War and XPs is the third of The Order of the Stick (OotS) webcomic and contains strips #302-484, plus a number of new comics and author commentaries.
** Note: there are no spoilers for War and XPs in this review but are some for the first two OotS volumes. **
This being the third volume I am going to assume anyone reading this review is familiar with the basic concept of OotS. If you are not I highly recommend going back and starting with the first collection (Dungeon Crawling Fools).
Wars and XPs is, as the author relates in the forward, the first OotS book entirely plotted with the overarching story in mind. This really comes through in the pacing, ebbs and flows of the plot, and sense of scale present in the story across these strips.
We resume our tale in Azure City, and after the revelations from Shojo last volume Roy and company set out to find a new lead on Xykon. Other long running plot threads will also take center stage, including Haley’s speech impediment and the Linear Guild’s nefarious plans.
The story as a whole is magnificent in War and XPs. There are consequences for actions and oversights, well developed character arcs, and incredibly escalating stakes for our heroes.
Familiarity with D&D will add depth, but is not necessary to read and enjoy. The humor grows fairly organically out of the characters and situations, and by this point readers should have an idea if it’s to their tastes.
As always OotS’s art uses “fleshed out” stick figures. See the cover for an example. This “simplified” art style is used to great effect and fits the comic perfectly, and even with this style you can see the evolution and refinement of the art as time progresses.
I highly recommend The Order of the Stick in general, and War and XPs is where the comic truly begins to feel epic. An outstanding volume of an already impressive comic.