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Showing 1-10 of 48 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 57 reviews
on October 26, 2010
I got this book last week. Good stuff. People not playing 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons may be wondering what to buy and I would say if you're interested in creating your own world or just running your own game with published adventures, this is all you need.

Wizards of the Coast has been releasing Essentials products for a couple months now, but most of them are either for kids -- i.e. the Red Box Starter Kit -- or current 4e players and DMs -- i.e. the Rules Compendium. This is the box you need if you want to DM and don't already have the Dungeon Master's Guide. The DMG is actually a good book, but then they released the DMG 2 and maybe even the DMG 3. The Essentials line seems to be saying, "Forget all that stuff and all those supplements. This is all you need to play the game!" I couldn't agree more. The heart of the kit is the Dungeon Master's Book, which contains all the charts, rules, tips and examples you need to get a game up and running. Encounter design; combat; travel across the land; skill challenges. It's all in there.

WotC has made it incredibly easy to get into the game. You don't even need any of the player's books anymore. Just download the Character Builder from their website and buy this kit. Voila! You're roleplaying your own game for $26.

Of course, they know you're going to get hooked on the game and want to buy their other books -- or tiles or miniatures -- so they're not worried about cannabilizing the sales of their other products. Love it but want to create a PC with pen & paper? Buy the Player's Handbooks I, II & III or the softcover "Heroes of" series. Want to create dungeons filled with monsters of your choosing? Then buy the Monster Vault or all 3 Monster Manuals.

One more thing. I'm only giving it 4 stars because it's really not for people who already have their products. So if you already have the Dungeon Master Guides or even the Rules Compendium, some of the stuff is necessarily repeated here so save your money.
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on September 16, 2017
Exactly as described! In fact, in even better condition that I originally thought it would be! I already have one I use (I am an avid fan of 4e), but wanted to buy one unused for my collection (also a collector). This was perfect!
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on April 9, 2012
The Dungeon master's kit is a great buy. There's only one caveat that stops it from being perfect: the content in the DM book mostly becomes redundant and falls a bit short with a Rules compendium ($13.57, Amazon price), for RC features most data from the DM book in this set plus useful information for players. If this product included de RC instead if the DM book, it would earn its fifth star.

Besides that, the rest is very good.

1.The box is hard and durable. The DM screen gets a bit thick when new and folded inside, so the box might not close completely at first.

2.The four-section DM screen has a great illustration and, most importantly, features all the updated tables (I cross-referenced with the official errata from Wizards of the Coast) needed for the game (I already used it a couple times and found all quick-reference info on the screen) in a big enough format.

3.The adventure provided in two booklets (dubbed "Reavers of Harkenwold") takes characters from levels 2 through 4, so, if you also have the Essentials starter set, you can continue here and then grab the Thunderspire labyrinth module. One good thing I found is that the adventure takes place in Harkenwold, another region in the Nentir Vale. If you're a DM looking for more info on this particular setting, this boxed set will be a nice treat, specially since the "Nentir Vale gazeteer" was sucked into nothingness.

4.The tokens provided with this product are durable cardstock. On the reverse of each token is a bloodied version of the monster so you can keep track of that status. Some people complain that the tokens are difficult to pick up, but I've had no problem with that: they're thick enough to be easily grabbed. Nevertheless, I found two issues with the tokens: there are no Minions (Monster vault has a few) and there's no indication of which monster is which (not in the DM book nor in the adventure booklets). If you have other rulebooks and supplements you might recognize a few faces as half-elves, halflings and the like, but at some point you'll be puzzled as to what token represents which monster (the Monser vault book solves this by depicting the token on each monster stat block). If you're as obessive as I am, this can be a bit annoying if you plan to run "Reavers of Harkenwold", but no biggie otherwise.

5.The maps included are actually pretty cool locations: I personally liked the cave with the dragon skull -I'm guessing it's a black dragon skull- a lot, the underground dungeon is very nice, and the walled town can be used as your standard settlement in other adventures.

6.The DM book is like a revised, to-go (the Essentials "core" books seem to be all in smaller, easier to handle, formats), version of the Dungeon master's guide and many parts of it are also featured in the Rules compendium, the only exclusive parts are those pertaining to encounter building and running the game. This is a bit controversial. If you plan to be an all-original DM and build your own adventures, you'll need this book even if you have the Rules compendium, but if you have the Dungeon master's guide and follow the official errata, this DM book will become completely redundant. If you don't have the time to create your adventures from scratch and plan on running published adventures, this book will mostly be irrelevant and the only things this boxed set will offer you are the screen, the tokens, the maps and the adventure booklets. If you plan on running published modules and also have the DMG (and look for the errata), well... You do the math.

In short, I'm very happy with the Dungeon master's kit (even though I have the RC and the DMG1). Even if you have enough resource material to make the DM book to look like the ugly duckling, the rest of the goodies are still worth it.

