"Palantir of Saruman FAQ" (version 1.24)
-an in-depth FAQ for the Electronic Arts game "Lord of the Rings: Return of the
King" for Nintendo Gamecube

by deathslinger (deathslinger@yahoo.com)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Contents:

0. Version Notes
1. Preamble
2. Overview
3. Action-specific Strategies
4. Enemy-specific Strategies
5. Fellowship Upgrades
6. General Tips
7. Walkthrough
8. Statistics for different characters and settings
9. Postscript
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------
0. Version Notes
----------------

Version 1.24 (25/01/05):

-updated copyright information


Version 1.23 (24/01/05)

-added effect of difficulty settings (see section 8)
-replaced "level" with "stage" where appropriate


Version 1.22 (19/01/05 - 20/01/05)

-tweaked strategy for attacking Trolls
-changed "Backstep" to "Jump Back"


Version 1.2 (17/01/05 - 18/01/05):

-completed General Tips section
-added level 6 Fellowship Upgrades
-changed some minor formatting details in Walkthrough section
-will add Troll starting layouts for Waves 18-20 in a future update
-need to research effects of different difficulty settings


Version 1.1 (15/01/05):

-finished the Palantir of Saruman at 5pm today with Pippin at level one; stats
as follows:
   481365xp, level 6; 48 perfect, 44 excellent, 83 good, 64 fair
   mission experience: 59975xp
   mission rating: excellent + 3000xp
-revised all sections
-finished walkthrough
-updated strategies for killing Trolls


Version 1.0 (28/11/04):

-this was a preliminary version; will add game details at a future date
-will add other specifics if there is enough demand


-----------
1. Preamble
-----------

Currently, this FAQ demands working knowledge of the game Lord of the Rings:
Return of the King (herein referred to as "ROTK").  If there is a demand for
it, I will include some basic information for the game; but for now, you'll
have to find that elsewhere.  There are several decent general FAQs available
at www.GameFAQs.com.

Note that I have only tested the controls and strategies used in this FAQ on
the Nintendo Gamecube system.  Although they are generally transferable to
other platforms, I have not actually tested them on other consoles.


-----------
2. Overview
-----------

The Palantir of Saruman is an unlockable stage, available upon completion of
the regular game (i.e. the stage "The Crack of Doom").  The stage consists of
twenty Waves of enemies, from Dead Archers to Huge Trolls, attacking you in a
closed circular battleground with a rock in the middle.  This FAQ will tell you
how to finish this stage using a level one Hobbit.

To be specific, this FAQ is based on finishing the Palantir of Saruman with
Pippin on the "normal" difficulty setting, starting at level one (i.e. Pippin
has not yet successfully completed any other stage(s)), with all Fellowship
Upgrades, on the Nintendo Gamecube.  Though the strategies are transferable to
other characters, difficulty settings and consoles, I have not actually tested
all of them as such.  I will continue to update this FAQ to reflect the
knowledge gained from using other characters and settings.

Note that many of the strategies mentioned in this FAQ are applicable in most
of the game's other stages.  Thus, although written exclusively for the
purposes of finishing the Palantir of Saruman with a weak character, this FAQ
will provide the reader with strategies for use in other, unspecified sections
of ROTK.


-----------------------------
3. Action-specific Strategies
-----------------------------

Speed Attack:  Use to kill Dead, Uruks, Dead Archers, Uruk Archers, Spiders,
Big Spiders, Dead Champions, Small Trolls, Trolls, Huge Trolls.  Use to finish
off Shielded Dead, Shielded Uruks, Uruk Champions.

Physical Attack:  Use as part of the Final Judgment combo.

Fierce Attack:  Use to break shields/armour for Shielded Dead, Shielded Uruks,
Uruk Champions.

Killing Move:  Use as part of the Final Judgment combo.  Time/space permitting,
use to kill Dead, Uruks on the ground.

Parry:  Use whenever not moving or attacking.  Use especially when surrounded.

Ranged Attack:  Use to kill Small Trolls, Trolls, Huge Trolls.  Hold the
required Ranged Attack buttons for several seconds in order to fire a fully
powered missile; a fully powered missile will remove half a Troll's health.

Jump Back:  Use to escape from a mob of shielded enemies to a clearer area,
where you can see more clearly and plan your next strike more easily.

