I'm not sure what all the belly aching is about, but I've been building 4E characters for the past three days and there are plenty of power gaming options. Want to build a tactical warlord? Check out the Genasi race in Manual of the Planes with the +2 Strength and Int. Want the ultimate spear for your Eladrin soldier? Check out the Greatspear in Adventurer's Vault. Want something completely different? Try the various builds in Martial Power or wait for PHB II, which is just around the corner in March. The DDI Character Builder makes integrating all these resources effortless, and my list is just scratching the surface. I've turned off the Forgotten Realms and Dragon/Dungeon content. The options grow daily. Power builds also rely on tie in magic items, so don't forget those.
Let me tell you about my character. Famous last words before coma ensues. One game store owner recently commented that when customers telling him about their characters, time moves like dog years, slowing to one seventh normal speed. I admit, I used to be more attentive in the store, but my mind instantly starts wandering. I think it's a defense mechanism. I made my saving throw. The dryads lure has been broken.
Not having actually played before, my preferred build is a little closer to home (the PHB). I went with an Eladrin warlord with the tactical build (third level). He features a couple interesting feats, like the Eladrin Soldier which gives him a +2 bonus on damage with spears. I chose a greatspear from Adventurer's Vault, adding the Myrdoons Shard magic item to give him a 3 square reach when he needs it. Focusing on his background, I also gave him the Soldier of the Faith feat, making him a multi-classed paladin. I actually like that I only have to blow a feat to gain a little paladin goodness, rather than all the bonuses of a level.
The paladin multiclass has to do with his background. I initially dismissed Manual of the Planes as a rather dry, mechanics only book aimed at DMs. However, after reading the tightly written and creative Feywild chapter, I have a new appreciation for the book. Faerie stuff has been an interest of mine anyway, since getting into the Dresden Files books. I was especially intrigued by the Feywild city of Astrazalian, which appears six months as a peaceful island in the regular world, but also spends six months of winter in mortal combat, fighting desperately to survive, in the Feywild. With an Eladrin soldier in mind, this struck me as the perfect starting point.
Astrazalian reminded me of an article I read in The Economist recently about the British army. The British armed forces are stretched to the limit and some of the government policies have made their job even harder (apparently this is British tradition). One such bad policy is their six month, on again, off again, rotation in Iraq. It breaks morale and prevents the men from building roots in the communities they serve (or live in). It sounds like a hellish situation. My character is one of these soldiers, with Astrazalian being his Iraq. Now I get to go read more about British soldiers in Iraq. Current Events FTW!
Because I always like to build psychologically flawed characters, I added an element of conflict with the paladin class. There was a religious conversion with this soldier that alienated him from his men. The god in which he converted to is TBD, but it will be one that is somewhat anethema to Eladrin, related to the battles of Astrazalian. I'm thinking he converts to The Raven Queen, a goddess of winter and the dead. Eladrin in the Feywild are ruled from the Summer Court, so maybe The Raven Queen is a bit like Feywild declaring you're a socialist in the 50's; a little too close to the Red Menace.
Perhaps his men are perpetually raised from the dead to fight once again in this endless battle, at least until their minds break. The Raven Queen represents a final rest, regardless of the demands of mortal powers, possibly a treasonous idea in a time of war. Perhaps choosing death is a form of desertion, stigma against your honor and a blow to the status of your family. Rather than a pro-life agenda, imagine a religious movement that's radically pro-death.
I think I'm enjoying this game again.