D&D 4E Edition Experience - Did/Do You Play 4th Edition D&D? How Was/Is it?

How Did/Do You Feel About 4th Edition D&D

  • I'm playing it right now; I'll have to let you know later.

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  • I'm playing it right now and so far, I don't like it.

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I played almost every edition of D&D from the Holmes Boxed Set to the 5e. The only one I skipped entirely was 4e. When it came out I sat down and read someone else's copy and promptly gave it back. I could tell that it wasn't something I ever wanted to play, and I haven't. I have watched other people play it, read long articles about why some particular author loved it, etc., but nothing has ever made me want to give it a try.

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I first played AD&D way back in the day... but I quickly turned to all the other roleplaying games in the 1980s which seemed to offer much more fun (not all of them did): Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, Rolemaster, Bushido, White Wolf, etc.

4E was what brought me back to D&D after many years. After reading the basic rules in an afternoon, I understood the entire system. Everything else was just tweaks and exceptions and variations on those basic rules. Running it was a dream: in twenty years I had never had the confidence to run more than a few poor sessions for a handful of friends, but now I could easily run fantastic campaigns for a group which sometimes swelled to seven or eight players.

All the epic stuff tickled my funnybone: "Once per day, when you die..."


This is actually what kept me from running 5E for a very long time. In 4E, I enjoyed DMing. No edition of D&D has provided such good, reliable tools, guidelines and information for the DM. Possibly no RPG ever has, actually. 5E, which I like a lot, certainly does not. The encounter-building and monster-design particularly are far less brilliant than they were in 4E (though still streets ahead of 3.XE). The only other player who liked DMing was away for most of 4E, so I had a great time being the DM all the time.

With 5E, I've had an okay time DMing, but it's not been as fun/engaging as 4E (where it was literally fun to prepare adventures). Fortunately, with me less keen to DM, one of the other players stepped up, and then the other long-time DM (my brother) came back, and also one of my friends wanted to run a separate campaign for some of us. So now I continue the old campaign occasionally, but am having huge fun playing in other campaigns. These things work out I guess.
Can't agree more. 4e was fantastic in that regard. Useful, easy to use tools, clear math, good tables, solid DM advice. I feel like running 4e has made me a far superior DM and game content designer.
All the tricks I learned from DMing 4e are still incredibly useful to me while running 5e.


Played 4e for most of its run. 4e introduced me to Dark Sun through a very good DM and an extremely memorable campaign.

Also it was a time when, like @CleverNickName , I climbed up my own bum on the forums and got into way, way too many arguments. :p

But, like others, I agree - 5e takes some of the best parts of 4e and 3e and earlier editions and made them great. Super easy on the DM, but, also, super fast in play.

I guess I would say that 4e had a very large impact on how I approach D&D.


Small God of the Dozens
I read it, but it never appealed to me. Even during 3.X I was already starting to lean away from crunch heavy games and was looking for something else. There's nothing wrong with 4E at all, but it wasn't what I was looking for. Part of that was probably D&D fatigue I suppose, as I was also really interested in other magic systems that were more narrative and free form, like Mage and Ars Magica.


Biological Disaster
4E was hands down my favorite edition of D&D to run. WotC tried a lot of interesting things with that edition, and while some didn't work, on the whole it was more hits than misses.
Finally having an official system for inherent bonuses allowed me to get away from +1/+2/+3/+4/+5/blahblahblah weapons and armor, which is one thing that I quickly grew to hate about 3.x. Monsters having their combat roles explicitly listed made it so much simpler for me to throw together fun encounters on the fly, and healing surges FINALLY capped daily healing.

I still think that without the needlessly antagonistic ad campaign it would have gone over a lot better. The monster math fix not happening until MM3 didn't help either.


As a wargamer since the early 80s I was on board with 4e from the start. I love the clarity of it all. Minions, clear monster roles. It was easy to build engaging encounters.

Paradoxically, the end result was that it became too much of a wargame. Players were constantly arguing on which order to trigger powers, wanted to change powers at end or beginning of each session because they felt they had made a suboptimal choice. The creature stat blocks were getting longer. I felt I was playing a wargame against four other opponents.

I was increasingly tired at the end of each session as they gained levels. At first I thought I was getting too old to DM. I never felt that before. I decided to play other rpgs and I didn't feel the same level of fatigue as with 4e D&D. I stopped playing D&D.

The publishing schedule was on steroids and far too segmented. Too much of a cash grab by Hasbro for my taste. I used to opportunity to read and play other rpgs that were collecting dust on the shelves. I played less often but had more fun.

I don't see myself playing 4e again. I came back to D&D because of 5e. For me, it captures the sweet spot between 2e and 3e. I'm really not into playing again older versions of D&D (before 3e). Those are in the past for me. 80s nostalgia has no hold on me.
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I spent 2008-2012 avoiding 4E because my initial impression was I probably wouldn't like it. I finally tried it in early 2013. Unfortunately, it only confirmed my first impression. As someone who played 1E, 2E and 3E the change in 4E was too jarring. All the classes felt like they were the same. There was a better power balance between the classes compared to 3.X but I was bored. The spells I had always had so much fun with seemed flavorless and didn't transport my imagination.

I would have dropped out but by then news about 5E was circulating. So I stuck around. I'm glad I did. :)


Biological Disaster
I never really played the Essentials set. Can anybody who did comment on how they felt to play and run for compared to the original classes? From a quick browse, it did feel like they were more distinct than the original classes (not a value judgement).
But man, trying to figure out whether the Essentials were "D&D 4.5" or just more splat books was... difficult.

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