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Subject: D & D 4e Starter Set: A Solo Gamer's review rss

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Curt Ligot
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This is my first review so excuse me if it is relatively brief. I just wanted to get my main points across.

I have always loved miniature combat games but with a lack of friends who are gamers, I am limited to ones with solo rules. After stumbling across some posts about D and D 4e being played like Descent or Warhammer Quest, I got pretty excited!!

I went out and got a copy of the D and D starter set at Toys R Us ($20).
In the set you get

COMPONENTS
-Dungeon Masters Book (rules, and mini adventure, mini monster manual)
-Quick Start Rules Book (rules, 5 pre generated characters)
-Dungeon Tiles (really cool cardstock tiles,4 rooms, some corridors and msc markers).
-A ton of monster and PC gaming counters. There are circular cardstock character counters. They have the 5 counters for the pregenerated heroes and counter for every monster in the Dungeon Masters book. I know these arent miniatures (they are just head shots) but the art is great and they work very well. The minion monsters are numbered (which is a huge help especially when you have an encounter with 5 Goblins.
- Dice: d20, d12, d10, d8, d6

RULES/GAMEPLAY
I wont go over the rules in detail. I'll just go over the major stuff

-Clearly listed in the DM's and Quick Start books. I have a horrible time with complex rules and it was layed out very well and they were easy to understand.

-Combat (seems like the focus of 4e) is very streamlined but deep at the same time. Resolving attacks is very straightforward but they tactis make it very deep and gratifying. Characters have powers that come with their class. They have some very cool effects but you need to budget them throughout the adventure. You can do non-class specific maneuvers (charge, flank) that can give you an advantage on the battlefield.

Session:
*Keep in mind this is the first time I've played D and D since I was 7 (im 33 now).

I broke out the rule book and set up the first encounter. It was in a large dungeon room with my 5 heroes vs 3 Goblins (spears and javelins) and 2 Goblin Black Blades (swords).

The Goblins had some really cool powers that allowed them be very mobile and deadly with their ranged attacks. After about 40 minute I won a long hard fought battle. One of the Goblins dispatched my Halvling with a critical hit from his javelin and most of my party was reduced down to single digit Hit Points.

Granted I am not tactician, it was a fun, tension-filled, back and forth fight. Every move counts and how and what you attack effects everything in the course of a battle.

Before the encouner they have a blurb about how the enemies will fight. This serves as template for how to control the monsters. It was very easy being objective. As you can see it lends itself very well to a solo experience.

Before I had played I was concerned about the amount of Book Keeping. I get confused very easily if there an a good amount of stats I have to keep track of. I found as long as you have some scratch paper and get organized before the encounter it isnt bad at all. I had 10 characters to keep track of and it went very smoothly.

SUMMARY:
If you are interested in getting started in D and D as a solo Dungeon Crawl I would highly recomend this set. Though the game only comes with 3 encounters, the dungeon tiles, character counters, and gamebooks can keep you going for while (you can level you character up to level 3).I am pretty sure you can track down this set for less than what I payed. It is a cheap way to see if you like the game.

The game is a fun, streamlined, deep combat experience. If you wind up liking it and get the core books ($66 on amazon, I believe) it will supply you with years and years of gameplay. The DM book has a random dungeon generator and the players handbook will let you level up to 30 (or so I've read).

All in all I give this product a 8/10 as a solo experience. More pregenerated encounters would've brought it up at least to a 9.

NOTES:
The only drawback I would say is finding miniatures. I have no problem plunking down cash for minis. The randomness of the D and D minis are a turn off for me. I could lay down $200 bucks and still not get all the figures I need. I have been looking at some cheaper and less random alternatives. One option is for the amazing looking paper minis from www.onemonk.com


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Michael J
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Thanks for the great review. I've downloaded the starter module from Wizards' web site, and I've been looking forward to giving it a solo run-through. I've read the combat rules on-line, and the combat looks deep and fun, as you suggest. I even downloaded "Maptool" so that I could play it all on my computer. Your review has made me even more excited to get adventuring!
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Curt Ligot
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Maptool? That sounds great. I can see that being really useful if you have limited table space.

