Foul creatures skitter and shamble through the wretched places of the earth. Abominations of flesh and bone, barely humanoid in their appearances, turn their yellowed, envious eyes to all others. Filled only with hate and driven by innate desires to destroy, these creatures will put to death any adventuring party brave enough to descend into their lair. Find out what evil is brewing in our Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-Kin Review
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin Review – Summary
Hive of the Ghoul-kin is the best Epic Encounter to date. It contains all the same high-quality content for running your Dungeons and Dragons encounter that one would expect of any Epic Encounters box, it’s the miniatures in Hive of the Ghoul-kin that make the box something truly special.
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin Review – Introduction
We’re back with more of Steramforged Games’ Epic Encounters!
For those of you who missed it, a few weeks ago we sat down with two of SFG’s Epic Encounters boxes – namely Arena of the Undead Horde and Tower of the Lich Empress – and gave them a true-to-form FauxHammer.com top-to-bottom appraisal. We then assembled a squad of D&Ders and took them to one of our favourite gaming venues to give the boxes a proper run-through.
We had an absolute blast. The boxes were great, and a huge amount of fun was had by all.
Well, SFG loved what we did, so they sent us some more boxes to try out! Aren’t they nice?
SFG’s Epic Encounters boxes come in two flavours: Warband boxes and Boss boxes. Warband boxes, like Hive of the Ghoul-kin, are built around encounters with lots of enemies for your party to grapple with. Boss boxes, as you may suspect, instead focus on one large, climactic fight with a much larger enemy.
This time, we’ll be having a look at SFG’s latest Warband box: Hive of the Ghoul-kin.
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin Review – Unboxing
Getting straight into it, then, here’s the Hive of the Ghoul-kin box.
It’s a relatively chunky box, but it’s not so large, nor is it so heavy, that it’ll be cumbersome taking it to and from your games night venue. The box art depicts the Ghoul-kin Brood-Sire, a monster we’ll see more of a little later in this review.
Lifting the lid, this is what we get.
That’s a flyer with more information on other Epic Encounters sets available, the double-sided gaming mat, and the all-important Campaign Booklet. With the exception of the flyer, we’ll have a look mat all of these in more detail shortly.
Setting those to one side, we have our miniatures.
With every Epic Encounters set we’ve looked at here at FauxHammer.com, we’ve always been very impressed by the quality of the packaging. Miniatures and models in these boxes are always very carefully packaged in a cleverly designed plastic case. Their individual slots keep them secure and prevent them from rolling around, however they aren’t so tight in their case that you’ll struggle or damage them when trying to remove them.
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin Review – Contents
Here’s a list of everything up for grabs in the Hive of the Ghoul-kin Epic Encounters box:
- 1 x Campaign Booklet
- 1 x A2-sized double-sided game mat
- 15 x Miniatures
On the surface, this might not look like all that much. There are only three entries on the list above, after all. There are a couple of quite big “howevers”.
The first is that you get no fewer than 15 miniatures. These aren’t low-quality figures covered in mould lines and bereft of details. As we’ll see in a minute, these are some really nice models.
Next up – and most critically, in our opinion – is the quality of the Campaign Booklet, which we’ll analyse now.
You might not think it when you first open up the box, but Hive of the Ghoul-kin’s 40-page Campaign Booklet is the most important resource in the set.
Sure, players and DMs/GMs alike will appreciate the nice map and cool minis when they are on the tabletop. But they would be useless without an adventure to be used with – and Hive of the Ghoul-kin’s Campaign Booklet gives you everything you need to quickly and easily establish your own adventure
That’s the beauty of this booklet. On the one hand, it provides you with all the information you could possibly need to establish your own adventure out of this box and this box alone. Simultaneously, it is not so restrictive (or, to use a D&D term, it doesn’t railroad you) that it denies you the flexibility to make the source material your own.
No part of the book is contingent on any other part of the book. It makes suggestions, and you are free to use as many or as few of them a you want. Forgot to plan tonight’s encounter? No problem, let Hive of the Ghoul-kin take the reins. Alternatively, just want a few background ideas to pad out your 99% complete campaign? Pick and choose what bits suit you from the campaign book.
Absolutely everything has been thought of. The book comes with paragraphs of adventure background and narrative plot hooks to keep players enticed and to ease the pressure on DMs/GMs who may struggle to come up with that sort of thing. There are notes on DCs and Damage to help ensure encounters are challenging to an appropriate degree depending on their levels.
