Out of Sync with 4E

edited June 2008 in Story Games
I read Judd's blog post on 4enfraude and it got me reflecting. I realized that I'm out of sync with this community when it comes to 4E. It feels to me that most people here have been into Story Games for long enough that going back to D&D is an interesting experience; they're ready to try it again. I played a ton of D&D and d20 games from 2000 until last August when I discovered Story Games. I've only been playing SGs for less than a year - I'm not ready to go back!

I'm not upset about 4E or railing against it or anything, just feel like I'm not ready and everyone else is excited for it. If it had come out a couple years from now, I'd probably be excited too.

Anyone else feel like that?
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Comments

  • Yes, I feel the same. Well, nearly. It's not that I don't want to go back, just that I'm not interested.

    I don't begrudge anyone their excitement, but I'm not interested myself.

    I feel like I felt at an indie convention when someone suggested playing old-school D&D. Everyone else looked happy and thought "Oh, do we have to?".

    Graham
  • I'm pleased to say I ran my first game of In a Wicked Age at Endgame for World Wide D&D Day and it went very well, with the prince losing the use of his legs, the wizardess possessed by the king's ghost getting stabbed in the eye, and the prince's brother and spymaster appearing in the next chapter, perhaps with a flashback to his boyhood where he learned his casual cruelty and dandy fashion sense. The failed midwife found a new and fulfilling career as the spymaster's poisonmaster. It was a lot of treacherous fun.

    The D&Ders had fun too. Apparently things were killed and other things were looted, but there was only one adventure, so it was more of a D&D afternoon than a D&D day.

    Both can co-exist in harmony, they don't need to knife fight in a phone booth.
  • Scott voice my same discomfort. After fighting for more than 10 years with a gaming group that contained too many people who only wanted to play AD&D (I could play other games, but only if I GMed them, and with some players that almost every evening asked to return to D&D, no matter if the other players enjoyed the game and asked them to stop and let us play. The other GMs in the group wanted to play other games, too but they always buckle under pressure and always played D&D at the end, so I was the only one who did it and I could play other games as a player only at conventions). At the end I did break the group (and some friendship in the bargain), took the best players (only the girls basically) in another group, to play indie games, and I think you can guess how much I would be interested in playing D&D now (I can give you an hint: when we formed my current gaming group, it was with a precise condition, to which everyone had to agree or not join: "we will never play D&D in this group").

    So yes, you can say that I have "issues" with D&D. But it's not only that: I really can't see, even after all the description I have read of the "betterment" built in this edition, what of value this game can give that games like The Burning Wheel, TSOY, Red Box Hack, IAWA, Sorcerer&Sword, Reign, The Riddle of Steel don't already give. It's not stuck fifteen years in the past like the 3rd edition? It's only 3 years in the past? Big deal...

    But I really don't like butting in the threads where other people give free reign to their enthusiasm. It was done too many time to me and I don't really think is good form. I didn't post in these threads (apart from the one about rule zero, that was rather generic), and in any case, not having read the books myself I could not have said nothing more than "I am not interested, thanks" (and I am really too fed up with people who talk about indie games without having ever played one to begin to act like them)

    So why I am posting this now? Because in this case it's not to rain on other people's parade, but it's to say a "you're not alone" to Scott.

    And for asking, to everybody who think they can do it, an objective (or nearly enough) review (or comment) of D&D 4th edition, without all the emotional baggage that goes around the "old game of my youth" or the "game of the evil corporation", and without any consideration about "what it can meant for the hobby"

    An objective valuation about the objective value of this game, as if it was published with another name, from another company, in a world where D&D didn't exist and the strongest sellers are Donjon, Burning Wheel, Reign and TsOY.

    (yes, a imaginary objective valutation. Aren't they all imaginary, after all?)
  • Posted By: CarlBoth can co-exist in harmony, they don't need to knife fight in a phone booth.
    Which is ironic, since I had a bagful of D&D tiles under my chair while Ubal-Noo was busy being stabbed in the eye by her half-brother, the prince Rab Syn.
  • Posted By: Graham WI feel like I felt at an indie convention when someone suggested playing old-school D&D. Everyone else looked happy and thought "Oh, do we have to?".
    Was that SteveCon? I ended up playing and had quite a fun time playing my evil priest persona Provost Gondry. Many tropes were usurped and distorted.

