RoR brought with it a number of changes to the Ettenmoors, but it also brought about some changes to what’s underneath the Ettenmoors too! Now each of the outposts can be used to access the Delving of Fror, along with both EC and OC and of course the two traditional access points at Ost Ringdyr and Dar Gazag. For those of you who may be getting a little confused by the new layout and access points down there in the Delving you are in luck! Thurindos from the official forums has knocked together this map of the new Delving!
There have been some interesting discussions on the official forums since RoR launched as to whether wargs are better or worse off than they were in the ROI days. I’ve been following the discussions and even contributed, but those threads aren’t really the place to lay things out properly for me so I’m going to do that here.
What’s The Problem?
Good question! As far as I can tell the main gripe for some people is that wargs’ damage output hasn’t gone up very much in comparison with the damage increase seen by both freeps and other creeps. Added to that is a perception that wargs didn’t really gain much in the way of new toys compared with other classes.
Both are valid points. Wargs saw a relatively modest increase in their damage output with RoR whereas Reavers got a fairly hefty bump. So too wargs received one new skill and no dramatic revisions to existing skills and traits like Weavers did.
So are wargs screwed?
The basically sums up my position, but I suppose you will be looking for an explanation so here it is.
Wargs might not have received a huge boost in damage, but the fact is that our damage output is actually pretty decent at the moment. In fact wargs, as a class, are very near the top of the creep DPS chart. Reavers did get a big boost to their damage, but they needed that considering how shit their damage output was in ROI.
A warg can still output the damage needed to bring down a freep and that’s what counts. I saw one comment mentioning that when sparring a Reaver a warg couldn’t punch through their self-heals. Er … that’s a spar, doesn’t count for jack shit and why are we even talking about that?
I think part of the misconception in this area arises from the fact that in ROI wargs were head and shoulders above the other creep classes in terms of damage output. There isn’t that same divide now that Reavers are packing a punch. That doesn’t mean we are no longer capable, just that Reavers have stepped up to the bar at long last.
Skills & Traits
The skills and traits front is equally no picture of doom and gloom. There wasn’t a whole lot that wargs actually needed in terms of new abilities, but even so we did still get one: Piercing Claws. I think it’s a pretty decent skill, not mind blowing stuff granted, but a useful addition to our arsenal nonetheless. You can read my thoughts on it here.
Traits is actually an area where we fared really well. The reduction in the base cooldown of both Disappear and Sprint to 5min means we can ditch the enhancement traits for those two skills if we want. That alone is worth the admission price because it opens up two previously locked down class trait slots for us. That’s two whole class trait slots we get to use, not as we need to, but as we want to.
In addition to freeing up trait slots we also came away with a really nice little boost to Rallying Howl. Not only do we now have a heal without having to use up a trait slot, but the traited version increases our damage!
These might not be ‘glamorous’ changes in the way Reavers went from having the shit kicked out of them to actually doing the shit kicking, but they are nevertheless solid changes.
Solo Still Flies
I see nothing in the RoR changes for wargs that makes me think I will no longer be able to viably play solo. If anything my ability to play solo has been enhanced through opening up trait slots, boosts to skills and landscape changes.
Now you might be thinking “That’s all very fine and well for you sitting there at rank 12, but what about lower ranked wargs?” Well what about them? If they are having a hard time playing solo then they should do what just about every other warg has ever done … join a pack and gank some freeps! That’s how we did it in the ‘olden days’ of SoA when playing as a solo creep was tantamount to a death sentence.
In short wargs have everything they need to be successful in solo play, and more besides. Some classes may be tougher to beat now, others maybe easier, and maybe some will be as easy as ever (Hunters I’m looking at you). Wargs aren’t screwed, it’s wargs that do the screwing!
With RoR we got our paws on a new skill: Piercing Claws. It’s a unique skill in some ways and certainly something new for creep side as a whole let alone wargs, but it is also a skill that has engendered a spot of discussion over how useful it actually is Before I get into that let’s take a look at the skill itself first and see what it actually does.
As you can see from the tooltip Piercing Claws is an attack skill that does an amount of damage equal to 5% of your target’s maximum morale e.g. if your target has 10k morale Piercing Claws will hit for 500 shadow damage. Pretty simple stuff. However, note the text highlighted in blue: Bypasses Mitigations. This is a really important part of the skill: Piercing Claws completely ignores all mitigations, including Audacity. That means that it will always hit the target for at least 5% of their maximum morale and more if it crits.
