Heroes of the Elemental Who Cares?

You Have Become Jaded, Continue? Y/N

[info_box]Update: This article is an editorial, not a review. I previously stated I wouldn’t be doing anymore 4e reviews – while at the time it seemed like a great idea in my agitated state I’ve decided against it. 4e D&D, regardless of whether or not it’s my current game of choice, has provided me with some of the best gaming years of my career and my renewed interest in tabletop RPG’s. I owe it to the game, myself, and all of my readers to continue giving thorough, honest reviews on these products . My actual review of Heroes of the Elemental Chaos may or may not happen, please read on with a grain of salt (as always).[/info_box]

I’ll still be talking about D&D here non stop, and I’ll still be reviewing other D&D products like Lords of Waterdeep and other cool things coming down the pipe. However since I’m no longer actively playing 4e, I don’t want to wind up feeling like a tool writing product reviews or content for a game I no longer play.

What can I say, I’m done playing 4e mostly, and I’m definitely done designing for it. This is not some fatalistic attitude or dissent-laden stance on the game, I am merely focusing on the future. I’ve been spending a lot of my time playing another game with my group. When the time comes for me to start discussing that game, I’ll let you guys know, trust me. Anyway, right now all of my creative energy is being poured into the future of D&D, in hopes that third party content may once again hold weight in the next edition. Regardless of that outcome, I’m still looking forward to the next age of the game moreso than trying to cling onto what is left of its present.

This is a strange transitional period for me, and I hope you’ll see me through it and help me knock the cobwebs off of this blog in the meantime. I’ll be posting some system neutral stuff, reviews of cool board games that are helping me pass the time, and of course editorials, as always. Now let’s talk about Heroes of the Elemental Whateversauce.

Earth! Fire! Wind! Whatever…

Heroes of the Elemental WhoCaresWhenIsThePlaytest (nickname courtesy of SkylandGames) is a book full of standard 4e fare, not much more I can say about it. There’s a bunch of kick ass artwork, some interesting story about primordials and a lots and lots of info on earth-fire-wind-watery shenanigans, but the book lacks heart. Yeah, that was a Captain Planet joke, so what? It is also filled with page upon page of 4e powers that look like every other power out there but with a new shuffle of elemental flavor keywords.

There is nothing interesting about this:
[titled_box title=”BoreStorm * At-Will” variation=”green” textColor=”#000000″]x[W] + MOD type damage and _______ until the end of your next turn.[/titled_box] Which is basically every 4e power ever, the novelty has wore out its welcome for this guy. I’m done. I refuse to spend time pretending to care any more. If you’re still playing 4e and are running an elemental themed game or want to run one, this is probably a solid book to pick up.

Keep in mind that this “review” is directly proportional to how compelled I felt to peruse its pages. With every 4e release I’m not sure if it is my own perception, the writers who wrote these books knowing they’d launch into D&D limbo, or a combination of both among many other factors, but each one has been progressively underwhelming for me. This is not a jab at either of the writers of this book, or any recent D&D titles and their respective authors in any way either, just an attempt to be candid. I’m not invested in the lore of D&D like some are, so all of the wonderful fluff written regarding the primordials and such falls on deaf ears for me, I know this review is harsh and perhaps a bit unfair, I’m just trying to be honest and frank here.

I don’t think that Heroes of the Elemental Chaos is a bad book, and I don’t think it will turn people off like it did me, I don’t think you should pass it up if you are even still slightly invested in 4e. I’m just stating that for me, at this moment in time there are undisclosed reasons for my falling out with the game. Hopefully I can blog more about them later. That’s about all I can and will say for now, so let’s move on.

Onward, To Waterdeep!

Next week I’ll have an in-depth review of a product that actually interests me – the D&D board game Lords of Waterdeep! I cannot stop playing it or gushing about it to everyone I know, even the non-gamer friends I have love this game. It is so compelling in fact, that my gamer (yet not net-addicted) best friend has decided he wants to help write a review AND got himself a twitter account. Now that says something!

I’ll also have a post on some ideas about running a campaign full of PC’s that are near identical and how to keep things fresh. I’ll also be covering some really old modules in the near future too (since that’s what I’ve been running lately – Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh anyone?) Anyway, in my strange state of gaming limbo if you guys have any suggestions or ideas for things you’d like me to write about please let me know also. I’d love to hear what you guys would like to hear from me. See ya’ next week!


  1. It’s excellent that you are able to play the next edition of D&D. For those of us that still play and consume 4th Edition, new material – even if it’s just extra fluff – can be useful. I don’t think HotEC is a great book from the limited amount I’ve read, and I agree with you that D&D powers are interchangeable. I’ve even crunched some numbers on that topic! The Borestorm stat block is funny.

    I’m curious to see what the next edition has in store, but I’m not ready to throw dirt on 4th Edition just yet. I should give some of the D&D boardgames a try, but my groups would rather continue in our campaigns than take a break to play something else.

