The Martialist is sort of the fighter class for Phoenix - with a focus on "sort of". They are a weapons focused class, but there are other weapon focused classes like the Conquestor.
If they were just a fighter, I'd call them a fighter. Martialists are more - they are dedicated, trained warriors, who know advanced combat maneuvers and are capable of learning more through play. A fighter is more generic in most systems and such classes generally only gain abilities when a new level is reached.
I've written and rewritten a Martialist class a number of times now and just haven't been happy with the outcome. I finally sat down and forced myself to storyboard the class before diving in on yet another rewrite.
Here's what I imagine - cinematically, mind you, not realistically. Realism != Fun, at least in my book.
The Situational Example
So there you are - a Martialist, equipped with sword and shield, on the field of battle once more. You are separated from your allies and staring down four angry orcs with rusty, two-handed axes. They scream and charge straight at you!
You stand there, looking as if you will just take your destiny. At the last possible moment, you lunge forward with your shield, knocking straight into three of them and staggering their charge. The fourth orc chops down at you with his axe, but your sword is already in place and you just barely knock it out of the way. Reacting quickly, you thrust your sword straight into that orc's throat, dropping him. Now it's only 3 to 1, which hardly seems fair... to the orcs.
In the finest tradition of associated game design, I can now formulate mechanical examples off of the above situation. I'll walk through the same brief scene, but this time in game terms. It's only a single round of combat.
Sitrep: 4 Orcs, 1 Martialist. No surprise.
Initiative: The Orcs win initiative.
Action (Orcs): Charge attack.
Free Attack (Martialist): Shield Slam [Arc 3]. Disrupts Orcs 1, 2, and 3. Orc #4 attacks.
Reactive Defense (Martialist): Hard Parry. Rolls opposed damage roll and barely wins.
Attack (Martialist): Regular attack. Scores critical explosion on Orc #4.
Performing this myself takes about 60-90 seconds to resolve, assuming a bit of time for comparison and deep breaths. So that is a fairly acceptable place to start.
With this in hand - and a few more examples, like a swashbuckler - I'll work on the Martialist in earnest, and hopefully have a good draft soon.