Monday, July 20, 2009

A close look at Arcane Power (III) - Bard Paragon and Epic encounter powers

We continue our analysis of new bard options in Arcane Power. I'm still experimenting a bit with the format, and today we will have the rest of bard encounter powers, both Paragon and Epic. These seem to be a lot more polished than their Heroic counterparts, and I only see a few of them as needing fixes, so rather than having a dedicated houserule section at the end, I'll just add the suggested changes at the end of each power that needs it.

Couplet of Deceptive Weakness Encounter 13
Power: *** - Fun: ***

You're granting an ally a move and an attack - almost a whole turn - in addition to your own attack, which didn't even cost a standard action! I would have called it uterly broken without blinking a few levels ago, even on a daily, but we're at paragon tier and playing a different game now. Of course it's on the powerful side of the curve but, as we will soon see, there is fierce competition for this power slot.

I also need to mention that this attack opens up lots of cool plays, and shows my favourite aspect of the leader role. Heals and buffs are fine, but nothing screams 'leader' like making your guys move here and do this at the right time.

Enduring Struggle Encounter 13
Power: *** - Fun: ***

Deal a lot of damage, then heal your whole party for a small amount without charging any healing surges - looks like a great deal to me. You do have to be a little careful with positioning to maximize this healing, and I'm completely fine with that - you just need to think a bit before using it, and the area is large enough to easily fit the whole team.

Insult of Passivity Encounter 13
Power: *** - Fun: *** (outstanding!)

Wow! You rarely see encounter power effects lasting for more than a turn, and for good reasons. Though I am against arbitrary exceptions to this rule by principle, this power is a small piece of art. The upkeep has the hefty restriction of not attacking the target, and the resulting daze condition is crippling without completely removing a character from battle. Getting this to last becomes its own minigame - profitable, yet not that easy to achieve.

Sharp Retort Encounter 13
Power: *** - Fun: ***

We are on a roll here, as this is yet another superb power. Unlike the rest, this one is heavily conditional attack that you can't just expect to work in a party that doesn't specifically support it. You'll need a lot of strong 'save ends' effects, but the reward is well worth it: a 'free' attack and a failed save.

I recognize they aren't so easy to make, and they have the risk of backfiring in the hands of non-optimizing players, but I'd really like to see more 'combination' powers like this one. They make character building even more interesting, with the possibility of great synergy between party members.

Slippery Feet Encounter 13
Power: ** - Fun: ***

After some truly devastating attacks, we get to one that is merely good, power-wise. It more than makes up for it by perfectly matching flavor, game mechanics and fun: your target behaves exactly like you would expect from someone with slippery feet, and you are encouraged to play with him for a turn, hitting him again and again to see him move out of control. A power that should see play out of sheer coolness, despite the lack in raw power.

Balance of Fortune Encounter 17
Power: ** - Fun: ***

Now, this is exactly what I expect from a luck-flavored prescient power: A way to temporarily screw both the target's offense and defense. Also, rolling to modify the result feels a lot more appropiate than applying static modifiers, even if on average it will end up the same.

If only lower level prescient powers had been designed like this...

Inescapable Fate Encounter 17
Power: ** - Fun: **

This is Cruel Fate, take two. Unlike its predecessor, it doesn't suck. The rider is acceptable when applied to all atacks for a turn, and the damage on this one is actually decent. Nothing amazing, but definitely playable.

Resounding War Cry Encounter 17
Power: *** - Fun: *** (great!)

Let's play whack-a-mole! I love how this plays out: you have a large area that can hit several targets. Then, there's a strong motivation for your allies to attack as many of the enemies you hit as possible, before the end of your next turn. The daze condition is usually worth this kind of effort, and you should get a pretty entertaining turn.

Strings of Fate Encounter 17
Power: ** - Fun: ***

A relatively straightforward power, this attack is accurate, can target up to three enemies without effort, and lowers their defenses. You will want more weapon users than implement wielders in your party to make the most of it.

This may not be as potent as it seems, in that a defense reduction is usually only needed in one enemy at a time - the one you focus on and kill, before switching to the next. Still, it makes a good opener: its very likely that one of the targets gets the debuff, and your allies can start attacking that one.

Turning the Tide Encounter 17
Power: *** - Fun: ***

This is the same great mechanic as Resounding War Cry, but the end result isn't as brilliant - this rewards hitting with as many party members as possible, having relative freedom on which of the affected enemies they should target. You won't need such a heavy change in tactics with this power.

Nevertheless, it's effective, and more interesting than just handing out healing surges..

Chant of Bad Fortune Encounter 23
Power: *** - Fun: ***
Wow! Area damage, huge synergy with "save ends" effects and free saving throws for everyone. Another incredibly versatile power, but it will take a party with strong ongoing

Mind Game Encounter 23
Power: * - Fun: **

This is worse in almost every conceivable way to Strings of Fate, as it lacks the (vital) extra accuracy and targets. The bonus granted on Reflex and Fortitude attacks is almost negligible, and depends heavily on your knowledge of the target's stats. More often than not, this will be used as a -3 or so to AC, which isn't terrible, but doesn't sound totally epic to me.

No, forget about that - it's absolutely underpowered for an epic power. Let's make a little experiment. Imagine for a moment that the same power was listed as level 1 - it actually fits well! We should do something about that.

My fix: Increase damage to 4d8 + Cha, and add "The target grants combat advantage to your allies, and takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls against them".

Reverberating Shot Encounter 23
Power: *** (Overpowered) - Fun: ***

Now, that IS what 'totally epic' sounds like. This is actually decent without a virtue bonus, but downright brutal when you're a Prescient. It doesn't even restrict the target of your allies' attacks, and serves both for offense and defense. Ironically, such a powerful rider on a hit makes you wish you had a leader granting a high bonus to hit, to make sure it works...

This is definitely one of the strongest bard encounter powers, and other useful epic attacks can look mediocre next to it. I think it can be toned down to more reasonable levels, while remaining a very competitive choice.

My Fix: Change the bonus/penalty with Virtue of Prescience to "1 + half your Wisdom modifier". A modifier of 4 or 5 points is still quite strong, but nowhere as ridiculous as the +-9 you could easily get before.

Sound Strike Encounter 23
Power: ** - Fun: ***

An ingenious way to couple bonus to hit and damage, this isn't as devastating as other powers in the same level, but looks exciting enough to try in play, nonetheless.

