Rohan is arguably one of the hardest positions to play, though this is largely dependent on the the quality of your support. With competent heroes, Rohan’s job becomes much less stressful.
Theoden (Goliath) & Gamling (Dragoon): Rohan’s heavy hitters, sometimes called the fatties, due to their knack for getting surrounded or stuck. They can easily take out most enemy heroes, as long as they don’t get within melee range. They can be used to snipe Saruman’s elites, captains, or ballistas, but they will fall quickly to concentrated captain or ballista fire.
Eowyn & E? (Ghosts): Commonly referred to as the twins, these are your snipers. The twins are best used to snipe ballistas, or harass Saruman or his captains and Grima, with the goal of forcing them to heal. They can also be used to snipe Ugluk’s heroes, including Snaga, Drego, and the suicidal orc, but be careful. When used with Legolas (the triplets) the sniping power is quite deadly.
Eomer (Dark Templar): This is Rohan’s only melee hero. The importance of Eomer is often misunderstood. His role is essential for proper hero rotation, and he can even be the difference when holding off a swarm. Coupled with Aragorn, Eomer can defend against elites and even Snaga.
Gandalf (Dark Templar): By far the strongest hero in the game. If you survive to 0:00, Gandalf will arrive supported by ents and riders. Gandalf can be killed when concentrated by virtually all of Saruman and Ugluk’s heroes. If this happens, enemy orcs will continue to spawn (including ballistas!) and Rohan’s defeat is inevitable. Protect Gandalf at all costs.
Woman (Medics): Your most important unit, but you only need to save one. If they all die the game is over. Protect them at all costs. They can be used as a last resort to block units in a swarm, but this is easily countered.
Swordsmen (Zealots): These units are your primary defense in swarms. Reinforcements will arrive at the Great Hall periodically, so don’t be afraid to use them when needed. They should be used to protect your knights and archers, as well as block choke points when needed or surround enemy heroes. They are also effective at rushing enemy ballistas if the opportunity presents itself.
Archers (Marines): These units make up the bulk of your defense and reinforcements will arrive periodically, so long as the Great Hall stands. They work well in large groups when supported by heroes and swordsmen, but will fall quickly to Saruman’s storm, and Grima’s swarm. They cannot defend an elite attack without hero support.
Knights (Goliaths): These are your strongest non-hero units. You only get 12 knights for the duration of the game, so use them wisely. When grouped they will quickly destroy anything not protected by a swarm, but may be overwhelmed when facing all of Saruman’s elites at once, coupled with hallucinations. Like Theoden and Gamling, they will succumb quickly to concentrated ballista fire.
Ballistas (Tanks): Ballistas are your primary defense in the caves, though they have their uses at the Great Hall and the Keep, should you be careful enough not to lose them. You only get 8, and you’ll need all of them for a successful cave defense.
Riders of Rohan (Vultures): These units will arrive with Gandalf. They are fast and can be used to chase down Ugluk if needed, but aren’t particularly strong. A concentrated ballista defense with mass and elites can defeat them with relative ease.
Ents (Archons): These units also arrive with Gandalf. They will absolutely destroy anything in their path. If you’ve been pushed back to the caves get them there immediately to protect your women, then focus on chasing down Saruman and Ugluk.
Rohan controls all 5 of the games gates, using the beacons at the top of the map. All gates and their defenses are indestructible until their corresponding hinge has been destroyed. Gates 1-3 are tied to the main hinge, while gates 4 & 5 have their own hinge. Players often use the # of the gate when identifying an area of the map (ex. Legolas get to 3).
Gate 1: The primary gate to the Great Hall.
Gate 2: Controls access to the drain wall.
Gate 3: The left flank of the Great Hall. This is Legolas’ primary responsibility.
Gate 4: The rear flank of the Great Hall. Haldir will tell you when to close this.
Gate 5: The Keep gates.
Rohan’s defense is split into 3 main phases, The Great Hall, The Keep (optional), and The Caves.
Stage 1 – The Great Hall
This is where the majority of Rohan’s game is played. Failure to hold the Great Hall for at least half the game (20-25 minutes) will almost certainly result in a loss when facing a skilled Saruman.
