Author’s note: this was the guide I originally posted on the LOTRO forums back in 2008, but it was pruned, so I’m posting it here for posterity.
If you want to understand the mechanics of the LOTRO Captain class, this guide is for you. For brevity, acronyms are used extensively in this guide and are defined at the end of this post.
In general, I have avoided discussions on builds/gear, as they are aptly covered in Elborigorn’s [updated] Advice on Playing the Captain Class.
Please post comments/feedback/tips, contributors will be credited as the guide is updated, e.g.: (contributed by Gumby).
Table of Contents
- Captain Buffing Mechanics
- Captain DPS Mechanics
- Captain Healing Mechanics
- Captain Power Mechanics
- Captain Bubbling Mechanics
- Captain On-Defeat Response Mechanics
- Captain Survivability Mechanics
- Captain Marking and Debuffing Mechanics
- When and How to Tank
- Are You an Active Captain
Captain Buffing Mechanics
These passive buffs should be on your group members at all times:
- IDoME: +50 stats for the group (for 1500 whopping total points in a full group)
- MS: 5% morale buff for the group
- Tactic: 3% crit chance, 3.5 parry, or 1 ICPR for an individual
MS and IDoME stack; i.e. the 5% buff from MS applies to the morale given by the +50 vit from IDoME.
You should always have a SB designated. You can choose to SB
- the tank to increase healing efficiency (5% via SoW) and threat generation (via TA), or
- a DPS to buff their damage via TA
TA increases damage done by your SB by 25% for 10 seconds, and TA has a CD of 1 minute.
If you SB a champ or hunter, the 100 Power cost (at 50) is generally worth the amount of extra damage they’ll do. Esp if they use high-damage CDs while the buff is up.
Even if your DPS SB doesn’t change their attack sequence, if you use TA every time it’s up, you’re effectively boosting their overall DPS by 4.17% ((6.25 – 6) / 6). However, if your DPS SB does take into account your buff when selecting skills, it will boost their overall DPS by > 4.17%.
None of the SB moves require that you have the given target SB’ed for the duration, so keeping it loaded is always nice for cycling heals/buffs more quickly around the fellowship. (contributed by spitfirejunky)
Captain DPS Mechanics
Note: most of this section applies to all classes not just Captains.
It’s pretty clear that most of our damage is generated from melee attacks. Our 3 tactical damage skills (BS, RoC, and NM) typically account for a small fraction of the damage we output.
Therefore, it’s important to understand which of our non-weapon stats impact melee damage. They are:
Might impacts how hard you hit. Hakon_Stormbrow has determined that Might scales damage linearly to 500. Hakon is brilliant :D
Agility increases our MCC.
MCC increases our…melee crit chance…duh!
Simply put: Might makes you hit harder and your crits bigger, Agility makes you crit more often.
I used to favor Agility over Might, but the reality is that it is much easier to stack Might than Agility based on the stats typically on gear, and there are no diminishing returns (DR) on Might-related damage, whereas AFAIK, there is DR on the MCC for Agility.
The sole Captain “burst damage” is delivered by a DB crit. A DB crit does triple damage, hence the name “Devastating”. (contributed by Lord_Flashard)
Moving on from the basic stuff, it is absolutely critical that you understand how weapons impact our power efficiency and actual DPS. So many Captains, even level 50s, don’t understand this! A few points before we get started:
- Crit damage is calculated using the max weapon damage (for 1 swing) not the weapon DPS
- Crits with auto-attack inflict 1.25 x max weapon damage. Crits with skills inflict 1.5 x max weapon damage
- Instant-cast melee skills use the weapon damage range (e.g. 75-125 for MAS Halberd), not the DPS number
- A given skill (e.g. Defensive Strike) costs the same amount of power regardless of whether you are striking with a butter knife or a halberd. Therefore you’ll get more bang (damage) for your buck (power) by using a bigger weapon
It’s easy to understand that the halberd is the most power-efficient weapon in the game (see last 2 points above). That is, it gives the best damage-to-power ratio.
But what about actual DPS inflicted?
Halberds not only have the slowest swing speed, but they also have the widest damage range of any weapon. E.g.
- 75-125 for MAS Halberd (3.2 speed), or per-hit 100 avg +/- 25, and a 50-pt range
- 82-112 for MAS Headsman’s Axe (3.1 speed), or per-hit 97 avg +/- 15, and a 30-pt range
- 72-103 for MAS Greatsword (2.8 speed), or per-hit 87.5 avg +/- 15.5, and a 31-pt range
That wide damage range is key, because the top end of that range is used for calculating crit damage.
Why does the MAS Halberd have such a wide damage range compared to the other 2 MAS 2H weapons? I don’t know, but I sure as heck am going to take advantage of it.
Let’s look for a moment at the damage inflicted on auto-attack for 2 same-DPS-rating weapons: MAS Halberd and MAS Greatsword.
