Greetings fellow internet dwelling geeks, Bifur here. I thought I’d do a quick review of one of our latest gaming acquisitions: Dungeons and Dragons 5E Starter Set (insert truly epic crescendo style background music here…)
As you can see in this post we recently presented the (then) father to be with a shiny new set and spent a hugely enjoyable afternoon playing the game (whilst drinking…lots).
The reason I wanted to write a review for it was to try and give a bit of balance to the reviews I was reading when I was looking into buying the game; the majority of which were not exactly complementary. Generally people’s issue seemed to consist of the fact that the set wasn’t in depth enough and carried no character creation mechanic.
I’ll go more in depth into my answer to these criticisms later but in brief: It was almost the lack of these two things which made this such a successful enterprise.
Unboxing: Watching Dwalins little large and hairy face light up as he ripped off
the cellophane and spread the contents of the box across the table was an easy win for me. The set comes with a (simplified) rulebook, an adventure book, 5 pre generated characters and a set of dice (D4 up to D20), all good quality printing and nicely presented. The set is cheap as anything (expect to pay no more than £15) so it’s worth a punt even if you’ve not tried DnD before.
“Pre – generated characters? Boring!!” I hear you cry. Normally I’d agree with you but you know what? This is a starter set, by cutting out the character generation step you save soooo much time. We had two guys playing today who had never played any role-playing games and pretty much never any geek orientated gaming (both play poker with us and one has played a couple of games of Munchkin (is it ironic that he’s played the parody before the original?) and character generation can be a long, confusing and frankly boring stage for the uninitiated. The pre generated guys (or girls) are all laid out on nice sheets, with summaries of abilities and bonuses shown clearly and include a good couple of paragraphs worth of background for each character for you to build on (we mostly ignored this and made st up, I doubt anyone is surprised to hear this). After ten minutes of messing about reading our character sheets, making up silly names for ourselves and rolling for genitalia size (What? Don’t you fucking judge us! Only Freud can do that) we jumped straight into the adventure (or Dwalin’s twisted and slightly perverse version thereof).
The simplified rulebook is exactly that, a highly condensed version of the full tomes which gives you everything you need to get to the monster bashing. It includes all the basic rules you need around taking test, combat and spell casting (including a list of spells for the Wizard and Cleric characters to choose from). The book was easy to use; both Dwalin and I had experience with the DnD system but neither of us had played since the second edition, so there had been changes in the following three editions and we picked these up easily. The pre-generated character sheets kept combat simple as they showed you all the to hit roll bonuses and damage amounts for you characters so the two newbies picked it up as we went along.
The adventure book is the DMs bible for this game, it includes not only a step by step series of adventures for the heroes to embark upon but also a whole bestiary of bizarre beasties for this adventure or any other the DM would care to put together, obviously there
are many more monsters in the DnD universe but the Starter Set comes with more than enough to keep the adventures busy (or dead…). I can’t comment too much on the content of the adventures themselves held within the book as I am a player in this particular campaign so to avoid spoilers I haven’t looked at them in any great detail. This being said it’s full of nice pictures, maps and diagrams; all of which I’m sure contributed to Dwalins excellent DMing on the day.
To the myriad of detractors of this little box I say this: This is a starter set, it’s designed for those who haven’t played DnD before or, as in our case, for those who have played before to refresh their interest and introduce new players to the game.
If you want the whole in depth experience (character creation, all of the spells and all of the monsters) then buy the three main books (LINK), we will be.
This starter set has managed to get two new people hooked on role-playing, these fine examples of humanity had not only never played before but were part of the majority who looked at role-playing and role-players with a sense of fascination, confusion and slight derision. Playing the starter set changed this, these two guys now love role-playing nearly as much as Dwalin and I (and I suspect that DnD may become a regular occurrence during our very manly and not at all homoerotic evenings of drinking and gaming)
For beginners (or groups looking to bring in new blood) SFJY gives the Dungeons and Dragons 5E Starter Set a resounding four and a half glowing green genitals out of five. Grab a copy and play it with friends, you have nothing to loose except you free time…
However for veterans of the system who are looking to make the jump to the new edition SFJY gives the Set a slightly grudging two and a half glowing green genitals out of five. It’s a set to see if you like Role-playing, if you already know you do buy the full books.
Freud judges those who accidently set fire to the town with careless use of the burning hands spell…