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Gralamin
2010-09-10, 05:15 PM
So I picked up the Essentials products today. Currently three are released: Starter Set, Heroes of the Fallen Lands, and Rules Compendium.

For ease, I'm going to split this up into three posts: The first contains this general bit and the Starter Set. The second Heroes of the Fallen Lands, and third Rules Compendium.

I am approaching Essentials as an Expansion of 4e, not a revision. Because of this, my opinion may not match your own on several points.

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The Starter Set

The Red Box is back! This product is pretty cheap ($24 CAD). It contains the following:

A set of Dice (Black with white Numbers - No Crayons)
A Code to get another adventure free online (Valid until December 31, 2011)
The Player's Book
The Dungeon Master's Book
7 Pages of Power Cards (Preset, except for numbers)
4 Character Sheets
1 Product Advertisement
1 Sheet of double sided Tokens (3 Large, 53 medium, 5 of which are action point tokens)
1 Poster map (Dual side)

Most of this is obvious, so I will focus on The Player's Book, The Dungeon Master's Book, and the Character Sheet.

The Player's Book
The Player's Book is designed as a choose your own adventure, in which you create your character as you "play". This makes it incredibly hard to reference rules in it, with the exception of the "How to read Powers" part on the back. The Choose your own adventure makes it relatively easy for a player to learn the system, which is definitely a plus though.

Below in the spoiler is a paraphrased sample creation. It is a lot longer then what I am presenting, and more indepth.

You are heading towards Fallcrest and are attacked by Goblins. Do you:
a) Pull out a weapon and fight
b) Cast a spell to blast em
c) Draw a dagger and sneak around
d) Tend to the Merchant's wound while praying
e) Hide
f) Do something else
> e
Thats not heroic! Choose something else.
> f
You don't have a DM! Choose something else.
> b
Sounds like you want to play a wizard is this correct? (y/n)
> y
You are now a wizard, you draw your wand (minor action), move off from the wagon (Move), and now you may attack. But first, choose:
a) Human
b) Elf
c) Halfling
d) Dwarf
> a
You are a Human Wizard, you have Intelligence modifier 18. Your attack bonus is +4. Do you wish to
a) Blast some goblins
b) focus on archer in the distance
> b
You are unlikely to kill it with a single spell, but might scare it off. Choose one of these at-wills
a) Phantasmal force (Makes vulnerable to future attacks)
b) Magic Missile (Never misses)
> b
You deal 6 damage to the goblin! It is down to 25 hp. The Goblin archer aims at you while his allies swarm the wagon. Your AC is 10 + your intelligence modifier (14 - though the Defenses states "15" in this section for some reason). The goblin rolls a 8+7 = 15. The Goblin hits you! You take 1d6+3 -> 3+3 -> 6 damage. You have a Constitution of 12, and you have hit points equal to your Con score +10. Thus you have 22 hp. Your bloodied value is half that, 11. You are down to 16 hp.
It is your turn again.
a) Phantasmal force (Makes vulnerable to future attacks)
b) Magic Missile (Never misses)
> b
You hit the archer with a magic missile again, dealing 6 damage! Your magical display has frightened off the goblins.

At this point it moves into generating surges, XP, alignment, etc.

Player's Guide score:

For New user: 4/5
For Experienced players: 1/5
Total: 2.5/5



Dungeon Master's Book
This book starts off with a short talk about what it means to be a Dungeon Master, including some useful tips to new dungeon masters. Then it suddenly drops you into an encounter, trying to make you learn the encounter rules before they have been explained to you - not a very good idea.

It then resumes into a basic running information. What an encounter is, how skill checks work, etc. Oddly there is no information on what happens when a player does something the rules don't include, despite their being a blurb in the players guide.

Some critical information that players may need: How movement works, how flanking works, how Cover, forced movement, concealment, teleportation, etc. works. Charging rules, conditions (but not all of them), durations, saving throws are all explained here as well, which may lead to some confused players. There are a few rules changes apparent around here - changes to how Identical effects are handled.

After going through these rules, we expand into a sample adventure, at the conclusion of which Characters fight a Necromancer. They reach 2nd level after defeating him, and there is a list of upgrades that Fighter, Wizards, Rogues, and Clerics get for reaching 2nd.

