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

Turbine Store

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.


Which Traits To Buy

As I was updating the skill page for the store I thought I might as well also update the page for traits too. As before the ground rules are that I am not going to include traits earned before rank 6 seeing as they are relatively easy to acquire through normal gameplay, even for casual players. Each trait is rated for value based upon its effects on gameplay.

 Advanced Skill: Howl of the Unnerving

Gained at rank 9

This is an AOE debuff skill that doesn’t break stealth. It debuffs the b/p/e evade ratings of up to 4 targets within 10m. The debuff is quite small, just -600 to each ratings, but it stacks between wargs so with enough wargs it can be a significant debuff. The skill also has a 50% chance to fear each of the affected targets for 5sec,..

Value for money: moderate, if you can afford it buy it, but if TP are in short supply there are better skills/traits to buy first

 Advanced Skill: Pack Hunters

Gained at rank 6

This skill does three different things depending upon the stance you are currently using. Shadow stance – an AOE debuffing hotspot that significantly reduces opponents’ mitigation values; No Stance – a damage buff that causes a single target to take an extra 26 damage each time that target receives damage from any source, Flayer – an ‘unbreakable’ root that nullifies the target’s b/p/e for the duration and makes you immune to all CC for the duration, but unable to do anything else.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy, but rank 6 requires relatively little infamy so may want to gain rank 6 rather than buy

 Enhanced Skill: Flayer

Gained at rank 10

This upgrades the Flayer stance skill that you gain at rank 10. With this trait equipped Flayer stance gains extra physical and tactical mitigation values as well as an increased armour rating.

Value for money: excellent, recommend to buy NOTE: You must have the Flayer skill to make use of this trait!

 Enhanced Skill: Eye Rake

Gained at rank 11

This is a pretty straightforward trait. All it does is reduce the cooldown of your Eye Rake skill (gained at rank 6) by 5 sec. However, that 5sec reduction can be very important. Due to changes in Update 9 wargs’ interrupt abilities were nerfed so this trait helps to improve our interrupt abilities, which can be crucial against induction and self-healing classes.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy NOTE: You must have the Eye Rake skill to make use of this trait!

 Enhanced Skill: Rabid Bite

Gained at rank 14

This trait increases the magnitude of the Rabid Bite debuff by 35%. That means that Rabid Bite’s total power increase debuff value would stand at 75%. It’s a significant increase, but the nature of the debuff itself is pretty weak.

Value for money: poor, don’t recommend buying NOTE: You must have the Rabid Bite skill to make use of this trait!

 Enhanced Skill: Sense Prey

Gained at rank 10

This trait alters the Sense Prey skill to allow you to track stealthed freeps. Obviously you need the Sense Prey skill to be able to make any use of this trait. The ability to track any freep whether he is stealthed or not is an amazingly powerful ability. This ranks as one of our most useful traits.

Value for money: extremely good, highly recommend to buy NOTE: you need the Sense Prey skill to gain any benefit from this trait!

 Foe of the Light

Gained At Rank 10

This trait increases your light mitigation (whoopteedoo!) and your stealth level (fuck yeah!). The fact that it increases your stealth level is reason enough to buy this skill given how few means we have of doing so.

Value for money: very high, recommend to buy

 Pack Alpha

Gained at rank 11

This trait increases your melee offence rating and your melee critical rating. The amounts involved aren’t huge, but it’s a fairly solid trait that will serve you well if you have room to slot it. A permanent boost to your damage output is never a bad thing.

Value for money: very good, advise to buy if you can afford it

 Pack Elder

Gained at rank 8

This trait provides a moderate increase to your Physical Mitigation rating.

Value for money: poor, don’t recommend buying, just use a corruption instead if you want the boost

 Pack Mentality

Gained at rank 7

A pretty decent all rounder this one. It increases our parry and evade ratings as well as increasing our physical and tactical mitigation ratings. Nothing bad about any of that, especially the last one.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy

 Enhanced Skill: Disappear

Gained at rank 7

Reduces the cooldown of Disappear/Topple by 2 minutes. With Disappear/Topple on a 5min cooldown this trait isn’t quite as good as it would first seem. It’s not a bad trait to have, but frankly your TP would be better spent elsewhere first.

Value for money: moderate, only buy if you have spare TP burning a hole in your pocket NOTE: You must have the Disappear skill to make use of this trait!


Which Skills To Buy

It’s been a while since I updated the section on store items for wargs so I thought I had best do so. Let’s set out some ground rules first. I’m not going to include any skills from rank 5 or below here because it is pretty quick to reach rank 5 and gain enough commendations to buy the various skills through gameplay. That means that no player, even casual ones, should have much problem in obtaining all their skills up to rank 5. Each skill will be rated for value based upon its impact on gameplay.

