The Essentials Kit isn’t perfect. Two flaws in particular raise concerns, especially for dedicated gamers looking to round out their collections.
When you lower a price, quality suffers. Them’s the rules in capitalism. It’s great that the Essentials Kit includes item cards and a DM screen. Those are a fun part of the game and a great way to get new players excited. It’s less great that the cards and screen are flimsy and imperfectly printed. To be clear, the Essentials Kit swag is still 100 percent usable. It’s just a bit lower quality than we’re used to seeing from Wizards of the Coast.
“Dragon of Icespire Peak” is… fine. It’s fine. There are dungeons, there are dragons. Buckles are swashed. Foes are vanquished. XP is hard.
Alas, that’s about all there is to it. The story is forgettable. The characters are more than forgettable: as of this moment I cannot recall a single one of their names. It’s a dull way to start an exciting hobby, and it’s certainly not something committed players should splash out for in hopes of a thrilling standalone module.
However, there is one redeemable factor. Icespire Peak provides a bit more opportunity to customize your adventures than in the Starter Set’s standalone adventure, Lost Mine of Phandelver. It also provides non-linear adventuring by providing quick, achievable quests for time- or attention span-limited players. That’s a meaningful plus: one of the downsides of Phandelver was that it demanded more time commitment than was necessarily achievable, especially for young players.
That said, the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure is far better in my opinion. There’s more story, more depth and more replayability.
The “Dragon of Icespire Peak” adventure included has a number of bite-sized quests