Tactical vs Strategic Play

I've been thinking a lot about class complexity.  "Complexity" is not easy to define, in fact complexity theory is a whole branch of computer science, but for purposes of this discussion I'm going to define "complexity" as the number of difficult decisions a player needs to make as the session progresses.

We further break this down to tactical complexity and strategic complexity.  While there's a great deal of overlap, I'll say that tactical complexity involves position, target selection, and the best use of short term, encounter powers.  Strategic complexity involves long term power selection, the choice to attack or avoid, and the decision to spend resources like potions.

A decision can of course be both.  Dropping a fireball spell is both a strategic decision "if I use this spell now, I won't have it for later" and a tactical one "if I drop it here, I can wipe out a whole bunch of minions in one go."

D&D 4e was unique in that it was a game where strategy mattered much less, and tactics mattered much more than any other edition.  D&D Next needs to address both kinds of complexty again.  So far D&D Next is shaping up to be an edition with plenty of strategy, but very little by way of tactics.

If you're prone to looking at the game from a strategic standpoint, D&D 4e looks simpler than 3e, even when looking at classes like the fighter.  One might even find it dumbed down.  After all, the fighter in 3e has to make the decision to press on or try to rest once the party is running low on hit points.  In 4e... well in 4e you usually went into every fight with nearly full hit points, and a full rest gives you all your hit points back.  Using healing in combat was never a debate -- the answer was almost always yes because healing was generally an encounter power.  Strategically, 4e is uninspired, the party is always ready to kick ass and take names from the start of the day to the end, and the fighter always leads.

From a tactical standpoint, though, the 4e fighter is an amazingly subtle game.  Not only does he have to make decisions about which powers to use, but he also controls the flow of the battle.  A striker's only real decision is "how can I focus enough fire to take enemies down fast?"  A defender needs to prioratize monsters who are pounding on his allies, position himself for AoOs, all the while avoiding over-extending himself.  It's arguable that a defender is actually the most tactically complex character in the game.

Which brings me to D&D 5e.  Strategic complexity is back in a big way.  No more healing to full after every fight.  Limited spell usage and limited healing.  However, tactically, the game offers almost nothing.  The fighter's positional play barely matters.  The fighter can take more damage, but the lack of proportional healing means that his high AC is the only reason for him to draw attacks.

Healing in D&D Next even took from 4e the one area where 4e was tactically simpler -- healing also lets you attack, so it doesn't play with the action economy.  The one area where 3e had greater tactical complexity, and that's where DDN decides to crib off something more modern.

Without postulating a specific solution, I'm going to theorize that there are people who want a strategically complex game.  For them, the game is what happens in between the combats.  The feeling of being low on resources and injured, deciding to press on or hole up, the decision to drop down a healing potion or keep on going, for them DDN is going in the right direction, and may not have gone far enough.

For tactical players, DDN is doing worse than 3e.

I believe that in order to succeed across all editions, DDN needs to encapsulate both kinds of complexity.  The fighter can be made tactically complex, able to lock down specific enemies, and to become a walking "zone of control" for the battlefield.  The wizard can remain strategically complex, making simple positional decisions like "stay in the back" and complex strategic decisions like "the fight is going poorly, this is the guy I should hit with the big guns."

I think that if 4e fans can articulate the differentiate between tactical and strategic complexity, we can better address why we want a more complex fighter.  Not because we're jealous of the wizard, but because wizardly strategic complexity and resource management doesn't appeal to us.  We want to play the chess game of the battlefield, appraising the board and positioning ourselves to strike, instead of the guessing game of "what spells to prepare?" and "can I afford to wait another round?"

