Several people have indicated that it would be nice to have a LotR strategy guide. I am volunteering to write it. I will need some help, specifically:
1) People to discuss the strategy with me, either here or more directly;
2) People to crush me in games. That may not be much fun for them, because I tend to resign as soon as I think I'm lost.
Of course, experienced players may be unwilling to participate in this project, because all their secrets will become public knowledge. However, that will not stop the publication of whatever I come up with.
The project is alive and well. I had a good lesson from ajmdemen today. One result of that is the following line: "And Horus raises his hand against the Prince." That line will appear in the Guide. Some of you may recognize it.
Some of you have guessed that "And Horus raises his hand against the Prince." is part of a teaser. You are on the right track. Here is the second line: "But the Prince already holds his wrist in a grip that burns."
If you know the reference, you know it. If you try to look it up, it probably won't work. Otherwise, you will simply have to wait.
It has no connection to LotR whatever. It simply creates an image, and I think the image is relevant to this mod.
Of course, my intent is to put the whole quote into the guide, as well as the prosaic explanation, but that will only happen rather far in the future.
There are two sides in the War of the Ring. They could be named "Good" and "Evil", but this is not particularly accurate. Sauron is the key focus in all of this, and it would be correct to name the two sides "Sauron" and "anti-Sauron". The pro-Sauron groups are not so much evil as they are under the control of Sauron. There is nothing inherently good about any of the anti-Sauron groups, although most of their major leaders are clearly good. The canonical designations of "Sauron" and "the Free Peoples" will be used here.
The various participants in this game have been grouped so that there are 6 groups per side. The six groups within each side generally represent nations or races, although there are exceptions. They will be called "factions" here. The factions are generally true to canon, although the Free Folk never fielded a significant military force. Of course, according to canon, the Free Peoples could never defeat Sauron by force of arms; their only chance was to destroy the One Ring.
The Division of Eriador (appendix)
In multi-faction games, it is often important to decide which member of an alliance should capture certain areas, especially if there is an actual or a potential factory involved. This is true with Eriador. The Free Folk don't get any particularly effective units, they don't get any expensive units, and they don't have any large factories. On the other hand, the Elves get some very effective units, so they should have as large an economy as possible, but they do not lack for production capacity. Therefore, the Free Folk should capture Lond Daer and Tharbad, and Minhiriath, of course, giving them 19 production, which is plenty for them. The Elves should capture E. Arnor, Cardolan, and N. Enedwaith. Gondor will get Enedwaith and Enedwaith Coast.
There are timing issues to this campaign. The Free Peoples don't really want to capture Eregion until they can hold it, so the Elves need to capture Cardolan on turn 1, in order to be able to capture N. Enedwaith on turn 2. If the Elves capture E. Arnor on turn 1, that is, without bringing a Hobbit along, then they expect an additional loss of 2/3 PU but certainly gain 1 PU, so they should always do this.
After the first two turns, tactical considerations will also affect which faction should capture which territory.
Free Folk Turn 1
The Free Folk will never be attacked in a strategic sense in this game, unless Sauron has already effectively won. The strategic role of the Free Folk is to occupy Eriador in conjunction with the Elves and to help besiege the Goblins and perhaps Saruman. When and if Moria falls, the Free Peoples will have effectively won. Therefore, the Free Folk need to maximize attack points and mobility when buying units.
If you allocate the support point half to the supporting unit and half to the supported unit, then most of the Free Folk mobile ground units cost 2 PU per attack point. The Catapult is cheaper, and the Hobbit is more expensive. Therefore, the Free Folk should buy mostly Light Cavalry, enough Hobbits to absorb casualties, and maybe a few Catapults. The Hobbits should normally be placed as close to the front as possible, and the cavalry can be placed as far away as necessary. It may be appropriate to switch to Archers and Spear Infantry when the siege of Moria is in full swing.
The Free Folk should attack Lond Daer on turn 2. The maximum attack force is whatever remains from the Minhiriath attack, plus any Light Cavalry produced on turn 1. This force is already rather weak to be effective, so reducing it further by producing slow units on turn 1 is wrong. Accordingly, buy one Hobbit and three Light Cavalry.
Instead of buying the Hobbit, the Free Folk could save 2 PU and buy an extra Light Cavalry on turn 2. This is not a good idea. First, it violates the rule that you should always spend your entire income each turn, unless you have a good reason. Second, the extra Light Cavalry will not be able to get into action any sooner than the Hobbit, the territories in question being Tharbad on turn 3, and Tharbad and Eregion on turn 4.
