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Defenders of the Free Peoples

Guide to the Guardian

By Darkgolem

Guardians are one of the most powerful and enjoyable classes to play on
Lord of the Rings Online
(LOTRO).  Masters in surviving the attentions of multiple
opponents, able to dish out a fair amount of damage, and able to gain
the aggression of your fellowship’s enemies, a guardian is the
apotheosis of tanking.

However, there are both good and bad ways to play a guardian. 
There are certain ways to reach a point where you are able to tank
well, and there are certain approaches which allow you to reach your
full tanking potential.  Learning the best methods and important
techniques for successful tanking is critical.

Equipment is Key

One of the most important parts of being a successful guardian is your
equipment.  Guardians live or die by their equipment, and you
should go out of your way to save up silver for level 15, the level
where you gain access to heavy armor.  It makes a huge difference,
and a guardian who neglects getting the best armor possible will regret
it, often.  A good weapon is very important too, just like for
everyone, but less so than having the best equipment possible.

Aside from having a lot of armor protection, items are critical in
combat for the ability benefits they give.  You need to have good
statistics, and have the more important statistics to be high. 
Shop for good statistics, don’t simply assume that the highest armor
score is most important.

Statistics Prevent You from Being A Statistic

href=""> alt="Guardian Fighting Warg"
style="border: 2px solid ; width: 250px; height: 173px;" align="right">There
are certain key abilities which are critical for guardians, and what is
more, different abilities are key for a guardian depending upon what
style of combat they prefer.  In all cases, as a guardian gets to
higher and higher levels, fate is one of the most important guardian
abilities.  This is because a guardian cannot draw aggression
without the power to use special abilities, and at higher levels,
combats last longer.  You need to regenerate as much power in
combat is possible.  You can get by at lower levels without a
massive fate, but once you hit higher and mid levels, start aiming for
a nice high fate.

Agility and might are also important, though how important will vary
from race to race and player to player.  As a guardian, when
tanking, you basically have the choice of concentrating on parrying or
blocking.  If you block more, than you will want to have a higher
might, because might is important for blocking.  On the other
hand, agility is important for parrying, and so you want to have a high
agility.  On top of all this, might is important for reducing the
amount of damage you take from ordinary physical attacks, and important
for the amount of damage you do in combat.  Agility is important
for hitting and for getting a critical hit.

The way I approach statistics is by a measure of effectiveness. 
If I find that I am missing occasionally in combat, I place more
statistics in agility.  I put everything I can into fate, and
increase might as much as I can without sacrificing the other two
statistics.  This is the best way to approach combat as a
might/blocking based guardian.  If I am using an agility based
guardian, then I put as much as possible into fate, have the highest
agility as possible, and raise my might bit by bit until I am doing
enough damage to draw aggression.

Why emphasize might or agility in particular?  Because guardians
have abilities which are activated by a successful block, which are
activated by a successful parry, and if you emphasize neither, you will
gain these special abilities less than if you emphasize one or the

Make sure not to neglect virtues, such as idealism (fate bonus),
determination (might bonus) or similar.  These can make a big
deal, and it is wise to take a hard look at your virtues around level
15 or so, and get a “game plan” on what you want the stats to be.

href=""> alt="Guardian Fighting Spider"
style="border: 2px solid ; width: 250px; height: 173px;" align="left">Guardian
Blocks and Guardian Parries

Guardians have multiple abilities which are based upon their ability to
block and parry.  Retaliation is a power which is activated when
you successfully parry, and it unlocks thrust (a damage over time
against a single opponent) and whirling retaliation (a pbaoe
attack).  For blocking, a successful block you can use shield
swipe and shield taunt, or catch a breath.  I personally prefer
using blocking for my guardian, allowing me to heal (catch a breath)
and shield taunt (since this is a 1 second stun).  However, to
attack multiple opponents and keep agg, the damage over time of a
thrust and the aoe of a whirling retaliation works well.  Race by
race you will vary in what you are good at, with elves better at
parrying and dwarves better at blocking, since they have a different

You always want to remember to use your base ability, guardians ward,
to bring up your blocking and parrying abilities, and use your
guardian’s parry and guardian’s ward, depending upon your
preference.  These increase your blocking and/or parrying ability
by 10%, a huge bonus.

A third option rather than focusing on blocking or parrying is the
overpower ability.  This ups the guardian’s attack ability and
lowers their defense.  This is a pretty handy ability, but is a
solo ability.  This is a lot more useful for agility high
guardians, since you lose a lot of blocking ability, but not so much to

Juggling Opponents

Juggling opponents refers to the art of keeping multiple opponents
agged upon yourself rather than your allies.  There are certain
key principles to this which all guardians should know.

  1. You should be the one to start a
      Charge your opponents (or use a thrown weapon to
    draw their attention) and pull their aggression upon you before your
    allies attack.  The best way to teach your allies to do this is a
    simple rule.  Count to 5 before attacking, after you attack. 
    This will guarantee you will start to draw aggression before your
    allies.  Starting with aggression in a combat can make your allies
    start off on the right foot, and go a long way to survivability for you
    and your friends.
  2. Tab is your friend. 
    Targeting opponents quickly should be done quickly with the tab
    key.  There is one big danger with this.  If there are
    distant enemies who are or are not involved in the combat, you can end
    up targeting them and then being unable to attack.  However, if
    your able to keep track quickly on who your targeted on, you can switch
    opponents quickly.  Your goal is to target one opponent, get their
    aggression, switch to another, get their aggression with an attack, and
    so on.  As a parrying guardian, this is done with area of affects
    (the whirling retaliation) and thrust (damage over time attacks draw
    tons of aggression).  With a blocking guardian, this is down with
    shield taunt and shield swipe.  Since shield taunt is a stun, it
    is very effective in shutting down opponents.
  3. Known who to concentrate on. 
    Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you cannot draw
    everyones agg.  In that case, draw agg from opponents first from
    your minstrel or healer, second from hunters, and prioritize elites
    first.  Certain classes can stand up longer (such as champions),
    others have pets to draw agg (such as lore masters) and have mezz
    effects to deal with enemies.  But hunters and minstrels both have
    a lot of abilities with induction bars, and if your minstrel is being
    harassed, it can spell doom for your whole part, as all of them will be
    healed more slowly.

The Final Word

There is definitely a strategy to playing a guardian, it isn't simply
marching out to opponents and doing damage quickly as you can. 
Considering how much aggression they draw, they definitely need
support, but if played properly a guardian can spell the difference
between survival and death for your fellowship.  Make sure that
you know how to play yours properly, and you will be much desired in
any fellowship at any level

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016