MESBG Scouring of the Shire Book Review

As promised, I want to take a closer look at the new Scouring of the Shire book which I am incredibly excited about.  While I’m happy to show a few images from the book, I’m not going to give away too much as I think everyone who is interested should go pick up a copy and support MESBG.  I had high expectations for this book (possibly even unfairly so) and the book contains a number of surprises, so let’s jump in!

Scouring of the Shire Book Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Games Workshop

What does it Contain? – As you can see from the Table of contents pictured above, a little over half of the book is scenarios with most of the rest of the book covering rules and profiles.  There is a brief section on creating your own hobbit hole which is appreciated as well.  As you are probably already guessing, this is primarily for people who want to play narrative scenarios.  There are rules in here for armies and Legendary Legions which will be useful for points matches and competitive play but I feel that this book is going to be enjoyed most by narrative players.

Scouring of the Shire Book Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Games Workshop

How are the Scenarios? – As followers of the site know, I only really focus on the narrative side of this game.  So I was really excited to see what this book would contain in that regard.  Featuring 19 scenarios is really impressive and while all of the original scenarios from the first Scouring of the Shire scenario are here, there are a lot of new ones too.

While I can’t judge how balanced or fun the scenarios are without playing them, what impresses me is that they look to have a lot of character and narrative potential.  One thing that helps is all of the new hobbit and ruffian characters.  Almost every scenario features a new character that is coming out from Forge World which should make each scenario pretty fun to play.  It is worth noting Scouring of the Shire features low model count games.  Most scenarios have between 15-30 minis in total and several scenarios have less than that.  A lot of the scenarios are on 2 feet by 2 feet boards so anybody who wants to play small scale scenarios that don’t take up tons of room will really like what is on offer here.  As far as terrain requirements go, you’ll want plenty of trees and you will need to build some hobbit holes as well.  There’s plenty of other stuff like hedges and fences that would be useful for some scenarios as well.  It is also worth noting that a couple of scenarios require 4+ hobbit holes so that part of playing through the scenarios will take time and money in addition to the minis.

Death of Lotho Scouring of the Shire Book Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Games Workshop

With that said, most of the scenarios seem really exciting to play.  The Death of Lotho is a great example.  It features Worm skulking around to try and assassinate the corrupt leader of the Ruffians but the model itself doesn’t emerge until Worm is ready to strike!  The special rules look really fun and lend themselves to subterfuge by the evil player but Lotho can buy off attackers with his ill gotten wealth so it is kind of like an evil versus evil scenario in that regard.  This is just one scenario in the book that got me excited and almost all of them have something interesting about them that I want to try out.

It is worth noting that the original Scouring scenarios are back but have been updated with new characters and rules as best as I can tell.  So if you’ve played them in the past, they will hopefully be worth giving another go.  The other thing that returns is the campaign rewards where the winner of each scenario gets some kind of benefit in a future scenario.  Some of these are really thematic like Farmer Maggot can show up in another battle if he defends his farm successfully.  Scouring of the Shire was one of the first LOTR books to have this system and I am excited to try it out in the future.  I think it should deliver a really nice narrative, perhaps even more than other campaigns GW has made thus far.

What else is in the book? – There are profiles for the new Ruffian and Hobbit characters as well as Legendary Legions.  I believe you need the Armies of the Lord of the Rings book for the generic Hobbit troop profiles which might rub some people the wrong way.  It does require a lot of different books to play the game but there are worse problems to have at the same time.

Scouring of the Shire Book Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Games Workshop
The Wolves of Winter features beautiful terrain that is only usable in a single MESBG scenario. It is truly for the dedicated hobbyist.

