Saturday, April 03, 2010

Anti 4th Edition?

It amazes me that 4th edition is still such a hot button topic. Gamers are a passionate people who will debate, usually heatedly, topics which pull at their heart strings. No game is so dear to the gaming community at large than Dungeons and Dragons. The short little piece I wrote about an editorial in Knights of the Dinner Table has caused a number of comments, and emails on the topic. Most have come from fans of 4th edition who feel that their system is being slandered. Perhaps these people are highly defensive because of the years of fourth edition hate, but whatever the reason it proves that this is an issue that still divides the Gaming Community. While some people descend to petty things like insults and name calling it is good to see people like Graham who provide well thought-out responses to concerns regarding the system. Furthering understanding within the community rather than offering nothing more than scorn. For those of you who enjoy or are curious about 4th edition I encourage you to head over to Graham’s website.

Are we here at the Labyrinth anti 4th Edition? It was never something that I ever stopped to consider. We have three writers here: myself, Revil, and the Professor. All of us have varying opinions on all things RPG and we certainly don’t have any “company line” here. I can tell you that we don’t play 4th edition, have never played 4th edition, and currently have no plans to play it. None us of like the game preferring to play other systems, but does that make us anti 4th edition?

For myself I have read the 4th edition core rulebooks, though not cover to cover, and as I said I haven’t played the game. That having been said I have never written down some of the things that I dislike about the system and have kept me away from it for the last few years. Graham said in my last post that he would be happy to clear up any misunderstandings that I have about the rules so I started listing them, but they quickly became too long for a comment so I thought I would post them and move the discussion to a new venue.

As this isn’t a review of 4th edition I am not listing everything I dislike about the game, just enough to have a civil debate about various aspects of the system. Also, some of my problems are not with the game but more with Wizards of the Coast and how they have conducted themselves in the “4th edition Era.” I felt this is relevant because the way the company has conducted itself has caused me to be very disinclined to purchase their products. I’ve also listed those below.

Problems with the Books and Rules

1. Dumbed down
The game has been simplified, I would even go so far as to say oversimplified. This is because Wizards was attempting to draw in a new audience, a younger generation including those from the MMORPG market, and they felt that a simple game would serve better as an introduction to the hobby in general. I am always in favor of bringing new people into the hobby, but I feel to keep them you have to show them why the hobby is great. I don’t feel that 4th edition does that. Rather I feel it does a poor job of replicating the environment from which they were drawn.

2. Core Races
The Gnome, a staple PC race for many years, has been tossed out in favor of, “Cooler Races.” These races, Tiefling (why not the assamir as well?) and Dragonborn, remind me too much of other cheesy races like Eberron’s ever crappy Warforged. The Half-Orc also got the axe (har-har). Once races such as these were supposed to be exotic, but as core races they merely represent the new bizarre standard.

3. Classes
Druids, Monks, Bards and Sorcerers are out (I’ve only read the 3 original core rulebooks. I haven’t read the PHB 2 or 3, but it was my understanding some of these would appear there.) My theory is that they left out established D&D classes that people liked to ensure sales of later books while replacing them in the first core books with new untested classes such as the Warlord.

3. World of Warcraft
The Game is heavily influenced by World of Warcraft and a few other MMORPGs but WoW is principal among them. People who deny this are just engaging in a futile effort. I have no problem with World of Warcraft, have played it quite a bit and even enjoyed it. But that is a computer game. I expect more from D&D.

4. Skill merging
This is also a problem I have with Pathfinder. In their design notes one WotC writer asked, “Why would anyone want to hide and NOT move silently?” This seems a silly question to me. If one was in the woods and not wanting to move, but rather let someone move past them they would hide without moving silently.  Merging skills was completely unnecessary and leads to a problem common in my group’s Pathfinder game, the overuse of a single skill. Perception is used about 87 times a night by each character and it gets old. Fast. I realize the change was to streamline the skill system, but logically why couldn’t a character be better at searching than listening?

5. Tactical Miniatures
Forth edition seem much more like a Tactical Miniatures game than a Roleplaying game to me. In fact, reading the rules I couldn’t imagine playing the game without miniatures.  I wouldn't even know where to start.

