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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Empire of the Dead Thoughts on the Rules

I began this blog to chronicle my adventures playing Empire of the Dead by West Wind Productions this game received a smattering of press when it came out over two years ago but it didn't gain traction until West Wind's kickstarter Requiem. The Lunatic and I bought 2 rule books and all the box sets when it first came out. I think the game gained a lot of followers during the kickstarter that had lots and lots of shinny new models for Gothic Victorian Games. Then the promised additional rule book was released to the kickstarter backers.
This ebook took the wind out of the EOTD sails (no pirate pun intended) and nearly all the EOTD bloggers lost interest. I say nearly because there is one left (perhaps I'm the only one) who still thinks the core rules are a well balanced fun game.

Why did this happen? Let me come right out and ruffle a few feathers here and say kickstarter. Kickstarter is the land of broken dreams, Requiem's successful run guaranteed the failure of the supplemental rules book. The kickstarter was supposed to fund a bunch of new models including a whole line of vehicles for the game and rules to use those vehicles in the game. But as the kickstarter gained momentum shinny syndrome took over. All sorts of crazy faction sets suddenly sprang up to be unlocked by eager backers; the Bedlam Brotherhood, the complete cast of the novel Dracula, Nemonians, did anyone really think these would be playable factions that could fit into a campaign with the existing factions? 

Let me take a moment to talk about the strengths of the game which to me is the ability to play a Mordheim or Necromunda style campaign with Gothic Horror factions; werewolves, vampires, religious wackjobs and gentlemen. The factions are reasonably balance and they have a number of interesting growth options. The core rules bring out that great experience. The only fault I have with them is their archaic IGO YOUGO activation system but that can be easily fixed.

There are still useful things in the Compenduim the vehicle rules are workable and there are two factions that could be incorporated into a general campaign. Special Branch and Criminal Gangs.
Now I haven't played with a criminal gang yet so I don't know how useful the various character types are in a game and only two affiliations Criminal Mastermind and the Tongs are usable. The Street Gang affiliation is total rubbish.  The Special Branch on the other hand should work just fine with the original factions. So in the near future when the people get over their kickstarter blues I hope they'll give the game another go.

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