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Video Game / Divide and Conquer

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The powers of the Middle Earth, as you've never thought of them before.
Divide and Conquer (or DaC for short) is an extensive sub-mod of Third Age: Total War (a The Lord of the Rings-based mod of Medieval II: Total War: Kingdoms). This entirely campaign-focused sub-mod not only adds a massive amount of new content (such as units, factions, scripts, maps, etc.), but substantially overhauls pretty much everything inherited from the original Third Age. Currently, Divide and Conquer is on Version 4.5.

It can be found here. For more information, there's also the YouTube channel of the sub-mod's current head.

Unless noted otherwise, all tropes pertain to Version 4.5.

Not to be confused with the trope of the same name.

Divide and Conquer provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Whilst the mod goes to great lengths to remain faithful to both the original Tolkien's Legendarium and Peter Jackson's film trilogy, some areas, factions, and plot points of Middle-earth have been given this:
    • The realm of Dorwinion and the fisher-folk of Enedwaith, who were mentioned only a few times in The Hobbit and the appendices of The Lord of the Rings (with supplemental texts offering only a little more in the way of details), are full-fledged factions here.
    • Besides Khamûl and the Witch-King, V4 gave the rest of the Nine Ring-wraiths each an original, elaborate backstory and identity penned by various modders (rather than the ones taken from Middle-earth Role Playing like in previous versions), delivered through Flavor Text from a script event and special traits. They can be found here.
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    • The Blue Wizards were only briefly mentioned in the books and given a small amount of development in Tolkien’s supplemental writings. While we know that they were sent east to help organize rebellions against Sauron, the mod builds on this by having them directly approach the ruler of Khand in an effort to recruit his people. Should a Khandish player accept their offer and turn against Sauron, they gain access to powerful units from the (also barely-developed-in-canon) eastern Dwarven clans who have joined forces with the Blue Wizards.
  • Amazon Brigade: A handful of units comprise of all females, namely Dunland and Enedwaith's Warchanters, Khand's Uushixià Stormriders, Harad's Hasharii Shadows, Lothlórien's Yavanna's Chosen, and (of course) the Shieldmaidens of Rohan.
  • Animated Armor: The Castellans of Dol Guldur are basically suits of armor possessed by evil spirits.
  • Anti-Cavalry:
    • Factions like Dunland and Harad that will likely have to fight against lots of high-quality horsemen tend to have a particularly strong anti-cavalry focus. A few units even get a bonus against specific horse breeds; for example, Isengard's Uruk-hai Infantry get a special bonus against Rohirric cavalry, despite being regular swordsmen otherwise.
    • While melee and skirmisher cavalry in general get an attack bonus versus other cavalry, all of Khand's horsemen fight better against other cavalry, befitting their in-universe status as master horsemen.
    • Several High Elven units, even those who aren't otherwise anti-cavalry, get a bonus specifically against Wargs.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Besides the usual crossbows, axes, maces, hammers, javelins, etc., there are also a handful of AP archerslist , swordsmenlist , and stone-throwing hobbitslist .
  • Arrows on Fire: For a number of reasons, this ability was taken away from almost every archer from V2 onward, with only two of Rhûn's units (the Lôke-Nar Rim and the Süri'ut Chariots) retaining it. However, Rhûnnic fire arrows work quite differently from the fire arrows of vanilla Third Age (and indeed Medieval II in general); their fire arrows retain the damage buff of standard fire arrows without suffering any of the rate of fire and accuracy debuffs present in the base game. Rhûn's Darïtaï Hunters also shoot fire arrows, but unlike the missiles of their higher-tier counterparts, these flames are purely cosmetic and don't actually burn their targets.
  • An Axe to Grind: Axes are the most common armor-piercing weapon, with Erebor in particular favoring their use to the point where even their primary ranged weapons are throwing axes.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • If Gandalf the Grey falls, he'll eventually come back as Gandalf the White, with his Dúnedain Cavalry bodyguard replaced by the even more powerful Arthedain Royal Knights.
    • Whenever a Nazgûl dies, they will eventually revive. Additionally, if Dol Guldur is defeated, their three Nazgûl will respawn in Mordor.
  • Badass Bookworm: According to their unit description, the Nanohtar of Imladris are not just elite-level sword-and-shield infantry, but librarians and archivists who spend most of their time holding a quill instead of a blade.
  • Bad with the Bone: According to their unit description, the Troll-men Champions of Harad are rumored to create their swords from the tusks of mûmakil.
  • Barbarian Tribe:
    • The men of Enedwaith and Dunland are fierce savages with little in the way of civilization, which is reflected in the campaign by their relative lack of economic and technological capabilities, and on the battlefield by their relatively undisciplined nature and low armor compared to more civilized men (though the Dunlendings do get a boost in the latter thanks to their alliance with Isengard). The aforementioned features also apply to early game Anduin, though in a more Noble Savage manner.
