Combat slowness


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So in your opinion what bogs down combat the most

My opinion, its people not knowing their basic numbers up front. One vetern players would calc his to hit bonuses every time he attacked.

Another is people being distracted by cell phones.

what else?


Well, something that helps is assigning one player to keep track of init, saying who is up and who is next. And if you're "up" but you're not ready as you are texting, you delay.


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People not knowing what their own spells do, and looking them up every round.


Posts 1 and 3 are my bane, but that's just how these guys play. I've been with them nearly 30 years and I'm used to it and adjust things to accommodate the inconvenience. They'd get hammered by another group for the things I allow them to do. But, we're friends above gamers so it's no big deal for us/me.

I would like to point out that when I get to be an actual player I'm one of the most on point people you'll ever meet. My habits have never rubbed off on these guys.


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People who check out after their turn is over. These are the people who don't know about buff spells until their turn comes up, who don't know how the combat has changed since their previous turn, and who have to be notified individually that they need to make a saving throw against a party-wide effect.

When information has to be repeated multiple times, that multiplies the time those information-generating actions take. When four players have to be told, individually, what Haste does, the game slows to a crawl.

Also, bonus stacking really slows things down.

-Matt


Here's a thought: by how much would a typical game be sped up if none of the PCs were full-progression casters?

-Matt


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Kirth Gersen wrote:
People not knowing what their own spells do, and looking them up every round.

I have a rule. If you don't know what the spell does [such as having the full text written out or printed beforehand or have precisely memorized it] then you can't cast it. Your character either KNOWS the spell, or spent several minutes this morning 'memorizing'/preparing it. Part of your job as the player of a spellcaster is to have that s!!+ ready to rock on your turn.

So your option is cast a spell you do know or delay your turn while you look it up.

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Jacob Saltband wrote:
My opinion, its people not knowing their basic numbers up front. One vetern players would calc his to hit bonuses every time he attacked.

This one is one of my biggest pet peeves on the topic of slow play. The numbers that don't change from round to round (such as BAB, STRmod, etc) should already be summed and the total written down somewhere. You should never, ever, ever be caught saying "BAB +X, plus STR, so..." at the table unless you've gotten yourself into a weird situation wielding something very, very different from normal.

And yet, I have so often seen (veteran!) gamers do this. Heck, I've even had somebody with a non-first-level character roll a d20 for his attack and then just announce the die roll, then look surprised when told there are numbers that get added to it.

Quote:
Another is people being distracted by cell phones.

Actually, I've literally never had a problem with this. In fact, within my own experience, I've seen a direct correlation between being visibly tech-savvy and being on top of things when their turn came up.

Every time I see someone roll an attack die and then say "[die result] plus..." and go hunting for a number, they're following their fingertip across a paper sheet. But whenever a guy with a laptop in front of him is told it's his turn, it's almost always an immediate, "Attack that guy: *rolls* XX to hit? Okay, YY damage."

Every time I see someone announce they're casting a spell and the GM asks what kind of save or DC or whatever and the person goes "Wait, do they get a save? Let me look it up real quick..." they're almost always reaching for an old, beat-up CRB. Meanwhile, the guy with the phone/tablet/laptop is almost always offering all his vital info as part of the announcement (i.e., "Cast [spell] on [targets], DC XX [F/R/W] save or be [effect]"), sometimes so efficiently the GM needs it repeated (which they then do from memory).

Oh! Speaking of the difference between modern gamers and paper-for-lifers, here's another thing that slows down games: when every other die roll reminds them of this one time in another campaign when...

-_-'

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Temporary buffs and conditional bonuses.

Illustrated here.


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1) Not knowing your (modified) +Hit, damage, saves, and AC. Players should have a Q card with their most up-to-date stats imo. Makes life easier.

2) Not being ready for your turn and ready to drop the dice. Not paying attention during other player's turns.

3) Shaking your dice too long before rolling, or not rolling all/most of your dice in one roll.

4) Not knowing your spells and not ready to select one before your turn.


