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The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth, or BFME, is a series of Real Time Strategy videogames, developped by EA Los Angeles and published by EA Games, which uses the SAGE engine (the same engine that the one of Command & Conquer: Generals). Those games use the Lord of the Rings licence, and are heavily inspired by the movies.

There is two games:

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth (2004), which follows closely the movies
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II (2006), which shows battles and fights in other places
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king (2006) - an expansion pack for BFMEII -, which campaign is a prequel to the event of Lord of the Rings

The first game features the following factions:

  • Playable:
    • Rohan
    • Gondor
    • Isengard
    • Mordor
  • Campaign only:
    • Fellowship of the Ring
    • Lorien
    • Ents
    • Goblins of the Moria
    • Harad

BFMEII features the following factions:

  • Men
  • Elves
  • Dwarves
  • Goblins
  • Isengard
  • Mordor
  • Angmar (expansion pack only)
Tropes used in The Battle for Middle Earth include:
  • Action Girl: Eowyn in both games, Arwen in BFMEII. The Hero Editor of BFMEII allows to create one (Elvish Archer and Rohan Maid).
  • All There in the Manual: Plot and subtext informations of both games are rare enough to cause the story making very little sense if the player didn't read the books or at least watched the Peter Jackson movies.
  • Annoying Arrows: Archers are generally the strongest units. Elven archers even throw enemies back with each shot.(Assuming the first shot doesn't kill the enemy...which it usually DOES. Though the corpse still gets flung.) However, with armor upgrades, dwarves and uruk-hai can stand a couple of arrows before going down.(Though humans, elves, orcs, hobbits, etc. can't so you could say it's played straight.) Of course stronger units such as trolls, mumakil...and obviously the HEROES can take many arrows before dying as they're clearly superhuman.(Although the frailer ones, such as Arwen or the hobbits still go down VERY quickly to arrows.)
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • In BFME, skirmish and multiplayer modes have an imposed limit for the Good and Evil sides, the Evil one being twice the Good one
    • During the campaigns of BFME, this limit is gradually increased when controling specific territories. The maximum is the same as the multiplayer / skirmish one
    • In BFMEII, the limit is increased with specific buildings. Both sides have the same maximum limit. In the campaigns the maximum limit automatically increases from mission to mission
  • The Archer: As normal units, and as heroes.
  • Army of the Dead: Summoning them is the ultimate power of the Good general powers, and a level 10 skill of Aragorn. They also intervene during scripted events, led by Aragorn in both cases: the siege of Minas Tirith in BFME (both campaigns), and the siege of Rivendell in BFMEII (end of the Evil campaign).
  • Arrows on Fire: Upgrade for most of the archers in BFME. In BFMEII, it is still the case for Human, and Orc archers, but Elven ones upgrade their arrows with a kind of silver alloy.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Grond, the huge battering ram used by Mordor during the Minas Tirith siege (BFME). It is huge, slow, very resistant, and very powerful. When the gate of the city is destroyed, Grond will stay there and block most of the path in and out of the city, providing a kind of unintentional useful device to the defenders.
  • Awesome Yet Practical:
    • Charge of Rohirrim riders
    • Every hero, especially Gandalf
  • The Berserker: It is one of the Isengard units. One of Gimli skills is also described like this.
  • Bag of Spilling: Zig-zagged.
    • In both games, hero units keep their experience from mission to mission, as the player retains his general powers. Upgrades have to be researched in each mission
    • In the BFME campaigns, the player keeps his units with their level, and their upgrades, but must research those upgrade first to apply them to units he just created
    • In the BFMEII campaigns, the player keeps his heroes but not his army
    • In the BFMEII "War of the Ring" mode, the player keeps the army he created during the turned-based mode, but not the troops created during the real-time battles
  • Black Knight: Both games features Nazgul on Fell Beasts (including the Witch-King of Angmar as a more powerful Nazgul). BFME has Nazgul on horses, the Mouth of Sauron, and Sauron himself (on foot).
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: Some heroes (Legolas, Lurtz, Faramir, etc) can switch between sword (or knives for Legolas) and bow. There is also the Gondor rangers, who use daggers when having to defend in melee fighting.
  • Cannon Fodder: The standard strategy for the Bad factions, especially Mordor.
  • The Cavalry: Several missions of the Good campaign of BFME consists in surviving until the reinforcements come. Most of them are a literal example, as The Cavalry is the Rohan army.
  • Combat Aestheticist: The Elves.
  • Command and Conquer Economy
  • Cutscene:
    • In both games, most of them use the game engine. Some of the BFMEII ones include unmoving pictures from the game converted in a style reminescent of the John Howe drawings
