Helm’s Deep: Warg Changes

What does Helm’s Deep have in-store for wargs? Well the beta NDA has been lifted so we can finally take a peek at the Helm’s Deep warg …

… but first a few notes. First of all it is important to note that whilst the information below is accurate as of the current beta build (Build 5), beta is still ongoing. As such the information presented here may change before Helm’s Deep launches. Secondly, the list of changes below is just that, a list. I will go into more detail and offer commentary and opinion on these changes in subsequent posts.

Corruptions

The corruption system has received two major changes: creeps will now have twelve corruption slots and ratings based corruptions now have set-bonuses. The set-bonuses are as follows:

Critical Protection Boost

+2,246.4 critical defence per corruption

3-set bonus: +4,492.8 critical defence

6-set bonus: On every harmful skill, targeted at you, On Critical Hit: 442 Damage Cooldown: 30s

Critical Rating Boost

+1,919 critical rating per corruption

3-set bonus: +3,838 critical rating

6-set bonus: After every kill Apply to the target: Restores 10% of maximum Morale Blood Thirst: Upon Killing an enemy, receive 10% of max health

Mastery Boost

+1,520 physical & tactical mastery per corruption

3-set bonus: +3,040 physical & tactical mastery

6-set bonus: On every harmful skill, 30% chance to -100% power Cost Expires if out of combat for 9 seconds

Physical Mitigation Boost

+855.5 physical mitigation per corruption

3-set bonus: +855.5 physical mitigation

6-set bonus: On every Harmful skill, Targeted at you, 10% chance to Increase damage and healing by 5% Duration: 10s Cooldown 10s

Resistance Boost

+1,140 resistance rating

3-set bonus: +2,280 resistance rating

6-set bonus: On every Harmful skill, Targeted at you, 10% chance to Contextual skill that cleanses all harmful effects on self. Does not include Combat states. Expires if out of combat for 9 seconds

Tactical Mitigation Boost

+855.5 tactical mitigation

3-set bonus: +855.5 tactical mitigation

6-set bonus: On any damage: 10% chance to Receive effect: Restores 2% of maximum Power

Warg Skill & Trait Changes

The following skills have had their cooldowns reduced:

Eye Rake - cooldown reduced from 15 sec to 8 sec
Dire Howl/Howl from the Shadow/Howl of Aggression - cooldown reduced from 5 min to 1 min
Disappear/Topple - cooldown reduced from 5 min to 3 min
Flea Bitten - cooldown reduced from 45 sec to 25 sec
Frenzy - cooldown reduced from 1min 30 sec to 40 sec
Howl of Unnerving - cooldown reduced from 1 min to 20 sec
Pack Hunters/Shadow Pack/Pack Flayer - cooldown reduced from 30 sec to 15 sec
Piercing Claws - cooldown reduced from 20 sec to 10 sec
Rabid Bite - cooldown reduced from 20 sec to 10 sec
Rallying Howl - cooldown reduced from 30 sec to 15 sec
Scratch and Snip - cooldown reduced from 30 sec to 15 sec
Snap/Snap! - cooldown reduced from 1 min to 25 sec
Sprint - cooldown reduced from 5 min to 3 min
Swipe - cooldown reduced from 20 sec to 10 sec
Tendon Shred - cooldown reduced from 5 min to 3 min
Throat Rip/Muscle Tear - cooldown reduced from 1 min to 20 sec

In addition the following traits have been modified:

Enhanced Skill: Disappear - now reduces the cooldown of Disappear/Topple by 90 sec
Enhanced Skill: Sprint - now reduces the cooldown of Sprint by 90 sec

Skill Types

All warg skills are now either fast or immediate skills.

Damage Types

A new damage type has been introduced for wargs called Fell-wrought Damage. This new damage type replaces Common Damage as the default damage type for wargs. Wargs can still use the Shadow Fang trait to change their damage type to Shadow Damage.

Damage Increase

As part of a general increase in damage for all creeps wargs have had their base damage increased by approximately 30%.

The White Warg

thewhitewarg

Recently I found myself  speaking with some friends about the white warg and it occurred to me that this is a little piece of Ettenmoors history that no longer exists. Newer wargs may not even know what the white warg was. Well I am going to tell you in an effort to preserve this slice of PvMP history.

