Monthly Archives: January 2010

Finally, Return to Ostagar


So the PC and XBox versions of Bioware’s Dragon Age Origins first post launch downloadable content have been released and are available to play after quite a LONG delay.  No word on the PS3 version though.  I have no clue what happened, and really don’t care as it is behind all of us.  I downloaded it last night, and ended up playing through it on my dual-wielding warrior.  Granted, she is level 15 and working through the dwarf area before heading to the Landsmeet so my party is already pretty well decked out.

There’s lots of the information on the DLC already out there, but I’ll try not to spoil too much but you’ll notice the note before my last paragraph where the potential spoilers are.  The content itself isn’t all that long but it was enjoyable to wrap up all the loose ends.  Lots of good dialog and flashbacks mixed  in with the various battles.  I felt the duration and pacing felt about right – as it is about as long as Warden’s keep, possibly a bit shorter.  Some good teasers and hints for what’s coming up in the expansion, so that was a pleasant surprise.  A couple of potentially tricky fights, but I’m still on the medium difficulty on my 3rd play-through, so nothing terribly difficult.  For me, I enjoyed it and it was worth the$5.  Will I be getting more DLC for DA:O?  I’m not sure – but I will be definitely getting the expansion.

(spoilers follow)

Now for a bit of the down-side (and spoiler info) as there a couple of things I didn’t like.  First off, all the items obtained are Tier 5 (best is Tier 7) and the armor only helps from a stamina perspective and coolness factor.  I figured if Alister’s going to be king he should look the part, so I’m sacrificing a bit of his survivability for looks ;).  But I find it very weird that the king isn’t wearing better armor or that I have a number of weapons better then Duncaan’s swords.  It just struck me as weird that for content geared at level 13/14 ish (just going of the Strength requirement for the armor) that it is so much worse then Wade’s Dragon Plate and the Juggernaut set.  But I think the most disappointing part was they didn’t have anything in there regarding Duncaan as I we should’ve at least been able to bury him.

Anyway, I’m glad I played it and now I’ll finish off this play-through and get ready for Awakenings.

My Volume 3 omission


I knew I forgot something 😦  But as stated on Orion’s blog and teased at in his interview with LOTRO Cast Episode 20 it appears that the Volume 1 revamp has been completed and should also be available for Volume 3 release.  Now granted, there’s no confirmation of when it will be released, but Volume 3 seems to make sense.

So, now that I remember that piece of good news I’m much more positive on the next update.  Being able to finish Volume 1 off on all my toons will be a HUGE relief and something that has really bothered me but is SUCH a pain to get done.

LOTRO Volume 3 – Oath of the Rangers


So yes, I’m a little late on this one but it has been a long week for me.  Turbine released the first bit of news on the upcoming new content that continues the epic story.  Certainly there’s more info coming but it appears that one of my early predictions is already wrong as it doesn’t look like there’s any new area to explore.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some good things in the update but I’m a little worried that this seems a bit light.

By far, the most exciting thing is the Rift (Nurz Ghashu) skirmish that is the first attempt to revive older group/raid content.  I’m not only looking forward to getting back in there – but it does sound like an interesting story line as you’re called to help one of the rangers and his daughter from the depths and evils of the area.  Although I do find this to be a very similar storyline to Goldir and Amarthiel but we shall see how it plays out.  Since they’re doing this via the skirmish system, it does bring a faint glimmer of hope that we may see similar ideas (and raids) in places like Fornost, Garth Agarwen, and Helegrod.

The rest of the epic story line is centered around gathering up the scattered rangers and marshalling them South the help defend against the growing threat.  I’m curious about the story, but this does smack of the epilogue to Volume 2 Book 9 that sent us all over the land doing various small tasks.  Thank god I’m a warden, but these “travel the world” quests do get a little old.  Hopefully it is more then just talking quests as the war should be spread pretty far and deep across Middle-Earth by now that there should be some good opportunities for battles and/or skirmishes.

