DDI's Report Card

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Lokiare's thread got me thinking.  I don't think it is possible for anyone to say whether DDI is "worth the money" for anyone except themselves, because we all place different values on different things.  I.e. The CB being online is neither here nor there for me, for for others its a dealbreaker. But I think we can give our own opions of how well they are doing in various ways for people to read and they can see what people like/don't like and why and a "report card" format seems like a nice, non hyperbolic way to do it.  Heck, maybe WOTC will be interested in improving their grades. So here are my grades for various aspects, and why.  YMMV, of course.  The criteria that seemed logical to grade were the various components (magazines, CB, etc) and an overall customer service grade.

Magazines: D+  This may sound harsh but its actually up from the F I would have given them just two months ago.  There is still only a minimal amount of content that interests me, but at least now there is some.  Plus they have gotten better about turning their work in on time.  If they keep it up, their grade can improve.

Character Builder:  C Adequate for the task but definately not wow inducing.  I can make a character on it alright, but there is sooooo much room for improvement.  Customization of th character sheet for instance.

Adventure Tools: D- Not really all that useful in their present form.  The only thing that keeps this from being an F is that there have beeen a couple of ocasions that I found the limited functions that it has useful.  But those have been few and far between. Needs improvement badly.

Compendium: C Useful at times.  But has some omissions and quirks that irritate me.

Virtual Table: B Good but with some annoying quirks.  ALso not out of beta yet, so not everyone has acccess. Still, with a bit of polish and some added functionality has a shot an A

Customer Service:  C  Their communication has improved, but it wasn't great before.  Contacting them with a problem usually gets it resolved quickly, but I have to do it far to often for my taste.  

Total GPA: 1.8 Passing, but if my kid brought home a report card like that, there'd be a grounding in their future.
My grades:

Magazines:  C-.  This would be a C if they actually still were real magazines.  This would be a B if I weren't skimming the table of contents these days and not reading anything ... 


Character Builder: B.  Call me crazy but I like it, it works for me, and I don't have any issues at all except for some printing problems.  This would be an A grade if I could have more than 20 characters at once. 


Adventure Tools:  F.  Oh boy.  The Monster Builder I gave up on - pen and paper and an excel spreadsheet for level up scripts works for me.    

Compendium: A-.  Fix the typos and the minor errors here and there, and you've got a solid A.  I tell people I pay for DDI just for this.

Virtual Table: I.  This gets an incomplete because I've never tried it.

CustServ: C.  Average, straight up.  No complaints, no kudos.       


  
magazines: B- i have no problem with them not putting out compiled issues but its a big problem for some people. content-wise i've been very satisfied for the last several months.

character builder B- it's being updated regularly and i like it better than the old one honestly. still a little slow but it looks nice and does a fine job of doing what it's supposed to.

adventure tools F im not a dm but with a monster builder this bad  im glad i dont have to use it.

compendium A- by far the most used part of my ddi subscription, i wish the search feature worked a little better but it's by no means bad.

virtual table D- it gets blown out of the water by maptools and has no option to import a dnd4e file from the builder, which could have really set it above other VT programs.

customer service B- whenever i've used it they'e been quick and accurate, other's results might have been different though

overall im very happy with DDI currently and DnD in general, im having a ton of fun playing the game and the tools only get better with each month.
Magazines:  B

Character Builder: B

Adventure Tools:  D

Compendium
: A

Virtual Table
: A, but could become a lot lower if they dont eventually add features and allow adventure sharing/pc export

CustServ
: N/A 
magazines: B+ I like new content.  This is the most steady stream of new content.  It's typically well done, maybe lacking a bit in quantity, but that seems to be on the rise again.
 
character builder C- I have little to no use for the character builder since I am predominantly a DM.  But I'm still not a fan of the latest incarnation.  The old CB was average, this is not as good as the old CB.

adventure tools F The offline monster builder is functional.  The online one is utterly useless.  I'm rating the new since that is the new direction and the old is no longer getting support.  There needs to be more adventure tools.

compendium B- Functional and useful but needs an overhaul to make it more efficient.  Seems to frequently have holes in the data.
 
virtual table Incomplete It's in beta.  As such, it doesn't even count as part of the DDI package.  Fantasy Grounds does a much better job, anyhow.
   
customer service C- Customer service is good.  However, I include forum moderation in this, and that has been anything but consistent.

Overall: If I didn't have the compendium converted for use with Fantasy Grounds, I would unsubscribe in a heartbeat.  This is Wizards.  They should be the source of all things D&D, including digital.  Those should all be B's at worst and always striving for at least A's.
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept. Default module =/= Core mechanic.
virtual table D- it gets blown out of the water by maptools and has no option to import a dnd4e file from the builder, which could have really set it above other VT programs.



I wouldn't argue with your opinions at all but the VT DOES have an option to bring characters in from the oCB.  So if you haven't seen that yet, check it out.  To me, that's one of the biggest improvements they made since they started it.  I believe you can bring monsters in from the oMB as well.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

magazines: B.  More content and the ability to download whole issues and fully scaled maps without the spoilers that I can use at my table would get it an A.  Still, I get a lot of mileage out of them.
 
character builder B .  We need more ability to add custom content and we need to continue to have bug fixes implemented.

adventure tools
F  What Adventure Tools?  The MB isn't really up to snuff.  Yet.

compendium
 B+  Pretty damn good.  Some mistakes in it, but I expect those in such a big database.  Just don't create another issue like we had a few weeks ago where searching threw errors most of the time, rendering it almost useless.

virtual table
  A-  Also pretty damn good.  Next to Compendium, I think it's the best product they've made, and certainly more complicated than the Compendium so I give them credit for that.
   
customer service A:  I've never had a single problem with customer service yet.  They've been excellent answering my questions and acknowledging my bug reports.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

Magazines: B+ Constant support to the games merits a B+, from character options to adventure, tips etc...Not all content is of use to me in the immediate, but i enjoy my daily offerings.
 
Character Builder: C+ Adequate for the job but lot of place for improvement, especially on Customizability.
 
