This article gives an overview of the wardens, one of the two LotRO classes introduced with Mines of Moria. We'll look at the unique combat system that differentiates them from other LotRO classes, as well as briefly cover some of the other nifty class abilities.
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Wardens, the New Kids on the Block - LOTRO Warden Guide
The wardens of Middle Earth are the wary watchers of the wilderness, always at the ready to defend the Free Peoples from trolls, orcs, wolves, and whatever other nasty foes might be lurking just beyond the borders of civilized lands. Wielding their mighty spears and deadly javelins, and clad in leather armor, these agile warriors are quick of foot, and determined opponents as capable of dealing damage as they are withstanding it. This article will give a brief introduction to the class, as well as an overview of their unique combat style: the gambit.
One of two classes introduced with the Mines of Moria expansion, and playable by elves, men, and hobbits, wardens are essentially a medium armor tank. Rather than surviving through high armor value based mitigation, as guardians do, wardens rely primarily on avoidance, self-heals over time, and a higher DPS to see themselves through battles. These factors serve to make the class incredibly capable in solo combat, though their role in a group certainly cannot be discounted. Not only do the wardens serve as nimble off-tanks, with careful applications of threat and defensive skills, they make for a strong main tank as well.
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Piercing the Heart of the Class: An Overview of Gambits
The real meat of the warden class is the gambit system, through which a majority of combat maneuvers are performed. Gambits consist of three basic skills, often shortened to Spear, Shield, and Fist, which are utilized in different combinations to build the final maneuver. The action is then executed via the Gambit skill. Don't worry! It's not quite as complicated as it sounds at first, though it does take either a good memory or a conveniently created gambit chart to remember the combos initially.
But let's start at the beginning. Once you enter the world as a fresh-faced warden ready for battle, you'll notice a new element to the user interface: the gambit panel . Initially, the panel consists of just two boxes, but as you level up, it will expand up to a maximum of five boxes. This allows the player to build more and more complex gambits as they level up, usually by adding another icon to a previously mastered chain.
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Spear, Shield, Fist: The Building Blocks of Combat
The very first skill that you acquire is Quick Thrust, also known as the “Spear" attack because it adds a red spear icon to your gambit panel. By itself, Quick Thrust is simply a quick, unremarkable melee attack. However, by performing two in a row, then executing the gambit, you'll perform the maneuver Deft Strike, a higher damage melee attack. Once the gambit is executed, the panel is cleared and ready for the next maneuver.
Within the next few levels, you'll learn the other two basic skills for Gambit building. The first is Shield-Bash, a blow with your shield that also has a chance to raise your block rating, is designated by a green shield icon in the gambit panel. The second, Warden's Taunt, is denoted by a yellow fist in the gambit panel and provides a small DoT effect combined with a slight increase in threat.
As you progress in levels, in addition to training active and passive skills as you would with any other class, don't forget to train your gambits as well. They're listed on the third tab at the class trainer, categorized by their type, which is determined by the first icon in the chain. In other words, a chain that begins with a Quick Thrust is a Spear Gambit, and basically involves dealing melee damage. Chains beginning with Shield-Bash are Shield Gambits, which are primarily defensive and healing maneuvers, and chains beginning with Warden's Taunt are Fist Gambits, or threat builders.
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The Rest of the Equation: Ranged Skills and Convenient Perks
Wardens were also designed to be rather capable at ranged combat as well. While they definitely come nowhere near classes such as Hunters and Runekeepers in their ranged damage abilities, they definitely have an advantage over much more melee concentrated classes like Guardians and Champions. Instead of using the usual bows and crossbows, they are the sole class with the ability to use javelins. These deadly weapons can be used to pierce armour, take down a fleeing foe, or even execute an ambush on an enemy while out of combat. Ambushes knock over the opponent, and provide an opening for the warden to perform a critical strike on their incapacitated adversary.
In addition to a unique method of melee combat, and a decent arsenal of ranged skills, there's a couple more perks to choosing to play a warden. Beginning at level 26, wardens gain the ability to quickly muster to various “outposts" of Middle Earth – Ost Guruth, Esteldin, and Tinnundir are among the locations to which one can eventually swiftly travel. After all, as the defenders of the wilderness, it definitely helps to be able to get there quickly. Along these same lines, wardens are able to learn a skill that enables them to move extremely quickly out of combat, at the cost of greatly reduced maximum power while doing so. They also gain a brief sneaking ability to greater facilitate the execution of ambushes.