Thursday, March 31, 2011

Looking at the “Essentials” Warlord

When Dungeons & Dragons 4E was first released, I found the warlord to be the most intriguing addition.  So I was intrigued when Dragon announced the new Class Compendium feature, which converts classes to the Essentials format, was tackling the warlord.

WarlordI assumed we would see a new build of the warlord which favored melee basic attacks over powers.  After all, the knight and slayer builds of the fighter, the executioner build of the assassin, and thief build of the rogue all took this tack.

What I was not expecting the changes to be as minimal as they were.  I would hesitate to call the new marshal build a build at all.    Instead, it seems to simply be a rewriting of the tactical warlord and the inspiring warlord using the new Essentials format.

The few mechanical differences seem to merely be errata rather than any attempts at new mechanics.  The power selection is slightly different than the Player’s Handbook Warlord, but is more of a “greatest hits” from existing source books than anything new.

The Good

I like the existing warlord, so the fact that the marshal build changes nothing isn’t really a negative to me.

The Bad

Frankly, I am confused as to what the point of the Class Compendium feature is.  I assumed it was going to provide new builds for existing classes which were similar to the new builds created for Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms and Heroes of the Fallen Lands.  Instead, all we seem to have gotten is a change in the layout with a little errata thrown in.

As content for Dragon goes, that seems a little thin.


Unknown said...

My understanding was this article was originally meant to go into their paper book. Maybe its a good thing they decided to scrap the book.

Anonymous said...

I was confused, too. I later learned that the canceled book that this article came from was basically intended to be a reformatted PHB1. Seems pretty pointless to me, but I understand that some people are very interested in an updated book with all of the errata.

Anonymous said...

We knew it was going to be a reformatted presentation of previous material from the Fighter preview they did this past Fall. I'm glad they made it free on the website, so people getting in through Essentials can see what the older stuff is all about. I'm also glad that the older Warlord powers got a much needed errata. For instance, Commander's Strike really needed to be redone as a free action attack, instead of it's previous ambiguity.

Medraut said...

@Callin & @onlinedm - I didn't realize this was from a cancelled book. I have to admit WOTC is in a difficult situation when it comes to reprinting older material. Some gamers would love to get the updated material in one place while others would chafe at being "forced" to buy the same material twice.

@Anonymous - I will admit that the fact that it is freely available (i.e., not DDI exclusive) means it is really a no harm / no foul situation.