Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Monster Vault  » Games  »
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  • Like the Dungeon Master's Kit, this comes with all sorts of accessories to help enhance the tabletop gaming experience
  • There is also some interesting gear, so if you're looking to reward players, you could use this as a resource
  • Personally, I think the exterior layout works better

by David Finniss


    Heroes are defined by their villains. That old adage holds true in role playing games just as much as it does in any other story telling medium. While Dungeon/Game Masters can (and have) run campaigns that are light on combat to put greater focus on the role playing aspect, sooner or later, the team of adventurers is going to need something to hit.

    Enter the Essentials Monster Vault. This acts as the “monster manual” for the Essentials line. Like the Dungeon Master’s Kit, this comes with all sorts of accessories to help enhance the tabletop gaming experience.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Monster Vault
  • Much like how the two “Heroes” books act as companion pieces, so too does this act as a companion to the Dungeon Master’s Kit. It shares a lot of structural similarities, but it does differ enough to stand on its own. It too comes with maps, tokens, and an adventure.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Monster Vault
  • The book is especially notable as it is the only book in the entire line not to feature a rundown of the rules. That’s right, nothing on feats or skill challenges or checks. This is just monsters from beginning to end.

    The book does give you some background information on what each creature is, though obviously DM’s can fudge with things to better suit the story they’re trying to tell. It also features what are called “stat blocks” that show you what each monster can do and how much damage it can take.

    Much like the players’ books, this is a fun one to skim through. Just as you can imagine the sort of character you would build, so too can you hypothesize on what sort of monsters you would use in hypothetical encounters. It’s a plus that you can garner some enjoyment out of it, even if you never get the chance to play.

    The book has a nice mix of high and low level monsters. I do feel like all the cool ones are at higher level, which makes building low level encounters a bit difficult, but I suppose that can’t be avoided.

    I actually wouldn’t have minded seeing more sets like this one. I suppose the idea behind Essentials was to keep the product line to a minimum for simplicity’s sake, but going a full campaign with just the monsters seen here is hard to imagine. Then again, I’m imagining going level 1 to 30 and, from what I’ve seen, most games don’t make it that far, so it could be moot.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Monster Vault
  • As noted, this set also comes with an adventure. Unlike the other set, this is simply a “one part” story. Oddly enough, this one seems more combat heavy.

    If you’re looking to cherry pick, that could work to your advantage as you have more encounters to glean through, but it is a little strange to see a single adventure generate more experience points than an adventure that spans two booklets.

    There is also some interesting gear, so if you’re looking to reward players, you could use this as a resource.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Monster Vault
  • The adventure comes with an accompanying map, just as the adventure in the DM kit did. Again, the map knows no edition so even if you’re more partial to fifth or second edition Dungeons and Dragons, this can be of use to you as a DM.

    The map is double sided, giving you both an exterior and an interior layout. If you’re a fan of labyrinthine “dungeon crawls” the interior might be more to your preference.

    Personally, I think the exterior layout works better. It’s more open and more versatile. You can certainly use the other map to suit your needs, but specific rooms are for specific things and players won’t be able to maneuver as easily. Of course, if you’re a DM, hindering your players could work to your advantage, so it all depends on how you play.

  • Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Monster Vault
  • This kit also comes with tokens. You actually get more tokens here than you do in the other box. That’s justified though as this has more to cover.

    The tokens aren’t labelled, which I could see being a pain after you pop them out of the cardboard. I guess the idea was to keep the suspense as having the name visible would undercut player tension. It seems like there should be a way to discreetly label them so that DM’s have an easier time of it.

    Having different tokens as different sizes makes a nice touch. Some of the monsters are much bigger and seeing that conveyed on the board helps add to the excitement.

    Between the two DM kits, I think that this is the stronger one. It has more “re-read” value and it comes with more cool gear. A lot of it works despite edition, which is a perk for long time gamers who may prefer to run a different version of the game.

    If you have the other 4th edition monster manuals, the overlap may vex you, but I understand wanting to showcase the more iconic monsters. From what I gather, they are different builds, so it is a way to throw your players a curve ball and mix up encounters that might otherwise seem redundant.

Andrew Leaither says :

Heroes are defined by their villains. It’s strange but it’s true and I have to agree with you. “Dragons Essentials Monster” sounds great on reading your review, I like the title and think it’s really catchy nice review to a movie that’s really worth an interesting watch. I will add this to my watch list of movies.

David Finniss replies :

Wait, what? This isn’t a movie. It’s a kit that’s used in a tabletop role playing game. I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that it was a film given the review, but it is certainly not the case.

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The review was published as it's written by reviewer in June, 2016. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 2812061654650230/k2311a0612/6.12.16
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