Translating the Ring: LOTRO Classes

February 26, 2013

New Player Advice, Opinions

This guest post was submitted by Miresgalon of Landroval. Miresgalon is an old hand when it comes to MMOs. Constantly looking for wrongs to right and evils to slay he now roams Middle Earth in search of a home, which apparently comes with an upkeep cost." 


These few write ups are intended to help new players starting out in Lord of the Rings Online, but I’m also hoping a few older players will find it helpful as well. I’m not here to tell you where to go and what to kill, rather I’ll make sure you’re looking out for certain things and to hopefully not make the same mistakes that I and others have made. For this purpose I’m going to be mostly referencing World of WarCraft. It’s a good Rosetta stone for most MMOs since so many people have played it. I’ll mention other MMOs if it’s a better fit.

My main focus, for today, will be on classes. How they are compared to other games and how they differ. At the end I will give you a quick list so you can easily refer to it if needed. I start each description with the facts, I’ll end each one with my opinion I’ll put them in Italics so you can separate them a bit better.

Burglar iconBurglar is your rogue. Stealthy, trick some, backstabbers. They are a melee DPS class with more support features than their WoW counterpart. They have quite a few debuffs and crowd control abilities that can be use in a fight. I love rogues, but like most classes that can’t double as a tank or healer I feel guilty playing them. However the way LotRO sets them up I think I could play one to end game. All the DPS half the guilt.

Captain iconCaptain doesn’t have a good comparison in WarCraft, closest I could come up with was a Paladin that has stolen the Warlock’s pets. However it felt very close to Warhammer Online’s White Lion class. They are a melee DPS/Tank class with buffs, heals and a pet. They can also do some mean AoE DPS. In this respect when tanking it reminded me of an old school Paladin tank, you could also compare them to Jedi Shadow/Sith Assassin tanks. Back in Burning Crusade I was a tanking paladin, and was my preferred type of tank. The Captain brought back that play style in me, this is my secondary character in game.

Champion iconChampion is another DPS class. Think dual wielding fury warrior, though the Old Republic Sith Marauder/Jedi Sentinel classes seems like a better comparison. Up in your face DPS at its best. I’ve played a fury warrior to cap (back in WotLK), this feels very similar. Except they forget to give you that armor upgrade.

Guardian iconGuardian is your Tank class. Heavy armor, shield, and the need to keep others from harm. Think Protection Warrior. While DPSing it felt more like a Two-handed Fury Warrior, or maybe even a Death Knight. Either way a very solid class that could still dish out the pain. Now most MMOs that rely on the ‘Big Three’ have this class in one form or another. I think it’s a good thing, I’d rather someone know how what they are getting into right from the bat. That fury warrior I mentioned earlier, yep I tanked with him too. It wasn’t the best fit for my play style but I enjoyed it all the same. I’ve also played a Death Knight, and if you liked tanking as one this is the class for you. Just think how many times you wanted a shield on that guy, now you get one.

Hunter iconHunters, like their WoW counterparts, are a long range DPS class. No pets in this version. They do get some melee skills, which include the ‘stab a guy with an arrow then shoot him with it at point blank range’. Oh that’s brings up another good point, there isn’t a DEAD ZONE. While you do have close combats skills you can still shoot people while they swing at you. I like the WoW Hunters, and these feel the same. They are a fun DPS class. They also have a few perks like the Wayfaring skill line. Those skills remind me of the Wizard, or I guess the Druid would be a better fit, from Everquest.

Lore-master iconLore-Master is your mage, but wait there’s more! You get a pet, and while you are a DPS class at heart, you can also heal. I would say they are like priests but I never got that feeling off them. They felt more like a Warlock at first, with the pet and pet heals. As you get along in levels it really feels like you’re a mage. Why do I say Mage instead of Warlock right off the bat? Well if you played Dungeons and Dragons or really any fantasy based table top system you’d know that mages get familiars. That’s what the pet system feels like here, not demons you’re enslaving, rather animals that come when you ask. In all honesty it’s the same system, just coming from another angle.

