Alt Wars: The Minimalist Strikes Back

The observant reader may notice that my character roster is down to three from six. It wasn’t repetition or resource management that burned me out, it was the classes. Keeping track of skills, keyboard layouts, and general capabilities isn’t going to work while my gameplay is limited by my day job and other things.  We’re back to the 2+1 model: Tinker and Historian plus one wildcard vocation.

Banhorn: Rune keeper / Tinker

Aeluinros: Minstrel / Historian

Eohan: Lore master / Explorer

Tinker and Historian cover each other perfectly; they supply both worthwhile equipment for all classes and valuable goods for the auction house–Eru knows how much silver I’ve wasted on dyes there! Eohan will round things out, probably as an explorer. Let’s see if that plan lasts a week!

So far the minstrel has been an extremely positive experience. Reports of it being a bad class to solo don’t match my experience, but that might be old news from web pages written before tweaks in the last few updates. The down side of an active player base documenting the game is the updating lag when Turbine changes the game. Old web pages in search results don’t help, but now Google provides filters for how old a page is; make sure you click on Show options and check it out.

But now back to bards minstrels. The ballads stack up nicely; they damage blue mobs enough that a quick Herald’s Strike dispatches them on contact. We even held our own against a mob of mobs in Limael’s Vinyard after my lore master companion’s raven decided to fetch every goblin in the valley! I was sure we were dead, but careful morale management combined with lore master mezzing and my Cry of the Valar saved the day.

However, this is the first class where I’m using celebrant potions. I’ve logged more time on rune keepers and lore masters and never ran into power management issues with these spell caster classes. Champions were a problem when chaining lots of single mobs under constant flurry, but that’s nothing compared to the power I blow through with ballads and cries.  As long as I keep my eye on both green and blue, the minstrel’s turing out to be a top-notch solo class–at least at 14 so far.

To deal with some of the class/context switching problems, I’m going to run Ael through the rest of Ered Luin and perhaps up to level 20 before switching to Eohan. It’s a new class to me, I’m enjoying it, and I really want to get a feel for it. Then I’ll run Eohan up to the same level before rebooting Banhorn (again). That should get me to December 1st before having to choose my main and experience the new and improved Lone Lands.  (crossing all appropriate appendages)

I didn’t post last week because I’ve been working on a separate gaming blog which is now available as The blog isn’t LOTRO-specific; expect posts about other MMOs like Star Trek Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic as well as computer games and good old-fashioned paper-and-pencil RPGs. Volume will be low for now since my two other blogs about home and work still require attention. I’m also on Twitter as @camenecium which will tend to be a little more active throughout the week.

I’ve been struggling with the value of as a blogging platform with its old version of WordPress MU and the restrictions on features and layout. That said, the LOTRO-specific features are great, as is the tie-in with the forums and the LOTRO community. For now, anything I post on will cross-post into the LOTRO category on; I think the value of new people seeing posts here makes it worth originating content on Other well-known blogger/podcasters like LOTRO Reporter and Casual Stroll to Mordor don’t have to troll for attention like I do!  By the way, they’re great: Check them out!

Last Week in LOTRO: 18 October 2009

Spreading my week across six alts makes for lots of work and low levels. A big help was getting Banhorn to 15; that means H-O-U-S-E and no longer keeping the LOTRO post office in business single-handedly. After getting all six through their starter areas, I dropped and releveled three.

Eohan had a defeat at the hands of the Blackwolds near Combe. For some reason I really want Undying for him, so it was back to the drawing board after dropping off all the outfits, potions, and materials at Chez Banhorn. Yes, I am a completionist AND an altholic. Hmm, I wonder if they correlate.

Camenecium the Minstrel became Camenecium the Captain so Aelenras could become the minstrel. Aelenras was my first original character on the NWN persistent world, Return of Middle Earth (RoME). He was a Cleric/Champion which I originally mapped to a Champion as my first LOTRO character. I didn’t really like the Champion gameplay much, then tried him as a Hunter before going back to basics with Banhorn (my first D&D character EVER) as a rune keeper.

Much to my surprise, the Minstrel felt true to the character given the ability to wield a sword, buffs, and ranged light attack abilities. After some reading about martial builds, I think I could get to like the Minstrel. Part of why I added a minstrel and a captain to the Gang of Four was to have fellowship-centric alts who are also explorers. Historian fits Aelenras’s backstory better though. I almost feel like making him my primary, but maybe leveling everybody to 20 first and taking stock before (crosses fingers) the revised Lone Lands become available.

