Rise of the Runelords

Session 11: Player's Thoughts; In a Class of its Own

Chapter Three: The Hook Mountain Massacre

Contributed by Markus

So we're about midway through our Runelords campaign, and I thought it would be a good time to give my thoughts on my class choice for the campaign – the Warblade.

Coming from the Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords, I opted for the Warblade because of its clear ties to our upcoming switch to 4th Edition. In many ways, it was a test-model for what they are going for in 4E, in terms of having each class have some very cool "special moves", which really distinguish them from one another, while also aiming to keep their usage very simple and streamlined.

For those not familiar with the Warblade, you basically get to select some Maneuvers which you cycle through in a fight, using each once, and then are able to refresh them by spending a round doing nothing but one single normal attack (or just stand there doing nothing at all).

I personally find this system very exciting for three reasons:

1. Firstly, I love how much strategy is involved in the selection and usage of the Maneuvers. Rather than all being simple attack-do-damage strikes, I've found that they cover a much wider range of tactics. You have some defensive ones that help with saving throws or AC or health regeneration. You have tactical ones that employ disarms and charges and bull rushes and ability damage. And even within the range of damaging ones, you have some that become touch attacks, utilize your Concentration skill as a damage roll, or attack foes in a radius, line or other positional set-up. It makes it so that from the time of selection through to the time of usage, you are constantly thinking about which maneuvers you like, and how to best put them to use in every given round.

2. Secondly, I love the fact that they are so easily replenished. With mages/clerics, your power weakens over the course of a series of fights, as you use up your best spells and soon find yourself needing to rest. That always bothered me, conceptually. The powerful wizard can only fight for a couple of minutes a day, and then needs to go back to sleep to get his power back? Seriously? Hard to imagine an epic battle between vast armies, where the spellcasters were only good for a couple of minutes worth of power, while the frontline fighters could go for hours. I find that the Warblade's "refresh" would do wonders for any other kind of caster, in terms of keeping things fun and exciting, and am glad that it's part of the 4E model.

3. Lastly, I love the fact that each and every level of advancement brings with it a whole new play experience. Since the Maneuvers at one's disposal impact so much upon their battle tactics, each time you can a new ability or can swap out an old one for a replacement, you are effectively changing your strategy and approach in significant ways. That has been reflected in my character Tirion, by the fact that at low levels, he wielded two-handers and reduced his defenses in favor of offensive power… But later adopted a model of sword-and-shield, boosting his defenses significantly and relying more on elements like a Concentration skill, for offensive potential (via Insightful Strike). Who knows what higher levels will bring, but I'm sure I'll continue to evolve the character's strategy along the way, when other new and exciting abilities come along.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg, don't forget…

The Warblade is but one of the three cool classes in the Tome of Battle.

And where Tirion is specialized in two Disciplines (Iron Heart and Diamond Mind), there are a total of SEVEN others I haven't even touched on this character.

So a future Warblade could take on a completely different playstyle. Or I could use similar abilities but in the hands of a Swordsage, to use them in a very different manner.

All in all, I've just found it to be an incredibly refreshing change to the usual 3rd Edition system. Where a fighter is all about boosting regular attacks with passive feats, or a rogue cares only for flanking and sneak attacks, the Warblade has given an option for melee combat that feels more cool, exciting and innovative in every respect. And as mentioned, some of its systems like ability refreshing could easily be transferred to other spellcasters to "fix" their problems as well.

So I must say, that at least for me? If this is a sign of what's to come in 4th Edition, then I'm very excited about it all. :)



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