LOTRO Class Guide 2022 - Classes in the Lord of the Rings Online


The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) is a classic Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) set in the open world of Middle Earth, based on the expansive Lord of the Rings books by JRR Tolkien. The game offers many classes, roles, and playstyles for you to choose from. In this guide, I hope to help you learn about the classes!

This 2022-updated class guide page is a resource for the classes in LOTRO. While primarily focused on new and returning players, this guide may also help more experienced players learn more about the classes and where they can find more advanced and up-to-date information on each class.

For a video version of this guide (currently links to the 2021 version): https://youtu.be/hKBe1D5yqo8
The changelog will be put at the bottom of the guide.
For best viewing, I recommend using the full desktop site and not the mobile version.


Table of Contents
Part Description
Introduction to the Classes of LOTRO Covers what 'class' means and introduces the classes of LOTRO and their roles. Oriented towards beginners.
Overviews of each class. Format:
  • Lore & fantasy
  • Class description
  • Gameplay styles
  • Specs and roles in group and solo play
Also provides additional resources and information for each class.

Covers what has changed since the 2021 Class Guide, including major class updates, buffs, nerfs, and more.


Introduction to the Classes in LOTRO



The Class System - How Classes Affect the LOTRO Experience


Like most MMORPGs, your class in LOTRO is like the identity of your character, defining what your character does and how it plays in the game. Each class is unique with different playstyles and abilities. Within each class, there are three specializations (specs), which allow your character to excel at a particular aspect of the class, further defining their role. Specs have formal names (such as "Huntsman" for Hunters), but are often referred to their associated color in the trait tree - blue, red, and yellow

LOTRO offers a wide variety of class fantasies that coincide with the Lord of the Rings series the game is based on. Playstyles fit into those commonly found in RPG styles, including:
  • Melee fighter
  • Ranger
  • Spellcaster/wizard (magic user)

The classes, specs, and playstyles all culminate in your character's role in gameplay. In LOTRO, there are four main roles:
  • Tank - Someone who protects allies by drawing threat from enemies with an ability to survive a lot of damage.
  • DPS (damage per second), also called DD (damage dealer) - Someone who focuses on dealing damage to enemies.
  • Heal - Someone who raises the morale (health) of allies, working to keep them alive.
  • Support - Someone who does not fit solely into the tank-DPS-heal trinity known to many RPGs that works to strengthen allies and weaken enemies while bringing utility to combat.

In casual, low difficulty, and leveling content in LOTRO, all specs are viable to fill their role. However, not all specs are viable in typical endgame progression content (e.g., some tank specs are not good enough to fill the tank role, some DPS specs don't do enough damage, etc.), but most classes cosistently have at least one viable spec/role they fill (e.g., yellow line Lore Master as support). At high levels, characters can get enough class trait points to become hybrid-like with their specialization, gaining benefits of another spec and sometimes role. Because of this, classes can offer flexiblity in building to best fit the needs of the player and group.

For more information on LOTRO's roles and how the classes work to fulfill them, I recommend further reading: https://www.lotrobasics.com/2020/07/roles-and-classes.html.


