log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 4E Is 4E Too Easy Anymore? (Game Day Spoiler Alert)

KarinsDad

First Post
Minor Spoiler Alert for those who did not play Game Day over the weekend but will be playing it sometime soon.






I ran the Game Day module over the weekend. We started out with 4 PCs, so I lowered the first encounter by one Zombie. The PCs took out the encounter in 4 rounds. In addition to the Zombies and the Skeletons that the PCs were supposed to wipe out, they seriously damaged the Archer and they killed the Wizard. The Wizard wasn't supposed to even be in the fight. But the PC Thief (who was already on the docks fighting the Archer) took him out before he could get away (I had given both the Archer and the Wizard a Potion of Invisibility which the module did not have listed, just so that they could get away, but it only helped out the Archer). One Action Point was used in this encounter

So, we decided that the "Wizard's Twin" would be in the graveyard and ran the second encounter. At that point, a 5th player had showed up, so we had 5 PCs and I did not have to modify it. At the end of the second round, most of the NPCs were dead (the Wizard, both Hounds, and one Zombie). There were 2 Zombies remaining. They were both bloodied and died quickly near the start of round 3. The second encounter was an N+2 encounter and the PCs took it out in 2.5 rounds. Granted, a Daily power and an Action Point were used in this encounter.

We used 3 pregen PCs from earlier Encounter sessions and 2 PCs were ones that two of the players created (2 controllers, 1 striker, 1 leader, 1 defender).

The players were rolling pretty well, but not exceptionally so (the Cavalier and the Bard specifically both missed at least half of the time, but the other PCs hit more than half of the time). 2 Zombies out of 5 (1 in each fight) were killed with critical hits, but even if they wouldn't have gone down that quickly, it would have only added about a round to each encounter max.

I was just totally surprised at how well the PCs worked together and how much damage they dished out in a short period of time. They didn't use up a lot of resources (2 Action Points, 1 Daily, and maybe 10 to 12 healing surges), so after the second encounter, they still had a lot of horsepower remaining for future fights. 4 of the 5 players are experienced with 4E, but does familiarity equate to easy fights?

Did other DMs who ran Game Day this weekend get similar results? Was the module just too easy for experienced players?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

renau1g

First Post
I found from LFR modules when I used to run them, they were far too easy for players with any level of experience. Any minimal level of optimization resulted in the players steam-rolling the enemies (now this was before MM3 updates mind you) and the Essentials classes (like the Thief and Slayer) are pretty optimized out of the box so even inexperienced players do well with them. Adding in themes recently only exacerbated the problem I'd imagine (I love them in Dark Sun because they have a great reason for being there, not so much elsewhere).

I can't comment specifically on the Game Day adventure, but it always seemed that WotC was afraid to make challenging encounters in the LFR modules, where enemies had superior terrain advantage or anything that required the players think. It was almost always players on one side of the "arena" (or forest, or plain, etc) and the monsters on the other. Each side charges the other and then slogs it out. The PC's will almost always win those type of fights handily with their greater access to powers/healing/options.

So yeah. I stopped running the LFR modules and stopped going because it was a joke, no challenge = no risk = no fun.
 

Kinneus

First Post
That module may have been too easy. 4e itself hasn't gotten too easy. In fact, with updated monster damage values, 4e has gotten harder. A lot harder.

Familiarity does indeed help. Try running a game for people who are new to 4e, or even new to tabletop roleplaying in particular. It'll give you some perspective; they'll do dumb things like not even attempt to flank when they easily could, hoard Dailies and never use them, forget about the existence of Encounter attack powers or Action Points, or just get overwhelmed by their options and resort to spamming At-Wills. MM3 monsters tear newbies a new one.

I have to ask, how effective were those two Controllers? Which Daily was used, and how? A Controller has the ability to, with the right power in the right situation, completely devastate an entire Encounter. I always say: "A Defender's job is to take hits. A Striker's job is to do damage. A Leader's job is to heal and buff. And a Controller's job is to make the DM curse in rage."

And if things are too easy, always feel free to toss in an extra monster or two, even in mid-combat, if it is at all feasible to do so. Players like a challenge; if things aren't challenging, few will complain if you make things more "fun", in a Dwarf Fortress sense of the word.

They will complain if you overshoot it and wipe the party, but hey, this is D&D, baby. People die.
 

