on 26 October 2007
Having slammed the pitiful "Dungeon Survival Guide" that I brought at the same time, its only fair to praise Wizards for getting this book right. Whilst you could say most of the contents are already in the core rules books, its nice to have key topics that turn up in almost all games gathered here and each given a dedicated page. Unlike the Dungeon Survival Guide, I can see this book reaching the table and being used in games when clarification of some rule is required.
on 17 October 2008
A very useful book, containing all of the basic mechanics of the D&D game in one place. However, this does highlight WoTC's poor organisation of information in the core D&D books - why couldn't it have been this easy in the first place?
That aside, it's an excellent compilation of the mechanics of D&D. It doesn't contain class based information - you'll still need your core books - it's more of a 'what happens if' book. When a question comes up at the table, you'll be able to flick through to the right place and answer it quickly without letting gameplay get too bogged down. Really essential if your gaming group tends to get a lot of rules-lawyery debates - you'll be able to find the page and say 'no, this is how attacks of opportunity/damage from falling objects/gaze attacks/grappling/whatever works.
It's intuitively organised, with topics arranged in alphabetical order, and a handy index for good measure.
It also contains some clarifications and changes to previously buggy rules, and some very interesting sidebars explaining some aspects of the design process.
All in all, I'd recommend this to anyone keen on D&D, and even recommend it as a starting player's first purchase after the 3 core books.