Warriors of Middle-earth, the second expansion for the War of the Ring Second Edition board game, is coming next September, and pre-releasing at GenCon. While waiting, learn more about the game with two preview articles written by Kristofer Bengtsson. The first article focused on the Free People Factions and Event Cards. Now it's time to learn more about the Shadow Factions and Events Cards.

With the addition of the Warriors of Middle-earth expansion, you will have the strength of the Corsairs of Umbar, Hillmen of Dunland, and Broods of Shelob at your command. This article will give you a few ideas on how to utilize them to spread the Shadow across Middle-earth.

Driving the Faction mechanics are the new Faction die and Faction cards. The Faction cards add management decisions to your hand and the Faction die forces new considerations regarding how to spend the initial Muster Action die results. You could advance your Nations on the Political track or bring in a Faction along with its access to the Faction die. The Faction die will give you access to the first Faction you put into play, as well as make it easier to play the Faction cards already drawn.

Corsairs of Umbar faction.

Corsairs of Umbar faction.

Corsairs of Umbar

What was a one shot surprise attack on Dol Amroth in the base game of War of the Ring can now become a recruited fleet to help in the battles along the coast, in Osgiliath, and as transport for troops to the same regions.

The Corsairs Faction also increases the importance of Umbar, as its capture by the Free Peoples eliminates the Corsairs from the game.

Playing the Faction cards “A Great Fleet,” “Black Sails,” and “Ships of Great Draught” will allow the Shadow player to send the black sails of the Corsairs north along the coast to add their strength to the battles in Gondor and to keep watch for any movement of the Fellowship in Gondor or at sea, if the Free Peoples attempt to use the Event card “The Western Way.”

The Broods of Shelob faction.

The Broods of Shelob faction.

The Broods of Shelob

The quickness of the Spiders of Dol Guldur and Minas Morgul is best used to move them across the game board to regions where they can hinder the progress of the Fellowship. If moved to join battles in War of the Ring, they can increase the amount of damage done by the Shadow Armies they help.

The best use of the Spiders in a game is often dependent upon how fast the Fellowship is moving and how desperate the Shadow player is to slow them. If an all-out military blitz is launched by the Shadow player, the Spiders can greatly increase the speed with which Lórien or the Settlements in the DEW-line fall. If pressure is put on the Fellowship, the Spiders will increase your chances to slow it down and get Corruption onto the Ring-bearers.

With the Faction cards “The Craft of Shelob,” “Children of Ungoliant,” “Evil Things,” “Her Own Offspring,” and “Huge and Horrible” you can send the spawn of Ungoliant from Minas Morgul and Dol Guldur to aid in your search for the One Ring, as well as furthering your military plans at the same time.

The Hillmen of Dunland faction.

The Hillmen of Dunland faction.

The Hillmen of Dunland

Even though the The Hillmen of Dunland are weaker than the normal Shadow Army units, they can add some much needed flexibility to the Armies they move with, Shadow Armies they reach on their own to lend their Call to Battle effects, or quickly reinforce Armies in Isengard or Rohan.

Through the Faction cards “Wild Hillmen,” “Armed by Saruman,” and "Death to the Forgoil” your military might in Isenagrd and across the plains of Rohan will increase dramatically, by reducing the amount of damage your normal Army units take and making it easier to initiate Combat against Free Peoples Armies with Rohan and Gondor units.

The event card “Great Winged Creatures

The event card “Great Winged Creatures".

Event Cards

Let us end this article with a sneak peek at one of the new Event cards:

The new event card “Great Winged Creatures” can be used to quickly recruit Nazgûl. For best effect, this should be used as early as possible when you have your Nazgûl dispersed. Placing a lone Nazgûl with Armies increases their movement options (as you can use a Character Action die result to move the Army, instead of an Army die result); and playing this card may double their number right before amassing them to lead your besieging Armies, which is also a sound strategy.

Now you know more about the Free Peoples and Shadow Factions and Event Cards, get ready for the complete rules! The PDF file will be available for download soon.

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