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D&D: Where are the meaningful choices?

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Having spent the last few years playing board games, and mostly ignoring RPGs, I've given it some thought, and I realize: battles in the d20 system have no meaningful choices.  Especially at lower level.  Player Characters run up from one side of the room, monsters run up from the other side, and the two sides smack each other until one side falls down.  I understand there is some room for more interesting battles, but you end up with 2-hour combat scenes.  How boring!

Most modern, popular board games are crammed full of intense decision making in an hour or less.  Why can't the popular RPGs do this?  Am I wrong?  Where are the RPGs with the painful (the good kind of pain) choices in battle?

The Jade Knight:
Mind giving your counter-examples?

The first board game that comes to mind is Small World.  The meat in this game is choosing which race to be and use to attack next, as this can make all the difference in winning or losing.  Having multiple options to choose from, and deciding which is most beneficial, makes the choice interesting and fun. 

An even better example, that may relate more to RPG battles, is Battle Lore.  Each player has a set of cards that determines which troops can move.  It's tempting to use up all your cards on one side to push the enemy back and pin him against a wall, but this will leave you open later.  Lots of great tactical and strategic decisions.

One of the best games for decision-making is Pandemic.  Figuring out what to do with your four action points each turn, with an excellent press your luck mechanic, makes me want to play it over and over.

I think these basic principles of modern game design could be applied to RPGs, especially RPG battles.

The Jade Knight:
WFRP 2nd used actions and half-actions in a somewhat tactical way in this regard.

Are there any RPG's you feel do a good job with tactical choices in combat?

I haven't tried WFRP, but that sounds like it's in the right direction.

To be honest, I haven't played too many RPGs.  This is just what I've noticed with D&D, 3, 3.5, and 4.  I have a feeling there are new ones that I know nothing about that probably do what I'm talking.


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