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Granting Advantage

Something came up at our last home game that’s been bugging me and I wanted to see what y’all thought.

Here’s the sitch:

We were all surrounding this beastie & his rider, both of whom were proving very tough to kill, even though we had him flanked seven ways from Sunday.

The line “they stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast” comes to mind.

Anyway, Vlax (our magic user) did something that knocked the baddies prone. So they’re already flanked, granting combat advantage, and now their prone, which means they’re even more disadvantaged. And, yet, the DM said no to the +4 Combat Advantage.

Now I get that’s what the rules say–my question is why?

Think about it–a flanked opponent grants combat advantage because, essentially, they’re having to defend on two fronts (or, you know, a front and a back or a side and another side). That’s distracting, so you–the attacker–gain a certain leg up on the situation. An opponent that’s prone can still defend, but they are at a disadvantage being knocked down or what have you, so that again turns the tables in the favor of the attacker. I say that it’s entirely possible for a downed foe to adequately defend himself from a single attacker while down, even at a disadvantage, but having to fend off two or more folks while also prone, well, that’s twice as hard, so combat advantages should stack.

It’s only logical.

Not like I won this argument, but I still think my point is valid.

(Suddenly I’m wondering if Vallora–my 6th Level Paladin–would even fight a downed foe. Then again, it was him or us, and he didn’t stay down long. Oooh, character crisis!)

And speaking of the past 2 weeks of gaming (yes, we got 2 Sundays in a row!), we spent some time discussing the differences between 2nd and 4th.

On the one hand, the set-up of the character sheet with specific actions, powers, spells, etc. gives you more you can do than just hack at a baddie with your sword. Having the move, minor, and standard actions each turn can be limiting but it also makes you think about what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. Many times were Minor Action: Take a Healing Potion used these last 2 games, along with the 2-minor punch of switching weapons (sheathing a sword and pulling your crossbow being two separate actions; dropping your sword and pulling your crossbow being one, but then your swords laying on the ground, and that’s not necessarily a good thing) at the end of your standard action to be ready for the next round.

On the other hand, those cards simplify things to a level that we could almost be playing cutthroat Killed Bunnies with dice, it can take some of the creativity out of it. Paul made a good point, though, that as we become more familiar with our character’s abilities, we’ll see more opportunities for creativity. Most of the actions are combat oriented, as are most of the adventures for 4th edition, but he theorized that in a non-combat situation we’d be able to find other uses for those powers and abilities (using Burning Hands, for instance, to start a campfire was one example). So maybe there’s just a slower learning curve?

And speaking of baddies–holy hell those buggers are hard to kill! The rider in the opening scenario had 156 Hit Points. His mount had 220! Meanwhile it’s doling out ongoing poison damage and the rider is taking double-shots at us.

I’m really jealous of the Dual Strike, etc. powers that certain people have. I’d have to get rid of my shield, though, to even hope for that, unfortunately, and I think my shield is kind of important.

In other news, this arrived today.

What’s in it? Only the next piece to the Raiding Party expansion plans. (It’s a projector. There will be multi-media presentations in the 2013 convention future!) Even though I won’t have a business use for it for a little while, we do have plans to give it a test run–just to make sure the components get along together and I know how to work everything–at this year’s Halloween party.

Speaking of the book: it exists. You should buy it if you haven’t already.

Until next time: Have fun storming the castle!

7 thoughts on “Granting Advantage

  1. Luke says:

    You are going to think I am being cute with this post, but I promise I am not.

    “Iā€™m really jealous of the Dual Strike, etc. powers that certain people have.”

    The first thing I thought of when I heard this was the Double Strike ability from Magic: The Gathering. Essentially, it lets a creature attack once during the “First Strik” phase and then once during the normal damage phase.

    So this got me thinking about 4th Edition and M:TG. One of the common criticisms I have heard about 4th is that it “dumbs down” the game, eliminating a lot of drawbacks and instead granting only bonuses. I also hear complaints about the use of cards as opposed to doing everything on paper and having to use your own methodology for tracking things. Having not played 4th I don’t know how much of that is true, but hear me out on this.

    M:TG tends to work the same way. You typically only get bonuses for yourself, and only have a penalty or drawback to keep an effect from being too powerful. For instance, you might be able to cast some big creature for cheap, but he can’t block, only attack. And of course M:TG uses cards, which are discrete and have all you need to know printed right on them. Anyone can pick that card up and it’s the same.

    Is Wizards trying to Magicify D&D?

    When I play Friday Night Magic, there inevitably is a lot of high school and 20-something players. Guys and gals who have only been playing for maybe a year, sometimes a few months, sometimes a few weeks. The game is very easy to “pick up and play” because of the discrete nature of the items used to play the game and the “user friendly” experience which Wizards has engineered into the game.

    D&D, of which I have played 2nd and 3rd, is not a super “user friendly” game. There’s a lot involved in getting a game together and even just getting your character created. It only seems logical to me that streamlining the game a little bit is an effort to market the game to the same crowd playing FNM. “Hey guys, thanks for coming out and playing Magic! And come on back tomorrow night and we’ll be running some D&D 4th edition games!”

    Maybe I’m way off base here — I don’t know. But your post was thought provoking for me so maybe there is some nuggets of truth in there.

    (PS: I’ve always wanted to run a D&D game in a M:TG setting. The latest block, Innistrad, was a plane infested with classical monsters like vampires, werewolves, zombies, and ghosts, and would make a great setting for a horror-based game.)

    Reply
    • Profile photo of Jennifer "Scraps" Walker
      Jennifer "Scraps" Walker says:

      I can totally see where you’re coming from with the Magicifying of D&D. I talked it over with a couple of folks from our gaming group and, yeah, it all made sense. That said, one of them is part of the DND5/Next playtest and the card-ish-ness of the abilities does seem to be going by the way-side.

      Reply
  2. Luke says:

    Also, yeah, prone AND flanked should totally stack attack bonuses. Unless you have Phenomenal Cosmic Powers* there is no way to defend yourself in that position.

    (*”Itty bitty living space.”)

    Reply
      • Luke says:

        That is hilarious! Not this past weekend, but the one before that (weekend of 9/22), my wife and I took the boys to Disney World and we watched Aladdin one night as well! (Also got to ride the Magic Carpets for the first time!)

        “I think it is time we said good-bye to Prince Abooboo!”

        Reply

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