Minstrel iconMinstrel is another class that doesn’t have a good WoW comparison. Again it’s a ‘clothy’ DPS/Healer class. It should scream Priest to me. But it doesn’t, first reason is it has melee abilities. Second reason is the way their abilities play out. If you played Everquest this is the Bard class. Not only because of the class’ musical abilities but while in combat you can have up to three musical buffs/abilities in play at the same time. This really felt like an easy song twisting mechanic. Back when I played EQ, I hated the Bard class. Song twisting plus running around plus kitting, no thank you. Give me a Necromancer any day. Now with that being said, I like the Minstrel. I like the musical buff system, I like how they feel over all.If you played the Bard class and liked it, give this a try. If you did and didn’t like it give it a try anyways.

Rune-keeper iconThe reason I said both the Lore-Master and the Minstrel are not the Priest is because of the Rune-Keeper. Not only is it the ‘clothy’ DPS/Healer set up, but it has the Shadowform mechanic built in. As you do damage you get better at it but lose most abilities to heal. Same goes for healing, the more you do the less damage attacks you have at your disposal. There are abilities that help you bring you back to neutral in a fight if you need, you also start most fights neutral as your ‘attunement’ bleeds off like a Warrior’s rage out of combat. I loved my priest in WoW. I love my Rune-Keeper, he’s my main. I can’t say enough about this class. Though it does have flaws, it’s a ‘clothy’ and you will not have your trusty bubble to keep out most of the damage. Also your attunement bleeds off really fast, which means you either have to start another fight before you finish your current one, or not cast your big spells. This can be a really pain when you’re trying to unlock some of your class deeds.

Warden iconWardens are another Tank class. They remind me of Paladins as they can self buff and heal. However they have a mechanic called, the gauntlet, that reminds me of Vanguard’s Disciple. You have several ‘combos’ to use while in combat. This is where your buffs and heals come from as well as taunting. These combos can also debuff your enemy as well as land a large hit. I’ll be up front with you. I did not like this class. The gauntlet system seemed more like a burden than a class perk. Which is weird because I liked it on the Disciple. It could have something to do with the fact that I had planned on making mine a tank, and with all the things you have to worry about as a tank, a class ‘perk’ shouldn’t be one of them. I’d say try it out see if you like it. Just because it’s not my cup a tea doesn’t mean you won’t love it.

Well that’s the basic run down of the classes. Hopefully this will help you figure out which classes you want to try out. Keep in mind the Warden and the Rune-Keeper are not part of the Free to Play.

Quick List

  • Burglar = Rogue
  • Captain = Paladin
  • Champion = Warrior (Fury)
  • Guardian = Warrior (Protection)
  • Hunter = Hunter
  • Lore-Master = Mage
  • Minstrel = Bard (Everquest)
  • Rune-Keeper = Priest
  • Warden = Paladin
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26 Responses to “Translating the Ring: LOTRO Classes”

  1. Tiran Blade Says:

    Very well done for the most part, a bit of a correction though on the warden, it’s Gambit not Gauntlet, other than that a pretty good comparison.

    Reply

  2. Rovold Says:

    Besides Tiran’s correction on the gambit, I would add that the warden has almost no skills, only gambits, and the payoff for memorizing them and having to bang them out (with shortcuts as you level and trait, see masteries) is that almost none of them have cooldowns (curse update 9 and its interrupt cooldowns). What other class can melee DPS, ranged DPS, tank, and do backup group heals or actually lower threat for the group when necessary, on command, over and over, and often without requiring a retrait when you’re in a pinch? That’s what you get for your trouble, the most versatile class (arguably) in the game. The main drawback is that it is hard to become the best in any of these fields; the warden is the jack of all trades and master of none (and I say this as a passionate level-cap warden who wants to tank everything). Darn medium armour and mitigation caps.

    Reply

    • Xica Says:

      Honestly i would not agree with u in this.

      We can be the very best tanks… yes we have medium armor, BUT we can buff our avoudances (block, parry, evade), i myself buffed up to 76,8% avoidances on a saruman t1 run on lvl 75 (endgame raid where avoidances are reduced)… according to combatanalisys.

      The class is very hard to learn, and there is always something new that u not know, also these things make u stronger as u learn them.

      Also our melee dps role is a very serious one, as we can use 3 set bonuses after u 10, i myslef will get +50% “Dot” damage, and +20% dmg to all dps gambits (including dots)…. that will be brutal… not to mention that for a short time we will have 2 staat what will increase our damage (while other classes have 1).