Special Ability:  Use when health is low; use invisibility to pick up health
potions without getting hit.  Unfortunately, you move really slowly, so you
generally only lose it if you're really stuck and desperately need an out.

Action Move:  Not Applicable.


----------------------------
4. Enemy-specific Strategies
----------------------------

(Remember that these are all Pippin-specific details.  The other Hobbits are
not as strong, and take an extra attack or two to kill the enemies.)

Dead:  Use 2 Speed Attacks to kill
Uruk:  Use 3 Speed Attacks to kill
Dead Archers:  Use 2 Speed Attacks to kill
Uruk Archers:  Use 2 Speed Attacks to kill
Shielded Dead:  Use 1 Fierce Attack to break shield, 2 Speed Attacks to kill
Shielded Uruk:  Use 1 Fierce Attack to break shield, 4 Speed Attacks to kill
Spider:  Use 4 Speed Attacks to kill
Big Spider:  Use 4 Speed Attacks to kill
Dead Champion:  Use Speed Attacks to kill
Uruk Champion:  Use 3 Fierce Attacks to break armour, Speed Attacks to kill
Small Troll:  Use Speed Attacks in Perfect Mode to kill
Troll:  Use (2 full powered) Ranged Attacks to kill
Huge Troll:  Use (2 full powered) Ranged Attacks to kill


-----------------------
5. Fellowship Upgrades:
-----------------------

There are two reasons for purchasing Fellowship Upgrades while completing the
game, prior to attempting a low-level completion of the Palantir of Saruman:

  1)  it's the natural thing to do, being more cost effective and helpful in
completing the game.

  2)  having stronger health will help immensely during a low-level completion
of the Palantir of Saruman.


(Remember that the following are all Hobbit-specific details; other characters
receive different Fellowship Upgrades at different levels.)

Level 2

Orc Bane:  Useless, as there are no Orcs in the Palantir of Saruman.
Orc Hewer:  Not recommended, as it takes too long to execute the final attack.
Final Judgment:  Time/space permitting, use to kill Dead, Uruks, Dead Archers,
Uruk Archers, Shielded Dead, Shielded Uruks.


Level 3

Rising Revenge:  If you are knocked down, a Speed Attack (or a Fierce Attack)
will bring you to your feet by attacking the enemies around you.  Not
particularly useful, as you shouldn't be knocked down in the first place.
Strength of Stone:  Health is always welcome.


Level 4

Balrog's Gambit:  Useless, as the Champions fall back too far for the final
blow to connect.
Warrior Bane:  Useless, as there are no Orcs or Men in the Palantir of Saruman
(it does not affect Dead, Uruks, Spiders or Trolls).


Level 5

Strength of Iron:  Health is always welcome.
Dark Deliverance:  Too difficult to execute to be useful.


Level 6

Shield Cleaver:  Too difficult to execute, and gained too late to be useful.
Bane of Sauron:  You can use this on the Shielded Uruks in Wave 20 and use the
resulting Perfect Mode on the Dead Champions and Archers.  That's about it.


---------------
6. General Tips
---------------

First, note:  after every Wave, you get one red health potion
              after every five Waves, you get one refill of 20 missiles

1)  Save potions.  In particular, the five potions dropped by the Dead
Champions in Wave 16 will refill your health fully, assuming you don't get hit
(which I find fairly easy to do now); therefore, don't use the potions sitting
on the ground in front of you unless you absolutely need to, since you can
refill your health in Waves 16, 17, 19 and 20 from the potions the Champions
drop.  Note also that the potions dropped by Champions do not linger
indefinitely.  Generally, I only use potions when my health meter is red, or
when I'm on Wave 20.


2)  Save missiles.  You don't need to use any missiles on any non-Troll enemies
(and indeed, it's hard to use them against the Archers and the Champions
without getting hit), so save the missiles for the Trolls in Waves 18-20, where
you need them.  If you don't spend any missiles, you won't pick up any missiles
if you accidentally walk into the refills.  Note that the refills increase your
missiles either by 20 or to a maximum of 30, whichever is lower.  So if you
fire one missile and then pick up a refill, you've essentially lost 19 missiles
for no good reason.

Now actually, I only use 10 missiles (2 each for five of the Trolls) in the
entire Palantir.  But I still save them, "just in case."


