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- Anything You Can Build, Features Can Do Better
This article started out as a shoutout to the skirmishing warlord build, but I'll get to that in a bit. Or awhile. We'll see.
I remember a few years back when 4th Edition was launched that people were bitching that there was only one class that could really get anything out of bows (ranger). People would bring up how in the past that, well...fighters I guess, could also reliably use bows if you went ass-backwards and ramped up Dex instead of Strength, toured around in light armor, and burned all your feats on ranged shit. In other words, rangers used bows, and fighters could be better at them if you optimized properly. Otherwise? Fuck bows.
Oh, wait, artificers could also get some mileage out of a souped-up crossbow, which is why I find that artificer feat that lets you use a crossbow an an implement somewhat humorous. There are likely more in the mix, but 3E had around 60 classes and I dont remember them all. @_@
Even after about a bajillion books and dragon articles, the ranger is still the class I see people flocking to most for their everyday ranged needs. Bards got a ranged weapon build in Arcane Power, and the seeker playtest reveals a controller type that uses a bow and spirits in order to wreak AoE havoc and/or to get more ranged rerolls than a double-elf. What does this have to do with how it worked and the past and now?
Wizards has intelligently designed classes with a theme in mind and rolled with it, rather than giving you the illusion of flexibility that isnt so much an illusion at all but a trap. Classes get a solid concept that works without having to fiddle with optimization, aaand almost everyone is happier. For example, fighters are melee guys, period. Thats their deal. They layer themselves in heavy metal, pick up more metal, and clobber things with it. Recent builds have allowed fighters to wear slightly less metal and wield more of it, but in the end the concept is the same: melee warrior that relies on personal skill alone to kill monsters and protect her allies.
Want to use a ranged weapon? Pick a fucking class that uses a ranged weapon and quit bitching. I dont care how it "worked" in the past, it didnt work elegantly and certainly wasnt the ideal way to do it. You might gripe out some measure of lost flexibility, but frankly I'd rather have a class that sets out to achieve its mission statement then end up completely fucked by a player trying to do something that the class was clearly not intended to do. Kind of like all my failed attempts at making a melee-oriented wizard that relied on transmutation and abjuration magic. >_>
Now for the second part!
The skirmishing/archer/bowlord continues the aforementioned trend by delivering unto you the Archer Warlord class feature, which gives you proficiency with all military ranged weapons and lets you use Strength instead of Dex when making ranged basic attacks. Sweet fucking awesome. On the offside you lose proficiency with chainmail and shields, but its not like you were strapping a shield to your ass anyway. Cause, you know...bow. Takes two hands. Another option is Skirmishing Presence, which is a kind of Commanding Presence that lets allies shift before or after using an action point to make an attack. Thats also really cool.
This is all well and good, but without the proper exploits to back it up its not going to mean shit.
- Paint the bull's eye lets you essentially fire a tracer arrow, granting allies an attack bonus against the monster. Kind of like lance of faith by another name...and with an arrow.
- Risky shot lets you add your Int or Wis mod to the damage roll, but you grant combat advantage. Very nice.
- Race the arrow is an encounter attack that lets you make an attack and have an ally charge the same target. If you have Skirmishing Presence (and why the fuck wouldnt you?) they get an attack and damage bonus.
- Inspiring shot is another encounter attack lets you deal a hefty chunk of damage in addition to gaining a bonus to all your healing powers for the rest of the encounter. It doesnt get any kickers from Skirmishing Presence, but damn that sounds useful.