Archive for the Siege of Mirkwood Category

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.

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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.

Tastes Great or Less Filling?

Posted in LotRO, Siege of Mirkwood with tags , on December 31, 2009 by koljarn

I was holding off on making any posts until 2010, but I’ve decided to wish everyone a pre-emptive Happy New Year and post something anyway.  So, with the pleasantries out of the way, let me present you with my views on the present tempest in a teapot in the small LOTRO Champion community: Dual Wield (DW) or Two Handed (2H)?

In the recent past, DW had an edge in DPS while a Champion using Flurry and 2H had an edge in power efficiency.  Then, the Siege of Mirkwood was released.  While I have mentioned the revamp of Champion legacies, they are not the major concern with respect to this discussion.  The single most important change of note in this comparison was the standardization of weapon speeds.  One handed weapons have a swing time of 1.9 seconds, while two-handers have a speed of 2.5.

Okay, so what’s the big deal of 1.9 versus 2.5?  It all comes down to attack rotations. Many Champions use Brutal Strikes and Feral Strikes, which have cooldown of about 4 seconds.  Attack with Wild Attack, Swift Strike, and Feral Strikes / Brutal Strikes.  Throw in an occasional Clobber for extra DPS.  Rinse and repeat.  A weapon speed of 2.2 or so is pretty ideal for that sort of rotation, as your attack timer is pretty much in sync with your cooldowns.  It just so happens that under the effects of Flurry, a 2H weapon is just a little bit quicker than a speed of 2.2 seconds.  Thus, 2H has had a significant uptick in popularity.  Additionally, Remorseless Strikes can do some absolutely terrifying critical damage using 2H, though it is not part of the standard rotation.

This is not to say that Dual Wield has just dropped off of the map for Champions.  With one-handed weapons being inherently quick, you can attack quickly.  This mean using Wild Attack, Swift Attack, and Blade Wall in succession in order to quickly build up fervor.  More fervor means more special maneuvers.  Also, any Champion will notice that while a maneuver will cost X amount of fervor, a 2H Champion must have X+1 fervor in their pool before they are allowed to use the selected move.  This means that DW can more quickly build up fervor AND can also spend that fervor more quickly.  Of course,  a DW Champion also goes through their power pool more quickly, but this translates into a slight edge in damage output.

There is a very basic numerical comparison of DW and 2H here.  Some people believe that this is slightly flawed.  I agree, somewhat – Relentless Strikes works quite well with 2H.  However, you can use it to break down what attacks work best with your style.  

Wild Attack, Feral Strikes, Bracing Attack, Blade Wall, Blade Storm, and Raging Blades all favor DW.  Note that the lion’s share of AOE attacks are in that list.  If you are an AOE fanatic, then DW should interest you.  On the other hand, Swift Strike, Remorseless Strikes (for the big crits), Brutal Strikes, Clobber, and Rend favor the 2H style of play.  With less of a focus on AOE, 2H would be very useful in grouping.  You can burn down individual mobs quickly.

There are also some good points here.  I agree that DW Champions tend to have more stats from their off-hand.  Thus, they also tend to have more melee crit, power, and morale.  Also, while DW can’t achieve the same massive crits from Remorseless Strikes, a DW Champion can use it more often due to quicker fervor buildup.  That means more chances for a crit.  Even though the crit won’t be as large, it translates to more damage over a sustained time.

So, DW beats 2H, right?  No.  Even in a Flurry build, 2H is more power-efficient than DW.  If you find yourself running out of power with any significant frequency, then you should consider going 2H.  You really have to think about DW and 2H as tools in your Champion toolbox.  You need to slect the right tool for the job.  AOE?  Go with DW.  Single mob with a lot of health?  2H will see you through that fight better than DW.  Nothing has really changed with the comparison since the pre-Mirkwood days, the comparison is just a bit more close, now.

Lastly, if you’re feeling particularly stubborn and refuse to use anything but DW or 2H (whichever you prefer), then there’s this piece of good news: the difference between the numbers for DW and 2H is relatively slight, so use what you prefer.  Yes, it may not be the ideal choice for a particular situation, but either choice is competitive in all situations.

