Greetings LoTRO players of the world! I am Adarin, perhaps better known as Yargax. I'm an old regular of the Ettenmoors and while I have become more casual over the years (thus keeping right around my pre-book 12 rank), I am still a creep at heart and have similarly ranked creeps on various servers and a full set of each on Landroval.
From release until book 15 I was adamantly opposed to ever bringing my freep into the Ettenmoors. The balance was simply not there to warrant another freep body killing all of my friends and compatriots. Around book 14 and 15 of SoA, however, I noticed that balance had finally made its way to the Ettens. There were some snags with the release of MoM, but by the first major update, the balance was here to stay (mostly).
Strangely enough, this is also when the moors started to be creep dominated.
Creep numbers is the common scapegoat for this change, but I think it is only part of the issue. In my extensive experience, a raid of freeps (heck even a small group of freeps) can take on a much larger creep force due to the synergy (aka force multipliers) between the classes. This works just fine if the group is having to deal with a wave of creeps descending upon them.
The PROBLEM is that creep response times enable them to not be a wave, but instead a tsunami. ALL the creeps in a zone can get to any location at the exact same time due to maps. So even if one raid of creeps is by Lugz and another raid is by TA, they both get to TR at the same time and overwhelm the freeps that could have dealt with them seperately if they arrived at different times.
This immediate response by so many creeps is the real problem that cripples freep raids, and the fact that the map system was designed for a time when overwhelming creep numbers were necessary is the issue. Since a single creep is almost equal to a single freep, 2 to 1 odds are not what they used to be.
What is the answer then? Many people favor scrapping the map system entirely. As a player that has SIX ranked creeps all of whom have all their maps I am wary of this (due to the time I put in getting those maps), but I am not ruling it out.... this is really how far things have come for us.
As a open-minded sort of fellow I thought there would be other options and ideas that we could discuss also.
I envision three options all of which have their problems...
Option #1 - No maps (other than Grams and GV) and no mounts
This would be the LOTRO equivalent of the "nuclear option" from American politics. The benefits of this option though are multi-fold. Small groups of freeps would be more effective because the entire creep army would not be able to immediately respond to reports of them. Also, creeps would have to spread out in order to watch keeps. You couldn't mass all the creeps at TR and expect to save Lugz if it was attacked in force.
Problems with this abound, however. If one group gets control of both rez circles, it becomes very hard to branch out of your starting area. One fix could be the addition of ONE additional map to OC (for creeps) or EC (for freeps). This would allow for some movement even on a solid color map.
What to do with the defunct maps and the effort put into getting them is another problem. There should be some reward, but could there ever be a consensus?
Another major problem is the constant threat of a "ninja" attempt on a keep. Even if the main force of creeps or freeps are around TA, it is very difficult for them to reach a keep that is being "ninja'd" even if they leave immediately. This problem could be solved by FINALLY fixing how the keeps work so "ninja's" are not allowed (e.g. Tyrants cause everything alive in the keep to be aggroed).
Finally, the biggest problem is the player response. I'm only putting this out as an option and I imagine I will be flamed incessantly for it. One can only imagine the uproar if they actually made the change. Granted, one can argue that the players that would quit over something like this are not ones we want in the Ettenmoors, but they do pay their subscription the same as me and so their voice is not irrelevant.
Option #2 - Consumable maps
Another option is the idea that maps become consumable items. You could receive a small stack of them when you complete your deed, but any others would have to be purchased either through barter or straight up with cash (with a "must have completed" requirement).
The main problem with this is it doesn't change anything. All it does is make creep maps a perpetual grind instead of a one time grind. Also, in many ways it could make the creeps stronger! If they make the maps cost 10s/30s/50s a piece for crude/poor/good, then creeps will make the consistent effort to grind cash much more than they do now. This would mean they would consistently have more cash on hand with which to buy potions, trackers, food, and other items. If they made it a barter situation for delving stones then it would be even worse... Not only would they have more cash from the loot drops, but more creeps would have the stones they've been neglecting in order to get advanced traits.
Option #3 - A mix of map changes and/or creep movement changes.
This would be a difficult option to balance, but it would allow for the devs to experiment a bit with the zone. Each option under this one has problems, but they all may be good for discussion:
Increase map cooldowns
Remove most maps, but give creeps "mount speed" options
Remove some maps, but keep everything else.
Consolidate maps and make some changes to their use (maps upgrade instead of stay... cooldowns increased).
In the end, there are options if we get dev attention. There hasn't been a shift of power in the moors since Book 7 of Mines of Moria. That's a long time to have major zone issues ignored. So, what are your thoughts? Do you have additional suggestions? I know some of you like the status quo, but it really isn't that great status quo wise...