With the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, it seemed only fitting to give it a review. This new book for D&D 5e has received a lot of attention leading up to its release. It promises massive amounts of player options, magic abilities, and DM tools for readers to use.
But does it make good on this promise?
Today, Tabletop Joab reviews the much-anticipated new release: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
What is Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything?
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is the last book for D&D 5e to be released in 2020. It’s loaded with new player options, subclasses, rules and DM Tools for you to use in your games. Because of this, it’s a type of successor to the wildly popular 2017 release, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
But despite this similarity to Xanathar’s Guide, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything deserves to be taken on its own terms.
Character Classes and Options
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything adds the Artificer class (republished from the Eberron Campaign Setting) as well as new optional class features for the other 12 classes. This is an excellent touch that helps to add more abilities to each class, particularly spellcasters.
Several of the subclasses in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything have already been published in other books, though. The Spores Druid, Eloquence Bard, and Bladesinger (to name a few) are already found in books such as the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, Mythic Odysseys of Theros, and Sword Coast Adventurers Guide. However, I can’t deny the joy and convenience of having them all together in one book.
Plus there are plenty of newly published subclasses to enjoy as well.
Some early standouts for me are the Twilight Domain Cleric, the Way of Mercy Monk, and the Aberrant Mind Sorcerer.
All in all, Tasha’s boasts 26 subclasses plus the Artificer class and its four subclass options.
Those who keep up with playtesting subclasses on Unearthed Arcana are sure to recognize most of these subclasses, but it’s nice to have the refined and officially printed versions.
The Feats section of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is small, but contains some very flavorful feat options for characters. While I initially chuckled at the “Chef” feat, it actually can make for an interesting way to give buffs to your party when playing a character with interests in the culinary arts.
Player Options in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
The rule variant that has been behind the majority of discussion about Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is the variant ability score increases rule.
With this rule, ability score increases from your character’s race can be assigned to a different ability. For example, a Half-Orc that would normally get +2 to Strength and +1 Constitution may instead choose to apply those bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma.
Additionally, there are options regarding your character’s languages, lineage, and proficiencies.
There’s no shortage of people complaining about this rule variant, but I think it’s an interesting option that will work in some groups and not in others. If someone wants to make a Half-Orc Bard but doesn’t want to be “inefficient” because they don’t get a Charisma bonus at the beginning, let them!
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything makes it very clear: these are suggestions and variants to rules, not replacements of what is printed in the Players Handbook.
The Group Patrons options in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything provide a great way to bring the party together. Patrons can provide useful support to the party as well as some great roleplaying opportunities to add to your world’s immersion.
The concept of Group Patrons has already been published in other books (like the Eberron Campaign Setting), but it’s nice to see the concept getting more published options.
Fittingly enough for a book of its name, Magic options form a significant part of the book’s contents. With both new and republished spells and a large selection of magic items (including some cool tattoo ideas), there are a ton of fun ideas to incorporate into your game.
DM Tools in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
First things first, it’s fantastic to see some published guidelines for conducting a session zero. I’m a huge proponent of using a session zero to align the players’ expectations, so it’s nice to see this being published.
While I wish that this were in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, I’m content to say “better late than never” on this one. Though the section is admittedly a bit smaller than I would have expected.
Other useful things for Dungeon Masters such as sidekicks, magical phenomena (like eldritch storms and Mimic colonies), and Natural Hazards are present.
There’s also a section on Puzzles, but we’ll get to that in the “Criticisms” section. (Which tells you where I stand on the subject…)
Much like Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, the titular Tasha includes fun snippets and notes throughout the book. It really helps to give the book some fun personality!
Many of the subclasses are full of flavor which can make for some very interesting characters. It’s nice to see every class receiving options. Despite some of these classes being previously released in other books, it’s incredibly convenient to have them all in one place.
New Player and Character Options make for some interesting variants in opening up players’ choices when making a character. D&D 5e is about making characters to use as you tell interesting stories with your friends. The fact that these options shake up the game’s “meta” makes it possible to make the unique character that you, the player, specifically want without being considered inefficient.
The DM Tools in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything will be particularly useful for Dungeon Masters who enjoy world-building.
Oh, and the art is some of my favorite in any of the published books.
