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The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game (abbreviated as LotR SBG), often referred to by players as Lord of the Rings, is a tabletop miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop (GW). It is based on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, and the book that inspired it, written by J. R. R. Tolkien.
It was initially released in 2001 to tie in with the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. New box sets with updated rules were also released for The Two Towers and The Return of the King movies. Later Games Workshop also began to add content that was featured in the original book but not in the film adaptations (e.g. Tom Bombadil, Radagast and Glorfindel), first with the Shadow and Flame supplement, and most recently with the Gondor in Flames supplement. This was generally supported, but there were mixed reactions when Games Workshop invented characters and wrote histories for lands Tolkien wrote little about, such as Harad and Khand.
Games Workshop released a complete new edition of the rules in September 2005, entitled The One Rulebook to Rule them All, and a compact edition entitled The Mines of Moria. However, these were subjected to scrutiny because some profiles were omitted.
Similar to Warhammer players, Lord of the Rings players commonly collect and paint one army (or more) of their choice and find opponents (with similarly collected armies) to play against. Armies can be built up from through the purchase of boxed sets (usually having 20 or 24 plastic miniatures in each) or "blister packs" (usually containing no more than three finely detailed metal miniatures) to build up a reasonable sized fighting force. Others simply collect the miniatures because they like the way they look. One popular way of collecting was through Battle Games in Middle-earth — a DeAgostini magazine that came with a free miniature (some of which were exclusive to the publication) and hobby guides.
As such, there are a wide variety of miniatures in the ever-growing range, including promoti miniatures, such as "Gimli on Dead Uruk-hai". Games Workshop began to discontinue some of their metal miniatures, so that they could replace them with plastic miniatures. However, there was much complaint when they retired the popular "Boromir Captain of the White Tower" miniature, and it was later brought back into production.
There are a large number of differences from Warhammer in The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, which makes it unique and more realistic, accounting for its popularity as Games Workshop's third core system.
the models are hand-painted and assembled by the player, players are often encouraged to design their own paint schemes as well as using the pre-designed ones displayed in the various books. They are also encouraged to further modify their miniatures using parts from other kits and models, modelling putty, or whatever the modeller can scrounge up. These conversions are often entered into contests at sponsored tournaments and similar gaming events, such as the Golden Demon or the One Ring Awards.
Terrain is a very important part of play. Though Games Workshop makes terrain kits available, many hobbyists prefer to make their own elaborate and unique set pieces. Common household items and hobby materials such as balsa wood, cardboard, and polystyrene can be transformed into ruins from the Second Age, woodland terrain, or the rocky wild of Middle-earth with the addition of plasticard, putty, and a bit of patience and skill.
Dioramas, often depicting scenes from the film and books, bring terrain and conversion skills together. However, due to the licensing agreements between New Line Cinema and Games Workshop, pieces of models for the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game are not allowed to be combined with other model lines for official tournaments or conversion awards. The same is true for pieces from other manufacturers.
Current State of PlayEdit
Overview of RulesetsEdit
As of December 2012, the rules for Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game are in their fifth edition, and the name of the game has been renamed "The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Strategy Battle Game" to tie in with the recent release of the Film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The first three editions of the rulebooks were released with the Lord of the Rings films, and Games Workshop used the magazine White Dwarf and various Supplements to "go beyond what is presented in the films of The Lord of the Rings and delve into the rich material of J. R. R. Tolkien's books." The previous edition, The One Rulebook to Rule them All, contained the entire set of rules updated and presented in a single large volume, including those of previous supplements. The three older editions are to be re-released in updated supplements, while the compact Mines of Moria edition contains the updated rules only for what was shown in the films. Currently, the official editions of Rulebooks and Supplements include:
- The Fellowship of the Ring Rulebook, for the first installment of the films, released as an updated supplement.
- The Two Towers Rulebook, for the second installment of the films, released as an updated supplement.
- The Return of the King Rulebook, released in early August as an updated supplement for the third and final film installment.
- The Fallen Realms Sourcebook, covering the armies of Isengard, Harad, Umbar and the Eastern Kingdoms.
- The Free Peoples Sourcebook, covers the armies of Rivendell, Lorien & Mirkwood, Erebor, The Fellowship of the Ring, The White Council, The Shire and The Wanderers in the Wild.
- Moria and Angmar Sourcebook, Covers the Armies of Angmar and Moria
- The Kingdoms of Men Sourcebook, covering Gondor, The Feifdoms, Rohan, Numenor, and Arnor
- Mordor Sourcebook, covers the creatures and orcs that come from Mordor
The New Sourcebooks (Above) include a new version of playing the game including all new senario formats and a new warbands system.
Legions of Middle-earthEdit
As of August 2006, Games Workshop released the new expansion entitled "Legions of Middle-earth", centering around theming and army building. It is not a supplement or rulebook, as it contains no rules; instead, it provides army lists for players to theme their forces around, and scenarios which are designed to work in conjunction with them. However, Games Workshop also released supplement summaries online in conjunction with Legions of Middle-earth, so effectively a player only requires Legions of Middle-earth and the main Rulebook (One Rulebook to Rule them All) in order to use the rules of the supplements. According to one review, the army lists would transform the game "from what has essentially been a scenario-based game that appealed mostly to collectors to a genuine tournament-compatible game system," although in this it "could have been a little bit more restrictive." Interestingly, some of the miniatures for the point values listed have not yet been released; this way the book does not become obsolete with any future releases for some time.
List of ModelsEdit
There are two groupes of models in The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game: