Thursday, 23 November 2017

Developer's Letter: Beyond Mordor

We've just got a letter from the Executive Producer of LOTRO and I'm excited. We're going to Northern Mirkwood and Dale and Erebor and Laketown and Thranduil's Court! There's all these places on the map of Middle Earth we've heard about but never seen and maybe next year, we'll get to see some of them. I can't wait! I love exploring and visiting new places.

Also, I have a burglar from Dale who got caught stealing jewellery and brought shame to her family, so she got sent to live with an aunt in Bree. She's been trying to make up for her past but she never thought she'd get to see her hometown or family again. Now I'll have to level her up so she can go home a hero!

It's great to hear there will be new additions to the Anniversary event and Summer Festival and the quest-line that began with Bingo Boffin at Harvestmath will continue. I love holiday events but they need to keep updating so they don't get boring "been there, done that". It sounds like we'll be able to get an elk mount at the Yule festival, and if so, that will definitely be on my wish-list. First horses and goats, then reindeer and now elks - mounts are slowly getting more variety.

There's a new raid coming out before the end of the year, The Abyss of Mordath. I haven't raided for a long time, but it sounds like it has a really interesting story behind it that makes me want to see it.

One disappointment is that there are lots of new housing decorations being added, but many will be locked behind the raid and Gorgoroth lootboxes. Grrr. I'm grateful that housing is getting more attention, but I wish nice decorations were more readily available - they're mostly either gated behind limited time holiday events, high level content or the LOTRO store. Why can't low level characters enjoy decorating their houses too? The Housing Furnishers in the housing neighbourhoods have a very limited range. We don't all have the patience of elves for slowly collecting one piece of nice furniture now and then over years and years. I think I've been spoilt by housing dimensions in Rift, as no other MMO housing system I've seen has been anywhere near as comprehensive or accessible.

Musicians will finally be able to play the fiddle! Imagine the concerts as bards all over Middle Earth embrace the instrument and compose new songs! Will it have any special effects for minstrels? Will woodworkers be able to craft fiddles? Will this be the beginning of a new golden age for Middle Earth music?!?

Oh and Dwarves and Hobbits will be getting their avatar makeovers. Some of my women and elves weren't very happy with their new look, but I've either got used to it now or visited the barber to make small adjustments. Overall I don't think the makeovers were worth it; it's not like the characters went from looking awful to looking amazing. More appearance options would have been just as good as changing the base avatars. I guess it was something that players demanded for a long time and the developers felt like they had to do it.

Well, it seems there is a lot planned for 2018. I really need to get a few characters through Mordor so they can continue the journey beyond. And I need to level up my burglar - she's only 30. Maybe I can do a levelling marathon over the Christmas holidays? I can't believe this year is almost over!  

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Character-boosted Minstrel in Mordor Level 105: Udun

I decided to boost another character to level 105 so they could enter Mordor. It was a close competition between my champion and my minstrel. Both have their crafting professions up to Doomfold level and can make level 100 legendary items (my champ is a weaponsmith and my minstrel is a tailor). Both are enjoyable to play and can manage most content with ease. In the end, I chose my minstrel because my champ was having fun questing in Moria while my minstrel was parked in Enedwaith feeling a little bored. She needs more action!

Cantara the minstrel

Time to compose Cantara's new chant "Misadventures in Mordor".

Character boost package
Cantara opened the Aria of the Valar upgrade package, looked at all the new goodies then clicked on the Aria of the Valar. There was a loud ringing of the gong then she was whisked away to the Camp of the Host in The Wastes and found herself standing before Aragorn and Gandalf as a level 105 minstrel. She quickly equipped her new armour, weapons and skills.

Cantara's stats after being boosted to level 105

Aragorn had an epic quest for her, Volume IV, Book 8: The Black Gate. She got a glimpse of what was happening with Frodo, Sam and Gollum sneaking into Mordor by a secret path, while Aragorn and his host prepared for a more direct approach.

Playing the wardrums at the Battle of the Morannon

Since I'm playing a minstrel, I have to mention how awesome the background music for the Battle of the Morannon quest instance is. It feels so momentous, with the sense of frenzy and the direness of the situation - sometimes it sounds so ominous like disaster is imminent and other times it soars as though heroic deeds taking place across the battlefield are beacons of light and hope bursting out of the darkness. It sends chills down my spine and has me on the edge of my seat, waiting for the next bar of dramatic music to unfold. Brilliant.

Finally, the epic quest was over and the victors celebrated and recovered at the Fields of Cormallen. Two out of the three legendary items Cantara got in the upgrade pack are due for reforging and her bags are almost full, but Cantara has been sent back to the Black Gate and a new adventure begins - The Black Book of Mordor.

At Cirith Gorgor, just inside the Black Gate, Cantara met some NPC adventurers who will also be heading into Mordor, for knowledge, treasure, memories and the desire for proof that Sauron is truly gone. At the Udûn Foothold, she hears that Captain Lachír is missing and rumours that the forgeworkers have a secret way of communicating via signal flags. So she has some missions to prepare for. Narthavron, the Master Smith at the Foothold, introduces the Ashes of Gorgoroth mechanic for deconstructing unwanted Mordor equipment into ashes which can be bartered for useful equipment.

Cantara called on my other characters to get some second age legendaries crafted. The symbols for a First Age were a bit too expensive (hopefully by the time she reaches level 115 she can obtain them) and she will need to level several legendaries to get the right legacies and enhancements. She also needed a new pocket item because that didn't come in the equipment pack with the upgrade.

The mobs in Udûn are at least level 106 and were certainly a lot more difficult to defeat than the mobs at the Battle of the Morannon. While Cantara was still level 105, I tried to mainly fight the swarm ones with the green portrait frame border, such as the gore-crows, slag-slugs and frenzied nurnhoth as they were much easier and had a smaller health pool. A lot of the quests are picked up from the landscape rather than from a quest-giver so you really have to look around and check everything to see if it is useful or interactive.

Gorgoroth wood and skarn were fairly common, especially along the road near Anglach, but hides are rather rare due to the lack of beasts around. I guess I will be relying on the crafting chests found in ruins and strongholds (although level 106 is required to open the Gorgoroth Crafting Bundles in the chests).

Rusty Small Chests contain Gorgoroth Crafting Bundles
with random Doomfold crafting materials
 
I got my first piece of Mordor gear from a quest, a ring with +2 Light of Earendil which will help counter the debuffs from the Shadow of Mordor which reduce your damage and healing. My quests took me into Anglach, where Captain Lachír was last seen, but most of the mobs there are level 107 and they do a lot more damage to me than I do to them. Buff food and consumables will come in handy in Mordor.