Adventure Tools: F+ Unrated. Tool still in BETA. It's very limited right now but i still used it a lot to level up or delevel monsters for adventures, as well as refluffing monsters, Powers etc...But yeah, ineffective to build new monsters thats for sure. In dire need of Improvement.
 
Compendium: B+ - Very useful tool despite it's error, wrong data and unupdated content. The majority is up-to-date and it is a remarkable tool to quickly consult any Rules or game elements.
   
Virtual Table: F+ Unrated. Tool still in BETA. It's very limited right now as it cannot allow custom support and Tiles & Tokens are very limited, but the functionality of Vittie itself is more than adequate and i have run and played dozens and dozens of games with over a hundread different people and the experiences have been all more than enjoyable. A Virtual Table doesn't make the fun, it's the adventure and people you're playing with. Vittie is merely a tool to make D&D a fun experience online, and it achieve it's purpose even if it lack Automations, Customs support etc...   It is in need of Improvement still.
    
Customer Service: B+ Customer Service is good.They answer to all my questions in a short notice, provided Pass for VT quickly in the past, and have just shipped me broken figurines in my Castle Ravenloft Board Game in a rather quick and professional way.


EDIT To add Bonus Tools offered with DDi

Character Name Generator: B+ Very useful tool as a DM to help come up with different names for NPC in the blink of an eye. 

Character Sheet: C+ It can be useful to have Pre-generated characters from D&D Encounter Season or D&D Red Box Game Day available for download, as well as the different D&D Character Sheets.

Encounter Builder: C+ This program is a useful tools to build Encounter using XP budget. It's somewhat outdated having only MM 1 Monsters in it though. But if they could link it to the existing Creature Catalog it could be much more useful than it is now. 

Ability Generator: C- Though i don't use Random Ability Generator, i think the program itself is okay. It's somewhat outdated having only PHB 1 Races in it though.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Magazines: B+
I look forward to about an article a week and that's good enough for me. I usually get a good half hour to an hour or so a week of entertainment reading them.
 
Character Builder: C+
Adequate. I gave it a + because I like where it's going.

Adventure Tools: F+ 
I really like the potential (hence the +) but it clearly needs work. I don't use it in the state it's in.
 
Compendium A-
This would be an A if it wasn't for the typos and bugs. Still, it makes running games a breeze and has saved me more than a few hours of tedious bookkeeping for my DM duties.
   
Virtual Table: Unrated
Despite wanting to try it out, I haven't had time since it was released. 

Customer Service B-
I've had extactly two interractions with them. One was fantastic and one was adequate.

Avg:  C+

All in all it's adequate and worth the money for me. There's lots of room for improvement and I can see the DDI team attempting to position themselves in a way to take advantage of that but it's not there yet and I can only judge the tools on what's available for now.
I can't help but notice that we are all over the place in other areas (as I expected) but it seems to be pretty much universal that the Adventure Tools (or Tool, at this point) is dragging them down hard.
Nyarlathotep, you should average out the ratings after posts die down. It would be cool to see the end result.

Magazines: B+. The value of the content is very high for me (A+). I have use for something every issue. The lateness (C-) has hurt the magazine, though it seems to be improving.  My continued pet peeves are searching (F) and lack of a way to store the content easily - bundling or compiled issues are a must for the collector (F).
 
Character Builder: B. The current offering still has detriments compared to the offline CB, but it is a sound tool. It compares very favorably to anything else on the market.
 
Adventure Tools: F-. This is the biggest travesty in DDI. Complete and utter failure, from communication to vision to functionality. Really needs to be a priority. Saddens me at least five times a week.
 
Compendium A-. This is a continually useful part of DDI for me. It surprises me how often I use this and it has transformed how quickly I can find things for adventure writing, character building, rules lookup, etc. I still don't understand why the content stream for Compendium/CB/MB are different. It is very confusing to users to see different tools with inconsistent text. There should also be no stealth updates via the compendium!
   
Virtual Table: B. C. Given what it needs to do, it is doing a fine job. Playing online isn't a priority for me, but the games I played were great. You don't need much here for it to be a decent offering. However, the grade could drop if they focus too much on micro-transactions vs enabling DMs and players to play the game. Content (adventures) can carry a price, but the value of that content should be assigned via a fair market system and not by limiting what DMs can write and share. Edit: I'm downgrading to a C after agreeing with Logopolis... the token export is a must for me. It was very painful to customize my PC for a game and then lose all that work. One of the great strengths of other tools is being able to set up your token so the powers are organized, edited, and displayed the way you want them. If I played online a lot this one issue would be a huge one.
    
Customer Service A-. Maybe it is because I've worked customer service and understand how hard a job this is to get right organizationally, but I think CS does a fine job given realistic goals. They won't have every answer, and often they have to just pass things on to developers. That's to be expected. They should have a better database so they can improve consistency. Otherwise, works really well for me and seems to be used internally to address errata and clarifications.

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virtual table D- it gets blown out of the water by maptools and has no option to import a dnd4e file from the builder, which could have really set it above other VT programs.



I wouldn't argue with your opinions at all but the VT DOES have an option to bring characters in from the oCB.  So if you haven't seen that yet, check it out.  To me, that's one of the biggest improvements they made since they started it.  I believe you can bring monsters in from the oMB as well.



yeah it's been a very long time since i last used it, i still stand by what i said about maptools though.
Nyarlathotep, you should average out the ratings after posts die down. It would be cool to see the end result.




I was thinking the same thing


















F across the board. 

Why so harsh?  Since September of last year I have used NOTHING that WotC released except the new DM screen.  If I get no value from it, how can it be anything but a failure?

I quit my subscription because I was getting nothing out of it.  No articles I'v seen have made me want to subscribe.  I don't need the Compendium.  The CB and MB provide nothing that the offline versions were not giving me.  I have yet to sample the VTT, but the players I would have shared it with have lost interest in online play since 2008.  After years of disappointment in Customer Service, I have lost faith in them - and have heard nothing to bring faith back.

Finally, they fired some of the people I had the most faith in at WotC.  That cuts down my faith that things are headed in the right direction.   


