#LOTRO: The Rise of the Rune Keeper

In between trying to get work up-to-date before I leave for the arrival of orcling number two and battling through a family-wide cold of Biblical Proportions to get the house ready for said orcling number two, I’ve not had much time to game. Yet ‘not much time’ is not ‘no time’ (that comes next week with the arrival of orcling two) and I *have* managed a few exciting sessions 😀

Ranhold – Man, Champion, Historian, Supreme Weaponsmith & Supreme Scholar. Level 51
Still enjoying an extended study break in Rivendell, the old battler has put aside thoughts of war and is deep into matters of lore instead. He still finds time to craft potions, dyes and items for the rest of the team but in truth his thoughts are more turned to learning and knowledge than fighting and conflict, for now at least…

Keltorn – Man of Bree, Warden, Explorer. Level 46
With the help of a lottery win, all of his marks and medallions and the incredibly kind assistance of my kinmate Saelolyn, Keltorn finally got all his class items together and gained all of his masteries. And this is where the fun wagon of playing this guy solidly from level 40 in early December until now lost all its wheels and came to a crashing halt.

By this point, after the weeks of constant combat with much higher level mobs in Forocel & Erigion, I had got his combat gamit patterns down pat. Ambush, critical strike, 1231, 2121, 1231, 1212, 2323, 2121, 1313, 3123, 1231, etc, etc, etc. Sure sometimes I’d lob a few random javelins in there, or have to change up my heals to attack patterns and ratio if things were looking hairy. Hell sometimes I’d explore the other gambits just for fun, putting evade buffs with tiered heals to see how long I could take a walloping before I had to start the attack rotations again. I wouldn’t say I was an expert, but when I was on my game I was pretty damn good and won many fights I really shouldn’t have taken on.

And then I got the masteries. Masteries are skills that combine two of the three gamits of Spear (1), Shield (2) and Fist (3) into single moves of, for example, Spear & Shield (1-2) or Fist and Spear (3-1). Using one of these instead of the two individual key presses speeds up the building of a combat move and allows more than one use of that combat move when cooldowns might rule such an act out. All of this is fine in theory, but in practice your easy to use 1-2-3 keyboard layout and months of ‘finger memory’ all fight against these like a tiger in a sack and I found my wonderful warden overnight stopped being a playful killing machine and became a bumbling country bumpkin barely able to twunt a neekerbreeker, let alone envicerate an orc or skewer a charging warg.

I fretted and stressed. I railed and cursed. I slapped my PC and walked away from the game. In the end I calmed down and googled. As with many things LOTRO, A Casual Stroll to Mordor came to my rescue. Not only did I find out I was not alone & that Merrick was having similar issues, but they have an excellent series of posts about being a warden. The post about masteries really helped me understand how these things worked (and why!) as well as suggesting a keyboard layout to better manage them, and so I dived in and changed all of my keymapping in order to help me master the masteries. Except it didn’t. It was at this stage I lost it. My fingers simply could not navigate all these new keys accurately enough or fast enough to be of any use and I gave up again.

I sank in to the slough of dispond. My beloved Warden had become unplayable. Woe was me.

In various stages of depression, I tried various different keyboard and skill layouts but nothing seemed to work, they all failed to register in my memory and my fingers crashed across them like a drunken spider. And then one night as I lay in bed it came to me. The answer was there in front of me, my fingers involuntarily dancing across an invisible keyboard as I mapped it out in my mind. It was simple. It was beautiful. What’s more, it would work! Stretch the three gambits and all the masteries across the 1 to 0 keys and my fingers would find the way! They would  dance across the keys, admittedly not in the precise tango they had been used to performing with the simple 1-2-3 patterens of before, but at least it wouldn’t be a desperate stomp across a strange block of keys I couldn’t remember no matter how much I tried. As soon as I tried it, It felt right, it felt like a first kiss, tentative but good. I was back on track!

Unfortunately, by this point, I had grown bored of warden combat and needed something new to avoid burn out. I’m a fickle bugger. Poor Keltorn!

Arranborn – Elf, Rune Keeper, Explorer, Level 32
And this is where Arranborn came in. Over this weekend I decided I wanted to dust off my new RK and get him back out and about and I bloody well loved it! I got him from 28 to 32 in a few short (but intense) skirmishes and have kitted him out in critted armour and bling ready for many more trips through the skirmish finder. Yet out osf all this my greatest fun with him has been finding out how much I enjoy healing a group! I didn’t think I would and the first time I was asked to I did a terrible job of managing my agg by constantly joining in the fight with DpS. I was, of course, killed but was lucky enough to be running with a paitent soul who nicely told me I needed to “watch your agg”. I popped into another skirmish and did just that, hanging back, not spamming heals for the sake of clicking something, just watching the ebb & flow of the fight and scanning the green bars for dips I could correct… in the end I found I enjoyed this different kind of play as much as the chaos and carnage of straight up melee 😀

Since then I’ve been desperate to try more and more healing roles and I’m really keen to try and heal a major raid as it sounds like a real challenge.

