Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rohan: Scenes from Rohan, part 1

I enjoy lotro and everything in it, but I have really enjoyed Rohan! While quite a few of my posts since October were Rohan related, I hesitated to reveal too many scenes directly as to not give away the great stories. I will still refrain from saying too much but wanted to share some pictures. (For those who only come to look at the pictures, this post is definitely one for you… though you might not have even read the previous line to know that.)

I started toward Rohan back on rohan-begins. Actually, concurrent to my cursory look around the East Wall from the south of Rohan, I went home to Lorien. I had a nice chat with two of my favorite Runekeepers, Galadriel and Celeborn.

They will stay here in Lorien and protect the borders from obvious Orcs. We have now opened the borders up and outsiders will now not be shot on site. I did not approve, but I am not specifically in charge of the Golden Wood. One of my Lorien friends, Anglamel, promised to look after my flet while I was away.

Galadriel gives me one last blessing in the garden and then I am back underway to Rohan.

This time I decided to take the scenic route by boat.

Another elf named Corudan escorted Horn and Nona and I and we decided to scope out the north of Rohan first at The Wold. Horn and Nona are like oil and water. We sat around telling fireside stories before I ventured toward Langhold. They hardly believed my tale involving Amarthiel, some guys named Mord, and a little old lady. It was such an amazing story!

We scouted camps in the East Wall.

Nona went on ahead, I take one last look, then double back toward the Wold. I will see them again... right?

While things are progressing here in the Wold, I introduce myself to some higher ups that I meet. There are lots of Thanes and Reeves around. I visit Langhold first. It looks like a fine place, and it will probably be around for a long time.

Time to defend the town. Thane Utred sends his wife Cillan and the kids toward the south. Heburga, his daughter, is ready to help us take down some enemies. Utred is not moved enough to let her help. 

Cillan carries a sword, just in case, en route to leave town. I am Supergirl; I refuse a pointy weapon… that’s why I have these! (holds up punchy fists) …and this (rotates palm to reveal an etched RK stone.)

The fight turns badly. Those who are able, leave. Dala threatens to fight me if I stay in Langhold alone. We run. I never noticed before how high I bounce when I am running; I think I will stick to flying. I hope this turns out ok for all involved.

Tune in next time for Part 2…

Friday, January 25, 2013

Crafting toward Mordor with a Universal Toolkit

This article could also be titled craft-leveling in lotro. One of the subtle changes that came about with Update 9 in December-2012 was that crafting now gives leveling XP.

That significantly changed how Team Dana works. You see, I am an adventurer but I have a support staff of 9 lildanas (lil-danas). All of the crafting materials I have gotten in my adventures end up in the hands of the group, who craft with them or horde them away for some future use. With Update 9, that future use is now.

My five main crafters: How big of a deal is the ability to craft-level? At Yule festival 2012 a month ago, the five main lildana crafters were all level 25, now they are level 35 to 38. They sat in the various craft halls nearest to their Guilds and came out for a couple of minutes a day to make crafted relics out of the abundance of materials I found while adventuring. Update 9 opened up leveling opportunities for these lildanas that had no intent to adventure. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the team had an abundance of materials stock-piled and are working through inventory.  

The hobbit quads: The other four lildanas on staff were the hobbit quadruplets, who mainly hung out in Thorin’s Hall as greeters, and had various jobs like “Chief Festival housing item Organizer” (CFO), “Clothes closet Analyst”, “AH Buyer”, and “Danania’s personal loot Assistant” for items that overflowed out of my inventory. All were level 6, having just made it out of basic training and carrying no weapons; now they are level 17 and looking forward to level 20 when I allow them to get Horse Driver’s Licenses at Hengstacer.

Consumers: What we noticed was that Jeweller, Woodworker, Metalsmith, Weaponsmith, Scholar, and Tailor were all Consumers of materials. Ok, technically, Jeweller polishes gems, but then most of those gems are worthless as NPC-fodder; there just aren’t enough uses for polished gems to make it worth keeping thousands of polished gems around. At some point, we will reach an impasse where craft-leveling is not sustainable due to the extreme amount of materials needed to level. We haven’t gotten there yet at sub-level 40.

Creators: Farming and Cooking effectively Create their materials. One could literally self-sustain as a craft-leveler (actually, see Towynia below). My hobbit quadruplets all took up Farming, which was really the first endeavor Team Dana had at farming. Fortunately for the Scholar, one of the three crafts a Scholar knows is also Farming. With all these farmers farming so much, we were soon replete with Dye materials from flower and berry farms, which are used by the Scholar to make new dyes.

Eastemnet Processing: While the crafting team has not run out of materials yet, they have progressed very well over the past month. The metalsmith, weaponsmith, and woodworker use the Eastemnet “Processing” feature a lot. (The tailor also has this feature, but I, Danania, am the Team tailor). It turns the worked material (ingot, plank, leather) into shavings and then back to worked material. There is some loss in the Processing, but at 175 XP per craft hit each way, it is not that hard to rack up a lot of XP with a team that is focused toward the task! 

A very cursory look at Processing indicated that I could get about 45,000 XP out of one stack of 100 Riddermark ore. I didn't bother to calculate the decay function, with the %crit, and the XP gain, but I think that is a good guess. At level 40, it takes 98k XP to level, and at level 50, it takes 188k XP. At some point, it might just become too expensive to level a consuming crafter who doesn't go adventuring. 

Universal Toolkit: Ah-ha! A lotro store item I bought that looks like it was designed for me is the “Universal Toolkit”. The cost is 150 TP. A look at it reveals the subtle reasons why I would buy it. The item can do as well as any crafter tool except the new Eastemnet tools for level 80+.

What makes it better than the crafted tools that my metalsmith could make? It is usable at any level. So, the crafter no longer has to think about what “tier” tools to advance toward; she already has the best tools below level 80, even though she might be only level 1.

And, what else? The Universal Toolkit is Bound to Account. I can only be on one crafter at a time anyway, and they end their time near a Vault each day. The Universal Toolkit gets passed through the Shard Storage and used by every crafter.

The Toolkit was an easy decision for me and one of the best 150 TP purchases I have made.

Towynia, Farmer Girl of Landroval: Oh my… I was amused by the lildanas’ progress in crafting, but then I was floored to meet Towynia, a Cook in the Prancing Pony of Landroval. She has never carried a weapon or killed anything. She bypassed the Intro and found her calling as a Farmer and a Cook. Though she started at the first of the year, she is now level 38, having only ever farmed and cooked. She tells me that she is self-sufficient and the funds she makes as a farmer and a cook fuel her growth. Since it is a Creating Craft (versus Consuming), I have no doubt that she can slowly make enough coin, though if you see her in the Prancing Pony, don’t forget to tip your waitress; they work hard for the betterment of Middle Earth!

            Farmer Girl’s BIO: Losing her family as a child, Towynia grew up in Dale under various foster care.  As a teenager, she spent most days scrounging for food, cooking for travelers, and pan-handling.

After continuous abuse by her foster family, she decided to run away, starting anew in another distant land.  She dreamed of a normal, quiet life, but ran out of food and coin upon stepping into Bree.

Forced again to beg for a living, she tried scraping by in the back alleys of Bree-town.  Falling again into the wrong crowd, she was forced into service by folk of some rather shady nature and character.

 Although waiting on them daily is hard, she continues looking for a way out or a kind and gentle benefactor, as she saves what little coins she makes to continue on her journey.

Dye table: For fun, here is a copy of the table my farmers and scholar are using to know what farming supports what dyes. If it helps you, enjoy. (With all pictures on the site, click it to see a larger version.) Some of the information is abbreviated focusing on what I needed, so if you need more detail, http://lotro-wiki.com/index.php/Dyes is always a great source. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Yule festival’s end, 2012

It feels like I wrote more about Yule festival than most festivals this year! the previous post listed a few more Yule links.

