I want to start with this to get it out in the open. I'm putting it first because I REALLY HATE IT, and I want it to be REALLY NOTICEABLE. Maneuvers as feats. No. Just, no. With a side of no.
What is the biggest strength of a tabletop roleplaying game? This is something that was actually talked about BY THE DESIGNERS at the beginning of the playtest (I think in a podcast), and they were spot on. That your character can do anything. Instead of having computer code determine the outcome, there's a living, thinking person (the DM) who can adjudicate the rules. Wasn't this the whole point of emphasizing ability checks?
So now when a PC says "I want to push a guy," a rules-lawyer type will have the rules to back up his answer of "no, you don't have that feat?!?!"
But here's the worst part. Take Trip Attack, for example. There's no drawback to using this, and no tactical choice that needs to be made in-play. Once a PC has the feat it makes sense to use it EVERY SINGLE TURN. How boring is that? And how many fights do you see in movies or in novels where all a guy does is constantly try to trip his opponent over and over again?
Maneuvers should be universal options. There should be enough of a drawback to not try to spam them every turn, but they should be useful enough to actually use when the situation calls for it. Here's how I handle them in 13th Age, and I think such a system would benefit Next as well. Make an appropriate skill check vs PD or MD (in Next I guess you'd use opposed checks which is more dice rolling). If you fail, the target can make an opportunity attack against you. If you succeed, you can attack and if you hit you do that cool thing you were trying to do (applied AFTER the attack). Alternatively, if you want to play it safe just roll the skill check INSTEAD of attacking. Success lets you do that cool thing (without having to hit with a follow-up attack), and you won't take an OA if you fail.
If the designers read this, I encourage them to steal the idea. It'll make the game better.
What I Like
- Combat Reflexes. Makes melee characters more sticky.
- Defensive Ward. Simple countermagic is very cool.
- Find Familiar. Good to make it a feat, as some spellcasters want one and others don't.
- Healing Initiate. Cure Minor wounds is a little game-y since it can't heal past 3 total HP, but that keeps in check what is otherwise an at-will heal. Think of it as just enough healing to keep you conscious and you're good conceptually.
- Heighten Spell. Insurance for your big gun. Might I add that these "metamagic feats" are SO much better than the convoluted mess in 3.x where you changed the spell's level.
- Hold the Line. If I'm interpreting this right, you can stop movement if an enemy in melee with you tries to move away (basically trading an opportunity attack for a movement stopper). If that's the intent, then great! We have sticky tanks!
- Interposing Shield. Great defender option, sort of like a mark. Giving up your only reaction is a little pricey, though.
- Martial Arts. Monk-lite!
- Polearm Training. Reach weapons for everyone! And enhanced opportunity attacks with them, to boot.
- Purge Magic. If this gives you Dispel Magic even if you're not a Wizard. Which I think is the case here. Heck, even if you ARE a Wizard you can have fun not needing to prepare it, plus this feat gives you multiple uses of it.
- Restore Life. Suck it Cleric! I don't need you in my party!
- Relentless. Because it's fun when good things happen despite a miss.
- Spring Attack. Way to cater to the skirmisher fighting style. Encouraging movement is good.
- Taunt. Ok, this "skill as feat" is actually kind of cool.
- Tumbling Movement. Again, great skirmisher feat.
- Weapon Mastery. Hey-oh, it's a buff to weapons in general and not "choose this specific weapon to specialize in." Good, because if my normally-melee Fighter needs to pull out the bow I don't want him to suck.
What I Don't Like
- Magic-like wording of Charming Presence. Heck, its very existence. In what ways can't this be handled by a simple CHA check? If you want a feat to boost your ability to charm people then it should be "ignore situational penalties when you use the Charm skill," or better yet "gain Advantage when you use the Charm skill" (which would cancel any disadvantage anyways).
- Open Locks, Disarm Traps, Pick Pockets, etc. Wait a second, so what used to be skills are now feats? Based on the wording they basically ARE skills, it's just that they use up your "feats" resources. Sloppy, and unintuitive. Plus this very much falls within the realm of My Biggest Point of Contention above. What, so I can't attempt to pick your pocket with an ability check if I don't have this feat?
- Read Lips. Huh? Why can't this just be a Wisdom check? A bit situational to be a skill, but even that would be preferable to a FEAT.