In addition to the Rift skirmish, and the epic story there are a few other items we’re teased with, starting with lots of new love for crafting!

  • New level 65 crafting recipes and updates to crafting abilities
  • Updated icons and stats for Jeweler recipes
  • New recipes and updates for Cooks!
  • New class items for Weaponsmiths and Woodworkers
  • New crop recipes for Artisian, Master, and Superior Farmers

I’m happy they’re doing something with farming and cooking, as it really only seems like there’s a couple worthwhile recipes/ingredients and the rest is for cosmetic purposes.

Also, a new set of four skirmishes that appear to be re-formated versions of the Dol Goldur existing skirmishes are opened up with a raid option.  I’m really not sure how this will work as the rewards will have to be tweaked quite a bit.  Meaning I”m not sure I really want to raid for skirmish marks – unless they expand on that system.  But it will be interesting to see, and might be a good way for people to get used to raiding.  The four skirmishes are:

  • Defeating a powerful Olog-Hai at the Necromancer’s gate
  • Disrupt the plans of “creatures of nightmare” who are setting a deadly trap before the Gate of the Ringwraith’s Lair
  • Defend Thangulhad from capture leveraging the catapults and defenses in place
  • Free captured elves from the dungeons of Dannenglor

So we’ll see what other information comes out as we get closer to launch but for now there is some good stuff but it seems a little light on content and more focused on upgrades, which for all we know could’ve slipped out of the Siege of Mirkwood expansion.  And certainly I’m a little worried that we’re not getting any new land-mass as there’s still a pretty big gap between Mirkwood and Rohan (assuming that’s the next large area).  In addition, we still haven’t seen much with regards to our characters progression – hopefully they’re just saving that for the upcoming dev diaries!

Here’s the link to the full notes on the start of Volume 3 – Oath of the rangers,and I’m sure there are lots of posts and such on the forums and other bloggers talking about this as well.

I have some other posts coming out this afternoon, but wanted to get my Volume 3 thoughts out before too much time passed.

Games and Politics


So a couple of not necessarily LOTRO related news items that I thought I’d pass on and talk about and they both got me thinking.

The first comes from a couple of places, the podcast Buzz out Loud over on CNet (episode 1148) talking about the South Korean courts legalizing the sale of in-games items for real world currency.  Two articles were linked in the show notes Slashdot.org talks more about making online currency equal to real-world currency, while the article on boingboing.net talks more about the selling of items.  The folks over at LOTRO Reporter also brought this up last week as well and were pretty opposed to the concept.  One of their points was that folks using macros/bots would be banned from this service – which would be very hard to police and require a huge investment from the game companies.  I realize that the Korean market is quite different from the US markets, but this does raise some interesting points.  One of the biggest issues hitting most games is the illegal selling of gold, which fosters account hacking to obtain more gold to sell.  With selling of in-game currency  being legal, will that limit the amount of the illegal activities and make our accounts safer?  And since the currency is the same, in-game account theft would be a criminal offense and punished the same way – which would give the game companies more options to combat this problem.  Would game companies expand on their virtual stores and allow out-right buying/selling of in-game gold, thus providing another revenue stream?  Would this foster not only an in-game economy but almost a stock market for the real-world?  With this concept in place, you really could make a living playing games – which while initially I think would be cool, it would most certainly take the fun out of it.  The other point the buzz-crew brings up is that if in-game items hold value – that’s essentially income, or worth that you have and as such should you be taxed on that value?  Certainly selling the items would be subject to income tax, but even earned items could be seen in a similar fashion as your house and subject to a property tax.  That would be a bit harsh, but it would be interesting walking into a bank and saying “no, I don’t have any collateral but I have a level 65 Warden with full raid gear” and qualifying for a loan 😉

