Category Archives: Minstrel

My first day in Volume 3


I was pretty successful yesterday, although I ended up running out of steam towards the evening 🙂 and didn’t get quite as much done as I had planned.

I started off on my Minstrel as I had less to do on him.  I had logged out the previous night at Gath Forthnir such that I could jump right in and finish off the final quest of Volume 1.  Considering this is still a level 50 quest, my 65 minstrel had a LOT of fun running through there.  The “Inspire Greatness” buff is quite fun and I ended up having some real nifty big numbers floating around my screen 😉  The biggest was my Call to the 2nd Age critting for over 5K on all three mobs attacking me!  Here’s a shot of me in the middle of that quest, and a shot of the buff (notice at this point I had forgotten to re-do my legendaries)…

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And of course, here’s the prize at the end of the book my new horse:

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I did finally remember to re-set all my legendary items and did pick up the new cooking recipes, but haven’t had a chance to make any of the new eats or even decide which ones I’m going to make.  That’s for another day…

After that it was over to my Warden who did have more work to do.  I started out working through Book 14 and quickly decided that I really wanted to see how much I could do using the Inspire Greatness buff.  Now I did get myself into a little bit of trouble during the last part of Book 14.  For those of you that have done it, you’ll remember there are various little pockets of mobs both outside the ring-forge and then even more once you fight your way inside.  As I was outside, I didn’t have too many issues:

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Once I got inside I decided that I would go ahead and pull not just the entire room but the troll “boss” at the end.  Now to further compound things, I sorta forgot there’s a dread zone right where I was standing.  So for a long while I was fighting in like 5 dread which caused me to cower every once in a while 🙂  If you notice in the above shots, with the Inspire Greatness buff I have over 30K Morale but with the combination of the dread (which knocked off about half my health) and mobs I ended up getting down under 1K so I actually thought I was going to fail.  But will all the mobs, once I moved out of the dread zone I was able to leach back enough health to bump that back up over 10K when I finally finished off the last mob.

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After a pretty big sigh of relief (I really didn’t want to have to re-do that instance, or admit failure) I did make it through and finish the rest of that instance and all of Book 15.  I had forgotten how good the story was during those 2 books which made up for the times I was griping about the travel back and forth to Dellosad.  So my Warden is also sporting the new pretty horse (and notice the scaled down pool):

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After finishing off Volume 1, I noticed in my quest log that I hadn’t finished Volume 2, 8.6 which is a small fellowship quest.  I figured what the heck, I’ll give it a go as it is a level 60 quest 🙂  I remembered it being pretty short and not terribly tricky, but I forgot the final mob did have over 100K morale, plus a few friends.  There are some breaks in the fight and there’s only one mob to fight at a time, otherwise there’d be no way to even come close to soloing it.  The fight was a bit tricky and I was paying a too much attention to take screen-shots (or a video) but I was able to solo it after kiting on the last 2 mobs in order to regen as I finished them off.  Luckily Wardens are very good at kiting 😉

I then finished up my evening running through Volume 3 Book 1 and managed to get my Warden up to the Rift Skirmish but my eyes decided I needed a break so that will have to wait for another day.

On the whole, the update has all sorts of great additions.  The Volume 1 revamp is a huge success and quite popular as I did see quite a few others like me running through Books 14 and 15.  I’ll be curious to hear how folks are finding it when done more on level as opposed to 15 levels higher like me 😉  The only down side for me was that without anyone in the group, I had way too much loot and not enough bag space.  Some of those instances in books 14 and 15 are pretty long, so there were lots of bodies left on the ground as I just didn’t have any space left 😦  I haven’t tried the new Minstrel skill, but the Warden gambit is quite nice.  And while Volume 3 is a tour of Middle-Earth there’s a very fun story and I really enjoyed the quests.  Plus with the addition of the quest reward travel options, you can chose to make it as quick and painless as you want :).

I’ll have some more posts as I progress including some updates on my Minstrel in the Mirkwood instances.  And I may have a post coming as we get closer to the Dragon Age expansion, but we’ll see.

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?

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

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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!!

My minstrel and his Boomstick


Ok, so it isn’t quite a lore appropriate name for my sage soldier – but I was reminiscing the other day with a couple of folks on Twitter about the movie Army of Darkness.  So in following some of the epic one-liners from that movie I decided to give my sage the nickname Boomstick.   Now she’s still not quite on level, but I’m pretty happy with her damage.  I ended up working on finishing off Book 9 (hit 65 last week) so I had a few skirmishes to run to round out the book.  I’m really looking forward to how the sage will grow once I get her on level and an Ultimate skill under her belt.  I actually think the scarier thought is how fun a similar sage will be on my warden 😉  As you’ll see from the following videos – my minstrel does tend to get in a bit of trouble.  I also captured a bunch of fights in CStats just to see how my minstrel parsed 😉  Tops was 600 for a crit loaded fight with Mazog (9000 damage in 15 seconds!!), but average was mid to high 300s.  Which for those of you keeping score, that’s about double my warden 😉  And Boomstick is right around 70-90 DPS, which isn’t too shabby considering her level – only 60, with no skill above tier 4 (level 50ish).

