Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Thumbs up for the second playtest

The second round of public playtest for D&D Next was released yesterday. As I have been very critical of D&D Next, I would like to at least remark that this second version is noticeably better than the first version. And I don't mean the degree of polish (which is only to be expected). The second version does fix some significant problems the first version had with tanks being unable to tank and not having a reasonable amount of options in combat. There are also lots of other minor rules improvements.

Having said that, class balance is still a sad joke in D&D Next. Among the pregenerated characters the pseudo-ranger human fighter appears completely gimped and useless, while the sun cleric appears extremely powerful at low levels. And the spellcasters still advance in a quadratic fashion (gaining both more spells and more powerful spells), compared to the linear power progression of non-spellcasters gaining combat stats.

There are some misprints in the playtest characters. The biggest one I found is that the 'ranger' is listed as doing 1d8 damage where he should be doing 1d8 + 4 damage. He also is listed as using a shortsword for +4 at 1d6+1 when it should be +7 at 1d6+4. As written the ranger is useless but if they had actually got their characters to follow the rules as written the ranger seems fine. He is fast, stealthy, and does lots of damage at range. I think his archer type powers need to be either clarified or outright buffed though because they look completely worthless as written.
Don't tanks tank in pen and paper role playing games because of the roleplaying?

"Do I hit this guy who is in my face and wielding an axe? Or do I try and move around this very dangerous looking axe wielding maniac and go and see what those guys in the back are doing?"

Gobble gobble.
Well, even if you want to roleplay a tank, the rules need to allow you to do something if the axe wielding maniac just wants to rush past you and kill the wizard in the back. The first playtest D&D Next rules didn't have that option, the second package does.
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