The clincher was that there were a lot of horses and warsteeds to talk about, which got the Steed Gallery fired up (all-steeds).

The lildanas always show up for festival, though the hobbit quadruplets usually stay home. This Yule festival however saw two very important reasons for them to come out.

#1 - Sack of Presents: Everyone who showed up to Yule Festival and did one quest got a sack of presents. It didn’t take us long to figure out that the sack of presents was worth camping out in Frostsbluff to get daily. Gifts we got from the sacks included Festival tokens, a special hat and cloak, stat tomes, Danaish got a hobby horse, and level 25 Danadalyn even won a Tarnished Symbol that she gave me to build my level 85 2nd age LI.

#2 – Festival Quest leveling: The quests were all considered as “on-level” quests. That didn’t do so much for me since I was at level 85, although the LIs all advanced with iXP for each quest. The lildanas were all level 25 or level 6, and never really leave the craft-halls except to come to festival. So, going to festival, it was like they were getting free xp for doing what they planned to do anyway. What a win! That reminds me, craft-leveling, I’ll talk soon about the joy of how crafters get xp just for crafting. J

A few friends: As always, festival is a good time to see people who you might not see often. Here are a few friends who I saw at Yule.

Bluepop has a sparkling good time at Yule.

Mysterixox and I wait in line for the Frostbluff Theater. Myst is the talent behind the Lotro Academy podcast Lotro Academy and thinks I am Awesome. J http://lotroacademy.com/?p=962

Aeronwy and I sport matching Fleet-footed Goats to stroll around the town of Frostbluff.

Betzi and Danaszar brave the winter’s cold to run through the snow toward a snowball fight.

Lildanas: The lil-danas As mentioned, because of the Sack of Presents (and general good time of festivalling), the lildanas showed up for the party. Here are a few parting shots to close Yule 2012.

DanaClaus disappears just before Christmas, muttering something about checking lists and and working off cookie weight. Yule festival is one of his favorites.

Danaish rides her new Hobby Horse around Frostbluff like a hobbit on too much sugar and pipeweed.

DanaOnar, one of the hobbit quadruplets, grips a Spring fest giant flower in one hand and a new Yule mug in the other. She enjoyed the warmth of a Spiral Horned Cloak from one of the Sack of Presents.

Danadelion poses stoically with one of the snowmen who leans his head on her shoulder.

Yule Festival was a great time and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Friday, January 18, 2013

You'll Yule Celebrate, 2012

Ah, Yule festival. Another festival came and went, and like the ones that came before, we celebrated the heck out of it! As always, I will put my stamp on it by writing a festival wrapup. :)

Yule festival 2012 got a lot of notoriety for being called a “grind fest”. The crux of the issue was that the best stuff was gated behind a requirement of having done 120 total quests during the 2012 yule festival. Since we had been at Yule fest last year, there were only repeatable quests, 14 of them per day. That meant that one would have to visit festival at least 8.6 days to be allowed to barter for the Warsteed cosmetic, a couple of the clothing cosmetics, and get the special character portrait ring (wintry-yule-warsteed). The festival was extended by a few days (to make up for a couple of server side issues as it was explained).

So, final tally, visit 9 out of 20 days for the goods.  The only improvement I would have had is that the festival was too short. As a rough rule, I think that visiting one out of three days to get the goods would have been a good target and that festival should last about 28 days. So, the 120 quest number felt ok, but the festival felt too short.

For me, it didn’t “feel” grindy at all since I didn’t travel during the holidays. I would have been remorseful had I been gone for weeks and missed it. It is a possibility since it was a “holiday season” and I am sure that some people got pinched by the shortness of the festival. I can totally empathize with their dilemma. 

During festival time, if I visit Middle Earth, festival is what I do, and sometimes I never leave festival to do anything else. It is like a “vacation” from wherever else in Middle Earth I happened to be.

