Loremaster

Lore-mastery: Tower of Orthanc raid guide – Lightning wing T1

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We’re heading back into the Tower of Orthanc this week. After you tackle the wing of Fire and Frost, you have a choice of either the Lightning or Acid wings. I’d recommend the Lightning wing as a good second stop; we’ll keep our bouncing shoes in the cupboard for a later week.

Lightning wing Tier 1

The lightning wing involves three moderately difficult trash pulls leading up to a boss fight that is quite reminicient of the fear wing (Durin’s Bane) in Ost Dunhoth. On tier 1 the boss fight is relatively easy, but there’s quite a few ways for an unprepared raid group to run into trouble.

Trash

As with the Fire and Frost wing, there are three trash pulls leading up to the boss. All of the mobs come pre-marked with symbols, as was the case in OD. As in the acid wing, some of the mobs have a new crowd-control mechanic called adaptation. Mobs with adaptaion will typically gain immunity to a particular type of cc for the rest of the fight once that type of cc has been applied to it once. The types of cc which are counted by adapted mobs are – daze, stun, fear, root and FM stun. The three trash pulls in F&F consist of the following mobs:

  • Trash pull 1: 3 haulers (deep claws), 1 taskmaster (orcs), 2 crushers (trolls)
  • Trash pull 2: 3 haulers, 3 taskmasters, 1 crusher
  • Trash pull 3: 3 haulers, 3 taskmasters, 2 crushers

Here’s an overview of these mobs, along with quick strategy for dealing with them:

  • Deep Claw haulers (35k). Abilities: Bloodlust (anti-kiting mechanism). These are weak and relatively bening mobs. Using any form of cc on them, including roots, or kiting them is not advisable as they gain a stacking damage buff if they do not regularly hit something. They should either be dealt with quickly at the start of a pull or picked up by a tank and kept off to the side until the more dangerous mobs are killed.
  • White Hand Taskmasters (80k). Abilities: Adaptation, leadership buff, healing puddles. As with the taskmasters in the Fire and Frost wing, these are high priority and dangerous targets. Unlike the T1 taskmasters in the other wing though, they do have adaptation which makes cc on them a time-limited option. There are a number of ways to deal with adaptation, personally I like to first apply a fear (preferably a traited hunter bard’s arrow which is 20s, but a minstrel’s cry of the valar also works) followed by a 30-35s mez (both burgs and lore-masters can get a 35sec mez with the right gear or traits). Once that all wears off, you have the option of using a stun, including a FM stun, to get an additional few seconds. Roots aren’t particularly useful on taskmasters as some of their more annoying abilities, particularly the healing puddle, can be cast while rooted. For all pulls, I recommend that you pick one taskmaster and kill it as quickly as possible and then use as much cc as you have available on the other taskmasters, killing them one by one. This will require good, focussed DPS – and make sure whoever ends up tanking the kill target keeps it out of the big green healing puddles.
  • White Hand Crushers (160k). Abilities: 360 degree AOE attack (distributed?). These are relatively simple to deal with as they don’t have adaptation. In all pulls, they should be perma-mezzed by a lore-master or burglar until the end of the fight. For the first pull, it looks like there is only one troll but there’s actually true – the one marked with a skull comes in from the far right once the pull is activated (I think people with top end gfx settings may be able to see it from the outset). My group has always grouped up on these guys when they wake up on the theory that their AOE is distributed but I’m actually not 100% certain that it is. Either way, lore-masters should try to make sure fire lore is up on the trolls before waking them up as they hit quite hard.

There’s also a very odd little mechanic in these pulls. Non-targetable deep claws will periodically run across the room and give you a “trampled” wound which does about 900 damage. It’s not much to worry about.

The third pull is the obviously most challenging of all these pulls. You will need at least 3 classes capable of cc to do it without problems, and your aim should be to perma mez both trolls and cc two of the adapting taskmasters as much as possible while you burn down the non-mezzed taskmaster. Have one of your tanks pick up the haulers and the other any taskmasters that are awake. If your group doesn’t have much cc, you can just have a tank pickup all taskmasters and kite them around; this will involve the tank taking a fairly large amount of damage though as all three taskmasters will buff each other in proximity.

Boss Fight – Kalbak (Troll, 1.45 million morale)

No, I don't know why I had the bog-guardian pet. Or a scarf.

Recommended virtues: The boss fight has periodic spike AOE tactical damage, so I recomment Tolerance, Fidelity, Zeal for all classes. I I use Valour and Wisdom as my final two traits.

As with the fear wing in Ost Dunhoth, this is the tank fight of the raid. It’s a very similar fight structurally to the fear wing so if your group has experience there you’ll be familiar with what is required. For T1 it is recommended that your group stationary tank Kalbak in one of the corners of the room, with the boss facing the corner, the melee directly behind him and the ranged group about 15m behind that (the ranged group should not stand directly in the middle of the room). On T1 the fight is, again, not a hard DPS race so let your tanks setup positioning and get a good threat lead at the start. There is quite a lot of damage in the fight, though, and it increases in magnitude as the fight goes on thanks to a stacking debuff so if you can start pumping out the DPS after that then that’ll make things a lot easier on your healers. I recommend that lore-masters use the raven pet for tactical mitigation in this fight.

