A Guide for the Student on the Ways and Means of the Warg and the Stalking of Prey

Opinion

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.


Perfect Imbalance

I came across a most interesting video on the official forums and I thought I would share it with you here. What is so interesting about it is that the ideas it espouses could fit LOTRO’s PvP setup so well. I am not going to say too much about the concept at the moment (I will later), but for just now take a look and have a think about the idea of perfect imbalance.


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.


Critical Rating Boost: Part I

Update 10 sees the introduction of a new corruption for creeps: Critical Rating Boost. This corruption increases your critical rating, which means that both your critical hit and devastating critical hit chances are increased, and also the magnitude of those hits.

Since these corruptions present wargs with a brand new setup I am going to spend a little time looking at how we might best use these new corruptions.

What Do The Corruptions Do?

Each of these corruptions provides a bonus of +1,717 critical rating. Thus with all 6 slotted the total bonus would be +10.302.

That is a fairly significant bonus. So much so in fact that with just 5 of them slotted your warg will almost be at the cap for critical hit and at the cap itself for devastating critical hit chance i.e. 24.9% and 10% respectively. Five of these corruptions will also mean that your critical and devastating critical magnitude is increased by 34.3%.

Slotting all 6 of these corruptions will push you to the cap for critical hit chance (25%) and increase your critical and devastating critical magnitude bonus to 37.1%.

In short these corruptions provide a means for wargs to adopt a full on crit build!

How Should I Use These Corruptions?

I will be posting some specific builds using these new corruptions in due course, but for now let’s take a more general view of how these corruptions can be used.

Previously a warg wanting to do maximum damage would have to slot either all six Mastery corruptions or 5 Mastery corruptions and Damage for Power rank 2. It is therefore tempting to assume that slotting all 6 Critical Rating Boost corruptions will be a similar build in terms of outputting lots of damage. That is a dangerous assumption to make though because the fact of the matter is that there simply hasn’t been any testing done to see how such a build performs on the Live servers.

From what I have gathered so far though the following seems to be holding true:

  • A full crit build i.ee all 6 Critical Rating Boost corruptions doesn’t provide a noticeable increase in dps over a full damage build i.e. 6 Mastery corruptions. This is due to the fact that even though critical magnitude goes up, the base damage goes down and in the end it seems to (approximately) even out.
  • A ‘half and half’ build i.e. 3 Critical Rating Boost corruptions and 3 Mastery corruptions provides an increase in dps over a full damage build i.e. 6 Mastery corruptions. This is due to maintaining a decent level of base damage and coupling it with an increase in crit magnitude (and critical hit rate of course!).

So the obvious solution is to use 3 Critical Rating Boost corruptions and 3 Mastery corruptions, right? Yes, and no. As I said above there simply hasn’t been any testing done with this on the Live servers in real PvMP. That means that we simply don’t know how any of this will work out in practice. The best advice anyone can give you at the moment is to go and try it out for yourself and see what works and what doesn’t. I will of course be doing that myself as soon as I can and reporting back so stay tuned!


Update 9 Combat Changes: Part III

To wrap this series of posts up I thought it might be wise to spend a few moments looking at the overall picture of these combat changes. The forums contain some lively debate on the subject, as you might expect, and various issues and questions have been raised concerning the changes. Here I will give my take on some of those issues.

Why?

It’s a simple enough question: why are these changes being made? Different explanations have been given on the forums, but one theme has surfaced again and again. It’s PvMP driven. This has predictably caused something of a backlash amongst those who think that PvMP is the work of the devil and that PvMPers should be seen and not heard. I would offer a different view.

For one thing I don’t think you can take all these changes as a single entity with a single reason behind them for their implementation. For example, the changes being made to how interrupts work could very well be the result of a desire on the part of the devs to make interrupt mechanics work better in the PVE game rather than players negating such mechanics through simply spamming short cooldown interrupt skills. So too the critical damage changes may come from a desire to make the mechanic as a whole less based on chance and more reliable in terms of allowing players to setup their characters around a consistent mechanic.

The point I am making here is that I think it’s too simplistic to point at one source and say ‘That’s why!”.

Are They Needed?

Yes and no. On the one hand induction based classes have suffered for a long time in PvMP, notably Hunters and Lore-masters. There did need to be something to make inductions a bit more reliable, however, I think the changes we see coming to inductions and interrupts take it too far. They also have the knock on effect of making self-healing even more powerful than it already is and in seeing unrelated areas, such as warg’s crowd control abilities, being nerfed.

The critical damage changes are very interesting for me because this is one area where a number of people have criticised PvMP. Long term players will no doubt remember the days of Rune-keepers ‘one shotting’ creeps and will probably be glad of these changes. On the other hand classes that rely on high spike damage may not be so keen. As I have said before this is a set of changes that will need time to settle down before we get a better view of how they will play out.

