LoTRO – A Bit of Evendim

Vol 1 Book 4 of the epic storyline is a level 37 quest, so after finishing up Book 3 in the North Downs, I journeyed west to Evendim. My plan was to adventure there and go to the Trollshaws for Book 4 once I reached level 37.

I’ve done Evendim before, and I figured it wouldn’t take too long. Plus, I was already level 35, so I didn’t need many levels at all. After helping the rangers at Tinnudir, helping (on behalf of the rangers) the people at Ost Forod, I was nearly level 37. It only took one sweep through the ruins on Rantost (i.e. doing the initial quests there) to level up!

I feel like I should press on and do the Rantost wrap-up quest instance, Thief-Taker’s Bane, rather than bail out on them. 😉

Until now I’ve been taking my time through each zone, stopping to work on kill-deeds. That was fine in the beginning area, where the numbers were something like 30/60… now in Evendim it is more like 90/180, and that makes for a lot of time just to get a bit of virtue xp plus a deed finished (which generally grants you a title). I fell off finishing kill deeds in the North Downs, since many of them are higher level and to the east of Esteldin. and I know from previous playthroughs that I’ll be back soon enough.

I can get accelerator scrolls, and it is decent xp since the fights are on-level… but I’m leaning towards advancing the storyline over doing the kill-deeds right now. Maybe compromise and make an effort to finish the quest-deeds and the exploration-deeds but defer the kill-deeds to another time. I do want to keep my virtues decently leveled so that’s the big dilemma.

I may switch up crafting. By and large the only kind of crafting I really think is worthwhile is making consumables. In LoTRO that’s mainly hope tokens, scrolls, and food… but I know from my other characters that food is really the only one I use in any kind of volume. Sure, for group content, tokens and scrolls are commonly used, but food is also commonly use solo too (although due to revamps of content over time, these days you don’t even need that since landscape fights are balanced on the easy side).

However, as a Beorning, I get a racial skill to bake honey cakes (!) so I can take the super lazy way out and just use that. In which case maybe Historian for Scholar would be more useful – I could make my own scrolls (battle lore, warding lore). My racial food buff doesn’t last long so if I eat it would only be preparing for a big fight. But it is free, quick (only a skill induction to create the food; no materials or cooking fire needed) and doesn’t take any time or money to grow/cook.

Right now I’m a Woodsman, which includes Forester and Woodworker (i.e. gathering wood and crafting wood). That felt thematic and appropriate for a Beorning… but I’m not using any of the stuff I’m crafting. It’s basically gather, gather, gather, then craft into the trash (i.e. sell everything). I just craft to raise a number, rather than actually use any of it.

Back on Landroval I had every class so I could use every craft. For woodworker I could make carvings for a warden and instruments for a minstrel. On Arkenstone I just want to stick to playing one character > 90% of the time! So the question is what crafting vocation would be most useful to a single character, and I think the answer is Yeoman – except for Beornings since that class can make morale/power regen food for free. So for Beornings I think it would be Historian (Scholar) to make offense/defense scrolls, and that’s what I’m going to change to.

2020 Partly in Review

Switch

Nintendo sends out a summary of games played and so forth:

The bulk of my hours was split between Slay the Spire (which I also own on Steam), Fitness Boxing, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate.

StS is fantastic and my total combined time on Steam and Switch is approaching 300 hours. My favorite character is the Defect, whose mechanic is summoning and evoking orbs for various effects: lightning for damage, frost for shield, plasma for energy, and dark for damage (scales up over time). On Steam, I’m at ascension level 6, whereas on Switch I’m on ascension level 2. The game has randomness, but allows skillful choices to steer towards an improved/better outcome. It is easy to pause and resume, which really helps.

Playstation

I remember getting these kinds of summaries for Playstation, but I haven’t seen it yet. So… not sure, maybe it is still coming? I’m curious what my numbers look like there. It’ll be mostly God of War, ESO, some Ghost of Tsushima.