I also found several Gorgoroth Steel-bound Lootboxes. These require a special Black Steel Key which can be earned from max-level dailies (doesn't help me) or from the LOTRO Store (grrrr). They could contain some really good gear, but since I can't open them and they're not worth much on the auction house or in trade (because most other people can't open them either), I'll be throwing them away so they don't clog up my bags. Seems like a waste but oh well.

Cantara reached level 106 and has picked up quite a few quests. Hopefully she will get some more Mordor gear soon and can delve further into Udûn.

First verse:
The gloom, the gloom, the gloom of Udûn
Forges and slaves abandoned to doom
Shadows of Mordor drain all power
Till nothing can live, not even a flower.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Introducing the Lore-master: Level 1-20

Lore-master is my favourite class in LOTRO. They have everything - magic spells to cast from a distance, melee attacks if the mobs are close, healing spells, lots of utility, buffs and debuffs and a variety of pets to choose from that can tank, dps or heal. Like Gandalf, they wield a staff and a sword, and also like Gandalf, they are a powerful ally for any group.

Here I'll record my experience levelling a lore-master from level 1 to 20, talking about skills, specs, pets and anything else that might be useful to know.

Level 1 Elf Lore-master

Here's our brand new lore-master and some information about her:
  • Wears light armour
  • Wields a staff (can wield a sword in off-hand at higher levels)
  • Primary stat is Will
  • Starts with a bear as a pet
  • Starting abilities are: Burning Embers (a damage-over-time fire spell that also slows enemies), Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire (an instant-cast damage-over time fire spell that can restore some health if your pet has recently "flanked" the enemy), Gust of Wind (a frost spell that can spread Burning Embers to nearby mobs), Lightning Strike (a lightning spell that deals extra damage if the enemy is affected by Burning Embers), Staff-strike (a melee attack that deals extra damage if your pet has recently "flanked" the enemy) and Friend of Bears (summons your bear pet).
Starting pet is a bear

Your pet has a special skill bar:

  • Attack - tell your pet to attack your selected target
  • Follow - tell your pet to follow you
  • Stay - tell your pet to stay still unless it enters combat
  • Aggressive Mode - your pet will attack anything in range
  • Passive Mode - your pet won't attack anything unless you tell it to
  • Guard Mode - your pet will only attack if you or it is attacked
  • Assist Mode - your pet will attack whichever target you attack
  • Return to Master - your pet will instantly return to you (out of combat only)
The final three abilities are pet specific. Bears start with one ability and unlock the other two abilities at higher levels.
  • Roaring Challenge - your pet will taunt the target

Your pet can provide a special "flanked" debuff to mobs that make them more vulnerable and gives some of your attacks bonus effects - like restoring health or power. A chiming sound will play when the debuff occurs.

The flanked debuff looks like an open mouth

You can also rename your pets. Right click on your pet's portrait/health bar to open the pet menu and select "Rename [Pet name]". There is also an option to "Dismiss [Pet name]" which can be useful sometimes, for example to switch pets or when you level up. Your pet does not automatically level up with you if it is summoned (the "floaty name" over its head may turn blue, showing it is lower level than you), so dismiss pet and re-summon then your pet will level up too.

Right click for pet menu

The first quest in the introduction provides a satchel that contains a better staff. At level 2 you are sent to the Lore-master trainer. They tell you how your bear will aid you with its strength and its ability to draw the attention of the mobs away from you (i.e. it can taunt and tank mobs), and asks you to practise summoning it. Once summoned, you can see your pet on the mini-map as a large blue dot. If it gets too far away from you, your pet will despawn and need to be re-summoned.

At level 4 you get a healing spell, Light of Hope. It can be used on pets or allies, but not yourself.

At level 6 you get Sign of Power: Command. This is a debuff that reduces the enemy's attack speed and chance to parry attacks. It can be used before combat without causing any threat/aggro (won't make the mob attack).

Also at level 6, you can choose a specialisation. The options are:
  • Blue = Keeper of Animals - focuses on the mutually beneficial relationship between the lore-master and their pet. Your pet gets increased health and stats and your spells become instant-cast when your pet delivers a critical strike.
  • Red = Master of Nature's Fury - focuses on your DPS. You do more fire damage and Lightning Strike has a chance to strike twice. Your pet gets a small buff to health and damage.
  • Yellow = The Ancient Master -  focuses on crowd control, debuffing enemies and providing group support buffs. You also gain the skill Test of Will which deals light damage and stuns enemies, and Burning Embers deals extra damage to stunned mobs.
Blue spec is great for soloing and has good survivability. Red spec is most popular in groups because it has the highest DPS. It has particularly good AOE damage. Yellow spec can be useful as support in groups for crowd control and buffs/debuffs, but it lacks DPS and pet synergy.

At level 7 you get your first trait point to put into your chosen specialisation. I normally play Blue spec, so I decided to try Red spec and put my first point in Master of Fire to increase fire damage by 5% (most of our damage will be fire). You get a new trait point every odd level.

After completing the introduction, don't forget to check your mail for the adventurer's gift. It contains several useful items and starts a couple of quests, including one that rewards 5 Tokens of Salutations which can be traded with the Barterer for a pocket item that increases run speed and some health or power potions. The run speed buff can be quite helpful, especially if you don't have a mount.

At level 10 you get Blinding Flash, a crowd control skill which interrupts and dazes a target for up to 30 seconds. You are now eligible for Epic Battles such as Retaking Pelargir, but although you get scaled up to level 100, without all your equipment slots filled and with limited abilities, it may not be a very successful or satisfactory experience.

At level 14 you get an AOE fire skill, Cracked Earth, which also roots mobs in place.

At level 15 you get a new pet: Raven-lore lets you summon a Raven which debuffs enemies. The raven starts with two specialised skills - Benediction of the Raven which makes the target more vulnerable to fire damage, and Distraction which causes a light damage-over-time effect,  decreases a target's ranged damage by 50% and increases the target's miss chance. You can only have one pet active at a time.

The pet raven debuffs enemies

Also at level 15, you should get a quest to visit the Lore-master Trainer in Bree, who wants you to help Dorset Oakes who is near the Yellow Tree to the south of town. His father was a great Lore-master and built a library in a cave in Bree-land, but Dorset needs help finding a book "On the Hardiness of Animals in the Wilderness" before the library is overrun by invading goblins.

Benton Oakes' Library

Completing the class quest earns you the title "the Well-ordered Mind" and new robes.

You get two utility skills at level 16: Knowledge of Cures that removes debuffs such as poison, wounds, fear or disease from you or an ally (very useful!), and Power of Knowledge which is a channeled life-steal skill that reduces the enemy's health and power, and increases your own.

