Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit Game by Games Workshop

The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game: Escape from Goblin Town

Crazy Gamer here to give you a crazy review of Games Workshop’s latest game, The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game: Escape from Goblin Town, from here on out referred to as The Hobbit.

Let’s dive in.

The rules:  The Hobbit is based on the original Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game, which is not to be confused with the War of the Ring games, also released by Games Workshop.  Whew, that’s a lot of titles.  Back to my original point: the Hobbit is essentially a new version of the Lord of the Rings games rules.  The rules are fundamentally the same as LOTR.  In essence, one player plays the good guys (in this case, Thorin’s dwarves) and the other plays the bad guys (the Goblin King and goblins).  Heroes and monsters have special abilities and equipment like their movie counterparts.  Players recreate the movie moments in six scenarios.

This is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg, but I will discuss that in the hobby section.

The rules themselves are easy to learn and are fun.  Most of the rules are identical to the previous version of the LOTR strategy game with some confusing elements refined.  What has changed are more sophisticated moving and shooting mechanics, shooting into and out of terrain, fighting behind obstacles, heroic actions, and monsters.  Monsters have been given new options to use that make them more tactical to use and heroes now have twice as many heroic actions that they can call.

The game has plenty of tactical decisions for players to make - just because the rules are easy to learn doesn’t mean the game is easy to master.  Players must balance the need to modify their dice rolls with calling heroic actions.  The canny player will be rewarded; the careless player will lose regardless of how mighty their models may be.  The game is fun to play if you give it a chance.

The models: Having played miniature games for almost 20 years, I am still amazed by what can be accomplished in plastic these days.  Even if we go back to 2001, when the original LOTR game came out, there were only a handful of poses and none of the models in the basic set were heroes.  The Hobbit game comes with all the members of Thorin’s company, all heroes, plus the Goblin King, 18 different posed goblins times two, plus Goblin Town scenery.  Each member of Thorin’s company is excellently sculpted in the likeness of their movie counterpart.  Thorin’s model has the option of his Oakenshield or Orchrist, while Bilbo can be equipped with Sting if the player wants it.

The goblins, thirty-six of them, are hideous, lumpen, grotesque critters.  The models are nasty, just like in the movies.  The Goblin King is large and imposing, bigger than a cave troll, not quite as big as a Balrog.  Goblin Town itself is functional and includes the goblin scribe and the Goblin King’s throne.

Overall, the miniatures are excellent, coming in at a little over $2 a piece for the collector’s set.

The Hobby: The one weak area of the Hobbit box game is its tight focus on Goblin Town.  All the scenarios revolve around that portion of the movie when the dwarves and Bilbo are in the clutches of the Goblin King.

This can be fun, but players will quickly want to explore other portions of the Hobbit movie.  There are miniatures for other parts of the film (and the other Lord of the Rings movies), but this will require purchasing the hardcover Hobbit rulebook and additional miniatures.

As far as what’s out there for you to collect, gamers can collect all of their favorite characters and can recreate all their favorite events from the movies and books – everything is available from both the Lord of the Rings movies and the Hobbit.

Overall – worth a buy!


  1. In your opinion, what is the minimum age for someone to be able to play this game?

    1. As long as an adult is present I think that someone as young as 8 or 9 would be able to understand how the game works. Also the game rules are divided into basic and advanced rules. Games can be played with only the easier to understand basic rules and advanced rules can be added later.