Long Post: Our thoughts those far

Hello, its us again. We have received your test packet with the new updates and have tried it out twice thus far, and are looking forward to playing it a couple more times. I have written the our thoughts from the original packets here and here and hope to continue our feedback here.


General Comments
Overall, everyone enjoys this version a lot better than your previous offering. One player went so far as to say that the last game seemed like work, while this one is actually enjoyable.


The combat flowed incredibly smoothly and quickly. The combat portion of the game is very much becoming incredibly straightforward, if not perhaps too simplistic. My players and I are still leery about every basic attack being an AC check, especially when leaving the cleverness of the four defences of 4th Ed.


That isn't true about stealth. We are still struggling about wrapping our heads about the specifics about how stealth works and when a person is hidden. I would recommend beefing this section up. If anything, an example would really help; something that describes how someone enters, remains, and loses stealth. We also have one specific question about stealth that must hit other people as well: what happens when you attack at range from stealth, and kill one of many enemies with that single shot? Do the other enemies see you? Are you still hidden from the rest of the enemies?


There seems to be a large disconnect between the strengths of the players and the strengths of the NPCs in this version. For example: we fought five encounters worth of orcs, which get +2 attack and AC 11. The players have +5/+7 attack and AC's of 10 to 16. These are level 3 creatures? In three orc-laden encounters, we were hit a grand total of two times, and one was the AC 10 wizard. On the flip side, an orc hits with 1d12 + 1 battle-axe. This means an orc can, in theory, one-shot any player that hasn't taken the Survivor speciality. And, we had one encounters worth of orcs ambush us and kill several members of our party that way. There really seems to be a lack of balance or even thought given to the NPCs to make them level-appropriate.


I understand that this game is to have static AC's and just ramp up the consequences of the failures. The feel of the game, however, is that all that is punishing you is the Random Number Generator. *If* a creature hits you and *if* the damage role is unlucky, you die. We played two nights, and one encounter we were stupid and nothing bad happened; and the next we were more careful and lost two members. It seems utterly random. And more to the point: how would a group run away if they realized they made a mistake? By the time they realize they are in over their heads, there is a good chance their heads would already be under their knees.


Is disengage meant to be an entire action instead of a movement? To me, it seems like you have forced every wizard to take Shocking Grasp and every cleric to have melee attacks.


The one that really stands out from the character building instructions is that there really doesn't seem to be a need to have many classes, especially “middle” classes like paladins and rangers. How mechanically different will a paladin be from a fighter that takes the “Acolyte” speciality or a cleric that takes the “Defender” speciality? How mechanically different will a bow ranger be from a fighter that takes the “Archer” speciality and “Sharp-shooter” fighting style?


Healing still sucks. The worst part isn't that you aren't trying to fix it – it is that you seem to be breaking every mechanic in the cleric class to fix it. I'll go one more specifically about this in the cleric discussion below.


We still don't have a comprehensive skill listing. We consider its continuing omission to be a major stumbling block in playing this game.


Will combat advantage and/or flanking ever be brought back?


We noticed that the XP needed to level was dropped. Our major issue is with levelling is that it is confusing trying to track down everything that needs to be upgraded when you level. For example, your listing states that we get “Skill Training” at level two. First off, can you at least point out here that “Skills” are part of the Backgrounds and that “Feats” are part of the speciality? Secondly, can you make the distinction here that “Skill Training” is what we get when we learn new skills, and “Improving Skills” we assume are the actual upgrades characters get at level two?


Here are some class-specific comments our group has compiled.


Fighter
Overall, the Combat Styles seemed unfinished and poorly implemented. First off, several of the styles do not roll the die but use it as nothing beyond a token to spend during the action. Several of the styles seem useless, such as “Glancing Blow” and “Precise Shot” or almost redundant with feats, such as “Protect” with “Defender” feat with the Guardian speciality.


When does “Glancing Blow” ever work? When does a Fighter roll an attack that misses despite rolling a 10 or higher, when he gets +3 plus Strength modifier to attack at level 1, and level 3 creatures, such as orcs, have an AC of 13? This seems pretty pointless. I would either recommend rolling the expertise dice to add to the attack roll and using that damage or bringing down the value of minimum roll to 6-8.


Does “Tumble” work for the entire move action? As well, does a tumbling fighter still receive opportunity attacks? The “benefit” text doesn't say, but the flavour text reads that the fighter would not be hit. Perhaps, the tumbling fighter should roll the expertise dice and get that bonus to AC


Ultimately, it seems like a solid attempt to appease all of the 4th Ed crowd that played martial characters that had choice and don't want to go back to all the drudgery that those classes had in every other version of D&D. These kind of this are specifically what I want to see from Wizards of the Coast: attempts to add wild and interesting new mechanics to the game, to take risks and explore new territory, rather than just blindly rehash the old stuff. Given that Wizard just decided to start releasing digital copies of their previous works, there is no reason for them to rehash the old now that they just sell it.


A big absence that the fighters are noticing is the lack of an obvious “marked” mechanic, especially given the build options to make “striker” fighters and “defender” fighters.


Lastly, is the absence of a large shield as equipment purposeful?


Rogues
Thug Rogue + 2d6 sneak attack damage = One-shot, one kill, every shot. This seems a little of out of whack. Admittedly, rogues in the previous incarnation were a useful as Helen Keller's Speak and Spell, but they may have gotten a bit more then their fair share of love. With the two fighters acting as the friendlies within reach, the rogue and her sling has out-killed the rest of the team combined by a fair margin.


The rogue's “Skill Mastery” is unclear: do rogue's get +3 on every check they do, or just on their trained skills? It might pay off here to include examples of both situations where this bonus applies and does not apply.


Does “Thieves' Cant” really belong as part of the Rogue base class, when it seems almost duplicate of the “Thief” background ability? Is it the assumption that every Iron Age kleptomaniac has to be indoctrinated into a Thieves' Guild?


Does “Thug Tactics” work with a rogue's ranged attacks?


I would recommend that Wizard stays away from using the same term multiple times in different contexts. One such place was when the terms “thief” and “thug” are used for both themes of rogues and as backgrounds. This caused confusion for our rogue.


Clerics
Healing still sucks. So far, there are two major, ham-fisted changes to the cleric class to attempt to fix this. Here is one:


“You can use your spell slots to cast any combination of spells you have prepared, as long as you respect the level limit. For example, if you have bless and cure light wounds prepared and have two 1st-level spell slots available, you can cast each spell once or cast one of those spells twice. ”


And the second:


“Once per day as an action, you can channel divinity (a magical effect). When you do so, choose a creature that you can see within 30 feet of you. If the target is living, it regains hit points equal to 1d8 + your Wisdom modifier. ”


So, at this point I have to wonder why they are called clerics and not just “obligatory heal-bots”. It ultimately feels like you are clumsily shoe-horning inelegant fix after inelegant fix to the Healing Problem by retooling every other thing with the Cleric class while the most obvious and elegant answer is to use the 4th Ed healing-surge concept. Is every heal-bot class going to have awkward cruft hurriedly bolted on – and then natural parts of the class removed – to failing address this issue?


I have yet to see rational reason why the healing surge mechanic in 4th Ed is not being used here, and why we are rolling dice to determine the amount of HP we receive from healing.


What happens when you cast “Light” on an object that is unwilling to be Lit, such as a thieving Halfling?


I have one minor problem with the “Acolyte” speciality: can “Sanctify Weapon” be changed such that it can be used on another character's weapon instead of the cleric's? Acolyte seems to give additional spells that a cleric could use, especially a melee-based cleric. However, if one wanted to play a spell-based cleric, this seems to be wasted.

Lastly, what happens when equipment packages have the same equipment in it?  For example, the Sun domain cleric and the "Priest" background both get holy symbols.


Concluding Thoughts
Again, overall the game seems to be heading in a positive direction. There are some things, like boring martial classes and useless rogues, that have been fixed from the first iteration. There are some new things, like fighting styles, that have been added that are cool new mechanics that help make this game unique and different from its predecessors. There are some old issues that are still rearing their ugly head from the previous version of D&D Next that haven't been properly fixed; such as healing, skill listings, and opportunity attacks. In general, though, the game is getting stronger and more polished.


My group seems to be looking forward to the playing it more than two times. We appreciate the opportunity to allow us to beta-test your game. We, as always, iterate that you continue to support your 4th Edition offering as you roll out this system, and we wish you success when you release this version.

