4E Should I play 4e?

jgsugden

Adventurer
It is distinctly different from other editions of D&D. While it is a good systsem, it is so different that I really do not think of it as D&D.

If someone is offering to include you in a 4E game, there is no reason to turn it down because of the system. If you're thinking of starting a D&D game, I would recommend 5E as my system of choice.
 

Lylandra

Explorer
It totally depends on your preferences.

First, 4e is pretty balanced. To the fact that people may call it over-balanced.

Second, everyone has powers and the classes' mechanical skeletons work basically the same. Each class has its mechanical schtick which correlates to this class' preferred role(s). Everything else is streamlined as well.

Third, there are class roles: Defender/Tank, Striker/DD, Leader/buffer/enabler, Controller/AE/CC

Fourth, combat is very strategic and tends to be long. Participants have huge HP pools and there are a lot of conditions to be tracked.

Fifth, no skill points. You are either trained or untrained. (I found the skill system to be one of the major downfalls of 4e as you cannot really do much to influence these numbers and I'm a skill girl)

Sixth, magic items. You need to read through lots of them. They are pivotal to your character's power.

Seventh, you can live without a dedicated healer as everyone can heal themselves a bit via second wind. Leaders are awesome though and they can provide a boost to healing.

Eigth, powers. Expect to read through a lot of them. Everyone gets them and gets to switch them regularly. They are mostly only combat-relevant though. AEDU system.

All in all I liked 4e for its idea of strategic combat and the fact that martials had a chance to shine, too. The roles system was great. Rituals are nifty, too. But there's a lack of utility (magical and non-magical), too much reliance on magic items that do too little in terms of fluff (feats suffer the same) and too little complexity outside of combat situations. At least compared to the really sweet combat system.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
It's a great game in my view. Just be prepared that combats will tend to run slower than D&D 5e, especially if the group is unfamiliar with the system. You or your group may or may not have access to the online character builder (I still have it). If you do not, that can make character creation and advancement a bit more time consuming if all the books are open for use.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
It was a good table-top tactical board game. Otherwise not for me for a variety of reasons. Others enjoyed it I hear.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
It's a very fun game, tied with 5e as my favorite editions of D&D. There are certainly aspects of it that I've grown disenchanted with over the years. Having multiple build vectors (class-theme-paragon path-epic destiny, power selection, feats, and magic items) can be overwhelming, especially given the number of feats and magical items that quickly accumulated in the source books. There's probably too much scaling in the core rules, with both attacks and defense AND hit points and damage increasing quickly with level.

That being said, it has by far the most enjoyable combats of any edition of D&D (assuming you're not the type that wants combat to be over quickly so you can get back to the exploring stuff), and the roleplaying is loose and freeform, which is the way I prefer it. The combination of theme and class and race right at the start gives you a ton of roleplay hooks, and taking paragon paths and epic destinies only increases those.

Plus, it's the game that gives you abilities like "Steal the color of a target's eyes" or "Pick a spot in the multiverse. Any spot. A few days later, you show up there." or "When you die, your legend is so powerful that your trusted lieutenant takes up your mantle and becomes you." as special powers. That's just awesome, and I'll always love 4e for it.
 

MrDM69

Villager
There are certainly aspects of it that I've grown disenchanted with over the years. Having multiple build vectors (class-theme-paragon path-epic destiny, power selection, feats, and magic items) can be overwhelming, especially given the number of feats and magical items that quickly accumulated in the source books. There's probably too much scaling in the core rules, with both attacks and defense AND hit points and damage increasing quickly with level.
I've heard this too. I have the 4e Player's Handbook, and it seems that all of the classes have magic, and I prefer only the spellcasters to be able to use magic. 5e classes have special abilities, but there aren't as many as there are in 4e.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
I've heard this too. I have the 4e Player's Handbook, and it seems that all of the classes have magic, and I prefer only the spellcasters to be able to use magic. 5e classes have special abilities, but there aren't as many as there are in 4e.
Well, it depends on your meaning. If by magic, you're referring to mechanics with discrete blocks of rules text that are resource gated, then yes, every class does have magic. Narratively, classes that are martial (fighter, ranger, rogue, warlord) aren't using "magic", they're just doing crazy action movie stuff that works because they live in a magical world.

5e classes are certainly less complex than 4e classes, and I certainly wouldn't want to steer you in 4e's directions if fighters and wizards having similar mechanics rubs you the wrong way.
 

EpicureanDM

Villager
Yes, of course. Many of 4e's design concepts form the foundation of 5e, so it'll be somewhat familiar. ;)

If you've got experience with 5e, you might consider beginning with 4e's Essentials line. Those books were produced late in 4e's cycle and represent a simplification and unification of all of the player-facing rules that came before. You won't have quite as many character building options as you would with the regular PHB and Power books, but some complained that the mountain of options became too intimidating. All of the PC information in the Essentials line is fully compatible with all other 4e material, so there's no compatibility issue. Essentials just represents an easy on-ramp to 4e. Think of it as 4e's equivalent of the 5e Starter Set. ;)

If you're going to be the DM, you absolutely must play 4e. It's the most balanced version of D&D. You never have to worry about what options the players have chosen, because the game's well-balanced all the way to 30th level. No more worrying about EL and CR. It generally just works. Monsters are written using a slightly different set of rules than PCs and are a snap to run. Spellcasting monsters and NPCs are easy and fun, since they don't rely on the same spells as PCs. If you do decide to DM the game, people generally agree that WotC didn't have monster design properly figured out until late in the cycle. Replace Monster Manuals 1 and 2 with Monster Manual 3 and the Essentials monster book.
 

