Nerdarchy’s Out of the Box Encounters Review

Certainly my most disappointing purchase to date.

In my case, I just got the hardcover (and just the hardcover) as a late “Local Hero” backer. So for me that was $40 USD + $18 USD in shipping (since I’m in Canada). Which is lot to pay for a very underwhelming product.

But the layout and presentation of the book is so underwhelming for a product of its cost (it costs $50 USD + shipping normally). 

For instance,

  • The book has encounters organized by the title of the encounter and not by difficulty or environment.
  • Which could be fine. Except it also lacks any chart that breaks encounters down by difficulty or environment
    • After searching their site I did find that they released this, but no kickstarter updates or emails ever mentioned it. I suspect a lot of purchasers might not be aware of it. It also should have been in the product from the start.
  • And that also lacks any short summary at the start of encounters that succinctly summarizes what they are about. So you have no way of just quickly breezing through the book and just finding what you want to run.
    • Instead, they sometimes spend a page (in the “introduction” to the encounter) jabbering and giving very general advice for running encounters. When this is clearly just to clearly fill out the page with text. 
  • There are almost no bullet points to be found in the book and no use of text boxes for dialogue or for describing areas. The only thing they do for dialogue is to italicize the text. Imagine staring at what are sometimes 4 page long encounters of size 12 Times New Roman font, with the only form of formatting often just being paragraphs. Remember, this is something you are just supposed to be able to pick up and run easily.
    • The use of Times New Roman font also just makes the text of the book look really dull. The fact that it is size 12 (when WotC uses size 9 Bookmania) also just means everything is spread out more.
  • It also often feels like the encounters are filled with text just to pad out the book. Which comes at the expense of actually providing battle maps in the book that are at least a reasonable enough size that you might have some use for them. Because there are a bunch of battlemaps that are scrunched into ¼ of a page or less. Presumably so you pay extra to buy their map pack.  
  • Finally, the statblocks in the book are just bad. They are not pleasing to look at, they are ridiculously spread out, and a consequence of this is that even basic statblocks sometimes go over multiple pages. Which is really annoying when you just want to run a basic CR ¼ creature and you have to flip back and forth between pages to use it.

I guess I just figured that a company that raised $256,000 on Kickstarter could afford to make sure that it provided clear and concise encounters. Especially when the hardcover costs $50 USD + shipping and even the PDF is $25.

Instead the text often just goes on and on and on (sort of like this rant). But not in a way that makes running the encounters any easier.  

It’s a product that I completely regret purchasing. The only redeeming aspect of the book is its art (which is phenomenal). But it’s not worth it for the art.

%d bloggers like this: