Skirmishing 101: The Bannerguard


Skirmish Soldier

A few months before the release of Isengard, I ran a test with all the skirmish soldiers. During this test, I ran a series of four skirmishes with my warden using each soldier in turn: Trouble in Tuckborough at Tier 1, Ford of Bruinen at Tier 1, Thievery and Mischief at Tier 2, and Stand at Amon Sûl at Tier 2. The fastest time (and the only series where I never lost my soldier) was with the bannerguard.

While a sample size of one is hardly definitive, especially considering the variables involved in skirmishes, the clear victory by the bannerguard (four minutes better than the next best time) definitely demonstrated that it was a viable soldier despite my aversion to melee soldiers.

Therefore, the bannerguard became my standard soldier with my warden until the release of Isengard. What happened? At that point, the melee soldiers were adjusted to stand further in front of the player, making such soldiers problematic in Protectors of Thangúlhad. At that point, I went back to my archer.


Pros: The bannerguard wears heavy armor and thus can survive. They also provide a buff to any allies that are nearby. Finally, they are also very flexible on how you can trait them. If you want to constantly tweak your soldier for various instances but cannot train all six roles, then perhaps the bannerguard is for you.

Cons: The bannerguard is less focused than the other soldiers (the jack of all trades and master of none). In addition, they are melee soldiers (yes, for me that’s a con).

Group Sizes: Bannerguards can work with any group size. Their banners become more useful as the size of the group increases, though their melee soldier behavior also makes them riskier to use in larger groups.

Classes: I recommend bannerguards mainly for those who will tend to stay back in the fight, such as hunters or healers. This reduces their chance of misbehaving and will likely plop the banner right in the middle of the front lines of the battle.

Skirmishes: If you are running Protector of Thangulhad, then whoever is firing the ballistae should not use a bannerguard (or any melee soldier). They can also be tricky in Tuckborough, where you have that dangerous courtyard pull (but you can see that I managed that just fine when I ran the experiment with the various soldiers).

Armor: heavy

Damage: Melee

Special: As the name implies, the bannerguard carries a banner. This banner provides the party with a buff to their armor rating. The two ultimate skills represent alternate banners that the bannerguard can carry instead of the default banner (one that increases evade/resistances and one that increases armor penetration).



The four base skills for the bannerguard are widely different. While the archer’s skills tended to focus on damage, the bannerguard’s skills have no focus whatsoever. The two ultimate skills represent alternate banners your bannerguard can carry.

Cry of Enduring – Buffs target’s armor

This skill can be useful in solo runs as extra armor certainly won’t hurt. It becomes less useful in a group if you have a definite tank as it is likely the bannerguard will buff the wrong character. Remember the rule: the more options you give a soldier, the less likely they will perform the right one.

It’s been my experience that the bannerguard casts this at the start of the fight, which is unusually sensible for a soldier’s behavior.

Inspiring Shout – Low morale healing over time

If you occasionally can use a little healing but think that an herbalist would be overkill, then perhaps this skill is for you.

Potent Strike – High melee damage

This is the bannerguard’s most powerful strike.

Summon the Foe – Medium area threat

If you bannerguard is to act as a tank or off tank, then this is the key skill. No, a bannerguard will never outtank a protector but it can be nice in a solo run with a squishy class.

Bold Strike (Barter – Level 45) – Medium melee damage and medium threat

This is obviously another tanking skill.

Inspired Retaliation (Barter – Level 55) –Buff target to reflect damage

This skill is nice if you are running a bannerguard with a warden or other class that doesn’t need to use the bannerguard for tanking.

Ultimate: Banner of Precision (Barter – 50) –Aura that increases armor penetration

This is a nice banner to use in a larger group where a general armor bonus becomes less useful. You lose some of the armor bonus of the standard banner but you gain armor penetration in return. So, if you need offensive power over defensive, this is the banner of choice.

Ultimate: Banner of Protection (Barter – 60) –Aura that improves evade and resistance

This banner reduces the armor bonus in favor of a bonus to evasion and resistances.  This is useful if you are either at your maximum armor level or if you expect to need a boost in resistances.


The following traits are training by bannerguards (in addition to those that are trainable by all soldiers):

Heavy Armor Training – Improves armor value of those that wear heavy armor

Physical Potency – Improves damage from melee and ranges attacks

Tactical Potency – This is used to improve the bannerguard’s healing. Since the bannerguard is a rather weak healer, I do not recommend using this trait on a bannerguard.



The bannerguard is complicated where the archer was simple. They have a good number of options, so they can easily choose the wrong one. Despite that, their passive buff makes them useful anyway. If you want a focused soldier, though, you need to look elsewhere.

Next time, we will look at the Herbalist.

May your shield protect you and your spear never break,

Pineleaf Needles


  1. Andang /

    I love having a couple of captains with bannerguards. Great post Pineleaf!

  2. Kaleigh Starshine /

    Very nice! I would think that Bannerguards, like Captains, become more powerful the more that are with them.

  3. I chose a bannerguard for my champ and other than the occasional AI (lack of) issue I am very happy! That said I now prefer a soldier that drops back and stays the H*** out of the way, I wont change my Champ’s bannerguard but probably wont pick another…

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