Archive for October, 2010

Regarding This Year’s Harvest Festival

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming with tags on October 20, 2010 by koljarn

You can beat on Hobbits in some of the quests.  I approve.

I’m a Middle Earth Tourist

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming with tags on October 17, 2010 by koljarn

I’ll admit it, I enjoy visiting places in LotRO just because I want to visit them.  Thus, when someone in my kinship asks if there’s any interest in an instance run, I usually sign up as a standby, in case they need an extra person.  I just enjoy visiting instances – developers put a lot of work into them, and they are usually pretty well polished.  Usually.

Saturday:

As I mentioned in my last post, Burhhelm volunteered his sword arm for a Moria instance run.  It turned out that he was needed, as a few people did not show up.  No problem, I grabbed a few extra potions and was ready for action.  First stop: the Grand Stair.

I’ve never seen all of the Grand Stair.  People only hit a few bosses to complete the “hard mode” quest and grab some medallions.  This trip was no different – and for a group with multiple level 65s, it is no real challenge, so long as you have enough fear removal potions and enough healing to go around.  It took longer to get the group together than it did to complete the fights – not exactly exciting.

Since the evening was young, someone suggested that we hit Skumfil, a dungeon in the Foundations of Stone.  I’d never been to this place, so I was pleased to go.  Besides, I have been toting around the final Martial Champion quest for over a year.  Skumfil is full of bugs and fish monsters (who resemble the Deep Ones from H.P. Lovecraft).  If you have weapons with bonuses against insects and beasts, then you’re set.  Almost.  There is one catch: this place is buggy (as in computer bug, not insect) as heck.  Our tank would run up to some mobs, hit them once, and the mobs would sink into the ground and leave the whole group stuck in combat.  This happened three times – two times, this could only be fixed by the intervention of a GM.  We completed the Minstrel and Champion quests, but wow – avoid this place unless you have no other option.

 

Stuck in combat mode, Burhhelm considers going postal on his fellowship

 

I was going to turn in, but someone asked if we could hit Ost Elendil.  I was game – I am quite familiar with the place, now.  No surprises, the whole instance went smoothly as we gradually ground each set of mobs into the turf.  The theme of the entire instance is pulling mobs into the sunlight to crack their defenses, then pulling them into starlight to finish them off.  Except for the final boss, that is – just beat him down in the sunlight.  I guess he sunburns easily.  I just hope that the Annuminas marks went to good use.

Sunday:

A different group, different instances.  Well, mostly.  We visited Ost Elendil again – always a pleasure, and almost always an easy instance.  We were hampered somewhat in all of the instances on Sunday due to the Captain in the group being out of practice and geared with level 60 stuff.  Actually, I don’t think the gear was the problem; they just hadn’t done enough grouping lately to really work with everyone as a team.  He fought as if he were solo, without assisting with the healing or removing crippling fear effects.  I thought our poor Runekeeper was going to have a nervous breakdown while trying to keep up with the healing on their own.

After finishing Annuminas with only one group wipeout (there really should have been none, though), we went through each of the Great Barrows instances.  We failed the challenge in both the Maze and in the second instance, which was frustrating.  We did manage to finish Sambrog’s challenge, though.

Are you ready for the bizarre part?  A Symbol of Celebrimbor dropped in all four instances that day.  I created a new Runestone for a friend and a new Rune for Burhhelm – which I immediately tossed in the vault in disgust after identifying it.  It was just that bad – it only had only two legacies, one of which was +block/parry in Ardour, and the other was Dire Need cooldown reduction.  I’m impressed, I don’t think I’ve ever crafted something so useless. 🙂

Yes-In-Deed

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming with tags , on October 16, 2010 by koljarn

There are two ways to force me to keep a LotRO alt.  The first way is to let my trade skills get so high that the character is indispensable.  The other way is to pile on the badges, titles, or Deeds.

Thus, I am doomed to keep the Warden that I’ve been playing, as he has cleared the Deeds in all three starting areas and is just about done with the Lone Lands.  You say that it sounds silly?  Consider that Deeds grant a significant stat bonus for characters before you take that stance.  They are also far from a trivial investment, time-wise.

Sometimes there is a different scenario: you really enjoy a character and you want to keep it.  In such a case, I suggest that you complete the Deeds in all three starting zones, plus the Lone Lands and the North Downs.  After that, you can pick and choose which Deeds to complete (I still suggest that you finish all of them, as they now grant Turbine Points).  That way, you have a good foundation to draw upon.  You can play the game without completing any Deeds, but why turn your nose up at significant stat bonuses which cost you nothing but a little extra time?

On the Champion front, I have signed Burhhelm up for two raids this weekend as a standby attendee.  Although I enjoy playing the Warden, I still enjoy playing the Champion far too much to ever set him aside for long.  Here’s to hoping that they need a little AoE.

Distractions, Disctractions….

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming with tags , on October 11, 2010 by koljarn

So, only a few days after Burhhelm has gotten the gear for which I was working, and my circle of friends is trying to get me to drop playing him in favor of a low-level Warden.  This is mainly due to the fact that one of our group refuses to level any of his characters beyond 55 before each and every one of his alts has caught up to the same level.  Personally, I find the whole thing slightly irritating, but they are my friends and the game is about their enjoyment as much as mine.  The alternative to playing my Warden is to play my Loremaster, but the Loremaster is too high a level to be hanging out with the other characters in our lowbie group.  Thus, I have begun doing some work on Galmann, my Warden from Dale.

