4E Are powers samey?

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I said in another thread I'd put some at will first level 4e powers and a list of classes to explain my confusion with the meme that 4e powers are similar between classes. All these are at will powers I've seen on characters, and I think I've removed anything too obvious such as Vicious Mockery from the Bard, or anything from the psionic classes (including the monk) that don't use standard AEDU. All of them I think are pretty clearly associated with one of the classes below (there's only one per class although I have put both Mage and Wizard in there).
  • Astral Seal: Target a foe within 25 feet at +2 vs Reflex. On a hit the target takes -2 to all defences until end of next turn and the next ally who hits them heals 2+secondary stat hit points
  • Brash Assault: Melee attack vs AC. 1W + Stat damage. Hit or miss the target can make a melee basic attack against you as a free action and they have combat advantage. If they do one of your allies within 25 feet can make a melee or ranged basic attack against them with combat advantage.
  • Chaos Bolt: Target a foe within 50ft vs Will. Hit: 1d10 + Stat damage. If your attack roll was even you must make this attack again make a secondary attack against a target within 25ft of your previous target. On a hit d6 vs will and you must attack a new target within 25ft if the attack roll was even. Keep attacking until you run out of targets or roll an odd number.
  • Deft Strike: Melee or ranged weapon attack vs AC. You may move up to 10ft before the atttack. On a hit do 1W + Stat damage. [Under 4e rules if you are hidden before an action you don't become unhidden until the end of the whole action - and hiding can be done as part of a move action]
  • Eyebite: Target a foe within 50ft vs reflex. On a hit d6+Stat damage and you are invisible to the target until the end of the next turn
  • Howl of Fury: Melee weapon attack. Hit: 1W + Stat damage. You then howl a 15ft cone that includes the target. Everyone other than the target in the cone takes thunder damage equal to [Secondary Stat]
  • Grappling Strike: Melee weapon attack vs AC. Must have a hand free. Hit: 1W + Stat damage and you grab the foe, automatically ending the grab at end of next turn. With [Subclass] you may use this as an opportunity attack.
  • Lightning Lure: Target a foe within 15ft, vs Fortitude. On a hit 1d6+[stat] damage and pull the target to the nearest square adjacent to you.
  • Magic Weapon: Melee or ranged weapon attack. Attack: +1 vs AC. Hit: 1W+Stat and each ally adjacent to you gains a +1 bonus to attack, and a [secondary stat] bonus to damage rolls until the end of your next turn
  • Misdirected Mark: Target a foe within 50ft. Hit: 1d8 + Stat damage and the target is marked by an ally within 25ft of you until end of next turn. [A marked target takes -2 on attack rolls that do not include the person that marked them, and defenders like fighters and paladins often have effects that interact with marks]
  • Storm Pillar: Create a pillar of crackling lightning in a square within 50 ft. The pillar occupies the square for a round and any enemy that moves into a square adjacent to it takes d6+Stat damage
  • Taste of Life: Melee attack vs Fortitude. Does 1d8 + Stat damage and you gain 2+ Secondary Stat temporary hit points.
  • Unravelling Dart: Targets 1 or 2 creatures within 50 feet. Does 1d4 + Stat damage to each and if the target has vulnerabilities it triggers them. If not the bolt does Secondary Stat extra Damage
And the classes:
  • Artificer
  • Fighter (Brawler)
  • Barbarian (Thunderborn)
  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Mage (Nethermancer)
  • Rogue
  • Sorcerer (Wild)
  • Swordmage
  • Vampire
  • Warlock (Fey Pact)
  • Warlord (Bravura)
  • Wizard (Staff)
Now to me these are very different approaches and having them as your easiest to use attacks makes the characters very distinctive. I'm curious about how easy other people find to match the at will power to the class and why people think that this part was too samey.
 

Hussar

Legend
IMO, and I'm sure there are those who are going to jump up and down to tell me how wrong I am, is that the whole "samey" canard was simply an artifact of the presentation. The powers were all formatted the same, and most people didn't bother to actually do more than skim the books, thus, all the powers were the same.

It was a such a very large presentation change from every other version of D&D, folks just couldn't seem to wrap their brains around it. In earlier D&D, the only thing that was formatted like this was spells - so, everything that has the same format has to be spells. So, that must mean that every class in 4e is just a spell caster... on and on.

