In the old site, I spotted a thread that asked the question: "what`s the LOTR Hex game like, is it any good?"
That`s a hard one to answer nowadays, as the system is totally defunct, and is played only by a few hardcore players who stayed with the game from the beginning to its (rather ignoble) end. The game never properly got off the ground like it was supposed to do, which is, in my honest opinion, a crying shame.
An `off shoot` company developed the game on a shoe string, and the idea was accepted and put into production in early 2003. All right, I`d be the very first to admit the rules were totally ripped off from Wizkids Mage Knight game, especially in the way Special Abilities worked... but the rules were greatly altered; concepts expanded, and everything made to fit neatly into a Middle Earth setting. The whole package was actually rather neat.
The rules were, however, dreadfully written, and it took several official re-writes of the rules just to make them readable and workable as a whole. Unfortunately, the initial rules included with the `starter set` were never bought up to date, and customers purchasing the starter were forced to use out of date rules - which couldn’t possibly work with many of the newer miniatures contained within the (latter) booster packs, due to the growing (and altered) Special abilities found on many of the models, which made these completely unusable for newbie players who were forced to use only their initial purchase of a starter set.
To make matters worse, nowhere (in the starter set) was it mentioned that (as they called it) successive `tournament` rules existed as free downloads for those fortunate enough to own a computer and printer.
This meant that the majority of customers never ever even knew that better and more up to date rules existed for the game. Most players simply struggled with the basic rules, and grew more and more confused by the dreadfully illiterate 7 page booklet, and no doubt walked away from the game shaking their heads in sadness... and remember, this game was not cheap (booster packs running at around $10 in the US - for four miniatures; or about 12 Euro in Europe, for some strange reason).
Combine this with the fact that the company producing the game could never seem t make up their minds how the game should be played. As a result we saw `tournament rules 1.1... 1.2… 2... 2.2... 3.... 3.1.... and finally 3.2. They were even making a 3.3 rule set when the company finally went bust a few years later.
So why did the company actually go broke? Now there`s an interesting story!
Basically, Games Workshop took a big interest in the small company producing the game, and eventually (in an act of magnanimous kindness) became the main shareholders of the company, and in effect took it over.
Immediately, they suppressed sales, publicity, and refused to stock the game in their own stores... and encouraged shops being supplied with their own wares to do likewise. The game was doomed, and the company’s fate was sealed. You have to remember, this game was running in direct opposition for sales of Games Workshop`s own Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle game.
The reason I have not named the small company who made the Lord of the Rings Combat Hex game is because they are extremely touchy and sensitive about their mis-management, and Games Workshop, even now, is not about persuing anyone who slanders this `tax loss` subsidiary venture of theirs.
Anyway, back to the game.
Once you get to the final official tournament version of the game (3.2), the game is remarkably good. I am happy to send a rules attachment to anyone who asks.
I own all of the base figure set, nearly all of the first expansion, and much of the following set. These expansion sets were called (respectively): Fellowship of the Ring, and the Two Towers . The final release was The Return of the King, but 99.9% of gamers didn`t even get a whiff of this set, because it never reached the shelves, and only those fortunate enough to pre-order a case ever got to play with them. Incidentally, these now fetch incredibly high prices on ebay.
A few special sets hit the shelves. Treebeard the Ent, the Cave Troll, the Mordor Troll, Winged Beast, Sauron, and the Balrog. Also there were a couple of Map packs, which added a whole bunch of double sided maps (much like the Horror Clix ones – only a bit bigger), which greatly increased game potential.
Is the game any good:
Simply put; if you are a Tolkien fan, like the movies or the books, this game is a treasure trove of sheer enjoyment. Those of you who enjoy the movies will be in for a special treat, as all the miniatures for the game are based on the charactors, costumes, and actors from PJ`s trilogy.
There is not a fortnight goes by when my gaming friends and I don`t play at least one game of LOTR Combat Hex. The rules are simple to learn, yet will take you a life time to master – much like Mage Knight, Hero or Horror Clix… though in truth, the rules for Combat Hex are probably a bit easier to learn.
The scale of the miniatures is slightly weird. Ordinary minions and heroes work out at 40mm per figure. The downside of this is that you can`t use them for other games, and neither can you include figures from other games into this one. But the plus side is – they look darn good, and those extra few millimetres makes a lot of difference to the overall look of the game.
… and of course, the miniatures come pre-painted. Actually, they’re probably the best pre-painted miniatures on the market, to date.
Anyone thinking of taking up this game should look to ebay. First purchase a Starter Set, this will get you going and provide you with miniatures, a double sided map, rules, and dice, and is enough to run the game through its paces to see if you like it.
Assuming you love it (and you will – trust me), you will need to purchase some booster packs. Try and flesh out your collection with as many of the Base set as you can. You could play this game for ever just by owning the Starter, and pieces from the Base set. The Base set includes all the Fellowship, Rohirrim (Eowyn is my favourite), Gondorian Soldiers, Elves, High Elves, plus Elrond and Arwen. For the enemy, there are Nazgul, Moria Goblins, Orcs, Uruk Hai, Easterlings and Haradrim…. all contained in the initial run of booster packs.
Successive sets flesh the game out by adding Mounted figures (like Rohan Riders), Warg Riders, Galadriel, King Theoden, etc etc…. even Smeagol.
Purchase Map pack 1 & 2. Though Heroscape hex tiles are PERFECT for playing this game, and could almost have been made with Combat Hex in mind.
But a word of advice. Anyone thinking of taking up LOTR TMG should do so sooner rather than later. Ebay still has a lot of stuff to offer, but this supply is fast drying up. I predict within a year or so, there will be little or nothing moving for this game on ebay.
I love this game, and am sure many others would too. I only wish the game hadn’t been so badly messed about and sales mis-managed. Otherwise I`m sure this would have remained a main stream game, possibly even to this day.
Six Sided Dice.<br><br>Post edited by: Six Sided Dice, at: 2007/06/08 06:09