So, As you may or may not know, I am taking over running Encounters at my local store!
I have bought the rules compendium, and would like to know more about the other essentials products, particulary The 2 heroes books, and the monster vault.
What am I getting by purchasing these essentials products? What is the difference between buying these products and purchasing the full size books(One of the things I like about the Essentials line is its compactness).
A whole can of worms.
I strongly recomend the monster vault. Lots of tokens for monster use, and a pretty solid selection of monsters.
I don't recomend the 2 heroes of books. I was attracted by the smaller size, but that was literally the only thing I liked. I found the rules lacking in comparison to the PHBI. Not enough paragon paths or epic destinies, and not as many options as the hardback books. Also of note is that the classes in the two series are structured differently. All non-essential classes have the same rough skeleton. Essentials classes are each unique, and IMO have less neat things going on.
I also found the non-class rules were thinned out a lot from core 4e (which is already threadbare as far as I am concerned)
This is a heated topic here. I tried to say I prefer one to the other without fanning flames. I probably didn't.
The larger core books have more options. The individual classes have more choices they get to make.
The essentials books are a lot more polished, and you don't have to worry quite as much about unexpected interactions between mechanics.
Centauri summed up the differences pretty succinctly. However, if you're DMing you don't really NEED the Heroes books or the PHBs since you have the Compendium. Though they are nice to have.
So Essentially(lol) the PHB's cost £2 more, but have a lot more actual content, and not just fluff?
It is for this season, atleast. You're limited to the two Essentials Hero books, and any Dragon Magazine articles that support them. I would imagine that they're allowing themes from the Neverwinter book and the gods from the FR book, but I don't remember seeing those written in the hand-out that came in the Encounters material that they sent out to my local store. (Though admittedly, I only gave it a passing glance, since a) I'm not the organizer, I'm only assisting him and b) at the time we were much more interested in the material for Game Day.)
Anyways, Wesker, to sum it up, the Essentials Hero books are all about simplicity. Do they offer as many choices as the Player's Handbooks? Nope. Not nearly. But they're not supposed to. The whole design philosophy behind these books is that they're designed to give new players a way to build their characters without being overwhelmed by having too many options to choose from.
As for the lack of rules that Krusk mentioned, he's absolutely right. Unlike the PHB, the Hero books don't carry that kind of information. They're soley for building characters. Rules are reffered to in the Rules Compendium.
I would go with the Essential products first. If you like the game and want to expand, then you could purchase the older books and explore all the options they offer. The presentation, rules, (and I dare say) the player classess and monsters are polished up and easier to digest in the essentials book. Their is also more fluff in the Essential books. The original 4e core books, contain great advice on how to actually role play(as do the Essentials books), but are very light on the fluff. I highly reccomend the DMG 2 if you want increase your DM-Foo.
I also like the compact smaller books and cardboard counters for ease transporting.
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