Whilst some miniatures games may be shallower than others, all games of this type require dedication to collect the required parts, learn the rules, set up the game, and finally play. The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game is one that lies on the more complex end of the spectrum, not in its structure or rules but in the resulting gameplay. Expect a nice set of miniatures to kick off your collection (if you're a beginner that is) as well as an updated rules system, models that you're going to want to apply your own licks of paint to, gameplay that isn't as throwaway or swift as other games series such as Axis and Allies. Instead, prepare yourself for a rather engaging and enveloping experience with this one: this isn't any old pick-up-and-play you're dealing with.
In the Set
This is a perfect set for fans of Lord of the Rings to get involved in a miniatures game based on their favourite epic adventure - it is a set that can be purchased and played as is without necessarily requiring further purchases of expansion packs/miniatures. The first thing that you'll likely notice is the abundance of miniatures that come with the set: you've got the whole of the fellowship (Frodo, Sam, Gandalf the Grey, Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn, Boromir, Merry, and Pippin), 24 Moria Goblin miniatures that come with a variety of weapons including bows and spears, a cave troll, and also some terrain on which the action can take place.
The miniatures themselves are constructed from plastic and are decorated with excellent attention to detail, with all pieces aside from the members of the fellowship requiring clip-together assembly. As for the fellowship members themselves, you'll notice a lack of likeness to the characters in the films and a slightly disappointing construction all-round, though if you want highly-detailed models that are to your liking then it's really up to you to go ahead and get your painting equipment out and tailor the models to your liking or indeed purchase extra models.
There is also a rulebook of course and this comes with a handy little information booklet that described how the game should and will play out, covering the basics such as moving, fighting, and shooting - these are important phases of the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.
Concise is probably the best word to describe the instructions that come with this game. This is a good thing as the subject matter is fairly complex - Games Workshop have done very well to implement a set of rules that is so simple and yet results in a game that can be extremely complex and deep at times. Games Workshop veterans will also notice the contrast between the simplicity of this game and the relative complexity of many other games from GW such as Warhammer 40000, a game with battles so complex as to require significant amounts of time investment.
Before you start taking turns you must roll the dice in order to decide the rather new property of Priority. This decides which order the players will take their turn and adds a layer of strategy not seen in some of these types of games. No longer can you plan ahead and position your units in advance due to a set order of play - Priority is a property that changes the game entirely, and definitely for the better.
Shooting is again decided by the roll of the dice, though the mechanism is again very simple. Any properties you need are illustrated on the cards for the model you are using, making it all very simple. Many standard models can only fire once but specialised shooters (such as Legolas for example) is sometimes able to fire multiple shots, and refreshingly, you can do so against multiple opponents instead of being stuck with one single target to fire multiple shots at.
Combat is another phase of the game that is remarkably simple, much more so than the other LOTR games found at www.wargamesonline.co.uk. Victory is again decided by a roll of the dice: whomever rolls the highest wins the combat. There are various special rules to consider based on your character and also your position (you can use terrain as a defense position, for example). Magic is also quite an obviously inclusion in the game as it allows you to cast a certain number of spells one time for each turn. Will points allow you to resist magic spells. Heroes play a large part in the quest as well, allowing for strengthening of surrounding troops as well as being remarkably adept at either shooting, in combat, or also with magic spells.
Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game is significantly more fast-paced than many Games Workshop games. The rules are relatively simple and yet promote an extremely complex game that can be enjoyed by anyone that is a fan. The miniatures are very detailed as well as abundant in number, and everything you need to play comes in the set, with additional/replacement figures available from Games Workshop of course. Keeping up with more recent trends, you can also find The Hobbit Miniatures Game at Games Workshop.