Archive for September, 2011

Is the Grass Greener?

Posted in Isengard, LotRO, Online Gaming on September 28, 2011 by koljarn

Decisions, Decisions….

Last night, I tinkered around a bit more with different Champion builds. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the new treatment of Ardour – it works well for me, as I always enjoyed mowing through the trash mobs. However, I was not yet ready to dismiss Fervour without giving it a fair shake.

Using a build with Blood Lust (F), Deadly Strikes (F), Deep Strikes (F), Vicious Strikes (F), Eye of the Storm (A), Stalwart Blade (A), and Winds of the Storm (A). It’s a straightforward DPS build, and it worked just fine. Naturally, it dealt better with individual and small groups of mobs, but it was far from useless against larger numbers. I had no power problems, but I still think that this build would work best with a 2H weapon. This build is probably best suited to solo grinding – in my experience, the single-target DPS for a full Fellowship has usually been supplied by a Hunter. It was still fun to play, though, and that alone makes it a viable build.

After some advice from other Champions, I also tried an 5-Ardour build in order to give Improved Great Cleave a try. The traits for this test were Battle Acumen (A), Eye of the Storm (A), Stalwart Blade (A), Swift to Anger (A), Winds of the Storm (A), Controlled Fury (F), and Bountiful Mercy (F). I found the cooldown on Battle Acumen to be too long to work into a regular rotation – it seems best used right before pitching a few AoE moves in a row. So, I replaced Battle Acumen with Improved Rend, for the armor debuff. I was ready to dislike this build. I had played a Fervour-heavy Champion since I started playing LotRO, but I was pleasantly surprised. Even skirmish boss fights were just fine, so long as I shifted from Ardour to Fervour for the encounter. I’ll use this build for a while, and see how it works out in the long term.


First Impressions of Champion Changes.

Posted in Isengard, LotRO, Online Gaming on September 27, 2011 by koljarn

I have not had enough time to render a full judgement of the changes to the Champion class. I have, however, gone through a few skirmishes and grouped with a Guardian to test the waters a bit. 

Wit the changes to different Virtues, I have begun using Zeal.  My current choice of Virtues is Determination, Discipline, Loyalty, Valor, and Zeal. So far, so good. On to Class traits.  For a long while, now, I have gone with 4 red (Fervour), 3 yellow (Ardour). That’s been great for dealing with single targets, but still bringing the pain to groups of targets with AoE. Just to test the waters, I went with a 4 Ardour and 3 Fervour build, this time out. The Ardour traits I have equipped are Stalwart Blade, Winds of the Storm, Eye of the Storm, and Swift to Anger. The Fervour traits I am using right now are Controlled Fury, Blood Lust, and Vicious Strikes. I’m happy enough with the Ardour traits, but the Fervour ones seem a bit lacking. As for Legendary traits, I had to keep Raging Blade and Controlled Burn.  Not sure what to do with the last one, I went with Fight On – which I think I have used twice since I learned the skill long ago.

Okay, so how does the Champion perform in the new Ardour stance? I would say that the class does admirably well. Swift to Anger turns Swift Strike to Swift Blade, which has an arc like Blade Wall.  In Ardour, Blade Wall generates an additional point of fervour. In short, generating fervor pips was not an issue – fervour points roll in at an impressive rate while you spam AoE attacks.  With the discount to power costs that you get with 4 Ardour traits, I found that power is not an issue. Also, since I am not going with a Fervour/Flurry build, I found that Dual Wielding still works just fine – important to me, as I view Dual Wielding as a signature ability of the class. Actually, I think the Dual Wield is superior to 2H in Ardour stance – I still believe that 2H will out-perform DW in Fervour, though.

Is there a downside to the 4 Ardour/3 Fervour build?  Sure.  I found that individual, tough mobs take a good 10-20% longer to kill.  This would be more of an issue, except for the fact that I can actually parry and evade in Ardour – big fights are longer, but a Champion is more durable. It feels a bit slower, but in exchange, you get to make lesser mobs evaporate when they wander  into your AoE.  I can live with that.

