Mines of Moria™ Day 61: Retrospective

It has been about six months since The Lord of the Rings Online™ Volume Two: Mines of Moria™ launched, and I have been paying attention for about half of it. I did a series on my return to Middle-earth, leaving off about half-way through exploring Moria. Having had enough time to get burned out, what is my view now?

First, Moria really is a great locale. It is a huge space with a great deal of diversity. There are lots of interesting things to see. There are living flames, transparent spiders, giant turtles and toads, ancient ruins, waterfalls, an underground grotto, fungal invaders, and bottomless pits.

There are many quests and more than enough content to hit level 60. This includes several epic books, finding the parts of an ancient statue, realigning mirrors to bring light to the depths, following riddles all the way to Lothlorien, and fighting many goblins and orcs.

Once you run through those quests, you have probably done most of the fun stuff. It may go a bit past 60 if you spent your early 50s completing the Shadows of Angmar™ content, but the content at level 60 is less varied and interesting than the content at level 50. Mines of Moria™ pushed the endgame out a few weeks, but killed it in doing so.

Let’s hit a few more points before talking about the level 60 content.

Since Mines of Moria™, the game has been a technical debacle. The only kinder way to say it is, “They’re trying,” which might be a further insult given the results. Developer research found that water is causing enemies to enter anti-exploit mode, which explains the extensive uselessness that is Evendim. Server stability has been horrible, which the developers attribute to the solo instances. Characters frequently freeze, go linkdead while able to talk, and experience rollbacks. Servers have crashed and needed many resets.

These are the continuing problems, beyond the new problems introduced by Book 7. Most of those have been fixed by now, although some remain (orcs with no money, elites with no drops, enemies that count for the wrong deeds, crafting items that do not exist). Every developer comment I have seen says that fixes for Book 7 problems will in Book 8, in months. So the best case scenario is trading the existing bugs for whatever the new Book 8 bugs are, with those to be fixed after the next expansion launches. That’s the best case scenario.

While we are on the subject of Book 7, it stands as a pretty update that is probably the weakest the game has had. Its major addition was a low-conflict zone with a new reputation grind, one that you grind by picking flowers and cleaning “orc filth” from the river. The Battle of Lorien was a good addition, and I still need to kill that turtle someday.

The epic books for Mines of Moria™ are mostly solo content. There are three group quests, one of which is three instances, so let’s call it five. The story is moderately interesting, weaving a few good parts together. You get to be the hero, mostly, although the more recent books have the “NPCs take charge at the end” theme that the second half of Shadows of Angmar™ did. There is one really good session play quest, assuming it does not break.

Most of the other quests lead you through the zones well. There are many orc and goblin encampments, some of them in conflict with one another, and your quests tour you through them. You also see bug nests and deep-claw dens, but Moria is light on wildlife. If you are tired of bears, bears, bears, Moria is light on bears.

The new classes are fun to play, but may not fit well in the world. The Rune-keeper is a Sith lord with healing spells. The Warden is a tank that rarely seems to be allowed to live up to its potential, but it does get a big bag of tricks like the Captain.

The big new mechanic is the legendary item (LI) system, and it exemplifies the good and the bad of Mines of Moria™: fun the first time or two, wearying to grind to completion. You get your first LI in Volume Two, Book One, and it is a great one. You get multiple, high rank legacies, and it is level-appropriate. Leveling up your first weapon is great, another set of rewards for each enemy killed. Once you level up a few times yourself, you will want a new weapon: higher DPS and a higher potential LI level. This begins the real grind, because the estimate is 200-300 Third Age weapons to find one with good ranks of good legacies, ignoring the chance of getting a Champion’s Dagger of the Third Age. Then earn more than a million item experience points to level it up. Then combine thousands of relics and settings to get high-tier ones to slot. Repeat to whatever extent is necessary if you want a Second or First Age LI, although that First Age is a 1/week attempt on the Watcher (and now the turtle). If you are willing to go through all that, you can end up with a really great, top tier weapon that could last you until the next expansion in six months.

Oh, and this obsoleted almost all late-game crafted weapons in the process. Sorry, crafters.

The other big endgame grind is getting your radiance gear. The Watcher has a dread aura of doom, so you need the radiance equipment to stand up in its room. You get one piece by completing hard mode in each of six instanced dungeons. Or rather, one person gets one piece. The giant spider does not take that long, but the Sixteenth Hall can stretch towards two hours. Call it an hour average. If you assume success every time, no downtime for AFKs and such, and no time for getting groups together, that means 36 hours of running those instances before you fight the Watcher, plus whatever time you need to complete quests and deeds in there.

