Neuroglyph Games Only a Pen is Mightier Catch it on the Rise Dust shaken from a Book

Summer Simmers with New 4E Errata!

Wizards of the Coast released a new 20 page PDF of Errata on July 7th, and not surprisingly, this new set of so-called “errata” has created quite a buzz on the 4E blogsites and message boards.  In case you have not downloaded a copy yet, you can get it here.
Magic Missle Art
The new D&D errata cover a variety of rules in all three of the Player’s Handbooks, as well as Martial Power, Arcane Power, and even Adventurer’s Vaults.  And with the new changes to monster damage-output that we saw in Monster Manual 3, the Dungeon Master’s Guide tables governing setting damage, defenses, and “to hit” accuracy also underwent some changes.  While many of the changes to Players’ rules have already hit Character Builder, Dungeon Masters will have to wait for the new damage and defenses for their “homegrown” monsters to show up in DDI Adventure Tools.

It would seem that the biggest topic of discussion is about the change to the Wizard’s Magic Missile power.  There is no longer an attack roll associated with this power, and while the damage has been reduced, it essentially equates to an auto-hit/auto-damage at-will attack!  Over at Greywulf’s Lair, his recent blog, 4e errata update: Wizards and Rogues do happy dance suggests that this new change is going to make a big difference in 4E games everywhere:

…but only does a teensy amount of damage (2 + INT modifier in the Heroic Tier). That’s enough to auto-kill a fleeing Minion or take down a Villain down to his last Hit Points in the most insulting way possible (expect “I finished Orcus with a Magic Missile!” T-Shirts at a store near you), and not much else.


Dude! It’s an auto-hitting At-Will Power! The potential for serious abuse at the game table is vast. Or it would be, if I could think up specific examples. But I’m sure there are some out there. Vast, I say!

As previously mentioned, the message boards have been rampant with speculation into the possible ramifications of the errata to Magic Missile, as well as other other changes.  For instance, on the EN World Forums, at the time of the writing of this blog, the post count in the July Errata Is Up thread was already over 150 replies. The argument about Magic Missile being “game breaking” or “finally fixed” seemed to be slightly tilted toward the “finally fixed” side, with most posters seeing the new and improved Wizard power as being a good idea.  Although one poster on the EN World Forums, Aegeri, pointed out that there was one 1st Level Daily Wizard Power – Wizard’s Fury – that made Magic Missile a Minor Action for the rest of the combat encounter!  Certainly, there are some Dungeon Masters which might be taken a bit off guard the next time their Wizard Player-Character unleashes that combination of powers.

The changes to Magic Missile also sparked a bit of Twittering from Chris Sims, one of the original 4E Design & Development Team members.  Chris (@ChrisSSims) had several comments regarding the changes to Magic Missile:

It’s valid to change a power because it’s weak, but doing so is unusual for the update process. Several weak powers receive no such favor.

Anyhow, the change is fine, and those who like it are not wrong. I’d just have preferred a different change for better reason.

*To make sure my position is clear (no fence-straddling), though, I am not in favor of any default auto-hit powers.

It’s certainly interesting to see how one change to a rule can spark so much lively debate!

Another big rules errata change was to how Free Actions are handled.  The new rule states:

Free Action: Free actions take almost no time or effort. You can take as many free actions as you want during your or another combatant’s turn.  There is an exception to that rule: A creature can take a free action to use an attack power only once per turn.

This change also has some 4E Gamers concerned, as there are some classes, such as Rogues and Barbarians, which get a number of free action attacks based upon situational criteria which develops during an encounter.  It’s clear from reactions on the boards, that rules changes like these, well after Characters have been established, can tend to upset Players’ enjoyment of the game.

Inevitably, there were a number of changes to the new rules that were just released in Player’s Handbook 3.  In fact, 20% of the errata pages dealt with updates to powers for Ardents, Battleminds, Monks, Psions, and Seekers.  Many of these changes seem to have been greeted with open acceptance, although a few posters still felt that Psions needed “more work”.

In my own game, I know that the new rules change to the Rogue’s Tumble Utility Power will be hailed with great approval, as who doesn’t want to ability to shift one’s entire movement!  The Avenger, however, in one of my campaigns will be a might disappointed with the change to Improved Armor of Faith, which has now become an “untyped” bonus, but no longer scales with Tier Advancement.