    • BFME includes a few size-shrinked cutscenes extracted from the movies, displayed in the mini-map window without interrupting the actual gameplay
  • Cutscene Power to the Max:
    • During the BFME Amon Hen mission of the Good campaign, there is a cutscene where Legolas is shown using a high level skill that will only be unlocked several missions later.
    • The Good campaign of BFMEII ends with Galadriel destroying Dol Guldur after summoning a storm
  • Damage Is Fire: Played straight in BFME (except for the Ents, which really suffer from constant damages when burning), partly averted in BFMEII (where fire attacks cause special damages to buildings).
  • Death From Above: Eagles and Nazgul mounting Fell Beasts in both games. BFMEII adds a flying dragon, the ability for the Mordor fortress to hurl a giant volcanic rock, and several general powers (burning sunrays, rain of arrows or of burning rocks).
  • Defeat Means Playable: In the Evil campaign of BFME, the first imposed Mordor mission requires to conquest several Haradrim settlements, to hire them for the conquest of Middle-Earth, either by buying (with an expensive present) or destroying each of them.
  • Doomed by Canon: Strangely averted in the Good campaign of BFME. Fisrt, the Moria mission ends with Gandalf slaying the Balrog without being separated from the Fellowship. A bonus objective of the Amon Hen mission requires to save Boromir life. Later, Faramir is not grievly wounded in Osgiliath, Theoden does not die in front of Minas Tirith, and Eowyn is not grievly wounded near of him.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The Moria and Shelob's lair mission of the BFME Good campaign, which both have a secondary objective consisting in finding all the treasures. Especially the Moria's one, which features only hero units.
  • Easy Communication
  • Easy Logistics:
    • There is only one resource (money), which generates automatically when the player owns specific buildings. Farms / slaughterhouses / mining pits / lumbermills / furnaces does not create different resources (units don't eat, buildings don't need wood, stone or steel to be built/repaired), they are only different appearences for the money factory
    • Ranged units , defense towers, and siege units have unlimited ammunitions
    • Buildings are automatically repaired after a while when damaged
  • Evil Overlord: Sauron, and Saruman to a lesser extend. They appear in some specific missions of the campaign. Saruman is a normal hero unit for the Isengard faction, and Sauron can be built in BFMEII multiplayer / skirmish mode if certain condition is meet.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The opening movie of BFME ends with the Eye of Sauron glowing in the middle of the screen, watching the player.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Some cutscenes mirrors the feel of the story by showing a lot more units on the ground that the player and the artificial intelligence could have trained.
    • In some missions, objectives include a Hero Must Survive one, even if the player base has the building which can resurrect heroes
    • BFMEII multiplayer / skirmish / "War of the Ring" modes have a special gameplay features involving a wandering Gollum carrying the One Ring. He drops it when dying; any unit which steps on the Ring gains it, and if it reach the player's fortress it allows him to train the ultimate hero of the Good / Evil side (Galadriel for the Good, Sauron for the Evil)
    • Gameplay and Story Segregation is averted in the Good campaign of BFME, in the Amon Hen mission rescuing Boromir before he is killed when protecting Merry and Pippin allows him to be used is the following missions of the campaign
  • Giant Flyer: Both games have the Eagles for the Good side, Nazgul riding Fell Beasts (the Witch-King is a special Nazgul) for the Evil side. BFMEII features a dragon lord as a hero of the Goblin faction.
  • Giant Spider: Shelob in the Cirith Ungol mission of BFME. Goblins in BFMEII have spider-riders. They also can hire Shelob as a hero unit.
  • Giant Squid: In BFMEII, one of the Evil general powers is the summoning of the Watcher in the Water.
  • Hero Must Survive: Used in a few of levels, though others you could just summon your heroes back at your base if you had enough money.
  • Human Resources: One of the Evil factions resource producing buildings is the slaughterhouse, which produce much when feed by your own troops. More, Mordor basic infantry is litteraly free: one practical way to gain easy money is to build Orc infantry, just to send them to the slaughterhouse.
  • Hero Unit
  • Killed Off for Real: Boromir, in the BFME Evil campaign.
  • Last Stand: The Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith missions in the BFME Good campaign are a nearly hopeless siege where the player, as the defender, must resist until The Cavalry (litterally: both missions involves enforcements from Rohan) comes. There is also the last mission of the campaign, where the player must survive against endless waves of Mordor units, until Frodo reachs Mont Doom and tosses the One Ring in it.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Tom Bombadil, a summonable unit when the player a Good general skill of BFMEII.
