Monthly Archives: February 2010

Massively tours Volume 3 Book 1


In case you haven’t made your patch day plans, Massively has a pretty good walkthrough of all the new things coming with the latest update. as they continue their weekly feature “On the road to Mordor.”  Be warned, there are some spoilers in there 🙂 as they describe some of the epic storyline and the new Rift skirmish.  But there’s also information about the upcoming festival and it looks like once again they’ve come up with another fun game!  I mean not only to do you get to stomp shrews, but you have a chance to win a huge shrew lawn ornament!

Certainly some nice information, including screenshots, and I’m again looking forward to this upcoming Spring festival which starts in a couple weeks.

In addition they were also kind enough to make my Starting a Warden post over on the LOTRO Reporter their community link of the week, so that’s pretty cool as well 🙂

And finally (not Massively related) Turbine has announced and released the winner’s for the Valentine’s Day Screenshot contest, so make sure you check that out as well.

Plans for Patch Day?


As you may or may not have seen, Monday March 1st is patch day for LOTRO as Turbine releases Volume 3 Book 1.  The full official patch notes are up, but I will admit I didn’t see too much different between this version and what was posted to Bullroarer.  I’m pretty excited about this patch not only for the content but it actually hits at a good time for me personally such that I’ll have big chunks of un-interrupted time available!  So I figured I’d try to plan out a bit what I’ll be up to.  I’m sure there will be many other thoughts and/or plans – what’s everyone else excited about doing first?

First up will be a check on my Minstrel for all the crafting changes.  He’s my Cook/Jeweler so there are lots of changes I’ll need to absorb and ingredient lists to make (although I may try to do some of that ahead of time).  Then I’ll probably have to put up sticky notes to remind myself to re-distribute points to my legendary items 😉  It is then off to Angmar to finish up Volume 1 Book 15, chapter 12 and get my new horse!

I’ll then be switching over to my Warden to finish off her epic quests, she’ll take a bit longer as I need to finish off both Books 14 and 15.  These Volume 1 quests have just been annoying me that I didn’t finish them, so it will be very exciting to check those off the list 🙂  I’ll then check out the nearest reflecting pool and see what quests I’d like to re-do so I can start stocking up on my Marks of Triumph as I mentioned yesterday.

Then I’m going to jump in on Volume 3 and work through that on both characters.

After all that it will probably depend on what’s going on in Mirkwood as I’m still short on my radiance pieces.  And then there’s also my Warden’s impending journey out into the Ettenmoors!  But gathering Marks of Triumph for bartering will be a long term goal of mine and will probably occupy a good chunk of my non-raiding time 🙂  Oh, and lets not forget the new Rift skirmish cosmetics…

Like I said at the top – what’s on your list to do first?

Developer Diary: Volume 1 Revised Edition


The much anticipated Dev. Diary on the Volume 1 revamp has been posted by Orion. We already knew many of the details, but I really appreciate the way all of these diaries (and this one is no exception) walk us through the process in how they attempted something particular.  I’m all for the changes and not just because I want my pretty horse 🙂  I also appreciate that they were very concerned about not only the balance but the lore and remind us that all throughout the LOTR books there are cases where characters do things they probably shouldn’t normally be able to do.  The general idea behind this is when doing quests that would normally be a full fellowship you will get a scalable buff to your morale, power, regen rates, incoming damage, and outgoing damage all of which scale based on how many others are in your fellowship.  So this system allows you full flexibility in not only your initial play through but allows you to repeat these quests in any fashion as well, which was a draw-back to the system put in place for the Lone-lands revamp.

The addition of the “Elf-stones” allows them to tightly control the areas where these massive buffs will be allow during quests that are out in the open.  However, maybe my memory is failing me, but I can really only think of one quest that is a fellowship quest out in the open.  That quest is the find the rider quest in the Trollshaws, which other then farming trolls, there’s really no reason to go down there.

