LotRO - Guardian Class Guide Skills Overview

LotRO Guardian Guide



Guardians are a rather complex class, with different roles defined by different circumstances. Soloing will require a different rotation of skills than running an instance with a full fellowship, for example, and running a 12-man raid will require modifications from the 6-man fellowship setup.  

Threat-Building Skills

These are the "tanking" skills, the ones that specifically generate threat. Using these skills will make the Guardian the preferred target - as it should be.

A Dwarf Guardian

"This.. is my BOOM STICK!"

  • Vexing Blow - A quick swipe that does moderate damage. Can be improved with a class trait to affect multiple targets in a frontal arc.

  • Sheild-Blow - A solid shove with the shield, effective against a single target. This attack does good damage, and can be improved with the use of shield spikes. An Improved version at level 54 does more damage and generates more threat. This skill is only available when a shield is equipped.

  • Engage - Does no damage, but applies a slowing debuff and forces aggro - the recipient will target the Guardian immediately regardless of how much threat he has built up. When the effect expires, the mob will attack whoever has the highest threat rating.

  • Fray the Edge - A non-damaging shout that generates threat and applies a debuff, making the target slightly more likely to fall vitcim to a random conjunction. This debuff stacks, increasing the likelihood of triggering a random conjunction with each use, and can be improved with traits to stack up to a 30% chance to trigger a random FM.

  • Challenge - A non-damaging, area-effect shout that forces aggro on up to 3 enemies. This has a fairly small radius at 7 meters, but is often enough to yank troublesome mobs off the healer in a pinch.

  • Block Response Chain - When an enemy blow is blocked by the Guardian's shield, a reaction chain opens up. These skills are only available when a shield is equipped. All of the block reaction skills generate threat.

    • Shield-Swipe - A brutal double-whammy attack with shield and weapon. This affects a single target, and the shield attack can be improved with the use of shield spikes. Using this skill negates the use of Litany of Defiance and Catch a Breath until another blow is blocked.

    • Bash - The Guardian charges up and hurls all of his bodyweight against the target. This attack does good damage and stuns the recipient. This skill is only available after using Shield-Swipe.

    • Shield-Taunt - A non-damaging, area-effect skill. The Guardian bashes his weapon against his shield and presumably says rotten things about the targets' mothers. This skill is only available after using Shield-Swipe.

    • Shield Smash - This is a legendary skill that can be acquired at level 39 and up, and can only be used after Bash or Shield Taunt. This one does very good damage.

    • Litany of Defiance - An area-effect shout that generates threat over time and affects up to 5 targets. The Defender of the Free capstone legacy improves this skill, allowing it to affect 5 more targets. Using this skill negates the use of Shield-Swipe and Catch a Breath until another blow is blocked.

  • Whirling Retaliation - An attack from the Parry response chain, this is an area-effect attack attack that does moderate damage to up to 5 enemies within a 5-meter radius. This attack does not generate extra threat, but siphons off some of the threat from any fellowship members within 10 meters and transfers it to the Guardian. Can only be used after Retaliation.

  • Challenge the Darkness - This is a legendary trait that can be acquired at level 39 and up. This is an area-effect, non-damaging skill that forces aggro and applies the same defensive buff as Guardian's Ward.

General Damage-Dealing

The "other guys." These skills do not generate extra threat but have a number of other practical uses.

A Man Guardian

A Guardian preparing to lay some smack down.

  • Guardian's Ward -This skill does decent damage and adds a defensive buff, increasing Block and Parry ratings, Partial Block and Parry chance, and decreasing armor wear.

  • Sting - A quick attack that does moderate damage. This gets improved at level 52 to Improved Sting, which adds a bleed for 10 seconds and removes one corruption upon expiration.

  • Sweeping Cut - An area-effect double attack that hits up to 3 targets in a frontal arc. This skill does moderate damage per swipe.

  • Stamp - A downward front kick that does modest damage and interrupts inductions.

  • Salt the Wound - On its own, this skill does moderate damage against a single target. When used in conjunction with Thrust from the Parry response chain, it increases the bleed damage.

  • Parry Response Chain - When an enemy blow is parried by the Guardian's weapon, this reaction chain opens up. This chain does not require a shield to be equipped and can be used in conjunction with Overpower stance.

