Skirmish Refund Tip

February 3, 2012

Skirmish Guides

This is a guest post sent into us by Malhirviel about some very useful information he found about Skirmish Marks and he was kind enough to give us a little write up on what he found.

When it comes to LOTRO patch notes, I am not exactly what you would call a connoisseur. On the rare occasions that I actually read them, I often find my eyes glazing over reading discussions of improvements being made to end-game dungeons I have yet to run, and minor fixes to game mechanics I didn’t know existed. So I was a little surprised when I found myself reading the latest patch notes at all, and even more surprised when I found something of personal interest in them. Tucked deep in the notes, about halfway through “Town Services, NPCs, Vendors,” is this terse explanation: “Soldier rank traits have had their prices significantly reduced.”

Now, I enjoy skirmishing, and so even without hearing any details, the promise of a cost reduction was pretty appealing. Plus, I’d been unhappy with the way my Protector was working out in skirmishes lately, and so I signed into LOTRO to see if skirmish marks had been refunded, allowing me to retrait my soldier for free. No such luck – my points remained exactly the same. How major a change could this have been, I wondered, if there hadn’t been a skirmish mark refund? I realized I needed more information about the exact nature of the change before I could decide what to do about it. I did some searching in the forums and finally located a patch note thread which didn’t actually mention the skirmish change until about the 14th page (perhaps not surprisingly, given the low profile the announcement had gotten in the notes).

Screenie01What finally caught my eye in the thread were a few people’s experiences which sounded very promising. More than one user reported purchasing a Scroll of Skirmish Refund (available in the LOTRO Store for 295 Turbine Points), getting all their marks back, completely retraiting their soldier, and – presumably due to the new lower cost – ending up with a huge surplus of marks left over. Having experienced frustration at the increasingly ridiculous prices of skirmish ranks, I decided to give it a try. After all, who wouldn’t want a huge pile of skirmish marks to play around with?

Now, at this point I ought to pause for a moment and confess that I am not intimately familiar with all the ins and outs of every aspect of LOTRO, and skirmishes are no exception. For example, just this past week I learned that training skirmish skills costs more if you’re trying to raise a skill above your current level. So for example, at level 66, it would have cost me 222 marks to upgrade my skirmish soldier to level 67. However, once I reached level 67, the cost was just 148 marks to make the same upgrade. Screenie02(Presumably this is intended as a kind of built-in limiter for people trying to over-level their soldiers and run high-level content for increased rewards.) I also didn’t know until recently that Skirmish Captains sell special soldier skills above and beyond what the Skirmish Trainers sell. (I’m sure this is probably referenced at some point in the skirmish tutorial and I just missed it. Nevertheless, it was a big revelation for me – shiny new skills!)

With these two things in mind, I decided to bite the bullet and retrait my soldier. Here’s how it went down:

Screenie03I started off with 2,395 marks in my barter wallet, bought and used a Scroll of Skirmish Refund which returned 19,854 marks to me, giving me a total of 22,249 marks – quite a princely sum! As I went to buy skills, however, I noticed something a little odd. As you can see in the screenshot, not all of my skills were reset completely by the scroll. I had previously traited a Warrior (during the in-game skirmish tutorial) and a Protector (after completing the tutorial). Immediately after the reset, those two soldier attributes are still listed as being at level 2, while all the others are listed as being at level 1. Weird, but not a big deal – it must just be something funky with the coding of the skirmish traits, or the way the reset works.

Anyway, this time I chose to level up a warrior instead of a protector. I started by increasing just his level (no Skills, Training, or Personal attributes yet) and soon he was even with me at level 66 … and it only cost me 1,093 marks!Screenie04 I began to think that this strategy might actually pay off.

Then I decided that I wanted to try purchasing one of the “Ultimate” skills from the Skirmish Captain to see if they really were any better than the regular skills available from the Skirmish Trainer. So I spent 523 marks and 111 medallions for the skill “Ultimate: Blood-Seeker.” A little pricey, to be sure, but it was worth it for the sake of experimentation. While I was there, I also purchased the skill “Whirling Wounds” for 70 marks and 16 medallions. Having slotted my new skills, I then began to level them, taking my soldier from 98-pound weakling to Buff ‘n’ Brawny Brawler in about five minutes.

