The D&D Essentials Kit is half off at Amazon, plus more of the week’s best deals

When the Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit launched in July, we were impressed by the new introductory adventure, as well as the updated rules for two-player games. It started as a Target exclusive, and quickly sold out there, but it finally came to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as local bookstores, at the beginning of September. And now it’s dropped down to half off at Amazon, meaning you can start playing D&D for just $12.55.

Also at Amazon, the Xbox One wireless controller is back down to $39.99. While not the lowest price we’ve ever seen on the gamepad, it’s still one of the cheapest first-party console controllers on the market. Amazon Prime members can also take advantage of $15 off Amazon’s streaming device, the Fire TV Stick ($10 more will get you a 4K version.)

Finally, Polygon’s exclusive deal on Civilization 6: Gold Edition is still available at StackSocial. Coupon code POLYGON10 takes an extra 10 percent off the already-discounted game, as well as the Gathering Storm DLC and Civilization 5 Complete.

Best accessory deal: Xbox Wireless Controller

Best video game deal: Civilization 6 Gold Edition

Best streaming deal: Fire TV Stick 4K

Best tabletop deal: D&D Essentials Kit

D&D Essentials Kit

The Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit is “the single best introduction” to the fantasy role-playing game we’ve ever seen. The box includes everything you need to start playing D&D, including an introductory rulebook, a DM screen, a set of 11 dice, a handy set of cards for things players need to keep track of (initiative, magic items, etc.), and a brand-new adventure, Dragon of Icespire Peak.

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Amazon / $12.55 Buy


Rebel Cops presents an uncomfortable view of crime and punishment

Rebel Cops, a turn-based spinoff from This Is the Police, isn’t the game that I expected it to be. I’m only about three hours in, but both its mechanics and its setting continue to surprise me, for good and ill.

The result is a perfectly functional turn-based game with some exciting open-world elements. Unfortunately, I’m unlikely to come back to finish it due to poor pacing and a lack of depth.

The hardest pill to swallow is the apparent bait and switch the game makes with its marketing. Videos for Rebel Cops show a hardy bunch of folks who could easily pass for Illinois state troopers, or regional police from any of the 50 states.

With wide-brimmed hats and furred collars, they look like cartoon versions of the cast of Longmire. But the narrative of Rebel Cops itself is set somewhere in Eastern Europe. Rather than a laconic sheriff making do on the high prairie, I’m cast as a malnourished Robin Hood living hand to mouth at a secret camp in the woods. It’s a little jarring.

That setting gives Rebel Cops a few unexpected elements, to say the least.

Policing as guerrilla warfare

The town that this police force was originally sworn to protect has been taken over by a crime boss. Rather than submit to his will, we’ve gone rogue and begun to secretly work against him. It’s unclear what his crimes are, but apparently they’re severe enough that we have a green light to kill anyone working alongside him. Unfortunately, the “suspects” we’re trying to capture or kill are either private security forces — lightly armed civilians, essentially — hardened criminals, or other cops.

When the game begins, the rebel cops are flat broke. I need to be creative with our funding streams, and pinch a few pennies when I can. Most of the cash comes from looting crime scenes of valuables, or taking bribes from law-abiding townsfolk. Prisoners aren’t even kept under lock and key at the county courthouse. Instead, they’re shipped off to “Crazy Steve’s farm,” where they bed down on hay, get clothed in rags, and eat a steady diet of tree bark. Guns are exceedingly rare, which means that I’m not able to afford firearms for all of my troopers when the game starts.

Instead, I have the option of using clubs to knock suspects out, or knives to slit their throats. Faced with dozens of pistol-packing enemies, there’s little incentive to play nice. As with the looting and bribery, there are few penalties for committing some murders in the line of duty. It’s an uncomfortable feeling playing as a cop killing both civilians and other cops, while working on the wrong side of the law to try to do what’s arguably the right thing — and the game chooses not to engage with that very seriously during the hours I’ve played.

