In Defense of 4e

 

Photo by Matt Williams

Wizards of the Coast announced this week they are working on Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. Unlike previous releases they are now courting player input. Many long-time players were upset by 4th edition. They often referred to it as World of Warcraft with pen and paper.

As a relative newcomer to D&D I think there is some good to be had in asking for player input. But, it won’t be an easy road to travel. I should clarify that I like 4e. For years I looked at D&D with fascination but never took the plunge. The game looked too difficult to get into. Creating a player, getting a party, finding a DM, and playing appeared to be massive chores.

Fourth edition simplified all of that. It made the game accessible to a wider group of potential players. Friends often spoke of the difficulty in finding a good Dungeon Master for their 3rd edition and 3.5 pathfinder games. Players who wanted to wear the DM helmet found themselves rudderless. Fourth edition made the task of creating encounters much easier. The new Dungeon Master Guide walks DMs through encounter creation and helps them to balance the fight for adventurers of any level. Need a moderately difficult encounter for a party of fifth-level characters? Don’t worry because the DM Guide makes that easy to accomplish.

It is clear that the focus of the game has shifted to place a spotlight on the action. Yet, any DM worth their mettle can weave a tale for their players. This allows for the adventurers to earn XP in non-combat settings.

As any gamer quickly learns, gamers hold myriad opinions and are unafraid of voicing those opinions. This could prove problematic when Wizards invites feedback as part of developing 5th edition. People have grown up with D&D and are passionate about the game. To many people it means so much. The cacophony of feedback will not be easy to sift through. I don’t envy Wizards’ task. But, they are taking a huge leap in the right direction. Finding out, in a transparent setting, what their customers want may help to improve the game so many of us love and enjoy.

What do you think about Wizards’ new move? Please post your comments below.

3 thoughts on “In Defense of 4e

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  1. As a newer player myself I wasn’t sure what to think when “5E” was announced. This will be my first time to make a decision to keep on or go with the new shiny. But I’m glad WotC is going about this new iteration in the manner they have so far. I think they have some very smart people who will be able to wade through all the input and make smart decisions about what to use from the playtest and what not. So it’s a good time to be a fan and let’s hope we can get more people into this fun hobby.

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  2. I suspect strongly that 5E will not make any dent in my policy of not playing D&D. I’ve been out of the habit since before AD&D2 and nothing I’ve seen since then (AD&D2, D&D Cyclopedia, D&D3, D&D3.5, Pathfinder, D&D4) has caught my fancy.

    I’ve grown into an entirely different kind of role-playing than any D&D will likely ever offer. Thankfully there are loads of other games out there so I don’t have to give up the hobby entirely.

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  3. The fact that WoTC will be looking for player input is nothing short of important. But, if they have any hope of survival they really need to get valuable input. I firmly believe that there will always be a place for pen and paper (or the future’s version of those items) RPGs. Eventually we have to walk away from Skyrim, WoW, and SWTOR. Then we can interact with real people IN PERSON.

    I’m not currently playing in a D&D game because of my move. It has become hard to make a weekday game when commute to the game is no less than an hour each way. I do miss playing though.

    Michael, thank you for reminding us about the other possibilities. I’ve never played the other games you mentioned but do know that Pathfinder is very popular.

    Bob, I hope you’re right. They have the money to hire people a lot smarter than I am. My fingers are firmly crossed in hope.

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