Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition
General Concept/Setting: 7/10
Spencer: As this game is in its 5th iteration, the setting has not really developed over that time. The fact that the universe has been created and inspired so many others is something remarkable. It really was the first RPG to develop and also create the fantastic world it did. Granted, it borrowed ideas from other fantasy and folklore, but it finally gave life to those things in a way that books and stories never did.
Tyler: The land of Faerun is the main setting for all official Dungeon and Dragon’s campaigns. Though it uses many of the common fantasy troupes it does expand upon those cliches and even creates new and exciting versions of them. Wizards of the Coast has done amazing work into expanding their world, adding new monsters, and creating memorable towns and experiences for their players.
Learning Curve: 8/10
Spencer: This game is pretty quick to pick up on. The reason I don’t rate it higher is because of the length of the rules. The basic mechanics are easy to work with, but the rulebook is really big and can take a lot of time to get through. In terms of accessibility, it definitely is on the easier side of the spectrum and one of the most friendly for gamers to get into.
Tyler: When it comes to table top RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition is probably one of the easiest game to pick up. Though the numerous rule books and extra content can leave players feeling overwhelmed, the basic mechanics are extremely simple and easy to understand. Some magic classes can be confusing at first, but after playing for some time they become second hand.
Character Creation: 7/10
Spencer: There is a wide range and combination of races and classes to play. Each class has archetypes that can be used. Character advancement is easy after you have done it once or twice. The issue that I take is that after you play for a year or two, you kind of play out a lot of the styles of play. It is nice that Wizards of the Coast creates new things for the game, but in general I get tired of the same style of play because even if you aren’t the one playing it, someone else in your party is and that can be just as tiresome.
Tyler: Character creation is pretty straight forward, and with a solid book format players just need to turn a few pages to continue in the process. Wizards of the Coast does provide you with a lot of options when creating characters with various classes with each having multiple archetypes you can choose. Character backgrounds seem pretty bland, only granting a rarely used ability and a few skill proficiencies. Also weapon choices are slim and provide no real benefit except extra damage, thus its hard to choose more interesting weapons to give up on that damage potential. The nice thing is Wizards of the Coast is always pumping out new content so you will always have new character options.
Spencer: The balance in this game plays to its detriment. The magic casters feel pretty darn similar in the end with only the Druid really standing out. The others have more or less the same spells and there is too much overlap. There are some really powerful classes like the barbarian or warlock, but in general, a lot of other classes feel the same. A balanced game doesn’t mean all equal, it means all valuable and players to have a voice. In this, most players blend together and it doesn’t end up being a ton of fun. Plus there are a couple of classes that are completely disposable.
Tyler: In general D&D is a fairly balanced game, but almost too much. Most magic classes use the same spells, combat based classes have similar mechanics to grant extra attacks. The biggest issue I have with D&D 5e is the fact that you can roll any skill. I can’t count the number of times the magic user is rolling an arcana roll and fails, then the party’s numb skull barbarian rolls extremely well and knows that random magical fact. I feel like this really hurts the game’s balance/immersion as everyone is an expert in all things if they roll well.
Gameplay – Combat: 6/10
Spencer: The spell list is probably the best thing about combat and allows the spellcasters the most interesting part in combat. Most everyone else is going to do more or less the same thing for their turns, especially characters like fighters or rangers. While archetypes eventually can get you interesting powers, I’d say most fights devolve into slug-fests with even spell casters only using one or two of their favorite spells until they run out of slots.
Tyler: Combat can be as exciting or as boring as you and your players make it. Mechanically speaking I agree with Spencer in the fact that usually combats involve melee fighters brawling it out in a giant clump while range and spell casters bomb from behind. Combat wise, magic is the most interesting, allowing players to create conditions, terrain effects, and giving them almost limitless creative options. With opportunity attack mechanics, it really makes combat stagnant and unmoving. But all in all the D&D combat system is smooth and efficient.
