In our last article, we explored the heart and soul of Dol Guldur. We introduced the ideas and background of the faction, and examined the various forces and mechanics that the player would be able to control. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the heroes of Dol Guldur. By the way, check out the Age of the Ring wiki.
After the Battle of Azanulbizar, Thráin II, son of Thrór, set out to reclaim the Lonely Mountain, but was captured by the Necromancer’s forces on the eaves of Mirkwood. The Dwarf King-in-Exile was tortured in the Dungeons of Dol Guldur and the last of Dwarf Rings was forcibly taken from his hand. Cast aside and forgotten, Thráin was driven mad and wandered the ruins alone, only reclaiming some of his sanity when he gave the key and map to the Lonely Mountain to Gandalf the Grey.
Thráin acts as an inexpensive and weak hero who is vital in the early game. Many early game strategies will rely on Thráin being utilized properly.
Rank 1: Diminished
Thráin is but a thin shadow of his former self, and is able to skulk about unnoticed. Passive ability.
When Gandalf found Thráin, he was lost and diminished, unable to recall his own name. Not only does this ability allow Thráin to scout into enemy territory unnoticed, it will also allow him to escape from enemy forces easier once he is far enough away to trigger his stealth.
Rank 2: Dark Memories
Broken Rabble nearby Thráin gain +33% experience and +33% armour. Passive ability.
This leadership is vital for Dol Guldur as it makes it easier for Broken Rabble to be ranked up. Once the Rabble reaches rank 2, they will unlock Eternal Servitude which, once they are killed, will let them be revived as Risen Dead, a high-damaging shock troop that is immune to Slow Decay.
Rank 5: No Escape
When Thráin reaches low health he becomes temporarily invulnerable. Passive ability.
Once Thráin was no longer useful to the Necromancer, he was cast aside, left to wander the dark corridors of Dol Guldur… but never allowed to escape, living or otherwise. Once the dark powers of the Necromancer have prevented the sweet release of death, Thráin can once again be used to support the Broken Rabble on the front line.
Some orcs were able to rise through the ranks of Dol Guldur if they showed great strength or intelligence. Krimpûl showed both, being a powerful warrior with plentiful reserves of dark cunning. The Lieutenant of Dol Guldur recognized his talents and put him in charge of the dungeons. It wasn’t until later that the Necromancer himself tasked him with finding the remaining Rings of Power. It was Krimpûl who gleefully cut the Dwarf Ring from Thráin’s hand, as well as attempt to wrest Narya from Gandalf the Grey.
Krimpûl is both a brawler and a commander, being able to summon orcs, small structures, as well as debuff and single out enemy units and heroes.
Rank 1: Orcish Chief
Summons a horde of Orc Gaolers. At rank 3, includes an additional horde of Orc Hunters. At rank 7, includes an additional horde of Orc Ravagers
Krimpûl was the leader of the orc garrison at Dol Guldur. Orcish Chief allows him to strategically bolster the player’s forces. The power grows as the game progresses so that Krimpûl can stay relevant throughout.
Rank 1: Master’s Command
Krimpûl has been tasked with retrieving the Rings of Power. Deals +33% additional damage versus Gandalf the White, Elrond, Galadriel, and Thorin Oakenshield. At rank 3, Krimpûl’s strikes also lower the armor of enemies within a small radius by 5% up to a maximum of 25%.
A power that starts off very situational - after all, the chance of encountering any of these heroes is fairly small, especially during the early game. Thankfully it grows in utility once Krimpûl ranks up, allowing him to debuff enemies close to him so long as he is in combat.
Rank 5: Dungeon Master
Summons a small Gaol that casts Dark Presence and may recruit Broken Rabble
Krimpûl was Dol Guldur’s dungeon master - responsible for keeping them full and doling out the appropriate amounts of misery and torment on a daily basis. Dungeon Master summons a small dungeon that can recruit Broken Rabble, allowing Dol Guldur a fast, secondary source of expendable units to overwhelm their opponent.
Rank 8: Imprison
Krimpûl cripples an enemy hero. Causes surrounding enemy units to cower in fear.
