Okay so we all love to hate Games Workshop. For those of us at the bottom of the world their prices are even more ridiculous than those of you who live in the northern hemisphere. But if you can get through all the annoying faff, there is a lot to like: their models are pretty cool and in LOTR Strategy Battle Game they have as good a skirmish game system as any. So I was one of those guys that just had to buy their new Hobbit range and after a couple of months painting we got around to playing it.
The Family Portrait:
(sorry about the iPhone photos but Steve forgot his camera - and decided to add in random scenery)
We played the scenarios that came with the boxed set. That meant that there were three dwarves against 12 goblins, the captain Grinnah and a limited amount of special rules that you had to learn for each character (each of the 15 Dwarves have their own rules which makes playing all of them at the same time by one player pretty darn difficult - let alone remembering which one is which!)
Simple scenario: get the baggage and escape. Some tactical options based on the lay out. Steve and I played the goblins and Chris the dwarves.
Chris at first didn't like the look of jumping the gap but when we explained the rule (you only die if you role a 1) he ended up giving it a go after a little excursion down the walkway first.
Bofur went first and proved his worth, taking out goblin after goblin and clearing the way for Bombor and Bifur to get across. Bombor, despite his girth managed to make it across with ease. Grinnah went in to get Bofur and was promptly killed. Both hits on him, and he failed his fate role. Bother. Blame Steve for that.
Bofur killing Goblins
Steve then tried to block the other side of the platform so they couldn't jump back and get away, but there was enough of a gap for one to get across, and after one was across then it was just a matter of time before the others followed. Chris played it well and got all three dwarves off the board with the baggage.
Cleaning up the last pesky goblins before taking off:
We enjoyed the game play a lot. It felt fairly balanced between the goblins and the dwarves. The dwarves would usually win the duel roles and kill 1-2 goblins but because more goblins came each turn (on a successful role) the dwarves had to keep on bashing and slashing to get out. Every now and then you could win a duel and get a possible wound. There was a fate role that had to be passed for one of them. if Grinnah hadn't died so early it would have been a bit more balanced. With three dwarves, and not much terrain, the fiddly ongoing battling that bogs down larger SBG was missing. We enjoyed it enough to play the next scenario.
Not a lot on the downside, except to note that this was a very limited scenario and I do wonder whether the game can actually maintain its fun when you bring in 15 Dwarves, Bilbo, Gandalf and the Goblin King and keep on top of what each is doing, how much might etc they have and not have the game slow down to a crawl. I suppose I will have to keep playing and find out.
I say 7/10.