Archive for January, 2010

Drowning in AOE

Posted in LotRO with tags on January 30, 2010 by koljarn

I’ve decided to set aside the Volume I epic, but I made a little headway on the Volume II epic quest line last night.  It’s not like I won LotRO, or anything like that, but it is nice to move the quest line along.

Three of my kinmates were stuck on 2.4.7 with me, so it was just a little matter of getting enough people together and then heading off to the Drowned Treasury for a little bit of octopus sushi.  Most of us were level 65, but in our group of six, we had two Champions and a Hunter.  That’s a lot of AoE smackdown.  Granted, Hunters aren’t as AOE heavy as Champions, but still… the trash pulls didn’t take long.

So, aside from that little personal triumph, Turbine announced that Volume III would be released next month, along with new and improved crafting patterns/recipes.  I’m hoping that these will be to level 65 items as the Lothlorien items were to level 60 gear.  I’m a person who likes to use crafted gear over drops or bartered gear.  Maybe I’m just a throwback to DAoC, but that’s just the way I feel about it.

So, the weekend is young – let’s see if I can insinuate myself into an instance run at some point.

Playing LotRO on the Apple Slate

Posted in Background Noise, LotRO with tags , , on January 26, 2010 by koljarn

Let’s see how many hits that gets.

I have to confess that LotRO is getting a little repetitive, when playing Burhhelm.  On my average weeknight, I log in, go one three or four skirmishes, then log out.  Everyone that I know seems to be working on alts right now.

Speaking of alts, my Loremaster seems to be coming along nicely.  I only play the character for one or two days each week, but he makes progress.  I have one final character slot open amid the sub-level 10 collection of characters that I have tinkered with, and I am considering the creation of… another Champion.

Call me crazy, but I play my Champion beause I genuinely like the class.  I play alts of other classes because I have to, in order to fill some role or another.  I play my Champion because I want to.  If I put myself on this course of action, then I’ll need to decide what race to play.

I have much to ponder.

The Best-Laid Plans of Champions

Posted in LotRO, Siege of Mirkwood with tags , on January 23, 2010 by koljarn

Alas, I missed out on the Epic questing that I had planned for Friday (Yesterday) due to some folks in my kinship asking for a Sword Hall run or three.  I know that I’ve been to the Sword Hall many times – that wasn’t the point.  The simple fact is that the difference between a MMO and a single player CRPG (even an excellent one), is that a MMO allows a little social interaction.  That is, of course, the heart of why we play MMOs, isn’t it?

Anyway, back to the Sword Hall.  I only had time for three runs, but a handful of Dol Guldur medallions can be useful.  As always, the first boss – the sorcerer – is the most dangerous.  I’ve developed a tactic for dealing with him that seems to work, even if it is a bit silly – I call it the Benny Hill offense.  You see, the most dangerous attack that the sorcerer possesses is not any of his burst damage spells.  After all, they do their damage and then they’re gone.  The issue is the “flame snake” spell that he can cast.  If it touches you once, it starts a DOT going for around 125 damage per tick.  If it touches you twice, it upgrades it to 250 or so.  If it touches you three times, it goes to 500 per tick, which is quite enough to outpace even the best healer.  The flame snake effect also follows you – you can’t just step out of the fire and keep pounding away.  It tries to touch each fellowship member.  Use this to your advantage.

The flame snake is not interruptible, except by stunning the sorcerer (only triggering a fellowship maneuver can do that, BTW).  The tank needs to sit on the sorcerer, of course, but the DPS… he needs to get that flame snake out of the rest of the group.  When the sorcerer starts to cast the flame snake (the animation looks like he’s searching for a lost contact lens), the DPS needs to back off a bit, but keep plinking away with whatever ranged attack they have.  The flame snake will doubtless hit the tank once, and it may hit the healer once.  That’s OK – one touch is workable.  When it comes after the DPS, that person should kite that spell effect around the perimeter of the room.  Try to stay out of the Nazgul’s gloom effect, but more importantly, stay out of the fire.  When the effect vanishes, start pounding on the sorcerer again.

