Combat down time in 4e

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Hello
I am in a 4e campagin and our group is nearly epic tier.  The combats can take an entire session and players are becoming less engaged because there is so much down time between turns.  I am trying to brain storm ideas to keep players focused on the game instead of playing on computers or phones.  The ideas should relate to the game though not necessarily to the immediate combat and they should not distract the DM from the combat.  Any ideas?
This is more a GM thing, but here's some suggestions for him.

You can start by having your players think about what they want to do before their turn is up.  Then put a time limit on how long they can wait till they get passed by(they can go when they are ready).

How many rounds is a fight taking?
You can reduce hp of monsters and increase their damage, there's several threads to look at in the dm forum about it.

Combat could be made to have a goal other than the monsters dying.  Like a timelimit, or stopping a task from being accomplished.

You could take away phones and computers.  In fact, that should be the first thing anyways.

You could add more flavor by giving the monsters personality.
How long are your sessions? The first game I was ever part of had this kind of problem. Despite our average session being about 3 hours we only got a couple combats in around a half hour or so of more RP focused content. The issue was that two out of the seven of us were brand new to the game, including the DM. The higher up you get the more complicated the powers, are the players just having a hard time picking and choosing their attackes?

If this is not the case, the only other reason I can really think of is too many combatants. I'm a big fan of minions, but the group I am DMing for right now has three players that can target at least two baddies each turn so even with 15 or so targets they still mow through them pretty quick. If your group doesn't have much going for AoE or multi-target attacks, a swarm of minions can still take forever to deal with.

Anything and everything else that could be causing this, at least from what comes to mind right now, would boil down to the players not being that interested to begin with.

For example, my girlfriend joined in on my current game and is brand new to D&D. She has read Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and I just got her started on Wheel of Time, that is the sum total of her experience with anything in a fantasy setting. (I refuse to count Twilight.) Because a lot of the jokes and references go over her head at this point she spends some of her downtime just paying attention to the more experienced players, picking up on the punchlines and studying their tactics. I'm pretty proud of her for that because I know it is tempting for her to play a game on her iPhone instead sometimes. And As it turns out, her turn is usually one of the quickest because she keeps her attention on the game so she already has an idea of what she is going to be doing.

Overall though, she is shy because of her inexperience and pretty quiet. To help her out, I try to custom fit something to spotlight her character in each session. For the record, I try to do the same for all of my players. If players don't feel their character is special in some way then it is easy for them to get distracted because anyone can just swing a sword.

Also, depends on the group as some take their games more seriously than others, but we run a pretty all about the lolz kind of game at my table. Combat is fluid and constantly going on around you even if it is not your turn. Crack some jokes, look for openings to squeeze in a one liner, give the crit fail rolls a good natured hard time, strike up a friendly rivalry and talk some smack to another player about who is going to get the most kills Legolas and Gimli style. Just because it isn't your turn doesn't mean you have to just sit there until it gets back around for you to deal out some damage.
What are players (and the DM) spending their time doing on their turns? My guess would be "trying to choose the optimal power for the situation." I would also guess that despite optimization by the DM, the optimization by the players allows thems to wipe the floor with the monsters. If this is the case, I recommend you point out to the players that they could achieve the same result (victory) in much less time if they simply didn't worry as much about their choices. The same goes for the DM: your monsters will meet the same fate whether you worry about using all of their powers and keeping track of their auras or not, and every moment you spend seeing if they have something better than their basic attack has a very good chance of being a wasted moment. Use simpler monsters for a while.

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

Optimization isn't the thing to blame here, people who know enough about the system to optimize are typically the same ones that know how to use the things they took. In fact optimization is NEVER to blame for combats taking TOO LONG.

I'd bet they are most likely suffering from decision paralysis, too many options and not enough understanding to put the pieces together quickly. I might suggest an Essentials game, since the essentials model is easier for players that freeze under options (every single attack is an mba and if it hits, then they can figure out which trigger to add).
 
Optimization isn't the thing to blame here, people who know enough about the system to optimize are typically the same ones that know how to use the things they took.

It doesn't take that much knowledge to optimize. There are threads about it that just tell you which options to take. They also go into how to use those options, but if it's not something someone has internalized it won't come naturally to them.

In fact optimization is NEVER to blame for combats taking TOO LONG.

