It is never as easy to make comparisons between AD&D and other editions as people often think.
Actually, you kind of need to lead with this. It wasn't just common practice because there were no gaming police, it was being promoted directly in the rules and was widely understood - it was the DM's game to modify as they see fit. There are probably a higher percentage of 1E players today that are playing by-the-book (or trying to) than were when it was the edition of choice.
Agreed, a lot of the games I knew were using a lot of house rules. It is also why it lead to so many Monty Haul campaigns.
Mostly that simply has implications for the tactics used. They avoid melee - and that's actually easier to do because 1E defines melee distance as 10'. If an opponent is beyond 10' from a caster they CANNOT melee them that round without charging. They have to spend the round closing.
Nope, the 10' you are refering to is to determine if a fighter type character could make all his attacks without moving. In 1ed a fighter could make 1 attack per level against low level opponents (those under 1HD). This meant a a 10th level fighter could make 10 attacks that round as long as the enemies were with melee range. So a fighter could start his serie of attacks against everything up to a maximum of 23 opponents at 23rd. Any enemies further than 10' were "safe". A move could make you go lower in the initiative, but nothing prevented you from closing in and making your full attack allotment.
Magic-users naturally cast longer range spells from positions of greater relative safety than they would otherwise, and other party members tend to be careful enough with their own tactics that their party wizard has as little to fear as possible, preventing opponents from getting close to the wizard. Also, even a simple Mirror Image spell can provide enough reasonable protection from melee and missile attacks in the following round to enable casting a higher level, devastating spell with a long casting time.
Which was easily countered with darts or any high rate of fire projectiles. Even Magic Missile would deplete mirror image in a pinch.
The initiative system, as Snarf said, was in the PHB. But yes, they were relatively hard to understand. But once understood, they made complete sense and were logical and heavily skewed towards martial characters.Extremely circumstantial. Yes, maximizing the amount of healing spells was certainly one strategy, but again it could depend on other factors such as frequency of encounters and availability of healing potions. Heal-bots were/are by no means universal.
And here again it can depend a great deal upon the interpretation of how initiative works. The initiative rules for 1E were NOT in the PH. They were only provided in the DMG - one year AFTER the PH was published, meaning a large number of games would have had to create and implement their own initiative rules in the meantime. They might have used something extremely simpler as in original D&D, or they may have never played original D&D and thus made up something entirely different. Even so, those rules in the DMG when it WAS released had been written so ineffectively and confusingly that even if you hadn't already had a system of your own you might VERY EASILY misunderstand and misinterpret the DMG rules. It is most certainly common today for players who are STUDYING the 1E DMG to repeatedly misread it or fail to comprehend it. That really can't be over-emphasized and obviously it has huge implications for how all casters function in the game, when the casting of a spell is begun, when it concludes, and the chances of it being disrupted. It certainly was more likely for there to be a huge variety of initiative systems and interpretations in use when there was no internet for anyone to instantly have it explained to them in a way that was easier to come to grips with.
But it's more complicated than that yet. Magic-user spell casting times were predominantly one segment per spell level. Clerical spell casting time was more varied, routinely it was spell level plus 3, but with a great many exceptions to that. For example, at 1st level they have plenty of 4 segment spells but a lot of full-round spells. Longer casting times makes clerical spells less likely to be successfully cast, or then just more likely to be cast outside of combat. And 1E enables attacks on spell casters even when the caster WINS initiative.
Yep, that is why a caster would make sure to be "safe" before casting a spell with a long casting time. In combat healing was also not a common practice and was more relegated to out of combat as a well placed arrow could simply ruin the spell. But desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. It is also why such spells as wall of stone, force and fire and even wind were so liked by casters. Even a wall of fog could save your pretty little asses when you were a caster. And casting from a corner was also a sound tactics.
And the more you're able to carefully plan your use of spells in an encounter, the more effective everyone in the party is. In fact, this is a key point to be made - there was a greater emphasis in 1E on being able to plan before getting into fights. 1E was developed out of original D&D which was much closer to a dedicated dungeon-exploring game where AVOIDING as much combat as possible was the smartest game play, not just being able to win fights by designing your character better in the first place. Cautious exploration was the norm because the DM was often playing a game of "gotcha", prompting players to be hyper-vigilant and obsessive in how they describe everything their characters do to avoid being caught. That isn't often how the game is played anymore, including by those still playing with 1E rules. That is, it's heavily WRITTEN to be played differently than the game is now played no matter what rules version you use.
