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Video Game: The Battle for Middle-Earth
"We are following the Will of the One, though the dark age and into the storm, and we are following the Will of the One..."
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth, or BFME, is a series of Real-Time Strategy videogames, developed by EA Los Angeles and published by EA Games, which uses the SAGE engine (the same engine that Command & Conquer: Generals uses). Those games use the Lord of the Rings license, and are heavily inspired by the movies.

There are two games:
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth (2004), which closely follows the movies
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II (2006), which shows battles and fights in other places (namely, the so-called War in the North and what happened to the Dwarves and Elves while the movies' events take place)
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II: The Rise of the Witch-King (2006) - an expansion pack for BFMEII -, the campaign of which is a centuries-distant prequel to the event of Lord of the Rings

The first game features the following factions:
  • Playable:
    • Rohan
    • Gondor
    • Isengard
    • Mordor
  • Campaign only:
    • Fellowship of the Ring
    • Lórien
    • Ents
    • Goblins of the Moria
    • Harad

BFMEII features the following factions:
  • Men
  • Elves
  • Dwarves
  • Goblins
  • Isengard
  • Mordor
  • Angmar (expansion pack only)


The game provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Of the Peter Jackson films. BFMEII shows the battles of Dale and Mirkwood; and features Tom Bombadil as a hero summon. The expansion pack has Barrow-Wights as an Angmar reinforcement summon.
  • Action Girl: Éowyn in both games, Arwen in BFMEII. The Hero Editor of BFMEII allows to create one (Elvish Archer and Rohan Maid).
  • Adaptational Badass: In the original, Éowyn was in combat only once (but achieving more than most soldiers in middle earth, by killing the Witch-King). Here, once unlocked she can go to all the combats her heart cries for.
  • All There in the Manual: Plot and subtext info of both games are rare enough to cause the story to make very little sense if the player didn't read the books or at least watch the Peter Jackson movies.
    • Arguably the premise of BFMEII can also be this, as it revolves around what happened in the north after Frodo and the Fellowship left Rivendell. Which was rarely if ever brought up in the movies themselves.
  • Annoying Arrows: Mostly averted. Elven archers with upgraded arrows can kill an enemy with one shot but may take two or three with normal arrows. Even enemies with upgraded armour can withstand, at most, two upgraded Elven arrows. Factions with weaker archer units deal less damage but still kill with no more than maybe five arrows. "Monster" units such as trolls, Mûmakil, Ents, etc. need many shots to kill due to their size and durability.
    • Played straight with Hero units, due to the Heroes' high hitpoints and fast out-of-combat regeneration. Even in the Lord of the Rings Boromir was mortally wounded by one arrow, though he took three to the chest before he stopped fighting.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • In BFME, skirmish and multiplayer modes have an imposed limit for the Good and Evil sides, the Evil one being twice the Good one.
    • During the campaigns of BFME, this limit is gradually increased when controling specific territories. The maximum is the same as the multiplayer / skirmish one.
    • In BFMEII, the limit is increased with specific buildings. Both sides have the same maximum limit. In the campaigns the maximum limit automatically increases from mission to mission.
  • Army of the Dead: Summoning them is the ultimate power of the Good general powers, and a level 10 skill of Aragorn. They also intervene during scripted events, led by Aragorn in both cases: the siege of Minas Tirith in BFME (both campaigns), and the siege of Rivendell in BFMEII (end of the Evil campaign).
    • The dead are immune to most weapons or powers. The only one who can really do damage to them is a fully-upgraded Aragorn.
  • Arrows on Fire: Upgrade for most of the archers in BFME. In BFMEII, it is still the case for Human and Orc archers, but Elven ones upgrade their arrows with a kind of silver alloy and a magic spell.
    • Also applies to siege units, with most factions lighting their projectiles on fire, goblins and elves (who use creatures to throw them) not having an upgrade at all and Angmar freezing theirs instead.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Grond, the huge battering ram used by Mordor during the Minas Tirith siege (BFME). It is huge, slow, very resistant, and very powerful. When the gate of the city is destroyed, Grond will stay there and block most of the path in and out of the city, providing a kind of unintentional useful device to the defenders.
