Have Battlerager Fighters Been Fixed?

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 3, 2009

Power gamers worldwide wept after reading the latest updates from Wizards of the Coast. The Battlerager Fighter is severely weakened and the followers of Tempus have had their legs cut out from under them. Generally I don’t like to just rehash an article posted by Wizards, but I think this one requires some attention and discussion.

Yesterday in Andy Collins’ article News – July Update Letter (July 2, 2009) he announced the July 2009 Updates (PDF) which include changes to the following areas of the PHB, Martial Powers and Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide.

  • Rain of Blows (Fighter, Encounter 3rd level)
  • Channel Divinity: Righteous Brand of Tempus (feat)
  • Battlerager Vigor (Fighter, class feature)
  • Dual Strike (Fighter, At-will 1st level)
  • Guileful Switch (Warlord, Utility/Encounter 6th level)
  • Dwarf Stoneblood (feat)
  • Improved Vigor (feat)

“These updates modify key portions of the game that weren’t working as we intended,” explains Collins. Don’t worry if your favourite character has just been gimped because Collins assures us that “character builds relying on these options remain playable and fun; they just aren’t abusive or eclipsing other build options.” I guess we’ll find out for sure the next time we play PCs affected by these revisions.

Some of these feats and powers are well known to me (thanks to my recent realization that The Most Powerful Fighter is a Battlerager Fighter). A few of the others I haven’t read before this update was released. So for those who might not immediately recognize what’s changed I’ve collected the high points below along with a little bit of personal commentary.

Rain of Blows (Fighter, Encounter 3rd level)

Previously you made your first attack and if you hit you got to make a secondary attack. Now you attack twice regardless of the success or failure of the first attack. However, you now have the opportunity to make a third attack if you have a high enough Dex. The new description also does just 1[W] damage without Str. So on average you’re going to do less damage since you’re rolling all of it and not relying on your incredible Str at all.

Channel Divinity: Righteous Brand of Tempus (feat)

Previously when you used this encounter power you’d score an automatic crit if you hit before the end of your next turn. Now if you hit after using this power you treat it like a crit by adding appropriate extra dice but neither the extra dice, nor the weapon damage is maximized unless you actually roll a crit in which case everything including the extra crit dice are maximized. Still a great feat, but as above it will on average do less overall damage since you’re still rolling all weapon dice.

Battlerager Vigor (Fighter, class feature)

The description of this class feature has been reworded to make it clearer. New to the description is that temp hp are gained if you miss everything when using an Invigorating attack power.

Dual Strike (Fighter, At-will 1st level)

Previously you needed to use both attacks on a single target. Now you must split the attacks between two different targets. Not a significant change, but it does add versatility.

Guileful Switch (Warlord, Utility/Encounter 6th level)

The only change with this power is that it used to be a minor action and now it’s a free action. Good call, Wizards.

Dwarf Stoneblood (feat)

Previously you added 1/2 your Con modifier to your temp hp. Now you get a flat +2; at 11th level this increases to +4; and at 21st level this increases to +6. It is also clearly designated as a feat bonus. So a Dwarf with an insanely high Con won’t be swimming in temp hp any more, more like treading water.

Improved Vigor (feat)

The additional +1 temp hp continues to be gained when using an Invigorating attack power, but this no longer applies to any temp hp gained from Battlerager Vigor. It is also clearly designated as a feat bonus. This change will limit the likely number of temp hp a Battlerager will get in any given round.

Read the explanations Wizards of the Coast provides for these updates in the PDFs for each affected book.

What do you think? Were these changes necessary? If your PC is going to be affected by these changes are you still interested in playing him or will you ask the DM if you can create a new character?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike July 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I was surprised not to see two other additions to the errata:

1. I’d have liked to see Hospitaler’s Blessing, a power that drastically reduces the effectiveness of solo creatures, turned into a “once per turn” power. We’ve houseruled it in my game and its still very effective this way. As an always-going ability, it completely negates the damage done by creatures who hit more than one target.

2. I hear lots of people describing Orb wizards as too powerful. Orb wizards with sleep seem particularly over-effective.
.-= Mike´s last blog ..DM Tips: June 2009 Archive =-.

2 Tim July 3, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Thank goodness for the battlerager fix. The Dwarf in our party was nigh-indestructable. It unbalanced everything! He would be entertaining a pile of creatures while the rest of the party had the regular encounter, just to keep things decent.

3 Tom July 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

FYI on RoBs: It used to be 2 attacks, followed by a secondary for each, assuming they hit. That meant 2-4 attacks, with str bonus. Now it’s 3, assuming you meet the weapon requirment, without str bonus.

On BRV, it wasn’t made clearer, it was changed. The temp HPs no longer stack at all, and no temps when monsters hit you.

4 wickedmurph July 3, 2009 at 4:20 pm

I’m just starting an new campaign, and have both a warpriest of Tempus and a battlerager fighter in the party. We haven’t started yet, so I won’t be able to compare, but I’m a little confused about one thing on the Righteous Rage of Tempus power.

