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Do you really need those shiny new books?
If, like me, you were very excited to get your hands on the new Mordenkainen's Monsters of the Multiverse when it’s released this May, you may have noticed it curiously available in a special gift set 5 months before the book was set to release. Is this some fluke of scheduling? A literal mistake? A shameless money grab? Get a spot on your gaming shelf ready as we go through everything you need to know about the D&D Expansion Rules Gift Set.
What’s in the Set?
The collection comes in two varieties, “normal” and “alternative art” both of which seem to be retailing for the same $159.99 price. Though recently I have seen some discounted prices and if you shop around, you may be able to pick up a set for around $140. All told it contains:
- The new Mordenkein’s Monsters of the Multiverse.
- Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
- Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
- DM Screen
- Slip Case
Mordenkein’s Monsters of the Multiverse
This is quite likely the reason you’d consider buying the gift set in the first place and you can find a detailed review of the book here. To summarize that review the new Mordenkein’s is 95% of the old Mordenkein’s book combined with 95% of the content from Volo’s guide to monsters.
The main draw for the book is going to be the updates to the 33 fantastical races within it pulled from scattered sources throughout the history of 5e. The updates are great, but it is fundamentally a book of reprints and errata. It’s very nice to have all these player race options and monsters in the same book though, and even the monsters have had some minor tweaks, updates, and improvements.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
Released back in 2020, Tasha’s provided new spells, new items, and a slew of updates and changes to the player classes that were overall improvements to the balance and gameplay of 5e. This new release includes the small number of errata that came out after the book’s release and in a few places the text is slightly different from the original printings to reflect those errata changes. You can find a more in-depth review of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything here.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Released back in 2017, Xanathar’s was the big book of subclasses, providing a much-needed mix of variety to the previously limited class options. Just like with Tasha’s, this gift set release also integrates the errata and minor tweaks made since the book’s original printing and those subtle changes are included in the book’s text. You can find a big list of the included class options here.
Ever since the “trying times”, I’ve found very little use for DM screens as all my games were forced to go online for social distancing purposes. Depending on your personal situation you may be lucky enough to still have in-person games in which case DM screens are a godsend. I purchased the alternate art version and I can attest that this screen is covered in beautiful glossy art with foiled elements that just make it a treasure to put on the table and it’s making me itch to get a game in person again.
I was also impressed with the selection of tables and info on the inner screen, including some useful but often forgotten things like auditory distances while sneaking, foraging, and encounter distances while keeping the needed standbys like conditions and combat actions.
The whole gift set fits into an attractive slip case that has the same embossing and gold foil highlights as the book covers. In full disclosure my set arrived with a munched corner on the slip case, but I blame that on the mail service and not the product. If anything, I think it shows resilience since the case merely wrinkled rather than breaking after the abuse it was given. All in all, I think it nicely ensures that the set will look glorious on your shelf and provides a bit of utility as a single case to take to the game rather than a loose collection of books.
What’s Good About the Set?
I need to preface this by saying that I got the alternate art version (which I think is the infinitely better of the two) but the one I purchased looks absolutely glorious. The covers have a minimal white and gold foiling theme with new artworks that are actually embossed and textured. The Kirin on the Monsters of the Multiverse cover is particularly impressive with texture for each scale making it a treat to see and to hold.
It’s also nice having the books updated to include all the errata, just from a quality-of-life perspective I like knowing that what I’m reading are the rules unequivocally.
The main draw here is obviously Mordenkein’s Monsters of the Multiverse though. As the one and only way to get the new book before May (you can’t even get an online copy) this is the only game in town.
What’s Bad About the Set?
Nothing’s bad about the collection per se, it’s just so bizarre on release. It’s a gift set, which you’d imagine would be released for the holiday season, but it got released in January. It includes a book that hasn’t actually been released yet and won’t be for several months.
It’s also, once again, fundamentally a collection of reprinted material. Even the “new” book is essentially a reprinted combination of two existing books and there’s an excellent chance you have all of this already on your shelf or in your files in one form or another.
Should everybody rush out and buy this gift set, no. Should you buy this gift set, eh… Maybe? It really depends on how new you are to 5e, what you already have, and if you can wait a few months for Monsters of the Multiverse.
If you’re a 5e veteran player who already has Xanathar’s, Volo’s, Mordenkainen’s, and Tasha’s, then really all you’re getting here is fancy covers and early updates for your $160. As much as I like the glossy covers, I really wouldn’t pay $160 for a single book of updates and I can’t recommend it to you.
If, however you’re a newer 5e dnd player, and you don’t have most or all of these books already, then this gift set is a steal. This is essentially 4 books in one set (I’m counting Multiverse of Monsters as both Volo’s and Mordenkainen’s) and with the beautiful covers and a bonus DM screen that price tag doesn’t look so bad. These books collect basically every extra player facing option in 5e along with a great big pile of monsters. If you have the Adventurer’s Guide and the DM’s Guide, buying this set would essentially cover everything else you could need.
And ultimately, it does work well as a gift set. If your DM has a birthday coming up, you could do far worse than a shiny book collection that they’ll get some real good use out of. Just don’t buy it for the “early release”, wait until May if that’s all you’re interested in for this set (and for the love of God if you buy it, get the alternate art version).
Final Score for New Players: 7.5 out of 10
Final Score for Veteran Players: 5 out of 10
Last updated: January 27, 2019
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