Friday, December 14, 2012

The "Hobbit" an unexpected cost point (1 of 3)


Hello all,

I am back with an article that ties in the last two posts to the RGH. This is Part one of three.

Hobbit/LOTR and Value

The goal is to write out my thoughts and impressions of the new Hobbit release and LOTR in general and whether or not it is worth the increased cost. This is not a bash on Hobbit/LOTR (I feel the system is better than almost any other GW offering) merely a stream of thought weighing the good and bad for the new edition and whether or not it's worth getting into both as a veteran or a new player.  Let’s get started.

I will start with the cons as this is like shooting fish in a barrel.

High Price buy in
Here we go. The Hobbit SBG (I feel insulted calling it “The Hobbit, an unexpected journey strategy battle game.” It’s like saying  “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” every time you reference the movie. Just stupid.) is currently the most expensive game system GW has. Both the box set and Rule Book  cost more than their 40K and Fantasy equivalents. I spoke of this in an earlier post so will not go into it again. What I do want to know is: Who is this game aimed at? The system is easy to learn and game play is quick so it looks like the standard GW target market of 12+ is about right. On the other hand the Price of 205.00 US just to get started (more on this below) seems to point at an older crowd with disposable income. As if anyone in this economy really has disposable income.  If you were a part of the previous incarnation (LOTR-SBG) then the costs are not so bad as you just need the main rule book and whatever “Forces” Books you have figures for (at 28.00 a pop even this can get pricey.) But if you are just starting out that is a lot of outlay for a new game as most companies will sell you enough to play the complete game for around half of that. A great example of this is Warmachine and Hordes that have two player starter boxes with a Mini Rule book and full stat cards (With point values) for all the figures included for under 100.00 US.  If looking at cost alone I would have to say the game fails at this level.

Need both sets to get point costs of figures from box set

 I want to take a look at some of the follies GW made with this release. First and foremost the decision to not include profiles in the small rulebook but include them in the full size one.  I know the profiles for the box set are at the back of the starter book, but no point values are given. For this you have to purchase the 85.00 full size rule book as the contents  of the starter box are new and not found in any of the forces books. This really feels like extortion as GW holds the ability to play point match games (The most common type)  hostage till I pony up the cash for the big book. Normally this would not be such a problem in a GW product as point values are not normally found in starter sets (or even the full sized rulebooks), but as the president was set with all previous editions since 2001 (there were 4 if keeping count) not including the point values for units in the starter set is quite noticeable.
The fact that the point values are found in the full size book supports the idea that GW is a company controlled by greed.  There is a definite “Scheme” feeling going on here. More than likely GW will put out a new forces book that will cover all of this (And make that section of the MRB obsolete) so that folks that stuck it out without buying the big book  can get the stats. This book will almost certainly include a bunch of new stuff that will encourage folks that did buy the Big book also want this one as well (there is that Scheme feeling again)

Hobby Section

The Hobby section at the back of the big rulebook is weak. Classic staples from the past are missing or diminished. Examples include conversions and a few painting guides to get you started. As far as I can tell the conversion section is just gone. This could be because the LOTR and Hobbit lines are virtually complete so there is less need to convert something up for game play. It could also have something to do with  GW wanting to focus on the “new” painting system (You too can  paint like a pro in just 4 easy lessons.) In actuality we are back to greed. Recently GW moved  into the 21st century (only 11 years after everyone else) and started releasing  digital products for the iPad (One platform to rule them all.)  This would be great except for one major issue. GW is charging as much or more for the digital products then for any physical equivalent. How does this relate to the current topic? I will tell you. Last week a painting guide for the Hobbit came out and GW is charging 25.00 dollars for it. It’s 150 pages so that may be the reason for the high price but honestly how many pages does it take to learn how to paint goblins and Dwarves? Since I don’t Have an iPad I cannot say if it is worth 25.00 but my “from the hip” reaction is no.

Limited sustainability

Straight and to the point: what happens when the last movie is done? At best the game is looking at 3 years of any real support before it is back to what LOTR was before December 2012. More than likely the game will get support in fits and starts with the occasional figure release and every once in a while a new book, but if GW follows previous  tactics it may be years between books once the Movies are done. The Mordor Book (Summer 2008)  was the last LOTR SBG book to come out until the Forces books (January 2012) came out. A time frame of over 40 months. They released WOTR or “War of the ring” (Why?) in 2009 but it is a different game not an upgrade of the SBG. Since this system is constantly teetering on the edge of oblivion sustainability must be considered a factor of value. 

Bad Track record for Product support

GW has mishandled this license for years.  From the decision to make LOTR into the third main line game along with 40K and Fantasy all the way through the pricing decisions discussed above. Along the way support has been more like the changing tide than an intelligible business plan. Sometimes they shower us with support then, for seemingly no good reason, it dries up to a trickle.  Support for LOTR SBG was pretty good from 2001 – 2006 with new books coming out regularly and new miniatures several times a year. As mentioned above it could not last and  by 2009 the SBG was pretty much dead. WOTR came out in 2009 and as mentioned above is a totally different game that happens to use the same figures. So there it sat with only the occasional lip service of a WD article or a figure or two till the “Forces” Books came out this last January (2012.) seeing this makes me wonder what they will try this time around. Have they learned anything from their past or will they rush forward to repeat their mistakes. 

Well at this point my fingers are getting tire so I will stop. Next time I will look at the positive aspects of the new product line to see if they even out...

Till next time


1 comment:

  1. Great write-up, Bob. I saw the movie yesterday, so I finally visited GW's site afterward (I didn't want any spoilers by viewing the minis!). I totally agree that the GW's The Hobbit products are overpriced to the point of price-gouging. I will make two exceptions, though. While the Orc Hunters demonstrate over 300% inflation (we used to get 20 or 24 models for $24, and now we get 12 models for $36), I will point out that the old models really had only about 4 distinct models, which could be slightly varied by their poses. As far as I can tell, you can make a full 12 distinct models with the Orc Hunters, as opposed to 4. That arguably offsets the 300% inflation. At least enough that I'm tempted to buy the Orc Hunters....

    The other exception are the warg riders. At less than $7 a model, that's maybe a little more expensive than other companies' cavalry models, but certainly within the ballpark. And they look wicked cool. Might have to pick them up.

    Everything else is overpriced, IMO. Especially the dinky and sparse plankings that "represent" Goblin Town.