Not all DM were the "Gotcha" type. I certainly was not. But I was rutheless and merciless (and still am today). I apply the rules and play the monsters with intelligence. This is what I have shown many young/new DM to do in their games. It makes for better games.
In the rules as-written it was certain made tougher - but you just can't know anymore these days how many groups were REALLY sticklers for the book rules. Remember that Tucker's Kobolds was a DM acting well within the bounds of the rules in both word and spirit. Just by having average intelligent monsters do things that only require average intelligence to do makes pathetic, pipsqueak monsters into something far more dangerous and problematic. But that wasn't the norm. The norm was to treat them (and ALL monsters) in a more limited fashion making it EASIER to attack them, including with spells. Just by not having the kobolds equipped with any missile weapons a caster's difficulty is often greatly reduced. It isn't the game rules therefore that make a magic-users life so difficult as a DM who wants to inhibit them as much as possible rather than give them a break.
Yep. Sheer dumb luck of the die rolls can basically END a combat (for better or worse) - but PC's don't go into combat depending on sheer dumb luck to succeed. If they do they never live long. Players don't play any version of D&D in such a way as to maximize their faults and limitations - they minimize or eliminate them. They don't RELY on ONE spell that MUST succeed or else they lose. They will cast several spells expecting that opponent saves will succeed, reducing or eliminating the spell's effects, until they just accumulate enough spells of half damage to do the job anyway, or that one save is finally failed. Where spells are concerned it's a game of attrition and knowing that lucky saves generally can't hold out forever.
This is also why many of my players will not up cast damage spells. An upgraded fire ball to level 5 only do 2d6 more damage for an average of 7pts or 3.5 if the save is made. Better cast a cone of cold.
And the spells that were dangerous to the caster either didn't get used at all, were only used in extreme cases, or again required PLANNING to use safely. If the way that you're playing the game is such that you manage more opportunities to plan your attack against opponents rather than just suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself in a fight, your gameplay reduces or eliminates the difficulties that are attached to those spells. And Vancian casting means that if you have that spell studied to be able to cast you HAVE already worked out how to handle the downsides of it or else you wouldn't have it memorized in the first place.
Q.E.D. When you know fireballs expand in confined spaces you don't use it in confined spaces. Not without proper planning, or at least with the willingness to bear the consequences.
Yep dangerous spells required a lot of caution. I miss those days.
This is, IMO, not a bad thing. Is the 5/10 minute workday not a common complaint of more recent editions?
A LOT of 1E is a matter of resource management. You WERE (at the time) expected to be tracking rations, ammunition, spell components, encumbrance, and more. Managing the resource of how many spells you could cast was no different and NOT more difficult - except in comparison to an edition that reduces or eliminates ALL resource management rules.
It is still here in 5ed if the DM isn't careful. I fully enforce random encounters so that the 6-8 encounters per day is met at all times. Since random encounters do not give experience or treasure, the 5MWD has simply disapeared in my games.
And you've got the rules for resting a bit incorrect. A 1st level caster recovering a single 1st level spell only needs to rest 4 hours and then study 15 minutes per level of spells being recovered. A 1st level caster in a long day can then (theoretically) cast five 1st level spells that day, not just one. They are very capable of casting and recasting as long as time can be and IS taken to rest for a few hours at regular intervals. At the other extreme a caster needing to recover a 9th level spell needs to rest 12 hours to start with before spending 15 minutes per spell level re-studying their spells. An 18th level caster needing to recover ALL their spells will spend a total of 20 1/2 hours doing so.
Stick to the example. It took almost 3 days. As the caster will take a rest. Memorize spells up to 12 hours. With the initial 12 hours rest for 9th level spells, he could only memorize 2 spells of 9th level and he would still have 7 hours left for a few spells. All in all, it would take about three days.
Sadly, that's also inaccurate to phrase it that way. To reach 2nd level and 20th level for example, yes the magic-user is second only to the paladin in xp needed to advance. But, for example, to reach 10th level the magic-user needs LESS xp than clerics, fighters, paladins, rangers, assassins and monks. In fact, they need HALF the xp that a fighter needs at that level. Clerics need less than fighters at that level. Even a ranger needs only 65% of the xp to make 10th as a fighter does. Comparison of xp requirements across classes is never a straight-forward matter in AD&D because the tables are that inconsistent.
The mortality rate among young magic user going on adventure was staggering when played correctly. But yes, the tables were highly inconsistant.