8 Changes Epic Battles Need


Epic battles seem to be a dividing topic in the LOTRO community as they stand.  Some players love them, some players hate them and other players tried the battles and don’t care for them.  I find myself somewhere in the middle.  Epic battles in groups are enjoyable but I think they need a lot of work to come close to other end-game content.  I decided to suggest some changes that I think would greatly increase my interest in the epic battle system.



1. Give Players Importance

When I play an epic battle, I feel like just a number.  This was my biggest fear of the system going into the expansion and it came true.  While yes, the side missions do give players some importance, they are just that, side missions.  For the majority of fights, I feel completely insignificant.

Enemies very rarely do damage to players and when they do it is only for a few seconds.  That is, unless all the soldiers are dead already; then the player can get great agro, and feel really important.  This is not ideal though, because you likely are about to lose a hero and the battle as a whole.

How can they add importance then?  That is the question I hope Turbine employees ask themselves before sleep each night.

In my opinion, they can do this by adding resolution to the battles by building waves of enemies that increase in repetition and difficulty culminating in a boss fight or one final push.

Also, I think by making more enemies hunt down players, there would be threat and importance in the battle. In Orcs Must Die 2, there are enemies that hunt down players specifically no-matter where you hide on the map.  This would really help the player feel special knowing that they are so important in the battle that enemies actually want to fight them.  This would also keep players from being overwhelmed with enemies on them as it wouldn’t be constant.  Right now I just feel ignored and therefore, insignificant.

Finally, I think by making players have main mission objectives to protect a certain hero at designated points in the battle could add depth and importance.  Imagine a huge wave of enemies flood at just you and Aragorn.  You both are all that stands between the orcs and the Hornburg itself.

2. Change to Positive Scores 

“There is a basic dichotomy in games: When you reward players for winning a war and give them 100 gold pieces, the player never really questions rewards. If something bad happens, if there is a setback to the player, they react much differently. They complain the game is broken, the AI is cheating, or something in the game is wrong. You have to be careful with setbacks. It’s important to explain why these things happen, and how to avoid these things in the future. If gamers believe the game is cheating, if you haven’t explained something well, they will leave. I see a big value is replayability. Whenever there is an opportunity to plant the seed of replayability, you’re on your way to a satisfied customer.”

“If they (players) feel insignificant, or there is too much random play, then the players will somehow come up with the most paranoid and worst possible explanation of the game’s reasoning.”

-Sid Meier (Civilization series game designer) from 2010 GDC Speech

I believe this quote gets right to the heart of the problem with epic battles.  Epic battles penalize the player with major negative rewards instead of positive.  The system makes me feel paranoid that if I do anything wrong, I will lose rewards.

Why not flip the scale and reward players at the end of battles with a bar that grows as it factors in the amount of soldiers that survive.  Don’t take away score for every single soldier that dies and every banner that falls.  Those things should happen.  After the battle is over, there are a lot of dead men of Rohan.  If anything, facing such great odds as 30,000 enemies, they should be glad if even one soldier survives.  Rohan is glad just to still be alive.

Epic battles seem to almost make a mockery of the truly dire situation by not allowing us to lose any soldiers without being penalized.  This would be a fairly easy change that could cause players to feel much better at the end of a fight.

3. Offer a Hard mode

I think that it would be good to add a hard difficulty for players who really want an extra challenge.  With the amount some of the upgrades players can get in the epic battle trees, the battles can become fairly easy and right now there is no way to change the difficulty.

4. Provide Better Rewards

It is kind of ridiculous that all the battle of Helm’s Deep gives players is a big pile of jewelry.  Give more rewards to players so they have a reason to run the content.

5. Make a Better Tutorial

Considering players can enter at level ten without even knowing how skirmishes work, I can’t even imagine how complex the system would seem to them with the current tutorial.

The tutorial in place for epic battles doesn’t put players in a battle.  I would like to see a similar model to the skirmish system applied to the epic battle tutorial where you actually fight through modified battles to learn how the system works.  Teach new players to the system about the side objectives, waves and all the new systems that were introduced with epic battles.