The specific mechanics of the fight are as follows:

  • Static debuff. This the mechanic for the tank or tanks to worry about. It is a tiering debuff that increases on the Kalbak’s current aggro target for as long as they are getting hit. When it gets to 10, it goes BOOM with a big AOE damage effect (10k+). It’s generally recommended that groups execute a tank swap at about 4-5 stacks of the debuff, but it’s also possible to single tank the fight, with the tank running away from the rest of the group before it gets to 10 and just having the healers get ready for the hit. If you don’t deal with this effectively though then it will wipe the raid.
  • Stuns on the tank. This is a big one to highlight for lore-masters. The boss will periodically stun its current aggro target, so keep stun prot up on tanks at all time. This is a critical job because if the tanks are stunned, they can’t deal with the static debuff so make sure you keep on top of your sop:r application on both tanks.
  • “The Storms Come”. Kalbak periodically summons Elhudin adds at his feet which hang around and do a distributed damage explosion after an apparently random amount of time (the best theory seems to be that the explosion is an special attack that the adds can do, and they randomly cycle through their normal attacks before exploding). Sometimes they stay up for 5 seconds, sometimes 20. Either way, have a ranged DPS pull it over to the healing group (assuming there’s a decent number of people in it) and let it explode. If your healers are finding it too hard to deal with the distributed explosion, then have the melee group run back to the ranged group as well while these adds are up. I recommend saving your frost-lore debuff for the lights (try to apply it when they’re standing next to the boss); even though the boss does do a lot of tactical damage, it’s mainly to to the tank and predictable damage to a single target is easier for healers to deal with than big spike damage to the whole group.
  • Shock. After 70% morale, the boss will periodically callout someone’s name (“Shock _____”) and that person becomes the target of a chain lighting attack. If there is another player within 5m of that player about 5sec after this callout, then the chain lightning will spread and continue to spread like this until the whole attack times out (either becase there are no targets for it to spread to, or after about 30s). The initial shocked player takes a stacking amount of damage for the duration of the effect. On T1, this mechanic is essentially ignorable – just have your healers drop a few heals on the inital shocked player for the duration. I’d recommend that your group practice for T2 though by trying to get the shocked player to instantly run away from the group; if you fail to prevent the chain lightning spreading then don’t worry (ie don’t have the whole group start running around like crazy to break it; it’ll get too confusing), but it’s good practice to try to deal with it if you can.
  • Polarity (“Lightning shatter!”). After 30% morale, the boss will start doing a polarity attack. This sends out big spikes of lightning from the boss along the cardinal points of the compass, possibly along with some short-ranged 360 degree AOE damage. Just make sure the group is at a 45 degree angle to the boss and continue killing him dead. If you are having problems with the melee group dying, have them run away a bit from the boss when he calls this attack out.
  • Steam debuff. There are vents of steam throughout the room which give players a tiering debuff which increases their outgoing damage of all types but also makes them take more incoming tactical damage. I haven’t exactly figured out where the steam vents are, but it seems that people closer to the center of the room get a higher tier of this debuff by the end of the fight. There’s nothing you can do to decrease it once you’ve got it, just be aware of it and it’s a good reason to end the fight as quickly as you can.

That pretty much covers the fight. It’s definitely doable for all raid groups imo, provided your tanks are able to deal with the static debuff and you have a reasonable level of DPS to end the fight before the steam debuff gets too overwhelming.

 

Lore-mastery: Tower of Orthanc raid guide – Fire and Frost T1

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I’m going to continue my Update 5 instance guide this week by heading into the Tower of Orthanc (ToO) raid. My raid group is currently only two bosses into T2, so I’ll be writing these guides from the perspective of T1. Feel free to discuss and ask questions about T2 in the comments though. If you want to check out my previous Update 5 instance guides, here’s the links:

If your playing group is considering heading into ToO for the first time then I have one piece of advice – do it! Raiding seems to be intimidating for a lot of people, but T1 ToO is absolutely content that can be completed by a wide variety of groups with just a bit of preparation and coordination. You don’t need to be fully geared to do this content, you don’t need to be super hardcore raider, if you have a even a couple of hours a couple of nights then this content is well within your reach. And I can promise that if your current end game activities involve facerolling skirmish raids or mindlessly farming medallions/seals in smaller group instances or Draigoch, then you’ll find it much more enjoyable and rewarding to tackle this raid than playing around in those other spaces. The fights in ToO are genuinely varied and fun, will require people to use skills that they don’t have to in the other end game content (particularly lore-masters) and you’ll get a much greater sense of satisfaction from doing this content than facerolling through random skirmish raid #85 for another 6 seals and a teal shiny.

With that plug out of the way, I’ll head on into the guide.

