Review Roundup: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything

Now that Tasha's Cauldron of Everything has been out a bit, we wanted to take a look at the overall reactions to D&D's latest compilation of rule options, subclasses, DM advice, etc. So let's see how other sites rank the new book in comparison to our review.

tashacauldronofeverything.jpg

Please note that when a site did not provide a letter grade, we estimated the score using our best judgement.

Bell of Souls points out that character creation in the Player's Handbook leans into archetypal combinations of class and race so if you want to play something outside of that, “it’s kind of shooting myself in the foot.” BoS views TCoE as addressing what's been learned over the last six years in regard to what the community wants – players want character customization, DMs are favoring story-driven adventures over classic dungeon crawls, high-level play is less popular, and everybody wants tools for tweaking their options. It also views TCoE as updating game expectations by consciously incorporating options that are common today, like session zero, so they're fully a part of the D&D experience. BoS also likes changes to summoning spells because it standardizes and simplifies them and doesn't require arguments or 10 books. BoS's biggest complaint is that the rules are all optional. Since the new content makes the game better in their opinion and brings a modern sensibility to correct some old wrongs, labeling it all “optional” feels like a half measure. So an overall positive review of TCoE that criticizes it for playing things too safe with the “optional” label. Average Rating: B+

Much like Bell of Souls, the Daily Kos review is disappointed that TCoE doesn't go farther in addressing long-standing racism, colonialism, or bias in D&D. They like the character options, but not as much as they enjoyed Xanathar's Guide to Everything, and felt that the new rules for customizing racial ability modifiers was a bit anemic, comparing the latter to a four-piece chicken nuggets instead of a more “meaty” option. Overall, the Daily Kos gave it a B-.

Geek to Geek liked XGtE but repeatedly cites TCoE as being superior, saying that the former's downtime rules and such don't hold a candle to latter's material on group patrons or expanded sidekick options, just to name a few. It also praises TCoE for being more cohesive despite presenting a variety topics. I hadn't considered that in my review, but it's an excellent point – the theme of the book ties its content together better. They also geek out over the subclass options, comparing the Psi Warrior to Jedi. Like the other reviews, Geek to Geek likes the option for customizing racial ability scores and pushes back against “ridiculous internet trolls” who claim it's for an agenda. Instead, they argue that it gives players the freedom to create exactly the type of character they want without needing a homebrew option and with more standing if they have a “ruleswhip” DM. GtG's overall assessment is very positive, describing TCoE as expanding 5E overall whereas they felt that XGtE simply expanded the PHB. GtG ranks it as a 5 out of 5, or A+.

Geek Dad doesn't make you wait to find out what they think, calling it “an unexpected delight for players and DMs alike” upfront. Within the overall review it contains links to more specific breakdowns and reviews by class, which is a nice touch. Geek Dad similarly sections off with a spoiler shield the portion of the review that focuses on DM tools tso players don't read what they shouldn't. Geek Dad does warn DMs to talk to players before incorporating the magical prostheitcs because people can have differing views about using such things. Otherwise, Geek Dad labels TCoE as chock full of well-executed options for players and DMs. Average Rating: A+

The Inverse review, like the others, praises for TCoE the new customization options, yet it also spends time talking about the inherent rigidity of D&D and how fans of the older editions might dislike the flexibility. Mentioning that is reasonable, but it's odd that more time isn't spent on other parts of the book, like the group patrons or sidekicks. Overall though, Inverse labels the possible player options “awesome to imagine.” Average Rating: B

The review by A Pawn's Perspective is overall positive, with a few quibbles, such as the price. Otherwise, it praises TCoE as possibly surpassing XGtE in terms of content's quality. Subclasses, spells, and artifacts are considered exciting. In the end, APP's main complaints about TCoE are the aforementioned price complaint and the fact that the alternative cover doesn't match the others on a shelf. As such APP gives TCoE a four out of five stars rating. Average Rating: B+

Polygon has much more of a mixed view of TCoE, praising parts of it while also deeming other parts too thin. They like the subclass optiions, while also saying that some of them feel like D&D versions of Marvel characters. The DM's section is named the best part of the book, with special praise given to the part about setting clear expectations for the type of game the DM runs and how that defines what is good behavior. Polygon calls that the best such description they've seen and recommending that it be added to future printings of the PHB and Dungeon Master's Guide. The section on customizing racial abilities and addressing prior racial biases in the game is viewed as a failure in the Polygon review, but not because it's unnecessary. On the contrary, they feel that the options don't go far enough or do enough to address the issue. While they do agree that customizing one's game or character to do what feels right, the actual execution is considered weak and not achieving the goal of moving the game in a progressive direction. In the end Polygon considers to be a “great resource” but thinner than prior supplements. Average Rating: B-

Strange Assembly considers TCoE to be more a book for players, ranking the subclasses very well but less interested in the rest. However, since they believe most people will buy the book for the class options, that ranks the book well for SA. Unlike Polygon, SA feels that the social contract/session zero information has been included too many times so while they like it, it's not considered much of a plus. SA doesn't hate any of the other content. They just don't consider it exciting or outstanding. While SA thinks the subclasses are the strongest part of TCoE they especially like the options for artificers, barbarians, clerics, rangers, and warlocks, saying it's especially good and necessary for the ranger. Average Rating: B

While not every review gives a clearly quantifiable rating, the reviews are overall positive, with most of them in the range of an A or B grade (4 to 5 stars, if you prefer that scale). That averages to a B+ grade, making it a recommended supplement for D&D 5E.
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

dave2008

Legend
I really wanted to like this book. I have looked through it several times and just can't bring myself to purchase it.
I like the book, but I am basically in a similar boat. At this point we have made homebrew rules that make 5e the game we want to play and don't really need more. Also, we already allowed the UA class variants and feats, so this just doesn't offer a lot for us.
 

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DND_Reborn

Legend
Expect a new edition in the next two years.
I'll be waiting. :)

There's very little in Tasha's I like or will ever consider using. Most of the stuff I do like (or at least agree with) are things that many tables already had as house-rules. Personally, I found the over all content very disappointing and felt like WotC really could have done something better. shrug

One of the players in our group bought it on D&D Beyond so I was able to look through it, but I won't be buying it.
 

BoS's biggest complaint is that the rules are all optional. Since the new content makes the game better in their opinion and brings a modern sensibility to correct some old wrongs, labeling it all “optional” feels like a half measure. So an overall positive review of TCoE that criticizes it for playing things too safe with the “optional” label.

How would WotC would go about making new rules presented in an optional sourcebook required...?
 
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DeviousQuail

Adventurer
I think Tasha's is fine, if a bit short in some areas. It covers a lot of ground that I'm more than capable of handling without an offical book. However, most of my dnd buddies started with 5e. This is their first time with extended rules for sidekicks, magical environments, and puzzles. For them it is a clear must have (or borrow) while I see it as a decent addition.
 

I'll be waiting. :)

There's very little in Tasha's I like or will ever consider using. Most of the stuff I do like (or at least agree with) are things that many tables already had as house-rules. Personally, I found the over all content very disappointing and felt like WotC really could have done something better. shrug

One of the players in our group bought it on D&D Beyond so I was able to look through it, but I won't be buying it.
You sure you would like a 6e better?! If it’s deeper in the direction they have taken, it will be more super ninjas with psionics and less Conan with bloody weapons!
 

Stormonu

Legend
Interesting, most people seem to disagree with you. It is also interesting that you would mention it as "bottom-of-the-barrel" when there has been so little additional content for 5e that some think it has barely scratched the surface!

Not likely given how much could still be added to the game and how well it is still selling (probably the more important point), but you never know. Of course maybe you're being sarcastic.
Some sarcastic, I'm not hoping for a 6E any time soon. However, from previous edition experience when you start to see content repackaged (Artificer, Ranger), it's been my experience that a new edition isn't too far off. Likewise, the origin customization and alternate features remind me of the 2nd round of Completes from 3.5E, which were in turn previews of material in development for the then-upcoming 4E. Tasha's just strikes me as typical fare you start to see before designers abandon an old edition and are "wrapping things up" before moving on to a new version.

I hope I'm incorrect in this assessment, and at worst we'll see a PHB revision that incorporates the three books (PHB, Xanadar's, Tasha's) into one volume (as maybe a 5.5 edition), but I've been down this road before and usefulness of the new material in this book is pretty low - which I've usually meant to see indicative of a new version coming.
 


dave2008

Legend
I hope I'm incorrect in this assessment, and at worst we'll see a PHB revision that incorporates the three books (PHB, Xanadar's, Tasha's) into one volume (as maybe a 5.5 edition), but I've been down this road before and usefulness of the new material in this book is pretty low - which I've usually meant to see indicative of a new version coming.
Given the popularity of the book I am guess a lot more people are find this book useful, despite the fact you or I don't find it incredible useful. And for me, I actually do find the book to be quite useful, I was just already using the free UA content that this book derived from.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Tasha's does seem to suggest an approaching edition update, though I'm expecting the new edition will be largely backward compatible. Wizards has made it quite clear that they have no desire for another "nuke everything and start over" edition change.

