Archive for the Skirmishes Category

Trecentesimus (That’s 300, in Latin)

Posted in Isengard, LotRO, Online Gaming, Skirmishes on December 13, 2011 by koljarn

My 300th post.  I was torn between using a edjamakated and fancified title or using a 300-related movie reference (Madness?  This!  Is! WordPress!). Obviously, I chose the former.

Fortunately, there is a little substance to this one as well.  Update 5 hit the servers, and it has brought the half-baked instance finder, new instances, and a new barter currency system with it. I tend to skirmish a great deal – when you get an hour here or there on a weeknight, that’s the best you can do – so I’ll pay the most attention to how the barter changes affected the skirmish vendors.

Last night started with an amusing diversion (amusing if you like tech issues).  I was updating the LotRO client, when all of a sudden it errored out and my second hard drive vanished.  Nifty trick, eh? Turned out that it wasn’t a software problem – the SATA cable had a bad connection.  Irritating, since the sables are stretched pretty tightly in my case.   Just to be on the safe side, I ordered some new (longer) cables.  They’re pretty cheap. Anyway, after getting the hard drive operational again, I went back to LotRO.

Update 5 applied pretty quickly, and I logged in to find a “treasure hunt” event underway. It appears that it was linked to the lottery or something along those lines, which means I won’t get getting involved. Since Turbine has had so many security issues, I just don’t trust their LotRO community site.  I know people whose accounts have been hacked multiple times, and they’ve never found any security issues on their home systems – they did, however, log in to the community site.  Maybe I’m just paranoid, but a little paranoia is good for you. Anyway, if you play the LotRO lottery, then you might be interested.

I had a limited amount of time last night, but I managed to do two of the repeatable quests in Galtrev, looked around the new Isengard instance hub, and checked out the skirmish camp. The Galtrev repeatables remain the same, except for the “Defence of Galtrev” quest. That one offers some new titles for legendary items.  I’m not sure about how desirable they are, but it bears looking into. The Isengard instance hub appears to be accessible by a hidden entrance near Quickbeam’s grove.  You’ll get a free port to the hub the first time via a quest. Not much to see, there; class-specific NPCs, standard NPC merchants, and the barter merchant for the Isengard raid.

Which brings us to my focus – the skirmish merchants.  You will find that all of your campaign marks and First through Fourth marks have been converted to the new standardized currency – plain old “Marks.” Superior Fourth marks may be converted to either Medallions or Seals at your discretion right now.

It may be worth your time to take the Medallions, but I chose Seals. If you didn’t buy your armor before Update 5 went live, you’ll find that you need to do a lot more work to get it – a Superior Fourth mark only nets you two Seals, and armor costs over 150 seals. I suppose Turbine didn’t want people stockpiling the old currency and grabbing a handful of new gear.  If you’ve been unlucky enough to not get any cracked sigils, you can get them from the Crafting merchant in the skirmish camps.  However, I found them to be needlessly expensive. Still, if you have more  Marks than you can spend on other things, you may want to buy sigils.

Lastly, Scrolls of Greater Empowerment and Greater Scrolls of Delving are available.

These, I like.  They will cost you some Marks and Medallions (though you can spend Seals, but I think that’s a waste). Medallions are pretty easily found, so you will be able to rank up the tier on your level 75 legendary items with a little effort. More worthwhile than the sigils, in my opinion.

Ugly Finish and Uglier Weekend

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

Burhhelm finally has four pieces of the Draigoch armor set. That’s likely to be about as much as he ever gets – there are Draigoch raids all the time on Vilya, but they only have openings for Captains and Burglars.  Speaking of which, why haven’t developers learned that requiring a certain class to complete an encounter is a bad idea? Other games have done it, and it become an exercise in irritation – I remember a WoW encounter that required a mage, and I (playing a mage) got so sick of it that I refused to keep going there (Gruul’s Lair mage tanking).  Thus, other people were unable to do what they wanted simply because one player got burned out on a single encounter. Bad design.

