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The Siege in Shadow of War

February 11, 2023
The Siege in Shadow of War

Shadow of War is the sequel to the critically acclaimed open-world action game, Shadow of Mordor. It features an advanced nemesis system, robust skill trees, and an epic story set in the world of Lord of the Rings.

Despite these great features, it’s difficult to recommend the game to anyone who’s not a fan of the genre. That’s because the increased scope has bloated Shadow of War, which feels too big to be enjoyable.

Fight Pits

After conquering Nurnen, you’ll unlock Fight Pits in each region. These are asynchronous online fight pits where you send one of your orcs into battle against another, largely without your input.

Assuming you have a Follower of sufficient skill level and a matchup that has a weakness you can exploit, the pits are fairly straightforward to win. You’ll probably want to pick a Follower with a trait that can quickly kill your opponent – a caster or a caragor, for example.

Aside from the fact that the pits themselves are a bit difficult to win, there is also some risk involved in sending your orcs into battle. They’re fighting against opponents whose levels are several times higher than yours, so there’s always the possibility that your orc will die.

Thankfully, Monolith has been able to patch these issues with fixes and the new mode will be available for everyone to try as of today. It’s a free add-on, so head on over and give it a shot.


The Siege in Shadow of War is a key part of the endgame, but it’s not as easy to take on as you might think. Essentially, it’s a set of 20 Sieges where you’ll have to defend your Fortresses against multiple invaders.

You’ll need to recruit Armies of comparable level and then upgrade your Fortresses with defensive measures. This requires some grinding and will be essential if you want to progress through the game’s endgame content with ease.

Each Fortress in Middle-earth: Shadow of War has 2-6 Warchiefs who are all tasked with defending the fortress against invasion. They’re armed with bodyguards and are assigned specific areas of the Fortress’ defenses to attack.

Each Warchief also has a special siege ability which indicates the type of troops they’ll bring to the fight. Some will command drakes, while others may lead fire-launching siege beasts or Caragor riders. Regardless of what they bring, it’s important to fine-tune your Fortress’s defensive upgrades accordingly so that you can counter any attacking Orcs.

Nemesis System

The Nemesis System was one of the most groundbreaking features of the Lord of the Rings-themed action stealth game, Shadow of Mordor and its sequel Shadow of War. It’s at the center of some controversy now thanks to a recent legal decision, but Warner Bros. might be interested in reusing the concept down the line.

Nemesis Identifiers are based on three key factors. Traits, Location and Power Levels.

Each Nemesis has their own list of Traits, which change as they grow in Power Level (generally removing Weaknesses and adding Strengths). A Nemesis’ Power Level can also affect how they deal damage in battle and their general toughness.

In addition, each Nemesis has a unique Location that indicates where they are located within the region. These Locations are also used in interactions with other Uruks.

During combat, the Nemesis System helps make each encounter feel personal and epic. Whether it’s an orc remembering the last time you fought them, their best friend jumping into combat to defend them, or dynamic voice lines about your previous encounter, the Nemesis System really elevates fighting Orcs and makes them feel like true characters rather than just random enemies.


Shadow of War is a lot like its predecessor, 2014’s excellent Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It’s a game about building up an army of forces and then attempting to bludgeon them out of existence in an asynchronous online fortress siege.

It’s a fun and rewarding experience that can be replayed endlessly. That’s what its makers seem to be hoping for, too.

So they’ve gone ahead and added a new mode to the game: Fight Pits. These are automated, 1v1 duels between your Followers and an enemy.

If your Follower wins, they get a few levels and gear – but if they lose, they’re out of your game forever.

This is an interesting design decision, as it’s a little similar to the randomness that underpins some of Shadow of War’s late-game, asynchronous online fortress sieges. It feels a little imbalanced and a little too random at the moment, and either they need to be improved or I need to understand how the orc attribute system works better in order to get good results out of these fight pits.

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