Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

For general discussions on the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game and its expansions.

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Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:39 am

Hello everyone! I am posting today to let everyone know I prefer the original Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, as in the 2001 - 2009 version. I would like to explain why (and please keep in mind most of it is from memory)...

1. Almost every army had its own source book, there was not merely five sourcebooks, there were a whopping twelve different army books for the Middle-earth product line of Citadel Miniatures.

2. The source books gave painting guides to the miniatures and even guides to the terrain of the culture dominating the source book, and trust me as I have A Shadow in the East source book, I therefore know Games Workshop's then idea of Easterling terrain

3. A trilogy of Journey books once existed based on the LOTR trilogy of movies and the LOTR trilogy of books. There was also this fascinating trilogy of "Best of White Dwarf" booklets that were also based on the LOTR trilogy of stories.

4. Games Workshop employees would frequently make conversions and unofficial troop types during the time span of the original LOTR game of Citadel Minis, and the game was a lot more open to new troop types and alternate profiles than it is now.

5. Legions of Middle-earth gave players the opportunity to convert Citadel minis at the time, including even Warhammer Fantasy minis, into troop types there were not yet official miniatures for.

I could go on for a long while but I would rather get straight to my point - the original Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, perfected in 2009 with the White Dwarf magazine article on original-game versions of War of the Ring characters like Amdur Lord of Blades, is infinitely better than the vastly overrated The Hobbit Trilogy game that GW makes today.

Given all the above, I wish only to ask - who here agrees with me?

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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:58 am

Hey there! Well I agree with some of your points, I wouldn't say that the original LOTR SBG is entirely superior to the Hobbit SBG. As you know, times have changed and at the end of the day, Games Workshop is a company that wants to make money. They have removed the production of these books because LOTR have been getting less popular (before hobbit came out). I really liked the sourcebooks ( I have 3) but unfortunately Games Workshop have since taken a new stand point on the LOTR/Hobbit products. Instead of giving more to the community, they have simply made LOTR as a way to get people into 40k/Fantasy (lotr introduced me to 40k world). However the good thing is that the game has evolved for the better! The warband system has allowed the game to flow better (not like 100 miniatures on the table)(reason to sell boxes of 12 haha) and the other rules has explored a whole new way of playing the game. Ultimately I still wish I was back in the day, where the OOP were still here and the sourcebooks were here. But it isn't that bad, we got new hobbit miniatures and stuff (better than nothing!).

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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:11 pm

For gaming reasons I agree that Strategy Battle Game is superior to The Hobbit game expansion.

Withholding any conversation of Games Workshop's business sense or their stewardship of the Lord of the Rings brand, the SBG game itself is simpler and more efficient.

- The points match principle is a great mechanism to balance the armies facing off on each side of the board. Granted, individual models may be over/under-priced in relation to their game effectiveness, but the overall principle of point matching is very sound.

- In relation to other game systems, SBG was very simple to select your options and calculate your model price. The Hobbit has taken that solid foundation and gone over the top with options and options and options... making it more complicated to figure out what point value your model should have, and compounding the possibilities for over/underpricing models.

- The wardband rules are okay, but the principle of limiting your troop-to-hero ratio by limiting 12 troops for one hero adds complexity and doesn't add overall game value. Who cares if 6 elven captains choose to face off with 80 goblins? If someone wants to step up to the game table with an all-troop or an all-hero force, why not let them take up the challenge? If you find yourself outmatched... build a new army or new strategy to counter what you are facing.

- The new Hobbit special rules add some flare to the game, but they add so much complexity that I am not sure they are worth it. I fondly remember teaching SBG to my daughter 8 years ago, and within half a game she had it... the SBG rules were easy to explain and easy to visualize. I also remember recently trying to teach the new Hobbit rules to my son (same relative age) and having a hard time explaining all the new special attacks and rules (really? so what can dwarves do what with axes? One handed or two?). In teaching both SBG and The Hobbit to 'adults' (yes- I quoted adults ;) ) it has been no easier to explain The Hobbit special rules. There is a beauty to the simplicity of the SBG ruleset, which enables a player to focus on the game and not have to break the flow with constantly needing to reference the books of cheat sheets on what who can do what to who... if you like complicated tabletop games, play Warhammer 40K.

