I had some time to advance my Lore-master Aillas in the storyline, and completed 3 skirmishes: Protectors of Thangúlhad, Assault on the Necromancer’s Gate, and Assault on the Ringwraith’s Lair. I finished them, but it was ugly.
Protectors of Thangúlhad
First up in the storyline was 2.9.14, Protectors of Thangúlhad. In this skirmish, you fight with the NPC Rodelleth (who must survive) against several waves of orcs. This is a defense skirmish, and you have 3 ballistas helping you. The ballistas are aimed at spots on ground, areas that the enemies run through on the way in. If you fire a ballista at the right time, the enemies take a lot of damage (~80% of their morale), leaving you and Rodelleth reasonably easy mop up duty. But if you miss, you wind up facing 5+ full strength enemies, plus an occasional lieutenant, and those battles are really tough. Especially since Rodelleth must survive.
I failed the skirmish twice by Rodelleth dying, which in turn boiled down to me not firing the ballista in time. That was very frustrating. The first time, I panicked and ran to the wrong ballista (west, central, east) and couldn’t recover in time. During the ensuing battle, Rodelleth was defeated. The second time, I mis-timed firing the ballista and had 6+ orcs chasing me as I ran around in a circle – eventually a few peeled off and defeated Rodelleth.
The third time, everything went well and I survived all the incoming waves. I paid extra attention to firing the ballista just before a group of normal enemies reached the ground target. After surviving the attack waves, Rodelleth told me to run outside the fortress into the road, and face the final enemy, Mazaukal. For support, Rodelleth went a different weapon which also shoots a highlighted spot on the ground. The fight was tough – the Mirkwood skirmishes in general featured some tough lieutenants – but by kiting back and forth and trying to maneuver Mazaukal into the highlighted circle, I defeated him.
The key to this skirmish is firing a ballista at the right time. Groups are either a large number of normal enemies, or a group accompanied by a lieutenant. Sometimes a lieutenant runs ahead of the group, giving you a timing choice to hit the lieutenant, or most of the normal enemies following the lieutenant. I think you are far better off doing ~80% damage to the group of normal enemies, so they die faster when inside the fort attacking you and Rodelleth. At least on a class with CC skills – I can mez the lieutenant and deal with them later, meanwhile a large group of normal enemies is really tough to deal with, because their hits interrupt inductions.
I was so focused on just getting through this skirmish, I ignored all the optional encounter messages… I’ll figure out where those fights are another time.
Assault on the Necromancer’s Gate
After that comes 2.9.15: Assault on Dol Guldur. Part 1 is the skirmish “Breaching the Necromancer’s Gate”.
In this skirmish, you claim courtyards and pave the way for an attack on Dol Guldur. In between claiming a courtyard and the counterattack, a Nazgúl (I think, some large flying beast) would soar overhead, leaving a major fear DOT. So take some Conuith draughts, you will need them!
Everything went well until the fourth ward. I expected the counterattack to come from a different direction, and was caught facing the other way. One lieutenant and 3 normal enemies caught me, and in the chaos, my pet eagle was defeated. We had managed to defeat 2 of the enemies, but I was stuck with the lieutenant, and Echo of Death, and 1 normal mob left, and no pet (no means to get flank procs to heal).
So I started kiting big time, using Bane Flare on the Echo of Death (it is undead and won’t mez with Blinding Flash), and wore down the normal orc with DOTs from Burning Embers and Sign of Battle: Wizard’s Fire. I was taking a lot of damage, and exhausted Wisdom of the Council and Strength of Morale, so I kept running back, buying time for the cooldown on my Athelas potions.
Through the use of Cracked Earth and its root, and staying at extreme range and using Burning Embers and Sign of Battle: Wizard’s Fire, I eventually defeated the Echo of Death, wearing it down mostly through DOTs and an occasional direct damage skill. It took a long time, 6 minutes or more (based on cooldowns of the Athelas potion). Then I could resummon my pet and finish the skirmish. Whew!
Assault on the Ringwraith’s Lair
This is part 2 of 2.9.15.
This one went much better, probably because I noticed I could summon my skirmish soldier! I kicked myself for not noticing until this skirmish… how much better would the earlier two skirmishes have gone with my soldier along?! AARGH. Another thing that helped was NPC support during the counterattacks: Cúcheron showed up to help with the first one, and Sigileth assists with the second.
I am so happy I picked an archer for a skirmish soldier. Gúlheryn, an optional encounter, spawned and she does a large amount of shadow damage. So my tactic was kiting again, but this time in addition to the DOT I kept applying, my archer could plink away while I ran in circles. Eventually she targeted my solider, but at that point a quick Test of Will and some follow up Burning Embers (thank goodness for the slow) defeated her.
The final battle against Uluithiad was easier than the Gúlheryn fight, I thought.
I guess that is the right way to do it, since the optional encounters aren’t really necessary for completing the skirmish.
Now I have lots of skirmish options on my Lore-master, since these 3 are now available to me in the skirmish instance join panel!