To the OP, I think your questions will be answered in the first couple of sessions you run with the Playtest packet.
This game uses a more vancian magic system, which is to say that clerics and wizards have to memorize spells/prayers to re-use them, just like a Daily power in 4e. It's actually a pretty cool virtue of the game.
It'll be obvious to your players that the saving grace of the fighter is that he's the only one who will be able to still do any damage in round 4 of combat! The Cleric of Pelor and Wizard are both going to be out of options when the grind of melee comes around. Not only that, but you'd better pray (pun intended) that you don't get interupted when your casting a spell!
And about the rogue, not all classes are to be built around combat. Just like the wizard [who is useless after the first couple rounds of combat], who will excel at other tasks the party encounters, the rogue is a critical element of the group. Without him, the party never gets into the locked door or opens the treasure chest...or worse, they never find the flame jet trap the goblins devised!
4e was combat heavy, so I think people are getting bent out of shape when they can't see how their non-combat-oriented PC is going to be able to do anything. Unlike 4e, and precisely as Mearls said, D&DNext is to be composed of 3 equally important parts: roleplay, exploration, combat. It's important to remember that, especially coming from a system where things went pretty much from one melee encounter to the next.
You know Steven, I actually have played 3rd edition quite thoroughly and even spent sometime trying to play 2nd edition. The interesting thing is that I stopped playing those editions for a reason, and I don't want to spoil it for you, but... this is the reason.
This manner of 'balance' is really quite boring. The caster dominates every important fight, the Rogue pretends that he's really needed, and the Fighter is already dead, he just hasn't fallen down yet.
Its super cool that you're happy, but much like players of pre-4th D&D don't like being told that they were just playing wrong and actually love 4th edition, I think you'll find that we don't need any help understanding the 'balance' of previous editions. We tried it, and we left it, and we left it for a reason.
'We' refering to the people that prefer 4th editions approach to class balance, naturally.
I'm all for rogues being able to throw sand in people's eyes or cosh them in the head or throw down smoke bombs so that they can be effective when not sneak attacking (see my earlier post) - I just want it supported mechanically in the same way that the wizard's cantrips or the cleric's orisons are, so that it's clear how the rogue goes about doing that and what the effects are.
It'll be obvious to your players that the saving grace of the fighter is that he's the only one who will be able to still do any damage in round 4 of combat!
This is just straight up false. The Wizard gets Magic Missile at-will. The pregen Wizard also picked up Ray of Frost and Shocking Grasp via its theme, and those are both also usable at-will.
Magic Missile auto-hits for 1d4+1, so you're doing only a little less damage than a Rogue who doesn't have Advantage. Shocking Grasp does 1d8+Ability, which means it's the same as a longsword or rapier.
And if the fight made it to Round 4, you've already done Burning Hands a couple of times, so everything should be dead already. That's how 3e worked, why do you think things will be different in Next when the same underlying mechanics have been directly copied over?
Until I see a non-caster class that's not overpecialized, repetitive, and lacking in unique features, I'm not going to be satisfied with this playtest at all.
EDIT: I don't see how the caster classes are at all simple, baseline material.
The two clerics are extremely focused on one aspect. One is a super-healer, the other is basically a 'defender'. They might have some spell choices, but otherwise one is heavily focused on healing, and sometimes shooting lasers, while the other is about tanking, and sometimes healing. They are more complex (in that they have more options than "ranged or melee" compared to the martial guys, but as far as spellcasters go, they are relatively simple, especially as each has picked a theme which selects a traditional role. [Even the wizard has picked "more options", where versatility is one of the most common strengths of the wizard, just like clerics heal, rogues have skills, and fighters are good at hitting things].
They are as simple and baseline as those classes get. Or, at the very least, each class is at it's most stereotypical or showing off "this is what they are good at". Each class is distinct, while in practice, most people would build their classes to be less focused on a single playstyle. However, for the purposes of a playtest, they want to test extremes first before getting into more 'realistic' builds which might get into mixing and matching, multiclassing or other things where people get a better mix of the pillars.
I sort of got the impression that the developers were aware of the whole "be bad at combat in order to be good outside of it" as a terrible design flaw. In which case why is there a rogue that sacrifices combat ability in order to be the mandatory skill monkey?
Next, is this even a skill monkey build? What makes it a skill monkey build? Do other rogue schemes not have skills? His scheme lists the skills that he has, thieves cant and the ability to hide more effectively as benefits.
So sure, other rogues will either not have 3 skills at all, or will have different ones. Regardless, they're going to be the go-to for picking locks and finding traps, because a rogue class ability makes those things possible. Even if there's a background that gives those things (and I really hope there is), the rogue will still be best at traps, regardless of scheme, because of his minimum 10 on rolls making him all-but immune to traps backfiring on him, regardless of his skills.
So this looks like the default of the rogue combat abilities, not gimping brought on by being a skill monkey.
It looks to me like this is the 'sneaky, hiding' rogue more than anything else. Which isn't that great to me - I don't remember stealthy scouting without invisibility+flight+silence being anything except a ticket to a fast death in any previous edition.
That could be solved of course, but I'm not sure it would be a good thing - do we really want the DM and rogue to go off into a side room for hours while he maps out the dungeon ahead of us?
Which leaves us with this - if this sneaky build isn't good in combat, and unmagical stealth remains the death-ticket it has been previously, what is it supposed to be for?
Alternately what are they going to do about stealth to make it worthwhile?
Oh, and if SA continues to scale at 1d6 per level without much else changing (ie - CA being much harder to get, fighters getting big gobs of bonus damage etc), isn't that also horribly unbalanced?
Honestly, give this rogue a few levels and his sneak attack will hit like a freaking truck. According to the fighter character sheet, his attacks hit for 2d6+8 at level 3, with a +6 bonus. The level 3 rogue, on a sneak attack, will deal 4d6+3 damage, with a +5 bonus. Suppose we keep bumping the sneak attack 3 more levels, all of a sudden the rogue is sneak attacking for 7d6+3, while the fighter will probably be doing more like 2d6+9. Plus the lurker theme lets him get advantage fairly easily, so his hit chance will outshine the fighter. The real flaws are that the rogue needs to hit his stride earlier, if his role is to have a huge sneak attack nuke then he should be able to do that at level 1. Also, there need to be better ways to get advantage, I would recommend adding flanking rules, free action hiding, or both.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been."
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way. Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken. Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken. King Fisher Does an excellent job at keeping an enemy disabled in a few ways. Strong. Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading. Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered. Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square. Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong. Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked. Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic. Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation. Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses. Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat. Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent. Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof. Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it. Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways. Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful. The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken. Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken Unnamed Avenger|Runepriest/Hammer of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered. Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5. Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong. Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight, only far more broken. Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken. Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.
The Rogue is basically only attacking every other round, alternating between hiding and I HIT IT WITH MA DAGGER and for less damage than the Fighter until Lv. 3 (where it's still not THAT much better).
Why would you be doing that when you can hide behind the pettycoats of the Wizard (who is less likely to move away revealing your hiding place than the Fighter) and attack with your sling? It does more damage, and allows you to remain hidden if you happen to miss.