Sunday, August 7, 2022

Games Workshop Middle Earth Preview

Games Workshop hosted a dedicated Middle Earth preview stream on thier Twitch channel today.  This has not happened before, or if it has, not for a very long time, so people got hyped up!  For me it started at 6AM!  I woke up at 5:56AM, put on my Bose headset, and fired up my Galaxy Tab to watch.

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.


  1. Couldn’t agree more Jay. I saw an online YouTube summation of the feed from GW today and thought it would be a little more spectacular. Do you know if the Osgiliath ruin is totally new or just a reboot of the ruins that brought out as a boxed set years ago?

    1. Hey Carlo, those are new ruins. Lot's of duplication here. Hell, while the new Elrond model is nice, so was the one already available.

  2. GW's stocking problems with this game are ridiculous- as you note, they're really the only retailer which can't keep a line in stock with any regularity, preferring to offer spotty availability and made-to-order runs which benefit resellers above all.The new Glorfindel and Elrond models are nice to see in this respect as mounted versions of these characters have been hard to find for some time. But for the most part the new character models please newcomers and diehards, but for those of us who already have a Faramir or Aragorn, there's little reason to buy another. Plastic warrior sets would be nice to see but they seem to have no interest in bringing those back in.

    I do wonder about the business model of the game as a reason for the rise and fall of the WotR system. After they'd established the core lineup by 2006-7 or so, they had the option of expanding it endlessly - as they did with stuff like the Khand range, which is almost entirely original - or encouraging players to buy more of the core box sets, as they might need to with a mass battle system like WotR. At this point in time, with a box of 12 warriors running north of 25 GBP, there are very few gamers who will be buying into a system which needs forces with over 100 miniatures.

    Curious if you don't figure that the newer supplements (War in Rohan, Scouring of the Shire, etc.) offer a decent set of linked campaigns. I thought this was one of the strengths of the newer offerings GW has been putting out.

    1. Hey there! You hit the nail on the head, totally agree. I did overlook those newer MESBG supplement books. They could do similar for larger battles/WotR. But, you hit the bigger point, the cost of entry - hell, even for the skirmish game - is very high.

      They could do Warmaster scale for mass battle ... but that is a large investment. But, then you see companies like Warlord doing Epic ACW and Napoleonics with no issues and they are nowhere near as big or funded as GW.

      At least the core infantry sets got increased back to thier original 24 figues ... the years of 12 figures were painful.

      Honestly, I think GW has always been somewhat allergic to LOTR because it isn't an "original property" ... Rick P pushed them to do it. They made (a lot) and continue to make money off if. They can't get out of thier own way ... Rick P even admits that without the inspiration from Tolkien's works there would be no WH Fantasy or 40k.

      Oh well ...

    2. 'Oh well' is about all there is to it - you'd think the Lord of the Rings IP could support a more active release schedule, given how popular and influential Middle Earth remains.

  3. Excellent review, and depresses me about entry at same time. This isn’t the only line they reinvent the wheel just to sell models. I’m hearing rumors that they only want to sell expensive models and if you don’t buy it they don’t care cause they figure someone else will. I’ve been in and out of 40K so many times I’ve finally gone cold Turkey. New models, new rules makes your old ones obsolete. Just to expensive to keep up. The only product I purchase from them now is Adeptus Titanicus and I know there’ll come a day when they kill it for me.

    I’ve gone back to my old days of playing Battletech since the arrival of the new plastics have given it a breath of fresh air, and doggedly holding on Saga for my historical fix. Thank goodness for Footsore, Gripping Beast etc.


    1. Oh boy, I didn't want to depress you! For me it was all redundant ... nothing I need or want to buy. But then, I have everything I need to finish my LOTR stuff. That being said, everything you mention is spot on. The number of wargamers out there with Stockholm Syndrome for GW is high and keeps them in business IMO ... they have a large IP that is admitedly really good and well developed. But if they didn't have that history and level of development, they would have truly alienated thier customers long ago with their approach to the business of wargaming. I think what frusterates me most about them is the wasted potential ... but I digress.

    2. Well you specifically didn’t, just hearing they do this across the board does. The figures are beautiful though there’s no arguing that for sure. I appreciate your honest assessment on the subject though. September 2nd fast approaching for the show, that gets me excited. If I ever do jump onboard my idea would be to have a small campaign with a large Rohan patrol chasing down orcs. I think that would be a decent bite to start off with.


    3. Sounds like a plan Kevin! September 2nd ... nothing is getting between me and watching the show. Can't wait - have been waiting for this for a long time!!