From a 4e fan to other 4e fans: Tactical Module is really that important?

I touched on this only very briefly in my Playtester Profile some time back, but recently the thought came back to me, and I wanted to hear the feelings of fellow 4e fans.

4e has been described by many as being tactically very rich and deep, and I'm not going to dispute that.  Even naysayers will describe it as such, though often the tactical richness is part of the reason they don't like the edition.

I'm a huge 4e fan for a number of reasons (though I will spare everyone the nitty-gritty details since they are not relevant to my topic), but the tactical richness is not one of them.  Mind you, I don't hate it.  4e being tactical is not a problem for me.  The point I'm making is that while it is not a problem, it isn't a boon either.  It simply is.

Am I the only one?  A lack of tactical depth has been touted by some as "deal-breaker" or a reason to walk way.  I'm not going to disparage others' tastes.  To each their own, and whatnot.  I'm simply wondering if there are others like me out there who like 4e but for whom the tactical richness was simply an aspect of the game to be neither liked nor disliked, but simply accepted as "part of the game".
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
See, tactical depths is not exclusive to 4e.  3e had a lot too and that method of play appeals to a lot of people (myself personally not included).  Heck, I've see some pre-3e house rules attempting tactical intensity too.  As such, this method of play should be supported one way or another so a module for it would be important.  Should it be "core"?  Probably not, but it should be made available as an option.  Personally, I'd ignore it as tactical depth did nothing for me.  It kinda bored me after a while...  Again, this is just me, not everyone else.   As I've said before, "options for all!"

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Not me. A 5E that lacks tactical depth and richness = do not want.
...whatever
Tactical play is necessary for me.

Who you are and what you can do are equally important. I feel 4E really shone a spotlight on what you can do - and it's not something I'd like to give up.

Round by round, turn by turn, there was something fun or interesting or cool I could decide to do.

Monsters and PCs. Combat was functional (as it is in Next) AND dynamic (which it currently isn't in Next).
Who you are and what you can do are equally important. I feel 4E really shone a spotlight on what you can do - and it's not something I'd like to give up. Round by round, turn by turn, there was something fun or interesting or cool I could decide to do.



I agree in general terms, but I wonder if that is necessarily tactical.  Is it possible to have a varied selection of abilities that represent who you are and what you can do (without relying on DM fiat) without having elaborate interlocking mechanics and resources and strategy and tactics?

No doubt, they can go hand in hand, but must they?

The question I'm raising, I suppose, is do 4e fans really want tactical depth and richness, or do they actually want fair and balanced mechanical characterization and merely associate that with tactical depth?

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
So what does tactical mean - I generally take it to mean significant choices ( differentiated from strategic - often short term rather than long term or resource related) which impact the outcome of conflicts via player skill.

Shrug... the question needs some clarity
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

It wasn't the tactical aspect of 4th ed that caused me to go no thanks and that part of 4th ed was kind of fun.

 The class/role/power structure and diced beef part of 4th ed was the problem and the grinding nature of the combat system.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 Fear is the Mind Killer  

If 'Tactical Module' refers to grid support I'm not fussed abou it. We are actually playing 4E without the grid using a proximity zones system modelled from 13th Age (and WHFRPG).
If otherwise this means allowing for meaningful tactical choices during combat, teamwork and synergies then yes, it's a must have - I can't go back to 'wack this, nuke that'.
Unfortunately I tend to be pessimistic this can be added in as a module if the system is not built from the ground up for it.
I have no idea what a "tactical module" would even be at this point.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
The parts of 4E that I enjoyed - the balance and meaningful powers/resources for all, and even some of the role features if they hadn't been quite so hardcoded - are not the parts that relied on tactical gameplay or the grid.

The metagame is not the game.


If otherwise this means allowing for meaningful tactical choices during combat, teamwork and synergies then yes, it's a must have.
Unfortunately I tend to be pessimistic this can be added in as a module if the system is not built from the ground up for it. 



All this with a double heaping
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I dunno. I've played 4e pretty steadily since it came out and I don't think it's a dealbreaker. I also think there's a difference between "tactical" support and "Mapbaord" support. I would like some nice rules for minis, but the deep, rulebound tactical fight rules make it more like a War Game (like warhammer). If you want to play your RPG like that, go for it. Some battles, like large scale battles, need rules like that to make them function. But when it takes my players an hour to take down 5 lizardfolk, I think it's a bit much. Now I know a lot of that is the math of the system, but the massive amount of rules isn't innocent.

In the end I think I'd prefer the PHB to come with some good rules for mapboard play, and release an entire 200 page hardback book on tactical combat for those who want it. That way they don't have to skimp on the rules and it doesn't feel tacked on.
My two copper.
See what I meant about needing a defintion for tactical....

  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

The definition of "tactical" is a matter for debate.

