Ever since we started working on Misty Mountains back in 2015/2016, the faction has felt somewhat schizophrenic. It lacked a clear, central theme and style that everything related to, with various things tacked on over time, turning it into somewhat of a patchwork faction.
Back then The Hobbit was still fresh in everyone’s collective fan consciousness, and we felt we had to tick a number of boxes introduced by those films in order to make it easier for people to be invested in the material and become interested in our project, as well as us just being less critical of this material ourselves than we are now. Over the years, however, the taste those movies left behind has soured considerably, and we’ve grown much more into the habit of creating our own material (characters, stories, and themes).
This, coupled with the glaring issues that Misty Mountains has had for years - varying quality of 2d and 3d art, effects, and gameplay elements - has led us to finally make some drastic changes to raise the faction up to the standards set by our later releases.
The new Misty Mountains coming in the next release double down on its theme of being a wild faction, full of savage creatures - various types of trolls and orcs, as well as vicious beasts - wolves, Fire Drakes, and and the airborne bats and Cold-drakes. Further details explained below!
A Controversial Change
We’ll bite the bullet and spell it out: Azog the Defiler has been removed from the faction. The reason for this is much speculated on and generally misunderstood throughout our community from the moment it became known that it was happening. So we’ll be clear:
Azog was removed because we did not like him as a character. We feel he represents most of everything that we do not like about The Hobbit films. His inclusion was not necessary for the story, his depiction was soulless CGI, and his character, though present in all 3 films, was underwritten and shallow.
This does not mean we will or should remove every element from these films from our mod. This isn’t an exact science, it’s all based on subjective feeling and opinion - we’re doing what we think needs to happen to make our vision for this project come true, and so Azog had to go. His presence prevented the faction from rising above what we see in The Hobbit and really going into its own distinct direction.
In Azog’s stead, we have added Bolg of the North and Lug the Mauled, two new heroes that will serve to lead the Misty Mountains, take over some of Azog’s utility, and fill out the faction’s somewhat lacklustre number of heroes.
Bolg of the North, Vicious Chieftain
Wolves, orcs, bats... all are Bolg's to command.
Replacing Azog as Faction Leader, Bolg of the North is a huge, hulking Orc, gifted with sharp cunning and brute strength. Though still the spawn of Azog, Bolg is not portrayed like he is in the film. Instead, we’ve opted for our own concept. His kit is geared towards supporting his troops, soaking up incoming damage, and doing decent damage of his own.
Rank 1: Wild Overlord
Leadership to all Orc units, bats and wargs.
Rank 3: Growing Hatred
When activated, Bolg deals splash damage and his damage increases by +10% per hit, up to +50%. Bolg passively deals increased damage against Dwarves.
Rank 5: Ruled By Fear
Allied units surrounding Bolg temporarily deal +125% damage, but lose -50% armour and do not gain experience whilst effect lasts. Nearby enemies units flee in terror.
Rank 7: Unpierceable Ranks
Bolg is protected by 4 Bodyguards (Bolg’s Bodyguard). When activated, Bolg gains +50% armor.
Rank 10: Terror of the North
Summons an army of bats, wargs, and Mountain-orcs.
Bolg's got a contract for a shadowy assassin...
Lug the Mauled, Deranged Assassin
For more information on Lug's relationship to Balin, Lord of Moria, read his lore entry in the AotR Lore Compendium!
Muzgash or Lug, who is the prettiest Orc of all?
An original character that first made his entry in Shadow and Flame many years ago (though in a different guise), Lug the Mauled serves as a vessel for some of Azog’s utility as a hero killer, as well as Misty Mountains’ only ranged hero, as Lug can toggle between his dual blades and throwing knives.
Rank 1: Toggle Knives/Swords
Lug can toggle between ranged and melee attacks
Rank 1: Headhunter
Puts a price on an enemy hero's head, significantly reducing their armor and speed. This ability grows stronger as Lug ranks up.
Rank 3: Goin’ In Swingin’
Lug temporarily gains +50% damage, +50% armor, and +20% speed, but loses a percentage of health
Rank 6: Scorched Earth
Lug sets fire to the earth and burns all friendly and enemy units.
Lug's about to fulfill a contract...
The Misty Mountains Spellbook is largely unchanged from 6.0, but for one very important detail: Untamed Allegiance has been removed. In its place is now the Trollish Stew power, which summons a kettle of lovely stew guarded by 3 familiar Trolls. The summoned kettle fortifies and heals nearby friendly troops, and William, Tom and Bert will attack anyone that gets too close to their camp.
Untamed Allegiance isn’t entirely gone, however. Along with a modern visual facelift, the Misty Mountains Fortress has received several changes to the way its upgrades work, including a brand new power: Wild Allegiance, which allows you to capture any neutral creep lairs within vision.
Now looks even more wild and savage!
Wild Allegiance can be researched from the Fortress for 600 resources. Once researched, the power becomes available from the Fortress. Once captured, the lair’s original inhabitants are killed and a band of Moria Orcs starts defending the lair. Not to worry, you’re not going to miss out on any resources by not destroying the lair: once captured, it starts to generate a small amount of resources. And, of course, you’ll be able to recruit the relevant creep units from the lair. That means Misty Mountains now has access to a wide variety of new units - Jungle Trolls, Hill Trolls, Lossoth Warriors, Spiders, Wights, et cetera, depending on the map and availability of lairs.
Beyond this, we have removed the artificial gating elements that were part of the Fortress upgrades. That means no more Allegiances - instead, all Misty Mountains units can be recruited from the start, with the exception of the Fire Wyrm and Cold-drake, which will still require the Brood of the North upgrade to be unlocked so that the Wyrm Lair can be built. This is to emphasize their strength and status as independent, rogue agents in Middle-earth.
Exotic new Trolls joining Bolg's army!
A Ferocious Flyer
Misty Mountains will receive a new monster unit: the Cold-drake, a flying dragon unable to breathe fire but capable of wreaking havoc upon enemy armies and structures, serving as a high priority target and a distraction to enemy arrows while the rest of Bolg’s army marches into battle.
By the way, Smaug can land now!
More Reworked Art
We’ve also made an entirely new model for our legendary Muzgash! He now wields a looted Dwarf spear, and looks much more like the Moria Orc Chieftain that he’s intended to be.
The Wolf Den has also been remodeled as well as renamed into the Wolf Cairn, a more feral looking structure befitting of the wild and untethered nature of the wolves of the Misty Mountains.
That's it for this article. The next release isn't far away!
All the best,
The Age of the Ring Team