D&D 5E Is D&D combat fun?

(generally speaking) Is D&D combat in 5E "fun" ?


Lyxen

Great Old One
There I suggested that one of the reasons many people don't have 6-8 medium encounters per adventuring day is because that does not make for entertaining gameplay. That is, there is a something of a gap between how designers imagined people might play when they designed the CR system and XP budgets

And, once more, it goes to show that most people who criticise 5e have not really read or understood the rules. Pray tell, where did the designers even advise that there should be 6-8 medium encounters per adventuring day ?

Because it's NOT what is in the DMG neither is it advised in any section of any book.

Critical role and other popular actual plays are really instructive when it comes to how the game is actually played.

I agree, I would just say "how the game is actually played... by some groups." There are apparently groups playing very differently, and if you look around forums, apparently groups playing it fairly competitively for example.

Similarly, I think the existence of Pathfinder 2e and the various 3rd party 5e products (Level Up, various monster books) suggests that involved, varied tactical gameplay across all levels is a niche that core 5e does not do well, hence creating markets for other games or for supplements.

It's also a niche that only appeals to a much smaller population, hence the fact that 3e/4e/PF never really took off.
 

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Musing Mage

Pondering D&D stuff
And, once more, it goes to show that most people who criticise 5e have not really read or understood the rules. Pray tell, where did the designers even advise that there should be 6-8 medium encounters per adventuring day ?

Because it's NOT what is in the DMG neither is it advised in any section of any book.

DMG pg 84 suggests that the typical group should be able to handle 6-8 encounters medium or hard encounters per day before taking a long rest. While not a hard and fast rule per se, it's a parameter that's clearly laid out.

I shall return to the shadows now, lurking and observing with my popcorn.
 

And, once more, it goes to show that most people who criticise 5e have not really read or understood the rules. Pray tell, where did the designers even advise that there should be 6-8 medium encounters per adventuring day ?

Because it's NOT what is in the DMG neither is it advised in any section of any book.
Yes, I understand, it's what parties can potentially handle. But they could have designed the CR system, XP values, and class abilities per SR/LR in a totally different way if they had different assumptions about how people would play the game. For example, SR classes could have had more abilities per SR, or LR classes more abilities per LR, if they had anticipated a different pace to the "adventuring day," one based around fewer encounters.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
DMG pg 84 suggests that the typical group should be able to handle 6-8 encounters medium or hard encounters per day before taking a long rest. While not a hard and fast rule per se, it's a parameter that's clearly laid out.

It's not a suggestion, it's just a statement of the capabilities of a typical group, especially since the sentence ends with " If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer."

And that is all.

Yes, I understand, it's what parties can potentially handle. But they could have designed the CR system, XP values, and class abilities per SR/LR in a totally different way if they had different assumptions about how people would play the game. For example, SR classes could have had more abilities per SR, or LR classes more abilities per LR, if they had anticipated a different pace to the "adventuring day," one based around fewer encounters.

5e is just designed to be open-ended, there are so many classes, so many abilities, so many types of encounters that they preferred to leave it open to the DM to design what he wants, with a few indicative tools. They specifically did not want a repeat of 4e where indeed everything was defined to a point where freedom was indeed stiffled.

I agree that it's not perfect, in particular because it makes it hard for a DM to design encounters, the rules and tools are fuzzy. But in the end, even when trying to be precise, tools will fail because in the end the circumstances of encounters make an even bigger difference in the computation of their difficulty, and these are impossible to quantify in an open world.
 

At some tables and-or in some gaming communities they certainly can be; and if the poster you were replying to is used to such non-optimising tables/communities than IMO it's fair comment.
It isn't a fair comment, because its an erroneous and ignorant generalization.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
It's not a suggestion, it's just a statement of the capabilities of a typical group, especially since the sentence ends with " If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer."
I feel the guidance reflects broader balancing, around the number of uses of features characters will have. For me it is one of the 'misses' of the design. I do run 6 or so encounters per adventuring day in my campaign, but equally feel it would have been better to balance around 3 or 4.
 

It's not a suggestion, it's just a statement of the capabilities of a typical group, especially since the sentence ends with " If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer."

And that is all.



5e is just designed to be open-ended, there are so many classes, so many abilities, so many types of encounters that they preferred to leave it open to the DM to design what he wants, with a few indicative tools. They specifically did not want a repeat of 4e where indeed everything was defined to a point where freedom was indeed stiffled.

I agree that it's not perfect, in particular because it makes it hard for a DM to design encounters, the rules and tools are fuzzy. But in the end, even when trying to be precise, tools will fail because in the end the circumstances of encounters make an even bigger difference in the computation of their difficulty, and these are impossible to quantify in an open world.
Your argument boils down to since rules can never be perfect, and we have rules that work, we should never innovate or try to find better solutions. With respect to you, that is a very limp and otherwise defeatist argument that, when deconstructed, is no better than an attempt to stop the conversation. If you think that trying to think up new solutions for 5E problems is wrong, or discussing flaws in design is foolish, I think you've made that loud and clear.
 