An early story beat makes sure players know that cops are down on their luck. An image here shows a cop in his boxers, eating from a tin plate in the woods. His clothes are on a line behind him and snow is lying on the ground. Weappy Studio/THQ Nordic

Rebel Cops plays out the way you’d expect from this sort of turn-based strategy title. Each cop gets two actions per turn, which they can use to move or to attack enemies. Arresting suspects quietly and peacefully removes them from the map, and gives you points that you can cash in for extra moves and other perks within the same encounter. Moving stealthily in large groups is generally more helpful than opening fire.

Fog of war is in place, meaning that you never know what lurks around the next corner. The game uses a buddy system to help keep your cops alive. If you tell one of your cops to do something stupid — move into a room without clearing it, for instance — one of the other cops in close proximity will stop them before they go into harm’s way. That second cop will then reveal one of the previously undetected enemies inside the room, and give you the option to make a different move.

In action, however, this feels a bit like gaming the system. Stack up enough cops at the entrance to a doorway, and you can reveal pretty much every enemy on the other side without even peeking your head around the corner. The game’s design fights back by giving players little to no detail about what an enemy alert radius or observation cone looks like. It’s a bit like playing the Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines tactical stealth game with half the user interface removed.

A sceenshot from Rebel Cops showing a character moving toward a stairwell in the center of the screen while on the right another character makes an arrest. Weappy Studio/THQ Nordic

Furthermore, the “one shot, one kill” tagline that the game uses in its marketing is also somewhat misleading. Your bullets have to hit the target first, and until you’ve built up your skills at firearms, that’s unlikely to happen at anything other than extremely short range.

Every shot is a called shot, meaning that you can choose to hit a specific location every time you fire. Aiming for the head grants a one-shot kill; center mass drops an enemy on the ground where they bleed out for three turns; winging someone in the arm or leg puts them down, bleeding out for five turns. Body armor, including helmets, further complicates things by absorbing rounds.

The bottom line is that I needed anywhere from one to five rounds to get the job done. The same can’t be said of the game’s enemies, however, which are extremely lethal in the early game.

Overall, I spent a lot more time sneaking around and positioning my forces than I did doing anything meaningful. Exploration was fun, especially on the massive free-exploration maps. But not when I was limited to three saves per map, and had to contend with opaque stealth mechanics along the way. The perks system also left a lot to be desired, with just a handful of options to choose from, limiting my tactical options.

Is Rebel Cops a bad game? Not really, but I wasn’t exactly prepared for the game it ended up being. It’s a strange, morally ambiguous experience about trying to fight for peace in an environment in which I have few of the tools necessary to do so without breaking the law myself. It’s right there in the name, but it certainly wasn’t in the trailers.

Rebel Cops is available now on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. The game was played using a final “retail” download code provided by THQ Nordic. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.


Football Manager 2020 opts for eco-friendly cardboard game cases

Football Manager is a popular PC-only game series, and most copies of popular PC games are distributed online these days. Still, Sports Interactive and Sega are switching to a paper-based form of packaging in order to cut down on plastic waste when Football Manager 2020 launches in November. reported on the series’ new duds yesterday, with Sega quoted as saying the switch will save about 22 metric tons of plastic. If that sounds like a lot, it equals about 360,000 physical copies sold, at 55 grams of plastic per standard case, which is about right for a global best-seller like Football Manager.

The packaging itself is a 100 percent recycled cardboard sleeve, that itself is also recyclable. Yes, there still is shrink wrap, but that will be “fully recyclable low-density polyethylene.” The manual — and, yes, there still are video game instruction manuals! — will use water-based or vegetable-based ink on recycled paper.

“It still looks great. It’s still solid. The disc is still secure,” Miles Jacobson, of Sports Interactive, told “But it has less environmental impact in many different ways. So we’d be stupid not to do it, and if anyone from other games or entertainment companies is reading this, you’d be stupid not to do it too.”

Video games publishers have cut back on packaging over the past decade, as online distribution and in-game tutorials have replaced copies on shelves and chonky instruction manuals. The console makers got the ball rolling in 2009 with “green” game cases that used less plastic by giving the disc panel the TIE Fighter wing look it has now. Ubisoft followed the next year by eliminating printed instruction manuals, and EA Sports followed in 2011 by getting rid of its booklets. With some exceptions (like Football Manager’s manuals) this is pretty much the norm today.


