Tank like a girl
Sep 14 2010

Tanking in LotRO: the Guardian

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The World of Warcraft is a strange one, because right now it’s hard to get away from the absolute lull between expansions. Unlike the transition from TBC to WotLK, my bucket list is very very short, as I only want to add Kingslayer to my collection of titles and otherwise am done with it. I am done with daily frost emblem farming. I am done with reaching my gold goal of going into Cataclysm with 100k gold. I am not quite done with my Zandalar rep farming, but I am 8% through Revered.

So what’s a girl do when not raiding in WoW? Checking out other games! In not raid-time I currently play Lord of the Rings Online. Back when it launched in 2007 I played the beta for a while. It didn’t hold my attention at all. It was too similar to WoW, and at the time WoW was too exciting, with TBC almost ready to launch, so I never dedicated much time to beta-testing.

Fast forward to summer 2010 and the announcement that LotRO would be going Free to Play in fall. Back then I already planned to revisit the game, and so that’s what I started a couple weeks ago, downloading the client and getting a trial code for LotRO in Europe. I then enjoyed the game so much that I picked up a copy of the game plus the first expansion for a whopping 4.99 Euro and continued playing. Big advantage: I got to say hi in game to Spinks and Arb from Welcome to Spinksville. Yay! I intend to play LotRO casually until Cataclysm comes along, and F2P will be a blessing. Even when my sub runs out (though I have yet to subscribe, but likely will), I will still be able to log on and play.

Naturally, I felt drawn to the tanking classes. First observation: LotRO has no shortage of tanks whatsoever. When you look at their LFF (looking for fellowship) channels, healers are in high demand, specific utility classes are as well, but tank spots are usually filled. I have only run one instance so far, The Great Barrows, and our 6-man group consisted of FOUR tanks plus healer and DPS.

LotRO has two classes specifically designated for tanking, guardians and wardens. Guardians are LotRO’s version of protection warriors, but with a twist. Wardens are a so-called premium-class and require access to the first expansion or that you unlock them for a fee if you are a F2P player, and are…well, don’t know how to describe them. Javelin-and-spear wielding leather-clad woodspeople who use HoTs as their form of mitigation.

My Guardian Kadowyn on US-Brandywine is now level 17, so very far from the level cap. Still, I think I can compare a little bit to warriors in WoW.

Guardians just like warriors have different stances they can fight in. At my level I have 3 different stances: a block stance, a parry stance and Overpower stance which foregoes a shield and adds more melee damage. I tried going the 2H route for solo play, but you don’t really have enough non-tanking skills at my low level to make any effective use of it, as parries are few and far between. I mention parries because guardians have multiple reactive abilities. Kinda like Revenge, but with a twist. They have two lines of abilities, the first called Block and Counter and the second Parry and Retaliate. The first line of abilities get used when you block an attack. Like Revenge you then get to do a Shield Swipe, and once that’s hit you get another powerful attack called Bash. Alternatively, instead of using Shield Swipe, you can use Draw your Breath after blocking to self-heal yourself. When you parry an attack, you unlock Retaliation and that ability in turn unlocks Overwhelm. Instead of using Overwhelm, which is a single target powerful attack, you can use Whirling Retaliation which can hit up to 5 targets and transfers threat of all group members to you. How awesome is that? Screw Vigilance, here’s everyone’s threat!

What I really like is that you get two very distinct sounds that make it possible to immediately identify when you have blocked or parried. Two different kinds of chimes. Using DXE has taught me to respond to different sound queues in game, so I really appreciate that and wish Revenge had a unique sound now.

That’s just the basic tenets of the class, there’s a lot more. It really plays a lot like a warrior. You have a single target taunt, an AoE taunt, big threat attacks, stances. The major difference really is the range of the reactive abilities. Now, my tanking experience on this character is limited. You get a few escort solo instances, and in those I have no problems tanking. I also did a few fellowship quests with friends who started the F2P with me on Brandywine, and though they were 3-4 levels above me, I surprisingly managed to hold mobs on me for the most part. I think at level, this will turn out even better, and I think guardians pack quite a punch threat-wise. Their solo abilities are good too, though it’s all a bit slow. LotRO in general is a lot slower in pace than WoW.

My biggest beef that I have with tanking is that the controls are slow and the way combat animations work. Let’s say I whack a mob, lose aggro and then taunt the mob. In WoW I press Taunt and the mob is mine. In LotRO, I press taunt, my guardian does a taunting animation, and only after the animation has finished the mob turns to me. Some of the combat animations of abilities are loooong, though that’s less of a problem with guardians and more those of a warden. More about those at a later time. It just feels like the controls are not anywhere near as responsive as they are in WoW, and as a tank, that matters.

As I have not tanked instances or skirmishes yet (scaleable encounters in LotRO) on this guardian., I will leave it at that, but might tell you a bit more about Kadowyn another time.

Before anyone asks, no, I am not quitting WoW and this is still predominantly a WoW blog. But it doesn’t hurt to post about other stuff as well, especially as I still tank like a girl. :)

How about you guys, have you tried the tanking classes in other MMOs? Tempted by the F2P releases of LotRO and Everquest 2? Speak up! :)

Filed under : lotro, ramblings | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Tanking in LotRO: the Guardian”

  1. Arencey says:

    I played the trial of LotrO back when it was p2p but didn’t make much progress, I too have nothing left to do in wow I have no need for frost badges and there just doesn’t seem to be any raiding guilds recruiting at this point in the game so I’ll defintely be checking out LotrO again.