The Classes in LOTRO
There are currently 11 classes in LOTRO - 7 are available for free, as any account type, while the other 4 need to be purchased in some form (indicated by *). Links go to the class resource page.
Class Role Brief Overview
Beorning*
  • Heal-Support
  • Tank
  • DPS
Versatile melee class who can skin-change (shapeshift) into a bear and perform as a DPS, tank, or healer.
*Purchased alone or in a bundle with a character slot.
Brawler
  • Tank
  • Melee DPS
Newest class to LOTRO!
Fist-fighting melee class who can focus on powerful punches as a DPS or taking a defensive approach as a tank, all while offering close range support to allies.
*Comes with the Fate of Gundabad expansion pack. Can be purchased alone starting in May 2022.
Burglar
  • DPS
  • Support
Fast-paced and stealth-based melee class who can focus on DPS or support with emphases on burst damage, damage over time, and debuffs.
Captain
  • Support
  • Tank-Support
  • Support-DPS
  • Support-Heal
Support-based melee class who buffs allies and provides utility while being versatile in its role through specializations.
Champion
  • DPS
  • Tank
Offensive melee class who can focus on single target or area of effect damage or choose to bolster defenses as an aggresive tank.
Guardian
  • Tank
  • DPS
Defensive and reaction-based melee class who can be a heavy tank with a shield or opt for a 2-handed weapon to take on a more offensive approach as a tank or DPS.
Hunter
  • DPS
  • Utility-DPS
Bow-and-arrow ranged DPS class who can specialize in mobility, heavy and steady shooting, or trapping and debuffing enemies for utility.
Lore Master
  • Support
  • DPS
Ranged magic spell-casting class with animal/nature pets who can specialize in debuffing for support or for DPS with a focus tactical damage or improving their pets.
Minstrel
  • Heal
  • Support-Heal
  • DPS
Ranged instrument and music based class who uses the power of song to heal and buff alies or damage enemies.
Rune Keeper*
  • DPS
  • Heal
Ranged magic spell-casting class who can focus on damage enemies with fire or lightning or opting to use their abilities to heal allies.
*Purchased alone or with the Mines of Moria expansion pack (note: not included with Expansion Trove).
Warden*
  • DPS
  • Tank
Agile combo-based class who can focus on melee or ranged combat as DPS or opt to improve defenses to serve as a tank.
*Purchased alone or with the Mines of Moria expansion pack (note: not included with Expansion Trove).


LOTRO Class Overviews




Lore & Fantasy
Beornings, long descendants of Beorn, have a deep connection with nature and are largely known for their ability to skin-change into a bear... and for their love of honey.

Class Description
The Beorning is a late addition to LOTRO's classes, with unique systems of skin-changing (shapeshifting) and wrath. Wrath replaces power and functions similar to rage in World of Warcraft and other MMOs - built and consumed in combat. Beornings are very versatile as they may perform many roles in a group and can adapt to a variety of challenges and scenarios.

Gameplay Styles
Beornings must balance shapeshifting between Man and Bear form during combat. In Man form, they have a small variety of single target and area-of-effect melee attacks that build wrath while they often look to bleed and debuff enemies and heal. In Bear form, Beornings continue to slowly build wrath and can consume it with powerful abilities. Beornings have two choices when it comes to weaponry:
  • 2-hander for slower, heavier hitting - allows for more damage in bear form (often preferred for DPS Beornings)
  • Dual-wield for quicker hitting and more stats - allows for more damage in man form (often preferred for healing and sometimes tanking Beornings)

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | The Hide | Tank - Focuses on grabbing aggro from enemies and using Bear form to gain survivability and damage capabilities.
  • Red | The Claw | Melee DPS - Focuses on bleeding enemies while generating wrath in Man form then consuming wrath in Bear form with high damage abilities.
  • Yellow | The Roar | Healer-Support - Focuses on balancing wrath builders and consumers to heal allies and debuff enemies while frequently swapping between Man and Bear form.

Beorning solo gameplay: Beornings are a strong class for soloing and leveling. Red line provides maximum damage, while blue or yellow can be used for increased survivability for difficult content.

Beorning group gameplay: In endgame, Beornings are most often taken for their healing and debuffs in the yellow line, but their blue line also offers a "mostly" viable tank spec (the main weakness being a lack of "emergency" cooldowns). The red line does great damage at low levels, and in recent updates the scaling issues (seen last year) have been improved - the Beorning offers moderate DPS at endgame.


Gameplay video: https://youtu.be/dyfOuZNfpNY

Lore & Fantasy
Brawlers, inspired by Helm Hammerhand, are agressive fighters that are uniquely known for using their fists to punch enemies in combat.

