Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
wow. and essential essentials product
on 12 November 2010
This is the first of the Essentials product range that I actually feel betters the classic range.
Lets summarise the contents first:
320 page monster-vault book.
Monster tokens - made of decent thick card and double-sided (the rear is redder to represent a monster when bloodied) circular tokens to represent all the monsters in the book. Ten sheets of 'em. Including some nice rings that you can use to up the size of large monster to huge.
32-page adventure and a single double-sided battle-mat.
Oh, and some cardboard spacers, but actually not just there to waste space.
The book presents 63 monster (species/type/races) plus a few pages of basic, common-or-garden, animals (e.g. Horse and Dog). For each species of monster you get a page or two of overview text and then the individual monster stats, four or five flavours of each species (so, four angels, five different basilisks etc). The text doesn't actually seem to be a copy-and-paste from the monster manual; it lacks the 'skill checks to know stuff' that the MM has, but has, I feel, more meat to each entry. The contents is a variety of the favourites from (it seems to me) Monster Manual I and MM II. If you own those weighty tomes then you probably don't need this, annoyingly the mix _is_ different so we should expect another monster vault to arrive in the near future to add the extras. I see a 'monsters of the nentir vale' is planned.
The tokens rock. I've bought (on average) a box of D&D minis a month for the last couple of years, but these tokens have a greater spread of usefulness than the collection of minis I've built up. For someone with a smaller budget than me the tokens in this box will give you all you need for the next few years of play. The tokens don't say what they are for, but the pictures match the illustrations in the book. So, as I said, really useful and well planned.
The adventure is, well, like the adventures slipped in with all the Essentials boxes rather on the skinny side; the poster map has one really good side and one side just made up from dungeon floor plans, but that doesn't stop it being useful, just stops it being as worthwhile. I probably wont run this adventure with either of my groups, but I'm sure I'll find use for some of the content.
I think that if you are a blossoming DM and you don't have the MM, if you don't have any investment in miniatures, you'll find this one of the best better-part-of-twenty-quids you'll ever spent on D&D products. If you have MM & MMII/III then you'll only get minimal use of the book. Nonetheless I'm giving this five stars. Had to happen sometime.