Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Quick Word on D&D Essentials

I picked up the new "red box" the other day and have been looking at pictures of some of the upcoming releases in the "Essentials" line, and I think they've finally figured out how to deal with one of the biggest barriers to entry since the introduction of 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons: miniatures.

Prior to 3rd, miniatures were an option, and I don't think I ever used them in a game. With 3rd they were a requirement due to the changes in the combat rules, and remained so in 4th. The game always mentioned the idea of using tokens or something else if you didn't have miniatures, but marketing considerations always made them emphasize the miniatures you could get from the D&D collectible miniatures game, and prevented them from providing a more affordable alternative. Now that that game is dead, they're finally free to offer a serious alternative for new players.

The "red box" includes a sheet of full color circular tokens representing both monsters and heroes. It also includes a two-sided full color map. From pictures, I can see that the upcoming DM's kit includes at least three more counter sheets, and a couple more maps. Then the Monster Vault includes ten sheets of counters, presumably with multiples for every monster in the "vault", as well as at least one more map. Add in the new Dungeon Tiles Master Sets that they plan on actually keeping in print, and people new to the game will be able to acquire a sizable collection of full color counters and maps for a reasonable price.

That's a big deal.


Jabbott said...

We played 3.0 and 3.5 D&D for years in college without ever using miniatures or grid maps or tokens or any of that stuff.

Fulminata said...

I'm curious how you dealt with all the feats and rules dealing with such things as threatened squares and attacks of opportunity. Playing without knowing exact positioning is possible, but seems to throw off a great deal of the balance between certain feats, skills and abilities making some far more powerful and others nearly useless.

Scott said...

I've played years of RPGs both with and without minis and grid maps and etc; and it depends on the game and the situation whether those are needed or even useful. But in general, for most games, I like 'em.

I'm one of what feels like the few people who actually likes 4th edition; I like the grid and using markers or minis for 4e. However I also really enjoyed the Amber DRPG and using minis for that would be epic fail.

My memories of the original old school boxed sets are that they assumed serious gamers would have minis and get into it that far, but that the rules didn't absolutely require them 'cause they wanted money from kids like me (at the time ... I'm ancient now).

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