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Item - Armies of Death

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(Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front))
(Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front))
(Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front))
(Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front))
(Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only))
(Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays))
(Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays))
(Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays))
(Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays))
(Wizard S2 (Large, Embossed))

Combined Summary

Online Full Text: Internet Archive (Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing)
Series: Fighting Fantasy (1982-1995, Puffin) — no. 36
Fighting Fantasy (2002-2007, Wizard Books Series 1) — no. 14
Fighting Fantasy (2009-2012, Wizard Books Series 2) — no. 15
Translated Into: Armády smrti (Czech)
Exércitos da morte (Portuguese)
Exércitos da Morte (Portuguese)
Exércitos da Morte (Portuguese)
A halál seregei (Hungarian)
Heltenes slagmark (Danish)
Les Sombres cohortes (French)
Adapted Into: Armies of Death: Rise of Agglax (Video Game)
Author: Livingstone, Ian
Illustrators: Achilleos, Christos (Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only) - cover; Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front) - cover)
McKenna, Martin (Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W) - cover; Wizard S2 (Large, Embossed) - cover; Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W) - cover; Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays) - cover; Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing - cover)
Williams, Nik (interior)
Dates: December, 1988 (Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front))
2003 (Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing)
September 4, 2003 (Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W))
ISBNs: 0140324860 / 9780140324860 (Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only), Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front))
1840464364 / 9781840464368 (Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W), Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing)
Length: 400 sections (Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front), Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W), Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays), Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing, Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W), Wizard S2 (Large, Embossed))
400 sections, plus background section (Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only))
Special Thanks: Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front):
Thanks to Nicholas Campbell for the front cover scan.
User Summary: A year after becoming the second winner of the Deathtrap Dungeon trial (as told in the FF book Trial of Champions), you set off with an army to stop a Shadow Demon from conquering the land of Allansia.
Guillermo's Thoughts:

(Review based on the Puffin version of the book. I'm not familiar with any of the reprints.)

This book stands out in the FF series for two reasons. First, it is a direct sequel to another FF title (Trial of Champions), which is notable in a series in which acknowledged sequels are quite rare. Secondly, in this book you get to command an army made up of human warriors, dwarfs, elves, and knights (it is possible to gain new troop types or lose them in the course of the adventure). At some points the player engages in single-handed combats using the regular FF combat system, while at others some player army units engage in skirmish battles (the book includes its own skirmish combat system).

The mass battle system is quite simplistic (even more so than the regular FF combat system or the army combat system used in the Combat Command series). While the player begins the book with an army of over 200 soldiers, the full army is never used in a battle in the course of the adventure (except during the final confrontation, which is mostly resolved through the player's decisions, with little use of the skirmish battle system). Mass battles always involve single units of the player army against a small number of enemies, and most of the time they are very easy to win. The book has been criticized for not taking full advantage of the large size and diverse composition of the player's army, but it must be said that having multiple battles where the player has to make tactical decisions for such a large army would have required a much longer and more complex book (which Puffin and subsequent publishers would most likely not have allowed).

The above being said, the mass battle aspects feel almost peripheral to the overall structure of the book, which similar to Crypt of the Sorcerer, has an epic quest feel which contrasts with a lot of earlier Ian Livingstone single-setting crawls. The player has to explore a variety of environments (wilderness, river, city and dungeon) which makes the adventure quite varied (it must be mentioned that the player character spends quite substantial parts of it alone, with the army stationed elsewhere). Completing the quest successfully requires finding the true path among a variety of well fleshed-out options, meaning that even if you make a wrong turn at any point, you will usually experience a complex and detailed adventure. Completing the book requires collecting a large (even by Livingstone standards) number of items and pieces of information. If you have little patience for searching for a plethora of hidden things, this book is not for you. However, unlike Crypt of the Sorcerer, this book is not so riddled with difficult battles and die rolls that you will die over and over because of bad luck. Indeed, a character with a decent SKILL score should not have much trouble getting through the battles in this adventure. Nik Williams' artwork definitely captures the apocalyptic atmosphere this adventure is meant to convey.

Overall, I would not call this a masterpiece but, having replayed it after many years, I still find it quite an enjoyable FF book which gets a lot less love than it probably deserves. Definitely worth a look.

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Brett Easterbrook for the original unnumbered cover scan and to Mateusz Motyka for the series 2 reissue cover image.
Users Who Own This Item: aehalpin, Alatar001, andyr, Aniline, Avenger, B0N0V0X, badboybaggins, BarefootJimmy, bigcobra, Braxus, cayh_dilg, Citadel1963, crazydave, crispybacon, CSquared, Cyan, c_wickham, dArtagnan, dave2002a, dblizzard72, dbriel, DeKoovenWolf, Demian, demon of the deep lt, devilsboy, Dirk Omnivore, domj29, Dronak (1st reissue), EarlOfDrumer, Ed, edwebb, egokun, Erikwinslow (Later printing) (Series1), evilspoon, firefoxpdm, frosty88 (mint reissue), Gamebook, Gamebook Collector, Gartax, gnomeza, Graham, greyarea13, gryff, Gurvo, Haoie, Harvey (reissue), Himynameistony, Hobgoblin48, Ian2405, Icedlake, jdreller, jeff3333, jr, juliebarkley, juski (UK first edition), katzcollection, khaxzan, kinderstef, knginatl (orig., UK reissue (S1)) (orig., UK reissue (S1)), le maudit, liam0404, MacbthPSW, Malthus Dire, MarcusP, marnaudo, MasterChief, mattender, matthaeus, mir1812, mlvoss, Narananas (Dragon numbered spine), nefast, nelsondesign, nerelax, Nich, noelob, Oberonbombadil (UK dragon 1st printing), odo_ital, Office Linebacker_, ooklathemokk, Osirian08, outspaced, Pessimeister, peterm2, Pirrakas, plowboy, Pseudo_Intellectual, qazplm (Gold Dragon), Radjabov, rpatel1976 (gold dragon), ryderark, Ryuran333, Sabreman (Gold Dragon), Samus (Toronto) (2003), Seizure, Sheridan77, Sir Olli, sireeyore, skeleton, Smidgeccfc76, snakefire77, StagQuests (unnumbered), strawberry_brite, Tamerlane1396, terrysalt, ToucanJams, Treguard, Tremendez, twar, Twoflower, umbra682000, Vampireman, Virtua Sinner, Wardog, xinuz, Yalius, Zolika
Users Who Want This Item: bbanzai, bookwormjeff, breity (either version), CSquared, Cyan, Faberwest, Ffghtermedic, Gallicus, horrorbusiness, Househeart, killagarilla, killagirilla, kjk.tk, Lambchop, Malthus Dire, MasterChief, Mr ?, mrwalker, NEMO (original) (reissue), Nomad, nordik, Rozo, ThisIslandEarth, truce57, Uraniborg, Von Scotty, Waluigi Freak 99
Users with Extra Copies: badboybaggins
Cyan
devilsboy
jr
Pessimeister - dragon edition, tanned pages, but in great condition.
Yalius

Known Editions

Original, first printing (Dragon, Bronze text, Number front)
Original (Dragon, Bronze text, Number spine only)
Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (C&W)
Wizard S1 (Standard), UK printing (Clays)
Wizard S1 (Standard), AU printing
Wizard S1 (Special), UK printing (C&W)
Wizard S2 (Large, Embossed)

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