Been a long time hasn't it? New raters, flashy CSS, a site suggestion forum; it's obvious we have some fun times ahead.
This report was inspired from all of the recent reports on new games: Freelancer, Civilization 3, Zelda, fencing, etc.
It's my greatest hope that you all like it and leave a comment at the end, although I warn you, this could be considered
obnoxiously long. With the introduction out of the way I leave you to it.
I bought Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring a few weeks after it was released, and unsurprisingly for me, never really got
that good at it. It features the two most obvious factions, the Free Peoples of Middle Earth and The Minions of Sauron.
Because this is the first report on the game I'll try and give an adequate introduction; for those of you already aquainted
with it or who simply want to jump in, go here.
Note: all unit introductions in quotes are from the
War of the Ring website. I use them solely because I am lazy.
The Free Peoples of Middle Earth
The Free Peoples of Middle Earth, if compared to Starcraft, might find themselves a close fit to the Protoss.
Their units are expensive, sturdy, and slow to produce. They enjoy the advantage of being nearly unstoppable in late
game situations however, thanks to their vast reserve of healing spells and highly dependable warriors.
The Free People's cheap unit. They cost almost nothing to deploy (only 50 food- resources covered later) and can stand
their own against all but the strongest of units. Does cutting damage.
The short- and I stress, short- distance ranged unit. They have the same damage output as Gondor Swordsman, and
less life, but with upgrades they excel as specialized units. "Razor Edge" allows these midgets to throw their axes and
have them bounce from one target to the next, up to three in total. Think mutalisks here. The other upgrade, "Flaming Axe",
well, you may belong here if you can't figure out what this does. (If
you guessed that it adds a small damage bonus to their attacks and causes extra damage to buildings, you get a cookie.)
Fast moving ball-and-chain riders with moderate damage and life. Mainly used for hit and run attacks on bases. Blunt
damage. I actually think Riders are too expensive for their usefulness; sure, they're fast and they look cool, but it's
essentially a Gondor Swordsman for an ore cost of 30.
The Free People's ranged unit. Cheap, with excellent starting range (that can upgraded further) and so-so damage. They
are incredibly dangerous in moderate to large groups. The Elves major drawback is melee units. If even a weakened Orc is
allowed to close on an archer it's almost certain doom for our pointy-eared hero. Can be upgraded to have cloaks that make
them invisible while moving.
The pricey melee/caster unit for the good guys. Think of him exactly as you would a druid of the claw, with two forms. In
human form the beorning is weak (3 less damage than a Gondor Swordsman!) but can heal allied units with his Healing Herbs
skill. He becomes the perfect match for Trolls in his bear form, where his attack damage gets upped to 17 and his life is
doubled. He also has two similar abilities that knockback enemies after swiping them (in bear form of course). He does
Aside from having the coolest concept art of any unit in the game, the Shieldbreaker also has one of the coolest abilities.
His "Shield Break" upgrade allows him to lower an enemy's armor temporarily while he battles with them, allowing even huge
trolls to fall quickly without the aid of their thick skin. A group of shieldbreakers backed by archers and a beorning or
two is a lethal combination for killing orcs. Blunt damage.
"The ranger is primarily a detector unit. He has the ability to reveal the presence of camouflaged units like Haradrim
Raiders and Elven Archers. Eagle Eye is a line of sight upgrade that will increase his detection range. Rangers can also get
the Camouflage ability that allows them to move undetected in wooded areas. The Ranger can fight in melee combat, but is not
a standard battle unit due to a relatively low number of hit points."
Elven Guides are the essential spellcasters. They have outstanding range, 17 (starting archers only have 13),
and okay damage (11). They're useless for any real battle though, considering they have only 160 life and 0 armor. Where
they really shine is, believe it or not, spellcasting. They have three spells, Protection (think defense matrix), Dispel,
and Light of Lothlorien. Dispel is the same from War3, a small area of effect radius that negates enemy magic within it.
Light of Lothlorien is where it's at though.
There's a slight period of channeling before the Guide drops a veil of light upon the battlefield, which damages all Minions
within it. Great for crowd control. Piercing damage.
"Huorns are siege units. They do massive damage against buildings and towers, and can also cause substantial damage to units.
Huorns receive the Tree Form upgrade. When this is toggled on, a Huorn unit will "plant" itself in the ground. He is then
surrounded by roots that can entangle enemy units and prevent their movement. In addition, while in Tree Form, a Huorn's
regeneration rate is substantially increased." Blunt and siege damage.