The other tidbit buried at the bottom of the post was that the Inspired Greatness buff will work during replays of instances via Reflecting Pools.  This allows for solo players to obtain Marks of Triumph which previously were limited to only group runs.  For those of you who forget (like me) you can use these marks to barter for all sorts of things including legendary runes and relics, but also the various armor sets, various consumables, and crafting components!  So, there now is a path for all of us to go and get things like the Helegrod armor set, the Angmar armor set, and the Annunimas set!  This is such an awesome move to allow us other ways to get stuff that we’ve out-leveled 🙂  Soon enough my Warden will look like the below picture and I can’t wait!!

WardeninAnnuminas

My new column


I case you’re not already following the LOTRO Reporter, I’ve started up as their new Warden columnist.  This will give me a chance to step back from the more incremental and end-game posts I do here and write from a broader perspective.

Check out my first post, starting a Warden which walks through the first 15 levels of a Warden.  Be on the lookout for my posts there every other week as I continue the series and add in some other ideas and concepts.

Any requests?

Alternate Advancement Paths


So just a day after posts (and good conversations as well) on both the Epic Slant and Casual Stroll to Mordor blogs, I saw this announcement on MMORPG.com on the upcoming expansion for Age of Conan.  Now I did try AoC but I just really couldn’t get into it – however, this new concept is VERY intriguing to me and I will be paying close attention to this as it is rolled on out.

To recap, the discussions on CStM and ES talked about both vertical (raising the level cap) and horizontal progressions and the advantages (and pitfalls) of both.  As they talk about the different ideas, I think one of the main points is that there needs to be a diversity in the methods of progression and that just raising the level cap isn’t enough.

What AoC is looking to do is create additional flavors of experience points that are gained in both PvP and PvE as well as an additional pool that’s a combination of the 2.  So each character would have normal XP for leveling and then 3 other pools they could progress.  As the characters gain these experience pools they can be used to buy Feats and Perks.  Feats are passive abilities that provide a constant buff while perks are useable skills that come in two flavors, major and minor.  Feats sound like you can have as many as you want, but you are capped at how many perks you can have.  Major perks will take up a larger portion of the “perk pool” which makes sense, but the exact definitions weren’t explained.  This system starts at level 20 (their current level cap is 80) with certain options open early while others being capped by level.

Another interesting part of this is that these points can be advanced while either online or offline in a similar fashion to how EVE works.  Granted, this out-of-game advancement is no where near as fast as in-game but still will provide a value and advancement paths for those who don’t play 24/7.  This concept is further explained as a way for PvE players to pick up feats of perks in the PvP tree and vice versa.

This is a similar mechanic to how PvP worked in Dark Ages of Camelot in that as you gained points in PvP you could use those to spend on skills usable in both PvP and PvE.  I always thought this was a great way to drive people to PvP but not necessarily penalize them for not.  It worked for me as I raided in PvE and PvP and I believed I gained equal rewards through both and those rewards help in both aspects.

I think this is an idea full of win for everyone and I’d love for LOTRO to adopt a similar mechanic.  Sure it is still slanted towards the hard-core gamers, but it provides enough options for everyone to benefit and utilize the system.  If they’re serious about the long rumored Monster Play revamp, this would be an awesome system to implement as it would give freeps more incentive to play in the moors but wouldn’t exclude non-PvPers from gaining those same rewards.  I believe this is the biggest issue currently in the moors as there’s really no carrot out there for PvMP, even the moors armor sets require you to PvE!  I’m thinking something similar could even be done creep side, but I’m not sure how that might work – maybe another way to get creep gold?

Now when I initially started this article I was purely thinking of the PvE and PvMP divide within LOTRO, but I think a similar concept could already be in place with both skirmishes and legendary items.  The problem is that there just aren’t enough viable options nor that same feeling of character advancement.  If they could somehow figure out a way to tie these existing systems into skills and/or traits I think they could accomplish a similar thing to what AoC is doing and really allow us to personalize our characters and meaningfully progress them.  Another thought would be to use something along these lines as another path to gain virtue ranks or even virtue/class slots!

