I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve been revisiting D&D’s 4th Edition lately and I’m starting to think I may have given it a bad rap.
Here’s the deal: I started playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1978. I drifted from original flavor to extra crispy and settled into 2nd Edition for pretty much the long haul.
I bought into 3.0 & 3.5, but didn’t care for it. It was too “super-hero/high-fantasy” for my tastes. By the time 4th edition came along. I just wasn’t interested.
The thing that made me turn my nose up to 4th edition was, primarily, the demand for miniature play and we just never played that way. Ever.
Every group, from junior high through post-college, was strictly theatre of the mind.
Then we had a reunion game in 2013 and began playing monthly and, for whatever reason, I brought out minis and battlemaps. I was all-in on that stuff.
Maybe it was because I had a young son and those maps and minis captured his imagination. Maybe it was just that I had noticed just how good pre-painted minis, maps, and set pieces had become. Maybe it was because I got a thrill out of crafting sets and designing elaborate scenarios with these newfound toys. Maybe it was all that and more…
So now, here I am, looking at 4th edition with fresh eyes. Oh sure, there’s a lot of bloat, and I still can’t stand tieflings and dragonborn and all that… but the game itself, the nuts and bolts and maps and miniatures and all the rest… yeah, I think I get it.
4th edition has a lot to offer. There is plenty to mine for my 5th edition games. Buying used and ONS 4th edition’s all the rage in the Freeman house.
Conn’s DMing now and he’s all about the bells & whistles. 4th edition had lots of that. The maps alone are worth the price of admission. For the rest, your mileage might vary.
I think the biggest issue, looking back now, is that Wizards of the Coast marketed the thing wrong. With 5th edition it seems they learned from those mistakes.
I’m now glad 4th edition existed. I’m even more glad that I’ve found a way to put that stuff to use.