Epic Encounters: Hall of the Orc King

I’m always on the lookout for cool gaming modules, especially when they’re based around D&D or Warhammer. When I saw the Epic Encounters range from Steamforged Games, I had to try one for myself.

Epic Encounters contain a set of linked encounters designed as one-shot adventures or bolt-ons to existing Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. The box has everything you need, including detailed battle maps and miniatures. Given the quality of the miniatures, the value for money is exceptional. I started with the Hall of the Orc King box, firstly because the adventure sounded like great fun, and because I’d been looking for orc miniatures in this style for ages. Also, it was on offer for an absolute steal at Amazon.

The Encounters

A variety of set encounters are spread across two battle maps, each with evocative artwork showing the terrain and points of interest. Having multiple encounters on the same map concerned me at first, expecting that when fighting one group of orcs, what’s stopping you from drawing the attention of the other groups? That’s all been accounted for in various creative ways which fit the theme. Weather effects, line of sight blocking terrain, and other distractions all help keep things separate. Of course, players are players, and if they absolutely insist of pulling all the encounters at once, they can find a way to do that too.

Narrative and atmosphere are always top of my list when it comes to D&D, and this doesn’t disappoint. The whole adventure feels very orcish. Everything has a reason for why it’s there, keeping full immersion with the theme.

I would have liked to see some guidance on what party level this is aimed for, just to have that information at a glance. All the enemy profiles and challenge ratings are in the book, however, and difficulty check ratings scale with the party, so it’s possible to work out how deadly the encounters are.

The Miniatures

The quality of the sculpts is exceptional, especially considering there’s no assembly required. Even though they’re softer plastic than, say, something from Games Workshop, the detail is good and there were no broken or bent components in my set, as is often the case with board game style single piece miniatures. Even if you’re not using them for D&D, I can see these being popular with painters and for use in other game systems.

The scale is larger than more usual D&D miniatures. Bases are around 32mm which is slightly bigger than the 25mm squares on the battle maps, the same as the Pathfinder maps (which most DMs I know use). It’s not a huge problem though, and easy enough to work around. You might just imagine that the orcs you’re facing are particularly bulky.

Overall

I could fill my house with these sets. Production quality is high, the miniatures are characterful, and the adventure is immersive. I’ll be buying more in the future. While these encounter sets work perfectly well on their own, they tend to come in pairs. The general pattern is that you’ll get a set like this with minions and a mini boss, then there will be a separate encounter box with a single, larger foe. In this case, clearing the Hall of the Orc King leads you to the Caverns of the Frost Giant.

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