4E Speculation about "the feelz" of D&D 4th Edition - Page 8
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  1. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Fighter-Cricket View Post
    Well, they produced a game edition where the combats are tactically engaging and can take too long for certain people. I wouldn't call that "onetrueway-ism". I can't see anyone who is saying "Why can't I play grid based and tactical combat in Vampire? Clearly White Wolf suffers from onetrueway-ism."

    There are different games for different audiences. I am quite happy that the D&D scene is so divided that D&D can't really be seen as a "game for all tastes" anymore. It doesn't have to be imo. There are so many great games for everyone: story driven handwavy things, games for the grid crowd, boardgamey rpgs, games building up on a vast lore background, just plain silly ones, and even some where you die of blood poisoning because you have been stabbed by a rusty blade and you ran out of dried fruit to eat (I'm looking at you "Torchbearer"). There is no WotC monopoly anymore that forces a gamer to play the newest edition of D&D or any edition.
    Great post. I'm going to elaborate a bit on the "feelz" of AD&D1e vs Basic vs 2e vs 3.x vs 4e vs 5e in a future post. I'm sorry, but this idea that each system doesn't have a distinct, systemitized (either due to tightness in design or incoherency) play experience is not true. While 5e harkens back to AD&D2e with a mash-up of some 3.x/Castle and Crusades (and a smidgen of 13th Age indie tech), they're all pretty different.

    I think there are a lot of people that use a WHOLE LOT of GM Force and Illusionism to impose metaplot and/or maintain genre coherency (because the system produces a lot of genre incoherency when deployed naturally) and bridge the gaps of rule absence or wonky interactions. Because of this they feel "system doesn't matter." Well of course you're going to feel that system doesn't matter if you're just going to (typically covertly) override the system by disregarding the resolution mechanics outright or by disregarding their outputs!

    The amusing irony here is...system still matters even when "its not mattering!" (1) If the system "just worked", you wouldn't have to apply (covert or above board) Force and (2) while your Force is almost assuredly an arbitrary process which is arbitrary applied...it is still shakily erected scaffolding/bubble gum/paper clips to stand-in for system architecture (albeit rife with incoherency)!

    Quote Originally Posted by MwaO View Post
    I think that's a hindsight 20/20 kind of view, but not actually correct. 4e had the following unforgivable problems in marketing:
    No SRD for 4e+restrictive OGL. That made it extremely difficult to write 3rd party material. That's extending even now, making it complex to clone 4e and run a Pathfinder equivalent.

    Told off Paizo without giving them a revenue stream.

    Bad initial adventures. Particularly Living Forgotten Realms with a huge oversupply of substandard material.

    Promised the moon on digital, something WotC's always bad at and should never do. Even if the murder-suicide by head of digital hadn't happened, probably would have gone wrong somehow.

    -----

    Basically, WotC placed Paizo in what they thought was a box - give up Dragon/Dungeon and sell 4e products. But instead, they gave them a ton of incentives to do 3.5 material. Even though companies could see the need for good 4e adventures, they were afraid to write them. And there was Paizo putting out 3.5 compatible material.

    Maybe they still end up going to 5e at some point. But they forced a competitor into existence who would have been happily writing adventures and crunch for them otherwise. Cut off that air supply for 3.5 and very few people leave 4e to go back.
    Great post. I know the narratives of "4e failed (at all)" and "4e failed because (not D&D, not an RPG, not other reasons" is very important to people who dislike the edition. Its important to keep context (and this isn't even all of it...the groundswell of immature, many of them 50+ so no excuse...I know some, fruit loops endlessly unleashing their jilted lover ire such that their teapot tempests seemed a great noise indeed) front and center...even in the absence of all kinds of legitimate quarterly report numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrivener of Doom View Post
    And as I pointed out in another thread, that's patently false.

    I can make an interesting, tactically-rich short encounter using only minions. If I want to make it difficult, I use minion artillery. If I want to make it last a bit longer, I use over-level minion soldiers. But, basically, I can mix and match the level and role of minions to create short 4E encounters that run as quickly as any encounter in a Four Yorkshiremen edition but are still interesting.
    Great point. The moment I saw that "4e can't do smaller combats", this is exactly what came to mind.

