Dragon 390 - Ampersand Special: Essentials Fighter, Part 2: The Slayer

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Dragon 390
Ampersand Special
The Essential Classes: The Slayer

By Bill Slavicsek

We continue our coverage of D&D Essentials with a preview of the Slayer kit for Fighters!  And it looks much like a martial Barbarian… perhaps a reworked Battlerager in flavour using a more basic mechanic. 

Next Week: News from GenCon and a preview of the Rules Compendium!
Talk about this Ampersand Special here. 

Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

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To me the Slayer is really a Basic Barbarian.
Nothing wrong with that. Without stickiness, a fighter becomes a Striker.

Also, the Encounter power, Power Strike, should be Encounter-coloured, not At-will-coloured.
Confused me for a moment, that they got +1[W] at-will.
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Wow. Defending by just killing the enemy and moving to where trouble is. I think this will be polarizing for folks. It's pretty much a striker.

No plate. No shields. Streetwise, no Diplomacy.

There is a dichotomy between the favored secondary stat (DEX) and armor. I can't imagine that folks wouldn't want a huge DEX, and by extension want to leverage that for AC. Melee Training DEX would make this a beast. Why bother giving folks heavy armor? It seems like a trap for many Slayer builds.

Speaking of which, this turns traditional secondary stats on its head. Typically the big poundy weapons love CON, and little stabby weapons (and Heavy Blades) love DEX. The Knight is geared toward one-handed weapons but loves CON, and the Slayer loves GIANT weapons but also loves DEX. I suspect that either for these classes or in general, Mastery crit feats gets overhauled because the stat reqs will be way out of sync for these builds.

Speaking of Favored Stat... Heroic Slayer doesn't quite catch Sneak Attack for damage, but tack on Unfettered Fury and it will for anyone with an acceptable two-handed weapon, decent to-hit, and a 16+ DEX. Dunno about other tiers, but it looks like in some cases the Heroic tier Slayer is a premum Striker. Then again, the Slayer can barely nova, and looks like a one-trick pony.

Weapon Talent is a base +1 to hit; I hope this carries over to all Fighters. Sure, it would make a feat or two obsolete (Versatile Talent), but that's OK.

Duelist's Assault could be a defendery-punishment stance. Not sticky?

Will Mobile Blade allow more movement, a bonus to defence against OAs... both?

Berserker's Charge does not appear to be great shakes (only good for charges), but then again Slayers don't appear to get a lot of built-in out-of-turn stuff. It may not matter.

Unfettered Fury: Power Attack scaled a bit better. I'm sure some folks would rather have Battle Wrath. [Even though they are similar, can Knights and Slayers not swap stances as they are not levelled?]

Speculations:

Improved Power Strike just scales Power Strike to 2W.

Quick Swap lets you sheathe and whip out a weapon as a free action 1/turn. (I don't know how valuable this will be unless you golf-bag weapons and stack up on the new Expertise feats ala Bludgeon Expertise. Maybe that's how they put riders on basic attacks?)

Mighty Slayer: Adds more damage to Heroic Slayer, or gives push? Damage on miss? Cleave-y stuff?

Extra Fighter Stance gives you 3 stances total.

Weapon Specialization: I can't imagine it's like the Fighter Weapon Specialization feat, as you already get junk to add to Damage in this build (but the Knight also gets this ability). Then again, the Slayer is all about Damage. Scaling Feat bonuses from Expertise feats you have? No clue.

Inexorable Slayer: Bonus to hit? Damage on miss? Cleave-y stuff?

TL; DR: The Slayer is pretty much a DEX striker, and Power Strike is the new core feature for stance Fighters (not Defender's Aura & Battle Guardian).
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To me the Slayer is really a Basic Barbarian.
Nothing wrong with that. Without stickiness, a fighter becomes a Striker.

Also, the Encounter power, Power Strike, should be Encounter-coloured, not At-will-coloured.
Confused me for a moment, that they got +1[W] at-will.


