In this series, I talk about various aspects of The Lord of the Rings Online. This series is meant for newcomers, but may also help veteran players find more to love about the game.
Have you ever watched The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and wished you could experience the epic battle of Helm's Deep? There's good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you totally CAN be a part of that battle in The Lord of the Rings Online. The bad news is that to do so you have to partake in what are called Epic Battles. Love them or hate them, this entry details the basics about them so you can take your place as a hero among the Men of Rohan and Gondor.
What are they?
Epic Battles are a type of instance that were introduced with the Helm's Deep expansion. The first five were all part of the battle for Helm's Deep, with each focusing on a different part/area of the huge battle. Instead of just being a skirmish, there are elements of these Epic Battles that can be described as a strategic combat focus (the wiki's words, not mine -- but accurate).
In addition to fighting enemies as they come at you, and defending key points/areas, you are also put in charge of managing elements of the battlefield: directing soldiers, building and using siege weaponry or traps/barricades, or being a leader on the battlefield who inspires others by delivering deadly combo attacks against your enemy. There are main objectives to take care of in order to complete an Epic Battle, and there are additional side objectives for bonuses (as with some skirmishes).
If that sounds confusing (and I know it does), don't sweat it. When you are (a) an owner of the Helm's Deep expansion, and (b) reach level 10, you will receive mail asking you to come help. If you are level 10 when you dive into this, expect a bit of a challenge. Your level will be scaled up to 100, but it doesn't account for better armor sets or legendary items that a higher level character would have. Either way, you'll be given a tutorial on the various roles prior to your first foray into an Epic Battle. This tutorial instance isn't necessary to complete, but I recommend it to anyone who hasn't done an Epic Battle before.
As I mentioned above, there are five Epic Battles which comprise the Battle of Helm's Deep: Helm's Dike, The Deeping Wall, The Deeping-coomb, The Glittering Caves, The Hornburg. You can run all of these Solo or Duo, but only select ones will allow 3, 6 or 12.
As you progress onward to Gondor, you will find three more Epic Battles to participate in: Retaking Pelargir, Defence of Minas Tirith, Hammer of the Underworld. The first takes place in the port city of Pelargir where the Corsairs land. The latter two take place at Minas Tirith in different parts of the siege from Sauron's army. They can all be run Solo or Duo, with Defence also allowing 3, and the other two also allowing 6.
Accessing Epic Battles
You can find the Epic Battle window from the main menu or by pressing Shift-B. The Epic Battle window has 3 tabs: Battle Map, Promotions, and Battle History. You can launch the Epic Battles from the Battle Map or from the Instance Finder. The Promotions tab lets you trait your points into Roles (see below) and change your trait loadout just like your class trait trees so you can cover different needs in a larger group where the challenge is greater. The Battle History tab shows your achievements in Epic Battles. (Don't laugh at mine... Epic Battles just aren't for me.)
Roles & Promotions
There are three Roles to choose from in Epic Battles: Engineer, Officer, Vanguard:
Engineers focus on building traps, barricades, and siege weaponry -- sometimes relocating them mid-battle.Officers focus on issuing orders and bolstering the other two roles. Any ally NPCs with the text "awaiting orders" will take direction from Officers, like healing, boost damage, change stance, and prioritizing a new target.Vanguards focus on engaging the enemy directly. They get an additional UI panel with abilities to incite the enemy, manage a kill streak, and unleash fearsome attacks. A Vanguard falling in battle will also inspire those around them!
The more Epic Battles you run, the more promotion points you'll unlock to invest in whichever Role you choose. The better you are at your Role, the better you'll be at completing the main objectives and the more rewards you'll likely acquire for your efforts.
I'm definitely not the one to talk to about the rewards from Epic Battles since I pretty much only run each of them once as needed to progress the quest lines they're part of. There are a variety of rewards you can get at the end of the Battle depending on how well you did (which determines which medals you earn). Some of what you might get includes: jewellery, marks, medallions, stars of merit, universal solvent, stat tomes, supreme essence, symbols for crafting legendary weapons, steeds, and other items. I recommend checking out this wiki link to learn more about rewards.
There are lots of different guides and resources for Epic Battles now that they've been around for a while, so you can choose to read guides or watch videos -- whatever floats your boat. For the sake of keeping it simple, I'll provide just two links!
Away Shall Fade: (Little) Big Battle Guide (this is from my kin on Landroval! they're awesome!)
Wiki: War for Gondor Epic Battles (each page has walkthrough information and references)