"Grind" is a terrible word for it, as LOTRO's current endgame is (in my opinion) the best they've ever had, with a multitude of instances to run, plenty of dailies and weeklies to keep you entertained, and three 12-person raids.
Most people when they hit 130 aren't sure what to do, and after research, all they can find is outdated information, and with the most recent update, there are simply more efficient ways to acquire better gear and weapons.
This is a long and thorough guide of the endgame, and I wouldn't recommend going for everything at once, which is why it's sorted out into priorities. That doesn't mean you should ignore everything else, but it's rather a set of goals, and each completed goal will help the execution of the next.
I use the LotroHQ website on a daily basis for help on the endgame. It has class-specific guides on armor, virtues, traits, LIs, consumables, and even skill rotations (very helpful, especially for valared characters). However, don't get 100% attached to it, as it is a general guide and not entirely optimal for more difficult raiding. It essentially sets you up at a good starting point, and is not the end result.
Note: This guide is geared towards PvE, and is not intended for PvP, but most of the guide is still applicable. The only variance will be in the gear and virtues that you choose, as many classes will want to sacrifice some DPS for higher mitigations and vitality. The further you progress in the endgame, the better you will do in the Moors.
This guide was designed for ALL level 130s, even veterans of the endgame. There should be good information in here for everyone at every stage of the early endgame.
LEARNING YOUR CLASS
Learning your class is the best thing you can do to progress in the endgame. That means looking at guides, watching videos, talking to others in-game with the same class, and practicing (a lot). This will be a constant priority that is worked on in all stages of the endgame, and before as well.
TRAITS AND VIRTUES
You should be working on these as you level. Trait points are acquired from various deeds and quests (look up a complete list on Lotro wiki); a good starting point is 80 trait points, but your goal is to get the maximum of 95.
As for virtues, I would pick 5 that suit your class and stick with them while leveling. One that I would recommend for everyone is Loyalty, which gives a nice boost to your morale. Fidelity is also nice if you plan to be running the new raid. If you're playing a class that has multiple trait trees you use, pick one that you play most often and focus on leveling virtues for that. You can get virtue experience (VXP for short) from most deeds as well as repeatable weekly quests. The goal is level 75 for all virtues you use, but these only start to matter when you're chasing your stat goals (see below).
On a lesser note, you should also make sure you unlock and equip your race traits, as some of these give very nice buffs.
This is where most people get stuck in the endgame because the legendary item system is so incredibly complicated, with many steps and little in-game explanation of what to do. Roderusc has a great imbuement guide on the forums, but I'll give a redacted version here with steps.
Step 1 = Acquire 2 first age class-specific legendary items. Most classes have a weapon and class item, but hunter and warden have two different types of weapons. These are acquired from Westfold crafting recipes, and feel free to ask the kin for help with crafting (Kuzo, Fid, and Ahranos all have various crafters). You will need a blemished symbol of the elder king, which can found in the Central Gondor quest deed, the AH, and are dropped randomly from Pelargir and other epic battles.
Step 2 = Level up your items to level 70 (use Anfalas Scroll of Delving to increase level, bought from Skirmish Camp), and add a Crystal of Remembrance for a 7th legacy slot. These are very hard to find, but one can be acquired from the Epic Questline in Gondor (Book 3, Chapter 8). The other(s) can be bought from the Auction Hall for ~400 gold, bought from the LOTRO store, or randomly dropped from lootboxes and instances. Additionally apply 3 Anfalas Star-Lit Crystals to each item.
Step 3 = Get the legacies you want by leveling up other third agers to level 30 and deconstructing them to get a legacy replacement scroll (a good way to accrue these are by doing dailies in Minas Tirith). I would suggest looking up a class-specific guide at LotroHQ to see what legacies are best. BEWARE: some legacies differ in their pre- vs. post- imbuement buffs. You can leave the 7th slot from the Crystal of Remembrance empty.
Step 4 = Spend your 830 item points before imbuing. Make sure you increase the main stat to its highest level, and then evenly distribute the rest between the legacies.
