Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set Review

Editor's rating:
10.0
Nela Cvetanovska
Reviewed by Nela Cvetanovska
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We like

A detailed introduction to Dungeons and Dragons

Well-designed and vividly illustrated

High quality board game components

Most awarded and recognized table-top game of all time

Simplified and specially modified for younger generations

Affordable yet collectible item value

Boosts creativity and problem solving skills

We don’t like

Not as many components as the original game

How it works

It is highly unlikely that you haven’t heard of the iconic and legendary role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. It almost created a religion amongst board-gamers and fantasy literature fanatics. Silicon Valley tech geeks, the Game of Thrones creators and adventure driven intellectuals all around the world take pride in being passionate Dungeon Masters.

Since we live in the world of technology where most children take on adventures in the virtual World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy and Fortnite, it is quite unfortunate they may never get the chance to visit the enchanting universe that the D&D creators intelligently crafted. It might be intimidating even for adults since there is a popular belief that this game requires genius level skills.

However, with this Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set you might find that what you really needed all along is just a simple introduction to a whimsical gaming experience that pretty much involves using your imagination and problem-solving abilities. Once you get a glimpse of the magical endeavors ahead of you, it is almost impossible not to get addicted to the fantasy realm filled with mythical characters.  

 

Origin

Origin

The Dungeons and Dragons is one of the most, if not the most awarded game in the history of board-gaming. It is notoriously acclaimed as cementing the marriage between the fantasy genre and gaming. It has inspired the birth of many board-games, cartoons, adventure movies, fiction series and flourished the minds of many contemporary visionaries.

What started as a set of medieval miniature rules made by Jeff Perren, expanded in a fantasy universe when Gary Gygax introduced the magical additions to the original predecessor. Gygax had previously worked with Dave Wesely on Don’t Give Up the Ship! and was inspired by the Braunstein games that Wesely created with Dave Arneson since it allowed players to control individuals instead of armies.

Arneson and Gygax partnered in developing The Fantasy Game in order to create a roleplaying experience and the final elements of writing and character elaboration was done by Gygax himself. In fact, the game’s original name changed to Dungeons and Dragons once his two-year old daughter Cindy exclaimed, "Oh Daddy, I like Dungeons and Dragons best!" when being presented with a list of multiple choices of possible names.

It is well known of the importance that J.R.R. Tolkien’s literature had in the ultimate creation of D&D. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit share many similarities with the medieval themed game since they both worlds have elves, orcs, rangers and dwarves. Gygax have famously acknowledged the strong impact that Tolkien’s fantasy land had on the game as well as world mythology, pulp fiction and history.

More than 20 million people have played this game around the world and it gained huge commercial success which ultimately lead to many related artworks such as the Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Magazine, a role-playing soundtrack and computer and video-games. There are multiple collectible items which include miniatures, dices, adventure books, cosplay outfits as well as this entry level starter set that will capture the hearts of the younger generations.
Design

Design

The Starter Set Rulebook is essential for the gaming experience since it basically represents an instruction manual and an introduction to the world of Dungeons and Dragons. It is almost impossible to get children to read these days since the technology offers a more visual experience however this 32-page long detailed summary might capture your child’s attention with its unique magical components.

There is a quick and concise explanation in the first chapter of the book that features various example plays that really build up your curiosity. Furthermore, you get a chance to meet some of the characters and their 6 ability scores such as: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma as well as the scores for the modifiers. It is quite interesting how each character has its own race; elf, dwarf, human or Halfling and its origin is connected to the modification of the ability scores. They are also specified by Class which allows them to have different skills and specialties as well as Levels to keep track of their experience in each class.

It is undeniably charming to learn about all the skills developed from the abilities of the characters. For example, the Strength is based on athleticism while acrobatics, sleight of hand and stealth are all based on Dexterity. Furthermore; Investigation, Arcana, History, Nature and Religion lie in the Intelligence. Animal Handling, Medicine, Insight, Perception and Survival come from Wisdom, and Charisma unravels possibilities for Deception, Intimidation, Performance and Persuasion.

The Character sheet is printed on fine quality paper which is really convenient since you are probably going to play this game many times and you will need something durable. It allows the players to get the know the backstory of the characters, their personality and special abilities, as well as being able to fill in the name and the gender with a pencil. There are sample names to choose from and a sufficient information to recognize the level of each individual role.

There are 5 pre-generated character that include the Human Noble Fighter, a Hill dwarf Soldier Cleric, High elf Acolyte Wizard, Lightfoot Halfling Criminal Rogue and Human Folk Hero Fighter. The sheet also has a black page which allows players to come up with their own hero by following the basic rules of Dungeons and Dragons and using their adventure driven imagination.