    I played 4e on Friday night. It seems, from my limited experience, to be a pretty decent tactical combat game with extra added roleplaying bits. D&D was pretty much ever thus but now the tactical side has been sharpened up no end and is on par, and possibly better than, the tactical experience of WoW and other such games. But being a tactical combat game, it does run rather slowly. Resolution of situations is much slower than I like meaning that the story doesn't move along very quickly. For those of us who are story gamers, this is a bit of a drag. As is, I find, the whole levelling up business. It's so OOC and artificial.

    But for those people who like this kind of game, which is, let's face it, the vast majority of gamers, I think WotC have delivered. I really do hope that the game does well because it's the biggest lever around for getting more people into gaming, more potential story gamers.
  • Posted By: Moreno R.So why I am posting this now? Because in this case it's not to rain on other people's parade, but it's to say a "you're not alone" to Scott.
    Thanks! This and the other response have picked me up a bit. It's always good to hear you're not alone!
    Posted By: CarlBoth can co-exist in harmony, they don't need to knife fight in a phone booth.
    Not sure I entirely agree. I don't think you have to be all or nothing, but there is a limited player base. I started going to local cons in May 2000. In August 2000, 3rd Edition launched. Within a few years, the non-D&D and non-D20 games available at local cons had dwindled significantly. There used to be a lot of other options available, but by the middle of the decade it felt like all anyone wanted to play was D20. Now I was heavily into D20 at the time, so I didn't feel it as acutely as others, but I still felt it. I enjoyed trying out new games, that was one of my facvorite things about cons, and I didn't have as many options as I used to.

    As 3.5 was winding down, a lot of new stuff (including Story Games I brought) emerged at the cons: Serenity, Savage Worlds, etc. I think there's another trough in the sine wave headed my way and in a couple years no one at the cons will be interested in the non-D&D stuff. But I've only got one cycle's evidence, so who knows? It might be the nature of the hobby to swing back-and-forth like that, but maybe it's more of a 20 year cycle where 4E will be more like 2E in the long run.
    Posted By: GB SteveI really do hope that the game does well because it's the biggest lever around for getting more people into gaming, more potential story gamers.
    I agree. Now how long is it polite to wait before I try to steal the newbies away to play Story Games? (I guess the answer is "about 12 hours" for Carl!)
  • @Moreno: your issue is clearly stated in the first paragraph. You have a lot of *DnD (bad) experience.

    There are basically two kinds of people that are non particularly happy with 4E, in my experience: people who came to hate DnD because of the long and painful exposure (mostly to ADnD), and people who never abandoned it through the editions, bitching but buying manuals (LOTS of manuals) because it was their pet game. Sure, it had changed, but it was still DnD, trying (in their minds) to simulate the imaginary world of whatever.

    Both groups can't really enjoy 4E, IMO: you and the ones who left, disgusted, cannot really stand anything dnd anymore. The others are stunned by the sudden change: after 20+ years of (badly executed) Sim drift and "toolkit system" that allegedly "allowed you do do whatever you wanted"... they get a strongly Gam system, with no support for Sim play and a very strong skirmish tactical bent. Yeah, it's a different game (or at least looks very much like one).

    ...that's why I got interested. I don't have the baggage. I don't even have the emotional baggage: I played briefly red box DnD when I was very young, and even if it was the first game, and it brought me into the hobby... I did not have that much fun. Advanced Heroquest was better, for example. :)

    I'll play 4E, if I can, probably on MapTool and Skype, spending exactly zero on minis and battlemaps and presumably zero even on future supplements (take that, wotc!) :)
  • Posted By: renatoramThere are basically two kinds of people that are non particularly happy with 4E, in my experience: people who came to hate DnD because of the long and painful exposure (mostly to ADnD), and people who never abandoned it through the editions, bitching but buying manuals (LOTS of manuals) because it was their pet game. Sure, it had changed, but it was still DnD, trying (in their minds) to simulate the imaginary world of whatever.
    I'm not either of those - I had a ton of fun playing in running 3.x for 7 years (and AD&D before that). And I bought 3.5 without a second thought. But then again, I wouldn't say I'm unhappy with 4E, I just don't feel ready.
  • Do you mean you are not ready to go back to playing DnD?

