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Trait Trees – Basics

One of the new features of Helm’s Deep is trait trees. Instead of the old trait system, in which you would earn and equip traits, which would then provide you benefits, all characters are now given access to 3 trait trees starting at level 7. By spending points in a trait tree, you upgrade abilities, learn new skills, and gain other bonuses, such as a larger morale pool, or a higher critical hit chance. This post will be a basic guide concerning these new trait trees.

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When you first reach level 7, or open up your trait window for the first time (default hotkey is “J”), you will be prompted to choose a specialization. Make sure you take a moment to look over the various benefits and skills each specialization will offer you. By default, at least as a VIP, you have access to 2 trait tree builds at a time. Additional builds may be purchased for 100 Mithril Coins. Each upgrade in your specialization (blue, yellow, or red line) will cost 1 trait point. You can still spend points on upgrades and skills outside of your specialization, but they will cost 2 trait points instead of 1.

As you spend trait points, you will open up abilities farther down the trait tree. By spending points in a specific line, you will open up more upgrades within that line. By spending points in any line, you will open up upgrades found on the leftmost side of the trait window.

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Upgrades found within your trait trees include new skills, upgrades to existing skills (+2 Split Shot Max Targets), and general upgrades (+5% Morale). Also, many skills that were previously earned simply by leveling up are now found as trait tree unlocks. Although it varies by class, blue line is generally a healing/mobility build, red line is for DPS, and yellow line is for tanking or utility.

There are a total of 65 trait points that can currently be earned:

  • 45 from leveling up. You get 1 trait point at every odd level beginning at level 7.
  • 8 from class deeds. Class deeds (such as use [skill] 100 times) have now turned into meta-deeds. Complete 3 specific meta-deeds to earn 1 trait point.
  • 3 from class books (formerly legendary deeds).
  • 3 from Moria: 1 for class quest, 1 for complete Vol. II Book 6, and 1 from the book you can get once you have reached maximum reputation with the Iron Garrison Guards.
  • 1 from doing both level 45 class quests.
  • 5 from Helm’s Deep quests: 1 each for completing All Roads Lead to Aldburg, The Road to Dunharrow, The Broadacres Betrayed, Woodhurst Has Fallen, and To Helm’s Deep.
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Ssili 1Well, here I am. I grew weary of LOTRO after the Riders of Rohan expansion, and stopped playing for a long time. Recently I decided to purchase Helm’s Deep and give LOTRO another go. Carolinn is now at level cap, which took me maybe a week or so. She has decent gear, although it still needs work. My girlfriend has started playing recently again too, so I’ve been leveling my newest alt, Ssili (a Dwarf Champion), along with her. You can see Ssili in the picture here.

Now, when I logged in on Carolinn for the first time in months, I was definitely shocked. Half of my skills were missing! I started playing around with Trait Trees, and I think (for the most part), I’ve gotten the hang of the new Captain. I don’t really like the new system for my Captain, however, at least not overall. The reason that Captain has been my favorite class for as long as I can remember is that in the midst of a battle, I could jump between different roles. I could focus on DPS, and then suddenly if the healer went down I could switch on the fly to healing mode. Or if I was power-healing, and the tank went down, I could switch roles and jump in as a temporary tank until the healer got our group’s tank back up. That versatility is now lost. With that said, the Captain is now much improved in each individual role. Yellow-line Captains can now actually function as a primary tank for group content. Blue-line Captains are very good healers. Red-line Captains can do very good damage and substantially boost the DPS of the entire party.

I’ve been running Carolinn as a Blue-line Captain for almost everything. Solo? Blue-line, I can out-last anything. Group? Blue-line, my fellowship will never run out of power or morale. For Helm’s Deep Epic Battles, I run Yellow-line; the force-taunt dynamic is extremely useful for keeping mobs away from objectives until your NPC soldiers can kill them.

That brings me to my next topic: Epic Battles. I love them. I love the idea of having a whole new set of skills with the Promotions system. I have 2 Promotion trees, both ranked up to Rank 3. One is a pure Engineer, and the other is a pure Officer. Engineer is extremely fun to play; the equipment, hazards, and traps add an excellent new dynamic for my Captain to take advantage of. I really hope there will be a lot more Epic Battles coming. On my side, you will soon see an Epic Battle Basics post from me.

Overall, I enjoyed the new Helm’s Deep content, although I thought it was a bit short considering the large price tag. I wouldn’t recommend buying it unless it was on sale.

