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Letter from Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini

Thank you for being a part of the Lord of the Rings Online community as we celebrate 11 years of adventure. Happy Elevenses! I'm writing today to let you know a bit about our plans for the rest of the year and beyond, and hint at some exciting announcements you can expect to read more about in the future.
We've been enjoying exploring Northern Mirkwood, the "There" part of "There and Back Again". We plan to continue our expansion of the broader region throughout the year. We will also be using 2018 to work on classes, festivals, and quality of life improvements based on your feedback and suggestions (including, in a near update, the ability to see sheathed musical instruments). 
Let’s look ahead to Update 23! We will be journeying to the Lonely Mountain, and from there following the eastern paths to the Iron Hills, and north to the Grey Mountains. We're excited to put these important parts of Dwarf culture and history on the map. Update 23 will also come with an instance cluster and, later in the year, a new raid. Our new instances will be designed for both groups and solo players, allowing everyone to see the storyline that unfolds in those instances. Full groups will also be able to enter into the more dangerous tiers of these adventures. The new landscape has 80 new quests, and the Black Book of Mordor will continue its story into these new regions. Update 23 will also increase the level cap to 120.
Beyond Update 23, we have some threads to tie off before we are done with North Rhovanion, including Gundabad, the Vales of Anduin, and landscape contiguity with Lothlórien. You may recall that I initially talked about plans to bring you Minas Morgul in my letter earlier this year. We've re-evaluated that plan, and have shifted the Morgul Vale (with Shelob) into 2019. We have big plans for Minas Morgul, and are shifting its release out slightly to allow for an expanded vision of the content.
One of the longer-term requests we have heard from you is a desire to take a holistic look at our ten classes. This is a challenge for our relatively small team, so we had to take a look at how best to bring this to you. Instead of a comprehensive overhaul of each class, one at a time, we will instead make targeted adjustments to many classes at once, and continue these incremental improvements over future updates. This allows us to improve all of our classes in a shorter time frame and better balance power and group utility in a more responsive way. You can expect the first wave of class adjustments to happen in the coming months, and continue for some time to come. 
Speaking of shorter-term plans, we will be bringing you something new this summer: Seasonal Instances! Two Instances will be added, which will run during the duration of the Summer Festival. First, we are remastering Thrang from the Rift of Nûrz Ghâshu as a standalone, scaling Fellowship Instance. Secondly, we are introducing "A Perfect Picnic", a Festivity Instance that allows groups of varying sizes (including solo players) to enjoy a challenge at their level. Our Festival plans don’t end there, and we will be adding to the Harvestmath Festival as well, although the Boffins have suggested we not reveal more at this time. 
There are several significant initiatives that are still in the planning stages, so I can’t reveal details today. Expect to hear exciting things throughout the year and beyond! Thank you again for taking part in this journey through Middle-earth with us, and I will write more in the future.

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