Fire and Frost Tier 1

The structure of the ToO raid is that it’s a five boss instance with the first three bosses being in different wings that are accessible as soon as you enter and the final two wings (which are located within and on top of the Tower itself) open up after you defeat those first three wings. The raid is on a weekly lock (resets early Thursday morning USEST). If you’re heading into ToO for the first time, Fire and Frost (which is directly behind you as you enter the instance) is the first wing you should look to tackle. It’s the most manageable of the first three wings and is a good way to ease yourself into the raid. There are three trash pulls of fairly easy difficulty leading up to the boss, which is a two-boss fight slightly reminicient of the Ost Dunhoth disease wing.

ToO T1 isn’t generally that strict on class makeup but most wings will be easier if you have two main tanks and, for the trash, 3 classes capable of doing a perma-mez (LMs, burgs, yellow hunters). If you do have to use a hunter for cc on the trash, they should generally retrait for DPS for the boss fight. You will also obviously need two full healers (RKs or minis) and everything is easier if you have at least one and preferably 2 captains.

Trash

As mentioned, there are three trash pulls leading up to the boss. All of the mobs come pre-marked with symbols, as was the case in OD. This raid also introduces a new crowd-control mechanic called adaptation. Mobs with adaptaion will typically gain immunity to a particular type of cc for the rest of the fight once that type of cc has been applied to it once. The types of cc which are counted by adapted mobs are – daze, stun, fear, root and FM stun. The three trash pulls in F&F consist of the following mobs:

  • Trash pull 1: 4 Ruffians, 2 trolls
  • Trash pull 2: 5 Warriors, 3 ruffians
  • Trash pull 3: 3 warriors, 3 ruffians, 2 trolls

Here’s an overview of these mobs, along with quick strategy for dealing with them:

  • White-Hand ruffians (80k). Abilities: Leadership aura buffs nearby allies, can apply a disease to random fellowship members (after a /say callout) which causes an AOE stun on expiration (6s duration). Strategy: Generally these will be your CC targets – have your raid keep as many as you can permanently locked down while you kill everything else (other than trolls). They don’t hit that hard and do not necessarily need a main tank to target them, but they must be kept off healers of course. The disease that these mobs cast is the only thing likely to wipe a raid in this trash, make sure everyone is watching their debuff bars for diseases and potting appropriately (buffbars is recommended!). As a lore-master you can obviously cure some of these, but they typically come out two at a time so with the cooldown on PAAI you won’t be able to cure everything.
  • White-Hand trolls (160k). Abilities: Adaptation buff, stacking healing corruptions. Strategy: Have your tank or tanks deal with these and kill them last. Don’t bother removing their corruptions until you are killing them. Either have one tank pick up both and kite them around (with your other tank picking up other mobs), or put one tank on each one and just offtank anything else.
  • Twisted Warriors (35k). Abilities: Temporary morale bubbles will absorb most incoming damage, bloodlust makes kiting/cc-ing them very risky (+50% damage if they don’t hit something regularly). These are weak mobs and can generally be AOE-ed down at the start of a pull along with any ruffians that aren’t cc-ed. For pull 2 you should assign one tank to the group of warriors on each side of the room and for pull 3 you should ideally have one tank gathering up all three warriors and the other kiting the two trolls.

Boss Fight – Crisiant & Usgarren (Giants, 605,000 morale each)

Recommended virtues: The boss fight has a lot of AOE tactical damage, so I recomment Tolerance, Fidelity, Zeal for all classes. I I use Valour and Wisdom as my final two traits.

On T1 at least, this is a fight which involves you splitting the raid into two groups of 6 and tanking the bosses on opposite sides of the room. The general nature of this fight is that it is a control fight. Once you figure out the general strategy and positioning, there is no strong DPS element to this fight and all incoming healing is manageable. So tell your DPS classes to take it slow at first, let the tanks set up positioning and have everyone focus on their jobs and not panic. If you do that, you’ll find that it’s actually quite an easy fight.

The two giants, Crisiant & Usgarren, are aligned with frost and fire respectively. They will periodically summon grims and do 360 degree AOE attack corresponding with their element. The reason for splitting the group into two fellowships is that as you attack one of the giants you will gain a stacking debuff making you more vulnerable to attacks corresponding to the other giant’s element. At the start of the fight, have your fellowships each head to their side of the room and when the giant’s become active, have the tank position him near the corner of that side of the room with the tank’s back to the wall. The rest of the fellowship must stay outside of the giant’s 180 degree frontal arc at all times; if you get punted, re-establish this initial position as soon as possible to avoid any confusion.

