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Guardians of Middle-earth is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) that lets you team up as the most powerful heroes in Middle-earth. You can develop and master iconic Guardians, forming memorable and unlikely alliances with, and against, your friends. But, before you jump into the action there’s a few things you should know. Tune in, and let us show you the ropes!

NOTE: There are plenty of screenshots in the guide you’re about to digest. Do note that due to the ongoing balance of Guardians of Middle-earth, not all of these numbers will be accurate with what’s currently in the game. Consult our latest Balance Updates in the Official Announcements section of the forums, or check in-game, for the latest and most accurate information.

MAIN MENU – Options

  • PLAY NOW – Leads to a list of game modes
  • QUICK MATCH – Automatically searches for an available game
  • TRAINING – Leads to gameplay tutorials
  • LOADOUTS – Leads to custom loadout slots
  • DOWNLOAD CONTENT – Shows all available DLC
  • QUIT GAME – Exits to the Xbox or PlayStation dashboard

    The Left and Right Bumpers or L1 and R1 are used to navigate between game’s menus.

    From left to right, the available menus are:
    • MAIN MENU – Gameplay modes and matchmaking
    • SOCIAL – View announcements and a feed of all your friends’ accolades
    • INVENTORY – Manage Guardians and items
    • PROFILE – View player stats and achievements
    • HELP & OPTIONS – Learn about the game, and customize
    • audio/video/control settings


    Your Friends List is accessible from anywhere within the menus of Guardians of Middle-earth. Pressing Y (Xbox 360) or Triangle (PS3) will open up a sidebar on the right, containing the status of all your virtual buddies.

    The Community Feed provides information about current and upcoming game events, upcoming DLC, as well as recent accomplishments from your friends.


    As you play more matches, you gain XP and your overall player profile rank will increase. As your rank increases, you gain access to custom loadout slots and items. Loadouts become critical as players, such as yourself, gain more skill and become more competitive.

    PLAY NOW – Gameplay options

    Note: 11 points will be awarded for first blood, 10 points per Guardian kill, and 50 points per structure razed.

    BATTLEGROUNDS - 5v5 online competitive play

  • 20 minute match time limit; victory is determined by Base destruction or Points, whichever comes first
  • Empty player slots will be replaced with AI if players cannot be found within a reasonable time period
  • ELITE BATTLEGROUNDS – 5v5 online competitive play

  • Unlocks at profile rank 2
  • No match time limit; victory is determined solely by Base destruction
  • No AI; matchmaking waits for a full 10-player game
  • SKIRMISH – 5 players vs. 5 AI-controlled Guardians, online

  • No match time limit; victory is determined solely by Base destruction
  • Empty player slots will be replaced with AI if players cannot be found within reasonable time periods
  • CUSTOM MATCH – Any combination of one to 10 players and/or AI

  • No match time limit; victory is determined solely by Base destruction
  • MAPS


  • This map has three paths (lanes) to the enemy Base, separated by jungles
  • Generally encourages longer, more tactical battles
  • 1-LANE

  • Battleground has a single path (lane) to the enemy Base, with some brush to help set up ganks
  • Generally leads to shorter, more intense battles

    Friendly units and structures are blue while enemies appear orange. Green indicates an unclaimed Shrine, and the red icons are Powerful Creatures, which provide buffs when killed.



    Guardians of Middle-earth has two control schemes, Basic and Advanced.


  • Guardian Abilities are mapped to the face buttons
  • Easy to pick-up-and-play for novice players, and simple to master

  • Guardian Abilities are readied with the face buttons and executed with the Right Trigger (Xbox 360) or R2 (PS3)
  • Allows for greater aiming precision, and finer tuning on when an ability is used

    Guardians are what you’ll be controlling during your conquests in Guardians of Middle-earth. Each one has a different set of abilities, granting you a multitude of options to find which one best suits you, and your playstyle.

    A small set of Guardians will be immediately available when you first jump into the game. Players can purchase additional Guardians by:

  • Using in-game Gold earned via the completion of matches
  • Real-life currency only for DLC Guardians (purchased individually, or as a part of the Season Pass)
  • Note: A selection of Guardians from the roster will be made available without requiring purchase on a rotating basis. An additional Guardian (Gandalf) can be earned by completing the Tutorials.

