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Player's Strategy Guide (4e)

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The D&D Player's Strategy Guide is aimed at D&D players who crave the envy of their gamer peers. If you want a character that’s jaw-droppingly cool, this book is for you. It provides tips and tricks for optimizing your D&D characters - to make them more awesome and fun to play at the game table.

In addition to character optimization tips and player advice, this book includes entertaining sidebar essays written by celebrity gamers and a distinctive comic art style unlike other books in the D&D game line.

Product History

Player's Strategy Guide (2010), by Andy Collins and James Wyatt with Eytan Bernstein, was a player's book for D&D 4e. It was published in May 2010.

About the Cover. The cartoony cover of the Player's Strategy Guide is by Mike Krahulik — Gabe of Penny Arcade (1998-Present). This represented a unique intrusion of pop-culture into the D&D 4e line (2008-2012) and marked the increasing importance of Penny Arcade to the gaming community — due in large part to its Penny Arcade Expo PAX events (2004-Present); 2010 was the year that PAX East (2010) joined Seattle's original PAX Prime (2004) festival.

The interior of the Player's Strategy Guide also contains lots of cartoony artwork, some of which even includes comic-strip dialogue. It was a callback to the earliest days of D&D, when comic strips could be found right in the core rulebooks of AD&D (1977-1979).

Continuing the 4e Line. By mid-2010, Wizards of the Coast was approaching the end of its original plans for the 4e line. The Player's Strategy Guide might have been a sign of things to come, as it was one of the very few releases in the first two years of D&D 4e that didn't fit into a clearly designated line.

A Different Sort of Player's Handbook. In days of yore, the original Players Handbook (1978) had been a book intended to help players create characters. That idea got lost with AD&D 2e (1989), when the Player's Handbook (1989) became the general rulebook for the game. However, Wizards of the Coast revisited the idea of a player's character-construction book during 3e days with the Hero Builder's Guidebook (2000), the first-ever official strategy guide for D&D character creation.

Player's Strategy Guide followed in the footsteps of its predecessor as D&D's second book of player strategy. Like Hero Builder's Guidebook, the Strategy Guide has plenty of information on making characters, includng advice on optimization and other min-maxing. Quizzes that could be used to determine interest in motivation, class, role, and alignment recalled similar (but lengthier) Q&A from the Guidebook. However, Player's Strategy Guide doesn't just focus on individuals, but also the group as a whole, by offering advice on how to create adventuring parties.

Looking at Player's Strategy Guide today reveals the gaming elements that were particularly important to the 4e game. The "Building Your Party" chapter reveals 4e's strong emphasis on character roles, while the "Strategy and Tactics" chapter shows off what may have been D&D's most tactical combat system ever. Finally, the advice on skill challenges highlights one of D&D's biggest problems: a very innovative skill-resolution system that got off on the wrong foot due to its confusing description in the core rulebooks and which took years to recover.

Edition warriors often complained that D&D 4e was too tactical, without much roleplaying. Though there's certainly tactical advice in this book, there's also plenty of roleplaying advice — from creating linked characters to playing well in a group.

Expanding the World of … The World. Player's Strategy Guide contains short articles by Wizards of the Coast staff (and roleplaying celebrities like John Rogers and Wil Wheaton) talking about their characters. It's a sort of Rogues Gallery (1980) for the 21st century that reveals PCs of note across the world (where the original Gallery is largely remembered for its characters of note in Greyhawk).

Love It or Hate It? Strategy Guides like this one have always received mixed reviews. Like its predecessor, this one was best loved by new and young players and less relevant to more experienced players.

About the Creators. Wyatt was part of the SCRAMJET team that produced the cosmology of D&D 4e, while Collins was part of the Flywheel team that produced the mechanics; a few years later, they were still working on the game. Bernstein is a freelance author who worked on a number of D&D 4e projects, but this was his last (though he continues to do editing and development in the industry).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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