Don’t Split the Party is the fourth volume of The Order of the Stick (OotS) webcomic and contains strips #485-672, plus a number of new comics and author commentaries.
** Note: there are no spoilers for Don’t Split the Party in this review but are MAJOR spoilers for the first three OotS volumes. **
This being the fourth 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).
The events of War and XPs cut our heroes to the bone (and further) and this volume picks up following their defeat at Azure City, with Haley and Belkar left hiding out in the city and Durkon, Elan and V having escaped with the paladin fleet (and Roy… well, you’ve read War and XPs. RIGHT?). Their stories move in parallel, highlighting the difficulties the Order has when forced apart and the toll events up to this point have taken on them. Some of the supporting cast grow into more prominent roles, and most of the Order have pivotal character moments within these pages.
Don’t Split the Party has a somewhat different feel than the rest of the strip up to this point, since the team is not working (nor even adventuring) together. This doesn’t hinder it though, as the personal journeys are important to the characters’ growth and their ability to function when rejoined, and as usual everything is OotS carefully lays groundwork for future events.
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 Order of the Stick in general, and Don’t Split the Party continues to reenforce it’s excellence.