Based on recommendations from more than one friend and reviews I had been reading on the Internet, (or “tubes” as we say in Alaska) I ordered three Castles & Crusades books from Troll Lord Games. The Players Handbook, Monsters & Treasure and Castle Keepers Guide. I have heard nothing but good things about this game and I wanted to make sure I had a copy sitting on my book shelf for when my group and I where ready to play it. So I ordered it.
Two weeks later the game found its way to my hands. That’s a little more time than most RPG orders I make but, not a big deal to me. Like I said, I wanted the game ready for when my party was ready to try something new.
I picked up the C&C package from my post office yesterday and was a little worried because the box that the books where shipped in was looking a little beaten up. I tried not to let this bother me. In the past I have ordered RPG books from other companies that have come to me in beat up boxes, but the books where perfectly fine. My luck must have run out however, because these books where not in what I would call new condition.
When I got home I opened the box to discover that the packing used to protect the books – wads of brown paper – was only covering one side of the books as you can see in the picture below. The other side was resting against the box. So any bumps, dings, or bangs that the box encounter on this ride to Alaska would effect at least one of the book’s hard covers. Compared to my experience of ordering the Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition book and Gamemaster’s Kit from Green Ronin, it seems like Troll Lord Games must have a troll in some dark and dusty basement doing all the packaging and mail orders. Green Ronin really set the bar high for how products should be shipped. Amazon.com does not even do it as good as them.
Removing the books from the box they where shipped in only increased my disappointment. One of the three book I ordered was shrink-wrapped. That did not help anything because the shrink wrapped book was the one that was against the box. It took the dings and blows from shipping. The other two books where not shrink-wrapped. I removed them from the box to find they where both dusty and scuffed. The dust was not from the shipping either. All three books had ding marks and scratches. It really looked like these where display books at one time or just miss handled from the get go.
When I opened the books I was disappointed to learn that none of the art was in color. The art is nice. It just was not in color. As much as these books cost me I would have expected things to be in color at the very least. But nope, just the cover is in color.
Upon closer examination I found the books to not be as well constructed as Green Ronin’s DC Universe book or any of the Wizards of the Cost 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons books. Again, the Castles & Crusades books where not cheap books by any stretch of the imagination. I am left feeling that the printers of these books cut every corner they could. It’s not that I think pages are going to start to fall out after extended use. It’s just clear the construction is not on par with the other products I have mentioned. That along with black and white printing left me feeling disappointed and not like I got my monies worth at all.
I have one last disappointment with my order of Castles & Crusades. That is a complete lack of digital downloads with their books. You can buy PDFs of Castles & Crusades for not much of a discount at all. Other RPG companies will offer you the PDF of the book you are buying for an extra five bucks. Something like that is very reasonable. In this day and age where everything is going increasingly digital, to not have a digital download option for a small fee is ridiculous. Troll Lord Games is not the only company guilty of this lack digital downloads. The big kid on the block, Wizards of the Cost with Dungeons & Dragons, is also guilty of this.
I am glad to have these books on my shelf. The main reason for buying them was a direct result of hearing so much overwhelming advice from friends and reviews other sites that Castles & Crusades is a great game. I am sure it will be. I am still looking forward to playing it with my gaming group. The books and the shipping are the let down for me.
- umm… It’s an RPG?
- Price $$$
- Lack of Digital Download Option.
- Low Quality Book Binding
- Black and White Art Only