Over the weekend during a monthly Lamentations of the Flame Princess Game run by a good friend, I was gifted the recently available D&D Starter Set for the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules set. I was very excited to get this as I had already planned on purchasing it on Amazon, where you can currently get it for under $12.
Since this is a major release of one of the original role playing games, I am going to review this, step by step, in a kind of a walk through. This first article in this series covers the presentation of the game. It will go into much greater detail than the final review, but Ill link back to these individual posts.The D&D Starter Set comes in a bookcase friendly, solid box. The image you see here of the box is slightly digitally enhanced and a little bit less bright in hand. That is a good thing – it doesn’t particularly project that it belongs to any particular age group, though the box lists the user age at 12+.
The bottom of the box shows all of the components, features some professional art of an ogre, the dungeonsanddragons.com domain name and a plug for the three hardback books Player’s Handbook (R), Dungeon Master’s Guide (R) and Monster Manual (R). Yes, they’ve registered these as trademarks. What I think is remarkable also is that these are not referred to as a part of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons – a separate game. There is only one game, and the D&D Starter Set is a part of it.
I was a little surprised that colors were more muted than you see on various sites. Many bloggers will digitally enhance their images; the one used on Amazon itself appears almost garish compared to the real thing. So what’s in the box?
Inside you get:
- A 32 page rule booklet
- A set of good quality blue with white marking polyhedral dice
- A 63 page Lost Mine of Phandelver Adventure (51 pages of adventure, Appendix of Magic Items, Appendix of Monsters)
- Five pre-generated characters / character sheets
- D&D Encounters advertisement and blank character sheet
The two booklets are color, with a cream background, dark print with color highlights and feature full color artwork. Now over the last few years, I have been running a Pathfinder role-playing game. Cream colored pages remind me strongly of the Pathfinder Core Rule Book. I do not like colored pages and prefer the deep contrast of black text on white pages for easier reading. But the cream pages are not that dark in this case, and contrast is good enough – my test of this being I haven’t yet needed to reach for my reading glasses.
My first and only other starter D&D box set(s) I have owned before this was the J Eric Holmes Basic Set (first published in 1977, and my first experience with the hobby), and it came with some rather low quality dice – but surprisingly durable since I still have them, though the twenty-sided die is almost completely rounded from use. The dice included with this 5th edition box won’t strike you as particularly exciting, however the numbers very nicely contrast against the blue material, and they have a nice, quality sheen to them.
With the exception of the dice, all parts are either documents or soft (stapled) covered, so they will hold up to wear and tear as you’d expect from any boxed game.
With a price of under $15 on Amazon (less than $12 to date), the component quality is outstanding. Id say this is one of the best features of the starter set, because it means you can gift this even if you have a very small gift budget, such as getting a $20 name-from-the-hat Christmas present for someone.
So that’s in for the box. Next Ill dig into the rules themselves.