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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!

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!

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.

I was playing around on one of my characters on Landroval today, and decided to run a skirmish to get some quick experience. As most of us know, the daily skirmish bonus alone can be over half a level in the  20-30 level range. I used the instance finder, and eventually I was grouped with another player, and we ran Trouble In Tuckborough. Imagine my suprise when we got to the end, and there was no daily skirmish bonus!

I thought it may be due to the fact that I used the instance finder, but I checked it on a few other characters as well. The ring in the instance join panel used to mark which skirmishes may still be completed for the daily bonus is no longer there. I truly hope that this does not mean that daily skirmishes are gone, that was the only reason I ran them before level cap.

Apparently they slipped this one by us with Update 5, and let me say, this is one change that I am not happy about.

Alrighty, time for installment number two of my Greenie Creep’s guide to the Ettenmoors. This part will cover an overview of the various creep classes, and a basic guide to Creep combat tactics. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

It is important to note that although parallels can be drawn between creep and freep classes, no two classes are the same or equal and opposites. For example, although both a burglar and a stalker can both use stealth, the Warg is capable of things that the burglar is not, and the burglar is capable of things that the Warg is not.

Blackarrow – The Uruk Blackarrow is a ranged DPS class, able to do very good ranged damage and damage over time. It has a few crowd control skills and is one of the stronger classes in the post-RoI creep ranks. The freep class most comparable to it is the Hunter.

Defiler – The Orc Defiler is the primary healing class on the creep side.  It heals primarily through HoTs, so it is important to heal proactively, rather than reactively. In addition to its healing skills, is also has some nice crowd control, debuff, and tactical ranged damage skills.  The freep class most comparable to it is probably the Rune-keeper.

Reaver –  The Orc Reaver is a melee DPS class, able to do very good AoE, bleed, and single-target damage. It also has a couple debuff skills. This is the only free-to-play class, and is one of the easier creep classes to play. The most comparable freep class is the Champion.

Stalker –  The Warg Stalker (more commonly referred to as “Warg”) is my personal favorite class to play. The Stalker is the only creep class able to use stealth, and is therefore the quintessential scout and healer-harassing class. It has several damage-over-time, debuff, stun, and escape abilities. It is also the best creep class for popping Warband Maneuvers (which are basically Fellowship Maneuvers) on NPCs. The most comparable freep class is the burglar.

Weaver – The Spider Weaver is a crowd-control, damage-over-time, and pet-using class. It can be an extremely difficult class to kill at high ranks, and it has the ability to apply several tactical DoTs. The most comparable freep class is the Lore-master.

Warleader – The Uruk Warleader is an extremely versatile class. It can buff, heal, revive, and DPS. Warleaders are tough to kill, and is one of the “tankier” creep classes. The most comparable freep class is the Captain.

Choosing the right class is going to make your Moors experience much more enjoyable. Make sure that you pick one that matches your play style.

Now, let’s move on to combat tactics! I’m not going to turn into Sun Tzu here, but I am going to go over some basic tactics that every creep should know. First and foremost, every creep needs to know how to focus fire, unless you want to be lonely and sad and be a creep all by yourself. It’s very simple and easy to do, to the point where it almost shouldn’t be considered a combat tactic, and yet some people don’t do it. When people don’t focus fire, their entire raid wipes. To focus fire, open up your social window. Go to the raid tab. Near the bottom, there should be a checkbox to enable your target assist window. Once your target assist window is displayed, simply choose the target of whomever the raid leader picks to choose targets, and kill it. Pretty easy, right?

The next combat tactic is the drop pull. This is a very commonly used tactic when trying to flip keeps or outposts. One creep will drop from the raid, run in and grab all of the aggro, and run away, while the rest of the raid runs in and up to the boss without resistance. Once the lone creep has run off the aggro, he is invited back to the group. The best class to do a drop pull with is the Warg Stalker, since they have Disappear (which is basically HIPS) and then they can stealthily sneak back up to the boss and help fight without pulling everything again. When this is done right, the time required to take a keep can be reduced dramatically.

