I did a post on miniatures a few weeks back but I wanted to spend a little more time on the D&D board game option because I really thing as a brand new DM looking to have some visuals, this is a great place to start. Here’s why.
This is the most resent addition to my miniature collection that just arrived yesterday. For it’s self it has everything you need to play a great board game with friends, but it is also so much more. I have already mentioned all the stuff that comes in it, but here I am going to focus on the stuff I use. I have started DMing a game for some friends (adults). We meet every week (or three) depending on peoples schedules, and we meet at game shop that is currently located. This makes it difficult, though not impossible, to bring all my sets and buildings to each game. So again, here is why this is the greatest FIRST THING TO BUY if you are looking to do 2D / 2.5D / 3D gaming:
The board games come with 5 player characters, a variety of small and medium, 2-3 large monsters and one huge monster. They come with a great sculpt from classic D&D figures that you can paint to your own style, which I personally LOVE to do. Each game comes with different figures so you wont end up with a massive amount of one miniature, you will get 1-3 of a particulate sculpt and no more.
The next thing that comes in each box is about 40 dungeon tiles! That might not seem like anting interesting, but I looked into mats, maps, and dungeon tiles, and they cost between $20 for a basic grid and a simple map to about $50 if you want to get a more detailed birds eye view of a space and a few 3D punch out tiles you build your self. All of those are great options, and if you are looking for outdoor settings the maps are great. However, if you are just starting out and don’t really know WHAT your game style is or how you are going to want to run your games, there is no point in hashing out a huge chunk of cash for a tone of accessories you may not end up needing. The board games come with a few simple tiles that fit together and allow for some creativity in their assembly.
Each board game comes with an adventure book that has a few options for games to play, these are great inspiration for starting a game. They each come with player cards, tokens, and a number of other things specific to the board game, but each has a few bits and bobs I have taken to my game table for D&D.
The first thing of the bits and bobs that I love is the life counters. Yeah we can all count (one would hope) and we can keep track of our life total, but if there is a physical representation in front of you, other people in the party can also be aware of where you are at. This allows a healer to see where you are at and toss a heal your way, another party member to remind you that you might want to drink a potion before you jump off a cliff or even more of a clear picture to your self that you are looking a little low and might want to either rest or take it carefully. The next item is a “healing surge” token, that I use as healing kits. A player can toss it on the table and continue their turn while the person unconscious now can roll to heal and toss it in a pile when they are conscious again. Both of these items are found in each game, though they might look a little different for each set.
The next item is found in the Drizzt game, and that’s the chest. They are birds eye view of a treasure chest unopened on one side of the card and a message as to weather it is empty, trapped or if it holds loot. I love tossing these on a board and then see what they get.
That brings me to loot bags, or gold rewards. This item can me found in the Ashardalon game. There a several of each copper, silver, gold, platinum and gems and their value in gold pieces. Sometimes I’ll have actual loot pouches prepared, other times I use these if I’m more in a grab and go mood.
From the Ravenloft game I use the secret passages that also have text on the back for more details on what they have found, and lastly are time tokens, these can also be found in every game. I uses these to count out days to show the passage of time. Sometimes the players what to know who long a travel took, or if they have a time sensitive quest, this is a way to always be able to look up and know where they are at.
So in my opinion, if you are just starting out you get all the essentials you need to start playing with the exception of a players handbook and a DM’s guild, both of which can be downloaded in PDF form from the D&D web site for free. Once you start playing and get a good feel for how you personally like to run a game, you will find out what more you need and chose to buy or build it.
I hope this helped. I know it was a great find when I stumbled upon it, and I wish someone would have pointed it out sooner. Enjoy.