|“||There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.||”|
–Thorin II Oakenshield, Over Hill and Under Hill, The Hobbit
When one enters the land of Endorë they often find themselves confronted with much too many (wonderful) Factions to choose from. Will you ally yourself with vicious and vile Orc-Scum or will you find yourself amongst the Quendi, graceful and fair? Perhaps you wish to stand tall as a proud Nobleman of Westernesse, or stouter as a hungry Halfling?
I wish to find a powerful 'Evil' Faction quickly Edit
If you have decided on becoming an ally of the Orc-spawn of Melkor, and yet it's still early on in the game (for example: you have plus three Gundabad alignment but are still comparatively weak and need a safe place full of loot to support you), then Mordor or Angmar are recommended. These biomes have a cover of evil mist so that no Orcs experience debuffs. They are also full of camps where traders can be found as well as shelter and loot. If your'e lucky, you may be able to locate a camp or a tower. In these dark lands you will also find durnaur, gulduril and Morgul Iron, essentials for any evil player.
It's recommended that you establish a base here, and then you can easily, from Mordor, travel into Gondor for a raid or, from Angmar, into Eriador. In Gondor you will find many men to slay, and if you have got enough weapons and armour, you should do well and gain lots of alignment. Once you have enough alignment, you can go about hunting down a tower were you can find Orc captains who will let you hire troops. The only disadvantage is that good troops are quite expensive, and silver coins are hard to find in Mordor; also, a lot of alignment is needed for good troops. Know though that you can build up strength and eventually you will be very powerful and will be able to raid Gondor with ease.
A final option is to ally yourself with Gundabad. This has several advantages; Gundabad Orc Camps can be found all over northern Middle-earth, the Orcs are cheap, and you don't have to travel very far to ally yourself with this faction; killing Hobbits is an easy way to get alignment, too. However, be aware that many of the lands inhabited by Gundabad Orcs also spawn Rangers of the North, and that Rangers are capable of invading pretty much every land west of the Misty Mountains and north of Rohan, so this option should only be used by those who know what they're doing. On top of this, they have Gundabad Uruks, some of the strongest NPCs in the game, which have excellent armour and equipment.
I wish to find a strong 'Good' Faction quickly Edit
Choosing a strong good faction at the beginning is much harder; it's not as easy to find a completely safe biome with tons of loot, so you'll have to work harder. The first tip is to spend a while in the safe Shire biome. Here, you will find endless food and drink as well as some handy things for your journeys. Thence, you have two clear options: making for Lindon or the Blue Mountains.
While Lindon is completely free of evil, it doesn't have easy loot and mining isn't as good here. The Blue Mountains are Orc-free and full of powerful Dwarves. The Blue Mountains are also easy to travel to from the Shire, and although the terrain seems endlessly mountainous, there are actually tons of valleys where trees and wildlife can be found. Go mining in the caves and stock up on tons of iron and other ores; Dwarves will also start to spawn in the caves, so you should go to them and help them out with quests in exchange for much-needed alignment. Sometimes, if you look closely, you will see a glowing stone in the mountains. These are the magical doors of Dwarven Houses! Climb up, and you will see the door more clearly. Open it and walk inside, here you will find barrels of tonic, Dwarves, crafting tables and beds. Don't forget to nick their door for your base!
You should also go into Dwarven Mines, were you can trade and find fantastic loot and mining opportunities. There, you can also alloy the blue rock sarlluin with iron ore in a dwarven forge to get Blue Dwarven Steel, which can be crafted on the Blue Mountains crafting table form earlier into weapons and armour. This is almost the best armour in the mod and it is very cheap and durable. Then, you can establish a base and travel to nearby Eriador and the wild lands were you can gain alignment by Orc-hunting. Soon you will be ready to find a Blue Dwarven Stronghold! These fortresses are rare, but full of loot and a commander. You can also renovate this into a base, and when you have 200 alignment, you can hire away at very cheap prices! Now you have a safe base, resources, armour and weapons and an great army!
A third option is to ally yourself with the Rangers of the North. These units can be found all over Eriador and the lands surrounding it; on top of that, you can find good loot at the top of Ruined Towers, which are fairly common in the area. However, be aware that Gundabad Orcs spawn in all of these lands at night, that Angmar and Gundabad invasions are quite common, and that Rangers of the North are quite expensive to hire; they cost around 300 alignment, and 30 silver coins per head. Despite these factors, Rangers of the North can be some of the strongest units available to good players; they turn invisible when shooting, and evil NPCs can't see them. It is possible (although quite unlikely) for a single Ranger of the North to take down a Balrog! Be sure to use the Gondorian Bow, because it's quite powerful and has a longer range than most bows in the game. Rangers can also be seen mounted on a horse, making a deadly combination.
I need an army for a raid, of what faction? Edit
When you are on a server or generally an ambitious player, you will want a faction that can offer strong units to support you on raids. This is divided into two sections, evil and good, so will you find the perfect war faction for you?
