Actual Play MMO & Computers

LotRO: Rise of Isengard Release Day

Also known as “Thank god I lagged out, or I might have never logged off.”

Okay, here are some thoughts, in no real order.

I had a busy night last night, so I didn’t even approach my computer or start the patch upgrade until about eight pm, which process was not helped by the fact that I was also in the middle of converting the Lasers are Magical video into the correct format to play on the big screen in my Captains Quarters on EVE.

Anyway, patch update: seemed to go fine, once I was actually able to get through the queue and connect to the servers.

I’ve never been around for the first day of a major content release on LotRO (or, in fact, any other MMO), because they usually happen in November, and I’m always busy. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t in a big hurry to get to the new content this time either. Don’t get me wrong: the new story arcs sound really cool, but I’d prefer to go through them for the first time when Kate does, so I’m waiting.

Also… there’s the tiny little problem where I have a whole bunch of level 65s, and none of them are actually “ready” to move on in the storyline, according to my own sad little set of criteria. In descending order of importance, I want any character going into the new content to:

  • Have the previous area (Enedwaith) basically complete, preferably with at least my reputation with the Grey Company maxed out.
  • Be all caught up on the Epic Storyline, so that I can move forward.
  • Be done with the “In Their Absense” mini-arc, which requires a handful of 3- and 6-man instance runs to complete.
  • Have any other outstanding ‘stuff’ wrapped up from the level-65 storylines.

All of my characters have a problem with this list at some point.

  • Tyelaf finished up Enedwaith, just finished up the Epic storyline, maxed out his rep with both the Grey Company and the Algraig, but hasn’t done In Their Absence. Also, while he’s the first guy I took through Enedwaith, he’s probably the worst one to use to explore new content, IMO, because pairing him up with Kate’s hunter (who will ALWAYS be the first one into a new zone), gets wonky. Also, he still isn’t done with the frakking end of Volume 2 of the Epic book, because I could never get a group to do Sammath Gul with him.
  • Radigwen is also done with Enedwaith content, and I believe she’s done with the Epic storyline and maybe with at least Grey Company rep. She hasn’t done In Their Absence, however, and I also want to get her through Mirkwood content. (Yeah yeah, I know… I skipped it and now I want to finish it. Sue me.)
  • Geiri isn’t done with Enedwaith… or the Epic storyline… or In Their Absence. Honestly, where do I get off calling this guy my main?
  • Finn is completely backwards. He’s not even started on the Epic, is only about halfway through Enedwaith, doesn’t have any rep with anyone… but he’s done with In Their Absence. 😛

So, suffice it to say that I didn’t head for Dunland straight off. Honestly, with my limited time last night, all I really did was log in everyone, rearrange their gear and traits to take advantage of the new changes, and then poke around on whatever quests I was already working on with them to get a feel for things.

(This was, incidentally, how the Mines of Moria expansion worked — several weeks of playing with the changes before the new zones and level cap went in. Personally, I prefer it. I’m in no rush to either gobble up all the content OR get to the level cap. I mean, it’s not like I won’t have a year or more at the new cap no matter how long I take to get there.)

They shortened up the animation for mounting your horse. That’s awesome, and not in the patch notes. Love it.

Tyelaf wants to know who came up with that bullshit line about having fewer skills on his bar: he has two more than he used to have, and they’re both skills that really need to go into his regular rotation.

Radigwen likes the space available on her skillbar, but finds the Master of Beasts traitline kind of hard to set up well for soloing. There are a lot of useful skills in the line if you’re in a group — I suspect it will be a good off-healer for a group or main-healer-for-a-three-man — but which aren’t that useful if you’re solo. (LOTS of healing skills that I just don’t need that much when solo.)

Geiri thinks he hits things very hard indeed. Nothing much really changed for him, except it seems he’s gotten better at the stuff he was already good at.

Finnras summoned up the oathbreaker bound to his service (ironic, that) and went out to kick the crap out of stuff in a traitline I rarely use… and had a great time. I’m enjoying the captain tweaks immensely.

