If you haven’t figured it out yet, this site is all about promoting instances, raids and skirmishes. Not only are they fun and full of rewards, they provide valuable experience. If you haven’t tried out skirmishes in LOTRO or just don’t do them that often, here’s what you’re missing.
Skirmishes are a unique type of instance. While in normal instances you can generally expect what you’re going to face time and time again, skirmishes add an element of randomness into the mix. Skirmishes can be scalable by level, group size and difficulty tier, that is to say, you can run a skirmish by yourself, with a friend, or an entire raid at the level cap and still be challenged. The different difficulty tiers award the party with extra barter currency for completing a much tougher skirmish.
In addition to being scalable, here are just a more few ways that make skirmishes stand out from instances:
In skirmishes, players have access to a “pet” soldier that will aide them in battle. There are different types of soldiers, so, for example, you can create a Protector to draw the enemies’ attention so you can blast away uninterrupted, or perhaps a Bannerguard to buff you and your fellowship so you can take down the enemy much quicker. Each type of soldier has their own special skills that you can upgrade with barter currency as you grow in level. In addition, you can customize your soldier’s appearance anywhere from a tall, blonde, elf-maiden to a stout, dark-haired hobbit-lad.
Lieutenants are higher ranking servants of the enemy with special abilities of their own. For example, a Defender of the Vile has a defence aura which will reduce all incoming damage to nearby enemies by 50%, and a Wretched Falconer is immune to damage, but will summon crebain minions at the expense of his own health. The lieutenants that appear are usually random and will be different each time your run the skirmish.
Encounters are optional bosses that trigger at some point during a skirmish. Finding and defeating these mini-bosses will award extra barter currency and special items which can only be used in skirmishes to buff your fellowship or debuff enemies. Each skirmish has its own unique set of encounters and a deed for completing all of a skirmish’s encounters, but you only get two random encounters each time you run a skirmish.
Defence and control points
Skirmishes use a system of control points to progress through the battleground. In offence skirmishes where you actively attack the enemies, you must capture these control points by defeating the defending enemies. Once captured, the control point may come under siege by an enemy counterattack which you must repel. Similarly, in defence skirmishes, you must hold certain locations while smashing against wave after wave of enemy attack to provoke the architect of the siege to engage you directly. Defence skirmishes are sometimes more difficult as once you start them, there is no pause button and you may find yourself glued to the computer as your bravely defeat your foes.
Turbine has started to retrofit many instances to behave more like skirmishes; the Great Barrow, Annúminas and School/Library instance clusters are now scalable by level. In the future, especially with introduction of the Instance Finder tool, many more instances will probably be scalable not only by level but also by difficulty and maybe even by group size. We’ll just have to wait and see what Turbine has up its sleeve for the instance and skirmish systems.