I'm not saying he was a doofus - I'm saying that throwing any enemy at a party where 4/5 or 5/6 or 6/7 of all attacks are at -5 with no good way to counter it is a bad idea. (Especially if the fight is non-threatening enough you weren't under any pressure to retreat. )
I don't think it was a bad idea to throw an invisible angel of doom at the party.
I think it was a failure in the rule system to support that awesome idea in a way that was a lot of fun. In this instance, the interaction of 4e allowing you to hyper-specialize (few area attacks) plus the 4e invisibility mechanic (-5 to hit), plus the 4e crowd control mechanisms (marking and teleporting and the like to avoid spreading around damage means some characters were full while others were near death), plus the robustness of 4e characters, plus the action economy, topped with a light dusting of 4e Stealth insanity (the distinction between "invisible" and "hidden" is remarkably counter-intuitive), made for fight that took longer than it probably should've.
I mean, D&D is a complex game, and there's always going to be unforeseen interactions in the rules, and this was certainly one of them. I'm not particularly trying to single out 4e has The One Edition With All The Problems or anything. I'm just saying that the system does bear responsibility for this. It legit happened, it's a legit problem, and even if some groups have completely avoided the problem, it doesn't mean that I have a uniquely accident-prone DM or anything. Because D&D is complex, different groups can have different experiences with the same system, since no group exists in isolation. Some continents will evolve kangaroos, and other continents will not. Doesn't mean that kangaroos are imaginary (and it also doesn't mean kangaroos are ubiquitous). And while the Hypothetical Good DM might not've fallen prey to this particular pitfall, the Hypotehtical Good DM is not much of a defense of the system. I can't really accept it for folks defending 3e spellcasters as fine, and I can't really accept it for folks defending 4e grindfests as fine, either. Neither of these things are fine, even if you or I have never personally encountered one or the other. And they are both system problems, not just DM problems. Your DM plays favorites, that's a DM problem. Your DM fails to see the subtle interactions of a -5 penalty to attack rolls due to nigh-constant total concealment, that's...I mean, the system at LEAST has the problem that it's demanding DMs know its subtle interactions to an encyclopedic degree.
What sort of monster was it? Or was it homebrew? I'm curious because I want to make sure I never use them
I honestly don't know (ahh, re-skinning). But I don't think every party would have the same problems with that monster that we did. A -5 penalty to hit on melee and ranged attacks doesn't necessarily need to lead to a 3-hour-plus fight. That's part of the subtlety that makes stuff like this hard to predict, and why I can't easily accept "Your DM Dun Messed Up!" as an explanation.
ghts in 4e don't typically take several hours to resolve. If they are for your group (and that's the generic you - no one in specific) then it might be time to take a look at encounter design
I don't know what we're paying the professional designers for if a DM can't take an invisible monster or a monster that drains strength (or both!) and throw it at the party without taking a community college course on D&D-specific vagaries of encounter design. That's too high of an entry barrier.
If you're regularly hitting combats like that than either your DM favors the "one epic battle" approach ...<snip>... or you're doing something terrible.
OR, certain complex system interactions occasionally produce an unforeseen consequence of extended time spend on some battles.
I mean, personally, I'm of the school of thought that thinks that even when 4e combats "go right," they last too frickin' long, but it's not just a simple issue of mistaken DMing that creates 4e grind. It's something systemic. Not universal or constant, not perhaps avoidable with an attentive DM, but something that happens and unexpectedly spikes the encounter time. It isn't mythical, it isn't impossible, it isn't a fault
, it's the game not doing what it should be doing.
And yes, the invisible teleporting monster was a great example of bad battle design. As a recharge power on a solo, that could have been a truly epic fight (invisible, teleport, setup some huge attack, etc.) but as a power on an elite it's just silly.
I'd say it's a deeper problem with system design which enables a potentially cool battle with a big invisible teleporting monstrosity to be about 6-9 turns too long.
Just like I'd say its a system design problem that turns a potentially cool trio of spells into The Win Button for some encounters in some groups.
I'm not trying to say "4e combats are always big grinds that are boring to everyone except idiots."
I AM trying to say "The 4e grind phenomenon does exist, and it's not just a result of simple incompetence."
You don't need to claim that the author is being dishonest or unreliable here. They're being honest and reliable. That happens. Even to decent players and decent DMs. If 5e can avoid that (and it looks like it can!), it'll be an improvement, at least in this respect.