Dungeon Masters rejoice with the release of the 5e Starter Set Dragons of Stormwreck Isle
Is Stormwreck Isle the Best 5e Starter Set? The newest and possibly LAST Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set for the fifth edition is epic but is it the best boxed set available?
The Dungeons & Dragons starter set Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is a Target exclusive that hit shelves on July 31st, 2022. It comes complete with a 48-page adventure book, a 32-page rules book, 5 pre-generated characters, and 6 game dice. It’s a self-contained adventure but encourages expansion into the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide.
The premise is classic Dungeons & Dragons and contains every ingredient for an epic journey through the Forgotten Realms. You play a heroic character caught up in an ancient war among dragons as you uncover the mysteries of Stormwreck Isle.
Sounds pretty cool, right? It is. But, is it better than previous editions of Starter Set adventures? Let’s dig in and find out!
The Recipe for Great Role Playing Games
If you’re new to Dungeons & Dragons it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the rules before you ever roll a pair of dice. That’s the beauty of beginning with a self-contained starter set. As the saying goes: Variety is the spice of life so Wizards of the Coast LLC introducing a new box set makes perfect sense.
Of the 3 official Dungeons & Dragons products listed as a Starter Set, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is by far the shortest. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just something to consider when beginning the campaign.
Stormwreck Isle is designed to introduce new players and new Dungeon Masters to the game with simple and easy-to-follow game mechanics. A shorter adventure doesn’t mean a skimpy campaign either, Stormwreck Isle offers just as much if not more substance than Lost Mine of Phandelver.
What’s in the Boxed Set
The background information and guide rails put in place for budding Dungeon Masters take up a big chunk of the module. The adventure is broken up into 4 parts. An intro, 2 Dungeon Delving Missions, and a Conclusion.
There is a small amount of sandboxing and just enough room for exploration so that the player characters don’t feel railroaded. Stormwreck Isle excels as a beginner guide for the new Dungeon Master. There is more handholding in the story which helps build a natural knowledge of the world and rules.
Speaking of the story… there is an epic sense of magic and nature in Stormwreck Isle that the Phandelver adventure lacked at times. Stormwreck Isle is a land of power and ancient dragons that many new players come to a Dungeons & Dragons game to experience.
The adventure as written may need a little tweaking in places for more experienced players and Dungeon Masters though. The Boxed Set comes with 5 pre-generated character sheets allowing players to jump into the game without having to create one from scratch. There are even key moments throughout the adventure that plays towards the use of those pre-generated characters.
That is GREAT for first-time players but it takes away from the fans who like to start from scratch with race and character classes. It’s here that a little improvisation will come in handy to ensure Dungeons & Dragons players of all experience levels have unique game experiences.
Wizards Presents a Boxed Set With an Emphasis on Playing Characters With Style
Stormwreck Isle does a great job of hitting on many important D&D game mechanics and essential rules. It is a bite-sized module and many groups should have the ability to complete the journey in one session. Again, that’s not a bad thing and with a small amount of imagination, many Dungeon Masters could create narratives to connect Stormwreck Isle to other Starter Sets to continue the adventure further.
A HUGE benefit in the set comes from the dedicated hub of adventurer videos on Youtube to further guide new players and Dungeon Masters. These videos are collected on one site for easy access at any time. They expand on the rules, delve into game mechanics and help flesh out character interactions for a smooth game experience.
That Feeling of Being Chained to a Character Sheet
I am a bit conflicted about this set as a whole though. As a full disclaimer – I’m a big fan of the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure as well as the Essentials Kit. I believe the two previous editions of Starter Sets did many things right which set the bar extremely high for Dragons of Stormwreck Isle.
For sheer bang in the box, the Essentials Kit knocks it out of the park. It is packaged with a rules book, the Dragonspire Peak adventure, 11 dice, a DM screen, condition cards, a poster map, and gameplay cards. That is a TON of content to get started with. Granted, the Essentials Kit is a hybrid Starter Kit and with downloadable add ons can take player characters to level 10 and beyond.
It’s more appropriate to compare Stormwreck Isle to Lost Mine since both boxes are pretty much identical in what’s inside. (Although Lost Mines comes with a beefier and longer adventure). Here is where preference and need come into play.
I enjoy Dragons of Stormwreck Isle. It’s a well-structured adventure for 1st through 3rd level characters. It has a great combo of combat, exploration, and NPC interaction.
The role-playing interactions stand out for me, especially with the evil-leaning kobolds. I enjoy any chance to inject gamer humor into the story and these interactions are a ripe field for that.
Call back from an 80’s Cartoon
The adventure book art features characters from the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon. That’s cool. It has nothing at all to do with the adventure or story but is definetly a cool Easter egg. There are even adjacent Miniatures from Wizkids that feature the Cartoon Characters. You better believe I have plans for those!
The mini rulebook is a nice snapshot of basic rules and skills. It is mostly reprinted from the Player’s Handbook but is designed for those who have never played before.
The highlight of the Dragons of Stormwreck Isle Starter Set is the Pre-generated characters, The implementation of those characters through the printed adventure, and of course the MONSTERS! A complete adventure dedicated to Kobolds, Dragons, and Zombies… YES PLEASE!
So – Is Stormwreck Isle the Best 5e Starter Set
The answer is – it depends. It depends on what you’re looking for and what scale you are ready to commit to. If you want to play a quick intro to the world of D&D with minimal long term commitment then Stormwreck Isle is 100% for you. If you’re looking for something with more bite and investment of time then Lost MInes or the Essential Kit is a better starting place.
Of course, you can always get creative and combine all three! Get those Homebrew juices flowing and design your own version called Dragons of the Lost Mine of Icespire Peak campaign!
The D&D Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is a Target exclusive for now and will get a wide release on October 4, 2022.
Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition or Wizards of the Coast LLC…
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And while you’re here – Check out our past D&D articles. LIKE THIS ONE – Build a Better Fighter With These 5e Feats