I enjoy tactical combat, even though yes, it may take a long time in some cases. The best way to do this is to be able to make complex tactical decisions with simple rules. Take chess for example (I know not a short game) but you have 16 pieces, 6 different movement rules depending on the piece. Simple, yet infinately complex.
I would like something similar. Defenders have abilities to keep creatures near them, strikers have abilities to damage and keep things away from them, controllers have the ability to move (or freeze) enemies on the battlefield, and leaders keep them fighting, make others do more damage, and have a bit of control.
If fighters get a free attack everytime someone gets near them or tries to get away from them then it is his best interest to get in the front lines, then the controllers to move enemies to him (for free attacks) strikers are meant to get in, damage and get out, hopefully pulling one of them away from the fighter giving him more free attacks. While the leader keeps the taking heavy damage fighter from going down, and assisting the controller in moving enemies and increasing the damage output of everyone else.
So simple rules, infinite complexity is what I would like to see. Players working together to mitigate their own weaknesses and exemptlify their strengths. A team concept.
The one thing I do not want is a 15 minute work day, either give everyone all abilities at all times, or restrict daily recharges to once every 24 hours. I want daily uses to be a choice.
Interesting how everything that gets described seems to have been in every edition. We used "grid" based Combat in '78. Funny how it seems that each edietion seems to be able to do what every other edition did with a little thought and using RAW.
The most contributing factor I have seen to legth of Combat is the number of Characters/Players involved. I ran a game that averaged 7 players a session. That makes for @ 10-15 minutes a round. As to "analysis/paralysis" one has told me the key issue is that by the time their turn cam around so much had changed on the table.
@Jharii I meant level to level+4 when I said RAW. Thats the proscribed guidelines in the DMG.
Well, yesterday I challenged a level 7 party with 37 level 3 skeleton minions with the aid of terrain powers. Two of them nearly died (2/3 failed death saves) and a third one finished her surges. :P It's really a matter of how much you plan it.
I think for me I'd prefer a "normal" or "standard" challenge to be the baseline. Then if I'm going to develop a really interesting combat environment I can lower the monster levels appropriately (as you did I see). But I want my xp budget to be a challenge at level+3 and level+4 even if it is a straightup fight. Everything does not have to be unusual.
I'm sure as a DM I can come up with scenarios where the terrain gave big advantages to the monsters vs the players. In fact on occasion I've done this in my 4e game. The problem is that if you do this every single time it gets a bit contrived.
In my possibly not so humble opinion: if you want fights that challenge without factoring in anything but the monsters, you are up for making boring encounters. However, if that's what you want, try to give the monsters abilities that feed each other's to hit and damage potential. Or put in two level +3 elites that can't die unless they die at "the same time" (i.e. player readies their hit and the next player up kills monster A, then the player who readied triggers and kills the other monster, killing them at once). For simple, specific rules, I'd prefer if that kind of plot power monster dynamic was suggested, not worked into monster blocks.
I see no point in having a level 1 fight still possibly gutting a level 5 party. They're level 5. Without serious advantages, that level 1 encounter should be stomped. And if it is more challenging, possibly deadly? Then the XP value is raised, because XP should reflect the amount of effort and danger the PCs have gone through, experienced, and come out on top of.
But seriously. Tables, chairs, beds, barrels, cracked columns, hanging chandeliers, stairs, banisters, torches, fireplaces, gears, flamable materials, rock cover, height differences, magical pools, cursed ground, loose ground . . . there's no end to interesting possibilities for terrain and encounters. For example, a fight in a narrow hallway changes if there's doors to break open and escape or bottleneck guys in or use doors for cover, windows to smash, statues or pots or suits of armor to push over, rugs to pull and more. Seriously, if players are not able to interact with their environment, if they can only "fight monster", what's the point.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- )
Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right. fun quotesShow
@Kalnaur Thanks for the advice. I was asking hypothetically. I am not playing 4e and don't plan on again.