The specific mechanics of the fight are as follows:

  • Grims: The main mechanic in the fight is that each of the giants will periodically spawn grims associated with their element (there is a callout associated with this – “The frost courses through my veins” and “the fire burns within me”). I believe that this is on a timer, but it could be morale based I’m not 100% sure. To summon the grims, the giant does a “clap” attack – one grim will spawn for everyone in the giant’s 180 degree frontal arc when this attack goes off. If you want to avoid wiping, make sure that only the tank gets hit by the clap! When the grims are spawned, they should immediately be pulled off the boss by a melee character and dragged over to the healer/ranged group which should be standing ~20m behind the boss. Have everyone except the tank DPS the 30k grims down as quickly as possible. The trick is that the grims gain a special buff (a red question mark on a white background, it’s very obvious) at every 33% morale which makes them immune to damage until any form of cc (stun, root, mez) is applied. This is a great place for lore-masters to shine, as long as you save up your LoTRD cooldown for grims you will be able to remove all of these buffs with short or zero induction skills (blinding flash and LoTRD). The grims do some AOE damage and if allowed to stay around for long enough will do a fairly damaging distributed AOE attack.
  • Corruptions: The giants each have a big AOE knockback special attack which is preceeded by a callout “My Power Builds!”. Luckily this can be avoided by removing the corruption that appears on the boss at that time. On T1 this is a two-tier corruption, so at least two corruption removal skills need to be used within about 5sec before the attack goes off. Have your tanks call this out if it happens during a grim phase.
  • Shatter/Burn: The bosses will each periodically do an attack to a random character (“Freeze and shatter”, “You will all burn”), turning around if the target is behind them. Nothing you can do about it.
  • Morale bubble: The giants will also announce, at about 20% morale, “The ancients shield me” and get a 150,000 morale bubble which lasts for 30s. On T1 this is nothing to worry about, either try to DPS though it (which will require very good DPS, 5,000dps in each fellowship) or just ignore it and resume hitting when it goes away.

And that’s it! If it sounds like a pretty simple fight, you’d be right. The only trick is letting the tanks get the positioning right, making sure you only get one grim spawn with each clap and then killing the grims quickly enough (using cc to remov the immunity buff as necessary). There’s not much of note to think about as a lore-master particularly. Given that you will only be able to debuff one of the bosses, you should have a careful think about your group makeup to decide which boss you will debuff with fire/frost lore. If your two fellowships are perfectly balanced then it doesn’t really matter, but if one of your groups has a weaker tank (perhaps a champ that doesn’t have such high mitigations as your guardian), or if one group doesn’t have a captain for off-heals or something, then put your fire/frost lore debuffs on the boss where you thihnk they’ll be most needed. Apart from that, just do your normal debuff rotation, spot heal/share power as needed and then DPS in the gaps. If you have decent tactical mitigation and morale you should feel free to stand in melee range of the boss for extra damage, but if you’re finding that you are in danger of dying then stay at >20m range to avoid the worst of his AOE attacks.

 

Lore-mastery: Riders of Rohan class changes wishlist

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The announcement of a new expansion is always exciting, as expansions bring a new level cap, new skills and new possibilities for character advancement and design changes. The lore-master has done pretty well out of our last two updates (in Isengard and the Nov 2010 update), gaining a bunch of useful new skills and some good trait refinement. So the announcement of Riders of Rohan has got me thinking about possibilities for new skills, traits and other changes to the class that could come with the expansion. While I think the class is fundamentally in a great place, and doesn’t need a major overhaul along the lines of Wardens or Champions (all our traitlines already have a well designed flavour and we are fairly effective in most of our roles), there’s certainly room for improvement and new interesting skills.

New skills

We are gaining another 10 levels with RoR, which should equate to another 5 skills if Isengard is anything to go by. I also appreciated the Isengard design of the new skills which didn’t just result in our skill bars being cluttered up with more new skills which either don’t get used or which obsolete old skills, so most of the new skills I propose here aren’t completely new skills.

  • Level 76: Commune with nature (passive)pet damge scales with your will and matches your weapon damage type. This is something that lore-masters really need imo. I was debating whether to suggest this as just a class tweak, but I think it’s a big enough increase in power to a fundamental part of the class to justify an entirely new skill. I would expect the scaling should be about 3% per 100 will, so if you had 1500 will at level 76, your pet would immediately get a 45% damage boost in addition to doing non-common damage. Given current levels of pet damage (around 50-100dps) this wouldn’t be overpowered, but it would be noticable, especially as we move towards 3000+ will by level 85.
  • Level 78: Improved gust of wind – increased damage and 4s “freeze” (stun). This seems like a natural improvement for this skill. It already does cold based damage, it’s already primarily an AOE debuff, this just gives it an extra bit of utility.
  • Level 80: Staff thrust - New melee skill. 15s cooldown, fast skill, low damage, interrupts. The biggest tool missing in the lore-master’s arsenal is an interrupt, this fills that hole. Lore-master’s technically already have a ranged interrupt (though it’s almost unusable), I think it’s appropriate that this be a melee interrupt given our hybrid melee combat nature.
  • Level 82: Improved test of will - increases ICPR for next 30 seconds. On current cost/power/ICPR ratios lore-master DPS starts to get unsustainable after about 2min, especially if you’re debuffing at the same time. This gives lore-masters a way to manage their power in longer fights without having to gimp their damage output by using draw power. The rate of power increase shouldn’t be enough to replace draw power if you’re doing serious power sharing in a raid (although it would be useful to use the skill in a raid environment), but it should go a long way to making our DPS sustainable if the buff is kept up.
  • Level 84: Improved ents go to war - Is a regular skill (no longer requires a legendary trait to slot). 2.5 second induction. This is probably my most radical suggestion. I think we would all like a new legendary trait, but Turbine is probably reluctant (for good reason) to open up a 4th legendary trait slot. This gives us the ability to have a new legendary trait without making the decision as to what existing legendary to drop quite so painful.