Level Up… With Festival Quests!

I was playing with my girlfriend tonight. We started off by playing the through day 1 of the Yule Festival, her on her level 45 Hunter, me on my level 85 Captain. Afterwards, she we joined up on our dynamic duo, her Hunter and my Burglar, both level 45. We’ve been playing with these two together (and almost exclusively together), so I was rather surprised when her Hunter had gained over a quarter of a level on me!

Later on I took my Burglar through Winter-home, and I was quite surprised to find that all Yule Festival quests are on-level quests (for level 45 characters, they will be level  45, for level 20 characters, they will be 20, etc.)! Previously, all festival quests were level 10, period. If you were well over that level, you did not get experience. The full Dev Diary for this year’s Yule Festival can be found here.

I think this is an excellent change, especially considering the number of Yule Festival quests that have to be done to get the best rewards. I don’t feel as guilty now playing through the Yule Festival dailies knowing that in the process, I’m actually helping them level up as well. What are your thoughts?

fest quest lvl

ScreenShot00314I started playing LOTRO again in early November. Last night (well, technically at about 3:00 AM this morning), my captain Carolinn hit level 85. Most of the time I’ve spent playing LOTRO, however, I’ve spent on my burglar, Daag, and a few other characters, leveling and playing with my girlfriend (who I introduced to LOTRO). In other words, if I had devoted more time to my captain, I could easily have hit level cap much sooner.

One thing I’m glad about is that I did not hit a wall and run out of quests in this expansion. I didn’t feel as though I had to go out of my way and make an extra effort to do tasks, repeatable quests, and skirmishes to get there, either. That’s definitely an improvement, because I ran into that with Rise of Isengard.

However, one thing I heard before purchasing this expansion was that Rohan was going to be much bigger than Moria. In sheer landscape, it probably is, however since you have a super-speedy War-Steed which you can ride in a straight line without have to worry about falling into chasms of the abyss, Rohan did not seem as large as Moria to me. I probably could have completed finished the ten levels within about 2 weeks. The first time I played through Moria, it took me much, much longer than that (probably about a month).

As far as content goes, I was somewhat disappointed about the lack of new raids and instances, although I know they are coming soon and will be free for anyone who already purchased Rohan. I spent a lot of time at level 75 getting Carolinn the best gear I could get, and the only equipment I’ve found so far that’s actually better than my level 75 gear is the Hytbold set.

To get the Hytbold set, you have to restore the city of Hytbold to its former glory, all by doing repeatable daily quests which grant you tokens. Unfortunately, those quests pay out 5 tokens each, and it takes at least 300 or so tokens to repair the necessary buildings and barter for a full set of armour (and that’s if you build ONLY what you have to build to get a specific set of armour). You can only do 5 quests a day, meaning you are basically given a stipend of 25 tokens per day to restore the city. That’s going to take a pretty long time.

However, one thing I like about this idea (besides the technological side of it) is that once your five daily quests are done, which takes maybe 20-30 minutes, you have the rest of the day to go back and work on deeds, reputation, crafting, or alts (whereas with Isengard, as soon as a raid or instance finished, I’d be already looking for another one).

I greatly enjoyed mounted combat. However, I’ve already devoted an entire blog post to it, so I’m not really going to talk about it a whole lot more in this one.

I also liked some of the mechanics of this expansion. Open tapping is fantastic, and remote looting is super awesome as well. I do wish they’d make some modifications to captains’ buff skills for open tapping though (allowing me to heal players I’m not grouped with and buff them as well). I can see where that would get unnecessarily complicated, though, so I’m just going to leave it be.

Overall, I think Rohan was an excellent expansion, and probably their second best to date (although I’ll have to reevaluate that when the instances get released). I still think Moria was Turbine’s best. If you are getting close to level 75 and you haven’t purchased Rohan yet, I would definitely recommend doing so.

Mounted Combat

With the release of the Riders of Rohan expansion, we were given mounted combat. The expansion focuses heavily on it, so whether you like it or not, you will be doing a great deal of it. I didn’t think I would like it, and it definitely took some getting used to, but now I find I fight on my War-steed whenever possible.

On a cosmetic note, I love the fact that you can customize how your War-steed looks, but I wish you could steal pieces from ALL your standard mounts, not just your store-bought ones. I also wish Turbine gave us just a few more color options for free.