Gorfrik – Dwarf, Hunter, Armourer, Artisan Metalsmith & Artisan Tailor. Level 27
The itch to play Gorfrik has gone away again as Arranborn is giving me all I need. He’s been making armour for Saelolyn’s characters as a show of thanks for her help in getting Keltorn his last class item.

Nimlarn – Elf, Minstrel, Woodsman & Artisan Woodworker. Level 22
All that was once beautiful fades and alls to corruption. I weep. I weep. Frig me, save us from the elves!

Hocko – Hobbit, Burglar, Tinkerer & Master Jeweller. Level 20
Hocko is keeping a low profile as the affair with the bar-keep’s wife came to light recently and he has yet another price on his head.

Rolcko – Hobbit, Guardian, Yeoman, Supreme Farmer & Master Cook. Level 32
Cooking and auctioning. What a guy!

Salazar is now in the game and exploring Bree-Land and the Shire – our paths have yet to cross, but we have exchanged letters and maybe one day we’ll find ourselves holding the line side-by-side. Outside of Middle-Earth work is insane, the house is a tumble of new furniture and I’m about to welcome orcling number two into the family. I picked a hell of a week to stop drinking draino…

#LOTRO: The Fires of Archet…

If I hadn’t left Bree that day to visit old Roper the trainer in Combe, I would never have ended up in Archet as it burnt.

Some might have cursed their bad luck at this, resentful that their poor choice of time or direction should have led to their capture and rough treatment by Blackwold thugs. They might have raised their fist to the sky and railed at the fates for assailing them; for conspiring against them, turning on them and betraying them.

Not I.

If I had chosen another time to visit, or postponed my training altogether, content instead to gather crops in the fields and make merry in the Pony like so many of my brothers and cousins and friends, then I would never have discovered the full extent of the terrible danger my beloved hometown of Bree faced. No, I was glad then and am glad now that I found myself in the stinking goal of the Blackwolds, for without them, and the assistance of the Ranger who freed me, I would never had had the opportunity to play my part in not only the defence of Archet, but of Bree and all the lands to the east.

So I thank the Blackwold scum for taking me alive that night or I would not have found myself fighting by the side of Strider, Atli, Jon Brackenbrook & his father, not to mention Evenwyn the brave warrior who became my blade-mate that night, as the town burnt around us. And although the Captain of the town and many others fell in the battle, we saved the town and its people and finally had our complacent eyes opened to the evils that were waiting unseen in the shadows, ready to pounce and devour us all at a moment’s notice.

And now I am irrevocably locked onto a path, a javelin streaking towards the heart of my foe, and this journal shall serve as record of my journey and testament to not only my achievements, but those of my sword-bothers who share my path. My friends and I may be few, but we are resolute and determined, our steel tempered by the fires of Archet until even our passing will wound our enemy.

I am Keltorn, son of Willdayne, Warden of Bree and today I train in Combe for tomorrow I go to seek out and crush the Blackwold threat once and for all.

Keltorn 001

#LOTRO: A Little More on Wardens…

Sorry about that but it had to be said 🙂 Now for some more measured words on my very limited experiences of playing a Warden.

1) I am in love, did I mention this? Partly it’s the good, old-fashioned manly love I have for the Spartans (only made even deeper by the visuals of 300) and partly it’s because of the noble nature of the the class’ portrayal in LOTRO (based, as it is, on Haldir) but there is also a large dollop of lust over the look of the class too – I love the cut-out shields and the whole javelin and spear attacks are just gorgeous! Watch these two LOTRO videos here and here to see what I mean 🙂

2) I’ve always loved my Champion and my Guardian has been a delight and although I’ve really enjoyed my Hunter, my Burglar and my Minstrel, I’ve come to realise that what I like more than anything is running up to monsters and beating the living tar out of them toe to claw, nose to snout and my Warden is another class that lets me do this with (nearly) all the style of my Champ mixed with some of the survivability of my Guardian. What a mix…

3) The Gambit combat system is a nice touch – you complete one of three attacks (spear stab, shield block/whack or big old bellowing scream) follow it up by another and they unlock a more powerful attack (so two jabs give you a huge jab, two shield block give you a huge whack, etc) that is both effective and fun to watch. Ah but three attaks in combos of two do not result in all that many improved attacks, do they? No they do not Mr Burro. Well fear not for you can begin to learn more attacks and more combinations so the powerful gambit pool grows as you progress which give you some nice moves including self-heals and, my favourite, a fekking great kick attack to the balls (or face if you are a wolf/pig/hobbit).

So there you have it – another studdly HBA is let loose in Middle Earth to right wrongs, help the helpless and kick the daylights out of Blackwold scum and grubby little goblins until his knee aches. Gawd Bless the Warden!

p.s. Take a gander at these two videos, one showing the Warden in combat at level 13 in Chetwood and one with a Warden at level 65 taking on a huge dragon. It’s like the Champ and the Guardian had a wee bouncing baby 🙂

#LOTRO: Early Thoughts on the Warden Class

I. Am. In. Love.