LOTRO Legendarium: What class should you pick in LOTRO?



Thanks for coming to the column! See you in the next one!

What, you want a bit more than that? Sheesh, fine. I’ll stop amusing myself here and actually be somewhat helpful. With 11 classes on its roster, Lord of the Rings Online’s character creation page can ratchet up the stress as you sweat which class will be right for you. To assist with that, I’m going to go through several questions in today’s column to help you whittle down your final pick.

What’s the best soloing class?

Let me put this out front: Every single class in LOTRO will be able to solo landscape content with no problem. But if you want an edge here, you’re going to want classes with higher mobility (speed buffs, extra ports), some ranged options, and decent survivability. So I think the best soloers you’ll find in this game are Hunters, Wardens, and Beornings. All three move and kill quickly, and the first two are granted extra map skills.

What fighting styles does each class have?

To break it down simply:

  • Melee combat: Beornings, Brawlers, Captains, Guardians, Burglar, Warden, Champion
  • “Magic” ranged: Minstrels, Rune-keepers, Lore-master
  • Physical ranged: Warden, Hunter

What’s the class with the highest damage output?

This is actually an easy question to answer, since SSG has already stated that it’s structuring the game to have Champions and Hunters at the top of the DPS meters (all things being equal).

What’s the class with the best AOE fighting style?

Since you’ll often be fighting packs of mobs in this game, being able to take on groups of them at once is quite helpful. Once again, Champions are the undisputed kings of AOE, although they’re not the only ones. Wardens, Guardians, Minstrels, Rune-keepers, and even Lore-masters are no stranger to multi-mob DPS.

What’s the most group-friendly class?

If you want to be the kind of class that everyone is excited to see show up in a group, you really can’t go wrong with a Captain or Lore-master, as both bring a whole lot to the table with buffs and battlefield-changing utility.

What’s the best healer?

All of LOTRO’s healers can acquit themselves well, so you’re not going to go wrong by picking any of these (dependent on your spec, that is). Beornings are weirdly one of the most popular in the meta these days, thanks to their yellow line, but Rune-keepers and Minstrels are solid picks. Not as many people heal on Cappys or Lore-masters, but it can be done.

What’s the best tank?

Guardians, who struggle to be noticed in almost every other category, are the supreme tanks of LOTRO with a hefty shield and some fun, physical gameplay. Captains, Wardens, and Beornings all have some great strengths in the tank role, but each sports weaknesses as well. Some people also swear by Champions as a strong off-tank, depending on the skill of the player behind it.

What are the newest classes?

If you like new and shiny options, then the Brawler is the fresh face on the block, having arrived in 2021. Before that, it was the Beorning in 2014.

What’s the easiest class to play?

Some people hate overly complex classes and hew to roles that require only a few button presses to win the day. I get it, and I’m not going to judge if this is you. Champions and Hunters are both seen as pretty faceroll classes, but I’ll also toss in Beornings for a rather limited skill selection in bear form (where you’ll be spending most of your combat time).

What’s the most unique class?

Ooh, now we’re getting interesting! The Brawler certainly distinguishes itself with brutal hand-to-hand combat (something most MMOs don’t even both with) and some spiffy effects. The Burglar has a few unique mechanics, particularly in its gambler line, that lend it a different feel. But for the real answer here, I’m going with the Warden and its gambit system. It’s unlike anything else in the game (and seldom duplicated in the broader genre to boot).

What’s the most underplayed class?

Excluding Brawlers, which are low on the charts right now because of their newer status, I’d say Burglars, Beornings, and Wardens are the classes that aren’t picked quite as much. For Burglars, this is because the class isn’t in a great state right now. Beornings… well, not everyone wants to look at a bear butt. And Wardens often turn people off with the gambit system.

Underplayed classes often can be underrated, though players of those classes will extol their lesser-known virtues if anyone will listen.

What’s the most durable class?

All of the heavy armor-wearing classes — Captains, Guardians, Beornings, Champions — are going to be inherently more durable, particularly for the ones that can tack on extra healing.

What class/race combinations are still restricted?

SSG has lessened the restrictions on pairings considerably over the past few years, and I’d bet that in a couple more, every combination will become available save for Beorning. That said, as of November 2022, you can’t make Dwarf Burglars, Elf or Hobbit Captains, Dwarf or Stout-Axe Lore-masters, or Hobbit Rune-keepers.

What classes have pets?

If you’re a pet lover like I am, then you really have only two options here. The Captain does get a herald, although even in archer form it’s not anything to write home about. The Lore-master is the real pet master, with a stable of situation-specific animals to use while leveling. I suppose you might also toss in Rune-keepers in this category if you consider their totemic rocks to be an immobile “pet.”

What class has the most utility?

Captains certainly have a jack-of-all-trades toolkit if you’re looking for a little of everything. Wardens can adapt to almost every situation (if you remember the gambits), Burglars have some interesting side abilities, and Lore-masters are almost weighed down by scads of quirky skills and debuffs.

What class should you play?

Ultimately it comes down to a simple factor that I can’t answer for you. You should play whatever class suits you best. If you’re forcing yourself to play a class that has a playstyle you hate or a theme that rubs you the wrong way, you’re going to be miserable and abandon it at some point. Experiment with all 11 classes, take them up to 20 (to get a good sampling of early game skills and combat styles), and listen to your gut — not peer pressure.

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.
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