    Then you are in the "sick and tired" camp... it's just that you are not very sick of it, just tired. :)

    As I said, I'm seeing mostly people who did not touch DnD for 15+ years that are excited... because for them this is a new game! :-D
  • Posted By: renatoramThen you are in the "sick and tired" camp... it's just that you are not very sick of it, just tired. :)
    There are two types of people in this world. Those who need to put everyone into two groups and those who don't. ;-)
    Posted By: renatoramAs I said, I'm seeing mostly people who did not touch DnD for 15+ years that are excited... because for them this is a new game! :-D
    That's was true for 3rd Edition as well. A lot of folks had played AD&D and never touched 2nd Edition.
  • I think the internet and the rise of small press games (which coincided with it in many ways) makes this "pendulum" shift different, as does the size of the crowd that's still going to be playing 3.x for a while. Indie games aren't going to go anywhere. In fact, Wizards basically ceded the territory of games that take a more narrative approach to play, allowing the 3.x crowd, White Wolf (and other larger games companies), and small press games to continue down that road while D&D4 goes the way of Iron Heroes + Agon. Honestly, I expect this will actually serve to increase the diversity of roleplaying in the long run, even if, temporarily, the excitement about D&D4 seems to obscure many of the other options.
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: scottdunphy

    There are two types of people in this world. Those who need to put everyone into two groups and those who don't. ;-)
    Heh, sorry if I sounded snarky, I don't want to pigeonhole you... but it fits, loosely.
    But I can totally see your point: you played the hell out of DnD, then discovered something different (dunno about you specifically, but for many people I've met it's the discovery even of the possibility of there being something truly different), and now you have dozend of games in front of you (I'm thinking about story games) that are each as different from each other as they are different from DnD... why go back and play the same old, when there are so many choices? I can understand you.

    And in fact, I don't think even a single one of the s-g crowd that is now cheering 4E will start playing dnd exclusively, or for a long time: we know there's more.
  • I'm not in either group. I'm just not that bothered by D&D, like I'm not that bothered by Tolkien.

    Graham
  • edited June 2008
    Right on, Graham: you are in the "utterly uninterested" third group :)

    Which, combined with your typical brit aplomb, makes you much less noisily annoyed :-D
    Just resist for a month or two: the 4E craze will go down, and it will pass like all the other hype surges. Remember when on s-g there was a full first page of IAWA Oracles?

    Someone will try 4E, and like it. Someone will try it a couple of times for novely, and drop it. Someone will hate it. The world will move on :)

    -EDIT-
    Oh, almost forgetting... I guess you were making a generic example, because I can think of few things more separated from tolkien fantasy than dnd and still be called fantasy... maybe Bas-Lag, but then again, it's been called science fiction before...
  • I'm a crusty old fuck who gave up AD&D twenty-five years ago. Nope, still not interested. Go kill monsters and take their stuff on the freeway. And take your minis with you.

    But I am very meta-interested in the kerfuffle surrounding 4e.
  • Not interested.

    I actually went into Forbidden Planet in London on Saturday and briefly looked at the books. Everything about them rubs me the wrong way, to be honest.

    If other SGers can find excitement in 4e, great. I will still be left at the sideline with a slight "Huh?" expression on my face.
  • Posted By: renatoramHeh, sorry if I sounded snarky, I don't want to pigeonhole you... but it fits, loosely.
    I'm just playin'. No offense was taken. I wish this forum had better smilies...
    Posted By: renatoramBut I can totally see your point: you played the hell out of DnD, then discovered something different (dunno about you specifically, but for many people I've met it's the discovery even of thepossibilityof there being something truly different), and now you have dozend of games in front of you (I'm thinking about story games) that are each as different from each other as they are different from DnD... why go back and play the same old, when there are so many choices? I can understand you.
    Yes! That is exactly the category I fit in. I mean, I haven't even had a chance to play DitV, SotC, or Mortal Coil yet and I own and have read all three books!
  • Btw, Scott... welcome to the story gaming madness :-D

    I've restarted dumping money on games and dice (and poker chips, and dicebags, and card decks, and counters...) after renewing my passion for the hobby with these nice games... :)
  • I haven't gotten to actually play many story games, because my group still considers Savage Worlds too hippie. So, 4th edition moves me closer to story games than I've generally gotten to play. I'm finally starting to break in a little--I've gotten through a pitch, pilot and first episode of PtA now, and I'm going to play my first game of DitV later today, which tells you just how rough it's been finding someone to play more interesting games with ... but for me, while 4th ed. doesn't take me as far as I want to go, at least it gets me further in the right direction.
  • edited June 2008
    So, here's my situation: DnD 3.5 occupied a niche that I can best describe as "DnD 3.5's niche." The entire rest of my RPG pie-chart is filled by other games that do what they do well.