6. Art
Not all of the art is bad, but it is woefully inconsistent. A wide range of artists were used and rather than conforming to a single style they all produced works that varied greatly. Second edition was the same way, some of the art was amazing and other parts terrible. The Pathfinder books are a breath of fresh air here. They provide consistent high quality art of a matching style. In the end this really comes down to personal preference, you either like the art or you don’t. I’m one who just doesn’t, but hey you can’t please everyone.

7. Book Layout
The book just seems disorganized to me. Maybe I’m alone on this or maybe it is force of habit i.e. I think things would be in a certain place but they aren’t. The index seems too small to be useful and there wasn’t a glossary in the version I was reading, but maybe the second printing corrected that.

8. Labels
The game tells you what you should be doing by labeling you a certain kind of character. Controller, Striker, Leader, or Protector, terms derived from MMORPGs define what your character should be doing rather than letter you decide that for yourself. The game used to be about characters and stories, now it is about how much ranged DPS your striker Ranger can dish out. Different classes with the same label end up being much the same. Two Striker characters seem like they would play much the same regardless of their character class.

9. Resource Management Vs. At Will
D&D used to be about playing intelligently. Resource management was important for nearly all classes, Wizards perhaps most of all. They had spells, but few at early levels, so they needed to use them intelligently. 4th edition solves that “problem” by providing everyone with at will powers. However, at-will powers seem like they would often be used over and over again the majority of the time, and they seem to have the same basic effect for most of the classes.

10. The Mage’s Versatility
Mages used to make great versatile characters. They could have a large number of spells and study different ones depending on what they expected to encounter that day. This required things like planning, foresight, and intelligence. Now instead of the thirty spells he once had to choose from he has about five power choices.  There are rituals, but these are not things that can be used in combat as they take a good deal of time and materials to use.

11. Casters vs. Noncasters
Speaking of the Mage what he used to be able to do made him special, but later in the game more dangerous than his fighter counterpart. That was deemed bad so instead he gets powers, the same number as many other classes. Not only that they function much the same. Since casters no longer have spells but rather have powers just as non-spellcasters it was easy to perfectly balance the game. Many caster powers seem to do things very similar to other characters of the same label. The end result being that what they do is really no longer all that special and there is very little difference between casters and non-casters of the same label. It is balanced though, you’ll get no argument from me on that front.

12. Healing Surges
I don’t like healing surges. They just don’t make much sense to me. I realize that some people felt that the cleric wasn’t much fun since he was designated the healer class by many, but I don’t agree with that. Healing surges are a contrived way to make the game easier, which seems to be a pretty common theme in 4th edition. Dying just isn’t fun for people so lets make it nearly impossible. They just seem to want to take the challenge out of the game, and if so then what is the point? Additionally healing surges just aren’t realistic. People don’t spontaneously regenerate “just because,” and I find it aggravating when WoTC writers write that, “People just aren’t thinking about Hit Points in the abstract.” Thank god I have them around to explain it to me. Bottom line is that I don’t like Healing surges, in fact I hate them.

13. Magic Items in the PHB
Why are the magic items in the Player’s Handbook rather than the Dungeon Master’s Guide? This isn’t a major issue in and of itself, but it speaks to a change in the culture of the game. By placing them in the Players Handbook you are saying that, like the general equipment, these items should be readily available to PCs with the amount of money listed. Another example of high fantasy getting too high for my taste.

14. Combat Focus
This game focuses nearly all of its attention on combat rather than roleplaying, plain and simple.

15. The Feel
The game just doesn’t feel like D&D to me. It is difficult to put into words what that means, but it is really that simple. For this reason above all I just don’t think 4th edition is the game for me. 

Problems Wizards of the Coast

1. The Joke
When originally asked about 4th edition WoTC responded that there was no 4th edition, nor any plans to produce one yet. Rather they claimed it was an inner office joke.

2. Splat Books
I don’t like splat books, generally speaking. I didn’t buy any of the awful “Complete” series from 3.5 because they were downright terrible. With 4th edition even the core rulebooks are splat books. Do you really need a Players Handbook 3? The Players Handbook has always been a core rulebook so one might think that the PHB3 would also qualify based on its name, but I have my doubts.