One Down, Lots to Go

Posted in LotRO, Siege of Mirkwood, Skirmishes with tags , on December 23, 2009 by koljarn

I ground out the last of my Malledhrim  reputation last night, and was duly rewarded with… nothing special.  I know a lot of people are still drooling over the horse, but I’m not one of them.  If I were playing a Dwarf, I would buy one of the cosmetic dresses for him (few things are as amusing as an angry Dwarf in a dress).

I’m hovering around 9 Medallions of Dol Guldur, so I haven’t been able to buy any of the new lower-tier radiance gear, but that can be amended over time.  Last night, I took part in a 6-person skirmish instead of hitting an instance.  It was fun, so that’s all I really care about.  The mobs in those instances certainly hit hard, but a six-person group is very durable – we never wiped, and the only person who dropped once was yours truly (AoE does that).

Anyway, reputation is done.  My remaining goals in Mirkwood are: forge a new second-age weapon, acquire a set of radiance gear (just so I can claim to have done it), and unlock the rest of the skirmishes.  One down, a lot of stuff yet to go.

A Bit of Local Color

Posted in LotRO, Siege of Mirkwood with tags , on December 15, 2009 by koljarn

One extremely nice thing about Siege of Mirkwood – the content is all going to be more or less on-level for whatever character you bring into it, because the expansion only added five levels to the cap.  So, you can fully explore everything without the fear of out-levelling the quests and instances that might exist over the next hill.

A bit gloomy... hey, could that be why it's called MIRKwood?

A bit gloomy... hey, could that be why it's called MIRKwood?

Burhhelm is creeping along through the quests and open-world PvE stuff.  As I stated previously, there is a very high mob density and respawn rate in these areas.  There are no safe places to stand in a corner while you let the dog out.  Frankly, most of your exploring is best done with one or two friends.  Outside of using stable routes, the roads are the safest method of travel.  That is not to say that the roads are safe, though.  You will encounter many ambushes along the road, especially as you head deeper into Mirkwood.

Burhhelm gives the locals a dancing lesson.

Burhhelm gives the locals a dancing lesson.

I’ve explored everything but the easternmost tip of Mirkwood.  Most of the forest is dark, dangerous, and dreadful.  By daylight, you may find a few rare areas of natural beauty which may remind you that this was once Greenwood the Great.  In other words, I think Turbine did an excellent job on the atmosphere.

Waterfalls are always nice. Even creepy ones.

Waterfalls are always nice. Even creepy ones.

Regarding the new legendary item system – I see no major reason to upgrade your “secondary” items (Champion runes, Captain badges, Guardian belts, etc.) if you have legacies that you really like.  Newer ones will have a higher primary legacy available (for instance, Champion runes increase your incoming healing), but it is still a gamble whether the other legacies will be worthwhile.  Weapons are a different matter…

As I levelled up, I was noticing a significant trend in my DPS not keeping pace with the health of the mobs that I was now fighting.  I was unwilling to stop using my old reforged 2nd age weapon, because it still had a +7.5% damage legacy.  However, the level 65 third-age weapon had about 12% more DPS, so I made the plunge.  I made a regular-sized sword for myself, and a two-handed third age sword for a Guardian friend of mine.  We were both pleasantly surprised by the legacies, and I have to say that I have not forged a level 65 weapon yet that did not have at least one redeeming legacy – most had at least two good ones to start.  So, legendary items may not be as much of an issue as I first thought they would be.  That’s a good thing.

Not bad for a starter weapon.

Not bad for a starter weapon.

So, those are some of the sights, and some of my experiences with the new legendary system.  Mirkwood continues to be an interesting place to explore, and I really can’t ask for more than that.

Reminds me of New Jersey...

Reminds me of New Jersey...

Dropping the Eaves

Posted in LotRO, Siege of Mirkwood with tags , on December 11, 2009 by koljarn

Last night, I made my initial foray into Mirkwood proper.  Sort of.

