Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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.

  • 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.

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