"The slayer’s use of heavy armor and a large amount of hit points allow the slayer to stand in for a defender when the tide of battle requires it."

There is a dichotomy between the favored secondary stat (DEX) and armor. I can't imagine that folks wouldn't want a huge DEX, and by extension want to leverage that for AC. Melee Training DEX would make this a beast. Why bother giving folks heavy armor? It seems like a trap for many Slayer builds.


it appears that the essentials builds definitely are not MAD, so i, too, cannot imagine a slayer without a huge dex.

the slayer does not need melee training (dex) because str is his attack stat.

i could see a low level slayer using heavy armor if or until his dex bonus to armor makes light armor efficient than heavy armor.  also, if his ac is largely the same between heavy and light armor, then the slayer has more freedom choose armors that have the properties he prefers.
Speaking of which, this turns traditional secondary stats on its head. Typically the big poundy weapons love CON, and little stabby weapons (and Heavy Blades) love DEX. The Knight is geared toward one-handed weapons but loves CON, and the Slayer loves GIANT weapons but also loves DEX. I suspect that either for these classes or in general, Mastery crit feats gets overhauled because the stat reqs will be way out of sync for these builds.


that's a good point
the slayer does not need melee training (dex) because str is his attack stat.

But STR doesn't have to be their attack stat. Pump DEX. Dump everything else. The only things that suffers are NADs and Heavy Thrown RBAs. As CharOp notes, most of the Slayer stuff is fine with RBAs. Welcome back, Bow Fighter.
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the slayer does not need melee training (dex) because str is his attack stat.

But STR doesn't have to be their attack stat. Pump DEX. Dump everything else. The only things that suffers are NADs and Heavy Thrown RBAs. As CharOp notes, most of the Slayer stuff is fine with RBAs. Welcome back, Bow Fighter.


Sure, if these guys can even take that feat.  My understanding (which may be wrong) was that the Essentials classes can only pick feats off a very limited list, sort of like the even-level "class feat" selections from Star Wars Saga Edition.
My understanding (which may be wrong) was that the Essentials classes can only pick feats off a very limited list, sort of like the even-level "class feat" selections from Star Wars Saga Edition.

I have never heard this, and have seen no evidence that this will happen. I'm not saying that Melee Training is safe from being changed, merely that I have heard nothing that indicates that Slayers (or Knights or....) can only take feats in the Compendium which appear in Essentials products. Do you have a source? (I'm not calling you out... I have just never heard of this concept.)
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Wow. Defending by just killing the enemy and moving to where trouble is. I think this will be polarizing for folks. It's pretty much a striker.



No 'pretty much' about it - the article specifically lists it as a "Martial Strike", with the disclaimer (already quoted above) that it can stand in for a defender when needed.

Interesting to see them breaking a class out of a single role. We've seen some classes that certain can veer in different directions along these lines, and Hybrids as well, but I imagine some will find this weird. It works for me, though.

[...] the article specifically lists it as a "Martial Strike", with the disclaimer (already quoted above) that it can stand in for a defender when needed.

GAH! Thanks for reiterating what should have been obvious.

Is the Slayer the first Essentials class which is fully playable as of right now? Are we missing anything for levels 1 and 2? (We already have plenty of feats and utilities.)
D&DNext: HTFU Edition
[...] the article specifically lists it as a "Martial Strike", with the disclaimer (already quoted above) that it can stand in for a defender when needed.

GAH! Thanks for reiterating what should have been obvious.

Is the Slayer the first Essentials class which is fully playable as of right now? Are we missing anything for levels 1 and 2? (We already have plenty of feats and utilities.)



We're missing a lot actually. From the advancement table:

Improved Power Strike

Quick Swap

Mighty Slayer

Extra Fighter Stance (actually pretty straightforward, one could use a knight's stance I guess)

Weapon Specialization

Inexorable Slayer

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Is the Slayer the first Essentials class which is fully playable as of right now? Are we missing anything for levels 1 and 2? (We already have plenty of feats and utilities.)

