Showing posts with label Wizards of the Coast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wizards of the Coast. Show all posts

Friday, June 18, 2021

D&D Starter Set Review

D&D Starter Set
Design: Wizards of the Coast
Year: July 14th, 2014
Pages: 64-page adventure booklet, 32-page rule book, and character sheets.
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

You have to hand it to Wizards of the Coast; they know how to make a boxed set. As of yesterday, this set is 6 years old. And it's perfect to get started playing D&D. It contains a 64-page adventure booklet, a 32 rule book, pregenerated characters, a blank character sheet, and dice. 

As a condensed game, it has some lacks. However, with introductory sets presentation is everything. It's very nice for the retail price of $20.00. The rules are streamlined for quick play, the pregenerated sheets are good models for new characters if you wish and the 64-page adventure book is extremely nice. 

At 64 pages, The Lost Mine of Phandelver is someplace between a guidebook and double size module. It is faced towards the DM with multiple maps and sidebars to keep the game moving. 

The maps are on par with Dyson Maps, which is to say, they are very good. Unfortunately, they are printed on the pages of the book which means you need a scan and print out stuff that didn't come in the set. The artist, Mike Schley has them available for purchase on his website. It wasn't that hard to find and it is only ten bucks for perfect, ready-to-go "custom" maps. This is a far cry from the borrow and Xerox format of AD&D. 

I very much like Mike Schley's maps and the fact that Wizards of the Coast is deliberately asking you to make a purchase from a content creator rather than themselves. Mr. Schley's maps are wonderful. Besides the set of maps for this game set, new maps retail for $2-3. That's a great price for having stylish maps that all have the same design principles.  

The Lost Mines book is not only a module but a campaign setting. When combined with the driver sidebars and the second hints and suggestion on the back of the character sheets, it really is everything you need to become engrossed with this game. 

Unfortunately, it's an expansive one-shot. The DM will have to get to work making this campaign come alive from their own work or "reset" to enter the main world of D&D with new characters and settings. At 64 pages, the Adventure booklet is a little overwhelming for a 13-year-old to emulate, but for older players, it really does provide a model for creating a campaign. Those sidebars and hints are pure gold when it comes to asking probing questions and how they fit into this set of rules. 

After a while, I am sure that the players and DM will want more which is exactly the reason for this set. To sell other products. As a primer and gateway to the game system, it is remarkably well done and suitable for all kinds of players. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Quick Switch Sci-Fi - Invasion of Theed

Last week, I posted a bit about Star Frontiers. I've got a strong urge to play a Sci-Fi themed game. Star Smuggler is all played out. I'm still waiting on some friends to play Traveller, but our county just shut down due to the pandemic scatter all of us to the winds. I was going to introduce my Star Smuggler characters to the Star Frontiers worlds, but the rules are too far apart to port anything except name and general talents. 

Then I saw Invasion of Theed from 2000 sitting on my shelf. I got it for Christmas one year, poured over it for a bit and forgot about it.

Now, it's actually exactly what I am looking for. I had thought it was a super boxed set module, but it isn't. The set is basically a starter set. It's everything you need to play WotC's d20 Star Wars. They billed it as an adventure game, but it's more than that. 

In the box is two booklets, a start sheet, counters and tokens, a folio of character sheets and maps. I don't know if dice were originally included, but requires the standard D&D dice. Apparently, it also came with a Chewbacca figure, but that is long gone. 

I have a thing for maps and artwork, but this set's clear winning component is the character sheets. They are full color, two-side 11x17" sheets with all of the statistics you need plus gameplay hints. I had no idea they were this good. 

I now have the urge to buy a large format printer/scanner combo. 

I'll point you back to my review of the d20 Star Wars Core Book. I didn't set out to write a review, but this set is easily a five star product. Maybe even a five gold star product like Nate Treme's Moldy Unicorn. I don't give those out easily, maybe one every year or two. I'm pretty surprised at that, because I didn't think much of it when I received it back in 00 or 2001. 

As an abridged rule set, not much is missing. Since your using pre-genned characters, you don't need to roll anything to start. Oddly, the characters stats don't appear on the front of the sheet. And that's not bad. The front page mentions all of your combat abilities so it doesn't matter what the stats are. 

Another oddity of the rules are the lack of armor class and such. All actions are determined by "a roll". No "attack roll", no "saving", no "fortitude" stuff, just a target number and the word "roll". 

The DM facing material is the same way. Which makes this more of a complex board game or linear programed adventure. It seems very suitable for solo play, which is what I aim to do. As near as I can tell, every simplified rule conforms with the Core Rules, which is nice. 

May the force be with you...
... And so with you.