    Reply

  2. Spinks says:

    I think you’re right that combat isn’t as responsive as in WoW (actually most MMOs aren’t, that’s one of the things that Blizzard really got right.)

    I have played a guardian a bit in EQ2X, and it’s OK so far. Like you, I’m finding it very unresponsive compared to a warrior, and the damage is fairly low, but … it’s OK.

    Reply

  3. Arabani says:

    Playing eq2 for almost 6 years now and need to say it’s the best game atm, imo ofc. Great combination of solo, group play and raids, of hc and casual. Raids are much harder and tough then in WoW. World i just huge. And OMG you can have and decorate you own house :p
    There are 6 tank classes in eq2:
    Guardian-used to be MT for long time, but other tanks got some nice twiks around 1.5 years ago, along with guardians nerf.Many guardians emorage quite game or rerolled another class. So atm it’s realy hard to find good guardian and tbn guards have some problems. Soe trying to fix it, last update rewamped half skills for them. Still best protected tanks with lowest dps and some aoe agro problems( posibly fixed after last patch)
    Berserk-less protection skills, great aoe dps, some good death prevents. Many guardians betraed to this class.
    Paladin-havy protected(2nd after guardian), with nice dps and ability to heal\ward\cure. One of the best solo class in game. Can solo farm group instances or old raid zones. They took guardians MT spot.
    Shadow Knight-a bit less protection, a bit more dps. reactive heals and lifetaps. best PASIVE! death prevent in game( heal to max hp 2-3 trigers, so basicly they have 3-4 lives). best agro tanks.Toughest pvp class.
    Monk and Bruiser-leather wearing, avoidance tanks. Good dps. bruiser is better protected and have more utility for raid.

    About lotro-nice looking and fun to play game. Sadly there is nothing to do on high lvl, not enough content. Hope f2p will change it.

    Reply

  4. Voyvoy says:

    Being bored of WoW I have recently picked up Lotro as well (since it went free to play) and happened to go with a dwarf guardian of all things. (worst part about Lotro? no femdwarf!)

    Going from a warrior to a guardian certainly does feel like a downgrade. I like the reactive style of Proc-ing A ability first then B ability then C ability but the problem comes when you do NOT get the parry or block in the first place. Which extremely limits your AOE tanking ability. It would be like having shockwave on CD until you got a parry or thunderclap on CD if you haven’t dodged recently.

    Not to mention if you get stunned, knocked down or incapacitated and lose the proc (you get a ~5 second buff after you block or parry which opens up the next ability… which you obvious then lose if you can’t use it in that time frame).

    Having 3-4 adds join the fight and having your AOE shield taunt non-usable because you haven’t recently blocked really feels like it hinders your ability via RNG. Likewise having no decent name plates and no omen makes tanking rather random at best. (I tend to run around like a headless chicken trying to pick up everything).

    I tend to enjoy the game ‘in general’ but I feel so terribly in the dark about its actual mechanics. I have no idea how much threat I have or anyone else has and I have no time to read all the small debuff tooltips under my character to see what is actually going on in the fight.

    Maybe I or my groups are just doing something wrong but I hate not having the control I feel I have with a warrior in WoW.

    Reply

  5. Darth Skippy says:

    I play both WoW and LotRO. I have a 80 prot warrior and prot paladin in WoW and a 65 Warden and a 32 Guardian on LotRO (what can I say, I like tanks :) ).

    Warden tanking is a real breath of fresh air from a traditional tank. Playing a warden requires you to build “gambits” or your special attacks through 3 basic attacks (builders), spear, shield and shout. Gambits range from requiring 2 to 5 builders.

    Being a medium armour wearer they survive by being able to self heal. One of a high level wardens most important abilities called Conviction is a group DoT, and group threat transfer so you gain alot of healing threat as well as lowering everyone elses threat and increasing yours. A wardens basic DoTs stack so you can have a 2, 3, 4 and 5 strength DoT going as well as Conviction. A well played warden is a healers dream.

    The warden has a few downsides as well. Because you can only wear medium armour, if you are stunned without your DoT’s ticking over you have no mitigation. And unlike Guardians, Warden’s have no way of breaking out of stuns. Warden’s also lack a snap taunt. There is an ability that you can fire off very quickly that generates a high amount of threat, but it is not an instant taunt. And lastly if a Warden tank dies mid combat then it’s all over. The warden’s threat has been reset and must regain all the threat where as a Guardian has an ability that temporarily shoots them to the top of the threat table giving everyone a chance to recover.

    Even with those downsides playing a warden is a load of fun. Being able to kite a large group of mobs around just using javelin attacks and Conviction is just so much fun.

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  6. Duebie says:

    well each to there own i guess, But i find lotro a far better game than wow with a very helpful more mature players. The best bit is that alot of instances are soloable, plus gear score is destroying wow, ppl not getting equal gaming experiences because ppl scared they will wipe out so they just want over geared toon’s so they can do it quickly. Very unfair game unless you find a helpful guild and i tried loads they seem very rare. but as i said each to there own, enjoy what ever you play:)

    Reply

  7. Stodamir says:

    All I can say is that it makes no sense at all to write a comparison of Lotro Guardian to WoW Warrior when you haven’t reached max level in Lotro. The Guardian in Lotro isn’t a great tank until they reach the 40s, but the continue to increase in power up to max level. At 65 a guardian is an Amazing tank. With a weapon legacy that gives +targets for melee AOE abilities, my guardian can easily lock down aggro on 6-8 mobs. Guardian is probably the most effective tank I have played in any game. (Most all the payoff of the class is at high level though. Lower levels see the class as being very diluted.)

    Reply

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