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"Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again."
Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings, Book I Chapter 2 "The Shadow of the Past"

The Fourth Age: Total War is a full-conversion modification of Rome: Total War which works with Barbarian Invasion. It is is set in the Fourth Age of Middle-earth and aims to stay true to the lore and writings of J. R. R. Tolkien while trying to provide an original experience by imagining what Middle-earth would have been like in a total war setting. This means that the setting is based off the books and not the films. As is the standard for any Total War game, you get to pick from a number of factions and decide how things play out, mixing real time strategy with city and faction management and throwing in doses of religion, wonders of the world and family characters to increase the depth.

The current version of the mod is known as The Dominion of Men, the sequel to version 2.6 "The New Shadow". It is based off Tolkien's unfinished manuscript (of the same name) for a sequel to The Lord of the Rings where Eldarion, the son of Aragorn Elessar and king of the Reunited Kingdom, has to deal with his people turning to evil practices in the lands of Gondor. However Tolkien abandoned this after only a few pages without providing additional backstory or characters. A case of justified Gameplay and Story Segregation changes a few of the ideas that were in the unfinished tale due to the developers using their imaginations, this manages to create a realistic and true setting within Tolkien's work. In this setting the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor has become badly weakened by political strife amongst Aragorn's descendants, resulting in half the kingdom splintering and forming the Kingdom of Adûnabâr in Mordor, Angmar and Ithilien, with rumors that a dark cult is behind this civil war. Not only has relations between Rohan and the Reunited Kingdom become strained, but thanks to said strife several emergent factions of men have risen up, and the Chiefdoms of Dunland, Rhûn and the Empire of Harad have gone on the offensive.

It has proven to be a popular and well received, if perhaps an underrated mod. The developers have been working on this since Rome's release back in 2004 and their insistence of fully researching the setting and game engine as well as releasing it in complete yet playable portions, rather then simply releasing a buggy and unfinished mod of the game. Another fact is that it is a very faithful recreation of the world it is set in, being filled to the brim with lore and references to all of Tolkien's works to make it as immersive and true to the High Fantasy setting it is in. As this based off a High Fantasy work where a lot of fantasy elements are removed a mixture of fantasy and realism tropes are present.

It can currently be found here.

The mod is on Version 3.4, and is considered to be complete. This means that all of Middle-earth is now unlocked and playable in both custom battles and the campaign. The development team is now working on Wainriders, another standalone mod largely built on the foundations established by the Dominion of Men. It will feature fully overhauled factions, an updated campaign map, and new mechanics and gameplay systems all designed to effectively transport the setting of the main campaign to T.A. 1864 as well as it can be realised in Rome: Total War: Alexander.

The Fourth Age: Total War provides examples of:

  • Absent Aliens: Downplayed, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits and Orcs/Trolls are all present in varying degrees but not to a huge amount due to the setting. The first two start off as purely elven and dwarven forces, however the more you expand, the more you need Mannish forces to protect your lands, especially as you can only recruit Men outside of your homelands. Plus there is a game mechanic allowing you to settle Men in your homelands themselves, potentially allowing you to play this trope straight.
    • The Elves are sailing into the west and the ones left are very few, and the population of their homelands grows extremely slowly if at all. So your armies are likely going to consist of mostly Elvellyn forces.
    • The Dwarves are more numerous but not by much, while you can grow the population you'll still need Hirelings to make up for your small unit sizes and to fill in weakness like cavalry and ranged troops.
    • Hobbits are not playable in campaign and are limited to the Shire, not to mention it's been made so they'll leave you alone and the AI will leave them alone too, like in the books.
    • Orcs, Trolls and Wargs start out being based in several abandoned outposts in the Misty Mountains and the Grey Mountains, meaning you'll need to take them out if you want those forts, even then you need to control them long enough to cleanse them of the pits, otherwise they won't respawn. Adûnabâr and Dunland are able to recruit and breed them however should you turn to the Shadow Cult.
  • All There in the Manual: The manual being the Middle-earth legendarium itself, even abandoned writings!
  • Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed with most Northmen factions, with the exception of Rohan. In the Third Age they were firmly on the side of good; in the Fourth Age, their motives have become a lot greyer: they aren't really interested in fighting the Shadow Cult and more concerned with expanding and strengthening their empire, and don't care about whom they have to step on to achieve this goal. This is especially pronounced with Dale, who need to conquer the fellow Northmen of Rhovanion and Dorwinion to finish the campaign, and the Beornings, who have to backstab Dale (their ally) to fulfil their victory conditions, and are very aggressive against the Elves if you are playing as them.
