A New Red Box

D&D Red BoxSo, it looks like WotC is releasing a new introductory boxed set, and you can certainly tell from the image what they’re harkening back to.  While there are some elements, box art included, that have a retro inspiration, clearly the contents will be some version of the latest (4th) edition of the game.  Let’s look at it feature by feature:

  • 32-page book for players, with rules for character creation and a solo adventure

OK, a nice trim book for players is a good thing, and a focus on character creation is probably wise.  Not so sure about the solo adventure.  Those things always seem neat, but then, well, they’re about as much fun as any choose your own adventure style book.

  • 64-page book for Dungeon Masters, with the rules of the game, advice on how to run the game, and adventure content

Longer more involved book for the DM is pretty traditional.  While in general I do kind of prefer a game simple enough to not require two books, there is something attractive about actually trying to include practical advise on how to run a game.  Whether the advice is any good remains to be seen.

  • 2 sheets of die-cut tokens for characters and monsters
  • Double-sided dungeon map

I orginally thought “meh” about these, assuming they are optional to play.  Personally I’m not much into using miniatures in my games right now, but if and when I change my mind I’ll probably prefer nicely painted minis to tokens.  But then, what if they aren’t optional, and the game requires them to play?  That would not make me very happy.

  • Cardstock character sheets and power cards

Oh boy, here we go.  Nothing says your character is nothing but a collection of stats quite like nothing to write on.  Where do I draw maps, a sketch of my character, write the names of important NPCs, write down notes about my personality, or otherwise include any information whatsoever that makes my character unique and interesting?

  • 6 polyhedral dice

Isn’t that one too few?

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3 Comments

  1. It’s funny, I feel like WotC is turning back the clock here, while Labyrinth Lord seems to be trying to repeat the evolution of D&D with their recent Advanced Edition. (Does this mean that in 30 years we’ll see a 4th. Edition LL bringing back those old school power cards and cardboard cutouts?)

    On a tangentially related note, I’ve heard also that WotC is gonna come out with a Gamma World box set/game world for 4e. I’m vaguely interested to see it (probably get some glimpses at Gen Con.) but probably won’t buy it, as most Gamma World variants after the 2nd. edition generally leave me pretty cold.

  2. Well, don’t forget that LL also did Original Edition Characters, an OD&D variant. I suspect Mr. Proctor just wants to cover all the bases of retro clones. And as he says, LL is not the greatest game in the world, it’s just a tribute. I just can’t imagine that 4e will have the following older editions had thirty years ago to warrant such a tribute, but I suppose only time will tell.

    I am extremely curious what WotC was thinking giving this box set the old style trade dress, and focusing on the original races and classes. Are they trying to appeal to us old schoolers? If so, I suppose it’s nice that they recognize our existence, but I think they’re missing the point. I think most of us would be be way more interested in some nice reprints of the original material, or returning to sale of the old documents as PDFs. I’m sure though, no matter what their intentions, WotC will screw this one up too.

  3. @Paul:
    My hope would be something similar to something James Maliszewski’s wished for, one of them wooden boxed Milton Bradly classic style games with the original B/X included. That would be boss.

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