Not the MMO You Remember
The Lord of the Rings today is virtually unrecognizable from the game four years ago when it launched. Since then, Turbine has raised the level cap from 50 to 65, introduced legendary items, and added many new skills. The developers have also added two new classes and completely rebalanced everything from weapons to skills several times over. Taken together, these changes render any LotRO champion guide older than even six months obsolete.
This updated champion guide will address all the changes to the champion class up to The Rise of Isengard launch on September 27, 2011 and even a few changes we might see after the next expansion pack.
If you’re new to the class or a grizzled veteran looking to touch up on what function a particular skill serves, this guide will help you hone your skills and become a fearless, and feared, champion.
Everything You Want to Know About the LotRO Champion - Contents
This rest of this LotRO champion guide will cover the major aspects of the class, going over skills, traits, gear, and basic strategies for many scenarios you might find yourself in as you battle to free Middle-earth from Sauron’s grasp.
Page 1: Overview
Page 2: Stances
Page 3: Fervour Skills
Page 4: Defeat Responses
Page 5: Buffs
Page 6: Stats & Traits
Page 7: Armor and Weapons
Page 8: General Strategies
Champions excel at soloing both single targets and groups of enemies. When several champions are present in a fellowship or raid, their combined AoE attacks form what’s referred to as a “blender,” capable of mowing down regular, signature, and elite mobs alike within seconds. Less so now than in the past, champions can also off-tank in a pinch if a guardian or warden is incapacitated or otherwise unavailable.
Single Target DPS
Champions can’t hope to match the single target DPS potential of runekeepers and hunters, especially the burst damage capabilities of both classes. Over longer fights, they can come fairly close. Equivalently geared champions should manage around 90% of the single target damage of hunters and runekeepers on any elite master or tougher mob.
Also, champion stances generate far more power in combat than other classes can manage. Although the fate statistic (see the Stats section) governs basic in-combat power regeneration, or ICPR, it’s not uncommon for champions to have 50% more ICPR than other classes, which permits them to use more skills over longer fights.
Far more self-sufficient than their single target counterparts, champions require less attention from loremasters, who don’t have to resupply a champion’s power. Guardians and wardens both benefit from champions as well, since champions can use Ebbing Ire to transfer their threat to the group’s tank.
Champions shine when it comes to AoE, or Area of Effect, DPS. Their biggest AoE attack is capable of hitting more than a dozen targets at once over a wide range, at least for a melee attack. Champion “blenders” have been known to decimate entire creep (evil player) raids in the Ettenmoors since their AoE attacks are unrivaled by any other class, either faction, in the game.
Even by themselves, champions can solo four or five regular mobs at a time, burning them down in the time it takes other classes to kill two enemies. Armed with an AoE stun on a short 20 second CD, or cooldown, champions can engage half a dozen regular enemies at once and emerge victorious.
Champions’ biggest AoE attack can hit up to 13 targets at once, easily dealing up to twice the total DPS of any other class when facing large groups of enemies. They should just be wary that they don’t pull aggro on all those mobs since champions are fairly squishy when dealing a ton of damage.
Champions can’t tank as well as guardians or wardens. Champions only receive 3 morale points for every point of vitality, compared to 5 morale points for guardians and wardens. Both tanking classes have all sorts of shouts and threat building skills, and they’re both much more survivable. While wardens can only wear medium armor, they have plenty of self and group heals, like Conviction, which have the added benefit of, well, healing fellowship members but also generating threat for the warden.
However, there are times when a champion will be called upon to tank a boss. Many small fellowship (3-man) and fellowship (6-man) sized instances have bosses a well geared champion can tank, allowing groups to complete the instances without a dedicated tank. Even in 12- or 24-man raids, champions can tank trash pulls or, at the very least, ensure that mobs don’t attack healers and other squishy classes in the back of the raid. Champions then become something of a jack of all trades class, able to pick up the slack left by other players.
A Timeless Debate
One debate about the champion class has existed since beta back in 2007: does a champion dual wielding one-handed weapons deal more damage than a champion using a single two-handed weapon? Some players are adamant one way or another, but many of the best players acknowledge both weapon builds have their merits.
Dual wielding two one-handed weapons increases a champion’s overall weapon speed. While individual attacks do less damage, the number of attacks increase. Also, many skills gain extra off-hand damage, almost negating any skill damage difference between dual wielding and two-handed weapons. Two-handed attacks are slower, but they generally hit a little harder. Faster attacks can drain your power over a longer fight, so two-handed weapons are definitely preferable for longer raid bosses, which last can last ten minutes or longer.
