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Quest rewards

I’m still not feeling particularly motivated to finish my Mirkwood quests. I said before that I think some of the reason is that I don’t find them interesting enough in themselves to do them solo. But, after pondering a little more, I think the new quest reward system is just not doing it for me either.

Before Mirkwood, you’d hand in a quest and you’d get offered a nice earring or a pair of trousers, very kind. Often the reward wasn’t as good as what you already had. Sometimes it wasn’t for your class, but that was alright; it just meant that it would suit someone else. But at times what you were offered was just the ticket. And that was great! It was a real incentive to go through and repeat quest chains for various rewards. And repeat those chains with alts.

But since Mirkwood, Turbine have brought in a barter system. You complete your quest, you get bronze feathers and item xp for your legendary items. The feathers can be exchanged for recipes, legendary items, potions, armour and jewellery. As you go up in rep, you get more choice of vendors.

This lacks something for me.  You very quickly build up a large number of feathers. So it does not take long before you have bartered, certainly, for all the items you need. So in the end, you mostly end up getting potions.

It took me a while to realise that I wasn’t getting, or going to get, item rewards from quests, I think about the time I reached Gathburz. I’m a little slow putting these sorts of things together. But now I  have, I think it is one of the things I am missing. It’s sort of like getting a gift voucher instead of a pressie on your birthday. Sensible and you can choose what you like (though in this case from a very limited selection) but not exciting. And you get the same whatever quests you do. I just sign for the days of the Fem armour set. Getting that was an achievememt.

Skirmishes a success….

Well so far I have done a handful of solo skirmishes, some 3-man, some 6-man and one 12-man skirmish. My thoughts so far. The 12-man was excellent. I loved the accessibility. One moment I was in Mirkwood, the next fighting in Bree. And then, after leaving the group, I was back in Mirkwood. The wide level band the skirmish was set to, meant that we could have a mix of levels; we had one 55 with us and at least one at 65. I could see that once our soldiers were trained up, they would help compensate for class imbalances making it even more accessible. There was no radiance gating so even though we had a raid-sized group tacking raid-type bosses, we could bring along a group, mixed in experience and equipment. No doubt a fully geared up and experienced group of raiders would have fared better (we wiped a number of times on the last bosses before finishing), but the important thing here was that we now had the choice to bring along anyone who wanted to come. The 3-man and 6-man ones were fun too; pulled together on an impromptu basis. Lots of racing around and mutual soldier mockery;  I can see already my Protector, Pompy, is not a natural fighter.

Now, I’m a bit more neutral about the solo skirmishes. They are fun. I can see that I will be busy playing them to improve my skills and to level up my soldier and of course to earn skirmish marks to spend. But do I prefer them to solo questing? I’m not so sure. Would I rather be doing skirmishes on my own or running about in Middle-Earth seeing the world? I know fears have been expressed; will skirmishes result in an empty game, with everyone tucked away in skirmishes? But LoTRo, with it’s rich tolkienesque world and bias towards PvE,  has attracted a specific playerbase,  so I think that these worries are unfounded. Instead skirmishes will provide just something extra for people to do, more oportunity for social grouping, and the basis for future content and game development.

Combat after Mirkwood

In my Mirkwood first experiences post,  I mentioned the way combat changes have changed the way combat feels for my hunter. It feels smoother and faster. I feel more deadly. Skills like Barbed arrow actually do damage now.

It has also changed for my guardian. Again combat feels faster and more responsive. However, power is more of an issue now. I have to keep an eye on it whereas before I gave it little thought with my various power restoring skills and a store of potions.

Now much of this is due to the standardising of weapons. All weapons at the same level now have the same attack speed, dps and damage per hit. I’ve always used an axe before, one of the ‘slower’ weapons and therefore used less power. Now that the speed of my axe is faster, and along with it being easier for me to crazily spam my skills, it obviously means that my power use has increased.

The change in Stamp was an obvious combat skill change and one of the most welcome. Stamp is the only induction-breaking skill that guardians have. Previously I’d been pretty useless using stamp at the correct time, I’d so often just miss the right moment. Now, stamp, interrupt, immediate kick, induction broken. Everytime.

I’m looking forward to playing more on both hunter and guardian and experiencing the changes further. I’d like to play a little more with skill orders and timings. I’m finding combat smoother, but a couple of my kinmates, a burglar and a captain, feel that it is more ‘jerky’. Both were using slower weapons as like me but as I’ve said, I haven’t found this. It may be something to do with the order they carry out various skills and that some experimentation is in order. We’ll see, anyway it shows that there may be room for different and favoured playstyles that can add more variety to combat.

Skirmishes: a 12-man rumpus

Skirmishes are one of the main innovations in the new SoM expansion pack. Up until yesterday I had done a couple of solo skirmishes but last night I took part in my first 12-man. And it was a blast!

