Play Diary: Skirmish soldier boot camp (#LOTRO )

So a day after the fact, I was finally able to sit down with LOTRO’s Update 6 and start wiggling my way through the changes and additions.  A lot of this will go into my weekly column for Massively, so I’m going to just share with you today one aspect of my adventures.

Now with Update 6 came the expansion of the skirmish soldier system, in which the game will let you take your soldier (read: companion/minion/hero-type assistant) out of its former confines of skirmishes and assist you in the world.  It sounds pretty cool, but this is Turbine we’re talking about, so it’s also needlessly complex as well.  You not only have to pony up the cost (either in real-world money or through skirmish currency) to buy a one-hour token, but as I discovered, it’s kind of useless if your skirmish soldier isn’t trained up all the way.

I have no idea what most people in LOTRO do with skirmishes.  Some dedicated souls probably skirmish quite a bit, but I’m going to assume a lot of people are like me: We tried it at first, occasionally pop into one, and did them for the epic storyline.  It’s a side system that usually takes a backseat to questing, is what I’m saying.  And as such, there’s a good chance that (like me) players may not have been gathering up enough skirmish marks to train their soldiers up to level.

See, this is where Turbine’s “needlessly complex” attitude comes into play.  Yes, it’s cool that we can customize soldiers and make them fit our needs and play style, but the method in which it’s done is very non-intuitive at the start and is messy all around.  Instead of being an elegant talent tree system, you have to buy skills (with skirmish marks) from one vendor, personal traits (such as looks and race) from another vendor, then slot them on a third vendor.  There are four sections that all beg for your attention, and they are all very, very hungry for skirmish marks.

Back to my adventures!  So I logged in with the intent of bringing up my soldier to par, and after looking at her, I realized she needed a lot of work — which meant a lot of skirmishing.  And since I was using the skirmish marks to bring her up to level 66 (where my Captain is), I couldn’t be wasting them on the landscape soldier tokens to take her out into the world.  It felt like a little bit of a Catch-22 circle, in a way.

I guess that when she’s at level across the board, I’m going to need to remain vigilant and keep leveling her up every time I do.  Will it be worth it for the extra assistance here and there?  Probably not, but I’m always interested in gaining an edge when I can get it.

10 thoughts on “Play Diary: Skirmish soldier boot camp (#LOTRO )

  1. One nice thing that also came with the update is that marks are shared across characters on the same server. It’s much easier to earn marks at higher levels, so a single level-capped skirmisher can help a whole bunch of lower-level characters get started.

    But I’ve never been able to keep my skirmish soldiers up to my level (landscape questing is so much more engaging!), much less have points left over for skirmish camp shopping. I don’t foresee that changing.

  2. I do skirmishes every so often just to have a collection of marks so I can buy the occasional equipment upgrade when I need it. See, something else you can use marks for.

    I also tend to do the same skirmish (Trouble in Tuckborough or something like that) as it is simple and I have a theory that I am more likely to finish off some of the boss killing deeds, which award piles of marks, if I focus on a single skirmish. Plus I don’t really like most of the other skirmishes, but I want to have some marks around just in case.

  3. My max character is only level 36, and I have been skirmishing all along the way. I have been able to keep my soldier up to date with skills and I can tell you that, at least at level 36, being able to pull him out while questing makes some of the content unbelievably easy. Unless the mob is elite or purple, I can pretty much run in and mow everything down without too much worry on my burgler. If my XP over the past month were seen on a bar chart, it would have spiked over the past couple of days. It does not hurt that I have been playing with companions in SWTOR for three months so it felt very natural.

  4. Even on my main I think my Skirmish Soldier is only maybe around level 40. As for my fleet of alts, most of them haven’t skirmished at all. If I roll new alts in the future it will be a neat feature for them, since doing a skirmish or two per level won’t be all that odious. However, I can’t going back to level skirmish soldiers on most of my characters.

  5. I never bought into the Skirmish system, I tried a few but it felt like a few more layers of grind on a game that *really* doesn’t need anymore! Also the outside world is a joy to explore so why encourage players to spend even more time in instances?

  6. I actually like the skirmish system, though the soldier development is, as stated, needlessly complex. With as many characters as I have (24 on Brandywine alone, spread across two accounts), I’ve gotten a bit tired of the questing content (and I =loathe= LOTRO’s group instance content), so having an alternate means of leveling/development helps stave off utter burnout. It really doesn’t take that much grinding to get soldiers up to par, as long as you do it while leveling. If you wait until level cap, it can certainly feel like a grind.

    On a related note, now that Skirmish Marks are Bound To Account, it’s much easier to just do skirmishes on the characters you enjoy (Guardian and Captain for me) and then use their extra Marks to build up soldiers for my alts. Saves me having to suffer through skirmishes on my Hunters….

  7. Having a great time with my Wizard’s new tank mercenary in EQ2. Turbine can shove their rent with real money crap.

  8. If you want the better equipment and other loot, how can you not buy into the skirmish system of lotro?

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