  • Adaptation Deviation: Tolkien stated that the Fourth Age was one of peace between men, with Eldarion ruling for several centuries (however this was after he abandoned the sequel).
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • As this is based off a story that was abandoned after a few pages, a lot of imagination has been needed to fill the gaps. Some of this is forced due to unmoddable elements of the game while others were made by choice.
    • Dorwinion, an area that is only referenced once or twice with a couple of brief lines in The Hobbit, was added as a full-fledged faction in Dominion of Men. Same also went for Tharbad, which only gets mentioned as a ruined town that Boromir crossed on his journey to Rivendell and only gets additional information in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth.
  • Artificial Stupidity: A limit of the Total War engine means AI factions are quite happy to declare war on you and won't sue for peace. Annoying when playing as Rohan and the Reunited Kingdom declare war on you. The alliance system is planned to be fixed in Dominion of Men.
  • Balkanize Me: No less than three secesssionist movements have succeeded in the Reunited Kingdom, creating the Kingdom of Adûnabâr, the City-kingdom of Tharbad and the Principality of Harondor.
  • Beast of Battle: The War Hounds of Dunland are bred hounds with wolf blood. They are ferocious, unrelenting and can cause fear, but a disciplined force can dispatch them without much difficulty.
  • BFS: Southron Champions wield great curved blades, which even the strongest among other Men would struggle to use.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Adûnabâr gets its name derived from Adûnaic, a language invented by Tolkien, with adûn meaning west and abâr meaning strength.
  • Binding Ancient Treaty: There are two: one between the Reunited Kingdom and Rohan, the other between Dale and the Dwarves. These two alliances are very secure and will never be broken unless if the player plays one of these four factions and decides to attack their partner.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Subverted. If not taking into account the always-good Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits, outside of the Obviously Evil Shadow Cult, all Mannish factions follow either the Ways of the West or the Ways of Darkness, but this is no longer very indicative of good or evil like how it used to be during the Second and Third Ages. The motifs of the supposedly 'evil' Darkness or 'good' West factions are no longer serving or fighting against Sauron, but have become a lot greyer, usually focusing on expanding their empire and fighting against their enemies. Indeed, for half of the Mannish factions (Adûnabâr if following the West, Dale, Beornings, Rhûn, Khand, Harad, Far Harad and Harondor if following Darkness), it is necessary to fight a faction of the same alignment as you since their starting territories are on your list of victory conditions.
  • Black Knight: Clad in heavy armour inscribed with the Shadow Cult's script and symbols, Knights of the Dark Tree dominate the battlefield.
  • Cain and Abel: The House of Telcontar, ruling house of the Reunited Kingdom, is the Abel to the Cain of the House of Adûnakhôr, the ruling house of Adûnabâr, who was founded by a son of Eldarion who fell under the influence of the Shadow Cult, rebelled against his brother and formed the Kingdom of Adûnabâr after their father's death.
  • Cannon Fodder: The lesser Orc units are just as numerous as, and cheaper than, peasants from Rome: Total War and you can make a staggering 9 units of them in one turn if you have enough population, which is heavily boosted by the Orc pits that breed them. On the other hand, they are no match for even low-tier Mannish soldiers, and while they can be useful in flanking or against weakened or demoralised foes, they will not win your battles for you.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Reunited Kingdom: Elitist/Generalist - The Reunited Kingdom has a low population growth compared to other Mannish factions. Their units tend to be rather small in terms of size, especially cavalry, and have powerful stats, making them the most elf- or dwarf-like of all Mannish factions.
    • Adûnabâr: Balanced/Brute (if following the Cult), Elitist/Generalist (if following the West) - For Adûnabâr, choosing to follow the West or the Cult will change their entire roster. Cultic Adûnabâr can employ orcs, wargs, trolls and Cultists – who are mostly heavy infantry, with archers or cavalry like Knights of the Dark Tree being powerful but few in number. Turning to the Ways of the West replaces the aforementioned units with a Dúnedain roster that resembles the Reunited Kingdom's.