6. Build More Sizes

Really? Only one 3, 6 and 12-man?  These are epic battles!  There should be lots of players trying to cordinate strategies.  I really like the raid sized epic battle and I think Turbine should really focus on adding sizes to increase the replay value of the system and also make the raiding community in a better mood.

7. Fix the Vanguard Line

I think the biggest weakness of the Vanguard line is that it seems to not understand how epic battles work in practice.  Many of the soldiers do such a great job that the player rarely has to be involved in combat.  In addition to that, the Vanguard line gives damage classes less damage than their other skills.  I think an easy way to improve this line is give a horn skill similar to the one the champion has to stun enemies and also make all the skills have wide, large area of effect damage.

Until they improve the strength of this line in relation to epic battles, I don’t see the benefits for any player to go in this line.

8. Add a Feel of Scale to Epic Battles

I know there are technical limitations that prevent epic battles from allowing players to actually fight 30,000 enemies at once.  That is not how the battle should work anyway.  That being said, only fighting around 30 enemies or less at a time with the help of all the soldiers makes the battles feel anti-climactic.  Where are the archer volleys firing at the orcs below? Why are there no NPC’s on the catapults, batiste, or any of the siege equipment? They just stand on the wall.  Sure some of them might be too old to wield a bow, but really?  Add little details that make us feel like some of the NPC’s are actually trying to defeat enemies before they get to the wall.

Do NPC’s not know how to knock down ladders?  I know there are a lot of technical limitations, but help players feel like everyone is fighting and doing everything they can to prevent the orcs from coming on the wall.  At this point, I would even be fine if the extra fluff doesn’t even hurt the enemies.  Make players feel like they are in a real battle even if they are not.

How would you change epic battles? Let us know in the comments below!



  1. Fredelas /

    1. I think that in order to stay true to Tolkien’s works, we can’t be too heroic in epic battles. At least not in anything memorable that happens. All of our actions have to be too inconsequential to be worth writing down; otherwise, why weren’t our characters in the books?

    This is an almost certain consequence every time Turbine puts our characters into Tolkien’s actual story. We just end up doing menial tasks.

    I think this could have been avoided if Turbine had implemented these as traditional instances and raids (or even skirmishes), rather than epic battles. We could have been doing important things in important conflicts that were maybe just slightly out of view of Tolkien’s writings.

    2. Seeing the ebb and flow of battle (merit rising and falling), rather than just counting the bodies at the end was a risky move by Turbine. Personally, I like it because it gives me immediate feedback that I’m more likely to remember next time.

    However, it’s not useful enough to allow me to adjust my strategy in real-time. That’s the major shortcoming, in my opinion. It’s okay to tell me about negative consequences in the midst of battle, but unless it’s something I can react to right away, it just feels like scolding and becomes demoralizing.

    3. Completely agreed. Other group content Turbine has designed succeeded in reaching a broad audience largely because there were multiple degrees of difficulty.

    However, since our characters are vastly overpowered right now, I think this effort would have been wasted at this time. Revamping our characters at the same time as introducing epic battles was extremely poor planning on Turbine’s part. It made it virtually impossible to tune these encounters meaningfully.

    4. There are so many places we can earn rewards now. This is a major drawback with level-scalable content. Every time you add more, you have to keep spreading the loot out.

    However, I think Turbine could have added a “starter” armour set, kind of like the Draigoch/dungeon set added with RoI. It could have been linked to epic battle deeds (which don’t currently exist, either).

    5. Originally, there was not going to be any tutorial at all. The one we have now was put together over a weekend. It feels like Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas are reciting a developer diary to us.

    In some ways, this is also true to the books. Almost none of the fighters at Helm’s Deep had any training or any idea what to expect. Why should we be any different?

    Right now, the tutorial functions more as an advertisement to low-level players that, “Hey, epic battles exist!” However, I see no reason Turbine couldn’t have designed a small battle (with forgiving mechanics) that introduces the features one at a time.

    6. You’re right. All of these spaces can support dozens of NPCs fighting, so there’s no reason they couldn’t also support 3, 6, or a dozen players. During beta testing, it was revealed that there simply wasn’t time to implement this and meet Turbine’s deadlines.

