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View Full Version : A comparison of 3.5 and 4th Edition



Lord_Kimboat
2008-06-20, 08:04 PM
Iím hoping that this doesnít turn out to be yet another thread of bashing/defending 4e.

What Iíd like to do here is examine the underlying issues of Ďwhyí people donít/do like 4e as compared to 3.5. After all, if one doesnít like 4e (and from some of the above mentioned forums, many donít) why do they write to forums instead of just playing 3.5?

When I first heard about 4th edition I was nonplussed. I play a lot of Living Greyhawk and the announcement of the new edition also announced the end of the campaign I had been playing for more than three years. Also, there was no announcement of Living Forgotten Realms appearing to replace Living Greyhawk at the time so I could be forgiven for thinking that WotC was just going to give up on the whole venture.

On the other side of the argument, the local gaming group that I sometimes play with was excited by the release of 4e. They could barely contain themselves and I found this curious. However, they didnít play Living Greyhawk and knew of some of the more unbalancing issues of 3.5. I was also told by them, ďit will be great! Just like when D&D went from 2nd Ed to 3rd Ed!Ē

By this time the forums were already alight with arguments, claims, counter-claims and recriminations. Some of the information was dubious and/or inflammatory so I decided to wait until I actually have played 4e until I made a decision.

Now that it is out I have played a grand total of six sessions of 4e, and while Iíve heard that some people have extensive experience of playing many hours at high levels and different playing styles (including one poster who says that he has played at levels 1, 11, 15, 21 and 30. He also said that he hated it which surprises me; why play so much of a game you hate?), I do feel though that I have enough of a grasp of the game to comment on it. What I have seen so far is:-

Combats donít seem any faster. None of the combats seem faster than 3.5 combats, however, this could be due to a number of factors. First, in the games Iíve played there have mostly been over five players and some of this could be player lag. Second, we are unfamiliar with the rules and things may speed up as we become more familiar and third, I didnít play much 3.5 over level 10, where combats really did bog down.

It does seem more combat reliant. In what Iíve played so far, there have been lots of combat encounters with little story when compared to the best of 3.5 games. Again, there could be several factors effecting this, early adventures tend to be more focused on combat until people are very comfortable with the mechanic and can do it easily.

Easier for the DM. I also hear that our DMs love it because encounters are easy to build and customise, monsters have more varieties and thus encounters are more interesting (at least from their point of view). This could also be why they design/use more combat than role play.

The characters are more balanced. Exceptionally balanced in fact! It seems that no one class dominates over another and everyone is capable of contributing. There doesnít seem to be the situation where we enter a trap filled corridor where we all sit around doing nothing while the rogue does his/her stuff. After which the rogue sits on his/her hands while we fight the undead afterwards which canít be sneak attacked.

This does not mean that after five years of searching for and exploiting poorly written rules, one class wonít come to dominate, it just hasnít happened yet.

I have enjoyed the games of 4e that I have played but have not yet played enough that I can say that it is definitively a better or worse system than 3.5. It does seem clear though that 3.5 had some major flaws. Whether this needed a whole new system to correct (or even needed correcting at all) cannot be known.

I can also see a few things about 4e that annoy those that annoy the 3.5 fans.

The hype surrounding 4e can become very annoying. Some of the 4e fans are very excited about it and are so enthusiastic in their praise that they can seem quite arrogant and patronising. When questioned on how can 4e be so wonderful, they can become defensive and lash out at 3.5 thinking that by denigrating the old system the new one seems greater.

Also, the fact that 3.5 will no longer be supported and will fade away is a troubling thought to many of us who invested thousands of hours of our time and energy into the game. To have that swept away just because WotC and Hasbro think that they can make more money on a new edition seems cruel and harsh.

However, my own personal opinion is that the gaming system one plays matters less than the gaming group one plays with. If you are gaming with a good group of people you have a much better chance of enjoying the game than with a bunch of dorks playing the best gaming system ever designed.

Also, Dungeons and Dragons is a game of imagination and creativity. You can house rule anything, even have a go at combining 3.5 and 4! Or, just keep playing 3.5! Itís not like WotC is going to come to your door and demand you give the books back (I can even imagine that people will be selling their 3.5ed books pretty cheap)!

For any who have bothered to read this very long post, I thank you and would also like to ask anyone posting below, please do not flame or complain about either 3.5 or 4e. You can do that in one of a dozen forums already here, but please consider that people that donít agree with your stance arenít attacking you or what you like/hate but are just disagreeing.

Starbuck_II
2008-06-20, 09:26 PM
Iím hoping that this doesnít turn out to be yet another thread of bashing/defending 4e.

What Iíd like to do here is examine the underlying issues of Ďwhyí people donít/do like 4e as compared to 3.5. After all, if one doesnít like 4e (and from some of the above mentioned forums, many donít) why do they write to forums instead of just playing 3.5?

When I first heard about 4th edition I was nonplussed. I play a lot of Living Greyhawk and the announcement of the new edition also announced the end of the campaign I had been playing for more than three years. Also, there was no announcement of Living Forgotten Realms appearing to replace Living Greyhawk at the time so I could be forgiven for thinking that WotC was just going to give up on the whole venture.

On the other side of the argument, the local gaming group that I sometimes play with was excited by the release of 4e. They could barely contain themselves and I found this curious. However, they didnít play Living Greyhawk and knew of some of the more unbalancing issues of 3.5. I was also told by them, ďit will be great! Just like when D&D went from 2nd Ed to 3rd Ed!Ē

By this time the forums were already alight with arguments, claims, counter-claims and recriminations. Some of the information was dubious and/or inflammatory so I decided to wait until I actually have played 4e until I made a decision.