Is It Any Good?
This is the big question of course. Our biggest hitting attack is Bestial Claws so unless Piercing Claws is hitting at least as hard as that skill it isn’t worth using. Right? Not quite.
It is true that Bestial Claws can hit the hardest of all our attacks, however, in some situations Piercing Claws will be able to hit harder. Because the damage is based upon the target’s morale Piercing Claws becomes more useful the more morale our opponent has. In other words it isn’t going to be very useful against classes that typically have 9-12k morale i.e. Minstrels, Hunters, etc. Rather it is more useful against classes such as Guardians and Wardens and perhaps even Champions.
Classes with a lot of morale will of course take more damage from Piercing Claws, but that isn’t the only reason to use it against such classes. Whilst Bestial Claws can hit hard some of its damage is mitigated and obviously more will be mitigated by classes with good mitigations. The fact that Guardians et al typically have high mitigations and lots of morale means that Piercing Claws is doubly useful against them.
When To Use It
Against most opponents there probably won’t be much point in using Piercing Claws truth be told. It is likely only ever going to see use against Wardens, Guardians and perhaps Champions. The 20sec cooldown means that it can’t be spammed, but it can form part of your rotation against these classes and I would imagine that it might take the place of something like Scratch and Snip in such situations. The shorter animation and the fact that it will likely hit for more damage means that it will be a better choice to throw into a rotation.
There remains one last part of the Ettenmoors for us to look at: the Delving of Fror. Now before we get into the specifics let me just state that all of the below is just pure guesswork on my part. The Delving has been underused for so long that it is incredibly difficult to say how the changes in RoR will effect its use. I have tried to make some educated guesses, but ultimately this is just conjecture and speculation.
The Delving in RoR will essentially have two main functions: provide faction wide infamy/renown/commendations bonuses by killing three bosses in the central room of the Delving and act as an underground ‘fast travel’ system for the Ettenmoors.
The first is the easiest to explain. The central room of the Delving will contain three boss NPCs that when killed will give the side that killed them infamy/renown/commendations buffs. The buffs are pretty big so chances are people will actually go and kill these NPCs unlike the current Delving bosses, which see little action. This of course presents opportunities for battles down there.
The ‘fast travel’ system takes a little more explaining, but I’ll try and keep it as short and simple as I can.
The Delving of Fror runs the entire length of the Ettenmoors underground, however, the Delving is a physically smaller space than the Ettenmoors itself. That means that travelling from point A to point B in the Delving is a shorter distance to travel than going from Point A to Point B in the Ettenmoors. That rule doesn’t always hold true, but as a general rule of thumb it helps to illustrate the concept of the Delving acting as a fast travel mechanism.
Each of the outposts, along with both Elf and Orc Camps, will have an access point to the Delving. The two existing access points for the Delving at Dar Gazag and Ost Ringdyr are still present. Each of these access points leads to a specific room in the Delving. This room will be filled with NPCs of whichever faction controls the access point e.g. if River Outpost is controlled by freeps then its corresponding room in the Delving will have freep NPCs. Following that logic Elf and Orc Camps’ Delving rooms will always have their faction’s NPCs in them.
Thus you could enter the Delving from the River Outpost, for example, make your way towards the room for the Isendeep Outpost and exit there. Of course if your exit point is under enemy control then you may get a nasty surprise.
These access points can also be used for escape. For example, if Orc Camp is being overrun by freeps the creeps could flee through the Delving portal. Any freeps who pursue them would run into creep NPCs in that room.
How Can Wargs Use The Delving?
There are three main possibilities I have identified so far for wargs in the Delving:
- Attacking freeps trying to take down the central bosses
- Patrolling the Delving looking for freeps using it as a travel route
- Camping access points waiting for freeps to enter the Delving
The first is pretty straightforward stuff. A freep group trying to take down the bosses might present a warg with an opportunity to pick off someone getting low on morale.
The second is the hardest to predict because we don’t know how much the Delving will be used as a travel mechanism. The Delving does offer the benefit of allowing a freep or a group of freeps to move around the map relatively quickly and unseen. That’s a pretty big incentive to use it, especially for smaller groups. If that turns out to be the case then it could be well worth a warg’s time to patrol the Delving and look for such freeps.