I want a powerful and cheap Faction Edit
As an evil player, you have several choices when it comes to choosing a strong and cheap faction, the difference being whether you want to emphasize on strength or on cost.
If you want to keep the cost low, the Orcs of Gundabad are a very good choice. Their units are the cheapest units that you can possibly get. Be aware, though, that you don't get anything without nothing; Gundabad Orcs will suffer from debuffs in direct sunlight, they have armour of widely varying strength, and are generally the weakest of the several kinds of Orcs that you can hire. You may want to consider backing up your Gundabad army with Angmar units later on, if you're not too far away from Angmar itself.
If your main emphasis is on strength, but your budget is still a consideration, then the Uruks are possibly the best choice: they have 26 HP, great armour and weapons and their immunity to the debuffs of normal Orcs makes them twice as good a choice! You need a minimum of +100 alignment to hire Uruks, but at a reasonable price and for this alignment they are easily made into a vicious raiding army! When you get higher alignment after more and more raids, you will be able to hire units like the lethal Crossbower. These powerful units launch crossbow bolts at a surprisingly fast rate at enemies. They are very dangerous and are possibly one of the best evil ranged units available to evil players! Also, Warg riders will become available and their speed combined with an Uruk's strength is absolutely deadly, and finally, when you have enough money and lots of alignment, you can hire berserkers; these are tanks. They are larger and have more health points than normal Uruks, not to mention an extremely strong melee attack. They won't stop until they have killed as many foes as possible! They can be identified by their huge stature, and their distinctive helmets, branded with the ghastly hand of Saruman. Don't forget about the Warg Bombardiers, either! They're very good at destroying tightly packed groups of enemies.
I want a well-balanced Faction Edit
If balance is what you're after, consider allying yourself with Mordor. They have many powerful units, including the Black Uruks, Olog-hai, Warg riders, and Mordor Spiders. A disadvantage of Mordor compared to the Uruks is that most Mordor units are a lot more expensive than Uruk units, and that it's not always easy to get lots of money inside Mordor (there's no silver ore to mine), so you'll have to rely on Mordor Orc Traders to make your money.
I want a strong and cheap Faction Edit
Finding a strong and cheap faction as a good player is considerably harder than for an evil player. Most good units are significantly more expensive than the corresponding evil units. However, if strength and cash are important considerations, a good choice is to ally yourself with the Dwarves of either the Iron Hills or those of the Blue Mountains. Both of these factions offer strong, well-armoured warriors and Axe-throwers for the same price as other factions offer weaker foot-men. The Axe-throwers feature the most powerful ranged attack of any unit in the mod, 7 HP, and all Dwarves have 26 HP. To top it all off, the Dwarven Armour worn by these units is without equal. The only consideration to choosing these factions is that Dwarves require quite a bit of alignment to hire when compared to Rohirrim or other Men.
I want a well-balanced Faction Edit
If balance is what you're looking for, then your best bet is Gondor. They have a large variety of units with good stats at reasonable prices. The Gondor Soldier, for example, is the best good unit in the game for his price. They have bowmen, swordsmen, spearthowers (Tower Guards), cavalry, rangers, and of course the Swan Knights of Dol Amroth. Their equipment is quite decent in terms of damage. The durability of the equipment is as good as the durability of Elven equipment.
I want to explore Middle-Earth, but I don't know whether to be evil or good. Edit
The best place to start in this Mod is by exploring, but should you start evil or start good?
Lets put things into perspective here. Good factions like Gondor and Rohan tend to be rather intent on protecting their own kingdom; realistically, they are bad factions to explore with. On the other hand, evil factions like Rhúdel or Dunland are the same.
Really only two factions can be found everywhere; Rangers and Gundabad Orcs. If safety is your concern, and you are worried about being attacked by hidden Rangers or ambushed by bandits, then Gundabad is a good choice. Simply travel by night, and in most parts of the Western Lands of Middle-Earth there will be Gundabad Orcs. If, however, you want to explore deep into hard-to-get-to lands on the good side, like Lindon and Lothlórien, Rangers are a good choice of faction.
Ultimately, it comes down to how you want to play the game. Conquer the civilised world, or build a little house in a forest, or guard against the evils, it depends on what your style is.
I want to conquer Middle-Earth! Edit
There's really only one way to conquer Middle-Earth: Kill People. And to do that you'll need a good faction with good stuff and decent friendly biomes. Let's run through the list of factions:
Angmar: Angmar as a faction is spread pretty thinly, and it's hard to conquer ME with a band of Hillmen. Although you could hire trolls, from experience they're really annoying to control.
Blue Mountains: The Blue Mountains has excellent equipment and strong (albeit short) troops. Although they're only found in a small corner of the world, they have friends in high (and low) places. The Blue Mountains is not a bad choice.
Dale: Dale is not too bad a choice; they've got average troops and armour, although they're nearby Erebor. Dale also already covers a wide expanse of territory. Unfortunately, Dale has enemies on two sides and is surrounded by annoying and treacherous lands. Heading directly to Dale may be perilous.
