It's a well-known fact that LotRO lacks the mount diversity shown by most other fantasy MMOs. It's pretty much horses all the way down, and chances are it's going to stay that way thanks to the IP. Unless, of course, the devs give in to my flying eagles suggestion. There just isn't much wiggle-room in Tolkien's works for the Free People of Middle-earth to be taking a 2012 Mechanospider to work.
However, the devs did shoehorn in one different flavor of mount for the Mines of Moria expansion. Goats received a room at the stable and were integral to navigating through the labyrinthine deeps. They never did match horses in terms of popularity or even variety, and I doubt that we'll be seeing War-goats for Riders of Rohan. Still, if I had my pick (and I do), I'd pick goats any day of the week. They're so much better than horses, and I'm going to tell you just why.
When it comes to your choice of mount, out of the two varieties in LotRO, only one is able to navigate both out in the open and in the caverns of Moria. Horses and ponies don't really like spelunking, but goats are more fearless than those feckle equines and stomp through the dark with impunity.
Seriously, having a good goat mount is such a boon when you're in Moria. There's a lot of ground, both vertical and horizontal, to traverse, and without a goat, you're stuck jogging the entire way. It used to be that getting a goat mount was a long reputation grind in one form or another, but nowadays you can pick up a starter goat (the '08 model) right inside the doors.
When I was leveling up my Lore-master, I made getting a good goat mount a high priority before I hit Moria. I accomplished this by spending a spring festival grinding Ale Association rep until I was able to buy the 250-morale steed. It was so worth it, especially since the high morale helped keep me on my goat long after a starter mount would've failed.
Goats are superior in looks
Some people just plain don't like the look of goats, perhaps because of their stocky nature or weird slitted eyes. Personally, I love them. I think they look so much more interesting than horses, and I feel way more unique riding one in a populated area.
Goats also allowed the artists at Turbine to be a little more creative with accessories. Goats have more room behind the rider to haul equipment, and several of the models reflect this. I have a pre-order goat that has a light that swings to and fro as a ride, the Ale Association mount with kegs of liquid delight back there, and a Treasure Laden goat that drops coins from its gold bags every now and then.
The barding on the goats looks gorgeous, especially for the reputation mounts. They definitely draw the eye, and if you like showing off in a crowd, you can't do better than a beast that boasts two large horns and exterior lighting. Beat that, horses!
Plus, goats have beards, and beards are way cool. Just ask our editor-in-chief and Master Beardsmith, Shawn Schuster.
Goats are superior in attitude
Probably the reason that I love goats the best is that they feel so anti-establishment in the renaissance faire atmosphere of the game. They're the stocky SUVs of Middle-earth that can go anywhere and do anything out of sheer stubbornness. Just the fact that so many people seem to dislike them makes me cling to them even more.
I don't think even Turbine likes goats that much these days. I know the studio stepped on a few toes when it introduced them, and some of the lore purists blanched at throwing Hobbits on anything other than a Shadowfax copycat. While new horses are added to the game and sold from the store constantly, it's a rare blue moon indeed that sees a fresh goat model.
With Riders of Rohan's mounted combat, goats will probably become all but extinct outside of Moria (unless, of course, Turbine adds another extensive underground area that requires them). I'd much rather be equipping my trusty goat with armor and butting my way through wargs than prancing around on top of a horse, but I guess I won't have a choice in that regard.
Goats aren't that easy to come by apart from the starter version sold inside Moria's doors. However, with some perseverance and homework, you too could be the envy of all the rams, ewes, and livestock in the Shire!
Here's where you can find them:
- Treasure Laden goat (250 morale, +68% run speed): If you have good luck, this could be the easiest way to snag a premium-level goat in the game. It comes from the sporadic buried treasure event, and you can find them only as rare drops in the extra large holes. There's only one of these holes per round, so it might require some diligence. I managed to get both a goat and a pony within five minutes of each other, however.
- Nimble Redhorn-goat (250 morale, +62% run speed): This is the Moria (Iron Garrison) reputation goat. It does require a long rep grind, but if you have rep items stocked up or are doing most of Moria anyway, it might not demand that much extra effort to acquire.
- Nimble Black goat (250 morale, +68% run speed): Awesome goat in both looks and stats, but it's a pain to get. You have to complete the Saviour of Khazad-dûm meta-deed, and that's a long, long haul even if you're a dedicated dungeon runner.
- Wild Mountain-goat (250 morale, +68% run speed): This is another meta-deed goat (Saviour of Lothlórien), and as such, is probably inaccessible to all but the most crazy of us. Shame, I kind of like it.
- Prized Ale Association goat (250 morale, +68% run speed): I may be prejudiced because I have one, but I think this is the best-looking goat in the game. If you do the AA rep dailies during festivals, you can easily earn one in a week or so, which makes this a sure thing as long as you're willing to do the work.
- Prized Thorin's Hall goat (250 morale, +62% run speed): I'm not as keen on this one due to the look and the slightly slower run speed, but Thorin's Hall rep isn't hard to come by (and that reputation even kicks in a virtues boost if you're a Dwarf).
- Fleet-footed goat (250 morale, +68% run speed): Dang, this is a good-looking mount. Unfortunately, it's a LotRO store-exclusive mount, meaning that you need to shell out 1995 TP to get it. It's also not always on sale, so you have to wait for Turbine to put it out there.
They're underdogs of the LotRO mount world, but goats are nevertheless superior and sneer at the competition from atop of the Misty Mountain peaks.
When not enjoying second breakfast and a pint of ale, Justin "Syp" Olivetti jaws about hobbits in his Lord of the Rings Online column, The Road to Mordor. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.