Does “36 hours,” plus the list of assumptions needed to keep it to 36 hours, explain the problem well enough? If you really like one of the instances, you are in business. If not, well, good luck. The turtle sometimes drops radiance coins. I am not up to reviewing all six right now, although my same answer applies: fun a few times, wearying to grind repeatedly. If you are hardcore, you can get your full set in a week. If you are casual, and cannot assume a good group and success every time, you might get one piece in a week if you do nothing else in-game.

With a few exceptions for specialized uses of classes, radiance gear is the best around. The second best comes from other coins dropped in the instances. So this obsoleted almost all the late-game crafted armor in the process. Sorry, crafters.

(Which kind of made the new crafting guilds a mostly useless reputation grind, but it made the mid-level crafting grind more bearable by letting us run on two treadmills at once.)

Let’s tie this back to the technical problems. Exploits were left in-game for most of the time that Mines of Moria™ has been live. They were classified as “unintended behavior,” rather than “exploit,” so Turbine would not be committed to banning a lot of paying customers. Many people got their top-tier equipment with tricks that are now disabled, so you face a harder grind if you took one of the recent welcome back offers for the second half of Moria’s lifecycle. While the bugs existed and radiance coins flowed relatively freely, the second-tier armor was flagged Bind on Equip, not Bind on Acquire, so the industrious could also supply alts and such, again in ways that latecomers cannot duplicate. Most of those bugs have now been fixed. I don’t know if anyone has re-thought how hard hard mode really is, now that it must be played as intended; the initial developer indication was, “Hey, feel free to run out of hard mode if it’s too hard for you.”

Not that there is a “hard mode” switch you flip. Instead, you do something specific, usually leaving some enemy alive or racing a hidden time limit. The Sixteenth Hall has the most egregious hard mode: do not kill the 200hp bugs around the rather difficult end boss, so make sure everyone removes any equipment or traits that reflect damage on a block. Take those AE skills off your hotkey bar, because one mis-click means you spent the last hour(s) for very little. The Grand Stairs is also interesting for having quests that are mutually exclusive with hard mode.

This retrospective started fairly positive, but took a strong negative turn. And isn’t it odd to do a “retrospective” six months into an expansion? Those are all emblematic. Your first visit, stellar. Leveling 50 to 60, great. Visiting the radiance instances with a good guide, fun. Then you hit the endgame, such as it is, and it all turns to ashes. The LI treadmill is a mile long, and it is still a treadmill. The radiance grind will give you either your best friends or a list of people you want dead dead dead.

If you like lotteries, you will love these treadmills. Getting a decent 3rd Age is not that hard, just time-consuming, as you barter for level 59 LIs and deconstruct them (at item level 2-11) until you find two you like. You can even pick your weapon type. For 2nd Age weapons, take your 1 in whatever chance of getting one, then your 1 in 9 chance of its being for your class, then your 1 in something small chance that it is not a useless weapon type for your class (for melee classes), then your 1 in another whatever chance of its having the legacies you want, then your 1 in whatever else chance of their having decent tiers. If you farm something like a half-million level 60+ enemies, ones that are not coded to give no drops, you have a very good chance of getting a pair of good 2nd Age Legendary Items.

I can’t tell you much about the raiding, but it was just the one fight until last month, so meh. You’d be amazed at how many people have problems with “move as a group when the big warning text flashes on your screen.”

I can’t tell you much about the PvMP, but I have not been much interested with the balance around lately. Freeps had a large advantage, which I failed to exploit during the Hunter glory days, and now it looks like the creeps have a bit of a leg up. I have eaten only a few people.

So my current view is: resubscribe to get your level 50 character to 60, which should take a month or two. Finish your epic books and whatever quests look interesting. Unsubscribe, and maybe hit a few radiance instances in the days before your time runs out. Given Book 7, have no hopes for Book 8. When the next expansion launches, decide whether to exploit early or have somewhat fewer bugs sometime later. Based on Mines of Moria™, it takes more than six months to stabilize the servers from the initial expansion bugs, 4-6 months to fix the exploits, and 4-6 more months to fix the bugs.