Some people insist tactical means pull/push/slide, area bursts, complicated movements.

That's not the heart of what tactical really means though.  What it really means are that the environment around you matters, the choices you make matter, the choices your allies make matter.  You could describe combat in a non-tactical aspect with simple text:  A attacks B, hits, X damage.  B moves to engage C, misses.

A tactical combat would be A attacking B with an ability that causes an effect in addition to damage, from this direction, such that the pillar over there plays a role in the result.  B then repositions so that he and D get a bonus against C.

How specific abilities are structured are largely irrelevant.  They can take many forms, do many things, or not do them.  But the overall system has to have the result that a party that knows what it's doing, that pays attention to the enemies and their surroundings, performs far better than one that doesn't stop to think.  That's what tactical combat means.  To use another game as an analogy, the reason three Marines can beat two Zealots in Starcraft 2 is because it includes tactical combat.  Without tactical combat, all three marines die before they even get through the zealots' shields.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
We play on the grid. It's fundamental to our game.

One guy has about 2,000 minis. I have 3d maps, tactical maps, edifices, environments, etc.

So we WILL be playing on the grid.

Garthanos' definition of tactical is spot-on. We need meaningful short-term decisions, combos, synergy. If they can deliver that, I will make it snap-to-grid.

But there's got to be the dynamic fun factor every choice point.
Mand12, you had me at the Starcraft reference. 


Seriously though, that helps.  That's something to go off of, at least.

So, yes, if that's what "tactical" means, then yes, I really probably wouldn't purchase 5e until it had a means to support that.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
So what does tactical mean - I generally take it to mean significant choices ( differentiated from strategic - often short term rather than long term or resource related) which impact the outcome of conflicts via player skill.

Shrug... the question needs some clarity



Fair enough!

I've tried writing this a couple of times and I keep deleting it, so I should probably admit that I myself must not be all that clear of the distinction.  What I'm trying to get at (I think...) is what I liked about 4e was my guy (be they fighter or wizard or avenger or whatever) had a bunch of "cool moves" I could do that expressed who my character was (at least in the context of combat), and I chose what moves I did because that's what I saw my character doing in my head.

I didn't choose which powers I used round by round on some tactical consideration on what is best (for myself or the party), partly because I felt the overall balance of 4e made such distinctions superfluous.  I didn't have to worry about being ineffective because things more or less ticked along, and I could concentrate on telling a good story, using my character and his powers as some of my "tools" in my narrative "toolkit".

Does that make sense?  I'll admit, it only half expresses what I'm trying to say (and if I knew how to express the other half with more than a guttural grunt and a shrug, then I would), but it gets kinda sorta to my point.

Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
So what does tactical mean - I generally take it to mean significant choices ( differentiated from strategic - often short term rather than long term or resource related) which impact the outcome of conflicts via player skill.

Shrug... the question needs some clarity



Fair enough!

I've tried writing this a couple of times and I keep deleting it, so I should probably admit that I myself must not be all that clear of the distinction.  What I'm trying to get at (I think...) is what I liked about 4e was my guy (be they fighter or wizard or avenger or whatever) had a bunch of "cool moves" I could do that expressed who my character was (at least in the context of combat), and I chose what moves I did because that's what I saw my character doing in my head.

I didn't choose which powers I used round by round on some tactical consideration on what is best (for myself or the party), partly because I felt the overall balance of 4e made such distinctions superfluous.  I didn't have to worry about being ineffective because things more or less ticked along, and I could concentrate on telling a good story, using my character and his powers as some of my "tools" in my narrative "toolkit".

Does that make sense?  I'll admit, it only half expresses what I'm trying to say (and if I knew how to express the other half with more than a guttural grunt and a shrug, then I would), but it gets kinda sorta to my point.



It makes perfect sense, and what you describe is as important to me as tactical considerations. I want both though.
...whatever

Does that make sense?  I'll admit, it only half expresses what I'm trying to say (and if I knew how to express the other half with more than a guttural grunt and a shrug, then I would), but it gets kinda sorta to my point.




I can relate to this. Put in another way, in 4E when there is a combat we know it is not just about dice rolling. We can revisit it figuring out what we did well and what we screwed up. In a way it feels substantial and believable.
Also Tactical means that the action/consequence/failure/success is weighter ALOT more toward decisions/tactics/planning/teamwork than RNG.
No.

My favorite parts is how easy it is to customize.

Turning an orc warrior into an elf takes ~10 seconds.

You can look at the power list for a class and judge what an attack of such and such parameters is.

Making a PC race is quick.

Tactics? Pfft.

LESS TIME MATH MORE TIME STORY!

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!

Also Tactical means that the action/consequence/failure/success is weighter ALOT more toward decisions/tactics/planning/teamwork than RNG.