Since the difference between non-AC defenses is usually small, the most likely results when using this power are either to hit without a damage bonus, or to get the full extra 3d10 - just something to take into account.

Binding Rhyme Encounter 27
Power: ** - Fun: ***

Although this works fine by itself, you WANT to combine it with other forced movement powers to make it affect the whole opposing team. They will probably choose to move anyway, but 20 damage is a very respectable punishment, even at these levels.

A fun, game changing power. I want more of these!

Crescendo of Victory Encounter 27
Power: * - Fun: **

It does have the merit of being one of the very rare melee bard powers in the book, but the moderately useful rider is completely overshadowed by similar (ranged) powers of lower levels. This wouldn't look out of place if it were 10 levels lower.

My fix: This has an awesome name for a Concerted Effort-like effect, and is weak enough that you can just add that to the hit line: "At the end of each ally's turn, if that ally has hit the target increase thie bonus granted by 1".

Pounding Rhythm Encounter 27
Power: *** - Fun: ***

Another whack-a-mole power, you really, really want the trigger to activate on as many targets as possible. It even has single-target applications beyond what you'd usually find in an encounter power, as cautious initiative placement will allow you to stun the same enemy for two of its turns!

Second Chances Encounter 27
Power: ** - Fun: ***

Not the best option for its level, or even for the previous one. It provides a more than decent group boost, but competition is really amazing.

Strike from Legend Encounter 27
Power: ** - Fun: ***

It's good that the effect you're more likely to want (heal everybody!) is the easiest to get. It's even better to have the option of switching to a more aggressive bonus, though that will take some effort. You don't want to waste so much damage killing a minion to get the attack bonus, but eventually you will find some very bloodied enemy worth killing with this.

It's probably more accurate to think of this as a healing power with a drawback, which you will sometimes be unable to spend on the target you really want for fear of killing him. Of course, it is a drawback you shouldn't be too sad at triggering...
Read More......

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Divine Power revealed!

It looks like somebody has been able to get their hands on Divine Power already, since there's a forum thread on talking about the contents of the book. Forgive the messy writing and format, as I'm writing this a bit too late. Here are some of the items I found the most interesting, and my take on them:


The new, leaderish build really makes the avenger more of a team player than before. Its new Censure rewards attacking surrounded foes, and is my favourite so far just because it triggers off actions you (rather than your target) can control. You will start to see avengers actually getting bonus to damage. It works off Intelligence, and has a very playable at-will that grants extra damage to allies. Also, there is a ranged at-will that benefits from Oath of Enmity, though it is a bit lacking in damage.

Other random stuff includes a feat for marking your OoE target.


Oh. My. God. (No, not that Tempus guy, some of us still have principles). I'll just say this - I'm looking forward to building and playing a paladin, somewhere. It seems they have addressed brilliantly every single flaw the class previously had. There's a Cha-based at-will that you can use as a basic attack, removing the immediate need to take the Melee Training feat. Also, the previously discussed Divine Sanction can be applied from another at-will that, appropiately enough, uses either Strength or Charisma. This completely changes (for the better) a Paladin's defense against groups!

It doesn't end there, though. Strength paladins are finally recognized as a legitimate build with a feat that adds Str mod to Divine Challenge damage. Of course, this also means that Cha/Str builds, and dragonborn PCs in particular have potentially huge challenges, and may be very successful despite ignoring Wisdom. Then again, there are great rewards for high-Wisdom characters, in the form of alternatives to (the already pretty good) Lay on Hands: one was already previewed, and removed conditions on you or your allies, whereas the third one, Ardent Vow, allows you to apply Divine Sanction until the end of the encounter and grants some extra damage.

So, we have three different, viable ability distributions to build a Paladin (Str/Wis, Cha/Wis, Str/Cha)? I can't believe they have managed to find an upside for the class having two main ability scores...


Most awesome feat ever: Pacifist Healer greatly improves your healing but introduces a huge drawback: you get punished -a LOT- for hurting bloodied enemies! To support this, there's a new at-will that deals no damage but reduces defenses and grants some healing. In addition, Strength-based clerics get a much needed second playable at-will, a melee strike that heals allies. Someone clearly wants clerics to become top healers again.

The new, alternate Channel Divinity power weakens you to heal an ally - a cool option for all clerics, and plain awesome for the pacifists who couldn't care less that they are weakened. Finally, another, very relevant feat is Healer's Implement, which adds implement bonus to your healing powers.


Controller at-wills continue their slow, but unstoppable power creep - Someday we will have no choice but to recognize the controller as an essential party role. We have a ranged attack dealing slightly low damage to up to three targets (what happened to Divine Bolts?), a blast 3 inflicting a minor penalty to enemy defenses, and Mantle of the Infidel (what a cool name!), which has a very long range and increases the penalty from the marked condition.

I have seen some really worthwile powers for the Malediction Invoker build, and you will feel the urge to hurt your invoker to achieve supreme power.

Covering all divine classes, you have also the new Domain feats. These all seem to provide very useful bonuses, though I couldn't analyze them in detail as each one triggers off several different at-wills, making them harder to evaluate on first sight.
Read More......

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Class acts: the Ranger" article on DDI

"See the Verdant Silence ranger build and theverdant silence weapon in this month's Class Acts."

UPDATE: My evaluation of this article may have been excessively optimistic. In an unprecedented move, WoTC has published a heavily rewritten revision, due to "unacceptable quality". Several powers have been tweaked or redesigned. Although there are many changes, the fact that many of them were inexplicably listed as 'Immediate Interrupt' yet had no trigger seems to be the most urgent fix. These have been changed to Standard actions. Oddly, in my first reading of the article I completely missed that - action type is one of those lines that rarely provides new information, and often gets skipped.

There is no such build. If, like me, you read this introduction and start building expectations while the .pdf loads, you will be up for a bit of a letdown. Specifically, none of the following items, which I was hoping to see, is actually in the article:
  • New class build, with a cool class feature.
  • New, non-terrible, at-will powers.
  • More feats to expand ranger options.
To sum up, this Class Acts does nothing to address the most pressing concerns I have with the class. What it does have, however, is a series of Encounter and Utility Powers of all levels, playable and moderately interesting, though not terribly exciting. There is no clear theme that I can make out - just a lot of "hit stuff twice, gain a bonus or two". On the other hand, all utilities are very nice, and encounter powers to boot, and I expect to see many of them as the new picks of choice for their level - they are all on the offensive side, triggering when you down a foe or when you suffer a specific type of attack, granting you extra attacks or healing. (UPDATE: Many of these utilities have been toned down since I wrote this. No more free attacks and per-encounter healing, to begin with).

