Don’t Fence Me In!

September 6, 2009

We’ve been having a lot of interesting discussions in-kin recently about various classes and their roles, which tends to be quite an eye-opener, especially if, like me, you’re a die-hard hybrid fan. So it’s made me think why I feel so uneasy when people tell me the Captain’s primary role is buffing – it’s the thing we do better than any other class.

And what have I come up with? Not all that much. Undoubtably the Captain in LotRO is the best group buffer in the game. We can raise individuals’ crit chance, their parry or their power regen. We have a group banner/herald buff that increase morale, power or agility/might depending on which we pick. And we can raise morale by 5% across the board, as well as give everyone in the group +50 to all stats. Don’t get me wrong, none of this is to be sniffed at, it makes a massive difference in group survivability. But buffing is such a passive role, compared to how I feel when playing my Captain.

Sure, people also know we have In Harm’s Way (takes 50% of group’s incoming damage and gives it to Capt) and Last Stand (invulnerability), and also that we have a bunch of on-defeat skills (incl. a group heal). I’m sure most of them know we can single target heal too. And that we make ok healers if you can’t get a Minstrel or Rune-Keeper. I say all this with a slight case of tongue-in-cheek, because those REALLY in the know understand Captains are viable as primary healers if needed and if traited accordingly. I wonder what other skills people imagine Captains use.

I wonder if anyone can name (or even guess) the other three on-defeat skills we have access to, other than the heal. If they know about our taunts and detaunts, our bleed attack, our ability to raise our own armour rating by hitting a mob the right way. And the fact that to truly play a Captain well the buffing becomes secondary, despite it being a defining aspect of the class. To stand and add buffs to people every 5 or 30 mins isn’t very skilful, even if you have to make a small choice over what to buff each class with – they’ll tell you if you get it wrong anyway! So while it’s true it’s one of the things we do better than any other class, it’s not very rewarding to do it, as a player. I suppose that’s what grates a little.

I want people to notice all the little decisions I have to make in timing my skills, when to use which of my crit attacks, how to manage my power, when to use shield-brother skills and on whom. I know some people do. And trust me, all it really leaves me with is the sense that I do the same to every other class – I think of their main skills and know very little about the other things they can do. For some classes this will always be more hurtful than for others. People dismiss hunters and minstrels quite readily as classes they can easily pinpoint. I know I rarely thank the minstrel for their in-combat song-buffs as often as I can, nor that I notice them very often. And even when I play a hunter I don’t really think about the nuances of play.

I suppose it’s just an excuse for me to write a bit more about why I love the Captain so much than no other class has come close for me in LotRO, and only a few classes in other games (friar in DAoC and druid in WoW, of course!). When I play, I want choices, and I want my choices to matter. I want to feel like I’ve mastered a class that gives me options – not just in traiting, but in every longish fight. I want timing and strategy to matter. And I think perhaps it’s also in my nature to want to feel like I play a class particularly well, whether I do or not.

I started off this post wanting to point out all the cool stuff I can do, I conclude it considering how little I know about all the cool stuff other people can do. A cautionary tale, indeed.



  1. Oh wow! A great post. As a fellow captain, I have become quite dismayed at how we are utilised sometimes. Yes we can buff amazingly – but we can do most of our buffs before the fight – then once every 5 or 30 minutes… not exactly hard. As you rightly point out, a good captain will know how to control their power, how to select their on-defeat skills to best effect, utilising all their skills to be of most value to the party and themselves. Saying this, I really hope with the expansion that the captains can fill out their roll better and not just have such passive influence on a fight.

  2. I’ve always relished in the captain having great impact on a fight and yet the precise nature of their impact being largely unknown. Maybe I’m just weird that I don’t care about people knowing what I do beyond a need to know in the heat of battle. I remember a pick up group that wasn’t particularly organized and if I wasn’t there as a captain who could punch In Harms Way (before the nerf) and Last Stand, we would have wiped. And I didn’t say a word to them except “thanks for the group” and I went on my way. In a bit of irony, I felt more satisfied with my abilities without the recognition.

    You’re definitely right, though, that while our nature can be accurately defined as a buffing class, we’re so much more than that. When the fight gets hairy, a captain is needed in many different places at once (grab a stray add, spot heal the off-tank while the minstrel’s busy with the main, fire off the “oh crap!” combo, in-combat rez a fallen ally). And where we choose to go could be the difference between wipe and success.

    And as a captain, I too wish I spent more time familiarizing myself with the other classes. If I were truly devoted to my class, I think I would have as many alts as high as possible just for the sake of being well informed on my captain – for he, unlike any other, needs to know what the others can do in order to most accurately place himself in the battle.

  3. […] Nerf the Cat re: LOTRO – “I love the Captain so much than no other class has come close for me in LotRO” […]

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