Greater Barrows owns us, hard.

Last night Aria and I made our first trip into the Greater Barrows instance in LoTRO. Our group featured all kin members save for the tank.

Here is our fellowship:

Level 25 and 21 burglars

Level 20 guardian (the pug)

Level 17 hunter

Level 20 Minstrel (Aria)

Level 20 Captain (me)

The instance features mobs in the 20-24 level range, so while we were certainly not over-leveled, I’m not sure we were all that under-leveled either. We had plenty of healing, a tank, good crowd control, and dps with the ability to start fellowship maneuvers. Only thing we really lacked was AoE DPS, but that was not an issue.

What was an issue, and what ultimately lead to us calling it an early night, was our pug tank. Having played a tank for ages in both WoW and previously in LoTRO, I guess I always took the roll for granted, not truly realizing how make-or-break a tank is to a group. Our unfortunate tank could not hold agro, broke mez, and failed to pull mobs off our healer, which resulted in plenty of deaths and frustration for Aria. The pulls in GB generally consist of 3-4 elite mobs, with the possibility of some non-elite adds. We had plenty of crowd control, as both burglars were able to mez and Aria had an undead stun, meaning we SHOULD have been generally fighting one mob at a time. Unfortunately on almost every pull, we had 1-2 mobs loose and quickly charging our healer, which in turn lead Aria to get very frustrated as this was her first real experience as a healer for a full group. Note to self: don’t bring a new healer into a tough instance with a sub-par tank. Lesson learned I guess.

We got maybe 8-9 pulls into the instance before we called it quits, as we had either a full wipe or a few deaths on almost every pull, and everyone’s frustration was mounting. Sadly no quests were completed, although Aria and I did pick up a few chalices.

On a good note, we dropped our tank and with our kin members completed the final step of book 1, which is of course a much shorter and easier version of the Greater Barrows instance. Hey, we got the final boss, just not the way we had originally intended. Tom Bombadil > Pug tank…

13 Responses to Greater Barrows owns us, hard.

  1. Remastered says:

    I must have forgotten to tell you I rolled a Guardian in LoTRO…

  2. Talyn says:

    She should also be able to fight too; she doesn’t have to just stand in the back like a WoW Holy Priest… but yeah, tanking is work, and simply creating a guardian does not a “tank” make.

  3. syncaine says:

    I wish you and co. rolled LoTRO characters. It would be a good time.

    I agree Talyn, Minstrels certainly can put out some good dps. When it’s just Aria and I, she does a great job. I think just being a healer for the first time and watching 5 other people was a lot for her. During one fight she herself died because she was so busy watching everyone else, she forgot her own health. She will get better no doubt, just needs a bit more practice.

  4. p@tsh@t says:

    When our regular WoW groups was on hiatus, 4 of us moved to LotRO determined to see how far we could get just as a foursome as we all hate pugs (though to be fair, that’s born of WoW experience, not LotRO). We were a bit more levelled that your group but had a fairly similar series of experiences. GB is long and tough and its really the first big dungeon crawl you run into, so its no wonder pug experience at that level might be thin.

    A good tank is worth their weight in unobtainium.

    And speaking from experience, learning to heal a full group on an dungeon crawl for a relatively inexperienced healer is extremely stressful! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the verge of dying or actually died because I was so intent on watching everyone else’s health bars. It takes practice and IMHO developing a strong trusting relationship with your tank since your are both so entirely dependent on each other. Thats tough when both might be learning. It does get better and its very satisfying when you bring your group through the fire.

  5. Talyn says:

    I have to agree with potshot (someday he needs to give a class on which ASCII characters he uses) about trust and getting a synergy with your tank.

    Back in my WoW days tanking, I had the benefit of mostly being in (nearly) guild-only dungeon runs for the purpose of building my tanking skills. Our priest had already learned to do her thing very, very well with my friend (her bf) who was a protection warrior. He’d go with us but make me main tank and talk to me while she did her thing keeping me going. Luckily my friend and I both have the same attitude on healing: our role is to take damage, so let us take it! We don’t need to have our health topped off at all times, just relax so you don’t get aggro yourself. To this day, in other games I get highly annoyed if I’m playing a tank class and the healers keep spamming to keep me topped off. They’re just making me work more to keep aggro. But that’s something you need to spend time doing if both the tank and the healer are new.

    When I play healing classes, I certainly run into the types who get pissed when I actually allow them to take damage and want me to continue spamming heals all the time. Different strokes for different folks, but taking the opposing stance here: we can discuss our preferences, but don’t you *dare* tell me how to play, or you’ll quickly find yourself without any heals at all. Consider it “tough love.” Or not. HA!

    For PUG or any other group type where you’re in there with strangers (early raiding comes to mind) having a discussion between the two on their healing preferences might keep tempers from boiling over.

  6. Loredena says:

    There’s something about that dungeon at those levels, and the guardian skills at 20 that make it rough. I played a main tank in EQ for 6 years, and I’ve been playing one for 2 years in EQ2. I’m a good tank. Yet, I found tanking in LotRO in general, and the Great Barrows in particular, an exercise in frustration. Very few options for grabbing aggro, and one of them was an aoe….. Of course, this was a year ago, and I assume by now that they’ve tweaked skill sets.

