Unboxing the New D&D Red Box

Scott Tortorice

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This is interesting:

Unboxing the New D&D Red Box

The new 4th Edition Red Box has everything that you need to run and play a game of Dungeons & Dragons, from dice to maps to character sheets and tokens. Wizards was kind enough to send along some Funyons and Cheetos, as well as a few miniatures and graph paper, all essential tools to any good tabletop game.

Take a look at the photos of our unboxing of The Escapist's Red Box. The plan is to lock some of our less-experienced gaming employees in a room with the Red Box, the Funyons and some foam swords. Four hours later, they will have become grognards like the rest of us.
What do you old hand D&D players make of this? Seems like a clever idea to me.

Q: I've always been curious about something: what computer game do you think comes closest to capturing the tabletop D&D experience?
 
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From what I have seen of comments at Wizards, the Red Box is 100% fail and worthless.

The bottom line appears to be it is not totally in sync with either 4.0 core wordings of the design, or with anything expected out for Essentials.

It might play ok, but apparently it has rules statements that make no sense. And in the end, the buyer will find, that anything made in Red Box will not be essentially able to migrate to REAL D&D 4th edition without first being corrected. Everything you learn in Red Box will need to be re examined first before entering the real deal.

Clearly whoever was in charge of production of Red Box, according to initial reports, was either a retard, or merely incompetent.

Move along people, nothing to see here, you were actually supposed to buy the Essentials products if this game intrigues you.

Red Box is just a bad gag of a joke on old timers with a gullible weakness to nostalgia.
 
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Q: I've always been curious about something: what computer game do you think comes closest to capturing the tabletop D&D experience?

None of them, not a single one.

Last night I proved this beyond a shadow of a doubt (ran a session of my current 4th edition game against some friends).
In a computer game, it's just you. In an MMO it is still just you. In both you could be sitting there butt naked, no one cares. Your gender is immaterial. Your age of no relevance.
In the real thing, it helps to have all your players present, but as last night showed, it's not vital. Try playing a computer role game if half the group can't make it. Oh you won't miss your main tank and super healer......

In a real role game, the rules ARE just guidelines. In a computer game, the design is absolute, is not changing short of a hack and that usually leads to being banned.
In a real role game, the adventure is what I say it is from moment to moment. In a computer game, all you have is what was released, as released, and there won't be anything till the next expansion which will look the same for everyone. Once you've played it, you've played it. Same fight ad naseum.
World of Warcraft wouldn't interest me even if it was as good as it is and free.

I play my game through the use of my laptop.
All my books are there (the hard way).
I run my game with adventure modules (those I prefer in actual print).
It's a shame Wizards was able to promise us a virtual table, but not competent enough to understand how to deliver on it.
Still the PC Generator is a great tool.
I need an instantaneous 2nd level elven woodsy animal friend type NPC for the next game. It will take me about 30 seconds to make him. Fat chance of that being possible in your 1st edition game :)

The computer can be a great tool for running a paper n pencil game, but is worthless in actually providing an actual game.
It is handy though I suppose, for nerds and geeks wanting to game, and not need to worry they are nerds and geeks.
But there simply isn't any actual socializing in computer role games, and THAT is the only reason we played them in the 70s.
 

Scott Tortorice

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Thanks for the feedback on the Red Box. I thought it sounded like a clever idea to get some old timers back into the game, but from what you describe, it is just a shameless marketing gimmick. How foolish is that.

Q: I've always been curious about something: what computer game do you think comes closest to capturing the tabletop D&D experience?

None of them, not a single one.

Last night I proved this beyond a shadow of a doubt (ran a session of my current 4th edition game against some friends).

In a computer game, it's just you. In an MMO it is still just you. In both you could be sitting there butt naked, no one cares. Your gender is immaterial. Your age of no relevance.

In the real thing, it helps to have all your players present, but as last night showed, it's not vital. Try playing a computer role game if half the group can't make it. Oh you won't miss your main tank and super healer......
That was my take too, but I thought I was missing something. :) I only played a few actual sessions of D&D back in my school days, but I enjoyed them even though the hobby never clicked with me (I was already hopelessly enamored with wargaming :)). Every now and then, though, I find myself desiring a good session of questing in the fashion of tabletop D&D. As a computer gamer, that invariably means I turn to one of the MMORPGs or single player RPGs. Yet every time I jump into one of these games, it never seems to resemble the core essence of a real D&D session. It all feels so...artificial. Like I'm just going through the motions. I never care for my character because it never feels like I am actually developing a unique character. I don't enjoy the quests because they all feel game-y and I know I am following in the footsteps of a thousand other people who killed the same monster in the same way, and was given the same loot. I would love to find a MMORPG or single player RPG that has the epic, sandbox nature of a true session of D&D, but I just don't think such a thing exists...which is amazing when you consider all the RPGs out there.
 
