Greetings, companions of Edain!
For the holidays, we are excited to finally present to you the long-awaited Lothlorien spellbook! Some of you might be wondering why this spellbook took so much longer than the others. There are two reasons for that.
The first is that as we reworked it, we became aware of just how unhappy we were with the spellbook. It just didn't do enough to emphasize Lorien's unique nature. There was no spell that specifically rewarded you for playing an archer-heavy strategy and too few that allowed for clever plays. Lorien was always meant to be a faction that didn't win through brute strength or just amassing a huge army, but that had to play smart, divide its forces, catch the enemy in vulnerable positions and use hit and run tactics. With the new spellbook, we wanted to put a much stronger focus on these aspects.
The second reason is that as we developed the new spellbook, it became necessary to rework other aspects of the faction to fit. The most important of these you already know: We designed a new Galadriel alongside her new spellbook powers. The others, we will share with you during the course of this update. So let's get started!
According to our new spellbook blueprint, the left row of Lorien's spellbook focuses on defensive spells and long-term effects to outlast the enemy and beat him through lategame superiority. The right row is aimed at quickly dominating the battlefield and ending the game before the enemy can recover. Thus, on the left side, we have:
The river slows all enemies who cross it.
This spell may seem simple, but caused us quite a headache to get right! You see, we actually wanted it to be a river, not just a circular pool of water as before. However, to make it as user-friendly as possible, that river ideally should be able to even be laid around corners or other obstacles on the map.
Therefore, the spell first summons a small wellspring which you can click on to choose the end point for the river. The river will then automatically seek the shortest path between those two points to flow, slowing all enemies that pass through it. This allows you to hinder the enemy at vital choke points and get early warning when they pass through.
The river can't be destroyed, but will disappear after a while.
Veil of Mist
We liked that Lorien started off with a stealth spell, but didn't feel it was quite perfect yet: Lorien is meant to be a mobile faction, so why should the stealth be concentrated around a fixed area? Now, the units gain a speed boost and can move after being cloaked, only becoming visible once they attack.
The stealth is doubly important because all of Lorien's und Mirkwood's basic units now have a new ability called Wood-Elf Ambush - but they can only use it from stealth! Of course, they all retain the ability to hide near trees, but if there are none nearby, the Mist spell will do the job just as well!
When using the ambush, Lorien units gain +50% damage for a very brief duration, while Mirkwood units (including archers!) briefly knock down enemies with their attacks. Note that Galadhrim and Palace Guard do not have these abilities and can no longer hide in forests either due to their heavy armor. In turn, they are now more expensive and have more health. In essence, they count as being equipped with heavy armor from the start in terms of cost and stats, thus being the only Lorien units who can get this upgrade in any form.
These changes are meant to differentiate Lorien's light and heavy units and make the faction more skill-intensive to play. If you pull off some smart stealth maneuvers, you will be rewarded!
The Second Row
Refuge in the Woods
This rather unique spell basically turns any tree on the map into a well, allowing it to heal your units. This emphasizes both Lorien's connection to the forest as well as its hit and run nature. You can create sanctuaries to which you can retreat after attacking your foes, healing your units while they are cloaked by the trees.
This spell is now Lorien's primary method of healing: Their units no longer have Lembas bread at rank 2! We felt Lembas made healing too easy to get for Lorien and didn't require much skill. It has been replaced by the Wood-Elf Ambush ability, while this new spell takes over healing duties.
In the offensive row, we have an old favorite. However, we made a small tweak to the Arrow Volley: It now makes enemies more vulnerable to your archers on top of its own damage. We disliked that while the spell thematically emphasized Lorien's archery focus, it didn't actually do anything to help with archer strategies! Now, it does.
The Central Spell: Elven Wood
Creates a Heart Tree around which a forest grows that hides allies within.
After a while, it also lets them use Ambush of the Wood-Elves even when detected and reduces its cooldown.