The Minions of Sauron
In sharp contrast are The Minions of Sauron. These are the zerg. While the Free Peoples consist of a main alliance between
Dwarves, Humans, and Elves, the Minions are composed almost exclusively of Orcs. If you've seen the movies or read the books
you'll be able to guess that the Orcs, while individually weak, pack a punch when in force. In addition their bases can
only be built upon corrupted land.
The standard Orc. Not strong, fast, or particulary smart, it manages to get the job done. It is much weaker than a Gondor
Swordsman, with 40 less life and less armor. What Slashers excel in however, is group combat. Their attack rate is faster
than that of most Free People units, and in large numbers they can be overwhelming, even against an equal force.
Weaker than Riders of Rohan, but cheaper and (I think, not sure) faster. Blunt damage.
"The Troll Bonecleaver is the largest and strongest melee unit for the Minions of Sauron. An upgrade that allows the
Bonecleaver to attack all enemy units in front of it will make this already fearsome beast a master of brutal melee combat."
"A cousin to the Bonecleaver, the Stonehurler is a mighty beast that hurls massive boulders at its enemies. It can upgrade to
using larger boulders that break and damage all units in the area of attack, making it a strong answer to attacking units and
buildings from afar." Blunt and siege damage.
The zerglings of War of the Ring. They are the cheapeast fighting unit, and also attack and move unbelievably fast. In
terms of attack speed, think 2x as fast as most normal units. Match that with the fact that they are the fastest non-mounted
unit, and you have a recipe for one Emeril-class dish. Bam! They are extremely dangerous in mobs, as the distraction they
provide often allows archers or heavier melee units the time to organize themselves. Can be upgraded to move and attack
faster. Cutting damage.
"The Slavemaster is a unique unit with several roles. His presence allows the player to increase the army's population. In
addition, the Slavemaster places War Posts on the terrain, which corrupt the land and allow Sauron's Minions to construct
buildings on it, as well as gain a small amount of power from the corrupted land itself. Finally, the Slavemaster can bully
Evil troops in battle with his whip, causing them to run faster and attack faster." Blunt damage.
A weaker version of the *sighs* Elven Archer (let's out girlish giggle). Hmm. Let's see. Compared to it's Elven *sighs*
counterpart the Orc Bowman has:
- Less range (11 vs. 13)
- Less damage (9 vs. 14)
- Less life (125 vs. 180)
To make up for these overwhelming disadvantages the Bowman can be built nearly twice as fast as an archer, takes up less
food, and is ridiculously cheaper. So much so that the Free People are the ones who actually recieve the short end of the stick.
They can be upgraded to do fire damage against buildings, and have piercing damage.
GO AHEAD. GUESS.
Think of shades from War3. They are extremely cheap (in both senses of the word), serving as the casters of Sauron's army.
They come with three available upgrades, "Darkness", which makes a target unit move more slowly; "Greater Perception", which
increases the Wraith's line of sight/vision; and "Perpetual Darkness", which upgrades "Darkness" to blind a unit as well as
slow it. Piercing damage, and the ability to see cloaked units.
Deadly melee units that are fast and can be upgraded to remain cloaked while both moving and fighting. Because of this they
serve as excellent assassination teams- going out across a map during a skirmish and quickly eliminating the other party's
hero. Yes, hero, I'll get to that shortly. Cutting damage.
The badasses of the dark army. Though there is the noticeable lacking of them being an actual melee unit, they come
equipped with a shortbow and some cool face paint, which I guess makes up for it. They are essentially a copy of the Elven
archer, except with knockback! A passive ability, meaning no upgrade required, their knockback is amazing at getting rid of
strong melee units in battle, or for displacing archers/casters who had found a good strategic area to rain down on the
battlefield. Piercing damage.
Note: I left out "workers" as a unit type in both armies because I didn't feel it needed too much explanation.
With this nifty diagram you can see why I included each unit's damage type (the silver sword in the center denotes a hero)
in the introduction. The game of rock, paper, scissors falls such that cutting (weak melee troops) beats piercing (archers)
beats blunt (troll, beorning) beats cutting.
Taking a leaf out of Warcraft 3, War of the Ring also includes hero units. These are units with greater damage, armor,
and life than lesser units (obviously), and all possess certain powers that require fate points to use. Fate points are
recieved during fighting with your opponent, regardless of whether you're winning or losing. Most importantly, you do
not retain fate points for the entire game. If, for example, your hero "buys" a move for two fate points, he/she will retain
that ability for the rest of the game. You will need to replace those fate points afterwards with more fighting however. I
believe you can carry a maximum of ten fate points at one
time. I feel this introduction is dragging for long enough now, so if you're interested about the ten or so hereoes
go check'em out here.
