I find it oddly charming and comforting that even in the deepest midst of Sauron’s domain and power there exists a tribe of free folk who stubbornly cling to their land even as the enemy encamps all around them. I gladly accepted the offer to head into the Red Sky Clan’s camp and visit with these wild natives, feeling refreshed to see friendly faces and architecture that isn’t trying to secure a spot on a heavy metal album cover.
OK, so it’s no four-star Hilton, but after a couple of zones of unrelenting hostility and no real “good guy” camps, I’m almost weeping with joy to see this. It makes me miss the more upbeat areas elsewhere in Middle-earth, and I make a mental effort to push that aside and focus on the task at hand, lest I get bogged down in despair.
It doesn’t take long before I convince the tribe to help me and whatever non-puking Rangers there are about to assault the nearby fortress of Kala-Gijak. Everyone assembles, a hush falls over the swamp, and then the head Ranger tells me to go in solo and pretty much kill everyone, destroy everything, and then stand aside as the army rolls in afterward to claim all the credit. Uh… no. Why don’t you come with me? I mean, the second I start killing people — and you want me to slaughter at least 30 Orcs! — it’s going to arouse a little suspicion and negate any advantage that surprise would have. Let’s just go together?
Fine. But I’m keeping all of the Orc ears this time.
Fortunately, I do bump into a wandering Minstrel who just so happens to be doing the exact same quests as I. We gladly team up and start taking the place down. With one player, it would have been a horrible slog, but with two, it became pretty tolerable. I would assume that more would just steamroll the place. Gee. Wish there was an army at my back.
Methodically, we go through the camp, towing death behind us as an overworked, underpaid intern. My companion does seem to run literal circles around every enemy he attacks, but as he’s contributing both DPS and heals, I’m not in a position to complain.
Mission accomplished, we hack our way out and return to the camp, feeling that we could have single-handedly won the War of the Ring if only Aragorn had put us onto the field sooner.