And when my soldier was completely retraited up to level 66 (plus one skill accidentally increased to level 67), and my Training and Personal attributes were all at the same level they’d been before, my barter wallet contained a total of 16,369 marks. Wow!


Let’s take a look at the math: pre-update, the cost of all of my skirmish skills was 19,854 marks (the amount I was refunded upon using the scroll). Post-update, I spent 5880 marks retraiting my soldier, but 593 of those marks don’t count because I spent them purchasing the super-duper special skills that I hadn’t had before. So, in the end, what formerly cost 19,854 now costs 5,287. That’s a savings of approximately 73%! (Keep in mind, YMMV. I have no idea how much of that difference is due to the recent reduction in cost, and how much of it is due to the times I unknowingly overpaid by leveling my skirmish soldier beyond my toon’s current level. Even taking that into consideration, though, I think we can safely assume that the real reduction is at least in the neighborhood of 50-60%, which is still pretty huge. Also, the Ultimate skills cost a bit more to level up than the regular skills do, so the total amount I paid to retrait is even a bit higher than it would have been to go back to my exact trait setup from before.)

This episode brings up two related questions:

#1 – Why has this change not gotten more publicity? Did Turbine intentionally downplay the change for some reason? Or is it just that not enough skirmishers read patch notes for it to get much play? It certainly wasn’t hidden, but a change this significant feels like it should have been more prominent, or at least had some additional description, such as a comparison of the new prices against the old prices.

#2 – If the changes in skirmish soldier cost are this significant, why didn’t Turbine reset everyone’s skirmish marks for free? It feels kind of nickel-and-dimey to force players to purchase scrolls in the LOTRO Store to get the benefit of what was, essentially, Turbine’s mistake of overcharging for skirmish ranks. We don’t have to pay to take advantage of any of the other routine fixes in the game, so I don’t see why this should be any different. This is especially irksome to me as a Premium player, since my TP is limited, and is therefore quite precious to me. Even if I were VIP, though, I would probably still be annoyed at having to spend over half of my monthly allotment of TP to fix a problem that was not of my own creation.

This is purely conjecture, but given the recent news about the upcoming Riders of Rohan expansion – and the more significant role that skirmish soldiers will be playing there – the cost reductions may be merely a prelude to additional larger changes which will be coming soon. (Perhaps the new mechanics will make it advantageous to have several fully-traited skirmish soldiers available to you, for use in different scenarios?) In fact, it’s entirely possible that Turbine chose not to implement a skirmish mark reset now because they know they will be doing so when RoR launches in the Fall.

In the end, although I’m annoyed at having to spend TP to get my soldier in order, I really do appreciate the huge reduction in cost. While I enjoy the skirmish mechanic, the old pricing structure was very steep, to the point where I was considering abandoning skirmishes entirely because it required too much time and effort to upgrade every time I dinged a level. It’s definitely nice to be able to coast for the moment and not be forced to run skirmishes for the sole purpose of continuing to be able to run skirmishes.

So, I encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy the new cheaper skirmishing! If anyone needs me, I’ll be over at the Curiosities vendor using my thousands of marks to finally buy my missing major class items from about 20 levels ago…

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43 Responses to “Skirmish Refund Tip”

  1. Alucard Says:

    In my opinion, this is a bug at best and an exploit at worst. I was always told that the refund scrolls couldn’t know what you actually spent, and just refunded the amount appropriate for your current level. Look for Turbine to adjust the scroll refund formula.


    • kwyjibo Says:

      Interesting. But, may be since the cost change, they internally know how much cost in the past what you have now, and then they can refund accordingly.


    • Valiant Turtle Says:

      My guess is that the algorithm that determines how much you get when you use a refund scroll is not directly linked to the costs and needs to be updated separately, and apparently wasn’t. I’m 100% certain this is not at all intentional.

      I don’t know if it’s been tried, but I’m pretty sure that if you buy the refund scroll again you’ll get an identical windfall in marks from it and you’ll get even more if you buy up all soldier roles/skills beforehand.


      • Delvechael Says:

        I tried this today. It works the first time, but it does not work a 2nd time. So much for my attempt to manipulate the system.

        I received the windfall last week with my first scroll. I don’t recall exactly, but I received about 16,000 marks and used 5,140 to bring my soldier to her prior levels.