All in all, I like the changes to the gameplay a lot, and I’m looking forward to the new content.

… now I just need to decide who’s going there first…

MMO & Computers

LotRO: Rise of Isengard Patch Notes – My thoughts.

My first thought: as a player with a lifetime subscription, the fact that the latest expansion abbreviates to “ROI” is just… amusing. Maybe you need to be exposed to marketing and management speak a lot to appreciate it, but yeah… funny.

Anyway. Here’s the stuff in the patch notes that caught my eye.

The caps on Primary characteristics — Might, Agility, Vitality, Will and Fate – have been
completely removed.

Geiri (guardian) and Tyelaf (hunter) like this change. No one else really gives a crap, because the no one else has any stat remotely close to the cap.

Stat Consolidation

  • Resistance– This stat will replace the various resistance ratings to specific types Fear, Disease, Poison and Wound.
  • Tactical Mitigation – This stat will replace the various mitigation types used for the tactical skills: Fire, Lightning, Frost, Acid and Shadow.
  • Critical Hit Rating – Will replace the separate Melee, Ranged and Tactical Critical Hit ratings previously appearing on items.

There are few-verging-on-no games in which simplifying such things doesn’t make the game more enjoyable and less of a pain in the ass for players both new and old. I’m looking at you, EVE Online.

My notes on individual class changes are inline…


  • Skill: Shield of the Dunedain: Now a ‘Fast’ skill.
    As the primary “oh crap my tank is dying” skill for captains, this is a great change.
  • Skill: In Defence of Middle-earth: The values of the buff now continue increasing past level 50.
    Considering the level cap went past 50 two years ago, allow me to say “About frelling time.”
  • Trait: Relentless Optimism: Potency of your “Healing Crits” increased from 10% to 50%.
    This is good. I never used this trait because it just wasn’t enough pay-off, given my mediocre chance to crit. This change, however, makes it quite worthwhile. Kate (as the Power of Optimism) will be thrilled.
  • Skill: In Defence of Middle-earth: This skill is now a toggle (no cost).
    Instead of a skill you have to renew every five goddamn minutes? Hurrah!
  • Trait: Strength from Within: No longer prevents the Captain from summoning Heralds or Archers.
    I had missed this change! This is great! I can have a self-heal without giving up my Herald – sweet!
  • Trait: Blood of Numenor has been moved to “Hands of Healing” trait line.
    Considering Blood of Numenor is a “rez” trait and Hand of Healing is the (duh) healing trait line, this just makes sense.
  • [A whole bunch of stuff that lets “Leader of Men” captains get and hold aggro better.]
  • Trait: Subtle Command has been moved to “Leader of Men” trait line.
    What? Subtle Command reduces the threat you generate form Healing… it’s a terrible trait that no Captain I know ever really used, but why would you put it into the Tanking trait line? Unless…
  • Trait: Subtle Command is now “Improved Routing Cry” which adds a force attack to “Routing Cry.”
    Which turns an AoE Attack into an AoE Attack + Taunt. Nice. I see what you did there, Turbine. Now if only we could use Routing Cry more often, or at the start of a fight, instead of only after we defeat someone…
  • Legendary Trait: Leader of Men: Now allows “Routing Cry” to be used without a Defeat
    … fair enough.Still, it’s a pity that a tanking-traitline Captain won’t be able to use a nice big two-handed sword when they’re doing their job, the way Aragorn does…
  • Legendary Trait: Leader of Men: Captains are able to Block (as well as parry) when wielding a 2-handed weapon.
    Well-played, sir. Well. Played.
  • Legendary Trait: Defy Corruption: Changed to “Fellowship-brother.” This trait allows the various ‘Brother’ skills to affect your fellowship with lesser versions of their effects.
    Yes! You just got rid of the most rarely used Legendary Trait in the class, and replaced it with the most sought-after ability from the Leader of Men traitline! Well done! This is going to make my selection of Legendary traits much more difficult, and that is a Good Thing!

