So I wanted to toss out some ideas regarding equipment and weapon choices as you level. I’m probably most familiar with the higher end stuff, but will try to keep things somewhat generic to apply to everyone. I will walk through my process and how I leveled/equiped my warden but certainly there are other builds and ideas.
From the start, I focused on trying to maximize as many stats as possible but focusing on In-combat Power Regen (ICPR) as much as I could as I knew from beta that this toon was pretty power hungry. So I focused on stats probably in this order:
- Vit – morale and resists
- Morale – more the better
- ICPR – running out of power is bad, our Dark before Dawn gambit helps when soloing but can be real tricky when grouping
- Might – helps with block and melee damage
- Agi – avoidance and ranged damage (mine probably is a bit high)
- Fate – bumps ICPR and in-combat morale regen (ICMR) as well as tactical crits (DoTs, threat can crit, and HoTs)
- Will – power boost and out-of combat regen (helpful if you use our run-buff)
- Power – pretty self-explanatory
- -Melee Vulnerability – pretty much I believe this only shows on shields and relics, so I didn’t put this too high except on those specific items
I didn’t really pay much attention to +avoidance items as with our gambits we can cap pretty easily. If a good item had those it was just a bonus for me.
My warden for me was my 4th toon so I was able to help her out some with crafting. I was able to keep her leveled quite a bit higher in crafting then level so I could make my own equipment pretty easily. I also had some kin-mates making me weapons so was able to keep this toon pretty well equiped. It isn’t required, but it does make things easier – for instance I could easily do orange and even red quests without trouble. Even some fellowship quests were solo-able and I’m sure part of it was due to having good equipment all along. So if you have friends and/or kinnies it certainly helps to have them craft stuff for you as you level. My warden is an explorer so I could gather whatever mats people needed to craft me what I wanted.
Another path I chose was to max out all my toons reputation with the appropriate crafting guilds – this allowed me to auto-crit on the one-shot recipes. This comes in very handy as you’re leveling as you’ll send a little extra coin and mats, but you won’t need to find extra of the recipes and shards.
Now if you’re not a crafter, there are a couple other options as well. There’s always the Auction House, but honestly prices can get pretty high for the crit items – so unless your warden is your alt that could be rough. The other option is just using quest items – which if you follow all the major quest lines (not even including the epic line) there’s some really good item rewards. There’s a great set from Tal Bruinen in your late 30s, and another nice set from Angmar in your mid 40s. Forochel has some good rewards as does Eregion so they can help out. I mention the quest rewards as for this toon I ended up hitting all the zones and doing just about all the quests in there as I was focusing on deeds (another topic) so there actually was a couple benefits from doing those quests.
There are 2 other sets that some people have and they are from the level 50 raids (that don’t get too much traffic sadly) Helegrod and the Rift. I ran those quite a bit on my other toons when 50 was the cap, but sadly my warden has not done either of them. They were fun instances, but not many run them as they’re busy doing the other raids/instances.
So I pretty much followed that path until I hit Moria. Once you get around your mid 50s, that’s when you start thinking about doing the radiance instances. I’m not going to debate the system or go into much detail as there’s TONs of discussion about radiance on the LOTRO forums. However, if you have a specific question feel free and I’ll try to answer it. There are some good craftable one-shots that you can get at 58 and the new Lothlorien sets at 60 that are pretty good, but for most the radiance sets are the best gear. I’ve looked at mixing and matching the sets some, but I will admit I haven’t fully run the numbers to see if there’s an “Optimal” set. There are 4 sets that come from these instances (6 item teal set, 6 item purple set, and 2 3 item purple sets), the 6 item sets come from specific instances (this will change with the new Mirkwood Expansion) and the 3 item sets I believe are from random instance chests. So, each instance will drop a coin for the purple set piece and the teal set – plus possibly some of the 3 item sets as well. The instance break out as follows:
- Grand Stairs – boots
- Fil Gashan – gloves
- Skumfill – legs
- Chest – Forges
- 16th Hall – shoulder (not the set, but +10 radiance)
- Dark Delvings – helm(not the set, but +10 radiance)
- Watcher – drops the teal set helm and/or shoulders
- Turtle – random rad pieces will drop
Once you have 50 radiance you can have enough radiance (+ destiny hope) to run that watcher raid, and 70 radiance is the amount required for Dar Narburg. You can also get +15 radiance pieces from the new instances the Waterworks, Hall of Mirrors, and Halls of Crafting which you can use in place of other pieces to get to your appropriate radiance target.
The other main equipment choices come down to jewelry. I did follow the above logic when picking stats but you certainly have lots more options as you level with jewelry. Also with Book 8 there was some new Lothlorien jewelry that was released which most feel is some of the best pieces in the game so I currently have a mix of that and instance drops on my warden. For jewelry I usually inspect people when I’m grouped or that are in my kinship to see what all is around and then search either the Lorebook or the forums to see where they drop. A lot of folks are very high on the Diamond Stud earing (from Grand Stairs), the Inciduous cuff (from Grand Stairs), and the amber ring (from Forgotten Treasury) but they’re all very rare drops. If you want to farm the instance, have at it – but I chose not too and am using the Lothlorien crafted items (which are pretty darn close if not better) instead.
When it comes to weapons for the most part, once you hit Moria you’ll be using legendary items for your main hand and javelin. There are quite a few threads on the forums talking about legacies and such so I’ll save that for a later post (this is already getting long). So for your main hand, certainly as you level just pick the best legendary you can find and go with that. I usually prefer spears (they look cool and have nice procs) for soloing and clubs (slow attack speed proc) for tanking. However, there currently is a bug in the spear animation that actually makes it a pretty crappy DPS item, so if you’re looking for raw DPS most would agree that an axe is the best bet. hopefully the combat fixes with Mirkwood will solve this bug and allow us to pick whatever proc/look we want and not be driven towards a single option. I currently have a really nice First Age spear, a 2nd age club, a second age axe that I’m leveling, and a 2nd age javelin. Pictures of them at the bottom of the post.
The other important items I’ll mention are consumables – mainly food and potions. I have an Supreme Master cook and farmer so I make all my own food for my toons, but I highly suggest either finding someone or grinding it out. They’re pretty easy to do (cook just requires money, while farming just takes time) but the benefits are huge. I usually run with some +vit food, +resist food, and the morale/power regen foods up for all boss fights. As for potions, having a scholar friend is handy here – but one thing I’ve done within Moria is run the daily “Mirror quests” as the rewards for those are potions. So if you get in the habit of doing them somewhat frequently you can build up a pretty nice stash of potions.
And finally, the last item I’ll mention is the carving. It is a Warden class item that’s made by woodworkers that allow for a combination of bonuses. They all have 2 bonuses with one being a gambit cost reduction (either fist, shield, or spear) and the other being a choice of (+light damage, -incoming tactical damage, or -incoming melee damage). To me, the -incoming damage is a no-brainer and then I have one of each gambit line that I swap around depending on what I’m doing the most of.
As for shields, I’ll table them as I’ll post screenies of them (I think I have most of the end-game ones) such that you can see not only the stats but what they look like equiped.