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.