Am I using a lot of exclamation points? I feel like I am. These are good changes. I’m excited.

I don’t play a champion, but this patch note made me laugh:

Skill: Improved Feral Strikes: Once again uses the correct animation. The animation issue was an artifact of a bygone stage of development where the skill was going to merge with… are you actually still reading this?

Heh. Turbines knows their Champions… and knows what their attention span is like.

I will say this, though: there are a LOT of Champion changes. A lot. I hope it’s all good stuff, cuz… Wow. Four pages of notes.


  • Guardians get a little more damage to their skills, especially those skills primarily used when a shield is equipped.
    Tanking buff is best buff.
  • Skill: Improved Charge: This skill is now overwritten by Falling Injuries.
    Aww, MAN… I used that thing all the time to ignore broken ankles! 
  • [A number of traits got swapped from one tanking traitline to the other tanking traitline, and vice versa.]
    Eh. I need to get into the game to grok what they actually did, but it looks like more consolidating the lines into “Use this one to tank lots of smaller dudes” and “Use this one to tank one big horrifying Thing.” Which is fine.
  • Skill: Protection: Now useable on escorted NPCs.
    WHAAAAAT?!? I can protect the NPCs I’ve been tasked to protect? Inconceivable. I wonder if I’ll be able to use it on “This guy that must live” NPCs in Skirmishes…
  • Skill: Bash and Shield-smash will now interrupt inductions when the monster is stun-immune.
    Wow. That’s two additional ways for a Guardian to interrupt casters. Nice.
  • New Skill: Protection: By the Sword: A new version of Protection available while in Overpower stance. This new toggle skill will increase the target’s melee damage by +2% and transfer any Parry events to the Guardian while nearby.
    What’s that, Turbine? You’ve realized that a dude with a two-handed weapon can ALSO protect someone? Good thinking.
  • New Skill: Improved Guardian’s Defence: This skill will now place an effect on anything that attacks the Guardian. This effect will lower the movement speed of the attacker if it does not continue to attack the Guardian.
    I love this. In PvE, this puts a slow effect on the Boss’s that go wandering off to kill your healer, giving you time to get them back on you. In PvP, there’s ACTUALLY SOMETHING FOR A TANKING GUARDIAN TO DO to protect his allies. I also like that it’s a slow, not some kind of actual root or something that interferes with the crowd-control classes.
  • New Skill: Improved Challenge: This skill will now place an effect on a monster that will lower the movement speed of the monster if it does not continue to attack the Guardian for the next 30 seconds.
    And this… Same deal. Brilliant.
  • Skill: Ignore the Pain: Now grants a Block event in addition to removing Wounds.

Seriously? Even if there was no change to the level cap (there is), these changes would be huge.

I only wish Turbine had put these changes into effect a few weeks before they raised the level cap, the way they did when Mines of Moria came out. There’s so much here to get used to, and doing all that in addition to new levels and new content is going to be crazy.


