The Empire of Harad, like the Chiefdom of Rhun, is a faction that represents the unification of what must have been many kingdoms, tribes, or chiefdoms in those regions over the course of their history. In
Dominion of Men, both Harad and Rhun have received some upstart neighbor factions who help flesh out the impression of a more vibrant, populous Middle-earth than is often imagined.
In Harad's case, the addition of the factions of Far Harad and Harondor drastically changes the Empire's strategic fortunes. No longer in possession of all the lands between the Poros and the Harnen, Harad must either crush or bypass the Principality of Harondor in order to send its armies against its old foe, the Reunited Kingdom – or avoid the land routes altogether and rely on its Corsair elements to assault Gondor by sea.
If war with Harondor can be avoided, that Principality can actually serve as a useful buffer against Dunedain of any allegiance farther north. Meanwhile, the Empire's fleets can disembark at any point along the coast (provided enemy navies are defeated) and quickly seize undefended forts or settlements while the RK's forces are holding off Adunabar in the east. This seaborne strategy is one of Harad's great
strengths, arguably greater than the sea capability of the RK, who often must delay any naval adventures until after Adunabar is dealt with.
But Harad has no single large enemy on its doorstep. What Harad has instead is many smaller potential enemies on its doorstep. The trick to a successful career as Emperor is to manage these smaller factions while still marshalling the resources to maintain pressure on the RK. With several independent settlements up for grabs near Khand and Far Harad, those factions will only get stronger over time. Get bogged down in decades of warfare against some petty desert chiefs on your borders, and you may find that Elessar's heirs have won their civil war, rebuilt their fleets, and are now bringing the fight to you. And those of you who have played TNS know that Harad is not exactly a faction that favors defense.
Perhaps Harad's greatest threat in the early to mid game is the wild Chiefdom of Khand to its east. Khand is a country of unruly horsemen and other 'uncivilized' tribes which may become belligerent as it seeks to
expand its domain around your borderlands. These folk must be brought to heel – or at least contained – to free your hand against the RK.
Chief among the perils Khand presents to a Haradrian army is its companies of horse archers, which can cause devastating damage to your troops at range. Even the mighty Mumakil can be brought down by enough arrows, and the archers of Khand carry many in their quivers.
Khand's horse archers combine a ranged attack with great mobility. To beat them in the field, you'll need to answer both of these threats, but no single unit in Harad's roster can accomplish that task. A combined-arms approach is probably the most effective: train a full army of roughly half archers and half cavalry, and send it against the hosts of Khand. Your archers will thin out their troops, and your cavalry can– if led correctly – capture the remaining horse archers and swiftly rout them.
This is all made feasible by the fact that Harad's archers and horsemen are no slouches against your barbaric neighbors. But even against the better-armed Dunedain to your north, archers and especially riders will be essential parts of your battle line – not least because your own infantry often simply cannot withstand what the Dunedain may throw at you.
Subterfuge is another weapon in Harad's arsenal. Centuries of political maneuvering and (often literal) backstabbing have cultivated the Empire's skill in undermining its enemies in subtler ways. Thus spies
and assassins will be important tools, even early in a campaign. After all, your Corsair fleets need to know which coastal forts or settlements are ripe for raiding, and your governors need to know which enemies are massing along their provincial borders. And the superior killers that can be trained (after the appropriate development) will make any conquests easier by striking the head off an enemy force.
Like several other factions in DoM, Harad may choose to turn to the ways of the Shadow Cult, thus bolstering its forces with well-armed and disciplined warriors, opening up (as well as closing down) some options for construction and recruitment. Orcs will not serve the men of the South, but the Cultic troops available to Harad go a long way toward making fights against the strong RK infantry easier.
But even Emperors who choose to retain their traditions as Men of Darkness still benefit from a diverse unit roster made possible by the 'zone of recruitment' system that has been tweaked and expanded in DoM. All of Harad's neighbors have something valuable to offer in terms of native recruits. Conquer lands in Harondor, and you will find some unique skirmisher troops as well as the Harondor Armsmen, unusual for Haradrian soldiers in their armor and discipline. Bringing Far Harad into the fold allows an Emperor to raise companies of the feared Men of Far Harad. And seizing lands in Khand allows for recruitment of light horse archers.
So, while some measure of diplomacy and restraint is useful in the earlyyears of a Harad campaign, there are great rewards for an Emperor who can quickly and decisively unite the Haradrian people under the banner of the black serpent, and bring war even into the far lands of Khand before sending his might north to do battle in Gondor.
An ambitious Emperor might even set his sights farther. In the Third Age, Haradrian fleets once reached as far as the mouth of the Isen. Perhaps, in the Fourth Age, the time is ripe to outdo those deeds, and send the black sails of the Corsairs to the havens at Lond Daer or Mithlond, to bring fire and ruin even to the distant lands of the North.