This ability allows Krimpûl to single out an enemy hero and largely remove him from the equation, as well as the enemy units surrounding said hero. Combined with his other powers, Imprison can be a real threat to even the strongest of heroes.
The Barrow-lord was once Marhwini, a descendant of the Kings of Rhovanion, laid to rest after a life of glory in a barrow near the eaves of the Greenwood. Centuries later, his skeletal remains were reanimated by the Necromancer, who sent evil spirits into Marhwini’s tomb, as well as those belonging to his servants and relatives. Stripped of his name, will, and memories, Marhwini’s husk served only the Necromancer. He haunted the Woodsmen of the Anduin, who understood little of the horror that now attacked them in the night, and named it Cargást.
Cargást is a mid-game hero for Dol Guldur. He can support the undead forces of the faction while also being able to disrupt enemy forces.
Rank 1: Barrow-lord
Nearby enemies are slowed passively. The radius of this effect increases with each Rank. Passive ability. Can be activated to deal a heavy strike against a targeted enemy, draining some life and knocking them over. Left click icon then left click on target.
Being in the presence of a Barrow-lord is a bone-chilling experience. Cargást’s presence on the battlefield has a permanent negative influence on those that dare come near him. In difficult times, Cargást can activate the ability to damage a strong target while regaining some health.
Rank 3: March of the Dead
Nearby friendly Undead gain +15% movement speed. Passive ability.
Even in death, Cargást has some authority among his kin, and can push them forward to attack the Necromancer’s foes. This ability will affect Risen Dead, Restless Warriors, Orc Ravagers and Tomb Guard.
Rank 5: Cursed Treasure
Target Slave Mill earns more resources but all nearby units have reduced armour for a time. Left click icon then left click on target.
Like the Barrows of Arnor, the Barrows of Rhovanion contained the treasures of the nobles whose bodies were laid to rest. This ability can improve the resource production of a target Slave Mill while also weakening any forces that might attack it. Cursed gold is indiscriminate however, and the player must be careful that their own forces don’t suffer.
Rank 7: Spell of the Barrows
Target enemies are stunned in fear. Any Risen Dead in the target area deal more damage. Left click icon then left click on target area.
The Barrows of Rhovanion were built around stone foundations, carved with ancient words of power that were meant to hinder any that would come near them. Once the Necromancer’s corruption penetrated the graves within, this ineffective superstition became true, paralysing all those who wandered nearby to fall victim to the restless dead within. This power can be used to disrupt enemy forces, while making them vulnerable to any Risen Dead in the area.
Rank 10: Dark Awakening
Cargást slowly but continually summons temporary single Restless Warriors from the earth until he is ordered to move or attack. Left click to activate.
The Necromancer bestowed a sliver of his power onto Cargást, allowing him to raise his long-dead kin around him. With this power, Cargást can continually summon powerful undead warriors to attack nearby foes, with the downside of being unable to move. This power allows him to influence a battle from afar, so long as he is adequately protected.
Saenathra was Shelob’s greatest daughter. One day she attempted to supplant the great matron, but failed and was cast out. In time, she found her way into the southern reaches of the Greenwood, where she came to rule over her own fell brood. Long years passed while her offspring were allowed to multiply, weaving vast webs between the great boughs of the forest, which would soon come to be known as Mirkwood. Saenathra and her kin hunted and haunted beneath the darkness of the canopy, feeding on travelers and stray Silvan Elves whenever they could.
Queen Saenathra is a powerful hero that excels at disrupting the enemy and providing support for Dol Guldur’s spider units.
Rank 1: Burrow
Allows Saenathra to tunnel under the ground and emerge at any unshrouded location. Left click icon then left click on target location.
The Spiders of Mirkwood were able to ambush their prey, appearing from the shadows to strike. Burrow can be used to travel the map at great speed to ambush enemies or escape from danger.
Rank 3: Feast, My Children!
Enemy units within the radius are slowed and take increased damage from Spiders. At rank 6, also summons a horde of Fell Brood.
As Queen and brood mother, Saenathra orders hunts and inspires her children towards acts of great cruelty. This tiered power is designed to allow Saenathra to support spider units, disrupt enemy forces, and fortify Dol Guldur’s army.
