The ABCs of Raiding
The Basics of Raiding with the Riders of Rohan
With the recent addition of the Instance Join panel, allowing people to travel to any instance from anywhere in the world, one barrier to entering more instances and raids has been removed. After all, one can keep at questing, deeding, or fighting other players in the Ettenmoors until it's time to go, and then raid with the Riders of Rohan!
The only downside is that the kind of preparation that used to go into raids is now forgotten. With many new players and some that want the fine rewards of completing The Vile Maw, Filikul, Dar Narbugud (DN), Barad Guldur (BG), Helegrod, Ost Dunhoth (OD), and Tower of Orthanc (ToO), it's good to review the normal raid preparation steps. Raids, by which I mean any 12- or 24-man instance, require more than casual familiarity with one's class or "tank and spank" mechanics. Explanations for boss fights often require more time than the fight itself, with each piece of the raid functioning smoothly to allow others to do the same. I've been in lots of wiped raids, and have even been the cause of the wipe once or twice, but would rather share that experience with fellow Riders than have you all learn the hard way (and cost 11 or 23 other repairs and time).
Know your class. This part cannot be overstated. In a three-man or six-man instance this is still important, but the fight mechanics rarely require a complex interaction of multiple classes. Knowing all the details of your class traits, selecting the right legendary items, skill rotations for short fights, and for longer ones where power issues might arise cannot be replaced by any amount of gear. You may be asked to trait a particular way, and not only will you need all the legendary skills possible by your class, you'll need to know how to play the trait lines. Fortunately, by playing for 85 levels, you should know your character fairly well.
Group frequently with other characters on 3- and 6-man instances. A character who solos for 85 levels will have no idea which classes have what strengths. People are constantly asking for help in kinchat, and some public channels. Join them! You will learn about the other classes, different fight mechanics, and how your character performs in the context of a team. Going from a one-man-band to a 12-man ensemble is a real stretch. Take small steps, and your learning will be easier. Work different instances too - you could grind The Grand Stair in Moria endlessly, but you'll be bored and learn very little.
Get Ventrilo. In-game voice is of poor quality, and is often impossible to hear over combat sounds. A microphone would be great, but if you can at least hear, you'll be much more useful than if you have to attempt to read raidchat. The vast majority of grouping types have vent, and use it to the exclusion of all other forms of communication. Get it before the raid comes up - don't announce once you've joined that you don't have it, and everyone has to suffer communication problems as a result.
Take the instance seriously. 11 or 23 other people are relying on your efforts. Take the time to prepare - it shows respect for them and their time as well.
Traiting: If you're traited well for solo play in quests or just deeding (PvE or Player vs. Environment) or as player vs. player in the Ettenmoors (PvP), you might be traited well for a particular instance, but it's unlikely. Class traits are only part of this - proper virtues and legendary traits are critical to success. Sure, you can join an instance from anywhere - but unless you are already raid-traited, you should get to a bard first, then enter the instance. Virtues at 12 are the bare minimums to enter a 12-man raid, in my assessment. There are many many ways to get to 16 - and no excuse to not have them all at 16 after several months playing. Just consider your virtues as equipment you'll never outgrow (see next bullet)
Equipment: Work at getting the best equipment you can. Raids have vastly longer times in combat than PvE or PvP. Fights with bosses can take 10 minutes, or there could be many many mobs. Sometimes both. Swapping out some equipment to maximize in-combat power regeneration (ICPR) or resists makes the difference between using crucial skills or autoattacking; between taking crazy damage or taking manageable damage. This doesn't mean you need a full set of separate raid jewelry and legendary items - but swapping out select pieces is worth it. Inspect other classes and see what equipment people are wearing - then make the effort to get the gear that would be the biggest improvement for you.
Hope tokens: Each player should have a full stack of five. If you are defeated, you will need to pop hope to fight effectively. Other people will be fighting, buffing, healing, tanking, debuffing. They will not likely see that you need hope. Always get the best available tokens, and 30 or 40 minute ones are the best for raids.
Scrolls: Battle Lore and Warding Lore are long lasting and effective. The bonus from Warding Lore is especially good, bonus to all mitigations. That translates directly to you taking less damage, and healers having an easier time keeping all involved alive.
