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Author Topic: Why Tier 3s are in Tier 3, #1 of 2.  (Read 32585 times)
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Gr1lledcheese
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« on: July 02, 2009, 05:07:58 PM »

I made the mistake of not reserving posts under the original, so I split the post into two. Tier 3 seems to be very popular.  Smile

It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:

Tier 3: Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

Examples: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Crusader, Bard, Swordsage, Binder (without access to the summon monster vestige), Wildshape Varient Ranger, Duskblade, Factotum, Warblade, Psionic Warrior

A note on Tier 3s: I'd like to point out something.

Being a tier 3 is NOTHING to be ashamed of.  Tier 3 are the herald's of destruction, they can do humongously more damage in battle than tier 1 and 2 characters and are still immensely useful out of combat.  Simply put, if you're a least bit intelligent, you won't be bored playing a tier 3 character.

But you're not tier 2.  Or tier 1.

Tier 1 characters can BREAK THE GAME, litterally, all of them, that's why they are gods, that's why we are wary of the power we wield when we use them.

Tier 2 characters can BREAK THE GAME, just a tad less obviously, or in a more limited way.   

So anyone who feels insulted their class is ''only tier 3''  when they play one in game, DON'T BE!  It's still incredibly good.  Heck, i played a game with 3 tier 1 and a tier 3, and the tier 3 was always useful in battle.  Eventually, it got so easy it was boring!!!  We had to tangle with actual GODS at level 21 just to keep it challenging! -Alastar

Why Tier 3's are in tier 3:

Beguiler:

Cons: A Beguiler, like a rogue, is very vulnerable to certain types of enemies unless they can cover their gaps with specialized magical items. Mindless creatures, those immune to Enchantments or Illusions, creatures with blindsight, true seeing, high SR, or even a high will save can be tough for Beguilers to beat.

Illusions and Enchantments derive much of their power from the creativity of the player and the cooperation of the DM. A player who just wants to blast his enemies will not do well with a beguiler. A DM whose NPC's always attempt to subvert commands and who are all paranoid of illusions can cripple a Beguiler.

While the Beguiler knows more spells than a sorcerer, and is absolutely better than a Sorcerer who takes only Enchantment and Illusion spells, it lacks the versatility of Sorcerers or Wizards to have the right tool on hand for every situation.

While superior in mundane combat to low level sorcerers and wizards, the beguiler is still one of the weakest combatants in the game, and the Surprise Casting class feature is almost a trap to lure unsuspecting players near their enemies where they can be crushed. -Braithwaite

Pros: Beguiler is probably the most flexible of the three "specialist Sorcerers", the other two being Dread Necromancer and Warmage.

For an arcane caster, the beguiler is reasonably hardy. Light armor is roughly equal to a sorcerer's Mage Armor, without taking up a spell slot. Weapon proficiencies similar to a rogue and d6 hit points per level mean that at low level the Beguiler can be marginally better in combat than a wizard.

The beguiler is a top of the line skill monkey. They really have more than 6 skill points per level, because Int is their casting stat, and they are almost obliged to keep it as high as possible anyway. They have trapfinding. If they decide to ignore parts of their excellent skill list, they can cover the gaps with their flexible spell list. For example, a beguiler with low hide can replace it with invisibility or silent image, or a beguiler with bad social skills can recover with charms, Suggestion, or Dominate. Use Magic Device can be used to mask some of their weaknesses.

The beguiler is a full caster. They automatically know every spell on their spell list, and their spell list can be widened by a number of feats, prestige classes, and the advanced learning class feature. At each spell level their list includes a number of excellent spells. They get some free metamagic feats and their cloaked casting ability helps them overcome enemy defenses when casting on opponents who are denied their dex bonuses.

The beguiler is capable of doing one thing quite well. It is excellent at neutralizing opponents with charms and illusions. When that is inappropriate, it can still contribute with Trapfinding, Use Magic Device, or a handful of buff spells. -Braithwaite

Dread Necromancer:
Cons: I'm playing a Dread Necromancer right now, and I can assure you Planar Binding is FAR weaker on them than a Sorcerer or Wizard.  Without magic circle, a Dread Necromancer has to kill and reanimate anyone they bind... they can't just use services or anything.  And that can be a little hard to do.  Once that's complete, they can only reanimate them as a Skeleton or Zombie if they want gaurenteed control, which is hardly impressive.  If they want to control the creature, they could use Create Undead to make a Bone Creature... but it's DM fiat as to which version of Create Undead they need to use to get such a critter.  And now they have to rebuke the creature... which is difficult if they don't have the items they need to make that work (Lyre of the Restful Soul, Rod of Defiance).  And by the time they can actually make all this work, we're already in very high levels where the Sorcerer is about to start Shapechanging, usually.

On paper it's great, but the DN version of Planar Binding isn't anywhere near the Wizard/Sorcerer version.  I know... I'm using it in a game right now! -JaronK

Pros: Assuming you have half a brain and take tomb-tainted soul at first level, you get unlimited free out of combat healing.  You can pull off the same rainbow servant shenanigans as the warmage, but have less incentive to do so because your class features are better.  The familiar you get is actually useful in combat, and you certainly have some good fear stacking synergy with it - plus, you can use it to extend your personal buffs to other party members if you choose the ghostly visage. -The_Mad_Linguist

Crusader:

Opening up with the fact that this tank base class has the highest HP this side of a raging Barbarian (AKA, the side you want to be on), this class is a reasonably powerful cannon. It has some serious potential.
-Sinfire Titan

The penultimate Tank class, only Tier 1s and 2s task built exceed it.  Even then it has a major advantage in staying power. -Keldar

Cons: *Sigh*, Steely Resolve applies to pretty much 1 attack/round at the early-mid levels due to low absorption factor. No control over maneuvers granted makes combat unpredictable when you expand their options with PrCs. No control over the recovery mechanic means you can lose some options to the action economy. Only a d10 HD, when it should have had a d12 (seriously, this class is the most deserving of a d12 HD). Most limited access to the 9 disciplines. -Sinfire Titan
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Highly melee focused, loosing most of its offense and defensive abilities without a foe to hit in melee.  MAD to a lesser degree than many, serviceable with just good STR and CON, it also wants for WIS and CHA to shore up will saves, and DEX to take advantage of it's AoO related abilities.  Many class abilities are pure filler.  Feat starved due to all but needing Extra Granted Manuver and the highly desirable Stone Power. -Keldar