Step 5 = Once you've completed Steps 1-4, imbue your weapons, and you can replace the 7th open legacy spot for free. Now, to level up your items, you're going to need many Star-Lits and Scrolls of Empowerment. The best place for acquiring star-lits is the first boss of the raid Throne of the Dread Terror, commonly known as RAKO. Doing this with 6 people will yield you 20 barterable tokens with which you can trade in 6 per star-lit. You can also acquire them from Missions in Elderslade, festivals (character bound), and Epic Battles (Pelargir is most popular). For Scrolls of Empowerment, here are the best sources:
1. Repeatable dailies in Minas Tirith (9-11 per day, max tier 69)
2. Missions in Elderslade, part of Wo3P Expac. (7-8 per week, max tier 74)
3. Skirmish Camp barter using marks & medallions (no max tier)
4. Drops from Endgame Instances (Stairs, Harrowing/Roost, etc.)
5. Featured Instance (1-3 per run)
Be aware of the fact that 2 completed items is the BARE MINIMUM for completing endgame content, and is not sufficient for difficult content. High-end hunters should have 2 different bows to swap between for different skills. This also applies to champions, who need 2 different weapons and class item for both yellow and red trait lines, and will need FIVE completed imbued items to be efficient in difficult endgame content. Captains need tanking and support items, RKs need DPS and healing items, and all classes should have unimbued legendary items to swap to for certain skills. For most though, two will be fine... for a while.
If you need to change a legacy after imbuing, buy a replacement scroll in Minas Tirith for 30 tokens from RAKO.
Refer to Roderusc's guide for a more in-depth version
Also check out LotroHQ for class-specific legacies and items
GEARING UP PART I: Starting Out
The best way to quickly gear up is through the expansion War of Three Peaks (Wo3P for short). This expansion has a 6-person instance, Shakalush (more commonly known as Stairs) that is run on 5 different tiers. When you're just starting out, Tier 1 will be the only level you want to run. Don’t be afraid to join world chat runs! You have a 0% chance at failing this run, and it will be rewarding every time. There are 3 easy bosses on Tier 1 that each drop one piece of gear. You will get teal armor for each slot except helmet with 2 essence slots; only equip essences on armor that is good for your class and role. You will also get purple jewelry that I would suggest equipping unless you have something better already equipped. These pieces of armor can also be disenchanted into embers of enchantment. Embers are the main endgame currency, and more about how to acquire them will be explained later.
A word on essences:
Crafted warmly moonlit essences are no longer the best essences anymore! However, for your first few essences, I would suggest crafting these just because you're going to want to spend embers on other items. Eventually, the essences you'll have are slade-wrought essences, which randomly drop from Stairs and the new instances, or can be bought for 7500 embers (expensive!!!). If you complete the Bloody Threshold Raid on T1 (fairly easy raid), you will unlock a better conversion of 6000 embers per essence box.
A word on what essences to use:
As a general rule, don't buy any essences for might/agility/will/fate, block/parry/evade, critical defense, mitigation/resistance, or incoming healing. The ones you want are tactical/physical mastery (for DPS/support classes), outgoing healing (for healers), finesse (for support, DPS, pretty much everything), critical rate (DPS, healers, debuffers), and vitality (everyone, especially tanks). Most classes won’t need any finesse essences due to the abundance of it in their gear, but it can help to have one while still working on your gear.
Tank essences are very easy, as you'll only want vitality. Other classes have to be aware of stat caps.
What are stat caps? Many stats in-game (masteries, critical, outgoing healing) are capped at certain values. Maximum masteries are 850k (+200% damage), critical rate is 630k (30% rate), outgoing healing caps at different levels for different classes (Minstrel/Bear at 80%, RK at 90%), and finesse cap doesn't matter because you don't need that much for any class (goal is 270k). As a healer or DPS, you're going to want to hit those caps and then put any leftover essences into vitality. Remember buffs though, so you just have to make sure that you hit your goals while in an instance. As a support class, I would suggest looking up a guide on LotroHQ for more specific stat goals. Tanks are easy, only slot vitality.
