Monday, September 13, 2010

Red Box Report

I heard from one of my old Air Force buddies today, one who's loving life in a cozy assignment in Florida just now.  This guy's a long-time Rolemaster and D&D 3.5 player, and was part of one of the most campaigns I ever ran.  Our gaming tastes are a lot alike, from Rolemaster/MERP to the joy that is Traveller, and I respect his opinions on RPGs deeply.

Anyhow, the conversation turned towards the new D&D Essentials boxed set, and I asked him if he'd played it yet.  He said he had--apparently, one of the guys in his shop down there is a big Wizards of the Coast fan, and rounded everyone up for a quick one-shot.

To my surprise, he said it wasn't too bad.  He said 4e still wasn't his cup of tea, but he appreciated and respected how WotC was going about trying to get gamers in with the new line.  It was a pretty straightforward introduction to some of the tenets that mark 4th Edition D&D, and of course he appreciated the retro cover.

Perhaps the comment that struck me the most is how he wished WotC had taken this approach from the get-go with 4e.  Like me, he found the original Keep on the Shadowfell a poorly-designed module and intro to the game.  A couple of years later, and here we are.

I haven't read or heard anything about Essentials that makes me want to give it a shot, but I too appreciate the sentiment behind it, at least for the Boxed Set. It sounds like some other folks are taking notice as well.


Rob Conley said...

As a introduction to D&D 4e mechanics it is pretty good with a interesting dungeon, the Twisting Hall. A total novice will learn 4e from this Starter Set and have a few bits to play with before needing the full set of rules.

As intro to a roleplaying game it doesn't fare too well. As I thundered about in my review %)

Aaron said...

I gave it a pass when I saw that it only contained levels 1 and 2. But at least it has a decent price point.

I have heard that it was poorly edited, with a number of mistakes. But this was from fanboys of another system, so I'm taking that with a grain of salt. Can anyone confirm this? said...

"he wished WotC had taken this approach from the get-go with 4e."

My sentiments exactly. Since hearing about Essentials, I really wished that this was 4E. It still wouldn't have been for me, but I can really respect it. IMO, 4E wasn't the best executed idea. Essentials is the way to go.

Carpe Guitarrem said...

+1, it would've been nice if this had come first. However, I think that part of the idea of the original 4E was to try and make a transition from 3.5.

If they had released it in this form to the 3.5 crowd, they would've been all over it, in a bad way. I don't think they would've liked it at all. You think they considered 4E as it was to be "dumbed down"? The 3.5ers would've railed against this one until kingdom come.

Though it would've still sold to the old-schoolers, and to the newbies. So it seems a case of "Wizards picked their audience, and in hindsight they picked the wrong one."

Yong Kyosunim said...

I picked up the Red Box for Ye Olde Tymes Sake. 4e isn't my cup of tea, but I am a collector of sorts and got this for nostalgia's sake.

I also got the Chinese language versions of the 4e core rule books and the first 4e starter set. I should post pics when I can. said...

While I am sure you are right, Carpe Guitarrem, I would like to think that gamers would have seen this as what it is, a new intro product for the Role Playing industry. You can always add more rules to make it for the advanced player. Building on the foundation, so to speak.

I see so much of 4E as a great compromise. The alignment system speaks to that. But even the presentation format was a compromise. They made books just like 3.5. Compromising for the old crowd. Had they made a clean break and gone this way initially, yea people would complain, but the quality product would have been seen for what it is.

onlinedm said...

I can comment on the typos. There are a few cases in the "choose your own adventure" character creation section where the text tells you to write down something like a +7 to your attack on your character sheet, but the illustration of the character sheet next to it shows a +8, for instance. Also, the character options in the red box don't quite match what's in the Heroes of the Fallen Lands book (basically the Players Handbook for Essentials) - such as the red box magic missile having 1 or 2 targets while the real one only has 1 target. These are annoying, but not catastrophic. Definitely a bit sloppy and confusing, though.

Zachary Houghton said...

Well, I think it just shows the hobby's bane, typos, aren't limited to small press. WotC has had some poorly-edited products over the years as well.

Christian Lindke said...

Copy editing has long been the bane of RPGs. I remember the old (see page XX) that riddled White Wolf products, and don't get me started on Games Workshop's 40k books.

There are a couple of "doozies" in the Red Box, but they don't detract from the usefulness of the product as an intro to rpgs. It does as good a job as the old Mentzger book, though that didn't to as well as the earlier "Moldvay" or latter "Denning" editions of Basic D&D.

I like the direction they've gone with Essentials. Trying to appeal boldly to new gamers, while acknowledging the value of old gamers. It's a nice balance and something they forgot to do with the initial release.

It's a nice starting point and the moment you read a book, you see how off base "it's 4.5 comments" are.

It may not be your cup of tea, but it is a good and noble try.

As for me, I need to find time to squeeze 4e into my Savage Worlds, 3.5, and Dresden Files schedule.

mahjongg dimensions said...

i was searching for a red box report in google thanks GOD got it here.