Developers Diary: Guardians


Dev diary pic

Verizal has released the latest Developer Diary regarding the changes coming to the Guardian when Helm’s Deep goes live. At the request of Andang (may you live ever in fear of He Who Leads the Creeps), I’m touching on some of the points discussed in the article and how they compare to the current Guardian traits and abilities. My own experience comes primarily from my Hobbit Guardian over on Imladris, whom I have levelled to 85. Now, I need to preface this article by stating that I’m a casual player who doesn’t raid, nor particularly concern myself with having the highest traits or gear. I love the game for its exploration of Middle-earth, so your mileage may vary.

The diary itself gives a broad overview of the three skill-trees that will be available to the Guardian once the Helm’s Deep changes are implimented. They are The Keen Blade (DPS), The Defender of the Free (Threat) and the Fighter of Shadow. Now the abilities hinted at in the Fighter of Shadow tree appear to offer several new options for your friendly fellowship tank and I’ll discuss that in detail below – but for now I can’t really give a one-word description of what that trait-tree will focus on.

A guardian, but not a hobbi

A guardian, but not a hobbit

The Keen Blade
Ahh, DPS. It’s the bane of a guard’s existence. I’ve never met another guardian who didn’t wish their DPS was higher. Even with Overpower stance, it always felt a little lackluster. If you had the highest virtues and the perfect specs as a guardian running overpower chances were you still weren’t going to come close to the DPS being dealt out by a Champion, Hunter or Warden. Heck, in my experience guards have the lowest DPS in the game.

The approach presented by the developers for The Keen Blade reminds me a bit of the burglar. They recognize that guardians don’t dish out DPS with a rain of heavy blows and they don’t seem to want to change that – which is all the better in my opinion. Leave that to hunters and champs. Instead, it seems like the guardian’s DPS line is going to focus on bleeds. According to the article a guard well-invested in the Keen Blade will be able to stack up to 10 bleeds and then “they will remove all bleeds on the target to deal high burst damage that is relevant to the number of bleeds removed.”

Sounds similar to a burglar and their tricks, but more DPS focused.

The Defender of the Free
Ahh, threat generation. In my experience this is a guardian’s bread and butter. Besides, nothing’s more satisfying than being a tiny hobbit and convincing every foe on the field that they need to beat you into oblvion with fire and sword – or is that just me?

Now, threat generation has unto now seemed to pretty much be a combination of your stance, some taunts, and waiting for your block skills to pop up. You’ve got your rotation and you lather, rinse, repeat and not a whole lot changes.

It seems now like the develops have tried to make a more active threat generator. While generating threat you’ll be able to buff your mitigations, which will hopefully make for a more tanky tank – or you can give up those mitigations to provide a damage bonus to everyone in the fellowship.

Now, that sounds cool. You’re not just going to stand there waiting for shield skills to pop up or your threat generation skills to come off cool down. As a guardian it seems likely you’ll look forward to getting beat on just so you can turn the tables on your foes by giving your allies that extra kick after you’ve gotten a bloody nose.

The Fighter of Shadow
This trait line always felt a bit weak to me as a player. It was just a kind of bland buff line of traits that could be useful, but was never particularly appealing. It didn’t really help generate threat or help DPS, you just kind of got to live longer. Useful, but not particularly exciting.

It appears that the developers are taking a whole new spin on the Fighter of Shadow trait tree. Guards will be able to “mark” a target and inflict light damage on targets that is seperate from the base damage. Once a target is marked, guards will be able to get bonuses to other skills like heals and buffs while combating at marked target. Also guards will be able to block with a two-handed weapon and get a bit more mileage out of their AOE. All in all, it seems to be an attempt to strike a balance between the other two trait lines without coming off as flat.

In Conclusion
I have to say that I really like what I’m seeing here. In spite of having an max-level guardian, it’s been a long time since I genuinely enjoyed playing him. It seems to me that the developers are looking to take the slow and boring turtle and turn him into someone who can not only hold the line, but also turn the tables on their foe and really help change the course of a losing battle.

The full article from the developers can be found on the Lord of the Rings Online website. Take a look and let us know what you love about guards, what you hate about guards and what you’d like to see in the future of guards!

James “Bandoras” Spahn has been playing LOTRO for three years now. His main characters can be found on Imladris and Landroval, Bandoras the Guardian and Bandoras the Burglar. He loves LOTRO for its wonderful expression of lore, fabulous cosmetic system and fantastic community.


  1. I need more information.

    As the diary reads, all I see is that threat management is gone. Managing aggro is my draw to tank classes.

    If this is the case, hopefully one of the not-tank trees better be really fun with Sword&Board, or I’ll likely continue my disinterest with my once beloved Guardian.

  2. Kaleigh Starshine /

    These lands are starting to look very much like Tyria (Guild Wars 2, where soldiers have different names and classes, but they mostly do the same things, just dressed up a bit differently.

    Easier threat management, easier this, easier that… *sigh*

  3. flosiin /

    Interesting changes. Fighter of Shadow tree almost sounds like a captain build. Marks and blocking with 2H.

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