    • Retaliation - This is the "gate" skill that opens up the rest of the chain. Does good damage.

    • Overwhelm - Can only be used after Retaliation. This attack does a crushing downward blow, which stuns the target on a critical hit.

    • Thrust - Can only be used after Retaliation. This attack does moderate damage and applies a bleed.

    • To the King - A legendary skill that can be acquired at level 45 by completing both class quests. It can only be used after using Overwhelm or Thrust. Does very high damage and applies a run speed debuff, and has a chance of knocking the target to the ground, opening up a conjunction.

  • Let Fly - This one is not a melee attack, but the Guardian's sole ranged attack with a bow or crossbow. It does good damage. Best used for doing ranged pulls.

  • Take to Heart - A quick attack that drains power from the target and returns it twofold to the Guardian. This skill costs morale to use, and it does good damage.

  • Overpower - Guardians can use most of their melee skills while in Overpower stance, except those that require a shield. These skills can only be used in Overpower stance, and all do high damage.

    • Force Opening - A big hit that opens up the Parry response chain on a successful hit.

    • Stagger - When attacking from behind, or on a critical hit, this blow applies a debuff that slow the recipient's run and attack speeds.

    • Brutal Assault - A big, powerful hit that does very high damage and has an awesome death-metal-sounding name.


These are toggled skills that affect various aspects while active. Only one stance may be active at a time.

A Hobbit Guardian

This Mountain-Drake is about to get Maddened.  Oh, wait....

  • Guardian's Defense - This one increases Block chance, Partial Block chance, and Partial Block mitigation, and reduces wear on the shield from blocks. Activate this defensive stance if you wish to open the Block response chain and use Catch a Breath more often. Since the Block response chain skills all generate additional threat, this is a good stance for lower-level tanking, or for Guardians who do not have the Guardian's Threat legendary skill slotted. This stance can be activated without a shield, but it is pointless to do so.

  • Guardian's Parry - This one increases Parry chance, Partial Parry chance, and Partial Parry mitigation, and reduces wear on the weapon from parrying. This stance can be used without a shield. Activate this stance to open up the Parry response chain more often. This is generally a better DPS stance than Guardian's Defense and may be more useful when threat-generation is not important, as none of the Parry response skills generate additional threat.

  • Guardian's Threat - A legendary skill that can be acquired at level 39 and up. This stance increases the amount of perceived threat a Guardian generates by 20%.  It also decreases armor wear from hits and increases Block and Parry ratings. It can be used with or without a shield.  Activate this stance to generate more threat and hold aggro easier, or when grouped with Hunters and other aggro-magnets. Because it increases the rating for both Block and Parry, using this stance will open up both of those response chains more frequently than having no stance active.

  • Overpower -This stance requires a two-handed weapon to be equipped. Overpower increases damage output 15% and ramps up the power cost for skills by 30%. It lowers Evade chance, but also decreases wear on weapons from parries. This stance is useful for soloing and PvMP where big damage is needed and power consumption is generally not a big issue. Some Guardians will stay in Overpower while tanking for a group, forsaking the defense of a shield for brute offensive power.


LotRO Guardian Guide


Staying in the Fight

Guardians have lots of self-preservation skills which can keep them active and fighting longer.

A Dwarf Guardian

"No way, I'm not falling for the old 'look behind you' trick again. Nice try!"

  • Catch a Breath - This reactive skill is unlocked when a blow is blocked by the Guardian's shield. It restores a small bit of morale, and it can be upgraded through traits and gear for bigger heals and added power restoration. Using this skill negates the use of Shield-Swipe and Litany of Defiance until another blow is blocked.

  • Guardian's Pledge - Increases Block, Parry and Evade ratings by 50% each for 15 seconds. Using this skill will usually open lots of opportunities to use the Block and Parry response chain skills, particularly if used when fighting a group of mobs. If a fight is getting out of hand, this skill can buy a few precious seconds of lower incoming damage and enable the use of Catch A Breath to restore a bit of morale.

