Differences Between 4e and Essentials?

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I appreciate you patience with this newb question but here goes ...

I was looking into a way for the PC to use cards (like what is found in the Red Box)  instead of continually referring to the PHB.

I came across an example item on Amazon:
www.amazon.com/Players-Handbook-Wizard-E...

And as I read the reviews, one of them states:
*NOTE TO BUYERS* If you're using the "Essentials" line rule books then these cards are of very little value. The blank cards can be used to create the powers necessary for the Essentials line however.

However, if you're using the Player Handbooks and don't want to use the updated Essentials rule books then these cards will be very useful.
 

Being new at this hobbie, what is the difference between the "Player Handbook" and the "updated Essentials rule book" ?  I assumed these cards were printouts from the cards in the PHB.  

To add more confusion we are finishing up the "Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game: An Essential D&D Starter (4th Edition D&D)" and was recommended to go next to the "Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms: An Essential Dungeons & Dragons Supplement (4th Edition D&D)"  which has "Essential" and "4e" in the title?!

Any input would be GREATLY appreciated. 
Essentials IS 4e. It's just after some slight rules changes and reworking of some of the powers of classes. Essentials and pre Essentials products can work together, despite what others may try to tell you. You do not need one or the other to enjoy playing 4e, and you can enjoy playing 4e with both.

The Players Handbook and the Essentials rule books differ mostly in this regard. The original PHB was written first, so its got older versions of the rules which may have changed over time. The essentials rules are more current comparatively. That being said, this only matters if your DMing and care, or if your DM cares, as the rules change is stricly a matter of personal preference outside of official play. If the DM of a house game doesn't matter which versions of the rules you guys will be using, either book works well.

Hope this helps. Happy Gaming
However, it is worth noting that this is for the most part, an accurate summation.  Many of the Essentials classes don't use the at-will, encounter and daily attack powers that their base classes use.  The utility power card would likely still be useful.

However, it's also worth noting that, if these are the original PHB power cards, they've probably already been errated into being almost useless.  The PHB has been changed an awful lot since its publication.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
I really wish I knew where the link was to this italian site I normally use for making cards.  I'm not at my home computer so I don't have it via a bookmark or anything.  I'll see if I can find it later.  It works really well for making your own powers / refluffling powers and adding power cards for things that should have them and don't (Like Battle Awareness should really be a power card).  I'll see if I can find them.

Edit: Found it, that was easier than I thought:

www.dnditalia.it/pcc 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
I appreciate you patience with this newb question but here goes ...


The essentials line was printed later in 4e's run, and is, supposedly, meant to make getting into 4e easy for people in your position(we can see how well that worked out).  The underlying game is the same, but the character classes in the essentials line are different from the ones in the rest of 4e(though both are considered acceptable for 'standard' 4e play).  So, the Wizard cards aren't that useful because your books detail not the Wizard, but the wizard-subclass Mage, which has some new spells, as well as changed versions of some old spells.

When it comes to the cards, I'd suggest not buying any at all(the card line never did well, and there aren't cards for even most of the things in the game).  I'd recommend having your players make their own cards instead on blank index cards.  This is both cheaper, and tends to result in the players learning their powers a bit better(and thus, referring to the actual cards less often).  One thing I've had some success with is going a step further and making an additional card with some often referenced information on it, like defenses, max hp, and skill bonuses, and then not even taking the character sheet out mid-game.  Really helps if you have a small table.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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I appreciate you patience with this newb question but here goes ...


The essentials line was printed later in 4e's run, and is, supposedly, meant to make getting into 4e easy for people in your position(we can see how well that worked out).  The underlying game is the same, but the character classes in the essentials line are different from the ones in the rest of 4e(though both are considered acceptable for 'standard' 4e play).  So, the Wizard cards aren't that useful because your books detail not the Wizard, but the wizard-subclass Mage, which has some new spells, as well as changed versions of some old spells.

When it comes to the cards, I'd suggest not buying any at all(the card line never did well, and there aren't cards for even most of the things in the game).  I'd recommend having your players make their own cards instead on blank index cards.  This is both cheaper, and tends to result in the players learning their powers a bit better(and thus, referring to the actual cards less often).  One thing I've had some success with is going a step further and making an additional card with some often referenced information on it, like defenses, max hp, and skill bonuses, and then not even taking the character sheet out mid-game.  Really helps if you have a small table.



Did you see the site I linked?  Its basically make your own cards, but with a little extra formatting.  I've found them to be incredibly useful.
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here

I've used a magic card editor program in the past to create power cards.  There are some templates out there specifically for it.  You can export the cards to jpeg's then paste the appropriate ones into other documents to print single sheets.  A little work up front, but if you reuse them its nice down the line. Don't remember the name of the program or the template, but it wasn't hard to find, and was free.


Also on the difference between 4e and Essentials - it is the same game/ same rules, just the some of the essentials character classes do not follow the AEDU power structure.  Many essentials classes are simplers to play because of this, and simpler (more streamlined?) to create because they offer fewer choices.  But essentials and non-essentials run very well along side each other.  A warlord and a slayer is a wonderful combonation.  I've enjoyed playing both.  Many books post essentials release (Heroes of Shadow, Heroes of the Feywild, etc.) offer more Essentials like classes as well.


Fun to be had all around. 


TjD


When it comes to the cards, I'd suggest not buying any at all(the card line never did well, and there aren't cards for even most of the things in the game).  I'd recommend having your players make their own cards instead on blank index cards.  This is both cheaper, and tends to result in the players learning their powers a bit better(and thus, referring to the actual cards less often).  



+1.  We make our own index cards, used a template and typed them up, or use one of the computer character builders and print them that way.  I think making your own index cards is the best way as long as you have the time to do it since you learn the powers well that way. 

One thing I did was to write up/print powers on regular sheets of paper and then got a box of plastic sleeves from office depot and to put them in a 3 ring binder.  Then get a dry erase type marker to cross over the powers when you use them and wipe the sheet clean when the encounter is over.  This reduced the table clutter and you always knew right where they were.

When it comes to the cards, I'd suggest not buying any at all(the card line never did well, and there aren't cards for even most of the things in the game).  I'd recommend having your players make their own cards instead on blank index cards.  This is both cheaper, and tends to result in the players learning their powers a bit better(and thus, referring to the actual cards less often).  



+1.  We make our own index cards, used a template and typed them up, or use one of the computer character builders and print them that way.  I think making your own index cards is the best way as long as you have the time to do it since you learn the powers well that way. 



An extra +1.  On top of that- get them to write up all the static modifiers (attack and damage), so that they'll only have to keep track of ones that change during the encounter.  Makes combat much faster.  And if they're on index cards, you won't have a problem when you gain a level and a number changes. 
Build your own index cards.

Essentials if fine if you don't want to make any choices about your character's development, or having to pick between 2 or 3 good options. Unfortunately, some of the Essentials rules retconned into the main rule set, and caused upheaval and resentment with the "purist" nutjobs (like me).

The premade cards won't include any of your character's modifiers or weapon stats or feat adjustments or synergy bonuses, and will probably slow the game down more than anything else. Ditch them.