Yes, I expect it’s widely available now, but see, I got it yesterday Thursday. This is only remarkable because I didn’t expect to have it until today Friday. So it’s special, see.

It’s also special in part because no Er-Eret tonight. It’s going to be a weeknight next week! It has to be. I’m determined. And I’m more than a little tempted to bring this to a close post-haste.

Anyway, I’ve only had a chance to skim PHB2 as of this writing. Even though my assessment is half-baked, I do have one or two impressions which are even more half-assed and ill-thought-out than usual!


Compared to previous editions, the barbarian is seems more meaty than dodgy: Strength is primary, and from there it’s Charisma or Constitution, leaving little room for improving AC via Intelligence or Dexterity. Picking up heavier armor is an interesting tradeoff— you’re spending a feat to forfeit +1 Reflex and 1 Speed in exchange for +2 AC.

Can we talk about dwarves? As I mentioned in a previous post, dwarves have a lot to gain from PHB2. There are tons of races that have Constitution, Wisdom, or both. In the top tier, we have druid, invoker, and shaman. All but a couple of classes have one or the other: avenger, barbarian, bard (!!!), and warden. For those of you counting, that’s seven out of eight of the classes in PHB2. 

If you were looking for more evidence of how much of a departure 4e is from 3.x, you have only to look at the half-orc: two physical traits up, Strength and Dex. 

I guess I have no excuse not to play a gnome bard. This time around, though, it’ll be far more interesting. No more goddamn talking to goddamn burrowing animals. And the bard? I could honestly see myself playing it, at least from a mechanical perspective. It’s viable as all get out and I want in on that shit. 

Shamans get a lot of at-wills to choose from. Six! This is on top of a couple of other at-wills. This is one class that took some flak over at Critical Hits. After browsing the level 1 abilities, it’s hard for me to see what the fuss is about. They seem as solid as any warlord, and if I’m in the mood to play a leader, they’d most certainly be in the running.

Someone pointed out that PHB2 classes a lot going on, and that seems pretty accurate. Barbarians have rage; sorcerers have their quirks; wardens shapeshift after a fashion, and druids more so. I’d say they’re definitely more mechanically ambitious than PHB1 classes at first glance. This is something worth discussing more in a separate post, so I’ll stop there.


I have to say that demi-humans are the hardest part of D&D for me to get excited about. At the risk of repeating myself, my “ideal” fantasy game would be all human, but with similar mechanical benefits due to background. That said, there’re one or two bits that are interesting.

Deva make a great control wizard. In particular, imagine one at level 5— Cloud of Daggers or Thunderwave operating at 5 squares? -5 to enemy saves? Intriguing.

The rest Goliaths are sick barbarians, half-orcs are asshole brutal rogues, and gnomes can make for some pretty nasty fae-pact warlocks (COINCIDENCE? YOU DECIDE). It’s fairly standard, though one interesting bit is that a great number of these races are quite viable when it comes to PHB1.

Maybe the only complaint I’d voice about races is the proliferation of top tier race/class combinations. The math is transparent enough that you can adjust difficulty quite easily, whether or not the game assumes these highly optimized classes. Still, it makes me sad that, for example, the eladrin are still a ways behind the other races in terms of top tier class options. 

I’ll have more data on races later, once I’ve updated my data to include these new races and classes.


Aaaand on that note I’m going to adjourn. Expect more commentary in a later post.