That’s what my son says whenever he sees me galloping near anything as I ride through the countryside around Bree. He’s a blood-thirsty little bugger and no mistake, but his future predilection towards a career in serial killing is not what this post is about. No, rather I have gathered you all here today to discuss the complex art of combat in LOTRO and boy is it complex!
Complex, you say with a look that clearly indicates you consider the old Burro to be one Goblin short of an Orc. Yes I reply with the sort of stern look that fools no one, complex. Now shush up and let me get on with it.
Complex but not complicated. It’s how I’d describe most of what I’ve found in LOTRO so far, but especially the combat. At its heart it’s a very simple system in which you click on a baddie, click on an icon depicting an attack type, the computer works out who has the best chance of hitting, animations are played to represent the action, damage is handed out to the warring parties before the whole sheebang starts again and continues in that vein until someone wins, hopefully you.
Of course this bring a MMO you’d imagine there would have to be more to it than just that and you’d be right. Well done. Here’s a cigar. Save it ’til later as we have a lot to get through.
Now, before we begin and by way of a qualification, I should point out that I can only tell you about combat for a Champion as that’s the only role I’ve played so far – magic users, archers and thieves will, I imagine, have very different experiences in a ding dong and if I ever get around to playing one I’ll let you know all about those differences in blistering 3D surround sound, I promise.
For a start you never, never EVER run headlong into a scrap – that’s a sure-fire way of increasing your chances of getting a pasting, take it from me. No, take your time to scout the location – if you can wait until the target moves away from any of his mates then do so. Similarly try and take out the archers first as they really hurt if you are bogged down with a grunt or two.
The next step is consider any benefits you have (buffs as they are known in game). If you have a potion that increases your health regeneration in combat, or a scroll that increases you chance of hitting a target or doing critical damage then now might be the time to take them. Also other players can cast spells or use their various buffs on you too (the Captain’s rallying call boosts his teams morale score, for example). All these things have a limited period of effectiveness (1 min to 1 hour or more) after which they must cool down for a certain time before they can be used again – and as they often use valuable energy (energy you must generate in various time consuming ways) as well as cost you cold hard cash it should be obvious that you don’t want to go clicking on each and every one of them every 30 seconds in a blind panic. Each fight must be carefully weighed up and various important choices made.
Once those choices have been made it’s clobbering time, to borrow a phrase. Only it’s not that simple is it? No, it’s not. You click on an icon that represents a particular move – these are gathered via training in the game with a master and cover a whole heap of moves such as a plain simple hit the guy in front of you hard, through ones that see you doing several blows in one move, to ones that have an effect on more than bad guy at once in the area around you. Still others do less damage but add an increased chance to avoiding the next blow from your enemy. And so on and so on – the list is probably pretty near endless, or at least very long, whichever comes first. Or last. The key outcome is that you should arrange these icons to allow you to click on them and activate your moves in as near an unbroken sequence of high speed, high damage hits as possible. If you get it right then as you are performing one move, another has been selected and a third is cooling down ready to be used with a fourth waiting in the wings, all of which should render you a whirling Dervish of slicey, smashy death. Get it wrong and your enemy will take any and every pause you offer as a chance to twat you squarely in the skull and bollocks. Especially the bollocks. Hell, I know I would.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s not too difficult – the hard bit isn’t the clicking on icons but rather clicking on the right icons in the right order at the right time and with the right preparation and assistance working in the background. Even then you can still get your arse handed to you in a helmet every now and again and find you have to change up to stay ahead. Keep training, keep trying out new move combos, keep thinking two or three sword slices ahead. Do all that, and more, and you too could end up hacking seven shades of shit out of an Orc like I did here 🙂
EDIT: I’ve found this really great guide to laying out your screen & icons to help you in battle – a great blog too, have a read 🙂
DOUBLE EDIT: I also found this great piece on a Champion’s mindset over on A Casual Stroll to Mordor and it help make a lot of sense of my game play – “With a Champion there is no defence, only more offence” is exactly how I play him. Just keep hitting the bad guys faster & harder than they hit you.