Played one through levels 1 to 3. Due to the need to combo between your sword arts, my particular build tended to have rounds of weak damage followed by bigger bursts.
Skill-wise they are in a better boat and their reliance on intelligence gives them a fairly decent number of skills per level. Their defense is generally very strong with the saves they have and the fact they rely heavily on dexterity, giving an even stronger reflex save. They tend to be a bit frailer than other martials with their hp, but their higher defense usually means they get hit less.
His ability to hit was very solid based on the sword arts I had. Generally when I was smacking someone they were already feinted or I had an additional bonus to the attack roll from another. The rounds I got one of my finishing blows off the damage felt incredibly satisfying, but honestly it didn't happen a lot due to being in a party. If you weaken someone, another player is likely to snipe it down before you can get your finishing attack off.
The class gives a very solid way to avoid the simple move, attack, full attack for martial sorts. It felt like I had more options and rewarded tactical fighting. In comparison to the other characters, I would place them middle of the pack in terms of power. I was solid but not without faults. If I missed a compound my damage would suffer but when it worked out I could hit very solidly.
I allow them in my own games completely. It is still one of my favorite classes to date and honestly I'd love to see more done with it.
Thanks, End...I'll check that out.
As a longtime DM who is finally getting a chance to play I was hoping for a few more options - specifically an archetype that trades out the Partnered Blade abilities. That's the one part that just never sat right with me.
That being said, I still love this class. Guess I'll just have to play it as is for now...