Grind

What is your experience with Grind?

  • I have never experienced Grind and neither has my fellow players.

    Votes: 20 18.7%
  • I have never experienced Grind but some of my fellow players used to when we first started playing.

    Votes: 4 3.7%
  • I have never experienced Grind but some of my fellow players sometimes do.

    Votes: 3 2.8%
  • I have never experienced Grind but some of my fellow players often do.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I used to experience Grind when we first started playing but my fellow players do not.

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • I used to experience Grind when we first started playing and so did some of my fellow players.

    Votes: 11 10.3%
  • I used to exp Grind when we first started playing but some of my fellow players sometimes still do.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I used to exp Grind when we first started playing but some of my fellow players often still do.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I sometimes experience Grind but my fellow players do not.

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • I sometimes experience Grind and some of my fellow players used to when we first started playing.

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • I sometimes experience Grind and so do some of my fellow players.

    Votes: 42 39.3%
  • I sometimes experience Grind but some of my fellow players often do.

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • I often experience Grind but my fellow players do not.

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • I often experience Grind but some of my fellow players used to when we first started playing.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I often experience Grind but some of my fellow players only sometimes do.

    Votes: 3 2.8%
  • I often experience Grind and so do some of my fellow players.

    Votes: 19 17.8%

Benimoto

First Post
Sure, but it sounds like you have bookkeeping elements that are adding more time than they are saving.

I have to agree. It sounds like you've invented or adopted a visual indicator system, decided that it's necessary, and now are complaining that it takes too much time and that it's the system's fault.

That said, my players are similarly obsessed with putting little rings over all the minis. How we handle it is generally having the player responsible for the conditions add or remove rings after their turn is done and we're on to the next player. When a monster is bloodied, I announce it, and someone who is not taking their turn right now adds the little ring. Players being bloodied is not as important really, but since it's somewhat helpful in keeping track of the flow of the battle, people update the rings on their minis, again preferably not on their actual turn.

Going back a few pages to the poll results, I chose that I "sometimes" experience grind. I would like to clarify that by "sometimes" I mean infrequently, and that it hasn't been a problem in my campaign.
 

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KarinsDad

Adventurer
Well, it appears that Grind is alive and well in 4E with less than 40% of respondents not really experiencing Grind anymore, but with over 60% still experiencing it, at least on occasion.

27.8% never experience Grind
11.4% used to experience Grind
35.4% sometimes experience Grind
25.3% often experience Grind


With regard to the perception of the respondents to their fellow players, it appears that Grind is slightly more prevalent. Often and never are actually tied at the moment here.

21.5% never experience Grind
15.2% used to experience Grind
41.8% sometimes experience Grind
21.5% often experience Grind

Respondents:

23.8% never experience Grind
10.3% used to experience Grind
36.5% sometimes experience Grind
29.4% often experience Grind

Fellow Players:

20.6% never experience Grind
13.5% used to experience Grind
39.7% sometimes experience Grind
26.2% often experience Grind

Both respondents and fellow players are now at 34.1% never or used to, and65.9% sometimes or often.
 

KarinsDad

Adventurer
That said, my players are similarly obsessed with putting little rings over all the minis. How we handle it is generally having the player responsible for the conditions add or remove rings after their turn is done and we're on to the next player. When a monster is bloodied, I announce it, and someone who is not taking their turn right now adds the little ring. Players being bloodied is not as important really, but since it's somewhat helpful in keeping track of the flow of the battle, people update the rings on their minis, again preferably not on their actual turn.

We actually tend to have one player (with assistance from others often) handle the plastic rings. As DM, I rarely handle the plastic rings either.

But even so, while any given player is doing this, the game does come to a momentary stop. At least ours does. It is difficult for the DM or another player to start moving a mini and explaining actions while another player is messing with one or more minis. It's just a physical inconvenience that is better handled once the previous set of changes are finished.


We also have one player handle initiative.

We have a few specific more capable players handle a second PC when a player is missing.

And we sometimes have a player handle mini movement for other players if those other players are far from their miniature.


