Posted by : David Guyll May 13, 2013
When 4th Edition came out, though we were excited by all the options and changes, we saw immediately that combat could drag, especially if monsters took reduced damage or could heal. The kobold ambush at the start of Keep on the Shadowfell? That could eat up 30-60 minutes of game time, and that is just for kobolds.
Faster Combat is just over 260 pages of advice and methods on how to speed up combat in your game. Some of it are things that you probably already know, like pre-rolled initiative charts, average damage results (which is featured in D&D Next's monsters), and reducing monster hit points by 25% or more, but there is a lot of other stuff in here, like noting how long individual players take (along with a variety of ways to establish a time limit, as well as a reward system), ways to identify character strengths and weaknesses (along with ways to challenge or pander to them), and combat terrain to use/not-use.
Even better is that is is not just about combat efficiency; there are sections on how to design more exciting encounters (along with a list of 20 random and fantastic encounter locations), run "cannon fodder" and boss monsters, 50 monster quirks, numerous linked resources relating to whatever it is you are learning about, and more.
It is, in a word, extensive, which is good because even if a DM is not willing to invest much time in an attempt to resolve any of the issues mentioned (which not every group suffers from, or even identifies as such), there are still other things that he or she might find useful, like the aforementioned random encounter and quirks, and encounter building advice.
The ebook runs $20, but whether or not it is worth it depends on what kind of games you play (it is intended for Dungeons & Dragons and D&D-related games), and if you have any issues with running combat and/or building encounters. If so I think it is worth the buy, though even experienced DMs might learn a thing or two. You can preview the book's mind map, but this is where I think a few preview sections would help gamers on the fence.