Monday, August 27, 2012

Summerdays Horse, and Defeat of Chieftain Taun

Summerdays Horse

Summer Festival is here! Finally!

Read the CSTM guide. Go. Do. Enjoy. I will talk more about it soon. For now, here is a pretty picture of my new pretty horse. He is already in the Horse Gallery; go see some of the rest… All the Steeds

I have an exciting tale to bring you. One I have been waiting FOREVER to write.

Defeat of Chieftain Taun

It was the 22nd of August and the horde had overrun the Ettenmoors. I had joined forces with the Free People in hopes of holding back defeat a while longer. As I approached the Lumber Camp, there were twelve Free People, mostly defeated, and I saw the horde as thick as night. In reality, their numbers were nearly double ours in the area. I saw no creeps fall before I was cut down and had to retreat.

Whispers came that there were spies in our midst. Apparently, there had been “lurkers” following the movement of the freep raid and reporting on strength and position. The raid leader gathered our forces. The creeps had every single position in Ettenmoors… where should we go? What should we do?

I sent a message to raid leader HeartofFire that the creeps would never expect us to attack the main stronghold of Dargazag and claim victory over our Gift of the Carrock while they had every keep and outpost. I did advise HeartofFire that my military strategy was lined with an ulterior motive. I had a personal vendetta and deed that I was hunting the elusive Chieftain Taun and I knew that he was comfortably protected deep within Dargazag at that moment. A friend had told me not 15 minutes prior that though there were a half dozen friends here tonight, the Creeps were a wall of enemy and we would be cut down before we made it anywhere near Chieftain Taun.

No words came in reply to my request, but I suspected (no, I hoped very much) that we might make an attempt, even though success was slim. Third Marshall Ballblitz took the rest of the team on a circuitous path south and west. Patient. Waiting. Going in circles. Sloughing off spies. Crossing further into enemy territory quickly and waiting. We were alone. The calls came out from the spies, “Where had the raid gone?” The queries were met with silence or misdirection. The known leader HeartofFire was being watched; so he waited at Ost Ryngdyr, watching across the battlefield as our team approached the enemy stronghold.

We struck quickly from our secret position and moved rapidly through Dargazag. Every orc and troll in the place wanted to make our entry more difficult, but we were committed and could not turn back. Surprised, Taun met our team at the final hall.

As the creeps were alerted to our presence, our team of Macmerkin, Nidh, Ballblitz, Memyr, Lillyn, Dischord, Jaremir, Vickson, Chiefbigbow, Kitarald, Ozman, Ironhands, and myself defeated the notoriously elusive Cheiftain Taun!

With spiders and dogs working around the corner, Tyrant Durgrat also fell, then a hard fought run back across the Ettemoors brought glory to the Free People! (…at least for the moment.)

For our effort, seven of us that had never met all the Chieftains before (me), shall now be known as “Conqueror of Dargazag”. Yay team! Yay deeds!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rune-keeper Dev Diary: Riders of Rohan

Yay! Here is a Rune-keeper Dev Diary in preparation for the coming expansion!
I will present it exactly as it is found on the lotro site, then I will dissect it while reflecting on what is currently in-game. I will instruct about RK skills as I go.

For the betterment of Middle Earth, the Rangers have decided NOT to move toward Rohan yet. Word has spread that we have another 40 days to get our other obligations in order before the march. New Rohan date is October 15. That is fine; I am still looking forward to Summer festival and have things I could be doing.

Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: Rune-keeper
Good day to all Rune-keepers. This article will go over the improved skills you will receive in the Riders of Rohan expansion as well as cover any changes to skills and traits. First we’ll go over the improved skills:
· Improved Scribe’s Spark– This improved skill will add a potent threat reducing effect.
· Improved Rune of Restoration– Your ‘pet rock’ will gain a power restore effect in addition to its morale over time effect.
· Improved Armour of Flame/Winter/Storm– Each of these skills will add a morale bubble in addition to their normal effects.
Then there are few changes we are making to skills:
· Flurry of Words– Change the evasion reduction to +3% incoming critical chance. That means monsters under the effect of this debuff will be critically hit 3% more often.
· Mystifying Flame– A moderate increase in the damage along with a concomitant increase in the amount of threat reduction.
Finally, there a couple of upgrades to Traits.
· Linnod of Peace– Add -10% healing threat generation effect.
· Rune of Endurance– This Trait will also enhance the Power restoration of the Improved Rune of Restoration.
While none of these changes and additions are earth shattering, we don’t feel that Rune-keepers are in need of major changes at this time. The one thing that we would really like to fix is the issue with the Rune of Restoration falling through floors. While we haven’t been able to fix this as of this writing we are still hopeful of at least a partial fix.


