[CC] 99 instances – The angmar experience 2/2 – To balrog or not

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Part 2 of the angmar experience is mostly travel across time, “old-school” and (technically not) first Raid instance in lotro.

Both Barad Gularan (BG from now) and The rift of nurz ghashu (the Rift) werent in the game at launch, but most will remember it as they were. Getting to level 50, running Carn dum and Urugarth to gear up took a long while. I don’t remember waiting for the raid itself in an update.
What i do remember was the intensity that came with both instances. BG is really small compared to the others. It has a mix of humans and annuminas armoured spirits. With the Angmarim and said spirits communing to make your life as hard as possible.

History – Weapon damage type
For most mobs you only need to know about physical and tactical damage. Hitting stuff with a wooden or metal object, casting magical attacks or hit them elemental forces. But in some places like Annuminas, Sarnur and Barad gularan mobs have near insurmountable resistances or effects when you strike them.
Each damage type has a few options, these came from the lotr lore and where the weapons came from. You could change them with a weapon title
You had Common damage (third age), ancient dwarf made, beierland and westernesse damage types. On top you could do fire, frost, lightning or light damage. All the mobs had minor differences to mitigations and resistances to these types. The extra damage was usefull, but certain mobs would just reflect your damage to you if you attacked them with the wrong type. Some classes can change their damage types with oils. But most elemental attacks are fixed. Having the correct types verses mobs from annuminas (armoured spirits) was a godsend to the healers.
The mini-nazgul that roam Angmar had the opposite of the annuminas. Not that much of an issue until recently. In the last expansion mordor these guys pack a mean punch. The carguls are a force to be reckoned with for any runekeeper or loremaster.

Even a hobbit on his 34th breakfast can still comfortably unzip his trouser button in here and fit.

A complex fight in an easy complex
After clearing the central hall, confronted with an immense door to the summoning chamber. The key holder is upstairs and you get the choice to go by 1 of the identical stair cases. Why there are 2 beyond a deed still ponders me. Along the way you find curious object to roll on from which you don’t really know what to do with. After earning the key you will find yourself confronted by massive room behind said immense door.

Before you is one of the most complex boss fights to this date. The thing that might come closest is Silent street or Naerband. Half of the group has to perform an extra task within 5 seconds of the boss shouting 1 of 3 possible lines. Remember those items you rolled on? Better hope that they didn’t end up on a melee character or your tank. Each line corresponds to a specific item that you have to use within those 5 seconds on 1 of 3 specific spots. If you don’t make it in time you will

  • 1 kill anyone below 3.000 morale
  • 2 kill anyone below 3000 morale
  • 3 heal the boss for about 1-2 minutes of your dps

And 2 of these options happen every 20 seconds. The rest of the instance is a bit of a cakewalk compared to this boss. It punishes you, it hurts you. But that moment you succeed it’s so glorious. This is what most people consider the “old school” lotro/mmo feeling.

It’s a long arduous journey, almost like a military hazing. The grind is long, the instances are long. The kill is final. The kill is glorious.

What are you doing tonight? And tomorrow?
Speaking of long, I’ve left you waiting for long enough. We’re here to also talk about the most remembered raid in lotro. The rift. The rift, where to start. It’s the first raid a lot of people who started at launch remember. Beside the epic story it was the biggest story in lotro. Everything you did to improve your characters gear was mostly to finish this place.
Times were different, game design was different. To advance, grouping was a must. Lotro came after World of warcraft where the raids were still 40 people. Before that the mmo’s would feature even bigger groups to take down a landscape boss. Lotro was a bit more friendly, but the Rift was 7 bosses that would push you to the max of your character. Each and every bit of advantage you could get in food, hope tokens and gear you could get. You had to get.

So far away it doesnt even fit on the map

Nostalgia avenue through the Rift
Remember having to travel to the instance from earlier? This place was in the most remote place you could find in Middle-earth. If you didn’t need it for crafting or something else you would have your character parked there or you’d hope that you’re kin captain was still there.

Lens flare, still a thing

You’ve entered and made it past the first few mobs, walked past the wooden fench and past the gate into an open cavern. After figuring out which way to go you would fight Bash and .. the relative easy troll bosses with tank and heal, run away from aoe attacks, control and kill adds. The Eldgang giant would give you a long speech and move the circular rock like a cyclops leading his sheep out.

