One of the things I always look for, no matter the system, is to see if I can make a fighter to be feared. This shouldn't be news by now. Well, I believe the answer is yes, but can I make a fighter that is more fearful than one of the other classes? That's always the lurking question, isn't it? So, I'm going to jump the order and look at the fighter first.
With the Proficiency bonus anyone proficient with a given weapon has the same "to hit" bonus as a fighter of equal level. That's a bit unsettling, if considered in a vacuum. In truth, it is just a part of Bounded Accuracy, which basically means that a character's ability to emerge from a fight victorious isn't tied primarily to his ability to lay steel on an opponent once. Fighters get truly nasty starting at 5th level (unless I'm reading something wrong, chime in if I am). See, at 2nd level fighters get Action Surge, which they can use once per rest (until 17th level). This allows them to take an extra action on their turn. Then, at 5th level, they get an extra attack, when they take the Attack action. So, one action (Attack) and they get two attacks. I guess you see where I'm going with this. Use the Action Surge for an Attack action and make four attack rolls. Now, if we couple all this with the Champion Archetype, it gets even more nasty. See, at 3rd level a Champion scores a critical hit on a 19 or 20. Suppose a Champion with Great Weapon Fighting is involved. In a nutshell, he can roll 4 attacks in one round, with a 10% of doing a critical with each, rolling 4d6 if he does crit AND re-rolling any of those that come up a 1 or 2.
Ok, so that could seem a bit contrived, maybe borderline min-maxing, but I don't think so. It isn't twisting up some weird combination that has zero roleplaying verisimilitude. It's pretty much a natural progression along a path set upon during character generation.
Here's my take on the new fighter.
- He is proficient with all weapons, which is something of an advantage, but no class is really screwed concerning weapon choice, so it isn't a great big deal.
- He is the only class proficient with heavy armor (the mountain dwarf has such proficiency)
- Fighting Styles will make him marginally better than any other class in a narrowly-defined area
- The Action Surge/Extra Attack dynamic will be what really sets them apart as death-dealers
- Martial Archetypes will further distance them as Not-to-be-Trifled-With
One other thing: the cleric and wizard gain five Ability Score Improvements at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19. The rogue gains six, at 4, 8, 10, 12, 16, and 19. The fighter gains a whopping seven, at 4, 6, 8, 12,14, 16, and 19. So, when the other classes are getting their second, the fighter will be getting his third. This essentially means that any fighter can easily have his primary combat ability maxed out by 6th level, if his starting score is decent and the player concentrated the improvements there.
I think the new fighter should rightly be feared as he advances. I'm looking forward to seeing the other archetypes on offer in the upcoming PHB. It seems like it would be a simple matter to homebrew some as well.
By the way, the cover I posted earlier is not the one I went with. Here is the cover I ultimately made and went with: