Wednesday, December 05, 2007

More on LotRO Raiding

My LotRO kinship and I went through the Rift again this past Monday. Having downed a boss last week, we got together a group to push in further this week. We had trouble getting a full raid together from our own kinship and ended up getting members of an allied kinship and some other folks who were friends of kinshipmates. One person had already cleared the first and second bosses in the Rift, so those bosses were not present when we entered. Thus we went straight for boss three and four.

Not long after entering, we had a disastrous battle on the stairway after the giant room: we aggroed a group, then a group on the stairs and then got caught in a orc zerg followed by someone getting rezzed and moving too close to the patrols causing a second near-wipe. It seems that we got all ‘teh stoopid’ out of our systems with that little catastrophe because we annihilated the rest of the encounters we were in and lost very few people in doing so. No one got upset or whiny, I think everyone there factored the potential repair bills into account before they decided to go raiding.

Time investments:
We started the raid at 8:30 EST and ended it around 11:30. So that’s three hours of raiding. In WoW, we used to start around 7pm with an 11pm ending time. We raided for about an hour longer per night in WoW. On Monday’s raid, we did allow for periodic bio-breaks and a couple people afked here and there. Time-wise, I think the big difference between the kin I’m in and my WoW raiding guild is that in LotRO, we’re only raiding two maybe three days a week. WoW raiding we every night except one per week where, provided you got your farmed mats, you could do what you wanted. In LotRO, I hardly farmed anything specifically for raiding. I bought my potions and still have quite a few. I go through a lot of power and morale potions, but I also get a lot from questing. Money I tend to get just from killing mobs for quests, quest completion or vendoring trash. I imagine that people with gathering skills have no need to do much more than go gathering for an hour or two a week. I guesstimate that I’d spend about one hour in the game farming to cover the expenses for an entire three-hour raid. Pretty insignificant, IMHO.

Group play:
Just like in WoW, LotRO’s raids emphasis group play. It’s not to the point where one person’s activity / inactivity will kill a group, but people have to have a good sense of where they need to be and what they should be doing. On Monday’s raid, we had a number of fights where our Hunters had to kill adds or the Lore Masters had to mez certain mobs. Both groups did exceptionally well. In one incident, we were pulling a group of five elite master types and the Lore Master and burglars were called on to mez targets. Our group coordination at that point was downright scary. We ended up with five mezzed mobs. No duplicates. Just five mobs wobbling around stunned. We all had a good laugh while the Guardian pulled them to us. A couple came bolting at once towards the end but we dropped them all with no problems.

LotRO raids seem to be more forgiving than WoW’s raids. A reasonable amount of coordination will be fine. And there’s even some wriggle-room for occasional bonehead mistakes. Like the time I hit a mob with enrage (a Burglar ability which causes them to run around a group randomly aggroing people). It was good for getting a mob off the Minstrel, bad when the poor main tank was trying to round the mob up and worse when the silly Hobbit Burglar can’t seem to keep up with the mob to apply another trick to remove the enrage one. So the mob ran around the group with the Guardian and I in tow. We were quite a sight. No deaths resulted but I was glad when that was over.

Gear and Stats:
Being a former WoW player, I take the condition of my gear somewhat seriously. I want to make sure I have the hit points, power and other stats to ensure I am effective in a group. My hit points at the moment hover around 2600 with no buffs. I compared myself to my kinship’s main tank: he has around 5000 hit points unbuffed. Then I took a look at our second main tank for the evening. 2500 hit points with buffs*. He was out in the fray tanking elite master dragons and such with fewer hitpoints than I have with no buffs. Gear matters less in LotRO. We did have some very talented minstrels with us (both of whom have at least some teal raiding gear) which I’m sure helped a lot. Gear is not irrelevant. It’s nice to know however that a lack of gear on one person isn’t going to cause massive issues for the whole raid if it can be compensated for by gear / talents / skills in another class.

As far as stats go, I’m trying to get all my traits moved up around 6 or 7. I have had to grind a lot of mobs to make sure I get the traits completed but I only have one trait stuck at 5, the rest are up to spec.

Overall, I view LotRO’s raiding system a lot more favorably than WoW’s. There’s less time investment needed, less material investment needed and you’re still in for some challenging, fun fights. It’s worth noting that final instance bosses are still incredibly difficult (Turbine increased Thorog’s difficulty in Helegrond so he is insanely hard at this point) but most of the bosses can be dropped with good timing and coordination.

All the stuff above when combined with LotRO's practice of providing high-quality gear from crafting puts raiding in even better perspective: it's another fun thing to do. It's not the be-all end-all of the game. If you want to raid, raid. It will be fun. If you don't like raiding, no biggie. There are other things to do and other ways to get gear for your character.

* I'm not sure how he managed such a low number. Gear explains part of it. Perhaps also he needed to work on some of his traits too.

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