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.


  1. I quite like them, and the bindings look really sturdy. High-quality sewn. Not sure about in comparison to the original ones, but almost certainly better than the orange-spine ones.

    I don't mind the font change, but the art did lose some detail, and in a few pictures it is pretty dramatic, like the stairs and magic mouth.

    1. Yeah, I think overall they are great books. I hope my "review" didn't sound too negative. I think I am put off by the gilded pages more than anything else. I think it just looks ridiculous. But that is simply a matter of taste, and if it's my biggest gripe, I'd say WotC did a fine job.

  2. Can you still see the eyes looking up from the bottom of the stairs in the magic mouth picture? Also, which side are these stairs on (the side with the "halfling holding the sword" - right or left? There's one later print where the image is flipped left to right. Just curious what printing was used.

    1. No, the eyes are no longer clear. You can make them out if you know what to look for, but I probably wouldn't see them as eyes if I didn't already know.

    2. @Zenopus

      I took a photo for comparison:

      Even with the poor resolution of my iPhone, the difference in quality seems clear.

      Despite some issues like this though, I still really like the reprints, and oddly I'm enjoying reading them more right now (especially the Monster Manual) for whatever reason.

    3. Thanks for the info and photos. I have a 7th print PHB (per Acaeum numbering), which is one with the original cover. In this the halfling with the sword out, and the stair with eyes, and are on the right hand side of the picture (near center of book). I believe this is the original format for this picture.

      You can see the two different versions here: Acaeum thread on PHB with reversed image on page 108

      So they've used the reversed image for the reprints.

  3. The smell is *mostly* gone now, but my DMG's pages sure smelled weird when I first opened it. How about your books?