This is 100% true. It's the difference between Twilight Emperium and Monopoly :P
My two copper.
'm simply wondering if there are others like me out there who like 4e but for whom the tactical richness was simply an aspect of the game to be neither liked nor disliked, but simply accepted as "part of the game".

I'm with you on this one, Fox.  My friends and I love 4E, but we never say, "Man, I can't wait to play...the tactical nature of the fights is just so thrilling!"

For what it's worth, I feel that 5E is doing an equally horrific job of delivering both tactical depth and cool, evocative powers.
...whatever
For what it's worth, I feel that 5E is doing an equally horrific job of delivering both tactical depth and cool, evocative powers.


That's because you can't have tactical depth until you've figured out the tactical shallows.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
To use another game as an analogy, the reason three Marines can beat two Zealots in Starcraft 2 is because it includes tactical combat.  Without tactical combat, all three marines die before they even get through the zealots' shields.



Damn stutter-stepping stimpaking imba-shouting terrans....

Sorry I couldn't resist.
Tactical play is necessary for me. Who you are and what you can do are equally important. I feel 4E really shone a spotlight on what you can do - and it's not something I'd like to give up. Round by round, turn by turn, there was something fun or interesting or cool I could decide to do. Monsters and PCs. Combat was functional (as it is in Next) AND dynamic (which it currently isn't in Next).



I think dynamic is the keyword. Tactical is kind of open ended, but dynamic really hits it home with me. Lots of interesting things to do every round and narrative control.
To use another game as an analogy, the reason three Marines can beat two Zealots in Starcraft 2 is because it includes tactical combat.  Without tactical combat, all three marines die before they even get through the zealots' shields.



Damn stutter-stepping stimpaking imba-shouting terrans....

Sorry I couldn't resist.



I remember the first time I got tank cliffed. I wanted to punch my monitor.
My two copper.
I really can't whine too much, I enjoy using really cheesy protoss tactics. No cannon rushing though. Even I have standards. But offensive ff on ramps combined with storms, super hard early 4gate pressure, all fun stuff. Anyway. I suppose I should probably contribute something of value to the thread.

Well, I feel like I should start by talking about the parts of 4e that I thought were really cool and why. See, 4e fixed several problems that 3e had. One of the most enjoyable changes I found that they made, was to the races. I was particularly happy with how they differentiated the elves and the eladrin. I also really liked the dwarves.

Now, granted, I didn't put much time into the actual combat in 4e, so my analysis may be somewhat lacking. I will say I enjoyed the unique interplay the abilities had, that was kind of cool. But it didn't light my fire like some of the other things in 4e did. That might just be because I did a lot of the same stuff in 3e though.
I think dynamic is the keyword. Tactical is kind of open ended, but dynamic really hits it home with me. Lots of interesting things to do every round and narrative control.


That works.  Not the same thing that others are talking about (I think?  Honestly, I still don't know), but a noble goal nonetheless.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
Tactical play is necessary for me. Who you are and what you can do are equally important. I feel 4E really shone a spotlight on what you can do - and it's not something I'd like to give up. Round by round, turn by turn, there was something fun or interesting or cool I could decide to do. Monsters and PCs. Combat was functional (as it is in Next) AND dynamic (which it currently isn't in Next).



I think dynamic is the keyword. Tactical is kind of open ended, but dynamic really hits it home with me. Lots of interesting things to do every round and narrative control.



Are you trying to say that 4e was dynamic? Or you just want that in general?
My two copper.
I think dynamic is the keyword. Tactical is kind of open ended, but dynamic really hits it home with me. Lots of interesting things to do every round and narrative control.


That works.  Not the same thing that others are talking about (I think?  Honestly, I still don't know), but a noble goal nonetheless.



I just saw the word dynamic and thought it struck me better than tactical. Tactical can mean a lot of things. I don't like 4e because it is "tactical", though. I like 4e as a whole because of the goals it accomplished. Mainly balance and dynamic options for people other than casters.

Martials being nothing more than at-will spammers again isn't going to cut it with me. They need to have some big guns stored in reserve to pull out in dire moments. Whether that be done with encounter powers, fatigue points, or whatever isn't important. It's just the dynamic options that are important. 

I don't think a tactical rules module alone is going to fix what a lot of 4e fans are seeing as major issues in the system. For me, at least, I still care about class balance, ease of DM'ing (which I think DDN is utterly failing at), the idea behind skill challenges (implementation was poor initially, but there are a lot of awesome custom ways of doing it floating around), encounter powers (reserves mentioned earlier), etc. 4e also allows for extreme flexibility in campaign design (another awesome DM feature) by not requiring certain game elements (someone always having to play the cleric).