But, yeah, presentation is such a HUGE issue. There's a very, very good reason they don't rearrange the PHB's between editions. It's Stats, race, class, equipment, skills (if they exist in the edition) feats (again, if they exist) and now Background and Flaws.

Note how all the newer additions to the game keep getting added to the tail end? That's not a mistake or an accident. That's VERY deliberate.

4e made the mistake of trying to organize things differently and, IMO, that was one of the main reasons for its rejection while 5e, which incorporates so much 4e DNA, is accepted without quibble.
 

Olrox17

Explorer
IMO, and I'm sure there are those who are going to jump up and down to tell me how wrong I am, is that the whole "samey" canard was simply an artifact of the presentation. The powers were all formatted the same, and most people didn't bother to actually do more than skim the books, thus, all the powers were the same.

It was a such a very large presentation change from every other version of D&D, folks just couldn't seem to wrap their brains around it. In earlier D&D, the only thing that was formatted like this was spells - so, everything that has the same format has to be spells. So, that must mean that every class in 4e is just a spell caster... on and on.

But, yeah, presentation is such a HUGE issue. There's a very, very good reason they don't rearrange the PHB's between editions. It's Stats, race, class, equipment, skills (if they exist in the edition) feats (again, if they exist) and now Background and Flaws.

Note how all the newer additions to the game keep getting added to the tail end? That's not a mistake or an accident. That's VERY deliberate.

4e made the mistake of trying to organize things differently and, IMO, that was one of the main reasons for its rejection while 5e, which incorporates so much 4e DNA, is accepted without quibble.
Indeed. So many 5e mechanics are taken directly from fourth and given a new coat of paint, and people don’t even realize it.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Care to unpack?
I am a bit sleepy right now but i thought being silly terse had a funnier sound than it did. I have pretty much written the argument off in a manner very similar to Hussar and do not have huge amounts to add.


However how about this additional point I call holistic impact.
Individual powers generally carry the impact of related abilities from the class or sometimes from feats.
A couple of examples
  • The grappling strike also marks the enemy with that attendant cascade of additional opportunities it characterizes the nature of that attack itself.
  • My swordmages at-wills set me up for a White Lotus riposte picture his aura pulsing with the energy from his at-will and releasing it when he is subsequently attacked.
 
I said in another thread I'd put some at will first level 4e powers and a list of classes to explain my confusion with the meme that 4e powers are similar between classes. All these are at will powers I've seen on characters, and I think I've removed anything too obvious such as Vicious Mockery from the Bard, or anything from the psionic classes (including the monk) that don't use standard AEDU. All of them I think are pretty clearly associated with one of the classes below (there's only one per class although I have put both Mage and Wizard in there).
Astral Seal:
Target a foe within 25 feet at +2 vs Reflex. On a hit the target takes -2 to all defences until end of next turn and the next ally who hits them heals 2+secondary stat hit points
Nice job on cherry picking out one of the different style powers! Did that class run out of samey ones?

