First Session from a rabid 4e Fan

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Hi All,

As it says in the title I'm a huge fan of 4e. I've been meaning to give the playtest a full try (my wife and I played briefly but it's not the same without a full group) but it's amazing how hard it is to get six adults in the same room for a few hours.

Anyway, we finally got the gang together this past weekend and I wanted to share my thoughts. First of all I should say that I was a little leery. When my wife and I played, we found most of the classes a bit boring. The game went fast but it didn't grab us, although we thought that might be because we were just playing with the two of us. My other issue, was that the classes felt a bit boring. Say what you will about 4e when I read the class description of nearly every class I'm overcome with a very powerful "I want to play this" urge. This is true even for classes I've found boring. 5e seemed like a step back. Even with the expertise dice it felt like it wasn't tactical enough or exciting enough to make me want to play.

Well, what a difference a group makes (or maybe it was just the latest round of changes). We played and we had a blast. We mostly used the pre-gens (one guy built his own Dwarf Cleric and the other wanted to play a Monk). I want to say I liked a lot about the game, and downright loved a lot of other parts. Here's my breakdown:

What I loved

The Game speed: This is hands down the best part of 5e. In barely a few hours of play we were able to complete half a dozen combats, go through an entire adventure and even have tons of roleplay and story time. It was amazing how much we accomplished. I still love 4e, even if the battles take a while, but I have to admit it was nice being able to get so much done. For an overworked bunch of adults with no time to play this was a god send.

Monster stat blocks: I am so glad to see this return from 4e. I wouldn't have been able to play if this game was using 3e stat blocks (4e has just spoiled me). I need everything laid out clean and this delivered. I was a little confused because there's no place for initiative bonus but then I remembered everthing keyed off of attributes (dex in this case) and that solved it. Every monster was clear and easy to use. Awesome job.

What I liked

The simplicity: I really liked how simple the overall rules were and how simple each class was to play. Most of the people I play with are somewhat new to gaming and having clear, easy to understand rules was vital. Even so they got confused about Hit Points vs. Hit Dice, and couldn't seem to grasp the finer points on the expertise dice (although they used them just fine, they just had to be walked through it each time).

The simplicity of the rules also encouraged something that honestly didn't happen too much in 4e and that's tactical stunts. The wizard blasted the floor with Ray of Frost creating a slip and slide that led the charging kobolds right into the pit trap, the monk and rogue (who were scouting ahead) knocked the rest off with a rope tripwire, and the fighter knocked the goblins thrown glue bomb out of the air with a readied throwing axe. I think that happened because people felt comfortable enough with the basics that they could think outside of the box a little.

The feel of the classes: Each class does a pretty good job of feeling like what I think it's supposed to feel like. I miss the powers from 4e (especially with the monk) but honestly the expertise dice go along way towards closing that gap.

Advantage/disadvantage: I think it might be close to universal but I'm with everyone else, this is a great mechanic. My players got it right away and it was easy to use in battle. Really great.

What I didn't like

There isnt' much I didn't like. I guess if I had to pick something it would be that Deadly Strike vs. Sneak Attack favored Deadly Strike a bit too much and the monsters might have gone down a bit too easy (they all felt like 4e minions). Maybe my feeling on those would change as we played but that's how I feel so far.

