Of all the creatures of Middle-earth, none possess the grace, cunning, and deadly accuracy of the nimble Elves. Their enchanted lairs in Ereborn, Lórien, and deep within the Mirkwood forest are legendary, and their collective feats, amassed over centuries-long lifetimes, and unparalleled. In The Battle for Middle-earth II, no victory for the forces of good can be won without their assistance. For the forces of evil, there is much to fear when battling their ranks.
The Elves are the finesse faction in The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II. They are exemplified by speed, stealth, range, and damage dispensing capabilities. They are, however, relatively fragile. Their relatively low hit points and weak armor suggest that they won't last long in a straight fight. Your best bet with the Elves is to harass, ambush, and generally keep on the move and on the offensive. When commanded properly, Elves can dominate the field. Just remember to bring some Ents when you're ready to finish off the enemy.
The films show a much greater variety of Elven characters than they do Dwarven ones. Consequently, designing the look of our Elven faction was comparatively easier.
Rivendell sits in a valley not far from the east road, the main route through northern Middle-earth. Very often Elven riders make the journey from their home near the Misty Mountains to the coastal port of Mithlond, otherwise known as the Grey Havens. These riders are rare among the Elves, for Elves do not often walk openly among the societies of Men. Any craft an Elf learns in times of peace can be readily turned into an art of war when necessary. As such, the Rivendell Lancers are extremely skilled with light armor and sharp spear from horseback. Elves are able to speak to their horses as well, so they have proficiency when mounted that is approached only by the horse masters of Rohan.
The Rivendell Lancers are light cavalry with excellent speed and vision. They're best used for scouting, hit-and-run missions, and for flanking enemy archers. Their speed comes at a cost, though. These units are lightly armored and will be taken down easily by heavy infantry and pikemen.
Cavalry units like the Rivendell Lancers always work well in our games. While they're still human-scale units, the addition of the horse just gives our modelers more surface area to work with. For these units we took the curved and leafy visual themes which defined the Elves in the film trilogy and applied the same look to horsemen.
Mithlond— or the Grey Havens—is the port city of the Elves. It is here that they craft their boats in order to make their exodus into the west after many centuries in Middle-earth. Mithlond is one of the few Elven cities that is unprotected by dense forests or high mountains. This vulnerability requires that many well-armed soldiers maintain a vigilant watch over the surrounding territory. When the city is besieged, it is the Mithlond Sentries that form the first line of defense. Armed with long pikes and heavy armor, they can hold their own against any foe.
Mithlond Sentries are light pikemen with an aptitude for taking down cavalry and dreaded attack trolls. They are most effective when paired with the powerful Elven Archer units. Although Mithlond Sentries aren't the most powerful pikemen in the game, their ability to get to the front quickly and react rapidly to enemy cavalry make them a must have for any Elven player.
Visually, the Mithlond Sentries are probably my favorite Elven unit. I really like the visual difference between the standard and upgraded versions—it's kind of like two pikemen in one.
Lothlórien lies near the heart of Middle-earth. Its borders are constantly threatened by Goblins, Wargs, and Uruk-hai. The dark fortress of Dol Guldur lies only a few miles away, while the east exit of Moria presses close on the other. Lórien Warriors maintain a constant watch on the rivers that enfold their sacred wood. When The Fellowship fled Moria and sought protection in Lothlórien, it was the Lórien Warriors who ambushed the horde of Goblins that followed them out. Lórien Warriors are typical of Elven soldiers throughout Middle-earth. Some of their numbers were even present at The Battle of the Last Alliance, where Isildur cut The One Ring from Sauron's hand.
Standard Elven soldiers, the high speed and damage output of the Lórien Warrior is somewhat offset by the fact that he is equipped with relatively light armor. Like most Elven units they're best used as harasser units or when supported by Elven Archer units.
The Lórien Warriors' uniforms come directly from the scene where we first meet Haldir and his troops in the first movie. We have great photo references from all three installments of the film trilogy, so getting accurate pictures to work from is generally not a problem.
The Elves of Lórien do not all take up sword and shield when battle comes. Lórien Archers are an example of the Elves' natural propensity for using arrows in combat. Many of them use finely crafted bows in order to ambush their enemies from the trees. When The Fellowship entered Lórien, the Elf captain Haldir and a band of Lórien Archers stopped them at the border before guiding them to Galadriel. Prior to the battle of Helm's Deep, a small contingent of Lórien Archers and Lórien Warriors arrived to aid Aragorn and Theoden in its defense.
Lórien Archers are fast, light-armored, long-ranged archer units straight from Lórien. Their acumen with a bow allows them to deal swift death from afar. Although they are extremely vulnerable to enemy cavalry, their speed and damage capabilities more than make up for it. Lórien Archers should form the backbone of any Elven army.
Initially the Lórien Archers and Lórien Warriors were identical-looking but for their weapons. Ultimately, we needed to more easily identify who was who, so the Lórien Archers got a makeover which changed their hair from blonde to brown and their uniforms from gray to blue.
