Review: Osprey Publishing – Orc Warfare

Orc Warfare
Orc Warfare is a fantasy reference book, written by Chris Pramas and published by Osprey Publishing.
By Cape Rust

Learn more about Orc Warfare here
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Sun Tzu said know yourself and know your enemy and you will be the victor in 1,000 Battles. Orc Warfare (Open Book Adventures) give us an insight into one of the most prolific and iconic fantasy “bad guy” species out there. Orcs are born and bred to fight because of this they tend to be lacking in social graces. They are widely known as a loathsome violent species that is only good at killing or dying. Even with their tendency towards infighting and screwing one another over, when forming a hoard army they become a synergistic threat that will consume everything in its path. This book studies how Orcs conduct warfare as individuals, in small warbands and as vast hoards. This book discusses tactics, technology and troop dispositions of Orc fighters. This book ends with some of the key battles and tactics employed by Orcs in the past.

It is not a stretch to say that Osprey Publishing is one of the world’s leaders when it comes to Military books. Osprey has shown a willingness to branch off into the fantasy realm as well. Their hugely successful Myths and Legends series and now Orc Warfare. You would think that a company with Osprey’s reputation might be a bit tongue and cheek about writing a book on a mythical species, but they were not. They found great art and hired Chris Pramas a well-known and very successful Author in the RPG and fantasy realm.

Having served in the U.S. Army and being a fan of Military History and being an avid gamer, this book appealed to me on many levels before I even opened it. Add Pramas’ name into the mix and I knew I couldn’t go wrong. Most books that I read about Orcs base themselves on a very Dungeons & Dragons centric view of this race. Pramas strayed from it and I enjoyed seeing his take on Orcs. Please understand that his spin on Orcs didn’t depart from the standards so much that it will ruin your view of Orcs or that this book will not be a great resource for expanding Orc roles in your future games, but it isn’t just a regurgitation of stuff that you could get in a Monster Manuel or Bestiary.

This book loosely follows Ospreys normal format for books that cover real world armies. I say loosely because there were a few points where I actually wish they had treated it just like the other books about armies that they produce. I really wish that they had stuck to the exact formula that they normally use, as wonderful as this book is, that would have increased the cool factor by 10. The Historical battles section at the end was great, it had that Osprey feel but reeked of classic Parmas. The coolness of the battlefield examples was heated up by the fact that there were no maps depicting the troop movements, positioning or disposition. This would have been the case in other Osprey books and would have made this outstanding product feel even more genuine.

The illustrations were great, often people only get one or two great pictures of races like Orcs, in this book the different types of Orcs were showcased and some of the illustrations gave me some great fodder for character concepts. I will once again applaud Osprey for their willingness to produce a product like this and for reaching out to one of the luminaries of the industry to author it. The quality of this book shows that they are very serious about fantasy and the fans who love it. This is a well written high quality product that will fit right in on your gaming shelf.

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