D&D 4e New Players and Playgroups: What to Buy

alt textMemorial Day weekend essentially means summer is here, and after all your delicious BBQs, drinks of choice, lawn games and whatever crazy dancing you may or may not throw in, it’s also a great time of year to try some new things, including new games or returning to some gaming passions you’ve taken a break from.

Now that D&D 4th edition has been out a few years, if you have some friends you’d like to introduce to D&D 4e or want to start a new playgroup of your own or simply get everybody together again and relaunch one, it can be a little daunting or unclear as far as how to start, what to buy, and where to buy it. 

Want some help?  Here’s a few quick and simple lists:

What to Buy

For a single new player or a player returning from a break:

1) D&D Red Box
2) The 2 Essentials Player’s Guides (or, PHB, PHB2 and PHB3)
3) Essentials Rules Compendium

For a brand new playgroup getting into D&D today or a relaunching group after a break, I’d recommend a mix of older and newer stuff:

1) D&D Red Box
2) The 2 Essentials Player’s Guides (or, PHB, PHB2 and PHB3)
3) Essentials Rules Compendium
4) DM’s Kit and DMG2 (or, DM’s Kit, DMG and DMG2)
5) Monster Vault and MM3 (or Monster Vault, MM, MM2 and MM3)

And at the table, for rules and rule books you and your playgroup only really need:

1) Rules Compendium (multiple copies encouraged, one per player and DM)
2) Deluxe Dungeon Master’s Screen (one or two, depending on your table space and style for however many DMs your group might have or rotate)

Honorable Mention?  Either at the table or especially between sessions, it’s hard to beat the value of being a D&D Insider too.  For a small monthly fee, you get some great digital tools, plus other great perks, like some insider-only articles from Dragon and Dungeon magazines, preview content or tools, and more.  If you love the digital age as much as I do though, being a D&D Insider goes well beyond an honorable mention! 

Note: On the lists above, I’d rate the “or” options as either even or only slightly less desirable, though first listed options will generally save you more money.

Where to Buy

Amazon is usually an excellent place to find D&D products at often greatly discounted prices and has been for many years and editions. 

Finding books in big bookstores or hobby or entertainment stores is hit or miss in my experience.  Sometimes Borders bookstores has things, though their selection isn’t great from what I’ve seen.  Some Newbury Comics stores have now really upped their D&D product selection in recent years. 

You can also find the D&D Red Box in other stores now too, like Target, Walmart and big name toystores.

Go Play!

Now that you’ve ordered or have everything you need, read up or just go play! 

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!

7 Responses to “D&D 4e New Players and Playgroups: What to Buy”

  1. RoboKomdo says:

    Good summary of the “essentials”. While my group and are not using much of the material from Essentials, it’s good to see a concise list for people who want to get into the game or back to it after some years. If my Rules Compendium isn’t on the game table, it’s in someones hands. I can’t endorse that book enough!

    Concerning where to buy:
    Here in Canada, we do not have Target (coming in 2012/3), and our Walmart does not carry D&D materials (they also don’t carry booze or guns, but that’s another discussion!) In my experience, the only places to get them are independent hobby/game stores or Indigo/Chapters/Coles, and they don’t usually carry a lot in stock. I’ve gotten almost all my books from ordering online from Chapters, and they usually have a pretty good discount on them (same as Amazon).

    • Kilsek says:

      Thanks for your comment and welcome to Leonine Roar, RoboKomdo! With so many gamers having so many choices, digital or otherwise, I think people take breaks from a particular hobby more often than ever. I put these lists together with both those gamers and new players very much in mind.

  2. […] 5. New Players and Playgroups: What to Buy […]

  3. YronimosW says:

    Hello! That looks like a very comprehensive list.

    The only things I could think to add would be:

    A dry-erase 1″x1″ gaming grid, like the ones made by Paizo or Chessex, to temporarily sketch dungeons, maps, diagrams, illustrations, and more onto. I haven’t had a chance to try one out at the table yet since my group is currently inactive, but I’ve heard dozens of strong recommendations from folks who have used them and loved them.

    Dungeon Tiles – “The Dungeon” boxed set from the Essentials line should be more than enough to build a variety of interesting dungeon areas with. Not required for play (especially if you can print out your own maps or have a dry-erase grid), but they are a nice extra. (There are many other Dungeon Tiles sets available in a variety of themes, but I’m more likely to use sets with dungeon and cavern themes than anything else, and find “The Dungeon” to be a set that will cover most bases pretty easily.)

    And, for those who like the “Monster Vault” and other WotC boxed sets, the following boxed sets are nice:
    “Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale”
    “The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond”
    Both of these sets contain monster and NPC tokens, themed maps, and books describing local monsters and campaign setting information that can be easily used as-is, or modified slightly and plugged into other settings. They look like they’ll mix-and-match with the Red Box, Monster Vault, and DM’s Kit boxed sets quite nicely.


    • Kilsek says:

      Hello YronimosW, thanks for your comment and welcome to Leonine Roar!

      Great suggestions. I actually talk about all the mapping options for 4e in my Mapping Options Deathmatch article, listing pros and cons for each, so you might enjoy that too.

      And agreed, the newer boxed sets – including the DM’s Kit – are coming more and more “ready to play,” right out of the box, which is great for new and returning DMs and playgroups.

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