Wednesday, 15 January 2014

LOTRO: A captain, a hunter and a champion enter a deserted bar

Somewhere mid December, I managed to login to LotRO.

I had been procrastinating logging into the game ever since Helm's Deep has been released because of the prospect of having to:
  • realize how few skills my characters have left;
  • check out how the new skill trees work and what everything does;
  • actually spend points in a skill tree;
  • check if any game mechanics/stats have changed;
  • figuring out what legacies are available and how useful they are in the new system;
  • actually spend my points on my legendary items;
  • move my skills to useful places;
  • set new keybinds to my skills;
  • get rid of the junk in my bags;
  • try out some new content;
  • realize it sucks.

(If you skipped reading the above list because it looked boring, that's okay. Its content feels very boring to me too, so it's only fitting.)

So when I logged into LotRO, it was the first day for me in the new era of Helm's Deep.

I logged my level 84 captain (I could not bring myself to level that last bit to 85 before the expansion) and tried very much not to stare at the half empty skill bar that was hers. It looked a bit like a mouth with half the teeth rotten and fallen out. (Tiger compares it to gatenkaas, cheese with holes, but I'll go for the horror option.) While she was completing deeds all by herself over a course of five minutes (apparently the deeds were new but got completed retroactively), I discovered the presence of two others online in my kinship, both Star Wars players as well. I'll refer to them here as the Hunter and the Champion. Our characters were level 84, 85 and 86 respectively - not very impressive considering Helm's Deep has been out for several weeks by now. I tore my eyes from the emptiness of that what was supposed to be my skill bar and concentrated on the kinchat instead.

The Champion: "Are we all just here because SWTOR has maintainance?"

I indeed had tried to log into Star Wars earlier, but decided to give LotRO a try since the servers were down.

Me: "Errrr, maybe."

The Hunter (who happened to be on his warden, to make things more confusing): "Haha, perhaps."

We laughed because we had caught each other red-handed. (I'm writing "we" here, because it almost felt as if we were physically in the same space - although I may just as well have been the only one who was smiling.)

The Hunter: "I logged in earlier this morning to see if there was anyone on, but nobody came."

I explained how I had procrastinated logging in for such a long time because of the prospect of all the chores: spending points on my legendary items (LI's), skill trees, trying to find a space for all the items in my inventory... It was met with general agreement.

The Hunter revealed: "I haven't spent my LI points either."

Me: "But you just told me your hunter has reached the dazzling heights of level 89!"

The Hunter: "I mostly leveled by handing in quests that I'd completed before Helm's Deep... I did do some quests of the epic storyline, but couldn't be bothered to do anything with my LI's."

I took a last desperate glance at my half empty skill bar and logged off again. And even though I had not done a single thing in-game, I somehow was smiling like a maniac.


  1. Maybe there's hope for you having fun in LOTRO again! (While your SWTOR posts are more interesting to me personally, I'm always rooting for you in regards to LOTRO since it's so sad when people fall out of love with their MMO "home"...)

    On a more general level, I really feel for you in regards to the class changes; I always hated it when WoW completely revamped all the classes with each expansion, and I'm grateful that Bioware hasn't felt the need to do anything as drastic with SWTOR so far. /knock on wood

    1. I was more smiling because of the strange situation that was going on that somehow caused me to feel happy, but maybe better news is on the way. ^^

      The impact of the class changes in LotRO is enormous. It's hard to even try to describe what they have done. I think the closest would be to compare to SWTOR and hypothesize that they would radically change the generally fine working system, changing the trait lines so that you can only realistically spend points in one tree, and doing so would make you end up with 25 percent of you skills max. Of course, with that amount of skills there isn't any nice flowing rotation you can do (or they didn't even try for that, I don't know). And let's not even start to talk about class balance or how this is all going to work out in hypothetical end game (there isn't even any available at the moment)...

      They threw 6 years of balancing out a skill system out of the window to replace everything with something they thought about for like a month and expected it to be better. I just don't know what to say.


      Either way, there is one class they overlooked that still has a reasonable amount of skills and versatility... and that's the lore-master! So that's where I'm heading next.

      And yes, *please* don't let SWTOR pick up any of these ridiculous ideas... ;-)

  2. Delightful to see you back blogging again, and even dipping a toe into LOTRO.

    I haven't done much since HD came out either, though I'm not as disenchanted as you seem to be. The idea of relearning all my classes and thinking about all the LIs from scratch is definitely daunting. But in my case the main reason I haven't been doing more is that I didn't even buy HD until the sale around Christmas-time. Couple that with me having picked up The Secret World and a few other games around Black Friday, and the fact that lately I've been more immersed in reading than playing MMOs, and there wasn't a lot of time left over for LOTRO.

    I think we're not alone, I've spotted a few of my kinnies online recently that haven't been around for quite a while.

    1. Apparently it's a good time to return, I found some old friends back online as well. Some I hadn't seen in over a year.

      I've only bought HD recently as well. I had such low expectations that I didn't want to buy it with real money and I didn't really care about the release date, so I bought it somewhere in December with Turbine Points. I've recently started exploring the new area together with Tiger, so more on that soon in later posts. :)

  3. I had a totally different experience with the skills revision - relief! Previously, I felt like I had so many hotbuttons on my bars that it was impossible to fit everything that I might need. Being able to narrow my focus (as a Minstrel, on either damage or healing) really made it easier to keep track of what I could do in my role in the group.

    I can understand the opposite side of that, though, since I'm not a "good" player who really spent the time and practice playing at the end-game and developing the (human) skills to take advantage of his/her class's capabilities. So I guess it does amount to "dumbing down" a little because there are fewer choices in terms of what skills to stock and how to rotate them. I did run into this problem recently when running Stoneheight as DPS trait - our Lore-master kept dying and I didn't have Rally! to bring him up in-combat, so after three attempts on the last boss, I had to switch to healing and hide in the corner.

    You also make a great point about balance and you have a lot more length and breadth of experience in LOTRO, so I expect you're right on that one. I was going to say, "But wait! How much easier will it be now to balance classes since there are fewer skills?" But there aren't really much fewer skills, just fewer-skills-at-once. And there are a lot more trait-line bonuses to balance now. More opportunities for them to get it right, but more opportunities for them to get it wrong, too.

    And to be fair, I've only played my Minstrel since HD, and everyone seems to think we're way overpowered right now, so that's probably why I'm so optimistic about things, haha. Good luck with exploring the new areas - there are a few neat things happening. :)

    1. You are right of course, the skills revision is received so differently depending on your playstyle, and also on your class! You're the second minstrel I've heard who is relieved with the changes, and admittedly, it *was* one of the most complicated classes to play (or so Tiger tells me).

      So far I like the LM changes - at least for the red, DPS, tree, I haven't needed another one yet. DPS is actually more thoughtful than before, with dmg skills influencing others etc. I also feel very OP since the landscape mobs just fall over left and right, but I don't know if this is just because the overall difficulty of the game is down or if it actually is.

      So far I dislike the captain changes. Again, I've only tried the DPS tree. Not having the -attack duration from War-cry makes everything sluggish, and only two available defeat response skills are sometimes both on CD. I feel the DPS rotation is indeed "dumbed down", a lot of time you're just pressing some skill because it happens to be the only skill you have left not on CD, not because it's actually a good skill. Killing things feels sloooooow. And cappy DPS was so much fun before.

      I don't know anything about balance right now. Maybe it's all great and I shouldn't have worried. And maybe most people do like the skill changes and I'm in a minority.

      Either way, I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying your minstrel. :)


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