    4e's encounter budgeting system is extraordinarily robust to all manner of budget load-out. You can trivially reduce the HP proliferation of the bad guys while retaining the encounter threat level.

    Fill out the encounter budget with things like:

    1) Large number of up-leveled Minions.
    2) Minion Soldiers + blocking terrain + hindering terrain + Y axis protected Minion Artillery.
    3) You can give some of the Minions an Encounter Utility Power that turns them into "2-hit Minions" (Imm Int + 4 defenses).
    4) Give the bad guys a single down-leveled Leader Standard that force-multiples (who is also protected, perhaps by a punitive aura).
    5) Fill the encounter budget out with one or more Hazards/Traps that either block, control, just do damage, or interestingly change the situation somehow when they're triggered/interacted with.
    6) Give the PCs terrain/battlefield effects to stunt/interact with that will give them an advantage but can also hurt them.
    7) Lesser enemies flee (Skill Challenge ensues) or surrender at Bloodied.

    Its trivial to have small, quick combats in 4e (ones where HP ablation and status effect induction don't have primacy). The system has so many tools to facilitate it.

    What 4e doesn't have...what it doesn't support...is Rocket Tag. That is because (a) Save or Suck basically doesn't exist, (b) NPC capacity is front-loaded, and (c) PCs have so many abilities to "come off the ropes/get off the canvas." This is by design. I'm calling that a FEATURE all day...not a bug. I'm not interested in anticlimactic rocket tag which only exists because of the artificial system architecture of turn based combat governed by initiative (with squishy participants on both side or encounter ending Save or Suck).
    Last edited by Manbearcat; Monday, 13th February, 2017 at 06:03 PM.
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  2. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jhaelen View Post
    I disagree (see my previous post above).
    3e was the edition that spelled the end for TotM in D&D.

    If you want evidence, just look at the D&D product lists for 3e:
    It gave birth to the countless sets of 'Dungeon Tiles' and the 'Fantastic Locations' poster maps. It was also the prime time for the D&D Miniatures line. During 3e we also saw the switch to the new 'delve' adventure module format, with combat encounters (and detailed battle map layouts) being described separately from the general adventure location descriptions.
    4e merely continued this trend (and improved on it).
    Yeah, but a lot of us never looked at that material, and did not play 3.x that way; 4E was a logical extension of a subset of play styles and trends; unfortunately for all involved, WotC had not done due diligence in determining what most folks wanted or would view as progress.

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  3. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by Caliburn101 View Post
    TotM was always the most popular/played form of the game. I've played more games than I can count, been to more conventions than I can list off the cuff and been a member of various clubs with multiple games over the decades.
    I played the heck out of AD&D back in the day, went to every convention I could find (and we didn't have a shortage of them in the bay area), and had the opposite experience. With D&D, we used minis if we possibly could, because you needed them - for marching order, for positioning. The thing was, we didn't always use the expensive lead minis and take hours painting them... sometimes I'd play with a DM who had already been into wargames and had tons of the things, often very inappropriate to D&D (these orcs look surprisingly well-dressed), when I ran games, I didn't have the mini collection, so if someone had a mini specially for their character, great, otherwise dice or whatever was handy served, and until there were battlemats, I'd just lay down pencils to get the size/shape of a room or corridor. AD&D certainly assumed minis and even pushed it's own mini line, though it was never that great (Ral Partha was the gold standard back in the day, IMHO).

    But, if we were playing somewhere with no table, well, no playsurface, you can't do even that. TotM wasn't a style, it was adversity. Like many, many bad things from the early day, folks get so used to coping that they can't cope with things getting better.

    I was not criticising 4th Edition as a game. I was pointing out that it was a departure and played differently as a result. To claim it was a next logical next step from 3rd Edition flies in the face of the evidence of the success of Pathfinder and the unprecedented split in the D&D gaming community that occurred - including I might say the current opinion of WotC themselves.
    The split wasn't entirely unprecedented. AD&D wasn't well-received by all the older fans, and many felt Arduin was the true successor to 0D&D. 3.x was rejected by AD&D grognards.

    It was just a particularly vindictive split.

