Friday, July 27, 2012

Quest Pack Review: Enedwaith


The rangers have been called to their leader Aragorn. They travel south into Enedwaith, a land where northerners are distrusted and where the white wizard is seeking allies. Will you be strong like an ox and swift like an eagle?


Entering to the north of the zone from Eregion, you'll come to the first encampment. But wait? Why are there so few quests around? Don't fear, because Enedwaith is one of the first zones you'll come across that uses Turbine's new instancing technology. As you complete quests, new npcs might pop up (only visible to you) that offer new quests. In this case, you'll get access to 2 more npc's after you rescue them.


As you quest in these lands, you'll earn reputation with 2 factions and in one occasion have to make a choice.  It's not quite clear it is, but as long as you don't do any repeatables before completing the other quests at the region, you'll make the (what is considered by most including me) correct choice.
Enedwaith is all about different clans and the spirits they revere. This zone is quite varied, expect to see rolling hills, haunted marshes, forested ridges and snowy peaks. Fight the influence of Saruman, who is now openly opposing the Free Peoples and the Draigh-Luth, whose name might hide more than you might think.
You will also meet a clan of a most unlikely race, who are a bit more fierce than their brethren.

The quest packs include 2 3-man instances and 2 6-man ones located all over the world and one raid in Enedwaith. These are gated by the In Their Absence Quest-chain, where you investigate several strange disappearances. All are lvl 65 instances.
Once you reach lvl 65, you'll receive a letter starting off the chain and unlocking the first of the instances: Northcotton Farm.



In their absence: Northcotton farm (3-man) (Evendim)


Investigate the disappearances in Evendim. Most mobs are spiders and undeads, though there is also the first boar in Evendim!
The instance itself is fairly straight-forward. As you kill trash, you reach the several bosses which are:
-tank 'n spank
-featuring one player getting a debuff which makes him drop poison clouds, hobbits come to eat spoiled pies and need a /slap to calm down. This is probably one of the few non-living bosses in Lotro.
-One familiar sight who has a few interesting attacks but is otherwise tank 'n spank.


In their absence: Stoneheight (3-man) (North Downs)


This old settlement has been overrun by goblins. Pretty much the same as always with trash mobs interspersed with bosses.
 All bosses here are tank 'n spank so not so much to say about this instance.


In their absence: Lost Temple (6-man) (Trollshaws)


Explore an old temple in the Trollshaws. As with every instance, trash is spread out between the bosses.
A dual-boss and  a boss where it's actually not that interesting to go all-out dps because of certain effects he has.


In their absence: Sâri-surma/ Glacier Fortress (6-man) (Forochel)


In this icy fortress, a death-monger has taken to resurrecting wildlife. One bear is highly persistent and won't let his defeat stop him. The 2nd (or 3rd) boss summons adds that will occasionally buff him. The final boss can knock you off his platform easily so make sure to fight with your backs to something.


In their absence: Ost Dunhoth (12-man raid) (Enedwaith)

I haven't run this one yet but have asked people who have about their experiences. The raid consists of 4 wings (like other raids but this one isn't split) that must be completed before attempting the final wing. Every wing stands for a certain debuff so make sure to bring appropriate pots. The bosses mostly require interesting tactics so make sure everyone is briefed beforehand (and has brought enough pots).
 The final 2 bosses include an old enemy (almost as old as the one from Northcotton) and the last boss will at one point transform and call adds from the previous 4 instances.


Price/Value: 3.5/5 (You'll want either this or Mirkwood. Though the five levels might be doable with lothlorien and then just skipping to Dunland. 5 instances, though not run that much.)
Storyline: 3.5/5 (Helping out the clansmen and becoming one of them in thought and act. Some nice stuff here.)
Quest Progression: 4/5 (Using Turbine's "new" technology, on one side it becomes more strict and focused, on the other there's less skipping if you get bored.)
Atmosphere: 3.5/5 (Quite varied and good-looking in places.)

Overall: 14.5/20
The 5 instances are nice to have (if you ever run them), atmosphere is cool and there's some interesting quests. Kind of a hard choice to make between this and Mirkwood.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fornost changes: Review Update

In one of the recent updates, Fornost was changed from a single non-scaling instance to 4 'wings', which scale through levels 30-75. First you only have the water wing. As each wing is completed, you unlock the next one.