House of X #5 reveals a huge part of Xavier’s plan — the secret behind those pod people

Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz’s House of X opened with a singularly bizarre image: Professor Xavier watching the X-Men hatch naked out of big orange eggs, welcoming them to apparent life with his traditional cry of “To me, my X-Men.”

It was freakin’ weird. And now, with House of X #5, we know what’s actually happening there. And it’s even weirder.

And if you’re wondering whether this has anything to do with what happened to the X-Men in House of X #4, well … read on.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for House of X #4 and #5.]

LtR: Mutants Eva Bell/Tempus, Kevin MacTaggert/Proteus, Hope Summers/Hope, Joshua Foley/Elixir, and Fabio Medina/Goldballs — also known as the Five, in House of X #5, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz/Marvel Comics

We’ve known since the beginning of House of X/Powers of X that Professor Xavier’s plan for the future of mutantkind involves establishing a mutant state and offering citizenship in that nation to any, and all, mutants. But there have been attempts to form mutant nations before, and they have all failed — some of them in the form of mass genocide.

To prevent that from happening this time, Xavier’s plan has a number of other elements, like convincing human nations to recognize mutant sovereignty by offering three life-saving drugs that can only be created by the mutant nation of Krakoa. And also mounting a suicide mission to destroy a sentinel factory on the sun.

And that might seem ambitious enough, to you, but you’re not Charles Xavier. He didn’t come to Krakoa just to prevent mutant genocide. He wants to reverse mutant genocide.

Professor X wants to resurrect 16.5 million mutants

House of X #5 reveals that Krakoa is home to a group of five mutants who, by merging their powers, and with some help from Cerebro, can resurrect any mutant. Composed of some characters quite prominent in X-Men canon — like Hope Summers — and others less so — like Goldballs — the group is known as the Five, and are revered for their role in this mutant future.

Hickman and Larraz use the resurrection of the X-Men strike team that died destroying the sentinel sun base to show the readers how the Five prepare a viable egg, imbue it with a fallen mutant’s DNA — as collected by Mister Sinister’s mutant genetic database — and accelerate the growth of the new mutant body to the age the person was when they died.

Then Professor X steps in and uses Cerebro to imbue this mutant husk with a “backup” mind. Apparently he’s been creating a backup copy of every mutant mind on the planet every week.

Magneto and Xavier discuss resurrecting mutants. Magneto: It must continue until Genosha is spoken of not as a grave, but as a crucible. Xavier: The work will continue until it is done. It is foundational — everything. House of X #5, Marvel Comics (2019). Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz/Marvel Comics

Hell, I only back up my laptop every 15 days.

If there’s any doubt as to whether it’s only the best and brightest of Xavier’s mutants who get a big egg-driven second chance, Charles and Magneto have address the issue head on. The plan is to resurrect the 16.5 million mutants who died when Cassandra Nova destroyed the mutant state of Genosha. And according to the issue’s textual dossiers, Professor X and the Five could get it done in as little as 10 years.

House of X #5 opens with Magneto philosophizing to his daughter Polaris about the nature of society. He says the he and Charles Xavier always wondered what mutants might do if they were able to stop running, hiding, and otherwise responding to humanity’s hatred and fear.

“What would happen,” Magneto muses, “when — like with man — the greatest necessary traits in mutantdom weren’t strength and aggressiveness, but intelligence, ingenuity and creativity?”

Hickman and Larraz’s answer to that question is certainly big.


October’s Pokémon Go Community Day is all about Trapinch

The next Pokémon Go Community Day has been announced for Oct. 12, and it’s going to feature Trapinch, the adorable ground-type Pokémon. The Community Day event will take place from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in your local time.

Trapinch final evolution is Flygon, a ground- and dragon-type. While Flygon isn’t very meta-relevant Pokémon right now, its special Community Day move could change that. Players are already speculating that it could learn the powerful Earth Power move, which would make it a pretty good ground-type attacker. If it does learn a dragon-type move, like Draco Meteor, it’ll be outclassed by other dragon-types, but still worth collecting.