Stupid people.


I use a tablet instead of a character sheet so I keep up to date on any new things for attack and damage etc.

We have a dry erase board for who is next, buff spells, Inspire courage, etc. We used to use that little deck but the dry erase board is much better.

I do find when people don't know their own character sheets and rifle through them. There are those who know where things are at.
There are some that don't keep those sheets up to date.

There was a guy whose character sheet was 3 levels out of date and he was wondering why he wasn't hitting. He even kept it in one of those Pathfinder folders.

Sovereign Court

DrDeth wrote:
Well, something that helps is assigning one player to keep track of init, saying who is up and who is next. And if you're "up" but you're not ready as you are texting, you delay.

Oddly this was a huge slow point at my table and as GM was forced to take back initiative tracking. I have a few players who always want to do it. However, they dont get ready and delay and often get distracted and forget what round it is. Then as their turn ends they dive into sheets and books thinking of what to do next. Meanwhile, I've got a stern scowl mug aimed in their direction and eventually beller out "NEXT!!" I run initiative with an iron fist and make sure combat runs at a grip so it doesn't slow down the game these days.


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Jacob Saltband wrote:

So in your opinion what bogs down combat the most

My opinion, its people not knowing their basic numbers up front. One vetern players would calc his to hit bonuses every time he attacked.

Another is people being distracted by cell phones.

what else?

The system.


People being indecisive on what to do when their turn comes up. Even with something as simple as fighter some people struggle. I have only had one of these at my table, but it was really annoying.


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Jiggy wrote:
Jacob Saltband wrote:
My opinion, its people not knowing their basic numbers up front. One vetern players would calc his to hit bonuses every time he attacked.

This one is one of my biggest pet peeves on the topic of slow play. The numbers that don't change from round to round (such as BAB, STRmod, etc) should already be summed and the total written down somewhere. You should never, ever, ever be caught saying "BAB +X, plus STR, so..." at the table unless you've gotten yourself into a weird situation wielding something very, very different from normal.

Quote:
Another is people being distracted by cell phones.

Every time I see someone roll an attack die and then say "[die result] plus..." and go hunting for a number, they're following their fingertip across a paper sheet. But whenever a guy with a laptop in front of him is told it's his turn, it's almost always an immediate, "Attack that guy: *rolls* XX to hit? Okay, YY damage."

Every time I see someone announce they're casting a spell and the GM asks what kind of save or DC or whatever and the person goes "Wait, do they get a save? Let me look it up real quick..." they're almost always reaching for an old, beat-up CRB. Meanwhile, the guy with the phone/tablet/laptop is almost always offering all his vital info as part of the announcement (i.e., "Cast [spell] on [targets], DC XX [F/R/W] save or be [effect]"), sometimes so efficiently the GM needs it repeated (which they then do from memory).

Oh! Speaking of the difference between modern gamers and...

A custom character sheet created on Word and then printed out on you guessed it paper, speeds things up considerably. And without the need for prejudice against older gamers.

Shadow Lodge

Jiggy wrote:
Jacob Saltband wrote:

Quote:
Another is people being distracted by cell phones.

Actually, I've literally never had a problem with this. In fact, within my own experience, I've seen a direct correlation between being visibly tech-savvy and being on top of things when their turn came up.

How about calls and texting but not paying attention to the combat?? Nothing to do with tech-savvy-ness.

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wraithstrike wrote:
People being indecisive on what to do when their turn comes up. Even with something as simple as fighter some people struggle. I have only had one of these at my table, but it was really annoying.

I was GMing a game with a Barbarian once in a low-level game:

Me: "OK, it's your turn, and there's a mook right in your face. What are you going to do?"
Barbarian: *strokes chin thoughtfully for 15 seconds*
Me: "Um... so what are you doing? Don't you want to attack him?"
Barbarian: *stares intently at map for a while* "I'm trying to decide..." *breaks off to stare for a few more seconds* "...if I should rage or not..."


Jacob Saltband wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Jacob Saltband wrote:

Quote:
Another is people being distracted by cell phones.

