Ten Ton Hammer's All-New Warden Class Guide for the Lord of the Rings Online - Overview
WARDEN CLASS OVERVIEW
If the distinctive notched shield doesn't tell you right away that this is a Warden, the tough-guy face should.
Reminiscent of the hoplite warriors of ancient times, the Warden is a relic of a lost age. He is a one-man army against the forces of Mordor, standing firm behind his notched shield and building deadly combo attacks for a wide variety of effects. He is quick to put himself between dangerous foes and protected allies, and able to move swiftly wherever the need is greatest.
The Warden is a premium class, only available to VIP players or Premium players who have purchased the option from the LotRO Store. And they are premium for a good reason: they are one of the most advanced classes in the game, and quite powerful in the right hands.
In a group, the Warden is a highly-mobile tank. He is not the damage-soaking brick wall that is the Guardian, but rather more nimble, with a much broader array of self-heals to keep him standing. Most of what the Warden does is drawn out over time: heal-over-time, threat-over-time, damage-over-time. While Guardian threat is instant, Warden threat is slower to build but can hit very high numbers during a long battle.
Wardens are one of the very strongest solo classes in the game, capable of taking on large groups and very powerful mobs without assistance of any kind. With ramped-up DPS and self-heals, the Warden can stand tall against elite mobs that would tear many other classes to shreds.
The Warden class is available to all races except Dwarves, and is limited to VIP players or Premium players who have purchased the class from the LotRO Store. Race of Man, being the strongest of the available classes at the start of the game, is a solid choice for Wardens, but at later levels, no single race has a distinct advantage over any other, and any available race is viable.
The strength of the Warden class lies in Gambits - different combinations of three basic attacks that are built up piece by piece until they make the "recipe" for a more powerful skill. Gambits come in several flavours: some are defense, some are offense, some are self-heals, some are threat-builders. Unlike some classes that can get away with a "button-mashing" style of combat, Wardens are careful planners, building specific Gambits for specific applications.
Warden tanking relies on two things: building threat and self-heals-over-time (hereafter referred to as self-HOTs). Building threat involves a fair bit of forethought and careful planning since they have no forced-aggro attacks (except for one legendary skill with a dreadfully-brief 5-second duration), but once a Warden gets aggro, it can be tough for other group members to pull it off of him. And if another group member does manage to pull aggro, the Warden can leech that person's accumulated threat away, causing the mob to return to him.
Wardens have more self-heals than Guardians do, and healing also generates threat. More importantly, the self-heals can be used to allow the Warden to take on very powerful mobs by himself, without the aid of a healer or anyone else. With the right setup, Wardens can solo a lot of content intended for groups.
Like Hunters, Wardens have the innate ability to fast-travel pretty much anywhere. However, unlike the Hunter wayfaring skills, Warden musters cannot transport groups of people. They affect the Warden only, allowing him to quickly go where he is needed.
While Gambits are powerful, they do not work in the same way as regular skills. They cannot be slotted on the quickbar and must be built up to be used. This involves memorizing a number of different combo attacks for different effects, and those of us with spotty memories may have some difficulty keeping all the different Gambits straight without the aid of a spreadsheet or some other kind of external reference chart. This gets particularly difficult at higher levels when the Warden wants to use longer Gambits requiring 4 or 5 basic attacks in specific sequences. This is the primary reason why the Warden is considered an "advanced" class.
When tanking with a Warden, it is important to remind the group that Wardens do not have instant-aggro or forced-attack skills like Guardians do, except for one legendary skill. DPS classes will need to take this into account and "ramp" their damage accordingly, and the players who are unfamiliar with the mechanics of the class (or who are too lazy to be bothered ramping their DPS) will likely complain when they inevitably pull mobs off the tanking Warden. Once aggro is lost to other members of the group, it can take some time to get it back.
Power drain can become a real issue for Wardens. Using the carvings helps a bit with that, but since physical stats (Might, Vitality, Agility) generally take precedence over mental stats (Will, Fate), power pools are often smaller, and the carvings only affect one style (Fist, Spear, Shield). Bring lots of power-restoring potions.
Unlike most other classes, Wardens have no panic-button skills, excluding racial abilities. When things get hairy, the Warden will need to kite mobs and use self-HOTs or use racial skills to escape.
On some servers, Wardens are something of a controversial class, and player experiences tend to run either hot or cold. The people that enjoy the class are often adamant and vocal adherents, and the people that dislike the class are often adamant and vocal detractors.
The Warden of the Lord of the Rings Online is one tough cookie. Don't let the medium armour fool you - these guys can stand alone, toe-to-toe against the toughest mobs and come out on top. Arguably the most capable solo class in the game, the Warden is powerful enough that it has been marked as a premium class, available only to VIP players and Premium players who purchase the class from the LotRO Store. It is also a very advanced class, relying on stringing together powerful Gambits through sequences of basic attacks. Button-mashers need not apply.