Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 Hopefuls - Product of the Year - Legend of the 5 Rings Core Book

We saw a lot of great products come out this past year. From Fiasco to D&D Essentials to the Dragon Age box set. One book was set a part from all others though - Legends of the 5 Rings (L5R) 4th Edition core book. There's always been an L5R RPG since I've started gaming. With both the tabletop game and the CCG, AEG, the company that produces L5R, has had a constant presence in my gaming life. When you look at my love for Kurosawa films, this means that I've pretty much always been curious about the game and the world of Rokugan.

I don't know what took me so long to give it a shot, but much like with D&D, when I heard about the 4th Edition being released this past May, It felt kind of like a sign. 4th Ed. was our first D&D, so why not give 4th Ed. in L5R a shot? Seriously, I'm so happy that I did.

The samurai action could not be cooler. From the clans to the families, the book is dripping with flavor and plot hooks for even the most jaded (this is an intended pun for those of you in the know!) of players and GM's. After three editions, you can see that this newest version of the game has taken all the best aspects of previous games, especially honor, glory, and the core mechanic of "roll and keep" and simplified them so they don't act as a barrier to getting into the game but rather work to enhance the experience.

Ok, so the book has a ton of great content (seriously, it's a complete product all on its own), but let's talk production value. There are very few books out there that I'd be willing to pay full retail for. I live in the same town as Noble Knight, so I can actually walk to the local store and get a decent discount on anything I could want. No, L5R 4th Ed. is gorgeous. Take a look at the above picture. This kind of incredibly high-quality full-color art work is not the exception. Let me repeat that - this is not an exception! It's the rule, and you will continually be blown away be each piece of artwork as you page through the thing. It's down-right inspiring and makes you want to play a fierce samurai or mighty shungenja that much more.

L5R is a no-brainer if you like Samurai. It's the most polished product out there and pretty much the final word when it comes to samurai tabletop role-playing. The 4th Ed. core book goes beyond that though. The thing is an art book as well as rulebook. I could go on and on, but if you're not sold on it yet...why not? It's worth its weight in gold. In an age where pdf's seem to dominate our hobby, the new core book for L5R shows us just how great a print product can be and what we'd be losing if we ever stop having access to a physical book to hold and enjoy.

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