Rise of Isengard is one week away, and if you want to hit the ground running, you'll need to make some final preparations. Some of these are simple stockpiling, but some will be a little more complex depending on your class and how you play it.
Dunland is a dangerous place, and help may be hard to come by at first. To that end, you're going to want to have ample supplies of potions and food to survive the higher-level fights there. Steeped potions (Athelas, Celebrant, Cornhuith, Milkthistle, Lhinestad and Healing) will be a must - get at least a stack of each kind. The curative potions can be purchased from the Healer in your home or kinship house's neighborhood for a slight discount, bartered-for at Mirkwood and Enedwaith reputation vendors, or crafted by Scholars. Athelas and Celebrant potions are bartered or crafted. The curative potions are rather resource-intensive to make, so the better bet is to buy or barter for them.
and other consumables are also good to stock up on. Lothlorien
Waybread and the various types of lamb soup will keep you
running during hard battles. Buffing food (for example, Cup of
Red Tea) will be handy for boosting your primary stats past the
current cap and give you at least a temporary taste of life
beyond 650. And you shouldn't leave home without a few Warding
and Battle Lore scrolls. If you don't have and can't make these
items yourself, make friends with cooks and scholars and provide
them with the means to make them for you in large batches.
You're also going to need money. Cash money is kind of a secondary concern these days, but you still need to have some on-hand - there will be new skills to train, gear to maintain and expensive rep stuff to buy when you reach standing with the two new reputation factions. If you're cash-poor, the best and fastest way to make money is by running instances. Inn of the Forsaken has a good cash payout and doesn't take all that long, the Great Barrows runs tend to reward well, and a School/Library of Tham Mirdain run can earn you a Symbol of Celebrimbor, which can be sold for quick cash or crafted into a Second Age item. You probably don't need to go too far out of your way to earn coin - there will be plenty of corpses to loot in Dunland.
More important will be earning the non-transferrable currencies: Skirmish Marks and Turbine Points. Run a lot of skirmishes - particularly the group ones (Barrow-downs Survival has a massive payout) - and start stockpiling Skirmish Marks. You will need to spend them on your soldier when your level increases. If you want to build up a big pile of Turbine Points quickly, the strategy is detailed in our guide, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. In a nutshell: work on deeds, even ones you don't need, and particularly the easy low-level ones that can be done in 15 - 20 minutes or so. Alternately, you can just buy the points with cash - supporting the continuing development of the game benefits everyone.
Alternately, you may want to spend some of those points on
store items that will help you level faster or survive longer. A
variety of accelerators, boosters, and some excellent morale and
power potions will make life a lot easier on the road through
Tweaking Your Build
First off, get to level 65. If you haven't done so yet, now is
the time to do it so you can dive headlong into the new content
as soon as it goes live. If you are currently below level 55 or
so, it may not be possible to get to 65 in time for launch, but
if you are level 55 or over, buckle down and blast through
quests. Don't bother with quests 3 or more levels below your
character level - work on blue, white, yellow and orange quests
for fastest leveling. Hit Dimril Dale at 57 or 58, spend 2
levels singing to the trees in the golden woods of Lothlorien,
then hammer through Mirkwood until 64 or 65. If you get tired of
the gloom of Mirkwood, head to brighter lands in Enedwaith no
sooner than 63. You can always come back to these places later
on to clean up your quest log and build up your reputation with
the various factions.
At this point, gear is quite low on the priority list. RoI will introduce loads of outstanding new gear, and much of what you have now will be replaced in a shockingly short time. If you've only just reached level cap, don't worry about doing the Helegrod runs just yet. You'll outgrow it before you get much use out of it, and it's darn expensive for something that will only be used for a very short time.
The changes to stats and Virtues in Rise of Isengard will
require some pre-planning. Stat caps are being removed, and some
classes will have their primary stats changed - Captains, for
example, will now be using Might to determine their tactical
effectiveness, and Burglars will be using Agility to determine
their melee damage.
Have a close look at your gear and Virtues and see if these
changes will adversely affect your current build. To use
Captains as an example again, many players may have geared for
very high Will and Fate and left Might as a secondary
consideration. This makes the Captain an effective healer for
Siege of Mirkwood content, but in Rise of Isengard his power
pool and tactical (i.e. healing) effectiveness will suffer for
having a lower Might score. Swapping out a Will/Fate ring for a
Might/Vitality one may leave you a little bit gimped now, but in
the long run it prove itself a worthwhile change.
Some players have gear in their vaults that they are not using because the stats from that gear will put them over the cap of 650 on their primary stat. Hang onto this stuff - that cap will be gone next week, and that extra boost to your primary stat will come in handy for tough fights.
