Monday, January 30, 2012

Game Review - War in the North


Game Review - Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Score +12/-12

Overview
Lord of the Rings: War in the North is a tactical first-person "shooter" where you play one of three heroes. The story is set during the War of the Rings in J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy. It tells a very different version of the "War in the North", a commando-action story of war thwarted than the desperate battles in the strategy game Battle for Middle Earth II. It was meant for online cooperative play, but there is a good enough single player campaign.
+ The artwork for the landscape and maps is very nice, and very closely follows the visualization in the Peter Jackson (director) Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy.
+ The character gear, especially the outfits, are very varied, highly-detailed (down to patterns, and even the weave of fabrics), and in theme with the overall art direction.
+ Character faces and expressions (and character movement) are quite well done with motion capture. Movement animations are fluid and natural.
+- Many movie-quality cutscenes with good dramatic elements and mythos-appropriate dialogue. Also, these are dynamically run using the in-game characters so that they wear what they have been equipped with. However, some of this was sloppily done as weapons blanked out for conversations still show elemental FX (such as flaming weapons) and sometimes weapons are replaced by stock weapons (e.g., Eradan sometimes has a two-handed sword even if you had equipped him with a pair of axes). These should have been ironed out in QA.
+- Overall good use of system resources with maps that have the illusion of a wider world but have actually limited movement range. However, later game maps start to have too many long stretches which can cause stuttering as the system loads objects and textures (especially in the sewers in the final game area -- should never have been shipped like this, as mid-range machines which could run the game passably might find it impossible in just that area).
- Many terrain features look passable but are not. Some can be dodged past but not walked over. Some map stages employ short drops to a new area which conceptually should be easily traversable but you cannot go back. This not only breaks immersion but can be confusing during gameplay. Also, lots of areas on the world map, as well as some that can be revealed by finding map scraps -- but you can't go to them, so what's the point?
+ The skill system narrows down the interface to just 4 buttons for powers by having modal powers (e.g., usable only when blocking) or having skills that enhance existing skills. This eases skill use (but also reduces the breadth of skills).
+ All three characters have three classes of skills which let them play very differently. Overall, there are approximately 9 character play styles.
+ Starting around late middle game, there are more situations where proficiency in both melee and ranged combat become useful, so that whatever style of character you build, you will see good use from their skills. The final boss fights also feature this.
+ You are not stuck in a strictly linear do-or-die game. If you need help with the difficulty, you can shift down a difficulty level, replay a level (with reduced enemies), or try a challenge map to get more XP (experience points, which gets you levels and more competency). In this way, you can level up and get some gear before continuing the campaign.
+ You can overhaul your character. This is important in any point-based stat and skill system where you really don't have any guidance about how to put your points and can easily "make a mistake".
+ Enemy appearance is paced out so that they try to give you at least a slightly different experience with each enemy even if some of them share the same tactics.
+- AI control and equipment management is simple because it is all automated. However, gross AI cheating (e.g., skills gained far earlier than possible for the player) is annoying. And if you give something to the AI, it is gone forever and you cannot access the item if you switch to playing that character. Also annoying is that you can't give them potions, especially when they are in trouble and need one. The engine can tell the AI character to call for help, but you can't just toss them a potion or increase their supply. Something that could instead have been done is to have a group equipment pool where the player's current character can see who has equipped what, and can have priority over equipment. The AI then chooses equipment from the rest.
- Needs more playtesting with difficulty levels. The first boss encounter was the toughest because of how it was set up. The rest were comparative cakewalks afterwards. Some encounters involve getting swarmed and can be harder than boss encounters.
- Replayability is low. Each difficulty tier is basically the same game and the same gear, but with jacked up numbers. There's nothing new to see or do. By the time you finish the game on Normal Difficulty, you are probably a bit over level 20 and have a strong skill set that can't be further enhanced.
- A lot of gear but you switch quickly to just a few new ones you find in stores. On the up side, this keeps the game experience quite fresh. On the down side, quest rewards of gear and looking for secrets just to find more treasure, are a waste of time.
- Way too much loot and too easy to get more. This glut makes money meaningless. Even overhauling your character ("respec"), which costs 16,000 gold, is trivially easy to do.
- Needs some sort of character storage.
- Quests generally give useless rewards: Equipment becomes quickly obsolete, and you can farm for gold or XP anytime you want. A more useful reward would be a perk or skill point -- something lasting. But since the skill tree is so small, that is useless too. A perk would be nicer, like learning something that grants a +0.1 damage multiplier against orcs or while in Mirkwood; or a technique that gives a slight power regeneration bonus.
- Character progression by XP too severely favours melee, where you can get large XP multipliers.
- You cannot find some secrets with the incorrect character. Sometimes this requires multiple play-throughs of a map to use the appropriate character when you can't switch characters yet. At least one quest objective requires the location of a secret by a particular character. This is not appropriate for Single Player. They could just have allowed, in SP, everyone to find all the different character-specific secrets since all three characters are right there.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

War in the North - Carn Dûm


Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Carn Dûm
This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

  • Prior to leaving for Carn Dûm, finish all your side quests and lighten your inventory of any junk. Once you reach Carn Dûm, there is no Town Portal to bring you back.
  • Sewers:
    • Who was the idiot who designed this level? There are way too many objects here. Lowering your screen resolution and the graphics settings probably won't help much because it is the calculations and object loading that is taking up time.
    • When walking around, try to angle your view toward the ground. This reduces the number of objects that are in the field of vision that must be loaded and calculated to see whether they need to be rendered or not.
    • Kill all prisoners you encounter before using the lever. Remember to go back to the cell that had the golden chest after using the lever.
  • The rest of the map is straightforward and with a lot of crates to keep your ammo resupplied. This map, more than any other, has a mix of melee and ranged combat.
  • Agandaûr first encounter: Basically just chase him around and hit him. He summons a troll. Nothing special here as there is just one troll. Afterwards he has unending minions. Ignore the minions, concentrate on him.
  • Agandaûr second encounter: Same as before, but when he flies, shoot him. You probably won't even have to call in Beleram for this one.