      Also the third role… erm the developers begun to work on it.. but its halfway complete. So it has limited use… :P

      If u seek a true melee class what can kill anything (ok… near anything) on his own, tank, dps, support his fellow with buffs, AND dont fear to learn gambits to achieve these goals then warden class is for u.

      Reply

      • Rovold Says:

        I was merely trying to say that the warden is the most versatile class in the game, but I thought it safe to put in a caveat because it wasn’t designed to do everything a guardian does; wardens tank differently, which I believe was your point.

        You can buff everything you like; avoidance is a chance, mitigation is a percentage decrease. Sometimes you’re going to get hit hard. Wardens can be fantastic tanks, but most raid leaders I’ve met only remember that their combat log said they got hit once for 6K or 7K, and that means they’d rather have a champ tank than a good warden. Is that right? No. Is it the way the world works? Often. And when you finally get the chance to prove otherwise… random numbers are always looking for an opportunity to kill us.

        Reply

    • Zide Zwipe Says:

      The Warden trades Power and Versatility with difficulty. No other class in this game or any other game I know of and have played has to remember many 2 to 5 move combinations just to execute strikes or heals. But the tradeoff is that it is spectacularly powerful.

      My only real quarrel with the Warden is the last major Warden Revision made the specific traited roles more powerful, but took away from general versatility. It made several gambits more powerful, and some less powerful to the point that only specific gambits and gambit attack orders are useful to specific trait lines.

      Reply

  3. Nakiami Says:

    > [Captain] can also do some mean AoE DPS

    ???

    A captain has three AoE skills: Pressing Attack, which is 2-target unlegacied; Routing Cry, which has a 45-second cooldown; and Fighting Withdrawal, which is only useful for popping wargs out of stealth.

    Reply

    • Joshua Says:

      Not to mention TERRIBLE DPS in every situation. Single-target, we’re like 3/4 of the way to an OP Guardian.

      Reply

    • Sir Appleton Says:

      agreed with the 2 above me, saying that cappy can do mean (AoE) DPS means you never played the class.

      Reply

    • Emachine Says:

      Yeah, I’m going to have to jump on this train. The cappy assessment was way off. To describe us as a melee DPS/Tank with … misses the mark completely.

      Also mentioned the Mini having melee abilities? You mean ability? 1 ability?

      Reply

      • Rorgg Says:

        Well, there’s one ability, and … a second ability that buffs and refreshes the first one!

        Um, yeah.

        If you’re looking for analogues in various games, this is a bit restrictive, why not open up your comparison pool a bit? A cloth-based class throwing out fireballs and kind of pet-dependant… The EQ Mage fits that pretty darn weell. And I think a few people played that for a while.

        The RK best reminds me of the Mentalist from DAoC, with Mintrel – DAoC Bard being an obvious comparison as well as a music-based primary healing class. Last I looked, DAoC had something crazy like 45 classes. They might have matches from some of the tricky ones.

        Reply

  4. Ayalinda Says:

    I’d be very careful about calling a loremaster a “DPS class at heart”. The LOTRO pure DPS classes have always been Hunter, Champion, Runekeeper. The Burglar has certainly closed the gap but if your intending to play the LM as pure DPS you may find people your grouping with resistant.

    While they can certainly wrack up some decent numbers they are certainly not the best. The true strengths of the lore master come from their debuffs, crowd control and power management abilities.

    Not to say you can’t play them that way, but if your coming to LOTRO wanting the light armour DPS class what your looking for is the Runekeeper not the Loremaster.

    Reply

    • Hugh Says:

      I would also add that for someone who wants to play the WoW-Mage in LOTRO, the loremaster is not what they’re seeking. I met several players who made the assumption “mage=loremaster” and were quite dissatified with their class choice. After a bit of asking why they enjoyed playing the mage (“long-range DPS!” and “porting!”), I steered them towards the hunter. Though doubtful at the beginning, they enjoyed this class a lot more.

      Reply

    • Avatar of Pinkfae
      Pinkfae Says:

      I would agree that the lore-master is not “at heart” a DPS class. I see them more as a buff/debuffing class “at heart”. I would compare the class to the Red Mage in Final Fantasy XI. Yes, a quasi-mage, but more like one that buffs and debuffs rather than throw out the damage.

      Reply

    • Ravanel Says:

      ^ This.