I thought with Crits, you always rolled the extra dice, and that they were never maximized. The power is still quite good, it just is less good at low levels, and about the same or better once you have magical weapons.
.-= wickedmurph´s last blog ..Incorporating High Level NPC’s =-.

5 njharman July 3, 2009 at 4:23 pm

If you and your friends are having fun with the game as you play it why would you listen to anything WotC had to say. Esp if it’s gonna make you stop playing your character. They’re just a company, they don’t control you, they shouldn’t control how you enjoy the game.

It’s not like 4ed is an MMORPG where we all have to accept WotC nerfing our classes.
.-= njharman´s last blog ..Pliosaur is Science Talk for Swims Well has Big Teeth =-.

6 Shades July 3, 2009 at 10:39 pm

These are good changes for the most part. In particular we’ve talked abot how broken the battlerager is on this board in the past.

The one thing they’ve missed that really needs to be adjusted is this:

Grasp of the Grave
Skeletal hands burst from the earth and ghostly claws swirl from the air to snatch at your foes.

Daily Arcane, Implement, Necrotic, Zone
Standard Action Area burst 2 within 20 squares

Target: Each enemy in burst

Attack: Intelligence vs. Reflex

Hit: 1d10 + Intelligence modifier necrotic damage, and the target is dazed until the end of your next turn.

Miss: 1d10 + Intelligence modifier necrotic damage.

Effect: The burst creates a zone that lasts until the end of the encounter. An enemy that enters the zone or that starts its turn in the zone takes 5 necrotic damage and is dazed until the end of your next turn.

It’s a Wizard level 5 daily from Dragon #372 and it is ridiculously powerful. It frustrates our DM no end (I’m thinking about pre-emptively banning it in my Eberron game). This literally breaks encounters. Daze is such a powerful condition that as soon as it goes down, otherwise challenging encounters merely become a contest to see who can slide more badguys into the zone.

To top it off, outside a few random powers, there’s no way to get rid of it. It doesn’t need to be sustained and it survives the death of the wizard.

At a bare minimum it needs a sustain minor added onto it, if not more.

7 Ameron July 4, 2009 at 12:34 pm

@Mike
I’m not familiar with Hospitaler’s Blessing but it sounds like you’ve come up with a good solution that keeps the balance. As for Orb Wizards, I’m going to agree with you there. The Wizard in my game is incredibly powerful. Thanks for the comment.

@Tim
I think those playing Battleragers will begrudge the fix, while everyone playing something else along with DMs everywhere will agree that changes were necessary.

@Tom
Was RoB really 2 attacks followed by 2 more attacks? Wow. This was one of those powers I wasn’t really familiar with. If that’s the case then I can see why Wizards amended the power. That’s just crazy. Thanks for clearing that up.

As for BRV I wasn’t sure if the temp hit points stacked any more. The new wording says “… plus any temporary hit points normally granted by the power.” Would that not include those provided by the Invigorating powers? I think you’re right, but I just wasn’t sure how to read that part.

@wickedmurph
You are correct; the extra dice (granted from magical weapons) are always rolled on a crit and are not maximized. The new version of this power gives you a little something extra (maximized extra dice) if you actually roll a crit.

@njharman
Excellent point. As with any game the rules are presented as a starting point and then it’s up to the players to use or discard the ones they want to use. My group relies on the character builder so we’re more inclined to just accept WotC’s changes since they’re eventually going to be incorporated into Character Builder updates. I don’t think there are too many Battlerager Fighters out there that will forsake their PC because of these changes, but I’d be very interested to hear from anyone considering it.

@Shades
I’ve never read this power before now but it does seem remarkably powerful. I think your suggestion to make it a sustain, minor will make it a little bit more balanced.

8 Wyatt July 4, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Rain of Blows was crying out for help indeed.

I haven’t met most of these problems (though I have heard about them since Gleemax is always crying about it) because I don’t usually allow material from anything other than stuff I make (Spirits of Eden) and the game core. I don’t physically own any books outside the first set of PHB/DMG/MM and Adventurer’s Vault, so I don’t feel obligated to allow material from any other source.

I will allow some things from newer books by petition of player (familiars for example, or a few powers), but ultimately I designed a campaign setting and its options so I could play the game I want, as I learned from D&D 3.5 that I don’t really enjoy a constantly mutating game unless I’m the one holding the surgical instruments.
.-= Wyatt´s last blog ..Spirits of Eden Gets…Errata? =-.

9 Scott July 5, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Yeah, Rain of Blows was ridiculously good… so much so that many optimized Barbarian and even Ranger builds multiclassed into fighter just for that power.

The new version is still pretty good for a fighter power, but no longer better than strikers’ powers.

And BRV was just broken… especially in the hands of a dwarf.

I’m surprised that Orb of Imposition wasn’t clarified, though. The obvious fix is to apply the penalty to only a single save — just like the other implement mastery abilities apply to only a single roll. Then the orb wizard gets a free “power lasts an extra round,” basically, instead of “power lasts forever.”

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