War in the North - Urgost, Nordinbad Siege


Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Urgost, Nordinbad Siege
This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

Urgost's Lair / The Gray Mountains
  • Town Portal (near fortress ruins entrance): Item Sets in Store:
    • Chest: Bowmaster
    • Leggings: Adamant
    • Boots: Warlord
  • Human Dual Wielders here will attack blindly if you enter Evasion right in front of them. This WILL hit you. You must move aside.
  • Some enemies here have an attack animation they will not abort if you enter Evasion. For example, uruk-hai shield bearers will bash their shields with their swords right before they charge, and they will not abort even if you enter Evasion (but they won't adjust their trajectory).
  • Carn Dûm Captain:
    • Same as Wulfrun, but with allies. Kill the allies first (except the orc archers, who tend to have lousy aim if you don't stand still). They come in waves but not so quickly as to be continuous as in the Fornost / Tharzog fight.
    • You cannot dodge through his fire barrier but you can run around it.
    • If he starts swinging his weapon wildly, this is an area-effect attack that can hit all around. Back off and attack at range.
    • His energy bolts are stopped by Andriel's Sanctuary. Enter it and call your allies into it. Otherwise, they will shoot at him at range and slowly walk (out of Sanctuary) as they do so.
  • If you talked to various people in Rivendell prior to going to Urgost, you will know that Bilbo once confronted Smaug the dragon. Bilbo's advice about flattery is a good one as it nets you treasure from Urgost, which can include a rare Fell-Hunter set piece.
  • Backup your game after defeating the Captain and before going to Nordinbad. This is important for the Nordinbad Siege.
    Nordinbad Siege
    • You do not have to go directly to Nordinbad after talking to Urgost. Make a backup save of your game prior to the siege (see our General Help post on how to do this). The siege is done in various stages and auto-saved after each stage. If you do badly in one stage, it is possible that you won't be able to get past the next stage. In that case, if you don't have a save game to roll back to, you will have to either keep trying your luck or restart the game.
    • Siege:
      • Stage 1: Attack - Enemies start right on the platform. Kill them all.
      • Stage 2: Siege Towers
        • You will need to move back and forth between the ballistas since the arc of coverage isn't enough. Each ballista, however, can aim quite close to the side to cover the nearest staircase, so if your allies are defending there, you can help them.
        • As a siege tower approaches, you can fire at the door. The splash damage will score some hits on units behind even before they unload. Hit the big units first, then support your allies against the smaller ones.
      • Stage 3: Sappers
        • Your allies do quite well but won't be enough. If your aim isn't very good, you can lose quite a lot of health of the door you have to defend, which means you won't have a lot of leeway in the next stage. And if you don't have a save game handy to restore, you could be stuck in a hopeless situation afterwards.
        • If you really can't shoot them down well enough, try standing either at the top of one staircase or nearer the door, and just roll into or rush the sappers (to make them detonate at you) and drink a lot of potions. They typically come down the wall to the ground then rush the door.
      • Stage 4: Trolls
        • The trolls beeline for the door unless they are attacked, in which case they will stop to fight. Delay them by switching from one troll to the next and in this way keep them busy and away from the door.
        • In the worst case, they will stand in front of the door and attack it. If you have enough health left on the door, you can kill them there before they break through.
      • Stage 5: Commander
        • Pretty straightforward. Kill the minions first.
    • Galar's store changes after the siege. Item Sets in Store:
      • Chest: Defender
      • Gloves: Battlement, Stronghold
      • Boots: Warlord
    • Finish your quests before you head to Carn Dum because there won't be a Town Portal to bring you back. After Carn Dum, the game ends and you are restarted in Bree at one difficulty level higher when you reload.

    War in the North - Nordinbad, Mirkwood


    Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Nordinbad, Mirkwood
    This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

    Nordinbad
    • Galar: Item Sets in Store:
      • Helmet: Adamant, Battlement
      • Shoulders: Alliance
      • Chest: War-Wise
      • Gloves: Adamant
      • Leggings: Stronghold
    • Galar also sells the Glede unique axe. Dual-wielding this is of particular significance to Eradan. See our notes on Eradan and Dual-Wielding.
      Mirkwood
      • Wulfrun
        • Rush him and dodge through his flames to get him to move out of his position and stop his bombardment. Andriel's Sanctuary can block the bolts, but she doesn't always throw that up, and he fires his bolts quite rapidly.
        • Basically this fight involves chasing him around. You will do it again later in the Gray Mountains with someone who looks awfully similar.
      • Orc Ambush
        • You are forewarned that you are walking into an ambush when you approach the empty camp, so keep that in mind.
        • When you kill one archer, orcs charge your position. Immediately retreat (run and call your allies to you with "Z") to draw them out a few at a time and to be away from the archers.
      • Looks for the Elf prisoner. If you free him, you can get a reward later.
      • Spiders
        • Stay close to your allies to make sure no one gets too swarmed.
        • If you are killing the small spiders before you can get a critical strike on them, attack the big ones first to get a critical strike and hero mode before wading through the small spiders.
      • Heart of the Web Town Portal: Item Sets in Store:
        • Leggings: Alliance
        • Boots: War-Wise
      • If you go back to Nordinbad from the Heart of the Web, you may find an area transition in Nordinbad that sends you to the cutscene/dialogue where you talk to the king. You already did this when you first came to Nordinbad from Gundabad. This oversight/bug appears only once and appears to be harmless.
        • Spider Queen:
          • If she is not chasing you, it is probably safest to kill her minions and then hit her at range until she grapples with an ally.
          • If you are using one-handed weapons, she is very hard to score a hit. You must more or less aim at her centre, the area between her head and her belly/tail. You can dodge INTO her and stand "inside" her and attack her that way.
          • Like Ettenmoor trolls, she can grapple an ally, which is great because you can rush in and score a lot of hits while she's busy that way.
          • If you stand too close behind her or underneath her belly, she has a funny attack in which she basically bounces her belly repeatedly to squash you.

        War in the North - Rivendell, Mount Gundabad


        Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Rivendell, Mount Gundabad
        This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