      A lore-master is definitely not a DPS class at heart! Sustained single-target DPS is terrible. Sustained AoE is okay when traited (which is one of the 3 trait lines). The fact that the other two trait lines are for support should give a hint.

      The lore-master is a support class ‘at heart’, with the possibility to deal good damage under the right circumstances and with the right traits.

      Reply

  5. susan Says:

    a good rough guide for those just starting out and wondering what the classes are all about. Its isnt claiming to be the end all knowledge base of lotr, but rather what it felt to the author, and if i was choosing a class I would love to have this comparison to add to my own ideas of class types.

    Reply

    • Heth Says:

      I disagree. While they do have a lot more to offer than just DPS, when traited for Nature’s Fury (red line) LM’s do a crazy amount of DPS, and almost all of it AoE. They are essentially tactical Champs IMO. LM’S DPS is woefully underrated.

      Reply

      • baue8673 Says:

        Two problems with LM aoe dps. One, it comes pretty deep into the class’ leveling curve. It is not at all usuable early on. Second, it isn’t sustainable. You have some good burst, but then you are back to single target pretty quick. If it doesn’t die in the burst, you are hurting.

        Reply

    • Heth Says:

      I disagree. While they do have a lot more to offer than just DPS, when traited for Nature’s Fury (red line) LM’s do a crazy amount of DPS, and almost all of it AoE. They are essentially tactical Champs IMO. LM’S DPS is woefully underrated. I don’t have an RK at level cap, and I know they do a lot of DPS, but LM’s put out a hell of a lot of AoE DPS.

      Reply

      • Ayalinda Says:

        I’m not disputing LM DPS is very good, or even that they can do raids as a DPS. I’d happily take a skilled Loremaster over an average champion.

        What I am saying is if you are new to the game and looking for a class to play as a DPS class, you may be disappointed by the LM. If you compare experienced players, the difference in DPS with a Fire-traited runekeeper (which is really the Tactical AOE DPS), there will be a noticeable difference.

        Sure they make things die fast, but don’t mislead people into thinking they can achieve top tier DPS, if what you want is to hit the highest DPS you can, the loremaster is the wrong choice.

        Reply

  6. Avatar of Gene Jones
    Gene Jones Says:

    The one thing I don’t agree with is painting the RK as WoW’s priest. Minstrel is what you get playing Priest in WoW. Shadowform/Warspeech. The RK is much more akin to WoW’s Druid with different types of (elemental, mainly) DPS and heals that focus on HoTs rather than direct healing. I’m not saying RKs don’t have direct heals nor that Minstrels don’t have HoTs, but they’re obviously focused, Minis on direct and group heals, and RKs on HoT.

    Reply

  7. Banyan Says:

    People have already talked about how the warden description isn’t really right, so I’ll leave that alone.

    The other thing that is really misleading is “burglar=rogue.” A burglar played as straight DPS is basically an underarmored champion. It took me over 20 levels to realize I was playing my burglar wrong. A burglar is the games #1 debuffer (crazy stuns and dazes) and the class have 4 of the 11 abilities that start fellowship maneuvers. A good burglar in an organized fellowship basically determines when and how maneuvers (the most powerful abilities in the game) happen, throwing in some of the best crowd control besides the LM, and still turning out decent DPS. Unfortunately, there are huge numbers of former WoW rogues sneaking around trying to backstab, simply because they don’t understand the class.

    Also, a WoW Mage is must closer to a LOTRO hunter than anything else – massive nukes and taxi service.

    Reply

  8. Cobrette Says:

    Note to prospective Burglars… We are the least understood class. I would respectfully argue that Burgs are a Debuff class before DPS. And therefore the least likely to get chosen for a raid. Only the best raid leaders understand the amount of debuffing that Burgs can do. Most don’t notice when we are there, but they notice when we’re gone.

    You need to have extreme situational awareness to be an effect Burg in a group. You have to watch for corruptions that you can use Startling Twist, or be backup to your tank for interrupts with addle.

    ANd don’t get me started on Fellowship Manuevers, easily the least understood, most powerful mechanic in the game. When executed properly, a fellowship manuever can deal extraordinary amounts of damage, heal, and restore power at the same time.

    I play all classes and I would put Burglars 2nd hardest to play after Warden.

