NewbieDM Review: D&D Essentials Kit

Posted on June 23, 2019 by


I was lucky enough to snag a copy of the new D&D Essentials Kit at Target a few days before release date, and I unboxed and reviewed it on twitter.


If you’re wondering how this compares with the other 5e box, the D&D Starter Set, my opinion would be that this is definitely the better of the two. The adventure included, Dragon of Icespire Peak, is a sandbox, quest driven adventure that puts the heroes against a dragon, and it seems easier to run for newish DMs than Lost Mines of Phandelver, from the Starter Set.

The box includes everything needed to play: a set of dice, rules for character creation, initiative cards, treasure cards, quest cards, maps, and a gorgeous DM screen with what is in my opinion the best 5e art I have seen yet. The screen itself is made of flimsy material, but this product overall is rock solid.


The much talked about 1-on-1 rules for a single player and DM campaigns are rather light, the sidekick character is basically a tag along NPC with a monster stat block that can take actions and provide support. Not very deep.


I noticed a few things: No mention of the much lauded Forgotten Realms factions (Harpers, Zhentarim, etc) that were so important when 5e launched, no mention of Adventurer’s League anywhere on the box, and no mention of tactical gridded combat at all, not even as an option.

But rather than re-write everything I wrote on twitter, here’s a link to the thread itself via the thread reader website. Go check it out. 

My recommendation: Get it. Great box.


If you’d like to support the work I do on my blog, podcasting, or twitter, perhaps you’d consider supporting me on Patreon. I’m only asking for $1, and I’m doing it for a good cause, so go ahead and visit for more details.

You can also support my work by visiting for your next rpg related purchase. All links to Amazon in this article are linked to my Amazon Associates account.

If you’d like, also check out the following products:

Ghosts of Saltmarsh

D&D: Tomb of Annihilation

D&D Tomb of Annihilation Dice

Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated

Tales from the Yawning Portal


Posted in: 5e D&D, DM Tools, Gaming