Another common tactic is baiting. All but one or two creeps will bunch up and hide behind a rock, or a tree, or a bush, or a wall, or… well, you get the idea. Then those one or two creeps will run out and try to lure the freeps to a little past where the creeps are hiding to ambush them. The creep raid then charges out and zergs everything, beginning with the healers which are almost always at the back of the freep raid.

There are many, many other tactics that have been used, but these are the main ones. Listen to your raid leader, and you should be just fine. Go out, young creeps, and munch on some freeps!

Alrighty, time for another edition of “Me and My Multiple Personalities”. This time, we’re going to be focusing on Carolin, my favorite of all my characters to play.

  • Name: Carolin
  • Race: Man
  • Class: Captain
  • Level: 75

Carolin is a natural leader, cool under pressure, and brave to the point of idiocy. She leads from the front, not afraid to bark orders or speak her mind. She has a tendency to jump into things without thinking them through thoroughly, but she has an uncanny ability to turn even the nastiest situations around  and salvage something good from them. She has a fairly mellow personality, and is not easily angered. She does not take pleasure in fighting, as some do. However, she does not hesitate to do her duty.

Carolin was born and raised in the Bree-lands. She served for a short while as part of the Bree-town guard, but quickly grew bored of it (very little happens in Bree-town). She left the Bree-town guard and moved on to bigger, better things. After travelling the lands of Middle Earth, she eventually decided to lend her services to a mercenary group, until she could find a place to lay down some more permanent roots. Carolin has yet to find a place where she can picture herself living out the rest of her life, and still therefore lends her services to whoever has need of them.

-=-=-=-=-=-

I love my captain. Hands down, without a doubt, the captain is my favorite class to play. I run pretty much exclusively in Hands of Healing, because I am personally terrible at tanking, and I really don’t see Leader of Men (the “pet” line) as a viable option in end-game group instances.  My favorite role to play the captain in is a general support role. I can off-heal, off-tank, and buff as necessary; I feel like in that role I am most beneficial to my group because the versatility of captains can really shine.

For my legendary traits, I have In Defense of Middle Earth, Fellowship-brother, and Hands of Healing (the HoH capstone trait). This gives me the greatest benefit overall, both in solo and group play, in my opinion, because with Fellowship-brother and Hands of Healing equipped, I can run solo with a herald and self-heal with several different skills. Between Valiant Strike, Inspire, Muster Courage, Rallying Cry, and Revealing Mark, if  I’m getting these skills off, I can take on a lot of guys before I have to worry about my health even going down. Once it starts to drop, I still have Last Stand and Man-Heal (the man racial trait that heals 3k morale). In a group, the benefits are obvious. I can restore morale or power to everyone in my group consistently, in the form of constant HoTs. No too shabby if you ask me.

Carolin has already reached level 75, so at this point, I’m going after gear and virtues. It only took me about a month to get Carolin from level 20 to level 75, so I skipped a lot of deeds along the way. I currently have virtues slotted that are only rank THREE (and on a level 75 character who wants to go raiding, that’s not good). I have some catching up to do, but I can’t wait to get my hands on the Rise of Isengard captain set.

Slaying Dragioch

Last night, I had the pleasure of finally running Dragioch for the first time. I ran it on Carolin with a few old friends from the Crickhollow raiding kin Asylum, many of whom used to be Justified members. It was a great run, not only because it didn’t bug on us, but also because the run itself went very smoothly. We had only 1 member go down once, and that person was quickly revived by super-dee-dooper captain in-combat rezzes! At the end of the raid, I got lucky and won 2 Worn Symbols of Celebrimbor so I could obtain BOTH of my 2nd age legendary items (which I promptly did afterwards).

Now, I’ve heard rumors that with Update 5, the morale for Dragioch’s limbs are going to be reduced, which I take to mean that this fight will get easier (or perhaps just shorter). Now, maybe this is a credit to the skill of Asylum’s raid leader and raiding abilities (this particular raid was led by Rambostacked, an former Justified officer, actually), but I found the whole run very easy. There were a couple of people on this run who had never done it before, including myself, and yet there was only 1 death during the whole run (and it was in the final phase). There was only a few times when I really needed a big heal (which came in time, every time).