    7. I agree, the vanguard role is the most useless. It especially doesn’t fit well with some classes. I think Turbine could have left it out entirely without making any other substantial changes.

    8. We’re basically soldiers in these battles, just like the NPCs. Our roles ended up being the things that were too hard to script the NPC soldiers to do.

    I agree, though. Some of the NPCs should at least be trying to do these things, even if they make poor decisions or have little consequence in the outcome.

    The timing of everything also feels very stop-and-go. I never get the impression that there’s an earnest constant onslaught on Helm’s Deep.

    • Andang /

      1. I agree but at least have some enemies do damage to us. I feel less important than a 90 year old man of Rohan.
      2. Exactly!
      3. I agree that they need to fix class balance first before balancing other stuff for sure. I just hope they add difficulty someday.
      4. They could have done something more than what is usually the side zone rewards.
      5. I was fine without a tutorial but I know a lot of players who are still confused by the system and the tutorial they have now really only shows you how to interact with soldiers and siege equipment.
      6. This was one of my biggest disappointments and I hope somebody over at Turbine takes time to make more tiers.
      7. I agree it would be better without Vanguard because of how many players I know that pick it and don’t realize it is not as useful as the other lines.
      8. I know it is an MMO but it is amazing how little is actually moving in these battles.

  2. Southi /

    First I will have to admit that I like Epic Battles FAR more than most instances simply from the fact that there is often more than one way to be successful in the side mission and there is at least some randomness to it that you don’t know exactly which side missions you will be receiving.

    With that said though I wouldn’t mind seeing several changes that you mentioned above. Perhaps more focus on the positive instead of the negative, the addition of more/different rewards and definitely the ability to solo/duo/3man/6man/12man ALL of the big battles. I believe a tier 2 would be nice. I do also believe at this time that there is very little incentive for people to choose vanguard because it appears for the most part to not be an efficient use of promotion points.

    I do feel however that we as adventurers are only a small part of the battle and shouldn’t get overly important in our significance. I also don’t know if many of those of us who run lotro on older less glitzy machines can afford to run big battles if they add much more scale to the game. As it is right now I still know many people who on lower settings still crash occasionally in big battles because there is simply just so much going on (and they crash nowhere else in lotro). I do get wanting more (don’t get me wrong) I just don’t know how beneficial that would be for a great percentage of players. As far as a better tutorial being needed to be honest the current tutorial is more of a you get out of it what you put into it. Basically it allows you the ability to interact with objects as you would in the actual big battles. Some people read stuff and do stuff others just click through and fail miserably later. Also the first big battle (Helm’s Dike) also gives the player the chance to walk around, look at stuff and interact with items BEFORE they talk to the NPC and the actual battle begins. Perhaps what would be a big help would be bright red lettering across your screen saying don’t click on the NPC until you want the battle to begin. I actually believe that feeling of being lost your first time through adds to the confusion and feel of it being something decidedly different from your standard skirm or instance.

    In closing before helping a new player through any big battle for the first time it is very beneficial to open up the Big Battle Screen and actually look at the side missions (and their goals) to know what may occur and how best to deal with it. This helps to avoid confusion in the middle of the ensuing conflict.

    • Andang /

      I agree the random aspect is nice but I have issues with the system that prevent that from really shining I think. That being said, I do like the system in groups.
      I agree we should not be too important but at least have some enemies do damage to us. I feel less important than a 90 year old man of Rohan.
      The crashing aspect is why I mentioned there could be technical difficulties with it being an MMO. That being said, I would rather have a more epic battle and more fun gameplay than seeing 30,000 enemies in the distance.
      I feel like I have really understood epic battles ever since my second run in the beta but I know many players who have done epic battles several times and are still confused so I think they need to do something to help them out.

  3. I agree that many aspects Epic Battles could be improved. While I agree with the decision to make our characters ‘just another soldier’ so to speak, I also agree it would be nice if we could play a more active role. It should matter that we are there, even if we are just one of many. I think there should be more rewards; maybe not even necessarily gear, what about beer and stat-boosting food for those who help defend Helm’s Deep? (“Hail the victorious dead!”) I like the idea of maybe dueling/challenging enemy commanders. The battle should be much more fast paced, but as it is, it feels like it does not matter if we are there at all. The defenders pretty much take care of things. If feels like we aren’t needed. (I’ve only played Epic Battles in Solo/Duo, but I hear it’s “better” in larger groups?)