Defense of the Great Hall can be broken down into two distinct strategies: with or without Knights. The choice of the strategy depends on the skill of Rohan and supporting heroes. A knight defense is generally considered stronger but higher risk. If you lose your knights, you will most likely not be able to defend the caves.
The bulk of your defense should be at your main gates (1). With a smaller defense on your left flank (3). Your defense of the Great Hall can be made much easier with proper hero support. Generally speaking, Legolas should hold the left flank by blocking the entrance, supported by 3-4 groups archers and 1 group of swordsmen. All Rohan heroes, as well as Aragorn or Gimli (or both) should assist the defenses at your main gates. Your primary defense should consist of 4+ groups of archers, 1 group of swordsmen (with reserves on close by), and optionally your knights. Your goal is to make it as difficult as possible for Saruman’s mass to get up your ramps, enabling you to pick off ballistas or captains, as well as harass Saruman and Grima. When Saruman’s units are healing, this is a good opportunity to either bolster your defenses, or retreat units to the Keep. Hero rotation is critical, ensure you have at least one hero protecting your knights and archers at all times. If you feel you are going to lose the Great Hall before the drain falls, make sure you give Haldir enough time to
Stage 2 – The Keep (optional)
If you’ve managed to save enough units, a defense of the Keep with excess archers may buy some extra time. The success of a Keep defense is largely depended on how many heroes have survived. The heal is quite far, making hero rotation difficult.
In general however, the Keep is primarily used to harass Saruman and Ugluk, using all surviving heroes. Keep a group of swordsmen nearby in case an opportunity presents itself to rush some ballistas. Ballistas will play a critical role in the caves and the more you can destroy here the better your chances of survival.
Stage 3 – The Caves
For a successful cave defense, you’re going to need all of your ballistas and knights as well as adequate hero support. If you’ve done a good job at eliminating enemy ballistas and heroes, your chance of success will be much higher.
There are 3 general defense points, one at each bend of the caves. Your available defenses and heroes will determine which bend to defend.
1st Bend: Only attempt to defend the 1st bend if you’ve managed to save a lot of archers (either Rohan or Haldir) and swordsmen. Your knights should be positioned on the bend, with the archers protecting the left flank, and your ballistas covering the entrance. This will make it difficult for Saruman and Ugluk to overwhelm your defenses. A 1st bend defense is a prime opportunity to take out Saruman’s elites, or even Grima, using your ballistas. However, if your ballistas are overwhelmed by enemy ballistas, you will need to fall back. Do not lose your ballistas. If you lose your left flank, you may also need to fall back as your knights alone can get overwhelmed easily. Use your heroes to rush exposed units when it’s safe to do so.
2nd Bend: This is generally the best defensive point in the caves. The nature of unit pathing here makes enemy units move in a narrow stream making it difficult to overwhelm your knights. More importantly, your ballistas can cover the entire 2nd bend, making it extremely difficult for Saruman to use Grima without taking fire. You’re primary threat here is enemy ballistas and Grima. Destroy them with your ballistas as soon as they come into range, and if you have swordsmen left, don’t hesitate to rush them as well.
3rd Bend: If you fall back to 3rd bend, you’re success depends on how many surviving ballistas and knights you have. If you’ve managed to save most or all of them, you may still survive. If not, you’re women will surely be raped by orcs. The same goals apply, target enemy ballistas and Grima with your ballistas, and harass any surviving enemy heroes using any of your surviving heroes.
Stage 4 – Gandalf & The Rider’s of Rohan
If you’ve made it this far, you’re not out of the woods yet. If Saruman and Ugluk have a significant amount of mass in the caves, you should primarily focus on defending their first, especially if you’ve been pushed back to the 3rd bend. Get your ents
Tips & Tricks
Pay attention! Setting up a proper defense is important, but shouldn’t be your primary focus. To adequately defend as Rohan, you need to know what Saruman is doing at all times. If you are caught off guard in a swarm, or lose key units while managing your army, this could ultimately result in you losing the Great Hall sooner than anticipated.
Retreat on YOUR terms: If you’re facing skilled opponents, you will ultimately need to retreat at some point. The key is to retreat when the enemy is not in a position to push you and possibly trap your units, this usually occurs near the end of a mass, or when key units are healing.