my gaming history

Kevin at DW has a nice summary of what’s changed in the new 4th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I really am eager to give this a shot – I used to play D&D heavily, starting with the red box (back when D&D and AD&D were two separate products. Anyone recall the Immortals box set? :), during grade school IIRC. I maintained my gaming up till college, playing 2nd Ed at the time (and enjoying the expansions like Dark Sun, Ravenloft, etc). We also dabbled in Shadowrun. However near the tail end of college, Magic The Gathering came out and basically obliterated D&D. I havent played Magic since leaving college either, so in a sense I am ready to come full circle again and give 4th Ed a shot. (there was a 3.5 Ed? wtf?)

I did try a lot of board games too – I remember Talisman very fondly from junior high, and there was also the Star Trek Starship Combat Simulator in high school. And in college we were heavily into Illuminati, whose second edition was still playable but we preferred the original. I also got into RoboRally while in college, which was another of those games with a simple concept and game mechanics, but tremendously complex play.

I am also very tempted by the new online gaming tool for D&D 4E, but it looks like WOTC is making a huge mistake with respect to its pricing:

Details uncorked at D&D Experience earlier this year revealed that Wizards of the Coast is rolling out a subscription model used by many massively multiplayer games. In order to gain access to the service, players will be asked to pay $15 a month. Buying in bulk months ahead of time can reduce that price somewhat — to $13 a month if buying a six-month block or $10 a month for a 12-month block.

For a hobby that has (despite the high prices of the actual D&D books) mostly been a fairly cheap pastime, D&DI’s pricing is tantamount to highway robbery. It may sound reasonable — until you consider that in order to participate in an online event, each player will need to be paying this fee. For an average group of four players and a dungeon master, that’s a monthly outlay of about $75. Even at the lowest price of $10 a month, that’s roughly $50 a month just for that one group.

That WIRED article makes the great point that if WOTC adopts a per-hour model for pricing, it will lower the barrier to entry for a lot of younger players, and encourage casual gamers as well – like myself.

4 thoughts on “my gaming history”

  1. There are a few things I like about D&D4 and several things that I am very uncertain about *cough*new-casting-system*cough*. The online service which should have been a crown jewel is turning out to be a liability.

    A pay-as-you-go system would greatly increase the enjoyment factor.

    My first problem with the monthly fee is lost money if a scheduled game has to be postponed for a month. The group I game with has several times needed to punt a session due to personal reasons, or work sending someone out of town, or the DM needing another month to finish off a new area, or etc.

    The second problem I have with the monthly fee is the fact that I have to buy the rule books to play. I have gladly handed out 15 clams a month to MMO’s even after having to pay 20 more for expansions, but … errr, on second thought, I’m glad I’m not shelling out 15 a month for a MMO at the moment… I sunk a lot of money into them, too. The crux of my thought, however, is woah! this is gonna get expensive. Not many people settle on just getting one book and damn the DM’s are gonna get screwwwwed.

  2. Manoman, your gaming experience is pretty much a Xerox copy of mine… D&D boxed sets, Talisman, Illuminati, all of it. Good times.

    I’ve been skimming through the new rules and have yet to put them to the test, but I’m fairly open-minded, especially since I wasn’t fond of 3.0 or 3.5. The online system looks interesting, and if it works may be worth the $15 a month for me. Since my old gaming group has scattered to the winds, all over the US, it might be worth paying to be able to have everyone get together for a session. You and Bear are right that an hourly fee would probably work a lot better and attract more casuals. I already drop $15 a month for Warcraft, and I’m not going to pay for both.

  3. What would be really awesome woudl be a turns-based version of D&D online. It wouldnt allow for much role play, but I am skeptical that it can be preserved via teleconf anyway. I think as far as story goes, it would work, and it woudl be easier to get a group going since not everyone need be online at teh same time.

  4. There’s something about “guest passes” that make it possible for only the DM to be a paid member, but the rules about that are still in flux, and it sounds like they expect to run a match-making service where people with guest passes just play in whatever games are running (“LFG, Temple of Elemental Evil”). Not gonna happen.


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