The Hobbits

After a long stint of not writing any reviews because I've been programming for a big project. The programming is done and now it's time for a review of a simple people who have no use for things like Java.

Hobbits: Bilbo, Fatty Bolger, Folco Boffin, Frodo, Merry, Pippen, Robin Smallburrow, Sam Gamgee

Hobbits are a race not like any other. They are almost exacly all the same, but for a few numbers that change from character to character. They all have 1 prowess (Folco has 0), 9 body (Fatty has 8), and some sort of corruption bonus. They aren't good utility characters, but can be very useful in certain situations. Plus, they're fun to play.

Hobbits have no high mind characters, and their middle range characters start at 5 mind for Bilbo and Frodo. The two are almost identical, 2 MPs (but you loose two if one's eliminated). They are weak at 1/9, but they're scouts so can use the myriad cancelling cards that exist. Barring that, most companies have someone around who can protect a hobbit. They also have 1 DI which won't do much without enhancement. Frodo's diplomat skill lets him use some of the faction cards, but it's usuaully better to let someone else do the speaking while the Hobbit does the sneaking. The big advantage to Bilbo and Frodo is their +4 to corruption checks. This means Bilbo can carry Orcrist, The Mithril Coat, and an Elven Cloak and only fail a corruption check if he rolls a 2. Perhaps the most obvious use of this feature is The One Ring, which normally imparts 7 corruption points. With a normal character you have to be frightened by the fact that he will fail more than half of his corruption checks on the way to Mount Doom, which is not the best way to take it. With Frodo you just have to be scared that he'll roll a 2 or 3. And with some Fellowships you can even face cards like The Will of the Ring or The Ring's Betrayal with confidence.

The other middle-mind (4-6) Hobbits are Merry, Pippen, and Sam Gamgee who I would argue is a better all-around character than Bilbo or Frodo. His Scout/Ranger combo lets him be a very defensive character, his +3 to corruption checks works as well as the other two for most purposes, and his low mind makes him easier to control. Plus, you don't lose 2 MP if he's killed. This is, of course, why he's uncommon while the other two are rare. Merry and Pippen can be useful scouts in a company and their +2 to corruption let them tote items for the rest of the party. Their one higher DI usually doesn't make up for the fact that they have 1 less skill and one less point of corruption bonus than Sam, but I sometimes find it so hard to put in one and not the other (counting only one towards the hazard limit) that I'll put both in a company without Sam.

Hobbits have a few characters in the low mind range as well. Robin Smallburrow appears in 40% of the fixed packs and at 3 mind is a pretty good buy for a company planning to have some items to be carried or a scout to play cards like Concealment. Folco Boffin is decent, with one less prowess than Robin, and his ability to discard himself at a haven to bring in another Hobbit can be useful if you don't quite have enough GI for that last hobbit in your company, though it doens't happen too often. Fatty Bolger who, I am pleased to announce, is now available from ICE for a Self Addressed, Stamped Envelope, is a very good addition to a Hobbit company. Now you don't even have to wait for a card like Concealment or Hobbit Stealth to face that big nasty Dragon auto-attack, you can just have Folco step up and Fattty cancel the strike.

As a whole, the race has some advantages and disadvantages. Their main point is their corruption bonuses, so they aren't too useful in a deck which has its items under control. They all share the Scout skill, so can make use of most of the cancelation cards, which can really help a weak party against even the strongest attack decks. However, they are weak prowess wise (though tough to give the final death knell), so you almost NEED lots of cancellers (or lots of big warriors) to protect them. The other main disadvantage of Hobbits is the fact that, unless you start with one, it can only be brought in at Bag End which is almost always a turn out of the way. While most decks which want the use of a Hobbit start with one, in many sitations it may better to wait to get some items to strengthen up the company before hiring the assistance of a burglar.

There are very few hazards which specifically target Hobbits (how many people use Lobelia S-B?), and they are immune to lots of them (most corruption, Lure of Power, etc.). Convesely, though, there are lots of resources to help the little people. With cards like Hobbit Stealth you can avoid damage to your Hobbit, with Burglary (the card or the optional rule) you can pretty easily make off with items even when the auto-attack is pretty tough. There are also cards like Riddling Talk which just rocks with a company of Hobbits. And a company of four Hobbits running hither and thither with Stealth or Ford (and then Burgling a site and Thoroughly Searching) is about the most annoying thing to face on the face of Middle-earth. A deck built around Hobbits can also take the route of having as many Hobbits in the company as possible (with Gandalf and Hobbit-lores). Usually all the attacks can be canceled, the auto attacks are easily dealt with, and you can do things like grow a Malllorn, fetch the Hobbits faction with Mistress Lobelia, have several Noble Hounds, and lots of character MPs. I can say from experience that this is a pretty effective two-deck deck, though it needs cards like Stealth and Thorough Search to effectively compete speedwise with something like an Indy Deck.

Hobbits can be pretty fun to roleplay. With pretty well defined personality types, one can easily go on about the simple things, how it's miserable crossing the Creul Caradhras, how you wish you were back home with Smoke Rings and Twice-baked Cakes. Sam can be especially fun to play, playing up the "Hobbit sense" and his devotion to his master. Plus, when you're facing a company of 4 Hobbits who cancel your every move, you get to say "Hobitssssesss. We hate them! Mean! Evil! Bagginssss, yes, we hate the Baginsssss, he stole our precioussssss..."

So a Hobbit burglar can be a useful addition to many companies and can be really good in a small group. Plus, they're just so cool.

(note: several raters just gave comments, other numerical ratings. The numbers 1-5 after the ratings is how the rater ranked the race compared to the rest)
Ratings for the Hobbits:
Isildur: 6.5 (5)
Bandobras Took: 10.0 (1)
Farmer Maggot: 8.5 (3)
Samwise: 8.0 (4)
Strider: 10.0 (1)
Fingolfin: 7.5 (3)
Beorn: 8.0 (2 tie)
Legolas: 9.0 (1 tie)
Average: 8.25 (2)

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Card names and text copyright 1996 by Iron Crown Enterprises, all rights reserved. This document copyright 1997 by Trevor Stone. Permission given to duplicate so long as no profit is made and the copyright notice is kept in tact, blah, blah, blah.