LOTRO Legendarium: Is the Burglar LOTRO’s least-loved class?


In most MMOs that I play, I confess a certain attraction — if not affinity — for seeking out the least-played and -loved class that title has to offer. It can be a lot of fun walking down the path less traveled, especially if it’s with a role that is underrated by most folks.

For Lord of the Rings Online, that well may be the Burglar. Time and again, it ranks as one of the smallest populations in the game, seemingly stocked by contrarians who delight in making this pariah their flagship. But why is the Burg so disrespected — and is it time to reevaluate this class in 2023?

The lack of Burglar love is odd when you consider two factors. First, “rogue-type” classes in MMOs tend to be obnoxiously popular with players who live and die on the DPS meters. And second, the class name and inspiration comes from a beloved figure in the Middle-earth universe: Bilbo Baggins himself.

I remember back in the day that the Bilbo connection prompted a lot of players to want to make their own Hobbity burg to follow suit… and then soon became disillusioned with the class and wandered off to other roles.

Originally, the Burglar was designed to be a big part of LOTRO’s early group-heavy composition. One of its key features, in fact, was the ability to trigger conjunctions (or fellowship maneuvers) on demand, something no other class could do. But then when FMs fell out of favor in the both the community and the dev team, this support class found itself floundering for identity.

Throughout its lifespan, the Burglar’s had a rough go of it. Either it was simply subpar in every way that mattered, or it lacked some key defining feature that made it a “must-play” class. I’ve watched as Turbine-turned-SSG struggled to find a purpose for the Burglar, but more often than not, the poor dual-wielding class remained neglected.

I don’t think it’s fair to say that this has continued to be the case. It’s not a terrible class, and those who play a burg swear by their love for it. But it’s a hard sell even in 2023.

So what are the downsides to a Burglar? At first glance, there seem to be many. It only has medium armor, no long-range attacks, and a serious lack of AOE abilities. Dual wielding is done better by Champions (who can AOE like nobody’s business, too), and it’s not seen as a necessary part of any fellowship or raid group, even though it can contribute by debuffing mobs. A lot of Burglar players note that the class takes a while to come into its own, so you have to be patient working your way up through the levels until it starts to gel.

Yet the Burglar isn’t without hope — or points in its favor. The fact that it can slip into stealth not only allows for combat to be on the player’s terms but also easy entrance and exits out of tricky areas. It’s got a surprising amount of self-utility with crowd control and heals, resulting in few combat situations that the Burglar can’t survive or escape from if needed. And these days its single-target DPS is very strong, with few targets standing against it for long.

It is a slightly more complex class that requires some finesse to play well. And if you go the gambler spec, then you’re going to have to contend with some RNG and uncertainty during each encounter.

And when you push combat aside to look at exploration, it’s here that the Burglar shows another underrated blessing. Because it can stealth so well, the whole of Middle-earth is open to it poking and prodding without having to stop and fight mobs every two seconds. This is great for exploration deeds, screenshots, travel, and general curiosity.

The Burglar could use some more definition and love by SSG, but it’s far from a useless and pointless class. In fact, it might be the best kept secret in the roster.

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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