Ideally, champions should dual wield when AoEing mobs down, since the off-hand damage in AoE attacks is significant and the faster attack speed burns enemies down more quickly. When power conservation is key, there’s no substitute for a two-handed weapon. The rest of the time, either choice will serve you well enough. Of course, you’ll find plenty of champions who disagree with this assessment on both sides of the debate, but they probably haven’t been playing a champion for four years.
LotRO champion skills are organized somewhat arbitrarily in-game, so I’ve devised categories of my own. The game lumps unrelated skills together; the following pages organize them by purpose, which is far more useful when learning how to play a champion.
For example in LotRO, champion stances are lumped together with fervour building skills, even though they serve entirely different functions. Separating them out provides a better overview of how they work.
Over the next few pages, we’ll go over how to maximize your damage, conserve power, and stay alive when facing tough opponents. In game, I recommend grouping these skills together on your skill bars to to make them easier to locate and memorize.
Fervour is a champion specific game mechanic that allows champions to use their higher damage attacks.
In the default UI, the fervour bar is located to the left of the skill bars. The image to the right features both an empty and full fervour bar.
The following sections will go into more detail about exactly how fervour is built and spent, but to summarize, some skills build fervour while others spend it.
As a champion, you should always strike a balance between building and spending fervour points. If you don’t build fervour, you can’t perform your big attacks, and your DPS will suffer. Almost never do you want to keep your fervour bar topped off either since that means you still aren’t landing powerful hits.
Building and spending fervour should become habitual for you as you level your champion up, but a good rule of thumb I’ve kept to over the years is to use two fervour building skills, perform either Brutal or Remorseless Strikes, and repeat.
LotRO champion stances are toggle skills, or skills that stay on forever until you turn them off, die, or use another stance (stances don’t stack). You always want to be in a stance because they provide power regen and other buffs.
This is the primary stance of choice for most champions and the first one you receive while leveling up. This stance will allow you to do the most damage to enemies with its +20% melee damage buff. Fervour generation is 1 pip every 5 seconds by default, but you can speed this up by 20% if you equip 4 red line class traits (see the traits section for more information). This stance’s ICPR, or in-combat power regen, is best of the three basic stances, allowing you to attack more often.
However, Fervour puts a -30% incoming healing debuff on you, meaning every heal is only going to be 70% efficient. You also can’t block, parry, or evade in Fervour, so you don’t want to stay in this stance if you’re getting hit hard. Use Fervour if you’re soloing or if you aren’t getting hit while in a group.
Ardour is a middle path type of stance. ICPR and fervour generation are lower, and damage is unbuffed, but you don’t receive a healing penalty, and the block/parry/evade penalty is much lower than in Fervour. Drop into Ardour when you’re in a fellowship and getting pounded on by enemies. The healers will thank you, and you’ll stay alive much easier.
Other LotRO champion stances should only be used in specific instances. Here are the stances you should use when tanking bosses in a group or taking on tough mobs on your own. Stance selection is a vital part of champion gameplay. It is not as simple as “put it in Fervour stance and leave it there” as many champions seem to believe.
When you need to tank any elite master or harder mob, you’ll want to toggle Glory. ICPR is lower than all other stances, and Glory actually lowers melee damage by 15%. Fervour and Ardour allow you to do more damage, but Glory increases your threat generation by 60% so you can tank mobs much easier. If you trait 4 blue line class traits, Glory will provide another 750 maximum morale, allowing you to take more hits.
Controlled Burn, or CB, is the poster child of champion stances. You can only equip Controlled Burn after completing the legendary quests at level 45, but you’ll quickly realize that it’s your “all out” stance. Controlled Burn has the same ICPR as fervour, buffs melee damage by 15%, and automatically enables several defeat responses, such as Ardent Flurry and Glorious Exchange. No other stance comes close to providing the damage and survivability of Controlled Burn. Unfortunately, CB only lasts for 2m 30s before expiring with a 10m cooldown. The Controlled Fury class trait extends the duration to 3m 30s.
The following three sections detail your basic arsenal of butt kicking for maximum LotRO champion DPS. Fervour building skills increase your fervour while single target and AoE DPS skills cost fervour but deal significant amounts of damage.
