As a new DM I am wondering if it would be worth it to me to subscribe to D&D Insider?
What are some of the pros?
What are some of the cons?
Specs: MacBook Pro 13"
It is absolutely worth subscribing to. I use it instead of getting dead-tree books, due to the frequency of updates and content drops.
Pros: easily searchable, pretty convenient compendium. If you have silverlight the character builder offers a far more effective method to build characters than pencil and paper, especially considering the options.
Cons: you'll expect that all the options become available after a while. Silverlight requires multiple database hits every time you click anything, while you can download the pdfs of dragon, you can't keep your compendium access or your characters after you stop subscribing.
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The subscription is definitely worth it. Let me elaborate a bit on what you get when you subscribe.
Just for fun a bit of cost analysis.
Cost of PHB1,DMG,MM1 boxed set - $66 Amazon.com. Cost of 1 year DDI subscription - $71.40
With each additional book costing in the neighborhood of $25-30 and there being a lot of books (PHB2, PHB3, MM2, MM3, DMG2, Power books) it seems prudent to save the money, paper and shelf space and just subscribe to DDI.
I found DDI underwhelming. I subscribed for only a month when the character builder was offline.
Buying a copy of the CB was worth $10, since it stuck around after the subscription ended. I'm not sure what to make of the online builder they have up these days. It's caused quite a few headaches for my group, but we're not Windows users. I think the Mac user was able to get Silverlight working eventually without resorting to boot camp. I set up a virtual machine on linux and had some trouble because I didn't expect Silverlight would be a 2gb installation and would fail to let me know if there wasn't enough room on the disk.
The magazines were alright. I skimmed through most of them. I think I would have been happier with them if there was a better way to search for articles. Give an intern a week and each article could be tagged with its relevant topics. That would be a fantastic service.
I liked the compendium a lot, especially as GM. It was searchable, but I'd rather use grep than a web interface. So I wrote a script to have Firefox visit every page in the compendium and then I copied the results out of my cache. I found this to be a whole lot more useful than the interface WotC gave me.
Basically, DDI kept reminding me that WotC was not a software company and I couldn't justify giving them $10 a month for what I considered to be bad software. My group splits a subscription and we all try not to use up the character slots. $10 a month for the whole group seems like a fair price to me.