4E I'll say one thing for 4E... It is more accessible.

Having gotten back from my best friend's wedding over the weekend when 4E was released (my most munchkin player, too!), I finally got my hands on 4E yesterday and have been reading through it. I'm not going to bore you all with some sort of lengthy proper review, but I have to admit, some of what I felt was negative or limiting - actually turned out to be distinctly beneficial.

Specifically, 4E seems like it's really genuinely good for a new player, or a player who doesn't want to do too much work (which is to say, half of my players).

The combination of using the standard array as the "default" system, together with the clear "this race is good at these classes", further combined with the "here's two default builds for this class", instead of being limiting, really seems to allow players to slam a character together in OD&D-like time, and a character that they're excited about and interested by at that. As an example, my wife, who was put off by the complexity of 3.XE, and the "frontload" of information it required you to absorb to make a solid character, was able to put together a Dwarf Cleric in no time at all, and was distinctly pleased with it.

Once the players are "hooked" that way, it looks like they're going to presented with further options at very good but controlled pace, and that they will end up with a lot of powerful abilities, but will not end up being overwhelmed. This is quite an achievement.
 

Storminator

Visitor
My son (not quite 9) whipped up a character really quick, just following the guidelines in the PHB. I did type it up as he went tho.

But dang slick easy.

PS
 

Cadfan

Visitor
Agreed. After a weekend of laying about reading my new D&D books and chatting amiably with my fiance whenever I found something cool or funny, she gave a HUGE SIGH, declared that I was turning her into the BIGGEST NERD EVER, then took my PHB and ran off and made her first character. She's created a handful at this point, mostly just to try out ideas and see how they work. The array and the sections of the book that discuss what races and classes go well together were invaluable for her, because they let her craft characters without knowing all the rules details. The other thing that I think really helped was the skill system. I think she'd have had analysis paralysis if faced with the 3e skill system, but the 4e system, where all you do is pick a handful of skills you want to be good at, was an absolute breeze for her.

For the record, her first, and favorite character is an elf ranger who fights with two bastard swords. She saw that she could have two swords, that there were no limits on how big the swords could be, she saw the picture of the bastard swords, and it was love.
 

Larrin

Entropic Good
I agree, my wife went with me to D&D game day, and positively owned the white dragon for the first half of the battle (she had no previous experience) she said it was much easier to understand that she'd though it might be. She was able to pick up on the characters tactics and abilities quickly and use them well. then she took an icy breath to the face (critical), and her character started needing back up (and medical attention) but she still had a lot of fun, and i think would be up for playing more 4e.

She hasn't done anything with my PHB, and i doubt she will much unless we actually get involved in a game somewhere, but i think she wouldn't really be intimidated about it if she had to.
 

Mirtek

Adventurer
Ruin Explorer said:
Specifically, 4E seems like it's really genuinely good for a new player, or a player who doesn't want to do too much work (which is to say, half of my players).
Actually I can't agree with that. To me it's one of the more complicated editions.

Even going from 2e to 3e I had almost immediately an idea how to build my fighter after the first reading of the class.

Now I have read the fighter a dozend times and still have no clue. Especially in combination with the high ability requirements of the 4e feats.

So some classes may have become easier, but for someone like me, who always played melee classes, the game became much more complicated
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
Mirtek said:
Even going from 2e to 3e I had almost immediately an idea how to build my fighter after the first reading of the class.
That makes it sound like you're not a new player though?
 

Lizard

Visitor
Ruin Explorer said:
The combination of using the standard array as the "default" system, together with the clear "this race is good at these classes", further combined with the "here's two default builds for this class", instead of being limiting, really seems to allow players to slam a character together in OD&D-like time, and a character that they're excited about and interested by at that.
Whereas one of the people in my group is put off by the fact he can't make an "interesting" (non-standard) character, that, basically, character building is done for him.

His comment was "It's like playing Magic using only pre-built decks."

It's a good point.