3. Wizards vs. Technology
This isn’t new to 4th edition since WoTC completely abandon their original character generator released with 3.0 and then abandon E-Tools, a program with a lot of promise. However, the 4th edition era brought a new level of apparent incompetence. All the initial plans seemed good. Their forums would become a place where gamers could connect and they had an amazing virtual gaming table on the way light years beyond what anyone else was producing. Well that virtual gaming table STILL hasn’t appeared years later and word is that Wizards has all but abandon its development. As for their forums, their Gleemax experiment didn’t last long, and their forums are still a terror to visit. Oh that reminds me…

4. Condescension
The books published by WoTC leading up to 4th edition, Races & Classes for example, were the most condescending garbage I have ever read in my life. I really mean that. I realize those were design notes and not actual rules for 4th edition and that is why I have listed it here rather than above.

5. Character Conversion
When third edition was released I was excited. Not just at the long awaited new edition, but at the prospect of converting the characters from our long running campaign using the conversion guide. Second edition and third edition were as different as night and day, but Wizards still provided a conversion guide. Third edition and fourth edition are far more similar yet for some reason no conversion guide was supplied. When asked in an interview about that one of the Wizards reps responded with something that amount to, “Don’t Bother even trying.” You don’t have to tell me twice!

7. Don’t blink or You might miss the New Edition
When 3rd edition came out many people were clamoring for it. There was a large gap between 2nd edition and 3E (11 years to be exact) so few saw the release as early or unnecessary. However, just 3 years later 3.5 was released. This was very early in my estimation, especially considering each book was now $30 rather than the $20 for the 3.0 books. But ok, now all was right, the rules had been patched and we wouldn’t see a new edition for quite some time. No, wrong again. Just four years after 3.5 Wizards announced 4th edition at GenCon. The game was released in 2008 making a grand total of three editions in eight years.

I’d like to end with one thing at least that I like about 4th edition (Yes, it’s true. I don’t hate the game, “Just Cause” nor would I say that nothing good was produced). My favorite part of the new rules is the “bloodied” condition that changes combat rules once a character is significantly wounded. This strikes me as very realistic. In real life fighters find that their combat skills diminish as they become tired and wounded, often leaving themselves open to devastating blows.  I only wish that they had taken it a step further and provided penalties to attack rolls and maybe even AC.

In closing let me just say that I wanted to like 4th edition. Who wouldn’t want to like a new edition of the game they have loved since they were a kid? What possible good does it do me to dislike 4th edition? I don’t know that I hate 4th edition as much as it just isn’t the game for me. If it is the game for you then I am happy, and even a little envious of you. For me, it looks like this is my stop. Maybe I’ll hop back on when 5th edition rolls around. Maybe the pendulum will swing back the other way. Only time will tell.


Labyrinthian said...

I'll be away for the weekend so you probably won't get any responses until Monday. Please feel free to begin the debate without me, I'm curious what fans of 4th edition think, what experience they have had with the game, what are their favorite things about it, and what are their least favorite.


Well, as a kid, I hated peas. They looked like crap and I thought They would taste like crap. Then I ate them, and they weren't bad. Now I eat them twice a week.

When I first read 4e, I had many of the same feelings as you. Then a good DM ran us through a campaign. Wouldn't you know it? It wasn't that bad. In fact, pretty much from the get-go, it was downright fun.

Sure, there are a few things that I don't necessarily like about the game, but that should be true of any game. Without getting into a bullet list of reasons, I just know that I've had fun playing it.

Without any disrespect, please play the game with an open mind for a few months, and then write a review on how it went. I think most people would be much more interested in a review of the game; not the game books.

Again, I mean no disrespect.


Chris Tregenza said...

15. The Feel
This I think is why many people, myself included, don't play 4e. The mechanics of the game are very well thought out (in most cases) but it is the the feel of the game I don't like. I did an article called "It Is Not the D&D I Know and Love" [ ] on this subject.

The vitriol that some 4e players unleash just because someone doesn't like their game is striking. Though to be fair, some of things non-4e players have said about 4e are pretty wide of the mark as well. However I think most of this bitterness is actually just an effect of the the age group/maturity of many D&D players + the anonymity of internet. In real life, I don't see anywhere near the same hostility levels.

But, the whole 3.5 / 4e split has been good for the industry. It has stimulated interest and companies like Piazo have done well out of the controversy.

Unknown said...