Pros: Furious Counterstrike. Cha to Will saves. Access to 2 of the most powerful styles in the game (and Stone Dragon). Able to heal themselves reliably well. Full BAB. A recovery mechanic independent of the action economy (this would be 2nd only to the Warblade). Basically, if you want a tank this is the class to look into. Practically the easiest to optimize (2 feats, tops), its perfect to beginners. -Sinfire Titan
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Can last all day long.  Has the offensive and buffing abilities to make the character a threat unlike some other meat-shield oriented classes.  The Crusader can even lend some of its resilience to others when it is ignored, and is basically the only class that can make good use of in combat healing. -Keldar

Bard:
Cons: Inside core, the only real useful feat for a bard is Skill Focus. Maybe the Spring Attack chain. A bard doesn't get enough weapon proficiencies in class to make a very good meleer, the rogue out sneaks them, etc. Not an ideal replacement for any dedicated class, and are thusly relegated to the role of secondary whatever.

Also, their low hit die and medium base attack bonus means that most people will outmatch them in a straight fight. -Woodenbandman
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The main problem is that bards are too spread out. They can do several things and contribute to the party, but they don't excel anywhere.

Again, spreading too much is a problem (bard's less stretched than lightning warrior unfortunately). No transmutations make me sad. Most of the songs need to be swapped for alternative ones. You just need inspire courage and inspire greatness (coupled with polymorph, yay!), really. Countersong is probably the worst class feature. Ever. No 7th and above spells (where the party starts). No spot skill is a minor detail, but it bugs me Tongue

Last but not least, the biggest con is not being respected by your own party Tongue ("bards? meh! What, are you gonna, like, sing the monsters away?", "Nonono, i was able to hit that monster anyway, didn't need your +WTFOMFGPWND inspire courage mod") -Dictum Mortuum

Pros: Great support outside of core in splatbooks. Feats that benefit multiclassed bards and prestige classes mean that a bard can cover any archetype of character adequately, whether it's Fighter, Tank (though illusionary defenses add up really well), sneak, face, magic user, healer, or buffer. They can even cover two of these roles at once, in many cases. Best at buffing, though (9d6 or however the hell much it is energy damage on each attack the party makes is awesome. Can make a strong case for using TWF if there's no rogue in the party already).

Very decent spell list. Some bard specific spells (Glibness, Hymn of Praise) are awesome and make any party fawn over the thought of a bard. Some spells not limited to bards only (Alter Self, Grease, Haste, Greater Blink, Greater Mirror Image) are extremely awesome anyway.

A great host of alternate class features, including songs that cause debuffs (that one that makes enemies attack each other is nice), the ability to use a fascinate effect with a DC based on a skill check (allowing you to often bypass a lot of hazards such as guards that must be snuck past), along with the ability to instill suggestions to a crowd at high levels, is awesome. -Woodenbandman
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They can buff, heal, speak, UMD, cast, scout, damage, summon. If there are martial characters in the group (or summoners) they're gonna love the bard, even if they don't optimize their inspire courage, as haste and displacement are equally spicy. Bardic music stacking with lingering song ftw. I love how they can cure a stupid amount of HPs using CLWs by chanting that healing hymn. I also love the half-elf substitution levels, especially coupled with deepwyrm half-drow. Actually, now that i think of it, bards have some quality alternative class features available. Take obtain/improved familiar and you have two of a character. A hasted power attacking (through heroics Tongue) bard who also inspires courage and wields a two handed weapon is scary -_-

Also: whip proficiency, hell yeah \m/ i'm goddamn indiana jones baby! -Dictum Mortuum

Swordsage:

Cons: IMO, the swordsage is probably the most well-balanced of the 3 martial classes (which also means that it is the weakest).

For a melee class, the swordsage seems to be an anomaly in that it gets only a d8, 3/4 bab, light armour, no shield and has good reflex/will saves but poor fort saves. With a noticeable lack of ranged capabilities, you are clearly expected to wade into melee, but none of your class features seemed geared towards helping you survive a retributive full attack from the enemy. So you likely need to play your swordsage more conservatively, having him skulk around the sidelines, moving in to strike only when the foe is preoccupied with a more imminent threat like the party barb or warblade. And even then, you better have a good way of retreating in case things get ugly. Better get a flight speed + flyby attack, or try to simulate spring attack somehow (eg: move, strike, use quicksilver motion/shadow blink to move away as swift action).

It appears to suffer from MAD. You are limited to light armour + no shield, so you will likely want to maintain a high dex score to boost your AC. Wis as well, since you add it to your AC, and it improves a variety of features, such as the save DCs of your maneuvers and the bonus damage from insightful strike. It has a fairly good skill list, so it is very tempting to invest in 12 int minimum to ensure you have sufficient skills. As with any class, a decent con is mandatory for sufficient hp. In addition, unless you wield a finessable weapon, you will likely want a good str score as well to boost your attack rolls. Cha remains a dump stat, but that is scant consolation for the fact that the class still leaves you with incentive to want to boost the other 5.

The swordsage gets the most number of maneuvers known and readied. But this is a mixed blessing, since you cannot ready any maneuver more than once, so you are typically left with 1 of 2 options - either maintain a good mix of strikes, counters and boosts (which means that you cannot really excel in any one aspect), or fill your excess slots with suboptimal maneuvers after choosing the choice ones.

He is also hampered by a very inefficient recharge mechanic (though to be fair, it can be mitigated with a single feat - adaptive style). I say "mitigated" rather than "solved" because spending one full round doing nothing to get all your maneuvers back is still quite a steep cost (though the upside is that you can also swap in useful maneuvers in place of less useful ones).

One full round just to get back 1 maneuver. Given the average length of a typical encounter, don't bother. You are "encouraged" to ration and use them sparingly, to ensure that you have enough to see you through the entire fight (which ties back to my earlier point about filling excess slots with subpar maneuvers). Contrast this with a warblade, who can easily alternate between spamming his best maneuvers and full-attacking (as part of refreshing), or a crusader who automatically refreshes his maneuvers every 3 rounds.

