Vraeden’s Introductory Guide to Raiding, Part 1

Barad Guldur

If you’ve been playing MMOs for any length of time, you probably have noticed that there is a segment of players who live to raid.  They don’t care about leveling or role-playing or story or anything other than mustering for raids, taking down bosses and hoping that item drops.1

On the other side of the spectrum are the people who enjoy other aspects of the game and don’t know the difference between DN, OD, BG, OT or any other combination of letters that you want to throw together.

This is the first of probably four articles in which I’m going to talk about my experiences of going from a casual player to an active raid participant.

This is not a guide to specific raids, nor is it meant to give any assistance or advice to people who are experienced raiders.   I do not pretend to be an expert raid leader or know about all of the LOTRO classes, nor would I presume to tell people how they should enjoy the game.

In this first article, I’m going to talk about getting into the general mindset of going on raids.  In the second, I’m going to talk about getting your character(s) ready to go on raids.  The third article will discuss ways to connect with other folks as you start out as a raider.  Finally, the fourth article will be the dumping ground for anything I have forgotten in the other three articles, and to discuss points CSTM readers bring up through the comments or by emailing me directly.  I am expecting to get these out over the next month, but that may be subject to how crazy my holiday schedule gets.

Dar NarbugudAs always, the views expressed here are my own, and your comments and insights are welcome.

The lead-in question to this series is pretty simple: Why do you want to raid?

There are some people who play MMOs and couldn’t care less about raiding.

Maybe they like role-playing.  Maybe they like to level a bunch of different toons.  Maybe they like festivals, music and cosmetics.  Maybe they just want to hang out in kinchat and have fun with other players.  Maybe they are solo players.  Maybe they like PVP.  Maybe they like crafting.

But then there are some players who don’t want anything to do with the above, and all they want to do is endgame content.2

I’ve heard on the forums, in kinchat and in one of the CSTM roundtables the sentiment of, “the game begins at the level cap.”

While I don’t completely agree with that statement, it is absolutely true that there is certain content which is not accessible until you are at the maximum level.

Can you enjoy LOTRO without ever setting a foot in Helegrod or the Rift?  Of course.  You can even advance into the highest level areas (Rohan at the time of this writing) wearing landscape and crafted gear.

There is a lot of available content in the game which is very enjoyable, if only for the view.  The first toon I leveled up was a hunter.  I played mostly solo and I did a lot of the area deeds and quests.  For me, it was nice to see a game that looked good and played well.  Especially since I am not a hardcore Tolkien fan, it was interesting to see how the developers approached building, lighting and populating Middle-Earth.

On my second toon (my minstrel, since I could never seem to find a group for my hunter), I spent a lot of time running around with a champ, and we muscled through the areas to get up to the level 65 cap. It was only later that I went back in to some of the low level areas with a stack of slayer deed accelerators to make up on virtues and deeds that I missed.

For my third toon (my captain, since my kin at the time had a shortage), I grouped up a bunch with a rune-keeper, who was new to the game and is a huge Tolkein nerd.  That experience made LOTRO fun and new for me again, since she got great enjoyment out of seeing all of the things from the books for the first time.3

Ost DunhothNow, though, since I have four toons that are level 65+, and a couple more in the high-40s/low-50s, I really don’t spend a lot of time in each zone.  I power level through an area, then go back when I’m over-level and can one-shot most of the mobs to fill out my slayer deeds.  Surely, there is something more than just leveling, right?

The answer for some folks is raiding.  For others, it’s other the stuff (see above).

The bottom line is this:  LOTRO is a game.  It’s there for you to enjoy.

If it becomes a “job”, do something else.  I just got my minstrel to level 85 and have been doing the Hytbold quests.  It’s a grind.4  Many of the later areas feel like the quest chains are on rails.5  I’m leveling my captain next and on a couple of occasions, I’ve found myself thinking, “Self, didn’t we just do this quest?”  So I take an evening to run my champ through the re-vamped Moria or roll a lowbie instead of grinding the grind.

But if you like a challenge, raiding is for you.

When I first started playing, I joined up with a kin that was pretty casual and made a lot of good friends.  A core group of us started running around doing six man instances and a few of the 12 man raids.  We didn’t have a schedule and no one was hardcore about it.

To make a long story short, there was some drama involved, the leader flaked out, and the kinship dissolved.  The membership scattered across Elendilmir; some people took a break and went to play Rift or Mass Effect 2, some formed another kinship, and some joined other kins.

