Tag Archives: skirmishes

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.

LOTRO Defragging and other notes

First off, if you have any issues with loading or porting in LOTRO I can highly recommend the new defragging tool for the various LOTRO .dat files.  I realize this is somewhat old news, but I just got around to doing it on my machine.  I’m usually pretty good about keeping my drive pretty well in order, but this tool specifically focuses on those HUGE dat files which normal defraggers have a hard time with.  Surprisingly enough, it really didn’t take all that long to run and my load times are blazing fast now.  Previously they were on the order of minutes, now I’m looking at less then 30 seconds!  Also, my in-fame performance is dramatically better as it really cuts down on the hitching (or studdering, basically temporary FPS drop during play).  Now granted, I am playing on a laptop and it isn’t a brand new machine so your mileage may vary – but it is a free tool that doesn’t take too long to run, so what do you have to lose?

If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to remember where that barter item was or what services were in which area, I highly recommend Chordian’s LOTRO site.  Not only does it have all the different items and barterable sets, etc. but you can even see what they look like!!  This also includes my biggest pet-peeve and allows you to see what housing items will look like!  And of course I was able to find the elusive Lorien silver leaf for gold leaf vendor 🙂 (hint, up the tree at CA).

For those of you (like me) who struggle with seeing cool jewelry, in either people’s MyLotro site or when you inspect them, and not knowing where it comes from, Drglory from the forums has put together a spreadsheet to try and help out with that.  You can find his  forum post on the live boards where he’s trying to keep track of where everything drops from.  He also does seem to be updating it as people comment, which is always a good thing.

And finally, last but not least JWBarry from the dev team has posted a new diary on the skirmish changes with Volume 3 book 1.  I will admit, I have already done the rift skirmish (a BLAST) over on Bullroarer (sorry Merric, you do need to finish the Book to unlock the skirmish) and as such I didn’t take as much from this diary as others might.  The skirmish and the ideas JW talks about are really cool and I’m excited that they keep on pushing out new ideas (or at least new for LOTRO).  Something I didn’t realize is that the existing DG skirmishes aren’t just getting a raid option, they’re also each getting a couple tweaks to make them even more interesting and challenging regardless of the group size.  Duo skirmishes will be a huge boost for many folks and are very encouraging that the devs do actually listen 🙂  The other big shift is talked about on Page 4 as he outlines the mark drop percentage changes and talks about the increased benefit for running Tier 2 and Tier 3 skirmishes.  The main thing I’m excited about is the increased drop rate for those special campaign marks needed for cosmetic items.  I ended up getting 5 of those marks in my one run through the rift skirmish on Tier 1 🙂  Some interesting new crafting ideas for processing large amounts of raw materials, but I haven’t seen the cost or output to see how they’ll really work.  But I do applaud the effort, as crafting can get tedious 🙂

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

Various Volume 3 Bullroarer updates

So there’s been quite a lot of posting up on the forums regarding the new stuff coming in Volume 3 including stats and screen-shots.

I’ll start with crafting first, there’s a whole bunch of very interesting looking jewelry that’s out that transforms a lot of it to multi-output recipes.  This includes many of the Tier 6 recipes and you can find a composite snap with all the crit values here on the live boards. Also, these multi-output recipes do apply for reputation recipes, so I will be off crafting some large guild symbols to stock up 😉

There’s also snap-shots of the new cooking recipes in the following post which also has in it the cookbook in Excel.  Of note, the fishing recipes are pretty cool as some are +vitality and +will.  Also, the Mirkwood reputation recipes start at +36 for the stats and critical results are +55, which will be very nice for will and fate!  I’m sure there will be updates to that spreadsheet once he adds the additional new stuff.

And finally, there’s a bunch of new cosmetic items.  First off was a post I found on the forums with some new shiny boots. In addition, with the latest new skirmish taking place in the rift they’ve added a BUNCH of new cosmetic items from there.  I took a couple screenshots to share as they’re pretty cool.  I love the fishing gear and that we can now get all the helms of all the armor sets as cosmetic items!  I’m a bit torn as I like being able to show off my sets that I’ve earned, but since they’re named differently you can easily distinguish upon inspection.  I’ve love to have these sets cosmetically (rift and helegrod mainly) as I don’t think anyone runs them anymore.


Me sporting the new rolling pin, oven mits, hat, and fishing pack.


New Hauberk and cloak from the front


And from the back, also sporting the minstrel rift hat…

And I do have my 3 mains copied over onto bullroarer if anyone has questions they want me to check out or if the want to run some skirmishes 🙂

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.

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.

What a difference a day makes

So just yesterday I was down about LOTRO but all fired up and excited for Dragon Age.  Those are pretty much flipped, although I’m actually playing DA:O today and not LOTRO as I need the ability to pause which LOTRO doesn’t quite give me.  Anyway, what happened you ask?

I’ll start with Dragon Age.  Today was supposed to be the day their first DLC was released as my post from yesterday talks about.  However, at about 4pm-ish yesterday Bioware announces the DLC will not be released on any platform and that’s it.  No time-frame, no reason, no nothing.  There’s now roughly a 150-page thread on their boards about this issue with ZERO response from Bioware.  I don’t need exact specifics or timeframes but ANYTHING would be nice.  I realize in the software industry things happen, but at least give us something.  And then the kicker for me is they pick today of all days to announce the release of the upcoming expansion!  Now don’t get me wrong, the Awakening sounds REALLY cool as we get a chance to continue the story with our characters from DA:O if we want, start a new character, and grow past level 20 with new abilities, items, etc.  And I also realize the press releases were most likely planned ahead of time and went out automagically – but seriously, you have enough resources to put out all this info, change your web-site, etc and you can’t give us a “Ostagar will be out next week” post on the forums??  To top off this wonderful day, this expansion pack will cost $40!  I’m not sure I follow the math as it isn’t as big as the original (rumored at 15 hours vs 30+ with DA:O) and it is the same price as DA:O (not the special edition).  I will most likely still buy it as I’m really into this story line but decisions and service like this is really making me less likely to play SW:TOR and more happy I’m a lifetime subscriber to LOTRO!

(edit – update as I’m still waiting on YouTube – Chris Priestly has posted 3 updates basically saying we’ll get it when we get it.  Now his first post was 20 hours after the slip announcement and 3 hours AFTER he announced the xpack.  I know it is tough for them, but this is all rather frustrating and potentially an indication of things to come.  They could have had some other rep announce the xpack – kinda makes them look like they really don’t care about the DLC)

Ok, my rant is over.  I was stalling this post for 2 reasons today – 1) hoping Bioware would do something and 2) waiting for my videos to upload onto YouTube (over 2GB worth).  But, YouTube beat Bioware 🙂

The good part of yesterday was a great day for my warden in LOTRO.  I ended up not logging in until late but managed to log in just as my kin was looking to get a group together for Sammuth Gul (new Mirkwood 6-man instance) and I joined in.  We were just planning on doing easy mode as it was pretty late, and that was fine by me.  Now I didn’t end up tanking it as our main tank was joining us too.  However, for my first run I was more then happy to not have the added stress of having to main tank as I had a chance to learn what was going on and understand how things should be done.  So we made our way up to the first boss and had a couple of un-fortunate issues with our RK and minnie, so it was down to me (warden), guard, and champ to finish off the last 30K or so of the boss.  The champ as they usually do since they’re real squishy dies next and the guard and I finish him off.  Here’s the video of it for your viewing pleasure.

The next 2 bosses went relatively smoothly as did the trash, needless to say I was happy to run with this group as they had it pretty well down pat.  Here are the videos of those fights as well.

And then to top it off, after that the champ, guard, and I ran Sword Halls – again on easy mode.  Pretty fun to run an instance without a healer 😉  Another video as well:

So with those instances, I was able to get enough tokens for my first piece of both the 25 and 15 radiance sets.  Nothing huge, but a step in the right direction for sure.

Oh, and I finally got enough marks to get the ranger mask – as you’ll notice from the videos.

Mirkwood reputation and Skirmish rewards

I should have at least two more posts today, one with some warden info and the other with some updates from yesterday (including videos).  And there may or may not be a Bioware rant in there too…

I hadn’t seen this listed out before, and I certainly hadn’t see the horse pictured so I figured I’d share these links from the main forums.  None of the rewards are terribly exiting but the potions are nice and the damage scrolls are very handy.  Otherwise, Mirkwood reputation is a bit underwhelming.