5e is just designed to be open-ended, there are so many classes, so many abilities, so many types of encounters that they preferred to leave it open to the DM to design what he wants, with a few indicative tools. They specifically did not want a repeat of 4e where indeed everything was defined to a point where freedom was indeed stiffled.
The point still stands though--is a game that involves 6-8 medium encounters per adventuring day fun? Are random encounters that are rolled up without context fun or that don't pertain to the main narrative fun? I would say no, for me that kind of gameplay is a slog and is uninteresting. By contrast, interesting fights (in 5e) ought to have some thought put into them by the DM and some narrative stakes.

As a point of reference, I would say almost the opposite is true in a game of Basic dnd. If combat is resolved quickly, with fewer player options, then it doesn't matter as much how many you have. Wandering monsters play well into the economy of dungeon crawling resource management without becoming boring. And a lot of the fun is all the ways you can resolve encounters by not getting into initiative--sneaking around them, getting surprise, stacking things in your favor, etc.

JUST MY 2 CENTS, MY OPINION, IF YOU ARE HAVING FUN KEEP HAVING FUN etc
 

Thing is you can disagree with something, and be clearly wrong. It's not a mess. Millions of people play it a week. They wouldn't if it's a mess. People tweak things. But it's not a mess, otherwise people in this day and age would abandon it. It's not perfect, buts it good, and we shouldn't lose that goodness in pursuit of the perfect. If it wasn't good people wouldn't play it.
"Messy", like "fun", and even "good/bad", is a subjective idea. My mother used to pester me to tidy up my room; but I knew where everything was, which to my mind was quite well organized. And some people like messy, even those who don't know where everything is (perhaps even because of that).

To Lanefan, 5E is enough of a mess that they don't want to run it, and that has nothing whatever to do with how many people play it, and they aren't wrong for finding it too messy for their tastes. Just like I'm not wrong for finding celery and cilantro absolutely disgusting. 😉
 

cbwjm

Legend
DMG pg 84 suggests that the typical group should be able to handle 6-8 encounters medium or hard encounters per day before taking a long rest. While not a hard and fast rule per se, it's a parameter that's clearly laid out.

I shall return to the shadows now, lurking and observing with my popcorn.
I think the problem is that people take this as gospel for what's needed in an adventuring day when, what I think, it's saying that if you have 6-8 medium or hard encounters, your players may start to have difficulty progressing. People have taken it to mean that if you don't have 6-8 encounters then you aren't playing dnd the way the designers meant for you to play and, of course, that means you're having trouble with the game.
 


ad_hoc

(he/they)
I think the problem is that people take this as gospel for what's needed in an adventuring day when, what I think, it's saying that if you have 6-8 medium or hard encounters, your players may start to have difficulty progressing. People have taken it to mean that if you don't have 6-8 encounters then you aren't playing dnd the way the designers meant for you to play and, of course, that means you're having trouble with the game.

I've only seen the other way around.

Someone says they're having trouble with the game and then someone else suggests that they have more encounters per long rest.

And I've never seen anyone say that every adventuring day needs to have many encounters. For me it needs to happen often enough where the players aren't sure how many there will end up being. As well, resting is something that should have consequences. Usually for me that means failing the objective.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I think the problem is that people take this as gospel for what's needed in an adventuring day when, what I think, it's saying that if you have 6-8 medium or hard encounters, your players may start to have difficulty progressing. People have taken it to mean that if you don't have 6-8 encounters then you aren't playing dnd the way the designers meant for you to play and, of course, that means you're having trouble with the game.
That's the point. It used to be around 2-4 or 3-5 or so in past editions & people remember how being able to realistically push that limit in normal gameplay accomplished a few things that 5e is sorely lacking in. For example:
  • It forced players to step up & work together as a team rather than a bunch of "wangrods" soloing near each other in order to mitigate risk & maximize effectiveness of the group.
  • Reckless behavior was risky & came at a price because it would cause the party to start scraping the bottom of the barrel pretty quick without needing to slog through session after session of bland & pointless combats before noticing.
  • Consumable items could be used in a pinch to notably extend the party's capabilities, recover from boneheaded mistakes/bad luck, & provide a real level of safety net for players.
Stripping all of that back has real impact on the fun of combat. People aren't just pointing at the 6-8 number as some kind of "thus it was written so it shall be" circular reasoning, they point at it because they know what was lost.
 

lingual

Adventurer
So what are your points, @ad_hoc and @Lyxen? That game is perfect because its so big so we shouldn't ever bother critiquing it?
I think the point is that 5e is objectively and unequivably a success. That might upset some people but the financials are the only truly objective standard of measure. Does it mean that the game is perfect for everyone? Of course not! It does mean that they did something right though.

Some people actively profess to dislike the design of the game, but still play the game? I honestly think some of us are just upset that we are not official game designers. So criticizing the professional designers validates us.
 

lingual

Adventurer
I share my opinion. I like 5E but I don't think it's perfect because nothing is ever perfect. There are certainly aspects of the game I disagree with. Whenever people complain about stuff I may try to give advice to see if there's some option they haven't thought of.