The array of disciplines don't seem all that stellar either. Desert wind and shadow hand are fairly weak, and it seems quite difficult to base a character build around them (a number of builds I see tend to revolve around specializing in diamond mind/tiger claw, while splashing in desert wind/shadow hand. No experience with setting sun.

3/4 bab isn't necessarily as bad as it seems. Standard action strikes mean that you are making 1 attack each round at your highest attack roll, so you should still be able to hit fairly consistently. But you can't really afford to power attack, since you will unlikely have excess bab to "burn". -Runestar

Pros: With so many flaws, you are likely wondering "Where are the good points"? Well, they would be the maneuvers! They let you be everything a fighter fails at, by allowing you more options, all the better to tackle the various challenges thrown your way by the DM.

Your crappiest save assaulted by a save-or-die ability of impossibly high DC? It is the appropriate diamond mind save booster (moment of precise mind/mind over body/action before thought) to the rescue (and action before thought complements evasion quite nicely).

Mobility hampered by difficult terrain? Teleport (shadow blink) or ignore it (setting sun 1st lv stance).

Mobile foes giving you fits by constantly moving, thus denying you the full attack? Strike maneuvers let you move and still be able to deal respectable damage (and since the bonus damage is usually independent of the weapon you wield, you can still lay out the hurt even if you are armed with a puny dagger instead of a greatsword, since its damage dice comprises only a small portion of the total damage dealt). Sometimes, you want to do more than just damage. There are quite a few maneuvers which rider-effects that allow you to debuff a foe in a variety of ways (such as negative lvs, restricting their movement or preventing them from full-attacking).

And thanks to martial study, you can also access cross-class maneuvers. Hit by a pesky status effect like wave of exhaustion? Remove it with iron heart surge. Only problem is that the swordsage does not really get that many feats, and quite a few will probably be tied up in the form of adaptive style, weapon finesse and possibly shadow blade (which also has the drawback of locking you in a shadow hand stance), so again, you only have so many feats to play around with.

Simply put, maneuvers help make melee fun again, and this is no exception even for the swordsage.

I would rate it as a tad inferior to the warblade (or in the very least, it would be more more tricky to play effectively), but the sheer utility of maneuvers more than suffices in letting it stay in the tier3 range. -Runestar
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As was noted for many of the lower tier classes, and as is always true for ToB classes, Swordsage makes a handy 1 or 2 level dip. If you are a caster and only expect to swing a weapon if cornered or for a few rounds every combat after you have finished your party buffs or battlefield control, the crummy recharge mechanic won't hurt you. Likewise, if you are a meleer and plan on doing mostly full attacks except for the few rounds when you are moving or otherwise prevented, the recharge mechanic isn't a problem.

For Wisdom using classes, the Swordsage Wisdom to AC in light armor is much better than the similar Monk/Ninja ability. Even a simple chain shirt with the +4 from an 18 wisdom comes out the same as plate mail, and a high level Swordsage with a magic mithral breastplate and high wisdom is likely to have the highest AC in the party, as well as a good touch AC. Unfortunately, boosting AC is usually not as effective as other build strategies, but if you decide that you want to build a high AC character, Swordsage + any wisdom based full casting class will probably outperform lower tier classes more typically thought of as "tanks", like Knight, Paladin, or sword & shield Fighter. -Braithwaite
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 10:12:58 AM by Gr1lledcheese » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2009, 06:23:06 PM »

Duskblade:

The duskblade is basically an arcane barbarian with a few more tricks thrown in, capable of doing high amounts of damage in melee thanks to arcane channeling and good feat selection.

Cons: The duskblade's spell list is very limited, lacks buffs, battlefield control, and utility spells, and doesn't get that many top tier spells. The duskblade doesn't get any touch attack spells to channel past the 3rd level and he only has a handful of good spells that can be channeled. The duskblade only gets up to 5th level spells (though some of it's spells are higher level on other spell lists like polar ray and disintigrate). The duskblade can be a borderline one-trick pony and is really tight on feats. A d8 hit dice makes it a little more frail than most other melee types, though a channeled vampric touch helps with this.

Pros: The duskblade can really dish out the damage in melee with arcane channeling and feats like power attack, knowledge devotion, and arcane strike. The duskblade does get a handful of debuffs like ray of enfeeblement, touch of idiocy, ray of exhaustion, and enervation. The duskblade does get quite a few spells per day and combined with a ring of wizardry or two he can arcane channel/arcane strike for a long time. The duskblade effectively get sudden quicken up to 4 times a day. The duskblade can cast in armor, partially making up for his lack of defensive spells. A d8 hit dice and full BAB make obtain familiar/improved familiar viable feat choices.
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2009, 06:41:54 PM »

Pros
Warblades are simply the best melee class ever.

Ok to reiterate, Warblades pack a d12 hit dice, full BAB, proficiency with all melee martial weapons, and up to medium armor as their basic class stats meaning they are meant for melee combat. From there things go uphill at a staggering pace.

For one thing they are the smart fighter, none of that 'Thorg smash puppies' stuff fighters do. Warblades get bonuses for having intelligence such as adding their int bonus to reflex saves, crit confirmation, damage rolls when flanking, all those combat maneuvers in the PHB, and finally attack and damage rolls for AOOs. Oh and did I mention they sport 4 skill points per level and can pick up skills like balance,tumble and intimidate?

Another thing to mention is Weapon Aptitude which not only lets you have access to but lets you swap your Weapon Focus chain of feats on the fly. Did you focus on longswords but find this awesome mace? Spend an hour playing with it and poof, instant retraining with no XP cost!

By the 6th level a warblade has improved uncanny dodge and a bonus feat. Later on they will pick up an additional three bonus feats from a limited but useful list. It's kinda like stealing class abilities from the Barbarian and Fighter at the same time.

Then there is the maneuver system the ToB introduced of course, the warblade gets the best recovery mechanic of all the classes. When you run out of maneuvers just attack someone. Yes I said attack them. I mean in a boring no maneuvers used sort of way, but it's the same exact (full) attack actions that you are used to using and the monsters still are. Walk over and beat the every living crap out of something to recover your maneuvers to beat the remaining blood out of them next round. Fun times.

