Guide to LotRO's Mounted Combat, Part 1: The Basics

LotRO's new mounted combat system is big and complex. Here's the first of our 3-part guide into the inner workings, looking at the basics.

Guide to LotRO's Mounted Combat Part 1: The Basics

title="Guide to LotRO's Mounted Combat Part 1: The Basics" />


| Training

Mounted combat is the centerpiece in the Lord of the Rings Online's newest
expansion, Riders of Rohan. It is a complex, game-altering mechanic that
changes how endgame players experience Middle Earth in the same way
Legendary Items changed the game in Mines of Moria. In fact, the comparison
to the LI system is a fairly accurate analogy - your war-steed is
essentially a Legendary Item that you ride, and which replaces your tired
old droopy-backed nag with something much tougher, more nuanced and fully

Getting Started

Like the LI system, the mounted combat system is tied to the epic
books. Additionally, it is part of the Rohan quest pack, meaning players can get a war-steed whether they are doing the epic books or following the Rohan storyline. We'll be discussing the non-epic method of earning a war-steed here.

To get started, cross over from the southern Great River area into the
Wold, and find the small Rohirrim settlement of Langhold. Do all the quests
in this town - start with the guards, then the Thane and his wife Cillian in
the mead-hall. You will be sent to the swamps and the watchtowers to fight
brigands and Easterlings, whereupon you will discover a sinister plot
against the people of Langhold. Complete the finale instance and head to the
Harwick stables to the south. This is where you receive your war-steed.

The skill appears on the same tab as your other mounts, and you can mount
and dismount it in the same manner. Shift + M opens up the mount panel:

LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Mount Panel

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At this stage, the only thing you can really do with it is look at the
stats and change the appearance. You may have one point to spend on traits,
but that's not likely going to make much of a difference yet.

The war-steed's stats are pretty much just a stripped-down version of
character stats. They have a handful of physical stats - Agility affects the
mount's speed and maneuverability, Endurance affects the mount's morale. It
has a morale pool that is significantly higher than a standard or premium
mount's morale (it starts with around 2,500 morale, which is around 10 times
the amount of a standard mount). They also have a Power pool and an Armour
rating, which standard mounts do not.

Check the Appearance tab - there is a nice big dressing room in the middle,
options on the left and outfit slots on the right. Players will start with 2
outfit slots by default, with an additional 5 slots unlockable through the
store. The war-steed has 8 cosmetic slots, arranged around the top and
bottom of the dressing room: bridle, blanket, saddle and tail on the top
row; hide, feet, gear and ___ on the bottom row. Owning any of the class
mounts or certain premium store-exclusive mounts will add options on the
left - so you can mix the gear element of the Steed of the Hunter, for
example, with the bridle, blankets, saddle and leggings of the Steed of
Night for a unique custom look. Other cosmetics can be earned through
questing or purchased from the LotRO Store, and you can put together some
pretty weird combinations.

LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Weird war-steed cosmetic combos

title="LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Weird war-steed cosmetic combos" />

Additionally, all of these cosmetic elements are dyeable. If you've always
thought your class steed would look better in red, you can buy the dye pack
from the LotRO Store. The dyes are sold in four-packs, so if you want red
you also gotta take a couple shades of brown with it. The hide and tail have
their own specific dyes with more natural colors, also available in the
store in convenient 4-packs.

LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Store stuff

title="LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Store stuff" />

Once you're done checking out the stats and tweaking the look, grab the
quest from the guard by the stable gate for mounted combat training.

Guide to LotRO's Mounted Combat Part 1: The Basics

title="Guide to LotRO's Mounted Combat Part 1: The Basics" />


| Training

Training Instance

The mounted combat training instance takes place at the Harwick stables
track, and it is here that you will really discover what makes this new
mechanic different from the old-school regular riding thing.

LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Training Instance

title="LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Training Instance" />

The first difference you will notice is the Mounted Combat skill bar that
replaces your usual skill bar when you mount up. This new bar contains only
mounted skills - attacks, maneuvering skills and the three mounted combat
stances - and drops away when you dismount. You can move skills around as you
like, just like on your regular toolbar, and those changes persist. You can
call up this skill bar at any time by clicking the tiny up and down arrows at
the left edge of the main toolbar.

You will be tasked with riding around the track a few times, running through
flag waypoints and jumping over fences. You will immediately discover that the
war-steed has a different method of acceleration than standard horses. Your
old horse has essentially two "gears" - walk and run - the same as your
character. Hit W and your standard horse leaps to top speed immediately,
paying no heed to g-forces or momentum or other aspects of physics.

Not so with the war-steed. It has four "gears" - hit W and it starts off at a
walk, then a trot, then a gallop, then a full-out run. And once the steed
ramps up to top speed, it will maintain that speed until commanded to slow
down or stop. This was also possible with the old horses, but it's different
from toggling auto-run. Coming to a full stop takes a bit of time, and even
using the quick-stop skill requires a bit of stopping distance.

This acceleration/deceleration mechanic takes some getting used to, but it
also makes mounted combat feel more realistic and exciting. You are only
riding the beast, not controlling it like a bicycle. It feels as though the
big creature beneath you has weight and momentum, and it makes the standard
mounts feel more like animated paper cutouts.

There is an option to turn off the auto-run in Combat Options. The war-steed
will still need to ramp up to full speed, but releasing the W button takes the
foot off the gas and the horse slows down to a full stop. Running this way is
actually much more difficult than the normal auto-run mode.

LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Auto-slowdown Option

title="LotRO Mounted Combat Guide - Auto-slowdown Option" />

Of course, this same force of momentum makes the war-steed difficult to
steer, particularly at high speeds. At the lowest speed, you will be able to
make sharp turns and run tight circles. At higher speeds, the war-steed starts
to act like a drift car from a Fast and Furious movie. You need to start the
turn well in advance of where you actually want to curve, and you end up
skipping sideways for several steps as the momentum carries you in straight

You'll discover all these interesting physics during this tutorial instance,
riding through sets of flags, jumping over low fences, and finally running
along what appears to be a jousting track to attack the dummies at each end.
This is a pretty simple test - tab-select your targets, queue your attacks and
ride up close to hit them.

For tighter turns at the ends of the track, you will want to travel at a
lower speed - at stage 1 and 2, maneuverability is about the same and tight
turns are a piece of cake; at stage 3, it is noticeably reduced, and at stage
4 it is substantially reduced.

The tutorial instance teaches you about movement, but actual combat works a
lot differently. We'll have a look at how the fighting works in Part 2.

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