The white warg refers to wargs using the rank 8 appearance. It is the first of the white coloured warg appearances and the only one available until rank eleven. I can hear you ask the obvious question “I thought you said it no longer exists?”. It doesn’t. Yes the appearance is still there, but the white warg was more than just the appearance, it was a symbol of achievement.

‘Back in the day’, so to speak, ranking wasn’t as fast as it is now. When LOTRO was first launched rank 5 was considered to be a fairly high rank given that it could take some players anywhere from weeks to months to achieve it. Infamy gains were lower and creeps were much weaker than they are now ( yes I am being serious with that last point!). All told it took a fair bit of time and effort to get your ranks. A blue rank back then was considered to be fairly high ranked. There were few green ranked creeps when compared with the present, and even fewer purple ranked creeps. Thus rank 8 was a prestigious rank and the ‘badge of office’ for a rank 8 warg was the white appearance.

When a white warg appeared a freep knew that he was facing someone with experience under his belt and someone who could pose a challenge. It wasn’t just a nice looking cosmetic appearance, it was a sign that the freep was facing a tough opponent. The white warg had meaning to it.

Fast forward to today and a creep can quite easily go from rank 0 to rank 5 in a single night. Rank 8 can be achieved in a couple of weeks. Rank 12 in three or four months. With ranking having become so fast the meaning attached to higher ranks has diminished and even the definition of what constitutes a high rank has changed. Rank 8 is no longer particularly special and whilst that white furred appearance is still great looking, that is sadly all it is now. The white warg is no more.

Video: Warg Herd

I have posted this before, but I had forgotten about it and only just came across it again and I thought it was worth sharing again. The sole reason for posting this video is the sheer number of wargs involved. Seriously I have never seen so many wargs in one place; presumably there was some event on. The EC scene at 1:32 shows just how many wargs were there; when you think they are all inside more keep pouring in!

Freeps: Easiest To Hardest

People have been asking me how this class or that class fares against a warg so I thought I would compile a list of the freep classes and rank them from easiest to hardest to beat for a warg. I should mention that I am not a fan of making generalisations and this list is a generalisation because each player is different and will offer a different level of challenge. For example, Burger A might be complete shit whilst Burger B only has to give you a dirty look to defeat you. Nevertheless some may find this useful so without further ado let’s look at the list.

Captain – Shock, the Hunter isn’t the easiest class for a warg to beat! The Captain’s generally low dps just isn’t up to the task of taking us down quickly.

Hunter – The whipping boy of the Ettenmoors! A Hunter stands a good chance of beating a warg if they get the jump on the warg. If. Chances are though that the warg will get the jump on the Hunter and with limited melee damage and lacklustre panic buttons most Hunters just keel over.

Burger – Our halfwitted stealthy cousins are not in terribly good shape at the moment. They do have half decent damage output, but against a Shadow warg their survival options are limited so they often don’t survive long enough to bring their damage to bear and against a Flayer warg they often can’t last the distance. The more competent amongst them are still dangerous though.

Guardian – Guardians can still pose a problem for a warg, but they aren’t as strong as they once were. The only reason I am ranking them above the Burger is due to their better survivability. They can usually last long enough to stack enough bleeds on a warg to get a kill. They may or may not die themselves in the process.

Rune-keeper – Now things are getting difficult. You really only get one shot at a Rune-keeper; either you burn them down very quickly or you loose the kill (and possibly get killed yourself). Great self-heals combined with a very high damage output means that most Rune-keepers can finish off a warg with relative ease.

Minstrel – The Minstrel has enough self-healing to negate our damage and they have enough damage of their own to burn us down. It isn’t impossible for a high ranked warg to beat a Minstrel although it will be tough, but most wargs probably won’t fare very well.

Champion – This is a very tough fight for a warg. The Champion has so much survivability and damage that defeating one in a 1vs1 situation is a very tall order. It isn’t that a warg can’t burn their morale down quickly enough, it is more that they can keep popping bubbles or heals to get back on their feet and their own high damage output means that the warg will soon find his own morale disappearing.