Getting used to the War-steed controls after playing for years with standard mount controls was probably the biggest hardship with mounted combat. Unlike a standard mount, which is controlled just like your character on foot, the War-steed speeds up, slows down, and turns based on momentum. I’ve found that while that isn’t really a problem on the open fields of Rohan, I still prefer to use a standard mount within towns.

As your War-steed levels up, you are able to increase its speed, agility, and turn speed, which makes it a lot easier to control. Due to these upgrades, your War-steed will almost definitely end up being faster than your standard mount, and therefore is much more useful for hauling long distances from town to town.

As for combat, I’ve played on both a captain and a hunter so far. My mounted combat tactics usually involve running around in a circle and firing back at enemies (arrows with a hunter and shouts with the captain). The damage I can do on a War-steed is well above what I can do on foot, and you also take less damage because as long as you keep moving, the foes usually can’t catch you to deliver more than a single blow here and there.

When I first started playing around with mounted combat, I would simply run up to an enemy, stand in place, and hack at it. I would strongly recommend against this. The biggest strength of your War-steed is its ability to stay on the move constantly; it turns you into the ultimate kiting machine. Staying on the move will allow you to bring down enemies you couldn’t possibly bring down on foot.

Mounted combat isn’t perfect, however. I wish that some of my buffs on toggle skills (such as IDOME on my captain) would carry over, as long as I had it activated before mounting up. Also, unless you zoom the camera way out, it becomes very difficult to see what you’re doing, and I’ve found that while running around I tend to accidentally pull other enemies on a regular basis (maybe I just suck, though).

What are your thoughts on mounted combat and War-steeds? Good or bad?

Power Leveling Guide (1-20)

Power level refers to leveling as quickly as possible. Although I don’t recommend it for new players (do yourself a favor and take the time to stop and smell the virtual roses), I do it regularly. I am, and always will be an altoholic., therefore I have played though the first 20 levels or so of LOTRO many, many times. I don’t feel the need to stop and smell the roses in the early levels anymore, because quite frankly, I’m pretty sure they still smell the same as the last fifty times.

Since I recently started playing LOTRO again, I have power leveled 3 characters to level 20 or higher (for various reasons). It generally takes me about six hours of continuous play to get there using this method. It could probably be shortened to five hours if I didn’t take the time to craft or gather any crafting-related resources.

This guide should work for all races and classes, although there may be a little variance in the amount of time it takes based on that factor.

Playing through the intro should get you to level 6 or so. As you’re playing through, don’t take too much time to explore, do deeds, or kill extra enemies other than what’s required by your current quests (quest EXP is where it’s at).

After the intro, start on the Epic Prologue, and do some of the quests around those areas. At level 8, you will unlock the capability to unlock the riding skill (if you want to purchase it from the LOTRO store). At that point, you will have a red gift-box in your inventory (make sure you check your mail) that will turn into a 24-hour horse-whistle. Make sure you use this, it’s much faster than running around everywhere on foot.

Try to avoid working on any less than 2 quests at a time in any given area. Once you hit level 10 or so, speak to a stable-master and fast travel to the West Bree Gate. From Bree, head to Combe and do all the Chetwood quests. That should get you to at least level 12. After Combe, it’s on to Staddle to do the quests there. Make sure you accept the Midgewater Marsh quests and the Widow Foghorn quests. After completing the quests in the Midgewater Marsh, head back to Staddle and turn everything in.

Now, head to the Prancing Pony in Bree, and talk to Strider to get Epic Volume I, Book 1. Do a couple instances in the Epic Quest line, and eventually Strider will give you a quest to go all the way to the western edge of the Bree-Lands and talk to Lenglinn (30.1S, 61.3W). Once you’re over there, head into Buckland and accept the quests from the trio at the north gate and from the group at the entrance to the Old Forest. Once those are completed, you should be around level 16.  After talking with Lenglinn again, he’ll send you back to Strider. Mount up and head back towards Bree, but make sure you make a pit-stop at Adso’s Camp to pick up a few more easy quests. After doing these, continue back to Strider to pick up Epic Volume I, Book 1, Chapter 8, which will send you to Tom Bombadil.