Brash Assault:
Melee attack vs AC. 1W + Stat damage. Hit or miss the target can make a melee basic attack against you as a free action and they have combat advantage. If they do one of your allies within 25 feet can make a melee or ranged basic attack against them with combat advantage.
[*]Chaos Bolt: Target a foe within 50ft vs Will. Hit: 1d10 + Stat damage. If your attack roll was even you must make this attack again make a secondary attack against a target within 25ft of your previous target. On a hit d6 vs will and you must attack a new target within 25ft if the attack roll was even. Keep attacking until you run out of targets or roll an odd number.
[*]Deft Strike: Melee or ranged weapon attack vs AC. You may move up to 10ft before the atttack. On a hit do 1W + Stat damage. [Under 4e rules if you are hidden before an action you don't become unhidden until the end of the whole action - and hiding can be done as part of a move action]
[*]Eyebite: Target a foe within 50ft vs reflex. On a hit d6+Stat damage and you are invisible to the target until the end of the next turn
[*]Howl of Fury: Melee weapon attack. Hit: 1W + Stat damage. You then howl a 15ft cone that includes the target. Everyone other than the target in the cone takes thunder damage equal to [Secondary Stat]
[*]Grappling Strike: Melee weapon attack vs AC. Must have a hand free. Hit: 1W + Stat damage and you grab the foe, automatically ending the grab at end of next turn. With [Subclass] you may use this as an opportunity attack.
[*]Lightning Lure: Target a foe within 15ft, vs Fortitude. On a hit 1d6+[stat] damage and pull the target to the nearest square adjacent to you.
[*]Magic Weapon: Melee or ranged weapon attack. Attack: +1 vs AC. Hit: 1W+Stat and each ally adjacent to you gains a +1 bonus to attack, and a [secondary stat] bonus to damage rolls until the end of your next turn
[*]Misdirected Mark: Target a foe within 50ft. Hit: 1d8 + Stat damage and the target is marked by an ally within 25ft of you until end of next turn. [A marked target takes -2 on attack rolls that do not include the person that marked them, and defenders like fighters and paladins often have effects that interact with marks]
[*]Storm Pillar: Create a pillar of crackling lightning in a square within 50 ft. The pillar occupies the square for a round and any enemy that moves into a square adjacent to it takes d6+Stat damage
[*]Taste of Life: Melee attack vs Fortitude. Does 1d8 + Stat damage and you gain 2+ Secondary Stat temporary hit points.
[*]Unravelling Dart: Targets 1 or 2 creatures within 50 feet. Does 1d4 + Stat damage to each and if the target has vulnerabilities it triggers them. If not the bolt does Secondary Stat extra Damage
All of these powers are samey. Damage + Small effect. Your whole turn is using one and only one of these powers.

You can look at the effect on each and call them different. They are different - that's why I don't call them the same. But samey is when something shares more similarities than differences and IMO these do because the most important parts of these powers are the 1[W] + damage.

And the classes:
  • Artificer
  • Fighter (Brawler)
  • Barbarian (Thunderborn)
  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Mage (Nethermancer)
  • Rogue
  • Sorcerer (Wild)
  • Swordmage
  • Vampire
  • Warlock (Fey Pact)
  • Warlord (Bravura)
  • Wizard (Staff)
I played 4e - most of these powers I already know what class they belong to.

Now to me these are very different approaches and having them as your easiest to use attacks makes the characters very distinctive. I'm curious about how easy other people find to match the at will power to the class and why people think that this part was too samey.
Now you can focus on the differences in those powers so much that they don't seem samey to you. I fully admit that's possible. But it's hard to read through those power lists and not see everything as do some damage and do some small effect. If you can't see sameyness on that level I don't think we can discuss. Now maybe you want to make the point that the level I'm looking at isn't really the level that matters when playing the game - that's an interesting discussion - but you can't look at those powers at the higher more abstract level i'm viewing them and come away with these things are vastly different.
 
Nice job on cherry picking out one of the different style powers! Did that class run out of samey ones?
I'm picking powers that actually saw play and that I recall seeing play. That was one of two at wills I recall on a "laser cleric" and the one that was more commonly used. So I'm cherry picking by picking what people did in play?

All of these powers are samey. Damage + Small effect. Your whole turn is using one and only one of these powers.

You can look at the effect on each and call them different. They are different - that's why I don't call them the same. But samey is when something shares more similarities than differences and IMO these do because the most important parts of these powers are the 1[W] + damage.
Oh noes. People attack things and that makes them samey.

Do you believe that the fighter, the rogue, and the barbarian should all be the same class? Because in 3.5 they are far more similar than those powers. So is samey something you consider entirely inherent to D&D?

Now you can focus on the differences in those powers so much that they don't seem samey to you. I fully admit that's possible. But it's hard to read through those power lists and not see everything as do some damage and do some small effect. If you can't see sameyness on that level I don't think we can discuss. Now maybe you want to make the point that the level I'm looking at isn't really the level that matters when playing the game - that's an interesting discussion - but you can't look at those powers at the higher more abstract level i'm viewing them and come away with these things are vastly different.
So ... in combat it's samey if people do damage with their actions? The level you are looking at things makes fireball seem samey to a sword swing. In any edition. They spend an action to do an amount of damage to some number of targets. Indeed there is no additional effect with either fireball or a classic fighter making a sword swing.