Actually, I've literally never had a problem with this. In fact, within my own experience, I've seen a direct correlation between being visibly tech-savvy and being on top of things when their turn came up.

How about calls and texting but not paying attention to the combat?? Nothing to do with tech-savvy-ness.

I'm tech savvy, its just that I prefer to use character sheets.

I have a player in my group who pays little attention to what's going on. And it is frustrating, but that's the way he is.

Human beings are tribal by nature and when everyone is really organised the ones lagging behind do try to catch up.

And if they don't...well that's why they invented the great axe.


We recently had a setup with one investigator who handed out buffs as infusions, a mage casting buffs and a dedicated buffing bard. With all those buffs up and running combat started to slow down somewhat because having all buffs calculated at every moment was not easy anymore.

But the worst game slower in my experience are:
- players that rarely (or never) meet outside of the gaming sessions and their tittle-tattle.
- MMORPG puns and stories.

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Morzadian wrote:
A custom character sheet created on Word and then printed out on you guessed it paper, speeds things up considerably. And without the need for prejudice against older gamers.

I don't recall saying anything about gamer age, so please check your persecution complex at the door.

As for custom paper sheets, you don't have to tell me: I designed some of my own. Would've probably kept using them, but the computer the Word file was on died, and I hadn't printed a stockpile in advance. :/


wraithstrike wrote:
People being indecisive on what to do when their turn comes up. Even with something as simple as fighter some people struggle. I have only had one of these at my table, but it was really annoying.

This, so much this! Every freaking battle.

Also I have the armchair general who spends forever trying to persuade everyone else to join in his grand battle plan.


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If the dm is firm and players lose their turns if they tarry too much, you can remove hesitation and indecision.

Especially if they have horrendously bad luck, and their character gets crit while they were loafing about with a gormless look on their faces.


I have to second the "people trying to decide what to do" thing. Here's my mandate to my players: we have a whiteboard on which everyone's initiatives are listed. I have another player running it but will let folks know where we are in a round and let the next guy know they're "on deck." If you're not ready to go on your initiative I'm still going to count to 30, then you've delayed til after the next PC goes. So:

GM: ok, top of the round. Druid, you're up; Hunter, you're on deck.

Druid: Ok, umm...

GM: *with his fingers* 1...2...3...

Druid: Ok... right... there's 3 kobold snipers behind the rocks... Move action: pull myself up on shore... to here *moves mini to a square on the map* and then start casting Summon Nature's Ally.

GM: Ok. The druid hauls up out of the murk, speeds across open ground to duck behind a low hedge and begins muttering in the druidic tongue. Hunter; you're up. Barbarian: you're up after the hunter, then it's the kobolds.

Hunter: ummm...

GM *starts counting*

Hunter ...

GM *finishes counting* Ok; hunter will go after the barbarian. Barbarian, you're up...

Between that and folks not knowing what their feats/powers/spells do, I'm surprised we get through any combat at all.

Players have gotten mad at me for delaying but honestly I'm up front with them about what's going to happen and I tell them WHY I'm doing it, so I don't feel too bad. When every fight, even an APL -1 degenerates into a chess match/game of scrabble where every action is calculated and every option is researched real time the game is no fun anymore.

Spell cards. An updated character sheet. Pre-determined bonuses. These should be mandatory in front of any player when playing live.

Oh, and @DMCal - yet another similarity between us. When playing as a player I'm always conscious of who the guy before me in initiative is and what they're doing; when my turn comes I'm usually already rolling my attack and potential damage AS I'm describing my PC's actions. I also can usually tally off for the GM all the situational modifiers: bard song in the background, charge bonus, penalty for squeezing, etc. so they know where my final To Hit number comes from. I think GMs think I'm too controlling but my turn is usually over in about 2-5 minutes.


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Unless there's a fight involving large numbers of combatants in unusual terrain, I don't use miniatures on a battlemat. This speeds up combat immeasurably, because you don't have people debating over where to move their dolls.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Unless there's a fight involving large numbers of combatants in unusual terrain, I don't use miniatures on a battlemat. This speeds up combat immeasurably, because you don't have people debating over where to move their dolls.