Pretty good listing of non-legendary item reputation rewards

Horse Screenshot (Complete all 4 Dol Guldur Hard Modes)

Mirkwood War Steed

Horse Screenshot (20 Gold Star Emblems)

Mirkwood Smokey Black Reputation Horse


Above’s a shot of the reputation vendor, and me showing off the dress.  And yes, it does look great with my new ranger mask 😉  The other dress looks the same just without the sleeves.  The Scroll of Delving is what adds 10 levels to your legendary item (Edit – Per MisterEcho any item up to level 65) and the Scroll of Renewal resets your spent legendary points to zero allowing you to re-allocate them if you want.  And for clarification the Scroll of Delving doesn’t change the damage output of the LI, it just allows you to gain more experience on it to increase the ranks of your legacies.  The weapon damage scrolls are at the bottom and there are a few, but they’re all Beleriand damage + 3 to a particular mob type.

I also wanted to post the links to the skirmish rewards that Merric posted over on CStM as he was nice enough to not only compile the list of items you can see in the dressing room but also with some help show the soldier items too.

Cosmetic Clothing

Cosmetic Items

Elf Maiden

Redeeming Marks

Ringing in the new year

This will be the first of a bunch of posts coming up today and tomorrow as I get caught up on things.  I wanted to start of with a recap of 2009 and looking forward into 2010.  This will cover both LOTRO the game as well as my plans for LOTRO and other games.

Looking back

2009 was a pretty solid year for me in LOTRO.  Early in the year I achieved level 60 on my warden although not quite as quite as quickly as others due to the poor timing of the Moria launch (poor timing for me that is).  I also managed to get my three mains (warden, captain, and minstrel) not only watcher ready but watcher kills on each of them.  My minstrel and captain were part of a couple DN raids, but sadly my warden has not seen the inside nor have I been through the entire thing.

I switched kinships twice this year, the first time due to the amount of drama and the second time was just moving from a 3 person kin (more of a holding kin) to a raiding one that included those same 3 people.

I didn’t quite achieve my goal of finishing through Volume 2 on all my toons before Mirkwood, but I came pretty close.  My minstrel is just short 1.15.12 and 2.5.5 –> 2.6.8.  My captain is all finished and finally my warden is short on 1.14.1 through to volume 1 completion and the last chapter of book 8.

The other game that caught my attention of course was Dragon Age Origins.  I ended up finishing it twice (with a few different endings) and am working towards a third.  It was a great filler as I was waiting for Mirkwood and gives me a good change of pace.  All of the accolades this game has received are well deserved IMO and I would highly recommend picking it up if you haven’t already as I know they’re dropping the price on various sites.

And finally, in September I started up this blog.  As we came towards the end of the year I think I caught my stride and really got into a pretty decent grove of not only news, tips/tricks, and general LOTRO thoughts and ideas which I hope to carry through to next year.  I also started recording some of my adventures, and that certainly will continue.

In LOTRO itself it was also a pretty busy year.  Some folks pointed out that 2009 was a slow-down and pointed to a decline in LOTRO but I think the slow down was due more to some large scale behind the scenes issues (server performance, system overhauls, etc) and not a decline in the game.  Really, 2008 only had one more content update then 2009 and while MoM was larger the SoM there were some very significant system changes with Mirkwood that we haven’t quite had time to absorb.  I’m not claiming 2009 had more content then 2008, but I don’t feel it is a large a drop-off as some like to claim.  In March we saw Book 7 release which opened up the area of Lothlorien as well as the continuation of the epic storyline.  While this area was on the small side for some, I certainly enjoyed the change from the dreariness of Moria and continually enjoy visiting that area just to look around.  Also in this book the famed (or infamous) Turtle raid was launched with a few issues but those were pretty quickly hammered out.  Orion released his first part of the New Player Experience with the re-works of various starter zones.  And we saw the intro to skirmishes with the release of the Crafting Instances.

June brought us the release of Book 8 which brought us back into Moria and new raiding content.  We got 2 3 man instances, 1 6 man, and a new 12 person raid Dar Narburg.  There were some other additions/changes as well with new barter systems and such but for the most part Book 8 was an end-game focused release.

