Picking a race to play in Lord of the Rings Online isn’t as consequence-free as you might encounter in other MMORPGs. For starters, the races have specific starting zones and dictate which classes you can and cannot access, which is kind of a bummer but necessary (I guess) for lore reasons.
For this column, I looked through all of the active racials (ignoring the ones that fiddle with stats, weapon damage bonuses, resistances, and virtues) in order to rank them and offer up my commentary on their usefulness — or uselessness. We’re going to start with the worst of them all and work our way to the best racials in the game. Let’s go!
Stout-Axe Dwarf: Fortitude of the Stout-axes
Ooh, a 1% shadow mitigation for your entire fellowship… for just two-and-a-half minutes. With a 30-minute cooldown. It’s so negligible as to be forgettable.
Beorning: Feral presence
Activate this and you’ll toss a fate buff onto every teammate for 10 minutes. It’s not like everyone is clamoring for fate, but hey, free buff is a free buff.
Elf: Power of the Eldar
The same as above, but for power. I guess your healers will thank you to get 2% more power for 10 minutes? It’s not really blowing up my skirt.
High Elf: Grace of Valinor
I’m always dubious about extra rezzes as racials. If your teammates are dying, then I’d rather have a skill to prevent that than to clean up afterward. This can only be used out of combat, so… yeah. It’s not that thrilling.
Hobbit: Throw stone
As much as I love the flavor of Hobbits tossing stones like in the books, this skill always struck me as disposable. I guess the daze would be OK, but unless you’re using this as a pull or something, chances are you have much better attacks to be using.
Beorning: Return to Grimbeorn’s Lodge
I’m raking this pretty low because while the Beorning starting area is pretty and all that, it’s far away from the rest of lowbie civilization and therefore won’t be used as much to get a free port to the main city hubs.
High Elf: Travel to Caras Galadhon
This teleport is a bit better than the Beorning’s, if only that you have to go to Caras Galadhon several times during the epic. It’s a super-annoying city to navigate, though, so I avoid it like the plague.
Dwarf: Dwarf-endurance and Man: Duty-bound
I’m just not that keen on these fellowship buffs (I guess it depends on how often you team up), but if I had to have one, either of these with additional morale is going to be welcome in any group.
Elf: Sylvan Shadows and Hobbit: Hobbit-stealth
These are kind of not-so-great stealth skills on a long cooldown that are only useful in certain situations. Nice to have, but I don’t trust these skills, so I’ll only use them if I am desperate and want to try to bypass mobs to get to an objective or safety.
Beorning: Bracing roar
A 30-minute cooldown for a morale and wrath boost is decent, although I suspect that the non-scaling morale will negate some of the usefulness of this skill in higher levels. The wrath is nice, since Beornings always need more of that on the fly.
Beorning: Bake a honey-cake
Last December I wrote a column in which I gave praise to a much-neglected system in the game — food. In short, the buffs from consuming food can make a difference in your daily adventures. The Beorning’s ability to make honey-cakes on demand is not just a minor money-saver, it’s darned convenient. Plus, the cakes in question scale up as you level, so you’ll never out-level their usefulness. My only complaint? The short five-minute buff duration.
Stout-Axe Dwarf: Stout-shield
The 75% increased chance to block for 10-seconds is pretty significant… if you are a blocking class. Great for tanks, not as good for everyone else.
Elf: Eldar’s Grace
If you like the thought of parrying a lot during a 10-second window, this skill is for you. The increased parry rating and mitigation could be the difference between life and death. It’d be one of those skills you’d never take off your hotbar.
Dwarf: Endurance of Stone
Every 30 minutes, you can activate a 10-second damage shield that will negate 50% of everything coming at you. Obviously, this can be super-helpful at just the right moment, even more so while tanking. Weaker classes, such as Rune-keepers, stand to benefit from its increased survivability.
High Elf: Glory of the First Age
Here we have a three-second stun on a 30-minute cooldown. Used properly, this would be a great interrupt or a short-lived breather to get off some other cast time ability.
Man: Strength of Morale
It’s your no-nonsense heal. Nice to have, to be sure, but as it doesn’t scale up, it starts to lose its potency by the 80s or 90s.
Dwarf and Stout-Axe Dwarf: Return to Thorin’s Gate
A standard one-hour teleport. Thorin’s Gate isn’t exactly at the center of civilization, but you often need to go there for this or that (especially during festival season). And the stable-masters there go pretty much everywhere.
Dwarf: Head-butt and Man: Upper-cut
OK, maybe I’m immature, but head-butting or doing shoryukens to enemies never gets old. Ever. Plus, these have quick cooldowns, scaling damage, and a chance to daze a foe. If I was playing a melee Dwarf or Man, I’d actually use this — maybe exclusively. Has anyone head-butted Sauron lately?
Hobbit: Return to Michel Delving
I adore this teleport because Michel Delving has everything laid out very conveniently and offers great transport options. Plus, a lot of festivals head back to the Party Tree, and this will get you part of the way there.
High Elf: Wrath of the Firstborn
SSG has been giving better traits to these newer (and store-only) races, and this skill demonstrates how that is. Being able to boost your fellowship’s damage by 5% for 10 seconds every 10 minutes is something you’d use multiple times during a dungeon run — particularly when you hit each boss fight.
Man: Return to Bree
This might not seem like the sexiest skill, but you’ll use it so often thanks to Bree’s strategic location and full spread of services. A must-have.
Otherwise known as a “flop,” this skill to feign death comes on a 30-minute cooldown and is insanely useful. Sure, you might activate it if you get in over your head, but more often than not I’ll save it for times where I plow through dense camps of mobs, pick up a huge train, and then dump it all at the quest objective without having to fight a thing. It’s glorious.
Elf: Return to Rivendell
Out of all of the teleports, this one has to be the most single most useful one, especially in the first 60 or so levels. This is due to how many dang times LOTRO asks you to go back to Elrond. Plus, Rivendell is a good transport hub.