I use Gondor/Arnor in this widely anticipated release. It’s been 3 years in the making, and graciously received by a much starved community. 3.8.1 was playable, but imbalanced, and mechanically fractured. 4.0 on the other hand, is a largely polished product. There have been reports of gameplay glitches and one improperly balanced unit (Lindon Archers). In my opinion, skirmish gameplay has been challenging. I’ve discovered that economy is vital in this mod, as the numbers have proved out. My income was averaging 700 per minute, while the AI ripped off 1500 per minute on average. That’s more than twice mine. I clearly don’t have it figured out yet.
From what I understand, resources are gathered by houses and farms (primarily), then also by special buildings. I can’t figure out how the computer is able to generate such a gaudy income. I grab 2 – 4 farms, build more than 3 houses, and my income in my last game finally broke 1000, but I’m still 500 behind to at least break even, let alone assert my control. The game’s economic demands will lead to rapidly growing armies and huge population totals. I have yet to truly understand the intensity of troop creation required to be successful. The Easy AI gave in to my limited armies at some past dilly-dallying point late game. It was not honorable or well fought. So I changed it to Hard and lost three in a row in miserable fashion. I stepped down to Medium and still died but later in the game than on Hard. Medium still badly out resourced me. I have much to learn.
Gameplay is awesome, once you understand the mechanics of the unit and building leveling system. Buildings are of two kinds: structures that have a built-in upgrade research option, or level by gaining experience. Buildings that produce units receive experience for doing so, and the more they produce the faster they level. It’s brilliant. The quicker your economy moves, the faster you can build units and buy upgrades, which makes your buildings level up, giving you access to better units. The battle is rapidly escalated. Farms can be upgraded to increase their population cap bonus. So can houses. Victory is achieved through numbers and upgrades.
Gondor/Arnor has been entertaining. I have yet to comprehend the usefulness of Rangers, until they get those flaming arrows. I have yet to build deep into the unit tree because I die before I can get very far. The outpost options for Gondor/Arnor are pretty cool. As Gondor you can align with Dol Amroth, and with the Elves as Arnor. I imagine they probably are working on a patch right now.
So the lesson I’ve learned so far has to be that income is everything. And 1500 a minute is a good place to start. I have yet to explore any other faction, even though Mordor and Isengard are two of my favorites. I wonder if Mordor still has free orcs? Probably not.
Gameplay might seem a bit spammy, but battles in this universe should be on an epic scale. This is Lord of the Rings dude.
The demo includes 4 factions: Rohan, Gondor/Arnor, Mordor and Isengard. The Gondor/Arnor thing is dependent on the map you chose in skirmish mode. If the map was in the old kingdom of Arnor, then you would play them. I believe they have exactly the same tech tree as Gondor, because they should be considered one faction, and a map should not be able to change the tech tree of a faction. Rohan I am least interested in. They seem fine, but cavalry can bore me at times. I should get over that and give them a skirmish. This mod looks great, and runs smoothly. The mechanics take some practice, but I’m sure I will get it figured out.
In conclusion, a great mod. Epic and proud of it. Very polished and special.
The question is rapidly becoming how can I get my economy cranking? 1000 a minute hasn’t caused any victories. I’m hearing from the other players that the AI is indeed quite challenging. I’ve not heard anyone boasting about beating a Hard yet. I think I have a good idea about what I need to do. And rapid expansion is also necessary. You must establish ownership of 50% of the nodes or be permanently overtaken. I have endeavored to do this in each of my games, but was largely relegated to defending my base. They then moved in and it was over. So more powerful troops and more of them, faster than before.