After meandering around for a month or so, through one of my friends, I plugged into a group, The Osgiliath Guard, which is a casual social kinship on Elendilmir.6  TOG raids on a reasonably regular basis, although we do not run some of the harder tier 2 raids as a kin.  The emphasis in our kin is having fun as casual players, and successfully running tier 2 raids requires a level of devotion and a commitment of time that most of our members do not have.

To be sure, there are several people in TOG who like and want to run the harder raids.  We’ve had people leave our kinship to join some of Elendilmir’s big raid kins because that’s not the direction our kinship has taken.

For a little while, I joined up with another kinship on Elendilmir, which was heavy into raiding.  I ended up leaving this kinship because I am a much too casual player.  They muster every weeknight at 8:00 and if you missed the mustering time, they’d fill your spot in a heartbeat.  They also use a DKP loot system, which means that if you’re not around for all the raids, you are further down the list to get the prized loot drops.

draigoch_08Due to circumstances in my personal life, I was not able to commit the level of time and energy into raiding that they require, but their system works for them, and I still speak regularly with some of them.  I’ll talk more about this in part 3 of this series.

Whatever your reason for wanting to raid, understand that if you are serious about raiding, you will need to commit yourself to learning your class front to back.  You will also need to be able to set aside a lot of time and energy into learning the raids and getting the best gear you can even before you set foot into the raid.

There is a common belief among MMO players that the “best” gamers are the most hardcore raiders.  Without splitting hairs over what “best” means, let me say that it’s a generally true statement (although I would also argue that the “best” could also be the highest ranked PVP players, but that is a whole different skillset for an entirely different series of articles).7  Raiders tend to know the most about their classes and how they fit into the group dynamic.

To complete the harder tier 2 raids, you will need lots of practice at your class and your skills.  You will need to know exactly what each skill/trait/virtue/legacy does.  You will need to know generally (if not specifically) what the other classes can do, especially if you want to get into leading raids.  You will have to spend lots of time grinding out slayer deeds and running all over the place for explorer deeds.  I’ll talk more about this in the next article.

Raiding can also be viewed as a never-ending grind.  My RK friend that I mentioned before  doesn’t like raiding because she hates doing the same instances over and over and over.  Let’s face it, we all know people who will tell you, “I spent every Friday night for a year running the Rift” or “Don’t forget:  Draigoch runs on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday; sign up on the kin calendar.”

If that’s not your cup of tea, don’t do it.

Is raiding for everyone?  No.

Is it a lot of fun?  It can be.

It can also be frustrating and exhilarating, often at the same time.

Since I started running around with TOG, I’ve gotten to know some of my virtual friends to the point that we don’t talk about the game in some instances/raids because everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and just does it.  Instead, we fill our voice chat by asking about each others’s kids, telling bad jokes, sharing recipes for pie, and making fun of the division captain’s age.  Other times, I’ve gotten so creative with my cursing that a kinmate called me a linguistic Picasso with the F-bomb.

If you are unsure as to whether you want to start running some of the cooperative content, whether it’s some of the 3 or 6-man instances or the full raids, try it.  You may like it.  You may not.  Either way, it’s a part of the game that is out there for you to enjoy.  Or maybe, like Forochel, you’ll avoid it at all costs.8


  1. For purposes of this series, I’m going to include the tier 2 3 and 6 man instances in the term “raid”.  I know there is a difference, but the fact of the matter is that the six-mans can be as hard as the full 12 person raids.  You may disagree, but this is my article, so I get to make the semantic rules.
  2. In my experience, most players like some combination of all of these activities, although they generally prefer a couple over the rest.
  3. She loves LOTR like I love Star Wars.  When we got to Rivendell and Caras Galadhon, she spent about an hour in each place just riding her horse around, “geeking out”.  It was like going back to Disney World with a 5 year old kid who has never been there before, even though you have been a million times.
  4. Dear Mr. Grind, Why are you so grindy? -V.
  5. I will rant about this in a later post.
  6. Not to use this as a recruiting plug (which I am shamelessly doing right now), but The Osgiliath Guard is the LOTRO division of a larger group called The Older Gamers, which spans all sorts of games from MMOs to first-person-shooters to strategy games and everything else along the spectrum.  The basic rules are that you have to be at least 25 years old and don’t be an ass.  Our friend Sig from Warsteeds is also a TOG member.
  7. This also only carries cachet among players who value raiding skills.  For people who enjoy role-playing, music and social activities, a hardcore devotion to raiding might be looked down upon.  As I said before: different strokes for different folks.
  8. At heart, I’m still a Florida boy, and I take every opportunity–both in game and in real life–to avoid snow.
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Avatar of Vræden

About Vræden

I was suckered into playing an MMO by some friends and have been stuck around ever since. My "main" is a minstrel on the Elendilmir server, but I'm a pretty casual player who likes a good raid every now and then. My healing skills are spectacularly average, and I am known as the Elf Queen of Lousy Healing to my friends. I like long walks on the beach, puppies and mowing down orcs by the dozen. If you see me in-game, say hi or send me a tell. You can also email me or follow me on the Twitter.

