4e classes are interesting because, by and large, they’re pretty distinctive. There comes a point in play when you know they’re working. The Barbarian rounds a corner and becomes a damage output machine. The Warden stands his ground against an impossible foe. The Warlock kills a lot of people, really horribly. It’s the point where you really feel like the class has paid off.
It’s a weird moment and hard to pin down. For some classes it seems to work right out the gate, while others seem to depend on a bit of maturation of feats and powers for things to gel. But it kind of fascinates me because it speaks directly to the idea of what the class is and what it’s supposed to feel like. It’s also kind of important because it reveals one of the big problems with playing a “stripped down” version of 4e. The fact that the essential elements of different classes can be found in different places can make it very hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution.
And, in fact, it even gets more complicated than that when you start drilling into specific classes. Some classes have very different “builds” within their possibilities. Rangers are probably the most obvious of these, but really almost any split stat class (especially Clerics) have some of this. Essentials muddies this picture, of course, but as long as WOTC keeps saying it’s not a replacement, I’ll work with that. Also, honestly, there are some classes that I’m not 100% sure about what they’re supposed to feel like.
This is probably a limitation on my part, rather than a bigger issue with the game. For example, as much as I _love_ the Battlemind mechanically, I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be like. The Warden and Swordmage have some very distinctive elements that distinguish them from a Paladin or Fighter, but I don’t actually get what makes a Battlemind a Battlemind. Yes, it’s Psionic typed, but that’s not an answer in and of itself.
Now, assuming one was thinking about doing a streamlined 4e (perish the thought!) it would be perfectly reasonable to just set aside things like the Battlemind as problem cases, but that sort of saps the fun out of the whole process.
So I put this out there – Can anyone make a pitch to me about what the essential nature of the Battlemind (or, really, any Psionic class) is? And similarly I ask, are there any other classes that people have trouble seeing the shape of?