        I decided to “gamble” with 295 TPs today. I received 5,140 marks for a 0 gain.


        • darkeye Says:

          It makes sense that it is a once off thing. The way the scrolls work is they refund the amount of SM that your current level would need to spend to get your skirmish soldier to that rank so 5140 in your case, and it will always be that amount until your character levels up, and if you don’t spend any more on your soldier, you should be getting less and less SM each time you use a scrollas level increases.

          Because they lowered the SM costs, say to level your soldier from 37 to 40 used to be 200 SM, when your character is level 40, and the new cost is 100 SM, but if your character is level 75, you’ll still get 100 SM refunded but next time you buy that same rank it might only cost 10 SM and that’s the amount you’ll get refunded with the next scroll, which is how the scrolls always worked. I doubt they keep track of when your character bought each individual rank so they have to use a set amount that is the fairest way.

          It is annoying though that they can do this with refund scrolls and not have given everyone a refund when they have the extra functionality available.


  2. Ethelros Says:

    Yeah, I discovered this much the same way as you. While it would have been nice to have the reset, I can’t say I mind too much, if only because the store item is relatively cheap.

    Unfortunately I made the error of overlevelling some of my skrim soldier’s traits, which I wasn’t aware costs substantially more. >_>


  3. Mar Says:

    thanks for the post. Altho I’m premium I splurged out for skirm mark refund scroll and now have +20k marks in my wallet!


  4. CrazyOne Says:

    Thanks! I had been trying to explain this to some kinnies and they thought I was crazy.

    Had swapped from a fully ranked protector to a fully ranked Herbalist. Received 50K marks on refund, and only spent 30K for the new soldier. The 20K savings was incredible.


  5. Halfindil Says:

    I actually knew this, i thought every1 knew that u could boost your soldier like this, guess that isnt true :D, nice post


  6. cyanpill Says:

    Considering how it seems like they reset LIs almost every patch, it would have been nice to reset all the skirmish costs too.


  7. Mike of Arkenstone Says:

    Great post.

    I checked out my 75 Loremaster today and the cost to level his 75 soldier to level 76 went from over 1000 to 500 sm.

    I thought Merric mentioned that it cost too much to level a soldier in a recent podcast but I don’t remember when.

    I did purchase a refund scroll on my main when I hit 75, and I was able to max the soldier and have a nice surplus left over.

    One scroll doesn’t cost much but I have a main and 7 alts? A SM reset would have been appropriate.


    • Avatar of Merric
      Merric Says:

      Yes, Turbine did say that the costs were off a few weeks back (or maybe after Isengard was released) and that they were adjusting them. I don’t know if they expected it to be this big of a refund if you reset your skirmish points though. I have almost 2 fully leveled skirmish soldiers after this.

      And I thought the same of you. I now have a number of alts, all of which have done a fair amount of skirmishing… /sigh


  8. Barosa Says:

    “As you can see in the screenshot, not all of my skills were reset completely by the scroll.”

    This is not a bug, the refund scroll will not “unlearn” skills/traits you purchased so the ones you have showing Lvl 2 are actually Lvl 1 (since you purchased them) and the ones showing Lvl 1 are actually not available to you till you purchase them.

    As for whether this should be considered and “exploit” or not seems rather harsh. I also do not see this as a money grab by Turbine to get people to buy scrolls in the store. I have actually known about this for some time now and even though Turbine has adjusted the prices of the various traits/skills I believe that there is another explanation for the massive changes.

    Here is what I have noticed (and this was even pre-RoI). I would increase my skirmish soldiers traits/skills so that they were always one level below my characters level and once I hit cap (65 back then and 75 now) I would buy the refund scroll and then repurchase the exact same trait/skills I had been using and get an really nice pool of left over marks and such.

    What I figured out after doing this on multiple characters (one which I did this at both 65 and 75 on my main as well as on four other alts when they hit 65) is that the price in marks is also effected by the distance between your characters level and the level of your skirmish soldier.

    If you start skirmishing at higher levels, like many of us did when they first implemented, you may have noticed when you first started increasing the traits/skills of your soldier that the low levels were actually very low and it cost next to nothing to raise. As you kept raising them the cost scaled up and if you raised them past your character level it got very expensive, very quickly.