If you see a classic fireball as similar to a classic sword swing then I don't see your definition of saminess as meaningful. If on the other hand you do not see a classic fireball as similar to a classic sword swing then I don't think that group are samey.
 

BryonD

Adventurer
Everything is relative.
And I'm not interested in starting at GO on this debate that really came to conclusion years ago.
It should not take that much Google-Fu to track down the cases which were made.
But, compared to other games against which 4E was competing for players and the demands of a significant numbers of the playerbase the answer is a resounding YES.
You can go on all day about how completely different a fireball is compared to swinging a sword and having this or that completely un-fire-related special rider ability tied to said sword swing. And you would be right. But EVERY RPG (at least of those running for "being popular") can make that exact same case.
4E was all about "the math works". And no matter how long your list that EXACT SAME MATH was always there.

So taking a list of 4E elements and trying to evaluate them in a vacuum is meaningless.
The differences, which most certainly ARE there, completely miss the point.

And I also recognize that there are players who simply don't perceive or otherwise care about that ubiquitous sameness. And I have no argument that their love of 4E is blind to its presence. But the theme is this thread is already "I don't perceive it, therefore everyone else who said it is just wrong".

Me seeing it clearly has no bearing on your perception. You not seeing it has no bearing on the reality that I see. And obviously there are still 4E fans smarting about this in 2020 and calling it a "canard" and a "meme". Which pretty well makes it clear that the perception was VERY common. That this is not a red flag that something better than "you are wrong" is required is very telling.

Try to accept that people really do experience 4E as exactly how they describe it. There is no misrepresentation. There is certainly no failure to wrap anyone's brain around anything. There is simply a standard established by OTHER games and 4E doesn't meet THAT standard NOT through failure but instead through proactive choice to prioritize other standards.

You can tilt at this windmill for another decade or two if you want. It won't change. And it will just appear that 4E fans can't wrap their brains around what some many other fans have the liberty to demand from modern games.

Or you can accept that and move on with enjoying your game of choice.

This debate was old then, it is old and irrelevant now. And it is starting to feel like arguing with flat-Earthers. If your position require you to say that the dominant majority of a group which is by and large defined by very smart people are across the board deluded and failing to understand your personal insights, then it may be you are the one missing something.
 
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I'm picking powers that actually saw play and that I recall seeing play. That was one of two at wills I recall on a "laser cleric" and the one that was more commonly used. So I'm cherry picking by picking what people did in play?
They likely choose that power either because it was powerful or not samey. So by using the foundation of what people actually played with you actually are already sifting to most of the less samey and/or powerful powers. Not surprisingly most of your list is still extradionarily samey for you to have done that.

Oh noes. People attack things and that makes them samey.
Yes. And there ought to be a sufficient level of differentiation to make most things that would be samey be different. This is accomplished in 5e in dramatic ways between the barbarian/rogue/fighter classes. In 4e that differentiation rested the shoulders of push 2 or pull 2 or grant +2 to attack, etc. In 5e that differentiation is Rage/Reckless, Action Surge/Lots of Attacks, Sneak Attack/Cunning Action. 5e's differentiation in how characters play round over round is to a much greater degree than 4e's formulaic differentiation.

Do you believe that the fighter, the rogue, and the barbarian should all be the same class? Because in 3.5 they are far more similar than those powers. So is samey something you consider entirely inherent to D&D?
I didn't get into 3.5e. Can't comment on it.

So ... in combat it's samey if people do damage with their actions? The level you are looking at things makes fireball seem samey to a sword swing. In any edition. They spend an action to do an amount of damage to some number of targets. Indeed there is no additional effect with either fireball or a classic fighter making a sword swing.

If you see a classic fireball as similar to a classic sword swing then I don't see your definition of saminess as meaningful. If on the other hand you do not see a classic fireball as similar to a classic sword swing then I don't think that group are samey.
Now you are zooming out to far. Just like anything you want to call samey I could zoom in so far on that there's nothing samey about it.