D&D & Boardgames If I have everything I need to run great games for many years without repeating stuff, why do I need to buy anything right now?
Magazines: C-.  Content is ok but website is terrible.  Lacking any easy way to store/organize/search the articles.  Lacking any form of personalization (what is important to me, how do I like organize the info, how about a digital locker or way for me to create collections, how about RSS feeds for me to subscribe to?)  Needs better website to make it work, less product placement.  Compiled issues were nice, I'm ok with seeing them go--if there are enough digital tools to help me organize the individual articles--otherwise I want them back.


Character Builder: C. I still hear grumblings from my players about it and about people trying to data mine the data to use in the offline CB.  My players still tell me the online CB is a downgrade from the offline one.  They don't like they layout/interface.  I don't either.  It is not streamlined, simple, and minimalistic.


Adventure Tools: F.  Monster builder lacking the one thing it should have had from the start: an easy way to build classed NPCs (NPCs using class powers...such as an evil Cleric..instead I have to fall back to the rules in the DMG to do this, by hand, rather than a handy digital tool to help).  I can reflavor any other published monster in seconds, I don't need a tool for that.  What I need is something to help me put together NPCs quickly--they are the thing that is time consuming.

Also missing:


  • Something as good as masterplan for adventure writing (if not better).

  • Tools to help with encounter design, encounter libraries/search tools (DnD Compendium for encounters would be nice).

  • Tools to help share encounters/creatures that others create (and search them).

  • Something as good as obsidian portal to show my campaigns to others.


There could be a whole after-market for canned encounter packs, custom/themed monsters, best of's, contests with Dungeon/Dragon, etc, but the tools to do something like this are completely missing from the website.  Huge oversight WotCHuge.  Target horribly missed on this one.


Compendium A-. I use this every game.  Every single game.  Update issues or inaccuracies aside, this is the reason I still pay for DDI.  I can find monsters I want to use quickly and print them off for use at the game.  No more having to cart multiple monster manuals around.  What would make it better?  Little more flexibility in search text.  Sometimes I do not get the result I'm looking for if I refer to something by a synonym (probably not enough meta-tagging in the data).


Virtual Table: N/A.  Haven't used, haven't even seen it.  This should have been a 'content licensing' thing--instead of something built in house or with a single 3rd party.  Let as many gaming table companies license the content as want to, and may the best solution win.  We've seen that WotC is lacking a little in the vision department for digital tools....so why not let people who do digital games/tools for a living help sort it out.  Save the time and money developing this and put it into the website/community.


Customer Service N/A.  Never called customer service.  Hope to never have to.


I'd like to add one more:

Website/General:  D-.  Things could be much better: more personalization tools and sharing tools could really help bind the community together.  The website gives me a migraine every time I come here.  It shouldn't feel like a scavenger hunt to find what I want but it does.  I'm spammed with far too much product placement for things I do not use:  Novels, Gaming nights at hobby stores, product categories that do not interest me, etc.

Personally, I am not interested in certain things...so I should not have to see them.  I'd rather find adventures and encounters more quickly--instead of fishing around for them, or spending over an hour trying to figure out why there are no longer compiled issues of dungeon and dragon.  A lack of personalization, sharing, and a lack of good web organization is hurting WotC's digital effort...pretty much castrating it.
Magazines: B. I'm pretty happy with the content of the magazines, and I think they're a worthwhile addition to DDI. I did, however, much prefer the compiled format, and I still don't understand why it was stopped. Article searches need to be vastly improved.

Character Builder: C. It does its job, and I actually prefer the new interface over the downloadable version. Unfortunately, Silverlight is a terrible choice of platform. The Character Builder loads very slowly and the range of devices that can it can be used on is very limited.

Adventure Tools: F. Simply awful. The only tool available is a monster builder that only lets you rename and scale monster powers? And even the scaling doesn't work correctly. This should never even have been released.

Compendium: A. Pretty much the only reason I keep my DDI account active. I frequently play online D&D, and the database is extremely useful. I recently found out that the Compendium even has a mobile interface tailored for smartphones, making it useful even for face-to-face games.

Virtual Table: D. The basics work, but the Virtual Table lags well behind in features compared to other competing (and free) products. Import of custom art and export of maps and tokens are a must, as well as numerous usability improvements.

Customer Support: C. They're responsive when it comes to administrative issues, but their responses to rules questions are unreliable and contradictory. I would never rely on or trust a Customer Support response to resolve a rules dispute.

Based on my last interactions with the tools and following discussions, tables of contents, etc. Some uses were longer ago than others (e.g., I haven't used the VT since the first round of testing). 

Magazines: D. Light, uninteresting content. Nothing worth resubscribing for.

CB:  C. Adequate but no more than that. However, since it doesn't offer anything that I can't do myself in the old CB, it's not compelling. 

MB/Adventure Tools: F. No need to really explain this one. 

Compendium: C-. Clunky and irritating, although it does do what it claims to - acts as a database of rules stuff. I actually like the new interface less than the old hideous one, which is frightening.

Virtual Table: C-. Basically adequate to the task, but offers little that can't be done elsewhere. 

Customer Service: C. They're there, and they answer questions. Average marks. 
Awesome, awesome thread!!

Yoinked into my weekly report.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Magazines: B-.  I haven't seen 100% of the content, but I've seen enough in the last two months to know that there have been a number of very solid articles with interesting content, and it's generally been on time.  More quantity would improve things, as would compilations of some sort, searchability of PDFs, etc.  But it's up to a B- from a D as recently as April, so not bad.

Character Builder: B-.  Haven't used it in a couple of months, but it's still missing key features: custom elements, houseruled extra feat/whatever slots, etc.  More than 20 characters.  Offline functionality (don't need building features; reviewing would be enough).  It's possible I'd revise this up or down a fraction of a letter grade if I used it some more, but it wouldn't be much.

Adventure Tools: F.  Duh.  See that "s" on the end of "Tools"?  Yeah.  Also, if you look really close at "Monster Builder" you'll see "BUILD" as an operating word.

Compendium: B+.  If it was updated more frequently, it'd easily move into the A range.  Some bugs and typos are inevitable and don't really bother me.  I used it a lot when I subscribed, and I'd still use it a lot of I were still subscribed.

