Skirmish Scaling

So far, I have had almost no fun running any skirmishes in groups. The scaling is ridiculous.

Solo seems balanced for you to level your soldier alone. You would not have much trouble running them without your soldier out. The bosses drop easily, and I face harder fights in normal quests. Move up to small fellowships, and the repetitive fights are still trivial, even more so given that some of the fights are against two normal enemies. The encounters are also easy, although some of the lieutenants are fairly absurd (exploding for most of a squishy’s health). Then the boss appears, and that fight seems to be balanced for a full group of six, on the assumptions that all your soldiers are leveled fully and that your group learned to coordinate well despite never needing to before that one fight. Even that would not be a problem were it not for the suicidal NPCs that do not seem much tougher when you have a group going. Beating everything in a skirmish is not bad, but the NPCs actively run into fire auras, shadow DoTs on the ground, and anything else that can hurt them, while wanting to tank.

I feel as though I am forced to solo enough skirmishes to level up my soldier to my level, and then only join groups with others that have done so. In six to eight months, this part will be a smaller problem, when most main characters have decent soldiers, although alts will continue to be suicide in group skirmishes. Until I am willing to put in that time on every character I play, and ruthlessly kick anyone who has not, any group skirmish seems like a huge waste of time. It takes 30-40 minutes to test that because the very last fight is the only challenging one. That would be less annoying if you could re-try that fight after seeing what went wrong, but the NPC dies, so you fail and must start over. Putting a half-hour of grinding trivial trash between every re-attempt is a problem. More than half your marks come from clearing the last fight and getting the daily bonus; why risk getting only a third of the full reward in a group when you can consistently get the whole thing solo?

It is a worse situation than the normal problem of needing your friends to level to the cap before you can play with them. Not only may your characters have a level difference, so do your soldiers, and you all need to level your soldiers solo unless you are happy losing at the end and only getting 1/3 of the reward when you play together. Even if you are the one at the cap waiting for your friends, you still need to solo grind to bring up your soldier.

I joined a group for the raid-sized Siege of Gondamon skirmish. The last fight was turned up to three arch-nemesis class enemies, two of which had fiery damage auras. Conveniently for our raid, one of the flaming dragons went into anti-exploit mode despite fighting on a flat surface, so we took down the other and the boss. When it exited anti-exploit mode, it reset into drama mode and never exited, so the raid just stared at an un-attackable enemy until everyone quit.

: Zubon

16 thoughts on “Skirmish Scaling”

  1. Since you are not one to exaggerate problems, I can only read this and shake my head. How do you get so many parts of a system (balance, rewards, time to learn) so wrong and actually go live with it? Especially if done right, that system should be a huge bonus to your game, rather than another (and more painful) treadmill.

  2. Suz, how many times have we told you… oh wait, Zubon?!?

    Dunno what to tell you man. My kin has had a blast with Skirmishes in groups. 6-mans become pretty crazy but if your PCs know what they’re doing the soldiers aren’t an issue. Maybe your problem is pugging? ;-P

    Now on the 12-mans, you need to have your soldier’s leveled for the final boss fight, we found that out the hard way, but that’s tippy-top content thurr so it makes sense.

    1. I feel ya. ;-} I got a much lower thresh-hold for appreciating “challenging” content than most even. :P MMOs are notorious too for having a system of why “HA! YOU LOSE!” but not being very forthcoming on wtf that reason is. >:[

  3. So why not set the skirmish to be a level or two lower if you know you have underlevelled minions? Surely this problem is one you have the tools to handle.

    1. Soldiers start around level 35. I have no idea how low to set a skirmish to deal with having half your theoretical team 10 to 20 levels below the actual players. In terms of most fights, that is 0. At the boss, solo, that is still 0. At the boss, in a group, I have no idea how to factor it.

      1. tbh I struggle with solo skirmishes at my level even though my soldier is at the same level as me sometimes. (If crowd control is your best way to handle multiple adds, it’s a nightmare to get a boss that is immune.)

  4. ah now, this is *precisely* what i don’t like about Skirmishes. my wife and i play together – LOTRO is a very good game for duos, generally – but skirmishes are just not fun as 2.

    partly it’s due to the fact that skirmishes don’t come in 2-person size: we have to take a 3 person and lower the difficulty setting.

    but we face the problem that either: (a) we lower the difficulty so far we get basically no rewards; (b) we fail on the final boss; or (c) we spend a whole heap of time playing Skirmishes *separately* just so that we can play Skirmishes together again.

    Solo skirmishes we can do easily, and on lvl: the same 3 person skirmish, done as two, at 6-7 lvls beneath us (with something like 10% of the possible skirmish rewards available) and we’re failing on the final boss. It’s not fun, and the solution we’ve adopted has been ‘play some other game else instead’. which is a shame, after having raided our way up to and thru DN, and having looked forward to (what we thought would be) the flexibility of Skirmishes.

    1. You duoed DN? That’s impressive as hell!

      Scaling to any number would be better though, yes. Devs just felt it too cost intensive vs. getting skirmishes out the door. I believe them.

