Open mike: Simplest class for a new 4e player?

Back in the good old days of Third Edition, suggesting a class for a new player was easy. You just opened the PHB at Fighter. With no funky magicks and only a handful of skill points, all this character had to do was stand over there and hit anything which came close. If they had a good time after that all important first session you could suggest other classes and let his (or her) imagination go wild. But the mantra was there, if unspoken: always start with the Fighter.

Now we’re in 4e territory, and it’s not such a simple suggestion to make. All of the classes have a fair degree of complexity, and each one brings just a touch of something different to the table. Whether it’s the Fighter’s Combat Challenge ability or the Rogue’s Sneak Attack, each class brings something special and potentially befuddling to the table. And that’s even before we look at the Power choices. 4e has no “easy option” when it comes to classes.

In many ways that’s a Good Thing. It means every class is as strong as each other, and it becomes more a matter of personal choice and style that dictates which class any player selects. But it does mean that when the newbie asks “What class is best for a new player?” there’s no easy answer.

To an extent it largely depends on your existing party composition, but that’s the same across all editions. Some classes are well suited to doubling up and having more than one on a team. You can never have too many Fighters, for example.

My own gut feeling is that the Cleric is pretty newbie-friendly. It’s no longer the third leg class, has easy to understand mechanics and a pretty good selection of both melee and ranged attacks. Add in solid crunchy usability out of combat in the form of Healing and the knowledge-based Skills, and it’s a great showcase for the system as a whole.

But that’s just me, and what do I know.

Over to you, dear readers.

What do you think is the simplest 4e character class, and why?

Ladies and gentlemen, the mike is yours.

16 Comments on “Open mike: Simplest class for a new 4e player?”

  1. Ran a 4E game for some friends and I let their son play a fighter. He seemed to get into the Combat Challenge mechanic pretty easily; granted we explained it in “WoW” terms to him. Although I would agree the Cleric is a pretty fun class to hop into; handed that off to a buddy’s wife with a pre-gen to let her try the system out and she got into it with about 10 min of prep time.

    Really, it depends on the person. For those more inclined to Role-Play, I would probably shove them into a Warlord role. Decent battlefield presence combined with good social skills and a pretty participant in Skill Challenges.
    .-= Rev. Lazaro´s last blog ..Halloween fun idea for your gaming table! =-.

  2. The 4E fighter remains a very simple class to get into, as Rev. Lazaro said. If the person you’re introducing to the game doesn’t want to play a defender, though, the rogue is pretty straightforward (since they only need flanking to trigger their sneak attack damage) as is the ranger (since they tend to focus on one enemy at a time.) And of the three, I think the rogue the simplest of all, because it also makes sense that they be skilled at a lot of things.
    .-= Saragon´s last blog ..Negating Player Effort is a Bad Thing =-.

  3. A Ranger with a ranged build is a very simple class. Use your Quarry on the closest thing and shoot it. Because there aren’t a multitude of minor-action abilities, the player doesn’t have to worry about juggling actions–they just use Quarry when they need it. With a ranged build, the Ranger just has to worry about lining up the shots and doing lots of damage. (Most new players like high damage scores, as it makes them feel like they are successfully contributing.) Rangers possess enough HP and surges that if they manage to find themselves rushed by the enemy, they can take a couple hits without much worry.

    The one draw back to all of this is that some people just really want to swing a sword . . .
    .-= DeadGod´s last blog ..Halloween Adventure Idea =-.

  4. Ranger most certainly. With the right power selection it’s a very simple attack the BBEG class. They have very few tactical decisions to make and the parties life isn’t dependent on them doing the right thing. Finally they don’t have to know anything about the other player’s characters to fight well.

    The Fighter is no longer a n00b friendly class. Marks, AoO, Combat Challenges add a great deal of complexity to the class. Each attack has it’s own bonuses and triggers at different times. Add you can forget about them making good tactical decisions.

  5. Just to voice a little dissent about the ranger… IMO any class that has a marking type ability that is not automatic, especially one that is integral to their combat ability, is not exactly “simple” in the way I understand Greywulf to be asking. Rangers marking, the Warlocks curse, these are not /difficult/ concepts really but they are a complication and for people new to the game it’s just something else to forget, and to thus be less effective than they should be.

    If I were forced to pick a class for someone who had no idea what they were doing… I’d probably pick the rouge.

  6. My constant recommendation is the Warlock. While they sometimes require a little finesse, the big advantage they have is that their power progression is spelled out for you. Every level, you know exactly what power to take, and that’s not something every class can say for themselves.

    Outside of that, I find the Avenger really refreshing in the simple department. Choose a target, roll 2 dice to attack every round, kill it, choose something else. It doesn’t get much simpler then that.

  7. I’d go with Cleric or Warlord because they’re the only PHB1 classes that don’t have any kind of marking. But they’re also leaders, so if you have a newbie playing them who forgets to heal people, that can cause problems.

    With that in mind, I’d say Rogue. They might not get combat advantage and sneak attacks, but they can still have fun hitting things while they pick up on those.

  8. Archer Ranger all the way. Simple to understand attack options and if you make a tactical blunder you don’t jeopardize the entire group, in my case running out of arrows and forgetting to quarry.

  9. I disagree that the ranger would be so easy. It requires the player to keep moving; it’s an easy concept (you shoot from distance, you want to be far from danger) but means they have to concern about AoO, shifting, difficult terrain, etc.
    The Cleric also has Channel Divinity, and lots of bonuses and penalties for them to remember – and harder, to choose from. Add the healing power management, and it’s quite hard…

    I’d say Striker is the easiest role to play, and the easiest striker would be the Rageblood Barbarian. Easy to get into, can simply stand and attack (and charge), does a lot of damage without using a “marking power” or fulfilling any conditions (aka, combat advantage), and is tough (in terms).

  10. Strikers are definitely the easiest class of the four. I would say that the Ranger is probably the easiest of them, whether ranged or melee. With ranged, you stand in the corner and shoot a bunch. With melee, you walk right up to them and hack them a bunch. Hunter’s Quarry isn’t that hard to do, just tell them it does extra damage and they’ll be more than happy to use it.

  11. I introduced my sons (16 and 13) to 4E, one chose a ranger and the other plays a rogue (respectively) and the ranger in constantly forgetting to use his Hunter’s Quarry. Meanwhile, my son with the rogue hasn’t had a bit of difficulty. So, from my experience, I have to agree with Justaguy on this one.
    .-= Rook´s last blog ..Wondrous Lootz: The Art of Influence =-.

  12. I’ve found that while a warlock, even the multi-ability score Star Pact (But not the fiddly Vestige or the tactically minded Shadow Pacts), may look hard to play on paper, it really isn’t. It basically picks and curses a target, opens with high-damage encounters or dailies, and then repeats at-wills until the target drops. Not too difficult to get across, but with plenty of scope (Prime shot, choice of powers etc.) for raising the complexity.

  13. Regardless of what class ends up winning, I’d like to say that no matter what, creating the character with Character Builder will enhance said simplicity. Having all the math worked out for you on your custom power cards works wonders – it got my wife to play.

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