Am I late to the party to think that one of the reasons combat in Fourth Edition takes such a long time is because players have so many things to do? Jeez, I think I’ve even brought this up myself – I’m late to the party I already showed up for once. I forget where I was reading about “system mastery” as a reward for playing a game.

I can’t find the tongueworm in the Character Builder or Compendium.

The Fourth Edition Character Builder is fantastic, I mean, it took years but I think it really became an integral part of the game. It’s just too bad that we all need it so badly in order to build characters. It’s a necessity because the game is such a tangled mess of bonuses and exceptions.

Character options are an important part of the game, but at a certain point it becomes excessive. And there are lots of different options available to every character, and there’s a ridiculous number of suboptimal choices crowding out just as many of the useful ones. WHO EVER TAKES SKILL FOCUS. IS THAT EVEN A FEAT.

No, there seem to be too many options in the game, and I think that works against it. I guess D&D Next is going to cut down on the number of options and return to an older style of character construction and blah-blah, whatever. Basically they’re going to take away all the shiny toys they just gave players in favor of selling them back again.

This is a tired iterative process.

I remember when I wanted to try playing one of everything. There were eight races and eight classes, and that meant at least sixty-four different possible characters. Everything worked well enough, and all WotC had to do was keep expanding horizontally for everyone to be happy. More options than anyone would ever play.

I’m going to continue to argue that the problem exists at the core level. In combat, there aren’t enough tactical options before everyone starts tacking on super powers. All you can do is change your grid position, take a breather, and hit someone over the head. Can you imagine those inputs in a bloody text-based adventure game?

> Attack
Whom do you wish to attack?

> Walk
Where do you wish to walk?

> Wait
How long do you wish to wait?

That’s it. Fourth Edition combat is endless iterations of these three things. You have stats like attack, damage, hit points, defense, and other shenanigans, but they’re either hidden, or they’re part of the HUD and you don’t really interact with them to a meaningful degree. Combat has to move beyond these, or it’s just clutter.