        Rivendell
        • When you have completed the Ettenmoors, the store inventory permanently changes. Item Sets in Store:
          • Helmet: Warlord, Alliance
          • Shoulders: Alliance, Fell-Hunter
          • Gloves: Battle-Master
          • Leggings: War-Wise, Stronghold
          • Boots: Alliance
        Mount Gundabad
        • At the first area transition to the wide ledge, there are two trolls and several orcs in the distance. Before you click the area transition, you can shoot at the trolls when they come closer to try to draw one troll at a time. If you pass the area transition, you tend to draw both trolls plus all orcs. Farin says "back to back, don't let them get behind" but this is generally impossible to do especially since standing still means you'll get pasted by a troll..
        • There are some big bare-chested orcs with big sledgehammers. Once you score a critical hit on them, for several seconds they are completely vulnerable because they just stand still and roar -- this animation lasts much longer than the actual stun duration from a critical strike/brutal hit.
        • There is a cutscene of several large orcs advancing on your position. They will actually stand still after the cutscene. You can draw them out one at a time by shooting the one furthest in front, then retreating your party.
        • The first cave you come to has the Mithril needed for Arwen's quest, but you need Farin to access the hidden chamber to get it.
        • Town Portal 1: (before bridge to ice troll cave): Item Sets in Store:
          • Chest: Adamant, War-Wise
          • Gloves: War-Wise
          • Leggings: Bright-Flame
          • Boots: Stalker
        • Bridge:
          • If you cannot pass the area transition, there may be an orc on the bridge beyond. There is a drop that it cannot climb over (and neither can you, once you pass it) so you need to shoot any orcs there until the area transition is active.
        • Snow Troll Cave:
          • There are two in the cave and they slowly come to your position. Two ways to handle this:
            • Shoot the first one repeatedly till you set it up for a critical strike, then rush in and hit it with a heavy attack (which will stagger it). Use powers to quickly kill it before the second reaches your position.
            • If you end up having to handle both, draw one or both from your companions by dodging past them into the cave then attacking them until they turn and follow you.
        • Town Portal 2
          • Helmet: Marksman
          • Shoulders: Alliance
          • Chest: Battle-Master, Bright-Flame
          • Gloves: Battle-Master
          • Boots: Bright-Flame, Marksman
        • Once inside Gundabad, watch out for some long corridors with drops (so you can't walk back)
          • Sometimes one or both companions will rush ahead to engage enemies and if you follow, you can't go back to open chests or crates you left behind.
          • Sometimes you can go ahead, but one or both companions won't follow and will stay on the ledge, leaving you alone in combat.
        • After Gundabad, you can return to Bree and Sarn Ford for new dialogue, but no new quests.

        War in the North - Rivendell, Ettenmoors


        Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Rivendell, Ettenmoors
        This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

        Rivendell
        • Item Sets in Store:
          • Helmet: Alliance, Warlord
          • Gloves: Battle-Master, Bright-Flame
          • Leggings: Adamant, War-Wise
        • Some of the best weapons appear at this time. Reload the store a few times to find them. Look for Thunderbolt, which has x1.4 bonus damage against trolls; and for one-handed Elf Smith Swords (138 damage, x1.4 versus orcs).
        • Before you finish the Ettenmoors, make sure you have bought everything you want here, because the store will change once you return from defeating Bargrisar in the Ettenmoors.
        • Angmir has a quest you must trigger by asking him what he is working on. After you finish the Ettenmoors, Bilbo has a new quest. Everyone else has more or less straightforward quests.
        Ettenmoors
        • Starting here there are two types of dangerous warrior orcs: Dual wielders and shield-bearers.
          • Against the dual-wielders, you MUST block or you will continually be unbalanced by the dual-wielders. Each time you block, they are briefly staggered and you can counterattack, dodge, or move.
          • Both types are better engaged by waiting for them to attack a companion, then hit them unopposed from behind till you can critical-hit.
        • High Moors Town Portal:
          • From here, you can keep re-doing the area -- including collecting quest gems.
          • Item Sets in Store:
            • Helmet: Stalker
            • Shoulders: Stronghold, Dragon-Fire
            • Leggings: Alliance
            • Boots: Adamant
        • After the High Moors Town Portal, you go through two long caves/tunnels. The second ends in a fork where there is a secret for Andriel, a left turn into a troll lair, and a right turn to the exit (to Stone Chasm). The troll lair is optional, but if you clear it, you can reach a golden chest that typically has a unique weapon.
        • Stone Chasm Town Portal: Item Sets in Store:
          • Helmet: Stalker
          • Shoulders: Dragon-Fire
          • Leggings: Alliance, Stalker
          • Boots: Adamant
        • Bargrisar:
          • The fight with Bargrisar proceeds in stages, but you might not be able to reach every stage.
            • Initially you have to attack his legs. Farin's Abundant Harm skill allows him to actually hit both legs at the same time. Once you land a Critical Strike on a leg, he drops and you attack his arms. Try to focus on one leg to set it up for a Critical Strike.
            • Next you attack either arm until you can land a Critical Strike. If you fail to do that, he gets up and you start with the legs all over again. You are still hurting him, but more slowly.
            • If you can land a Critical Strike on his arms, he bends down further and you can now attack his head and without fear of counterattack. From here, if you can keep it up, you can just whittle him down to zero health and he is defeated.
          • Be sure to collect any treasure here before clicking to Proceed after killing Bargrisar because the cutscene and conversation will end in you being transported to Rivendell.

        War in the North - Sarn Ford, Barrow-Downs


        Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Sarn Ford, Barrow-Downs
        This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

        Sarn Ford
        • Item Sets in Store:
          • Helmet: Bowmaster, Wanderer's Cap
          • Shoulders: Dragon-Fire
          • Chest: Adamant
          • Gloves: Marksman
          • Leggings: Bowmaster
        Barrow-Downs
        • The Barrow-Downs is two long hikes before any Town Portal. Because of the wide spaces, you can typically spot enemies from afar and might end up doing a lot of shooting, especially at Barrow-Wights. Try not to loot the small burial mounds (the stone piles) or any crates unless you are looking for ammo, since any ammo found after you are at capacity disappears. If you are at capacity, manually drop a stack of ammo (select "Give", then "Drop") so you can pick it up later.
        • Barrow-Wights: Andriel's Sanctuary can block the stones it hurls. Optionally, duck behind some sort of pillar (especially in the Tomb of Amon Gorthad). Kill the zombies it raises to free your allies to shoot, as they have unlimited ammo.
        • Sons of Cardolan Tombs:
          • The first two tombs are in a large field just after the first trolls and a narrow passage. On your left you will encounter the Second Tomb before you encounter the First Tomb on your right. If you clear the Second Tomb and Third Tomb first and/or leave the map and return via the Town Portal, you may not be able to enter the First Tomb. The farthest you can go is the glowing barrier that tells you to gather your party, but it won't change to "[E] Proceed".
        • Town Portal 1: Item Sets in Store: (Unless you happen to find Alliance boots as loot, this is the earliest you can complete the Alliance set)
          • Helmet: Adamant, Defender, Warlord
          • Shoulders: Warlord
          • Leggings: Bright Flame, War-Wise, Warlord
          • Boots: Alliance, Stronghold
        • Town Portal 2 (inside the Tomb of Amon Gorthad): Item Sets in Store:
          • Helmet: Stalker
          • Chest: Marksman
          • Gloves: Stalker - can complete set
          • Leggings: Alliance
          • Boots: Bright Flame, Dragon-Fire, Stronghold
        • Luin: Follow him closely until you reach and clear the dead on the ramp up to the door to the final chamber. If you do not, or if you reload your game, he lays on the ground and will not follow to the next area.
        • Final boss Barrow-Wight:
          • This fight cycles in three stages: Zombie minions, Kilaren, Energy Pulses.
          • Kilaren can attack with Sweeping Attack and Crushing Wave, but is generally easily defeated. Because Luin is very aggressive, you can typically let him engage Kilaren while you stand off and shoot until Kilaren is vulnerable to a Critical Strike.
          • When the Barrow-Wight calls back Luin, retreat your party close behind a pillar. This will shield them from the green energy waves which cannot be dodged.

