No kidding- D&D Next just keeps surprising me.
Like the new barbarian class is just about perfect. I liked 3.5 and 4e just fine. I really did. My roots go back to a much earlier version, but I always like the new stuff when it comes out. But D&D Next keeps making me think, "Damn, why wasn't it like that before?"
Without posting specifics of the rage ability from the class it gives you a bonus to Strength skills and damage in melee. It also helps you mitage damage. That is it- simple, elegant design. No stat bonuses to figure out, no penalties at the end of the duration, and as a matter a fact the duration isn't based on tracking how many rounds you can be mighty. When you have no one else to hack, slash, or otherwise injure it ends. There is a 10 minute maximum, but come on. A round in D&D Next is still like six seconds or something, so if you need to fight that long better bring a lot of clerics.
The other stuff for the class is what we always wanted. Sure he can move faster than the average human. Yes, in some cases for specific builds you are better off in a loin cloth and no armor. But not everyone is going to have Conan's statline. He dishes out solid damage just like the fighter, rogue, and monk. There is a first level ability to use when you aren't in zippy chew on your shield mode. But it really shines when you can think about backgrounds and specialties.
--check out this specialty
"Ooh, this model is so cool but he has polearm"
--hmm, specialty for that too
"Can I make a barbarian with bow?"
--heck yeah that is core, or there is this ranged specialty
"But I want my guy to be like the Chief of the Tribe!"
--ooh, background .. noble!
"How about if he was a barbarian, but now he is thief?"
--ripping Conan again, but yes, background
"Can I use it to make like a warrior Skald?"
--no bard class yet, but if you want a barbarian with those type of skills...background
"Damn, okay what about using the barbarian to make a wood elf wardancer?"
That is pretty easy really. For race Wood Elf, for class barbarian, for specialty skirmisher, and for background jester. Mechanically it works brillantly. There might be a little fluff that is off, but you have a guy who is going to be really fast and mobile. You can probably switch out the feat in the skirmisher tree that adds some extra movement unless you want to be really, really fast. You could pick up something that lets you dualwield or be better with a polearm. But the background for the jester has all the skills you would want as a wardancer plus the typical elf stuff. Might need to alter the trait a little so instead of joking your noteriety proceeds you only the way an elf sporting a mohawk and warpaint can, but you get the idea I hope.
Still shocked that I didn't notice how easily the slipped the AD&D style assassin is a thief build that gets martial weapon proficency and shields. I felt like screaming "Hell ya!" after third edition wouldn't let me play one until I was higher levels, or the 4e versions were all way to magical for my tastes. Starting play as a half-orc assassin shouldn't require me to use a garrote or blowgun or bolas unless I want to. While teleporting and shadow attacks are just plain cool, sometimes I just want a bashy type thief with skill and a longsword like we used to have. Cheers to them on that!