Now I highly doubt these ideas will make their way to western MMOs considering most MMO companies state numerous times that everything pertaining to your account is their property and you’re just allowed to enjoy them.  You don’t own your characters, their items, their accomplishments, all of that is property of Turbine, Blizzard, EA, etc.  With that mentality, really the only option they allow for using real-world money in game is for cosmetic items – which is where I think is the only acceptable use.  I know Sony has tried some of these ideas before on some of their servers, but I don’t think they went over all that well 🙂  I will be curious to see how this plays out as this argument seems somewhat analogous to the legalizing drugs argument here in the US.  I’m just happy it is happening somewhere else such that I can watch without being affected 🙂

The other interesting topic I came across was how net neutrality could affect gamers. Net neutrality is a huge hot topic these days for all the ISPs, search engines, phone companies, or pretty much everyone with a foot in the internet.  The idea behind it is folks are trying to argue that access and visibility on the internet needs to be equal for everyone no matter how or through what service they access it.  On one side of this argument, having a level playing field on the net is a good thing and would make sure we all get similar service.  It would guarantee that one ISP couldn’t block video games just because they want to or because it felt the traffic impinged on other users.  However, the flip side is that games really don’t take up that much bandwidth compared to streaming video and the likelihood that games would be targeted is incredibly slim.  And with that knowledge, do we really want the government stepping in to run all these services?  I mean if ISP X decided that they’d block all video games, most people have a choice of providers and they could switch to ISP Y.  In our (I’m talking US here) capitalistic environment, ISPs should be striving to provide the best service in hopes of not only staying in business but expanding to make more money.  They should want to be able to provide features and services that make them stand out, not restrict access such that they can make more money.  However, sadly it does appear that more and more companies are looking to nickel and dime us and few large companies are going out of their way to service their customers.

I’d much rather prefer they spend the time and energy on getting higher speeds and more access to high-speed such that we here in the US could be more on par with other countries throughout the world.  The fact that many countries have average speeds 5-6 times higher than the US is a little sad 🙂  This enhancement would also bring new players to the market and allow for more competition, which is always a good thing.

More LOTRO focused stuff coming up later today, but this week may be a bit slow for me as work promises to be a tad crazy.

No more hounding fear


I saw this on the forums and had to share – this is probably one of the most annoying and un-curable effects mobs can place on you in LOTRO.  The slow, the duration, the lack of cures, everything about it just plain sucks.  And thankfully the devs have listened to us and it is being removed from the game.  Check out the post and the full thread of much rejoicing.

A couple more Sword Hall videos


So I uploaded a couple more videos today to share.  Both feature the Sword Halls 3-man instance in Mirkwood.

The first one is me soloing the first boss on my warden.  Pretty tricky and did take me a couple runs to get it down 🙂  I do switch out some gear as the additional negation and procs from the mirkwood crafted set really helped out.  Main thing is to follow the adage “stay out of the fire” 😉  I mainly did it just as proof that I could, I’m not sure it makes sense to really farm this as its much quicker and easier to do it as a group.  Although if I get bored, farming it for the first chest might not be a bad return for relics, runes, and the barter coin.

The second video is a run we did last night doing challenge mode or what used to be called hard mode.  Basically for this instance, challenge mode is all 3 bosses at once.  Pretty fun fight and very taxing on the healer.  I was actually pleasantly surprised on this one as this was a PUG – but we just walked in and went to it 🙂  I think the group makeup did help as we had great DPS from the hunter and the Rune-keeper’s heals are over time could  be kept up on both of us.

Post patch things I’ve noticed in Mirkwood


First off, apparently we’ve started a welcome back weekend that’s not only offering +5% experience bonus but also 100% discount to all stables!  That certainly will help me out as I work on my minstrel.  Also check out the full news post for all the details.