We're missing a lot actually.

What about for levels 1 and 2 (emphasis added)?
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Ahahaha these essentials fighters are so bad. Good god, I feel so bad for the people who have to put up with anyone in their party who brings one. It'd be like having a crippled man who only knows three words "Melee basic attack" that hobbles around and wishes he could do something other than the same exact thing for a campaign that might last as long as a year or more.
I really hope they give the essentials classes something interesting to do. Right now they are looking kind of boring to play, with only basic attacks modified slightly by stances available to them. :S
Honestly ... everyone calls them boring, but how is this any different from the 3.5 fighter? Actually, it has stances, it's more interesting than the 3.5 fighter. I keep watching Essentials evolve and thinking to myself "It's like all the best of 4e and 3.5e combined ..."  I mean, I'm kinda leery of it, but things like Slayer kind-of excite me.  What next, a Controller build for Rogue? How cool would that be? :D
Honestly ... everyone calls them boring, but how is this any different from the 3.5 fighter? Actually, it has stances, it's more interesting than the 3.5 fighter.



It isn't really very different from the 3.5 fighter....which is sort of the problem with the slayer because the 3.5 fighter was a porrly designed class that was boring to play.
Except it's way more interesting (and enjoyable) than the 3.5 fighter ever was.  In addition to the melee basic at-will, we now have two choices of stances, which augment the at-will.  So now every strike there are two options.

Plus, the concept of Encounter Powers isn't gone; it's only the dailies that are going away.  So in addition to these two very interesting stances, our level 1 fighter can Shield Riposte, or  Bell Ringer, or similar.  At higher levels, they have more encounter powers to use, as well.

The end result is honestly no different from our current fighter.  Currently, you get two at-wills. Well really, those at-wills are just melee basic attacks with some rider.  That's no different from the Essentials fighter; the riders are just built in with a stance, now, instead of being marked as separate powers.  It's just a different solution to the same problem, and it winds up working exactly the same way.

Except that now it also applies during opportunity attacks.
Having played with someone who was a fighter in 3.5...

The 3.5 fighter could be melee or ranged effectively.  They could, out of the box, trip, disarm/sunder, grapple, stun as part of the grapple..and honestly its been awhile so I can't overly remember everything.

Given a feat they could trade in bonuses to hit for more damage, trading more away over time for bigger hits.  They could attack in response to tripping people, hit people as they got up from prone, do an OA from range without the need of a feat, throw weapons to pin people to walls.

The 3.5 fighter wasn't boring..yes most of what I listed others can do...but the fighter had the greatest number of feats to gain related to these different combat tricks, as well as the stats to pull it off.  Honestly when 4e came out they decreased everything the fighter could do.  Ok I try to trip...nope sorry can't do that you need a power that knocks the target prone (thankfully that came out eventually).  Ok I'll hold this 5 square wide gap because I'm wielding a reach weapon, blocking this..what do you mean I can't OA them?  They are in my threat range...what do you mean its moving from a square next to me only?

This new 4.5 fighter isn't a push back to 3.5...its a push forward...give less options while making people think you are actually giving more.  Cept this time it isn't actually working it seems.
Having played with someone who was a fighter in 3.5...

The 3.5 fighter could be melee or ranged effectively.  They could, out of the box, trip, disarm/sunder, grapple, stun as part of the grapple..and honestly its been awhile so I can't overly remember everything.



Well, sorta. If you were lucky, you got to use many of these tricks. In my experience, though, you were almost always better off stepping up to the monster and full-rounding it until it dropped. Unless you were specifically built to use one of those tricks, in which case you used it exclusively, keeping all enemies knocked on the ground forever.

I don't think the 4E Slayer is going to be especially boring except for those who want it to be so. For the most part, it will be a guy that runs around, knocks enemies about, cleaves through them, or does whatever else his stances and powers give him the option of doing. But for those who just want to walk up and hit things, you can also just take all the options that just do damage, and spend all your time hitting things. That's an option, but I'd be very surprised if it was the only one possible.