3)  Parry as if your life depends on it; because it does.  Parrying will
deflect every enemy attack (except a Troll's) at you from Archers' arrows to
Shielded Uruks' long pikes to Uruk Champions' huge spikey clubs, even if you're
surrounded.  If you're hit, it's because you either let up slightly while
Parrying, or were still finishing another action when you pressed the Parry
button, and thus didn't Parry as soon as you thought/hoped you would.  As a
bonus, sometimes a successful Parry will register as a successful Attack on the
enemy you Parried.

Parry also helps fill up your Perfect Meter.  You can use this strategically to 
get into Perfect Mode by deflecting several volleys of arrows or Parrying some
attacks amidst your own Speed Attacks.  Note that if you are hit, your Perfect
Meter resets, so Parrying is pretty much a good thing in all respects.


4)  Have patience.  Particularly when you're surrounded by shielded enemies and
Archers, you want to be very careful when you attempt to break a shield/armour.
Whenever I try to rush through a Wave, I inevitably get hit more than I
normally do.  Be patient, and eventually there will be a time when the Archers
have finished with their volley and the melee foes have spent their attacks
harmlessly, and you have lots of time to execute that Fierce Attack.  Remember:
you can Parry everything (except Trolls).


5)  Vs. Archers: keep moving.  If you don't move, you will get hit by arrows.
If you Parry, you won't move much.  The solution is to keep moving, dodging as
appropriate whenever a volley of arrows is released.  I try to head straight
for the nearest Archer, then veer to the side briefly when the Archer fires
(they fire consistently in rhythm).

Also, try not to get frustrated with how far the Dead Archers float away as you
approach.  Just be patient.


6)  Vs. shielded/armoured enemies: beware, for they cooperate.  It's more
obvious with the Uruk Champions, but still noticeable with the Shielded Uruks
Dead.  Basically, avoid the instinct to use a Fierce Attack on the enemy that
just finished attacking you (unsuccessfully, due to your Parries), because his
"friend" nearby will notice and attack you in the middle of your Fierce Attack.
When a few Uruks/Champions have finished attacking you, use a Fierce Attack on
the one that didn't attack you moments ago.

If there's only one enemy near you, then you can safely break his shield/armour
immediately after he attacks you.  Beware, however; those Uruk Champions can
cover a lot of distance in a short while.  Understanding how the Uruk Champions
cooperate is essential to finishing Wave 17.


7)  Vs. Trolls: charge your missiles.  Charging a missile to full power will
take several seconds, but will cause a Troll to lose half its health (if you're
Pippin at level five).  Therefore, two missiles will kill a Troll.
Alternately, several Speed Attacks while in Perfect Mode will dispatch a Troll,
but you must be careful: all your attacks must hit the Troll, or he will have
enough time to give your character a good smashing.


8)  Jump Back.  This is something I don't use enough, as I'm usually thinking
about the enemies on the screen and simply forget that I can Jump Back.  If
you're surrounded by shielded enemies and just can't seem to find an opening to
execute a Fierce Attack, turn to face the enemies, and hit the Jump Back
button.  You'll move back several paces, and then you can either turn and run,
or Jump Back again.  Use this ability to give yourself time and space to set up
your next attack.


--------------
7. Walkthrough
--------------

Symbols:  O - the rock in the middle of the battleground
          x - an enemy
          d - Dead or Dead Archer
          u - Uruk or Uruk Archer
          D - Shielded Dead or Dead


Wave 1:  14 Dead
-------------
     x x
   xx   xx
  x       x
 x    O    x
  x       x
   x     x
-------------
Run up the middle, wait for the first attack (parrying if necessary), then use
Speed Attacks to the right.  When you get near the end of the line of Dead, go
left.  Parry sparingly.  You can also do this in the opposite direction, if you
prefer.  If done correctly, you should be in Perfect Mode rather quickly, and
should gain enough experience to get to level two by the end of the Wave.


Wave 2:  14 Uruks
-----------------------------
(same formation as in Wave 1)
-----------------------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 1.  In general, when Dead or Uruks are
approaching you in a line, try to attack them "almost head-on"; move to a
position beside where the line will pass, and attack them as they pass you,
moving in the opposite direction to where they are moving.