There’s also a new gold star repeatable quest available in the Mirkwood camp of Gathburz.  It isn’t a new quest, but the “Death from Below” quest is now repeatable such that there are I believe 3 repeatable quests per day I’ve found to farm the gold star emblems.  The nice part is that the drops required for the “Badges of Dishonour“ quest can be found quite easily in the “Death from Below” quest such that you can kill 2 birds with one stone.  The main usage for these items are the scroll of delving (+10 levels) and Beleriand damage scrolls in addition to the horse, port, cosmetic items, etc.

Also on the live boards, I couldn’t help laugh when reading this post from JWBarry on the Fords of Bruinen Skirmish.

Continuing with the armor comparisons I’ve done, Hakon continues to update his with not only shields but also non-legendary weapons.  Check out not only this post but also the thread in in general.

My Minstrel in Mirkwood


So as a break from my warden, I decided to get my Minstrel up to the level cap next.  It is quite a nice change of pace from the warden, although I’ve certainly realized the hard way that I am pretty darn squishy 😉  Every now and then I go a get a tad aggressive on my pulling and grab more then 3 and think I can handle it, which usually doesn’t end well.  Right now, I’m currently running a full warrior-skald build with the capstone and 2 from the Protector of Song line which seems to be working pretty well.  The ICMR buff from Battle-hymn and extended anthem duration means I can have that ICMR buff up pretty much constantly!  I don’t seem to be having many resist issues like when Moria first launched and I’m still seeing LOTS of crits.  It is quite fun to AoE 3 mobs and hit them all for over 2k 😉  which after playing a warden as much as I do, is a substantial difference.  However, when I don’t crit and a couple friends decide to join the fray – I’m praying my feign death is still up!  I’m about mid-way through Mirkwood and 62 so far, and hit Friend reputation so I can now craft those jewelry items.  I’m currently working through the lovely are of Dannenglor, which I think is probably my LEAST favorite part of Mirkwood – lots of mobs, lots of roamers, and pretty quick re-spawns make it a very unfriendly area 🙂  That and the quest drops don’t seem to be all that frequent so you’re stuck there for a while.  Not to mention the stupid elves can’t communicate with each other or realize how much crap actually is up there that they might want so I have to make at least 4 trips.

After looking at the Mirkwood crafted jewelry a bit more I’m less impressed then I initially was.  The stats are good, don’t get me wrong, but I think I’m only going to use the Sage’s Greenwood Necklace on my minstrel.  Everything else seems to be too big of a hit with not enough of an upside.

I’m also probably going to tweak my UI a bit after reading Harperelle’s post on that topic.  Mine isn’t all that organized as you’ll see from the snaps below.  Most of my oh *#@& skills are on the vertical bar near my character with the travel and seldom used ones on the left side.  The other 4 are somewhat organized, but not very well.  Luckily I can move things around pretty easily as all my healing, ballads, and war-speech skills are done via my controller, so I’ll just re-map them.

lotroclient 2010-01-20 14-46-37-98

lotroclient 2010-01-20 15-19-23-48

lotroclient 2010-01-20 15-27-38-70

I should have another post out a bit later with some other Mirkwood and patch related items, assuming I don’t get distracted in game.

Warden forums and threat bug confirmation


There’s been a bunch of good discussions as usual up on the warden live boards.  These include some good tactics ideas, gear discussions, and sadly a bug confirmation that hits us pretty hard.

I’ll start right off the bat with the bad news 🙂  It appears that Perceived threat is currently broken as mentioned on this thread, and confirmed by Graalx2.   However, the silver lining is it has been identified and targeted to be fixed – but just sadly not in today’s patch.  What this really means for us is that traiting down the fist line doesn’t help us at all currently.  So, I’m probably going to keep my current 5 Shield spec with the other 2 masteries until this bug has been fixed.

If you’re having problems keeping all your gambits straight, Medouneu from the forums put together a pretty good compilation of all the gambits.  It is a good one-page chart that shows all of them, their respective damages, buffs, threat components, etc in a visual fashion.   For those of you just starting off, I highly recommend it as it is a good visual way of explaining and comparing things.