From ALTholic to ALTastic!

Giving into my Altcessive-Compulsive Disorder (ACD) has allowed me to treat it as a process, not a problem. And I LOVE process. In my limited experience, two things really improve alt-play:

Spreadsheets. Despite potential ridicule from kinmates, the spreadsheet is an essential tool for managing who needs what, who is where, and what needs to get done. Professionally I’ve become a bit of a RDBMS/table hater because most complex, interesting things are better modeled as objects. Not here though. The alt management spreadsheet (yes, there are others, but that’s another topic) should have the character’s basic stats, the last HOME location, any materials or items needed–particularly for crafting quests–and any key shareable items on the alt’s person. I’m guessing as inventory management becomes a bigger issue, I’ll also assign alts to vault particular cross-class goods like dyes or class/craft-specific items based on who is the primary when there’s duplication. Another handful of rows solve that problem nicely.

A House. Port alts back to your house at the end of a session. Dump all the class-appropriate non-gatherables at the homestead merchant and into the vault, then dump all the items for other things in the house chest. Since all of your alts are home, it’s easy enough (despite the annoying logout timer) to shift things around. When starting a session with an alt, port to the home location. I use the cooldown timer and/or the blue XP bonus bar as a way to limit my time on alts. I also only burn destiny points on XP bonus for the main (Banhorn) and secondary (Eohan–for the moment). Still time to play? Port to the house, follow the procedure, and fire up the next alt in the queue.

Good Idea Gone Bust

One thing that isn’t proving to be a good idea is covering all the professions based on the crafter interdependence system. Since producing professions require quests to level, it’s impossible to work crafter levels without also working class levels.  Kudos or raspberries to Turbine for making it so difficult to be a one-account crafting powerhouse without being online and leveling 24/7. Four primaries in a kinship would work, like the article suggests.  Otherwise, expect alt burnout pretty quickly.

Hello, my name is Banhorn and I’m an Altholic

Last week I rounded out my stable of alts; I rebuilt my four-character team and added alts to experiment with two classes I’ve generally shunned: the minstrel and the captain. No more resisting my altholic tendencies, but my seventh slot will remain open for now.

I’ve run Camenecium, the minstrel, through eight already; it was much more fun and effective than my previous go–no succumbing to the sting of the Marsh Fly Queen in Archet this time! He’s based loosely on a bard I ran through Neverwinter Nights 2; maybe it’s time to review the plot line and borrow a few things since he doesn’t really have much of a backstory of his own. The minstrel’s shouting and music felt  less annoying, and I’m curious to see if melodic patterns across the tiers are real or imagined.

This week I’ll level the captain up to eight and start making some progress on Banhorn and Eohan who will be my co-mains for now. Maybe getting the whole group up to 20 will keep me occupied long enough to Lone Lands 2.0 to come out. Or maybe it’s time to find a 12 step program for my “problem”.

Lone Lands Refresh versus The No-Alt Reboot

Turbine is refreshing the Lone Lands with Siege of Mirkwood (SoM) just as I start my no-alt character reboot. my expectations are high after playing Bree before and after its refresh.  Now I don’t want to level up a new character and have to go through the old Lone Lands. December 1st is so close and yet so far!

Why the reboot? Repeating content and abusing spreadsheets led me to abandon my gang-of-four-alts approach based on a great LOTRO Wiki article about crafter interdependence. It maps out the minimum 4 vocations needed to cover all 10 professions, so I built a team to cover all races and professions:

  • Elven Rune-keeper Tinker
  • Human Lore-master Historian
  • Hobbit Hunter Woodsman
  • Dwarf Champion Armorer

I noticed that tinker and historian complemented each other nicely, and that pairing combined well with rune-keeper and lore-master. Historian’s farmer can level up without quests; an alt historian could supply the main’s cook without character leveling. I could run my main up to 60 and 6×6, then run the alt all the way up with a long enough break for old content to feel (or actually be) new again.

Ideally I’d run one character and suck up the cost of ingredients for the off-profession via the auction house, but I just hate paying for things I can mine or grow myself.  It’s also a problem that both the elf and human characters have long histories outside of LOTRO that need continuing.  The elf as historian has the advantage of Return to Rivendell for access to a superior workstation, but otherwise it’s a purely subjective spreadsheet-immune decision. I don’t do well with those.