Getting started with the LotRO Skirmish system

Dan O'Halloran
D. O'Halloran|12.04.09

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Getting started with the LotRO Skirmish system
With Lord of the Ring Online's Siege of Mirkwood expansion launch on Tuesday came the new Skirmish system. And with it also came a lot of questions. Though Turbine posted a number of Dev Diaries going over the various aspects of the new private instance system and its reward system, the same questions kept popping up in the game. We'll try to answer as many as we can here.

How do I get started with the Skirmish system? What level do I need to be?

If you are level 30 or above, you will receive mail with an attachment. Putting the attachment in your bags will start a quest that will send you to the nearest Skirmish Camps. The camps are in many places around Middle-earth. A complete list has been compiled on the new Skirmish forums by a generous player. You don't need to buy the expansion to use the Skirmish system, but your access will be limited until you do.

How do I, uh, Skirmish?

Turbine wants you to run through a few quests that amount to a tutorial before unleashing you into the real deal. When you talk to a Skirmish Captain at a Skirmish Camp, he will first ask you to bring back 10 War Orders found on evil humanoid mobs (orcs, warg riders, etc) in your level range. The drop rate is low at first, but picks up after you get your first. After you get all 10, you need to get 1 Target List from the same kinds of mobs. If you are in your 50s, I recommend running a quick Crafting Instance in Moria.

After you turn in the orders, the Skirmish Captain there will send you into your first Skirmish. Here you will get two new skills: one to summon a Soldier (an NPC that you control in Skirmishes); and one to direct the Soldier on who to attack. The second skill is important because you won't have any control over how your Soldier reacts in a fight except for this one, and it has a cool down.

After you finish this first Skirmish, you will use the Skirmish Join panel to get into the second Skirmish tutorial. This one has you defending the Prancing Pony from invaders. But before the fun begins, a quest NPC shows you how to transform your Soldier into a specific Role. You are able to buy the Warrior Role, then open up the Soldier's Trait panel and slot it. This turns your generic companion into the Warrior Role which specializes in melee dps. After protecting the Prancing Pony from waves of bad guys and a few bosses, you are sent back to the Skirmish Captain to turn in your quest and receive another Soldier Role your choice. You will also find you have now earned a pocketful of a new currency called Skirmish Marks.

How do I turn my Soldier into something other than a Warrior?

Find the Skirmish Trainer at any camp and buy the Role you want (healer, ranged dps, tank, etc.) You may also want to purchase some extra abilities (Skills) and passive skills (Training) for them as well as some personal skills for yourself. All of these are purchased with Skirmish Marks. All Roles, skills, etc. have ranks and you can buy higher ranks with your Marks.

How do I slot my new Soldier abilities?

Find the Skirmish Captain at any camp and he will give you the option to slot these new traits for your Soldier. He's essentially the bard for Soldiers.

Why is there more than one Attribute slot for my Soldier when I can only slot one Role there?

The other slots are for cosmetic upgrades to your soldier. There is a cosmetics vendor in the camp that sells different outfits and hairstyles for your Soldier to separate them from the generic look of everyone else's Soldier. This costs, of course, Skirmish Marks (and some other specialized marks, see below.) You can change your Soldier's gender, race, clothing, hair and more this way, but are limited by the number of Attribute slots available.

Ok, I got my new friend traited and I want to do a real Skirmish. Uh, how do I do that?

You can join a Skirmish from anywhere in the game (except in PVmP, instances or in combat.) You don't have to be in a Skirmish camp. Just open the Skirmish panel (ctrl + j) wherever you are, select the level of monsters, the level of difficulty, the size of the group and one of the Skirmishes listed. A second window will open confirming your choices and from there you can click TRAVEL and you will be zoned into your Skirmish. When you are done with your Skirmish, you will be transported back to where you were when you joined it. There are Skirmishes designed around going on the offensive, defending an area or simply surviving.

How many Soldiers do I get?

One. He is going to start off weak so be sure to spend Skirmish Marks on upgrading his Role, Skill and Training ranks as quick as you can.

Why is there no loot on the corpses?

Turbine wanted the Skirmishes to be fast paced, so only bosses and lieutenants will drop loot.

What are these other Skirmish Marks I'm getting?

These are used to buy special items in the camp. Check all the vendors in any Skirmish camp to see what each one carries and what Marks they want. If you find you don't have the right Mark, check with the Curiosities vendor in the camp. He offers the ability to exchange specialty Marks (both upgrading and downgrading.) If you are looking for Campaign Marks necessary for many Cosmetic items, they primarily spawn on the optional Encounter bosses that pop up randomly in Skirmishes.

What do I do with these Bounty drops I'm getting in Skirmishes?

This is vendor trash and the descriptive text for the item in-game will soon reflect that.

What if I don't like my Archer/Protector/Herbalist, etc.?

