Sunday, 26 April 2009

4e - 1 Year On

So, it's nearly a year since 4e first hit the shelves, and me and mine took our first steps into the future, grumpily maintaining that we would just be "testing" it, and that we would "still mostly be playing 3.5", and were only going to "see what the new edition has that we can incorporate into our 3.5 games"...

...Total times playing 3.5 since the first game of 4e?

0. Zero. Not once.

As a whole, despite some initial pain getting ourselves into the 4e mindset, and making it fit into the very dark world we play in, we absolutely love it. We love the fact that fights are shifting, dancing things filled with interesting twists and turns. We love the way that no single class dominates, and that every player has something useful to do, and I love the fact that I once again enjoy planning a game, and no longer see it as a big piece of unasked for maths homework. I like being able to run games "on the fly" again, like in AD&D and AD&D 2nd edition, and love the fact that I can adapt pretty much anything to my games with very little effort, but comprehensive and polished end results.

So, do we have any gripes?

Well, we are still a bit pissed about having to wait for the Monk and psionic classes (I have done a 30 level psionic striker class - the Shadow Mind - for my other half, and might, if you are good, may post it here), but accept that these will come. Indeed, most of our gripes are not to do with the game itself, but with Wizards of the Coast, and some of their - frankly bemusing - decisions.

The main point of contention at the moment is their decision to stop the sale of .PDF files, in order to address the issue of piracy. This apparently kicked off after the Players Handbook II spread across the file sharing sites like a new form of Ebola, leading to record sales of the same title, and...wait...err...what?

Yeah, you heard me - the dead tree version sold very nicely thanks, and despite the pirated .PDF's all seems to have gone very well.

However, this has not stopped some....some...utter moron...at Wizards of the Coast (or I suspect, the looming doom corporation Hasbro), from deciding that stopping access to legitimate copies is the answer; somehow forgetting that pirates love a challenge and that with a dead tree copy, a scanner and some simple software, an unofficial .PDF copy can soon be whisked up.

I mean, honestly, how does denying access to legal .PDF's help prevent piracy? Won't this just force people who normally rely on such things (folks with eyesight problems, or who don't have access to dead tree versions for whatever reasons) to seek out illegal copies? Doesn't this just set a challenge to the pirates, ensuring that, if anything, the piracy of new books is assured, and doesn't this just punish those folks who rely on legal .PDF's to ensure they have the books when they come out (like me - Europe always seems to get their copies late, which is really f*cking annoying)?

Ah but wait, it's okay, because Wizards have declared that they are looking at a new way of digitally distributing their stuff...which will slow the pirates down for...how long? A week? Two weeks?

Nice. Idiots.

Don't get me wrong. DDI has been pretty cool (though I am finding Dragon Magazine deeply lacking), and the Character Builder is frikkin awesome. However, I can't help but worry, when a company that has shown a huge mass of naivety with regards to the digital world and those who use it, suddenly start to make bold, and on the surface, dumb, moves.

Having said that, maybe they will surprise us all, and deliver.

I don't know. I was wrong about 4e, Gods' willing, I'm wrong about this.

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