My guess is that Turbine does not care about having a level 60 endgame. Level 60 is not the endgame, because the level cap will be raised within a year. It is a pit stop while the next paid expansion is completed. Level 50 had lots of content, because they needed to keep subscribers for the first year, but level 60 is just relying on the loot lotteries to keep people playing and paying.

The low level content is still as fun as ever, if you are comfortable with fewer groups and don’t need to go to Evendim. Bring your own group, or you can find them pretty easily for the major bottlenecks (epic books, instance dungeons), although don’t ask Ethic about the quality of the GLFF channel (and Landroval has one of the better ones, I’m told).

: Zubon

My wife has a much simpler barometer: “You sound a lot less happy on voice chat than you did in City of Heroes.”

37 thoughts on “Mines of Moria™ Day 61: Retrospective”

  1. Yeah, not a lot to look forward to I guess. I’m not interested in most of what you write about. Which sounds like most of the game 50+. Good thing I will not likely get there any time soon at my pace.

    But still, way to bum me out dude. The static group we have been running is the only MMO time I look forward to these days.

  2. The main problem for most at the moment is the fact that the new multi-boss raid, originally due in Book 7, was pushed back to Book 8. Of course, when it arrives, it will be full of bugs and exploits, just like the Rift was on release, but it will still be enough to keep people occupied until the next expansion.

    Of course, if the new raid has strict radiance requirements, all bets are off!

  3. So close yet so far away is still the story for me with MoM. They had so many seriously cool ideas and they mostly got them in the game. But they also had just a couple stupid ideas they weigh it all down. I’m still happy in there and it’s definitely the greatest game around for my money. The bugs and technical issues have hardly effected me at all, and I have been playing non-stop since launch. Still I think Turbine did the most harm simply by showing us what they COULD have delivered but didn’t quite manage. What we have is good but it can’t help but be disappointing all the same.

    The only place I disagree with ya Zub is regarding book 8 (and book 9 which will come before the next paid expansion). They’ve done a lot of murmuring here and there that actually makes it sound like they’ll not only be catching up what they fell behind with since MoM launched but taking another leap forward on par with the absolutely outstanding original free content updates.

    We shall see, we shall see.

  4. I think Turbine somewhat screwed the pooch by making radience gear utterly outclass everything else. In the old game you could get gear that was roughly on par doing whatever you felt like, crafting, PvMP, raiding, 6 mans.

    Now it’s six mans or nothing. The PvMP gear is horrible, and the high end crafted sets are even worse (save for an odd slot here and there). I assume the raid that’s coming will have some decent armor sets available. However that still doesn’t help crafters or give players anything like a reasonable incentive to do PvP on the freep side.

  5. “resubscribe to get your level 50 character to 60, which should take a month or two. Finish your epic books and whatever quests look interesting. Unsubscribe, and maybe hit a few radiance instances in the days before your time runs out.”

    This was basically my plan, though you’re making it sound like I might be better off waiting for Rohan. :-/

  6. The leveling from 50-60 is probably the most enjoyable part of the game, or at least it has been for me.

    I love the instances, solo and group. I wish there were more 3man instances, especially for lvl 60 since the 54-56 ones in Eregion are a wee bit too easy (albiet enjoyable). I love the daily solo instances in Moria and I’d probably complete them everyday even without the rewards.

    I’ll agree with the letdown of Lothlorien, which is probably the 2nd worst map (after Evendim) in LOTRO. I’m already sick of picking flowers for rep. I can grind on mobs in solo or group instances all day long, but wandering through fields avoiding pestering ‘protected’ mobs just isn’t my idea of fun.

    For anyone who looks at the prizes and the shortest route to them, the Endgame in LOTRO would be abysmal right now. The rewards are either too easy, or if you’re concerned about grind, may seem to hard (see Legendary items below). Even if you have more patience than that, the Endgame is incomplete. Maybe Turbine will bring it along with Book 8, but more likely they’re going to keep it a moving target. I’m hot and cold on that, it all comes down to how good the content is.

    Legendary items as a ‘grind’ is a bit of an illusion. There are so many item exp drops and quest rewards, taking any given weapon to max is almost disappointingly trivial. I think Turbine has made the mistake of making it an upgrade-to-next system more than an upgrade-this-weapon system. Even as an upgrade-to-next, they haven’t given themselves much room for growth.

    Negative criticism aside, I’m still having more fun than I’ve found elsewhere. Give me some good mobs to kill and I’m happy, and unfortunately that’s still IMHO a rare experience. Too many other games lack out on the basics.

