Well there we go, the campaign is run. Evil failed to stop Frodod chucking the ring in, but some small parts of the history were successfully undermined.

Here’s what I thought of the book overall…

The Campaign

Great idea, with patchy execution. The campaign is simple – it’s just a series of battles – and the reward system is also simple; win a game, get a bonus in a future game. There are no trees or tables to negotiate like the campaigns of old.

However, the quality is inconsistent. The battles come in two varietes. The vast majority are reasonably standard battles with objective twists (eliminate a certain model, seize objectives, get off the board etc). These are mostly fine – but quite a few of them have been written seemingly to massively favour one side or the other. The reason is the lore; certain battles were overwhemingly won by one side and this is why those scenarios are weighted that way – think of the Army of the Dead storming onto the quayside – but it unfortunately renders some of the battles in this book almost pointless. You know 95% sometimes which side is going to get smashed, and it always played out that way – so we came away with a sense of a wasted couple of hours at times. Going through the motions… not, in my opinion, what wargames are about.

Having said that, plenty of the rest of them were balanced much better. There were some close games here and there, and this is where it came alive a bit more – because having the outcome in the balance is what a wargame is supposed to do in my opinion.

The second type of scenario in the book (and the minority) are what I call the Comedy Mini Games. These involve card and dice based whack a mole type deals, through to trying to have a battle on the back of a Mumak model. These were generally poor. They looked kind of fun at first reading – but almost without fail, when we actually played them, they were either fundamentally faulty or so lightweight as to be not worth it. I heavily suspect that these were stuffed in to bulk the book out – and they do not feel like they’ve been playtested.

The New Characters

These are all great. The downside is you have to buy this book to get their rules (as far as I can tell).

The New Army Lists

These are the best thing in the book for me. The lists are thematic, and in some cases probably borderline overpowered. Who doesn’t like a bit of that to disrupt a game a bit..!

Overall

The book is not bad for the price but could have done with a little more sheen on some of the campaign details. There seem to be a series of these coming out now, and for me personally, I’ll only pick another one up if it features a faction I’m heavily into. So, not an essential purchase for me by any means. Having said that, if the storyline covered is what you’re into, and you can forgive the flaws, you will get many hours out of wading through the campaign.
-Pete

27. The Black Gate