View Full Version : what is so good abot SBG?

The Devourer
13-02-2012, 21:57
I often hear many LoTR players compare SBG (or other games based on the system) to other GW systems and say how much better it is. I've played a few small gams but never had the chance to really get into the game, so i'm interested - what (in your opinion) makes LoTR better than other games workshop games?

13-02-2012, 22:29
It's not better. It's just different.

Whitwort Stormbringer
13-02-2012, 23:59
Different strokes for different folks, really, but at it's core it's not that terribly different.

- The statline is pretty comparable to a warhammer statline but with different names.
- Fights are resolved by roll-off, with the winner attempting to wound his opponent rather than both getting to roll to hit and roll to wound.
- Rather than IGOUGO I move, then you move, then I shoot, then you shoot, then we have a shared melee phase.
- Characters have Might, Will, and Fate which gives them special abilities (saving throws, casting/resisting spells, heroic feats, etc.)

I personally like a lot of things about it better than the other GW games, but it has its issues and I don't know that I'd say it's across the board better than WFB (at least back when I played WFB, haven't kept up with new rules). The biggest thing is that overall it's not as bogged down with special rules and there's generally fewer dice rolls to be made, which a) streamlines gameplay a bit over the other games and b) makes for a generally more balanced game. It's also a great basic game engine that is easily adapted to other settings (hence the various historical iterations, as well as many fan-made games based off the LotR rules).

Optimus Anakin
14-02-2012, 02:20
The game is played differently. As you may know, it's I move, you move, I shoot, you shoot etc. Also every mini is moved seperately, there is no Broods, or Squads or Units. Every mini can work as a group or seperately. No co-herency to worry about. Less dice, and the heroes actuall feel like heroes, because as said before they have Fate and Might points.

It's different. I love it because you don't move,shoot, assault then your oppoent does the same as in 40K but I move, you move, I shoot, oh wait, my hero is going to shoot well because his a heroe and use his intervention rule. There is more options tactically, and more stuff to do.

It's not for everyone though, you have to like the style it plays.

14-02-2012, 02:42
It's a sleek, simple, well refined skirmish system. It has a neat combat system and a much better system for representing heroes than warhammer or 40k ever have.

The Marshel
14-02-2012, 02:52
the big thing is the balance. this is what SBG players (my self included) really like to harp on about when comparing to 40k, fantasy and even wotr.

As you've probably noticed by now sbg is incredibly simple in both rules and profiles. The simplicity makes balancing the game way easier then in the more complex 40k and fantasy where there are just so many factors to consider that you wont ever achieve true balance.

The simplicity of the ruleset actually makes it possible to derive the base cost of each individual race by comparing the stat gains of wargear and their respective point cost between each unit. a man for example is 5 points and have s 3s in every stat (but 1 for attacks and wounds of course). now consider a warrior of minas tirith, who cost 7 points base. the difference between a man and a womt is the heavy armour. the heavy armour makes a warrior of minas tirith d5 rather then 3. where is is an optional piece of wargear for any other warrior, heavy armour cost 2 points and ups defence by 2 points, so clearly the womt is just a man that comes with heavy armour, and as such cost 2 more points then a man with no gear at all. comparatively a warrior of rohan is 6 points, d4 and has armour as standard gear. again armour is typically a 1 point option that ups defence by 1 point.

you can do this for literally 90% of heroes and warriors in sbg and it works perfectly. there are exceptions, but nothing is really bad enough to "break" the game. Balance accross the profiles is incredible, and this means that army list writing doesn't have as big of an effect on the outcome of the battle. While you can still get your army list wrong, its way harder then in fantasy and 40k. this is probably the biggest issue in balance for the other 2 core games, and its not present in SBG at all.

the price we pay for it though is that sbg lacks the "in you face" special rules variety of the other 2 core games. this has its pros and cons and that lack of variety can be a deal breaker for some people, which imo is perfectly understandable. overall though the gameplay is more about what you do with your army rather then what you took in your army and equal points of any force should see a reasonably equal game (i've had exciting close games of lotr more frequently then i've had them in 40k) and if this appeals to you, give it a go.

Spiney Norman
15-02-2012, 15:20
the big thing is the balance. this is what SBG players (my self included) really like to harp on about when comparing to 40k, fantasy and even wotr.

Yes, balance is the defining character of LotR SBG. With both 40K and Fantasy there is a massive disparity between the effectiveness of different armies, usually because the most recently released armies top the pile (though fantasy has been getting better at this in 8th edition). For example, what happens in Fantasy when two equally skilled players, one with a skaven army and one with a wood elf army square off against each other... the wood elf guy gets systematically slaughtered 9 times out of 10.

Its just not like that in LotR, all the armies are very well balanced, and yet all very different, they have different strengths and weaknesses, just like in fantasy, but unlike fantasy all the abilities, wargear options etc are extremely well costed and there are no "I-win" buttons.