You get two crowd-control skills at level 18. Bane Flare is a short-range AOE skill that will daze up to 5 enemies nearby. Light of the Rising Dawn deals light damage to a single target and stuns them for 3 seconds. I find Light of the Rising Dawn is a very useful skill - it hits hard (especially against Orcs, Goblins, Trolls and Spiders), stuns, has a fast cast time and a reasonably short cooldown (30 seconds).

At level 19, your pets unlock some new skills. The bear gets Shatter Arms which is an armour debuff that increases the melee and ranged damage taken by an enemy by 10%. The raven gets Evasion which increases the raven's chance to avoid damage, especially shadow damage.

Level 20 grants many new passive and active abilities. Knowledge of the Lore-master is a debuff you can use before combat to inspect an enemy and find out more about their strengths and weaknesses, and also reduces their resistances to most types of damage. Wind-lore is a debuff which increases damage taken by the enemy. Clever Escape is a utility skill that frees you from crowd-control effects such as a daze or stun.

Friend of Nature lets you summon a new pet: the Bog-guardian looks rather strange but is quite effective at dealing ranged damage. It has three special abilities on its skill bar: Angry Bees (deals damage over time), Root Strike (a burst of damage that makes the enemy more vulnerable to critical strikes from ranged attacks) and Bursting Root (a burst of damage with a chance to stun the enemy).

The bog-guardian deals ranged damage

You also gain the passive ability to use books of lore in your class slot. A basic book can be purchased from the lore-master class trainer, and better versions can be crafted by scholars. These books reduce the power costs of certain abilities and are later replaced by legendary lore-master books which buff your character and make some abilities more powerful.

At level 20, there are three types of books of lore available:
  • Book of Beasts - decreases power cost of Sign of the Wild skills (these skills are now obsolete so don't get this book!).
  • Book of Nature - decreases power cost of Lore skills (such as Wind-lore and Knowledge of the Lore-master; these are useful debuff skills so this book may be some benefit).
  • Book of the Dúnedain - decreases power cost of Sign of Power/Battle (Sign of Power: Command is a useful debuff skill and Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire is a key damage-over-time skill so this book will give the most benefit).

You can obtain special pet food, either from the class trainer or crafted by cooks:
  • Bears like honey and oats to increase their armour, mitigations and threat (so they're more tanky). 
  • Birds like crumbs to increase their mitigations, melee damage and chance to evade attacks (so they can be agile while they peck their target).
  • Bog-guardians like water to increase their mitigations, ranged damage and power (so they can keep casting).

Jewellers can craft brooches that can be equipped in the ranged slot from level 20 onwards. There are two types of brooches: Brooches of Rage give your active pet offensive bonuses by increasing critical strike rating, while Brooches of Regrowth give your active pet more defensive bonuses by increasing their morale regeneration and chance to evade attacks. Jewellers can also craft talismans which change the look of your pet - for example, instead of a black raven you could have a white frost-raven, or, instead of a brown bear you could have a tundra bear cub.

After reaching level 20, I visited the Skirmish Camp and upgraded my questing gear. Here's how my lore-master looks now:

Level 20 Elf Lore-master

I then went to the training dummies in the Training Hall in Bree and tested each spec's DPS with no consumable buffs active over 3 minutes or until I ran out of power, and took a screenshot at the end to eliminate the effects of DoTs that kept going after I stopped attacking. I repeated this for each test and recorded the best result below. I also compared the DPS of different active pets. For virtues, I had four tiers of Charity and one tier of Compassion. With my 7 trait points, I focused on damage-boosting traits where possible.

Normally I would try to use Sign of Power: Command and Wind-lore debuffs on my target, but for the training dummy I didn't because the Combat Analysis plugin reset if I wasn't dealing damage constantly. My rotation was Burning Embers followed by Wizard's Fire twice (the first Wizard's Fire debuff gets upgraded to a more powerful version called Searing Embers if the Burning Embers debuff is present), Lightning Strike then Wizard's Fire twice (to refresh DoTs and prevent Combat Analysis from resetting), Light of the Rising Dawn then Wizard's Fire twice, then Burning Embers followed by Wizard's Fire twice is repeated several times until Lightning Strike and Light of the Rising Dawn are off cooldown.

Here are my DPS results comparing each pet while in Master of Nature's Fury spec (collected with Combat Analysis plugin; LM = Lore-master):

StatisticsBearRavenBog-guardian
Pet Damage94101761423334
LM Damage9172953610298
Time3 m 0.3 s3 m 0.4s3 m 0.3 s
Pet DPS52.297.6129.4
LM DPS50.952.957.1
Combined DPS103.1150.5186.5
Minimum Hit121212
Average Hit47.149.951.7
Maximum Hit327314327
Attacks263252260
Critical Strikes (%)68 (25.9%)51 (20.2%)66 (25.4%)
Power (%)1058/1318 (80.3%)424/1318 (32.2%)924/1318 (70.1%)
Skill Priorities:
  1. Burning Embers
  2. Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire
  3. Lightning Strike
  4. Light of the Rising Dawn
  1. Burning Embers
  2. Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire
  3. Lightning Strike
  4. Light of the Rising Dawn
  1. Burning Embers
  2. Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire
  3. Lightning Strike
  4. Light of the Rising Dawn

I was surprised to see how much my power dropped when using the raven pet. Is it using my power to fuel its attacks? These tests showed that the Lore-master has pretty low dps and the active pet is critical for our damage output.

Blue spec gains access to another pet, the Lesser Giant Eagle at level 17 (requires 6 trait points). The eagle deals melee damage, has a battle rez and provides a Nobility buff that grants both you and the eagle increased in-combat power regeneration. Its special abilities on the pet bar are: Fan the Flames (deals burst damage and has a fear effect), Beak Rend (a life-steal skill that deals damage and restores health to the eagle), and Sacrifice (can resurrect lore-master if eagle is still in combat).

The lesser giant eagle has a battle-rez


Here are my DPS results with the Lesser Giant Eagle in Keeper of Animals (Blue) spec:

StatisticsLesser Giant Eagle
Pet Damage19531
LM Damage6922
Time3 m 0.4 s
Pet DPS108.3
LM DPS38.1
Combined DPS146.4
Minimum Hit9
Average Hit37.2
Maximum Hit232
Attacks250
Critical Strikes (%)62 (24.8%)
Power (%)877/1318 (66.5%)
Skill Priorities:
  1. Burning Embers
  2. Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire
  3. Lightning Strike
  4. Light of the Rising Dawn

DPS with the raven and eagle seems to be similar, so unless you really want the special features the eagle offers, it's not necessary to spend trait points to get it. As expected, combined DPS was highest when paired with the bog-guardian. I then compared each spec with the bog-guardian active:

StatisticsKeeper of Animals (Blue)Master of Nature's Fury (Red)The Ancient Master (Yellow)
Pet Damage217522333414998
LM Damage7473102987028
Time3 m 0.4 s3 m 0.3 s 3 m 0.3 s
Pet DPS120.6129.483.2
LM DPS41.457.139.0
Combined DPS162.0186.5122.2
Minimum Hit9129
Average Hit37.451.736.2
Maximum Hit315327315
Attacks262260256
Critical Strikes (%)64 (24.4%)66 (25.4%)50 (19.5%)
Power (%)617/1318 (46.8%)924/1318 (70.1%)422/1318 (32.0%)
Skill Priorities:
  1. Burning Embers
  2. Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire
  3. Lightning Strike
  4. Light of the Rising Dawn
  1. Burning Embers
  2. Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire
  3. Lightning Strike
  4. Light of the Rising Dawn
  1. Burning Embers
  2. Sign of Battle: Wizard's Fire
  3. Lightning Strike
  4. Light of the Rising Dawn

Red was clearly the best spec for damage-dealing. At higher levels, several new pets become available such as a lynx (ST melee damage and bleeds), a sabertooth cat (AOE melee frost damage) and spirit of nature (healing). It would be interesting to see how their damage compares to the pets shown above, although I suspect the bog-guardian would still be the winner.

General Observations


Some of your skills cost morale as well as power, so looking after your health is important. Little heals from casting Wizard's Fire on a flanked target, Power of Knowledge, Water-lore, Inner Flame and Wisdom of the Council can all help keep you alive. Increasing your Fate stat can also help with in-combat regeneration and increasing your Morale means you can use more skills with less risk of dying.

Lore-masters were originally the only class to have non-combat pets such as rabbits, sparrows, frogs, and turtles which could be obtained through special class quests, faction vendors or tomes that rarely dropped from mobs in Angmar. Now everyone can get non-combat pets, but some are still only available to lore-masters. 

Lore-masters have a huge toolkit of abilities and there are many more skills to add at higher levels, including AOE abilities, out-of-combat resurrection, more heals (Water-lore is a very useful heal-over-time skill that can be used on yourself or allies, while Inner Flame heals you and your pet and provide a fire damage buff), survival (Wisdom of the Council heals 50% of your morale, reduces damage taken, reflects damage and stuns those who attack you) and utility skills (e.g. slow mobs, detect stealthed mobs, restore power to allies, dispel corruptions, protect an ally from crowd-control or interruptions).

The trait trees also provide some iconic abilities, with Blue having Sic'Em which lets you summon a stampede of pets to attack your target, Red has Ring of Fire which spreads fire over a large area and Lightning Storm which deals a strong burst of AOE lightning damage, while Yellow has Warding Knowledge which places a ward on the ground that causes enemies on it to take more damage and miss more often.

Specialisations


Blue - Keeper of Animals: Look after your pet and your pet will look after you. You can solo a lot of content in Blue spec, especially with the bear tanking and you healing and cleansing debuffs from it, but it can be slow, like you're gradually whittling away at the enemy's morale.  If you're feeling squishy, blue may be a good spec to try because it has great survivability. I have had a lot of fun levelling as blue on other characters, and felt like my pets and I had been through so much together, they're like kin members.

Red - Master of Nature's Fury: I would recommend Red as the default levelling spec for lore-masters. It has more damage and feels faster, more exciting and dramatic, like an elemental mage with fire and lightning bursting all over the place like Gandalf's fireworks! It is also a lot of fun, but be careful not to take on too much because although you have great AOE and a pet, you are not a tank and can't take a beating.

Yellow - The Ancient Master: Buffs and debuffs and crowd control are great, but focussing on them instead of dealing damage makes levelling feel very slow and tedious. It is probably more useful at high levels when your role is supporting a group, or as a secondary spec once you've filled your main spec - i.e. once you reach the bottom of the Red or Blue tree, you might want to spend some trait points in Yellow on Fire-lore (melee damage debuff), Frost-lore (tactical damage debuff) and Mending Lore (increases healing).

Stats

  • Will - your main stat that increases damage
  • Morale and Vitality - increases survivability 
  • Fate - increases survivabilty (morale/power regeneration) and damage (critical strike chance and magnitude)
  • Critical Strike rating - increases damage
  • Mitigations and resistances - reduces damage taken

These stats should help make the levelling process a bit easier in the beginning. Look for light armour with will and maybe some jewellery with critical strike rating or fate. Morale is always helpful (vitality also increases morale). The best place to get mitigations and resistances at low level is probably from virtues.

Here are some virtues that may be helpful for Lore-masters and how to get them by level 20:

VirtueActivityDeed
INNOCENCE

(physical mitigation, tactical mitigation, resistance)
Complete 75 quests in The ShireLife of a Bounder (Final)(The Shire)
COMPASSION

(physical mitigation, tactical mitigation, non-combat power regeneration)
Complete 15 quests in The Shire

Complete 20 quests in Ered Luin
Life of a Bounder (The Shire)

Defender of Ered Luin (Ered Luin)
WISDOM

(will, in-combat power regeneration, resistance)

Explore Elf-ruins in Ered Luin

Explore the Old Forest in Bree-land

Find pages from the Journal of Cardolan in the Barrow-downs
Elf-ruins Exploration (Ered Luin)

The Old Forest (Bree-land)

Lore of the Cardolan Prince (Bree-land)

IDEALISM

(will, fate, resistance)
Find relics of the Dúnedain in Bree-land

Find flowers in The Old Forest in Bree-land
The History of the Dúnedain (Bree-land)

Flowers of the Old Forest (Bree-land)
PATIENCE

(physical mitigation, resistance, in-combat power regeneration)
Explore Dwarven settlements in Ered Luin

Retrieve spoiled pies in The Shire

Deliver mail between settlements in The Shire

Explore the ruins of Bree-land

Explore the Barrow-downs in Bree-land
Places of the Dwarves (Ered Luin)

No Place for Spoiled Pies (The Shire)

Restoring the Quick Post (The Shire)

The Ruins of Bree-land (Bree-land)

The Barrow-downs (Bree-land)
ZEAL

(morale, physical mitigation, armour)
Defeat 90 goblins in Ered Luin

Defeat 90 spiders in Ered Luin

Defeat 90 Barrow-spiders in Bree-land
Goblin-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Spider-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Brood-hunter (Advanced)(Bree-land)
FIDELITY

(tactical mitigation, vitality, power)
Explore landmarks in The Shire

Explore Dourhand strongholds in Ered Luin
The Sights of the Shire (The Shire)

Scouting the Dourhands (Ered Luin)

Pros of the Lore-master Class

  • Versatile - provides DPS, heals, buffs, debuffs, crowd-control, utility
  • Lots of pets to choose from (different types of pets and appearances)
  • Reasonable ST and AOE damage
  • Has ranged and melee abilities
  • Great at soloing and also very useful in groups

Cons of the Lore-master Class

  • Can be squishy
  • Low DPS without pet active
  • Complex class with lots of situational abilities to master

I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to leave any questions or advice for new lore-masters in the comments below.