    • The troll-men of Far Harad are even more barbaric, going into battle with little more than a Loincloth and a wicker shield, which they compensate for with their sheer hardiness (being among the few multiple-HP infantry in DaC). Their Muhad comrades are more sophisticated, but still go into battle half-naked.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Vale of Anduin's standard bodyguard unit are Skin-Changers, men who can transform into bears in the lore. While technical limitations have so far prevented the modders from implementing actual bears on the battlefield, the Skin-Changers are still one of DaC's most powerful units, possessing both multiple HP and the highest attack by far of any non-monster unit in the game, with their only weakness being their relatively low armor.
  • Beef Gate:
    • Some factions will spawn a giant elite-tier army to kick your ass if you take their capital without dealing with the rest of their territories.
    • If you're playing as Rohan, Isengard will get a starting horde of late game units so you can't just overwhelm their relatively weak starting units with your cavalry.
  • Being Good Sucks: Accepting the Blue Wizards' offer as Khand will cause Mordor, Harad, Rhûn, the Ar-Adûnâim, and a significant portion of Khand's own population to all instantly turn on the player with a vengeance, to the point where it's common for a good-aligned Khand player to initially lose all of their starting settlements. However, the player will also gain two powerful generals (the Wizards themselves) and two armies comprised of powerful units (rebellious Easterling tribes and the eastern Dwarven clans) which the player can then recruit more of. The instant breaking of the player’s pre-set alliances with Harad, Rhûn, and Mordor also gives the player a lot more room to expand (an evil-aligned Khand can be quickly boxed in by their allies). In short, if a good-aligned Khand can survive the initial onslaught, it can be in a very good position indeed.
  • Black Knight: Oh so many. The mod in particular has a much increased emphasis on corrupted Men in comparison to the original mod, particularly Black Númenóreans per Rule of Cool.
    • Mordor's mightiest warriors are the Temple units, darkly-clad Black Númenórean knights of great valor who emit a terrifying aura; fittingly, every Nazgûl directly controlled by Mordor gets them as their bodyguard. Once revived, Sauron himself will take to battle clad in the black plate he wore during the War of the Last Alliance, accompanied by a unique bodyguard composed of fanatical cultists wearing dark, spiked platemail and maces comparable to his own. It's a pity they are rare enough that you can't field a whole army of them without cheating.
    • Angmar's higher unit tiers fields several companies of these, such as the Witch-Knights, a dark order of hooded Knights pledged to the Iron Crown. Most notable are the Guardians of Carn Dûm, who are this trope crossed with Horny Vikings; as the Witch King's most loyal barbarian retainers, they ride might steeds, are clad in heavy black plate, and wield thick iron shields.
    • Dol Guldur has Khamûl's Shadowknights, an exceedingly powerful and rare unit of Easterling riders, who wear shadowy chainmail, wield great spears of enormous size, and ride upon the same breed of horses the Nazgul themselves mount. They are described as being Khamûl's most fanatically loyal warriors, and serve as his bodyguard unit.
  • Bows Versus Crossbows:
    • In keeping with the trope, crossbows tend to have a much worse range and firing rate than bows, and are particularly terrible at arcing shots, but compensate with armor-piercing (and usually higher base damage to begin with). As such, they are generally favored by factions with more wealth than fighting skill, namely Bree, Dorwinion, Moria, and (by Dwarven standards) Ered Luin; even in the case of Rhûn's more professional roster, their crossbowmen are very much low-tier units, with their more elite ranged units being bowmen instead. In fact, the only crossbowmen that can match rangers in terms of accuracy are Ered Luin's Broadbeam Marksmen and the Ar-Adûnâim's Berúthiel's Rangers.
    • Like in the films, Isengard's heavy usage of crossbows reflects the industrialized brutishness of its armies, with the actual archery skill of Uruk-hai crossbowmen paling in comparison to most post-Barracks Event bowmen.
  • Cavalry of the Dead: The Aragorn Quest script ends with the Northern Dúnedain getting an army of undead Oathbreakers, who can be used for three battles before disappearing.
  • A Commander Is You: With twenty-seven highly varied factions to choose from, chances are a player will be able to find at least one that fits their specific playstyle:
    • Angmar: A very Balanced faction, the Hill-men have a well-rounded roster that contains a lot of armor-piercing and Warg-riding units, but otherwise tends to be more middle-of-the-road in terms of quality. Most deadly of these raiders of the North are the Iron Crown battalions of elites along with some Barrow Wights should you take over territories that have Barrows.
    • Bree-land: A primarily Economist faction with a strong focus on trade, Bree's early game roster has somewhat of a Guerilla/Ranger orientation thanks to their stealthy (and surprisingly good) hobbit and woodland units, but is otherwise fairly mediocre outside of the occasional Greenway or Dúnedain unit. They actually become more of a Spammer faction after the Barracks Event, since their late game units are among the worst (and cheapest) in the entire game, though this is slightly compensated for by being able to recruit either foreign mercenaries or Dúnedain-associated units (depending on whether the player picks the even more Economist "Isolationist" option or the slightly more Elitist "Friends of the Dúnedain" path respectively).