    • I’ve never stated that I’m able to play the next edition of D&D on my blog, presume what you will about my behind the scenes gaming habits. 😉

      Anyway, about your game – that’s totally understandable, had I the option to continue a game I would have done it too, and this review may have been a completely different thing. However my group was ready to abandon 4e long before I was, and now they are getting their wish. I know that even just some extra fluff can be useful, believe me. It’s not that I’m eager to throw dirt on 4e, I’m actually quite regretful – I’m a huge fan of the system’s capabilities, its presentation is another matter. My work with Fourthcore has taught me that 4e truly can do anything, I loathe looking at the system in the light that I do lately but it’s a feeling I can’t avoid.

      My suggestion on the board games: Definitely check out Lords of Waterdeep, and the Legend of Drizzt is by far the best of the dungeon crawly board games and Conquest of Nerath is a bit pricey for a wargame but it is really a lot more than just a RISK-clone.

      Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting!

  2. I don’t think you are being fair to the book. While it isn’t the masterpiece that Feywild was, it is a very solid book. It is far superior to many earlier 4E supplements as well.

    The book provides a great number of character builds, and while that may not be of huge interest to someone not playing 4E (obvious!), it is something many gamers were desiring (since they felt player content had dropped off). The strong elemental theme is very well done with all these builds – you really can feel like an elemental monk, an elemental bound warlock, etc. These can be a part of a campaign setting, such as Dark Sun (which in AD&D times had some very strong elemental themes).

    The book has shallower backstory than Feywild, but it still has plenty for a DM to create a elemental chaos-inspired campaign (especially coupled with previous planar 4E material).

    The book also does a solid job of balancing Essentials and pre-Essentials material. Builds sometimes come in both flavors. Some of the options add some complexity to the game, such as the feats and rules for elemental companions – just those alone make this a pretty cool book for me!

    I did laugh at your review, and it does seem like a good idea that you won’t do further reviews. If you can’t get excited about the kobold trapsmith we will see in Dungeoneers then it is probably time to switch gears! (Dude, kobold trapsmith! Kobold trapsmith!!!)

    • See, I didn’t even have to write a full review because you did it for me! 🙂

      I know I wasn’t really fair, I stated that. I should put a disclaimer at the top I suppose. Kobold Trapsmith sounds great and its not that I can’t/won’t get interested in another 4e product or excited about one. I just can’t justify reviewing a product I know I most likely won’t use at all. I’m not going to half ass it y’know. Though I suppose I half assed this one, oh well, you guys get the point.

      I hope.

      • Totally! 🙂 I do understand. In fact, I think it’s useful for others to hear (in a positive frank way) how a fan of a system can grow tired of the system they love. I was on record for saying that 3E was pretty much a perfect system and my favorite ever… and then a year later I was completely worn out on anything remotely like 3E. Playing different games (especially in different genres, such as Eclipse Phase and Legend of the Five Rings) has helped keep me fresher this time around. Now 4E is my favorite version of D&D and I am having a lot of fun with it… though I’m pretty sure I’ll wear out on it in another year. The way I grimace when a third interrupt stops a monster is a sure sign fatigue will come!

  3. I have mixed feelings about this book.

    I think the Elementalist is a great example of an “Essentials Sorcerer”; you get a default blast’em power and then your elemental specialization and Encounter rider lets you customize that power somewhat. (I’m still trying to figure out why someone would pick the Earth or Water specializations; that extra damage kick that Fire and Air get is going to be hard to pass up.)

    I’m not as thrilled with the Sha’ir (ANOTHER Wizard build? Really??) and I haven’t looked at the Elemental Monk stuff yet.

    The Elemental Chaos background and flavor stuff is handy but only if you’re doing any kind of a campaign that deals with Elemental Chaos stuff (like the new Encounters season, I suppose).

  4. Hi Jerry,
    The transition away from 4e is worth a post at least… you suggest that it was your players and not you that left 4e. As a 4e partisan myself, I’m drawn to the scent of “undisclosed reasons” for your “falling out” with the game. Blog about that!
    Alphastream describes growing tired of 3e after a time; my experience was similar, and 4e came along at the right time to reivigorate my DMing. The Players Option books for 4e add flavor to world setting for DMs – Elemental Chaos, Feywild, Shadowfell – and as for player abilities, well their value is tied to the DM’s setting after all. My guess is that your departure from 4e isn’t due to limitations of the 4e world setting, but due to the rules themselves. This is something you can write about? I’d read your perspective!

  5. I’m sorry but if you don’t actually care enough about a product to give it a just review, don’t expect us to care about your lame brush off of a review.

    This post did not need to be made. You basically said ‘hey guys, I don’t give 2 rats asses about this product and don’t even care to review it. But I’m going to give it a 15 minute peruse, complain a bit, and then go home’. You could have said ‘I wont be reviewing this product because I no longer like 4e. That would be quick, honest, and wouldn’t do WOTC a disservice for no reason.

    • You’re right, and thanks for being respectable when posting a comment like this. I plan on giving it a full review the same way I always have. I need to ride 4e out until the end, it gave me some of the best games of my gaming career. I should follow through, and will.

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