Mines of Moria™ Day 4: Cleanup

Nope, not in the Mines yet. I have been working the two northern quest hubs in Eregion, and I finished Volume 1.

I have one quest left in Gwingris, maybe more if it is a chain. There is also the tea daily; the last quest is where the leaves spawn, so I may go back for it. The Gwingris quests are pretty typical Volume 1 stuff, for all the reasons I discussed on days one and two.

Echad Eregion follows the trend of sending you back to the same spot for more of the same. The elves there are worried about half-orcs. Instead of telling you up front to kill 40, they send you for fifteen and a few clickies, then another fifteen and a few clickies, then a boss. I was reminded of “bears, bears, bears” every time I went back for the named enemy I had just killed, but WAR failed to solve that after explicitly acknowledging it. It is not a bad quest hub, but if you are not in the mood to shoot wolves and half-orcs, this will be tiresome.

I was amused to find the quests sending me between quest hubs, when we already established that the correct order was passing through the entire zone then backtracking. Time in Middle Earth flows oddly. They left for Moria months before I did; they entered just before I arrived; when I backtracked, they had just started heading towards Moria, and I found the camp site; when I left the zone for an evening, they went into stasis; when I came back, they woke up and camped again. There was no hurry to find people chasing the Fellowship until I told someone that half-orcs were chasing the Fellowship; then a timer appeared; the messenger had been killed recently, so I had to wait for him at his horse so I could kill him. The demands of the game dictate these oddities, and we are familiar enough to ignore them, but shoehorning a story into this structure is really weird if you think about it. Score one for pen and paper roleplaying: it is only as insane as your DM.

There is a story, and you are not the hero of it. The Lord of the Rings Online™ Volume One: Shadows of Angmar™ comes in two parts. The first part sets you in the footsteps of the Fellowship. You talk to Strider and Gandalf, you cover for a mysterious hobbit, and you slay trolls with Legolas. You are supporting cast in the main Lord of the Ring™ story, which is more or less what you paid for. The second part pursues a different story, that of Angmar. It is a story of fathers and daughters, of betrayal and redemption. You follow the lead of successive protagonists, usually after the previous protagonist has been killed, crippled, or cast into despair. Notably, you are not that protagonist. Book 14 told that well, ending in a popular scene where the real characters act out the conclusion while you and your fellow flunkies watch. You do not even get to keep camera control. Book 15 ends just the same way.

While predictable, it is not a bad story. It is just that: a story, and not even interactive fiction. This prevents the problem of having a hundred people who are each supposed to be The Hero who Saved the World. It replaces it with having no PC heroes. Elrond is probably meant to be sincere rather than condescending when he says that he is sure you helped. It is how the game works, starting from Book One: when you get to the end, an NPC will come finish the story while you watch.

The few books where that does not happen? The best. You won. You did, not the NPC who let you tag along on his adventures.

Let’s talk gameplay. Volume 1, Book 15, Chapter 12 is a heck of a fight. This is one of the more difficult instances in the game, although not bad once you figure out a couple of tricks.

At level 52, I was the lowest level member of my kinship (guild) to have completed Volume 1. You can beat it with a team of level 50s, but that seems to be an unpopular option, especially since Moria was there and new. Also: hard. My fellowship had one 60 and the rest scattered across the 50s. The 60 was a Hunter, and we Hunters had the least important role in the big fight. We also had a Warden, Minstrel, Champion, and Captain. Half of us needed the quest, one had done it before, and two were way behind on their books.

(Side note: the Book 15 travel is not too bad as a Captain if you can recruit a Hunter. One can TP to most places, the other can summon the TPer wherever he is. The captain was somewhere earlier in Book 15, and he caught up quickly.)

A chunk of 1.15.12 is fighting groups of 10,000hp enemies, straightforward group content. They dropped several legendary items, including a low-50s Hunter bow with good legacies, so I am set for a couple weeks. The end fight is not very difficult, more like the visual novel that this game is. The real boss fight is in the middle, a gameplay choice that I commend: if you must repeat it, and we wiped once, you do not want to repeat the whole thing.

The Mordrambor fight is the centerpiece. As you may recall, he is a mighty foe with a lot of fire to toss around. Area effect damage hurts. It was also easy to address with one minor change: we hid two characters during our second try on the fight, and we were successful in half the time it took us to drop him to ~3000hp the first time. I stood behind a stalagmite, too almost no damage, and shot down the adds while the melees took care of the big guy. After our lengthy hardship the first time, emptying a Minstrel with over 9000 ICPR, the winning fight was a little anti-climactic.

Those adds, by the way, must kill graphics cards. Book 13 introduced ice grims, with a really neat attack that looks like summoning an ice elemental to whack you. Book 15 brought fire grims; maybe Mordrambor saw the ice ones and was inspired to make his own. Their neat attack effect looks like a phoenix. I hope your video card is up to showing pairs of enemies summoning fire birds, plus player effects, plus the boss with his own fire effects. My 8800 GTS was just fine.

Let’s talk rewards. If you complete Volume One, you get a pony. No, I’m serious, they give you a pony. You probably bought a mount back at level 35, so you can sell it if you prefer the white (officially gray) pony. That effectively gives Book 15 a multi-gold quest reward. I have never sold a pony, instead building up a collection in case we can get a keyring-like effect (My Little Pony menu?). I use a reputation faction’s pony, since I am told that they take more hits before un-mounting you. Okay okay, the taller races get a horse.

You also get a very nice ring, armor that I vendored, a cosmetic cloak, a special house decoration, a barter token for a legendary item, and two titles. Yeah, the epic quest line does have some nice rewards.

: Zubon

4 thoughts on “Mines of Moria™ Day 4: Cleanup”

  1. The Grey Horse/Pony from Book 15 is also a “strong” mount just like the reputation mounts and can take more hits before being dismounted. Nice to have multiple mounts though for different moods or seasons…

  2. Maybe there will some kind of mount-keychain equivilent in the Rohan expansion. Perhaps a Large Yard decoration in the form of a stables or hitching post where you can display your many mounts.

  3. I’d be happy with a yard decoration Stable where I can show my favorite mount.

    Oh, and an interior slot to show my favorite gear.

    Oh, and a closet storage that will *only* store armor and clothes…

    Oh, and… :)

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