Attack Minhiriath with every possible unit. [This attack became advisable with the recent increase in the FF starting force.] This attack is not guaranteed to succeed, but the probability of failure is well below 1%. If you have bad luck, continue the attack as long as you have 5 attack points.
For the Minhiriath attack to fail, the Free Folk have to miss three times in succession at 5, and the Neutrals have to hit three times in succession at 2, which happens only once in 6,000 tries. This is not a game-losing result, but it loses 3 units, a total of 7 PU, for nothing and upsets the Eriador timetable and probably the Free Peoples player. Accordingly, if it happens to you, feel free to comment on Sauron's evil power and resign.
Grinding away at this. Here are some challenge questions if you like this mod and/or calculations.
On turn 1, the Goblins move 2 Trolls, 10 Shooters, 15 Stabbers, and 5 Wargs to Celebrant and Dimrill Dale, divided equally, except that the 1-defense units can be arranged as you like. The Goblins also have 2 Bats available to attack Lorien next turn.
The Elves have 3 Towers, 2 Wizards, 6 Hunters, and 3 Eagles in Lorien, and 1 Ent in Fangorn.
The Elves are allowed to attack Celebrant or Dimrill Dale or sit and defend in Lorien, and they can produce 4 units there.
What is the maximum differential damage that the Elves can inflict?
For extra credit, how can you use the Battle Calculator to calculate battle outcomes when you want high-value, low-defense units, such as Wargs, to not be taken as casualties?
1) If the Elves build 4 Forts in Lorien, then the Goblins will attack there on turn 2 with all available units. The Elves will lose everything (79 PU), and the Goblins will lose 17 infantry (34 PU). The differential damage is 45 PU for Sauron.
The Goblins should have moved 4 Wargs to Dimrill Dale.
If the Elves attack Dimrill Dale with all available units and stay till the bitter end, and if the Goblins withhold 3 Wargs from the casualties, then they will lose on average 10.4 units, one of which is a Warg. The Goblins will also lose 2 infantry when they attack Lorien on turn 2. Overall, the Elves lose 73 PU (they don't buy Forts in this case) and the Goblins lose 27.8 PU. The differential damage is 45.2 PU for Sauron.
If the Elves attack Celebrant with all available units and stay till the bitter end, the Goblins cannot afford to withhold any Wargs from the casualties, and they will lose on average 13.3 units, one of which is a Warg. The Goblins will also lose 2 infantry when they attack Lorien on turn 2. Overall, the Elves lose 79 PU (no Forts, + 1 Ent) and the Goblins lose 33.6 PU. The differential damage is 45.4 PU for Sauron. The Elves might win this battle, and they stand to gain 1.3 PU, but at that level, you also have to consider what the Ent was doing and what it might have done, and using the Ent here is likely to be a 3 PU gain for Sauron.
Overall, none of these options is clearly superior to the other ones, but they are all local optima.
Actually, the best option for the Elves is to flee with the Eagles and to build 4 Forts in Lorien. Then the Goblins will lose 12.4 infantry (24.8 PU) and the Elves will lose everything (61 PU). The differential damage is 36.2 PU for Sauron.
The maximum differential damage that the Elves can inflict is -36.2 PU.
2) Sometimes you have high-value, low-defense units, such as Wargs (or Bombers) in a territory that is being attacked. The default tactical routines will throw these units into the scrap heap early, and you generally don't want that. The Battle Calculator uses the same default when it does its calculations. So how do you determine how many of these units you can withhold from the casualties when the battle is rather close, without resorting to manual calculations?
The trick is to exchange a certain number of these units for an equivalent combat power of high-defense units when you set up the Battle Calculator. For example, in the above Dimrill Dale battle, where you have 4 Wargs, you exchange 3 of them for one Troll. Your combat power is the same, but the virtual Troll dies last, which means you guarantee that only one Warg dies. You survive with 3.5 units, which needs to be understood as one Troll, 3 Wargs, and 1.5 Shooters.
Nowhere in this has the possible intervention of Rohan been mentioned. I treat this possibility in a section entitled "The Last Ride of the Rohirrim".
Haven't spent any time on this forum for a while, but I have played the LotR Mod a lot, always against the computer. I've only played the standard alliance version, no free for all (if that is an option). Also I mostly play the evil doers. I play with low luck and dynamic-level computer opponent for all the good guys.
Here is what works for the forces of EVILE, in a nutshell (or in a skull, if you will):
Saruman should do a big, one-round attack against Fangorn to cull the Ent population. Also should strike out of Barad-Dur to help whittle down the Elven forces in Mirkwood, as the Goblins will want to be able to make 2-region moves with most of their wargs; this, too, should be a one-rounder attack, retreating with remaining units back into Barad Dur.
