Efficient Play

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I would like to ask my fellow DM's about tips, tricks or strategies they employ to speed up gameplay?

I have players roll the attack and damage dice at the same time to speed up combat. I would like to know more methods for keeping the game moving forward so we can make effective use of our gametime.

Thanks.

Just in case I failed to mention; I am playing D&D 3.5e.
Don't talk to the person who is currently on turn, either with non-game distractions or strategic advice.
This seems to come up regularly on the forums.

Once you take care of a few obvious things like removing distractions, making sure character sheets are organized logically, and having initiative posted so players know when their characters are on deck, I really don't think there is much you can do to speed up play.  It just takes a certain amount of time to figure out what you want to do, roll, do math, explain any status effects, and move minis around.

I have noticed, though, that in the absence of technical difficulties, combat does seem to go a bit faster in online games where you have macros to do the math for you.  Rolling and math automatically takes a certain amount of time, and having that all replaced by one click is a not insignificant time saving.

Rather than trying to shorten combat, it should be made more meaningful.  If you're only getting in two or three encounters a night, make sure all of them are meaningful and advance the story or contribute significantly to the atmosphere, rather than just being pointless random encounters like running into a regular bear in a forest.
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
Do not argue about or even question rules interpretations while at the table. Let players decide how their powers work, and don't ask for a break down of a number or an effect. Players, do the same for the DM. If there's an issue, make a note and address it after the game.

For instance, I dropped my players from 50 feet above a surface. The monk used some kind of slow fall power, and the others teleported to the ground when they were in range. This is a highly controversial use of teleportation (or was at one time). We could have spent tens of minutes arguing about it, and making sure we got it "right," but that would have wasted time and probably created bad feelings at the table. That's not worth it, just to get things "correct."

So, if a player asks "Can I?" or "Does it work to?" just say "Yes," and move on. Unpleasant people might take advantage of this. Deal with them out of game too.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Do not argue about or even question rules interpretations while at the table. Let players decide how their powers work, and don't ask for a break down of a number or an effect. Players, do the same for the DM. If there's an issue, make a note and address it after the game.




Oh yes, yes and yes. I generally ask everyone to agree to a "quick arbitration" before the session. Any unclear rule we resolve with a quick dice roll (usually a 1d6: 1-3 DM's interpretation rules, 4-6 player's does). After the session is resolved we look up the rule in question and figure out the "right" way to do it. Just never let the rules get in the way of the fun.

I have a saying, "More attacking and less yakking."

Table chatter is a top time waster.   If it isn't about the game, as in role play, queries, getting feedback, descriptions and so on; keep it to as much a minimum as possible.

That means we players have to resist the urge to mention that scene from a movie we just saw because a situation came up in game that reminded us of it.  It means we must not rant about our bosses, wives, roommates, etc.  That means refraining from cute quips, puns and jokes as much as possible (this can be very tough to curb).  This means keeping analysis to after the game, not during it.  This means no play-by-play commentary.

That is not to say that all non game speech is verboten, but if you can keep it to a minimum you will be amazed at how much more gets done.  One of the best ways is to have some time before the game where everyone gets together and chats about whatever.  The key here is having the discipline to stop the chat in a timely manner so a group doesn't kill 2-4 hours of game time yakking.

By the way, excessive rules lawerying and arguing about rulings and game issues is table chatter (of a most vile kind) that should be mostly handled during a non gaming period (like after game).

Another big time waster is Analysis Paralysis.  This is simply folks who take too long to come up with a decision of what to do.  With 3e and 4e this problem has exploded due to there being much more options.  Being familiar with the rules and options can really speed things up, but if the player really does treat every round as a championship chess match I suggest you do what many chess tournaments do:  Use a 1 minute timer!  If the excessively slow decider can't make a decision in that time, his character is considered to have just stood there for that round.  This generally will speed slow pokes up.

Have stuff ready-- the sheets filled out-- COMPLETELY AND ACCURATELY!  Dice and pencils out.  If computers are used, have them booted up, and the relevant files opened.  And the biggy-- have the players prepare their actions BEFORE it is their turn in the round and insist that, if they are using a spell or power, they have the book (or PDF) open to that page before they use the power or cast the spell.  This has the very beneficial side affect of reducing table chatter too.

Here is one tip that often is not mentioned:  DMs, learn to be more clear and concise with your descriptions.  If you are constantly having to explain, clarify and re-explain, the amount of time wasted will be enormous.  Likewise, resist the urge to have long, flamboyant descriptions.  Keep it short, sweet and simple.  Not only do long descriptions take longer (Duh!), but odds are you will bore the players, and even attentive ones will often miss bits of information that will lead to the dreaded, "I don't get it.  What does this room look like again?"

