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If you’ve read the introduction to skirmishes then you should be familiar with the basics of the system, and hopefully you’ll be eager to jump right in. There are just a few things you have to take care before you can start fighting a skirmish.
First, your character must reach level 30. Once this is accomplished you should get some mail that gives you a quest item and an invitation to take part in the skirmish system. Using the item sends you on a quest to visit any skirmish camp. These camps are located outside of every major quest hub, so just head to the nearest one. Talk to the skirmish captain there and he’ll ask you to go kill enemies until they drop the items the quest needs. Unfortunately, the drop rate of these items isn’t very generous, and the enemies can’t be too far below your own level or the items won’t drop at all. So, this is a good time to go do some other quests and gain experience while you get this first tedious step out of the way.
Once that’s done you’ll be sent to Bree where you’ll take part in your very first skirmish, albeit a short and easy one. Since this skirmish functions as a tutorial there’s no need for this guide to walk you through it. Just follow the in-game instructions and you’ll do fine. Your reward for completing this quest is access to the entire skirmish system, and from here on you’re free to do pretty much whatever you want.
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Choosing Your Fight
Siege of Mirkwood launched with a choice of 11 different skirmishes, and each one offers something a little different. When setting up your skirmish from the menu you’ll first need to select the size (solo, small fellowship, fellowship or raid), level (each skirmish has a wide level range and what you choose affects both the difficulty level and the potential rewards) and a tier of difficulty from one to three. All of these options give you a great deal of control over both how hard and how numerous the enemies you encounter are and how many skirmish marks you receive.
After that’s out of the way all that’s left is to choose which skirmish you want to fight. Some skirmishes are offensive in nature, where you must aggressively clear an area of enemies. Others are defensive, forcing you to defend a person or landmark. There’s also a survival skirmish, where you fight waves of enemies of increasing strength before you’re eventually overwhelmed. Note that not every skirmish will be available to you at level 30, as some have a minimum level of up to 60. Some skirmishes also require you to have made a certain amount of progress in Volume 2, Book 9 of the storyline before they open up. Finally, you’ll notice that skirmishes have gold rings next to them that go away when you complete them. These are the daily quests; you get bonus skirmish marks simply for completing each skirmish once a day. This should encourage you to try a variety of different fights rather than grinding one repeatedly.
Beyond that you should simply choose whichever skirmish sounds interesting to you. Each one offers different objectives and different types of enemies, and the best way to find out which fights you like the most is to try them all out.
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The Basics of Winning a Skirmish
The objectives of a skirmish are pretty straightforward. In offensive skirmishes you’ll need to push forward and capture special points marked by flags, which is accomplished by wiping out the enemies around them. You’ll usually have to defend them from a counterattack as well, so don’t go rushing off as soon as a checkpoint is claimed. Offensive skirmishes are straightforward, just follow the objectives that come up on screen and it will be pretty much impossible for you to get lost. Just remember that you’re in no hurry, so pick your fights and plan battles carefully instead of trying to blitz through a horde of enemies.
Defensive skirmishes will have you defending a person, place, or both and enemies will come in varied waves. If you’re defending an NPC then be sure to keep them healed or draw aggro from them whenever possible, as they tend to be much more vulnerable than you are. If you’re defending a building, like in the Defence of the Prancing Pony skirmish, watch for special enemy units that focus on damaging the building and make gunning them down your priority.
Finally, watch out for lieutenants. These are special bosses that show up from time to time, and can cause problems if you aren’t prepared for them. There’s a huge variety of lieutenants that can be encountered, and each one is different. They’ll all attempt to make use of their unique skills, so keep an eye on them and how they work. Learning their strengths and weaknesses will make fighting lieutenants a lot easier than simply pounding on them and hoping for the best, and they’re probably the enemies you’ll have the toughest time with in skirmishes.
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Optional Encounters and other Skirmish Features
It’s easy enough to run straight through a skirmish from start to finish, but if you don’t look around a little you’ll miss out on some bonus content. Each skirmish has at least one “encounter", an optional, tough boss that will earn you a great reward if you can beat them. In most cases the skirmish will draw attention to the encounter’s existence, although you may have to look in the right place or pick up a few items before this occurs. These fights will show up outside of aggro range so you can ignore them if you’re not feeling confident, but it’s a good idea to try to fight them unless you’re really struggling through the skirmish. There’s also a large variety of them, so don’t expect to see the same encounter every time you play a skirmish.
Just remember that the skirmish doesn’t stop while you fight an encounter boss. So if you’re, for example, about to fight off a counterattack, taking on an encounter will end up with you fighting a tough boss, a wave of normal enemies, and possibly a lieutenant as well. This is a recipe for disaster, so be sure things have calmed down before you start an encounter. If you’re careful, they should be easy.
Finally, you’ll discover that there are a large number of deeds associated with skirmishes, all related to either defeating a certain type of lieutenant a number of times or completing a number of different encounters. You can’t really go out of your way to complete these, but keep an eye on them and you’ll find that they’ll be completed naturally. If you skirmish on a regular basis they’ll be done before you know it, and they’ll help you to really rake in the rewards that skirmishes have to offer.