One of the leading frustration points in 4th Edition is how long combat can take to resolve. It’s happened to the best of us: we’ve set up an elaborate encounter, complete with cool terrain effects, surprise ambushes, weather, the works. The problem is, now your combat encounter is taking 2 hours to complete and the attention span of half your party is waning fast. You could tone the encounter down, but then it wouldn’t be as interesting. This frequently manifests when the players all choose to just use At-Will powers, either because they’re used their dailies up or they’re preserving them for anticipated future encounters, and the fight drags on slowly.
An underlying problem this exposes is that a lot of us are trained to run combat all the way through until the last opponent (or player!) drops. This is well and good from a completionist’s perspective, but there are many ways you can make combat go a bit faster without sacrificing the parts which make things fun for your players. So, for today’s article, I’ll be focusing on techniques you can use to speed up combat itself. It’s worth noting that while 4th Edition is what spawned this discussion, many of these techniques can be applied to other roleplaying game systems as well.