Posted by : David Guyll May 17, 2011

I really can not remember the last time I saw the vocal minority so united, this time against the Essentialized writeup of the cleric. To put it mildly, you got people wondering what is wrong with R&D and/or if anyone at Wizards of the Coast has ever played a cleric before. Some claim that the warlord was already a superior leader and that it "escaped" the writeup unscathed. I think the funniest complaints are a tie between Mearl's hatred of clerics, and variations of "my character(s) are forever ruined". Again, this is the cliffnotes of forum-rage.

So, what has actually changed?

Well, when you take cleric powers from Heroes of the Fallen Lands out of the equation, basically 30ish of around 250 features (or less than 20%) and prayers got nerfed. I can see where people are coming from: they had a character that could do something, and that something no longer operates as well as it did before, whether having the ranged reduced by a square or two, or having the damage scaled back a die. Fortunately (perhaps unfortunately for some), I do not think that the designers decided to purposely set out to fuck you over, or just fuck over clerics through some bizarre personal vendetta.

Is it possible that they did it because some cleric prayers were just too damned good? I have seen turn undead single-handedly destroy an encounter with a good number of undead (and/or elementals and demons, if you've got the feat for it), which make for pretty iconic encounters. Worse, the damage and range scale faster than normal (ie, not just at each tier or once per tier), making it an extremely potent ability that you didn't even lose anything to pick up. Not to mention that some of those nerfs simply switch off the friendly-fire mode of some prayers, making you only just as good at area-effect attacks as wizards.

Some people complain that they should have just ramped up everything else in order to compensate, which tells me that yeah, they did have it too good. Frankly it makes a lot more sense to pare one class down instead of giving everyone else a booster shot: less errata and less cries of power creep all-around, and I don't foresee any shortage of clerics in the future. Clerics have had tons of support since 4th Edition was released, and if their errata amounts to a small chunk of their powers--again, before we count the Essentials stuff that they can also use--then I'm alright with that.

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

  1. I think this issue goes back to pre-4th Ed, actually. In order to get people to actually PLAY Clerics, 3.X had to make them so good they often overshadowed other members of the party. When 4th came out, they continued the trend, but didn't realize that they didn't need to anymore, because the character balancing that 4E does compared to other editions does not require the Cleric to be better in order for anyone to want to play it.

    I've seen this nerf coming for a long time, and I had a feeling that Class Compendium was where they'd choose to do it. Leader roles is my FAVORITE to play, so this is pretty close to home for me-- but yes, Cleric was the best class in a lot of ways. The nerf didn't make it sub-standard; all it did was bring it in line with the rest of the classes.

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  2. Leader is also my favorite role, though I tend towards shamans and warlords (though I have played them all). I think that the concept behind leaders--being able to heal your allies, dole out bonuses, and still do fun stuff--is what makes them fun, and agree that clerics no longer have to be the best to appeal to anyone. I understand that it sucks to see something you liked reduced in efficacy, but I am glad that you (along with many more, I'm sure) aren't nerd-raging over it. :-)

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  3. I'm not sure that the issue is that they nerfed the cleric, but that they keep CHANGING THE RULES! Seriously! 3rd edition had errata, and one major "patch" when 3.5 came out, but aside from that, the rules stayed fairly consistent throughout the product's lifespan. 4e has seen so many changes I've lost count. It seems like the rules are constantly in a state of flux. And while I like Essentials, and don't buy into all the drama surrounding those products, it's obvious that the way WotC has incorporated Essentials into the product lineup was a big failure.

    To be honest, I don't really mind that the cleric took a bit of a nerf. What I do mind is constantly having to reconfigure my character to fit into the ever-changing rules paradigm. My group sometimes plays once a month - in that time, you're pretty much guaranteed that at least one person's character has had substantial changes. To make matters worse, most of the people in my group are still using Character-Builder Classic. But, not everyone in the group is using the CBC - one player is a DDi subscriber, and two of us have downloaded the unofficial update patches for CBC to add in Dark Sun and Essentials material. So, not everyone in the group is playing with the same ruleset for character creation, which results in a lot of confusion around the table. Feats, especially, are a problem, since the Essentials feats tend to be upgrades of older feats.

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  4. i agree with you paul. Today as i contemplated the end if the world i thought of how would i play an updated version of 4e without the need of a insider account or a computer for that matter. If only they would reprint all the books with the current errata.... if only.

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