I have to admit I'm not thrilled or excited about the change to initiative. I am on the fence on whether it is a good change, or not, and I think only playing it will really tell how well it works.
A few thoughts to help consolidate my thoughts about it --
- Progress tracker. A bonus. Most GMs already had a means of keeping track of the initiative order, whether it was writing it down on a piece of paper or using a stack of index cards with names on them. The progress tracker is a nice, easy, visual representation of this.
- "For combat encounters, Agility is used for initiative checks. For social encounters, Fellowship is used for initiative checks." Social Encounters? I like the idea of this, but cannot think of what a Social Encounter could possibly consist of.
- It encourages group tactics and working together. The group has to decide as a whole who goes in which slot.
- It is dynamic. Characters don't go in the same order every turn, so each turn can be 'new and fresh' for different players.
- Alleviates situations where conditions force an order to actions. For example, a narrow corridor or tunnel where the dwarf (being the most armored) goes first. Others cant move past the dwarf, so they have to wait for him to move before they can act.
- Possible loss of group focus. Players *might* get tired of deciding every turn who goes when. Also, despite the tension meter, it is possible for group arguments to erupt over the order, and causing friction in the group.
- Slower and more complicated. For all the other aspects of the game seeming to try to speed the game up, this will slow combat down as every turn the players (and the GM) will need to decide the order they are acting in.
- A mentioned by others, it doesn't make sense roleplaying wise. It's one thing to say the fast elf shouts a warning to the slow dwarf ... it's another thing to let the dwarf that rolled a 0 for init to go before everyone else, perhaps every turn.
First, I'd like to know what consists of Social Encounters? Jay, can you provide an example without spoiling anything? (PLEASE!) I think this would be a great selling point if it is true and is something that is likely to occur.
I don't see how some people still think this in any way relates to a boardgame more than any other RPG. So you get tokens to visually show how many rounds your Bless spell lasts, or tokens for how many rounds you are blinded, etc. Lots of GMs already use something similar (poker chips, small gem-rocks, etc) to record/keep track of various things. FFG just gives the GMs (and players) nice, solid quality tokens to use instead of home-made stuff.
Overall, I think I'll have to play a few combats to see if I (and my group) like this new method or not.