I was halfway writing a post about the final version of the Essentials Assassin, and how it was a very odd mix of clever answers to player concerns (to the point that all my complaints about the class had actually been fixed!) and blatant screwup in very basic stuff (i.e. breaking the math so that the class no longer really works as an effective striker). The forums were raging all over the update, given how it neutered a class that had shown so much potential in its first draft. It was a strange story, but we have seen worse things come off DDI. Until now, that is.
A few hours ago, Steve Winter (editor for Dragon and Dungeon magazines) explained in the forums how the 'final version' released was, in fact, halfway through development due to a screwup in coordination between the magazine and R&D.
Yeah, it's D&D's version of 'my worg ate my homework'. It is silly and unprofessional. And it's also a remarkable display of sincerity (not that they had many other options at that point, but whatever). Now, I'm pretty sure that in no time we'll have plenty of conspirancy theorists speculating about WoTC inventing stories, or trying to fix the mess after seeing the forum reactions, or something like that. Honestly, I don't care.
The fact is, we had a great class in playtest that, for some obscure motive (likely involving sheer incompetence) was released in a broken form but, rather than staying that way, is going to get fixed in december. Sure, the designers and editors have lost a good deal of credit, but what I really care about at this point is that we'll get a properly implemented Executioner, eventually. And, all things considered, I'm confident that they'll get it right because they were so close this time. Honestly, as much as I liked the original, I really admired the many elegant solutions in this revision - up to the point where the math broke, that is.
Anyway, for those interested in playing the class as soon as possible (and one of the players in my campaing was considering the option), I had come up with a houserule that mostly filled the damage gap that was preventing this version of the Executioner to, um, Execute properly. It goes as follows.
At level 1, add the following feature:
Culling the weak: Your attacks against bloodied targets deal extra damage equal to your Charisma modifier.
This is a significant damage boost, but also a highly situational one, that happens to mesh well with the class theme and mechanics. If you play an executioner with this adjustment, be aware that your attacks against healthy enemies will be subpar - but if you coordinate with your party so that they leave wounded monsters to you, you should be bringing them down as well as could be expected from someone calling himself an Executioner.
Anyway, I'll be eagerly awaiting the December release. Let's hope it survives the editing goblins.