And the real challenge to WOTC -- can you give us tactically satisfying classes which don't annoy the DM, and which can be run without a grid?  I think this is possible, but I think it will be one of the lynchpin tests for D&D Next.  Success will attract many 4e players.  Failure will result in yet another rift.
I agree with your post. I believe some of this was addressed already in one of the panels they had a while back. I think it essentially boiled down to you level up and can either pick +1 damage or this cool technique. With only the very basic rules to go by so far and not having seen character creation options this disucsion will have to stay limited to just stating a desire for both types of complexity. After all we haven't seen any character creation rules so we have no idea what the devs have in mind beyond the limited information of class/them/background found on the playtest characters.
If by tactics you mean a ton of sub-abilities and powers to choose from and execute in the midst of combat, then I am not a fan.  Too many powers just slows things to a crawl and makes combat long and tedious.  For my group, D&D is about enjoying and exploring the game world while having good in-character interactions.  Combat is important, but we don't want to be forced to spend two hours resolving the intricacies of a single fight.
If by tactics you mean a ton of sub-abilities and powers to choose from and execute in the midst of combat, then I am not a fan.  Too many powers just slows things to a crawl and makes combat long and tedious.  For my group, D&D is about enjoying and exploring the game world while having good in-character interactions.  Combat is important, but we don't want to be forced to spend two hours resolving the intricacies of a single fight.



Which is the whole point of their modular system of game design for 5e. We've seen the basic options and they are pretty basic. Having an advanced maneuvers chapter of the book as an option for people looking for it though wouldn't be a bad thing and would mean a wider audience playing the game.

Their stated goal was pick the options that suit your group but not including a potential option because it doesn't suit your group doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I can see the argument for not including it in the basic rules but arguing for no option at all seems drastic.
I think D&D is pretty tactical for a rpg game. Trust me, there a lot simpler rpg games compare to this. 

I think the tactical is just right. As long I can play it off and on grid, it's fine with me. 

Strategy is just lovely. I love managing resources. Sometimes it comes right down to "Should I buy this potion or save the gold for later?". 
Yeeeeah

Currently 5E feels very heavy of Strategic War and has less focus of Tactical Sport.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Honest question: what happens if I want both?
Honest question: what happens if I want both?



We (because I'm right there with you) play Next with every tactical module we can get our hands on.

And since none of those have been written yet, we have no idea what it'll look like at this point.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
Very good points.  I want both tactics and strategy, and 4E has shown me that tactics alone isn't enough.  I need the strategy, at least as much if not more than the tactics.
Jack Vance deserves your respect, it's Vancian, not "vancian." The goal for Next is to be inclusive; you can't include by exclusion.
I think another dimension of complexity you might want to consider comes in with builds.  I don't know if you'd call it 'strategic' or something else, but designing builds and making chargen and level-up decisions is a significant aspect of 4e, and a huge part of 3.x, as well.  The vibrancy of the CharOp boards under both eds is more than sufficient evidence of just how significant that factor can be.

As to the 'strategic complexity' of backing out and re-arming vs pressing on in various eds, I really don't think they're as starkly different as you make out.  In 3.x, there were both in-combat and out-of-combat healing resources.   The in-combat ones were mostly spells, and very 'expensive' because of the high effectiveness of casters' other spells.  The out-of-combat heals were a gp cost, and rather cheap out of the lower levels.  So a modest level 3.x party of unexceptional wealth could top itself up with Wands of Cure Light Wounds between combats and start every encounter at full hps.  The WoCLW was the most gp-efficient source of between-combat healing, but far from the only one.  4e didn't really change the strategic landscape much with with healing surges and short rests.   You rest 5 minutes, you spend healing surges - a daily resource - and get back up to full (or close to it, since healing surges are big chunks of hps); contrasted with, you rest 5 minutes (50 rounds) and heal up to that 50d8+50 hps from fully-discharging that wand, which is a consumable, rather than daily resource.  Pacing vs bean-counting, really.  Both, I assume, 'strategic.'   True, in AD&D and earlier, healing was a much more limitted resource and you'd often have to consider pressing on without it or at less than full hit points - then again, monsters didn't do nearly the crazy damage they do in 3e nor even the high-damage formulas of post-MM3 4e.

 

 

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If by tactics you mean a ton of sub-abilities and powers to choose from and execute in the midst of combat, then I am not a fan.  Too many powers just slows things to a crawl and makes combat long and tedious.  For my group, D&D is about enjoying and exploring the game world while having good in-character interactions.  Combat is important, but we don't want to be forced to spend two hours resolving the intricacies of a single fight.



