On the thoughts of rolling a new minstrel, from what I’ve read the general consensus is that Hobbit is the way to go. My minstrel is an Elf, I rolled her when I had no idea how to play the game. That’s the truth. Now that I’m re-rolling on Landroval, I went with Hobbit. There’s really no big disadvantage to their race and with the extra ‘Possum skill’ that can be traited in, it’s pretty much win. After listening to the Minstrel roundtable from CStM, I can see how Man would be advantageous with their personal traited heal. Though I personally prefer Hobbits over Men 😛
You start off with the tier system, not really knowing what to do, if you were/are anything like me, you just hit any skill that’s ‘lit up’/able to be used. (That’s how I’m still running my Guardian at level 33, so you might want to avoid her.) So there’s the little musical note skills, Tier 1 (), Tier 2 (), and Tier 3 () after using a Tier 3 you’ll be able to use an anthem that usually is pretty useful in groups, not so much in solo play. There’s also a trait (Smooth Voice) you can slot later that will lengthen certain ballads to make them all a group buff. So let’s run through it, even though it seems pretty simple. You have to do a Tier 1 first, then you can do a Tier 2, at this point you can perform all three tiers in any order as long as they don’t go gray again. When you use an Anthem it requires a recent Tier 3 and will reset you to only being able to use a Tier 1 which means you’ll have to build yourself back up to using the Tier 3 group buffs that are fairly useful. Cry of the Chorus makes this much easier and will automatically pull you back up to Tier 3 performance, though the 10 minute cool-down certain bites.
A few words on virtues. Virtues can be rough, especially if LOTRO is something you’re new to, Minstrels however are fairly easy to trait up. You want Fate, fate, and will. That’s about it! I will say that personally I like having some wound and poison resist stuff, but usually I try to go for the big guns like fate, will, and vitality. There’s not a lot of people who would tell you to avoid certain aspects, but just read what each of the statistics do and use your head 🙂
My personal playstyle is probably different from most people, I spend a lot of the game playing with my husband Yseangwen. When you sit 3 feet apart it’s hard not to jump in and help each other out. So we ended up playing solo together! I have distinct playing styles that are best illustrated in the way I organize my skill bar and class traits. I usually ‘duo’ so here’s how I’m set up for that.
When I duo I’m usually with Yseangwen’s Hunter, both of us do a lot of crowd control and cautious playing. We don’t do a lot of ‘on-level’ stuff. We usually just like to clear out the quests and complete areas on a casual scale (Read: We grind out Angmar(-Carn Dum) in a weekend). It’s also the way that we’ve both progressed through the game. This is how I usually play, I’ll have the following class traits slotted: Tempo of Bravery, Unrelenting, Focused Performance, Life-singer, Battle-hymn, Glorious Anthem, and Lyrics of Bravery. Forget about warspeech, when you’ve got to watch two morale bars and you’re both a little squishy. I’ll also switch to a theorbo if I can to lower the healing threat issues that can come up during a long fight. When I said we do a lot of crowd control I meant that we ‘fear bump’ or at least that’s what we call it (lol), there’s the little fear skill that you get (you know, the pink one! Cry of the Valar at level 15 or so-ish) well hunter’s get a little fear skill too, turns out they both run out at 15sec and recharge in 30sec. Between the two of us we can bump an extra mob around indefinitely. It’s awesome when it works well, sometimes someone forgets it’s their turn *ahem* or it brings a friend or two, but usually it goes as expected. With Unrelenting, if fear-bump brings an extra mob, I have a higher chance of being able to stun it with Piercing Cry and thus pause it for being the next in queue for DPS. When it comes to armor, I have one set. Well, two. I use both the Balladeer’s Armor and the Armor of the Poet’s Heart. I’m cheap and it works, I don’t have medium-armor use slotted, though I think I’ll probably try to get my tailor to Mirkwood so I can craft me some ‘of power’ armor that Harperella was talking about. Occasionally I’ll get focused on healing Ysea and I’ll forget to heal myself, so I do run into needing healing potions. As a general rule I try to keep 5 or 6 in my bag at all times along with a wide array of power potions and conhuith for fear effects. Hunters and Minstrels can really be a match made in heaven when it comes to crowd control and dynamics, but I think I’ll save that for another post.
When I do play solo, I’ll keep the same class traits and equipment. The biggest change is that I’ll run with Warspeech on.
Obviously when I’m in a group for something like Grand Stair, I’ll be running healing and buffing. So I will swap out Battle-hymn and Glorious Anthem for Smooth Voice and Graceful Demeanor. Same equipment and back to the theorbo for threat reduction. I prefer to use Tale of Heroism for the +60 fate and will bonus, which translates to an extra 200 power. Though I’ll gladly switch to another toggle buff if needed for an area or specific fight. With Smooth Voice, I’ll be using those extended group buffs before a fight and if I get a chance during the fight (sparingly). I rarely group, so most of my healing is reaction-based, 90% of the time it’s centered on the tank. I try to keep a HoT (Heal over Time, Soliloquy of Spirit) on the tank during a fight and then pop in with the bigger heal as needed (Bolster Courage). I usually save Raise the Spirit (the little heal) for casters that may be fielding adds or drawing a little aggro occasionally. Then there’s the ‘oh crap!’ heals, which are used as needed. When it comes to a group heal Inspire Fellows should be used sparingly, the power cost versus the output of healing, it kind of makes itself a ‘oh crap!’ heal. I try to avoid using it, despite the name of my blog.
Skill Bars can be the biggest hang up for me, on my Mini I wish I could add like 3 more bars to keep it more organized. As it is, I’m using all five. So here we go with the enormous graphic and then I’ll proceed to run through them per line usage.
The First Bar is really reserved for potions and toggle skills, although I do use the Flying swords on nearly every fight if I’m playing solo. Second row has the Warspeech only skills and my damage dealing ballads and anthems. The Third Row are my mounts and very rarely used skills. Fourth row has my travel to home skill, some more rarely used skills, so I can switch them to the top row if they seem relevant to an area, and my mentoring skills. I really enjoy hitting the forced dance emote, but I’d probably never do it on an RP heavy server. Fifth row is kinda strange, there’s my crafting skill, fishing (btw, aren’t you excited about the new hobby on the way!), traited travel options, power potions and skirmish commands. Sixth row is my meat and potatoes, there’s the group buffing (when traited) anthems and heals.
Keeping instruments with different damage types is one of those things that just becomes necessity after playing for a while. You’ll want to keep one of each stashed somewhere, but I like to keep them with me, rather than running back to storage if I need to switch for one. I keep a Beleriand Flute, a Dwarf-make Harp, and a Westernesse Theorbo. I also can’t help but run around with my Moor Cowbell, which I use to torture lower level mobs *devious grin*.
I don’t really do much with my legendaries, I’m mostly just running through a whole bunch of Third Age ones to deconstruct at level 10ish. I couldn’t resist making myself a Second Age sword (I’m a weaponsmith) so I of course the one I made came out pretty well for my playstyles. My Second Age Songbook was a hasty purchase on the auction house and I can’t say I’m too disappointed with that either, but it doesn’t have the best stats. Legendary Items aren’t really up to snuff on what they should be, but then again I’m pretty sure most people in LOTRO community know that by heart at this point.
I know I didn’t get to everything that goes along with being a Minstrel, but I think I did a little insight into what I normally run with my Rubywing 🙂