4th Edition Flaws, part 2

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I mentioned in my previous post how I was kind of unhappy about how my Warlock (ranged striker) plays compared to some of the other classes in the game.

As I already said, it seems like melee-oriented attack bonuses fly around a lot more than spell-based ranged attack bonuses. You’ve got an ability modifier, you’ve got a weapon proficiency, you’ve got feats, you’ve got combat advantage through flanking, and you’ve got a lot of stacking buffs from support classes.

I also feel compelled to mention that pretty much every spell is ranged 10 (Magic Missle is the exception), where bows are ranged 20. And, I’m sorry to say, but ranged 10 is just silly. Most things in the game move 6 squares. Elves move 7. You can double move and not incur any sort of defensive penalty, and easily get yourself into melee combat with a ranged combatant. I’m not really interested in realism here, but I’d think that, the point of ranged attacks being to shoot enemies at range, that you’d be able to hope for at least one round of firing before enemies are upon you.

I haven’t found this particularly problematic, but mainly because my character doesn’t pose an exceptional threat that deserves going out of the way to target. At least in my understanding, a Striker character is supposed to be doing substantially more damage than other characters. Not so. I find that other members of the party regularly hit as hard as I do.

Why? Again, that there are substantially more feats and cooperative abilities dealing with boosting weapon damage than there are for spell damage. The few feats that exist for spells are relatively unimpressive in comparison (being designed for the Wizard’s AoE attacks, rather than the Warlock’s single-target damage). And at this point I just don’t have the confidence that I’ll be making a good choice — Assuming we play to say 15th level, who’s going to say I’ll still want a feat that only affects Fire damage? Unlike a weapon user, a spellcaster can’t count on something that applied to his spell continuing to apply to future spells.

Another example: Warlocks have a ability called Curse they can apply to the nearest enemy, and when they damage that target they do 1d6 additional damage. Rangers have an ability called Quarry that they can choose on an enemy, and when they damage that target they do 1d6 additional damage. Rogues get a similar ability in Sneak Attack. Both Rogues and Rangers get a feat which increases this additional damage from d6 to d8. Warlocks don’t.

In fact, as a whole, the Warlock has almost no choices. At level one you choose your “pact.” Your pact grants you your two known at-will powers, you do not get a choice. Once you have chosen your pact you have already chosen your paragon path, because they are tied together. There are only four feats specifically for Warlocks in the entire book, and three of them tie into which one of the three pacts you chose (you only can choose the feat associated with your pact).

Even though I’ve been kind of anti-supplement for awhile now, I’m actually looking forward to whatever splatbook Wizards may put out for arcane casters, because the Warlock is sorely lacking in options, and they really do need substantial improvement in terms of choices to stand up to other classes.

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