This Thursday, it was time to check out the new raid cluster, called In Defence of Erebor. The underlying story is that we're fast forwarded to the time that the ring is about to be destroyed and the dwarves and the men of Dale are being attacked by the Easterlings. It seems like Turbine managed to get something around The Hobbit theme in after all! I think it's a bit confusing, as the ring is still alive and kicking in the storyline as far as we're following it in-game, but alright, I'll try to follow.
Following new LotRO fashion, the raid consists of three parts, each of which separately accessible through the instance finder. No long runs through instances anymore. I find this fashion a bit unromantic and immersion-breaking, but then again I'm old and it does has its practical advantages. The different instances are called:
- Flight to the Lonely Mountain
- The Battle for Erebor
- The Fires of Smaug
For starters, we went in on tier 1 to get an idea about what everything's like.
Flight to the Lonely Mountain
This fight is a sort of Barad Guldur gauntlet thing, but different. You get waves of enemies that you have to defeat, until the timer (visualized through a bar that slowly fills with yellow) is up. This was a total joke on tier 1, meaning it will be easy to pug it. We spent minutes just hanging around and waiting for the following wave to come (as depicted above), which was sort of okay, since the environment looks nice. Finally a raid in the open air again, hurray! Away with you, dark dungeons!
I expect this wing to be tough on tier 2, though. I bet those green puddles will heal the mobs for quite a bit more so we actually have to move them out, just like those Heartseeker-addicted archers will probably be a major pain. It will be fun to find out!
The Battle for Erebor
In this part, there's two bosses to fight at the same time. On tier 1, you choose two banners which define the terms - we choose Catapults and Inferno. This meant that we had to change targets when the bosses changed their shields around, there were some circles on the floor we should not stand in (no shit, Sherlock), and at the end there was some fire all over the floor, but that was it. Of course, things will become a lot more complicated on tier 2, where you have to choose four banners, or on tier 2 challenge mode, where you have to pick all six (!) banners.
If you start the fight, make sure everyone is at the bottom of the stairs. We learned this the hard way: 3 of our raid got locked out while still being on the stairs. However, we still steamrolled the place with just 9, so this part is possibly even easier than the previous.
The Fires of Smaug
The Easterlings are trying to smoke the dwarves out of their mountain. To us to close the steam emitting valves and kill the evil fire spirit fueling them. This is possibly the most challenging of the three raid parts on tier 1 to pug, because it requires some kind of coordination and planning. There are two bars that you have to consider: a yellow one, representing a time limit, and a red one, that you can prevent from tiering up by closing valves. There are also some adds. The goal on tier 1 is to kill the boss before any of the bars has filled.
We actually failed the first time, because we didn't know yet how to divide our players over the different tasks correctly, but we did make it the second time.
The new raid on tier 1 is easy, easier than Tower of Orthanc on tier 1. This kind of difficulty should allow people to pug it, and might be a good difficulty level for casual kinships. I personally do hope tier 2 is much, much harder! I'm positive so far: I like the general setup of the instances and there's definitely room for interesting extra mechanics on tier 2 which might result in challenging fights. I'm looking forward to trying that out!