Wraith of Water (lvl 30-75)



In this first  instance, you'll fight some classic orcs, wargs and birds. Not much to say about the part before the first boss.
The fist boss can summon adds and heal them which isn't too annoying as long as you kill the adds before he summons more as too much of them can swarm you.
The second part features water that puts a silencing debuff on you and has you battle water-ghosts. Once you reach the Wraith of Water, you'll probably have gotten used to fighting on dry land.
The wraith itself is an archer who occasionally breaks down walls to open up a bigger battleground. The silencing water is here as well and forces you to jump from stepping stone to stepping stone.


Wraith of Earth (lvl 30-75)




The second instance is much like the first instance, but featuring orcs, trolls, goblins and pale-folk. The first boss will summon adds from the watching crowd until all are dead. Then it's a lot of trash killing, going into the tower, more trash and finally reaching the wraith.
The Wraith of Earth will fight you one-on-one but will occasionally awaken stone statues, summoning adds of a troll with pale-folk. Be warned as he can hit quite hard.


Wraith of Fire (lvl 30-75)


The 3rd instance is, even though the level is the same, a step up in difficulty from the first 2. Apart from the bosses, things pretty much stay the same. The first one is a ghost who will, from time to time, summon adds that give him an absorbing shield.
The second boss is one that fights you in an arena and calls down adds until about 40 are present, which can overwhelm you easily. (Or give you lag)
Then it's on into the tower, killing flame wights. Once you reach the top, the fight with the Wraith of Fire is pretty straightforward. Once in a while he'll create everlasting flames in an area of the battlefield which forces you to fight outside it.


Wraith of Shadow (lvl 30-75)


This final instance is less straight-lined as it features a lot of splits. There're 4 bosses in here (2 of them are skippable). Just make your way to the tower. Once inside there's 2 bosses you have to kill.
The first boss has 3 wargs which lose their invulnerability as you kill the one that hasn't. Once the boss is down you can proceed. The Wraith of Shadow has several torches that need to be lighted (while lighting a torch spawns adds) to be able to defeat him.


 The instances themselves are kinda fun though in the end not that special.
The old score of the North Downs was: 12/20
Adding these 4 instances which I enjoyed but which are sadly not run that much, I'm raising the score by .5, making for 12.5/20


For the North Downs review: http://gatetokadath.blogspot.be/2012/05/quest-pack-review-north-downs.html

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quest Pack Review: Mirkwood


Once an expansion pack, it's now listed as a quest pack. It shares the levelling range of 60-65 with Enedwaith. As a note, this is actually the southern part of Mirkwood. Northern Mirkwood isn't in game yet and isn't expected to be in a while.



As you land on the shores of Mirkwood, you'll immediately notice the barricades. It's become a big invasion zone for the elves against the dark fortress of the necromancer. Note that if you've been following the epic story, you'll be in a layered instance (like you had with Moria). Once that's completed (make sure to do all the quests), you'll find yourself still in the landing zone.

Quests progress from hub to hub, taking you to a haunted inn, spooky marshes and eventually deep within the fortifications of the Enemy. Quests here remain the usual gathering, scouting and killing quests. The story usually deals with undermining the enemy, saving troopers and stopping the enemies latest evil plot. Some deal with the past of the places you're at and can get quite interesting.

Mobs here include the obvious orcs and goblins, soldier of the Enemy, and wildlife, including spiders, bats and more magical wisps and ghosts.









Mirkwood is large and varied in atmosphere and has
some awesome locations. The forest is spooky and
dark, even when the sun's out. The fortress and
other strongholds of the enemy radiate evil and have
some really nice interiors. Makes me want some of
those decoration for my house.

The quest packs include 3 3-mans, a 6-man and a raid. All drop Dol Guldur Barter Tokens. They're not run that much though.



Dungeons of Dol Guldur (3-man)


A medium-length 3-man instance in which you venture inside the Dol Guldur dungeons to free prisoners. This instance features prisoners to be freed, who will then fight alongside you. It also has barrels of sleeping gas to put dangerous trolls to sleep. Once you've cleared the wings and try to escape, you have to battle a boss while trying to keep as many prisoners alive as you can.


Sword-hall of Dol Guldur (3-man)


One room, 3 bosses. Normal mode means alternating waves of enemies with a boss until you've killed three bosses. In challenge mode, it's a big fight with all 3 bosses at the same time.