Mirkwood was once a peaceful forest and home to the Wood Elves. When Sauron's influence corrupted the wood, hard times fell upon the wood folk. Instead of wandering the shadowy and serene paths, they found themselves in a desperate struggle for survival against corrupted creatures such as spiders, Wargs and Goblins. There are no Elves that are as stealthy and accurate with bow and arrow as the Mirkwood Archers. Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, is a shining example of their archery. During The War of the Ring, the Mirkwood Archers battled thousands of Orcs for control of Mirkwood. Eventually the Wood Elves, lead by Thranduil, joined the Elves of Lórien in the destruction of Dol Guldur.
The most elite archers of Middle-earth, the Mirkwood Archers more than make up for their small numbers with their unmatched range, speed, damage, and stealth capabilities. When upgraded with enchanted Silverthorne arrows, these archers become the ultimate force on the battlefield.
As Legolas is from Mirkwood, the Mirkwood Archer uniforms were based entirely on his outfit, incorporating the same palette of green, gray, and brown earth tones.
Glorfindel is one of the oldest and most powerful of Elven warriors. Glorfindel was so powerful, in fact, that he was able to ride openly against the Black Riders, as he did when he aided in the rescue of Frodo. Glorfindel serves as the Elven equivalent of a knight, riding with silver armor and wielding an ancient sword. Although unmatched as a rider, he is nevertheless equally at home on foot in a pitched battle. He was present at Rivendell during the Council of Elrond, but he was sent on a series of tasks for Rivendell rather than being asked to join The Fellowship.
A powerful Elven warrior, Glorfindel's speed and power—mounted or on foot—makes him powerful force in battle. His Wind Rider ability makes him the fastest unit on the battlefield.
Glorfindel's design was originally conceived by Warren Fu, an artist whom I met years ago when we were both at Industrial Light and Magic. Over time, we've really gotten in sync creatively, so Glorfindel's look came together quickly and easily, and with minimal revisions. Glorfindel is based on the descriptions from Tolkein's fiction, combined with some visual descriptions of the Elves' armor at The Battle of the Last Alliance.
When The Fellowship reached the borders of Lórien they were met by Haldir, Captain of the Lórien Guardians. At first Haldir denied The Fellowship entry, but eventually Aragorn was able to convince him to grant his company an audience with Galadriel. Haldir lead the defense against the Goblins which spilled out of the mines of Moria in pursuit of The Fellowship. Prior to the battle of Helm's Deep Haldir lead a contingent of archers and warriors to help hold the stronghold against the forces of Isengard. Haldir was slain at Helm's Deep shortly after the Deeping Wall was breached by Orc fire.
Swift, powerful, and versatile, Haldir is an Elven hero that can switch between ranged and melee attacks. Haldir, as well, provides a leadership to nearby troops. His Golden Arrow ability is just the thing you need when encountering a fearsome Dragon or Nazgul.
Haldir's cape really defines him at game height. We purposefully textured it in a really vibrant shade of red for that reason.
Arwen Evenstar, daughter of Elrond, was among Middle-earth's most beautiful creatures. She developed her ability to heal from her father, and aided in Frodo's recovery after he was wounded by a Morgul blade. Like many of the Elves of Rivendell, she is a remarkable rider. When Aragorn finally took the throne of Gondor it was Arwen who became Queen of that land, after having long waited for him to fulfill his destiny.
Arwen may not be the most powerful warrior in Middle-earth, but her Athelas and Flood abilities make her an invaluable support hero.
Liv Tyler wears a number of outfits in the film trilogy, but only this dark gray one that we sourced from The Fellowship of the Ring seemed appropriate for combat.
The chief architect of the plan to defeat The Dark Lord Sauron, Elrond was a driving force in the victory of the free peoples of Middle-earth. Elrond knew all too well the power of The One Ring, as he was present at The Battle of the Last Alliance when it was cut from Sauron's hand. He was also present when Isildur failed to throw it into the fires of Mount Doom. Elrond's ability to see the unseen tides of fate and his skill at healing are legendary, but it was his influence in aiding Aragorn that ultimately helped destroy Sauron. Once Aragorn ascended to the throne of Gondor, Elrond and his people sailed west, never again to return to Middle-earth.
Elrond is the ultimate support hero. With his Athelas, Leadership, Farsight, Whirlwind, and Restoration abilities, a Level 10 Elrond can quickly turn the tide of battle against even the most overwhelming forces.
Elrond's armor from The Battle of the Last Alliance was the logical choice for his attire in the game. He's not nearly as intimidating in his civilian robe and tiara.
The powerful archer Legolas was a member of The Fellowship of the Ring. Time and again his skill with bow and arrow proved vital to their survival. His excellent sight and tireless nature served to help Aragorn track Merry and Pippin as the Uruk-hai carried them to Isengard. As Prince of Mirkwood he had no love for Dwarves, but many months in the company of Gimli turned him from his bitter enmity. By the end of The Third Age, Gimli and Legolas were lifetime friends, and eventually it was Legolas who brought Gimli across the sea to the west.
