D&D 5E Best and Worst of 5e - every book rated

One of the annoying things about the reviews of D&D products on Amazon is that every single 5e book is rated 4.9, 4.8, or 4.7 which doesn't really tell you their relative quality. A few weeks ago JEB very helpfully posted a list that included the reviews from Goodreads. I noticed that those ratings have a lot more variation and they seem to match up with the consensus views on Enworld. So I have reposted the info but sorted by Goodreads rating. The numbers in (parentheses) are the amount of reviews and the numbers in [brackets] are the ratings.

Wildemount (627) [4.64]

PHB (10,470) [4.58]
MM (4,065) [4.57]

DMG (5,583) [4.53]
Curse of Strahd (1,342) [4.52]
Xanathar's (2,484) [4.50]

Volo's (1,811) [4.47]
Eberron (530) [4.46]

Original Starter Set (2,219) [4.40]
Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (1,163) [4.40]
Tasha's (899) [4.39]

Tomb of Annihilation (570) [4.36]
Essentials Kit (282) [4.36]
Rick and Morty starter set (97) [4.34]
Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft (318) [4.33]
Fizban's (222) [4.33]

Wild Beyond the Witchlight (163) [4.31]
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (647) [4.30]
Theros (264) [4.30]
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden (312) [4.29]
Ravnica (450) [4.28]
Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus (314) [4.28]

Tales from the Yawning Portal (673) [4.22]
Out of the Abyss (528) [4.20]
Storm King's Thunder (553) [4.19]
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (279) [4.19]
Candlekeep Mysteries (208) [4.19]
Ghosts of Saltmarsh (543) [4.18]

Acquisitions Inc. (211) [4.14]
Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep (7) [4.14]

Princes of the Apocalypse (550) [4.05]
Tyranny of Dragons (43) [4.05]

SCAG (1,291) [4.00]

Rise of Tiamat (621) [3.96]
Stranger Things starter set (19) [3.95]


Hoard of the Dragon Queen (959) [3.76]
Strixhaven (67) [3.72]
 

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Gorecannon

Villager
I didn't realize Strixhaven was so poorly received!
If it's anything like the reviews I've seen on it, the biggest complaints are about the inclusive elements. Though it doesn't cross over well with a standard D&D game, there is a definite disparity, it's okay as a pretence of the setting it so obviously wanted to be. Certainly not the worst 5e book.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I didn't realize Strixhaven was so poorly received!
I think the issue is that Strixhaven is perceived to be something that you can't use with a typical D&D campaign. WBtW is unlike your standard D&D fare, but you can have an ordinary party go through it, and they can even hack their way through its encounters if they want. Strixhaven, by contrast, requires everyone to buy into its premise, which is deliberately different from your average D&D campaign.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I think the issue is that Strixhaven is perceived to be something that you can't use with a typical D&D campaign. WBtW is unlike your standard D&D fare, but you can have an ordinary party go through it, and they can even hack their way through its encounters if they want. Strixhaven, by contrast, requires everyone to buy into its premise, which is deliberately different from your average D&D campaign.
Looking at the reviews on Goodreads the low scoring folks are either mad about it being a "Harry Potter ripoff" or that there's not as much detail in the setting as they'd like. One person lists 4 things they like, 1 thing they didn't, and then gave it 2 stars which feels like a harsh grade :)
 

Stormonu

Legend
I didn't realize Strixhaven was so poorly received!
Strixhaven doesn't know what it wants to be - it is neither truly an adventure or a campaign setting, just has aspects of both. It's an incomplete toolbox.

Also, I think a lot of people were expecting something with a stronger tie towards Hogwarts, and it didn't deliver on that.

(Personally, I also find the stats for "students" in the back to be gross power creep, and not what I was expecting)
 


I think the issue is that Strixhaven is perceived to be something that you can't use with a typical D&D campaign. WBtW is unlike your standard D&D fare, but you can have an ordinary party go through it, and they can even hack their way through its encounters if they want. Strixhaven, by contrast, requires everyone to buy into its premise, which is deliberately different from your average D&D campaign.

Looking at the reviews on Goodreads the low scoring folks are either mad about it being a "Harry Potter ripoff" or that there's not as much detail in the setting as they'd like. One person lists 4 things they like, 1 thing they didn't, and then gave it 2 stars which feels like a harsh grade :)

Strixhaven doesn't know what it wants to be - it is neither truly an adventure or a campaign setting, just has aspects of both. It's an incomplete toolbox.

Also, I think a lot of people were expecting something with a stronger tie towards Hogwarts, and it didn't deliver on that.

(Personally, I also find the stats for "students" in the back to be gross power creep, and not what I was expecting)
It also doesn't help that Strixhaven's setting, Arcavios, isn't really "fleshed out" that much even in its own series. It's the Colleges, a few terms, ruins and that's it.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
It also is on the low-end of number of reviews, which makes each individual review have more impact on the total average. You probably want to see the total review start getting into the hundreds before getting a better idea of what the feelings really are over a larger swathe of the gaming population.

I mean, I wouldn't want to yet hang my hat on any Call of the Netherdeep total when it's only been reviewed by 7 people so far. ;)
 

Also, considering the Goodreads scale, Strixhaven is nearly 3/4 of the way to “really liked it” from the “liked it” level of 3, even with the relatively small sample size.