Oh no, absolutely not.  An overabundance of powers does not a tactical game make.  However, a few highly interesting powers makes for great tactics.  One of the reasons I like defenders is that their central power -- the swordmage mark, the fighter combat superiority, the paladin challenge, those all form a central aspect to the character.

There needs to be more of that.  Less powers, more meaningful powers.

As far as wanting both tactics and strategy, I really thing an inclusive D&D Next can and should have both.  There should be an option for classes which focus on tactics without playing "should I use this, should I wait?" every round, there should be an option for classes which have long range non-positional play but lots of spells, and a class like the swordmage could be a great candidate for something that turns tactics and strategy up to 11.

Honestly, I think that the game should and indeed must have both in order to feel like "every edition" of D&D.  Tactics were a huge part of 3e and 4e, and they should be around in some form.  I also feel like the long game -- playing the adventure instead of a series of isolated encounters -- is good too.  I think DDN can do both.
However, tactically, the game offers almost nothing.  The fighter's positional play barely matters.  The fighter can take more damage, but the lack of proportional healing means that his high AC is the only reason for him to draw attacks.

I couldn't disagree more.

In 4e, the fighter's positional play always matters.  In D&D Next, the fighter's positional play matters exactly as much as the GM/group wants it to matter.

Not having specific rules for flanking does not mean you can't flank.  It means the GM needs to come up with what flanking means and does.  That's it.  4e restricted choice--you HAD to care about tactics.  Next lets the group pick whether they care or not.

The Fighter can draw attacks from enemies by yelling at them, looking like a threat, flat out being there in the way, etc.

I see a common complaint that enemies could just flat out run by the Fighter with no consequences because there are no AoOs, and I say, "B.S.!"  When I ran the game, and the fighter took point in the hallway, enemies didn't just run by him, not because there were rules stopping them, but because it's stupid for them to do so, both logically and for the tone of the game we were going for.  

The responsibility is moved, yes--in 4e, the responsibility for tactics remaining consistent and important was firmly on the shoulders of the dev. team.  In Next, the responsibility is back in the GM's court--which is where it was when I learned to GM and where I am most comfortable with it being.
I think another dimension of complexity you might want to consider comes in with builds.  I don't know if you'd call it 'strategic' or something else, but designing builds and making chargen and level-up decisions is a significant aspect of 4e, and a huge part of 3.x, as well.  The vibrancy of the CharOp boards under both eds is more than sufficient evidence of just how significant that factor can be.



Character optimization is a tricky one.  I don't think it can stand alone.  If you make a build which is complex to put together, but dead simple to play, that probably means you've made a twisted mass which needs to repeat the same action every single turn.  That means meaningful choices have been removed.

Also, there is such a thing as having too many choices.  Powers and options should be iconic and obvious.  You should really KNOW what a character can do by the fact that he does it.  Character creation should let you put together big chunky bits of awesome, not fiddly plus ones here and there.  At least that's my opinion.  There may be people who like all the fiddly accounting bits, and if so, I hope this edition satisfies.  But for me, the decisions made during the game are far more entertaining than the ones made between sessions.

As to the 'strategic complexity' of backing out and re-arming vs pressing on in various eds, I really don't think they're as starkly different as you make out.  In 3.x, there were both in-combat and out-of-combat healing resources.   The in-combat ones were mostly spells, and very 'expensive' because of the high effectiveness of casters' other spells.  The out-of-combat heals were a gp cost, and rather cheap out of the lower levels.  So a modest level 3.x party of unexceptional wealth could top itself up with Wands of Cure Light Wounds between combats and start every encounter at full hps.  The WoCLW was the most gp-efficient source of between-combat healing, but far from the only one.  4e didn't really change the strategic landscape much with with healing surges and short rests.   You rest 5 minutes, you spend healing surges - a daily resource - and get back up to full (or close to it, since healing surges are big chunks of hps); contrasted with, you rest 5 minutes (50 rounds) and heal up to that 50d8+50 hps from fully-discharging that wand, which is a consumable, rather than daily resource.  Pacing vs bean-counting, really.  Both, I assume, 'strategic.'   True, in AD&D and earlier, healing was a much more limitted resource and you'd often have to consider pressing on without it or at less than full hit points - then again, monsters didn't do nearly the crazy damage they do in 3e nor even the high-damage formulas of post-MM3 4e.