And here is number one:  Pay attention!  Table chatter is bad, but I have learned the biggest slow downs happen when folks simply don't keep their mind on the game.  The bad part is, it only takes one player who isn't paying attention to slow the whole game down.  If you can't focus, for the sake of the group, don't play. 

This means, if you really are tired (for example), leave the table for a half hour and take a nap.  You'll be amazed at how much better you feel and how much better the game goes along.  The few minutes spent catching you up to speed is far less than the colossal slowdowns resulting from taking forever to make a decision, distracted bored chatter dribbling out the mouth, and the players and DM alike having to tell you and retell you information and descriptions over and over.
Unless distance and movement are the specific point of the encounter, do not bother counting range or movement distances.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

If you really want things to click, try timed rounds. Each player gets 15 seconds from the start of their initiative pass to declare actions. It cuts down analysis and keeps people focused, but is also pretty "intense" so make sure to state it up front if you're gonna try it
Just have generally shorter combat. Arrange things so that if the PCs can't take out the monsters in two rounds, then the monsters escape/kidnap the target/ignite the Fire of Orthanc/whatever. They'll fire both barrels and still be challenged, but the encounter will be "over" shortly, no matter what. They might even decide that they can't win it, and just accept the consequences, rather than waste the resources.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Sound advice.
Just in case I failed to mention; I am playing D&D 3.5e.
Also, don't be afraid to end an encounter once the outcome is obvious (I am one of the few DMs who misses the morale rules from earlier editions, but I am aware that I am an anomaly). What are the odds that random goblin #8 fights on after his elite boss is turned into dog food? How many wild animals (other than those starving or defending their young) fight to the death when hurt and outnumbered? Sometimes it is best just to wrap it up and go on to the next encounter.
Some monsters in 4th edition have things in their tactics like, "they run away when more than half of their allies are dead."
I really don't think the DM pulling out a stopwatch and timing people's turns is a good idea for anyone.  Better to fix the obvious stuff and accept what you can not control than going all Frederick Winslow Taylor on your players.  We're supposed to be playing D&D, not assembling Model Ts.
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
But when you have a player who takes at least five minutes on every single turn, it gets tempting.
Kerapalli, I like the idea of having enemies flee when hurt or out numbered.

I don't think the idea is to use a stopwatch Crimsyn but rather have players making quick decisions while in combat. An evil wizard isn't going to wait for players to discuss if he should be captured dead or alive before attacking.

I normally have NPCs take their turn if players take too long to make up their minds.
Just in case I failed to mention; I am playing D&D 3.5e.
I don't think the idea is to use a stopwatch Crimsyn but rather have players making quick decisions while in combat.



Actually, that is what has been suggested in this thread:

if the player really does treat every round as a championship chess match I suggest you do what many chess tournaments do:  Use a 1 minute timer!  If the excessively slow decider can't make a decision in that time, his character is considered to have just stood there for that round.



If you really want things to click, try timed rounds. Each player gets 15 seconds from the start of their initiative pass to declare actions. It cuts down analysis and keeps people focused, but is also pretty "intense" so make sure to state it up front if you're gonna try it

DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
Monsters don't always fight to the death. Even less intelligent monsters will realize when they are completely outclassed or out numbered. There isn't any point to wasting character resources or table time fighting the one bloodied ettin that's left over from all his buddies. That ettin isn't going to hang around and let the PCs beat on him while he uses his one more attck that can't possibly take down an entire party. He's going to run.
Also initiative cards. Something I picked up from slyflourish. 10 index cards folded in half so they stand up numbered 1 through 10. Take intiative, pass them out, and watch your encounter time cut in half.
My monday night wouldn't be half as cool if DnD didn't exist.
Monsters don't always fight to the death. Even less intelligent monsters will realize when they are completely outclassed or out numbered. There isn't any point to wasting character resources or table time fighting the one bloodied ettin that's left over from all his buddies. That ettin isn't going to hang around and let the PCs beat on him while he uses his one more attck that can't possibly take down an entire party. He's going to run.

Right. Along the same lines, monsters don't always fight to their opponents' deaths. The ettin might have been hired to delay or push back the party, even for just a few seconds, to enable someone else to get away or perform a task. After X rounds, or after some other trigger, the ettin's job is done and, bloodied or not, he's going to get out of there.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I don't think the idea is to use a stopwatch Crimsyn but rather have players making quick decisions while in combat.



