The best Lord of the Rings strategy game is still not legally available

I have a craving for The Lord of the Rings, but can’t satisfy it. Ever since the Rings of Power made words like Númenor, Harfoots, and Morgoth part of my everyday language, I’ve been looking for a video game that offers the same cinematic Tolkien action. I specifically had one in mind: EA’s excellent real-time strategy game Battle for Middle-earth from 2004.

I originally had the game on disc, but it’s been gathering dust somewhere in my parents’ house for the past few years. Even if I could find the box, my PC has long since lost the optical drive it needs to run it. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll turn to Steam for my strategic Tolkien solution” – only to see a disappointingly empty search page. Valve’s storefront features plenty of Lord of the Rings games, but Battle for Middle-earth isn’t one of them.