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2014 Summer Release Schedule for the New Tabletop D&D 5th Edition - "Free to Play" and Staggered Release (Grumble)

by Hawke Robinson published Jun 20, 2015 05:05 PM, last modified Feb 05, 2023 12:22 PM
Why is WotC spreading out the release of the Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, and Monster Manual over several months, rather than releasing those core components in the same month??? They are making a free PDF of the Basic set available for download, but the initial download will only be a basic Players Handbook, with no rules to actually run a game. They are planning to emulate the online gaming world's "Free to Play" approach. They will be releasing future free basic versions of the rules via PDF that will include some rules for play, and then also staggering the release of the hardcovers. Internal Correspondence reports the release dates for many of the new D&D products that Wizards of the Coast has announced for the Summer, beginning in July.

I find it annoying that they are not releasing the new DMG until several months after the PH. They should release the core, PH, DMG, and MM, all the minimum components for running a game, at the same time, so people can get started playing and running a game right away, rather than having it spread out over several months before they can actually run the games. What are they thinking?

As for their "Free to Play" approach with the free PDF initially available (only for making PCs at first, they will only make the rules to actually play available later), I think if they did so with a "Basic Core" so that at least you could start gaming (basic PH, basic DMG, basic MM), that would be a good approach, and then could justify the several months delay between each of the hardcovers being released, but I strongly disagree with the staggered approach for the core. At least make the basic version of the core available so people can actually play the game, most of us are not buying the books just to collect, we want to actually use them, and I don't see much point buying any of them until at least the core books, PH, DMG, and MM are available all at once. Any chance WotC could be persuaded, at least with their free pdf download of the basic rules, to change their mind on the staggered release?

Wizards of the Coast will release new Dungeons & Dragons products for five consecutive months beginning July 3rd, the company announced today.  The new releases include four game products, a new D&D Starter Set and the three core books, plus two serialized Tyranny of Dragons adventures.  This is the first complete release of the product line-up for launch, which WotC has been building toward for years.

Full article here:

Summary below:

July 3rd: 
D&D Starter Set released at WPN retailers.

WizKids’ Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Miniatures Starter Set Heroes released.

July 15th: 
D&D Starter Set released at non-WPN retailers.

August 8th: 
D&D Player’s Handbook and Hoard of the Dragon Queen released at WPN retailers.

WizKids’ Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Miniatures Set One Standard Booster released.

August 14th: 
Tyranny of Dragons launches for Cryptic Studios’ Neverwinter.

August 14-17th: 
Gen Con (Hoard of the Dragon Queen and D&D Player’s Handbook sold there).

August 19th: 
Hoard of the Dragon Queen and D&D Player’s Handbook released at non-WPN retailers.

D&D Monster Manual released

Rise of Tiamat released

Dungeon Master’s Guide released

D&D Starter Set, which will release at WPN retailers on July 3 and on July 15th to the rest of the trade.  The introductory boxed set will include a 64-page booklet, a 32-page booklet, five character sheets, and six dice in a 9" x 11" box for $19.99.

D&D Player’s Handbook will release at WPN retailers on August 8, be available at Gen Con, and then go into general release on August 19th.  The 320-page 8-9/16" x 11-1/8" hardcover will retail for $49.95.

Released at the same Gen Con-centric times as the Player’s Handbook, Hoard of the Dragon Queen begins the Tyranny of Dragons storyline in a 96-page hardcover (same trim size) for $29.95.

September will see the release of the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, a 320-page $49.95 hardcover.

In October, the Tyranny of Dragons storyline continues in The Rise of Tiamat, another 96-page hardcover for $29.95.

November, the first tranche of D&D releases wraps up with the Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide, a 320-page hardcover for $49.95.



In parallel, Cryptic Studios will release a new Tyranny of Dragons module for its Neverwinter D&D MMO on August 14th.

Also, WizKids will release its first Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Miniatures Starter and Booster, created for use with the new tabletop roleplaying game, in conjunction with the release of the D&D Starter Set and Player’s Handbook, respectively