July 31, 2008

The War Drums of Change

There's been a lively debate going on over at The Fine Art of the TPK about 3.5E vs. 4E. It may very well be just another exchange of fire between the two camps, but the post is a solid one and provides some nice links to other bloggers discussing the same issue. While some may chalk this up as a silly flame war, and others may remember similar Old vs. New wars when 3.0 came out in 1999, it is nonetheless important to me to follow these discussion becuase as a fan of the game I want to know what other fans of the game are thinking; especially in the blogosphere.

I left one comment at TFAotTPK, then I was going to leave a second but have opted instead for cross posting a track back comment here on my own blog (since I'm getting a bit rambly).

For the record: After thinking about it for a couple of days since my origenal post on how awesome 4E multiclassing is, I've done a complete 180ยบ turn. My cheers for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons multiclass characters were based, sadly, on my own misconceptions of the rules. Fortunately, some of my readers have set me straight with regards to how the printed rules work, and now... multiclassing in 4th Edition is broken and largely blows.

So, while I agree that multiclassing is broke in 4E - I have to (respectfully) disagree with the general sentiment of TPK's post. 4th Edition is, yes, something new. But I feel that you all are going a bit to far when you say that balance is killing the game. My group is onto its sixth session - we started with 4 players, now we have 5. We have no cleric; and our warlord much prefers bashing heads than healing people. Our make up is Fighter, Warlord, Wizard, Warlock. The newest player to join us plays a Rogue. All in all, its been great fun - and the characters definately stand out as individuals. Sure - everyone "depends" on everyone else; but that was the same with 3.5 as well. I don't think any of my players feel like they have been pingeon holed into a role.

Plus -- did you ever play a viable long term campaign in 3.5 without any "healers" or with all ranged classes? In possibly one of the most crazy unbalanced campaigns in 3.5 I ever particpated in was an 'evil campaign' where we all played a bunch thugs. I was nearly impossible. The body count (ours) alone was enough to make you cry, let alone the ENDLESS AoA everytime someone cast a spell. Just my 2¢.

OK, on a SUPER final note: people interested in this sort of discussion have to do themselves the favor of reading an article in Wired "Killjoy Cooking With the Dungeons & Dragons Crowd".


  1. Well said, Jonathan. Mutual respect is a great way to have a discussion, especially about D&D (these days anyway).

    My point wasn't so much that balance is killing the game, as "too" much balance. I cannot and will not impugn your word, if you say you are not experiencing these issues in your game.

    My problem came when (in my 4e game) two players played fighters. They ended up very much carbon copies of each other due to their power gamey styles. The role overlap led to a bland experience for both, and the repetition of both using the same powers round after round irked them both.

    Admittedly, one of them was extremely miffed at not being able to play a half-orc barbarian (his personal favorite). So it seems that "Balance above customization" hit him in the kiwis.

    This is a complex issue, made even more complex by the multitude of playing styles and persoanl preferences out there. Rest assured, while I have no love of 4e, You'll never hear a harsh word from me about those who do.

  2. Donny - message recieved; and I could see how the carbon copy aspect of the game could be a problem. It seems that, especially at the early levels, there are fewer choices wihtin each class. Thus two fighters, or two wizards, or two whatevers could no doubt be very similar to one another.

    But I think may be a problem that stems, not from the classes per se, but rather from the feats. Feats in 4E have been nerfed. Sure, you might get more of them, but each feat is generally weaker by a wide margin that feats from 3E. The lack of powerful feats makes early level characters seem more the same.

    I'm a wizard. I chose these two at-wills.
    I'm a wizard too, I choose... oh, the same two becuase the third one blows.

    I guess I'm lucky that none of my players chose to be the same class; so, at least at my table, this is not a problem. =D

  3. If you liked that post, you should be sure to check out the continued conversations.

    Let's just say that 4e is growing on me. I HATE the staggered release of what should have been the initial core material, but how long can that last with a release date.

    I am so tired of the "edition war". I like both editions for different reasons, ans that's...it!

    Come on back, you're welcome in my house anytime!


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