On Polearms

As a glaive and yari fan, I generally try to look and see what polearms have to offer in game, and noticed that the current packet leaves reach weapons to be less than ideal.  A few things of note:

1.  Longspear is d8, non-finesse, piercing, two handed weapon with reach.  It was a d10 last packet.  Rapier is a d8, finesse, piercing, one handed weapon.

2. Monk is proficient with longspear, but has no incentive to use it, as strength is not particularly useful to them.

3. Whirlwind Attack gains no benefit from the reach property.  Cleave allows and extra attack within reach.  Why not this?

4. Polearm Training turns your reach weapon into a double weapon, which seems to be a waste of a feat to me, as choosing a double weapon itself wouldn't be a permanent character choice, and seems like an absolutely worthless feat.

5. Two Weapon Defense with a polearm seems like an inferior choice to using two seperate finesse weapons.  Why build a polearm user around it?

6. Warding Polearm gives far too little considering the level 9 requirement.  The only two classes who currently use any sort of polearm are monk and fighter, and each already have reaction abilities.  With a restriction of one reaction per round, two with Combat Reflexes, Warding Polearm hardly seems like an option to me.  I personally think that a threatening reach should be part of the reach property in weapons sans feat, considering using it disallows your ability to use something more versatile like Parry.

I more or less feel the development team had a hard time making polearms interesting or could not think of any way of making these weapons unique.  I also feel like they're largely not covered, as there seems to be a general lack of appeal for them.

I think reach scares people a bit, especially if they're big on battle mats and get to drool over the visual representation of reach. I think their reasoning here is that reach is its own reward, but I agree with you: there's not a lot on offer for a polearm user and some of the things the feats do feel like the weapon should do anyway.

I think that the weapons list is far from their priority atm so I'm not suprised there's issues with them.
My two copper.
I think I made whirlwind work for reach. It makes the polearm fighter much more viable (+ trip to rock). TWF is more viable this playtest, but I think it chains toward reducing AC disparity for polearm fighters.
But, I agree w/ Jenks that equipment is low priority atm.
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MOAR POLEARMZ!!!

Okay with that out my system, it looks like they pretty much didn't look too close a reach weapons. There isn't enough of them currently and the feat system interacts with them strangely.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

"Realistically," the reach advantage of pole-arms comes into play in massed formations, like the Pike Square and Phallanx.  At D&D's 1:1 figure ratio, pole-arms aren't very practical weapons.  With a pole-arm, you can hold one enemy at bay, until he gets inside the practical reach of your weapon, then the pole-arm is virtually useless.  You might be able to choke up on it or back-peddle fast to bing the point back into play, or parry or bash with the pole, itself, but neither are great options.  Hoplites, the citizen-soldiers who used long spear and shield in the classic phallanx, carried a second much shorter weapon, a hand axe or shortsword, for use in closer quarters or outside the phallanx.

Realism may not have any rightful place in a fantasy RPG with dragons and wizards, but it may be what they were thinking about when they decided to make pole-arms a poor choice.

 
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I like the approach 4e took to polearms.

In order to get reach, and access to nifty polearm-specific feats and such, you had to give up two things:  damage, AC.

For defenders who used polearms, they gave up AC.  Two points of it, specifically.  For paladins, fighters, wardens, and battleminds, this took the form of the Heavy Shield they weren't using.  For swordmages, this took the form of their class feature AC bonus being reduced from +3 to +1.  You could get part of it back by a feat that gave you +1 AC when wielding a polearm, but that was by no means required and a feat for AC was a fair bargain in 4e.

For strikers who used polearms, they gave up damage.  Reach, in the item budget, was roughly equivalent to one step of die size.  Meaning a weapon that was a d10 without reach and a weapon that was a d8 with reach were both the same quality.  (Depending on the category, sometimes the step was a +1 in the proficiency bonus to attack rolls for the weapon, which for reasons that are mathematically incorrect was somehow taken as equivalent to a step in die size, but that's another discussion).  The intent was that someone using the polearm would be doing slightly less damage, but doing it more flexibly than someone without a polearm.  Unfortunately this tended to fail in practice because of the small proportion that the weapon's damage die provided in the total output of a damage-focused character, something that initially could be improved on in Next, but may run into issues into the scaling of expertise dice.  A one-step difference in damage die is pretty irrelevant if you're dealing 4d10 extra damage with your hit.

For everyone else, polearms were nearly universally the best option if you could get the stats and feats to power it.  For controllers and leaders that could use polearms, there was very little reason not to.  The AC drop was minor or nonexistent due to not having access to AC passives or shield proficiency, and the damage drop was insignificant because the classes weren't focused on damage.  Artificer, druid, and ardent were all significantly improved by using polearms, and could gain benefits that very few other weapons could achieve for very little cost.  In this regard, polearms were rather overpowered.  But the things that let these classes use polearms were quite specific to 4e and its rules on powers.  The same sort of polearm shenanigans simply aren't possible in Next because of how spells and abilities work.  I'm somewhat sad to see them go, but overall it's probably better off that they are.

Overall, I want there to be viable, meaningful choice when it comes to weapon selection.  Whether you pick a longsword or a warhammer should matter, and what weapon you choose should say something about your style.  Are you the deft skirmisher, weaving in and out?  Are you the stand-and-pound frontliner?  These are subtle distinctions and variations that different members of the same class can use to express their own individual preferences and character, as well as things that members of different classes can use to demonstrate common ground.  In this regard, polearms should be just one choice of many, with polearm-specific benefits that are balanced and compelling choices.
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1. I'd missed that detail, that's quite annoying.

2. I'd like to see a Str-build and/or a Con-build for monks, but I don't think longspear should be part of that (would be more unarmed-focused).  Simplest solution is to just give the longspear the finesse property, although you still wouldn't be able to flurry with it.

3. WotC is being over-cautious.  They're clearly worried about reach being abused, but I guess they're not thinking through the implications of their own greatly scaled-back opportunity attack rules.

4. Yeah, Polearm Training is a worthless feat-tax to get you access to Two-Weapon Defense.

5. Two-Weapon Defense is just in there for the +1 AC; they really just need to make a "Polearm Defense" feat and change Polearm Training to something useful, like threatening reach.

6. Warding Polearm is a retread of a Paragon 4e feat, but the devs seem to have overlooked the fact that opportunity attacks are now one per round and cost a reaction, rather than one per turn at virtually no cost.  Threatening reach could probably be moved to Polearm Training without any problems, or just be a feature of reach weapons.

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