LotRO's 2011 Yule Festival
December 20 saw the kick-off of the Lord of the Rings Online's 2011 Yule Festival. In addition to the smattering of local holiday events in the Shire, Ered Luin and Bree-land, players can travel to the festival-themed mini-area of Frostbluff to partake in a town-wide celebration of all things Yule.
The old standard events are, of course, still present:
- The Shire - Two scavenger hunts, dancing and Inn League/Ale Association quests at the Party Tree, ousting Lobelia Sackville-Baggins from the party-planning committee at Hobbiton, horse-racing at the track near the Shire Homesteads
- Ered Luin - Scavenger hunts and dancing at Thorin's Hall and Duillond, Inn League and Ale Association at Thorin's Hall
- Bree-land - Scavenger hunts, dancing, Inn League/Ale Association and horse racing at Bree-land Festival Grounds south of Hengstacer Farm
The town of Winterhome in Frostbluff is little-changed since last year's event (see our 2010 Yule Festival Guide). The repeatable quests are pretty much the same:
- Eating Contest - A timed event where you must eat too much food and waddle on to the next station with speed debuffs. Stick to the light foods (mushrooms, berries) and avoid the heavier foods (pies, bread) whenever possible. The first table is not timed, so you can wait until all the other contestants have moved on before starting.
- Frostbluff Theatre - Watch a play and throw things at the actors (rotten fruit if they screw up, flower petals if they do well) or take to the stage as an actor. There are three roles you can be assigned to: Bilbo Baggins, who is expected to act in an affable, heroic manner; Party-goer, who is expected to be enthusiastic and fun-loving; or Gandalf, who is perceived by the Hobbits as a villainous monster.
- Clean-up and preparation quests - clean up after the hogs have barreled through the eating contest stations, prepare food for the next round, deliver a keg without being spotted by the watchmen.
- Help out the beggars by stealing from the rich or donating Frostbluff Coins to the poor, or drive the beggars out of town for the watchmen.
- Engage other players in a snowball fight. Pro-tip: gather up all the snowballs you need (10 for Easy, 15 for Hard) before you start flinging them. There is no longer any need to slot the snowballs in a quick-slot - an icon has been added to the quest tracker, and you can click that to let the snowballs fly. The debuffs from snowballs have been amped up this year, so be prepared.
There are, however, a smattering of new repeatable quests available to festival-goers:
- Help Virgil Greenfield build snowmen - he has a statuary of frozen friends located between the town and the snowball field in the north. Talk to him, pick a snowman to duplicate from the ones standing near him, gather the items needed to make it and assemble it. The items (coal, acorns, carrots, top hats, sticks, etc.) are located around the snowman statuary or in the town of Winterhome. The scarf is on a ledge near the last table of the eating contest, the top hat is on a lamppost near the town crier, the mittens are in the Frostbluff Theatre. There is a deed for building all the different types of snowman.
- Spread "cheer" to a group of Abominable Snow-beasts who have migrated to the area. They are located in the trees in the southeast corner - approach them while they are sleeping and /cheer at them to wake them up and drive them off.
- They say that everyone complains about the weather but no-one ever does anything about it. You can change that by defeating a few Wintry Weather grims hanging around the frozen pond east of Winterhome. These grims have a disorienting visual effect when you get near them.
After completing many quests in Frostbluff, you receive a quest to help either the poor beggars or the rich people of Winterhome. Completing this quest chain gives you either a Shabby outfit or an Extravagant one. Last year, helping the poor had an extra, secret reward - shortly after the festival ended, the charitable person was mailed a very nice robe, with thanks from the poor folks of Winterhome. The people who sided with the rich folks did not get any additional rewards. Charity is its own reward, but it's nice to be recognized for your efforts.
The rewards for this year's Yule Festival are mostly the same as last year's, with the addition of 4 new maps for the Eriador Cartographer deed (Frostbluff, Thorin's Gate, Forochel, Southern Barrow-downs) and 2 new cosmetic cloaks, the Fancy Winter Cloak (left) and the Warm Winter Cloak (right):
There's also a new horse, which can be gained by winning a race and amassing tokens, and trading these in at Hengstacer Farm. The new Frosty Steed is a handsome beast of medium grey, with dark grey, blue and white dressings marked with a holly leaf/half-snowflake pattern that matches the Fancy Winter Cloak:
Conspicuously absent from this year's Yule Festival is the Treasure Hunt, which many players were expecting after the 2-hour sneak preview on December 12. Whether the Treasure Hunt will be added to the festival at a later date is not known.