  • DPS in Group – 1 change for a threat reduction, 1 opportunity for a Snowy crit, 1 Fire traited skill gets an increase
  • Healer in Group – 2 changes to give a smidge of power (the rune, and the trait to improve the rune), 1 trait gets a threat reduction
  • DPS or Healer – 1 “oh crap” morale bubble.
The Morale bubble and possibly the DPS threat reduction are probably the only benefits of value for this upgrade. The rest is likely very benign; I will reflect back on it once it gets here.
There are 7 things mentioned in this diary. I will mix in some screenshots of the existing skills as they look at level 75 (these were gathered a few months back and are probably typical for an above average unbuffed RK).
1.    Improved Scribe’s Spark - This improved skill will add a potent threat reducing effect.
Skill change for DPS RK – in group. Scribe’s Spark is one of the two basic lightning skills. It is the one with a 3 second CD. Overall, it is a fine skill. The new feature is “add a potent threat reducing effect”. That might just be a nifty new tool for the RK in a group. As Scribe’s Spark is one of the workhorse skills, its use is a typical part of the DPS rotation. If the threat reduction stacks, it will be a good dynamic to help shift agro away from the RK and back to the tank where it belongs.

Concerning RK threat - Currently, the RK has three options for reducing threat:
a.    Calming Verse – Calming Verse reduced threat by 25%. In a pinch, this handle is the only real handle for dumping agro an in instant, and it lasts for 10 seconds. If you use Calming Verse and still have agro, hope that someone else increases threat because anything else you do will keep pulling agro at this point. (Note that if you are Lightning traited, Calming Verse gives a +20% run speed; whereas Fire traited gives the knockback immunity shown in the pic, and Healing Traited gives Mending Verse as insta-cast.)

b.    Distracting Flame – RK’s are proactive, not reactive. While in DPS mode, this skill will help you not increase agro in a group. Its CD is 30 seconds, but it helps a little.

c.    Improved Rousing Words – While in Healing mode, this skill is a staple. Aside from the two long CD group saves, this is the only group healing skill a RK has. Since it doesn’t build agro and heals everyone, use it as often as possible (20 second CD).  

2.    Improved Rune of Restoration – Your ‘pet rock’ will gain a power restore effect in addition to its morale over time effect.
Skill change for Healing RK – in group. The new “power restore” gets a lot of press, but is it consequential? As a low level RK, it is possible to run out of power. The last time I recall running out of power where it wasn’t a “mechanic: mob wipes out your power” was before RoI, at level 65, nearly a year ago. With Will tied to Tactical Mastery and Power, at high level, RKs do not run out of power. What is potentially attractive about this change though is that a Rune of Restoration heals the group, so it will give Power to others. That will give it some reason to exist.

a.    Currently, a Rune of Restoration heals 50 – 70 morale every 3 seconds, depending on how you are traited. I can guess that power restoration might be similar. Is 20 morale/power regen per second at level 75 something to actually get excited about?
b.   A drawback for the usefulness of this skill… the rock can be used right before the start of a fight, but otherwise, it is usable only by Healing RKs. A DPS RK is attuned to where the RK has no access to the Rune. By traiting 2 deep in Healing, one could always have access to the Rune, but that cuts hard into the effectiveness of a DPS RK and I would recommend against it. Here is a shot of the Healing trait line.

3.    Improved Armour of Flame/Winter/Storm– Each of these skills will add a morale bubble in addition to their normal effects.
Skill change for All RKs – solo or group. The Improved Armour of X skill has my attention. Currently, the Armour of X skill does not get used often. It is a decent skill, but there are three reasons it doesn’t make the rotation as often as it could/should: (i) it is a melee effect and I would rather not be standing so close to an enemy if I can help it, (ii) it Attunes 3 toward Neutral so it will take you strongly out of whatever DPS/Healing you were in, (iii) it has a 3 minute CD.
Basically, this skill is typically an “oh crap” skill, usable when things are breaking down. Putting a Morale bubble on it is a very nice change and it will go from “almost never used” to “used almost every time I get hit hard”.

a.    DPS RK lifeline. Improved Armour of X will be one of the few lifelines a DPS RK has, whereas they currently have none. When attuned, if the DPS RK needs a heal, the RK only has access to Prelude of Hope (120 morale every 5 seconds) or Mending Verse (560 morale + 220 morale every 2 seconds but has a 2s induction) and both pull the RK out of DPS mode. This skill still pulls the RK out of attunement, but right now, the DPS RK has no real morale save when getting hit (a save would be something like… morale pot, stun, Calming Verse, run, Prelude to Hope, hope a tank is nearby).