After the first turn, I like to use the remaining Uruk Hai troops in BD to take unoccupied territories in an advance towards High Mirkwood by Mordor and Goblin forces; this makes for good staging bases for Nazgul. Because of the mobility and offensive strength of Rohan, I tend to just hunker down in Isengard, building a few replacement cannon-fodder goblins and siege engines and a few trolls, until the Rohirrim cavalry are drawn away. If there is only one or no units in Westfold or East Emmet, try to take those for the PU's But sallying out en masse to the west will just result in the loss of Isengard. To move on Rohan requires Goblin help and or a lot of Nazgul support to attrition the Eastfold. Helm's Deep should be a mop-up operation after taking the Rohan capitol. Bottom line: Saruman's actions will be dictated by Rohan's.
An alternate stratagem is to fortify (build towers and walls) in Isengard and tempt Rohan into a wasting attack against it; however, if this doesn't occur, your stuck with a lot of immobile units. I generally don't do this unless Rohan seems to be building up for an attack against it.
Sauron needs to finish off the Elven forces in S. Mirkwood, in order for the Goblin wargs to move out in their turn. Take N. and S. Ithilien, massing forces in NI. Stage the Nazgul to Harad Rd, so they can start hitting the Gondor navy. Take Dagorlad and keep on pumping out one orc per turn to send forces northwards to help occupy the Brown Lands and possibly even the RF. First turn builds should go mostly to BD. You might save a production point or two in order to assure the ability to make a new Nazgul on the second turn. I try to build up Nazgul to the nine ASAP, which is not to say that I don't on some turns build trolls and orcs for BD. Their 2-hit and combat support make them very powerful.
In turn two take S. Gondor with a troll and the help of a nazgul to avoid unit loss. Either with boats built at E Osgialith (if you take it) or with allies' botats, you cant take tolfolas for another safe PU territory. Your really want to get above the 24 PU mark so you can pump out a nazgul just about each turn.
The strategic decision is whether to use the Nazgul all down south, offensively destroying the Gondor fleet and slowly wearing down the EF, or sending them up north to help fight the elves. I tend to split the Nazgul forces, using them to minimize casualties in the northern campaign. Gondor is too strong to attack at first; its outlying territories need to be taken first, in particular the western ones taken by Haradrim amphibious invasions, in order to whittle down G's production capacity. One has to watch out for sorties by Gondor that might threaten Udun or Cirith Ungol.
If you can take and defend them adequately, take E and W Osgiliath, but usually the Khand forces get these. Mordor needs to wait until a lot of Harad and Khand forces can support an assault on Minas Tirith, as well as much of Gondor production capacity taken away from it. Mordor and allies need to stay maneuverable in this area in case Gondor decides to attempt an assault or advance.
The Goblins play a major role in the overall campaign and can become the most powerful, PU-wise. For the love of Melkor, occupy Eregion the first turn and take care always not to allow the Misty Mountains to be captured. The DG wargs should spread out to taken Anduin EB, N Brown Lands and N Rhovanian and possibly Gladden Fields; Anduin WB and Dimrill Dale Should be occupied (the latter in force, for the turn-2 attack on Lorien), and the Misty Mtn forces should move into Celebran for the same attack. I also like to finish off Fangorn with wargs in Isengard and possibly bats. I also try to take the Westfold and E Emmet when possible; the latter is only on turn 2 or later. Leave N. Dunland alone, as a buffer and always build one archer or spearman in the two auxiliary factories each turn, in order to both protect these regions from blitzes and for re-inforcing adjacent regions to them.
Build are very critical. First turn, two trolls in the Misty Mtn for the very critical turn-two capture of Lorien. For a few turns after this, I tend just to build replacement archers and spearmen, and perhaps a bat or two, and to replace dead wargs. After turn two I try to send a force of just archers and perhaps a war or two east to S Mirkwood to join of with the Mordor forces. This is critical to allowing the advance northwards on High Mirkwood. I also use minimal forces, including bats to take the Wold, E. Emmet and Westfold, the latter two for the PU augmentation. Leave a few forces in Celebran to back up these southern advances, while leaving bulk of your forces in either Dimrill Dale or the Misty Mountains proper; this is to counter advances on the Misty Mtns by the Elves. Once High Mirkwood is taken by Mordor and your own production has grown, you can move a formidable army into Eregion to advance on Rivendell, but don't do this prematurely.
And alternate strategy is rather than reinforcing the advance on Mirkwood, send your forces south after taken Lorien in order to support a Saruman assault on the Eastfold; however, because of the turn sequence this can be difficult to choreograph, and it leaves the Misty Mtns vulnerable.
