Castles & Crusades Unboxing

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.

Pros:

  • umm… It’s an RPG?

Cons:

  • Price $$$
  • Lack of Digital Download Option.
  • Shipping
  • Packaging
  • Low Quality Book Binding
  • Black and White Art Only

12 thoughts on “Castles & Crusades Unboxing”

  1. Contact Troll Lords about the damaged books. I ordered mine through Amazon and there were a couple problems that originated on their end. They offered to replace my books.

  2. Sorry to hear about your problems. I’ve known the Trolls since about 2003, and they’re a great bunch of guys. I’m on cell phone internet, so the pics were small. I assume you ordered the phb, m&t, and the ckg? I always thought the phb and m&t were fairly priced at 25.00 and 20.00 respectively. The CKG is a newer release with alot more pages, and clocks in at just under 40.00 if I’m not mistaken. TLG has done their own printing for years. Until recently, they did everything except for the hardcovers. I’m curious, were your copies of phb and m&t glossy covers, or a matte finish like the ckg. The trolls have been doing matte finish(?)since printing and binding the hc’s as of late. As for black and white interiors, I believe they do that to keep costs down, but I don’t speak for them. I know that Gary Gygax was quite fond of TLG, and put out material with them during the D20 and C&C years before his untimely death in 2008. As others would say, please contact Troll Lord Games. I’m sure Stephen and company will address your concerns. Outside of Savage Worlds for multi-genre gaming, C&C is my fantasy game of choice. Best of luck.

  3. Yeah, this is really unfortunate. It looks like they were not packed well and I bet the TLG guys will feel terrible about this. I'd let them know. Don't go sour on the game though just because of the unboxing. It really is an amazing product. I"m surprised you found the hardbacks not sturdy though, I'm holding my PH right now and I'm very impressed by the construction of the binding and weight of the pages. With regard to the PDF downloads, they have absolutely RIDICULOUS sales quite regularly on RPGNow and Drive Thru RPG on all the TLG products.
    My recent post Hunter’s Quarry “Hook of the Week” 1- The Prodigal Brother

    1. What Youseph meant is that you don't get an option to download the PDF for free or low cost when you buy a print copy. Not every publishers offers this, but an increasingly number of publishers do. In my humble opinion the TLG guys would benefit from this move.

    2. I really tried to be clear about this in the post, but it sounds like I could have tried harder. I am not passing judgment on the game. I don't think Castles & Crusades is going to be a bad RPG just because the physical copies I got did not meet my expectations. The Physical wil not change how the game is ran.
      My recent post Dungeons &amp Dragons Documentary

      1. Good, I'm glad you are still interested in giving it a shot. It has been a good game for me. I do agree though, that production value $ vs competitors, they would lose hands down. Just look at Pathfinder books for example, similar price, full color, all the perks, etc.

        If I were a new player and looking for an alternative to 4e, guess which I would pick without recommendation? Not hard guess. Something needs to be done one way or another.
        My recent post Quick Update and a Question

  4. (this is pretty much copy/past from my blog but…)
    I feel a bit guilty as I was one of the people that talked Youseph into making that purchase. I have been a fan of C&C and Troll Lord Games for a very long time now. C&C has been my preferred and goto game for years now, provided it’s not a Cthulhu type game. I never bother to check into the quality of the books. Hell, to be honest I don’t think I have even read them all the way through. I have been playing since the 2nd edition many years ago. I get the new books just to have, and for the updated and errata information. But never payed much attention to the physical product.

    Now, I have ordered the Digest versions of the books, pre-ordered even and had issues with two of them. I was being a good little fan and keeping my mouth shut and kept it between me and the TrollLords. Then this little issue with Youseph happens, and there is a comment from a reader that they had to do similar. Perhaps the printing business wasn’t for them. They really should reconsider. I implore that anyone looking into printing quotes think about this real hard.

    And I know it's not that big a deal to ask advise every now and again, but they did contact me about printing/binding problems. I will not go into detail as I said I wouldn't. But it was not a show stopper just a "bug", I gave my advice and moved on. BUT, I did know they were having problems.

    @tylermo I'm glad you have been happy, I have too, I love the game, don't care what the books look like honestly. Could be a stapled fan made hand out and if the rules were good, I'd be down. Just don't like it when peoples expectations are broke.
    My recent post Quick Update and a Question

  5. Steve Chenault, President & CEO of Chenault & Gray Publishing, Troll Lord Games, posted on the official TLG forums recently and addressed some of the issues mentioned in this post:
    http://www.trolllord.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8… (you have to scroll down a bit)

    While I totally disagree with his comments regarding PDF pricing (he seems to be totally unaware of Bits & Mortar and similar initiatives), I am glad this finally got resolved.

  6. I just this afternoon stumbled on and watched your video and saw the printing problems that bothered you so much. And that MT is #&(#@ed up.

    Foremost, I must reiterate that the MT and PH were printed by Walsworth printing, one of the country’s premier printing companies. That MT is clearly defective and to date in thousands upon thousands of books we’ve printed with Walsworth we’ve only seen a dozen or so with that issue. Its very rare, but happens in printing sometimes. We ship so many that we rarely check each book for odd cutting. That said, when it is brought to our attention we immediately replace it. I was led to believe by your earlier post that this was some shipping dings (which as you pointed out we offered to replace), but THAT is not a shipping ding. We’ll send a replacement for that book regardless, as it is unusable.

    The CKG you mentioned is very well bound, it is glued as you noted, but the inline glue process is pretty tight and holds up to use. We’ve shipped several thousands of these things and had two complaints. If yours does not hold, do let us know.

    Thanks for the comments and criticisms. We appreciate it as it allows us to continue to improve what we do. Trollzah!

    Steve

    ps: the digest books Chuck are TINY. They were meant as novelty items and we never intended to reformat the entire line to accommodate that size; oddly they have taken on a life of their own…and they are a pain in the arse to manufacture…if you can’t use yours, drop me a private note at orders at trolllord.com and we’ll replace them.

    1. Steve,

      Though I do appreciate you wanting to replace my M&T books, you are only addressing one of the several issues I brought up in my posts and video.

      In the end I truly hope all the issues brought up (from printing, construction, and shipping) will be fully addressed in the near future for gamers who purchase your product.

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