Coming soon in the Introducing X Class series: the Minstrel.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Fall Festival and Bingo's Return

There's been some drama this week with Update 21.2. This update includes two new Mordor dungeons, new max level gear, a new improved Mount Collection interface, new filtering options for quests and items, removal of the crafting quest required to unlock Artisan crafting, and many other fixes and quality of life changes.

The drama is about the new max level gear having the wrong price and/or stats. This is being fixed, but some players are not happy with how it has been handled. Standing Stone Games decided to offer everyone 50 Mithril Coins per account by redeeming the code MORDORMITHRIL at the LOTRO Store before October 22.

The Harvestmath/Fall Festival has arrived with some nice new goodies. The Autumn Leafmail armour set (hauberk or dress, shoulders, shield and a hooded or unhooded cloak) and the new steed look great and matches the outfit too with the pale golden leaf theme.


Autumn Leafmail Dress and Cloak

Steed of the Eldar Autumn

Bingo Boffin makes a return with an interesting new spooky quest-line! I hope there is a follow-up - it left me curious to know more about the Spectral Vision's threat.

Bingo Boffin telling tales around the campfire

My Burglar got the Steed of Gloaming Autumn and I'm impressed - at night its eyes and the pattern on the blanket glow orange, which looks awesome. Only 30 Fall Festival tokens too!


Steed of the Gloaming Autumn

Steed of the Gloaming Autumn (glows in the dark!)

I'm very happy about the new improved Mounts Collection interface. Finally we can see all the mounts available, preview what they look like and find out how to get them in-game.

Updated Mounts Collection interface

There seem to have been quite a few crafting changes, particularly for Doomfold crafting, such as making daily crafting recipes available to more professions that use those materials, increasing stack-sizes for food, reducing the amount of daily-gated materials needed for jewellery, and making Doomfold materials drop from some Mordor mobs and items that were previously giving Anórien materials. Removing the quest for unlocking Artisan crafting will eliminate a roadblock for many new players who get Expert Proficiency then don't understand why they can't progress any more. While I'd like to see more crafting quests, I think they should be optional and perhaps reward rare recipes for cosmetic skins or "flavour" items that are not essential but are fun to collect.

Apart from the new gear drama, I think there's a lot of good stuff in this update. I especially liked seeing Bingo return for the festival - it's like catching up with an old friend.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Farmer's Faire, Mordor Allegiances and the Mount Sale

So the Farmer's Faire has come and gone. There wasn't much new stuff this time, so I sent a couple low level characters on my free-to-play account to participate so they could get some cosmetic gear and a mount.

Farmer's Fancy Dress and Circlet of Fresh-picked Flowers cosmetic gear.
Goat of the Harvest Sky mount.
Farmer's Second Favourite Steed mount.
Surcoat of the Yield, Gardening Gloves and Gardening Boots cosmetic gear.

Myndariel has reached level 110 in Mordor - I know, she's going slow, but she has struggled to complete the quests in the fortresses like Durthang in Udûn and Barad-dûr in Dor Amarth. The mobs take so long to kill and respawn so fast and defeat means a long run back and fighting through all the mobs again. She'll get it done eventually. She's taking breaks and going back to North Ithilien and The Wastes to do the 250 repeatable gardening quests so she can get the mount reward (which I've heard is beautiful).

Meanwhile, she's chosen the Elf allegiance and the introduction to that is great. The Court of Lothlórien looks amazing and it's interesting to see more of Thranduil and Galadriel and what they have been up to while we were fighting through Gondor towards Mordor.

Court of Lothlórien (Elf Allegiance Hall)

And finally, I decided to splash out on a new mount in the LOTRO store mount sale. I thought my High Elf Hunter needed a mount that suited her ancient armour and after much deliberation, decided on the Obsidian Steed. I think it's perfect!

Obsidian Steed

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Introducing the Hunter: Level 1-20 (High Elf Edition)

Hunters are ranged archers, shooting their targets with bows from afar or using traps and decoys to control their opponents' position. They have melee weapons ready for close combat and a range of utility skills, including transporting themselves or a group to many important cities or camps throughout Middle Earth (see Travelling Around Middle Earth for more information). They are a strong DPS class with three interesting specialisations.

Here I'll record my experience levelling as a hunter from level 1 to 20, talking about skills and specs and anything else that may be useful to know. The High Elf starting experience is a little different from normal but once you complete the introduction the levelling should be similar between races.

Level 1 High Elf Hunter

Here's our brand new hunter and some basic information about her:
  • Hunters wear medium armour
  • Primary stat is Agility
  • The main weapon is a bow, but also dual-wield one-handed melee weapons such as daggers, swords, or axes.
  • Starting abilities are: Quick Shot (a ranged attack that generates focus), Penetrating Shot (a ranged attack that costs focus and bypasses enemy mitigations) and Blindside (a melee attack followed by a close-range ranged attack).

Focus is a key resource used by hunters. You build it up and then spend it on powerful attacks. At higher levels you will gain abilities that let you build it up quickly before or during battle. You could also gain bonus focus or reduce focus costs when using certain skills.

The high elf is initially scaled up to level 110 in the introduction in stats but not skills, and starts with a bow and a pair of daggers (one of the daggers is in your bags). When you return to Elrond's House, you are returned to level 1 stats. You receive a gift from Elrond which contains your old armour from the Second Age, some armour dyes, a housing decoration (a Radiant Basin), some basic food and some healing potions. You also gain the Milestone skill, automatically set to Celondim in Ered Luin, and the novice passive skill.

Arrival in Celondim, Ered Luin

The high elf is boosted to level 5 on arrival in Celondim. You also gain several skills:
  • Set Trap: place a trap at your feet that will deal damage and root enemies in place for 30 seconds, giving you time to get away.
  • Stance - Strength: this stance can be toggled on or off and increases your damage and critical chance. It also gives Quick Shot a slowing effect.
  • Barbed Arrow: a ranged attack that generates focus, causes a bleeding effect (damage over time) and slows enemies.

At level 6 you can choose a specialisation. Here are the different specialisations you can choose:
  • Blue = Huntsman - you can shoot while moving; you also gain Barrage (a ranged shot that costs focus and deals more damage each time it is used) and Scourging Blow (a melee attack that deals more damage if the enemy is bleeding from Barbed Arrow).
  • Red = Bowmaster - you can attack faster and have greater range; you also gain Pinning Shot which roots an enemy in place for 5 seconds.
  • Yellow = Trapper of Foes - you have many crowd control options and can cast traps while moving; you also gain Lingering Wound (an instant ranged attack that causes a bleed effect and stacks up to 4 times) and Decoy (an object that causes enemies to attack it instead of you).