I will wrap this up by saying that it was an excellent run, and that Rambostacked did an excellent job leading. Hopefully I will be able to run with them again in the future.

Alright, I am very happy to present this piece, featuring Brucha. Brucha plays on the Crickhollow server, and is the author of the “Total Immersion” forum threads on the Crickhollow forum. If you haven’t read them yet, I highly recommend you do so. The most recent one can be found here. Now, on to the interview!

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Brucha: I am glad we were able to finally get together.

Me: The pleasure is mine. I’ve been following your story for quite some time.

Brucha: I am glad to hear that. I never know if people are still following the story since i do not receive much feedback on the forum. I am just glad people find it interesting to read.

Me: Alright Brucha, tell me briefly a little bit about your total immersion project.

Brucha: Well, it started with returning to LOTRO last year. I had not played since 2008, and had started with a toon named Ingion. I had read somewhere online about a player in another MMORPG using total immersion rules and applied them to playing Ingion. I also began a story for that toon at first, but tragedy struck when I accidentally erased Ingion and decided to start fresh with a new toon. The stories I wrote for Ingion were generally light-hearted and I wanted to do something a bit more serious. So, I came up with the idea of a dwarf travelling to Moria as the basis for the story. I was not sure if anyone would even be interested in such a lengthy story when I started. To be honest I still am unsure. As far as playing total immersion, it simply is a way to play the game with more realism to make the game more fun overall.

Me: OK, you mentioned some total immersion rules. What are a few examples?

Brucha: Well, the first immersion rules I found online were really basic and I ended up adding a lot to them. The most important rule was sticking to the in-game cycles of night and day, therefore, always resting during night cycles and only travelling/adventuring during the day. The second important rule was to walk everywhere, since you would not running around constantly otherwise. All the immersion rules in general were designed to add realism in my gameplay. Oh, and always staying in character and role-paying at all times.

Me: Is LOTRO the only game you’ve tried this with, or have you tried it with others as well?

Brucha: Actually LOTRO is the only MMORPG that I ever played. I stayed away from them for a long time, but being a huge Tolkien fan brought me to playing it several years ago. I guess I am a MMORPG noob.

Me: Wow, that’s surprising. I don’t know a whole lot of hardcore RPers who have only played 1 MMO.

Brucha: Well, I have played plenty of pen and paper RPGs, but none online except for some old text-based muds long ago.

Me: So, how is your total immersion generally received by people in-game?

Brucha: In game I don’t get much response, just like the forum. I am not sure why. A few players that have ended up having their stories told on the forum have sought me out in the game. And a few have also sent me gifts in the game – but other than that it seems most players don’t interact with me much.

Me: Do you see that as a good thing or a bad thing?

Brucha: Neither really, from feedback I have received it seems that most don’t want to bother me. But I actually look forward to RPing opportunities in the game. Meeting with new characters in-game just has to be RPed out.

Me: What do you see as your biggest challenge with this whole project?

Brucha: Ha, ha, surviving Moria. I made the number 1 big rule that Nuri could not be defeated in Moria. If that happens, he dies and the story ends. I kind of like to hope that at the end I can take him back to Ered Luin, buy a house and retire him.

Me: Ouch, that’s pretty unforgiving. Once Nuri either retires or dies, do you have plans to start over with a new character?

Brucha: Actually I would like to return to the story of Ingion after this. I went ahead and created Ingion as a new toon just to save the name.

Me: And if people would like to get in touch with you, or RP with you, what’s the best way to do so?

Brucha: Just come up to me in-game, but be ready to RP, because I never react to non-RP interactions usually. There are a lot of good RPers on Crickhollow, and I have had the pleasure of meeting some of them during the story so far.

Me: Do have anything else you’d like to add before we finish?

Brucha: Just to thank all the people that have been following the story and certainly to those that have given me the on-going encouragement to see this to the very end. And for you to give me this chance to bring the story to more people that may never get the chance.

Me: The pleasure is all mine, Brucha. It was great talking to you!