Dungeons & Dragons Monster Vault [Review]


Dungeons & Dragons is a hobby that I love. I’ve also neglected it for far too long. I am building up my D&D resources again though. I’ve replaced my third edition books and bought some new dice (any excuse to buy more dice). I want to do more than start playing again, I want to be the Dungeon Master. Besides the neat title, I figure it’s the only guaranteed way for me to play. If I’m running the game, I have to make a schedule and show up. To help me on my DM quest, I obtained Wizards of the Coast’s Monster Vault. It is part of their D&D 4th Edition Essentials series. Like the other Essentials kits, The Monster Vault comes in a sturdy box.

The magical box includes:

  • Ten sheets of die-cut monster tokens
  • Fancy double-sided battle map (dungeon on one side, village on the other)
  • Cairn of the Winter King adventure for 4th level characters
  • 300 page Monster Vault book

Though I loved punching out all the cardboard pieces, my favorite part of this kit (and the part that will be used extensively) is the Monster Vault book. It is full of horrible and wonderful eye candy. You will see the most popular monsters from previous Monster Manuals, but every creature has been updated for the current rules. The book has also been shrunk to the 6×9 Essentials size. It’s a great beginning monster book with multiple tiers.

Inside you’ll find orcs, trolls, ghouls, golems, and manticores among the dozens of entries. Each monster has an easy to read block of stats. This gives you information about everything from HP, standard action, alignment, and so much more. There’s a small picture of the token image with each stat block so you can pick the right token out of the 300+ you punched out of the cardboard. Several background paragraphs provide the history and motivations for each type of monster. Monster fluff is the best kind of fluff.

The tokens are designed to take the place of figs, and I find the tokens much easier to store and use. The die-cut cardboard can’t be bent. You have multiples of most of the monsters, and you can adjust the size of the monster with convenient cardboard rings. The art is top notch. I do have a nitpick about the tokens though—they aren’t specifically labeled with the monster name. You have to do some comparisons against the book, but I suspect you’d memorize them with frequent use.

The playing mat is standard, but it has nice details and the surface has a little tooth—the tokens don’t slide too much over the surface. I haven’t playtested the accompanying adventure yet, but it seems like a pretty straightforward beginning adventure with dungeon crawling and plenty of opportunities for roleplaying. It looks like a great follow up to the adventures found in the D&D Starter and Dungeon Master Essential Kits.

For a $30 price tag, you can’t lose. The Vault is a treasure chest and when you put package it with the hundreds of tokens and the other bonuses, it’s a great deal.

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