I have been making a lot of personal posts recently. It is my nature to rant. Our Marvel game is postponed this weekend. We are going to take a stab at the D&D Next playtest materials though. I know it isn't a huge deal, right? It's just another version of D&D. If you've followed the developments in the gaming community, every few years they decide to release a new edition.
But it's always something we enjoy. Like most consumers it is rarely a need which drives gamers to make a purchase. You are going to fall out dead if you don't head to the store the day Diablo 3 hits the shelves. Most folks just pre-order in advance and get the title as soon as possible. The excitement of having something shiny and new is fun for a while. With D&D Next the thing that has impressed me the most is the build up. This edition isn't coming out for another year (the madness). So what did Wizards do? They issued a playtest.
Anyone willing to give them an email address can download the preliminary rules for free. You can read them, run the encounters included in the set, and have a little fun with it. No investment, no programming, or commitment on the part of the consumer. Throughout the rest of this year, they'll be handing out more samples- more tidbits. It is a brillant strategy. The company's reputation has been in need of a make-over. This time they wanted to say, "We are going to do it right."
If it is not your thing, that is cool. I can respect that. But see I remember when the games were fun. There is a yearbook around here somewhere that contained an interview with my brother. Maybe it was back in the days before the world got so screwed up and our greatest enemy was the Soviet Union. We didn't have cable televison back when I started playing D&D (the inter-what?). So while the world moves forward at a faster and faster pace, D&D Next harkens back to an open source project built on collaboration and innovation. We might not have any higher aspirations than a little munchkinism, but isn't that a grand enough goal.