Virtual Table: N/A (no higher than C).  As long as it doesn't allow custom map artwork and the import/export of maps and tokens, it can never rise above a C.  I don't know what it is right now, but that's an absolute cap when they limit functionality so severely.

Customer Service: B.  It looks like people are lumping PR into this, so the rating is based on that combination.  Pure customer service, handling problems, I'd give an A.  I got a full refund of my year subscription when I was unhappy with the dramatic reduction of services... at the very end of that subscription.  Can't complain about that.  The public relations side of things, specifically communication, is somewhere around a C+ these days.  There have been substantial improvements.  It's still not great, but that's probably due to lack of planning ahead on the design side of things.  We get a lof of "we're still figuring that out" responses, and I don't really blame the PR people.  The C+ is up from a flat F six months ago.

It really is at the point now where a few added features to the CB and the VT would have me resubscribing. 
[20:53] [SadisticFish] yeah Llamas convinced me
Magazines: C+: Improving. Way too much fluff for my tastes, but I know there are those that love that. Missing all the old favourites like Bazaar of the Bizarre, Pages from the Mages and the king of them all, Dragon's Bestiary. All in all, I tend to find maybe one or two things a month I can use. The rest, I ignore. Personally would love to see less campaign specific fluff - it is really, really useless to me.

Character Builder: C -: Still not that great for me and mine, mainly because it does not allow for any kind of custom items or powers. I run a home brew setting, and there are a lot of things in my games that are not from any D&D releases. As such, it's good for getting the bare bones of a character done, but the sheets end up with a lot of scribbles all over them. It's good to see that a lot of the bugs that drove me and my players insane when it first went online (I still prefer the OCB, despite its bugs and lack of customisation) have been fixed, but still find that it crashes 25% of the time.

Adventure "tools" (UNRATED): Utter failure. Absolutely the worst kind of trash I have yet seen from DDI. Horrible. Seriously, without swearing, I find it hard to express my total hatred for this horrible, horrible, horrible thing. I personally liked the OAT, pre October's "breaker" update, and so was hankering for this. Alas, we got a buggy, incorrect mess of a thing that simply does not cut it. Hate it with an absolute passion. I do my monsters by hand now - easier than trying to work through the tears with the buggy old and pointless new AT. (Did I mention I think it is horrible?)

Compendium A-: I like it. I really do. It gets consulted during my games at least once per session, and despite being a little clunky, does the job nicely. The search could use a bit of a tweak so it doesn't auto- select categories with each search, but yeah, I like it.

Virtual Table (UNRATED): I have not had chance to check it out. It's really not something I need, and to be honest, I am still quite angry that a lot of projects got put on hold to get this pushed out. I pay a subscription too, and feel cheated a little that the stuff I was using got mangled so that this - still beta - thing could get the attention. I will get round to checking it out sooner or later, but it is a massively low priority for me right now - at least until I can play with my non subscriber friends on it.

Customer Service: A: I have always been quite impressed with the customer service, even when the answer has not been what I wanted to hear. As for communication - Hmmm...I still don't think the customers are listened to by the developers, and am vexed by many of the decisions being made about the game. More input would be welcome in both directions.
(My campaigns log blog) http://sefotron.blogspot.com/ I am Blue/Green
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Magazines: D  I used to be an avid reader of the Magazines, both the in-prints before the change and the PDFs. But now I just don't find them interesting enough, there's often so little I can actually use in my games or anything really inspirational, also the hassle of going to the website, downloading the PDF and then reading it on my laptop/iPhone is very frustrating. If it was something I could access quicker I might be more inclined.

Character Builder:  B - For me, this is the only thing that keeps my subscription going and the same goes for two of my players. Do I want to see improvement? Of course I do, I want the ability to add custom Powers, Paragon Paths, Themes, Backgrounds. But as it is, this is an invaluable tool for me and my group.

Adventure Tools: C - I use the old downloaded copy of the Adventure Tools simply because I find the new online one far less useful due to a lack of customisation and copy/paste ability. Still I use the old one a fair amount and it does what it needs to.

Compendium: D - I haven't had much experience or need to use the compedium, I use books and my players use me. Again, accessibility is a big problem for me. If there was an iPad/iPhone App that we could use it would likely be far more useful.

Virtual Table: - Sadly I can't comment as I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. I have high hopes for when it does however.

Customer Service:  C  - I've never had to contact Customer Support with an issue, but I have found the Account Management parts of the website cumbersome and awkward when I've had to cancel/re-sub.

Overall - I keep my subscription ticking over, but I do cancel when my games slow down and we won't play for a month. I use the Character Builder and my downloaded Adventure tools but nothing else is accessible enough to make use of frequently. 
Magazines: D+  This may sound harsh but its actually up from the F I would have given them just two months ago.  There is still only a minimal amount of content that interests me, but at least now there is some.  Plus they have gotten better about turning their work in on time.  If they keep it up, their grade can improve.

Character Builder:  C Adequate for the task but definately not wow inducing.  I can make a character on it alright, but there is sooooo much room for improvement.  Customization of th character sheet for instance.

Adventure Tools: D- Not really all that useful in their present form.  The only thing that keeps this from being an F is that there have beeen a couple of ocasions that I found the limited functions that it has useful.  But those have been few and far between. Needs improvement badly.

Compendium: C Useful at times.  But has some omissions and quirks that irritate me.

Virtual Table: B Good but with some annoying quirks.  ALso not out of beta yet, so not everyone has acccess. Still, with a bit of polish and some added functionality has a shot an A

Customer Service:  C  Their communication has improved, but it wasn't great before.  Contacting them with a problem usually gets it resolved quickly, but I have to do it far to often for my taste.  
Disclaimer up front. My DDI sub expired this past March after about a year and a half.

Magazines:
C. I don't have any problem with the content and I never really have. But it's hard to call them magazines anymore. They're not collected as a PDF at the end of the month, they're not in print, they're no different than any other website now. Although I still like a lot of things being put out, it doesn't really impress me like it used to.

Character Builder: C. Still not impressed with the online builder. Character limits, the inability to add in custom content, lack of character sheet choices, and a still messy item section are not good.