    4E comes out and abandons that niche. But... it's got nowhere to go. If I wanted to play a gamist, tactics-heavy RPG, I'd play Agon. If I wanted to play a tactical minis game, well, WotC has already sold me that game. If I wanted to play WoW... I don't anymore, that's why I stopped played WoW.

    In changing niche, 4E also dropped a bunch of things that were the primary appeal of 3.5 to my wife and I. The change in magic is a big thing: 4E has basically no out-of-combat magic. No, the tiny rituals chapter doesn't cut it. Characters no longer change in such dramatic ways: you don't completely throw out the entire tactical and strategic landscape every 5 levels anymore.

    It might be a good game, but I honestly don't care. I've already got great games that don't require me to read 550 pages of text (Player's Handbook + DMG pagecount), and DnD 3.5 already gives me the experience I want out of a DnD game.

    One last thing on the 4E tactical experience - we, as a people, frequently broke 3.5 supplements before they were actually released (infinite loops, irresistible 1-hit kills, etc...). I don't think we ever solved the game before release, however, as we have with 4E - solved as in blackjack, where optimal play is precisely known and the only interesting thing is how the random number generator every-so-slightly tweaks things this particular time.
  • It is in no way surprising to me that elements of the online community hate 4e for being too "theory inspired" and elements of the online gaming community have a negative reaction about it being popular amongst 'story-gamers.'

    And '4enfraude' is a great term.

    -Marco
  • re the issue of 4e focusing on combat, I think the Skill Challenge and "stunts" parts of the DMG provide quite a bit of scope to broaden things. They can make issues that were just "painfully dull" in 3.5 interesting (e.g., the roll for getting lost, calculating the travel time effects, random encounters in long distance travel was a pain in my view, translated into a Skill Challenge this is now playable in a narrative fashion).

    The fact that magic has been "cut back" from spells that "nerf" various non-combat challenges is attractive to me. It means that outside of the battlefield, it is "all about the skills, all about rituals, all about roleplaying baby!" The Wizard and the Warlock aren't actually better when it comes to most of life's real challenges than are the Fighter or Paladin. It also means there are fewer magical effects whizzing about that undermine the assumptions of a medieval society. It looks like it actually makes sense to build castles in a 4e world - whoo hoo!

    Now lots of games run in 4e may hardly ever spend any time not on a battlefield and sketch what's between those times, and of course 4e is mostly about the battlefield and pretending otherwise is silly. If you want good narratively inspiring story-producing play, go play In A Wicked Age. I admit my perfect gaming place is likely 50% 4e and 50% IAWA, scratching different issues.

    Rob
  • Hi Eric,
    Posted By: Eric
    we, as a people, frequently broke 3.5 supplements before they were actually released (infinite loops, irresistible 1-hit kills, etc...). I don't think we ever solved the game before release, however, as we have with 4E - solved as in blackjack, where optimal play is precisely known
    Really? Can you elaborate on this statement? Because I'm not sure what you're referring to, or why you think this is so.

    Thanks,

    Robert.
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: Robert AhrensReally? Can you elaborate on this statement? Because I'm not sure what you're referring to, or why you think this is so.
    I wrote a nice reply and hit the "add your comments" button, at which point story-games claimed I wasn't signed in and ate the post. So no, it seems that the internet has decided that I can't elaborate. Short version: you win the game by tekken-juggling endlessly. You can check, off the top of my head, here http://tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=48645&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=285 and here http://tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=48659&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0 for more.
  • Posted By: Valvorikre the issue of 4e focusing on combat...
    4E love in the "we're not thrilled about 4E" thread? It's more likely than you think.
  • @Eric: those are awfully long threads, but I think I got the gist of it... it does not surprise me in the least that there are some optimal combinations of skills/powers that "win" the game: any game complicated enough (with enough rules) will have them. To avoid them you'd waste more energy than it is worth, IMO.

    The point is... is it fun? To even take the time to think of those is completely alien to me. Just like I never ever took the time to read the "game winning combos" for videogames, let alone using them. What would the point be?
  • I have never been interested in D&D. I've played it several times, but not regularly.

    I have seen no evidence that the game actually make any real "tactical simulation". It may be said to make tactics on an abstract level, and to sprinkle the gameplay with primitive roleplaying elements. That's all. Nothing of much interest in it, actually.

    You don't have to interest yourself much in it, Scott. Let it lay in your past. There's lots of games to be had today.
  • @Tomas: what do you mean by "tactical simulation"?

    DnD4E is (seems, I have yet to receive the books and try it for real) a nice "tactical game". Simulation does not enter the picture in the least.