I've played all the specs on various hunters and they're all good, with different playstyles. Blue offers great mobility and sustained damage, Red needs to stand still to shoot but has high burst damage, and Yellow has lots of crowd control and defensive buffs.

At level 7 you get your first trait point to spend in your chosen specialisation. You get additional trait points every odd level from now on, as well as from some quests and deeds.

At level 8 you gain the Focus skill which lets you fill up your Focus before combat so you can start with some strong attacks.

At level 10 you gain a couple of skills: Swift Bow, which generates 2 focus and hits hard, but has a long cast time (can be a useful opening skill, if the enemy doesn't know you're winding up a big shot), and Passage of Nature, which lets you track beasts (good for finding rare mobs or quest objectives). You are also now eligible to take part in Epic Battles such as Retaking Pelargir, but although you get scaled to level 100, without all the equipment slots filled and with limited abilities you will be very vulnerable, so it may not be a very successful or satisfactory experience.

You get a great skill at level 12: Find the Path. This is a toggled ability that gives you and your nearby fellowship members a run-speed buff when out of combat. You probably want this on all the time, so when you log in, change specs or get defeated you may need to turn it on again.

At level 14 you can Purge Poison (as well as wounds, disease and fear debuffs) from yourself.

By the time you get to level 15 you've probably got several quests sending you to Bree and Bree-land. At level 15 you get a quest in the mail suggesting you should visit a hunter trainer. The hunter trainer urges you to seek out Gytha Lainey at Adso's Camp in Bree-land who needs you to track down a wolf in the Old Forest.

Track down and defeat Yellowfang in the Old Forest

On completing the quest, you receive a furry helmet and the title "Swift Arrow".

At level 15 you also gain some passive abilities, namely that you can now wield clubs, hammers and maces, and you can also use Hand-wrought Traps (except these weaponsmith recipes and items are obsolete and no longer in the game).

I had been levelling as Yellow, but I switched to Red. At the Brigand's Watch camp in Bree-land, it seemed almost unfair that I could stand there, fill up my focus bar and then one-shot three of the brigands as fast as I could cast Penetrating Shot three times. They didn't even have time to warn their friends standing right next to them.

The Precision stance becomes available at level 16. With this stance toggled on, you gain some focus every 5 seconds, a brief finesse buff upon activation and Quick Shot has an increased critical strike chance.

At level 18 you get an AOE melee attack, Low Cut, which also slows enemies. I still had quests to do in Vale of Andrath and Adso's Camp, but I decided to head to the Barrow-downs because the rewards are better and I knew I would reach level 20 quickly there.

Usually there are racial deeds to be completed before gaining racial trait skills, but at level 19 I automatically got the High Elf skill Wrath of the Firstborn which, when slotted, gives you and your fellowship a 5% damage boost for 10 seconds on a 10 minute cooldown.

At level 20 you gain several skills which aid survival. Cry of the Hunter dazes and slows nearby mobs and gives you a morale "bubble" which absorbs damage and a speed boost to help you get away. You also get Desperate Flight which lets you travel instantly to the nearest rally point, on a 30 minute cooldown. Then there are also some new passive abilities: you can use Fire-oil when causes some of your shots to do extra fire damage to mobs. Fire-oil can be made by scholars or bought from Hunter Trainers. You can also use spears now.

Great view of Bree from the Dead-man's Perch
I went to the skirmish camp to upgrade any gear I could and found that skirmish gear is invisible on High Elves, at least in the character window. Fortunately I still had cosmetic armour showing or that might be embarrassing!

Here's how my hunter looks at level 20 now:

Level 20 High Elf Hunter (with invisible skirmish armour)

I then went to the training dummies in the Training Hall in Bree and found several other people using the dummies so I did the skirmish training and Siege of Gondamon instead. It was quite easy picking enemies off as they approached, but when I was casting Focus before the next wave of mobs arrived, the channelling would get interrupted if my skirmish soldier started combat.

I returned to the Training Hall and tested each spec's unbuffed DPS over 3 minutes (or until power runs out), and took a screenshot at the end to eliminate the effects of DoTs that kept going after I stopped attacking. For virtues, I had one tier of Compassion and three tiers of Charity active. With my 7 trait points, I focused on damage-boosting traits where possible.

Here are my DPS results (collected with CombatAnalysis plugin):

StatisticsHuntsman
(Blue)
Bowmaster
(Red)
Trapper of Foes
(Yellow)
Damage364663856532179
Time3 m 0.3 s3 m 0.8 s3 m 0.4 s
Average DPS202.2213.4178.3
Minimum Hit353334
Average Hit219206191
Maximum Hit206113171317
Attacks166187168
Critical Strikes (%)41 (24.7%)40 (21.4%)27 (16.1%)
Skill Priorities
  1. Focus
  2. Barrage
  3. Quick Shot
  1. Focus
  2. Penetrating Shot
  3. Quick Shot
  1. Focus
  2. Penetrating Shot
  3. Quick Shot

For the test, I started in Strength Stance, filled the Focus bar, cast 3 Penetrating Shots and then went into building up focus with 3 Quick Shots then spending it on Penetrating Shot (or Barrage). A very simple rotation, but in normal combat you should consider all your skills and which is most useful for the situation.

I was surprised that I was able to keep fighting for the full 3 minutes without power issues (10-30% power remaining at the end), as many of the other classes run out sooner.

I also tried using Barbed Arrow every 10 seconds in the rotation to keep up the damage over time debuff, but DPS ended up being about 17% lower in Red spec, possibly because it has a longer cast time and deals less damage up front. Even in Yellow spec which has bonuses to damage over time early in the trait tree, it was still a DPS loss to use Barbed Arrow or Lingering Wound. This may change at higher levels (for example, with full traits and legendary item legacies, Barbed Arrow may do more damage than Quick Shot or Swift Bow).

For the Blue spec, I tried both Penetrating Shot and Barrage as the focus spender skill and the average DPS was very close (199.1 for Penetrating Shot, 202.2 for Barrage). Average hit damage were similar, but Barrage had much higher maximum hit damage. Barrage used slightly more power than Penetrating Shot but after 3 minutes, with Penetrating Shot there was still 29.9% power left and with Barrage there was still 24.9% power left.

General Observations


Hunters have a lot of utility from early in the game - speed buffs, slows, purges, defensive bubbles, crowd control, mob tracking. Plus, the simple rotation but lots of options and having both ranged and melee abilities - hunters can deal with almost anything. They are very easy to level.

Strength stance seems to be the best in general, but learn when to use Precision or Endurance (becomes available later) stances.