b.    Other RK morale bubbles? As a primary Healer, the RK has two other morale bubbles. Word of Exaltation (1 target, 90s CD, 6 healing attunement), and Essay of Exaltation (Fellowship target, 5 min CD, the full 9 healing attunement).
4.    Flurry of Words – Change the evasion reduction to +3% incoming critical chance. That means monsters under the effect of this debuff will be critically hit 3% more often.
Skill change for DPS RKs – primarily group.  The Flurry of Words… Have you seen occasionally where it looks like someone just threw out a snow cloud? You know, the one Raid leaders don’t like sometimes because it reduces visibility on the mobs and their ground effects? Yeah, this is the skill.
Currently, I believe the Flurry puts a -3300 Evade on foes in the cloud. The cloud lasts 15 seconds and affects an area around the RK.
Do I use it? It is a situational skill. These days, mobs don’t evade as much, but it feels good knowing that between Finesse and the Flurry, we just won’t miss the target. I use it mostly when a mob has over 300k morale and we will be fighting for a minute, or when there are a bunch of mobs packed together (like the Moors).
The drawback… the area of effect around the RK feels very small. 5 meters? 10? Unless the mobs are coming toward you, you will need to walk into melee range to use it effectively. The tank will give you glaring looks about “being a squishy in his personal space while he is working”.
But, now the Evade debuff is out, and +3% critical chance is in. Is that exciting? 3% critical is roughly equivalent to 1100 critical. A captain’s buff, which can be on all the time, is 1500.
Summation, it is ok but certainly not a game changer. I think the snow effect is pretty so I will still use it unless the leader says I cannot, but the change is fairly benign.

5.    Mystifying Flame – A moderate increase in the damage along with a concomitant increase in the amount of threat reduction
Skill change for Fire Traited RKs – in group.
First of all, +1 for “word of the day” use of “Concomitant”. Go Dev! Yay for words! (It means “associate”. Simple words would have been “a lil more damage plus a lil reduction in threat”.)
Mystifying Flame is the Fire Trait line capstone. Traiting for fire has its purpose, but it takes a certain mindset and LIs built with that mindset. The fire skills are built on longer inductions, longer CDs, and stacking Damages over Time. A good blend of fire skills into DPS rotation is excellent. However, flattening the traited Lightning potential to trait and build LIs for primarily Fire is not appealing to me whenever I need to really perform at a high level. (Fast DPS, stacking rolling lightning crits, with a few Fire and Ice, and being mobile works much better for me.)
Overall, traiting for Mystifying Flame will make the Distacting Flame skill do what it does slightly better: more damage, less threat.

6.    Linnod of Peace – Add -10% healing threat generation effect.
Trait change for Healing RKs – in group. That is nice. This trait is slotted while in RK Healing. The linnods were revamped not too long ago when their association with Calming Verse was disconnected. The healing threat reduction was dropped; now it is back. It feels more like a fix to what was supposed to be there.

7.    Rune of Endurance – This Trait will also enhance the Power restoration of the Improved Rune of Restoration.
Trait change for Healing RKs – in group. Tied to part 2 above concerning the Rune of Restoration, the trait to improve the Rune also gets a bump to restore a smidge more power. Ok, just not interesting.

8.    “we don’t feel that Rune-keepers are in need of major changes at this time”
(Here is the point at which I go into a Rant about my Greatest Pet Peeve and write way more than usual for one column… I am still happy to be a RK, I just get annoyed when I think about this Peeve.)
After RoI release and the characters were sitting at level 75, the RK (as well as the warden) was woefully under-built. Update 6 brought the RK closer to on par with other characters, where it didn’t feel like it was drowning. To give some summary perspective, the DPS increased by about +15 to +20% with the revamp, and the healing by closer to +30% overnight. Yeah, it was way way behind the pace and had not scaled correctly at all... it was like being given a shot of adrenaline the day it was changed.
However, the RK changes typically feel like an after-thought. These “upgrades” for ten levels to level 85 are no exception. The other classes have mixed reviews; some should be really great for Rohan.
My greatest desire is that the RK needs an in-combat rez. The RK is supposed to be able to be traited and built to be either a squishy strong DPS class or squishy strong Healing class (but not at the same time). There are two main Healing classes: RK and Mini. When Healing, RK is nothing like a Minstrel. For one, Minis buff and a RK has only two pre-emptive buffs (“Their Weapons Shall not Harm” = +10% resistance, and Do not Fall to Xelement = reduces some elemental damage for 15s with a 1 min CD). That is all. I can go into "how to be a Healing RK" another day. But RK and Mini are at least as different as a Guardian and a Warden.
Not that I begrudge Captains as they are one of the coolest classes in the game, but even Captains have an in-combat and out of combat rez. A Captain is effective enough to be the tank… has the best buffs… good damage… heals well enough to be main healer in many situations… AND has a rez. But a RK, one of the main two Healer classes, has no combat rez.

