WTF is up with 4E Complexity?

There is a new article up on WotC’s site which has me dumbfounded at the poll they put up. I’ve heard folks bounce around opinions on blogs and tweets about 4E combat taking up a lot of time. I also understand some folks feel overwhelmed about the character generation with all the potential options out there over all the sourcebooks, PHBs, and Dragon articles. But then I see this poll trying to garner options on the complexity of past editions and I’m wondering WTF is this all about now?

A while back I pondered if essentials would end up diverging the 4E crowd. I understand the idea of offering a trimmed down character progression with limited options and making it a full blown class. That way you could get both the brand spanking new player and the person that has been playing 4E since release behind a new product. Yet I wasn’t sure how well it would gel and felt you might end up fragmenting 4E players even further into camps of ‘essentials’ and ‘no essentials’ (something I still stand behind).

What I am wondering now is how well essentials has been holding up. I’m certain a ton of folks picked up the red box like hot cakes. But several month’s after the release, I’m curious how many people have kept up with their essentials campaign. I’m certain the monster vault and rules compendium have also sold well (they are great products and a wonderful compact set of rules to DM-on-the-go). Yet I’m curious if the player books were moving as well as the other products. I get some 4E fans grumbling that essentials builds just aren’t that engaging in a fight with repetitive attacks. However I guess there are also those brand new players (or the AD&D fellows) that are simply loving it.

Which takes me back to this poll. It makes me very nervous what’s the next big jump for WotC and D&D. I’ve got my suspicions, but I do wonder if they are at a crux with what direction to take the game. On one hand I think you have a ton of folks that like the current system (I’m one of them). On the other hand, you’ve got the huge Pathfinder crowd. Maybe WotC is looking the pushing out a more streamlined, back to basics, type of game, and essentials might just be the stepping stone in that direction. Then again, maybe this is a way for WotC to show folks that despite how much they pine away at the nostalgia of older editions, it just won’t keep their big gamer brains engaged. I guess we’ll have to see once they post the results next week.

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