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5E Best and worst of 5E

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I'm a DM, so my books are going to be DM-focused rather than player crunch focused. And if you're going to DM 5e, the only resource you should need is a solid adventure (well, maybe monster stats).

Best: "Lost Mine of Phandelver"
A brilliant intro to 5e, which I've run 3-4 times. Great sandbox to explore with room to expand. Nothing too wild - presents a "core" D&D fantasy experience with goblins, dragons, undead, and big treasure.

Worst: "Horde of the Dragon Queen"
Railroad adventure on a literal caravan. Imbalanced encounters. Massive leaps in logic to get to where the group needs to go. A travel log of the FR, without enough detail to present the FR. No time to actually enjoy the scenery, because you're whisked away to another location immediately.

Enrico Poli1

Best: PHB.
Because bounded accuracy, centrality of roleplay vs rollplay, rulings over rules, caster supremacy dealt with, magic items economy gone, incredibile art, retrocompatibility.

Worst: PotA is so utterly boring we couldn't finish it.


Ignoring the Core books:

Best: Xanathar
PHB2 and DMG2 wrapped into one solid book. Excellent additions to expand 5e.

Worst: Horde of the Dragon Queen
It was not a great start for 5e with such a frustrating to run adventure. The plot was railroady without enough connective tissue to make the railroad make sense.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
In an exercise in extreme positivity and negativity — what’s your favourite official 5E book, and what’s your least favourite?

And... most importantly... why?
Favorite is probably XGtE. It gives excellent advice and resources, fun lore, and reads well.

Least is, by lightyears, MToF. The lore changes the worlds of dnd for no discernible reason, often for the worse. Corellon and Moradin come across as not worthy of being served by any good person. Raven Queen would be better off with no 5e representation. The gnome and halfling lore seems half-assed and mediocre, and doesn’t really even try o explore who these folks are and what makes them interesting.

It’s got a few good monsters, at least? Maybe I’d like it if the Blood War wasn’t completely boring to me?


Phb because it opened the door and set the stage for 5e. Use it all of the time.

HotDQ is the worst. For all the reasons mentioned upthread.


Kobold Enthusiast
Favorite: PHB

It is so rich, so essential, so wonderfully illustrated and evocative. Turned people right around from 4E (many haters and lovers)

Least favorite: PHB

The index is maddening in such a crucial book. It is the rotten pickle that ruins the soup for me.

Runner up - Horde of the Dragon Queen. I don't know what Kobold Press was thinking. I don't know what Wizards was thinking. There is no way anyone was happy with how this turned out in the end. A disservice to both houses from normally reliable authors.


I like LMoP. For a started adventure I got so much mileage out of it. It also rekindled my like for FR. Some of this may be the opening of FR copyrighted material through DMsGuild.

Worst would have to be the Monster Manual. Most all the monsters were placed in the other books and online so it sits on the shelf and does not get used. A second would be the DMG. It was not as useful as the 4e DMG and aside from the magic items, limited to its use.


Best Midgard Stuff Kobold Press, Heroes Handbook, Midgard Worldbook, Tome of Beasts.


Horde of the Dragon Queen. It's just bad. They have an excuse at least.

Best: Ghosts of Saltmarsh. Ghosts of Saltmarsh is the perfect format for a 5E book. It introduces a setting to play in (complete with factions, roll tables, and maps), 7 adventures that can be used as one-shots or to make a campaign (with guidelines to do both), new character options, new magic items, new monsters, and best of all, thematic rule supplements to the core game. Overall a very well designed book.

Worst: PHB. Honestly, the book has sold well off of name alone. Why I put it worst, though, is because the organization of the PHB is honestly freaking horrendous. It isn't clear in what it communicates, is confusing to navigate, has a horrendous index, and overall needs a lot of time with to fully grok. Not very friendly to newbies at all.

Actual Worst: Monster Manual. For the reasons above + the fact that more interesting monsters are contained in other books. The basics coulda' all been put in something else IMO.


Best: Volo's Guide to Monsters. Lots of rich lore on some core monsters. The bestiary is good too. (The playable races section is arguably the worst part of the book, in my opinion, simply because it's obvious WotC couldn't be bothered balancing some of the races.)

Runner-up: Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Love the "in-game" presentation of the lore. Has some pretty cool character options, too. I consider it essential if you're running a game set on the Sword Coast. Not so useful if you're not. Would win out over Volo's if it wasn't such a thin book. (They could easily have included more spells, some magic items, more subclasses, more lore! It's unfortunate they were being so conservative.)