I thought I'd help you out with a couple specific things that have answers.

Rogues

I would recommend that Wizard stays away from using the same term multiple times in different contexts. One such place was when the terms “thief” and “thug” are used for both themes of rogues and as backgrounds. This caused confusion for our rogue.




This is actually on purpose, but it was done in a complicated way.  It's not apparent if you read the background document first, then read the class document.   But if you read the class document first, you encounter the following text on page 8: "Choose a rogue scheme.  Two options are presented here: thief and thug.  You gain the background of the same name, in addition to the background you gain when you create your character (the two backgrounds cannot be the same).

So the point is that all Rogue Thieves are Thieves, and all Rogue Thugs are Thugs, but Fighters/Clerics/Wizards can still be Thieves or Thugs, and Rogue Thieves and Thugs are also something else.  Yes, this is confusing.  And it's probably unnecessary, considering that very few other classes are going to take the Thief/Thug background.  Rogue Skill Mastery makes anyone else having backgrounds somewhat pointless.

Subtextually, this means that every time they expand the Rogue class, they have to think about also expanding the background list.  It's not a very forward-thinking design.  But that's why it's a playtest.


Clerics

Lastly, what happens when equipment packages have the same equipment in it?  For example, the Sun domain cleric and the "Priest" background both get holy symbols.




You have two holy symbols.   There's a logical distinction between story/BS items like "lock of hair from bounty" or "token of affection" and functional items.  Holy symbols are certainly the latter.  Their cost is included in the cost of the package, in order to given everyone the same gp to start.

Granted, they've messed up some of their packages due to changing costs.  All background packages should add up to 50gp when you ignore story items.  All class packages should add up to 150gp.  Some don't.  I haven't done the math on all of them, but I know that the Protector package is missing 5gp, while all the other fighters are square.

Reasonably, you should use DM fiat to let any player sell back duplicate items at full price. 
Given that your players are coming out of 4E, how are they taking the change to the actions their characters can take in a round? I ask because I found that mine are annoyed by the loss of Standard, Move, and Minor, but I haven't seen much on the forums to suggest that this is bothering anybody else.
Just a few onions short of a patch.
@chimerstry

Holy cow, I didn't even see that!  That's really interesting.  I agree with your analysis, but it can't really be that hard to create backgrounds to match rogue schemes -- mechanically, it's just three skills + plot hooks.  Or even use the current ones -- making a "spy" scheme, for example.

I agree with the "reasonably" part.  I would just think that this is something obvious that should be covered in the documentation.  Or perhaps it is a minor thing that won't be in the official release anything.

@Wildonion 

So far, the removal of a minor action was noted but not really encountered.  Most of the races/classes in the play test are ones that don't have large pools of usable minor actions in 4th Ed.  I do notice it with the cleric, largely because the cleric's minor actions are healing in 4th Ed; though they attempt to address it.  If anything, the ability to break up the move action, or to spend movement feet for things like standing up, are noticed more and considered an improvement.  Spending your action to disengage, however, really irks us; it would seem better to spend all of your movement to disengage instead of sacrificing an action to do it.
I think the game should take the Second Wind from 4E's dry run and spiritual predecessor, Star Wars SAGA edition. Have it be like 25 percent of your HP plus your Con modifier. You get it ONCE. You get one Second Wind, one Heroic "Screw you, I ain't dyin'!" per day.

That is one thing I hated about 4E. Is healing surging 19 times a day, and using spells and abilities and items to get more of them or make them worth more or use them faster, any sillier than just going to bed and waking up? Is 3 hits from a Cure Light Wounds or Lesser Vigor wand sillier than getting 19 effects that were stolen from SAGA's SECOND Wind Ability? Second Wind, not 19th Wind.

Put a mechanic in where people can heal themselves, like D20 Modern. Make the Heal skill really MATTER.   
Spot people 10 or 20 HP points and call it the Kicker Mechanic or Heroic Fortitude or whatever. Hijack that great concept from Hackmaster.

Right now, Level 1 is just GOOFY deadly. Even worse than 3.5 

The game as it stands now seems like it should start about level 3. Then again, I liked Hackmaster, SAGA and 4E, when everybody was 20 HP plus and wouldn't die in a stiff breeze. 1st Level is like a Wizard Death Sentence now.

