Understanding Nemesis System in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

The Nemesis system in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the standout features of the game.

As one would expect from the developers who created the amazing AI in games such as F.E.A.R, the nemesis system is an intelligence marvel and presents players with a completely different experience through each of their playthroughs of the game.

For more help on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, read our Artifacts Locations and Ithildin Locations Guide.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Nemesis System

Every enemy under the system is randomly generated in each playthrough and as the game progresses, Talion’s various actions have an impact on those enemies and they will all react differently to him whether it is to fight him or run away in fear.

Nemsis Characteristics

Each nemesis has its own unique name which is randomly generated so players will never come across an enemy with the same name as one of their previous playthrough. The nemesis is also given a title based on their appearance, traits or past actions such as Evil Eye, The Clever and The Runt. A title is useful in understanding the nemesis’ habits and behavior.

Character Model
The body of each enemy under the nemesis system is randomly generated by combining multiple body types and parts as well as hairstyles, voice and behavior. The appearance of a nemesis tells a lot about his personality.

Power Levels
This determines the difficulty of a Nemesis and indicates the base strength level. So far it seems as if the level cap of enemies is 20 but higher leveled ones might be revealed soon. The higher the power level of a Nemesis, the difficult it is to take him and his minions down in battle.

The longer a nemesis stays alive in the system, the smarter and more ruthless he becomes which allows him to climb up the rank ladder of the orc/uruk society. The rank prefix determines how capable and for how long has the nemesis been in the system.

No prefix means the nemesis recently entered the system while a Veteran has been there for a little while and has had success on his missions. Similarly Elite and Legendary ranked nemeses have been in the system for a long while with numerous successful missions.

The orc/uruk society is based upon active competition and rivalry. One nemesis might have an ongoing rivalry with another nemesis in the system which leads to them constantly doing missions against each other until one of them is dead.

There is also a ‘subordinate’ system in the Nemesis system. Several Captains will always surround a Warchief to protect and help him in combat.

Fighting Styles
Each enemy in the Nemesis system has its own particular fighting style, derived from base Uruk fighting styles and then further improved by staying longer in the Nemesis system and acquiring new abilities and buffs.

Nemeses also tend to surround themselves with other Uruks of the same type for example a Berserker Captain would be surrounded mostly by other weaker Berserker Uruks.

Each nemesis has its own unique set of traits which determine the way it fights and also helps players in deciding the best way to defeat a particular nemesis.

Location of Your Nemesis
Location will guide players on the map as to where a particular Nemesis is staying. Even if the location of a Nemesis isn’t show, a mission which would draw him out would definitely be. If another nemesis was previously dominated and is now in the same area as the one which the player is currently hunting, the nemesis would come and aid the player in combat.

Different Ranks in Nemesis System

The Uruk society is divided into three basic types:

A warchief is at the top of the Uruk rankings with 2-3 Captains serving directly underneath him as bodyguards. A  Warchief is much tougher than a Captain and doesn’t show up on the map, instead he must be drawn out by disrupting his lower ranks to attract attention.

If a dominated enemy threatens a warchief before players kill the warchief, the chances of epic runes being dropped increases. However following a threat, the Warchief surrounds himself with more bodyguards so killing him is not easy.

If players manage to dominate a Warchief, all the uruks under him become available to command.

Captains are the most common enemies from the Nemesis system which players will encounter. While Captains are powerful than regular Uruks due to the various traits at their disposal, they also have weaknesses which make easy to defeat if exploited.

Captains are the most dynamic as they are the ones who fight and go do missions on their own if they are left alone. They also serve directly under a Warchief as well as some of them acting as his bodyguards.

Like a Warchief, Captains can also be threatened through a dominated Uruk to increase the chances of Epic rune drops.

Grunts are the lowest ranking and also the most common enemies in the game. For a grunt to make it into the Nemesis system they have to do something worthy such as kill the players or defeat a Captain in combat.

Any Grunt can become a Captain so if players need a regime change in the Nemesis system, they can simply die at the hands of Grunts they want to promote to the Captain status.


All the Nemeses in the game embark upon different missions randomly. These missions are triggered by the players embarking on a mission of their own, spending time on the map screen or simply dying at the hands of someone.

Promotion Mission
Completing a promotion mission, an Uruk Grunt enters the Nemesis system to become a Captain and acquires a new title and armor. If there are no empty slots in the Captain’s roster, the Uruk attempts to kill another Captain.

Newly added Captains to the system are much easier to defeat compared to the old ones.

Duel Mission
One Nemesis battles another Uruk Nemesis in an attempt to gain more power. The Nemeses can either go one on one, or fight with their followers.

The victor gets a power level, whether he kills the opponent or players step in and do the job for him. The losing Uruk may survive, especially in the case of cowardly ones, by fleeing the battle.

Betrayal Mission
Even at the top ranks, there is always struggle for power. A Warchief’s bodyguard might betray him and damage or outright kill him. If the initial assassination attempt is unsuccessful, the betrayer will have to fight the Warchief and all his other men which would certainly mean his death.

If players choose to step in at this point and kill the Warchief, the betrayer immediately becomes the new Warchief and gains a power level. This is useful for drawing out a Warchief with the plan on killing him especially if one of his bodyguards is already dominated by the players.

Recruit Mission
Throughout the course of the game, enemies on the Nemesis system attempt to recruit new followers. If successful, they gain a power level.

Execution Mission
A particular Uruk might decide to execute another Uruk and his followers. The executioner Nemesis will line up the victim Nemesis with 3 of his followers and execute them one by one, the Nemesis being the last one.

If players kill the executioner while this is happening, the survivor gains a power level but if the execution is successful, he gains a power level.

Survived After Encounter
If a nemesis survives an encounter with players, whether they fought or not, they gain a power level. This can be a useful way to level up someone which the players plan on dominating later by simply leaving that specific nemesis alive.

Killed Talon
If a nemesis delivers a killing blow to players, he gains a power level along with other Nemeses who survived encounters against players.

During the festivities, Uruks are in a dull state and not good in combat. Players can take advantage of this to stealth kill a Nemesis. If the feast is uninterrupted, the Nemeses involved in it gain power levels.

Beast Hunt Mission
Throughout the game Uruks take part in beast hunts to show off their skills to others. If a Nemesis is successful on the hunt, he gains a power level. If he isn’t, the nemesis will probably die or develop a fear of the beast he was hunting.

Players can get involved in the hunt and either kill the beast to level up a Nemesis or take out the Nemesis while he is distracted by the beast.

Ambush Mission
Similar to a duel, one nemesis would be fighting another but one of them would be outnumbered by the ambush set by the other. Normally ambushing Nemesis wins but players can change that if they decide to defend the Uruk who is outnumbered which can be a useful strategy if they are looking to dominate someone.

Interactions With Nemesis

Players as Talion can impact the Nemesis system in various ways in order to promote someone they dominated or in an attempt to overthrow a particularly annoying and challenging Warchief they don’t want to fight.

Players can intentionally die at the hands of some Uruks in order to promote them farther in the Nemesis system.

Alternatively, they can choose to die at the hands of a specific Uruk multiple times to level him up faster so that they can have a powerful minion if they choose to dominate the Nemesis or kill him for a powerful rune.

Gathering Intel
When new Nemeses enter the Nemesis System without having any interaction with Talion, they will be silhouettes and no information will be known about them.

Players can dominate other Nemeses to know more about the newly added ones. Repeating this process provides more and more information about them.

The Nemeses will sometimes go off to do missions on their own and Talion can go interfere with the Uruk’s plans.

It is up to Talion if he wants to prevent or allow the Nemeses to succeed these missions. Usually if the Nemesis succeeds in their missions they grow in power and if they fail they either die or flee.

Players can force a specific Captain to become their target Warchief’s bodyguard by dominating him and having him perform an initiation rite to show his worthiness to the Warchief. Players can interfere with the Initiation rite to ensure that their dominated Captain succeeds and ends up being the Warchief’s bodyguard.

Death Threat
After dominating a Nemesis in the system, players can have him deliver a death threat to another Nemesis. This will make the threatened Nemesis stronger by surrounding himself with bodyguards but reward upon defeating them is even greater.

Mission Creation
After dominating a Nemesis, players can order him to start up a mission from a list. Players can then focus on aiding this Nemesis through his missions so that he levels up easily and moves up the ladder among other Nemeses.

The Power Struggle

Orcs and Uruks are restless creatures, always craving more power. A Captain would inevitably act against his Warchief one day to take control over his domain or fight against fellow Captains to become more important in the eyes of the Warchief.

More clever ones might even try a political approach and attempt to befriend their Warchief only to stab them in the back later on. Warchiefs and Captains both have their different types of struggles.

Before attempting to take down a Warchief, players should focus on gathering intel by dominating his Captains. Captains have information on other high-ranking Uruks, and can also serve as bodyguards to the Warchiefs of the region.

Struggle of the Warchief

A warchief needs to be drawn out before he can be dominated or killed by players. Each warchief requires a different tactic which can be learned by taking on his various Captains. If players successfully kill a Warchief, they gain 70 power points.

After unlocking the dominate ability, players can force Warchiefs to do their bidding and start a riot against a hostile Captain or Warchief. The chaos that follows can be used to kill the target easily.

Cry Hovoc
Successfully fighting and killing waves of enemies will force a Warchief to come out of hiding and fight the players.

A Warchief can be humiliated by forcing his minions to abandon him. Wraith powers can be used to scare away the Uruks from their strongholds and abandon their leader.

Warchief Supporters
Yellow marked supporters of a Warchief can be executed in open combat to draw out a Warchief. Ground or Combat executions are the best way to get attention of the Warchief.

Killing Spree
Rapidly slaying a large number of Uruks draws out their Warchief.

Strike From Above
Yellow marked targets can be killed by surprising them from a high vantage point to force the Warchief to face the players.

A Warchief can be forced to fight players if the caged Caragors he has in his stronghold are freed.

Taunt and Kill Supporters
A Warchief can be angered and forced to fight the player if they taunt the Warchief first and then kill a number of his supporters without taking any damage.

Vantage Point
A Warchief can be ambushed by stealthily infiltrating his stronghold and surprising him by attacking from a high vantage point.

Strengths and Weaknesses

All the enemies in the Nemesis System have their strengths and weaknesses which can guide players as to how best to take down that specific enemy and what type of attacks to avoid.

Strengths and weaknesses are further divided into various categories involving damage types and environmental impact on the nemesis.


Invulnerability: this strength provides immunity from the stated source of damage

  • Invulnerable to Ranged – enemies cannot be damaged by ranged attacks
  • Invulnerable to Stealth – enemies cannot be damaged or killed by stealth takedowns
  • Invulnerable to Combat Takedowns – enemies cannot be damaged or killed by combat finishers such as ground takedown

Hate: this strength enrages a nemesis and gives them various boosts such as regeneration which allows them to attack players relentlessly.

  • Hate of Bodyguard Suffering – enemy becomes enraged if his bodyguards are attacked
  • Hate of Burns – enrages if fire attacks such as fire arrows or explosions are used against him
  • Hate of Caragors – the nemesis becomes enraged upon seeing Caragors out of their cages
  • Hate of Defeat – enrages when at low health
  • Hate of Morgai Flies – enrages when hit with a Morgayi Fly swarm
  • Hate of Ghuls – becomes enraged upon seeing Ghuls
  • Hate of His Master Suffering – becomes enraged if his master, a Warchief is damaged
  • Hate of Graugs – the nemesis is enraged upon seen a Graug
  • Hate of His Rival – nemesis becomes enraged when he sees his Rival from the Nemesis System nearby

