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

Traits

Flayer Damage Build

When you think of Flayer stance damage probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Most Flayer builds will understandably be focused on increasing survivability, but here we will be taking a different approach and emphasising offence rather than defence.

Flayer Damage Build

Before we get into corruptions and traits it is important to point out that this build isn’t concerned with producing high spike damage (such as creeps can produce!), but rather persistent damage. The idea is that by using Flayer for some increased survivability you should be able to last long enough to wear an opponent down through moderately good damage. Obviously this build isn’t particularly useful at rapidly burning targets and it shouldn’t be used for such a tactic.

Corruptions

The corruption setup is very deliberately a mixed bag. As with any Flayer build there are defensive corruptions, but we will also be using a number of offensive corruptions as well to ensure that the build has some punch to it. Now for the offensive side of things I have opted for Mastery boost corruptions and it is worth explaining why I choose those over Critical Rating Boost corruptions. As mentioned above this build is not about spike damage, rather it is about producing consistent damage. An increase in base damage fits that mission better than an increase to spike damage, which is by its nature random.

The corruption setup looks like this:

  • Critical Protection Boost x3
  • Health for Power Rank 1
  • Health for Power Rank 2
  • Mastery Boost x4
  • Physical Mitigation Boost x2

In testing this has proven to be a consistently good setup. The morale boosts get your morale pool up to an acceptable level for fights that might last longer than a few seconds whilst the critical protection boosts help to deal with high freep spike damage and extend your morale pool a little further. Rounding out the defensive corruptions are the physical mitigation boosts. Two might not seem like very much, but in testing they provided a good level of protection when used in conjunction with various armour buffs available to wargs. Of course the two physical mitigation boosts can be swapped for tactical mitigation boosts depending upon which freeps you will primarily be fighting.

Four mastery boost corruptions might seem like an odd number to choose. Why not just three and opt for another physical mitigation boost? Why not six and get the set bonus? In testing four mastery boosts have proven to be quite effective in terms of providing sufficient damage to take down opponents whilst leaving room for some extra defensive corruptions. If you use destiny/store buffs then you could probably reduce the number of mastery boosts to three by using a damage buff. This would free up a slot for another defensive boost e.g. a third mitigation boost.

Traits

Racial traits, as ever, are the standard fare.

  • Foe of the Light
  • Four-Legged Foe
  • Pack Alpha
  • Racial Skill: Howl of Unnerving
  • Racial Skill: Pack Hunters

These are the best of the bunch when it comes to racial traits. However, you could swap either Howl of Unnerving or Pack Hunters for Pack Mentality if you wanted to give yourself another slight defensive boost. The reason I haven’t included Pack Mentality in the list above is because the defensive boosts it offers are so slight that I don’t feel it is worth losing the utility of the other two traits.

Class traits consist of the following:

  • Enhanced Skill: Stealth (it might be a Flayer build, but we are still using stealth)
  • Armour Boost (extra armour means extra mitigations)
  • Enhanced Skill: Disappear (it is always useful to have our escape skills on as short a cooldown as possible, but for a Flayer build it is equally important to have Topple on a short cooldown)
  • Enhanced Skill: Eye Rake – (more frequent interrupts and increased dps)
  • Enhanced Skill: Flayer (the extra armour and mitigation bonuses are vital for this build)
  • Enhanced Skill: Sense Prey (you need to know where your opponent is)
  • Enhanced Skill: Sprint (extra survivability when used for escape and of course an effective way of dealing with slows)

Resistance Boost might seem like an obvious choice given that we are looking to increase survivability with this build. However, it’s buff is relatively minor and easily replicated by using a resistance buff pot that can be bartered for with commendations.

Strategy

The strategy with this build is quite straightforward: keep pummelling away. The extra survivability you will have should allow you to last through the initial blasts from big hitting skills, by which point the freep should hopefully start to panic as they haven’t destroyed you as quickly as expected allowing you to put them on the back foot.

The key is to keep stacking as many bleeds as possible whilst making good use of Scratch and Snip to bolster your direct damage. Given that fights might last longer than you are used to it is important to employ your debuffs where possible i.e. Brutal Fangs, Flea Bitten, Muscle Tear, Snap, etc. It is also important to use the Flayer heal effectively and Sprint can be useful here to allow you to kite your opponent (assuming you aren’t fighting a ranged class) in order to allow Flayer to heal you up a bit.

In using this build I have found that it works quite well in 1vs1 situations and has consistently provided me with good results in group and raid situations too. One Burger commented that he would like to see me using a different build owing to the length of time it takes to burn down my morale when using this build. High praise indeed!


Damage Build

Which build to use has always been the subject of much debate amongst wargs and the debate is all the fiercer given that wargs have more options than ever for fine tuning their setups. I plan to make a series of posts looking at three distinct types of build that I have found to work well in actual gameplay. The first of these is a setup squarely aimed at dealing damage.

The Damage Build

The Damage Build is primarily focused on dealing damage, but with a nod to retaining enough survivability to allow a warg to hang in a fight long enough to actually get a kill. The cornerstone of this build is Shadow stance and it is easy to see why: +15% damage and various skills always act as if they are being used from stealth. For those who don’t know attacks made from stealth cannot be blocked, parried or evaded, which means more attacks landing successfully, which in turn means more damage being dealt.

