I got mine last week and have put it together. I preordered it at brickworld in June. No shipping cost either due to the purchase at brickworld.
(sweet) The black piece that comes with the dark wizards staff is indeed a black lightsaber hilt and not just a pair of skateboard wheels like previous chess sets. He is holding the fire in his hand so he is smaller for storage purposes. I put the fire on his staff once I pulled him out of the packaging.
You are able to store the board assembled in its original box. However you will have to cut the cardboard box that the extra building pieces came in. Since this box is attached below the plastic area where the figures are stored it is hidden and not seen anyway. I don't know why they screwed this up. It is strange that they would expect people to accurately cut a box like that. Unless you are supposed to remove the box all together? If anyone contacts lego it would sure be helpful to post a solutuion here.
As has been said there is a plethora of gear and very useful castle building parts. I absolutely love this set and will keep it built and on display. I plan on getting more if they ever go on sale for parting them out.