Actually, that is what has been suggested in this thread:

if the player really does treat every round as a championship chess match I suggest you do what many chess tournaments do:  Use a 1 minute timer!  If the excessively slow decider can't make a decision in that time, his character is considered to have just stood there for that round.



If you really want things to click, try timed rounds. Each player gets 15 seconds from the start of their initiative pass to declare actions. It cuts down analysis and keeps people focused, but is also pretty "intense" so make sure to state it up front if you're gonna try it



For me, the use of a timer is one of those "last resort" options but it is one I have used.

I have played with and DMed for players who average 5 minutes for each roll of the dice!  I have one in my game right now and the threat of the timer keeps his 20+ minute long rounds at bay.  We joke that he's like a youtube video on dial up-- buffering, buffering, buffering...

Part of what made him take so long is that his sheet is never filled out right.  Even if I filled it out for him, within a game or two, it would be wrong and he couldn't find anything.  He waited until his turn to look up spells and powers, and never did such between turns.  So, I busted out the timer; the first time in 8 years.  The game has greatly improved and the other players are much happier too.  Interestingly, the "timered" player is more engaged as well.  About a month ago, I put the timer away and things are still good.

Now, for important decisions, like life or death; or in cases where role play is engaged I would never time a player, even a slow one.  But when, "I attack the orc mook" takes 20 minutes (or more), the timer is the group's best friend.

To make people wait an undue amount of time is considered rude in most circles and it is true in D&D too.  If you can't make a decision within a minute or two, and then you take an extra full minute or more to roll a dice and call out the result, for EACH ACTION, you are being a jerk player.
We've been running an extended city adventure, and one of the first things I established was "city rules," ie characters do not fight to the death. You bloody an opponent and he is down, rolling on the ground in pain. This made combat go much more quickly. Also I often establish a leader in the encounter. Take him/her/it down and the others likely will run away. The main idea is fights in cities happen, but murder draws attention. So far both sides have held to those rules, though it could change.

I've asked the players to roll initiative as soon as they sit down at the table and mark it on the corner of their character sheet, that way the moment combat occurs they are ready to go. I've also asked them to roll damage whenever they roll to attack, so the dice have already hit the table.

On my end of things I tend to average damage for my villains ahead of time, about 60 percent of total damage, so I can say "he hit, does 7 damage" without having to sit and roll a handful of dice myself. I usually have max damage listed as well in case of a crit.

I think Centauri has suggested this and I know there are others on the board who ascribe to this kind of thinking, but I absolutely agree, have a goal other than killing the other guy. Sometimes I secretly give the villains such a goal, and if they can't get it done, they cut their losses and run.
We've been running an extended city adventure, and one of the first things I established was "city rules," ie characters do not fight to the death. You bloody an opponent and he is down, rolling on the ground in pain. This made combat go much more quickly. Also I often establish a leader in the encounter. Take him/her/it down and the others likely will run away. The main idea is fights in cities happen, but murder draws attention. So far both sides have held to those rules, though it could change.

I like the idea of someone being "out" when they're bloodied. You're saying players follow it, too? Do the PCs have many effects that depend on enemies being bloodied, such as Bloodhunt? This rule would tend to make those less useful, though the benefit might still be worth it.

I think Centauri has suggested this and I know there are others on the board who ascribe to this kind of thinking, but I absolutely agree, have a goal other than killing the other guy. Sometimes I secretly give the villains such a goal, and if they can't get it done, they cut their losses and run.

I don't think I mentioned it here, so thanks for bringing it up.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I think Centauri has suggested this and I know there are others on the board who ascribe to this kind of thinking, but I absolutely agree, have a goal other than killing the other guy. Sometimes I secretly give the villains such a goal, and if they can't get it done, they cut their losses and run.



Alternate goals are hit or miss in speeding up combat. They do make the combat more interesting and dynamic though.

"Combat outs" like your "counting coup" example in the city-based game are better for combat speed. Here, I'm defining a combat out as being a set condition that is met at which the monsters/NPCs surrender, retreat, or parlay. Of course, a combat out can be an alternate goal if it is known to the players.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character
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Alternate goals are hit or miss in speeding up combat. They do make the combat more interesting and dynamic though.

Right, and that can help not minding longer combat, especially if the goal is a decision point for the larger story.

One effect they can have is to get players less worried about failure, since their characters aren't at stake. This can encourage them to loosen up on perfect tactics and make faster moves.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Right, and that can help not minding longer combat, especially if the goal is a decision point for the larger story.

