Sunday, April 17, 2011

D&D 4E & Essentials

Now I know that the bulk of the good folk who skim my blog don't play D&D 4E. Regardless, after flipping through Heroes of Shadow at my local store it was weird to see a book that had character options laid out more like Essentials but without that tag on the book AND in the large hardcover format.
I'll be honest, my initial reaction was screw you WotC, you've now resolved to lying to your customer base by trying to sell an Essentials book to a non Essentials fan. I've picked up the Essentials Rules Compendium as it's the 4e rule set with all of the eratta. I haven't read anything from the Essentials DM Kit or Monsters Vault and am not sure how they might differ from the "standard" 4E DM Guides and Monster Manuals from a mechanical stand point.
Is the Essentials line really 4.5? Not really. I see it as Wizards trying to make roping in the new guy less intimidating and with "simplified" leveling up that I guess is more akin to 1st Ed(?). Unfortunately, it seems like the end result was mostly just another line in the sand to be drawn for many. Personally, I've only experienced Essentials at Wednesday Night Encounters. The folk who play it love it. I've enjoyed it when I do go out to play. What needs to happen is for Essentials to stop being viewed by the players as another game but as another way for Character Classes to advance when they level up. But from my personal experience, I've never seen or actually heard about any table that has a combination of players who've built their characters from the Players Handbooks AND the Essentials books. The guilty forces in my opinion? The mindset of the optimizer/power gamer.


  1. Essentials is not 4.5.

    I have Heroes of Shadow and I plan to use it with my Essentials books AND my original hardcovers. There is absolutely no difference other that formating.

    Honestly this is akin to complaining about a font change from one book to the next and looking at it as a different editions.

    There is really no mechanical differences, just presentation differences. So a Paladin from PHB works fine next to a Paladin from Essentials and a Paladin from HoS. I look at them as minor "training" differences or even minor role-playing differences.

    I am happy with Heroes of Shadows BECAUSE is does combine the "older" PHB/DMG presentation and the Essential presentations; it is more effective to me since I do use both sets of books at my tables.

  2. Sweet! It's nice to read first hand of at least one group that's doing it. People locally seem to view it like the guy playing with an Essential built character has a disadvantage over the guy who used the Player handbooks. My thought Sure the Essentials build doesn't present a page of level blah blah blah level X powers when he levels up but his damage output isn't gimped by it in game. I'm starting to feel like it's like arguing that a Mustang is less of a Ford than an F-150 because it doesn't come in 4x4.

  3. I agree with you, I think Essentials is targetted at newbs. The Essentials builds have a lot of flavor, are a lot more streamlined, and generally play faster in combat, but IMHO the martial versions get boring after just swinging a sword around for an encounter(3e anyone?).

    I think Heroes of Shadow is trying to bridge that gap for the Essentials player who wants to get into "Core" 4e.

    In my home game I have two players who use Essentials material. One is a Bard/Warlord who takes Essentials feats because of their obvious advantages. The other is a Fey Pact warlock, mixing and matching material from within all available content. No problems with either build so far.