similar to a ranger.

Francis Bousho said...

I've actually been putting thought to the martial controller as well. I was working on some sort of dervish, although my mental image was of a chain wielding man, flinging his weapon with such force in front of himself (close blast 3) that is pushes his enemies and knocks them prone. Or rushing through enemies like the shadarkai chain-fighter, hitting certain ones as he went...etc, etc.

I think I should do a little more work on this martial controller thing and actually make it.