To Grind or Not to Grind?
As soon as I returned to LOTRO last October I immediately started replacing my level 100 gear with more appropriate items. I finally started using slotted armour and essences, using mainly the gear that dropped from quests along the way. As ever it’s not the best but it’s better than what I had. I never started the Dol Amroth repeatable quests that yield armour sets and as the gear is now only level 100, I’ve decided against that option. As I no longer have the time to regularly run instances, I can’t get a set from the Throne of Dread Terror (T2). Luckily, Turbine (now Standing Stone Games) introduced the Flora Barter system with Update 19: March of the King, which provides an alternative method of obtaining level cap appropriate gear.
So, I spent some time recently gathering the various plants in North Ithilien that yield Phials of Extract; the barter items need for the gear set. However, because I’ve been focused on other in-game tasks I didn’t really consider how long it would take to meet the criteria to obtain the full set of Light Weave Padded Armour for my Lore-master. Today I sat down with a pen and paper and did the math(s). A full set comprises of 6 pieces (no cloak). Each item requires 2 Phials of Sapphire Extract and 4 Phials of Amber. So, in total to purchase this set you need 12 Phials of Sapphire and 24 Phials of Amber. To obtain Phials of Sapphire and Amber Extract you have to combine lesser extracts such as Umber, Verdant and Crimson, which come from picking plants in North Ithilien. Sapphire requires 250 lesser extracts and Amber 125. So, to summarise here is a breakdown of the numbers needed for a full set of armour, be it light, medium or heavy:
250 Phials of Umber, Verdant or Crimson Extract x 12 to yield sufficient Sapphire Extract.
125 Phials of Umber, Verdant or Crimson Extract x 24 to yield sufficient Amber Extract.
In total a player needs to have 6000 of the lesser extracts (Phials of Umber, Verdant or Crimson) to then trade in for the necessary Phials of Sapphire and Amber Extract.
Now I spent approximately 90 minutes today collecting extracts from plants such as Horsetail, Dwarfsbeard and Elfspear (others species are available) and I managed to obtain 200 or so. The plants grow in a level cap zone populated by appropriate mobs and animals. So, you do lose some time in combat while collecting. Furthermore, like ore nodes these Flora are contested and you’ll often find yourself competing with other playes for them. Therefore, when you consider all these factors, I estimate it will take a calendar month to gain sufficient stocks of flora extracts to purchase the set. That’s a calendar month playing every day and investing and hour and a half of your time just collecting. It should be noted that there are now some repeatable quests that award random extracts as a way of trying to shorten this process but it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.
So, after figuring this logistical problem out I now have to decide whether I wish to “grind” for this armour set. It comes down to whether you feel that the time invested justifies the reward, or if it is simply too much work. Furthermore, I’ve been burnt several times in the past by Turbine when pursuing other gear grinds. I finally obtained my First Age Weapon from running Moria instances a week before Siege of Mirkwood came out with a new set of gear and weapons that made mine obsolete. The same happened with all the stuff I earned from Hytbold. No doubt Update 21 which is the Mordor expansion may well see a level cap increase. I want to be able enjoy any level 105 armour I obtain for at least six month before it gets replaced. However, I can at times be quite goal orientated so I may well embark on this project. Ultimately the deciding factor with any MMO is one of time.