Tasha’s Cauldron just feels so short. There are a lot of fantastic ideas and concepts in this book, but most of them feel incomplete. It’s like instead of Tasha’s Cauldron, I was given Tasha’s Crockpot.
I honestly tried to take Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything on its own merits. Despite being roughly the same length as Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, this just doesn’t feel quite as useful.
Xanathar’s Guide laid out some excellent uses and tips for the materials that it covered and I very rarely felt like I wasn’t given everything I needed. Tasha’s Cauldron has left me feeling a bit like Oliver Twist.
“Please ma’am, I want some more.”
The republished material is a bit of a double-whammy in both the “I like it” and “I hate it” categories. While I, personally, like having all of these options in a single book, others make the very valid complaint that this just artificially inflates the amount of “new” content being presented.
If you are otherwise content with having subclasses and mechanics across several books, I can fully see this upsetting you.
Lest We Forget: The Puzzles
Oh, and there’s the puzzles…
To get straight to the point: the puzzles are useless.
Barring the fact that puzzles are notoriously difficult to do well in D&D, the puzzles in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything are still underwhelming. To function properly, there needs to be more information if the party is ever going to solve it.
This isn’t about the puzzles being difficult, it’s about poor implementation. If your group aren’t avid puzzle-solvers, you are setting yourself up for a massively stressful session. If your group are avid puzzle solvers, the puzzles in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything form yet another “jumping off” point for you to tweak to suit your group’s preference.
Nothing in the puzzle sections feels “completed” or useful. If I had to choose a single critique, it would be the puzzles.
But the section has inspired me to write an article (or possibly rant) about puzzles in D&D 5e, so stay tuned for that.
Should You Buy Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything?
As with all Tabletop Joab reviews, products are rated according to three criteria: Usefulness, Quality, and Value.
Final Verdicts are given as “Get it Now!”, “Get It On Sale!”, or “Pass!”
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything isn’t a useless book, but it just doesn’t quite feel “complete.” The optional rules do well to add more to existing classes and character options, but largely feel like starting points.
The subclasses and DM Tools are the most useful content in this book. Subclasses are genuinely interesting and provide a lot of theme for characters. Meanwhile, the DM Tools are useful for Dungeon Masters who want to add more magical mystique to their world.
So there is usefulness for both Dungeon Masters and Players in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. But it will likely take a bit of discussion between Players and their DM to make it “fit” just right.
The art in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is fantastic. There are tons of imaginative and rich images that I enjoyed looking over to admire the details.
As for the book quality itself… well there’s some discussion to be had.
Many people, myself included, have had issues with the book’s binding. When put next to my heavily-used copy of Xanathar’s Guide, it’s unlikely that someone would guess Tasha’s Cauldron to be the newer of the two by looking at the pages and binding. I’m really hoping Wizards of the Coast takes notice of this gap in quality control.
As for the book’s layout, I can’t complain. The content is presented well. It just suffers from a lack of well-defined content.
Determining the “bang for the buck” of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is a bit tricky. I couldn’t help but get inspired by many of the wonderful ideas presented in the book when reading it.
However, when purchasing an official book I have high expectations. I don’t feel that Tasha’s Cauldron offers an acceptable level of “bang for the buck” at a full $50 price tag for someone who has purchased all of the previously released books. If you haven’t already purchased books such as Mythic Odyssies of Theros, Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, or Eberron: Rising From The Last War, all of the content will be new to you which does bump the book’s value.
I plan to use the book for a character or two in the near future and may look to incorporate some of the magic items and phenomena into my current campaign. But I can’t honestly say that I see myself using this as the type of go-to reference that Xanathar’s Guide has become for me. Though many of the ideas are great for Dungeon Masters who are looking to add some extra flair into their campaign’s world.
Final Verdict on Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
So with all that said, the final verdict on Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything for D&D 5e is…
“Get It On Sale!”
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything was teetering between a rating of “Get It On Sale!” and “Pass!” but, ultimately, I think it still deserves a place on your bookshelf.
The subclasses are the factor that most tilted this review in Tasha’s favor. They are very interesting and almost every single one was clear ways that it can be tied to the world to add to the sense of immersion. I’m a huge fan of anything that does this and there’s several options presented in Tasha’s Cauldron that help to create that feeling.
While I would feel underwhelmed if paying the full MSRP, it’s still worth picking up on a sale.
Check out our other reviews: