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And though indeed the wargs alone were much feared, this alliance with orcs was a greater evil yet. Indeed in the famous Battle of Five Armies, the strongest element of the orkish forces was its cavalry, mounted on great Wargs.
— David Day, Guide to Tolkien's World: A Bestiary

Warg riders are a type of soldier from J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium that first appeared in the book The Hobbit. They are orcs that rides a specially trained wolf-like monster known as a wargs into battle. Warg riders were first seen in the Battle of Five Armies, where they were used to great effect, killing many men and dwarves before being defeated at the slopes of Lonely Mountain. They also played a role in the War for the Ring.

Like the calvary forces of men, warg riders would often use spears and longswords. They often preferred to wear no armor at all as to make as much use of the warg's impressive speed, though some have been seen wearing light armor such as multiple layers of rotting hide, fur and hair or mail. All riders, however, tended to wear the remains of their warg's prey as a badge of honor.

Battle vs. Carthaginian War Elephant (by GSFB)[]

Wargs Grey Grey Grey Grey Grey

Elephants Orange Orange Orange Orange Orange

In the valley between Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains, five war elephants walk a vast wheatfield, dotted now and again by large limestones rising from the ground. The elephants trumpet as their crews, consisting of three men each, watch the countryside, observing this New province of Carthage.

Behind two of the stones, Warg riders watch them, waiting for their time to attack.

"Remember: while we ride out and fire off our arrows, Boldog here will rise up on a stone and leap down on one of those baby Mumakils, slaying its host and savaging the steed. Two others of our kind are behind the rock to the north, where they shall do the same! Wait for my word!" The lead Orc said. The Orcs and Wargs nodded, though the Wargs thought it was a stupid strategy. They had said so, but of course, Orcs never did listen well.  

The Carthaginians approached. The Mahout on the main Elephant in the center raised his hand, calling for the others to stop. The elephants, sensing the orcs and Wargs, grew nervous. The Mahouts read the signals and whispered to their men to be ready. They looked all around them.

"...Strike hard!" the head Orc said.

From the tops of both rocks appeared three Warg riders, which leaped onto the backs of the elephants and attacked their crew. At the same time the lead Orc and his remaining soldier rode out from behind the elephants and fired their arrows, striking the animals in the back and rear.

The first Warg to land on an elephant caused it to collapse onto its knees; the 3,000 lbs elephant could only take a quarter percent of its bodyweight onto its back, and the warg and its rider combined weighed more than half of the brute. The Warg took out its two riding soldiers quickly, but was felled by the Mahout using a Soliferrum to the neck. The beast tumbled over past the elephant's rear and down to the ground, falling right on top of his rider Grey. The Orc, broken in body and riddled with pain, soon bled to death. The Elephant, shaking its head, stood up again, dusting itself off with its trunk. At the same time another Warg also brought its targeted elephant to its knees, frothing at the mouth as it attacked. It snapped and bit the head off of one of the riders while its Orc faced another riding warrior. For a short time both fought ferociously with their swords, but the Warg turned and bit the man in the gut, crunching the bronze Musculata in its teeth. The Orc chopped his head off. Just then, two Carthaginians from another elephant, one not attacked, threw their soliferrums at the Orc and his rider. The Orc was impaled lethally, but the Warg managed to leap off the elephant and run despite a spear in its neck. One of the Carthaginians threw another soliferrum, and it hit the back of the Warg, ramming it into its chest cavity. Though the animal was strong enough to run to safety, it could not charge back for a counterstrike; when it tried, the effects of the javelin caught up with it. The Warg fell down, its legs parted, its tongue hanging out of its mouth. It closed its eyes, and breathed no more Grey. The third Warg landed on an Asian Elephant, an import from India that had seen much battle in its day. Though it shook when the Warg landed on its back, it did not collapse, and though its human crew were being mauled and gave to panicking, the Pachyderm remained calm. Raising its head, it reached out with its trunk and quickly grabbed the Warg by its tail. Within two seconds the Warg went from the elephant's back to the ground, with enough force to kill both rider and steed Grey. Sneering, the war elephant crushed the corpses of its enemies underfoot. "Are you alright?" The lead Carthaginian said, himself a mahout of an Asian elephant. His was one of the few that were not attacked. "I'll manage!" the other Mahout said, nursing a shattered right arm and a bleeding back.