        War in the North - Bree, Fornost


        Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Bree, Fornost
        This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

        Bree
        • Before you leave for Fornost, you can talk to the Southerner and complete that miniquest for +50 XP. Each time you save and then reload, as long as you haven't yet left for Fornost, the Southerner will be there and you can repeat for +50 XP.
        • Otto Aster's quest to arm the town is complete when you have sold him any 10 pieces of gear (not just weapons).
        • If you are aiming for dual wielding with Eradan, buy two one-handed weapons before you leave Bree because there is a reasonable chance you WON'T pick up any one-handed weapons, or just one of them, before the first Town Portal.
        • Item Sets in Store:
          • Shoulders: Marksman, Warlord
          • Leggings: Alliance
          • Boots: Marksman, Stronghold
        Fornost
        • Main Gate
        • Battlements
          • You do not have to free the eagle until the goblin assault is over. You can do so earlier, if you like, but the eagle doesn't stick around to help.
          • When you approach the town portal, the game saves. This is one of the few area with a town portal that you cannot repeatedly re-do.
          • Item Sets in Store:
            • Helmet: Bright-Flame, Sunrise, War-Wise
            • Shoulders: Battle Master, Sunrise
            • Chest: Stalker
            • Gloves: Fortune
            • Leggings: Alliance, Warlord
            • Boots: Marksman
        • Outer Wards
          • Item Sets in Store:
            • Helmet: Alliance
            • Shoulders: Alliance
            • Chest: Stronghold, Sunrise
            • Gloves: Alliance, War-Wise
            • Leggings: Bright-Flame, Stalker
            • Boots: War-Forge
          • You do not need to call the eagle whenever your allies say so. At the wooden gate, just shoot the archers. Eventually the eagle will show up to destroy the gate.
          • To handle the ballista without the eagle, retreat your party back toward the wooden gate after the cutscene. Wait for goblins to approach your position and deal with them, then retreat around the corner again, thus putting you out of the line of fire of the ballista. When your allies say something about archers on the high ground, you can charge in. Most of the goblins that were defending the ballista will have been drawn away, so you can now just dodge your way to the ballista, kill the goblin artillerist, and use the ballista against the archers on the walls.
          • Troll: If you are using a one-handed weapon, you have to get in close, preferably the front or the rear. From the side, you might not have enough reach to score a hit even if it looks like you hit it from the animation.
        • Inner Wards
          • Item Sets in Store:
            • Helmet: Marksman, Stronghold
            • Shoulders: Warlord
            • Chest: Sunrise
            • Gloves: Alliance?, Bright-Flame, Marksman, Warlord
            • Leggings: Adamant?, Bowmaster, War-Wise
            • Boots: Battlement, War-Wise
          • First Ballista: One of the elf twins will announce a "mounted crossbow". Stop. Stand behind the wall section that is just before the passage. There is a window/cutout in that wall that lets you shoot over it and at the goblin artillerist. The ballista will fire too low and hit the wall, which shields you unless you are too close to the wall. Take out the artillerist, then advance down the passage.
          • Goblin Sappers:
            • Your allies can shoot these down faster and more accurately except at the bridge gauntlet later.
            • If any get close, you can dodge past them before they jump you and detonate. In this way, you trigger their detonation, but because you are dodging, you are safe from damage.
              • Does not work with Evasion active since they won't detonate because they can't detect you.
          • Second Ballista
            • Shoot the archers near the sorcerer and retreat back into the first goblin sapper area to heal and wait for goblins. Once all is clear, advance and dodge your way up to the upper balcony to melee the sorcerer and the goblin artillerist.
            • The ballista defense here is pretty easy if you don't try to keep adjusting your aim. Settle on a section of the passage where all the goblins must pass, and defend that section, moving your ballista left and right only. If you get a moment, shoot the archers on the walls. One hit should also catch the others in the splash.
          • Bridge Gauntlet: Goblins will usually die in two shots, Sappers always die in one. In the second wave, there are three sappers per side. Just hold your bow/crossbow/staff steady and wait for them to advance to the crosshair, then fire. In this way, you aren't constantly aiming and tracking a target.
          • Town Portal Courtyard
            • You need to shoot the explosive and collapse the lookout tower anyway, so shoot it immediately. This also kills the goblin archers. A third goblin will crawl along the wall opposite your entrance and flee. If you are fast, two shots should kill it.
            • The equipment pile near the arch to the Town Portal always has either a Mana Potion (if you are playing as Andriel) or 18 ammo.
            • Item Sets in Store:
              • Helmet: Marksman, Stronghold
              • Shoulders: Warlord
              • Chest: Sunrise
              • Gloves: Alliance?, Bright-Flame, Marksman, Warlord
              • Leggings: Adamant?, Bowmaster, War-Wise
              • Boots: Battlement, War-Wise
          • After the final ballista in the garden, you will be on the bridge to the Citadel entrance. Stay on the bridge or retreat back (so you can't be hit by the sorcerer's blasts) until the goblins are clear. Advance and draw the attention of the orcs with a ranged attack. Kill them then retreat to heal again. Now all that are left should be the sorcerer and two archers.
        • Citadel
          • Remember that if a Goblin Sapper gets close, you can dodge right through it or away so it explodes harmlessly even if you are in the blast radius.
        • Citadel Tower
          • Item Sets in Store:
            • Helmet: Bowmaster
            • Shoulders: Marksman, Stalker
            • Chest: Battlement, Fell-Hunter
            • Gloves: Alliance
            • Leggings: Battle-Master, Marksman
            • Boots: Stalker
          • Tharzog
            • Probably the toughest boss for a very long time because of the tight space and unlimited minions. Still possible to do this without any potion use, but a good one is the Hero's Potion, which gives you +1000 damage while in Hero Mode.
            • You need to keep Tharzog busy with you, or your allies will be overwhelmed one at a time: They cannot defend against both orcs and Tharzog, because the orc chieftain's attacks cannot be blocked.
            • Start by shooting. When Tharzog charges you or his minions arrive, dodge out. Kill a minion with a Critical Strike to get Hero Mode, then go back to Tharzog. A few hits will get his attention and he will switch targets to you. His minions don't automatically follow him.
            • He has a multi-chop attack that can turn him around to strike you if you dodge right through him. Try to dodge backwards away from him instead.
            • His minions are not immune to his area effect attacks. They probably take no damage, but do get knocked down.

