As most of the initial hype vs furor wars have settled down there’s some good “what 4e is” information starting to emerge out there. Ones I’ve found the most helpful are:
A Noobian Guide to 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons – A new D&D player gives their rundown of “what the deal is with this D&D thing.” What’s interesting is that even to a noob, 4e is clearly heavily MMO-influenced and half minis board game (the people that deny this are either disingenuous or dumber than chimps) but of course the point of 4e is that WotC wants to market to the people that enjoy that. It’s interesting to read someone who’s new to all of it taking it all in, and pointing out the good (minis are pretty!) and bad (minis are sold in random packs to rip me off!). It’s actually a quite positive review; ironically his analysis of 4e is pretty much factually identical to mine except he likes that kind of thing more, which is fine. Different strokes for different folks, I don’t mind people liking the new 4e paradigm, I do mind them claiming it’s not changed or that there’s nothing about those changes a roleplayer could dislike.
Game Day: Comparing 3e vs 4e DM Prep Times – Basically 4e prep time for the DM is much reduced, counterbalanced by the fact that you as a player seem to have many fewer options. (That’s what people are complaining about when they lament the MMO-ization of D&D – any computer game has to have fewer options, and more strictly defined and less organic options, because a computer has to make all the DM decisions. It’s nothing against MMOs to say that turning a human-run RPG game into that is a massive evisceration). To quote:
Ultimately, this is one of the aspects of 4th Edition that I find so frustrating. From my side of the screen, I find the game to be a significant improvement because at every turn, they’ve made my job easier. Combined with my Three Page Manifesto, I’m able to knock my D&D prep time down to an hour. As a geek dad who never has enough time, that’s a huge deal.
And yet, at the same time on the player side I find the system far more limiting. Powers have made all of the classes feel more generic, and while there’s still a good deal of customization available in the game, I miss the quirky uniqueness that each class had under previous editions and yes, I miss the inherent, amazingly deep 3E crunch factor.
Playtesting Fourth Edition – A very thorough playtest with loads of in depth analysis of each mechanic. Looks like the guy and his group gave it a real runthrough and I’m surprised at some of their findings, like combat’s not faster (“like padded sumo wrestlers” is the quote). This is the most detailed playtest writeup I’ve seen of 4e hands down.