LOTRO’s second 12-man raid, the Rift of Nûrz Ghâshu, was launched in October 2007, together with Epic Book 11. It is still regarded as both the most interesting and best designed of all the game’s raids, as well as the most challenging – not least because it had no fewer than nine successively harder bosses, culminating in Thaurlach the Balrog. We spent hours and days slowly learning the fiendish mechanics, and probably spent more time overall in the Rift than in all the other raid locations put together.
As confirmed by the earliest TWA raid image in my possession, our raid team had made it to Thaurlach’s very threshold by 11 February 2008; the team members are identified on the image, and you will recognise several names amongst them who are still active raiders with the kin today. However, the hardest part was yet to come: it took just under five months of trial and error before we were finally able to kill Thaurlach for the first time, on 2 July 2008. The second image shows the raiding team in front the Rift trophy outside the kinhall; this is perhaps the only surviving image showing the formal TWA kinship uniform of the time, which was never really popular and has long since been abandoned.
We continued running kinship raids in the Rift for a long time, partly in order to take along kin members other than the original raiding team and partly because apart from putting together full sets of Rift armour, some of Thaurlach’s drops were particularly sought after – namely, the cloak Wig-Feld (which you can still see worn cosmetically by some of our members) and the epic (gold) items such as the Lash Fragment pocket item, still with us today in its third iteration. The third image shows the Thaurlach fight in September 2008.