Warning: I really hate the Warder, and I want to be clear it is all for reasons of personal preferences and taste, I've tried to be objective but I just can't. The warder may in fact not be an objectively bad class, and some people might like it, but I can't see it. So here is a subjective review of the warder which I hope remains informative if not as constructive as I normally try to style my reviews.
The Warder - This is the sort of class which combines all the things I like least into one little package and feels to me like it is closer to D&D 4th edition's design philosophy than Pathfinder's. I was expecting something exciting and dynamic, similar to Dreamscarred's previous armor based class the Aegis from Ultimate Psionics, instead we get the Warder. What made the Aegis work was, not only the huge list of options you have to choose from with the aegis which were phenomenal, but also your ability to adapt making the aegis fun and relevant in almost any situation. The warder sadly is as far from that as possible being static, dull and very narrowly focused.
Thematically this class is the worst, there is nothing here, it is just a meat shield in a can. I just can't imagine the epic tale of the kid who grew up to be a legendary Warder after watching her local hero take blow after blow to the face for a wizard and say "Oh man I want to be that guy, I'm going to eat, breath and live armor from now on so I can learn to be like that guy!" and mechanically it isn't any better. Let me just go down the list of things, things you might love, but I hate about the warder:
- No options, ever ability is fixed.
- Video game like taunt mechanics.
- Dull technique recovery mechanic.
- Too many passive abilities.
- X per day mechanics.
- Very little utility outside of defense and taunt.
I really dislike that class's taunt ability armiger's marks, just becomes another by the numbers X per day ability to be spent on various things like monk's Ki or a number of other class mechanics. This is very rarely a good class mechanic and it has been done to death so I'm really sad to see it here in Path of War. Worse none of the warder specific feats do anything to really improve this situation, which is the first time I've been unhappy with some of the feats in path of war.
Other Content - The same non-warder specific feats that were in previous Path of War PDFs are here again and they are still good with the and the feats to allow non martial classes to pick up a few techniques standing out as truly excellent and should be, along with the amateur gunslinger feats that standard for all such feats.
The mechanics governing the martial abilities are much the same as in their D&D inspiration the 3.5 Tome of Battle. If you are familiar with them you should know what to expect. The fighting styles included in this PDF include 3 styles we've previously seen Broken Blade a monk like unarmed style, Golden Lion a rally/team buff focused style and oddly for the warder Primal Fury a charge and bull rushed focused set. New to this PDF is only one style the Iron Tortoise which combines a wide array of taunt powers with captain america like shield techniques for the player who wants to double down on tanking. It is something of a pity iron tortoise includes taunt mechanics because otherwise it is a pretty decent shield based fighting style, though I have to say the high level techniques are not quiet as good as the ones introduced with the Warlord and seem like one or two might benefit from small adjustments. It is one of the few fighting styles which offers a strong mix of defense (both personal and for allies), ranges throwing attacks and a few offense options. I only wish it had more options to counter or intercept attacks on adjacent or nearby allies. If this option is available to other classes I might well run sword and shield combo and just skip the taunt techniques.
If you wanted to main a tank ala an MMORPG...well congrats you have the warder now. It does exactly what you would expect from a video game tank class. For everyone else, or least everyone else like me, I would say that on the Path of War you should skip over the Warder.
[2 of 5 Stars!]