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. 😉


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 😉


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.


LoTRO: Return to Landroval

While writing my earlier blog post about LoTRO I realized that I should return to Landroval. I think the concept of the Legendary Server is awesome, as are all the various “progression” servers that many other MMOs offer, but I kind of missed out on the main reason to join one: experience the content while leveling with other players. Essentially, ride the leveling wave and do all the stuff.

Without that, I’m left leveling behind the curve, mostly soloing… I don’t mind that, since that’s my normal playstyle, but if I’m going to do that, why restart on a new server? Might as well just poke along on a server where I’m better established. On Landroval I’ve got tons of alts: 5 characters above level 60 (I had them parked in Caras Galadhon) and 2 level 100+ in Minas Tirith. I’m interested in trying out a Beorning so that character can depend on gold and crafting support from the others.

So, I logged back into Landroval for the first time in… 8 months… to find my house had expired. Yep that’s my fault, I usually pay ~3 months in advance, but I had been gone for 8. It seems that my house payment was so long overdue that everything went back into escrow and my (abandoned) house was purchased by another player! I went to look and it was occupied and redecorated. My fault entirely so no hard feeling or anything, I hope the new owner enjoys the view of the pond in the Shire housing area. 🙂 Actually it’s good that somebody took my old abandoned house.

While reading various dialogues about how/where to get my stuff back, I noticed a remark about “premium” housing and how there wasn’t a monthly fee for VIP members. What?! I totally missed that addition to the game somehow. I checked the wiki under Premium Housing and learned all about it.


And soon enough I bought my own on Swan Lane in the Cape of Belfelas housing area. I’m excited – this house is GIANT compared to my previous house, and there won’t be a monthly fee!

I haven’t had a chance to decorate yet but I am looking forward to it.




Lord of the Rings Online, the game I easily have the most hours in. I’ve been playing on and off, more off than on of late, since July 2009 which makes 10+ years. Mind boggling.

When SSG announced Legendary Servers, I hopped on Anor and created a bunch of characters. You know, to reserve names if nothing else. I’m a lifetime subscriber (on two accounts!) from way back and still getting use from it. I do buy around $50 of coins during a sale once or perhaps twice a year since otherwise SSG doesn’t make any money off me, and I have easily gotten my value out of my lifetime accounts.


The furthest along is my guardian at level ~35, in Evendim. I’m hitting a slow down mostly caused by the fact I’ve played the Shadows of Angmar content at least 6 times. Maybe more like 8. And even considering Mines of Moria… on Landroval, I played those 6 characters all the way through and onto Caras Galadhon, and took my guardian and burglar further.

One probable mistake is playing the same class as my main on Landroval, a guardian. Great class (they all are) but I have a level 100+guardian already, I should mix it up and play a class I only dabbled with to level 20 or so. Maybe the Boerning… I think I’ll refocus and try some new class mechanics. The other catch with playing a guardian is groups expect you to tank, obviously, but tanking requires knowledge of the encounter for maximum success, plus skill at running the character (ideally needed for everyone but there is far more pressure on a tank to be above average) and I don’t play enough for either. Besides, a lot of the time when I can carve out a few hours to play, I just want to kick back and do my own thing.

I like the concept of the Legendary Server, to let players experience the content “on level” and have better chances to group as the content unlocks. But I’m not sure I can play enough to fully take advantage of that.

The other thing is, I’m considering returning to Landroval. That’s where my fleet of characters is, my crafters, alts, heaps of gold, etc. Very few people I know still play, but it isn’t like I know anybody on Anor.  The kinship I’m in on Landroval keeps going to “usurp” status, so I might cast about for another kinship. Other than new cooler names for my characters on Anor (that’s what I tell myself haha), Landroval has a number of advantages. All the content, no xp penalty, all my alts for crafting and emergency funds…

I logged into Landroval for the first time in 8 months and saw I had already rolled an alt minstrel #2, a hobbit, that is poised in Rivendell ready to start Volume 1 Book 5 in the Misty Mountains with just a few more levels.

Yes, I think returning to Landroval would be the smart thing to do.

LoTRO – Legendary Server

So I’ve been playing LoTRO again, on Anor, one of the new Legendary Servers. I ran out of gas with two new characters on Landroval, largely because the early zones are sparse, but restarting on Anor has been a lot of fun since there are so many players around now.

When the server opened I delayed going to work just to create characters with the names I wanted. Yep, silly but on the other hand, not getting a preferred name would irritate me ever so slightly every single time I played. So it was worth it. As a result, I have Hellebore the hobbit guardian.

