Skirmishes are scalable instances that can be joined via a queue system from anywhere in the world. They scale by level, difficulty and group size, so they offer a ton of flexibility.
When you reach level 20, you'll receive a letter urging you to report to the nearest skirmish camp. War has arrived to Middle-earth (at least to Mirkwood) and fresh recruits are needed for the smaller battles (skimishes) nearer to home. Completing this quest and a couple more for the Skirmish Captain will unlock the LOTRO skirmish feature for you. The tutorial is straight-forward, but packed with information, so don't rush. Taking the time to read the dialog and hints now will save you questions later.
Choosing a Role for Your SoldierYour skirmish soldier is an NPC ally you summon to fight at your side. Among the rewards for your final skirmish tutorial quest is your choice of instructions for the six "roles" your soldier can take on. Or, to put it more simply, you choose from six different soldier classes. While you can start over with a new class of soldier if your first choice doesn't work out, it will cost you skirmish marks.
Try to start with one you think will complement both your class and your play style. Remember, you are essentially "duoing" the skirmish with your soldier - think about which player classes you've had the most success with when paired against regular world content. Your choices are:
|Archer - Ranged DPS||As a ranged specialist, you won't want the Archer tanking for you. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with the enemy in your grill and can control the flow of the action, the Archer will heap on lots of single-target hurt, making battles go faster.|
|Bannerguard - Support||As a buffing class, the effectiveness of the Bannerguard is amplified in a group where all players and soldiers receive the buffs. Wearing heavy armor, the Bannerguard has a couple of threat skills and can also perform well as an off-tank.|
|Herbalist - Healer||The Herbalist has no attacks. She heals both morale and power directly and over time. Since this soldier adds no damage to the team, you'll need to decide whether a pocket-healer is the right choice for you. The heals will seem quite small as first but will grow as you rank up her skills.|
|Protector - Tank||The Protector can be an excellent tank, but will require more awareness and management than the typical soldier. The Protector will stand several paces ahead of you in the direction your are facing and intercept foes coming from that direction. There may be situations where you need to move the foe he is tanking (Direct Soldier on to another target). If your playstyle relies on mezzes, you may want to untrait his area-of-effect skill.|
|Sage - Tactical Debuff/DPS||A light armor wearer, the Sage is quite fragile. She does decent ranged damage, but really shines for tactical classes - Lore-masters, Rune-keepers and Minstrels - who will benefit from her Tactical and Penetrate Resistance debuffs for their own skills. Keep in mind you'll have to tank for this soldier.|
|Warrior - Melee DPS/AoE||The Warrior's area-of-effect will draw attention to him if you aren't tanking or otherwise able to manage the threat. Wearing medium armor, he's not as durable as a Protector, but can pair well with a player DPS class in DPS-race style combat or with a healer or tank. If your playstyle relies on mezzes, you may want to pass on the Warrior.|
Managing Your Skirmish Traits
Next, you'll want to slot the Skill, Training and Personal traits you also got when you finished the quest. Think of these as a starter pack matched to your choice of soldier role. You'll be able to add to or change these later, but the defaults will do just fine for now.
Skirmish TrainingTraits for your soldier can be purchased and ranked up at a Skirmish Trainer in exchange for Skirmish Marks. You received some by completing the skirmish tutorial and now is the time to spend them! While you can barter your skirmish marks for shiny things at the skirmish camp - new gear, consumables, housing and cosmetic items - it's generally considered a wise move to invest first in your soldier until the two of you make a solid fighting unit. This will make getting more skirmish marks much easier.
BasicsBefore you start spending your skirmish marks, it's worth taking a minute and understanding the different type of skirmish traits:
- Attribute traits determine the behaviour and appearance of your soldier. You'll need one slot for Role and the others are for cosmetic traits purchased from the Cosmetics vendor in any skirmish camp.
- Skill traits give your soldier new combat abilities.
- Training traits improve your soldier's stats.
- Personal traits improve your own stats, but only while in skirmishes
The Really Important StuffFirst, where you spend your skirmish marks depends on your level vs the level of the trait. If you are starting skirmishes at level 20, when they first become available, your soldier and his skills and stats will be around your level, which is exactly where you want them. As you level, try to keep your skirmish soldier's level on par. If you are a returning player, starting skirmishes at level 60, your soldier's level and skills will be far under your level, which can be a problem when trying to field an effective team.
But there is another mechanic at work here. The cost per attribute rank changes depending on how far above or below your level is when compared to your soldier. This means it can be very expensive to rank up a soldier beyond your level while being quite inexpensive to get him caught up to your level.
Our general recommendation is that you purchase attribute ranks first to get your soldier up to about your level, then add and level skills traits, then training traits and finally personal traits. Once your get a feel for skirmishes, read about all the traits available to your soldier role and customize for your needs. When everything is up to your level, feel free to go shopping with the rest of your marks.
Joining a SkirmishCtrl-J opens the Skirmish Panel, where you can configure and start up a skirmish. This is pretty straight-forward, so just a few notes here:
- In a fellowship or raid, the Leader setups up and starts the skirmish. Members can join from anywhere in Middle-earth by clicking the Skirmish icon in the Alerts Panel. This even applies to members invited after the skirmish was created.
- Adjusting the settings will change the amount of skirmish marks you get from the skirmish. Just remember that defeat in a skirmish carries a skirmish mark penalty, so aim for the sweet spot.
- Skirmishes with a ring in the Skirmish Join panel have a daily quest available, which means more skirmish marks!
- To leave a skirmish before completion, right-click on your portrait and select Leave Instance.
Skirmish Play Mechanics
- In general, skirmishes are either defense, where you defend a location against waves of enemies, or offense where you progress through the instance taking control points. Some players have a preference for one type over the other, so be sure to try both.
- Be sure to heal up and resummon your soldier before flipping a control point in case there is a counterattack.
- Try not to let NPCs defenders die, even if the skirmish doesn't require that you keep them alive. They can give a skirmish mark bonus at the end of skirmish.
- Some Lieutenants have special effects that can really ruin your day. Take a second to read their buffs before they get to you, so you know what you are up against. Or hover on the buff icon and press "h" to create a detached tooltip you can read after the fight.
- Optional encounters reward extra skirmish marks and sometimes a flag or emblem that you can throw at the feet of a difficult foe for a temporary buff. If you are doing a Defense style skirmish, you'll need to kill the encounters before the skirmish ends or they disappear. Be careful, though. It's easy for a defender to get overwhelmed while you are off fighting an encounter.
The Spoils of SkirmishIn addition is skirmish marks, some defeated foes will drop Bounties. Sell these - they are the chief source of coin from skirmishes.
You'll also notice various kinds of skirmish marks in your bags. "Skirmish Marks" are rewarded for achieving specific goals within a skirmish and for completing some skirmish related deeds. These are the main currency of all things skirmish. The skirmish camp barter vendors will trade gear and other goodies for these.
In addition, you'll get special marks for your efforts.
- Rank Marks, such as Footmen's Mark or Veteran Guardsman's Mark are not used in barter and can be exchanged for regular skirmish marks.
- Campaign Marks drop in specific skirmishes, usually from optional encounters. The tooltip will tell you which ones.
- Challenge Marks, such as First Mark or Veteran's Third Mark can be looted in skirmishes of the right level and group size and are used to barter for the most exclusive rewards. Again, see the tool tip for more information.