As you hit level 50 as a warden you unlock the deeds to obtain the gambit masteries which allow you to add two builders to your gambits with one button.  These are incredibly handy as our real strength comes from our gambits, not the builders.  Rainyman on the live forums has posted a good breakdown of how they can be used most effectively.  Not only does he help with how they can be put together, but there’s also some good thoughts in there for opening pulls, DPS rotations, and agro retention.

Every warden who’s done any significant playing has run into our ability to consume power in massive quantities.  DcDistrubed947 on the live boards raises the question and there’s a ton of good info in this 4-page thread.  I’ll try to summarize as best as possible:

  • pace yourself and don’t go all out (this is hard for me at times)
  • use the appropriate carvings
    • they’ll reduce gambit cost by 10%, swap out depending on which line you’re using most
  • Stack ICPR gear, and boosting your will helps your power pool
  • user power pots 🙂 with all the barter/quest options in Moria and Mirkwood they’re really cheap.
  • don’t be afraid to auto-attack every now and then
  • Food is also handy, roll a cook or make friends with one 🙂

Similar to my comparisons of the various armor sets, there has been some activity regarding jewelry.  Hakon_Stormbrow posted on the live boards his spreadsheet listing out all the available jewelry.  It is a heck of a resource and a great way to compare items.  Also on the live boards in some discussion on those items from a warden’s perspective.  A lot of folks like the critted Turtle bracelets, but I much prefer the Aureate ones personally.  However, I do also have a SM jeweler with kindred Lorien and guild reputation so it is quite easy for me to get those.  I also am looking at a couple items from the Mirkwood reputation sets, but haven’t really checked them out as my minnie is still working on his reputation there.  Tanis posted his thoughts, and I really respect his input as he’s put in tons of effort to study and analyze things – if you remember he’s the one who’s done all the analysis on which virtues are best.

The last part here is all about threat and tanking.  I’ll start with the potential “troll” post which luckily started on the warden boards and got some serious responses (ok, there’s some de-railment, but nothing mean).  The topic of discussion is why all the talk about tanks being useless, essentially just let the DPS classes tank and out-heal everything.  This was certainly the preferred method in Moria as most groups were tanking with champs or even hunters!  But with Mirkwood the combination of meaner bosses and trickier instances have brought back the need for a tank.  Yes once you understand things and are running with the same group you can probably run content without a tank and do it faster.  However, my opinion is that while running with a tank may be a bit slower, it will be smoother and more repeatable as well as more flexible in regards to group members.

One of the trickier aspects of tanking is how to handle mobs that you can’t damage – like the brutes in Sammath Gul (SG).  Basically the way the pulls in there work is you’ll get a brute who you can’t damage for a while but still needs to be controlled as he does some nasty damage.  You then need to burn everything else down and before finishing off the brute.  The general idea is to use a combination of war-cry and threat leaches and those will pretty well stick the brutes to you.  Worst case a precise blow or two will guarantee it 😉

And finally, I’m adding a link to the Guard boards as there is some good general information in there with regards to general terms, threat stealing, and group dynamics.  It is from a guard’s perspective so the skills will be a bit different but a lot of the concepts remain the same.

Happy tanking, and enjoy the reads!

Finished the armor set comparisons


So I finally uploaded the minstrel set.  And I found out that Google Docs also allows you to upload the original file without converting it.  So there are 2 versions available – the Google one and the Microsoft one.

Microsoft Excel 2003

Google Version

Lotta work for me to do on my minstrel, but the Mighty Verse set (Moria Set) really looks at first glance to be the class of the options available.

Here are some screenshots:

ScreenShot00253

Galadhrim Crafted Set

ScreenShot00255

Mirkwood crafted set

ScreenShot00256
DN Set

ScreenShot00257

BG Set

ScreenShot00258

Mighty Verse (Moria Set)

ScreenShot00259

2 3-piece sets