It frequently is. Optimization isn't just about using the right options, but it's also about when to use them, to maximize resources. A perfectly optimized character that blows four area-effect dailies and an action point on a single standard monster might as well not be optimized. So players spend minutes at a time figuring out the exact best target, which involves finding the exact best (and safest) place to stand, which involves knowing what everyone else plans to do, etc. Essentials doesn't even help with this sort of thing, because there's still the matter of optimal resource use in the form of hit points and surges.

Sometimes it's glaringly obvious when optimization is at overkill levels. Ideally, a DM will find a way to end an encounter before that point, before everyone is trying to get every last bonus they can so they can use an at-will to kill every last locked-down, pathetic, standard monster on the map.

Other time's it's less obvious, of course, but it should be possible in most cases to figure out when a battle is not worth anyone's time to play out to the bitter end. Players who suspect or know this to be the case should point this out to their DMs.

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

Yes it's true and i agree with you that slow players are slow.
And that is worsened if they basically copied an Op build and have no idea how to play it. 
But that isn't a case where OP ruins a game, it's a case where the player is overextending his own abilities and slowing the game down. The same thing happens when you get a player who never played past level 6 and have him make a level 14 character. Op is hardly to blame.

But a "perfectly optimized" character that can string togehter 4 aoe attacks but doesn't have a solid single target attack isn't optimized.

An optimized epic level striker can blast a solo to death in one hit - i've seen builds that can kill a (level 34 solo) god before the god even takes it's first turn it may take the player 30 minutes to take his turn in order to do 1500 points of damage, but it still only takes 1-2 seconds in game time.
I have no idea how you expect a DM to end a combat before then, cuz that's about as fast as it gets. 


Your argument is Strawman at it's finest.
Yes it's true and i agree with you that slow players are slow.

Why are they slow?

And that is worsened if they basically copied an Op build and have no idea how to play it.
But that isn't a case where OP ruins a game, it's a case where the player is overextending his own abilities and slowing the game down. The same thing happens when you get a player who never played past level 6 and have him make a level 14 character. Op is hardly to blame.

Why is the player choosing to play an optimized character? One answer is that the game doesn't tend to offer interesting ways to fail, so there's no reason or excuse not to be completely optimized. Players who do anything less are complained about here as troublemakers, because they get other characters killed, because the game doesn't have any other way for characters to fail.

But a "perfectly optimized" character that can string togehter 4 aoe attacks but doesn't have a solid single target attack isn't optimized.

That's what I'm saying. So, in order to optimize, players will spend inordinate amounts of time trying to squeeze every possible advantage out of their powers and positions, even when nothing near that level of effort is required.

I have no idea how you expect a DM to end a combat before then, cuz that's about as fast as it gets.

I expect a DM to end a combat when continuing it would be a waste of everyone's time. That point is easy to see, because it's the point at which most people aren't having fun with it, generally because there are no interesting questions to answer. The cool powers have been used, most of the monsters are dead, the party isn't going to use many more of their daily resources, the monsters are completely locked down, etc. If just a few of those conditions are in place, end the encounter. This point can still take a while to reach if everyone is slow, but that's all the more reason to end the encounter when this point is reached.

So, as this is the player advice forum, my advice is for the player to take his turns quickly and not worry about making the "best" move. When others see that encounters can still be won handily even with non-optimal play (which they almost certainly can be at Epic tier) there's a chance they might start making faster moves too.

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

I have no idea how you expect a DM to end a combat before then, cuz that's about as fast as it gets.

I expect a DM to end a combat when continuing it would be a waste of everyone's time. That point is easy to see, because it's the point at which most people aren't having fun with it, generally because there are no interesting questions to answer. The cool powers have been used, most of the monsters are dead, the party isn't going to use many more of their daily resources, the monsters are completely locked down, etc. If just a few of those conditions are in place, end the encounter. This point can still take a while to reach if everyone is slow, but that's all the more reason to end the encounter when this point is reached.



To reiterate, if every combat takes a single player's initiative before ending, how can combat possible be any quicker? Did you read all of my post?
Let me say it again, maybe you'll read it this time.

 
An optimized epic level striker can blast a solo to death in one hit - i've seen builds that can kill a (level 34 solo) god before the god even takes it's first turn it may take the player 30 minutes to take his turn in order to do 1500 points of damage, but it still only takes 1-2 seconds in game time.
I have no idea how you expect a DM to end a combat before then, cuz that's about as fast as it gets.


