Lotro: Revisiting Urugarth, alone this time.

When Lotro was first released (Shadows of Angmar) the six man Urugarth and it's sister instance Carn Dum were the "End Game". Level 50 Players used to  run them repeatedly to collect the class items which dropped only from the instance bosses. Nowadays those items can be more easily obtained from soloing skirmishes so Carn Dum and Uru' are neglected even by players levelling alts. Howeevr when I decided to try and get those class items for my level 47 Loremaster I had a mad notion to try it the old fashioned way (albeit using my level 65 Champion Throg to solo the instances) and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

The elite and elite master mobs hit surprisingly hard despite Throg's 15 level advantage. It took multiple attempts and several hours to clear the place out. The Champions AOE abilities proved very useful at burning down mobs as did the ability to switch to tanking mode when more survivability was required. I will admit to cheating on the "nemesis" bosses by using a stack of cash shop morale potions. These heal for less than standard potions but have a much shorter cooldown so they are more likely to be available when you need them. 

What really struck me during the solo run was that I never really understood how the instance worked before despite running it many times in groups back in the day. I tagged along on several kin runs while we amassed class items but I always found group instances to be rushed and frenetic affairs. Some folk clearly knew the way and knew what to do but I was never one of them. I followed along and hit what I was told to hit. Going solo you get to see everything and you get to do everything. It is a very different experience to tackling content in a group and I think I actually prefer it which is an odd admission to make about an mmorpg.

Aside: It has been a while since I played Lotro and a lot of skills have been adjusted. This exercise proved a great way to relearn how things work. I discovered that the Champ's old favourite "Fervour" stance is even better than it was at maximum dps, minimum defence and I used this for most of the instance. "Glory" mode which emphasises tanking and defence over dps has become much more useful for solo survivability because it now reduces the cool-down of a Champs main self heal: Bracing Attack. I used glory when tackling three or more elites and on elite master bosses where the increased survivability outweighed the lack of dps. "Ardour" has obviously been re-purposed as an aoe stance but I couldn't really get it to work. I found that I did more aoe damage in fervour mode despite ardour's bonuses. Perhaps it would work better if I were traited differently. Also worth mentioning is the small but significant change of making Second Wind  a "use any time" skill rather than "only after defeating an enemy" as it used to be. It has become a bottomless source of power and means the Champion never runs out even in Glory mode.

Second aside: The reason for my return to Lotro is that I have signed up for Prof Jay Clayton's course Online Games: Literature New Media and Narrative. The course is hugely impressive so far. Hopefully I will blog about it later.


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