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Choosing a Class, Part 1: Soloing

Choosing a Class, Part 1: Soloing

As with all MMOs, there are several factors to consider when choosing a class in LOTRO. Every LOTRO class is quite capable of soloing, although some are definitely better at it than others. Will you enjoy the soloing playstyle of the class you choose?  This article looks at the flavor and combat feel of each class while soloing, while grouping factors are discussed in Part 2.

Just the Facts

There's plenty of information about the basics of each class in the character creation UI and on lotro.com.

Now, Opinions

If I could create my ideal soloing class, it would probably be one that could kill fast, dodge enemies blows, self-heal, and travel quickly from place to place -- all with a fluid, insta-cast playstyle. The Superman class doesn't exist in LOTRO, but each one of my favorite capabilities does appear in one or more classes.

Frequently topping the list of best LOTRO soloers are Hunter, Warden and Champion.

What Hunter lacks in instant-cast skills, it more than makes up for in killing efficiency. It's a fun, easy-to-play class, and has the best travel skills in the game. Hunters are the only class able to track foes, and are unrivaled at hunting rare monsters. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of folks playing Hunter.

Warden is another popular choice. Warden is a premium class included in the Mines of Moria expansion or, with the launch of LOTRO Free-to-Play, as a standalone purchase in the LOTRO Store. Warden has excellent self-heal tricks and good survivability, especially against large groups of mobs. The Warden playstyle is much more challenging than a Hunter's because it relies on Gambits - specific sequences of three quick skills. To be effective the player should have a good memory for dozens of possible gambit sequences, and the reflexes to continually spam the quick skills. Warden has fast travel skills almost as good as a Hunter's.

Champion is also a popular and easy-to-play soloing class with exceptional Area of Effect (AoE) damage skills. Cuisinart time, baby! Champions give up defense to pump out max damage and so tend to die from over-ambition at times. They have no special travel skills.

Guardians can also wade into a bunch of mobs and do decent AoE damage in Overpower stance. They won't kill as fast as a Champion, but they have excellent survivability. Guardians get a travel skill that enables group members to summon them from just about anywhere in the world.

At the other extreme of the survivability scale is Rune-keeper in damage attunement. Like Warden, Rune-keeper is a premium class included in the Mines of Moria expansion or, with the launch of LOTRO Free-to-Play, as a standalone purchase in the LOTRO Store. Rune-keepers can put out damage to rival a Hunter and kite mobs with a wonderfully fluid, insta-cast playstyle. Rune-keepers are the true "glass cannons" of LOTRO, so kiting is often a necessity. They are very squishy and die fast if overrun.

In War-Speech stance Minstrels do very fast damage in quick bursts, including some AoE damage. Their soloing playstyle uses lots of fast-casting skills, some of which must be used in a particular order.  This can give Minstrel combat an "on rails" feel. Minstrel attack skills require a lot of power to cast, and at times it may be necessary to regen power between fights. Despite severely reduced healing in War-Speech mode Minstrels have some of the best self-healing tricks for soloing.

The three support classes - Lore-master, Captain, and Burglar, are all well-rounded soloers. Lore-master is a very effective soloer that relies on pets, debuffs, mezzes, stuns and roots in addition to damage skills. The Lore-master playstyle is planned and deliberate, and relies on several skills which have long cast times. What it lacks in fluidity, the Lore-master more than makes up for in power. Lore-masters can solo much more difficult encounters than most other classes.

Captains rely on buffs and pets to augment their melee damage. The Captain class has a somewhat limited number of melee skills, including skills that can be used only after the death of an enemy. Coupled with the tendancy to use slow, two-handed weapons, captain solo combat has an almost leisurely feel to it. Captains have good survivability tricks, including heals. The have no special travel skills themselves, although they can summon others to them.

Burglar damage is highest when attacking from stealth, but the time creeping up behind enemies slows down their overall soloing speed. They can control adds using mezzes, stuns, and - at high levels - a root, evade attacks and even vanish if needed to survive. They excel at exploring dangerous areas safely. Burglars have no special travel skills, although they can share their stealth with a group member.

My own preferred soloing class, by the way, is Rune-keeper. I like the fluid playstyle and I'm happy to trade away survivability for faster killing.

Test-Driving a Class

Unlike other MMOs, skills aren't obsoleted by levels in LOTRO. Instead, your character gradually builds up a full set of class skills that grow in strength with level. This means you'll need to level a class to 20 or 25 to earn enough skills to really get a feel for how it plays.

If you find you don't like the "feel" of LOTRO it may be your class, not the game. Try a different one. There are signficant differences in the combat feel of each class.

Related articles

Choosing a LOTRO Server
Choosing a Class, Part 1: Soloing
Choosing a Class, Part 2: Grouping
Winning Race & Class Combos
Classes on LOTRO.com