Adventure Tools: F. The online Monster Builder is a joke. There's no other way to put it. The offline builder, buggy as it may have been, was such a better tool that it puts the current offering completely to shame. Also, where are the other useful Adventure Tools? Not even an encounter builder is available. Lucky that there are so many third party tools filling that blatant lack.

Compendium: A. Never had a problem with the Compendium, aside from the occasional typo or other error.

Virtual Table: B. I admittedly haven't used it since the early friends and family beta, but even then it was very solid in foundation. Just lacking in options (like full sets of dungeon tiles or images for tokens). I'm told a lot of my concerns have been fixed.  

Customer Service: C. I hate to rag on this because I know there are nice guys, good guys, working CS. But the communication (in all facets, not just customer service) from WotC has been pretty poor overall. The debacle with Dark Sun and the character builder last year was the beginning of the end of my DDI sub.  
Magazines: C+  I like the idea of quality over quantity. But much of Dragon material right now is errata rather than new stuff.

Character Builder:  B+ I understand a lot of the complaints. The things that do work well really work well, though.

Adventure Tools: F I tried using this once. What I really want is something that you can say to Adventure Tools: Here's how many characters there are, here's what level they are, tell me how much XP an at-level encounter should therefore be, and let me add/subtract monsters to make it fit. Then let me print out that encounter. If it could then make some map suggestions, let me place the monsters, then port to Virtual Table that would be crazy useful, but I think the 1st thing is the minimum.

Compendium: A Insanely useful.

Virtual Table: N/A Sigh...hard to rate something that you haven't yet got an invite to...

Customer Service:  B  I generally think they do a good job. I'd like to see more consistency and more push back questions. Some people are asking home group questions, some people are looking for universal rulings that they then post on the internet. I like that errata is making its way through the system.

Magazines: B-     Much improved from 6 months ago, but still not filling in design space as I had hoped.  I still feel that I get value from the magazines

Character Builder: B+     In my opinion, it still takes far too long for updates, but at least they're back to a consistent level.

Adventure Tools: D-     I rate this higher than most here because I use it almost every adventure-- I print out my monsters from here instead of the compendium, and I like the ability to quickly change monster levels.  But it needs A LOT of work and functionality. A LOT.

Compendium: A.     Works well; end of story.

Virtual Table: Incomplete.     I don't use it, and don't plan to.

Customer Service: C  Adequate. 
Magazines: Pass. I don't use these often, and when I do, it's bits and pieces. It would be nice to have an index of maps and other assets for re-use in personal adventures and campaigns. Magazine content, which is often poorly balanced compared to rulebooks, tend to spam up the other tools (our group allows only rulebook content for PCs).

Character Builder: D. The old downloadable CB would have earned a B if it were still kept current. If you had to rewrite it, why not HTML(5)/JS so I can use it on mobile devices? Also, all the changes from "rulebook" 4E to "Essentials" are confusing.

Adventure Tools: F. Once again, the old version would earn you a B if you'd kept it going. Customizing powers and being able to copy text into my own adventure prep docs are not optional features.

Compendium: B. It worked, and you didn't *$^% with it. It has a number of annoyances and UI issues, but it can be dealt with. I would like to see better filtering options by setting and source - i.e. only rule books and ideally only a given setting (base, eberron, dark sun, etc), and I would like to see the layout work better on mobile devices. 

Virtual Table: F. This should not be taking resources from CB and AT. That's not "I don't want VT therefore its a waste", but it should be a lower priority compared to in-person tabletop play, and the other tools are in far too much need of work.

Customer Service.  N/A

Overall: D. The compendium is still a useful tool, but everything else is really disappointing, which is really frustrating, because it started out better and has so much potential.
Magazines: they went from an A to a C-. Recycled articles from past, and less content is the reason. 

Character Builder: Went from an A to a D. The reason. Reduced functionality. Updates that keep getting delayed. False expectations based on what WoTC tells us, not what we think they mean. Being told that the online can be updated anytime, only to find out while that is technically true, it's not really possible because they same system they have been using that only allows them to update on one day a week. Features they keep telling us are coming, never appear. 

Adventure Tools: F because there is only one tool.  

Monster Builder: From a B to a big fat F. It's been over a year since there has been a functioning MB like the offline one. And again, its been 2 months since they hinted that some were going to be turned on. Hasn't happened. 

Compendium: B. I don't use it much, but when I do it works fine enough. There are issues with it that prevent it from getting an A.  

Virtual Table: C and seems like it's going to stay a C. 

Customer Service: They have always had bad customer service, D.

So, over all, They started off around a B+, and now are around a D-.

Magazines:  D - They are not magazines.  They're blog posts, or regular articles or something like that.  But instead of being published in HTML on the web like everything else, they're three page PDFs that are not a good aspect ratio for reading on a Kindle DX, an iPad, or a laptop screen.  They should be delivered in a format that's easy and convenient to read, not stuck behind a twitchy paywall in a format that requires hoops just to read unpleasantly.



Character Builder: C - The Character Builder is nice, and takes making 4E characters from intolerable to merely tedious.  It's slow, though, and slow to load, and buggy, and prints too much or too little, and doesn't allow even the small amount of customization that was in the old CB, on which I relied.  (That one probably got a B+)


Adventure Tools: D - The best ones are the ones that do nearly nothing.  The monster builder is just too hard to use.  It's confusing.  The new version and the old version were equally confusing.

Compendium: A- - The compendium's only real problem is missing stuff and its clunky interface.  Power2ools blows it away, and you should be stealing liberally from it.  That said, it does what it says on the tin:  almost all the rules ever available for easy reference.

Virtual Table: N/A - I haven't used it in earnest.  It seemed like I was going to dislike it, but I won't be a curmudgeon until I have evidence to back up my gripes.

Customer Service: C- - I have had very little interaction with humans at WoTC customer service, but all of the parts of the site involved in subscription management are dreadful.  It's a real hassle to manage my account.  I had a player who spent about two weeks trying to get signed because the site wouldn't accept his payment and they couldn't provide any reason or alternative.  I get the impression that my gripes are with Digital River, not WoTC.

Magazines: C-
The quality has seemed to be increasing over the past few months, but the lack of compiled issues is still annoying.