Use Final Judgment at will (just because you can...and you'll be stuck with one
less "fair" kill), when you're not in danger of being attacked soon.


Wave 3:  7 Dead, 7 Uruks
-------------
     d u
   dd   uu
  d       u
 d    O    u
  d       u
   d     u
-------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 1.  I prefer to take out the Uruks first, as
they don't float/glide/fall away as readily as the Dead do, making it easier to
get into Perfect Mode faster.  You should gain enough experience to get to
level three by the end of the Wave.


Wave 4:  8 Dead Archers
-----------
   x   x
 x       x
 x   O   x
   x   x
-----------
Run towards the closest Archer; you should be able to kill him before the first
volley of arrows is released.  Parry the volley.  Kill the other Archers one by
one with Speed Attacks.  Try to keep moving rather than stopping at periodic
intervals to parry.  Run directly towards the closest Archer, then move
perpendicular to that direction (sidestep, essentially) to avoid the volley of
arrows when you sense them coming (note that they fire at regular intervals,
unless they're hit, or you get close to them).


Wave 5:  7 Uruk Archers
-----------
   x   x
  x     x

 x   O   x
     x
-----------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 4.  Uruk Archers are actually easier to take
out, as they don't float away as drastically when you approach them.


Wave 6:  5 Dead Archers, 5 Uruk Archers
-------------
  u       u
 d         d
      O
  ddd   uuu
-------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 4.  If you wish, stand where you are at the
beginning and parry until you reach Perfect Mode, then start killing Archers. 
I prefer to kill the three Dead Archers near the front first.


Wave 7:  6 Shielded Dead
-----------
     O
 xxx   xxx
-----------
Run to one side as far as you can, then parry the blows.  Use Fierce Attacks on
the two Dead that just attacked you to break their shields.  Use Speed Attacks
on the latter and Parry all blows.  Use Fierce Attacks on the Shielded Dead
when an opening appears (e.g. all enemies surrounding you have just attacked
you, so you know they won't attack you quite yet).


Wave 8:  6 Shielded Uruks
-----------------------------
(same formation as in Wave 7)
-----------------------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 7.


Wave 9:  4 Shielded Dead, 4 Shielded Uruks
-------------
      O
 uuuu   dddd
-------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 7.


Wave 10:  6 Dead, 6 Uruk Archers
-------------
 uuu     uuu
      O
  ddd   ddd
-------------
Kill the Dead, then go after the Archers, being careful to Parry the arrows and
use Speed Attacks when not being attacked.  If you wish, run quickly to one
side, until you are between the two groups of Archers (though closer to one).
Parry the arrows until you get close/into Perfect Mode, then kill the Dead.


Wave 11:  3 Big Spiders, 30 Spiders
---------------------------
(There's a lot of Spiders.)
---------------------------
Run to one side, until you pass the bulk of the Spiders.  Then turn around and
start killing.  Seldom Parry, but don't be afraid to, as most Spiders don't get
knocked down completely, springing back to attack a little too quickly.

You should be able to get into Perfect Mode at least three times.  Also, you
should gain enough experience to get to level four by the end of the Wave.


Wave 12:  6 Shielded Dead, 5 Uruk Archers
-------------
    u u u
 u    O    u
  ddd   ddd
-------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 7.  Don't use a potion unless absolutely
necessary.


Wave 13:  6 Shielded Uruks, 5 Dead Archers
-------------
 dd       dd
      d
      O
  uuu   uuu
-------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 7.  Don't use a potion unless absolutely
necessary.


Wave 14:  4 Shielded Dead, 4 Uruks, 4 Dead Archers
---------------
     d   d
 d           d
       O
  uDDu   uDDu
---------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 7.  Don't use a potion unless absolutely
necessary.


Wave 15:  6 Shielded Uruks, 4 Dead, 3 Dead Archers
---------------
   d   d   d
       O
 DDuuu   uuuDD
---------------
Use the same strategy as in Wave 7.  Don't use a potion unless absolutely
necessary.


Wave 16:  5 Dead Champions
-----------
 xx  O  xx
     x
-----------
Use (exclusively) Speed Attacks.  Try to kill one Champion and pick up the
health potion he drops before hacking at the others.  When you see a Champion
swinging his swords quickly about his head, get ready to parry; your Speed
Attacks will not be enough to parry his attacks.  Parry judiciously.

