Tizzbin’s Tirades: Review of Player Minion by Goat Head Software

player minion logo[Editor’s Note: Tizzbin had a chance to use the new iPhone/iPad app from Goat Head Software this last weekend, called Player Minion, which I am reviewing today over at EN World.  He wanted to add his two coppers about the new D&D 4E app, so I let him take over my Wednesday blog to do it.  The EN World Review today is for both the Player Minion and  DM Minion apps, so if you’re interested in more information, click the link here to head over to EN World and read my review as well.  Enjoy!]

Character sheets are like inflatable sheep.  They’re enjoyable to look at, fun to play with, but at the end of the day, it’s still just an inflatable sheep.  But wait, what’s that you say?!  We live in THE FUTURE!  We have the technology!  And what better to build with our technological advancements than a new Character Sheet?!

With everyone seeming to have smart phones and tablets these days, it only makes sense that the next evolutionary step of the character sheet would be in App form.  So, with all your time spent taking edgy/retro pictures with Instagram, sketching pictures of dude’s junk with Draw Something, and getting into Tweet-wars with Wil Wheaton about whether Worf could beat Chewbacca in a hand-to-hand fight: why not throw your character onto your favorite iDevice to add a level of ease to your weekly gaming?

With Player Minion from Goat Head Software, you can now export your 4E character from DDI and upload it to your PM Account, so you can access it anywhere!  You can also save your characters locally, so you don’t have to depend on having a WiFi if you’re using it on a device that doesn’t have 3G!

The Good

Functionally, this app draws a vast majority of the information from your character sheet and sets things up in an easy to read formatting.  The pages are intuitive and the location of your information as well as the scroll functionality is easy to use.  Also, the inclusion of dice-rollers at key locations throughout the app add to the convenience, as for the most part – you don’t really have to carry dice with you again if you don’t want to (except for in rare cases)!
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I also love the damage and healing system that the App provides.  I’m sure for some folks that already felt 4E was too “MMO” for their taste, they’ll hate the concept of it, but for me – I love having a mini health bar.  It covers the basics when it comes to damage and healing, lists temp hitpoint, and monitors your healing surge usage.  Also, in the same area, you get a great system for keeping track of current effects which you can modify slightly if you need to.

The So-So

For the combat cards, you get the standard list of abilities to select from with an easy system for tracking what powers were used in a given combat/day.  To be a little critical there, I would have loved to have seen some other symbol added to the power list to note if it had been used, so you didn’t have to drill into the power card itself to look – but that is more “ease of use” than anything else.

In a similar way – I felt as though the skill list was convenient, but at the same time – why not put a marker next to “trained” skills.  Sure, I can tell if I look at which skills are higher than the others (or at least I can assume), but it would be nice for that to be clearly defined.

The Bad

I would love for my review to be mostly positive, but sadly there were a couple things I noticed that made this App less enjoyable.  Let’s start with the background that for my testing, I uploaded my Star Pact Warlock/Bard hybrid (my Barlock or Ward).  Declaring him to be Star Pact is fairly important as well, because once you actually go to the power cards – you have no way of seeing the additional riders that a power gains from my pact!  My range is increased to 20, you say?  I wouldn’t know… unless I remember that from when I created my character.  This is the most major issue to me, as remembering a range is one thing – but some of the riders get a lot more complicated…
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Also, the way that bonus damage is handled for Striker classes is kinda rough.  If I curse a target, there is no way to add my curse damage to my rolls.  Even when I go to the Warlock’s Curse ability, it doesn’t provide a dice for me to roll for my additional damage.  This oversight is easily remedied by (gasp) pulling out a d8 and rolling my extra damage, but still and all – I want this app to let me be as slothful as possible.

The Overview

Regardless of its flaws, Player Minion is still a good deal of fun to play around with, and it makes things insanely convenient given my level of ADD when gaming.  Using this in conjunction with the native notepad app on your iPod, iPhone or iPad will give you pretty much everything you need for gaming night and leave your hands free to carry more Mountain Dew, Taco Bell, and Cheetos into your friends house.  And with the price of admission running at a generally low $2.99 – Player Minion is definitely something I can get behind…

Kind of like that inflatable sheep.

About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


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