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So I filled out the class survey and was a touch disappointed there was no room for open feedback on the forms. I absolutely understand why, and in lieu of that option I figured I'd come here and share my experience with two classes I played and a third that I *almost* picked up, but just couldn't.
I was a big fan of the mechanics of the new heal spell/channel. The three action economy gave me some interesting choices in combat. It felt like a waste at that point to use the AoE channel, but I enjoyed the strategy that came with it all. The power from the healing domain was nice extra padding. I was disappointed that the number of channels the cleric received were reduced in one of the errata. I understand it might have felt too strong or necessary to have a cleric around if only for the channels, but I felt a better solution was to address *other* means of healing, rather than nerfing the cleric. To that end, the resonance rules were updated and the medicine skill got some healing use out of combat, but the treat wounds use of the medicine skill felt too clunky to the point that I'd almost have preferred the ol' wand of CLW strategy over using it. I think the consequences for failing were fine, but it was too hard to critically fail that check.
In the end, I was disappointed that I didn't have enough channels and instead had to make roll after roll for treat wounds. My original design for the character was to mix it up a bit in melee as well, but after the change to how often you can use channel I ended up not boosting my strength and instead focused on charisma.
I ended up building the character to use Wild Morph and Savage Slice as a means to approach to combat. His strength was solid, but it became really hard to do stats for the rest of the character as Wild Morph requires you spend a spell point to activate it, and it only lasts one minute. And, as a melee character I wanted some Con and Dex for health and AC. So my stat array was a bit of a mess. Still, it worked okay. I'd say the most disappointing thing was that Wild Morph took two actions to activate, which meant I'd often be spending the first round of combat producing my claws and then moving into melee range while our fighter could get off two attacks with his charge feat and quick draw. It was darn good fun if I could smell combat coming, but felt very unsatisfying when I basically spent my first turn in a combat drawing my weapon while everyone else is doing cool stuff. I'd suggest that maybe Wild Morph should allow you to grow claws as a single action, but perhaps keep the other cool things it can do that give you some pretty neat utility at two actions.
Also, I totally missed that animal form had been rolled into the wild shape feat for free starting at level 3, so I never got a shot to play with it. But by level 4, on paper my AC, attack bonus, and damage bonus were better while not in an animal form (which was disappointing). Still, I really enjoyed the druid a lot, and I'd say it was my favorite class to read and to play.
I didn't like the rage mechanic when it was first printed (three rounds of rage followed by one round of fatigue), and I like it even less after the errata (make a flat check to see if you stay in rage, with the DC growing more difficult for every round you remain raging). Under the old system it felt so mechanical, but under the new system it feels too random. My AC would already be pretty bad while raging, but when I become fatigued it can end up taking a -4 penalty to my AC! I'm going to get crit like crazy with that, if an enemy sticks to me. And if I run away I need to spend the next round re-entering rage and moving up to the enemy to engage them again. All for some temp HP that I basically need because of my reduced AC and a pretty small bonus to damage? Most of the rage related class feats outside of the totem ones are also really situational or just not that useful.
Personally, I'd like it if rage worked more like the solarian's stellar modes in Starfinder. You build up points each round you rage. When you reach 3 points you can spend those to perform a finishing move of some kind. Maybe something tied to your totem, maybe a combat maneuver. They could be damage focused, but I'd like to see something that gives you a tactical edge. After that, at the start of your next turn you become fatigued. This way, the player can choose if they want to keep raging, or if they want to cash out for some kind of advantage before they become disadvantaged. It could encourage more teamwork and more interesting decisions. But that's just me. It could end up being a pretty big rewrite for the class, and doing something so drastic after the playtest could be bad news bears. If nothing else, I'd like to see either the AC penalty go away while raging or the barbarian get a +1 to hit instead of a +2 to damage.
Final thoughts. I was a pretty big critic of 2e when I first read through the system, at least in my circle of friends. After playing with it I've gotta say I really enjoyed it. Everything felt so much faster in our 2e game compared to our low level 1e campaign. The three action system is great, and I'm a big fan of the new shield mechanics. While I had some criticisms for the cleric and druid I always felt like I could do something cool and/or useful. I was surprised, but I had a ton of fun. My table is super close to the end of Rise of the Runelords. While the playtest will have been over for a short while by the time we end, we're looking forward to going back to Doomsday Dawn and finishing it up, and I can't wait to see what the final version of 2e looks like.
|Mark Seifter Designer|