Monday, December 10, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Why?  Just because a little film debuts in 4 days called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!!  Better than that is the release of the new The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game from Games Workshop.  Since I have a number of other things to paint AND I also purchased the hardback rulebook, I decided to let me family wrap the limited edition starter set: Escape From Goblin Town so I can open it at Christmas.

I thought I'd take a moment to share my thoughts about the rules and hardback book.  Since the shrink wrap is still on the box you'll have to wait for some model reviews until the new year.  Before I begin, let's just talk about the elephant in the room; namely, GW's prices.  I know, they suck but I've given up complaining about it since I'm still buying the stuff, albeit much less than before.  As much as I can dislike their pricing strategies and their attitude toward the community of gamers, I do love the game systems (Lord of the Rings and 40k), the models, and the background (40k).  Plus, I know many people who play and who I enjoy being around so in the end, I'm a GW hobbyist whether I like it or not.

On to The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game.  The hardcover rulebook has all the profiles for new models in The Hobbit plus new army lists based around the movie.  These new lists coincide with the lists in the Lord of the Rings Sourcebooks released earlier this year.  One of the things I was thrilled about was the continued use of the "Warband" lists they started in the sourcebooks.  In my mind, this sort of point match system was sorely lacking when The Fellowship of the Rings box was released in 2001.  As a result, IMHO, players either tired of the scenario based system or didn't get hooked as it was NOT like starting 40k or Fantasy.  All this changed with Legions of Middle-earth, the first supplement to offer dedicated army lists and ally rules.  Then came numerous army books based on the same system which finally made it easy to simply start an army rather than recreate scenes from the books and movies.  The new sourcebooks and now this new rule set have continued this which I think is a huge plus.  You can play scenario based games from the films and books AND/OR point match games like you would for 40k or Fantasy.  The best of both worlds!

Now, one downside to this point match system is the fact that you MUST purchase the hardback rulebook to get the profiles and army lists.  The soft cover rulebook in the box game does NOT have these.  Underhanded?  Maybe, but they have never published profiles and army building with the rules of other systems (you even had to buy new books to build armies for Lord of the Rings in the past) so they'd have sold something to allow army building at any rate (i.e. think a Hobbit Codex to go with your rules).  So, it would have cost you either way. GW is good at that, aren't they?

The other thing I'm so excited about is that the core rules of the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game have remained essentially the same at heart.  Same turn sequence, same characteristic names, same priority system, same shoot, combat, magic, etc.  Like a true "new edition" it is the core rules with a twist.  Changes include things like varying powers of spells, special attacks for various hand weapons, new heroic actions to name the big ones.  Although I'm sure some will love these changes and others will hate them, for me I'm just glad it is still the game I love and I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities these changes will bring.

So for now, I'm sticking to finishing the plethora of Lord of the Rings figures I own before I march into forces from the Hobbit.  The prices make it easy to put off new purchases but I already feel the call of upcoming models shown in the rulebook.  Ah, must stay focused. 

Damn you GW!  You keep pulling me back in!


Iain Martin said...

Great review Jamie! Thanks for posting. I wish we were neighbors so we could campaign LOTR together.


Scott said...

Excellent stuff, I'm on the same odyssey as you...