Ken over at the Rusty Battle Axe asked in a comment to a post below:
What is your opinion of 4e now? I just read your camping trip post from last August and was wondering how you would describe your experience. In our area, if I decide to join an existing group as a player, chances are I’ll be playing 4e as that seems to be the norm.
That trip last summer (my last vacation to date–sigh) was pretty pivotal because it on one hand made me really come to appreciate some of the OSG stuff, but at the same time ended up sealing my fate in terms of 4E. But to the question, what do I think of 4E?
On the upside the players get to play high-fantasy high-powered characters, which at least for my group is the more popular option than playing the low-powered PC’s of other editions. e.g. at first level, a PC elven warden can hit things and gain hit points back, release a powerful thunderburst of sound bowling over everyone around him, and transform into a tree. At first level. And as I said, that floats my players’ boats.
It’s also very tactical insofar as each player needs to cooperate with the others in order to survive, a factor that does harken a bit back to earlier editions moreso than the 3.X generation. Double-digit hit points and eleven healing surges actually don’t tip the scale in favor of the PC’s as much as one might think, mostly because the monsters are pretty tooled up as well. There have been many cases in my campaign already where the PC’s barely squeaked through, mostly because they let me control the battle.
As a DM, the games’ cookbook-format for encounter building does make throwing stuff together easy.
On the “it could be considered a plus or a minus” category, there are the power cards. Power cards are good in that it makes novice players not have to really wrack their brains about what they need to do when it is their turn. They just pick a card and go. Good? Bad? Depends on what you appreciate in terms of style.
Now the downside. It’s a skirmish wargame. I’m sorry, you can talk all you want about how there really is roleplaying and it’s a consequence of bad GMing, but I’d take you to task on it. It’s a skirmish wargame, and I can prove it by just pointing to the amount of space dedicated to which kind of topic. In the DMG, here is the crux of the material:
- Encounter building
- Treasure rewards
- Designing “quests” (which is just a string of encounters)
- Adjudicating skill challenges, or if you prefer, “roll-playing”
Now again, I’m not necessarily saying that this means I should burn my 4E books, but it does mean I am calling a spade a spade. When you play 4E you will spend most of your time moving a miniature around on a grid evoking daily, encounter, and at-will powers. Doing that can be fun, and frankly it is fun.
I guess that’s the bottom line: I’m having fun, and fun is good. I’m not having fun playing a OSG-style roleplaying game, but I’m having fun. I actually thought about this a few days ago but really right now I’m basically playing what I can, rather than what I want. Thankfully what I can play (Warhammer, Morrow Project, and 4E) I like, but if I had my druthers I might consider something else.
But since I don’t, what’s the point?