Riastlin

First Post
My guess would be that typically, WotC tries to make the Gameday adventures somewhat easy. The main reason for this being that they do seem geared toward bringing in new players and let's face it, sitting down to a new game and seeing the party get waxed isn't exactly fun.

That being said, while I did not get a chance to play in the Gameday this year, I did pop in near the end of the second encounter at the FLGS. The party there were having a particularly rough go of it. The leader was unconscious at the end and had spent his second wind. The other PCs (except the archer) were bloodied and they had used all their APs and dailies, etc. They also apparently were rolling horribly all day which likely contributed to it. At the end of it, they may have been able to get through another encounter, but it would have been rough for them.

Tactics and luck certainly make a big difference though.
 

Mengu

First Post
Game day modules are supposed to be easy. You want new players who don't know what they are doing to be able to feel heroic, bashing through things. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

LFR on the other hand, even before MM3 had its problematic encounters where people complained endlessly about starting in the death box and getting mauled by AoE's and controlling effects, making for difficult to the point of unfun encounters. And there were of course many adventures, particularly early ones that you could probably get through with 3 PC's while two of them took naps, or attacked with their bare fists, defaced paintings, or fought each other for fun.

It has evolved quite a bit since those adventures. In the newer adventures there is a serious level of threat, and you can still beat them easily at times, but one unlucky streak or failure of tactic (or a missing critical role), and you can be in serious trouble. Just this past weekend at GenCon, I played through 7 different LFR mods, and at least 4 of them had a difficult fight that could be lethal to some parties. And I've had at least three nail biter fights where I wasn't sure if we would be able to pull through, and one PC died in one of those fights. Difficulty is certainly there.

Unfortunately it does require a tactically minded experienced DM to gauge the right challenge level for a group, and dial the challenge up or down through use of monster tactics (or DME in the case of LFR). I feel the degree of difficulty is completely in the hands of the DM.
 

MrMyth

First Post
As others have said... 4E can be hard or easy, depending on adventure/encounter/campaign design. In this case, I think they do err on the side of ease for Game Days and Encounters, which are aimed at a more casual crowd. Given the new upcoming D&D Lair Assault, which seems aimed at a more hardcore environment, I think they are trying to present both experiences for those who want them.
 

Vael

Hero
The last Game Day I did was the Dark Sun one. Not easy. I think the party barely succeeded, with a few fatalities, and the other table was completely wiped out. Tembos are vicious, vicious creatures.
 

Larrin

Entropic Good
I DMed the game day, and with four players of low-medium skill they took on the standard for 5 people encounters with just about the right amount of risk. It wasn't supposed to be difficult (just looking at the terrain/monster choices), even so i dropped the defender each battle and the healer once, and so i think it was just about right.

In encounters we often do with 4 what the book says is for 5 players, and if we have 5 the dm will up it to '6 people' level. Usually this works about right for us, though sometimes its dangerously close to being too hard. This season is much better challengewise that the phantom brigade where the dm sometimes doubled the monsters just to bring the difficulty up to cakewake. Its all in monster selection, terrain features and players level (skill and class level), some of which the DM can control, some of which WoTC can control, some of which no one can.
 

TirionAnthion

First Post
Game Day Difficulty

I ran the Game Day adventure on Saturday. I had a table of 7 players. The party composition was as follows:

Dwarven Knight, Encounters veteran
Human Slayer, Encounters noob
Eladrin Mage, Encounters noob
Eladrin Bladesinger, Encounters veteran
Drow Hunter, Encounters veteran
Human Thief, Encounters noob, 4e veteran
Eladrin Bladesinger, Encounters veteran

We also had an Eladrin Warpriest but the player had to leave at the start of the first fight.







WARNING SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!





I did not allow the players a chance to attack the Wizard. He teleported in and out of the fight so fast that no one could react. This is basically what the module recommends. The fight lasted 5 rounds and the Thief, Knight, and Slayer were all bloodied at one point.

I added an extra enemy at the start of the fight and then added several minions on round 2.

In the second fight, the battle lasted 8 rounds. All of the players, except one of the Bladesingers, ended up bloodied at some point. The Slayer was down at one point but was revived. The Knight and Thief were down at the end of combat and had to be carried off during the skill challenge. I ran this fight as presented in the book, with the caveat that I gave the wizard more hit points.

