Monday, 24 December 2018

D&D Core Rules Gift Set Review

Review copy courtesy of Wizards of the Coast.

  • These are the solid core books of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition all in one package
  • The new covers look fantastic in my opinion. I’m a big fan of the in-game book style of 3rd edition, and the styled covers of these make it look like a book without it’s dust cover.
  • It’s the complete core rules and Dungeon Master’s Screen. Roughly 1000 pages of D&D 5e rules goodness.

Could Go Either Way:
  • You don’t really need all 3 books to start playing. You can run and have fun with a set of dice (or an online dice roller), the basic rules, and the SRD. However, the extras, especially traps, bonus rules, and monsters are a welcome addition for Dungeon Masters and players like having more options. This isn't the kind of thing to get when you want to get your feet wet, it's the kind of thing you get when you want to go all in.
  • The books have been around for a while now. That means you can pick up used or discounted copies for cheap. That said, if you can find the set for cheap it’s a good combo, but it’ll be easier to find the older books. I was able to find the set for decent prices, but having to do the research and number crunching is not a plus.
The contents of the gift set. Nice looking covers if you ask me. They even showed up well on my camera.


It’s the holidays. Time for family, friends, and rolling saving throws. I am lucky enough to play D&D during the holidays at least once, though the big one for my group was always Halloween (rather thematic I think). However, Wizards of the Coast has recently released a core gift set and I'll be looking at it today. It features the core rules, the previously release Dungeon Master Screen, and a box to keep it all together.

The Books Themselves

I’ve reviewed all of the books in this set except the Player’s Handbook. Click on the following links if you want my complete thoughts on the Monster Manual or Dungeon Master’s Guide. The short version is that I really liked the Monster Manual and still do. My second choice was the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and third was the Player’s Handbook. It's not that I didn't like the Player's Handbook, but it isn't essential as the basic rules provided enough to play with their 4 basic classes and one archetype each. That said, the extra choices present in the handbook are extremely useful for players to help distinguish their characters. It's also extremely helpful for new players to read. 

The creature section of the Player’s Handbook is less useful today than when it was released, because you’ll find the same content in the Monster Manual. And the Monster Manual has a lot of content that is now publicly available in the SRD and the basic rules. However the SRD is art free, only contains stat blocks, and doesn't include everything, but it does include a lot of monsters and one subclass of every class. That makes it extremely useful for the experienced Dungeon Master, but those new to the game will benefit from the lore and fluff provided in the full books. They are good books. Again, for more information check out my full reviews.

Dungeon Master’s Screen

I never got the screen on release. I only heard people say it had a lot of wasted space. Well, now I do. This screen is alright, but I think many experienced Dungeon Master’s either make their own, or add their own notes using sticky notes or clips. I think the content of the screen is a good start, but I’d add my own reference sheets to make everything seamless. In particular I would have liked to see the fatigue and weather rules included. The visuals are nice and help make it easier to skim, but I really would’ve liked to have seen more on it. Now is it worth 20 dollars? I mean, that could be spent on miniatures or something. That’s a harder question. I could see it being very helpful for a new player, but an experienced player could make their own quite easily and have it exactly as they like. Now that I think about it, they probably already have. Even worse, if you mostly play online using Roll20 or something, you can just have your reference sheets on your desk with no fear that your players will read it. That said, I think I will end up using it for my in person games now that I have one. I’m also sure you can find it for less. I can see it being an extremely useful boon to a new Dungeon Master. It's worth noting that the limited edition version also has new artwork done in the same style as the book covers.


The normal covers are exactly what you expect to get. We've seen them before. The special edition covers, which are the ones I received, are new and I personally really like that style. They even changed the cover image for the Dungeon Master's screen. My favourite cover from this edition is still Rise of Tiamat. The art style just works for me on every level, and I’d like to see more. In the normal core books, my favourite is the Monster Manual but I think I might prefer the black background and stylized art of the special edition covers. The problem is that whenever I found the limited edition gift sets online, they cost more. I guess that’s the limited edition part coming through.


The MSRP for the set is the same as the MSRP of the individual components put together or $169.95 USD. However, the books have already been around for a while. The Dungeon Master’s Guide, the last released of the core books, came out 4 years ago. This means you can easily find it online either used, or at a discounted price from the MSRP. The good news is that I was also able to find the gift set at reduced prices as well. This means you’ll either be paying the same or more for the gift set than buying the books separately yourself. Or, worst case, you’ll find it harder to buy the gift set. The end result is that you need to do some math to determine if buying the set is the best deal, instead of a no-brainer. Personally I think this was a missed opportunity.


This is a collection of the prove D&D 5th edition core rule books. The Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide are included along with a screen. There is also a limited hobby store exclusive version featuring new cover art, which I think is fantastic. If you know someone who loves D&D, it would absolutely make a great gift. Where it gets complicated is that it’s a pricey item at a $169.95 USD, which the same price as buying everything individually. To make matters more complicated, the individual parts have been already released so it could be more expensive to buy the set. You’d need to do research to check prices when you buy, as I was able to find deals where the non-limited edition gift set cost the same as the reduced price individual components. Even at reduced prices, the gift set is still expensive making the D&D 5e starter set (MSRP 19.99 USD) the low price alternative that’s a much better fit for people who you aren't sure will enjoy D&D. It even comes with dice, which the gift set doesn't. However, for those who you know have been dying to get the new core rules it can’t be beat when found at the right price.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Black Scroll Games: Minotaur Miniature

I think it’s no surprise at this point that I like 3D printing and I generally like the work Black Scroll Games does. They generally do good sculpts that don’t require supports, and great looking 3D styled maps. Recently they released a Minotaur miniature, and I hope to give my thoughts on it.

Be afraid. Absolutely adore the axe and how it's also used as a support.

Print Settings

I printed the model at 50 microns, 60 degree Celsius print bed and 195 degree Celsius extruder. I’m sure it would look great at 100 as well, but I typically print miniatures at 50. Some printers are different than others but the temperature settings are the standard ones I use for almost everything. You may need to play around with your printer a bit, but it's probably a good starting point.


The sculpt looks great when placed on the table. The weapon details, the horns, the texture on the back, it's a great miniature. Black Scroll Games did a great job with this one. The texture of the base is great too. I mentioned it before, but I’ve always appreciated how they design their sculpts to incorporate supports so they blend into the design. However, it had a few artifacts, which I didn’t see on their werewolf model. These artifacts were on the underside legs of the model and hard to see, especially when placed on the table. It could be my printer and print settings, since it is printed on pretty cheap printer, but be aware regardless. 


Minotaurs are a classic baddie to throw at low level parties. A group of low level players fighting against a massive beast that leaves characters bleeding out in one hit is a frightening thing to behold. You could also throw parties of Minotaurs at players, but I think such setups are less common. There are exceptions of course. I've played in a campaign where hunting groups of minotaurs were not uncommon as elite units of a marauding army. However, I think this miniatures will most likely be used in a climatic final fight, whether at the end of an arc or a campaign. This makes the miniature not as reusable as a set of skeletons, which are extremely common, but it looks good enough to be worthy of ending a session or campaign.