Details on the playtest format here. Short version: Original 4 classes, original 4 races, pregen characters to start - it's like Basic all over again! All I can really say at this point is that I will be giving it a whirl in some fashion, probably with the Apprentices at least. If nothing else, I want to be able to complain honestly.
Also there we have notes on the fighter. The high points:
- The Fighter Is the Best at . . . Fighting! - Good. I never liked the over-emphasis on the "tank" aspect of the class that we saw in 4E. I got over it but it's nice to see offense get some attention here.
- The Fighter Exists in a World of Myth, Fantasy, and Legend - Finally someone says it! What your brother's friend could do at an SCA event with a foam sword is no more relevant to Fighter discussions than what your sister's magician friend can do with a hat is to Wizard discussions - neither is limited by "reality".
- A High-Level Fighter and a High-Level Wizard Are Equal - As it should be and as it finally was in 4E. I'm glad to see this one sticking around. I would expect a wizard to be able to do all kinds of interesting things that a fighter can't do, like open doors to other planes or make things invisible, but he shouldn't be better at killing things than a fighter! Yes, that's largely a game balance thing and I would make no apologies for it.
So far this sounds a lot better than the Cleric talk last week.
There's some other stuff about races that is nothing new so I leave that to an exercise to the reader to discover independently.
I think my lack of care about races and some of this stuff is that I'm going to do what I want in that area regardless of how it's presented in the rules. Races are setting-dependent, not rules-dependent - and if they aren't they should be. With a multitude of editions of D&D available, not to mention Fantasy Hero (3 editions of that sit on my shelf too, how the time flies) and books like GURPS Fantasy Folk, I don't lack for resources. I'm probably going to be running 4E as the main game for quite a while anyway so I'm not sure that Next's approach matters all that much in a practical sense either.