While they aren’t part of the narrative campaign, the appendix contains a few additional scenarios which return from the original Scouring of the Shire book.  These look like fun and are scenarios I’ve been wanting to play in the future so I’ll definitely give them a go.  There are a number of wackier (but still fun looking) scenarios from the original book which were not brought to the new edition so it is still worth tracking down the old book for LOTR and Hobbit fanatics like me 🙂

Scouring of the Shire Book Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Games Workshop

Any disappointments? – There are a couple unfortunately.  This book is a little lacking in new, quality images and terrain inspiration.  For example, the images do not feature any of the new Hobbit and Ruffian characters which is strange considering they have all been revealed by Games Workshop.  I wouldn’t expect GW to show you how to build a board or anything like that but it is disappointing that many the images use old terrain and boards featured in the original Scouring of the Shire.  While these images looked great ten plus years ago, making terrain has really advanced since then.  The newer images feature the work of someone featured on Warhammer Community and while his Hobbit Holes look nice and are well done, they are not nearly as inspiring as the images were in the original book.  When I saw those images, I knew that I HAD to build a Shire board one day.  This book is really lacking in that kind of inspiration and in some cases, there are scenarios that don’t even really give you a great idea of what the board should look like beyond the map/drawing each scenario usually comes with.

Scouring of the Shire Book Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Games Workshop

The other thing worth mentioning is that while the book is cheap, it is surprisingly slim.  Anybody who isn’t a fan of narrative scenarios will probably not find enough content in this book to justify picking it up unless they want to play Hobbits or Ruffians.  That is not a negative for me but for other players, it may deter them from buying it.

My hope is that this book is a hit for GW and they continue making more narrative book scenarios like this.  There’s plenty of room for Battle Companies and points match type supplements too but I think narrative scenarios should be a staple of this game.  It is truly fantastic to see GW remake/update this supplement which was widely regarded as one of the better ones in LOTR SBG as well.  I’m pleased with the updates they’ve made and would strongly recommend this to fans of The Shire, narrative games, and/or someone looking for scenarios they can play without having to paint up tons of minis and make lots of terrain.

While I will continue to work on Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Scenarios in the near future, you can expect to see progress on Scouring of the Shire Scenarios now too.  I can’t wait to get started and build the Shire terrain of my dreams 😀

12 thoughts on “MESBG Scouring of the Shire Book Review

  1. Nice walk through of the book. It’ll be helpful for anyone contemplating buying it and making an informed choice. It does look pretty good for anyone who loves hobbits and the history of the shire. Lots of great narratives scenarios. Good luck on bringing those scenarios to the table. 😀

    On Sat, Jul 27, 2019 at 11:10 AM Battles in Middle Earth wrote:

    > Kuribo posted: “As promised, I want to take a closer look at the new > Scouring of the Shire book which I am incredibly excited about. While I’m > happy to show a few images from the book, I’m not going to give away too > much as I think everyone who is interested should go p” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stew! The news article I wrote about Scouring of the Shire a little while is quite popular here on the site so I figured I had to do a review and I do hope that people choose to pick it up. It is a nice book with a lot of scenarios! These new books make the old supplements look a little thin on content, especially the meaty Gondor at War one 🙂

      Like

  2. I really like the fact that it’s so packed with scenarios and am particularly happy about the linked campaign system, like the one in Gondor at War. For some reason I just really love campaigns in games, where the outcome of a certain scenario has consequences later in the campaign. The scenarios look fun and unique too and I’m really looking forward to playing them (eventually).

    I was also disappointed by the lack of picture of the new models next to the profiles and by the fact that a lot of the impression images scattered throughout the book seem to be recycled from a decade ago. However, on the bright side: all the new models (except for Rosie) have been shown fully painted by GW on 10-05-2019. This means this book was finished and sent to the printer at that date (at the latest), meaning work on the next supplement has probably started somewhere around that time (again, at the latest). So that means the next supplement might already have 2 months work gone into it (since I believe Jay Clare is now a full-time rules writer for Middle-Earth SBG).