The third point is really an extension of point two. Positioning yourself near a known freep access point e.g. the entrance to the Delving from EC might produce some good results. There will of course be freep NPCs near their access points so you will have to wait for them to move out a bit before attacking, but the theory at least is sound.
As I said above we simply don’t know what impact the new Delving will have on gameplay yet. It’s a part of the Ettenmoors that has been barely used over the years so now that it actually has the potential to have an impact on gameplay it’s difficult to predict what that will be.
My instinct is that it will see more use than it does at the moment, but I suspect that probably won’t become a major hive of activity. Having said that though the bonuses the central bosses give are very tempting so it might end up acting like a sixth keep.
In the last part I took a look at what were likely to be the busiest ambush routes for wargs after the RoR Ettenmoors changes. In this part I will be looking at how the overall landscape changes will affect warg tactics.
The EC-OC Shuffle …
… is gone! Both Elf and Orc Camps have been moved far apart and neither is beside a bridge or keep, etc that contains NPCs one side can use to hide behind to farm the other. That’s not to say it will be impossible to farm either location, just that it won’t be quite so easy or straightforward as it was before. This is great news for wargs because farm sessions at either location usually turned into pew pew fests, something we aren’t designed for.
Instead what we are likely to see is both locations being used either as fall back points or as staging areas for attacks. Both camps are deep in ‘enemy territory’ i.e. they are far from their side’s home base and relatively close to what are perceived to be the opposition’s keeps. Like now they will also provide a point for a side to rally at should the opposing side be in control of a majority, or even all, of the map.
The key point though is distance. Neither of these camps is particularly close to their home base, which means that people will have to travel to reach them. In the case of Elf Camp this will involve a considerable journey for a freep from Glan Vraig. Reaching it from other points won’t be a short walk either. This of course means freeps moving around more and for longer. That means more opportunities for wargs to ambush them!
The outposts now give a faction wide damage bonus when under your side’s control. This makes them really desirable to control, which in turn means lots of fighting over them. The damage bonus they give can be game changing (which it is supposed to be) so your side is really going to want these locations under its control.
This should lead to two important developments for wargs:
- More people, especially smaller groups, moving around the map in an effort to try and take control of outposts
- More fights at outposts between smaller groups
Both of these situations present a great opportunity for wargs to kill freeps Small freep groups moving around the map are a great target for warg packs of course. However, it is the outposts themselves that might give us our greatest opportunity. With small groups fighting over them we have a chance to sneak in and pick off already engaged freeps.
Tol Ascarnen, Lugazag and Tirith Rhaw will all have ‘back doors’. How these work is pretty simple: the side that controls the keep can enter and leave the keep using these back doors. The opposing side can only use the back door to leave the keep. The back door leads from the back of the keep (funnily enough) directly to the flag room. The flag room will always be open and will contain the keep’s quest NPCs.
This system is a superb addition for wargs. The obvious tactic here would be to camp the back door for freeps trying to get inside. That will probably yield good results, but there is another, more daring strategy to look at too. A warg pack could sneak inside whilst the fighting is raging and position themselves in the flag room to wait for particular freeps to enter via the back door. The quest NPCs that are there will mean that the wargs will probably only be able to get one or two kills before having to flee though.
A very important point to mention here is that the back doors will be very important for wargs to look at when the creeps are about to take a keep. Because the flag rooms are always open now freeps can’t simply retreat there and map out in safety as their keep is about to fall. The creeps can, and probably will, chase them all the way to keep them in combat. This means some of them may try and use the back door exit to escape. That’s where we come in … wargs positioned at the bottom of the keep at the back door will be in a good position to intercept any freeps trying to flee this way.
In the last part I gave an overview of the landscape changes coming to the Ettenmoors with the Riders of Rohan expansion. In this part I will be examining what these changes mean for wargs and how wargs can best use them to their advantage.
As any warg who has been around for a while will know one of the oldest tactics is to camp a busy travel route hoping to catch a passing freep. The landscape changes coming with RoR mean that the travel routes we’ve grown accustomed to will almost certainly change. Now I should point out that without any of these changes actually being on the live servers yet it isn’t possible to say for sure what the new travel routes will be, or which ones will be best to patrol. However, we can make some educated guesses and that si exactly what we are going to do here.
The premise is very simple; a travel route takes a freep from somewhere they start out from to somewhere they want to go. With that in mind we can try to predict what those new travel routes will be. I have included a map below showing what I believe will be the busiest of these new routes.