    • Tharbad: Generalist/Economist - Tharbad's unit roster mirrors its cultural diversity, with a core of Dúnedain infantry, rounded out by troops specialising in other fighting styles: Gondorian ballistae, Dunlending pikemen, indigenous axemen and Rohirrim horsemen. With this flexibility, Tharbad can train forces to meet almost any threat. Tharbad stands to profit by remaining neutral and trading with everyone it can. Focusing on wealth in the early years will allow them to afford a standing army that can take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
    • Dale: Balanced/Generalist/Economist - Their roster is the most well-rounded of the Northmen cultural group, centred around archers and a variety of other infantry. Dale can make good use of other Northmen factions' units, including Dorwinion halberdiers, Rhovanion skirmishers and lancers, and Rohirrim medium cavalry as well as horse-archers. Their expanded levy system also allows for a wide range of non-Northmen units to be recruited in the appropriate regions. In addition Dale can grow very rich off the river trade that passes along the kingdom.
    • Rohan: Balanced/Brute - Rohan has the most diverse cavalry roster of all factions. Their infantry is solid, but less versatile than most of their neighbours'. Their main strength lies in the cavalry, which is very dangerous at all but the longest ranges, and especially powerful when charging the enemy.
    • Rhovanion: Guerrilla - Rhovanion's troops are not built for taking punishment. Have them fight enemies man-to-man and you'll lose, or at best win a pyrrhic victory. They have to rely upon stealth, sudden uprising, and hit-and-run tactics. The “Wilderman” bloodline prevalent in their family members reflects this, granting bonuses to campaign movement speed and cavalry command. In battles, Rhovanion units will want to wear down their opponents at range, skirmish to tire them out, spring tactical ambushes, and master the hit-and-run cavalry charge.
    • Dorwinion: Economist/Unit Specialist - Dorwinion's territory benefits from fertile farmland and vineyards. They have limited cavalry and their units tend to be defensive in nature, often favouring polearms.
    • Beornings: Brute/Guerrilla - Beornings are well-suited to defending the uneven, wooded terrain of their homeland, and ambushing in general but less used to open war upon the battlefield. Though not great in number, the Beornings are hardy, physically strong and have good morale. But more than any other faction, the Beornings rely upon psychological warfare. The big, scary Beornings can take apart the enemy’s best troops, sow fear through the army and rout a technically superior force.
    • Rhûn: Spammer/Generalist - The great strength of Rhûn is its large and varied troop roster. There are wild Easterling infantry and dependable riders as a core of the faction, but depending on how you expand you may also recruit Khandish horse archers, fierce axemen from the north, or even bloodthirsty Cultists. Capable of amassing hordes, their numbers only exceeded by the Haradrim.
    • Khand: Balanced/Ranger - Khand is the designated horse archer faction of Dominion of Men. Their armies are drawn from three subcultures: Khandish nobles, Variags and steppe nomads, with the nomad horse archers forming the core of their army. And indeed a cavalry-only approach - where field armies are composed almost entirely of skilled horse archers, plus some melee cavalry - can be incredibly effective. The Variags also give Khand some flexibility on the battlefield - some staying power to complement the range and punch of the steppe outriders.
    • North Rhûn: Spammer/Brute - North Rhûn benefits from some strong infantry, especially axemen, but lacks ranged units and cavalry - essentially a more infantry-focused version of Rhûn. Overall, though, their units are typical of what you'd expect from a barbarian faction without access to great smiths or technology.
    • Harad: Spammer/Generalist - Harad enjoys perhaps the most diverse unit roster in the game. Harad combines Rhûn's numbers with Dale's missile power, and the Beornings' aptness for psychological warfare. Their cavalry roster is also very good and can almost compete with Khand's and Rohan's in terms of power and versatility. Many Haradrim units have terrain bonuses in deserts and their fighting style needs open spaces for manoeuvring. In addition to its native troops, including the mighty Mûmakil, Harad has the option of turning to the Shadow Cult for more durable melee fighters.
    • Far Harad: Generalist/Guerrilla - Far Harad units are, for the most part, similar to Harad's; unlike Harad, Far Harad can't afford to produce them en masse. Since their unique elite units cause fear, they want to resort to fast attacks, charging in, dealing some damage, and then pulling back to charge again. On the battle map, they should hit enemy settlements before they can be built up, do as much damage as possible, and then withdraw.
