In the closing months of 2012 a campaign book titled ‘crusade of fire’ was released by games workshop for its warhammer 40k game. At first glance it’s not too dissimilar to the book ‘blood in the badlands’ that was released late in 2011. It revolves around the use of the currently selling planetary empires campaign set that you can buy from them. But let’s have a deeper look into the book, without cynically suggesting that it’s just a way to raise sales on a rather specialist item.
So what is the crusade of fire about? Well I can break down the content of the book down into 3 rather broad categories: Background, campaign, and additional rules. These could be broken down further but I feel it gets the job done this way. This review will look over those 3 sections; explain what they consist of and my opinions of them.
The story behind the crusade of fire is quite a simple premise, but that’s by no means a bad thing. Often over complicating a story can make it slow, confusing and can add a layer of detail that’s not needed. So what’s the story behind crusade of fire?
The Corvus sub-sector has been trapped inside a warp storm called the raven’s eye for 1000 years. The storm has finally started to dissipate, slowly, revealing the outer planets at first, but the inter planets appear out of the maelstrom in time. When it was first realised this was happening a fleet was sent to judge the inhabitants and see if they were able to be reintegrated into imperial life. Of course this wasn’t the case, and as soon as they arrived a chaos fleet attacked, as the sector was held by chaos (well who else would survive in a warp storm?). That’s just the basic story of the campaign; more information is given on each planet of the sector and each of its moons. What caused the warp storm is divulged (a conflict between Nurgle and tzneetch as it turn out after cultists take control).
Now reading over the fluff it’s far from ground braking but it sets the scene enough as to introduce the campaign. If the writing was for a fully fledged book I would complain, I would say it was rubbish, but as it’s just for getting you caught up into what’s happened its fine. Just don’t expect to find anything amazing in this section, it’s just average. But that’s not why you buy it though is it?
The main reason why you pick up a campaign book is well... the campaign. As I said before, its a lot like the fantasy campaign book ‘blood in the badlands’. And well, that’s not a good thing in my opinion. It gives you a little 4 page rules section for the campaign which gives you very broad rules which quite frankly disappoint me. The campaign is broken down into turns and each turn you fight as many battles as you want... it hardly rocket science. I know keeping rules simple will help ease the campaign, stop confusion and keep it fast and not bogged down with detail... but you need a little more in my opinion than just ‘do what you want’. You get a few extra benefits from having certain locations on the map but I'm just disappointed with it.
The rest of the campaign section is a review of the players and armies used in the campaign run by the fellows at games workshop when they did it. While this is rather interesting seeing some armies painted by none eavy metal team, it does bother me that two of the armies are and they try to pass them off as their own (now if they did paint them... well done, but I doubt it). I just enjoy seeing peoples fully painted armies; it makes me feel better that I'm not a perfect painter I guess. Then it carries on about the high lights of their campaign. It’s an average read but doesn’t add to the book all that much, bar adding pictures and pages.
Finally a few additional extra scenarios are added to recreate certain points in the campaign, such as taking the space station ‘voidspan’ which adds extra rules for fighting in the void (I’m sure I have seen these on the forgeworld site). Some more rules which I have never seen such as blowing people off the station with blast weapons were added as well. It does add a little something extra. Another scenario is fighting in a bunker (but they just use the zone mortalis rules) which I think is brilliant. It’s just a great little few things which add extra detail to your games.
Overall this section is rather disappointing, and I wish it had more to it, not just this is what we did. Maybe some more rules or things to do on a campaign map. I would have loved it if they had additional abilities for each race that took part but that’s just me. The rules that I did enjoy where the extra scenarios, anything that adds more to the game is great, but it just didn’t have enough.
And the final part of the book, the additional rules, now these can be combined with the campaign but it’s not really necessary if you don’t want to. The 3 sections of additional rules are: Dog Fights, Daemon worlds and Arena of death (fighting in a commongrath area).
Starting with dog fighting, its an extra way for your fighters to interact on the battle field. This is a special interaction that only flyers can do, braking down into 3 sub sections, pursuit, lock on and destroy. Each of these sections is based around picking 1 of 3 actions and seeing how they interact, its an interesting way of changing how flyers shoot each other down. I personally think its a bad way to try and fix a issue with the current rules I feel. What I mean about this is that flyers can just sky fire one another with no issue. This I believe is wrong, I would have rather have had flyers designed to take out other flyers and others designed to take on ground units. With could have been solved with not giving every flyer skyfire, just the ones which are designed to do it. It’s just a little pet hate of mine. It would add more to the game, if you took something like a vendetta, which I see as more of a anti-tank gun ship, not an agile dog fighter which takes out flyers. I just don’t see how every flyer has the agility and technology to hit a target flying at a million miles an hour while travelling at that very speed. So yer... back on topic, the rules are quite poor I feel. It also adds special manoeuvres for each army which is good to be honest (but it has rules for space wolves... please tell me what flyer they have?).
Daemon worlds is next, this is a little more useful as its a set of rules of the whole battle field and adds extra rules and abilities for each unit. Units can get possessed by daemons, gain the gift of a chaos god or just hazards for being on such a damned planet. What I do like about this is a few races have special rules, the grey knights can’t get possessed and will kill allies who do. The eldar spirit stones help then a little and chaos don’t really care. It’s all good. This is a lot better than the dog fighter rules, and I would defiantly have a few games of this.
Finally the arena of death, this is a totally different game, a mini game if you wiil. You have a team of 150 points and fight it out normally bar the combat phase. Instead of just rolling normally you have a hand of cards to pick what you do in the combat phase. I like this idea as it adds more a little more detail. You get abilities like dodging, lunging, hail of blows or just opening up with your gun. I would like to try this out but don’t expect it to catch on.
In summery I would say this book is not really worth it, very little information or rules and it just feels like it had so much potential but just doesn’t live up. While it was very well put together, a lot of good art work, the sections look the part with well designed pages, but I just can’t excuse the content. I must say it’s a disappointed for the prince. I would much have preferred a proper campaign with actual rules which effected how you can attack sectors, what missions you can do from it and how it can affect the rest of the battles. Not just fight as much as you like. The additional rules were ok, they add a bit more to the book but I don’t feel it’s all that great. If next year they do something like this again (which the probably will) I just hope that they put a lot more effort into it instead of just pretty pictures. Content matters, and if its this bad, people are going to spot buying it.