Now that it is out I have played a grand total of six sessions of 4e, and while Iíve heard that some people have extensive experience of playing many hours at high levels and different playing styles (including one poster who says that he has played at levels 1, 11, 15, 21 and 30. He also said that he hated it which surprises me; why play so much of a game you hate?), I do feel though that I have enough of a grasp of the game to comment on it. What I have seen so far is:-

Combats donít seem any faster. None of the combats seem faster than 3.5 combats, however, this could be due to a number of factors. First, in the games Iíve played there have mostly been over five players and some of this could be player lag. Second, we are unfamiliar with the rules and things may speed up as we become more familiar and third, I didnít play much 3.5 over level 10, where combats really did bog down.

It does seem more combat reliant. In what Iíve played so far, there have been lots of combat encounters with little story when compared to the best of 3.5 games. Again, there could be several factors effecting this, early adventures tend to be more focused on combat until people are very comfortable with the mechanic and can do it easily.

Easier for the DM. I also hear that our DMs love it because encounters are easy to build and customise, monsters have more varieties and thus encounters are more interesting (at least from their point of view). This could also be why they design/use more combat than role play.

The characters are more balanced. Exceptionally balanced in fact! It seems that no one class dominates over another and everyone is capable of contributing. There doesnít seem to be the situation where we enter a trap filled corridor where we all sit around doing nothing while the rogue does his/her stuff. After which the rogue sits on his/her hands while we fight the undead afterwards which canít be sneak attacked.

This does not mean that after five years of searching for and exploiting poorly written rules, one class wonít come to dominate, it just hasnít happened yet.

I have enjoyed the games of 4e that I have played but have not yet played enough that I can say that it is definitively a better or worse system than 3.5. It does seem clear though that 3.5 had some major flaws. Whether this needed a whole new system to correct (or even needed correcting at all) cannot be known.

I can also see a few things about 4e that annoy those that annoy the 3.5 fans.

The hype surrounding 4e can become very annoying. Some of the 4e fans are very excited about it and are so enthusiastic in their praise that they can seem quite arrogant and patronising. When questioned on how can 4e be so wonderful, they can become defensive and lash out at 3.5 thinking that by denigrating the old system the new one seems greater.

Also, the fact that 3.5 will no longer be supported and will fade away is a troubling thought to many of us who invested thousands of hours of our time and energy into the game. To have that swept away just because WotC and Hasbro think that they can make more money on a new edition seems cruel and harsh.

However, my own personal opinion is that the gaming system one plays matters less than the gaming group one plays with. If you are gaming with a good group of people you have a much better chance of enjoying the game than with a bunch of dorks playing the best gaming system ever designed.

Also, Dungeons and Dragons is a game of imagination and creativity. You can house rule anything, even have a go at combining 3.5 and 4! Or, just keep playing 3.5! Itís not like WotC is going to come to your door and demand you give the books back (I can even imagine that people will be selling their 3.5ed books pretty cheap)!

For any who have bothered to read this very long post, I thank you and would also like to ask anyone posting below, please do not flame or complain about either 3.5 or 4e. You can do that in one of a dozen forums already here, but please consider that people that donít agree with your stance arenít attacking you or what you like/hate but are just disagreeing.

Wait, I'm confused:
So we can't comment on this or we can but it has to be postitive?

I don't agree with flaming a game system unless the topic is about flaming it, but I have no issue bringing to light the errors of others who try to flame one.


The hype surrounding 4e can become very annoying. Some of the 4e fans are very excited about it and are so enthusiastic in their praise that they can seem quite arrogant and patronising. When questioned on how can 4e be so wonderful, they can become defensive and lash out at 3.5 thinking that by denigrating the old system the new one seems greater.

I disagree, 4E haters are much more lashers than 4E Fans.
I mean, more often you hear: Morepig comments, dumbed down comments, and other discouraging and mean comments.

Heck, one topic a 4E hater went so far as make up information he gained from illegal PDFs (this was before the books were out if you read that thread) about weapons.
I remember a couple bystanders who believed him.
Since than, I've lost respect for all haters of 4E. They bring lies and trick those who are ignorant.

Pie Guy
2008-06-20, 09:47 PM
I kind of like the system (not going into that), my group doesn't, and I don't give a ****. There are 4ed fans and 4ed flamers, and I can see how some wouldn't like the system, but, and I've stated this before in another thread, NOBODY CARES ANYMORE


Continued flaming just makes you look stupid and ignorant.

LurkerInPlayground
2008-06-20, 10:03 PM
Continued flaming just makes you look stupid and ignorant.
Eh, a lot of 4e bashing seems to simply stem from the fact that the wizard got gimped. People don't like the idea that you don't get ultra-versatile and potent catalogs of powers, as best exemplified by spells of 3e.

Ergo, 4e is necessarily simplistic and insulting. A war game with a hollow sketchings of an RPG around it.

The arguments stemming from the great logician battles are largely superficial. They are only the hollow echoes these sentiments. Something about reasons being the shadows of emotion or whatever.

Roland St. Jude
2008-06-20, 10:09 PM
Sheriff of Moddingham: Please don't start any more threads to generally examine the differences between 3e and 4e or the differences between people's opinions on 3e and 4e. There are plenty of such threads already.