Plus you are playing a game based on the best constructed fictional world in the history of British literature, whats not to love about it ;)

I also think that Lotr has the best range of models out of the three systems, there are a few bloopers as with any game, but in the main, the vast majority of models are consistent in style and size and look great alongside one another.

The other thing is that SBG is uber cheap to play, you can play a decent sized game (500pts) for less than 50, despite recent price hikes in several armies, Moria will cost you a little more than that as they tend to have a lot of troops, but the likes of Easterlings or Galadhrim can be started fairly cheaply, and then expanded by adding in a few more expensive characters.

15-02-2012, 15:35
I agree with pretty much everything that Spiney and The Marshal have to say.

But i would just like to also say another thing on the balancing thing as unlike WHFB and 40K LotR players mostly self moderate as most of not all are indeed massive tolkien nerds and are not interested in power gaming with random lists. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, it's hard enough to do anyway with now inherently balanced the game is but adding on top that the great amount of self moderation the game has and it's perfect for people that want to enjoy the world of Tolkien on the tabletop.

15-02-2012, 20:09
SBG is deceptively simple. As has been said, easy to learn hard to master. Since there is no charge phase the move phase(which incorporates a charge component) is very important. Positioning for shooting and combat are a large component to winning. Priority, picking your combats, using might to call heroic moves, shoots and fights are other difficult things to master. Army composition is a part of it as well, a poorly built army will not do well.

15-02-2012, 23:42
the gaming experience is more interactive than GW's other games
SBG: i move, you move, i shoot, you shoot, we dice off fights
whereas 40k & WHFB: i move, i shoot, i fight, then i stand there and twiddle as you move, you shoot, you fight. sure i get to throw some saves but it is largely me watch you then you watch me.
not so simple but close enough

Etienne de Beaugard
16-02-2012, 01:20
I agree with most of what has been said. There are some glaring oddities in certain profiles, and some new warrior statlines seem to have creeped a bit. Overall the balance is good. One additional thing. SBG is the first game where I have seen formations and small unit tactics mimic what I have seen on reenactment battle fields.

Getifa Ubazza
16-02-2012, 02:47
I have not played many games yet. Mostly went through the Mines of Moria missions/quests and it was playing those that really made me realise how tactical the game was, dispite it's simplicity.

I feel that 500pt games are just perfect for me and would not play much bigger than that. SBG is my favourite because I get the same amount of fun from less models and less set up time than for the other 2 games.

With one box of soldiers and a Hero, you will have a fun game. You can't get that with the other 2 games.

The Marshel
16-02-2012, 06:54
I agree with most of what has been said. There are some glaring oddities in certain profiles, and some new warrior statlines seem to have creeped a bit. Overall the balance is good. One additional thing. SBG is the first game where I have seen formations and small unit tactics mimic what I have seen on reenactment battle fields.

Its amazing how the removal of special rules designed to simulate real world bonuses has seen players experiment with physical movement and formations to create real world bonuses instead.

16-02-2012, 07:15
Its amazing how the removal of special rules designed to simulate real world bonuses has seen players experiment with physical movement and formations to create real world bonuses instead. ^ This.

the SBG makes you think tactically and smart a lot more than just relying on special abilities to win you the game. You're not just paying points for a win condition like you do in 40K or fantasy. That makes sense in my head.

Dr Grant
17-02-2012, 13:13
There’s a few things that really stand out for me:

As others have said the Might, Will and Fate system. These do a really great job of making heroes powerful but not over-powering in the way that simply raising all their stats would. They also give any game against a horde (particularly Fellowship style battles against Moria Goblins or Uruk scouts) a wonderful war of attrition feel as they start off nigh on invincible but visibly get knackered as they game goes on, makes for some very tense final turns!

The models. For my money the LOTR range is the best figure range GW do by a country mile, the figures are wonderfully detailed and a joy to paint. The fact that you can pick up the 4 hobbits and distinguish Monaghan, Astin, Wood and Boyd is a wonderful complement to the Perry twins. The figures are also enhanced by the terrain. Thanks to the ‘every model moves independently’ rules, you can create some truly draw-dropping battlefields that, combined with armies of well painted figures are an absolute joy to play over. I love playing the Amon Hen scenarios as that’s one of my favourite sequences in the trilogy (for my money the best version is the 2 part scenario that was in WD years ago and is played over a 6’ x 4’ board), you can absolutely cover the table in trees, hills and ruins and it genuinely enhances the gameplay (my wife who has ZERO interest in playing will often stop by the table and remark “fair enough, that looks awesome”). This is something that I was never convinced of in Warhammer where I remember setting up the scenery with our units in mind as poorly placed terrain could essentially ruin the game. Simple things like having 20/30 individually placed trees placed around the board rather than 3 circular patches of trees gives a much better impression of a wooded hillside.