LotRO champion DPS lags slightly behind runekeepers and hunters when it comes to single target DPS, but AoE damage is significantly higher than all other classes.
DPS is the heart and soul of the champion, so read these sections carefully! They are vital to your success as a champion.
Wild Attack (adds 1 fervour)
As your standard, fervour building attack, Wild Attack only costs half the power of Swift Strike, so you can use it for extended fights.
Swift Strike (adds 1 fervour)
A very basic, low damage attack, Swift Strike benefits primarily from its quick attack animation, giving you an additional fervour pip nearly instantaneously. However, Swift Strike is fairly taxing, so you run the risk of draining your power if you overuse this skill. Use Swift Strike when you want to build up fervour quickly and burn enemies down as fast as possible.
Battle Frenzy (adds 3 fervour)
Battle Frenzy does no damage, instead filling your fervour bar up by 3 pips (you can increase this to 5 pips by traiting the Fervent Rage yellow line class trait). You’ll be able to use your big attacks immediately, but it’s best to use this skill when you’re empty on fervour. You’re just wasting it if you have 3 or more fervour pips already.
Merciful Strike (adds 2 fervour)
I really don’t use Merciful Strike even though it does medium damage and generates 2 fervour pips. The enemy you’re targeting has to be under 20% morale (50% morale if you have Bountiful Mercy traited), and the skill has a 30s CD.
Fighting Dirty (adds 1 fervour)
Fighting Dirty operates much like Merciful Strike - you can only use it on an enemy beneath 25% morale. It does no damage on its own, instead giving you a 30s buff that causes your next AoE attack to deal 25% more damage. This is one of those skills that can give a slight bump to your DPS, but don’t worry if you forget to use it.
Single Target DPS
Feral Strikes (costs 2 fervour)
You can identify corruptions on enemies by looking at the buffs under their vitals. Corruptions will have a dark blue outline and provide enemies with damage, health, and mitigation buffs. Most of the time, you’ll want to remove them if possible (there are some exceptions, like in the Stoneheight instance). Feral Strikes is a pretty poor corruption remover, but it’s better than nothing. You’ll attack the enemy three times, and each connecting hit has a 25% chance of removing a corruption. Use Feral Strikes as backup, but you’ll want to rely on other classes for corruption removal.
Brutal Strikes (costs 3 fervour)
Some champs prefer Brutal Strikes over Remorseless Strikes because of the lower power requirement and the fact that it only costs 3 fervour pips instead of 4. Unfortunately, you’ll do slightly less damage, so you should at least augment Brutal Strikes with Remorseless Strikes every other cycle.
Remorseless Strikes (costs 4 fervour)
This skill is perhaps the class favorite. If you want to maximize your LotRO champion DPS, you’ll have to use Remorseless Strikes every single time it’s up. It has a fairly stiff power requirement and doesn’t deal substantially more damage on normal hits than Brutal Strikes, but critical hits are huge, vastly improving your champion DPS in LotRO. Devastating criticals often reach 4000 damage with two-handed weapons. When running low on power, switch to Brutal Strikes.
Ferocious Strikes (costs 5 fervour)
You’ll have to equip the legendary trait Ferocious Strikes to unlock this skill. While it costs 5 fervour to use, you probably won’t see a big damage increase over Remorseless Strikes. Critical damage isn’t buffed, and the skill’s on a 30 second cooldown. However, Ferocious Strikes is perfect for building threat. It generates additional aggro beyond the damage you do, making it a great skill to use when you’re in Glory.
Clobber (costs 1 fervour)
Clobber isn’t a DPS skill. While it does a small amount of damage, Clobber is one of the best induction interrupts in the game. If you see a glowing orange circle around a mob, try using Clobber. You could stop it from dealing heavy damage to the entire group. A green aura around a monster means it’s trying to heal.
This is the first AoE skill that you’ll train. It does medium damage to targets in a frontal arc, making it useless to enemies standing behind you. If you trait Stalwart Blade, Blade Wall will generate 1 fervour each time.
Rend (costs 2 fervour)
When you first train Rend, it’s not very good at all. However, it has the potential to be a very versatile and useful skill. Traiting Improved Rend lowers target armor, allowing your attacks to do more damage. Rend applies a small bleed to enemies, but with legendary item legacies, you can extend the duration of the bleed and its magnitude. If you buff Rend, it’s a fine, low power skill. If you leave Rend as it is, don’t bother using it.
