June 29, 2020

Warden Blue Line Class Trait Analysis and Tank Build Guide

This is a Lord of the Rings Online guide on the blue line specialization for the Warden, Determination. The guides covers an in depth analysis of the spec with:
  • A background on Warden tanking and the blue line
  • Detailed breakdown and analysis on trait choices
  • Follow up with sample builds
This guide was updated during Update 28.2, in January 2021.
    - updated background and builds sections and fixed display issues.

This is the first LOTRO Basics guide using this format for trait analysis with the red line guide, coming in the future (week of June 29th, 2020) which will use a slightly altered format to compare the two. The table is inspired from Zonflux's Guardian Guide for U22 and Squirle's Beorning Guide.

Blue Line Warden Tanking and Building Background

Warden tanking is in a tricky spot nowadays. Back in the day, it was a viable tank spec during periods when avoidance based tanking - block, parry, and evade (BPE) - was impactful. In more recent years, tanking has come down to how large of hits can you survive, where mitigations and crit defence reign king as tanking stats. Wardens are a mobile, medium armour based tank with high evade rating (and overall BPE), but low mitigations (hard-capped at 50%, untraited and unbuffed, up to 55% unbuffed with traits).

Warden tanks are overall susceptible to large hits, crits, and stuns. They also do not have many emergency skills or long cooldowns that are valuable in mitigating instance mechanics. Lastly, they do not offer much fellowship support compared to other tanks. But, the good news for Warden tanking is they offer the highest DPS of all tanks. They also offer some of the best AoE tanking in the game, as long as they actually survive high damage attacks during the AoE.

In addition to the traditional tanking role, blue line Wardens have great self-sustain, able to consistently heal themselves during combat. This allows Wardens to solo difficult content that usually requires multiple players.

With all that in mind, how should we build a Warden in the blue line?

There are two main ways you can go:

1. Focusing on defenses and being as traditional of a tank as possible.
This build opts for the most defensive traits and healing.
2. Focusing on damage and being and offensive tank.
This build neglects defensive boosts, opting for traits that further emphasize the Warden's role as  a "DPS Tank"

The third option would be balancing the two, picking traits that add to defenses and to damage. With the large amount of traits points now possible in the game, this is the most common route. 
Below is the trait analysis followed by sample builds with a short description.

Blue Line Trait Analysis

Analysis System

From left-to-right, the analysis table covers the trait's icon, my ranking of the trait (1-5), the name of the trait, and the analysis of the usefulness of the trait and its effects.

Ranking System

5 = Autoinclude traits, always useful
4 = Often picked traits, usually useful
3 = Moderate traits, good options if you have leftover trait points or no better options
2 = Niche or not good traits, infrequently picked for specific use or if no other better options
1 = Bad traits, never useful



A small, poorly scaled boost to a gambit line (32+) that is frequently used. Due to the frequent use and no other better choices, DPS Wardens often take this option at a full 5 points.



The healing boost is a small bonus for tanking Wardens, although, the damage boost is negligible. Usually taken for tanking and 4 leftover points for a DPS spec usually go here.


Warden's Challenge

Must-have skill for necessary AoE force taunt. The additional reflect buff gives a brief period of increased threat and nice damage boost.

Also a useful option for DPS Wardens when they get to this point, giving the utility of a force taunt and minor extra damage from a reflect


Careful Shield-work

A small, poorly scaled boost of a less-important stat on gambits that are infrequently used (Persevere and Safeguard).


Bane of Shadow

A staple damage boost for Wardens as light damage gambits are a large source of damage (31+ and 32+ lines). Great damage (and threat) boost for tanking, and important damage boost for DPS Wardens.



Gaining a mitigation buff from use of Defiant Challenge gives a strong boost to survivability on a class with weak mitigations and defences.

For any tank Warden, this is a necessary trait.

This is much less useful for a DPS Warden and usually ignored.


Impressive Flourish

A small, poorly scaled boost to a single gambit (Impressive Flourish), although, it does boost useful stats.



Moderate debuff option with increased miss chance and small evade rating buff to two often used gambits, Surety of Death and Desolation.



Very strong effect, resetting your gambit mastery builders whenever you evade an attack, allowing you to build gambits a lot faster.

As a tank, the goal is for this to be triggered near the maximum amount around once every 15 seconds.

As a DPS, this will trigger infrequently if you do not have aggro, but is still a consideration if you are in situations where you may evade attacks as it will provide a strong damage boost.

Very helpful for solo play.



Provides a nice healing boost to Restoration, although the block rating from Celebration of Skill is not the most useful as that skill isn't used as much.

Only requires one point and is usually picked.


Thick Skin

Strong mitigation boosts for the worst mitigation tank spec in the game, also comes with a nice crit defence buff.

The gambits boosted, Dance of War and Conviction are both already used for their buffs.

Taken for tanking, typically high point DPS Wardens end their blue line points before this trait.


Critical Protection

Useful boost to crit defence, especially for a tank that is weak against large crits.


Lasting Hope

Warden HoTs have a short duration and this provides a valuable increase to their duration, up to 9 seconds at maximum rank. However, it may not be the best option if you never need to use your healing gambits.


Never Surrender

Necessary reduction of a survival skill CD on a class that has few CDs and emergency skills.


Fear No Darkness

Morale taps (312+ line) are no longer as strong as their glory days, thus this trait is often not worth the points, but it does provide a decent boost if you often use you MTs in large AoE tanking situations.


Stand Your Ground

Over time, LOTRO has shifted away from BPE tanking to mitigation/crit defence tanking, meaning the evasion stats are less useful than they once were.

There still aren’t many other better options that the blue line provides for Wardens.


For the Free Peoples

Any time you and your group’s mitigations are fully capped, this is useless. But, any time you occasionally need a small mitigation boost it gives a minor increase to mitigations on a CD for a short duration.

Only requires one point and is usually picked.

Blue Line Sample Builds

Here will be three starter options for helping you build your Warden!

Option 1 - Balanced (Recommended)

My most recommended build includes all necessary survival options and strong damage boosting traits, while also adding a few extra options for sturdy tanking, ultimately sacrificing a small amount of bleed damage. Further in the build, I recommend continuing in the red line for damage or filling in the yellow line for more utility.

Option 2 - "Glass Cannon" Tank

With this build, we skip over defensive options for damage wherever possible. While this won't be as valuable as a main tank for difficult content, it is a base build that allows the additional threat from the blue-line spec, necessary and highly valuable traits, and then focuses on damage. Further in the build, I would recommend continuing in the red line for maximum damage.

Option 3 - Defensive/Survival Tank

The opposite of build option 2, we prioritize defensive- and survival-based traits, neglecting damage boosting (and thus threat boosting) traits when necessary. Although this ends up fairly similar to the balanced build, it does allow for more survivability if you feel that is needed for your gameplay experience! Further in the build follows the pattern of the balanced option 1, however I recommend finishing the light damage in red line then filling in the yellow line for utility.

As a quick reminder, I will be following this guide up with a red line guide that will have slightly different table formatting. Any feedback on the formatting and contents of the guide is greatly appreciated!

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