        War in the North - Crafting / Alchemy


        Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Crafting / Alchemy
        This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

        The table below shows the alchemical combinations for crafting in Lord of the Rings: War in the North. Play as Andriel to pick up herbs and mushrooms for components. With enough of them, you can sell all Health and Power Potions and just use crafting (which ingredients already take up a lot of backpack space). OR, keep a few handy because each potion has a cooldown, so if you are sorely pressed you can take an array of complementary potions and stack their results (e.g., Healing Potion and Healing Cake together).

        Cakes restore over time while restorative potions have an immediate effect. Rejuvenation is Health and Power simultaneously and can save you a lot of space.
        • Hero's Potion - Each strike gives +1000 bonus damage while in Heroic Mode. 2 minutes.
        • Potion of Learning  - Experience x2. 1 minute.
        • Potion of Might - All strikes have minor Area Damage, plus enemies are Slowed. 2 minutes.
        • Potion of Quickness - Upon being struck there's a chance for a temporary increase in speed. 5 minutes. Theoretically this could allow you to get out of being paralyzed by constant hit reactions.
        • Potion of Resurgence - Protection from death while effect lasts: Auto-revive once. 2 minutes. Remember that when you are revived, your health is at maximum.
        • Strength Potion - Strength x2. 1 minute.
        • Warding Potion - +50% Received Damage is Absorbed. 1 minute.
        • Victor's Brew - Receive orbs upon enemy kill. 1 minute. Each orb restores a bit of health or power.
        • Cakes - Restores over time instead of a lump sum immediately.
        • Rejuvenation effect - Restores both Health and Power.
        There are a lot of herbs, but some of them have the same effect:

        • Alfirin = Lothrond
        • Arthrif = Naugrimbas
        • Carandol = Gwinuial
        • Elanor = Orchamarth
        • Hithlas = Remmenthond
        • Meluinen = Rhiwaeg
        • Morthond = Niphredil
        • Naurivor = Simbelmyne


        Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Potion Making
        Alfirin Arthrif Carandol Elanor
        Alfirin Power Health Rejuvenation
        Arthrif Power Learning
        Carandol Health
        Elanor Rejuvenation Learning
        Gwinuial Health
        Hithlas Restoring Cake Healing Cake Quickness
        Lothrond Power Health Rejuvenation
        Meluinen Strength Hero
        Morthond Rejuvenating Cake Warding
        Naugrimbas Power Learning
        Naurivor
        Niphredil Rejuvenating Cake Warding
        Orchamarth Rejuvenation Learning
        Remmenthond Restoring Cake Healing Cake Quickness
        Rhiwaeg Strength Hero
        Simbelmyne
        Gwinuial Hithlas Lothrond Meluinen
        Alfirin Health
        Arthrif Restoring Cake Power
        Carandol Healing Cake Health Strength
        Elanor Quickness Rejuvenation Hero
        Gwinuial Healing Cake Health Strength
        Hithlas Healing Cake
        Lothrond Health
        Meluinen Strength
        Morthond Warding Rejuvenating Cake
        Naugrimbas Restoring Cake Power
        Naurivor Victor Might
        Niphredil Warding Rejuvenating Cake
        Orchamarth Quickness Rejuvenation Hero
        Remmenthond Healing Cake
        Rhiwaeg Strength
        Simbelmyne Victor Might
        Morthond Naugrimbas Naurivor Niphredil
        Alfirin Rejuvenating Cake Power Rejuvenating Cake
        Arthrif
        Carandol Warding Warding
        Elanor Learning
        Gwinuial Warding Warding
        Hithlas Restoring Cake Victor
        Lothrond Rejuvenating Cake Power Rejuvenating Cake
        Meluinen Might
        Morthond Resurgence
        Naugrimbas
        Naurivor Resurgence Resurgence
        Niphredil Resurgence
        Orchamarth Learning
        Remmenthond Restoring Cake Victor
        Rhiwaeg Might
        Simbelmyne Resurgence Resurgence
        Orchamarth Remmenthond Rhiwaeg Simbelmyne
        Alfirin Rejuvenation
        Arthrif Learning Restoring Cake
        Carandol Healing Cake Strength
        Elanor Quickness Hero
        Gwinuial Healing Cake Strength
        Hithlas Quickness Victor
        Lothrond Rejuvenation
        Meluinen Hero Might
        Morthond Resurgence
        Naugrimbas Learning Restoring Cake
        Naurivor Victor Might
        Niphredil Resurgence
        Orchamarth Quickness Hero
        Remmenthond Quickness Victor
        Rhiwaeg Hero Might
        Simbelmyne Victor Might

        War in the North - General Help and Cheats/Exploits


        Lord of the Rings: War in the North - General Help and Cheats/Exploits
        This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

        This post goes through some general tips, tricks, cheats, and exploits in the game.

        Saves and Autosaves
        The game saves automatically for you, but only at fixed points or events.
        • In the game world, you generally see these save points as glowing mists where you must gather your party before continuing. It also typically saves before a boss fight.
        • Some game areas have a ground light. These are town portals and merchant-less stores. As you approach some of these, your game saves. Others do not save your game, but you can use them to return to a town like Bree and save there.
        • Save game events include exiting the Blacksmith repair menu, exiting a Shop menu, and advancing a quest by interacting with someone about the quest (e.g., when you receive a quest from Otto Aster in Bree).
        • Restoring a Previous Save:
          • You can find the "War in the North" folder save game folder on your hard drive (e.g., under c:\Users\ <user name> \AppData\Local") and manually make a copy of the file there, which is timestamped with date and time.
          • Each time the game saves, the file is renamed with the new time and date. Multiple .sav files can go in that folder, including the ones you backed up before, as long as they all have different but valid file names.
          • To restore a previous save, delete the current save game and replace it with a backup that you made. In the game, Exit the menu all the way out to the black screen where it says "Click Here to Start". This will cause the game to re-read savegame data. If you do not do this, it may not properly reload the game or report that the savegame is corrupt.
          Grinding for Money, Experience, and Levelling
          Because of how autosaving works, sometimes you can redo levels partially or wholly AND save your progress. For example, after you leave the Battlements in Fornost, you start in the Outer Wards. There is a Town Portal, then the level begins. There are three save points in the level: At the log gate, just before the ballista, and just before the pit with the troll. At each save point, the game records which containers you opened and which monsters you killed.
          What you can do is clear everything to the log gate, but don't go past the gate (which triggers a save of the map state). Instead, return to Bree and save there (e.g., by talking to the Blacksmith and entering the repair menu; when you exit, you should notice the game saving). When you return to Fornost, you are back at the Town Portal and it will be as if you hadn't done anything yet.
          If you do go past the gate and trigger a save, you can still walk back to the Town Portal, save in Bree and come back. The monsters are still gone, but any containers not yet opened before the savegame at the log gate will be restored and can be looted again. Same with any herbs on the ground and the ranger cache that Eradan can find.
          Because you can repeatedly grind in this way for loot and experience, you can safely not worry about either as you go through the Single Player campaign.
          • Note that in some places, you cannot do this. At the courtyard where you free the giant eagle (i.e., the map right before the Battlements area), when you walk close enough to the Town Portal the game will autosave. Therefore you cannot re-loot the chests in this area since the game will save the map state before you can enter the portal.
          After you first arrive at Sarn Ford, you can return to Fornost at various entry points and redo the levels with approximately the same number of containers to loot, all the secret locations restored, and a reduced number of monsters. No bosses. You can do any part of Fornost any number of times in this way.