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One of the biggest misconceptions out there, is likely that adults don't play paper n pencil role games, that it is something 'only teenagers play'.

In my own gaming, I have a pool of about 10-12 regularly playing adult role gamers. By adult I also don't mean early 20 and thus not a teen. Nope, the 'younguns' are in their 30s and half of us are in our 40s.

There is really only one requirement to play paper n pencil role games as an adult. It's the same skill used to play wargames. You need to decide it's going to happen and make it so.

You'd need to be quite the lonely hopeless wretch to have no friends, and as adults it just means asking 'hey, anyone care to check out playing [insert game design here]'.

I game with as many married types as I do singles. I game with my wife, and she even games in her own separate games as well.
The old complaint 'no time' is crap. Everyone has spare time, but, not everyone considers a gaming get together as high enough on the priority list is all.
That doesn't translate as no time, it translates into no interest :)

The Red Box might have been a good idea, but not surprisingly, Wizards of the Coast is more lucky than brilliant too often.
In this case they weren't. The product is likely worthless.
An interested individual, would do better to just buy into the Essentials if they really give a damn at all. They're not getting a better deal getting the slightly cheaper Red Box.
 

Scott Tortorice

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One of the biggest misconceptions out there, is likely that adults don't play paper n pencil role games, that it is something 'only teenagers play'.
I hear you. That is the same nonsense I always hear about computer games. It drives me up the wall! I love to tell the non-gaming snobs that the average age for gaming is 34, with a full 25% of gamers being over 50*, and then watch them being forced to get off their high horse.

The old complaint 'no time' is crap. Everyone has spare time, but, not everyone considers a gaming get together as high enough on the priority list is all.
That doesn't translate as no time, it translates into no interest
Yes! Another pet peeve of mine! The same folks who tell me they have "no time for games' are the ones who dedicate their entire weekend to watching every baseball or football GAME. :rolleyes:

Be of good cheer, my friend. Gaming is going mainstream. Soon, the folks who look down their noses at gaming are going to be the odd-men out.

*= can't find the link, but those figures were just mentioned in Verizon's latest newsletter.
 
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After a bit more time, and after seeing both Red Box vs Starter Set circa 2008, the Red Box has only two customers.

Idiot collectors who think the cover makes it worth buying and people with absolutely no clue what a role game is.

If you have ever played ANY role game EVER before including even video game versions, then the condescending nature of Red Box might actually be irritating.
It's written as if you have been both under a rock and have the gaming experience of a 3 year old. It's written as if you are stupid. Too stupid to just understand the games rules.

At least the Starter set didn't presume you didn't know sweet diddly about role games.

It's unlikely I know anyone that is of sufficiently clueless state to need this product. And it also presumes those people are not interesting enough for me to want to play with them such that I could just run a 1st level game for them instead.

Red Box is thus for people that are true social misfits that have miraculously avoided almost all of the electronic gaming market, and have never once played any form of paper n pencil role game. Aside from a group of Amish kids, I can't picture them.
 

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That sucks. I was seriously considering picking this up for my 11 year old nephew who has evidenced interest about table top role playing. I was looking for a nice intorductory product to help him get hsi feet wet - not sure if $ 60 for three hard cover rule books is the way to go for a brand new player.

ah well - maybe Memoir '44 instead adn start him down the path to ASL.
 

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Well the box does say "Starter Set" & not "For experienced Rp gamers" so based on what's been said here it must deliver exactly what it says, a starting point for entirely new or young players. As easy as the game is to pick up on how to play D&D (not necessarily master it) you'd probably be ready to advance to the main game very quickly after giving the Red Box a few plays. Although there may be other ways to introduce them to RP gaming.

Way back when... I bought the original "White Box" (and still have it) while Gygax was in the next room showing other players how to play his new game. That box was for beginners too, but they were written as if you were an experienced player.

You can't replace a face-to-face board game with a computer game / MMO no matter how much chatting or socializing you try to do online. The fun is the entire experience of getting together with friends, joking around, chatting AND playing the game. You can never tell what excitement will happen in a game with a real GM and real players: while you can always tell exactly what will happen in a scripted computer game, but you have to make your own fun from that type action.

