Gearing up in Isengard or “Yay math!”
Draigoch armor set
Rise of Isengard shipped with one new armor set per class. The first four pieces (boots, gloves, chest, and legs) are available by bartering Superior Fourth Marks. The last two pieces (shoulders and helm) only drop from the Draigoch raid, thus this armor set is known as the “Draigoch set” or the “Dragon set.” I just hope they don’t shorten it like they did with the “Hele set” (Helegrod). I don’t want to be walking around in the “Drag set”…
Superior 4th Marks, or “S4Ms” as they are seen in chat, are granted upon completion of Challenge modes of any 3- or 6-man Classic instance and 12-man Skirmishes, sans Icy Crevasse and Attack At Dawn, and they are also found in chests at the end of those instances. Challenge modes grant 3 Superior 4th Marks apiece.
The armor set costs a total of 96 Superior 4th Marks, 18 each for the boots and gloves and 30 each for the chest and legs. This may seem like a lot, but considering that each Challenge mode grants 3, it doesn’t actually take as long.
Here are some of the most common instances to run:
School/Library (6 S4Ms)
Great Barrow “GB” (6 for Maze and Thadur, 9 if you do Sambrog, which is terribly buggy right now)
Halls of Night/Inn of the Forsaken “HoN/IoF” (6)
Annuminas Palace (3)
These all reset at 3:00 AM EST (-4 GMT).
Another option is to do a 12-man skirmish (3), which all reset on Thursday. You are not eligible for the loot or the S4Ms if you do it for a second time before it resets, however, you can still get the S4Ms from the chest, if there are any. You can see if you are eligible when you get in the instance by looking in your quest log and seeing if it has the Challenge quest under the Skirmish subsection.
A little math…
Taking all of this into account, doing 4 runs a day (about 2-3 hours), it will take three days to get both the gloves and boots, and five days for both the chest and legs. If you do more runs, or get some S4Ms from chests, then that will accelerate it considerably.
Lastly, there is an option to get more S4Ms from upgrading Veteran’s Fourth Marks (available from 6-man+ sized instances) or Fourth Marks (from solo and 3-man skirmishes). It will take 2506 skirmish marks and either 2 Fourth Marks or 1 Veteran’s Fourth Mark to get a Superior Fourth Mark.
Doing this solo would be extremely costly, as it would cost 240,576 skirmish marks to accomplish that. Given a daily quest in each solo skirmish at 75, you could complete all 18 skirmishes in one day and, assuming an average of 250 skirmish marks per skirmish, you could gain that many skirmish marks in around 53 days. You would also have to play around 8 hours a day, and that’s with no breaks, and only if you are really good and fast. Not a good option.
The armor has bonuses for each amount of the set equipped, except it has no 6-set bonus. That means you can wear five Draigoch and one other, and still keep all the bonuses of the sets.
Skirmish Drops and Chests
There are also really good armor pieces and jewelry drops in 12-man skirmishes and Classic instances. These armor pieces are so good, they might even replace a piece of the Draigoch set for certain situations. Loot tables are sectioned off by campaign, so the Bree skirmishes will drop different gear than the Late-Mirkwood skirmishes, which will in turn be different than the Early-Mirkwood skirmishes. There is a thread on the forums that has a list of a bunch of items. My Captain has already picked up several teal items, one of which I will definitely use instead of the Draigoch legs when I am tanking.
The thing I really like about the 12-man skirmishes dropping loot is the ease with which PUG raids get together, even on a relatively low-population server like Vilya. It seems like if I miss one raid, I just wait a few minutes and another one is starting. Gear is very good at making people come together.
Several excellent pieces of high-quality jewelry are available from the reputation vendors for Theodred’s Riders. They cost more than pretty much anything I have ever purchased from a vendor: 2 gold, 796 silver, and 80 copper. Still, they are solo friendly, non-crafter friendly pieces of jewelry that actually have huge numbers on stats. One bracelet has 92 might and 92 agility!
They are unique, so you can’t double up. There are also some nice armor pieces available, but they will be replaced very quickly, since they aren’t the quality we are seeing drop from even 3-man Classic instances. Good placeholders, but a little steep at ~1.5 gold. Unlike the jewelry, I wouldn’t invest in them.
On the plus side, the sellback values for these are awesome! I always feel a little depressed about selling jewelry to vendors, because they offer me 12 silver or some pathetic amount for a drop out of Dar Narbugud, and I’m like, “Do you know what I had to do to get this? I had to kill the Blind-one, one of the Mistress of Pestilence’s top lieutenants! And let me tell you, for a blind guy, he doesn’t die easily! Offer me at least 100!”
Crafted equipment is actually top-notch as well. For some situations, I will be wearing crafted armor in lieu of the Draigoch set pieces. For instance, for a morale-based build, there is a Theodred’s Riders crafted heavy chest that gives 87 Vitality, 302 morale, and 960 Finesse. The Draigoch chest for Captains gives 122 Might, and no extra morale or Vitality. Obviously, the former will be better for tanking, and the latter will be better for DPS and healing.
It should also be noted that like in previous expansions, the best recipes are only available through the correct rep; however, the guild recipes can be made with no rep whatsoever. The only hitch is those recipes require a teal crafted ingredient, such as High-quality Calenard Ingots, which in this case can only be crafted from skarn ore by a Prospector that is at least Friend status with the Men of Dunland. A little tricky, but if you have a source for the teal crafted ingredients, there will be no issues crafting guild recipes.
And of course, the Legendary Item grind. The new 2nd age level 75 items require a Worn Symbol of Celebrimbor.
I wish that we could just get that from detaching the shinier Symbols of Celebrimbor from our old 2nd Agers and scraping them with sandpaper, but alas, we have to do something a little more grind-y for it. They are a guaranteed one-time deed reward from completing Draigoch on Tier 1 and Tier 2 Challenge, and they also drop from any raid sized Instance, including Skirmishes, Classics, and Draigoch himself.
There is also the wonderful grind that accompanies a shiny new weapon to obtain various scrolls. Greater Scrolls of Empowerment and Greater Scrolls of Delving are the new accessories for Legendary Items. Greater Scrolls of Empowerment can be bartered from the Legendary Items vendor at Skirmish Camps, but they will cost you a Superior 4th Mark and 2600 skirmish marks. That is way better than Greater Scrolls of Delving, however, which at the moment are not anywhere in the game except Relic-masters, and they cost ~7000 shards to create. Turbine has noted this as a known issue, as the Scrolls were simply “forgotten” when Isengard shipped. The will be added into the game in Update 5, which will most likely be in December.
This summarizes the main ways to get gear in the new expansion. Primarily, if you can take the lag, I would run as many 12-man skirmishes as you can, for the S4Ms, the Worn Symbols of Celebrimbor, and the gear that drops. Good luck on rolls, and I will see you in game!