 
To reiterate, if every combat takes a single player's initiative before ending, how can combat possible be any quicker? Did you read all of my post?
Let me say it again, maybe you'll read it this time.

Everything before that smiley negates the smiley. If you don't mean what you say, then just don't say it.

An optimized epic level striker can blast a solo to death in one hit - i've seen builds that can kill a (level 34 solo) god before the god even takes it's first turn it may take the player 30 minutes to take his turn in order to do 1500 points of damage, but it still only takes 1-2 seconds in game time.
I have no idea how you expect a DM to end a combat before then, cuz that's about as fast as it gets.


That's not really any better than an under-optimized group. The point isn't to end combats as fast as possible.

Anyway, the players here clearly aren't ending combat in one round. If optimization is the issue, as I suspect it is at least in part, it's more to do with players trying to optimize their turns and their moves, to get everything they can out of their actions and risk as little as possible, even when the risk is minimal to begin with. Because taking risks in D&D, even minimal ones, is generally not rewarded.

Obviously, I don't know if that's the case until the original poster chimes back in. If not, great, because then there's more of a chance of dealing with whatever the problem is.

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

Anyway, the players here clearly aren't ending combat in one round. If optimization is the issue, as I suspect it is at least in part, it's more to do with players trying to optimize their turns and their moves, to get everything they can out of their actions and risk as little as possible, even when the risk is minimal to begin with. Because taking risks in D&D, even minimal ones, is generally not rewarded.



I see this an awful lot in games. I consider it a failure on my part to end the day with surges and dailies. That's currency I'll happily pay out to do cool stuff.

I watch people do stuff like debate whether and how to avoid OA's from a minion or something and just can't believe it sometimes.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I'm personally really guilty of this... but I realize from a DM side it takes up too much time.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/8.jpg)

I use a small hourglass I got out of another board game; I think we timed it at 1.20secondes to run out once flipped.


I usually give the player half a minute or so to declare an attack; if they haven’t within that time I flip the old hourglass and inform them if an action hasn’t been declared by time it empties their action is put “on hold” till they can think of something, then move on to the next player.


Now I will admit I am not the hugest fan of this, just because I don’t like to put people under more pressure then I have to; but after one or two games with a new table I was semi-forced to, because each player was taking 3 to 4 minutes to look over all their powers and decide on the best tactics to use.


I also use it for some RPing situations when it wouldn’t make sense to allow the characters a ton of dialogue (ex. There is a giant boulder rolling down toward you, which way do you jump?)


It has made our combat considerably faster; but on the downside most players are not engaged when it is not their turn, because they are using that time to prepare for their turn; which means they sometimes miss things and semi-destroys RP during combat (though a few players have shined out)


Also; this would never work with an inexperienced party and I would highly discourage it if that’s your table, you don’t want your players choosing random powers at random targets because they are too stressed by the hourglass. The tables I use it at where mostly experienced players so I knew that they knew all their powers by heart.


Anywhom that’s my solution, as tarnished as it is.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/1.jpg)

Combat taking too long is a symptom of a problem. What's the actual problem? (Something others have touched on above, but I haven't seen worded the way I said it. Sometimes re-wording it is the key to understanding)

Do you have too many players? A long initiative list means combat encounters will always take a long time. You/the DM need to find ways to mitigate this. We roll attack and damage dice at the same time to negate the time it takes to decide "okay, I hit it, now I roll this"

Are you keeping time on people's turns? If you've ever read the children's book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie..." you'll know what I mean. If you give them a minute, they'll take half an hour. Give them all the time in the world, and they will use it. But if you put a timer in front of them and tell them that if they don't make a decision in under 90 seconds, they delay their turn, they'll make a decision. (Works best to have another player keeping track of initiative. I'm lazy, so I delegate)

Are they inexperienced and overwhelmed? I had a player during our first session who turned to her boyfriend every time it got to her turn. Her turns became lengthy explanations from her boyfriend before she was able to decide, or convinced him to do it for her.

Are players paying attention? If the DM allows them to get off topic and stop paying attention, or bores them into not paying attention, then they're not ready on their turn, the group is distracted by the conversation, and combat will take longer. It's a habit drilled into most people from elementary school that you "wait til someone is finished talking before you speak", so if the person talking is not on their turn, I find that the active player will sit, listen, and wait instead of interrupting to take their turn. Or maybe you just have a chatty player who needs to be reminded to hush while someone is taking their turn. Side conversations should not be banned, per se, but controlled because they're distracting.

