This past weekend I participated at the public launch of Dungeons
Dragon 4e at the D&D Experience here in Virginia.
I'm a bit disappointed to report that it was a bit of a mixed bag. I had been looking forward to 4e since it's announcement. Most of the Design & Development articles really resonated with my own (current) philosophies towards the game. There were a few causes for alarm (specifically, some racial powers and premature death of the magic-item christmas tree). But all in all, I have been thrilled. I even really liked the two preview books (especially Worlds & Monsters, which will remain useful even once the rulebooks come out).
But my first 4e game was kind of lame.
Let me state up front that I think it was mostly poor GMing and the nature of the demo scenario. The GM ran the encounters and disjointed miniatures fights and had substandard table-management skills. He failed to really make use of the cool new kobold tactics and made no effort to inspire roleplaying.
But, seeing through the poor presentation (and after talking to other folks with better experiences), I did come away from the event with my high hopes for 4e *largely* intact. I do still have some concerns. I'm worried that the new save mechanic will be cumbersome for area-of-effect attacks. And I'm not sure how I liked the defender's "sticky" maneuvers (though, in fairness, these have been supposedly fixed). It was stated up front that minions weren't completely worked out yet (a worry, since the game is so close to shipping). And while I'm ok with the healing surges, I don't like that *everything* is healed/reset after 6 hours of camping. I may need to house rule that.
Let me just say that I *loved* playing the first level wizard. I used magic in almost every round. Granted, most of my spells were blast effects (aside from a few spells I didn't use). I really hope that more utility spells are available during character generation. And I can't wait to see the rules for rituals. That could make our break my enthusiasm for the game.
The others classes seemed cool (other than the now-fixed fighter/paladins). I like the new trtun undead mechanic. The Eladrin Ranger really pulled some cool Legolas stunts.
As first level characters, we seemed as tough (if not tougher than) 3rd level characters. Monsters were equally tough and I worry that combats will take about the same time. True, more cool stuff seemed to be happening, so that is ok.