    • Heroes in skirmish mode can be this, it takes time to level them up and the cap they consume could have been used to build more units.
  • The Berserker: It is one of the Isengard units. One of Gimli skills is also described like this.
  • Bag of Spilling: Zig-zagged.
    • In both games, hero units keep their experience from mission to mission, as the player retains his general powers. Upgrades have to be researched in each mission.
    • In the BFME campaigns, the player keeps his units with their level, and their upgrades, but must research those upgrade first to apply them to units he just created.
    • In the BFMEII campaigns, the player keeps his heroes but not his army.
    • In the BFMEII "War of the Ring" mode, the player keeps the army he created during the turned-based mode, but not the troops created during the real-time battles.
      • Averted in the expansion, your armies that you build in real-time mode are now persistent.
  • Black Knight: Both games features Nazgûl on Fell Beasts (including the Witch-King of Angmar as a more powerful Nazgûl). BFME has Nazgûl on horses, the Mouth of Sauron, and Sauron himself (on foot).
  • Black Magic: The Angmar Sorceror unit is based on this; he's surrounded by a contingent of acolytes which he sacrifices to do things like make rotting corpses fall from the sky and suchlike.
  • Blown Across the Room: The Elves enchanted Silverthorn arrows strike like hammer-blows and can send an orc flying hilariously across the battlefield.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: Some heroes (Legolas, Lurtz, Faramir, etc) can switch between sword (or knives for Legolas) and bow. There are also the Gondor rangers, who use daggers when having to defend in melee fighting.
  • Cannon Fodder: The standard strategy for the Bad factions, especially Mordor.
    • A valid strategy for Goblins in BFMEII is to mass produce cheap, basic Goblin warriors and attack by the hundreds.
  • The Cavalry: Several missions of the Good campaign of BFME consist of surviving until the reinforcements come. Most of them are literal examples, as The Cavalry is the Rohan army.
  • Combat Aestheticist: The Elves.
  • Command And Conquer Economy
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The map editor allows players to come up with all sorts of crazy battle scenarios (Gandalf vs a fifty foot tall Sauron, for example), but there are a few to be found within the games themselves. The second game's final good mission, if you play it carefully, can feature Treebeard vs the Balrog (it is possible to have Treebeard win, but it requires very careful use of healing powers).
  • Cutscene:
    • In both games, most of them use the game engine. Some of the BFMEII ones include unmoving pictures from the game converted in a style reminescent of the John Howe drawings
    • BFME includes a few size-shrinked cutscenes extracted from the movies, displayed in the mini-map window without interrupting the actual gameplay
  • Cut Scene Power To The Max:
    • During the BFME Amon Hen mission of the Good campaign, there is a cutscene where Legolas is shown using a high level skill that will only be unlocked several missions later.
    • The Good campaign of BFMEII ends with Galadriel destroying Dol Guldur after summoning a storm
  • Damage Is Fire: Played straight in BFME (except for the Ents, which really suffer from constant damages when burning), partly averted in BFMEII (where fire attacks cause special damages to buildings).
  • Death from Above: Eagles and Nazgûl mounting Fell Beasts in both games. BFMEII adds the dragon Drogoth for Goblins, the ability for the Mordor fortress to hurl a giant volcanic rock, and several general powers (burning sunrays, rain of arrows or burning rocks).
  • Defeat Means Playable: In the Evil campaign of BFME, the first imposed Mordor mission requires to conquest several Haradrim settlements, to hire them for the conquest of Middle-Earth, either by buying (with an expensive present) or destroying each of them.
    • In The Rise of the Witch-King, after you've defeated the black Númenoreans with your Troll army, they'll become your elite infantry units.
  • Doomed by Canon: Strangely averted in the Good campaign of BFME. First, the Moria mission ends with Gandalf slaying the Balrog without being separated from the Fellowship. A bonus objective of the Amon Hen mission requires to save Boromir's life. Later, Faramir is not gravely wounded in Osgiliath, Théoden does not die in front of Minas Tirith, and Éowyn is not gravely wounded near of him.
