Welcome back! In Part One of my article, Another Look at Moria, we explored a bit in Eregion and talked about the first few zones within Moria itself. In this next installment, I'd like to break down the other zones within the mines, and I'm also going to talk about the epic dungeons within the new area and the new legendary weapon system. First, let's dive back into the zones within Moria and pick up where we left off.
The Waterworks - Going south through the Silvertine Lodes will put you squarely inside the Waterworks, part of the Lower Levels within Moria. The Waterworks is set up like an elaborate system of aqueducts. The quest hub within The Waterworks is The Rotting Cellar, located in the northeastern most part of the Waterworks. You can get many quests here, as this is a great zone for XP leveling around 55-56. Some of the best screenshots within Moria can be captured in the Waterworks. Just be careful entering and exiting, because here, among many other places in Moria, you can "fall" to your defeat. Once you complete the quests contained within the Waterworks, you should be around level 56 or so. Contained within the Waterworks is the entrance to the 12-person epic raid dungeon for The Watcher in the Water. Just head to the far southwestern edge of the zone and you can't miss it. The orange lights beckon to you like something that truly doesn't belong in the bluish gloom of the Waterworks.
The Flaming Deeps - If you're feeling bold around level 56, you can venture into the Flaming Deeps. You can get to the Flaming Deeps from the Waterworks. Just head south from the Rotting Cellar and staying on the eastern edge of the zone, you should find a passageway that will lead you there. Here, you can find a great scene before you...ruins, bridges, and orcs...lots and lots of orcs. The worms and mini-drakes in this zone are great for heritage runes, so when you're here, kill everything you can. The main quest hub for the Flaming Deeps is located in the northernmost part of The Flaming Deeps, and it's called Anazarmekhem. This is really close to the southern end of Zelem-melek. In fact, some of the quests obtained at Anazarmekhem have you venturing into the southern end of Zelem-melek.
Speaking of Zelem-melek, outside of its connection to the 21st Hall, the zone itself isn't really quest heavy. There are some great spots inside the zone that you can visit that are an absolute marvel of game design, and plenty of orcs and goblins to kill for additional XP between levels 55-57.
There are a total of six epic 6-man dungeons and one 12-man dungeon inside Moria (not counting the Forgotten Treasury, also a 6-man but not linked to the others for the epic teal gear). The Forgotten Treasury is officially set up for levels 54-56, but in my humble opinion, your tank and healer classes need to be around 57-59 to accomplish this efficiently. Your hunters and lore-masters can be below 57 (but not below 54). All of the epic 6-man dungeon instances are for level 58-60, with many of them needing all six members of the fellowship to be at 59 or 60 to complete it effectively.
Two of the six epic 6-man dungeons here in the Deeps...the first one is the Forges of Khazad-dum. This one is a fairly difficult instance, and keep in mind that in 'hard-mode' (where the good loot drops, including the coin that you can roll for and exchange in the 21st Hall for the epic teal gear I mentioned before) is even harder than the standard setup. The other 6-man dungeon here is Fil Gashan. I've completed the Forges myself, but have yet to venture into Fil Gashan.
The Redhorn Lodes - Going northeast from the Flaming Deeps will put you in the Redhorn Lodes. As far as the mobs here are concerned, the ones in the Redhorn Lodes are similar to that of the Flaming Deeps, so it's more of the same as far as that is concerned. The main quest hub for the Redhorn Lodes is the Orc-Watch, a dwarf encampment on the northern edge of the zone. There are lots of good quests to complete here, and again, doing so gets you closer to those swift travel options when traveling within Moria itself.
There are also two of the 6-man epic dungeons here. The Grand Stair is my favorite instance so far, and it is a lot of fun, especially in hard mode. When you enter the Grand Stair, you make your way into the dungeon only to find a gate drawn and a few Uruks arguing over who should be in charge. One slaughters another right in front of you and commands his fellow Uruk to ready their troops for attack against the other orcs and goblins. At that point, you have 10 minutes to attack the Uruk who was sent off the gather the troops or else 'hard mode' isn't activated. There are a few class quests here as well, which give you access to legendary traits you can equip once completed. The other 6-man instance inside the Redhorn Lodes is the 16th Hall. I've yet to attempt this one so I don't know much about it.
