Magic in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Strategy Battle Games were never quite right. The good news is that Games Workshop has undertaken the task of re-working it and improving it for the Middle-Earth re-launch. Here’s how.
The original Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game that launched many moons ago was a test bed of a lot of really cool ideas. Many of those ideas got incorporated into other Games Workshop properties. At the same time, the game had some flaws and it tended to struggle to find it’s competitive scene here in the US. It never really got to the heights of popularity one would expect for a game based on Tolkien’s work with models produced by GW.
One big problem folks had was with Magic and how it worked in LotR. But now, GW has taken a good look at the Magical Powers and done a lot of work to correct many of those issues. The Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game has a revamped Magical system that tweaks the original and makes it a bit more subtle and less dominating.
In the previous edition of the Strategy Battle Game, Magical Powers were a very dominating and defining factor in the style of play, especially in Matched Play games. Whilst this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – Wizards and Ringwraiths are powerful beings, after all – the magic we see in action in the films and books is typically subtle and intricate rather than all-conquering.
Because of this, we have made a few changes that directly affect Magical Powers, all of which will help to make magic that bit more subtle – just the way Tolkien intended! Let’s have a look at some of the changes.
So what are the Big Changes? Let’s start with how Heroes can resist those powers.
Now, if you roll a Natural 6, you get the Will point back. It’s a nice change that should help Heroes last longer against those devious spell-slingers in the game.
The Tides of Magic are Shifting…
Another major change was that every Magical Power in the game has been re-balanced. Not only that, those same powers have moved from the unit’s profile to the main rules manual for easy reference (and so they could be used by other Magic Users). Plus, each spell ALSO has channeled versions, too.
Two of the biggest “offenders” were Sorcerous Blast and Fury. The previous version of Sorcerous Blast could potentially allow players to shove enemy models through whole ranks of models, knocking them out of position in an unintended way. The new versions requires more finesse and some strategic thinking now – and that’s a good thing.
Fury was another spell that was a bit of a problem on the scene. However, the new changes make it more in-line with the designers had in mind. Now it only works on models with the correct Keyword. This closed a loophole that allowed it to cross some army lines it probably shouldn’t have.
New Magical Powers Inbound
The Magical Powers currently in the game aren’t the only thing that got changed. GW also created some new powers for the new edition. They are show-casing two of them:
Protection of Valar is a magic spell that prevents magic spells from targeting the model who is under it’s protection. Tossing this on a hero or a key objective holder should help stop some of the other spell shenanigans from making the game feel a little silly at times.
Enchanted Blades is another new spell that ups the chance to actually wound things. It’s pretty effective when you use it on a Hero!
These changes should cumulatively improve the feel of Magical Powers in the Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game. The tweaks to Will points, the re-balancing of spells, and the addition of new ones are all changes that needed to happen. While there has been a following of some pretty die-hard fans the question remains: Will this game gain some ground on the competitive scene in the US and abroad? Between these changes and the Force Construction Changes – we will have to see!
What do you think of all these tweaks and improvements? Have you considered giving the new Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game a shot?