Blade Storm (costs 4 fervour)
The first “serious” AoE skill that champions receive, Blade Storm has a high power cost but does moderately high damage to up to five enemies in a full circle. You’ll use this until you start using Raging Blade, detailed below.
Raging Blade (costs 5 fervour)
Raging Blade is perhaps the most beautiful skill ever bestowed upon any character class in the history of MMOs. When you hear Raging Blade’s distinctive “shing shing” sound, you’ll associate it with heavenly bliss as enemies practically melt. With the Winds of the Storm class trait slotted, Raging Blade can hit up to 13 targets at once across an 8 meter radius, or about the size of your average house (I won’t try to argue realism in this case). The only downside is that you’ll have to slot the legendary trait to unlock this skill, but it’s well worth it. You’ll rarely use Blade Storm once you unlock this skill - Raging Blade hits more enemies, deals more damage, covers a wider area, costs less power, and is on the same zippy 10 second cooldown - what’s not to love?
Sound the Attack (costs 5 fervour)
No skill is more hated in the Ettenmoors. By using a full fervour bar, you can stun several targets for 3 seconds. With a short 20 second cooldown, you can stun enemies several times a minute.
While not a skill to be found in the skill panel, the Campaign Horn is a champion-specific item that works almost exactly like Sound the Attack by stunning 6 targets for 5 seconds. Unfortunately, your campaign horn has a 15 minute cooldown, so use it sparingly.
_LotRO c_hampion defeat response skills can only be used after you defeat an enemy (or if somebody in your fellowship or raid kills an enemy). Immediately after felling a mob, you’ll receive an 8s buff during which you can use the following skills.
Champions will never run out of power again. With a short 15s CD, Second Wind can restore several hundred power. If you use it several times a fight, power shouldn’t be any issue at all. The Vigour of Champions class trait increases the power you receive by about 50%.
Red Haze increases fervour generation by 1 pip every 15 seconds for an unlimited duration, but if you’re out of combat for 9 seconds, the buff expires. Red Haze doesn’t hurt, but it makes an almost negligible difference in damage output.
At level 65, Blocking Blades increases your parry rating by 520. It’s not a huge buff, but like Red Haze, it lasts as long as you’re in combat. Over a raid fight, those extra parries can save you from taking several thousand points of damage.
This is a decent skill marred by a disproportionately long cooldown. You’ll provide your fellowship with several hundred power, but you’ll lose twice as much yourself. True Heroics will also give you a buff specific to the stance you’re in (incoming healing for Fervour and Controlled Burn, power regen for Ardour, and melee damage for Glory). The buffs are actually fairly decent, but the 10m CD makes this skill usable once a fight at most.
Ardent Flurry and Glorious Exchange are the upgraded versions of Flurry and Exchange of Blows. See the Offensive Buffs section below for more details on these LotRO champion defeat responses.
This is an essential champion buff. By default, Flurry decreases your attack duration by 15%, basically meaning you attack 15% faster. Traiting Flurry of Blows increases the buff to 20% and the duration by 10 seconds. When you’re in Ardour or Controlled Burn, Flurry becomes Ardent Flurry, which lasts until you’re out of combat for 9 seconds. Ardent Flurry decreases your attack duration by 20%, allowing you to attack dramatically faster.
Exchange of Blows
Everytime you’re hit by common, fire, or shadow damage, you have a 50% chance to reflect a small amount of damage. It’s an okay skill, but you’ll see the biggest benefits when you’re tanking. If you’re in Glory or Controlled Burn, Exchange of Blows becomes Glorious Exchange, which increases your reflect chance to 75%. Most of the time, this amounts to a whopping 5-10% of the damage you receive. By yourself, you might kill mobs slightly faster. For fellowship and raid bosses, you probably won’t notice any difference at all.
When is the best time to use Blood Rage? Almost never. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card, breaking almost all roots, stuns, mezzes, and other CC on you at a steep morale cost. You’ll have to spend about 20% of your maximum morale to use Blood Rage, so it’s most often used by champions out of combat when they’re trying to kill themselves for a good laugh.
Continuous Blood Rage, or CBR, is the legendary form of Blood Rage. As a toggle LotRO champion buff, CBR can stack on top of your other stances by providing a moderate damage increase and immunity from most CC, but it costs about 1% of your total morale every second and casts a devastating -90% incoming healing debuff on you. In its present form, CBR is more of a novelty that champs explore when they want to figure out the upper limits of their DPS.