We rarely use a battlemat or minis. We have a whiteboard that we drag out if necessary to mark positions and movement.


Can confirm whiteboard is much much better than miniatures. We have a compact one we use, so it fits nicely on tables.


Mine is a little unwieldy, being 2x3 feet in size. But hey, I got it for a buck at a yard sale.


wraithstrike wrote:
People being indecisive on what to do when their turn comes up. Even with something as simple as fighter some people struggle. I have only had one of these at my table, but it was really annoying.

I've noted that I sometimes have indecision problems, however I noticed it shows up when my side is at a disadvantage, especially after critical hits or when I only have one spell slot left. It's probably a leftover of the anxiety problems I had as a kid as these situations are usually accompanied by internal screamings of "what the hell do I do?!"


DM Under the Bridge wrote:


Can confirm whiteboard is much much better than miniatures. We have a compact one we use, so it fits nicely on tables.
DungeonmasterCal wrote:


Mine is a little unwieldy, being 2x3 feet in size. But hey, I got it for a buck at a yard sale.

My group uses a 3x4 battlemat, under a clear plastic sheet, covering the whole table. This enables us to just draw on the table whenever someone uses buffs. (And also write down Barbarian attack patterns if necessary [I can't Maths at all after 11pm]).

This works surprisingly well when paired with Combat Manager.


We own a battlemat, but we don't have a table large enough to use it on, really. I have a couple of folding card tables, one of which I use for my GM stuff and the other becomes the snack table. Everyone sits on couches and rolls their dice on their books or in one case, in a bowl.


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Everyone's experience varies with "theater of the mind" versus battlemats and minis. My own personal experience has been that when I don't use some visuals my players get bogged down in "where am I? How far away is the goblin? Are there any ledges or niches in the wall?" etc.

I can manage as fast if not faster combats if I just take a few seconds to draw it out with a marker and put something, whether its minis or dice or SOMETHING to represent the villains. The slowness comes from those individual players who, regardless of the medium used consider themselves chess masters moving pawns into the PERFECT position.

Seriously. Yes, you have a sleep spell; sometimes it won't catch ALL the villains, no matter where you drop it. Yes, you have feats that let you ignore difficult terrain; no matter where you charge you won't be able to cleave ALL the monsters next round. The point is you need to be able to make a course of action, commit to it and trust that, if your move wasn't perfect your other team members can pick up your slack.

The bottom line in any fight regardless of level or power is simply to be able to do 1/4 of all HP damage in a round w/out dying. Are you facing one big dragon with 400 HP? Then your party needs to dish out 100 per guy from the 4 of you. Wizard can only drop 60? That's fine; the fighter can throw 140, so you're covered.

On the other hand if you're a 2nd level party facing off against 8 goblin warrior 1 villains, your wizard probably can't deal 10 pts of damage but they have a Sleep spell that can take out 2 of goblins. You'll WANT to angle it and finagle like 7 of them into the area of effect but so long as you catch 2, you're good.

TL/DR: battlemats are ok sometimes and players might be faster if they just worried about handling 1/4 of a fight and didn't sweat the rest.


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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Unless there's a fight involving large numbers of combatants in unusual terrain, I don't use miniatures on a battlemat. This speeds up combat immeasurably, because you don't have people debating over where to move their dolls.

My observed experience is that without any representation of position people spend as long asking where they are and what's within reach as they do fumbling around working out where to move with the battlemat. Speed comes from something more abstract rather than anything which has precise positioning that then doesn't get implemented. YMMV.


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Jacob Saltband wrote:

So in your opinion what bogs down combat the most

My opinion, its people not knowing their basic numbers up front. One vetern players would calc his to hit bonuses every time he attacked.

Another is people being distracted by cell phones.

what else?