           
I think the game should take the Second Wind from 4E's dry run and spiritual predecessor, Star Wars SAGA edition. Have it be like 25 percent of your HP plus your Con modifier. You get it ONCE. You get one Second Wind, one Heroic "Screw you, I ain't dyin'!" per day.

That is one thing I hated about 4E. Is healing surging 19 times a day, and using spells and abilities and items to get more of them or make them worth more or use them faster, any sillier than just going to bed and waking up? Is 3 hits from a Cure Light Wounds or Lesser Vigor wand sillier than getting 19 effects that were stolen from SAGA's SECOND Wind Ability? Second Wind, not 19th Wind.

Put a mechanic in where people can heal themselves, like D20 Modern. Make the Heal skill really MATTER.   
Spot people 10 or 20 HP points and call it the Kicker Mechanic or Heroic Fortitude or whatever. Hijack that great concept from Hackmaster.

Right now, Level 1 is just GOOFY deadly. Even worse than 3.5 

The game as it stands now seems like it should start about level 3. Then again, I liked Hackmaster, SAGA and 4E, when everybody was 20 HP plus and wouldn't die in a stiff breeze. 1st Level is like a Wizard Death Sentence now.


Personally, I find that many hit points to be to much. I like where hit points are at, feel free to guess which editions I prefer. I also, found Healing Surges to be one of those ideas that seemed like it was better when they first came up with it but fell flat on implementation. I didn't find it elegant or even clunky, it was just bland. I like there to be a bit of risk with healing not everyone gets back the same everytime they heal. Additionally, I'm not a fan of the Long-rest and get everything back (max HP that is).
That being said, I am all for a "Screw you, I ain't dyin'!" ability once per day. That is something I have players in my 3.5/Pathfinder games trying to use Action Points for. I use them with lots of options but not one for some sort of "Screw you, I ain't dyin'!" ability. Though I have been considering it for a higher point cost.
My 2cp. 
While I understand the point you're making Morrowner, in all fairness, 19 surges is very far from the usual number of surges available to a 4th edition PCs. Assuming a 16 Con score (something only very specialized defenders or certain classes would have - it is rare to see rogues and wizards with such constitution score), the numbers of surges available to characters at the first levels would be:

Cleric - 10 surges
Fighter - 12 surges
Rogue - 9 surges
Sorcerer - 9 surges
Warlock - 9 surges
Wizard - 9 surges

And, although surges can be freely spent between short rests, in combat, you're limited to one use of Second Wind and any abilities and itens you and the party may have. In actual play, in any given battle, unless you have spent a lot of money on consumables, it is very hard to be able to use all these surges. A typical level 1 party with a cleric, a wizard, a fighter in a rogue wading into their first battle would be able to spent only 6 of their combined 30 healing surges. In effect, even though those surges are there, they're cannot always be used for healing in the middle of a combat.

However, even though the number you provided is an exaggeration of the real thing, your point is still valid - characters in 4th edition have more healing available to them than in Saga Edition, for example. I must say however that I sit at the opposite side of the expectrum - I would like very much for Next's short rest to work just like 4th's. It was very useful for DM encounter building to have the party always at "full HP", even though their actual resources for fighting (surges) were diminishing steadly after each battle. That meant the second and third battle generraly retained the same level of lethality they would have even if they were earlier battles that day.

In Saga or D&D 3.X, a "determined encounter" in the same adventuring day would present different levels of difficulty depending on the number os encounters the party had before. A "determined encounter" can be easy or very hard depending on the "moment" it appears in the adventuring day. That is one aspect of the HP rules that I didn't like, both in Saga and in 3.X. Healing surges coupled with 4th's rest mechanic resolved that.

If Wizards is unwilling to use the solution provided by 4th, I would like to see at least another solution to that problem above. It is much easier to gauge encounter difficulty if the this difficulty stays more or less the same no matter what time the encounter is "tackled" in the adventure.

Let me also reiterate that I understand that not all people want a game like this, and that I respect the varied opinions and preferences over this issue. I just want the Next system to be able to easily accomodate us all . It would be very good if the game can be easily tailored to mine or your tastes! ^^
Are you threatening me master jedi? Dungeons & Dragons 4e Classic - The Dark Edition
I understand that this game is to have static AC's and just ramp up the consequences of the failures. The feel of the game, however, is that all that is punishing you is the Random Number Generator. *If* a creature hits you and *if* the damage role is unlucky, you die. We played two nights, and one encounter we were stupid and nothing bad happened; and the next we were more careful and lost two members. It seems utterly random. And more to the point: how would a group run away if they realized they made a mistake? By the time they realize they are in over their heads, there is a good chance their heads would already be under their knees.


Combat with 1st level PCs is probably always going to be hard to balance. At least if you want a game system where leveling up feels noticeably more powerful. The good news is that judging by my experience with combat at 3rd level it quickly becomes a lot less swingy (see 3rd Level Playtest: The Combat), and PCs can take at least 3 or so hits.

Well, I was a Dwarf Fighter in my second 4th Edition game after my Charisma Warlord just felt bleh to me. I had a belt that gave me more healing surges, too. Somehow I was in single digit levels with high teen, 15 or 17 I think, healing surges. It was just crazy. I wasn't even intending to do it but it shook out like that. Just left a sour taste in my mouth from something I thought SAGA did excellently, Second Wind.
Well, I was a Dwarf Fighter in my second 4th Edition game after my Charisma Warlord just felt bleh to me. I had a belt that gave me more healing surges, too. Somehow I was in single digit levels with high teen, 15 or 17 I think, healing surges. It was just crazy. I wasn't even intending to do it but it shook out like that. Just left a sour taste in my mouth from something I thought SAGA did excellently, Second Wind.

15 or 17 is kind of crazy, but that is on the very high end and you were very unlikely to gain any more as you level. 1. Durable paragon feat. 2. Gain onen by automatic stat increase at paragon or epic. 13. Using your optional stat increase. Mostly they fell between 8-14 surges, which I still felt could've been halved or lowered.

Next is too low though. I'd like just double starting hit die. So fighter starts with 20-24 hp. Rogue with 12-16.  Or maybe max one and roll one. So rogue rolls d6. (or half round up) +con +6 at first level so range of 6-16 and fighter would be 10-24. And a once per day "not yet g-damit" (in the words of Thurgood Marshall) would be perfect.
4E has a problem over time of "X is weak, let's add a feat or item to beef it up a little bit"... accumulating to the point where X is overpowered.

It's possible to build a character that has an absurd number of healing surges. However you're giving stuff up.

Between stuff that enhances MBAs and stuff that enhances charging, MBAs were not necessarily your weak third-or-fourth-choice attack *before* Essentials came out... and then Essentials Martial classes rely on MBAs while assuming that the basic MBA is weak and piling at-will enhancements on top of it. For some of these, you don't really have to give anything up. Charging in particular became significantly overpowered. And because of stacking bonuses, multiattacking was overpowered pretty early. Most of the top DPR builds spam either charges or multiattacks or both.

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose

Personally, I find that many hit points to be to much. I like where hit points are at, feel free to guess which editions I prefer. I also, found Healing Surges to be one of those ideas that seemed like it was better when they first came up with it but fell flat on implementation. I didn't find it elegant or even clunky, it was just bland. I like there to be a bit of risk with healing not everyone gets back the same everytime they heal. Additionally, I'm not a fan of the Long-rest and get everything back (max HP that is).
 



I agree with this.  It is pretty easy for individual groups to add to beginning hit points (or grant each adventurer Survivor Specialty for free) if they don't like the feel of the fragile 1st level wizard or rogue. 

And so far, I prefer the HD healing method over the Healing Surges.   I think that part of what makes combats move faster is player and DM knowledge that the only way to heal in combat is through spell or potion (so far).  When the DM knows that PCs can take 2nd wind in combat and boost their hit points, he or she is more likely to feel forced to push encounters to their limits more often in an attempt to challenge the PCs into using their scarce resources like Healing Surges.   As it is now, it feels ok as DM to throw a couple of weaker or moderate monsters at PCs.  If they take a small bite out of one or two PCs, that presents a more interesting decision point for the player.  Should I use my HD of healing if I'm at 6 of 12, or should I chance one more encounter?   


