Last night I played some D&D. There were some good times to be had, and it was nice to be out of the house and hang out, but there’s something that struck me very strongly:
D&D sucks for running romp & stomp fights.
What D&D shines at is highly tactical, highly balanced, highly intense combats. As a GM, you’re best off loading as much stuff as you can into one fight, because that plays to the strengths of the system.
Little minor fights that are highly weighed in the PCs favor- those against mooks, minions, random monsters, and other fights designed to let the PCs “show off” don’t work well in D&D. The PCs will win, but when you factor in the time it takes to set up the combat, keep track of initiative, and slog through it all, it’s just not worth it for a fight with a foregone conclusion. That causes boredom, and player disinterest, which makes all of those problems worse, and can come back to bite you in the combats that are supposed to be cool.
Compare to say, Burning Wheel. Burning Wheel’s combat system is arguably as complex as D&D’s, but it has bloody versus. You can resolve a fight in one roll if you want to. That’s something every game needs. Now that I know that, the drawn out D&D fights seem just a little more drawn out. Because I know I’m sitting through something I shouldn’t have to.