Lords of Middle-earth gives the Shadow player alternate versions of the two Sauron Minions (The Witch-king and The Mouth of Sauron) as well as two Lesser Minions (Gothmog and the Balrog of Moria) to further his plans. Let us look at some basic strategies to employ with these new Characters.

The Witch-king, Chief of the Ringwraiths

The Witch-king

The Witch-king, Chief of the Ringwraiths

So you were lucky/diligent enough to reveal the Fellowship before they managed to cross the Misty Mountains? Now you can use that to your advantage by bringing in the Hunt-focused version of The Witch-king.

The Chief of the Ringwraiths still provides the same additional Standard Action Die as The Black Captain does, but his Leadership has dropped to one, on par with his fellow Nazgûl. His abilities are also solely focused on the Hunt for the Ring.

To make the most out of his abilities you must get him to the same region as the Fellowship’s last known position. Once there, hit the Fellowship with those nasty Character Event Cards that target the Fellowship (e.g. “Orc Patrol” and “Isildur’s Bane”). By doing so you will get access to more of those cards at the same time as the Fellowship will be hard-pressed to get away from him; as they need to declare in a region with an unconquered Free Peoples Stronghold, or be unlucky enough to be revealed as the result of a successful Hunt for the Ring.

The Mouth of Sauron, Black Númenórean

The Mouth of Sauron

The Mouth of Sauron, Black Númenórean

This new version of the minion is perhaps slightly weaker than his original version, as his abilities are tied to the Army he is with, The Mouth of Sauron, Black Númenórean, must be brought into the game close to the fighting. However, he has the potential advantage of entering the game earlier if the Free People player attempts a military victory.

Once he is involved, his abilities can greatly influence the outcome of the sieges he is part of. Use his “Great Sorcery” ability to initiate a siege battle, with a Muster Action Die, and then use his “Evil Knowledge” to keep the siege going for an additional round, without the need to reduce an Elite unit to Regular status.

Gothmog, Lieutenant of Morgul


Gothmog, Lieutenant of Morgul

The Lieutenant of Morgul really complements the Witch-king, Chief of the Ringwraiths, as he can be brought into play either before or after the Chief of the Ringwraiths without automatically losing the Lesser Minion Action Die he provides, as he would if The Witch-king, The Black Captain enters play.

His “Fling them into the Fray” ability will strengthen your Armies when The Chief of the Ringwraiths is away, hunting for the Ring. It should be used to add Elite units to the Army before a siege and to reinforce the Army should the siege fail.

To make the most out of his ability, you need to bring him in early, to have him accompany any Mordor Armies moving north, or focus on attacking Gondor. If you focus on Gondor, you should have the Southrons & Easterlings take Pelargir and Dol Amroth while Gothmog, and the Sauron Armies from Mordor, conquers Minas Tirith.

Once Gondor has fallen, the Sauron Armies, led by Gothmog, can make their way into Rohan from the east, making good use of his “Fling them into the Fray” ability if needed.

The Balrog of Moria, Evil of the Ancient World

The Balrog of Moria

The Balrog of Moria, Evil of the Ancient World

The Balrog is immensely powerful. In combat, he will not only give you three Leader re-rolls but also add two to the Combat strength of the Shadow Army he is leading.

Using the Balrog as a military weapon, striking either Lórien or Rivendell is often a very good idea. In addition to adding both Combat strength and Leader re-rolls to the Shadow Army you might improve your chances to win a Ring victory. By synchronizing the movement of the Shadow Army, accompanied by the Balrog, with the Fellowship’s movement, between Rivendell and Lórien, you might be able to situate Shadow Army units, Nazgûl, and the Balrog in the same region as the Fellowship’s last known position. If successful you will get two Hunt re-rolls (one from the Shadow Army and one from the Nazgûl) in addition to the option to use the Balrog’s “Fire and Shadow” ability.

When using an active Balrog to move around the game board, you have to pay close attention to the Will of the West Action Die results rolled by the Free Peoples player as well as the position of Gandalf, if outside the Fellowship. A Will of the West Action Die result, or a Character Action Die result if Gandalf is in the same region as the active Balrog, could be used to eliminate the Balrog, unless he is in Moria when made inactive.

*This is the second of a series of three articles written by Kristofer Bengtsson for Lords of Middle-earth players.

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