Thanks.
Glad you had fun! I like hearing that D&DN can be a good time for hardcore 4e fans. I hope you can get people together to try out the new playtest.
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
Awesome input!  I was just talking to a friend about whether or not 4E players might find this "old school" approach to be too simplistic, lacking tactical depth, and that feeling of significant power that comes with 4th.  It's good to hear that at least one hardcore 4E group is enjoying what 5E has to offer in this early rendition.
Although 5e is a good game I just don't think it will get much better than 4e. I say this because the complexity is what made me like d&d so much in the first place, yes it may take a little while to learn and a lot longer to master (I'm not sure it's humanly possible to remember all of the rules in your head exactly as they are in the book) but that's half of the fun when you have to scramble your memory trying to remember a rule and, more often than I'd like to admit, improvising the rule with a check of some sort. It makes my life a lot easier if I don't have to remember what category something falls under along with what it is. I'm not a hater of 5e like many of the other people who criticize it, I just think that d&d is fine the way it is and is in no need of repair. And if it's the criticism of 4e some people have that Wotc is trying to avoid by goingbackbone to the simpler days of d&d, they need toface facts it has always been criticized every time there is a new edition of the game so they shouldn't feel they need to ditch told current version. Another problem (that ends up as a gain for them, and most likely the main reason they even make new editions) is that all the stuff is expensive, but people will buy the new editions anyway because tools like character builder and monster builder on there website will be updated along with the sales of 5e, and all d&d 4e players know that those two tools make life with d&d a lot easier.
 
Well I've had two more playing sessions now (including one played on New Year's Eve - yes, I'm that much of a nerd). I'm happy to report that 5e is still holding up and in fact everyone of my players has loved it (including everything from another rabid 4e fan, a guy who loved 3e and earlier editions, a guy who played, and loved, all editions of D&D, and about five newbies who never played before).

When I brought in the old grognards I thought for sure that they would hate the bounded accuracy system but they really liked it a lot. They were big into power gaming and I thought for sure that having a cap on their AC and attack bonus would turn them off but instead they liked how every +1 really made them better at hitting every monster across the board. They said they felt more powerful, which was not an outcome I expected but I'm glad they liked it.

With out last two sessions I cycled through more players than I could keep track off. Two of our people we had for the first session couldn't make it to the second, the two who couldn't make it to the first game dropped in, one who I thought wasn't going to be there came in for the last half of the second session, and we dropped one player and added two more for the final session (oh and one player changed  her character because she wanted to play a wizard). All of this bringing in new players has made me a expert on 5e character creation (at least until they change it).

Here's what worked:

Character Creation: Churning out new PCs like that really made me appreciate how fast and easy character creation is in 5e. Really liked it.

Everything I already mentioned: Still liked everything above. All working.

What I didn't like

Characters are a bit tougher in this packet than in the last. My PCs took down Ogres, Wights, and dozens of Hobgoblins and Goblins all without hurting that much. It's better than 4e, in that they actually took damage and were getting hurt but it still felt a bit much for only being 2nd level. The only battle they had difficulty with was the last against the Dark Priest and dozens of zombies and skeletons (and another Wight I threw it to see what would happen). In that battle two PCs dropped and it was nearly a TPK until the wizard and the fighter managed to pull off an upset.

Look, I was probably going easy on them (although I didn't fudge a single dice), and I was rolling really badly those sessions while the players were rolling great (one of my newbies rolled an attack with advantage and got two nat 20's, a first in my experience) and I don't want them to fail, it just felt a little easy that's all. It was perfect for the packet because they had fun and they won in the end (and that's what it's all about especially when you're trying to convince newbies to stick with the game) but for an ongoing campaign, I don't know. I think I would want it to be a little harder. Not sure how to fix that but that's the only issue I had. Everything else was spot on.
I agree with you about the level of difficulty. I've been telling myself that the first five levels must be easier than all those that follow so as to avoid alienating potential players. Though since this most recent packet I've been wondering how that's going to change. I like the idea of AC/Attack numbers capping so that the larger creatures get, the more challenging it feels to the players without being completely insurmountable. 

I think part of the issue when it comes to damage over a long period of time and the idea of an adventure weighing down on the party comes from the ease of healing. When a character goes down, the players feel less threatened, more imposed upon. By knocking one of them out I've given them the chore of reviving a team mate instead of crippling them and bringing a significant threat to the table. 
I like Heal from Zero, but there should be more challenge in waking a team mate up on the Cleric's action. 
Toronto Dungeon Master
I think you're on to something Redvers. It's a bit too easy to bounce back from combat right now. Id like to test out the optional healing rules and see if that solves the problem but I really think healing from zero might be the underlying cause. Maybe I'll try the mod you suggested in another thread and see would affect that has.