The Action Economy

When Next was being sold, one of the big points they trotted out was that the action economy in 4E really slowed things down.  This was my experience as a 4e DM.  Between immediate actions and spending the entire move, minor, standard, the worst parts of the game took too long.  So for this edition, they touted that on your turn you have an action.  It's your turn, what do you do?  This had a remarkable effect of cutting through the BS my first few plays.  Also, as someone who enjoys playing a rogue, the idea of the ambiguous non-combat action is very appealing.  I found that 4E players viewed turns spent roleplaying as turns wasted because of the combat nature of the game.

I'm curious, a year later, are DMs finding that one action speeds up play?  There are a lot more rules and powers (there's an ugly word) governing things during movement, reactions, and abilities that aren't actions.  I see the combat and 4Eisms encroaching on what was last year, a bare bones game.  I find it fast, but its still not fast enough unless I push the players.  I keep hearing, "hey its a playtest I need to look stuff up" but I never met a 4e player past level 7 that knew their powers by heart.  I find people don't know their business.

Question two, how often are players using their actions for non combat stuff?  When I was a player, I was all about the setup.  I don't mind spending a turn or more setting up a trap, offering diplomacy or lies.  And yes, I could probably get the same result of damage output if I tried to deal damage every turn.  But that wasn't my character.  So how often are people actually using their turns to do things other than damage?

Vampire Class/Feat in 2013!

I prefer Next because 4E players and CharOpers can't find their ass without a grid and a power called "Find Ass."

I think the issue was in 4E by the time it got to your turn, the whole battlefield had changed and - you had to consider your options. I used to try and speed up combat by deciding in advance what I would do - but by the time my turn came, my plan was undone - too many things had changed.

Currently it's that nothing much changes and you're plan is pretty much to hit them (or maybe the cleric might go from lance of faith to cure minor and mace someone). It's not so much fewer actions, but simply less deciding time.

It speeds things up - but becomes a game based mostly on gamble.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

It's not just the "One Action" thing that speeds up play, but it does help. We never had anybody trying to figure out a useful way to use their Minor action in our playtest, for example. I think the big thing was just the simplicity of the basic design. We never really had to look stuff up, and the system for making checks was incredibly easy and fast.

We had an encounter in an inn, with angry cultists and a bunch of patrons. We had cultists using patrons as human shields... one lit a patron on fire and then threw him at our Fighter. We had people diving under tables, throwing chairs at people, flipping tables for cover. We had our very trigger-happy Druid decide to fill the entire place with a Fog Cloud, greatly complicating matters for everybody involved. All in all, the entire fight took about half an hour, complications and everything.

So yes, the game is definitely much faster... though I think the action economy is only a small part of the reason for that.
I think what we have now is more confusing than helpful. We have swift actions right now, but the game refuses to call them swift actions. Instead, every swift action has a description of what a swift action is in its description. So I've had to explain to an inexperienced player that he can use wild shape and also attack, and to experienced players that they can cast Cure Wounds and then attack, but not cast another spell. It would be a lot simpler if the rules just defined a swift action and then referred to it. You can also use your action to "hustle" which is the exact same thing as taking two move actions, but nobody understands what "hustle" means at first, while everyone understands what moving twice means. These don't come up that often, and we're already using them, so I don't see any reason to pretend we have a single-action economy. Maybe it's just semantics, but move action, standard action, swift action doesn't bog down combat in my opinion.
I love only having to worry about move and action.  In my games it has definitely made rounds move faster.  

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

 

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

 

 

I love only having to worry about move and action.  In my games it has definitely made rounds move faster.  



I agree with you Rhenny; the system of managing combat (One Action) reminds me of old OD&D which I started to play looong time ago when terms like swift action, hustle etc were not still invented.
The combat was pretty fast, back then, and the fight encounter took only a minor part of a session...instead with the other systens (3.x/4e) the combat took a lion share of the evening, instead of having role play encounter(s) AND combat encounter(s) DMs have had to choose between sessions devoted to combat and sessions devoted to roleplay (thats my experience).
Personally I prefer a mix of the two things in the same night....