EpicureanDM

Villager
I've heard this too. I have the 4e Player's Handbook, and it seems that all of the classes have magic, and I prefer only the spellcasters to be able to use magic. 5e classes have special abilities, but there aren't as many as there are in 4e.
That's not the case. All of the classes share the same design concepts, but there are several martial classes in the PHG (Fighter, Rogue, Warlord) that don't use magic. If it helps bridge the gap, think of the 4e Fighter as 5e's Battle Master Fighter. For the 4e Rogue, they're close to 5e's Thief Rogue. There's no direct analog to 4e's (wonderful) Warlord class, but they're also close to a Battle Master Fighter.

If you think that a Battle Master's Maneuver dice are "magic," then you're right: every 4e class has magic. If you don't, then you're more comfortable with 4e than you think. ;)
 

Jacob Lewis

The One with the Force
I've heard this too. I have the 4e Player's Handbook, and it seems that all of the classes have magic, and I prefer only the spellcasters to be able to use magic.
You mean like Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters in 5e?
 

Gadget

Explorer
I agree with most of the above except I would counter on two points: 1) There is not near the reliance on Magic Items that most of the other, previous editions, of D&D had; and 2) There is not as much "magic" in classes as 5e has (Martial classes have martial exploits, similar to a battle master maneuvers, but is not strictly magical).
 

Jer

Adventurer
I've heard this too. I have the 4e Player's Handbook, and it seems that all of the classes have magic, and I prefer only the spellcasters to be able to use magic. 5e classes have special abilities, but there aren't as many as there are in 4e.
Every class doesn't have "magic" - every class has "powers". There's a difference.

Fighters, warlords, and other martial classes in 4e have powers in the same way that Batman has powers in a Mutants & Masterminds game - the various maneuvers that Batman can make are given a mechanical expression as a "power" that has a narrative description that matches the expectation of what Batman can do. The fact that they are mechanically realized in the game as "powers" is a game mechanism that is supposed to be separate from the fiction.

Some folks also don't like that martial characters have daily/encounter powers - they fell like that 1/battle or 1/day restriction makes them "magical". OTOH, if you think about fights in narratives (action movies, comic books, etc.) there are often stunts that a character will only be able to get away with once in a fight - or even once in a whole movie/story. If you think about martial maneuvers that way then the restrictions make more sense - they're narrative restrictions on the fight scenes, not descriptions of a character's capability. Many people HATE this aspect of 4e and I understand that - if you want to think of a character's abilities as purely descriptions of "what they are capable of" you're likely not going to like that framework.

Some folks do not like this kind of rules framework - and that's okay. If you don't like the idea of "powers" that are just mechanical descriptions of maneuvers that a trained fighter has then 4e is not going to be the game for you. If you can't help but think of any "special ability" that a character has as "magic" then 4e will be a stumbling block. OTOH, if you're okay with viewing the "powers" that a fighter has as special maneuvers that they can perform, then 4e might work for you.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I would certainly recommend giving 4e a shot. Personally, I think it’s a great system, but even if you find it’s not for you, it should be an enlightening experience.
 

ART!

Explorer
First, 4e is pretty balanced. To the fact that people may call it over-balanced.

Second, everyone has powers and the classes' mechanical skeletons work basically the same. Each class has its mechanical schtick which correlates to this class' preferred role(s). Everything else is streamlined as well.

Third, there are class roles: Defender/Tank, Striker/DD, Leader/buffer/enabler, Controller/AE/CC

Fourth, combat is very strategic and tends to be long. Participants have huge HP pools and there are a lot of conditions to be tracked.

Fifth, no skill points. You are either trained or untrained. (I found the skill system to be one of the major downfalls of 4e as you cannot really do much to influence these numbers and I'm a skill girl)

Sixth, magic items. You need to read through lots of them. They are pivotal to your character's power.

Seventh, you can live without a dedicated healer as everyone can heal themselves a bit via second wind. Leaders are awesome though and they can provide a boost to healing.

Eigth, powers. Expect to read through a lot of them. Everyone gets them and gets to switch them regularly. They are mostly only combat-relevant though. AEDU system.

All in all I liked 4e for its idea of strategic combat and the fact that martials had a chance to shine, too. The roles system was great. Rituals are nifty, too. But there's a lack of utility (magical and non-magical), too much reliance on magic items that do too little in terms of fluff (feats suffer the same) and too little complexity outside of combat situations. At least compared to the really sweet combat system.
Based on my experience with the system this is a very good assessment.

I am usually reluctant to run spellcasters because of the extra work, but when our DM told me that non-spellcasters in 4E were about as complicated as spellcasters, I nearly leapt for joy. I ran a cleric for the first time in well over a decade.

If you like skills, 4E doesn't seem to care much about them. They're there, and you will use them, but why they weren't worked into the interconnected, balanced system of feats, powers, spells, etc. is beyond me.
 

MrDM69

Villager
That's not the case. All of the classes share the same design concepts, but there are several martial classes in the PHG (Fighter, Rogue, Warlord) that don't use magic.
The fighter has too many features or exploits to keep track of at once. In a way I think of these as magic or spells. 5e has fewer and more effective features. It's much easier to keep track of.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The fighter has too many features or exploits to keep track of at once. In a way I think of these as magic or spells. 5e has fewer and more effective features. It's much easier to keep track of.
Fewer? Yes. Easier to keep track of? Yes. More effective? ...my instinct says this is a misapprehension, but I suppose it depends what you mean by effective.

Anyway, 4e is definitely high on complexity compared to 5e, which is one of the reasons I haven’t gone back to it. Keep in mind the context though, after late 3.5, 4e was a significant reduction in complexity.
 

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