By now you have had time to read over the pros and cons of the new Hobbit SBG game. Here are some things I have discovered since the last post-
The game is not doing as well as hoped (at least not in my local area.) The manager of my Local store told me that old time players of the original system have stopped playing with the new release. This is unfortunate as with only a few exceptions it is a better game than the original (LOTR SBG.) It feels more like a natural progression similar to the versions of LOTR that came out year after year until they got it right with the 2005 Mines of Moria box set that survived almost 7 years (longer than any version of 40K/Fantasy that I can remember)
The other thing I learned after getting a chance to actually play Hobbit SBG is that it really is a fantastic game. None of the new rules added (or removed) were game breaking. The new Heroic actions are nifty and the game flows as well as it ever did. I wanted these brought up because they are important to the topic.
When I started writing this I asked several people to give me their opinion of the new release. I heard a lot from one side or the other. Here is what I learned- 40K/Fantasy players (that I spoke with) tended to dislike the system or at best ignore it. Some of it is the skirmish like game play of Hobbit and some of it is a dislike of Hobbit taking away resources that could be used for more 40K and Fantasy stuff. Folks who played systems outside of GW (Warmachine, Infinity, Malifaux, etc.) tend to like it better as it is more in line with the kinds of games they prefer.
I would like to share the following observations from a good friend who was kind enough to write out his thoughts.
"While I haven't seen any vast, sweeping changes from the earlier edition, that's probably for the best. The system is still very smooth allowing large forces to clash without the game bogging down, and yet units don't feel generic. If anything, the changes to the rules have added just that little bit more variety to the feel of the units, and that variety in turn adds to the strategic considerations without slowing the pace of the game. In addition, many powerful units have gotten just that little bit more powerful with the changes such as monsters getting an equivalent to the Thunderstomp in 8th Edition Fantasy, so even veteran players will need to retune their strategies. Whether for a serious head to head challenge or just a quick, fun, casual game, this would easily be my first choice in fantasy games. Warhammer Fantasy wishes it could be this good." - Warboss
So with the evidence on the table and the testimonials and opinions noted for posterity, what is the verdict? Is it worth getting into? Does it have value?
Well the short answer is perhaps. I know that comes across as Wishy Washy but in this case it fits. The Pros and cons almost balance out.
Here is how I look at it: for the most part each point cancels out another on the opposite side. For instance the game plays well but is hindered by the high cost of the rule books. The system is strong and can stand against other games of its ilk (Warmachine, Infinity, Malifaux, Bolt-Action et.) but it suffers from a poor marketing strategy carried over from LOTR SBG (system left dangling in the wind for years and a bad reputation from long term players due to the way it was handled in White Dwarf and the website. The Hobbit and LOTR share a strong and popular brand name supported in books and movies going back decades, unfortunately GW ended up with the rights to the license. I cannot help but think that if a different company created this game it would have been better received.
For me the game has value- I have already invested a healthy chunk of change in the original game and I feel that this one is better (despite the issues with the rule book discussed previously) The money spent helps keep my local store alive and as long as I don't have to buy a new book every month it is no big deal in the long run. I am not condoning the price hike GW did on the miniatures (carried over to Dark Angels) This is out right robbery. I suggest that anyone who wants to get into the game should spend some money on the boxed set from their local game store then look to Ebay and online discount sellers to fill out your armies.
I hope you have enjoyed this series and I look forward to comments and discussions.
Till next time