Warblades can choose from any of the unsupernatural style of schools. They are realistic and in your face. They don't care about such things like fire, ghosting people, or purifying the wicked. Keep it simple, the pointy end goes into the foe a dozen times or the sharp edge slices them into pieces. Expect your average warblade to ignore save or die effects, to break battle control effects cast at them, to set the battle field in favorable conditions and exploit it, and to be seen helping the entire party's melee capabilities.

Finally, even those high nosed RPers will love the warblade. Now they have rules and effects backing such stories as 'I leap up and slice the snake's head clean off'. Even the most boring of players will find them selves shouting out the names of their attacks and bragging about how cool their character looks while swinging his sword. No more boring 'I attack..." comments. Ever. Well, unless it's part of a small joke, such as 'I attack... With my Finishing Move after flash stepping behind them and my blade lights up resembling molten lava to burn away their very soul!'. Maneuvers are so flavorful...

Cons
They don't have ranged attacks and always have to use mithral as their armor's material if they want to use full-plate. That's it.

Warblades are tier 3 only because 9th level spells are better than the rule books and not because the monster manuals are packed full of monsters that can kill them. Being the horseman War is great and all, but it will always be second best to a god.

***

And have some text on the maneuver system since all three of the ToB classes are in their tier.

The maneuver system found in the ToB offers all kinds of goodies and come in four basic types.
Strikes, those make the peoples fall down. Some strike are simple, make an attack and add 100 to the damage or they take 2d6 con damage. Others are more complex and have you roll a d20 to see which ability takes 2d6 damage and adds in further penalties they can try to save against.
Boosts, are awesome. Most are done as swift actions and are a great team helper. After all, the wizard does not have to spend a round casting haste on you if they don't want to.Boost range from granting you extra attacks, move actions, +3d6+20 fire damage per attack, to preventing a foe from making AOOs, to simple things like an ally gets an extra turn.
Counters, are just yet another way the ToB rocks. counters tend to take an intimidate action and grant things that sound kinda like boosts. They do such things as replacing a save with a concentration check, teleporting them to a ranged attacker, to making you incorporeal. It's great.
Stances, also grant extra stuff. They tend to give out less than a boost but unlike a boost your bonus from a stance exist as long as your awake and unbound. You could make fort saves to avoid death from HP loss, heal 2 damage per attack, increase your range, or preform AOOs on anyone that moves for any reason.

From there, their are nine different schools of combat.
Desert Wind focuses on fire effects. Fireballs, bonus fire damage, resistance to fire and limited flight.
Devoted Spirit focuses mostly on healing, defense, and alignment based stuff.
Diamond Mind focuses on mental stuff, like concentration checks for damage or saves.
Iron Heart is what Link focuses on and we all know how badassed he is.
Setting Sun focuses on throwing people like the rag dolls they are.
Shadow Hand focuses on assassinations, debuffing, and contains some teleportation effects.
Stone Dragon focuses on replacing dwarven defender. I jest, but it does help you become an immobile tank.
Tiger Claw focuses the raw savage fury of ripping your foes apart, critical hits, and TWF.
White Raven focuses on being a team player. Most of the stuff here helps the party out while you continue to kick ass.

The only bad thing is about a third of the maneuvers don't scale too well. Desert Wind and Setting Sun are horrible at it and the lower level maneuvers have to be replaced by higher level ones. In some ways this is fine. You cannot learn all the maneuvers so being able to classified some was replaceable means you won't spend hours trying to pick which ones you want to use.

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Tiers explained in 8 sentences. With examples!
Tiers break down into who has spellcasting more than anything else due to spells being better than anything else in the game.
6: Skill based. Commoner, Expert, Samurai.
5: Mundane warrior. Barbarian, Fighter, Monk.
4: Partial casters. Adapt, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Spelltheif.
3: Focused casters. Bard, Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Martial Adapts, Warmage.
2: Full casters. Favored Soul, Psion, Sorcerer, Wu Jen.
1: Elitists. Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Wizard.
0: Gods. StP Erudite, Illthid Savant, Pun-Pun, Rocks fall & you die.
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2009, 06:49:07 PM »

I still think Dread Necromancer has no reason to be Tier 3. We are still talking about class that can easily create an infinite army and gets Planar blinding at an appropriate spell level. They still get a decent BAB, infinite healing, free paralysis via their familiar, a load of cool advanced learnings and whatnot. Nevertheless, Planar binding alone makes them Tier 2.
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2009, 07:03:17 PM »

PSYCHIC WARRIOR
Many people take a look at the base chassis of the psychic warrior and immediately dismiss it as an inferior fighter, because they're used to martial characters needing a stupendously high BAB and a d10 or higher Hit Die. (And in the case of the psychic warrior/fighter paradigm, lots and lots of feats.) They also see more MAD, since psychic warriors need Wisdom as their key manifesting ability.

Psychic warriors have the following class abilities: 2 skill points/lvl (and a decent skill list, though not having Psicraft is a grave oversight), Medium BAB, d8 HD, good Fort save progression ("shouldn't they get good Will saves?"), light/medium/heavy armor and shields (but not tower shields), all simple and martial weapons, one power known per level, one bonus feat at level 1 and one at 2 and every 3 levels thereafter (which can be [psionic] feats, psionic item creation feats, metapsionic feats, or fighter feats - though they don't count as fighters for prerequisites), as well as the smallest power point pool in official psionics. They can also use use-activated items for the powers on their class list.

PROS:
What people don't realize is that judicious use of powers (as well as creative usage of psionic items) allows a psychic warrior to not only boost their numbers up to reasonable levels, but to completely circumvent the need to, say, target a foe's AC and HP, which is pretty much all a fighter can do. They can also spare feats for things other than direct-combat (see: Darkstalker, Able Learner, Expanded Knowledge for utility powers, and so on), because their power points give them an expansive pool of options for combat already.

Psychic warriors are strictly superior to fighters where fighters tend to shine the most:

The expansion power alone grants a Medium sized psywar the ability to emulate the benefits of several feats (avoiding AoOs with reach weapons), including charging, grappling, disarming, sundering, bull rushing, and tripping (sans followup attack). And best of all, the bonuses gained stack with the actual feats.

