Continued from an earlier post…
From the Player’s Handbook 2, we identified several classes that had more character to them than the previous book, though most of the classes would have required extensive overhauls to make them work more effectively in their respective roles (an otherwise common theme): the invoker, shaman, sorcerer, and warden.
The invoker is one of the most effective controller classes, and probably represents the single best attempt to create a magical controller. We identified several other classes that were better controllers hands-down, most of them being classes with a different primary role. The invoker can choose from single- and multi-target effects.
In addition to this most basic flexibility, the invoker can use heavy armor and can actually specialize in an energy type, or choose from several effective debuffs, mostly fear effects. They are in most ways superior to the standard arcanist (or any of its even less effective spin-off Essentials classes). Controllers just don’t work.
The shaman, though a deeply flawed class, has at its core a far more effective familiar than the sorcerer or wizard can ever accomplish. The consensus here was that the shaman needed a dramatic overhaul, but at its core it had the most effective magical companion / familiar concept of any class (and it still needs work, at that).
For the first time maybe ever, the sorcerer can stand on its own two feet, having unique and interesting mechanics to its name. The Fourth Edition sorcerer incorporates many concepts from the Third Edition Dragonfire Adept class, and also stands effectively as the Essentials Elementalist (albeit a bit overpowered).
The storm sorcerer is also a fairly effective class, though basically just another Elementalist with a focus on thunder and lightning effects.
We found that though its defender powers fell flat, the warden was still one of the effective defender classes, given its ability to self-heal and its already massive hit point and healing surge totals. We figured that if any class needed a straightforward concept, the warden did – and that what it needed most was threatening reach.
Most of the other classes lacked a strong identity. The bard had little to offer, and multi-classing is not a system that needs to be taken advantage of. The avenger has a single mechanic to its name, the oath of enmity, which might as well replace Combat Advantage (and will, in Fifth Edition). The Essentials Berserker is a better barbarian.
The druid is once again, torn between two worlds, and it generally fails in all regards. Somewhere in there are probably two or three class concepts, but it’s a mess.