Chris, I wouldn't even say that the mechanics of the game are well thought out. Each errata set just weakens all the old stuff and then each supplement just puts out new powered up stuff in a continual cycle to try to get a balanced game. They only want you to buy new books and they really don't seem to care about actually keeping the old books functional. It's so zaney that the new official 4e adventure path thing for game stores to run literally gives you points that give you in game combat power just because you're playing with material from newer books.

Now I've played 4e in the past but stopped actually playing it before the PHB2 came out. My experience with the game was that a lot of creatures in the MM1 were unexpectedly brutal because the first phase of math didn't actually do what it was supposed to do. Skill Challenges never work right. Levels 11 to 20 quickly feel a hell of a lot like levels 1 to 10. However, it actually is an okay game to join at a game store for an afternoon. Where you're just reading over the other guy's shoulder for whatever odd extra power he says you should jot down on this character. If you don't care about the long term progress of a character, it's actually pretty easy to make a guy and join in on a 4-6 hour pick up game.

Other than that, 4e gets two thumbs down from me.

Ibl said...

I have to say I'm not the biggest fan of 4e out there, but it's a step in the right direction (at least it's better than 3.x (though that's not saying a lot because that's the edition I've liked the least so far)).

The main thing I don't like about 4e is that it's too balanced, the classes are just too similar.

However, I'm going to take the side of 4e in this one because the one thing I dislike when it comes to people complaining about 4e however is #14 on your list.
Sure, the rules are focused on combat, but then again, do you need rules to handle roleplaying for you? If you can't fit RP into it, then you're doing it wrong... just saying.

Tom Allman said...

I understand how you feel. I took an 18yr hiatus and went from AD&D to 4th edition. I read the PHB and swore I would never play this abomination. But since they were playing it at the game store I'm playing the crap out of it. It's D&D.

Unknown said...

I currently play 4E and have played every version of D&D since 1980. Here are my responses...

1) 4E is simpler and more complex than any other edition. At its core 1-3E were all very simple and then complexity was layered on. Same with 4E. The synergy of abilities and classes is profound and complex.

2) Those races (and more) have been added. In an initial book only so much can be included. Gnomes were never "core" until later; in fact I hated gnomes and refused to allow them in my campaigns for years because they were added as an afterthought into D&D and I saw them as a cheesy race added to bring in the new kids.

3) The classes have been added since then. Again, you can not include everything so they tried to include the core classes (the classes you mentioned were never “core” until much later) while still making room to show players what the system was capable of.

3) Honestly there is more Magic the Gathering in 4E than WoW. The concept of instant abilities used in a limited manner. The concept of interrupts and reactions is all MtG. However, the designers were trying to do something more than have the mage blow his one spell for the day and then sit on his staff. They wanted more interaction from everyone, even when it’s not their turn. They wanted players to have more options in a combat turn than “I swing my axe” and they wanted the same number of options between classes. This is an improvement in my opinion.

4) Perception is used 87 times a night. So instead of rolling Perception 87 times, we’ll roll Sight 24 times, Hearing 13 times, Searching 34 times and Spot 16 times. The end result is the same; you noticed something. You can have 10 skills and give the characters 5 points to spend on them or you can give the players 30 skills and 15 points to spend on them; the end result is the same. Using a skill that is a minor variation on another skill is a waste.
And if I am hiding I am being silent as well.

5) You are correct. Miniatures are essential to the game. 3E was heading that way, but 4E requires something of the sort. This is a radical departure from the past. In the past you could run a combat in your head. You, in theory, could do the same in 4E but I would not recommend it.

6) Art is subjective…and there has been crap art in earlier editions.

7) D&D has always had horrible indexes, every edition. In this regard its “old-school”. There have been rules I expected to be in one place but was in another (but it make sense it was where it was). But again, this is not new to 4E.

Unknown said...

8) The labels are meant to help a new player; new players do exist. They are a snapshot of the class description. They could say “This class is really good at dealing damage”, “This class is really good at buffing other characters”, etc. Instead they give a quick one word descriptor. The class descriptions also give secondary “labels” to show their versatility. And trust me on this; each damage class is different from each other. They all deal damage (same as an old school rogue or wizard) in a unique way even if they all have the “Striker” label.