  • People who wait until it is their turn to start thinking about what they want to do.
  • People who don't roll their damage dice with their "to hit" die.
  • People who don't know their numbers and have to "add it all up" each and every turn with each and every attack.

Note: I can understand forgetting a flank bonus or possibly a buff bonus. That's fine. But to sit back and have to add BaB, Str bonus (or Dex) pulling out fingers and toes then have to do the same thing again with an iterative attack is just maddening.

I have about five or six sets of dice in different colors (I gradually built up the collection) so when I play my melee guy, I roll ALL the attacks and damage (usually while the guy or girl ahead of me is taking their actions) and put it all together before the GM calls my initiative. All I have to do is confirm that I hit and give the damage. 20 seconds and done (just like sex LOLOLOLOLOL).

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Zurias wrote:
Jacob Saltband wrote:

So in your opinion what bogs down combat the most

My opinion, its people not knowing their basic numbers up front. One vetern players would calc his to hit bonuses every time he attacked.

Another is people being distracted by cell phones.

what else?

  • People who don't roll their damage dice with their "to hit" die.

This one doesn't bother me so much, because I've seen the ugly version of the alternative.

Player 1: "I attack." [starts shaking d20 in dice cup, is about to roll when...]
Player 2: "Put your damage die in there! It'll be faster!"
Player 1: [Hunts in his pile of dice for a d10, picks up a d12, examines it for a few seconds, starts to put it in dice cup]
Player 2: "No that's the wrong one. You need the d10."
Player 1: [Hunts for several more seconds, finally finds the right one, adds it to his dice cup, shakes for a couple of seconds] "Wait, what was my attack bonus again?" [Hunts on character sheet for several seconds to remind himself what he was about to roll in the first place, then rolls] "I got a 2. I miss."


Sure I can see how that would happen. But ya gotta learn good habits to overcome the bad ones. If I see the person is actually trying save time, I help em out (before it's their turn).


Bluenose wrote:
My observed experience is that without any representation of position people spend as long asking where they are and what's within reach as they do fumbling around working out where to move with the battlemat. Speed comes from something more abstract rather than anything which has precise positioning that then doesn't get implemented. YMMV.

Exactly so with us.

Once we put in a battlemat 20 years ago during 2e, combats immeasurably sped up.


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I'm picturing trying to play 4E without a battlemat or grid and cringing.

Of course, 4E had pretty slow combats because it was initially designed to have slow combats. (Monsters with lots of HP who dealt chip damage and obnoxious status effect. Such as the elder blue dragon that dealt 1d6+6 damage + stun in a decent AoE. Vs. PCs with nearly 200 Hp. Yeah. At least monster design got significantly better as the system went on.)

Personal peeve is when people are paying so little attention that they need the battle explained every time their turn comes up.

There's usually a cell phone or other handheld device involved when that happens.


Bluenose wrote:
My observed experience is that without any representation of position people spend as long asking where they are and what's within reach as they do fumbling around working out where to move with the battlemat. Speed comes from something more abstract rather than anything which has precise positioning that then doesn't get implemented. YMMV.

I tend to trust the players a lot. If someone announces they're moving into flanking position, I let them, unless I previously described them as being in an elevator or a closet or something. If they're in a tavern and someone announces they jump onto a table, I assume the table is there and they go ahead and roll the check. Etc.


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Yeah...you guys would tear my group to shreds... lol.. like I've said before, they're just slow; always have been. Hell, I have one guy that even after all these years I STILL have to remind how to calculate his spells' saving throws.

I think if this were a more casual gaming group (and by that I mean people who aren't such close friends as we are) I'd be pretty hacked off most of the game. But that's just how this group has always been for nearly 3 decades now. I just roll with it. Oh, and there are no cell phones or computers to interrupt play. One of my guys only recently got his first cell phone and it's not a smart phone, so there's no reason to play with it. The other guy keeps his in a tupperware container and doesn't even turn his on unless he plans to use it for "emergencies". And no one in my group brings a computer. Hell, one of them doesn't even own one.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

For my table, it's the spellcasters that tend to bog things down. Especially if they have scrolls of spells they don't use very often.