Legolas is one of the most powerful archers in Middle-earth; rivaled only by his father Thranduil. He is an all-around excellent hero with no noticeable weakness.
What can I say about Legolas that hasn't already been said? He's the man.
Thranduil is the epitome of the secretive and dangerous Wood Elves. His kingdom of Mirkwood has been under siege for many centuries by all manner of enemy, and his patience has long since run out. For this reason he is considered to be no friend of Dwarves or Men. Countless years in the dark forests have made Thranduil utterly undetectable when he does not wish to be seen, and no archer in all of Middle-earth can approach him in deadly accuracy. His insular nature prevented him from attending the Council of Elrond, but he sent his son Legolas in his place. At the end of The Third Age Thranduil reaped his revenge upon the minions of Mordor by forcing their army back to Dol Guldur, where Galadriel shattered the tower once and for all.
Thranduil is, without a doubt, the deadliest archer in Middle-earth. As if his ability to shoot and move while invisible weren't enough; his Deadeye and Thorne of Vengeance special powers allow him to stealthily annihilate any enemy foolish or unlucky enough to get within his incredible range. When you just can't seem to finish off that pesky Dragon, bring in Thranduil and watch him turn that dreaded flying creature into a pretty fireworks show.
Thuranduil's look was derived from that of his son Legolas. He's essentially an older, burlier, more armored version of his offspring.
Galadriel is the queen of Elves in the golden woods of Lothlórien. She is known throughout Middle-earth as a powerful witch with the ability to see the future and wield great magic. When Sauron helped create the original rings of Middle-earth she became a ring-bearer of one of the three Elven rings. When the Fellowship fled Moria they sought refuge in Lothlórien, and received gifts from Galadriel to aid them in their journey. During their stay Frodo offered the One Ring to Galadriel, who demonstrated the power she might wield with the One Ring in her grasp, before she ultimately refused to carry it. Near the end of the War of the Ring she set forth with the Elves of Lórien to attack Dol Goldur, aided by the elves of Mirkwood. At the end of that battle Galadriel laid bare the pits of Dol Goldur with her incredible magic, shattering the necromancer's tower once and for all.
Galadriel can only be summoned by capturing the One Ring from Gollum during a match and bringing it back to your fortress. When summoned, Galadriel can quickly turn the tables with her devastating melee attack powers and raging Tornado spell. However, with great power comes a hefty price. She is a very expensive hero, and while she may be able to wipe your enemy's units clean before being vanquished, be certain you finish the job completely, and destroy your opponent's base for the ultimate attack combination. In a multiplayer or skirmish match, players will have the option to turn the One Ring heroes on or off.
Galadriel's tornado effects are something new for our game. It's great as a player when you fire off that spell and see your enemies go flying sky-high into the air.
Fangorn Forest, which lies between Isengard and Lothlórien, once covered thousands of miles of Middle-earth, even stretching as far as The Shire. Since then the forest has been chopped down, burned and cleared to the point where it covers only a small area at the southern point of the Misty Mountains. This dark and gnarled forest is home to the few remaining Ents, or large man-like trees. The Ents are tree-tenders, eternal caretakers of the dark forest. In recent years many of the Ents have gone to sleep, becoming barely conscious and dormant trees themselves. When Saruman began cutting away at the last remnants of Fangorn Forest to build his army, the Ents marched again - awakened by their rage. They stirred all of the trees of the forest, known as Huorns, into life, and set out to exact their revenge upon the White Wizard. The Huorns marched to Helm's Deep, ultimately sealing the fate of the Uruk-hai army retreating from their defeat in battle against Aragorn, Theoden, and Gandalf. The Ents themselves led by Treebeard, took siege of Orthanc and laid waste to the White Wizard's domain in Isengard.
When Merry and Pippin escaped from their Uruk-hai captors they fled into the cover of the nearby Fangorn Forest. They quickly became lost in the woods and stumbled across a frightening creature in the form of a tall tree that vaguely resembled an old man. He introduced himself as Treebeard, and took the Hobbits into his care. The Hobbits attempted to enlist Treebeard's aid in the War of the Ring, however, the Ents are not easily stirred into action. It was not until Treebeard discovered that his neighbor Saruman had betrayed him by chopping down his forest that Treebeard was able to muster the might of his fellow Ents. By the time the Ents were finished with their march they had torn down the walls of Isengard and captured Orthanc, trapping Saruman inside.
These massive walking trees are a force to reckon with on the battlefield. They are best used as a group and can be a fantastic fortress destroyer with their ability to launch massive boulders dug up from the ground. Ents are best used as the “catapults” for the Elves, becoming an extremely effective siege weapon. When up close, they can also swat enemies across the battlefield and thunderously stomp them in to the ground. Beware fire archers as Ents are easily susceptible to fire. The key to success with the Ents is to micromanage them within a defensive and attack range from your opponent, while troops protect them in front.
Treebeard and his fellow Ents return from our original game. I've always been really happy with how true the animation of these in-game units is to the film.More articles about The Battle for Middle-earth II