To the article's merit, none of the dozen powers presented looks obviously broken. (UPDATE: D&D development team disagrees with me here, so take this opinion with a grain of salt ;) ) Also, the magic weapon giving name to the article provides a cool bonus for dual wielders: free shifts when hitting twice. Nothing that puts it remotely close to the Bloodclaws and Reckless weapons out there (thankfully), but an interesting property nonetheless. It's a pity that the badass ranger in the picture won't be able to use it, though - it only works for heavy blades.

Read More......

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New feats and multiclass rules for your psion

(Edit: Updated multiclass feats to work with all psionic classes)

Unlike the monk preview, the psion class has been published with a small selection of feats for all tiers. Although the higher level ones are excellent, at heroic there isn't really much choice: you have Discipline Adept, which is decent enough, but I find Precise Mind unplayable before you have 6 power points, and just mediocre once you do. As for Exchange Power, you can only activate it in parties where several PCs have power points, which is an extremely unlikely scenario right now.

With this in mind (heh), I have made up several feats to expand your options when building psions, emphasizing their mechanical and flavor themes. In addition, I have adapted the multiclass feat rules, implementing new feats that work with a psion's augmentable at-wills and lack of encounter powers. I hope you enjoy them!

Heroic Tier feats

Inspiring domination.
Requirement: Psion
Benefit: When an enemy you dominate makes an attack, or when an enemy makes an attack granted by one of your psion powers, that enemy gains a +2 bonus to the attack roll

Mental rebuke
Requirement: Psion
Benefit: When an enemy makes an attack against your will defense, that enemy gains a -1 penalty to all its defenses until the end of its next turn.

Phobic assault
Requisites: Psion, Cha 15.
Benefit: When you attack with a ranged psychic power and you have combat advantage, you gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls.

Psychic Surge
Benefit: When you hit a target that has psychic resistance with a psychic power, your psychic powers deal 5 extra psychic damage against that target until the end of your next turn.

Inertial Shield
Requirement: Any psychic class, Wis 13
Benefit: While you have a hand free, you gain a +1 shield bonus to AC and Reflex. You are considered to be using a shield as long as you benefit from this bonus.

Improved Inertial Shield
Requirement: Any psychic class, Wis 15, Inertial Shield
Benefit: While you have a hand free, you gain a +2 shield bonus to AC and Reflex. You are considered to be using a shield as long as you benefit from this bonus.

Paragon Tier feats

Master of puppets
Requirement: Psion, 11th level
Benefit: When you daze or stun a creature with a psionic effect, you can slide that creature 1 square at the beginning of each of its turns until the condition ends, as a free action.

Epic Tier feats

Greater domination
Requirement: Psion, 21st level
Benefit: Enemies dominated by you can take an additional movement action during their turns. You choose that action.

Multiclass feats

Psionic Initiate [Multiclass Psion]
Prerequisite: Int 13
Benefit: You gain training in the Arcana skill.
Choose a 1st-level psion at-will power. You can use that power once per encounter. That power loses its augmentations.
In addition, you can wield psion implements.

Novice Psionic power
Prerequisite: Any psionic multiclass feat, 4th level
Benefit: You can swap one encounter power you know to gain one psionic at-will power of the same level or lower from the class you multiclassed into. You can use that power once per encounter. In addition, you gain power points depending on the level of the swapped power:

Level 1 to level 10 - 2 PPs
Level 11 to level 20 - 4 PPs
Level 21 to level 30 - 6 PPs

Novice Non-Psionic power
Prerequisite: Any psionic class, Psionic Augmentation class feature, any non-psionic multiclass feat, 4th level.
Benefit: You can swap one psion at-will power that you know and has augmentations for one encounter power of the same level or lower from a class you multiclassed into. In addition, you lose power points depending on the level of the power you swapped out:

Level 1 to level 10- 2 PPs
Level 11 to level 20 - 4 PPs
Level 21 to level 30 - 6 PPs
Read More......

Friday, July 10, 2009

More Divine Power info (D&D podcast)

Today's D&D podcast had a few Divine Power teasers. Here's what caught my attention.

Regarding clerics, the new build is called the Shielding Cleric, and will be focused on granting bonuses to your teammates. In addition, there will be an option to swap out the Turn Undead feature for a power called Healer's Mercy. The change from a very situational power to a healing-oriented one looks like a great boost for all clerics, as long as it isn't as terrible as Divine Fortune...

As for paladins, we finally know what Divine Sanction is about (as I had been intrigued by the subject since the name came up in the feat preview). As we suspected, it is a marking mechanic related to Divine Challenge. But, rather than a replacement or a rules upgrade (as had also been speculated), Divine Sanction is the version of DC you can get as an special effect of powers or feats. It still marks and deals some radiant damage as punishment, but the length of the effect is specified by its source, and there is no engagement clause. Hopefully this will alleviate the paladin's problems defending against groups of enemies.

There weren't many news for avengers and invokers, though. They talked about the already known, new avenger build: The Commanding Avenger, or something like that. Its class feature is called Censure of Unity. Like the name suggests, this one will emphasize a leader secondary role, playing better with the rest of your party than previous avengers. As someone joked on a forum: 'Avengers assemble!'. And they talked about the malediction invoker, previewed on the D&D site - nothing new here. Read More......

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A close look at Arcane Power (II) - Bard heroic powers

Without further introduction, these are my opinions on heroic tier bard powers from Arcane Power.

Jinx Shot At-will
Power: ** - Fun: ***

One of the coolest at-wills out there. The effect is not terribly powerful, as the target can choose to move before he attacks (and maybe falls prone) or, if movement isn't needed, attack and stand up right away. Still, there are many tricks to pull off, and knocking prone with a ranged attack is way better than in melee.

Firemetal Shot Encounter 1
Power: * - Fun: ***

I love the rider on this power, but the overall strength is a bit lacking except in the most favourable scenarios, where it does shine. With an intelligence of 18 or better, you'd need around two allies succesfully hitting to break even with the average damage of a power of this level. Since hit chance tends to be slightly above 50%, this means the whole party has to focus on the target for a whole turn.

Multi-attack powers improve this outcome, as do action points, so this can potentially deal a lot of damage. Still, I'd prefer it to work a bit better on average cases.

