That’s it for the Player’s book. I’ll look at the DM book tomorrow, but before I go, here are my final thoughts:
I didn’t mention this before, but the player’s and DM’s books don’t carry the Elmore art. They have a modern reimagining of the same scene by Ralph Horsley. The art is more cartoonish and less Vallejovian, but it’s still a lone sword-and-shield fighter vs. a red dragon over a crack full of loot. There are no red-dragon knees, sadly, and the dragon seems short of eyes as well. But there are ewers. Lots of ewers. That’s what’s important.
How does this player’s book compare to the Mentzer one? It tries to accomplish less, but what it does is done about as well.
The Mentzer player’s book is 64 pages. It contains an introductory solo adventure which explains the game concepts, as well as a longer solo dungeon crawl. It also has full writeups up to level 3 for the 7 classes (fighter, wizard, rogue, cleric, elf, halfling, and dwarf) and an equipment section. Finally, it includes the basic combat rules.
The Essentials player’s book is 32 pages – half as long. Its introductory solo adventure is about as good as the Mentzer one (although I miss Aleena and Bargle). Rather than a full dungeon crawl, it provides a mini-skill challenge and a single encounter. There are no standard class writeups: as an artifact of completing the adventure, players end up with a complete level 1 character. There is apparently a dungeon crawl – moved to the DM’s book; rules for levelling up to 2, in the DM’s book, and basic combat rules, in the DM’s book. There’s no equipment section, and I’m not sure there will be one in the DM’s book. That’s something I do miss. I do love shopping for equipment. For me, poring over weapon and equipment lists is somehow caught up in the whole heroic power fantasy.