Anyway, armor objective achieved.  I had to go on a solo skirmish marathon (about 5 hours) in order to get enough marks to upgrade the final three marks – all the raid skirmishes being run were one of the five or so that I had done on Thursday.  Needless to say, I got tired of skirmishing.

The LotRO portion of my weekend had to be cut short, though.  One of the friends with whom I frequently play the game got hacked (his account, not him personally).  We have some thoughts about why (more on this later), but we have nothing concrete.  This happened fairly early on Saturday, so Turbine ignored him over the rest of the weekend. Not exactly the best customer service – it makes me wonder why a large company like Turbine doesn’t at least run a call center so people can open tickets with them via phone.  You can open a ticket through their website, but you’re never sure that the case will even be looked at – electronic communication is sketchy on feedback.

And on that note, this brings me to my suspicions on how my friend’s account got hacked. Since the Turbine forums were compromised a few weeks ago, I changed my password to a 16 character melange of partial words, gibberish, numbers, and special characters. I had been unable to log in to the forum pages to enter the lotteries for any of my characters since that time, so I opened a trouble ticket with Turbine.  They finally got back to me with their solution – change my password to a shorter one with no special characters.  After I stopped laughing, I decided that I could live without lotteries. If the forum site requires a short, non-complex password, then your password can be brute-forced. My friend and I both think that this is exactly what happened, since he did use a shorter password.  He too is willing to forgo lotteries in favor of a secure password, now.

Anyway, since my friend was unable to play LotRO, I fired up Minecraft and that’s how I spent the weekend.  Minecraft is up to version 1.0 full release – no longer beta – and it’s a fine way to pass time.  I don’t know if I could play it for an extended period of time, but it made a nice distraction.  It’s no threat to MMOs, though. Just something different.

Fervant Fervour User

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

Just for grins, I have respecced both my class traits and my weapon legacies to a Fervour-heavy build (with a few Ardour legacies remaining, just in case).

Red Traits:
Vicious Strikes
Deadly Strikes
Flurry of Blows

Yellow Traits:
Swift to Anger
Winds of the Storm
Stalwart Blade

Very much like my pre-ROI build; single target damage with a touch of AoE. I loved the Ardour build, but too many quests and skirmish events require you to take out a single tough enemy. The Ardour build is probably better for grouping, though, as I rarely grabbed agro.

My weapon legacies were similarly adjusted:
Major weapon:
+ Wild Attack damage
+ Remorseless strikes damage
+ Crit magnitude
Minor weapon:
– Fear Nothing Cooldown
+ Sudden Defence Duration
+ Horn Damage

The level 65 rune I use is still better than the level 75 ones available. I adjusted it to:
Major class item:
-% Blades Power cost
-% Power Cost for Swift Strike
– Ardour/Glory Pip Interval
Minor class item:
-% Strikes Power cost
+ Ardour/Glory in-Combat Power Regen
– Heroics cooldown

Skirmishing with this Fervour build seems to work at least as well as the Ardour one. The fact that I’m still decked out in level 65 armor is an issue, but that will change over time. While I may miss dishing out the AoE spam, there’s something to be said for devastating a mob with a combined 3k+ Remorseless Strike.



They Like Me! They Really Like Me!

Posted in Isengard, LotRO, Online Gaming, Skirmishes on October 17, 2011 by koljarn

Finally, Burhhelm has maxxed his reputation with the Riders of Theodred. With the Pit of Iron hopelessly bugged at the moment (you fall through the floors to your death), you have to do tasks and daily repeatable quests in Isengard in order to fill out the last level of reputation with the Riders. I’ll pull no punches with this statement: these quests suck.