Great Cleave (requires 5 fervour, costs 0 fervour)
Great Cleave is a skill that helps you deal AoE attacks slightly faster. It requires 5 fervour, but it doesn’t actually cost any. Once you use it, your fervour bar stays full so you can start dishing out damage. All AoE skills then require 1 less fervour point for 15 seconds. For example, Raging Blade costs 4 fervour instead of 5 for the buff’s duration.
Deathstorm is a little better as the legendary replacement for Great Cleave. Once again, you need a full fervour bar, but you don’t have to spend any fervour. This time, AoE skills cost zero fervour for 15 seconds in addition to all AoE skill cooldowns resetting. Deathstorm is useful in unique cases when you need an extraordinary amount of AoE damage in a very short time, as in the tentacle phase of the Watcher raid. Since AoE cooldowns reset, use Deathstorm immediately after using Raging Blade.
You’ll increase your melee DPS by 25% for 30 seconds, though you can increase the duration up to 1 minute with legendary item legacies. However, you should only use it near the end of fights. If you’re still in combat when Fight On is up, your ICPR will be reduced to 25%, which will drop your power very quickly.
Bracing Attack (costs 3 fervour)
Bracing Attack is a basic self heal. If you land a hit on an enemy, you’ll be healed for about 10% of your health. Traiting Braced Against Defeat increases the heal to about 15% of your health. If you miss with the attack, you won’t get healed.
This is an “I’m going to die soon” heal. It heals you an amount equal to your remaining power and takes away half that power. Rather, if you have 1000 power left, you’ll receive 1000 morale and lose 500 power. If your power is low, the heal will be minimal.
Sudden Defence (costs at least 1 fervour)
You’ll receive a roughly 5% buff to evade and parry chances for 30 seconds. You need to have at least 1 fervour, but this skill will drain your fervour bar. I try to use it when I only have 1 or 2 fervour pips. Otherwise, I’m just wasiting it.
This LotRO champion buff negates 10% of incoming melee and ranged damage for 30s, but the 15m CD means you should use it only when you know it’s going to be a tough fight. If you slot the legendary trait Invincible, Adamant will block 30% damage instead. Unfortunately, there are more useful legendary traits, so this one gets neglected most of the time.
A relative newcomer, Fear Nothing! removes up to 3 fear effects from you. Use it when you have several fear debuffs and your pots are on cooldown.
Your Champion’s Challenge is a ranged, single target shout that will force an NPC mob to target you for 10 seconds. It can generate a little extra threat, but you can’t use it to maintain aggro. Use it at the beginning of fights when you have to tank or if the mob targets somebody else.
Become an aggro vampire. There’s no better way to build and maintain threat with a mob. Simply target a fellowship member and use the skill. It will transfer 15% of that fellowship member’s accumulated threat to you from all mobs. If they lose 15 points and you gain 15 points, you’ve made a relative gain of 30 points. The math isn’t quite that simple in game, but it’s close enough to suffice. I suggest using Rising Ire on healers first and then ranged classes if they’ve pulled aggro.
Ebbing Ire is the exact opposite of rising ire. You have to use it on a fellowship member again, but you’ll dump 25% of your threat onto them. A single champ can solidify a tank’s threat this way, so you should only ever use it on a guardian, warden, or tanking champ. Of course, you can use it on runekeepers, but they won’t be very happy about it. Don’t use this skill right away either. Wait at least 20 seconds after the fight begins to dump aggro with Ebbing Ire because it has a 1 minute CD with the weapon legacy and 2 minutes without.
These LotRO champion skills aren’t just for PvMP (Player versus Monster Player). You can use them anywhere in the game, but I’ve found them to be most useful in the Ettenmoors, LotRO‘s only PvMP zone.
Sprint increases your run speed up to 125% and ignores most slow effects. You can catch up to creeps fleeing from you or get out of dodge when you realize you’re in the middle of an enemy raid. With weapon legacies, you can increase Sprint’s duration to 45s.
This skill is your only slow for enemies. It’s totally worthless in PvE, but you can slow enemies by 30% for at least 20s (increase the duration with weapon legacies). The only catch is that you have to get in close, which can be difficult for champions. If you’re serious about soloing in the Ettenmoors with your champion, you’ll have to get used to Hamstring.
