Although my first introduction to AD&D started with the original 1st edition books, the books for AD&D 2nd edition played a much bigger role in the longevity of the game for me and my group. We spent almost two decades running this system, thus we came to know these books so well and used them so much that the pages literally started falling out of the binding. It got to the point where I could instantly flip the book open to non-weapon proficiencies or spells by feel, yes we were that hardcore into 2nd edition.
So, having WotC re-release the books I grew up with was a special treat for me. When I received these books in the mail I was honestly a bit disappointed to see that they went with the “2.5” style as opposed to the original, I had dreamed of opening up the box to see that old Jeff Easley artwork of the warrior on horseback with whom had become a legendary hero in my mind as I saw him each and every time we gamed. Yes, it was a let down, but I quickly recovered and lifted the books from the mangled cardboard shipping wreckage.
I started with the PHB, but before cracking it open I took a close look at the cover itself which has the feel of faux leather and some embossing. The original cover artwork is cropped into a diamond and placed in the center with the title embossed in golden lettering upon a green background. The three books finally look to be part of the same set which was something that was missing from previous printings of AD&D 2nd edition. The binding is very high quality and probably won’t fall apart as easily as my old tried and true AD&D books from back in the day. The flyleaves are a golden brown and give the book a very classy feel while the interior pages are a tad thicker and higher quality than the originals. The print quality is crisp and quite clear.
The artwork is not the classic and high quality art from the original 1989 version, but the 2.5 1995 re-release filled with sub-par art.
Some of the errata which WotC claimed to have fixed is still broken and there are a few hidden errors on tables and charts riddled throughout the book.
If you want to get into some of the older games this AD&D reprint is perfect for you, if you’re a fan of 2nd edition and would like to replace your crumbling older books this also maybe right for you, but if you’re a true nostalgic such as myself, these books will not cause your eyes to mist over with memories, quite the opposite in fact as you find yourself feeling disappointed and going back to your 1989 original printing of the 1st AD&D 2nd edition Player’s Handbook and cracking it open one more time before all the pages fall out for good…
I give them 4 out of 5 stars as a general RPG book review.
On a personal note, they unfortunately receive only 2 out of 5 stars by a true nostalgic/collector of vintage RPGs.