yeah I realize that, Jay - but more paths mean more combos and I have heard that using skills from different disciplines results in pretty hefty penalties to effectiveness - having 5 paths to mix and match skills from seems like way more fun than having only 2 paths to mix and match from
Agreed, but consider this:
Among casters in FFXI you had RDM, BLM, WHM, SCH, SMN and BLU. Now SMN and BLU qualify as their own discrete categories because they're truly unique. Between RDM, BLM, WHM, and SCH, the amount of spell overlap is extravagant. RDM and SCH are at a basic level (I know they're different, but they're so much the same) just combinations of BLM and WHM abilities. So really, in spite of having 6 caster classes, you have 4, one of whom is not truly a caster per se (BLU).
Please don't take this as being contrary, my point is this: FFXI had 20+ combat classes, but only 3 (arguably 4) unique casters. FFXIV has 7 combat classes, 2 of which are unique casters. The ratio has improved,
at least to this point. (This of course presumes that Thaumaturge and Conjurer are truly different in the same way that BLM is different from WHM, which I'm not sure I believe quite yet)
Also, to your point about penalties to effectiveness, I believe that those are between DISCIPLINES, not between classes. So you see, Disciples of Magic will not suffer much (hopefully) from using one another's abilities; Disciples of War will suffer from trying to use Disciple of Magic abilities, and vice versa.