    • Harondor: Ranger/Guerrilla - Harondor has access to mostly Haradrim troops, with a strong presence of skirmishers and some heavier-armed swordsmen. Key to victory as Harondor is good use of skirmishers, both mounted and foot, though you also have the ability to train some stronger infantry types.
    • Dunland: Spammer/Generalist/Technical - Dunland benefits from the high population growth common to barbarian factions, meaning they can recruit more or less constantly – which they'll need to since their troops often die in alarming numbers. Dunlendings are poorly armed and armoured, but they are versatile, cheap, plentiful and offer some great abilities (throwing spears, anti-cavalry, fear, armour piercing). Converting to the Cult locks out some of the higher-tier Dunlending native units but replaces them with Cultist heavy infantry as well as orcs, trolls and wargs.
    • Dwarves: Elitist/Brute/Economist/Loyal/Generalist - Dwarven units are rare and low in number, due to the low population in their Homelands (which is the only place they can ever be trained) as well as their high cost, and consist mostly of heavy infantry. They also do not suffer from revolts, have excellent morale and armour, and start with hoards that may be sold to significantly boost their treasuries. And outside their homelands, the Dwarves may train a wide variety of Mannish allies, called Hirelings, who give their Dwarven paymasters incredible diversity.
    • Elves: Elitist/Ranger/Guerrilla/Loyal/Generalist - The Elves are few in relation to other factions, even fewer than the Dwarves, and suffer from severe population problems as more and more of them leave for Valinor. However, they also have the finest and stealthiest troops in Middle-earth (especially archers) and never suffer from revolts like the Dwarves. Similar to the Dwarves, outside their lands an Elven leader cannot train Elves but can recruit various Elvellyn soldiers, who, though weaker than Elves, will help round out the numbers in an Elven army, therefore mitigating a population drain in the Elven homelands.
  • Crutch Character: Glorfindel for the Elves. He commands a unique unit of Noldor Riders – the finest cavalry in Middle-earth, and is also accompanied by a separate unit of Noldor Swords. These two units can each take on incredible odds by themselves (the Noldor Riders in particular can single-handily slaughter armies of thousands and take zero to few casualties doing so); add a few starting Mithlond units such as Elven Bows, Lindon Guards, and Mariners, rally some Mannish mercenaries in the field, and you’ll have a tiny army capable of destroying just about anything in its path. Since Glorfindel’s time is limited (if not killed in battle, he'll eventually pass into the West, taking the Riders with him), you’ll need to use him well.
  • Death or Glory Attack: Beorning units have little staying power, but all cause fear and put out a pretty respectable amount of pain in melee. Beorning battles tend to be very 'swingy': either an absolute disaster where you lose most of your army, or you're able to spark a mass rout early on and run down the majority of the enemy while they're fleeing, leading to crushing victories where you lose less than a hundred men.
  • The Dragon: The leader of Adûnabâr is this to Herumor.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Herumor, the former Mouth of Sauron, has replaced his dead master as the new Dark Lord and Big Bad of the story.
  • Dying Race: This is taken further from The Lord of the Rings:
    • The Elves now number a few thousand at most as they sail west. The centre of their culture is now Thranduil's realm in Eryn Lasgalen, that and Mithlond are the only places you'll likely be able to recruit Elven troops. Most of their other settlements are likely to be replaced with a Mannish population over time.
    • The Dwarves downplay this. They have reclaimed most of their ancestral homes and even established a settlement in the Ered Rhûn, but they still need Mannish hirelings to complement their numbers due to their slow population growth.
  • Early Game Hell:
    • Harondor starts sandwiched between Harad and Adûnabâr, with its next-nearest neighbour being the Reunited Kingdom across the mouths of the Anduin. Put plainly, this four-province faction begins play surrounded by the three largest factions on the map, with no nearby rebel-held provinces for easy picking.
    • Far Harad is one of the smallest factions in Dominion of Men, starting with only 3 settlements. These towns are some distance from each other and vulnerable to attack from large and aggressive foes, almost from the very start. There are no rivers, mountains, or even notable hills, and Adabbara—the town most exposed to attack—doesn't even have walls. Like Harondor, Far Harad will find enemies quickly: both Harad and Khand will be quick to attack.