In D&D, the tactical focus has shifted from "deck building" to "deck playing" -- you have more choices on the field and fewer choices off. For some people, this is a win. For others, it's a lose. For a lot of gamers -- the people who WOTC wants to sell to -- *character building is a game in itself*. We're the people who spent hours designing starships in Traveller, heroes in Champions, etc. Excising the builder/tinkerer audience from the game may or may not be a good marketing move, depending on how popular that playstyle is. This isn't about "power gaming" or "munchkining", it's about having fun playing with the system to see what you can do with it, about coming up with a concept and then making it work according to the rules. 4e says, "Here are your concepts. Pick one." Customization is very limited; boolean skills, small selections of powers, etc. While some 3x classes are now a lot more customizable -- Paladins, for example -- most are less. Clerics lack Domains (and most of their spells), Wizards lack specialization, fighter builds are greatly restricted (no more brawlers, fencers, or knights, for instance), rangers no longer have favored enemy, no one has pets/companions, etc.

"But now no one sucks!"

Perhaps. But no one is special, unique, or interesting, either. And if playing a character who feels like one-of-a-kind isn't one of the main edges D&D has over MMORPGS, what is?

"Personality isn't mechanics!"

Yeah, and you can give your Night Elf Hunter all the personality you want in WoW; mechanically, he's still the same as anyone else following the flavor-of-the-month build, wearing the same armor, etc. Good game design has mechanics reflect personality, turning it into something which comes into actual play.
 
On the other hand, each character only gets one selection from each level of powers (except for wizard). So there will be a lot of variation, especially towards the high end. I do agree that each class seems to allow less concepts by default, but multiclassing feats seems to cover a lot of that.

Guess I'll see what it is like in play.

Clerics are a big issue with me. They should have gone with domains/spheres and then associated the feats with that. As it stands now it will be harder to say, just use the Greek pantheon without at least making one feat per god.

Of course this leads me to point the 2nd. I plan on keeping all of my 3.5 stuff. I'd love to move some of the 4e stuff backwards (alignment, skills, monster construction, how playing monsters as pcs works, etc) but I am not overly excited at the idea of Pathfinder really being a new RPG that is not truly compatible with all the 3.5 stuff I already have.

So if I hate 4e (which is unlikely) or sometimes feel like something a bit more "simmy" (which is much more likely) I can always go back to my old friend with its Hexblades and Dread Necromancers. :)

Edit: My prediction is that since balancing is really done through power selection at each level and the separation of dailiy/encounter/at will/utility is that a lot of customization will come through feats, especially as new items are released through DDI.
 
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I don't really get this Lizard, if your mate was willing to play a sub-optimum character for flavours sake in 3e why not in 4e?
If you want to be a dwarven rogue, or an elven paladin or a dragonborn wizard, or a whatever there is nothing to prevent this.
I dinnie ken yer logic.
 
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Cadfan

Visitor
Can we please not destroy this thread? Lizard's opinions on whether "D&D is Magic the Gathering now!" would not be germane, even if they were rational.
 

Mustrum_Ridcully

Adventurer
In before the "come to the Dark Side" comment! ;)

When they said it was easy for new players to pick it up, they meant it.

To Lizards post on "building" characters.

I am willing to agree that the "tweak-options" are in many ways less then in 3E. But I think there is a lot of customization to be done when creating characters. The (suggested) builds are no where as constrained as they might seem at the first look. (Note: I am comparing to 3E here, because that's what anyone else does when he is looking at this character build options)

For example:
- Fighter. Choosing between two-handed or one-handed weapons was already standard in 3E. After that, you can still select your favorite weapon, and that means a lot of options. Sure, some powers and feats might seem "pre-planned" now, but, well... If I wanted to make a Longsword Specialist or a Whirl-Wind Attacker, this was also true in 3E.
- Warlock. Basically, the 3 builds are Infernal, Star and Fey Pact. But if you look closely, only the Encounter Powers actually gain benefits from selecting the pact associated with it. This leaves all the dailies unconstrained by your pact.
 