          You can also more quickly grind for levels with the Challenge Maps and exit them anytime things get too hot.

          Character Swapping
          Whenever you can save the game, you can re-enter it with a different character. This allows you to swap in Andriel to collect herbs, for example. But you need to have another save game point for anything you do to be recorded (e.g., herbs you picked). Typically this means you need to have access to a Town Portal.
          • For the Single Player campaign, the Inner Wards of Fornost has a secret for Eradan which requires that you first find the secret for Andriel, save the map state at a Town Portal, then come back with Eradan. Go to the room that Andriel uncovered to find a Ranger cache.
          Items, Item Sets, and Treasure
          • To preserve your weapon against wear, unequip it before breaking open crates. You will always have a dagger, which inflicts damage equal to Strength x 3.
          • A stat bonus on a weapon is active whether you are actively using the item or not. For example, a Bow with a Strength bonus gives that bonus while equipped, even if you are presently using a sword.
          • Every merchant has a set of gear that doesn't always appear at once, but if you reload the store (i.e., reload the game, or reload the map by going back to town then coming back for example) enough times you'll see all the items. They all have some set items, so you can keep reloading to see what shows up and buy what you want. Alliance is the fastest set to get six pieces, which you can do by the first Town Portal in the Barrow-Downs.
          • Set bonuses are cumulative. For example, 2 pieces of the Alliance set gives +3 Strength, and 4 pieces gives an additional +8 Strength, for a total of +11 Strength at 4-6 pieces.
          • Elf Stone stat bonuses usually cap at +5. Instead of using them to improve damage (by +15), use them to raise stats you don't want to concentrate on (like Dexterity and Will for a melee warrior) so that you can equip better items without spending too many points on those stats. Try to save a multi-slot jewelry piece for two Elf Stones that give multiple stat bonuses.
          • Before buying jewelry, check the stat requirements. Many later game stores sell jewelry with the same or comparable stats, but at a higher Will requirement.
          Combat
          • Retreating / Repositioning: You cannot really control your party, but you can sort-of call them to your position and in that way reposition your party to a more tactically advantageous position: Use "Z" to put your allies on defend. Typically a status message will say "X is Defending". If they can disengage, they will do so and run to your position.
          • Heavy attacks are slow and have a long cooldown period during which you are vulnerable, but you can abort the cooldown and go straight into a Critical Strike if your attack made the target eligible to receive such a strike. If you are in range of a valid Critical Strike target, just right click and they should immediately rush in for the strike.
          • Critical Strike and any use of a power also causes your character to ignore any hit reactions during that time, including those from large creatures such as trolls (they normally knock you down). You can therefore Critical Strike a troll at the same time it pounds on you, and not be knocked down.
          • Dodging works in town as well, and helps you to get past your companions, who can take several seconds to budge if you simply walk into them hoping they 'll get out of your way of, say, a doorway.

          War in the North - Andriel (Lore Master)


          Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Andriel (Lore Master)
          This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

          Playing Andriel
          When the AI controls Andriel, it generally does so using ranged combat, but doesn't rapid-fire the staff. Andriel's staff can rapid-fire five shots, but has a cooldown after each shot, so if you spend all fire, you now have to wait (which you can spend repositioning). AI Andriel also hangs back unless the enemy is at range and stays at range, in which case she will shoot while walking forward.

          If you control Andriel, you have to lead the AI party, and you therefore must take point. Her staff is a fairly fast two-handed weapon, so you can do quite well in melee providing you can keep the enemy unbalanced with a steady stream of attacks. If they gang up on you, use a spell like Tempest or Word of Command to push them back.

          An AI Andriel will also run to help severely wounded allies (when they shout a warning, like Farin's "I'm almost done for!") to erect a healing Sanctuary bubble. This means when you control Andriel, now that responsibility falls to you, which can really cramp your style and force you into tactically dangerous situations during hectic fights. Having the ability to make some breathing room is critical especially if you need to pull Farin out of trouble.
          Andriel is better as an AI character because the AI cheats. It can throw up Sanctuary with Healing Light at level 2 when this power is theoretically not attainable till level 3 at the earliest. It can also dual wield much earlier.

          The AI doesn't generally play a very defensive Andriel who stays inside her Sanctuary, but this is somewhat possible. Remember that blocking always works if the enemy isn't large enough to automatically make block breaking attacks. When faced with those, you can still dodge in and out of your Sanctuary bubble. You can also just block and call your allies, and while you are waiting, charge up your area effect attacks.

          You can expect to earn less XP with Andriel if you don't melee her aggressively to get the hit streak XP multipliers. Unless you want to play a harder game or one involving more potion-drinking to keep your Power Points up, I recommend you swap in Andriel on map replays to pick up herbs and play a different character with the advantage of home-brew potions. Any character can brew potions, but only Andriel can harvest herbs.

