2020? What about it? Such an ordinary year. It’s all been fine, thanks for asking. Nothing special. Kind of felt like 2013, or 2007, or 1996. Just another year, barely noticed its passing. Anyway.
This year marked the end of the middle for Age of the Ring. We completed two of our most anticipated factions, and released a total of 5 versions (4.1, 5.0, 5.1, 6.0, and 6.1). Dol Guldur and Woodland Realm have been received with a level of enthusiasm and fandom that was unprecedented for us. It’s been very humbling to see people enjoying them.
Since 6.1 released earlier this month, we have begun working on the beginning of the end. Work on our 11th and final faction (Haradwaith) is officially underway.
However, our next release will not be our final release, and will not yet contain Haradwaith. Instead, we’ve decided to do an intermediate release, dubbed 7.0.
Lothlórien's Big Rework
Way back in late 2017, we released our first ‘new’ faction: Lothlórien. Since then, our team has come a very long way, and while Lothlórien is still a good faction, it’s aged considerably, especially compared to our latest few factions and the original factions that have gotten plenty of love since. Lothlórien has felt left behind for a while now, so we decided to give it a complete retooling to bring it up to the level of our recent work.
To that end, 7.0 will contain what we have dubbed Lothlórien 2.0. This rework is focused on delivering a unique gameplay style to the faction, which is going to be centered around its iconic Mallorn trees and a highly defensive playstyle.
Its primary structure will be a simple Mallorn Tree that collects a small number of resources. However, this Mallorn Tree can be extensively upgraded with both primary and secondary upgrades, allowing the player to effectively customize the structure to suit specific needs. For instance, a Mallorn Tree can be upgraded with the primary Green Pasture upgrade, which allows it to recruit cavalry units. Afterwards, you can upgrade this Green Pasture Mallorn with the secondary Silvan Levy upgrade, which allows it to summon a temporary horde of Lórien Elves to defend it. Want it to do more? Upgrade it with the Waters of Nimrodel secondary upgrade to allow units to regain health when near the tree. More? Give it the Mallorn Roots upgrade to damage and slow enemy units nearby. Not enough? Research the Silver Tree Sentries upgrade to change the standard unit patrol into a patrol of elite Silver Tree Sentinels. Note: each Mallorn Tree can receive only 1 primary upgrade, but each secondary upgrade is stackable. Other primary upgrades include the Galadhrim Garrison upgrade to recruit Lórien infantry, the Storehouse upgrade to research upgrades, and the Niphredil Bloom upgrade to turn the Mallorn Tree into a proper resource structure.
Additionally, you’ll be able to construct a Lórien Talan, which serves as a regular guard tower but more importantly provides you a radius in which you can build other Mallorn Trees and Hidden Sanctums (a new building that will be revealed further down the line). That means that you’ll need to build these Lórien Telain wherever you want to expand, similar to Protoss pylons in Starcraft. You’ll want to build a lot of these Telain though, because they also provide leadership to each other that stacks and can provide a maximum of +50% damage and +25% range. These Telain can also be upgraded with various secondary upgrades.
Dunlendings! Dunlendings everywhere!
Another big feature of 7.0 will be a bunch of new features to the Isengard faction. It will not be retooled as thoroughly as Lothlórien - instead, we’re bringing to the forefront a section of the current Isengard faction that isn’t as prominent as it could be.
In Age of the Ring, we have always differentiated between ‘Wildmen’ and ‘Dunlendings’, both of whom were a very important part of Isengard’s military. Dunlendings are the more outwardly civilized of the two, having descended in part from Freca, an outlawed King of Rohan. To create some more diversity amongst Isengard’s Uruk-filled ranks, we’ve decided to replace the Dunlending Subjugation spell, instead making the Dunlending Longhouse it summons a baseline structure that is unlocked as soon as King Wulfgar arrives on the field. Yes, Wulfgar is now a baseline hero, complete with a few new powers that will be revealed somewhere down the line.
There will be 2 new Dunlending units: Dunlending Axemen and Dunlending Huskarls, and all Dunlending units will receive new art to lift them up visually.
Saruman of Many Colours...
Isengard will also receive a new Ring Hero. As has been often requested, Saruman will be able to receive the Ring. Once in possession of the One Ring, Saruman will gain access to new and improved abilities, much like the Necromancer in Dol Guldur. We have made some big improvements to this system: in 7.0, players will be able to bring the Ring to these 2 heroes, but they can also pick it up themselves. The Ring can alternatively be brought to the Fortress, which will cause the hero to turn into their Ring Hero form if already on the field, and will cause them to be recruited in this form if they haven’t been recruited yet when the Ring is brought back. This should also allow the AI to finally make use of these Ring heroes (although this needs to be thoroughly tested as of writing this article).
The new Isengard will doubtlessly contain some more surprises, but this article won’t give everything away just yet!
Oh, that's not enough is it? Well, fine. You guys might remember when we posted a sneak peek at a new Gondor fortress a while ago. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about this since (‘new fortress when!’). We have an answer: new fortress in 7.0.
That's all then?
Yes, it is.
All the best and thanks for all the votes,
The Age of the Ring Team