In an interview Mark Jacobs gave to Eurogamer last week, he said that one of Warhammer’s four cut classes would not be coming back. Now that we know that the Knight of the Blazing Sun and Blackguard are coming back, it seems either the Orc Choppa or the Dwarf Hammerer is getting axed and will be replaced with something else. The obvious and logical suggestion is that the Hammerer is losing out in favor of the Slayer.
This is where I confess that I have never been a big fan of the Slayers. Orange-mohawked Dwarfs seemed incredibly silly and tacky to me back in the old days of the Warhammer miniatures game. Now, for whatever reason, they don’t seem as abrasive, so I expect that I will have no objection whatever to them as long as the class is designed correctly.
What does that amount to? Well, it seems to me that Order lacks a pure melee DPS class; the White Lion has a lot of mojo tied up in a pet and the Witch hunter is a ranged/melee hybrid to a certain extent. There is no equivalent on the Order side to the Destruction Witch Elf or Marauder, both of which are pure melee right in your face. Order feels the lack, I think, and there is no dual-wield specialist on that faction either – the Slayer would fill both roles.
At the same time, I think Destruction lacks hybrid classes, generally, and certainly a hybrid ranged/melee DPS class like the Witch Hunter or Shadow Warrior. I will be a bit mad if the next Greenskin class isn’t an Orc of some kind, but I would like to see something with some flexibility in this regard – Destruction has an abundance of melee DPS already.
Both issues point out a flaw in WAR’s class design – Destruction classes tend to be more ‘pure’ representatives of their archetypes, while Order has more hybrids. There are exceptions in both cases, of course, but this probably makes some Order classes more difficult to play than various examples on the Destruction side. A player of a Shadow Warrior, for example, needs to be able to flip between stances efficiently, changing from mobility to melee to ranged. It’s an awesome and very effective class when played well, but the fact is that there will be plenty of suboptimal players, and those well-intentioned folks will be more effective playing a more straightforward class.
WAR’s classes, judged individually, are superbly designed – every one of them has a unique flavor and look, and is fun to play. But the classes need to be balanced between the factions as well, not just by power level, where I think they are balanced fairly well, but by the degree of challenge required to play them. The fussiest classes in the game – the Shadow Warrior, Witch Hunter and Warrior Priest – are all Order, and that’s a noticeable problem. The only comparable equivalent on the Destruction side is the Disciple of Khaine, who is the Warrior Priest’s opposing number, and plays very similarly. This may not be a significant factor in realm balance in the long term or even right now, but I think it’s noticable enough to have been felt.