By the end of the first fight, half of the players had used action points, although no one used a daily. By the end of the second fight, the remaining action points and dailies had been used.

I have been running D&D 4e since launch and have developed a style for running games. I have also ran all of the Gamed Days and Encounters seasons.

I think that player skill and DM familiarity with the rules plays a large part in how the games run. I rarely tell the players "no", but I often present them with a challenging choice. I will allow them to do some off the wall actions but I always make sure that they have to pay a price for the benefit gained. I am a big fan of the "Rulings take precedent over Rules" philosophy.

The players did not always make the most optimized choices from a tactical perspective, and the lack of a leader was telling. Several of the players were unclear on exactly how some of the powers worked and they needed help to use the powers in the most efficient manner possible.

In the first encounter, I did not place the archer or the wizard on the map initially. I also placed a selection of random townfolk minis on the docks (including the obligatory Farmer Clutching Pig D&D mini). The players and monsters initiatives were spread evenly across the spectrum. The archer acted halfway through round one which allowed the wizard to do his teleport trick. I did not make the wizard obey the normal action sequence and no PCs were close enough to attack him. I often use set piece moments in encounters that violate the turn and/or action sequence. The wizard fled off the board edge and several minions appeared from the same board edge to discourage pursuit, much to the Thief's dismay.

In the second fight, the party placed the bulk of the melee fighters in the front while the rest hung back. Those characters in the back were promptly ambushed. It was a running joke that the monsters and damaging effects seemed to follow the Thief so everyone should avoid him.

Ultimately, everyone seemed to enjoy the experience and no one felt that the fight was easy by any means. I also modified the final skill challenge and having two unconscious players for that really escalated the threat.
 


KarinsDad

First Post
That module may have been too easy. 4e itself hasn't gotten too easy. In fact, with updated monster damage values, 4e has gotten harder. A lot harder.

I thought that when the monster damage was updated too, but anecdotal evidence on how optimized Essentials PCs are for damage seems to show otherwise. Course, in our normal game, the may be due to the fact that we have several PCs that can hand out temporary hit points, so the increased monster damage is diluted somewhat for our normal table game.

I have to ask, how effective were those two Controllers? Which Daily was used, and how? A Controller has the ability to, with the right power in the right situation, completely devastate an entire Encounter. I always say: "A Defender's job is to take hits. A Striker's job is to do damage. A Leader's job is to heal and buff. And a Controller's job is to make the DM curse in rage."

Well, we only had one controller in the first encounter. He didn't especially shine in that fight, but he pulled his weight. In the second encounter, the Wizard and Hounds won initiative over the PCs and the Zombies lost initiative to the PCs. So, the Wizard hit 4 of the 5 PCs and immobilizied them and a few PCs went bloodied in round one before they even got to act. But, since the Hounds had melee attacks, immobilizing PCs did very little since the Hounds had to move in to attack. With such a strong first round for the NPCs, the Bard hit the Wizard with Stirring Shout (Daily), and then the one Controller teleported out of the area, hit the Wizard and then used an Action Point to do Burning Hands on the Wizard and the Hounds. The Wizard was a little close, but most of his At Will powers were range 3 or less, so I had him move in behind the Hounds. A potential mistake in hindsight, but he was not close enough for a Close Burst 1, but he was close enough for a Close Blast 5. The second Controller just did Close Burst 1 attacks on the Hounds in round one and the Zombies in round 2. The PCs formed a line in round 2 that allowed two PCs to burst / blast all 3 Zombies (Zombies are stupid, so I just had them rush the nearest PC and not try to specifically avoid bursts/blasts).

The Daily power used was Stirring Shout which gave each PC who hit the Wizard healing of 4. So, it wasn't a particularly strong offensive Daily used, it just helped the Bard keep the party alive for a round. In fact, the Wizard went down so quickly at the start of round two that we joked about how the Thief should have let him live a few more rounds so that the PCs could heal up.

And if things are too easy, always feel free to toss in an extra monster or two, even in mid-combat, if it is at all feasible to do so. Players like a challenge; if things aren't challenging, few will complain if you make things more "fun", in a Dwarf Fortress sense of the word.

