Book 12: The Ashen Wastes

Book 12 saw the revamp of Angmar and brought a lot of new updates and content with its implementation. Also referred to at times as the “Month of the Guardian” and the “Month of the Burglar” update, this book brought something I had been waiting for a long time: Guardian updates!

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Guardians received a long awaited update that provided many new skills.

Guardians

Since launch, guardians of Middle-earth had anxiously awaited their update. A few things seemed lacking for the main tank class of the game, but Turbine delivered with Book 12. Skills such as “Shield Wall” (one of my personal favorites) and the “Overpower Stance” were added and made the guardian more capable of not only being a defensive monster, but the ability to switch up to an offensive stance gave a much needed boost to DPS for those long days spent soloing the creatures of Middle-earth. To compliment “Overpower,” the guardian was given two other skills: “Force Opening,” a skill that forces a parry response, and “Stagger,” a skill that can slow the enemy’s movement and attack speed if used from behind the enemy.

Needless to say, the changes to the guardian were a welcome addition to the game. Other skills were tweaked as well and additional skills were included such as “Salt the Wound,” finally making “Thrust” worth using.

Burglar

The Burglar class also got its time in the limelight with 11 new skills to cause mischief. Ironically, one of those skills is in fact called “Mischief.” With Mischief active, burglars were given two additional skills. The first is a skill called “Clever Retort,” which can be used on an enemy with a trick on them, causing the burglar to receive morale or harm the target. There are four random effects, but all work in favor of our little trickster. The second skill is called “Confound.” This skill dazes the enemy and slows its attacks. This can land on up to two targets. However, it’s ineffective on Beasts, Insects, and Creatures of Nature.

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Angmar receive a major revamp as part of the update.

Along with those skills the burglar received a host of others that allowed it to deal damage over time, reset timers after successful “Fellowship Maneuvers,” and much more. Like the guardian, the burglar received a nice update that added to their skills and increased their role as a damage dealing, crowd controlling class, even though it required a bit of tweaking later.

The Great Angmar Revamp

Angmar received a huge revamp with this update. Many quests were re-worked and the developer’s admitted that things had gotten a little rushed at launch.

By the time development began on the Land of Angmar, the last region included in LOTRO at launch, the pressure was on: not only did we need to polish the rest of the game, but we needed to create an Angmar that lived up to its billing as the former home of the Witch-king. It was a period of late nights and early mornings, with all of us working at full speed to get everything done in time - and with a great deal of effort, we crossed the finish line and managed to avoid having to rename the game "The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of the North Downs"!

The great thing about MMORPGs is that there is always room for improvement and Turbine headed back to Angmar after launch and said “we can do better,” and they did. By making another pass at the region, the developers re-worked several quests to fit more with the dark lore behind the home of the Witch King. What sort of quests am I referring to you ask? Well, when you are sent to the land that one of the most evil characters in Tolkien’s lore called home, you expect to be asked to battle the dark forces of evil, the bane of the land, the plague of mankind. You know what I’m referring to: BOARS!!! Boars and the quest to kill them had become an all too common site in a land dripping of pure evil, so the developers made another pass and now the quests guide players more towards the story and less towards the boars.

The War on Spam

I will admit that until Book 12 came out I was trying to find a way to digitize my hands so I could shove them through my monitor and choke out gold spammers Matrix style. The problem had gotten so bad that I couldn’t log on without getting blasted by 10 gold spammer tells before I loaded and then having the general, trade, and OOC chat flood out anything I might have been trying to read. I could not /ignore fast enough. However, Turbine made a nice move with Book 12 that helped combat spam. In addition to making the trial accounts unable to spam chats and mailboxes, which is where a lot of it was coming from, Turbine also implemented an easy to use report option where all you needed to do was right click the name and select report as spam. This instantly reported the person and automatically added them to your ignore list. To that I say, bravo Turbine.

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The "Outfit System" allows for a wide range of customized looks.

