The thing is ... I didn't have to wait with 3E. When we made the decision to convert to 3E (after a similar playtest campaign) the 3E PHB was enough to handle all of the characters we had playing at that point in time. I think that's legitimate to point out in a review, particularly for all those folks who are looking to convert their campaign, not start a new one.
If you compare the 3E and 4E PHB's class for class, race for race, 3E's going to come out ahead in terms of total character depth and complexity. But it should, because that's exactly what 4E is designed to fix.
Wizards made a design (and business) decision not to release certain races and classes in the core PHB for 4E. It was part of their overall design to limit character choices, because again, those choices (specifically the proliferation of prestige classes, and the crazy amounts of min/maxing that could be associated with them) were identified as part of the problem with 3E.
While we will see new classes as 4E rolls on (and hopefully new mechanics to go with them) I don't think there's a return to 3E's Vancian magic system, a significantly more extensive skill system, or truly diverse multiclassing anytime in the next three years.
This was all done on purpose; these are things that the 4E designers felt were deficient in 3E and there are plenty of folks who agree with them. I just don't see them going back on that stance in the game's first one or two years of release.
Honestly, I think the "more books = more options" argument in favor of 4E is a non-starter because of this. Yes, it's true you'll have more options, and some of the more glaring holes will be filled (e.g. bards, druids, barbarians).
A stronger argument, IMHO is to embrace the streamlining of characters, and point out how it can help a campaign, rather than trying to argue that 4E will rival 3E's options/complexity when it has enough books out which, IMHO, just isn't going to happen ... by design.
Submitted by Ken Newquist on Wed, 09/17/2008 - 12:18am