When 4 NPCs (including the BBEG) are dead and 2 NPCs are bloodied at the end of round 2, it's kind of pointless to "just throw more foes" at the PCs. It's also something that I rarely do unless there is a good in game justification for it. I allow players to have their successes, even the fast (i.e. few number of rounds) ones. In this case, three of the PCs went bloodied (one down to 2 hit points, one down to 4 hit points), so they were challenged and the dice gods could have knocked two of them unconscious. It was more the number of rounds in which the PCs cleaned clock and how much average damage they did that caught my attention. These encounters were not easy in the sense that the PCs hardly got touched (they got hit fairly hard, especially in the second encounter), it's that they wiped out 2 tough, 2 moderate, and 6 easy foes in 4 rounds in one encounter and 1 tough and 5 moderate foes in 2+ rounds in the second encounter. The speed at which they wiped out the foes is what surprised me.
 

KarinsDad

First Post
This is totally unrelated to anything, but how the heck did you get a Bard in your party?

We don't restrict PCs to Essentials PCs at the gaming store that I go to. One of the players has a Dragonborn Bard that she once in a blue moon plays in the Encounters sessions, so she brought the first level equivalent of the Bard to the game. She hardly ever gets to play this PC, so she wanted to use her and the rest of us didn't care. The other four PCs were a Human Wizard/Mage (not sure which), a Human Cavalier, a Half-Orc Thief, and an Eladrin Bladesinger.
 

pauljathome

First Post
I ran the Game Day adventure on Saturday. I had a table of 7 players. The party composition was as follows:

Ultimately, everyone seemed to enjoy the experience and no one felt that the fight was easy by any means. I also modified the final skill challenge and having two unconscious players for that really escalated the threat.

What I'm reading from this is:

Yes, the modules are too easy. But a good, experienced GM knows how to
rewrite things in order to fix the problem.

That is in absolutely no way a slam at you. It sounds like you made it a fun experience and you are to be complimented for doing so.

But it also very much sounds as if you had to cheat (ignoring action sequences, for example) in order to do so

So, to answer the original question, Yes the modules, as written, are too easy.
 

Scribble

First Post
I'm guessing, like others have said, they tend to write these a little on the easier side assuming that:

1. A lot of newbies will be showing up and they don't want to scare them off.

2. Anyone running encounters is probably a somewhat experienced DM that can edit as needed.

They've even said they see encounters as their entry level program.
 

TirionAnthion

First Post
That is in absolutely no way a slam at you. It sounds like you made it a fun experience and you are to be complimented for doing so.

But it also very much sounds as if you had to cheat (ignoring action sequences, for example) in order to do so

So, to answer the original question, Yes the modules, as written, are too easy.

Thanks for the reply and I do not take offense at your statement. Ultimately, you make a fair point about the ease of the module as written.

In regards to the idea of cheating in the above statement, I would like to say that to me I don't see it as cheating. My job as the DM is to provide an entertaining experience for my players. I routinely allow monsters in my home games to break the action allowances to do flavorful story actions. I think of them like cutscenes in a video game.

My players know that in the social contract at the table I, as the DM, may sometimes act outside the rules but that I will do so in the interest of providing an enjoyable experience to the group, not to screw them over or cheat them in any way.

So, I guess what I am saying is that, yeah, I like to cheat. :D
 

Lancelot

Adventurer
I'm glad to hear that the modules were perceived as "too easy" by experienced players. That sounds exactly like it should be for a Game Day.

I attended a 3e game day some years back where we had a mix of experienced (3 players) and inexperienced (2 players), and we were utterly decimated by the WotC module. The DM was pulling no punches whatsoever, and the newbie players were just trying to learn the ropes.

Now, the experienced players were offering suggestions - but there's a subtle line between offering advice, and simply running a person's character for them. And without making exact tactical choices, they never stood a chance.

The thing I remember clearest from the session, though, wasn't that the DM was a [not nice person], or that the module was [seemingly quite] hard. It was the look on the faces of the young newbie players, which was basically: "wow, there are so many rules I have to learn just to stay alive, and only these 30+ year-old guys know them". It was depressing, in the context of the future of our hobby.

As for 4e getting easier in general, no way. PCs may have got more predictable with Essentials, but they haven't really seen a dramatic increase in power. The monsters, on the other hand, are vastly more lethal.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top