    • North Rhûn also starts out with only 3 settlements and can’t afford the luxury of snapping up a rebel settlement here and doing some building there before a major assault. They begin the campaign already at war with Dale, and in the very next turn the (thankfully passive) Dwarves will join their ally to declare war as well. Dorwinion will attack as soon as they think they can capture one of North Rhûn's towns. And as soon as the eastern rebel settlements are conquered—if not before—Rhûn will send an invasion north as well. In short, from turn one every single faction that can attack North Rhûn soon will, and the only way to avoid being stomped is to push back fast and hard.
  • Easter Egg: In The New Shadow, Rohan got a unit of Dwarves in Aglarond, the settlement founded by Gimli after the War of the Ring, and the Reunited Kingdom got a unit of Elves due to the settlement founded by Legolas in Ithilien. These two were removed once Dominion of Men was released, due to the addition of the Elves and Dwarves as full-fledged factions.
  • Elite Army: You hardly ever have more than a few Elven units in the same army, but those Elves can, more often than not, handle 10-to-1 odds. Even the basic Threshold Troops are superior to many Mannish warriors. Enemies can and will throw plenty of bodies at the Elves, but they can (and often have to) withstand such battering and hold the field with few losses of their own.
  • Evil Pays Better: In Adûnabâr's case then yes, if you decide to worship the Shadow you get to breed all manner of evilness, in part due to it being harder to play nice as them. However butchering settlements when playing as Rohan or the Reunited Kingdom applies negative traits such as 'Orc Like' which will handicap your influence.
  • Elves Versus Dwarves: Played straight as this is a Total War game, you can have them fight in custom battles. In the campaign they don't attack each other.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: It happened centuries before in The Lord of the Rings appendices: they have either died or sailed west in that time.
  • Foreshadowing: The page quote; note that this is an unofficial sequel, sadly.
  • Functional Magic: Magic use was already quite subtle by the time of Lord of the Rings and is pushed even more into the background here. Not only is this down to the limitations of the game engine, but it is justified in-universe due to the magic going away and Middle-earth becoming the modern day world. Magic here is pretty much the source of superstition and rumour, much like in Real Life, but if you look closely you can see where it's implied to have been used. Black Magic, White Magic, Nature Magic and Mentalism are implied in some traits and ancillaries.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Justified because of the limits of the Rome engine and several elements unmoddable due to hard coding, there has been a few allowances made, such as:
    • Characters of Dúnadan (Númenórean) descent age and die the same as lesser men, meaning you are lucky to get them living past 80. This is due to age having an upper limit of 125 before it resets.
    • Tolkien's unfinished manuscript only mentioned a dark cult was rising rather than it being a full blown faction. Justifiable due to the limits of the game engine.
  • Ghost City:
    • The city of Osgiliath, former capital of Gondor, was abandoned during the Third Age and cannot be resettled, since the game treats it as a wonder, not an actual city.
    • The Dwarven colony of Aglarond in Hornburg, founded by Gimli after the end of The Lord of the Rings, was abandoned after he left Middle-earth, as the Dwarves grew fewer and withdrew to their ancestral halls.
    • The ruins of Ost-in-Edhil, the former Elven city in Eregion, is treated as a settlement in this game, and can be rebuilt by an Elf-lord of great power and foresight.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Despite every faction being aligned either to the Ways of the West or the Ways of Darkness, the good/evil distinction doesn't quite apply in the Fourth Age, which is rather 'grey', so to speak. Followers of 'Darkness' in Dominion of Men are not necessarily evil, but they are technically ignorant of the Ways of the West. These people have their own traditions, some of which are strongly opposed to the Ways of the West, but these traditions are not themselves warped by an intelligent evil force, per se. The closest thing in the mod to a completely evil faction is a full-on Cult-aligned Adûnabâr.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Magic is almost completely gone, only elements such as the last Palantír remain as hints of what once was. This is due to how Tolkien envisioned Middle-earth gradually becoming the modern world and this is continued in the game. The Fourth Age is the Dominion of Men where most fantasy elements were disappearing, the Elves sailed into the West with the Wizards and the Ring-bearers, taking the Three Elven Rings with them. The Balrogs and Nazgûl are destroyed, the Dwarves and Ents slowly declined and kept to themselves and Hobbits kept to themselves while under the protection of the Reunited Kingdom.
  • History Repeats: The rebellion of Adûnabâr is strikingly similar to how, in The Silmarillion, Sauron corrupted the Kingdom of Númenor to cause their downfall.
