First impressions: The Road to Erebor, part II

It’s that time again. Update 10 is in full motion and heading to clients soon. The final segment of the instance cluster, composed of a six-person instance and three 12-person raids scalable from level 20 upwards, is included in this update as well as the scaling of Ost Dunhoth and the In Their Absence instances.

There are plenty of other changes, such as loads of new gear and stat modifications, but to be honest, there’s much too much to cover in one post. As always, I’ve also got plenty of screenshots to share which you’ll find below.

Oh yeah, and before you come back here a few weeks from now when Update 10 is on the live servers telling me how your raid wiped because of something I said here, let me remind you that all the information presented in this post is from the Bullroarer Beta server and will likely and has most likely changed from Beta to live.

The Bells of Dale

The Bells of Dale (1)

Two words: Easterling Lore-masters. This instance is fought on the streets of Dale after it’s been ransacked by the Jangovar and their beastly allies. Jangovar…now that’s a fun word to say out loud.

Of course there are the normal varieties of Easterling such as archers and warriors, but much like their Khundolar cousins in the south with the Brotherhood of the Mind and of the Spirit, these Easterlings have their own conclaves, the Brotherhood of Nature and of the Elements.

Those Jangovar devoting themselves to the Elements will most notably use skills deriving from elements such as frost, flame, lightning or wind. I guess you could say they’re most akin to Rune-keepers, though I never saw one of these guys drop a healing stone.

Those adhering to the principles of nature are most similar to Lore-masters. They summon multiple creatures to their aide which can be much more of a pain to manage than a single Easterling. They’ve got hawks, sabre-tooths, lynxs and even squirrels for some reason.

There are two main bosses in this instance and an optional quest involving saving two groups of townspeople who didn’t make it out in time and are now cornered.

The first boss is a nasty Olog-hai with strong ties to the Jangovar. As it stood on Bullroarer, at every 10% of his morale, he called forth a wave of Easterlings and gave himself a buff to his damage. Ten waves in all – probably still not as many enemies as in the Flight to the Lonely Mountain.

You encounter the final boss outside the bell tower of Dale giving this instance its name. He derives his power both from the Elements and from Nature summoning numerous waves of frost lynxes, storm squirrels and other deadly elemental creatures.

The challenge of this fight is in many ways similar to Roots of Fangorn and Iorbar’s Peak. The boss, Tabî-kohin, is determined to stop aide from reaching Dale, so he sends his shadow rats up the bell tower to gnaw the bells down and prevent them from ringing out. Kill the rats, save the bells. Complete it on tier II at the level cap without a single bell falling, and you’ve earned yourself an extra chest to loot.

Flight to the Lonely Mountain

Flight to the Lonely Mountain (1)

This instance takes place as the people of Dale are fleeing the siege from the Easterlings as they try to reach the relative safety of Erebor, the Dwarven stronghold.

As you reach a stream deep in a wooded area between the town and the mountain, you’ll come across a small band of Easterlings. Don’t let these fool you, as this is only a hint of enemies to come. In this raid you’ll encounter wave upon wave of enemies with little respite.

You’ll also notice a small event quickslot when you get into the raid. It’s a skill with a one-minute cooldown that lets you “shake off dazes or stuns, or recover from being knocked down.” This skill will likely play a large part in the strategy for dealing with these mobs.

The Fires of Smaug

The Fires of Smaug (1)

After the people of Dale have taken refuge in the Lonely Mountain, the Easterlings continue their pursuit and have devised a way to smoke them out, literally. The Jangovar have built a giant oven to generate smoke powered by a fire grim with four pipes leading into holes in the mountains.

You’ll notice two event bars this time. One counts down the time you have to complete this fight (25 minutes as of Beta build 2) and the other tracks the amount of smoke that’s been pumped into the mountain.

This fight becomes a balancing act between destroying the siege weapon, managing adds and keeping the vents closed. To complete the challenge at level 85, you cannot let even one puff of smoke enter the mountain. The mayor has declared this a smoke-free environment.

The Battle for Erebor

The Battle for Erebor (1)

If you’ve never tried a raid, this is a good one to start with. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it demonstrates how raids often differ from the common three and six-person “tank-and-spank” instances.

This raid also goes a long way in terms of versatility. Because you can dictate the conditions of the battle, there are a multitude of ways this fight can go down. At the start, you’re given six terms that add an edge to the opposing side, two exceeding large Olog-hai, brutes of the ugliest sort.

Of those six terms, you have to choose two of them before those trolls accept your challenge. But that’s just tier I. On tier II, you have to choose 4 of the 6 and for the challenge at level 85, you have to commit to all 6 terms including a burning floor, catapults raining down, special abilities for the trolls, loads of adds and even more adds.

Scaling the In Their Absence instances

Ost Dunhoth

Just as the formerly level 65 Barad Guldur cluster was transformed into two-tiered scalable instances, so has the In Their Absence cluster. I’ve only run Northcotton Farm and Stoneheight on Bullroarer so far, but even those showed plenty of interesting changes, though they were still doable at tier II with somewhat undergeared characters.

In addition, you’ll likely notice that Ost Dunhoth, the twelve-person raid in that foreboding fortress in the Lich Bluffs, has been split in three, separating them by wings. The instances are gated, so you have to complete Wound and Fear first, then Disease and Poison, then challenge the mighty Gorthoron. I really enjoyed these instances the first time around, so I’m looking forward to doing them many more times.

Screenshot dump

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One thought on “First impressions: The Road to Erebor, part II

  1. Wow! As a lover of Tolkein’s dwarves, I always hoped LOTRO would find a way to bring Erebor into the game. I’d rather Dale and Erebor be a normal questing “zone” instead of disconnected instances, but maybe Turbine will use the lanscape they’ve already created in the future to turn Erebor into a proper “zone”.

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