Posted by : David Guyll October 17, 2010

This re-imagining of the druid, or sentinel as it's called, somewhat hearkens back to the 3rd Edition druid in that it  can...well, heal, I guess. Skimming the Heroic tier class features there's no mention of wildshape, which combined with it's ability summon an animal spirit makes this class more like a hybrid of the druid and shaman. Sentinels get to pick from either bears or wolves, each granting a set of passive bonuses and the spirit you get to summon (obviously); bear sentinels deal a shitload of damage with clubs and staffs, and get a +2 to Athletics to boot. Wolf sentinels, on the other hand, can use scimitars, spears, daggers, sickles, get a +1 to hit with them, and gain a +2 to Heal.

As spirits, the Animal Companion doesn't impose some ridiculous XP tax when killed, or otherwise penalize you in the long term. Rather, you can use a minor action or wait until you stop for a breather. Both cost a healing surge, but if you wait til combat is over it reappears with all of its hit points instead of just your bloodied value. The spirits come with their own stat blocks, making them more like ranger animal compnaions than shaman spirit companions, and have auras that either cause enemies to grant combat advantage, or grant a defense bonus to allies. The last two features class, er, features, are Primal Guardian and Combined Attack. Primal Guardian lets you use your Constitution instead of Dexterity or Intelligence while in light-or-no armor. Combined attack is their encounter attack that lets both you and your companion attack with the same action.

It's not nearly enough like a druid from an older edition, but that's okay because I didn't like druids from older editions. This looks like a melee-oriented shaman, and that's also okay because I really like shamans. My only gripe is that like all Essentials classes its not flexible enough to carry my attention for long, and I prefer bear shamans for my bear-summoning primal leader goodness.

{ 6 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. Wow. I just checked out the article on the WotC site. These guys hit HARD! The Bear Druid hits for d12's with quarterstaff (or d10's with mace) and the animal companion does 1d12+Wis+Con. Ouch. That's pretty close to striker damage, even without the combined attack power. It looks like they get daily spells, too. No shapeshifting, at least not right up front. I'm cool with that, though.

    The normal 4e druid is a mixed bag - the melee controller concept is cool, but it doesn't seem to work especially well in execution. The essentials build definitely seems to hearken back to the druid of 2nd edition - a decent healer who could mix it up in melee.

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  2. It seems like this wont work out too well in normal 4.0. If I have one druid trasforming into a wolf and controling the battlefield and another healing and doing mass melee dmg as well as summoning a wolf? I may like this new druid better, but it dosnt match the old one.

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  3. It's technically not a druid, per se, but a sentinel. It might sound like nitpicking, but consider how you might justify a druid/shaman hybrid. Hybrid classes already let you break the mold somewhat, and they get along just fine.

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  4. While I can understand different build being very different from each other, this is the only class that completely changes the way the class works.

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  5. He's a different role, too. The standard 4e druid is a Controller, while the Sentinel Build is a Leader.

    One big drawback to the Sentinel is Low AC. They only can use Light Armor and Shields, and Wisdom and Constitution are their prime attributes. Thus, most will tend towards low dex/int, and thus have very low ACs. The bear-spirit can mitigate the low AC somewhat, but only if the spirit stays next to the sentinel.

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  6. Can't say that the low AC critique is accurate...they can base their AC mod off of Con.

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