Blood In The Badlands could be subtitled 'the book that came out of nowhere'. With only a week or so 'official' notice before release, we were promised a 'campagin system... [and] rules that can be used in any Warhammer game, from massive multi-player scenarios featuring new magic items and spells, rules for underground battles and a complete siege expansion'. As a side note the blurb says that the book also features that tale of a campaign played out by eight of the GW studio staffers. Now, this is where the major criticism can be laid. Because this is a very misleading sell.
|Get it while you can! (Says the official source...)|
Blood In The Badlands is almost entirely made up of the tale of this studio campaign. It certainly isn't, as an unsuspecting punter might think, what might be called a genuine supplement or expansion. But I actually don't have a problem with this. Effectively this book is like a large, hardback version of White Dwarf, with most of the pieces that don't usually interest me removed. I never buy WD so this is a good thing. And at £20 - which is around the newsstand price of 4 issues of the GW rag - the price is pretty good too.
Aside from the fact that a cynic could take this to be a massive advert for Mighty Empires, Blood In The Badlands is a cracking read. What we get here is the diary of a group of experienced gamers playing narratively deep yet highly competitive linked battles. The rules that are here - for campaigns, underground battles, and sieges - are brief, succinct, and seem to compliment the 8th edition core set perfectly. They introduce a flexible framework and some colour to the game that will hopefully encourage gamers (younger gamers in particular) to develop narrative and fluffy rules around their regular tabletop games. The occasional 'poem' that crops up in honour of a particular army's victory did induce a queasiness akin to reading a love letter written by a soppy teenager, but in general the writing isn't bad.
Some people will moan about the book, and certainly it isn't perfect. For me though, it really strikes a chord. This is what gaming is all about: a generous dose of fluff with a healthy edge of competition. Although why anyone would bother to buy Mighty Empires is still a mystery to me.