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A couple friends of mine play Lord of the Rings and are trying to get me into it. I must say I am a fan of the books and the movies, and the price is very tempting. I have a couple issues with the game mechanics, though. Perhaps they are unfounded, as I have yet to play anything but a demo game my friend ran me through. It seems to me like quantity is really much better than quality in this game. Because of how fights are done where each player rolls off and the person with more guys in the fight get to roll more dice the game seems horribly skewed toward factions that have a horde of guys. If your model happens to get surrounded you are killed outright when they lose, which seems to lean even farther in favor of horde armies. My second issue is the to wound chart and how armor is dealt with. I can understand that they would want to streamline the game, because it seems like it is very time consuming with all the models acting independently. Having armor add to toughness is fine, it accomplishes something similar to armor saves, but not quite because the chart is different. Why does a chump goblin with a shield have the same defense as a character? With my limited experience I really had trouble wounding even with my heroes, which was discouraging. Am I wrong about these things? Does the game balance out in the long run? Thanks for your help.
Numbers will weigh in your favour, I'll grant you that. At the same time, though, if you lack a balance of very powerful heroes, decent numbers, and a fair bit of shooting, you will only do well in some of the scenarios and fail at others. Large amounts of troops will certainly help you in Domination but I think you need a fairly strong hero to do well in Contest of Champions, and that's just one example. Even if the hero doesn't do anything, he just needs to not die to deny your opponent those victory points. In addition, both good and evil have equal opportunities to make their numbers felt, even if they don't necessarily have them in terms of raw model count. I play the Fiefdoms for good, and while it may look like a fairly elite army, I can still roll a decent amount of dice in any given combat due to the fact that I can have spears and pikes. Of course, this means that shield wall formations are very powerful but bear in mind that your fairly numerous Moria Goblins have a worse chance of wounding someone than a captain.
LotR is a bit more realistic in the sense that Captains and other heroes aren't overwhelmingly powerful (with the exception of a few named characters *casts a sidelong glance at Aragorn*) and their strength lies in their ability to tip the tide of battle in your favour with heroic movement, shooting, and combat. I don't think that any one hero is overwhelmingly powerful in combat, though a Troll Chieftain is definitely one of my vices. If anything, when I first started, I thought that the game was weighted in favour of models with a high fight value because you can just get whatever dice rolls and (assuming your enemy doesn't roll consecutive 6's) win any combat automatically, simply by having a high fight value. Of course my first battle was against Aragorn but he's a bit of an anomaly in that way.