One effect they can have is to get players less worried about failure, since their characters aren't at stake. This can encourage them to loosen up on perfect tactics and make faster moves.



For sure. After all the many, many combat speed threads over the years and trying out numerous little tricks, I've come to realize most are marginal and inconsistent at best.

So the best bet is to simply accept that combat is going to run an hour on average, sometimes more. Plan for that in your pacing as DM and make each combat awesome with alternate goals, cool terrain features and powers, change-ups, and whatnot. That plus simply altering your perception on how long combat should be is the best way to stop worrying about it. If by some fluke the combat ends up being less than an hour, you can then be pleasantly surprised.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character
Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

We've been running an extended city adventure, and one of the first things I established was "city rules," ie characters do not fight to the death. You bloody an opponent and he is down, rolling on the ground in pain. This made combat go much more quickly. Also I often establish a leader in the encounter. Take him/her/it down and the others likely will run away. The main idea is fights in cities happen, but murder draws attention. So far both sides have held to those rules, though it could change.

I like the idea of someone being "out" when they're bloodied. You're saying players follow it, too? Do the PCs have many effects that depend on enemies being bloodied, such as Bloodhunt? This rule would tend to make those less useful, though the benefit might still be worth it.

I think Centauri has suggested this and I know there are others on the board who ascribe to this kind of thinking, but I absolutely agree, have a goal other than killing the other guy. Sometimes I secretly give the villains such a goal, and if they can't get it done, they cut their losses and run.

I don't think I mentioned it here, so thanks for bringing it up.




The PCs only have a few abilities and items that rely on bloodied conditions, so it really hasn't been an issue... the PCs have the advantage because if they are bloodied, they have a few ways (second wind, healing potions, healing powers) of bringing themselves back into the fight. The usually are fighting superior numbers, so the combat still feels balanced and the players like the faster skirmish battles.

I also mix things up. Not every fight follows those rules, just the "city" encounters with other humanoids. There is a summoner who has taken over an abandoned tower in the town and is using a permanent summoning circles to bring in creatures to do his bidding. The critters tend to have goals like "torch the docks" or "Kill this NPC." In those cases the critter either hits its goal and then flees, or the PCs kill it. But the players seem to understand if something big shows up, start using your daily powers and kill it quick. They've also found themselves having to team with the bad guys because something bigger than both groups interrupts the first fight and doesn't care for either side.


Some ideas I've seen for speeding up initiative and turn-passing (some offer other advantages also, some aren't applicable in all situations):

* At the beginning of the session, have everyone do several initiative rolls - more than you expect to need. The DM records them and uses them whenever. (This also means the DM doesn't have to announce the beginning of an encounter, which is useful for some non-combat encounters.)

* If you're at a physical table, whichever player has the best initiative roll goes first (unless, of course, a monster goes first) and then the other players get I-1, I-2, I-3, etc. working around the table. The DM has to keep track of where the monsters go...  This one doesn't obviously work in online games.

* Hand initiative tracking off to someone other than the DM.

* Announce which player's turn it is now - and whose turn is next. (If monsters are next, say which player comes after the monsters.) 
"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
tips, tricks or strategies they employ to speed up gameplay?

Check out the Compilation. My favorites are:
- Use average damage
- Run initiative swiftly: tell people when they are on deck, move onto the next PC if one isn't ready, etc. I prefer to 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).

Okay, so I'm more or less the epitome of inefficient play (for the most part), but I'm curious as to why 4e combat takes so long. I've seen whole events/sessions planned around a single combat encounter with the next part or conclusion taken up the next week.

Any insights into this? 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
curious as to why 4e combat takes so long

More HP than previous editions, and more things that you can do.

curious as to why 4e combat takes so long

More HP than previous editions, and more things that you can do.




More HP, I get. But define "more things".
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
define "more things".

More options, and more actions. Players tended optimized to fully use their minor and immediate actions. Also, the designers started introducing more free and triggered actions.

define "more things".

More options, and more actions. Players tended optimized for fully utilize their minor and immediate actions. Also, the designers started introducing more free and triggered actions.




Ah, okay. Makes sense. I didn't think it possible to make combat more detailed, but then again, I always had a standard house rule of "3 free actions per round and no more". As it is supposed to be a 6 second round, therefore there's only so many things you can do in 6 seconds before you're bending time and space...

