LOTRO Level 20

It seems silly, with so many characters and so many levels in other games, to be chirping about hitting level 20. But that is one of the joys of a new game. Milestones that will be trivial in a few months are meaningful the first time around.

So here is Nomu, my dwarf guardian, who is also my first character to hit level 20. He is adorned in Heavy Iron Armor of his own crafting, that spiked helm from the level 15 guardian class quest, and what is a huge shield relative to his stature.

Level 20 wasn’t a huge leap. Guardians get heavy armor at 15, so I was already metal clad. Last names used to be a level 20 reward back in the MUD days, but that is something else you get at level 15 in LOTRO.

I did get short duration buff that improves my defense in desperate situations and the ability to mount a spike on my shield, making it all the better to smack orcs with. (And the shield smack animation is one of my favorites in combat.)

I bought my skills, repaired my armor, adjusted my traits, and still had a little cash left in my pocket. Not much, but any surplus after basic needs is a good thing.

Our regular instance group got together last night and ran through a bunch of quests that got us all up to level 19 or 20. We are ready to get back on the epic quest line again Saturday night.


Starting Quest

Let get started.

I will be using Kinye a Human Hunter on Meneldor. Witch means for now I will be doing the Human and Hobbit line of intro quest. I hope soon to add the Elven and Dwarf.
After making your human or hobbit. You start in jail with intro text of Jailbreak "A chance encounter with brigands upon the road leads to captivity, but rescue may not be far away…." Zone you're in is instance zone. So just you and the NPC. The quest here will go very fast. Once you done with the quest you will end up in the Newbie zone of Archet.

You start with a quest called Instance: Jail Break all you got to do talk to Amdir. So your talk to follow Amdir. Little talking happens then Amdir kills guy and there create for you to loot. Inside is your beginner weapons. Throw away the old items you had in the weapon slot as you cant sell them for anything. After looking the create and equipping the weapons talk to Amdir. Ok your first kill quest. You must defeat 4 Celandine's captors. So run to the west open the door. One door open you will see single Blackwold Ruffian. He will attack if you get close go ahead kill him let get this quest over with. After killing him to the north are two more guys. After kill them to the north you will see iron bar door. Walk in and you will see a Blackwold Ruffian Giving a female hobbit named Celandine Brandybuck hard time. Go ahead kill Ruffian. After that you have killed your 4 guys and need talk to the Celandine Brandybuck. After she get her freak on you follow her out of the area where you kill Edric. Witch updates your quest and you need talk to the new hobbit in the area named Mudo Sackville-Baggins. Well were off to find Amdir. This will bring you to the cut scene. You cant do anything during this. From here you talk to Amdir then Celandine. Hit Finsih Now. This will take you to 2nd cut scene/load screen. Your done with the Intro Intance. You pop up in beginner Archet.

How to Choosing Your Weapons

One of the most confusing and oft-debated aspects of LOTRO game mechanics is the general question of whether faster or slower weapon setups are "better". Specifically, this usually revolves around a debate about dual-wielded weapons versus 2H weapons, but can also apply to a debate about whether guardians are better-served by 1H + Shield setups versus 2H weapons. There are six main aspects to this debate:

  • Which setup gives superior auto-attack damage during a short fight: fast or slow weapons? Which is the most important weapon statistic: Speed, DPS, Average Damage, or Max Damage? Which setup is more "power efficient"? In other words, which setup gives you the most damage per point of power expended? Which setup benefits all the "extra swings" and + damage bonus of your weapon-based? What exactly is the interplay between the auto-attack ticks and cool-down timers?
  • Do special damage types trump all of the preceding factors?

Faster weapons are always superior auto-attack damage in a short fight

The fact that faster weapons always yield superior front-loaded auto-attack damage in short fights is counter-intuitive to most newcomers to the MMO genre, and is therefore contested quite often on discussion forums. Nevertheless, it is a true statement. The basic principle to grasp is simply that a "miss" with a slower but harder-hitting weapon hurts you far more than a miss with a faster but lighter-hitting weapon in a short fight where there is an effective "race" to do N points of damage first. For example, let's use an extreme and artificial comparison of two players of equal level with weapons that are equal DPS. Player A has the fast weapon and it hits for 10 damage every second. Player B has the slow weapon and it hits for 30 damage every 3 seconds. Both players have 70 hit points.

  • Player A needs to connect with 7 hits to kill player B. This could happen as quickly as 7 seconds with a 100% hit rate. Player B needs to connect with 3 hits to kill Player A. This could happen as quickly as 9 seconds with a 100% hit rate.
  • If both players experience a 25% miss rate (75% hit rate) here's how long it takes each player to kill the other.
    • Player A needs 10 attacks (2-3 will be misses); that's 10 seconds.
    • Player B needs 4 attacks (1 will be a miss); that's 12 seconds.