 Eye Rake

Gained at rank 6

This is an interrupt skill. It’s a pretty useful skill for all manner of situations. Obviously it’s good for breaking inductions, but it is great for knocking freeps off horses. Why not just pounce a freep off a horse? What if it’s a Lore-master with anti-stun? What if it’s a Champion with Continuous Blood Rage? This little beauty is perfect for those sort of targets. With Pounce having a longer cooldown (15sec) since Update 9 this skill becomes even more important to have to ensure that you can effectively interrupt a target.

Value for money: very good, recommend to buy to provide adequate interrupt capability, but may want to achieve rank 6 since it requires relatively little infamy

 Frenzy

Gained at rank 6

This is a beauty of a skill, but one that is often overlooked. It increases your evade chance by a flat 5% and also increases your melee crit chance. It can only be used after you score a critical hit on an enemy. The edge it gives you isn’t much, but can sometimes be enough to tip the scales in your favour.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy, but may want to achieve rank 6 since it requires relatively little infamy

 Scratch and Snip

Gained at rank 7

A melee attack that causes you to attack twice. It’s nothing special in terms of damage or effect, but its real value lies in being another damage skill to add to your rotation. With a double attack it can allow you to score some relatively decent damage on a target. especially when using Flayer stance and lacking Shadow’s greater damage from Bestial Claws, etc.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy

  Flea Bitten

Gained at rank 8

This is a debuff skill. The effect is to debuff an opponent’s Attack Duration and Induction Time by 25% each. The skill affects up to 3 targets with a 10m range and a 10m radius, which means that it can be useful for breaking a Burger out of stealth. It’s not a bad skill for using in long 1vs1 fights or in helping to debuff an enemy raid.

Value for money: moderate, buy it if you can afford it, but there are more important skills to spend TP on if you are on a budget

 Sense Prey

Gained at rank 9

This skill allows you to track freeps. The skill won’t track stealthed freeps though. This skill is incredibly useful in that it allows you to scout more quickly as well as being able to see exactly who is around as well as get an accurate count of freep numbers.

Value for money: very good, highly recommended to buy

 Snap

Gained at rank 10

This is another debuff skill. It reduces the damage output of a freep by 10% across the board i.e. melee, ranged and tactical. A critical hit with this skill does different things depending upon which stance you are using: Shadow/No Stance – silence, Flayer – disarm. It’s useful against targets with high damage outputs, but it doesn’t seem to crit very often, which may be a bug, so value is lessened because of that.

Value for money: moderate, advise to buy if you can afford it

 Dire Howl

Gained at rank 10

This is an AOE debuff skill that has different effects depending upon your stance. In Shadow stance it silences up to 4 targets. In No Stance is silences up to 2 targets. In Flayer stance it disarms up to 4 targets. The cooldown is pretty long at 5 minutes, but a guaranteed silence/disarm is a very useful tool to have.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy

trait_mp_warg_stalker_skill2 Flayer Stance

Gained at rank 10

This is one of our two stances and provides increased protection in the form of boosts to our armour, physical and tactical mitigation values. It also grants a small morale bubble and a self-heal ability It changes the functionality of various skills and whilst in Flayer stance we cannot use any of our stealth abilities.

Value for money: very good, recommend to buy

sk_mp_warg_bestialclawsPiercing Claws

Gained at rank 9

This is a damage skill that will deal a flat 5% of the target’s maximum morale value as damage. It completely bypasses all mitigations and armour, including Audacity. It’s really only effective against targets with a lot of morale i.e. tanks and morale whores. For targets with less than 20k morale it’s better to just use Claws.

Value for money: poor, if you have spare TP it can be worth adding to your arsenal, otherwise skip it


Rank Farming

There has been quite a bit of discussion on the official forums concerning rank farming recently so I thought I’d wade in and give my tuppence worth. For those of you who don’t know what rank farming is it can be summed up as basically killing an opposing player over and over again with no resistance in order to gain as much infamy/renown within a short period of time as possible. Some people will use multiple accounts to farm themselves whilst others will get friends to control a second character that can be killed repeatedly.

What’s The Problem?

There are basically two issues here. The first is that some people don’t like it if someone gets their ranks easily through farming because it effectively bypasses PvMP. They may feel that this cheapens their own achievements or lessens the impact of the rewards gained through acquiring new ranks.

The second issue concerns the fact that some people believe rank farming to be a violation of Turbine’s terms and conditions, an exploit or to put it in general terms, cheating. Thus they want Turbine to clamp down such behaviour.

Why The Debate?

If rank farming is cheating and devalues gameplay then why is there even a debate? Surely Turbine take action against those doing it and that’s the end of the matter? Well it isn’t that simple because Turbine don’t do anything about it. “Why not?!” you may ask. The reason for that actually is simple: rank farming isn’t against LOTRO’s rules.

Yes that’s right, farming for ranks is not considered an exploit, a violation of the terms and conditions or cheating by the people who actually make the rules. Thus we have a debate.

The Debate

You can break the issue down into two parts: a) is rank farming bad for the game and b) is it wrong to do it?

Bad For The Game – Let’s deal with the first question first. The idea here is that farming for ranks cheapens the achievements gained by other players who actually fought their way up the ranks. This is a perfectly valid point, but it is also a subjective one. Some high ranked players may feel that way whilst others may not. I, for example, couldn’t care less if someone attained my rank (rank 12) through farming or traditional gameplay. It simply doesn’t bother me. Other people may hold an opposite view.

A similar point is that rank farming trivialises the rewards gained at various ranks because anyone can farm their way up to whatever rank they want and gain said reward. Again this is a valid point and arguably a stronger one than the above point concerning debasing achievements. In short the argument here is that rank farming is an easy route to rewards. The main problem with this line of argument though is that the rank farmer isn’t actually gaining anything that anyone else cannot. They may gain it faster, but it is still the same reward. In that vein it isn’t really any different from purchasing creep skills from the store. Both offer a fast track to a reward that would otherwise take a significant amount of time to acquire and both are accepted by Turbine as valid methods of obtaining the reward.

Is It Wrong? – The short and canonical answer is no. Farming for ranks is not a violation of LOTRO’s terms and conditions and it is not considered to be an exploit. Thus it is considered by Turbine to be as acceptable a playstyle as any other they approve of.

Community manager Celestrata explicitly stated Turbine’s position regarding rank farming in this thread:

As others have already pointed out, our GMs have stated that this activity is not a violation of the rules. Therefore, that is the answer. We’ll pass everyone’s feedback along to the appropriate teams, as we usually do, but that’s the answer for right now.

That’s the official position of Turbine, but what about right and wrong in an ethical sense? That is an entirely different question. Since rank farming is considered acceptable by Turbine then it is really down to each individual player to decide for themselves whether it is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to play.

Personally I don’t farm for ranks, instead preferring to play in the more traditional manner to again my infamy. True to form though I will not judge those who do farm for ranks. It isn’t for me to tell others how to play whether I agree or disagree with how they choose to play. I’m not forced to do it myself and that is enough for me.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day farming for ranks is something that Turbine finds acceptable. That means that players are free to play that way if they wish. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea (mine included), but nevertheless they are free to do it.  Some people do seem to get very bent out of shape about it though and my advice to them would be to let it go. This is just a game after all and if the way someone else plays bothers you that much perhaps it’s time to go do something else for a little bit.

Rank farming is here to stay folks, like it or loathe it, and the best course of action in my opinion is to accept that fact. That doesn’t mean that one cannot suggest to Turbine that the rules should be changed and set out appropriate arguments for such a change, but if you don’t like rank farming don’t let it ruin your gameplay by letting it bother you. People are going to do it and until such time as Turbine changes their rules it is a fact of life in the Ettenmoors.


Site Update: Store Stuff

Just a note to let you chaps know that I have updated the store pages with the recommended skills and traits to buy. You can find the updated pages under ‘The Store’ tab at the top of the page.


Warg QQ #2

I came across this little gem on the forum:

I wasn’t in Elf Camp two minutes and I got tracked by five (5) different wargs at the same time. Now, I know that there aren’t a whole lot of Rank 9 wargs out there, so I can only assume they purchased the skill in the store. So, I went over to my Warg, and purchased the skill, and – alas – I can now track, but I don’t have to be Rank 9.

Sorry, but that’s selling advantage to me, pure and simple, even though I have a Warg. There’s no if’s and’s or but’s about it.

I mean, what would happen if you started selling skills freepside? People would go ape-poo. This is the same thing, IMHO.

Turbine has taken an wonderful game and is slowly killing it.

Good luck out there, I’m done with the ‘Moors.

Now let’s make a small alteration and see what it’s been like for wargs for the past four and a half years:

I wasn’t in Orc Camp two minutes and I got tracked by five (5) different Hunters at the same time. Now, I know that there aren’t a whole lot of Rank 9 Hunters out there, so I can only assume they purchased the skill in the store. So, I went over to my Hunter, and purchased the skill, and – alas – I can now track, but I don’t have to be Rank 9.

Sorry, but that’s selling advantage to me, pure and simple, even though I have a Hunter. There’s no if’s and’s or but’s about it.

I mean, what would happen if you started selling skills creepside? People would go ape-poo. This is the same thing, IMHO.

Turbine has taken an wonderful game and is slowly killing it.

Good luck out there, I’m done with the ‘Moors.


I Was On A Casual Stroll To Mordor

A bit of shameless self-promotion here, but what they hell! I appeared as a guest on the Casual Stroll To Mordor podcast as a guest live on Sunday morning. It was 2:30 am my time when the show started so yes I was a little tired, but it was great fun! A big thank you to Goldenstar and Merric for having me on the show and thanks to all the wonderful people who were in the live chat on the night.

The recorded version of the podcast was released today and you can listen to it here.