    • In the Appendicies of the Book King Dáin is noted as being killed during the siege of Erebor though in the game he can be revived easily.
    • In a strange case of both sides being Doomed by Canon both Angmar and Arnor are plainly not going to survive the events of the expansion, seeing as neither were around to help or hinder the forces of good in the books.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The Moria and Shelob's lair mission of the BFME Good campaign, which both have a secondary objective consisting in finding all the treasures. Especially the Moria's one, which features only hero units.
  • Easy Communication
  • Easy Logistics:
    • There is only one resource (money), which generates automatically when the player owns specific buildings. Units don't require food, buildings don't need wood, stone or steel to be built/repaired).
    • Ranged units, defensive towers, and siege units have unlimited ammunition.
    • Buildings are automatically repaired after a while when damaged
  • Everybody Lives: In the good campaign of the first game, one of the last missions is the Battle of Minas Tirith. While the battle is a bloodbath in the films and the games, it's actually possible (though difficult) to play through the mission without loosing a single man. How? Have all your units retreat to the upper levels of the city and position them at the very top of both staircases, and build fountains and armories to fully arm and upgrade your soldiers. Build a hidden gate on the upper right part of the lower level, and then build nothing but towers on the remaining lower slots. Thus, whenever Mordor units break in, they'll be peppered with arrows non-stop, including the Nazgûl, and any who break through will be killed by your soldiers as they try to go up the stairs. When Rohan arrives, have them go through the hidden gate to the upper levels. When the army of the dead shows up, use them to kill all the Mordor units to win the mission.
  • Evil Overlord: Sauron, and Saruman to a lesser extend. They appear in some specific missions of the campaign. Saruman is a normal hero unit for the Isengard faction, and Sauron can be built in BFMEII multiplayer / skirmish mode if certain condition is meet.
    • The Witch-King in the expansion to BFMEII, he can be used in all missions of the Rise of Angmar campaign and the ultimate goal of the Epilogue is to not quite kill him.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The opening movie of BFME ends with the Eye of Sauron glowing in the middle of the screen, watching the player.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Some cutscenes mirrors the feel of the story by showing a lot more units on the ground that the player and the artificial intelligence could have trained.
    • In some missions, objectives include a <Hero> Must Survive one, even if the player base has the building which can resurrect heroes
    • BFMEII multiplayer / skirmish / "War of the Ring" modes have a special gameplay features involving a wandering Gollum carrying the One Ring. He drops it when dying; any unit which steps on the Ring gains it, and if it reach the player's fortress it allows him to train the ultimate hero of the Good / Evil side (Galadriel for the Good, Sauron for the Evil)
    • Gameplay and Story Segregation is averted in the Good campaign of BFME, in the Amon Hen mission rescuing Boromir before he is killed when protecting Merry and Pippin allows him to be used is the following missions of the campaign
  • Giant Flyer: Both games have the Eagles for the Good side, Nazgûl riding Fell Beasts (the Witch-King is a special Nazgûl) for the Evil side. BFMEII features a dragon lord as a hero of the Goblin faction.
  • Giant Spider: Shelob in the Cirith Ungol mission of BFME. Goblins in BFMEII have spider-riders. They also can hire Shelob as a hero unit.
  • Giant Squid: In BFMEII, one of the Evil general powers is the summoning of the Watcher in the Water.
  • <Hero> Must Survive: Used in a few of levels, though others you could just summon your heroes back at your base if you had enough money.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Good campaign of second game actually is the other story to the main plot line of The Lord of the Rings, as it focuses on battles fought in the northern regions of Middle Earth just after the Fellowship left Rivendell.
  • Human Resources: One of the Evil factions resource producing buildings is the slaughterhouse, which produce much when feed by your own troops. More, Mordor basic infantry is literally free: one practical way to gain easy money is to build Orc infantry, just to send them to the slaughterhouse.
