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Every game has a few choke-points where leveling is slowed
down, where players have to decide betwen moving on to a new, more
challenging area for faster experience gain or remaining where they are
and gamely facing a long, sweaty haul through tough, less-fun content.
While fun is a completely subjective thing, there's no denying that
some areas in the Lord
of the Rings Online
have a definite slog-and-grind
factor: areas full of tough elites coupled with mediocre quest rewards,
irritating maps, fast respawns and a few other criteria that work
together to make a place at once dull and more difficult than it's

Not every player is the same, and some players will want to
experience everything the game has to offer. Some folks even enjoy
these brutal grind-fests for whatever reason.  And to be fair,
some of these areas offer some good experience for new players - not in
the form of quest XP, really, but actual hands-on experience with
challenging group content, because groups are needed to run this
content. It can be a needed change of pace after soloing for a long
time, and learning how a class works within a group is invaluable for
later in the game when that's the sort of thing you will be expected to

The people for whom this guide is intended are the ones who
want to level efficiently. Whether the player is trying to level
quickly to get to the next stage in his career, or to meet level
requirements for a particular item, or many other reasons, sometimes it
is prudent to move on to areas where XP gain is faster and more
consistent. One can always come back to these areas later to experience
them to the fullest. But when trying to get from Point A to Point B
level-wise, sometimes it's best to cut out on the slow stuff and move
on to the fast.

A quick caveat: some of these are my own personal bias and
your mileage may vary. But when I am leveling up a new alt, this is the
stuff I avoid whenever possible. Also note that I am not saying that
these places SHOULD be avoided; only that they can be in the interests
of faster, more efficient level advancement.

There's more ahead! On to Page 2!

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Bree-land: Old Forest

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bears, evil trees, roots that could work as military snipers... this
looks like a fine place for a parking lot.

Level Range: mid- to late-teens

Why To Avoid: This place is a
giant maze infested with spiders, bears and violent, elite trees.
Quests generally involve navigating the maze to find or kill things in
remote locations, then slogging all the way back out back through all
the things you just finished killing. The map is very unhelpful,
failing to adequately illustrate impassable paths and dead ends.
Interactive maps from certain other websites do not help much either,
as most paths are underneath the great, oppressive canopy and cannot be
seen from overhead. The radar is similarly useless here. Fighting the
mobs here on-level is difficult: the bears are very strong, the spiders
like to toss out incapacitating webs and the elite trees are usually
surrounded by a small handful of hard-to-target roots with long-range
attacks. The experience is only slightly less aggravating with a group,
and only if that group can manage to stick together and not get
separated and lost. Kill-XP is gained relatively fast here, since the
place is packed with mobs, but quests take inordinately long to turn
in. At this level, any quest rewards are basically disposable and not
worth spending hours to earn.

What To Do Instead: Quests out of
Buckland and Adso's Camp, along the road heading north to
North Downs, and Barrow-Downs. 

Go Ahead And Run It If: you have
a good group and someone knows their way around; you really, really
want the exploration deeds; you have a high tolerance for spider-,
bear- and killer-tree-infested mazes.

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Lone-lands: Agamaur and Garth Agarwen

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gloom, evil trees, ghosts and ghouls and crazy men in costumes...
sounds like a nice Hallowe'en party, but it's just Garth Agarwen. *sigh*

Level Range: high-20s - 30s

Why To Avoid: There are not
really enough quests for this area to make the slogging worthwhile. The
Garth Agarwen instances are not too bad, and the rewards are nice, but be prepared to really work for them - the instances are difficult with an on-level group. The
western undead section of the swamp is slightly less of a grind, but
anything in the east is brutal and rather tedious. The Corcurs are all
elites and the gloom-waters hit very hard, so running through this area
even with a group will likely cost a lot of potions and whatnot, making
it rather expensive compared to the rewards. Gaining reputation with
the Eglain is basically unimportant after Acquaintance (which is needed for the
Book 2 chain) and Acquaintance can be gained by doing the quest chains
out of Forsaken Inn and the Eglain camp.

What To Do Instead: Quests in
Esteldin, Othrikar and Meluinen in North Downs. At 30-plus, head to
Tinnudir and Ost Forod in Evendim. If you just need the rep, do the crafting quests from the guy in Ost Guruth.

Go Ahead And Run It If: you find
a good group with a solid tank and a good healer; you really want
Eglain reputation for the World Renowned title and horse, and don't want to do the crafting quests; you are a fan of the color red.

There's more ahead! On to Page 3!

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North Downs: Fornost

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arch is basically the only nice thing about Fornost. Everything else is
a grind through a dermatological nightmare.

Level Range: high-20s - 30s

Why To Avoid: A grind through
hordes of elite boars, aurochs, bears, worms and orcs with weak,
disposable rewards for the few quests out of the quest hub camp there.
The Fornost instance is not scaled (yet) and is very difficult for
on-level characters, especially for newer players who do not yet fully
know the strengths and weaknesses of their classes. Most often, a small
group of on-level players will have a higher-level guide power them
through the place, which is sort of pointless: the rewards don't really
merit the effort, and if the players are just doing it for the XP it
can be earned faster in Esteldin and other places. In all fairness, the
instance is actually pretty neat and worth seeing, but XP gain is
essentially put on hold while doing it, and it is expensive to run
(potions, repairs).

What To Do Instead: Quests in
Esteldin, Othrikar and Meluinen in North Downs, or Tinnudir and Ost
Forod in Evendim if the character is level 30 or higher.

Go Ahead And Run It If: you can
get a good group together for the instance; you want the worm-slayer
deed without having to go to the mountain passes between Esteldin and
Angmar; you want to eradicate mange and other nasty skin diseases from
the wildlife of the North Downs.

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North Downs: Dol Dinen and Taur Gonwaith

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had it up to HERE with Dol Dinen! Heck with this, I'm going to

Level Range: mid- to late-20s

Why To Avoid: Dol Dinen is
chock-full of elite trolls and orc defilers with fights deeper in that
are challenging even for much higher-level characters. It's very far
from the quest initiators and all the target mobs are spaced far apart
and separated by walls of trolls and elite orcs that are not related to
the quests. Choke points into deeper areas are guarded by elite trolls
with defilers keeping them healed and fast respawn rates, occasionally
resulting in perpetual battles at some gates (as soon as all the adds
are dealt with, another troll respawns). Some of the mobs for quests
have very low populations and if multiple parties are attempting the
same quests, waiting for respawns can take a long time. Taur Gonwaith
is a smaller area, also troll-infested, with one big cave to explore
and about a billion trolls milling around, and very few related quests.

What To Do Instead: Move on to
Evendim or one of the other towns in North Downs.

Go Ahead And Run It If: you have
a decent group, including a higher-level Hunter to save on travel time;
you want to do the troll-slayer deed; the idea of perpetual fights
around gates appeals to you.

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Evendim: Tyl Ruinen, Rumming's Riddle chain

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are you prettying yourself up for me? Why do you choose to live amidst
all these fire-breathing salamanders? Why... WHY did I come here in the
first place?"

Level Range: mid-30s

Why To Avoid: This one falls
under "honorable mention," because I actually usually end up doing this
chain and then hating myself for it. Getting to the island involves
swimming all the way across Lake Everswim from Tinnudir, or taking the
boat across the lake and running south along the coast and then
swimming. This chain involves solving a string of riddles by selecting
the correct boxes, all of which are guarded by numerous fire-breathing
salamanders, which can be very tough fights when the character is
with them. Some of the riddle solutions don't make a lot of sense, and
picking the incorrect box means having to run back to Humfrey Rumming
(who is also surrounded by fire-breathing salamanders and is a
ridiculous jerk of a man) to restart it. The double-boss fight at the
end of the chain is not too horrible, but if you die and have to
retreat it's a 10-minute hike back. And the quest reward is weak.

What To Do Instead: Pretty much
anything else in Evendim. 

Go Ahead And Run It If: you are
working on the salamander-slayer deed, since the island is crawling
with them; you have high fire damage mitigation and/or good ranged
attacks; you are a sucker for riddles.

There's more ahead! On to Page 4!

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Trollshaws: Whole Region

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Tom and Bill had the right idea. Now if only all the other trolls in
the Trollshaws would follow their lead...

Level Range: mid-30s - 40

Why To Avoid: Travel time between
quest initiators and objectives is in the neighborhood of "extreme,"
and often involves following twisting, ankle-breaking paths between
trolls, elite spiders, massive bears, invisible wolves and numerous
other irritating hazards. This is the case of the whole region, from
the Last Bridge to Rivendell. Some of the quests from Barachen's camp in the
southeast are not too aggravating and the objectives are not super-far
from the bestowers, but Thorenhad and Echad Candelleth are brutal.
While the area is absolutely lovely to look at as a "tourist," actually
navigating the canyons and cliffs for quests is another matter
entirely. Players with a poor sense of in-game direction will get
frustrated by the dead ends and meandering valleys. Some of the quest
rewards are pretty good here, but they take a long time to earn because
of travel distance, and at this level, most gear is basically
disposable because of the rate at which characters cycle through it.