Next it talks about creating your own adventures, the purposes of quests, building a dungeon, designing encounters, and some sample monsters. Finally at the end there is a bit about rewards and treasure.

Dungeon Master Book Score:

New Users: 4/5
Experienced DMs: 1/5
Information location: 3/5 - Loses points for organization, and having information which should be in players hands as well.
Total: 2.7/5


Character Sheet
Several Changes have been made to the Character sheet, to make it fit on one side. Its three columns. Note this sheet is very close to the one in Heroes of the Fallen Lands.

Column one
This Column starts of with a list of Abilities and Skills: You have an area for each stat, with the Skills that use the stat underneath it. Its a logical way to organize, but can also make finding certain skills hard: If you look for Religion under Wisdom, because you think it should be about your wisdom, you won't find it because its actually Intelligence based.

Underneath that is a plain box to write down Powers and Feats. This is terrible for organization.

Below that is a wealth box. its small enough to be all but useless.

Column Two
This starts off with a box for Initiative and Speed. It then has a box for All 4 Defenses, with no boxes to help with calculating it. There is then two boxes for Attack bonus, a box for Hit points, bloodied, Healing surge value and surges per day, a large box for recording your current status (but far down on your sheet), and a box for equipment and magic items.

Below that, there is a little reminder text for how actions work in combat. A nice addition.

Column Three
This column is very simple, a small amount is devoted to class, level, race, gender, alignment and languages. Then most of it is devoted to "Character Notes". Experience Points are below it.

No where on this sheet is there a place for action points, or for slots Items are taking up.

Character Sheet Score

Content 3/5 - The basics are there, but not all of them.
Location 2/5 - The location of many things on the sheet is poor, and confusing, despite some things which may be an improvement.
Usability 2/5 - The sheet is pretty much unusable on its own - you need the book to tell you how to calculate most of the values, or to memorize them. And if you were asked about your math, there is no easy way to show the calculation.
Total: 2.3/5


Starter Set Score Overall

For New Users: 4/5 - It can introduce you in, but it will be a pain to use for very long. Given though, it only contains enough to play up to level 2...
For Experienced Users: 1/5 - The Starter set gives you basically nothing, unless you are new to the game.
Total 2.5/5 - A cheap way to bring players in, but surely online quick start rules and free adventures are a much better way.

Gralamin
2010-09-10, 05:16 PM
Heroes of The Fallen Lands

General statements about the book
This book is pretty cheap as well (~$24 CAD), but is a paperback book of about 370 pages. This has several advantages, and disadvantages.

Advantage wise, its lighter, and easier to carry. Its also cheaper to produce, and is a bit harder to scan then a hardcover book.

Disadvantage wise, Its easier to wreck or damage the book, and less can fit on each page. This means powers often span an entire page width, when they don't need nearly so much space.

Into the Guts of it
The book is split into 7 Chapters, in addition to an Introduction, Glossary and Index.

Introduction
The introduction is pretty generic until you get to the end of it. Right up here in front, they put down the most important rules:

1) The game is in essence: Decide what you want to do, tell the DM. Roll a check if he tells you to, trying to roll a high, adding relevant modifiers. If you meet or exceed the DC, you succeed! Otherwise its failure.
2) Specific Beats general - We should all know what this means.
3) Always Round Down - Again, obvious.

Chapter 1 - Game Overview
This chapter starts off with some basic descriptions of the game, as well as what a Player, DM, and adventure is. It then moves into Tiers of Play, and then into talking about the Essentials Products.

From there, it starts going into basic information on How to play - what an encounter is, how exploration works, taking your turn, an example of an actual game, what checks are, the steps in Combat, as well as the Structure of a turn (More codified then default D&D, but not quite great yet).

Action points, saving throws, durations, Basic Attacks. Hit points, dying, rests, etc. all fit into this chapter, though some key terms (such as Charging) appear only in the Glossary despite being mentioned here.

Chapter 2 - Making Characters
Heroes of the Fallen Lands includes the following Races:
Dwarf, Eladrin, Elf, Halfling, Human.

And the following classes:
Fighter, knight build (Defender)
Fighter, Slayer build (Striker)
Cleric, Warpriest build (leader)
Rogue, Thief build (striker)
Wizard, Mage build (Controller)

As you may of noticed, roles are now attached to builds instead of classes.