Focused Sound Encounter 1
Power: ** - Fun: *

I don't think this is worth it before your party gets +2 weapons, but once you do, it's moderately interesting. Critical hit damage can be optimized to absurd levels (see builds exploiting RRoT), and you can use this in combination with encounter powers or dailies for greater effect. That said, even though the numbers are probably OK, I don't find the effect appealing. I guess it's a bit too inconsistent for me.

As a point in its favour, and unlike Firemetal Shot above, this does enhance the bard's next power, so you should take that into account, too.

Prophesied Strike Encounter 1
Power:* - Fun: *

This could almost be an at-will power, and it would be a pretty good one, but as an encounter attack, I find it lacking. You improve your chance to hit with a real attack - which this isn't.

Prophetic Action Encounter 1
Power: ** - Fun: *

The damage is decent enough, and the way the special effect is triggered is pretty flavorful, as you can justify the attack missing becouse of the extra movement. However, it also means that 50% of the time, when the target's attack actually hits, this won't do anything special. I'd expect something more impressive for such an unreliable effect.

Thunders Calling Encounter 1
Power: ** - Fun: **

This is outclassed by Blunder, but still decent. However, the extra attack being ranged instead of melee and the moderate distance you slide the target can be useful to run away from it. Useful in combination with slow effects.

Cruel Fate Encounter 3
Power: * - Fun: *

Most of the time, Firemetal shot will add more damage than this, for a single attack. And a single attack is all you will get enhanced. Abysmal.

Entangling Opening Encounter 3
Power: ** - Fun: ***

This is almost the same as always knocking the target prone, only cooler. Bonus effects on successive hits is one of my favourite bard mechanics, and this power gets it right.

Recitation of Foreknowledge Encounter 3
Power: ** - Fun: ***

None of the effects are mind-blowing, and the combination isn't particularly flavorful of synergic, but it sure looks versatile. This almost guarantees immunity to OAs, which isn't that frequent, and should prove handy.

Rhyme of the Blood-Seeking Blade Encounter 3
Power: *** (Overpowered!) - Fun:***

Dealing basic attack damage as an immediate action already makes this a great encounter power, damage wise. Turning an ally's miss into a hit on top of that means it's the equivalent of a double attack power that doesn't cost you a standard action. Way too good.

Song of the New Dawn Encounter 3
Power:*** - Fun:***

Free saving throws are always welcome. This grants them with a bonus, potentially to several allies at once, and rewards careful positioning. Brilliant.

Chillsong Stroke Encounter 7
Power:** - Fun:***

I just love the synergy between this power's effects - just try it with a reach weapon for an extra bit of awesomeness. One of my favourites.

Insightful Shot Encounter 7
Power: *** - Fun: **

Power-wise, a 2[W] attack vs reflex is often enough at these levels, regardless of the riders. The boost granted by this attack will be great (3+) for AC attacks, not so much for the rest. Just make sure an ally caster doesn't spend the bonus, as you really want the next hit to come from a weapon wielder.

Rewrite the Future Encounter 7
Power: ? - Fun: ***

It's really hard to intuitively evaluate how strong this is, but it sure looks cool. I'll reserve judgement until I see it in play or do the math.

Song of Duplicitous Allure Encounter 7
Power: ** - Fun: ***

Although the potential of multiple activations isn't as good as it could be if you pushed the target instead of pulling, your allies will be able to attack in melee, move him one square, and walk away freely, among other tricks. This is on top of the usual forced movement strategies, which I happen to enjoy a lot.

Theft of Life Encounter 7
Power: *** - Fun: ***

Bards get surprisingly few healing powers, for a leader class, but this one is as good as it gets. Also, the flavor fits like a glove, and the position requirements add a nice strategic element.

Timely Distraction Encounter 7
Power: ** - Fun: **

Bonus points for the funny flavor text. Even if you'd expect a better effect for a power of this level, it's still (barely) playable

Arrow of Warning Daily 1
Power: *** (Overpowered) - Fun: ***

The ability to grant an ally an at-will power (rather than a basic attack), and as an immediate action to boot, is full of strategic opportunities - from pushing a melee attacker out of reach to trigger a striker's retaliating attack, making the target invisible or just dealing a lot of damage. I just though of the idea of this power triggering Commander's Strike making a nearby fighter hit and mark the enemy - though I couldn't say if that would allow an eventual Combat Challenge attack.

Those are the good news. The bad news is that the damage dealt by the power is completely sick, putting it head and shoulders above the rest of bard dailies of this level and the next, as well as those of most non-wizard classes. It looks like someone at Wizards tends to severely underestimate how good it is for an attack not to require a standard action. This may not be as blatantly wrong as, say, a barbarian's curtain of steel, but it's close.

Echoing Roar Daily 1
Power: * - Fun: *

Any power coming right after Arrow of Warning is likely to be a letdown, but this one is terrible by its own merits. The Echoing Roar condition is too insignificant and has too short a duration to have any relevance, so this is merely a low-damage power that deals 5 ongoing whether you hit or miss. Weak and unexciting.

Malevolent Mischief Daily 1
Power: ** - Fun: *

Another daily inflicting a condition that, despite its cool name, is unlikely to have much effect on the battlefield. The "save ends" duration is quite unfortunate in this case, as an awkward initiative order could result in the target saving before you even had a chance to slow it! You shouldn't count on this power resulting on a target slowed for more than one turn.

That said, this one has a decent damage, so that turn of slow makes it playable. Kind of.

Saga of Rivalry Daily 1
Power: ** - Fun: **

This one, on the other hand, while not exactly the stuff of legends, is decent enough. Like its predecessors, it offers a short effect of questionable utility; unlike them, it adds, on top of that, a minor bonus to an ally for the rest of the encounter.

Satire of Fortune Daily 1
Power: * - Fun: *

A guaranteed reroll makes this a Prescient Bard powers, though it falls short of turning it into a good one. A daily power should bring someting more to the table.

Arrow of Ill Omen Daily 5
Power: ** - Fun: ***

You will get a critical hit... eventually. Not for the impatient types, but the delay is a great way to balance a really powerful effect. This being an appropiate rider for a daily of its level shows just how crazy RRoT was (and still is, to some point).

Compulsion Daily 5
Power: ** - Fun: ***

This will be a blast to play, and you'll wish that it lasted longer. It is an immobilize effect with an amusing side effect, though, so lasting until the opponent saves is a good deal.

Rhyme of Fire Daily 5
Power: *** - Fun: ***

Great way to quickly take down a boss. Simple, yet effective - a perfect leader power.