PoGo

Over in Pokémon Go, I hit level 41:

I have the XP for level 42, but lack 2 of the achievements: using berries to catch 200 pokémon, and evolving each of the eevees. The latter is the reason I’m currently walking a flower eevee – getting in 10km for a future flower Umbreon (and later, flower Espeon). The Glaceon and Leafeon evolve with special lures on pokéstops, while the Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon are random (which is extremely annoying). Playing the odds I evolved 2 flower eevees into a Flareon and Jolteon, but producing a Vaporeon is now just a 1/3 chance so I’ll just do regular eevees since they are more plentiful.

I’m evolving flower eevees for this (except for the Vaporeon as noted above) because I already have a set of shiny and regular eeveelutions. I’ll work on a different set, flower eevees instead – and I don’t have enough party hat eevees for a set of those. I already used the naming trick or I’d be able to guarantee myself a flower hat Vaporeon. I know, I know, #firstworldPoGoproblems.)

Disc Golf

I took up disc golf midway through the year, as a way to get some social distance outdoors fun in. I found out that a few friends also played, without any of us knowing the others did. I also introduced 2 friends to the game (and am working on another) so once it warms back up I’m looking forward to playing a round every week or so.

Of course there is an app for that, and I’m using UDisc, the official app of the Professional Disc Golf Association. It’s pretty handy, letting you keep score, and often displaying a map of the course. It utilizes the phone very well, letting you measure how far you threw a disc with GPS (subject to GPS accuracy).

I’m a RHBH thrower (right hand back hand) and a good throw for me is a little over 200 feet. I’ve tried forehand and it feels really weird. So, something to work on here and there. I can improve my distance by at least 50% (i.e. throwing for 300 feet) so there is huge room for improvement.

I’m also working on accuracy, throwing the direction I want to go. 😉 I am fairly accurate, so my favorite courses are wooded or lightly wooded, since those tend to have shorter distances from tees to baskets, favoring accuracy over distance. Worst case for me are wide open courses, because those tend to have large distances involved – after all, if there aren’t many obstacles the only way to increase difficulty is to lengthen the holes.

MMOs

I’m going to try a round robin system in 2021. If left to my normal scheduling, I’ll tend to “split” time between 2 games in a 80-20 proportion, which is pretty far off of 50-50. 3 games comes down to 70-20-10 or even 80-10-10 – basically one game is dominant while the others get a cursory log in.

But I like 3 games… FF14 has a fun storyline, smooth mechanics, and above all hassle-free grouping. Which is the point, otherwise I could be playing a single player game. I’m nearly at Ishgard and looking forward to unlocking Astrologian.

LoTRO of course is my very long term game, which I wander away from but come back missing it. I left my Boerning partway through Vol 1 Book 3, Defense of Trestlebridge as I recall, and want to move him along. I somehow have not managed to meet up with the coworker who also plays, but that’s fine, I’m poking along with a different character than the one I used my Valar boost on. Maybe I’ll just give up on meeting up with my coworker and look for a kinship to join.

ESO’s action combat feels a lot different, but the variety is nice. Now that I switched over to the Stadia version, I can play while visiting family (and also freed up nearly 100 GB on my gaming PC). I have a friend also playing via Stadia, so there is the possibility of questing together with someone I know, maybe even doing some basic dungeons. I don’t think we’re interested in hardcore modes, veteran modes, any of that stuff…. just the basic XYZ Dungeon I version would be a ton of fun.

So, I was thinking about some kind of day-pinning rotation: ESO on Tue/Fri, FF14 on Wed/Sat, LoTRO on Thu/Sun (with Mon off since that’s currently Zoom boardgames night). I’ll schedule ESO first as that’s the game I have a friend actively playing, and try to sync up. So this overall plan is a 33-33-33 split without emphasizing or ignoring any particular game.

Or maybe be more flexible and try for something like ESO Tue, FF14 Wed, LoTRO Thu, and then whatever for the other 3 available days. Worst case one game gets 2/3rds of the attention, but at least play each game once a week.

I know, probably overthinking this but that’s what this end of the year planning time is for. 🙂

LoTRO – Troll Cave

Back in Middle Earth I began a task Halbarad set out for me: get Dwarves, Elves, and Men to cooperate against the threat of Angmar. That is, I was working on Vol 1 Book 3. 🙂

I decided to take a quest I generally ignore, one that led to a giant troll cave south east of Meluinen.

