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

Turbine Store

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I see someone has already made up their mind about the LOTRO Store:

lotro rise of isengard pay to win store

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Editorial: Store Bought Consumables

A few days ago I discussed the idea of creeps buying their skills from the LOTRO Store. Today I’m going to talk about a similar issue, but one that is a bit wider in scope. Store bought consumables.

People Are Unhappy About These Right?

Indeed they are. Much like the debate over store bought skills there is a lot of discussion and argument over store bought consumables. Many are unhappy with what they describe as a ‘pay To Win’ scenario (I really hate that term). The crux of the argument against store bought consumables like morale pots, etc is that they are a) unavailable in the game except through the store and b) they tend to be more powerful than the in-game options that are available. Both of these are valid points and I wouldn’t dispute either of them.

What we have to look at though is whether the outcry over these items is justified or whether it is a storm in a tea cup.

What Exactly Do These Items Do?

A whole range of things would be the best answer. You can check out the creep store catalogue here and see some of the items that will be available for yourself. There are consumable brands with shorter cooldowns than existing in-game brands; there are morale and power pots with very short cooldowns and HoT effects; there are damage bonuses; infamy bonuses and a whole lot more besides.

All of these items are consumables. Once they are used you need to use another to gain the same effect. They all cost Turbine Points, which might mean at some point that they would cost real money.

How Will They Affect PvMP?

My guess is that they won’t affect PvMP very much at all. Remember the outcry when the store bought morale and power pots were first introduced? Remember the cries of anger that these pots would imbalance the game? How did that turn out? Nowhere near as bad as some of the people gnashing their teeth would have had you believe.

You see the single biggest reason why these store bought consumables cannot seriously affect the balance of PvMP is because they cost money to buy. Let’s take one example to illustrate the point:

Let’s say you plan on using the consumable brands. Each ‘Crumbling Brand’ costs 25 Turbine Points. That’s not very much. Now one of the criticisms used against these Crumbling Brands to say they are too powerful is their low cooldown. Just five minutes. That implies that they would be used multiple times per game session.

Ok so let’s sey you use a modest number per night, say 5. Let us also say you play regularly, five nights a week. That totals 25 brands per week. For the sake of argument we will say there are four weeks in a month. That’s a total of 100 brands per month. At a cost of 25 TP each that’s 2,500 Turbine Points. Just on brands.

Imagine spending 2,500 TP only on consumable brands. That’s before you have bought extra character clots, vault space, cosmetic items, creep skills, etc.

The point here is pretty simple; the cost of these items, whilst appearing low, is actually quite steep if you intend to use them regularly. The example above used just one store item. Imagine using moral and power pots in addition to the brands. Throw in the Bandages for falling damage prevention and maybe some infamy boosts too. Are you going to be spending 3,000 Turbine Points a month to ‘win’? Probably not and the same holds true for the vast majority of players.

I’m sure some people will buy these items, whether to try them out or whether to actually use them in a tight spot. However, most players will not be able to do much more than that because the simple fact is they won’t be able to afford it. At most we will probably see the odd item used now and again, just as is the case with many store consumables at the moment.

Is It Right Though?

My own personal opinion is that any consumable available in the store should ALWAYS be obtainable through some means in the game itself. I don’t like the idea of the store offering an extra advantage to players that isn’t able to be acquired through gameplay.

Having said that though these store consumables simply aren’t in a position to have any major effects on PvMP in LOTRO. It doesn’t make it right that they are only obtainable through the store, but it does mean that we should worry about them less.


Editorial: Buying Skills From The Store

With the launch of Rise of Isengard Turbine are planning on allowing creep players to purchase their class skills and traits from the LOTRO Store. It’s arguably the biggest change to PvMP since the game launched and one that has thrown up a huge amount of debate. What is this debate and why does it exist? Both are valid questions and we need to look at both before we can move on with this issue.

There are a fair few folk who don’t like the idea of creeps being able to purchase any skill they like from the LOTRO Store. The main reason that is given is because it a) diminishes the time and effort existing high ranked creeps have put into the game to gain those skills and b) because it creates a ‘Pay to Win’scenario whereby anyone with enough money can create a fresh creep character and instantly have access to all the skills that would otherwise take years of gameplay to unlock. On the face of it both are fair points.

Unfair To Veteran Creeps?

