The Lord of the Rings Online includes two expansions: Mines of Moria and Siege of Mirkwood. The second of these (Siege of Mirkwood) is strongly tied to skirmishes. As such, today we will look into Siege of Mirkwood to help decide if the expansion is worth purchasing.
How is Siege of Mirkwood tied to skirmishes? This is the expansion where skirmishes were introduced. An upshot if this is that six of the thirteen skirmishes currently available require ownership of the Mirkwood expansion.
You have three choices on how to handle Mirkwood:
- Purchase Siege of Mirkwood as soon as possible.
- Purchase Siege of Mirkwood at a later time.
- Forget about Siege of Mirkwood.
Siege of Mirkwood
Siege of Mirkwood includes the following non-skirmish benefits:
- A level cap of 65.
- Book 9 of Volume 2.
- The Mirkwood region (this effectively includes one large quest pack).
But wait, according to the most recent producer’s letter, there are changes looming in the November update. We do not have the details yet but it appears that you should be able to do the epic quest line without purchasing Mirkwood and all players will have a level cap of 65. This article will describe how things currently stand.
In addition to this, you also receive the following skirmish-related benefits:
- Access to six additional skirmishes
- Strike against Dannenglor (fast and high marks)
- Protectors of Thrangúlhad (ballistae)
- Breaching the Necromancer’s Gate (long and stairs)
- Assault on the Ringwraiths’ Lair (double lieutenant counter attacks)
- The Battle in the Tower (fast except for long speech at the end)
- Rescue at Nûrz Ghâshu (not in Mirkwood but requires level 65)
- Soldiers may rank up to 25
- Second tier lieutenant slayer deeds
Let’s look at five factors that will help you decide if it is time to purchase the Mirkwood expansion. The lower-level skirmishes are also includes on the tables below to aid in comparison.
1. Mines of Moria
Mines of Moria was the first expansion to Lord of the Rings Online. This is a prerequisite for purchasing Mirkwood. Therefore, if you cannot afford to purchase both expansions, then you cannot afford to get Mirkwood. The following is the list of features you receive with Moria:
- A level cap of 60 (this will be obsolete after the November update)
- Books 1 to 8 of Volume 2 of the epic quest series (everyone will be able to access these quests after the November update)
- The non-epic Moria quests (this effectively includes one huge quest pack)
- Crafting Tier 6
- Legendary Items
- Warden and Runekeeper classes
- Class trait capstones (only useful if you have at least five class trait slots)
- Two additional character slots
You will notice that none of these have anything to do with skirmishes. There is only one direct benefit for skirmishing:
- Soldiers may progress to rank 15 (rather than the rank 7 maximum without the expansion). We have not yet heard if this is affected by the November update.
The good news is that many stores will carry old copies of Mines of Moria at good discounts. Some of these copies include 30-days of VIP membership (the 30-day VIP membership is only valid if you are adding Moria to a subscription that does not already have it).
2. Current Level
The lowest level you can run any of these skirmishes is level 60. If you are only level 20, then you may be better off waiting before worrying about either expansion. If you are seriously interested in getting Mirkwood and you are still in the lower levels, I recommend you wait until either you reach level 60 or Turbine places Mirkwood on sale.
|60||Strike against Dannelglor|
|60||Protectors of Thrangúlhad|
|65||Breaching the Necromancer’s Gate|
|65||Assault on the Ringwraiths’ Lair|
|65||The Battle in the Tower|
|65||Rescue in Nûrz Ghâshu|
3. Skirmish Statistics
Different skirmishes have different skirmish mark awards. The exact awards can vary based on the level, group size, and tier at which you run the skirmish. Below is a table showing the awards for a level 65 at-level Tier 1 solo run. The awards listed on the table below include awards for taking control points (in defensive skirmishes, this is for defending against assaults), keeping defenders alive, and completing encounters.
The CP (Control Points) column indicates the marks you receive when you take a control point or fend off an assault. This is the bulk of the marks you receive in each skirmish run.
The Defenders column indicates the number of marks you receive for each defender that survives the skirmish. Some defenders are vital (e.g., Mathi in Siege of Gondamon), meaning that the skirmish will fail if that defender dies. Other defenders are non-vital (such as the other defenders in Gondamon), meaning that you can win the skirmish even if they are defeated but the total number of Defender marks you receive will be reduced for each defender lost.
Each skirmish run includes two encounters (selected from a pool of encounters associated with the skirmish). Each encounter awards 10 marks (at level 65). You can skip an encounter if you wish.
The time column includes my typical time for running the skirmish (using a level 65 warden) when I face all counterattacks and encounters. Your times may be different based on your class and play style (you will hear players quote much faster times than I have listed here, especially for Strike against Dannenglor).