Specifically, finding the mobs that you need to kill sucks.  Additionally, some of these mobs have extremely healthy morale totals and throw extremely unhealthy debuffs on you – not a big deal, if you do these quests with at least one other person (I duo’d these with a friend who plays a Guardian), but doing these solo will be slow going.  My hints for dealing with these issues: first, keep yourself fully stocked with wound (red) potions at all times. Second, you need to sweep entire ares of all mobs (except for the wandering war trolls) and return in a minute or two to check out the respawn. That’s the way that we forced the annoying Apprentices of Sauruman to appear.  Cherry-picking individual Apprentices will get you one or two kills, but clearing an area of all mobs is the best way to get more. Oh, and I mentioned the war trolls already – stay off of the roads, and look both ways before crossing them.  Seriously.  Unless you’re in a large group, these trolls will flatten you.

Don’t forget to turn in the tasks for scabbards and shields in Forthbrond – the orcs you kill will drop heaps of these.  The extra reputation you earn through tasks will mean less hunting for Apprentices.

I didn’t mind the reputation quests in Enedwaith – there were lots of them, allowing you to vary your routine and choose what quests you enjoyed the most. There are only four repeatable quests in Isengard.  You’ll end up doing the same four again and again, and it gets to be taxing. This seems to be the major flaw in the Rise of Isengard expansion – the endgame is nothing but repetition. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to repeat the same skirmishes again and again in order to collect Superior Fourth Marks. Did I mention that the expansion involved a great deal of repetition?

Werewolves, Skirmishes, and Armor

Posted in Background Noise, LotRO, Online Gaming, Skirmishes with tags , , , on September 19, 2010 by koljarn

I’m going to start this post with something non-gaming related.  Relax, I’ll post some LotRO stuff in a little while.  I’ve noted in the past that I enjoy the occasional bad movie.  Not boring ones – let me be clear on that.  Bad movies can still be entertaining (in a campy sort of way), boring movies are an excuse to do something else.  One thing that went hand-in-hand with bad movies used to be the Horror Host.  Now an endangered species, Horror Hosts used to stampede across the wilds of late-night television on Fridays and Saturdays.

Well, I came across a live one.  If you’re lucky enough to have access to a cable network called the Retro Television Network, then you may already know about Wolfman Mac.  His show is a little more family-friendly than some horror hosts, but it has all of the classic earmarks.  Low budget?  Check.  Bad jokes and sketches?  Check.  Actors that look like your next-door neighbors?  Check.  Cheap movies?  Check.  Enough humor to liven up the dull parts of said movies?  Check.  Last night’s show featured the original House on Haunted Hill.  The movie is alow-budget classic, and Wolfman Mac made it even more entertaining.  Great show – I’m going to have to get a DVR so I don’t miss any episodes in the future.  Oh, and the show has a blog right here.

Anyway… LotRO.  Yes, gaming, I remember.

As I stated in my last post, it is just not possible to upgrade your gear to anything decent by crafting alone any longer.  You have to churn through instances – level 60+ ones.  One of the nice things that Turbine featured in this last mini-expansion is the ability to sign up for the classic instances from anywhere in the game world and the ability to set the level of the instance.  These instances drop tokens which, combined with skirmish marks, can be used to purchase some jewellery (which is okay, but not great), decent weapons (if you use an offhand, it may be useful to you), and two armor sets.

There is also a chance (a slim one) that a Symbol of Celebrimbor may drop off of the final boss in an instance, but I would rather focus on the armor sets.  There are two major skirmish armor sets available at level 65 – an Annuminas set, and a Helegrod set.  The Helegrod set is quite nice – the Champion set bonus is a bit underwhelming, but the stats are significantly higher than the Annuminas set on a piece-by-piece basis.  It also lacks Radiance, which is not that important if you’re not a raider.  The Annuminas set has some nice set bonuses as well as a higher armor value.  Frankly, I prefer the Annuminas set, despite the unimportant Radiance bonuses that it features.

Why would a Champion prefer the Annuminas set?  Well, last night I got a nap in so that I could stay up late and hit some of the updated instances with some of my Kin.  Although we had a capable Warden to do the tanking, I had to off-tank frequently.  It is just the way the encounters are designed.  If I’m going to be a punching bag, you can be sure that I want to have a thick skin, and that is what the Annuminas set offers me.  The set also offers a good measure of might and vitality – I will have to make up for other stats by changing what rings and other items that I use.  As for how quickly you can get the set, we did three instances last night, and we got enough special marks to get one piece of armor.