- Allowing proxy forces... do I need to go on? The climate around SBG was wonderful for not only allowing, but encouraging, players to work on models and build proxy models and armies. Don't like the way GW produced a figure... go ahead and make one that you like better. Can't afford to drop $200 to buy a GW 'starter' set... invest some time and convert figures to make you own. Want to play a friendly games with your buddies... can't play your conversion army in a GW store (I haven't played in a GW shop for at least 5 years for this reason). In the SBG environment, the game and the players were open to creativity and encouraged people to test their hobby skills. In the current Hobbit environment, if you don't have the GW "official" product you don't have a game.

I could go on, but I will sit down and let the next fan else chime in. I love the clean simplicity of the SBG format and I chaff under the rules, rules, and rules of The Hobbit. Let me play my game and match my wits with my opponent on the game table with an army of my choosing.

Let me keep my game, simple and flowing.... you keep your nasty rulebooks!


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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:06 am

I agree with all the points Gamer in the East raised, except that I don't mind at all that there are less books I have to lug around. My back thanks GW for that one.

However, to say that the game has increased in complexity but not enjoyment is not true for me. The Hobbit rules added changes to deployment which were desperately needed, Brutal Powers which made monsters viable, a couple of Heroic Actions which add a great new dynamic to the game, and Special Strikes, which I'll admit was a bad move, but ultimately you don't have to use them.

The most important change has definitely been warbands, which removes those horrible games of troop spam vs troop spam that take absolutely no skill to play and are incredibly boring to boot. I definitely don't miss that from the LOTR days. The dynamic created by warbands has given a place in the game back to big heroes and elite units, which can only be a good thing, but cheap heroes and troops are still great as well. Overall, it balanced the game out and reduced the crazy extremes somewhat.

I play tournaments regularly, and haven't noticed any over the top changes in people's playstyles in the last two years. It's been a pretty smooth transition. I don't know what you mean about too many options Kurtesh, it's still basically the same in my experience. I'm lucky enough to live in an area that still encourages lots of conversions and different ideas. Most of the tournaments are not affiliated with GW.

I've been in the game since 2003, and I can easily say that the rules have never been in better shape. Can't wait to see the shiny new things we get for Battle of Five Armies. I know the marketing and customer value side of things won't ever match up to what we got in those early days, but the game is as enjoyable as ever. :D
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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:16 am

There's also a lot to love about the new rules.

I like the speed of the more recent game- not starting 36cm apart then walking forward, volleying and walking backwards was a huge improvement to the game and let's you play to conclusion much more satisfactorily.

The removal of volleying was also a very good change. I saw tournament games go on for an hour or so with hardly any killls to justify the painstaking "6 to hit, 4+ because we're all in cover, 6 to wound" process.

I like the improvements to Monsters - they really are powerful units now, instead of just a point sink. The hurling rules are overpowered (or unclear?) but the rest was a massive improvement.

I like the way improved Monsters justifies taking powerful heroes. Previously taking a vast amount of infantry was superior to either of these.

Magic was improved by the addition of channelling; a second tier of spells for when you really need it.

And so on. There were some great improvements along the way.

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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:23 pm

There never were 12 proper faction-specific books for this game. Several of the supplements were released prior to the One Ring rulebook, and the rules therein thus outdated with that release (not that much changed, but still). Later books generally had less interesting scenarios and fewer (if any) guides for scatch-built scenery and the likes. Even those were not complete in terms of rules sometimes, when new units were released in White Dwarf. I'd agree that the older supplements (Shadow in the East, Fall of the Necromancer, Pellenor Fields and my personal favourite Scouring of the Shire) were very much the pinnacle of GW's Middle-earth efforts though - great scenarios with characteristic house rules, some easily made but good looking terrain etc. The Journey Books (FotR/TTT/RotK) released later were very nice too; not as good as the earlier publications, but definitely containing good stuff.

The 5 current source books contain little in terms of hobby content, but that is not so much LotR vs. Hobbit as a detoriation of everything GW does - old White Dwarves were filled with great conversions, scenery and house rules, nowadays it's all a matter of using whatever it is they produce and sell themselves.

You are very wrong about LoMe though. All it did was introduce restrictions on army lists and allies (which I do miss nowadays), nothing more. There were new units, but only points values - no profiles. If you wanted to make house rules for them, well, nothing would stop you, but you'd need your opponent's permission to use them in games - nothing has changed there. I don't think GW ever really encouraged mixing WHFB with LotR (for good reason, the scales are wildly different). Indeed, I remember that armies from either system that did so were unable to be nominated for the 'Best Army' award at official tournaments due to licensing issues. Again, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from converting minis (with whatever parts you have) now. In a sad way, the new special strikes have even motivated people to convert their figures, be it for the wrong reasons.