The Red Line
This route leads from Glan Vraig to Elf Camp and it presents us with some of our best opportunities to intercept freeps. Elf Camp is now positioned a considerably distance from Glan Vraig and to reach it a freep will have to travel most of the way across the map. One potential route is to go via the cow field and cross the river at the position where Orc Camp used to be. This will probably be the route of choice for freeps when Tol Ascarnen is under creep control. It is a pretty dangerous route though because if TA is under creep control then freeps have literally no safe spot with friendly NPCs for the entirety of their journey from Glan Vraig to Elf Camp.
As to where the best ambush points will be I can see three main spots: the area around the crossroads leading to the old position of Elf Camp; the spot where Elf Camp used to be and the river crossing near the Good TA map point.
The first of those is already a staple of wargs looking to ambush freeps and needs no explanation save to say that it’s a nice wide open spot with plenty of visibility to spot incoming freeps.
Now the second spot is where Elf Camp is currently. Once RoR launches this will be an empty space and a natural point to pass if a freep is looking to get to Elf Camp via the cow field. This spot offers a great advantage if TA is under creep control because that means that South Bridge will also be under creep control and thus you have a safe spot to retreat to should the need arise.
The last spot is at the river crossing near the Good TA map point. This is a great spot for three reasons: i) the freep has nowhere to go because Elf Camp is still a distance away ii) you can call in help if you need it as the map point is close and iii) the freep may panic and run into the water, which will only make it harder for them to escape.
The Purple Line
This is similar to the red line above except that instead of going via the cow field the freeps go via Tol Ascarnen. Freeps can still be ambushed at the crossroads near the former site of EC or at the former site of EC itself next to South Bridge. Both of these are good locations, but if the freeps control TA the bridge will have freep NPCs so ambushing them near there may provide a safe spot for them to run to.
Ambushing on Tol Lawn is another option and it has the benefit of having the element of surprise if TA is under freep control. Passing freeps will likely feel a modicum of safety as they cross South Bridge and see the keep under their control. That may cause them to let their guard down.
The Yellow Line
This is the route I perceive from Glan Vraig to the south western corner of the map in general. Freeps may take this route to reach Hoarhallow, the new Horahallow Outpost, River Outpost or perhaps even to reach Elf Camp.
You can of course set up your ambush point at an early stage of the route to catch them as they start coming out from Glan Vraig or you can wait until a later stage of the route. The danger here is watching out for what the freeps control; ambushing a freep near a friendly outpost or a freep controlled Lumber Camp isn’t the best idea.
What might work is to ambush them near the spot where South Outpost used to be. Once they pass by the Huorns there they will hopefully aggro them and that gives you an advantage in your ambush.
Another possibility is to wait at the bridges leading to the Hoarhallow Outpost. You will probably want a pack for this though as it is unlikely a single freep will be able to take the outpost by himself given how hard NPCs are hitting now.
The Blue Line
This is the route back to TR from the TR graveyard. The assumption here is that TR is under freep control of course. The freeps have to get off Candy Mountain first and then they are free to take a relatively direct route towards TR.
Two possible intercept points spring to mind here: close to the Good TR map point to ambush them just as they are coming down from Candy Mountain and down towards the bears that are just north of TR. The first of those options is probably the safest since there is less chance of pulling aggro from the nearby bear NPCs. Both points will likely see good traffic though.
The Orange Line
This is the route from Glan Vraig to the north eastern section of the map for access to the two northern outposts and the Isendeep Mine. The first part of this route allows the freeps to use the safe pass from Glan Vraig so our ambushes will have to take place in the latter stages of the route.
Again the Good TR map point might be a good choice here. It will allow for scouting of the approaches to the snow plain in front of the Isendeep Mine and the nearby outpost.
Another possibility is the cliff top path from Ost Ringdyr towards Grothum. Freeps may utilise this pass and a well positioned warg would be in a good place to intercept them with the possibility of calling in backup if needed via Grothum.
The Pink Line
This is the route from the TR graveyard to Elf Camp. It isn’t clear how much Elf and Orc Camps will be used in RoR, or indeed what they will be used for, given that it won’t be as easy to farm them as it is at the moment. However, I believe that both will still see significant activity given that they are friendly spots in hostile territory.
The best ambush points along this route are probably going to be at the ford separating TR and TA. This will be a great place for us to fight now because the water has been made shallower so we don’t need to swim, but rather can move around normally in the water.