The only defense for not having a combat rez is that RKs must “see the future” and use “Do not fall this day”. It has a 10 minute CD. On a break in combat, it is gone. It has a very narrow use. To be successful with it… either you expect that at some point you will lose the tank or the healer (not you) and you have applied the Pre-Rez, or you have in an instant, foreseen that someone else in group was about to die and chose to let them die versus healing them (think "Roots" lil-spider poison). As is more often the case, the hunter got agro for a moment, got one-shotted, and the group is headed for a wipe… unless there happens to be a Captain with you to do what a Healer should be able to do.
So yes, Healing class needs a Combat Rez. Make it a trait, legendary, long CD, whatever. Just make it more playable.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Steed of the Burglar, and cheating in the Moors

As we wait (and wait, mebbe today even...) for Summer festival, here is one of the newer Steeds… the Steed of the Burglar.

He looks fancy in the daytime and super sleek in the night. He also gives me a good segue into mentioning the Steeds’ pages that are right here on The page link will always be right in the header for your convenience to find pictures of the Steed of the Burglar, or any other steed in the game. Go check it out. J

With 15 days until the Riders of Rohan, and a festival wedged in there (presumably), it is time to say goodbye to the Moors for a while.

Here are a few parting images…

As contrast to a shot from a couple of weeks ago from the north, here is a view from the South, looking up the Hoardale River. Hoarhallow village is the only structure seen and is just off my right shoulder as I ride the Prized Isengard Great-horse. The Moors looks peaceful from here.

Memendil and I sit atop Steeds of Minas Ithil, reflecting on what has gone before and what is yet to come.

Chieftain Taun is one of the most elusive NPCs of the Moors. He is a chieftain in Dargazag and is only at his post if the Creeps have all of the Keeps. When that happens, the closest Freep revive circle is Glan Vraig. Dargazag is the Creep stronghold, so it is better watched and is not a very popular “first” target for the Free People and makes Taun especially hard to ever find. While in were-form, I took a picture proving that Taun does exist. (Correction: Friend Lyn tells me that Taun is at his post when the Creeps have TR, not "all the Keeps".)

Oh yes… I did say that I was going to teach you how to cheat in the Moors. Here is how. It is called Multi-box. Link six computers/logins together, create six Blackarrows, have them all act simultaneously. Because six arrows do more damage than one arrow…

I make a point to not be rude or say negative things about other people, but when most everyone, both Creeps and Freeps, agrees on something… a spade is a spade, even though Turbine has its head in the sand and has not implemented a policy. I consider it one of the worst infractions, worse than Gold buying (which is really stupid), and am glad to see unity against it. Unfortunately, multi-boxing is so disruptive, the only chatter in the zone is “where is the multi-boxer so that he might be killed?” and most activity starts to circle around "one" entity. If I were in charge, new policy would be in place and it would be forever banned in PvP zones.

Until another day, I say goodbye to the dormant Rangers: Gelbes and Uirnen. (In theory, when the Freeps are grossly outnumbered, a “ranger quest” should be available to take control of the ranger and try to help even the odds. Having only seen it work once, a long time ago, I think that it is in fact broken at this time.) May Summer Festival come soon.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Steeds, Deeds, and Aegthil

All the Steeds!
One of the coolest things I have been working on lately is my Stable of Horses.

LOOK. For your convenience, It has its own tab right at the top of this blog. 

There are links to pictures of all of the steeds in lotro (or currently, at least 74 of the 89 steeds I have in my stable… and counting, I'm working on it).

You will hear more about it next week also because I am trying to make it an uber Horse site that people actually want to visit! :D Friend Ravanel taught me how to make “Pages” on my blog so that opened up lots of possibilities. And friend Tomeoric taught me some basic html so that I could really sharpen its sleek look.

Give me your feedback and thoughts on it!

With less than 20 days to go and Summer festival about to begin, I made a final press to get through as many deeds as possible. “With a little help from my friends”, a la Beatles, I have been chipping away at it.

