Also, one more item has been added to my Residences to Buy Once I become a Dark Queen, aside of Barad Gularan: Dol Guldur!
I would be having a really hard time deciding which would become my Main Residence, if it was not for the whole awesomeness that is Mirkwood to accompany the latter. And the awesome Dark Gothic Castle Tower on the South edge of Dol Guldur. I am totally in love.
I've also enjoyed the storyline immensely. I laughed at how silly elves and dwarves are thinking any Servant of the Enemy would fairly trade one of his own kind for Freep prisoners in their custody... And when 6 Elves (including me) and a Dwarf show at their stronghold's gates. Stronghold! Of the Enemy! LOADS OF FORCES! 7 Freeps! Even just looking at the encounter, contra 3 Nazguls, one Master Sorcerer Black Numenorian, several elite Archers, at least 3 Trolls and others..!
I still LOL thinking about it ^^
My pessimism about Skirmishes also proved (mostly) void. They are fun and not that grindy (unless you want them to be). I must say I quite enjoy the stories behind them and their random encounters. It's hard for me to appreciate them in solo mode however - it's dull, slow and Soldier's AI is a horror, but let's face it: I don't enjoy any solo aspect in MMORPG and AI is always a weak side of any game, so this point is negable.
In a fellowship however, the whole experience is simple awesome. The difficulty lever I encountered so far is fair (maybe aside from the Grims - WHY GRIMS, Devs, WHY?), rewards are decent.
But it's not all roses, of course.
For starters, some quests are extremely annoying to do, like the one when you have to kill 5 Huorns on the swamp, while there are 4 hostile in total, respawning every few minutes... (I'm so glad me and Rhy rushed to keep ahead of the crowds!)
Or 3 quests - regular quest line, epic book one and repeatable daily of great importance, of which the last one requiring 25 mob drops - all require killing same mob type in same place. In other words, there's no danger from spiders there anymore, because there are no spiders to be seen anywhere near. Only extremely annoyed players, some of them behaving highly unethically...
New mount system is an extreme relief for my storage, but brings on some annoyance while usage. The [Dismount] button is no more, instead to dismount players need to right-click on mount vitals and select appropriate option. Or bind this mount to a skillbar and use the skill. First option is not handy, second option only works to dismount from a mount summoned by used skill.
Unfortunately, Developers regarded lore as bendable enough to squeeze Rune-keepers in, but were not flexible realistically thinking enough to let horses be trained to enter Moria. Which means that for ease of use of two mount types (because I shall not be seen on a goat unless it can't be helped!) I'd need to sacrifice yet another skillbar slot (which is impossible, because I am already lacking those) or switch mount skills whenever I enter/exit Moria (also impossible because I have better things to do). Can I has my [Dismount] button back please?
While new mount system was a relief for my storage, along with the awesome Shared Storage feature, any gains due to those two were basically negated with the amount of Barter Items that came with SoM (and before). Skirmishes are especially to blame in here with the huge amount of (rarely dropping) Marks/Exclusive Campain Drops. At least Skirmish Points seem to stack indefenetly... but the rest is still a pain. Add 3-4 stacks of Bronze Feathers/Silver Branches, some Gold Leaves/Stars, Lothlorien Medalions and hell, I need to keep everything on my mules because my Storage is more full that it was before the Landing!
Oh, and about the annoyance that is Landing deeds... I really, really hope Turbine/Codemasters will do something about "Mirkwood Landing" deed that is (or was) uncompletable due to one of the quest chains being "disabled due to performance reasons" (or something along these lines). At least it doesn't grant a title or I would cry like a baby hobbit, but it's extremely annoying to come across a deed like that that can't be completed later on. I don't want this incapacitated deed in my Log! Complete it for me or delete it, but I don't want it there!
Returning to Barter Items for a bit, I absolutely love the fact that now everyone in the Raid gets a little reward from each and every boss chest. Unfortunately, while this distribution worked in 3/6 man instances, it fails in a full raid due to the chest loot mechanism. Only one person can be looking into the chest at any given time, which means that the whole raid needs to queue up for their reward. Barely noticeable with 3 people, hardly annoying with 6, extremely irritation with 12. How about putting those on boss' body so everyone can pick them at the same time?
And about raids - yes, the radiance gating is regrettably still there and doesn't seem to be going away. I wish I knew a way to force some sense into Turbine Devs, unfortunately I don't, nor most of the community seems to have any influence over this. Argh.
Now to get my Gothic Loremaster out into the Gothic Woods xD
I will add some screenshots to illustrate this post later. I couldn't hold it up any longer after writing it for two days!