Warg-pens of Dol Guldur (3-man)


A straightforward area. Bosses are tank-and-spank. The wargs can eat slabs of meat to fully heal and get a buff though it's not that much. You'll actually want them to go eat the meat to complete the challenge.


Sammath Gul (6-man)


This instance takes place in the former chambers of the Necromancer. Watch out with the bonepiles as you don't want to get too close and spawn adds.
The bosses can get quite complex so make sure to listen to your leader (as I know you all do).

Barad Guldur (12-man)


The biggest tower in Dol Guldur. This raid features 3 (of which 1 dual-) bosses that all have interesting tactics. One lowers the threat of the guy he attacks, the other is a dual-boss with annoying debuffs and the last is one I won't even mention to avoid spoilers. A neat raid for sure.


Price/Value: 3.5/5 (You'll want either this or Enedwaith. Though the five levels might be doable with lothlorien and then just skipping to Dunland. 5 instances, though not run that much.)
Storyline: 3.5/5 (The militaristic elves are plain awesome. Dol Guldur feels like the better parts of Angmar.)
Quest Progression: 3.5/5 (Quests go from hub to hub as with all post-moria packs. Some hubs feel kinda dull though.)
Atmosphere: 4/5 (Dark and with spiders, just like in the books. Dol Guldur is awesome.)

Overall: 14.5/20
One of 2 choices. The 5 instances are nice to have (if you ever run them), atmosphere is cool and there's some interesting quests.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

4 Lotro plug-ins I use

As with a lot of games, Lotro allows for plugins to change some minor (or a lot) of things about the game.
While they're not needed at all for play, there are some nice ones that might make life easier.

I'm listing the ones I'm using as those are the ones I know best.
http://www.lotrointerface.com/ is the site I get them all from.


Buffbars


This neat plugin adds a new way to show the active effects on you. It makes it much easier to track cooldowns and  dispellable effects. Another function this has is that you can make certain effects trigger a skill, which is useful for auto-removal of certain debuffs.

Moormap


Despite the name, this one has near every map in lotro available. What it does is  add a whole bunch of extra information to the maps, including npc locations, boss mob locations and other things that are nice to know. There's also the option to add your own notes and a filter list to only show the things you want.

Palantir


Adds 4 buttons that light up when a certain type of debuff is on you, that when clicked activate a determined skill. It also adds a health and power bar more centrally to the screen without being disturbing.

Songbook


Ever wondered how some of those people play difficult songs without breaking a sweat? They use this plugin of course (or they're just that good).
This enables you to make a list of .abc files (try www.thefatlute.com for a lot of them) that can be played with the press of one button.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quest Pack Review: Lothlorien


Out of Moria into the golden woods of Lothlorien. Finally a place to rest!


When exiting Moria, you'll find yourself in the Dimrill Dale, which is still part of the Moria QP. After that one quest point though, you'll get closer to the golden woods of Lothlórien.
It used to be that you needed to get acquaintance with the Galadhrim to enter. This feature was taken out though, so people could freely explore the peaceful lands.



After the initial orc-slaying quests, we enter the woods proper. Quests here are quite spread out and have you hunt, gather and examine things all over the forest. Gather flowers, sing to trees or hunt some meat for the festival. A change of pace from the other quests for sure, though they may not be to everyone's liking. The orcs have their camps too close to the woods now, so warriors can test their skills against them.

Many animals live within the forest, some protected (risk the elves wrath if you hunt them) and others not. Aside from that there're always orcs to drive away.
Once you befriend the elves, you will get to enter Caras Galadhon, the sacred center of the forest. The quests here involve a lot of running around, trying to find your way around the flets and can honestly be quite annoying sometimes. (I've fallen to my death here more than in the entirety of Moria)

The quest pack includes 4 instances of which 2 also get featured in the epic story. One of these instances is a 12-man raid. Note that each of these instances is in Moria, but is counted as a Lothlorien dungeon for rep, token and quest pack purposes.


The mirror-halls of Lumul-Nar (3-man)


One of 2 instances you'll have seen in the epic story and of which I'm not 100% sure if they can be repeated for free. The chasms under the top of Zirak-zigil have been used by the old dwarfs to construct an ingenious system of mirrors and reflections to light their halls. The merrevail and their mistress wish to bring darkness to their lairs though and it's your task to stop them.