  7. Rog, I think of the LI grind as getting a good one, not leveling it. 1. Go through 400 3rd Ages to get a decent one. 2. Then consider how much more rarely 2nd Ages drop and decide not to repeat the process. Or at least those were my two steps. My Hunter does have a really nice melee axe, with none of the bonuses that Hunters usually want (like Needful Haste) and instead great ranks on every melee damage legacy. Last time I took her out, she did pretty well hand-to-hand.

  8. @Rog: I agree the the current endgame bites compared to the old 50 endgame, and that Lothlorian was a misstep. I fought my way through the mines so that I could clean orc filth long enough for the elves of Lothlorian to trust me enough to let me grind more faction for mediocre gear…..!?! Insane.

    Unfortunately, I also have to agree to my tastes it’s still the best PvE focused fantasy MMO by a wide margin. I’ve played all the biggies, and none of them are as immersive to me as LoTRO.

    @Zubon: 400 is an exaggeration (was that meant as hyperbole?), I’ve never had to got through more than 10 or 15 to get a decent 59 third age. However your point about second and first ages is well taken. No way in hell I’m going though ten of those to get a good one. Turbine can bite me, I refuse to even try.

  9. I think it’s been both good and bad, but remember over in Europe we’ve not had many of the stability issues, so no idea what the hell that’s about when it’s the same code and probably the same servers. We’ve had some, it was ironed out, nothing like the US has had to put up with.

    Solo instances, the radiance grind, the Book 7 boredom grind is all there, sure. But it’s not as dull if you spread it out and do it with friends. There’s a lot of good in Moria, and I agree that getting from 50 to 60 was far more enjoyable than I imagined it would be, and that cracking the hard-mode instances with friends was great. Book 7 is horrible, though, I agree there!

  10. @Zubon: From my perspective, you’re approaching the system wrong if you’re trashing 400 weapons to get one ‘good’ one. I’d agree with Yeebo, that’s either an exageration, or you’re over min-maxing, or you’ve got unreasonable expectations before starting a weapon.

    The speed of leveling absolutely factors in, because you can level several decent candidates for Third Age and once you’ve got something good, move onto Second Age or if you are raiding, leapfrog to First Age.

    Second Age seems to be rated higher in legacies, so getting a better base is more likely. An extra legacy selection at 50 (assuming lvl 58-60) further reduces the selection of ‘right’ legacies you should need when Identifying the weapon. From the First Ages I’ve seen on AH, it seems unlikely to get a poor one at all, especially considering DPS for melee classes. There’s a bit of a gap getting Second Ages, but they’re not exactly expensive on the AH either and if you’re like me there’s trading within your Kinship. It’s not like this is a single-player game and you’re waiting for the ultimate drop, you’ve got other options.

    Organically most players will think the experience of Third Age carries or gets harder, not easier. This is part of the illusion and one of Turbine’s mistakes. I wonder how many people have ditched it thinking “screw this, Third Age was hard enough” and not realizing they don’t need to be as picky.

    Ultimately though, whether I think you’re being impatient / unfair with the Legendary system, it rest firmly on the shoulders of Endgame content. If Endgame was better, I suspect there would be a lot less complaints about the Legendary items and their grind (or IMHO lack thereof). This should be a support system and instead it’s the current prime motivator. In other words, it’s never a grind if you’re having fun.

    I’m hoping for more from Book 8. It’s promising to me that rather than tweak Lothlorien further (I’m sure they will eventually), they’re dropping in more content. I’m also noting that they’re upgrading server hardware with the test coming on Bullroarer. That’s probably the real solution to the bogged servers.

  11. WOW, so much to comment on here.

    “So my current view is: resubscribe to get your level 50 character to 60, which should take a month or two.”
    It took me about a week to go from 50 to 60, and it was a blast! I guess I should clarify that I probably played about 40 hours that week, which is normal for me. Also, I purchased blue “bonus xp” when I could.

    I agree that rune-keeper doesn’t quite “fit”. Very fun to play though. And Warden is awesome.

    With regards to post-60 content, the question is… do you HAVE to do it? I mean, do you HAVE to have tier 8 relics? Do you HAVE to have a max-level weapon? Do you HAVE to get radiance gear? Do you HAVE to have a first age? Do you have to do any of that stuff to be strong and capable enough to feel good about how much you contribute to a group?