Character Builder: D-
Adequate, but the total lack of customization is frustrating. The only thing it has going for it over the old offline builder, even now, is an up-to-date data set, which does little-to-nothing to offset the functionality it's still lacking now, roughly 10 months later. Plus the reliance on Silverlight means that the number of supported systems went from 1 to 2.

Adventure Tool(s): F
I still use the offline Monster Builder (running it in vmware on my Mac) and will create monsters using the data from the Compendium in that rather than use the online tool. It occurs to me that because of that, I haven't even bothered to launch the online Adventure Tools in, perhaps, months.

Compendium: B+
Could use some improvements (things that immediately come to mind are Item Set data & searchability, and a better way to do a "show all" when applying a filter to an empty search - I've gotten inconsistent behavior). This is the one piece of DDI that I use the most.

Virtual Table: I
No access, so I can't grade it.

Customer Service: B+
It's a difficult and thankless job, and they're probably doing the best they can.


“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier
Magazines: B  Never a fan of tons of mechanical content (for dragon).  The increase in "fluff" and other non super powerz content has improved the magazines in my eyes.  Plus the change in adventure formating could be for the better. No compiled issue drops this from a possible A.

Character Builder:  C OK.  Needs an offline version (yeah, I know) and better support for homebrew materials.

Adventure Tools: Failure so far.  Down from the original release of the offline monster builder which I loved - I'd give that an A!.

Compendium: C Useful, but use has been curtailed by WOTC blocking Masterplan.

Virtual Table: B Ok.  But of no use to me until available to non DDI users.

Customer Service:  C  The few times I've contacted them they've been ok...

Total GPA: 2.0 Not great. And the sad thing is I LOVE 4e. This makes me sad.
Magazines: B
Improved in the last couple months after a dip.  Hard to find specific items in back issues, though.

Character Builder: B+
It's come a long, long way from launch, and its deserved mixed reception.  Any capability for customization would be nice.  It's got houserule flags, but no way to add them unless you remove a prereq or something.  Houseruled (if only "free bonus") feat, houseruled power (where you type in things like ability modifier for an attack, and dice roll formats like exist in the VT) that are incoporated into power cards would be ideal and get you to a solid A.  Note that at this point, it is factually inaccurate to say that the online version is worse than the offline version on a functional level.  It may have been at the start, but it has seen quite a lot of improvement.

Adventure Tools:  I
I for Incomplete.  Things I hope would be there aren't, and those that are appear to be not even finished.

Compendium:  A
Good enough so that it gets my subscription fee all by itself, though the CB is nipping at its heels.  Would be really nice if it had a little more QA time devoted toward making sure it agrees with the latest rule updates.  If it were the authoritative, go-to source for game element rules, it'd be A+ material.

Virtual Table:  B+

Good product, does exactly what I want it to do.  A few minor tweaks needed as it grows out of beta, but a solid offering even as is.  Dramatic contrast to Adventure Tools, also allegedly in beta.

CustServ:  B
Does what it needs to do regarding actual customer service.  Universally regarded as worse than useless, however, in rules questions by the Rules Q&A board.  Getting contardictory answers is trivially easy, and almost nothing they say is taken seriously without another source backing it up.  Could use work, but I'm not really sure that's what CustServ is for.  Might be worth splitting it off from the people who handle actual CustServ, and have a dedicated rules question staff, but that's a question of your resources.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Magazines: C - Ditto with everyone else about having a more convenient way to get all of the content, searchable downloads etc would be amazingly useful and could bump the grade up significantly.

Character Builder:  C - Needs the ability to disable Essentials content for those of us who aren't allowed the new content in our campaigns, and of course the houseruling stuff that everyone has already mentioned. Also, HATE the character sheet designs, want the old one from oCB back!

Adventure Tools: F As has already been mentioned, Masterplan (at least, the older version I have) is definitely a better overall campaign-planning tool, but its usefulness was severely curtailed by WoTC's C&D. If you're going to lawyer up and keep us from using a 3rd party tool that worked (AND required a DDI subscription to be useful), then you need to come up with a similar featureset. OMB was/is great, if a little buggy: I still use it when I need to tweak old monsters, and if I have a monster I need I create it in there and then tweak it.

Compendium: B+ - still useful, and I can get to it (when the stars are right) on my iPhone... not perfect but could be so much worse.

Virtual Table: N/A

Customer Service:  B+ - haven't needed them much but they have always been efficient and helpful.
Magazines: C- Better than the D they got last semester.  Content has improved.  The failure to turn in compiled issues was an easy assignment that WotC didn't bother to do 

Character Builder:  B-  Much improved from a few months ago.  Still not cusomizable enough.  Needs to learn that most of its customers are smart geeks that don't need their hand held when dealing with a computer program and when it tries to hand hold like with the "choose for me" options it usually fails anyways.  Things like the 20 character limit, lack of ability to change settings post character creation, and printing issues are also holding it back.

Adventure Tools: D- These are just not very good.  Monster builder does not do what it could do.

Compendium: A- Excellent.  Would be an A+ if it had more complete entries (paladin entry still lacks what Channel Dinivity powers Paladins get for instance) and more customization in searches to reduce false positives.

Virtual Table: B+ Only way I get to play 4E most of the time at this point and I have enjoyed it every time I have used it with few frustations.  Mainly needs a few tweaks for DMs to set up better maps and to be better at things like autocalculating brutal damage.  If a power is usuable in a common circumstance with bonuses that should calculated whenever possible.  A character having a power that is usuable on charge should have a seperate roll for a power already available that adds the +2 to hit with charges, bonus damage from spear expertise etc.

Customer Service:  B  Good at dealing with complaints from what I have heard, but the actual buying and renewel process has been a headache for a long time.

Total GPA: 2.5

Over next semester they need to be working to integrate these products into more non-PC/laptop devices: smartphones, Ipads, kindles etc. 

If not for the adventure tools and magazine problems it would be a solid B average.
Magazines: C Archives are nice but the material needs improvement, Especially Dungeon, I should be able to grab an adventure for any level and any setting.

Character Builder:  B  The quick Essentials build is fantastic but the custom still needs some usablity improvements and when a print book launches the content should be there.