Can you see how in all cases, Player A has the statistical advantage? Statistically, Player A will more often win the "race" to do 70 points of damage first because their misses "hurt" a lot less. Missing one big attack puts you behind in the race. This has been proven time and again. And remember, this applies to *short* fights only--that's where faster weapons always have the edge. Statistically, your odds to "win the race" are better with a faster weapon. This basic principle aside, there are still two unresolved points of contention in LOTRO that could modify this basic principle

  • It is yet unproven whether or not your first "strike" of weapon damage occurs immediately upon commencing auto-attack, or must instead occurs after the first "swing delay" of the weapon. Regardless of the true answer to this question, all that gives the slower, harder-hitting weapon is a small "head start" on the "race" compared to the faster, lighter-hitting weapon. The basic principle described in this section still stands, and all this point of contention means for LOTRO, in particular, is that if you can kill something in only 1-3 "hits" then it's possible that a slower, harder-hitting weapon would win this very extreme kind of "race". Most fights that will actually yield experience, even fast ones, tend to take more than a few hits, so this point of contention is probably moot.
  • It is yet unknown how armor mitigation works in LOTRO.

    • In some MMOs, armor mitigation works by reducing a flat percentage of each hit, so a harder-hiting weapon and a lighter-hitting weapon are equally penalized by the armor mitigation.
    • In other MMOs, however, armor mitigation works by "absorbing" damage off the top of a hit. In this case slower weapons are often better because every hit of a harder-hitting weapon gets more damage through the absorbtion. In these MMOs it was possible for a fast but light-hitting weapon to do practically no damage to a heavily armored foe. It's worth noting that in previous Turbine games, specifically Asheron's Call 2, armor mitigation usually worked on an absorption principle, so big-hitting single attacks were far more useful at the high levels than small-hitting "flurry" style attacks

The most important weapon statistic depends on your class and your most-used skills

In many other MMOs, a weapon's listed DPS statistic was a good indication of overall performance and a good way to compare the relative value different weapons. Unfortunately, this is not the case in LOTRO. DPS is a statistic that is almost a red herring in this game. Instead, the stats that matter are Speed, the Average Damage of the listed damage range (which you must calculate for yourself), and both the Min and Max damage values of the listed damage range.

  • Speed determines how often the ticks of your auto-attack cycle occur and how much delay occurs between queued active skills. Note that the effective Speed for dual-wielded weapons will be an average of both weapon's listed Speeds. Average Damage is calculated by adding both numbers in the weapon's listed damage range and dividing the result by 2. Average Damage is the most important factor in determining how much damage most of your weapon-based active skills will do. Any skill that uses the keywords "main-hand" or "off-hand" in the skill's tooltip description is basing that damage component on the full listed damage range for the weapon in your main hand or off hand, and therefore the Average Damage of the weapon is the best indicator of how much damage will be done for each "swing" of main-hand or off-hand damage generated by that skill. The important point here is that a fast weapon will have a high DPS value but a very low Average Damage value, and therefore your weapon-based attack skills will not deliver nearly as much damage as a slow weapon with the same exact DPS (or even a lower DPS) but a much higher Average Damage value. Min damage is the lowest value in the weapon's listed damage range. This value is important because it determines how much damage that weapon will do when it's equipped in your off-hand slot.
  • Max damage is the highest value in the weapon's listed damage range. This value is the most important factor in determining how much damage some of the Burglar's weapon-based active skills will do. Any skill that uses the keywords "max damage" for either the main-hand "swing" or the off-hand "swing" will use that max damage value every time the "swing" hits successfully. For these skills, a weapon with lower DPS but a higher Max value will generate more damage from such skills than a weapon with high DPS or high Avg Damage but a lower Max damage.

