OK then, as promised, here’s a quick look at what’s contained in issue two of this new D&D themed ‘partwork’ by Hachette…
So, as you can see in the picture above, this second installment contains another set of dice, and a large map (in addition to the magazine).
And if I start things off by taking a quick look at the dice…
...they’re pretty much what you’d expect them to be – they’re a standard set of seven dice in the clear ‘gem’ style – but they also have little flecks of micro-glitter (or some-such) within them – which gives them a bit of a pearlescent sheen when the light catches them.
And, as for the map…
It’s the same overland map that you can find in the D&D Essentials Kit – but this time it’s much larger (the original was roughly A2 in size – this one is more like A1), plus it’s also printed on thicker paper/card (think of it being similar to one of the Paizo flip-mats – but without the wipe clean surface).
Here it is pictured alongside the 'essentials' map – just so that you can get a better idea of how big it actually is:
So, if you plan on running the ongoing campaign featured in these magazines (or would like to add it to your original starter set, or the new Phandelver book that’s just come out), then it will probably be a very useful thing to have. However, unlike the one in the Essentials Kit – it is only single sided.
Now, onto the booklet itself…
Much like the last issue, I don’t have any issues reading through it (as it’s basically just going over things that I’m already familiar with) – but I’m still not quite sure if jumping around from one subject to another will be helpful or confusing to someone who is totally new (hopefully someone who is new will be able to clarify that).
For example, this issue jumps from inspiration, to resting, and then to spellcasting in short order... and then muddies the waters a little by stating that you shouldn’t confuse regular inspiration with bardic inspiration… but also not to worry about that… because they’re not covering bards yet (which begs the question - why bring it up then?*)
*note that the reason I think they bring stuff like this up, is because of the repeated reference to ‘making your own characters on D&D beyond’ – rather than just sticking with the pre-gens for these first few introductory scenarios.
And speaking of the scenario featured in this one…
...it doesn’t really carry on from the encounter in the first issue (other than mentioning the same fallen elven kingdom) – so it’s yet to be seen what direction they’ll be going with for the overall campaign (i.e. will it be more like the Phandelver boxed set? or more akin to the notice board quests of the Essentials Kit? or something else entirely?)
Either way, it’s a fairly simple dungeon ‘fetch quest’ - with a couple of things to fight, and a couple of skill checks to be made.
It’s not anything to write home about – but if you’re new to RPGs, you don’t really want to start things off with anything too complicated I suppose.
One of the nice things about this one though, is that you get a player handout to give to the players… however, the downside of this is that on the reverse side are the stats for one of the monsters… one that’s meant to be a bit of a surprise. So that could have been thought out a bit better I think.
But yeah, on the whole, £4.99 is not too bad of a deal if you’re in the market for another set of dice and a poster map of the Phandelver region of the Sword Coast.
* * *
I’ll now move on to the ‘free gift’ that you get as a subscriber bonus…
...and, as you can see, it’s a nice faux-leather style dice tray with neat stitching. It’s the kind of thing where you can un-pop the press-studs and fold flat – which makes it easy to store and transport.
So, much like the dice, there’s not much more to say about it. It’s the kind of thing that does a job, and does it well IMO. It’s a nice thing to have.
* * *
So, to sum up, what do I think overall.
So far, these first two issues seem like a pretty good deal – even though for me personally, I don’t have much use for the booklets (but I’m not really the target audience now am I). And while I have been sent this first delivery packet for free (as I said, this is because I took part in the previous trial), I would have still bought these first couple of issues anyway.
And if you’re a new player (or part of a new group) I think these first two issues are probably a good purchase... even if you’ve already got one of the starter boxes - as a couple of extra dice, more pre-gens, plus a nice overland map – all of these aren’t bad things to have.
However, these ‘partwork’ subscriptions, they do tend to be quite expensive over time – so it remains to be seen if they’ll be worth it in the long run. For me, this will largely depend on the kind of things that accompany each issue.
If, for example, each issue ends up having an encounter/adventure that can be run with minimal fuss, that’s not too bad. However, for £8.99 per issue (as that’s the price from issue 3 onwards), I would expect a lot more – miniatures/standees/tokens for PCs and monsters, maps and tiles and/or postermap encounter areas to help run the adventures, handouts and props that aren’t just a page torn out of the booklet… basically everything that I would need to run a game in a premium ‘beadle & grimm’ fashion (as this subscription is going to cost hundreds and hundreds of pounds in the long run – so it really needs to be something special to draw me in).
However, unlike other partworks, this one is a little bit vague on what you’ll actually be getting. I mean, I’m assuming that there will be ‘something’ packaged alongside each booklet (as that’s how these things usually work) – but until we know what those ‘somethings’ are, it’s going to be hard to judge its value.
As a quick example, when a ‘warhammer’ partwork is released by the same company – it usually contains something like this in the first issue…
...so that you can see everything you’ll be getting up front (which usually works out to being a reasonable saving compared to if you had bought the same items at a GW store). With this new D&D Adventurer partwork there is nothing like that so far (other than the fact that we know that there’ll be some 2D acrylic PC mini’s in #3, and a large d20 & dice bag in #4 ...plus the various ‘free gifts’ for subscribing online).
So, what am I going to do?
Since I got this first delivery for free, I’m going to pay for the subscription for next month’s four issues… and then report back to see if I think it’s going to be worth it in the long run.
And, while I have my doubts that it will be the kind of thing I’m hoping for (something akin to the ‘dungeon in a box’ type of subscriptions that you can get elsewhere) – I’m still hopeful that I’ll be proven wrong :)