Let me state that I have played my warg since the game launched. That’s around four and a half years of gaming spent on my warg ranking him up, gaining new skills and traits and seeking to advance him further. Will I, someone who has invested literally years into his warg, be upset if I see a freshly created warg with skills that it took me over four years to acquire? Absolutely not.

Some of the high ranked skills are gated behind ranks that require such a long grind that they are effectively unreachable for many players, at least within any reasonable time frame. What exactly is the point in having these skills in the game if next to no one can obtain them? Now it is true that all skills will be made available by rank 10 when Isengard launches, but rank 10 isn’t a magic bullet. Rank 10 still requires a significant amount of time to achieve for those who play what one might describe as ‘regular hours’. People have jobs, school, families, etc and simply put many people do not have the time to play enough to achieve even rank 10 within the space of a year.  A year. Regular gameplay will allow you to reach the current level cap within a few months. With an ‘average’ amount of gameplay you will probably not be able to achieve rank 10 within a year. It may even take considerably longer than that on low population servers.

I don’t like where some of the lines of argument in this area are going. They smack of elitism to me. Essentially some people seem to be saying that because they invested a certain amount of time into gaining a particular skill everyone else must do the same and it is unfair to them if it is ever made easier. I hold the opposite view. I think it’s ridiculous that it has taken me four years or so to attain some of my skills. I want to see other players have an easier time of acquiring those skills so that they can go out and have fun with them. This is a game remember, not a job.

Pay To Win?

I really dislike this term because it is nothing more than a jingoistic catchphrase used when no real analysis of the situation has been performed. For one thing these skills cost Turbine Points, which cost money. How many people are going to splash out real world money to buy every skill? Even if they do are they gaining anything that any other player doesn’t have access to? No. The skills that can be bought from the store are the exact same as those gained through ranking. There are no extra abilities or effects. They are gaining nothing more than speed of access.

Think of it this way: if you are a freep and you are tracked by a warg using the rank 10 stealth track ability, does it matter whether that warg is rank 0 with a store bought skill or a rank 10 warg with a skill gained through ranking? Both are doing the exact same thing and you will need to deal with it in the exact same way. There is no difference whatsoever in the implementation of the skill.

The basic premise of this argument rests upon the notion that more creeps will suddenly have access to skills they otherwise wouldn’t be able to use. So what? Again what difference does it actually make? These skills already exist. Nothing new is being introduced here. What is actually happening in this scenario is that more creeps are gaining access to skills that are factored into the calculations made on whether each side is balanced with the other. I see the opening of these skills to more players as a mechanism to balance PvMP rather than the situation as it exists now where only those with enough free time have access to these skills.

It’s A Game People!

The whole point of PvMP, like the rest of the game, is to have fun. It isn’t to gain ranks. It isn’t to gain skills. It isn’t to gain titles. Those are mechanisms used to direct the flow of play. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. For more than four years the creep side has been hampered by the fact that many of its skills have been, for all intents and purposes, unavailable for use because of the steep requirements needed to use them. That isn’t much fun. If some players do buy skills it may have another unforeseen consequence. Investing Turbine Points, and potentially real money, into a toon gives the player doing so a much bigger stake in that toon. Perhaps they will decide to play it more as a result. That means more people sticking around in PvMP. That means more action.That means more fun.

A valid question to ask here is what incentive there will be to play if one has already bought one’s skills. Well there are Battlefield Promotions at each rank and of course you gain a new appearance and title with each rank. However, the single biggest incentive to play is for fun. Why are we playing right now? The higher ranks are so far apart that quite frankly logging in each day for a fraction of the infamy needed for that next rank can’t really be said to be a great incentive. You might be playing with a far reaching goal of attaining that next skill, but why is it you play on a given day when you know that all you will gain is a tiny fraction of the infamy you need for rank 11 or 12 etc? Probably because you want to. Probably because you find it fun to play whether you are gaining infamy or not.

The only thing to be lost by allowing players to purchase skills in the store is the horrendous grind it takes to use those skills. It means that every creep has the potential to come out guns blazing and have fun right from the start without feeling gimped, inferior or as if they have a mountain to climb before they can start enjoying PvMP. Bring it on I say!


Rise of Isengard: Creep Store Catalogue

Prancey posted images of the items available to creeps in the store on the Turbine forum. It’s a catalogue of creep store items I suppose and I’ve posted the images for you to take a look at below.