Ready or Not…

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming on September 26, 2011 by koljarn

Here comes the expansion.  Burhhelm spent the weekend skirmishing and wrapping up some old half-completed deeds. His skirmish soldier is nearly maxxed out – healing skills and level is at 25, the personal buffs are only at level 24.  Close enough.  I went through five Zeal deeds.  That was a chore, but Zeal is suddenly in demand – I was far from alone in working on these deeds, and the competition for the spawn was intense at times. With that behind me, I feel ready for Isengard.

Girded for battle!

Girded for battle!

Which brings up an issue – I don’t plan on hitting any of the new content for at least a week. Insanity, you say? No, it’s just my preferred policy. Consider, if you will, the competition I had to endure in order to grind out a few kill deeds this weekend.  Yes, I grouped with people in the area to hasten things along – there were other groups as well, all trying to get the same mobs! This is a hint of what the situation will be like in the new zones.  They are going to be mobbed, and everyone will be hunting the same goblins, wargs, or whatever the new quests require. My standard procedure is to wait for at least a full week to pass before sampling any new content.

Still, I will probably do a bit of skirmishing.  A little experience to give me a leg up in the new zones wouldn’t be unwelcome.

Violence and Bloodshed

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming on September 22, 2011 by koljarn

So, I’ve been re-exploring Middle Earth and skirmishing like a fool.  The Champion is a pretty straightforward class, and I’ve already worked the kinks of out my solo play and have done all right in group play – though it was only in a duo (I generally don’t go in for more than 3-person instances, anyway). I feel pretty confident – bring on the expansion.

Champions tend to yell when excited

You want some o' this?

That being said, there’s work in my future over the weekend.  Cleaning up old deeds on Burhhelm, and levelling my Guardian with a lower level friend or two. I’m not a huge fan of the Guardian, but it’s an easy class to play in small groups.  I can’t ask for more than that. My Kinship celebrated the Baggins boys’ birthday last night, but I was too distracted with realm life and skirmishing to get involved. I am not fond of Kinship events, because I feel obligated to attend them.  It’s like getting a meeting invitation from your boss while you’re in the middle of a project – you know you should go, but you’d rather stay focused.

Anyway, I tried to pre-emptively burn the Shire to the ground, but the game wouldn’t let me. Disappointing.


This Again?

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming on September 21, 2011 by koljarn

So, I assume all interested folks have read the planned changes for the Champion class, right? If not, you can check them out HERE.

Change is always interesting, and though this will probably have little difference on my existing playstyle, it does bring up the old “Dual Wield versus Two Handed” argument again. From my point of view (a solo and small group player), Two Handed style is starting to gain favor over Dual Wielding.  Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Dual Wield goes through your power bar more quickly.  This is fine for short skirmishes, but for long fights it becomes a problem. +1 to Two Handed.
  • Dual Wield does get an advantage in that you get to carry an additional item which gives you additional stat bonuses. +1 to Dual Wield.
  • Dual Wield’s fervour cost discount is going to be the norm, not an advantage. This is an important gain for Two Handed. +1 to Two Handed.
  • Flurry is an integral part of the Fervour stance, now – traited, it is always on, no defeat response needed. Another +1 for Two Handed.
  • Interrupting with Two Handed can be more dicey, as your attacks are slightly less responsive. +1 Dual Wield.
  • Dual Wield still gains fervor pips at a higher rate than Two Handed. +1 Dual Wield.

Tied at three points each? Well, let me stress the importance of Dual Wield using power at a greater rate than Two Handed.  Because, in Ardour stance, you get power back at a slower rate.  I wouldn’t even consider Ardour stance when Dual Wielding, you run out of power far too quickly. Why would you use Ardour? When providing the main source of AoE damage for a fellowship, the reduced power cost and reduced threat for AoE attacks is a huge advantage. Overall, I think Two Handed is a slightly better choice, on paper.

What’s better in practice? I’ll tell you next week, after the expansion is released.






What’s All This About Isengard?

Posted in LotRO, Online Gaming on September 20, 2011 by koljarn

I hear that they’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard.  So, why in the world would I want to go there?

It’s been some time since I played LotRO for more than two days in a row, though I do still play from time to time. If they really are taking the Hobbits to Isengard, then I suppose I’ll have to start playing a little more regularly.  Someone has to guard the border of Rohan in order to keep those rodents out.