The changes to miss chance are at least something most people will welcome. It’s not fun to have skills fail, through whatever mechanic, and making skill usage more consistent and reliable is a good thing for all players.

How Will These Changes Affect Balance?

That is a very big question and one I can’t possibly hope to answer here. Nevertheless we can speculate a little with regards to broad trends.

The big winners from these changes are induction based classes. In terms of both attacking and healing inductions gain a significant boost with these changes. Self-healing, which is already very potent, will probably become even more so due to a diminished ability across the board to interrupt or knock-back such abilities. So too induction based attacks should be more reliable now, and maybe Hunters might even see a small boost with more consistent attacks, more critical hits and fewer interruptions.

It is of course impossible to accurately predict how these changes will play out so we will simply have to wait and see and hope for the best.


Update 9 Combat Changes: Part II

In the last part we looked at the various combat changes coming with Update 9. In this part we will be looking at how these changes will affect the gameplay of everyone’s favourite creeps … wargs! I highly recommend that you read part one before reading this article so that you understand what these changes are.

Miss Chance

The changes being brought in here don’t really affect us in an appreciably different manner to any other class. The most obvious change we will see if more of our attacks actually hitting freeps since we will no longer be able to miss (unless we are debuffed). There is a little extra advantage here for us though due to how Shadow stance works. Because some of our attacks in Shadow stance can’t be blocked, parried or evaded e.g. Bestial Claws this will mean that such attacks are almost guaranteed to hit every single time. These attacks pretty much hit all the time anyway, but by no longer having the chance to miss either we gain a little boost.

Of course this change works both ways and we will also see ourselves being hit more by freeps.

Summary: Overall neither a buff nor a nerf for wargs. If anything wargs gain a slight boost from this change, but it isn’t going to have any major effect on our existing gameplay.

Inductions & Interrupts

The changes being made to induction and interrupts are quite frankly a awful for wargs. That may sound alarmist, but allow me to explain.

For starters inductions will now be essentially impossible to knock-back. Inductions can only be knocked back once and even that will only add an extra 0.5sec to the duration of the induction. This will make dealing with self-healing classes, for example Minstrels or Lore-masters, a lot more difficult than it is right now, which is saying something.

The changes to interrupts are even worse for wargs. For starters we are not only loosing one of our interrupts entirely, we are also seeing another one have its cooldown increased by 50%. This increase in Sudden Pounce/Pounce’s cooldown is particularly bad because this skill isn’t just an interrupt, it also functions as a stun as well as a combat opener. What we have here is a very firm nerf for not only our ability to interrupt, but also our ability to perform crowd control.

The removal of the Raking Claws Brute Bonus is another serious blow. This skill had a fairly low chance of activating (5% base or 25% enhanced) and because of that the power level of the skill had a check placed upon it. It was a useful skill to employ against self-healing classes who can effectively negate your damage through the extremely high potency that healing currently enjoys in PvMP. This potency makes fighting classes with good self-healing abilities very problematic for wargs and being able to interrupt their inductions would at least give us a chance against them. Unfortunately the replacement for this Brute Bonus is a debuff that increases induction times by 50%. That might look good on paper, but to be blunt it is next to useless. Most inductions are in the order of 2sec or less so at best we will mostly see an extra 0.5-1sec added to an induction. That is of course if the effect even procs at all considering the low chance of it doing so. For an effect with a 5% chance to apply this debuff feels remarkably weak.

The one bright spot in all of this is that when we do interrupt an induction that induction won’t be immediately available again. Even so the induction will be available again after 4sec and with our reduced ability to interrupt the chances are that we won’t be putting very many skills on that 4sec cooldown.

Note: We can regain some of our interrupt functionality by using the trait Enhanced Skill: Eye Rake. This will mean that we once again have two interrupts available on a 10sec and 15sec coodlown. However, it is a rank 11 trait so you will either need the appropriate rank or have to spend Turbine Points in order to use it. It also means sacrificing a valuable class trait slot simply to restore some of our current functionality and those slot are always in high demand. Lastly this tactic will of course do nothing about the fact that we are also loosing one of our interrupt skills entirely.

Summary: Unfortunately the changes here are an out and out nerf for wargs, particularly when dealing with classes that have significant self-healing abilities. It could already be a stretch to deal with classes effectively and these changes will only exacerbate this particular area of existing imbalance. It’s a double blow that we are also seeing our crowd abilities being nerfed into the bargain.