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30 Responses to “Vraeden’s Introductory Guide to Raiding, Part 1”

  1. Asher Says:

    Great article! Looking forward to more, as your schedule allows :) I have been playing Lotro on and off since beta. I like to dip my hand into everything Lotro offers, though I never get deeply into any specific area. For instance, yesterday I spent the whole day crafting. The day before, I was working on deeds. Before that, leveling an alt. For me, the game is most enjoyable when trying a little bit of everything, including raiding at times.

    Reply

  2. Tondi Says:

    I look forward to reading all the sections of this guide. I’ve been playing for Lotro for nearly two years now, have a hunter & a minstrel in Rohan and have never completed a 12-man raid. Once, while getting pounded by the trolls in the Limlight Gorge, one of my companions told me to open up the “target assist” window (I think it was called target assist). Whats that! I hope you explain things like this.

    Reply

    • Avatar of Rinon
      Rinon Says:

      I think you need to do something with the UI settings to show the target assist window on your screen. Then, to make someone a Fellowship or Raid Assistant, right-click on their portrait and I think you go into the menu called Fellowship and pick Set Asisst Target or something like that. Anyway, once you do this it will show their vitals in the assist window, and next to them it will show the vitals of their target. If you click on this, you will target the same enemy they’re attacking so you can finish it off faster by working together.

      Reply

    • Avatar of Vræden
      Vræden Says:

      I’m going to talk about the UI, plugins, combat options, and stuff like that in part 4 of the series.

      Reply

  3. Hildifast Says:

    I like Forochel :) Great article Vraeden, as usual of course. I look forward to the rest of the guide. Thanks :D

    Reply

  4. Pasduil Says:

    Looking forward to the rest of this guide.

    I’ve never done a proper raid, just the odd skraid, Watcher and such. I’m interested to hear how a casual player that can’t commit big blocks of regular time can try them out.

    I do enjoy a good instance with skilled players and an interesting challenge, so if there’s a way of doing it without making a heavy commitment, that would be nice.

    Reply

    • Merowin Says:

      I can only speak for my kin, but we usually don’t raid for more than 2-3 hours in one stretch. After 2 hours people start to lose concentration, the fun goes away, and it’s time to stop.

      I will usually take a person on as long as they have at least one hour, after one hour I can always find a replacement if needed, but being able to commit two hours is preferable. Draigoch or one of the Orthanc wings doesn’t have to take more than an hour, but if something goes wrong it can easily take longer.

      Reply

    • Nimgilviel Says:

      The Watcher definitely counts as a raid, although if you’re not doing it on level I agree it’s not nearly the same challenge. The key to what I think of as “casual raiding” is to find the right kin. My kin does raids on Friday nights, but we’re very casual about it. We don’t have sign up sheets, we don’t have gear requirements, and it’s only once a week. That means we eventually complete all the raids in the game, but it takes us longer. We even downed Saruman in the Tower of Orthanc raid, although because of the weekly locks on that raid it requires at least one kin member to be more hardcore in order to complete all the prerequisite unlocks every week. I hope Turbine removes the raid locks for this content once the new instance cluster comes out in February. Otherwise, no one will ever run these raids again, and that would be a shame because they are really fun.

      Reply

  5. Strunto Says:

    I always enjoy reading your articles. Looking forward to the rest of the entries here. Also, always a pleasure to see a fellow Elendilmiran.

    Raids are certainly interesting beasts. For me, I like to see the content. I think that’s probably the biggest shame about the 12-man raids… People who don’t consider themselves raiders don’t get to see the content. I got to see the Balrog fight for the first time last night, because my kin was running it 20 levels over the content.

    I’m always glad to participate and try my hardest with this type of content. Unfortunately, I think the elitist attitude that often drive raid-centric players is a big turnoff. And it certainly isn’t fun to be in a group when tempers get out of control.

    So, I guess high risks with high rewards, in more than one aspect. Definitely not for everybody.

    Reply

  6. Gliredhel Says:

    Take a group of a dozen people.
    Add a large dollop of immaturity.
    Sprinkle in emotional baggage and sexual frustration.
    Stir in anonymity.
    Add 3 cups of misplaced ego.
    Bake for four hours while waiting for various individuals to actually be at the keyboard.
    Sugar lightly with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

    Voila. One Raid Group.

