(Actually, this post is more of a tongue-in-cheek whinge–and probably closer to a revelation than anything else.)
Radagast the Great?
The fact that Elves can out-evil my Team Evil army wasn’t the only thing I learned from that War of the Ring battle I played against the Galadhrim. My opponent and I both learned that Games Workshop has got a huge Space-Wolf-sized hard-on for Radagast the Brown. Radagast absolutely rocks in War of the Ring!
If you’re struggling to remember Radagast’s contribution in Tolkien’s books, it’s okay if you can’t: he was in the book for all of one page. That’s right; Glorfindel, the elf that nobody remembers (thanks Liv!), gets more face time in the book than Radagast does. Way more face time.
Here’s what we know about Radagast through Gandalf’s one page of narrative:
- Radagast is a master of shapes and “changer of hues” (a shapeshifter…and great with camouflage).
- Radagast’s knowledge of herbs and beasts is exemplary and he is friend of all animals.
- He was a bit of a shut in, traveling only when driven by great need.
- He felt warning Gandalf about the Nazgûl being active was not only quite a bit of effort on his part, but it was also keeping him away from his own (more important) matters.
Furthermore, on the same page Gandalf relates how Radagast urged him to head for Isengard—making Radagast an unwitting accomplice to Gandalf’s imprisonment by Saruman. Not only that, but Radagast is also the one responsible for making all beasts report to Isengard the movements of all things involved in the matters of the ring (the Fellowship’s journey south from Rivendell will soon fall into those parameters).
I think, from those facts and the points listed above, it’s not much of a stretch for one to envision Radagast as a detached wizard—almost to the point of naïveté—and too caught up in his personal agenda to concern himself with the affairs of the world.
(Later it’s revealed that messengers from Elrond tried to approach Radagast for aid in the fight against Sauron, but they found his dwellings empty—possibly Radagast fled into Mirkwood…or was removed by those in the nearby Evil Bastion, Dol Guldur. The fate of Radagast after the War of the Ring is not known.)
Luckily for those who want to win battles utilizing Brown Magic, that’s not what Games Workshop took from their reading of Tolkien’s book! No, GW’s understanding from that one page (plus whatever extra apocrypha might be at their disposal) is that Radagast the Brown is the chief officer of AWESOME in his Wizardly order!
Sure Radagast isn’t as offensive (heh) as Saruman the White, nor can he buff as well as Gandalf the Grey (can anyone?). Radagast, however, is a Swiss-Army knife of a wizard: he can do a bit of everything! His selection of spells sets that up pretty handily, and his ability to use his birds to give him line-of-sight everywhere on the table when casting only makes him better. Then there’s his ability that makes his formation charge as though they were cavalry!
But most importantly, there’s Radagast’s ‘Epic Tranquility’ ability; this alone makes Radagast worth the price of admission!
It’s pretty amazing what ‘Epic Tranquility’ does. I mean: Saruman—the guy whose voice is like an always-on Jedi mind-trick that can make you do what he wants just by talking normally to you—his ‘Voice of Saruman’ ability looks like a parlour trick compared to Radagast’s Epic Tranquility. Sure Saruman makes it so you can charge him only if you can first roll a 4+ on a single D6, (each formation wishing to charge him must make this roll). But Radagast, by expending a Might point, can make it so every enemy formation on the entire game board is stopped instantly from being able to charge Radagast’s formation for that turn—this from the guy who thought sparrows, bees and tending his potted plants were more important than getting involved to help, well…anyone.
Capping this all off, Radagast is the cheapest of all the wizards in points cost, making him look like the only wizard that always matters! (Caveat: Radagast will need–and benefit more than the other two wizards–to be accompanied by other epic heroes in your list.)
So why is it that Games Workshop has decided Radagast needs to be so full of awesome? When I first started writing this, I was fueled by the post-game frustration from the pasting Radagast had a hand in exacting on my Angmar army. But now, I’m just left wondering why GW has seemingly always invested more in him than they have the other wizards.
One need only look at Radagast in the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game to see what I mean: GW made Radagast a step up from the other two wizards: his ‘Panic Steed’ spell is more reliable at hamstringing a Fell-Beast-riding Nazgûl than any spell known by Gandalf or Saruman! Radagast can target any mounted model, and on a 2+ the spell is successfully cast. Once cast, the rider is thrown from his mount (and must roll on the appropriate table to see what happens to him) and then the mount is automatically removed from the game.
That’s right: no one can kill a mount better than Radagast can! (Good thing heroes riding giant dragons don’t exist in this game!) While Radagast isn’t quite as bloodthirsty in War of the Ring, I still maintain he delivers the most bang for his buck, as far as wizards go.
On second thought…
Looking back at just how instrumental Radagast was at hindering the Fellowship’s quest, perhaps he does deserve the level of power GW has bestowed him. If so, he but should probably instead be a lot more of a loose cannon–kinda’ like a, y’know…. a force of nature.
Am I wrong with this post? Is Radagast too awesome when compared to his portrayal in The Fellowship of the Ring? Am I way off base?