What To Do Instead: Evendim and
skirmishes. You can seriously skip the whole region without any adverse

Go Ahead And Run It If: you've
already done skirmish dailies and all the Evendim stuff; you want to
get a head start on the crawler-slayer deed, which can take a very long
time to complete; you like long, meandering strolls through the woods
and have no fear of heights.

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Misty Mountains: Goblin-Town

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you have a giant red flag, BFD. So does every other room in

Level Range: 45 - 50

Why To Avoid: An
elite-goblin-packed maze that never seems to end and where everything
looks the same. Respawn rates are fairly fast - by the time you clear
out a room, the hallway behind it has already refilled with goblins, so
you have to fight your way out after you've fought your way in. The
small handful of quests for this massive grindfest are all bestowed in
remote places in the Misty Mountains and Rivendell, it is a fair
distance to the nearest travel point and there are no mustering horns
or Hunter ports nearby, so travel time is a

What To Do Instead: Forochel and
Eregion are both better options for this range. For page drops, kill
Corcurs and Dourhands elsewhere in the Misty Mountains area.

Go Ahead And Run It If: Corcurs
and Dourhands are not dropping pages; you have a good group that
doesn't mind a long, dreary haul; you need Elves of Rivendell rep;
you're a lore-junkie and want to see Gollum's cave, which is actually
pretty cool.

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Angmar: East Angmar

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that I can use the instance join panel to run Carn Dum and Urugarth, I
can leave here forever and never look back. Ok, maybe one last look..."

Level Range: 45 - 50

Why To Avoid: This area, like the
others listed here, is jam-packed with elites. Imlad Balchorth has
elite undead, East Malenhad has elite worms and trolls, the hills
around Barad Gularan are crawling with elite spiders and wargs, and
elite Angmarim, merrevail and more spiders patrol the roads in the
northeast. Couple this with ankle-breaking drops, dead-ends filled with
awful things, choke-points guarded by elite trolls and fear-aura
statues and you have a region that is basically unfit for leveling. The
quest hubs are located in remote spots which are irritating to get to,
and you need high rep with the Council of the North for the swift
travel to Gath Forthnir. The only content really worth running here is
the three instances, which can be joined via the instance join panel
and no longer require slogging through the teeming swarms of orcs and
Angmarim that line the paths between Gath Forthnir and Carn Dum.

What To Do Instead: Forochel and
Eregion. These areas are much larger and not filled to the brim with

Go Ahead And Run It If: you want
the swift-travel to Gath Forthnir for the later epic book quests; you
want the troll-slayer and Angmarim-slayer deeds; you feel that Forochel
and Eregion are too cheery and want a little more gloom in your game.

There's more ahead! On to Page 5!

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Lower Moria: Foundations of Stone

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matter how many terrifying spikes you put on it. The purple, pink and
orange color scheme is worthy only of mockery and derision.

Level Range: 57 - 60

Why To Avoid: This
pink-and-purple hell is a haven for lumpy, awful, powerful trolls with
a damage-aura, so even just standing near them hurts. Unllike the
relatively simple 2-dimensional labyrinths like Old Forest, this one is
3-dimensional, which adds a whole extra dimension of brain-hurting
turns and twists and spider-and-troll-filled dead ends, PLUS
ankle-breaking drops, PLUS a giant green lake in the middle. Basically,
it takes all the things that make the other bad places horrible and
packs them all into one awful cluster. The quest hub at Shadowed Refuge
is far away from most of the quest objectives and can be very difficult
to find again once you've completed the quests and want to hand them
While the area does not have quite as many elites as the other "avoid"
areas do, the elites that are there are brutally tough and
inconveniently located.