The Foundations of Stone - The Foundations of Stone is far and away the most difficult zone to wander in without company. On top of the fact that the Foundations of Stone are mainly just a large system of caverns and ledges, there are elite level trolls (ones you would be hard-pressed to solo, even with a great legendary weapon and fantastic gear) roaming around ready to knock you into next week. The main quest hub inside the Foundations of Stone is the Shadowed Refuge, and there is no shortage of quests to be had there. In my opinion, I would not venture too far into the Foundations of Stone without at least one person at your side, maybe two, and preferably make one of them a healer of some kind. Again, this is just my opinion. You might be able to run free in the Foundations of Stone with little to no consequence...but I could not!
Within the Foundations of Stone are the two final 6-man epic dungeon instances. The first one is Skumfil, and it's is a very interesting and difficult instance. There are lots of elite level and higher creatures to kill. The other one is called the Dark Delvings. To be honest, I have not yet attempted this instance so again, I cannot talk intelligently about it. Skumfil is probably the hardest instance within Moria that I have completed.
As I said before, completing these instances in hard mode will grant you a coin which you can exchange at your class trainer in the 21st Hall for a piece of epic gear. In all of the instances, other coins drop that you can exchange for gear not quite as good as the teal gear...it's purple in color, and this gear does provide some bonuses, but again, they aren't nearly as good (and have no radiance bonus at all) as the teal gear is. This epic teal gear is often referred to as Radiance sets because of the Radiance bonuses you get by wearing it. Radiance increases your 'hope' and you are less susceptible to 'dread', which lowers your maximum morale (what LotRO uses instead of the standard "hit points"). As I discovered when I unknowingly enter the Watcher in the Water raid instance, having that radiance bonus is essential.
Nud-melek - Ah...Old Khazad...the original. Here in Nud-melek, you will find no quest hubs, but a literally endless supply of orcs, goblins, cave-crawlers, glow-worms, and mini-dragons for you to whack on. Nud-melek is where I powered my way from 59 to 60. It was a bit of a grind, but I had my enhanced XP maxed out so I was able to level fairly quickly. Nud-melek connects with Zelem-melek to the west, Durin's Way to the north, the Redhorn Lodes to the southwest, and is a quick run to the Foundations of Stone. Nud-melek contains one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Moria...the Bridge of Khazad-dum.
Made famous by Gandalf and the rest of the fellowship in The Fellowship of the Ring, you can visit this landmark on the far eastern side of Nud-melek. But be careful...it's a long way down if you fall. And also remember, you cannot cross the Bridge itself. Because of Gandalf's encounter with the Balrog of Moria, the Bridge of Khazad-dum is broken beyond repair. It's quite easy to reach the western side of the Bridge by going directly to it, but to reach the eastern side, you have to go north through a cavern and around the chasm the Bridge once crossed. Once you pass by the eastern side of the Bridge, you can continue east through the First Hall and at that point you've reached the end of Moria. Leaving the First Hall will take you to Lothlorien and the glorious outside world once again.
The Watcher in the Water - The large 12-man raid instance in Moria is for the Watcher in the Water, and as I stated earlier, you can access its entrance by going to the far southwestern edge of the Waterworks. Only a handful of groups have completed this instance on my server Elendilmir at the time of this writing, and those that have completed it were rewarded with a very rare First Age legendary item.
Legendary items have been talked about at great length so I won't get into them too much here. Sufficed to say, there are three levels of legendary items you can utilize:
In Part 3 of my second look at Moria, I will break down more of the aspects of the expansion pack, including a detailed look at the Warden class, how you can improve your legendary weapons quickly with higher tier runes, and we'll cover the area outside Moria known as Lothlorien, or The Golden Wood. See you next time!