“Love is in the Air” Event and Sale

Combat Arms is currently hosting a Valentine’s Day themed event and sale–Love is in the Air. This event focuses on gift giving with every gift purchase of MYST-Kilo cases, GP-Hazard cases, or Weapon Renewal Kits giving a free copy of the gift to the giver as well. Also, there will be prizes for the players who give the most gifts:

  • 20 accounts with the highest NX Gifting totals will receive a Permanent Cpt. Souza!
  • Ten accounts that gift an NX item during this time period will be chosen at random to receive a 90 day Cpt. Souza.
  • 100 accounts that gift an NX item during this time period will receive a 30 day Cpt. Souza.

During this time there is also a 20% off sale on all permanent NX weapons, with several being discounted 33%. The sale weapons are as follows:

  • FR F2 (33% off!)
  • M416 CQB
  • G36E Valkyrie
  • L85A1 MOD
  • F2000 Tactical
  • M21E
  • MG36
  • Desert Eagle SE
  • M4 Super 90
  • DSR-1 Subsonic (33% off!)
  • L96A1 Arctic Wolf
  • M107CQ SE
  • M-200 Ghillie
  • TPG-1 Pro
  • MP7 MOD

Sally Forth in LOTRO – Episode 11


This episode is a little different in that I primarily just cover the news and my takes on the Echoes of the Dead update.  I should be back on a normal schedule and will get back to my normal news and topic format.  Feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions for a topic.

Also, during this episode I do reference my interview with Aaron “Rowan” Campbell, so if you haven’t listened to that I suggest you take a listen as I do have a bit of a different take from others.


Echoes of the Dead Update:

New LOTRO Legendary Relic Options

With the Echoes of the Dead update, Turbine revamped all the Legendary Item Relics and provided a whole host of new options.  I’ve been going through trying to figure out which are best for my classes as thought I’d share my thoughts on it.  In this, I’m making one key assumption that you’re not considering any of the old relics.  Now I will admit, I did save some of my old tier 9s but for the sake of the post I’ll ignore those.

First up, all the options available (I’m just going to show the Tier 6 and Extraordinary ones):

  • Tier 6
    • Gold Setting of Clear Thought
      • +22 Will, +650 Offense Ratings
    • Gold Setting of the Abyssal Depths
      • +22 Might, +650 Offense Ratings
    • Gold Setting of Precision
      • +230 Morale, +650 Offense Ratings
    • Gold Setting of Grace
      • +210 Power, +780 Outgoing Healing
    • Adamant Gem of the Crags
      • +22 Vitality, +520 Crit Ratings
    • Adamant Gem of the Precise Eye
      • +22 Agility, +520 Crit Ratings
    • Adamant Gem of Lore
      • +22 Fate, +520 Crit Ratings
    • Subtle Rune of the Fortress
      • +1040 Incoming Healing, +520 Block
    • Subtle Rune of Readiness
      • +114 ICMR, +520 Parry
    • Subtle Rune of the Sun
      • +114 ICPR, +520 Evade
  • Extraordinary
    • Extraordinary Setting of Stability
      • -5% Item Wear, +260 BPE, +1300 Incoming Healing
    • Extraordinary Setting of Beginnings
      • +650 Melee Defense, +114 ICPR, +22 Vitality
    • Extraordinary Setting of Endings
      • +7.5% Dev. Mag., +520 All Crits, +114 ICMR
    • Extraordinary Gem of Faith
      • +10% Partial Parry/Block Mitigation, +520 Block, +22 Might
    • Extraordinary Gem of Charity
      • +640 Tactical Defense, +780 Outgoing Healing, +210 Power
    • Extraordinary Gem of Hope
      • +260 Crit Defense, +230 Morale, +210 Power
    • Extraordinary Rune of Courage
      • +10% Partial Evade/Parry Mitigation, +22 Agi, +520 Parry
    • Extraordinary Rune of Power
      • +650 Ranged Defense, +520 Offensive Ratings, +22 Fate
    • Extraordinary Rune of Wisdom
      • -2.5% Attack Duration, +520 Evade, +22 Will

The Tier 6s are obtained just like the rest of the relics, but the Extraordinary ones are obtained through the new Melding system by combining specific Tier 6s and shards to make a new relic.  It is a bit overwhelming at first, but play around with it a bit and it makes more sense – also to note when melding, you are given a choice of which relics to use so you don’t have to worry about it the game picking the wrong one (just yourself picking the wrong one).

One thing I really like is the flexibility in that things like ICPR and incoming healing are available in multiple slots, and there are many other buffs that were previously very rare like partial mitigations.

To talk about these, I’m going to break up in terms of the main classes I play and best understand.

Warden (Tank)

Setting – Extraordinary Setting of Stability and/or Beginnings seems pretty clear cut here and I will most likely use one of each.