Two-handed fighting benefits from Strength-enhancing powers (such as strength of my enemy), as well as from the ability to full attack on a charge (via psionic lion's charge); no need to make a barbarian dip or use Alternative Class Features here!

Two-weapon fighting can be simulated better than the real thing using psionically-obtained natural weapons and the powers that enhance them (bite of the wolf, claws of the beast, metamorphosis, form of doom, and the Illithid Grapple feat in Complete Psionic, for a whole slew of natural attacks, if you want them): A.) Natural weaponry doesn't require the gross expense that investing in two manufactured weapons do, meaning you can get more effective WBL as a result. B.) They don't require a long string of feats or prerequisites (they don't, in fact, need a single feat to work ever, though the Multiattack feat is recommended). C.) They can gain bonus damage through other powers and psionic-specific options, which is pretty much a requirement if you want to do TWFing (not to mention that Power Attack works just fine with secondary weapons). D.) You aren't screwed over by the inability to move and full attack in the same round, thanks to powers like hustle and psionic lion's charge. E.) You aren't restricted by your BAB in making natural attacks, and you also don't have the diminishing rate of returns on iterative attacks. F.) You can make a full-attack with a manufactured weapon, AND make secondary natural attacks; and yes, you can add those on to the TWF line of feats, if you REALLY want to, for a ludicrous number of attacks each round.

While archery isn't generally considered the psychic warrior's schtick (as their powers are geared more toward melee combat), they do gain nearly as many bonus feats as a fighter does which can be used for archery, and many powers can be adapted for use with a bow even without a creative interpretation. While a higher BAB would be useful, a psychic warrior is fully capable of dishing out lots of damage even without it (Manyshot, Greater Psionic Shot, Fell Shot, Power Shot, and a deep crystal bow can rack up the d6s really quickly on every attack, and powers such as strength of my enemy and weapon of energy allow you to lay on the hurt even more). They also make great use of the Zen Archery feat, for Wis to ranged attacks.

Psychic warriors also make incredible mounted combatants, especially once they gain access to metamorphosis through either research or the Expanded Knowledge feat. Grab psionic lion's charge, Ride-By Attack and Spirited Charge, TWF, a psicrystal, and a pair of lances, and watch your enemies die...quickly. Consider the fact that psicrystals gain their Granted Abilities even when shapeshifted to other forms, and you get a 7-headed hydra with power resistance, natural armor boosts, near-blindsight, the ability to fly, [your manifester level x 10] temporary hit points (see vigor + share pain), and all of the other buffs you care to share with it.

Psychic warriors also have abilities that let them shine where fighters fail:

Numerous powers that psywars have access to (one way or another) grant options for doing stuff in combat other than "I hit their AC to drop their HP," which is ~90% of all a fighter can do. They have indirect access to all of the psion and discipline powers of 6th level and below, and have some goodies on their list, as well.

They also have movement options that fighters don't; they can access powers that grant them teleportation, flight, swim speeds, burrowing, and are considerably more mobile in sheer quantity due to hustle and access to the Speed of thought, Psionic Charge, and Up the Walls feats. As well as the added tactical abilities granted by being able to take a move action AND a full-round action in the same turn.

Many feats and powers (not to mention skills) a psychic warrior has access to gives him things to do outside of combat, if he's creative. Psionic minor creation and the Psicrystal Affinity feat alone can be used in virtually any situation, given some thought.

They can cover for their weaknesses, allowing their strengths to blossom even more. It doesn't matter if a psychic warrior has a smaller Con and Dex than an equivalent fighter; he can buff up his HP using Psionic Body, vigor and share pain (see: psicrystal), and can increase his saves using defensive precognition, if he so chooses (not to mention that he has the ability to buff his ability scores directly). He can also utilize strategies that a fighter can't in order to capitalize on his strengths and minimize his weaknesses (such as using psionic minor creation to poison enemies, rendering his low Str a non-issue).

Also, they don't need as many high-priced items just to function well (they don't NEED high-priced weapons and an item that lets them fly and an item that protects them from solid fogs and an item that protects them from mind-altering drugs abilities to function; they can simply take an appropriate power). This gives them considerably more inherent flexibility than most fighter-types are capable of. Not to mention that they're fully able to make their own stuff.

Oh, and they can get access to both psychic reformation and psionic contingency, which allows them to change their entire build on-the-fly.

CONS:
The psychic warrior class only has three real weaknesses, all of which can be overcome by an astute and intelligent player.

1.) Psywars get very few power points, and so every point is precious. However, there are items and feats that can lower the pp output for various manifestations, strategies to help you use pp efficiently, items and feats that grant additional pp, and strategies that can allow you to refill your power point pool. You just have to know where to find them and how to use them.

2.) Psychic warriors tend to rely on buffing to make them useful, which means that unless you know what you're doing you spend several rounds buffing up, and less in actual combat. The Linked Power feat from CPsi goes a long way toward minimizing combat rounds spent buffing, as does Quicken Power (pp-intensive! eww!), and the schism power. You can also make strategic decisions that cut down on this aspect, such as grabbing a reach weapon and a spiked gauntlet, the Combat Reflexes feat, and expansion, manifesting the latter and then moving into position so any enemies that move are subject to being stabbed to death. There are several ways to minimize the pain caused by this particular weakness.

3.) Their base chassis does require some effort to bolster, which means you have to figure out how you're going to work around your BAB, HD, and saves. Luckily, the powers and feats a psychic warrior gets can do so handily, and a prepared player can get around them without much of a problem. Wisdom also bolsters their bad Will saves, so while they aren't indominatable they're certainly better than their fighter cousins (and can get mind blank to boot!)

And there you have it.
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2009, 07:03:48 PM »

I still think Dread Necromancer has no reason to be Tier 3. We are still talking about class that can easily create an infinite army and gets Planar blinding at an appropriate spell level. They still get a decent BAB, infinite healing, free paralysis via their familiar, a load of cool advanced learnings and whatnot. Nevertheless, Planar binding alone makes them Tier 2.