    • Dale: A very Ranger-oriented faction, with some of Middle-earth's finest archers from top to bottom. They also become more of a Tank faction after the Barracks Event; they gain a solid core of polearm infantry, and their elites tend to have very impressive armor and shield stats. However, the non-archer portion of Dale's roster is still fairly mediocre for the most part, though relatively well-rounded in terms of tactical variety. They also become something of a Economist faction once they finish rebuilding their core regions, thanks to Dale's mercantile orientation.
    • Dol Guldur: Guerilla/Ranger-focused Spammers whose roster is reliant on archery, skirmish, stealth, and sheer numbers, to the point of being the only orc faction with a "true" Ranger unit. They're also a bit of a Gimmick faction, as a key tactic will be using their poison arrows to break the morale of their foes.
    • Dorwinion: Very much an Economist faction (thanks in large part to their highly valuable wine), their early game roster is relatively Spammy for a non-orc faction, being well-rounded and cheap but rather low quality. After the Barracks Event, Dorwinion's roster can either become significantly more Balanced in terms of quality, or take a much more archer/ambush-focused Ranger/Guerilla playstyle, depending on whether they choose the Mannish or Elven path respectively.
    • Dwarves: Like in the original Third Age, these three factions are an Elitist take on the Turtle/Brute options; from top-to-bottom, their melee infantry can outfight, outtough, and simply outlast almost every non-Elven counterpart. They are also very much Economist factions, as their economies (even that of the initially nomadic Khazad-Dûm) will be blessed with an embarrassment of riches once they get their mines going, helping to compensate for how expensive and small their units tend to be. However, Dwarven armies are the slowest in all of DaC and are relatively lacking in archery. They have to rely on mercenaries for what they lack in.
      • Erebor: Takes the Brute approach to the max; they hit even harder than their brethren, but have slightly lower defense compared to Khazad-Dûm and almost no ranged capability outside of throwing axes.
      • Ered Luin: Something of a Technical/Turtle hybrid, they'll need to rely on keeping the enemy at bay with their pikes while maneuvering their crossbows to get the best shot, as their units are generally somewhat weaker than those of the other two Dwarven factions in a direct melee.
      • Khazad-Dûm: Takes the Turtle approach to the max, with the highest armor and shield values out of their brethren, but slightly lower attack compared to Erebor. This is a given, as you will have to fight with tooth and nail to retain your foothold in the Misty Mountains while fending off the Goblins of Moria.
    • Gundabad: Despite being orcs, they are the most overall Elitist of the evil factions, with only the Elves and (some) Dwarves able to outmatch them in a direct fight. Tactically, Gundabad has a Brutish roster that is focused around quickly getting into melee with the enemy, being comprised mostly of lightly-armored but hard-hitting infantry. However, they can become more Balanced/Spammy with the "Subjugation" system, which allows them to recruit units from other orc factions (and Angmar) as they expand their territories.
    • Harad: Probably one of the most Technical factions in the game, as their units move fast and hit hard, but have very low defensive stats and are particularly vulnerable to missile fire. Good micromanagement becomes particularly key after the Barracks Event, as their late game units have low troop counts and high costs even compared to Dúnedain counterparts, but are still less durable than even many equivalent orc and wild men units. Even the mighty mûmakil will require some finesse to achieve their full effectiveness in battle.
    • High Elves: This well-rounded faction goes all the way with the Elitist philosophy, as their units are the absolute best in the entire game at each tier (with the exception of their still-elite cavalry), but incredibly expensive and low in number. Of course, you still need to be smart, as they are hard to replace and you if you lose either Mithlond or Rivendell, you will lose a good part of your roster until you get them back.
    • Isengard: Similar to the original Third Age, Isengard has a Brutish infantry-focused roster. However, even though Uruk-hai units are better than equivalent orc units at each tier, Isengard is still pretty Spammy pre-Barracks Event, with only a few standout units like the half-orcs and the Berserkers. However, once the late game hits, Isengard becomes a lot more Elitist, gaining heavily-armored Uruk-hai who can outmatch even the descendants of Númenor in direct combat.
    • Khand: Very much a Ranger faction, Khand's lineup is designed to favor hit-and-run tactics, with their main strength being an extensive roster of swift and hard-hitting cavalry that includes the finest horse archers in all of DaC. However, while Khand's non-mounted roster does include some reasonably hard-hitting units, it has very little tactical variety (to the point where it contains almost no polearms) and simply lacks the sturdiness to be able to hold a line for long; they'll need to ally with the Blue Wizards and the Orocarni Dwarves if they want any infantry that can truly duke it out in an extended slugfest.
    • Mordor: If it wasn't for the existence of Moria, Mordor's main roster would be the Spammer par excellence of the entire game, with a relatively Brute-like focus on hordes of cheap orc infantry due to their mostly mediocre archery and complete lack of mainline cavalry outside of a few units they can recruit from the Men of the East. However, Mordor's non-Orc elites are on the complete opposite end of the quality-vs-quality scale, being some of Middle-earth's very best. Not to mention you get the Immortal Nazgul and the Big Bad himself, the latter having the Relentless trait.