Gem – Extraordinary Gem of Hope and/or Faith.  I’m a big fan of the Hope gem on my Warden as crits are pretty rough for them and since there’s no cap on partials Faith is also very nice.

Rune – This one’s a bit trickier as there are a number of situational ones.  Fortress is nice if you’re not capped on either of those stats, Sun is nice for the ICPR, and Courage is quite nice for the Partials and parry boost as it is the rarest of mitigation bonuses.


Setting – I’m all over the place on this one as it mainly depends on how you play.  I’m going for more of a hybrid Captain and not necessarily focused purely on healing so I may not be the best guide for everyone.  Pretty much all the Tier 6s are nice depending on what you’re trying to build up or lacking.  I would probably lean more towards the Beginnings or Ending Extraordinary Settings as Captains shouldn’t worry about block and for me incoming healing and item wear are secondary worries.

Gem – I like all the Tier 6 Gems as criticals for Captains are great for healing and damage (defeat responses).  Charity to me seems like a great Healing Captain Gem with Hope being nice for a more well-rounded build.

Rune – Sun and Readiness are nice from the Tier 6s as regeneration and mitigations are always nice.  For me, the Wisdom rune is intriguing to get more damage output but Courage is probably better for a defensive build.

Minstrel (Tactical Classes)

Setting – this will really vary if you’re playing a DPS or healing spec.  For healing I think Grace is the clear cut best but many are nice if you’re running more of a DPS build.  This will be a bit tricky for me and I’m probably going to put the appropriate setting on the healing/dps items as appropriate.  Running a War-speech minnie, Beginnings is quite appealing as are all the crit/offensive boosting ones.

Gem – Charity is probably the best healing Gem with the others being situationally viable for DPS specs.

Rune – Sun and Power are probably the best options regardless of the spec.

DPS Classes (Hunter/Champion) (I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a bit here)

Setting – Precision or Endings are probably the best for damage, but others might be helpful if you worry about being a bit less squishy.

Gem – Any of the Tier 6s for pure offense or Hope to help mitigate the nasty one-shot attacks.

Rune – Sun for the ICPR (if an issue), Courage for Defensive buffs, Power for damage, and Wisdom for attack speed.

Based on all these options, yes there may be a bit of a step back from previous tier 9 relics but even with those I’m still slotting the new ones in place of the old ones.

Sally Forth in LOTRO – Episode 10


This was a little bit later then I wanted, but here is Episode 10 focusing on many of the updates coming with Echoes of the Dead.


Topic – UI Customization


UI Customization Video

[youtube 0H2UCGQTKXQ]


My Week in LOTRO Video

[youtube TZJLXCiDPTU]


LOTRO Monster Play Developer Diary

Jared Pruett joins us for a diary on the new changes coming with the Echoes of the Dead Update to the Monster Play (PvMP) system.

Two big new changes coming on the side of the free players with a new armor set comparable to the new instance rewards and insignias which are new runics.  The idea is to create rewards that are attractive to freeps and give them the incentive to come out and join in the combat.  Of note, all these effects stack such that the armor sets, insignias, and any trait bonuses all can combine for maximum utility.  For each class, obtaining 2 items in the armor set is a 10% bonus to the renown obtaining from kills in the Ettenmoors.  The other bonuses are as follows:

  • Burglar
    • 4 piece – +2 Stealth, 30% chance Subtle Stab applies a –50% incoming healing debuff for 10 seconds
    • 6 piece – Hide in Plain Site (HiPS) now removes all poison, disease, fear, and wound effects
    • Insignia – 10% chance Subtle Stab applies a –50% incoming healing debuff for 10 seconds
  • Captain
    • 4 piece – +10% Make Haste Duration
    • 6 piece – 30% chance Battle Shout applies a 10 second fear
    • Insignia – 10% chance Battle Shout applies a 10 second fear
  • Champion
    • 4 piece – -25% True Heroics cooldown
    • 6 piece – 30% chance Brutal Strikes removes fervour cost of next Ferocious Strikes
    • Insignia – 10% chance Brutal Strikes removes fervour cost of next Ferocious Strikes
  • Guardian
    • 4 piece – -10% Stagger Movement Speed debuff
    • 6 piece – 40% chance To the King initiates a parry response
    • Insignia – 15% chance To the King initiates a parry response
  • Hunter
    • 4 piece – +3 Stealth Detection
    • 6 piece – 30% chance Low Cut removes all slows and roots
    • Insignia – 15% chance Low Cut removes all slows and roots
  • Lore-Master
    • 4 piece – 20% chance Lightning Storm applies a 10 second Daze
    • 6 piece – upon pet critical hit, Lore-Master receives 10 second window to cast one skill with zero induction
    • Insignia – 15% chance Lightning Storm applies a 10 second Daze
  • Minstrel
    • 4 piece – Song of Soothing applies a 15% incoming healing debuff to all targets in a 10 meter radius
    • 6 piece – Still as Death removes all poison, disease, fear, and wound effects with a bonus to in-combat morale and power regenerations
    • Insignia – Song of Soothing applies a 10% incoming healing debuff to all targets in a 10 meter radius
  • Rune-Keeper
    • 4 piece – +3 Essence of Winter maximum targets
    • 6 piece – 20% chance Ceaseless Argument applies a 20% movement speed debuff for 10 seconds
    • Insignia – 10% chance Ceaseless Argument applies a 20% movement speed debuff for 10 seconds
  • Warden
    • 4 piece – +10 seconds to Careful Step Duration
    • 6 piece – 50% chance Boar’s Rush applies a 5 second daze
    • Insignia – 25% chance Boar’s Rush applies a 5 second daze

