Looking for suggestions for speeding up 4th ed combat.

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Hello all,

I have been in a campaign, and we have come to a problem.    Our DM is having issues with combats taking entirely too long.  We do not want to nerf every monster to have less HP or powers, and we do not wish to have every combat be a cake walk, but.... when we get past an Elite monster's main powers, survived its Second Wind, and Action Point use... its normally just a matter of attrition.  After all that, we know we will win the battle, its just a matter of time. 

Has anyone else had this problem?  What ways do you help deal with this?

I would love to help him solve this problem and get a bit more time for RPing in our sessions.

Thanks for any help.
~Mad        
when you get to the 'its just a matter of time' point, most skilled dms try to end the combat one way or another. do the monsters ever flee? has your group ever attempted to make monsters surrender? have you ever thought to try to avoid a combat? has your dm ever thought to make the monsters actually hit hard? my blog has ideas on monster design and morale, maybe it would help your dm

check out the dm tips and monsters tips categories

frothsof4e.blogspot.com/
You might also check out the Compilation Thread of Combat Accelerators
Give monsters 25% less health and make them deal 25% more damage, works pretty well for most monsters. Brutes already hit pretty hard so it might be a case of giving them more +attack perhaps.
Make sure your DM realizes that monsters do not general get a second wind.  They can only use a healing surge if it is an actual power.
For the players: when you have decided what you are going to do next turn, pre-roll your dice and do the math while others are taking their turns. Of course, combat's flow shifts the options quickly and drastically, so sometimes the move you were planning on making turns out to be impossible, but most of the time this method works.
wrecan beat me to it. But I had already tabbed this thread, so I'm posting anyway.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Get a kitchen timer and set it to 2 minutes. Each player (and enemy) has 2 minutes to complete their turn or they 'hold their action'
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I halved the HP and doubled the dammage dice (just the dice, not the static dammage).
And i added a houserule that on the first round no action points can be used.

Combat is fast and fourious.
> pre-roll your dice and do the math while others are taking their turns.

This is reliant on the DM providing the creatures' defensive stats, which not all of them do... but probably should. Yes, many of us can flap our gums about 'the old days' when such information was a closely-guarded secret, but that doesn't change the fact that the game runs FAR more quickly if the players can resolve things without needing a constant back and forth about basic things like a monster's AC.
> pre-roll your dice and do the math while others are taking their turns. This is reliant on the DM providing the creatures' defensive stats, which not all of them do... but probably should. Yes, many of us can flap our gums about 'the old days' when such information was a closely-guarded secret, but that doesn't change the fact that the game runs FAR more quickly if the players can resolve things without needing a constant back and forth about basic things like a monster's AC.



It also relies on the honesty of the players because if everyone is rolling the dice, the DM can only pay attention to one person at a time...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
outlaw cellphones at the table.  The two females in my group are constantly checking txts, playing games etc.  It drives me crazy, because I generally know what I want to do, and get it done with a quickness...then have to wait while the chicks put down their phones, dig through their character sheets...and at the end of the day, decide to MBA.
It also relies on the honesty of the players because if everyone is rolling the dice, the DM can only pay attention to one person at a time...

I was always under the assumption that playing D&D relied on the honesty of the players.

Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
You might also check out the Compilation Thread of Combat Accelerators

This. fwiw, my biggest accelerators are:
1) Use average damage
2) For area attacks: roll a d20 next to each affected miniature.
3) Run initiative swiftly: tell people when they are on deck, move onto the next PC if one isn't ready, etc. For me, I just have all monsters act on the same initiative. Player initiative determines who goes before the monsters on the first round, but after the monsters act the players can generally go in any order they wish (thanks to delaying and such).
I think one d20 roll for an area or close attack would make combats much quicker, but only if you have bursters and blasters in your games. I'm not sure how you handle critical hits in that situation.

mvincent's initiatve order makes a lot of sense, especially the part about delaying unready players.

Except for crits, using average damage sounds good.

Pre-rolling is great. You don't have to tell your player's whether their attacks hit until their turn, and savvy players will have an idea of the defenses they care about within a couple of turns of attacking the same target.

Halving HP is a good way to go with your monsters.

I've played in serveral speed runs of heroic tier LFR modules. It can be a blast. Black Knight of Arabel was the one I think we've done this with the most.
I have a current rule where bloodied value or more damage at once drops a target to 0 hp.  For monsters, this means death (or unconsciousness if the player decided to knock the target out), and for players it means dying.  The strikers of the party in particular seem to just outright slay things with this one, but crit on a 2d6+int flaming hands spell torched a guy in a hit.

My players are indeed lower level, just to note. 
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
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If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Except for crits, using average damage sounds good.

Crits are still max damage of course, but you can still average the extra crit damage. Interestingly: average crit damage (thanks to extra dice and such) is often similar to double regular average damage.

i use different coloured dice and have some area attack dice on the table with corresponding pegs (small versions of clothes pegs from a craft shop) that are the same colour. when making an area attack, or even just multiple attacks, the pegs are placed next to the targets and then all dice are rolled.


this makes enemy attacks on the party quicker, one damage roll as normal and you can just read out "vs fortitude hit deals 20 points of poison damage" or whatever.


whoever controls the initiative tracker informs a player that they are next as the player before starts their turn.


i am considering using forced delays too.


as dm damage i use matching dice there too, if there are 5 minions attacking the party pegs get placed next to whoever is getting attacked and i roll all the dice in one go, works for non-minions too you just end up with big fistfuls of dice.

I like just about all of the suggestions others have offered here except for one:
one d20 roll for an area or close attack would make combats much quicker

This makes every area/close attack into an all-or-nothing attempt, and in my opinion defeats the purpose of these kind of attacks. It creates "swinginess" in order to gain speed. Instead, I would consider having the player roll all of the attack dice at the same time and even go so far as to let them arrange them toward whichever opponents they wish. Adding meta-game to gain speed is more acceptable to me than adding swing.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.