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4E Will the 4E classes be deliberately unbalanced to get players to read?

joela

First Post
Yeah, yeah, old, news and all that jazz. Still, it gives one pause to be reassured that 4E provide the balance that 3.x was supposed to have been ;)

From The Reason for Imbalance in D20 :

Originally Posted by T. Foster
But remember that, by Monte Cook's own admission, they included a bunch of intentionally "sub-optimal" options and advice in the 3.0 rulebooks as a way to encourage "rules mastery" among the player-base -- that those players who studied the rules (or hung out at the Character Optimization board at WotC) would be "rewarded" by having a real advantage over the casual players who just (foolishly) followed the advice in the books. That attitude (which seems to have been carried over directly from Magic: The Gathering) was one of the biggest turn-offs of 3E for me, because at this point in my life I have zero interest in "mastering" a ruleset, but neither do I want to be stigmatized as an "inferior" player by my decision not to do so (nor do I want to kowtow to some rules-geek for his condescension-laden "help").

Originally Posted by Monte Cook's blog
Magic also has a concept of "Timmy cards." These are cards that look cool, but aren't actually that great in the game. The purpose of such cards is to reward people for really mastering the game, and making players feel smart when they've figured out that one card is better than the other. While D&D doesn't exactly do that, it is true that certain game choices are deliberately better than others.

Toughness, for example, has its uses, but in most cases it's not the best choice of feat. If you can use martial weapons, a longsword is better than many other one-handed weapons. And so on -- there are many other, far more intricate examples. (Arguably, this kind of thing has always existed in D&D. Mostly, we just made sure that we didn't design it away -- we wanted to reward mastery of the game.)
 
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Family

First Post
D&D is a Co-Operative game with a Human GM (not an AI) balancing it. I say make the character you'd like to be, and play them the way you think is fun.

Balancing energy is best spent on learning how to play together as friends and as PCs and hinting for tweeks from the GM.

Now my Female Dwarf Bard-Barian with 10 in all stats who refuses to use magic is off to the underdark... ;)
 

Oni

First Post
I love mastering a rules system and wringing out every stupid advantage I can. It's one of the things I enjoyed most about M:tG and WoW (PvPing in particular). However it's not really something I look for in a tabletop rpg. That is it's a great theory of gameplay in a competative venue, but not cooperative gaming. In a competative setting fun is derived from besting your competition, but without direct competition (or the desire to create it) trying to wring every last bonus and plus out of a given framework loses its charm, at least for me. However I'm keyed into the "mastering" mindset enough that it also takes the fun of things out of it for me if what I want to play isn't viable. For instance I've always wanted to play a sorcerer/wizard in 3e, except I never did. I loved the concept but couldn't enjoy the play because it was laughable. That little competative voice in the back of my head couldn't let me because I knew that everyone elses character would be so much more capable. I would say that because Dnd isn't a competative game balancing the system is even more important, to allow people the more fully enjoy a diversity of choices without penalizing them.

I'm not sure if that's entirely clear, but that's my rant for now. :)
 

Victim

First Post
Design comments have indicated that system mastery is to be less rewarded and that they're trying to avoid tricking people into making crappy choices.
 

Shroomy

Adventurer
Nah, while I don't think every power, class feature, and feat will be equally powerful, I don't think that they intentionally put sub-optimal choices into the system. It runs contrary to one of the central tenets of 4e design.
 


Ondo

First Post
The exact quote from the Multiclassing excerpt: "In 4th Edition, we strived to make each character option useful. Since D&D lacks a competitive or deck building element, it's silly to hide bad choices in the rules."
 

Yeah, they're not just no longer intentionally putting system mastery in, they're going out of their way to keep as small a difference as possible, From what I've read, Mearls in particular seems to find the idea of having to play and "study" to understand the ruleset enough to make the character you want to play almost offensive.
 

I like another type of system mastery. Intentional weak options are bad; I don't think a player should be penalized for his choices. But I like the fact that some options in a system take more time to learn and master, or are simply more difficult to pull. And when a player manages that, I think it's great that he benefits from doing it.

I'm thinking of the 2nd Edition mage, for example. He was almost impossible to play at low levels, dropping with a single attack roll, and even at high levels required a lot of attention and careful choice from the player. But the mage surely was powerful at the high levels. It was a trade off, but a difficult one to achieve.

I think all games, from monopoly to RPGs, benefit from mechanics of this kind. Give something for those who are willing to invest their time on the mastery of the elements of gameplay. You don't need to take away the fun of the casual player to do that.

Cheers,
 

Oni

First Post
Giltonio_Santos said:
I like another type of system mastery. Intentional weak options are bad; I don't think a player should be penalized for his choices. But I like the fact that some options in a system take more time to learn and master, or are simply more difficult to pull. And when a player manages that, I think it's great that he benefits from doing it.

I'm thinking of the 2nd Edition mage, for example. He was almost impossible to play at low levels, dropping with a single attack roll, and even at high levels required a lot of attention and careful choice from the player. But the mage surely was powerful at the high levels. It was a trade off, but a difficult one to achieve.

I think all games, from monopoly to RPGs, benefit from mechanics of this kind. Give something for those who are willing to invest their time on the mastery of the elements of gameplay. You don't need to take away the fun of the casual player to do that.

Cheers,

I'm not a fan of the power as a reward for difficulty model really in any respect. The thing is the option will be substand for some players and too good for others resulting in bringing twice the problems to the game system. The fact is there will always be players that will be able to play a class well even if it was deliberately made more intricate and with a higher intended difficulty, but once you pass that obstacle you just have an unfun, unbalanced, class that sucks enjoyment out of the game for other people.
 

Ridley's Cohort

First Post
This grognard is skeptical.