Magic Circle Against ____ is not on the Dread Necromancer spell list.
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2009, 09:05:17 PM »

Added Lycanthromancer's Psychic Warrior description, SorO_Lost's description of the Warblade, and Ninjarabbit's description of the Duskblade.

Boy am I glad to be out of tier 4 and 5 classes.  Big Grin
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2009, 09:15:27 PM »

[edited out]
« Last Edit: July 03, 2009, 03:31:17 AM by Lycanthromancer » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2009, 09:17:23 PM »

Lycanthomancer covered it pretty well.  The psywar is one of the most balanced base classes in the game and one of my personal favorites.  It has no weak level and can be effective in any level range.  Its shortcoming can be overcome with a smart selection of powers, and it can often out perform fighters and barbarians with ease, in the hands of a true min/maxer you will get monstrosities like King of Smack (70d6 of damage while healing yourself for 35d6!!!)

More pros:
The greatest assets of a psywar is the fact that you can do so much while still (full) attacking.  Strength of my enemy and vampire weapon/claw allow you to attack, debuff and heal at the same time.  Hustle will give you one extra move action that you can regain focus (assuming you took psionic meditation), psionic lion's charge not only allows for a full attack after a charge attack but greatly improved damage as well.  And psicrystal with metamorphosis basically doubles your actions in one turn.

The bonus feats are also very expansive which allows for selection if feats like EK: schism which of course increases your actions per round yet again.  Get a boots of temp accel and you will have all the time in the world to buff up.

Just to elaborate on how a psywar kicks the crap out of its non-psionic contemporaries: PLC was mentioned already, but up the walls will fulfill all the requirements for a charge and leap attack so you can now "charge leap attack" at point blank range.  Combining deep impact, max power attack, PLC and leap attack and you are looking at some hefty damage.  It was mentioned that things die quickly with psywar right?


More cons (and how to overcome them):
Lycanthomancers hit the major ones but I'll elaborate some more.  

d8 HP: easy to overcome with the old vigor-share pain-psicrystal affinity combo.  Once you get schism you basically "regenerate" vigor every turn.

low PP pool: I think lycanthomancer was referring to earth power to lower costs.  I personally think this feat sucks since you can't use your psionic focus which you need for feats like, up the walls, speed of though, deep impact and linked power.  The better way to do it is to get more WIS, which will increase your PP AND the DC on your powers.  WIS boosting items should not be hard to come, at least no where near as rare as a torc.

3/4 BAB: Deep impact is my favorite way to deal with this, but powers like offensive precog and metaphysical weapon more than make up for the lose in accuracy and scales with full BAB progression.  By 4th level you can use offensive precog to get +2 on attack rolls, which is a total of +5 on attack rolls, as opposed to the +4 a fighter gets.  If psywar ever got full BAB they should be banned.

Poor reflex save: I'm at a lose as to what to do with this other than using defensive precog, items (skin of the hero), or feats.  Not too many reflex save or die/sucks, or my DM has been very kind to me.

Lack of skill:  a mere two points of skill per level that will all be going into concentration....... INT is more or less a dump stat for psywars too.  If you are going for ubercharger then the other point goes to jump.  Mighty spring (the power) might help a bit.

low level powers:  Only can get up to 6th level powers.  This really blows and other than going epic not much to be done.  The greatest lose is not being able to pick up temp accel with EK since you can only take 5th level powers at psywar 20.  One way that I can think of is to take a mantled variant, then pick tap mantle: time and then use a power stone with temp accel on it (can be done with any 6-9 power in a mantle really).  This is the only reason I consider wilders to be more fun to play than psywar.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 09:21:16 PM by Samb » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2009, 09:21:58 PM »

I still think Dread Necromancer has no reason to be Tier 3. We are still talking about class that can easily create an infinite army and gets Planar blinding at an appropriate spell level. They still get a decent BAB, infinite healing, free paralysis via their familiar, a load of cool advanced learnings and whatnot. Nevertheless, Planar binding alone makes them Tier 2.

Magic Circle Against ____ is not on the Dread Necromancer spell list.
I always assumed that was what their 3rd level death ward was supposed to be (they get at 3rd and 4th... clearly there's a typo somewhere, and magic circle against good is the obvious gap in their list.
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2009, 09:31:16 PM »

I still think Dread Necromancer has no reason to be Tier 3. We are still talking about class that can easily create an infinite army and gets Planar blinding at an appropriate spell level. They still get a decent BAB, infinite healing, free paralysis via their familiar, a load of cool advanced learnings and whatnot. Nevertheless, Planar binding alone makes them Tier 2.

I'm playing a Dread Necromancer right now, and I can assure you Planar Binding is FAR weaker on them than a Sorcerer or Wizard.  Without magic circle, a Dread Necromancer has to kill and reanimate anyone they bind... they can't just use services or anything.  And that can be a little hard to do.  Once that's complete, they can only reanimate them as a Skeleton or Zombie if they want gaurenteed control, which is hardly impressive.  If they want to control the creature, they could use Create Undead to make a Bone Creature... but it's DM fiat as to which version of Create Undead they need to use to get such a critter.  And now they have to rebuke the creature... which is difficult if they don't have the items they need to make that work (Lyre of the Restful Soul, Rod of Defiance).  And by the time they can actually make all this work, we're already in very high levels where the Sorcerer is about to start Shapechanging, usually.

So yeah, on paper it's great, but the DN version of Planar Binding isn't anywhere near the Wizard/Sorcerer version.  I know... I'm using it in a game right now! 

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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2009, 02:43:59 AM »

Holy Mother of Screw Ups Batman!

Allright, I fixed my Psychic warrior section. I noticed that I accidently pasted a portion twice, and also labeled the class as Psionic Warrior, I must have been distracted  Embarrassed

Also added Samb's PsyWar description and JaronK's comment about dread necromancers and planar binding to the cons section of DN.
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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2009, 03:37:28 AM »

The thing about psychic warriors as opposed to wilders is that most psion/wilder powers have to be manifested at or near maximum to be effective, whereas psychic warrior powers can often be manifested at the bare minimum and still be uber-effective.

