Monday, 6 August 2012

LOTRO: Tickling the evil wizard

I was subtly reminded by Iaksones that I haven't talked about raiding for a while. And that while I promised raiding as a recurrent topic some time ago! I suppose I'm really too chaotic to post on a regular schedule. I will, however, keep posting some raiding news from time to time.

Takedown psychology

Lately, my kinship has been into Saruman T2 and I've been in there with them almost every time. We even skipped some locks (well, did them quickly on T1 to get them over with) to be able to spend more time on Saruman. Which can turn out well or less well for a takedown, as I've learned in the past.

In a previous kinship, a long time ago, we had only Gortheron T2 left to complete before the Rise of Isengard would dawn. We spent months doing nothing else. I once expressed concerns to a friend who was in the officer team. Are we not overstretching ourselves? Will people keep enjoying themselves? "How so?" was her reply. "We have to do it, and I want that (server first-only) title."

In the end, we stopped making progress. We were close to making it. Close, but not close enough. New approaches were dismissed, as the leadership was convinced we were on the right road. We kept trying and trying, but eventually a negative atmosphere emerged. We just didn't get any further. I think it was that people didn't really believe they could do it anymore. As some of the negativity was directed at my boyfriend and I, we thought it better to leave and join the kinship I'm currently in.

With our experience of the fight, combined with an enthusiastic group, we came up with a totally different strategy and bested Gortheron T2 Challenge only a few weeks later. It was an amazing experience. What I learned from it was this:
    Be open-minded. Progress works best if everyone feels free to share their ideas and are listened at. Try them all. There's no shame in trying a bad strategy, because it will teach you what works and what doesn't. Don't be afraid to discuss and improve yourself.
  • Don't get stuck. But if you do, don't do what we did. Take a break, work on something else for a while and return fresh. You're playing LotRO for fun, after all, not to feel demotivated.


So far for all the seriousness. How are we doing on Saruman? To be honest, it's been great. Of course there's a lot of dying, but any serious raider should have a high dying tolerance. I can enjoy nothing more than working towards a takedown like this. I love getting to know a fight so well that I know exactly which mechanic gets introduced in which phase. I love the discussions on how to improve on the kinship forums. I love knowing exactly what to do when and what to prioritize. When I'm on Saruman T2, I'm 100% lore-master.

Last night, we broke our record of amount of Sarumans downed during the last phase. We also achieved something else that might be even more important, and that was total control over the first four phases. We could do them in a relaxed atmosphere and play "I see something and it starts with a D..." (forgot how the game is called in English). It's only the last phase that requires all our attention. I've been having so much fun, I can barely wait for our next try.

Gaming laptop

My computer, meanwhile, has been having less fun doing Saruman. Environmental shifts such as acid above (and frost in particular) are too much for my graphics card to handle and cause gigantic lag, even on the "very low" graphics setting. I could cope with it on the first phases, but it gets so bad when we get to the ten Sarumans that I had to resort to claiming my boyfriend's gaming laptop. It took some time to set up the plugins and to get used to playing on such a small screen, but I got it working. And now I can even take nice screenshots while raiding! Only when pulling power of course, I don't want to wipe the group...

I do think the environmental shifts are a great idea. In addition to their dangers, they also make the fight visually challenging. The clear winner is definitely the shadow shift, which turns everything black! 

Can you find the 1. guardian's shield; 2. main Saruman; 3. minstrel; 4. lore-master; 5. captain banners; 6. champion; 7. raven and 8. burglar? Tip: click on the image for a larger version.


  1. I nearly talked about the Saruman T2 raiding progress and environmental effects in the post I made last night, but decided against it as it didn't quite belong.

    It sounds like my alliance is at the same spot your kin is at, though we've been getting to that negative spot you talked about. :( It feels like we're pushing too hard and that it's no longer becoming fun.. we're taking some steps backwards I feel. I mainly sign up for raids out of obligation as we're having a hard time mustering 12 people every raid. The first 4 phases seem easy enough now, though we've never made it to phase 5 without someone dying. But phase 5.. we just can't survive long enough. We've not figured out how to control, interrupt yet also burn down targets. It's getting frustrating. A few times it felt like we were on the cusp of getting enough down to survive the rest of the fight.. but that was a few weeks ago.

    And those environmental effects are super annoying to me! It's impossible to see pools so you're stuck staring at your vitals whilst you run around and hope to find a safe spot. The idea is good. I wish they would have toned down the visuals a bit!

    1. We have the same as you guys in phase 5, and I hope we don't get to that point. Signing up out of obligation is the worst there is. I sometimes have that if we're doing some T1 runs for the locks.

      I hope we'll both manage to make it before the update. It would be a great feeling to at least have done everything on-level on T2, even if we didn't make all challenges. I do have the feeling they might've gone a bit overboard with the T2 difficulty. The challenges should be insane, okay, but T2 is a step too high.

      And you're right about that - shadow shift *is* a bit tricky. :S

  2. Great post Rav!
    As a part-time end-game-qualified raider, I had never seen Saruman T2 and am excited to read your take on it and see the pictures of the Shadow phase. Like it wouldn't be hard enough without turning out the lights. :D

  3. Awesome post! I'm glad to hear y'all have hit the sweet spot on phases 1-4. Its quite demoralizing to have a goal that you can't even attempt because the obstacles on the way to it are tripping you up. Like the first several times my group tried each wing's trash (except F&F). Then you get it down and have fun on the boss, or Phase 5 for y'all.

    Wow that Shadow phase. I've seen it on T1, and its not that dark. I guess T2 is darker?

    1. Hmm, I'm not sure. I did T1 yesterday and tried to look for it, but it looked exactly as black as on T2. I think it might have left less of an impression on you because you'll only encounter it once or twice (or not at all) in the second phase. On T2, you keep having the environmental shifts from phase 2 onwards until the very end of the fight. Shadow shifts are especially annoying when they start off at the beginning of the last phase.

    2. Hey, I figured out the difference in how the shadow phase looks to us. If you're zoomed in like me, there's like a wide area around you that's lit up more. Zoom out, and everything's black.

    3. Ohh, thanks, that's cool!

      I'm usually pretty much zoomed out, as I'm busy with all the Sarumans as a lore-master, but I can see how other classes might not need that. Makes sense. :)

  4. Hey Nemesis :P

    We're at the same point as well...Phase 5 just hurts, but I think we're on the right track. I think as long as you can keep the fun in the first couple of phases, it doesn't get to strenuous... So here's to hoping that some time soon one of our kins can announce a T2 Saruman kill ;)

    1. Cool to hear. I really hope we can bring him down before RoR... both of our kins that is. :D


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