I think there are different degrees of differentiation that affects perceptions on sameyness. 5e has a much higher degree of differentiation. It's not that there are a lot of moving parts per class - it's that the difference in those moving parts and other classes moving parts are huge! In 4e there's a lot of fiddly moving parts but the degree of difference between them is much smaller -ie is below the degree of differentiation that I personally find samey.
 

atanakar

Adventurer
But, yeah, presentation is such a HUGE issue. There's a very, very good reason they don't rearrange the PHB's between editions. It's Stats, race, class, equipment, skills (if they exist in the edition) feats (again, if they exist) and now Background and Flaws. Note how all the newer additions to the game keep getting added to the tail end? That's not a mistake or an accident. That's VERY deliberate. 4e made the mistake of trying to organize things differently and, IMO, that was one of the main reasons for its rejection while 5e, which incorporates so much 4e DNA, is accepted without quibble.
Agreed. I had a lot of trouble at first when I read the 4e PHB. I had been playing D&D since 1980. My brain was formatted to look for information in a very specific way. Luckily, I'm also a graphic designer specialized in magazines, so I understand the idea of moving things around for a better presentation of ideas. We did end up playing 4e for two years. Ultimately we abandoned it, not because of presentation. [end derailing]
 
Everything is relative.
And I'm not interested in starting at GO on this debate that really came to conclusion years ago.
It should not take that much Google-Fu to track down the cases which were made.
But, compared to other games against which 4E was competing for players and the demands of a significant numbers of the playerbase the answer is a resounding YES.
You can go on all day about how completely different a fireball is compared to swinging a sword and having this or that completely un-fire-related special rider ability tied to said sword swing. And you would be right. But EVERY RPG (at least of those running for "being popular") can make that exact same case.
4E was all about "the math works". And no matter how long your list that EXACT SAME MATH was always there.

So taking a list of 4E elements and trying to evaluate them in a vacuum is meaningless.
The differences, which most certainly ARE there, completely miss the point.

And I also recognize that there are players who simply don't perceive or otherwise care about that ubiquitous sameness. And I have no argument that there love of 4E is blind to its presence. But the theme is this thread is already "I don't perceive it, therefore everyone else who said it is just wrong".

Me seeing it clearly has no bearing on your perception. You not seeing it has no bearing on the reality that I see. And obviously there are still 4E fans smarting about this in 2020 and calling it a "canard" and a "meme". Which pretty well makes it clear that the perception was VERY common. That this is not a red flag that something better than "you are wrong" is required.

Try to accept that people really do experience 4E as exactly how they describe it. There is no misrepresentation. There is certainly no failure to wrap anyone's brain around anything. There is simply a standard established by OTHER games and 4E doesn't meet THAT standard NOT through failure but instead through proactive choice to prioritize other standards.

You can tilt at this windmill for another decade or two if you want. It won't change. And it will just appear that 4E fans can't wrap their brains around what some many other fans have the liberty to demand from modern games.

Or you can accept that and move on with enjoying your game of choice.

This debate was old then, it is old and irrelevant now. And it is starting to feel like arguing with flat-Earthers. If your position require you to stay that the dominant majority of a group which is by and large defined by very smart people are across the board deluded and failing to understand your personal insights, then it may be you are the one missing something.
This sums it up nicely.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't really care too much about this, the king is dead long live the king and all. But ... I have said that the sameness is part of the reason that while I had fun sometimes I grew to dislike 4E.

So what did I mean? It's two-fold.

First, because all powers were unique other than being expressed in the same game language, after a while they all blurred together. No power felt particularly distinctive or exciting, it's a variation of the paradox of choice.

That and even though there was different fluff, it most powers were just different ways of push/pull/temporarily disable/damage. Remove the fluff, change the label and I'm not sure you could tell which class had the power. Remove the ability score base and many powers were bland.

The second, and much more important reason is the play cycle. Everybody had the same at will, encounter daily beats. The decision points were all the same. When you level, determine what load out you're going to have for every session until you level again. Want to have the same power multiple times? No real reason your PC could do something once but not again until they rested? Too bad. It was Vancian casting* on steroids.

Spending powers was the same. It was the same analysis cycle for every PC. Do I spend that powerful daily? Am I and the monsters in position to use that encounter? Every class had the same evaluation cycle. Most, if not all, classes had reactions and interrupts. Just remember, once you use it it's gone until the cool down period is over.

So that's what I mean when I say powers all felt the same. The details varied, there was some variation, but most of the "uniqueness" was fluff while the play cycle was the same for everyone.

