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Best and worst of 5E

Parmandur

Legend
I change my worst to this. So uninteresting I totally forgot it existed lol
A case could be made that it doesn't count as a main release, but I think it does.

I'm sure there are plenty of people having a lot of fun with it. I know Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Dragon Heist have worked for me and mine, though the criticisms in this thread are quite valid.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
Best: Players Handbook.
Other than the free version of the basic rules, it's the essential book of the edition. Everyone at the table, Player or DM, needs a copy. Everything else in the edition hinges upon this book and it sets how the edition is judged/accepted.
For the most part it does a great job.

Worst?
I'm not going to judge the books I haven't read - Ravnica, Ebberron, & Acquisitions. Just because the content isn't of interest to me doesn't make it bad....
So my vote goes to Sword Coast Adventures.
Why? Because it's just been pretty much useless except for a few select pages in our games.
 

S'mon

Legend
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.
I agree about the PHB - both great, and terribly frustrating.

Aside from PHB, my favourite would be Xanathar's, it has better DM stuff than the DMG, including very nice tiered encounter tables.

Not sure about worst - I disliked Lost Mine of Phandelver but I will try running it again soon, I reckon I know the reasons it didn't work for me first time, primarily the beginning and the quest-hub NPCs, and those can be dealt with. I bought HoTD & RoT recently but haven't read most of them. Adventures in Wilderland for AiME was terribly ralroady, but not really 5e I guess.
 

Li Shenron

Adventurer
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?
For "best" it's difficult to evaluate together core and supplements. For sure, the PHB is the best and more valuable book because it's the GAME itself actually.

On the other hand if you ask me what's my favourite (not the same question) I'd say the MM because that's what I still enjoy reading most even casually, and it's my favourite MM across all editions.

Among non-core books it would be XGtE, thanks to the fact that it complements (or even complete, in terms of subclasses) the PHB nicely. I really don't feel I need anymore character material after XGtE.

The worst is easily SCAG. It's way too narrow to work as a setting book for me, it feels more like a demo. And it's very light on character material too. I dislike the focus on backgrounds because those are the easiest material to do by yourself (they literally require no playtesting). And the best subclasses were reprinted in XGtE, making SCAG even less valuable. The only way to redeem the book would be to make it part of a larger series of regional sourcebooks, which doesn't seem to be WotC plan.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
Best:

The PHB. Organizational issues aside (and they certainly exist), it introduced a great new edition. One that manages to both feel modern and yet channel the older editions of the game. Two mechanics particularly stand out:

1. Concentration: one of the best balancing mechanics to allow spell casters to do their thing but not completely outshine non casters.

2. Advantage/disadvantage: a simple yet elegant mechanic both for combat and out.

Worst:

I'm going with Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. As many problems as HoTDQ has, it doesn't rise to Dragon Heist.

1. The "heist" isn't one performed by the players. If you advertise a heist, give the players a heist!

2. The adventure has too many instances where it forces you too wander around for no good reason until you stumble upon the path to the next section. It's meant to appear open ended, but it really, really isn't. Often, that's worse than admitting it's linear.

3. A 60 page section on villain lairs that the book itself admits, if the players actually explore these lairs, they're likely going to suffer a TPK. I get making the adventure feel more real etc, but 60 pages that doesn't actually fit the adventure is too much.

3. The single worst example of railroading I've seen in an adventure, and I've recently re-looked at the Dragonlance modules!
the mcguffin itself will literally force the players to forget they found it, if the DM thinks they found it to early!
That's not clever or cute, it's preposterous and horrible.
 

gyor

Adventurer
Best: Swordcoast Adventurers Guide, PHB, and the good parts of XGTE, and the Waterdeep books.

Worst: The Filler in XGTE and Dragon Queen books, Curse of Strahd.
 

clearstream

Explorer
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?
Favourite = PHB. It constitutes the core gameplay, but more remarkably it advances the game in ways informed by the design arc of Book of Nine Swords and 4e. The mechanics achieve a level of sophistication that is transparent to readers, pleasing players across the spectrum.

Least favourite = SCAG. I think the crunch is SCAG is overall poor, and questionable when it comes to balance. The fluff, given the wealth of exceptional material from previous editions to draw on, is badly organised and fails to shine. It's the only book I have that I haven't gotten value from. Possibly they wanted to leave room for the Faerun material they wanted to publish in modules such as SKT? I like WotC's updated approach to those modules (some world material, some crunch, and the main adventure), but they might have served players better by publishing the SCAG material across those modules.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
Best: the PHB and DMG. I like the character creation process, reduced skill list, easier combat as well as the new mechanics introduced. Overall I think the core system is a great balance of taking everything that was good in the various older editions to make a fresh system. I love that 5E is somewhat vague at times and put the power back into the hands of the DM. 3.x had every rule so quantified that players could exploit that.