Class Description
The Brawler is the newest class to LOTRO! It offers unique fist-fighting with battle-gauntlets as their weapon type (these function as a single 2-handed weapon) and the point-based Mettle system, which is built and consumed in combat, much like Fervour (Champion) or Focus (Hunter). Also unique to the Brawler is a "two" spec system, where the red and blue line function like normal specializations, however, the yellow line only has supplemental traits and cannot be specced into. Brawlers may perform as tank (blue) or DPS (red), while also offering close-range group support.

Gameplay Styles
Brawlers gameplay flow consists of balancing mettle building and consumption along with utilizing cooldown abilities. Mettle builders consist of three basic "set-up" abilities, while a variety of consumers offer more powerful attacks. This functions like a mini combo system where Brawlers often want to use certain set up abilities followed by certain mettle consumers. Attacks primarily focus on single targets, but they do have a small selection of area-of-effect abilities. Brawler combat is aided by numerous cooldown abilities that provide short bursts of increased damage and defenses, some also boosting nearby allies. The key to mastering Brawler gameplay is using cooldowns efficiently while comboing set-up abilities with certain mettle consumers.

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | The Fulcrum | Tank - Focuses on grabbing aggro from enemies while gaining defensive capabilities.
  • Red | The Maelstrom | Melee DPS - Focuses on dealing large single target damage with moderate area-of-effect, as well as buffing nearby allies.
  • Yellow | The Fundament | Supplemental - Cannot be specialized into, but offers traits the supplement the other specializations and benefit the class as a whole.

Brawler solo gameplay: While solo (including leveling), Brawlers quickly eliminate their enemies, epsecially single targets. Short breaks between enemy groups allows for use of cooldowns so they don't interrupt battle flow as in longer fights. Red line provides maximum damage while blue can can be used for increased survivability for difficult content.

Brawler group gameplay: In endgame, Brawlers are currently one of the least desired classes as they are undertuned for group content. However, they are plenty viable for lower tier content and leveling group content. The red line offers low-moderate damage, with more single-target impact, while the blue line can serve as tank or off-tank. Benefitting their allies, Brawlers also provide short-range buffs through their cooldowns, which can increase their desirability for group content.




Lore & Fantasy
Inspired by Bilbo Baggins, Burglars are known for being sneaky and deceitful. They are masters of stealth, taking advantage of enemies whenever possible.

Class Description
The Burglar is a fast-paced melee class built around tricking, debuffing, and bleeding their enemies. Using elements of surprise, they can also land powerful critical hits. In addition to damage, Burglars provide a lot of utility and support to battle.

Gameplay Styles
Burglars utilize a variety of basic melee attacks along with stealth, damage-over-time, debuffs, and a critical chain. In addition to burgling enemies from stealth, Burglars attacking from stealth allow them to surprise enemies, opening combat with powerful attacks. Scoring critical hits opens their critical chain which enables them to use strong finisher skills for strong damage or debuffs. Burglar can play with luck (to their advantage) with gambles, which have a variety of effects. They may also focus on a more supportive role by tricking their enemies, weakening their defenses and offensive capabilities.

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | The Gambler | Melee DPS - Focuses on rolling gambles which can damage and debuff enemies or buff the Burglar with additional bleeds and self-sustain.
  • Red | The Quiet Knife | Melee DPS - Focuses on attacks from stealth, strong critical hits opening powerful critical chain skills, and bleeding enemies.
  • Yellow | The Mischief-maker | Support - Focuses on tricks and trick-removal skills to weaken enemies, enabling groups to deal more damage or takes less damage, working to support the fellowship.

Burglar solo gameplay: Soloing as a Burglar is oriented towards methodical and patient gameplay. Rather than running directly into enemies, you are most rewarded when you slowly approach them from stealth. However, in the red line, you may deal enough damage to be very direct and have a faster pace in content. Stronger at lower levels, the blue line offers a balanced playstyle with a boost in survivability and moderate self-sustain, which can be helpful for some difficult content situations. Generally, yellow line is best when running with a group due to its supportive role.

Burglar group gameplay: In endgame, Burglars are most sought after for their for their support in the yellow line which can also provide moderate DPS at high levels. The red line offers more damage and small-target area-of-effect potential, but comes with less support (thus, often less desirable in difficult dungeons and raids). The blue line does not offer much competitive, except for good DPS in low level group content at low levels and minor group support.




