First Impressions by Old Players

So my group got together, and we ran through the playtest material.

I've been playing RPGs of all sorts with the current incarnation of this group for 12 years.  Two members I've been gaming with for 18 years.  One I've been gaming with for close to 28 years.  I trust their reactions, and their judgment.  Collectively, we've got over two centuries of gaming experience accumulated between us.  Most of us seem to have an attitude of "once bitten twice shy" when it comes to D&D.   As a group we all cheerfully invested our hard-earned cash in 4E with bright expectations for the new game, and as a group we were all very disappointed.  Nathan (the one with whom I have 28 years of mutual gaming history) has sworn that WotC will never see another non-Magic: The Gathering related dollar from him, ever, because he feels cheated when it came to 4E.

While the rest of us don't hold that view, we were all left feeling ill-used by the earlier edition.  I openly admit that this attitude probably colored our perception of the playtest material.

After the run-through I asked what they all thought.  They liked the game session well enough, but it wasn't compelling enough for anyone in the group to say they'd switch to Fifth.   The most enthusiastic reaction was probably from Steve, who said, "Well, at least its not Fourth Edition."  That brought a round of chuckles from everyone.  The general consensus on D&D 5th (we are refusing to call it by that ridiculous "D&D Next" moniker... though Nathan points out that if we were honest we'd be calling it D&D 9th) is that the designers are flailing around like drowning men, unsure of what particular elements it was that caused them to lose their market share.

All of us feel that 5E is a backpedal away from 4E.  None of us feel its going to be worth investing in.
Bear in mind this is the first playtest and not an example of the final game, as it stands their is a number of elements in this playtest that are fun and engaging with other additions this could be a fantastic game (or a pile of you know what) but it feels good so far IMO.
Bear in mind this is the first playtest and not an example of the final game, as it stands their is a number of elements in this playtest that are fun and engaging with other additions this could be a fantastic game (or a pile of you know what) but it feels good so far IMO.




Yeah, we're still going to participate in further playtest.  But that was our first impression.  And you know what they say about first impressions.
Our groups first impression was that it displayed many 2E elements with a sprinkling of 3E and 4E elements that made it refreshing.  They stated that the history of D&D has produced a version of the game that catered to different styles of play.  2E had less grid work and more old school role-playing using Theatre of the Mind approach, 3E included rules for everything and dozens of abilites, stat increases, etc.  Lastly, 4E became full minatures game that took a ridgid approach to playing D&D.  They concluded it was about time to revamp the system and bring back the elements that made the game what it is today.

Our group of players consists of a couple old schoolers, and several that a newer to D&D, and have a range of experiences from 1st to 4th edition.  They admitted there was much work to be done, such as areas of the cleric being over-powered, that medium armor seemed useless to any character with a DEX bonus, and spells needed to be tweaked or clarified a bit more.
  
The feeling you expressed was my groups pre play response.

After running through a session they all became excited and say that they can't wait for more.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

I'm right there with you on a lot of that. I think hey probably produced the "best game they know how" with 4e, and were probably genuinely vexed by the negative response to it. If you get right down to it, 4e isn't an inherently bad game. If they released it separately from D&D as "WotC Tactical Fantasy Combat", it would probably have been a profitable and fun niche game. It just wasn't D&D. Not the way the player base at large expected.

And yeah, I think they probably are flailing a bit since they made the kind of game that they (as designers) think was ideal, and now they're at a loss to what the players really want.

I mostly expect, over the course of the playtest, they'll throw a lot of mechanics that harken back to earlier editions or even indie games, to see what people like the most, and cherrypick for the final version based on tester feedback.

I think it's a solid approach to start with, but if they're not careful then they'll end up with DDURPS (Dungeons & Dragons Universal Roleplay System). Try and put in everything that people NEED (in their view) to play, then you end up with Tofu. You can turn it into anything you want, but it doesn't really TASTE like anything. Just like GURPS.
D&D has always been the McDonalds of roleplaying, and sometimes that's what you feel like having, even if it's not the best for you.