Needless to say I’ll be curious to see how this plays out for AoC and if LOTRO gleams anything from these kinds of systems as we go forward in Volume 3.

Wardens in the Ettenmoors – part 2


So I really haven’t taken my Warden out in the moors at all, but I am starting to get more of an itch to go check it out.  I did quite a bit of PvMP back in the SoA days with my Captain and Minstrel and did enjoy it quite a bit.  It is a nice diversion from grinding rep, IXP, or other things you might do at the level cap.  I managed to stumble upon a couple of posts on the LOTRO live boards about how to fight as a Warden in the moors with some cool ideas for leveraging other classes.

I did mention the moors a while ago when I saw a thread on this same topic but it wasn’t nearly as intriguing or promising as this more recent post 🙂

This thread is from the Nimrodel PvMP forums that gives a little of the back-story of the characters in the post on the warden boards.  It also has some of the various creeps chiming in on Wardens they’ve run into and their thoughts.  The Nimrodel PvMP post then links to this thread from Anirien on the warden boards with some more details.

The main idea behind this strategy is almost a kamikaze approach to try and leverage our AoE abilities to not only damage lots of creeps but fear them, all while healing ourselves.  The fears are really rough for the creeps as it can disrupt inductions as well as pop spiders out of their burrows!  And top that with the RKs “do not fall” and you can pop back up and run in to do it all over again 😉  Or team with a guard or captain such that they can mitigate some of your damage.  This really sounds like a lot of fun and much more appealing then plinking away from afar with our javelins.  Granted, you will die lots with this approach but that’s almost a given in the moors anyway if you take any chances at all 🙂

And for gear, team this up with some of the Mirkwood crafted armor for the various on damage buffs, debuffs, heals, and power returns and this could get really interesting!

I’ll post some more as I try this out some and keep you all posted – anyone else take their Wardens out in the moors?

Turbine is accepting applications for their preview server Isengard


For those of you who want to get a more hands on look at the new things Turbine is working on for LOTRO and help shape them going forward, you might want to check out Kehleyr’s thread announcing the application process for their preview server, called Isengard.  Content will appear on this server prior to other processes including betas and the Bullroarer server.

A few things to keep in mind, you are expected to submit bugs and help test new content.  You should also be prepared for things to not always be finished 😉  And probably the most important part is that you must be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Lots of information in the thread, so if you’re interested make sure to check it out.

And one sad note, currently they are only accepting folks from the Turbine servers and NOT Codemasters servers 😦 but that link provides a couple ideas for you guys as well.

Monday Forum update


So I wanted to share a few things I found interesting while checking up on the forums over the weekend.

I’ll start off with a really good informational Lore post by Hakon_Stormbrow that shows a timeline of all the lands and kingdoms throughout the history of Middle-Earth.  Pretty helpful as I’m also making my way through the Silmarillion and learning all the early history so seeing how that maps to the “current’ history of LOTRO is quite handy.

I’ll continue first with the warden posts, and then finish with some regarding minstrels.

First off the discussion on which weapon to use – swords or spears.  I personally have always used a spear since it looks cooler and I thought the bleed would counter for any other damage increase obtained from the increased hit chance of the sword.  However, as mentioned in this thread it really ends up being quite close to a mathematical wash.  The general rule seems to be whichever has the better legacies, but that a sword might be better for mobs that are higher levels then you.  But, like many have commented on neither one is substantially better then the other – so just pick which has better legacies or whichever floats your boat. 🙂

The next was a question regarding Adroit Maneuver which is a length 4 gambit that increases our attack speed.  I remember initially thinking this would be a really cool gambit and I did use it frequently but I quickly got over it as I realized Warden’s Triumph (length 5 gambit) hits for more and provides a much better damage buff.  And with good usage of our masteries, weapon speed really doesn’t matter all that much.  And it appears that I’m not alone in this thought process as many on the forums agree that Adroit Maneuver is not worth using at all once you get the length 5 gambits.

