My first go as a player in 4e

Started by masqueradeball, September 05, 2010, 11:43:35 PM

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... I really don't think the 4e combat system has that much going for it, and I've played various skirmish level mini's games and enjoyed them. Its 1/3 card game, 1/3 mini's game and 1/3 sticking the pretense that you could get by without the cards or the mini's. They should have just made it a card game, or a mini's game, or a mix, but aggressively went after gearing the mechanics to what those things do well. IMO.

And yeah, I know, 10 Encounters per level, probably a dozen or so rolls per encounter... odds are the rolling would even out.


In ye olde Forge terminology, the typical 4e character consists of, in order of importance:

1) Effectiveness
2) Resources
3) Positioning

With the game mechanics providing a number of Currency systems, some unreliable, between Effectiveness and Resources.

Out of the box, the game provides very little in way of Positioning, and very few Currency systems relating Positioning to anything else.

I suspect this paucity of Positioning is the main cause of your dissatisfaction with the game, in addition to a secondary dissatisfaction with the unreliable Currencies.

The first is easier to remedy than the second, so I'll talk about that.

First, there's exploiting whatever intrinsic Positioning may be available to you.  You catch a bit of a break here, in that you're playing a cleric, and there's a fair amount of intrinsic Positioning provided, relatively speaking, in support of clerics and their gods.

Your particular game setting is somewhat unusual, so it might be prudent to check with your DM about the cosmology and theology he's using.  My hunch is that he's holding close to the defaults, but perhaps not -- and in any case, he may be open to suggestions.

The intrinsic Positioning I'm talking about here are things like:  what does your god want?  What place does his religion hold in the world?  How is he worshipped?  What are his followers like?

This can become the platform for any extrinsic Positioning you may want to unilaterally add.  As an example of what I'm talking about, you might decide that your character is using an icon of her lost brother as a holy symbol.

Furthermore, it can provide a channel for adding more Positioning to what's going on in the combat system.  You call upon your god to divinely curse (via Bane) your enemies.  And you miss the attack roll.  How does your character feel about being forsaken by his god in his time of need?  How do the enemies respond when their willpower overcomes divine intervention?  I think it's in the answers to those questions that you'll find the dramatic interest in the failures and successes of combat.

There are not many Currencies which relate to Positioning, but one of them is the Quest system.  A quest like "find out what happened to my lost brother" might provide as much as half the XP required to level up your character, which could be very significant. 

Hopefully that provides you with some ideas about some approaches to try, and isn't too jargony.


Callan S.

I think with 'the rolls would even out' it has two major flaws.

1. It's fun latter territor 'Keep playing long enough and on average, it becomes fun'. No, for people who want fun now, it needs to be fun now - they don't need advice that they should become fun latter people. That's making the foot fit the shoe.

2. If it evens out, what was the point of having it to begin with? If it really has no effect, why do it?


Roger: Yes, I agree. I see all of those things. I'm sort of playing this D&D game despite the fact that its not really "my kind of fun."

Callan: Again, agreed. I don't think "it evens out" is a very good system... though it does justify/underlie a certain amount of statistical balance.

Frank Tarcikowski

Well, "cooldowns" are a design that's typical for MMORPGs, but they're not as well suited to table-top gaming. A long cooldown (something like a daily power in 4E) would be 10-30 minutes in WoW so you'd be using it more often, plus, in WoW you can minimize your miss chance through gear and these effects usually affect more than just one attack. RNG (= random number generation) is still a big concern on WoW forums but it evens out a lot more because you just go through a whole lot more moves in the same amount of time.

- Frank
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English


Frank: I agree when we're talking about real-world time turn overs... thats my big problem with whiffing in this game and why I think it applies more to this edition of the game. If I roll to-hit every say, few minutes, than that's a different bird then rolling to see if my effect that affects the chance of someone else chances to hit goes off maybe once or twice and hour, which I might be exaggerating, but I think is accurate of the game I played in.

Jim D.

Fourth edition D&D battles have this weird dichotomy:  with players who are good at calculation or understand the system, battles are lightning-fast.  I managed to run five in a session with experienced third edition players without an issue; with an equally-sized party of new players, one battle took four or five hours.  My turn lasted about 30 seconds, another guy lasted about 30 seconds, the rest reviewed the entire move list, analyzed strategy, asked for about ten definitions, and then ended up washing their hands of the entire business and using a basic attack instead.

The main issue I have with 4th edition is the surprisingly high barrier to entry; since the pace of battle ends up dictated by the newest (slowest) players, action slows to a crawl, and then you end up with boring roleplaying on top of boring combat, which leaves the game tasting pretty sour.


Yeah, things would definitely speed up with experience. I wish I has started this game at 1st level, as that would have allowed me to learn with a smaller list of options... but I'm fairly savvy when it comes to games, and the combat still seemed slow. Definitely wasn't trying to optimize for speed, plus the party of 6 was little bloated.

Callan S.

Jim, that sounds more like analysis paralysis to me rather than who's good at calculation. On the D&D forums I saw many a time the suggestion, supported by others, of having some sort of timer (thirty seconds to decide your move, or such). Of course that's not part of D&D. But what a huge difference such a simple mechanic would make is what I think of when I think system matters.

Jim D.

Truthfully, Callan, that makes quite a bit of sense.  I wanted to sit down with these guys and say "Look here.  Using your powers is important.  Identify a tactical consideration -- do you want to make that guy really dead, hit that group of guys, help this guy... pick a power that does it and move on, and let someone help you with all the bullshit keywords."  But I couldn't figure out a way to do that tastefully, and I think a couple of our party members were just dead set on not enjoying the game anyway.  "This is too hard," put succinctly, "so I'm not going to play."