A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I am DMing the game DoomHaven has been commenting about, and here are some of my thoughts about the system.  In interest of full disclosure, 4th Ed D&D is the only tabletop roleplaying game I have played, and have only played D&D for about 4 years, and I typically prefer to play as a magic caster class regardless of what I am playing.  I have also only been a DM for these 5th Ed playtests as we had the opportunity (Thanks Wizards!) to try out the new system and give our thoughts on it, hopefully with all comments Wizards is getting it will be a great version when it is released, but I have been preparing a campaign to play with 4th Ed, just haven’t actually DM’d it yet.  We also play on a whiteboard with a grid or a Wizards tile map and use minis during combat encounters, and some people find that too limiting and have commented as such.  We started playing the Caves of Chaos in May and updated the monsters in August, and have been slowly working our way through, I’d say we’ve covered about 40% of the area and 33% of the Bestiary entries (we are a slow group).


The Bestiary from the 3rd release, Oct 8th, 2012, is a vast improvement over the previous one, Aug 13, 2012.  The one released in August was a joke, and a bad one at that.  In August most of the monsters had their stats either unchanged, or reduced yet their XP value doubled, tripled or even more.  There was no challenge to the players what so ever, which made combat utterly boring.  My one complaint with the new bestiary, and it may very well be just because it’s low level monsters as from what I understand Player AC will not increase with level as it did with 4th Ed, that the players seem to have on average a 66% (they can hit on as low as a 5 depending on monster) chance to hit on an attack, and the monsters have roughly 25%(pretty much only hit on 15+).  Part of this could be that most attacks are targeted on the parties 2 fighters, both have high AC value, but a big part is the monsters have much lower AC then the fighters, while each player adds 5-7 to their die, while monsters get 1-3 added, in fact, the fighter’s cleave ability has been proven completely useless as it only hits if he misses when rolling a 10 or higher, however he never misses on a 10, he can usually hit on 7.  If I switched all ranged attacks to target the Wizard I could probably drop her every single encounter with ease, but that is not going to be fun for them.  I think the ‘marked target’ system needs to be implemented back into combat, which would allow a party to have better control of a combat, because there is nothing in the game mechanics stopping the DM otherwise from just picking on the weak party members.


                As for the bestiary directly, I think it’s possible the Zombie could have a higher XP value because of the Zombie Fortitude ability, perhaps 25 or 30 XP instead, just comparing with the Humans Commoners and Berserkers.  I don’t see why you needed to remove many of the abilities from the Dark Acolytes, Adepts, and Priests, chances are they would die long before using all of their abilities in combat anyway, this just reduces the options and the ‘coolness’ factor in a combat.  I am also surprised these 3 have such a high HP value, most monsters have about half or slightly higher of their dice value, these ones have a much higher percentage, the Acolyte has 100% for example.  Overall the bestiary is much improved, for simply reducing the XP value to a less laughably over inflated amount for their threat potential. 


                The GM guide however, also drastically reduces the XP budget for a combat, and does not change the ‘Average Adventuring day’ values(number of combats in a day).  The previous combination, 4 ‘Average’ encounters were a joke.  My party went through them with ease, and continued for another 4 encounters and still have only spent one heal spell, 5 wizard spells, and 5 hit dice between all 5 players, and are planning to go through to another cave before their day is over.  Perhaps if you can’t find a balance otherwise, simply change a standard ‘Average Adventuring day’ average encounter count to be 8-10 instead of 4, and let the players know that as well so they balance their spell use for a longer day.  So far the average length of combat has been 2.1 rounds, with a player taking a hit 2.4 times per encounter, even though there were at least as many monsters as players, and often double.   I’m not complaining regular combat moves quickly, but that it is too easy.  The XP budget and monster XP values just seem unbalanced, as an example, a previous average encounter for 5 players at level 3 could have been about 6 Hobgoblins, and now it will be roughly 28, mainly because they have been dropped to level 1, I’m not sure why they couldn’t have been made a little tougher and kept at level 3, or at least level 2.  What you need to do is provide monsters with better stats, and make their XP value reflect that.  There shouldn’t be a difference of 40% hit ratio comparing players to monsters either, and there shouldn’t have to be nearly 30 monsters in a combat to provide any form of challenge to the players.  The only reason I can think of having the hit ratio so unbalanced is that as monsters increase in level their hit to miss ratio changes to better favor them, but that will mean that you’d need to be a mid to high level character before combat gets exciting, and that seems flawed.  Unless my party is different from most D&D players, after a tough combat they like to feel that they overcame a challenge, right now all the game seems to be is a game of patience, waiting for your turn to kill one or more monsters.  On average, it seems most rounds of combat the players will kill 3-4 enemies and take 1 hit themselves, there is no challenge, there is no threat to them, there is no thrill, and the combats are less fun.  Currently I think the obscene lack of balance is the biggest hurdle you need to overcome before this is released.