A word on trigger essences
These are a rare drop from crafted warmly moonlit essence boxes. Each box is expensive (1 ithilharn shard and 3 universal crafting components), and the drop rate for a trigger is ~10%, so you better hope you're lucky! There are many different types, make sure to look up the best ones for your class and spec. The alternative is to unlock a barter from completing Stairs T4/T5, but that content is extremely difficult. There are new types of trigger essences from Update 30 that can be bartered in the new the region of Azanulbizar. Once you reach kindred, I would suggest purchasing the flame and frost trigger essences, as these will increase your damage playing any class where you attack enemies.
How do I remove essences?
Essence removal scrolls can be bought from Skirmish Camps, but these require seals, only dropped from Skirmish Raids, or can be bartered in Minas Tirith.
GEARING UP PART II: Adventurer's Gear
For the low price of 3500 embers, you can barter for a teal piece of anything! Jewelry, armor, cloaks, weapons, you can get it. Adventurer's jewelry will be the best obtainable jewelry you will get for a LONG time. I would suggest to take the piece that is heavy/medium/light (depending on class), with stats that suit your purpose (DPS/heals/tank), and with the essence slot. The only exceptions are for the pocket item, which has a better alternative, and the necklace, which is replaced later.
Do not buy adventurer's gear for any slot of armor, as you will get better pieces from running Stairs T1. The only exception is the helmet, which can't be acquired from Stairs. If you plan on running the Bloody Threshold raid T1, I would recommend that you don't buy it, and instead hold out. Once you complete the raid, you will unlock a barter outside Annak-Khurfu in Elderslade where you can purchase a very nice helmet for 5000 embers. The raid also unlocks a barterable pair of lvl 434 boots, but I wouldn't recommend buying them.
Note: any barterable gear is account bound, so you only have to complete a run once to unlock all barters and supply any alts you have. The dropped gear within the raids will still have slightly higher stats.
I would not suggest buying the Adventurer's Cloak, as the other possible cloaks to wear are from the Epic Storyline and from Remmorchant, both of which are better than the adventurer's alternative.
Adventurer's teal weapons, bows, and shields are the best options for these slots in the game, so definitely get these to complement your LIs. Some classes, like warden, benefit from the Elderslade weapons, so check out all of your options first.
***The reason why I don't recommend adventurer's gear for some slots is because all adventurer's gear has exactly 1 essence slot. This is the best you can get for early jewelry, but Stairs and Threshold pieces have 2 slots, and more essences means more stats.
GEARING UP PART III: Finishing your LIs with Relics and Titles
To finish these, you're going to need Elderslade & Minas Morgul reputation at Kindred, and you're going to need a Tier 13 crafter (this is non-negotiable; it doesn't matter what type, you just need one). Let's go slot by slot:
Settings/Gems = To start, barter Ithil relics at Echad Uial or Estolad Lan. For gems, always get vitality, NO EXCEPTIONS. For settings, most will want brutality, except for tanks, who will want resistance.
Runes = These can come in two different forms. Some increase your weapons' base stats, and some just give you regular stats. For DPS classes, get the ones that increase your DPS and get regular stats for the other LI. For healers, get the ones that increase healing and get regular stats for the other. For some classes (captains) that benefit from both, get the base stats for both! Here is how you acquire them:
-Base stats (ex. +400 base combat strength) = Elderslade barter, must be at acquaintance standing. These can be later replaced by runes from Stairs T2 (dropped or bartered) for an important increase in DPS or healing.
-Regular stats (ex. +12000 Critical rating) = Same as Settings & Gems
NOTE: Minas Morgul settings/gems/runes have better "glimmering versions". These glimmering ithil runes are a random drop from Minas Morgul dungeons, with higher drop rates the higher the tier. The glimmering relics aren't required, but will certainly help at reaching those stat goals.
Devices = These can be crafted, more on this in the next section.
Titles = Weapon titles are crafted, see below. Item titles can be acquired as random drops from the Fall of Khazad-Dum raid.
