Mod of the Week: The Last Days, for Mount and Blade: Warband
The last time I played a Lord of the Rings mod, I made Aragorn marry a giant spider. This time, I'm not looking for weird fan-fiction nuptials but for massive fan-fiction battles. The Last Days (of The Third Age of Middle Earth) was originally released in 2011, but it's been recently updated and made newly compatible with Mount & Blade: Warband, transforming the game into Tolkien's Middle Earth.
As with the A Clash of Kings mod for Warband, I'm hoping The Last Days will give me a grounds-eye view of the War of the Ring. And, the way I figure it, nobody has a better grounds-eye view than someone who was just born in a hole in the ground. I'm going to play as an Uruk-Hai, one of Saruman's faithful grunts. Seriously, I can probably only grunt because I'm some kind of mud creature who was born six minutes ago. I name myself Grug A’Lug-Gug Gro Chug.
Naturally, my first order of business is to walk into Saruman’s chamber and have a one-on-one consultation with the big man himself, and try to impress him with my go-getter attitude. Saruman says he needs a message delivered to an ally in a nearby camp -- I guess I'll be a go-giver -- and who better to deliver important missives to military commanders than a snarling naked dirt monster?
On the way to the camp, I pass through Fangorn Forest, which turns out to be a huge mistake because of those sentient trees who are not huge fans of orc-folk. As if orcs are the only ones who cut down trees! Haven't you been to The Shire? Those Hobbit-holes are wood-paneled! Floor to ceiling! Why don't you slap them around for a change?
Anyway, the Ent slaps me around until I'm unconscious, and the few shots I get in with my bare fists don't even hurt him. I eventually wake up, drag myself out of the forest, and deliver Saruman's message, improving his opinion of me. I return to Isengard, and start running errands for anyone who has one: Saruman, Grima Wormtongue, and a couple of orc generals. Things go smoothly, except for the occasional run-in with patrolling elves, who fill me full of arrows, because of course they do, because elves are a bunch of archery dweebs.
I visit a few landmarks in my spare time. Argonath, also known as "The Pillars of Kings" or "Those Two Giant Cool River Statues From The Movies." I make my way to Morannon, the Black Gate of Mordor, just to see if I can meet with The Lidless Eye, also known as Sauron. I can't, but I do some errands for his helpers, including the one named The Mouth of Sauron, also known as "The Guy Cut Out Of The Theatrical Release." I even buy a shield with the Lidless Eye insignia, just to show my general support of evil. It looks quite striking on me as I lie unconscious on the ground after battles.
Tired of being beaten up by trees and tree-hugging elves, I start putting together an Uruk-posse. My errand running has earned me some respect, and joining one-sided skirmishes has given me enough experience to gain a couple levels and add some points in the leadership and prisoner management department. I start recruiting orcs, Uruks, and humans at every camp I visit. It's not long before I've got a couple newborn Uruk, a couple run-of-the-mill soldier orcs, and a small cavalry consisting of goblin warg-riders and Dunlander horsemen. We win some battles and take some prisoners, which I manage.
It's not long before the elven patrols who used me for target practice are fleeing before me. We're raiding enemy towns and capturing deserters. My footsoldiers are graduating to become warg riders and I'm decked out in the best Uruk armor and shields, all with matching White Hand insignia. My crew is getting fierce.
Soon, Saurman realizes my potential. He lets me in on his plan. It involves defeating a troll, capturing it, and bringing it to him in a giant cage, where the beast will be trained to fight for The White Hand. No problemo! My army is well equipped and well-prepared. We'll get that troll toot-sweet.
I ride out with my army in the middle of the night, nearly fifty of us, headed for Troll Cave, where we will find, presumably, at least one troll. As we cross the plains, a large party on horseback suddenly appears behind us, chasing us, moving fast. It's not good news.
Theoden! I thought our side had him all bewitched and catatonic. Who cleared out his mental cobwebs? I bet it was Gandalf, that busy-body. We clash with Theoden and his men, and it's an absolute slaughter. I assume it's a slaughter, anyway, I can't even see my faithful orcs and Uruks behind the wall of horses and shields, but it's pretty clear from the wall-o-text that things are not going our way.
I wake up alone, left for dead, and with my entire entourage gone. I scurry back to Isengard alone. Yes, I'll rebuild my crew. Yes, I'll get that troll for Saruman. Maybe I'll even meet Theoden again, only in a fair fight, and make him my prisoner. For the moment, though, I'm just bummed that I've gone from a bunch of Uruk-Guys back down to a single Uruk-Hai.
Installation: Your installation is going to depend on which version of the game you're using (M&B, or M&B: W) and whether you've got a Steam copy or retail. Luckily, every eventuality is covered in the mod's comprehensive installation guide, which is a PDF contained in the download folder. Either way, it's not particularly complicated. Visit the download page here. For Warband, you'll need the 3.3 Warband patch as well as the regular 3.3 mod file.