Back to LotRO and the Book 7 update…
…which gave us crafting instances, new repeatable quests for Moria instances (including completing them in hard more) and all of Lothlorien. And the grind.
There’s a lot of repeatable content, designed to make repping up with the Galadhrim as simple as possible. It’s faster if you’ve completed Book 6, but there’s a lot of quests you can do each day for both additional reputation and barter items. The quests are fairly straightforward. Pick flowers, kill orcs, scold drunk elves, and sing to trees. They’re kind of fun, fairly linear the first time you do them and there are stable-masters around Lothlorien which help in getting between elven quest camps. But, after a while, it feels a bit same-y, probably because it was originally designed to be something you could do when you wanted to escape Moria, rather than content to be done all at once because you’ve completed everything else and can’t be bothered to go back to hard-mode instances when you’ve already done them multiple times. I’m halfway through Ally with the Galadhrim and getting to Kindred for one reason only – the class-specific gift boxes (of Hell!).
Now, in order to get such a gift box, or any of the items from the Galadhrim (which includes jewellery, crafting recipes and other assorted ‘stuff’), you need to trade in barter items. For a cloak recipe I wanted, I had to recently pay 50 silver branches (not too bad, you get 3 branches for many of the repeatable quests). The gold branches are somewhat harder to grind for. You get some for doing quests, around 20 I think a friend of mine guesstimated (and he’s done all the Lothlorien quests, unlike me). You can also get them from doing the crafting instances. Each crafting instance has 3 quests, if you complete all 3, you can exchange the tokens you get for those for 1 gold leaf (keeping up with this? Bartering barter items for other barter items.. yes, good!). So, if you have the time and energy you can achieve 6 gold leaves a day. But that’s for people with a lot of time and not much else to do. The crafting instances can take 30 mins or an hour depending on your class, the mobs you get in them (it’s random between grodbog, cave claws, bats and morrovail, orcs and goblins), and whether you stop to get the crafting bits and pieces! This is the only way to get additional gold leaves.
A class-specific gift box states it gives a ‘legendary reward’, this can be anything from a first age weapon down to a pitiful 15k item xp rune. And it’s random. And for it you need 35 gold leaves and 50 silver branches. That’s a lot of grinding, by any standards, for what could be a pretty terrible reward (bear in mind you can also exchange 18 dwarf barter items – one per instance quest, so a potential max of 18 per day – for a 190k ixp rune). And also, even if I got a First Age (or Second Age, let’s not be greedy) weapon for my capt, it could still have lousy legacies and be a dagger, or similar weapon I have no intention of ever using.
Naturally, players aren’t too happy with this crap-shoot. There’s posts about it both on the Turbine and Codemasters‘ forums. There’s some remarkable stories of luck hidden in these threads, as well as the natural disappointment and frustration of getting something pretty rubbish. From the devs though only one comment – they’re looking into it. No admission that this wasn’t the planned outcome and no real direction as to whether players should wait and hang onto their barter items, or just take a punt and see what happens. I don’t know what the solution is, but these gift boxes give hope to non-raiders (such as myself at the moment) of a potential First Age reward and the grind they represent does seemingly deserve something decent (again, would be happy if it was a guarantee of something decent, not necessarily something awesome – I understand the grind/reward ratio and I don’t mind the odd reliance on random luck).
I have enough barter items now to get a Captain’s Gift Box, though I’m not yet Kindred – I will be soon though. I know I should wait and see what the devs come up with, but really, the grind is all I have of the game at the moment, so am tempted to give it a shot. Then I remember I’m fatally unlucky with most things (except in the number of Second Age weapons I have thanks to one person’s luck with drops!!)… back to the crafting instances while I mull it over.