Most helpful positive review
62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
An essential purchase for any players of D&D 3.5
on 29 March 2009
Many people were disappointed that the Bard, Barbarian, Druid and Sorcerer classes were not present in the 4th Edition Player's Handbook 1 released by Wizards of the Coast last year.
These essential classes to players of previous editions of D&D are now finally available, along with 4 new classes: Avenger, Invoker, Shaman and Warden.
The new classes are all well defined and structured, in the same way as the original 8 classes in PHB1.
There are 3 "Strikers": the Avenger a Divine fanatic who focuses on accuracy and pursuing a single enemy, the Barbarian a Primal warrior who uses his rages to grant him feral might, and the Sorcerer an Arcane caster who has a more wild form of magic than seen by the Wizard in PHB1.
There are 2 "Leaders": the Bard an Arcane combat-musician who is far improved from the 3.5 version of the class, and the Shaman a Primal Summoner who uses a spirit companion as the focus for the benefits for the Shaman's ally.
This time there are 2 "Controllers" rather than the 1 that PHB1 offered: the Druid a Primal nature guardian who utilises both ranged powers and beast form melee powers, and the Invoker a Divine conduit and direct link to their gods power who functions in a similar way to the Wizard.
Due to the increase in "Controllers" only 1 "Defender" is present in PHB2: the Warden a Primal force who relies on extreme physical toughness and the aid of the earth to protect allies in battle.
The new races are similarly enjoyable, many players glad to have the Gnome and Half-Orc back, but the Devas (reincarnated former servants of the gods), the Goliath (huge mountain dwelling folk), and the Shifters (two different varieties coming from Were-tigers and Were-wolves) are all enjoyable and match well with the focus on Primal power in this book.
Along with these new classes and races which form the bulk of the book, there are also Racial Paragon Paths for all the races from both PHB1 and PHB2, except for Half-Elves which instead are rewarded in the Feats section of the new book. There are also rules for Backgrounds, new Magic Items, new Rituals, new Epic Destinies and finally some alterations to how certain skills work in PHB1 (mainly stealth).
All in all, a great book. If you buy any product aside from the Core Three Books (Player's Handbook, Monster Manuel, Dungeon Master's Guide) I would strongly recommend it was this one.