Lore & Fantasy
Captains are leaders of the battlefield, providing support to their allies. They are tough to defeat on their own, but are mostly known for buffing their group to help bring down enemies.

Class Description
The Captain is a slow-paced melee class who is best utilized in groups. They focus on creating and maintaining powerful buffs for their fellowship while bringing additional utility to battle. Captains have heralds which are pet-type NPCs that provide additional boosts to allies and deal damage in combat.

Gameplay Styles
Captains utilize shouts, cries, and a variety of melee attacks to buff their allies and deal damage. Basic abilities open combat phases (battle-readied and battle-hardened states) which boost the Captain and allow them to create more buffs. Defeating enemies in combat also inspires Captains (through defeat events), enabling stronger abilities. Although buffing is the primary theme of the Captain, their damaging abilities focus on large critical hits and bleeding enemies. Captains can focus their supportive role and buffs on defenses, damage, or healing.

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | Hands of Healing | Support-Heal - Focuses their buffing on healing allies with some additional damage and defenses support. Healing is largely passive and works as you damage enemies, which inspires allies.
  • Red | Lead the Charge | Support-DPS - Focuses their buffing on boosting the damage of allies with minimal defensive and healing support.
  • Yellow | Leader of Men | Tank-Support - Focuses on tanking enemies while buffing defenses of allies. Brings additional utility and minimal damage and healing support.

Captain solo gameplay: Due to their support role, the Captain is a slow and relatively low-damage class on its own. The red line gives you the most damage while leveling/questing. Blue or yellow may be used to solo difficult content, but are much slower.

Captain group gameplay: Captains are highly valued for their support and utility. The red line is used to greatly boost group damage (and at high levels provide some beneficial off-healing) and the yellow line serves as a great tank at endgame (especially against a single target, or bosses). At high levels, the blue line generally doesn't provide enough healing output or emergency heals to be used as a main healer, and doesn't have as many buffs to be as useful as the other specs, but may be used as an off-healer for group content when not as strong single target heals are needed.




Lore & Fantasy
Champions are relentless warriors who are known for being at the forefront of battle. As specialized melee combatants, they can make use of almost any weaponry, and wear heavy armour for defenses.

Class Description
The Champion is a basic melee class who is often recommended for new players. They have a unique fervour system, with abilities building and consuming fervour points.

Gameplay Styles
Champions utilitize a variety of melee abilities centered around building and consuming fervour. Basic attacks are used to build fervour and may empower the Champion or debuff enemies. Fervour consumers offer much more powerful effects with high damage or bolstering the Champion's defenses. Champions have two playstyle choices when it comes to weaponry:
  • 2-hander for slower, heavier hitting, but often fewer attacks (generally preferred with the new legendary item system)
  • Dual-wield for quicker hitting with more but weaker attacks

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | The Martial Champion | Tank - Focuses on becoming an offensive tank with bubbles, self-heals, and reactions. Opts for a 2-handed weapon because they can block with them.
  • Red | The Berserker | ST Melee DPS - Focuses on single target damage with strong critical hits.
  • Yellow | The Deadly Storm | AoE Melee DPS - Focuses on area-of-effect damage with attacks that hit enemies multiple times.

Champion solo gameplay: Champions bring a hack-and-slash playstyle while adventuring solo. They may spec into the red line to quickly defeat enemies one-by-one in ST or into the yellow line for defeating many enemies at once in AoE. Going for AoE can be more dangerous but may ultimately allow you to level/quest faster. The blue line is good choice for soloing difficult content as it provides moderate self-sustain and damage.

Champion group gameplay: Champions are sought after for their melee damage, both ST with the red line and AoE with the yellow line. At endgame, blue line Champions are not very valuable tanks, but for easier content and while leveling, they provide a high damage tank option.




Lore & Fantasy
Guardians are heavy and reactive melee fighters. They work to protect their allies, primarily as a tank, but may take a more offensive approach instead.

