Updated Mon, Oct 15, 2012 by gunky
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3|
|Fighting from Horseback | The Build|
After getting into a few fights in the Wold, you'll have the basics of mounted combat. But the system is deceptively large and complex, and if you want to make the most out of it, you'll want to focus on the details of your war-steed's build.
War-steeds level up pretty much the same way as LI's do - they gain partial experience from each kill, and some quests reward mount experience. However, unlike LIs, war-steeds do not have crapshoot random legacies to level up. They have skill trees, separated into three distinct roles - Heavy, Medium and Light.
Skill trees are fairly straightforward. Pick one tree and spend a point in it, and the other two trees become unavailable. Skills are tiered - you must spend points on lower-tier skills to unlock higher-tier skills. In each tree, there are three "branches," which accentuate the mounted stance of the same color: the red DPS branch (Red Dawn), the blue support branch (Rohirrim), and the yellow "flow-of-battle" branch (Riddermark). Dumping points into one branch makes the rider more effective with that related stance. At the top is a row of upgrades - Agility, Strength, Power, Endurance, Armor - which increase the base stats, but do not affect the tiered skills in the branches below.
The role of your horse is not dictated by your class. There's no reason, for example, that a Rune-keeper can't use a Heavy horse to bulldoze his enemies under hoof, or that a Guardian can't use a Light horse to evade his enemies for swift control of the battlefield. There will be situations where, say, a Guardian wants his mount to be more fleet of foot, or where a Hunter wants his horse to be sturdier and more heavily-armored for increased survivability. This is where trait specs come in.
Each spec contains all three trees - Light, Medium and Heavy. Pick a role and spend a point, and that trait spec gets locked to that tree. Players will start with two trait specs, and can unlock up to five more through the LotRO Store. Each of the trait specs can be renamed to make selection easier, and renaming a spec is free. Re-allocating points in a trait spec costs a bit of silver, but doing so allows you to completely change that spec - you can move all the points from Light to Heavy, for example, rather than being limited to just the Light tree again.
What this essentially means is, you can have a spec for every situation. You can have a fast, agile Light horse that accentuates your DPS, and a second Light spec that has all its points in the yellow branch for improved crowd-control, and a heavily-armoured Heavy spec that allows you to do some front-line fighting. Swapping specs is as easy as clicking one button, meaning it is easier to do for your character's horse than for your character.
War-steeds earn one trait point per level, plus an additional 2 every 5th level and a handful of bonus points along the way, and have a maximum level of 50; by the time your war-steed reaches level-cap, you will end up with 77 points for each trait spec. It would cost 84 points to buy every skill in one tree, so each trait spec will be somewhat "focused." Essentially, 77/84 points means you don't buy the high-tier and capstone skills you won't be using from the off-spec branches.
Of course, switching from one tree to another means you will likely also have to swap your Legendary Bridle.