Strictures of Fortune Daily 5
Power: ** - Fun:**

A bit too situational for my tastes, but it will be well worth it when it works. The question lies in how much metagaming does it really take to play it effectively. A level 5 party should have enough experience to know that all dragons have recharge effects for this to trigger, but other enemies won't be as obvious.

Vigorous Cadence Daily 5
Power: *** - Fun: ***

This doesn't compare favourably to Stirring Shout when the whole party is beating on the bad guy. On the other hand, it's still pretty good, and works wonders if you plan to leave the target alone with a defender. When in doubt, take both.

Counterpoint Daily 9
Power: * - Fun: ***

You will need to gang up on the target, and the effect doesn't last that long, and he could just shift and attack, or get lucky and don't miss... Still, this impacts both your strategy and your opponent's, and has the potential for memorable histories. A fighter in your group will make this easier to pull off.

Rain of Starlight Daily 9
Power: ** - Fun: **

Yet another short, rarely relevant condition, this one comes attached to an area attack (thus affecting 2 or 3 enemies at once), which saves this power from mediocrity.

Saga of Vengeance Daily 9
Power: *** - Fun: ***

From the makers of Stirring Shout and Vigorous Cadence. I don't mind so much this kind of repetition, as it allows some cool thematic builds. Also, using several of them on a single boss looks completely unfair (in a good way).

Symphony of Misfortune Daily 9
Power: ** - Fun: ***

This does so many things! It may not be a powerhouse, but you have guaranteed fun for the rest of the encounter. Also, it's an ally-friendly zone, so take this into account in your tactics.

Wail of Anguish Daily 9
Power: *** (very broken) - Fun: ***

The basic idea is cute, but the damage is absolutely excessive. This turns you into a walking, ally-friendly Stinking Cloud, and the shift prevention is a nice added bonus. Having to roll to hit and spend opportunity actions does little to achieve balance.

Canon of Avoidance Utility 2
Power: ** - Fun: ***

Though I don't think this would be unfair if it cost a minor action, it still makes a tempting, if a bit painful, option for a standard action. Such a bonus can improve a defender's survivability quite a bit, and the option to switch target on an emergency is an interesting one.

Clockwork Precision Utility 2
Power: * - Fun: *

I hate the aid another mechanic, with a passion. It's mostly pointless in combat (though, ironically, I remember a bard in my group, back in the 3e days, who used to turn to this out of frustration) and does evil things to the skill system. The same applies to this power.

Concerted Effort Utility 2
Power: * - Fun: **

The standard action requirement kills this for me, as the bonus is just too brief. Still, I can see this being kind of useful if your party wants to go nova and blow everything it has in a single turn. Take this for fun in games with 6-7 party members.

Moment of Escape Utility 2
Power: ** - Fun: ***

The bard's counterpart to Knight's Move, it really makes you feel as a leader for your party. I'd take this for all my utility slots if they allowed it.

Words of Protective Fate Utility 2
Power: * - Fun: **

Monster critical hits just aren't as dangerous as PCs'. This would be a far easier sell if it didn't cost you a whopping standard action. At least, you can preemptively cast it before entering a boss lair.

Chord of Resilience Utility 6
Power: *** - Fun: **

As good as damage prevention effects get. Which is to say, a lot.

Dramatic Shift Utility 6
Power: ** - Fun: ***

It's Kobold time! Granting your whole party the shifty ability for a turn each encounter is just great. Your allies should love you for taking this.

Glimpse the Future Utility 6
Power: ** - Fun: **

A safety net for important dailies, this all but guarantees a hit when you need it. Make it count.

Song of Speed Utility 6
Power: * - Fun: **

It's unfortunate that this one is published right next to Mass Kobold form. Maybe if it affected several targets?

Synchronicity Utility 6
Power: ** - Fun: **

The mandatory initiative-related utility. Everybody gets one, and it's usually OK.

Break Enchantment Utility 10
Power: ** - Fun: **

A classic. Cute, and you will always find a decent use. It may be harder to find an encounter that really makes it shine, though.

Chant of Accuracy Utility 10
Power: *** - Fun: **

For that time in the day when you want to unleash hell on your opponents. Remember that the bard will actually get two turns worth of bonus.

Idyll of Calm Utility 10
Power: * - Fun: **

I'm sure there is a monster somewhere in the manual that gets completely hosed by this power. You may reach your Epic Destiny without finding a good chance to use such a situational ability, though.

Illuminating Stars Utility 10
Power: ** - Fun: **

No noticeable effect in combat, but the bonus should be good for skill-intensive games. Maybe even too good - it's hard to say, with the skill system.

Mantle of Unity Utility 10
Power: *** - Fun: ***

A strong defensive power with a wacky mechanic and great flavor. Good all around.

Saviors Song Utility 10
Power: *** - Fun: ***

Any encounter with a heavy saving throw component will become so much easier. Don't forget to keep singing "save, save, save" or a similar tune while it lasts.

Fixing broken stuff

After marking a few powers as "broken", it's only fair to explain what I would consider fair for them. To that effect, I'd apply the following fixes:

  • Arrow of Warning Daily 1
    Change damage to 1[W]+Charisma. This will still outdamage, more often than not, regular 3[W] powers, but it will be a much closer call.

  • Rhyme of the Blood-Seeking Blade Encounter 3
    Change damage to just Charisma. Still more than worth taking - really, I would probably want it if there was no damage whatsoever.

  • Wail of Anguish Daily 9
    I think the right call is to leave this one's damage as just the Charisma modifier. This severely changes the power's use, though, as it's no longer a viable short-term damage source. It can pay off over the course of a whole encounter, particulartly if you take into account that you never spent a standard action for it. As a result of the change, you might find it convenient to sometimes not spend the opportunity action in order to be able to make a "real" OA - I'm fine with that, since you'll have plenty of chances to trigger opportunity wails.

Fixing not-really-broken stuff

Bringing mediocre powers to a playable level isn't as urgent as dealing with the overpowered ones, but I enjoy it nevertheless. Here you have some low-priority patches, in case you are interested:

- Firemetal Shot: Change 'whenever an ally hits' into 'whenever you or an ally hit'. Just a bit more damage, which is what I missed here.

- Prophesied Strike: Move the reroll effect from the Hit line to an Effect line. Having the same effect, but reliably, turns the power into something useful for a party`s strategy.

- Prophetic Action: Change 'the target misses' to 'the target hits or misses'. It's a fun, mostly harmless effect, it deserves to work when you want it to.

