Lore-mastery is a weekly column by Psychobabble of Imladris, focussing on lore-master news and end game play.

I was so looking forward to jumping on Bullroarer and trying out the new stuff. I wanted to actually get to play some new end game content, get a bit of an insight into the new gear system, take a look at the new raid and get some early tips on it, have a chance to play with some players from other servers and mix around a bit. So I downloaded the client as soon as it was available, hit the character copy, copied my LM over and waited for the “in progress” message to finish. And I waited. And waited. And waited. And then I went to bed and when I woke up…

NOOOO!!! The character copy tool is listed as a beta and they explicity say that they will not wipe failed transfers to let you try them again. So I’m completely unable to transfer my lore-master to bullroarer which is depressing. I could, theoretically, roll a new lore-master and use the Eyes and Guard tavern to auto level up, but i’d be playing such a gimped char in terms of class traits, gear and virtues that I’m not sure I could be bothered. Sad panda.

So I’m going to have to do what everyone else does and rely on screenshots and snippets that make it onto the forums to get info about the beta. In that vein, I’m going to take a look over the three update 5 lore-master armour sets linked in this post to see if we can get any tips as to what to aim for in Update 5.

The stats

The first thing to note is that all three sets have the same stats. And those stats are a pretty sizeable upgrade from the Draigoch set. As you can see from my updated gear spreadsheet (see the L75 armour page) the total set has more of every stat than the Draigoch set, other than a slightly reduced amount of tactical mastery (the replacement for outgoing healing and tactical offence) and finesse. It has a sizeable chunk of extra vitality and direct morale – in total you’ll get an extra 600 morale by wearing this set. It’s only a very slight increase in will though, the increase in stats is almost entirely in fate, vit and morale, indicating that they’re looking at broadening our stat base and not just pumping up will to ever higher levels. I would expect that this trend will be reflected throughout the rest of the gear – upgrades that increase our power not just by getting more will, but by giving us better combinations of the different stats, especially vitality/morale.

Iordur set – Yellow line

This set is designed to work with the yellow debuffing/cc line. For that reason, I’m guessing it’s meant to be the raiding/grouping set of choice and if the new raid or instances actually has some situations where double cc-ing is useful, then it’ll be pretty decent – for those of us without the old DN set anyway.

3-set bonus: -60s Call to the Valar cooldown

Call to the valar (CttV) is a great skill, no question about it. And it’s certainly got synergies with the yellow line. As I outlined in this post, the best part of CttV is its ability to reset the cooldowns on your core CC skills which can be extremely handy in recovering a CC situation which got messed up by someone breaking a mez, or something resisting or just responding to a mass wave of adds which one round of bane flare/herb lore can’t take care of. But I’m not at all sold on this bonus. By its nature, CttV is something you use reactively almost all of the time. You’re not hitting it every 5min, in which case a 20% reduced cooldown might be of some benefit, because it’s the sort of thing you’ll use once during a panic situation in a fight. I almost never find that CttV is on cooldown when I want to use it. In fact, the ONLY times I’d like to use it but it’s on cooldown is when I want to use it back to back. Eg. I tried getting the situation under control by resetting my skills but things are still running around all over the place so it’d be good to do it again. This bonus would be awesome if it somehow let you use CttV again in such a situation, eg by making our other 5min panic button, Wisdom of the Council, reset CttV’s cooldown, but I can’t see that happening so this falls firmly in the “meh” basket for me.

5-set bonus: +5s blinding flash duration

Now there’s a familiar set bonus. Yep, it’s exactly the same as the 5-piece bonus from the Lady’s Wisdom Dar Narbugud set. And it’s an awesome set bonus. If you never got the chance to raid DN enough to get the set when it was relevant content, eg. because you were new with F2P (that’s me – I managed to get 4 pieces but lost the roll on my 5th to a champion… sigh. I guess he really wanted +2% glory damage!), then this is really good because it gives you access to a potentially class defining set bonus. +5s duration doesn’t sound like much, but what It does is let you mez two targets in a reliable way. Having tried to mez 2 anger-ed targets in OD on my own without the bonus, I speak from personal experience when I say that – especially in a heated raid environment – solo mezzing two dangerous targets without this bonus is likely to result in a wipe. This is particularly true of melee targets. Double-mezzing ranged targets like the sorcerors in SG isn’t such a big problem because they kindly sit there doing inductions when they wake up, but in between skill application delay and inevitable little slip-ups in timing, you need this bonus to reliably mez two melee targets.

Having said that, is this worth getting if you’ve already got 5 pieces of the DN set? Probably not. The DN set is still good. It still works just fine. You might be worried that wearing it will make you too squishy so that you’d just die to any environmental effects or AOEs. Well, thanks to Turbine’s “no morale inflation with Isengard” policy it only has 200 less morale than this set! Sure, you lose a HEFTY chunk of will (~500), but when you’re double cc-ing stuff then that – along with debuffing – is pretty much your sole job and if the occasional heal or share the power you throw out is a bit weaker than it would otherwise be, that’s not such a terrible loss. IMO if you already have 5 pieces of the DN set, just use save your marks unless you have a ridiculous surplus of them. It would have been nice to see this bonus implemented in a way which had a similar effect to the DN set but was still diferent enough to be useful, eg. “blinding flash gains 5s stun on appliation” (so it’d be 5s of a stun +30s mez, kind of like the burglar’s riddle when traited appropriately) but this looks like what we’re getting, so that makes two meh bonuses on this armour if you’ve got the DN set.