9) 4E is still very much about resource management. Swinging a sword in 1-3E is the same thing as an at-will ability. You can swing a sword as often as you like, every turn. At-will abilities are the same thing only with “cooler” names like Sure Strike or Dancing Cobra (the new Monk at-will). The disconnect may come when you see a mage casting an at-will spell, but in the end it’s the same thing; a basic attack in the flavor of the class that is using it.

10) A mage still has a spellbook. He has a list of spells/abilities (his list is twice as big as the other classes) and at the beginning of the day he chooses from that list. The forethought and planning is still there.

11) The counter argument was that in old-school fighters are not special. Is that a good thing? Now everyone is special. I see that as a good thing. No more suffering through the low levels so you can be cool later (assuming the campaign lasts that long). Now everyone can be cool.

12) The concept of damage has changed. Taking damage does not mean you have a cut on your leg or someone just chopped off your arm. Instead it represents minor cuts and a lot of bruises. In a way this is more realistic. In real life if I take the cuts we are used to describing in D&D I’d be in shock on my way to dying or dead already.
Healing surges are a way to represent the second wind and stamina in a long fight (sort of how TV wrestlers can come back from a beating in the ring). For the record a character can only use a Healing Surge once on his own. After that it requires a cleric or similar class.

13) Subjective. In many, many games I played there were magic shops where we could buy magic items. It all depended on how the GM wanted the game to play.

14) Yes it does. 4E is one of the best tactical RPG games out here. It is diminished outside of the combat. For the role-paying and non-combat stuff we are left to doing it “old-school” way. (Skill challenges are an attempt to add a structured role-playing and skill system but fails in my opinion.) But honestly, where in the old rules do they expound extensively on “role-play”. 1-3E also focused on combat.

15) Subjective. In the end, for me, 4E is about hacking and slashing our way through a fantasy setting. Sounds “old-school” to me.

Unknown said...

1) Because they were trying to hide the fact 4E was on its way so 3E books could still be produced. It is often not a good idea to release news of a new edition before its ready to go; too much speculation and false rumor. Should they have been more upfront? Probably, but it makes sense for them not to.

2) You need a PH3 if you want the Monk class. Earlier you complained the first book didn’t have everything you wanted in it. There is only so much room in a book before it becomes too cumbersome. With a new edition you NEED to show how it integrates with the old (old classes/races) while showing people what the new system can do (new classes/races). Otherwise it’s a rehash of the old and a waste of everyone’s time. Having played the game and read PH3 I would consider it a Core Book and so have a lot of reviews (including from some who felt the same as you do).
As a side note; every houserule is a form of a splat-rule. Do you allow “non-core” races? Spells? Magic Items? Classes?

3) They dropped the ball with the technology they promised, but it is technology we didn’t have before. The character generator is awesome and the Monster Builder is through-the-roof phenomenal.

4) I’ll have to take your word for this since I didn’t bother looking at them.

5) They were being honest with you. There is no easy conversion from pre-existing characters. I suppose they could have lied to you. You can create a character “similar” to a preexisting one, but creating rules for converting is not worth the effort.

7) Will they come out with 5E? Not right now, but I suppose eventually they will. Was 4E too soon? Probably, but 3E had been mined out for printing potential; the way to make money is to produce new product and WotC is a business.
If/when 5E comes out I suspect it will be a completely new system. I can’t see how anyone could create a new edition of 4E and make it feel fresh.

Honestly, when it comes to RPG gaming all we really need is a core set of rules. After that, RPG gaming runs on imagination. The system of choice is nothing but a guideline for codifying that imagination. Right now, I am enjoying 4E and so are my players and for me that’s the important part. But, I will say, until you’ve actually played it a few times (with a competent group-bad GM/players can ruin any system) you don’t know what you are missing-for good or bad.

AmonSuul said...

Callin: Did you just compare D&D to pro wrestling???!

Not cool.

I like that the original post and the comments thus far have been civil and fair. None of this "everything suckz!" or "everything rulz" nonsense. I personally don't like 4th edition and it isnt for me, but that doesnt mean it isnt a perfectly good for someone else to play and have fun with. Id rather people played that than played nothing at all!

Scott said...

Callin has the most thoughtful response on here.

A bit of advice to anyone taking a look at 4th Edition: don't use your previous experience with the game as a rubric - that is to say, don't take the approach that the game is only as good as its similarity to earlier editions of the game. Asking yourself "Is this more fun than 3e/2e/whatever?" is totally fine.