The good news is that playing a Warden can be a fairly casual and entertaining affair.  The Gambit system is almost a mini-game of its own, and a Warden’s health and defenses are pretty formidable (only natural for one of the two tanking classes in the game).  Of course, the bad news is that the Warden does tank-level damage.  If you’re hoping to scream a battle cry and wade into a swarm of mobs, laying waste to them like a Champion, you’ll be sorely disappointed.  I do enjoy playing the class, in limited doses – despite the talk from my friends, this is only going to be an alt.  I enjoy the Champion too much to ever retire Burhhelm from the position of  “main.”

If I really am going to play this Warden all the way to level 65, though, it will require completing various Deeds.  That includes Shire Deeds.  Such as delivering mail and running pies around.  I can foresee that this will only nurture my pathological hatred of Hobbits.  You just know that when the Warden hits level 65, he will sit in Enedwaith killing bugan while laughing maniacally.

The Trappings of an Adventurer

Posted in Enedwaith, LotRO with tags on October 8, 2010 by koljarn

Well, good progress on Burhhelm – now, to help my gaming buddies catch up.  Burhhelm managed to pound his way to Kindred reputation with the Algraig, forged a decent (though not spectacular) Reforged 2nd Age Sword for himself (and made another for a guardian friend), got the last of the Annuminas armor set, and bought a nifty new hauberk from the online store.  He’s in pretty good shape, now.

I have to note that the new horses offered in Enedwaith have more health than any of the previous ones, and I have mixed feelings about it.  I feel that the grey horse you receive from completing all of Book I should be at least on par with these new mounts; after all, you take a great deal of time to complete the first book of the epic quest – the reward should fit the effort.  Having explored just about all of Enedwaith, I have to say that the zone feels incomplete.  There does not seem to be enough plot closure, such as when you finish all of the available quests in other zones.  Right now, I am assuming that this is because Turbine will be adding content to the zone.  If they don’t, it won’t fit cleanly with their storytelling quests from other zones.

Let me close with a tip for this zone: when day comes, the Cuthraul vanish from the open plains of the Windfells, but not from the valley beyond the White Hand banner (Gwyllion’s Gate).  I don’t know if they respawn during the daytime, but they will not despawn.  This means that even though the sun comes up, you can complete that annoying repeatable quest that seems to be nighttime-only!

Battles in the Barrows

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming with tags on October 3, 2010 by koljarn

One of the very cool aspects of Middle Earth is delving into the Barrow Downs.  I have been pleased to have the opportunity to visit the Barrows instances a few times each week, recently.  This is entirely thanks to the new instance system which allows you to set the level to whatever you please and start the instance from wherever you are.

Why are the Barrow Downs so fascinating?  Mainly because they are somewhat based on real life.  Of course, the interiors of real-life barrow tombs tend to be quite a bit more cramped, but we can excuse the artistic license that the game designers have taken in the name of drama and utility.

We only have the most basic inklings about the people who dug real-world barrow tombs – most of them date back to the Stone Age.  Obviously, they didn’t leave a great deal of literature behind.  Thus, the barrow tombs in Europe are a narrow window into the past which allow us a few glimpses into what Stone Age Europe was like.

Just as in reality, the barrows in the Lord of the Rings are ancient.  There were a few tombs from the time of the kingdom of Arnor and the three successor sister-kingdoms of Cardolan, Rhuadaur, and Arthedain.  However, there were many tombs from even earlier – perhaps predecessors of the Men of Bree, or maybe cousins of the Dunlendings (whose ancestors had a rather advanced civilization akin to the Celts, but their descendants have regressed a bit).  We don’t really know much about these proto-Dunmen, and that mystery is part of what makes a trip to the Barrow Downs so cool.

At Breakneck Speed

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming with tags on October 2, 2010 by koljarn

Quite a bit of gear progression this week.  Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good:

Burhhelm is now wearing a full set of Annuminas armor.  Armor rating has gone up significantly.  This means that survivability has also gone up as well.  Additionally, I have maxxed his reputation with the Grey Company and bought a new pocket item, and I am working on the Algraig reputation to get a sword which, together with the pocket item, gives me yet another set bonus.  Finally, a Symbol of Celebrimbor dropped, and I hammered that sucker into a new Second Age legendary sword.   It’s nice to finally have a Second Age weapon again.

The Bad:

Burhhelm’s jewelry items need a major overhaul to adjust for deficiencies in the armor – notably a lack of agility.  At least money’s not a major problem, as the instances give you a great deal of silver.  Still, finding items that make up for this lack of agility without totally sacrificing might and/or vitality has not been easy so far.

The Ugly:

Did I mention that most of the instances that I ran over the last week were done with PUGs?  I mean pick-up groups, not small dogs – though small dogs would have been better companions.  Of course, these PUGs , which seemed to be composed of 50% hardcore raiders and 50% hardcore PvP players, insisted on using in-game voice chat.  Have I mentioned that LotRO voice chat is junk?  I have?  Well, I’m saying it again.  I just love to try and decipher lines like the following:

“- and you have to be extremely careful because *mumble* tanker Gilgamesh *mumble* Spartan *mumble* lingerie

“Whatever you do, do not step on the *mumble* pie *mumble*”

“When we get to *mumble* moon *mumble* lure *mumble*, you must stop using AoE.”

There’s a reason that my usual circle of friends use Ventrilo instead of in-game voice chat.  It’s not because Ventrilo is the greatest thing in the world – our Ventrilo server actually has a shaky connection that seems to make people drop offline from time to time.  No, we prefer to use Ventrilo because in-game voice chat universally sucks.