Posted Wed, Feb 06, 2013 by gunky
"The dwarves of Erebor wish to send forth ravens with news of the Battle of Dale and to request aid, but the Easterlings have constructed a device of great evil to smoke the dwarves out of the Lonely Mountain...."
The next raid is set halfway through the siege of Erebor, on the slopes of the Lonely Mountain. The Easterlings are trying to kill the ravens that the Dwarves use to send messages, and have built a chemical furnace in the shape of a great dragon in an attempt to smoke the Dwarves out of their tunnels. The furnace has a number of long pipes leading to valves pumping noxious smoke into the underground tunnels, and a huge Fire Grim in the middle providing the fumes. The goal is to douse the fire and prevent the smoke from reaching harmful levels inside the mountain.
This raid has a lot of moving pieces. Each of the valves has a group of tough Easterlings guarding it, and these valves need to be closed off. They all start out wide open, with a reading of 5, and when one valve that value is knocked down by 1. In order to beat challenge mode, only a minimal amount of smoke can enter the tunnels. This involves dividing the raid's forces between shutting down the valves and attacking the grim in the central furnace, defending that position from groups of attackers and thwarting the Easterlings who come in to dump more noxious chemicals on the raging fire.
"The Ring has been destroyed and Sauron is vanquished from Middle-earth! The Easterlings in the North are dismayed by the news, and the time has come to break the siege of Erebor. However, Sauron's champions await you at the gateway to the Lonely Mountain...."
The final raid is kind of a spoiler. It is set at the end of the siege, after the One Ring is destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom and the message has been sent out to all armies. The Easterlings are teetering on the edge of defeat, and have been camped out at the foot of the Lonely Mountain for a month. The Dwarves mean to send them home with a resounding, absolutely unambiguous declaration of victory by embarassing the Easterling champions in one final, brutal arena match. They're even confident enough in their own champions that they are willing to accept up to six handicaps - basically, the Dwarf equivalent of "I could beat him with one arm tied behind my back! And hopping on one leg! And blindfolded, carrying a crying baby, weak from eating too many iffy tacos and composing an epic power ballad in a new language!"
There are six terms that can be set for this battle royale. Tier 1 requires selecting two terms, Tier 2 requires four, and Challenge Mode requires all six. Each term does something different; the Blood Brother term, for example, causes the twins to deal more damage when their morale begins to vary. If they are not burned down evenly, their damage can get out of control fast and quickly overwhelm the group, and this is challenging because they have different damage-resist buffs. The Inferno term causes the entire arena floor to burn during the last stages of the fight, dealing 5% morale damage every tick - this term will almost certainly be largely reserved for Challenge Modes. Catapults is a fun one, creating random hot spots where falling boulders crash down.
A few players have expressed some confusion about the timeline and setting of these instances, and have questioned why they are tied to Rohan. According to Senior Producer Aaron Campbell, the new instances answer the question of why the Easterlings never invaded Rohan from the north - the invasion force got held up by the men of Dale, and foolishly attempted to root the dwarves out of the Lonely Mountain with a failed siege. The Battle of Dale and the siege of the Lonely Mountain are not a direct part of the main narrative of the Lord of the Rings story, but are recounted in the appendices of the Return of the King, and mentioned by Gimli and Gandalf at various times. And while the Battle for Erebor raid skips ahead to the end of the book, after the good guys have won, its inclusion in the instance cluster isn't a total derailment. It's a side trip, one that follows its own progression and takes its own time. And it's not the only instance that takes place post-war.
Update 10 is on the Bullroarer server now, undergoing public beta testing.