Keep me updated when and if you play. I'd love to hear some ideas you come up with or just read your sessions.

 
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Edy Ferreira
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Hi Curt,
I am glad to have read your article. I just bought this set a few days ago, just with that same intention "start in D and D as a solo Dungeon Crawl".
I have not played it yet (I have not had time). But it looks that buying it was a good decision.
 
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Edy Ferreira
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BTW, Does someone knows if I could find additional circular counters for the additional monsters from the "D&D Monster Guide"?. It would be a cheaper alternative to the minis....
 
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Curt Ligot
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I wish they sold more. If they had 1 for every monster out there that would be awesome (not to mention cheaper).
 
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Russell Collingham
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DIY Monster counters:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/440143

The geeklist and images have been withdrawn now though but they did look nice.
 
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Michael J
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clig76 wrote:
I wish they sold more. If they had 1 for every monster out there that would be awesome (not to mention cheaper).


I printed up a token for every monster in the D&D Minis line. They look great. There are two ways to get the images.

1) First, go to the D&D Minis site. Then go to the Miniatures Galleries. Save the web pages as HTML pages, then look on your drive for all of the images.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mix/gallery

They print out pretty nice.

2) Secondly, download the Warband Generator.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mi/20031113x

The download contains images for EVERY mini. They are all good quality.

Good luck!

Michael
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Curt Ligot
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mjacobsca wrote:
clig76 wrote:
I wish they sold more. If they had 1 for every monster out there that would be awesome (not to mention cheaper).


I printed up a token for every monster in the D&D Minis line. They look great. There are two ways to get the images.

1) First, go to the D&D Minis site. Then go to the Miniatures Galleries. Save the web pages as HTML pages, then look on your drive for all of the images.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mix/gallery

They print out pretty nice.

2) Secondly, download the Warband Generator.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mi/20031113x

The download contains images for EVERY mini. They are all good quality.

Good luck!

Michael


Great idea. Thanks for the input!!
 
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Edy Ferreira
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Quote:

I printed up a token for every monster in the D&D Minis line. They look great. There are two ways to get the images.

1) First, go to the D&D Minis site. Then go to the Miniatures Galleries. Save the web pages as HTML pages, then look on your drive for all of the images.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mix/gallery

They print out pretty nice.

2) Secondly, download the Warband Generator.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mi/20031113x

The download contains images for EVERY mini. They are all good quality.


Thanks for the tips
 
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Curt Ligot
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Since I've had some free time I've gotten back into D and D solo gaming.

Here is what I have bought in addition to the start kit...

-KEEP ON THE SHADOWFELL ADVENTURE H1
I bought this farely cheap ($10) but you can download it for free. Its pretty cool because you have 30 combat encounters in this adventure. If you are playing solo this means you have 30 battles to go through gaining experience points, treasure and levels.

-FIREY DRAGON H1 COUNTERS
These are free counters you can print out to use instead of miniatures
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=56039

-FIREY DRAGON H1 COUNTERS
Since I really liked using their free ones, I bought the H1 collection
http://fierydragon.com/dragonsbreath/?p=238

-CORE RULEBOOKS
They heavily discounted these. AMAZON has all 3 for $66.
http://www.amazon.com/Dungeons-Dragons-Core-Rulebook-Gift/dp...

-D and D Character Builder
This is a must. Download this program from the Wizards site. It really speeds up character creation and generates some useful characters sheets and power cards. Its free up until level 3 (you have to subscribe after level 3)

Anyway, Im having a great time. Ever since Warhammer Quest I have been searching for a solo Dungeon Crawl. To me this has really filled that role and then some.

**Playing solo means you can play whenever you want (no need to wait for RPG groups). Combat encounters (for me) take around 45-60 minutes. I have been playing an encounter every couple days.It doesnt take my whole day and you can steadily make progress if you have the availability.

