One of the key details in the writeup of the Knight for D&D Essentials is this:
As a fighter, you make most of your attacks using basic attacks. Some classes rely primarily on class-specific attack powers, whereas you typically make basic attacks enhanced by your fighter stances and other class features and powers.
That seems to get people concerned. Why? Because that sounds huge. Fighters in earlier editions of D&D were simple creatures: your action each turn was either swinging your sword (or whatever) once because you had to get close to your target, or swinging your sword (or whatever) many times because they were in reach. Every time it was the same: a melee basic attack, in 4th edition terms.
So the idea of losing all of the changes sounds frightening and undesirable. But I realized something a long time ago that's worth sharing:
You're already doing this.
I play fighters. I like them; they're my default class that's guaranteed to be useful in a fight. I can easily rearrange stats, feats, and weapon choices to come up with a character who fights far differently than another fighter.
But here's a simple truth: ninety percent of the time, we're making melee basic attacks. I'm not even talking about Opportunity Attacks or Combat Superiority allowing you to get in an MBA now and then. No- I mean ninety percent of the time, we're using a MBA to hit things with. It just happens to be an MBA with something added.
Check out the at-wills in the PHB. They're all more or less the same. Roll Strength vs AC, and do 1[W] of damage, plus a little something extra. Pick this one, you hit a second target for a bit. Pick that one, you get no other effects but you hit more often. Pick that one, you can push the target.
Given that, couldn't you write Tide of Iron as 1[MBA]+push target 1 square?
That's effectively what you get with these new at-wills. Cleave stance- I make a MBA, but get extra bits that just so happen to match the effect of the Cleave at-will power. Next round I switch to some other stance, which does largely the same thing.
The biggest modification this would make to an existing Fighter is twofold: first, all those Dailies you have that have the word Stance in them? Yeah- issues arise. No longer can you use one that boosts your defense while making at-will attacks. Instead, you use that bonus plus make MBAs to stay in the stance. Because your at-wills are all stances, and you can only have one stance active at a time.
End result there? Probably going to see those stance dailies get redone, or at the very least, they'll get better so you don't mind sitting in them being boring. I'd guess something like Warden forms- take this stance, get access to this new at-will.
Second, anything that gives us a free MBA will make us bad-ass. Combat superiority? Use the equivalent of your current at-wills to hit 'em. Opportunity Action? Cleave's an option. Warlord tells you to hit that guy? You're gonna do more than just a plain old 1[W] damage.
End result here? We'll fight better. Yes, the fighters will get to do more than anyone else when it comes down to flat out fighting. Not exactly a bad situation. I expect juggling of other bits and pieces to ensure we don't get too good at hurting things (we are Defenders after all), but we'll be good at what we do.
So yeah- I'm not panicking. I'm looking at this as Wizards answering the complaint of, "This doesn't feel like D&D," much the same way that they answered the complaints about Vancian spellcasting and 'the party heal-dispenser' (aka Cleric 1.0 - 3.5).
Sit back, relax, take it easy. It's not as drastic as it seems. Fighters will get through this just fine.