Actually alot of the fighter options wound up comming from similar sources and feat trees.  Allowing you to easily gain a set of abilities.  Add in the fact that fighters got a mess of feats as well, weapons that would enhance these abilities, a slight encouragement for a fighter to carry a golfbag of weapons.  I honestly saw fighters being highly versatile.

Of course this dosn't touch upon the fact that most smart fighters (and actually most non spell casters) would multi and mutt out to make the specific abilities they wanted with their char.  Honestly the 3.5 fighter had more tricks, comming out of the box as well as leveling up, available to them at one time than than the current 4e fighters do.  You want to be talked about being locked into doing only a few options....yeah look up 4e chars in general.
Actually alot of the fighter options wound up comming from similar sources and feat trees.  Allowing you to easily gain a set of abilities.  Add in the fact that fighters got a mess of feats as well, weapons that would enhance these abilities, a slight encouragement for a fighter to carry a golfbag of weapons.  I honestly saw fighters being highly versatile.

Of course this dosn't touch upon the fact that most smart fighters (and actually most non spell casters) would multi and mutt out to make the specific abilities they wanted with their char.  Honestly the 3.5 fighter had more tricks, comming out of the box as well as leveling up, available to them at one time than than the current 4e fighters do.  You want to be talked about being locked into doing only a few options....yeah look up 4e chars in general.



Well, I respect your experience and think it is fantastic that you had no trouble being versatile with 3.5 fighters. For myself, I haven't experienced any of this 'being locked into a few options' that you describe with 4E characters, and while I had fun with 3.5 melee types, did find them relatively limited. Experiences vary, I suppose!
Ahahaha these essentials fighters are so bad. Good god, I feel so bad for the people who have to put up with anyone in their party who brings one. It'd be like having a crippled man who only knows three words "Melee basic attack" that hobbles around and wishes he could do something other than the same exact thing for a campaign that might last as long as a year or more.

Yeah! Kid at comic stor wus all liek "I cant waite 4 essencials 2 tri sum stuff' and I was liek 'hahahahahaha t$r got u nube! Fighter sux now & cant Come & get it. WTF is why u play with no C&GI?!" And teh kid didn't GI. hahahahahahah Get It?!?! So I shewed him my Twin Strike ranger/rouge with 21.6DPR @ 9th (24.7 b4 WRP nerf) and I wus liek 'Can Slayer do this @ 9th w/ jsut MBA? Slayer Sux. My ranger TS is LINKIN PARK mode nube!" & he stil didnt GI. Slayer (band) is ok 4 old poeple tho and worked w/ Ice-T on Jugment Nite but Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park is way harder. Togheather they ARE Twin Strike FTW!
I really hope they give the essentials classes something interesting to do. Right now they are looking kind of boring to play, with only basic attacks modified slightly by stances available to them. :S

Isn't that pretty much at-wills in general, though? Sashimi is simple, but I wouldn't call it boring. Slayers (or Knights or Thieves for that matter) seem pretty direct, but I'm not sure I'd call them ineffective, either.
Plus, the concept of Encounter Powers isn't gone; it's only the dailies that are going away.  So in addition to these two very interesting stances, our level 1 fighter can Shield Riposte, or  Bell Ringer, or similar.  At higher levels, they have more encounter powers to use, as well.

Other than Power Strike/Backstab (or unrevealed stuff), there appear to be no Encounter powers for Essentials Martial classes.
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i've been playing a slayer in encounters, and i get outperformed by the thief every battle. the power strike doesn't help much if you roll a 1 for the extra die of damage for your greataxe. there's really not much you get in terms of damage-dealing potential in exchange for giving up so many of the "original fighter" class features. the character has been effective when able to charge an opponent to soften them, and have the thief finish them off from the flank, and then charge another opponent. that's about it.
I like this, however we already have a slayer class based off fighter. Can't they realize we already have an class with the same name and same parent class(unless they are reprinting it else where).

edit: whoops, didn't see the date, its was way past.
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