    No… not really. I don’t feel I have to complete every deed either. But I work on deeds, or leveling my weapons, or relics, because it gives me a nice feeling of accomplishment as I work on my way towards this nearly unreachable goal. It’s just something I do when I’m not doing other things, and that’s fine for me.

    I do understand complaints about the watcher requiring radiance though… because that’s content that’s barred from you. It sucks if your friends are going off to kill the watcher and you can’t. But otherwise, I never feel i can’t go because my weapon isn’t high enough level, or doesn’t have my preferred legacies.

  12. I love Moria as a place and I really enjoyed the journey from 50 to 60 but I must admit to having tired of the level 60 end game very quickly. I guess my impressions are very similar to your own Zubon except that I left very soon after hitting the level cap before frustration set in. I still have fond memories of the game and am looking forward the next expansion.

    My only concern is that the new end game mechanics may now create an insurmountable barrier between those who stay to grind gear and those who don’t. I took a similar break from the original game and returned just before Moria but I was still able to take up with friends who had stuck with the game. Even though they were outfitted in full Rift Armour I didn’t feel impossibly far behind. I am worried that this will no longer be possible with future expansions.

  13. @arbitrary
    i agree, for some reason we eu chaps have been surprisingly unaffected given codemasters’ earlier track record with lotro.

  14. @mbp

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I’d expect a full gear reset when the level cap rises again. Radiance requirements, if Turbine decide to stick with them, will probably only be used to limit access to end-game content.

  15. “How come wives are so smart like that.”

    On the other hand, they married us, so… don’t know what to think anymore.

  16. maybe i’m the odd one out, but i really like Lothlorien – but then i love the Shire too, and do at least 75 quests there on all chars i roll, regardless of race. Lothlorien is peaceful and quiet, and i can tool around there all day doing things i want to do – collect crafting resources for alts, often – without having to kill another orc ever 2 paces, and while getting easy faction rep for good rewards (jewellery, shields and cloaks, the only things worth crafting at supreme).

    i tired of moria itself a long time ago – there are just too many hudles and too many bottlenecks there for my liking. eg: my 1st char hit 60 in november, and book 2.5.5 in early december… it’s now may, she’s still stuck on 2.5.5. getting a good group together for that instance (well, deeep way only, but doing 1 usually involves committing to 3) on my server at the time i have free to play has been one long exercise in frustration. in contrast, i can tool around lothlorien to my heart’s content.

    the LI grind – as in, getting the right LI – i can kind of sympathise with, but really, getting a decent 3rd age isnt impossible; 2nd age involves action on the AH for any hope of success, and i dont have the time to raid, so im not looking for 1st age. same with the HM instances: i’ve got 3/6 on one alt, haven’t tried on the 2nd; the 3rd will do HM when it hits 55+, but that’s still a month or so away. 16th hall HM is a long slog; FG HM is just plain horrible, but the other 4 are fine; really, its hard to have many complaints about GS HM, except that it was *even easier* when it was exploitable.

    i will add tho, that making the armour sets from HM BoA, not BoE, has been a nightmare – slightly useful for SM tailors and metalsmiths, but basically just shrinking the potential participants for HM instances. i’m loving the crafting instances, im loving Lothlorien, i hate the inside of Moria with a passion and i’m not in the market for full radiance gear – so Book 7 is great for me. i’m loving the warden, the wife loves the RK, so the new classes have my approval as well. plus, im on the EU servers, so there has been no technical issues to speak of, other than the water/anti-exploit issue.

    the turtle raid looks like its removing some of the ‘must-get-rad-gear- pressure, cos ppl can enter it without full rad and still get their hands on a 1st age, so that keeps the raiders happy; and Lorien means that at 55 i can leave Moria with my warden (not entering until 53 if i can avoid it) and still hit 60.

    true, if you *are* trying to farm HM, or clear the bottlenecks, MoM can be a stressful anti-fun game and Book 7 a waste of time; but if yr not, then Book 7 is really fun, and well needed after too long inside Moria. (i’ve already commented once on this blog: i think Moria will, like Angmar and Forochel, become abandoned content as soon as the lvl cap rises; grinding there is just too much work for too little reward).

  17. As a “hardcore” player since open beta, Zubon’s experiences matches my own fairly well.

    Book 8 is going to be “make or break” for many players like me.