Is that truly doing “poorly”?
 


Akrasia

Procrastinator
Interesting ranking.

The difference in rank between the Essentials and Starter Kit is not that significant. But the Essentials Kit is superior to the Starter Kit in pretty much every way (it includes a full rule set [up to level 6] and a more interesting sandbox).

My two favourite adventure books so far are Tales from the Yawning Portal and Ghosts of Saltmarsh. I guess my preference for Greyhawk and freestanding adventures (including updated 1e adventures) places me outside the "consensus."
 

JEB

Legend
I mean, I wouldn't want to yet hang my hat on any Call of the Netherdeep total when it's only been reviewed by 7 people so far. ;)
Yeah, I think you want to wait at least until 2023 to consider rankings for 2022 books.

Strixhaven's been out long enough for its ranking to have some meaning, but I imagine we won't have a good idea for sure until late this year.
 

JEB

Legend
Just to note, the numbers from my previous post were slightly outdated - here's what they look like now.

Wildemount (638) [4.64]

PHB (10,592) [4.58]
MM (4,094) [4.57]

DMG (5,639) [4.53]
Curse of Strahd (1,364) [4.51]
Xanathar's (2,503) [4.50]

Volo's (1,828) [4.47]
Eberron (539) [4.46]

Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (1,172) [4.41]
Original Starter Set (2,241) [4.40]

Tasha's (924) [4.38]
Essentials Kit (292) [4.37]
Tomb of Annihilation (579) [4.35]
Fizban's (244) [4.35]

Rick and Morty starter set (97) [4.34]
Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft (330) [4.32]
Wild Beyond the Witchlight (183) [4.31]
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (660) [4.30]

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden (318) [4.29]
Theros (267) [4.29]
Ravnica (451) [4.28]
Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus (323) [4.28]

Tales from the Yawning Portal (679) [4.22]
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (281) [4.20]

Out of the Abyss (538) [4.19]
Storm King's Thunder (557) [4.18]
Ghosts of Saltmarsh (556) [4.18]
Candlekeep Mysteries (219) [4.17]

Acquisitions Inc. (216) [4.14]
Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep (7) [4.14]

Tyranny of Dragons (42) [4.05]

Princes of the Apocalypse (555) [4.04]

SCAG (1,301) [3.99]
Rise of Tiamat (624) [3.96]
Stranger Things starter set (19) [3.95]

Hoard of the Dragon Queen (966) [3.76]

Strixhaven (104) [3.72]


Most kept the same rating, though Curse of Strahd, Out of the Abyss, Princes of the Apocalypse, Storm King's Thunder, Tomb of Annihilation, Candlekeep Mysteries, Theros, SCAG, Van Richten's, and Tasha's went down slightly, and Fizban's, Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, Dungeon of the Mad Mage, and the Essentials Kit went up.

Also of note - Strixhaven does have over 100 reviews now, but the rank stayed the same. Make of that what you will.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Interesting ranking.

The difference in rank between the Essentials and Starter Kit is not that significant. But the Essentials Kit is superior to the Starter Kit in pretty much every way (it includes a full rule set [up to level 6] and a more interesting sandbox).

My two favourite adventure books so far are Tales from the Yawning Portal and Ghosts of Saltmarsh. I guess my preference for Greyhawk and freestanding adventures (including updated 1e adventures) places me outside the "consensus."
I don't own either "starter" kits, but the common opinion I've read is that the adventure in the starter kit is much better than the essential kit.
 

Nebulous

Legend
It also is on the low-end of number of reviews, which makes each individual review have more impact on the total average. You probably want to see the total review start getting into the hundreds before getting a better idea of what the feelings really are over a larger swathe of the gaming population.

I mean, I wouldn't want to yet hang my hat on any Call of the Netherdeep total when it's only been reviewed by 7 people so far. ;)
Exactly. I have CotN for Roll20, and I can say without doubt that the opening chapter alone is excellent, and introduces ideas I've never used in D&D before. I would greatly expect that low rating to increase. It's a very epic adventure that takes the players across two different continents and into some truly frightening otherwordly locales.
 

Nebulous

Legend
I don't own either "starter" kits, but the common opinion I've read is that the adventure in the starter kit is much better than the essential kit.
I own both. I ran Phandelver at the start of 5e and we loved it. I ran it again a couple years ago and blended it with parts of Essentials for a more fleshed out campaign (we didn't get to finish unfortunately because of Covid). I think Phandelver is an absolute classic adventure that ranks near the top of any D&D adventure ever, so that is no small praise. I would recommend for anyone, even seasoned DMs, that mixing those two starter sets is not a bad idea at all.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I would recommend for anyone, even seasoned DMs, that mixing those two starter sets is not a bad idea at all.
I'll even extend that further and say for people to pick up 4E's Neverwinter Campaign Setting book as well, if for no other reason that it extends out and fills in a bunch of other locations in and around the Triboar Trail and the Neverwinter Wood. Having all three items gave me so many different locations relatively fleshed out that when I ran this adventure area for my players over the pandemic, they could pretty much go anywhere around the entire area and there were peoples and places to run into.

Those three books combined can give you so much at your fingertips. And that doesn't even cover the actual village of Triboar to the east of the trail which if necessary you can also cover if you pick up Storm King's Thunder.
 

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