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I was awestruck when I saw a PC take his movement action; then perform a charge.

Growing up in D&D3.5 I assumed that he was wrong. In D&D3.5, the rules states clearly that you cannot perform any actions before a charge and none after. But as I read the through D&D4 I see no such caution. In fact, the latest errata for a Charge makes it a standard action.

Not only can a person have double movement and a Melee Basic Attack but a person can use all of their actions before performing a Charge.

If there is some official rule that I have missed, please bring it to my attention.

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Thanks for this question and the answers, I had misinterpreted how Charge works, and this will be really useful in our coming sessions. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Apr 3 '11 at 22:16
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4 Answers

up vote 31 down vote accepted

Charge is not broken

A character's turn ends on a charge (unless they use a Free Action after the charge), so the best they can do is maneuver then charge. Given that every square of the charge must take them closer to the enemy and that they must move at least two squares, the movement is quite useful here.

The real balancing factor is the melee basic attack. Characters, therefore, cannot use encounters or dailies (unless otherwise specified) on a charge. Charging is certainly one of the better mechanisms a melee striker has for engaging a target of her choice, but is not "broken." Even the most optimized charger is not broken compared to someone who can trivially perform multi-attacks.

As one of the characteristics of a striker is the ability to engage a target of their choice, charge-focused characters enjoy this mechanism for choosing their target at the cost of a great restriction of their at-wills.

My recommendation is to set your preconceptions of older editions aside and treat 4e as a completely novel game. It has its own difficulties, but a simple charge is not one of them. Combat in 4e is supposed to be significantly more fluid than that of earlier editions and this movement philosophy reflects that.

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Limiting the attack to a melee basic attack is the key. –  Pat Ludwig Mar 13 '11 at 5:24
To be fair, a charging-specced thief is remarkably scary. The "DPR king" title is held by thief-chargers at levels 1 and 6, but... is quickly lost at higher levels. But not broken. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 13 '11 at 6:35
It's less significant that you can't use encounters and more significant that you can't even use at-wills unless they explicitly can be used on a charge. This also means that, in the absence of an explicitly charge-enabled power, charging is a poor choice for non-strength-based characters, even if they're melee characters. –  Burrito Al Pastor Mar 13 '11 at 7:34
Just make sure to get the Badge of the Berserker - don't provoke OA while charging. –  Eugene Katz Sep 12 '11 at 16:46
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I think you're confusing some things here.

Let's compare the basic rules for charging in 3e[D20SRD] and 4e[DDI]:

  • Action type + maximum charging distance:
    • 3e: full-round action; up to twice your speed
    • 4e: standard action; up to your speed
  • Movement restrictions:
    • 3e: must move at least 10 ft and each movement must bring you closer to the target
    • 4e: must move at least 2 squares and each movement must bring you closer to the target
  • Attack restrictions:
    • 3e: single attack or bull rush with +2 bonus to the attack/ability check
    • 4e: single melee basic attack or bull rush with +1 bonus to the attack
  • Other restrictions:
    • 3e: no 5 ft step allowed in the same round; -2 penalty to AC until start of next turn
    • 4e: turn automatically ends unless you want to take free actions (like e.g. spending an Action Point)

Both variants have advantages and drawbacks. In 3e you can e.g. activate a swift-action item or spell after your charge, while in 4e you're prohibited from using a (comparable) minor action after the charge. In 4e you can spend your move action to shift (= take a 5 ft step) out of a threatened area or get into a better position before the charge, while in 3e you have to accept the AoO or the blocked path/bad attack position.

But the 4e charging rules are certainly not over the top compared to the 3e charging rules. The restriction to a melee basic attack may even leave charge a much worse choice for a non-strength based character, depending on power ("can be used as a melee basic attack" / "can be used as an attack during a charge") and feat (*cough*Melee Training*cough*) selection.

Because melee combatants in 3e were generally based on Strength (ignoring the common exceptions like rogue, bard, ... for a moment) and made only "basic melee attacks" charging was often a good way to close a large distance and still get a powerful attack through. In 4e, however, melee characters are based on a huge variety of attributes (Fighter: Strength; Rogue: Dexterity; Battlemind: Constitution; Swordmage: Intelligence; Avenger: Wisdom; Bard: Charisma) and melee basic attacks are still based on Strength which makes melee basic attacks usually a bad choice for characters not based on Strength.

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+1 Great analysis. I ended up house-ruling the Pathfinder's charge to make it equivalent to the 4th edition's one. It's working pretty well and circumvents the "I can prepare a partial charge when I'm limited in my set of actions, but not in normal conditions" paradox. –  Erik Burigo Mar 13 '11 at 12:17
I thought 3e charges required straight line, instead of simple "closer movement" –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 13 '11 at 23:46
@Brian: Good point. 3e charges require you to have a "clear path" to your target and move to the closest location from which you can attack. Since distances in 3e are measured in feet and not in squares there's geometrically speaking no way you can move without getting closer with each movement. Charging around opponents or obstacles is explicitly prohibited in the paragraph explaining the "clear path" so there's little left how you can move at all. –  user660 Mar 14 '11 at 6:41
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No you did not miss anything, charging is a standard action. you can't do anything after it but before you can reposition to get the charge and what not, there are barbarian builds that rely on this as a mode to get higher accuracy and damage.

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Charge is broken. It would be less broken if a) you didn't get +1 to the MBA or b) you didn't get in essence a "free" move action. Both a plus to hit AND the free move means the move is broken.

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Welcome to RPG.SE! I dispute the idea that charge is broken. There are four tradeoffs you make when you charge: You have to disengage from your current oponent, so either you are shifting or you are eating an opportunity attack. You have to make an MBA attack, which is likely less damaging than another at-will (the move and +1 to hit balance this a bit), and finally it automatically ends your turn (obviously exceptions apply). Finally you must move at least 2 squares and all moves must be toward your target. These limits keep it relatively balanced. –  wax eagle May 7 '12 at 14:01
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