Maybe if this product included dice, no questions would be asked...
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on April 28, 2011
There is a whole lot of bang for your buck for this kit.

I'm an old-time DM, and I've bought other 4e books in the past, so the Dungeon Master's book is mostly rehashed information I already know about. It is nice to have the latest information summarized in a compact book and I like the size (9x6 softcover) much better than the old hardcover (8.5x11).

What really stands out for me is the included adventure - The Reavers of Harkenwold. This is probably my favorite adventure of all time. It is a sandbox style adventure where the PCs have to collect allies before they can overthrow an oppressive leader. This can be done in any order and the adventurers can choose how they want to go about it. There are colorful NPCs the PCs can interact with with sample give and take dialog. The vale of Harkenwold is nicely fleshed out with lots of locations and descriptions. And at the end you aren't just going up against the big bad evil guy -- you've got to fight through the entire castle!

There are two double-sided poster-sized battle maps included. They've done a great job with these so you have two full-size maps and four half-sized maps. The 'steading' map is first used folded in half, then the other half and then unfolded in it's entirety for three unique encounters. You've also got a cave, dungeon, forest, tavern, steading (already mentioned) and a castle map. There is a ton of re-use here.

Along with the adventure and map, there are three sheets of punch-out hero and monster tokens. All the monster tokens are used in the adventure. The hero tokens are for the adventurers themselves and there is quite a variety so your players should be able to find one that matches their character pretty well.

The DM Screen is thick cardstock, but not as heavy as the separate DM Screen accessory which is like a hardback cover. I happen to like this one better because it takes up less space in my bags and the thinness works well when I hang PC and creature tents on it in initiative order.

So for old DMs and new ones, this is a great product and I highly recommend it.
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on October 24, 2010
This box set includes monster and player tokens, two adventures booklets, a Dungeon Master's book and a DM screen and relevant maps for the adventures.

The adventure is not a continuation from the previous adventure included in the red box. As far as I can see, it's simply another adventure set in the Nentir Vale. This is consistent with WOTC's apparent policy in letting the players 'fill in the gaps' when it comes to narrative structure which can be simultaneously freeing and frustrating. And while there are two booklets, it is simply one adventure.

The monster and player tokens will definitely come in handy but I'm going to need a way to organize them because trying to dig through a pile of small shiny cardboard pieces when all I need is a goblin is not my definition of fun.

The DM'S screen feels a bit flimsy but it does indeed stand up and incorporates current errata, which means my old screen will probably be retired, unless I simply attach this flimsier version to the inside of the old, sturdy copy.

The maps are maps. Nothing special. My one complaint with WOTC maps is that when you try to play with tokens, they will slide all over the place where the map is folded or buckled because the tokens are too light to hold it down. This is a PITA in actual play.

Oddly enough, I've looked at the DM's guide the least. With the Rules Compendium and the DM screen and previous DM's guides, I'm interested to see how much I actually use this one. I'll update this section once I've used this more.

Overally, a very solid product from WOTC. This would be a great gift for the 4th ed DM in your life and it would let Red Box enthusiasts continue their adventures in the Vale.
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on October 24, 2010
In this short video, I'm unpacking the recently released Dungeons and Dragon Essentials: Dungeon Master's Kit.

I'm putting this video up as a reference so other DM's who are thinking about buying this kit can have some idea of what they are getting.

In summary, you get:

1 272 page book
1 DM's screen
2 adventure booklets
2 double sided battle maps
3 sheets of tokens

You get the D&D Essentials Dungeon Master's Book.

At a glance this appears to be basically an abridged version of the DM Guide.

It discusses combat concepts, summarizes other game rules, gives notes on setting up an adventure's background, and it also has a few special items listed in back (though I don't know if they are unique to this book or not).

I'm assuming some of the rule updates and clarifications issued since 4.0 Dungeon Master's came out are included in this book.

There's nothing special about the included DM screen as far as I can tell.
It appears to be the same one I already have.

The two included booklets comprise an adventure called Reavers of Harkenwold, parts 1 and 2.

Part 1 is subtitle: The Iron Circle
It looks like you can play this adventure with just the battle maps included

Part 2 is subtitled: The Die Is Cast

It makes use of the maps included with the kit, but appears to include battle scenes where no map is provided. I'm assuming those will have to be conducted on a blank battle map.

There are two double sided Battle Maps

The first battle map has two full poster size maps covering each side. One one side is small farm, and the other side is a small castle.

The other Battle Map has two half poster size maps on each side. On one side half the map a small tavern and stable, and the other half is cave

On the flip side there a map of an outdoors scene with some sort of Stonehenge type ruins set next to an abandoned cart. Opposite of that is a dungeon scene that seems to cater to some sort of wizard.

