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

Patch Notes

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%.

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Update 10

Update 10 goes live today so I thought it was about time to take a look at what changes are coming our way.

Warg Changes

There aren’t too many warg specific changes coming with Update 10, but even so it is worth taking a look at what there is. First up is a change to Shadow stance’s ICPR bonus, which is being increased to 513.  The warg’s base ICPR value has also been increased to around 1,300 or so. This is being done as part of the wider power changes affecting all classes in the game. It isn’t a massive boost, but a boost is a boost so I’ll take it!

The other major change specific to wargs is the introduction of a new appearance! This will be a store only appearance so you will have to spend Turbine points to acquire it. It comes as part of a ‘starter pack’, which costs 3,000 Turbine points! However, it is available separately for 995 TP. I will go into more detail on the starter pack in a separate post, but for now I have posted a screenshot of the new warg skin below.

Courtesy of Tangaar

Courtesy of Tangaar

General Creep Changes

The two biggest changes are of course the introduction of a brand new corruption and a complete re-working of how brands work.

New Corruption – The new corruption trait is called Critical Rating and it does what it says on the tin, it increases your creep’s critical rating. As with most other corruptions there are six levels of this corruption and you are free to slot as many, or as few, as you wish.

This is a pretty big deal folks. Until now wargs have had no way to increase their critical rating except for Frenzy. These corruptions will now allow us to increase our critical rating, which also increases our critical hit magnitude by the way!

Brands – Brands are being completely re-worked. For starters all rank gated brands from rank 1 -14 will no longer give you any immunity to crowd control effects at all. Instead they will allow you to break free from crowd control effects and as such they will be usable in-combat. The rank 15 brand will work in the exact same manner except that it will also give the player 10sec of crowd control immunity.

As for Mordirith’s Brand that will work in the exact same manner as a rank 15 brand, except that both it and the rank 15 brand will share a cooldown.


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.


Update 9 Combat Changes: Part I

In case you missed it there are big changes coming to the game’s combat mechanics in Update 9. Given how important these changes are it is worth spending a little time looking both at what the changes are as well as how they will impact wargs. In this first part we will be looking at exactly what is changing and then how they will impact wargs in the second part.

What Is Changing?

Several things as it happens, so let’s look at each in turn.

Miss Chance

Simply put there will be no more misses in the game. Up until now only tactical attacks could not miss, but this will now also apply to melee and ranged attacks too. Thus no one will ever see any of their attacks miss, with few exceptions. This is not the same thing as blocking, parrying, evading or resisting an attack; none of those mechanics are changing. Thus it is still possible to block an attack, for example; it is just that players will no longer be able to miss when attacking.

I said there was an exception to this and that is when a player has a debuff that increases their miss chance. All players will start with 0% miss chance. If a debuff is applied that increases a player’s miss chance by 5%, for example, then that player will have a 5% to miss when attacking until the debuff expires.

Inductions & Interrupts

This is where things get really interesting. Both induction knock-back mechanics and interrupts are changing in Update 9.

When a player is performing an induction and you hit them the induction is ‘knocked back’, that is the duration of the induction is extended because of the attack. With Update 9 how this will function is that inductions can only be knocked back once no matter how many times the player performing the induction is hit. This single knock-back will extend the induction by 0.5sec.

In terms of interrupting inductions we see changes here too. For starters interrupting an induction will not only cancel the skill being used, it will also place that skill on cooldown for 4sec before the player can attempt to use it again. For example, if I were to interrupt a Lore-master trying to use Lightning Storm the Lore-master would then have to wait 4sec before he could try using Lightning-storm again.

Because of this change there will be changes made to several interrupt skills on both creep and freepside. This includes changes to our own interrupt skills. The following skills will be changed:

Sudden Pounce/Pounce – cooldown increased from 10sec to 15sec.

Raking Claws Brute Bonus – the existing Brute Bonus will be completely removed and replaced with a new debuff that increases induction times by 50%.

Critical Hits & Damage

The last of the combat changes coming with Update 9 is a big one. At the moment each player has a ‘Critical Hit Avoidance’ rating, which reduces the chance that incoming attacks will be critical or devastating critical hits. Update 9 will change this so that instead of reducing the chance of an attack being a critical hit it will instead reduce the damage of critical hits.

How this works is that when you receive a critical hit from an opponent the amount of damage the critical hit strikes you for is worked as follows:

Critical Damage = base damage of the skill x critical damage multiplier

Once the damage has been worked out you then factor in any defensive measures that will reduce that damage e.g. Audacity, mitigations, etc.

The important part here though is the critical damage multiplier. This is the part of the damage equation that your critical defense rating will modify. For example, a player that has a critical damage multiplier of 50% will increase an attack’s damage by x1.5. That’s the base damage of the skill, the ‘1’ part, plus half again, the 0.5′ part. Now let’s say that your critical defence rating reduces critical damage by 20%. We would then take away 20% of the attack’s critical damage multiplier:

1.5 x 0.2 = 0.3

That means that the critical damage multiplier would be reduced from 1.5 to 1.2 or in percentage terms the attacker’s critical damage multiplier would go from 50% to 20%.

Note: Critical damage multipliers will never be reduced below 1. In other words an attack can never deal less damage than its base value (before mitigations, etc obviously).

What all this means is that you should see more critical hits, but they will be doing less damage than they are right now.

In part two we’ll take a look at how these changes will affect wargs.


Interrupt Changes: Part II

In the last part I looked at what was changing warg wise with the revisions being made to how interrupts work in LOTRO. In this part I am going to focus on how these changes will impact our gameplay.

Inductions Galore!