And of course we had Siege of Mirkwood in December, but we’ve seen that covered all over the place so I won’t re-cap that here.  I have a bunch of posts on it, just search for Mirkwood and you’ll find them.

Into 2010

So I’m going through a bit of a rough patch in game right now, and I’m really hoping it is just due to a lack of playing time in December but I feel a bit lost and un-motivated right now.  Part of is that I know my kin is all geared out on at least 2 toons already and I’m concerned about getting my gear that I want.  So I am pondering a kin change or possibly even a server change.  But, I think I’m going to wait a bit and see how things progress here in the next month before doing anything drastic.

Hopefully with Orion’s comment before the holidays, I should be able to finish off the remainder of Volume 1 on my minstrel and warden and I don’t have too much left to do on Volume 2.  I also want to get at least the 2 purple radiance sets on these 3 toons as I should be able to in the 3-mans without too much effort.  And with the new year, there should be some opportunities to run not only DN but also the new Mirkwood raid I just need to keep an eye out for multiple groups.  I mainly want to get back into running content with other people, I’ve gotten into a bit of a solo rut and I’m not enjoying that.

I will be looking to continue my blogging and video posting, hopefully adding some more group action to my videos and not just solo ones.  I’m also toying with the idea of starting, co-hosting, or just guest appearing on a podcast to focus on more of the end-game content.  There’s some great shows out there but I feel this is a missing area.

I’ll save my Dragon Age plans for another post as there is some really cool news coming for that.

As for my 2010 LOTRO predictions, we will see Volume 3 in February as announced which will include Orion’s completed revamp of the Volume 1 epic line.  I’m not 100% sure what land-mass will be introduced (I’m pretty confident there will be more land) but my gut feel is we’ll head south to get back on the story line of the books.  I hope to see in Volume 3 Legendary items 3.0 and Traits 3.0 as I think they could certainly use the bumps.  For legendary items I hope they adopt the skirmish soldier methodology and allow us to have more control over our items.  I still realize there needs to be some randomness and grinding associated with it but I really want to feel more like the item is growing as I do.  As for traits, I want more class options and more legendary options.  I want to see more diversity and options for classes as I still feel even with the revamp in Moria there are still only a couple of viable paths for each class and LOTS of wasted traits that no one uses.  I don’t wait our virtues to scale past 10, although more equip-able slots would be nice 🙂  I’d also love to see them tied to skirmishes and be barter-able.  Allow us to “buy” a level of a virtue for around 1000 skirmish points for the first tier and 2000 for the second (I’m thinking level 65 slayer deeds, scale that down appropriately) as this will still be a grind but it opens up another path to get there.  And I think we’ll see an item/crafting overhaul that will bring radiance gear and crafted gear not only in line with each other but also desirable.

We will also see 2 more free content book releases at least, and possibly more depending on the timing – but I could see an April/July schedule with a possible 3rd in August/September depending on the expansion plan.  Skirmishes will continue to be an integral part of their storytelling and we’ll probably see them continue in the epic line as well as a couple other new ones per release, but I don’t think they’ll replace normal gameplay.  I do think we’ll see an expansion, but I’m torn as to whether it will be a box or digital.  I kind of hope it is a box as that means it will be a bigger deal, but I could also see them just sticking with the digital methodology as certainly that’s a better money maker for Turbine.  I’d love to see Rohan, but I’m just not sure how the timing will work out.  I’m pretty sure we won’t see mounted combat but I do agree with Almazar in his 2010 prediction that we’ll see some new combat technology to allow for large battles like the upcoming Helm’s Deep that we’re all waiting for.

So I think that wraps up my look back and ahead, I’ll have a couple more posts out shortly talking about some various Warden specifics, other Mirkwood items, the exciting Dragon Age news (I can’t wait for tomorrow), and a bit of a rant on micro-transactions (and not in the way you’re probably thinking).

2010 will be a heck of a year, and I can’t wait for it to get rolling!

Cstats usage and another video

I wanted to check a few things out on my damage output during my normal fighting routines as well as check out the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 skirmishes.  I also figured this would be a good opportunity to explain to folks a little bit about Cstats.  Cstats can be used for a variety of things, but essentially it is a damage parser, you can understand precisely how much damage you do and how much the mobs do.  So if can be used to compare classes, items, trait builds, strategies, skill rotations, and probably much more.