We do have an issue with 7 people around a table and not all 7 can easily reach the miniatures, so we would be unable to implement a "the player responsible for the conditions add or remove rings after their turn is done" system like you use.
 

Dr_Ruminahui

First Post
In my 2 groups (I DM 1, and play in 1), we have a designated "ring tracker" - its their job to maintain the various rings (we also use soda cap rings, though we use paper clips for marks). If you use the same person every week, the DM doesn't need to be involved in the process at all - other than stating the effects given out and when monsters become bloodied - and it really speeds things up. I highly recommend it.

That said, I do agree that tracking conditions is much more important than in previous editions, and also takes more time. However, I feel the game is much tighter in other areas, so my opinion is that the game isn't any grindier than previous editions, its just the tightness the overall design that makes us more aware of it.

Also due to the tightness of the design, anything that either isn't contemplated in the rules (for example, changing how minions work) or that isn't dealt with well (giving monsters healing based on surge amounts, monsters with both insubstantial and the ability to weaken) likely has a bigger effect than it would in previous systems. That said, I would imagine giving trolls cleric levels (for healing and elemental resistance) in the previous would likely have had similar results.

Perhaps the biggest game design change that might increase grind, and one mentioned by KD, is that in 4e one's ability to nova is severly decreased. Previously, if things began to drag, the players could typically whip out some consumable and end things with it. That said, for groups like mine who are hoarders and don't tend to use such things, the difference in editions is not as great as it might be for other groups. Additionally, encounters that grind are typically low challenge ones, so groups in all editions are less likely to use up resources ending them, which again may make this factor less important than it might otherwise appear.
 

firesnakearies

Explorer
Going back a few pages to the poll results, I chose that I "sometimes" experience grind. I would like to clarify that by "sometimes" I mean infrequently, and that it hasn't been a problem in my campaign.


This exactly, for me too. I chose "sometimes" but really I meant "hardly ever" and it's not really an issue of concern.
 

MrMyth

First Post
So, your rational is that since you don't care about it, other players and DMs shouldn't either.

Our players are a bit more tactical than that.

Ok, please take a step back, and take a careful look at your response. I am not sure how my post inspired these statements - both the false presentation of my rational and the underhanded insult at my players. What I was trying to do was simply offer some perspective from my own games, and some suggestions on what might be possible causes of the bookkeeping problems in yours and ways around it.

Like Benimoto said, it sounded like you are really committed to the visual indicator of conditions, and to the idea that all of these elements are vital to represent at every single moment. My questions about how often the bloodied effect is relevant, my comments about whether other players really needed to track who the striker's target was... these weren't statements that you should never use such an approach. They were simply genuine questions, to maybe keep an eye on whether it comes up often enough to be worth the effort to constantly track. To maybe try not worrying about tracking that for a week, and see whether it makes a difference either way.

You feel it is vital for your group? That's your call to make, absolutely. But I wasn't criticizing. I wasn't claiming you were playing wrong. I was giving an honest suggestion that I thought was relevant to the discussion. I'm not sure how that triggered the response you gave, and if anything genuinely came across as antagonistic, then... hey, my bad, I apologize. But rather than risk this conversation degenerating any further, I think I'm done here.

My final thoughts - yes, even just 30% of players experiencing grind is an issue. I am always eager to see more solutions to avoiding this problem. I don't think the issue is entirely rooted in the mechanics, and I think removing the mechanics that are related would do more harm than good. But there is always room for improvement in the rules, and the conversation is certainly worth having.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Like Benimoto said, it sounded like you are really committed to the visual indicator of conditions

MyMyth made a good reply (which I'm not really quoting here, the quote is for the follow up point), so I think its important to keep the debate to facts and personal experiences and try to be as objective as possible when discussing whether there is an issue present.

I can say that from my own experience I have tried running the game both with and without visual indicators...and for me it simply was not possible without them. I was frequently forgetting conditions or which monsters had them applied. My group now uses tiny colored die to do our tracking.

That said, the visual die can be a chore, and that bookkeeping aspect definitely leads to increase combat time.


