Ned has inspired me to write a piece on the freep in CME so here goes! I love the freep in ME, give me armies and emmies every day, and when I first heard about CME, I honestly didn’t even get to the DS section!
I love how you have access to all these great characters (including Hobbits!) from LoTR in CME. In other ME games, apart from a couple of long lived elves, most freep characters aren’t from the books. It’s the complete opposite in CME! So for role players like me, you are in for a treat!
Having said that, here is my strategy, taken straight from the books!
Gandalf and Frodo. Very appropriate it all starts with those 2. This time we won’t lose Gandalf trying to take down Saruman, he’s handy enough at gray.
Where would Frodo be without his buddies? (1) Sam and the munchkins it is.
After joining up, they all went into the old
forest and got eaten by a tree. (2) Tom and his missus to the rescue!
Onto Bree, where (3) Aragorn is supposed to be but instead he is off in Lorien, randy bastard.
The next choice is hard because armies are fun. But I’ve only got 12 NPCs so some have to miss the cut. So even though he is in the books, old (A) Glordindel has to miss out. Plus the noldo didn’t fight in LoTR so it wouldn’t be fair to get that army of his.
Arwen and her dad (4) Elrond do play an important part in the FoTR so they are next. Plus there would be no fellowship if not for the Big E!
So no choice with the next few picks. We’ve got (5) Legolas, (6) Gimli and (7) Boromir. Then off we go to Lorien to finish off the first book with (8) Galadriel.
That rounds off the NPCs until turn 11. At this point, the camp limit has been well and truly reached thanks to all the camps the hobbits, elves and the Bombadils have made. Actually it probably was turn 5 the camp limit was reached! No armies at this point but that’s also true to the story. Mage strength is great, lots of RAs and LATs being cast. Every hidden pop a city, yeah why not.
Now onto my favourite book, the TTs. All the action is in the first half, though in the second part, Gollum helps out a lot. So saying that, doubling Gollum will be our main goal with Frodo and Sam - whilst moving one hex at a turn towards Mt Doom. Yep, gotta love role playing!
Out west, I’ve got 2 picks from 3 to choose from. They all figure prominently in the book so decisions decisions! I’m going to go with (9) Theoden and (10) Eowyn though it is very tempting to get (B) Treebeard just because you get 3 ents! But Treebeard’s extras are not that great IMO so he’s cut. Plus now I have armies and commanders to play with!
And they are needed. We are onto the last book now and Minas Tirith is probably under siege. So along comes (11) Denethor* and (12) Faramir* to help out.
*you could argue that when Boromir joined, the rest of the family should too. Gondor was already fighting at this time so from that perspective, these 2 could be bumped up to picks 8 and 9. Eowyn and all her cav then become the last pick, which also sort of makes sense in that she will get to ride to Minas Tirith when all seems lost.
Honourable mention. Ghan-buri-Ghan - he’s in the book and he has a kick arse SNA. Maybe toss the traitor Boromir for him instead?
By this stage, lots of pops, lots of comms, lots of opportunities to have lots of armies to distract the DS whilst your emmies are flipping his major towns left, right and centre. Yes, that is the way of the freep lol, good luck!