How To: Shadow Howler
Shadow Howler is arguably the star of the show for wargs after the release of the Rise of Isengard expansion so I thought it might be useful to look at the skill and specifically how it should be used. Shadow Howler is a rank 10 skill, which means that before skills could be bought from the LOTRO Store relatively few wargs will have been able to use it. Thus there are likely many wargs who have just bought it and are perhaps a little unsure of how to get the most out of it.
What Is Shadow Howler?
Let’s start by looking at what Shadow Howler actually does. It’s a stance for wargs that increases our damage, our survivability, our defences and bars the use of stealth skills. For the sake of clarity here is a list of its effects:
- +15% damage
- +2025 armour
- +616 tactical mitigation
- 1k morale bubble every 30 sec
- bars the use of stealth skills
What Is It Used For?
Simply put it’s a great skill for just about every situation you find yourself in. In a 1vs1 situation it will significantly increase your survivability meaning you can take a bigger pounding from freeps whilst also boosting your damage, meaning you can hit them harder.
In a raid situation with visibles it makes us semi-useful for a change. Shadow Howler isn’t going to let you act like a Reaver or a Warleader, but it will allow you to hang in a raid fight a little bit longer and actually participate in more of the battles.
In a pack situation you might find that you don’t need to use Shadow Howler very often if the pack is taking down single targets and they are dying quickly. However, in situations where the pack is fighting a group of freeps Shadow Howler will function similar to a raid situation in that it will allow you to hang in the fight longer whilst being able to burn the freeps down a little quicker.
How Do I use It?
There are two basic approaches to using Shadow Howler:
- Start the fight with Shadow Howler active
- Start the fight in stealth and then activate Shadow Howler
Starting With Shadow Howler Active
Starting the fight with Shadow Howler active has one main advantage for you in that it means you don’t need to waste the precious seconds necessary to activate it. It also means that you are hitting 15% harder right from the start of the fight. However, there is a big disadvantage to this approach, which is that the freeps can see you coming because you will be out of stealth.
I would really only recommend starting a fight in Shadow Howler in situations such as raids. There you will have plenty of backup and stealth isn’t such an important factor for you. The freeps will likely be targeting other creeps anyway and of course as soon as you are in combat stealth can’t be activated anyway until you manage to get back out of combat.
Starting From Stealth
That leaves us with starting a fight in stealth and then activating Shadow Howler once the fight has begun. This should be the default approach in my opinion as it gives you the greatest versatility. You gain the advantage of the freep not being able to see you coming as well as being able to stun them for 5 sec by using Pounce from stealth.
Now this is where we run into a little problem because you really want to activate Shadow Howler as soon as you possible can once the fight has begun so that you gain the extra damage as quickly as possible, but also to make sure that once the freep starts hitting you they are having to burn through your morale bubble and deal with your increased mitigations. The thing is though Shadow Howler, whilst having no induction, does have an animation that takes a couple of seconds to play out. That might not seem like much, but remember the freep is only stunned for 5 sec and a 2 sec animation is 40% of that stun, which is time you could be using to do damage from behind.
Fortunately there is a little trick that we can use to get around this problem … Eye Rake! Eye Rake is an ‘Immediate’ skill, which means that it fires off as soon as you use it, breaking any other actions you were performing, including Shadow Howler’s animation! Thus after you stun the freep and activate Shadow Howler hit Eye Rake and whilst Shadow Howler is activating you get a hit in with Eye Rake, all in the same space of time!
Shadow Howler definitely makes us stronger, but it does have its limits an they’re important to know ifyou want to get full use out of the stance.
For starters you won’t be able to use any stealth skill whilst Shadow Howler is active. So even if you get out of combat you can’t re-stealth unless you drop Shadow Howler stance. It also means that you won’t be able to use Disappear either unless you drop Shadow Howler. It may seem simple enough to drop Shadow Howler to enter stealth, but remember that Shadow Howler is on a 30 sec cooldown so try not to drop it if you think you might need to activate it again in a moment or two. This is especially true in raid situations where waiting 30 sec to re-activate it could prove fatal.
Another point to consider is that whilst Shadow Howler boosts our survivability it doesn’t turn us into tanks. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can take on huge odds just because you have Shadow Howler active, it gives us a boost; it doesn’t make us invincible. Still use your usual caution when dealing with freeps because they can still hit you very hard.
One additional use for Shadow Howler is as an escape tool. Because Shadow Howler can be used both in-combat and whilst moving it means that it can be used in a pinch if you are being pursued and have neither Disappear or Sprint available. The increased armour value plus the morale bubble might just buy you enough time to make it to friendly forces, but of course that’s not a guarantee. Still when you have no other option it’s better than nothing.
It’s also worth remembering that if you have managed to escape from the freeps, but have a few DoTs ticking on you, which might kill you, activating Shadow Howler will give you the 1k morale bubble, which will absorb the DoT damage. Again it’s not a guarantee of survival, but it’s effectively the same as activating a 1k morale pot.