For awhile now, there's been poking and prodding by many of us at 4E - what does it mean, what does it bring to the hobby and what exactly do we do with it? For alot of us, myself included, it's just not the D&D game we want to play - for whatever reasons. It's not D&D to me, but it is D&D by name and therefore by intent and brand, and it's not something to ignore.
It is, however, really damn close to a modern style wargame with the name of D&D, when you look at it like that.
That's what is popular today - wargames dressed in tactical miniatures. Look at Memoir '44, Warhammer, Monsterapocalypse and so on. The public loves these games - and it therefore is no surprise that Wizards of the Coast (WotC) aimed the latest game at it. D&D Minis apparently wasn't going to fit within that market, so why not point your flagship product in that direction and go with it?
The funny thing is that I can now talk to 4E'ers from a wargame roots aspect. When Chatty spoke about his problem with "the grind" of 4E combat, I thought "how do wargamers end battles" and I suggested victory conditions. That's a wargame mentality - when you've completed XYZ objectives, the battle is over. It takes a huge mental shift in me to look at a version of D&D as just a "wargame", but once I do, I can talk in concepts that are going to mesh with the latest version. If D&D 4E is a series of battles, using characters with "stories" that will travel from battle to battle, then looking at it from a wargame with roleplaying, versus roleplaying with combat - that makes it a little easier.
It also makes a bit of sense where people have spoken of the changed role of the DM in 4E - and the more static nature of progression with treasure parcels, magic item expectations, etc. - well, wargames don't always have a "Game Referee" unless it's one big battle requiring one - so player v. player wargames and Players vs. Monsters really starts to make sense.
Let me say that the "style" of wargaming for 4E is not for me. It's not a wargame that I could necessarily feel comfortable with - but suddenly, I feel as if DBA and 4E are of kin - except 4E has a ton more "add-ons" than a typical wargame than I play. I still prefer the D&D I play and the original rules. But D&D 4E as a modern wargame - that makes a lot more sense to me now. It's ironic. Those of us who hew to the older versions appreciate the wargaming roots from 30 years ago. D&D today may not be all that much different in the lineage, but from wargames of NOW. Are we all that different?
And the old-school has a lot of lessons learned from wargames and from the original viewpoint that role-playing and wargaming were complimentary. It's not that terribly different if you look back and consider that quite a number of people still enjoy the Chainmail style of combat during OD&D (agreed that we're talking about combat resolution, but is there more that could be considered? Has anyone tried the movement rules in Chainmail and tied it to movement rules for OD&D? I must remember to ask that question on the OD&D Board...)
(BTW, check out the game Spellcraft & Swordplay if you want to see what D&D keeping the Chainmail combat system would look like.)
Maybe you're thinking "Duh, Michael, welcome to Mr. Obvious Land" but it really just kinda clicked. Maybe I need to play more Games Workshop games to appreciate modern wargames a bit more... I have LotR Mines of Moria starter set, now I need are opponents.
Final note: I make it a point to try to not get into Flame Wars and Edition Fights over D&D and games, so please don't construe this post as that. If you want to get into a "I hate 4E" or "I hate old-school", please go to those places where that discussion is apropos. I will be ruthless in moderating comments that aim towards starting an edition war.