Learning how to use your skills is only half the battle. If you’re lacking in the equipment and traits department, your champion will be at a severe disadvantage. Gear can take weeks to acquire, but you can upgrade your LotRO champion stats with traits in an hour or two.
How much morale you have, how much damage your attacks deal, and how often you land critical hits all depend on your stats. Five basic stats (might, agility, vitality, will, and fate) influence everything that you do in game. Stats are presently capped at 650, but those caps will be removed with The Rise of Isengard in September.
Most of the time, capping your LotRO champion stats at 600 is sufficient because captains can apply the In Defense of Middle-earth buff, which boosts all of your stats by 50 for 30 minutes. Also, stats are affected by diminishing returns. The benefits of increasing a stat from 600 to 650 are much lower than increasing a stat from 200 to 250.
MIght is a champion’s most important stat. Might increases the amount of melee damage you deal, so you’ll want this stat as high as possible. It also influences how well you block, parry, and absorb common damage, making might even more important when you aren’t in Fervour stance.
Second only to might in terms of importance, Agility contributes to your melee crit chance. It also helps you to evade and parry, but that is a moot point most of the time because of Fervour.
Vitality helps you stay alive. Every point of vitality increases your max morale by 3, though you’ll get most of your morale directly from +morale stats on gear. It also helps your wound, disease, and poison resistances as well as mitigating non-common (like shadow and fire) damage.
Every point of will increases your max power by 3. Will also increases your NCPR and fear resistance.
Fate is nearly worthless to champions. It increases your ICPR and ICMR, but champions rely on their stances for power regen, and morale regen is negligible at best.
Traits - Virtues
You’ll probably get your first virtue unlocked an hour or two into the game. With twenty choices, you can only slot five. For basic questing, slotting Discipline, Innocence, Justice, Loyalty, and Valour will increase your might, morale, and melee damage mitigation. Raids and other difficult content sometimes warrant specialized virtues like Tolerance and Fidelity, which increase your tactical defence and shadow damage mitigation, respectively.
Traits - Class
When players talk about class traits in game, they rarely use the proper names of “The Deadly Storm,” “The Beserker,” or “The Martial Champion.” Instead, they talk about “yellow line” or “blue line” traits, indicated by the trait’s color border. The only class traits I always have slotted are the red line Vicious Strikes and Deadly Strikes traits (which increase my single target DPS critical hits) and the yellow line Fervent Rage trait (Battle Frenzy fills up 5 fervour instead of 3).
What you should trait from there depends on what role you want to play: single target, AoE, or off-tanking. Slotting two or more traits from the same line grants a bonus. Slotting five traits from the same line unlocks a legendary skill (you still need to earn the legendary trait before you can use the skill, however).
If you’re off-tanking, make sure to slot the heavy shield trait. While you can use a normal shield, a heavy shield provides a substantial defensive buff and armor increase.
On a side note, class traits are the easiest way to increase LotRO champion stats because you earn these traits as you use your skills. You don’t have to go out of your way at all to earn them.
Single Target DPS
Red Line - The Beserker
2 Traits: Improved Criticals for Brutal and Feral (Savage) Strikes
3 Traits: Improved Criticals for WIld Attack
4 Traits: Fervour generates 1 pip every 4 seconds instead of 5
Legendary: Continuous Blood Rage (upgrades Blood Rage)
Yellow Line - The Deadly Storm
2 Traits: Increased AoE hit chance
3 Traits: -10% AoE power cost, +5% AoE damage
4 Traits: Reduced enemy parry/block chance
Legendary: Deathstorm (upgrades Great Cleave)
Blue LIne - The Martial Champion
2 Traits: Champion’s Challenge builds threat
3 Traits: Sometimes, using Blocking Blades and Second Wind won’t use a defeat response, allowing you to use more than one
4 Traits: +750 max morale while in Glory
Legendary: Invincible (upgrades Adamant)
Without great gear, you cannot be a great champion. So it is very important that you are mindful of your weapons, armor, and jewelry and you keep them upgraded. Champions are a very gear dependent class.
The top tier of crafted gear should serve well enough for normal questing, but only decked out champions can go into Ost Dunhoth and survive. LotRO champion gear isn’t difficult to acquire, but it is time consuming. Glowing Aureate jewelry is easy enough to purchase from a tinker, but the newest instances (Halls of Night, Inn of the Forsaken, and the Odothuilan skirmishes) provide jaw-dropping necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings. You can farm the entire set within a week.