@Lord_Kyrion: since D&D Next is still in palytesting I think that the "confusion" you speak of will be settled by the devs with simple rules in the appropriate chapters of the (future) Players Handbook...they maybe could states that a character could cast ONLY ONE spell in their turn, no matter what; and what a swift action is and what it can do....at this stage its only logical that every swift action has the same descriptor, they are added as soon as they are needed...the fine tuning will arrive in due time...I'm sure of it.

thats my 2cp
Hey folks,

This is more suitable f..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">or Playtest Packet Discussion  so I'll be moving it on down there.

Thanks,

Monica
Next is generally faster, but not only due to action economy, but also reduced HP bloat. There are fewer turns, and each turn is generally faster.
Choice paralasys was by far the biggest reason 4e was slow.   Action economy was not that big of a problem. 

I mean, chess has 1 action, nothing to keep track of, no dice to roll, yet you can sit and look at the board for minutes.


HP bloat is a second reason, but less rounds also means more swingy combat.  You could have everyone have 5 HP and do 10 damage, and combat will be over very quickly.  But who wins comes down to pure dice, without any thought to the combat at all.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.


Choice paralasys was by far the biggest reason 4e was slow.   Action economy was not that big of a problem. 

I mean, chess has 1 action, nothing to keep track of, no dice to roll, yet you can sit and look at the board for minutes.


HP bloat is a second reason, but less rounds also means more swingy combat.  You could have everyone have 5 HP and do 10 damage, and combat will be over very quickly.  But who wins comes down to pure dice, without any thought to the combat at all.

That's true, but it doesn't hurt (especially with casual players and beginners) to just say, you can move and act in a round...don't worry about an incidental action..just do it.

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

 

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

 

 

Choice paralasys was by far the biggest reason 4e was slow.   Action economy was not that big of a problem. 

I mean, chess has 1 action, nothing to keep track of, no dice to roll, yet you can sit and look at the board for minutes.


HP bloat is a second reason, but less rounds also means more swingy combat.  You could have everyone have 5 HP and do 10 damage, and combat will be over very quickly.  But who wins comes down to pure dice, without any thought to the combat at all.

That's true, but it doesn't hurt (especially with casual players and beginners) to just say, you can move and act in a round...don't worry about an incidental action..just do it.

Sure.  Reducing the number of actions does streamline things a bit.  

But if you give people 4 encounter powers, 4 dailies  4 utility powers, and 2 at-wills, your gunna end up in near the same boat.

Casters of 3.5 had the same issue.  With 30+ spells, their turns could take forever. 

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I've done a fair bit of Next playtesting with my group and combat is pretty fast-paced and over pretty quickly aswell, for good or for bad.. atleast at the lower levels.
I think what we have now is more confusing than helpful. We have swift actions right now, but the game refuses to call them swift actions. Instead, every swift action has a description of what a swift action is in its description. So I've had to explain to an inexperienced player that he can use wild shape and also attack, and to experienced players that they can cast Cure Wounds and then attack, but not cast another spell.


If they read the spell themselves, there wouldn't be a problem.

If they don't read the books, having swift actions defined wont help, as they wont read it anyway.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

Choice paralasys was by far the biggest reason 4e was slow.   Action economy was not that big of a problem. 

I mean, chess has 1 action, nothing to keep track of, no dice to roll, yet you can sit and look at the board for minutes.



The chess metaphor is misleading a bit. The opening moves in a game of chess has 20 different options and much more metagame related than DnD. The numnber of moves available increase after your first turn. Being a chess player the simplification just bugs me. 

I did have players when I DM'd 4e that wanted to make use of every action every turn. They would take their move and standard before pausing for 20-30sec before deciding if they had a minor action they wanted to do. Every player, every round starts adding up time. 
Here's something that happened a lot in my 3E games. 

"Oh, you're totally new to D&D and need me to make you a character? Congrats, you're a barbarian."

In other words, the newer a player was, the more boring their choices had to be to avoid turn paralysis.

Action bloat was part of it, but feature bloat was another part. If you made that guy a wizard with 50 spells, guess what? He'll never enjoy wizarding, because step 1 is READ those 50 spells, let alone cast them. 

And then in 4E we made everybody's class a wizard.  
I think what we have now is more confusing than helpful. We have swift actions right now, but the game refuses to call them swift actions. Instead, every swift action has a description of what a swift action is in its description. So I've had to explain to an inexperienced player that he can use wild shape and also attack, and to experienced players that they can cast Cure Wounds and then attack, but not cast another spell. It would be a lot simpler if the rules just defined a swift action and then referred to it. You can also use your action to "hustle" which is the exact same thing as taking two move actions, but nobody understands what "hustle" means at first, while everyone understands what moving twice means. These don't come up that often, and we're already using them, so I don't see any reason to pretend we have a single-action economy. Maybe it's just semantics, but move action, standard action, swift action doesn't bog down combat in my opinion.