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Curt Ligot
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Talisman Frog wrote:
This is pretty interesting. I tried playing Descent solo and it was not too bad with my house-rules...but I just did not like having to play 4 characters and run the game.

I was bashing the look of the new D&D books (I have not played since the early 90s when I got the Redbox & Rule Cyclopedia and started my 1st group) and really liked the look of the Dungeon Delves book and the tiles. To me this looked like something possibly cooler than Descent as you would have character progression but sadly no minis (who can afford to try to buy all those?).

So I may look into this...especially now that I see you can print off color tokens with actual art of all the minis anyway.

If only Games Workshop would reprint Warhammer Quest! That was by far the greatest dungeon-crawl ever with its random dungeons, random RPG book etc. And best of all the game scaled from 1-4 players.


Im with you on the Descent thing. I think it is an awesome game but trying to play solo (at least for me) wasnt as fun as I thought it would be. The choices you make as OL slows down gameplay a bit (keep in mind I didnt try any of the many variants).

What I love about D and D 4e is the different roles of the players and the monsters. You have your strikers (heavy damage), leaders (buffer other players) and the list goes on. Everyone fights/behaves differently. Even down to a lowly kobold (which arent so lowly when youa are a level 1 character).

To be honest I havent messed with the randomn dungeon thing. Right now I am playing my way through KEEP OVER SHADOWFELL. I'm doing for a couple reasons. 1) To level up my party 2) To see how they set up encounters (they have some cool battles and some creative ways to set up terrain) 3) Practive my tactics and character optimization.

 
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te3b0r
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Thanks for this!!! You made me bite the bullet and try the starter set(I have been wanting to get into a RPG for a while and one that I can solo is even better!!)Glad I have the prime so I will have it Wednesday and try it over my Holiday break.
 
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Curt Ligot
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No prob man. Let me know how it went or if you had any questions.

Looking forward I have been reading reviews on the Wizards of the Coast mudules. They all seem to be combat heavy. This is good news for solo D and D'ers. That means you have 30+ enocunters in each adventure to fight through, level up, and get treasure. Considering it takes about 40-60 mins per encounter this equals a ton of gameplay for about $20 a pop.

 
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te3b0r
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Got my starter set in today and man o man for 11 dollars I am VERY impressed!!
 
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Curt Ligot
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Yeah, I really like the map tiles and the character counters are well done.
 
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Curt Ligot
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I've just battled through my 4th encounter in Shadowfell. It is ranked as level 6 (very hard). Great stuff. I had to try twice becuase the firs time my party was picked apart. The next time I went through I switched up tactics (kept my party against the wall so they couldnt get surrounded) and really focused on healing my heavy hitters. I'm slowly building towards level 2. After a few more encounters I might have enough treasure to buy my guys some better equipment. Having a blast with this stuff.
 
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te3b0r
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There is my major question. How do you deal with treasurer and loot and what not knowing what is where when you are playing pre built adventures.
 
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Curt Ligot
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te3b0r wrote:
There is my major question. How do you deal with treasurer and loot and what not knowing what is where when you are playing pre built adventures.


Im not sure if I get your question but I'll try and answer it.
Each encounter has the list of enemies, traps, terrain, enemy tactics and Treasure and items. You get the items whem/if you defeat the enemies. Sometimes the treasure is in a locked chest or hidden. In this case you may have to pass a skill test to A) find it or B) pick a lock.

The encounter maps clearly show where all the items are.

Does that make sense?
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te3b0r
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clig76 wrote:
te3b0r wrote:
There is my major question. How do you deal with treasurer and loot and what not knowing what is where when you are playing pre built adventures.


Im not sure if I get your question but I'll try and answer it.
Each encounter has the list of enemies, traps, terrain, enemy tactics and Treasure and items. You get the items whem/if you defeat the enemies. Sometimes the treasure is in a locked chest or hidden. In this case you may have to pass a skill test to A) find it or B) pick a lock.