- Echoing Roar: My change for this one is a bit radical - let the echoing roar effect last the whole encounter, take away the ongoing damage, an add 'whenever an ally hits the target, he deals 5 ongoing thunder damage to it (save ends)'. This is a great rider, but still below that of Rhyme of Fire (level 5 daily), making it fair in my book.

- Malevolent Mischief: My initial idea is sadly already taken - see the Burdening Dirge power from Dragon magazine. Sad as it may be, changing the duration from 'save ends' to 'until the end of your next turn' actually makes the power more potent and easy to use, so I'd try that.

(Edit - new idea for a fix) After writing this article, I have come up with an idea for a mechanic that would work really well with this power. At the end of the effect section, add: "The target cannot save against this power if it has moved since the end of its last turn".

- Satire of Fortune: Add a symmetric effect affecting the target's attacks, 'The next time the target hits with an attack during this encounter, you roll a d20 and replace the target's attack roll with yours'. This should be worth almost as much as weakening the target for a turn, and fits the theme.

- Cruel Fate: Make the effect apply to all attacks from allies. With that you still don't match the bonus you'd gain with Firemetal Shot, so add 'The next time the target hits with an attack before the end of your next turn, he rerolls the attack's damage and uses the lower result'. Again, a thematic effect to fill the power gap.

- Song of Speed : make it work on two targets.

- Counterpoint: Add 'Aftereffect: whenever the target misses with an attack, it provokes an opportunity attack from an ally of your choice (save ends)'
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Psion in 4E: Mind-blowing!

If you are a DDI subscriber, go login to D&D Compendium right now. If you aren't, this could be a good time to start. The first playable chapter of Player's Handbook 3 has just been released on the compendium and character builder, as promised. It shows the new Psion class, featuring the weirdest class mechanig yet seen on 4E. Psionic Power Points are back, there are augmented at-wills instead of encounter powers, and the D&D universe will never be the same.

An iconic Psion

Ok, maybe I got a bit carried away. But there has never been an exception to 4e's strict power system before. Amazingly, this might not break the game, after all. The basic principle isn't too complex: you start at level 1 with 2 at-wills and 2 power points (more on that later), gain an extra at-will and power points at level 3, and from there on, you get new PPs and an option to replace an at-will with another of higher level whenever you would get an encounter power.

Power points are used to augment at-will powers, enhancing their effects or damage. Several augmentations are listed per power, but only one can be used at any given time. The beauty of the system lies in the fact that at any given level, if you use the strongest augmentations available you get an equivalent effect to that of another class' encounter powers. And you have roughly enough power points to get as many such pseudo-encounters as the number of encounter powers other classes would have. So it's kind of a wash.

Except it isn't - there is the option to use lesser augmentations, which gives you unprecedented flexibility.

I'll make a more in-depth post on this topic one of this days. Meanwhile, here are a few cool compendium links (subscriber-only, I'm afraid), but you'd better check it out for yourselves.

Dishearten (at-will 1) - The ultimate controller at-will
Memory Hole (at-will 1) - Are psions pacting with fey?
Betrayal (At-will 1 ) - Reverse Commander's Strike!
Mental Trauma (Daily 1) - Despite power points, daily powers still exist.
Mind Blast (Daily 9) - Go Illithid on your enemies!
Dominate (Daily 15) - Guess what this one does...

Full Psion class description.
My poor tooltips won't do the job here, just click on it.
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

A close look at Arcane Power (I) - Bard class builds


The Prescient Bard is a new class build, focusing on ranged weapon powers. It uses Wis as secondary score, and the main theme is modification of die rolls, both of allies and enemies. It's linked to a new class feature, the Virtue of Prescience, which prevents attacks against your allies once per encounter.

How good/interesting is Virtue of Prescience?

Although its power level is adequate, it's hardly a compelling class feature, particularly when compared to the alternatives. Previous Virtues were usable once per turn, when specific but frequent conditions were fulfilled. In contrast, Virtue of Prescience activates once per encounter, and has a stronger effect to compensate. You do have greater control over when and how you use it, but overall it feels more like a (very strong) utility power than a class feature.

I may be judging this virtue too harshly - after all, there is enough precedent in perfectly valid class features that are encounter powers, such as Channel Divinity or Wizard Implement Mastery. In fact, this could be considered an improved version of the Wizard Staff Mastery encounter power (though that came bundled with a very nice static bonus to AC). On the other hand, this has to compete with other bardic virtues, and they look far more appealing to me due to their frequency of use.

Who should use this build?

Players who want an archer bard have a strong incentive to go Prescient, as it is the only build whose secondary ability enhances encounter powers with ranged weapons. That said, Arcane Power has an awful lot of bard powers for bows and crossbows, so it shouldn't be difficult to make a character without virtue-specific powers. Conversely, no melee powers are supported by Virtue of Prescience, so this isn't the best of options for front line bards.

Races with high wisdom may feel attracted to Prescience, but note that dwarves and devas (two very popular Wisdom races, in my experience) are also good Valerous and Cunning bards, erspectively. I'm afraid that, all other things equal, the other virtues make better choices than Prescience.

How good/interesting are the feature-specific feats?

Extended Prescience (Heroic feat)
Power: **
Fun: **

Your staple prescient feat, this isn't that interesting when you are just saving a random ally from an attack, but will excel for protecting defenders. Use this at the right time when the party defender is engaging several enemies, and you can prevent a good amount of damage.

Prescient Fortification (Heroic feat)
Power: * (** with other feats)
Fun: * (** with other feats)

This is a curious case, in that I wouln't ever take it by itself, but it does have a nice synergy with other Prescience-enhancing feats. With Extended Prescience you can have an almost invincible character for a turn, and in combination with Prescient Aid you can but guarantee a hit, if you really need to.

Prescient Aid (Paragon feat)
Power: **
Fun: *

The option to use your Prescience for offense rather than defense is undoubtedtly powerful, and likely to become the default choice when you reach paragon. However, I really dislike the philosophy behind this, as the new functionality usually obsoletes the previous one, and it has has zero synergy with Extended Prescience. Not that I'd like the attack bonus to last for a full turn - now, that WOULD be annoyingly powerful.

Prescient Resurgence (Epic feat)
Power: **
Fun: ***

What took them so long? Additional uses of VoP are definitely welcome, and I think any Prescient Bard worth his salt will eventually take this. It's also an appropiate effect for epic tier, as I think this might be a bit too good at lower levels.

Is there anything that should be fixed or houseruled?