GEARING UP PART IV: Crafting
At the current endgame, crafting is absolutely necessary for gearing up your characters. Almost everything crafted needs ithilharn shards. These shards can be acquired from Minas Morgul weeklies and daily Elderslade missions. You will get 4-5 shards per week per 130 character in addition to any you farm from rare mobs in the new region, and you will need a lot of shards! A few of the below items will be bartered using crafted supply packs (1 shard per pack), and some just use shards, so make sure not to confuse the two and waste shards! I also like to sort crafting into different priorities:
Priority 1: Essences = When you're just starting out and aren't running higher tier content for slade-wrought essences, you're going to want to craft them. It costs 1 shard and 3 universal crafting components. If you're doing weeklies, shards won't be the problem, but components will be! If you do Pelargir, you will accrue these, and you can also buy them off the AH for ~40 gold each. You can also buy them from the LOTRO store using points, and can get these from missions at the expense of losing out on a shard. Once you have a few pieces of adventurer's jewelry, I would stop crafting these and focus on the priorities below.
Priority 2: Devices = These cost 5 supply packs, and can be bartered at your guild craft leader (every guild has one in Estolad Lan). Look to see which of the 6 options is best for your class/spec, and buy two of them. The only exception here is for tanks. The best devices in the game for tanks actually come from the Anvil of Winterstith, a level 120 raid. If you don't want to run this, there is no good alternative, and I would just skip this priority.
Priority 3: Pocket Item = The best pocket item in the game can be purchased in Annak-Khurfu for 15 supply packs (15 shards). This is a great piece of jewelry because it has 2 essence slots! Make sure to pick a good one for your role. Don't be afraid to pick something with agility if you normally use might. The best tanking jewelry stats actually come from agility pieces, so make sure to check out all your options. I wouldn't get the adventurer's alternative because of the extra essence slot from the crafted item.
Priority 4: Weapon Titles = These can be bartered in Annak-Khurfu for 5 supply packs. Make sure you choose the package with Beleriand damage type and Beast Slayer (this will be more helpful in running the Bloody Threshold than Orc Slayer). The Orc Slayer Title is better if you're primarily running Stairs, so feel free to pick that if you aren't interested in raiding. These level 130 titles are only for weapons, so for most classes, you will have to use the class titles from Gondor (either from Pelargir, Central Gondor, or RAKO), or hope you get lucky and get a titles from the Fall of Khazad-Dum raid. For hunters and wardens, you will need 2 titles, one for each weapon. If you have additional imbued weapons, they will also need these.
Priority 5: Gold chestpiece = This was recently added in Update 29, and is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE, at the price of 25 shards and 20 crafting components (dropped from Minas Morgul dungeons). These can be crafted by a tailor/metalsmith, and are not account bound! Beware: the crafting components ARE account bound. If you need someone else to craft this for you, do not open the packages they come in, as these aren't bound, and instead mail them unopened. It's very expensive because it is extremely good, so it's worth the wait... but only after priorities 2-4.
Priority 6: Essences (again) = After finishing priorities 2-5, it's time to return to essence crafting for those trigger essences. If you already got those (2-4, depending on class), this priority can be ignored, but if you don't, start that crafting! These essences are minimal in most runs, but in raiding, it can make a difference. If you're uninterested in raiding, you can just skip this priority.
NOTE: If you have a jeweller, you can use crafting components from Minas Morgul to craft a nice necklace that's better than the Adventurer's alternative and is comparable to the drop from Remmorchant T1.
As a side note, you get the supply pack recipe by reaching kindred standing with Elderslade. The gold pocket items, legendary titles, and crafted devices also require at least one of your characters to be at kindred standing.
For those that don’t have a tier 13 crafter… get one. There really is no alternative. If you have saved gold, you can just buy the resources and ignore mastering each level. You need guild standing for devices, so keep that in mind.
GEARING UP PART V: Remmorchant 3-set
With the latest update, you can now barter Remmorchant gear from Estolad Lan without having to run the raid. But, you can only barter boots and gloves. I would suggest only getting these pieces after you've finished off your adventurer's purchases, as you will get more value for your adventurer's. This Remmorchant gear is expensive (7000 embers), and without 4 pieces, has no set bonus. However, if you run the new instances, Agoroth and Woe of the Willow (part of the Wildwood questpack) on T2+, you will get Tokens of Resolution. You get 1-3 on T2, 10-12 on T3, 14-16 on T4, 18-20 on T5. I would only suggest running these when you are near to or have met your stat goals because they are very difficult, especially on T3+ (they're also a lot of fun, some of the best dungeons in the game!). You can barter 50 tokens of resolution to upgrade your bartered Remm pieces into better versions. The crafted chestpiece is this upgraded version, so when you upgrade your boots and gloves, you will have a 3-set Remmorchant set bonus! Congrats!