In addition to the changes on the freep side, creeps did get some love in this diary as well.  These are in 4 main areas:

  • New introduction Tutorial
  • Gramsfoot Revisions
  • Class updates across the board to make creeps more survivable starting at rank zero
  • Individual boost to all the creep classes.

Pretty nice changes across the board for the system, but I’ve only played freep side so make sure to check out entire diary and chime in on the discussion thread, if there are specific things you’re looking for.

LOTRO Echoes of the Dead New Armor Stats

With the new patch to Bullroarer, I’ve updated my spreadsheets for the new sets available.  I’m not confident these will be the final stats, but something to take a look at for those of you who are interested.

I’m still working on a way to compare the individual pieces and do better set comparisons (i.e. is it better to wear 2 Annuminas, 2 Helegrod, and 2 Tier 2 raid set pieces) so for now I’m just going to post the spreadsheet as is and tweak later.  Once I have it all pulled together, I will put it on the proper page and include all the new screenshots once they’re official too.

As with the other sets, I just have the Captain, Champion, Minstrel, and Warden but have included the 2 new raid sets and the new PvP set.

[iframe https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AnW8NeYfZoKpdHV4c3I1SW1ST0VPOUFEajlIS3BDSWc&hl=en&output=html]

It is hard to see everything in the small frame, so this link to the google doc might work better.

Latest End-game Armor Spreadsheets

So I finally got around to updating these spreadsheets with all the changes in the F2P launch.  The other big addition is love for the Champions such that this spreadsheet covers Wardens, Captains, and Minstrels as well.  Sadly I can’t take screen shots of the other radiance sets for Champions as I’m still not quite high enough, but check out Darzil’s site for some snaps and I do have the new Helegrod set:


The sets included are:

  • Moria 6-piece Radiance set
  • DN 6-piece Radiance set
  • BG 6-piece Radiance set
  • 2 3-piece Radiance Sets
  • Annuminas 6-piece Radiance set
  • Helegrod 6-piece Radiance set
  • Lorien Crafted Set
  • The 2 good Mirkwood Crafted Sets

For all these sets, I have comparisons of the entire sets (including set bonuses) and individual piece comparisons.  I also have a “Item Rater” sheet that allows you to plug in your own values for the stats and see which pieces are the best for you.  The excel one is color coded, while sadly the Google one just has the equations.

Excel Version

Google Docs Version

Big thanks to Hakon for his spreadsheet on the Champions as I wouldn’t have been able to grab that data without him.  I’ve also created a separate page to keep all this information straight.

Playing Second Fiddle

You may have noticed this post over on LOTRO Reporter, so this is purely a re-post of that information.

I’ve primarily focused on how to not only solo effectively as a Warden but tank and hold agro as well.  However, a recent post on the Guardian forums got me thinking that I should put down some thoughts on off-tanking as a Warden.  I will admit that I’m not the greatest off-tank on my Warden as I do tend to just end up tanking, mainly due to my arrogance when on my Warden :).  However, in some cases it may make sense to off-tank so here are some ideas for you.

You might be wondering why if I’ve written and boasted how good Wardens are as tanks, why would I now advocate taking a back seat?  My thoughts here primarily revolve around group makeup and open communication, although fight mechanics also can have an impact.  For group makeup, I’ve run in numerous groups with another tank (either another Warden, or a Guardian) and it really makes it easier for everyone if there’s a designated main tank.  So in that case I’ll defer if I know the tank or if they speak up that they want to main tank for whatever reason.  This is a really good time to learn how to tank as there’s not the same pressure since you have a true tank as a backup.  As for fight mechanics for bosses that hit real hard sometimes it can be smoother for a Guardian to tank it since they have the flat 10% higher mitigations.  Or there may be a need to wrangle up a series of adds and having a Warden do that works out better – I’m thinking the Igash fight in the Grand stairs where the Warden can grab the archers.

