Posts Tagged ‘instances’


Sunday Silliness – PuGs

May 2, 2010

I haven’t posted much about our adventures in World of Warcraft. I’m still a little freaked out to be playing it again, and though I really do love my Shaman, it was a bumpy start – and I’m still not really playing it on anything more than a casual level – hanging out with Spinks and some of her friends from her main server, and also my other sister and some people we picked up along the way (we’re on Steamwheedle Cartel, Alliance, btw).

We’re using the Dungeon Finder interface quite a lot, which means many PuGs. In general, they’ve been pretty good, and it’s definitely been a good way to get xp and decent gear and see the instances in the game. We’re now in the Outland ones, ones I’ve not seen before, so that’s fairly challenging/interesting!

Today I decided we need a game associated with being in a PuG, and devised one that can work across games – so feel free to spread the word and play along. The basic concept is ‘Word a Week’, where each week I nominate a word you need to slip into chat in your PuG, and then send in a screenshot for it. This week, I decided on ‘disenfranchised’ in celebration of this week’s UK election! I even used it in a group today, though not a PuG – but next sunday I hope to have a screenie of me saying it in a genuine PuG!

Wonder if anyone else will join in, but if not, this will be my Sunday posts for a while 🙂


It’s Because We Stepped on a Bone Pile…

January 7, 2010

In my trawling of the Turbine forums of late, I spent some time in the Instances and Raids forums. I was mostly there to look up combinations of classes that have worked in Sword-Halls hard-mode to see if there were any surprises (I think our most surprising has been capt-capt-warden, surprising due to lack of dps, not lack of anything else – both capts were healing-specced). So I went, and I looked, and of course I got drawn in to reading some other threads.

Now, I don’t tend to forum-browse all that much. I visit the Capt forums for debates on sword/shield vs halberd/greatsword and other Capt-specific areas of interest. I also don’t like to know too much about an instance or raid before I go to it and have some experience in it, so I don’t visit that specific forum area very often. When I do, I check out all the threads of interest.

So I skipped the threads about Barad Guldur – have time to go to the raid with my kin when we get started. Then I might look up specific ways others approach it, or what gear drops or what a capt role should be in the fight. As we’re all obsessed with getting some Symbols of Celebrimbor (you need them to craft 2nd Age items), I was naturally drawn to a thread about its chances to drop.

I’ve been giggling on-and-off since, because it reminded me of our highly-superstitious nature. We can be told a drop chance is 10%, 5%, 1%, 75% and we’ll still think that something about our behaviour can affect a programmed game. As humans, we seem to find random chance hard to deal with. And some of the theories are really great – if you do the fight in a certain amount of time, it increases the chances – if you don’t set off any bone piles, it increases the chances – etc.

It’s actually added to my enjoyment of Sammath Gul because now, in my warped mind, I make up fake rituals to tell people would increase their chance of a Symbol drop. I’m evil. I accept that. We all know the truth is that it’s a percentage, and therefore quite random! We’ve definitely seen it drop more than some in that thread though and less than others. Nature of the beast. I guess the only one I find somewhat believable is that easy-mode has a higher chance of it dropping, but I don’t think that IS the case, unless proven otherwise by someone willing to do the maths and to do the run a statistically significant number of times with the same 6-person group in both Challenge and non-Challenge mode.


Captains can heal?

January 5, 2010

I say this, tongue firmly in cheek, as an unapologetic healing Captain. Without bragging, I’d say we’re up there as primary healer if specced the right way and playing with a sympathetic group that understands how to make things easier for me (ie. assisting with the on-defeat heals, understanding I can barely heal myself and that healing them costs my morale).

I assume most Captains know they have this capability and those that don’t need to spec as main healers have a more hybrid approach to tackling back-up healing. Which is why it surprised me to read this thread over on the Turbine Captain forums. It starts with a simple enough question about the Dol Guldur cluster of instances – how does Captain healing fare in them?

It’s even a good question. Siege of Mirkwood brought some changes, new legacies, combat and power things to get used to. We know how we managed in the Mines of Moria and Shadows of Angmar content, with a new expansion, we want to know what’s changed with regard to healing.

The answers vary. Most commentators agree that a healing Captain works well in the 3-man instances, and that Captains couldn’t solo heal raids (which I’d hope no-one would expect them to). The answers relating to the new 6-man instance Sammath Gul are the most interesting/depressing/intriguing. It seems at the start that almost everyone (and we assume these are people who play Captains) are pretty down on the idea of a Captain solo healing the 6-man without heavy support from burglar conjunctions or other healers. At least by the current end of the thread the belief turns around with some screenshots proving it’s possible!

A couple of days ago, before the thread had fully panned out, I was a little surprised at how little faith in their own healing many Captains have. I was a little more shocked at some of the ardent disbelief people showed to players who said they HAD solo healed Sammath Gul. I don’t think I’d be so disbelieving if a Captain said they’d tanked the Sword Halls (something I’m relatively sure I couldn’t do with my current spec!).

We’re pretty resilient healers. We need a group to understand some things about our healing. That it can involve being in melee. That we can do great things with on-defeat actions (so kill little things fast for extra openings). That our healing involves using our own morale and we can’t heal ourselves much. That In Harm’s Way/Last Stand will not make the group invincible anymore, but will take half of all damage to the Captain. And that our single heal can be used on the move and is instant (though with a short cooldown). Oh, and we also have a mark that gives some healing.

Personally, I’ve main-healed every instance in the game (not raids, obviously). My group tends to consist of LM, Champ, Guardian, until Mirkwood a burglar. We often take other Champs, Hunters, to make up numbers. Most often I play with another Captain in the group, so the main-heal attempts are the exception rather than the rule, though. Didn’t try Dark Delvings after the changes made it harder (or didn’t try to solo heal it, anyway), but did it beforehand.

And yes, I’ve done Sammath Gul a few times.

Keep the Faith!


A Week (and a bit) in the Woods

December 15, 2009

It’s no secret I’ve been a bit of a slacker blogwise over the last 10 days or so. This may directly relate to Siege of Mirkwood hitting the EU servers on 3rd Dec. And what a ride it’s been, between learning the new area, tackling skirmishes, levelling again and bemoaning our lot with the Legendary Items lottery.

I thought I should do like my kinmate Berathe, and make a few observations and thoughts about Mirkwood and the development of LotRO.


I’ve not done them perhaps as much as many people, mostly I’ve concentrated on questing, but I like the skirmish system. I’ve enjoyed having a way to use up 30 mins or so in any group size from 1-12 on a whim. I like how the difficulty scales in tiers, in levels and by group size. I adore my Hobbit Sage, and I will soon get her her ultimate skill (check the Skirmish Captain for the Ultimate skills, not the Skirmish Trainer as you do for other skills). I’m glad it hasn’t become a sole focus for gaming. I love the fact parts of the epic book utilise the skirmish system (ie. scaleable grouping, having your solider along, and skirmish marks for helping others doing the quests in the future).

I can see skirmishes forming the basis for some very interesting developments in the game too. Imagine is every instance scaled from 3-12 players (let’s assume solo instancing would remove the point of some of it). I know I’ve often wished I could take 4 people into a 3-man instance – but I’d also love to see how some of them could scale. I’m sure it’s a ton of work, but I find it an intriguing notion.

I think we can say that skirmishes have delivered what they promised. While the limited number (which grows once you’ve completed Book 9), and the scripted nature, I could imagine getting bored of them, but if I manage to ration myself and never do them when I don’t feel like it, I can see the skirmish mark barter system being developed further.


Mirkwood follows an Eregion-like structure, quest in one hub, move to the next. The swift travel options open up a hell of a lot faster in Mirkwood. I think I got them almost immediately on discovering the stable-masters. The areas aren’t huge, and were very camped on the expansion launch, but even now are thinning out.

There’s a lot of daily quests. More than I’d probably do if I was in full-time work and wanted to do interesting stuff each night. By definition I don’t find daily quests that interesting. They’re more like  a red flag, capturing my attention. But they do give regular access to barter items I might want in the future and aren’t as boring as crafting instances for gold leaves that are now pointless (my own fault, I knew they would be).

I’ve enjoyed many of the quests in Mirkwood though, ignoring the standard ‘kill 10’ variety, I’ve looked for signs of the Necromancer, fought with spiders and orcs, and explored. I’m not going to say too much about other more story-based quests, except that there’s some really great unexpected ones in there that pull you straight back into the source material and suddenly remind you of the IP this is all based on again, in its purest sense.

I greatly enjoyed Book 9 and its epilogue. It’s probably up there with my favourite books, and I look forward to Volume III. I’m, again, not going to mention any details, except to say I enjoyed it a lot and I appreciated the story and the challenge level of the book, showing it doesn’t always need to be group-based to be challenging. More of this, please.


There are three 3-man instances in the Dol Guldur cluster: the Warg-Pens, the Sword-Halls and the Dungeons. I’ve now completed them all, 2/3 on hardmode as well – and I fully intend to conquer the Dungeons hardmode the next time I visit.

Compared to the Water Works and the Hall of Mirrors, I’ve really enjoyed these new 3-man instances. They’re tough, they’re clever, they need strategy! In fact, it’s almost a shame the Sword-Halls is by far the fastest and the most rewarding, so has already quickly become the default ‘farming’ instance. Me, I’d probably do them all just for fun, I don’t even know how many barter items I need – I just like them, so far.

We’ve done the 6-man, Sammath Gul a few times now, and again in terms of boss behaviour it’s been a big learning curve. When we get a fight down, we have it. I like that. And the first few times it was truly hellish, and now eminently manageable. It’s pretty rewarding, has some decent jewellery drops and has a chance to drop the item you need for the 2nd Age crafting. I hope, for us, this will become more of a default, because it gets medallions for 6 at a time, not just 3. Also, Halls of Crafting (the most recent prior 6-man) was probably the instance we did the most.

Have stepped into the raid and stepped straight out again. Maybe sometime after Xmas we’ll take a look, but we’re still doing Dar Narbugud as a kin, so who knows!


Despite all the rampant positivity, let’s first tackle the nitty-gritty, this isn’t the same amount of content we got with Mines of Moria, and it cost me the same.

It is, however, a very fun content addition with increased level cap, some fun new content, the skirmish system and I should recognise here that I’ve played through it a LOT faster than the average player. I haven’t done ALL the quests yet, but that’s only because I’ve spent less time online over the last few days.

I like the atmosphere of the new zone of Mirkwood. It’s spooky and there’s a definite sense that war is coming. I like the architecture, the gravity of the NPCs, the layout and Dol Guldur is a magnificent study in greyness. Its expanse really does give a fortress feel.

Bartering is with us for good, after it worked well in the Rift. It’s being fine-tuned to make it a bit more useful across the board. But the raid gear still works on one gem for one item specificity. I wouldn’t mind some kind of change there, due to botlenecks forming where everyone just needs 1 or 2 bits of armour that drop from the final 2 bosses (because by the nature of raiding, you generally do the first bosses a lot more often than the final ones, while learning the place). I like being able to barter for potions, and I suppose I can’t bitch too much about daily quests when it means I can get more barter tokens…

…but daily quests turn into a grind quite fast, and a fairly bland one. The same hand that gave us changing skirmishes, has also given a rather flat set of daily quests (scout 4 points x 2, destroy banners, collect badges/spears/tokens/teeth, kill wargs/orcs, etc etc). I’m already a little bored of them, and maybe I should ration how often I do them!!! And add the fact all the instances have a daily quest of hardmode, you could spend all day every day doing daily challenges in quests, instances and skirmishes. It makes my head hurt even thinking about it.

 Got this far?

Congrats. I should have put it out in chunks, but it’s here and ready, so why not? Next, thoughts for the future of expansions and LotRO.


Postcard from Dol Guldur

December 8, 2009

When I reached the lofty level of 63 in Siege of Mirkwood, I was informed my healing needed to be tested in the 3-man instances in Dol Guldur. Scary! 

Have now seen two of them and am going to stay pretty free of spoilers here, since I know lots have yet to peek in. But the two I’ve seen (Warg Pens and Sword Halls) were short, manic, and fun. And we’re learning so much each time.

Then, when more people were around, we decided to peek into Sammath Gul – the 6-man instance (we did wander into the raid, but very very quickly wandered out again!). Anyway, I don’t do many screenshots, so here’s a random and not very spoilery one of a room we cleared in Sammath Gul (see, you don’t even get to see the mobs!!! I’m so kind). I kind of want some of these curtains for my house though… watch out, minions of Sauron, we’re stealing your designer…


Don’t Fence Me … Out!

July 5, 2009

I haven’t said too much about content gating and LotRO, because previously it didn’t really affect me. I have a fairly fixed group, and we’re nutty enough that doing hard-mode Moria instances 6 times or more to get items isn’t often an issue. In fact it wasn’t an issue for us. We got equipped in good time with a full set of radiance gear from the hard-mode instances, and helped others get bits and pieces too, which is always nice. And indicates that we did the instances quite a lot more than 6 times.

We didn’t really go to The Watcher all that much though, but we’re now hoping to go on a weekly basis. Luckily having the gear already meant we didn’t have to suddenly gear up in order to go. We did, however, have to re-learn the Dark Delvings on hard-mode so we can now help equip some essential kinmates!

In comes Book 8, and more gated content. This time you need +15 radiance items (the previous set is +10), and they come from doing a certain number of runs of the new instances. There’s two 3-mans each of which you need to do 4 times. And a 6-man, which you need to do 7 times. In each, you get items that can be bartered for the radiance piece once you have enough. So this time, the game is mandating how many times you do each instance.

Previously you could go with a mixed group, do a hard-mode instance in Moria and with a lucky roll get a radiance piece. You didn’t have to do the instance 6 times, though most probably did it that often out of politeness. Also, some of the hard-mode runs were very short. Grand Stair is only about 20 mins on hard-mode, Forges about 35-40 frantic minutes – so doing multiple runs didn’t seem too bad.

The new instances involve two 3-mans, and that gives less class flexibility. And they’re tough. Which has good and bad points. On the good side they feel like a real challenge that first time you go through them, and depending on your group make-up. On the bad side, I’m not sure I’d want to do more than two runs in a session. And I’m quite good at going into hardcore mode when it comes to instances and gearing up. With apologies to my casual friends, I know that how I play doesn’t always match the casual brief.

The 6-man instance was pretty fun, and probably the easiest of the new instances. But still I know I need to do it another 6 times. And I’m about to go on holiday for two weeks, so the fear remains that everyone will be fairly bored of it by then, though I know my gang and kin will come help me get through it.

I’m hoping to get at least 1 new radiance piece before I go and be halfway to another. I believe 2 pieces and the rest of the previous radiance set is enough to go to the new raid instance – which we’re going to peek into tonight as an experiment.

I like the flexibility and challenge of offering hard-mode and easy-mode instances, of giving us properly challenging content for 3-man groups which is quite unusual and definitely making for some interesting groupings. But, I do fear that constant gating wouldn’t be my choice, if I had one. I enjoyed the Rift, where everyone could just sign up once they got to level cap and had reasonable (not awesome) traits. I enjoy the Turtle for the same reason, though I find it lame that it’s just one room, one boss, and a 5-min fight.

I miss the easy-access raiding of Shadows of Angmar. It didn’t make the actual fights any easier, Thorog, Thrang and the Balrog properly took us a while to learn. They were just as challenging as The Watcher – and we didn’t need to go through some content over and over and over again, and hope for lucky rolls (if we didn’t happen to have a good group) just so we could walk in the front door. Hopefully Turbine will bear this in mind, but I fear they’ve now thrown their weight squarely against gear acquisition as a key to raiding content.


The Battle for Lorien

June 16, 2009

Just because we had a rotten run of it on sunday, and because I’ve not really mentioned it before…

The Battle for Lorien is a battlefield instance in LotRO, which starts in Caras Galadhon. Once in, you get to direct troops to one of three barricades (helpfully called western, eastern and northern), and then to succeed you need to destroy idols held within orc encampments while also defending the barricades from swarming orcs, wargs, and occasional trolls and more ‘elite’ orcs.

