June 26, 2020

7 Warden Class Tips in LOTRO

The Warden is considered one of the most difficult classes in the Lord of the Rings Online to get started with. The goal of this LOTRO Basics quick tips series of guides is to help newer or returning players better understand their class and get started with them. With the first entry, we will tackle the tricky Warden to help improve your Warden experience!

In this guide, I will have 7 tips for the Warden class, covering gameplay, traits, builds, equipment, etc. For other guides in the "7 Class Tips" series, they can be found at this page: https://www.lotrobasics.com/p/class-guides-and-resources.html

This guide is up to date with U27, in July 2020.

Tip #1 - Prioritize Gambit Mastery Builders

The gambit masteries build two gambit icons instantly with no animations or time delay, unlike normal skills. This makes them very effective in allowing you to build your gambits quicker, which account for the vast majority of your damage. This is true even if you only need one more gambit builder - it is still quicker to use a mastery and "waste" the second gambit icon.

A more advanced use of gambit masteries may include saving certain combinations for future gambits, however for a beginner or intermediate Warden, it is good practice using these often. While gambit masteries are on cooldown, you can then use the regular builders (1 - spear, 2 - shield, 3 - fist) and gain their benefits.

There are 9 total gambit masteries unlocked at level 20 and they contain all possible 2-gambit combinations. To memorize their icons better, the symbol on top is the first builder and the symbol behind that is the second builder (for example, in the image below, on the bottom right is fist + spear or 31).

Gambit Mastery Icons

Tip #2 - Stronger Gambits First

The Warden's gameplay is advertised as following certain gambit chains and patterns in their sequential order as gambit size increases. However, it is best to just use the strongest gambit first, because the bonuses for using gambit chains in order is minimal.


To learn more about why this is true, we will pick on the spear bleed chain (123, 1231, 12312 - Power Attack, Mighty Blow, Unerring Strike). 

Spear Bleed Gambits

The tooltip is confusing with these and may not make much sense in how things actually work in reality, but it may seem nice to use these in the order of 123 -> 1231 -> 12312 to gain the "bonus damage if target has been recently struck with ..." part of the skill. But, it if we compare this bonus damage, 1872 and 2723, respectively, to the rest of the skill, it isn't that much damage. It is a lot more efficient to use the strongest gambit first, 12312 or Unerring Strike. So, the final priority for these specific gambits is 12312 > 1231 > 123.

This is generally true for all damaging gambit chains, however some advanced techniques for defensive (shield) gambits may infrequently involve weaving chains in their order when time allows and the boosts are needed, specifically with the 23+ gambit line and the 21+ gambit line. With these you can gain bonus crit defence, healing, and incoming healing rating.

Gambit chain bonuses for 23+ and 21+ gambit lines

Tip #3 - Good Gambits for Battle Memory (Potency)

Potency is a valuable effect to utilize in your Warden gameplay, especially in longer fights or for cleaving. In general, it is best to store long-duration and long-built gambits in Battle Memory with the Potency effect. Gambits such as 12312, 23232, 12131, 32323 (Unnering Strike, Conviction, Dark Before Dawn, Desolation) can be good starter options to store in Battle Memory.

To gain the Potency effect, you have to use a basic double gambit (also called "Potency gambits") - 11, 22, or 33 (Deft Strike, Defensive Strike, or Goad), then followup with the gambit you want stored in the "Battle Memory I" skill. Using a gambit from Battle Memory functions just like using it from your "Gambit Default" skill, except the gambit now costs a small amount of morale.

Potency Gambits and Battle Memory

After getting used to the Battle Memory system, there are more advanced techniques you can do with it. Once strong option is cleaving single target abilities such as 12312 to hit two targets with it, essentially gaining double the effect. When in large AoE situations, it can be efficient to store 3232, 32323, and R3132 (Surety of Death, Desolation, Ranged Resounding Challenge) in Battle Memory to use those powerful AoE gambits to hit more targets.

Tip #4 - Use Ranged Resounding Challenge!

The often praised gambit lines for the DPS Warden are the bleed line (123+), ST light DoT line (31+), and AoE light DoT line (32+). However, another very strong option for a ranged, AoE, light DoT is Ranged Resounding Challenge, R3132. This gambit requires the Assailment (ranged) stance to perform, but is good even in melee combat due to its powerful damage over time effect.

The gambit has no initial damage, but can be a good option to start a fight in combination with Battle Preparation (especially an AoE fight) because you will not draw much threat on the initial impact. The melee version of the gambit (3132 - Resounding Challenge) functions oppositely - it only does initial damage, but not enough to be noteworthy. 

This is a more advanced gambit to use in combat, especially because you have to be comfortable with swapping your stance to Assailment, then using the gambit, then swapping back to In The Fray for normal combat. It is, however, worth using even in any longer-duration single target fights!

Ranged Resounding Challenge (R3231)

Tip #5 - Might is Valuable (Especially Lower Levels)

Switching from gameplay to equipment, might is still a valuable stat for Wardens even though agility is their primary and preferred stat. Due to gear stats being more normalized in later parts of this game, this tip is mostly applicable to leveling Wardens or lower endgame content.

Agility gives 3 physical mastery, 2 critical rating, 1 parry rating, and 3 evade rating per point.
Might gives 2 physical mastery, 3 block rating, and 2 parry rating, per point.

So, agility is much more effective than might, but at lower levels (generally 75 and below), you may run into more valuable gear with might on it, or even gear containing both might and agility. This is something that is good to just keep in mind while equipping your Warden as you adventure through Middle Earth!

Agility and might compared.

Tip #6 - Use Javelin Skills

With the gambit-centric gameplay that Wardens have, it can be easy to forget that you have normal skills! Javelin abilities such as Marked Target and Diminished Target provide valuable debuffs for you and your fellowship, ultimately increasing damage. These are good skills to maintain in rotation for the debuff. Ambush is also a great option to open fights with a ranged stun. 

In the yellow line, Javelin of Deadly Force is strong to use on rotation for the damage buff (and one of the best option for Snapshot procs - the final set bonus trait for yellow Wardens). Finally, in the blue line, Warding Shot provides a valuable single target force taunt, while also giving a small outgoing damage debuff. The rest of the javelin skills do not provide much besides small utility and a little instant ranged damage.

Javelin skills with trait boosts

Tip #7 - Practice!

The most important thing to get out of a game, or a class in game is to have fun. Some players may believe the Warden is a very fun class, but may have trouble with the gambit system. One of the best ways to get familiar with it is to actually use it and consistently practice. 

It may take a while to be certain of how every gambit is built, what every gambit does, and how effective each gambit is. However, it is much more manageable to get a baseline feel for how to play the Warden and approach the class by easier steps. When I first started with the Warden, I thought I would never know all the gambits and how they worked, but after more and more playtime, I naturally learned them, and, eventually, never had to think about how to build a certain gambit anymore.

As a bonus tip, have fun with the Warden! If you enjoy the class and the gambit system, you do not have to play it optimally if you prefer weaker gambits for their neat animations and effects (for example, I quite enjoy Warden's Triumph, 13212. I also have a lot of fun in the yellow line even if it is very rarely a "good spec").

That is it for the Warden entry in the LOTRO Basics 7 Class Tips series! The Warden was the first entry because it is the class I am most familiar with and had plenty of tips to share, but it also served to test out the site's new formatting. Please comment if you have feedback or a class/guide request! The next guide will also be on the Warden with building the blue line along with a trait analysis format.

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