Class Description
Guardians offer a few themes with reactions, bleeds, stuns, and a variety of basic melee abilities. They are most well known for defending allies as a tank with a sword-and-board playstyle, although, they may forego this role to take on a more offensive-warrior approach.

Gameplay Styles
Guardians have many basic abilities that deal damage (area-of-effect and single target) and may boost defenses or debuff enemies. They have two reaction chains - block and parry. Blocking attacks opens powerful abilities that use a shield, while parrying attacks opens powerful abilities that deal damage with increased offensive attributes (these may be forced open by certain skills so you do not have to block/parry to unlock them in every case). A guardian that opts for an offensive apporach will gain many bleed effects on their abilities. They have two choices when it comes to equipment:
  • 1-handed weapon and shield - allows the use of shield attacks and gives more defenses, but has lower damage (often valued for heavy tanking)
  • 2-handed weapon - allows for more damage, but disables shield attacks and lowers defenses (often valued for more DPS)

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | The Defender of the Free | Tank (Defensive) - Focuses on becoming a heavy, defense-oriented tank who draws aggro from enemies and protects allies, always with a shield.
  • Red | The Keen Blade | Melee DPS - Drops defenses and the tank role for a full offense, with a variety of themes. Focuses on the parry chain (and forcing it open), bleeds, critical damage, and fast attacks.
  • Yellow | The Fighter of Shadow | Tank (Offensive) - Focuses on becoming a more offensive tank, dealing area-of-effect damage and debuffing enemies. They may forego a shield for more damage and still block with a 2-handed weapon.

Guardian solo gameplay: Guardians offer a safe solo experience due to their high defenses. They may spec into the red line for highest ST damage, along with moderate AoE damage or the yellow line for boost to defenses, self-healing, and moderate-high AoE damage potential. Typically, the blue line does not offer anything extra for solo, but may be used for soloing difficult content when the other specs don't work or for an even safer solo experience.

Guardian group gameplay: Guardians are typically the tank of choice in LOTRO. The previous couple years, they fell out of flavor due to slowly accumulating changes to tanking/dungeon mechanics and buffs to other tank classes. Nowadays, they are in a better state and players can generally expect Guardians to provide a viable tank option. The blue line offers a solid heavy tank spec while yellow line offers more damage and more AoE which can be helpful for certain applications and for easy content and while leveling. Even if good for solo, the red line generally doesn't provide high sustained damage for longer fights in group content, although it is sufficient for leveling and easy difficulty group content. In general, Guardians are expected to fill the tank role when grouping.




Lore & Fantasy
Inspired by Legolas, the Hunter class uses a bow and arrows to shoot enemies from range and are masters of survival. They have also mastered the wilderness with the ability to track enemies. Hunters provide the famous Middle Earth taxi service in LOTRO, as they may port other players to different cities and camps around Middle Earth.

Class Description
Hunters are basic ranged combatants who have a mix of quick and slow shots. They have the unique focus system, consisting of builders and consumers. Additionally, their arsenal includes melee attacks if their enemies get too close and traps to debilitate and damage foes.

Gameplay Styles
Hunter gameplay revolves around the focus system with induction-based shots building focus and powerful instant shots consuming focus. Some shots bleed enemies for damage over time, while others take advantage of enemy vulnerability for large critical damage. Traps and utility skills help the Hunter with crowd control and increasing enemy vulnerability to attacks. During normal combat, utility skills may feel neglected, but can become necessary to survive difficult fights.

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | Huntsman | Ranged DPS (Mobile) - With the ability to shoot on the move, they focus on mobility. They aim to rapidly fire instant shots and bleed enemies.
  • Red | Bowmaster | Ranged DPS (Steady) - Focuses on steady, induction-based shots and strong critical hits as a long-range archer.
  • Yellow | Trapper of Foes | Utility-DPS - Focuses on traps and survivability while bleeding enemies. They work to control the way enemies move and increase their vulnerability to attacks.

