Some Big Changes, Some Small
I realize that these classes overlap in a lot of areas. For example, runekeepers can heal if they trait that way, and a captain falls equally well into both the support and healing sections, but these categories should work well enough.
Not every class received the same level of scrutiny and care as each other. Minstrels and champions were revamped in a fundamental way, but guardians and burglars weren't changed nearly as drastically. Read on to see the important changes in this LotRO: Rise of Isengard guide to class changes. On the whole, players have responded positively to these class changes.
If you'd like to see the complete changes to any class, go to the Developer Diary section of the LotRO website and check the links on the left side for your particular class.
DPS: Champions, Hunters, and Runekeepers
Champions still have their three primary stances (fervour, ardour, and glory), but they've been completely reshaped. Fervour remains the single target DPS stance of choice. With your flurry trait slotted, Fervour has a permanent -20% attack duration buff for as long as the stance remains active. The -30% healing debuff is also gone to the celebration of healers everywhere.
Ardour has finally become viable. If you trait yellow line, you'll receive some fairly significant AoE damage buffs while running Ardour, but the overall damage increase is still lower than in Fervour when you take strike line skills into consideration. Glory has the biggest changes of all. No longer can champions wield heavy shields, but champions are supposed to tank while dual wielding or using two handers now. You actually increase threat by taking damage, so champions have received some extra damage bubbles to help cope with all the extra beating they'll be taking.
Hunters also received changes to their different stances. Instead of trait lines affecting one particular stance, the traits are spread more evenly across all of the stances. The stated purpose was to make all of them more useful on the fly instead of forcing hunters to go back and retrait a certain way.
Runekeepers also got some general rebalancing of their trait lines. Fire damage skills have been buffed so that they're comparable to lightning damage skills. Before Rise of Isengard, most RKs preferred to zap their way to victory instead of torching everything, so they'll have to take a long hard look at how they place their class. Chisels and rifflers are also useful regardless of trait line now, so runekeepers will have some extra choices when it comes to gearing themselves out.
Tanking: Guardians and Wardens
Guardians received almost no changes at all, other than some slight tweaks to DPS and threat generation. I wish there were more to report on, but read it for yourself: "We believe that Guardians are in a good place before Rise of Isengard and will not need any major changes for the expansion" (via the Guardian developer diary).
Wardens, on the other hand, had many of the same changes as the guardian, but those changes are of a much larger magnitude. DPS has been buffed significantly, so wardens won't feel like they're beating orcs to death with a spoon anymore. They've been upgraded to butter knife instead (I jest, kind of). Having run with wardens regularly since Rise of Isengard went live, I can also attest to this next statement. Wardens are now tanking beasts, especially when there are tons of mobs around. Watching a warden grab and hold aggro on a dozen or more mobs and surviving makes me wonder how guardians can compete when numerous mobs are present (hint: they can't hold that many mobs at a single time).
Healing: Minstrels and Captains
Minstrels got a completely revamped ballad system. Instead of the three tier 1, three tier 2, etc. ballads, the ballads have been completely changed into major, minor, and perfect ballads, and the buffs you'll want to throw on yourself depend on what stance you're in. The buffs also remain active while you're in combat, unlike the old ones which wore off after a few seconds. This change allows minstrels to focus on healing or DPSing their targets instead of worrying about keeping buffs up on on themselves.
War speech has also received a nice makeover. Warspeech no longer has such a huge healing penalty, but minstrel heals can only target themselves while in that stance. Solo minstrels in the Ettenmoors surely appreciate their added soloing skills now.
Captains have had their primary statistic switch to might, so captains no longer have to sacrifice DPS if they want to heal since captains' might dictates their outgoing healing rating. Also, captains get the venerable Blade-brother skill at level 74, giving a single fellowship member a significant increase to DPS. Conversely, Shield-brother is more effective at protecting a fellowship member.
Support: Burglars and Lore-masters
Burglars received the same level of treatment as guardians, meaning they're pretty the same as they were before the update. Turbine recently had a "Month of the Burglar" update in which the burglar class was changed, and those changes carried over into Rise of Isengard. Besides some minor trait and skill tweaks, the only thing burglars need to look forward to is having their melee offense rating decided by their agility instead of might. With burglars able to now stack agility, they gain a pretty hefty increase to both DPS and avoidances since they can entirely ignore might.
Lore-masters have a lot of skills fulfilling an equal number of roles. They have plenty of debuffs, buffs, and crowd control, but a lot of the skills overlap. Therefore, Turbine focused on cutting down on some of the skills lore-masters currently use, simplifying the class a bit. Other than consolidating skills, lore-masters didn't receive many changes other than trait tweaks.
- Images from LotRO.com, VG247, and IGN.
- Turbine, Inc. The Lord of the Rings Online: Rise of Isengard. Turbine, Inc., 2011. Microsoft Windows.