"System Mastery" is just a lame excuse for poor design and needless complication.

Any system half as complex as 1e/2e/3e will have inevitably have significant System Mastery elements, perhaps for good, perhaps for ill.

On second thought, it could be that the designers who came up with that lame idea just never mastered any game that was actually complicated or difficult.
 

FadedC

First Post
Ridley's Cohort said:
"System Mastery" is just a lame excuse for poor design and needless complication.

Any system half as complex as 1e/2e/3e will have inevitably have significant System Mastery elements, perhaps for good, perhaps for ill.

On second thought, it could be that the designers who came up with that lame idea just never mastered any game that was actually complicated or difficult.

The idea comes from magic, where it was used to good effect. Weither it should be part of D&D is another matter entirely (I would say no).
 

NaturalZero

Adventurer
Most of 3E's system mastery issues were due to how interconnected things were, not simply the intentional inclusion of "timmy choices". You had "normal" melee attacks but you could stack ability A from a feat, ability B from a class ability, ability C from an item and so on, to do enough damage to down a tarrasque. Likewise, you could find ways of stacking metamagic after metamagic onto one spell until you were dealing thousands of points of damage. 4E seems to be nixing this design paradigm by compartmentalizing things. It doesnt seem like your really going to be able to stack multiple feats, powers and other buffs into your offense ive abilities because each of the attack powers is self contained.
 

muffin_of_chaos

First Post
NaturalZero said:
It doesnt seem like your really going to be able to stack multiple feats, powers and other buffs into your offense ive abilities because each of the attack powers is self contained.
Which seems to be what makes 4E awesome.
 

AtomicPope

Explorer
Family said:
...I say make the character you'd like to be, and play them the way you think is fun.
I think this is a major problem in roleplaying. Players shouldn't make anything they want to be. Gygax said, in Role-Playing Mastery, many players end up going down the wrong road of Role Assumption or acting out a role they wish to assume (real or feigned). The problem this leads to is the game becoming too personal at the risk of enjoyment.

It's like that person who always plays the same character. It's just no fun for anyone else.
 

Mal Malenkirk

First Post
It's impossible to make every choice of equal value. But at least you can make various character build balanced against each other, and within these build you can make the 'high Value' choices more numerous and intuitive than they were in 3e.

Example : There is this racial Giant Fighting dwarven feat that gives you +1 to AC and Reflex against Large creature.

Is it a good choice? Well, if you are dwarven ranger using a crossbow... not really. If you are a fighter always on the front line, than hell yes. But this is fairly intuitive, no need of a D&D degree to realize that a class that gets targeted by Large creatures about 5x more often that another will get about 5x more use out of the feat.

Yet rules mastery hasn't been entirely wiped out even in that example ; It takes a little experience that a newbie might not have to know that this is a bad feat to take on level 1. You should pick it up a few level later when you are being faced by Lage creature on a routine basis.

But if we can really retrain feat, than it's no big deal.
 



AtomicPope

Explorer
NaturalZero said:
Most of 3E's system mastery issues were due to how interconnected things were, not simply the intentional inclusion of "timmy choices". You had "normal" melee attacks but you could stack ability A from a feat, ability B from a class ability, ability C from an item and so on, to do enough damage to down a tarrasque. Likewise, you could find ways of stacking metamagic after metamagic onto one spell until you were dealing thousands of points of damage. 4E seems to be nixing this design paradigm by compartmentalizing things. It doesnt seem like your really going to be able to stack multiple feats, powers and other buffs into your offense ive abilities because each of the attack powers is self contained.
Which is much better for the game.

I can min/max with the best of them. I'm a very competant mathematician and analyst (I worked as an 0261 in the Corps) and I realize how quickly 3e could get out of hand with a bit of number crunching. The problem with feats and class features overlapping in terms of overall ability is the larger a the system became (the height of 3.5) the more out of control it became.

It's very easy in 3e to create characters that can dish out 500-1000pts of damage in a single round to a single target. Players think it's only fair if they are the broken elements in the game. But GM's are allowed to use the same feats and class features for monsters. When players face the "Rival NPC Party" one the them will end up in a TPK. Because 3e was so out of hand, most of the time a PC Party would suffer several deaths at the hand of a Rival NPC group just because the damage output was way too high.

This speaks to the mathematical flaw of the CR system in general. A single NPC class was one CR lower than their class total. This is fundamentally flawed. It suggests that all classes are equal (in 3e they are not). One warmage or sorcerer with appropriate gear, feats, and features can immolate an entire PC group in a single surprise round. But at the same time, many monsters cannot.


This list of inconsistencies in 3e could go on forever. Both as a player and as a DM I'm glad they're finally creating a unified system that has standards which applies to all classes equally.
 

robertliguori

First Post
*shrugs*
A complex system with the potential for synergy will have more-balanced and less-balanced options. I'd personally love to see a M&MM-style explicit power guideline built into the rules, such that you can consult a table and determine that a level 6 striker should have AC, HPs, attack/average damage values, and so forth, as well as additional elements (number of healing surges, mobility or stealth tricks, etc.) that are expected. As it stands, I am reasonably sure that you will get optimizers zeroing in on optimal synergies between separate elements, or exploiting assumptions to gain a persistent edge. For instance, a party that was leader, defender, defender, defender and used its magic items to focus on mobility and reducing vulnerability to ranged attacks looks very much like it can bring the smack down on expected 4E encounters by whittling down foes and relying on its far-above-average ability to soak damage.

4E looks to have the assumption that people will try to optimize built into it; I find this a welcome change. In the ideal case, of course, there will be a notable cost to a non-optimized character, and a noticeable benefit to an optimized one, but neither will render the character unbalanced.
 

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