Go west out of Bree and take a left on the road that goes south into the Barrow-Downs. There will be a corpse at the entrance that you can pick up a quest from. Follow the quest to a quest hub in the Northern Barrow-Downs. Before doing any of these quests, head past them and back into the Old Forest to knock out a couple more Epic quests. Once you are on Volume I, Book 1, Chapter 10, head back and start working on all the Barrow-Downs quests. Don’t forget the quest from the Wandering Shade near the Dead Spire (32.1S, 55.1W)!

After doing these, you will be sent into the Southern Barrow-Downs by a group of quests from the guides at Dead Man’s Perch. I always do the bounty quests and the quests from the “Find Malin” questline, but I skip the others because they’re a pain and they take too long. After doing the bounty quests three times, you should be level 20. If not, head back to Adso’s camp and do a couple more miscellaneous quests to finish up the remainder.

If you follow this guide, the whole process should take around 6 hours. Keep in mind that the horse-whistle is only good for 24 hours of real-life time, so if you split this up over multiple days it’s going to take longer unless you spend the TP for the riding skill and get a horse for 500 silver. And then it will still take you longer because you have to detour to Hengstacer Farm. Best of luck always!

Today, I’m going to take a minute to share a couple cosmetic ideas with you. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them (and my thoughts on them). Feel free to use them!

This is Eorrick, one of my Wardens. Given that Wardens use special shields and often carry a spear, I decided to go for a Spartan-esque look with him.

  • Head: Helm of Rohan (Crimson)
  • Shoulders: None
  • Back: Plain Cloak (Crimson)
  • Upper Body: Hauberk of the Mirrormere (Crimson)
  • Lower Body: None
  • Feet: Cutleaf’s Boots

One thing that I think a lot of people don’t realize is that sometimes, less is more. I did nothing with the shoulders here because I couldn’t find anything I liked, and I realized that I like the look without shoulder-armour better anyway. To entirely remove a piece of equipment cosmetically, go into your character window, go to the cosmetic tab, and uncheck the eye next to the piece of equipment you want to remove.

Next is Eloc, my Guardian. Since he is a Guardian, I wanted thick, sturdy armour, and lots of it. I decided to go with a gold theme, because I liked how it matched up with the cloak I used.

  • Head: Copper-Inlaid Helmet
  • Shoulders: Dunlending’s Shoulderpad of Battle
  • Back: Heavy Fur Dunlending Cloak
  • Upper Body: Hall-General’s Breastplate
  • Hands: Gloves of the Impossible Shot
  • Lower Body: Leg-Guards of the Killing Blow (Black)
  • Feet: Boots of the Eorlingas

It’s important to note that I DO have wardrobe space, and as such am able to create this outfit. Some of the equipment in this outfit is class-restricted (Hunter & Captain). However, because I have wardrobe space, I can equip it cosmetically anyway.

Caane is my second (although created first) Captain. I played him as an RP character for a while, but have recently had the chance to shake the dust off of him because my girlfriend’s Hunter is about the same level. I was originally planning on a more armour-clad look, but then I saw the hat sitting in my wardrobe and decided to go for the fourth musketeer.

  • Head: Fancy Plumed Hat (Crimson)
  • Shoulders: Dunlending’s Shoulderpad of Battle
  • Back: Golden Summer Tree Cloak (Crimson)
  • Upper Body: Trapper’s Leather Jacket (Crimson)
  • Hands: Gloves of the Impossible Shot (Crimson)
  • Lower Body: Isbur-Socas (Crimson)
  • Feet: Greaves of the Dragonslayer (Crimson)

I ❤ the blend of gold and crimson on this outfit. I also woud like to point out that some items can be used in multiple ways, especially with a fresh coat of dye (the gloves, for example, were dyed a different color and used on my Guardian above).

The last character I’m going to talk about it Carolinn, my main and my primary Captain. One of her outfits you’ve seen in screenshots before, and the other is new.

  • Head: None
  • Shoulders: Thick Elven Shoulderguards (Black)
  • Back: Torahammas’ Cloak (Black)
  • Upper Body: Thick Elven Soldier’s Armour (Black)
  • Hands: Thick Elven Soldier’s Gloves (Black)
  • Lower Body: Barrow-Warrior’s Leggings (Black)
  • Feet: Barrow-Warrior’s Boots (Black)

A couple things I want to point out here. First of all, I hate the way that the chest-piece looks in it’s default color. However, I like it a great deal after it has been dyed. Don’t write off a piece of equipment without checking how it looks dyed in the cosmetic window (CTRL + Left Click) first. Also, don’t write off a piece of equipment just because it’s a lower-level or uncommon (yellow) item. The Barrow-Warrior’s set is, in my opinion, one of the coolest looking sets of armour around, and the rest of this Elven armour in this outfit is uncommon rarity. Don’t vendor trash or discard equipment without looking at it for cosmetic value first.

