Hmmm...Half Elves

While I'm happy that we finally have them, I figured they'd get a little nifty ability of their own.  Gnomes were given so much flavor in this packet.

Bonus to Charisma, not bad.  Will be useful when Bard comes out (one of my fav classes).  Also, a bonus to any other score of YOUR choice is also pretty nice and nods towards the human heritage.

Fey Ancestry, a less powerful version of the Elves' Free Spirit.  Makes sense that it's less powerful since you're HALF of an elf.  You still get Keen Senses from Elf, which is a very nice touch.  You also know Common, Elven, and one extra language of your choice (which was sort of a thing for half elves to begin with.)  You don't get Trance, which, depending on your campaign/etc is either very nice or can be easily overlooked.

Not too bad, but nothing exactly shouts out, "PICK ME!"

Will most likely play Half-Elf when Bard comes out to remake my old 4E character, Bonoby Riddle. 
The Half-Elf feels like its inferior to the Elf, while offering more interesting abilities than Human. I like its Ability Score Adjustment of +1 CHA and +1 ANY, it shows some flexibility and adaptation of which Half-Elves are reknown for. Keen Senses and Fey Ancestry kinda make sense as Elven heritages and i like that its less powerful than the Elf feature Free Spirit. Free bonus Language is okay but i feel like its still missing something compared to other Races.
Half-elf is probably my favorite race in the game right now. I almost always play humans in D&D but I think they're so overpowered in the playtest so far that they're not even interesting. I'd rather be a half-elf and get a +1 to an ability of my choice than have them all go up by one. I think Humans should go in this direction and get +1 to two of their choice, or maybe +2 to one and +1 to one.
I feel like half-elves are pretty weak. The +1 to any stat is nice but it's a disappearing bonus as more subraces are released that fill the niches people want to see. The human +1 to all ought to be removed too.

I wrote elsewhere my idea for how to fix the human/half-elf/half-orc.
The half-elf has always been my favorite race conceptually. Unfortunately, nobody at WotC seems to know how to translate the concept into something worth playing mechanically. Their half-elves are always fairly bland and weak.
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In 2nd edition, the half-elf advantage was being able to reach a relatively high level as a demi-human.  Because of this, they were the superior choice for multi-classing.

Perhaps the designers could introduce some mechanic which gave half-elves an advantage at multi-classing in DDN. 
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In 3rd edition they also had an advantage for multiclassing, they were able to take up to two classes without incurring any XP penalty.
There are several related problems here. First, each race has their own neat little tricks, and have traditionally enjoyed better ability modifiers than humans. Human have in general been both somewhat bland, because of their lack of special tricks, and somewhat weak, because of their lack of good modifiers. Penalties never really balance out the modifiers, because players tend to pick a race/class combination where the penalties had a minimum effect. The result of this combination was fantasy worlds were humans were the most common race and adventuring parties where humans were a minority.

Half-elves occupy an odd position, because their hedged in between two other races. Half orcs get their own niche, because full orcs are generally relegated to supplemental materials. But for a half-elf, if you split the difference between elves and humans, well ... you can end up with a balanced race, but it's not a very interesting one, and other than for historical reasons it's not really clear why this should be a separate race at all.

Which brings me back to humans. I don't really have an issue with the power of a blanket +1, because a bonus to one's off-stats is much less significant than a bonus to one's main stats. But it's still bland. This could be solved by something like an ancestry feature - elf ancestry, orc ancestry, fey ancestry, celestial ancestry, infernal ancestry, possibly things like noble ancestry or herois ancestry, plus maybe something for lycanthropes and vampires could all fit under this. Allowing more options for humans would increase the number of people playing humans, which would help avoid an excess of exotic parties. Of course, Wizards has already said they're -not- taking this road, but it's still early and they may change their minds.
Half-Elves are just plain inferior to elves. The only advantage half-elves have is being able to choose one of their stat bonuses, but that doesn't even begin to make up for the loss of charm/sleep immunity, elven weapon proficiencies, trance, and either a cantrip and extra language or fleet of foot and mask of the wild.
Just bring back the rule that elves can't be raised from the dead :P
I agree that as-presented they're a little bland. I think they would stand to gain from some minor social ability, beyond the Charisma boost (which is definitely a nice touch).