The marks per hour column includes two numbers: the first includes the rate if you only count the marks earned from the skirmish while the second number includes the marks earned in the daily quest (107 marks at level 65). Neither includes marks gained through bartering special marks.
|Trouble in Tuckborough||115||32||20||167||25||400 / 650|
|Siege of Gondamon||100||32||20||152||25||365 / 620|
|Stand at Amon Sûl||84||21||20||125||15||500 / 925|
|Thievery and Mischief||116||0||20||136||20||400 / 725|
|Defence of the Prancing Pony||84||0||20||104||15||415 / 845|
|Ford of Bruinen||110||0||20||130||20||390 / 710|
|Strike against Dannenglor||71||64||20||155||18||515 / 870|
|Protectors of Thrangúlhad||105||0||20||125||18||415 / 770|
|Breaching the Necromancer’s Gate||121||0||20||141||30||280 / 495|
|Assault on the Ringwraiths’ Lair||63||21||20||104||25||250 / 505|
|The Battle in the Tower||89||21||20||130||25||310 / 570|
|Rescue in Nûrz Ghâshu||105||0||20||125||15||500 / 925|
4. Campaign Marks Earned
When you defeat an encounter or skirmish boss, you have a chance to gain a campaign mark. These campaign marks are used to purchase cosmetic items. There are several articles at this site written by Merric that display the various cosmetic items available.
If you wish to have access to a variety of cosmetic items, then you will require campaign marks from a variety of skirmishes. The level 65 skirmishes are the only source for the last two campaign marks: the Cannuilan Marks and the Lefnuilan Marks.
|Eruilan||Trouble in Tuckborough||Siege of Gondamon||Stand at Amon Sûl|
|Adlan||Thievery and Mischief||Prancing Pony||Survival: Barrow Downs|
|Naillan||Ford of Bruinen||Dannenglor||Thrangúlhad|
|Cannuilan||Necromancer’s Gate||Ringwraiths’ Lair||Battle in the Tower|
|Lefnuilan||Rescue in Nûrz Ghâshu|
As you run a skirmish, you gain experience from killing monsters. If you are using skirmishes to level, then you most likely want skirmishes that maximize your potential experience gain. The following table includes my experience ratings for each of the solo modes. These are relative measures, not the actual number of experience points (as total experience would depend on your level). This assumes that if there is a defender at a location, then both you and the defender will participate in the combat (the numbers assume the defenders are robbing you of experience).
Please note that even at level cap you will still gain item experience. Therefore, the statistic is not useless for the skirmishes with a level 65 minimum.
|Trouble in Tuckborough||88|
|Siege of Gondamon||82|
|Stand at Amon Sûl||45|
|Thievery and Mischief||80|
|Defence of the Prancing Pony||48|
|Ford of Bruinen||42|
|Strike against Dannelglor||35|
|Protectors of Thrangúlhad||55|
|Breaching the Necromancer’s Gate||99|
|Assault on the Ringwraiths’ Lair||56|
|The Battle in the Tower||54|
|Rescue in Nûrz Ghâshu||30|
Now that we have taken a look at the criteria, let’s have a look at the choices. All of these skirmishes are tied to specific quests in the epic quest chain. You cannot run any of these skirmishes until you have reached the point in the quest line where you need to run them.
1. Strike against Dannenglor
Minimum Level: 60
Epic Quest Unlock: Volume 2 Book 9 Chapter 4
Plusses: High skirmish mark value
Minuses: Low lieutenant count, Mob density, Ruingalad
Strike against Dannenglor has the second highest skirmish mark reward of any skirmish. As it is shorter than the other skirmishes with high mark rewards, it also has a very high marks per hour value.
This skirmish is noted for its speed runs. Anyone that makes such runs is laughing at the “18” I am listing as the nominal time. Many players reduce the run time in two ways: skipping the encounters and skipping the counterattacks. While I can see skipping the encounters if you don’t need the campaign marks, I do not skip the counterattacks for two reasons. First, this skirmish has the highest proportion of marks assigned to the defenders of any skirmish (nearly half the available marks). Second, the object of the skirmish is to save those elves. It seems rather cruel to allow them to get recaptured right after you freed them.
This is not to say that this is an easy skirmish. This skirmish includes a higher mob density than most skirmishes (though not quite as high as that of Tuckborough) and you will be facing limrafn. One of the limrafn you will face is the most notorious of all skirmish encounter bosses: Ruingalad. This boss has a combination of a damage reflect and a damaging aura that makes him brutal in solo runs.