One of the things I try to remind people is to think aloud. If each player is thinking out loud, and other players hear what he's thinking, planning, and trying to do, they'll be more engaged, more interested in helping the active player, and better able to strategize before their turn without putting their head in their cards. Downtime between your own turns shouldn't be "quiet time for me while you do your thing", it should be everyone engaging in the game and thinking about it together. I don't see how anyone could think there was time to play a game on their iPhone, or check Facebook, even in a large group. 
We've run into the same problem in Paragon.
More complex abilites, more powers, monsters that break the standard rules...etc.
It's either is a cake-walk, or takes a long, long time. A challenging encounter takes far too long and is a drawback of the current mechanics.

Here are a few homerules that will speed up your game:
(1) Second Winds that are standard actions are minor actions instead and Second Wind powers that are normally Minor Actions become Free Actions (rarley does a player want to give up their Standard Action to attack to take a Second Wind. It does not make for a fun gaming experience when you have to "skip" your turn.)

(2) Action Points are an Encounter: Free Action powers available once per encounter except the first. (That way people don't horde their APs.)

(3) Roll 2d10 instead of a d20 for attacks. The 2d10 will also let you know how much damage you do on the same roll: 2-10 = minimum damage, 11-15 = mean (of max and min), 16-20 = max damage (19-20 = crit)
Example: Krog swings his axe at the Silt Worm and rolls 2d10 adds the total and gets 14. He then adds his bonuses and gets a 26 against AC which hits. Since it hits and the die roll was a 14, he does mean damage.

Those three house rules should speed up combat significantly!

Good luck! I'd love to hear what speeds up your game.

Here are a few homerules that will speed up your game:
(1) Second Winds that are standard actions are minor actions instead and Second Wind powers that are normally Minor Actions become Free Actions (rarley does a player want to give up their Standard Action to attack to take a Second Wind. It does not make for a fun gaming experience when you have to "skip" your turn.)



I really like this rule. I'm going to bring it up this weekend for my group. It's one of those "why didn't I think of that? So obvious!" things!
...and before we implemented rule #1, players would rarely use a Second Wind (a couple of times a character would even be reduced to 0 while still having their Second Wind). This also allows the leader to focus heals on the defender. Our leader's new mantra is, "Don't even think about asking for a heal unless you've already used your Second Wind."

With rule #2, our party just horded (or hoarded) action points. More often, APs were lost due to an extended rest than to encounter heroics. What this meant is that combats were taking longer than needed. Also, milestones were given irregularly (some combat encounters were too menial to get a milestone, while others should have becuase they were a solo/boss fight but out of the rotation...ugh.
With rule #2, our party just horded (or hoarded) action points. More often, APs were lost due to an extended rest than to encounter heroics. What this meant is that combats were taking longer than needed.

This sort of thing has has always bothered me immensely. Daily and other more-than-encounter resources are held onto when they should be used. Much of the dissatisfaction with combat in 4e stems from players causing incidental encounters to take too long because they hoarded resources, and important combat to become trivialized because those hoarded resources are all blown at once

I wish the game included some kind of disincentives for ending the game day with extra hit points, dailies, and action points.

Also, milestones were given irregularly (some combat encounters were too menial to get a milestone, while others should have becuase they were a solo/boss fight but out of the rotation...ugh.

I really like the ability of DMs to hand out milestones when they think they should, and speed up or slow down action point acquisition. I'd rather give players action points after every encounter (which is allowed by the rules) than change the rules about, say, healing surges.

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

I find simple transparency helps with resource management in this regard. Players hoard because of uncertainty. If the players know when they can count on milestones or whether or not an extended (or even short) rest is feasible in a given location, they can make the decisions to maximize their resource use accordingly. This doesn't require me to change the rules of the game at all and comes with a ton of additional benefits (such as good pacing and smooth play). DMs love their secrets apparently, but I don't thing mechanics should be one of them, so I'm completely transparent when it comes to that. Establish the expectations up front and then let the players do as they will.

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 | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
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Here, Have Some Free Material From Me: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Dark Sun Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Generated D&D 5e PCs

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One of my players enlightened me about a problem he's noticed in higher-level games he's played in as well as run: Games run long because of power-hoarding.