    Let me try to break this down further with a few examples (Disclaimer: The number of marks I use in the examples below are not accurate and are just being used to illustrate my point).

    Example #1: You are lvl 65 and increase to lvl 66 and have kept your skirmish traits equal to your level so let say that it will cost 140 marks to increase a trait from 65 to 66. You then go from lvl 66 to lvl 67 and do the same thing and, for the sake of this example, it costs you another 140 marks to increase a trait from 66 to 67. To increase a trait over these two level ups cost a total of 280 marks.

    Example #2: You are lvl 65 and increase to lvl 66 and decide not to raise your skirmish traits this level (for the sake of this example your skirmish traits are all lvl 65). You then hit lvl 67 and then decide to increase your skirmish traits up to your current level. You end up spending 120 marks to raise the skirmish trait from 65 to 66 and then another 140 marks to raise it from 66 to 67. To increase a trait over these two level ups cost a total of 260 marks.

    Hopefully these two examples will clarify what I was saying earlier. I am not sure of exactly how much the mark costs scales per level as the gap closes between your characters level and your skirmish trait/skills levels but from my experience on multiple characters it is noticeable enough to seem to validate my explanation. Once again, I first noticed this pre-RoI purely by mistake when I decided to use a skirmish mark refund scroll from the store so that I could re-do my soldier on my main. I then tried it on multiple other characters and got similar results and came to the explanation that I outlined above.

    I would love to see if someone actually has the hard numbers to either prove or disapprove my theory on this.

    Regardless, nice article Malhirviel!


  9. Oderinma Says:

    I have tested this on my 75 mini running with a 65 (!) Warrior soldier.
    Started out with 6898 marks. After refund (20K marks!!) I leveled up my Warrior to 75 (rank 32) on all skills, traits and personal. After this operation I had 13531 Marks.

    All this for 295 TP. I consider that a good deal.


  10. Brerod Says:

    Great tip! Thanks for sharing.


  11. Fipiara Says:

    My guess is that after soldier costs were reset when F2P launched and L20-30 ranks were added, they started keeping track of SMs spent on soldier for the very reason to make refunds easier and to sell them. When F2P launched we were refunded the current soldier costs instead of SMs spent, which is what led to the belief that the skirmish refund would work exactly the same way.

    The SMs refunded will vary quite a bit depending on how high you had ranked your soldier when the cap was L65 and how high you are ranked currently. It’s definitely possible to get ~80k+ marks backed if you had a maxed rank soldier at 65 and again at 85.


  12. Coco Says:

    I don’t feel it’s worth to spend 295TP fir 15k Marks…
    But especially, i was hoping for a refund offered as for LI’s, especially since it’s the second “major” changes on soldiers. First was some skill changes and even some removed.
    But no refund to correct our soldier with all those changes…


  13. jonras Says:

    The ranks that stay level 2 are not bugged. You actually get those for the quest reward so you never bought them for am in the first place.


  14. Netham Says:

    I’m thinking one reason for the huge returns is the fact that we leveled our soldiers on an on lvl basis while we were doing skirms.. I assume u get more than the price reductions back now because of your higher lvl compared to when u first bought them.

    Might be that a certain rank, say 5, which is not on lvl, costs as much at 75 that it used to cost at 65, but I’m guessing it’s cheaper at higher lvl, so resetting on each new lvl cap (assuming prices remain unchanged) would profit u some amount of marks.

    If someone can compare prices, it would be nice, since I’m not on my pc now and can’t do that at lvl cap.

    Just an idea though, that I’d like to confirm if it works so or not.


  15. Bodrick Says:

    Well I knew about this already, I tend to pay attention to the notes and tried it a couple days after the patch. So my soldier before the refund was at rank 34, with her skills being in the mid 20 to 30′s level. After spending my marks, I managed to get her maxed on all her skills and her rank, and my own skills and still have approx 18k left over.
    However I do want to point out some of the commentary about well surely the difference is because of the fact that I might have leveled my solider as I leveled etc and therefore there is an inherent difference anyway.

    I can dispel this as being the case at least in my circumstances, because I knew of this difference anyway, and once I hit lvl 75 on my toon, bought a scroll of skirmish mark refund, thinking that I would indeed have a net gain of skirmish marks. I did receive a net gain, but not a huge amount, maybe 2-3k marks total after leveling my solider to the point before I did the refund.