Adventure Tools: D If I want to do anything but level a monster up or down its pretty worthless.

Compendium: B Good resource, easy to search but... hard to browse if I'm not entirely sure what I am looking for.

Virtual Table: NA Not part of the beta, never plan to use it.

Customer Service:  NA  Never used it

Total Grade: C+
Ha ha, oh dear.  Now I shall say bad things.  Sorry.


Magazines shall be held to the end.

Character Builder: -A  So, the character builder is, probably, the best thing they've managed to do.  It's ALMOST as useful as a paper character sheet.  But not quite.

Adventure Tools: D  Unsatisfactory work.  A> Tools implies multiple things, not one, and B> as others have said, the one tool is crap.  I mean really crap.  It's worse than nothing, it's actively harmful to the process of creating monsters.  Sorry.

Compendium: D Now, it's been a while since I've used it, BUT, my experience has been that it's poorly organized, the search function is crap, and it's full of typos and error.  Like the last three books I've bought from you guys!

Virtual Tabletop: Duke Nuckem Forever, by which I mean F, since it took forever to come out, and doesn't live up to the promises made.

Customer Service: -B I've never had any problems with Customer service, nor have they ever been rude.  But they've never been really exceptional in any way either. 

Magazines: 0 The "magazines" get a Zero.  This is not just a failing score.  This is a failing score that indicates that they did not actually attempt the coarse work.  This is not the grade you get for doing bad work, this is the grade you get for refusing to turn in anything. 
When you, as a company, decided to go to online publication in PDF format for the Magazine, THAT WAS FINE. 
When you, as a company, decided that Proof-reading, Playtesting, Deadlines, and Quality were optional since it was just Blagging on the Inter-Webz, When you decided that the "Magazines" should just be a test bed for your half formed abortions of mechanics beta testing, When you decided that things like Flavor Articles, Original Fiction, and "Fluff" was stupid and uneccesary, you not only killed the magazines, your desecrated their corpses. 


Final Grade: D  (1.5)



Next time, I'll grade you on the quality of your PRINT releases since the inception of 4E.  But I warn you, I won't be quite this nice.
Brew'N Games: A Homebrewing Blog, Both Games and Beer. "The Sky is Falling Like a Sock of Cocaine in the Ministry of Information..." - Man Man, Black Mission Goggles
Magazines: C+: Improving. Monsters are toughening up, adventures are leaving the tactical format. The slow down in crunch is a good thing but it also requires a reduction in value. Fluff is the only keeping this grade from depleting further. Still waiting on some decent epic support with the monster vault style monsters. Running my 3rd epic level campaign and 3rd party companies (critical hits for example) is the only people paving this road. Also I know cartography is not cheap, I understand a budget, I understand marketing dungeon tiles. However, I can figure out how to use my tiles. I know the number of combinations that can be made with every tile I own. I don't need to pay for you to show me how to do this. What I do need is cartography that inspires me with new setting and terrain areas. I can print a map. I pay for ddi to save me time with new ideas that challenge my assumptions. If that isn't what your going to sell, I don't need to buy.

Character Builder: C -: Still not that great for me and mine, mainly because it does not allow for any kind of custom items or powers. I run a home brew setting, and there are a lot of things in my games that are not from any D&D releases. As such, it's good for getting the bare bones of a character done, but the sheets end up with a lot of scribbles all over them. It's good to see that a lot of the bugs that drove me and my players insane when it first went online are gone. In addition the old cb was more of a rent to own and this is to much of a pay by the day service. I realize this is the business model the world is going to but it still chaps my fire drake riding hide. I appreciate Mac support and the need for ip protection, but I want value for money. A PDF has value. Access to a tool that is gone when wotc moves on or when I part ways with the design philosophy has no value for my expenses.

Adventure "tools - F worst tool yet and getting worse on-line. So many good 3rd party tools to see how to do it right. Tsk tsk

Compendium B-: I like it. I really do, but it is getting more unreliable. Try doing a search for vampires. Kas doesn't show up and tam does. I want vamps not liches. The number of errors and missing items, creatures etc continues to grow. You have to search check it against your books and all the update PDF to ensure accurate info. Bleh

Virtual Table (UNRATED): I have not had a chance to check it out. It's really not something I need. I have no desire to join an mmo nor participate in microtransactions to purchase tokens etc. For use with d&d.

Customer Service: A: Yep I like these guys. despite all your bs over communication these guys hold it together. If your vision and service were as reliable as these lads I would be using the tools to do my campaign work instead of writing this.

As final note Chris Perkins is single handily keeping me about. Between his pax awesomeness dm'ing and his weekly article... I canceled my auto renew and just waiting for the expiration. Mean time waiting to see where 4e goes and what you gents do to dazzle me. Cheers!
Best Blog Ever! I am Done Apologizing! This email is to confirm that we have stopped automatic billing for your subscription. Your subscription will continue to be active until the expiration date listed below.
Magazines: F+  These have been in the toilet for a long time. It has been getting slightly better, but that is only after it has managed to hit rock bottom in terms of quality so it might just be leveling off because that level of bad can't be maintained. There is not enough material in them, and what material is there is generally pretty useless except for the random one or two articles per month that might have a single item or feat I'm interested in.

Character Builder:  C- Still not as good as the offline one, and really I have no expectations of it ever catching up.

Adventure Tools: I Haven't really used it.

Compendium: A Useful.

Virtual Table: C- In my experience it isn't bad, but it isn't any better than free alternatives. Really not worth it all when I can get the same stuff free.

Customer Service:  I Eh, I haven't really dealt with them too much.
Magazines: B, improved from C last month. The quality is certainly improving, but it's still held back by material that is only tangentially relevant to the game (confessions) and submission guidelines that still are vague as to what kinds of material the editors want to publish.

Character Buikder: D. It's mostly functional, but I find it troubling that due to Silverlight and other issues, this online CB that was supposedly replacing the offline one because it works with mobile devices is slow as dirt on my netbook compared to OCB and doesn't work at all on my iPad. Getting something that works on a tablet device would instantly improve this grade to a B.