Rise of Isengard: Which Traits To Buy

In the last post I focused on which skills were good value for money. Now it’s the turn of the traits. These are apparently priced in the range of 195-395 TP each. As before each entry will have a rating describing how good a purchase it is in terms of value.

 Advanced Skill: Howl of the Unnerving

Gained at rank 9

Kelsen’s warg blog proposed that this skill will function different to how it currently works. As with all howl skills it will have no induction and be usable whilst moving. In terms of effects it will apply a debuff to a freep’s b/p/e ratings. It also has a 25% chance of fearing each target for between 3-5 seconds. Oh and it doesn’t break stealth to use it! If these changes make it into the game 9and we’re still awaiting confirmation from Bullroarer on that) then this could be a pretty useful skill to have. The chance of a fear alone is a big boost and should help in harassing freep healers.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy

 Advanced Skill: Pack Hunters

Gained at rank 6

This is a very handy wee skill to have in your arsenal. It’s a toggle skill that is applied to a freep and lasts until either the freep is dead, you are dead or the freep gets out of range/out of combat. Whilst the freep has this skill on them they will take an extra 23 damage every single time they are hit and yes that includes ticks from DoTs! This is a beautiful skill for helping to burn down hard to hit targets such as Guardians and Burglars.

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

 Advanced Skill: Shadow Howler

Gained at rank 10

This skill looks to have undergone a fair bit of change according to the information coming from the Bullroarer testers. I’m going to be devoting an entire post to this skill at some future point, but for now what you need to know is that this is a stance for wargs. It prevents you using stealth, but it increases your armour, damage, tactical mitigation (yay!) and provides you with 1,000 points of temporary morale every 30 seconds. It’s obviously going to require testing to say how effective this is.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy (provisional pending testing)

 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. Eye Rake is a great skill to be sure, but the cooldown on its is already quite short (just 15 sec) so this trait might be something of a luxury. Certainly reducing the cooldown of Eye Rake would make it a more useful part of your damage rotation, but only if you have spare Turbine Points

Value for money: poor, don’t recommend buying unless you have lots of Turbine Points

 Enhanced Skill: Rabid Bite

Gained at rank 14

With the changes to Rabid Bite this trait is next to worthless. All it does is double the magnitude of the power cost increase debuff of Rabid Bite to 20% instead of 10%. Testing will have to be done to see how effective the new Rabid Bite is, but it is almost certainly a major nerf to the skill as it currently stands.

Value for money: poor, don’t recommend buying

 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 (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: good, advise to buy if you can afford it

 Pack Elder

Gained at rank 8

This trait, according to Kelsen’s warg blog, will increase defences versus certain weapon types and provide a greater chance for the warg to penetrate the target’s defences. It’s hard to say how useful this will be without seeing test results so this is more of a provisional entry at the moment.

Value for money: TBD, recommend not buying until Bullroarer test information available

 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 9

Reduces the cooldown of Disappear by 3 minutes. The proposed cleanse feature has been left out. Probably not worth buying/traiting this trait given that there are plenty of other options available that have very compelling effects.

Value for money: poor, don’t recommend to buy unless you really want Disappear on a 7 min cooldown


Rise of Isengard: Which Skills To Buy

With the Rise of Isengard expansion creeps are going to be able to purchase skills from the Turbine Store irrespective of rank requirements. Given that low ranked wargs will not have used the high ranked skills before they may be unsure as to what skills are best to buy, especially if they have a limited budget and can only purchase one or two. With that in mind I thought it would be useful to give an overview of what will be best buys for wargs.

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 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 based upon its value as a purchase. Also note that I am going to describe skills as they will be in Isengard assuming all the proposals we heard about go through.

 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 Burger? What if it’s a Champion with Continous Blood Rage? This little beauty is perfect for those sort of targets.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy, 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 and will be even more so after Rise of Isengard if Kelsen’s proposed changes for it go through. 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.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy

  Flea Bitten

Gained at rank 8

This is a debuff skill. The proposal Kelsen made was to have it affect multiple targets and have it increase their induction times and attack durations. Currently this new debuff doesn’t look particularly effective as the magnitude of these debuffs is just +10%. That’s probably not even going to be noticeable.

Value for money: poor, don’t recommend to buy

 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 12

This is another debuff skill. It reduces the damage output of a freep by 10% across the board i.e. melee, ranged and tactical. If you score a critical hit with it then the freep is disarmed. Used in conjunction with Frenzy this skill should crit more often. This is probably more useful in 1vs1 situations than it is in packs or raids.

