LotRO - Guardian Class Guide Group Play
style="width: 630px; height: 200px;" alt="LotRO Guardian Guide"
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PLAY AS A GUARDIAN
alt="A Dwarf Guardian"
momma's so ugly she makes onions cry!"
Group play is where Guardians can truly shine, but it can be
challenging for Guardians than for most other classes. The
style of play is vastly different in a group than for soloing, and many
players have difficulty with this transition when reaching areas of the
game that require these new strategies.
Often, the Guardian is the core of the group's defence, the
sturdy, unyielding tank who does all the mob pulls and struggles to
maintain all the enemy aggro. In raids, he may share this
task with a Warden or another Guardian, but in either case, his task is
usually the same: start the fights, keep the aggro.
The Guardian needs a rather masochistic mindset, bordering on
existential nihilism, when adventuring with a group. He must
consider himself as the first man expendable, the one who should go
down before anyone else. It is the Guardian's job to take the
beatings for everyone else. If someone else in the group
starts taking a beating, it is the Guardian's task to pull the attacker
off of that other character and put himself in that place, while
maintaining his threat status with all other attacking mobs in the
fight. While the group healer watches the green bars, and the
rest of the group watches the red ones, the Guardian largely ignores
the bars altogether and tries to keep all enemy participants coralled
into a manageable group, keeping their attention focused solely on him
for as long as needed.
Aggro management is key for group-spec Guardians, and the more
players there are in a group, the more challenging this becomes.
There is less room for error in a 12-man raid than in a 6-man
instance group. The larger group size means there are more characters
generating threat, which it is the Guardian's task to contain and
manage. This becomes increasingly complex when engaging very
large groups of mobs: not only are there more characters generating
threat, there are also more mobs responding to that threat, and these
mobs may break away and chase down those high-threat characters before
corrective measures can be taken. Group play requires a lot
of quick thinking and situational awareness - knowing where specific
members of the group are standing in relation to the mobs and one
another, reacting to changing battle situations as they occur.
The Guardian and group healer have a special bond.
When the Guardian is doing his job properly, the healer is
healing only him (not including those occasions where there is
area-wide damage, etc.). In return, the group's healer is
often the main concern of the Guardian - keeping the Minstrels or
Runekeepers free from distraction so that they may do their jobs
effectively. While that bond is important, it should not be
the Guardian's sole focus. The tank needs to take care of the
entire group, not just the healer. "The needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."
Guardians will need to switch targets often during big fights
in order to spread the threat around evenly, keep the mobs focused
on him, and occasionally pull loose mobs off the healers and Hunters.
Because of this, they make poor target assistants for
multi-target fights, as they often cannot afford to focus on any single
target long enough for the group to coordinate its attacks.
For boss fights and fights with very few enemies, they make
good target assistants. In some instances, it helps for the
group leader to target-mark the Guardian to better enable the other
members of the group to target him for heals, buffs or other forms of
In many cases, Guardians will be solely responsible for
initiating the fights - doing "pulls." There is an art to
this, as lousy pulls can lead to group wipes. Typically, the
Guardian will want to start fights with a much threat as possible to
keep enemies focused on him the entire time. Sometimes, a
ranged pull with a bow may be enough, but other times, conditions may
necessitate direct contact and large, area-effect threat generation
right from the start. There are different strategies for
pulling melee mobs and ranged mobs. Melee mobs can typically
be coralled in a tight group and contained with area-effect melee
skills and shouts. Ranged mobs will prefer to stay back out
of the range of area-effect melee attacks, and may require much more
specific attention to keep them from aggroing on the healers of the
group. Ranged mobs can be brought into melee range by
employing line-of-sight tactics - running around a corner, for example,
or moving far back out of firing range, forcing them to pursue until
they meet the rest of the fellowship in a melee ambush.
problem many Guardians will encounter in groups is the tendency for
everyone in the group to attack as soon as aggro is established,
regardless of how much threat the Guardian has had time to build up.
Sometimes, this can throw the entire battle plan off kilter
ruinous fashion. If this is the case, it may be a good idea
ask the group to give you a short period of time to build up threat - a
five-count, say - before attacking or using skills. This will
give the Guardian enough time to fire off a few big-threat area-effect
skills and build up a good head of steam.
