Finally decided to try out one of the many anti-grind solutions that have been mooted for 4e combat. As my group head into the upper Paragon tier, the combats have been getting even longer than they already were. We were regularly getting towards 90 mins for a level equivalent fight, and that’s just not going to get us enough gaming in.
I went for half hit points and plus half level in damage for the monsters.
It has merits over other, probably better, solutions in that it’s trivially easy to adjust pre-existing encounters this way. The end result was that the two combats I trie dit in ran to about 5 rounds (instead of the usual 10) and took about 40 minutes to play through. Ideally I’d like to trim off another 10 mins, but I don’t want to have any less rounds per combat. I’ll have to encourage faster play with my group. Sometimes it is painfully difficult to not shout ‘get on with it!’, especially when I know the monsters only got 5 hits left and the Warlord is sending forever on a minor action to get it just so.
A potential downside is that my monsters are going to get a bit less time to shine. Even under the RAW I found it tricky enough to pull off multi-round tactics (like vampire bites). My players have, not unreasonably, opted for stuns and dazes wherever they can be found in the powers lists. This can get my guys in lockdown for a couple of rounds, and that’s gonna be so much worse under these new house rules. Certainly, my Cyclops Storm Shaman never got to do much beyond his first salve this week.
I’ll keep it under review of course. Initial feelings are positive though. If I can get to the magical 4 encounters per session then there’s a chance we’ll see the end of this campaign before I, or the guys, retire.