It seems like a bizarre way to fight, but if you can nullify the flame snake spell, then you have pulled the sorcerer’s teeth.  There’s no way you will ever wipe on him again, unless everyone decides to go for coffee in the middle of the fight (and it is a long one, since your DPS will be doing the aforementioned Benny Hill chase).  But, a guaranteed win is always better than a quick gamble, isn’t it?

Of course, this tactic is something we cooked up because our groups always seem to consist of a Guardian, a Champion, and a Minstrel.  Come what may, that’s what we have.  One time, I had to tank (not a big deal – go into Glory stance, and you can dual-wield tank just fine.  These bosses hit like a wet noodle), since we had a Hunter.  However, the heart of this tactic would remain the same.  DPS lures the flame snake away, and business continues as normal for the tank and the healer.

Side note: To make things a little more interesting last night, the Guardian who was tanking was only level 64, meaning that they didn’t have level 65 gear.  I found myself grabbing agro while just auto-attacking, so I ended up just going all-out and laying into mobs.  If I was going to get agro anyway, then I might as well make the mobs pay for it, eh?  One other thing that may have been a factor is that this Guardian was weapon-and-shield specced.  Normally, I hang out with a two-handed Guardian, and he keeps up with my pace pretty well.  So, I wonder if a Guardian shouldn’t adopt a two-hander for tanking the Sword Hall.  Just something to ponder.

Barrow-Downs Survival… We Didn’t.

Posted in LotRO, Skirmishes with tags , on January 20, 2010 by koljarn

We didn’t survive, that is.

Two friends any myself tried this skirmish out last night.  It’s definitely not a pushover – the action is faster and more heavy than the Siege of Gondamon.  As a matter of fact, you won’t have a chance to rest, eat, or regain power or health at all.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – it’s just the way it works.

Our own failure came from the fact that we just didn’t know what some of the mobs do (specifically, which ones have an AOE attack), and the level difference within our fellowship (our healer is still levelling up, and is 12 levels below us).  This skirmish is a nice challenge, though – as a Champion, I can pretty much walk through all of the other skirmishes.  This one is actually dangerous.

Try it out, you’ll enjoy it.

Starts With a Roar, But Ends With a Whimper

Posted in LotRO with tags on January 18, 2010 by koljarn

I haven’t been playing my Captain much, since the expansion was released.  The problem that I have been having is that he’s just not a very capable solo class any longer.

I think that it’s a combination of things.  I noticed that the Captain was putting out significantly less damage, taking more damage, and expending more power in each fight at around level 45.  I had hoped that it was a question of gear, but re-outfitting him at level 50 and 54 did not seem to make any difference.  He’s level 55 now, and I just don’t enjoy playing him – I like my fights to go more quickly, and I like to pull mobs one after the other.

So, now my Captain is respecced to a healing set of traits, and I only play him when people need a healer for skirmishes.  Even then, a Captain makes a mediocre healer, but at least he’s heavily armored.  The question that I now face is: what class do I make my primary alt, then?

Burhhelm (Champion) remains my primary character.  I enjoy AOE attacks, and I tend to play an AOE class in every game that I play for more than a month.  However, I always like to branch out a little and play a character which is different from my usual AOE DPS role.  In LotRO, a tank is a little too similar to the Champion, at least for my tastes, and I have an unwilling healer (the Captain).  So, I’m left with the following options: a crowd control class (Burglar, Loremaster, or Warden), a ranged DPS (Runekeeper, Loremaster, or Hunter), or bite the bullet and play my Guardian.

I’m starting to lean towards the Loremaster or Runekeeper, due to their ability to fill in as multiple roles (although not the best at them).  I’ve done Sword Hall with a Loremaster doing the healing, and it’s quite workable.  Two of the people in my circle of friends play a Runekeeper, and they can heal and DPS quite well.  However, we do have a dearth of Loremasters, and I think it is time to try one out.

