So, a little while ago I heard someone mention that Hachette Partworks were creating a new weekly D&D magazine.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the concept, Hachette does lots of these kind of ‘collectible magazine’ type of things (for example it might be a magazine where you build a scale model of the Titanic – and you get a few new parts to assemble with each issue, along with some history and background information to read through OR it might be a magazine all about cross-stitching – with new patterns and materials in each issue) – however, as gamers, the ones that are usually of interest to us are the Warhammer ones.
In these Warhammer ‘partworks’ you’ll usually get models, paints, brushes, etc. included with each issue – and if you collect the entire series you’ll end up with all the rules you’ll need to play, and two massive armies (sometimes with a bunch of terrain as well).
However, they can be rather expensive (when you total up how much you’ll end up spending to get the entire collection) – but the first issue is usually super cheap (usually £1.99 or £2.99 – just to grab your attention) – and these are definitely worth picking up just for the models alone (even if you have no intention of collecting the entire set).
For example, all of these were included in issue 1 of one of the Warhammer ones that I picked up from the local newsagent a couple of years back… all for a mere £2.99!
So, as you can imagine, I was rather interested to see what would be included in this new D&D ‘partwork’ that they were releasing.
However, I couldn’t find it on sale anywhere – and neither could anyone else I know (and not just locally, folks in other towns, folks from the UK in my discord server, etc. - no-one could find it in any of their local stores).
So, in the end I decided I’d bite the bullet and subscribe through the Hachette website – with the aim of checking out a few issues (for SCIENCE!) – just to see what kind of thing they had in mind for it… and then report back here.
However, as I’ve since discovered, Hachette will often do short trial runs of each partwork (usually 4 issues), and only make them available in small quantities (and only in selected areas).
So, it would seem that the reason that no-one could find it was because it was still in the trial phase, and wasn’t on general release yet.
Now, I have to admit that this was NOT pointed out on their website when I subscribed (there it says that 80 issues are planned) – so I was a little surprised when I got this e-mail:
Anyway, true to their word, issue 1 arrived the other day – with a similar cover letter…
...and since I’ve had a few days to look at it, I thought I’d give you my thoughts.
First of all (and prominently displayed) are the dice:
And these are exactly what you’d expect – though the style of the numbers is similar to the D&D font – and that’s a nice touch. Plus they also come in a little (aluminium?) tobacco-style tin. So yeah, I quite like them (worth the cover price alone).
You also get four pre-generated characters on a nice, thick, double-sided, satin paper – which again, are nice things to have.
In addition to the main magazine you also get a little introduction booklet that explains the kind of things you’ll be getting…
...and a small ‘combat booklet’ that details some of the things you can do in combat – which comes with an example of play (which, unfortunately, has a few basic errors):
And, as for the magazine itself, it’s a bit of a difficult one for me to judge to be honest – because, as I’m already familiar with D&D 5e (and have been playing RPGs for decades), all of the explanations make perfect sense to me. However, if I were a complete newbie to RPGs in general, I might be a little confused. But like I say, it’s a hard thing to judge (and probably harder still to pull off) – but I think there’s probably enough there to pique new folks’ interest.
Also, as you probably saw, there’s a short adventure/encounter in the back too – not much more than a combat encounter (a variation of the good old fashioned ‘rats in the cellar’ that we all know and love) – which is set in Phandalin (the town that features in the 5e Starter Set and Essentials Kit).
And I think there should be enough material in the magazine to run it without much fuss (though a pull-out map of the inn, to show to the players, might have been a nice inclusion).
it seems that (at least to begin with), each adventure/encounter that
appears in a particular issue will focus on slightly different elements
of play ...introducing more and more rules (and monsters) as it goes
along – which is kinda what I expected (probably a good format for this
kind of thing).
* * *
So, assuming that it does get an eventual (national) release, do I think it’s worth picking up?
Well, if you already have the 5e core rulebooks (and/or are familiar with D&D) then I still think #1 is worth getting hold of. I mean, an extra set of dice (in their own little tin) is a nice thing to have, and, as I’ve already said, a bunch of pre-generated characters are always useful. And for a cover price of £1.99, you can’t really go wrong.
And, if you’re completely new to this kind of thing, then I also think #1 is worth looking at – mainly for the same reasons. You’ll have your first set of dice, a very basic understanding of the game, and a bunch of characters to choose from if you have a local store/club that runs starter games (though, in truth, DMs who run those kind of games will normally have pre-generated characters for you to choose from anyway – but having one of your own that you can study beforehand might be more appealing to some people).
However, would I pick up the whole 80 issue series? ...well, of that, I’m not so sure. It kinda depends on what kind of thing will be included.
For example, the total cost for the entire print run would be around £630 ...and for that kind of money I would expect a lot of physical products/accessories to accompany it - kinda like one of the deluxe Beadle & Grimm’s products.
Things like handouts, poster maps, props, dungeon tiles, miniatures (or, at the very least, standees/tokens), item/monster/spell cards, and so on.
However, when I filled out their survey, aside from dice related stuff, they seemed to be more focused on merchandise (mugs, posters, apparel, etc.) than things to actually enhance the game – so I’m not sure if that’s going to be the direction they take (which is a bit of a shame).
That being said, I suppose that’s the whole point of the trial (even though I’m not keen on the way they went about it) – just to gauge interest and get feedback. However, I have raised most of these points in the aforementioned survey – so maybe things will be a little clearer (with regard to the kind of ‘accessories’ that will be included) when/if the magazine gets a full release.
TLDR: If you see #1 for sale, pick it up. For £1.99 you can’t really go wrong.