Right now in LOTRO I’ve been bouncing between my level 65 Captain (who is busy raising all of her virtues up to 10 — 6 to go!) and my level 37 Lore-master. Obviously, I have a lot more content ahead of the LM than the Cappy, although I’m not burning with desire to plow through it all. I think there needs to be a bit of time between expeditions into Moria, and a few more months should cut it just fine.
But as I switch between characters, I’m very much aware of the differences of playstyles between the two. Captains, for all their awesomeness, are a basic, straight-forward class to play. You get your herald/standard ready, you buff up, and you go out and hit things. My attack rotation is fairly small — something like six skills I use regularly — and about the most excitement I get during a fight is when the death effect enables a couple of my reactionary skills, allowing me to heal or stun or buff my weapon speed a bit. I like the feeling of being tough, of swinging a mighty two-handed sword, and of siccing my ghost archer on poor bats — but again, it’s straight-forward.
The LM, on the other hand, is all over the place. They’re sort of a bag of tricks (I almost typed “ticks”, which would’ve been a bit itchier) that lack a unifying theme other than “do a little of everything”. This means that every fight is different — in fights against the undead, I can use my special Undead-Buster skills; in fights against crowds, I can CC decently; depending which pet I have active, I can go for front-loaded DPS, off-tanking or increased flanking abilities. The LM is both ranged (burning embers, gust of wind) and melee (two staff attacks), and generally I open with a few ranged attacks before swinging into the fray.
Both are good, although if I’ve been on my Captain for a while, I have to be careful of my survival as a LM — I tend to not watch my health as much. Both have pets, although LMs’ pets seem more up front as combat assistants whereas the Cappy’s pets are there to augment but not steal the show.
On a side note, I have to say that I wish more MMOs treated a staff/quarterstaff as a serious weapon. Even in LOTRO, I only have three attack animations (basic, staff strike and staff sweep), which is a shame because I’ve always found staffs to be intrinsically cool.
I don’t think LOTRO gets enough credit some days for the really interesting and varied twists Turbine put into these classes. No two classes really play alike, and some are so different (like the Warden) that it’s hard to believe they’re in the same game world as the other ones.