The encounter maps clearly show where all the items are.

Does that make sense?


Yeah that is what I meant. Thinking of this as playing both as a DM of sorts and players, the players would have to even think to look somewhere and wearing both hats you would know what is where already so just wondering how you would even go about handling it?
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Curt Ligot
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I've really just been fudging it (no real system) and focusing on combat. There is however a great thread about playing solo...

http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19920390/D...

There is also a solo adventure published for DDI subscribers. Dark Awakenings. Once I fix my computer problems I will subscribe and give it a go.
 
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Curt Ligot
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While playing through Keep On the Shadowfell I realized you have to create some of the maps yourself. I was a little bummed but found a giant 25" x 30" gridded presentation pad at Office Depot. It runs for $16 and has 50 sheets.

http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/409528/Office-Depot-Br...:trackingCode=BD440D1B-EC81-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA

If you sketch out the encounter area/map with pencil it should only take about 10 minutes. There are cooler options out there but this was the cheapest and easiest.

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te3b0r
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clig76 wrote:
While playing through Keep On the Shadowfell I realized you have to create some of the maps yourself. I was a little bummed but found a giant 25" x 30" gridded presentation pad at Office Depot. It runs for $16 and has 50 sheets.

http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/409528/Office-Depot-Br...:trackingCode=BD440D1B-EC81-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA

If you sketch out the encounter area/map with pencil it should only take about 10 minutes. There are cooler options out there but this was the cheapest and easiest.



Or if you dont mind printing there is always this site as well

http://www.waterproof-paper.com/graph-paper/grid-paper.shtml cant beat free!! Minus the cost of your ink and paper


I just wanted to say that I played my first game of this last night and had a BLAST!!! This is what I have been looking for since I started playing boardgames last year. I have tried Runebound and while very fun, its also very very pointless even with all the variants out there. Descent looks like it would be fun but I already Middle Earth Quest that I have not even broke the plastic on yet so I didnt need another Big Box game right now. This fits the model perfectly! I can and most likely will play this with my gf running both DM and Player hats and try to join a group of D and D'ers. I just like that only like some stuff(I'm looking at you 40K...) I can spend as little or as much as I want to just depending on how far I want to take it down the rabbit hole.
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Curt Ligot
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te3b0r wrote:
clig76 wrote:
While playing through Keep On the Shadowfell I realized you have to create some of the maps yourself. I was a little bummed but found a giant 25" x 30" gridded presentation pad at Office Depot. It runs for $16 and has 50 sheets.

http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/409528/Office-Depot-Br...:trackingCode=BD440D1B-EC81-DE11-B7F3-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA

If you sketch out the encounter area/map with pencil it should only take about 10 minutes. There are cooler options out there but this was the cheapest and easiest.



Or if you dont mind printing there is always this site as well

http://www.waterproof-paper.com/graph-paper/grid-paper.shtml cant beat free!! Minus the cost of your ink and paper


I just wanted to say that I played my first game of this last night and had a BLAST!!! This is what I have been looking for since I started playing boardgames last year. I have tried Runebound and while very fun, its also very very pointless even with all the variants out there. Descent looks like it would be fun but I already Middle Earth Quest that I have not even broke the plastic on yet so I didnt need another Big Box game right now. This fits the model perfectly! I can and most likely will play this with my gf running both DM and Player hats and try to join a group of D and D'ers. I just like that only like some stuff(I'm looking at you 40K...) I can spend as little or as much as I want to just depending on how far I want to take it down the rabbit hole.


Im glad you are having fun. I havent had a ton of time to play but I finally got my party up to Level 2 and got enough treasure to buy some echanted items.

I just saw they released a new tile set "harrowing halls". It some 3D tiles to make tombs and staircases. How cool is that?

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Ray Davies
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Can you please explain or point me in the direction of a guide on how to play this game solo?
 
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