Rank 5: Web of Lies
Causes targeted units to become hostile towards each other. Left click icon then left click on target area.
Those travelers that survived their trek across Mirkwood often recall hearing strange voices, calling upon them to abandon the Elvenking’s Road and wander off into the brush, never to be seen again. This power further solidifies Saenathra’s role as a powerful disrupting force.
Rank 8: Endless Hunger
Like Ungoliant, Saenathra possesses an insatiable hunger for flesh and precious objects. Saenathra can now trample, and steals resources when dealing damage to enemy units and structures. Passive ability. When activated, Saenathra regains 30% health. Left click to activate.
Like all her kin, Saenathra is most dangerous when she hungers, which happens to peak at rank 8. If possible, an enemy player should try to prevent her from reaching this rank as it will allow Saenathra to fight off enemy hordes much easier as well as survive for much longer, which makes fighting her a much more daunting task.
Once a great King of Rhûn, Khamûl was given a Ring of Power by Sauron the Deceiver. While the Ring gave him great power, he eventually fell to its corruption, becoming a wraith bound in eternal service to the Dark Lord. After the Witch-king of Angmar, Khamûl was the most powerful of the Nazgul and became the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur when Sauron returned to Mordor.
Like Mordor’s Ringwraiths, Khamûl begins as a fast, disruptive hero who can weaken enemy forces. However, he evolves into a more powerful hero who is able to directly damage enemies from a distance, support allies and summon his own elite troops.
Rank 1: Mount/Dismount
Left click to mount/dismount. Does what it says.
Rank 1: Screech
Causes enemy units to flee in terror. Left click to activate.
The terrifying presence of the Nazgul was known to all who had the misfortune of encountering them and their voices alone could drive many to flee in fear or freeze in terror. Khamûl can use this to cause enemies to scatter and leave them open for further attack or allow allies to escape.
Rank 2: Black Breath
As more Nazgûl gather, their strength increases. +10% damage and +10% armour per nearby Nazgûl. Passive ability. Nearby enemy units suffer -25% damage and -20% armour. At rank 6, also causes damage-over-time to nearby enemies. Does not stack with other debuffs. Passive ability.
The Black Breath was a weapon used by the Nazgûl. The Ringwraiths' breath was poisonous and could overpower those affected by it, resulting in illness and possibly death. As second in command of the Nine, Khamûl can use the Black Breath to weaken enemies, with the ability improving in strength at higher levels. This ability contributes to the general theme of debuffing enemies in order to overcome Dol Guldur’s weakness in lacking many elite units themselves.
Rank 3: Lieutenant of Dol Guldur
Khamûl takes on his role as Lieutenant of Dol Guldur. Nearby undead units gain +33% damage. At level 5, Khamûl dons his armour and gains +50% armour. Passive ability.
As a leader of Dol Guldur and a Ringwraith, Khamûl has influence over the undead under his Master’s command. This leadership will affect Risen Dead, Restless Warriors, Orc Ravagers and Tomb Guard. As Khamûl levels up, he gains his warrior armour, a twisted remnant of his days as a mortal King.
Rank 8: The Black Easterling
Modifier Type: Spell. Khamûl and nearby friendly units gain +50% damage and +20% speed but lose -50% armor and gain no experience for a short time. Also summons four single Ancient Easterlings. Stacks with Leadership and Spells. Left click to activate.
As a Ringwraith, Khamûl cares little for the lives of those in his service. This power can be used to deal as much damage as possible while also speeding up the progression towards Risen Dead for Dol Guldur’s basic units. The Ancient Easterlings are powerful warriors who were swayed to Khamûl’s side when he was still a King, and have endured through the years through fell sorcery. After all, in Dol Guldur life can be stretched for eons, and death isn’t the end.
