Tag Archives: Review

Analyzing D&D 5E’s Unearthed Arcana Revised Ranger


This week, Wizards of the Coast released the much-awaited The Ranger, Revised Unearthed Arcana, in which they took the first pass at a truly redesigned Ranger class. In previous Unearthed Arcana editions, they proposed new archetypes to mixed reception, but this one is actually a rebuild from level 1 to 20, with three subclasses: the Hunter Conclave, the Beast Conclave, and the Deep Stalker Conclave.

Full disclosure: I’m a Ranger critic. As we discussed on Total Party Thrill #18, I love the concept of the Ranger class in Dungeons & Dragons, but I’ve been disappointed with its implementation in 5th Edition. As printed in the Player’s Handbook, the Ranger is a total mess; it’s the weakest of the martial classes in combat, it lacks a niche, and its class-defining abilities are either useless, overshadowed by other classes, or simply less fun in practice than they should be. The Fighter has both trickiness and brute force in combat, the Paladin has better burst damage and party buffs, the Barbarian tanks, the Rogue dominates the Exploration pillar with its Expertise, and the Druid has identical-or-better wilderness and animal handling capabilities. The last hope for the Ranger, his last One Cool Thing, is the animal companion. It’s only available to one subclass, and it happens to be the single worst class in the game by a longshot.

In short, this revision is overdue. Let’s break it down, ability by ability.

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Review: Dungeons & Dragons and Fantasy Grounds, A Happy Medium

Note: The following article originally appears on The Mad Adventurers Society in three parts (one two three.) It has been consolidated and reprinted here with the author’s permission.

When it was announced a few months ago, I wrote at length of virtual tabletop app Fantasy Grounds and its acquisition of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition license. After that discussion, the folks at Fantasy Grounds (www.fantasygrounds.com) were kind enough to send me a copy of the 5E content for review. I downloaded the game on Steam, loaded the Player’s Handbook module (“Complete Core Class Pack”), the Monster Manual module (“Complete Core Monster Pack”), and the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure module, grabbed a few friends, and ran a trial adventure.

This is a hands-on review of Fantasy Grounds’ D&D 5E licensed content. We’ll start by discussing my impressions of Fantasy Grounds as a virtual tabletop overall, followed by the Player’s Handbook licensed content aimed at players, and conclude with a discussion of the licensed content for Dungeon Masters, namely the D&D Complete Core Monster Pack and Lost Mine of Phandelver adventures. Please note that there are spoilers for the first act of Lost Mine of Phandelver contained within.

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How I Murdered My Father: Lessons Learned from Playing Fiasco with Parents


Tonight, for the first time since I picked up Dungeons & Dragons in middle school, I shared my favorite hobby with my dad. He saw me playing D&D with my friends in high school, and while he was supportive, he never had much interest in learning about roleplaying games, much less participating. That all changed tonight when, almost 20 years after I first picked up a roleplaying game, I finally played Fiasco with my girlfriend, my dad, and my stepmother.

As obsessive card players, my dad and stepmom are no stranger to games. I grew up playing Poker and Cribbage with my dad, and we play hundreds of hands of Pinochle each time I visit them. We also play spirited games of Monopoly, Scrabble, and Boggle. Over the years, we’ve played a lot of games, but we just haven’t played any roleplaying games.

So it was with cautious optimism that I sat down with my girlfriend, my father, and my stepmother last night to play Fiasco. They’re both movie buffs who enjoy the Coen brothers’ films, so I tried to explain the concept in cinematic terms: we would be, collectively, the writers, directors, cinematographers, and actors in a Coen brothers movie set in the Wild West. We would use dice to determine some details, but all of the decisions were ultimately in our hands in a directed improv style. Not quite sure what we getting ourselves into, we embarked on our journey.

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