I stopped into a local game shop with my friend Erik on Saturday. He was looking for some minis and I was thinking about picking up a module or maybe a new guide book. After looking around for a bit, I saw a red box on a shelf. It was the new D&D Essentials Starter Set. I didn’t think it had been released yet (and according to Wizards website, it’s not out til 9-7-10). I quickly looked it over. I had heard a lot of rumors about the new Essentials line of products. Everything from it being D&D 4.5e, to a whole new game, to a throwback to old style D&D. I bought it and took it home to give it a once over.
It comes with 2 books, some maps, a sheet of tokens for players, monsters, etc, and a set of dice. The first book is for players. It is basically a ‘choose your own adventure’ book to help you decide what type of character you want to be. I choose the wizard class and the book takes you through a battle with some goblins. You continue to make choices and it instructs you to fill out your character sheet as you go according to the choices you make. The second book is the DM’s book and has basic rules, a selection of monsters, and some encounters. It presents the rules in a way that you could read them over with your friends and have a game going in a short amount of time. The boxed set only takes you up to level 2, but they are releasing more supplements over the next few months that will take characters up to level 30. It really reminds me of the boxed sets my mom got me when I was a kid (pictured above along with the new set).
I was skeptical at first when I read the rumors about what this would be doing to the game. Every time something new is released, there is always a group that cries “you’re ruining my game” (I was one of these when 4e came out). I have changed my opinion of it. I think it is a great way to get new players into the game. With all of the books out now (3 player’s handbooks, 3 monster manuals, etc) I think it can get very confusing trying to build a character for new players. There are just too many choices. I think its a great way to introduce new players to D&D. It could also be used to veteran players who want things to be a little simpler.