Wednesday, July 7, 2010

4E Essentials---4.5? Beta Test for 5.0? Who knows....

I honestly can't figure out what the hell they're doing. It's supposedly geared towards the new gamers, and trying to get new people into the hobby without scaring them with 20,000 pages of rules. That's a fine goal which I support (though how its easier when one of the "Essential Line's" essential books is a several hundred page Rules Compendium is beyond me).

I don't know enough about 4e to know how the changes in Essentials affect the game, but it seems upon reading the official PR crap that some of the changes make it more like it used to be in older editions. That combined with the whole red box thing makes me think they are trying for people who never got on the 4e bandwagon, as well as older gamers for whom "Red Box" holds nostalgic significance.

And yet they say it doesn't mess with the existing 4e game. From what I've seen in commentary on various boards, it definitely will, and its potentially as significant a change as 3.5 was from 3.0.

All I know is that with WOTC's existing track record for twisting the truth for PR purposes, we won't know what Essentials actually is until it comes out. At that point we'll get a better understanding of what they were TRYING to do, which is apparently be all things to all people, past/present/future gamers.

We'll see how that works out.

If past attempts are any indication, whatever it is they are trying to do will cause a massive PR backlash.

And then there will be layoffs.  Maybe even prior to the annual Christmas Fuck You's.

Edit: Here's an interesting opinion...


  1. My prediction: It'll be as game changing as RIFTS: Ultimate Edition, or Role Master's re-written for those who haven't hopped into yet, it may contain some new rules variations, but it'll still be the same game.

  2. Well, having played and now recently abandoned 4E, it feels to me like too little, too late. It sounds like they are realizing some of the faults of 4E and making small steps towards correcting them, but I still don't expect this to be a truly effective beginners/simpler D&D line. I just don't think they really "get it" at WotC, but they are trying to make us think they do.

  3. I’m not a player of 4e, but from what I hear, the new iterations of the classes won’t have Daily powers? Can anyone confirm/deny that?

    This should be interesting to watch, from a hobbyist’s perspective. Little WotC does directly impacts me anymore, but the indirect impact of their business decisions is still somewhat relevant.

  4. Zach, you're right. In a sense, they carry not only their business but the future of the hobby in their hands, as the name "D&D" is theirs to control, and use to get new gamers into the hobby. This whole OSR thing is cool, but is mostly for people rediscovering their roots. It's never going to bring as many new gamers to the hobby as the books on the shelves with the D&D logo on them in Barnes and Noble.

    My concern is that due to marketing failures, confusion over which product to buy---Essentials or regular D&D, fracturing the gamer base, and putting out an edition so far removed from the original game, that newer gamers won't find their way to the older editions and clones. Or, if they do, they'll not recognize older editions as D&D or "get it", much like is going on now with older gamers to the new editions.

    If short term profit considerations have such an effect on game design and marketing as to detrimentally affect the long term future of the hobby, which is all I've seen from WOTC of late, then I don't think it bodes well.

    In real life terms, its hard enough to find a group now to play older editions of D&D with. What's it going to look like in 10 years?

    Though on a personal note, its rosier in 10 years for me and my brother, due to the plan we have to brainwash his 4 kids, ages 3-5 (triplets), into thinking D&D is the greatest game ever. We'll have a locked in group for a long time to come. The 5 yr old already has dice, and as soon as the 3 yr olds won't swallow them, they'll be getting them from Santa too. :)

  5. Forgot to mention, I think that link at the beginning of my post goes into the dailies thing, Zach.

  6. It is hard to believe that they are not trying to create a different edition, but then what options are there really?

    1. It really is a different edition or a 4.5 version compared to 4.0. This is just PR spin and BS.

    2. It is a split of the brand similar to how D&D was to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

    3. This is a Skills and Options version of what TSR did with AD&D with 2nd edition.

    I don't play 4e, but I will pick up their Red Box for Ye Olde Tymes sake and who knows, maybe with their changes, it will probably turn me back onto this version, but right now, my group and I are really enjoying Pathfinder.

    Yes, I agree that layoffs will occur right after the release of Essentials. There's always a special set of layoffs after every major change, edition, or whatever that WotC puts out in addition to the regular Christmas Goodwill Goodbyes that they punch their employees in the face with each year.

  7. Of course, I could be wrong, but doesn't this move seem to smack of desperation? A last hurrah before going silently into the void?

    I'm not into doom and gloom, but I can't help but wonder when I see this move.

  8. Joe, I am right with you. If they approached this as a bare-bones edition to get people into playing D&D, I think it will work. But somehow it seems WotC is trying to get another mechanics-lite system out there for people to play. I think this is going to drive a wedge into the playerbase, not bring them together. Unless this is just a round of customers acting as playtesters for Dungeons and Dragons 4.5...

  9. It is too early for me to call Mike Mearls a total tool? Just let me know...

  10. It's pure marketing. Just like 3.5 was not much on top of 3. Just like using frickin version numbers in the first place.

    Who's up for an old-school game in the Middletown Connecticut area, starting mid-August? Can anyone think of a venue to play in that area?

  11. From what I've read, it looks like a simplified and clarified D&D4e designed specifically to be accessible to new gamers, but still be completely cross-compatible with regular 4e. What's wrong with that?


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