I hate 3.5 combat

27 Jun

Last night I joined my girlfriend and her friends in playing as a guest star in their Arcana Evolved campaign. (Ok, so not star, but guest player) Anyways, the game lasted from 3pm to 10pm, with about an hour dinner break. For the most part it was fun, except the last 2-3 hours.

The last 2-3 hours was nothing but combat. There were 6 players versus 12 evil skeleton monsters with 40HP and AC’s of 25. Now, one of the biggest things I like about Swords and Wizardry, or Labyrinth Lord (both retro clones) is how everything is very simple. You just play.

With this Arcana Evolved game there are just so many rules and numbers. It took us 3 hours to fight 12 skeletons. I sat and watched the clock, it took 45 minutes for me to get my turn to go again, and only 30 seconds to find out that I missed every attack because I rolled too low. I then had to wait another half an hour till it got back around to being my turn.

I’m sorry but no. Fuck no. When you have time to get up and watch a TV show or take the dog for a walk without missing your turn in a game, something is wrong. When you are bored to tears watching the other players for 45 minutes, something is wrong. All my character could do was swing at things with his sword, so it took me 2 seconds to say what I was going to do, then roll. Everybody else took forever casting spells, looking at the map, calculating damage, and so on.

Now I know for some people they love the strategy involved with combat. How do I position my character, what attacks am I going to use, etc… But I think it is absurd that in a fantasy game, that by definition asks you to suspend your disbelief, so much emphasis is put on trying to make combat realistic. The player must know every little detail, they must ask a million little questions. No! That is not realistic combat! You know what it realistic combat?!?! “Oh shit! He’s got an axe! What do you do? 1…2…BAM! You hesitated! You’re Dead!” End of story.

3 Responses to “I hate 3.5 combat”

  1. Driftingfocus June 28, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    The combat system of 3 and 3.5 is why I stopped playing D&D.

  2. Oddysey June 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    Sometime I am going to have to teach you a real “realistic” system. GURPS or Rolemaster or something. Not sure whether you’d like it or hate it. Maybe both.

    And, man, Driftingfocus, that’s a bummer. You quit out on RPGs entirely, or just D&D? I’d hate to hear you’d quit the hobby just on account of one system.

  3. Brian June 29, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Yeah, do not try tabletop, analog wargames. They are very much not for you.

    You might prefer 4e to 3e. (Ask Oddysey if you don’t understand what I’m talking about here.) In that game, you do get many more choices built into the system, so you’re rarely left with only “I swing at it”.

    That said, complexity does invoke lots of fiddly details. “Is he in range of kick?” “He feinted last round, so I can perform a disengage.” “I don’t have enough action points left for a lunge, so I’ll pull back into a defensive posture.”

    I think that’s a bit too much system standing between me and my fun, but my fun is verisimilitude, so YMMV. Some people really enjoy tweaking around with those fiddly bits.

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