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Chu★Review: The Essential Dungeons & Dragons Starter

In 1974, two great game creators named Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created a little something called Dungeons and Dragons, a pen-and-paper roleplaying game. Although both of these men are no longer with us, the game and legacy they left behind certainly is.

How does the game work? You get a bunch of friends together and pick one person to be the dungeon master, or DM, to tell the story, run the game, and play the part of non-player characters. You then follow the rules in the core rulebook and use the character creation sheet to create your character and your stats, then use different sided dice to roll and based on different combinations of what you roll, your stats, the stats of your enemy, and the difficulty of the action you’re trying to perform, you can succeed or fail in varying degrees at said action.

Sound confusing? It is! Luckily for us, the wonderful people at Wizards of the Coast saw this and created a fantastic product called The Essential Dungeons & Dragons Starter, a box full of goodies that will get even the most green pen-and-paper players into the groove of the game!

Luckily at New York ComicCon / New York Anime Festival 2010, the people manning the Wizards of the Coast booth were more than happy to let me sort through the product and snap some pictures. First off, let’s take a look at the box itself!

The box is a pretty color of red and has some gorgeous old-timey D&D art on the front! Also adorning classic artwork are the 64-page Dungeon Master’s Book filled with rules and advice for running a game as well as some adventure content, and a 32-page Player’s Guide, filled with simple rules for playing the game and a sample solo adventure to play so you can experience the rules on your own.

In order to create your characters, you’ll need character sheets, and the box comes with a pad of simplistic character sheets that each player can use to keep track of their stats, their powers and abilities, and the items they have on them. This character sheet is much more streamlined and simplistic than the classic D&D character sheets for sure.

Along with the easy-to-use character sheets are these cards which outline different spells, abilities, powers, and magic items. They have all the information you need on what they do and what stats you use to determine whether you use them effectively or not. Everything you need to know is right on the cards!

Also included in the box is a double-sided dungeon map that you can use to help create a layout for locations in your game. To help with this even further, there are two sheets of punch-out tokens representing different characters and monsters. You can use these in combination with the map to outline where everyone and everything is placed in relation to the players.

And of course, you can’t play Dungeons and Dragons without dice! The game comes with six different sided dice consisting of a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and the classic d20.

All of these items combined make for a truly easy and user-friendly gaming experience. I have played quite a few D&D games in my time, but even as a practiced player I am enticed by the ease of use that this box offers. I absolutely will be picking one up for myself, and even that is a treat when compared to the original game, which consists of several large, bulky books that cost upwards of $30-$35 a piece (but are so worth it!).

If you’re afraid that you will begin to find this box too easy and will outgrow it, don’t be. Wizards of the Coast also has a Dungeons & Dragons Essentials line of books and products that are perfect for upgrading to when you’re ready to delve even deeper into the d20 gaming system. The entire line is designed to make a truly enjoyable and streamlined playing experience for players of all ages and varying levels of role-playing experience.

So if you’re interested in jumping into the world of pen-and-paper role-playing, looking for something new for your gaming group, or even trying to rope in some friends to join in on the fun, The Essential Dungeons & Dragons Starter is an excellently priced and well put-together addition to any gaming collection that is destined to usher in a new generation of D&D players.

If you’re interested in supporting Wizards of the Coast in this exciting endeavor while supporting Chu★Blog (at no extra cost to you!), feel free to use these links to order these products:

The Dungeons & Dragons series of products are published by Wizards of the Coast.


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