New traits

Traits are fun to play around with. Lore-masters are well used to mixing and matching and changing their traits around, because we have generally good legendary capstones going deep into our traitlines gives a lot of benefits. With RoR, I think turbine should give all classes a new class trait slot (probably at level 80), which would be the first trait slot added since Moria, giving us some much needed fundamental character advancement. Just making that change on its own would seriously unbalance the existing system of traitline bonuses and capstones, so I think all traitline bonuses should be moved up one (ie a 2-trait bonus becomes a 3-trait bonus, leaving no additional benefit for merely having 2 of a trait slotted) and the prerequesite for legendary capstones should be increased to 6 of the associated traits. This would preserve the existing balance while giving people more opportunity to use a few more traits, including these new ones:

  • Master of nature’s fury: Blinding light - your light and lightning-based attacks have a +5% critical chance and +25% critical multiplier. Most of our existing DPS buffs are geared towards our fire skills, this would enhance a number of our non-fire tactical skills (lightning storm, light of the rising dawn, test of will and storm lore) in addition to improved staff strike, which does light damage.
  • Keeper of Animals: Focussed attacks - the cooldown of your pets skills is reduced by 20% This has a huge variety of benefits, many of which are quite powerful. It certainly benefits some pets more than others; the bear and limrafn gain substantially more utility and the lynx and sabertooth a lot more damage. The raven and eagle would benefit less, but I don’t think that’s a fundamental objection to what would be a pretty interesting skill.
  • Ancient Master: Critical debuffs - the magnitude and duration of your fire-lore, wind-lore, ancient craft, sign of power:see all ends and frost-lore debuffs is increased by 25% on critical hits. If you look in your combat log you’ll see that debuffs currently have the ability to critically hit. Unfortunately these crits do nothing and so fate/crit rating are fairly bad stats for a raiding lore-master. This is a way of making that stat count when you’re AM traitied, at least somewhat.
  • Legendary: Raging waters - Grants the skill “Raging Waters”. 4min cooldown, 4 second induction, high damage 6-target cold-based AOE which slows affected mobs for 20sec (with a “broken leg” debuff). The skill is a nice thematic DPS cooldown, based on Gandalf/Elrond releasing a flood on the ringwraiths at the Ford of Bruinen. Lore-masters also don’t have much in the way of slow debuffs (only tar), so this is another slow debuff option. I would love it if this could do an AOE knockback, but that would probably break the game engine (eg. knocking mobs off cliffs causes all sorts of silly things to happen).

The new legednary trait should be earned by doing an epic level 85 solo quest that takes you all over middle earth and culminates in a new skirmish encounter. All classes would do this quest, it’s just that they would obviously get different trait rewards at the end.

New class items

We’ve received a dev hint that our long promised class item is coming soon – perhaps in Update 6 – but whether we get them soon or with RoR it would be nice to use them as an opportunity to resurrect some of more exciting raid amour set bonuses, in part because they’re good bonuses but also to stop us having to keep equipping very old armour to get these unique and powerful bonuses.

  • Parchment of Nature’s fury: +10% fire damage. Flat out DPS boost (it works out to approximately 2.5% in a normal hybrid melee/tactical DPS rotation given diminishing returns). This just brings back the moria 6-piece bonus.
    Parchment of Animals: Your beacon of hope gains a 30s HoT (would not stack with OD set bonus). The OD 3-piece bonus is so ridiculously powerful (a 33-50% increase in beacon of hope is equivalent to literally thousands of will) that I can see us still wearing it at level 85 if we don’t get a way to replicate the bonus.
    Parchment of the Ancient Master: Your blinding flash has a +5sec duration (cannot be further increased). Again, this is such a powerful and unique bonus that in situations where you need to double mez or deal with cc mechanics like Adaptation, it might still be optimal to wear the level 60 DN set at level 85 if we don’t get another way to replicate this bonus. Already they’ve felt the need to duplicate this bonus on a level 75 armour set, it would be a shame if they had to do that again at level 85.

General tweaks

There are also a few things about the class which could use a bit of tweaking:

  • Inner flame changed to work like this – channel duration is 6sec, if channeled for the full 6sec it gives all recipients a HoT for the next 10s equivalent to the inner flame heal. As much as I want to like it – especailly because if channeled for the full duration with improved inner flame equipped it’s equivalent to an additional beacon of hope on your whole group – in practice the current 16sec channel is completely unusable. This still means you need to sacrifice 6sec of doing nothing to get the full heal, but it might make the skill usable.
  • Call to the valar resets cooldown on improved frost lore and staff sweep. These newly introduced skills aren’t reset by our skill resetter.
  • Ancient craft from multiple lore-masters stacks. I can’t see any real issue with this change seeing as reveal weakness (which is more powerful) from multiple burglars already stacks. This still won’t make it totally optimal to bring a second lore-master to a group or raid, but it would certainly help the situation.
  • Bog-guardian pet gains Angry Bees skill as a passive/automatic skill, and this is replaced with a toggle skill for ranged/melee stance. One of my biggest annoyances with the bog guardian is that it does so much more damage and flanks in melee, but it’s a real pain to position a lot of the time. Angry Bees is already up 100% of the time if you autocast it, so it’s a logical choice of skill to replace.
  • Eagle ICPR scaling. This currently hasn’t scaled since SoA – 60 ICPR was respectable at level 50, but it’s laugable at 75 let alone 85. Bump it up to at least 100 ICPR, if not 200.

