LOTRO Legendarium: Lord of the Rings Online’s new Mariner class is the swashbuckler we needed


A new class added to any MMORPG is bound to raise excitement and anxiety among fans, especially when they try to feel out whether the class will fit in with its older siblings or end up overpowered or horribly broken. It feels as though the stakes are fairly high for Lord of the Rings Online’s upcoming Mariner class, with some criticisms already being levied against its theming and the memory of the poorly received Brawler still lingering over the game. (Not to say that the Brawler isn’t a solid class, but I don’t think anyone can argue that it was a smash hit — no pun intended.)

This week we moved on from mere speculation to our first real preview of the Mariner, including its skills and trait trees. While there are months to go before its launch — and plenty of time for further adjustments and data mining — I wanted to dig into what we’ve found out about this class and how it might change up this MMO’s scene.

What is the Mariner?

The Mariner is primarily a medium armor melee class with strong support abilities and will be classified as an “advanced” class due to its challenging nature. The class uses daggers and one-handed swords, dual wielding them as a Champion or Burglar would. And yes, it’s a little odd that one-handed axes — a staple for sea-faring warriors — is not included. Just like Minstrels, Mariners get an instrument to carry around for their shanties.

There’s a great focus on the flow of battle with the Mariner, requiring players to constantly adjust their skill rotations to any given situation — and to keep balanced (more on that in a bit).

The class is inspired by Earendil, “who alone of men successfully sailed to the Uttermost West to plead for the aid of the Valar.”

What races can be a Mariner?

Currently, the Mariner is available to only four races: High Elf, River Hobbit, Man, and Stout-axe. You’ll notice that only one of those — Man — is not and was never a premium race, which will no doubt cause some consternation in the community. (High Elves and Stout-axe Dwarves were made free last year, however.)

What skills and mechanics does the Mariner have?

The key mechanic for the Mariner class is the balance bar. This sifts left (“foreward”) and right (“aftward”) depending on skills used. This sounds similar in a way to the Rune-keeper’s attunement meter, except that here the main goal is to keep the bar balanced in the center (“steady”) as much as possible. If you go too far in either direction and become unbalanced, bad stuff starts happening to you — namely, you get debuffs and are even stunned. So it’s in your best interests to stay balanced as much as possible.

Figuring out which skill moves the bar which way isn’t too difficult, as the devs have color-coded them. Blue skills (mostly defensive) move the bar aftward, while red skills (mostly offensive) move the bar foreward.

If you think of the Mariner as a flashy fencer, you’ll be in the ballpark of what SSG is doing with this class. Many of its abilities draw from fencing, swashbuckling, and pirate tactics, including feints and ripostes, tossing healing bottles, calling upon the North Wind, and establishing a “blade shield.” As you fight, you’ll find that many of the Mariner’s melee abilities chain off of each other, strengthening the next one if done in the right order to build up powerful combos.

There are many buffing and debuffing abilities that the Mariner will collect over the levels. These will no doubt be more effective and diversified if you take the blue or yellow line.

And for those players envious of Warden or Hunter ports, you may find a good ally in the Mariner. This class gets its own line of free ports, although these are all to settlements next to the water, such as Buckland, Celondim, and Tinnudir.

What are the Mariner’s trait trees?

There are three distinctive styles of play available for the Mariner. The blue line is the Shantycaller, which uses songs to buff and heal others in a similar way to the Captain’s red line. The red line, the Duelist, is a flashy fighter with strong combo attacks against a single target. Then there’s the Rover in the yellow line, which uses bombs and other alchemical contraptions to debuff and defeat enemies (SSG says it’s similar to how the Lore-mster’s Ancient Master and the Burglar’s Mischief-maker functions).

So which one appeals to what kind of player? The Shantycaller and Rover both are incredibly group-friendly, with lots of traits the improve allies or hinder enemies and help the whole team to win. If you primarily like to solo, the Duelist looks to be a DPS powerhouse with some nice evasion utility baked into its build.

Thoughts on the Mariner

Before we got this preview, my feelings on the Mariner were strictly neutral. I was open to being impressed or excited about it, but if it looked boring, I wasn’t going to change up my fall plans. Well, now I’m changing them because I’ve absolutely got to create a River-hobbit Mariner!

Three things really pop out at me with the Mariner. The first is that this is a class that’s full of utility, which is something I prize highly in my LOTRO classes. It’s a flexible class that can bring a whole lot to the table in a group setting while still being a fierce fighter while solo. The ports are a wonderful bonus to the heals, buffs, and debuffs going on here. I get tired of paying for extra milestones in the store, so having these extra mapping abilities are going to help with keeping costs done.

The second point of interest is the class’ general motif. It’s definitely more of a swaggering Mariner than your generic pirate, and I appreciate that there’s a veneer of nobility here. It reminds me greatly of those old swashbuckling epics — or even of The Princess Bride — where a dashing hero uses quick swordplay and improvised wits to save the day. The skills, traits, and even the balance bar are wonderfully themed around this nautical class.

Third, the balance mechanic is going to keep combat spicy. This isn’t a class you’re going to be able to faceroll with the same rotations in every fight. It clearly requires you to pay attention and strategize on the fly without being as devilishly complex as the Warden.

I do have a few minor points of disappointment, however. I am genuinely surprised at the restricted race limitations, which makes me wonder whether this is a time constraint thing that’ll gradually change in future patches. And as I was disappointed that the River-hobbits don’t actually swim faster, I’m a little bummed that the Mariner doesn’t get a boat of any kind (at least, on screen). Maybe a houseboat neighborhood is called for at this point?

But yeah, I’m really psyched. The yellow line, with its tricks and concoctions, looks the most appealing to me, but I’ll be sure to try them all out when the Mariner arrives this fall.

For more coverage, check out these YouTube streams!

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.
Previous articleAion EU kicks off 14th anniversary celebrations, Aion Classic NA preps a server merge
Next articlePvP MMO Abyss admits it began life as a crypto game selling ‘satirical poop’ NFTs

No posts to display

oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments