The last time I played my Minstrel, I said that I would put her aside until I reached 75 on my warden and Lore-master. While I leveled my warden immediately, I decided to level my minstrel to 60 before leveling my lore-master to the new cap.
Since the last time I played the minstrel, the class was overhauled. Therefore, the first thing I needed to do was my class quest. Not just the quest to get items from all over the map but also the quest to learn how the new Minstrel system worked.
If you want to learn about the class from someone who actually knows how to play it, then I recommend that you read Vraeden’s articles on the updates: First Impressions: The Minstrel in RoI and The Minstrel in RoI, Part 2.
There are now three Minstrel stances: Melody, Harmony, and War-speech.
The Melody (or healing stance) is simply the default stance (there is no requirement to enter the stance and you automatically enter this stance if you drop one of the other stances). In this stance, the Major ballads and codas generate healing rather than damage. It’s perfect when for you plan to concentrate on healing.
War-speech is still the main damage stance. There is one important change in war-speech in the Isengard update: the morale healing skills are now at full-strength but may only be used on the caster. This makes War-speech the obvious choice in soloing (where you only need to heal yourself) and a very bad choice if you are the main healer of a raid.
Harmony is a middle ground: Major Ballads and codas inflict damage as they do in War Speech and you are able to heal your allies as in Melody stance. You don’t have access to the most powerful damage spells but you can still contribute to the overall damage in the fight. This is a new stance to fill that niche where you will be expected to heal occasionally but otherwise will be helping to kill the enemy.
Prior to the release of Isengard, I rarely used anthems. I had trouble understanding them and their cool down times seemed too long. With the new system, that has changed.
Anthems generally have the same cool down times and durations. The exact duration and cool down times depend on your traits and legacies. If you activate a coda, all of the current ballads and anthems immediately end.
There are six anthems. Anthems have two effects: the primary effect that lasts while the anthem is active and the coda effect that activates if the coda is performed while the anthem is active. Sometimes I use an anthem for its primary effect and something I use it with the intention of activating its coda effect. Currently, my anthem duration is slightly longer than the cool down, so it is unlikely that I will have more than one active when I set off a coda.
Anthem of the Free Peoples
This is the healing anthem: it provides morale regeneration and a vitality bonus. This sounds like a useful anthem for group runs. In solo skirmishes, I mainly use it during elite encounters to help my soldier stay up longer.
It also adds a self-HOT when a coda is performed.
Anthem of Compassion
This is the threat-reduction anthem: while it is active you generate less threat. I have a protector as a soldier and I am hard-pressed to pull anything off him if I tried, so I rarely use this anthem. I can see this anthem being more useful in a group, especially when performing a large amount of healing.
If the coda is performed while this is active, then the coda generates no threat.
Anthem of the Third Age
This anthem varies depending on your stance.
You receive a 10% bonus to outgoing healing and -25% in skill inductions. This sounds most useful when your tank is taking heavy damage and you need to work to keep them up. I can only hope that you have a lore-master feeding you power as you are likely to burn through it quickly.
A coda will also allow you to cast Bolster Courage with no induction (10-second window).
You receive a -20% reduction to anthem costs. On a critical hit with the coda, this anthem is reapplied.
I must admit that when I first read this I thought that this form was completely useless. At the time, my anthem cool down was longer than my anthem duration, so it seemed that you would only gain a benefit if you gained a critical hit during the coda. Actually, I still see little use in this stance since you have to pay for this anthem before you can benefit from the cost reduction.
This grants +10% call damage and it refreshes Call to the Second Age when you fire the coda. This is one of my most common anthems in War Speech. I activate the anthem and perform my calls. Against normal mobs, I will generally hit the coda at this point as I want the mob to live long enough to allow me to benefit from firing the coda (Call to the Second Age has a fairly long cool down otherwise). Against a signature or multiple mobs, I will generally allow the fast calls to come back up for a second round before firing off the coda.
Anthem of War
This provides a bonus to melee, ranged, and tactical damage. This is useful in those trash fights where it is better to provide the group more offensive punch than to heal. Any coda you perform will have an increased critical rating.
Anthem of Composure
This anthem provides a bonus to resistance and tactical mitigation. This is a situational anthem.
In solo runs, I generally find myself using this for the coda effect rather than the primary effect. The coda performs a power over time restoration on the caster and there are times when I need all the power I can get.
Anthem of Prowess
This anthem grants a -10% attack duration bonus and increases armor value and evade rating.
This is another anthem that I use more for its coda effect than primary effect as it activates Noble Cause. In group runs, though, I see it being more useful for the primary effect.
The following skills are earned in this level range (levels 45-59):
- Call to the Fellowship (46) – If a minstrel is expected to pop this when there is a fellowship maneuver, I can understand why minstrels prefer to be at the end of the maneuver chain.
- Gift of the Hammerhand (48) – This gives the target a 10-second damage bubble. This seems most useful when you need to give someone a little extra time for you to cast a heal.
- Irresistible Melody (50) – I’m not fond of forced emotes so I don’t have it on my taskbar.
- Call to Greatness (50) – This is a rather complicated fellowship-oriented skill.
- Improved Herald’s Strike (52) – Adds corruption removal to Herald’s Strike. Nice.
- Improved Cry of the Chorus (54) – Changes the components from a Perfect Ballad to a Major Ballad. I do not know what makes this “improved” as opposed to “different.”
- Call to Fate (56) – A third War Speech call to add to your DPS punch.
- Tale of Frost and Flame (58) – I’ll need to keep this in mind when I run Dannenglor.
My minstrel is a scholar. I must admit that I had a great deal of trouble leveling the lower scholar tiers. I ultimately used the auction house to master them. I had no need to do that in the Supreme tier as Moria included the mother lode of scholar nodes. I also except to have little trouble at the Westfold Tier, where the items drop at a reasonable rate from humanoid mobs.
Now that I have a plentiful supply of scrolls, I am starting to use the scrolls for important situations. I still need to learn to use them more routinely, though.
I also need a decent supply of food. While I rarely need the morale regeneration from the food, I find the power regeneration very helpful.
In this range, I have two legendary slots. For one of them, I slot Cry of the Wizards. I find the associated skill most useful when running in Harmony stance (as I don’t have access to my call skills).
I have not earned the remaining solo-friendly legendary traits so I decided to also equip Rally.
At the start of this range, I was wearing the Fém armor set. All of this was replaced by quest armor well before I hit 60.
I also started the range wearing the Angmar jewelry set. The difference is that I didn’t find a single thing in Moria that tempted me to break the set. I had an ample number of quests in Moria so I didn’t even consider using the experience pocket item.
I continued to use my drum throughout this level range.
Despite the rather poor behavior of the melee soldiers since the release of Isengard, I decided to stick with my protector. Fortunately, the protector seems to take its name seriously enough that it will attack any mobs that dares to hit me (except those pesky Echoes of Death, of course).
Remember that one of my main purposes of skirmishes is to get practice healing. Minstrels more concerned with getting through skirmishes quickly often use an herbalist and always run in War Speech.
Near the end of this level range, I ran the three Moria skirmishes. I do not recall anything remarkable during these runs – I just continued with the epic line after completing them.
The rest of the skirmishes I ran were those earned in earlier level ranges. Most were solo runs, though I did run three duos with a kinmate.
I did not attempt to run Survival: Barrow Downs, even though it is introduced in this level range. It is not a soloable skirmish and I can’t see a minstrel kiting a gang of mobs around the Dead Spire. I will look at this skirmish again when I have an opportunity to try it in a group.
I tend to run most skirmishes in Harmony. I need to keep my soldier healed but I also need to contribute to the damage output. I prefer to run the lighter defensive skirmishes (Pony and Amon Sûl) in War Speech as my soldier rarely needs healing in those.
I would really like to continue with my minstrel but I think it is high time I got my lore-master to 75. Never fear, as soon as my Lore-master is leveled, I will be back to my Minstrel as she attempts to face the terrors of Mirkwood.
May your shield protect you and your spear never break,