Amaruith set – Red line

This is designed as the “personal DPS” set. It should not be regarded as a raiding or even a grouping DPS set. While the bonuses are decent, none of them would result in as big an increase in group DPS as the Draigoch set does, as the combination of 100% uptime on ancient craft (even while traited red) and +5% group crit chance for 3/4 of the time. This set is only really good for solo (including solo skirmish) or moors play, although I can see an argument that it’s also good in raid skirms where mobs die so quickly that your ancient craft/sop:sae would spend half the time on cooldown outside of boss fights (reducing the benefit of the Draigoch set).

3-set bonus: -60s lightning storm cooldown

Pretty simple, pretty good bonus. Lightning storm is an absolute beast of a DPS skill, especially in AOE situations, but even single target. And unlike CttV, it IS the sort of skill that you should be trying to use on just about every cooldown (unless you’re saving it up for a particular burst phase) so thumbs up for this bonus. Even in single target situations, it’s always our highest or second highest DPS skill in terms of damage divided by induction time, and when there’s more than one target there’s daylight between that and our second highest damage skill. It’s only problem is that it’s a huge power hog, but that’s the price you have to pay. In AOE situations, Lighting storm can hit for ridiculous amounts of damage if you get a few crits – 20k+ is obtainable – so this on its own amounts to a fairly decent personal DPS boost.

5-set bonus: Every use of Burning Embers lowers the cooldown of Ents Go To War by 3s

This initially looks pretty good but in actual fact, not so much. The basic issue is that there is a disconnect between when you want to use each of burning embers and ents go to war. Burning embers is a great single target damage skill, only lightning storm, light of the rising dawn, sticky gourd and wizards’s fire beat it (assuming at least two DoT ticks from embers and sob:wf). Ents, however, is not. Given its long induction time it does less single target DPS than every other damage skill except cracked earth and gust of wind. In AOE situations though, it obviously shines – it’s the third or fourth highest AOE DPS skill along with lightning storm, sticky gourd and staff sweep. Conversely, cracked earth quickly starts moving up the rankings – as long as there’s at least 3 targets, you’ll be wanting to use it in preference to burning embers.

So in situations where you’d want the cooldown of ents to be reduced, you’re going to be relying more on skills like cracked earth, staff sweep, and sticky gourd rather than burning embers. Sure, you’ll still use it, but you won’t be using it on basically every cooldown as you might in single target fights – and in single target fights, you won’t want to use ents because it does poor single target DPS. If there are fights with a combination of single target boss and AOE add phases, it could be useful, provided the timing works, but realistically you’ll be wanting to use the draigoch set in group boss fights anyway.

Lavanhebron set – Blue line

Call me crazy, but this is actually the set I’m most excited about. It at least seems to be something a bit different, especially with the 5-piece bonus. And it has the potential to materially improve our healing output in small group content and enable us to solo even more older group content, which is something I for one enjoy doing!

3-set bonus: -30s inner flame cooldown

In combination with the 4-deep blue line bonus (-60s) this will halve the base 3min cooldown of inner flame. There’s no question that inner flame is an annoying skill to use, a 16s channel is just no fun to sit through. But it can also be a really powerful skill when used smartly. First of all, the amount of healing it does is quite respectable when combined with the +50% healing book legacy (which can be quite usefully put on a swap-book to use just before the channel). Fully maxed out it can heal upwards of 160 morale per second, which is more than double the heal-per-second output of beacon of hope (appx 1500/20 = 75), multiplied by the number of fellowship members you’re healing. Now, it’s true that a lot of this is going to be overhealing and it obviously is poor protection against spike damage, but in a situation where the whole fellowship just took a big hit, or in a 3-person instance where you might just be falling a bit behind in the overall healing needed, it can pump out some pretty good numbers in total. And this bonus gets it back up 25% quicker which is a Good Thing.

In group content soloing situations this bonus will be awesome too. Inner flame’s threat transfer is what makes pet tanking a viable way of taking down older bosses and tough mobs. Being able to use it 25% more often will be great.

5-set bonus: Continual air-lore reflects threat and additional damage

This all comes down to the numbers. If it reflects a tiny amount of threat and does a tiny amount of additional damage then obviously it’s not going to be very worthwhile. But if it actually does some decent numbers then this will be an interesting bonus in all sorts of situations. From raids where tanks might be pressured to keep threat on a bunch of incoming adds (this helps a guard keep threat at the end of an AOE force taunt for instance) to small group situations where you might have a captain tank just barely keeping up with the hunter’s threat gen to solo instance situations where anything you can get to keep threat on your pet is a godsend, this could be a really fun one to play around with. Sure, it’s not going to be anything game breaking, but continuous air lore is a skill which has a lot of potential and it’s nice to see a bonus which is potentially building off that potential.