4E Will the 4E classes be deliberately unbalanced to get players to read?
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    Will the 4E classes be deliberately unbalanced to get players to read?

    Yeah, yeah, old, news and all that jazz. Still, it gives one pause to be reassured that 4E provide the balance that 3.x was supposed to have been

    From The Reason for Imbalance in D20 :

    Originally Posted by T. Foster
    But remember that, by Monte Cook's own admission, they included a bunch of intentionally "sub-optimal" options and advice in the 3.0 rulebooks as a way to encourage "rules mastery" among the player-base -- that those players who studied the rules (or hung out at the Character Optimization board at WotC) would be "rewarded" by having a real advantage over the casual players who just (foolishly) followed the advice in the books. That attitude (which seems to have been carried over directly from Magic: The Gathering) was one of the biggest turn-offs of 3E for me, because at this point in my life I have zero interest in "mastering" a ruleset, but neither do I want to be stigmatized as an "inferior" player by my decision not to do so (nor do I want to kowtow to some rules-geek for his condescension-laden "help").

    Originally Posted by Monte Cook's blog
    Magic also has a concept of "Timmy cards." These are cards that look cool, but aren't actually that great in the game. The purpose of such cards is to reward people for really mastering the game, and making players feel smart when they've figured out that one card is better than the other. While D&D doesn't exactly do that, it is true that certain game choices are deliberately better than others.

    Toughness, for example, has its uses, but in most cases it's not the best choice of feat. If you can use martial weapons, a longsword is better than many other one-handed weapons. And so on -- there are many other, far more intricate examples. (Arguably, this kind of thing has always existed in D&D. Mostly, we just made sure that we didn't design it away -- we wanted to reward mastery of the game.)
    Last edited by joela; Wednesday, 7th May, 2008 at 02:03 AM. Reason: clarification

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    D&D is a Co-Operative game with a Human GM (not an AI) balancing it. I say make the character you'd like to be, and play them the way you think is fun.

    Balancing energy is best spent on learning how to play together as friends and as PCs and hinting for tweeks from the GM.

    Now my Female Dwarf Bard-Barian with 10 in all stats who refuses to use magic is off to the underdark...

  3. #3
    I love mastering a rules system and wringing out every stupid advantage I can. It's one of the things I enjoyed most about M:tG and WoW (PvPing in particular). However it's not really something I look for in a tabletop rpg. That is it's a great theory of gameplay in a competative venue, but not cooperative gaming. In a competative setting fun is derived from besting your competition, but without direct competition (or the desire to create it) trying to wring every last bonus and plus out of a given framework loses its charm, at least for me. However I'm keyed into the "mastering" mindset enough that it also takes the fun of things out of it for me if what I want to play isn't viable. For instance I've always wanted to play a sorcerer/wizard in 3e, except I never did. I loved the concept but couldn't enjoy the play because it was laughable. That little competative voice in the back of my head couldn't let me because I knew that everyone elses character would be so much more capable. I would say that because Dnd isn't a competative game balancing the system is even more important, to allow people the more fully enjoy a diversity of choices without penalizing them.

    I'm not sure if that's entirely clear, but that's my rant for now.

  4. #4
    Design comments have indicated that system mastery is to be less rewarded and that they're trying to avoid tricking people into making crappy choices.

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    Nah, while I don't think every power, class feature, and feat will be equally powerful, I don't think that they intentionally put sub-optimal choices into the system. It runs contrary to one of the central tenets of 4e design.

  6. #6
    No, they've explicitly stated that getting rid of "system mastery" is a design goal.

    Heck, Monte has spoken out against it too.

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    The exact quote from the Multiclassing excerpt: "In 4th Edition, we strived to make each character option useful. Since D&D lacks a competitive or deck building element, it's silly to hide bad choices in the rules."

  8. #8
    Yeah, they're not just no longer intentionally putting system mastery in, they're going out of their way to keep as small a difference as possible, From what I've read, Mearls in particular seems to find the idea of having to play and "study" to understand the ruleset enough to make the character you want to play almost offensive.

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    I like another type of system mastery. Intentional weak options are bad; I don't think a player should be penalized for his choices. But I like the fact that some options in a system take more time to learn and master, or are simply more difficult to pull. And when a player manages that, I think it's great that he benefits from doing it.

    I'm thinking of the 2nd Edition mage, for example. He was almost impossible to play at low levels, dropping with a single attack roll, and even at high levels required a lot of attention and careful choice from the player. But the mage surely was powerful at the high levels. It was a trade off, but a difficult one to achieve.

    I think all games, from monopoly to RPGs, benefit from mechanics of this kind. Give something for those who are willing to invest their time on the mastery of the elements of gameplay. You don't need to take away the fun of the casual player to do that.

    Cheers,

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Giltonio_Santos
    I like another type of system mastery. Intentional weak options are bad; I don't think a player should be penalized for his choices. But I like the fact that some options in a system take more time to learn and master, or are simply more difficult to pull. And when a player manages that, I think it's great that he benefits from doing it.

    I'm thinking of the 2nd Edition mage, for example. He was almost impossible to play at low levels, dropping with a single attack roll, and even at high levels required a lot of attention and careful choice from the player. But the mage surely was powerful at the high levels. It was a trade off, but a difficult one to achieve.

    I think all games, from monopoly to RPGs, benefit from mechanics of this kind. Give something for those who are willing to invest their time on the mastery of the elements of gameplay. You don't need to take away the fun of the casual player to do that.

    Cheers,
    I'm not a fan of the power as a reward for difficulty model really in any respect. The thing is the option will be substand for some players and too good for others resulting in bringing twice the problems to the game system. The fact is there will always be players that will be able to play a class well even if it was deliberately made more intricate and with a higher intended difficulty, but once you pass that obstacle you just have an unfun, unbalanced, class that sucks enjoyment out of the game for other people.

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