Dual-wielding is available to Champions at level 1, Burglars at level 10, and Hunters at level 20. Dual-wielding works much differently in LOTRO than it does in most other MMOs:

  • Your effective Speed becomes the average of the Speed value of both your weapons (add both Speed values and then divide by 2). For example, if you have a 2.3 Speed weapon in your main hand and a 1.7 Speed weapon in your off-hand, your effective Speed is 2.0. It does not matter which weapon is in which slot; the effective Speed is the same with either possible combination. There are not separate auto-attack "ticks" for each weapon. Both weapons always attack on the same tick. Our two hypothetical weapons in the previous example would always attack together on a 2.0-second auto-attack tick rate. The weapon in your off-hand slot is capped to hit for the lowest value in the weapon's listed damage range, plus or minus a small percentage (usually just a point or two on either side of the lowest listed value). This means you generally want to put the weapon with the highest Min damage in your off-hand slot, but this advice should be weighed against all the other considerations covered here. The offhand weapon can still crit at a normal rate (with no penalties for being in the off-hand), but it crits for roughly double the capped off-hand damage range. For example, a 9 - 13 weapon in your off-hand usually hits for 9 points (sometimes 8 or 10 points), and it crits for around 17 points, give or take a point. The off-hand damage reduction mechanics described above affect only your auto-attack damage. All of your weapon-based skills that mention bonus damage based on your "off-hand" weapon are not affected by this damage reduction. In other words, if you have a skill that uses the "max damage" of the off-hand, and your off-hand weapon's listed Max Damage value is 10, then the bonus damage from that skill is based on a value of 10.
  • For Champions only, the Fervour threshold of your various weapon-based active skills is lower (usually by one point) when you dual-wield than when you are wielding a single 1H weapon, a 1H + Shield, or a 2H weapon. When dual-wielding, the Fervour cost will be listed as a flat cost like "3 Fervour" in the skill's tooltip description. When you are not dual-wielding, the Fervour cost will be listed as a cost like "Requires at least 4 Fervour, but Removes 3 from Fervour", which means the skill still only costs you 3 Fervour, but you need to attain a threshold of 4 Fervour to queue the skill.

One of the most confusing and oft-debated aspects of LOTRO game mechanics is the general question of whether faster or slower weapon setups are "better". Specifically, this usually revolves around a debate about dual-wielded weapons versus 2H weapons, but can also apply to a debate about whether guardians are better-served by 1H + Shield setups versus 2H weapons.

There are six main aspects to this debate:

  • Which setup gives superior auto-attack damage during a short fight: fast or slow weapons?
  • Which is the most important weapon statistic: Speed, DPS, Average Damage, or Max Damage?
  • Which setup is more "power efficient"? In other words, which setup gives you the most damage per point of power expended?
  • Which setup benefits all the "extra swings" and +damage bonus of your weapon-based?
  • What exactly is the interplay between the auto-attack ticks and cool-down timers?
  • Do special damage types trump all of the preceding factors?

Slower, harder-hitting weapons are far more power-efficient

The faster your effective Speed, the faster your auto-attack animations execute, so there is less delay between the activation of your queued active skills. Since all active skills cost the same amount of power regardless of your weapon Speed, this means you will burn power at a much faster rate when using fast 1H or dual-wield weapon setups.

In short fights against single, normal "white" foes or easier, power consumption isn't much of an issue. In longer fights, however, against single "yellow" foes or harder, or against multiple foes, or against signature/elite foes, or in a location with fast respawns, you might be better served with a slow 2H weapon because your power will last longer.

The "extra swings" and +damage bonus of slower weapons are higher with slower weapons, but occur more rapidly with faster weapons

Depending on the weapon-based active skills that you tend to use most often, you might be able to generate more overall damage output by using a slower, harder-hitting weapon. In particular, this comparison applies to dual-wield setups versus 2H weapon setups:

  • A dual-wield setup typically yields far more auto-attack DPS and shorter delays between the execution of your queued-up skills than comparable 2H weapons, so you have high auto-attack DPS and faster-occuring damage from your queued-up skills.
  • Many weapon-based skills have a +damage bonus value that increases with slower weapons. For example skill X might do +17 damage when you are equipped with a 1H weapon of Speed 2.0 or a dual-wield setup that yields an effective Speed of 2.0, but that same skill X might do +30 damage when you are equipped with a 2H weapon of Speed 3.6.
  • Many weapon-based skills effectively generate multiple "swings". For example, skill Y might deliver 3 "main hand" swings of damage, each of which also has a +damage bonus as well. The total damage output of all these multiple "swings" can be much larger with a slow 2H weapon than with a fast 1H weapon. However, there are two addtional factors to consider:

    • Many of these same skills will add in one or more "off-hand" swings when you are dual-wielding, so the gap in damage might be less than if you examine the skill tooltip with only one 1H weapon equipped.
    • A faster weapon setup might actually let you front-load more of those "extra swings" in the same amount of time as a slower 2H weapon. For example, in a dual-wield setup you might be able to generate something like 6 "extra" swings in first 15 seconds of a fight, but a 2H weapon might generate perhaps only 3 "extra" swings in that same 15 seconds. So even though each 2H "swing" is more damaging than the same "swings" in a dual-wield setup, the total of the 3 slower "swings" might be less that the total of the 6 faster "swings".