Various lore-master legacies could also use a substantial cleanup and consolidation:

  • Staff major legacies – Remove: Light of the rising dawn crit multiplier and damage removed. Add: Staff thrust cooldown (max of -5sec) and Draw Power cooldown (max -15sec).

  • Staff minor legacies – Consolidate: Lightning skills crit rating and lightning storm damage into a single “lightning skills crit rating and damage” legacy. Add: “Light of the rising dawn damage and critical multiplier”. Change: Gust of Wind damage to “Cold skills damage” and increased in magnitude by 25%.
  • Book major legacies – Consolidate: Burning embers and Wizard’s Fire pulses into “Fire skill damage over time pulses”. Add: “Inner flame cooldown” (max -20sec).
  • Book minor legacies – Remove: test of will devastate damage. Add: Increased damage absorption and reflection on air lore (max +50%).

I realise that all of the above is very unlikely to happen, but it’s fun to speculate and think about ways in which the class could be improved in interesting ways. There’s lots of options, lets hope the devs get creative!

 

Lore-mastery: Guide to U5 instances – The Foundry

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First of all I’m going to start this article off with a quote: “Hmmmmmmmm.” Now, that’s not a particularly interesting quote on its own but the fact that it was said by the Turbine dev Graalx2 in response to a complaint about the lore-master’s ranged slot item (which was promised in November 2010) does make it fairly interesting. I’ve got no idea what it’s going to be, but I’m certainly looking forward to it and hope that it makes it into Update 6!

Anyway, I’m concluding my series of Update 5 instance guides this week with an overview of The Foundry, a 6-person instance centered around Sauraman’s Ring Forge. I’ll look at doing some guides on various Tower of Orthanc wings in the coming weeks, too. As with the previous guides, these are written mainly from a lore-master’s perspective but also give a general overview of the tactics of the instance. For reference, here’s links to the previous guides:

The Foundry

Diseases/wounds? The fire-callers do a moderate damage fire wound, but it’s nothing too scary.
Stuns? All three boss fights have stuns.
CC required? Nope. There’s some places where it’s theoretically useful but it’s not worth the loss of personal DPS.
Trait setup: 4 Red, +2 whatever. Overall, the level of damage in this instance is pretty low so you don’t necessarily need to trait 2-blue, especially if you already have offhealing. Feel free to take whatever you want – improved sop:c, a 6th red, even dunedain learning if you’re OCD about stun prot and like to get lazy like me :).
Recommended pet: Raven on the first boss due to lots of random tactical damage, raven or bear on the others, whichever will add the most DPS to your group.

Strategy:

I would consider the Foundry to be probably the easiest 6-person instance that Turbine has released since Moria; it’s far, far easier to beat the Foundry T2 challenge than Sammath Gul, Sari Surma or Lost Temple. While there are quite a few tricky mechanics here and there, the overall level of incoming damage means that a lot of them can be ignored and there’s nothing even remotely as tough as the Lost Temple disease mechanics or the controlled DPS races in the Gortheron and Osan fights. Continuing the trend of the In Your Absence cluster, there’s also no need for lore-master cc here – I recommend just traiting for DPS, especially given how great sticky gourd is for mowing through the trash mobs.

Trash

Overall, the trash in this instance isn’t very difficult and you should basically be able to faceroll through it. Because of all the AOE, lore-masters love the trash in this instance (1500-2000 DPS is easily achievable on most of the 20-30s pulls), there’s just so many mobs to just unload on. Be nice on your tank, but not too nice – blowing stuff up is fun :). Stuff will die very, very quickly if you also have a champ along for the ride. Some of the pulls have a “purple eye drops purple puddle” mechanic which you’ll be familiar with if you did NCF/Ivar in OD, but quite frankly I find you can just ignore it in the trash pulls because stuff dies so quickly and it does so little damage. Feel free to move away from your group if you get the eye though.

I love the smell of burning trash in the mor... no wait, anytime.

Leading up to the first boss are some stationary and some pathing groups of orcs. It’s no biggie if you pull both together usually, but probably try to keep them separate. There are two goblin “snitches” who will run away to wake up an ~85k troll as soon as they are aggroed, it’s a good idea to root/stun/burn these as soon as they’re going to be woken up. I have noticed a strange bug a couple of times with them where they sometimes disappear immediately after getting rooted (had this happen with both a hunter and lore-master root), if that happens they’ll be returning with the troll shortly afterwards so be alert.