So, how do you gear up at 65?  Keep skirmishing (you need a bit more than 1k skirmish marks for each armor piece), keep hitting instances for daily quests (for the special marks), and hope that a Symbol of Celebrimbor drops from instance bosses.  It will wear you down, so do not grind away at it or it will feel like work.  A few instances each week will be plenty to keep you slowly upgrading while still enjoying the game.  If it’s not fun, do something else.  Otherwise, this sort of grind will burn you out.

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.


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.

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.

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.

The Skirmish System: I Approve

Posted in LotRO, Siege of Mirkwood, Skirmishes with tags , , on December 8, 2009 by koljarn

Yes, the skirmish feature from The Siege of Mirkwood definitely has Burhhelm’s seal of approval.

Hold the line!

Burhhelm shows Elrohir how it's done.

Even with my hardware issues over the weekend, I was able to undertake many skirmishes with only minor issues.  There were a few minor bugs, but nothing that was a show-stopper (a few misspellings and a pathing issue).  I’ll break down my experience into a few categories:

The Good

Skirmishing has a bunch of very positive attributes going for it.  First, it’s quick.  My average skirmish lasts about 15 minutes, give or take a minute.  You can also initiate a skirmish from anywhere in the game.  So, if you have some time to kill, but you don’t want to get too involved in anything, you can play a few skirmishes.  You can also set the level of difficulty in the skirmish.  This is great – you can tailor the skirmish to skills of yourself and your character.  Heck, you can set the level to the minimum if you just want to learn how the skirmish scenario works.  Each scenario also has a daily quest which will afford you a bit more experience for completing it once each day.  Oh, and you get to summon a soldier to accompany you on the scenarios.  You can train this soldier in a role which you need, but do not have.  For instance, Burhhelm has a healer (Herbalist) running along after him and patching him up.  It’s quite nice, since it lets you solo very effectively.

The Bad

There are some downsides.  For instance, you can turn in the skirmish marks which you earn (which are essentially a form of currency) for some gear.  Armor, weapons, that sort of thing.  Unfortunately, this gear is quite sub-par.  The level 65 stuff is inferior to the crafted level 60 stuff.  I wouldn’t bother with it.  Also, some instances need to be unlocked by doing the epic quest, which can be a chore.  Burhhelm still hasn’t completed Volume I, because it is so difficult to find a group for it.  You also have very little control over your soldier companion, and that leads to them standing in bad places, pulling mobs, or worse, charging off after mobs (soldiers have an immense agro radius).  Overall, those are minor issues.

The Ugly

Good grief, it’s “Guardsman,” not “Guradsman.”  Yes, it’s minor, but it makes me squirm when I read it.  Also, not all outfits and attributes which you buy and equip on your soldier seem to work.  Yeah, it’s relatively unimportant, but that’s why it’s under this category.

There are some other things which no one could tell me about training a soldier, and I had to figure most of them out on my own.  First, your soldier will start off as a warrior – it’s part of the introductory skirmish quest line to train a warrior.  If you want to train them as something else, you need to visit the Skirmish Trainer an uncheck the box which hides all untrained roles.  Also, I mentioned Skirmish Marks above.  Other types of marks will also drop.  Some are level-dependant.  Some are scenario-dependant.  The First, Second, and Third marks are used to buy new skills for your soldier from the Skirmish Captain.  If you have all of the skills you need, you can turn in these marks for a handful of regular Skirmish Marks from the Curiosities vendor.  Also, the Guardsman, Footman, and Esquire marks can be turned in to the Curiosities vendor for a nice fistful of marks.  Finally, the campaign marks seem to be used for cosmetic purposes (at least for your soldier).

Oh, and while you can get gear, crafting items, reputation items, and other drops by purchasing them with Skirmish Marks, I found them all to be prohibitively costly.  It takes much less time to just go out and get these things the old-fashioned way.