Archive for February, 2010

Giddy with Anticipation

Posted in LotRO with tags on February 27, 2010 by koljarn

Okay, truth be told, I haven’t been giddy for quite a few years, now.  Still, it is two days until Volume 3 is officially released, and that’s as good a reason as any to get a little enthusiastic.

To my knowledge, there is no new landmass being added to the game, and the level cap isn’t going anywhere.  Why am I getting (ahem) enthused about this update, then?  There are a few good reasons.

First, there is the change to how Clobber works.  The cooldown is still longer than it was pre-Mirkwood, but it cannot be blocked or parried, now.  It can still be evaded, but removing two of the three possible defenses is fine with me.  This is a nice boost to a Champion’s interrupt ability.  As a matter of fact, Champions are getting a high number of changes to their abilities, but the Clobber change is going to be the most important.

Second, there are new crafting patterns on the way.  Finally, I might be able to craft myself something better than the dropped hammer that I received from the Sword Hall.  Drops are okay, but I always prefer crafted gear – it’s just one of my quirks.  Likewise, jewellery and armor are getting  new patterns, so this will be interesting.  Giving crafters the ability to choose from the type of bonus that an item will give is a nice touch, too.

Third, there is the option to duo a skirmish.  This is progress.  It could be better, though – I think that they should come up with an algorithm to adjust the difficulty of any skirmish to any Fellowship size.  After this update, when only one friend is online, we can still skirmish.  However, when three friends are online, we’re out of luck.  At least it’s a step in the right direction.

Finally, I might be able to clear out my Volume 1 epic quest.  Most players that I know chose this game because of the storyline, and that story is told through the epic quest lines.  Making the epic quest more accessible opens up the content that people want to experience.  It’s a great move on Turbine’s behalf.  And if people want to go through the epic quests the old-fashioned way – with a Fellowship – then they still can.  It’s the best of both worlds.

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If It Seems Like I’m Being Quiet, It’s Because I Am

Posted in Background Noise with tags on February 24, 2010 by koljarn

I’ve been laying low for the last two weeks.  There’s not much going on in Middle Earth, save for the occasional skirmish.

I’m still tinkering around with other games, waiting for Volume 3 to be published.  While I’m at it, I’m reading a few books.  Like I said, there’s nothing going on.

Nothing that I’m doing, that is.  Mother Nature had her way with my townhouse.  The fascia and gutter tore free from the rear of my place and made a nice racket as it crashed to the ground.    The contractor with whom I deal regarding roof and gutter cleaning and repairs announced that his team found a good deal of rotten wood that will need to be replaced.  Mind you, they’ve been inspecting the roof, gutters, and eaves every Spring for the last five years, and they never saw any problems before.  Such is life, I suppose.

A Song of Skirmishes and Dragons

Posted in Background Noise, LotRO on February 20, 2010 by koljarn

Skirmish.  That’s the key.  Two levels per week, per character.

Okay, that’s a boring way to play the game, I admit it.  However, I find the skirmish system a lot less frustrating than searching for an area with quests that are on-level for one of my characters.  My Loremaster clawed his way through two levels by questing like a madman in the Bree Fields/Barrow Downs/North Downs areas.  It took several hours.  My Guardian pounded out three skirmishes per day, and got two levels in about half the time that it took the Loremaster.  You could argue that the Guardian is more potent than the Loremaster, but I don’t buy into that at these low levels.  I think that skirmishing is the fast track to level 65.  It is also infinitely more fun than running away from the elite mobs which you blunder into while wandering and looking for the areas where you can quest.  Not that I ran across any or anything.  Ahem.

Since I was out of rested XP, and I didn’t feel like skirmishing on Burhhelm yesterday, I finally loaded Dragon Age: Origins on my computer.  I actually pre-ordered it way back when, and it has been sitting next to my router for the better part of a year.  I found the human intro to be amazingly fun – it is very much like A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin.  Unfortunately, I could not muster the interest to play much beyond the introduction.  Maybe next week.

For some unfathomable reason, I have the urge to keep skirmishing with Burhhelm, despite there being nothing of significance that he wants to purchase from the skirmish vendors.  I’ll see if I can pull down another 5k or so marks this week.  Just because I can, I guess.

Maybe Just a Little Too Fast?