While the locations of the orc encampments are fixed, the mobs you get during the barricade attacks varies quite a bit, sometimes you get an easy bunch, other times you get additional elites. It’s a bit of randomness in a time-based instance that can be quite frenetic but fun.

It’s also a pretty good way to get the barter-able gold leaves, as once you’ve done it through once you get the option to do two quests per run, which reward 5 gold leaves between them. Also, every few runs you get to complete a deed, get some kind of title and get more challenges to choose from.

So, first of all, you have to complete it through once. The tactic we’ve most often used it to send all the directable troops to one barricade (the western one, generally). Then healer/tank (usually my capt and a guardian) stay at the northern barricade and run between attacked barricades to help defend them with help from Elf NPCs.

The rest of the group gets to dash around clearing encampments of orcs to free up idols. Each idol is surrounded by some orcs that need to be killed and then someone needs to head to a barricade and pick up a banner – the idol is only vulnerable when the banner is near it (and the banner has a timer on it). Sounding fun? It’s easier than it sounds, but the first time you run it, when no-one has any idea where anything is… well, it might be best to just treat that as a training run and let everyone acquaint themselves with the layout.

During the instance some named mobs appear, and one of the subsequent quests is to kill one of those as well as complete all the other tasks. This isn’t too bad at all, as long as you’ve vaguely noted their spawn points. Other tasks include making sure the quest-giver takes very little damage and completing the instance in 30 mins. For the record we’ve made the time a few times, but depends on the spawns at the barricades and group make-up. It’s worth pointing out that you can only do the main quest and one of the sub-quests, so you can pretty much decide which you prefer, which I do kind of like (though part of me wishes you had to at least do each one once to get some kind of special title – who knows, maybe you do!)

So, why am I writing this all now? We’ve obviously done it a few times and we’ve had it both easy and hard. It’s amazing how much it depends on the spawns at the barricades. Often we have to call for assistance from the rest of the group and their ability to help depends on navigation, timing and us knowing when a fight is going downhill fast. On sunday we had the worst possible string of spawns (I hope!), me & my guardian pal were fighting non-stop for longer than I think we have in a very long time. It really pushed us to the limit and we took longer than we’ve taken before (while completing it), and it felt great.

Sometimes, it feels good to push yourselves past that kind of limit, to win an unwinnable situation (on paper). And it’s been a good week for that for us!


Some Good Stuff (LotRO)

May 13, 2009

There’s been a lot of chit-chat recently about the dearth of content for those of us at the end-game of LotRO at the moment. It’s true, Book 7 brought in very little except a bit of a grind, and that means we enter a bit of a malaise about having to grind or play elsewhere. But, as a reaction, I’ve also been thinking about a few of the little things I like about the game, ignoring obvious things like the look-and-feel and my lovely character class.

  1. Naming items, talked about it yesterday in the blog, the more we can name, the more difference it makes to us. Weapons especially suit being named. Of course the risk is there that people will name things stupidly, but really, if it’s not out in the open for everyone to see, it’s not that big a deal
  2. Content for small groups. Not just quests, but instances. LotRO brought in some 3-man instances with Moria, as well as some solo ones. Although I may have done the solo ones way too many times to really talk about them too sympathetically, they still remain a challenge to me in some way (esp the item xp ones), and I applaud their appearance in the game. The 3-man instances did remarkably well for not requiring specific classes, and I look forward to the seeing scaleable instances whenever they’re introduced. Next a game needs to work on some duo content!
  3. The cosmetic clothing system is really cool, allowing customisation beyond merely equipment that you have to wear to be more effective. It allows for some real thought and care as to what you display to the outside world, and you can have two separate outfits set up, as well as your actual equipment set. Coupled with dye it means I can dress as a pirate, or farmer, or wear a dress!! All while still in full heavy armour. Turbine have said they’re looking into cosmetic weaponry, something I know we’ll all be just as excited about.
  4. Legendary weapons/items. Items that level either with or independently of the character. It’s a n interesting concept, even if the LotRO implementation needs some tweaking (see Pearls of Unwisdom for details)
  5. Epic books, and epic questlines. despite some noticeable gaps in levels needed for the epic questline in LotRO, the fact these quests have in-depth story ramifications and a truly epic feel to them (mostly, I’m ignoring the delivery bits!) mean a lot to me. They introduce group content, interesting plots and instances, solo bits and pieces to get on with, and they have a progression to them that’s separate from other parts of the game. ie. you can get to 60 and not have finished them at all! They add storytelling and narrative to the game, and I’ll always love them in concept, even if I criticise individual ones. Other games have similar, but not quite packaged in the same way.
  6. Trophies. I’m not a massive fan of the housing, except the kin housing. But, I love the trophies from bosses and random mobs that I can mount in my personal house. We all like to show off, from titles to cool gear. Although no-one much may visit my house, I love going there and seeing all my favourite trophies out on show.
  7. The music system. Popped into my mind while I was writing about something completely different. I don’t do much with the music system, but it’s an incredible addition flavour-wise. You can learn to play different instruments, you can play original or non-original music, you can synch up with your friends and make a band. I’d love to see something like this in all games to help players expfess their creativity.

