July 6, 2020

Warden Red Line Trait Analysis and DPS Build Guide

This is a Lord of the Rings Online guide on the red line specialization for the Warden, Recklessness. The guide covers an in depth analysis of the spec with:
  • A background on Warden as a DPS and the red line
  • Detailed breakdown and analysis on trait choices
  • Follow up with sample builds
This guide is up-to-date with Update 26, last updated in June 2020.

This is the second LOTRO Basics guide using this format for trait analysis, a slightly altered version from the recent blue line guide. The new formatting in this table would allow for more frequent guides. The table is inspired from Zonflux's Guardian Guide for U22 and Squirle's Beorning Guide.

Red Line Warden DPS and Building Background

Red line traits image for reference: https://i.imgur.com/AvCP2sn.png

Red line Warden DPS has been in a great spot for the past few years and continues to this day to frequently be a contender as the top DPS class in both area-of-effect and single target. From low to high level, a Warden can always provide valuable damage to any group and for that is frequently chosen for endgame content. However, play a Warden can be very difficult to get the most out of them. You have to navigate through many gambits along with gambit building options to maximize your DoT uptime in your powerful bleeds and light DoT gambits.

The main weakness of a red line DPS Warden is that are quite squishy for a melee class. They wear medium armour like Burglars, but do not have much to boost defenses and only have one survival cooldown (Never Surrender). Still, while leveling, you will be able to survive many encounters while dealing amongst the highest ST and AoE damage.

How do we build a DPS Warden in the red line?

The goal of your build should be to maximize damage via bleeds and light DoTs. Red Warden builds often finish out the top tier traits in the red line then move on to the blue line for further light damage increase and finish up in the yellow line which provides some various DPS increases. Many traits in the red line end up not being useful enough to grab compared to dipping into the other lines.

Another option with building, that is not as good for endgame or for the DPS role, is it pick up some utility and survival traits. Generally, these are not worth picking, but it may slightly boost your survivability or improve solo play where mobs don't last long enough to fully take to your damage over time abilities. 

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 of the trait (1-5), 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

Basic Strikes


Increasing basic gambit builder (1, 2, 3) damage does not provide much impact since most damage comes from gambits, and most building is from gambit masteries.

However, this can be a good option for very low levels, yell line builds, or as a dump for leftover trait points.

Vital Points


Bleeds are the Warden’s strongest ST gambits, thus this is a necessary trait for any DPS Warden.

Note: at very low levels this does not do anything since you don’t have bleeds!

Spear Sweep


Removing your strongest DoTs from enemies for a small damage boost is not a good idea. If there ever were a trait to get a 0 or negative rating, this would be it.

Physical Mastery


Although this doesn’t scale too well (the reason it is given a 4 instead of a 5), red DPS Wardens don’t get better options, and this still provides a valuable mastery boost.

Way of the Spear


While spear gambits are often used for their bleeds, the majority of the damage comes from the bleeds and not the upfront damage. This trait only affects the upfront damage, so it isn’t the most valuable. 

For some level ranges, this can be an okay option, but there are often better choices. Typically, I recommend going with Basic Strikes (above) for leftover points at high levels.

Foe of the Darkness


Light damage gambits are also among the strongest for DPS Wardens with both AoE and ST options, so this trait is also necessary for any DPS Warden.

On the Offence


Morale taps, especially for DPS, are not that great. However, this trait does boost their niche use, or a potential pick for a MT-focused tank build.

Generally, I do not use this trait, though.

Quick Sweep


This requires Spear Sweep which is not picked. It still wouldn’t be that great for a small chance to get an AoE bleed (although powerful if triggered, it requires too much and Wardens have other AoE options to rotate through).

No Respite for the Wicked


This trait has a very specific use to give an incoming healing debuff and should only be picked for that very use as it applies to a gambit line otherwise not frequently used (13+). May also serve a purpose in PvP/PvMP.

I generally do not use this trait.

Aggravating Wounds


Giving your strongest abilities, bleeds, a higher chance to crit is a significant DPS boost. So, this trait is always worth picking as a DPS Warden.

No Mercy


The trait that could but didn’t. Having a 50% chance to make the bleed removal from the Spear Sweep trait not actually consume the bleed is not nearly good enough for this trait or trait chain to be worth considering. Even at 100%, it would serve niche use for AoE, if the bleed burst did enough damage in the first place.

Deep Wounds


We just got a trait to boost bleed crit chance and now we get one to boost crit damage for not only bleeds, but all DoTs! Another necessary trait that significantly boosts Warden DPS.

Warden’s Triumph



During typical Warden rotations, there is not enough time to fit in Androit Manoeuvre or Warden’s Triumph (1321, 13212) However, at certain level ranges (generally below level 100), you may find time to weave in 1321 for the attack duration buff.

If you find that true for you, this trait can be worth dumping as a filler if you have no other options for your level range. Because of this, I could not settle on a 2 or 3 rating, so it got a 2.5!



At the bottom of the red line is our first and only DPS CD - a strong increase to damage for its duration. Always worth the pick.

Honed Spikes



Increasing shield damage will not provide much benefit because you mostly use spear and fist gambits, however, if you need to dump trait points on something and can’t find anything else useful, this does give a very tiny boost.

Red Line Sample Builds

Here will be three starter building option for helping you build your DPS Warden! The first is a base red line build, then the next two show options for maximizing group DPS or focusing on solo content.

Build 1 - Base Red Line DPS

This base build includes all standard red line traits. Typically, you will move to the blue line then to the yellow line after this. A single leftover will often go in gambit builder damage at this point in the build.

Build 2 - Standard DPS Path

After the base build above, the first recommended starter build includes all necessary DPS trait options, giving little wiggle room in trait choices. This option allows high level Wardens to get important traits deep in the yellow line. Further in the build, I suggest continuing down the yellow line.

Build 3 - Solo/Leveling Warden DPS

With this second build path, we add a few utility and solo-friendly traits in the blue line that can significantly improve your experience if you have mobs hitting you. Otherwise this follows the same build as the max DPS option and further in the build, I recommend going down the yellow line. This can be a great choice for lower level Wardens as well, such as on the Legendary Servers! 


As a quick reminder, this followed up the blue line guide that had slightly different table formatting. The one in this guide would allow me to focus time on the analysis and have guides out quicker. Any feedback on the formatting and contents of the guide is greatly appreciated! In future build sections, I may not have many trait points for full builds outside the primary trait tree.

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