For example, a 1 pp expansion is often all that is needed, as is a 3 pp hustle. You rarely (if ever) have to spend more than just that. For wilders, however, there are few powers that should ever be manifested at less than maximum (unless, of course, you reach outside of the standard wilder class list, in which case this does not necessarily apply).

Thus, psywars can generally get away with minimal manifesting (and 6th level powers can be REALLY powerful if used correctly - not to mention that they can still be augmented to be the equivalent of a 9th level power, regardless of the power's original level)...
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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2009, 04:50:35 AM »

My personal take on the swordsage. As usual, don't hesitate to shoot down anything you disagree with.  Smile

IMO, the swordsage is probably the most well-balanced of the 3 martial classes (which also means that it is the weakest).

For a melee class, the swordsage seems to be an anomaly in that it gets only a d8, 3/4 bab, light armour, no shield and has good reflex/will saves but poor fort saves. With a noticeable lack of ranged capabilities, you are clearly expected to wade into melee, but none of your class features seemed geared towards helping you survive a retributive full attack from the enemy. So you likely need to play your swordsage more conservatively, having him skulk around the sidelines, moving in to strike only when the foe is preoccupied with a more imminent threat like the party barb or warblade. And even then, you better have a good way of retreating in case things get ugly. Better get a flight speed + flyby attack, or try to simulate spring attack somehow (eg: move, strike, use quicksilver motion/shadow blink to move away as swift action).

It appears to suffer from MAD. You are limited to light armour + no shield, so you will likely want to maintain a high dex score to boost your AC. Wis as well, since you add it to your AC, and it improves a variety of features, such as the save DCs of your maneuvers and the bonus damage from insightful strike. It has a fairly good skill list, so it is very tempting to invest in 12 int minimum to ensure you have sufficient skills. As with any class, a decent con is mandatory for sufficient hp. In addition, unless you wield a finessable weapon, you will likely want a good str score as well to boost your attack rolls. Cha remains a dump stat, but that is scant consolation for the fact that the class still leaves you with incentive to want to boost the other 5.

The swordsage gets the most number of maneuvers known and readied. But this is a mixed blessing, since you cannot ready any maneuver more than once, so you are typically left with 1 of 2 options - either maintain a good mix of strikes, counters and boosts (which means that you cannot really excel in any one aspect), or fill your excess slots with suboptimal maneuvers after choosing the choice ones.

He is also hampered by a very inefficient recharge mechanic (though to be fair, it can be mitigated with a single feat - adaptive style). I say "mitigated" rather than "solved" because spending one full round doing nothing to get all your maneuvers back is still quite a steep cost (though the upside is that you can also swap in useful maneuvers in place of less useful ones).

One full round just to get back 1 maneuver. Given the average length of a typical encounter, don't bother. You are "encouraged" to ration and use them sparingly, to ensure that you have enough to see you through the entire fight (which ties back to my earlier point about filling excess slots with subpar maneuvers). Contrast this with a warblade, who can easily alternate between spamming his best maneuvers and full-attacking (as part of refreshing), or a crusader who automatically refreshes his maneuvers every 3 rounds.

The array of disciplines don't seem all that stellar either. Desert wind and shadow hand are fairly weak, and it seems quite difficult to base a character build around them (a number of builds I see tend to revolve around specializing in diamond mind/tiger claw, while splashing in desert wind/shadow hand. No experience with setting sun.

3/4 bab isn't necessarily as bad as it seems. Standard action strikes mean that you are making 1 attack each round at your highest attack roll, so you should still be able to hit fairly consistently. But you can't really afford to power attack, since you will unlikely have excess bab to "burn".

With so many flaws, you are likely wondering "Where are the good points"? Well, they would be the maneuvers! They let you be everything a fighter fails at, by allowing you more options, all the better to tackle the various challenges thrown your way by the DM.

Your crappiest save assaulted by a save-or-die ability of impossibly high DC? It is the appropriate diamond mind save booster (moment of precise mind/mind over body/action before thought) to the rescue (and action before thought complements evasion quite nicely).

Mobility hampered by difficult terrain? Teleport (shadow blink) or ignore it (setting sun 1st lv stance).

Mobile foes giving you fits by constantly moving, thus denying you the full attack? Strike maneuvers let you move and still be able to deal respectable damage (and since the bonus damage is usually independent of the weapon you wield, you can still lay out the hurt even if you are armed with a puny dagger instead of a greatsword, since its damage dice comprises only a small portion of the total damage dealt). Sometimes, you want to do more than just damage. There are quite a few maneuvers which rider-effects that allow you to debuff a foe in a variety of ways (such as negative lvs, restricting their movement or preventing them from full-attacking).

And thanks to martial study, you can also access cross-class maneuvers. Hit by a pesky status effect like wave of exhaustion? Remove it with iron heart surge. Only problem is that the swordsage does not really get that many feats, and quite a few will probably be tied up in the form of adaptive style, weapon finesse and possibly shadow blade (which also has the drawback of locking you in a shadow hand stance), so again, you only have so many feats to play around with.

Simply put, maneuvers help make melee fun again, and this is no exception even for the swordsage.

I would rate it as a tad inferior to the warblade (or in the very least, it would be more more tricky to play effectively), but the sheer utility of maneuvers more than suffices in letting it stay in the tier3 range.
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2009, 10:00:51 AM »

Swordsage Pros comment:

As was noted for many of the lower tier classes, and as is always true for ToB classes, Swordsage makes a handy 1 or 2 level dip. If you are a caster and only expect to swing a weapon if cornered or for a few rounds every combat after you have finished your party buffs or battlefield control, the crummy recharge mechanic won't hurt you. Likewise, if you are a meleer and plan on doing mostly full attacks except for the few rounds when you are moving or otherwise prevented, the recharge mechanic isn't a problem.

For Wisdom using classes, the Swordsage Wisdom to AC in light armor is much better than the similar Monk/Ninja ability. Even a simple chain shirt with the +4 from an 18 wisdom comes out the same as plate mail, and a high level Swordsage with a magic mithral breastplate and high wisdom is likely to have the highest AC in the party, as well as a good touch AC. Unfortunately, boosting AC is usually not as effective as other build strategies, but if you decide that you want to build a high AC character, Swordsage + any wisdom based full casting class will probably outperform lower tier classes more typically thought of as "tanks", like Knight, Paladin, or sword & shield Fighter.
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2009, 10:41:17 AM »

The thing about psychic warriors as opposed to wilders is that most psion/wilder powers have to be manifested at or near maximum to be effective, whereas psychic warrior powers can often be manifested at the bare minimum and still be uber-effective.