    In my experience, TotM was for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th by far the most common way to play the game.

    I never played in the USA - so maybe it was different there, but I remain to be convinced.
    Yes, there were regional differences (just w/in the US, never mind the UK, never mind outside the anglophone sphere) in how RPGs were played. There still are. Thus the danger of generalizing from personal experience or anecdote.

    What does stand, regardless of region or personal anecdote, is the game, itself. And D&D has never had meaningful support within its rules for playing in the TotM style....

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrivener of Doom View Post
    One of the things that won me over with 3E when it first released was that it recognised this was a problem by hardwiring the need for a grid and minis into the rules. (Yeah, yeah; I know I am not supposed to say that because only 4E required minis and a grid according to "conventional wisdom"....)
    'Grid dependence' was a frequent criticism of 3.x - especially from 2e fans hat'n on it - and it was just as unfounded as it was later when applied to 4e. It's really a nonsense claim, D&D has never provided rules that actually facilitate TotM, even 5e which claims to 'default' to that style has nothing, it's mere lip-service. (Which, frankly, was an excellent move, you had such a fake uproar going that they had to move away from having functional rules for minis, yet the core of the fanbase driving that uproar was so traditionalist that any hint of an actual TotM system, like 13th Age uses, would have been equally provocative. So just turning back the clock and positioning 5e's combat system neatly between 2e & 3e, while giving a purely symbolic nod to the disingenuous talking points of the edition war was the best way of coping with a bad situation.)

    13th Age is different, of course. Instead of talking about TotM and then providing a system that required precise relative measurements, 13th Age actually delivered a system that works with TotM.
    13A delivered on several 5e promises better than 5e did. TotM being the stand out example, but also arguably, BA, class differentiation, balancing encounters & day length, magic items, etc...

    (... full disclosure: in spite of recognizing the above, I barely play 13A at all.)
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Monday, 13th February, 2017 at 06:49 PM.

  4. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by MwaO View Post
    I think that's a hindsight 20/20 kind of view, but not actually correct. 4e had the following unforgivable problems in marketing:
    No SRD for 4e+restrictive OGL. That made it extremely difficult to write 3rd party material. That's extending even now, making it complex to clone 4e and run a Pathfinder equivalent.

    Told off Paizo without giving them a revenue stream.

    Bad initial adventures. Particularly Living Forgotten Realms with a huge oversupply of substandard material.

    Promised the moon on digital, something WotC's always bad at and should never do. Even if the murder-suicide by head of digital hadn't happened, probably would have gone wrong somehow.

    -----

    Basically, WotC placed Paizo in what they thought was a box - give up Dragon/Dungeon and sell 4e products. But instead, they gave them a ton of incentives to do 3.5 material. Even though companies could see the need for good 4e adventures, they were afraid to write them. And there was Paizo putting out 3.5 compatible material.

    Maybe they still end up going to 5e at some point. But they forced a competitor into existence who would have been happily writing adventures and crunch for them otherwise. Cut off that air supply for 3.5 and very few people leave 4e to go back.
    Right. WotC CREATED Paizo, gave them a product to base their success on, a list of customers to market to and recognition by those customers, etc. It was ROCK STUPID BUSINESS PRACTICE that allowed Paizo to do what it did.

    The other half was simply execrable market timing and market sense. 3.5 wasn't at the point where the market was ready to move on. WotC wanted to move on because WotC had exhausted its main revenue potential from 3.5, but they forgot that you have to bring the market along with you, you can't just ram new product down its throat. Then they were so ham-fisted that they rammed it sidewise to boot.

    4e released in say 2014 as the 40th Anniversary edition of D&D, would have probably been MUCH easier to swallow, particularly accompanied by some less witless marketing and with a good bit of extra time to go through a whole additional round of polishing to make the presentation smoother. With good initial adventures, there's no reason to believe such a product launch couldn't have been just as successful as 5e's was.

    I really disagree strongly with the notion that there is anything inherently 'un-D&D like' about 4e or that makes it any less suitable as a D&D product offering than other editions have been. I've run 4e very extensively and had great success with it. Ordinary people who like to play D&D are perfectly happy with 4e, and DMs LOVE running it for the most part.