However, my personal take on grind is fairly separated from combat length. I personally don't believe grindy combats and long combats go hand in hand (with some exceptions, a 1 round combat no matter how pointless can't really be considered a grind imo it just goes by too quickly).

To me, grind is combat without purpose pure and simple. With that definition I think there are aspects of 4e mechanics that can enhance this issue, though aren't necessarily the sole cause.

1) Focus on Defense instead of Offense with levels. In 3e edition, offense scaled quicker than defense. At high levels you were frequently hitting and doing lots of damage. The goal was to kill your opponent before he killls you. This can lead to very swingy combats, but it tends to keep combats interesting.

In 4e, defense often scales quicker than offense. Monsters can endure numerous attacks, but don't themselves often give out a ton of damage. As such there can come a point when a monster is no longer a threat, but is not in immediate danger of dying itself. That is when the grind flag might be raised.

2) Removal of attrition removes the consequences of the last rounds of combat. In 3e, you had more resources that could run out (smites, rages, spells, healing etc). Now granted, with the wands of lesser vigor the healing part went away (though its still a money drain at the sweet spot levels), but the concept was a fight even if won could have a longer effect by draining a party's resources.

4e's combat focus much more on each encounter, with the player getting a general reset of their abilities after each fight. There are still some resources that are expended (such as dailies) but for the most part you get everything back. The main aspect here may be the healing surge. At least in my games (which generally have at least one leader) party members just don't run out of surges. So taking damage is in one aspect completely pointless if its not enough to put you under.

3) Less swingy combats reduce the dangers of final rounds. This one goes hand in hand with point 1. Because in 3e, offense was greater than defense, even the last monster could be a threat if he got off a lucky crit or that one spell you just roll a 1 on the saving throw. In 4e, a party can expect a reliable amount of pain delivered to them each round (especially since monster crits are often very weak compared to player ones).

Because the pain is reliable it can be managed, which can greatly reduce the danger a party member faces and ultimately the feeling that the final rounds are simply pointless.



Overall i feel that there are ways to build encounters to reduce or eliminate the grind aspect (I wrote the antigrind guide for that exact reason), but I the poll does show enough concern about grind that it may be more than simply an encounter management issue, and perhaps there are some mechanical aspects that could be examined.
 

KarinsDad

Adventurer
Ok, please take a step back, and take a careful look at your response. I am not sure how my post inspired these statements - both the false presentation of my rational and the underhanded insult at my players. What I was trying to do was simply offer some perspective from my own games, and some suggestions on what might be possible causes of the bookkeeping problems in yours and ways around it.

I apologize if I offended you.

My intent was to point out that 4E tactics basically require visual cues. Audio cues seem agonizingly slow and interrupt the DM. The players need to know what is going on and so does the DM.

Claiming that the game can be played with statuses not being visually available to the players and without slowing the game down seems suspect.

If the player needs to know status information, s/he would need to ask the DM over and over again: "Is this one bloodied? Is that one bloodied? Is that the one we stunned, or is this the one we stunned?". And unlike your claim to the contrary, bloodied is an extremely important status to know for focus fire.

I cannot imagine the players repeatedly asking the DM questions is faster than putting a token on a miniature. This is precisely why software like Maptools allows for many different condition markings on creatures.

In fact, players often asking the DM status questions can also result in the DM being overwhelmed. He has enough on his plate without 20 questions added to it. That's why many groups farm out chores to the players that the players can handle like Initiative, and Visual Statuses. The DM has enough going on without having to handle these as well.

So my point stands that your position of "if players need to know the status of an enemy, they can ask" seems extremely suspect. It just adds one more chore to the DM's list and would seem to slow down the game and result in misunderstandings, expecially if a player doesn't think to ask.

"If I would have known that Hobgoblin #4 was bloodied, I wouldn't have attacked Hobgoblin #5. Who besides the Fighter even hit Hobgoblin #4? Oh, the Sorcerer. I forgot that."

I can say that from my own experience I have tried running the game both with and without visual indicators...and for me it simply was not possible without them. I was frequently forgetting conditions or which monsters had them applied. My group now uses tiny colored die to do our tracking.

That said, the visual die can be a chore, and that bookkeeping aspect definitely leads to increase combat time.