The simplicity. Others have noted the streamlined nature of the rules and the deceptively deep tactical options but, for me, there’s another massive benefit to the SBG ruleset. I got back into the hobby just over a year ago after a decade out (I used to play Warhammer primarily) and decided to try Lord of the Rings when my wife found a copy of the SBG rules manual for half price in Hobbycraft (she really had NO idea what she was letting herself in for). Unfortunately the gaming group I used to play with had long since lost interest/moved away and so I was entirely bereft of opponents. Still, I had a few friends who over the last 10 years had expressed interest in playing Warhammer despite having neither the time, patience or money to actually collect the necessary paints, figures, scenery etc. The problem was, even the most enthusiastic of my mates found it incredibly hard to get his head around the Warhammer ruleset, we played a game every few months or so and he found the army selection process utterly bewildering, he once summed up his feelings by saying “I enjoy the game but there’s no way I could teach someone else to play or play the game if you weren’t here.”

Now, conversely, SBG has an incredibly easy learning curve. As I said I no longer have a group of wargaming friends but I have a large group of friends who like the LOTR films. I’ve found that these guys (and girls) have all been impressed by the painted figures and been up for giving it a go. The real joy of the game is that you can play a half hour practice game (8 orcs against 6 elves or similar) and after that they genuinely have a good understanding of most of the game mechanics. The Journey Books are then the next natural step as they allow film fans to recreate their favourite moments without having to pick an army first: “You want to play the Weathertop scenario? Cool, you get 5 Ringwraiths, I get Aragorn & 4 Hobbits, off we go.” This is great for beginners as it removes the paperwork that a lot of casual gamers find off-putting:

“You want to try this wargame?” 
“Sure, looks fun!” 
“Cool, first things you need to do is sit down and do an hour of sums” 

Speaking from personal experience this has allowed me to now develop a ‘gaming group’ of 5/6 other friends, none of whom paint or collect figures but all of whom like the game, play the game and want to come over for an evening and play through the night. I think that’s pretty unique. These narrative scenarios from the Journey Books are also, largely, very well balanced and (with a few modifications) easy for a beginner to get to grips with whilst also challenging the experienced player. Balin’s tomb is a great example of this, it’s an iconic sequence in the film and one that I normally suggest as newbies first ‘real’ game. The beginner will always want to be the Fellowship which is fine by me. I must’ve played that scenario 10-20 times and I’ve never seen the Goblins win BUT I’ve come soooooo close on a couple of occasions that I completely believe it’s possible and I want to keep trying as the goblins! We’ve modded the scenario so it lasts 11 turns instead of 10 and on 2 occasions, I’ve killed 4 members of the Fellowship and needed a 4+ on the very last roll of the game to kill a 5th (and thus win for evil) but never quite managed it, one day though....That to me is the mark of an excellent game system, if an experienced player and an absolute beginner can both play it and get the same amount of enjoyment and challenge out of it. This just does not exist in Warhammer, long after my friend had managed to get his head round picking an army I still found myself saying things like “no, don’t charge your Great Eagle into the front of that block of 20 Grave Guard.” There’s also far, FAR less book checking than in Warhammer. I’ve created some dry wipe profile sheets for Fellowship, Isenguard, Moria etc. and you can often get through entire games without having to look up anything in the Rulebook. Compared to the hours of page turning in Warhammer you’ll find you spend far less time reading and far more time playing. So I guess for me, the best thing about the system is how easy is is to get your head around and start playing, which has allowed me to get more people into the hobby in general, a few of whom are now actually considering getting themselves some paints of their own...

Those are the biggest reasons I love SBG so much, there are more but I’ve rambled on for long enough, I really can’t recommend the system enough.

17-02-2012, 23:38
So well said everyone! I find myself getting Fantasy and 40k minis not to add to an army, but simply to paint and stick on the shelf. LOTR on the other hand has really won me over. The vastly smaller number of models required, the skirmish nature, the balance of forces, and the ease and speed of gameplay just make this game so much more enjoyable. And as Dr. Grant stated, you can really get creative with the terrain on the gaming table as you only have to worry about a single base fitting through there. The few games that I have had have been utterly epic, albeit on a much smaller scale. The gaming group at the local gaming store has worked up objective based scenarios. A local tourney leader was kind enough to put me through my paces...his Moria force vs. my Gondor troops. He even said "just use all of your painted stuff, don't worry about the points." At the end of the match, we tallied up the points just see what we were at and my force had 60+ points more of troops than his did. It was a very close game and I learned a lot from the match and my opponent took pleasure in teaching me tactics and rules as wel went along. We even gathered a small crowed from the 40k tourney that was going on!

What I enjoy the most about the game is that I can tailor my force to just about anything. The only real restriction are the number of archers, and even that helps to strike a good blance with the troop composition. I feel myself more attached and focused on the game since I have a smaller number of models on the table. Anyone can hide behind a horde of 60 or 100 whatevers in Fantasy, but what is your hero going to do when he's down to his last Might or Fate point and has 3 Urukai facing him down?