Xorn

Visitor
My players are loving it.

I've got a tiefling warlord lugging around a greataxe, specializing in moving his allies around the battlefield, a dwarf warrior swinging around a maul and specializing in braining people over the head, a halfling rogue loaded down with "just in case" weapons, but specializing in avoiding OAs and making sneak attacks with a dagger, and lastly an elf ranger who unleashes hell with her longbow, and has several powers to keep her at range.

Incidentally, it felt to me like she has preferred enemy still--whatever is closest to her is her preferred enemy. :)

What's been the most fun is watching them already start to flesh out their character as they advance into level 2. The fighter has started to specialize in improving his OAs, while the warlord is focusing on more healing through leadership. The ranger is just going for straight-up archery improvements, and the rogue has been focusing on making himself even harder to hit with OAs.

The fighter and rogue have been working together--the rogue provokes OAs from targets the fighter has marked. They'll most likely miss if they swing, and it earns them a viscious beatdown from the fighter if they take the attack. Several times now, I've declined to take an OA on the rogue because it just means the creature suffers a free hit from the fighter.

In the event the rogue can't work with the fighter (if he's badly surrounded or something) then the warlock, waving his greataxe around, slogs in and starts setting up flanks with his at-will, and even granting the rogue OAs if the target tries to escape the flank. It's brutal.

The ranger is actually pretty soloish--she just lets the other three tie up the front line, then puts arrows in anything she can. Ranged attackers first, then she helps with the main fight.
 

Lizard

Visitor
bobthehappyzombie said:
I don't really get this Lizard, if your mate was willing to play a sub-optimum character for flavours sake in 3e why not in 4e?
If you want to be a dwarven rogue, or an elven paladin or a dragonborn wizard, or a whatever there is nothing to prevent this.
I dinnie ken yer logic.
Not my logic, his. :)

IAE, not discussing sub-optimal so much as "Not cookie cutter". There's a difference, and, unfortunately, it's deliberately blurred by a lot of people. Anytime someone says "I want to play a unique character", this is either interpreted as "I want to play an incompetant loser" or "I want to play a ludicrously twinked out munchkin".

Back to the main topic, accessibility. Yes, 4e probably is, even though 3e also had pre-built 'sample' characters for each class. 4e is more designed to make it obvious what you should take so that you don't accidentally make an unplayable character (and not discover this until 5 or 6 levels later). Fewer choices==easier for new players. Can't argue with that at all.
 

Harr

Visitor
It's been great fun watching by players slowly form into a coherent team... for years they've all been the soloist type, all of them trying to get high armor AND high damage AND high mobility AND healing AND area attacks and be them one-man show all to themselves.

I don't know what it is about 4e play, but slowly the paladin has realized it's actually better to use his moves to get into a position where he can soak up the most blows while the strikers do their thing. Slowly the strikers have realized they're better off in the back and picking one guy to stick with during the whole fight. And so on.

And yeah, eventually this 'preset' feeling will get repetitive - eventually. But when? My group plays extremely frequently (twice a week, about eight times a month) and though I can see the pre-built feeling settling in eventually, we're still nowhere close to that, and won't be for a long while. Yes I can see that the paladin player will not likely be picking a paladin to play through again once his guy gets to 30 and ascends, but who cares? There are the other classes to play through and by that time the PHB2 will be out with its new classes anyways.

So yeah, if you set youself to look at it from the immortal, 'never-ending and always on' analytical gamer who must be aware of every possibility and be satisfied that he will never reach them, it's somewhat shallow. On the other hand, if you're the type of guy who walks up to the table, sits around with some friends, picks a character and plays, it's frickin awesome. My guess is WotC is betting on the latter just being a better type of player to cater to.
 
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Lizard

Visitor
Cadfan said:
Can we please not destroy this thread? Lizard's opinions on whether "D&D is Magic the Gathering now!" would not be germane, even if they were rational.
Uhm...

