Took delivery on ‘Blood in the Badlands’ on pre-order, here at Warped Reality, now we’ve had chance to give it a good reading, and while stuffed on the usual mince pies for this time of year, figured I’d sit down & treat you all to my thoughts on it…
What is it?
“Blood in the Badlands is a campaign system for Warhammer that enables you to unleash your army against your foes and carve out a corner of the notorious Badlands for yourself. As well as the campaign system itself, the book contains rules that can be used in any Warhammer game, form massive multi-player scenarios featuring new magic items and spells, rules for underground battles and a complete siege expansion. Blood in the Badlands also features the tale of eight intrepid hobbyists as they play the campaign, including detailed battle reports, glorious army showcases and turn-by-turn accounts of their expanding empires.
This 96-page full-colour hardback Warhammer Supplement contains rules for siege battles in Warhammer, underground battles, new scenarios, magic items and Cataclysm spells. It also has a full set of rules that can be used with the Mighty Empires expansion set. ”
What is it actually?
Essentially, it’s the story of a studio campaign, how it was planned, the armies in it, and additional ‘homebrew’ rules for both underground battles and Siege battles.
Starts out with a description of the badlands – the campaign map and the forces arrayed, and also the overall aim of the campaign. Which in itself, is a nice change from the ‘grab as much land as you can’ type of campaign to ‘grab as much land as you can to increase your chances of snagging the floating treasure-laden castle when it lands’ – A small, but nice twist.
Obviously, it suggests you use the GW ‘Mighty Empires’ tileset for the map,
But it could be adapted to any territory based system with a few tweaks to the terrain types.
Though to be honest, I quite like the mighty empire tileset myself, its fairly robust and versatile (Heh.. tile.. geddit??).
To be fair, the last hex based map system I had was the original Mighty empires, and after a LOT of play, the card hexes for that were getting distinctly dog-eared
It also shows the various forces & the players for each – generally with a page of pics, introduction & fluff.
In particular I liked this section as, like the majority of pics through the books it shows armies that are not the studio armies and painted by the relevant players.
Recently(ish) I’ve been finding myself liking the studio paintjobs less & less –
Technically they are excellent jobs, but personally I find them to clean, too cartoony. To me, one of the worst offenders is the savage orcs from the Orc & Goblin army book – they have been highlighted with line highlights – normally used for hard, sharp edges… Fine for armour, but muscle?? Nah… Plus I find the green on them too bright, but that’s personal preference for you…
Read the army section & all the army pics scattered through actually made me feel a little more confident in my own painting, and as well as the return of the Blanchitsu* column in UK White Dward 384 & the comments there have actually helped it sink in, that my own painting style is fine.
Anyhow, moving on…
The Badlands campaign essentially culminates in a major battle for each of the 4 seasons (Overall, the campain takes a year) each with a special scenario with a few special rules for it. One of the aspects I like, is the armies, while having markers are not fixed in composition or size (As they were in the original Mighty empires, and one of the reasons, it only ever got played as stand alone) with the exception of a specific hero leading each force.
Different tiles in the map give specific bonuses, which also gives more reason to go out & claim the things too
After the 4 seasons have elapsed, there is one almighty great punch-up (Seriously, 7 players & 2 tables….) over who gets to take possession of the floating castle & it’s treasures.
Special scenario rules included are multi-way battles, including some out-of-the-ordinary battlefield layouts, (Representing narrow canyons/tunnels etc)
The underground fighting rules, I liked, but at the same time, I’d be a bit harsher on the troops – add in no flying troops, nothing larger than 40mm based troops for really low tunnels, no chariots and nothing that fires in a ballistic arc (Stone throwers doom divers, rockets, hell cannon etc) as well as possibly bringing in a variant on the old night-fighting rules from 40k to represent really claustrophobic, cramped tunnels
The little Gem in it for me, was the siege rules, written by Jervis Johnson – Now, these peeked my interest as I like the idea of running Siege games, but the astonishing complexity of the Warhammer Siege rules from 3rd ed (I’ve got a copy) are ridiculous (And that’s from someone with rose-tinted glasses about 3rd ed & rogue trader). The ones in Badlands both fit nicely with the 8th ed Core rules, and add an extra option for writing scenarios.
Overall, I like the book. Iit is a beautifully produced hardback with full-colour all the way through (Same style as the main rulebook, Storm of Magic and the new Army Books), which means that they will last a little longer than the softbacks,and look nice on the shelf. (Handy given we keep ours on a bookshelf in the main lounge – Hey, we’re proud of being geeks! )
It also shows what can be achieved with a little thinking about the scenarios, campaigns and home-brewed rules to make it more than just ‘line & up & roll the dice’. In particular, I liked the little mini-campaign (Complete with own map) to represent the Skaven assault on the Dwarfhold of Barak-Var
*Blanchitsu: Was a column written by John Blanche in White Dwarf waaaay back when (Earliest WD I can lay my hands on at the me is 98, and its in there) essentially encouraging people to find their own painting style & just well.. enjoy themselves
** Yes, I said Great Unclean One, not Lord of change – I’m going back to my original (And I mean about 1990) chaos power choice as I feel it encompases my painting style more (And, incidentally, Nurgle type colour schemes mix well with the livery chosen for my Chaos Astartes *link*.. Heck…. I even painted & Entered one of the original Nurgle Chaos renegades (essentially Proto Plague Marine) into the 1990 or 1991 (I forget which to be honest) Golden Demon.. Oh How I thought I could win…