          Skills
          • Sanctuary - Conjure a protective orb that defends from ranged attacks.
            • This is quite a powerful effect as it forces enemies to move to melee. It can also stop the boulders/monoliths telekinetically thrown by Barrow-Wights.
          • Healing Light - Unlocks and increases healing done by Sanctuary.
            • A critical skill to support your AI allies -- which responsibility now falls to you if you play Andriel!
          • Preservation - Skills used by party members cost less Power.
            • The AI actually uses a lot of powers, so this can help in some way, but is definitely not as useful as Healing Light.
          • Focused Mind - Upgrade the Elf's passive Power regeneration.
            • Andriel already has an improved Power regeneration rate. Further improving it can let her use her attack powers much more often. Great for a turtling Andriel.
          • Shielding Light - While blocking, get a temporary Armor bonus.
            • Probably better to just dodge away from trouble.
          • Sanctuary Mastery - Increases the duration of Sanctuary.
          • Heal - While blocking, instantly heal nearby party members.
            • Great to have in addition to Sanctuary and definitely a more convenient ally rescue than throwing up a Sanctuary bubble. Get just one rank and rely on Sanctuary and the AI dodging unless you have nothing better to spend your points on.
          • Word of Command - Unleash a magical shockwave in all directions.
            • This is really her basic magical attack, more so than using the staff. Great for an Andriel turtling in Sanctuary. Just block and wait for this power to recharge.
            • Instead of improving this power (with Lore-Master's Reach), go for having more powers instead, so you can keep up a steady stream of attacks instead of having to wait.
            • Clarity - Chance each time a skill is cast that the next is free and does not trigger a cooldown.
              • Doesn't work with enough frequency to justify taking this skill too early.
            • Lore-Master's Reach - Upgrades the range of your Word of Command and Tempest skills.
              • Great to get, but not before getting more powers to use. Grab Tempest and Smite first before filling this out.
            • Tempest - While blocking, blast targets with a force of elemental energy.
              • A great power to grab early. Attacks in a wide forward arc and throws enemies off their feet, which can buy your allies time and free hits.
            • Smite - Devastate a single target. Higher ranks add chain damage to additional targets.
              • OK damage. Just take one rank to have more attack option while others are in their cooldown.
            • Quick-Minded - Reduces the cooldown times of active skills.
            • Strength of Will - Get a bonus of Armor based on your current Will.
              • A long way to go just to get an Armor bonus. Blocking and dodging are more foolproof than dying less slowly because you have more Armor.
              • At the first tier, the bonus is equal to your Will. At the second tier, you get an additional bonus equal to half your Will.
            • Renewed Power - Each killing blow achieved with skills awards bonus power.
              • Since Power Potions are easy to get (not just from random drops but from potions Andriel can make with herbs), I would get this as a late-game power.
              • A lot of your powers are area effect, so it's not hard to get this bonus.
              • Using the magic bolts from your staff (your basic ranged attack) does not count.
            • Sundering - Follow Word of Command with an overwhelming area effect.
              • Excellent power that knocks enemies down and away from you. Great for clearing a Sanctuary bubble if invaded by enemies.
            • Staff and Steel - Unlocks dual wielding of a 1-Handed Weapon alongside the staff and increases your damage.
              • The AI gets this very early, but you might want to just skip it, especially if you are using powers and potions. Her staff already has the typical reach of a two-handed weapon. If you are really stuck for damage, use one of her potions instead and save this power for the very late game.
            • Empower Staff - Hold and power-up your ranged attacks, firing multiple charges at once.
              • If this is the only power you want, just rapid-tap your staff and spend your points elsewhere first.
            • Staff Mastery - Increases the damage done with staves.
              • It's probably better to just pick up a better staff. But if you are not going to shoot with your staff much, then you might as well take this to unlock the later powers.
            • Magnify Staff - Increases the rate that the staff's ranged attacks charge, and increases the damage bonus of charged shots.
              • Get this only if you shoot a lot with the staff (and therefore drink Power Potions like water).
            • Elemental Affinity - Increases the duration of fire, ice, and lightning effects you inflict on enemies.
              • Not sure what they were thinking with this power since you only have elemental effects with weapons featuring that effect, and then only when you hit them with a power.
              • Fire inflicts burning damage over a duration, and ice momentarily freezes the enemy. As elemental weapons aren't very common and you might switch to a weapon that has a better power or basic damage, this skill is likely to be of inconsistent worth.
            • Wrath of the Eldar - Dispel Sanctuary with a powerful detonation.
              • Best used toward the end of the Sanctuary duration.
              • The AI Andriel has an annoying habit of using this shortly after throwing up Sanctuary when you actually need the healing from Sanctuary.
            • Forceful Fire - Any friendly ranged attacks fired through or within Sanctuary do extra damage..
              • Nice to have, but you're likely to be swarmed in melee anyway. This is better for the AI since you can more reliably keep foes away from the Sanctuary sphere by keeping them busy.
            • Burst of Light - Conjure a slow but highly lethal bolt of explosive energy.
              • Costs 35 Mana for a slow-moving bolt that's really only good against close or static targets. Automatically detonates if it hits anything, so if you don't want to waste time watching this float away, use it in melee range.
            Character Build
            Since the AI can do quite well on its own (probably drinking potions like water), you can get away with minimal healing and focussing on attack powers. Whatever you do, get Sanctuary early if not immediately. Not just for the healing, but Sanctuary is 100% proof against almost all ranged attacks, including magical attacks from enemy casters. Remember to call allies to your side ("Z" to call them to assist) and lure them inside your Sanctuary bubble.

            To play Andriel is to play War in the North in a very different way from the other two characters. If you are after XP, don't play Andriel -- you can always do better by giving the potions she can make with her herbs to Farin or Eradan.

            War in the North - Farin (Champion)


            Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Farin (Champion)
            This is one of our series of posts on Lord of the Rings: War in the North Walkthroughs and Cheats (exploits) for the Single Player campaign. For the index of all our posts, click here.

            Playing Farin
            When the AI controls Farin, it generally follows quite closely and shoots while waiting for the enemy to come into melee distance. When he gets War Cry, he uses it as soon as the enemy is close -- a precursor to also triggering Taunt, which the AI gets around level 10. He also picks up Explosive Bolt around level 15. If you take point very far ahead (rush ahead while he is still shooting) he can help with that skill to keep enemies down or scattered while you melee them.

            When you play Farin, you often find yourself alone there, which can be a problem if you get swarmed. If you are swarmed by minions, can't reposition, and are low on health, you can settle into a blocking stance (which always works against all attacks no matter what direction) and let your allies pick them off with ranged attacks. Best if you can do a War Cry and heal yourself with the Fortitude upgrade to War Cry. This won't work against large creatures like the bigger orcs on Mount Gundabad who can knock you down with their regular attacks.

            That said, Farin is one of the most straightforward to play, and typically without interference from the others. Where Farin has a tough time is when the enemy starts to block a lot, or if they out-swing him, which orc dual-wielders in the Ettenmoors can. He is then neutralized and because the party is typically heavily outnumbered, he is either mobbed or the enemy goes after his allies.