The previous 2011 Yule festival was far more “grindy” feeling. The reason was that in 2011 I was given unlimited repeats on the quests so there was no push to leave after say, 14 quests. And, Yule fest 2011 was the first yule to offer the “consumable” deeds, in which one gained an emote by using the consumable 300 times. The consumables were costly enough that it took a while to earn enough tokens, there were a bunch of the emotes, and the real kicker was that many of them were on a shared CD timer… of 5 minutes. Bleh.

I wrote about my shock and dismay over the consumables at last festival, youll-yule-festival. I am happy to say that I have enough consumables now to actually finish the deeds. Granted, it might be Spring by the time I can get through all those 5 minute timers, but at least it will be before next Yule fest. :)

I enjoyed going back and reading about the previous Yule festivals at youll-yule-festival from 2011 and fun-of-yule-past which was a look at 2010.

Two of my favorite recurring parts were the Bumble Monster and the Snowman Army Invasion.

2012: The Bumble Monster:
Here is an excerpt I wrote in 2010. Back then, the abominable snowbeast had not come to town. I went to the Misty Mountains and invited the Bumble Monster and his friends to come join us for Yule festival.

"2010: The Bumble Monster...
Oh Bumble Monster of the North!

It is tough to be the antagonist, isn't it?
You just got a bad rap! A little bad publicity set you back generations.

Those deer shouldn't have been wandering nearby. I know! Deer's good eatin'!
You probably wouldn't want the red-nosed one anyway. I hear he's a misfit."

Sure enough, he came in 2011 and again this year! He pretends to be grumbly but I'm glad to wish him /cheer each day.

2012: Danania's Army:
My snowman army is growing! In 2010, the snowball fields had been established. I went "William Wallace" and inspired an army of devout snowmen to march toward the town.

"2010: Danania's Army
Arise my frozen minions!

The north wind blows bolstering our numbers!
We shall usher in the winter fest and fight back the sun!

"I *am* Danania Darzil! And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as free snowmen... and free snowmen you are! What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?" ~Danania Wallace"

By 2011, my undercover-general Virgil Greenfield had enlisted visitors to Frostbluff to create new snow-life, even closer to town! By 2012, you see that the snowman army has breached the gate and prepares for the in-town siege! By 2013, we hope to overthrow the corrupt Frostbluff mayor and establish a new rule and order. 

I will be back next time to wrap up with my yule festival scrapbook!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rohan: 85 RK building a LI weapon

In working through the details of what to do at level 85, I needed a new Legendary item. Several LIs will be in order, but clearly the DPS weapon was the first.

I will break down the build and explain how it differs from the Legendary Item I built in the RK Legacy Guide. legacies-for-rk-stones

Legacies for DPS Stone
In the previous, I was aiming for an all-purpose DPS stone. I had put it out there that probably the best bet would be to take 6 of the 9 legacies from...
* “Fire skill Damage, Fury of Storm Damage, Chill of Winter Damage, Wrath of Flame Damage over Time, Fury of Storm Critical multiplier, Finesse, Vivid Imagery targets, Chill of Winter Debuff Duration, Distracting Flame CD”.

So, what did I do at level 85?

What I realized was that when I solo I use primarily Lightning with a smattering of Frost and rarely planted my feet long enough to spin off many Fire skills. When I go to the Moors as DPS, it is the same, with mostly quick strikes. When I go on Raids, I would mix in a bit more Fire and Frost, but even then it is situational and often out of a sense of duty because my level 75 LIs supported Fire. The reality is that I wanted a more driven Lightning approach and still keep my fundamental RK build similar (morale, mastery, critical, mitigations). With the Update 9 modifications to "skill interupt", it has become slightly more difficult to use skills with long inductions, making fire RK-ing (and healing) just a bit more difficult.

I decided that Lightning approach would benefit from (1) Fury of Storm Damage, (2) Fury of Storm Critical Multiplier, and (3) Finesse. The Fury of Storm Damage is direct damage for lightning skills. The Fury of Storm Critical Multiplier is just that; it is what supports the 10-15k hits. Finesse cuts through an opponent’s ability to defend himself by reducing the opponent’s resistance, block, parry, and evade.

That leaves 3 more legacies. When traited in Lightning (Solitary Thunder 7 traits), Frost skills also get the same +21% dps bonus as lightning does. The next best trait for me was to capitalize on the Frost with (4) Chill of Winter Damage, which fit nicely into a lightning skill rhythm and the traiting. “Vivid Imagery Targets”, the lightning AOE, is nice but expensive to advance and limited benefit with the skill having a 3 minute CD. 

To fit my build, I then opted to do something to further maximize lightning. I went with Stats legacies rather than the straight non-lightning DPS legacies. These stats benefit me in every situation whereas any other legacy was going to be very situational. At level 85, the stat legacies aren’t entirely trivial. They begin at +52, so (5) +52 Will and (6) +52 Fate.

What did those stats do at rank 1?

+52 Will gives +1.6% increased damage, 156 power, and +0.3% resistance (& 624 nCPR).

+52 Fate gives +0.2% increased crit chance (& +78 ICMR, +66 ICPR).

Bear in mind, that even with the legacies at Tier 6, some legacies will only ever be rank 1. There just aren’t really enough points to go around after you have sunk points into the Tactical Damage Rating of the stone.

Knowing that, any “Crystal of Remebrance”, which adds a legacy to a LI, will probably only ever become a rank 1 legacy. I got a Crystal as part of the pack when I bought RoR earlier this year. So, rather than add another minimally used legacy that would have no points to advance it, I added (7) +52 Vitality. The base stat legacy…

+52 Vitality gives +156 morale, +1.1% Tactical mitigation, +0.7% Physical mitigation, and +0.3% resistance (& +374 nCMR)

One thing I would never do is put Healing legacies on a DPS stone. Another thing I would never do is put “Battle Attuned Skill power cost” on anything. I now have 11,000 power when unbuffed and do not feel like I am trying much to get it; it is not directly one of my 4 pillars (though the Will needed to establish Mastery drives my power pool up).. Using skills nonstop, I have not run out of power since RoI. Part of the skill rotation uses skills that return power (like Improved Sustaining Bolt). I spoke with a friend who still slots this legacy, and his answer was that he can run out of power and has a Fire build. To each her own; do what is best for you!

Relics for DPS Stone
I would have chosen the same relics regardless of whether it is a DPS stone, Healing Stone, DPS Bag, or Healing Bag. Looking back at the 4 pillars of morale, mastery, critical, & mitigation, the greatest impact a relic could have might be in Morale, and I take advantage of the other bonuses when they support Morale. The reality is that a given piece of gear for RK might have +150 Will and other good bonuses, which is way more impact than a relic would have; however, if you swap out that Will-focused piece for a Morale-focused piece you will really miss the large gear bonuses that were built for the RK. It is an optimization question of benefits.

That said, relics are really neat, and you could optimize them many different ways. The Relic Guide @ update-6-relics-and-virtues gave a lot of detail about the different relics. Since the Guide was written, the Tier 9 relics and True Relics are more of the same, just slightly improved. If you have the relics and shards to make better relics great, and if not, get the best you are interested in affording.

If I were trying to further maximize Lightning DPS at the expense of morale, there are some real legitimate contenders in the relics. I would probably take the Setting of Endings (+7.5% devastate magnitude, and +Critical), Gem of Charity (+Tactical Mastery), and Rune of Wisdom (-2.5% attack duration, +Will). With Morale as my guiding force, I chose the relics that had the most Morale instead (see picture).

Star-lit Crystals
I have never in all the time I have been playing won an on-level star-lit crystal. So, when a 30% coupon came along, I bought three for this LI because I really wanted to see the effect. What impact does it have?

Here is what the 2nd Age level 85 RK Stone looks like. No legacy points have been added to the ratings in the table. You can see that the gain is about 4.8% for 3 stars. 