    • Moria: The Spammiest faction in all of DaC, with their goblin mainstays being even cheaper, weaker, and more cowardly than regular orcs. Indeed, their roster generally has the largest unit sizes for each tier in the entire game. Which isn't to say that the goblins are all about Cannon Fodder; their roster is probably the tactically diverse of the orcs and includes some fairly unique special units.
    • Númenóreans: The four factions in this group are sort of a mix of Generalist and Elitist; their troops generally have well-rounded stats and tend to be better than equivalent units from other Mannish factions, if also more expensive. The Númenórean factions also all have impressive economic capabilities (at least potentially), including far more building/upgrade options than other Mannish factions, making them sort of Economist/Research factions as well.
      • Ar-Adûnâim: Very much the Númenórean Brute, victory will mostly hinge on their infantry's ability to crush their foes in a head-on clash, especially since the Ar-Adûnâim's core roster has zero cavalry until the late game. There's even an element of Spammer to their gameplay, since unlike their nobler kindreds, the lowest tier of the Ar-Adûnâim's core roster includes a few cheap Cannon Fodder units to support a lineup that is otherwise roughly on par with those of the other Númenorean factions. They can also take a more Balanced approach by recruiting other factions' units through the auxiliary system (in particular, it'll be their chief means of getting cavalry).
      • Dol Amroth: Their low/mid-tier roster is probably the most Generalist out of all the Númenóreans, being solid but not particularly spectacular outside of their excellent lancer cavalry. However, Dol Amroth's elite units are a whole 'nother story, with their elite cavalry in particular being the best Mannish horsemen in the entire game. In fact, Swan Knights and their Royal counterparts and obiliterate entire stacks of enemies when played correctly.
      • Gondor: Their roster is something of a jack-of-all-trades, as they can recruit a wide variety of very good region-exclusive units from their various fiefdoms to supplement a reasonably solid mainline. Gondor's only real weakness is that their cavalry will be outclassed by almost everyone else's (though this is slightly compensated for by being able to train some Amrothian cavalry); as such, Gondorian tactics will often tend towards defensive turtling, especially since the majority of their most elite units are spear/polearm infantry. To get their best units, you will have to grapple with Mordor to reclaim territories such as Minas Ithil.
      • Northern Dúnedain: They tend to have a very Ranger/Guerilla playstyle in the early/mid-game, with some of the finest non-Elven archers in all of Middle-earth and a core pre-Barracks Event roster well-suited to pulling off devastating hit-and-run tactics in the forests of Eriador. Additionally, they also boast some excellent melee infantry and cavalry which makes them arguably the most tactically diverse of their kin. That said, while the core Dúnedain roster remains Elitist throughout, most of it is only easily recruitable within the former heartlands of Arnor, meaning that if the Northern Dúnedain want to expand beyond Eriador, they'll have to adopt a more Balanced roster made up of whatever local troops they can recruit through the "Beacon of Hope" system, since they need to have a high enough culture in order to recruit Dúnedain units.
    • Rhûn: Perhaps the most Balanced faction, the Easterlings have a very well-rounded roster that holds up reasonably well in terms of both quality and numbers. Like in vanilla Third Age, Rhûn in the early game is more Ranger-focused with a plethora of ranged units, but becomes more of a Brute/Tank faction once they can start training the heavily-armored Lôke-Khan units. However, while most Rhûnnic units are at least solid for their tier, their roster doesn't particularly excel at anything either, outside of their fire-based Gimmicks.
    • Rohan: The Men of the Riddermark are definitely a Ranger-focused faction thanks to their varied and well-rounded plethora of solid-to-excellent cavalry, but this is balanced by the non-mounted part of their roster being fairly mediocre for the most part (being particularly lacking in ranged units), if still better suited for holding a line than Khand's.
    • Silvan Elves (Lothlórien, The Woodland Realm): These Elves are masters of the Ranger/Guerrilla approach, with their plethora of excellent missile troops and mastery of forest-based stealth. But don't assume they're helpless in a straight fight; their rosters compensate for their high cost and low unit sizes by being almost just as Elitist as the High Elves', with their only hole being their relative lack of cavalry. In general, the Woodland Realm's units tend to be more focused on dealing damage, while Lórien's are generally more defensively-oriented.
    • Wild Men: In general, Middle-earth's three most primitive Mannish factions are Guerilla Spammers whose greatest strengths are numbers and stealth. Though they may not be quite as quantity-over-quality as the orcs, the wild men are definitely solid runner-ups; in particular, they arguably have the worst late-game rosters in all of Middle-earth, since the relative quality of their units starts to really fall behind once the Barracks Event hits.