  • Hero Unit
  • Killed Off for Real: Boromir, in the BFME Evil campaign.
  • Last Stand: The Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith missions in the BFME Good campaign are a nearly hopeless siege where the player, as the defender, must resist until The Cavalry (litterally: both missions involves enforcements from Rohan) comes. There is also the last mission of the campaign, where the player must survive against endless waves of Mordor units, until Frodo reachs Mont Doom and tosses the One Ring in it.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Tom Bombadil, a summonable unit when the player a Good general skill of BFMEII.
  • Magic Knight: Gandalf looks like a Squishy Wizard (he only wears a grey/white robe, wields a sword and a staff) but he is an incredibly tough melee fighter with destructive magic spells, being one of the Good heroes with the most hitpoints.
    • Saruman is the evil counterpart.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: the heroes have standard slogans they will say when they are selected. Particularly Arwen's: "Their treachery betrays them" makes no sense, but to a lesser extent also Glorfindel's "Something is a-foul" and others.
  • The Medic:
    • The Good factions have specific buildings which have this role (like the fountains in BFME)
    • Aragorn, Elrond, and Arwen have a level-1 skill ("athelas") which heals the allied heroes nearby
    • One of the magical powers granted to a Good general allows to heal allied units in a small area
  • Mighty Glacier: Many being an RTS:
    • Gimili and the dwarf faction in the sequel as a whole.
    • Ents, especially Treebeard who functions like a stronger Ent
    • Trolls, particularly dangerous are Mordor's attack trolls in the sequel
    • Mumakils, who are by far the strongest non-special unit
    • The Balrog when not using his brief flight
    • Sauron is the top of the food chain in this
  • Million Mook March: When the Orcs march toward Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Totally averted. BFME and BFMEII both have an "Evil" campaign, and the only campaign of The Rise of the Witch-King is centered on an Evil faction.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: Played straight with BFME and BFMEII, averted with The Rise of the Witch-King, being a prequel telling the story of the Witch-King of Angmar.
  • No Cure for Evil: The healing spells and buildings are specific to the Good factions, the only healing feature allowed to the Evil factions is the heroes automatic health regeneration.
  • No Problem With Licensed Games
  • Plunder: Éomer has a skill which make the player controlling him gain money when he or allied units near him destroy enemy units and buildings, Isengard Hero Lurtz unlocks the same power at level 6. Evil factions have a general skill which has the same effect, but for every unit of the player.
    • In BFMEII the Wild Men of Dunland have this ability in effect whenever attacking buildings.
  • One-Man Army: The Balrog, which easily wipe out whole armies or bases. Sauron is even more extreme, while he has an attack rate so slow that he's practically taking his time with each swing, one hit from him will destroy anything a few swings at best, and he takes an absurd amount of damage before dying, and that's without using his abilities.
  • Plot Armor: You might think Faramir would be weaker than Boromir, being the younger brother. And Gimli weaker than his father, Glóin. But Faramir and Gimli are more important to the plot of Lord of the Rings, therefore they are higher-level heroes. Averted with Legolas and his father Thranduil; Thranduil is worth more, though Legolas is arguably more useful.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Every Dwarf.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: How most Evil campaign missions end.
  • Recycled INSPACE: The series is Command & Conquer: Generals in Middle-Earth.
  • The Remnant: Near the end of the Good campaign of BFME, some optional missions set is the territory of Rohan have Isengard survivors as enemies. There is also Rohirrim enforcements to the enemy during some missions of the end of the Evil campaign.
  • Robo Teching: Zig-Zagged in BFMEII. Your ranged troops originally don't have Homing Boulders, but once you upgrade to Flaming Arrows (or Silverthorn arrows for the Elves), they never miss and shots can be seen to bend to strike targets. Totally explainable with the Elves-Silverthorn arrows are clearly enchanted-but for everyone else, it's clearly for balance reasons.