Maybe advantage to certain checks in settlements? Like dwarves' stonecunning, but socially-oriented? 
Thoughts on Half-Elf


+1 Charisma,

Low Light Vision

  

Fey Heritage - Advantage on Saving Throws vs Charm & Sleep spells
 Choice of Advantage on either Spot or Listen Checks but not both.
  

Sub-Race - Raised among the Elves


+1 to Intelligence or Wisdom           

Weapon Training - Longsword or Shortsword, Longbow or Shortbow


Fey Legacy - One arcane cantrip or additional 5 feet of movement



Sub-Race  
Child of Humanity


+1 to three ability scores other than Charisma

Adaptability - Advantage on Charisma skill checks         
I'm very disappointed by the half-elf, especially when compared to the gnome and half-orc.
The two other races both haves a distinctive flavor and unique powers. All the half-elves have are weakened elven characteristics. It feels like they were rushed, almost an afterthought.
Its really not that versatile. 

One of the bonus stats has to go to charisma, which points you towards a charisma class. Maybe it is nice to be able to get +1 strength or dexterity for your fighter, but since charisma is kind of useless, any other race would be a better choice. Same for wizards, rogues, clerics, monks, rangers, and druids.

So Bards and Paladins are the only races that are good for half-elf stats. So realistically half-elves are just a race with +1 charisma, and two earily similar sub-races with +1 strength or +1 [insert bard secondary here], with far worse racials than an elf.

They really needed some small feature that helps their allies to balance the watered down elf racials, or +1 to TWO other attributes instead of one to put some more human in there. 
My personal problem with the half-elves is that they are inferior to the full elves in almost every way.  The only benefit they have over the elves, is that they can choose what their second ability increase applies to.  Otherwise, you are better off playing an elf, and just saying you are a half-elf.  

An easy way to fix this, and counterbalance the race to the half-orc, is to give half-elves advantage on charisma checks to pursuade.  Much like half-orcs with intimidate.  It helps to cement their role as the face of the party, without forcing them into being a bard.  Sure, they make ultimate bards, but advantage on pursuade is a useful ability for a character of any class.

That said, I still think it would be nice if racial traits were divided between racial and cultural.  That way, you can mix and match for PC's who have been raised among another race. It would also provide a way to customize characters by providing campaign-specific cultural traits their PC's could swap thier default traits for.  Valenar elf, Dalesman, Talenta halfling. 
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I'd give them:

You gain either proficiency with medium armor, proficiency with martial weapons, or the ability to speak read and write in one language of your choice.

As a nod to 4e half elves.

But maybe they could go the boring rouet and make all part humans and half-humans get 3 +1 bonuses and a few minor racials.

Half Orc: +2 Str, +1 Con, Darkvision, Menacing.
Half Elf: +1 Cha, +1 Con, +1 Any, watered down elf stuff.
Tiefling: +1 Con, +1 Int, +1 Cha, Darkness X/day, Bloodhunt
Aasimar: +1 Wis, +1 Int, +1 Cha, Daylight X/day. Astal Majesty

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!

I think Half-elf should eat the 4e Tuathan race and get a cool fate-defying ability.  This is a Human-like race who operate not according to normal laws of physics but ot the faerie laws.  Already they have Fey Ancestry, not just Elven Ancestry (opening the door for Half-elves to represent other Half-Fey).  They should go all out and let it have the fate/luck abilities of Tuathan as well, though not the animal shape stuff, because that would be better as a feat-chain, probably.

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If +1 Charisma wasn't compulsory (i.e. they got +1 to two stats of their choice), the race would be just fine as is.

Danny

If +1 Charisma wasn't compulsory (i.e. they got +1 to two stats of their choice), the race would be just fine as is.



It would definitely help. 
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