Gaming of all kinds gains inspiration from a variety of sources either directly or indirectly. Perhaps nothing has influenced gaming more than J.R.R. Tolkien's epic saga The Lord of the Rings.
The original Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, back in the 1970s, was heavily influenced by Tolkien's fantasy setting. Humans, dwarves, elves, orcs and halflings co-mingling in a fantastical milieu full of magic, dragons and the eternal struggle between good and evil can all be traced to the stories of Tolkien (which in turn had their own influences, but that's neither here nor there right now).
The latest game to be directly spawned out of the stories of Middle Earth is The Lord of the Rings Heroclix by Wizkids. While some may have rolled their eyes at the announcement, I was pretty darn excited by it. You see, back in 2003 Sabretooth Games (a now defunct subsidiary of Games Workshop) released The Lord of the Rings Tradeable Miniatures Game. I was just starting to get back into gaming, and was already a fan of Wizkids' Heroclix game. Games Workshop had already released their Lord of the Rings Strategy Game, but I wasn't interested in painting up miniatures at that point. The Lord of the Rings TMG,with it's pre-painted miniatures, seemed right up my alley.
Through the Sabretooth forums I was able to find another local player, and we would meet up periodically at a local game store and have a great time playing the game. But, the game didn't last long and soon passed the way of many a collectible game.
So here we are a good 8 years later, and Wizkids is bringing out a new LOTR game feature pre-painted miniatures and using their Heroclix ruleset.
The only downside is it was originally supposed to be released next week, but got pushed back to the first week of December.
Wizkids also has a LOTR-based boardgame in the works where players take on the role of the black riders trying to track down the Fellowship and stop them before they reach Mount Doom. I believe this one is slated for an early 2012 release.
On the subject of Tolkien-inspired games, newcomer Ares Games is releasing an updated version of the classic, and well-regarded, boardgame The War of the Ring. This is another game that I've wanted for years, but it was out-of-print. So, I'm really happy to see Ares releasing a new edition of the game. Ares has been publishing a series of articles on their site chronicling the development of this new edition. War of the Ring is expected to be in stores in December. You can check those out here: http://www.aresgames.eu/games/war-of-the-ring-line
Between Lord of the Rings Heroclix, War of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings Strategy Game, The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game and The One Ring RPG it's a fantastic time for gamers who are fans of Tolkien, and gamers in general!