On the way to the second boss there’s a couple of trolls, some fire arrow orcs and lots and lots of AOE goodness. There’s more packs of orcs on the way to the third boss and these groups introduce the fire-callers, which put a moderately damaging fire wound on people and seem to do a bit of damage – kill them first, AOE away. The final room before the last boss has some fun stompy pilons (similar to the last boss in The Waterworks), just don’t get crushed underneath them.

Boss 1 – Dhâr (Orc)

The fight against Dhar is easily the hardest fight in the instance, and requires your group to at least learn some mechanics and positioning. The square room is divided up into a 3×3 grid of smaller squares, with grates separating each square. At the end of each row of squares is a set of 3 levers, each set has a ~14k add standing at it. The main mechanic in this fight is that Dhar will gain a damage-absorbing shield at about 90% morale. This shield can only be removed, temporarily, by dropping overhead trash on top of him. The trash can be dropped by pulling levers and falls into one of the six squares. The leftmost lever in each row of squares drops trash onto the square closest to it.

So the goal is to line the boss up on a square when he gets his shield, pull the coresponding lever to drop trash on him and then quickly DPS him down while he’s temporarily vulnerable. The group should have a designated lever puller and this person and the tank should coordinate which square is going to have a trash drop (or just have the tank pull it somewhere and the lever puller respond to that). Note that if the actual drop misses Dhar, he can be dragged through the trash shortly after it falls and that will still work. When the trash does fall, it causes a short duration stun so it’s not a bad idea to keep stun immunity up on your tank.

The trick with the levers, is that once one is pulled it can’t be pulled again. And you remember those adds I mentioned? They will randomly stand there and pull levers. So killing them is the first priority. They don’t need to be tanked specifically, just kill them quickly (lore-master stuns and roots are good to keep them from killing squishies). They do respawn if killed, so it’s theoretically possible to just keep one mezzed for the whole fight, but it’s not worth it for a lore-master to trait a mez just for this, so only go the cc option if you have a burglar in the group who doesn’t mind going in mischief stance.

There are three other mechanics of note in this fight:

  • The squares will randomly and periodically fill up with highly damaging lava. Don’t stand in the fire.
  • The boss will periodically call out a random person’s name. An AOE fire-spot will appear under that person’s feet. Don’t stand in the fire.
  • Steam will spurt out from the walls along the grates in between the squares, doing about 2-3k damage. It’s theoretically possible to spot a small steam burst before the vent, but in practice that’s pretty much impossible so you can either just heal through this or not stand on the grates; this will expose you to a risk of getting hit by lava though so the healer’s gonna be healing something either way.

All of these mechanics mean it’s good for your group to stay as spread out as possible.

As I said, this is the toughest fight in the instance, and minstrel healers in particular will start running out of power so do share it with them. Encourage everyone to blow their cooldowns though, because once it’s over, there’s not much else they’ll need them fore.

Boss 2 – Gurbák (Troll)

The thing to watch out for with Gurbak is the walls of the room. They’re insta-death. And he’s a troll so you just know there’s going to be punting. So surprise, surprise, the trick is to tank him in the center of the room. Crazy, I know. If the tank can keep the troll in the middle of the room, with everyone grouped up behind him, then you win this fight. That’s all there is to it. Given the supreme importance of positioning, make sure to tell your hunters (always the hunters) that it’s not a DPS race so give the tank plenty of time to build up a threat lead.

I have no idea what that purple thing is either.

Gurbak will periodically punt the tank and also occasionally turn around to punt a random group member. For this reason the tank might need to turn him around so the troll doesn’t get too close to the walls, just have the rest of the group switch around to stay behind him if this happens. He has a big induction AOE attack too which should be easy for just about any class other than lore-masters to interrupt. I hate not having an interrupt (and no, blinding flash is not a usable interrupt without fast loader traite). Anyway, apart from that, keep stun immunity up on the tank and fire away.

Boss 3 – Penrith (Angmarin), Ghashanuz (Orc) and The Ring Forge of Orthanc (it’s a forge)

This is perhaps the most disappointing fight in the instance because it really has the setup to be an awesome fun fight, but because the level of damage coming at the group is so low (with one exception) it ends up just being a fairly boring grind fest. There’s no real pressure on a group here if they have a workable strategy, it’s just a question of DPSing 600k total morale down while walking clockwise around the room.

The second boss in LOTRO within the "object" genus.

The setup is pretty simple – 2 bosses, one forge. The bosses need to be separated from each other or else they do additional damage, so have two people tank them (they don’t do much damage, you can tank it with a non-tank traited champ or captain very easily). All three mobs will periodically green out and do their thing, so you’ll need to be switching targets from time to time. Challenge condition (which all groups should be doing if they’re on T2) is simply to kill the forge before either of the bosses. When the forge is dead, the bosses get enraged and do significantly more damage. This isn’t a very difficult challenge condition, all you need to do is make sure to get Penrith and Ghashanuz down to ~15k before killing the forge, and then finish them off quickly.

