Category: General


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?

Cosmetic Ideas

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”

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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!

Andared took second place in the RoI guest writer competition with this letter to Elrond. Enjoy!

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Just as Elrond stooped to pick up a book which had fallen off one of the shelves in his library, the doors swung open and an Elf messenger hurried down the steps, and after a quick bow, the Elf revealed a scroll with an elaborate wax seal and held it out to Elrond.

“News from General Lainedhel, in the Ettenmoors, my lord.”

“Thank you,” Elrond said, with a dismissive wave of the hand.

After the messenger left, Elrond broke the seal and unraveled the scroll to divulge its contents.

Greetings, Lord Elrond,

I write to you concerning matters which have recently unfolded in the Ettenmoors.  Four nights ago, an Orc stumbled upon one of our scouting parties as he sought to make his way over the pass in the mountains, heading south towards the Trollshaws. This was nothing out of the ordinary, as our scouts have encountered many Orcs in previous situations similar to this one.  However, this Orc bore with him a strange message in black speech, which I have thus translated, and reads as follows:

“Greetings, man of many colors. This is Tyrant Akulhun, leader of the forces of Angmar. Over the past weeks the Elf dogs combined with help from the Longbeards, little folk, and Man-flesh have gained considerable victories over my forces.  These maggots tend to be more useful for making walls than fighting, but we won’t be able to assault Rivendell if we don’t have any Orcs surviving their first fight.  After inspecting a few of my soldiers, and watching them train, I notice several defective spots in their armor. These maggots seem to be weaker and less able to mitigate attacks than they were before.  I need new armor for these scum before the Elf dogs assault Gramsfoot itself, and quickly! With the new furnaces you’ve…acquired, you should be able to craft us better armor than what we make do with here.  Get those maggots to work, and quickly!

Angmar-Ur!”

It seems that the “Man of many colors” that the Uruk mentions in this letter is Saruman, our newfound enemy in the South.  I also regret to inform you that while we did manage to stop this messenger, it appears another one somehow managed to slip through our watch, because two days later, we received word from the Rangers that the forges of Isengard blazed anew and the shouts of Orcs felling trees could be heard from their furthest camps.  How they plan on shipping the armor to the forces of Angmar at Gramsfoot is a mystery to me.  But for such a large army, it will take many days, regardless of what route of delivery they should choose.  In the meantime, I seek your council on what I should have my armies do in light of these words.  Would you have me attack, and storm Gramsfoot in an effort to eradicate the forces of Angmar before help can be received, or would you have me hold back my forces, and keep an eye on the borders, to stop the shipments from ever arriving?

My own inclinations tell me to attack and wipe out the threat to Rivendell once and for all.  But, if such an attack were to fail, the route to Imladris would be left dangerously unguarded.  Open to a counter-assault from the forces of Angmar.  Because such a decision could determine the fate not only of my own fighting force, but that of Rivendell itself, I feel it is my duty to allow you to make the judgment on what must be done.

Please respond as quickly as possible so I may arrange my forces accordingly. And may the grace of the Valar be upon you, and us all.

 

~General Lainedhel

Alrighty, submission deadline for the RoI giveaway has ended, and I have picked the winners!

The winners are as follows:

  • First Place: David, with the poem “Lalia, That Girl In Red”
  • Second Place: Andared, with a letter to Elrond
  • Third Place: Pounceclaw of Landroval, with a guide to Warg Packs

I will post all three, spread out throughout this week. David and Andared, check your emails and you should see the code for your bright and shiny new RoI expansion!

First off, we will post the runner-up, third place submission from Pounceclaw of Landroval.

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The main advantage of the warg pack is the stealth and tracks. Most warg packs avoid the main figh and kill small groups and stragglers. The best is to allow the leader or alloted warg to pounce (5 sec stun/knockout) while the rest of the group uses bloody maul (DoT from stealth). Most groups then split before any more freeps show up, if caught they mainly use Disappear and Flee. The main goal is to stay alive and get quick kills.

Many groups require the members to have improved stealth equipped, it gives you better stealth and +55% run speed while stealthed. A huge point is no matter who is attacking you, stay on the leader’s target. When you pick your own targets you should try to pick healers and hunters (other squishies are okay, too) but if you hit a burg never stun them because it will give them a huge evade buff.

If a freep attempts to flee use sprint then tendon shred (skill given at rank 3) and let other creeps catch up. Warg packs are in my opinion highly fun, depending on your leader, voice chat is highly reccomended so you can hear orders and give advice. Oh, you’ll hear a lot about “nomming hobbits.”

Good luck to you and see you in the Moors!

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I will post the other two winners’ submissions later this week.

I figured it was time to introduce you to another one of my characters! This time, we will meet Aerfin, my minstrel and go-to role-playing character.

  • Name: Aerfin
  • Race: Man
  • Class: Minstrel
  • Level: 32

Aerfin, Singer of Songs, Teller of Tales, Weaver of Words… He is a man of many titles. A minstrel, hailing from the distant lands of Rohan, he has travelled the world in search of inspiration. Although he possesses some musical talent, he is far more renowned for his storytelling, and for his clever style of writing. He toys with words, and weaves them, as a potter may mold clay.

He is highly intelligent, and his command of language is quite good. He is known to have moments of unparalleled genius.

Although he is a gifted writer and thinker, it is perhaps because he is ever-so-slightly touched in the head. Insane. Batty. In a different realm of thinking… take your pick.