How does using a metaphor to explain the shift in focus from out-of-play to in-play equal "D&D is Magic now!"

If anything, my comment should be interpreted as "THIRD Edition was Magic!", since the "deck building" metaphor was about how THIRD Edition was played. My friend's comment on Fourth edition ("Like playing with pre-built decks") was saying, in effect, Fourth edition is NOT ENOUGH like Magic!

Sheesh!

Dude...please.

Either learn to read my posts and respond to them intelligently, or just killfile me. Wasting board space explaining them to you, when you're the only person who seems to constantly and continuously misinterpret them through your filter of "EVERYTHING Lizard says is RAW, VENEMOUS BILE spewed at the PERFECT GOD WHICH IS 4e!" is getting a bite tiresome for me, and, I am sure, for everyone else.
 

WhatGravitas

Visitor
Lizard said:
"But now no one sucks!"
That's the complaint I hear often and never get. I mean, most people I hear it from, don't play sucky characters - and if you say "you can still suck by doing the wrong things", they'll answer "yeah, but that's just (role)playing sucky, not being sucky".

I sometimes think people want the chance for sucky characters to exist to show off that they're not sucky, despite the fact that they'll never see one (if the group is on par with their munchkin skills) - they're thriving on the fact that they could do worse and that perhaps some people do worse. *shrug*

Cheers, LT.
 

Cadfan

Visitor
Lizard said:
Either learn to read my posts and respond to them intelligently, or just killfile me. Wasting board space explaining them to you, when you're the only person who seems to constantly and continuously misinterpret them through your filter of "EVERYTHING Lizard says is RAW, VENEMOUS BILE spewed at the PERFECT GOD WHICH IS 4e!" is getting a bite tiresome for me, and, I am sure, for everyone else.
"
It was probably my ADD talking. Or my narcissism. Or possibly both.
 

Lizard

Visitor
Mustrum_Ridcully said:
I am willing to agree that the "tweak-options" are in many ways less then in 3E. But I think there is a lot of customization to be done when creating characters. The (suggested) builds are no where as constrained as they might seem at the first look. (Note: I am comparing to 3E here, because that's what anyone else does when he is looking at this character build options)
I'm going to need to generate a few and see.

To be fair, my friend's comments were based on what he *remembered* from reading my copy of the rules during downtime at our last gaming session. The scary thing is, that brief reading left him with a hell of a lot of accurate facts -- he basically memorized the Warlord section on a single read through. He was quoting page numbers from the PHB despite not owning it -- nor does he have the illegal downloads.

So it may be when he sees all the rules in full context, he'll be able to find the combinations and options he desires. Right now, though, all he sees is the 'builds' and the perception any character which flaunts them is going to be seriously gimped -- and, more importantly to him, two warlords (or whatever) of the same level are going to be virtually identical (or so he thinks), that there's no way to really make your character unique, and that's what matters most to him, in play -- mechanical uniqueness. He wants to either do something no one else can do, or do one thing really, really, well, even if it means being weak in several other areas. 4e is designed to make it hard to achieve either of these goals, or so it seems. There's a lot of ability overlap between classes and roles, and it's almost impossible to 'stack' options to get a killer bonus on one particular skill/trick/concept.

Accessibility is good. My favorite "teaching game" for new gamers is WEG's D6 Star Wars. You can create a new character in minutes -- pick a template, change a small number of skills, and boom, you're done. The characters are iconic and the number of choices for new players is just enough that they feel they're going more than picking the little dog or the little hat. (Cadfan: Now Lizard is claiming 4e is Monopoly! Is there no END to his perfidious LIES?) For experienced players, though, you can skip the templates entirely and build an effective character totally from scratch, one which is perfectly balanced with the template builds.

I see where 4e is giving us the templates. (Cadfan: NOW he's claiming 4e is Star Wars! Can he not pick one lie and stick to it?) What I can't see -- yet -- is where 4e gives us the "roll your own" ability. I welcome the chance to be educated.
 

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