But unless it's an actual rule issue I've never told people they're wrong except when they try to tell me that my opinion is wrong. Of course I'm not perfect either and may poorly word things now and then.

At a certain point I do think people should accept that the game isn't going to change no matter how much you vent on a message board. You can either create a house rule, find a house rule on DmsGuild, accept that there's an aspect of the game you don't care for or find some other way to spend your free time. Nothing on this forum is ever going to have significant influence on what WOTC does with D&D.

Feel free to criticize. I'm not telling you your wrong if I disagree. I just disagree. 🤷‍♂️
There was a 3k long halflings thread where someone said they would stop playing if halflings were presented as a race in the next PHB. Just not allowing halflings in their own game was not good enough. Maybe it's that type of attitude which I find curious.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think the point is that 5e is objectively and unequivably a success. That might upset some people but the financials are the only truly objective standard of measure. Does it mean that the game is perfect for everyone? Of course not! It does mean that they did something right though.

Some people actively profess to dislike the design of the game, but still play the game? I honestly think some of us are just upset that we are not official game designers. So criticizing the professional designers validates us.
Let's be fair. It is certainly possible to level reasonable objections to a system, no matter how popular, without first having to provide your game design credentials.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
To Lanefan, 5E is enough of a mess that they don't want to run it, and that has nothing whatever to do with how many people play it, and they aren't wrong for finding it too messy for their tastes. Just like I'm not wrong for finding celery and cilantro absolutely disgusting. 😉
I think I agree that "mess" is so undefined that it is best taken as "not to my taste".
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Your argument boils down to since rules can never be perfect, and we have rules that work, we should never innovate or try to find better solutions.

No it does not. Once more, you are strawmanning. Rules cannot be perfect, it has been my stance for many years, and it is actually confirmed that it is the 5e author's perspective as well in the SAC, plain as day. Hence the "rulings over rules" principle

But no one except you has tried to claim that we should not innovate. We all have our small house rules and improvements, and even share them here.

With respect to you, that is a very limp and otherwise defeatist argument that, when deconstructed, is no better than an attempt to stop the conversation. If you think that trying to think up new solutions for 5E problems is wrong, or discussing flaws in design is foolish, I think you've made that loud and clear.

No, what some people here have done is claim that 5e is an unsalvageable mess, with outrageous arguments bordering on insults to those who actually like that edition. This is what I'm saying is an unacceptable way of debating.

There are certainly areas of 5e which can be constructively criticised and locally improved, the main difficulty being that, as we are in the end playing the game in very different ways, the areas are not necessarily the same for all of us, and some solutions might actually cause problems for others. But it's all very welcome to be discussed, as long as it's not pure negativism, that's all.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Let's be fair. It is certainly possible to level reasonable objections to a system, no matter how popular, without first having to provide your game design credentials.

And I completely agree, you know. As long as it's formulated as constructive criticism, and trying to find solutions. Otherwise, what's the point, exactly ? It's just venting frustration that the game is not different (which, by the way, I can understand, some people were much happier with previous edition's stance, which were much more crunchy, for example), using outrageous and therefore totally unconvincing arguments. And where it goes over the line is when, as in a few posts in this thread, it goes in the "you must be idiots not to realise that it stinks" mode, barely veiled.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
That's the point. It used to be around 2-4 or 3-5 or so in past editions & people remember how being able to realistically push that limit in normal gameplay accomplished a few things that 5e is sorely lacking in. For example:
  • It forced players to step up & work together as a team rather than a bunch of "wangrods" soloing near each other in order to mitigate risk & maximize effectiveness of the group.

Our groups only play in that mode in 5e like they did in all previous editions, so I don't think that there is any support for your claim here. Not doing it results at least in quick failure and very probably quick death.

  • Reckless behavior was risky & came at a price because it would cause the party to start scraping the bottom of the barrel pretty quick without needing to slog through session after session of bland & pointless combats before noticing.

Once more, there is no support for this claim, the range of encounter difficulty go all the way to deadly and TPKs are regularly reported. And reckless behaviour is still risky although I agree that 5e took a large number of steps so that the likelihood of someone spending half an evening asleep on the couch or browsing the web on his phone instead of playing is reduced.

Yes, quick fights, no negative hit points and healing word and revivify makes it much easier to bring someone back from the brink, to play again on the next round. But I happen to think that it's a good thing, because the game is about fun and spending half the evening doing nothing because one's character is unconscious is decidedly not fun.

And combat was certainly insufferably long and annoying in previous editions, so it's a huge benefit of 5e to have made them quick again.

  • Consumable items could be used in a pinch to notably extend the party's capabilities, recover from boneheaded mistakes/bad luck, & provide a real level of safety net for players.

And it's still the case.

Stripping all of that back has real impact on the fun of combat. People aren't just pointing at the 6-8 number as some kind of "thus it was written so it shall be" circular reasoning, they point at it because they know what was lost.

No, SOME people see it that way, but obviously, from the overall popularity of the game, a majority thinks that D&D combat, instead of being a huge boring nerdish thing can now be fun and quick, and this includes new players as well as old grognards like me.
 

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