  • Skill: Quick Shot:  Increased the de-taunt amount while in Endurance Stance. Increased the critical chance of while in Precision Stance.
    This is good.
  • Stance: Strength: Removed the threat and Power use penalties.
    Aww… Strength-stance hunters won’t pull aggro like a magnet and die horribly all the time? Sheesh, what will I do for chuckles during raids?
  • Stance: Precision: Remove the penalty to target’s Block/Parry/Evade ratings.
  • This stance will now add 1 Focus every 5 seconds.
    Okay then.
  • Stance: Endurance: Added Increase Parry chance +5%.
  • Skill: Set Snare: This bleed will now stack from multiple Hunters.
    /me high-fives other hunters.
  • Skill: Needful Haste: Reduced the duration of skill to 15 seconds.
  • … and reduced the Cooldown to 1m30s.
    Well… okay. Fine. Half duration. Half the cooldown. Stilll…
  • This skill is now usable while moving and is slightly faster.
    … Nevermind. We’re cool.
  • New Skill: Split Shot: 1.5 second induction skill. Grants 1 Focus. 10 second cooldown. This skill will attack the target plus one additional target nearby.
    Did… did you just… finally… give us the hunter skill we see in the very first game trailer? *wipes away tear* I love you guys.
  • Skill: Hunter’s Art: Costs 3 Focus. This skill applies a stackable buff to the Hunter dependent on what stance the Hunter is in as well as damaging the target.
    “We’re going to give you a skill that makes you more awesome at the things you like doing.” Yeah… I’m failing to see a downside here.
  • Trait: Strong Draw: Changed to increase the damage of “Penetrating Shot” and “Blood Arrow” by +10%.
    Sweet. This is my ‘every other shot’ skill, so I’m a BIG fan.
  • Trait: Graceful Draw: Removed from the game.
    *sarcastic goodbye wave*
  • Trait: Spring Loaded Traps: Replaces Graceful Draw. This trait adds an effect to “Set Trap” that will increase all damage done to the target for 10 seconds.
    Trap-traited hunters (and their friends) rejoice.
  • Trait: Enduring Precision – Removed from the game.
  • … and replaced with Earthborn.
  • Trait: Earthborn: This skill adds +20% to the morale and power restore of “Strength of the Earth.”
    But what about…
  • “Strength of the Earth” will also now generate 1 Focus per second.
    … Hmm.  I get a skill that gives me focus when I use it… which I can’t do while attacking… to replace the automatic generation of Focus that happens just… whenever. Constantly. Dunno if I like this one. Focus-churn is such a big deal with the way I play… 

    … except I just remembered that simply BEING IN PRECISION STANCE gives me 1 focus every 5 seconds, without a trait.


  • New Skill: Improved Quick Shot: Gains a 30% chance to generate an additional point of Focus. Stacks with the Huntsman trait set bonus up to 50%
  • Traits: Improved Fleetness: Removed the -10% attack speed bonus. Add +1 Focus every 5 seconds.
    Terrible skill and terrible trait were recently made less terrible. This makes them even more less-terrible, so that’s good. Still don’t think I’d ever use this trait, but still.
  • Trait Set: Huntsman 3 equipped traits – Added +1 “Split Shot” targets.
    Meaning I hit three guys. Nice. I’m going to like this skill.

What about…


  • The “Warding Knowledge” skills have been consolidated into one skill.
    I admit: fewer skills on my bars will make me happy. This is a trend in all class-notes, but very prevalent for Loremasters.
  • “Leechcraft” and “Tend the Sick” have been consolidate into one skill: “Knowledge of Cures.” In addition…
    Yeah. They changed a bunch of stuff here. Generally, I like it. It’s simpler, and it always works in Combat. I’m sure there are downsides, but they’re too nuanced for my little brain to handle without seeing it in play. Also: I mostly solo with my loremaster, so I kinda don’t care that much right now.
  •  Skill: Back from the Brink: Range increased from 5m to 25m. This skill no longer requires a material component and no longer debuffs the target.
    All good. It was also so silly how close the LM had to be to rez someone, and the material components requirement was just… damned odd, honestly.
  • [A whole bunch of Loremaster pet buffs.]
    I love that people think this traitline is underpowered, because (a) I play with this traitline and (b) it isn’t. So I just got a big buff. Woot. 

And aside from that, not much changed with Loremasters. Unlike…


Holy crap. Five pages of patch notes. I’ve been reading up on these changes for the last month and I still can’t quite parse everything that’s happening.

On one hand, it’s going to be like playing a whole different class.

On the other, it’s going to be like playing the same class, boiled down to its most relevant parts. Minstrel-gumbo, if you will.

I do not envy my minstrel friends their learning curve — I will just try hard not to make their job any harder.

All in All…

I’m excited, and not just about the stuff I’ve mentioned here. New zones, new levels, new code… it looks like a really good expansion.