So 'Blood in the Bandlands' is a new Warhammer book from Games Workshop, it's a bit different from their usual offerings, it's not an armies book nor a full blown rules supplement. It's what they call a campaign book, which turns out to a mix of a giant white dwarf article with some new rules sprinkled across it.
The book itself is 96 pages long, is hardback and in full colour throughout, if you have storm of magic or one of the new army books you will know what to expect. It's all very pretty, lots of model eyecandy and I really like the cover artwork too, I have no issues with the quality of the book itself and in fact am really pleased with it.
The book starts with an introduction (unsurprisingly) and then breifly moves on to the background for the campaign (a quest for a flying castle stuffed full of treasures essentially) and gives a couple of pages of info on the geography of the badlands themselves.
Then we have 8 pages that are the rules for the campaign. They use a tiled mighty empires map, but any map with territories marked would work I think, they suggest buying mighty empires, but I don't think its nessacery. Again the rules are designed for this specific camapaign, but could easily be transplanted into another setting. The campaign resolves around seasons with a special scenario (in the campaign section of the book, coming up) at the end of each season, the winner of which gets special bonuses, and the winner of the winter scenario wins the whole campaign, this I think is a nice twist as it gives you 4 big event nights over the course of the campaign. The campaign in the book had 8 players and I think you'd need at least 6 for it to work properly.
The main section of the book comes next describing the campaign as fought by the studio staff, it starts with a description of the armies and then moves through the story of the campaign. The end of season scenarios are in this section and are each followed by a mini-battlereport describing how it went for the studio players. This really is the bulk of the book, and is the sort of thing you'd find in white dwarf, whilst I quite liked it I can see some poeple being disapointed by the amount of space dedicated to it.
Towards the end of the campaign section are the new rules for underground battles, which to be honest aren't that different from normal battles, just with a couple of twists. What is interesting is that it also features a mini-campaign with the skaven trying to take the dwarf hold of Barak Varr, and includes 5 scenarios with interesting set-up rules and odd table shapes. I'm relaly hoping to get a chance to try these out.
Tucked away at the end are a few pages describing updated rules for playing seiges and using seige equiment. They're a lot simpler than the last version of the seige rules and look a lot of fun. I reckon that their inclusion will be a major selling point for a lot of players.
Mine was a gift but it clocks in at £20 at list price, I think it's a little steep, but not horrendus, I'd have liked to see it at the £15 mark really I think.
So how will I use this book? I'm unlikley to go for a full campaign, as I don't have enough regular opponents, but will definately be using the siege and underground rules, and I will probaly try some of the end of season scenarios as stand alone games as well. Also it's a nice book to have on the shelf (the collector in me kicking in again).
So in conclusion, I think its a bit pricey, but I like it, although I don't think it will for everybody, but conversly everybody ought to be able to take something from it, if you find this under the christmas tree I doubt you'll be too disappointed, but if you're going out to buy a rulebook be wary, there is more fluff than rules, if you like fluff however this is well done.