Anyway, as for the actual LotR vs. Hobbit rules debate: both have their merits. Walking for five turns without any action wasn't great, but the lack of Volley Fire, starting a few inches from each other and that stupid move-and-shoot penalty have swung the balance too far in the other direction. Special monster attacks are good to make those more appealing (and different), but again, are a bit too much. New heroic actions and channelled spells - same really, a decent addition but some (heroic strike, a few spells) a bit more powerful than I'd have liked to see. Special strikes are simply unbalanced and very poorly implemented; the people at GW should really have known better than to just throw them out there and leave regulation to the players.

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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:42 am

I love it! :D

It is the exchange of ideas and experences that makes the community. Though I have been in the LotR hobby/ game since 2004, I personnaly don't do tournaments due to a lack of opportunity in my are (and bad experiences with some obnoixious GW shop employees). However, it is great hearing the well reasoned discussions from those veterans who have.

Let the passions flow!!! While some of us my cling to our naustalgia for the "good old days when", hearing the well reasoned and respectful agruements for how things are better is refreshing.

I return you to your thread discussion already in progress...

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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:02 pm

The 'Golden Age' for me was the mid-Noughties - around 2005 - when sourcebooks such as Siege of Gondor and Battle of the Pelennor Fields were being released. Rules and scenarios were playtested, stats creep was less (by the time the Warband books came out the average Evil troop type was close to FV4) and silly rules such as the Golden King bribing Courage checks or the exploding Haldir were uncommon.

The Hobbit added very little to the game, and much of what it did add was gimmicky or silly. I see no value in different weapon types, especially Feint where there is often no drawback to using it. Hurl is banned in my usual gaming group on the grounds of implausibility and generally silliness. Rend, on the other hand, is simple, effective and balanced. Ditto Channeled spells, which add a delicious layer of 'Should I or shouldn't I?'. I miss Volleys (apart from the idea of a Hobbit six feet away calling in arrows from Elves somewhere else on the table, behind a wood...). The movement penalty for missiles is okay apart from throwing weapons in the Charge - at one inch range the chance of hitting should be increased, not decreased! The warband scenarios, leaving aside the fact that they've been printed six times in total, which is a bit of a rip-off, are horrible. I never play them, and neither do my regular group. The 'line of scrimmage' starting positions or random dispositions at the start add nothing to generalship and plenty to luck. If I want luck to rule the game then I'll go to a casino. LoME scenarios weren't perfect but some came pretty close - Storm the Camp is a particular fave.

I think it's no coincidence that the malaise of SBG has coincided with the lack of support for the game by GW. Playtesting externally seems to have faded away by the time of Shadow in the East. WD articles are few and far between, and tend to be sales pitches rather than inspiration. The paucity of gaming space in GW shops is not specific to SBG but as the bottom of the pile it does get less of a look in. The WFB and 40K influence of key individuals hasn't helped over the years; dedicated SBGers would have led to greater balance without incompatible ideas creeping in.

All my humble opinion, of course, but I'm lucky to play with old-school SBGers as well as TH:SBGers and can readily compare the two.

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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:08 am

A Gamer in the East wrote:Hello everyone! I am posting today to let everyone know I prefer the original Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, as in the 2001 - 2009 version.

...is infinitely better than the vastly overrated The Hobbit Trilogy game that GW makes today.

I disagree. The bulk of your arguments support a conclusion that the SBG was better ***supported*** than the Hobbit, not that the game itself was better.

On the former - while I do miss the terrain articles, conversion articles, and painting guides, I do NOT miss having rules unnecessarily spread over 12+ publications. Even the current 6+ is 6+ too many.

As for the game itself I think your arguments are flawed - fundamentally speaking there is no "2001 - 2009" version, but rather a whole series of evolutions that continued past your arbitrary end point, prior to the rebranding of the game as the hobbit.

At one point there were: no rules for war machines for example; no restrictions other than points on force composition; courage tests resulted in a lot of back and forth running about as models would fail courage tests on one turn, then pass them the next; early on you had to keep track of which throwing spear equipped models had used their one shot weapon; will served no purpose unless you were a caster and/or ringwraith; etc.

The Hobbit is no more than another evolution in the game. Do I like all the changes? No. But in some respects it is still closer to the arbitrary 2009 SBG than the 2009 game is to the original 2001 game.

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Re: Who else prefers the original LOTRSBG?

Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:13 am

i prefer LOTRSBG over the hobbit

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