I had done the initial skirmish quests, finding my war orders and target list for my higher level characters;  guardian, hunter and minstrel, and the tutorials. I chose a herbalist for my guardian, a protector for my hunter and a warrior for my minstrel. I’d t tried out a solo skirmish for each one, selecting Tier 1 at the default level. They proved a fun challenge for both hunter and minstrel. However, my guardian breezed through the Ford of  Bruinen. He is now raid equipped including one piece from DN. Of course I only tried out the one skirmish and it could well be tougher on another with no or squishier NPCs, but  maybe I’ll move the level to Tier 2 for that one.

But anyway, the 12-man. In our kin we have a late-evening group called the Night Owls and last night was skirmish night. Seven had already signed up but the call went out on kinchat for more. I missed this first because I was helping a couple of kinmates catch up on some quests, but then, oh joy, I managed to grab a spare place just before the final boss. Oh alright, before the fifth attempt at the final boss.

And was that Boss tough! We’d chosen Thievery and Mischief set to Tier 1 and already reduced  to level 58. There were four altogether with numerous debuffs, attacks, self-heals and banners. I went in with my hunter first but then switched to my guardian as some serious tanking was required (yay!) which allowed us at least to get the first boss down and make a good attempt at the next two. I would say they were easily as tricky, certainly, as many Raid bosses.

The soldiers added that extra something! Half the group seemed to have herbalists, no-one had had enough skirmish marks to change their appearances, so the central Bree battlefield was full of identical women in sensible blue dresses, blonde hair tied neatly up in buns. Add to that a fair number of white bearded dwarven protectors running about somewhat out of control and you had a pretty wild field of combat.

After our final more successful attempt we decided to call it a night but are all raring to go again. I’d joined using the skirmish panel; now I simply left the group and there I was, back in Mirkwood. So simple. Nice.

First experiences of Mirkwood

Mirkwood is here! At last. Thursday was the first opportunity for the Europeans to enter the woods to have explore and experience the new expansion.

I started with my guardian. My fave. His morale bar was now nicely at 7000+. Then I checked his stats. It had all changed! I hadn’t expected that.  There were loads of confusing new numbers. Yikes! Anyhow, I eventually identified incoming melee invulnerability as now being melee defence and unslotted Zeal and stuck in Compassion to reduce it; now capped at 15%, it was previously way above that. Compassion gave me a bit of tactical and ranged invulnerability. Nice. Then checking my LI’s I found the legacies had  been reset; I probably knew this would happen but it’s one thing reading about it and a totally different thing it happening.  So I had to go through the entire process of deciding what points should go where, again. So, that was the first hour of my Mirkwood experience, re-allocating points and staring at  stats. Oh and reading a bewildering letter from Galadriel.

And then the same process for my hunter after which I decided to take her out into the new world. By this time I’d been able to subliminally process the letter so was aware that it was something to do with reaching Mirkwood, in fact to the extent that I was able to get myself and another slightly baffled kinmate to where we were supposed to go. And start book 9 in the process.

After that, it was easy, pick up quests and kill orcs (or rather orc runners along with everyone else on Laurelin). And didn’t the combat changes make playing my hunter feel different! Attacks were faster and smoother, it felt she hit harder. Power consumption didn’t seem as high as other hunters had experienced, may be because I’d equipped for power conservation and regen as much as possible. However I don’t know how this would work for longer fights.

And, for once, I liked the customary launch-day crowds around the first encampment. It felt buzzy. It seemed to be what I imagined an excited army from the books would be like, landing on an enemy shore, preparing to go and make war.

Then I decided I wanted to get my minstrel his first LI. He was already just about to, now I wanted to check out if the new legacy pools worked. And great, one of the first legacies; reduced rally cooldown.

Then it was back to my guardian to make ready for the skirmishes. Eventually I found the skirmish camp in the 21st Hall (I know, obvious, the cluster of blue dots that weren’t there the day before) and picked up the introductory quest. By that time, I’d already had far too much to think about so I decided to leave skirmishes for the next time.

Radiance changes: will the beast sleep?

A while ago I wrote how the accumulation of radiance in MoM had created Berath the beast. Now, having more-or-less returned to my SoA state of munificence, apart from the raid-linked spasm, I’m wondering if SoM will cause the hair to sprout again. We’ve all known that the radiance system was due for an overhaul, but until recently didn’t know the details. Now we know more.

First, in the original instances, coins will no longer drop. Instead we will get medallions of Moria which can be exchanged for the +10 radiance armour. We still don’t know how many medallions you get from each instance run. But since medallions drop from all challenges for everyone, every group member will get them, similar to the crystals dropping in the Book 8 instances. I always liked this. You ran the instances, you got crystals, well at least at first. What I liked less was the Book 8 ‘fix’; you lost hard mode, you got nothing. SoM in a way removes this ‘fix’ by making sure that,  once again, you get something reasonably significant simply for running the instance and defeating the boss (which in itself could be something of a challenge).

The book 8 instances will drop medallions of Lothlorien which can be bartered for the +15 radiance items. Apparently the new instances will drop medallions of Dol Guldur which can also be used to buy the +15 items as well as new +25 radiance pieces. As far as I’m concerned the main importance here is No More Hall of Mirrors, happy happy joy joy; unless the new instances are even worse.