If you want Dragonborn, Drows, Half-elfs, half-orcs, Humans (Again?), or Tieflings, you will have to buy Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms when it comes out. That book also comes with the following classes:
Druid, Sentinel build (leader)
Paladin, cavalier build (defender)
Ranger, hunter build (Controller)
Ranger, scout build (striker)
Warlock, hexblade build (striker).

In addition, the Revenant Race, and Assassin class (executioner build, striker) will be available in Insider.

At this point, we move onto character creation steps. The Default Ability score method is to choose one of three arrays (16, 14, 14, 11, 10, 10 or 18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8 or 16, 16, 12, 11, 11, 8). Point buy and random rolling are apparently in the Rules Compendium.

This is otherwise very boring, reiterating the good gods, languages, alignments, etc. At about page 55 we get to how gaining levels work. Basically you now consult the class description whenever you level, and gain ability scores and feats as normal.

Retraining hasn't changed, other then specifying a few details (you cannot replace powers without a level, or PP or ED powers. You cannot replace feats you gain from PPs. etc.) It oddly doesn't state, or not state, whether you can move feats up tiers anymore. I'm guessing its allowed based on a strict reading, but its something they should of left in as clarification.

Chapter 3 - Understanding Powers
This chapter is all about reading powers. It has a few good things written down that weren't explicitly stated before (order of entries in a power description is a guide to sequence effects occur).

On a pleasant note, you are no longer your own enemy.

Aura is a new keyword, and most of the other keywords have minor clarifications (if you want to know the exact text of any given keyword, just ask in here).

Notably duration isn't ever talked about.

Chapter 4 - Character Classes
Now we get to the part most people are interested in, the classes.

Cleric
The Cleric gains most of its starting features depending on whether its a cleric of Storm domain, or cleric of Sun domain (this choice also sets your paragon path at higher levels - well thats a lie, you take the same paragon path no matter what, but gain additional features from your domain). This Cleric is also entirely weapon based.

Storm Domain Clerics are resistant to lightning and thunder, and increases allies damage. One of their at-wills increases allies damage against an opponent, and a generic at-will that can be used instead of MBA on a charge (also targets Fort). They get a utility that allows them to create water. (Because of the lack of duration rules, I'm unsure how long the water lasts. Perhaps I will find out when I check Rules Compendium). And an encounter that again increases ally damage.

Higher level Storm powers/features of note:
Nothing jumps out at me. Its pretty much an extra damage and movement build.

Sun Domain clerics gain a bonus to death saving throws that they also give to allies. They also heal extra HP. Their at-wills give damage resistance, or saving throws, their utility sheds bright light within 4 squares on an object, lasting 1 hour (Oh hey, non-standard Duration!). Encounter is mass temp hp and saving throws.

Higher level Sun cleric powers/features of note:
Again, nothing else jumps out at me. They heal, they blind, and they give saving throws.

In addition, all clerics gain some daily and Utility powers from a common pool. A few of note:
Resurrection (cleric 8). Its basically the ritual for free, as a daily cleric power.
Divine Resurgence (Cleric 11), Minor action encounter power in a CB5, targets you and a single ally in burst. Regain the use of your second winds, and the cleric regains an encounter attack power of level 20 or lower from their domain.

Fighter, Knight Build
It only makes sense to talk about Fighter in terms of each of its builds, since they have different roles.

Knights primary mechanic is an aura, that basically functions as a mark. It does not actually mark things though. In addition, they have a power to punish those who try to do things you don't like in your aura.

At level 1, they also learn some stances, which basically act its at will powers (they are at-will stances). One is a cleaving stance, another is bonus damage, another slows foes, etc. You get only two of them. You then get Power Strike, which is an encounter that allows you to deal more damage on a MBA. Basically, instead of gaining attack powers, you use a combination of stances, utilities, and MBAs to fight. They also gain some math bonuses as they level. In paragon, they gain the "Stalwart Knight" Paragon path, which just further follows this. Do to the way they are structured, they end up with slightly less paragon path features then clerics. In Epic, this also continues. Its a very simple build. And, I'm guessing, weaker then Cleric. Is this a return of quadratic casters, linear fighters? We'll see.

