The Mirkwood Endgame

The Lord of the Rings Online™ did well with its endgame under Shadows of Angmar™ but has struggled since. The SoA endgame had two sets of three full-group instances, of length varying from three large rooms to three hours. Late in SoA, there were full-group battle instances that were precursors to skirmishes. Small fellowship instances had yet to be developed. The two raids were big deals, Helegrod less popular because it took more effort to organize 24 people, but there are still regular groups for The Rift.

The endgame in Mines of Moria™ was deeply marred. The six instances were known for bugs and exploits, and the current player approach seems to be farming the fastest and avoiding the two that are painfully long and/or difficult. The developers have judged Radiance to be a failed mechanic (as implemented) and are removing it. MoM launched with a one-fight raid, later added another one-fight raid, and at the end of its life added something comparable to The Rift. I have no idea if that ever became popular; the small fellowship instances never did, but the full-group Halls of Crafting still sees regular use. The small fellowship instances faced the problem of using mirrors, levers, and gates to create puzzle content. Group puzzle content does not work well aside from the occasional puzzle boss.

Siege of Mirkwood™ is about to get its second shot at an endgame, and it needs it. It launched with three small fellowship instances, a full group instance, and a two-group raid. Aside from skirmishes and scaling content, that has not changed in over a year. Of these, the ones seeing the most use seem to be the fastest small fellowship instance and the full group instance. (LotRO has consistently had some fun full-group instances. SG is a good dungeon.) I enjoy the Warg Pens, even if the challenge mode there is a bit tedious. The Dungeons of Dol Guldur is just poor on every level; it is a neat idea, but stealth content + groups + MMO does not work well together, to say nothing of its boss fight (he can repeatedly disable the entire group with no way to prevent it, and if he randomly does one move back-to-back, he kills half of the prisoners you are rescuing; combine the two for bonus fun) or its deed that requires running it many times (save 10 named prisoners, a random 2 of which count per day, and of course you must successfully get those two out). I am not much of a raider, so I cannot comment on whether people like BG or are just dutifully running it because it, like DN, was the only raid content out there. Oh, and it can give the best loot, so of course people are running it for the reward. I hear about loot, but I have yet to hear anyone argue for it on the basis of being fun. And you only need that loot if you are running the BG raid, so it is neatly circular.

If GLFF is any guide, the most popular and widely used SoM endgame content is the level-scaling SoA content, the Great Barrows coming in #1. Which is kind of sad, if the first dungeon in the game is the most popular dungeon at the end of the game. Let’s hope things go well in the next update.

: Zubon

13 thoughts on “The Mirkwood Endgame”

  1. Yeah. But have you read the dev diary about the new dungeons/raids?

    The talk about giving more incentives to run the less popular dungeons (he even mentioned the Dungeons of DG as example) misses to address/fix the reason WHY they are unpopular. Instead the plan seems to be to offer more rewards for running unpopular dungeons.

    1. Yes. I would characterize their plan differently: they are not increasing the rewards for running less popular dungeons, just decreasing the rewards for repeating the popular ones. And it is not retroactive, so Dungeons of DG still languishes.

      1. You said it. The way for the new dungeons is to run every dungeon once till the reward timer resets.

  2. DN is a fun dungeon, has good rewards (the armour sets are good for almost all classes, and will be very popular after the removal of radiance – although not as popular as the original 6-piece Moria set, and the jewellery is still some of teh best available) and isn’t too difficult (assuming you don’t try to do The Blind One in Hard Mode). it will still be run after the update, as will The Watcher (for the 6/6 Moria sets, the Treasury Stone and the Black Pearl).

    BG, on the other hand, has terrible rewards: the only value of the armour set is the radiance stat; post-removal of radiance, there will be many BG sets either vendored or put into wardrobes (and yet the BG set is nominally lvl 65, and the Watcher and DN sets only lvl 60…). a few champs will claim they’ll keep their BG pieces; but no-one else. the jewellery is all sub-standard (or situationally-useful, to use the current euphemism for ‘rubbish’); and the only really obvious improvement from BG is off-hand weapons – hardly a compelling reason to go there.

    add to the fact that it’s a difficult instance, unforgiving, and giving absolutely nothing in rewards, and it will be completely deserted post-update. in fact, it’s completely deserted now: my raiding group has been on hiatus essentially since the update instances hit the beta servers: they’re *so* much better than BG, with better rewards, that it’s ridiculous. and my raiding group is not the only inactive one i know of: there is no incentive to run BG, so no-one apart from a few of the dedicated raiding kins are running it.

    as for the gating of the new instances: initially i was also outraged by it, but now i’m thinking: yeah, it *will* stop ppl farming only the easiest instances, and even if they’re exploitable (like Hele now >< or the Moria 6-person instances were at launch) at least they'll only be exploitable twice per week.

    the gating means that i've got almost *no* chance of getting a full set of the new Tier 2 armour on my main prior to Rise of Isengard – which is a bit rubbish – but if the gating means the effects of the inevitable exploits are minimised, i'll be reasonably happy with it nonetheless.

  3. Having took most of last year off, I’m quite behind on my instances. I routinely lead Grand Stair runs, which is the easiest to get groups for. I love all the Moria 6-mans. Yes, even Dark Delvings. I’ve only had the opportunity to walk into the Watcher once on my Lore-master and that was a wipe. Ironically, even though the radiance requirement for Watcher isn’t that high, I have several raids already lined up for it post-Update 2…

    Off the top of my head I don’t think I’ve done any of the Lothlorien instances whatsoever. I badly want the DN set, if nothing than for cosmetics. Removing radiance will hopefully open that up for seeing groups more often.

    Mirkwood? I recall doing Sword Halls a few times on my LM but despite repeated (G)LFF spamming have only managed to get a single Warg Pens group recently on my Warden. I have had him in Hall of Crafting a few times; I really enjoy that.

    Along with the new Enedwaith content — which I’m not sure is going to go over well with its new limited reward system and increased arcade-style difficulty — Turbine really needs to get off their butts and address the less-popular instances. Find out *why* they are less-popular and do something to fix the problem rather than sweeping it under the rug and simply offering more candy.

  4. I agree that SG is a great instance, one of my favorites in the game.

    My concern about the new instances is that they seem tied to the new store exclusive consumables. The coming update seems tied entirely to increasing store sales.

    I am saving my final judgement about the LotRO f2p conversion until the next expansion launches…but as things stand now LotRO is the most expensive subscription game on the market.

      1. Check out the Bullroarer forums on the community site. What it boils down to is lots of add’l charges to fully participate in the end game, specifically regarding consumables and the LI system…but also travel as well.

        1. This is only conceivably the case if your definition of “fully participate” is wayyyyy off the charts.

          The only point of controversy I can see is that you can’t unslot relics at decon without the store now, but that’s by all accounts offset by the fact that the other changes to the system mean you really don’t need to.

          There are still the “op” consumables available in the store, but again, they’ve never been necessary.

          And travel is a flat out non-issue for endgame, given the instance join panel literally removes the requirement for you to travel anywhere.

          So again, wheres the connection, let alone dependency, between “end game” and the store?

          1. Ah. I just learned about the new even more op store pots. That is indeed a brow-furrower, my apologies. The rest of my points stand in the meantime. :\

  5. Also as to why Great Barrows is once again the most popular? Three of them are fairly quick and straight-forward ways to get Superior Third Marks, while if you can successfully pull off a Survival run, that’s a few thousand standard Skirmish Marks. A few Annuminas or Helegrod runs later and you’ve got yourself a new piece or two of those armours.

    It’s not the content itself, in those cases, it’s just that it’s the easiest way get Superior Thirds to barter.

    Personally I don’t like the 3-man’s that give those. School and Library — I just don’t have fun in them.

    As to the new instances being tied to the Store? No idea; I can’t be bothered with all the min/maxing and the meta-gaming anymore. When it comes out, fine I’ll look into it. If, in fact, it becomes *reliant* on the Store then players have the choice of voting with their wallets to institute a change. However, I have faith that my lack of faith in the average MMO community will see everyone complaining about it in places it won’t matter, such as GLFF or blogs, but all the while buying up Turbine Points and consumables.

    1. The way to get Helegrod armor is indeed to run the School, Library and Barrows to get Superior Marks, and just to “farm” the Helegrod daily quest tokens.

      I have only read about the new instances. I hope they are fun and rewarding.

      So that I will like to run them for the sake of playing them, not because of the “do every instance once per week for max rewards” mechanic.

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