There are three sets of Tokens. Two sets of tokens appear to be player and NPC tokens. The other set is a collection of monsters. Some of these tokens I've seen before in various other D&D starter sets I've picked up

And that... petty much sums up what you get
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on February 3, 2014
The Dungeons Master's Kit, even though it was made for the Essentials line, is a handy tool for any 4E DM. Here are the things I liked:

1. It has a nice box that you can store your DM screens, notes, house rules, adventures, ect.
2. it comes with several monster tokens and a whole sheet of PC tokens!
3. It comes with two adventures which you can reskin for any game, including how to run a military campaign and how to siege a castle! (That is right, your heard me. And that in it self was worth making this box 5 stars)

The box also included a DM screen, which is comparable to the thicker cardboard one sold independently, and a DM book that is equivalent to DMG 1 with content and information. In truth, if your just starting off and don't have any books, you got to get this box, you will use everything in it. I would also suggest picking DMG 2 along with it. If you have DMG 1 and the older DM screen already, then chances are, one of these might end up sitting on your shelf collecting dust. Which one depends on you.
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on October 23, 2010
This 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons product from the Essentials line generally achieves its intended purpose: providing an economical entry point into running a 4th edition D&D game. (If you're completely new to role-playing games and tentatively testing the gaming waters, the new red box Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game: An Essential D&D Starter (4th Edition D&D) is a cheaper trial/demo you can consider.)

The Amazon description is slightly inaccurate: There is no 32 page monster book. The heart of the product is the 96 page rule book. It's well written and provides great advice for how to run a game, including an emphasis on encouraging a fun, collaborative, and imaginative shared experience.

The two adventure booklets comprise two parts of a campaign designed to take a party of adventurers from 2nd to 4th level. They are also well written with a clear layout format that makes them easy to run. The adventure itself is laudable in it's immersion into the environment, flexibility of options, and creating the feeling that the heroes' actions have repercussions. Clear illustrations use the provided maps and tokens.

One large two-sided poster map could be cut into two pieces for easier use/portability. The art style is an exact copy of the Dungeon and Dragon tile sets, which is a plus for consistency and integrating those maps with tiles you have or plan to purchase. The other map, also two-sided, is well drawn and complex. It's a distinctly different style. It shares the same strengths and weaknesses as many good poster sized maps: interesting layouts but limited ability to reuse.

I'm not a fan of flat cardstock tokens. They are more difficult to identify around a table and sometimes awkward to manipulate. They may not take well to whatever method you use to show marks/status effects. Stand-up paper miniatures are more functional if actual plastic/metal figures are not viable.

The DM screen is useful with the updated tables and status effects. It uses the exact same art as the older (out-of-date and mistake-ridden) heavier DM screen Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Screen. Although thinner, it seems durable and is lighter for easier transportation. (While it may not be as an attractive of an experience, larger-type player-side tables for conditions and/or actions might be more helpful than the panoramic mural.)

This kit is harder to recommend for veteran players. The rules updates are fairly easy to incorporate if you have the original Dungeon Master's Guide. The updated DM screen is nice, but may not justify buying the kit. The Rules Compendium Rules Compendium: An Essential Dungeons & Dragons Compendium (4th Edition D&D) is more than sufficient to keep abreast of the many "updates."

If you're new to Dungeons & Dragons, or just starting to build your collection, the Kit is a much more worthwhile purchase.
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on June 6, 2013
This kit was hands down... AMAZING

It came with a DM screen with INCREDIBLY important information/guidelines for use while DMing. It also came with a small DM book which guides DM's on how to run their adventures. It also can help seasoned DM's by being a source of inspiration and guidelines for creating cities, towns, characters, regions, and encounters.

In the end, I bought the normal DM book and many information between the two was shared, there are a few things (which at the moment I can't remember) that the normal DM book had that this didn't but they were very small things that really didn't matter unless you were looking for something incredbily specific

A definate must for anyone wanting to run a great campaign.

Oh! Also, if memory serves me right ( I bought this a few months ago) It also came with a few punch out tokens to use for the PC's and monsters. So basically, this kit would be all you need to create adventures! (still need players handbooks in order to make PCs)
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on May 20, 2011
After seeing the poor reviews for the Red Box, I decided to buy this as an alternative start-up kit. I thought it was a very nice quality set, and aside from the class books, it had almost everything my friends and I needed to start playing.

I think my one complaint is the lack of a dry-erase grid. I can understand not including dice, because they would add quite a bit of cost to production. However, they include two double-sided battle maps. I would have greatly prefered they only gave one double sided map of a few of the more highly used maps, and then provided a blank grid instead of the other map. Some of the encouters don't take place on the given maps anyways, so I don't think it'd be too detrimental to take away a few more of them.

Overall though, it's a good kit. The book provided tells you all the rules that are important enough to care about, and you can more-or-less start playing with just this, one of the class books, and a set of dice. You'll just have to reuse a map or two and pretend to not notice the striking resemblence.
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