I saw this thread a few days ago and decided I needed more time to summarize my thoughts. After a cumulative three hours of gawking over the course of three days
I think I'm ready.
The Farm and Windmill: Everything anyone could possibly say wasn't in the MMV regarding castle civillian life is in here now. Pitchfork! It needed a sentance all it's own
. Three peaseant figs with printed torsos (two with hoods) three dragon soldiers (tied for most in any non battlepack set) are a great selection for minifigs. I don't see anyone else having noticed this, so I'd like to call attention to the new face on the peasant woman. I like the new goats, the chickens are great (it always bugged me having chickens half the height of a minifig), and the horse, although printed, is abundantly useful for anyone at all who has a cart to attach it to. I also took the time to look over the run of the mill (pun intended) bricks and was pleseantly surprised. It is mostly made up of small bricks in dark tan, brown, and dark grey, all of which are endlessly to me. The appearance of the new shutters, the bucket, the new doors, and the printed pig definitely stamp this set in my must have multiples list. I only hope it's a $50 set so I can die and go to a room full of legos.9.99/10 for sure.
The Carriage Ambush: Definitely the weak link of the line for me, but I feel it's weak like iron compared to steel, weaker, but not incomparable. I love the printed horses, both as carriage horses or potentially as ornate war horses. I also like the chance to get the king in a smaller set (even without his euro armor). The carriage itself is nice, but not especially original. It is a great size and shape for a royal coach, but the roof is poorly done and the single gaurd is just not right. The trees are actually a redeeming factor for me, as it's hard to get allot of foliage in sets, and for dark green thats the only place to get it. At the very least I'd say this is better than the royal chariot from 2009. 7.5/10, it will most likely be bought, but multiples are unlikely.
The Wall: Okay okay, we've all seen this before. A modular wall with four gaurds, a poorly made siege engine, a horse, and a prison cell. It's not original, but I'm glad to see that this one comes with a knight with a unique helm, shield, and horse barding is a pretty nice set exclusive. Whats more, I'll wager this is the $20 set of the line, and at that price you are close to the battlepacks in terms of fig value, pluss you got the unique stuff, the horse, and the wall itself (which does not contain allot of large prefab wall parts). I'll give this set an 8.5, multiples likely, but not gaurenteed.
The Blacksmith Shop. We have definitely had a disproportionate number of blacksmiths compared to any other peasants, and this guys sshop is nothing special, but if this set is $10 or less then thats an offer I can't refuse. Firstly there is the simple fact that this is the second civillian set in the line. This in itself speaks volumes about the fact that lego is considering our opinions (or coincidentally agreeing with them) more than ever before. Second is the fact that we get a peseant complete with black hood and printed torso in a small set. We also get a great helm and the new blank pearl grey euro armor in a set that can well be considered army builder size. The chicken and the buchet are deal sweeteners as well. The heroica weapons seem to be somewhat controvercial because of their small size and faint resemblance to MBs, but since they have yet to replace anything else they are just fine with me. the bow is ugly, but I'm sure I'll find a use for it when I get it. The other weapons will all most likely go to the dwarves, for whome this will be a godsend considering their short legs. I'm actually excited about the appearance of a real dagger razther than a cooking knife, so heroica is good with me. Blacksmith Shop gets 9.5 and must buy multiples status from me, but I'm a generous judge.
This year is giving us over a dozen new elements, most of which have been sorely wanted for some time. It comes with a generous assortment of earthy colors and small bricks, and its the first ever castle lineup to focus more on the civillian life than the military. 9/10, and a great day for AFOLs in my opinion.