      • Dunland: Very much a Brute faction that relies on overwhelming the enemy in close combat, Dunland actually has some pretty decent mid-tier melee units (though they still lack any real "elite"-caliber ones). However, their roster has rather pitiful ranged capabilities and is not quite as stealthy as the other wild men's, though this can be somewhat compensated for if Dunland manages to complete the "Unite the Clans" script and starts recruiting from Enedwaith's more skirmish-oriented roster.
      • Enedwaith: Victory here will require a Ranger playstyle, since Enedwaith's units will almost always be outclassed in a straight fight. Instead, their primary strength is their skirmishers; any unit that finds itself the recipient of an Enedwaith javelin volley is not going to be existing for much longer. Their weakness in close combat can be somewhat compensated for by completing the "Unite the Clans" script, which allows them to recruit from Dunland's sturdier roster.
      • Vale of Anduin: The "jack-of-all-trades" of the wild men, the Valesmen are something of a Technical/Specialist faction; they can't spam units on the level of the other wild men, and while their roster as a whole is tactically versatile, their units individually tend to be rather specialized to the point where none of them can really fill the role of an all-around mainline unit, making victory particularly reliant on carefully coordinated tactics. That said, if they do have a strength, it would be their archers, who can hold their own even against those of Dale and the Northern Dúnedain, and their Beorning axemen, who can quickly fell even the mightiest of dwarves and elves.
    • Pre-V3 Angmar was very much a Brute/Spammer faction that focused on overwhelming the enemy in close combat, which was reinforced by their wide array of armor-piercing units from top to bottom (and their rather mediocre-to-the-point-of-almost-nonexistent ranged capabilities). In fact, their post-Barracks Event units were actually relatively Elitist by orc standards, being able to hold their own against most non-Númenórean Mannish counterparts.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Averting this trope is the reason why the three Dwarven factions were overhauled in V3 to be significantly more differentiated from each other. It is also a major factor in the re-merger of the two High Elven factions, as even the mod team came to feel that Imladris and Lindon didn't really stand out too much from each other.
  • Crutch Character: Some starting generals are guarded by a mid-tier unit instead of their faction's default bodyguard or an actual elite unit; they'll still massively outclass most other units in the early game, but their comparative combat usefulness tends to drop sharply once the Barracks Event hits.
  • Drop the Hammer: Maces and hammers are another common armor-piercing weapon, with Khazad-dûm in particular favoring their use. However, the true masters of the hammer (besides Sauron's bodyguard, of course) are Imladris's Smiths of Eregion, who are even more powerful than they were in vanilla Third Age, to the point of being probably the strongest non-monstrous unit by far in all of DaC.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: AI-controlled Ered Luin has a reputation for being rather aggressive against a Lindon player, though funnily enough, AI-controlled Lindon is usually quite friendly towards an Ered Luin player.
  • Evil vs. Evil:
    • Isengard's campaign is designed to encourage the player to eventually turn against Sauron, since Saruman taking the Ring for himself is not only required in order to start training Nazg-hai (Isengard's most powerful (non-troll) unit), but will cause the Nazgûl themselves to eventually all defect to Isengard's side.
    • The Ar-Adûnâim may be evil imperialists, but do not start off any more friendly to Sauron than they are to the Dúnedain when player-controlled; in fact, the welcome message outright encourages the player to get revenge on Sauron "for his crimes of high-treason against the Golden One".
  • Face–Heel Turn: There's a script that has Sauron offering Ered Luin the three surviving Dwarven Rings of Power, at the cost of forsaking the Free Peoples, and becoming aligned with the Shadow. The player has the option of accepting or rejecting the Dark Lord.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: Given that Khazad-dûm and the Ar-Adûnâim don't even start off holding any settlements to begin with, this trope is very much in force with them at least in a gameplay sense, especially if they end up losing whatever settlements they do conquer and are forced to wander the proverbial wilderness once more.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Haradrim are this as a faction; their units have very aggressive stats even compared to their Númenórean counterparts, but tend to be very fragile thanks to their relative lack of armor.
    • Low-tier "Berserker-type" infantry are capable of inflicting even more damage than many elite units, but will melt away the moment their enemy hits back. This is perhaps best exemplified by the Mountain-Orc Hunters of Moria and Gundabad; they can cut through even Dwarven armor with ease, but will instantly fall to a single 1-damage arrow.
    • The Woodland Hunters, despite being an early game unit, are just as deadly with their bows as many post-Barracks Event archers. However, they will start dying the moment an enemy so much as sneezes on them.
  • Graying Morality: While all the factions in vanilla Third Age were basically grouped into "Good" or "Evil", DaC adds a few wrinkles to this setup:
    • Enedwaith starts off with no allies or enemies, and generally has an equal chance of warring against both good and evil factions.
    • Although Dunland is allied with Isengard, their culture is Middlemen (the same as Enedwaith and Bree) instead of Melkor's Shadow or Men of the East, reflecting that they just want to retake their old lands and have zero interest in helping Sauron take over the world. In addition, Dunland's Long Campaign might bring them into conflict with Isengard, as both factions require ownership of Edoras to win, despite Saruman's promise to return the lands of Rohan to his allies.
