First off I was very gutted over the past weekend as I had been offered the chance to go to Salute for the very first time….for FREE!!! I had however got prior arrangements to run the Saturday Club for Portal Wargaming. This would mean that not only would I miss out on the 40th celebration for Salute and the chance to see all the shiny stuff, but would also miss out on my West Wind Goodies for Empire of the Dead and a Demo Game of what is fast becoming a BIG distraction for me in 2012 from my New Years Hobby Resolution!
So fast forward to Monday Night I get a text from my good friend and fellow club member Ian Hill telling me that he had picked up the clubs order for Empire of the Dead!!!
Just Like Christmas outside arose such a clatter, so I ran to the door to see what was the matter, to find: a jolly Ian carrying a box with the sign of West Wind!
Having been paid a visit from the Santa of Salute, Ian Hill, I hurriedly opened the box and sorted out my goodies: A Rulebook, a Professor Erazmus, a Lycaon Faction Box and Mr Chops – The Demon Butcher (so cool!!) I sat down and flicked through the Rulebook to get a feel for the game and this is what I thought.
The Book Itself:
The Book is a Hardback book with full colour pages throughout, the page count clocks in at the 152 mark if you include the pages of templates and tokens provided. The Cost of £30rrp puts it in the average cost for a Miniatures Game Rulebook and you get the special Limited Edition Professor Erazmus (as pictured above).
Pages 4-21 – Introduction to the World of Empire of the Dead - This is really well written and leads you through the setting for the age as well as a story set out in the form of a Diary from the perspective of a Gentleman’s Gentleman and his encounters with the Supernatural
Pages 22-53 – The Game Mechanics - This too is well written and is clear and precise throughout with a good amount of full colour diagrams for clarification as well as examples of how the rules work. The game isn’t overly complex in its approach to rules and borrows some of my favourite bits from the Secrets of the Third Reich Rules (Tweaked of course) a nod to West Winds other Weird Historical game! Particularly like the rule for climbing and assisting and then of course what happens if you fall!!! In this section is also a brilliant Arcane Powers Section which is small and concise, broken down into Passive and Aggressive Powers. Just like in Secrets of the Third Reich this game utilises the wound chart which tells you how severely your model is wounded so even 1 wound models can get knocked down and then recover enough to get back up an continue in the fight!
Pages 54-86 – Starting a Faction - This gives you the basic troops, leaders and heroes for your faction of choice as well as the description and backgrounds of the different factions. It is worth noting that the Gentleman’s Club can have different allegiances and so an Evil Gentleman’s Club can raise Zombies! It also includes Wulfen Jaeger & Zendarian Factions which are not in the initial release of boxes but can be bought from the Vampire Wars Gothic Horror Range. This section also includes rules for the different types of weaponry in the game including stuff like Steam Gyrocopter, Possessed Weapons, Lighting Field Generator and the Man Portable Gattling Gun.
Pages 118-127 – Campaign Rules - This is by far my favourite section of the Rules. It is a well thought out yet simple way for you to play several linked games to form a story for a campaign that allows the development of your faction. Filled with benefits and injuries and the unhinged rule! You can also get arrested by the peelers or even visit the pawn broker! This makes for very fun games in a mordheim-esque kinda way!
Pages 29-135 – Skill Definitions
Pages 136-139 – Influences and Unusual Occurences - This section allows you to spend part of your factions build cost (in Shillings of course!) to buy influences to help to change the game, this includes Full Moon, Solar Eclipse, etc.
Pages 140-143 – Getting Started - Looks at the Faction boxed sets from West Wind as well as a look at the New Recruits (special Characters) that can be hired (downloadable content to follow)
Pages 144-145 – Classic Vampire Wars - A List of products available from the Classic Vampire Wars Gothic Horror Game that you could use to build or flesh out you games of Empire of the Dead.
Pages 147-150 – Templates and Tokens - Some REALLY nice looking Templates in this Section for you to copy and use!
Page 151 – Thanks
Page 152 – Useful Tables - a Quick Reference Guide
Ok I now have the chance to sit down and look at the miniatures that the Santa of Salute bought me. So looking at the faction box for the Lycaon (the Werewofl Faction) I get a good Selection of models in there, a Leader Werewolf, a Hero Werewolf, 4 Wolfskin (one with throwing weapond, 1 with a bow, 1 with a crossbow and one with the Claws for the Wulfen) and 2 wolf models. The Sculpts and casts are really good, I wasn’t sold on the Werewolf Leader or Hero model at first but realised it looks like they are from the wolfman film! The Starting Crew size is 150 Shillings and after equipment i found I had one model over so can’t grumble!
I REALLY like the look of this game and more so after reading through the rules and noticing the Campaign Rules which I think are AWESOME! I can’t wait to get a game in with Ian (hopefully on Wednesday) so will let you know how it plays through! The Miniatures look like they will be good to paint as well so look out for more stuff from me about Empire of the Dead in the coming weeks!