Be careful not to break crowd control by using AOE abilities like Rain of Thorns (becomes available later). Also be careful not to pull threat off the tank when in a group situation, although it may be helpful to pull threat off the healer.

Specialisations


Blue - Huntsman: With good mobility and good damage, this spec is popular in instances and groups, but also very suitable for soloing - for tough mobs, you can kite them if necessary. Overall, I think this is the best general-purpose spec for hunters and if you're not sure which spec to use, try Blue.

Red - Bowmaster: I see this spec as a marksman - carefully positioned, they are deadly at picking off targets from afar suddenly. For soloing or PvMP, they don't have as many escape options as Blue or Yellow, so positioning and assessing the situation ("Can I deal with this quickly?" Yes - give it everything, No - flee and fight them later under more favourable circumstances) are important. Overall, I think this spec may be situational or suit a specific play style.

Yellow - Trapper of Foes: This reminds me of the engineer class in Guild Wars 2 or the engineering profession in World of Warcraft - they've got a gadget for everything. It's a fun change in play style and still very effective as you use traps, tripwires, explosions, decoys and more to destroy your enemies. With some planning, you can create quite a minefield that will lock down a number of mobs so you can pick them off, but if something goes wrong, you get some defensive bonuses to help you survive their fury. Overall, I think this spec is better for solo play, PvMP or maybe group questing in landscape areas than instances.

Stats

  • Agility - your main stat that increases damage
  • Critical Strike - increases damage
  • Mitigations and Resistances - reduces damage taken
  • Morale and Vitality - bigger health pool increases survival

These stats should help make the levelling process a bit easier in the beginning. Look for medium armour or jewellery with agility and critical rating, morale or vitality. If a piece of gear has Fate on it, it will also increase your critical strike chance. The best place to get Mitigations and Resistances at low levels is probably from virtues.

For ranged weapons, you can use bows or crossbows, but bows tend to have more offensive stats and crossbows tend to be more defensive (better for tanking classes like guardians). For melee weapons, consider the stats and DPS, then what racial bonuses you get from using a specific weapon type (e.g. Men and Elves get a bonus with swords, while Dwarves get a bonus with axes).

Here are some virtues that may be helpful for hunters and how to get them by level 20:

VirtueActivityDeed
INNOCENCE
(physical mitigation, tactical mitigation, resistance)
Complete 75 quests in The ShireLife of a Bounder (Final)(The Shire)
TOLERANCE
(agility, tactical mitigation, in-combat morale regeneration)
Explore all the farms in The ShireFarms of the Shire
(The Shire)
COMPASSION
(physical mitigation, tactical mitigation, non-combat power regeneration)
Complete 15 quests in The Shire

Complete 20 quests in Ered Luin
Life of a Bounder
(The Shire)

Defender of Ered Luin (Ered Luin)
CHARITY
(physical mitigation, resistance, non-combat power regeneration)
Complete 10 quests in Ered Luin

Complete 30 quests in Ered Luin

Complete 30 quests in Bree-land
Ally of Ered Luin
(Ered Luin)

Hero of Ered Luin
(Ered Luin)

Bree-land Adventurer (Advanced)(Bree-land)
DETERMINATION
(agility, morale, in-combat morale regeneration)
Defeat 60 slugs in The Shire

Defeat 90 wolves in Ered Luin

Defeat 90 barghests in Bree-land
Slug Slayer (Advanced)
(The Shire)

Spider-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Barghest-slayer (Advanced)(Bree-land)
ZEAL
(physical mitigation, morale, armour)
Defeat 90 goblins in Ered Luin

Defeat 90 spiders in Ered Luin

Defeat 90 Barrow-spiders in Bree-land
Goblin-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Spider-slayer (Advanced)(Ered Luin)

Brood-hunter (Advanced)(Bree-land)
HONOUR
(tactical mitigation, resistance, vitality)
Defeat 60 spiders in The Shire

Defeat 90 spiders in Bree-land
Spider-slayer (Advanced)(The Shire)

Spider-slayer (Advanced)(Bree-land)

Pros of the Hunter Class

  • Good single-target damage
  • Utility includes tracking mobs, speed buffs, fast travel
  • Variety of playstyles
  • Good survivability (mobility, crowd control, self-healing, stealth, threat-dumps)

Cons of the Hunter Class

  • Limited defensive abilities

I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to leave any questions or advice for new hunters in the comments below.

Coming soon in the Introducing X Class series: the Lore-master.

    Saturday, 5 August 2017

    Walked into Mordor

    The Black Gate is open!

    Hooray! The Mordor expansion is here!

    I bought the Collector's Edition - I wanted a special mount and the high elf, and the extras in the Ultimate Fan Bundle would be nice, but too expensive.

    Steed of the Alliance of the Third Age
    Alliance of the Third Age cosmetic armour

    So far, Myndariel my Lore-master, Tyravorth my Beorning and Letycia my Captain (who used the Aria of the Valar to get boosted to 105) have entered Gorgoroth and are questing in Udûn. I've also created a new High Elf champion.

    Mordor First Impressions


    Session play was used quite well to show us key moments in the final stage of Frodo's journey, especially Gollum with Shelob and the battle between Gollum and Frodo for the ring. The Field of Cormallen looked stunning in glorious colours. Radanir was funny with his speech about an important to decision to make (which inn will the Rangers meet at for drinks?).

    Gollum and the Ring
    Field of Cormallen

    Walking into Mordor (yes I did originally try walking into Mordor from The Wastes - not recommended - you'll die!) by taking the horse from the Field of Cormallen to the Black Gate, it's dark, but not as bad as I expected. I like the purple shadows around the player when they leave the beaten track; they emphasise the sense of potential danger. The soot-smudged pages to find and audio lore excerpts are nice - if I could be patient enough to stand still and listen to them fully. I read them though. Briefly. Then rush off to explore some more. So much to see and do.

    The introduction of new NPCs with their own goals in Mordor is interesting and I look forward to journeying alongside them and seeing what mischief they get up to. I love crafting so I'm happy to see new resources and recipes and less reliance on essences. I'll have to wait and see whether the disenchantment system (breaking down unwanted gear into Ash of Gorgoroth) is good - will we get enough excess gear drops? Other than quest rewards, I've only had one piece of gear drop in the wild and I can't wait to use it (it's for level 107). I've found lots of chests that apparently contain Gorgoroth Crafting Bundles - but you need level 106 to open them. I hope they will be worthwhile.

    Udûn

    The mobs have been difficult because my characters aren't that well geared. Myndariel has had the easiest time so far, but the mobs still take a while to defeat. I feel like I'm hitting them with wet noodles and they avoid so many of my attacks. Once I get new gear with the stats balanced appropriate for the zone I'm sure it will get better.