    Reply

  9. Thurinphir Says:

    probably the main problem with this is that, while Loremasters (and everyone else) CAN trait DPS (red line), that doesn’t mean they SHOULD or that it’s their best role

    I hope Miresgalon of Landroval recieves constructive advice and continues writing for A Casual Stroll to Mordor :)

    and for those wanting to start a warden, read these :D
    http://casualstrolltomordor.com/2012/04/the-new-warden-recklessness/
    http://casualstrolltomordor.com/2012/01/a-wardens-guide-part-3-potency-and-battle-memory/ (links to the previous 2 parts)

    Reply

    • Rorgg Says:

      I’d be very careful talking about what people “should” trait when playing a class, unless they’re stating their goals and looking for advice. In general, trait how you want to trait and just be upfront about it.

      I went back to 5R/2B on my Captain to level up to 85 after spending most of 75 at a 3R/2B/2Y hybrid build for grouping, and realized I didn’t really lose anything significant, so I stayed with it. A couple weeks ago I got recruited on my Cap to join a group doing Forges at 85. I liked doing that at 75, so I agreed. We had a Minstrel for healing, but he was slow entering the zone, so we started without him down the first hallway. Didn’t do a great job dealing with the snitch, so it was a little touch-and-go, but I managed to keep the group alive down to the door before the first boss. Still no minstrel. The leader asked if we should go with 5.

      “I wouldn’t recommend it,” I said. “I’m not HoH-traited, don’t know if I can keep us up by myself for this.”
      “You should trait heals,” says the Burg in the group.
      “Thanks. I’ll be telling you how to play your class later,” I replied a little caustically.
      “No, really. You don’t lose anything, and you can heal a lot better. Captains should trait heals.”
      …and that’s where I just quit the group.

      Reply

  10. Vanflicke Says:

    This is the BEST overview I’ve ever read for starting LotRO characters and picking toons. I loved the comparisons to other games, that is something that many guides/reviews neglect or it is done poorly. I’ve added it to our guild/kin forums for our players to reference.

    Thanks to Merric and Goldenstar for all the work you guys do.

    Reply

  11. Sigela Says:

    I appreciate the effort and intent in writing this comparison but I need to caution anyone unfamiliar with LOTRO from relying on it too much.

    Other posters have already made valid comments disputing some of the claims and I’ll second them.

    What I’ll add here is to build on some of the previous comments about when a class comes into certain skills being important. I’ll use my beloved LMs as an example.

    My primary point is that I think you can’t accurately describe any class as briefly as the original post. With the importance of class trait lines and the importance of choosing a stance minute-by-minute in the classes that have them as ways of designing your own character within a class or as a way of hopscotching between roles in a fight, a single class can sound simple in a paragraph but is in reality a very broad, very complex spectrum of available playstyles within each class and the entire game.

    Saying than an LM is a DPS class at heart really only pertains to the high-level LM deeply traited for red-line Master of Nature’s Fury. The LM playing the early levels has no indication that their DPS will mature into the end-game LM’s ability. Getting to level 40 and getting to wield a sword and then getting legendary traits make the mid-game levels into a massive turning point for the class. Traiting yellow line turns you into a different kind of player. I can trait deep yellow and take my LM into fellowships where I never use a damaging skill because I’m too busy making everyone else’s play better. Without me adding DPS, the rest of the fellow leverages my yellow line skills. Traiting blue line recasts you yet again. Traiting hybrid lines shoots your options into the stratosphere. Choosing to emphasize DPS is just choosing one of many paths to follow. Arriving at the place in the game where you can design and choose that path takes many levels.

    When you are level 18 with a smattering of skills and two pet choices in a raven and a bear as allies, you have a narrower range of options than when you have the full menu of level 85 skills and seven pets to choose as your ally.

    Beginner versus capped LM is an enormous journey in the game. To me, it feels as big as switching classes. People quit playing the class before they leave Bree because they feel weak and I have told literally dozens of young LMs that you have to stick with the class to really experience the class. The LM I played in Bree changed radically to become the LM I played in Moria and changed even more to become the LM I played in Dunland and now in Rohan.

    I’ve restricted my illustrations to lore-masters but I’ve played every class in the game and I think that similar illustrations could be made for every class. Talk to someone playing the class at level cap if you really want to know what a class can offer you.

    Thanks again to the OP for writing their article. It does good service to LOTRO and let a lot of people springboard into more thoughts that add value to the discussion.

    Reply

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