    As to the notion that it is some huge break with previous editions, give it up. This is just not really supportable. OD&D through 2e certainly represent a 'family' of games that have more in common with each other than they do with 3.x (d20 D&D), or 4e (which is really a flavor of d20 system). However , the differences aren't that big, and 4e isn't significantly more different from 2e than 3e is, nor is 5e significantly more similar to 2e mechanically. 3e-5e represents a 'WotC version' of the game, D&D, but with SOME differences, that's all.

    And really how big and significant are those differences? The only aspect where 4e diverges somewhat more than 3.5 is in terms of some of the mechanics of spell-casting for the 'wizard' class and the 'cleric' class. Even there the gist of what you can do is largely the same and every variation introduced in 4e was long since foreshadowed and implemented in a similar form in 3.5. All that is really left to say is different are saving throws, which isn't exactly the beating heart of the game, and even that is different more in terms of who rolls the die than in actual mechanics (with 4e's duration controlling saves being an entirely new mechanic).

    4e shifts the emphasis of the game and conceptual organization of play in terms of story and action, which IS significant, but it does it WITHOUT abandoning most of the infrastructure of the game. Its more a remodeling where various parts of the structure take on new significance and new functions but still retain most of their old form.
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  5. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    'Grid dependence' was a frequent criticism of 3.x - especially from 2e fans hat'n on it - and it was just as unfounded as it was later when applied to 4e. It's really a nonsense claim, D&D has never provided rules that actually facilitate TotM, even 5e which claims to 'default' to that style has nothing, it's mere lip-service. (Which, frankly, was an excellent move, you had such a fake uproar going that they had to move away from having functional rules for minis, yet the core of the fanbase driving that uproar was so traditionalist that any hint of an actual TotM system, like 13th Age uses, would have been equally provocative. So just turning back the clock and positioning 5e's combat system neatly between 2e & 3e, while giving a purely symbolic nod to the disingenuous talking points of the edition war was the best way of coping with a bad situation.)

    13A delivered on several 5e promises better than 5e did. TotM being the stand out example, but also arguably, BA, class differentiation, balancing encounters & day length, magic items, etc...

    (... full disclosure: in spite of recognizing the above, I barely play 13A at all.)
    Yeah, a good analysis. I too must confess to just not 'getting into' 13A. Its a decent game in its own right, but I LIKE the way 4e's resource system works, and I LIKE the power-based class design, so to me both 13A and 5e just miss the boat.

    As a general comment about play in the 'good old days' I'd just like to reiterate that use of minis and grids was EXTREMELY pervasive back in the day. This was the prototypical way to play. When I played in the 70's with some large and cosmopolitan gaming groups (we had a club with over 200 members) SOP was that if you rolled up a PC you supplied an appropriate mini for it, to the degree that if you didn't have a mini of a guy with a spear, then by god you didn't equip your character with a spear! If you wanted to hire 5 spearmen, you better be able to dig up 5 spearman minis and they better plausibly be wearing the right armor too! That being said, we had huge amounts of club equipment, so it wasn't like you'd be stuck very often. We had tons of grids and markers and 3D props and etc too.

    Even when we played at home, and even after moving to a different area and going to college etc, our groups always played with minis. I know this because I can remember one day when we were in the dorm and sitting around the room playing WITHOUT a grid and minis, and it was damned weird and inconvenient and after that we played in the student center (even though we got hassled by stupid people, which you'd think wouldn't happen at college, but it did).
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  6. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Right. WotC CREATED Paizo, gave them a product to base their success on, a list of customers to market to and recognition by those customers, etc. It was ROCK STUPID BUSINESS PRACTICE that allowed Paizo to do what it did.

    The other half was simply execrable market timing and market sense. 3.5 wasn't at the point where the market was ready to move on.

    4e released in say 2014 as the 40th Anniversary edition of D&D, would have probably been MUCH easier to swallow, particularly accompanied by some less witless marketing and with a good bit of extra time to go through a whole additional round of polishing to make the presentation smoother. With good initial adventures, there's no reason to believe such a product launch couldn't have been just as successful as 5e's was.
    You don't even need good initial adventures, HotDQ was just as awful as KotS, and there was more of it to suffer through.