When I look at Virtue of Prescience, I really, really feel like it's asking for some additional effect. Not power-wise, as much as in terms of fun gameplay - other bards get to do cool stuff every turn! How could we solve this? I'd like this Virtue to be relevant more than once per encounter, but I'm not really comfortable with granting extra uses of the encounter power - it's a pretty potent one, after all. So we should look at other kinds of effects. I propose the following feat:

Prescient Advice
Tier: Heroic
Prerequisites: Bard, Virtue of Prescience class feature
Benefit: When you roll initiative, as a free action, you may grant an ally a power bonus to initiative equal to your Wisdom modifier. This doesn't spend your Virtue of Prescience, but it counts as a use of the feature for the purposes of other feats and features.
(This would work with Prescient Fortification, as well as the Karmic Shaper paragon path)

I think initiative-related effects fit perfectly with the flavor of the Virtue, and this is a great way to make the whole party excited about your prescience. Generous DMs might consider giving this for free to their prescient bard, though I see it fine as a feat.

As I commented on the feat section, I'm not satisfied with the implementation of Prescient Aid. I'd consider a revision of the feat that, while not as strong for purely offensive purposes, integrated the regular feature and related feats, rather than ignoring them. It also adds a really epic dimension to your VoP activations:

Prescient Aid (revised)
Tier: Paragon
Prerequisites: 11th level, bard, Virtue of Prescience class feature
Benefit: When you use your Virtue of Prescience to grant a power bonus to an ally's defense, that ally gains that bonus to the next attack roll it makes before the end of his next turn.
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A close look at Arcane Power - Introduction

Today, I start a new article series featuring an idea that I've wanted to try for a while: A book review. I know it's hardly a groundbreaking concept, but I'm going to add a little twist. Rather than doing the sensible thing and provide a general overview of the book, pointing out its highlights and any broken stuff that has slipped through, I'll just go over every single thing in the book.

Ok, I'm exaggerating, but not that much. I'll probably leave some stuff behind, as I don't care much for epic destinies or paragon paths. But I do intend to look at class features, powers and feats, providing as much insight as I can, and giving some rough ratings. I won't put too much emphasis on those, and I won't just value strength from a character optimization standpoint. If you're looking for that kind of things, I'd recommend one of the many Class Handbooks in Wizards CharOp boards, as well as Keterys' excellent power grading threads at EnWorld. Instead, I'll rate both strength and (subjective) gameplay interest, using up to three stars - one star meaning weak or boring stuff, and three pointing something particularly strong or cool. Of course, there will be some correlation between both parameters, as it's rarely fun to play with crappy powers or feats. But sometimes it happens. In addition, I will mark in red any power I see as broken, indicating the reason.

As an example, this is what it would look like:

Jinx Shot (Bard at-will)
Power: **
Fun: ***

For each power or feat, there will be a paragraph or two of commentary. Since I can't copy the rules text, and adding short descriptions of each item would be far too much work, I'll be making extensive use of my new Compendium tooltip tech. I don't know if this will make the long lists of powers unreadable for those without a DDI subscription or an open copy of Arcane Power, so I'm open to suggestions.

Of course, as the readers of this blog (the two of you!) will already know, I just love fixing rules and coming up with new stuff, so at the end of each post there will be a short section with houserules related to the commented material.

Enough explanations, we can begin with the articles. The first one will be, by strict page order, about bard class builds. I hope you enjoy it!
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Divine Power preview: feats!

Lots of info today! Today's excerpt of Divine Power has a bunch of divine feats - probably most, if not all, of the non-race-specific heroic ones. Also not included are Domain Feats, or any other deity-specific feat. Here's a quick review on them.

(EDIT: I have later realized that these are Paragon Tier feats. This review looked at them as options for Heroic PCs, so some comments could be a bit off)

Generic feats. There are three types of effects.
  • Channel divinity feats: Armored by faith and Darkfoe. They seem to provide a bonus when you spend CD, in addition to the chosen CD power. Still, no sign of any ability to recharge CD - maybe at Paragon?
  • Radiant damage mastery: Clinging Radiance allows you to ignore concealment when you use a radiant attack, and Pervasive Light makes all your powers count as radiant to the purposes of enemy vulnerabilities.
  • Divine healing: Invigorating Critical gets you free healing for your allies when you make a critical hit, and Saving Grace allows you to give up a succesful saving throw to allow an ally to make a saving throw.

Avenger. A few interesting, censure-specific options. I really like Censure's Grip, which prevents your OoE target from shifting when you hit with combat advantage. Avenging Surge, for the new build, grants temp. HP when an ally hits your OoE, which is pretty cool.

Cleric. Some boosts to Turn Undead, like Swift Turning, which turns it into a minor action. Narrow, but very strong. There are also ways to enhance Healing Word, such as Extended Healing (which increases its range, in case you ever missed that) and the very intriguing Radiant Vessel, which lets you "Use radiant power to enhance your healing word". We will see how that one turns out, but the idea looks cool.

Invoker. Several minor bonuses triggering on your Divine Covenant effects. Of those, I like Forceful Covenant, which adds 1 to the push effect of Covenant of Malediction, and Warding Covenant, which somehow protects the ally you slide with Covenant of Preservation against Combat Advantage. A feat that all invokers will want to take is Invoker's Blaze, as it increases fire and radiant damage and gets a boost when you're bloodied.

Paladins get my favourite feat so far: Honored Foe turns you into a sort of (pre-errata) mini-Battlerager, as you get temporary hit points when marked enemies attack you. We'll see what kind of power level they have given this, but since it has no other requirements, it looks like a well needed general boost to paladins. I'm concerned that other defenders might get it too easily via multiclassing, though. Resurgent Attack is another very nice feat, providing a decent bonus to attack rolls whenever you spend a healing surge (which Paladins do a lot). No racial requirements here (just a lot of Str.), but dwarven paladins will kill for this.

There's a feat called Untiring Virtue that grants you extra Lay on Hands uses (at last!), with a mechanic I really like - rather than getting extra uses up front, you recover them when you reach a milestone. Though the previewed tooltip doesn't specify, it would be cool if this worked on each milestone, and not just the first. In addition, this feat also recharges other class features (presumably replacing Lay on Hands).

I finish my commentary on paladin feats (paladins really got a lot of stuff, here) with an irritating one: Persistent Challenge removes the much maligned engagement clause from Divine Challenge. DMs, give your players this for free, please!