This instance features big light-reflection puzzles in which you have to turn the mirrors to their correct positions to get further in.


The Water Wheels: Nalâ-dûm (3-man)


The 2nd of the 2 instances featured in the epic. The great wheels of this big canal system have stopped turning. This one can get annoying if you don't know what you're doing as there are many levers and valves to be used to open certain ways. Apart from that, the instance is pretty straightforward.


Halls of Crafting (6-man)


Once a great forge of the dwarves, the orcs now use it to make their own weapons. This one consists of a pretty straightforward dungeon, killing trash in between the bosses.

The bosses themselves consist of tank and spank, with some minor features for flavor, like flames spewing from below or buff locations. Nothing really special.


Dâr Narbugud (12-man)


One of the longer raids in the game as it still remains unbroken. I've never completed this one and the wiki says it can take up to 4 hours, which I believe is a correct assessment.
Deep under the mines of Moria, in the deepest pit of Middle-Earth, nameless things stir, looking to ascend into the light and take over. I won't go into much detail but most of the bosses are interesting and some will take good coordination.


Price/Value: 3/5 (You can easily do without this pack, though if you don't like Moria, bump the score up to 4 as this'll make it easier to get out early.)
Storyline: 3/5 (There's some interesting tidbits here and there. Tree-singing is awesome. Meeting lady Galadriel is as well.)
Quest Progression: 3.5/5 (Some quests happen all over, which can be annoying, though the zone itself isn't that large.)
Atmosphere: 4/5 (The golden woods and Caras Galadhon offer nice and relaxing views. The orc camps in the nw are somewhat less interesting.)

Overall: 13.5/20
Not a must-buy, though not a pack to avoid either. It's optional, though people not liking Moria usually like this one and gives them the opportunity to skip a lot of it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Review of Moria: Conclusion




Overall Moria:

Price/Value: 4.5/5 (There's sadly no way around Moria except for the skirmish grind, though even with an alternative, you'd want to get it. The instances are run a lot.)
Storyline: 3.5/5 (Over half of the zones have an interesting backstory. Some chains are quite nice.)
Quest Progression: 3.5/5 (Quest progression is decent as you mostly move from quest hub to quest hub.)
Atmosphere: 4/5 (Moria's atmosphere is great. See the fallen glory of the greatest dwarven halls ever built.)

Overall: 15.5/20

Moria is a pack you have to get. The quests are decent, atmosphere is great and the instances are among the best in the game.

You have the option to get the quest pack (includes quests and instances) for 1495tp or the expansion for 2495tp.

The quest pack is enough to get through though the expack gives the following more:
-skirm soldier level upgrade (though the isengard expac has the higher upgrade)
-runekeeper and warden classes
-character slot
If you have the tp, get the expansion because the net cost is lower, else get the quest pack.

Review of Moria: Instances


In this final part of the Moria review, I'm going to take a look at the instances.
With a total of 9 instances excluding skirmishes, li instances and repeatable instances from the epic story, Moria offers about the most instances in the game. A lot of these instances are run, some more than others.
Note that 3 of the instances that happen in Moria are part of the Lothlorien quest pack, so those will not be included.

Rewards


Rewards for each instance include barter items for the moria armour sets, relics and ixp runes. Some drop rare 2nd or 1st age li's, bright tokens of nimrodel, ...

Class quests


Each class has a class quest inside one of these dungeons. The reward for these quests are usually quite good and involve an extra boss battle. Make sure people know you want to do your class quest.

The Forgotten Treasury (lvl 54)


The first of the instances that will be available to you. This ancient vault was used to store treasure, but now it is the home of many vile orcs. Moria raised the bar for Turbine in terms of zone and quest design and the instances aren't no different. This instance features classic puzzles and collectible items to weaken a boss as well as a more classic tank and spank battle at the end. (Though it is pretty much a requirement to pull the 2 final bosses apart.)


The Grand Stair (lvl 56)




Grand Stair or GS for short takes place in a stairway, giving access to many levels of Moria (though I don't think you can actually use it as a shortcut). This is one of the easier instances in Moria featuring many bosses and thus many rewards. Bosses range from classic tank and spank to some that incorporate more unique features, like a troll that can be kept in check with drums (make sure to have a minny or someone else who can play them!)