  • Magic Knight: Gandalf looks like a Squishy Wizard (he only wears a grey/white robe, wields a sword and a staff) but he is an incredibly tough melee fighter with destructive magic spells, being one of the Good hero with the most hitpoints.
  • The Medic:
    • The Good factions have specific buildings which have this role (like the fountains in BFME)
    • Aragorn, Elrond, and Arwen have a level-1 skill ("athelas") which heals the allied heroes nearby
    • One of the magical powers granted to a Good general allows to heal allied units in a short area
  • Million Mook March: When the Orcs march toward Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Totally averted. BFME and BFMEII both have an "Evil" campaign, and the only campaign of The Rise of the Witch-king is centered on an Evil faction.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: Played straight with BFME and BFMEII, averted with The Rise of the Witch-king, being the story of the Witch-king of Angmar.
  • No Problem With Licensed Games
  • Plunder: Eomer has a skill which make the player controling him to gain money when he or allied units near him destroy enemy units and buildings. Evil factions have a general skill which has the same effect, but for every units of the player.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Every Dwarf.
  • Rape, Pillage and Burn: How end most siege missions of the Evil campaigns.
  • Recycled in Space: The series is Command & Conquer: Generals in Middle-Earth.
  • The Remnant: Near the end of the Good campaign of BFME, some optional missions set is the territory of Rohan have Isengard survivors as enemies. There is also Rohirrim enforcements to the enemy during some missions of the end of the Evil campaign.
  • RPG Elements:
    • Hero units, their level cap is 10, and they gain skills at specific levels
    • In BFMEII, players can create custom heroes (specific to each race), and choose to use one of them during multiplayer / skirmish game, and with the "War of the Ring" mode
    • Most of units gain experience and regiments gain the ability to replace fallen comrades, their level cap is 10 in BFME, and 5 in BFMEII. Some unit can be upgraded with gear better than their starting weapons / armors
    • A few buildings can level-up
    • Killing enemies and fulfilling some seconday objectives (in campaigns) grant experience to the general, which buys powers usable on the battlefield
  • Risk-Style Map:
    • Campaign map of BFME is like this. Appart from some imposed missions relating key events of the films (Helm's Deep, Isengard siege, Cirith Ungol, etc), the player can choose to conquest the region he wants. This choice influences the reward gained at the ending of the mission (general power point, increasing the Arbitrary Headcount Limit, or increasing the rate of generation of money)
    • The "War of the Ring" mode of BFMEII have two parts: a turn-based mode on a Risk-Style Map, and a real time battle when the player have to fight
  • Saved by Canon: The Evil campaign of BFME. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are met during the Amon Hen, Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith missions, where they have to be killed each time. Same thing with Faramir in the Southern Ithilien, Osgiliath, and Minas Tirith missions.
  • The Siege
  • Siege Engines
  • Suspiciously Small Army
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: The "Resist" Good general power in BFME give weapons, and light armors to Rohan peasants, making them a cheap infantry.
  • Tunnel Network: In BFMEII, both the Dwarven faction, and the Goblin faction had resource-mining structures that doubled as entrances to their respective Tunnel Networks.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The games are RTS with RPG Elements, but there is a few missions of BFME which looks a lot like a kind of cheap Dungeon Crawling game (underground dungeon, only hero units, looking for gold). The Shelob's lair mission is one of them, but features later an other Unexpected Gameplay Change: it begins like a Dungeon Crawling and ends like a standard BFME mission.
  • Veteran Unit: See RPG Elements above.
  • Victory Pose: The troops troops cheer after every successful minor skirmish. That is to say, if you send one squad of cavalry to run down one squad of orcs, they will stop and cheer once the orcs are dead. Every. Time. Well, at least morale is good. They will also cheer if a hero is present and nearby. Which makes sense for, say, Aragorn or Theoden, but the Hobbits?
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In the campaign of BFME, and in the "War of the Ring" mode of BFMEII, heroes and units are kept during the whole campaign. They gain experience and some of them can be upgraded.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Evil campaign of BFMEII has a mission when the player (commanding a Goblin army) has to conquest the Shire. When it is done, an Isengard army leaded by Grima build a base there, thanks the player for doing the dirty job, and turns against the player. The end of the mission consists in destroying it.
  • You Shall Not Pass: The Black Gate mission, ending of the Good campaign of BFME (see Last Stand above)
  • When Trees Attack: The Fangorn, and Isengard missions of BFME (both campaign). Ents (including the Treebeard hero units) can also be trained as Rohan units in BFME, and as Elven units in BFMEII.
  • Zerg Rush: Mostly used by the Mordor.
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