At higher levels, yes, you could use the cheap wand of cure light wounds, or you could use the more expensive in-combat option.  I was thinking of lower levels, or 2e.  My 2e experience is minimal, but it emphasized strategic play even more than 3e did.
I think this is riding a little on what Tony said, but I always found fault with the complaint that in 4e "everyone goes into every fight fully healed".  While your HP total may be at max when you end up fighting the wyvern (or bugbears, or the purple worm, or bullettes, or illlithids, etc), you're not "fully healed"; you've spent some of your healing surges.  You've lost daily resources.

True, this is a shift in paradigm and perspective.  Your HP total is no longer your maximum threshold for continued existence.  Rather, your HP total is your maximum tolerance for damage in a short period of time.  It rather reminds me (in a more drawn put sort of way) of the old massive damage rules from 2e (at least I think it was 2e; it has been a while...) where you died if you suffered 50 pts of damage or more in a single turn.  Sure, you can have a huge pile of HP, but huge hit could take you out immediately.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
It's true that in 4e you got into the fight with less healing surges, but for almost every character, it does not matter as far as that fight matters.  You can at most activate one healing surge from a second wind, plus two from a leader, and maybe one other source.

If you have five of eight healing surges, which is not that unusual a position to be in,  then when you go into the battle, you might as well be at full.  You have no way to access five healing suges.  (I mean maybe if you have multple paraon level leaders... but generally... no)  If you survive the battle, you may re-evaluate the number of surges you have and decide to back down, but for purposes of "the next fight" you're basically at full power.

There's no strategic decision to spend or not spend a healing surge if you are below 75%.  Hit points are more useful than healing surges, so you always convert.  And then, if you have near full HP and a few surges in reserve, you press onward.

I'm not saying this is wrong or bad.  As a GM I like knowing that I can throw two hard encounters, and the first one going badly won't make the second one impossible.  But it does mean that the long game strategy is vastly simpler than it would be in any other edition. 
However, tactically, the game offers almost nothing.  The fighter's positional play barely matters.  The fighter can take more damage, but the lack of proportional healing means that his high AC is the only reason for him to draw attacks.

I couldn't disagree more.

In 4e, the fighter's positional play always matters.  In D&D Next, the fighter's positional play matters exactly as much as the GM/group wants it to matter.



I hate this argument almost to the point where i'd dismiss it outright, but I'll try to articulate why I hate it, hopefully without being too dismissive.

I'm a DM.  I like being a DM.  I like to challenge my players, and I like to give them a hard time.  But I want to give them a hard time by the rules

If the fighter's ability to hold the line is limited to what the DM allows, than his sucess and/or failure holding the line is my whim.  When success or failure is my choice, then it's less fair.  It's lame to tell the wizard "I know that your fighter dude said he was running to hold the hallway, but, well, that's how it goes."  It's much less lame to tell the wizard "ohh, looks like the fighter missed on his AoO, this goblin gets past the line and rushes to stab your face."

I don't want to decide how effective the fighter is with his positional play.  I want fair and arbitrary rules to do that for me, so that success or failure can surprise me.

Rich Burlew's rewrite of the 3.5 diplomacy rules brings up the exact same issue, in a different context.  To quote "The "patch" for the last two complaints is often the belief that the DM should apply circumstance penalties as he sees fit. My problem with this is without any guide as to what those penalties should be, it basically boils down to the DM thinking, "Do I want to give them such a huge penalty that they can't succeed, or not?" But I rarely have a preference. I don't decide whether I want someone to be persuadable, I want a rule system that lets me determine it randomly.... In short, I want tools to use in the game, not a blank check to do what I want. I can already do what I want."  (emphasis added)

The fighter only hits when the DM says he hits, regardless of the monster's actual AC.  Nevertheless, if the DM doesn't want to make that decision, the rules are there.
The same principle applies to tactical posisitining.  Yes, I can make that call.  But I don't want to.  I don't need a rulebook to tell me to make it up.  I never have.
It's true that in 4e you got into the fight with less healing surges, but for almost every character, it does not matter as far as that fight matters.