    Just like Spirit of the Century (and Fate v3.0 in general) is a surprisingly satisfying "tactical game". And it simulates even less :)
  • Renatoram: D&D is not nice at tactical combat, in my view. I have not read the new edition, but from the writings on it, it is still way too slow and too hinged up in old-school mechanics-thinking. No need to delve deeper into the question here, or the game anywhere. Have a nice day!
  • Like Graham I jut can't see why I would be interested. I am fascinated that other people here *are* so interested though, given that this is (largely) a community focussed on story games. It seems that the tactical combat part of 4E is really scratching some itch for people that the other games they are playing aren't. I suspect that, as with Red Box Hack we will see, once the fervor dies down, some new Indie designs that try and address that lack in some fashion, and hopefully a cleaner, less mechanistic, and less constrained way than 4E seems to be trying to do it
  • Expect also to see some direct dnd hack: I'm already thinking about importing some of the tactics/positioning tricks from Agon to the "initiative/setup" phase of a combat encounter in DnD. Straight initiative with the positions left to GM fiat seem a bit bland :)
  • I can't help but think that some of the 4E love is related to the problem being discussed elsewhere right now, of games designs that skip to the resolution of a conflict and forget about how you get there. 4E is all about the details of how you get there, every step, blow, choice, tactic and so on. Contrast this with the style of play where people have leapt to the resolution of a scene before it's even been fully framed (which I have experienced, and hate) as if the SIS in which the conflict happens is of far less interest than the conflict's mechanics.

    I'd predict more story focussed games with *crunch* that try to avoid this.
  • edited June 2008
    As a few people have identified, it comes down to your gaming history.

    I've never had a bad experience with gaming by and large, including time playing some D&D, but not a vast amount, and FASA Star Trek. You see, despite the systems they involved a lot of player created content, role-playing and whatever else. I never had years trapped in a 'troubled' gaming environment due to people or systems.

    I did have my 'story game' or 'indie game' zealot period, but I've passed it.

    Now they are all just games, and I find some of the things the afield attribute to indie or trad slightly odd. As a result, D&D is just a game for me to enjoy, just like Spirit of the Century or Primetime Adventures. It's a different game, but that is good. If I have any preference it's an avoidance of incoherent games or everything to everyone games - which D&D sort of was, but now isn't.

    And I also think the previous poster commenting on the fact that 'sometimes it's important to feel system-wise how you got there', as I don't think it's entirely shocking that some of the more popular story games are much closer to a trad structure and don't focus on scene level resolution (Fate, Burning Wheel, etc)
  • Posted By: MarcoAnd '4enfraude' is a great term.
    I'm pretty happy with it. Judd and I were struggling for what to call it. I wish I could remember what we came up with before 4enfreude, but they weren't as good.

    Like a lot of others, it doesn't interest me that much. I bought it anyway because, in case I wanted to buy it later, I didn't want to have to pay the more-than-double-what-it-is-now cost. Also, I figured it might be nice to be up on the current pulse of the culture. Also, I figure there's a chance I could learn something from it as a designer. Also, Clinton and Jason's enthusiasm is infectious.
  • Posted By: renatoram@Eric: those are awfully long threads, but I think I got the gist of it... it does not surprise me in the least that there are some optimal combinations of skills/powers that "win" the game: any game complicated enough (with enough rules) will have them. To avoid them you'd waste more energy than it is worth, IMO.

    The point is... is it fun? To even take the time to think of those is completely alien to me. Just like I never ever took the time to read the "game winning combos" for videogames, let alone using them. What would the point be?
    Having played 4e, I'm not sure that the things being touted there really do "win the game". Yes, you can build a character to be an optimal combat machine, but with skill challenges, you may find that you've skipped something you wind up needing. And further, once you've built that "optimal combat machine", you still have to play it, which comes down to your tactical skill.

    A little bit of searching finds that "Tekken-juggling" seems to be what they'd call "stun-locking" in WoW -- repeatedly using abilities that cause your opponent to "lose turn", so they don't get to do anything. This may be optimal against a single foe, but it seems to me to be much more difficult when you're dealing with, say, eight to ten foes -- as we were in each of the combats in the adventure I played in. Sure, you could cooperate to keep one or two of them locked down, but the others are going to be attacking you while you do that. Complicating this is that most of the "stun" powers are encounter or daily powers, severely limiting just how long you can keep a target "locked".