            Skills
            • War Cry - Temporarily increase Armor, Health, and melee damage.
              • Too short a duration on its own, but can be upgraded with a lot of interesting powers.
            • Dwarf Armor - War Cry allows the Dwarf to ignore heavier hit reactions and also increases the Armor of nearby party members.
              • This can protect you from getting knocked down by a troll, for example. I'd prefer to dodge myself.
              • It lasts too short a time (considering both the War Cry and the rate at which large creatures attack) to really be useful, and the War Cry animation is too long to really use this power in a hurry.
            • Shield Bash - While blocking, strike with your shield to stun your target. Also increases the Armor from shields.
              • When you are blocking, if you hold block and make an attack, you buffet the target but inflict no damage. This actually strikes the target. Would be okay for duelling, but when you are regularly outnumbered, this power isn't that useful overall.
            • Taunt - War Cry now shifts enemy focus to the Dwarf, damages nearby enemies, and increases the damage they take.
              • This is an awesome power, but doesn't last long enough for you to prioritize it.
              • Not only does it let your allies shoot safely, but the enemy will ignore them and just come toward you. This means allies who were in melee with them can get a lot of free hits through hit reactions delaying the target from moving. And since the enemy is still Taunted, they won't switch targets back to the ally attacking them.
            • Determination - Reduces the cooldowns of your active skills.
            • Retaliation - During War Cry, melee damage absorbed by the Champion is reflected back to the enemy.
              • The wording doesn't necessarily make it clear you can do this, but when you block (and therefore take no damage), you can still reflect damage back at the attacker.
              • Damage dealt this way does not contribute toward making the target vulnerable for a Critical Strike.
            • Shield Charge - While blocking, charge violently ahead, knocking enemies aside and damaging them.
              • If you need to get out, dodge out.  Whack them with Earthshaker or Whirlwind instead.
            • Sweeping Attack - Strike out at multiple enemies over a wide area.
              • Sometimes a goblin survivor will complain, "How can he hit us all like that?"
            • Mighty Reach
              • Increases the range and damage of your Sweeping Attack, Ground Pound (Earthshaker), and Whirlwind skills.
            • Fortitude - War Cry grants temporary combat Health regeneration for the Dwarf and any party members.
              • It's hard to say how much this helps, but it can theoretically keep allies from falling below the health threshold that causes them to call for aid and Andriel to abandon her position to go to them -- which can put her in a dangerous situation, and then you lose both your allies in an enemy mob.
              • Useful for yourself in any case, as Andriel's Sanctuary can frequently be aborted by her use of Wrath of the Eldar when she levels up to around level 12.
            • Heavy Weapons - Increases the damage you cause with 2-handed melee weapons.
              • Damage bonus looks like a small percentage of the weapon damage. Not big enough to really warrant taking this skill unless you have nothing better to take.
            • Whirlwind - Follow Sweeping Attack with a continuous flurry of quick area attacks. Requires a Sword.
              • If you just hold down [2], you can quickly drain all your Power with one Whirlwind after another. You can get quite a few strikes in, but in the mid to late game, even draining all your Power may not be enough to kill minions, but it can probably set a lot of them up for critical strikes.
              • Nice to use after Taunt and turtling in block for a bit so the enemy is thick around you.
            • Endurance - Increases your passive Health regeneration.
              • A bit weak in effect, but comparable with the other powers on this tier considering that Whirlwind and Earthshaker (also referred to as "Ground Pound" in the power description for X) are limited by weapon choice.
            • Earthshaker - Follow Sweeping Attack with a devastating area of effect strike.
              • Basically a second stroke that pushes enemies away and knocks them down. Either way you will typically have a least one second before they can act again. Great for stalling large mobs that have swarmed you or an ally.
            • Abundant Harm - During War Cry your melee strikes will echo to nearby enemies, striking them for damage.
              • Get at least one point of this early. It works even against enemies behind you, and combined with minions getting unbalanced by a hit reaction, you can essentially protect your flank and back from attacks.
              • This power works against valid targets, not valid opponents. Some special bosses like Bagrisar the Stone Giant have multiple target locations (e.g., each leg), and with this power on, you essentially double-strike them (once at each location) if both locations are close enough.
            • Indomitable Spirit - Activate War Cry near a fallen ally to instantly revive them.
              • A late-game buy as even through the Ettenmoors your allies will typically not fall in battle unless you are really slow in hacking down minions in melee.
            • Explosive Bolt - Fires an explosive bolt that detonates upon impact.
              • Works like a ballista bolt, but with less damage. Very nice to have because of the knockdown and push-back effect on all but giant opponents (like trolls and orc warlords).
              • The AI takes this skill around level 15, and it is an awesome crowd control attack that can give you immediate breathing room against a thick clump of enemies (although sometimes it causes your target to get blasted away from your swing). You can also immediately help an ally who's swarmed.
              • If the enemy is very far away, this can keep them on the ground or at a distance while your allies pick them off. At close range, dodge away and switch to the crossbow to fire off a quick shot.
            • Crushing Blow - Strike a single melee target for high damage.
              • Similar to Ranger Strike -- Straight down and with a chance to miss. Aim first!
              • I recommend taking this skill and skill tree in the later game as the others tend to have much more utility, especially if you get various War Cry upgrades.
            • Battle Fury - Increases the War Cry damage bonus and increases the melee damage done by nearby party members while active.
              • A generally lousy power because when you play Farin, Eradan and Andriel tend to hang back and shoot. And your War Cry doesn't last that long anyway.
            • Impact - Upgrades the damage of the devastating Crushing Blow and Crushing Wave attacks.
            • Crossbow Adept - The crossbow is upgraded from single-shot to rapid firing, multiple bolt capability.
              • Properly using this means investing in Dexterity for damage and better crossbows, which in turn means less melee damage. Probably not a good tradeoff.
              • This can empty your quiver very quickly, which isn't as bad as it sounds. You can probably get away with blindly shooting it into a crowd or a large boss then finishing up in melee. Bolts are plentiful anyway, so if you use your bow sparingly, you might as well make the most of your time.
            • Heavy Bolt - Fires a precise high damage bolt at your target.
              • Obviously if you miss you've wasted it. But a single shot can be worth several bolts, so considering how easy it is to shoot with the crosshair, this might be the better choice than Crossbow Adept. It's a power, however, and has a cooldown, while Crossbow Adept is always available.
              • Has knockback, which is also nice, especially if you can keep it up with a combination of this skill and Explosive Bolt.
            • Crushing Wave - Enhance Crushing Blow with a devastating wave of damage extending ahead of the Champion.
              • Get this later since it relies on having something behind your target to hit in order to be useful.
            • Battle Ready - Skills used while War Cry is active cost less Power.
              • Get this later. Power Potions are easy to come by, and War Cry doesn't last very long.
            Character Build
            I recommend driving toward Abundant Harm quickly. Combined with Earthshaker, you have some crowd control skills. War Cry, Sweeping Attack, Mighty Reach, Fortitude, Endurance, Earthshaker, Abundant Harm, Explosive Bolt. Just take the minimum you need to reach Abundant Harm and Explosive Bolt, then go back and maximize Mighty Reach, Fortitude, and Abundant Harm.
            Like Eradan, if you are concentrating on melee, leave Dexterity alone.

            The other option is to drive toward Retaliation and make a more defensive build, but blocking won't help you against bosses and it can be slower in clearing enemies. Definitely less XP from missing out on bonus XP from Critical Strikes and the like if you let Retaliation do all the killing work. You are also relying on your allies to do most of the work, and that's tricky because the AI plays both as archers.