Dol Guldur: Dol Guldur is a seriously awesome biome with seriously awesome looking equipment, but it's tiny compared to some other areas. As well as that it's out of the way, in the middle of Mirkwood. Dol Guldur is not a bad choice, but its kind-of old news, compared to the flashier and more cool-seeming factions.
Dorwinion: No. Just no. Dorwinion is a small area far away from your spawn in the Shire, and requires high levels of alignment to get the good troops and has few viable ways to gain alignment. Maybe stick to growing grapes, while you're in Dorwinion.
Dúnedain of the North: Rangers are OP units. Bring a few of them, maybe 15 and they'll cut a path straight through your enemies. Just make sure to back these guys up with some better-armoured troops and you'll be conquering Middle-Earth in no time.
Dunland: Sure. Why not? Dunland has some decent troops in a nice biome and a hatred for Rohirrim. You'll have no trouble conquering the less defended lands, while getting into Rohan and Gondor may prove to be a struggle. Besides; Dunland's got no good buildings or traders. Maybe not the best choice for conquering leagues unerring.
Durin's Folk: As said under the Blue Mountains; well-armed, strong; excellent choice to conquer ME. Besides, they live in biomes with plenty of Ores.
Fangorn: While Huorns are great troops, that's it. Just Huorns. And they are a pain to control. While huge trees are nice, they're not apt to take over ME with.
Gondor: Gondor's a massive kingdom with more variety than any other good faction in the game. They've got massive towns and a well-rounded army to win the day with. Definitely go with these guys to conquer vast lands. Or not.
Gundabad: How bad is it? Its GundaBAD! Puns aside, Gundabad is everywhere, and they've got some very strong troops. These Orcs are an excellent choice to conquer with, 'cause you'll only to kill some Men to gain their trust. Simple!
Half-trolls: Dull-witted, badly armed and found only in the middle of nowhere. Sorry guys; you can stay in your huts.
High-Elves of the Westlands: Strong, defiant; these troops are very OP. Just make sure you kill some Orcs before you pay a visit.
Hobbits: While good-natured, the Hobbits are only good if you deck them out in full Mithril armour. Sorry, Hobbits; Mushrooms are definitely better.
Isengard: The Uruk-hai of Saruman are an excellent choice of a fighting force. I mean, seriously; they were literally made to conquer Middle-Earth.
Lothlórien: Just like the high-elves, these guys are nice and OP. Except these guys are a pain to get to. Still, they're worth it.
Mordor: As with Gondor, Mordor has a wide variety of troops to choose from, with easy ways to gain alignment. However, Mordor is an ugly place; not the place for a holiday.
Morwaith: Undeveloped and simple, these Men aren't the best choice. Maybe let them develop for a thousand years or so first.
Southrons: While they have cool looking armour, they're really har(a)d to get to and have bronze-level armour. Maybe don't have a date with these guys.
Rhúdel: It's Rhúdel, son of (Apple) Strudel! The Easterlings here have good armour and the biggest towns in the game. Not a bad choice.
Rohan: Although they lack the variety of Gondor, they make it up with speed and ferocity. In all ways, they're just as good as Gondor.
Taurethrim: As with the Morwaith, leave them to develop first. They're gear isn't anywhere near good compared to that of the Westlands.
Woodland Realm: While they're great, strolling through Mirkwood really isn't worth it. You could get their skill elsewhere.
Decision Time! Edit
Ok, so we've narrowed our choices down to Blue Mountains, Dol Guldur, Dúnedain of the North, Durin's Folk, Gondor, Gundabad, the High Elves, Isengard, Lothlórien, Mordor, Rhúdel and Rohan. Let's narrow it down even more.
Blue Mountains: While they're awesome, they're not as common as Durin's Folk.
Dol Guldur: Weak compared to Mordor's diversity.
Dúnedain of the North: Sadly lacking in strong melee.
Durin's Folk: If you don't mind short people, these dwarves are your men (Well, Dwarves, not men, but you get the meaning).
Gondor: Most diverse good faction in the game. I'd recommend these guys for your plans for domination. All you need is a Ring.
Gundabad: Weak compared to Mordor's diversity.
High-Elves: Too despondent for words. Still, OP.
Isengard: Mordor's just as powerful and has three times the diversity.
Lothlórien: Rivendell so much easier to get to.
Mordor: There's a reason why Sauron went to Mordor.
Rhúdel: Best evil men in the game. If you don't like Orcs, but want to stay evil, go with these guys.
Rohan: It's either these guys or Gondor. Although many people like Gondor more, these guys are really just as good.
So that's it, folks! Your choices for Middle-Earth domination are:
- Durin's folk
- Rohan and Gondor
Enjoy your conquering of Middle-Earth, and if you actually read this far, then good on you!
~The Author of this long section, PumpkinLOTR.