Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Review
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Concise and consistent rules
Compared to prior editions, 4th Edition D&D has dramatically simplified rules. There are very few special cases to remember, and all character classes (Fighter, Wizard, etc.) share a common pattern in how they gain and use combat abilities.
Pro Focus on heroism and fun
4th Edition downplayed simulation, and instead embraced cinematic action. The players are assumed to be the main characters of a story which revolves around them, rather than merely one faction in a far larger world.
Pro Excellent tactical combat system
As a grid-based combat game, 4th Edition offers well-balanced and tactically rich gameplay. In particular, it features numerous effects which force or prevent movement, often preventing simple "charge and attack" tactics.
Pro Best balanced version of D&D
Other versions of D&D tend to use a "balance over time" system, where some character types are weaker to start with and stronger later on, and vice-versa for others. However, this works poorly if your game doesn't continue for a long time, or starts with PCs already at a higher level. 4th Edition is the first - and so far only - version of D&D to do a good job of making characters similarly powerful at all levels.
Pro Character death is uncommon
To encourage boldness, characters are far harder to kill than in any other edition. This also allows players to invest heavily in the story and personality of their characters without facing the potential buzzkill of loss.
Con Grid combat is required for best combat experience
Though most other editions of D&D assume miniatures are used for combat, they have all provided rules for playing without them, while 4th edition has not. It even goes as far as to measure distances and ability effects in terms of "squares.".
And while it's possible to play the game without a grid, 4th edition combat places so much emphasis on powers and abilities that move you and your opponents around the battlefield that keeping track of such movement is important enough where playing 4th Edition without minis or a similar system loses most of the interesting parts of the combat system.
Con Suspension of disbelief is often difficult
Making it fun was such a priority in 4th Edition that it frequently trumped making sense. This manifests in ways ranging from "minions" who die in hordes at the lightest touch, to broken weapons simply repairing themselves.
Con Combat drags
Due to the scaling of player damage vs. monster hit points, even simple fights can take a long time to resolve, particularly at higher levels.