A good weapon isn’t much harder to come by. You can cheaply purchase a Symbol of Celebrimbor from any skirmish camp since they recently lowered the cost. That’ll give you a second age weapon of your choice. If you want even more DPS, consider running Ost Dunhoth with a pug. I know pugs and raids are like water and oil, but many pugs can successfully run the disease wing stage of the instance and get a first age mark.
Armor requires the most dedication, but you should mix and match Barad Guldur, Helegrod, Moria, and Ost Dunhoth sets to maximize your might, morale, agility, and other stats. I prefer the Helegrod helm and gauntlets for their combined +2200 incoming healing rating, which means incoming heals are 6-7% more effective. There’s no getting around it, unfortunately - If you want decent LotRO champion gear, you have to group up.
With The Mines of Moria, Turbine introduced legendary weapons and legendary class items.
What weapon you choose depends on what race you’ve selected. Elves should use one-handed swords for their +2% damage bonus while men can use any sword for a damage increase. Dwarves will want to use axes. One-handed weapons have very slight differences: swords increase hit chance, axes can lower enemy armor, etc. Two-handed weapons are the same. In the end, all one-handed weapons are basically alike.
As you level up a weapon, you’ll receive legacy points. You will want to upgrade the weapon’s DPS before anything else as that will determine your overall damage. Must-have legacies include critical damage multiplier (critical hits will do up to 50% more damage) and AoE skill damage. Depending on the number of major legacies you have left, slot the Remorseless Strikes and Brutal Strikes damage multipliers.
Don’t worry if you don’t get the legacies you want at first. You can deconstruct other legendary weapons that you’ve leveled up to rank 30, thereby receiving one of their legacies, which you can then transfer into the weapon of your choice.
Damage scrolls are available in Lórien, Mirkwood, and Enedwaith with their reputation vendors. Applying a damage scroll to a weapon changes the damage type from common, which most enemies heavily mitigate, to beleriand or westernesse.
Legendary Champion Runes
Until The Mines of Moria, champion runes were fairly weak items. At most, they reduced the power cost of single target or AoE DPS skills by 5%. Once legendary items became available, a good champion rune became a staple of quality builds.
Champion runes boost your incoming healing by over 1000 points, which makes heals 4-7% more effective depending on how many legacy points you invest. If you plan on using Ardour often, purchase the Ardour legacies, which increase fervour pips, power regen, and parry/evade chance. For a purely damage oriented champion rune, slot Fight On duration, Ebbing Ire cooldown, and decreased power cost legacies.
Finishing Legendary Items with Relics
The very best relics, which include relics, settings, and runes, require dedication and patience to acquire. There are a couple of ways to level up relics, but they all involve mass quantities of tier 1 - tier 4 relics. Deconstructing weapons and champion runes yields some low tier runes to level up. Instances often drop sealed settings. The In Their Absence instances are especially lucrative as a single run can yield six or more sealed tier 4 relics.
You can then create which ones you’d like at any Relic Master by going to the Melding tab. With dozens of runes, there are literally thousands of combinations that you can choose from. However, a good starting place would be to go with the True-level rune, relic, and setting. Favorable relic stats include morale, melee offense, melee crit, attack duration, and power regen.
Crafted relics require Kindred standing with any crafting guild. There are only four choices, and the Symbol of Battle provides 390 melee crit and melee offense.
Soloing in The Lord of the Rings Online is easier than many other MMOs, insofar as the core PvE experience is concerned with completing quests and the epic books. It is doubly easy for champions, who employ all the finesse of a sledgehammer while powering through hordes of enemies. LotRO champion strategies help you quickly close the gap between you and your opponent so you can unleash a devastating barrage of attacks.
Stay in Fervour 90% of the time since your goal is to quickly burn through enemies. If you find yourself in a tight spot, don’t be afraid to drop fervour and run for your life. Stocking up on potions and food can be a lifesaver. Regen food, as it’s known, can boost your NCMR and NCPR by over 4000 at level 65, allowing you to quickly top off your vitals between fights. Food is in ample supply and cheap for purchase on the auction house, so eat it liberally.