The additional mechanics are as follows:

  • The big one to watch out for is the fire which gets spawned from time tom time at the far right of the room (1 o’clock if you take the entrance as 6 o’clock) and then spreads clockwise around the room. This MUST be avoided. For this reason, you should start off in the bottom part of the room and then when the fire spawns, the whole group runs around clockwise to 12 o’clock until the fire has cleared from the first place where it spawns and then move back to where you started and wait for the next one. The only thing that is likely to kill you in this fight is this fire. It doesn’t move very fast, but be on your toes.
  • As with the trash, purple eyes appear over random people’s head and they drop 5 purple puddles over about 20s. It’s probably a good idea to drop these around the edge of the room. Don’t spend the whole 20s running though, only run after you drop a puddle.
  • The orc boss does occasional stuns on its tank and the forge enters a phase where it will do short duration stuns on everyone in the room for about 30sec. I recommend keeping up stun immunity on the orc tank, yourself and the healer. Reactively use SI on anyone who looks like they’re in danger of getting stun-trapped in the fire or a purple puddle.

And that’s pretty much it. As I said, it has the potential to be an interesting fight, and the whole place is nicely atmospheric, but it ends up being pretty long and tedious I find. Ah well.

Anyway, I hope those guides helped. Feel free to ask any questions or give any additional hints in the comments!

 

Lore-mastery: Year’s end

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Given the christmas season and upcoming holidays, this will be my last column for the year. I’ll aim to return to posting in approximately mid-January. I was going to use this post as an opportunity to link some of my past posts for people who might be new to the column, and also solicit some feedback. I hope you’ll also forgive me a little indulgence too, I thought I’d go back through my screenshots and give a bit of a slideshow of my lore-master over the past year or so.

Lore-mastery

I introduced this column just on four months ago in August and have written 29 (!) posts since then. The aim of the column since the start been to write about end-game play from a lore-master persepctive, both to give tips to existing lore-master players and to educate others about the class and various end-game issues.

Some of the posts have been about specific issues or gear or patches, while others have been of a more general nature, giving my opinions on something fundamental about the class or game mechanics. I thought I’d link some of the latter type for people who might be newer readers of the column:

  • What does a lore-master do part 1 and part 2. Two-part post looking at the 4 different trait setups you might use as a lore-master.
  • How to do damage as a lore-master. Basic message: stand in melee range and hit stuff!
  • Controlling a crowd. A basic overview of our CC and some more advanced tips.
  • Taking ‘support class’ too far. Sometimes lore-masters (and other support classes) need to stop doing all the fancy unique stuff that they could do and just get on with the business of killing the bad guys.
  • Legendary items guide. Overview of what legacies to look for and what items to make in the post-Isengard environment.
  • Soloing old group content part 1 and Part 2. These posts giving a bit of an outline as to what old group content lore-masters can solo at level 75 generated a bit of interest.

I definitely plan on continuing with the column next year, I’m enjoying writing it and am a little surprised that I still have heaps of column ideas remaining. The first few posts next year will hopefully be about the instances and raid in update 5 (although I have a nasty feeling the sw:tor-pocalypse might make getting together a decent raid group on my server a little bit tough unfortunately). I’ve also got a post on the will vs fate stat choice, a general overview of pets (I’m wanting to collect quite a bit data for this which is why I haven’t yet done it – the fact that the training dummies are broken and keep booting you out of combat hasn’t helped) and an updated tactical gear guide.

I would really like to get some feedback from any of you that reading this about the column! Don’t be afraid to comment, you don’t need to log in and it’s easy to do. In particular, I struggle a bit with the level of detail to go into and how much knowledge I can assume. While I’m obviously writing something a bit more in depth than a forum post, I’m not trying to write massive essays in my post (I’m aiming for about 1500-2000 words) so it’s a balancing act as to how much detail I can write up and how much background I can explain. I’d be interested in people’s thoughts on the length of the column and whether it seems to be assuming too much or too little knowledge, though I realise this is going to be largely a matter of personal opinion. I’d also like to know whether people who aren’t lore-masters still find the columns interesting at all. Also, of course, if there’s a particular topic you’d like to see me go into then please let me know and I’d be happy to address it in a future post.

Levelling slideshow

As I mentioned in my first post, I’m new to LOTRO (and MMOs) with F2P so I’ve only been playing for a little over a year. I thought I’d take a look back over my old screenshots and put together a little slideshow of the lore-master levelling journey. If anyone’s interested in sending me any cool or interesting lore-master screenshots they have (psychobabblelotro at gmail.com) then please do, and I’ll look to include them in a future post.

I wandered into evendim at about level 15 and wondered why I wasn't doing any damage to all these purple mobs!

Smoking in bree

The Gandalf-wannabe stage

My favourite hat ever

Mmmm Angmar, so purty.

I still can't decide whether the helegrod set was really ugly or I just got sick of it after seeing it on every 65 lore-master I ran into.

DN shoulders are epic looking

Ost Dunhoth is the most fun I've had in the game so far, was a seriously great raid with so much variety in its fights.

You. Shall. Not. Pass! Oh, you're just standing there. Don't mind me.

Big, black and buggy. I could add another "b" word there. Rhymes with "snoring".

Anyway, hope you don’t mind my self-indulgence there, cya next year!

 
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