[EDIT]
Forgot to add in "everybody attacked with everything" as someone else mentioned. Never flipping around who rolls the dice to determine success or failure also contributed.
[/EDIT]

*I'm not a huge fan of Vancian casting to begin with. I can kind of justify it for spells - you effectively "load up" certain spells and then trigger them when needed if you're a wizard. But at least some classes have a bit more flexibility with trade-offs, even if I'd prefer a different system altogether as an option.
 
Power are samey.

How samey?
As samey as non4e spells, yes.
As samey as "make a roll with an effect but take a -2-4/-8 penalty unless you have the feat", yes.

They are unique effects squeezed into a system and given as much differentiation that that system allows.

Edit: And I cannot wait for the day D&D gets out and realizes more systems is better for narrative replication.
 

BryonD

Adventurer
Do you believe that the fighter, the rogue, and the barbarian should all be the same class? Because in 3.5 they are far more similar than those powers. So is samey something you consider entirely inherent to D&D?
This seems a really odd comment considering this history of 4E debates.
One of the mainstays of these "conversations" was "+ 1/2 level is awesome because it fixes the disconnects between the classes".

It went on and on that "every barbarian learns about magic over the course of his career", "every wizard would OBVIOUSLY learn to swim and climb or they would never survive to 10th level", "3.5 fighters can't sneak and they can't be diplomatic, so every encounter is forced to be frontal assault". The list went on and on. 3X was proclaimed a failure on these points entirely because classes could easily do things that were impossible for other classes to do. 4E fixed this by making everyone at least pretty good at everything. (aka - they were brought much closer to "the same")

And, here is the thing: If THESE are important issues to you - I accept that. If those are deal-breaker issues, or even just a fairly big deal, then 3X is NOT the game for you. I think 3X is awesome. I see these differences as a really big selling point. The removal of this boon is on the list of reasons I avoided 4E. But I don't confuse MY preference as being something that is in any way relevant to your point of view.
 
They likely choose that power either because it was powerful or not samey. So by using the foundation of what people actually played with you actually are already sifting to most of the less samey and/or powerful powers. Not surprisingly most of your list is still extradionarily samey for you to have done that.
And as mentioned the scale you are using makes fireball samey to a sword swing. The in game effect doesn't matter to you. The damage doesn't matter to you. The number of targets doesn't matter to you. How it's done doesn't matter to you. Therefore a sword swing is literally the same as fireball.

Yes. And there ought to be a sufficient level of differentiation to make most things that would be samey be different. This is accomplished in 5e in dramatic ways between the barbarian/rogue/fighter classes.
Um... no.

In 4e a Barbarian swings exactly the same way as a fighter. In 4e a rogue swings in the same way as a fighter

In 4e that differentiation rested the shoulders of push 2 or pull 2 or grant +2 to attack, etc. In 5e that differentiation is Rage/Reckless,
Attacking with rage is a literal +2 bonus to the damage roll. In other words a tiny bonus to the attack. Reckless is a bit bigger - but it doesn't do one single thing to change the possible range of outcomes. This is not just the stuff you would complain about as samey if it was presented as a power, but samier than most at will attack powers.

Push 2 does more to change the way the fight looks than rage does even when you have a boring DM who doesn't include much scenery to interact with. And Rage is a Daily power. At first level a 4e barbarian doesn't just rage, they get to decide how they rage. Whether it's getting a free attack whenever they take an enemy down, gaining temporary hit points when they hit an enemy as they psych themselves up, or whatever. Meanwhile all 5e rages are the same and literally do what you complain that 4e at wills do.

If you're wondering the 4e version of Reckless Attack is Devastating Strike - a Barbarian at will that does an extra 1d8 damage per tier but gives the enemy +2 to attack rolls against you unless you are raging. As is so often the case the concept is there in 4e but 5e threw some spackle on it.

Action Surge/Lots of Attacks,
W00t. You mean literal "We do the same as everyone else but more."

Sneak Attack/Cunning Action.
Sneak Attack appeared in 3e and 4e.