The interplay of these various factors is the main reason for stating that "you might be able to generate more overall damage output by using a slower, harder-hitting weapon". There are no hard and fast-guidelines in this regard because so much depends on the particular weapon-based skills that you use most often. Your best bet is to equip your best dual-wield setup and look at the skill tooltips, then equip your best 2H weapon and look at the skill tooltips, then do some rough calculations and tests for yourself, remembering that you'll be able to fire off your attack chains faster with the dual-wield setup.

The auto-attack tick cycle seems to be independent of, but overwritten by, skill execution

It can easily be observed that auto-attack "ticks" seem to occur in between some of your queued skill executions but not others. Also, it can be easily observed that more of these auto-attack ticks seem to occur in-between skill executions when you are using faster weapons. The pattern is difficult to discern through observation, but here is the best guess about how the interaction works, based on at least 30 minutes of testing on several classes while looking specifically for interaction patterns.

  • The auto-attack cycle seems to be independent of the queued skill executions and the global cool-down timer. What appears to be happening is that the "ticks" of the auto-attack cycle are simply over-written by skill animations when they occur. If a gap between animations falls in the same spot as a "tick" of the auto-attack cycle, then the auto-attack happens.

    • It does not matter whether the gap between skill animations is due to the global cool-down or due to the next-queued skill still being in its recovery phase.
    • It does not matter whether the skills are weapon-based or not. (Many people mistakenly believe that weapon-based skills happen "on the next auto-attack tick" but non-weapon based skills are somehow independent of auto-attacks.) If you trigger a weapon-based skill in the right spot of the auto-attack cycle, you can easily see the weapon skill damage followed immediately by a tick of auto-attack damage, and the delay between the skill damage and the auto-attack damage can vary by quite a bit depending on when the attack-skill actually begins execution relative to the auto-attack cycle.
  • Because the auto-attack ticks occur during opportune gaps in the queued skill chain, it stands to reason that faster weapons have more of a chance to "fit in the gaps" because each tick occurs more frequently. With slower weapons, therefore, you can more easily keep overwriting the auto-attack ticks, so fewer ticks of auto-attack damage are added to your overall damage output.

The bottom line with regard to weapon choice is that faster weapons will ultimately add more auto-attack damage to your total damage output.

Special damage types might trump all of the preceding factors

This section is here mostly as a placeholder for further testing and refinement of this article. It's reported that weapons with special damage types such as "fire" or "light", etc. are so effective (versus certain mobs that have low resistance to that damage type) that they trump most or all of the factors described so far.

Based on Turbine's implementation of elemental damage types in previous games such as Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2, this could indeed be a very important consideration in weapon choice that could outweigh the preceding factors.

Some general rules of thumb for choosing a fast or slow weapon setup

The preceding sections explain why it can be sometimes complex to answer the question "which is better for me: 1H + Shield, 2H, or dual-wielding?" In general, however, there are some rules of thumb that are safe to apply to most situations. Be aware, though, that in edge cases there could be exceptions to these general guidelines:

  • Guardians who are tanking for a group must rely on many active skills to generate as much threat as possible, particularly their shield-based skills. For this reason, a very fast 1H weapon + shield is often the preferred tanking setup not only for the shield mitigation (and the fact that you need a shield to use your shield-based attacks), but because the faster animation times of the 1H auto-attack ticks means less delay between your queued active skills. The faster you can fire off your active skills, the more front-loaded threat you can ultimately generate. Of course, the downside to this is that you'll also burn power at a faster rate, so you might have to pace yourself or rely on Blue fellowship maneuvers or on a Lore-master or Champion to replenish your power
  • If you are fighting easy single foes ("white" or easier) that are not close together, you might kill faster with a dual-wield setup (if you're a class that can dual-wield), because you'll sneak in more auto-attack damage and because you'll be able to spam your skill executions faster. The main consideration here is whether you have time to regenerate your power fast enough between fights, because you'll burn energy faster this way.
  • If you are fighting multiple mobs in a fast-respawning area, or harder single foes ("yellow" or harder), or signatures/elites of any sort, you might be better-served by a slow 2H weapon even if you can dual-wield. This is primarily because your power will last much longer and you are getting more damage per point of power spent.
  • Burglars will generally do best with a dual-wield setup that focuses on weapons with a high Max value in their main-hand slot and a high Min value in their off-hand slot.
  • Champions and Hunters that are dual-wielding will generally do best with a setup that focuses on weapons with a high Average Damage value in their main-hand slot, with the off-hand slot weapon choice being made according to the following two factors:

    • For fights that you expect to be short, putting the fastest weapon possible in your off-hand slot will make your effective Speed as fast as possible.
    • For fights that you expect to be long, putting a slower weapon with a high Min damage value in your off-hand slot will decrease your power burn rate and yield slightly higher auto-attack damage and "off-hand" damage "swings" from some skills.