    Detailed information about each Guardian’s abilities, health, and more can be found by highlighting them in the Guardian inventory menu.

    When browsing Guardians, pressing the Right Trigger (Xbox 360) or R2 (PS3) will bring up some more comprehensive information.

    Further, pressing the Back (Xbox 360) or Select (PS3) button provides a Guardian’s biography and detailed ability descriptions. Most importantly, each Guardian's unique Passive Ability is listed at the very bottom of this screen.


    Guardians of Middle-earth divvies up Guardians into five unique classes. Based on your playstyle, you can easily select a Guardian that aligns with how you tend to play other MOBAs, and get into the action with ease. Do note that some Guardians are ranged, while others like to get up close and personal with melee. Here’s a quick rundown on what to expect from the five classes:

  • Enchanter: Low health and basic attack resistance, but able to deal significant ability damage and withstand others’ abilities as well.
  • Defender: High survivability across the board and designed to support teammates. These Guardians absorb incoming damage for their team and help control the enemy, so their weaker teammates can survive to deal more damage in a team fight.
  • Warrior: Balanced between basic attack damage and survivability, and are able to take more basic damage, yet less ability damage. This is a flexible class that can be played a number of different ways.
  • Striker: Glass cannons, low health and resistances but able to deal high damage with basic attacks.
  • Tactician: Relatively high survivability, but focused on controlling the battlefield with AoE and DoT abilities. Excellent for your internal lane pusher/defender.

    Before you dive head-first into a match, make sure to go through all the basics in the Training tutorials. But, to help you out, here’s a quick rundown of the controls:

  • You’ll use the Left Control Stick to handle your Guardian’s movement
  • Basic attacks are fired off using the Right Trigger (Xbox 360) or R2 (PS3) only when an enemy is within your target area (Holding down the Right Trigger or R2 will allow you to continuously attack)
  • You’ll fire off your abilities using your controller’s Face Buttons
  • The Right Control Stick will control your targeting reticule

    Every Guardian has a basic attack that is mapped to the Right Trigger (Xbox 360) or R2 (PS3), and four unique abilities that are all their own.

    These abilities vary in nature from offensive to defensive, and are generally guided by a Guardian’s class. Abilities are pre-determined for each Guardian, but they can be upgraded over the course of a match, as in-game levels are gained. Once you gain a level, hit the Right Bumper or R1, and then select the Ability you’re looking to upgrade with its corresponding Face Button (Xbox 360 à A,B,X,Y / PS3 à X, Circle, Square, Triangle). After each use, an ability goes into Cooldown and cannot be used again until the timer displayed above its icon has finished counting down to zero.


    If you’re looking to take a Guardian and really make them your own, prepare to spend plenty of time in the Loadout menu. You can save up to 10 pre-set Loadouts here, so long as you’ve unlocked them all by gaining the appropriate profile rank.

    Three categories of upgrades that can be adjusted between matches:

  • Potions
  • Commands
  • Guardian Belt

  • Potions are consumable buffs that are used to temporarily boost or replenish stats during a game
  • Potions are activated in a match using the D-pad
  • Potions are purchased using in-game currency and can be used only once; purchases can only be made in-between matches
  • Players can purchase any number of potions between games, but a maximum of four (one mapped to each direction on the D-pad) can be brought into a multiplayer match, provided you’ve unlocked all four slots

  • Commands are exceptionally strong powers that can be used by any Guardian, provided the player has unlocked the required Command slots; up to four Command Slots are available
  • Commands are gained by increasing your Profile Rank
  • Lower tier Commands can include small statistical buffs like heals or speed boosts, while higher tier Commands offer larger events such as Lightning strikes or the summoning of a Great Eagle or Balrog
  • Before a match begins, the player must determine which commands to bring into the game. During a match, only one active Command can be used at any given moment (other commands are locked out until the Command in use cools down, which takes several minutes)

