This past Saturday was the Dungeons and Dragons World Wide Game Day in support of the release of the Essentials Red Box. I rolled up into my local FLGS with my dice bag on fire and looking to lay some smack on whatever misbegotten baddy crossed my path. I was hoping that this might be the day I get to play something other than a meat shield, so needless to say I was pretty pumped. Everything was going according t o plan, wife and kid at Binder Twine, I hit the store early enough to guarantee prime choice on the pre-gens, grabbed a copy of the new Rules Compendium (great product, very handy), hummed and hawed over Player Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands like I was buying a car then decided against it only fully aware that I will likely pick it up this week, strolled over to the counter to pay and sign up and was then informed that there were no DMs for the game day…..what‘s that saying, the best laid plans of mice and men. Luckily like the boy scouts I come prepared, you see whenever I got to the game store to play in a live play event I always bring my DM gear just in case, sort of like Peter Parker with his knapsack filled with red jumpsuit, spider tracers, and web shooters (pre-movie retcon) just minus the neurotic masochistic guilt…well maybe just a smidgen of that.
So I grabbed the adventure and after 10 minutes of looking it over we were off and running. I ran the game for 4 players, with one of them being the owner of the store who had never played 4th edition, so like you know no pressure or anything. I hate having so little time to prepare as it is hard to get to know the monsters powers and tactics as well as think about how I want to play NPC’s and add some more role-playing to the game, but whatyah gonna do. We had three relatively new players at the table (2 had played one game at Fan Expo) and one regular so I got to teach the game a bit which is always fun. I got to see some of the new builds in action, as we had the human fighter-slayer build, Halfling rogue, elf wizard, and human cleric-war priest build. It looks like there were some errors in the pre-gens, which is typical for the stuff WoTC puts out and which I really can’t fathom as they like make the friggin game; don’t they use their own character builder? But whatever. My casual impressions of the new essentials builds are it’s the same game not 4.5. Although I hope the new martial classes they release don’t only key off of modified melee basic attacks because I found those builds kind of meh. I found the slayer a little lacking as a striker and easy to take out. The rogue functioned well but my preference would still be to play a core rogue build, I loves my sly flourish.. It was the cleric that piqued my interest the most as he was tuff to take down (he was the only player I didn’t drop, and really prevented a TPK in the final battle), he had a high AC because of the plate and shield but what was outstanding (assuming it wasn’t a pre-gen error) was that his melee power attacks with his sword
went off at +9 vrs Will not AC. This meant that he was hitting dudes in some cases on a role of 2 or 3, which seems a tad over powerful, that’s got to be a typo right? It also seems like this is what the strength based cleric in the core game was really meant to be but never got the love from WoTC it should have.
The adventure Sunderpeak Temple I thought was well done with an interesting in-combat skill challenge plus *spoiler* a cool final fight with a young black dragon named Blightongue. I love that in this edition of the game you can have the players fight dragons at all levels of play. Overall it was a pretty good day; I had the table laughing a lot playing some of the villains and a highlight was when I dropped the rogue who was trying to be all roguey and slip away from danger by provoking an opportunity attack from a nasty Orc and which he ate an axe to the face when I rolled a crit..ahh good times good times