I’m not running DnD Encounters this season, and now that I’ve had an opportunity to look at the new material available to players, I’m really, really glad. To give you a heads’ up about what I’m looking at — it isn’t the Encounters themselves, because I don’t have access to them. No, just the DnD Compendium updates.

First of all, the new Character Themes all suck. I don’t care what their higher-level powers and bonuses do, and I don’t really care how advantageous their non-combat and utility powers are. They suck. Wizards should know by now that a Theme that doesn’t grant an attack power or a beast companion isn’t worth anyone’s time.

Seriously, and I don’t think I can stress this enough — there are maybe a half-dozen Character Themes worth your time. Fey Beast Tamer is one of them, maybe even the only one, depending on how you feel about extra heals and attack powers, simply because it gives you a reusable beast companion and damage sponge.

Next, this season introduces Goblins, Kobolds, and Svirfneblin to the race pool for players to pick from. “Why?” You might ask. Probably because WotC has no love for any of the other races they created for the Player’s Handbook 2 or 3. I’m not sure exactly. Goliaths? Minotaurs? I have no idea. Gnomes? Oh, you mean Svirfneblin.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they finally addressed Kobolds as a playable race. You know, right before they throw Fourth Edition out and move on to Fifth Edition. It’s too little, too late. Now I’m just annoyed because they’re cashing in — Goblins, too. Seriously? Oh, and where are Hobgoblins and Bugbears?

There are no new classes. So, to summarize: no classes, no races, and no themes worth using. Thanks DnD Encounters! For nothing to remember this season!

Well, that isn’t entirely fair. Goblins have what may be the first-ever at-will Racial power, and that’s worth noting. Also, Svirfneblin have a Racial power that heals (temporary hit point-style) in addition to granting them Partial Concealment. The Svirfneblin also get a rare racial bonus to Wisdom. That’s a hard one to get.

So! Look forward to seeing a lot of Goblin thieves and Svirfneblin warpriests these encounters! And then lots more of the same guys you saw last season!