    It's recognizably a good tactic, but I don't think it's a game-breaker.
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: efindelA little bit of searching finds that "Tekken-juggling" seems to be what they'd call "stun-locking" in WoW
    You also need to include fear-kiting, frost shock-kiting... actually, all forms of action limitation-based kiting. Juggling in Tekken is different than the original sense of the fighting game term "juggling" in that it's hard to keep an enemy in the air for very long, but there are lots of ways to make an enemy unable to do something that you care about for a little while. So, for example, spinning someone sideways also counts, since they have to spin back and that takes time.

    ***edit: but yeah, stun-locking is great if you can manage it
    Posted By: efindelbut with skill challenges, you may find that you've skipped something you wind up needing.
    I honestly don't care that the DM could check everyone's sheet and come up with a set of out-of-combat skill rolls that we're minimally likely to succeed on. Also, making sure Team PC can beat the entire MM with a very small set of tactics and making sure that Team PC has a good coverage of skills aren't mutually exclusive in the least.
    Posted By: efindel... Complicating this is that most of the "stun" powers are encounter or daily powers, severely limiting just how long you can keep a target "locked".
    You're doing it wrong. This isn't about making them unable to take an action, but rather unable to take an action that hurts you. Ray of Frost accomplishes the same thing as a stun against a large fraction of the MM and is at-will.

    A party of all Elf Rangers beats a large swath of MM encounters, solos and groups, without ever taking damage at all and without using any encounter or daily powers - actual juggles aren't even needed in many cases, just a willingness to hit-and-run endlessly. You start juggling when you can't just vanilla kite.

    Note that "solving" the game doesn't mean you always win, my glib initial reference to tekken-juggling aside. Solving checkers has assured that every properly-played match ends in a draw, for example, and optimal blackjack play wins on average but might suffer a loss over any given hour of play. "Solving" means that you know what you ought to be doing in all cases.
  • That seems like a pretty unreasonable claim to make on a game that's only been released for a week. In my experience most folk with an inflated sense of their own mastery of rules get pasted when they play with people with actual experience or the ability to think on their feet. I wiped the floor with a guy who'd proclaimed that Ra was broken and he'd "solved" it. And another guy who said the same about History of the World. I know some players who are hard core enough to have invented killer strategies for games like Star Fleet Battles...but that was after years of careful play and study.

    I'm suspicious of any claim to have "solved" a game made this quickly.
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: ValamirThat seems like a pretty unreasonable claim to make on a game that's only been released for a week. In my experience most folk with an inflated sense of their own mastery of rules get pasted when they play with people with actual experience or the ability to think on their feet. I wiped the floor with a guy who'd proclaimed that Ra was broken and he'd "solved" it. And another guy who said the same about History of the World. I know some players who are hard core enough to have invented killer strategies for games like Star Fleet Battles...but that was after years of careful play and study.

    I'm suspicious of any claim to have "solved" a game made this quickly.
    Right, clearly we're all just haters who are full of shit, and none of us have played tactical minis games before.

    I mean, on a very real level, you're right - only years of rigorous and highly competitive tournament play OR exhaustive computer simulation OR a rigorous mathematical proof can pass final judgment on a game. But if you're telling me with a straight face that I don't have room to talk since some of your friends talk a bigger game than they can walk... whatever. Action denial and hit-and-run are very basic concepts in turn-based games tactical games, and the degree to which they can be executed easily and repetitively is one of the basic measures of the degeneracy of this sort of game.
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: ValamirI wiped the floor with a guy who'd proclaimed that Ra was broken and he'd "solved" it. .
    Ra is a bidding game corresponding to some sort of auction with randomization of what you're bidding on, yes? Yeah, most auction formats have been solved for some time. And you randomly have to clear the board and end the round, and your money supply doesn't build from round to round, yes? Yeah, that's analyzable with basic statistics.

    The game is solvable in a purely probabilistic sense, like a given hand of poker. Also like poker, however, playing based on pure math isn't automatically going to win, because the game is built on a randomizer and other players might not play a pure math game. Even if everyone is the same bot script that plays with the same pure-math optimization strategy, luck of the draw still decides quite a lot in any one game.
  • Posted By: EricDnD 3.5 already gives me the experience I want out of a DnD game.

    One last thing on the 4E tactical experience - we, as a people, frequently broke 3.5 supplements before they were actually released (infinite loops, irresistible 1-hit kills, etc...). I don't think we ever solved the game before release, however, as we have with 4E - solved as in blackjack, where optimal play is precisely known and the only interesting thing is how the random number generator every-so-slightly tweaks things this particular time.
    What's the optimal build for Wizards level 1-3? I need to know: we're playing this weekend!

