The article, which requires a membership, was just released today. I like many things about it.
It starts off with an interesting quote:
“After looking at the feedback we’ve received since launching our weekly web columns, we’ve decided to take a look at a number of underserved classes. Our goal is to take each class or option in turn, see where new material can improve it, and complete the necessary design work.
We’re leading off the series with a suite of Strength-based options for the cleric, primarily because it’s low-hanging fruit. As we analyze other classes, we’ll roll out more options for them.“
This is exactly what I’ve said the DDI needs to be all along. If you’re going to make people pay for it, they need to get value out of it. For far too long, a DDI membership was little more than access to the (still) rudimentary monster and character builders, plus the occasional weak article.
On to the meat…
- They’re all encounter powers (except the ones in the Paragon path). This means that you’ll get to see what makes the Battle Cleric unique every fight rather than only when dailies get dropped, which will profoundly change the feel of the class. Dailies are also more prone to power creep than encounter powers, mostly due to the generally strict limitations on encounter powers.
- The powers either require or provide a benefit for using simple weapons. This opens up some interesting design space. It also obliquely establishes a firewall against hard optimization because simple weapons do not go above a +2 proficiency bonus and generally lack the “beefier” enchantments. Put another way, these powers give you a strong reason to use weapons you would otherwise avoid, while not opening up the floodgates to something broken.
- It continues the Essentials trend of trying to move encounter powers closer to the midpoint between at-will and daily. As it currently stands, encounter powers tend to be unexciting (with some notable exceptions). There’s a difference between interesting and powerful that hasn’t been true of encounter powers.
- The Paragon’s Action class feature follows what I suspect will be a growing pattern with regard to leaders: being able to buff yourself. This is an issue that hasn’t been dealt with by Wizards, at least it hasn’t been discussed openly. I have a post brewing about this issue.
- Fanatic Energy and Victory Prayer touch upon an underutilized concept: changing the action required to use an ability. I’m torn by this. On the one hand, it is interesting, creative and effective – the holy trinity of game deign. On the other, it opens up new optimizations around burst damage, something that is already a problem in many encounters. I find Fanatic Energy particularly troubling because it’s an encounter power, which means that it represents a constant increase in DPR.
Then we get to the crown jewel of this article:
Battle Cleric’s Lore
Alternative Class Feature
Your study of warfare and divine magic has granted
you the gods’ blessings in battle. You can choose this
class feature in place of Healer’s Lore.
Benefit: You gain a +2 shield bonus to AC, and
you have proficiency with scale armor. In addition,
whenever you use a cleric healing power to allow a
target to spend a healing surge, that target gains a +2
bonus to attack rolls until the end of your next turn.
Ick, just ick. Imagine a hybrid Fighter/Cleric with this class feature. Encouraging Shield and Stout Shield can both apply and can never be taken from you. Worse, by taking Hybrid Talent and choosing Two-Handed Weapon Talent (Hybrid), you put yourself on the “big $#&@-off sword” fast track without losing any defenses. I think this class feature was a fairly bad idea, especially because a Warlord must take both Battlefront Leader and Armored Warlord to achieve less.
All in all, I was excited to see the ideas and direction of this article, but Battle Cleric’s Lore left me disappointed.