Anyhow, it looks like the medallions can be bartered like the crystals in Book 8. If you don’t need the radiance armour they can be bartered for other things including it seems settings which I’ve found quite hard to come by in MoM. This will be useful. It will also allow those just helping out to get stuff too.

So this, along with the removal of the need to run specific instances for specific pieces of armour, means that life for the radiant-aspirant should get easier in SoM and so, perhaps, Berath monster may sleep on…..

Skirmish chaos

A casual musing; just picture a 12-man skirmish with 12 captains each with a herald and of course their skirmish soldiers. Mayhem! Or a dozen lore-masters, each with a pet along with their military companions. What a lot of people.


Guardians in Mirkwood

Well I’m finding out more about how SoM will be changing the life of my guardian. In terms of skills, not much I’m afraid. The new level 62 skill, Brutual Charge, doesn’t exactly overwhelm me. It’s an upgraded Charge giving a burst 150%  speed plus 10% melee damage. Charge is a skill I rarely use. Can’t see much point to this one except perhaps on the Moors. However it seems tha tgenerally the new class skills aren’t particularly useful. I suppose it’s a way of making sure they don’t unbalance the game.

Melee invulnerability  is capped at 15% which I’m neutral about. It’s said that mobs are going to hit harder so not sure how the capping will effect this. However, this might encourage  more experimentation in  builds. Currently, I’ve stacked up all the melee invulnerability I can through items, runes and virtues. I’ve considered ranged invulnerability and tactical invulnerability but so far haven’t felt it worth doing because of the resulting reduction in melee invulnerability. With this capped, I might as well play about a bit more. It also makes it easier to swap in other virtues with different mitigations. I suppose, linked in with all this, is the increase in vitality bonus. We get 5 points of morale per vitality point instead of 3. And passive critical defence bonuses. This seems just straight out good.

We can no longer use a  shield in Overpower; or rather you can but it counts as disabled. This sort of makes sense. It ties in with the previous champ changes by making it harder for heavily armoured classes to also be high damage dealers…you takes your defending or you takes your attacking; not both. Coupled with this is the 5% increase in passive with heavy shields so you take even more of a hit if go you offensive.

We had been aware that LI legacies were going to be divided into two pools, the first containing legacies considered more useful. Of course the fear had been that the legacies Turbine considered useful would be strange and random to everyone else, but overall it looks as if it has been done pretty sensibly. Nothing has been completely confirmed but it looks like all my favourites are in pool A including whirling retaliation damage, whirling retaliation being one of my favourite skills because I think it looks good and leeches threat from those around you. Belts also have shield damage default legacy; another reason for disabling shields in overpower I reckon.

Overall, it  looks pretty good and I’m looking forward to playing my Guardian in Mirkwood and seeing how all the changes gel together. Interesting times!

No longer nameless horse

Being able to name my horse in Siege of Mirkwood is great.  Since I first started playing LOTRO  I’ve been casting envious and baleful glares towards lore-masters and their snappily named pets and captains with their heralds trotting behind them each proudly bearing their own name and then summoning  my horse and it arriving, nameless. And in fact, at the moment with no name, I  don’t know if  it is my original horse that is turning up or even if it’s the same horse I’m getting each time. It could be any old horse just passing by.

But now I’ll be able to make my horse/horses my own. I just know I’ll try and get every horse in the game, especially since riding will be made a skill so each one won’t take up valuable vault and bag spaces with a token. This will, of course, be a long long term goal. It will cost money and take much grinding, but since it looks as if getting rep will be made more worthwhile generally this last is probably to the good as well.

Now will allowing players to name their own horses lead to a swathe of Champions, Black Beautys and Muffin the Mules to swamp the servers? Well it might, but apparently the name of your horse is only visible to the owner.

Probably a good thing.

But I don’t need other people to see my horses’ names anyway. Just as long as I can, so I know my horse is mine.

Poetical interlude: The Siege of Mirkwood Expansion Pack

After the dramatic tension of the last post, all about first Raids and such like, I think some quiet contemplation is needed. So here is another in my series of occasional poems; this one anticipating the launch of Siege of Mirkwood

The latest Lotro expansion pack

When we heard  it took us all a little aback.

That instead of being for sale on the high road

We could only get it via digital download.

But no matter, we’ve started to get all excited

As news is announced and on forums and blogs is cited

We’ve an extra 5 levels and Mirkwood to quest

And  new scalable Skirmishes (this part might be the best).

There will be new instances, some for 6, some for 3

And a whole new Raid for you and for me.

And last there will be a legendary item system revamp

Which could prove good;  I’m in the ‘wait and see’ camp.

So all in all we’ve a date we need to remember

When the pack is launched at the start of December!

Hmmm, maybe there wasn’t an air of quiet contemplation there, perhaps nearer one of slightly fevered excitement. I’m looking forward to some more content and a new area to explore.

This is how excited we all are!

This is how excited we all are