As promised

January 29, 2009

A little update on LotRO and my life.

First of all, work is quite busy and very under-staffed all the way through till March, so I just offered up every free day I have for overtime. Have to pay for the trip to Comic Con ssomehow! But it means I’m more tired than usual and a bit sick of it all. Luckily discovered work had in some of the graphic novels I want on order, so reserved them all. Plus I’m doing a display of BAFTA/Oscar nominated actors in the DVD section. Little things, eh?

The group I mostly play with have now managed all the Moria instances on hard-mode, enough that I will one day do a write up about them all and mark them. They were a decent challenge and look forward to seeing what’s to come.

To answer the biggest question of the week, though, faming second age weapons and items – one of the best places we think we’ve found is the moria-orc areas outside of Moria, there’s some argument over whether the sappers in the first camp have a higher chance of dropping. So we often hang around them, but not convinced they’re any more lucky than any other level 60 humanoid mobs!



City Dungeon – Altdorf

January 11, 2009

It’s so bad, I’m not even sure what the dungeon I was co-opted into was – something sewer-y, with skaven.

I went back to WAR to participate in some secretly arranged push for territory – it was to be my triumphant return as Kaja, doing something I didn’t need to be too stressed about, checking out ORVR and distracting me from levelling my Knight. And we were in Reikland, an area I’m ashamed to say I don’t know so well. We kicked some butt. We took some BOs, we watched for Destruction, we formed an Alliance warband when the other two warbands out and about got too full and we wanted to be together. We defended a BO – it was good, but chaotic, like I remember.

And then it happened, someone on Alliance was desperate for a healer that didn’t have locks to somewhere. Someone in our guild suggested me. I put them off by saying I r eally was just here for the oRVR. They kept bugging me. Friend from guild kind of pushed me along too. I was told it was ‘just half an hour’ and so I caved and went. Bad call. I was in a group where I knew no-one, with people who’d been waiting an hour for a healer, and who had high expectations of me. And my heart wasn’t really in it. I told them I’d never been and to explain things about fights. They said ‘just heal’. The majority of the dungeon was pretty easy, it seemed to me. It really was just heal – but it also wasn’t half an hour. Then we got to the end fight, which no-one decided to explain, until I died (of course). Then we did it again, and a third time – all the while with me getting not-so-helpful advice about my healing, which really didn’t help at all. I ended up stressed, miserable, but easily keeping them healed. But I had a rotten time.

Weirdly, the fight was almost identical to one in a LotRO instance that I ran with a group of friends the next night. One that I didn’t feel stressed about at all. It’s probably what I feel comfortable doing with each character and a sign of how long it is since I’ve played Kaja that I feel uncomfortable and unsure of my abilities. But I guess I’m also unsure of new people, not as sociable as I once was – and though it’s nice to see new content, I somehow have become used to seeing it on my own terms, and this unsettled me. I haven’t been back to WAR since, but I think I’ll pop in sometime soon, just to assure the guild I’m not THAT freaked out!