Fighter, Slayer build
The Slayer fighter is a bit closer to the default 4e fighter. It gets bonuses to attack, and much more extra damage. It has no way of marking though, taking a striker role instead. They also gain stances, and power strike, and many of their stances are like the knights. In Paragon, they become Mythic Slayers, which once again, just basically add to the bonuses they have. Epic, the same.

Overall, I'm disappointed that fighters have basically been reduced to "Make Melee basic attacks". This feels like a step in an entirely wrong direction.

Rogue
Rogues still have Sneak attack, but also have a power called backstab that can used with a basic attack to deal even more damage. They also can use Dexterity on MBA instead of Strength, and gain two "Tricks". These tricks are basically at-will utilities, that could be likened to Skill Tricks in 3.5. They are especially good at Skill Challenges, but also don't gain attack powers. They frequently get more tricks though.

In paragon,they become a "Master Thief", which just further increases what they are doing already. In Epic, more of the same. While its very nice seeing a class that has a large focus on skills, it could use a few more out of combat abilities. In addition, its combat abilities seem like a step backwards, again.

Wizard
Wizards have to choose a School of magic: Either Enchantment, Evocation, or Illusion. All of your non-at will powers become prepared casting, allowing you to store alternates in your spellbook.

You gain cantrips, but only three of the four, meaning you have to drop Ghost Sound, Light or Mage Hand (Its not like anyone would ever drop Prestidigitation right?), or Suggestion which is an encounter cantrip, while all the others are at-will.

You gain Magic Missile always, and it always hits, and two other at-wills. Otherwise, its pretty much the same as the 4e wizard (Sleep hasn't even been nerfed).

Your paragon path, Engimatic Mage, Gives you the ability to switch out a few spells you have prepared. In Epic, you gain more of the same.

Enchantment gives you bonuses to force movement, charisma checks, and other enhancements to your powers. Its Utility power cannot even be used in combat - which is nice to see.

Evocation gives you bonuses to damage. What else did you expect?

Illusion helps you bluff and stealth, and gives you some options to make a spell attack will instead of what it normally does.

Epic Destiny: Indomitable Champion
This epic destiny is the only one in the book. It allows you to increase two ability scores by 2, gain addition hp and bonuses to defenses, and makes you a bit harder to kill.

Chapter 5 - The Races
This Chapter is very good. Each race is pretty much the same, other then ability score choices being adjusted. Humans I feel, have been nerfed. They no longer get the bonus at-will, and instead get an encounter power. They don't even have changes to how their ability scores work.

Otherwise this chapter is full of fluff or stuff you should already know.

Chapter 6 - Skills
Mostly the same, other then updated skill DCs (Which I believe are in errata anyway), and Monster Knowledge being more appropriate (more scales with level, instead of being tier based).

One really nice feature is examples of improvising uses of skills for each skill. Otherwise, I didn't see anything of note we didn't have already (Though the correct newer skill rules all compiled is nice).

Chapter 7 - Feats
Feats have been more catagaroized, making it a bit easier to figure out which feats are for what. The Math fixing feats are still around, though there is finally an Implement Focus. The Math Fix feats also tend to do something extra, such as Heavy Blade Expertise making you better against OAs. Defense feats, like Superior Will follow the same thing: scaling, with an extra effect.

This also reveals why there was nothing about retraining up tiers: Feats no longer have tiers. I feel this is a bad decision, despite some of the good in this chapter.

Chapter 8 - Gear and Weapons
Seems mostly standard. Masterwork armor has been removed. Weapon properties have been given abbreviations, which is a bit of a pain, but makes them fit better in the smaller book. Superior Weapons and Implements do not even appear.

Magic Items follow the new "rarity" system, which is basically supposed to describe how many of those items a player is supposed to get each tier. There are very few magic items listed, the 4 armors are all common. The Three weapons are all common. There is one uncommon orb and one common orb. Same for Staffs and Wands. Two arms slot items are common (one of which is Iron Armbands of Power, but for MBA only). 1 Common foot slot, 2 common hand slot, 3 common head slot, 3 common neck slot, a common waist slot, and four common potions.

The lack of items makes it hard for a DM to judge what is within a certain level of power, and what should be rare, or uncommon, etc. Especially with there being no rare item examples.

Character sheet
The character sheet is pretty much the same one in the starter kit, but adjusted to fit on two pages.

Final Score
This book takes a few steps forward, while taking many steps back. The playing with the system is interesting, but a lot of it seems to be done poorly, attempted to undo things that 4e benefited from, in order to bring back in older concepts.

New Players: 3/5 - A few of the classes are simpler, but a few others are more complicated then base 4e classes. The lack of choices helps, but that should not be a benefit.
Experienced players: 3/5 - A few of the builds could be fun, but I fail to see what a lot of the options add.
Stealing things you like: 5/5 - Luckily a lot of the stuff is easy to extract. It isn't that difficult to take aspects you like and apply them to base 4e.
Reference Resource: 4/5 - The book makes an excellent reference on many of 4e's rules, hit only because some of them are different from base (Retraining feats for instance).
Total: 3.75/5

Gralamin
2010-09-10, 05:17 PM
Rules Compendium

General statements about the book
See Heroes of the Fallen Lands. Its the same style, only that its about 320 pages, but the same price.

Into the Guts of it
The book is split into 7 Chapters, in addition to an Introduction, Glossary and Index.

Introduction
The Introduction is basically the same as Heroes of the Fallen Lands, but without the "Important Rules" up in front. (This is in Chapter 1 instead)

Chapter 1 - The Basics
Covers the differences between creatures, characters, and adventurers, as well as differences between tier and level. It also clarifies how checks works, Table rules, and Improvisation. For some reason it includes info on the core setting.

Its organized to include the Key terms where important up front. A solid chapter, but the world bit is wasteful.

Chapter 2 - Adventurers and Monsters
This chapter focuses on Creature statistics, creating an adventurer, and gaining levels. Short, simple, sweet.

Chapter 3 - Understanding Powers
You can guess what this one is about. It contains all the rules for PCs and Monsters for using powers. Very useful.

This chapter is also missing descriptions of Durations. This means that the rule of End of Encounter or 5 minutes doesn't even appear in Essentials.

Chapter 4 - Skills
From Skill checks to Skill challenges. Pretty much an Errata dump. Includes the Improvising examples. Short, sweet, useful.

Chapter 5 - Exploration and The Environment
This chapter focuses on Vision and Light, Movement between Encounters, Rest and recovery, traps, disease, etc. Once again, short, sweet, useful.

Chapter 6 - Combat
Here is the most interesting chapter. It clarifies some things like "If an effect has a trigger, but isn't an Interrupt or OA, assume it acts like an Immediate reaction".

Nothing seems to clear up the problems with what exactly an attack is.

There is some clarification to how "Save ends" stack. For example, two instances of "Dazed (Save ends)" Don't stack (One saving throw to get rid of it!), but "Dazed (save ends)" and "Dazed and immobilized (save ends both)" does.

It's pretty much a dump of all errata for what matters during battle. Very useful.

Chapter 7 - Equipment
Pretty much an errata dump. Oddly does not include wealth for characters starting above first level :smallconfused:

Appendix 1 - Building a Combat Encounter
Pretty much straight out of the DMG

Appendix 2 - Rewards
XP awards, Treasure packets, etc. appear here. No inherit bonus rules though.

Appendix 3 - Terrain Features
What it saids on the Tin

Overall
This book contains a lot of useful information, but its odd its missing some rather basic things, as well as some variants.

New Players: 5/5 - An excellent reference that will make you miss just a few things
Experienced players: 4/5 - If you are used to using some variants, or using some of the things that are missing, you will find it odd not to be there. It is still however a great resource.
DMs: 3/5 - It does not include the errata'd monster creation rules, or some of the other rules included in DMG1 and 2, Such as artifacts.
Reference Resource: 4/5 - It includes most of the rules, how wouldn't it be good?
Total: 4/5

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Thats all folks. Post away.

Flickerdart
2010-09-10, 07:43 PM
Seems very much like Pathfinder was for 3.5, with the added benefit of saving a whole lot of stuff for later editions.

Still, two whole Fighter builds. Wow.

