I had the chance this week to hop on the phone (along with several other reporters) to chat with Monolith Productions' Scott Compton and Ruth Tomandl, designer and producer, respectively, on Guardians of Middle-earth. The upcoming Lord of the Rings game marries Tolkien's expansive lore with a genre that, until now, has seen little play outside of PC gaming: the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA.

(I already wrote an entire list of reasons why this is a great idea, so read that if you're unsure about the wisdom of pairing DOTA or League of Legends with Galadriel, Gandalf and Gollum.)

The topic of the day was Guardians of Middle-earth's class and character system. The game features 20 characters from Lord of the Rings, including Gandalf, Galadriel, Gollum, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Sauron, as well as lesser-knowns like "Ugluk the Uruk-Hai" and "Gothmog, lieutenant of Minas Morgul."

These "Guardians" come in five flavors: Enchanters, Defenders, Warriors, Strikers, and Tacticians. Enchanters like Gandalf have lower health and basic attack resistance, but stand up well to other Guardians' abilities and deal lots of damage with their own. Defenders, like Galadriel, have high survivability and are designed to support their teammates. Warriors (Ugluk, for example) are balanced between defense and offense, and can be played in a variety of ways.

Strikers, like Gollum and Legolas, have low health and resistances, but deal high damage with standard attacks. And finally, Tacticians like Gothmog have decent survivability and focus on controlling the battlefield in a variety of ways.

On top of all that, each character has a set of four unique abilities and can be outfitted with consumable items and unique "gem" and "relic" loadouts. As you can imagine, Compton and Tomandl had plenty to say about it all. Read on for a selection of questions from myself and my colleagues and excerpts from the duo's answers.

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