For example, a 1 pp expansion is often all that is needed, as is a 3 pp hustle. You rarely (if ever) have to spend more than just that. For wilders, however, there are few powers that should ever be manifested at less than maximum (unless, of course, you reach outside of the standard wilder class list, in which case this does not necessarily apply).

Thus, psywars can generally get away with minimal manifesting (and 6th level powers can be REALLY powerful if used correctly - not to mention that they can still be augmented to be the equivalent of a 9th level power, regardless of the power's original level)...
While you do have a point, it still doesn't change the fact you cannot gain access to powers 6-9th powers.  Powers that could really boost psywar are temp accel, fission, greater metamorphosis, energy conversation.  In a one on one fight a psion or wilder 20 will would have had used temp accel to gain 4 extra turns as opposed to psywar's boot leg 1 extra turn.  Form of doom might be nice, but greater metamorphosis is twice as nice, which a wilder can get with shifter sub level.  At higher levels not being able to use higher level powers is really glaring.  I don't want you to think that I dislike psywar or that it should be tier 4 because of this, but it is a balancing factor for them, one that really does make a difference and that cannot be overcome.
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2009, 10:43:19 AM »

Beguiler

Pros
Beguiler is probably the most flexible of the three "specialist Sorcerers", the other two being Dread Necromancer and Warmage.

For an arcane caster, the beguiler is reasonably hardy. Light armor is roughly equal to a sorcerer's Mage Armor, without taking up a spell slot. Weapon proficiencies similar to a rogue and d6 hit points per level mean that at low level the Beguiler can be marginally better in combat than a wizard.

The beguiler is a top of the line skill monkey. They really have more than 6 skill points per level, because Int is their casting stat, and they are almost obliged to keep it as high as possible anyway. They have trapfinding. If they decide to ignore parts of their excellent skill list, they can cover the gaps with their flexible spell list. For example, a beguiler with low hide can replace it with invisibility or silent image, or a beguiler with bad social skills can recover with charms, Suggestion, or Dominate. Use Magic Device can be used to mask some of their weaknesses.

The beguiler is a full caster. They automatically know every spell on their spell list, and their spell list can be widened by a number of feats, prestige classes, and the advanced learning class feature. At each spell level their list includes a number of excellent spells. They get some free metamagic feats and their cloaked casting ability helps them overcome enemy defenses when casting on opponents who are denied their dex bonuses.

The beguiler is capable of doing one thing quite well. It is excellent at neutralizing opponents with charms and illusions. When that is inappropriate, it can still contribute with Trapfinding, Use Magic Device, or a handful of buff spells.

Cons
A Beguiler, like a rogue, is very vulnerable to certain types of enemies unless they can cover their gaps with specialized magical items. Mindless creatures, those immune to Enchantments or Illusions, creatures with blindsight, true seeing, high SR, or even a high will save can be tough for Beguilers to beat.

Illusions and Enchantments derive much of their power from the creativity of the player and the cooperation of the DM. A player who just wants to blast his enemies will not do well with a beguiler. A DM whose NPC's always attempt to subvert commands and who are all paranoid of illusions can cripple a Beguiler.

While the Beguiler knows more spells than a sorcerer, and is absolutely better than a Sorcerer who takes only Enchantment and Illusion spells, it lacks the versatility of Sorcerers or Wizards to have the right tool on hand for every situation.

While superior in mundane combat to low level sorcerers and wizards, the beguiler is still one of the weakest combatants in the game, and the Surprise Casting class feature is almost a trap to lure unsuspecting players near their enemies where they can be crushed.

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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2009, 11:23:54 AM »

Added: Runestar's take on the Swordsage, Braithwaite's comments about swordsage pros and Braithwaite's description of the beguiler.
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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2009, 11:32:03 AM »

While not posting any pros and cons here, I'd like to point out something.

Being a tier 3 is NOTHING to be ashamed of.  Tier 3 are the herald's of destruction, they can do humongously more damage in battle than tier 1 and 2 characters and are still immensely useful out of combat.  Simply put, if you're a least bit intelligent, you won't be bored playing a tier 3 character.

But you're not tier 2.  Or tier 1.

Tier 1 characters can BREAK THE GAME, litterally, all of them, that's why they are gods, that's why we are wary of the power we wield when we use them.

Tier 2 characters can BREAK THE GAME, just a tad less obviously, or in a more limited way.   

So anyone who feels insulted their class is ''only tier 3''  when they play one in game, DON'T BE!  It's still incredibly good.  Heck, i played a game with 3 tier 1 and a tier 3, and the tier 3 was always useful in battle.  Eventually, it got so easy it was boring!!!  We had to tangle with actual GODS at level 21 just to keep it challenging!
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2009, 02:10:14 PM »

While not posting any pros and cons here, I'd like to point out something.

Being a tier 3 is NOTHING to be ashamed of.  Tier 3 are the herald's of destruction, they can do humongously more damage in battle than tier 1 and 2 characters and are still immensely useful out of combat.  Simply put, if you're a least bit intelligent, you won't be bored playing a tier 3 character.

But you're not tier 2.  Or tier 1.

Tier 1 characters can BREAK THE GAME, litterally, all of them, that's why they are gods, that's why we are wary of the power we wield when we use them.

Tier 2 characters can BREAK THE GAME, just a tad less obviously, or in a more limited way.  

So anyone who feels insulted their class is ''only tier 3''  when they play one in game, DON'T BE!  It's still incredibly good.  Heck, i played a game with 3 tier 1 and a tier 3, and the tier 3 was always useful in battle.  Eventually, it got so easy it was boring!!!  We had to tangle with actual GODS at level 21 just to keep it challenging!
Don't forget the PCs in your Thorny Trail game Smile
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"Weakness? Come test thy mettle against me, hairless ape, and we shall know who is weak!"

Quote from: J0lt
You caught a fish.  It was awesome.  
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