@All For me to make it interesting I had to bend it far beyond just routine terrain. I think it's just easier to have the monsters be specced for normal combats. That doesn't mean empty rooms but it does men non-extraordinary terrain advantages. A little cover or routine use of existing terrain is hardly sufficient to up the challenge against my players. I'm all for exciting and interesting terrain sometimes. When it's common place it becomes mundane.
I think 4e had too many hit points on all sides. (3e too in my opinion). I think the to hit rate for PCs was too low as well. I think with fewer hit points the PCs got hit about right.
What do you guys think about tactical combat as part of a RPG?
I still think of an 'RPG' as a small-scale tactical wargame in which people speak 'in character' a lot.
A tactical game takes time.
Everything takes time. The trick is prioritizing your time. Unless you just have too much of it on your hands.
Anyways, for those that actually played 4th edition long enough to figure out how it works, what do you think about all of this? Did 4th edition actually succeed at a tactical game?
Sure. It leaves out a lot of obvious tactical factors, like formations, high ground, morale, troop quality, fiddly things like weapon length and different rates of fire and so forth. The warlord puts command into it a bit, in a very abstract way, which is surprisingly fun. But on balance it's OK on that side. I guess it really does depend on the RP and fantasy angles to generate interest, though.
Did your players have a beginning strategy that they would unfold every single encounter? And if they did, what happened after? Where the fights long enough to create some kind of mess where your decisions actually matter? How long did it take your players to “figure out” the system if they did at all? Once they figured it out, how long where fights and was it still enjoyable?
I'm dealing with fellow players, since I'm not a DM, but, if my recent experiences matter, no, it's rare to get a party to agree on even a simple plan of action. Fights generally go enough rounds to get interesting. At Lair Assault you get players who figure they have the system 'figured out' and sometimes they ride roughshod over things and sometimes its fun to watch their rule tricks crumble or backfire. Like when that druid turned into dinosaur after you very carefully defended her through the first part of the scenario - and kept the regeneration you had given her.
Were encounters with fewer opponents as fun as the ones with lots of minions and regular opponents?
No. D&D is very small scale as it is, player parties are barely a fireteam. Making the other side even smaller really limits the potential of the scenario.
How often did you use solo monsters without other critters to protect them?
Again, sorry if you're not interested in player reports, but they seem to be a clear minority of fights. Even the dragon in Neverwinter summoned some other monsters to its side.
When designing encounters, are you actually trying to select monsters with synergies with the firm intention of slaughtering the players? Where you actually trying to win but couldn’t because the game was properly balanced?
If the DM were actually trying to win he would. The DM acts as referee as well as running the opposing team. It would be as if the umpires were on one team and free to make their calls accordingly.
It's one of the things it took me a while to get used to, that the DM was not the opponent, but the referee. I think it took one of our old DMs a while to figure that out, too. But that was D&D not 4e.
You might think that you actually tried to win, but did you ever attack an unconscious PC to prevent in-combat healing?
One DM told me that the game actually advises you not to do that. It's a little silly because, combined with the rule that you are healed from 0 instead of healing up negative, math-friendly though it is, it makes letting your allies drop the most efficient way to keep them healed up. If monsters were a little more vicious, pro-active healing would be the better tactic.
Did you ever have the impression that combats were too long because by the end of the fight, you forgot why you were fighting in the first place?
Nope. I'm old, not senile.
In the early editions of D&D, a dungeon crawl with a dozen rooms full of monster and treasure wasn’t uncommon. Could you play this kind of adventure in 4th edition?
I don't see why not. An encounters season is 13 weeks, at one encounter a week, that'd be the equivalent of a dozen rooms. Actually, this current season is turning out to be just that.
Was D&D Essentials as tactical as the early version of the game? On paper, the slayer looks less tactical than a straigtht fighter.
The Slayer is like the 18/00 fighter, it hits hard and thus might be powerful in one sense, but it's got nothing else going for it. You can still use it tactically, though, just think of it as a unit of shock troops.
Have you ever played other RPGs similar to 4th edition that actually tried to include tactical combat in them?
Sure. D&D, AD&D, little bit of Boot Hill and Gamma World, RuneQuest. But not lately.