5e's differentiation in how characters play round over round is to a much greater degree than 4e's formulaic differentiation.
Literally the reverse of this is true. Without the movement on the abilities characters walk up to the enemies and play patty-cake until one of them falls. Some roll a few more

In 4e the difference between a fighter and a barbarian is not just the powers (which are different) but the fact that all fighters have the equivalent of the Sentinel feat and always mark their targets. This is far more than "we do the same but more often". It is "we engage the enemies and lock them down".

In 4e all rogues get Sneak Attack (an ability that was introduced in 3.0). The difference is Cunning Action which allows Dash, Disengage, or Hide. Disengage is "shift 1" in 4e terms - something a lot of 4e powers had but most did not. Both Dash and Hide are covered by movement - and both dash and hide are therefore covered literally by the at will I listed, allowing you to move before attacking.

Even with the examples you listed 5e's tiny amount of differentiation is covered within the scope of the 4e class features and at wills. Which leaves 5e combat classes as the equivalent of airline food after the plethora of options of 4e.

Now find me the 5e rogue able to blind enemies. At level 1.

Further the 5e sneak attack was watered down as against the 3.5 and 4e versions (at least until the thief with Tactical Trick). In 3.5 and 4e alike the rogues have to put in a little work to get Sneak Attack to work, so they are moving and looking for an advantage which may or may not last. In 5e because sneak attack triggers against anyone next to an ally of the rogue the rogue can (like everyone else) waddle up to the enemies and play patty-cake until they fall just as long as they are beside someone. The combat situation does not change from round to round in the same way.

Now you are zooming out to far. Just like anything you want to call samey I could zoom in so far on that there's nothing samey about it.
I'm zooming out to the point where the explicit differences you have mentioned are all samey.

I think there are different degrees of differentiation that affects perceptions on sameyness. 5e has a much higher degree of differentiation.
No it doesn't. Cunning Action is covered by at will abilities. 5e fighters do not come with something that goes way beyond the Sentinel feat. 5e Rage is literally the definition of what you say makes 4e powers samey. The examples you give are objectively smaller than 4e differences even when you stick to at will abilities.

The reason you think 5e classes are more different is because they present medium sized differences covered in neon paint. 4e presents big differences and shows you the structure rather than covering it up. And in almost every case where 5e has a difference that doesn't involve spells it was in 4e.
 
4E was all about "the math works". And no matter how long your list that EXACT SAME MATH was always there.
Imagine if the game had said something like:

"You get two actions per turn, but no more than one can be spent attacking. Your other action can cause a variety of effects based on your class.

"Every character is effective at some sort of weapon. For example, a martial character can wield a variety of weapons, and an arcane character can create a variety of energy attacks, each of which do similar damage. However fighters can be good at shoving, sundering, and bantering, while wizards are able to panic creatures, create areas of fire, or distract foes with illusions.

"Each class also has a few abilities that require both actions and are strong, but have some restriction on use. For example, a fighter's Delimbing Strike only works on bloodied targets, while a wizard's Fireball can only be cast once per day."

Like, foreground the similarity of damage. And as people said, don't use the solid blocks of color in big boxes to showcase powers. Either put them in more natural language, or really step up the layout. Add some textures that feel like fantasy - rusted steel, silk, marble, scrolls, etc. Do more to visually distinguish different types of abilities.
 
And as mentioned the scale you are using makes fireball samey to a sword swing. The in game effect doesn't matter to you. The damage doesn't matter to you. The number of targets doesn't matter to you. How it's done doesn't matter to you. Therefore a sword swing is literally the same as fireball.
We have went back and forth a bunch and this literally has never been my argument.
 

BryonD

Adventurer
Imagine if the game had said something like:
Shrug.
You are going back to the presentation angle. Which, honestly, has a shallow tone to it.

I'm talking about how the mechanics play at the table.
The phrase "the math works" isn't in the mechanics. It is a statement of game philosophy and it resonates throughout the experience. And that consistency of math DOES feel "consistent".

A move and a standard does not have this reputation. (Nobody is out there complaining that 3X is saddled with the unfair standard/move canard or meme)

Yes, swinging a sword and casting a fireball are different. I lead with that.
And, yes, every turn in 3X each character gets a move and standard. That is "the same".
And yet neither of these points address the relative sameness that has been described.

And, if you love 4E then AWESOME.
 
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