The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

January 19, 2015

A Memorandum Found at a Campsite in the Udûn Valley

Filed under: Games — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 1:08 am

A quick note of explanation:  Lately I’ve been spending quite a bit of time playing Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a recently released open-world hack-and-slash game.  Based in the Tolkien Legendarium but sharing only the most tenuous of connections with anything in the Lord of the Rings books or movies (basically a cameo appearance by Gollum and that’s pretty much it,) you play as Talion, a Ranger of Gondor whose family was murdered by the Black Hand of Sauron, aided by the wraith Celebrimbor, an undead Elven prince with a bone to pick with Sauron,  and you wander around Mordor causing all sorts of chaos among the local Uruk population as you seek your revenge.  The Uruks are far from a united force though, and they frequently get into power struggles among themselves and seek to gain power and advance within their own ranks, and by killing you (Celebrimbor’s presence makes you technically immortal, but you can still be killed by the enemy, which they’ll definitely brag about if they see you again afterward) can earn them promotions and cause them to gain power.  Eventually you gain a power that allows you to mind-control the Uruks and make them fight on your side.

All in all, it’s pretty fun to play, but  it occurs to me as I go about my business decimating the Uruk hordes that they tend to plan things out very well, and make a number of strategic blunders along the way. 



From: Black Hand

To: All Warchiefs; All Captains

RE: Gravewalker mitigation strategies

I’d say that I hope this letter finds you well, but given recent events, there’s a good chance this letter will find you dead.  Well, whichever one of you miserable rats happens to still be alive to read this, pay attention.  Over the past week the Gravewalker has slain fifteen captains (in particular, it seems that Muzglob Deathbringer met his end a mere three minutes after being promoted to Captain), four Warchiefs and the Hammer of Sauron.  Naturally, these types of results are unacceptable if we intend to overthrow the Kingdoms of Men and bring forth the reign of the Dark Lord upon all the land.  And besides that, do you realize just how annoying it is when I try to go out for my morning walk and find the severed head of Lûgdash the Humiliator sitting on my front porch?  Perhaps you too would wish to find out what it’s like to wake up to an entire pack of Caragors snarling outside your window.  I’m sure it can be arranged (and probably will be when you least expect it.)

Normally, my response to such incompetence would be to mercilessly slay all of you shrakh and let the Black Númenóreans handle this, but the Dark Lord tends to frown upon the wholesale slaughter of his own forces, so unfortunately I have no choice but to spare the lot of you.  That said, there’s going to be some changes around here.  The following new policies will be made effective immediately:

  • Should one of you scrubs encounter the Gravewalker in battle, do not kill him; instead, bring him to your Warchief alive.  I am aware of the power and glory that will come to any Uruk brave enough to slay the Gravewalker in battle.  In fact, I see that the late Captain Gûndza Iron Arm  managed to slay the Gravewalker three different times last week before being relieved of his head the fourth time around.  I know you’re all just a bunch of miserable rats with the intelligence of a dead Warg, but can’t a single one of you maggots figure out the simple fact that there’s something wrong if you keep killing off the Ranger and he keeps coming back for his revenge ten minutes later?

Figure 1: This is probably not a good sign.


  • All vegetation within the borders of Mordor shall be removed.  In particular, shrubbery in and near Uruk strongholds must be removed immediately.  Yesterday I walked by a bush near Durthang and found twelve dead Uruks and a Caragor in it.  You would think that someone would figure out that something’s not right by the time three or four of their best friends were lying next to the bush with their throats slit, but apparently you idiots keep wandering over one at a time and getting disemboweled while a group of soldiers sits around twiddling their thumbs 50 feet away, none the wiser.  I’d say you idiots should just not pay attention to random sounds coming out of the shrubbery, but I know you’re all too stupid for that.  So henceforth, if you absolutely must investigate some random sound, do not take less than three Uruks with you.  Oh, and it’s probably a good idea to get one of the archers to fire a few arrows at it too.

Figure 2: This archer immediately regrets this decision.


  • Speaking of the archers, lately they seem to be particularly prone to getting thrown from their watchtowers with giant stab wounds in their chests, and none of you shrakh seem to be able to figure out where the heck any of them are coming from.  There’s Gravewalker footprints all over the walls of Durthang Keep, but none of the Uruks there except for Zogdûsh the Slaughterer can remember seeing anything, and he’s currently got an Elven arrow clean through his eye and sticking out the back of his skull.  Can’t some of you filthy rats be bothered to actually look up every once in a while?  Oh, and if you decided to hang around a watchtower after finding one of said archers on the ground, don’t blame me if you get disemboweled by a falling Gravewalker.

Figure 3: The wrong way to practice fire safety.


  • Effective immediately, new fire safety protocols will be put into effect in all Uruk camps.  Due to numerous incidents of campfire explosions resulting in multiple casualties, all campfires shall now be contained within iron enclosures with solid side walls, thus preventing them from being detonated by random arrows.  Seriously, how the heck does a single arrow cause a campfire to explode into a ball of flaming death anyway?  Blasted elves…

Figure 4: Grog may be hazardous to your health.