Heroes must be bought with fate points,
and the more powerful ones are available at high tech levels.
Fate powers are the alternative use of fate points if you're not into purchasing a hero. Each faction has five different
fate powers- some range from temporarily blinding your opponent, to making your hero a god (albeit unable to resurrect), to
protecting your units from ranged attacks. Each power is extremely useful in a tight spot, and so I normally use them instead
of opting for a hero.
Resources are not very integral to War of the Ring. The two, food and ore, both begin in sufficient amounts at your main
on nearly any map to play through a long game. The only time I've ever needed to really expand was when I played
a famine type game, with dramatically less starting resources. Workers can harvest ore from ore piles and food from wells
normally, but it behooves you to build the proper facility on top of them which gives you a harvesting bonus. Foundries
can be placed atop ore piles, while mills are similarly placed upon wells.
Now, finally, I bring you to the action. This first game was played on the map
Sandbar, a very interesting four player map. Each start is linked to two others via a path on the far edge of the
map, while a bridge connects each one to a central fighting area. In the middle of the map is a randomly assigned shrine,
as well as four possible expansion points.
Note: I call this an introductory game because, well, my opponent is a computer set on the easiest setting. But keep
in mind this is only to aid you, the reader, understand the simpler nuances of the game. It's certainly not because I
suc- Carrying on.
Myself and the computer both randomed off in the beginning of this game, and to my pleasure I found myself starting off
as the Free People. Construction immediately began on both a foundry and mill, and three workers were queued up. My goal
was to start and end the game with a calvary rush- this is notoriously difficult to stop in the early stages of War of the
Ring unless you've built a tower. Before even building a barracks I began upgrading my Town Hall to the next tier, which
is the tech I needed to build my Riders of Rohan.
A barracks was started soon after and a camp I had made upgraded to war camp (camps provide supply for your army, a war camp
provides even more for a nominal ore cost). When resources allowed I started making my first rider, whom I always deem
"Scout Man". Kinkiness aside, he set off towards the middle of the map under my orders and found the map shrine.
Shrines are a cool feature in War of the Ring, each one bestoying a certain benefit or ability to your army. There is always
at least one available on a map, and there are about fifteen in all of the game. Some do as you would guess (+ to attack or
defense, etc.) but others are more powerful. One has the ability to reveal a large portion of the map for ten seconds before
fading back to fog of war; another the power to both slow enemy units and lower their damage in battle. Shrines are not
partial to sides however, so if you leave it and even one enemy unit comes close, the Shrine will instantly
switch over. It's not uncommon in games for Shrines to be heavily defended, even towered on in order for one side to hold its
After the Rider of Rohan secured the shrine for my advantage I sent him on a counter-clockwise path around the map to find my
opponent. With my luck he ended up finding it the last place he looked, right beneath my own base. As soon as I arrived I
saw a Goblin Slavemaster placing a war post. I knew that by killing the slavemaster- thereby denying the orcs supply- I
could achieve a huge advantage in the first few minutes of the game. I ordered the strike.
Things were going well initially. I mean, my rider was swinging his chain ball thing, the slavemaster was getting his
doughy ass rolled, things were looking up. Until he whistled and called his buddies in. Two warg riders and a wraith came
in to save their amigo, and my rider was told to return to base. I returned to my present duty, building an archer training
camp, when the message that I'm under attack came up again. What the?
In all his brilliance my Rider had run about 20 feet before turning an about face into certain oblivion. I frantically
grabbed Scout Man, not wanting to see him die, but it was inevitable. The lead warg rider gave him a malet to the head, and
well, you know how these things go. First blood to The Minions.
Well I wasn't just going to let Scout Man's death go unanswered was I? Your damn right I wasn't!
Six new Riders had completed their training right around when my scout died, and I waited for two more to reinforce them
before heading out. All Minion resistance accounted for at the time was two wargs and a wraith. There was a good chance
this rush would win the game. After a quick break spent pondering Nature's beauty, we headed out, emotions running high.
As my eight men approached the Minion base I ordered them to slow to a steady canter. Ordering the rest to stay behind, I
instructed a lone unit to go and test the waters. He was unfortunate enough to be clipped by a rock flung out of the fog of
My now seven Riders of Rohan charged headlong into the fog of war and were met in kind by four warg riders, a wraith, and a
troll stonehurler, troll stonehurler in elvish meaning OH GOD NO. Dancing my horsemen back and forth managed to stall
death from wargs, but more often then not the troll would fire a freaking boulder from long distance and finish them off
anyway. Finally the last warg fell, and with four remaining riders from the first party and four more I had ferried from my base, I closed in around the
troll. The thing kept snarling and smelled plain awful, but there are few things a ball and chain can't fix up in a jiffy.
