I was pokin’ around, looking at the druid (sub. req.). It’s a very cool take on a controller, possibly better at it than the wizard, and the way they implemented beast form stuff is also neat. Given these powers and abilities, I think that druids are pretty much guaranteed to have interesting choices to make in character creation and combat.

Summary

The short and sweet is that they’re a controller who can trend striker or leader. They’re Wisdom based, with Dex or Con as a secondary, and the secondary stat looks like it will drive which encounter powers you go with. They’re light armor guys, and lose some of their class feature benefits if they wear heavy armor.

They still have a shapeshifting thing going on. It’s modal: if you’re in beast form, you gain access to beast form powers and lose access to your other powers. One thing worth mentioning is that druids get three at-will attacks, and at least one but at most two of which must be beast form attacks. All the beast attacks are basic attacks in some sense, with one of the three only usable as part of a charge.

Powers

The at-wills are all really quite good. While looking over these last night, one of my friends remarked that they were more interesting controllers than wizards. Although I’m not sure I agree when it comes to everything wizards can do— druid effects are powerful, sure, but almost all of their powers are a single target or burst/blast 1— I have to agree with this assessment when it comes to at-wills. The druid looks like it will deliver on the potential inherent to the new push, pull, and slide mechanics, much more than the wizard or perhaps any other class.

For instance, Chill Wind is much like Scorching Burst, but instead of adding your Wis modifier to damage, you can instead slide the target one square. Flame Seed is very similar to Cloud of Daggers, except you forfeit the Wis modifier damage bonus in exchange for dealing damage to enemies around the target. Obviously this is only playtest, but both druid powers are much more, well, controlling.

The beast form at-wills are all quite good, too. They’re all d8, and include a slow effect or sliding the target. There’s a Daily utility that lets you add your Dex modifier to your speed for the encounter, which, um. Let’s say it here because it’s obvious: elf druid with the druid class feature that grants +1 to speed. That’s 8 speed, base, which is up to 11 with this power. Throw in some boots of speed or Fleet of Foot and you’re probably up to 12 or 13. Yikes.

Speaking of dailies: guess which druid power made it as a daily? Faerie Fire! The irony is amusing: as a multi-stage debuff  that includes slow, combat advantage (!), and some damage, it’s quite badass. They’ve got another daily that does some damage with a minor healing effect, which seems to be the only power in this preview that is leader-like.

Final comments

In practice, I’d say that I’d enjoy playing the controller aspect up the most. Their capacity for sheer destruction is much less than a wizard’s since they deal less damage and over a smaller area, but in exchange it seems like they have more interesting choices to make when it comes to choosing and using their powers. I suppose Arcane Power will make some difference in this regard, which is good and bad.

So, yeah, I’m a fan. This is one class I’ve always enjoyed in theory more than in practice. I consistently made fun of the bard in 3rd Edition, and the 4th Edition version was pretty cool, so it was hard to worry about the viability of this class. It might be a little too good by this point, but that’s what the playtest is for, right?

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