The Rest

Book 12 also hailed some changes to Session Play in the Ettenmoors. Rangers and Trolls were adjusted to only allow two at any given time. One during regular periods and the second becomes available when your side is getting their ass handed to them six ways from Sunday. Players were also treated to a new “Outfit System”, which allows you to customize your characters look using any armor type you want and also to wear social clothing, thus adding to the roleplaying element of the game. This went well with the addition of the Spring Festival and all the fun little games that came with it.

One new dungeon was added to the game and it is a PvP contested dungeon called “The Delving of Frór”. I got the chance to peak at this dungeon before it was released and it was looking nice. When one faction controls access, the other can try to retake it, thus cutting off the other faction from reinforcements and leaving them open to a PvP assault.

Overall, Book 12 only gave a few new elements to the game. A vast majority of the update was aimed at improving existing content and while they may not sound like much, Turbine put a lot of work into this one and one only needs to read the patch notes just to see how vast the update really was.

Book 13: Doom of the Last-king

One of the big points for Book 13 was the addition of a new landmass just north of Evendim called Forochel. Remember that locked gate to the north of Ost Forod? Well that’s where it goes. This new region opened up over 100 new quests, enhanced the solo play, and gave a new faction, the Lossoth of Forochel, to grind reputation with. Along with the new faction comes a large assortment of reputation items to those popular enough to get them. Hey, who doesn’t love grinding rep?

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The Rift's Balrog was less than pleased with some of the changes.

As you head further north into Forochel, the land transitions into a snowy region. Just an advanced warning; stay out of the water.

The Balrog

The Rift’s big nasty balrog was a bit upset over some of the nerfs that came with this patch. One of the developers posted a satirical conversation with big nasty in the patch notes…

“[16:47] Balrog: wth

[16:47] Me: Hey Rog, what's up?

[16:48] Balrog: hav u seen teh patch notes?

[16:48] Me: Not yet. Why?

[16:48] Balrog: more nerfs. this is bs

[16:48] Me: What'd they nerf?

[16:48] Balrog: me, i'm totaly unplayable now

[16:49] Me: I don't know, man. You're pretty bad-***... how bad could it be?

[16:49] Balrog: u no that sweet attack i had that could almost 1shot that stupid elf? yeah, they dropped the crit multipliar down by 50%. how the hell am I suppose to 2shot her now?

[16:49] Balrog: completly unplayable

[16:49] Me: Well... that *was* pretty cheap of you.

[16:49] Balrog: pfft, whatever. ur just pissed u didnt roll a balrog instead of that pansy champion

[16:53] Balrog: man, they better fire the dev that did this

[16:53] Me: Is that likely to happen, though?

[16:53] Balrog: u just wait. i'm going to start a petition on the forums. once turbine sees how many monsters will be quitting over this theyll fix it

[16:54] Me: *sigh*

The Straight Dope: The Balrog's attacks have been adjusted so as to not two-shot kill Glathlirel.”

New Monster Class

Book 13 gave the monster players a new class to toy with called the Defiler. This new class is a healer and makes use of debuffs and poisons to aid the dark forces of the Ettenmoors.

Hobbies

Since the time LOTRO launched, at almost every developer IRC chat I attended there was always one question being asked, “When will fishing be in?”  Well, Book 13 gave us fishing as a hobby. Players can now seek out a hobby trainer, grab a fishing pole, and go catch something in the various fishing holes around Middle-earth.

The Rest

Classes and crafting received several adjustments with this update. Raids and Kinship options received a healthy dose of bug squashing and a few updates. Annúminas was given another pass and received a lot of updates to the current content, including a new broadcast for the three control points for the instance events.

Books 12 and 13 offered a huge amount of content that spanned both new and old gameplay with a twist. With the “Month of” class updates complete, the developers could focus on refining what works and enhancing current and future content. The Delving of Frór gave those looking for some great PvP/PvE competition a place to try and kill each other, while Forochel opened up a whole new landmass for PvE players to explore. And for people like me, there were improvements to the guardian class. Turbine is if nothing else consistent with their game updates, and they always find a way to keep you hooked just a little bit longer.


To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

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Stacy "Martuk" Jones was a long-time news editor and community manager for many of our previous game sites, such as Age of Conan. Stacy has since moved on to become a masked super hero, battling demons in another dimension.

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