Pre-Release Review of Heroes of Shadow by Wizards of the Coast - Page 2


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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by deinol View Post
    I don't get the comment about "kitchen sink". Isn't PHB 2 or PHB 3 "kitchen sink"? Maybe I'm used to a different definition, but I thought "kitchen sink" campaigns throw all available races/classes/options together. Hasn't that been 4E's philosophy from the beginning? That "everything is core" and player options shouldn't be limited?

    I'm fascinated by this semantic discussion. Do you understand "everything is core" to mean that someone running the game must-have or must-allow everything rather than someone running the game can rest assured that everything produced is balanced enough that they can allow it if they wish? Obviously, "kitchen sink" refers to a game that does allow everything but your post (and several below your post) seem to suggest that "kitchen sink" is a foregone conclusion.
    Last edited by Mark CMG; Wednesday, 6th April, 2011 at 10:25 PM.
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  • #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Truename View Post
    Agreed. There was this constant angry drumbeating of "This is an Essentials-only book" that really soured me on the review. Since that doesn't match what I've heard from other sources, it made me feel like I couldn't really trust the reviewer.

    I'm looking forward to hearing from someone who doesn't have so much anti-Essentials angst.
    Yes. And looking at the review again, it looks like there are dozens of new powers. If these really are restricted to Essentials classes, I'd really like to know. If not, then there appears to be a substantial amount of material for the 'traditional' classes.

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  • #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG View Post
    I'm fascinated by this semantic discussion. Do you understand "everything is core" to mean that someone running the game must-have or must-allow everything rather than someone running the game can rest assured that everything produced is balanced enough that they can allow it if they wish? Obviously, "kitchen sink" refers to a game that does allow everything but your post (and several below your post) seem to suggest that "kitchen sink" is a foregone conclusion.
    I totally agree with you.

    What I was trying to find out is: what makes a supplement any more "kitchen sink" than another supplement? WotC produces books that provide new options. How many of those options are included is up to the GM. How is this book more "kitchen sink" than every other book produced by WotC past PHB 1?

    As far as I can tell it is a supplement like any other.
    Last edited by deinol; Thursday, 7th April, 2011 at 03:53 AM.

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    I find it funny that many people were afraid the vampire class was too fragile and the one guy who has actually seen it fears it will be too powerful.

    The Vryloka powers sound awesome, especially bloodbond. Resurrection with a shadow twist.

    The comments on the blackguard made me curious about the rest of the blackguards features and powers.

    Binders sound interesting and I hope they come out with a vestige binder. It could summon some of the vestige based creatures from tome of magic I beleave it was?

    The Hexblade gloom pact will get to summon a seperate set of shadow creatures.

    I hope there will be other reviews soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post

    Binders sound interesting and I hope they come out with a vestige binder. It could summon some of the vestige based creatures from tome of magic I beleave it was?
    Yeah eagerly waiting to see full Binder

    I am wondering if Binder has a secondary stat like other warlocks - if so, what stat?
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    The first thing that indicates this being an Essentials book is the back cover, which states:
    Player&#8217s Option: Heroes of Shadow is aimed at players who are ready to reach beyond the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials books, Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of Forgotten Kingdoms.

    For use with these Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Products: Heroes of the Fallen Lands, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, Rules Compendium
    Also, the name itself was a dead giveaway, as a Traditional 4E book would have probably been called "Shadow Powers" rather than "Heroes of Shadow".

    But what really makes "Heroes of Shadow" an Essentials product is in the class design and structure - the four classes presented, as well as the class options like the new Death Domain, were designed using the format seen in the other "Heroes of..." books: melee classes were given a limited number of power options, while casters had their choice from a plethora of spell-like powers.

    The Essentials design structure differs from the Traditional 4E character "chassis" by limiting the actions of melee characters and reducing the number and choices of their daily attack powers. For example, by level 10, the Executioner being pure melee has no daily attack powers at all; the Blackguard as a melee/caster mix has two daily attack powers, while the Vampire and Binder have the three dailies that a Traditional 4E character would have. The Assassin (Executioner) has a daily-like power, in that they can prepare three vials of poison from a short list of four poisons they have learned by 10th level.

    The other Essentials design concept is to limit choices when creating a character to make the process faster and more streamlined for new D&D 4E players. As an example, when creating a 10th Level Vampire and selecting powers, a player is allowed to make only one choice: at Level 2, they can choose between two encounter utilities - that is all the choices on powers that a Vampire is given. Other classes have similar limitations, being able to make selections between 2-3 powers at certain Levels.