    -Marco
  • Posted By: EricSo, here's my situation: DnD 3.5 occupied a niche that I can best describe as "DnD 3.5's niche." The entire rest of my RPG pie-chart is filled by other games that do what they do well.

    4E comes out and abandons that niche. But... it's got nowhere to go. If I wanted to play a gamist, tactics-heavy RPG, I'd play Agon. If I wanted to play a tactical minis game, well, WotC has already sold me that game. If I wanted to play WoW... I don't anymore, that's why I stopped played WoW.

    In changing niche, 4E also dropped a bunch of things that were the primary appeal of 3.5 to my wife and I. The change in magic is a big thing: 4E has basically no out-of-combat magic. No, the tiny rituals chapter doesn't cut it. Characters no longer change in such dramatic ways: you don't completely throw out the entire tactical and strategic landscape every 5 levels anymore.

    It might be a good game, but I honestly don't care. I've already got great games that don't require me to read 550 pages of text (Player's Handbook + DMG pagecount), and DnD 3.5 already gives me the experience I want out of a DnD game.
    I'm just going to quote what Eric said, because it's pretty much what I've thinking too. I don't know if I like tactical fantasy combat enough to learn yet another game if my needs for it are already being met with the existing stuff I have.

    I don't feel a need to change to anything else.
  • I pretty much suck at tactics, as a result, I can't solve a whole crapton of games that I'm told plenty of really talented people are tired of, having completely worked out the best tactics ever which they can't seem to keep themselves from using. This means I enjoy a whole lot of games they all hate. This means my life is filled with love and happiness and their lives are filled with depression and misery. Conclusion: Don't get good at tactics.
  • edited June 2008
    Eric, I don't know what to say except that if you've got a party of 6 Elven Rangers running around, odds are somewhere over the past X levels of play you'd probably get your ass stomped by something else, assuming everyone playing the same combo's wouldn't get boring long before that. This may be an obvious flaw in the game, but if it's unlikely to arise, it's probably not a killer. I find it extremely unlikely that Mike Mearls can't do math (as many hard-core 3.X folks have claimed); I find it much more likely that 4e was designed to offer a very different play experience to exercise a very different skill set.

    I think the differences of terrain, monster types, and freaky cross-combo's of a zillion different classes, not to mention the greater role for GM fiat, will make finding an "optimal" build extremely context-dependent.
  • Posted By: Eric4E love in the "we're not thrilled about 4E" thread? It's more likely than you think.
    I wouldn't call this a "we're not thrilled about 4E" thread. It's more like a "I'd like to be thrilled by 4E, but it's too soon for me" thread.

    Or I can just rename the thread: "Dear John letter to 4E: It's not you, it's me."

    But now it's a "4E tactics debate/flame thread". So it's a TPK!

    Just kidding folks! I do appreciate the commiseration. As for tactics, I can get obsessed by them too. And I find a game that brings that out of me I usually stop playing. Partially because I don't like myself when I do that, but mostly because I get too stressed during the game. I haven't had an RPG evoke that feeling in me though, because if it's all tactics and no story in an RPG I get bored. If I'm fighting for something my character believes in and is important to the story, I'll use my best tactics with no remorse.
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: scottdunphyBut now it's a "4E tactics debate/flame thread". So it's a TPK!
    You'd think ... but where's my Wizard. I need one of these tactical super-geniuses to give me the 100% greatest build so my NPC will rule!

    -Marco
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: MarcoPosted By: scottdunphyBut now it's a "4E tactics debate/flame thread". So it's a TPK!
    You'd think ... but where's my Wizard. I need one of these tactical super-geniuses to give me the 100% greatest build so my NPC will rule!

    -Marco
    The conventional answer:

    You're going to be a battlefield controller and party enabler.

    Put your highest score in Int, then Con or Dex depending on how much you like to win initiative and such versus how much you want to eat a crit from an orc and live.

    Specialize in Conjuration. Drop Evocation and your choice of something else that isn't Transmutation; ditching Enchantment or Illusion is common, since they accomplish similar things, or Necromancy, since the real Necro rockstar spells are mostly higher-level. I usually drop Necromancy, though using Command Undead to make poke-armies of mindless undead without a save is hilarious.

