Origins - Swordmage is full of win
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  1. #1

    Origins - Swordmage is full of win

    I just got back from Origins and I got to play the Swordmage in some of the 4e scenarioes they had set up for the convention. The modules I played in were written by Mearls, as some of you already know, so that was pretty fun too: basically, I got to play a Mearls module for 6$ rather than the 20$ I would have probably paid at my FLGS. Each scenario was only 4 hours, but I digress.

    Having played the Swordmage, I have to say that I totally love that class. I was worried at the beginning of 4e when people started to break down all of the possible character classes into distinct roles. I was worried that new classes would be "stuck" being a Defender, Controller, Striker, or Leader.

    Not so. To me, the Swordmage is truly a "blended" class, being both parts Defender and Controller. The Swordmage can certainly tank and tank well. But he also has a number of mass damage effects, area effect attacks, and teleportation abilities that make him a Controller as well. If I had to pick, I'd say that the Swordmage is more of a Defender than anything else, but had more than enough stuff to make him completely different than, say, the fighter.

    The Swordmage's marking ability rocks. Not only do you mark your opponent, but you can prevent your opponent from damaging other people. This was important in the scenarios we played, because I'd mark an opponent, and he would run off somewhere...but become totally impotent because I could prevent him from damaging other people.

    Another favorite ability of mine was a teleportation effect that allowed the Swordmage to switch places with an ally on the field of battle. More than once, when someone was getting low on hit points, or facing too many opponents, the Swordmage was able to switch places with that person and move them to a place of safety. One of my very favorite moments was when I switched places with the warlock who was in a small room, fighting someone he had no business fighting. After the warlock and his opponent traded blows for a while, the Swordmage teleported the warlock to safety and much to the surprise of the opponent, replaced the warlock with a barely damaged Swordmage. My Swordmage looked the warlock's opponent right in the eye with a wicked gleam. "Now, it's just you and me...."

    I also loved the Swordmage's daily lightning ability - you can hit three opponents with lightning damage. If you hit, they take ongoing damage. In that scenario, we were getting hit with so many ongoing damage effects. The DM kept handing us cards reminding us that we were "part of Team Fire now - you take 5 damage a round", "you're part of Team Poison new - you take 5 damage a round". So - it was very gratifying to be able to hand a card to the DM and say, "welcome to Team Lightning, buddy".

    Finally, the other Daily the Swordmage had, which was a highly damaging immediate interrupt effect was uber. Basically, I got to make a highly damaging strike as an immediate interrupt, but not lose any of my other actions in that round. Completely sweet.

    All of this said - I'm not dogging the other classes, nor do I think that the Swordmage is clearly above the other classes. I think he's very well balanced with the other offerings. But my main point was that the Swordmage was very fun to play, and could continually change up tactics at the table.

  2. #2
    Sounds great.

    I'm thinking that a good strategy with the swordmage is to intentionally mark people who cannot possibly attack you that round. Then the bad guys you're actually fighting have to attack you and your high armor class, while at least one bad guy you're NOT fighting is unable to deal meaningful damage.

  3. #3
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    A gish that can actually contribute to the party *and* is fun to play?

    This I have to see to believe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wormwood View Post
    A gish that can actually contribute to the party *and* is fun to play?

    This I have to see to believe.
    Heck, I think 4E can handle this pretty well -- unlike previous editions, he isn't simply pulling powers from the fighter and mage lists inefficiently. The swordmage just has a new full list of powers. Lots easier to balance I think.

    And I liked my Eldritch Knight! Wasn't too bad.

    I'm a little worried he's too much between defender and controller, although paladin is defender/leader, and fighter is defender/striker, so, as long as he's doing less damage than the fighter, and I'm sure he can't heal. Sides, we've barely seen the powers yet, but, I'm hoping for a slow power creep this edition.

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    Yep, my only concern with new classes is the power creep factor.

    I guarantee that many people will see the Swordmage as grossly overpowered right after it comes out. Whether or not it'll turn out to be true will remain to be seen. (See also: 3e Monk Debates)

    -O

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    I have to say I am really looking forward to this and the other new classes that wizards has in the pipeline. Since I am the one running the game, this will most likely be the class I use when I finally get to play.