As with all Community Days, the star Pokémon, Trapinch, will be available Shiny at a higher rate. After the Community Day is over, Trapinch will be available Shiny through normal means, though at a much lower rate.

The Community Day will also have tripled catch XP and all lures placed will last for three hours during the event period.

Shiny Trapinch, Vibrava, and Flygon stand next to their Pokémon Go Shiny variants Niantic via Polygon


The Boondocks is coming back on HBO’s new streaming service

The Boondocks is coming back thanks to HBO Max. The upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service has ordered 24 episodes of the animated social satire, and original series creator Aaron McGruder will return for the two new seasons.

McGruder originally created The Boondocks as a comic strip in 1996. McGruder eventually pitched the comic as an animated series which was picked up by Adult Swim for three seasons.

The new series will following self-proclaimed civil rights legend Robert “Granddad” Freeman and his two grandsons Huey and Riley. The family moves to a quiet community in suburban Maryland just as its community government is being taken over by Uncle Ruckus and his bizarre neo-fascist regime.

As part of the announcement McGruder said, “there’s a unique opportunity to revisit the world of The Boondocks and do it over again for today. It’s crazy how different the times we live in are now – both politically and culturally – more than a decade past the original series and two decades past the original newspaper comic. There’s a lot to say and it should be fun.”

McGruder will return to as showrunner for the new seasons of the show, which will be produced along with Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Television. The show’s new season will launch sometime in fall 2020 with a 50-minute special. The original 55 episodes of the series, which originally aired from 2005 to 2010, will be available on HBO Max as soon as the streaming service launches.


Batman coming to Fortnite, data miners say

Leaked images found in the latest Fortnite update suggest Batman, his gear, and his pals are on the way to the battle royale.

A set of six images were uploaded to the Fortnite Battle Royale subreddit this morning images, with others saying more stuff was on the way, too. These include a cape, a Grapnel Gun, a Batarang, new gliders and a new spooky Gotham map.

Other Fortnite-watchers say the update has three encrypted skins, two male and one female, leading to speculation that the Dark Knight will be joined by Batgirl and The Joker.

We’ve reached out to an Epic Games rep to see if they want to spill the beans early. This may join the game before the week is out: Saturday, Sept. 21 is Batman Day worldwide (yes, really), which will see the bat-signal lighting up several major cities as a part of DC Comics’ year-long celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Caped Crusader’s debut.

Fortnite Battle Royale has done several other big-time promos this year, including a limited-time mode for John Wick Chapter 3 — Parabellum’s premiere back in May; a partnernship with Nike’s Jordan brand later that month, and a crossover with Borderlands 3 in advance of that game’s Sept. 13 launch.


PUBG’s next patch will add a new shotgun and a mastery system complete with rewards

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is constantly adding ways for players to make progress outside of the game, and the latest patch is no different. In patch 4.3, PUBG is getting a new progression system called Survival Mastery, as well as a new weapon and a few balance changes.

The new Survival Mastery system will give players another way to earn rewards and make progress from game to game. The system is similar to the weapon progression system that PUBG Corp. added to the game earlier this year, but instead of leveling up your weapons by dealing damage, this time around you progress your Survival Mastery by staying alive. Actions like looting, using items, reviving teammates, and even fighting can all go toward the progression of your Survival Mastery.

This patch will also add the DBS shotgun to the game. It’s a double-barrel, pump-action shotgun that players can only get from care packages. The DBS does massive damage in quick burst, which could make it a useful shotgun even later on in matches. Patch 4.3 is also buffing PUBG’s other shotguns, giving most of them a slight range and damage increase.

PUBG patch 4.3 moves to the PUBG Test Server later this week. Once it’s spent some time on the test server, usually about a week or two, the patch will make it to live servers. To see everything that’s coming to the Test Server version of the patch you can see the notes below.

PUBG Patch 4.3 notes

Survival Mastery

Survival Mastery is a new progression system where players increase levels by gaining XP based on the players’ survival patterns

The system operates all the time without being affected by seasons. The Level cap for Survival Mastery is 500

Players can earn XP in the following situations:

  • Looting
  • Using items during combat
  • Combat
  • Reviving a teammate

Match Summary Timeline

The match summary timeline recaps all survival actions performed in a match

Players can check survival actions they have performed in their previous match in a timeline sequence from Mastery > Last Match Tab

PUBG’s new match summary screen which features a timeline of events in the previous match PUBG Corp.