I defeated the troll-keeper, Favargair, and also completed troll slaying deed because there were so many inside the cave system.

There were also trolls outside, east past Merenost. I had ventured here a few times in the past but also generally didn’t need to (due to xp buffs and so on, not needing to do every single quest available for quite a while).

As for the troll I fought, it is true even in bear form he was bigger that me, but he was not the victor!

Next session I plan to finish up book 3 and then see how many levels I am away from starting book 4 on level. In the past I would either complete the east side of North Downs, or go to Evendim. I remember doing some quests out of Tinnudir on my Lore-master, the character I most recently leveled into the 40’s. I may stick around the North Downs and work on slayer deeds in order to get my virtues to decent levels.

LoTRO – Finishing up the Lone Lands

My typical leveling path in LoTRO is to go from Bree to the Lone Lands. I know that there are some high-teens levels quests in north Bree, and those lead right into the early quests in Trestlebridge, but by the time I’m done with the Barrow-Downs area I’m also ready to start Vol 1 Book 2, the Red Maid, and that is all in the Lone Lands.

As a result, I’ve played through the Lone Lands many times and was ready to move along from Ost Guruth and wrap up Vol 1 Book 2.

I also wanted to work on virtues, including slayer deeds, so I used one of my daily hobbit gifts – a 90 min accelerator – and went into Nan Dhelu looking to kill as many undead as possible. Which was easy because it is filled with them and Radagast sends you in twice for various quests.

Along the way I ran into a rare Elite I hadn’t seen before – Klakki. He caught me a bit by surprise because I thought he was the Master of Nan Dhelu, a different quest I was trying to finish. But it was fine, my yellow line Beorning (The Roar) feels pretty strong.

As for virtues, I’m revamping a bit after finding a guide for healing Boernings, what I plan to do for group content later on. It turns out that I’m a huge fan of mitigation and resistance virtues, so much so I was essentially slotting tank virtues, where healers would find outgoing healing and critical rating more valuable.

I could probably try both (i.e. level up both sets of virtues) in case I want to try tanking, but for now I’ll work on getting healing virtues up, one at a time, and slowly replace my current loadout.

I did finish up Vol 1 Book 2, and right as I was leaving the Lone Lands, I dinged level 30. Which let me start my level 30 class quest… out of Ost Guruth. So I turned around and did that too.

Off to Esteldin, to talk to Halbarad and start Vol 1 Book 3.

*put on geezer hat and sits in rocking chair*

I remember in the “old” days when you had to RUN to Esteldin the first time. No mounts until level 40. Young ‘uns got it easy with mounts at level 20 and even lower.

*old timer mode off*

In fact it’s easier still! I talked to Candaith at his campfire just NW of Weathertop and it turns out his horse will fast travel you to Esteldin. No more long run from Trestlebridge!

I remember the first time I ran out to Esteldin on my then main character, a hunter in the low 30’s. No mount yet, I asked in kinship how rough the run was. Everybody said: no problem at all, very easy. And it was quite safe, sticking to the road I didn’t even aggro anything. It just took a few minutes to cruise through the countryside.

LoTRO – Bears

So one “problem” with LoTRO is I like all the classes. After any kind of break, when I come back, I think about starting again. The general thought process is:

  • Let’s try a pet class – I’ll make a Captain or Lore Master
  • Oh but healers are useful – I’ll make a Minstrel or Rune-Keeper
  • Ah but the gambit skill system is so unique – I’ll make a Warden
  • Hm it’s fun to start fellowship maneuvers – I’ll make Burglar

And that’s how I wind up with 5 characters and do the starting area (which these days encompasses Shadows of Angmar, the entire original game) over and over.

This time I decided to restart with a Beorning. I’ve still got my boosted chars that are trying to sync up with my coworker that plays… but in the meantime I want to remember the previous content I haven’t been to in ages.

I like Beornings: they can be a tank (blue, the Hide), dps (red, the Claw), healer/support (yellow, the Roar), so very flexible. I’m playing a yellow line Beorning now and it is very survivable and mows down the enemies.

