Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why I Do Not Like 4th Edition

While I have been having fun making my fantasy football team, I thought I should take a moment to explain why I dislike 4E.

1: It Wasn't Needed

I was one of the first people I knew to adapt to both second and third edition (and yes 3.5). The main reason for this was because I felt the changes each addition made were needed. While I loved first edition and always will, there were several problems in many of the mechanics. For example limiting demi humans in levels not only made little sense, but could really hurt a party at higher levels. Also some of monsters provided challenges that were hard to gauge correctly. While there were still some problems with second edition (THAC0 anyone?), overall it was a vast improvement over first edition. What I really liked the most about 2nd edition was the fact it was largely compatible with first edition so I could use all my modules without to much work.

 I think where 2nd Edition failed is the Dungeon Masters Guide. The first edition DMG gave a DM so much they could use. An hour until game time and no dungeon made? No problem! Simply use the random dungeon generator and you were good to go. Wanted to know the color of a potion? No problem! Browse through the reputed magical properties of gems for a quick idea. The second edition DMG was only useful for the magic items and little else.  I also think that by the end of second edition role playing games as a whole had matured and the system needed a serious overall. While 2nd Ed brought many good changes (class kits, non weapon proficiencies, etc.) there were still some problems.

I, much like everyone grumbled a bit when I heard the news about 3rd edition. I remember thinking to myself that it was a move to make money and little else. Even though I was inclined not to I decided to buy the three core books and I have to say I was very happy. I thought they had made some great changes. Admitted it did take learning an entirely new system, but the improvement was immense. Sure there were some problems such as the Ranger being worthless, but overall it was a better game. Of course third ed. had barely gotten going when they put out 3.5 but again it was a change that needed to happen. Rules were clarified, classes were better balanced etc.

Then came 4E. I really felt then and still feel that 4E was not needed. The 3.5 system worked fine and had a lot more room to explore and improve. I can see where a streamlining of some of the player options would have been nice, but to overhaul the system completely just was unnecessary. They didn't make a better game, they didn't improve on any of the problems in 3.5, and to top it off they turned the cosmos upside down. All of this led to me finding 4E a huge disappointment. I tried to like 4E, I really did, but the more I played it the more I found issues with how things had changed.

2: Too Many Accessories Needed

When I first started playing D&D you needed a character sheet, a pencil, some dice, and maybe a miniature figure. If you were the DM you needed a note book, some graph paper, enough dice to lend some to the new guy and maybe some minis. Sure, the more advanced groups used minis quite a bit and there were a lot of neat products made to help make visualizing the game easier, but you didn't have to have them in order to play. The D&D game remained largely this way through both second and even third edition. Admitted, things made a lot more sense if you used minis and dungeon tiles (I still think the plastic minis were one of the best ideas ever!), but you could play the game without them if need be.

If you play 4E you absolutely have to have minis and dungeon tiles (though most of the modules to provide some combat maps). So what became a fairly affordable hobby became much more expensive. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with spending money on my hobby. I firmly believe that even including such extras as plastic minis and dungeon tiles gaming works out to be cheaper than most other things, I just feel that I should be able to play a game without having to buy more than the rule books.

3: WoW Is a Better MMORPG

One of the things that really bugs me about 4E is the fact that it seems to be a pen and paper MMORPG. If I wanted to play an MMO I would sign into my Wow account. When I am at a table with my friends I don't want to play World of Warcraft, I want to play Dungeons and Dragons (or Rifts, or Gurps, or L5R etc). Every time I look at the players hand book for 4E I feel like I am looking at a talent tree system and that sucks. One of the reasons I loved RPG's was that each and every character was able to be different even if they shared the same class. Even the most basic of fighters would differ from each other in several ways. 4E simply gives you a list of powers to choose from and in the end there is very little in the way of uniqueness.

In the end, the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that 4E is an inferior product in virtually every way to 3.5 and the proceeding editions of D&D. I think that the entire concept was approached in a poor fashion and in no way gave me a better game to play then what I already had. I feel many of the changes were made simply to make 4E incompatible with 3.5. I think that the designers at WOTC got to involved in "shaking" things up and in the end I think we the gamers are the worse off for it.

I still love D&D and am thankful that the OGL allows 3.5 to continue. I will never stop gaming, but I can't wait for 4E to fade away into the night and hope and pray that if and when a 5th edition comes out, it is a better game than what they gave me this time.

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