As you know, female hobbits are typically named after plants or gems so I wanted hellebore as a name and got it. 🙂

My favorites are hobbits and elves, the “uncorrupted” races – I racked my brain but could only think of evil men (bandits) and dwarves (dourhands) in the Shire and Bree and couldn’t think of any evil hobbits and elves. There are also Beornings as a late addition to the playable races/classes, with no evil one I can think of either. But I’m not a lore expert so perhaps there are evil hobbits, elves, beornings…

Anyway, I’ve also enjoyed every class I’ve played in LoTRO. Which leads to the funny situation of why I’m playing a guardian again – which was my “main” and highest level char on Landroval.

The first char I considered my main was a hunter, and after easing into the game I tried out several others for variety. That led me to the lore-master, my main until somewhere in the 60’s. As I recall, somewhere in Mirkwood, I accidentally deconstructed the wrong legendary item (staff) and kind of screwed myself since the others ones I had were bad. I was bummed and decided to take a break from the LM, giving myself time to get over it (the reality is this error wasn’t terminal, I could always get another LI and level it up, and so it really only set me back a few weeks, tops. But at the time it really stung; I figured I’d play another character for a bit to ease the pain). That other character I took up was… my guardian who was the last of my original 5 chars to go through Moria. I wound up really getting into the guardian and played that char, alting on my burglar for variety.

Flash forward to Anor, starting with a hobbit minstrel. Things were going well until level 17 when I was overwhelmed by some bandits and suffered my first defeat, thus denying that character the level 20 survival title. Again, not the end of the world but I figured I’d take a break… and played my guardian who has now taken over lol.

Basically, because I enjoy every class (captain and beorning are the two I have the least experience with), these kinds of “take a break to play the alt” run the risk of finding a new main!

So Hellebore the guardian is now level 28ish, wrapped up the Lone Lands and is off to Esteldin to continue the Vol 1 Book 3 quest line.


Along the way I grabbed some screenshots of Weathertop.


Questing around in Far Chetwood.

I joined a kinship, the Council of the North, because they advertised the desire to do 3/6/12 man content. That’s what I want to do!

Changing Game Tastes

I’ve noticed my gaming tastes changing over the months/years. Currently my MMO playing is ebbing while other games are not.

I still do play though. I’m taking a break from SWL because I was stuck on a ridiculous blocking storyline quest and can’t advance without passing it. Whoever thought that was a good idea is… well they’re just wrong.

I log into LoTRO a few times a week to grab daily rewards and quest a bit. But that makes for glacial progress and thus Spessartina, my hobbit minstrel, is still in the Rivendell/Trollshaws regions and a few levels away from starting the next storyline quest. Scarlatina, my hobbit warden, is likewise still in the Lone Lands. That’s fine though, I always do enjoy coming back to LoTRO and playing a bit.

In ESO, I decided to start a new char after migrating to the PS4. In order to play something different, I picked stamina nightblade. Since Redguards get racial stamina bonuses, I went with that. I’m not too far along, having completed the Morrowind tutorial and then immediately sailing back to Stros M’Kai in order to work through the original storyline. I’d rather play in the order the game released in!

What I have been doing more of is playing single player open-world adventure-style console games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider. I take advantage of Redbox and rent some games too (Monster Hunter World, God of War) with an eye towards checking a game out before buying it. I really like God of War but I can also wait for a sale since I have a backlog. 🙂

I hit level 15 in Ingress, almost 2 years after I started to play. It’s still fun and easy to work into playing bits and pieces as time permits.

Recently I was in Hawaii on a family vacation, and had an afternoon or two to myself. So I got some exercise and walked around doing some banners/mosaics. Again, missions involve visiting various points of interest and doing something (typically hacking the portal). A series of missions that together form a picture is called a banner or mosaic. And I like doing those. Here’s the 3 I did:


Top 3 rows are “Iolani Palace”, middle row is “Legend of the Menehune”, bottow rows are “Aloha, Waikiki”. Not a bad way to enjoy a walk around town!

I’ve also been playing a lot of Pokémon Go. Yes, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the game… or is there?

The fundamentals of “collecting all the pokémon” is still the driving force, but Niantic has been slowly adding more and more things to do in the game.

There is a rudimentary quest system, which currently leads to finding legendary pokémon (so far: Zapdos, Moltres).

You can have a buddy pokémon that gains candy when you walk certain distances, as well as hatch eggs, so when I walk or run with my phone I leave it on with pokémon running. Every candy helps!

There are medals which grant catch bonuses after getting certain numbers. I’m still working on a few (e.g. 156/200 Steel type, 136/200 ice type, etc.)