Worst: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. A hot mess with some of the worst examples of railroading I've seen (even worse than Hoard of the Dragon Queen's, and I actually enjoyed running that adventure.). It's trying too hard to be too many different things and fails miserably at all of them. Only really redeeming parts are the Waterdeep gazetteer (which, even then, is a bit light on content) and the easily cut-and-pastable encounter locations. Some of the NPCs are pretty good too.

Runners-up: Xanathar's Guide to Everything and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Both because they are disappointingly random grab-bags of good, bad, meh, and ugly. XGE could have been so much better than what we actually got, and MTF doesn't do what it says on the tin. The bestiary is OK but the lore isn't particularly useful.


Morkus from Orkus
For me the best would be Xanthar's, because I like the options it presents to the players and DM alike. My least favorite would probably be the DM's guide(It's still a good book), because it's mostly advice that after 30+ years of running D&D, I just don't need.


Goblin Queen
Disclaimer: I haven’t gotten the essentials kit yet.

Best: I’m gonna cheat a bit and say the best for me is the Starter Set. Not technically a book, but the best 5e product by far. Everything you need to run the game, including the basic rules for players and DM, an excellent starter adventure (best 5e adventuring I’be read so far, Murder in Baldur’s Gate notwithstanding), and a set of dice. Absolutely fantastic product.

Honorable Mention: DMG. The 5e DMG is a treasure trove of solid DM advice, adventure building resources, and interesting optional rules. Would probably have been my pick for best if it hadn’t been so horribly organized.

Worst: Horde of the Dragon Queen. No surprise here, it’s been a lot of people’s choice for worst already. Horrible railroady adventure with serious balancing issues, and an absolutely awful first adventure path for the edition. Thank goodness for the amazing starter kit and DMG, because this would have been an abysmal introduction to the edition otherwise.

Dishonorable mention: Out of the Abyss. As an adventure, it might actually be worse than HotDQ. The balancing issues aren’t as bad, but the whole first half of the adventure is painfully unfocused and meandering, while paradoxically being every bit as railroady. Literal weeks of wandering through the underdark with nothing but the odd random encounter to hold the players’ interest, only to be captured by hostile creatures AGAIN and be “conveniently” saved by an unavoidable disaster as a Demon Lord shows up. Rinse, repeat. The second half was ok, but not nearly good enough to redeem the first half. The only reason this didn’t beat out HotDQ for worst is that it low-key makes for a pretty decent Underdark campaign guide if you ignore all the actual adventure.
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Another best vote for Starter Set/LMoP. Fun sandbox,with some side encounters/plots that have given me alot more mileage out of the box than the page count and cost would indicate.

I haven't picked up hardly anything besides the core books and the starter set because the adventure paths books are pretty worthless to me (ToA and CoS excluded), so my worst vote goes to the PHB. I get by fine with the Basic Rules, MM, and the occasional use of the DMG- Petty complaint- Barring the cover, the art in the PHB is also the weakest of the core books.


Best: Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Fantastically useful.

Worst: Acquisitions Incorporated. I've been pretty satisfied with every book I've bought, but I was so uninterested in this that I got it through the library to read, and won't be buying. Not terrible, but not worth my money. Every other book has been worth the cost.


Lowcountry Low Roller
I’m voting for Xanathar’s for the best. An approachable guide to a bunch of useful stuff.

Runner up: I dunno, I have issues with pretty much everything. I guess I’ll say PHB but only because it is full of useful stuff, just horribly presented for newcomers (though not as bad as the DMG, which is utterly backwards).

Sword Coast Adventurers Guide has to be the worst. Absolutely useless!

Dragon Heist is a close runner up. No excuse for that hot mess as pukunui so aptly put it.


Best: Starter/LMoP just a wonderfully complete and fun adventure. I have run it numerous times and it is always a hit.

Worst: DMG. I rarely use it except to look up magic items. I do not think it serves newbie or veteran D.M.s well.


Best: Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Fantastically useful.

Worst: Acquisitions Incorporated. I've been pretty satisfied with every book I've bought, but I was so uninterested in this that I got it through the library to read, and won't be buying. Not terrible, but not worth my money. Every other book has been worth the cost.
I change my worst to this. So uninteresting I totally forgot it existed lol

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