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4.5 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 28 August 2013
The monster vault(essentials) is packed full of content.Firstly a level four adventure that has some really interesting "set pieces" and ideas for further encounters.Secondly ten card sheets of monster(animals and humans also) tokens that should keep any DM busy for a while.The actual book is good quality and has the latest stat blocks and artwork for the majority of the content.There are some omissions from previous monster manuals but this doesn't detract from the product.The double sided map has the first main encounter on one side and a dungeon on the other.Here lies an issue.Until actually reading the adventure it isn't apparent that the
dungeon map provided is only a small section of the needed area.The remainder has to be drawn or built with the dungeon tile master pack(getting more expensive and harder to get by the month).If the product is aimed at the new player/DM then this is a confusing omission as the starter box and DM kit have complete maps.The reasonable price is negated by having to fork out extra to complete the floor plan. Looking at various sellers the essentials range varies from reasonable pricing and availability (as in this case)to nearly impossible to get (DM kit-Rules compendium) and down right disgraceful pricing (Rules compendium-second hand £115---DM kit-£58)from various sellers in the UK and USA.If you can get this product for around £20,then go for it.I doubt you'll be disappointed,just insure your willing to buy more "bits".As a foot note I have purchased the Starter box(£12.95) and this set and use downloaded adventures(PDF files) and some rule books(PDF Files) to run my games.You don't have to spend a lot to play this game.Imagination is the main thing....enjoy.
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on 17 November 2011
So, having seen a number of reviews about the essentials line from wizards, I was a little wary of purchasing. The monster vault though seems to be universally acknowledged as the best of the range and as I need some way to signify my enemy pieces, I decided to splash out and get it anyway.

It came in the post today (I'll not go into contents, as you can see them on a number of other reviews) and I was happy to find that one point which had been illustrated to me was something I'd misunderstood; People had said that the tokens had more monsters on the back.

Now I'd taken that to mean that if you turned them over, there would be different enemy pictures on the other side, but they are actually the same enemies with a different coloured (yes, I'm a Brit) border, making it easier for me and my players to see which enemies have been defeated in combat.

Well, as I say, this is the first in the essentials range that I've looked at, and it has convinced me to think about buying the rest of the boxes in the range for my next payday. Thumbs up for this one.
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on 17 November 2010
I recetnly baught this boxset along side Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms and it's without a doubt one of the best value rpg resaurces ive ever seen, the boxset is literally crammed with tokens and other usefull gubbinz like an adventure and maps...if your a fan of the new essentials direction of D&D and a Dungoen Master or gm then this boxset is a must buy as it contains years of usefull encounters for your group.
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on 5 March 2012
So far this appears to be perfect for me, I am only just starting as a DM and painting figures is not my strong point, let alone the cost involved in getting enough to keep the game varied. There is enough of a selection that even if I don't have the exact cut-outs that I want there has so far been an alternative that works fine. There is also a small campaign inside with some really nice table top maps that are bound to be useful. Value for money this is a great investment.
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on 26 October 2012
First the book was smaller than expected, but the tokens and the box is fantastic. I really loved it. Really good quality. As for the adventure, it isn't great but with the proper modifications to it it can become a decent one. It's up to you. I am giving the product a 5/5 for the monster vault, tokens and box, but it drops a start because of the story. For those who aren't interested in the story than the package is a very useful vault because you have plenty of monsters (10 pages with tokens of different sizes, that can be flipped and are bloodied on the other side).
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on 20 November 2010
A satisfyingly heavy box, it contains about half a dozen sheets of high quality monster tokens, a monster vault book, an adventure for 4th level players and a dungeon sheet to play the adventure on.

The monster vault is good because it contains revised numbers that have been updated since the Monster Manual: A 4th Edition Core Rulebook (D&d Core Rulebook) (Dungeons & Dragons) was released. It also has detailed descriptions of the backgrounds for each type of monster.

For commonly used monsters such as skeletons and kobolds, there are multiple tokens. Larger monsters have bigger tokens.
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on 1 January 2014
My son was very pleased with this and I was impressed by the quality and content - you do get value for money, loads of interesting information and so on.
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on 3 March 2011
Most of the D&D "Essentials" line is anything but essential. But this is a truly brilliant product. You can play without it, of course, and thus it can't be called essential, but it is very useful and I would highly recommend it.

The tokens are many, varied and durable. The pictures are immediately recognisable, and there are multiple tokens for most monsters. The small, paperback monster manual that comes in the box is sufficiently packed with monsters that it could easily serve instead of the core rulebook, but it's also full of new rules and alternative monsters that it also works as a supplement to a full 4th Edition collection.

Having miniatures to represent monsters and players is a great way to play D&D 4th Edition. Miniatures are, however, expensive and take up a lot of space. To get a set of miniatures varied enough to cover an entire campaign would cost hundreds of pounds. This single purchase does it in one go. Tokens are not as good as miniatures, but they are a close second.
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on 17 March 2011
I'm very new to Dungeons & Dragons, but I decided to delve into it after I've heard how fun and imaginative it is.

I bought this hoping to get some help starting everything up and it did provide me with a lot! I was surprised how big the box was and how much stuff there was in it, I was not really expecting much when I saw the price of it.
You get a book describing various monsters and their stats, an adventure to try out, a map to play out said adventure on, and a whole heap of sheets with monster tokens.

To me this was great, I can't wait to play the adventure and learn more about monsters so I soon feel confident enough to set up my own campaigns!
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