Updated Mon, Nov 08, 2010 by gunky
He may not LOOK like he's up to anything devious... but that's just what he wants you to think.
Soft foosteps over cold stone floors, flitting from shadow to shadow with the enemy none the wiser. A quiet knife in the dark, delivered in just the wrong spot. Perplexing riddles so confounding they leave the listener stunned. This is everyday stuff for the Burglar in the Lord of the Rings Online.
The Burglar is no Michael Caine-like gentleman-thief who goes charmingly about the business of pilfering and purloining with a delightful Cockney accent. Pilfering and purloining are only a small part of the job. Instead, the Burglar is the dirtiest fighter of the lot, using all manner of rotten tricks and devious ploys to drive the tip of his dagger into the soft, squishy spots of his enemy. For the Burglar, the "fair fight" is the one fought from the flanks against an incapacitated foe.
In a group, the Burglar is often in charge of crowd-control, using powerful, lengthy mezzes to keep enemy mobs locked down and out of the fight. And while the Burglar is not a DPS brute like the Hunter or Champion or Runekeeper, he can certainly hold his own in a fight and hit some big numbers. Burglars are also prime debuffers, with stackable bleeds, slowing attacks and all kinds of ways to hamper their victims. In solo play, Burglars are wily and devious, one of the most capable solo classes in the game, but they do require a bit more planning and patience than some other classes. In PvMP, a Burglar in the right hands is the bane of creep-kind - this is a class made for one-on-one spars, and really good Burglars can destroy most creep classes in single combat.
The Burglar class is available only to Hobbits and Race of Man. Either of these races makes a fine choice at low levels. Hobbits can eventually earn a stealth skill that is redundant for a Burglar, but the Hobbit-Silence trait is a nice touch and works a bit better than Hide in Plain Sight for instantly dropping all aggro. However, at higher levels, no single race has a distinct advantage over any other, and either race is an acceptable choice for endgame.
Agility is the prime stat for Burglars, affecting melee critical chance and evade rating. The higher the Burglar's Agility, the more often he can use the skill chained opened up by scoring a critical hit, and the less likely he is to be hit by enemies. Even with the huge assortment of nasty tricks and panic-button skills available to the Burglar, increasing offensive and defensive capabilities by boosting Agility through gear is the way to go.
Burglars do extra positional damage when they are able to hit their enemies from behind, so perfecting the buttonhook manoeuver when engaging the enemy is a good idea. This involves runing just past the enemy and immediately turning 180 degrees before attacking. In solo play, this can be done after landing a stun or disabling gamble, and in a group, this can be done when the tank engages the enemy and grabs aggro.
Burglars are perhaps best known for their reliable crowd-control. It should be pointed out that the two primary methods of Burglar crowd-control, Riddle and Confound, only work against humanoids - humans, orcs, uruks, goblins, trolls, undead, and a few other 2-legged foes - and dragonkind - drakes and worms. It is ineffective against beasts of nature, spiders, insects and the like. These other mob types can be controlled with roots, stuns and conjunctions, but not with Burglar mezzes.
Conjunctions are bread and butter for the Burglar. Fellowship Manoeuvers can be triggered more or less at will with Exploit Opening, Trip and Bags of Marbles, and the legendary skill Exposed Throat has a percentage chance to trigger one when the critical hit chain is opened.
Burglars take a good deal of patience when soloing. They can't simply wade into combat like a Champion or Guardian, and have very limited options for ranged pulling mobs, so fights against groups must be planned in advance. However, with that bit of planning, Burglars are one of the strongest solo classes in the game, capable of taking on difficult challenges without outside assistance. Patience pays.
Even when fights are carefully planned out, it can be difficult to compensate for bad luck. For instance, if a fight depends on a Riddle incapacitating an enemy and the Riddle is resisted, the plan can fail. The wise Burglar will want to have a quick and ready escape plan for when things go badly.
Because the class is built on subtlety and guile, there isn't really a single common build like there is for, say, solo-spec Hunters or raid-spec Minstrels. If you run with 6 different Burglars in 6 different situations, those Burglars will probably be traited and geared 6 different ways, and each will argue for the superiority of that build over the others. Moreso than most other classes, Burglar builds are a matter of personal preference and style, and it will take some practice and playtime to figure out what works best for each player.
The Burglar is one of the most advanced classes available to Free-to-Play accounts, and one of the most intriguing and fun. The strengths of the class lie not in pure damage-dealing or brick-wall defense, but in subtle skill and devious planning. This is the class for people who enjoy fighting dirty, for outwitting enemies rather than simply overpowering them. And many players who do not play Burglars don't understand what it is that they do, so there is a built-in air of mystery and intrigue. If you're looking for raw power, roll a Champion and have at it. But if you like being the man behind the scenes, the guy who makes his companions fight better without them realizing you're doing anything at all, Burglar is the class for you.