As voted in last week's poll, I dedicated this week to playing in a few skirmishes before I go full-force into Evendim. I dipped my feet in the skirmish waters and then dived back in for more, but was it an entirely positive experience?
I've also noticed that I'm making a ton of gold in this game -- way more than I was when I originally played it. Right now I'm standing at around four and a half gold, when previously I think the most I ever had saved at one time was two or three gold. And that's with my level 60 character! But I'm not spending anything on crafting supplies, I didn't buy my horse, and I'm selling things on the auction house like crazy. Combined with the daily Hobbit gifts and what seems to just be more dropped money overall, I've found that it's not hard to make some serious gold in LotRO now.
I won't make this a complete guide to skirmishes, but I will go over the basics. Skirmishes are short instances that are highly customizable for character level, fellowship size, and difficulty level. They can be joined from anywhere (by pressing Cntrl-J) and reward the player with tokens known as marks and reputation for various factions.
The marks can be traded at skirmish camps for anything from weapons, armor, jewelry, crafting items, cosmetics, relics, and more. Skirmishes are either offensive, defensive, or survival-mode, and each one has an end-boss. There are also random lieutenants that switch around so you can never completely prepare for one type of skirmish going in. This keeps you and your party on your toes, always ready for whichever lieutenant is thrown at you.
Free players have access to the first two skirmishes but must unlock the next eight themselves. The remaining nine skirmishes are available through certain Book (storyline) quest requirements, starting with Vol. II, Book 5, Chapter 5.
Overall, I really enjoyed the skirmishes I played. I think they're constructed with casual players in mind, allowing them to still have great items that are earned through short bursts of play rather than long questlines and frustrating grind. The Siege of Gondamon skirmish reminded me a lot of Guild Wars' Thunderhead Keep, which was always a legendary mission in that game. Some of the others center around capturing key points and making sure important NPCs survive. Nothing is revolutionary in terms of quest mechanics (that I've found so far), but the skirmishes are fun and rewarding.
The Esteldin-area quests have always been some of my favorites. No matter what areas I skip in the earlier zones, I always make sure to head over to Evendim and start those quests as early as I can, while everything is still orange or yellow to me. But as much as I love these eastern North-downs quests, I must head over to Evendim to complete my adventure.
I'm still a bit under-level for most of Evendim, so I'm going to try for level 31 or 32 before I make the trek. Once there, I'll level as much as I can, but I still need your input on what else I should do. And then for my final week in LotRO, I'll let you know what I think of the Evendim changes, give some helpful tips on easy leveling in this revamped LotRO, and give my overall impressions of the game as it stands (up to the mid-30s).
So vote in this week's poll and let me know what you'd like to see for my finale. Get those votes in by 9 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 17th. And feel free to come say hi and do some questing with me around Evendim. Look for a scraggly-bearded Warden named Ehrdred on the Landroval server.
- Photo Travelogue: With this choice, I'll focus on spotlighting the beauty that is Evendim. I'll venture down to Annuminas and the Oakbarton area, over Lake Evendim to Emyn Uial, and across Ost Forod toward Forochel.
- Quest and level: With this choice, I'll progress through Evendim normally, according to the questline.
- Focus on changes: With this option, I'll focus on explaining the changes that happened to Evendim (way back in March of 2011!) including barter tokens, boats, Oakbarton area additions, etc.
It's Shawn's turn back in the driver's seat of Choose My Adventure with you as the co-pilot. It's going to be a rough ride, so put on your seat belt! If you want to read a full six weeks of farcical puns about cars and farming, be sure to tune in every Wednesday as the adventure continues to unfold.