After years of peace in the Third Age, a dark presence crept into Southern Greenwood, gathering fell creatures and corrupting the forest itself. The nearby Woodsmen did not know the origins of this horror and named it the Necromancer. As King Thranduil of the Woodland Realm led his elves north, the servants of the Necromancer spread throughout the forest, poisoning every stream, spreading darkness and decay.. The White Council began to investigate this danger, suspecting that it was one of the Nine that had taken up residence in the ruined fortress. In truth, Sauron, the enemy of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, had returned.
The Necromancer of Dol Guldur is recruited at rank 1, while other faction leaders arrive at higher ranks. To compensate for this, he is much cheaper than other faction leaders, and can thus be recruited much earlier, allowing him to be a more integral part of the faction, as he should be. He is a master of sorcery, able to influence life and death for his servants and enemies. If the player finds the One Ring, they can give it to the Necromancer to upgrade his abilities and let him call the Ringwraiths to his side.
Rank 1: Dark Presence
Empowers nearby Dol Guldur units. Counters their damage-over-time affliction and slightly buffs their stats. Passive ability.
The sorcery of the Necromancer allows him to influence the world around him. He is able to prevent the decay his servants suffer, prolonging their agony and extending their use in battle. When the Necromancer receives the Ring, this power deals damage over time to enemies within the radius.
Rank 1: Lord of Wolves
Summons a large Black Warg. A maximum of three can be summoned at a time.
Even during the First Age, Sauron was known for his affinity with wolves. These Black Wargs aren’t mere wolves, however: they are ancient, lesser spirits that have taken wolf-shapes. In battle, these creatures can trample foes and use Lunge to cause a target to bleed while regaining some of their own health. When the Necromancer gets the One Ring, this power is changed to Master of the Nine, allowing him to call a more powerful Ringwraith to his side instead. Each of these Ringwraiths has access to The Nine are Abroad, which causes them to grow stronger when near other Ringwraiths, Khamûl and allied Ringwraiths included.
Rank 3: The Abhorred Dread
The Necromancer casts a necromantic spell on enemies within the radius, dealing heavy damage and resurrecting the dead as Risen Dead under the player’s control. At rank 8, can be cast on Restless Barrows to summon a horde of Restless Warriors. Can't be used while using Shapeless Malice. Left click icon then left click on target enemies.
The Necromancer has ever surrounded himself and his haunts with evil spirits and phantoms, ready to inhabit the corpses of the slain. This power is the Necromancer’s main source of danger. It deals damage to enemies caught within - not a lot of damage at first, but it ramps up as he grows in rank. Enemies that die due to its damage will be resurrected as temporary Risen Dead under the player’s control, allowing the Necromancer to single-handedly turn the tide of confrontations. Casting it on Restless Barrows allows the player to quickly add a horde of undead to his army, should the need arise.
Rank 5: Shapeless Malice
The Necromancer becomes incorporeal, allowing him to move quickly across the map while terrifying nearby enemy units. Shapeless Malice does not allow him to attack. Left click to shift shape.
After his defeat on the slopes of Mount Doom, Sauron spent many years as an incorporeal presence, regaining his former strength. Shapeless Malice is an escape ability - it allows the Necromancer to toggle into an incorporeal form in which his speed is greatly increased but he is unable to attack. The ability has a relatively long cooldown, which means the player pays a price for escaping, as the Necromancer will not be able to cast any of his abilities while transformed. He can however still influence the battlefield through his Dark Presence.
Rank 8: Wreathed in Flame
The Necromancer erupts in flame, blasting back enemies and setting the surrounding area on fire. Can't be used while using Shapeless Malice. Left click to activate.
Sauron’s use of fire in battle was a source of grief when he burned Gil-Galad to ashes on Mount Doom. Revealing his true power, the Necromancer rises up and summons forth destructive flames to deal strong damage to nearby enemies. This ability can be used to great effect in clearing out and scattering enemy armies. The resulting terrain fire however will also damage your own troops.
That's all for now! We'd like to wish everyone reading this and their loved ones good health in the times to come. Please be smart: practice social distancing, self-isolation, and wash your damn hands. Furthering a pandemic might be a fun game mechanic in Dol Guldur, it's not the sort of thing we should be contributing to in real life. Don't be a dumbass, and tell people that are being a dumbass to knock it off.
The Age of the Ring Team