  • Hobbits: They show up as their own faction (the Shire), but in general play a very small role as they do not expand and only try to defend their starting provinces.
  • Hufflepuff House: Anyone with at least a passing knowledge of Tolkien's Legendarium can attest to the importance of Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits in the setting, but in FATW they have been reduced to this: unless if you're playing as them, they only try to defend their existing territory and in general play a very small role in the campaign compared to the Mannish factions.
  • Humans Are Divided: Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits are united under one faction each, and never suffer from rebellions. Men are present in all factions, and Mannish factions will spend most of their campaign fighting other Men (in fact, there's very little incentive for a Mannish faction to fight the Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits, with these races being out-of-the-way, passive, and their settlements being heavily defended and on the list of victory conditions of no one).
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Home in Time for Tea (Easy), Decidedly Tookish (Medium), Bullroaring (Hard) and LAUGHING AT LIVE DRAGONS (Very Hard).
  • Land of One City: The Tharbad state calls itself one (its full administrative name is City-kingdom of Tharbad), although its territories have expanded and, at the start of the campaign, encompasses the entire Greyflood river.
  • Long Runner: As stated, this mod has been in development for the best part of a decade! Rather than being Vapourware however, they have released the mod in parts over the years, and continue to post updates on their forum.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: The Elves and Dwarves have a number of distinguishing features and play rather differently from the 15 Mannish factions. Their starting and historical territories are designated as Elven or Dwarven homelands, have very slow population growth to reflect the Elves' emigration and the Dwarves' decline, yet are the only places where Elven and Dwarven units can be trained. Outside their homelands Elves and Dwarves cannot be recruited and they must rely on Mannish auxiliaries both to round out the numbers in the very elite Elven/Dwarven army and to fill in the holes in their roster. When it comes to developing their provinces, only Elves and Dwarves can develop all their provinces fully without having to dedicate each to a specific policy, but some buildings (like farms) are unavailable to them. If necessary, their provinces can be converted to Mannish, simulating the displacement of the native Elven/Dwarven population by Mannish settlers. It will disable the recruitment of native units, increase population growth, unlock certain buildings, capabilities and units that are available only with Mannish population and change the populace-related effects (loyalty to certain factions, cultural conversion, etc.). In addition, the Elves and Dwarves do not suffer from revolts (if AI-controlled) and can survive without family members.
  • Mithril: The Dwarves can mine mithril after reclaiming Moria, and any of their settlements with a Mithril Armoury can use it to upgrade their troops. If the Elves rebuild Ost-in-Edhil they can build their own armoury and trade with the Dwarves for the precious substance.
  • Mouth of Sauron: The Trope Namer has now shed this role for that of Big Bad and is now the real power behind Adûnabâr, with the King of that kingdom acting as the public face and this trope.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Aragorn of all people during the War of the Ring. When he met the Mouth of Sauron he let him live rather than kill him. The Mouth was able to escape the fall of Sauron and fled south where he plotted revenge. It's revealed that he returned after Aragorn's death now known as Herumor and has orchestrated the events which led to the Reunited Kingdom weakening, the corruption of the King's brother which lead to Adûnabâr's founding and the state of affairs in the world.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Zigzagged. The only unplayable faction is the Shire, which is less of a full-fledged faction and more of a mechanic to reflect its status as an autonomous region of the Reunited Kingdom.
  • Player-Exclusive Mechanic:
    • When playing as Adûnabâr, a human player can choose which way he wishes to take the Kingdom: toward a reborn, glorious Dúnedain realm, or into the darkness of the Shadow Cult. When Adûnabâr is AI-controlled, it will always follow the Cult.
    • The Elves or Dwarves can only expand or suffer from revolts when played by a human player. Otherwise, when controlled by the AI, they keep to themselves and never fight anyone else unless another faction trespasses on their territory. A Dwarven campaign also has three additional differences: Dale is more passive and will not attack you mid-game, Eodor is an independent settlement which you can use to get Hirelings quicker, and Dwarrowdelf (Moria) starts off controlled by Orcs and must be reclaimed (in a normal campaign, Eodor and Dwarrowdelf begin the game already controlled by Dale and the Dwarves).
  • Please Select New City Name:
    • Following the fall of Sauron and the reclamation of Minas Morgul, both it and its sister city Minas Tirith were renamed back to their original names of Minas Ithil and Minas Anor.
