So you want to succeed in Guardians of Middle Earth?(GOME) right? Well, you’re going to need all the help you can get, because GOME is a complex game which is made even tougher because it is played almost exclusively online against other human beings. Don’t worry though, because XBLA Fans is here to help. Below are some of the most useful hints for new players, along with a few more subtle strategies which even experienced players are sure to benefit from:

Learn how to play:

GOME belongs to the MOBA (Multi-Player Online Battle Arena) genre of games, which are few and far between on Microsoft’s Xbox console. As such, it is a good idea that anyone new to the genre should play through all of the GOME Tutorials as well as a number of Skirmish battles (the only mode which features entirely AI controlled opponents) before hitting the XBLA servers. The Skirmish mode is a great way to learn how to use different characters and ability combinations and even at higher levels, to test relic and gem?loadouts with no ranking or win/loss ratio consequences.

Invest Wisely:

Cash in GOME is earned very slowly, with 1,000 coins being awarded for every profile level (after reaching level 2 which earns 5,000) and an average of 300-600 being awarded after each battle depending upon the outcome. New players will be tempted to buy up all of the unlockable characters at the cost of 5,000 each, which will leave very little money for relics, gems and potions, all three of which can be very useful. It’s good advice that you focus on one or two characters at a time, learning how to use them effectively and maximising the earnings from each match, whilst also making the character tougher and tougher through the relic system.

Have the right loadout:

All of the best Call of Duty players have numerous, fully customised loadouts set up just how they want. Having the right setup is even more important in GOME, because once the match begins, you will be stuck with the character, relics, abilities and potions that you chose at the ?outset and you’ll need to make everything count if you want to win! Create a loadout for each character you like to play with, or (especially at low level when you have less loadout slots) have one for each style of play. Just by way of example, use healing, toughness and life leech relic/gem sets and potions in one loadout which you will use for melee combat or duelling with other Guardians; then have another loadout with lots of ability boosting/cooldown reduction benefits for use with a spellcasting or ability damage specialist. We’ll include more on loadouts in our Good/Evil Character Guides.

Control the battlefield:

Shrines can be underestimated in GOME, as can the neutral monsters which appear in fixed locations around the map. Capturing most (or all) of the shrines early on in a game can often enable Guardians to heal whilst remaining in lane, because the 2 point health regeneration makes the biggest difference whilst health bars are low. Once battle is joined, many players overlook the shrines and rush straight into a chosen lane, so this is a useful strategy in winning the early rush for levels. Once the neutral monsters appear on the map and your Guardian is say, level 8 or better, then it can be worth taking them out. Sure, the experience bonus is nominal, but if you check your passive bonuses after killing one of these monsters, you’ll notice a range of beneficial effects which not all players know exist. Later in the game, if you’re above 50% health and don’t want to fall back using recall, remember to use the green flowers for some decent healing too.

Upgrade your Towers and Strongholds:

As your Guardian gains levels in battle, he or she will also gain the ability to upgrade the soldiers dispatched up each lane, or the capabilities of any given Tower. The ability to unlock the next upgrade occurs at levels 6, 9 and 12 and it is well worth making sure that your team upgrades all Towers and Strongholds whenever possible, because having a Guardian reach level 12 before the other team can have a huge effect on the effectiveness of your AI mobs. At 12, you’ll find that you can configure towers for either maximum damage or to heal members of your team, so choose wisely. Similarly at level 12, you can set Strongholds to dispense either elite mobs who specialise in dealing damage to other mobs or Guardians, or you can set the lane up for destroying towers by choosing the siege option. Again this needs to be carefully considered depending upon how the battle is progressing.

Beware of Towers:

GOME features a number of rules regarding towers, many of which will result in the death of your Guardian should you be careless. Firstly, Towers will target mobs over you, as long as the mob moved into range first, so never attack a tower alone. Secondly, if a tower is damaging you, then the damage will get greater with each hit until you are either dead, or out of range. Thirdly, if you attack an enemy Guardian whilst in range of a tower, it will immediately switch from attacking the mobs to attacking you. In GOME, it’s never a good idea to attack a tower on your own; that’s exactly what the mobs are for.

Use teamwork:

Unless you’re playing with a party of friends, you’ll often find your Guardian is on the same team as at least one or two other players. It’s always worth chatting to them during setup to see if you can use complimentary characters or loadouts and if possible, to arrange your approach to attacking the lanes in advance. This is often wishful thinking with a team of random gamers, but the difference between good and bad teamwork in a true MOBA like GOME will almost always decide the battle.

Retreat IS an option:

Try to remember that every time your Guardian dies in GOME, the enemy team will gain 10 points. It very, very rarely pays dividends if you charge into battle widly and go down in a blaze of, well, whatever the opposite of glory is. Instead, pick your fights carefully and be aware of how much base and ability damage your character does. If you are the only Guardian in any particular encounter, make sure you can defeat your enemy before you engage them, or ensure you have a safe fallback position before you do so. Typically, engaging guardians 1 on 1 when both are at full health will rarely result in a kill, so don’t chase back to an enemy tower or anything silly like that. If you do have to retreat, don’t be ashamed to do so, get to a safe place (behind a tower or in a remote bush etc) and then use the Recall ability (Back button) to return your Guardian to base where they will regain health.

With luck, mixing these strategies with those in our Good and Evil Character Guides will provide you with the skills you need to best the warriors of Middle Earth.