Lastly, we’ll look at Carolinn’s other outfit.

  • Head: Hillman’s Cracked Leather Helm
  • Shoulders: Shoulders of the Brazen Call
  • Back: Cloak of the Raven
  • Upper Body: Breastplate of the Brazen Call
  • Hands: Spearman’s Singed Leather Gauntlets
  • Lower Body: Leggings of the Brazen Call
  • Feet: Hillman’s Cracked Leather Boots

What I’d like to mention about this one is that it doesn’t hurt to go for a set to use cosmetically. The “Brazen Call” set actually looks pretty cool. However, it doesn’t hurt to experiment and combine two sets either. The head, hands, and feet from this item are all random drop items from Dunland. When used in combination with “Brazen Call” Captain’s Moria set, I like the result a lot more than using the set alone.

Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed it!

It’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything with this site. I took a fairly long absence from LOTRO due to technical difficulties with my computer, and have only recently started playing again. Since I’ve been gone, many things have happened. Several festivals have come and gone, the Riders of Rohan expansion has been released, and Turbine has put forth a Mac client,  to name but a few.

As for me, I moved into a new house in June, and started dating a wonderful girl. Recently she expressed an interest in video games, and we played through LOTR: War in the North together. We had a blast, by the way. War in the North rekindled my interest in Middle Earth, and since I had not noticed any problems with my computer lately, I tried playing LOTRO again.

Since my girlfriend had suddenly taken a liking to co-op games, I thought LOTRO would be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, she has a 2009 Macbook Pro, and I didn’t want to deal with all the headaches of trying to get it running on her computer. I was reading through Casual Stroll to Mordor, and lo and behold, I saw an article about a Mac client!

I figured it was worth a try. I took a day off of work, and spent the day downloading the almost 20 GB client onto her Macbook. It didn’t work. I did some reading in the Mac client forums, and found that she had a version of Mac OS X that was too old. So I decided to pay fr an upgrade to Mountain Lion for her. After spending the majority of the day patching, downloading, installing, and upgrading, I finally got LOTRO running an hour or two before she got done with work.The Mac client has worked very well, overall, since then.

As for my laptop, it worked for a while until my computer began overheating (which is what caused my absence in the first place). I decided to try a creative solution. Since I play on a laptop, I decided to hook up my laptop to my flat-screen TV with a VGA cable, using the TV as a super-sized monitor. I then put the laptop on a chair, and put a fan next to it blowing directly at it (see picture). I did have to go out an invest in a wireless keyboard and mouse, but I was able to pick one up for pretty cheap.

It worked like a charm. My laptop hasn’t overheated since, and I get to hear the LOTRO soundtrack through decent speakers instead of my wimpy little laptop ones.

So now, we play LOTRO sitting next to each other on my couch, me on the large TV and her on her Mac. She has already fallen in love with Turbine’s take on Tolkien’s world, and after a visit to my family’s house for Thanksgiving, my sister will be playing again too, it seems.

And so, after rediscovering my love of LOTRO, I have once again started blogging about it. Cheers!

After much anticipatory buildup, I figure it is time to reveal the first-place winning entry in our Rise Of Isengard giveaway. Written by David, I hope you enjoy “Lalia, a Girl in Red”

-=-=-=-=-=-
Lalia, that girl in the red
Somehow got it into her head
To journey to the Barrow-Down
That girl, with her pretty red gown
When she arrived she trembled at the sight
For behold!  A great cruel barrow-wight!
She fled and lost her cloak
And she thought twas a cruel joke!
She lost her way in the vast field
And to fear, she did yield
Soon a noble hero did try to save her
He fought the wight, and gained her favour
Then did a great wight arise
And the hero did look at it’s eyes
And with a shout the hero fell
Those eyes, brought him to Hell
Lalia jumped and ran for her life
She escaped, and lives as a serving wife
Now that hero, for pain never sleeps a wink
And in that torturous place, does he often think
“Lalia, Lalia, of the crimson dress!
My feelings for you I wish I could express!
Alas alas!  I cannot!
So hear my final thought!
Damn the chat filter!
Damn the chat filter!