Hopefully, he won’t go the same route as the Captain.

I Don’t Want to Be Yoda

Posted in Background Noise with tags on January 16, 2010 by koljarn

First, a follow-up to a previous post.  The last week of LotRO  wasn’t too bad.  I tried the sword/dagger dual wield combo.  It felt more responsive, and worked fine in Fervor stance.  However, the moment that you have to switch to Ardour or Glory, you end up with massive power issues.  So, I’ll be sticking with the sword/hammer combo that I have going right now.  I arranged for a little epic questing with my Kinship next weekend, but it’s going to be a challenge to get people interested in things other than Sword Hall runs.  I guess I can understand that – it gives you the most payout for your time.

So, to the meat of my topic for today – Star Wars games.  Since my work schedule has been changed, I decided to get a few single-player titles from the last few years that I was unable to play because I had my head stuck in one MMO or another.  I am enjoying the Star Wars titles that I bought, but I do have one complaint: every one wants you to play a Jedi.

I understand that the concept of the Jedi, the warrior-mystic, is central to the mythology of Star Wars.  However, I never had any real interest in playing one.  The smugglers, the scoundrels, the cynical gunslingers, and the mercenary scum of the universe always held more interest to me.  Blame the Han Solo books.  The idea of living by your wits in a universe of predators is far cooler than any pseudo-magic.

There aren’t many science-fiction games where you aren’t playing some sort of telepath or genetically-engineered super-human.  Wing Commander: Privateer was a pretty good trading and space combat sim, but it limited the planet-side action to negotiations and a few cutscenes.  The grand-daddy of the computer game genre (Elite) never really went into what the universe was like outside of your spaceship.  There was a Traveller CRPG released back in the 90’s, but it got pretty ludicrous (granting your party unrestricted access to high-end military hardware).  There just hvaen’t been that many games written.

So, when a member of my LotRO Kinship asked if anyone was considering whether or not to play The Old Republic when it gets released, I had to think about it for about two seconds before coming to the conclusion that I shall not play it.  I played the train-wreck of a game called “Star Wars Galaxies.”  I saw what happened when people got access to the Jedi class.  Almost everyone was a damn Jedi.  Seriously.  I used to travel to the most remote areas on distant planets just so that I could be free of the constant hum and buzz of lightsabers.  Additionally, you get the inevitable “game balance” adjustments when you have a melee class in such a prominent position.  If I’m firing a freaking laser rifle, then my potential range should be all the way to the horizon.  In the past, game devs have cut way back on weapon range in order to favor the ranged classes.  I’m calling bull$#!& on that one, folks.  You have to take the good with the bad – if you’re fantastically powerful in melee, then you’ll have to accept that there is some sneaky bastard of a sniper out there waiting for you to let your guard down so he can burn you down at extreme range.

Anyway, that’s my post/rant for today.  I don’t want to be a Jedi, I don’t want to be forced into a knife fight when I have a perfectly good rifle, and I don’t want to be forced to listen to old Barbara Streisand recordings.

It’s Just Common Sense

Posted in LotRO with tags on January 11, 2010 by koljarn

What I’m about to write is common sense.  You know these points, other people know these points, but not everyone actually uses this knowledge.  Anyway, I’m putting it out there again, for all to read.  Naturally, this is written from the point of view of a Champion, but most of the ideas are applicable to other classes as well.

So, you got invited to a fellowship.  Maybe it’s a PUG, maybe it’s a guild group, and maybe it’s just a couple of friends getting together online.  The specifics do not matter.  Even if it’s a very casual fellowship, you need to be prepared and behave in a mostly civilized fashion.

