Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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.

  • 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.

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