    Reply

    • Diamint Says:

      OR, take a dozen people who listen well, adapt gracefully, have read and understood their tooltips and their class forums, who understand which skills grow/lessen aggro, which skills will make or break cc, which skills add or dispel debuffs, etc., and how to fight while still watching the environment so they can see where mobs are spawning/fire is exploding/who has an angry eye over their heads (especially if it’s them), and you get the brilliant, oiled gears feeling of a true team firing on all cylinders.

      As a former anti-raider who has slowly been shifting more towards active raiding, that is the reason I love it. Not for the content, though I seriously enjoy that. Not for the loot, believe me it’s nice too, but when I raid with loot as the goal I get taken over by a cranky girl with a sense of entitlement, and she cramps my typically easy going style. But that exhilarating feeling of working well with eleven other people is absolutely wonderful, and is the best part of a raid gone well.

      Reply

      • Gliredhel Says:

        Point taken. But my example represents the 99%.

        Reply

      • Anthony Says:

        This, just so much this and when it all comes together, it’s fantastic.
        I still remember my first T2C kill of the Lightning boss in Orthanc. It took a few wipes, but we kept getting closer and closer, the last 30% or so being the main problem. But we weren’t going anywhere till will had him dead and even though only about half the raid group was still standing at the final kill, we got him.

        As for the Balrog in OD, I also remember the first time going through that wing and hearing Gandalf calling out and then seeing a bloody huge Balrog at the top. Didn’t get the final kill the first time, but even so, just seeing it all was so cool.

        As for the “elitist” tag, that’s the one thing that annoys me the most. Just because I have spent the time to read the tool tips, understand the skills, be aware of what’s happening around me, etc, etc doesn’t make me elite, it’s nothing that anyone else can’t do.

        Reply

    • Avatar of Vræden
      Vræden Says:

      Grouping up and plugging into a regular raid group is the subject of part 3.

      Reply

  7. Jessie Says:

    IMO totally useless article which contributes abolutely nothing to people who don’t raid. Only info I gathered is go try it yourself, all this in 20 paragraphs of text.

    Reply

    • Asher Says:

      You think paragraphs like this “contribute abolutely nothing to people who don’t raid”?:
      “To complete the harder tier 2 raids, you will need lots of practice at your class and your skills. You will need to know exactly what each skill/trait/virtue/legacy does. You will need to know generally (if not specifically) what the other classes can do, especially if you want to get into leading raids. You will have to spend lots of time grinding out slayer deeds and running all over the place for explorer deeds.”
      Sounds to me like Vraeden is giving specific advice to non-raiders on what kinds of things to be aware of and how to prepare for raiding, if that’s what they want to do.

      Reply

  8. DJPimpDaddy Says:

    Great article. I have been playing solo so far but I am enjoying the slow leveling process. I am most likely a year from end game at this rate. But I do look forward to your next few articles. Being my first MMO this does clarify a lot. Thank you!

    “Knowledge is power!”

    Reply

    • Nimgilviel Says:

      Don’t wait until end game to start doing group content. LOTRO has some great dungeons starting at level 20 with The Great Barrows, and they are so much more fun if you do them on level. It takes more work to find a group, and you will probably have to PUG unless your kin has lots of low level characters in it, but it is worth it.

      Reply

  9. Merowin Says:

    I enjoy taking on a challenge and beating it as a team, and to me that is what raiding is about. What is required for raiding? As I see it, you need the desire to work together to solve a problem, and the patience to improve as a group and see it through.

    I have been leading raids for my kinship on Nimrodel for about six months. All Shall Fade is a pretty casual kinship, and we have all types of players. Some are very well geared and know almost everything about their class and quite a lot about other classes too. Others are not very well geared and know little about their own class and even less about other classes.

    But as long as a player is genuinely interested in working together as a group, his or her skill level really isn’t that important. The important thing is to balance the ability of the group with the difficulty of the instance and to pick an instance that will provide a good challenge. For an experienced group this could be Saruman on T2, and for a less experienced group it could be Thievery and Mischief, which is one of the harder skirmish raids. It’s also important as a leader to balance the ability of the individual player with the challenge you give that player. Too easy and he will be bored, too hard and he will be disillusioned. It’s also a good idea to mix harder content with easier content. For the harder content you want experienced players to fill the critical roles, while you can use the easier content to test more inexperienced players in the critical roles.

