Mike Mearls’ Vindication

In the interests of putting something positive at the top o’ the blog, I want to recommend Mike Mearls’ twitter account. It’s remarkably informative.

For instance, earlier this month he offered up a really nice breakdown of how streaming and podcasting games has fed back into game design. I find it particularly interesting for illustrating how the forum culture during the 3E-4E years ended up freezing out some preferences, and gave abstract theory the upper hand for a while to the detriment of actual play at the table. It’s particularly interesting because it ties into some of the stuff Mearls was saying during the D&D Next playtest process, where he talked about the designers were surprised at how much appetite there was for a simpler, lighter game than 3E or 4E.

You also have him slipping out bombshells like the fact that over its lifetime the 5E Player’s Handbook has outsold the lifetime sales of the 3E, 3.5E, and 4E Player’s Handbooks (individually, not combined). Of course, we just have his word for it. But I am not sure WotC or Hasbro would be too thrilled with Mike sharing such information on his public twitter feet, using the #WotCStaff hashtag, unless it were true by at least some definition. (Mike makes it clear in subsequent tweets that this is in terms of books sold, not cash revenue.)

I can’t help but see this as a bit of well-deserved vindication of the new direction Mearls has taken D&D in – especially in terms of steering it back to the “big church” approach and going for a slow and steady release schedule rather than a glut of extra supplements. The forum culture may whine that it isn’t getting enough grist for the charop mill, but I think it is healthier for the game overall.

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One thought on “Mike Mearls’ Vindication

  1. I for one am very happy with the game. In particular, having got the 3 core books I really don’t have any urge to pick up any more. I had a few of the 3e splatbooks and setting books, but I kind of feel like 5e is just… complete.

    I mean, there are probably some more monsters out there, but short of running a massive campaign I’m not going to need them. I’d quite likely just reskin existing ones. More spells? Meh. If you offered me a magic supplement that addressed my regrets about the Sorcerer spell list (which I think is more plausible than overhauling the class mechanics) I’d take it, but I don’t feel like just Moar Spells would be a particular benefit. Elemental Evil was nice, but extra spells often ends up either being slight variations of existing ones (nice for GMs and optimisers) or just not quite worth taking.

    Similarly, I’m not going to say it’d be impossible to tempt me with a rich selection of new feats, but I think the ones in the book are genuinely solid for the most part. So I’d have to be convinced of their value, and also I’d be concerned about the plan – a reintroduction of complex feat trees wouldn’t especially suit me, for example. I want to flavour my character with a few mechanical tweaks, not build them piece by piece and be always focused on the next enhancement.

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