Let me elaborate.  Mirkwood is gated in the same way that Moria is.  You have a small zone (the Eaves of Mirkwood) where you must complete an introductory chapter before proceeding.  It’s not as bad as it sounds.  The introduction gets you up to speed on the goings-on and important events that have led up to the Elven invasion of Southern Mirkwood.

I have to note a few things about the regular questing and open PvE in the leve 61+ bracket as a Champion.  First, the fights are punishing.  No, the mobs are not tougher, but there are many overlapping paths that the mobs takes.  You’re going to get adds – maybe two or three, and not all at once.  The mobs show up sequentially, which is the worst possible way for a Champion to fight.  These long series of fights will sap your morale and/or power, and you may end up falling back.  A bruised ego costs less to repair than a set of teal level 60 armor – do not be afraid to hit and run.  Also, the respawn rate is insanely high.  I had some mobs respawning next to me in under 15 seconds after I dealt with them the first time.  Second, at least half of the mobs you will face are ranged mobs which like to run away.  This is extremely annoying for an AoE class like the Champion.  You will not be able to gather three mobs up and hack them apart.  You will have to fight three or four at a time in groups of one or two while the others run away.  Third, be aware of the goblin scouts – they are stealth mobs who have the ability to reflect damage onto their attackers.  You may end up hitting yourself for more than the orcs and goblins are hitting you.

Since the fights are so drawn out, I can understand why some Champions believe that power is a problem for the class. I’ve been considering trying a greatsword at level 65, but the drop in DPS is a real kick in the crotch.  In order to make up for the loss of DPS, you’d need to be using Flurry – which consumes an inordinate amount of power when used constantly, and thus you are out of power again.  You can use the Ardour stance instead of Fervor – that way Flurry becomes a combat-persistant ability.  However, you lose a full one-third of your power regeneration when you switch from Fervor to Ardour – not to mention the loss of the damage bonus.

No, while I still believe that you should tote around a two-handed weapon for grouping, I still subscribe to the dual-wield school of thought.  The weapons are quicker, you need less fervor to pull off maneuvers, and the damage is higher.  The problem is not with the weapon choice or the traits used, it’s with all of the ranged mobs that you face.  I’m sure that can be overcome by good old-fashioned line-of-sight manipulation (shoot a goblin and hide behind a tree until the idiot runs up to look for you).

Aside from my trip to Mirkwood, I also got to try out the Tuckborough skirmish.  It’s one of the longer scenarios, but it is also a rewarding one.  It’s probably my favorite among the lower-level skirmishes.  In any case, Burhhelm is well into level 64, and will most likely hit level 65 by doing scenarios over the weekend.  Until next week – good hunting.

Some Reactions to Today’s Patch Notes

Posted in LotRO, Siege of Mirkwood with tags , on December 10, 2009 by koljarn

A small to moderate patch was installed this morning.  Most of it means little to me, because I have explored Mirkwood proper so very little.  However…

•Skirmish:

 Trouble in Tuckborough is now available!

Another skirmish available?  Awesome.  I can’t wait to try it.

•Skirmish Soldier Cosmetic traits should now display as intended.

Well, this isn’t a game-breaker, but I did notice it.  Fixing this is a good thing.

•The default appearances of Soldiers without cosmetic traits have been tweaked slightly. They will now be envious of their finely attired, cosmetically enhanced peers.

Heh.  If you play a Captain at all, you’ll remember the first herald that you start out with looks like someone wearing some old clothes they bought from the Gap circa 1980.  It makes me smirk every time I see someone using them.  So, apparently your soldiers will come from the same talent pool, which explains their foolish and sometimes berserk behavior.

Items

Loot

•Removed the Sprig of Woolly Mint from the Dol Guldur 6-man & 12-man hard-mode chests.

Like I said, I haven’t really explored the new content that much, but I can only imagine the frustration you’d feel if you slogged through an instance, killed a boss mob after a long fight, and got a sprig of mint for your troubles.  I imagine that this is a good fix.

I saw no mention of Rune Keeper fixes, though.  A friend of mine plays a Rune Keeper, and she told me about an annoying skirmish bug with the class.  When she summons her soldier, her healing runestone despawns.  When she summons her healing runestone, then her soldier despawns.  I hope they get around to fixing that one.