Around this time last year, Hachette Partworks did a trial (4 issue) release of a new D&D magazine.
At the time, they didn’t make it clear that it was only a trial (I have since found out that this is a common practice), and so I subscribed – as I thought it was an interesting idea.
However, because it was only a trial (i.e. it went on sale in a very limited area) – they didn’t actually charge you any money if you did take the time to subscribe online… but instead sent you a free (random) issue when the trial concluded (as a way of saying thank you for being part of their market research I guess).
So, that was nice… the issue I got sent was #1… and if you want to see what I thought about it back then, I have a separate blog post HERE which I wrote at the time.
Anyway, I assume the trial went well – as they’re now going ahead with a full release… and because I subscribed previously, they automatically renewed my subscription for the actual release.
And while that in itself was mildly annoying – the sweetener was that they would be sending out the first delivery for free – once again, as a thank you for taking part in the trial (so I can’t really complain).
And, true to their word, this is what turned up the other day:
...and so I thought I’d see what’s changed, and share some of my thoughts here on the blog!
So first off, it looks like issue one has been reworked somewhat. I think it still contains most of the same information, but the art and photos are different, the sections have been moved around, and stuff like that.
Noticeable changes are things like, including a reference to Gygax and Arneson this time, changing ‘races’ to ‘species’ (to be more inline with current thinking) and lots of references to D&D Beyond (there also seems to me more ‘DM tips’ sidebars in the adventure section - which is a nice addition).
And, once again, to someone like me, the contents makes perfect sense (as I’m already familiar with the system and RPGs in general) – but, just like I said last time, it’s hard to know if that will be the case for someone coming into this completely new (as it does jump around a lot). So, it would be interesting to know if anyone that’s completely new to D&D/RPGs picks this up, and is able to actually run the encounter at the end (just using this issue) without any problems (i.e. if that sound like you, then please do let me know how you get on).
A few minor quibbles from me is when they explain that 1d8 means that you roll one eight sided die, and then go on to say that 4d8 means you roll four (I think it would have been useful to clarify that you total that result, because in issue two they describe advantage/disadvantage as being 2d20). There's also the fact that they state that you can sketch-out/photocopy the map of the inn (for the encounter at the end of the magazine) instead of just providing it as a separate handout (I mean #1 of the similar Warhammer ‘partworks’ usually come with a small battlemat to play on – so it’s not like it's something they don’t already do in similar products).
They’ve also partially fixed the position of a trapdoor in the encounter text… so it’s now in the correct room – but they forgot to change the wording.
But yeah, one the whole it’s the same kind of thing with the ancillary booklets (i.e. their content is similar to the trial material – just switched around a bit). However they seem to have (thankfully) taken a step back with the dice you’ll be receiving… as it seems like the old plan was going to be dice, dice and more dice…
-pictured above: the trial blurb-
...whereas now they’ve broadened their horizons a little…
-pictured above: the new blurb-
...though I do fear that it’s still going to be heavily dice focused – I mean they openly state that each adventure will have it’s own colour coded dice – which seems a bit odd to me. Sure, we gamers like dice, and we sometimes buy a new set for a new campaign or a new character or a new system… but for each individual adventure? ...I can’t say I’ve ever done (or heard anyone do) something like that.
So, while I understand that front loading the subscription with dice is probably a good idea (so a group of players has enough to get started), if it ends up being dice every two or three issues – that’s a bit excessive I think.
Anyway, on the whole, my opinion has stayed the same – for £1.99, issue one is a good deal. You get a set of dice in a little tin, a little starter encounter, four pre-generated characters and enough information to pique your interest if you’re new to all of this. So you can't really go wrong!
However, as a slight aside, those similar Warhammer partworks that I
mentioned earlier – they usually have an insert that shows you exactly
what you’ll be getting over the course of all 80 issues. There is
nothing like that with this one – which is rather disappointing to be
honest (as I'm still not sure what I'll be getting if I decide to continue the subscription).
But yeah, that’s my thoughts about issue 1 (i.e. nothing has really changed)... and I’ll take a look at what’s in issue two (and also one of the ‘free’ gifts you get for subscribing) in my next post.