The activities below will be shown in the timeline, along with other XP earning activities:

  • Landing point
  • Location where players perform certain actions
  • Damage dealt and received
  • Distance a player travels using vehicles
  • Surviving Blue Zone phases

Survival Mastery – PUBG ID

  • A new system where players can express themselves while show their progression and Survival Mastery rewards
  • PUBG ID includes Survival Mastery Level, Player ID, Emblem, Background, and Poses A summary and detailed recap are available
  • Players can view and change from Mastery > Survival tab
  • Players are able to view other player’s PUBG ID in the following case Teammate from the previous match
  • Player you killed and the player who killed you


  • For every 10 levels (5, 15, 25…), players are rewarded an emblem
  • Players can express themselves with various emblems on their PUBG ID


  • For every 10 levels (10, 20, 30…), players are rewarded a background
  • Players can express their identity with different backgrounds on their PUBG ID


  • For every 100 levels (100, 200, 300…), players are rewarded a pose
  • Poses are the highest reward in the system and players can change their pose using the Survivor tab and PUBG ID
  • Player poses utilize the player’s equipped clothing Other skins such as vehicles and weapons aren’t currently utilized for poses

BP Rewards

  • BP will be granted for levels without other rewards

New Weapon: DBS

The DBS is a double barrel pump-action bullpup shotgun that can only be initially obtained from Care Packages

  • DBS has two internal magazine tubes that allow the user to load up to fourteen 12-gauge rounds

Thanks to those combined firing mechanics, DBS can produce massive bursts of damage in a short time span

  • Upper rail of the gun allows a Holographic, Red Dot Sight, and 2x to 6x Scopes
  • Maximum effective range to deal damage with the DBS is 100 m


Improved shotgun consistency Hit probability increased, especially in medium shotgun range

  • Damage drop-off over distance increased
  • Minimum per pellet damage within effective range of each shotgun increased to 4 Except the Sawed-Off, which is 3
  • All shotguns fire 9 pellets total per round

Adjusted shotgun balance

  • All shotgun pellets now use more realistic ballistic curves (speed decrease over time)
  • All shotguns had their recoil effects updated
  • Damage multiplier changes Headshot: From 1.5 to 1.2
  • Torso: From 1.0 to 0.9

S686 Maximum effective range set to 80 m

Increased reload speed by 20%

S1897 Maximum effective range set to 80 m

Pump action speed increased by 20%

Pump action will no longer temporarily un-ADS the player

Sawed-Off Maximum effective range set to 80 m

Maximum increased probability range set to 50 m

Increased number of pellets fired to 9

Decreased damage per pellet from 22 to 20

Duckbill attachment: Pellet spread multiplier increased from 0.8 to 1.0

  • Updated weapon impact effects Both decals and particle effects are now more directional allowing players to better understand the direction shots are coming from
  • Size and characteristics of the effect depend on both the surface being hit and the class of the weapon being fired
  • QoL improvement for healing items while walking
  • Healing items can now be activated while moving and your player will be reduced to walking speed and continue using the item while you move at walking pace

Previously, you had to come to a complete stop to start healing

  • Canted Sight reticle type can now be adjusted, along with brightness, similar to the Red Dot


  • Reduced the volume of the Red Zone
  • Footstep sounds volume and attenuation have been re-balanced
  • Footstep sounds will be more drastically reduced when players move to the outer limit of footstep audible range
  • Different sound effects are played when landing from falling, dependent to the surface material type
  • Made improvements to the ledge-grab sound effects
  • For more information on the sound improvement plans, please go to the following link: Dev Letter: Sound Improvement Plan
  • Added a new song to the Turntable The new song will replace the previous song


  • Minor performance optimizations that will improve FPS in areas where many players are in close proximity to one another
  • Made visual improvements to shadows and enhanced rendering performance
  • Deployed tentative change on the test server mitigating an issue which causes loot to appear late, mainly after landing from your parachute

