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Friday, December 6, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: Dark Osprey Book 1

I not-so-recently received a copy of The Nazi Occult from my friends over at Osprey Publishing and couldn't resist but check it out. I mean, look at this cover:

If you, as a gamer, find this book in your hand and can resist the temptation to take a peek inside, you're trying too hard.

Kenneth Hite is credited on the cover as the author, and Darren Tan the illustrator. I'm the newest member of Mr. Tan's fan club, by the way. He does amazing work, which you'll see later. The cover sets the tone of the entire book perfectly. First and foremost, the Nazis were evil madmen, and a sense of that is portrayed; but there's also a certain fantastic bombast that is conveyed with the spattered blood and the runic symbols as well. This blending of history and fantasy is prominent throughout.

See Guido up there? Mr. Hite does a great job preserving the illusion that this is another historical review by Osprey with sections like this. There is a lot of truth in the myths and jokes about certain members of the Nazi party's fascination with the occult. The truths are woven in, time and again, with fantastic tales and "reports" you will almost certainly question whether they actually happened or not. Luckily for my sanity, Mr. Tan steps in frequently with work like the following to remind me that this book is half true, but definitely half fantasy.

"Wait - what?"

I caught myself saying something similar on multiple occasions as I found myself quickly swept into this book covering the relationship some Nazis had with many different facets of the occult. That particular picture, if memory serves, is part of a story where German investigators discover a secret city around (or below, or above) Tibet.

Sasquatch and dudes with outstanding facial hair live and work together in harmony there. You heard me.

Just as soon as something jars me back to firm reality, a propaganda picture featuring Hitler emulating a mythological figure from Germany's tribal past pushes me back into the realm of the weird. It's hard to believe, looking back, how closely linked the Nazis were with all things unexplained.

 They've included the obligatory painting guides inside this book. For, you know, when you need to know what color the arm bands were on the secret wizard sect of the SS.

And just in case you thought WWII-era German occult investigators were all-business...

I'm confident this picture will put that misconception to rest. You're allowed to rock a rakish grin in a German uniform so long as you're rocking at least one voodoo doll and a fedora.

Just be warned, if you find yourself wrapped up in this book for an afternoon, the line between sanity and insanity will almost certainly be blurred. Information on so many actual events - the picture above shows one of the castles designed by Himmler for his secret obsessions - crowd into this book that it's equal parts entertaining and informative.

Don't worry too much about walking away with your mind intact, however. Regardless of how expertly Mr. Hite weaves the historic with the fantastic, Mr. Tan's art work will be your anchor.

"OK. There's a picture of some sort of mirror tank firing heat rays at a genie, while a Nazi recites some ritual incantations and gestures with voodoo stuff. I see what you did there. I get it."

So, I got a kick out of this book. I see it as an entertaining read, and probably a valuable tool if you'd like to make some eye-catching objective markers for Bolt Action. The game has an inescapably Hollywood feel to it, and all the mystique behind the Nazis fits perfectly into that feel. Or, if you're like LT TO, you can use this as a resource to construct your next German list.

I credit the author and illustrator for their fine work, but want them to know that I'm not buying into their tales!

Except, I could've sworn I saw something strange in the sky last night; and there was that section about German flying saucers and space stations...

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