Hunter solo gameplay: Hunters are one of the most recommended leveling classes because they offer a smooth and fast-paced solo experience due to their high damage from afar. They may spec into the red line for high damage, especially at higher levels or the blue line for mobility and instant shots for a fast-paced gameplay experience. The yellow line may be used for crowd control and utility for soloing difficult content along with moderate damage and a moderate pace for questing/leveling.

Hunter group gameplay: Hunters are valued for their high ranged damage... and their taxi service. At high levels, typically the red line provides the most damage and is generally expected to be used for DPS role. The blue line does not provide enough damage to be commonly picked compared to red, but it does offer mobility for certain scenarios and is viable for leveling and low difficulty group content. Similarly, the yellow line does not offer enough damage to be considered viable, but it is a strong choice for leveling group content, especially if your group does not have a traditional tank.




Lore & Fantasy
Inspired by Gandalf, Radagast, and other wizards, the Lore Master (LM) is a powerful spellcaster with animal pets who has keen great knowledge on creatures of Middle Earth. LMs are infamous for grandiose effects that can cause lag.

Class Description
Lore Masters bring a lot of utility to battle while using magic spells to defeat and weaken enemies with the aid of a variety of animal pets that they can summon. Using their lore knowledge, LMs can debuff enemies, heavily weakening them, and can give minor fellowship support. Other spells take a more destructive path, some dealing massive area-of-effect burst damage.

Gameplay Styles
The Lore Master holds a unique gameplay style with a variety of induction-based damaging spells, debuffs, some fellowship support spells, and pet management. For damaging spells, basic abilities provide slowly-built damage over time, while powerful AoE spells provide strong burst damage but have long cooldowns. In a more supportive role, LMs provide strong instant cast debuffs to weaken enemies and make them more vulnerable to attacks, have a small variety of heals for the fellowship, can restore power, and provide other utility buffs and debuffs. Pets primarily work passively, but can provide valuable damage, combat boosts, and debuffs.

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | Keeper of the Animals | Tactical DPS (Pet-focused) - Pet-centric LM with greatly empowered pets who can provide utility through valuable combat benefits and buffs. LM and pet attacks and abilities can benefit each other. Generally, the LM focuses on spellcasting and pet management.
  • Red | Master of Nature's Fury | Tactical DPS (Spell-focused) - Focuses on damaging spells, specializing in area-of-effect burst damage and slowly built sustain damage over time.
  • Yellow | The Ancient Master | Support - Focuses on debuffing and fellowship support spells, ultimately weaking enemies and bringing a lot of utility.

Lore Master solo gameplay: Lore Masters offer a unique solo experience as a high powered, but squishy spellcaster with pets that can tank damage. At low levels, their pets often dominate enemies, but get progressively weaker at higher levels as the LM's damage improves. Thus, the blue line is a solid option for low levels, but becomes weaker over time and is rarely used at high levels, where the red line becomes favored for high damage. The yellow line does not provide much benefit for a solo LM, as there is no one else to take advantage of all of the debuffs and support!

Lore Master group gameplay: In endgame content, Lore Masters are most valued for their support in the yellow line as a debuffer and minor off-healer with some utility. The red line, while it can fill the DPS role in leveling and low-difficulty group content, is sometimes avoided due to lag-causing effects, and at endgame is outperformed by other classes. Generally, blue line does not provide enough damage or benefit to be run in group content, although, the utility may be found useful on rare occasion.




Lore & Fantasy
The Minstrel is a master of music and song, which is primarily used to bolster allies, making them known as the 'heart of the fellowship'. They may also choose to use their bardic talents more destructively, damaging enemies. Minstrels are known for their ability to tutor other players in learning instruments, which can be played using the in-game music system.

Class Description
Minstrels bring hope to battle by utiitizing songs, cries, calls, ballads, anthems, and finishing codas. They function like a tactical spellcaster with ranged instant-cast damaging abilities and a variety of healing and group-buffing abilities.