Warden – We have now reached the point where you are more often than not better off just not bothering even attacking at all. A Warden setup for survivability is, simply put, nigh on impossible for a warg to kill. The Warden might not burn the warg down quickly, but he will outlast you and he will slowly, but surely, wear the warg down. A Warden setup for damage is a lot squishier and a warg stands a decent chance of burning the Warden down … except that you probably won’t survive long enough to do that due to the Warden’s incredibly potent bleed damage. The chances are that the warg will be dead very quickly, even in Flayer.

Lore-masters – I don’t often throw around the term ‘gods amongst men’, but in the case of the Lore-master it is appropriate. There is nothing a warg can do to seriously threaten a Lore-master.  The Lore-master’s abilities effectively negate our debuffs, our CC and our damage. The Lore-master’s own damage is extremely potent and a warg can find himself dead very quickly. In short there is little point in even thinking about taking on a Lore-master.

Note: Rankings are current as of September 2013. Ranking assumes both players are equally skilled and that the freep has relatively good equipment.

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Stealth But Were Afraid To Ask

I have been meaning to write a guide on how stealth works for some time now, but I could never seem to get around to it. Until now. Stealth is such a basic part of our gameplay that it is vital that every wargs knows exactly how it works so that they can avoid common mistakes and best use it to their advantage.

What Is Stealth?

On a basic stealth when a warg activates their stealth skill it does two important things. The first, and most obvious, of these is to make the warg invisible to everyone, friend as well as foe. Only players in the same fellowship/raid as the warg will be able to see him without actually going out of their way to spot him. The second thing activating stealth does is to put the warg into a special ‘stealthed’ state that causes some of our abilities to be modified, but more on that later.

Whilst stealth is active a warg can move around the map and is treated as if he were completely invisible. In other words unless the warg is somehow spotted enemies, and friends, cannot see him at all. That also applies to sound effects; other players will not hear you splashing through water and so on. Other creep players can see any emotes the warg performs in the relevant chat channels, but they cannot physically see the warg himself.

Stealth Level

When a warg enters stealth he is assigned a ‘stealth level’. This is a rating that is equal to the warg’s actual level e.g. a level 85 warg will have a stealth level of 85. There are traits that can increase this stealth level rating e.g. Enhanced Skill: Stealth increases a warg’s stealth level by four points.

On the other side of the coin every player character, creep or freep, as well as every NPC and pet, has a stealth detection rating too. This works similarly to stealth level in that it is equal to the actual level of the player or NPC. For example, a level 20 player has a stealth detection rating of 20 whilst a level 85 NPC has a stealth detection rating of 85.

Spotting Wargs In Stealth

So how does a warg get spotted whilst in stealth? Well it is pretty straightforward really. Whenever a warg gets close enough to another player or NPC the game makes a contested ‘roll’ between the two parties. The contest is between the warg’s stealth level and the other player’s stealth detection rating. If the warg wins the contest he remains unseen. If the other player/NPC wins the contest he spots the warg. However, even if the warg is spotted the warg remains in stealth until he is attacked or voluntarily drops stealth himself. It is just that he can now be seen by the particular player/NPC that spotted him, but no one else.

There are different things that affect the chance of being spotted in stealth and it is worth going through them here:

  • Position – A warg is less likely to be spotted when behind someone and more likely to be spotted when in front of them. Thus when a warg is trying to sneak past someone it is always best to try and remain behind them rather than moving in front of them.
  • Distance – The closer a warg is to someone else the greater the chance of the other person spotting the warg. If the warg is right next to someone else there is a good chance that the warg will be spotted.
  • Movement – Remaining still reduces the chance of being spotted whilst in stealth, even if someone else passes right through you. On the other hand moving around a lot will increase the chance of a warg being spotted in stealth, especially if the warg is moving close to the other person.
  • Speed – In conjunction with being close to someone else a warg who is moving slowly is more likely to be spotted. This is simply because the warg is moving so slowly that they effectively remain close to the other person for longer. A warg who is close to someone else, but who moves past quickly enough has less chance of being spotted because they remain close to the other person for a shorter period of time.
  • Stealth Detection Boosts – Some creep and freep classes have the ability to enhance their stealth detection ratings. For example, Lore-masters can increase their stealth detection rating by up to +5. They will be more likely to spot a stealthed warg when using such an ability.
  • Stealth Level Boosts – There are traits that increase a warg’s stealth level. Using these traits will make the warg harder to spot.