Daily powers, as his example, are meant to be dropped throughout the day, for the EXPRESS purpose of being a button that speeds up combat, since dailies are supposed to be superspecialawesome I Win buttons.

But the more experienced the player, he noted once to me, the more likely they are to burn encounter powers and default to at-wills until it was "boss monster" time, at which point, 5 dailies, plus 5 action points, plus 5 more dailies all drop on the table at once. The Big Bad has become no longer big, nor bad... But you spent forever getting there, expending more resources on the way (in the form of HP and healing surges and consumables) than you would have, if you had seeded your dailies through combat in the first place.

So, if combats are taking too long, are players drawing them out by not using their powers in a way that actually facilitates speeding up combat?


EDIT: Sulk. That's what I get for hitting "post" at the end of the first page, instead of reading the whole blasted thread. Someone already beat me to it.

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

But the more experienced the player, he noted once to me, the more likely they are to burn encounter powers and default to at-wills until it was "boss monster" time, at which point, 5 dailies, plus 5 action points, plus 5 more dailies all drop on the table at once.

Not to mention item daily powers.

The Big Bad has become no longer big, nor bad... But you spent forever getting there, expending more resources on the way (in the form of HP and healing surges and consumables) than you would have, if you had seeded your dailies through combat in the first place.

That's why I like time limits on combat, which usually entail alternate goals. The guard on the other side of the bridge is cutting through the ropes. You have 2 rounds to stop him. You'll see dailies and action points dropped to take out a tiny mook.

So, if combats are taking too long, are players drawing them out by not using their powers in a way that actually facilitates speeding up combat?

That's usually it, yes, but there's no incentive, in or out of game, not to do that. Blowing a daily just to save out of game time seems like laziness.

EDIT: Sulk. That's what I get for hitting "post" at the end of the first page, instead of reading the whole blasted thread. Someone already beat me to it.

No, I'm glad you mentioned it. It's good to know others think the same way.

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

at which point, 5 dailies, plus 5 action points, plus 5 more dailies all drop on the table at once.



iirc, only 1 Action Point may be used per encounter.


at which point, 5 dailies, plus 5 action points, plus 5 more dailies all drop on the table at once.

iirc, only 1 Action Point may be used per encounter.

Yep. One per player. Five players.

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

Gotcha...Should have realized that. I was counting in Item dailies into a character's total to get them to 5 dailies.

----

Maybe a possibility would be to only give out an AP after an encounter if the character burned 1 or more of his dailies during that encounter.
Maybe a possibility would be to only give out an AP after an encounter if the character burned 1 or more of his dailies during that encounter.

Action Point allocation is entirely up to the DM. I think it's probably possible to construct incentives for using powers that are within the rules, but it's easy for incentives to backfire. That's Freakonomics.

It's the format of combat and adventures that provides incentive not to play anything other than optimally. Some people realize that optimal play isn't necessary or and efficient use of time. Those who feel its necessary and expected also don't think it's an efficient use of time, but they feel it's a problem with the game.

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

I suggest this quite a bit, but only because I've tried it and surprisingly, it really does speed up fights.

Use 13th Age's Escalation Die mechanic.

Starting with the 2nd round, all PCs get a +1 to all d20 rolls.  On the 3rd round they get a +2, and so on, up to +6.  Use a giant d6 if you have one to set out in front of all the players so they can see that big fat untyped, stacks-with-everything bonus.

It doesn't sound like a big bonus, but I've found it tends to cut encounter time by about one round in most cases.  Also, with this mechanic, the DM has the option of arbitrarily escalating the die if things need to go faster or the PCs are kicking butt or something, or he can de-escalate it if the players are sandbagging or arguing amongst themselves, or for whatever reason.  I have only de-escalated the die once, but it's an option.

I also started using a shot clock quite a while ago, but I don't use it for all my groups.  You get 15 seconds to declare your first action.  (After that, we kinda let it slide.)  If you don't declare, you automatically Delay.  If you really need to encourage them to go faster, set up a bonus so that if the whole party takes their turn within the shotclock time, they get a +1 bonus to all d20 rolls, and make it cumulative so if they're all making their decisions quickly each round, they can rack up some impressive bonuses. 

At first certain players told me it kind of stressed them out to have to decide so quickly, but it also helped when I explained that the only reason they're getting stressed out is that they're overanalyzing things.  You don't always have to make the most optimal decision every time, all the time.  Just do something fun and everything will turn out okay.  When people started thinking that way, the game not only went faster but also got more interesting because people just DID the first fun thing they could think of - things they wouldn't normally do. 