Edit: Or hell...was it 2 free actions? I can't remember. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
One thing that bothers me about 4e is the commonly-held belief (in my experience) that if you don't use each one of your actions for something, you've failed somehow as a player. I sit in disbelief at the number of players that hem and haw and waste everyone's time desperately trying to fill up all of their actions.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character
Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

The longer I play, the more convinced I become that D&D initiative is a terrible system -- it's swingy (espeically in its modern d20 incarnation), slows down play, and seldom has any interesting effects other than "we alphastrike him before he can alphastrike us".

I've tried various times to convince the players that they should just act in the order they are seated, like how you take turns in a card game. (Rationale: How much real-time does it take to determine who goes when in a poker game? Answer: basically zero seconds.) However the players don't like this idea so I haven't enforced it.

I will admit that as a DM, I typically cheat on monster init. I won't make the highest monster's init higher than it was, but I will flagrantly make up inits for the other monsters specifically to spread them out. I like the rounds to go PC / monster type 1 / PC / monster type 2 / PC monster type 3 / etc.

Anyway. If you can figure out a way to remove initiative rolling from the game, do so. It will speed things up drastically.
I sit in disbelief at the number of players that hem and haw and waste everyone's time desperately trying to fill up all of their actions.

The DM should be on to the next player by then. Protests of "I'm not done yet" from new players go away quick enough.

In fact: anytime a player tells me what his minor action is, I try to give him a look of "if this does not affect my creatures, why are you even telling me this?!"
The longer I play, the more convinced I become that D&D initiative is a terrible system -- it's swingy (espeically in its modern d20 incarnation), slows down play, and seldom has any interesting effects other than "we alphastrike him before he can alphastrike us".

I've tried various times to convince the players that they should just act in the order they are seated, like how you take turns in a card game. (Rationale: How much real-time does it take to determine who goes when in a poker game? Answer: basically zero seconds.) However the players don't like this idea so I haven't enforced it.

I will admit that as a DM, I typically cheat on monster init. I won't make the highest monster's init higher than it was, but I will flagrantly make up inits for the other monsters specifically to spread them out. I like the rounds to go PC / monster type 1 / PC / monster type 2 / PC monster type 3 / etc.

Anyway. If you can figure out a way to remove initiative rolling from the game, do so. It will speed things up drastically.



A man after my own heart... I can't stand initiative either. The "gearshift" alone from non-combat to combat is excrutiating.

I'll be playing Marvel RPG this weekend and (as I understand it), someone jumps in and goes first, then when they are done with their spotlight time, hands it off to whoever they want, and that person does the same. That makes so much more sense to me.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | The Art of Pacing (Series) | Improvisation Guide | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character
Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!
Check Out My D&D Next Playtest Campaign: The Next World

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

curious as to why 4e combat takes so long

More HP than previous editions, and more things that you can do.

There's more damage, too, so I don't think more HP is really the issue. There are more cool options, though, and people feel the need to maximize these in every fight.

There are more numbers and people always feel they need to keep exact track of the numbers. Most of the numbers don't matter though, and a group with a little experience can be just as fast in 4e as in any other editions (which, as I recall, didn't have combat that was either particularly speedy or interesting in the slightest.)

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I've tried various times to convince the players that they should just act in the order they are seated, like how you take turns in a card game.

My groups do that. The DMG even recommends it.

But you can do it within the rules. Having the monsters go on the same init allows for it.
I've tried various times to convince the players that they should just act in the order they are seated, like how you take turns in a card game.

My groups do that. The DMG even recommends it.

But you can do it within the rules. Having the monsters go on the same init allows for it.



I think this could work and solve many issues with initiative. Just be sure to mix it up and go from left to right for one encounter then right to left for the next. Maybe even a game of musical chairs between sessions so the guys in the middle get a chance to go first that night in combat. Otherwise, you could have arguments pop up about who should be sitting where, as eventually, someone is going to get upset that their high dexterity character never gets to go first in combat. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
But you can do it within the rules. Having the monsters go on the same init allows for it.

Sure, our groups just prefers not to use that rule.

I go back and forth on "all monsters act on same init". Yes, it is faster. However, it can lead to situations where due to geometry of the battle, all the monsters attack the same PC(s) on the same init count, which is pretty dangerous when it happens. Thus, I prefer to spread the monsters out.

More HP than previous editions

There's more damage, too, so I don't think more HP is really the issue.

I suspected someone would contend that point, but HP is definitely still one of the issues. The writers designed opponents (and combats) to last more rounds than in previous editions. For monsters: the HP was ramped up more than the damage (note though that PC HP is sustantially less than monsters HP, but this is balanced via healing and monsters doing less damage).