Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Games of X-Mas 12: "Twelve Dragons Drumming"

The time is here and we have come to the end of the line.  To wrap it all up I'm finishing up the road that is Dungeons & Dragons with the newest entry both D&D and of all the games here... 5th Edition.  The third of the the core books just hit the shelves recently and everything is still smelling like fresh paper.  I'll be honest and let you know right now I've only been able to skim the Dungeon Master's Guide so far and I've only run a handful of games without it.  That said, I'm already liking what I've seen and still have a couple of issues that linger around from before.

The Good:

  • Making the Old Feel New
    • If 5th Edition completed one task it was making D&D feel like D&D again.  Now obviously for anyone who entered the hobby during 4th Edition this is not the case, but it's important to remember that a large swath of players moved on to new games the 4th didn't feel like the game they were expecting.  What's better though is rather than just turning back the clock to hopefully bring back lost players they instead continues to update and evolve the rules.  
  • Uniting the Tribes
    • A big part of making this edition feel like what ever version you were already familiar with is the fact that Wizards took a look back at ALL of the editions before it and did their best to cherry pick what worked best from each.  When you combine that with all the optional rule sets (as they also finally learned that we all like to play the game "our way") and 5th can morph into an even closer version to whatever style your table feels it best.  After the continual slits caused by each new edition it's nice to see that they are finally making an effort to bring everyone back under one roof without going the, "OUR version is better than anything you already have" approach.
  • Improving Where It Needed
    • Even while holding onto editions of the past 5th Edition also pulls a few new tricks out of its hat.  The biggest being the new advantage/disadvantage system which in all honesty sums up a lot of the design philosophy of the new game.  There are just as many rule options to make the games feel classic as there are to make the game feel must faster, smoother, and up to date with more newly designed game out there.  The proficiency system is another one of these changes that I'm sure will have its fair share of haters, but honestly I love it for how much a single system streamlines the entire game.
The Bad:

  • Personal Tastes
    • Honestly I have yet to find glaring flaws in this newest edition and when I want to play a "D&D style game" this is what I reach for.  The problem is I don't tend to want those games too often anymore.  I'm not a fan of classes and forcing players into cookie cutters (though every class does have more options so that each player can feel unique) and I'm not a fan of a game that by it's design needs a minimum number of heroes to round out party balance.  These are all personal preferences though and I totally understand people who want that out of their games.
  • Outdated CR
    • This might come from the prejudices above, but the CR system is also something I never enjoyed as a GM.  I feel like it forces exactly what the story is "allowed" to be at any given level, but honestly there is a bigger problem.  The CR system in 5th Edition need some heavy tweaking.  Even if you are a fan of the system it's going to have issues as it really isn't very consistent.  What could be (by the system) an easy encounter can completely obliterate some parties while I've thrown "deadly" level encounters that the party just stomped all over.  It doesn't really matter if someone likes using that kind of system to make their adventures or not if the system itself isn't doing what it is intended to do.
Final Thoughts:
All in all I'm really enjoying 5th Edition.  I don't know if it's that new book puppy love or if it's the real thing yet, but for the first time in a long time I'm wanting to play D&D again.  As you can see I had to lean on what I personally don't like about games of this type to even have bad things to say about it yet.  The best part is with the core books just finishing their releases this is the perfect time to get into it as all the core material is out now, but there isn't a ton of fluff to worry about weather or not they are worth owning. I know the books aren't cheap (about 50 a piece asking price), but if you check them on Amazon they are a good bit more reasonable ($30).  If you have the cash to get yourself an X-Mas gift this year I think they're worth the effort.

Final Final Thoughts:
This has nothing to do with 5th Edition, but more as the series as a whole.  I don't want to crowd anyone's feel with it's own post so I'm just throwing it up here at the end.  I want to thank everyone who's been reading these articles.  We're about to hit 2,000 hits by today and I know there are roughly 150 steady readers out there.  I want to thank each and every one of you for your time and I hope you all keep coming back into the next year. I never for a second thought I would have this much attention this fast if even at all.  In to the next year I'm going to shoot for posts on Wednesdays and Fridays filling out the article series listed at the top of the site as well as continuous updates for whichever of the 12 Game in 12 Months we are trying that month.  Until then though I'm taking a break as an article a day for over two weeks has left me a bit fried and the holidays beckon me.  So Happy Holidays to everyone and I hope to see you all coming back in the new year.

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