[Top 10] LOTRO Best Instances And Why They're Great

best instances LOTRO
What's in the box?!

Everyone in LOTRO is already playing the popular endgame raids... But what about some old forgotten gems?

Where is everybody? I wanna kill some mobs!

Good day to you, fellow Middle-Earthers! As you probably well know, LOTRO is all about the community.

Like with any community, good relationships within it are built through shared experience!

And what better way to share blood, sweat, and tears with other residents of Middle-earth, your friends, or kinnies, than...instances?!

If fellowing is your cup of tea, (which it probably is since you're playing an MMO), you're in luck because LOTRO offers an abundance of dungeons and instances to delve into, conquer both your fear and doubt and the big bad boss. And finally, get that awesome loot that's gonna kick your dopamine through the roof!

However, like many long-lasting MMOs, LOTRO has one issue concerning instances. Much of LOTRO's player-base consists of long-term players who've spent years and years in the endgame, catching up quickly to whatever content developers release. This creates a little vacuum when it comes to which instances are being played the most, with many players doing only max-level ones, while some older gems are being a little neglected.

Don't let that discourage you, though! The LOTRO community is beyond warm and welcoming and they'll answer your suggestion for any instance, for nostalgia sake, if nothing else!

Therefore, we're going to focus on the all-time great instances, some of which may not be the most played at the moment. Maybe, after reading this, you'll go and assemble your own crew, and relieve one of these dungeon masterpieces.

10) Skirmish - Trouble in Tuckborough

Reclaim the Shire!

I feel a little touchy-feely at the very mention of this Skirmish. I spent so many hours with my kinnies doing this Skirmish instance that lets you relive the events of the retaking of the Shire from Saruman and his armies who had invaded it.

It has everything - capturing flags, fighting waves of enemies, rushing through the Shire, freeing it one street at a time while the sun is coming up. And finally, the end boss! Everything about this Skirmish works.

Oh and yes, if Skirmish is a concept unfamiliar to you (it is a bit forgotten these days), you should try every Skirmish out! This Instance system allows you to have your soldier, who you level, dress, name, and teach skills of different designated roles, before taking them into the fray! The rewards are outdated, and you can get much more Marks and Medallions from some other instances, but the setting and the overall vibe of a Skirmish are more than enough to make you satisfied!

Oh, and I'll be mentioning more than one Skirmish, as I'm quite fond of the old thing.

Why Trouble in Tuckborough Is Great:

  • Like any Skirmish, it's scalable, which means you can adjust the level of the instance to your current level.
  • It also has Tiers that designate how challenging the instance will be. Even these days, T3 would be a challenge!
  • It's based on the epilogue of the story of The Return of the King and the freeing of the Shire by our Hobbit protagonists.

9) The Great Barrow Instances

Sambrog, or as players like to call him... Sammy!

This trio of instances consists of three dungeons in the Barrow-downs - The Maze, Thadur, and Sambrog. Each dungeon follows the epic story of Shadows of Angmar, the vanilla LOTRO, in which the Witch-king of Angmar has returned to the lands of Arnor and re-enacted his malicious corruption of the Barrow-white tombs. Each dungeon is one of those tombs with unique Barrow-white bosses. These instances are scalable, diverse, and represent the core of the original LOTRO experience. I may be putting this one on the list out of nostalgia too, but I stand by my statement. If you haven't done the Great Barrow, you haven't experienced real LOTRO.

Why The Great Barrow Instances Are Great:

  • They let you experience the vibe of LOTRO instances from a very early level.
  • They have a great design and setting.
  • They have diverse tasks, fun bosses, and good loot for the early level.

8) The Road to Erebor Cluster

Every adventure should have giants! Bilbo would agree.