I captured a couple of fights, including the encounters and last boss fight for those who are interested.  Kufit the troll was a little dicey, but part of that is due to me being a lazy cook and not having any food on me…

As for the rest of the week, it was a bit slow in-game due to a bunch of other RL issues.  But I did manage to get in an SG run on my minstrel which was a little scary (I was 63 at the time) but quite fun.  I did win 2 MyLotro lotteries this past week and both of them on toons I actually play 😉 so that was a nice little bonus for me.  With those wins, I was able to upgrade the tiers on a few of my legacies for my Warden’s spear and also finally got a new crafting tool for my Minstrel that combines all 3 into one slot.  No this tool isn’t new, but I just never crafted myself sets of these 🙂  Like I said, my minstrel did hit 65 – so now I’m working to get him geared up.  I need to do some general item checking on both of my 65s to see what else I need, aside from the radiance gear.  That plus figuring out what traits to slot for both toons should keep me pretty busy.  Otherwise, I’ll be running skirmishes, SG, and SH as well as whatever raids/groups I find myself getting into.

Survivable Minstrels in LOTRO


As I’ve been dusting off the cob-webs on my minstrel lately I’ve also been hearing (and reading) folks talk about how hard it is to solo as a minstrel, especially in skirmishes.  So I figured I’d write a bit about how I’ve built and set up my minstrel as well as how I play him.  My minstrel is probably my most rounded end-game character I have as I’ve done Helegrod, the Rift (including a few 1st time kills for groups), all the Moria 6-mans, the Watcher, DN (not the whole thing sadly), and it is also my highest ranked character in the Moors having reached rank 5.  I leveled up mostly in the days pre-warspeach and as such am pretty used to chaining ballads and working to maximize their utility.

One of the things about my minstrel is that I do PUG quite a bit and as such I have to be ready for and be able to take a few hits.  So I tend to built more towards a vit/morale heavy build and not the will/power build that pure healing minstrels tend to prefer.  I’m currently running with 4641 morale and 3679 power with an ICPR of 1000, but my un-buffed common mitigation is 28.4%.  Even when I’m raiding, having the extra morale is ALWAYS helpful as there are LOTS of high damage AOEs in the game that can potentially one-shot you if your morale is too low.  Even if you are not 1-shotted, you might be low enough that another hit would finish you off – or if nothing else distract you from healing someone more crucial, like the tank.  Now I certainly will re-trait depending on what I’m doing, but aside from instruments and legendary items, I rarely will swap out equipment.

I’m still in the process of working through my equipment and virtue selections, but you can check out my minstrel’s My.LOTRO page for his current gear, and my previous post showing links to the armor set comparisons.  I currently have valor, loyalty, charity, justice, and empathy slotted for my virtues, but like I said I will probably be changing things up a bit and Justice will most likely go 🙂  For soloing, I’m currently speced full war-speech with 2 in protector of song:

  • Medium Armor use – not so much such that I can wear medium armor, but this also boosts our common damage mitigation cap.  With all of the ways to boost armor rating, it is pretty easy to hit the 30% cap.  I don’t wear any medium armor, it is purely for the boost to the mitigation cap.
  • Powerful Voice – 5% power cost reduction for cries and ballads.  Pretty self-explanatory, but while in war-speech power can be a huge issue so every little bit helps.
  • Light in the dark – +10% ballad damage – really helps when combined with legacies
  • Unrelenting – more crits for piercing cry, which then will stun mobs
  • Harmonious Melody – adds 5 seconds to ballad healing buff duration (really only for capstone)
  • Glorious Anthem – +15 second anthem duration
  • Battle-hymn – Anthem of the Valar triggers ICMR buff from Anthem of the Free peoples on minstrel only

So, the last 2 are probably my biggest suggestion as it not only allows for good AOE damage but allows to keep that ICMR buff up pretty much at all times, more than doubling my in-combat morale regen abilities!