    In fact… I was curious to know how much or little it matters that we participate in the defense of HD, so I conducted an little experiment. I launched Helm’s Dike (solo), told Gamling I was ready, and then I stood there doing nothing. Nothing. I got a Bronze medal. Sure, I failed the side quests, but I was rewarded with XP and a Bronze medal at the end of the battle for doing nothing. I’m not bragging here, IMHO that’s a problem with the system that needs to be addressed. Maybe a debuff similar to the skirmish defeat response for not participating would be appropriate?

    WHEW, that was a lot of negative, so here’s something positive: completing the side quests is a great way for a solo player to earn Medallions. I’ve never had so many Medallions before. That’s pretty cool! 🙂

  4. Kaleigh Starshine /

    Some very good points and ideas!

    1. Give Players Importance (I wish I knew how to bold things in responses!)

    It is so odd how things have turned out with the Battles. Rather than our role being a hero in the trenches or the common soldier, as it was implied that we would be, I see our role as ‘Covert Special Ops’ and thus our role in history is known only to a very few, not even the author of the tale!

    I doubt one could earn any better than a Silver medal overall if they were to ignore the side objectives, yet one can very easily earn a Platinum medal overall by ignoring the main battle.

    I do think there should be a better balance between these things for our part, especially considering how, in order to succeed at them, some of the side objectives have to be prepared for from the very start of the wave. (More on this later!)

    2. Change to Positive Scores

    I definitely agree, particularly with regard for the need for ‘perfection’ in what is supposed to be tantamount to absolute chaos. It seems to go against the very nature of the system and the suggested reason for it. How are we supposed to feel as if we are just one amongst many, when the only way to do our best is to allow nothing to be lost, not even a banner, over the entire battle?

    Eliminating the need for perfection would also help alleviate some of the pressure between the imbalance of classes in this context (More on that later!)

    3. Offer a Hard mode

    Though I alluded to it in my review of Helm’s Deep, I never explicitly stated what my biggest issue overall with it was as a whole, that being it largely consisted of measures of exclusion rather than inclusion.

    Rather than allow players that have the skill to tank instances while in their red-lines, and the fact that only some could do so shows that it was due to skill rather than issues with the classes themselves, we are going to force you to be in a tanking line in order to do so.

    Rather than giving you many options for skills, which you may pick and choose as you like them, we are going to make those decisions for you once you choose your specialization.

    And so on…

    When the Overlords introduced the concept of Tiers to instances, I thought it was brilliant, a masterstroke. Here was an inclusive measure, something that gave options and a wider appeal to a facet of our lands. Why they have gone away from it mystifies me.

    Options! Options! Options! Choice! Choice! Choice! 🙂

    There is one caveat, though.

    In order for it to be fair for the harder difficulty to give better rewards and such, it should be doable by all the classes. Due to the nature of the battles, though, I just do not think there is a way to make them ‘challenging’ for certain classes, and not make them ‘impossible’ for others.

    While a hunter can just perch on the shoreline for Defilers in the Water in the Deeping Coomb, picking off defilers as they approach, while shooting down the shamans in-between, and Champions can strike down each wave of the assault on The Statue of Helm Hammerhand at the Dike, by merely using their AoE, we Scouts simply do not have the skillset to accomplish many of the tasks as they stand now.

    When you consider the tools that are useful in the Battles: the ability to AoE, the ability to attack from range, the ability to AoE from range, the ability to heal allies, and even the ability to run more quickly between objectives, even if only for a short while, we Scouts have none of them. I sound like a broken record, I know, but it is to the point where the Vanguard line should actually be given for free to Scouts in the battles, just to give us some options and abilities beyond what is normally available to us.

    I just do not see a way to make the battles more difficult and also maintain challenge and viability across the classes, unless something drastic was done to aid Scouts. Given how much these lands have changed, at this point we almost should be relegated strictly to a PvMP role, and the ‘new class’ that is coming can take our place.

