With 'Hobbit' Movies On The Way, Hobby Gaming Publishers Prep New Releases

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien are a natural fit for the hobby gaming market, and publishers are well aware of this. The list of games set in Middle-earth totals well over a hundred different products since the books were originally released, and we're not even going to get into how many games have drawn inspiration from those stories.

With a series of movies based around "The Hobbit" nearing release, Tolkien's works will continue to be lodged in the public consciousness, so expect a steady wave of hobbits, orcs, dwarves, and elves to hit your game store's shelves. Just this week, Fantasy Flight Games and WizKids Games both announced new games based on "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit."

First up is "The Lord of the Rings: Dicebuilding Game," a January 2013 release. Building off of their success pioneering dice-building as a game mechanic with "Quarriors," this marks WizKids' first use of dice-building outside the "Quarriors" franchise. The concept of dice-building is simple: each turn's options are limited by a roll of the dice, but as the game progresses, you can change which dice you roll.

These aren't just standard numbered dice, though. Each die contains unique abilities, forcing players to make strategic choices in which dice they add to their pool. Dicebuilding games are known for having a lot of dice, and "The Lord of the Rings" game is no exception with 97 total dice.

Co-designer Jeff Stahl shared some of the game design's details with fans at BoardGameGeek.com, revealing that the game will be co-operative in nature, although players can choose to play in a more free-for-all style with a single winner. Paul DeStefano of WizKids chimed in, making sure to state up front that "The Lord of the Rings: Dicebuilding Game" is not simply "Quarriors" with LotR-themed dice.

"Quarriors" introduced the concept of "Corrupted Quidity" in an expansion, and since the power and lure of the ring will be so important to his game's theme, DeStafano specified that "corruption is integral to the game, but handled differently." Another example of a rules change is the lack of a standard method for culling dice beyond use of special abilities.

Next up is Fantasy Flight Games, which announced their second "Hobbit"-themed expansion to their "Lord of the Rings"living card game. Following up on "The Hobbit: Over Hill and Under Hill," this expansion will re-visit some of the characters, such as Bilbo Baggins, and provide updated versions of their cards. The game also introduces Treasure cards, a new type fittingly introduced in a set where players will encounter the dragon Smaug.

"The Hobbit: On The Doorstep" will focus on scenario-based play, putting players into the following three situations: battling spiders in Mirkwood Forest, sneaking into Smaug's lair to discover his weak spot, and partaking in the Battle of Five Armies.

While "The Lord of the Rings: Dicebuilding Game" and "The Hobbit: On The Doorstop" are just two recently-announced Tolkien games, expect plenty more to come. Fantasy Flight Games will continue to expand their living card game series, WizKids shows no signs of slowing down (they only just released a Nazgul-themed board game), and newcomer Cryptozoic Entertainment obtained the "Hobbit" movies rights with a plan for seven (!) different card and board games.