For those of you looking to tank the Mirkwood BG raid, there’s some good discussion in this thread regarding some of the issues some have with it and some ideas for mitigating them.  The main issues the poster has are with him dying and not being able to re-establish agro, threat transfers, and the huge hit to ICPR.  All 3 of these issues are actually pretty common in other areas so even if you’re not in BG there’s some good ideas/lessons to be learned from it.  One of the main points that I don’t always remember is that champs have the ability to transfer threat both from them and to them and as such can transfer their threat to you in case you die to help you better catch up.

There also was a little more discussion on the strategies behind soloing sword halls (SH).  There are now 2 posts on this topic the newer one and the original. It is a fun thing to try and play around with, but from a time perspective it is not the most optimal way to farm anything.  SH hard mode is certainly easier and quicker and even the easy mode can be duo’d quite effectively much quicker.  But like many of the posters (and I feel the same way) it is an accomplishment.

Switching gears a bit, there were also some good minstrel posts of late.

This first one has some good general ideas for how to play a minstrel and what to look out for.  The thread hits on a number of topics from skills to equipment to consumables and also includes some advice on traits and virtues.  And there are also some really good links scattered about as well.

For those minstrels out there wondering how much in-combat power regen (ICPR) additional fate will deliver, this thread dives into all the math involved.  Essentially fate provides a flat 1.5 in-combat MORALE regeneration (ICMR) boost for each point of fate, but the power curve is slightly different.  Some were listing a number of 0.6 ICPR, but a more accurate formula appears to be ICPR boost = 30*Fate^0.5, which actually is a boost of roughly 20% that was rolled out with the recent combat revamp.

And for those of you minstrels that are jealous of all the cool things wardens can do solo, a friend of mine posted his epic soloing of the spider Bogbereth.  Granted this is a level 50 mob, but it spawns a TON of adds and back when 50 was the level cap it was initially a raid quest 🙂  I never even thought to try it on a minstrel as I assumed the adds would be too much but it is doable, just make sure to stack ICPR and bring lots of power pots 😉

Developer Diary – Skill upgrades


There was another Dev. Diary posted talking about not only the details of the new skills but some of the rationale behind the changes.  There’s even some discussion on why some of the skills were further tweaked after they were announced.  Since I’m really only knowledgeable in 3 classes I’m going to leave the other classes to others who can talk more intelligently about them.

The three main goals with all of the upgrades were:

  1. Enhance underused skills.
  2. Give bonuses that are exciting.
  3. Don’t greatly alter relative class balance.

Now granted, some may argue that certain skills may have missed the mark but I think these are much better then the 62 upgrades across the board.  Now I’m still not real excited that this is all we’ve progressed with our characters but we’re at least moving in the right direction.

I’m only going to comment on the Captain, Minstrel, and of course the Warden.  I’m copying the sections from the diary and will add my thoughts after each one.

Captain:

Watchful Shield-brother replaces Shield-brother and gains a buff to morale and power regen.

While Shield-brother is a well-used skill by many Captains, some were less than diligent with placing it on a fellowship member or Herald. To ‘sweeten the deal’, we decided to tack a buff on to the Shield-brother effect. The skill now provides a moderate amount of in-combat morale and power regeneration. This buff is not massive, as it is on a maintenance free toggle skill, and will assist with both healing and power costs on a lucky fellowship member!

The Captain skill was changed after it was initially announced and I think this is a VERY nice addition.  I use my shield brother skills all the time when I’m grouped and this will be a very welcome buff to add.  However depending on the scale of the buff, I might have to re-consider who I give it too 🙂 or switch it up mid fight if there are folks in need of power.

Minstrel:

Lyric of the Hammerhand replaces Lay of the Hammerhand and will now negate all induction knockback. Note this does not prevent interruption effects.