Posted in LotRO, Skirmishes with tags , on February 16, 2010 by koljarn

I’ve been wondering if the XP rate in skirmishes was something that was beta tested by the same people who designed the defective Toyota accelerators.  In short, the XP per hour in skirmishes is still insane.  So, the only logical thing to do is take advantage of the situation and pound out a few levels on my Guardian.

OK, this is obviously an alt update and point-of-view spew.  My Guardian is only level 36.  The first few skirmishes he tried were miserable, because his soldier was pretty much just there for moral support.  Now that his bannerman can actually contribute, things are looking way up for him.  I’m looking forward to playing my Loremaster in skirmishes, but I’m holding back on playing him right now – he is earmarked for a Barrows run, as soon as the rest of my motley crew of friends (there’s a heavy metal joke in there somewhere) get their own alts up to speed.

In any case, it is a good idea for me to level up my Guardian a bit, because he is actually a Supreme Master Jeweller.  I almost regret making Burhhelm an Armsman.  The legendary weapon system pretty much killed demand for weapons, though I can craft my own offhand weapons.  So, it’s not totally wasted.

In retrospect, I have to say that the most useful crafting skills (not including gathering skills) are armorsmith/tailor, jeweller, and cooking.  If you’re making a crafting alt, make sure you can cover at least one of these bases – they are going to be your major expenses.  I’m not the kind of player that believes in total self-sufficiency, but with a few friends, you can cover all of the major crafting bases.

Anyway, I’ll pound out a few skirmishes each day on my Guardian, and I’ll also keep Burhhelm skirmishing.  You can never have enough marks on hand, just in case.

Anticipation

Posted in LotRO, Skirmishes with tags , , on February 13, 2010 by koljarn

It seems like very little is going on in-game for people level 60+ right now.  I think that most people are waiting for Volume 3 to be released before they dedicate any real play time to the game right now.

Be that as it may, Burhhelm has been skirmishing quite a bit, lately.  If he ever does come into possession of a decent 2nd age item, he will have all of the scrolls needed to boost the tier of the legacies.  Other than that, there are very few activities going on right now for him.

On the alt front, my Loremaster is up to level 22, and I even tried playing around with my Guardian a little bit.  I want to get the Guardian into skirmishes, just to see how the class handles.  The Loremaster, on the other hand, is being groomed to visit instances.  I’m looking forward to visiting the Great Barrow once again.

Is This Virginia or Forochel?

Posted in LotRO, Siege of Mirkwood with tags , on February 8, 2010 by koljarn

It’s been about a week since my last post.  We got socked pretty well by the snowstorm that rolled through the DC area on Friday and Saturday.  My block lost power on Friday night, and we didn’t get it back until late Sunday afternoon.  No LotRO is bad… no heat for a day and a half in the middle of a winter storm is worse.

Anyway, I opened a bottle of mead that I bought for such an eventuality (yeah, mead… I have to feed my inner viking once in a while), and I got to thinking about various things, including LotRO.  When the power came back up, I spent a while speaking with one of my gaming buddies about the state of the game.  What we agreed on was this: the best thing to come out of the Siege of Mirkwood is the skirmish system.

The epic quest line is okay, but that’s all.  Other parts of the epic quest line have been good to excellent – especially when it feels like you’re supporting the Fellowship’s flank, fighting a shadow war against Sauron’s minions.  The Mirkwood epic quests feel like you’re stuck on the hamster wheel of endlessly killing orcs.  I know Turbine can do better – they have done better in the past.  We need some content that is a little more engaging.

For our inner loot-mongers (which is a nice way of saying it), we also felt disappointed at the things offered in the Mirkwood expansion.  Overall, some of the items are slightly better than what could be made or found in Moria and Lothlorien.  Those were the exceptions, though – many people still use about half of the top-level items from Lorien and Moria, especially jewellery and armor.  Personally, I went off and earned 5 of the 6 pieces of radiance armor which you can get from the 3-man instances, but they are equal to the Lorien crafted gear at best.  I don’t know anyone who uses the crafted stuff from Mirkwood;  it is sub-par.

Naturally, everyone I know who plays LotRO is looking forward to the next major patch.  More crafting recipes/patterns will offer us a chance to snag a few upgrades, and maybe even make crafting a significant skill once again.

Anyway, back to the frozen tundra of Virginia.  When I’m done digging out (more snow is on the way), then I’ll go skirmish a few more times.  It’s what keeps me in the game right now.