LotRO's Update 5: the Instance Finder

One of the most-talked-about new features mentioned in our interview with the devs is the upcoming Instance Finder. Here's an in-depth look at this new-to-LotRO feature as it stands on the beta server.

LotRO Update 5 Instance Finder

Update 5 for the

Lord of the Rings Online will ship with a handy
little chunk of new tech: the Instance Finder.
The idea is familiar to many - something like it has been used
in lots of games, like Rift,
World of Warcraft,
EverQuest II
and Dungeons
& Dragons Online
, but it's new to LotRO, and
it's currently undergoing beta testing on Bullroarer. Bear in
mind that this is the early-beta version of the Instance Finder,
and the version that launches when Update 5 goes live in
December may be significantly different.

Pros and Cons

There are a number of reasons to use the new Instance Finder,
first mentioned in our Update
5 Interview with the Devs
, for running group content.
Firstly, there's the morale and power bonus - players get 5%
more morale and power when joining an instance through the
Instance Finder than they would get using the traditional
method. Players also get 1.5 times the number of marks, which is
fairly important if you're saving up for one of the six new
armor sets for your class. If you have pre-formed a group and
don't care which content you end up running, the whole group can
queue up in the Instance Finder and get tossed into a random
dungeon, and everyone receives the power/morale and
mark-acquisition bonus.

There are also a few downsides. First and foremost, it's a
random match-up system, and players who queue up alone have no
real control over who they get grouped with or where they are
sent. For example, I queued up on my Hunter as Damage, and got
paired with a Lore-master (Support) and a Minstrel (Healer), and
we got tossed into a new 3-man instance (The Pits of Isengard)
that very clearly required a proper tank. It was not an issue of
the players not knowing or understanding their roles - all of us
knew what we needed to do, and the same group would have worked
just fine in certain other instances - but rather a situation
where a Hunter or bear pet makes a lousy tank regardless of
skill level (because he has no heavy armor or colossal morale
pool to soak up the beat-down from an angry troll boss). The
Instance Finder has no way of knowing this.

Step 1: Confirm Your Role

Open the Instance Finder with Shift + F (ore use the caret ^ on
the lower left of the toolbar to open the menu). At the top, you
will see what roles you can sign up as:

LotRO Update 5 Instance Finder - Options

Roles will be limited according to character class:

Burglar: Support, Damage
Captain: any
Champion: Damage, Defense
Guardian: Defense, Damage
Hunter: Damage, Support
Lore-master: Support, Damage
Minstrel: Healer, Damage
Rune-keeper: Healer, Damage
Warden: Defense, Damage

The Instance Finder does not recognize specific trait setups,
so if you are a solo DPS-spec Minstrel, for example, and that's
how you want to roll in an instance, it's up to you to select
Damage rather than Healer. You can select as many roles as you
want, or feel you can fulfill. Most classes have 2 options, but
Captains - being ultimate awesomesauce rockstars - can pick all

Step 2: Select Instance Criteria

The next step is determining what type of instance you want to
run. The Instance Finder is currently a bit limited in this
respect - you can't pick specific instances, but rather general
categories. These are arranged by Type: Skirmish, Isengard or
Instance. "Skirmish" means any skirmish from the Skirmish Join
Panel. "Isengard" means any of the new 3-man or the 6-man
instances in the Update 5 instance cluster:
Fangorn's Edge, the Pits of Isengard or Dargnakh Unleashed for
the 3-mans, or the Foundry for the 6-man. "Instance" means any
of the scaled instances - Halls of Night, Inn of the Forsaken,
the Annuminas cluster, School and Library of Tham Mirdain, and
the Great Barrows cluster. 12-man raids are not supported by the
Instance Finder as of Update 5, but may be added in a future
update. Turbine also expects that they will incorporate the
ability to select specific instances at some point in the

Next, select the group size - solo, duo, small-fellowship or
fellowship. Selecting all of the sizes means the Instance Finder
will start at the largest group size (6) and try to find
something in that range, incrementing downwards as needed until
it finds a suitable group according to your criteria. If there
are no groups queued up and you have "1" selected, you will be
thrown into a random solo skirmish.

Lastly, select Tiers. Only skirmishes support Tier III
difficulty, so if you don't have skirmishes selected as a Type,
Tier III will be greyed out and unavailable.

Once you have all your criteria selected, click the Join button
and wait for the group to assemble.

Step 3: Forming the Group

As players are matched, they will need to confirm their roles
one more time to accept the group and start the instance. When a
group is matched up, you can see the other players only by their
role - you won't know who you're matched with until everyone
confirms his role and the instance starts. If you have selected
multiple roles, the Instance Finder will pick the one it
calculates to be most appropriate for the situation and ask you
to confirm the choice:

LotRO Update 5 Instance Finder - Confirm

Once the instance starts, you may be in for some surprises -
the healer may be a Captain traited all red, and the DPS guy
might be a Minstrel in War-speech. Theoretically, the group
could be all Captains. The group in the picture at right turned
out to be a Captain as Healer (me - I checked all the role
options), and Overpower-spec Guardian as Damage and a Warden as
Defense - definitely a sturdy group and more than a match for
the Tier I instance we got thrown into.

If you leave the queue here, you'll have a 10-minute wait until
you can use the Instance Finder again, and the rest of the group
will need to wait for another person to queue up in the same or
comparable role, for matching criteria, and within the same
level range.

The group leader will be assigned randomly, and has very little
control over the group. The leader can assign target assists and
fellowship manoeuvres, and can transfer lead to another player,
but can't boot players or change loot rules (the default is
Roll/Pass with Uncommon quality).

Once the instance starts, the group is "locked in." If someone
drops, the Instance Finder cannot be used to fill the spot -
players will have to fill the spot the old-fashioned way by
posting on LFF channels.

Instance Finder or LFF?

Players looking for random groups, to just get into the game
quick and do whatever, or regular teams looking to run something
together with a bit of a bonus, will find the Instance Finder
quite handy. Players looking for something more specific will
have better luck with traditional methods. The Instance Finder
is not a be-all, end-all replacement for finding groups, nor is
it intended to be. According to Turbine developer Ransroth

in his forum post:

I'm pretty sure that even the version of Instance
Finder that will be coming out in U6 will not be "better LFF
tool" - if by that you mean completely replacing lff and glff
functionality. My hope is that it will still be a useful tool
that will make a bunch of players happy.

And since it only supports scaled instances for up to 6
players, you'll still need to use LFF channels to run stuff like
Grand Stair (which doesn't scale), or any of the 12-man
instances. One other limitation: the Instance Finder is not
cross-server, and likely never will be. You'll be drawing talent
from local pools.

The Instance Finder is a tool that fills a specific need, and
not a catch-all replacement for LFF.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.

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