See you in hell.
With the troll dead and eight riders still remaining, the game was mine. All that stood between me and total victory were
roughly 400 or so workers.
Ok, here we go...
Die already damn you...
I hope you have a better grasp now on some of the weirder quirks War of the Ring offers: shrines... Yeah that's about it. This is
a much better representation of a normal game. I set the computer this time around to Medium Setting (it may still sound
like overkill, but the game grows exponentially more difficult from easy, to medium, to hard. I guess you could compare it
to Diety level in Raider and .Praetor's Civ reports, with Hard being Sid). The computer and I both randomed again, playing
on the map Cirith Udun.
My plan this time around (I found myself playing the Minions) was to tech, and therefore give you a longer and more fitting
game to report. I started the same way as last game, with three of my four starting goblin workers making a foundry and the
other a mill. Queue three more workers and Sunshine of Your Love. As the last one popped out I ordered him to begin
construction of a Fortress of Mordor, the upgradable structure that houses all of your tech options within. When the
fortress finished I sent the idle worker to gather more food, and another I had made set to work making two towers that would
guard me while I upgraded the building.
I finished the towers just in time for a Free People raid, consisting of two Riders of Rohan and a Gondor Swordsman. Things
were hairy for a minute as I tried to draw the horsemen away from my workers (who were being manhandled), using a cheap
Goblin Spearman as bait. I was successful in distracting them, in the process probably saving four or five members of my
workforce. One of the Riders following the spearman eventually fell to the arrows being constantly fired from my towers, and
the other followed suit as my unit delivered the final blow to his weakened horse. As I turned to focus on the Gondor
Swordsman, I saw him cowering in the corner getting whipped by two Slavemasters. This pleased me.
Sometime during the confrontation my Fortress of Mordor had reached level two (of five) and I immediately began the slow
process of teching to level three. I ordered an idling worker to begin the construction of a third tower, which I knew I
would be needing since the computer very rarely ever stops attacking you.
Three minutes of uneventful laboring later:
The teching was going smoothly. My Fortress of Mordor (this is beginning to sound dirty) had reached level 3 without
interruption and I was faced with a decision. I could now begin hiring trolls to my cause, or I could go the way of the
warg rider, backed with spiders and haradrim slayers for harassment. Trolls at this point in the game would be an expensive
proposition, but wargs wouldn't really give me the power I needed to steamroll the Free Peoples late game. I began building
a troll camp with these cute guys in mind:
By now I had sent a scouting slavemaster to the map shrine, which turned out to be the
Wretched Sentinel. Not the most useful now
that I was building the buffest Minion unit, but at least I wouldn't have to worry about armor upgrades for a while. When I
had four trolls and eight spearmen (think of an ultra/crackling combo)
I moved out. (I love the smoke effect in that
Upon reaching the 12:00 Free People base I took stock of my forces.
- Lumbering beats- check.
- Sharpened sticks- check.
- Bad temperments- check.
I posistioned my goblin spearmen behind my trolls, and ordered the charge.
Things got messy as soon as my forces began crossing the bridge that lead towards the enemy base. Four riders of rohan, two
rangers, some archers and a dwarven axethrower met with my unit, and the first major battle of the game unfolded. Upon
analyzing the number of enemies I quickly broke my four trolls into two distinct groups. The first would stomp around and
make noise in the middle while the other would sneak around the back and take care of the ranged foes. The spearmen were
left to their own devices.
Some reinforcing archers showed up about halfway through the fight, but at that point I had
the situation pretty much under my control. My spearmen endured some casualties, but the Free People really had no way of
stopping my trolls on the bridge without the assistance of a beorning or two. When all the annoyances were dealt with, I
left the bridge and entered the Free People base.
FECK FECK FECK FECK FECK FECK.
I don't know who the hell was responsible for programming computer AI over at Liquid Entertainment, but there they were.
Six spanking-new towers, loaded with archers judging from the speed at which they were firing. The pleasant surprises didn't
stop there however, no! There was also a Huorn! Now it's a party!
While my spearmen dived at all available enemy units like they were cheap hookers I directed my trolls to gang up on
the Huorn. Despite the numerical disadvantage you'd be surprised how well this imbalanced POS took its blows. With four of
the six towers raining down on their backs my trolls quickly fell, and I left the Free People base, now without an army,
having brought only one tower to the red. Worth it? Hmmm...