      The star-lit crystals also affect other variables on the LI. For example, on mine, each +1 star gave +1 to the stat legacies. I didn't check to see if other variable legacies were affected (finesse might be one).

Increased damage %
Tactical Damage Rating
DPS number
Base Stone

1 star
2 stars
3 stars

Of course, all stones need a title. I used “Will of Eldar Days 2”. It can be bartered by the Quartermasters in Rohan (I got mine in Snowbourn for example). It gives +37 Will. If you know of one that might fit the build better, do let me know. This one was the best I saw.

37 Will gives +1.1% increased damage. 111 power, and +0.2% resistance (& 444 nCPR).

All told, between the title, the legacies, and the passives (which were just a function of luck), this stone now named Supertra ("Super Rock") offers a very respectable +162 Will, +95 Fate, and +56 Vitality while still maximizing Lightning and the morale opportunities of the Relics. I think it turned out ok and met the objective :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Hobby-horse, lotro’s 100th Steed

Danaish and I discussed whether the Hobby-horse is in fact a “horse”.

Since she won one in a sack of presents at Yule Festival 2012, she was clearly in favor of it. To be included in the Steed Gallery (all-the-steeds) though, I needed better information.

After careful consideration, the Hobby-horse rates as a Mount for one primary reason: it shows up on the Skills “Mounts” tab, the same as all the rest of the steeds. :D

The hobby-horse has one of the slowest speeds at +40%. …I mean, it is a stick with wheels after all, what did you want? Now, I could not imagine riding into combat on a Hobby-horse, when a well-dressed Warsteed is under me (look around the gallery link above or the site for lots of warsteeds: warsteed-cosmetic-looks, flying-warsteedcaptain, victory-and-dol-baranwarden, wintry-yule-warsteed). However, for tooling around festival, it is certainly a conversation starter!

So, I bring you, the “Hobby-horse”, which has a certain irony as it is the 100th steed in the Gallery. 

As nice as Danaish looks riding around on a stick, the Hobby-horse is even more fetching when ridden by a hobbit. Tomeoric sends these two pictures…

In new Bree…

In Evendim…

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rohan: Eorl's Hallow

Eorl’s Hallow is a memorial in Rohan that I really enjoyed visiting that I could have very easily overlooked.

Fortunately, the deed “Runes, Tombs, and Monuments of the Eastemnet” required me to find it. The deed gives the typical goodies and the title “Seeker of Rohan’s Ruins”. More than that though, Eorl’s Hallow is just beautiful and worth the trip. Eorl’s Hallow is located at 45.6S, 51.2W., south of Harwick in the Wold.

Reading directly from the travelogue brochures…

The lorebook says that Eorl was the founding King of Rohan.
 “The son of Léod of the Éothéod, and founder of Rohan. When Gondor was assailed beyond hope, they sent north to Eorl for aid, and he came south in force to rout the enemies of the South-kingdom. As reward, Steward Cirion granted him and his people the land of Calenardhon to dwell in.”

And from Lotro-wiki…
Eorl's Hallow, also referred to as "Memorial of Eorl" on the map of The Wold [45.6S, 51.2W] This memorial was erected on the site where he fell in battle.”

The author at lotro wiki wrote an awesome travel guide about Eorl’s Hallow. Had I not just been there, I would have felt like I had from the author’s writing. It is packed like a mini-biography with information I did not know about Eorl.

Here is the skyview. Two guards stand watch over the memorial. They allowed me to enter and learn more.

 This is a shot of some of the stone carvings depicting Eorl’s life.

I often see the world through numbers and optimized strategy and sometimes I miss the artistic side. After seeing the monument, I had to investigate further and enjoyed learning about him.

Enjoy your ride!

UPDATE: I was alerted to a most excellently done video that I wanted to make sure you got to see.
The Ride of Eorl. "Based on a poem by Cennwyn (Landroval server), BBB brings you The Ride of Eorl. Featuring a cast of thousands. Well, lots anyway. More than three." 

It is a beautifully done video starring lotro characters; it is not to be missed. Follow the link.