Not all dwarfs are evil

But instead of leaving the cavern you head deeper into Eldgang land. After picking up a few quests, barter some gear you will fight your way through a long-winded tunnel filled with wave after wave of ghashai orcs. Leaving the tunnel to the right and killing the static groups and heading towards boss 3. A different variant      of troll and waves to fight. It’s not the best boss so far. Just a bit more of the same.

Thats not a critter

Looting the chest and getting around the corner you’re greeted with what were little worm pets before, but now are entire groups and their matrons. Fighting the matrons you will also be greeted by what we can assume they let them think is their boss.
Golodir will now accompany you across the lava fields and you have to fellowship maneuver the fumaroles to move forward while fighting waves of mobs and lieutenants. Wait, no that the epic skirmish from Mirkwood. Forget the lieutenants and shrink the volcanos.

The nomination for Evil oscar goes to

The everseer will await you nonetheless. He gives a rowdy speech to one of the Eldgang that is in league with the forces of Angmar.
Reflect heaven is here, so many dps classes meet their maker in this place by attacking the boss and skipping the adds. You know who they are. You will meet the darklings and after killing the shaman and adds the giant will go down.
The 2nd forgetfull part is here with the overseer introduction boss that is as easy and unremarkable that you might have even forgotten them. In a long corridor you find 2 of them. You will be greeted with the other side of the coin area vs boss

A sight you still see

. 1 area that has 2 boss fights back to back.
The Eldgang giant and his 4 waves of shamans

will split your group to function as two seperate fellowships. One fighting and dpsing the boss while the others tank the incoming waves and bring them down. After all the waves are handled everyone moves towards the giant.
The orc leader will now show himself while the fumes of the fumaroles and the heat of the lava will slowly cook you alive. Its time to fight lava with fire and burn the boss down as quickly as possible. Alas his armour will go immune and your poor tank will have to position him next to an active volcano. The little hunters can now kill said volcano to shower the boss with lava and render his armour useless for a while.

Thaurlach, tomorrow ok? Its bedtime

Everyone is dead, the Eldgang seem to agree you’re not bad people and will sell some pretty nice gear towards you. Finish some quests and you’re done. But what is this guy Thaurlach they want you to kill?

To balrog or not
Being a lotr game there are certain things you expect and things you just cant do. Being a super hero and going around killing the balrog that killed Tolkiens super hero Gandalf is on that list. Yet we need a big massive powerful enemy to vanquish in our first raid. Enter Thaurlach, a heavily weakened Balrog that was imprisoned for ages. And now we get the chance to vanquish him. Thaurlach, “the balrog”and other story moments will come along during your journey across Middle earth. But for now we’ll have to settle on this balrog.

The big baddy

Settling might be a bit of an understatement. This fight has about as many phases and objectives as Mordrith in Carn dum or Barad gularan. But instead of 6 people who need to work together you have 12 and a squishy elf.
During the entire fight your party will be split into 3 groups that has to protect the elf and tank while they remove the measures that kept Thaurlach imprisoned. After clearing the corrupted waters on both side you can advance to the 2 sets of puzzles that will lower the final door to the last set of levers. All these levers and waters are protected by nameless worldeaters and forces that slipped through the Rift of Nargashu to get their own little Balrog. The final levers are guarded by the Everseer, the master mind that set up the Eldgang giants against you. If you all complete this, Thaurlach is free to approach and ask for cookies.

He will say no and present you with a big beating. Keeping everyone alive while he bashes everyone around him and the elf is no easy feat. After being poked by tiny stick for long enough he will enrage and hit that much harder. Getting that final 150k damage after fighting the rest of the place for 15 minutes already was a real struggle.

All in all, this was a classic styled raid. Long, hard, full of mobs, bosses galore with a final fight that could fill 3 fellowship instances in itself. Is the Rift the best raid ever made? Would people still run it in the same setting? Battles longer then the raid itself have been fought over that topic. But except for a few places the Angmar experience or instance cluster is still fondly remembered by a vocal group.

A opinnion piece will follow later, but that will touch on things outside of this article series. See you soon for a more modern instance in the next installment of “99 instance’.

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