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Lord of the Rings Online: Another Look at Moria, Part 3

MMORPG.com writer Matt McLean writes this new look at the Mines of Moria expansion for Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online, outlining some of the new areas introduced by the expansion.

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Here in Part Three of my article, Another Look at Moria, I will go into detail regarding the Warden, one of the new classes within the expansion, The Mines of Moria. I'll also talk about how you can increase the potency of your legendary items with higher tier relics.

Warding Off The Enemy - The New Warden Class

There were two new character classes released with the expansion in November...the Warden and Rune-keeper. The Rune-keeper is widely regarded as a true "casting" class, wearing light armor and casting spells much like the Loremaster. One of my fellow correspondents wrote a nice piece regarding the Rune-keeper, so I suggest you check that out if you want to get more info on that class.

When Moria was released, after I started levelling my hunter up from 50, I also took the time to roll a Warden. As with my other characters, I kept him in the Race of Men. Wardens are billed as medium armor-wearing semi-tanks that have access to both ranged and melee combat options. By the use of a new weapon type, the javelin, the Warden can engage a foe in ranged combat. However, this is mainly used as a mob-pulling technique. The Warden's main damage dealing abilities are utilized in close-range melee combat using a new system specifically designed for the Warden class called gambits.

Gambits are skill combos that when used in certain combinations produce highly significant effects or damage. There are basically three types of attacks the Warden can utilize; a "Quick Thrust" (for main weapon damage), a "Shield-Bash" (for a quick strike with your shield), and a "Warden's Taunt" (a type of cry or shout that has a Damage-Over-Time effect). You begin with just two slots for creating these combos. Two Quick Thrusts in a row produce the gambit "Deft Strike", which is a somewhat high damage melee attack. Two Shield-Bashes and you produce a "Defensive Strike", which is a more low-level melee attack but temporarily increases your block rating.

You start off with these two-combo gambits and as you level up your warden, you get additional slots for creating more complex gambits. My warden is currently at level 26, and I have 3 slots for creating gambits. Currently, the maximum number of slots a Warden will have in his gambit window is 5. One of my favorite gambits right now is Onslaught which goes Quick Thrust-Shield Bash-Quick Thrust. There are two very cool things about this gambit; one, executing it causes your warden to thrust three separate times at the enemy, causing pretty good damage. The other thing it does is interrupt inductions by the enemy. An example of an induction would be the enemy trying to heal itself, or possibly poison or fear you in some way. I'm sure you can see how this would be effective.

Another one of my favorite gambits at the moment is Safeguard, which is Shield Bash-Quick Thrust-Shield Bash. The Warden is a great solo class, and as such, has some great healing abilities he can use in the gambit system. Safeguard is one such healing gambit. When executed, Safeguard not only smacks the enemy with a small amount of damage, but also heals you with a quick heal initially and grants you a small amount of Heal-Over-Time effects as well. This is particularly useful when dealing with multiple enemies at once.

The Warden is also considered one of the tanking classes in LotRO, and as such some of his gambits were created with the ability to draw the attention of enemies to himself and away from the other players in a fellowship. One of these gambits is called Maddening Strike, which is Shield Bash-Warden's Taunt-Shield Bash. This gambit knocks the enemy selected for a decent amount of damage, but also accomplishes the more important task of drawing the attention away from whoever that enemy was facing and transfers some of the threat to the Warden.

One tactic used by a lot of lower level players is two-man teams while questing. You typically see this utilized by having either a ranged class (like the hunter) team up with a tank (like a guardian), or having a casting class (like the Rune-keeper) team up with a warden. In my kinship, one of my friends there had created a Rune-keeper so we ventured into the Lone Lands one night. It turns out that the Warden and Rune-keeper are a great combination for questing together. The Warden can hold the mob aggro fairly easily because of the high amount of damage he can do with his gambits, and the fact that he has the taunts which draw the ire of the enemies they're facing, and the Rune-keeper can focus on his attunement (either to damage or healing) and really maximize his skills.

Since I haven't been in a lot of six-man fellowships with my warden yet, I haven't had the chance to use some of the gambits specifically designed for fellowships. One of these is called Fierce Resolve, which goes Warden's Taunt-Quick Thrust-Shield Bash. This creates a Damage-Over-Time effect on up to 8 targets in the area that transfers some of their morale to the Warden. I sure you can see how this would be an effective gambit in fellowship situations with multiple attackers.