Disappear

The Disappear skill immediately puts a warg into stealth, even in combat. Furthermore this stealth cannot be broken by damage for 10sec and it also makes the warg extremely hard to detect. In game play terms the warg is given +10 stealth level for 10sec.

Tracks

Stealth does absolutely nothing to prevent a warg from being tracked by a Hunter (or a freep using store bought trackers). Dropping stealth and then re-activating will nullify a track, but stealth itself cannot prevent a warg from being tracked. For more information on tracking please see this post.

The Laurelin Build

Despite the fact that creeps as a whole are pretty constrained in their build choices there seems to be no end of debate over what is the best setup for a warg. This discussion seems to intensify when it focuses on the best setup for dps. I have covered damage builds before of course, but here I am going to share another build with you that I have recently started using myself. If you are wondering why I am calling it the Laurelin Build it is simply because a number of us on Laurelin are now using this build.

Corruptions

This is the meat of this build so let us spend a little time looking at exactly what we will be using. As you can see from the list of corruptions below this is a bit of a hodge podge of corruptions. There is method to the madness though as I shall explain. The following are the corruptions we shall be using:

  • Critical Rating Boost
  • Mastery Boost
  • Mastery Boost
  • Mastery Boost
  • Damage for Power Rank 2
  • Morale for Power Rank 2

So what do we get from this disparate collection of corruptions? Well we get a hefty boost to our base damage from both the mastery corruptions and the rank damage for power corruption. Added to that is the increase in crit chance and crit/dev magnitude from the critical boost corruption. We also get a rather nice 10% max morale boost from the rank 2 morale for power corruption. it is this last corruption that perhaps seems a little out of place in a damage focused build: surely another crit boost or another mastery would be a better choice? No. I’ll tell you why in a bit.

Racial Traits

There isn’t much diversity here of course we will be going with the usual suspects.

  • Pack Alpha
  • Foe of the Light
  • Four Legged Foe
  • Pack Hunters
  • Howl of the Unnerving

Class Traits

Again we see  the old faithful here and as for the rest, well it’s pretty much up to each individual warg to be honest. What you put in the last four slots won’t really have any impact on the damage output of this build so go with what you like best.

  • Enhanced Skill: Stealth
  • Shadow Fang
  • Element of Surprise

Effectiveness

Now we come to the interesting part. You see I carried out some testing on various damage builds and as it turns out this build is pretty much the best balance between damage output and survivability.

Now there are builds that offer higher damage output, for example stacking more crit boosts, but the thing is you end up with relatively little morale and the damage increase over this build isn’t actually all that significant. In fact on a devastating critical with Bestial Claws in Shadow stance the absolute maximum I could get was only hitting 30 points of damage than I could achieve with this build. Yet this build offers around 2,000 more morale than that build (at rank 12).

This was the pattern I saw repeated again and again in testing. Other builds could offer a minor increase in damage over this build, but they were sacrificing a lot of morale to do so. With this build you get close to our top rated damage output, but with a little extra survivability thrown in.

In actually using this build in the field it has so far worked out remarkably well. Furthermore it can be used with Flayer stance to provide a tougher damage dealer, but with reduced damage from Shadow stance obviously. Again this variant has worked pretty well. The key being the relative balance between damage output and the morale boost.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences on this.

LOTRO Store: Warg Starter Bundle

wargstarterbundle

Turbine currently offer a ‘Stalker Starter Bundle’ in the LOTRO Store that aims to give new wargs some skills, traits and corruptions to get them started in PvMP. There is even an exclusive store only appearance thrown in too! I thought it was time to take a look at this starter kit and see whether it was worth investing it for a new warg.

The Price

The first thing that strikes you about this starter kit is the price: 2,995 TP. Ouch! That is a very expensive purchase indeed, especially considering that the warg itself costs 795 TP to unlock as a playable class. Right from the start then the bar has been set high for this starter bundle; it really needs to deliver to justify such a high price tag.