For my soldier, I’m currently running with the sage to try and help kill things quickly.  I’m pretty comfortable with both tier 1 and tier 2 skirmishes on level, but will also probably trait up an herbalist to help with healing me and sharing power.  Only time I really get into trouble has been when I’m just being stupid 🙂 like forgetting to clear out a counter-attack before pulling another group of mobs 😉

Now for my normal fighting strategy I prefer to run in war-speech and use those abilities as much as possible with ballads in-between.  I do tend to run out of power quite frequently and often but with power pots and a good ICPR I can turtle pretty well.  But that is why I’m thinking about the herbalist as the power sharing thing is pretty darn handy 🙂  I usually pull at least 3 mobs and use Echoes of battle as my pull skill.  I then tier up ballads on another incoming target using Resonance, Swiftness, and the Ballad of War buff.  By this time, the mobs should be on my so I use the 3 AoEs we have (Call of Orome, Anthem of Valar, and Call to the 2nd Age) which not only puts light damage debuffs on the mobs but also gives me a nice morale regen boost.  Once I get through this cycle I tier back up in ballads with the buffs – the vigor, balance, and stout ones mainly.  Like all my characters, I’m pretty liberal with potions and use them quite often.  If I get into trouble, I’ll then drop war-speech, use some pots, and then hit man-heal if I’m really hurting.  Lots of mobs in skirmishes cast fears as well as silence, so Cry of the Chorus is another good skill to use.

The other skills I use when I start to get into trouble are our fear during the fight, and distraction if there are too many mobs in the area to try and keep the crowds reasonable.  It doesn’t hurt to have our big heals in mind (Triumphant spirit and fellowships heart) and the fail-safe of feign death 🙂  And of course, don’t neglect your morale/power pots and in some cases more importantly make sure you stock up and use the other pots as well – fear, would, poison, and disease.

Finally, for my legendaries I’m still working through mine but for the most part I plan to carry 2 sets on for healing and another for damage.  It is nice that ballad damage is in Pool B such that you can have both war-speech damage and ballad damage boosts.  There aren’t nearly as many damage legacies for books, so I still mainly focus that on healing as even while soloing healing is handy 😉  In case you forgot (like me) here’s the link to the dev. diary on legacy pools.

I’m going to post a few more videos as we go – but here are the links to my initial ones of me running the Tuckborough skirmish: Part 1 and Part 2.

I’ll wrap up with a couple other posts on the live boards that may be helpful for those of you who make it out to the moors:

Moors minnie build

More moors talk, mainly warg focused

Volume 3: Allies of the King news


Ok, so I’m mainly gong to be posting the links here and adding my comments as I’m sure most of you have already seen some of this before.

The first post came from MadeOfLions and is a Dev. Diary talking about the behind the scenes mechanics of the Drama sequence system.  Pretty interesting as he walks through that they have to account for not only the options the characters can chose but also how they might have chosen up to this point.  He also talks in vague terms about Volume as a whole that  “will bring us to new lands, new threats, and new adventures “ and shows some of the epic book rewards.  I think the rewards are pretty nice as it gives characters without swift-travel options (i.e. non hunter/wardens) better ways to move around as they do tend to have many of these “travel the land” quests.  Further discussion on the Volume 3 quest rewards can be found on the live boards.

In addition, the preliminary patch notes on for Book 1 have been posted by Sapience as well as the announcement that Bullroarer is now live. For me there are some really nice additions:

  • Duo Skirmishes!  Nice to see the devs respond to the community, I had no idea that some 40% of 3-man skirmishes were duo’d 😉
  • Lots of updates to skirmish mark reward rates, drops, exchange costs, and to the specific skirmishes
  • The skirmish starting quest has been tweaked to drop more easily (which I”m all for)
  • Volume 1 revamp!!
  • New Skills (ok, one per class) but overall I think they’re better then the Mirkwood ones
  • Crafting updates – especially like the cooking updates!  Will and Fate food will be VERY nice
  • Also, they increased the duration of the OOC regen buffs from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, or 10 minutes on crit crafted food!  This one I never understood the short duration, so this will be very nice for all aspects of the game.
  • Notes on your friends/ignore lists!!  Can’t tell you how many folks I remove cause I can’t remember why they’re on the list
  • Hounding fear is gone!
  • Legendary item legacy costs are hopefully fixed 🙂

I’m sure there are other things, but for me those are the big ones.  Even for just a book update, this is another big “system” update.  Just like Mirkwood, the Volume 1 revamp will be HUGE for Turbine (assuming they do it well).  As they push newer content it will continue to get harder for people to find folks willing to do those quests again (and again) but still not preventing people from doing them as a group if they wish.  While some may see this as dumbing the game down, I believe it is allowing all of us to re-roll and enjoy the content in a new way without missing any of the story – which is why most of us are here anyway!  Plus you know you all want the pretty horse 😉

Now, for the class skills I’m not going to cover all of them, just the 3 I can intelligently debate – for the loremaster skill check out the LOTRO Reporter.

Warden’s get a new gambit called Unerring Strike which sounds cool at first as it is less likely to be block, parried, or evaded and has a damage over time component.  But, as mentioned on the Live boards the builders needed for this will be a bit clunky as there are 2 spears at the end of the Mighty Blow gambit.  What this means is there will be an artificial delay in using this gambit which will make it less appealing then its counterpart Mighty Blow.  So while I like the idea, the implementation leaves something to be desired.