It’s fun the shape change from man to bear and back. Only annoyance is you have to be in man form to harvest resources and talk to other NPCs.

As for as questing – I actually feel bad killing other bears as a Beorning, and avoid taking those quests and also try to avoid killing bears! But if one aggros on me… well it’s every bear for themselves and I plan to survive.

Beornings get a travel skill called Wanderlust, which is slower than a horse but instant to enter. It’s handy for running around while finishing off a quest.

I don’t have to worry about Power, so I can chuck all those blue potions. (Well, put them into shared storage in case another char can use them). Beornings use Rage instead of Power.

If you make your Beorning with facial tattoos… they show up when you are in bear form. Cool! I have 3 red slashes which are there even if they are hard to see in the pic.

I’m playing my Beorning slightly differently, by working on deeds along the way. Exploration deeds, quest deeds – those were typically the only ones I did. At least after the Virtue system changed and let you train them by doing any deed, rather than locking Determination +1 or whatever to specific monsters in specific areas. But that change was years ago.

This time I’m checking off several kill deeds too, in an effort to keep my Virtues level appropriate. I will admit to purchasing some accelerator scrolls which do help by cutting the number of kills needed in half.

I decided the most appropriate crafting for a Beorning is Woodsman. I can cure hides and collect wood with Forester, make some weapons/instruments/carvings with Woodworker, and generally ignore Farming. (For making food I generally have an alt take up Yeoman, which includes Cook and Farmer. Then they can grow the needed foods and also cook them. The crafting quests that would have been tricky to do on a lowbie were streamlined away so an alt can park in a good area and crank out the tasty treats!)

Anyway, I’m currently level 27 working on Vol 1 Book 2 out of Ost Guruth. My Lore-Master is in the low 40’s in Book 5 in the Misty Mountains… I’m not abandoning that char but for now I’m enjoying the Beorning more. My goal is to stick to an 80-20 system for my chars: spend 80% of my time playing my main, and 20% divided between all alts.

What I really need to do is tape a sign behind my monitor that says: Rather than play an alt, play a different game!! Because I would like to get some variety be rotating among LoTRO, FF14, and ESO.

LoTRO – Misty Mountains and the Arch Nemesis

So there I was, questing along on my Lore Master, following the epic storyline Vol 1 Book 5 Chapter 2 – Troublesome Goblins. I was in the Misty Mountains, looking for a goblin camp – which I found! – and then looking for Gurzmat, their leader.

While dealing with wargs at the Caldwell Pool, I spied a rather tall angular giant moving back and forth. It was Sútmoth, a Rare Arch-Nemesis. Basically, the hardest of all randomly appearing landscape mobs. Raid bosses are tougher but they don’t come outside. 😉

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I briefly considered my chances… me: a level 41 LM with just over 2000 morale, him: level 100 rare arch-nemesis with 1.4 million morale. Hm…

So, I took a few selfies and got the heck out of there… I went to pick a fight with Gurzmat, who was within my abilities. 😉

LoTRO – Qualify of Life

I have yet to meet up with my friend that plays on Arkenstone, we apparently have almost perfectly offset schedules, but that’s fine – I decided to make the best of it and join some “alts” to a kinship that is looking to level up and do the SoA content.

I put “alts” in quotes because I have no other higher level chars on Arkenstone (other than the level boosts I used) and I’ll probably wind up playing these lower level chars more.

I decided to start a Lore-master and also a Rune-keeper. I have the least experience playing RK and Captain, so I thought I’d try one of those classes. As for the LM, I wanted to try one again. The LM was one of my original main characters on Landroval, until I accidentally deconstructed their legendary weapon, mistaking its overall level. OOPS! Rather than searching for another one, making do with the much lower level one I was left with, I decided to play my guardian for a bit until the sting of my mistake wore off. And the guardian took over and I never switched back.

My original main char on Landroval was a hunter, which was fun (I find all the classes to be fun) but I want to have more flexibility that only being DPS. So I’m unlikely to seriously play a hunter or champion, leaving me with only 8 other classes to choose from which is plenty!

Playing LoTRO makes me so happy – I love the music and setting, storyline, classes and heck, even the quests although most quests are old school kill or escort quests. But many are humorous or tell a small story or have great writing.

