Friday, September 9, 2011

Blast from the past: Gamebooks and Hive of the Dead!

So far the year 2011 has been a year of many great releases when it comes to our great hobby. Games Workshop released not one, not two but three great Fantasy hardcover army books accompanied by gorgeous models.Yes, there have been a few flukes *cough*Grey Knights*cough*, but when you look at the Tomb Kings, Orcs and Goblins and Ogre Kingdoms book you can even disregard the ever-increasing prices and the embargo.. Plus there's more to come.
In a similar fashion, Black Library also released some awesome books from the Horus Heresy and the book that every Space Wolf player should read - Battle of the Fang!

But I don't think I've been as excited for a Warhammer 40,000-related product as I currently am for the brand spankin' new Hive of the Dead gamebook by C. Z. Dunn. At least not this year.
The forces of Chaos are moving against the Imperium once more, and only YOU can stop them! The first in a new series of Warhammer 40,000 adventure game books, Hive of the Dead casts you in the role of an Imperial Guardsman, fighting for survival upon the plague-ridden world of Subiaco Diablo at the beginning of the Thirteenth Black Crusade. Face all the horrors of Abaddon’s legions, including Death Guard Chaos Space Marines, the walking dead, and foul warp-spawned daemons. Will you make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of mankind, or will your name be forgotten with the rest?

Notice the underlined words. NOTICE THEM
A Gamebook. When was the last time you read one of those, huh?

It is a softback book with (I'm assuming) tons of black and white pictures. 288 pages. $19.99.

But seriously. It's a friggin' gamebook. A book (which is awesome by itself) that also counts as an single player game in which you get to choose your own adventure.
Now, for me gamebooks are a pretty big deal. I am pretty sure I was the last generation of hardcore gamebook.. er.. readers. Players, maybe? Born in the 90's there were literally hundreds of them, all over the place and most of them were twice my age. At least!
The popularity of gamebooks started to wane in the 90's as games such as Dungeons and Dragons became less of a social stigma and video games stopped sucking. But that was in the modern, western world.

In the great Bulgarian fatherland in which I spent my childhood, gamebooks were just becoming popular. You see, the fall of Communism had revealed decades-worth of books to be translated and all of a sudden gamebooks were the thing. Of course this meant that the genre was popular enough for young Bulgarain authors to give gamebooks a shot. Oh, what the heck, I'll just share with you what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
In the 1990s, after the fall of Communism, the genre became highly popular in Bulgaria for a period of about ten years, although it was well past the peak of its popularity in the West by that time.While internationally known series such as Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy were also translated, the period was mostly characterized by the work of a vast number of Bulgarian gamebook authors, some of them immensely productive and popular. Since Bulgarian publishing houses at the time believed that only Western names would sell, virtually all Bulgarian gamebook authors wrote under English pseudonyms a tradition that persisted despite the fact that their nationality soon became clear to the public.
- Wikipedia/Gamebook/Outside the English-speaking World
The Goblins Return!
 I received my first gamebook as a Christmas gift when I was 8 or 9 years old. I had no idea what in the world I was getting into. The book had like 295 different chapters and they were all numbered and scrambled. Was I supposed to read them in order? I started at "chapter 1" and from there the adventure began. The book was in Bulgarian - Замъкът на Таласъмите 2: Таласъмите се Завръщат (translated: Castle of the Goblins 2: The Goblins Return) by one Lyubomir Nikolov under the nickname of... er.. Colin Walumberry. It is still, to this day one of the most entertaining pieces of literature I have ever read and it was what started the whole gamebook-mania for me. 

From there I started reading a few books a week. I started trading books with my best friend's older brother who had an unending supply of them. I signed up at half a dozen libraries just to find some of the more obscure titles. I even tried to write one.. but I failed miserably, hehe. You have to understand that back then people had to print out the Dungeons and Dragons books and store them religiously in binders. Heck, I had no idea what D&D was back then, my first shot at tabletop RPG's was a Bulgarian RPG!

TL;DR: Gamebooks are awesome and Hive of the Dead better be awesome. I'm really hoping for this one to be a massive success so that we can see more and more 40k-themed gamebooks!

Cross your fingers!


  1. I still have an almost complete lot of 'Fighting Fantasy' game-books from the first time around (they re-released a load a few years ago). I now have the urge to dig them out of the junk in the loft.....damn you, lol.

  2. Adventure!

    As with you I'm a huge fan of gamebooks. I did give my collection of Fighting Fantasy away many years ago to the young son of a co-worker who had got one from school and just wanted more.
    Somewhat regretted that, but it was for a good cause and I ebayed some of my favourites again anyway.

    Black Library are doing a mini-play through of Hive of the Dead on their blog, with illustrations. Mine's ordered so hopefully I'll have it soon and can do a review :D

  3. Colin Walumberry?

    ... what a name!!! The Geddy Fooks hope to pick him up as a free agent early this season. Let's hope he's available.

    I have a pretty good collection because all the books were so hard to get and even getting old so i wanted to save the legacy. I even stole couple of books from a public library for the reason i stated above.
    Im so proud of my collection and ive played the majority of the books. They were so awesome. Id even go as far as saying that our gamebooks were as-good if not better than western ones.


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