  18. I loved leveling my Warden. Then I stopped leveling so much. Then I stopped playing. Then I stopped subscribing. Since I only got to level 40, I never saw any of this, though you aren’t make me miss it any more.

  19. Quote: “My wife has a much simpler barometer: ‘You sound a lot less happy on voice chat than you did in City of Heroes.'”

    Ha! That quote, in fact your whole article, is dead-on! (and I don’t even play CoX *g*)

    One can see that Turbine is struggling. Struggling for a bigger market share whilst retaining the current numbers of paying customers. Maybe the licence givers/IP owners aren’t too happy with actual subscription numbers and/or the direction they’re taking (now, where have I seen that before? SWG, anyone? There, I said it!). That explains the resource-expensive making over of starting areas (first Erid Luin, Breeland’s about to follow up), while the devs should have been working on real issues (e.g. exploit-mode MOBs, endgame raid content, or even ANY sustaining, interesting, FUN endgame content). The LI system, as it’s implemented now, isn’t going to crack it for too much longer.

    Oh yes, what they’ve done with Moria and Lothlorién was brilliant, in terms of lore, story, world building, landscape, mood setting, the works. I took my time to see the sights, do all the quests within an area, but after about four weeks I hit lvl 60 in MoM. Now what? Oh yes, get geared up for the new hoop (i.e radiance requirement). That took about 4 weeks, with a great kinship and me as a very casual player. After one and a half week I hit kindred standing with the Galadhrim. Now I find myself logging on only for the Watcher in the Water raid, or whenever the Filikul ID clears. I just don’t feel like helping with gearing up the umpteenth alt any more.

    Good thing I’ve got an LTA early on, or Turbine (or in my case, Codemasters) would have temporarily lost another sub until the next book, or more likely, the next expansion. I’m just wondering how much longer they can justify the see-saw of active players without rapidly growing subscription numbers in the eyes of the IP holders. There’s going to be an NGE waiting for us around some not-too-distant corner, mark my words… (jk ;P)

  20. Turbine safely have the license until 2017, and they almost certainly have the 2nd or 3rd most successful subscription MMO in the west now. The mark of a good MMO is one that people will still keep playing despite all its flaws, and by that standard they aren’t doing too badly at all.

    This month will be the lowest point LotRO will see this year. When we get into June Turbine will open the flood gates on Book 8 information. The new raid will arrive in Book 8, most players will forget about all the other issues for a while, and before we know it, the next expansion will be imminent.

  21. I have a quick exercise: Name your three, and only three, favorite areas or instances/locations in LOTRO of the content you’ve played so far since day one. Criteria and order don’t matter.

  22. “I have a quick exercise: Name your three, and only three, favorite areas or instances/locations in LOTRO of the content you’ve played so far since day one”

    1. North Downs
    2. Goblin Town
    3. The School in Eregion

  23. Great Barrows
    Carn Dum
    Rift

    There are several zones I like a lot, but all the specific fun memories are from the instances.

  24. Well, before this drops to page 2, look at your top three picks:

    North Downs (4)
    The Shire (3)
    Moria (3)

    There is jitter elsewhere with other picks, of course, because every player is different, but you guys strongly come to an agreement on those. What’s special about those?

    Those are Tolkien-heavy areas. That is, areas or locations which Tolkien himself gave a great deal of importance in the texts and (perhaps with the exception of the North Downs) spent a great deal of time either describing them or having important actions taking place there. Those are heavy locations.

    Seems to me that when Turbine follows Tolkien by putting content into those Tolkien-heavy location under that heavy Tolkien framework already in place things are fine, but when they’re left more or less to their own devices, so to speak, when they have to improvise on their own based on what little Tolkien wrote about the less important places, it’s been more hit and miss. By the way, this isn’t a slight on Turbine at all, since we’re talking about following on J.R.R.F’n. Tolkien.

    Do you guys think there’s something like this going on?

  25. I’m thinking that “Moria” should not count as one place, but that’s just me. It’s like saying “Europe” is your favorite place. That’s a lot of places all together.

  26. Agreed, but thematically (as Tolkien intended it I guess, I don’t think he was writing from a design point of view) Moria is one place and it’s easily identifiable and describable as one place. “The Mines of Moria”, where Gimli’s cousin Balin would give everyone a royal welcome, malt beer, etc.

  27. I almost specified that any given zone within Moria wouldn’t qualify as a favourite locale, but taken together they trump all of the other zones.

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