I have spent sometime trying to playtest. One of the problems I see in the current version (and all previous) is the disparity between casters and non casters. In the attempt of evoking an “old school feel” the playtest falls in a vats list of options for wizards and clerics, as fighter and rogues are left with much less possibilities. The CS mechanic helps a bit, but not well enough IME. If you go back to 4E the rogue and the fighter better represent the classes’ archetypes.
I think bringing back old mechanics, is not the best way to emphasize the “feel“of the classes, neither the best way to bring back the old school feel of D&D.
I imagine the idea of abandoning the power system as an attempt on pleasing traditionalist players that don´t like the idea that a fighter could use daily resources, and in some cases those who think the power system limits improvisation. I disagree with that, but in an inclusive game I agree we must listen to both sides, so, I´m not married to the AEDU system, I would absolutely accept alternative methods, what I kind of don’t´ like is the idea that casters get all this options and fighters get CS and rogues get skills and sneak attack.
Seeing what they are doing with the monsters, making a pool of common powers for all monsters helps streamlining the system a lot, makes the powers easy to identify on the fly. I think this is pretty nice, and as much as I think monster still need a lot of work , I think they are headed in a good direction, we don’t really need every single monster to have completely unique powers.
Going in the same tread, it’s perfectly coherent that arcane and divine powers are represented in a common list for certain classes to have access. It terminates the problem of similar powers, and prevents power bloat as new classes emerge in the game. I think the fixed spell list along with fixed monster power list can work well in the game, it can be an improvement from 4E if they do it right.
What is missing is a fixed list of martial powers, available for rogues and fighters, so these classes have the same degree of options and powers than wizards and clerics. Martial powers could be delivered in different ways than magic powers, not necessarily AEDU. Later a primal power fixed list should be added to the game for classes like Druid and Ranger. Paladins could choose from the martial and the divine list, rangers from martial and primal, and so on. With this method the game could avoid the excessive amount of powers and too many similar powers, and at the same time would give all classes equal opportunities in the game.
I think something along those lines would be nice for D&D, rather tha complete disparity between classes. I don’t think CS is all bad, but it’s a mechanics that is so different than what the other classes have now it looks like it belongs in a different game. One could build a whole new system with similar mechanics for wizards and clerics, but it would be another game. For the young folks that are just starting with D&D it makes complete sense that their dwarf fighter have as much cool moves as the all mighty wizard. The idead that half of the PHB is dedicated to wizards and clerics doesn´t make any sense anymore. This only pleases the traditionalists of D&D imo. The designers should be aware of this crowd, but the new crowd is important as well, if not more important, as they represent the future of the hobbie. For me, as a personal impression, this is a big problem in the current playtest.