Adventure Tools: F. An utter, utter failure. As an LFR author and editor, this tool, which is designed to make modifying and leveling monsters easier, has actually caused more work for me. It doesn't have the functions it needs, and the functions it does have work in a manner that is not consistent with the rules (where does it say that monsters get stat bumps at 11th and 21st? Where is it getting the guidelines for increasing resistances, vulnerabilities, and static damage?). This tool would be more helpful if it vanished tomorrow,

Compendium: B+. This is a really, really useful tool. However, it needs support for set item text and artifact Concordance (or at least clearly labeling artifacts as such when the item is found under its other categories).

Virtual Table: I. I haven't been able to get a game going on it yet, but I find its interface confusing as I try to use it to organize an adventure.

Customer Service: B. They need to split Customer Service into a general CS department and a rules department, with the rules department having better communication and research for their answers. I've seen inconsistent or illogical CS responses grind LFR tables to a halt because the DM wasn't a strong enough personality to just make a ruling and go,
John du Bois Living Forgotten Realms Writing Director, Netheril story area Follow me on The Twitter: @JohnduBois Follow my presence on The Intertubes: johncdubois.wordpress.com
Magazines: B -          I really enjoy the content.  The grade lower than an A indicates the gap of about four months there where the content wasn't showing up on time, was of poor quality and lacked value.  I am disappointed with DDI in general's gradual decline of accountability in that initially we received a content calendar for the month that gave us all a sense of where each magazine was going and when we could expect each article.  Now we receive fewer articles than the print versions from years back and the content calendar is essentially updated only weekly

Compendium: C          its not that this isn't functional, but rather I just don't use it consistently.  This thread has actually convinced me to try it again based on the positive grades.  I am giving it an average score since I haven't used it consistently for months but when I did it worked fine.  I am looking forward to trying this out again.

Character Builder: B-             I don't mind the online CB.  I like its layout, deal with its mostly functional features and it does most of what I want it to do.  I have a real problem with the inability to filter the books that I don't want available in my campaign and the simply dreadful character sheet.  Ten players in my group plus me DMing and not a single person needs or wants that sheet.  Since day one of its launch, complaints have been logged about the layout of that sheet and since the offline sheet was infinitely better and already developed, how hard is it really to give us that option when printing?  In terms of all the bugs, I have rarely had a problem and many of the quirky things they fix every month haven't effected my group.

Customer Service: N/A  never called or emailed

Virtual Table:  N/A   never participated but would like to.  Not sure I love the sound of it from this thread that your subscription to DDI doesn't allow full use of the system?? Do you also have to spend money when using the VT to get add ons?

Adventure Tools: F      How can it be anything else.  I almost graded it a D, because I have used it in the past to quickly reference a monster from a source I couldn't locate quickly and printed.  Then I realized that isn't its purpose so I downgraded to the grade it deserves.  First of all, it was supposed to include more than simply a MB.  In and of itself, that gives it a failing mark.  There are so many more tools a DM needs to build an adventure.  The MB itself is disgusting, unsupported and doesn't do what it was promised!  The scaling of monsters is crap and you can't customize and BUILD a monster.  Interesting the tool is called Monster BUILDER.

Virtual Table:  N/A   never participated but would like to.  Not sure I love the sound of it from this thread that your subscription to DDI doesn't allow full use of the system?? Do you also have to spend money when using the VT to get add ons?



The Virtual Table has its issues, but this is not one of them. Or, to be more specific, the presence or absence of microtransactions is an unknown at this point, so this issue is up in the air. In fact, most questions about its availability and costs to subscribers are unknowns at this point.

Some folks here assert that microtransactions are a done deal, and most definitely will be part of the Virtual Table. Others assert that that position is at best unfounded, and at worst ridiculous. Nobody from WotC has said either way.  

"your subscription to DDI doesn't allow full use of the system" is actually correct, in that it's still in beta and you have to get invited to use it (which not all DDI subscribers have done).  Correct result, incorrect conclusion as to the reason for it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Magazines C : This grade reflects some recent improvement in the amount of content, the timeliness of delivery and the quality of the content. Both publications are a long way from where they should be and without monthly compilations this will never be more than a B for me.

Compendium B+ : This largely does what it should and as such is an extremely useful tool. The search engine still needs a few minor issues ironed out but overall this is a good tool.

Character Builder B : Whilst I wasn't keen on the switch to the online tool, I like it and it largely does what I need it to do. I know there are still bugs but I have never come across any catastrophic ones although occasionally, it kicks me out while loading which can be frustrating. The character limit also needs raising from my point of view. I know there was a commitment to review the need for this but not sure how this was going to work. Given we all know the limit and will only save that many characters as a maximum, market research using the builder itself will be difficult.

Customer Service B- : My experience of CS has been limited to e-mails and has varied somewhat. Refunds for the delays at the end of last year were dealt with promptly but clearly the remit of CS is limited as no refunds can be given for the decline in content since the current sub price was set. I assume this is due more to directives from WotC/Habro than the individuals themselves. Response generally is prompt and polite although there should be a system that detects I posted a message while logged into my account to save a follow up e-mail where I have to confirm my details. 

Adventure Tools E : The new monster builder is utterly appalling with little or no functionality. I never use it and consider this one of the big declines in service that has left me paying the same money for less functionality. Given that prices were hiked to pay for the old Adventure Tools package, they should be reduced while the new one is brought up to the same level of functionality. Very, very poor.

Virtual Table C+ : I am in two minds about the VT. On the plus side, it integrates with other DDI content (PC and monster import) but on the flip side its features are somewhat limited if compared to most third party tools available. At launch, these limitations were acceptable as I expected to see relatively rapid development (and indeed re-subscribed for this) but the pace of improvement has been glacial. This has been my major disappointment this year but the VT remains a somewhat useful tool. I also understand the difficulty that WotC finds itself in with regard to tiles, maps and tokens. On the one hand, if they allow import of images, maps and tokens then  their books will be scanned and used for free alongside the homemade maps and tokens that everyone wants to import. On the other hand, restricting the VT to tiles, maps and tokens that can only be bought on the WotC site will somewhat limit its flexibility. It's a tough one so no wonder they are taking a while to talk it over. Overall, though, the VT is a useful tool with a great deal of potential.