  7. Thallian says:

    When we started my brother rolled a tank just to make sure we always had one and I rolled a minstrel. That way we could play things even if we had to pug it. Cuz pug tanks and healers = bad news frequently and they are hard to find (even the bad ones are hard to find) @Loredena, tanks later get an AOE taunt as well as a lot of moves to maintain agro. The only thing I’ve seen that gives them problems in the Rift is too many heartseekers or a boss being scripted to drop agro which a few of the Rift bosses do. @syncaine, hope your next GB run goes better. I like GB but I’ve had my fair share of bad runs in there. :) The end boss drops nice tank loot ironically.

  8. Aria says:

    Very helpful comments for a new healer-thanks guys!!! Talyn, your comments were particularly helpful. I was never sure about the topping off thing….I kept trying to make sure everyone was at like, max health, because I was so afraid to let them get low and not get a heal off in time! It’s very scary being responsible for other people’s health. It’s good to know that you actually expect to let your health run low…I was worried people would be pissed if I let that happen. It was definately a stressful run…and I do not cope well with dying (Mike says I would have quit raiding within a day : ) so I was amply frustrated within a few minutes. But luckily it looks like we are in a patient guild who understands I am learning….. and I hope to improve in the near future.

  9. Khan says:

    From playing a tank in WoW and LotRO – I agree that tanking in LotRO is a lot different and is a lot trickier than people realize. At 20, you have two aggro moves (harassing blow and the shield bonk one). You don’t have a taunt yet or really enough aggro tools. It’s tough. Combine that with the levels involved and it can spell real problems with harassing blows getting resisted, etc.

    I’ve played a healadin in WoW and a minstrell to fourteen in LotRO. My general healing policy in groups, in both cases, was to go easy with the healing as long as people were over half-health. Even then, it would depend on the amount of damage taken. A tank at half health that was being beat on would get priority over someone that just caught an AOE at a bad time and was otherwise not in danger. It’s also worth noting that your group heal in LotRO is a BIG TIME aggro generator. Any mob in combat that isn’t glued to the main tank (and a few that are) will bee-line the minstrel. Be very careful using it. As a little trick, I’d use the group heal BEFORE we got into combat so people would get the buff – helps cut down on the damage taken for a bit so I can go easy on the heals at the beginning of the fight.

    Happy smushing!

  10. Talyn says:

    I don’t recall if Syncaine said LOTRO was Aria’s first MMO but since he’s obviously more experienced, I’d highly suggest letting her (and you) experiment while duoing rather than just burning through the quests for xp (if you have been?). The two of you need to find a synergy that works between the two of you as players first and foremost, secondly between the characters and their respective classes. Let her cast her buffs and spells and let her see the consequences of her decisions and their timing. In turn, that will give you insight to what will happen when you see she’s casting Spell X so if you need to do an Aggro Boost Y move, you’ll know it’s coming.

    Khan gave a great tip there about casting the group heal prior to combat so now everyone has a healing buff from the start, making his job easier during the actual combat, but avoids the “KILL THAT HEALER!” aggro spike from the mobs. Let her learn her own little tricks like that.

    It’s all basic “learn group dynamics” stuff, but for all the “waaah waaah LOTRO is a WoW clone” comments out there, they only come from people who don’t actually play it. The classes, skills, and group dynamics really are different.

  11. syncaine says:

    It’s her 2nd, she plays a mage in WoW with a bit of Kara raiding, although that is with my former raiding guild, so we are all basically raiding pro’s in that (not boasting, just saying, we know the mechanics in and out of that game, so stuff like Kara is fairly easy)

    I think with LoTRO a Minstrel is a little tough because they have so many buffs that you can’t cast pre-combat, and you can’t cast them all at the same time, so it’s a lot of in-combat adjustment. At least it seems like that to me anyway, never actually played a minstrel myself. Going to look around for a guide though, just to know what to expect and to have her glance over it.

  12. Khan says:

    I haven’t played my minstrel in a while but I do recall that getting into the swing of applying my buffs / debuffs and watching health bars and occasionally fighting took some getting used to. The tier 3 buffs (the + damage one and – fear ones) also get aggro – not as bad as the group heal, but mobs not stuck on someone else will come running. Sometimes, I’d resist the urge of applying them if the fight was just getting started in an effort to make sure mobs stayed on the tank.

    It will get easier as you progress. You’ll figure out the little tricks and things to do / not to do. Minstrel, at least as far as I’ve played it, is a fun class.

  13. adamm says:

    I tanked (only Guardian in group) Great Barrows a few weeks ago. We had a group very similar to yours, but I was level 21, I think, at the time. It was the first time I had ever seen the instance in my life, and only a few of the group had ever been there before. Regardless, with only one burglar and our inexperience, we made it through one of the lesser bosses without a single wipe, in a large part due to me (and we killed the second boss after a few wipes because of broken aggro). I’m not bragging, because it really isn’t that difficult to figure out what’s going on and act/react accordingly. You just have to be on your toes and not get lazy.

    Problem is in my experience most people in MMORPGs have little to no idea what they’re doing. The game hand-holds them through the soloing and then dumps them into a group situation without insulting their intelligence by telling them exactly what they need to be doing and how. You’re expected to have some modicum of awareness to figure things out, but most people simply don’t. They don’t seem to be able to make the adjustment between group play and solo play smoothly. And then they get into the end-game and suddenly they’re making the adjustment to large-group play, which is again very different from small-group play.

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