TR plains will be another possibility. Because of the new location of Orc Camp freeps will probably ‘go wide’ of it when coming back from the graveyard. This means that in order to reach TR ford or South Bridge they have to pass through TR plains. This is a nice wide open space with plenty of visibility for us and few places for freeps to go save back to TR (assuming it is under their control).
As you may or may not already be aware of the Ettenmoors is changing with the launch of RoR. A few of the familiar landmarks we’ve grown accustomed to over the years are either moving position or disappearing entirely. What does this mean for us wargs? That’s a good question because the landscape changes will mean that established patrol routes and camping spots will inevitably change so let’s take a look at the changes and how we can best use them to our advantage.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to use these changes to best effect we need to understand exactly what is changing. Below I have included a brief list of the changes.
- Elf Camp is moving to the current site of the Lugazag graveyard
- Orc Camp is moving to the current site of the Tirith Rhaw graveyard
- Lugazag graveyard is moving further south, nearer to the River Outpost
- Tirith Rhaw graveyard is moving further north, a little north of the peak of Candy Mountain
- The Coldfells Outpost aka South Outpost is moving to a hill overlooking Hoarhallow
- The Isendeep Outpost remains where it is currently situated, but it’s name is changing to Arador’s End Outpost
- The Arador’s End Outpost is moving to just outside the ‘middle’ entrance of the Isendeep Mine and will be known as the Isendeep Outpost
- There will be a bridge connecting the new Arador’s End Outpost (the old Isendeep Outpost) with the graveyard on Candy Mountain
- The Plains of Gramsfoot Outpost has been removed from the game
- The water around Tol Ascarnen has been made shallower between Tol Ascarnen and the former site of Orc Camp as well as at the ford dividing Tol Ascarnen from the hill leading up to Tirith Rhaw
- The terrain around Tol Ascarnen has been modified to allow for easier access i.e. the slopes surrounding Tol Ascarnen are easier to traverse and there aren’t so many cliffs/impassable points
- Each of the outposts as well as both Elf and Orc Camps now have doors leading into the Delving of Fror
- The Delving of Fror has had some of its NPCs cleared out as well as having rooms with access points to specific outposts and Elf and Orc camps.
- Tol Ascarnen, Tirith Rhaw and Lugazag now all have ‘back doors’, which grant direct access to and from the flag rooms in each keep
- The flag rooms of each keep are now always open regardless of who controls the keep
That’s quite a lot of changes! I have included some maps to illustrate the changes and hopefully give you a better idea of what is happening.
You can click on the map to enlarge it. The symbols used denote the following:
Red Squares – the positions of the outposts
Blue Square – the position of Elf Camp
Purple Square – the position of Orc Camp
Orange Squares – the positions of the graveyards
Pink Lines – the positions of the new bridges
Light Blue Lines – terrain that has been smoothed and water than has been made shallower to allow for easier access
General Gameplay Effects
I’ll go into detail on what the changes mean for wargs in the next part, but for now let us consider how these changes might impact gameplay in the more general sense.
The first thing you will notice is that the outposts and graveyards, along with Elf Camp and Orc Camp, are arranged along a diagonal line running from north east to south west. This neatly matches up with the course of the Horahallow River that divides the map.
The positioning of the graveyards is crucial here because they are sure fire ‘traffic drivers’, and by that I mean that wherever the graveyards are there are bound to be players in the vicinity at some point. This means that both the Arador’s End and Isendeep outposts should see a lot more use given that they are now pretty close to a graveyard and by extension the Isendeep Mine itself might see more traffic given its proximity to both the outposts and the graveyard on top of Candy Mountain.
At the other end of the map we see a greater concentration of locations around the general Hoarhallow area. There are now two outposts close to Hoarhallow and the Lumber Camp is only a short jump away. The Lugazag graveyard is also much closer than it used to be. All of this provides a much more concentrated zone of activity than was previously the case.
Tol Ascarnen sits smack in the middle of these two ‘zones of activity’ and will thus still see a lot of players passing through or trying to take control of it of course. This then provides a series of three connected ‘activity zones’ that should hopefully see a better spread of players around the map.
Lugazag and Tirith Rhaw are off to the sides of these ‘zones’, but they will still likely see plenty of action given that they are major keeps. They are also useful for staging attacks into the other zones or as a place to fall back to.
In Part II I’ll be looking at the more warg specific aspects of these map changes.