Harad should fill its ships with corsairs, a couple of elephants and a few spearmen and set out to take the western Gondor provinces, taking care to watch out for the army of the dead. Andrast and Anfalas make good forward bases for building new troops. I generally build a elephant each turn, along with various other land units and move these and all other forces north to support Mordor against Gondor.
Khand should move forces northwards to support the advance on/threatening of Gondor, taking W and E Osgiliath in the process. This provides more PU's as well as forward factories. You might send 1 or 2 cavalry even farther north to possibly capture empty territories in the turn-to-turn struggle in Rhovanian and Mirkwood.
Rhun should take the Iron Hills the first turn with everything that can reach there. The southern units should take all the Rhovanian provinces and the Brown lands, to gain PUs and to prevent eastward excursions by Rohan cavalry. But the bulk of these forces should move to the north, either to support the clearing of Mirkwood or to augment the forces in Rhun proper. On succeeding turns take S. and N. Dale and build up forces in the Iron Hills. You'll have and advantage in production over Dale and the Dwarves. Hold off attacking either capitol until you have preponderance of forces; this is usually after Mordor has taken High Mirkwood. A secondary force can be sent into Mirkwood to help in this advance. I never attack Celduin; it's a good buffer against Elven attacks on Rhun's capitol.
Hope this is useful for your write up.
FTR, your Horus quote sounds good in a vague, general, color-adding sense, but will likely lead a lot of players knowledgeable of things Tolkien to wonder what you're talking about. But hey, you're writing the thing up, so make it your baby.
But the Prince already holds his wrist in a grip that burns.
And Horus raises up his other hand against the Prince.
But the Prince already holds that wrist in a grip that freezes.
And he raises up his other hand and electrical shocks pass along it. And he raises up his other hand and it blackens and dies.
And he raises up a hundred hands more and they turn to snakes and fight among themselves …”
This is from Roger Zelazny’s “Creatures of Light and Darkness”. Of course, Horus, being merely the son of an archangel, has no chance of besting The Prince Who Was A Thousand, who is God, or perhaps not quite, as the case may be.
Now you may say that this has nothing at all to do with Triple A, either in its general form, or specifically in its Lord of the Rings form, and in the most direct sense, you would be right. However, Zelazny has created a powerful image of a threat that must be countered, and then another threat that must be countered, and so forth, and this image is very relevant here.
Let us consider The Conquest of the Iron Hills. Clearly Rhun would like to conquer the Iron Hills, a 4 PU factory, on turn 1, and neither the Dwarves nor Dale can do anything about it. But the Elves can! The most direct way is for the Elves to move the Ent to Withered Heath on their turn 1, and then the units in High Mirkwood can move to the Iron Hills, which can no longer be captured. Unfortunately, this means that 8 powerful Elven units will be stuck in the NE map corner for a while.
A better option is for the Elves to move the High Mirkwood units to E. Mirkwood on turn 1. These units can reach the Iron Hills, N. Dale, S. Dale, N. Rhun, Rhun, and many other significant territories on turn 2, and at least 3 Eagles can get there as well. The big threat, of course, is to Rhun’s capital.
Rhun could produce a maximum of 4 Forts and 2 Spear Infantry for defense on turn 1. Since this is a capital, Rhun cannot tolerate anything less than a guaranteed win, and therefore must leave something like 2 Spear Infantry, 3 Chariot Archers, and the War Wagon behind (i.e. the entire force that starts in Rhun), and will have only the force that starts in N. Rhun available for other purposes in the NE map corner.
Rhun can still capture the Iron Hills, but it’s a bad choice. After the initial attack, Rhun will have 6.6 units left, which will be 4 Chariot Archers and 2.6 Spear Infantry. The Elves will counter-attack and wipe out the rest of Rhun’s expeditionary force. The Elves will lose 3.7 Hunters. Add it all up, and you find that the Dwarves lose 28 PU, the Elves lose 15 PU, and Rhun loses 50 PU for a gain of 4 PU. This is a net loss to Sauron of 3 PU. Keep in mind as well that Rhun produced some static defenses, and that must be considered a loss also.
Another thing that Rhun likes to do is raid N. Dale, killing 2 infantry for a loss of 1. But now the Elves can counter-attack and destroy Rhun’s expeditionary force for a loss of 6 Hunters and 1 Eagle. Add it up, and you find that Sauron experiences a net loss of 17 PU.
If Rhun’s expeditionary force just sits, then the Elves can still attack. Now they lose 3 Eagles, but Sauron still loses 8 PU.
