With the release of Rise of Isengard, it was time to take my hobbit to Isengard. Therefore, I am placing my younger characters aside as I return to my main warden. Today, we will look at my main warden as she levels to 75 and learns if there are any significant changes in the skirmishes.
As there were a few changes to how double builders worked, I naturally had to review my traits before heading into action. Master of the Fist is now tied to a single skill that generates two fist builders rather than to two skills that generate a fist builder followed by a different builder. The other two Master traits were updated in a similar fashion.
The six old double builders are now all tied to Way of the Warden, which I did not have equipped when Isengard was released. The question was which legendary trait did I need to drop and what should I do about the old mastery traits?
First, I needed to decide on legendary traits. I was not giving up my shield capstone, so I had to choose between Grand Master Weapon Training and Javelin of Deadly Force. As I found the javelin legendary to be quite useful in two major situations (large crowd situations in skirmishes and dealing with the Shepherd of Filth), I decided to drop Grand Master Weapon Training.
This decision did not take into account another major change in Isengard: the behavior of the Shepherd of Filth. Since the crawlers are now scattered across the area, Javelin of Deadly Force is no longer useful for removing them. For that reason, I switched to GMWT. Eventually, I missed the javelin and returned to it.
For class traits, I had previously run with the three mastery traits plus four shield traits. I decided to retain the shield traits but that I no longer needed the shield and spear masteries. I therefore equipped Expert Hurler in place of the spear mastery (the one spear trait I truly regretted giving up when I switched to a Shield line) and a shield trait that increased the number of heal pulses. I am keeping the fist mastery for now as my one quick means to getting aggro and a potency buff.
I did not make any changes to my virtues. They are: Empathy, Discipline, Loyalty, Honour, and Innocence. They all reached rank 12 before I reached level 75. I may replace Empathy with Zeal if I ever get Zeal up to rank 12.
The first thing I did after starting Rise of Isengard was to run a couple skirmishes for the guides I was writing. I wanted the latest information for my Thangúlhad primer, so I ran that skirmish and quickly learned that the Bannerguard no longer behaved very well in that skirmish.
Was this an issue with just the bannerguard or with all the soldiers? I eventually found that the issue was with the soldiers that were supposed to stay in front of you (such as the bannerguard) and that the other soldiers (such as the archer) appeared to behave normally. My solution was to switch to an archer.
I already had a rank-25 archer, so the only major change I had to make was to replace a personal skill that was removed from the game. I kept my archer at rank 25 until I reached level 70 (no, I didn’t buy a reset scroll just to save a few skirmish marks).
While I was leveling, I ranked my soldier only enough keep pace with my level. After I was settled at level 75, I paid the marks to reach rank 35.
Two skirmish sizes included significant updates. For raids, there is now a weekly quest for each skirmish (except Survival: Barrow Downs) that awards Superior Fourth Marks and a chest with real loot. The upshot of this is that skirmish raids have now become quite popular.
Duos have been rescaled so that the traits of the mobs are 2/3 of those of small fellowship skirmishes. This seems reasonable seeing that there are 2/3 of the players present. This should be good news for those players who were struggling when running duo skirmishes.
What about full fellowship skirmishes? My guess is that they will be the least-played size, especially at level 75.
During the weeks after the release of Isengard, I needed to switch to Determination stance when facing elite skirmish encounters. It’s not as much of a necessity now, though I do swap stances more often than I did before the release of Isengard. The small fellowship runs went without a hitch (it’s nice to have a captain in the group). As for raids, I have concluded that my tanking skills are still a work in progress. I therefore generally stay in Recklessness stance unless there is a reason to do otherwise (which is interesting considering that I almost never used that stance prior to the release of Isengard.
Once I had the skirmish information I needed, it was time to head out to Nar’s Peak to resume the epic story line. Since I spent the time running a couple skirmishes, I managed to miss the rush hour crowds at the peak.
While running the epic quests, I did the logical course of running the quests for each hub as I visited there during the epic story. I never went to a new area or part of the epic story when it was more than one level higher than my level. If I needed to catch up to the content, I would run a couple skirmishes for experience, research, and marks. This way, I reached level 75 before I ran out of quests.
The following skills are earned in this level range (levels 66-75):
- The double builder skills were revamped
- Improved Javelin-Toss (66) – This adds a bleed to Javelin-Toss which I find very useful
- Battle Memory I (66) – A storage slot for a skill saved through Potency
- Improved Goad Strike (66) – The Goad gambit now activates Potency
- Improved Deft Strike (68) – The Deft Strike gambit now activates Potency
- Improved Defensive Strike (70) – The Defensive Strike gambit now activates Potency
- Muster to Galtrev (70) – Requires reputation with Dunland (fairly easy to acquire)
- Deflection (70) – Reduces threat (useful in double-tanking situations)
- Aggression (72) – Increases threat (I still find myself using Conviction instead)
- Shield Tactics (74) – Gives a brief stun immunity – I am just learning how to use this one
The question is if I should bother with Potency. Currently, I rarely use it. I do see one advantage in it, though: I can prepare The Boot as an interrupt. This will only help if I can work loading the skill into my skill rotation.
In this level range, we have a new tier of crafting, which means a new tier of food. While there is technically only one tier of new food, there are actually three grades. First we have the basic level you earn when you gain access to Tier 7 cooking and which have a minimum level of 66. Then you have the Dunland rep version that has a minimum level of 70. Finally, you have the Thoedred’s Riders rep version that has a minimum level of 75. I have found that I am eating much more food since the release of the Isengard expansion.
What plugins do I use when playing Lotro? My favorites are Buff Bars, Tonic Bars, and CTime. Buff Bars is extremely useful in tracking down what debuffs the enemy is placing on me, which is useful when writing skirmish guides. I started using CTime to help me with some timed features in skirmishes though I find myself using it as a general clock also. TonicBars is a good place to place my mount and travel skills so I can better organize my primary skill bars.
Rise of Isengard threw us a curve as there was an issue that caused Buff Bars and Tonic Bars to crash the game client under certain conditions. Fortunately, between updates from the plugin authors and Turbine, all of my plugins are now running fine.
As of this writing, I have a mixture of equipment. As I leveled, I used quest rewards for my armor and jewelry. I did not worry about crafting armor, even though my warden is technically a tailor (I say “technically” since I have to send my hides to my hunter for processing before I can make anything).
I currently have three pieces from the raid set. I could theoretically get the fourth piece but I think my current gloves suit me more than the ones from the set.
I used my second age Level 65 weapons through much of the range. I kept my old javelin all the way to level 75 when I finally bartered for a new one at the skirmish vendor. I waited until level 73 before changing main weapons, as this was when I finally found a spear (yes, I ignored those other warden weapons – I prefer spears). Once I reached 75, it took a couple days questing in Isengard before my level-75 spear finally dropped. Now I am using a Second-age spear thanks to getting my only decent roll in a skirmish raid at just the right moment.
Gaining Kindred the Dunland seems to be fairly easy. It took a bit longer to reach Kindred with Theodred’s Riders.
I leveled my primary warden fairly quickly so I could collect skirmish information at the new cap. I find it easier to collect skirmish data with a stable character, which means a character at cap. Fortunately, I have other characters that can take their time along the road to level 75.
What are my thoughts on the warden changes? On the plus side, I have my javelin skill cooldowns back to a reasonable level. We also have the new bleed rotation that fits in fairly well with my existing rotation. This helps me to get through those lieutenants a bit quicker.
As for Potency, I still need a way to get it into my rotation. I also need to fit the stun immunity into situations other than the Assault of the Ringwraiths’ Lair boss fight.
May your shield protect you and your speak never break,