Gralamin
2010-09-10, 08:17 PM
Indeed. It seems I was more accurate then I thought when I called it a "3.8". Also rules compendium is now up.

Esser-Z
2010-09-10, 08:25 PM
Wow. That sounds like it combines some of the worst aspects of 3.5 and 4e. Well done, Wizards. Well done.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-11, 03:17 AM
One thing that strikes me as good is simply some of the naming. The PHB gives us some rather bland names as the "devoted cleric" and the "staff wizard", whereas HOFL gives us the more flavorful "sun domain priest" and "enchanter". In retrospect, they really should have called orb/staff/wand wizard something like transmuter/abjurer/evoker instead.

Also, I'm happy to see that the "first impression book" for new players actually has illusion spells like Spectral Image in it. On the other hand, I'm unhappy that the Frog-morph spell from the Red Box is not in there. Also, I would have liked to see some kind of multiclassing in there.

The knight, slayer and rogue are not something I, personally, would like to play - but having seen several novice players utterly baffled by the average "PHB" class, I think it is good that there are some simpler options out there now.

It strikes me that the cleric and wizard are easy to combine with existing books: a 4.4 cleric can easily take 4.0 powers and vice versa. However, the fighter and rogue don't combine well except for their utility powers. Also, I believe that e.g. evoker's bonus damage only applies to evocation spells, which of course all the earlier-printed spells are not - which is something of a barrier against taking powers from other books.

I don't think humans have been nerfed, because that retroactive +4 is a very strong power, and because I feel the "third at-will" option is strongly overrated for most classes. However, I must say I don't really like it, because it is too similar to the Elf and Deva racial abilities.

Gralamin
2010-09-11, 03:43 AM
The knight, slayer and rogue are not something I, personally, would like to play - but having seen several novice players utterly baffled by the average "PHB" class, I think it is good that there are some simpler options out there now.
The thing is, they aren't actually simplier. You are now keeping track of quite a few bonuses, in conjunction with switching between a lot of abilities, instead of just "Use this if surrounded, use this otherwise". 4e Looks confusing at first because each class has so much stuff, but I've never had a problem once I've sat down and explained to them what they have, and what the colors mean.


I don't think humans have been nerfed, because that retroactive +4 is a very strong power, and because I feel the "third at-will" option is strongly overrated for most classes. However, I must say I don't really like it, because it is too similar to the Elf and Deva racial abilities.
The power is actually almost useless due to the changed rules (See Rules Compendium p197). If it wasn't for "Interrupt the trigger to function", it would not function. That said, I found the third at-will frequently useful, and this is awfully similar.

Kurald Galain
2010-09-11, 03:49 AM
The thing is, they aren't actually simplier.
Hm, that's a point.



The power is actually almost useless due to the changed rules (See Rules Compendium p197).
Wait, what? "Trigger: an attack misses, effect: gain a +4 bonus", how does that not work retroactively?

Nu
2010-09-11, 03:51 AM
Oddly enough, as far as humans go, the errata for the PHB (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/essentials) says humans can choose a third at-will OR the Heroic Effort power.

Lord Raziere
2010-09-11, 04:22 AM
Yea, now I'm sure this'll be a flop. They should've just stuck with 4E.

Reverent-One
2010-09-11, 10:37 AM
The thing is, they aren't actually simplier. You are now keeping track of quite a few bonuses, in conjunction with switching between a lot of abilities, instead of just "Use this if surrounded, use this otherwise". 4e Looks confusing at first because each class has so much stuff, but I've never had a problem once I've sat down and explained to them what they have, and what the colors mean.

And yet for the martial classes, you're now just saying "I stab it with my weapon"(with some sort of bonus) as opposed to using a power, and in that it is simpler. There are people for which the power system as standard 4e uses it is harder to grasp (I've known one and folks in these sorts of discussion threads have mentioned others) and 4EE does provide an easier access point for them.


Yea, now I'm sure this'll be a flop. They should've just stuck with 4E.

...They did. This is a subset of 4e, and when the listed products are done, they'll be back to more standard 4e material.

Gralamin
2010-09-11, 10:12 PM
And yet for the martial classes, you're now just saying "I stab it with my weapon"(with some sort of bonus) as opposed to using a power, and in that it is simpler. There are people for which the power system as standard 4e uses it is harder to grasp (I've known one and folks in these sorts of discussion threads have mentioned others) and 4EE does provide an easier access point for them.
.

