Soo, I think we’re officially in the pre-expansion lull. The new expansion and level cap increase is now less than 3 months away, which means that there’s very little point for Turbine to push out new content because it’ll be obsoleted before having a decent amount of play time. But at the same time, all of the existing content is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. The (excellent) Update 5 Isengard instance/raid cluster is now about 6 months old and the somewhat thinner (from a group content perspective) Update 6 has been out for three months, which I think is more than long enough for people to grind out the rep dailies and conquer the Roots of Fangorn. And, unfortunately, in my experience Update 7 has been a bit of a flop – after the first couple of days of excitment, I’ve found it basically impossible to get a group of people interested in running Fornost because they’re tough fights to learn there’s simply no loot incenctive. And for all of the above content, any loot incentive “pull” for people is going to decline more and more as they see level 85 approaching, knowing that all of their carefully grinded LIs, raid armour sets and star-lit crystals will be obsoleted by quest rewards and random landscape mob drops shortly after release is a little disheartening.

So what’s an end game character to do in this time? Rolling an alt or levelling a neglected one up is obviously one option, although not one I’m personally that interested in. And I’m sure I’m not the only person whose raid group is still trying to move beyond the first couple of wings in T2 ToO, so that’s definitely something that will keep me interested from a sheer “beat the challenge” perspective as long as I can keep dragging 11 other people along with me. But outside of raid nights, what is there to do? Luckily, quite a bit and I actually find content lull periods like this can be relaxing in a way, because you don’t have any specific grind that you want to get out of the way as quickly as possible to gear up. It gives you the opportunity to do things in game that you might not otherwise do.

5 things to do while waiting for RoR

1. Deeds

There’s all sorts of deeds you can do in the game, most of which are soloable, which have a variety of useful or just fun rewards. The most obvious reason to do deeds is for virtues. If you’ve neglected your virtues since the latest two cap raises then now’s the perfect time to address that and get your character up to scratch. My two part guide on how to get 14 ranks in the 7 most important lore-master virtues (pt 1, pt 2) might be a good place to start, but you could also think about working up some of the more situational virtues like honor (good in a fight with mixed tactical damage and resist-able effects) or patience (when you really want to go all-out ICPR) to give you some additional flexibilty. We haven’t yet had confirmation that there will be a virtue cap increase with RoR, but if there is going to be one then it might even be worth getting some of your virtues up to 15 or 16 to save a future grind when you might have new content you want to be playing.

The ability to earn turbine points is another undeniable reason to finish off some deeds. Sure, it’s a pretty slow way to earn virtual currency but you’re usually getting something else in the process (even if it’s just the satisfaction of having a clean deed log!) and all those little bits of TPs really do add up. I calculated a little while back that I’ve earned over 8,000 free TPs which is nothing to sneeze at; you could even save up . And of course, there’s some deeds which give unique cosmetic rewards and titles, like the Skirmisher of Middle Earth (that’ll keep you busy!) or various festival deeds.

2. Do older raid content

If you can get a group of like-minded people together, you can still have a lot of fun messing around in older group content. There’s lots of reasons to go into some of these obsoleted spaces, from simply experiencing fights you may not have played through at the time, seeing how few people you can kill the watcher with, unlocking meta deeds or getting genuinely relevant experience at a variety of different raid mechanics. If your group didn’t do OD or BG raids on level, for instance, going in there at level 75 (you don’t need 12 people) can give you useful exposure to a variety of interesting mechanics and fights which have parallels to current raid fights and most likely future ones too. While the level of damage your group will take is obviously way more easy to handle at the current level cap, it’s still not possible to just completely zerg these fights and so you can get some valuable group experience.

From a lore-master’s perspective too, I should point out that OD actually still gives you some gear which quite possibly will never be obsoleted except by duplication on later sets. The 3-piece set bonus on one of the T2 OD sets gives you a 30sec HoT on your beacon of hope which is equivalent to doubling it over a 30s duration, or increasing it by 66% if you recast every 20sec. How big is that bonus? Well taking the smaller of those two figures, it’s worth about six thousand points of will, which is pretty insane making this level 65 armour awesome if you’re trying to main-heal a 3-person instance or something. That bonus has been replicated on a level 75 PvMP armour set, but if you don’t PvMP then it’s currently irreplaceable. Also irreplaceable is the 5-piece bonus from the same set, which gives you a full fellowship wide AOE flank heal effect. The Improved Flanking trait duplicates this to some extent, but being able to get the effect without the trait gives you more options and it’s obviously a bigger effect. In addition, level 65 first age books (which only come from OD) are excellent choices for DPS books because they can slot the top-tier true relics and also have +tactical damage passive legacy (maximum of 5%).

3. Finish off “unnecessary” grinds

In addition to some of the meta deeds mentioned above, there’s a few “stretch” rewards in the game which you might not be looking to do while you’re in the first phase of content and gearing up, but which you might like to get at this time. In that category for me is the ToO raid horse, which costs 99 sigil fragments. I’ve finally managed to save up enough sigils to get this after using my first 100 on a couple of necklaces, and it’s a cool reward to work towards. There’s also things like the Return to Stangard skill (20 gold tokens), the Stangard horse (also 20 gold), or a second ToO armour set with a unique bonus that you’ve been meaning to try out but don’t really need. Personally I’m looking forward to getting enough seals for the 5-piece blue line set (40 more!) which has an interesting looking bonus to continuous air lore, which might be nice to slot while doing the next item on the list…

4. Soloing challenges

As I’ve outlined before in a couple of soling guides (Pt 1 and Pt 2), lore-masters are an excellent class for soloing old group content. Personally, I find this a pretty enjoyable fun thing to do and there’s a few tangible rewards from doing so, including LI relics and runes as well as unique cosmetics, deeds, crafting material and items to sell on the AH. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, then do check out those previous guides and I might have some more in the coming weeks.

5. Stock up for the next LI grind

There’s quite a few things you can stash at the current level cap which will be useful even at level 85, barring a major overhaul of the LI system. Most of the major LI consumables at level 75 will work on level 76+ LIs, including relics, IXP runes, shards, star-lit crystals and legacy scrolls (from level 75 LIs). It’s probably a good idea to have a set or two of the most useful legacy scrolls ready to go, and a good collection of other consumables will never go astray. Shards in particular are something that’s good to build up over time – the various crafted relics are your best option for earning them, most give you a decent chunk when refined down. And while there will no doubt be a new tier of scrolls of empowerment/delving, and I have a pretty strong suspicion that we either won’t be able to keep our existing seals or they’ll be automatically traded down with RoI, stashing up on a few regular marks and medallions will no doubt alleviate some of the grind for those items at level 85.

Conclusion

So, as you can see, if you still want to spend your game time with lotro there’s still quite a bit to do in this pre-expansion lull. In this time of less content though, I’ll probably be cutting back on this column a bit, maybe putting it out every two weeks unless there’s particular news or issues to cover. I’ve still got quite a few more column ideas though, including additional soloing challenges, a discussion of DPS stats and hopefully some Fornost guides (if I can get people to run it!) so I won’t be totally going away!