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Other games may look better but I think LoTRO does just fine in the graphics department.

My character feels powerful. I know over the years the devs have tweaked damage and experience gain, but at level 31 my Lore-master hasn’t had a defeat and quests plenty fast (compared to my priest in WoW!). I’m expecting that to change but even twice as long killing enemies will be faster than I remember back on the original SoA days.

Another major draw is the quality of life additions LoTRO has that WoW Classic doesn’t. Fast travel in LoTRO is actual fast travel – horse rides a few seconds, loading screen, you appear at the destination. Flying in WoW Classic can still take 20+ minutes to reach your destination. This was an issue I had trying to quest in Un’goro Crater from being based in IronForge – it was a flight, ship ride, flight to Gadgetzan, then another 5-10 mins on the mount, just to get to where the mobs were. Ugh!

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LoTRO allows multiple milestones (analogous to having multiple hearthstones in WoW) and traits to lower the cooldown all the way to 5 mins. These are store items, but I’m VIP with coins to spend on decreasing downtime so I can spend more time playing the game.

LoTRO has in-game mail that actually delivers immediately (one hour in WoW Classic), shared storage (not in WoW Classic), you get one large bag from the start, and between not charging for skills (original LoTRO did charge characters to learn their skills but that went away possibly a decade ago at this point), quest rewards, and daily login rewards, I have plenty of money to buy a mount, repair gear, and purchase supplies for crafting… without specifically farming gold.

I just play and it’s great.

To help starting off on a new server, I bought some coins in the store. I don’t mind throwing in some money in lieu of a sub. I bought my characters extra milestone skills, milestone cooldown skills, and a stack of 5 experience scrolls, the +100% variety.

I joined a kinship that wants to run the content on-level, with the current goal of the level 50 instances in Angmar (Urugarth, Carn Dûm, Barad Gúlaran) – so my goal is to get my LM to the high 40’s ASAP. To that end, if I’m questing for an hour, I’ll pop an experience scroll. After than runs out is when I do other tasks such as distributing items between chars, riding out to grab a horse point for the first time, a class quest, or minimal crafting so I can harvest at the next higher tier. Once we have enough players to run the instances, I suppose we’ll all play an elaborate game of character-leap-frogging to level up to the next group of instances.

 

LoTRO – New Server

I’ve been in a training class with coworkers from different departments, people I didn’t know before. During breaks the group discussion varies all over, and earlier this week the topic of gaming came up. Console gaming, PC gaming, what genres people liked… I half paid attention since I was going over some notes from the lecture, when the conversation shifted to MMOs.

I perked up a bit, paying more attention. One coworker mentioned the only MMO he played was LoTRO. Hearing that shocked me a bit – from the perspective that I’ve never met another LoTRO player “in the wild”! I’ve played with friends I’ve met in other games (Guild Wars, then we started LoTRO around the same time), talked a friend from other games into playing LoTRO (from WoW, but he stopped playing both after a few months; however ~5 years ago he popped up in GW2 and we played together for a bit before stopping again), and met Eve Online players at work (two different people), but this is the first LoTRO player I’ve met.

Later, we talked more and I learned he plays on Arkenstone, has a small kinship of friends/family, and said if I ever wanted to join, just send a message. He probably thought I wouldn’t want to leave Landroval and restart… except I actually am willing to do that, in order to play with someone I know in real life.

I don’t expect him to start a new char or anything, and don’t mind soloing quite a bit either, but it would be great to adventure with others occasionally! The kinship I’m in on Landroval is basically defunct; it seems I’m the only semi-active player. I could have usurped the kin leadership a dozen times by now, but haven’t.

Anyway, I logged into Arkenstone and created a Beorning, since I was enjoying the one I started on Anor and then the one I started when I returned to Landroval.

This morning, he brought it up, asking if I was interested in playing/joining on Arkenstone. I got his character name and this evening, logged in and played my new Beorning to level 9. This wasn’t too difficult since Beornings come out of their intro area at level 5, so I quested a bit in Archet and Combe before mailing him and logging off.