2. Protectors of Thrangúlhad
Minimum Level: 60
Epic Quest Unlock: Volume 2 Book 9 Chapter 14
Minuses: Time-sensitive encounters
How many opportunities do you have to use siege engines in this game? There are fifteen waves in this skirmish and you fire a ballista at the start of each one. A good shot weakens the charging opposition, which is good as this skirmish also features the highest mob density of any defensive skirmish: six weak opponents in each wave in solo mode.
The most annoying aspect about this skirmish is that most of the encounters are time-sensitive. You have very little time between when you are informed that the encounter is active and when you must react. This can be tough in solo mode when you need to worry about a wave of attackers and an encounter at the same time.
3. Breaching the Necromancer’s Gate
Minimum Level: 65
Epic Quest Unlock: Volume 2 Book 9 Chapter 15
Plusses: High item experience rating
Minuses: Very long, Stairs
This skirmish is a soldier’s nightmare, as it features a myriad of stairs. Between the stairs and the distance between control points, this skirmish takes longer than any other skirmish.
This skirmish includes no defenders. Between this and its length, it should be no surprise that Breaching the Necromancer’s Gate has the highest experience rating of any skirmish. Since the minimum level for this skirmish is 65 (the current level cap), this will only help with item experience.
4. Assault on the Ringwraiths’ Lair
Minimum Level: 65
Epic Quest Unlock: Volume 2 Book 9 Chapter 15
Plusses: Challenging lieutenant combinations
Minuses: Low Marks award
This is the only skirmish where meeting paired lieutenants is required even in solo mode. This adds a bit to the challenge when the two lieutenants work particularly well together. Whether this is a plus or minus would depend on your preferences.
The real minus for this skirmish is that it is tied for the lowest mark award (the other being Defence of the Prancing Pony). As this is a rather long skirmish, it also has a very small marks per hour rating.
5. The Battle in the Tower
Minimum Level: 65
Epic Quest Unlock: Volume 2 Book 9 Chapter 18
Plusses: Mazog, End of Volume 2 storyline
This skirmish is the only one that features one of the iconic bosses in the game. Much of Volume 2 focuses on Mazog and this skirmish brings that story to its close. The boss is noted for a knockback effect that some find quite fun, especially in group runs. Too bad Mazog is prone to make long speeches.
6. Rescue in Nûrz Ghâshu
Minimum Level: 65
Epic Quest Unlock: Volume 3 Book 1 Chapter 8
Plusses: Setting, Fast, Can control number of waves
Minuses: Vacillating NPC (in group runs)
My first contact with the Rift was through this skirmish. This skirmish allows you to experience two of the rooms from that raid.
One of the more interesting aspects of this skirmish is its use of fellowship maneuvers. Unfortunately, this feature is not available in solo runs, so you will need to run this in a group to get the full feel of this skirmish. In solo runs, you only need to hit each blocking torech.
If you fail to hit the torech (or fail to use the correct fellowship maneuver in group runs), you will spawn another wave in addition to any that were scheduled for the run. Therefore, if you were in the mood to face an endless supply of lieutenants, you could just run this skirmish and keep failing to hit the torech.
The most annoying feature in group runs is Golodir, who changes sides during the course of the boss fight. Since you are there to rescue him, this means you have to fend him off without killing him (once again, you use fellowship maneuvers to stop him).
My Favorite Skirmishes
If you decision on whether you wish to purchase Siege of Mirkwood comes down to the skirmishes, then the question is which ones will you enjoy playing? Alas, there’s no way to test this in advance. As such, I am listing my favorite skirmishes below to show how much I enjoy each one.
I encourage anyone who has played all of the skirmishes to post their favorites as comments to allow the ones without Mirkwood an opportunity to see more than one point-of-view. Please post the class you play when you do this in case your class affects your opinion. While I have played the earlier skirmishes on most classes, I have only played the Mirkwood skirmishes on a warden.
1. Thievery and Mischief
2. Protectors of Thrangúlhad
3. Trouble in Tuckborough
4. Ford of Bruinen
5. Strike against Dannenglor
6. The Battle in the Tower
7. Rescue in Nûrz Ghâshu
8. Defence of the Prancing Pony
9. Siege of Gondamon
10. Survival: Barrow Downs
11. Stand at Amon Sûl
12. Assault on the Ringwraiths’ Lair
13. Breaching the Necromancer’s Gate
You will notice that two of the Mirkwood skirmishes are on the bottom of the list. Those who like the challenge of facing two lieutenants together would most likely rate Assault on the Ringwraiths’ Lair much higher.
The most important question is just what changes are being made in November? How are they allowing you to complete Volume 2 book 9 and Volume 3 Book 1 without skirmish access? Are they going to drop the price on the expansions now that several key components are part of the FTP system? With those questions still pending, I recommend that you wait until we learn more about the November update before you purchase the Mirkwood expansion.