It's unfortunate that the author of the post does exactly what I'm warning against here: criticisms 1, 2, 3, 3 #2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15 all contain elements of this (or, in many cases, are based completely on this). In fact, the only criticism leveled at the game that DOESN'T have anything to do with previous editions is 14 (combat focus), which makes perfect sense because the previous editions of the game (3e especially) provided less in the way of roleplaying encouragement than 4e does - between codified XP rewards for quests and social interactions, skill challenges, rituals, backgrounds, and page 42 (to list only a handful), no DM will feel starved for ways to encourage roleplaying.

If the way you judge a new edition of a game is how similar it is to the games that came before, 4e will disappoint you. But, then again, if all you care about is similarity, why not just keep playing that original game? You can't get any more similar than identical.

Angel_Falls said...

"But, then again, if all you care about is similarity, why not just keep playing that original game? You can't get any more similar than identical."

It sounds like that is what he is doing.

I can't stand 4th edition. Yes, I am judging based on previous editions. Just as I judge it based on other systems. That's how you find a system you like by comparing all the systems available and picking the one you like best. I'm getting pretty sick of 4th edition fans complaining that people "don't understand 4th edition" and that's why they don't like it or something to that effect. I play Hackmaster 4th ed. because that is the best game in my opinion. I understand D&D 4e but I just don't like it. I don't know why people have a problem with that. When did it become a problem for someone to dislike a system? Not everyone likes the same thing and that fact is good for the gaming industry as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Interesting read.

For me, 4e is a good game but it is not the game I want to play and it is not the direction I wanted to see D&D go in. But it has, so, I play Pathfinder instead.

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...


It is fine for someone to dislike a system. What I don't like about this post is that the author admits himself that all he did was read parts of the core rulebooks 2 years ago and his basing all of his opinions of the system on that. He has never actually played 4e.

@ everyone:
Also, a lot of people who play 4e (and D&D in general, including 3.5 and pathfinder and all the rest) don't know how to bring their character and the campaign to life. This has nothing to do with system, this has everything to do with people's perception of the game. I regularly play in 2 4e games, and we have living, breathing characters and we role-play constantly.
D&D has NEVER been about playing by-the-book, it has ALWAYS been about taking what you like from the rulebooks and having fun with it. Everything that you like about playing with other editions, like role-playing and exploration and gritty, harsh adventures can be accomplished with 4e. You just have to be not-lazy enough to not depend on rules and dice rolls to dictate your role-playing.

Scott said...


Sure, that's what he's doing. But he could have saved a lot of time by simply writing "I don't like 4e because it's not 3e/2e/whatever." I mean, that's really what it boils down to - it doesn't matter how fun 4e really is (which, of course, he'll never know because he isn't bothering to try it out), he can't enjoy it because it's not the same game he's been playing.

And really, Angel_Falls, a lot of the time we're completely justified in explaining that a certain individual doesn't understand 4e. A lot of people, again, come in with preconceived notions about how the game works, and those preconceived notions are incorrect. The author of this post does exactly that when he complains about healing surges. They're a solid mechanic and it's very easy to wrap your head around them once you stop conflating hit points with physical injuries.

No one cares whether or not you like a system. But if you're going to put your opinion out there for everyone to see on the internet, expect people to dissect it. They're not telling you that you're wrong for not liking the system. They're picking your reasons apart and explaining why they think they're bad reasons.

Anonymous said...

Poker is poker.
Chess is chess.
Role-playing is role-playing.

Sure, there can be variations. Call them what they are...NEW GAMES. Different games. That's fine.

D&D is D&D. It always was and it always will be. The same for AD&D. But when teh game diverges enough from its parental source, let it leave the nest. Let it strike out on its own. It's a new game. It's no longer D&D.

The fact that Wizards wants to use the mantle of D&D is pure business bull. Nothing more. They have a name and are just milking it.

I would respect them more if they just called 4E something new. Let it make its own track record.

In the Old School days, there were many, many RPGs out there. What's wrong with that? Wizards can't have two such RPG's? If D&D goes the way of the do-do, then so be it. Let the new champion reign.

But, obviously, it won't because the D&D shadow is a pretty long one.

Scott said...