Captain’s get a buff to their shield brother skill which does sounds kinda nice as it adds both a boost to morale and power to the shielded character.  Now the stats aren’t all that hot (page 2 of this live thread) but hey 100 morale and 150 power buff that can be cast pre-fight isn’t worthless.  Sure, I think it should be a bigger buff but it is at least useful (unlike our Mirkwood upgrade) – perhaps making it a regen buff, or have it pulse every so many seconds.  However, probably more importantly they fixed one of our traits not boosting healing (deeds before words now boosts inspire) and fixed the lag on Last stand (which was rather annoying).

The minstrel upgrade for me is interesting but I”m really not sure how useful it will actually be.  Essentially now our “power bubble” which we can cast to have damage drain power instead of morale will not be broken by knockbacks nor will you be interrupted by knockbacks.  Various folks discuss this on the live boards and I think it will be nice for bosses with large AOE knockback skills but I’m not sure how often I’ll be putting this up without a pocket LM feeding me power.

So for me, the skill updates are better this round but still nothing compared to the upgrades from SoA to MoM.  These are at least marginally useful as opposed to the generally worthless Mirkwood ones.  But I’m still not feeling the character progression love from Turbine quite yet.

And finally, with this update there’s also an update to the fishing system.  Now I haven’t fished too much as it really didn’t seem worth it once the novelty wore off, but with the fate/will food and the updates it might be more worth it.  Check out the Angler’s guide to fishing 2.0 for more details.

Overall, I like the patch and am excited for it but I think they could’ve made a couple of tweaks and made it really good.  Make sure to check out the full notes as I very well have missed something that you care about.

More Single Player Focus recently


So I’ve been quiet lately and that’s mainly due to real-life distractions and work getting quite a bit busier for me.  I really haven’t had much time to fully devote to a game so I’ve steered more towards single-player games that I can pause 🙂

I’ve got a backload of LOTRO items, and will be getting back into a better blogging routine as I”m really itching to get back to Middle-Earth.  Especially since there’s a new raiding group that I joined so I’ll have a chance to get back into some more of the end-game stuff that I so enjoy!  I’ll be working on my minstrel and as such you’ll probably see some more posts on his progress and how I handle skirmishes as well.

The biggest in-game news for me is that my mule kinship (which was formed with the help of some of the blogging community) reached rank 7 and the kin-house right behind my house was still available.  So I’ve been slowly moving things around and filling that up, and working to re-build my bank account ;).  Here’s a shot of my minnie out front of my new and sparsely decorated house.  Too bad you can’t mail items across servers as I know Merric and Goldenstar have TONS of household items 😉

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I’m sure you can guess the main one single-player distraction, yes that would be Dragon Age: Origins.  I’ve been through the RtO content and then decided I would finish the game on my dual-wielding warrior.  I probably should have upped the difficulty to hard (or whatever’s above normal) as it was pretty easy for me, but then again I was really mainly playing to finish up the storylines and play with some different options.  I’m not real sure if I’m going to play another go-around, we’ll see how RL goes.  And if I do another game, I will up the difficulty and most likely NOT do Orzamar as by far that zone is the longest and least enjoyable for me.  I did find some new spells that I hadn’t used before (the mana-leech line is un-real) so I’ll probably try some other things out too.  I may also try out some more of side-quests as I think I’ve only completed something like 60% of the game (which seems weird).  But I am getting pretty excited for the expansion as they are slowly letting news out on it.  There’s been a video of a new boss, the first announced character Anders (also in the gallery link), and screen-shots of Vigil’s Keep. I’m still waiting to see the other characters, how the skills and such will change, and probably most importantly which character is continuing on with us on our journey.  But we still have 6 weeks before launch, and here’s hoping it is smoother then Ostagar 😉

The other game I’ve picked back up is Mount and Blade which is developed by Taleworlds  There are a number of things I really like about this game, even though it isn’t the best looking or most recent game out there:

  • I love the way they’ve done mounted combat – it does take a bit to get used to but I really enjoy it
  • I’m a medieval timeframe junky and enjoy building an army, reputation, and trying to acquire/hold land.  Plus who doesn’t have fun storming the castle!
  • Even with the as-shipped game there’s multiple factions, lots of armor/weapons, and troop variations that all make lots of differences
  • There’s still a pretty active community that’s not only helpful but is releasing custom built content and modifications too

The game isn’t perfect (especially since it likes to overheat my poor GPU for some reason) but it is a nice enjoyable distraction for me at the moment.  So if you like the period and are interested in a game that combines strategy with more dynamic combat you might want to check it out.  The demo allows you to reach level 7 and the full version costs $30.

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.