Of course, there are guides on how to use the maps that come with the set, including labelled features the players and the DM/GM can use to keep encounters exciting. And there’s even a (slightly disturbing) table on “Pustules”. The Ghoul-kin are covered in foul buboes that burst when they die and do some horrible things to the player characters.
And, of course, there are stats. Lots of lovely stat tables to ensure that DMs/GMs are able to effectively master the minions of the Ghoul-kin Brood Sire in the defence of their vile home.
The book is excellent, not only as a resource for running a Ghoul-kin-themed campaign, but also as a reference for designing your own encounter. Adapt the headings and ideas in the Hive of the Ghoul-kin Campaign Booklet to suit your own needs.
It’s a brilliant resource, and proof that D&D does not need to be complicated.
The “Wargear” section – the collective name we give to the extras in any box that are all about playing the game they are associated with – for Hive of the Ghoul-kin isn’t a big one.
Aside from the miniatures (which we’ll get to shortly) and the lovely Campaign Booklet, there’s only one other thing in the Hive of the Ghoul-kin Epic Encounter: the double-sided gaming mat.
Each side of the map represents a different named location from the Campaign Booklet. The side above represents the Crypts. The side below depicts the Brood-Sire’s Laboratory.
Each map is clearly printed with lots of environmental details. Some of these pertain to features considered in the Campaign Booklet, so can be interacted with by players and NPCs. There’s plenty of space for players to move around and bits of cover and other obstacles that can be featured in play. Each map is also printed with a grid to guide unit placement.
The only criticism we have of these maps is what they’re made of. Whilst the high-grade, good-quality paper will last a long time provided it’s cared for appropriately, that it is paper does mean it is prone to fold lines – as you can see in the image above. This can cause obstructions during play if the square you want to move into has a ridge in it, and the print along the fold lines is most likely to fray and flake off.
Now we get to the good part.
And this time around, it’s really good.
There are 15 miniatures in the Hive of the Ghoul-kin Epic Encounters box. These come as:
- 8 x Ghoul-kin Reavers
- 2 x Ghoul-kin Stalkers
- 2 x Ghoul-kin Bulwarks
- 2 x Ghoul-kin Coprse-Chewers and Hive-Wardens
- 1 x Ghoul-kin Brood-Sire
Here they all are side-by-side with a trust Space Marine so you can get a sense of their size.
The figures are monopose. This means that all 8 Ghoul-kin Reavers share a sculpt and so-on. At first, this might seem like a bit of a shame (the models are gorgeous, so why not have variant poses?) but as we discovered when playtesting Arena of the Undead Horde, that the figures are all monopose is a huge help to DMs/GMs and players. It’s much easier to tell who is who and what is what at a glance and saves any confusion on the tabletop.
Let’s take a look at each model in turn.
The Ghoul-kin Reaver is the smallest of the models in the Hive of the Ghoul-kin Box – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a deadly adversary.
Poised ready to pounce on its sculpted base, clutching a skull in one hand and with a fat maggot wriggling away at its feet, the Ghoul-kin Reaver sets the tone for the rest of the miniatures in the box almost perfectly.
They remind us a little of the Ghûls from Middle-earth: Shadow of War, for those of you that are familiar. They have a similar low-poised, about-to-swarm energy to them. You get 8 of these in the box, so get ready to swarm your players with a fanged and clawed pack of these foes.
The Ghoul-kin Stalker is quite possibly the most unique model in the Hive of the Ghoul-kin box. A quadrupedal amalgam of stretched skin and razor-sharp spines, the stalker is every bit as deadly as it is creepy. You get two of these terrors in the Hive of the Ghoul-kin box.
There are some lovely details on this miniature, too. Thoughtful placement of stretch and torsion lines on the skin, along with scrapes and scars, adds a real sense of character and movement to these models. With the addition of the sculpted elements on the base, you get a real sense of this creature skittering across rubble, ready to dive from the shadows and strike at the adventuring party at a moment’s notice.
Corpse-Chewer and Ghoul-kin Hive Warden
It’s not very easy to manoeuvre a horse inside an evil subterranean hive full of dead stuff and rotten matter. So, those denizens of the Hive of the Ghoul-kin need to find another way of getting around.
Why not an enormous, slimy worm?
The Ghoul-Kin Hive Warden – a less primitive-looking variant of the Reaver, by the looks – sits astride a heaving Corpse-Chewer. Again, the figure looks great with all the appropriate maggot-y details. Horrible little claw-feet, a chill-inducing stinger, a split maw filled with tusk-like fangs.