Grendelwulf, the guys at WotC very much believe that 4e is D&D, as do a LOT of D&D players. I'm not sure why you respect them less because they believe their game is D&D - it's FAR more their call to make than yours.

Anonymous said...

So, they're delusional. Or simply don't have the backbone to call a new game a new game. Too risky marketwise, I guess. Oooh.

I am a gamer. A customer. It's more MY call.

They got their pound of flesh from me when I purchased 4E. Yes, I played it. Alot. It's not D&D. It is another game, but it isn't D&D.

And don't just say, "you're not playing it right, so you don't really understand...". That argument can go right back to anyone who doesn't enjoy original D&D. When it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's a duck. 4E isn't D&D. Plain & simple.

And I do wish someone at WotC would be man enough to step up to the plate.

And that doesn't let all of the retro-clone crowds off the hook. That's still not D&D either.


WhiteTower said...

@Grendelwulf - Agreed. Wizards slapped the brand name people would recognize on a game that has nothing to do with D&D.

@Kevin & Scott - I don't really know what your problem is. You act like the guy has a legal obligation to play the game in order to have an opinion on it. He read it and didn't like it so why would he waste his time playing it? That makes little sense to me.

Anonymous said...

hahaha! I love the videos you posted. That Gnome video was really really funny. And that review was spot on. I loved it when he said, "This is not a game to be cast aside lightly. It should be thrown, and with great force!"

Very funny... and true.

Graham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Graham said...

Well, since you asked for my answers to these points, here they are, as best I can give.

Callin gave some great answers, too, by the way.

My answers, however, are way too long to work in a comment format. As such, I posted them on my own blog. You can read them and comment at:

Marcel Beaudoin said...

Just out of curiosity, do you have a cite for the statement by WotC?

Graham said...

@MArcel -

Which one? The one where they say there will be no 4e?

I've never seen one (from the sounds of it, it occurred on the old forums and was lost somewhere, or something).

Also, see my response above, as it apparently was just a community rep who said it, and not an actual WotC designer.

Marcel Beaudoin said...


Your reasons for disliking 4E, while I do not agree with them, are well-thought out and reasonable. (And I am not trying to be patronizing, I am tired, and can't think of a better way to put it.) I will say that 4E plays much, much better than it reads.

I am really enjoying the discussion between you and Graham. As you said, it is rare to find a reasonable discussion covering why you dislike something (and counterpoints on why others think that you are wrong) that doesn't sink to the intellectual level of "your momma!!"

All I can say is that 4E plays very much different than it reads. While I don't think that you will like it enough to switch your preferred systems (I think there have been too many changes to some of the basic assumptions of the system for you to be completely comfortable playing it always), I think that playing it with a group of people that you like and are having fun playing it will make a whole lot of difference.

If you can make it to GenCon, I would try and take up Graham (or ChattyDM if he is going, or perhaps DavetheGame from criticalhits) on an offer of a game.

Thanks again for sharing, I really do appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

You state that 4e is just like WoW and then follow it up with a statement that anyone who thinks otherwise are "engaging in a futile effort".

For not being a review, you sure do make some pretty big and interesting comments- not to mention a very long post on the topic.

Furthermore, you completely invalidate your entire piece in paragraph #3 by stating "...and as I said I haven’t played the game."

This looked like a cool site. Thanks though.

DM Simonides said...

I try not to get involved in edition wars. And I respect the right of all to like what they like and dislike what they dislike.

I'm really curious as to the motive behind this particular post. You start off by expressing genuine surprise that anyone would become defensive over your apparent dislike of the game three years on.

And yet, three years on, here you are repeating the same basic points against 4th Edition that were stated three weeks in. There is nothing new here. Everything here has been said before, argued, debated, and flogged to death. I am not even arguing the validity of the points; its not worth the effort. You aren't going to try the system because you can tell you won't like it. Good for you.

What are you trying to accomplish with this? You say you want us to believe that this site, and you, are not Anti-4th Edition. The fact is, you are. You don't like it and won't try it. That's about as Anti as you can be. But that's also just fine. Its okay to not like things.

You say you want to start an intelligent debate? Why? What's the point? There is nothing to intelligently debate. Its a game; you like it or you don't. Point 15: The game doesn't feel right. How is any intelligent debate supposed to come out of that?