The classic Elven Wood is Lorien's central spell, making Lorien one of the few factions to have an active central spell. However, the Wood has been thoroughly reworked. We wanted it to be less of a mindless power boost and add more interesting synergies instead.
The first change that the wood now grows around a Heart Tree which can be destroyed. This will remove the wood entirely. However, if you can protect it, it will remain on the field indefinitely. This means that you need to take more care where you summon the wood.
The second change is that the wood grows over time in three stages, rewarding you for protecting it. At first, it only cloaks your units as any regular forest would. As we have already described, this in itself synergizes greatly with Lorien's new abilities and helps you on maps with few natural trees.
After one minute, the wood furthermore allows units to use their ambush abilites even when they have already been revealed. This makes fighting within the Elven Wood extremely advantageous for Lorien, but you no longer get this combat boost right away and have to plan your engagements more carefully. After another minute the Elven Wood is in full bloom and will also massively reduce the cooldown of the ambush ability when used in the forest. At this point, it will become very difficult for the enemy to take it, so make sure to defend it well!
Note also that you can enchant trees from the Elven Wood just as you could regular trees, which also allows the wood to heal your units. This once again is meant to make Lorien's tree-based abilities more useful even on maps without large forests of their own. As we felt Lorien players should always have access to at least some forest areas, we chose to make the Elven Wood the faction's central spell and thus easy to reach no matter which strategy you are otherwise pursuing.
The Third Row
Defenders of Mirkwood
One of the biggest challenges posed by the new spellbook structure was finding an appropriate defensive spell for Lorien. This is not a faction that's supposed to focus on strong walls and stationary defenses, but at the same time we feel the new spellbook structure is very important to maintain. It provides much more strategic depth and variety than just having a bunch of offensive combat spells.
We ultimately settled on reworking Tauriel into a more defensive options. As she led the Mirkwood border guard in the movies, this only seemed fitting. Tauriel can now only be summoned near allied structures. Unlike most other summoned heroes, she at first appears alone. However, she can summon her guards at any point, providing the player with an interesting decision.
Tauriel will always summon four units of guards, two with bows and two with blades. Two of these will always appear next to her, but the other two can be summoned near any allied structure on the map. Of course, you can just pick the building where you summoned Tauriel herself to focus your entire defensive on one spot. However, you can also summon them anywhere for a two-pronged approach. This kind of flexibility is what sets Lorien apart.
Furthermore, you can choose which appear where: If Tauriel has her bow equipped, her archers will be summoned to her side and her swordsmen at the target structure. if Tauriel has her blade drawn, it's the other way round. That way, your opponents will never know what to expect!
In the offensive row you get the only spell that's been left unchanged. You can still summon Radagast here and every time you do, you get to choose between the wizard on foot, on his sled or on an eagle. We always liked this spell both in terms of atmosphere as well as gameplay, so we kept is as it was.
The Galadriel Spells of the Third Row
In addition to Tauriel and Radagast, each tree has one spell in the third row that directly interacts with Galadriel. We wanted to further emphasize her central role in the faction and give her a spellbook connection that worked differently from other hero spells like Gandalf the White or Gorthaur.
So for Galadriel we tried something different: Two spells that each grant you early access to her Ring forms! In the right row, you can temporarily transform her into the Queen of Twilight to unleash devastating abilities upon your foes. After all, she was able to summon this power even without the Ring, as seen when she changed before Frodo and when she destroyed Dol Guldur. However, only with the Ring will she be able to maintain this form permanently. We still wanted to make sure that getting the Ring will give you a major power boost, so each of these spell Ring forms has its own shortcomings compared to the full Ring form.
In the left row, you can grant Galadriel a blessing that will make each of her regular abilities spawn a blessing that grants bonuses to range, speed and damage to all nearby allies. Unlike the Queen of Twilight, this spell is not temporary - as the left tree is focussed on permanent effects, it will transform Galadriel until she dies, at which point you will have to wait for the spell to recharge and reapply it. However, the blessings it generates are weaker than the ones she receives after refusing the One Ring, only bestowing half the bonuses to speed, damage and range. They are still a very potent tool in Lorien's arsenal, however, and make it easier to split your army by deploying buffs on different spots across the map.