  • By the same token, all grog supplies are now to be stored securely behind blast-proof locked doors, and only small quantities are to be removed at any given time as directed by your captains.  It seems anytime someone keeps the stuff out in the open it either ends up poisoned or blows up.  Either way, the stuff kills a bunch of you shrakh off in a hurry.  And which one of you thought it was a good idea for all of you to get addicted to drinking foul stuff that explodes in a disastrous fireball if you so much as look at it funny?
  • No Morgai Fly infestations near Uruk camps are to be tolerated, and all nests are to be removed immediately, since the Gravewalker seems to be all too fond of knocking them down and sending the surrounding Uruks into a blind panic.  The same goes for Caragor bait.  Seriously, I will soon be having words with whichever one of you maggots decided it was a good idea to keep that stuff around in heavily populated strongholds.
  • Furthermore, there will be no more imprisonment of Caragors in cages within Uruk camps.  It’s bad enough seeing how many Uruks fall prey to random Caragor attacks out on the plains of Udûn, there’s absolutely no good reason for you to be sticking those blasted things in flimsy cages that fly open the minute the Gravewalker hits ’em with a single arrow.  In the unlikely event that you maggots need to put a Caragor into a cage, said cage will need to be placed well away from the camp, and the door will be reinforced with additional iron plating over the locks.  Better yet, just stop messing around with Caragors in the first place, you miserable filth.

In the meantime, we will soon be starting construction of some proper fortifications within Southern Udûn.  I don’t know exactly what it is about you Uruks and decrepit old ruins, but I swear, if all you shrakh would have  just put aside all your petty squabbles and  just build a proper fort with some good solid impossible-to-climb walls and big heavy doors you can actually close whenever some Ranger decides to show up and cause trouble, then we could have all conquered Gondor by now.  The Talons of the Black Hand will be sent to provide appropriate motivation to ensure completion of this project in a timely manner.  I swear, if I wasn’t here to keep you maggots in line, you would have all betrayed me by now or something heinous like that.  It’s bad enough that the Gravewalker managed to blow up my lovely Gorthaur from right under your wretched noses, but screw this one up and you shrakh will all suffer more than you can possibly imagine.

I wonder if Sauraman has these kind of problems?  For that matter, I wonder if Sauraman is hiring?

Ashdautas Vrasubatlat,

-The Black Hand

P.S.  If you happen to be the Gravewalker reading this, then die in a fire.

January 1, 2015

Statistical Overview of 2014

Filed under: Site Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 2:45 pm

As 2014 draws to a close and 2015 begins, once again it’s time to take a look at the Blog’s stats to see how things have gone over the past year.  For those people who may not be familiar with this, during the year I use New Year’s Day as one of two checkpoints where I take a measurement of my statistics.  The other day I use is June 6th, which is the anniversary of when this Blog was started (it’s a bit hard to believe that I’ve been doing this since 2007.) In general, traffic stayed relatively flat (down by a couple hundred views over last year) but in gneral, I ended up posting less often than I have previously.  I hope to be able to rectify that in 2015, and have considered taking a different approach to posting.  Generally I like to write longer posts (I typicallt shoot for around 1,000 words per post) but that means that I typically post less often.  I figure that if I do shorter posts more often then it would give visitors a reason to stop by more often.  I have a number of changes in mind that I would like to make here (for one thing, I think the look of the Blog needs a refresh badly, but have yet to find a template that really works well for it) and hopefully this year I will have more time to spend on this.

As always, thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you continue to visit in 2015.


  • Total Posts(all time, including this one):  658
  • Total Comments (all time):  932
  • Total  Page Views (all time):  318.658
  • Total Page Views in 2014: 32,278
  • Total Page Views in 2013: 32,446
  • Total Page Views in 2012: 42.260
  • Total Page Views in 2011: 42, 742
  • Total Page Views in 2010:  52,228
  • Total Page Views in 2009:  60, 939
  • Total Page Views in 2008: 50, 219
  • Average Visitors Per Day in 20143:  88

Top Posts\Pages (Last 365 days:)

Sampling the Whitman’s Sampler: A Guide to America’s Favorite Box of Enigmatic Chocolates 7,584
Retail Wasteland – A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall 3,287
Home page / Archives 2,985
Wandering Off the Beaten Path at Princess Cays 2,095
Ya Wanna’ Buy a Watch? A Visit to St. Maarten 1,365
A Tour of Crossroads Bellevue – Part 1: The Mall 1,042
Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of the Factoria Mall 1,036
A Not-So-Standard Chevron Station (Updated) 894
The Beginning and the End of the Old Bellevue Safeway 803
Classical Gas – Abandoned Route 66 Gas Stations 696
A Monstrous Helping of Ice Cream – Taking On the Kong Kone 617

Top Posts\Pages (All Time:)

Home page / Archives 62,443
Retail Wasteland – A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall 33,929
Sampling the Whitman’s Sampler: A Guide to America’s Favorite Box of Enigmatic Chocolates 32,548
Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of the Factoria Mall 13,162
Classical Gas – Abandoned Route 66 Gas Stations 12,402
A Tour of Crossroads Bellevue – Part 1: The Mall 9,442
The Redmond Costco Moves Forward (Updated 9/9/09) 8,444
My Very Nearly Award-Winning Chili Recipe, and Other Deep Dark Secrets 6,510
Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of The Everett Mall 5,774
A Brief Tour of the Bellevue Galleria, Bungie’s Future Home 5,229
The Beginning and the End of the Old Bellevue Safeway 4,647

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