LotRO - Hunter Class Guide Endgame Strategies
Cruising for a decon at level 30
HUNTER LEGENDARY ITEMS
Hunter Legendary items come in two flavors: ranged weapon and melee weapon. Hunters and Wardens are the only two classes that get two weapons as legendary items - all other classes get a weapon and special class item. Feel special? You should.
With the new system implemented in Update 2: Echoes of the Dead, it is much, much easier to get an ideal Hunter legendary item than ever before. It just might take a bit more work.
The Major legacies to look for on the ranged weapon are the Critical Multipliers: Focus Bow Critical Multiplier and Induction Bow Critical Multiplier. No foolin', you want both. Of the Minor legacies, the one that stands above the rest is Barbed Arrow Bleed Damage, which is about the same DPS increase as either of the Critical Multipliers when you work Barbed Arrow into regular shot rotations. Pretty much everything else is gravy, but you may also want reduced power cost legacies, extra damage from Heart-seeker or something disposable to replace with a Vitality or Agility legacy. Regardless, if your current bow doesn't have both critical multiplier legacies, find yourself a trash bow that has the one you are missing, level it to 30, select that legacy and apply the scroll to your main bow.
For the melee weapon, you want to have as many Major legacies
as possible. The Major legacies to look for are Beneath Notice Cooldown
(your aggro-dropper, important for running with groups), Needful Haste
Duration (shoot faster for longer), Max Targets for AoE (Rain of Thorns
can root up to 9 mobs instead of only 5), Critical Magnitude in
Precision (shots hit harder) and Find the Path Movement Speed.
The most important characteristic of your bow or crossbow is not so much the legacies, but the DPS. Level the DPS first and the legacies after, and always keep an eye out for the bow that might be better than the one you have now. Maxed-out higher level items do more damage than maxed-out lower-level ones, regardless of what Age they are. The difference between a level 60 First Age bow and a level 61 Third Age is very, very small and not likely enough to merit switching considering the strength of the legacies of the lower level weapon, but this difference is more evident between a level 60 First Age bow and a level 65 Third Age. The lower-quality, higher-level Third Age will out-DPS the First Age, and this does merit an upgrade.
For melee weapons, the opposite is true. DPS is less important than having loads of good, high-tiered Major legacies. In fact, if you get a good melee weapon with the right combination of Major legacies, you may decide not to bump up the DPS at all.
Considering how easy it is to get level 65 Second Age items these days, there's no reason to stick with that level 60 First Age sword you ran the turtle raid six times to get. The legacy scrolls from deconning one of these bad boys won't work on level 65 items and they can't hold the top relics. Scrap it and use the item XP rune on something worthwhile.
More information on LI legacies can be found on the Lorebook.
This ain't your grand-daddy's Improved Fleet Stance. Improved Fleetness is actually pretty good.
HUNTER TRAIT LINES
Class traits are divided into 3 sets, 8 traits in each set. Each set has a "capstone" legendary skill that can only be traited by slotting 5 traits in that line. Slotting multiple traits from the same set confers other accumulative bonuses. These sets, or "trait lines," allow the character to really specialize in a particular aspect of that class. The three Hunter lines focus on raw DPS (Bow-master line), speed (Huntsman line) and crowd control (Trapper of Foes line).
The Bow-master line is ideally suited for solo players. The associated class traits generally make ranged skills hit harder by upping the damage of specific skills or modifying the critical chance. For set bonuses, Bowmaster heavily favors Strength stance - it increases the damage and power cost while using Strength stance. The capstone legendary skill, Cool Burn, replaces the Burn Hot skill, doing an additional 10% ranged damage for 20 seconds at a further-reduced power cost, and reducing the cooldown between uses. This is no longer the "kamikaze" skill it used to be.
The Huntsman line is geared more towards group players. The class traits in this line generally increase attack speed, reduce induction times and reduce skill cooldowns. Set bonuses further reduce induction times and improve morale and power regeneration skills. The capstone legendary skill, Improved Fleetness, does just what it says: improves the Fleetness buff, increasing attack and extending the duration of this now-awesome self-buff.