For your other pieces, the best way to obtain them without running the entire raid is by farming side bosses. Shoulders and pants only drop on T2+ and the helmet drops on T3+.
GEARING UP REVIEW
To recap, after working on endgame for a while, this is what you should have for your armor:
Helmet = Threshold T1 (or Adventurer's if you don't raid)
Chestpiece = Crafted
Boots/Gloves = Upgraded Remm barter
Pants/Shoulders = Stairs gear (or Remm if you farm sides)
Cloak = Remmorchant (or Epic Storyline if you don't raid)
Earrings/Rings/Bracelets = Adventurer's
Necklace = See notes below
Pocket Item = Crafted
Just a few notes:
- Helmet from Threshold T1 is much better than Adventurer's, get it if you can.
- Don't worry about the Remm armor until you have all teal pieces, you will initially get more returns from essences.
- The Remm jewelry looks very nice, but the adventurer's pieces are 100% better. Remm used to be better when the expansion first came out, but it has since changed.
- Necklaces ranked: Woe of the Willow (random drop) > Remmorchant > Crafted (supply packs) > Adventurer's
DAILIES AND WEEKLIES
At level 130, there are so many dailies and weeklies that you can run, but most have requirements. Let's look at each one:
Make sure you complete the questing deed in MM, as well as the Minas Morgul main questline, and get the Remmorchant exploration deed. Once you complete these things, a number of weeklies will be made available to you:
-Scourges: Once per week, join a scourges run around Mordor Besieged to defeat the Nazgul.
-Reclaimation: Complete 10 of these quests per week by running the Minas Morgul dungeons on solo or in a group. The Harrowing of Morgul and the Shadow-Roost are your friends; they are the fastest and easiest runs.
-Instances: Complete 4 instances per week; this goes in tandem with the reclamation, and should be done together.
All of these reward an Ithilharn shard, 500 embers, and some VXP, and these wrapper quests reset every Thursday. Once you get a high enough reputation with the Reclaimation, you can trade in 100 sigils for 500 embers, resetting every Sunday.
After completing the main questlines, you will unlock the Limlok bounty board. You can complete 5 bounties per week (resets Thursday) and this rewards 300 embers and VXP.
If you have the expansion, you should be running daily missions on as many characters as you can manage in your time online. If you complete 15 and 45 per week, you will get 500 embers, VXP, and a special reward. Always choose the crafting reward, as you can get a shard from it. Note that these only reset after you complete it, so you can take multiple weeks to complete them (or however long it takes). Also, if you complete 3 missions per day on 4 different days, you can get some motes of enchantment. Use these to barter scrolls of empowerment and star-lits. Once you reach high enough reputation with Elderslade, you can barter 50 coins of Gundabad for 500 embers.
INSTANCES TO COMPLETE AND WHEN TO START DOING THEM
There are many instances at the endgame, and it's helpful to know their reset times, rewards, and general difficulty. So, here they are!
You can run these twice per week per tier per character, which means many runs! You will get glimmering Ithil relics, crafting components, and embers. On T2, these are very easy, and can be completed with little teal armor. T3 is a little harder, but with a good team composition, it's very doable, but I would still suggest you have only a few purple pieces of gear left before attempting. Harrowing has no requirement, but Shadow Roost has a discovery deed, so make sure to get that while questing in Minas Morgul.
Chamber of Shadows
On T1-T3, this instance isn't really worth completing, as you get a few embers per run and nothing else. However, on Tiers 4 and 5, you can get a rare earring drop that is incredibly good, but most will never complete this. It requires you to be at your stat goals (including a good pool of morale) and have an experienced group, with the latter being more difficult to obtain. The discovery for this is in the Foundations of Stone in Moria. Don’t worry about doing this unless you’re interested in running difficult raids.