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Now I’m mulling over some other character possibilities. See, I haven’t purchased Minas Morgul expansion yet, and when I do I’ll get a version that includes a character boost. So while I am leveling away, I will make an end-game character to join in whatever I can.

I figured the character I’ll boost will be a minstrel, since I do enjoy healing and groups usually are looking for that role.  And then maybe make a burglar to fiddle around with… ah yes, can’t stop playing alts.

LoTRO: Lone Lands

Hitting level 20 brought a large increase in power, mostly because I could upgrade my armor and weapons at a skirmish vendor. Plus, I bought a horse. Beorning in bear form plus Wanderlust (for a 40% run boost) is nice but a horse is still faster. Once those upgrades were done, I entered and finished Orthongroth, the barrows that Vol 1 Book 1 Chapter 11 takes place in. The reward for that was a very nice two-handed axe, Defender of Cardolan. It turns out the Beorning damage while in bear form is calculated from the main hand weapon, so while I can dual wield 2 one-handed axes or 2 one-handed club, I’m much better off with a 2-handed axe or a 2-handed club.

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Next the storyline takes me to the Lone Lands, just east of Bree. I’ve done this zone so many times I’m already thinking ahead. I find the Lone Lands to flow quite well, especially after SSG revamped it many years ago. The quests from each hub complete in the immediate area, so you march through the zone from west to east quickly. After that, Book 3 occurs north of Bree in the North Downs.

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My slowdown point is Evendim… however if I strictly follow the storyline I’ll skirt around it and return when I’m higher level and further along in the books. On the Legendary Server due to the xp penalty, I needed to quest outside Tinnudir, Esteldin, or the west part of the Trollshaws for a few levels before starting Book 4 (which occurs in the Trollshaws). The way things are going back on Landroval, the level gap will be much smaller if not entirely vanished.

If I fall short of the levels needed to tackle the storyline, I’ll obviously supplement by local questing. Another option I might strongly consider is leveling by doing skirmishes. The downside with leveling by skirmish is that many virtues are exploration or quest based, or my least favorite… kill deeds.

Speaking of virtues, I need to work those in sometime. I settled on slotting Compassion, Discipline, Fidelity, Innocence, Tolerance. These give, as a primary effect, physical mitigation, resistance, tactical mitigation, physical mitigation (again), and tactical mitigation (again). As you can see, I like the mitigation related virtues, and am not a fan of straight stat bonuses. Unfortunately for my Beorning, he has yet to earn any ranks in any virtues! When I start a hobbit, I do 75 quests in the Shire and at least have Innocence (+2) to slot right off the bat. Well, right off the bast after completing 75 quests!

 

LoTRO: Beorning Beginnings

One thing I’ve missed about Landroval is catching an impromptu concert outside the Prancing Pony. I join and watch (and dance, clap, roar, etc.) for a few minutes every time one is there because it’s fun for me. I think about how this is an example of players making content for other players. Well, maybe not content so much as entertainment. In an MMO world where you advance by essentially killing everything in sight, a non-combat musical break is welcome.

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I inspected the bands waiting on the side and it appears the standard for musicians is to all pick the same race and class, wear identical outfits (except for possible the leader), and for the ones I looked at, get to the same level. Pretty cool!

I was in my Beorning bear form trying to be inconspicuous on the rock. 😉

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Anyway, starting a new character is speeding right along. With no xp penalty on the Legendary Server, xp boosts from scrolls saved through the months from hobbit presents, enhanced xp from spending destiny, and the Derudh’s Stone pocket item, I reached level 15 in just over 3 hours. And this wasn’t with hardcore power leveling, I just followed the quests from the Intro (Beorning intro is very short), Prologue, and then up to Vol 1 Book 1 Chapter 5. I stopped at Adso’s camp on the way to see Lenglinn in order to do my level 15 class quest.

I usually start a character in the Shire – well, I usually play hobbits so that is the natural starting point! – and do 75 quests there for the +2 Innocence virtue. It’s a nice virtue to have since it provides physical mitigation and that’s useful for every character. I’ll swing my the Shire eventually and chip away and those quests. For now I’m going to work on knocking out Book 1 and Book 2 (occurs in the Lone-Lands) as soon as I can.