This is my experience as well.

However, my personal take on grind is fairly separated from combat length. I personally don't believe grindy combats and long combats go hand in hand (with some exceptions, a 1 round combat no matter how pointless can't really be considered a grind imo it just goes by too quickly).

To me, grind is combat without purpose pure and simple.

I consider lengthy combats to be one contributing factor.

Combat without purpose can be a contributing factor.

One or more slow players (or anything which causes individual rounds to be long) can be a contributing factor.

Excessive bookkeeping can be a contributing factor.

Players who cannot really play their PCs (e.g. Stun, or Immobilized for a melee PC) can be a contributing factor, at least for those players.

A lackluster or uninteresting encounter can be one contributing factor, etc.


The more of these types of elements which can contribute to grind, the more likely the encounter will become grindy for one or more people.

And, it does not have to be grindy for everyone at the table for it to be grindy. I joined a Champions group (an hour plus from my home, so it was a substantial distance to play) and a slightly over one turn (about 6 or so rounds in D&D terms) encounter took 4+ hours to play. The DM was writing stuff down behind his screen and it took 1 to 2 minutes after every single PC and NPC's turn. Or, the DM was looking up a rule. Or, someone was telling a story. It went on and on.

The DM did not consider it grindy. He considered it a lot of fun. I was falling asleep at my chair.

So, I posted in the group blog a few suggestions on how to speed up an encounter. The DM got all ticked off, especially when a few other players chimed in that combat was pretty darn slow. The entire group ended up disbanding over it cause there were a few other players who had been resenting this for a long time and just never spoke up on it. I felt bad that they broke up, but there was no way that I was traveling 2.5 hours round trip, just to be put to sleep by a slow DM (it's not just players that are slow).

I often remember this incident when my game starts to bog down. I go out of my way to speed it up, make it more fun for my players, and try to keep an eye out for players who appear to be bored or restless. It's not just combat without purpose. Lots of different things can add to grind. And what is grindy to one person in a given situation might not be grindy to another.
 

keterys

First Post
I play in a lot of different groups and I see a lot of stuff...

In some groups, we've got players who don't remember their own action last turn, nor what powers they have or what they do.
In some groups, the DM doesn't realize stuff is marked, even when it was marked the last two rounds and still has a mark on it.

In other groups, we don't bother to put down marks, because the DM remembers them unless something odd happens and then will quickly roll with a "I've got him marked this turn".

Some players, I remind what bonuses they have, every single time they attack. Including basic stuff, like 'And you're flanking, +2' and 'That's below your minimum roll, did you carry the 10?'.

Some I had to effectively force to calculate their damage on their sheet, cause otherwise they'd add it up from scratch every time. Even easy stuff like Dice + Enh + Stat. Don't know why.

Some have to use a calculator to do crits like 5d12 + 25.

I've sat down at an adventure where the single biggest time delay on every combat was the DM reading the encounter and creatures, at the table.

The system has some problems that can contribute to grind, most certainly. But as far as I can tell, there's _so much_ that is on the side of the player or DM that can be done.

In terms of systemic stuff - if you're having trouble with grind and you don't want to take the time or sufficient level of analysis to carefully consider encounters. Avoid the following:
* Weaken
* Healing
* Stun
* The ability to daze, restrain, or immobilize more than 2 rounds per combat
* Solos more than 2 levels over the party
* Elites more than 3 levels over the party

And use plenty of:
* Artillery
* Skirmishers
* Minions (you don't need to count them as full xp)

Those are faster dying, faster damaging elements where you can see results quickly on both sides, instead of reducing to a punching bag.

If you don't like certain items and feats that speed up the game, consider just giving those bonuses out for free. For example, a +1/tier feat bonus to hit and +2/tier item bonus to damage.
 

firesnakearies

Explorer
However, my personal take on grind is fairly separated from combat length. I personally don't believe grindy combats and long combats go hand in hand (with some exceptions, a 1 round combat no matter how pointless can't really be considered a grind imo it just goes by too quickly).

A great post, Stalker0. This matches my own experience.
 

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