                In terms of simplifying combat, having only AC for defense instead of having four different defense stats is good, however I do not like it.  I preferred having the extra depth that could be provided with the multiple defense stats, and it made sense in combat that if you were trying to dodge something it was your Reflex, not Armor Class, or if you were attacking someone with a charm or fear ability that it would be their Will defense that would be the target.  It also allowed players to switch roles, so the ‘meat shield’ is not on the front lines during a combat with someone with a lot of Will based attacks, someone with the appropriate defense could step up and change the combat dynamic.  The multiple defenses in 4th Ed seems to me to just add a lot more flexibility into combat, and frankly it just makes more sense to me as well.


                Before I leave the topic of combat, from what I can tell the player that is playing a wizard does not enjoy the spells that instead of her rolling a d20 to hit, the DM rolls a saving throw, making her feel less involved in the combat then others who get to say what they’re doing and roll their dice.  It also seems to me that the magic users still get all the cool abilities, get to do awesome things in combat, while the martial classes get rather mundane abilities that don’t really get any greater with levels, which I think is a shame because with 4th Ed all classes got cool encounter powers and awesome daily powers that could change the entire combat experience.  It seems that in order to compensate for the ‘lack of cool’, some of them get expertise dice and can reduce damage they take and/or increase damage they give, , or can grant themselves advantage for an number of attacks per day, but it still seems to me that the ‘cool’ classes that I’d want to play are all casters. 


                As for out of combat, I do miss the 4th Ed skill list, as there was a skill for almost every circumstance and it made sense as to which you would use, and the 5th Ed seems to have simplified it more than my liking, but I am sure others prefer the simpler way it is done in 5th Ed, so to each their own really, but it seems to me that it just makes it more difficult for the DM(more memorizing or looking up), for example, finding a hidden door in 5th Ed is a wisdom DC of 16, instead of a level appropriate perception check.


                There are many aspects with 5th Ed that I like so far however, so don’t just label me as just another hater yet.  I do like the Advantage/Disadvantage system, and have even implemented a house rule that a fumble in combat means you have disadvantage on your next attack while you are recovering.  Unlike 4th Ed, where everything scaled up as you level, which I do like as a player as you really feel like you are getting uber powerful with each level, 5th Ed stays mostly stationary, which makes DMing easier, as you aren’t constantly scaling things like non-combat challenges to the players level, and you have strict sets of rules for things like falling that don’t change with level or tier.  To be honest, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages and I’m not sure yet which I like more.  Overall the systems rules may be more in favor with us ‘out of the box’ as we have only made a couple house rules for it, and have about 10 for 4th Ed, but that could also be that we just haven’t had enough experience with the system to decide on them.  Overall, the 5th Ed system seems to move combat along fairly quickly and allow players to move the story along with speed, but that could also be partly because the combat seems to be ridiculously easy as well.


                In summary, I think the biggest hurdle right now is a balance issue between player classes and monsters, and I know Wizards is still working on new classes so it will be hard to resolve this until the game is more fleshed out.  I think this Edition can make a great addition to Wizards library, and will check out the system once it is released.  I’m not sure yet if my group will change to it over 4th Edition as there are many things we like in it, and are already heavily invested in it, (but we do like shiny new things so it’s possible) but I will definitely recommend other friends that are D&D players who play 3.5 and couldn’t get into 4 to check it out when it is released, especially since my understanding is that it is closer to an updated version from 3.5 then it is from 4.  I don’t think it’s a bad system, just as it stands right now it’s not yet convinced me it will be a great system worthy of the change for us with our play style and likes.  These are just my thoughts so far, and I’m open to other opinions, so feel free to comment on this post.