Gameplay Styles
Minstrel gameplay generally involves the ballad-anthem-coda system with a large variety of other abilities that heal, deal damage, and/or give support. They have three stances which changes how skills function and gives the Minstrel a focus for combat - (1) healing, (2) buffs and support, (3) damage - each giving a unique gameplay experience. However, all stances utilize use ballads, which give minor buffs, deal, damage or healing; anthems, which give strong fellowship buffs and boosts their coda; and codas, which provide powerful healing or damaging effects. Minstrels also carry an assortment of induction-based healing spells and instant-cast crires and calls that deal large critical and AoE damage.

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | The Watcher of Resolve | Healer - Focuses on healing allies while providing defensive buffs through anthems.
  • Red | The Warrior-Skald | Tactical DPS - Focuses on damaging enemies with powerful cries and calls, while anthems provide offensive buffs.
  • Yellow | The Protector of Song | Support-Healer - Takes a balanced approach with damaging and healing aspects while focusing on supporting the fellowship through powerful anthems. Can both damage and heal, although, they are individually weaker compared to other specs.

Minstrel solo gameplay: With instant-cast damaging abilities that can be used while moving, Minstrels provide a fast-paced solo leveling/questing experience, with the red line providing the most damage (by far). The yellow line may infrequently be useful when attempting to solo difficult content as you can better heal yourself.

Minstrel group gameplay: Minstrels are most valued for their healing. Usually, this in the blue line for maximized healing and moderate buffs, but the yellow line may be used for some additional damage and support if not as much raw healing output is required. The red line may provide moderate AoE damage as the DPS role, although it is rarely taken for it, especially at endgame where other classes typically outperform as a tactical DPS. Generally, the Minstrel is expected to heal in group content.




Lore & Fantasy
The Rune Keeper (RK) is a master of language and runes. Using runestones and linguistics, they cast spells to create lightning, fire, frost, or to heal allies. RKs are the only class to use the runestone weapon type, a small rune-carved stone from which they cast spells through "speaking".

Class Description
Rune Keepers may be destructive with their spellcasting or heal allies in combat. They use the unique scale-based attunement system in which there is Neutral Attunement in the middle (passive resting state out of combat) and Battle Attunement on one side with Healing Attunement on the opposite, empowering the RK's damaging or healing abilities, respectively.

Gameplay Styles
Rune Keeper gameplay is centered around the attunement system. Basic abilities build attunement while it is consumed by powerful abilities with unique effects. Some utility-type abilities bring you closer to Neutral Attunement. Fire spells are induction-based and deal damage over time, lightning spells are instant and deal strong critical damage, frost spells offer utility and minor support through debuffs, and healing spells restore morale over time. RK gameplay varies greatly by spec and will determine which element you focus on.

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | Benediction of Peace | Healer - Focuses on healing allies with heal over time abilities and bubbles which prevent damage.
  • Red | Cleansing Flame | Tactical DPS (Fire) - Focuses on induction-based fire spells to deal damage over time, both area-of-effect and single-target.
  • Yellow | Solitary Thunder | Tactical DPS (Lightning) - Focucses on instant-cast lightning spells for mobility to deal instant damage with large critical hits, primarily in single-target.

Rune Keeper solo gameplay: The RK offers two separate solo playstyles with the yellow line often being favored for quick damage, mobility (instant casts usable while moving), and AoE crowd control through stuns and dazes. The red line starts combat slower with inductions and less CC, but deals strong burst damage and has good damage over time to back it up.

Rune Keeper group gameplay: Rune Keepers broadly bring utility to group content, especially with their in-combat res buff: Do Not Fall This Day. Outside of that, they offer some of the best raw healing output in the game with the blue line, but offer little support to go with it (which can be an important factor in group content). Both yellow and red provide moderate damage in ST and AoE. Historically, both DPS specs provide similar damage while having differences in their group utility and ST and AoE effectiveness. During some periods, one may provide more overall damage than the other, but this balance ebbs and flows with updates (for example, yellow did more damage in early 2021, but starting in mid 2021, red did more damage).




