Repeating History in Middle-earth

By which I mean we may be making the same mistake again.

The instance group summer hiatus from Azeroth looks like it will be going on for some time.

Bigbutt/Bungholio is getting ready to move, which means that over the life of the instance group, all of us will have moved to a new home.  That will keep him busy for a while.

And if that doesn’t, a new arrival, an addition to his family, certainly will.  Moving and a new baby in the same month will fill up your schedule.

So the rest of us started looking around for another game to play.  Other genres of games did not fit the group.  We don’t all like first person shooters or real-time strategy games, so we decided to stick with the MMORPG path.  (Where is Diablo III when we need it?)

And since we already have two Middle-earth partisans in the group (Potshot and myself), Lord of the Rings Online ended up being the choice.

Last Saturday we had the big character roll-up on the Firefoot server.  I already had a couple of characters there, which will give us some trade skill support at least.

Earl went for the tanking role, his usual chosen occupation, and created a dwarf guardian.

Enaldie, who favors the caster role, went with the rune keeper this time around, having played a minstrel and lore master in previous ventures into the lands of Tolkein.

Potshot took back the healing role and went with a minstrel.

And I picked one of the classes I have not touched in the past, the burglar.  I defied convention however and rolled a man rather than a hobbit.  That’s just me.

We spent the evening warming up with LOTRO, learning how it is different from WoW and getting through the starter instances.

Of course, we also had to form a guild… erm… a kinship.  Terminology is one of the ways LOTRO is different from WoW.

After tossing around a few ideas, we settled on Murder for Shire.

We had enough alts already, between Potshot and myself, to complete the kinship registration process.  It is nice that, unlike WoW, alts can sign the charter.  Two people can effectively form a kinship.  And so a kinship was born.

Roderigo of Murder for Shire

We also divided up some of the trade skills between us.  We’re just the type of people who feel they have to do trade skills in MMORPGs I guess.  Though in LOTRO, a lot of the player made gear is quite worthwhile.

And so we had a good first night in the game as a group.  But there is still the whole repeating history issue.

Way back when LOTRO first came out and Earl was involved with his new job and cross-country move, four of us attempted to go play in Middle-earth.  However, LOTRO is a game where a group is six people, so we attempted to muddle through with only two thirds of the resources that instances like the Great Barrow were designed for, which meant things went generally poor for us.

Now we’re back, three years later, again with only four players.  Will the game prove more viable for us?

A lot has changed in Middle-earth since we were last there as a group.

Certainly there is the skirmish system, which came along with the Siege of Mirkwood expansion.  Those encounters scale.  However, they seem to scale for 1, 3, 6, or 12 players, so I am not sure what you do with four.  And you cannot join a skirmish until level 30, so we have a ways to go for that.

And there is some promise for the future.  A recent LOTRO developer diary discussed bringing the scaling mechanism from skirmishes to some of the instances in the game.  But that is in the future.

Will we be able to find success and glory with a group of four?  Will we need to recruit to fill out those two empty group spots?  Should we just try and grab some available players when we get to the Great Barrow or Weathertop?

We will see as the story unfolds.

This coming week we plan to start with Book 1.  There is, it seems, an unwanted guest at the Prancing Pony in Bree.  One of those “rangers” from the north.  We’ll see what that is all about.

10 thoughts on “Repeating History in Middle-earth

  1. Galithor

    With only 4, you will still be able to do the 6 man skirmishes. You’ll simply need to lower the difficulty somewhat by adjusting the level of the skirmish.

    Example, you’re all level 35, set the 6 man skirmish to 32 or so. As long as you’ve got a tank and a healer, and keep your skirmish soldiers properly ranked with your own levels, you’ll do fine.

    The book quests have scaling built in now. So when ya’ll get to a “group quest”, and are short a man or two, it’ll scale the instance by buffing the group to balance it. Works pretty well, and all of Shadows of Angmar epic quests have this added now.

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  2. Azz

    Yeah you should be fine with only 4. The regular fellowship quests are easily doable with 4. Some can even be done solo if you are patient and know your class.

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  3. elleseven

    Did you take the name “Roderigo” from Little Woman? Where they put on a skit and one of the sisters calls out melodramatically “oooohh Roderigo!” (it was one my fave scenes from the movie)

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  4. TheRemedy

    I know pugs are usually pretty terrible but the Lotro community seems to lean towards the more mature side. Maybe picking up the last 2 spots in game won’t be such a bad thing?

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  5. Elisten

    LOTRO isn’t as “solo-able” as WoW? Is that what I’m getting?

    I was thinking of picking this game up, but if it’s not something 1 or 2 people can do on their own, then … meh.

    That’s ok – SC2 is just around the corner!

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  6. DocHoliday

    4 is a bit of a tricky number but like Galithor mentions the epic story quests do dynamically scale so there shouldn’t be an issue there. However Skirmishes are 1, 2, 3, 6, 12, 24 so you’ll have to break up somehow to do those.

    But like TheRemedy says picking up an extra or two isn’t nearly as bad in LOTRO as other games and for most of the early stuff you can 4 man the fellowship quests pretty well. Worst case you may need to be a level or so higher then the quest but most of them aren’t terrible on a smaller group if you’re halfway competent. Now when you get to the higher level (level 60ish) content you will need 6, but that’s probably a bit down the road for you:)

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  7. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Elisten – Actually, LOTRO is now totally solo-able. I’ve done all the book quests and such with Terentia. I was more worried that we were somewhere between solo and a full fellowship.

    And if you love Lord of the Rings, you have to at least try it when it goes Free to Play.

    @Elleseven – Actually, I was going to make my burglar dark skinned and name him Othello, but the name was taken. That was probably lucky, since it will save me from any accusations of racism if I play the character badly. Anyway, I went to secondary names from the play and ended up with Roderigo, a dissolute Gondorian.

    @Others – Yeah, I have actually had really good luck with PUGs in LOTRO so far. And having a tank and a healer as part of the base group helps. On the other hand, we do, as a group, tend to travel at our own speed. LOTRO isn’t known for the “Go go go!” routine like WoW, but I still worry that we might annoy others with our pace.

    I did not know that the epic quests scaled so well. Since that will likely be our main focus, I may be worried over nothing.

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  8. Rindan

    Make sure to not rush through the Moria instances(except for Grand Stair) you will be dead in 5 minutes. The 16th hall & Skumfil are dangerous.

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  9. whorhay

    I believe in WoW you can use alts to sign charters. At least a couple years ago when I was still playing you could do that, just the person with the charter couldn’t be logging out to switch alts. I remember signing six spots on someone’s charter once all with my lowbie alts.

    And Steam released a new free game with it’s source and development tools last week. The game is Alien Swarm, it’s pretty short so far but there are a lot of different ways to play your character and it pretty much requires four people most of the time.

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  10. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Whorhay – I’ve done this a couple of times recently and I have never been able to get more than one signature per account on a guild charter in WoW. Since we have two accounts in my house, the obvious route to create a guild quick is to have one account sign for the other with as many characters as possible. No such luck.

    Perhaps they closed that loophole since you last played, but that is the way it is now in WoW.

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