Five ways to get yourself into an instance

You can easily blast to the top level in The Lord of the Rings Online solely on solo content, but it’s an online role-playing game; why not get yourself into an instance or two? Some of the most fun times I’ve had in game were in a group, like when we purged the filth from the sewers of Carn Dûm, protected Gondamon from the evil Dourhands, or went toe-to-toe with an abominable Balrog. Instances reward some of the best gear in the game. Not only that, you start to build friendships with those you group with regularly. You really start to experience a whole new dimension to LOTRO once you start grouping. Whatever your reason for staying away from instances, here are a few tips that may help you get into some fun, exciting and rewarding instances:

Make friends.
There are plenty of people playing LOTRO for the same reasons as you, and you’ll likely come across others trying to complete the same quests you’re on. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation, invite them to a fellowship and do some quests together. Over time, you’ll develop a good base of friends which you can invite to do instances with you. You’re more likely to have fun in an instance with people you know even if you do wipe a few times.

Join a kinship.
Most kinships, depending on how they’re set up, will run instances at least occasionally, whether they be scheduled events or ad hoc groups formed from members of the kinship. Ask the other members how they do instances and see if they’ll invite you to the next one. Most will certainly be accommodating, even if you’ve never done it before.

Set aside some time.
I suspect part of why so many people stick to soloing is because they know they’re going to get interrupted, so it’s not fair to the rest of the fellowship if they keep having to go AFK. Minimize your risk for interruption so you can sit down and enjoy an instance with your online buddies. If you always have kids tugging on your sleeve as you sit down to play, most spouses will be happy to watch them for a couple hours while you have some time to yourself. Of course, if you have an emergency, you can always break away, and your fellowship will usually be understanding.

Join a PUG.
Pick-up Groups (PUGs) form from previously unrelated persons looking to do an instance through LFF or global chat channels. They get a lot of bad rap for the amount of stress they can cause because the people you group with may turn out to be total jerks. However, if you prepare yourself mentally for dealing with such randomness and give yourself some patience, you might not have such a bad time. Before your PUG attempts an instance, talk to them beforehand and make sure everyone knows what they’re doing. There may be a bad apple or two, so don’t be afraid to ask them to behave. And if the situation doesn’t look like it can be saved, you can always and try again some other day. Even with the occasional group that’s destined to fail, on the whole, I’ve usually had great experience with PUGs and will continue to join them.

Be confident.
Come armed with information about an instance you’ve never done before. The more you know, the lower the learning curve and more comfortable you’ll be. There are plenty of Web sites with guides out there (like this one) that explain how to deal with certain instances. Communicate with your fellowship and ask questions if you’re unsure of what to do. Your preparation may change what could have been a stressful struggle into a joyous occasion when you topple that final boss. Pretty soon, you’ll be confident and experienced enough to start leading instances!

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