The Free People's retaliation came swiftly, as I had it expected it would. The Huorn, now fully healed, raced in along with
his posse, and began laying waste to the spearmen I had trained during the previous battle. Fortunately, I managed to
surround him next to the towers with another troll that had conveniently popped out that moment. The Huorn died, as did the
rest of the invaders.
Sorry if the .gif is a little confusing; the two squares at the bottom of the last image are the tops of my towers.
Resources were running a little low now, so I had very few to waste. With that in mind I decided I needed to take out the
other base the very next attack before the Free People expanded. So naturally I began training these adorable little things:
Troll stonehurlers, the Minion siege unit.
With three trolls, two troll stonehurlers, and the required eight spearmen I set out to win the game. Unfortunately I hit
some snags on the trip. The first encounter was with another huorn and three elven guides. Leaving the huorn alone for a
moment I targeted the guides and brought them down with a vengeance- no Light of Lothrien for you! After that I simply
turned my whole army's attention towards the huorn and he fell with no resistance. I took a few seconds to check on my army,
but aside from a spearman that had been crushed my other units hadn't even taken damage. We moved out again, this time
towards the northeastern natural. Free People City.
A spearman I had placed on point (a screen above the rest of my army) ran smack into nearly ten riders, and half that number
in archers. What the hell!? My forward trolls crashed into the calvary like Blitz on Badme's mom, and the battle was
joined. I smiled inwardly through the fight, noticing that my two stonehurlers were nearly a thousand times as effective as
the archers. It almost seemed like each boulder thrown killed a rider...
There was a problem however. Just as it appeared my army would come out only moderately harmed, four dwarven shieldbreakers
and Gimli trudged out of the fog of war and started whacking away at anything within reach. I immediately focused all
of my attacks on Gimli, knowing that if I could take him out I could win the battle, but he stubbornly refused to die. His
area of effect attack, Sunder, kept stunning my units and dealing damage every fifteen seconds, and the shieldbreakers had
already killed two trolls... In the end I killed all the Free People units in sight with only one troll stonehurler remaining.
Glancing at my resources I noticed both my well and ore pile would be collapsing in about five seconds. I was broke but I
knew the computer was in trouble too now that I had taken down its expansion attempt.
Note: I'm sorry if any of that was confusing, but the nature of the battle made it such. There were units dancing in and
out of the battle constantly, and it became hard to both micro and note the new units trudging in throughout. The only
real armies you need to know of were my army, the army stationed at the expansion, and Gimli's escort.
The computer again retaliated. This attack was gigantic, so I guessed
at the time this was the computer's last thrust. Time to disappoint this guy. The first wave was composed of Riders of
Rohan, and they again bypassed my towers, choosing instead to beat down my workers. I would have none of that, though.
Moving my trolls around the western end of my base, I made a sandwich, with riders in the middle. The rider's complement,
some elven guides, arrived too late to be effective.
Alright. Get psyched. This was it.
I speedbuilt a new expansion on the opposite side of the map, setting up a mill, foundry, and the obligatory tower labyrinth.
Afterwards I rebuilt my army to its normal size, with the usual complement of spearmen, trolls, and troll stonehurlers. Up
until this point in the game I had not used one fate power or summoned a single hero, so my stack of fate points had become
I forgot to mention it earlier, but there is one more "super" fate power available to the two factions. Dag probably picked up on it.
The Free Peoples of Middle Earth recieve a treant for seven fate points, and the The Minions of Sauron recieve, well, tell'em
Zoom in shot.
With the power of the strongest unit in the game at the forefront of my army, I wiped the rest of the Free Peoples of
Middle Earth of the map.
War of the Ring is a very fun game with some awesome Roleplaying potential (not that I'd ever do that). If you're looking for
a strategy game similar in depth to Starcraft I'd advise saving your money. It's definitely an RTS, but it's dumbed down a
little for the wide audience it has to deliver to. If you're a big fan of the movies or books I'd say get it however.
Thanks go to Badme for helping me out with some CSS problems, Blitz for proofreading and offering suggestions on what to
improve, and Asmo and Wakiki for keeping a secret. Doing a report on a new game (save writing the introduction) was a lot of
fun, and I'll probably be doing some more War of the Ring reports in the future if I get some positive feedback from this one.
As for now, I'm leaving for Maine this Sunday, so do leave me some nice comments for when I get back ;)