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The Way of the Warden

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Classes

Mae govannon maethyr, well met warriors! *Sigh* I suppose that is ‘howdy’ to you hobbits out there. Get your spears and shields and line up in formation, it’s time to talk a bit about what being a warden is all about. And no, we will not be having cucumber lembas for elevenses today, we just ate less than an hour ago! *Grumble* Ílluvatar grant me strength…

Let me start of by saying that the way of the warden is not easy, despite what you may have heard. Yes, at some point you will be able to perform legendary feats of daring and be a one-man fellowship, but the road there is long and dangerous. Wardens are at their most vulnerable when they are young; after about 20 levels of experience under your belt you should, however, be able to cope with any situation. That said, you will not be able to fulfill your potential at your main role, tanking, until later on, so don’t be surprised if your first forays into the Great Barrows do not go according to plan. Just let those strength stance hunters tank the mobs they pull and be done with it. My personal motto, while pugging, has always been: “If the tank dies, it is the healer’s fault; if the healer dies, it is the tank’s fault; and if a dps dies, it’s their own damn fault.” And it has served me well.

Now, on to the technical side of wardening,

"I said 'get in line and shut up!'"

 

Warden Stats

Build for Vitality - Might - Agility - Will - Fate, in that order. Get the first three as close to the "soft cap" (600) as you can and Captains' IDOME and +stat food will take care of the rest. The sweet spot for Will and Fate is between 250 and 300, after that you should just focus on raw +power and +ICPR.

Warden Stances

Determination is the first stance we get and buffs our in-combat morale regeneration. It’s not used much after Conservation is acquired, but can be handy if kiting a big hitter for a long time. But if that’s the case you’re better off traiting Way of the Warden. Can be improved by LI legacies.

Conservation is our tanking stance and buffs our in-combat power regeneration and avoidances. Can be improved by LI legacies.

Recklessness is the dps stance and buffs damage and attack duration while decreasing avoidances. Can be improved by LI legacies.

          

While the bubble can save you from being chewed up by bears, it does nothing against the cold of Forochel.  

Traiting

Spear line (Red) is our dps-line, and recommended for questing. For many end-game wardens, it is also the preferred line for instance/raid tanking (more on that in the shield section). A spear-traited warden can put out respectable damage, but an efficient dps-rotation combined with the recklessness stance will deplete the power supply very quickly. A dps role in fellowships is possible if you have a pocket LM, but most often there are classes available that are more suited for the job. Apparently some wardens with agility builds and specialized LIs have even managed to produce good ranged-dps, but that may just be a myth.

Shield line (Blue) is our soloing-stuff-that’s-so-crazy-most-people-won’t-believe-line, which some wardens also use for tanking. The problem with using this line for tanking is that it does not really add all that much to our defenses; it is focused on self-healing which, unfortunately, does not scale well in a raid environment. And since healing classes are very powerful at the moment, it does not offer great benefits in instances either. It is, however, absolutely fantastic for soloing elites and older instances.

Fist line (Yellow) is our least-utilized line. It grants extra threat, but does not offer anything else tanking-related. I personally only trait it for the Moors, for the Desolation and War Cry spam, but rarely since the spear line is superior in pvp because of javelin skill cd reductions and added damage.

In general, you should always have your three masteries (spear, shield, fist) traited. Some wardens make do with two, but I personally believe that the advantages of having all three are so great that having an extra trait is not enough to make up for the loss. This, of course, means that you only have four trait slots free and since we have quite a few useless traits, traiting is easy only you’ve chosen a line to focus on.

It should be noted that no matter which line you trait for instances/raids, the -builder power cost traits are very good to have and will lessen your dependency on a friendly LM.

Legendary Traits

Way of the Spear/Shield/Fist If you’ve gone 5-deep in a traitline, there’s no reason not to trait the capstone. Way of the Spear and Way of the Shield are both great, and Way of the Fist is fun to try every once in a while.

Grand Master Weapons Training is a pretty good legendary. Increased damage is always nice, as is increased inherent weapon procs.

Defiant Challenge, or “Disco Challenge” as it is often lovingly called is our only force taunt and on the face of it a good choice when tanking. The problem is that it is slow to build, slow to execute and, at least in my experience, gets resisted quite often. Try it, and see if you like it.

Way of the Warden combines the buffs from our three stances, but only lasts until the end of combat and has a 15-minute cooldown. Is not affected by legendary item legacies. A so-so trait in my book, but the new ‘reset skill cds after a wipe’- raid mechanic may make it worth slotting.

Javeling of Deadly Force is an aoe javelin attack, and a very good one at that. A nice tool when pulling several mobs at once.

                        

Hunters, eat your hearts out!            

Warden Legendary Item Legacies

Wardens are a lucky class in the sense that since most of warden legacies are meh at best, LI grind is very quick. Get the highest level LI you can, rank up dps, replace the legacies with stat scrolls and you’re set. If you can get a javeling with ‘Conservation in-combat power regeneration’ and ‘Heal bonus for Conviction’ you’re laughing. However, a shield-traited warden will get a lot out of javelin healing legacies.

For a more detailed analysis on warden legacies, check out this thread on the official forums: http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?360135-Draft-Warden-Legacy-Guide

Wardens in PvE

In spite of what you may have heard, wardens are tanks. We’re a bit too power-hungry to be melee dps, lack the skills to be ranged dps, and our healing, while powerful, does not quite cut it in fellowship/raid healing. We’ve been called avoidance tanks (guardians can actually equal, or even exceed us in avoidances), self-healing tanks (does not scale in raids), but I’ve come to see us as ‘tanks who do not have challenge’. If you pug a lot (or if you’re just plain unlucky) you’ll probably hear a lot of bad things said about wardens and their role, but you should just ignore the haters and take solace in the fact that you are playing one of the best-designed classes in MMO history. When it comes to tanking guardians and champions do have the edge over us in many areas, particularly because of Turbine's fondness for aggro swap boss fights where our lack of (good) snap aggro skills really hurts us. But with good co-ordination and communication these fights can be done with a warden tank, it is just a bit more complicated that it is with two guardians.

Knowing your skills and your gambits will make or break a warden; it may seem daunting at first, but soon enough you’ll be pulling out gambits by instinct alone. Furthermore, wardens benefit greatly from having an efficient rotation, particularly while dps’ing.

My dps rotation (don’t know if it is “the best one”) is:
Warden’s Triumph – Unerring Strike – Mighty Blow – Power Attack – Onslaught (Or, if I’m feeling whimsical, Surety of Death) - repeat

For tanking, Precise Blow, War Cry, Exultation of Battle and Conviction are your best friends, so use them often and use them wisely. I have recently begun experimenting with dps-tanking, i.e using my dps rotation to hold aggro, and it seems to work fairly well.

Wardens in PvMP

The Moors are a tricky place for a warden; the mobility of the enemies and the lag that usually accompanies a good zerg usually mean that you will not be pulling off a lot of gambits. Javelin and aoe skills are very important here and will enable you to get a good number of kills (not a lot of death blows though). You’re usually very low on the creeps’ to-kill list, so use that to your advantage: find the healers and use your interrupts and DoTs. Here traiting full Fist can be a lot of fun, traited Desolation and War Cry will drive creep healers mad.
1 on 1 you can beat most creep classes if you’re smart (and lucky), but I would not classify warden as a good dueling class, simply because gambits are tough to pull off on a moving target.

 

                                     

I just added this image because the outfit of the rune-keeper next to me is so spiffy. Go premium classes of Lotro!                                 
 

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