    It’s very clear reading your article that you are very enthusiastic about this new supplement and this setting. Personally I like the setting, but am really looking forward to a Rohan/Isengard at War supplement, with hopefully the re-release of older miniatures such as Théodred (on Foot), Sharku (on Foot), Eorl the Young, Wildmen of Dunland, Dunlendings, etc. and hopefully some new Ents (including new Ent heroes). Eventually I hope they’ll update and re-release all Journey books from LotR and The Hobbit, perhaps in one big tome (or one for The Hobbit and one for LotR). But I hope they’ll do that only after they’ve explored all the major factions (such as Rohan/Isengard and a War of the Ring-setting with Elves, Dwarves, Beornings and other Free folk), so they can incorporate all new profiles and scenarios that affect the storyline.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear you feel similarly on the lack of pictures and the coolness of the campaign! I thought for sure that we were going to get a Rohan At War next before this was announced but that obviously did not prove to be the case. I personally would prefer a re-release (and updating) of the Journey books from LOTR and the Hobbit but I don’t think those books will sell as well as GW would like unless they provide content for people who want to play Points Matches. New factions like the Beornings and regions would be fantastic too. There are plenty of areas that the game has not gone (which are not in the movies), if GW can and wants to go there. I do think that the game is in a great place right now and the future is very bright which is great for us 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the review – I picked up the book myself, but it’s just gone in the pile for now. I’ll get around to it (much) Later, though the problem is that right now I’m still at the other end – painting models for the Fellowship Scenarios. Well, stalled at the Wargs due to puttying those dorsal fur tufts. bleugh. I need to get some more Vallejo putty with a nozzle applicator…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand and I was flipping through it the other day and realized that the campaign will take quite a bit of work to put together. I can’t remember if I touched upon this much in my review but the scenarios are terrain intensive with the need for plenty of trees, hobbit holes, some roads, bushes, and fences. The small mini count is offset a bit by that but in my mind, making some beautiful Shire terrain is hopefully part of the joy of playing through these scenarios so I don’t mind too much.

      Which scenario are you painting those Wargs for? The one in Fellowship of the Ring or the many scenarios in Two Towers that use them? If you would consider using minis at a slightly different scale, I would recommend the wargs from the Hobbit. They’re much better sculpts with (I would think) easier gaps to fill. They probably take longer to paint though because of the way the fur is done so that is worth keeping in mind too.

      Like

      1. The Wargs are for the Fellowship scenario, but obviously the plan then will be to use them in other scenarios going forth.
        As for the The Hobbit Wargs, I’m sure the painting wouldn’t really add much to the time – the issue is that I don’t have any of them and I do own a ton of the original style. Assembled, even. Even with the neck section puttied. Just not the back tufts.. bleugh.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There are quite a few scenarios that call for wargs so they will certainly be useful beyond that scenario. In that case, you’re better off to stick with what you’ve got and try to push through it. There are some gaps you have to smooth out with the Hobbit wargs, they’re just not particularly time consuming or annoying to take care of. I’ll be looking forward to seeing some wargs on the Bitz Box in the near future and I will appreciate the struggle and effort behind them too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It might well be the mid-future at this rate. The local(ish) hobby place doesn’t have putty with a needle-type applicator, so I might have to order from the UK. Which isn’t an issue, except I need a minimum of 50 quid for free shipping, which is AU$100, so I need a spare $100 and also another, say, $80 worth of hobby goods that I want/need to get from that same UK store…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Since it seems like a very frustrating thing to work on, maybe having to take a little break is not the worst thing in the world though I doubt knowing those gaps are lying in wait for you will give you much comfort 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh, they’re mostly on break. They’ve been mostly on break for probably close to a year, so they’re not causing stress. 😀 The putty thing is simply annoying because if it weren’t for those big gaps the models would be pretty easy to knock out and look decent, but I’m not losing sleep over it. Just that puttying is tedious, and I usually get around tedious stuff (trimming mold lines, etc) by taking things to work and doing it during lunch breaks and some meetings (where it’s actually enjoyable). Just that without a needle-type applicator, it’s harder to do at home, and pretty much off the table for doing at work!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Haha, glad to hear it! I get to work from home some and can squeeze in a little extra hobby time over lunch but I’m impressed that you bring your hobby to work. Not many people could do that! With that said, doing this kind of work during your lunch or during a meeting seems like an excellent idea as it is not really the most fun or rewarding part.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s