    • Cirith Ungol was renamed Cirith Dúath, now named after the Ephel Dúath mountain range instead of the spiders (ungol in Sindarin) who are no longer present.
  • Private Military Contractors: There are plenty of region specific mercenaries available for hire should you want them.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: The leaders of each faction have ancillaries to point out they are in charge.
  • Serial Escalation: Each new installment has added at least one new faction. Dominion of Men ups the ante by making a total of 18 factions playable!
  • Shout-Out: The mod itself is a big shout out to "The New Shadow," and there are several instances of lore and references to the other books everywhere you look.
  • Shown Their Work: Everywhere you look. Examples include:
    • In Dominion of Men, Elven and Dwarven units will only be recruitable from settlements populated by them, and the settlements will have population troubles. They are different species and taking over Mannish settlements doesn't mean you can suddenly make elven and dwarven troops. The population problems arise from the Elves sailing into the West and the Dwarves being in decline, while the unit issues arise from the fact that Elves and Dwarves are different species.
    • Each faction has different houses amongst its family members. The Reunited Kingdom, for example, has the houses of Galador, Telcontar, and Húrin, corresponding to the Princes of Dol Amroth, the line of the Kings of Númenor, and the Stewards of Gondor. Each has titles and ancillaries to go with their name.
  • The Remnant: The Elves, while still being in possession of the territory they had (sans Rivendell) at the end of the Third Age now only number a couple of thousand at most as the remaining people sail into the west. Even if you expand as them, you'll be needing loads of mannish allies to do so.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Oh my, Herumor could be seen like this. Think you can just get rid of him by letting him disappear when the King of Adûnabâr dies so it's easier to play a good faction? Think again, he just comes back next turn in your new king's ancillaries.
  • Vestigial Empire: During Aragorn's reign, the Reunited Kingdom once encompassed half of the known parts of Middle-earth, from Arnor to the north to Dunland, Gondor, the coast of Haradwaith up to Umbar in the south to southeastern Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûn in the east. After Eldarion's death, half of the Kingdom seceded and became the Kingdom of Adûnabâr; the Haradrim and corsairs seized Umbar and the rest of the coast up to Harondor, who declared independence along with the Dunlendings; the rest of the Reunited Kingdom's lands east of the Anduin is taken by the Easterlings; and the city of Tharbad also declares independence. As of the start of the campaign, what was left of the Kingdom is Gondor (minus Ithilien) and half of Arthedain.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: As with any Total War game, capturing a settlement means you have the choice to butcher the populace, not such a good idea if playing as Rohan or the Reunited Kingdom if a family member is in command. Adûnabâr plays this straight, as you can turn the kingdom to the New Shadow and then tear down your rival kingdom on the other side of the Anduin.
  • Walk into Mordor: Sauron might be long gone but now Adûnabâr have taken up residence there and fortified it. So you still can't simple stroll into the place...
  • War Elephants: Harad has access to Mûmakil that can do all the things you'd expect war elephants to do: trample, gore, and toss even elite soldiers to their deaths while the mahouts atop the howdah hurl javelins into the enemy far below.
  • Wham Episode: The early versions, while very detailed didn't really explain why Harad, Dunland and Rhûn were on the offensive. Then The New Shadow comes out and explains that a group called The Shadow Cult has been behind everything, and to make matters worse, the Reunited Kingdom has suddenly become split in two when one of Aragorns descendants rebels. Dominion of Men up the ante further. Adûnabâr has not only reached Eriador, but conquered Rivendell as well.
  • Zerg Rush: Orc champions and Uruks are low in quality, but still comparable to low-level Mannish soldiers, and their sheer numbers mean one-to-one fights are a rarity. The point of such troops (especially Uruk Berserkers) is to hurl themselves at the foe, frothing at the mouth, killing (and dying) in alarming numbers. With enough mirian and population (which can be provided by Orc breeding pits), you can just send out endless waves of these and overwhelm the other factions through sheer numbers.

Wainriders provides examples of:

  • Continuity Nod: The Gondor roster shares many units with that of the Reunited Kingdom in Dominion of Men, with some additions and omissions to represent a version of Gondor that is still ruled by the heirs of Anárion.
  • Hordes from the East: The titular Wainriders are a numerous and warlike confederacy of Easterling tribes who launched an invasion to the west, killed Narmacil II of Gondor in the Battle of the Plains and defeated his army less than a year prior to game start.