Reposted here is my guide to take Minstrels from levels 1 to 15ish, The Minstrel Column is published every Tuesday morning at http://www.lotroreporter.com.
You’ve all made your character and hopefully have played through the tutorial, if needed, so let’s fire up the game and sprint through the next 15 levels!
Your starter area will of course be based on your race, so during the time before you get to Bree-town you’ll be working there. For Dwarves and Elves you’ll be spending your time in Ered Luin. Hobbits will, of course, be based in The Shire, and Men will be in ‘Starter Bree-land’ (Archet, Combe, and Staddle, progressively). By the time you’ve finished your beginning area quests and your Epic Prologue book quests, you’ll be very close to getting that wonderful ding at Level 15.
This is the point where doing some quick run-around quests in Bree-land will help you cross that threshold. You may find yourself wandering west to Adso’s Camp and Buckland, both of which offer Old Forest Quests, which will be highly challenging for your level and will help give you that extra jump to get beyond 15 and up to 20. Alternately you can also work your way north to Nen Harn and Trestlebridge in the North Downs to get some Snapper Soup and decent experience. If you do go this way, be sure to learn the travel path to Hengstacer Farm by talking to the stablemaster there, as it’ll save you some time later ;).
Now that you know where you should be questing, allow me to give a quick run-down on the skills you’ll be getting. Your beginning skillbar looks pretty empty, but really you’ve got enough going on here to deal with simple situations. Herald’s Strike is your first and only skill that simply does damage with your weapon; later on you can modify it to deal back health to a party member, but for now it’s very utilitarian. Raise the Spirit is your first heal, and it does its job for the early levels well. Ballad of Vigour (a Tier 1 skill — more on tiers in a moment) is your first instrument damage-dealing skill. It also adds to your vitality rating temporarily.
Piercing Cry, acquired at Level 2, does a direct burst of light damage which involves your character screaming at the enemy. If you are a Hobbit, be prepared to laugh at yourself! Later this skill can be traited to become a very useful stun.
Ballad of Steel (Tier 1) gives you an armor bonus and does light damage to your enemies. At Level 4, you have to start thinking about tiered skills. The idea behind tiers is that you must execute a skill of a lower tier in order to access the skills of the next tier. Tier 1 is a gate for Tier 2, which in turn is a gate for Tier 3. Ballad of Swiftness is your first Tier 2 ballad and raises your attack speed while causing damage to your enemies. The tier level of a skill is indicated by the number of musical notes on that skill’s icon. I’ll be delving more deeply into the subject of tiers next week and how they can affect your healing.
Ballad of War is your first Tier 3 skill, attainable at Level 6. This skill gives your fellowship a bonus to melee damage for its duration.
Ballad of Unshakeable Will(t3) will give your fellowship a bonus to fear resistance, which has some specialized usages later on, but not so much at Level 8. Ballad of Resonance(t1) gives you a 10% bonus to tactical attacks and deals damage to your enemies.
At Level 10 you’ll get your first group heal, Inspire Fellows. The nice thing about this skill isn’t really the healing it provides but rather the buffs. Although they may seem meager, a little goes a long way when it comes to Minstreling. 1% reduced incoming tactical, ranged and melee damage can be especially useful when you’re a low-level character.
Finally, at Level 14 you’ll get a couple of unique skills. Cry of the Valar is a skill that causes fear in your target, and is your first form of crowd control. Echoes of Battle is your first debuffing skill along with being a damage over time skill (DoT). (Later on, when you have the ability to use the Warspeech toggle skill, you’ll find Echoes of Battle is much more effective.) At Level 14, you’ll also get Ballad of Balance(t2), which temporarily raises your evade rating and does damage to your foes.
Every class has an individual quest at Level 15. For the Minstrel you have the glorious task of composing a ballad for recitation to the population of The Prancing Pony Inn in Bree-town. The quest will be bestowed by your Minstrel Trainer, who, conveniently enough can be found within the very same Inn. You will be instructed to talk to Piper in the Prancing Pony, then go outside via the west gate of Bree-town and talk to Leland Underhill. You’ll be transplanted into an instance where you will help Leland Underhill recover his luncheon meats. Yes, seriously. You don’t actually get to kill anything and it goes by fairly quickly; with some luck and some healing you’ll get through it in under 5 minutes, at which point it will be time for you to jump on a table to regale The Prancing Pony with the tale of your heroic deed. (Right click on the appropriate item in your inventory to start singing!)
Your reward will be quite, well… rewarding. The club is kinda nice, but I almost guarantee you’ll be switching it out in a few levels for some other quest reward. The Trait, however, is great! Medium-armor use is a trait that you will probably keep on your trait bar until you get your first Minstrel set armor. Equip it at the Bard in the Prancing Pony and love it.
See you all next week, when we’ll be discussing the Lonelands revamp, along with many other topics!