Now, there's a couple of things you should be aware of when using these spells. First off, if Galadriel picks up the One Ring while under the influence of one of them, she will automatically assume the corresponding Ring form without a choice. We felt it would be very strange if the Queen of Twilight took the Ring and then refused its power.
Secondly, what happens once you have the Ring? Do the spells become useless? Not at all! If you cast either on them on Galadriel while she is already in either of her Ring forms, they trigger a different effect instead. The Queen of Twilight spell will summon a devastating Tornado at her location, while Lady of Light will call forth a Star of Hope. The Star grants the same bonuses as Galadriel's blessing would, but can be moved freely.
These effects can also be triggered if you have both spells but not the Ring. For example, if you first cast Queen of Twilight on Galadriel and then use Lady of Light while she is transformed, you will also get a Star of Hope. Note, however, that without the Ring, this is very difficult to achieve as the two Galadriel spells are at opposite ends of the spellbook. This way, we wanted to make sure that getting the Ring remains a powerful advantage to the player.
Originally, these Galadriel spells were meant to be Lorien's ultimate spells. However, our testers convinced us that this was not the right call. It would mean that you would be forced to recruit specific hero to have any ultimate spells at all. While we want Galadriel to be important to Lorien, we also want players to have strategic freedom. In the third row, you always have an alternative spell you can pick if you don't to rely on Galadriel. So what are Lorien's ultimate spells instead?
The Final Row
Permanently reveals the entire map and reduces the cooldown of all spells by 25%.
On the left, Lorien has the only passive ultimate spell. We wanted Lorien to have a long-term effect in this slot that specifically wasn't just brute combat power. It's difficult to find something that is useful enough for ten spell points without dealing any damage or boosting any units, though. We ultimately settled on a spell that previously belonged to Rivendell and granted an extremely powerful advantage: Perfect knowledge. For a faction like Lorien, always knowing where the enemy is vulnerable and where to strike with their quick but fragile armies is an extremely useful advantage. On top of that, we added faster recharging spells to make sure it's worthy of an ultimate spell slot.
Rivendell instead gets a new central spells that emphasizes their learning in a different way and fits better with that faction's own strategic focus on powerful elite units:
Sanctuary of Knowledge: Units gather experience twice as fast and their ability cooldowns are reduced by 25%.
We feel this better captures what each Elven faction should play like.
This is Lorien's offensive ultimate spell. It calls forth a circle of Huorns that trap enemy enemies caught in their midst, lashing out at anyone who tries to get in or out. The Huorns can be destroyed, but can take quite a beating - ideally, you'd need siege weapons to get them down. Once again, this spell may not have as much direct power as some other ultimates, but has devastating strategic implications. Lorien can separate an enemy army or even trap all enemy forces at once if the opposing player isn't careful. Once that's done, Lorien's expert archers can safely pick them off from outside the circle, safe from any retribution. If you summon the Huorns near enemy structures, they can also attack those.
We liked this much more than the pure damage of the old Tears of the Valar which didn't really offer any special Lorien gameplay. Visually, the spell also fits very well with a faction of Wood-Elves and allows us to finally have the Huorns represented in the game!
And that's it - the full Lorien spellbook! As you can see, we changed almost every single spell, sometimes drastically, to provide deeper and more meaningful decisions and interactions. We hoped you enjoyed reading this update and look forward to letting you play with Lorien and all the other new spellbooks.
We'd also like to take this opportunity and offer our sincere gratitude to all of you who are still with us on this journey. It's not always been an easy road, but this month we've been amazed to see how many of you are still excited for the next Edain version, still eager to share your feedback with us - even catapulting us to the number one spot of the most popular mods on ModDB when we released our video teaser for Edain 4.5! We're more eager than ever to reward your faith and finally deliver Edain 4.5 to you.
With that in mind, we wish you happy holidays and great 2019!
Your Edain Team