This instance cluster came out with the Riders of Rohan expansion. These instances diverge from the main Rohan story and explore several events that happened during the War of the Ring on some of the key locations from Bilbo's journey in the Hobbit. The cluster consists of three 3-person instances: Iorbar's Peak, Seat of the Great Goblin, and Webs of the Scuttledells, as well as one 6-player instance called The Bells of Dale. The real treats are the 12-player raids: Flight to the Lonely Mountain, The Fires of Smaug, and The Battle of Erebor. Every instance is scaling, has its' own story, its' own separate thing and it's compelling that each event takes place at one of the pivotal locations from the story of the original road to Erebor.

Why The Road to Erebor Is Great:

  • There is an abundance of instances for all kinds of fellowships and raids.
  • Every instance from this cluster is one of the most beautifully designed settings in LOTRO. Even with the LOTRO's outdated graphics (by today's standards), these instances look breathtaking.
  • Every instance has a unique task and offers fun gameplay!

7) The Annuminas Cluster

The Ancient Tomb...

There are several reasons for this instance cluster to be on this list. One, they explore the rich lore of the kings of Arnor, Aragorn's forebears, and Annuminas, the great capital of the ruined kingdom. Two, the instances are a culmination of a deep, well-written, and immersive story of the Evendim region and the Dunedain men that live and fight for their heirloom there.

Three, like Evendim itself, the setting is gorgeous, the mobs fun, and the story compelling!

The cluster consists of three 6-person instances: Glinghant, Ost Elendil, and Haudh Valandil.

I won't spoil anything. Just find your fellowship, and play these gems.

Why The Annuminas Cluster Is Great:

  • They have a good plot, and one very original boss (no spoilers here).
  • The old city is beautifully designed.

6) Isengard Cluster

How did anybody believe that Saruman is nice?! Look at that face?!

As you might have noticed, most of these instances are scalable. I like having the option to adjust the level of an instance so it always feels fresh, offers the player a challenge, and keeps one's senses engaged.

This is one of the few non-scaling instances that have found their way to this list. I strongly dislike the non-scaling thing that LOTRO is doing, as I feel that every instance should be adaptable to all levels above a certain level.

However, not even this big flaw of the Isengard instances could remove them from this list. This is one of the greatest instance clusters in the game. It has 3-person instances (Fangorn's Edge, Dargnákh Unleashed, and Pits of Isengard), 6-person instances (The Foundry), with the cherry on top - a 12-person raid (The Tower of Orthanc) culminating with the best end boss you can hope for - Saruman.

It doesn't get better than that.

The housing decoration rewards are to this day the most satisfying loot you can get, the instances are challenging and fun, and the lore is rich!

If this cluster was scalable, it would be the top 3 beyond doubt.

Why Isengard Cluster Is Great:

  • It has amazing loot.
  • It has an amazing final boss.
  • It's beautifully designed and with original gameplay.

5) Library and School of Tham Mirdain

The beautiful setting of Tham Mirdain...

The original 'let's get some gear' option before the epic battles came out. These instances were great for acquiring a stable solution for jewelry, cloaks, and all kinds of gear, if any of yours felt outdated, as well as good LI experience and runes.

I mean, what more could you want?

It's also set within the ancient Elven establishments from a time of Eregion's glory when Celebrimbor was executing his great work.

The instances offer decent loot, interesting mobs and bosses, and beautiful surroundings.

Why Tham Mirdain Is Great:

  • It's fun.
  • It's quick and easy.
  • It's profitable.

4) Skirmish - Survival

This place looks friendly, doesn't it?

I know I'm a real hipster with this one. But this is my favorite skirmish. It's so simple that it's just genius. Your fellows and you are put in a circle within the Barrow-downs, while waves and waves of your enemies are rushing towards you. The point is...survive for as long as you can. Each wave is harder than the previous, it's going to test your skills, your ability to cooperate, and it's going to feel epic, urgent, dangerous, and, by the end of it...deadly.

I love it! I'm putting it here with the intention that some of you, fellow Middle-Earthers are going to feel inspired and compelled to try it out for yourselves, and show it to your fellows and kinmates.

I guarantee good fun!

Why Survival Is Great:

  • It's a Skirmish.
  • It tests how good your skills are.
  • It has a record-breaking vibe to it, pushing you to keep trying, practice further, and work on your fighting technique.

