One of the new mechanics from Player's Handbook 3 is powers that have skills as prerequisites. I think this is a great idea, since it helps encourage certain skill choices while also making them useful to a class that might not get much mileage out of it. Power Play: Martial takes this a step further, but perhaps in the wrong direction. The article provides a small assortment of exploits for each martial class and by small I mean like, three each...and not anywhere near the same level range. But hey, its a somewhat new concept, and you gotta start somewhere, right? At least they're kinda working with a theme: the fighter exploits require Endurance, and the warlord ones require Intimidate.
At a glance it seems like an okay thing to do. I mean, since they require skills to take they must be better, riiiiight? I guess, except that the fighter ones require...Endurace? Yeah...I'm sure there arent a lot of fighters out there with Endurance... It seems more like making slightly better powers at frankly no cost.
But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. How much better can they be? Lets compare.
One of the new fighter exploits is called brazen assault. Its a level 5 reliable daily that targets AC, deals 3[W] damage, lets you add your Str and Con modifier to damage, and pushes 2 squares. It also has an effect built into it that gives you resist 5 all in exchange for granting combat advantage, which lasts until either the end of the encounter or until you decide to end it yourself.
Lets compare this to, say, agonizing assault. It also targets AC, only deals 2[W] damage (plus Dex mod with a flail), but causes the daze and immobilize conditions (save ends). If you miss it only deals half damage without any conditions.
Okay...not too sure which is mechanically superior. One does quite a bit more damage than the other, and you can resist damage but are easier to hit. Mostly I'm curious as to how balanced that is. Is it worth it by itself, or does the extra damage factor into that? Agonizing assault lets you pin down a monster for at least a round, but against elites and solos the odds are against you. Not sure how much that is worth in terms of damage. I think I'd prefer to stick with brazen assault for the sheer damage output, but I can see how being able to lock down a monster (and strip it of most actions to boot) can be extremely useful.
I'm going to try another: threatening presence and phalanx assault. The former is a Strength vs. Will attack that deals 2[W] damage and prevents the target from marking your allies, and also removes a mark from an ally that is targeted by it. The latter requires a shield, deals the same damage, and also grants both an AC and Reflex bonus until the end of your next turn (Resourceful warlords grant this bonus even if they miss). So, same damage (though threatening presence is easier to hit with), different kickers.
Threatening presence seems awfully situational. I cant think of a lot of monsters that mark, and if they do mark odds are they've marked the defenders who are presently beating the shit out of them anyway. Phalanx assault seems like it would be more consistently useful, especially if you combine it with defenders on the front lines (ideally they would prevent monsters from hitting you, while benefiting from increased defenses). It could also help give softer allies a temporary boost if something tries to go after them.
Hmm. Not as bad as I thought. Brazen assault seemed a bit better, but threatening presence seemed par for the course (I'd consider it for my tiefling warlord). I'm not going to check and compare them all, but I think these are pretty cool for concepts and themes. Sure, some demand skills that you were already taking, but as long as they dont consistently blow other powers out of the water then I really dont give a shit.