Right, so it doesn't matter tactically, but does matter strategically, since you're consuming a limitted resource that you might need very badly later.  That's contrary to your hypothesis that 4e is heavily tactical and lacking in strategic complexity relative to earlier eds.  When practical healing was magic-only, healing resources were concentrated in the Cleric and any magic items the party found, that was a fairly simple pool of healing that, when depleted, had to be re-charged.  In 4e, healing surges are a resource of each character individually, while triggering surges is an encounter resource, and not all uses of surges are equal (a second-wind surge is often better than a healing potion, but a leader-triggered surge is often better than either) nor even for healing (they can power rituals, practices, or items or be lost to attacks, diseases or failed checks in a skill challenge).  That's a more complex set of healing resources than a slate of cleric spells and some potions in AD&D.

You have no way to access five healing suges.  (I mean maybe if you have multple paraon level leaders... but generally... no)

A fighter with Comeback Strike and a Cloak of the Walking Wounded working with a Warlord with Stand the Fallen and Aid the Injured could spend 7 healing surges in a single encounter if he really needed to.  The party would only have to be 5th level.  Potions would allow you to spend even more.

I'm not saying this is wrong or bad.

You can say it if you feel that way, we're all entitled to opinions, I'm just not so sure it's entirely true, at least not to the degree you made out, originally.

But it does mean that the long game strategy is vastly simpler than it would be in any other edition. 

Vastly?  Every PC in 4e has daily resources - powers, item dailies, and surges to manage.   In addition, you have action points which you accumulate if you press on through milestones, and some items can become more powerful after milestones.  Prior to Essentials, magic item dailies also had a mechanism by which more became accessible as you progressed further through the day, making them both a daily resource refreshed by resting, and an incentive not to rest.   That's a fair bit of complexity over the adventuring 'day.'

And, while prior eds certainly had oodles of complexity (mostly because of disparate sub-systems) the resultant strategy often boiled down to pick a target, arm up, anihilate it, retreat, re-memorize, repeat.

 

 

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.. In short, I want tools to use in the game, not a blank check to do what I want. I can already do what I want."  (emphasis added)



I agree.  However I also dissagree.

I want my rules to be simple, and elegant.  Simple and elegant means that I don't need one set of rules for swimming, one set of rules for climbing, another for walking, another for running, etc. I just need one set of rules for "movement".

 Similarly, I don't want a bunch of rules for every single possible situation that might arise, I want a general rule system that I can easily apply to all situations.
.... In short, I want tools to use in the game, not a blank check to do what I want. I can already do what I want."  (emphasis added)

The same principle applies to tactical posisitining.  Yes, I can make that call.  But I don't want to.  I don't need a rulebook to tell me to make it up.  I never have.

Added a little emphasis of my own, there.  I'm in complete agreement with you, here.  And, I'm afraid that 5e is headed into familiar territory (for those of us who've played a lot of other games, particularly storyteller and more freestyle ones) of substituting advice for rules.  While advice is nice, it doesn't help get anything done.  And, really, I've been DM'ing for a long time, I don't need the advice, and, as much as a new DM could use it, he could also /really/ use some good rule to go with it.  

So I hope WotC is listening to you and gets the message.  DMing advice simply doesn't carry the same value add as good rules.  Let people come here and talk to some experienced DMs for advice.  Give them some advice in a side bar or apendix or introductory chapter - but don't substitute it for the meat of the actual system.

 

 

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Right, so it doesn't matter tactically, but does matter strategically, since you're consuming a limitted resource that you might need very badly later.  That's contrary to your hypothesis that 4e is heavily tactical and lacking in strategic complexity relative to earlier eds.  When practical healing was magic-only, healing resources were concentrated in the Cleric and any magic items the party found, that was a fairly simple pool of healing that, when depleted, had to be re-charged.  In 4e, healing surges are a resource of each character individually, while triggering surges is an encounter resource, and not all uses of surges are equal (a second-wind surge is often better than a healing potion, but a leader-triggered surge is often better than either) nor even for healing (they can power rituals, practices, or items or be lost to attacks, diseases or failed checks in a skill challenge).  That's a more complex set of healing resources than a slate of cleric spells and some potions in AD&D.