    To begin with your group will not be good enough to beat the instance. But the goal is to improve to where you are good enough beat it. The first time we ran Orthanc, we ran Fire and Frost. It was a good challenge for us, and it took three hours to beat it. Next week we ran Acid and died horribly. It took us three Saturdays, but we beat Acid too. The next two Saturdays we ran Lightning and Shadow and beat both in the first try. Saruman was a different story. It took us around seven Saturdays to improve enough to beat him, but beating him for the first time with the kin was a great feeling, and we went back to defeat him several times afterwards. Because Rohan was delayed we had time to try Lightning on T2. In the first try we couldn’t get past the second room, in the second try we got to the boss, and in the third try we got the boss down to 4,700 morale before he killed us. That is what raiding is about: Leaning the instance, improving and doing better every time.

    As a leader it helps if you have been in the instance before. I had been in Orthanc several times with different groups before I lead the kin through it, and that really helped me.

    Raiding for the sole reason of getting better gear usually doesn’t end well. If you don’t enjoy teamwork, you’re unlikely to have the patience required to make 12 people work together. Unrealistic ideas of your own ability can also ruin a raid. Don’t insist on running Saruman T2 with a group that just isn’t good enough. Pick something more realistic instead.

    Raiding is not about being a hardcore player. It’s about teamwork and beating a challenge. Skill is something you gain from raiding, but not something you have to start out with.

    Reply

    • Giancarlo Robles Says:

      Is there a like button somewhere for your comment Merowin? I absolutely agree with you wholeheartedly and had not seen it from that point of view before. I once thought raiding.was about getting better gear and nothing more. I realize now that its about overcoming difficult odds with another X amount of players and trying your best to be an integral contribution to the group. Thanks for that enlightening comment.

      Reply

  10. inthrihil Says:

    I’m a super casual gamer – taking a casual ‘crawl’ to morder.

    I’m interested in trying out raids – but am a bit apprehensive….
    I want/need some pointers and patience by my raid-mates. The one time I did try it out I’m certain was VERY frustrating for those I was with.

    Does everyone use some sort of chat for raids? I haven’t even figured that part out yet.
    Some pointers there would be helpful….

    Reply

    • Avatar of Vræden
      Vræden Says:

      I hate to sound like a broken record, but I will talk about that in parts 3 and 4 of the series.

      Reply

    • Nimgilviel Says:

      To use raid chat, type /raid or just /ra is enough and hit return.

      The other thing you might not know about is rolling for loot. Most raids do it manually, instead of using the in game need/greed/pass method. Generally the raid leader will open the loot chest and put each item in raid chat so people can see it. Then each person can type /roll in raid chat to generate a random number from 0-100. Who ever wins the roll will get assigned the loot by the raid leader. The reason they do it manually is to make sure there are no mistakes. The best loot is bind on acquire, which means no one else can use it once you pick it up. So if, for example, a minstrel won “need” on a heavy armor piece, it would be worthless and no one could use it. Also, this allows special rules to be in place, like each person can only win one good piece a night, and then they can’t roll any more.

      Reply

  11. Fralin Says:

    One of the first thing I learned about raiding, and which still holds true, is the following:

    You can be a casual raider but you cannot raid casually!

    You can choose not to take such a serious attitude towards raiding but should you choose to go for a raid it is also a commitment to the other 11 players there. As such it is considered bad manners to walk your dog in the middle of a bossfight. If you choose to raid you have to be able to focus on the raid. if you raid casually, the experience will be long and painful… not to mention expensive on the repair bills.

    Reply

    • an aspiring raider Says:

      Thanks for the great article! You made me want to share some of my feelings towards raiding…

      I started LOTRO (my first MMO) about half a year ago and finally, finally caught up with the Rohan content last week. Despite of being totally inexperienced, I enjoy playing the group instances (mostly joined through GLFF, and often at a higher level than the instances due to the fast leveling pace in this game.)
      I hope to become part of a regular raiding group, but I can not do that at the price of leaving my current kin! My kinmates, most of them are veteran players, have helped me a great deal. There are always a few familiar names in kinchat that make me feel at home whenever I log on. I wonder why (good) raiding has to be confined within a kinship, and why there is no easy way to find regular groups outside of kinship. Has anyone else had this feeling before? or is it just my own nonsense? If so, how do I come out of this awkward mindset?

      Reply

  12. Pegasus Says:

    Great article, Vraeden! Regarding manual rolls for loot – I rarely raid, so I’m very inexperienced about what to do, what not to do, etc. and I get very nervous, lol :-). So when I did join a raid recently, I was very relieved that the rolls were done one at a time, manually, because I did not have to worry about accidentally ending up with something valuable that should have gone to someone else. Also in that particular raid, it took a few tries before we finally were victorious, and it was amazing how the players were so gracious and patient about it. Just kept trying it again until we finally did it – and as you mentioned, it’s a great experience being in a team that works together like that.

    Reply

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