Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Players Handbook 2 (Wizards of the Coast)

Mike Mearls called the PHB2 his best work to date, and since that comment did draw its share of flames from skeptics and the like, I feel that I need to say this: The man was right. There is no longer any getting around that. It was not empty marketing or hollow words without backup. While you shouldn’t exactly expect high literary prose (the writing gets a tad corny at times but that will have little influence on my verdict) this doesn’t matter. PHB2 is a rules book with a focus on classes. I want rules and classes that work before anything else. And Mearls, Wyatt and Crawford have pulled off what I thought would be impossible. They have managed to create 8 new classes or rather, 4 remakes (bard, druid, barbarian and sorcerer) and 4 totally new ones (shaman, invoker, avenger and warden) that are fairly balanced and at the same time look incredibly interesting to play (I <3 the druid already, after playing him for some levels, and the barbarian is also a lot of fun too, although it is probably the closest thing to a powercreep in there). Regarding this powercreep that normally is so common in everything that follows the original core, it really seems that WotC have managed to make classes about equal in power to the eight original ones. No mean feat considering just how hard it seems to be to create balanced, interesting classes with varied powers. I for one am really glad they decided to wait with some of these classes, until their grasp of the system had improved. It was definitely worth the wait. Sure, we all know that the CO-boards will find new ways to break the game, but in any game with many options, that will always be possible. What I mean when I say balanced and equal, is that on their own the classes look and feel right. The PHB2 also has 5 new races (gnome, deva, goliath, shifter and half-orc). Crunch-wise they are fine, and some, like the deva also hold some interesting aspects that should translate into some fun roleplaying. Personally, I am not sure I will use them all in my campaigns, as I was never a huge fan of goliaths and shifters. But to each his own, I am pretty sure there are plenty of people out there who wanted these races, just as some people actually play gnomes ;). All in all, this is simply a book that you have to have. Not only does it double the amount of classes at your disposal, but it gives some sweet options for the classes and races in the first PHB1. I know I have given other books this rating, but the problem with a rating system is that at one point, something better, something more necessary always comes along, and how do you reward that, rating-wise? In short, “If you haven’t bought it yet, you are a fool™”.
Rating:* * * * * *

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