View Full Version : 4e Tactical Combat

07-11-2008, 05:53 AM
For good or for ill, a lot of the 4th edition ruleset is focused around combat. Character classes were modified with the specific intention of filling a certain role in combat, balanced against each other at all levels, and given a number of abilities that influence the flow of combat.

At will, daily, and encounter powers don't just do damage all the time. They often inflict conditions, give bonuses, or allow you to move yourself, your allies, or your enemies. Whole enemy races have characteristics that influence the flow of battle with them (kobolds and their shifty characteristics, hydras with threatening reach, etc).

For me, if you look at the system of combat alone, 4e beats anything I've ever seen in enjoyment and flavor. The system is streamlined in comparison to 3e, it allows for constant ebb and flow to make things interesting, and really gives you a sense of danger as your powerful PCs face equally or more powerful opponents.

Many games are less complex and enjoyable, and many are more complex and still enjoyable, but 4e somehow has struck the perfect balance for me, with enough flexibility and flavor to make it fun without adding needless complexity. The sytem is based on solid math that scales well from level to level. It rewards tactical thinking and teamwork. It allows all players to equally if differently contribute.

In short, the innovation that went into 4e combat is one thing that truly sets it apart from any wargame or rpg in the market right now. It combines the best of both worlds into a system that is now truly unique.

I think one difficulty that WoTC has in marketing 4e is that people who read the books without playing for themselves can't get a picture of how combat plays, because it is radically different than anything out there that I've seen (except for the D&D Miniatures game crowd). Full on play by plays can help (as has been done by Tamareth and others), but only by trying the system can you get the feel of it to sink in.

For those of you that have had a chance to try out the 4e combat system, what are your thoughts?

07-11-2008, 03:40 PM
I tride it tweice for a combined tiem or about three hours of play. Wich i admit is not really enouph tiem to give a sytem a chance, but i could not get my guys to play it any further. :fencing:

I really did not like it the way it is. but i am sure in a year they will have so many new spells and character options and skill ssytems options out that it may become soemthing i coudl get into. As of now though i will eather play one of the five diffrent games we switch between until our guys retire :whoo:

1. marvel univers role playing game
2. BESM Naruto
3. CODA system Lord Of The Rings
4. D&D 3.5
5. Our Pathfinder Playtest game

07-12-2008, 12:32 PM
The pace of combat is definitely what I like about 4E. Combat encounters last about as long in real time in 4E as they did in 3.5, though the number of rounds a combat lasts seems to be a couple of rounds longer. There isn't that 15 minute wait in between when my character gets to do anything. My character gets to do things when it isn't even my turn thanks to the Warlord in my party who likes to grant my maul wielding dragonborn a basic attack once or twice an encounter. I like making opponents pay for going after my allies instead of me. I like nailing opponents to the floor with certain encounter and daily powers. It just seems I'm making more decisions and having more impact throughout the initiative count than I did in 3.5.

It's nice to not have count duration rounds. It's nice not to be removed from an entire encounter due to a Glitterdust. It's nice not being stuck in a Web for an entire encounter.

The healing surge mechanic is actually quite nice. When reading 4E for the first time it was one of the things that made me rolleyes, but in practice it's a good mechanic and flavor-wise I find it totally works to explain why everyone can't be healed.

I concede character creation options are quite limited.

07-12-2008, 12:51 PM
From behind the screen, it's not that different at its core- roll initiative, run around, make the other guy run out of HP first.

There's a lot more to do, though- kobolds play significantly different from goblins, and people only make a basic attack after considering some other options. Usually I look back at a combat and realize that the monsters had more powers than I had remembered to use.

Also, hit points seem to go down and up more often, so there's more of a chance you'll go down if you make a tactical mistake. The larger death threshold also makes it so I can drop a PC without removing him from the game entirely, which I definitely approve of.

In my last game, one player wound up in the position of being the focus for the enemy artillery, and went down pretty fast. The party then had a choice of stopping the brute that was about to coup him, or take out the artillery before they had a chance to re-stealth. It wasn't a serious moment of danger, but still, that was a tactical choice that I hadn't seen much of in previous editions.

07-12-2008, 01:36 PM
Having the surprise on an opponent can be deadly to the enemy, especially minions. Because minions have only 1 hp, a controller's well placed area spell can change the odds very quickly. Keep kobold minions (or any other type of fodder) spread out to prevent their quick demise. I made the mistake of thinking the PC's would negotiate or at least try to get some information from the creatures before they slaughtered them.

07-12-2008, 01:48 PM
I agree Maelstrom. After playing in several adventures I've found the combat to really flow. I always had players in 2nd and 3rd Edition that wanted to hit their enemies and knock them prone, knock them back several feet, etc. Granted I did follow through with some of these things when they rolled high enough to give dramatic effect...but it wasn't till 4th edition that they have delivered on this and more. I'm pleased :)

07-12-2008, 02:10 PM
I'm still itching to get to run a combat, but it certainly looks like there will be many swashes buckled once everyone gets used to it. I've always enjoyed tactical combat; I created a home-made battlemat back in my early 1e days, and have used some form of minis or counters ever since...it just helps me see what's going on. Reading that part of the rules was one of the things that sold me on 4e.

07-15-2008, 03:15 PM
For good or for ill, a lot of the 4th edition ruleset is focused around combat.

The "Ruleset" is combat. It has always been combat all the way back to greybox materials. The "Roleplaying" comes from the individual players and the DM. It always has.

I don't mean to come across as advisarial so forgive me if I do. :)

The last time I conceived a character I though about who he was in the game world, and where he came from. What was his youth like. Then discussed my ideas with my DM. (I still miss step "0" of character creation in the 3.0 PHB) Once I had my background set my DM added a few pieces of flare that helped me choose my character options and abilities during the rest of the creation process. Bam! I had my Half-Elf Ranger who's greatest desire was to rid the Gnarley Forest of the Marroweater Gnoll tribe!

I don't think anything will change my ability to create and roleplay because of the rules changes...except maybe the combat will speed along so I can get back to my searching for the Marroweaters hideout.

Draw your sword and kick in the door, it's time to play D&D!

08-02-2008, 08:10 PM
My players have gotten so used to having the Warlord around, that this past session, they missed him. I kept getting asked, "where is the warlord?", "can we get the warlord bonus if he knows we're here?", and similar comments.