Forges of Khazad-dûm (lvl 58)


In the Flaming Deeps you can find these ancient dwarf-forges. This instance features 2 different items to be gathered. Kegs to blow up obstructions and water pouches to cure fire wounds. The bosses sometimes call out the name of a specific player on who they're preparing a special attack. Makes sure you know what to do when this happens.


Fil Gashan (lvl 58)


This instance, located in the flaming deep involves the muster hall for the orc armies, a place where one should not alert the guards. Sentries patrol the way and if they spot you, they'll run to bells to summon reinforcements. Luckily, there are uniforms scattered about that allow you to dress up and fool the sentries. Most bosses here are tank and spank and summon adds. The last boss requires careful pulling to get him into traps or other positions to allow him to be damaged.


The Sixteenth Hall (lvl 58)


Once a hall where laborers lived and worked, it is now overrun by orcs and goblins, though a mysterious disease has spread and transformed them. Most bosses here are tank and spank. The last boss has a lot of weak gredbyg with him who can get annoying fast, especially if the mushrooms spawn, some of which buff them.


The Dark Delvings (lvl 58)


Another fungus-ridden instance. In the deepest depths of Moria, light rarely finds its way. This instance features darkness that grants a debuff on you and a buff on monsters and, luckily, runestones granting light, having the opposite effect. Boss fights are mostly kiting-based as you'll want them to go into the lights that turn on and off. Be careful when getting knocked off the platform as in the second fight, it takes a while to get up and in the 3rd fight, you're dead. Make sure to have a good tank.


Skûmfil (lvl 58)


The trash pit of moria, a lot of critters have started eating the garbage and some of them have gotten quite big! This instance features 2 separate ways, each with different bosses and each bestowing half of a key. Once the key is complete you can enter the pit down to fight the spider queen. This should take about 3 runs total. You'll also find groups of enemies fighting each other, so careful attacking can get you to fight only some weakened enemies. Bosses here are mostly spank and tank.


Filikul (raid) (lvl 58)



Also known as turtle soup, this is the easiest instance in moria and the easiest raid in the game. One turtle, 12 people and as much dps as possible while the tank keeps him in place. If you see one forming, don't be afraid to join because as long as you can go dps mode, you're fine. Is  Run a lot because of easy medallions and other rewards.


The Vile Maw (raid) (lvl 58)



It's time to beat up the watcher properly. This raid features many different stages which I will not explain. It's quite difficult so make sure to follow directions. The watcher is one of the hardest (if not the hardest) raids in the game.



Overall Instances:

Price/Value: 5/5 (A lot of instances and some among the most run in the game. )
Storyline: 4.5/5 (While it isn't always lore-appropriate, these instances feature interesting story concepts and backgrounds.)
Boss fights: 4/5 (Some boring bosses, but a lot of interesting or special/epic looking ones. 2 of the raids have complicated tactics. )
Atmosphere: 4/5 (Some of the more epic locations in the game. Extremely varied as well.)

Overall: 17.5/20


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The elven paradox

In popular fantasy culture, you'll find elves or an elf-like race in almost any setting.
Most of the time, they're peacefully inclined, live one with nature, have long or infinite lifespans and behave pretty mysterious.

One of their common traits baffles me though and that is that in some stories/settings, they dislike iron.
Combine this with their love of nature and, while at first sight nothing might be wrong or contradictory, we reach what I call the elven iron-versus-wood paradox.

Here's how I build up the problem:


  1. Elves love trees, they wish to not harm them and might attack anyone trying to do so.
  2. Elves despise iron and usually anything that's made from it.
  3. Elves build wooden houses, use wooden armor and make wooden weapons
  4. Why would any logical thinking creature not see the benefits iron creates as a replacement for the wood they get from cutting their own trees?

Some might argue that to meld the iron into its desired shape, you need fire, which uses wood to be burned.
Except there's:
  1. natural fire resources from volcanoes,...
  2. other flammable materials that can be used as fuel: oil, gas even droppings work
  3. magic, as elves are highly magical, there has to be a way they can sing to the iron to shape itself or something.
While number 2 might seem bad for the pollution, it doesn't count for the many elves that use fire for other sources, such as cooking, jewelry (read: rings of power), glass,...

This means that any elf denying alternate solutions to this problem are hypocrites and selfish. They neglect their people the advantages of scientific advancements because it is *cough* evil. No explanation given.