It’s not often that I have the opportunity to defend something in 5E, but the downtime system merits special attention. It’s the first mechanic I’ve seen where the startlingly supportive comments are approaching or beyond 50% dissent. This surprises me.
Of all the complaints I’ve heard about D&D in the years I’ve played it, the most common is that it’s too focused on combat, especially miniatures-based combat, at the expense of non-combat mechanics. Classes are balanced around fighting first and everything else second. 4E was especially heinous in this regard, with all classes turned into slightly-different versions of each other and all narrative elements left fully up to the players, and the fanbase revolted. So when Wizards designs a system to deal with the explicitly non-combat downtime in a way that fits with the standard D&D rules, why it is so strongly decried?
Why are there shouts of “This shouldn’t be reduced to rolling or skills!”, and where were these people when players were clamoring for rules for adjudicating non-adventuring roleplay?
Why are there shouts of “This will ruin the narrative!”, and where were these people when D&D was lambasted for forcing players to form their own narrative?
Why are there shouts of “This should be the DM’s job!”, and where were these people when the official message boards were full of players complaining about DMs who couldn’t handle non-combat situations and DMs, especially new DMs, who were looking for guidance?
If you’re going to bash D&D for being combat-focused, then bash D&D for focusing on something other than combat, maybe you’re the unpleaseable fanbase that prompts such changes in the first place.