LOTRO: Back to Mordor’s Future

Hello Minas Morgul! It’s been a couple of years since I ran into the volcanic wall that was the Mordor expansion and felt my joy drain away to grumpy resolve. LOTRO got a lot better after Mordor, giving us Northern Mirkwood, Dale-lands, some non-descript hill zones, and most recently, the gorgeous Vale of Anduin. We’ve had a good run in pretty places, but now I guess it’s time to go back into the land where evil never sleeps.

And even though I’m lukewarm on Mordor and wishing that SSG had more interesting features and surprises to throw our way for this expansion, I guess I should be happy that we’re getting a new LOTRO expansion, period, in 2019. Plus, if the team only had the resources to concentrate on something, I’m glad it’s world building and story. That’s what LOTRO excels in these days, anyway.

Hey, we got a nice upgrade for the mostly-ignored Hobbit Presents panel! I’ve heard several people comment positively on this, and I agree with them. It’s a small thing, but the new panel looks way better. Plus, now we get a better array of presents, including what seems like daily boosts to our virtue XP. That’s welcome.

Right away, I could tell that this was an odd expansion. For starters, there are only two zones with it, and the first one is a reworked slice of Mordor that takes place in the distant past. So, time travel for a good long while in a zone. That’s definitely different. And it’s actually welcome, since why not go back to the Second Age? See Mordor as something other than a wasteland? I mean, it’s not pretty, but at least there’s a sky and (bare) trees and scrub grass.

I think that the story hook here, that the team has been building up to for two years now, is compelling because we have no idea where it is going. What’s up with the Black Book and Isuldir and Mordor and all the rest? I kind of want to find out. That is motivation.

I’m really glad that the expansion quests are starting to help me gear up a bit, because my Lore-master is total weaksauce these days. It still takes too long to burn down mobs in the blue line, which is why I switched over to red for a hot (ha) minute. I tried it, but it didn’t really gel for me, plus I wasn’t noticing any great improvement on the time-to-kill factor, so I went back.

There were certainly a lot of other players running around questing, which I almost didn’t need to see because it once again sparked Hunter Envy in me. I used to LOVE my Lore-master and Captain, back when they could actually kill things, but now they’re like the plodding grandpa running after the faster-killing classes like Hunters. When I see one of those bow bozos kill a mob in about five seconds, I develop a hard eye twitch.

But really, at this point, I’m committed to this class. I can’t start over and I’m not going to pay something like $67 (!) for a level boost. Plus, even if I am horrible at killing, I still love having pets and the unique visuals. I also am leveling up a brand-new first ager that has better stats, so that should help out in the long run.

My simmering frustration over DPS led me to pulling my rotation apart and examining everything I had in my not-considerably-small toolkit. And that’s when I rediscovered Wizard’s Fire, which the devs stripped of its DOT status a while back and I disregarded. But when I slowed down to really look at it, I realized that (a) it’s an instant ability with no cooldown, (b) does a good chunk of damage, and (c) also issues a heal when my pet flanks. And you know what flanks a lot? My Bog-guardian.

So I adjusted my rotation, took out a couple of underperforming abilities, and worked Wizard’s Fire in as my spam attack once I got my DOTs set up. And you know what? It was like the game flipped over into, if not easy mode, than normal mode. Mobs went down a LOT faster, and I was able to do 100% of my rotation at distance instead of closing the gap to work in staff attacks.

This boosted my own morale for the rest of Mordor. I’ve always thought that if I could just fight at a normal time-to-kill, what I used to have in the game, then I’d be a lot more satisfied. Now, I can put that to the test.

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