Just then, another volley of arrows met them from in front. The Carthaginians ducked and raised their shields, firing off Javelins in return and commanding their elephants to charge. As the Elephants picked up speed the Wargs galloped like racehorses, their riders delivering volley after volley. The Warg Riders would let the elephants draw close, then ride off and fire, let them draw close, ride off and fire, always keeping a saf distance from the behemoths. Yet the Carthaginians kept coming. They had lost formation due to trying to reach two different speeding targets, but their crews or Mahouts fired their Soliferrums back at the Wargs. At first, this proved as successful as the Orc's firing on the Carthaginians themselves; useless. Both sides had trouble hitting their targets, the Orcs surprisingly so despite their superior weaponry. Thw Wargs kept telling them to aim at the elephants instead, which made for bigger, better targets, yet their growls went unheeded, either ignored or unheard during the chaos of battle.  Running low on the Soliferums, the Carthaginian commander ordered a halt to their usage, until they were close enough for a good shot. The warriors readied their sarissas for close quarter strikes. Soon even the Orcs Ran out of projectiles, and the Wargs were growing restless, ever more risky in their movements.

Finally, one charged, leaping up. One of the Mahouts saw this and ducked. "Javelin!" he screamed. One of his crew, holding the last Soliferrum, threw it at the Warg, striking the beast past the jaws and into the throat. The creature sailed past a rising sarissa spear and over the head of the elephant and onto its rear, rolling onto the fresh wet grass Grey. The Orc left the Warg and was confronted by the two Carthaginians, both of which were from the elephant his mount attacked. The Orc, turning to his fallen Warg, shed a tear. "I'll get them for you, Blackheart! I will get thee revenge!" Spitting, the snaga Orc drew his scimitar. The first Carthaginian approached, a shield in one hand and a falcata in the other. The Orc blocked two of his strokes and then whirled around and sliced his head off. The other Carthaginian approached with a shield and spear, and tried to jab at his opponent. The Orc Blocked with his sword and punched the shield, denting it and knocking the Carthaginian down over ten feet away. The Orc raised his hand and bellowed in pain. He stamped his right foot while he held his hand, and the Carthaginian got up, grabbing his spear again. Before the Orc could react the spear was in his gut and out his back, spilling oil-black blood.

The Last Warg, a huge female, was enraged at the terrible performance of her kind, even more so at the Orc that rode her. This was a disaster, one that could have been avoided if the Orcs had listened to her and her fellow wargs. Just keep their distance and fire volley after volley after volley, and those baby Mumakils would have fled from the excessive wounds. Orcs were bad shots, but they would have hit a lot more if they just kept their focus on the elephants and not on the men riders. Shaking her huge head and wanting revenge, she bucked the Orc commander off and sped away, soon beyond the sight of the Mahouts and their elephants.  The Orc, snorting and grimacing, turned over to get up. As he did so, his forehead hit a huge rock in the ground, three feet high and a foot wide. Grabbing his head, the Orc moaned in pain. By the time he came to his senses, he was surrounded by war elephants. Slowly he stood, raising his hands in surrender. The Mahouts looked at each other, speaking in a language the Orc didn't understand. Then two mahouts gave a shout. The Orc felt something on his legs. Looking down, he say two elephant trunks wrapping around them. Looking up with self pity and shock, the Orc suddenly had his feet pulled out from under him. After falling on his back  his lower arms were also grabbed by trunks. As the Orc looked above him, the Elephant that had not grabbed him stomped and raised its trunk, making a deafening vocalization. The Orc looked at each trunk holding him, and suddenly realized what was happening.

     "...Mother!" The Orc said.

With a command from the lead mahout, the elephants jerked their trunks, ripping the Orc to pieces.

Several miles away, the Female Warg listened to the squeal of the Orc with satisfaction. When the Orc grew silent, the Warg looked to the west, howling to her brothers and sisters of the Misty Mountains, calling for aid.

Soon, as the sunset became obscured by the peaks, howls filled the foothills all around, the earth shaking from countless paws quickly striking the soil...


Expert's Opinion[]

While the Wargs had quite an advantage in speed, agility, and fierceness, they lacked the pure strength, durability, and size of the war elephants. The Warg riders lacked the teamwork necessary to take down their opponents, and were therefore trumped by the Carthaginian War Elephants' sheer brute force.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.