While all this is happening, the Dwarves and Dale are mustering their armies and marching on Rhun. The bottom line is that Rhun is completely paralyzed and can’t do anything useful in this region. But wait, there’s more! The Elves were just kidding about moving east. In reality, they were preparing to attack Mordor in S. Mirkwood. Or were they? Give the Dwarves and Dale one more turn to advance on Rhun, and suddenly Dwarves, Men, and Elves are fighting together again (where have we seen this before?), and kiss Rhun good-bye.
What we see here is that the Elves, with their cheap, powerful, high-mobility units can position their forces to create threats in many directions. These threats can have a paralyzing effect on the opponent. Other factions should seek to use this approach as well.
1. You cannot blitz nuetral territories, so Elves cannot reinforce Iron Hills.
2. If Elves move to E. Mirwood on turn 1, Rhun can take Celduin to protect their capital.
3. If Elves move to Iron Hills on turn 2 and take it, they cannot attack Rhun until turn 4. That will give Rhun 3 turns to build a defense, get their units from down south. In addition, Mordor will have time to send reinforcements from Dol Guldor and the Nazgul from Mordor. While that elven army is attacking Rhun, Evil will capture everything between Misty Mtns, Celduin River, and Mordor. Even with the loss of Rhun, the PU income gain and the interior lines will greatly help Evil.
If Elves move adjacent to Rhun on turn 2, Rhun can move units in north to North Rhun, and units in south to also threaten Rhun, as well as units from Mordor. Rhun will lose Rhun, but can take it back the next turn. That is a small price to pay if Evil destroys the Elven Mirkwood army and gains the whole middle area.
Also, remember, Saruman, the Goblins, and Mordor all move before the Elves and they can leapfrog from Dol Guldor.
1) Oh, but you can, and this may seriously affect the way you think about this game. Somewhere in this forum, some time ago, I said the same as you did, and it was pointed out to me that if you take a neutral territory in CM, you can freely move through it in NCM. Try it, you'll like it. Or hate it.
2) Well, if Rhun takes Celduin, you have saved the Iron Hills, have you not? Or if Rhun splits its army, you crush either part this turn, and then the remainder next turn. Try to set up a 1-2-3 punch with the Free Peoples. Very dangerous against Rhun.
3) No. Soonest attack by Elves against Rhun in this case would be turn 2. Not saying it SHOULD happen that way, but it certainly COULD. Oh, BTW, it's not really a question of Dol Goldur sending reinforcements elsewhere, but rather whether it can even survive. 12 Hunters plus 4 Wizards plus 4 Eagles plus some Ents has one HECK of a punch. Blows away 8 units in one combat round.
I was hoping to get some advice in opening moves for Gondor and Rohan. I have a pretty good handle on the war in the north. Khand, Harad and Saruman seem relatively straightforward. And mordor has a lot of good plays. I'm just not sure what to do with Gondor and Rohan. How should Gondor defend the Western territories?
Big picture about the Lord of the Rings map:
1. Good starts with an income and a unit advantage. 30 income (112 vs 82) and about a 50 point unit advantage (958 + 12 ents and 10 gondor undead) vs 948).
2. Evil starts with an overall positional advantage (most evident in Lorien and Iron hills) and 2-hit nazgul and oliphants that help in a war of attrition.
Critical deciding Territories:
1. Holding Westfold as Rohan. It is usually a solid choice to stack Westfold as Rohan, but be careful Rohan has enough to defend vs Saruman. If evil is able to stack westfold, good must split defense between eastfold and helms deep or retreat to helms deep.
2. N dale for dale and dwarves. Again, evil holding this territory splits good's defenses.
3. Evil able to stack either S Ithilien or N Ithilien. Evil should stack S ith round 1 and N ith round two. By stacking N Ith, evil forces gondor to defend rather than aggressively taking Khand or Haradrim capitals.
4. Gondor buying rafts and placing navy in the Anduin mouth. This defends gondor from most harad raids AND threatens massive gondor landings in Umbar or harad road.
5. Elves minimizing point loss in Lorien. Sitting in Lorien and building 4 walls results in a -35 point battle, but elves can do better! This is a very complex situation, but good has ways to escape Lorien. A strong tactic is for Rohan to place 3 light cavalry and 1 heavy cavalry in Anduin East Banks. This forces goblins to choose between attacking East Banks or W mirkwood. Elves would ideally like to escape to S mirkwood, or Gladden.
Analysis of units:
The quality of units available varies. Elves and goblins have the best units in the game in the form of shooters, stabbers, hobbits, and hunters. Saruman, Sauron, dale, and free people have weaker options. Give the territories to the stronger countries.
An easily overlooked unit is the raft. These are really cheap and usually decide naval battles between Harad and Gondor.