Thankfully, I do not have to worry about Wizards in either of my 4E Campaigns, although with the changes to Magic Missile, it might be a tempting Class to consider “re-rolling” into!

So how do these recent changes in 4E Rules Errata affect your campaigns?  Are you pleased with the new rules, or concerned about them?  Your comments are always welcome, and I look forward to your feedback!

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!

About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


6 Responses to “Summer Simmers with New 4E Errata!”

  1. Jeff says:

    Personally, the only character that really suffered along the way of the erratas was my rogue. First there were the two consecutive errata to Demigod and now the change to the mechanic of Free Action which renders my level 29 daily (Kiss of Death, Martial Power 2, P. 71) completely useless. The rest of my build is still safe because of loose wording (they say “you can make an attack” instead of “you can use a [action type] to make an attack”). Which brings me to another concern, the lack on consistency between old books/dragon magazine such as the Player Handbook and new books like Martial Power 2. This example is most flagrant with racial feats for drow that, if compared to other races, have bonuses that are completely off-line with the other races.

    I still feel that the Free Action change should have been handled in a different way. It probably wouldn’t have been much more work to check around the forums and find the problematic “builds that capitalize on recursive attack power combinations” and just do what had to be done to those powers and/or feats.

    The wizard magic missile is another thing that concerns me. I’m simply wondering how an auto-hitting power can be in-line with the rest of the powers in the game. It simply doesn’t make sense and I’m sure that someone will indeed find a way to abuse the new auto-hit property of that power and that it’s gonna be changed again on the next errata in October.


  2. Swordgleam says:

    I thought magic missile was overpowered since it auto-kills minions, then I realized that a lot of wizard powers can target half a dozen minions at once and if you don’t hit at least one of them you’re a really sucky wizard. So in terms of enemies taking out per action taken, it’s far from game-breaking.

  3. Sersa V says:

    I thought the /magic missile/ adjustment and the new damage tables were neat. On the other hand, the players in my group and I ignore errata for the most part, so I tend not to have strong opinions either way.

  4. Wrathamon says:

    it would take 218 1st level wizards to kill Orcus in one round….

    How many 1st lvl Rangers would it take to Kill Orcus in One Round?

    they cant hit Orcus… so 1 in every 20 will Auto hit.. (not crit) you probably need something like 700 or more to kill orcus.

    I dont think any other class has that potential. Is this a realistic scenario? obviously not but the point can be shown that Magic Missile isnt this weeny power but now 1st lvl wizards can put the fear in even Demon lords

    Do not like autohit at wills – just silly

  5. @Swordgleam – Well the new magic missile, while not game-breaking, is certainly pushing the rules fairly far. Someone on the EN World forums pointed out that it was possible, in the epic tier, with reasonable equipments and feats, to get a Magic Missile up to 20-25 hit points of damage, and that’s an auto hit. Now admittedly, the old MM could be upped to as much as 55 damage, so it averages about the same, assuming a 50-50 hit to miss ratio. But as a minion killer, it’s way over-powered, if that were it’s only use.

    Chris Sims tweeted that he thought MM should be auto hit against minions of the Wizard’s Level or less. I personally liked that rule, and the damage component would not have needed to be changed at all then. What I found interesting though, was that one of the original D&D Design Team members was strongly opposed to the MM changes. It kinda makes you wonder what is going on at WotC.

    Another suggestion on the boards I read, in order to make MM a minion killer (again, assuming that was the intention), was giving it the ability to have the damage split into multiple missiles based upon tier. At Heroic Levels, there is one missile, auto hit for full damage. At Paragon and Epic tier, there are two and three missiles, each hitting for 1/2 and 1/3 damage respectively. This keeps it in the minion killer range, as at the Epic Tier, with each missile (using our previous example) doing 6-8 damage, and knocking out three minions, or slightly damaging a full monster, but not doing big damage to it.

    I have to say that WotC certainly created quite a stir with this power change, and personally, I’ll be watching them very closely as they ramp up for their Essentials line, to see just how much they start altering 4E.

  6. [...] Still, although we love having fun, the rules are there to keep the game from turning into a large game of Cops and Robbers (I shot you!  Nuh uh, you missed, but I shot you!  Nuh uh, I ducked just in time, so there!). Wizards released another set of errata–and does it now feel like there’s more errata than actual game?–a decent review of which can be found over at Neruoglyph Games. [...]

Leave a Reply