Some of the things that got knocked off lately…

Annuminas: Glinghant and Haudh Valandil, 75 Challenge mode. Only Ost Elendil Challenge remains.

Thank you Daweirdo, Morthin, Caramelkr, Rileigh, and Mudflapthefirst!

Fornost: All four wings of it, 75 Challenge mode! I went to Fornost as a young elf, but this was my first adventure back since the revamp. Some of it was surprisingly difficult! I guess that is why it is called “Challenge”.

Thank you Belegnost, Caylia, Nydhogg, Baroon, and Amoniel!

This shot looks way too much like the Moors… watching the horde preparing to roll in on top of us while we just hope for the best.

With the final Fornost boss dead, I can look out over the compound of the enemy knowing it was a job well done.

Dar Narbugud: Getting closer. There are 10 trolls in DN; and the slayer deed requires a killing of 60 trolls. Using a double-slayer-accelerator scroll, that is three full runs through DN (yay math). That isn’t terrible, but with one run down, several deeds were completed already. So basically, 40 trolls (or 20 trolls on double time) stand between me and my Wild Mountain Goat and the title “Saviour of Lothlorien”.

Thank you Riders of Rohan and my friends! This was one of the first times in a long time that I scheduled a raid (so it was meaningful that people showed up, hehe). Yay Nimitar, Macmerkin, Nidw, Macswife, Leirandir, Dandur, Vysion, Aradost, Ubermorgan, Morthin, and Minya!

Gate Crasher: After Nimitar and Dandur lead us through a steam-roll of DN, I arm twisted a few to come kill the two troll guardians of Isengard (finally!). I am now Supergirl, the Gatekeeper! Just as a note… don’t take these trolls lightly; I disregarded their ability lay the smack down and got flattened once (my own fault for bad agro management and running from healer and tank, lol).

Yay for the addition of Jastirria, Minlor, Shorimar, and Taisholae!

Lost Temple: Goodness, for a level 65 instance, the last fight against Ferndur is a doozy. Do not underestimate it. We won, but lost the Challenge mode. See the next picture? The Challenge mode = when you are struck with a nasty disease (yellow eye), you stand near the dead bodies on the ground, the disease explodes in a nasty disease cloud, and the bodies revive and assist the boss. You cannot stay in the cloud or you die. The Challenge is won when every single body is revived and killed. Unfortunately, we didn’t dial back the DPS enough to not kill the boss before we could get all the bodies up and moving. Next time.

Thank you Nimitar, Dirtdiver, Sailanarmo, Nitefox, and Eldjarn!

Hidden Deeds: The only hidden deeds (other than the stupid Golden egg) that I had not done were the Carnivore deed and the Emote deeds. Thank you Lalatheriel for all the meats and Daweirdo for the final stew and emotings. I have finished 13 of 16 emotings.

Carnivore hidden deed: This deed was modified within the past year with the removal of one of the meats from the game, and the Stew of Kings has been substituted.

The 16 emote hidden deeds are: bored, beg, rude, bow, cheer, salute, kiss, scold, laugh, cower, angry, flirt, thank, mock, surrender, confused. Rules: They do not count in instances, they cannot be incremented more than 5 times per day (some are less), they must be done TO you.

Solo! There is not much left that I can actually solo at this point. I soloed Nala-Dum and Lumul-nar to finish the deeds, I made progress on the Eldgang reputation (via Nurz skirmish and a Rift run), and am plodding away at Riddles Beneath the Inn (up to 43 of 83 Riddles).

Saruman: It was not in my scope to beat the Tower of Orthanc T2 before Rohan. That would have definitely cut into my festival time. Lol.

Yay to my Riders of Rohan team that lead us to victory against the Tower of Orthanc T1! Yay team: Vysion, Meledie, Clide, Memendil, Hybridd, Macswife, Dandur, Hahmburglar, Norinrad, Taradanag, and Hendred!

My friend Lothirieth posted something amazing…  A win over Saruman T2; one of the very few in the world. Check her out!

I think that is what it looks like when a Giant Eagle smiles…

From Danania to Aegthil:
I got an interesting comment in the previous column from someone named Aegthil.

Taken back a bit, I had not replied to it yet, and the next day, I discovered this post…
The title alone says so much. Go read what Aegthil says.

In the words of Sally Carrera, “I create feelings in others that they themselves don’t understand, and blah, blah, blah, blah…”
Welcome to my home, Aegthil. You do know you have Competition, yes?

Here is the podcast in which Mysterixox expresses her adoration that I am Awesome…

And here is Goldenstar showing her love…

Are you ready to Bringiton??