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Why called niche games?

There was a time when a game was a game. What happened? When Everquest first achieved it’s success and launched the gaming industry into the “next generation” people were skeptical. I remember reading that many people thought it would be a fluke that any game could ever reach 250-500k subscribers let alone do it again. As time went on we know that several MMORPG’s such as City of Heroes obtained the 100-250k mark and a few like Star Wars Galaxies reached an astonishing 350k in their prime. Then came World of Warcraft where we saw record breaking all time high subscription numbers. If you count the Asian market there are millions upon millions playing WoW and Lineage2.

So what makes a game a niche? Do we classify games as niche because they are not WoW clones? Or do we do so because they are EQ clones? Are we saying the game is too hard or too easy? Subscription numbers have also been used as an excuse to classify games as niche or to justify their failure and even sometimes their success. Why can’t a game just be a game anymore? There was a time when many game studios would look at 250,000 subscribers and dream of such success. Now you have some that still do, but the majority are saying “how can we get the WoW numbers?”. That’s not what MMORPG’s are about folks.

In my opinion, as someone who has made it an obsession to learn all I can about this genre, there will not be another game that reaches “WoW” numbers for a very long time. It could be that no game ever again reaches those numbers simply because it was indeed a true fluke. My advice to any developers out there working with an idea or starting up for the first time is simple. Developers, please keep giving us the games you love to make because as long as you do there will be plenty of us out there to play them. Do not get discouraged.

LOTRO Adventuer Log July

Well it’s been a while since I updated you all on my LOTRO progress. For a while there I had slipped in and out of active characters and was evening considering a permanent break from the game. Then I decided to give the game one final try and I went hardcore head first into the Monster Play aspect of the game for a solid 2-3 weeks. I gained nearly rank 4 and found myself actually good at something in LOTRO for once. I earned a name for myself and I found that the strategies in Monster Play were similar to those used in Dark Age of Camelot. But then the harsh reality of being against unbalanced players and having to deal with the randomly created monsters that would pop in and trash talk (obviously made by Free People characters) just got too much to handle.

Luckily for me while Monster Playing I made two great friends. Goretruum and Arke were the only two I really became good friends with in Monster Play, so naturally we always grouped with each other for quests and such. Over time they began to share the same dissatisfaction with Monster Play and we all decided it was time to roll up characters and take them to 50 so that we could experience pvp from the other side. I made the announcement in this blog entry here that I had made a Captain and named him Graev (hehe I stole your name Graev!). Since then I haven’t really been updating you all on much of anything in LOTRO and to be honest I can’t think of why.

Graev the captain, Bartlebe(Goretruum) the Minstrel, and Beoarke(Arke) the Hunter are now on the home stretch. My character Graev has obtained level 45 as of last night and the others are right there with me at around 44-45. We have worked together over the past 25 days to quest, grind, dungeon crawl, and work together to reach our goal of PVMP in the Ettenmoors as Freeps. I am really excited that this will be my first LOTRO character to 50 and doubly excited about getting back into the pvp scene full time. The trip to 45 so far has been fairly easy but at time difficult. I’ll give a full accounting of each area we quested in and share my thoughts about the trip from 1-50 with you all when the time comes.

North Downs Quest Map

If you’ve played LOTRO and reached that wonderful stage in the game where it’s time to head to the North Downs I pity you. Only joking of course… sorta.

The North Downs are incredibly large and spread out. The region contains quite possibly every creature/mob type in the game. I know, some of you might not think much of that given the fact that by now you’ve likely seen 80% of them anyway. Boars, Wargs, Spiders, oh yes they’re all here. Orcs, Goblins, Drakes, Hillmen, Trolls, Wights, the list goes on and on! If you’re like me you get lost and easily frustrated when you can’t find where to go next for quests. Since I’ve completed this zone I feel it’s now my duty to pass on what I have learned to the rest of you and perhaps ease the burden of this … oh so fun… place.

So here you have it! My North Downs Quest Location Map! You will find every quest location hub encased in a red square with a little snippet of text explaining briefly what the location has to offer or the importance of that specific spot. I can tell you right now that I think I included everything but I am not perfect. If I missed something please by all means leave me a comment or contact me and let me know! I hope this helps some of you out there.