    • While Bree starts off allied with the Northern Dúnedain, the former can break said alliance by choosing the "Isolationist" path when prompted, which is described in the accompanying description cards as the Bree-landers and Shire-folk deciding to prioritize their own interests over contributing to the greater war against the Shadow.
    • Word of God is that part of the reason why Dale and Rhûn don't immediately start off as enemies is so that a Dorwinion player could have the option of allying with the latter despite their preset alliance with the former.invoked
  • Grim Up North: According to the head modder himself, the reason why the snow-orcs of Gundabad are so much stronger than the other orcs (and most men, for that matter) is because of the countless millennia they've spent in Middle-earth's frigid north after the fall of Morgoth.invoked
  • He's Back: Two very dark examples:
    • When Angmar retakes most of their lost territory, the Witch-King of Angmar will return north to don the Iron-Crown once more (i.e. becoming Angmar's faction leader) to begin another invasion of Arnor. This gives Angmar an extremely powerful general.
    • Like in the original Third Age, if Mordor recovers the ring, Sauron himself will return as a very powerful general with a unique bodyguard. He also comes with the relentless trait and becomes the most powerful infantry commander in the game.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Around turn 40-50, Khand will get the option to turn against Sauron by allying with the Blue Wizards. Doing so will net them two powerful armies commanded by the Blue Wizards themselves and allow them to recruit Orocarni Dwarves and the Uushixià Stormriders (powerful chariot-mounted crossbow[wo]men).
  • Horse Archer: Many factions have at least one unit of such, but Khand in particular have this trope as their main hat, with their default bodyguard unit, the Variag Nobles, firing armor-piercing arrows. Also worth noting is that Angmar has two types of warg archers, Dorwinion and Moria get low-tier mounted crossbowmen/goblins, and the Northern Dúnedain's Grey Company used to be elite cavalry archers (like in the original Third Age) before V2.2 changed them into uber-elite melee infantry.
  • Javelin Thrower: Many factions have at least one unit of javelinmen, who will likely be your best counter against mûmakil and other elephant-derived units like chariots. Enedwaith in particular is built around javelins; despite being as cheap as dirt, their javelinmen as a whole have the highest ammo count, damage output, range, and accuracy out of all the factions, and all of their best units (including their generals' bodyguard) are primarily javelinmen.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • A specialty of Rhûn's; besides their fire arrows, they also have the firebomb-throwing Udege Marines.
    • Besides being one of DaC's best shock infantry units, the Nazg-hai of Isengard also throw firebombs.
    • The Goblins of Moria have the Flame Wrangler, a catapult that flings barrels filled with explosive oil.
  • Last Stand: If a faction goes below a certain number of provinces, they will spawn a full stack of high-tier troops in order to repel the invaders and retake their lands; the script is even called "Last Stand"! This mechanic is also invoked should they lose an important settlement/fortress. I.e: Orthanc for Isengard or Cair Andoras for Gondor.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Hobbit Shirriffs may have hilariously low stats (particularly those from the Vale of Anduin), but the ridiculous amount of armor-piercing throwing stones they carry means that they'll often have the highest kill count of your entire army.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Like in any other Total War game, shields are especially protective against missile fire; a big reason why Dale is so deadly in a skirmish fight is because most of their post-Barracks Event archers carry a shield, with their elite bowmen having shield stats on par with those of elite heavy infantry. This is also the main saving grace of Bree's Journeymen, whose giant pavise-type shields elevate them from being mediocre crossbowmen to one of the most durable ranged units in the early game. However, the unit with the best shield value by far (about double that of even the heaviest dwarven and elven infantry) is Aragorn's Grey Company, despite several of them not even carrying shields in the first place!
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Dorwinion starts off with a weak roster that will be handily outclassed by their likely foe Rhûn, but once they hit the late game, they'll be able to recruit elite units that can more than hold their own against their counterparts from the Lôke-Khan's armies.
    • Similarly to the original mod, Dale begins with relatively weak units and an economy that's still recovering from the devastation wrought by Smaug. However, by the time they hit the late game, Dale will be quite capable of holding the line in a straight fight, and rolling in money to boot.
  • Mercenary Units: Like in any other Total War game, local mercenaries can be hired, with the two best probably being the Sellswords (well-armored two-handed swordsmen, tend to be commanders of some Rebel settlement) and the Sons of the Fallen (elite Dwarven spearmen). Bree in particular can eventually recruit mercenaries as part of their mainline roster if they take the "Isolationist" path.
  • Mighty Glacier: Dwarves in general are extremely resilient, with the best overall armor, stamina, and morale out of all the races. On top of that, they also hit hard, thanks in part to a plethora of excellent armor-piercing units. However, they will invariably have the slowest armies in the game.
  • Morale Mechanic: At each basic tier of morale (Low, Average, Good, etc.), Orcs have the lowest, Elves and Dwarves have the highest, and Men are in between. Enedwaith and Moria in particular have such low morale that they each have a unit specifically dedicated to maintaining morale(the Warchantersnote  and Uruk Taskmasters respectively).