Gameplay – Exploration: 5/10
Spencer: The skill checks most commonly boil down to athletics, acrobatics, stealth, or perception. While there are a lot of other “skills” that can be used, they are rarely employed because of the difficulty in developing a good contest for them. I think because it is such a fixed system that most commonly takes place in cities, more skills should exist for that sort of interaction.
Tyler: I think D&D is a solid system for exploration, but it really boils down to how much effort the Dungeon Master and the players put into it. The game provides a number of skill to be used for checks so players can think of multiple ways to skin the cat. D&D also provides rules for traveling long distances, going without food and water, and other key parts of survival exploration based mission, but I found these rules to be very brutal, annoying to track, and really kill the mood of your players.
Gameplay – Role Playing: 8/10
Spencer: The game really lends itself to characters interacting with each other and allows for good interaction with npc’s as well.
Tyler: With the simple rule sets, and familiar settings it is really easy to get into Role Playing. Everyone has watched Lord of the Rings or some kind of fantasy movie, so taking character ideas and concepts and applying them to your game is very easy.
Spencer: Perhaps this is me having a soft spot for the first game I was in charge of, but it is a really easy game to manage after playing it for a while. Without much other learning, any player can become the GM and lead a good campaign. They definitely have a lot of responsibility with prep work, but it is still an easy thing to do. There is also a ton of material for a GM to use.
Tyler: I think one of the strengths of D&D 5e is the ease of Dungeon Mastering. Wizards of the Coast provides tons of content, monsters, and tools so that you can succeed and have a great time playing! Along with simple rules, you don’t have to worry about constantly digging into the rule book. Finally, creating homebrew content for this game is super user friendly as Wizards of the Coast provides tons of material to help you create NPCs, monsters, and even your own settings. Whenever I play D&D it’s usually in my own homebrew created world because it’s so much easier to do so.
Spencer: You have to invest in at least the core rulebook and monster manual as a GM in order to play the game. As a player, you just need the rulebook. I’d say in terms of cost/ value, it is on the lower end of the spectrum. You have the option to buy a lot of supplemental materials which are a lot of fun, but they aren’t necessary. The developers also do a good job of coming out with new campaigns frequently.
Tyler: D&D is some what on the pricier side of table top RPGs as you will need the player’s handbook, dungeon masters guide, and a monster manual, each at about $25. If you’re just a player you can get away with just the Player’s Handbook, but if you are Dungeon Mastering you’ll need at least the three. After getting those three books, Wizards of the Coast releases tons of extra campaign books, extra monster manuals, and new player options so if you want to expand and try new things you’ll have to pay up. You use to be able to find most of the player class options online, but with the release of D&D Beyond, Wizards of the Coast has really cracked down on 3rd party sites displaying their content.
Spencer: For some people, they can play this game forever and not get tired of it. To me, the checks get old and characters tired. The fact that the developers make the new campaigns frequently and also other free material does make the game more playable long-term, but I think the variety is pretty limited.
Tyler: Dungeons and Dragons is great for either playing massively long campaigns or one shot sessions. The leveling up mechanics are well balanced and make longer campaigns worth playing as you reach higher and higher levels. Though I personally have gotten bored of D&D as I have played pretty much everything.
Overall Score: D10
Spencer: While this isn’t the best game, it is a very fun game that all gamers would enjoy. I think it is where most people start, but I do not think it is a place everyone should stop. There are a ton of more games that are more intense, more comprehensive, and simply more than DND 5e. This is by no means saying it is a bad game, but there are plenty of others that I would pick up before returning to a campaign in this system.
Tyler: D&D is the perfect gateway table top game. It is easy, popular, and quick to pick up. There is a ton of content so it will take you a long time to get bored, but even then Wizards of the Coast is constantly pumping out new content so you’ll always have new campaigns, classes, and monsters!
Our Play test
Want to learn how to play D&D 5e or just want to dip your toes and see what everyone is raging about? Check out the Roll Playing Guys series where we play D&D 5e in our very own homebrew (Custom made) campaign. Join our heroes Ricardo, Threen, and Brookes as they fight to save humanity from the clutches of an ancient foe. As the purple haze spreads over the land, will our heroes be able to reverse its effects of will they join the countless dead?