What To Do Instead: Western
You've been in the mines long enough by this point, go back out and get
some sun. Or finish quests in the higher levels of Moria until you hit

Go Ahead And Run It If: you are
running with a good group, and one of you has exceptional spatial

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Lothlorien: Calas Galadhon and Points East

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I could climb up all those winding circular staircases and blind
ladders looking for the last flet-runner, or I could skip it with
absolutely no consequences and do something fun instead. Decisions,

Level Range: 58 - 60

Why To Avoid:
It's a quest pack you don't need to buy. Completing the epic books up
to the end of Volume II Book 8 will get you all the Galledhrim rep you
need to cross over to Mirkwood. Calas Galadhon looks pretty nice from a
distance, but navigating the place involves a lot of running in circles
around the trunks of the great trees on staircases with no safety
railings, and moving from flet to flet via a "chutes-and-ladders" style
of half-blind travel. After attaining Acquaintance rep with the
Galledhrim, there's not really a need to stay there, as Mirkwood will
take you from 60 to 65 in just a few days. Galledhrim reputation is
touchy and easy to lose if you accidentally kill the wrong animals,
since some of them are protected and some (that look exactly the same)
are not. The only quest really worth doing is the one where you have to
chastise drunk elves. This is, admittedly, a personal bias - I just
like the idea of being mean to elves for any reason. Another personal
bias against Lothlorien: my main is a Hunter, and there are no Hunter
ports anywhere in the place. I actually have to run there.

What To Do Instead:
Finish Volume II epic books up to the end of Book 8, do the Moria
instances for the excellent radiance armor. Hit Mirkwood as soon as you
hit 60.

Go Ahead And Run It If: you want
one of
the best damage scrolls in the game (Beleriand plus Orc-slayer), which
is only available from the vendors in Calas Galadhon and requires
kindred standing and 20 gold leaves; you need a break from the
deep, dark gloom of Moria before heading into the deep, dark gloom of
Mirkwood; the mopey, whiny attitude of the elves doesn't make you want
to punch them all in the head.

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Southern Mirkwood: The Drownholt

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when a screenshot comes out really dark, I tweak the brightness and
contrast settings to improve visibility. This time, it seemed more
appropriate to give an accurate visual representation of what you would
see in the actual game: nothing, plus circles.

Level Range: early-60s

Why To Avoid:  Despite
not being a maze or being infested with hordes of elites, this place is
difficult to navigate. It's a gloomy and horrible swamp, the gloomiest
and most horrible area in Mirkwood (which is saying a lot), that drains
power while you walk through it. The big jungle cats are vicious and
knock characters around, and because they are black shapes against a
dark background, they are difficult to see sometimes... until they
attack. The crawlers, which are passive everywhere else, are
instant-aggro here; even they hate the place. The path up to the quest
hub, way up on top of the hill, is subtle to the point of being
difficult to find. 

What To Do Instead: Head to Emyn
Lum and the Scuttledells. The Scuttledells, being a giant
invisible-spider-infested maze, almost made this list, but it is airy
and spacious compared to some other spider-infested mazes and a
veritable treat compared to Drownholt.

Go Ahead And Run It If: you
simply must run all the Mirkwood content to wring maximum value out of
the expansion; you are working on the exploration deeds; you have the
ability to see shadows at night.

Almost done! On to Page 6!

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alt="Maur Tulhau"

I could run around here with all these evil little feral hobbits
picking up pig crap for basically zero reward, or I could bash my head
against a rock. Decisions, decisions..."

Last but not least, a dishonorable mention goes to Maur
Tulhau, the
Stoor village in northwest Enedwaith. Enedwaith has 2 competing
factions - the Grey Company and the Algraig - which is the only real
incentive for going there at level cap. The quests out of Maru Tulhau
serve neither of these factions, earn no XP (since you are already at
level cap by the time you get here), and furthermore they are, quite
frankly, a little bit insulting. Consider: by the time you get there,
your character is an epic hero who has fought powerful minions of the
greatest evil Middle-Earth has ever known. He is wielding weapons the
likes of which have not been seen for thousands of years, and is able
to stand against foes that would make most men literally die of fear.
And the hobbits in Maur Tulhau would like for you to go and fetch them
some pig crap. More than once. That quest is repeatable.

All in all, whether or not you decide you want to invest the
time into an area or quest line is totally up to you. Often, it will be
a time-versus-payoff argument: is the time invested worth the potential
experience and gear rewards? Can you earn the same (or better) rewards
somewhere else? Will you need to complete these quests to open up new,
more exciting parts of the game? If the answer to these questions is
"no," it's safe to move on.

But, if you really want to do them, no one is stopping you.
Just don't expect a lot of enthusiasm when you start looking for a

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016