If so, the content of Tasha's should be taken as a signal of the direction they're heading with 6E, in much the same way that Essentials signaled the direction of 5E and the Book of Nine Swords signaled 4E.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
2e as an edition ran for 11 years, was a well thought out buisness decision to try and make a more user friendly version of the game that was still compatible with 1e, and produced some of the fan favorite content that players still ask for.

How was it largely a failure?
I would also pushback on the idea that 2E was "largely a failure". Different times, different publishing strategies. 2E was very successful for a time.

However, in the end, it became bloated and the many competing product lines (campaign settings) were competing against each other, which wasn't good for TSR's bottom line. But that wasn't what 2E was in it's younger years, it grew into a bloated mess in it's old age. By the time 3E came around, it was well past time to put 2E out to pasture.

But still, with multiple product releases per month . . . ah, those were glorious days, the end of the Roman Empire of gaming . . . .
 


The power gamers in my group loved the book as it’s all about free stuff for characters
Myself and others were against it due to the power creep and it being the first book that really messes with what you get in the PHB. Previously, I was quite happy that other than less options, you could use the PHB or the Basic PDF and not feel that you were missing out on rules
I don’t expect a 6th edition but probably a PHB with more errata
I‘m not a big fan of these unfocused, bit of everything supplements for 5e and wouldn’t be surprised if at some point they go out of print and are compiled into new books about a single topic, e.g. a class etc
 

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
lots of recycled content,
What recycled content? I mean, if you're referring to UAs: the whole point of UAs is to test the waters prior to publishing an official version. That's not recycled: that's the system working as intended! If you're referring to something else, possibly the Patrons section: I think taking a system from a specific setting and forming generic version for people who aren't interested in that setting is totally valid.
 


jerryrice4949

Adventurer
I was disappointed. Hoped there would be a lot more customization options. The book felt incomplete or like a shell of a book. Sometimes less is more but this book felt like a bunch of random ideas, half done and shoved together.
 

Scribe

Hero
I don't see the Tasha's treatment of races as necessary. My views on races in gaming have always been other than Humans (skin color or otherwise), NO race presented has anything to do with the real world views. But, that's me and by no means indicative of anyone else. So take my view with a grain of salt.

This is where I'm at. I see it called out in these reviews but it reminds me of the article I read that called Lord of the Rings both Racist and Fascist...I just cant get behind that.

Its Fantasy. If people wish to get bent out of shape over a perpetual war between Orcs and Elves...thats on them.
 

Expect a new edition in the next two years.
There's almost zero chance that we'll see an actual new edition of the game within that time frame. Quite frankly, I'd be surprised if we saw one within double that amount of time. While I'm curious to see whether the controversies that surrounded Dungeons & Dragons and Wizards this past year have any notable impact on the business, going by the previous several years being the most successful the game has ever experienced, I don't see any scenario where they decide that it's time to pack things up and move on to new pastures. The game is still uber popular and selling like hotcakes. Why would they table that?
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I would love to see an anniversary update that combines the PHB & DMG with XGtE & TCoE.
I would only if it was a high-quality, beautiful book, and thoughtfully laid out and cross referenced.

I don't really NEED a combined book because I look up rules in D&D Beyond more than anything else and I don't see combined digital book adding much convenience. So it has to offer more than convenience.

Also, even with good lighting, I can't comfortably read gaming books without reading glasses. Reading on my Kindle or iPhone are just more pleasant and comfortable for reading a lot of test.

Only things that go on my gaming shelves these days are nice, pretty, hard-cover tomes I can can enjoy paging through siting in front of my wood stove, sipping on my daily two fingers of scotch.
 

I have to agree with others who say that the direction and feel of Tasha's just doesn't "feel" like the traditions of D&D. I admit I am grognard, and I love 2E (it is my favorite), Tasha's just seems a hodge podge of rules that try to take the game into some different realm/look/feel. Nothing wrong with that, but by definition Dungeons and Dragons evokes a Euro-centric/western fantasy. I think the art direction and overall feel would have been better served in a different 5e rules based campaign (Planescape/Steampunk etc.)
 

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