I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Dunland is perhaps the least-anticipated faction of DoM. From what I can tell (based on admittedly limited information), Dunland seems the least popular of the 6 factions included in TNS, and with DoM's inclusion of many additional factions – and new lands for many of the existing ones to explore – that is unlikely to change.
But there's a lot to be said for these guys, and hopefully this preview will get you excited to lead the Dunlendings to victory in Dominion of Men.
The Chiefdom of Dunland is one of a tiny handful of factions that belong to the 'barbarian' culture in DoM. The others are Rhun, North Rhun, and Khand – and you'll notice that none of those factions are located anywhere near Dunland. As an island of Darkness in a West-facing sea, Dunland must overcome challenges of the political and cultural variety, as well as the obvious military hurdles.
And DoM has ramped that up even further. In TNS, Dunland benefits from being a 'corner' faction surrounded by natural choke-points provided by mountain passes and rivers. With the inclusion of the northern half of the map, however, Dunland now must concern itself with potential foes from 3, not just 2, directions. Rohan and the Reunited Kingdom remain as paramount concerns, but to the north the City-kingdom of Tharbad has arisen.
Whether Tharbad is threat, partner, or victim with regard to your Chiefdom is up to fate and, to some extent, your own decisions. On the one hand, Tharbad may be amenable to trade for the early going, allowing you to turn your full attentions toward Rohan. On the other hand, factions sharing borders tend to go to war sooner or later. Tharbad boasts several settlements and strongholds, but with quick, coordinated strikes your hillmen could swarm the ramparts and claim the rich trade city for yourself.
Further north, the Reunited Kingdom and the Kingdom of Adunabar exchange blows in the former lands of Arnor. In TNS, Adunabar was something of a 'safe' ally for Dunland; you could manage your borders carefully enough to avoid getting too close to one another and inviting a war. But if you conquer Tharbad – or if Adunabar does – you may be facing a very strong faction indeed.
In addition to the newcomers, the landscape of Dunland has changed somewhat from TNS. Dunland now no longer begins play with ocean-front property; their settlements have been generally shifted eastward, to better reflect the implied balance of power in that region. And rumors of Orcs and worse in the nearby mountains may give a chieftain pause before he sends his pillaging armies too far from his homelands.
Orcs are another area of change for Dunland. In TNS, Orcish recruitment was done from inside human settlements, once particular buildings were constructed. In DoM, you'll actually have to capture an Orc-hold (and convert to the Shadow Cult) if you want to train the beasts. This of course means that you'll have to defeat any defending Orcs, in order to convince any survivors that you're a strong enough leader to fight for!
Dunland is one of a few factions in DoM that can substantially change their recruitment options by 'converting' to the Shadow Cult. These factions – including also Harad, Rhun, and of course Adunabar – are considered worthy of the Cult's attention, so once enough Cultic temples are constructed throughout your realm, you will be provided with some alternative units to your 'native' roster. These Cultic units may be stronger or more disciplined than units you could otherwise train, but the price of conversion is the inability to train some of your native types.
So Dunland actually has, arguably, more variety in some ways than many other factions. Swear fealty to the Cult, and you could train up hordes of Orcs as a vanguard to your conquests, or train reliable, disciplined Cultic forces that complement your own irregular skirmishers and ragged warriors. You could instead resist the Shadow and rely on the strength of your native hillmen and hunters to see you through. Depending on the choices you make, you could experience very different campaigns as a leader of Dunland.
Playing as Dunland in DoM means always watching your back. You may be celebrating a victorious assault of Edoras when the Reunited Kingdom sends armies to attack your southern borders. You may send your warriors to overawe the Orcs of the Misty Mountains just as Tharbad's Merchant-king decides that conquering your grazelands would help pay for his fleets.
Unlike your barbarian co-culturalists, Dunland has managed to survive for centuries surrounded by dominant factions. In the Fourth Age, a wary and opportunistic chief of Dunland can see his people thrive – exactly how they thrive is up to you.
Faction Strategy Preview: Dunland
The strategy guide/preview for Dunland. Originally written on Total War Center by CountMRVHS.
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