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The Wrath And Glory Starter Set Lets You Purge A Little Heresy, As A Treat

An excellent introduction to the 40K universe.


Game worlds like Warhammer 40,000 operate under a double edged sword. On the one hand, the world of Warhammer has decades of lore and history to discover. On the other hand, mountains of information can be intimidating for new players to figure out where to start. The key for an introductory product like the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay: Wrath And Glory Starter Set is to give new players just enough information to get them intrigued but not to dump too much to get them bogged down in specifics. Designers Chris Colston, Oliver Darkshire, Michael Duxbury, Chant Evans, Eleanor Hingley, Elaine Lithgow, and Pádraig Murphy had to figure out how to strike this balance with two books, some rules handouts, punch-out tokens and some dice. Did the review copy sent to me by Cubicle 7 pass the purity test? Let’s play to find out.

This Starter Set is completely different from the one released by Ulisses Spiele when the game was released under its banner a few years ago. I won’t get into a step by step comparison as certain things improved, such as a much sturdier box while other things degraded like cardboard tokens instead of acrylics. This starter set has a better grasp of the game Wrath & Glory is, as the first box featured a prison break adventure with a tactical map that wasn;t a great fit for Wrath & Glory’s zone based narrative combat. The character sheets in this set feature the gatefold style that Cubicle 7 used in their other Warhammer boxes which I love. It really makes the presentation pop while explaining the essential to new players. I do wish there was a map included. The adventure centers around a ship called The Herald Varonius and should it survive the introductory tale can be used as a base of operations for the players. That would be helpful in the adventure but also a nice bit of decoration as a table map whenever game night rolls around.

Before we get into the adventure, I want to discuss the setting book that accompanies the box. Wrath & Glory takes place in Gilead Sector, a new sector created for the RPG that’s cut off from the greater Imperium by a massive warp storm. It’s an interesting choice because it gives Cubicle 7 and Game Masters everything you need in the setting in a condensed version without necessarily having to worry about big changes coming in from Games Workshop. The Varonius Flotilla is a group of Rogue Trader ships that braved the storm to bring much needed supplies and, of course, intrigue. Rogue Traders don’t risk their fleets without expecting a big payoff and the book goes into the different captains and their factions to hint at what each one thinks they’ll get out of this dangerous mission. This book helps tells Game Masters how this game stands out from the miniatures game. The Imperium is rife with intrigue and players will need to step carefully as they decide how they want to help the empire and, more importantly, their own reputations.

Spoilers for Traitor’s Hymn follow. This Starter Set is an excellent introduction to the 40K universe, though players already familiar with 40K might want to skip directly to the core book for maximum cross faction play.

The included adventure, Traitors Hymn, offers a sample of the two main elements of Wrath & Glory play: Sinister intrigue and blowing away mutant heretics. I was shocked to see the adventure begin at a fancy dinner party aboard a Rogue Trader vessel. Here, the players have brief flashbacks that not only teach them the basic mechanics but also affect who shows up later in the adventure. It’s a bold move for a game set in a universe where there is only war but I liked how it helped to connect the characters to the game and started the drip feed of lore. Soon, however, the action horror begins as the ship is cast into the warp with the players in charge of repairing the malfunctioning shields that keep the horrors of the warp out during faster than light travel. The adventure is linear with a few decision points and each new encounter includes the rules needed for that scene taught as they go. The box also includes rules handouts and explainers to cut down on page flipping.

My main complaint with the story is that some of the choices feel like they have little impact. Some of the flashbacks hit harder than others; some alter a scene completely while others feel like a character is just added in the background. The structure also means that adapting the box to a campaign with original characters is difficult. Players who want some heavy backstory off the bat can help the Game Master fit new characters, while others who like to discover their characters in play might not integrate as well.

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

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