Lore & Fantasy
Inspired by Haldir, the Warden is a mobile and agile combo-based combatant who can muster wherever needed. As tank or DPS, they use a one-handed melee weapon (often a spear) along with a unique Warden's shield and a javelin for ranged combat.

Class Description
Known for their complexity, Wardens provide a unique experience for LOTRO and the MMORPG genre with their combo-based gambit system and equipment loadout. The gambit system involves using gambit builders in a certain order and pattern to make Gambits, which are powerful abilities that may provide damage, utility, crowd control, buffs, debuffs, and heals - similar to normal skills.

Gameplay Styles
With constant shouting and attacking enemies with weapon, shield, and javelin, Warden gameplay revolves around the gambit system. Gambits are a set of skills that are built towards through a certain pattern of 2-5 gambit builders. Gambit builders deal a small amount of damage and have minor effects with them. The true power of Wardens is unlocked by mastering the gambits, which there are many of, but the most commonly used ones provide strong bleeds, light damage over time, buff defenses, debuff enemies, morale tap enemies (functions like draining their health), and self-heal. In addition to gambits, Wardens offer a few basic skills with their javelin and a small variety of additional utility abilities. Wardens have two stances to choose from, which alter gambits - (1) Recklessness for meleee and (2) Assailment for ranged.

Roles & Specs
  • Blue | Determination | Tank - Agile tank who focuses on avoiding enemy attacks and self-sustain while dealing strong damage with bleeds and light damage-over-time in single-target and area-of-effect. Primarily melee, but has access to the ranged stance (Assailment) for a unique ranged tank experience.
  • Red | Recklessness | Melee DPS - Focuses on melee gambits, dealing damage through bleed damage-over-time in single-target and light damage-over-time in both single-target and area-of-effect.
  • Yellow | Assailment | Ranged DPS - Focuses on javelin skills, providing some utility and support, and ranged gambits, which bleed enemies, deal relatively high upfront damage, and debuff enemies.

Warden solo gameplay: Wardens provide a very strong solo experience. With a focus on DoTs, the full effects and potential of your abilities are not always realized in questing/leveling solo gameplay. Both DPS specs are good choices for leveling, where the red line provides strong damage over time and moderate burst damage with AoE skills, while the yellow line provides strong damage from afar, and at high levels can get high damage over time in the melee stance (Recklessness) as a ranged/melee hybrid. Wardens are also very self-sufficient with self-heals and high defenses in the blue line, which can be used to solo difficult and even some group content.

Warden group gameplay: In endgame, Wardens are usually desired for their high DPS, especially in longer fights where they have time to cast many gambits and build up their damage over time. Both the DPS specs are viable, with the yellow line usually weaker at lower levels as a ranged DPS, but strong at high levels as a mix ranged and melee DPS with additional group support provided. The red line provides more consistent damage over time and is often chosen for group content both while leveling and at endgame. Although once viable, endgame is no longer geared towards the tanking style of a blue line Warden. Therefore, it is reserved for easy content and group content while leveling. However, tanking Wardens can provide the highest DPS (and aggro) amongst tanks when better defenses are not needed and they have the unique ability to ranged tank (which is never required, but has some benefits and is a strong option for a few dungeon/raid fights).



Class Changes Since 2021




Now that we are up to the second entry in this new annual guide series, this one has a new section covering major class differences and changes since last year's (2021) guide!
Major class changes since start of 2021:
  • Brawler was added to the game as LOTRO's newest class!
  • Update 30 brought a sweeping set of class changes, mostly with buffs, but also nerfing Captain tanking and broadly the strength of support specs (they are still very useful - just slightly less necessary).
  • The new Legendary Items system impacted class balance due to how much class power is tied to the legendary item system (both old and new). Overall, classes generally have similar balance to before the system, but some specs were buffed as a result of the new system.
  • Finally, the Fate of Gundabad expansion pack brought all new content, gear, armour set bonuses, and consumables, which all indirectly impact balance (especially for endgame progression).



Closing Thoughts




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The goals of the guide include:
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