Many Virtues are being tweaked because of the consolidation of
all the tactical and physical mitigation stats. Some Virtues
that had several tactical-type mitigations will instead have
boosts to morale or power or some other stat, and the
mitigations will all be lumped together. If you have built
specifically for Shadow mitigation, for example, your equipped
Virtues will have different boosts.
Also, the cap for Virtues has been raised from 10 to 12. Now would be a good time to work on doing deeds that get at least your equipped Virtues to 12. Having a few others at 12 will likely help also, since some of the Virtues are undergoing changes that may give you cause to swap out your current set for new ones.
Some of us are pack-rats, unable to discard things that we may find a use for at some point in the future. One the one hand, this can give us a slight advantage - if needed, we have bits and pieces to tailor our gear to a given situation. On the other hand, this leaves us little room to accommodate the new stuff that's coming.
Upgrade your vault. The maximum number of vault slots you can have is 150 - some can be bought with gold, the last 30 must be unlocked with Turbine Points. Shared Storage is another thing to consider investing in, even if you don't have a lot of alts - it's extra storage. Shared Storage is relatively expensive and can only be unlocked with Turbine Points, but the benefit is that the upgrade gives all your toons on all servers that much extra storage.
Once your storage is upgraded, it's time to trim the fat. Use or sell any vaulted crafting materials, ditch those Summer Festival tokens you've been holding onto since last year, scrap the outdated jewellery you haven't worn in several months. It may be painful letting some of these things go - particularly if they took a lot of work to get - but you'll need that room to accommodate 10 more levels' worth of new stuff.
You may also want to upgrade your Wardrobe space a bit. Some of
the RoI cosmetics are really nice, and you may want to make room
for a new outfit or two.
Do Your Research
Some of the changes coming to the different classes may drastically change your play-style. Read the Dev Diaries and arm yourself with the ultimate weapon: knowledge!
In some of these cases, the changes to trait lines may necessitate a complete re-evaluation of current selections. Some class traits are moved or re-purposed, and some trait lines have been altered significantly. Sticking with the Captain as an example (I just finished leveling one, so it's my go-to example class), the Leader of Men line - a favorite for raiding groups - has been re-purposed as the off-tanking line instead of the group-buffing line, so switching to Hands of Healing and switching legendary traits around for group buffing might make more sense now.
The trip into Dunland follows the Volume III epic storyline of the rangers of the Grey Company, which starts in Mirkwood and meets its current conclusion at Nar's Peak in Enedwaith. There are two new factions in Dunland - the Rohirrim and the Dunlendings - both of which will play a significant part in the continuation of Volume III, so you will want to be caught up in the epics to get in on good footing when the story continues.
These reputation factions will play an important part for
crafters. There are a number of reputation-based crafting
recipes, including some ingredients for every trade that can
only be made by crafters of appropriate standing with the
respective factions. Now is the time to get caught up on your
crafting - grind out Supreme Master and make those last few
reputation items for your crafting guild to reach Kindred
standing. The new tier of crafting is called Westfold, and
mastering it will require a lot - a LOT - of materials and time.
Additionally, there is a new level of guild standing - Master of
the Guild - which will require much toil and careful labor in
its own right.
It's also a good time to finish up any lingering backlog of quests you have in older areas, and to get cracking on the World Renowned deed (reaching Kindred standing with all reputation factions). The new expansion is pretty large, area-wise, and you will want a good, fast steed to carry you across it. At the very least, work on gaining kindred standing with the Elves of Rivendell, the Galadhrim in Lothlorien and the Malledhrim in Mirkwood - you'll get the Elf Ambassador steed, which is just as fast and strong as the World Renown one.
Last but not least, you may want to rank up in the Ettenmoors, whether on your Creep or on your Freep. The Creeps in Rise of Isengard will be automatically bumped up to level 75, and Free-to-Play players will be given the ability to roll new Orc Reavers. The first few days will be hectic with the 10-level difference, and the better gear that comes with higher Renown may help stem the tide of a sudden influx of greenie Reavers trying to turn the maps red. And these enthusiastic new PvMPers will need a lot of guidance from seasoned veterans - they'll need someone to show them how to play a class that is not gear-based, in direct opposition to classes that are. That transition can be jarring for some.
Buckle In and Plan Ahead
If you've been at endgame for a while now, it will probably be
a refreshing change to actually have to earn experience and
levels again. Once the expansion launches, be sure to visit your
trainer to pick up any new lower-level skills, and then make
sure to read all the tooltips of your existing skills to
determine whether or not they function the same as before.
Rise of Isengard is going to give endgame players lots to do
and plenty to learn, and with the next planned update scheduled
for December, that may be only just enough time for some players
to reacquaint themselves with their suddenly-tweaked toons.