A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

[Review Corner] Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Red Box Starter Set Part 4b: D&D Encounters part 2

As I mentioned last week, I gave D&D Encounters a shot, recreating Rufus using the proper Essentials rules in about 10 minutes and then running him with the folks in The Keep on the Borderlands remake.

I returned this week with about 8 of us playing in one group.

This week we found a bank on fire.  Upon entering it we found multiple Fire and Water Elementals causing trouble, the Fire ones leaving little bits of the place burning.

We went in to fight, getting to experience continuous damage effects via fire that caused damage per turn, with a 50% chance to "save" against the effect at our actions' end each round.  A nifty puzzle element was added, plus clues as to where we were going next.

My continued reading of the rules kept me being the de facto helper player, showing folks how to Charge and Run, plus having the Essentials rulesbooks let me help flesh out PC abilities which were only summarized on the pregenerated sheets everyone else was using.  (One of the Clerics had an error on their card, it not listing that his "Smite Undead" power only worked on Undead while the other Cleric's and the Essentials Heroes book said it was UNDEAD ONLY.)

I discovered more effective uses for my Knight.  See Rufus has an "Aura" you can activate as a minor action.  Anyone adjacent to him targeting anyone but him or another character with that same aura activated take a -2 to hit anyone else.  Having this activated also allows for attacks on anyone attacking or shifting.  Which looks to include Opportunity Attacks.  So when my teammates moved past me to get in (and try to avoid taking damage from the fires spouting up everywhere) the monsters got an Attack of Opportunity.  With a -2 because of my aura.  And I got a free attack on the monster, that even if I miss, I do my Strength Bonus in damage to it!  (Which is +4 as Rufus is 18 STR.  But remember "Minion" monsters don't take Miss Effect damage.)

Now a vindictive DM is eventually just going to target us Knights with this active, though as we have 11 Healing Surges and normally the best Armor Class and highest Hit Points, this sort of works.  Like in an MMO, we become the "Tanks" the monsters go for, leaving our buddies alone.

Which lets them do COOL STUFF.

Like our Rogue.  As in my reviews, I have mentioned "Combat Advantage" which you get for various situations.  A main way to get it is to have 2 characters/monsters directly opposite of each other surrounding an opponent.  This provides a +2 bonus to hit.  Now Rogues gain an extra 2D6!!!  damage against something they have Combat Advantage on.  And once per encounter a Rogue has an Encounter Power adding an additional +3 to hit and an extra 1d6 damage.   Our Rogue hit one Elemental for 1d4+6 (Rogues using light weapons use their Dex bonus to hit and damage, with an extra +2 to damage on top.  I assume he was Dex 18) +3D6.  Now at 30th level the bonus dice would be 9D6 not even counting improved stat bonuses and magic gear!

Yes kids, there is MASSIVE numbers inflation in Essentials as compared to pre 4e D&D.

Then after we won we found a Level X Magic Item.  Instead of it being preset and secret, in 4e you KNOW what they are without needing to Identify them, and in Encounters' case whoever got the item gets to decide what it is based on an "Appropriate to Your Level" chart.  I voted the Rogue should have gotten it for that Billy Bad Ass attack (That I helped him with both in giving the Combat Advantage AND explaining how it all worked), but we ended up rolling off and the long term 4e player (running a Wizard who did some nifty stuff too really) got it, meaning he is upped first, but is now out of the running for the loot for a while.

I am still enjoying the game.  Its still not much RP, but it is very fun as a Braunstein.  And it doesn't take all too much time to play out each week, giving me at least a LIGHT RPG fix.

(One week will be tricky though.  Game starts at 6 where I play it, and a friend gets out at 6 and we should be going to The Dark Manor Haunted House in Norwich CT on a Wednesday so one day I will be engaging foul monsters then driving 20 minutes quickly after the game to go through a more fancy setup of spooks and ghouls.)

I am going to attempt to make it each and every Wednesday that I can at least for the Keep adventure and will keep y'all updated with rules I discover, filling in the gaps from my series of review comics.

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