Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Martial Power 2 class builds: Enter the Matrix

(Edit: Table updated with Cunning Sneak feature for rogues, mentioned here.)
(Edit 2: Updated again with Archer Warlord and Skirmishing presence for Warlords, which are suddenly the most customizable class in the game, by a mile!)

Debut Content from Player's Handbook 3 this month consists on the final version of Hybrid Character rules, offering minimal updates to the previous versions, which have already been discussed in detail in this site. On the other hand, they come with very insightful developer comments, so we can forgive the relative lack of new material. Most importantly, though, the list of Hybrid Talent options now includes alternate class features from Martial Power 2, so that avid spoiler hunters such as myself can have a rough idea of the contents of the book.

These are the new class features that can be derived from the hybrid writeup:

- Brawler Style (replaces Weapon Talent). AKA Sword and Punch, we hyped about it here.
- Combat Agility (replaces Combat Superiority). Likely a Opportunity Attack-related, Dexterity dependent feature.

-Cunning Sneak (probably replaces Rogue Tactics). Stealth-related, maybe keying off Intelligence?
-Sharpshooter Talent (replaces Rogue Weapon Talent). A boost for ranged rogues, for sure.

- Hunter Fighting Style (replaces Fighting Style).
- Marauder Fighting Style (replaces Fighting Style). Uses two-handed weapons. Related to new at-will power, Marauder's Rush (spoiled here), which can be used with greataxes, at least.
- Running Attack (replaces Prime Shot). Almost certainly grants a conditional +1 to hit on melee attacks. I'd bet on "moving 3 squares" as the triger, like the Skirmish feature I proposed here.

- Canny Leader (replaces Combat Leader).
- Battlefront Leader (replaces Combat Leader).
- Archer Warlord (replaces Chain and Shield proficiency). Grants proficiency with bows and allows bow basic attacks with strength.
- Skirmishing Presence (replaces Combat Presence). Lets an ally shift on an Action Point. Keys off either Intelligence or Wisdom.

What's interesting here (other than the features themselves, which are rather inspired) is how each class has new options replacing features that were previously fixed. Up to now, a class build was defined by a choice of different options from a single feature, but with Martial Power 2, you have two feature sets to customize. This brings a huge improvement in variety, since the new features don't just add to existing combinations, but they multiply them. The model has shifted from a mere list of alternate features into a matrix.

If Martial Power 2 is a success (and I am inclined to think that it will) and more sequels for power source books come out, we can probably expect similar developments for most classes. The Feature Matrix has too many advantages to pass up. In addition to the increased variety, it opens up more design space (since there are only so many possible tweaks on a given feature). It also means that in order to use some new features from X Power 2, you don't need to give up the ones presented in X Power, so both books complement each other rather than compete. Finally, it allows replacing niche (Prime Shot, I'm looking at you) or subpar features, solving design flaws in certain classes or builds.

The following table shows the complete list of known features (classified by group) for each martial class, with the possible combinations before and after Martial Power 2. New options are colored in green. Due to the way the Rogue Tactics feature is written, it is possible that new choices in that group haven't been revealed in the Hybrid article. Other than that, I think all the new stuff is covered.


  1. To be fair, we saw this before. The Cleric being able to swap out Turn Undead for the martyr healing. The Paladin changing out Lay on Hands for another power.

    This though is swapping out static class features. Which IS nice.

  2. Yeah, I thought about those when writing the article, but there's a major difference: clerics and paladins had no class features to swap, to begin with! So Divine Power brought these classes from 0 customizable features to 1, whereas in MP2 it goes from 1 to 2.

    Admittedly, if you just count the raw number of class builds, clerics/paladins with different primary abilities ARE distinct builds, and DP is indeed a valid precedent.

  3. If the Warlock's Shadow Walk feature is available via the Hybrid Talent feat, cunning sneak rogues are going to absurdly outdamage everyone else in the game.