    So far I'm enjoying it. It's tough but it should be. I'm looking forward to new gear and exploring new regions and learning more about the allegiance system and the Black Book of Mordor.

    High Elf


    Taurileth in the Second Age

    I created a High Elf champion and played through the starting area. After having just been through the finale of the War of the Ring on Myndariel and Tyravorth, it gave me goosebumps and that déjà-vu feeling playing through the High Elf intro set in the Second Age during the last battle against Sauron. It was awesome!

    High Elf Intro - Second Age

    And Elrond's house! Oh my! It looked amazing compared to the version we are familiar with, and that was pretty good to start with.

    Tham Send in Elrond's Last Homely House
    Taurileth in Tham Send

    I'm so glad we get the beautiful armour to keep. I love how you get sent to Celondim in Ered Luin with Elrond's sons - and a pile of books to catch up on a couple thousand years of history that occurred while you were sleeping! It's hard to imagine what that would be like. I've decided to make her a scholar as a result. Imagine poking around ruins and remembering them as beautiful buildings like it was yesterday - maybe she'll find "ancient" artifacts that were created by her friends or family, or even by her!

    I almost wish I had used the character boost on her, but from reading the Patch Notes, it looks like there are quite a few quests that have minor variations for High Elves, and it might be fun to experience those.

    Aria of the Valar


    When I logged in after the expansion launched, I was missing my Aria of the Valar package. There was an announcement that it was a known issue, and would be fixed soon. I transferred crafting materials to my bank to make room in my bags for Mordor stuff, and my bank was nearly full, so I bought some more shared storage, and then my Aria of the Valar Package arrived. So I used the Aria of the Valar character boost to take my level 18 Captain to level 105 so she could head into Mordor. I'll have to level her crafting skills later.


    It included (all character-bound):
    • Aria of the Valar (instantly boosts character to level 105 and transports you to Camp of the Host in The Wastes so you can pick up the Epic Quest Volume IV, Book 8 from Aragorn that leads you into Mordor; you also get 12 tiers of each virtue, trait points, promotion points, over 300 marks, a Westemnet Iron Coin, at least 10 LOTRO points from auto-completed deeds, an Anórien lootbox and a sturdy key).
    • Aria of the Valar Armour Pack (contains a full set of item level 294 armour and jewellery appropriate for your class, but no pocket item).
    • Aria of the Valar Weapon Pack (contains a item level 294 weapon set appropriate for your class (e.g. a sword and shield), plus 3 Unidentified Third Age Legendary Item Boxes so you can choose a weapon, a class item and a war-steed bridle).
    • Aria of the Valar Item Pack (contains 25 Dale-men's Crams, 25 Rejuvenation Potions, 25 Mithril Coins, Map to Eastfold - Aldburg, Map to the Sutcrofts - Snowbourne, an Anfalas Star-lit Crystal, Trait: Riding Characteristic (gain riding skill), Steed of the Citadel and war-steed appearances). 
    • 3 Giant Piles of Silver Scraps (worth 5 gold 400 silver).
    • 5 Tomes of Extraordinary Experience (XP boosters).
    • Map to Rivendell.
    • War-steed.
    • Trait: Mounted Combat (can use war-steeds).
    • Trait: Legendary items (can use legendary items).

    Camp of the Host, The Wastes
    Steed of the Citadel
    Captain boosted to level 105 wearing equipment from Aria of the Valar Package

    Saturday, 15 July 2017

    July: Month of the Hunter

    This month is all about hunters in Middle Earth for me: I'm currently levelling three hunters through various parts of the game and really enjoying the class. I usually play blue spec because I like the mobility, but I've been having fun trying out the yellow spec traps and decoy lately too.

    Level 100 Robinya (VIP) - West/Central Gondor


    Robinya doesn't really like fighting, she likes collecting artifacts. Fortunately, her quests in West Gondor recently took her to Edhellond where there were corsairs running around and nearly trampling priceless old elven artifacts amongst the ruins, so she had no compunction about putting an end to them when necessary.

    Edhellond

    Then she went to Dol Amroth and met up with Jajax again, who told her about the corsairs down on the coast at Hashadîr, so she went to their camp and found some crates of artifacts and she wasn't going to let any corsair slavers or pillagers stand in her way of returning them to the library in Dol Amroth for further study. Then Jajax got kidnapped so she had to go rescue him from Abedec's Watch, and they had been stealing artifacts too, so she reclaimed them as well.

    Robinya reached level 100 in Ethring, Ringló Vale in Central Gondor. It would be nice to get her to level 105 before the Mordor expansion launches, but I don't think I have enough time.

    Mordor Expansion

    I watched some streams of people playing the Mordor beta and saw that there is still a lot missing, placeholder text for quests, character appearances looking worse than before (fat faces with less expression, flat chests and big bellies), class skills needing balancing or fixing etc. so I figured the expansion was a still a little ways off - this is Mordor: I hope it will be really polished. Then we see the announcement for preorders and in the fine print it mentions the release date at the end of this month - July 31st. The fine print! <shakes head in disbelief> I love LOTRO but sometimes I despair over how the game is run.

    For most MMOs, expansion release dates is a big deal and they usually give you a fair bit of notice to build hype and let people prepare for it. When I used to play WoW, I would arrange to take my holidays during the first week of a new expansion so I could play it non-stop and enjoy all the new content without interruptions (oh server crashes or major bugs were inconvenient but also bonds players who were there together as they commiserate and help each other on voice chat, in-game chat or forums).

    This will be the first expansion in LOTRO since I joined, and I'd love to dedicate several days to it, but I won't even be there when the gates of Mordor open because I've already made other plans - visiting my family in New Zealand. Normally I would hope expansions launch on time and be complete (unlike Rift's latest expansion which was missing most of the advertised expansion content), but this time I hope the Mordor launch is delayed, for both selfish reasons and so they can make it the best it can be.

    Level 35 Mystrandos (F2P) - Evendim


    Evendim

    My free-to-play hunter Mystrandos is questing through Evendim, working on the Epic questline and saving up LOTRO points to unlock Angmar next.

    I don't really enjoy the quests in Northcotton Farm - so much traipsing back and forth - but at least she got quite a bit of XP from it. She completed some Shire deeds by questing around Oatbarton and the Glassblower's Camp near Dwaling, so those LOTRO points will help. Now she's based at Tinnudir and I'm looking forward to visiting the ruins throughout Parth Aduial.

    Level 1-20 Hunter


    I actually levelled a hunter from 1-20 at the start of the month so that I could create a little kin for crafting alts and invite myself into it with two accounts and two instances of the game open at the same time. However, I was already level 10 before it hit me that I should have screen-shotted and documented her levelling for the Introducing X Class guides. Oops. Opportunity missed. Ah well, I'll just make another hunter and take notes this time. Never can have too many hunters right?