I have mixed feelings on the previews that came out. I love Middle Earth in general and love that I can build armies with such great looking miniatures. That being said, I was left a little disappointed at the end of the stream. But, let's come back around to that in my final thoughts.
EDIT: Upon further reflection - don't get me wrong, all these new releases are beautiful models. GW has gone through long periods of completely neglecting LOTR, so anything they are doing is good to see as they are investing in the line. I think GW failed here is really helping explain some of the logic and reasoning that goes into their decisions. I can "read into" it and figure out most of it ... but it is always good to provide some insight into these decisions.
That being said, if you are new to LOTR miniatures then this I think should be interesting to you. Let's take a look at what they covered.
First up is a new starter boxed set, the Battle of Osgiliath.
They key takeaways on this:
1. The core miniatures (the troops) are not new - a mix of Minas Tirith Warriors, Gondor Rangers, and Morannon Orcs.
2. There are new hero miniatures for Faramir, Damrod, Madril, and Gothmog (foot and mounted). If you get these guys confused, Madril is the Ranger hero with the white hair that gets speared by Gothmog at Osgiliath. Did we need a new Gothmog model? No, no we didn't. Did we need new Madril and Damrod models? Also no. The existing versions of these miniatures are both available and great looking ... so this feels just redundant at this point.
3. If you play MESBG (Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game) then the rulebook that is included, while not new, is updated to included all FAQs/updates since the rules last got updated 4 years ago.
4. There is a new ruins terrain set for Osgiliath.
Next up is a number of new models for the Elves.
This should make Elf players happy. Other than a unit of Galadhrim with Haldir (for the movie version of Helm's Deep), I currently don't have any elves, or any plans to get them. But, I have to admit, both the Elrond and Glorfindel miniatures are very nice.
Finally, they organized some starter battle sets for the main factions.
The four sets cover Rohan, Isengard, Gondor, and Mordor. No new miniatures, these sets contain existing miniatures. Remains to be seen if these sets will be discounted. But, this does help new players enter the game.
Ok, that was everything covered. If you are new to the game or wanting to get into the game, this is all good. However ....
This range and license has soooo much potential. I find that GW is focused on two things for MESBG: competitive play (building armies for tournaments) and character models.
This is fine, and makes sense for a skirmish system but ... there are some key things I think they could do that would appeal to the rather dedicated player base. My list is long, but 3 things off the top of my list are:
1. Close gaps and maintain availability the range. A perfect example here is the faction dice sets. We never got a dice set for Gondor but did get dice sets for Rohan, Isengard and mordor ... and for a bunch of characters (Gandalf, Treebeard/Fangorn, etc). So, do Gondor! Also, all those dice sets have long sold out and gone away. When miniatures and accessories disappear it is really annoying and makes for an inconsistent product experience. Trying to get people excited to play, only to immediately see the things they want be unavailable ... well, let's just say almost every other miniatures company doesn't have this problem (as consistenly and prolifically).
2. Bring back War of the Ring. It could use an update, but they could get away without updating it. This could be the gateway to getting some new core troop sets ... the existing troops, which make up the majority of any force in the game (skirmish or mass battle) are very old.
3. Historical (to Middle Earth) scenarios and linked campaigns. The original War of the Ring rulebook did some of this - the Fords of Isen being a great example. So many other game sysems out there do amazing linked campaigns or campaign books. The major battles are well known, but there are so many lesser known battles and because it is a fantasy setting, several made up (but related to events) scenarios they could make. This would be great for motivating an existing player base to expand.
Ok, there you have it. Perhaps the whole thing was a little over hyped leading up to it. There is good stuff here but I think so many are looking for GW to make some big moves here to promote the system ahead of the next wave of movie/TV series motivated players.