LOTRO: Nine tips on starting out a new Lore-master

gandalfA couple posts ago when I was talking about how my mid-level Lore-master in Lord of the Rings Online was finally shaping up as a character, a few people commented about how squishy the class is and how hard it is to get a handle on how to best go about things.  So instead of replying back with a very long comment of my own, I thought I’d share some advice that I’ve learned from others and picked up through my own experiences.

The Lore-master is one of LOTRO’s “advanced” classes, which means that it is a little more complicated to play that the face-rolling Hunters.  For starters, there’s no straight comparison to other MMO classes going on here; the LM is a weird hybrid.  At first glance, it looks like a typical mage: He throws fireballs (well, burning embers) from a distance, summons lightning, etc.  But he also has a stable of pets.  And a couple of staff skills.  And a lot of crowd control.  So it’s a mage and it isn’t, it’s a pet class but not in the usual fashion, and it’s a crowd control class in an era where that sort of thing isn’t the norm anymore.

The way I think about Lore-masters is this: It’s a flexible class that has a lot of wriggle room to tailor to your own playstyle instead molding yourself to fit it.  It’s also a class that puts fights on his own terms instead of letting the enemy dictate the battle.

Here are nine quick tips that should get you off to a good start if you ever decide to roll one:

1. Pets are situational, not all-around.

Ask a veteran LM what the best pet is and you’ll get a different answer every time.  That’s because there’s no such thing as an all-around great pet — just a bunch of pets that are useful in different situations or for different playstyles.

Your first three pets will be the raven (level 2), bear (level 14), and lynx (level 30).  The raven has weak attacks but offers tactical mitigation that’s great for group content, boosts your fire attacks, and flanks fairly often.  The bear is slow-hitting but can semi-tank, stun, and debuff the enemy.  The lynx is a lightweight attacker that can do big burst damage but doesn’t scale well.

So be okay whipping out different pets from time to time instead of only sticking with one — at least until you get a handle on how they all work.

2. Lore-masters depend on melee for DPS.

Even though LMs have light armor, the class is designed to wade into fights and knock heads together.  If you don’t, you’re ignoring a LOT of DPS that this class can put out.  So be okay with getting hit while you hit back!  Plus, it’s satisfying to thunk heads with a staff — and just wait until you get a sword to go with it at level 40!

3. Blinding flash puts the battle on your terms

If you’re fighting more than one mob, take the extra out with blinding flash (level 10).  It’s a nice way to start a battle, since you can daze a mob for 30 seconds while his partner aggros.  While you have multi-mob skills, I’d rather fight one-on-one if I can help it.  Bane Flare (level 18) is best used when you have a pack swarm on you — it’s a stun followed by a daze, and can give you a bit of breathing room before combat resumes.

4. Beef up your morale

I’m a big believer in a beefy morale bar for my Lore-master.  There are a couple of traits that give you a big morale bump (Master of the Staff should be the FIRST class trait you pursue), as well as plenty of virtues.  You’re going to get hit, so be prepared for it.

5. Save Wizard’s Fire for flanks

Normally, Wizard’s Fire is an insta-cast DOT that’s nice for pulling and a little bit of extra DPS.  However, it has a bonus effect — a meaty self-heal — that happens following a pet flank.  Since your WF has a cooldown until level 54, always keep it in reserve for a potential flank.  That heal has saved my hide more than once, and it’s a horrible feeling when you get a flank and that sucker is on cooldown.

6. When using the bear, put his taunt on one of your hotkeys

I never used to use the bear, since on its own it doesn’t do a good job keeping mobs off of you — but that was before I figured out that his 10-second forced taunt is the jewel in his battle-chest.  The taunt can’t be auto-triggered, but must be clicked manually.  It’s a beautiful thing: When you activate it, it takes the mob off of  you for 10 precious seconds.  Usually, that’s enough time to win a fight right there.

7. Stuns — love ‘em, use ‘em.

If I can keep a mob out of commission or from hitting me for at least half of a fight, I’m doing my job.  Test of Will (level 6) and Light of the Rising Dawn (level 18) are beautiful stuns that do damage and give you a few seconds to fire off another skill or two.  I try to save one per fight while the other is on cooldown.

8. Switch tactics for a swarm of mobs

If you’re fighting three or more mobs at a time, you can get pulverized very quickly.  So you need to bust out a lot of multi-mob DPS, fast.  Your three key skills for this are Gust of Wind (level 8), Cracked Earth (level 14), and Staff Sweep (level 28).  Don’t forget to use Blinding Flash too, as well as any other stuns, dazes, or roots at your disposal.

9. Save debuffing for tough mobs

Most standard and weak mob fights are easy enough that you don’t need to be stretching them out by activating your debuffs each and every time.  But if you get to signature fights or above, definitely make debuffing your first priority.

My battle rotation

Here’s how I normally handle fights:

  • I throw Burning Embers (DOT + DPS) while my pet (usually the bear) runs in
  • If a stun is up, I activate a stun to stop the mob and allow me to get off another Burning Embers
  • If my stuns are down, I activate the bear’s taunt
  • I run in and use my staff attacks whenever they’re up
  • If flanking happens, I use Wizard’s Fire first, or Staff Strike if WF is on cooldown

It’s simple — but it works pretty dang well.  Usually the mob’s health is half gone or more before they land a single blow on me.  I don’t want to be casting anything with a casting bar if they’re within range, because setbacks are a waste of time (although there is a way around that).  Now, it’s not always this simple — some mobs and situations require adjusting strategy and throwing in a few more skills, but it’s what’s served me well up till now.

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14 thoughts on “LOTRO: Nine tips on starting out a new Lore-master

  1. There’s a great explanation of the Flanked mechanic at http://staffstrike.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/mechanics-flank/ (it’s too bad this blog has gone dark; it was shaping up to be a great LM resource).

    I would warn not to get too reliant upon the flanked heal – it’s useful in many solo and landscaping situations. In groups, tho, especially with a healer, it can be wasted as a heal. It could be better to use one of the other benefits of a flank: the extra DPS from staff-strike or the power-heal dot from staff-sweep. Power isn’t much of an issue post U10, but I have still used it, especially in the Battle of Erebor, where getting rooted by a skill such as the power drain can be very, very bad (and I’ve still seen guards/wardens/champs/cappies having power issues, but we’re still in a transition period where people are gathering gear with fate on it).

    Most LMs will open with a debuff (SOP: Command), send the pet in to start damage, and then start lobbing BE. Sending in the pet first can also help deal with groups of mobs, if you don’t have the root available. Stun one, let the pet maintain aggro on one, and you attack a third. There’s a skill on the pet bar that allows you to direct your pet to attack a specific target.

    Finally, be sure to understand how to control your pet so that you’re not aggroing things unnecessarily. The first 8 commands on the pet quick bar are the same, and are used to control the pet (the last 3 are unique to each pet). Make sure you know what each does and when to use a particular skill. I tend to toggle on the Guard and Assist skills. The Guard skill causes the pet to enter combat only when something attacks you; the Assist skill causes the pet to enter battle when you attack something. Lotro-wiki has a good explanation of each skill here (http://lotro-wiki.com/index.php/Pets).

  2. But… it’s not the Mastermind or Summoner. Do those classes include CC and melee combat? That’s why I said it’s a hybrid that isn’t often seen in MMOs — a Frankenstein monster built from the parts of well-known classes.

  3. I like the description of it, and my main in EQ2 was a Coercer which also used crowd control, stuns, nukes, a charmed pet (which could break charm and attack you at any time, especially during combat since any hit on it caused a break-check… exciting!), and melee too.

    I don’t know what it is in LotRO, though… I just didn’t connect with it in the early levels. Maybe I just don’t have the skill list built up enough for it yet, but it really just seemed to be a nuke-y mage with everything on long CD, a pet that helps with dps a little but only barely, and my only melee attack was a 12s CD staff attack. Nice enough, but.. 12s CD. Blech. I got to 10, looked at the skill list on the new trainer and decided it had already felt like a slog just to hit 10, when in those levels it seems like you sneeze in a mob’s general direction and get a level-up, so for THAT to feel like a slog…… yeah. It just wasn’t clicking with me.

    But, given this set of tips… perhaps sometime in the future. For now, I think I’m headed back to TSW to check out Issue 6, though ;-)

  4. OK, not played my Loremaster since the days of Mirkwood, but my advice would run contrary to your point 9. Your debuffs make you awesome – use them. Even in the fights you don’t really need them, use them to get into the habit of using them, because if you don’t you’ll forget to and then wonder why Loremasters suck :)

  5. Great post! I just started a LM alt last week, so this post comes at just the right time for me. I really like the class so far and fortunately have been on the right track according to your points :)

  6. You seem to be on the right track, but I would advise you to start off with Sign of Power: Command on every target. It has no cooldown.

    Also keep Sign of Power: Righteousness on yourself all the time. It’s in the number 1 slot on my quick bar.

  7. I’m having fun running around with my raven…thanks for the advice with regards to rotations, most other guides focus on the high level LM’s.

  8. Pingback: Lore Master playing with matches outside of Bree simply stunning | tsuhelm

  9. I went looking for this after hearing Syp talk about it in a recent Too Long Didn’t Listen. I also use Sign of Power right after I sent my pet in, followed by Burning Embers and gust of wind or cracked earth, followed by a stun, then more burning embers. When they get close enough, I whack ‘em good with my staff and sword. This class, after level 43, seems to evolve into one that’s much more fun and less fearfull. Up until then, it always seemed touch and go with survivability.

  10. Hey ! While checking my skills set, I noticed the ‘two-handed staves’ slot, but I can’t activate it ! Could you help with that please ?

    Thanks

  11. I’ve (as a geek might) flow charted how you handle a fight as a lore-master. I have several questions.
    1) what is bear’s taunt so I can key map it.
    2) How can I tell when flanking occurs, is it only bears, can I control it?

    3) what to do if no “flanking” occurs?

    I think I share your interest in LMs – if only for the sheer mental challenge I don’t get from my Guardian and Hunter. I LOVE my Burg! Help me love my LM more!

    Thank you.
    David Anthony.

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