    You're going to be casting the following spells in combat:
    Level 1 - Grease, Color Spray, Sleep
    Level 2 - Glitterdust, Web

    Most of these spells render enemies vulnerable to sneak attacks, so the rogue loves you. They all make it easier to hit the enemy, so everyone who makes attack rolls loves you. They all limit or deny enemies actions, so you're also defending everyone.

    Out of combat, special consideration goes to Enlarge Person if someone can meaningfully benefit from it. It lasts a minute per level, so try to pre-cast it from a scroll.

    Carry a reach weapon at level 1, regardless of proficiency. The chance to get an AoO against a charging enemy and drop it is worth it, and those 1 HD orcs and goblins and such that you'll invariably face may well fall down despite your lousy strength. Besides, you weren't using that hand for anything else anyway. You'll have a light crossbow, too. Wheee!

    Overall, you're a rockstar and you help everyone else look like a rockstar...
  • ...If you have access to more books, here's a list of spells for low-level wizards that make enemies lose:

    * Level 1
    o Reflex
    + [PHB] Grease: Well known spell. Grease a Fighter's weapon, or the terrain under him to have him fall over.

    o Will
    + [PHB] Charm Person: Makes a humanoid your ally.
    + [PHB][AoE] Sleep: Puts 4HD of creatures to sleep, rendering them helpless.
    + [PHB][AoE] Color Spray: Causes creatures to become stunned, perhaps also blinded, and possibly knocking them unconscious.
    + [PHB] Cause Fear: Frightened for 1d4 rounds on failed save. Shaken for 1 round on a successful save.
    + [SpC] Inhibit: Forces the target creature to delay until the following round, acting immediatly before you

    * Level 2
    o Fortitude
    + [PHB] Blindness/Deafness: Blinds or deafens target creature
    + [PHB] Ghoul Touch: Paralyzes target creature for 1d6+2 rounds. May sicken living creatures within 10 ft. of the target creature.
    + [SpC][AoE] Cloud of Bewilderment: Nauseates creatures in a 10x10 cube as long as they are inside and 1d4+1 rounds after they leave. Creatures that save must make a save again each round they stay in the cloud.
    + [FrB] Bone Chill: As Hold Person against undead

    o Reflex
    + [PHB][AoE] Web: Entangles creatures, and makes them unnable to move in a failed save. Even on a successful save, they move very slowly.
    + [SpC] Ray of Ice: Freezes the target, making it unable to move, denying their Dex bonus to AC, and giving it a -2 penalty on attack rolls

    o Will
    + [PHB][AoE] Glitterdust: Blinds creatures for 1 round/level
    + [PHB] Daze Monster: Target creature is dazed (can't take actions) for 1 round
    + [PHB] Hideous Laughter: Falls prone and may take no actions for 1 round/level
    + [PHB] Command Undead: Makes an undead your ally. Nonintelligent undead don't get a save
    + [PHB][AoE] Scare: As Cause Fear, but 1 creature/3 levels
    + [PHB][AoE] Pyrotechniques: Blinds creatures in a huge AoE (120 ft radius) for 1d4+1 rounds.
    + [SpC] Baleful Transposition: Put squishy wizard in front of the frontliners.
    + [SpC] Entice Gift: Ask the enemy melee'er to give you his weapon
    + [SpC][AoE] Shadow Radiance: Blinds creatures for 1 round
    + [SpC] Sting Ray: Target can only take a Move or Standard action each round, takes -2 penalty to AC, may attempt a new save each round, must make Concentration checks to cast spells
    + [BED] Yoke of Mercy: Creature up to 4 HD more than caster will fight mercifully, dealing non-lethal damage, not casting damaging spells, and refusing to coup-de-grace.
    + [CMa] Torrent of Tears: Save or be blinded and sickened.
    + [PH2] Blinding Color Surge: Save or blinded for 1 round. You are Invisible for 1 round/level as well, regardless of the save.
    + [PH2] Vertigo: Will-based single-target Grease. Must make a Balance check to move, failure by 5 means it falls prone. -2 to attack rolls and saving throws.

    o None
    + [PHB] Touch of Idiocy: 1d6 penalty to Int, Wis and Cha.
    + [PH2][AoE] Kelgore's Grave Mist: Fatigues living creatures within a 20 ft radius cloud. Deals 1d6 cold damage per round.
    + [SpC] Ray of Stupidity: 1d4+1 Int drain
  • To be clear: yeah, I know 3.X is a busted-up hoopty. But it's my busted up hoopty, and I changed out the engine and rebuilt the transmission myself.
  • Awesome ... and I like it: a perfect thing for an NPC wizard!

    -Marco
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