    Therefore I can say that my refund was about as legit as it can get due to the fact that I had already done the skirmish mark refund once I hit the lvl cap.


  16. legotho Says:

    My Protector was maxed out before I bought the scroll. Now he’s level one, with no interesting abilities, but I have over 100,000 skirmish marks! OOoh, such wealth!


  17. Harperella Says:

    This news made the rounds in our kin a few weeks back and many refunded their skirmish soldiers. My skirmish soldier was about level 71 across the board and I got around 26k marks back from him. I maxed out all his traits and still had 3k marks left over. Part of this was due to this change, part was due to the fact that I could concentrate points in just the skills I was using.

    Some other lower level kin members tried the same thing and had much more modest success. I suspect they adjusted the cost curve so that you got the biggest savings on the higher level traits (>65). This makes it a less useful trick for lower level characters.



  18. Merrydew Says:

    OMG! If I had known you didn’t know this stuff I would have written up an article for you ages ago! Sorry, my bad!!!


  19. Calaham Says:

    I think they are trying to nickel and dime us, too. I first really saw it with the Isengard Instance Cluster. The Ox-clan Merchant Camp does not have a bard – of all things! What is a so-called ‘Instance Hub’ with no bard! This led me to believe that it was a scheme to force most of us to buy a 2nd Milestone skill – to Lagtrev. Interestingly, a week or two after the new instances were released, there was a Milestone skill and cooldown sale.


    • Calaham Says:

      ^Add a lack of a relic/forge master to that list


    • Frisco Says:

      Agreed. I like some aspects of the Turbine Store, but when they deliberately add INconveniences to the game so that we will buy conveniences, I feel used.

      I don’t spend money of these nickel-and-dime things, so when the game becomes too inconvenient for me to play without spending money on conveniences, I will conveniently stop giving them money. :)


  20. Belandwen Says:

    Thanks so much for this information!! I got the scroll, and after retraiting my soldier all the way up to level 75 with me, came out 4K ahead. Really nice to have my warrior at his best :)


  21. Tony Says:

    I’ve never understood why the display for a solider shows several open “attribute” slots, when you can only apply one at a time.


  22. Calaham Says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I will see what it’ll turn out to. You have acquired [65,734 Marks].


    • Calaham Says:

      Unbelievable, I now have 43,000 marks. Took ~22,000 marks to max out my soldier completely – everything at 35. They nerfed the costs a ton.


  23. davidt Says:

    Reset. Windfall of 30,000 marks. Wow.

    Rather than investing them in another soldier or spending them buying whatever, I think I’ll hang on to them just in case there’s something new coming with the updates , The Great River, or Riders of Rohan. For all we know our War Steed, or using our soldier in the open landscape, may cost skirmish marks.


  24. Kazren Says:

    This worked great for me, I was able to level my Herbalist up to even with me, plus give her a new skill and train that up, plus give my character a new trait and level all up to his current level. Amazing.


  25. squirle Says:

    Did some refunds and calculations.

    At max level you get 60.000 marks back and it costs 8500 to retrain (8:1) (200 marks per TP)
    At lvl 25 you get 16.000 marks back and it costs 3000 to retrain (6:1) (54 marks per TP)


  26. squirle Says:

    pretty graph on how much marks you get back


  27. FellRotten Says:

    This also happened when F2P went live, and multiple times since then. In fact, I think I’ve done this at least 3 times to save marks. The biggest difference was from 65-75 when RoI came out. At 65, I used a skirmish mark refund scroll and obtained 300,000 skirmish marks. Now, at lvl 75, with every soldier, skill, trait, and personal maxed, I still have 130,000 skirmish marks.

    Not only does Turbine keep lessening the ammount of marks required, they also lessened the number of soldier traits and personals they’re even are! So there is a lot of gains to be made.


  28. vamtrok Says:

    I did this and I notice I had a lot of marks (7872) but, then when I went back to train up my soldier it went to level 15 (I am a premium player,I thought I had him up to 25) so, I spent the TP to bump him to 25 and I still ended up 3k+ I just wanted to see if that was happening with other premium players but, then again maybe it was all surplus and I never worked on him.



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