The Fall of the Necromancer Supplement

This supplement gets three heroes and two stinkers. For those of you who want the more standard rating system, it rates an 6 out of 10.

I have never been too dissapointed by any of the Lord of the Rings supplements put out by Games Workshop, but although I am not too dissapointed, I am not all that impressed with this one. The book features all of the snazzy pictures of miniatures and great layout as the previous supplements, but overall it just fails in a few crucial aspects.

After reading the supplement over a few times I just felt unimpressed, and a little let down, but at first I couldn't put my finger on it... Why would this book seem to be a let down considering that it seemed to have all of the pieces for success? I mean, there were lots of pictures of the new figs, some interesting scenarios, and even some terrain articles...

I guess the first thing that I realized I wan't too happy about were the figs themselves. Don't get me wrong, I was quite excited about a pack of plastic wood elves. I mean, I really wanted to do a wood elf army for some time, but I was held back by the costliness of the metals (I only ever picked up three). The figs themselves look pretty good as well, so they certainly were not the source of my unhappiness... Unfortunately, sometimes, the good outweighs the bad. One thing though, it is worth noting that I always thought those metal wood elves were a bit goofy looking. This is because I noted that their proportions were not as fine and proper as other figs in the LotR line (like armoured Haldir and Galadriel and Celeborn for example). Some of their wastes were unrealistically thin. Furthermore, I could really see their resemblance to the Warhammer Wood Elves (and elves in general for that matter). I think this happened because GW got their Warhammer elf sculpter to do them, and why wouldn't they? Except that the sculpter seems to have done less work making the switch to LotR than his peers (such as the Perry Borthers and Brian Nelson). Unfortunately, it seems that the same is true for the metal wood elves released with this supplement. But I digress...

The Castellans really were the figs that put me off the most. I have heard a lot of criticisms about them, but here I am going to attempt to articulate the exact reasons for their downfall. Again it comes down to proportions for me. I had a good look at these figs and noted that their proportions were out of whack with the rest of the GW line for a few reasons. The feet were the first thing I noticed. The feet are twice as long as the feet of the wood elves. Twice as long! The miniature itself is the same height, but the feet are twice as long! Secondly the hands are at least twice as big as a number of other LotR figs. Finally the head is simply huge compared to other figs in the range. I realize that they are supposed to be wearing armour, but armour alone cannot account for the proportion problems here. GW should really have been more careful with this as it is well known that many LotR players are quite concerned with issues like these.

The thing that is the worst about the Castellans is that the concept art is quite good. Some of it is actually excellent, but the GW miniature sculpts just failed to capture the coolness of it... One thing GW did do well with the Castellans is that they are painted decently, which is a step in the right direction (the dwarves figs were great, but their paint jobs killed them in the first supplement).

The other miniatures problems with this supplement were the bat swarms and the spiders. To me the bat swarms are cool, but the largeness of the bats kinda puts me off. To be honest, I like the more swarmy look of the Warhammer bat swarms. But still, they weren't too bad. The spiders were somewhat static as well. The sculpts are good, but the poses leave something to be desired. I won't even get into the Spider Queen... Interesting idea, but the fig just doesn't get there...

Finally, Sauron. I find it strange that they actually made a Sauron fig... I mean sure, they mention that he cannot take physical form in the supplement, but how can they have a fig for him if he cannot take physical form? I realize it must have been tough for them coming up with a line of evil figs for this supplement, as there wasn't much to go on, but I had a hard time with this one. Still, by making him into a wraith, it kinda works. The wraiths can't really take physical form either and they use their cloaks as diguises, so I guess Sauron could do something similar. So, for all the downfalls of the miniatures in this supplement, I give it one stinker...

Although not great, this supplement has some great stuff. A powerful fighter Galadrial is really nice to see. Sure, I would like it if she could wear armour, but it is cool that we now have the option of fielding a powerful female character! This also gives me the opportunity to do some fun conversion work! Don't get me wrong, the White Council Galadriel is great! As a matter of fact, all of the White council figs are pretty good. Glorfindel was redeemed and Cirdan is just perfect. Saruman is good as well, but how many Sarumans can one have ;). The only exception was Thranduil. He seems to remind me somewhat of a US in the 1970's era hippie type... I like hippies, but Thranduil isn't even good enough to pull it off properly. He is more like one of those rich kids who tried to dress hippie because it was the in thing to do... :) But I digress. One hero for Galadriel's profile, and one for the White Council.

Conceptually the book itself is not too bad. There were some consistency issues though that were pretty serious. Last Alliance elves fighting alongside third age wood elves? I had a hard time with that. It would have been better if Elrond had been repainted in Haldir's Elves colours and fielded with Haldir's elves. Why? Well, according to the WETA back story, Haldir's elves were not wood elves at all, but the elves of the third age. So the second age elves were history and should not be included here... Oh well. I won't give them a stinker for that, but it is worth mentioning :)

The second stinker comes in for two reasons. The first is that this book lacks the interesting backstory and development that previous supplements had (with the exception of the A Shadow in the East supplement). This is beginning to disturb me a bit more, as it seems that the effort going into the books is waneing... The second reason (and primary) is the terrain. The terrain just doesn't live up to the A Shadow in the East supplement. The construction and execution are good, but the concept and design are very poor. The Spider Queens abode is probably the worst piece of terrain I have ever seen GW do. Imagine the interesting stuff they could have come up with for a Spider Queen's lair, but instead them make a simple house out of foam core and cover it with cotton balls...

The worst though is the Tower of Dol Goldur. That is hardly a tower, let alone the tower of Dol Goldur. I mean, that would barely make it to the status of a secret door to the place, let alone the tower itself. Although well executed, it is a very poor representation. Furthermore, it lacks the interesting detal of the Easterling Temple in the A Shadow in the East supplement. Not little metal bits or anything like that.... Definitely worth at least one stinker for sure.

Finally, I decided to award one more hero for the plastic wood elves. I love plastics because they are cheap and allow me to build larger armies. These plastics are also quite nice thanks to the talents of the Perry Brothers, so they are certainly worth a hero.

All in all I would still recommend this supplement. Although the hobby articles fall short and the scenarios are not all that interesting, it is still worth it for the character profiles, specifically the Free Peoples character profiles. So, at least for good players, this is a good addition to the other Lord of the Rings supplements.