  • Nerf:
    • From V2 onward, only a handful of elite units (generally one per faction) can place sharpened stakes, in an effort to prevent players from taking too much advantage of the battle AI's stupidity.
    • Because of how powerful heavy cavalry is in the Medieval II engine, particularly against the majority of early game units, most factions no longer have default cavalry bodyguards, with only Khand, Rohan, Dol Amroth, and Harad retaining them from V2 onward.
    • From V3 onward, in order to balance out their new emphasis on pikes and crossbows (and rather comfy starting location), most of Ered Luin's melee units either had their stats somewhat reduced or lost their armor-piercing.
    • Archers that used to have armor-piercing arrows, but now no longer do for balance reasons, include Khazad-Dûm's Hithaeglir Beast Hunters, Dale's Barding Marksmen, and Khand's Warlord's Kataphract Archers.
    • Lancer cavalry from V3 onward have had their secondary attacks noticeably reduced, with most also losing any attack bonus they had against other cavalry.
    • One of the many changes that came with the remerger of Lindon and Imladris is that the latter's Tulkas' Faithful (renamed to "Amanyar Swordmasters") no longer have armor-piercing.
  • One-Hit Polykill: The Silverthorn Arrows used by the Gûrveleg of Lothlórien and the Hin-e Daur of the Woodland Realm can pierce through multiple foes. Other units who fire body-piercing missiles include the Guardians of Enedwaith (javelins), Rhûn's Süri'ut Chariots (fire arrows), and Khand's Uushixià Stormriders (crossbow bolts).
  • Our Elves Are Different: Besides the woodcraft-focused Silvan Elves and the straight-up elite High Elves most predominately featured in most Middle-earth media, there are also the Avari of Dorwinion. They make excellent archers, but are relatively lacking in melee prowess compared to the Eldar (or even some of the more elite Mannish units).
  • Our Wights Are Different: Angmar can train Barrow-wights in locations where there are, well, barrows. They're just as powerful and implacable as one would expect, being arguably Angmar's best unit.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Poison arrows drastically reduce the morale of any unit they hit, with Dol Guldur's archers and the Drúedain Hunters favoring their use (also, the Goblins of Moria, but they're not particularly skilled archers).
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: As the modders themselves admit, various liberties are taken with the lore in order to facilitate gameplay, particularly in terms of unit and faction variety.
  • Ranger:
    • Several factions (namely, the majority of Mannish factionsnote , both Silvan Elf factions, and Dol Guldur) have a "ranger"-type unit; basically, a lightly-armored foot archer that can hide anywhere and usually has the highest accuracy, missile damage, range, and ammo count out of all the archers in their faction. Rangers also usually have better melee stats than most pre-Barracks Event mainline troops, making them particularly useful for factions that can recruit them early on.
    • There's also Ered Luin's Broadbeam Marksmen and the Ar-Adûnâim's Berúthiel's Rangers, which are basically rangers with crossbows.
    • For a mounted version that's still capable of hiding in woods, there's the elite Amanyar Rangers (while the Dúnedain Scouts are conceptually basically mounted Dúnedain Rangers, their relatively low stats precludes them from fully qualifying for the trope).
    • There are also units that the head modder has described in some way or another as being quasi-rangers, like Dúnedain Steelbowmen and Mordor's Temple Marksmen (armor-piercing archers who are also deadly swordsmen), Enedwaith's Elder Guildsmen pre-V4 (stealthy archer bodyguards who were slightly tankier than most rangers, but slightly less adept with the bow), the Lôke-Nar Rim of Rhûn (who have lower archery stats than rangers and no stealth capabilities, but fire high-damage flaming arrows), and the Dúnedain Bodyguards (basically roided-up Dúnedain Rangers with armor-piercing arrows who also make formidable axemen in a pinch). There's also the Nimrodel Mariners, who used to be straight-up rangers, but have had their archery stats and steath capabilities somewhat reduced from V3 onward in exchange for an increase in unit size and durability.
  • Racial Remnant:
    • While all the native peoples of Enedwaith are related to the Haladin, the Foresters of Haleth are implied to be their direct descendants, with their unit description indicating that they still retain a mythologized memory of their ancestors' deeds in Beleriand.
    • A number of the Dwarves of Ered Luin are descended from those who fled the ruins of Belegost and Nogrod after the sinking of Beleriand, represented in-game by the Broadbeam Marksmen, Firebeard Warriors, Azaghâl's Tomb Protectors, Gabilgathol Guard, and Tumunzahar Nobles, who all retain proud memories of their people's former glory. This heritage was played up more pre-V3, but it's since been established that most of Ered Luin's inhabitants are of Durin's Folk.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
    • Enedwaith's campaign basically revolves around uniting a bunch of primitive woodsmen, fisher, and fowler clans into something that half-resembles a military power.
