In the comic book world of the Knights of the Dinner Table, the "evil" (definitely hostile) version of the Knights are the Black Hands: Weird Pete, Nitro, Newt, Stevil, and (the inexplicably nice) Gordo.  While the Black Hands usually play the sword-and-sorcery Hackmaster, they have delved into other gaming genres as well.  After seeing the Knights take on the Western genre in The Cattlepunk Chronicles -- Outlaw Trail, the Black Hands' KODT Cattlepunk strips are collected (with over 60 pages of new paterial) in The Cattlepunk Chronicles -- The Four Herdsmen of the Apocalypse.

This collection is divided into two parts.  In the first part ("The Early Years"), Nitro is burned out as the GM, so Pete takes over as the GM, running Cattlepunk and "borrowing" several ideas from B.A.'s old campaign.  It turns out that the other players had forgotten what a hard-ass Pete was, and when Nitro takes over as GM the other players spend the whole time at each other's throats.

The second part ("The Herd of Doom") has Nitro picking up the reins of Cattlepunk again, as a favor to a friend.  After several false starts (when the Black Hands kill each other off before getting through the flavor text), Nitro gives his players the task of delivering a massive herd of cattle.  This leads to more in-fighting, a humiliating encounter with a Western legend, and the discovery of what could be the most devastating weapon in the Old West.

The Four Hersdmen of the Apocalypse is delightfully dysfunctional.  Much as I love seeing the Knights in action, the Black Hands are pretty fun when they're sniping at and plotting against one another.  There's lots of fun as the players struggle in the world of the Old West, and the self-contained issue has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments from this world of role playing. ("On the upside -- we got to use the brain spatter tables.")  The Four Hersdmen of the Apocalypse is another funny and worthy KODT collection.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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