Game Geeks on D&D 4e – Part 1

Game Geeks has a comprehensive, albeit negative, review of D&D 4e.  He echoes my concerns about back compatibility, role pigeonholing, etc.  There will be a Part 2 next week.

9 responses to “Game Geeks on D&D 4e – Part 1

  1. I actually felt it was a bit of a weak review. He’s got some good points (as you touch on), but he keeps bringing it back to “this doesn’t feel like D&D to me”, which weakens his whole argument with its blatant subjectivity. I can’t help but feel he’s conflicted between tearing into the game with the full on claw/claw/bite and softballing it because, deep down, he’s really a nice guy.

  2. Can I have my 10 minutes back? That basically sounded like the anti-fanboy bashing I try to avoid reading on the Wotc forums.

    It sounds like this guy read the books once and never played; not very comprehensive imo.

  3. Yeah, this wasn’t really that new in terms of complaints.

    One of the common complaints about 4E that I don’t get is the complaint about “elves being split into two races”. I mean, people had split them into about a dozen races (aquatic elves, wood elves, high elves, flying elves, dark elves… squirrel elves, for all I know) in previous editions, proving that fans couldn’t get enough of the bloody elves. So instead of putting in gnomes (a race that honestly isn’t played that much since many people couldn’t get their Tolkien-shaped brains around them), they made a natural split in the elves in the PHB; magic elves and wood elves. And yet this is one of the burning issues that bothers reviewers.

    And backwards compatability is an issue. I get that. But I’ve modified my player’s characters before, doing my best to translate their old character into a new edition or to at least move it in that direction. 3.x wasn’t that backwards compatable… it’s just a little more backwards compatable than 4E is. By the time you eliminated 2E kits and proficiencies and the absolute need to get very uber magic items to keep up in 3E, you were dealing with a completely new game. Thus why it was a new edition, changing significant rules and making everything more complicated when translating the characters from edition to edition. It’s virtually the same process for 4E, except now it’s not perfectly clear what level your new characters will be.

    Anyway, mediocre review, no complaints that haven’t been beaten to death in the last 9 months and I agree with Tom that he likely hasn’t played it or at least for more than one session. These games are worse than music albums; you definitely can’t look at it once and give it a sincere review.

  4. What do you get when you cross a douche with a dork?

    I bet this guy would do this alone in his room even if he didn’t have a camera.

    Let’s not even get into all his inadequacies: dragon kin, (dragonborn), wizards and warlocks have different power sources (nope, the same), war leaders (Warlords), Drizzt Daruden, LOL. The list goes on.

    And the editorial is entirely subjective. It’s like he’s trying too hard to bash 4e.

  5. Scetch Monkey

    Wee, Yay lets bash the guy who gives bad reviews!

    Seriously if you have ever watched any of his previews reviews you would know that he doesn’t bash a game lightly. It is not like watching Zero Punctuation ripping into every video game he reviews.

    However both critics are very good at reviews. The only problem with this review is that he doesn’t know how to really show the problems of the game. As when I watch this I just know he is holding back. I have seen previous positive reviews and have kinda seen the same thing before.

    What I would like to see are more specific examples in the game on how the new characters play compared to the old system. And why this is bad for the game. Because thats the most important thing about keeping D&D still D&D. Yes I agree 4e no longer looks like D&D, but my biggest problem with it is that it no longer plays like D&D. Old editions had so much more wonderful choices and this edition got rid of alot and does not seem to be wanting to bring old favorites back.

    Like what ever happened to the Half-Orc, Why does the Steelsky Liberator on pg 65 of the Forgotten realms players guide have Half-Orc as a required race for that paragon path but the race does not exist anywhere as of yet (crosses fingers for PHB 2 4e)

    So yes if you really want to tear apart this system get specific, find the holes that have been left in the game because of the designers simply being lazy.

  6. I happen to like Kurt’s reviews but maybe because we have close to the same tastes in games and are probably of the same old guy gamer demographic.
    As far as 4th Ed being the 8,000 lbs gorillas in the corner. I think of it more as the 8,000 pound rotting dead horse that has been beaten into an unrecognizable bloody pulp by whiny edition wars. I’m trying to ignore it but it’s everywhere. If you like it, play it; if you don’t then don’t. Everybody has a right to their opinion and right to voice it.

  7. “3.x wasn’t that backwards compatable… it’s just a little more backwards compatable than 4E is.”

    That’s almost patently untrue. You can pick up a 2E published adventure and run it in 3rd edition with almost no changes to the adventure itself. (Two things – you might want to add a few skill checks here and there for added complexity, it’s absolutely not required; what is required however is using the Monster Manual stats and converting NPC stats, that can’t be helped.) I know, I’ve done it (I’ve run almost every single Planescape and Ravenloft adventure, the few Mystara ones, and a couple of the 1st edition updates [ie, the Return to… line]). But… with their treatment of monsters and class limitation/alterations… it’s nary impossible to convert a 3rd/2nd edition adventure to 4th edition. You *could* use the maps, maybe, but then you have to ignore their whole “BIGGER MAPS! BETTER COMBATS!” company line. So essentially you end up rewriting every encounter, because things just aren’t *there* anymore.

    The magic item inflation thing in 3rd? Is a totally valid point (though strangely when I’ve run Planescape, I find I don’t have to alter treasure all that much).

  8. @Alex: I totally agree with you in terms of published adventures. 2E to 3.x was much more compatible in that way. But I was thinking of character.

    Back in 2E, you had proficiencies, both weapon and non-weapon. Those turned into feats and skills, which did not translate directly. In that way, 3E to 4E is actually closer, since they condensed the skills (and knocked out a few I really liked) and modified the feats, but you can still translate them closer than 2E to 3E. Weapon proficiencies from 2E meant that if you were skilled at longsword, you didn’t automatically know how to use a two-hander. Why? They’re very different styles of weapon. Enter 3E, where fighters became martial artists who know every weapon except the rare exotic weapon. That may be neat for a player, but you used to get magical weapons that you just didn’t know how to use. In 3.x, you’d just swap up to the better weapon. That was a disappointment for me and was a huge change of character philosophy between editions.

  9. I loved this review. Kurt always delivers.

    Yeah, I’m a 3.5 loyalist.

    Heck, Kurt actually has me interested in WoD.

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