  • Guardian Belts have seven slots that you can fill with Relics and/or Gems.
  • As a Guardian levels-up in a match, each slot unlocks in order from left to right, which delivers the buffs to the player. A Gem is unlocked at every even-numbered level (2, 4, 6, 8, etc.)
  • Gems come in five varieties (Assault, Finesse, Hardiness, Ability, Utility) that provide different benefits. There are three increasingly effective versions of each Gem (Silver, Gold, Mithril)
  • The color and shape of Gems influences the degrees of their statistical buffs
  • Gems can be purchased only with in-game currency
  • Relics are patterns that occupy multiple slots. Players must still fill those slots with specific types of Gems in sequence to give Guardians statistical advantages beyond their basic abilities
  • Once all Gems in a Relic have been unlocked, the Relic becomes active
  • Relics must be found in-game, earned via in-game accomplishments or purchased using in-game currency
  • Players can manage the allocation of Gems themselves, or allow the game to auto-populate Relics with random Gems. If you lack the correct variety of Gem, the game will prompt you to purchase the cheapest suitable Gem necessary
  • Relics


    Belt with Relics and Gems added

    To learn more about Loadouts, watch MOBA Mastery 4:

    And, to discuss Loadouts to your heart’s content, check out the Strategies section of our forums.


    Throughout a match, Guardians gain in-match XP by defeating opposing Soldiers, destroying structures, and slaying enemy Guardians. A Guardian must also be close enough to a defeated enemy to receive XP, either as part of a kill or an assist.


  • Guardians begin the match at level 1 and can progress to a maximum level of 14 in a given match
  • Each time a Guardian levels up, an upgrade point can be added to the Guardian’s abilities to increase their power. Each ability can be upgraded a maximum of three times, to rank four (each ability starts at rank one)
  • To allocate an upgrade point, hold the Right Bumper (Xbox 360) or R1 (PS3) and upgrade an ability by pressing the corresponding face button, (Xbox 360 -> A,B,X,Y / PS3 -> X, Circle, Square, Triangle). Note that the same ability cannot be upgraded two times consecutively
  • When a Guardian reaches level 5, the Guardian’s ultimate ability is made available. Spending an upgrade point on the Guardian’s ultimate ability, which is mapped to the Y (Xbox 360) or Triangle button (PS3) adds the ultimate ability to the Guardian’s arsenal
  • Once a player reaches certain levels, they also gains the ability to upgrade structures like Towers and Soldiers.


    Both the 1-lane and 3-lane maps are symmetrical, with a Base at each end. Each team has a series of Towers which defend the lanes, and Soldiers who periodically spawn and push their respective lanes to aid in the destruction of Towers, and help to turn the tide in battle. Below are common elements of the battleground:

    3-Lane Map

    1-Lane Map


  • Both the 1-lane and 3-lane maps are symmetrical battlegrounds with a Base at each end
  • Teams start at their respawn pad, which is situated in the back of a Base
  • Players can press the Back (Xbox 360) or Select (PS3) button to Recall to the Base and heal their Guardian by standing on the respawn pad. This process is not instantaneous and can be interrupted by moving or taking damage
  • The Base cannot be destroyed until its two flanking Towers flanking have been destroyed

  • On each team, waves of AI-controlled Soldiers periodically spawn and travel down the lanes until they encounter the enemy (i.e. Soldiers, Guardians, Towers) and engage in combat
  • Without Guardian intervention, these Soldiers will stalemate against opposing Soldiers
  • Opposing Soldiers can be eliminated to gain XP
  • Allied Soliders will act as valuable meat shields against enemy Towers. Use them to soak damage, so that you can lay into any enemy towers with anything you’ve got
  • Note: If you attack an enemy Guardian when they’re within range of their own tower, you’ll become the Tower’s primary target
  • Once Guardians have reached level 6 and above in match, they can build Soldier Upgrades within the base. To upgrade a Soldiers, stand nearby a Solider plot and hold the Left and Right Bumpers (Xbox 360) or L1 and R1 (PS3), and select an upgrade by pressing the corresponding face button (Xbox 360 -> A,B,X,Y / PS3 -> X, Circle, Square, Triangle). Note that Soldier Upgrades cannot be stacked; each upgrade overwrites the one before it