Contents

The bundle contains a variety of skills, traits, corruptions and the exclusive appearance. I have listed the various items below for ease of reference.

Skills

  • Disappear
  • Piercing Claws
  • Shadow Stance

Traits

  • Enhanced Skill: Sprint
  • Enhanced Skill: Disappear
  • Pack Alpha

Corruptions

  • Power for Damage Rank 1
  • Mastery Boost 1
  • Critical Protection Boost 1

Appearance

  • Saddled Mordor Warg Appearance

So just how good is all of this? Well let us start with the skills.

Skills – Overall this is a pretty solid bundle of skills. Disappear is a tremendously useful skill for new wargs because it gives them a much needed survivability boost. Shadow stance is a solid choice too because it instantly boosts a warg’s damage output quite considerably. Piercing Claws is probably the weakest of the three skills here because it can be a bit niche in terms of its usefulness, but even so it is still a good skill to have and provides a new warg with another attack to work into their rotation.

Traits – Again we have a fairly solid selection here. Both the Sprint and Disappear enhancements are very solid traits for a new warg. Brand new wargs are incredibly squishy and these two traits offer a genuine increase to their odds of escaping through the reduced cooldowns they provide to Disappear and Sprint. Pack Alpha is one of our better traits and a very solid choice, even for a new warg, because it provides some much needed increases to stats and again boosts damage output.

Corruptions – Unfortunately the selection of corruptions isn’t as solid as either the skills or traits. For starters we have Power for Damage Rank 1. Simply put a new warg is very unlikely to ever be in a fight long enough to actually run out of power. Furthermore reducing damage output is not a good idea for a new warg because they don’t have much damage output in the first place. The Mastery Boost is a better choice at least and provides a solid bonus to damage output. The Critical Protection boost is best described as ‘meh’. Frankly critical protection doesn’t do a hell of a lot for wargs right now, especially when this is likely to be the only Critical protection Boost the new warg in question is likely to be able to slot.

Appearance – Aesthetics come down to personal preference, beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all that. Each warg will have to decide for himself whether or not he likes the appearance. Personally I rather like it because it is relatively uncommon and because I think it is rather unique looking. I have included some screenshots of the appearance below.

Value

So how good a deal is this package? In terms of the cost alone buying each of the included items separately would cost 3,950 TP. Thus you are saying 955 TP by buying them altogether like this. That doesn’t tell the full story though.

The value of the package will decrease depending upon whether or not you already have some of the included items and how much you like the appearance. It is also worth stressing that the included corruptions really aren’t particularly great, which lessens the value of the package right away. However, if you do not already have the skills and traits included in the package and if you like the appearance then you will still save Turbine Points over buying the items individually even if we ignore the corruptions entirely.

At the end of the day it is up to each warg to decide whether this package is a good fit or not, but it definitely provides a solid start for new wargs and is worth considering at least if you can afford the high price tag.

Video: Zerg or Die

Years ago on my server full raids of wargs were a fairly common sight. The newer wargs amongst you may have never experienced a warg raid before, but the video above will at least give you an idea of how these leviathan packs operated.

There wasn’t really much to it to be honest and the title of the video is very apt: zerg or die. With so many wargs together it really was a case of melting anyone and everyone that the pack came across. That may not sound fun (especially for the freeps), but there was fun to be had from those ‘super packs’. Running around the Ettenmoors and roflstomping anything that came within sight does have a certain charm attached to it.

As ever a quick note about the choice of music … annoying. Like so many of these videos the music is overly dramatic and loud when it doesn’t need to be. That is a minor quibble though as the video offers a great deal of wargs killing freeps, which is always fun to watch. Oh and look out for the treat at the end … that whipping boy of the Moors, the Hunter class, gets a jolly good thrashing.

A Warg’s Tale

A quick heads up to let you all know about a new warg blog: A Warg’s Tale. It is basically the journey of a fresh faced pup straight out of Grams. It can be easy to forget what it is like starting from scratch so for old and new wargs alike this is a good read. Go check it out!