I think the game was better off (earlier packets) without most of the things that you bring up.  I would like to see swift spells changed back to Words of Power and only be available to clerics.  I thought it was a neat feature that made clerics different from other casters (something needed even more now with Rangers, Paladins, and Druids), but adding swift actions to more classes it is is just time killing bloat.

To me Next's killer feature is fast simple combat.
I think if a test was run with a game that had swift and a second game that didn't have swift, combat in the latter would be slower.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

That depends on the players I guess. In 4e my group only really used the minors on drawing weapons and specific powers that required them. Then again my group are also people who would use spells/actions on tactically stupid but very in character things so we dont really care for optimising every single turn.

I think one of the reasons 4e was also very slow was because it was so well balanced. You really felt it if one player constantly did the non-tactically smart thing, so everyone HAD to use all those tricks all the time for the group as a whole to succeed.
 
 Next on the other hand is so balanced towards the playets that they could skip on their tounges through a dungeon (my main experience is mid-high level) and that makes players less stressed about doing "the right thing" so takes less time. Also its not very hard to say "I attack" every single round.

And safika, one of the features that really kill next for me is its fast combat for simple people. The 12th time in an evening my fighter declares "I attack" Im already asleep. Simple was refreshing for a while...but became dull quite quickly IMO
I think what we have now is more confusing than helpful. We have swift actions right now, but the game refuses to call them swift actions.... Maybe it's just semantics, but move action, standard action, swift action doesn't bog down combat in my opinion.


Bingo! In their haste to fix the problems of recent D&D editions, the devs have decided to retread old ground. We don't need swift actions! Actually, let's let clerics have words of power spells that are sorta like swift actions but not. Actually, let's call them swift spells, but to be clear they're rare, we will put the description of swift spells in each spell definition. Next packet, one of the brilliant devs is going to say, "Multiclassing is rough! Barbarian clerics are OP because they can rage, cast a spell, charge, and attack in the same turn! What if we let this swift thing also work for certain class abilities, like paladin smites or barbarian rages or... We could call them swift ACTIONS!" We're back to square one.

Anyway, a simple system would be move action, standard action, swift action, reaction. What we have now are actions and reactions, swift spells, moving up to your speed, spending 5-ft increments of movement, "as part of the same action/reaction," and so on. I think it's much harder to talk about combat now than it used to be.
I think what we have now is more confusing than helpful. We have swift actions right now, but the game refuses to call them swift actions.... Maybe it's just semantics, but move action, standard action, swift action doesn't bog down combat in my opinion.


Bingo! In their haste to fix the problems of recent D&D editions, the devs have decided to retread old ground. We don't need swift actions! Actually, let's let clerics have words of power spells that are sorta like swift actions but not. Actually, let's call them swift spells, but to be clear they're rare, we will put the description of swift spells in each spell definition. Next packet, one of the brilliant devs is going to say, "Multiclassing is rough! Barbarian clerics are OP because they can rage, cast a spell, charge, and attack in the same turn! What if we let this swift thing also work for certain class abilities, like paladin smites or barbarian rages or... We could call them swift ACTIONS!" We're back to square one.

Anyway, a simple system would be move action, standard action, swift action, reaction. What we have now are actions and reactions, swift spells, moving up to your speed, spending 5-ft increments of movement, "as part of the same action/reaction," and so on. I think it's much harder to talk about combat now than it used to be.


+1
Actions speak louder than words....literally!
Just like: it's bad that saves only work on 3 stats, now ALL stats are a save rejoice....but let's only design spells using the old 3 stats.
or: We want everyone to be able to play their own favourite system so it's going to be reeeeally modular... but let's just have 1module that is the entire game with no optional features.

Just because they SAY the old actions are dead and gone doesn't actually mean anything, they are still there alive and well.
The 5e action economy is rather bad and is quite prone to abuse. As soon as we get more spells and multiclass rules I predict the whole thing will blow up.

I go into more detail here:

community.wizards.com/dndnext/go/thread/...
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