    • Bree's roster is mostly made up of a motley array of what are essentially militia, ranging from hobbits armed with farming tools to merchants with better equipment than training; when even your starting faction leader is just a forgetful innkeeper (Barliman Butterbur himself), you very much qualify for this trope. As such, most of their best units are either mercenaries or come from other factions.
  • The Remnant:
    • The Ar-Adûnâim are the descendants of Númenórean colonists who settled in Middle-earth's far south and thus survived the sinking of Númenór. Unlike the descendants of the Faithful or even Sauron's own Númenórean followers, the Ar-Adûnâim maintain the ideology of the King's Men who ruled Númenor in its final millennia.
    • As indicated by their faction name, the Remnants of Angmar are the surviving vestiges of the evil kingdom that destroyed Arnor before being destroyed in turn by the Gondorians and High Elves. The game starts with Sauron sending one of his Black Númenórean generals to reestablish Angmar, since the Witch-king is initially too busy with matters in the south to return to his former domain.
    • The snow-orcs of Gundabad are the descendants of Morgoth's original orcs who fled to the northern fringes of Middle-earth, where they remained for all of the Second Age and most of the Third Age before finally returning south in order to eradicate the Dwarves for good. That is, unless the Dwarves or the other enemies of Gundabad get them first.
  • Rock Beats Laser: The Stoor Shirriffs of the Anduin and the Watch Shirriffs of Bree are stone-throwing hobbits, and though each rock's base damage is only one, they're also armor-piercing, making them surprisingly effective against even elite troops.
  • Savage Wolves: Warg-riding units tend to do incredibly high damage for their tier, particularly on the charge, and are especially effective against other cavalry. In fact, Moria's Azog's Defilers have the highest attack stats out of all of DaC's horse-sized mounted units.
  • Shields Are Useless: Most units who wear their shield on their back instead of holding it actually have a shield value of zero, presumably because their shield is supposed to instead represent their armor stat coming into effect whenever they're being hit in the back. The only exceptions to this are most shield-wearing bow/crossbow units, presumably because they do switch to holding their shield when in melee.
  • Siege Engines: Besides the default catapults, ballistae, battering rams, etc. that basically every faction gets, there's also a few faction-exclusive siege engines; Gondor and Dol Amroth get trebuchets, the dwarves get a special catapult that can fire both grapeshot and mortar shots, and Moria gets the firebomb-flinging Flame Wrangler.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Harad's Troll-men Champions wear horned skulls as part of their helmet, and other troll-men units get skull masks when given an armor upgrade.
  • Starting Units:
    • Most factions start off with at least a few generals who have a late game unit as their bodyguard instead of their faction's standard bodyguard. A couple of generals even have as bodyguards units that otherwise are exclusive to other factions; of particular note is Angmar's faction leader Agandaûr, who is guarded by the otherwise Mordor-only Temple Wards.
    • Additionally, a handful of generals come with unique (and very powerful) bodyguards that are 100% unrecruitable otherwise; Aragorn gets the Grey Company (melee infantry armed with a variety of weapons), Saruman has the Guard of the Hand (shielded crossbow/mace infantry), Elrond gets Gil-galad's Company (shielded bow/sword infantry), Balin has (of course) Balin's Guard (hammer-and-shield infantry), and Sauron (should Mordor manage to recover the Ring) is protected by shield-and-mace pseudo-wraiths, who are yet to get a name.
  • Stone Wall: Though this applies to several spear units with high defense but relatively low attack, perhaps the epitome of this trope in the early game are Bree's sword-and-shield Merchant units, who have even better armor than most late game mainline troops, but a pathetically low attack (they also have zero defense skill, making them particularly vulnerable to armor-piercing units).
  • Tech Tree: In general, the Dwarves, High Elves, and Númenóreans have the most extensive upgrade options, while the Wild Men have the most restricted (though the latter do get the benefit of being able to recruit all their units from just one building line). Additionally, Bree has a particularly unique recruitment method; most of their units require various economy buildings instead of the standard Barracks/Stables/etc. Also, like in vanilla Third Age, more elite units can not be recruited until the automated Barracks Event script kicks in.
  • Treants: Ents can be recruited from Isengard by the Silven Elf factions, and are just as powerful as you'd expect. Also, they've been changed so that the game's engine counts them as infantry instead of elephants, meaning that, among other things, they're far less likely to cause a crash.
  • Wutai: In the earliest versions of DaC, Khand's unit designs had a lot of Chinese and Japanese elements, with the default bodyguard straight up looking like samurai. However, V2 gave their roster a drastic redesign that eliminated most of the Wutai elements in favor of a more uniformly "Central Asian" aesthetic; nowadays, the only remaining Japanese/Chinese elements are the small banners worn on the backs of most Khandish units and the wuxia-inspired look of the Variag Nobles.
  • Zerg Rush: Orc and Wild Men factions are very much built around the principle of drowning your foes in a sea of disposable bodies. This tactic usually works, but not unless that tide is going through a canal/chokepoint directly into a wall of pikes/swords/axes/arrows/horseis/pain and suffering. A.K.A Elite Units


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