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

 Dire Howl

Gained at rank 13

This skill functions similarly to the lower ranked skill Throat Rip in that it is a silence. However, it is an AOE silence that affects up to 4 targets. It is a howl skill and Kelsen had said in his warg blog that howl skills will be usable whilst moving and will have no inductions. That means this could be a very effective tool for harassing freep healers in raid situations.

Value for money: good, recommend to buy

In the next part I will be taking a look at the racial traits to see what’s good value for the warg with cash to splash.


Rise of Isengard: Turbine Store Items For Wargs

In my last post I looked at the general changes coming to wargs. In this post I’m going to be looking at one of the biggest changes coming to creepside with the launch of Rise of Isengard: the Turbine Store. Creep players will be able to purchase items from the store just as freep players do now. So what exactly is going to be available for creeps to buy? Well it seems like there will be a lot of different things, but of those what is going to be most useful for wargs?

Skills

This is undoubtedly the ‘big ticket’ item in the store. Creeps will be able to buy skills and traits from the Turbine Store using Turbine Points. A fresh rank 0 warg can go into the store and purchase Howl of the Unnerving one assumes. I’m not going to get into the rights and wrongs of this in this post, I’ll leave that for a future post, but suffice to say that it’s a feature that’s coming.

These are useful purchases for obvious reasons, and I intend to go into which skills will be best to buy in more detail, but again that is for a future post.

Maps

Creeps will be able to buy their maps from the store. This is a really nice change and I am definitely in favour of it. Currently you MUST do PVE quests at each of the keeps to get the various maps. The Ettenmoors is a PvMP zone so anything that cuts down on the amount of PVE wargs have to do is a good thing in my book. Especially given that maps are arguably more important to wargs since we are often tasked with scouting around the map for freeps.

It’s also handy for those who have most of their maps, but perhaps just can’t be bothered grinding out those last few. Now you can complete your set by handing over a some Turbine Points. It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me.

Consumables

There seems to be a whole host of consumables on offer to creeps and some of them look like must have purchases.

This is an interesting one, a tracking talisman. It can be used to track any race of freep and tracks them through stealth. Given that wargs will be able to purchase their own class tracking abilities at any rank through the Turbine Store this seems a little useless for wargs. It might still be useful though if you don’t want to buy the skill, but personally I think buying the stealth tracking skill is a better long term investment.

Now this is definitely something I would consider to be a priority purchase. This item gives you immunity from falling damage for a ful hour! It doesn’t protect you from dying if you jump off something very high, but it does mimic the Burglar skill ‘Safe Fall’, except the effect lasts much much longer. With one of these activated wargs can face Burglars on a much more even footing (pardon the pun). I would definitely recommend wargs buy these.

This seems like a pretty solid pot to use. I can see it being handy for removing fears and wound effects, but non-store options will probably do just as well to be honest. Personally I wouldn’t go for these.

Now this is definitely something to consider given the number of different effects freeps can put on you. There was no price listed for these, but if they’re cheap enough then it might be worth having a few for sticky situations, but if not then it’s probably best not to get used to these pots in the first place.

On the face of it this looks like a handy boost to have. However, it only lasts for 10 seconds and to be honest if you can’t escape using Sprint then 20% extra run speed probably isn’t going to save you. What this might be useful for is overcoming freep slows. Sprint can be unwieldy if used to overcome slows since it sets your run speed so high that it can be difficult to control your warg in close quarters. A 20% increase on the other hand is a lot more manageable.

Well what do we have here? This is a really powerful consumable and could be a real game changer if you can afford to buy enough of them. It functions like the current rank 15 brand in that it can be used in combat and last a full minute. The cooldown steals the show here though: 5 minutes! It is a consumable though so once used tht’s it gone and you need to use up another if you want the effect again. Depending upon how much these cost this could be a must have purchase or if expensive it might be more of an emergency button.

These look to be similar to the existing store pots freeps have access to. I personally don’t think the current freep store pots are worth the money although they do give you a boost and I view these creep versions the same way. Again there was no price listed, but if they are anywhere near the cost of the current freep store pots it’s not something most people will be able to afford to use regularly. Keeping a stack of them around for getting out of a tight spot might be useful, but for general gameplay they will probably be too expensive.

There was no image of a morale pot equivalent, but I assume there is one.

Thanks to Elyske for kindly posting the screenshots.