LoTRO has basically been my #1 or #2 game since I started playing. Sure, I’ve wandered off and played other MMOs, but I still would spent time in Middle Earth. I’d take breaks from MMOs entirely, but come back to LoTRO.
However now I have 2 friends playing ESO with me, and a lot of enthusiasm for FF14, LoTRO is getting moved to #3 game in my MMO rotation. Basically I’ll log on every week or so and play a bit, more as a way to add in some variety or do something different for a few hours.
That made me crunch some numbers about which server to concentrate on. My Beorning on Shadowfax is level 21, at roughly 96K total XP according to the character XP table section, with ~8 hours played. My Beorning on Arkenstone is level 41, at 1200K experience, with ~50 hours played. Basically 12.5 times the experience points with 6.25 times as long playing.
Obviously it is difficult to compare due to server rules differences, but it got me thinking… and my gut feeling is that the xp boosts from Shadowfax and the increased landscape difficulty I picked (tier 3: Deadly), are mostly offset by how much longer combat takes.
That is to say: I leveled slower on Shadowfax than Arkenstone, even after a 1.25 (landscape difficulty) X 1.25 (Derudh’s stone) X 1.5 (Shadowfax XP buff) = 2.34 xp multiplier, due to how much longer combat takes. “Longer combat” entails everything – having to pull more carefully, moving for better positioning, picking off one or two mobs at a time; having to heal more; having to run out of the AoE of Eye of Sauron, etc.
The real way to compare would be to start another Beorning on Shadowfax, take the normal difficulty, and play for 8 hours and see where I end up. Without actually spending 8 hours I think I’d be far past the start of Vol 1 Book 2 (where I am with my first Beorning on Shadowfax), or at least have ground out various virtues by doing deeds in the Bree area.
On Arkenstone my char has decently leveled virtues because I spent the time finishing quest deeds, exploration deeds, kill deeds, as well as farmed historian/scholar mats to level crafting.
I have done zero of that on Shadowfax.
One other significant advantage of Arkenstone are skirmish camps. I do have fun playing the skirmishes, but the real perk there is upgrading my gear every 3-4 levels. That’s huge, I don’t have to deal with crafting and the gear is much better than the quest drops. Yes, some quest rewards are great, but your character has 7 jewelry slots, 1 pocket item (taken by the Derudh’s stone, can get ones later with a higher level cap), 7 armor slots, and up to 3 weapons (primary, secondary, or two-handed; ranged) and it’s tough to keep all that reasonably current. Except skirmish camps make it easy.
Skirmishes don’t appear until the server advances to Mines of Moria. The camps are there but the NPCs aren’t functional.
I don’t mean to sound down on Shadowfax, this is more me trying to figure out how to optimize the playtime to advance in the storyline. It’s been a while since I’ve played through Shadows and Angmar and Mines of Moria and I’d like to revisit but also get to the large amount of content after those!
My bear is the one in the foreground (in human form), not the camera shy one on the hill in the distance.
So, I’m planning to resume playing my Beorning on Arkenstone. He is level 41, early in the Vol 1 Book 5 storyline, with virtues in the high teens (max virtue is half your level), on a server with skirmish camps… too many advantages.