Attack: these include the combat moves which a nemesis can perform

  • Body Slam – picks up an opponent and slams them in to the ground or some other object
  • Boomerang Throw – throws a weapon which then returns to the Nemesis like a boomerang
  • Charge Attack – does a running charge in a straight line, knocking down the player
  • Fury Attack – highly aggressive and damaging melee attack
  • Ground Pound – slams the ground hard causing damage in an area around the Nemesis
  • Heavy Attack – a high damage melee attack that can’t be countered
  • Jump Attack – can perform a leap attack to reach players if they are at a distance
  • Mangler – attacks multiple times in order to hit the player in the gut
  • Poison Cloud – creates a poison cloud during a fight which stuns opponents
  • Quick Shot – shoots multiple times in rapid succession
  • Rapid Attack – attacks multiple times in quick succession. Each attack needs to be countered separately
  • Reposition/Grapple – can grab players and throw them around
  • Throat Grab – picks up an enemy by the throat
  • Wrecker – uses a shield for defense as well as to slam into enemies and impale them
  • Explosive Arrow – fires arrows that explode for area damage upon impact

Weapon: changes the type of damage which the Nemeses weapons deal to players

  • Flaming Weapon – uses weapons which are on fire for increased damage to enemies
  • Poison Weapon – weapons are coated with poison which deal damage over time
  • Savage Weapons – attacks by these weapons cause bleeding damage over time


  • Ambusher – Launches ambushes against his enemies.
  • Backlash – Counter attacks are not effective.
  • Battle-Hardened – Can’t be dominated, needs to be finished off.
  • Blood Thirsty – Recovers health from striking enemies.
  • Cautious – Averse to combat.
  • Deadly – Attacks do much more damage than most Uruks.
  • Deflect – Can deflect attacks.
  • Deflect and Counter, plus Quick Turn – Can deflect attacks and follow with a counter attack, turns quickly.
  • Regeneration – Continually heals rapidly.
  • Side Step – Can dodge thrown daggers
  • Skirmisher – Attempts to back away from combat.
  • Sneaky – Sometimes shows up unexpectedly.
  • Sniffer – Can smell out enemies who are hiding nearby.
  • Summoner – Calls nearby allies to join the fight.
  • Tracker – Can sense the presence of nearby enemies and hunt them down.
  • Vault Breaker – Blocks attempts to jump over him.
  • Monster Slayer – can kill monsters fairly quickly and is resistant to their attacks



  • Branded – the nemesis can be grabbed without having to first weaken him with attacks
  • Clumsy – similar to Branded, can be grabbed without having to be weakened
  • Damaged by Combat Executions – the nemesis can be injured for a fairly decent amount with combat executions
  • Damaged by Combat Finishers – the nemesis can be damaged by combat finishers
  • Damaged by Explosions – the nemesis can be damaged by explosions such as detonation of camp fires

Fear: these weaknesses scare an enemy causing them to flee the battle

  • Fear of Betrayal – becomes terrified when allied Uruks fight each other
  • Fear of Burning – becomes terrified when set on fire through an explosion or fire arrow
  • Fear of Caragors – runs in fear when the nemesis sees Caragors out of their cages or in open world
  • Fear of Graugs – becomes terrified upon seeing Graugs
  • Fear of Morgai Flies – becomes afraid when attacked by a swarm of Morgai Flies
  • Fear of Rival – the nemesis becomes terrified upon seen a Rival nemesis

Vulnerable: these weaknesses do a lot of damage to an Enemy or can even kill instantly

  • Vulnerable to Combat Finishers – can be killed instantly by using a Combat Finisher
  • Vulnerable to Mounted Beasts – can be killed instantly by mounted beasts such as dominated Caragors or Graugs
  • Vulnerable to Stealth Finishers – can be instantly killed through sneak attacks
  • Vulnerable to Ranged Attacks – can be killed instantly by a ranged attack such as a Charged Headshot, Fire Arrow or Shadow Strike

If there is anything you still don’t understand, comment and we will help you out!

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