I’ll admit, I did not want to upgrade this skill because I think it’s neat having a skill called a “Lay” in the game. However, the skill just filled goal #2 (give bonuses that are exciting) so well! A number of Minstrels have looked with envy at the Rune-keeper’s ability to avoid knockback, so here is a toggle skill of your own. However, remember that Lay has a long cooldown, drains a lot of power to keep active, drains even more power when you are hit and is turned off if you are stunned. That said, you now have on demand knockback immunity. Enjoy!

This one I’m not so sure about, yeah knockbacks are annoying but I’m not sure they’re bad enough to warrant me trading massive amounts of power for it.  Now if it prevented the interruption effects, that would be totally worth it, but as it stands I think this is one case where the 64 upgrade is worse then the 62 one.  Granted, this description does win for being the most entertaining of the bunch 🙂

Warden:

Unerring Strike is a new 5 Spear gambit that is difficult to block, parry or evade and leaves a damage over time effect that stacks with other Spear gambits.

This skill is very much an upgraded version of Mighty Blow. It has similar Gambit requirements (Spear, Shield, Fist, Spear, Shield). It bypasses enemy avoidances, and leaves a common damage DoT on the foe. This damage over time effect will stack with the other two spear-based DoT’s, Mighty Blow and Power Attack, to help fulfill all your DoT stacking desires!

Another one that was tweaked after it was announced to correct the gambit to something that flowed better.  I’m all for having additional DoTs as I’m sure you all know so this one is rather nice, especially since it doesn’t replace anything!  On the current Bullroarer build this hits for about 10% more damage and has a DoT tick of about 10% more as well when compared to Mighty Blow and flows very well with the new gambit pattern.  And I also caught a couple of snaps of this attack in action, it looks similar to Mighty blow but just a bit flashier with a fiery spear (in my case) and a “blood” cloud erupting from the mob when it hits.

Mid animation

End of the animation

So for the 3 classes I know the most about, two of them received pretty good upgrades and the other sounds interesting but I just don’t know of enough areas where it would be really helpful.  Lots of good stuff coming with Volume 3, I can’t wait!!

More Awakening


And the news from Bioware keeps on coming 🙂  Some of it is good, and some is not so exciting (for me at least)

They’ve released on their wiki site information about some of  the new Mage spells which do sounds pretty darn cool!  This is coupled with the announcement that one of the new specialization lines for mages is the Battlemage.  But one of my concerns from my previous post was confirmed in that many of the Battlemage spells (which were showed in the videos) can in fact create friendly fire incidents and as such careful positioning will be required.  Basically this line allows the mage to create a pulsating ring of various kinds of damage depending on the spell used.  Certainly some cool stuff, but will be a bit tricky.

The Friday update also released info on Sigrun, and there’s a blog from one of the lead writer’s going into more detail on her story. Not a whole lot of new information but nice to fill out the back-story of this character.  Also, I might have missed this somewhere else, but they talk about runes that can be added to weapons (I’m guessing a similar concept to how LOTRO does it for legendary items), which will be a nice way to further customize things.

And finally, the Awakening FAQ has been updated with information from Bioware’s new Community Facilitator.  This is the “bad news” I was referring to at the top of this post.  DLC items will not carry over into Awakenings, which means that content from an item perspective (one of the selling points) is a total waste.  I still appreciated the storylines but it does strike me as a bit odd they resorted to this decision.  However, at least the Warden’s Keep abilities will import, so that’s a good thing as I do like those 🙂  Oghren is confirmed to be the character joining us which does sadden me a bit but at least they do confirm there are cameos from the other characters that will follow the choices we made in Origins.  They also imply (or it might be a straight admission depending how you read it) that we’ll only hear from Alistair and Wynne, which is also disappointing, although I can understand the decision as those are potentially the only ones who stick around.

Some other information throughout the FAQ, but those were the main items I saw.

For the most part, some good things coming but I am a bit bummed about the character choice and follow through of the storylines with the rest of the companions.  We shall see as we get closer but things overall are looking good!