Stranger Things and Dungeons & Dragons, working together like chocolate and peanut butter. The Stranger Things themed starter set was bound to appear at some point, and now it’s here for us to enjoy. So how does it hold up to its promise? Let’s take a look at what this set has to offer. Then we can see how well it holds up. I’ll be reviewing this set based on two merits: how well it works as a standalone D&D product, and how well it pulls off the Stranger Things novelty. So let’s jump in!
The first thing you’ll notice when you open the set is the pair of mini demogorgons. There is one painted and one unpainted. The painted one is alright. It won’t wow your players, but it gets the job done. The molds are excellent, with lots of detail that I can’t wait to paint. Slap this guy on the table, and any fan of the show will recognize it. The unpainted figure serves as a nice bonus for people who are already into painting, and an invitation for newer players to take up that part of the hobby.
The next thing you’ll notice upon opening the box is the set of 6 dice. There’s no percentile dice to be seen, which may annoy some of you completionists out there. The dice that are there are basic, but nice. Nothing about them fits the Stranger Things aesthetic, but they obviously work for the game. I would’ve liked to see a color that fits the style of the set, but nobody’s going to get this set for the dice.
Now we get into the real meat of the set. The first book is the basic ruleset. It holds everything a new player will need to understand the game at its base level. This book does have a few new monster stat blocks that you won’t find anywhere else, so that’s a nice perk for veterans. The book also frames the game through the eyes of the Stranger Things kids, helping newer players understand what the game is about.
The last piece in this set is likely the reason most will get the set: the adventure. Avoiding spoilers, this adventure seems to tick off all the boxes. It’s easy to pick up, taking me about 30 minutes to read through. With prep time factored in, you could expect to play the game about an hour after opening it. The adventure is a neat little dungeon crawl, utilizing all three pillars of the game very well. For the Stranger Things fans, there are a few events that will get them excited.
There are a couple of parts to the adventure that don’t sit well with me personally, just because one feels like a railroad and the other is a puzzle which always causes a weird dissonance between character and player knowledge. Of course, these issues will more likely affect experienced players more, and they should have the knowledge to remedy these problems. On the positive side, the adventure did have a section that I absolutely adore, with a mechanic I’ll definitely be using in a future game. The best part of this book? The whole thing is written from the perspective of Mike Wheeler, the dungeon master of the Stranger Things party. He even leaves some helpful notes for whoever runs this adventure, a helpful bit that I haven’t seen in other adventures. Overall it is a great adventure that any player, old or new, will enjoy.
So how does this set hold up to its promise? Well from a novelty standpoint, it’s absolutely fantastic. The presentation is more than I could’ve hoped for, from the pre-worn packaging to Mike’s story writing. The only possible missed opportunity was the color of the dice, but that’s not really an issue. Overall novelty score: 9/10. And how does it perform as a D&D product? Well, the minis are nice, the rules give you all that you need, and the story is engaging for a play session. There were a couple of missteps in the design, but none that can’t be repaired or ignored. Overall product score: 8/10. My recommendation on this product is to absolutely get it if you’re a fan of the show looking to get into D&D. If you’re not into the show but want to try D&D, then go for the cheaper original starter set. If you’re a veteran looking for a new adventure you can’t go wrong here, but I wouldn’t pick it up just for the minis. Overall it is a fantastic adventure that players and fans will adore. And while you embark on your strange adventure, be sure to keep those dice rolling high!