Corruptions

The core of any build is the set of corruptions that we choose. Corruptions don’t just give a build flavour they define it. In the Shadow build we are going to emphasise damage, but also look to boost survivability. To that end we will be using the following corruptions:

  • Critical Boost x5
  • Mastery Boost x5
  • Morale for Power Rank 1
  • Morale for Power Rank 2

In testing five each of the critical boost and mastery boost corruptions produced more dps than other combinations of those two corruptions.

You will notice that using this setup neither of the 6-set bonuses from the critical and mastery boost corruptions is available. This isn’t really a problem because the 10% heal from the critical boost set-bonus requires a killing blow to activate and the majority of wargs i..e low to mid-rank wargs are unlikely to last long enough in a fight for power to become an issue requiring the power consumption reduction from the mastery boost set-bonus.

The morale corruptions provide a little extra survivability, but only in so far as they should prevent you from being all but one-shotted. You aren’t going to be hanging in a fire-fight with this build!

Traits

The choice of racial traits is fairly straightforward here given that some are completely useless.

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

Foe of the light improves your stealth (always a good thing); Four Legged Foe gives a boost to run speed (handy for helping to catch freeps and mitigate slows), and Pack Alpha gives a small boost to damage output. Howl of the Unnerving isn’t a particularly reliable CC skill, but it even so a fear that works 50% of the time is better than no fear at all. Pack Hunters allows for the use of the Shadow Pack skill in Shadow stance, which boosts your damage output by reducing freep mitigations.

Class traits are also straightforward.

  • Enhanced Skill: Stealth (a must for every warg)
  • Armour Boost (provides a little more survivability)
  • The Element of Surprise (provides a significant increase to dps by boosting crit chance of various attacks)
  • Enhanced Skill: Disappear (provides extra survivability by being able to use Disappear more often or alternatively boosts offence by allowing for an extra stun/surprise attack)
  • Enhanced Skill: Eye Rake (allows you to interrupt more often and boosts dps with more frequent attacks)
  • Enhanced Skill: Sense Prey (you need to know where the freeps are before you can kill them!)
  • Enhanced Skill: Sprint (provides extra survivability by being able to use Sprint more often as well as allowing slows to be negated more often)

Strategy

This build is very much focused on damage output. The idea isn’t to stand around in the middle of a raid battle dealing damage whilst soaking up all the AOE flying around. Rather the best strategy will be to operate on the sidelines of the battle; looking for low morale freeps to pick off or harassing healers at the back of the freep raid. Get in, get a kill and get out again quickly. Wargs are well equipped for this style of play and this build seeks to capitalise on that.


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 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.


Critical Rating Boost: Part II

Update 10 introduced a new type of corruptions for creeps: critical rating boosts. These corruptions allowed us, for the first time, to adopt a crit build! Because this had never been available before there was uncertainty over how best to use these corruptions. There are various opinions of course, but in this post I am going to go through the numbers with a view to determining how bet to use these corruptions for different builds.

Note: If you are unsure as to what these corruptions do or how they work please see part one.

Effects

First of all let us look at what the different combinations of critical rating boost corruptions gives us:

  • 1 critical rating boost: +3.3% crit chance +1.4% dev chance +4.5% crit/dev magnitude
  • 2 critical rating boosts: +5.8% crit rating +2.7% dev chance +8.6% crit/dev magnitude
  • 3 critical rating boosts: +8.1% crit chance  +4% dev chance +12.3% crit/dev magnitude
  • 4 critical rating boosts: +10.3% crit chance +5.3% dev chance +15.6% crit/dev magnitude
  • 5 critical rating boosts: +12.4% crit chance +5.9% dev chance +18.6% crit/dev magnitude
  • 6 critical rating boosts: +12.5% crit chance +6% dev chance +21.4% crit/dev magnitude

Note that slotting all 6 critical rating boost corruptions will take your critical and devastating critical chance to their cap i.e. 25% and 10% respectively. Compare that with slotting 5 of these corruptions; you are only 0.1% under each of those caps. Even in the case of the critical magnitude increase 6 corruptions only gives you an extra 2.8% above that provided by 5 corruptions. Thus it looks as if slotting all 6 corruptions is a bit of a waste, especially if you then go on to use abilities such as Pack Alpha and Frenzy.

Best Use

If six of these corruptions aren’t really useful for anything then what about other combinations? I have listed them different combinations below and what they might be useful for.

1-2 Critical Rating Boosts – Best used to fill out your corruption slots if you somehow find yourself with a slot free (no idea how that might come about though!). This would also be a good number to include in a traditional dps build that focuses more on high base damage. The extra oomph from one or two crit boosts should increase damage output without sacrificing too much base damage.

3 Critical Rating Boosts – Here we would be getting into half and half territory. By that I mean that we would be walking the line between a dps build focusing on base damage and a crit build focusing on scoring critical hits. You do not really get the major benefit of either build with this setup although it should still produce good damage output.

4-5 Critical Rating Boosts – We are looking at a full blown crit build with this many crit boosts. Four would be the best option in my opinion to ensure some solid base damage to work from. Five crit boosts might push the base damage down too low for your liking, but even so it should still produce good dps.


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!