Aristotle's D&D Experience
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  1. #1
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    Aristotle's D&D Experience

    I'm not going to go into strict detail or a drawn out review. There isn't much chance that I'm going to scoop anything that you haven't already heard. This is more about giving what I feel is a quick, but fair, review of my 4E experience. I'll note before I start that I've generally liked, or at least found a silver lining, in most of the released info we've gotten about the game over the past few months. There are still a few design choices I find regrettable.

    Session 1: Escape from Sembia
    We had a full party for this one. Having not actually played a character in over a decade I decided I'd be happy with any character I got so I allowed others to pick first. I ended up with the dwarf fighter. There was a lot going on, on that character sheet and I straight up missed a few things that I saw later and realized would have been a huge help had I used them. I felt I was doing some pretty respectable damage overall, and I tried to "tank" but found the paladin's mark was considerably more compelling than mine. The hilight of my game experience occured when I single-handedly (IIRC) took out a mage in the last encounter. I made a move and then a charge action and scored a crit, and then spent an action point and used my daily to dish out a bunch more damage.

    Session 2: Scalegloom
    We were a member short for this encounter, so we had no wizard. I got the cleric, which I was ultimately less happy with than the warrior. The room with the traps was annoying, but believable. and the room with the indiana jones ball was really fun ('m going to use a variant of that at some point in my own game). We took the dragon, but only barely an it's entirely possible that he wasn't runn as deadly as he should have been. My personal hilight in that fight, aside from exhausting my heals and making healing checks to stabilize downed allies, was once again using my daily in conjunction with an encounter power that amplified it's damage and made the target vulnerable to radiant damage then spending an action point to throw an at-will radiant spell that round. I also feared the dragon at one point while the pally and warrior were flanking, as I figured Opportunity Attacks from both of them would trump my own ability to damage the target.


    General Review: Likes and Dislikes
    • I liked the number of options I had, particularly on a martial character that would normally only have basic attacks. I think saying that things quickly became routine when character sheets were so minimal and we were dealing with the power selection of first level characters is a bit of a knee-jerk. Obviously, without an infinite selection of powers, things will get a little predictable as players become familiar with the rules. At the end of the day I had more fun playing a fighter than I think I ever had.
    • Words like artillery, soldier, controller, and other design terms of that sort simply never came up at the table. I think people put too much emphasis on design terminology. My defender did a lot of single target damage, just like a striker.
    • Healing Surges and Action Points made for a much more cinematic play experience. That can be a negative or a positive depending on your stance. I run my games like movies, rather than windows to an ultra-realistic world, so I'm okay with it. I've never run hit points as being purely the physical wellness of a character, so I'm okay with the concept of a second wind. I personally wish they would have gone with a damage track/hit point or vitality/hit point system to finally break the points that represent actual wounds from those that represent luck, morale, and stamina.
    • The paladin's mark seemed exploitable. I can't wait to read the actual rules to see if we were seeing it run correctly. I'm fine with the warrior's ability to give a creature a -2 to attack as that could easily be attributed to battlefield intimidation or taunting, but 1d8 damage any time the targer doesn't attack the paladin? That felt excessive.
    • Hunter's Quarry seemed unecessary, but I'll need to see it in extended play. The two rangers I played with seemed to have it up on every target they hit, so what's the point of assigning it? I'm sure situations might arise where a character doesn't have time to assign it, but it wasn't an issue in my preview games.
    • I don't think book keeping will be less, but I think the core mechanic is even more streamlined so that the things you have to keep track of are all running under the same mechanics. I certainly don't think it's worse, but I don't think less book keeping should be a selling point.
    • I concur that encounters generally ran about the same amount of time, but consisted of anywhere from 20% to 100% more actual rounds than in 3rd edition.
    • I don't feel the game is more dependent on a grid and miniatures for play than 3rd edition already was. The game definately implies the use of some sort of grid and counters for sure. Combat was very tactical, and I'll second or third a chess-like perception of the combat with the kobolds. I do not feel, as others have said, that this means you can not role play under 4E. I think you can run fluid games with a lot of character interaction and still run detailed tactical combats. However it's easier to run this game without the role playing (which is generally not rule-heavy in most game systems) than it would be to run it without the tactical combat (as different game systems have different levels of detail to their combat rules).



    I still find myself in the 75% like/25% dislike category. I might feel the need to do some house ruling at my own table, but I do that in most game systems. I'm a tinker by nature. I think this system will definately allow me to run the cinematic games, filled with both drama and intense combat, my players have come to expect from me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aristotle
    I still find myself in the 75% like/25% dislike category. I might feel the need to do some house ruling at my own table, but I do that in most game systems. I'm a tinker by nature. I think this system will definately allow me to run the cinematic games, filled with both drama and intense combat, my players have come to expect from me.
    That's good to know.

    Nice analysis and opinions. Thanks.

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    Aristotle, you'll be pleased to know they have gone on record saying the paladin's challenge has already been changed from the one in print, as some in WOTC also noted its abuse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TarionzCousin
    That's good to know.

    Nice analysis and opinions. Thanks.
    Too bad it will be discounted by others for being overly positive.

    @OP: Thanks for providing another review and more opinions on the state of the game.

    cheers,

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack99
    Too bad it will be discounted by others for being overly positive.
    That's entirely possible. I tried to point out where my own play style allows for a positive spin on something that others might consider negative. I do have some real gripes, but more with the structure of products and the design process than with actual game play. for instance...

    I'm distressed that they might be doing multiple dragon specific books, as glut is one of the first thing we tend to complain about in a system and this seems like an excessive use of the product schedule.

    I *really hate* that, despite transparent design elsewhere, they are providing multiple versions of the same creature where the only difference should be the gear the alternate version is carrying and the appropriate training it would take to wield that gear. This is most obvious on humanoids, so I'm hoping all of them are presented in the playable race format so that I can just build them with character levels if I want to.
    Last edited by Aristotle; Sunday, 2nd March, 2008 at 07:14 PM.

  6. #6
    I don't think it seems overly positive. It seem rather balanced.


    I'm especially happy to hear from ordinary people who are actually free to speak their mind regarding the game, rather than insiders with conflicts of interest.

    I'm really glad to hear one thing: that combats take about as long as 3E, but have twice as many rounds . This is a huge sell for me, actually.

    I also , unlike some, like the healing surge mechanic, since it frees up the party from utter dependence on the cleric. I do wish, though, that they had split out vitality and wounds with some kind of condition track. But half a loaf is better than none!

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    Thanks for a good review, Aristotle. You didn't change my mind, but I like what you had to say. thanks.

  8. #8
    Thanks for good review number 2. Ok, who else went I want some more.

  9. #9
    Regarding Hunter's Mark-

    Only the nearest enemy can be designated as the quarry. But archers are ranged attackers. This means that they can either beat up on nearby foes very efficiently, or they can forgo some damage in order to shoot someone in the back lines. It also gives them some incentive to maneuver a bit in order to get the target they want into position as the nearest.

  10. #10
    Huh, you know that I missed that Hunter's Quarry can only be designated to the nearest enemy, not any ol' enemy on the battlefield. I wonder if that was missed in any of the playtests.

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