    While it is true that the Dev Team has stated that Traditional 4E characters may use feats and powers from Essentials interchangeably, that fact does not transform this book into Traditional 4E content. This book has a lot of great material in it, and my grade card showed that I respected and even liked most of the content - as a reviewer, I was able to take a step back and looked at it objectively. But it was still designed under Essentials parameters and labeled on its back cover as Essentials -which makes it an Essentials source book.
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  • #17
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    My verdict of the review is: more review, less propaganda next time. Even if I were anti-essentials, I would much rather have had a concrete count of how much material is usable in a pressentials* game than a "wizards are ruining 4e with essentials" rant.

    *pre-essentials. Or is there some other word for it?

  • #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neuroglyph View Post
    The first thing that indicates this being an Essentials book is the back cover, which states . . . <snip>.
    I don't have a problem with your pointing out that the class design for new classes is 'essentials' rather than 'traditional'.

    I take issue with statements like

    "For those of us who choose not to play a pure Essentials campaign . . . this book offers nothing but a few pages of fluff material about the Shadowfell, and very little else."

    And:

    "During the Product Preview Seminar at GenCon 2010, Heroes of Shadow was promised as an option’s book for “Core players” after the ten Essentials products have been published over the last quarter of 2010, and this clearly is not the case."

    Neither statement appears to be true given that feats, powers and items are all available for a non-essentials game. Furthermore, I have a sneaking suspicion that at least some and possibly most of the paragon paths and epic destinies are available to non-essential classes as well.

    In short, it seems this book provides a plethora of options for 'traditional' players. And this seems to jive quite well with what was stated at the product seminar.

    The fact that the new classes follow the essentials design philosophy does not make every other piece of material in the book 'essentialized' and unusable by traditional campaigns. The same can be said of the text on the back of the book, which could just as easily be put on the back of Players Handbook 3 (looking for options beyond the essentials books? Look no further)

    I do realize you liked the book and gave it a good review. However, I was given the distinct impression from the review that there was almost nothing in the book that was usable by someone not playing essentials classes. That strikes me as very misleading. To be honest, it doesn't seem much different than what we saw with the other Power books you mention, where new builds (albeit in traditional format) were presented; the new powers were flavored to work with the new builds; but almost everything was available for other builds. I don't really see much different in this book from what you've described.

    I'm sure you didn't intend to be misleading. And I don't mean to come across as accusatory. But I do use these sorts of reviews in assessing my purchase choices, and I found myself confused about what was in the book (e.g., from the review it appeared that feats, powers etc. weren't available to non-essentials classes).

    Anyway. I do appreciate the review. Even if I have a fairly major quibble.

    Cheers,
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    Last edited by lkj; Thursday, 7th April, 2011 at 09:46 AM.

  • #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
    I find it funny that many people were afraid the vampire class was too fragile and the one guy who has actually seen it fears it will be too powerful.
    ...
    And didn't mention that 2 HS are a big disadvantage...

    Quote Originally Posted by lkj View Post
    Yes. And looking at the review again, it looks like there are dozens of new powers. If these really are restricted to Essentials classes, I'd really like to know. If not, then there appears to be a substantial amount of material for the 'traditional' classes.

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    Related questions:
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    Player's Option: Heroes of Shadow is aimed at players who are ready to reach beyond the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials books, Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of Forgotten Kingdoms.

    For use with these Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Products: Heroes of the Fallen Lands, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, Rules Compendium
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  • #20
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    Is there anything that limits the Vryloka or Shade races to Essentials classes? I can't imagine that there is.

    And when it comes to new classes, it sounds like the author feels that "no dailies or limited dailies" is what makes a class "Essentialized." From that definition, it sounds like the Executioner is an Essentials class, the Blackguard is a semi-Essentials class, and the Vampire and Binder are full-on traditional classes.

    So, the book presents two classes for non-Essentials players, two new races (and one old race) for non-Essentials players, plus the fluff and feats for non-Essentials players, and a bunch of powers for certain non-Essentials classes like the Wizard, Cleric and Warlock. We don't know yet how flexible the paragon paths and epic destinies are for non-Essentials classes, but I'm guessing that some of them will be fine.

    Which sounds to me like the book is pretty much as the author mentioned WotC saying it would be at GenCon - plenty of material for non-Essentials players, and plenty of material for Essentials-only or "kitchen sink" players.

    I'm really confused by that part of this review. Is it really Essentials because the back cover refers to the Essentials books rather than the PHBs? If there are tons of options for players who only have the PHBs, this seems like a good hybrid book to me.

    I guess I lose at Edition Wars, because I just don't understand the controversy.
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