Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: The WotC AD&D Reprints

I've been kind of surprised that I've seen very little talk of these books since their Tuesday release. Perhaps I've simply been too sequestered over on G+. At any rate, I just got mine yesterday, and here are my thoughts:
  • The covers are decent, nice quality. They have a nice feel to them. Not as cool-looking as the originals, but pretty good nonetheless.
  • The gold on the edge of the pages ("gilded pages?") is silly and tacky. So is the bookmark ribbon. Doesn't make sense in an RPG book, in my opinion. (Side note: I've been strongly considering undertaking Jeff's advice of reading the DMG front-to-back, and I guess it would be useful for that, but I'd probably choose to read the original book in that case.)
  • The slick paper doesn't seem to fit right in a black & white book. It doesn't bother me with Pathfinder stuff, but it doesn't seem appropriate here.
  • It's cool that they spent the time re-typesetting the entire thing, but the typeface is narrower and more difficult to read than the original, which is probably exacerbated a bit by the glossy paper.
  • These books are having sort of an identity crisis. They are too crappy (although reasonably priced) to be collector's items, yet they have these little touches which suggest they are not meant to be everyday play copies.
Conclusion: If you are looking for books to actually play with, and have the patience to search on eBay, used book stores, etc., I'd highly recommend going with an original set. I think the originals are more durable and more legible. On the other hand, if you have the disposable income, and want to tell WotC that you think it's cool that they are printing older material, don't be afraid to buy a set of these. These books are perfectly serviceable, and my nitpicks are only things that a true OCD nerd (like myself) would even notice, much less find objectionable. I haven't scoured these with a fine-tooth comb, but as far as I can tell, the text and layout is true to the original, insofar as if you had to look up a spell, for example, you would find it on the same page in the same location in both versions. In terms of the identity crisis I mentioned earlier, I'm glad they erred on the side of keeping the books reasonably priced. If I were to start an AD&D game tomorrow, I'd have no qualms about recommending players who didn't want to fiddle with eBay to get a copy of this reprinted PHB for use in the game.

I thought I would take some photos of my books, but I found that Tim Brannan has taken some excellent photos of his, and did a far better job than I could have done with my crappy camera on my phone. (I also stand in awe of his beautiful set of originals.) Go check out what he has to say on the matter.