Our very own Punggo asks:
How would you rank the lvl-50 dungeons on a scale of 1-10 according to difficulty? I have an alt nearing 50 who may have a good group to run dungeons with, unlike my first two toons I took past 50.
That’s a question deserving a very long answer!
Setting the Scale
Let me start by setting the scale by which I’ll rate the level 50 instances (when done at or near level). The scale is from 1 to 10 with one being an easy dungeon and ten being difficult. I’m basing this scale on 3 group types: Novice, Intermediate and Expert.
Here is how I describe these group types and their generalized skill sets:
A group consisting of players and toons with most or all of the following characteristics:
This level of play is generally very quickly graduated from and is an example of a “worst case scenario”
|Intermediate group: A group made up of players and toons with most of these characteristics:
This is the grouping that comprises the majority of the game’s player base. It is not unusual for players in this echelon to exhibit expert qualities especially where gear and traits are the main factor keeping a player in this tier of play.
|Expert group: A group comprising of players and toons with many of these characteristics:
This group comprises of the players who have “been around the block as few times” as they say… They are well geared and very experienced. They draw upon the learning experiences from their more humble gaming past to help them clear new and more challenging content with greater ease than any other level of group.
A novice group can come into the instance with no prior knowledge and experience several wipes and may or may not complete. Or if novice group has prior knowledge they’re likely to fully clear the instance after some struggles. An intermediate group even without prior knowledge finds this instance still trivial.
A novice group requires a lot of prior knowledge of strats/game mechanics in order to expect a full clear of the instance and even so will experience several road bumps along the way. An intermediate group without prior knowledge may experience a couple small road bumps. With prior knowledge this is trivial for an intermediate group.
A novice group would be lucky to clear this without getting help from a better-geared, more versed player. An intermediate group without prior knowledge can expect moderate road bumps but should still clear. With prior knowledge this is still relatively trivial for an intermediate group.
Novice groups can forget about doing this. Intermediate groups without prior knowledge can expect to wipe on occasion but should still have no issue in eventually clearing. With prior knowledge, intermediate groups will find this instance easy, but not trivial. Expert groups breeze through this.
Intermediate groups without prior knowledge are likely to experience several wipes but, with determination, will get through it. With prior knowledge they find this to be of moderate difficulty. Expert groups with no prior knowledge may wipe once or twice. Expert groups with prior knowledge still have little to no issues at this level.
Intermediate groups without prior knowledge will encounter lots of hardship and may require a few trips in to get the hang of everything and get it done. With prior knowledge, intermediate groups can clear this with moderate to high difficulty and with only a wipe or two.Expert groups without prior knowledge will encounter moderate difficulty and multiple wipes, still a likely clearing on the first play session of trying. Expert groups with prior knowledge find this a fair challenge but do not sweat.
Intermediate groups without prior knowledge are likely to get very frustrated perhaps even discouraged, however, with a bit of patience and a lot of determined effort, they can and will eventually break through, though it may take several play sessions in there to eventually break it. Expert groups without prior knowledge wipe several times and find this to be a worth challenge, it may take them more than 1 play session, but not as many as an intermediate group. Expert groups with prior knowledge clear the instance in 1 play session but do likely experience a wipe or two.
Intermediate groups, knowledge or not, flee in terror. Expert groups beat their heads against what seems to be an unbreakable wall until somehow, by some miracle they break through and get it done. This is the pinnacle of challenges in LotRO and finishing it is a true accomplishment for anyone.
Ranking the Angmar Cluster:
Urugarth is the first instance in the Angmar cluster. It features several different paths to reach different areas (so long as you have the key) and lots of bosses. There are only a couple boss encounters than offer even a little challenge. This is a real “tank and spank” kind of instance however there are spots that are unforgiving of recklessness. Also, don’t drink the water.
Carn Dûm is the crown jewel of the Angmar cluster, having been the “former stronghold of the Witch King”. This instance, like Urugarth features many routes to the various areas that are open to you if you have the appropriate keys. There are a few tricky boss fights and many others that are very simple. This instance, due to many long paths and tons of bosses is one that will take a long time to complete. It is, in fact, the only fellowship sized instance that actually has locks. Having locks means that you can take a few nights to finish it without losing boss progress so long as you’re mindful of when the lock resets for it are coming.
Barad Gúlaran is the shortest and smallest of the Angmar instances in that it only has 3 real boss encounters with just a couple sub-boss encounters and is made up of a few rooms and two stairwells. What makes this instance tougher than the others, at level, is the complexity of the final fight. If you’ve not read a strat or paid very close attention to what you’ve looted throughout the instance you’ll have no hope in defeating the the final boss here. My biggest word of advice is to really READ what you loot.
I recommend you read Azz’s Barad Gularan Guide for assistance with this particular dungeon! Azz also has a write up on all the things to do in the Angmar Hub for those looking to make sure they don’t miss a quest or deed.
Ranking the Annúminas Cluster:
|Glinghant "The Gardens":||Rating:|
The gardens of Glinghant feature only one, medium difficulty boss. However, this instance has some of the most unforgiving trash pulls in as fellowship instance in the game. It’ll take great caution and patience to work your way to the boss in this visually stunning instance.
|Haudh Valandil “The Tombs”:||Rating:|
The tombs of Haudh Valandil contain several crypts full of interesting trash pulls. With a bit of recklessness or carelessness it becomes very easy to pull too much in this instance. The two boss fights herein also pose a moderate challenge. This instance is dark, gloomy and challenging, but also fun.
|Ost Elendil "The Palace”||Rating:|
The palace at Ost Elendil is one of the most beautiful indoor spaces in the game and features some unique fight mechanics and a moderate challenge. The small yet existent learning curve to this instance is where it gets it’s challenge, once you’ve learned the unique mechanics, this two-boss dungeon is easily run cleanly in 30 mins give or take a few.
This article is part of the “Ask Elborigorn” series, where I encourage CSTM readers to send questions to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org . I then will answer the question either with an entire article or as part of a multi-question weekly article.