They revamped the gym battling system to encourage more turnover, and as a result I’ve been working on getting gold on gyms I live near (when you attack or defend a gym you gain points on it, and rank up bronze to silver to gold. Each higher tier yields more stuff when you spin the disc, you also get more stuff when the gym is your team) since that results in the most efficient farming. 😉 I have 13 gold gyms and am close to #14 and #15.

A recent addition are community days where one pokémon spawns in abundance for a 3 hour period. I missed the first few, but have participated in last month’s (Mareep) and yesterday’s (Charmander). I met up with 3 friends and we walked around Rockville town center, seeing dozens and dozens of other players, catching every charmander in sight and evolving Charizards with a special event-only move (Blast Burn). We joined in raids for the Legendary Ho-Oh and I am happy to say I got one:


A bunch of players gathered for a raid as the event was winding down, but it turned out to be a Latias. Luckily I got that one too:


The thing about Legendary raids is with enough people, you will defeat the boss.  All your pokémon may faint and you might have to re-enter, but enough people will do it unless they are horribly underleveled (using low combat power pokémon). The hard part is catching it afterwards. Each player that participates get a number of white premiere pokeballs to use, that are only available from winning legendary raids and they don’t carry over, but there are bonuses for the team that does the most damage, for defeating the boss, your badge level at the gym, team that controls the gym. So when teams form, usually Valor (red), Mystic (blue), Instinct (yellow) will try to form their own group – not being exclusionary per se, anybody on any team can still hop in, it’s just more beneficial to you if you are raiding with others of your own team since you really want those extra premiere balls. That’s because legendary pokémon are ninja dodgers, and they are also very good at breaking out. So more premiere balls is better.

Over time I’ve switched to a curve-ball style throw (wind up in a circle before a throw until you get sparklies, then throw at an angle and the ball will curve left or right depending on whether you wound up clockwise or counter-clockwise). I don’t know the specific numbers but especially for a legendary Pokémon you want to use your best berries (golden razz berry) with a curve ball throw and ideally get a nice/great/excellent hit (how well you hit the circle target)… and even then there is a large chance the legendary will break out. I had 2 Latios (the blue clones of Latias) escape after raids because they I missed or they dodge half of the time, and broke out of all hits – as I recall it was roughly 25 chances over 2 raids and nothing. Argh! To a degree its a random chance you can attempt to raise, so all you can do is have the opportunity to catch one, which is what happened yesterday and I am thankful. 🙂

For the Latias raid, I counted 35 players. Yes, almost 3 dozen people across all age groups and genders, standing on a street corner split into multiple raid groups, all wanting their chance to catch a Latias. It was awesome in many respects!

One thing I haven’t really gotten into is analyzing pokémon stats any deeper than the builtin appraisal system. But the serious players are all about pokémon IVs (individual values; the stamina, attack, defense stats) and move sets (fast and charged; attack and defense). There is of course a massive amount of stats info google will turn up, and it is kind of mind boggling since IVs can’t be changed and move sets are randomly assigned (however there are in-game items called Technical Machines that can change fast or charged attacks). There are also apps that help analyze these things so as a first step, I bought PokeGenie and started analyzing all my high CP wonder pokémon. I may change up what pokémon I keep, what ones I evolve and power up based on the next level of stat analysis. 😉

By and large I’m mostly a “collector” player, just trying to fill out my pokedex. I swap buddies to get candy for evolving, fight gyms here and there to make them Mystic (my team), leave pokémon to defend gyms for badge levels and coins, and so. It isn’t the most sophisticated game ever, but for a low key mobile phone game, I’m finding it social and fun.

LoTRO – Trollshaws

After a bit of questing in Evendim, Spessartina reached level 37 which is the suggested level for starting Vol 1 Book 4: Chasing Shadows. So I bailed out of Ost Forod to Bree and then to Ost Guruth and across the Last Bridge into the Trollshaws! Since I’ve done the SoA content a few time I’ll just quest as needed to keep level with the storyline and at all time prefer advancing in the storyline.

It’ll be a ways until I replace my guardian Naerys with my new minstrel Spessartina but I’ll enjoy the journey.

One thing I like about LoTRO is how many player activities are always going on in Bree. One some random evening there may be a concert outside the Prancing Pony.


I always stop and watch for a few minutes, dancing my favorite dance (Hobbit Dance 1).

Anyway, I stopped at the skirmish camp south of Bree to upgrade my gear to level 37 items, and then on to Thorenhad.


Fall colors view from Thorenhad.