3) Moria Cluster

Turning those mirrors was really annoying, but I kind of miss it now...

This is another non-scaling exception that cannot be ignored because of its beauty and the excitement it offers. Even though the Moria instances are not scalable, they always make you feel like you are fighting for your bare life.

Let's be honest, Moria is probably the best expansion LOTRO ever has and ever will have, its' story is deep and engaging. It tells the story of the struggles of the Dwarf expedition to reclaim their kingdom, as well as the turmoil within the enemy lines, between two factions - the Moria orcs, led by Mazog (the son of Azog whom you've seen in the Hobbit movies) and the White Hand orcs of Saruman. It's all intertwined with the mystery of the Fellowship's earlier passing through the dark mines, the veil of shadow surrounding the great fear of all Dwarves - Durin's Bane, and their hope of renewal and victory represented by their aspiration to retrieve the legendary Mithril ax - Zigilburk. All of these stories get their conclusions within the Moria instances, which there is an abundance of:

Full Fellowship (6-person):
[58] Dark Delvings
[58] Fil Gashan
[58] Skûmfil
[58] The Forges of Khazad-dûm
[54] The Forgotten Treasury
[56] The Grand Stair
[58] The Sixteenth Hall

12-person Raids:
[58] Filikul
[58] The Vile Maw

Each instance, without any exception...is a masterpiece.

Why Moria Instances Are Great:

  • They are epic beyond words.

2) Epic Battles

Epic battles are not forgotten at all, but I simply can't not mention them... So much fun! 

Epic battles have been a topic of conversation ever since they came out. Some people like them, some people don't.

I see no problem in having big settings that describe huge events from the War of the Ring, with massive armies, side-quests, medals describing your efficiency and skill, as well as unique in-battle roles that you can choose, use, and improve. You can choose to be an engineer, an officer, or a vanguard, with each role having unique gameplay mechanics within the Epic Battles, that help you achieve victory easier and with more finesse.

The rewards are one of the most compelling elements of the Epic Battles, with good gear, amazing amounts of Marks and Medallions (which are always useful, especially for improving your imbued LI), and other miscellaneous items.

These instances will enable you to experience the huge battles in Rohan and Gondor that you've enjoyed reading about and watching as a young LOTR fan. I urge you to try some less played Epic Battles, not just Pelargir. You'll enjoy them immensely!

Why Epics Are Great:

  • They offer new and fresh gameplay.
  • They are cooperative, interactive, fun, and challenging.
  • They offer amazing rewards.
  • They feel big, and look awesome!

1) The Dol Guldur Cluster

That's the most awesome sight you'll ever witness in LOTRO!

By far, my favorite scaling instances.

Warg pens, a 3-person fellowship, are relevant to this day for acquiring certain gear, getting some XP, and having fun with buddies, Sammath Gul (a 6-person fellowship) has one of the most epic, dreadful ending scenes ever, with Sauron himself speaking directly to you while his blazing eye is scaring the bejesus out of you, all the while you have to fight Gorothul, one of the main villains from the first epic story.

You'll also get to see the Sword-hall of Dol Guldur (3-person) and Dungeons of Dol Guldur (6-person) and fight to get away from those places with your head on your neck.

Finally, there's Barad Guldur and the scariest boss of this game. I'll never forget facing Khamul, the Black Easterling for the first time. And neither will you.

This instance has the best boss of them all and it is by far the best there is.

Why Dol Guldur Is Great:

  • It's epic, fun, and challenging.
  • It looks eerie and cool at the same time.
  • It has the best bosses in LOTRO.

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Before he migrated to Middle-Earth, Matija was born in Serbia, a green country full of mountains. It's probably the reason he loves dwarves so much (that and their shared love of ale).
Gamer Since: 1999
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Lord of the Rings Online, The Witcher Enhanced Edition, Guild Wars 2, Mount & Blade Warband, Smite, Heroes of Might & Magic V, Call of Cthulhu
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