Potions: You need them all, and you need lots of them. They should be in your inventory at all times, really. You cannot count on the Lore-master, Captain, Hunter, or Burglar removing your wounds, diseases, fears, or poisons - these effects will be of serious magnitude, the other characters could be stunned, rooted, too far away from you, out of power, or any other reason they can't remove it quickly - you need to remove these effects yourself. Get the big-boy level-capped potions too - when the effects are level 85, those level 75 potions will be worth nothing at all. Also, don't be stingy with them - taking a morale or power pot early enough puts off that time when morale or power get dangerously low. In solo play, you can attempt to get by without them, but in a more demanding instance, drink up!
Food: All kinds - the addition of fortifying food was a godsend. +1600 to wound, poison, disease, or fear resist rating? That's serious, and can even help prevent those curses from taking effect in the first place, but will always diminish their impact on you. Healers will be glad you picked up a stack. They last for 20 minutes too, so you can chow down and be good for a long fight. Trail foods amplify a particular stat by up to +83 , which is a great way to compensate for equipment deficiencies. Finally, get 10 minute versions of the cooked food that increases in-combat morale regeneration (ICMR) and ICPR. You can never have too much morale or power, or respective regeneration, and this is doubly true in raids.
Class specific items: Whether it's consumables like tonics, sheet music, or tactics; or permanent class items like signals, chisels, or books, you may need a particular item to maximize return on FMs, reduce threat, increase damage, shift attunement quickly, or some other feat that you may not need while soloing or even completing six-man content. Of course, it's expected that you know what these do, and how to use them, so drop some silver at the AH and experiment!
Read about the instance: "teh interwebz" aren't just for porn and spam, but also complete fight strategies and even full videos of the various fights on YouTube. We've even had kinmates publish strategies and links to raid resources right here on the Riders of Rohan site. The more you understand how corruptions stack on the Watcher, or how crowd control (CC) works to your disadvantage in DN, how distributed damage works in BG, or what Adaptation, Anger, and Bloodlust buffs are, the better you'll understand how you fit in, and when the raid leader explains the fight, you'll have context in which to place his remarks. Turns out that people post guides to all sorts of good things here...
Block out the time: Running Filikul/The Turtle takes 5 minutes, win or lose. Running watcher takes about 20 minutes. Helegrod wings take from 45 minutes to an hour. Running DN or BG takes about 3 hours. Add assembly and retrait/reequip time, and you see what you sign up for. Show up on time for scheduled events - again, this is a respect issue for the other people who have taken the time to be ready to go at the designated time. We all understand real-life issues come up, and no one wants LotRO to come before real life, but planning can minimize those issues.
Follow instructions. The raid leader has not been chosen at random. He's a veteran of many successful raids, and may have a slightly different strategy in mind than the ones you've read online. If everyone is doing his own thing, wipes will result so get on the same page as the leader. If you have a question, ask it before things start. Regardless of the "best" way to do things, everyone needs to be on the same page. Offering advice is always welcome, but when it's time to shatter spears, there's only one voice to heed.
Be patient and respectful. Getting killed sucks, but you should learn from it, and try again. People make mistakes, and everyone has a first time in a particular instance. Keep that thought in mind, and realize that in-game silver for repairs is actually pretty cheap. While consumables are somewhat expensive, relying on other people to constantly get hope tokens or scrolls shifts that cost burden onto them. Show respect by paying your way and bringing your own pots, food, tokens, and scrolls.
Participate in some kind of post-mortem with the kinship. Even if just a quick chat after a wipe or even a success, try to point out where we need to be stronger or our strategy needs to change. When your heals were particularly good, or the tank was an absolute aggro machine, or adds were burned down especially quickly, point that out too! We don't have to fail to learn - and can ask our more experienced/successful raiders how they did what they did. Also, don't be afraid to ask how the wipe came to be. Total failure is a wonderful teacher for the unforgiving mechanics involved in raiding. If you get loot and then drop, you are missing out on a chance to figure out how to do it better next time.
Raiding can be daunting, with lots of instructions being barked (sometimes with audible stress or frustration), but it's because the instance is challenging! The real bonds in the kinship, however, are forged in the fellowship and raid. Helping each other triumph over truly powerful Arch-Nemeses means more than crafting for each other, or giving someone a port. We need more raiders of all classes - not because we are short people with which to raid, but because it makes for a tighter kinship, more opportunities to learn about your own character and that of the other players, and an overall richer game experience.