The Warden also has some toggle skills, like helping with in-combat morale regeneration, which lend the Warden to even more of a solo-play style. Turbine has said often that with the Mines of Moria, they wanted to increase the opportunities for players who prefer solo-play, and with the Warden class introduced, I think they have found another way to effectively pull this off.

Break It On Down - The Legendary Item System

The legendary weapon system is one of the most talked about parts of the Moria expansion. I talked a little about how the legendary items are broken down into groups in my previous article. Here are a couple of tips to help you increase the potency of your weapon and/or items.

  • When you start off playing with a legendary weapon, you will undoubtedly find additional third age items you could use. Remember, you can equip more than one legendary weapon in your Legendary Items window. In fact, you can have up to 6 legendary items earning (or not earning) item XP. So if you find something out in the game that you think you might want to use later, go ahead and equip it so it can start earning item XP. Remember, early on in the process (and when you get to Moria and start doing the legendary item advancement solo instances), your legendary items are earning XP very quickly. You should have your legendary items up to level 10 (the first chance you have to re-forge) in a day or less.
  • If you do decide to break your old legendary items down at a relic-master, you will likely obtain some type of heritage rune which you can use to give XP to another legendary item you have equipped. It's important to remember that even though you get these heritage runes when you break your items down, you will likely not get enough XP to establish your new item at the same level as the previous item. An example would be when I broke down my old level 58 second age bow for my new level 60 second age bow...the old bow was at level 28 (out of 50). After breaking it down, I received a heritage rune that brought the new bow to level 22 (out of 50). So in transferring to a new weapon, I lost a bunch of XP. It'll be worth it in the end of course, but initially, you're going to take a hit. Just remember that whenever you decide to break your old items down.
  • As you get closer to the current level cap of 60, you'll want to upgrade to a second age item and/or weapon(s), depending on what sort of character you are playing. You might luck up and find these items in the world as random drops. If you do, consider yourself lucky. In all likelihood however, you're going to need to save up that gold and silver in order to purchase the weapon of your choice. But remember...second age items aren't always better than third age ones. Examine the legacies attached to each item and make sure they compliment your playing style.
  • As you obtain new legendary items (and you'll get plenty of them you can't use), you have a couple of options at your disposal. First, you can put the items up on the AH and try to sell them off. The problem comes in when you see the vast amount of items already on sale. At any given time, you can search the legendary weapons list on the AH and find literally hundreds of items on sale for various prices. The chance that your items will sell is remote (unless you're selling a second age item). In my opinion, the best course of action for most of the legendary items you obtain will be to have a relic-master break them down so you can obtain additional relics.

Relics are items that attach in slots on your legendary weapons which enhance your personal stats. There are eight different tiers of relics you can use, each one giving you more and more of a statistical bump. Some of the quests you complete within Moria will give you relics you can use, and almost all of the instances in Eregion and Moria have relics as loot. Take the legendary items you obtain in your journeys to a relic-master (located in most of the quest hubs within Moria, Eregion and Lothlorien). Once you break these items down, you can click the tab for Relic Forging and begin combining them.

It takes 5 relics on one tier to combine into something new. Once you select the 5 relics you want to combine, you hit the button to combine the relics and voila! You have a new relic(s) in the window which you can use. The trick is to accumulate enough low-level relics to create higher-tier relics you can then equip on your items. As you play with the system, you'll also notice that occasionally (however not as often as you would think), you can combine relics together for a 'crit' or 'Critical Success". This gives you a better reward for your relic combination, usually a couple of higher tier relics as well as possibly refunding you one or two of the relics you used in the combination.

I know it sounds complicated, but trust me; the interface is very user friendly. And as you combine your relics together, you'll get the hang of it pretty quick. Just remember that with each new relic you equip on your legendary item, you lose whatever relic was there before, so be sure you want to replace one relic for another before you do so.

It seems as if I've run out of space to talk about Lothlorien in this article, so I'll just have to address that in a future article! This wraps up my series, Another Look at Moria. I hope you enjoyed our journey together! Safe travels, friends. See you next time!

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