    4. Provide Better Rewards

    Absolutely agreed. I would also like to know more about the possibility of trading in some of the jewelry for different pieces that was mentioned a while back. I have ~25 Platinum pieces I hardly have room to hold onto waiting for the chance to trade them in!

    The battles give no armor, no chance for Star-lit crystals, Crystals of Remembrance, Scrolls of Relic Removal, nor anything at all save for Marks, Medallions, and Jewelry. Once those jewelry pieces have been obtained, there is no real reason currently to continue with them.

    5. Make a Better Tutorial

    I definitely think a better tutorial would help those who are on the fence about trying the Battles. As they stand now, they are so discouraging to newcomers that you pretty much have to decide you are going to stick with them no matter what in order to not have the initial experience turn you away.

    Which ability helps to knock down ladders? Which one helps you disengage grappling hooks. A full-fledged tutorial would help answer questions like these and give the newcomer something to look forward to, I think.

    6. Build More Sizes

    This is absolutely critical. Some friends and I gather every Sunday afternoon to try our hands at the battles. And we end up only being able to battle at Helm’s Dike each and every week, over and over, and the daily lock means we can really only go once. Or we sometimes gather enough to try the Deeping Wall, with 9 or 10, with predictable results 🙂

    Options! Options! Options! Choice! Choice! Choice! 🙂

    7. Fix the Vanguard Line

    At this point, as I mentioned earlier, they are probably better off just giving these bonuses to class(es) that are inherently weaker within the context of the battles. Largely why the Engineering line is the most powerful of the three lines is because it gives the most permanent, lasting benefits: barricades, catapults and such that can always be used. As I understand the Vanguard role, it is enormously more powerful combined with classes that can strike down many at once, and those classes already have great benefit from that ability on its own.

    If anything was to be done with it, I would suggest having it become something classes like Scouts and…well, Scouts for the most part, can use to help shore up some of their shortcomings within the context of the Battles.

    8. Add a Feel of Scale to Epic Battles

    This would be nice! But there is much yet to be done first, I think.

    These are all good points. There are a few others I think need to be done as well.

    1. Solve the Identity Crisis, once and for all (Are Solo/Duo Battles actually Solo or Duo?)

    While the Solo/Duo version of the Epic Battles are supposed to be solo-able, there are certain sidequests that are just about impossible while solo, particularly if you are a Scout or do not have the proper skillset:

    Helm’s Dike
    – Protect the Horses (trying to fight off foes attacking many different horses and a wide area at once)

    Deeping Wall
    – Vandals in the tower (trying to cover the 3 different windows at once)

    Deeping Coomb
    – A Pillage Denied (keeping the foes from destroying supplies and the storehouses, while also taking schematics to the mill)
    – Defilers in the Water (already covered)

    Glittering Caves
    – Spider Assault (keeping the waves of spiders from webbing the crystal while also rushing to free Rohirrim and slay the spiders in the cave)

    The Hornburg
    – The Final Blockade (covering 5 fronts at the same time, to protect the ballistae and walkway fortification)
    – Repair the Portcullis (protecting the workers and the mechanisms while also fetching supplies from across the way)

    Some of these are just not possible unless you can AoE like mad, attack from range, or prepare for them before they are even announced, which seems to go against the spirit of things that crop up during battles such as these. For Protecting the Horses, you pretty much need to be standing there waiting for it to be announced to save the horses behind the stables.

    Some of these need a good going-over. Either make Solo and Duo battles separate, and balance accordingly, or make all the side objectives possible while solo.

    2. Add more side objectives!

    Since these seem to really be the focus of our role in the battles, there needs to be more than just two options per ‘wave’. This would also help with replayability.

    And I am drawing a blank at the moment, and this has gone on too long already. I will post more later if I think of them! 🙂

  5. Southi /

    Okay I have to admit I am a bit confused. I have played captain, champ, guardian, burglar, hunter, warden, rune keeper, lore master and minstrel but I am at a loss about what class a scout is in lotro.

