July 15, 2020

Captain Red Line Trait Analysis and Build Guide

This is a Lord of the Rings Online guide on the red line specialization for the Captain, Lead the Charge. The guide covers an in depth analysis of the spec with:
  • A background on Captain as a DPS for leveling and group support in the red line
  • Detailed breakdown and analysis on trait choices
  • Follow up with sample builds

This guide was written during Update 27 in July 2020.

Red Line Captain Support-DPS and Building Background

Red line traits image for reference: https://i.imgur.com/ebp7ZjN.png

Red line Captains are always useful as a support-DPS in group content. It is also the preferred leveling spec because of its higher kill speeds. Due to essentially being required in high difficulty endgame content, that content is balanced around having the class, furthering a group's need for a red Captain. 

The main weakness of the red line support-DPS Captain is their weak damage on their own. While this can be greatly improved with traits, you will never deal as much damage as other classes on your own as a red Captain.

One of the most difficult parts of the classes is maintaining your strong group support while maximizing the damage you provide on your own. The damage you end up contributing on your own can make a big difference in high difficulty content.

How to Build a Support-DPS Captain

The goal of your build for group content should be to maximize your damage support and buff output, then having your own damage and other utility-based support be a secondary focus.

For example, if you can boost fellowship damage by 20% or double your own damage (100% increase), it is often better to choose the fellowship boost. To show why, imagine you deal about 150 damage and the other members of your fellowship deal about 1000 damage in an encounter (3 DPS ~ 900 damage, and 1 tank ~ 100 damage). A 100% increase to your damage only provides 150 more damage, while a 20% increase to fellowship damage provides 230 more damage (200 from other fellowship members and 30 from yourself).

There are three main building options for red line Captains:
  1. Maximum Overall Support - neglects self DPS-boosting traits in favor of all support traits
  2. Maximum DPS-Support - picks a balance of extra support and boosting self-DPS
  3. Solo - a build option focused on boosting your own damage for leveling/questing or whenever you are playing solo and do not need to boost group damage.

Below is the trait analysis followed by sample builds with a short description.

Red Line Trait Analysis

Analysis System

From left-to-right, the analysis table covers the name of the trait, my ranking on the usefulness of the trait (1-10), and the analysis of the trait and its effects.

Ranking System

9-10 = Autoinclude traits, always useful
7-8 = Often picked traits, usually useful in some form
5-6 = Moderate traits, possible options if you have leftover trait points or no better options
2-4 = Niche or not good traits, infrequently picked for specific use or if no other better options
1 = Bad traits, never useful

React to Battle


This fits one of the main themes of Captain DPS - large critical hits. It also affects our often used skills (involving Battle States). For this, it is always useful to boost your damage as a Captain, but doesn't provide anything for damage support. I put the first set of leftover points into this trait.

Deafening Shouts


The problem with this trait is that Captains don’t really do much light damage, so boosting it won’t affect you too much. There are many more valuable traits and I do not pick this trait.

Martial Prowess


One of the most important class traits, across all specs. Decreasing attack duration allows you to go through combat faster - helping you maintain buffs better, healing fellows quicker, and reacting faster as a tank. This provides a significant boost and is always a high priority for me.

Make Them Bleed


Bleeds are a bit tricky with the Captain, as noted in the 7 Captain Tips guide. By time you get to this trait, it is not worth picking, and is better to skip over. But at high level (~100+), this can be a valuable trait to return to when bleeds start dealing a more significant amount of damage.

Hardened Heart


Similar to React to Battle, this provides a strong benefit for Captain DPS on their own and is worth picking. At lower levels, it is better to pick this than Make Them Bleed and is worth the second set of leftover points.

Telling Mark


This strong debuff is always worth picking as your first trait in the second row.

Penetrating Cry


A powerful boost to attack speed when you get a defeat event that you can consume with Routing Cry. This trait can allow you to significantly boost your fellowship’s damage and make your time a lot easier as you attack faster!

Arterial Strikes



Another crit-themed trait - while worth picking, there are more valuable traits in the row. This becomes the highest priority for any leftover trait points, though!

(This got a 9.5 due to the high priority traits in the row)

Time of Need


A very strong CD that will greatly benefit you while the buff is up. This is the first trait I pick in this row.

Advantageous Attack


Another strong single-point trait that will consistently boost your overall damage output in addition to boosting fellowship damage with Telling Mark even more! This is the second trait I pick in this row.

Grievous Wounds


Similar to Make Them Bleed, this is not worth picking at lower levels, but becomes better at high levels. Still, there are better options for leftover points. However, this can be a good option for high level solo builds.



Perhaps the first nearly useless trait? I have never had power issues where decreasing only melee skill power cost would help.

Heightened Allies



(1) For group content - this trait is ineffective since your Heralds do relatively very little damage.

(7) For solo - this trait is very helpful in boosting your Archer damage.

Averaging the two it gets a 4… But that is a bit misleading due to its situationality, so it gets two ratings!

Impactful Blows


This is a good filler, but there are more valuable traits available. I often back fill this trait before getting anything that boosts bleeds.

Standard of War


Another key trait that each Captain spec has. It is important to at least get one point in this, then you can slowly fill it out as a filler.

Rank 5 is optional - it allows for flexibility, but can make the skill difficult to cast in certain situations.

Fellowship of the Blade



(9) A very strong trait for group content that will significantly boost your utility with Inspire and allow your To Arms buff to be more effective.

(1) This trait provides no benefit for solo play.

Averaging the two it gets a 5… but like Heightened Allies, this gets two ratings due to how situational the trait is.

Vital Stroke


Another bleed-boosting trat the is good when you are high level ( definitely by~100+), but otherwise does not provide much for a low-mid level Captain. This is a relatively decent option for your first bleed focused trait due to the magnitude of the boost to Grave Wound and the CD decrease.

This also will help boost your little AoE damage with bleed spreading via Cutting Attack then Grave Wound.

Oathbreaker’s Shame


One of the most iconic and useful CDs in the game. For a brief period, this will significantly boost your groups (or even your own) DPS against a single mob. Content in the game has historically been balanced partially around this single trait.

Elite Companions


This boosts herald usefulness by allowing them to decrease enemy armour. This is effective in both solo and group content.

Red Line Sample Builds

Here will be two starter building options with three build paths for helping you build your support-DPS Captain! The first is a base group content build, then the last one is focused on solo and leveling/questing on your own.

Build 1 - Base Group Content Build

This base build includes all the standard support traits. From here, you have two paths for further in the build:
  • Continue in the blue line, acquiring helpful support traits
  • Go back to the red line, acquiring traits that boost your own damage
On my Captains, I generally get Gallant's Display from the blue line, then fill out the higher priority traits in the red line, then finish with continuing in the blue line.

Build 2 - Solo DPS

This is my most recommended build for a solo Captain. It does not include group support traits, instead going for anything that improves solo DPS to help with leveling and questing. Further in the build, you can continue in the blue line and/or get DPS support traits from the red line. You may also dip into the yellow line if you need a boost to survivability that the blue line cannot provide.

For more Captain resources and guides: https://www.lotrobasics.com/p/captain-class-guides.html. I will likely follow this up with a blue line analysis, then finish out with a yellow line analysis. After that, the Captain guides series will be finished for a while!

If you enjoyed this guide or found it helpful, please consider supporting the content!

Subscribe or become a member on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/Louey7
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Louey_7