I find LotRO which I play is fun, (better if you run with other players) but not the same type of fun I had while running my D&D campaigns with family & freinds (I also had my wife playing & some of my sons.) :D
 
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At Wizards forums, the consensus seems to be, the 'core' manuals known as Players Handbook 1 Monster Manual 1 Dungeon Masters Guide 1 often sold as a nice boxed set are doomed to become an out of print product destined to not be called 'core' and in fact will be effectively replaced by Rules Compendium, Red Box, and the new Essentials Expansions.

There's no shortage of talk that players honestly expect to be told the real core books will be less than welcome at 'official' events and plenty of gamers tables in general.

Not a problem if you are the DM of course, but players are at risk clearly, of being told their Players 1 and additionally Players 2 and 3 copies will be more and more a waste of money due to errata revision contained in the Essentials books.
Additionally, you will be likely to experience players that have bought into buying the Essentials goods, and expecting them to be considered the new canon.

Myself, I have Players 1 2 3 and the Monster Manual 1 and 2 as well as the DMG, in addition to numerous settings books.
And no, I don't spend a lot of my life at Wizards worrying if I have all the latest errata.

Dungeons and Dragons isn't f%$#@$#@@king ASL where accuracy means something serious.
It's just a role game damn it. As the DM, I have been told the 'rules' were always GUIDES!!!
Yes I am cool with acknowledging known typos. If a monster has been errata'd to have a different number of hit points or AC from stats that were clearly screwed up in the first print run, that's ok to revise. If a PC power has been corrected as a typo clearly made it goofy, I'm likely going to make the change.

I don't though think the game needs tweaking edits to be given special consideration in all cases.

The bottom line, I think Red Box while potentially a good idea, was completely buggered in execution. Buy it at your own risk.
I think the Essentials have been as mangled a delivery as the ASL Starters too. No, I don't think MMP has done the Starters all that brilliantly.
I think Red Box and Essentials, along with the ASL Starters have been more about the needs of the relevant company needing money, than my needing the product.
I'd be ok with it, if they could just be honest with that truth.

I get really pissed off though when the lie is exposed and they refuse to come clean.

The best route to Dungeons and Dragons, assuming the player is older than 10 and not a complete idiot and not so badly socially skilled they likely have no close friends, is to buy the Player's Handbook and just read the first two frigging chapters. It's 30 pages of ordinary basic grade 7 level reading.
If it is too hard, my advice, forget D&D and spend the time on your F#%$#@%king English homework until you CAN read.
I have no intention of cutting an adult any slack though.
A player is NOT required to master the manual in one read, nor are they even required to read the entire manual.
You don't read the race details of the other races, just the one(s) you think sound interesting.
You don't read all the classes notes just the one(s) that interest you.
Each race and each class has a brief paragraph describing it.
Read them and make up your f^$@$%#king mind basically.

If I sound a little harsh, it is because I have read sooooo many threads at Wizards written by people clearly lacking basic thinking skills in many cases.
Maybe it is too many video games, resulting in too little reading required leading to people that just can't read, and thus really are not really all that smart at all.
And it is not a fault of just the young any more. I find adults can be just as dumb.

I'll say it flat out, I don't want you in my game, if you can't read the 30 pages of Chapters 1 and 2 of the Players Handbook. I require a higher level of intellect present at the table.
The person who gets to be the DM, try to be the smart one in the group. Try to be the person that in a group of 4 in a homework assignment always seems to be the one that gets all the work done. Because being a DM means you do a lot more than the players will be doing. Be the one with the most imagination. Be the one that likes to draw a lot. Be the one with the best reading skills because you will be reading the most.
Because the DM needs to make the world come alive, needs to control all the monsters and NPCs and has to understand the game's basic mechanics the most.

The DM ideally should have read the books before the group ever meets. Because if the box is opened, and the DM has never done anything more than any of the first time players, well, your game isn't going to happen that night and that's just the brutal facts of the matter. You'd have been better off buying the D&D board game.

My first game many years ago went like this. Here, play this fighter, roll these dice.
But the key detail, was the guy running the game had done it before.
In time I became the guy running the game.
And I can tell you, no one is going to be doing any real good as the DM if he has no previous experience and has seen the game precisely as long as the players at the table.
And it doesn't really matter if you are young or old.

The Red Box is a life preserver that is improperly inflated, and won't save anyone when they are thrown into the deep end.
A real Players Handbook will not do anyone any harm. It is the real game.
The cost of a core manuals set is more than you will pay for the Red Box. I say get over it too.
Because the Red Box is a MacDonald's happy meal while the real core manuals are a proper steak dinner.
You get what you paid for.
 
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