The changes being made to interrupts will see us unable to interrupt opponents as often as we can at the moment. It naturally follows therefore that opponents will be able to get off more inductions. This is good news for Hunters, and quite frankly it’s about time Hunters had something going for them. However, the likes of Minstrels and Lore-masters are more of a problem, especially their self-healing abilities.

It is already pretty difficult to punch through self-heals given the disproportionate power level that healing enjoys in PvMP at the moment. Even under the current interrupt regime it can be next to impossible at times to break through the likes of a Minstrel’s self-heals as they merrily back-peddle away. I have personally seen a Minstrel self-heal his way through two rank 11 wargs and a rank 8 Blackarrow pounding on him. They simply didn’t have enough oomph to get past the heals. Now with wargs having even fewer interrupts and less frequent usage of their remaining interrupts as well as less frequent stuns this sort of situation will only be exacerbated.

So too our ability to harass healers and other induction classes during raid fights is reduced by these changes. This is one area that wargs were genuinely useful in raid fights, and whilst the situation won’t be dire, it will impact upon our ability to carry out that role.

What Can We Do?

What we always do in the face of nerfs … adapt.

Let’s look at each of the three areas affected and see what can be done to help mitigate the damage coming with Update 9:

Stuns – Our ability to stun using Sudden Pounce/Pounce will be reduced from potentially every 10sec to every 15sec. Remember that this ability doesn’t guarantee a stun, it just has a chance to do so and requires that another skill (Crippling Bite) be used first, all of which makes the nerf even more unpalatable.

There isn’t really much that we can do about this one except to employ Tendon Shred a bit more liberally. Unfortunately Tendon Shred is on a 5min cooldown, but for those of you who were perhaps reluctant to use it before it might be worth pressing into service more. Alternatively teaming up with another warg will of course help to produce more stuns …

Interrupts –  We’re loosing an entire interrupt whilst another is receiving an increase in its cooldown. Fortunately there is a way to offset some of the reduced functionality. At the moment Sudden Pounce/Pounce is on a 10sec cooldown whilst Eye Rake is on a 15sec cooldown. After Update 9 Sudden Pounce/Pounce will be on a 15sec cooldown too. The class trait Enhanced Skill: Eye Rake reduces the cooldown of Eye Rake by 5sec though. That means that using this trait we can have the same cooldowns on these two interrupt abilities as we do currently, only switched around.

Unfortunately Enhanced Skill: Eye Rake is a rank 11 trait so to use this strategy you either need to be rank 11 or get your credit card ready for a store purchase. Either way it means sacrificing an important class trait slot to bring us back up to the functionality we currently have.

Brute Bonus – The current Raking Caws Brute Bonus is disappearing entirely and I’m afraid there is simply no way around this or even a means to help soften the blow. Its replacement is a debuff that will increase the targets induction times by 50%. Frankly this will be next to useless.

Remember that there is only a 5% chance to even apply this effect in the first place (or at best 25% if we want our stealth ability to be on cooldown for 45sec). With those odds the magnitude of the effect is just too low in my opinion. An extra 50% induction time looks rather nice on paper, but most inductions are pretty short so all we will really see from this bonus (assuming it applies) is perhaps an extra 0.5-1sec added onto an induction. With our reduced ability to actually interrupt the extra induction time, short as it is, won’t count for very much. A better option would be to have added something like an incoming healing debuff, for example, if the current Brute Bonus must go


Interrupt Changes: Part I

Update 9 should just be around the corner and it brings with some changes to PvMP. Most of the changes in Update 9 are not out and out PvMP changes, but rather changes to the wider game that will impact PvMP. One of these changes is a biggie … how interrupts work. Before we get into how this will affect PvMP let’s look at what is actually changing.

What’s Changing?

In a nutshell most interrupt skills will be on a longer cooldown than they are at the moment and when an induction is interrupted that skill will be placed on cooldown for 4sec before it can be used again. Specifically for us wargs we will see the cooldown of Sudden Pounce/Pounce extended from 10sec to 15sec and the Raking Claws Brute bonus is being removed entirely and replaced with a new bonus that will extend induction times by 50%.

The Good

There isn’t any.

The Bad

The first change to look at is Sudden Pounce/Pounce. With a 50% increase in the cooldown of this skill our ability to interrupt an opponent will be diminished. Even worse though is the knock on effect that this will have on our CC abilities. Remember that we use this skill to stun opponents so a longer cooldown means fewer stuns. A nerf to our interrupt capacity has the knock on effect, intentional or otherwise, of also nerfing our ability to CC.

The Ugly

Now we come to the really bad news: the Raking Claws Brute Bonus that applies an interrupt to the target is being removed entirely. Yes you read that correctly, it will be completely gone. Instead we gain a new Brute Bonus in the form of a 50% induction time debuff. I’ll have more to say on that in a subsequent post.

The Long & Short Of It

What we are seeing here is essentially a fairly wide ranging nerf for wargs. Not only can we interrupt at a slower pace, but we loose one of our interrupt abilities entirely and we also have one of our stuns nerfed into the bargain for good measure.

Wargs were in a reasonably good place after Update 6 and that continued right through until the present day. The changes brought in with RoR weren’t particularly great for wargs, but then we didn’t need very much. Rather RoR brought the other creep classes, for the most part, into line with the power level that wargs had been enjoying since Update 6. There really wasn’t any need to tinker with wargs in any substantial way, but instead what we have here are a round of nerfs. I understand why interrupt abilities might have had to be altered to fit in with the new interrupt system, but to do so in such a drastic way seems a bit ham handed to me and frankly impacts upon areas that shouldn’t have been touched.

As always we shall adapt, but more of that in part II …