    With that said I will readily admit that some classes have an easier time doing some side missions in the big battles in comparison to other classes but for the most part you should be able to do almost any side mission (although getting plat is hard).

    • Kaleigh Starshine /

      I am so sorry! I always try to include the term Burglar before I switch to Scout, but i must have forgotten. For me, immersion is all important, and so I call myself a Scout, as I have never stolen anything in my life, honest! 🙂

      And, yes, I guess I should have been more clear. We can ‘succeed’ in the side objectives well enough. But, very quickly, Platinum medals become the only goal worth aspiring to, I would say. If you have the Bronze and Silver medals to apply upwards (and most everyone should, I would think), you will have your Gold medal pieces very quickly.

      Let me give two quick examples, comparing Champions and Scouts.

      Helm’s Dike – Powder at the Gate

      So, waves of Uruks and Orc Bombers are coming, threatening to blow up the barricades and gate with their powder kegs.

      They tend to come in two columns. Toward the end of the objective, 5 Bombers approach, 3 down the middle and two near the water.

      As a Champion:

      I position myself between the two columns, with Battle Frenzy active (it can always be active with the cooldown reduction legacy), and I can always Rend for fervour. When the orcs get within range, (a huge range, since Champion’s AoE’s have a wide radius), I can strike all 5 at once with Raging Blade, most likely slaying all of them, or nearly all. I can backup and strike down the rest, hitting them all at once, or I can turn, letting them pass me and strike them all down from behind at once. I need not worry about them getting far ahead because my AoE strikes have a large range.

      As a Scout:

      I have to commit to one side to attack the foes. I lose half of my damage-dealing capability striking at a foe that faces me, so it takes a few strikes to get one down. By then, they are passing me, so I turn to strike down the other one near me from behind. I need to stay very close since my melee attacks have very little range.

      Now the ones in the other column have passed me, and taking a diagonal route to them increases their distance from me. Thankfully, they are slower, so I can finally catch up and hopefully strike them down and extinguish the kegs they set before they go off. It takes probably 5 to 10 times as many attacks to slay them as the Champion, and a great deal more time.

      Deeping Wall – Vandals in the Tower

      So, there are 3 windows that the goblin sappers will come from and try to set powder kegs or lit the supplies on fire.

      As a Champion:

      I stand in front of the central window, with Battle Frenzy on. When the goblins appear, I use Horn of Gondor, stunning all 3 goblins, and then Raging Blades, striking all three goblins at once, likely slaying them all. Any survivors are easily mopped up.

      As a Scout (Burglar):

      I am probably best off starting near the central window, to be closest to each goblin. When they appear, I strike at the central goblin. Because it is facing me, I lose half my damage. It begins to move past, as do the others. I cut it down from behind, but the others have now begun lighting the supplies on fire and raced past to put down a powder keg. I rush about like crazy and put out the fire and the keg. It probably takes 5 to 10 times as many attacks total to get them all down as the Champion.

      It may not seem like much, but having played both classes much of late, there is a difference that is striking, to me at least. My fear is, if things are made more challenging, there is just no way to make things balanced between the classes.

      • Kaleigh Starshine /

        Oh, I forgot to mention in the Vandals in the Tower example:

        Usually one or two of the goblins will try to light the supplies right next to their windows on fire, preparing an induction in order to do so. The Champion’s Horn of Gondor, having stunned all three goblins, also snuffs out those induction, whereas the Scout has to individually target the one preparing an induction in order to Addle it. If two ore more are doing so, Scouts have no hope to stop any additional ones.

        It is these little things, seemingly little but actually rather significant, that when added up make for a great difference, I feel.

      • Kaleigh Starshine /

        …Addle being a separate action from any attack, whereas the Champion’s Horn of Gondor damages all foes, stuns all foes, *and* cancels any induction.

        To put it most simply, Scouts (Burglars) suffer from an extreme case of inefficiency, and the harder things get, the more that inefficiency is cast in the spotlight.

      • Southi /

        Thank you for your detailed explanation of what you were saying Kaleigh. From playing a burg (scout) I understand what you are saying. Many big battle side missions do not play to a burgs strengths and more directly play to their weaknesses. I definitely agree with that statement.

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