Buy a new one at the Skirmish Trainer along with some talents and re-trait your Soldier at the Skirmish Captain. The cost is minimal. It may even be worth it to re-trait a few times a night while running different Skirmishes. As a Lore-master, I've been running with an Archer in Skirmishes where friendly NPCs will tank for me. But in other Skirmishes where I'm left to do all the tanking, I'll re-trait my Soldier into a Protector. Try a few different Soldiers and see which one works best for you in each Skirmish.

What are these golden quest rings next to the Skirmish instance list in the Skirmish panel?

Those mean there is a daily quest associated with that Skirmish. Basically, Turbine doesn't want you to grind the same Skirmish non-stop so they reward you with extra Skirmish Marks and experience the first time you do it that night via the daily quest. Every Skirmish has a daily quest associated with it, so you may want to hit every one before repeating any in a given day for maximum Skirmish Mark farming.

What's the exclamation mark next to the Skirmish instance list in the Skirmish panel?

It means you haven't tried that Skirmish yet. Give it a try.

Why do I keep dying in my Skirmish?

First, check your Skirmish settings. Did you accidentally set it to Small Fellowship when you are really soloing it? Also check the level and difficulty settings. After that, think about changing your Soldier to another Role that may work better with your main character. It doesn't cost much to experiment. If you think you are using the best Soldier Role, consider buying higher ranks of that Role from the Skirmish Trainer along with higher ranks of their Skills and Training.

If you're still finding it too difficult, you can always lower the level of the Skirmish so you're a level or two higher than the mobs inside (though you will earn fewer Skirmish Marks).

Why can't I kill [insert boss] in my Skirmish?

Each end boss has a different mechanic to defeat them. Pay attention to any NPC or boss speech for a clue. Also pay attention to any billboard text that appears and any buff / debuff icons on the boss for clues on strategy.

What are these Lieutenant monsters that are attacking me during skirmishes?

Lieutenants are a special type of sub-bosses that will appear frequently during skirmishes. Which Lieutenant will appear in a certain location (or at a certain time) is randomized. Each named Lieutenant has a unique set of skills or abilities that they will always attempt to use, no matter which skirmish they show up in. By learning what they can do, and what you can do to counter them, fighting them becomes easier over time.

Killing Lieutenants is rewarded with Skirmish Marks, possible loot and incremental Killing Deeds that reward even more Skirmish Marks.

How does the loot on the Skirmish vendors compare to the rest of the game?

The armor and weapons are about equivalent to quest drops for your level more or less. So don't be expecting too many upgrades if you are raiding or even 6-manning regularly. That being said, there is a lot more than armor and weapons that you can purchase with your Marks:
  • Healing, mana and curing potions
  • Rare crafting components
  • Rare quest drops for class quests (yes, you read that right)
  • Legendary weapons
  • IXP runes for Legendary weapons
  • Scrolls that reset all the Legendary points spent on your Legendary weapon
  • Scrolls that upgrade Legacies on your Legendary weapons
  • Soldier Attributes to change their gender, race, hair, clothing and more
  • Housing items
  • New outfits for players
Be sure to check out all the vendors at a Skirmish Camp (any camp, they all carry the same stuff.)

How many people can I Skirmish with?

You can set the Skirmish for solo, small fellowship, large fellowship and 12 man raid versions. Note: some don't have a solo mode, i.e. Survival - Barrow-downs.

What's the penalty for dying in a Skirmish?

Thankfully, not Dread, but a temporary debuff that reduces the amount of Skirmish Marks you get for your activities in the Skirmish. If you die, it's often not the end of the Skirmish. Your Soldier and helpful NPCs will fight on, allowing you to respawn and head back into the fight. However, some Skirmishes, like "Survival - Barrow-downs" ends upon your death as the goal in those particular instances is to stay alive as long as possible. The debuff is removed when you leave the Skirmish or one hour passes, whichever comes first.

What are these "Encounters" that pop up during my Skirmish?

These are extra bosses that have a random chance to spawn during your Skirmish. They will spawn outside of aggro range so you have the option of engaging them or ignoring them. Note that if you do engage them, it does not stop the rest of the Skirmish and the next wave of mobs will be descending on you whether or not you are ready. I recommend fighting them when an incoming wave of mobs DOES NOT have a lieutenant or boss in it. Defeating these optional Encounter bosses results in a deed and is one of the best ways to farm Campaign Marks.

What are these Minor flags that I have looted?

These are temporary, area-based buffs and debuffs. Basically, click on it out of your inventory to either get the buff or debuff the mobs if they are in the circle of affect that appears on the ground. Use these before the end of Skirmish as they will be removed from your inventory when you leave. Good for that extra edge in fighting a boss if you can manuever within the area of effect.

Why won't the game let me start another Skirmish?

You are limited to starting 5 every hour. Also, if you haven't purchased the expansion, you are limited even more than that.

Where can I learn more?

Check out the recent Dev Diaries that go into great detail about many aspects of the Skirmish system: Also, one of the devs has started a thread on the official forums with helpful hints for navigating the various Skirmish interfaces.

Whew! Did I miss anything? Any burning questions about Skirmishes that I can answer? Let me know in the comments below. A special thanks to the LotRO devs who checked this FAQ for accuracy.
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