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    I hope this class makes it into the PHB2, sounds really cool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toben the Many View Post
    The Swordmage's marking ability rocks. Not only do you mark your opponent, but you can prevent your opponent from damaging other people. This was important in the scenarios we played, because I'd mark an opponent, and he would run off somewhere...but become totally impotent because I could prevent him from damaging other people.
    As described this doesn't make much sense to me, and it seems that it would completely destroy a whole range of scenarios.

    Coupled with other things you've described, it sounds like mondo power creep - how is this character not strictly better than a standard wizard - or better than a standard fighter?

    I'm not particularly noted for reactionary responses, but Ugh!

  9. #9
    Grossly overpowered? Nah, that was not my impression. The Swordmage was tremendously fun to play because he was what I always wanted out of the only fighter/magic-user...a guy who can fight pretty well but can do some cool "magicy" things. A Jedi basically.

    So the Swordmage's fluff is great. His attacks are not only martial but magical in nature. He's doing stuff like creating sonic whiplash with his sword and whatnot, and sending out arcs of electricity from his hilt. That said, what his powers actually do mechanically are pretty balanced with the rest of the other classes from what I can see.

    The broken-ness in 4e seems to come from character combinations, as far as I can tell. For example: the wizard places a Cloud of Daggers on an opponent fighting the Fighter, who's marked him. If the opponent remains in the square with Cloud of Daggers, he takes damages. If he shifts out of that square, the fighter's Combat Challenge tags him with an OA. Or, in the case of the Fighter + Swordmage...the Fighter stays up front, takes a lot of damage, deals a lot of damage, and then the Swordmage uses his power to switch places with the Fighter, replacing the front line with a fresh Defender.

    Those are the kinds of things that will get broken in 4e.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadeydm View Post
    I hope this class makes it into the PHB2, sounds really cool.
    From what I was told, the Swordmage will be in the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. So, it'll be out sooner than the PHB II.

    Quote Originally Posted by Plane Sailing View Post
    As described this doesn't make much sense to me, and it seems that it would completely destroy a whole range of scenarios.

    Coupled with other things you've described, it sounds like mondo power creep - how is this character not strictly better than a standard wizard - or better than a standard fighter?

    I'm not particularly noted for reactionary responses, but Ugh!
    The Swordmage's marking ability is awesome, but not any more awesome than the Fighter's or Paladin's. When the Fighter marks you - you're screwed. If you attack anyone else besides the Fighter, he gets a free attack on you. If you try to shift out of the way? The Fighter still gets to attack you. With the Paladin, if you pick another target, he does damage to you. The Swordmage, on the other hand prevents damage that you do to someone else. So, I think it's balanced with the other Defenders.

    The big thing about being a fighter is that damage is guaranteed. Reaping Strike, Comeback Strike, Brute Strike...those abilities are guaranteed damage. The Swordmage doesn't have stuff like that. At best, his Daily abilities do half damage on a miss. So he's not quite as reliable as the Fighter. But in exchange, he gets a bit more variety.

    In terms of the Wizard vs. the Swordmage...well there's not even a comparison. Wizards have the biggest AoE spells in the game. And that's as it should be. Also, the Wizard can switch out powers with his spellbook - the Swordmage cannot. Finally, the Wizard has all of those cool utility thingys like Mage Hand, Light, and Rituals. Swordmage doesn't have those.

    So what I'm saying is, the Swordmage can do a little Fighter, a little Wizard, but doesn't overshadow those other classes. Nor is the Swordmage weaker for it by any means.
    Last edited by Toben the Many; Tuesday, 1st July, 2008 at 05:36 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  10. #10
    Agree with PS's concerns. Preventing a marked foe from damaging others is MUCH better than 5-15 radiant damage or having the Chance of hitting a foe when it shifts or aattcks another.

    And I am curious about the "Now, it's just you and me...." teleport scenario, especially since teleports are supposed to require line of sight.

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