Trapper of Foes is the CC line. The traits generally make crowd-control skills work a bit better or last a bit longer, and help the Hunter conserve and regenerate power and reduce threat. Set bonuses further improve on CC skills and reduce threat, but at the cost of ranged damage. The capstone legendary skill, Explosive Arrow, replaces Distracting Shot, increasing the stun duration to 30 seconds and reducing the cooldown. While the hit to ranged damage may be unacceptable for many Hunters, the utility of greatly-improved CC and the area-effect Poison Purge makes this a viable trait line for PvMP or group play. It puts the Hunter on par with Burglars and Lore-masters for keeping mobs locked down and out of the fight. It is important to remember, however, that Hunter CC is rarely ever the reason Hunters are wanted in instance groups.
Many PvE Hunters stay with a combo of Huntsman and Bowmaster traits. The combination of 4 Huntsman, 3 Bowmaster gives a good mix of speed, survivability and power - it opens up Improved Press Onward, reduces inductions significantly and boosts damage in Strength stance. This is a great setup for group or solo play. In groups, Hunters tend to avoid Strength stance anyway, which makes going with mostly Bowmaster traits something of a waste. For solo play, it does reduce DPS in Strength stance a bit, but it sigificantly improves inductions, making it more likely for the Hunter to get shots off while being attacked.
Determination is a Hunter's best pal. You pretty much have to be Determined to want to undertake the Crawler-slayer deed in Trollshaws.
Virtues - Ah, the joy of grinding deeds to rank up virtues. This process is the base definition of "grinding," and for some it is more like work than playing a game. On the plus side, grinding deeds for Hunters is actually pretty easy - exploration deeds go fast because of the Hunter's blazing speed, and slayer deeds go fast because Hunters tend to kill things quickly.
Some players will find it easier to work on these deeds as they work their way through a given area, gaining experience from near-level mobs, learning the ins and outs of newly-acquired skills. Others prefer to tear through an area as quickly as possible, chasing the next level, and then go back later to complete deeds when the mobs are no longer a challenge. Either way, having a good set of deed-earned virtues is one of the things that separates good hunters from mediocre ones.
A fairly obvious Hunter virtue is Determination. At rank 10, this provides +30 Agility, +45 in-combat morale regeneration, and +58 maximum morale. There are plenty of ways to rank this one up by killing things: 90 barghests in Bree-land; 90 slugs in the Shire; 90 wolves in Ered Luin; 270 wargs in North Downs; 360 crawlers in Trollshaws; 360 snowbeasts in Misty Mountains; 360 salamanders in Evendim; 450 wargs in Angmar; 360 crawlers and lizards in Eregion; and all 7 uruk captains in Eregion. That's 10 already, and there are more in Moria, Lothlorien and Mirkwood.
Most endgame-focused Hunters will have a similar set of virtues, and almost all of these include Determination in the lineup. A lot of the time, it boils down to personal preference, but there are a number of factors to seriously consider when choosing a good set of virtues.
- Having more morale usually helps. Justice and Valour both offer additional maximum morale, but virtues that increase Vitality (Loyalty, Honour, Fidelity) also increase maximum morale, since morale is based on Vitality.
- Will is often neglected when choosing gear, and as a result Hunters tend to have fairly low Power scores. Loyalty, Honesty and Fidelity all increase power directly, while Wisdom, Idealism and Confidence all increase Will.
- Having some kind of damage mitigation helps. Compassion, Charity and Patience all offer ranged defense bonuses, and Discipline, Innocence and Zeal all add melee defense. Ranged defense is slightly more important for fellowship builds, where Hunters must occasionally take ranged aggro off of healers and act as ranged tanks for short periods. For solo play, melee defense is more important, since there are no meat shields to hide behind.
A sample virtue set for general PvE: Determination (for Agility and morale), Loyalty (Vitality and power), Valour (morale), Justice (morale), Compassion (ranged defense). This is a fairly common setup for Hunters, with a big boost to morale (over 400) and non-combat morale regeneration (over 670), +30 Agility, +1000 ranged defense for short-term ranged tanking, and a small boost to power and power regeneration.