Steamforged Games is the king of miniatures, especially when it comes to the Epic Encounters line of products. Why just purchase miniatures when you can get a whole bunch of extra content with which to use them? Today we’re taking a look at two boxes – Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin and Epic Encounters: Barrow of the Corpse-Crawler.
The entire idea of the Epic Encounters line is that you get gorgeous miniatures, a double-sided battlemap, and bound pamphlet detailing the encounters. They’re designed so that you can pick up the box and immediately hit the ground running as a Gamemaster.
I’ve found that running these Epic Encounters frees up a lot of my prep time as a Gamemaster too, because I can plug-and-play these anywhere within my adventure. Now, obviously, there is some nuance to the process because you couldn’t just throw an undead encounter just ANYWHERE. Or…could you?
Instead of spending all my time focusing on building encounters, balancing them, finding maps, locating minis, I can instead focus on the roleplay that will come out of the encounter. It’s like having a setpiece that you can just slide in wherever it makes the most sense.
On top of that, all of the Epic Encounters products are 5E compatible. That means the statblocks and everything are going to line right up with the most popular roleplaying game on the market right now. Of course, you can also chop and screw the encounter to make it fit most tabletop roleplaying games, or steal the lore and motivations from the pamphlet to suit your liking.
Sure, that sounds like a bunch of extra work, but all of the groundwork is already done! It’s like someone handing you a freshly-baked cake and saying alright, go decorate it. You don’t have to go through the steps of mixing the ingredients, baking the cake, and letting it cool. You get to do the fun part!
All that being said, the Epic Encounters give me everything I need to run several awesome encounters. These are battles with interesting enemies and maps with locales that will keep your players guessing. Plus, everything is presented in a clean, modern looking package that sets itself well apart from the layouts of traditional TTRPG books.
Let’s take a peek at the contents of Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin and Epic Encounters: Barrow of the Corpse-Crawler!
Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin
- 8 Ghoul-kin Reaver minis
- 2 Ghoul-kin Stalker minis
- 2 Ghoul-kin Bulwark minis
- 2 Ghoul-kin Hivewarden on Corpse-Chewer minis
- 1 Ghoul-kin Broodsire mini
- A2 double-sided Mat
- Encounter booklet
The Hive of the Ghoul-kin is a cesspool of disease and waste. In this Epic Encounter box, you can take your players to the Crypt and the Brood-sire’s Laboratory. Both are equally creepy and rotten, perfect for those skeletal games of grotesque horror. These abominations are anything but natural, and they are mindless in their hunger for the flesh of the living.
These encounters feature a lot of bile, exploding pustules, disease, and acid. Everything is putrid and kind of gross, which makes it a nice and creepy atmosphere. Without giving too much away, the Broodsire is behind all this madness, using his laboratory to keep the stream of undead steady.
What I really like about this Epic Encounter set is that the environment and status effects play such a huge role. I’m a nut for damage over time effects in games, and so poison or persistent damage is always something I like to dabble with. Players tend to overexplore areas – or at least mine do – and if they’re not careful they’ll find themselves quickly overwhelmed with the disease and ghoul-kin that create it.
As expected, these miniatures are every bit as gruesome as their names imply. The Ghoul-kin Broodsire is the crown-jewel of the mix, with danging chains and a massive cleaver for a hand which is held on by fleshy tendrils. The Bulwarks are the actual abominations, with their bat-like flaps, chitin, and claws that could rend any foe obsolete.
I also appreciate that these Steamforged minis have some basing already applied to the sculpt. It really adds an extra layer and dimension to the Stalker, which is mid-sprint. And how could I forget about the Corpse-Chewer?! Riding a toothy-mawed worm into battle?
The Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin set is unsettling in the best way.
Epic Encounters: Barrow of the Corpse-Crawler
- 1 Corpse Crawler mini (MASSIVE)
- 12x Ghoul-kin Reaver tokens
- A2 Double-sided Mat
The main difference between the Barrow of the Corpse-Crawler and the Hive of the Ghoul-kin is that this pack only comes with one plastic miniature. Although, to be fair, it is a HUGE miniature with a 10cm base, standing 12cm tall. And the sculpt on this mini, the Corpse Crawler, is so intricately detailed.
There’s a nice mottling on the top of the chitin, along with pock-marks in the spinal spikes. There are so many little teeth to paint, folds to shadow, and a rocky base that helps emphasize the scale of this creature. It’ll definitely make your PC minis reel back in terror!
What else is nice is that the encounter booklet is just as long as the Hive of the Ghoul-kin pamphlet, even though there’s a single mini. That’s because this huge Dune-adjacent worm has some really deadly ‘heroic’ actions that can really alter the tide of battle. Don’t be afraid to use them and knock down the party’s bravado a couple pegs.
The other emphasis in this encounter box is that terrain plays such a huge role in the fight. Just think about it – this gigantic worm is tunneling all over the place. Of course there’s a threat of collapsing dirt from the ceiling! Incorporating different levels of terrain and hazards like this is something of a blindspot for me as a Gamemaster, so I really appreciate the detail on this front.
As cool as the Corpse Crawler mini is, I do wish the box included one or two of the Reavers instead of just supplying 12 tokens. I’d gladly pay a couple more bucks to have those other matching and relevant minis to add to the encounter. Even still, this box pairs perfectly with the Hive of the Ghoul-kin box, as the same art and references can be seen in both pamphlets.
All in all, this is a fantastic box to slot in for your BIG boss-level encounters. And who knows – maybe the Corpse Crawler will slink away to fight another day…
Epic Encounters: Upgrade Your Prep Game!
If you’re a fan of one-stop encounter shopping, then you should really check out the Epic Encounters line from Steamforged Games! They’re constantly expanding the lineup, including having just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign for Epic Encounters: Local Legends.
Now, if I could only perfect my Corpse Crawler voice…
[Disclaimer: Nerds on Earth was supplied a copy of the Epic Encounters: Barrow of the Corpse Crawler and Epic Encounters: Hive of the Ghoul-kin from Steamforged Games in exchange for an honest review.]