I like what I'm seeing. They'll still make good classes out of Cleric and Paladins

Bonus section - Random stuff revealed:

  • New Avenger build is called Censure of Unity. I'd say it's themed around your allies attacking your OoE target.
  • Class feature of new Cleric build, called Healer's Mercy. It seems to be an area effect affecting your allies.
  • New Invoker covenant is Covenant of Malediction (already previewed)
  • New Paladin class features: Ardent vow and Call of virtue. These seem to belong to different builds. Also, they appear to replace Lay on Hands and, like it, have a limited number of uses per day, probably linked to a secondary ability modifier.
  • Replacement for Divine Challenge? This is ambiguous, as the feat entry looks bugged, but there is a mention of a Divine Sanction challenge.
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Errata FAIL

One little thing I missed on my previous post: The text versions of the new errata include for the first time an explanation from the designers. I'll comment on these tomorrow, but I felt I HAD to show you this:

Obviously, this errata needs its own errata. I shudder at the thought of a Dual Strike that included a Strength modifier to damage... Read More......

One errata to fix them all!

The rule updates for july have just come out, and I'm really, really impressed. Although the number of changes isn't huge, the accuracy and quality of the fixes is unprecedented. Seven changes affecting five of the most problematic rules elements in the game. You will no longer have to worry about banning/houseruling any of the following:
  • Rain of Blows (broken Fighter encounter power)
  • Righteous Rage of Tempus (obscene Channel Divinity feat)
  • Battlerager Vigor (broken Fighter class feature)
  • Dual Strike (broken Fighter at-will... do I see a pattern, here?)
  • Guileful Switch (time warping Warlord utility)

So, what did they change?

Rain of Blows

Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC, two attacks
Hit: 1[W] damage.
Weapon: If you’re wielding a flail, a light blade, or a spear and have Dexterity 15 or higher, make the attack a third time against either the target or a different creature.

This power suffered from terrible, ambiguous templating, but under the most popular (and optimistic) interpretation of its text, it allowed for up to 4 attacks. That is, a 3rd level encounter power outdamaged most dailies, even at epic tier. The update tones it down significantly, clearly limiting the number of attacks to 3 and removing the strength bonus to damage.

I like this change, as the new text is elegant and clean, but don't be fooled into thinking that the power is no longer worth taking. Even for those without the required dexterity, the double attack without strength should overtake single attack encounter powers at mid-heroic levels, and improve from then on. As for making full use of it, it probably isn't worth it anymore to build characters specifically to use this power, but any fighter interested in polearms or with a racial bonus to dexterity will find enough reward if he invests to fill the requirements. It also makes a great multiclass power for Brutal Scoundrel rogues.

Channel Divinity: Righteous Rage of Tempus

Effect: If you hit with the next weapon attack that you make before the end of your next turn and it isn’t a critical hit, you roll the extra damage dice that you would roll if you scored a critical hit and deal the result as extra damage. If the attack is a critical hit, its extra damage is maximized.

No longer gives you an automatic critical hit, but the extra damage is nothing to sneeze at. It's clear that Tempus' favoured weapons are Vicious Executioner's axes or Fullblades, so you can expect to add 2d12 damage even at lower levels, and a rather impressive +9d12 at epic!

After losing half of its damage contribution and the combos with critical hit triggers (like Rending Weapons or Two-Weapon Opening) RRoT is still a fantastic feat, and flat out better than most Channel Divinity ones, at least until the coming of Divine Power. Tempus' legion of followers probably won't be diminished by this change, but their power has been brought down to almost reasonable levels.

Battlerager Vigor

Whenever you hit an enemy with a melee or a close attack, you gain temporary hit points equal to your Constitution modifier, plus any temporary hit points normally granted by the power.
If you use an invigorating fighter attack power and miss every target with it, you gain temporary hit points equal to your Constitution modifier.
(the extra damage using light armor and certain weapons is unchanged)

This is a bit stronger than what I would have liked, but I can live with that. They made the extra THP to trigger on your attacks instead of your enemies', taking away the immunity to melee minions and making Battleragers vulnerable to multiple enemies ganging up on them. THP gained against single enemies have been roughly halved, but they make up for it with a very cool bonus to invigorating powers: making them work on a miss. This is a nice twist, and introduces a synergy between Battlerager and Invigorating powers that the original rules failed to get.

Related to this fix are the changes to two feats:

Dwarf Stoneblood

Benefit: You gain a +2 feat bonus to the number of temporary hit points you gain from using an invigorating power. (+4/+6 at higher levels)

Improved Vigor

Benefit: You gain a +1 feat bonus to the number of temporary hit points you gain from using an invigorating power. (+2/+3 at higher levels)

Improved Vigor no longer provides additional benefits to Battleragers, and Dwarf Stoneblood has been overhauled - previously it gave a bonus to Battlerager Vigor equal to half your Constitution, and now it's just a better version of Improved Vigor. Also, the bonuses of both feats are now typed so that they no longer stack.

Overall, I like this new version of Battlerager Vigor, and the idea of respeccing my Fighter to be a Battlerager no longer ashames me. As for the feats, Improved Vigor will remain a good option for (non-dwarf) battleragers and a poor one for other fighter, whereas Dwarf Stoneblood is now open to dwarf fighters of any build (EDIT: it isn't - oddly, Battlerager Vigor is still a requirement), being a very strong incentive to pick Crushing Surge as an at-will.

Dual Strike

Primary Attack: Strength vs. AC (main weapon)
Hit: 1[W] damage.
Effect: Make a secondary attack.
Secondary Target: One creature other than the primary target
Secondary Attack: Strength vs. AC (off-hand weapon)
Hit: 1[W] damage.

Format aside, this is a functional equivalent of the fix I asked for, so I'm completely satisfied - fighters will no longer outdamage all but the best of strikers, and Tempest gameplay will be the group marking, minion slaying experience it should have been from the beginning. I can imagine some dual wielders actually not taking this power now, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Guileful Switch

Requirement: You must use this power during your turn before you take any other actions.
Effect: (switch initiative with an ally) You then act when your ally would have acted.

This gave you extra turns every encounter, which was obviously broken, as well as unintended. Another very well chosen fix.

To sum up, I love this update! I'd say about half of the things fixed here are still slightly overpowered, but in a tolerable way. Some players will be forced to retrain their characters, though: Battleragers, in particular, should no longer be able to ignore Crushing Surge, and dual wielding fighters built to be single-target damage machines will no longer work. Can't say I'll miss them.
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