Re: power hoarding ... try Essentials-only builds.  Not as many Dailies there, and you know, despite what the optimizers would say, E-Only builds work just fine.  Essentials took character builds in a different direction, and believe it or not, it's a good direction sometimes, especially for newer players or players who need simpler choices or fewer choices because of indecision or inexperience.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”


Re: power hoarding ... try Essentials-only builds.  Not as many Dailies there, and you know, despite what the optimizers would say, E-Only builds work just fine.  Essentials took character builds in a different direction, and believe it or not, it's a good direction sometimes, especially for newer players or players who need simpler choices or fewer choices because of indecision or inexperience.


I will vouche for that.

Essentials characters are simplier, but in no way less powerful. In fact, a properly optimized Essentials class will often hit harder than its 4e original.

They also did things like grant multiple uses of the same Encounter power rather than having lots  of different ones. This narrows down the choice paralysis in combat and speeds things up.
In essense, if you have fewer options to choose from, choosing the "best" option is much easier.

We gave Essentials a chance and I'm digging it. The combat does feel quicker too. There's a lot less fumbling through power cards this time around.
I second the advice for the escalation die, but I recommend giving it not to the players but to the monsters.

This is what I thought the escalation die was, and I was disappointed to learn that it was not. I assumed it was meant as an incentive for players to end combat quickly or to avoid it entirely. If the monsters had the escalation die, I wouldn't think any player would ever want combat to last more than 2 rounds.

The same options for hyper-escalation, hypo-escalation, and de-escalation still exist: if the players are over-analyzing or playing too safe, the DM could escalate the die even during someone's turn. If the fight is fun and engaging, the DM can neglect the escalation die, or even de-escalate.

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

Either kill all of your PC's, or start throwing Kobolds at them. I've killed a 5man group of level 20 pcs with 4 kobolds and a handful of strategically placed traps. 3 of them were crushed to death, 1 was beheaded and the other got his legs chopped off. I made sure to make the conditions in the ruins harsh enough that it was 'almost' impossible for them to detect the traps. They got 1/3 of the way through, 1 kobold killed.

Re: power hoarding ... try Essentials-only builds.  Not as many Dailies there, and you know, despite what the optimizers would say, E-Only builds work just fine.  Essentials took character builds in a different direction, and believe it or not, it's a good direction sometimes, especially for newer players or players who need simpler choices or fewer choices because of indecision or inexperience.


I will vouche for that.

Essentials characters are simplier, but in no way less powerful. In fact, a properly optimized Essentials class will often hit harder than its 4e original.

They also did things like grant multiple uses of the same Encounter power rather than having lots  of different ones. This narrows down the choice paralysis in combat and speeds things up.
In essense, if you have fewer options to choose from, choosing the "best" option is much easier.

We gave Essentials a chance and I'm digging it. The combat does feel quicker too. There's a lot less fumbling through power cards this time around.



It which point you may as well play the game of "I walk up to the monster and hit it with my MBA. Repeat until dead". Oh you're playing just with essentials, that's just what your doing. Takes all the tactical fun out of combat.

Also, if you build your characters properly, the essentials characters are at a par in low heroic to 4e originals but by mid paragon they are almost unusually poor (except the mage).


Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Re: power hoarding ... try Essentials-only builds.  Not as many Dailies there, and you know, despite what the optimizers would say, E-Only builds work just fine.  Essentials took character builds in a different direction, and believe it or not, it's a good direction sometimes, especially for newer players or players who need simpler choices or fewer choices because of indecision or inexperience.

I will vouche for that.

Essentials characters are simplier, but in no way less powerful. In fact, a properly optimized Essentials class will often hit harder than its 4e original.

They also did things like grant multiple uses of the same Encounter power rather than having lots  of different ones. This narrows down the choice paralysis in combat and speeds things up.
In essense, if you have fewer options to choose from, choosing the "best" option is much easier.

We gave Essentials a chance and I'm digging it. The combat does feel quicker too. There's a lot less fumbling through power cards this time around.

It which point you may as well play the game of "I walk up to the monster and hit it with my MBA. Repeat until dead". Oh you're playing just with essentials, that's just what your doing. Takes all the tactical fun out of combat.