  • RPG Elements:
    • Hero units, their level cap is 10, and they gain skills at specific levels
    • In BFMEII, players can create custom heroes (specific to each race), and choose to use one of them during multiplayer / skirmish game, and with the "War of the Ring" mode
    • Most units gain experience and regiments gain the ability to replace fallen comrades, their level cap is 10 in BFME, and 5 in BFMEII. Most units can be upgraded with gear better than their starting weapons / armors
    • Some buildings can level-up and gain defensive towers.
    • Killing enemies and fulfilling some seconday objectives (in campaigns) grant experience to the general, which buys powers usable on the battlefield
  • "Risk"-Style Map:
    • Campaign map of BFME is like this. Appart from some imposed missions relating key events of the films (Helm's Deep, Isengard siege, Cirith Ungol, etc), the player can choose to conquest the region he wants. This choice influences the reward gained at the ending of the mission (general power point, increasing the Arbitrary Headcount Limit, or increasing the rate of generation of money)
    • The "War of the Ring" mode of BFMEII have two parts: a turn-based mode on a "Risk"-Style Map, and a real time battle when the player have to fight
  • Saved by Canon: The Evil campaign of BFME. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are met during the Amon Hen, Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith missions, where they have to be killed each time. Same thing with Faramir in the Southern Ithilien, Osgiliath, and Minas Tirith missions.
    • Then they show up again in the evil campaign in BFMEII in the final mission to once again throw everything they have at you. Literally: Aragorn comes with an army of the dead, Arwen tries that water summoning trick, Legolas has an Entish army, and Gandalf goes on a one-man rampage inside your base.
  • The Siege
  • Siege Engines: In BFMEII, the Elves amusingly have Ents as their siege units.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Boromir and Théoden can be saved, Gandalf doesn't fall in his fight against the Balrog (and becomes Gandalf the White nevertheless) and Frodo doesn't lose his finger.
  • Suspiciously Small Army
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: The "Resist" Good general power in BFME give weapons, and light armors to Rohan peasants, making them a cheap infantry.
  • Tunnel Network: In BFMEII, both the Dwarven faction, and the Goblin faction have resource-mining structures that doubled as entrances to their respective Tunnel Networks.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The games are RTS with RPG Elements, but there are a few missions of BFME which looks a lot like a kind of cheap Dungeon Crawling game (underground dungeon, only hero units, looking for gold). The Shelob's lair mission is one of them, but features later an other Unexpected Gameplay Change: it begins like a Dungeon Crawling and ends like a standard BFME mission.
  • Veteran Unit: See RPG Elements above.
  • Victory Pose: The troops troops cheer after every successful minor skirmish. That is to say, if you send one squad of cavalry to run down one squad of orcs, they will stop and cheer once the orcs are dead. Every. Time. Well, at least morale is good. They will also cheer if a hero runs near them. Which makes sense for, say, Aragorn or Théoden, but the hobbits?
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In the campaign of BFME, and in the "War of the Ring" mode of BFMEII, heroes and units are kept during the whole campaign. They gain experience and some of them can be upgraded.
  • What If?: The Evil campaign in both games can be considered this. The first game shows what would happen if the bad guys won the battles featured in the movie trilogy, while the second game tells the story of the villains slowly taking over the northern regions, ending with the remnants of the free races of Middle Earth making a last stand at Rivendell. During that final mission, Sauron even managed to retrieve the ring from Frodo.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Evil campaign of BFMEII has a mission when the player (commanding a Goblin army) has to conquest the Shire. When it is done, an Isengard army led by Grí­ma Wormtongue build a base there, thank the player for doing the dirty job, and turn against the player. The end of the mission consists in destroying it.
  • You Shall Not Pass: The Black Gate mission, ending of the Good campaign of BFME (see Last Stand above)
  • When Trees Attack: The Fangorn, and Isengard missions of BFME (both campaign). Ents (including the Treebeard hero unit) can also be trained as Rohan units in BFME, and as Elven units in BFMEII.
  • Zerg Rush: Mostly used by the Mordor. Evil faction tend to use this since their units are much cheaper.
    • Later on in the first game, the enemy faction WILL do at the beginning of each battle.
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alternative title(s): The Battle For Middle Earth
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