  5. Hmm, I haven’t had any problem with 3-person skirmishes. Like sean I play with my better half, but we usually pull someone in from our kinship. Our kinship isn’t super hard-core high gear people, either. Maybe the ability to yell at each other in the same room (OMFG HEAL ME YOU BI… nevermind) helps out? I’ve mostly done 3-person raids to work up my soldier; it’s just an Herbalist, though, so perhaps I can get by a bit easier than someone relying on a DPS soldier.

    12-mans are pretty insane, though. I organized one with a group after a mediocre Turtle attempt (many of us 65, most people wiping but us still winning in the end; our kin isn’t hard-core), and the final encounter in Thievery and Mischief was four Arch-Nemesis enemies. We couldn’t even get one killed in time. Partially my fault since I didn’t change the skirmish level form 65, but the people complaining about that the loudest were the ones charging ahead of the pack. This difficulty is on top of the chaos of having 24 characters running around.

  6. There are three major issues

    1. Rewards for higher difficulties don’t scale well
    I can set it to II or III for solo or group mode and risk failure, while gettin 18% more skirmish marks. Sure, they can’t hand out excessive amounts, but I also did not notice I get more of the campaign marks or other drops to make it worthwhile.

    2. Groups are more difficult than solo play
    Yup. And they don’t yield too much benefits, just run two solo skirmishes in the same time. They might not be as fun, but group skirmishes require 1.) fully trained soldiers, from everyone and 2.) are still often amazingly hard.

    I often say people want a challenge. But at the same time we always work to make things as easy as possible for us, this is why stuff has to be challenging. Artificial challenge asking people to make themselves life harder just does not fly.

    3. Skirmishes get old quickly
    LOTRO has perhaps the most wonderful MMO world. Ride from the Shire to Angmar through Moria to Mirkwood and you will say “oh what a wonderful world”.

    There are also nice dungeons and instances, but the new, very tiny dungeons just suck. Sword halls is a boring farming instance. Sammath Gûl is quite okay, and the only instance people run at the moment. Warg-pens and the Dungeons? Dungeons were a try to introduce puzzles to dungeons, but people rather farm the Sword halls over and over.

    Skirmishes destroy the illusion. They are very arcade-style. I cannot help, but I would rather run some TBC WoW instances over and over than Skirmish scenarios that are apparently always more or less the same procedure.

    1. #1 is sooth. That blows my mind. T2 is an astounding leap in difficulty (not unreasonable just REALLY STEEP) and yet the reward increase is like 12%. Apparently, too, the rewards got nerfed from beta. Can’t imagine why.

  7. There is one more thing:

    Mike O’Brien from ArenaNet/Guild Wars named it “buddy gaming”. They were promoting the idea of the customizeable henchmen aka Heroes at this time.

    The duo friend & best buddy or husband/wife is probably even MUCH more common than the menagerie a trois which probably has the trinity mindset/system as background. And to be honest, sometimes we just do not want other strangers to group with. We usually filled up with henchmen in Guild Wars.

  8. Pretty much mirrors our experiences, Zubon. Solo is a blast and nothing too daunting, even at the right level, but some of those three and six-man lieutenants seem vastly more powerful than the solo versions. Maybe we’re doing it wrong, but we’ll often lose the whole squishy-backline when those show up.

    My favourite are the Grim variants, who seem to be immune to taunts, come with a *huge* AOE damage aura and will just start randomly zipping about and one-hitting important people, like the healers, damage dealers and mission critical NPCs.

    We’re not hardcore or anything, and I’m pleased there are folks that can do them right, but I think we’re going to do other stuff instead and wait out the tweaking and balancing that I really hope is on the way. Solo though, great fun!

  9. The main problem is that rewards don’t scale well with difficulty now. Reports from the beta were that the rewards scaled very well with group size and made soloing an option you’d use mainly to grow your soldier and learn the system. Reports from the live game are that you’d be next to insane to try and PuG a skirmish, and that per unit time the rewards are better soloing unless you have a fixed group.

    Seems like the pooch got screwed somewhere along the way between beta and live. Rewards need to be commensurate with risk. It’s common sense . . .

  10. So far skirmishes have been a big success in our kinship. I’ve played in 3-man, 6-man and 12-man skirmishes, but only Tier 1 so far.
    We have got through the 3-man and 6-man skirmishes. The soldiers have worked reasonably well, and although of varying usefulness as they are levelled up, haven’t been a disadvantage.

    Our kin played the 12-man Siege of Gondamon skirmish and wiped when faced by the final boss and double drake combo (we also wiped in the 12-man Thievery and Mischief skirmish). But we all had great fun, it was more of a social experience. We deliberately invited kin members who perhaps grouped less and did not participate in kin Raids and we lowered the level of the skirmish. It was clear that we would have done better with fully levelled soldiers, mains in top equipment and an experienced raid group but for that particular skimrish it was really an exercise in kin grouping so we focussed on that. I can see the frustration otherwise though, as others have noted.

    To be honest I haven’t really monitored the scaling of rewards and not had the opportunity to note the difference between Tiers, as I said I’ve only played Tier 1.

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