This game is also based on advantage and disadvantage by rolling the 6 dice you get with the package. For example, if you roll a second d20 you might get a better result and a possibility to ambush your opponents from a secret hiding place but at the same time, your position can be compromised by rolling the same d20 so you might end up with a worse result like having sand kicked in your eyes. It is truly based on beneficial or detrimental circumstances which keep the tension flowing throughout the gaming experience.

There is a well-illustrated adventure book in the box called: Lost Mine of Phandelver. It represents a peculiar journey so detailed that it might take several quests and sessions of plays to finish, however by the end of it you will most definitely understand the core of D&D. It is filled with combat, masters, wilderness exploration, bluffing, disguises and even help tips provided as sidebars. The world is very vivid and magical; it is almost as you are going on a Lord of the Rings journey. There is a never-ending suspense since you are constantly being faced with goblin hideouts, battling bullies in Phandalin and fighting The Black Spider in hostile haunted places like the Wave Echo Cave.
Entertainment Value

Entertainment Value

The ultimate vision for this game is allowing the players to embark on a different quest guided by the Dungeon Masters. They set up the rules and from there endless scenarios are possible. Children love pretend playtime and they will enjoy being presented the scenery of a hidden tavern, spooky caves or pretty much whatever they decide. They will get the opportunity to present their characters and choose whether to reveal their magical abilities or keep them hidden.

As the game unravels, the Dungeon Master takes the characters on a specific quest in which they can collectively come up with objectives to win the quest, for example finding a key or looking for a kidnapped character. The Dungeon master plays an important role as he facilitates the other characters and in a way, referees the whole playtime. The Master’s position is crucial in a way that he/she needs to know all the rules and the background story in order to organize the quests based on difficulty levels.

The combat is undeniably well-crafted since it involves using various armors, shields, weapons, axes and spells. However, it also requires players to use their logic and organizational skills so they can grant themselves resting time to restock the gear and come up with an intelligent strategy.

The spellcasting is very fun since it allows you to throw magic missiles and darts of energy. Almost every child dreamed of having supernatural powers and magical abilities, so the wizard role play shall unlock their imagination and they will gladly learn how to use them. The spells are not just used to defeat the opponents, as instead you can use them to bless your allies and save them from detrimental attacks.

The whole magic of this game lies in being collectively organized and constantly motivated to come up with an adequate solution to each challenge presented by the Dungeon Master. It will definitely keep your children entertained for hours as they develop an emotional bond with each character.
Age Range

Age Range

This game set is recommended for children of/above 12 years old. There are younger children who understand it and quite enjoy especially if their parents or siblings are passionate fantasy gamers however it is important that you introduce it to your kids at the proper age so they don’t find it overwhelming and too complicated. This might cause disappointment and repulsiveness towards what could’ve been their favorite game in the future.

However, it’s still fascinating to see 5 or 6 year olds being intrigued in the game and becoming excellent role players in the small groups. It is always an interesting experience to share a magical quest with little children since they have a vivid imagination as long as you don’t burden them too much with the rules and you let them enjoy the story and the roleplaying process.

Adults who lack in understanding yet are curious about exploring the enchanting universe of D&D will certainly find this set as the most convenient tool in absorbing all the necessary beginner information. It would come as no surprise that many adults are intimidated of this board game but it is only because they haven’t given it a chance in the right way. This starter set would be a great way to start a family activity since children do not want to be forced into anything however they might be interested if they see their parents playing.
Price Range

Price Range

This starter set is actually pretty affordable since you are most likely to be enchanted by the whole table-top experience and it could hold a collectible item value. After all, Dungeons and Dragons play an essential role in the geek culture and the vast world of fantasy roleplaying. You will end up with a product that could be played by the whole family and passed from one generation to another.

The whole set doesn’t require any particular maintenance or further expenses unless you want to expand your collection by purchasing more complex D&D adventure books. However even if you discover that you are truly a fan and decide to invest in more challenging endeavors, you will not regret spending your money on another educational and learning experience.

Conclusion

Both boys and girls would enjoy this board game since they will ultimately feel as going on an adventure where various mythical things can attack you, trick you or happen to you. The whole beauty of the game is experiencing this world and figuring out how to deal with it. If you take away the magical components, it’s almost as a preparation for any real life quest that involves creative problem solving.

The Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set will equip you children with storytelling abilities and will distract them from traditional war gaming. It is very different from other games that require military formation, as instead it requires using logic and imagination. There is a well-designed fantasy setting that inspires players to solve dilemmas and gather knowledge rather than just play pretend combat scenarios.

Children will feel motivated by the treasure awards and the competitive challenges however ultimately they will connect to an enchanting mythical word and create unforgettable childhood memories with their co-players.
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