  • Warrior's Heart - A good self-heal that also increases maximum morale for 1 minute. This skill receives an upgrade at level 64, becoming Warrior's Fortitude, which adds a further buff based on the Guardian's current stance: Guardian's Defense adds Block and Partial Block chance, Guardian's Parry adds Parry and Partial Parry chance, Guardian's Threat decreases incoming melee, ranged and tactical damage, and Overpower increases melee critical chance.

  • Thrill of Danger - Only useable in-combat. This skill will restore the Guardian's power, drawing it from enemies within 10 meters. The more enemies in the area (up to 3), the more power is restored.

  • Deep Breath - This skill resets the cooldowns on Catch a Breath, Guardian's Pledge, Warrior's Heart and Thrill of Danger.

  • Turn the Tables - A reactive skill. When the Guardian is stunned (including stuns from conjunctions) or dazed, using this skill will end the stun and turn it back on the stunner, triggering a conjunction.

  • Ignore the Pain - This skill shrugs off up to 3 bleeds and wounds. It is effective against wounds up to 5 levels over the Guardian's current level.

A Friend Indeed

The Guardian stands between his fellows and the forces of darkness in more ways than just the literal sense. His keen sense of duty allows him to swiftly travel wherever the need is great, and to selectively protect particularly vulnerable companions with his great defensive skill.

A Man Guardian

A Guardian shield-walling a helpless noob

  • Guardian's Promise - A physical token of fealty and an oath sworn. The Guardian carves an acorn and gives it to a companion, who may later use that acorn to summon the Guardian to his side.  Players may only have one such token in their inventory at one time, and these items only function when in a fellowship with the Guardian. They can be traded or mailed.

  • Protection - Affects one ally, boosting his Block, Parry and Evade ratings. If the ally is within 10 meters, the Guardian can react to blocked or parried blows as though he had blocked them himself. Requires a shield to be equipped. This is a toggled skill and remains in effect as long as the ally is within range, and until it is toggled off. It can be improved through traits to make the target less threatening to enemies.

  • Shield Wall - Affects one ally, transfering all incoming damage from that ally to the Guardian. The ally cannot block, parry or evade while being protected in this manner, but takes no damage from attacks. The Guardian is slowed while this effect is active.  It is a toggled skill that costs a bit of power every second, and may be dangerous to use in situations where power consumption is an issue.

  • Charge - A 7-second burst of speed which allows the Guardian to quickly move to the front lines of a battle, or to reach a companion in need. This is improved at level 62, providing an increase to melee damage in addition to the boosted run speed.

  • Summon Tinker - The Guardian can call Macgyver, AKA Patrick Potpatcher, who is an old camping buddy from 'way back and an expert at repairing broken gear using gum wrappers and paperclips. This skill can be used at any campsite in Middle-Earth, and the vendor can be used by any character to repair damaged gear or buy shield-spikes and shield-spike recipes. Unfortunately, the vendor cannot be used to pawn vendor trash trophies - for that, you need a Burglar.

Class Tools

All classes have a few specialized tools that only they can use. Guardians have only a few, and they are not all specialized.

A Hobbit Guardian

Shield-spikes vs. Rockworm-spikes.

  • Heavy Shield - Though the Guardian is not the only class that can use them, they are the class that puts them to the best use. Heavy shields can be crafted by armorsmiths, earned as quest rewards, dropped by mobs or found in chests as boss loot. Heavy shields typically have very high armor ratings, lower Evade chance and increase other defenses, and good ones boost a number of base stats. At lower levels, the Guardian will want the highest-level shield he can use, and at higher levels will pay more attention to bonuses and armor rating. Guardians can also use light and medium shields, but these generally provide markedly less defense than heavy shields.

  • Shield Spikes - These can be made by weaponsmiths and come in a variety of flavors. Some types will increase the crit chance from shield skills, some will add specific damage types to shield attacks (Westernesse, Beleriand, Ancient Dwarf-make, etc). These bonuses last from 5 - 25 minutes, depending on type, and can be removed if needed by a shield-spike removal kit, obtainable from Guardian class trainers.

  • Guardian Belt - Belts are only available at high levels when players are able to use Legendary Items. These go in the class slot on the character journal panel. The base stat increases Shield Use Rank, making the Guardian more effective with a shield. Advanced belts (2nd & 1st age) also increase perceived threat. More information about these can be found on the Legendary Items page.


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