Gear-wise, "sword-and-board" is the generally-preferred
group-spec Guardian setup. Having a shield equipped opens up
a few more threat-generating possibilities, allows the Guardian to use
Protection and Shield-Wall on vulnerable party members, and generally
increases longevity during tanking. This is not to say that
Overpower-spec Guardians cannot tank - even without a shield, they are
still better at it than most other classes - but in general terms,
equipping a shield and engaging Guardian's Threat stance is usually the
method. As with soloing, the Guardian will want to have lots of morale
and power potions on hand, as well as the various debuff curatives.
Food, scrolls and tokens are also invaluable, as well as
shield spikes. Moreso than any other class, the Guardian will
want to make sure his equipment is in good condition before entering an
instance. They are given a skill - Summon Tinker, usable at
campsite - to help with this.
alt="A Dwarf Guardian"
a hamster, and your
father smelled of elderberries!"
Threat generation is very important for the group-spec
Guardian, and it is vital to understand how threat and aggro work.
Mobs will aggro on (i.e. target) whichever character has the
highest threat rating. At the start of the fight, most
characters will have a very low threat rating, and the mobs will aggro
on whichever character initiates the fight. However, threat
builds up for each character over the course of the fight, growing
incrementally with each skill use, and unless the group's tank
generates more threat than everyone else, or reduces the amount of
threat each other character represents, the mobs will switch aggro away
from the initiator. Each mob in the fight has its own "threat
pool", to which each member of the group contributes over the course of
the fight, so that any mob in the fight may perceive higher threat from
different sources than any other.
A simplified example, with two mobs (Mob A & Mob B)
three characters (X, Y, Z):
- At the start of the fight, Mob A & Mob B have 0
threat in their pools. X moves forward and engages, so he has
a threat ranking of 1 with both, and everyone else has 0 - 1/0/0 for
Mob A, 1/0/0 for Mob B.
- X targets Mob A with an attack, increasing his threat with
Mob A to 2. Y and Z target Mob B, both using a relatively
weak attack, increasing their threat with Mob B to 1. The
pools are now 2/0/0 (Mob A) and 1/1/1 (Mob B). Mob B will
continue to attack X.
- X continues attacking Mob A with a big attack, increasing
his threat to 4. Y and Z focus on Mob B, each using a bigger
attack this time, increasing their threat to 3 each. Mob A is
now 4/0/0, Mob B is 1/3/3. Mob B will switch away from X and
target Y, who is closer than Z.
- X uses a high-threat area-effect attack which hits both Mob
A and Mob B, adding 2 to his total in both pools. Y uses a
healing skill, increasing his threat by 2 in both pools. Z
uses a big single-target attack on Mob B, adding 3 to his total in that
pool. Mob A is now 6/2/0, Mob B is now 3/5/6. Mob B
switches to Z.
- X uses an area-effect shout, which increases his threat by
3 in both pools. Y runs back a bit to get out of melee range,
which is threat-neutral and neither adds or subtracts from his
perceived threat. Z uses a class skill to lower his threat by
4 points against all mobs. Mob A is now 9/2/-4, Mob B is now
6/5/2. Mob B switches to X, who is now tanking both mobs.
X will need to keep using large-threat attacks on Mob B to
keep it focused on him, especially if Y intends to use his healing
Guardians have an advantage here, with a toggled stance that
increases the amount of threat the enemy mobs perceive without using
any skills. They also have skills that instantly generate
large amounts of threat, skills that lower the perceived threat of
everyone else around them, skills that force enemy mobs to attack them,
and skills that increase threat over time. They can start
fights with high-threat attacks, and keep building threat throughout
the fight to keep enemy attention focused on them. These
skills are the group-spec Guardian's bread and butter, and the
judicious application of these skills is one of the things that
separates good Guardian tanks from mediocre ones.
Also, as you can see from the example above, every member of
the group generates threat, not just the tank and the healer. Healers
and Hunters typically generate more threat than other classes (except
other Guardians and Wardens), but all
classes generate some threat during fights. The Guardian must
pay attention to all sources of threat in his group, and try to
minimize their impact on enemy aggro.
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