The skirmish system is Turbine’s darling child, released with The Siege of Mirkwood. With the skirmish panel, you can enter instances from almost anywhere in Middle-earth so you don’t have to travel on foot for fifteen minutes to reach an instance, which streamlines the entire process. Skirmishes themselves are fairly simple instances divided into two types: assault and defence. Skirmishes have three difficulty tiers, but the difficulty also scales up depending on group size - a fellowship skirmish will throw more and harder enemies at you than a solo instance. When you’re battling multiple enemies, using LotRO champion strategies helps deal with tougher opponents.
There are six different soldier NPC allies to choose from, but you can only trait one for each battle. Champions benefit most from the herbalist soldier class, which provides you and your group with heals. Soldier NPCs are basically scaled down versions of player classes (an herbalist is the counterpart to a minstrel or healing runekeeper). Which soldier ally you choose while in a group matters less than when you’re by yourself, so feel free to play around when you’re with allies.
Fellowship and Raid Roles
Depending on the instance, champions will either be bored or having a blast. The most fun you’ll have on your champion is when you’re surrounded by enemies and Ventrilo is deafening with the cries of a group resigned to a painful death. Then you see a dozen defeat messages in your chat log about a pair of champions burning through half of Sauron’s army in the span of a solid five seconds. The smoke clears, and everyone’s still alive. How could this be? Champions.
1. Much less fun are the times when you have to focus on a single target since you’ll be cycling through the same four or five skills over, and over, and over. Still, how can you best serve the group you’re in? Coordinate with any burglars or loremasters in the group. If they’re going to CC (crowd control) any mobs, don’t run in and use Raging Blade.
2. With that said, Sound the Attack can stun enemies and give your group some breathing space if you’re being overwhelmed.
3. Keep mobs off the squishies! If your healers have aggro, use Champion’s Challenge on those mobs targeting the minstrels and runekeepers. Rising Ire can help too. If you have aggro on mobs, use Ebbing Ire on a tank.
All right - I’m joking (kind of). Champions can spar other champions and often hunters, but almost any other class can beat champions fairly easily as long as your opponent is properly geared and traited. There are few things more humbling in the game than for a guardian to switch into overpower and destroy you in 20 seconds or for a burglar to stun lock you while you slowly bleed to death.
If you really want to enjoy sparring in LotRO, consider rolling another class. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache.
If you still insist on sparring, Continuous Blood Rage is a must, especially if you’re facing burglar, minstrels, runekeepers, or loremasters. CBR is practically the only way you can resist their stuns, fears, and roots. At level 65, CBR costs about 60 morale a second, so you want to close the distance quickly with Sprint, use Hamstring so they can’t effectively kite you, and start beating away. While they can’t CC you as effectively, they can still deal a fair amount of damage. Your goal is to end the spar as quickly as possible. The longer it takes, the worse your chances become.
As the sparring section implied, champions don’t perform well on their own against other players. While champions hold their own much better against creeps than freeps, it’s far too easy for two or three players to gang up on a lone champion in the Ettenmoors. Once you’re slowed or stunned, that’s the end of you when you’re facing several opponents. Champions lack the CC of loremasters, the stealth skills of burglars, and the tracking capabilities of hunters. We’re big, visible, and rather clumsy targets. In PvMP, that means champions are easy prey, at least when they’re by themselves.
The simple solution is to group up. There’s almost always a group in the Ettenmoors. Just type in the OOC channel to find a group.
Use Sound the Attack and your campaign horn often. You’ll infuriate the creeps you’re trying to kill but also seriously diminish their fighting capabilities. A 3 second stun might not sound like much, but it’s 3 seconds every 20 seconds, or 15% of the time.
Don’t allow creeps to kite you around. Since you have almost no ranged damage, use a combination of Sprint and Hamstring to catch up to and slow down enemies so you can beat on them.
A champion is a fun and surprisingly versatile character class. Since champions lack a dazzling array of avoidance or mitigation buffs, heavy crowd control, or serious self heals, you have to go into each battle knowing how close you are to defeat. Sure, the main point is to whack on things, but there are so many ways to whack on things that it never gets old.
While it’s easy to grasp the basics of playing a champion, becoming a skilled one can take weeks of practice to maintain the delicate balance of fervour, power, and damage. If you’re looking for finesse, try playing a burglar, but for simple, explosive fun, level up a champion. I’ll see you in the Ettenmoors.
All screenshots and references from The Lord of the Rings Online and author’s experience.
This post is part of the series: LOTRO Champion Class Guides
A collection of champion class guides for Lord of the Rings Online.