The "tactical fun" is a significant issue with the game. Angling for the best tactical option is a key reason why the game slows down. Finding the best tactical option is a key reason why cool, dangerous encounters get locked down and short-circuited.

Which is beside the point because "fewer" tactical options isn't the same as "no" tactical options.

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

Well, no. People can be both quick and have many options. If they are not being so, I'd rather make a decision under time pressure (almost like it was a combat? - shocker) than roleplay a slightly advanced chess game.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Well, no. People can be both quick and have many options.

Yes, but if they are also being "tactical" then they're probably dismantling the encounter, rather than being pleasantly challenged by it.

Anyway, unless a player simply doesn't care, it takes time to learn how to be quick with all those options. Some people never learn. Thus D&D's reputation for slow combat. It's not the game's fault exactly, but it didn't take basic and common player mentalities into account.

If they are not being so, I'd rather make a decision under time pressure (almost like it was a combat? - shocker)

Not even close.

than roleplay a slightly advanced chess game.

I like options too. It was ridiculous when the spellcasters had an option for every occassion, and fighters weren't even effective when they specialized with one option.

But there does seem to be a tipping point of too many or too complicated options, even if it's not the same for everyone.

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

adventure, get some indiana j books.
or the hobbit
or lotr
or try setting specific chalanges, say, a bond fire scene, and sy.....i wish we had real smores, award xp to the one who goes to get smores, items to the home made smores guy. involve the players, but dont try this at home. 

Troll king

adventure, get some indiana j books.
or the hobbit
or lotr
or try setting specific chalanges, say, a bond fire scene, and sy.....i wish we had real smores, award xp to the one who goes to get smores, items to the home made smores guy. involve the players, but dont try this at home. 



Is your shift key broken? ;)

Either kill all of your PC's, or start throwing Kobolds at them. I've killed a 5man group of level 20 pcs with 4 kobolds and a handful of strategically placed traps. 3 of them were crushed to death, 1 was beheaded and the other got his legs chopped off. I made sure to make the conditions in the ruins harsh enough that it was 'almost' impossible for them to detect the traps. They got 1/3 of the way through, 1 kobold killed.



Wow! Killer DM much?  ;-P
Regarding resource hoarding:

One of the things that gets players in that mindset in the first place is that they have so *few* resources at low levels that by the time they get to level 5 and their second daily, they're already in the habit of conservation. 

Roleplaying is for roleplaying.  The rules are for the game.

Regarding resource hoarding:

One of the things that gets players in that mindset in the first place is that they have so *few* resources at low levels that by the time they get to level 5 and their second daily, they're already in the habit of conservation.

Why do they feel the need to conserve them in the first place?

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

That's psychology:
"I've only got one of X.  Better not blow it." vs. "I've got 2 of X.  This looks likes a good opportunity to use one."

Especially at first level, there is a desire for that once/day shot to be cool, not just utilitarian.

I hadn't realized before reading this thread just how geared toward resource hoarding lower levels can be. 

Roleplaying is for roleplaying.  The rules are for the game.

That's psychology:
"I've only got one of X.  Better not blow it." vs. "I've got 2 of X.  This looks likes a good opportunity to use one."

Interesting. I don't buy it. I bet if you gave players 4 daily powers right off the bat, they'd still hoard them, because of what you went on to say:

Especially at first level, there is a desire for that once/day shot to be cool, not just utilitarian.

That doesn't go away. Why should it? And not just cool, but maximally useful. Lots of players would rather never get touched in combat and end the day with all their healing surges and hit points, than risk spending a few hit points making a risky maneuver, or even provoking an opportunity attack.

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

That's psychology:
"I've only got one of X.  Better not blow it." vs. "I've got 2 of X.  This looks likes a good opportunity to use one."

Interesting. I don't buy it. I bet if you gave players 4 daily powers right off the bat, they'd still hoard them, because of what you went on to say:

Especially at first level, there is a desire for that once/day shot to be cool, not just utilitarian.

That doesn't go away. Why should it? And not just cool, but maximally useful. Lots of players would rather never get touched in combat and end the day with all their healing surges and hit points, than risk spending a few hit points making a risky maneuver, or even provoking an opportunity attack.



I had a player gasp and glare accusingly at me when she rolled poorly on an attack.

"YOU made me miss on my Daily!!!" she said to me.

I assured her I would punish the dice accordingly.