This instance is useful to run on all tiers due to the ember drops. You can either equip strong gear from this or disenchant pieces for embers, and get 300-600 per run. T1 resets daily, T2 can be done twice per week, and T3/T4/T5 can be done a combined two times per week. Although Tier 1 is easy, the difficulty ramps up. Tier 2 requires you to know mechanics, and I would suggest that you have some adventurer's pieces. T3 is a challenge, and for a consistent group, I would recommend that you be at your stat goals and have at least 300k morale when buffed. The 2nd boss does nasty AoE hits that will one-shot low-morale people, so a strong healer is vital. T4 and T5 are harder versions of T3, and you should be prepared! The discovery is in the Elderslade region, not the Wo3P.
Agoroth & Woe of the Willow
These are the awesome new instances that can be run on 5 tiers. Useful drops only start on T3, which requires you to be at your stat goals. Both of these dungeons have various mechanics, and you should practice on T1 and T2 to start. You get better rewards on T4/T5, but T3+ should be run 2x per week to upgrade that Remmorchant armor. Check armor before you disenchant, some pieces are rather nice! No discovery required, only the questpack.
Amdan Dammul, The Bloody Threshold (Raid)
T1 is a very easy raid, and with a few adventurer's pieces, is very doable. Time of completion is 30-50 minutes, depending on the group. This resets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. T2+ is impossible to find on world chat, and is out of reach for many. However, T1 is an excellent introduction to raiding, and I would recommend running it a few times to see how raids work at 130 before you jump into the Remmorchant. The discovery is in the Wo3P region (not Elderslade).
The Remmorchant (Raid)
The Remmorchant is much harder than the Bloody Threshold, and it's not even close! This one is hard to do with world chat groups due to it's reliance on unforgiving mechanics and the need to work in tandem with the raid (discord 100% necessary). Most people just run the first boss and the sidebosses, which can be completed together in under an hour. For the full run with four bosses, expect to be there for ~2 hours. Resets work the same as the Threshold. Many people run the Remmorchant side bosses for the remaining set pieces (pants, shoulders, and helmet). These sidebosses are relatively easy, so if you see runs available, go for it! Once you get a fourth piece and upgrade it, you will have a 4-set! Congrats! If you complete a T1 full run, you can barter for a nice cloak with 2 essence slots, and a 2-essence necklace that is comparable to the one crafted by a jeweler. T2+ works similarly to the Bloody Threshold, and should only be attempted if you have a confident group. This one also requires discovery, which can be found in Torech Ungol.
Fall of Khazad-Dum (Raid)
This is the game's newest raid as of Update 30. It has no barter, so all possible loot must be acquired as random drops. Tier 1 is easily doable, and you can get legendary item titles, sub-par armor, and essence boxes. On T2+, this raid becomes very challenging and requires a large morale pool and high tactical mitigation. T3 has not been cleared on our server yet, but we're working on it!
Nice job on making it to the end of this guide! It should cover just about every aspect of the accessible endgame. If you want to go further (and there is much more to go), you really need to find a group to raid with, which doesn't mean leaving kin. Many kins allow ally raiders, and super hard raiding is mainly done through alliances of various people, so get busy making friends!
One thing I would like to stress though is that the material gain throughout the endgame is only half of the progression. The other half is you! To be successful and to have a great time, you have to know your class(es) thoroughly so that no matter what might happen, you're prepared. If you're a DPS or debuffer, this means practicing an effective skill rotation to dish out some nice damage or maintain debuffs at all time. I routinely practice on Fid's training dummy in the homesteads to improve my rotation and ultimately become a better rune-keeper! As a healer or tank, practice means running content. The best way to practice your role is with other people. Part of being a successful tank/healer is responding to pressure, which takes experience to overcome. Learn your role in combat! Are you healing, tanking, debuffing, doing damage? Successful raiding also means thoroughly knowing mechanics, which can be tricky to get a hang of at first.
I would also recommend focusing on one class at a time. Doing weeklies/dailies is another thing, but you should really find a main class, at least to start.
This is the information that I've compiled from my experience as a raider, and this is what I see as the most efficient path, but there are many routes a person can go, as well as differing levels of activity in the game.
If you have any questions or want advice on going further into the endgame, feel free to ask For or Fid