Cstats is pretty straightforward – download it here, and then while in game follow these steps to enable combat logging in game (assuming you still use the combat chat tab).  Go fight some stuff, and then in Cstats use the File –> Start Parsing option and point to the created log file in your LOTRO install folder, as shown here. After that, you should have a presentation of all your fights contained in your log file.  One thing to point out with regards to skirmishes, there is an acknowledged bug in Cstats that it doesn’t include Herbalist healing – which is disappointing, but I know my herbalist is doing her job.  Looking at the update frequency, hopefully that will get hammered out soon enough.  If you’re not a numbers geek like me, jump to the bottom for the video 😉

My examples here are from 2 separate skirmish runs – one at Tier 1 and the other Tier 2.

In the below shot shot you can see the DPS for every mob/person in the log file – now I’m not sure that the pure DPS number showing for me is 100% accurate as that number looks at tad high 😉  However, I am targeting multiple mobs and have lots of DoTs running all the time so I’m usually damaging at least 2 mobs at a time which does inflate my numbers.  Back to the plot, you can now see which mobs are more damaging and by how much.  This is also good for comparing incoming damage between fights, skirmish tiers, trait setups, equipement, etc.

Tier 1 Damage

Now looking at the same output from a Tier 2 skirmish:

Tier 2 Damage

While my damage is higher (I think I’m just trying much harder in this one) notice that the incoming damage from the mobs is also MUCH higher.  Which shows pretty well the difference between the tiers in that not only do the mobs hit harder but they have 50% more morale too.  Also, as the following charts will show all my attacks do significantly less damage on average, look at quick thrust as an example.

So now drilling down a bit more (this similar view is available when clicking the + sign on any other line) you can see every attack I use and the damage from them.  Some real nice things here for a warden in that I can see my DoTs, my spear procs, auto-attacks, and then all my other skills.

Tier 1 Attacks

So, this chart below shows my attack damage for the Tier 2 skirmish (above is the same but for the Tier 1 skirmish)– and you’ll notice my default melee attack is significantly lower (then the tier 1 skirmish) in both %damage and %attacks (confirming that I was trying harder) but really both of these show that my various bleeds really were making a HUGE difference.  If you watch any of my videos, I pretty much have 4 DoTs working at all times and that accounts for about 30% of my damage!  I also pull multiple mobs and make sure I try to keep those DoTs ticking on all of them as much as possible.  So if you’re not using DoTs and AoEs as a warden you’re losing a LOT of damage.  In theory you would expect %acts to be comparable to %dmg but if either of those are skewed one way or the other you might want to change how you use that skill.  The one that stands out is the line for DoTs but remember each DoT that is applied by a warden has a certain number of “ticks” in that the damage is applied 6 times (for me, I use 2 traits to increase this from the standard 4 ticks) so yes they’re applied a lot, but I’m not actively applying them that often.  And in looking at it per application they’re only 8% of my actions but 28% of my damage!

Tier 2 Attacks

Now for an individual attack you can see a graph of every hit, and how often they hit that number.   So, it really allows you to look at what attacks are better/worse or maybe which ones you use too often that you should remove from your rotation.  You can also get a feel for which mobs are more resistant to various damage types if you wanted to since these are broken out per mob.

Tier 1 Quick Thrust

There’s lots more that you can do with Cstats but just these few things are real handy for me as it helps track down and understand how you perform in various battles.  All of these reports can be saved and exported if you want to do further crunching, but I’m quite happy to use it in this fashion.  I’ll probably log some more fights just to see how things chance with different skirmishes, group fights, single mob pulls, etc.

So just looking at these 2 skirmishes I feel pretty confident that I have a decent DPS output and that DoTs are a huge portion of it.  Also, I’m pretty confident that this is a huge step up from Moria as I used to not allow auto-attacks in my rotations and still using my same flow/style but you’ll see I still get about 20% damage from my auto-attacks.

As promised, here’s another video from me in the skirmishes – I’m not sure how these guys fit in the lore, but they just look really cool 😉  This is a skirmish encounter from my Tier 2 fight “The Battle in the Tower” which is part of the battle up Dol Goldur.  And yes you’ll notice my healer actually doing stuff 😉