Worst: Any DM screen released for 5E. Ive never even used one during a game, thats how useless Ive found them. XGtE is a close second for me. Reading and skimming it, besides translating the material to 5E mechanics most of it Ive seen printed in one form or another over the various previous editions of the game.
 

Ringtail

World Traveller
Gonna seperate this between Rulebooks and adventures.

Best Book, IMO: It's a huge toss-up between Volo's Guide to Monsters and Xanathar's Guide to Everything.
Both books delibered exactly what I wanted, new races, new classes, new monsters and new rules. I like almost everything about those two books. Xanathar's is probably most used on the Player side while Volo's gets tons of use on the DM side from all the monsters.

Worst Book, IMO: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.
I don't particularly care for the monsters in this book, they didn't grab my attention the way Volo's did. The exception being the new kinds of trolls and ogres. I also don't care much for the lore. I'm a newcomer to D&D really, didn't start "seriously" until 5e's launch and so I'm not familiar with a lot of the controversial lore changes (beside new raven queen sucks apparently) but even so I didn't find any of the stuff presented interesting, gripping, or ultimately useful. Player options were sparse but I like the Eladrin. Overall this book gets the least use and I probably wouldn't miss it if I didn't have it.

Best Adventure, IMO: Curse of Strahd.
Oh, I almost said LMoP, but Curse of Strahd is too delicious not to go with. A perfect little micro-setting you could adventure in for awhile. Oozing charm and atmosphere and a great overall villain. Plus a bit of sandbox feel and enough minor adventures to get you to 9 or 10, Curse of Strahd was probably WoTC's masterpiece for 5e. Because of its flavor its not everyone's cup of tea but it was a good one.
A close runner up is Ghosts of Saltmarsh. first time I got excited for a D&D book while reading it in awhile. The collection of adventurers are nice, straightforward affairs and the new rules are great. But what excited me the most was the micro gazetteer of Saltmarsh. With so many Power Groups, manipulators and Key NPCs, I felt like that town was a hotbed of Intrigue, perfect for extra adventures and a really exciting first look at Greyhawk for someone who's never played in it.

Worst Adventure, IMO: Dragon Heist
I didn't run this, I played in it, but I found myself struggling with adventure motivation and keeping track of all the plot threads and NPCs, it ultimately just didn't seem to tie together that well and a lot of the things expected of us were random or really tough. I thought this may have just been our DM but I've seen other complaints elsewhere and I figure this could just be the adventure. It's the only adventure I'll say wasn't overwhelming positively from me. My group left HotDQ, PotA, ToA and STK even with their issues but I found Dragon Heist lacking. In general I don't think most WoTC adventures are well written to begin with.
 

R_J_K75

Explorer
In general I don't think most WoTC adventures are well written to begin with
Maybe too over reaching? Guess it depends on the players and DM. Im not a fan of the mega adventure format model. Theyre just too big for me to read and digest enough to run based on our game schedule. One thing that really annoys me about their adventures and Im sure theyve been doing this since sometime in 3E is that I wish theyd put monster/npc stat blocks in the adventure and on the page it needs to be on.
 

Ash Mantle

Adventurer
One thing that really annoys me about their adventures and Im sure theyve been doing this since sometime in 3E is that I wish theyd put monster/npc stat blocks in the adventure and on the page it needs to be on.
They sometimes do put condensed statblocks on the pages these creatures need to be on.
But you'll likely be pleased full statblocks appear throughout Descent into Avernus, and not just in the bestiary at the end.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
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.
I'm running Lost Mine a second time right now. It IS one of the best D&D adventures. Ever. It's easily in the Top 10 best. I actually am enjoying it more the second go around, I can foreshadow events much easier and have deeper understanding of NPCs and how they tie into the plot.

I never ran Dragon Queen, although I've heard the same thing from many people, it's a railroad.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
Worst: PotA is so utterly boring we couldn't finish it.
Boring? I had a blast running that adventure. Players loved it too. But I also knew when to change things up, so I didn't run it 100% per the book. By the last session, one of my players was using the statblock of IMIX, and he got into a fight to the death with the Water god. Epic finale.
 

Xenonnonex

Explorer
I'm running Lost Mine a second time right now. It IS one of the best D&D adventures. Ever. It's easily in the Top 10 best. I actually am enjoying it more the second go around, I can foreshadow events much easier and have deeper understanding of NPCs and how they tie into the plot.

I never ran Dragon Queen, although I've heard the same thing from many people, it's a railroad.
Have you had a chance to read and or run Dragon of Icespire Peak?
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
They sometimes do put condensed statblocks on the pages these creatures need to be on.
But you'll likely be pleased full statblocks appear throughout Descent into Avernus, and not just in the bestiary at the end.
Do you know if Avernus will have the black and white maps they've been using since DH?
 

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