1) Assassin's Strike
In the Design and Development article on the Executioner, it was mentioned that the "difference between (the Executioner's) at-will and damage output is similar to other classes." Once the excitement of an Assassin who was built for an alpha strike wore off, it didn't take long with just a casual glance at the numbers, then comparing it to other E-classes, to question the validity of this statement.
Since the article also states that Assassin's Strike is supposed to do the serious damage regardless of the weapon you're using, let's compare the current figures of Assassin's Strike to that of Power Strike using a maul, the strongest weapon available to an E-character without taking an extra feat (typically used by a Slayer).
Assassin's Strike (usable 1/encounter ever, never rechargeable):
L1: 1d10 = 5.5
L3: 2d10 = 11
L7: 3d10 = 16.5
L13: 4d10 = 22
L17: 5d10 = 27.5
L23: 6d10 = 33
L27: 7d10 = 38.5
Power Strike (Maul) (usable 1/encounter before L3, 2/enc before L13, 3/enc at L13+, is rechargeable via Martial Mastery):
L1: 2d6 = 7
L17: 4d6 = 14
L27: 6d6 = 21
Now at each of the levels in question for Assassin's Strike, you must multiply the extra damage from Power Strike by the number of times you can use it per encounter to get the total damage benefit from Power Strike over the course of the encounter. The results here are:
L1: 7*1 = 7
L3: 7*2 = 14
L7: 7*2 = 14
L13: 7*3 = 21
L17: 14*3 = 42
L23: 14*3 = 42
L27: 21*3 = 63
With this more than casual breakdown, it's evident that Assassin's Strike holds up well enough against the total damage output of Power Strike over the course of an encounter ... until L17. At that point, Power Strike gets its extra [W] upgrade and its total damage output for the encounter rockets past the damage you add with Assassin's Strike, and Assassin's Strike never catches up. It gets even worse at L27.
Now, one could mention Guild Executioner as a way to catch up (an extra 11 avg. damage on Assassin's Strike at L11). OK, but then let's have the Slayer take Mythic Slayer (not that most optimized ones do anyway, just for comparison's sake) for an extra use of Power Strike past L11, and again the Guild Executioner's total encounter damage boost falls behind at L17. So Guild Executioner, in this comparison, is irrelevant.
CONCLUSION: Assassin's Strike does not scale well starting at L17, and its damage needs to be upgraded.
- At L17, bumping Assassin's Strike up to 7d10 gets the figure to 38.5, which is a little behind the Slayer's total E-encounter damage output (42), but not egregiously so.
- At L23, Assassin's Strike can go up to 8d10 just fine (44 vs. 42 for the Slayer).
- At L27, Power Strike's extra [W] bump again takes the gap far in Power Strike's favor, so another jump needs to happen for Assassin's Strike to keep up with Power Strike's total output. 11d10 gets Assassin's Strike up to 60.5, a little behind the 63 from Power Strike, but again, not egregiously so the way it is now. (In fact, the way it currently stands, even if we DO allow you Guild Executioner, it still doesn't measure up.)
The revised Assassin's Strike should scale as thus, in summary:
EDIT: Now let's talk about the Guild Executioner for a second. The bonus to his Assassin's Strike needs to be given a bump in Epic Tier.
Power Strike with Mythic Slayer at L27: 84 total output.
vs. a Hypothetical 13d10 Assassin's Strike at L27: 71.5 total output.
Again, you see the gap widen. An extra 2d10 for the Guild Executioner (making it 15d10) would bring it to 82.5. Very competitive now.
So for the Guild Executioner, the change to Devastating Assassination needs to have added: "At 21st level, increase the extra damage your assassin's strike deals to 4d10."
2. Hidden Stab
As it's been known for quite some time now, the key to getting burst damage that scales with higher levels is to get a reliable source of extra attacks in an encounter. Incidentally, at L7, when the Executioner gets Hidden Stab, this is at about the point when high [W] attacks become less of a viable nova and extra attacks are needed to keep up with the burst damage output expected of a Striker. Especially one supposedly designed with serious burst damage as its concept, such as the Executioner.
Furthermore, Hidden Stab's utility is rather questionable to begin with, and highly situational at best. The damage, for starters, does not add your DEX modifier. Second of all, if you don't boost your STR (or CON) and your DEX (which is contrary to the preferred stats that are in the Executioner's class description), the enemy stands a good chance of escaping your grab before you even get to apply supposedly the selling point of this power, which is applying Assassin's Strike on your follow-up attack even if you miss with that follow up.
The only remotely reliable way to get that Assassin's Strike clause to be relevant is if you pop an action point after hitting with this power. But wouldn't just a nice charge + AP be better anyway?
Hidden Stab would be of much more general use, and would fit the alpha-striking and burst damage concept of the Executioner much better, if it were changed to a minor action. Then, as a means to check its ability to be spammed, add this special line:
Special: If you decide to release your enemy from the grab before the start of your next turn, you may not use this power on your next turn. If you release your enemy from the grab during your turn, you may not use this power on that turn.
With those changes, Hidden Stab becomes a viable power for burst damage, even one you can do multiple times in an encounter if feasible, without being completely spammable for a cheap DPR boost.