Critical Hits & Damage

The changes here are something of a mixed bag. On the one hand we will be able to land more critical hits against targets, but on the other our critical hits will deal less damage. This probably won’t matter too much in Flayer stance given that the usual approach when using Flayer isn’t to burn targets down quickly. However, for Shadow stance it may prove to be a different story. Using Shadow stance the aim is usually to burn targets down as quickly as possible to compensate for our inherent lack of survivability in that stance. Depending upon how much our critical damage is reduced by the balance between damage and survivability may be thrown off.

The other factor to consider here is that we will be subject to more critical hits ourselves. Again this looks to be something of a mixed bag. On the one hand taking more critical hits is obviously a bad thing, but if we see fewer ‘mega crits’ from the likes of Rune-keepers, etc then this could prove to be a genuine boost for our survivability. Of course that will depend upon how many Critical Protection Boost corruptions you slot. This will probably require some testing to get a fuller idea of how much this will affect our survivability.

Summary: It’s hard to say how good or bad these changes are at the moment. There is the potential for it to go either way for wargs, either with our survivability being improved our our damage being diminished. We will probably have to wait and see how these particular changes bed down first before we can get an accurate sense of how they are impacting our gameplay.


The Ettenmoors: Post RoR

The various PvMP changes that RoR brought have had a month or two to be din so I thought it might be time to take a look at how the Ettens has shaped up since RoR launched. A few notes before we get into it: i) these observations are based off my own server, your mileage may vary ii) these are my opinions, again your mileage may vary and of course you are free to comment below to tell me how wrong I am.

Landscape Changes

For the most part I think the landscape changes have proven reasonably successful in that fights are now spreading out across the map a little more. Whereas before the vast bulk of the action was contained in the area around Tol Ascarnen with the occasional foray towards TR and LC there are now fights at the various outposts and I’ve seen Lug come into the picture a bit more too. The changes made to DoF have also meant that the occasional scuffle breaks out down there too.

On a less positive note the old EC/OC shuffle seems to have been replaced by a TR GY/GV shuffle. More on that later.

Outposts

On the one hand the damage buffs associated with the outposts have certainly made them something to be fought over! That was the intention of the buff and in that regard it has worked beautifully. Unfortunately it has also led to the usual moaning that such and such a side has too many, etc and that that is imbalanced. I think this is more down to some players simply not having adapted to the reality of the situation.

Trying to use a raid to capture and hold the outposts is both impractical and missing the point. The outposts are designed to be taken by small groups and each side would be better placed in treating them as such. Using the stragglers or loose cannons or even small contingents from the main raid to capture and re-capture outposts is probably the way to go.

As for the buffs themselves I don’t personally feel they are overpowering, whether I have more or less of them than the other side. They do make a difference of course, but so far I haven’t felt that they overwhelmingly tip the balance towards one side as long as the side without them is on the ball. Of course there is always the option of getting a quick group together, even just 2 or 3 people, to re-take one or two of them.

Class Balance

This is something I have been pretty pleased with. On creep side there seems to be a much better overall balance in numbers between the different classes. There is still a good sized warg population of course, but there seems to be more of everything else now. Reaver numbers are definitely up as are Weavers, both of which are good to see. What I have found a little odd is that Defiler numbers seem to be up a bit as well. I say that’s odd because Defilers received relatively few changes in RoR compared with Reavers and Weavers.

On the freep side I notice more Lore-masters, no doubt Water-Lore has something to do with that alongside the changes made to induction setbacks. I actually notice a few more Hunters as well now. I still think Hunters are in a bad place, but the changes with RoR seem to have bolstered them, if only slightly.

Freeps

One very curious thing I have noticed is that freeps, and I am speaking in very general terms here, have become more … timid, for lack of a better word. Now that creeps are pretty much on par with freeps it seems that many a freep isn’t quite so bold when stepping into the Ettens … if they step in at all.

GV farms seem to be the order of the day many times now. If not that then many is the freep who holes himself up in a graveyard. Why is this? One can only guess, but I suspect it might have something to do with feeling a little less powerful against creeps now. Of course I have heard various arguments such as “Creeps have all the OPs” or “Creeps have more than us”, etc. However, I have noticed the same sort of behaviour when freeps have the majority, or even all, of the outposts or when their numbers are equal to the creep numbers.

I think it might take a little while for some long-standing freeps to adjust …

Problems

There are still some real problems in PvMP of course. Not the least of these is the lag. Simply out many players are finding it nearly impossible to play due to lag or freezing issues.

Another glaring problem is numbers. I still think there are far too few people taking part in PvMP (although more would necessitate something being done about the lag!). There needs to be easier access for people to get into PvMP a well as more incentive for continuing to take part. That goes for both sides.

The map could also be better optimised. The landscape changes were, for the most part, good, but there is still a lot of ‘wasted’ space in the Ettenmoors that could be put to use.