21 June 2012

Why do I prefer Moldvay’s D&D Basic Set?

@DownToDM:
Just curious: What is everyone's favorite version of Basic D&D? #dnd #basic

@guitar_geek:
@DownToDM Moldvay’s Basic is my favorite

@DownToDM:
@guitar_geek Out of curiosity, why is that? I personally can't decide, so I'm just seeing what other people think.

There’s no way I was going to fit the answer in 140 characters...

I find the second D&D Basic Set (Moldvay’s) easier to understand than the first (Holmes’). Also, Holmes seems to stray farther from the original game while Moldvay seems to move back closer to it.

Really, though, these are trade-offs. These differences are part of what makes Holmes’ Basic Set special. It’s just that my preferences here fall in the direction of Moldvay’s set.

The third D&D Basic Set (Mentzer’s) makes an effort to go even farther and explain the game to anyone. From what I’ve heard, it largely succeeded. I simply have a hard time believing that anyone who is going to enjoy the game needs more than Moldvay’s set to understand the game.

I also like the scope and level of detail of Moldvay’s Basic with Cook & Marsh’s Expert Set. It feels just about right to me for a base to build off of. Also, I’m not a fan of how later printings of Mentzer’s Expert Set slowed progressions (like thief skills) down.

Of course, I can be accused of bias because Moldvay’s set was my introduction to the game. (Well, I’d seen a first edition AD&D Players Handbook, but I couldn’t figure the game out from it.) And, of course, all of this is really splitting hairs. And no matter what version of the game I’m playing, I like to have the others around as resources to draw upon.

Once I started playing Basic/Expert D&D again (c. 2006), I’ve found, however, that the Basic/Expert split is a pain in play. (And cutting the books up and combining them as suggested doesn’t really make it any better.) So, I have my complaints with it. Indeed, in the campaign we started last Saturday, I’m experimenting with a number of modifications.

5 comments:

Brendan said...

Moldvay-Cook/Marsh is probably my favorite too, though recently OD&D has been giving it a run for its money.

You also didn't mention the fantastic B/X art, something that I feel the Mentzer edit lacks.

I'm curious what modifications you are trying out.

Robert Fisher said...

Yes, I do love the B/X art! Willingham, Otus, Dee, Diesel, et al.

I’ll do a post on the variant rules I’m using.

Nick Gauthier said...

I'm also a fan of Moldvay over Mentzer, for the same reasons, especially the art.

Hugues fardao said...

My name is Hugues Fardao, I'm french, I'm 41. I must say : Moldvay/Cook edition is the best D&D ever, no question.

I started with D&D when I was teen in 1983, then I had my AD&D2 times in the '90s in University, but I recently bough a complete D&D Basic Set and I must admit it's the best. Love it. It's not nostalgia that brings me back to that Classic edition, not at all. ! I played other RPG, and good ones, but none of them feels like Moldvay's D&D.

It was translated in the early 80's in France, and followed by the Mentzer edition - I just picked up the Cook Expert Set, PDF, on the Net by the way. I did'nt like Mentzer, good but different from Moldvay's with some little things I don't like, it's not the same universe to me.

In France we had a Moldvay's Basic Set with "modern" illustrations by Easley and Elmore, wich i like, I'm not an Otus fan and in the '80s Elmore was, in my opinion, the one who gave us images of what D&D looks like "in real", espacially with the Mentzer edition wich is far much known in my country.

I have written a few words about the Moldvay's Basic Set and how fun and clear and playable it is in french forums. I'm a fan, and always be. Archetypes as classes are fine because it lets the player imagine the story behind hi/her character, the Spellbook of each Magic user could be unique, race=class is simple and efficient, few minutes to create a character and start to play, etc, etc... and if I tell you that my 7 y.o. daughter plays with us, you can imagine how simple and fun the game is ! (or maybe she is a genius... ahem...).

Hugues.

Robert Fisher said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Hugues!