Except now you need to balance your stance choices, take care of more bonuses and penalties, while being overall boring. I suppose it depends on the person, but it can harder to grasp that, let alone being effective with it, then the power system.



Wait, what? "Trigger: an attack misses, effect: gain a +4 bonus", how does that not work retroactively?

What I meant to say: it only does because of the rule of "If it requires it to function, then it interrupts". Without that rule, it would happen after the power had finished resolving (Since it would now be a reaction). But yeah, didn't word that well.

Livor
2010-09-11, 10:53 PM
I've been meaning to pick up 4th Edition for some time now.

Since Essentials contains the current errata, and further errata is being released for the regular 4E books to insure compatibility, it makes sense to go with Essentials, yes?

I've played 4E, but I'm not intimately familiar with the inner workings of the system. I know 4E is a significantly harder system to break than 3E, but I remember hearing about ways to break (relative to 4E, of course) the game balance. Does Essentials alleviate some, or all, of these?

On the subject of game design, as someone who appreciates simplicity as a design philosophy, how does Essentials compare to vanilla 4E? I've seen people derogatively refer to it as "dumbing down 4E further," so I'm assuming that it's simpler. Is this a case of removing needless complexity? How do you think these changes would affect gameplay?

What do I need to run an Essentials game? The Rules Compendium seems more or less like the DMG analog (along with rules previously in the PHB), and the Heroes books are the analog of the PHB. I'd assume the Monster Vault is the MM analog, but it's not out until the middle of November.

Essentials is cheaper than vanilla 4E, so that is certainly a motivating factor. The Red Box is currently $13.59 USD on Amazon, so might end up getting that to try it out.

Shatteredtower
2010-09-11, 11:45 PM
Ran the Game Day module today. Everyone had fun, though giving out chocolate coins for every creature killed probably helped. (The wizard, minion bane, was very happy.) Damage was generous all around, though beguiling strands was such a great wizard power that it rarely made sense to use anything else.

The human bonus came up twice. It can be very useful for death saves, should it come to that. The fighter became all about time and place. He scored the fewest kills, but enabled a lot of them, whether by cornering artillery or simply refusing to die. (The party needed that in the big encounter.)

I know that doesn't say much about the quality of the product. Still, it played out quickly and the group had a good time.

One thing: I think action points got taken off the character sheet because it's easier to track with the provided counters.

Gralamin
2010-09-12, 12:05 AM
I've been meaning to pick up 4th Edition for some time now.

Since Essentials contains the current errata, and further errata is being released for the regular 4E books to insure compatibility, it makes sense to go with Essentials, yes?

I've played 4E, but I'm not intimately familiar with the inner workings of the system. I know 4E is a significantly harder system to break than 3E, but I remember hearing about ways to break (relative to 4E, of course) the game balance. Does Essentials alleviate some, or all, of these?

On the subject of game design, as someone who appreciates simplicity as a design philosophy, how does Essentials compare to vanilla 4E? I've seen people derogatively refer to it as "dumbing down 4E further," so I'm assuming that it's simpler. Is this a case of removing needless complexity? How do you think these changes would affect gameplay?

What do I need to run an Essentials game? The Rules Compendium seems more or less like the DMG analog (along with rules previously in the PHB), and the Heroes books are the analog of the PHB. I'd assume the Monster Vault is the MM analog, but it's not out until the middle of November.

Essentials is cheaper than vanilla 4E, so that is certainly a motivating factor. The Red Box is currently $13.59 USD on Amazon, so might end up getting that to try it out.

Essentials is not in a playable state yet, IMO. You will have to wait until at least next month for the DM bit, as well as whatever they release that will actually have treasure. You would also need the MM analog.

That said, Starter Box is enough for two adventures of content, about.

FelixG
2010-09-12, 01:13 AM
i have yet to see any truely breakable things for 4e, would anyone mind giving me a link to such things?

Kurald Galain
2010-09-12, 05:11 AM
Since Essentials contains the current errata, and further errata is being released for the regular 4E books to insure compatibility, it makes sense to go with Essentials, yes?
That depends. If you have experience with other RPGs, then I would suggest to take the PHB instead.


I remember hearing about ways to break (relative to 4E, of course) the game balance. Does Essentials alleviate some, or all, of these?
It alleviates none of them, but in a 4.4-only campaign none of them can come up because they require other sourcebooks.


How do you think these changes would affect gameplay?
The main difference is having less options during character generation.


What do I need to run an Essentials game?
Three books: the player book, DM book, and monster vault. You'll likely want the second (ranger/paladin/warlock/druid) player book when it comes out.


The Red Box is currently $13.59 USD on Amazon, so might end up getting that to try it out.
Warning: the Red Box allows play only to level two, no further, and is actually not fully compatible with the "main" 4.4 set, because of an oversight by WOTC. Primarily, the entire Rogue class works differently.


i have yet to see any truely breakable things for 4e, would anyone mind giving me a link to such things?
http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75882/135802/4e_Character_Optimization

The four standard ways to break 4E are,

Take any number of feats or items that penalize enemy saving throws, then cast Sleep on them. A low-level item means you don't need to roll to hit, either. This can automatically shut down many solo monsters.
Take any number of feats or items that boost your damage roll, then stock up on multi-attack powers, starting with the ranger's Twin Strike. This is the trick that let a level-15 ranger one-shot the biggest monster in the Monster Manual.
Make sure you crit on an 18+, then take stuff that gives extra attacks on a crit. Pre-errata, this could end up recursively giving several hundreds of attacks per round.
Give your enemy vulnerability to either Cold or Radiant, and then stock up on any number of effects that boost these kinds of damage. This works for your entire party, and is brutal.


Overall, the fundamental problem is that 4E's stacking rules are poorly thought out. A lot of errata has gone into fixing these four, but most of them are still very viable, and the fundamental issue has never been addressed.

Livor
2010-09-12, 05:57 AM
Thanks for the info. Most of my confusion resulted from the core books being released a month apart. I figured there had to a method to the madness. How silly of me. :smallsmile:

Kerrin
2010-09-17, 09:52 PM
Warning: the Red Box allows play only to level two, no further, and is actually not fully compatible with the "main" 4.4 set, because of an oversight by WOTC.
What is the "main" 4.4 set for Essentials?

The Rules Compendium + DM Kit + Monster Vault + the 2 heroes books?

I'm trying to figure out what to look into if my group gets interested in moving off of the 3.5 edition.

ghost_warlock
2010-09-18, 12:03 AM
What is the "main" 4.4 set for Essentials?

The Rules Compendium + DM Kit + Monster Vault + the 2 heroes books?

I'm trying to figure out what to look into if my group gets interested in moving off of the 3.5 edition.

Basically, yeah, from what I gather the main Essentials is the Rules Comp + Monster Vault + 2 Heroes of... books. Not sure how the DM kit fits into it, as I haven't researched it at all.

Personally, I'd skip the Red Box and just get the Heroes books if you want to start wit Essentials. Otherwise, just grab the regular 4e PHB, DMG, & MM and get going. Or, for just players, do a month's subscription to DDI for $10, download the character generator, and go from there. Hopefully, they'll get around to adding the Dark Sun stuff for the October update since they apparently didn't get around to updating it this month. :smallannoyed:

Edit: DM kit description:
If youíre a Dungeons & Dragons player interested in taking on the role of the Dungeon Master, or if youíre an experienced DM looking for more game advice, tools, and adventure content, the Dungeon Masterís Kit has exactly what you need to build your own Dungeons & Dragons campaign and excite the imaginations of you and your players.

This deluxe box contains rules and advice to help Dungeon Masters run games for adventurers of levels 1Ė30. It also includes useful DM tools such as a Dungeon Masterís screen (with tables and rules printed on the inside), die-cut terrain tiles and monster tokens, and fold-out battle maps.

Game components:

256-page book of rules and advice for Dungeon Masters
Two 32-page adventures
2 sheets of die-cut monster tokens
2 double-sided battle maps
Fold-out Dungeon Masterís screen

Kerrin
2010-09-18, 01:00 AM
Thank you. That's good to know.

If I get into some 4e stuff I'll probably skip the DM Kit 'til reviewes and comments come out as to what it's actually useful for.