Now that I’ve walked through the reasons why you might want to off-tank, lets jump into the specifics.  The responsibility of the off-tank is to grab any other mobs that the tank doesn’t have.  Primarily I look at the off-tank as the protector of the squishies whether those are Minstrels, RKs, or just a Hunter who’s a bit overzealous.  Ideally the way it works is that if a mobs peals off to go after the healer you’d target that mob and taunt it such that it comes after you and either hold it till it dies or until the main tank can pull it back.  The easiest way to do this is by using the “target of target” option in the Combat Options such that the offending mob is highlighted and then target that mob.  Skill target forwarding helps too but it might not always get you the right target as it will give you who the squishie is targeted not who’s targeting the squishy.  Off-tanking is a little easier on Captains and Champions as they have targeted forced taunts but a Warden can fill this role just as well and offers a slightly different way of doing it.

Your best friend for off-tanking is the fist-spear mastery as you can instantly que up a Precise Blow and get it off almost instantly.  You might also to want to use the recovery skills if need be, but with the recent changes you’re probably just as well off hitting whatever’s in your gambit bar and doing it that way as the recovery skills just aren’t as fast as they used to be.  I wouldn’t suggest Defiant Challenge since it is an AoE forced taunt and speaking from personal experience it does confuse (and annoy) the tank when mobs are force taunted off them.  I would only use that as a last ditch skill if either the squishy’s getting pounded or if you just can’t pull it off.  Usually a single Precise blow will get the mobs attention, but if not spamming it will most likely be the quickest way to pull it.

The other important gambits to use are our threat transfers like Conviction and Dance of War, but you do need to be cautious such that you don’t over-steal threat :)  This is where Wardens function a bit differently as an off-tank and when done well can really make for smooth runs.  The reason for using the transfers is such that you can keep yourself higher on the threat table for all nearby mobs but also lower everyone elses threat level.  Conviction also provides some nice healing which not only is additional threat but it lessens the load on the healers a bit, which again lowers their threat.  So the threat transfers are a sort off preventative off-tank strategy which really should help eliminate the need to grab a stray mob.

Outside of all that, the only other thing I have to say about off-tanking is that you don’t want to get into a threat competition with the main tank, it may help your ego (I’ll admit, I’ve done this on a few occasions) but it really doesn’t help your group.  So outside of the skills I’ve mentioned, try to stay away from taunts and if you are building a gambit with taunts in it try to use builders as much as possible since they don’t have a threat component.  But probably the most important thing is to communicate with your group about the roles everyone is expected to fill.

My plan for my F2P Turbine Points

So I posted this question a couple days ago (the poll is still open) but I figured I’d share my plan.  I’m expecting to have at least 5000 Turbine points just counting the Loyalty rewards, but I know I will also get more for the various new deeds that are implemented for Reputation as my 3 mains each have a quite a few factions at kindred rank.  Initially I plan to focus on Captain, Minstrel, and Warden but am sure that my Champ (more about her later) will get some attention too.

I know that the Wardrobe will be a big help to offload some of my storage issues but currently I’m using the Shared Storage as an extension of a couple characters vaults so I will have to end up getting some more Vault space.  I really want to get to a point where I can use shared storage as a replacement for mailing items between toons, but currently it is overflow :(

On my Captain and Warden I’ll be finishing off Zeal to Rank 10 which is a bit more painful on my Captain but certainly worth it.  They’ll also both be getting a bank space update as their banks are packed and I need the space for crafting.

My Captain and Minstrel are also pretty low on a couple Virtues but mainly Empathy and Innocence so a big chunk of my points will go to max those out.  I will probably look and make sure there aren’t any low hanging traits there that I can grind in game, but Innocence is not one of my favorites to grind out.

The virtues that I’m focusing on I’m doing for two main reasons.  First off, melee defense and armor value are universally important and make a pretty substantial and measurable difference to your characters’ survival.  The second is that in all honesty, they’re a tad painful to grind out as those are mostly quest deeds and even worse they’re the top end of the tiered reward system for quests so I’d have to do 40 some odd quests in a zone to get the virtue.

Hopefully after all that I’ll then have enough leftover points to get at least the riding skill on my Champ such that I can avoid that riding quest ;)  And I might buy a better horse as I’m a bit poor from trying to power through Scholar and Weaponsmith.

After all that, my priorities for my 500 point allowance and whatever else I earn are:

  • More Shared Storage
  • Stat Tomes
  • Larger Wardrobe – I might not need this as I know I have similar items many times across my toons
  • Virtues for my Champ
  • Cosmetic Items
  • Housing Items

    But once I go through and clean up all my vaults and such to take advantage of the Wardrobe I might find that all I really need (or want might be a better word) to get are the stat tomes.

    So far though, the results of the poll show that I”m quite in the minority in my thought process :)  But, if you’re thinking like me, go vote and help me prove to myself that I’m not crazy.