Dev Note: As this change increases server load, we will closely monitor any potential negative impact this may have to the player experience. We intend to apply this change to live servers with this update if player feedback is positive and the overall server performance impact is negligible. Any changes to this plan will be communicated through the patch notes. Please try the changes on the test servers for yourself and share your feedback.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue where character footsteps cannot be heard when walking backwards against corners of objects
  • Fixed an issue where the smoke UI timer doesn’t sync correctly when the replay is skipped in replay mode
  • Fixed an issue where the Flare Gun firing animation is obscured when in the prone position
  • Fixed an issue where grenade damage in rare situations could be received through objects
  • Fixed an issue where an incorrect kill distance was shown when a disconnected player is killed
  • Fixed an issue where the healing items would be cancelled when pressing Sprint without moving
  • Fixed an issue where UAZ wheels wouldn’t get destroyed after being punched multiple times
  • Fixed an issue where skull icons are incorrectly displayed on the minimap in Simplified Chinese language version
  • Fixed an issue which caused an excessively bright light effect in the side mirror of motorcycles
  • Fixed an issue where players could not be damaged by other players punching them inside vehicles
  • Fixed an issue where parachutes were not displayed in training mode with a fully equipped bag
  • Fixed an issue where players are forcibly removed from training mode when vaulting over a certain wall
  • Fixed an issue where zombie players occasionally appear to be human in zombie mode
  • Fixed an issue where the lung capacity icon does wouldn’t display correctly when holding breath while swimming
  • Fixed an issue which prevented footstep sounds from playing in specific situations when running through certain puddles


The Way of the Househusband uses yakuza action to teach housekeeping skills

The Way of the Househusband, Kousuke Oono’s new manga releases today online and in-store, and it’s the perfect blend of comedy and action. It’s is the delightful story of a powerful former member of the yakuza and his transition to be a stay-at-home husband.

Oono still draws Tatsu as a scary dude. Even though he’s not in the yakuza anymore, he still wears his huge aviator sunglasses, slicks back his hair, and wears suits. His aura is menacing, to say the least, and the people around him can tell what his previous line of work was.

But he’s also doing great work as a househusband, and Oono uses that work to give the reader genuinely helpful housekeeping tips, the best part of The Way of the Househusband. While not every chapter has a good tip, learning how to get out stains using hydrogen peroxide or how to clean in the crevices of your home is a sweet reward to an otherwise still very good manga.

While Way of the Househusband lacks an overarching plot, favoring chapter-long stories instead, it’s a nice, silly pick-me-up manga. Each chapter chronicles a different part of Tatsu’s daily life, from run-ins with former rival yakuza groups to just going to the grocery store to make dinner. His appearance and his way of talking —riddled with yakuza slang — tends to get him in trouble, but by the end of each chapter, a new person realizes how soft and kind Tatsu really is.

His way of completing tasks also tends to get violent, so the manga creates a perfect blend of home living and weird yakuza action, from the occasional chase scene to the wholesome romance between Tatsu and his wife.

The Way of the Househusband is available to buy now in paperback or digital from most book sellers.


The next Total War game is called Troy: A Total War Saga

The next game from Creative Assembly is called Troy: A Total War Saga. The title was unveiled by PC Gamer, which shared an early image of its cover story via Twitter last night.

Creative Assembly is riding high after the success of Total War: Three Kingdoms, which was roundly praised by critics — including here at Polygon — as one of the best games in franchise history. It was unique for a number of reasons, including a dynamic diplomacy system with reactive non-player characters. It also featured two distinct modes of play, one that brought it more in line with the developer’s past historical wargames and another which pushed combat more toward the high-fantasy seen in Total War: Warhammer 2.

Little is known about Troy, other than the PC Gamer cover shared online. It shows what appears to be a bronze statue of two ancient Greek warriors armed with spear and shield. The tagline is “epic battle in a world of gods and monsters.” The subtitle leads us to believe the game will be part of the Total War Saga series, which so far includes Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia and Total War: Fall of the Samurai.

On Twitter, developers are teasing a reveal for 10 a.m. ET tomorrow.