Going to be contrary here.  It matters tactically because the healing word (or whatever) is a limited resource within the encounter, which is a tactical choice.  "Where" the healing is applied is very important.  "If" the healing should be applied is not.

A fighter with Comeback Strike and a Cloak of the Walking Wounded working with a Warlord with Stand the Fallen and Aid the Injured could spend 7 healing surges in a single encounter if he really needed to.  The party would only have to be 5th level.  Potions would allow you to spend even more.



Yes, that's a fairly extreme case.  But I don't think it's the median encounter.  For most of the first encounters of the day, the characters will end off with enough surges that they won't be significantly weaker pressing on.  Obviously there can be built exceptions -- an all leader party could easily blow the surges of an entire group -- but how often does that decision actually come up with a typical encounter?

You can say it if you feel that way, we're all entitled to opinions, I'm just not so sure it's entirely true, at least not to the degree you made out, originally.



Not sure what you're getting at here.  The entire point of my OP was that DDN needs to emulate more of 4e's tactical complexity, and not just the long game of the old school.

Vastly?  Every PC in 4e has daily resources - powers, item dailies, and surges to manage.



This is true, but even if a PC in 4e exhausts 100% of his daily resources (excepting surges), he's operating at about 70% power.  That was an explicit design goal of 4e, in order to combat the 5 minute workday.  How well it worked is questionable, but I've often seen a 4e party run out of dungeon (or patience) before they ran out of power.

And, while prior eds certainly had oodles of complexity (mostly because of disparate sub-systems) the resultant strategy often boiled down to pick a target, arm up, anihilate it, retreat, re-memorize, repeat.



That's a legitimate complaint.  Actually, that's the best case scenario, where the party knows what they're getting into and can prepare the right resources.  The even lamer version is assaut, nova, rope trick, or any other variation on "I get my spells back without getting attacked in the night."  When that happened, the edition in question was failing in its goal to offer meaningful strategic choices.

4e didn't even bother trying to emulate that, because in previous editions the PCs almost always chose to not press on.  Instead, 4e encourages pressing on almost to the exclusion of anything else.  Good for storytelling?  Yes.  Caused grognards to think it was dumbed down?  Also true. 

The most important decisions in 4e were made on the battlefield, round by round.  The decisions post battle were usually straightforward.

DDN definitely makes the players think about their resources.  A place to spend the night and arm up again is met with significantly more relief than I've seen in 3rd or 4th.  In many ways I like that.  Short combats also mean that I can fit 5-6 encounters in a single session, which makes it easier (in terms of in game continuity) for the players to fight a giant battle.  I'm happy to see that, I think.  But I'm not happy to see that the tactical play of 4e has been diminished.
I want my rules to be simple, and elegant.  Simple and elegant means that I don't need one set of rules for swimming, one set of rules for climbing, another for walking, another for running, etc. I just need one set of rules for "movement".

 Similarly, I don't want a bunch of rules for every single possible situation that might arise, I want a general rule system that I can easily apply to all situations.



Sure, that's a good argument to make, but "simple and elegant" doesn't mean "non existant."  I absolutely agree that, say, if you have rules that establish a zone of control mechanic that lets a defender hold the line, those rules should be easy to apply into underwater combat, combat in rough terrain, combat on the riggings of a ship, and so on.  However not including the rules is not elegant.  It makes me think more, not less.

Elegant is when there's a single set of rules for charging, dive-tackling, jump-kicking, and olympic-style running-spear throwing for combining the momentum of a double move with an attack.  Clumsy is when the rules as written say that you double move you don't get an action... at all.

Not everything can or should be covered by the rules, of course.  Some exceptions are far too corner case to come up often enough to warrant a specific rule, even if they fall outside the bounderies of any other rules.  I do not think that holding the line, stopping a retreat, or running an enemy down falls into that category.  They happen at least once per session, and should be covered with a fair and impartial set of rules.  To do otherwise in the name of "simplicity" is where DDN seems to have taken a turn for the worse.  I say 'seems to' because we haven't seen that rules module yet.  I have faith in the designers to give us what we want.  But I do want to make it clear how much I want it.
Right, so it doesn't matter tactically, but does matter strategically, since you're consuming a limitted resource that you might need very badly later.  That's contrary to your hypothesis that 4e is heavily tactical and lacking in strategic complexity relative to earlier eds.  When practical healing was magic-only, healing resources were concentrated in the Cleric and any magic items the party found, that was a fairly simple pool of healing that, when depleted, had to be re-charged.  In 4e, healing surges are a resource of each character individually, while triggering surges is an encounter resource, and not all uses of surges are equal (a second-wind surge is often better than a healing potion, but a leader-triggered surge is often better than either) nor even for healing (they can power rituals, practices, or items or be lost to attacks, diseases or failed checks in a skill challenge).  That's a more complex set of healing resources than a slate of cleric spells and some potions in AD&D.



Going to be contrary here.  It matters tactically because the healing word (or whatever) is a limited resource within the encounter, which is a tactical choice.  "Where" the healing is applied is very important.  "If" the healing should be applied is not.

Using an action to cast a healing spell in 3e or AD&D is a tactical choice, too.  It's also one that uses a daily resource (spell).  Using Healing Word in 4e is a tactical choice.  It's also one that uses a daily resource (healing surge).  I'm not seeing a big difference in complexity.  Except, of course, that the tactical and strategic resource in the former are bundled in the one character, while in 4e they're distributed between two - which makes it more complex.

A fighter with Comeback Strike and a Cloak of the Walking Wounded working with a Warlord with Stand the Fallen and Aid the Injured could spend 7 healing surges in a single encounter if he really needed to.  The party would only have to be 5th level.  Potions would allow you to spend even more.



Yes, that's a fairly extreme case.

Needing to spend 7 surges would be pretty unusual, but being able to isn't that much of a stretch - the powers above are PH1 and fairly well-regarded, not at all unusual.  

For most of the first encounters of the day, the characters will end off with enough surges that they won't be significantly weaker pressing on.

Well, at least we've moved from 'encounters have no impact on strategy' to '/first/ encounters have no impact.'

Vastly?  Every PC in 4e has daily resources - powers, item dailies, and surges to manage.



This is true, but even if a PC in 4e exhausts 100% of his daily resources (excepting surges), he's operating at about 70% power.  That was an explicit design goal of 4e, in order to combat the 5 minute workday.  How well it worked is questionable

Nod.  Dailies are still pretty tastey, and everyone has 'em, so the temptation to rest more frequently than makes sense story-wise is always there, maybe not as intense, but there.  At least there is no distortion of class balance when the party succumbs to that temptation too frequently.  

In prior eds, the proprotion of at-will and daily powers varied radically from one class to the next.  An AD&D wizard run out of spells was opperating at a fraction of his accustomed effetiveness, while a Fighter was full-power right down to his last hp.  That was terrible for class balance, but I'm not sure it did a lot for strategic complexity.  The wizard clearly had some, but the fighter, none to speak of.  And the best strategy was not complex or hard to come up with.

DDN definitely makes the players think about their resources.

Well, some players.  The fighter has no resources but hps, as in AD&D.  The Wizard has dailies, but now also has enough at-wills to keep on truck'n if need be.  The wizard had 3 spells at first, and doubled that by 3rd - at that pace, running out of spells will quickly cease to be an issue.  And, of course, Rope Trick and the like could well return.

A place to spend the night and arm up again is met with significantly more relief than I've seen in 3rd or 4th.

I can recall a lot of relief at the end of a 6- or 8- encounter day...

Short combats also mean that I can fit 5-6 encounters in a single session, which makes it easier (in terms of in game continuity) for the players to fight a giant battle.  

The 'short combats' in 5e are a  matter of the monsters being de-facto minions.  Sure, a fight with 7 monsters you can one-shot-kill is short, a fight with 7 same-level minions would be short in 4e, too - and exactly what it is: trivial.

 

 

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I want my rules to be simple, and elegant.  Simple and elegant means that I don't need one set of rules for swimming, one set of rules for climbing, another for walking, another for running, etc. I just need one set of rules for "movement".

 Similarly, I don't want a bunch of rules for every single possible situation that might arise, I want a general rule system that I can easily apply to all situations.



Sure, that's a good argument to make, but "simple and elegant" doesn't mean "non existant."  I absolutely agree that, say, if you have rules that establish a zone of control mechanic that lets a defender hold the line, those rules should be easy to apply into underwater combat, combat in rough terrain, combat on the riggings of a ship, and so on.  However not including the rules is not elegant.  It makes me think more, not less.

Elegant is when there's a single set of rules for charging, dive-tackling, jump-kicking, and olympic-style running-spear throwing for combining the momentum of a double move with an attack.  Clumsy is when the rules as written say that you double move you don't get an action... at all.

Not everything can or should be covered by the rules, of course.  Some exceptions are far too corner case to come up often enough to warrant a specific rule, even if they fall outside the bounderies of any other rules.  I do not think that holding the line, stopping a retreat, or running an enemy down falls into that category.  They happen at least once per session, and should be covered with a fair and impartial set of rules.  To do otherwise in the name of "simplicity" is where DDN seems to have taken a turn for the worse.  I say 'seems to' because we haven't seen that rules module yet.  I have faith in the designers to give us what we want.  But I do want to make it clear how much I want it.

I must have skim read too much, but I was mostly replying to the notion of special diplomacy rules

But why do we have double move actions, like charging? Didn't those double move action rules, sort of break combat causing everyone to charge everywhere?  Shouldn't it just be a move action to charge, and then an action to hit at the end of the charge?
Tony, I think it's important to clarify how meaningful those choices are.

Healing in 4e is a special case because it's actually tactically simpler than 3e, compared to most other things.  The first question: should I heal an injured ally, is almost always yes.  The leader classes heal as a minor action, and the resource is an encounter resource, so the only real question is "who" to heal, not if one should heal.

Strategically, the fact that the cleric has to rely on an ally's healing surge doesn't matter.  If not healed by the cleric, the ally is going to spend that healing surge post-battle.  It's not a meaningful choice just because the cleric is using power.

In 3e, the cleric has a harder choice on both tactical and strategic fronts.  It's harder tactically because he a.) has to get into touch range and b.) has to spend a standard action.  It's harder strategically because he's giving up a secondary resource, like a spell.  From a 3e cleric's point of view, the choice to heal out of combat and give up a spell slot actually might need some consideration.  

From a 4e cleric's point of view it's bascially "I got a healing word left, who needs to spend a healing surge?!"

Of course, making those decisions more automatic was part of making the cleric fun, because the 4e cleric gets to drop his heal off without having to worry, and then make, on the same turn, the far more interesting tactical decision of who gets a lance of light or a mace in their face.  Sure, healing is tactically simple, but it frees him up for other choices.

While DDN has a lot of minion fights, its also faster even when 1st level characters are facing down hobgoblins and other heavyweight creatures that can take multiple hits.  Each turn runs quicker.  This is good.

We seem to be going back and forth here, though, on the topic if how much strategic play exists in 4e.  If you've found that a lot shows up in your games, awesome.  I haven't seen it as much in mine.  I'm much less concerned about that than I am about DDN, which is missing my favorite half of the equation from play.

Daganev, to answer your question, getting rid of double move actions would be an acceptable idea.  The problem is that double move actions *do* exist in DDN, and therefore if you forsake attacking, you can double your speed away from an enemy, who needs to double his speed to keep up with you, and thus can't hit you in melee.  If the game got rid of the idea of the double move action and you could only move your speed, then there wouldn't need to be a charge action either.  The existence of one requires the other.

Likewise, for diplomacy rules, the 3e rules for diplomacy do exist, and they are broken.  The DM is forced to apply modifiers as he sees fit, or if he doesn't apply modifiers have a 3rd level bard talk down a hostile pit fiend on a roll of "6".  At that point, why even have the rules?  Better no rules than rules which say "and then, after you've rolled the dice on that skill you have, the DM decides what happens anyway."
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