this is my attempt at an intelligent post:
First you had the rpg and then you had the MMO who really wanted to be just like the RPG. And now we are seeing RPGs taking a lot of design and mechanics from MMOs.
The thing is that RPGs is a numerical system. you roll dice you add numbers or take away numbers, or look at a chart or table. and in game combat length is a function of how many things you are trying to do. For instance, when I used to play 1st edition D&D, we used no miniatures, we did group initiative, and everything was hit or miss on the dice, you also had a pathetic amount of hitpoints which meant that characters died pretty easy and quickly. Hence, it didnt take that long to have a combat. and during most sessions we probably ran through 4 or 5 fights. the roleplaying segments were fun, but we also knew that the longer we roleplayed the longer we would live. and when you made it to about 3rd or fourth level you felt like Conan. but as we started adding things to the game it slowed down to the point to where if you had two combats in a four hour session you were lucky....but they became slow.
MMO's are visual. you click a button something happens, the button goes dim awhile. then it gets bright again. you can do a lot of stuff in under a minute. you can do two dozen different actions and the game still plays at the same speed.
good or bad, the new WFRP is trying to do alot of things more quickly. I think that the gridless combat was a concession for the sake of speed, as is the initiative system. the one roll resolutuion mechanic is to try to save time--put every factor into a pile, shake it up, and cancel things out. whats left is what happens. the cards for reference speed things up and also provide more actions, the recharge tokens serve to cut down options over a period of time, thus making things quicker and more deadly. you cant defend every turn, you have to choose the right time, so most likely you stand to suffer more damage, making combats go a bit quicker. the party card makes people move along or else, argue too much and you'll pay for it later. stress and fatigue make you weaker, therefore easier to damage, thus making combat resolve quicker. and something nobody seems to mention is that the wounds/hit points are still low. I laugh when this game is compared to 4e, because anyone who has played 4e D&D is that everything has more hitpoints, even kobolds. this game is going to still be grim and perilous--hell just look at the wounds ratings.
anyway, i just wanted to point these things out. and I can count on somebody to point at the holes in my logic, which is the fun part about forums because when we think we have it all figured out some 13 year old from New Zealand shows us the error of our ways.
yeah,, this is influenced by MMO's, as Was 4e D&D. but where 4e trys to do new things with old ideas and mechanics and just trades one slow complexity for another, I think that FFG is trying new things with new ideas. AND AS I KEEP POINTING OUT OVER AND OVER: THIS GAME MECHANICS WISE IS INFLUENCED BY FFG GAMES. NOT WOTC D&D. anyone who has played four or five FFG big box games can see it plain as day. its got some Descent influences, its got some tide of iron influences, so on and so on. FFG had card powers first, not D&D. so when I see a post saying that this is a rip off of D&D then I automatically know that person is talking out of their backside.
good gaming and good posting.