For me, it's the divine casters that are the worst of the worst, as they have access to every spell on their spell lists to choose from, and then aren't that familiar with what they do.

Druid: I cast contagion on the enemy fighter.

GM: Okay, um... wait. Isn't that a melee touch spell? You're 40 feet away.

Druid: Oh, sorry. I thought it was short range. flips through rulebook Oh. You're right. Instead, I move to there and cast summon nature's ally to summon a dire badger. It goes here and attacks...

GM: Wait... summon nature's ally has a 1-round casting time. You can't move and cast a spell with a 1-round casting time.

Druid: Oh. Right. Lemme see... hmmm... flips through rulebook more.

GM: *sigh* Okay, you delay action. Barbarian?


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What slows down my table?

Arithmetic.


I will absolutely five-millionth the "unprepared player" as one of the most severely irksome elements. Followed by " I do my adds in my head ". Ah, no. You have a character sheet with nice squares/spaces/spots for your totals to sit in. If I can't ask for your sheet to look at something and find all those cute little [ ] things filled in, I am going to be pissed. Most commonly, I 'blue light' the character until the player fills in those [ ] things.

Tracking temporaries is one thing - not filling out the running around totals is prime fodder for errors. Amusingly, those errors are more often to a player's detriment, in my experience.


Bluenose wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Unless there's a fight involving large numbers of combatants in unusual terrain, I don't use miniatures on a battlemat. This speeds up combat immeasurably, because you don't have people debating over where to move their dolls.
My observed experience is that without any representation of position people spend as long asking where they are and what's within reach as they do fumbling around working out where to move with the battlemat. Speed comes from something more abstract rather than anything which has precise positioning that then doesn't get implemented. YMMV.

In 2E we did fine without a battlemap for years... In Pathfinder I'm not even sure how that would work!?! There are SOOOOOO many rules/feats/options/tactics that assume you're using one.

Do you guys cut out the AoO? Five-foot step? Flanking? reach?

Admittedly, I'm not a FAN of the glorified Chess board approach, but it really seems required in this system O.o


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phantom1592 wrote:
Bluenose wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Unless there's a fight involving large numbers of combatants in unusual terrain, I don't use miniatures on a battlemat. This speeds up combat immeasurably, because you don't have people debating over where to move their dolls.
My observed experience is that without any representation of position people spend as long asking where they are and what's within reach as they do fumbling around working out where to move with the battlemat. Speed comes from something more abstract rather than anything which has precise positioning that then doesn't get implemented. YMMV.

In 2E we did fine without a battlemap for years... In Pathfinder I'm not even sure how that would work!?! There are SOOOOOO many rules/feats/options/tactics that assume you're using one.

Do you guys cut out the AoO? Five-foot step? Flanking? reach?

I can't speak for any of them, but I do battlefield of the mind all the time and keep all of it. Battlefield of the mind is just that... in the mind. I've had far more vivid battles in my own head than on a battlemat, the key is communicating those details in a way that the party can comprehend exactly what is going on and where everything is.

[It also helps if the GM fudges just a little in the Player's favor in regards to positioning. It was your job to paint the scene in their heads and if they're 'close enough' I let it slide. Note however this is coming from a GM who never fudges dice.]


I'm very much on the side that having a battle map speeds things up particularly as I play in a party of six. I think the key to efficient combat (and general game play) is know your character. It might be stating the obvious but knowing your characters capabilities and how key features work can make a huge difference. Making a 'cheat sheet' with key information on can help. As an arcanist I keep a number of prepared spell lists which I select one of at the start of the day. Along with spells prepared the sheet also includes number of casts per day and the spell DCs so there's no need to calculate them in combat. The spells themselves are printed out and organised by level, school and alphabetically on numbered pages.

Personally I found the using 'forge of combat' concept as a guideline to be particularly helpful in accelerating my own decision making process. Having a good sense as to what my opening move will be and how other players might interact with it is important as I nearly always go first so I have less time to plan my actions.

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