He considers himself a “half-pacifist”, that is to say, he spends at least half of his time doing something other than fighting (usually having a drink in the local tavern, where he may provide some entertainment).

He is known to randomly break into song, or rhyme, or verse, whenever inspiration strikes him. When asked what he is doing, he will often state that he is doing something entirely different from what he is actually doing, and that if you think otherwise, it is because your perception is skewed, and you should perhaps direct your skewed perception elsewhere, and perhaps see a local doctor to get that checked out.

Aerfin often speaks before thinking, except for when he thinks before speaking (he has been known, on rare occasion, to ponder his words for days at a time).

He is fascinated by things that to most people seem inconsequential: a flower picked from the south Bree-fields, a trinket retrieved from the Barrow-downs, an empty mug at the tavern. When Aerfin looks at objects such as these, he imagines an entire story; where they’ve been, and what they’ve witnessed.

He believes in neither strength, nor flaws, but rather, does whatever seems like the best option at the time.

Aerfin stands at approximately 5’10”, and weighs about 150 pounds. He has blonde hair, and blue eyes. He often says his song level is 70 birds (whatever that means).

He has an older brother named Diende, who is altogether much more gruff in demeanor than Aerfin is. Perhaps it is because Aerfin calls him “Old-timer”, or perhaps it is because Diende has a slightly more realistic view on life, whereas Aerfin is content to simply sing and write as the world around him crumbles (at least supposedly, that stuff is all personal perception anyway).

He met Tom Bombadil once, in the darkest part of the Old Forest. Tom told Aerfin,

“Slightly strange are you, 
and not as old as I, 
but you remind me of me, 
in a younger time.” 

Aerfin raised an eyebrow and replied,

“Old man, I fear you are mistaken, 
for time passage is but a dream, 
now go, and find what I have taken, 
to pass your wisdom onto me.” 

Tom was altogether impressed by Aerfin’s quick thinking, and decided to let him keep the old boot, about which Aerfin crafted the famous “Tale of Tom’s Boot”, which was widely and highly critically acclaimed (I think).

Aerfin is an altogether uninteresting person, once you move past his relatively low level of insanity. In fact, sometimes it is difficult to determine whether he is insane, or rather just flippant, quick-witted, and difficult to interpret.

He also has a tendency to make up words, when he is unable to find one that suits his purpose.

An obvious example may be found in the following anecdote:

He was in a tavern, enjoying a wonderfully flavorful and crisp pint of ale, when he was approached by the proprietor of the establishment, and asked to perform.

He smiled half-heartedly, and said, “I would be overjoyed to do so, however, I would not wish to mosh it with my jabberdowitty.”

Taken aback, the owner hesitated, and asked, “What, exactly, is a jabberdowitty?”

“Well, my good man, it is simply a term, which captivates my non-willingness to perform. I am completely and totally performed out for the evening. Even sousadewhatsits such as myself need breaks!”

The proprietor, at this point, understandably gave up.

He spends his spare time writing, and pouring over the texts of the ancients, looking for subject material for his many short stories and scripts.

For some reason or another (probably another, as “some reason” is simply not a very good answer), he has a tendency to start a story, or song, and only complete half of it. When questioned about this, he has been known to say, “That is intentional. I leave the rest open to interpretation!”

Concerning his personality, he is easygoing, although he does have a small twinge of arrogancy. He rarely overthinks things, in fact, the only time he thinks is when is thinking, and by thinking you could be far more descriptive by saying meditating.

He has a rather devilish sense of humour, and often causes laughs at the expense of others. A faint smirkish smile dances across his lips, and he enjoys a good prank more than most.

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I don’t worry about Aerfin’s level or gear very much. Mostly I play him when I want to RP, although eventually I would like him to be high enough level to be a main healer. Because I don’t focus on leveling, I use whatever traits are available to me. I do have to admit, I’m definitely happy with the changes made to the minstrel class with RoI. I am not yet high enough level to use any legendary traits, although Rally!, Cry of the Wizards, and Call of the North will probably be the traits I will usually keep equipped.

Thoughts on the Instance Finder

Now that I’ve had a chance to play around with the Instance Finder a little bit, I figured it was time to give my opinions on it. So far, it seems to be something that works on paper, but not yet in practice. There are still some kinks that need to be worked out.

First of all, the wait time is lengthy. On Crickhollow, the night that Update 5 was released, it took Carolin about 2 hours to get into a group with the instance finder, even though all Isengard 3 and 6 mans were selected, and on both tiers. Even on Landroval, which has a much higher server population, the wait times were long. I think there should be more of an incentive to use the instance finder, which should help with the queue time.

Next, I think it should be possible to select your own level range which you want to play in, as well as specific instances that you don’t want to do. I don’t want to waste my time on my level 30 warden running a level 26 skirmish with a level 22 player, and I don’t want to run Siege of Gondamon for the ninety-billionth time. I understand why they don’t let you only pick certain instances, but I think you should be able to eliminate some instances. Perhaps they could do this by letting you eliminate a set number of instances, so you could at least eliminate your least desirables.

Lastly, the instance finder does not seem to match you into your role which you sign up for! I used in on Carolin,  and I signed up for every role except for tanking (defense) because personally I am just a lousy tank. I got matched up for an Isengard 3-man with a Rune-keeper and a Lore-master. Sooooo… I guess that means the Lore-master’s bear was going to be the assigned tank?

Regardless of the kinks, I am glad that they brought out an instance finder. I just wish that it worked a little bit better, and I hope that in the future they streamline it and work out the bugs.