Yeah, I got my previous 4th Edition D&D article linked in someone else’s blag, and they even went into more detail than I did about how fucked up Wizard’s PR campaign was. I now have the game in my hands, so I have to clarify some points from my previous post. Let me start by saying it’s not entirely bad. But here’s some points:
- It’s not horrible if you are a miniatures group. Combat is entirely written for miniatures and dungeon tiles (sold by WotC).
- The combat rules are a little broken in places, such as AoE/AoA spells and overlapping AoE stuff. They say they will eratta it, and I believe it, since I know WotC and eratta.
- The roleplay aspect is dragged into a quagmire of non-combat encounters run like combat encounters but not. Confusing? Yeah, try reading the DMG about non-combat encounters.
- The DMG* is worthless except two things: the scaling rules and the monster templates. I advise avoiding buying the book and just Torrent the DMG so you can print out the necessary stuff and dump the rest of the crap. All you really need is one PHB**, since all the rules and magic items are listed in there.
- They are trying to shape the game into a single style that revolves around the other products of the game (minis, tiles, Insider, etc) so things are incomplete. Also, unrealistic release schedule shows here. Incomplete. Why are there less classes and races, including the famous druids, bards and barbarians? Because they don’t know how to add those without being broken or into the frame they’ve set this game.
- On the incomplete side, the MM*** is pretty much incomplete, even more so than previous manuals. Again because they did this half-assed and last-minute. Quality very poor. Very, very poor. With some glaring errors pointed out on the beta Insider forums that were ignored to get it out the door.
- They didn’t really simplify it as much as they made huge chapters to explain things in detail (this is their idea of simplicity), while complicating combat even more. Now there’s more to memorize, more to get wrong and more for the DM to do.
- Unrealistic expectations on the player character aspect. They wrote this for the MMO crowd with MMO ideas. Death? We don’t need no stinking death – it scares the little MMO people! Although their very first (The Keep) fucking module kills low level players easily! WTF?
- Magic system is fucked. Dislike it immensely. Why are spells now “powers” and rituals “spells” in terms of how they operate. Fuck casting your magic missile as an AT WILL POWER (fixed per Fin and Drath’s comments). Who’s tracking this? The players? Hahahahahahahahaha! Isn’t magic supposed to be balanced by how often you can’t use it? Magic alters reality to some degree. Yeah, I read a lot of angry “Fuck you” blog/forum entries about this, and they keep coming. Some people are like, “With this crappy magic system, I’m scrapping magic altogether from my campaign.”
- Insider reliance is ridiculous. The game is designed to move the DM to getting a subscription to Insider, and by association, getting the players to get an Insider subscription. “You can afford an MMO, so you can afford a $15 to $25 subscription to Insider!” How arrogant and greedy. LOLZ (Notice how many times I linked/referenced Insider – that’s about 1/4th of the amount of times it is referenced in the books)
- The OGL vs GSL. They aren’t compatible. Your old stuff can’t be converted to 4th Edition. Even better – all that money you spent on 3.5? Guess what? If the industry switches to GSL, they can no longer make any older OGL stuff. That’s the WotC iron rule. NO BACK-PEDDLING. (Hattip to the article I linked above about this stupid move by WotC).
It’s not a God awful game for some people. Some kids are going to like it. MMO people probably moreso than older gamers. There are merits in the game, but they are too few for me to enjoy. Here’s my response to the blog entry I was linked in:
I did give it a chance, even after it came out and they had made a few changes to mullify the general disheartened concensus of the beta Insider crowd.
I know that D&D started as a miniatures tactical game, but over the years, it evolved to include roleplaying. And that’s why a majority of people played RPGs – to get to the roleplaying aspect. That’s why there are 300+ RPGs out there. D&D promoted itself out of the sole tactical realm into a pretty good system for RP. All in all, 2e to 3.5e, the miniature combat suffered because the emphasis was on the RP portion.
But 4th Ed isn’t just going back to the roots – it’s remodeling both the combat and the RP to stick to rules that mostly complement the OTHER PRODUCTS that WotC sells. Miniatures, dungeon tiles, Insider, to name three (of probably 20 things). Worst part is that they announced it too soon and put an unreasonable expectation on the system, so it’s incomplete. We don’t have certain classes or races to play because they have not figured out how to fit those square pegs into a round hole.
All in all, it is not a horrible game, just badly executed and you might as well just Torrent the DMG, since the DMG has two useful sections – the adventure scaling and the creature templating – and the rest is all crap that doesn’t flow well or give the DM any new tools to run adventures with. In fact, it can be more confusing.
To me, the game isn’t anything without the DM. 4th Edition made things a little more complex for the DM instead of improving the experience that already suffers from cumbersome mechanics and large lists of things to memorize. DMs are in short supply, and now I believe they will come in even shorter supply since Insider is going to be the only liscensed tool allowed for tracking all the combat additions/complexities. Which means you and your group of friends all now have to subscribe for $15 a month (or more).
I can’t support such a blatant marketing tool and a horribly organized game. Sorry, but our two online sessions suffered horribly from even a experienced DM having to flip around more than when we went from 2 to 3.5 and the obnoxious magic system.
Yeah, that’s my POV. I expect some people to agree and some to disagree. But this is why my friends and I are going to Torrent the game materials and not pay any money to Hasbro for this thing.
* DMG = Dungeon Masters Guide
** PHB = Player’s Handbook
*** MM = Monster’s Manual