  • To reach the opposing team’s Base, you’ll need to destroy a series of defensive Towers
  • Towers defend themselves with powerful attacks that can be upgraded once its allied Guardians reach a certain level
  • Towers will generally prioritize targeting Soldiers before attacking Guardians. However, if an enemy Guardian is attacked under their Tower, the Tower will automatically target the attacking Guardian, regardless of other targets. Use this to your advantage!
  • Once Guardians have reached level 6 and above in match, they can upgrade Towers. To upgrade a Tower hold the Left and Right Bumpers (Xbox 360) or L1 and R1 (PS3) and select an upgrade (if available) by pressing the corresponding face button (Xbox 360 -> A,B,X,Y / PS3 -> X, Circle, Square, Triangle). Note that Tower Upgrades cannot be stacked; each upgrade overwrites the one before it

  • While in the brush, Guardians are invisible to other players, unless another Guardian is within the very same patch of brush. When hidden, your Guardian is represented by a blue silhouette (enemy Guardians in the same patch of brush will be displayed with an orange silhouette)
  • Brush can be used strategically to wait for abilities to return from cooldown, take a moment to heal, to ambush enemy Guardians and more

  • Shrines are strategic capture points that provide bonuses to all Allied Guardians on your team when controlled. Bonuses include improved Damage Resistance and Health Regeneration
  • There are four Shrines located along the central axis of the 3-lane map. On the 1-lane map, there are two Shrines with one located next to each team's frontline Tower
  • To capture a Shrine, stand by it for a few seconds until the meter above it fills completely. If an enemy is close by, a Shrine cannot be captured. Shrines can be re-captured by the enemy team at any time

  • Powerful creatures rest dormant at certain points on the battleground and can provide XP and significant Guardian buffs for a short period of time upon being defeated
  • Powerful creatures are neutral; they attack only when attacked and can be targeted by either team
  • Some powerful creatures are exceptionally strong, and can only be defeated by a team of Guardians; the greater the risk, the greater the reward

  • When a Guardian needs to heal, walk over health pick-ups in the form of glowing, green Athelas flowers
  • Health pick-ups appear in the game several minutes into a match
  • Health pick-ups are not consumed if a Guardian’s health is already full

    Guardians of Middle-earth features a wide variety of tactical options to utilize. Below are just a few tips that can help you get started:

  • Partner Your Playstyle: Find out whether you are the type of player who likes to charge into the fray, hide out and wait for opportunities to present themselves, help and heal other teammates, etc. Knowing how you like to play will help you to select Guardians that will complement your playstyle and, similarly, figure out which Guardians teammates it's best to stick with in battle
  • Balance Your Team's Guardians: One way to work together as a team is to choose a Guardian from each class and find symbiotic Guardian partnerships (e.g. pushing a lane with a low-health Striker and high-health Defender) that can provide an edge in battle
  • Split Up Smartly: Making sure that each lane is actively being pushed at all times can often be a successful strategy. However, with an uneven balance between the number of Guardians (5) and the number of lanes (3), try not to leave your teammates stranded without help for too long
  • Attack As One: Consider exploiting a vulnerable lane when its enemy Guardians and/or frontline Towers have been taken down. Coordinate with your allies to push hard down that lane as a five-person army, eliminating everything in its path. However, keep a close eye on the mini-map and be mindful of the lanes that are being left undefended
  • Lead from the Middle: Charging forward ahead of your Soldiers is often a short trip to a shallow grave. Allowing a Tower to repeatedly target and attack your Guardian – known as “Tower diving” – is a quick way to die or seriously compromise your Guardian’s health. Let your Soldiers take the brunt of the Towers’ attacks and get out of range when you’re about to be targeted
  • Don’t Forget the Shrines and Creatures: Capturing Shrines and eliminating Creatures give you powerful Guardian and team buffs that can dramatically shift the balance of power in a game
  • Upgrade your Towers and Soldiers: Beginning at level 6, players can upgrade Towers and Soldiers. Upgrading early and often can swing the match in your favor
  • Choose Upgrades Wisely: Although upgrades are progressively unlocked, later upgrades may not always be your best choice. Choose your late-game upgrades carefully based on the current circumstances.
  • Learn Your Loadouts: Once you’ve played a few rounds and found Guardians that you prefer, experiment with custom loadouts. At highly competitive levels of play, loadouts provide significant advantages if used correctly

    To learn more about Guardians of Middle-earth, spend time on our forums, or watch the MOBA Mastery video series!