Why is the edition war still raging after three years? Precisely because of this: tired arguments rehashed ad nauseum by people ON BOTH SIDES who won't shut up about which edition is better and just go play whatever the heck game they want.

Labyrinthian said...

"you completely invalidate your entire piece in paragraph #3 by stating "...and as I said I haven’t played the game.""

Matt James: I'm afraid we just can't agree here. For you to assert that someone can't have an opinion on something that they have read is foolish. I'm glad you think the site looks cool. Uh... you're welcome.

DM Simonides: This site is relatively young and the topic, though much discussed at other places, had not been discussed here. I completely understand you being burnt out of the topic, many others have expressed the same opinion to me which is why we haven't continued the conversation here. As to why have any further discussion, I think that if people keep an open mind then opinions can always change. My opinion of 4th edition now is not the same as when the discussion began. I certainly don't feel the same about 4e as when the discussion began. By and large though you are right, most people are so entrenched in their opinions that they won't listen to what anyone else has to say, and that's too bad. Gamers have created an amazing community online, but what good is the community is information isn't a two way street? Maybe we could all do with being a bit more open minded.

DM Simonides said...

Labyrinthian: I respect that answer a lot, and I am glad to hear it. It is better than what I expected, so I apologize for some of my venom.

The only point I would add is this: open-mindedness begins in one's own mind. Why not give the game a try if that is your goal. Every game reads differently than it plays and every table-top RPG allows for a lot of freedom in application and to insert one's own style. Judging it by reading the rule book is like judging a video game by reading the instruction manual.

I will admit it is different from previous editions, but I will also say that running it - in play - feels a lot more like 2nd Edition, which I love, but streamlined and smoother. But it certainly didn't read that way when I first looked at it. One of the biggest problems have is with skill challenges that hamstring roleplaying. But based on reading one on paper, they do come across as very mechanical. It is only when played - through interaction and improv - that they begin to show their true colors, as a way to structure the freeform narrative without getting in the way of it.

Just like in 3rd, you have the option of just "rolling a diplomacy check to alter mood," but that is a style choice. It is equally valid for a DM to listen to the roleplaying and say "it sounds threatening, roll an intimidate check to see if the guy buys it." The die rolls work with the roleplay, rather than against it, so that less creative players who struggle with the roleplay can still contribute because they have good ideas and that more creative, better roleplayers still feel the risk of catching the king on a bad day when he is feeling uncooperative. But none of that is obvious until you start to play one out.

DM Simonides said...

Can't edit my post. Just want to make a correction:

"One of the biggest problems MANY PEOPLE have is with skill challenges that SEEM to hamstring roleplay."

I am also going to add a postscript that the people who haven't played them seem to miss the part about improvising uses of different skills and the DM deciding what skill is in used based on the action players describe. Players are not supposed to say "I use Athletics to climb," or "I Diplomacy at the king." Of course, different tables can do things differently, but the system expects the players to take actions not use skills. Again, that gets glossed over far too often.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe anyone's even discussiong skill challenges. That whole system is fundamentally broken, WotC's released 3 seperate versions, not counting the 10 versions given in Dragon magazine.

No way to use any of it, just too flawed.

Type VII Daemon said...

Thank you for posting that awful piece of artwork with the dragonborn cleric reading from a scroll; it reminds me of the lack of taste of even the artwork. The craptastic reptile ensures it doesn't even look like a D&D party. Appropriate for an edition that doesn't do D&D.

Anonymous said...

First of all... *facepalm* where you said "Additionally healing surges just aren’t realistic.", I mean what part of D&D is 'realistic'? You have wizards that cast fireballs from nothing, not to mention dragons and any other humanoid or semi-sentient being in the game.

Second, I agree with the whole it being crap because of the impossibility of dying, but, as you reach the later stages say "epic tier" you start fighting creatures like Demogorgon Prince of Demons and what not.

Third, I believe that the ease of the game is entirely up to the DM. If your whining about how easy it is, would rather fight a pack of level 7 wolves or would you rather fight a few level 13 Eye Tyrants? The DM can force you to fight whatever he/she wants you to. You could be the most bad ass character ever, adn still the DM could have your character quite literally raped by some child off the street. So the game is only as easy as the DM wants it to be.

To put it bluntly, the game isn't a figment of your imagination and creativity... It is the DM's.