These ravenous worms will be a real headache for any adventuring party, as they can climb walls and adhere to ceilings. There are two in the box, so drop a couple of ten-foot-long maggots with goblinoid monsters riding on their backs onto the heads of your party from a shadowy alcove at the top of a cave – I’m sure they’ll thank you for it!
The hulking Ghoul-kin Bulwark is an absolute unit. A lumbering knot of sinewy muscles and talons, this extra-strong, extra-tough monster will be a challenging adversary for any adventuring party. That there are two in the box means they can bring twice the pain.
A titanic behemoth of blood and bone, the Bulwark is a seriously impressive model. Gorilla-like in its silhouette, lurching forwards with its arms raised to strike, it’s an intimidating beast. Its flesh and muscles are very carefully sculpted with great texture to give the model a sinewy, stretched, unnatural feeling.
If not for the miniature we’re about to get to, the Bulwark would be our favourite mini in the box. However, it’s pipped to the post at the last moment by the…
The Ghoul-kin Brood-Sire makes his transition from the artwork on the front of the box and Campaign Book into miniaturised form in supreme style.
This truly disturbing miniature, takes everything that’s made the other figures in the box gross, rolls it into a squelching, blubbery ball, and dials it up to 11.
He’s really, really horrible. Surrounded by snake-like maggots and himself a fusion of distended flesh and crudely-made weapons and armour, the Ghoul-kin Brood-Sire is the ultimate way to finish off this encounter.
He is truly vile. The designer of this miniature has relished placing texture on the flesh of this miniature – stretch-lines and points of tension designed to make onlookers feel as grossed-out as possible. He’s absolutely disgusting – and totally brilliant.
What a selection. As disgusting as they are fantastic, the selection of miniatures in Hive of the Ghoul-kin is excellent. That you get 15 of them is an added bonus.
The Miniatures in the Hive of the Ghoul-kin Epic Encounters box are absolutely excellent. Each is so filled with individuality and malevolence that you expect them top start hopping around the table, trying to bite things.
Someone somewhere had a huge amount of fun designing and sculpting these terrors – and it really shows. Each is a character in itself, and will delight miniature painters and D&Ders on game night alike.
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin Review – Playtesting
As a product of this quality deserves, once again we assembled out team of D&Ders for a couple more sessions and spirited them off to The Games Table in Norwich.
We’ll talk you through the process we undertook to create our encounter using Hive of the Ghoul-kin in our How to Play article, as well as get some feedback from our team of intrepid adventurers.
The long-and-short of the How to Play, though, is that Hive of the Ghoul-kin is absolutely everything you need for a great games night. DMs/GMs are given all the stuff they could want to run their encounter, and those resources will keep players interested and engaged with their adventure.
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin Review – Price and Availability
Straight from Steamforged Games’ webstore, Hive of the Ghoul-kin will set you back £54.99GBP, $54.99USD, or €54.95EUR.
For a set that contains everything you need to run a super Dungeons and Dragons encounter (and perhaps expand it into a longer adventure) and furnishes you with 15 awesome miniatures you can paint, Hive of the Ghoul-kin is an absolute steal.
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin Review – Where to Next?
After Hive of the Ghoul-kin, there’s only one place you really can go. Grab yourself a copy of Barrow of the Corpse Crawler – the Boss box that accompanied the Hive og the Ghoul-kin Warband box.
Venture deeper into the fell crypts of the Ghoul-kin and see what else awaits you there (note, it’s quite large, pretty gross, and not very pleased to see you).
We would also strongly recommend Arena of the Undead Horde and Tower of the Lich Empress. If you’re running an undead-themed campaign into which Hive of the Ghoul-kin can fit, you’ll likely be able to make great use of these boxes too.
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin Review – Final Thoughts
Excellent resources for DMs
Helpful Campaign Book that is both insightful and flexible
Can be run as one-shot adventure or as part of larger campaign
|Paper mats are prone to fold lines|
After our previous stints with Arena of the Undead Horde and Tower of the Lich Empress, I had been concerned that the bar had been set too high. These boxes were superb, bursting at the seams with hours of content and a thousand ways to make your D&D session one to remember. How could anything else possibly come close to being as good?
Well, with surprising ease, in fact.
By sticking close to the tried-and-tested formula, but with a few thematic twists and turns to keep things fresh and exciting, Hive of the Ghoul-kin solidifies its place as an appropriately epic entry in the Epic Encounters series. Once again, it has everything a Dungeons and Dragons group needs for their game night: detailed maps, fantastic miniatures, and a boatload of ways to play the encounter.
Once again, excellent.