    There's more to the timing than just letting folks burn out of 3.x, which had a good few more years left in it, easily. There were also major market timing factors. 2008 featured the worst recession since the Great Depression, the OSR movement, and a general malaise was already gripping the broader hobby. 2014, OTOH, the anemic recovery was in full swing, the OSR demand had been fully satisfied, and boardgaming was beginning a strong resurgence that drew potential new players to the FLGS where they could be ambushed by Encounters.

    Had 5e & 4e been swapped in the order, not only would it have made more sense in terms of the development of the rules themselves, 5e would probably have done better playing to the OSR-influenced market, and 4e would probably be doing better now appealing to a new generation of players.

    I really disagree strongly with the notion that there is anything inherently 'un-D&D like' about 4e or that makes it any less suitable as a D&D product offering than other editions have been.
    4e addressed many long-standing, seemingly insoluble problems with D&D, and solved them. That's un-D&D like. D&D had been comparatively stodgy throughout the TSR years, barely changing over decades while other games got downright experimental.

    And really how big and significant are those differences? The only aspect where 4e diverges somewhat more than 3.5 is in terms of some of the mechanics of spell-casting for the 'wizard' class and the 'cleric' class
    Functional class balance that doesn't rapidly lead to unquestioned spellcaster dominance certainly makes the game 'play differently,' though, doesn't it?
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  7. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Yeah, a good analysis. I too must confess to just not 'getting into' 13A. Its a decent game in its own right, but I LIKE the way 4e's resource system works, and I LIKE the power-based class design, so to me both 13A and 5e just miss the boat.
    Oh, I appreciate 13A and might even lift concepts from it now and then, but it remains easier to get together a D&D game just because it's D&D...

    ...and 13A class design did disappoint to a degree. It still balances, thanks to the draconian full-heal-up mechanism, but it's inelegant by comparison. In that sense, though, it does feel quite a bit like D&D.

    As a general comment about play in the 'good old days' I'd just like to reiterate that use of minis and grids was EXTREMELY pervasive back in the day. This was the prototypical way to play. When I played in the 70's with some large and cosmopolitan gaming groups (we had a club with over 200 members) SOP was that if you rolled up a PC you supplied an appropriate mini for it, to the degree that if you didn't have a mini of a guy with a spear, then by god you didn't equip your character with a spear!
    ...
    I can remember one day when we were in the dorm and sitting around the room playing WITHOUT a grid and minis, and it was damned weird and inconvenient and after that we played in the student center (even though we got hassled by stupid people, which you'd think wouldn't happen at college, but it did).
    Nod. Experiences vary, you were clearly jacked into the wargaming community, while I was on the periphery of it. My groups often made do without proper minis, and TotM was just the last resort when there was no other choice, but one I learned to cope with adequately, especially in college.
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  8. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    You don't even need good initial adventures, HotDQ was just as awful as KotS, and there was more of it to suffer through.

    There's more to the timing than just letting folks burn out of 3.x, which had a good few more years left in it, easily. There were also major market timing factors. 2008 featured the worst recession since the Great Depression, the OSR movement, and a general malaise was already gripping the broader hobby. 2014, OTOH, the anemic recovery was in full swing, the OSR demand had been fully satisfied, and boardgaming was beginning a strong resurgence that drew potential new players to the FLGS where they could be ambushed by Encounters.
    Right, those are all good points. Honestly I played little 3.x and no PF and can't say what the quality of Paizo adventures is, though I did read through one of the APs and frankly I wasn't overwhelmed. Still, it was MUCH better written and seemed more dynamic and engaging than the 4e HPE and other pre-Essentials-era adventures, which were kinda uniformly dull or at least required a lot of up front work to make them good.

    It certainly seemed like 4e launched into a huge headwind. The whole direction the market wanted to go right then was totally opposite, PF gave 3.5 fans an out, and WotC seemed incapable of consistently marketing what they had. Encounters was a good solid program for what it did, but the play it engendered was pretty limited, as you'd expect for the format. Something like AL would have been a good idea.

