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Unboxing Day

So everyone's seen the Hobbit by now, I expect? Yes? No? Well, we can talk about my hurt feelings over that particular damp squib another time. This here's a gaming blog, not the graveyard I intend to bury Peter Jackson in.

Games Workshop, ever keen to leap on a marketing bandwagon (within a fairly narrowly defined lane of traffic, to be fair), have seized on the forthcoming trilogy to release a bunch of new models. And I, being ever keen to throw used money off a fiscal cliff, fell for the preorder offer and got this box here: -

The limited edition has indeed escaped from goblin town.
Unlike the reputations of the cast... no dammit I'm not getting into that here. 
It came in the post while I was out yelling 'Merry Christmas' repeatedly in Stockholm. That all went well, by the by, although the cost of providing endless Christmas cheer on stage was that I more or less forgot that real Christmas was actually happening at the same time, and was a bit too tired to fully appreciate all the sparkly lights and excellent hams that happen in Sweden.

But now I'm back home, surrounded by cribs and swaddling clothes that have nothing to do with the Nativity and everything to do with our lives this year coming, what better to postpone the assembly of the new cot than the glueing together of a plastic Sylvester McCoy?

This model of the 7th Doctor even has his spiky but loveable sidekick Ace tucked under one arm.
Wait, no, that's a hedgehog.

I've never played GW's Lord of the Rings game. Other than miniature lust, for the excellent band of Dwarves and the gnarly goblins, I'm not 100% why this called to me on such a primal level. I guess you just shouldn't start buying miniatures again if you've managed to stop for a while. The addictive rebound is pretty heavy duty.

James Nesbitt on the left, Richard Armitage on the right. GW captures all the subtle nuances of their characters from the films in rigid grey polymer, which is appropriate given the... no stop it just keep taking the pills
It's everything you'd expect from a GW starter pack - some very nice models, a little bit of scenery (actually, quite a lot here, and it's modular so you can snap it into different configurations. Reminds me of the walkways from Necromunda, which is great), a rulebook with all the main rules and none of the army lists. There's also a whole tract on what The Hobby entails and why you should invest in the new GW pension scheme, where your life savings are paid back later as free weapon upgrades in-game.

The goblins moved round the side to get a planking bonus.
Having read the rules, though, I can report that it's a pretty interesting hybrid between 40k and WFB. Very free-flowing style to it, with no unit cohesion or indeed units to worry about. Everybody can run about doing whatever they want to (within the stylings of the rules, anyway). It's still got all the detail you'd expect, and the format is quickly familiar - movement phases, stats for fighting abilities, the good old 'can't-find-a-ruling-then-roll-a-dice' mechanic.

Mirroring the way Gandalf keeping having to save the Dwarves, Sir Ian does his best to save the film although... GODDAMMIT JUST LEAVE IT NOTHING YOU SAY WILL HELP NOW
Things I think I like would include the aforementioned unit-less system and the fact that the missions presented in the box, all set in the segment of the film where the Dwarves are captured by and then escape from the Goblins, make it feel a bit like fantasy Space Hulk. A few tough, hulking warriors beset by an endless swarm of spindly killers? With tight corridors to move or defend along? Okay, not corridors, rickety planking. But you get the feel.

Blurry misshapen forms stumbling out the darkness.
This is like the dance floor at most of the 18th birthday parties I ever went to. 
Things I'm suspicious of would include the basic melee mechanic, which is settled by a straight roll of dice with the highest winning. Bilbo vs a Balrog, for example - Mr Baggins could win it with pure luck. The WS equivalent is only used to resolve ties, which feels like it could be a little over-arbitrary to me.

Martin Freeman's jaw is extra square on the model.
Even if you give him his walking stick arm option, he's still clearly an action hero.
Okay, it's not that simple - you get to roll as many dice as you have attacks, then pick the highest. And the winner pushes the loser back, as well as inflicting a number of hits equal to its attacks, which are resolved as S vs T (now called defence) in the classic manner. Wargear adds a lot of options, heroes and monsters can spend their hero points to give themselves even more. I reckon it looks fun, overall, but who knows? May well be a while before I get to try it out.
Hello Possums. 
Plus all that gorgeous grey plastic to taunt my inner painter with. Great models all, to be fair, detailed and well-proportioned. In the meantime, I should get on with trying to finish the Chaos army off in the next couple of weeks. Coming back to it and looking at it with fresher eyes, I'm pretty sure that the whole question of scaling between the viking and GW components is much worse than I thought.

Sir! The man on my left keeps forming ranks by himself, sir! 

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