Review of Players Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos

This review was written by Rachel - games reviewer at Casino.org.

A first look at this chunky book, with its sleek hardcover and strong binding are just what we have come to expect from Wizards of the Coast. It has that high quality feel that somewhat justifies parting with our hard-earned money – all $29.95 of it to be exact.

But can we judge this book by its cover? Do the contents measure up? It promises us Elemental Chaos, but will we just get a breath of wind and spatter of rain instead?

Opening the cover, the layout is nice and crisp. It’s easy to read, with good, original artwork. So far so good.



Players Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos
  • Designer: Richard Baker
  • Illustrator: Robert J Schwalb
  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
  • Year: 2012
  • Media: Hardcover
  • Price: $29.95 (though its available at various prices in different online stores)
Players Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos has 160 pages that offer new information on setting, themes, classes and options to add a little elemental zing to your characters. Everything is elemental themed and there is also a detailed explanation of the Primordials and their connection to elemental magic.

Production Quality

Great artwork, solid quality and a nice sharp layout are things we’ve come to expect from Wizards of the Coast. And Players Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos does not disappoint in that respect.


The table of contents is well laid out and the material is well divided amongst the four chapters, with nice easy-to-read fonts and Elemental Viewpoint sidebars to make for easier reading. The fact that there are no maps here is a little disappointing.

Players Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos

The first chapter of this book provides you with a wealth of background material. Being penned by New York Times bestselling author Richard Baker, you would expect some great stories and adventure ideas here – and Players Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos does not disappoint.

There is a description of elemental magic and descriptions of location in the Chaos. We get to examine the elemental-touched races and a brief discussion on how the elements might affect non-standard races. There is also a detailed discussion on the Primordials, as well as a really handy table that lists all 74 known Primordials from a variety of campaign settings, such as Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun, for easy reference.

The second chapter turns to character themes. Of all the chapters in the book, we felt this was the one that really stood out. There are 10 themes here that tie into the elements and allow you to add a really special flavor to your characters. Become an Elemental Initiate, struggle against being Demon Spawn, or find yourself serving genies with the Janissary theme. All of them add great dimension to your character and are very well written and conceptualized.

Classes come next and here Players Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos adds some new options to existing classes. It would have been nice to see a unique class or two here. Understandably, the magic wielders get the lion’s share of the attention. What is disconcerting is that the classes presented here require you to reference other books. It would have been nice to have seen some self contained items that didn’t require you to own a reference library of 4th edition books simply to use.

Finally, we reach the “Elemental Options” chapter. This chapter is rather like a bag of holding for everything that wouldn’t fit in the previous three. Paragon paths rub shoulders with magic items, and feats have also been invited to the party. You can try out the Born of the Elements feat, don some Demonskin Armour, or even take on the Prince of Genies paragon path – and they are all as interesting as they sound.

The options contained in this chapter can apply to a wealth of settings and will be useful for anyone that wants to add a dash of elemental spice to their current game.

Overall Score: 3.75 out of 5.0 Conclusions At $29.95 there are a lot cheaper source books out there. I’ve easily spent (and lost) more than that playing two hands of cards at poker sites.com so it’s funny that I would nitpick here about an extra 30 dollars. Players Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos is not a bad book by any standard, but we would have liked to see a little more crunch to its content, but it’s still a good bet, so I would gamble on this purchase.

For those players who the idea of adding an elemental twist to their campaign, this is a must-have. Also, purists who like to own every book in the series will find this a welcome addition. For the rest of us mere gaming mortals, there are probably books higher up on our shopping lists.



Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)
  • Presentation: 3.75
    • Design: 4.0 (Excellently written and beautifully presented.)
    • Illustrations: 3.5 (Some nice illustrations that match and enhance the theme. No maps.)
  • Content: 3.75
    • Crunch: 3.5 (There is good material here, but classes are incomplete and there could have been more unique material)
    • Fluff: 4.0 (The story and backdrop are very well written)
  • Value: 3.75 (There is material here, but it’s just not a must-have book)
 
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

I think the book would have jumped a whole point in my estimation if they'd just given the elementalist appropriate 'bending' powers, a la Avatar: The Last Airbender. Make them cantrips or something, but let earth sorcerers extrude rocks from the ground, water sorcerers create shields of water, and so on. Flavor is important, and while a lot of the recent "Heroes of" books had great flavor, the class options in this one weren't as tasty.
 

Dice4Hire

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Both reported
 

AeroDm

Visitor
Both reported
Yeah, what's the deal here? Is this a new variant on article marketing where you power write an article and embed in it links to a site that pays you? And then a bot follows up to make sure it is top of page? I guess my question is, can anyone who is familiar with the book confirm the accuracy of the review?
 

talien

Community Supporter
Overall Score: 3.75 out of 5.0 Conclusions At $29.95 there are a lot cheaper source books out there. I’ve easily spent (and lost) more than that playing two hands of cards at SITE REDACTED so it’s funny that I would nitpick here about an extra 30 dollars.
I don't understand. The cheaper source books are 5 cents? How do you "nitpick" about the entire price of the book? And simply claiming "I've spent (and lost) more than that play two hands of cards" is hardly a nitpick. The pricing is comparable to other hardcover source books.

So this is what Internet product placement looks like.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
It's an experiment. They offered to write a review in exchange for a link; I figured I'd try one and see what people though of the review. Just a different way of paying for content; the question is: is it any good?
 

Harlekin

Visitor
The review is not terrible. However, I strongly dislike this model, at least if the link leads to a gambling site. I feel we as a community (or as a race) want as little to do with online gambling as possible.
 

Jhaelen

Visitor
What is disconcerting is that the classes presented here require you to reference other books. It would have been nice to have seen some self contained items that didn’t require you to own a reference library of 4th edition books simply to use.
I definitely disagree with this. _Not_ repeating rules contained in the 'core books' is a good thing. It's also clearly mentioned on the book's back that it's meant to be used to supplement other books.

All in all the review is a bit superficial, which is probably okay for a casual D&D player. For someone like myself who owns almost every 4e book released so far, the review isn't that useful. E.g. while the first 35 pages of fluff are nice, a lot of it is basically summarizing material from 'Manual of the Planes' and 'The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos'.

For me it is also a very important detail how much of the content is usable with the original 'core books' and how much is meant to be used with the Essentials books. Luckily that information was already made available in WotC's previews.

I also felt the cover to be a bit misleading. Despite being called 'Players' Option' I somewhat exprected to see a stat block for Cryonax and maybe a bunch of other elemental beings :(
 

Windjammer

Adventurer
It's an experiment. They offered to write a review in exchange for a link; I figured I'd try one and see what people though of the review. Just a different way of paying for content; the question is: is it any good?
Unfortunately, it's hard to see what is good in the review.

The author doesn't once display familiarity with the game she's reviewing content for. There's no actual assessment of the product, just a run-down of the TOC which I could do without having read the product and without knowing anything about 4e. The end result is a review that sits uneasily on a website that once housed the strongest and most thorough RPG reviews in the d20 heyday. Enworld has strong review standards, and guest reviewers should be aware of these and respect them.

This post was sponsored by http://www.getrippedoff.com/ Try us to today! You won't regret!
 

abel_marko

Visitor
Review Quality: extremely low

Having read the review, I'm having a little trouble deciding whether it was written by a computer program or a person who never read the book.

The fact that the actual material referenced all comes from the book excerpts published by Wizards suggests that it's the former - a computer program would have done a better job of incorporating details from those excerpts.

Terrible.
 

Alphastream

Adventurer
I'm not a fan of having casino sites write a review with a link to their own product.

There are plenty of sites reviewing 4E material in far superior fashion. While I think many liked Heroes of the Feywild better, this book is easily amongst the better player options books for 4E, has content that is really useful for DMs, and is very useful for all kinds of campaigns. A review should really at least touch upon some of the really innovative aspects of the book. Elemental Companions? Themes as altering your nature? Themes and class aspects with a dark edge of being controlled by elemental powers?

How about the return of some classics like the Sha'ir? Elemental familiars? This review was as enjoyable as a gambling addiction. Don't gamble, EN World... the casino is the only one that ends up winning.
 

Dice4Hire

Visitor
I would have to recommend not having this site do this again. I got the book a few days ago, and a lot of stuff was not covered.
 

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