    4e addressed many long-standing, seemingly insoluble problems with D&D, and solved them. That's un-D&D like. D&D had been comparatively stodgy throughout the TSR years, barely changing over decades while other games got downright experimental.

    Functional class balance that doesn't rapidly lead to unquestioned spellcaster dominance certainly makes the game 'play differently,' though, doesn't it?
    hehe, yeah. 4e fixed a lot of stuff, and that is truly un-D&D like. Functional class balance is a huge part of it, and you are totally right that it has a big, though in a lot of ways subtle impact on the whole game. 4e does end up being a bit of its own sub-genre. One that seems badly served by RPGs in general these days. Really no other Fantasy RPG has exactly hit that point. I think DQ kinda tried, but it was just not that well-executed a game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    Oh, I appreciate 13A and might even lift concepts from it now and then, but it remains easier to get together a D&D game just because it's D&D...

    ...and 13A class design did disappoint to a degree. It still balances, thanks to the draconian full-heal-up mechanism, but it's inelegant by comparison. In that sense, though, it does feel quite a bit like D&D.
    The plethora of different and almost the same but overlapping mechanics disappointed me a lot.

    Nod. Experiences vary, you were clearly jacked into the wargaming community, while I was on the periphery of it. My groups often made do without proper minis, and TotM was just the last resort when there was no other choice, but one I learned to cope with adequately, especially in college.
    Sometimes we had to make do as well, but in those cases we'd always at least have some coins and half-inch ruled paper to sketch out the scene on. I did like wargames a lot back in that day, but RPGs were a LOT more popular, so we actually did fairly little real full-up wargaming. Most of what we did was Sea Power, Micro Armor, Star Fleet Battle Manual, and stuff like that.
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  9. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbdulAlhazred View Post
    Right, those are all good points. Honestly I played little 3.x and no PF and can't say what the quality of Paizo adventures is, though I did read through one of the APs and frankly I wasn't overwhelmed. Still, it was MUCH better written and seemed more dynamic and engaging than the 4e HPE and other pre-Essentials-era adventures, which were kinda uniformly dull or at least required a lot of up front work to make them good.

    It certainly seemed like 4e launched into a huge headwind. The whole direction the market wanted to go right then was totally opposite, PF gave 3.5 fans an out, and WotC seemed incapable of consistently marketing what they had. Encounters was a good solid program for what it did, but the play it engendered was pretty limited, as you'd expect for the format. Something like AL would have been a good idea.



    hehe, yeah. 4e fixed a lot of stuff, and that is truly un-D&D like. Functional class balance is a huge part of it, and you are totally right that it has a big, though in a lot of ways subtle impact on the whole game. 4e does end up being a bit of its own sub-genre. One that seems badly served by RPGs in general these days. Really no other Fantasy RPG has exactly hit that point. I think DQ kinda tried, but it was just not that well-executed a game.


    The plethora of different and almost the same but overlapping mechanics disappointed me a lot.



    Sometimes we had to make do as well, but in those cases we'd always at least have some coins and half-inch ruled paper to sketch out the scene on. I did like wargames a lot back in that day, but RPGs were a LOT more popular, so we actually did fairly little real full-up wargaming. Most of what we did was Sea Power, Micro Armor, Star Fleet Battle Manual, and stuff like that.
    Fixes are only fixes if they address something viewed as a buf rather than a feature: and different people have different perspectives on which is which. 4E solved features of D&D for me, which was a bug to my viewpoint.

    Miniatures & such...it is not surprising that folks playing the tactical game liked then improvement of that: but we were not all doing that, even 3.x cadre folks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parmandur View Post
    Fixes are only fixes if they address something viewed as a bug rather than a feature: and different people have different perspectives on which is which.
    Nod. Particularly with regard to balance problems (and intentional rewards for system mastery), which were features if you leveraged them to get the superior character, and bugs if you were playing the Tier 6 class because the concept appealed to you (or just looking at the game theoretically, for that matter).

    Then there's 'fee1,' the original topic. If something provides a desired 'feel' even if it has no positive function, it's a feature. If a bug sticks with the game for 30 years, it's become part of the feelz....
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Monday, 13th February, 2017 at 09:32 PM.

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