There are some things that you should do while grouped…

  • Take a bathroom/smoke/beer/whatever break before the action starts.  Stopping in the middle of questing, a skirmish, or an instance can kill momentum.
  • Bring a full load-out of potions and/or salves with you.  Use them as required.  It takes the load off of the other players if you can remove some effects and do a little healing on your own.
  • Repair your gear before you start.  Do you know what it’s like to watch the armor disintegrate off the back of your tank while in an instance?  I do.  It’s not pretty.
  • Turn on voice chat (or use Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, etc.).  Typing in the middle of combat just isn’t going to happen.
  • Try to get to the rendezvous location (if there is one) quickly.  This isn’t the time to go on errands (unless you are buying potions or getting repairs, of course).

And there are some things that you should NOT do…

  • Don’t spring a hidden agenda on the group.  If the players grouped up to do quest X, and you announce that you need to do quest Y, you can derail the fellowship.  Wait until the original objectives are completed before announcing that you have other things with which you’d like some help.
  • Don’t go AFK without announcing it.  It’s also more polite to request an AFK ahead of time.
  • Don’t use your skills at improper moments or situations.  Don’t spam AOE attacks when CC is active.  If you are a CC class, do not try to use CC abilities in the middle of a pitched melee.
  • Please don’t stand in AOE attacks.  Leave that to the tanks.  They like getting hit in the head.
  • Above all, avoid pulling agro off of the tank – it makes their job more difficult – and protect the healer, even if it means being defeated in combat.
  • Finally, don’t whine about loot or repairs.  If someone got a nice drop, then good for them.  Your turn will come.  If the fellowship is getting thrashed and your repair bill is through the roof, then that’s a shame, but others have the same situation.  Complaining won’t make it cheaper for anyone.

When playing the game with other players, you need to get into a different frame of mind than you have while solo.  Just spamming your skills isn’t enough any longer, you now need to consider the consequences of your actions, because they now impact on other people as well.  More than that, you need to consider the context in which you’re playing.  If you join up with four friends in a fellowship that they call “The Goblin-Town Suicide Squad,” then you are going to adopt a different attitude than you would have if you were joining a PUG for Sword Hall on hard mode.  Each group will define “success” differently.  Adjust your play style appropriately.

Wacky Question for You

Posted in LotRO with tags on January 10, 2010 by koljarn

I’ve noticed that most people, including myself, rarely join a PUG any more.  For me, it’s not that I’m afraid that I might be stuck with someone under-level or under-geared (that’s probably going to happen anyway).  I just don’t want to take a chance on a personality conflict, which is something that has happened in the past.

So, I am just wondering:

Getting Up to Speed

Posted in Background Noise, LotRO with tags , on January 10, 2010 by koljarn

It’s been a while, so let me present you with last week’s events, and what the new week may hold for me.

The Week in Review:

In reality, I got moved to a new office, one with a better commute.

In LotRO: I’ve pretty much maxed out my third-age one hander by skirmishing and buying scrolls of empowerment with the marks.

I was bitterly disappointed with my experiences using a two-hander, and eventually let my local relic-master break down my crafted third age 2H sword for a handful of relics.

I ran the hell out of the Sword Halls.  Burhhelm is equipped in the three-piece set of level 65 radiance armor, and 2 of the 3 pieces of lvl 60 pieces of radiance armor.

While most of the radiance gear is pretty good, I find that it lacks Fate bonuses.   Some call me crazy, but I like a bunch of extra Fate so my in-combat power regen is fairly high.  I’m looking for a solution, but have come up empty so far.

The Week in Preview:

I’m going to try to visit a few more of the Dol Guldur dungeons.  The Sword Hall is a nice place to visit, but I’m sick of living there.

I’m going to rattle some other cages, and see if there is anyone in my Kinship who might be on the same steps of the epic quest as I am.

As an experiment, I’m going to go hunting around for a decent lvl 61+ dagger  to try as an offhand.  I’m presently using a hammer, which is a drop from the Sword Hall, and it is superior to the best crafted one-handers available right now.  However, part of me wants to see what the higher attack speed of using a dagger will do to the combat experience.  I’ll start my hunt ASAP, as that could be fun.