Finishing my analysis of the PHB2, I will try to do actual point-by-point comparisons of the PHB2 classes with similar PHB1 classes.
Of course, trying to estimate the value of a class before playing is error prone. Thinking back to when I was first looking at the PHB1, I recall mis-estimating the rogue on a couple counts. First, I assumed that sneak attack was about as good as hunter’s quarry. I didn’t realize how easy it was for rogues to gain combat advantage until I actually played. Also, for some reason I thought the extra damage from the brutal scoundrel ability was countered by the artful dodger’s extra damage from Sly Flourish, I overlooked the fact that Piercing Strike is just as good as Sly Flourish.
But the point of writing things down is to make the comparison clear, and to open up the opportunity for someone to point out anything I missed.
The Avenger is most similar to the Barbarian, and since I already ranked the barbarian, I can use this comparison as a point of reference and compare the Avenger directly to the barbarian. In particular, a Wis/Dex Avenger vs. a Str/Con barbarian.
Using a standard of +4 stat, +2 weapon, +1 weapon focus, crag hammer. Both cause 15 damage then as a basic attack. The barbarian’s at-will boosts this to 18.5. The avenger’s oath of emnity is a 40-50% boost when it works. How often does it work? Beats me. Assume 2/3, so it gives a 30% bonus. This is 19.5, so the avenger is ahead. But the barbarian gets a free attack on every critical, so we’ll calll it even.
Barbarian has +4 AC, +1 Reflex, -1 armor check. Avenger has +5 after getting leather armor, but this costs a feat. Avenger has 3 points of special defense bonuses instead of 2. I’d say this is a small edge for the Avenger.
If you factor out the +1d6 we’ve already including, compare the at-will bonuses. The barbarian can charge, and some of the powers have nice bonuses when raging. I guess this is a bit better than the Avenger’s powers, but it is close.
Avenger has an extra skill, Barbarian has +1 surge and +1 hit point.
Barbarian’s secondary stat is Con, but Avenger’s is Dex, so we’ll say these cancel out.
The barbarian’s encounter daily powers look more impressive. But the Oath of Emnity inherently combos well with encounter and daily powers. So I’m not sure what is better.
Barbarian is allowed to take Improved Rageblood Vigor, which looks like a great feat at low level. But Avenger can take Improved Armor of Faith, which looks fearsome at high level.
The Avenger is behind one feat to get Melee Training. But the barbarian has to use a tertiary stat, Dexterity, for his AC bonus, which is terrible, so I’d give the edge here to the Avenger. But the Avenger’s need to spend so many feats will make him suffer at low level, so that may cancel out.
Avenger has a small number of ranged attacks, but they seem wimpy and require him to divert from other choices. Barbarian’s ability to throw javelins may well be better. We’ll say this is partially countered by the little Avenger benefit that his primary stat, Wisdom, gives him a bonus on more skills than the barbarian’s high Strength.
At this point we seem close to even.
Avenger’s Divine Channeling is very cool, rather better I’d say than Swift Charge.
The Censure abilities look tricky to use, but generally seem more potent that the barbarian’s temp hp when defeating a foe.
Therefore, my estimation is that the Avenger is more powerful than the Barbarian. Not exactly by a lot, though, probably within the margin of error.