All of these are important. They don't have to be carbon copies from 4e, and I wouldn't want them to be. I want DDN to be something new, fresh, and innovative. I'm just not seeing any of that. Even if they released a tactical module that had great tactical rules, it is still sorely lacking in other areas.
Sorry. I'm typing faster than I'm thinking, so I may have rambled. It's just frustration at what seems to be an utter failure to grasp why 4e fans love 4e so much on the designer's end. 
So what does tactical mean - the question needs some clarity



I agree.  To me it has come to mean a birds eye view of a combat based on a grid with players taking an agonisingly long time to find the optimal move.

On the whole I prefer the more cinematic pre-3e DnD combat.  I really do not know how they could add tactical richness without ruining the whole game.

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What I'm trying to get at (I think...) is what I liked about 4e was my guy (be they fighter or wizard or avenger or whatever) had a bunch of "cool moves" I could do that expressed who my character was (at least in the context of combat), and I chose what moves I did because that's what I saw my character doing in my head.

I didn't choose which powers I used round by round on some tactical consideration on what is best (for myself or the party), partly because I felt the overall balance of 4e made such distinctions superfluous.  I didn't have to worry about being ineffective because things more or less ticked along, and I could concentrate on telling a good story, using my character and his powers as some of my "tools" in my narrative "toolkit".

Does that make sense?  I'll admit, it only half expresses what I'm trying to say (and if I knew how to express the other half with more than a guttural grunt and a shrug, then I would), but it gets kinda sorta to my point.



I'm pretty tactically minded myself, but one of the reasons I like the tactical nature of 4e is that I can sometimes chose to intentionally take the less advantageous option because it is more suited to the character's personality and/or frame of mind. When I do so, I'm perfectly happy to accept the consequences (even if it ends in PC death).
The system has enough leeway that it usually doesn't come down to life or death, but it is tactical enough that it can (and when it doesn't you still can often feel the difference in difficulty in some way, such as the fight grinding longer, or losing more HS, etc.)

In other words, one of the reasons I like that it lets me play smart is so I can contrast that with occasionally playing stupid.  
I am with you Foxface. As much as i like 4E, tactical combat need support from the system to be and i feel that its many of those components put togheter that makes 4E combat this slow. Theres just so many things going on and effects that require tracking... this all the time, from skirmishes to bigger set pieces.

If in order to keep D&D Next combat on the fast lane it means cutting a bit in the tactical depth, i am okay with that.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

What I liked with the square based moves is that it stopped the 5 feet madness for us metric system users.

The grid was already unavoidable in older editions when we were fighting these crazy ousiders with lot of spell(-like) abilites including teleportations and summoning of outsiders with their own list of abilities.

4th edition streamlined these situation but used "square" as a term which could be seen as an obligation to use a grid even for simple combats, which wasn't the case as a square was still a thing with 5 feet in it.
I think that a simple new unit like a "step" or a "yard" would have helped to not feel this obligation to use a grid every time.

For me, tactical combat has always been very present in D&D.
When players were using bull rushes, a lightning bolt to play with the rebound, a fireball in narrow areas (fireball was considered a volume of magic fire not automatically limited to it area of effect if constrained), this was tactical play needing a "grid". Even more when the goal was to set a situation for another player, which was almost always the case with bull rush.

A tactical module will just be a tool to streamline what we have always done in any edition of D&D. Handling complex situations when handwaving stops to be constructive and forces the DM to abandon further complication in the fight, even when the monster stil have more tricks to use.

Otherwise, I agree that 4th edition used too much tactical aspects related to positions.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

The group of people I play with can go without any combat for 3-4 sessions. And we do. But after that we really long for grid combat with lots of choices to make. Shifting, Pulling, Pushing, Knocking Prone, Front Line, Back Line, when to heal, great use of existing terrain or modifying it through the use of spells, items, maneuvers or spontaneous ideas, small skill challenges within combats that matter and especially narrating all of it in a way that brings out the character nicely. That is what 4E can deliver for us and DnDNext cannot at all at the moment. We want and can put the ton of miniatures we have and the WorldWorks Terrain to good use in 4E. We tell a story through combat as well, not just social interaction with NPCs or exploration.
So yes, the group I play with definetely needs that "Tactical Module" to like Next.
Maybe its just me but I thought the aspect that made 4e slow wasn't the dynamic tactics but a design that purposely engineered the combat to as long sciences where everyone is designed to get multiple turns unless focus fire and nova were used.

I think full on tactics would go fast if the desire to tone down aggressive attacks is removed and attacks and debuffs were allowed to be crippling.

The choices worked. It was the slow and dragging results that must be avoided.

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!

The choices worked. It was the slow and dragging results that must be avoided.


I agree, honestly.  If you change some of the basic framework (damage:hit point ratios) and presumptions (X-number of actions per player per combat), I don't think the other aspects of 4e's "tactical play" are nearly as slow as folks tend to see them.
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)
I have no idea what a "tactical module" would even be at this point.


Probably adding charge and flanking into the game and provide the minor rules for using a grid (just in case someone can't figure out to let each square = 5ft.)