If you're skilled, you may be able to get into Perfect Mode.  Regardless, you
should gain enough experience to get to level five by the end of the Wave.


Wave 17:  4 Uruk Champions
---------
 x  O  x
  x   x
---------
You will need to use 3 Fierce Attacks in order to break the armour on any given
Champion.  Again, try to take out one before taking on the others.  This is
more difficult than in Wave 17, so at least try to break the armour of one
Champion before moving on to the next.  Even better, break his armour and
reduce his health until his health meter is yellow (so you can distinguish him
from the others) before moving on to the others.

When a Champion finishes attacking you, try to break the armour of the other
Champion near you.  They tend to cooperate, so if you attack the Champion that
just attacked you, another Champion will tend to run at you and attack while
you're delivering that Fierce Attack.


Wave 18:  3 Trolls, 1 Small Troll, ~20 Spiders

Carefully kill the Spiders, bit by bit, while running around, avoiding the
Trolls.  Kill the Trolls at the end with two missiles each.

If you wish, you can use the Spiders to get into Perfect Mode, then kill a
Troll (or two) with your uber-Speed Attacks.


Wave 19:  1 Huge Troll, ~2 Spiders, 2 Champion Dead, 4 Shielded Uruks

Carefully kill everything but the Troll, while running around avoiding the
Troll.  Break shields when you get a chance, and if the Troll moves in your
direction, run, taking care to parry any attacks from the Uruks and the Dead.
As soon as you see the Troll turn around, you can stop running and start
attacking, but don't move too far in the Troll's direction, or he'll make
another about-face and head towards you again.


Wave 20:  2 Huge Trolls, ~? Spiders, ~4 Dead Champions, ~6 Shielded Uruks, ~6
Dead Archers

Kamikaze the Trolls.  Basically, it's too difficult to run around avoiding the
Trolls, because there's so much stuff (i.e. lesser enemies) around to slow you
down, and the two Trolls tend to move in opposite directions, giving you less
time to kill the other enemies while running away from the Trolls.  So, let
them come towards you at the beginning, and attack them (with Speed Attacks)
outright.  They won't move or swing too much, as they are also limited by all
the lesser enemies running amok in addition to each other (both Trolls head
toward you, but bump into each other as a result).  Meanwhile, whenever you get
hit, you'll pick up one of those health potions you've been saving.

Try not to get confused or aggravated by the apparent glitches in Wave 20.  The
Trolls will sometimes disappear and reappear several steps away from where they
were, without warning and for no apparent reason.  Don't let it bother you.

Take out the two Trolls, and the rest is easy.  Congratulations!  You've just
beaten the Palantir of Saruman with a level one Hobbit!


---------------------------------------------------
8. Statistics for different characters and settings
---------------------------------------------------

Difficulty:  It appears that the level of difficulty only affects the amount of
health lost by the character.  The Normal setting causes 50% more damage than
the Easy setting, and the Hard setting causes twice the damage caused under the
Easy setting.  (E.g. Pippin's health meter (starting at 100%) will turn yellow
after 8 hits by a Dead under the Easy setting, 6 hits under the Normal setting,
and 4 hits under the Hard setting.)

Sam, Frodo, Merry:  It appears that in general, the non-Pippin Hobbits require
50% more attacks against an enemy to kill it than Pippin does.  It may be that
they require less than 50% more attacks, but it is true that anything killed by
2 of Pippin's Speed Attacks will need 3 of another Hobbit's Speed Attacks.


-------------
9. Postscript
-------------

If you have found this FAQ helpful, informative or interesting at all, please
feel free to e-mail me at deathslinger@yahoo.com.

If you have any comments, questions, concerns, requests, criticisms,
suggestions, etc., please feel free to e-mail me.

If you would like to contribute information for this FAQ, please feel free to
e-mail me.  You will be credited accordingly.

Thanks to EAGames for creating The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,
Nintendo for creating the Gamecube and GameFAQs for hosting this FAQ.

Thanks to M. Molnar for saying, "It can't be done!" in response to my proposal
to finish the Palantir of Saruman with a level one Hobbit, thus motivating me
to take up the challenge, which in turn motivated me to write this FAQ.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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