When you crit with the MAS Halberd on auto-attack, you’re looking at 125 x 1.25 for damage, compared to 103 x 1.25 damage for the MAS Greatsword, or a difference of 22 x 1.25. (The actual difference in damage done should be larger than 22 x 1.25, as per Hakon Stormbrow’s Combat Formulas, the weapon damage is multiplied by factors such as your might and level.) The 30 might from the MAS Greatsword will increase your damage, but not enough to make up for the huge gap. Even if you slot the 2% racial sword bonus damage, it’s still not going to cover the gap in terms of damage inflicted on a crit.
The question then becomes: at what MCC does the MAS Halberd deliver better overall DPS over time compared to the MAS Greatsword? Because remember, the MAS Greatsword has 30 Might instead of 2% parry.
Offhand, I don’t know what that magical MCC % is. If your MCC is 0%, the MAS Greatsword is the better performer, because of the 30 Might. As your MCC increases from 0%, the MAS Halberd will close the gap to the MAS Greatsword until eventually the MAS Halberd outperforms the MAS Greatsword. No, I’m not going to provide detailed numbers, this is intuitive enough that I’ll let other people do the math.
And remember, we’ve been talking about auto-attack crits, which have the 1.25 multiplier. For skill crits, the multiplier is 1.5. So the gap between MAS Greatsword and MAS Halberd is significantly larger on skill crits.
So the halberd is not only the best for power efficiency, but it will in many cases deliver the most actual DPS over time. That’s a win-win!
One interesting takeaway from the crit mechanics is that a halberd with a lower DPS rating than a faster 2h may still deliver better overall DPS, because halberds by design have a wide damage range, and therefore high max damage, which drives crit damage. YMMV, per your MCC.
Captain Healing Mechanics
All of our heals (aside from the indirect damage-based healing of RM) contain HoTs. WoC and RaC have upfront and HoT components, Inspire is strictly HoT.
If you re-cast WoC or Inspire before the HoT has expired from a previous cast, you overwrite the remaining ticks from the previous HoT, and therefore lower your heal / power ratio.
Therefore to maximize your healing efficiency in PVE: heal early, and avoid overwriting HoT ticks. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you are having to spam WoC to keep someone alive. Proactive healing, instead of reactive healing, is the way to go.
There are 2 stats that directly impact the healing output for a single healing cast:
TCC increases the probability that a heal or HoT tick will crit. This is calculated per-target and per-event. E.g. if you cast Rallying Cry on a full group, each of the 6 upfront heals can crit, and each of the HoT ticks for each of the 6 people can crit.
Fate increases your TCC.
TCM increases the magnitude of a crit. I.e. it makes that big number even bigger.
In general, TCC influences healing output moreso than TCM, until you get to a point where TCC is so high (e.g. well north of 30%) that you are critting so often that TCM is the bigger lever. At low TCC %, stacking TCM doesn’t make sense, because you’re critting so infrequently that TCM won’t contribute much to your overall output. This is intuitively obvious, so I’m not going to crunch the numbers. If someone else would like to, have at it, and I’ll link your math.
For more information on HoT-based healing, see Teowulf’s Healing guide.
Keep in mind one of our best “healing” abilities is actually a bubble: IHW. Technically it’s not a heal, but it does prevent the rest of your group from losing morale. The CD is very short, and sometimes you can pop IHW without having to use LS or SoM.
Captain Power Mechanics
Our power consumption issues are well-documented, we won’t belabor them here.
We’ve already covered in this Guide why a slow-swinging halberd is the most power-efficient DPS weapon on the game.
Aside from the obvious use of Victory Herald / Standard and the 1 ICPR Tactic buff, here are things you can do:
- equip two 1.5 ICPR bracelets (e.g. the Polished Beryl’s or the R4’s)
- equip an ICPR weapon
- equip a weapon with power drain
- stack Fate (traits, gear)
- slot traits that improve healing efficiency (FND, NfW)
Please note it takes ~55 Fate for 1 ICPR, and there is DR on Fate. That’s why players of any class often say it’s more efficient for power regen to stack ICPR directly than Fate.
DS is a power-efficient attack and it has a very short cooldown. Therefore, Captains will often use an attack sequence loaded with DS that looks something like this…
BS DS DB DS CA DS BS DS DB DS BoE etc
…with auto-attacks in between each melee attack.
With the B14 improvement to CA’s DoT damage, CA is our most power-efficient single-target attack if all the DoTs tick, which takes 20 seconds. So if you are fighting a mob that will take 20+ seconds to kill, it makes sense to open your attack sequence with CA.
You should not overwrite your BoE buff by spamming BoE, it’s an expensive skill.
Captain Bubbling Mechanics
Question: what is the best skill for bailing out someone about to die?
Answer: IHW. It transfers all fellowship damage to you. It’s better to cast it a sec too early than a sec too late to save someone(s) in trouble. You may need to pop either LS or SoM or suck a heal pot to survive the absorbed damage. Or if those abilities are on cooldown, you can run out of range of the players being attacked so that you are no longer absorbing their damage.
The range of IHW has been confirmed to be 25m, and group members who were out of range when you cast IHW will get the bubble if they run back within that range to you (contributed by: Harp).
As IHW has a relatively short CD (5 min), you can and should get a lot of use out of it. It’s particularly useful for helping a mins who is getting induction interrupted too much to heal.
Captain On-Defeat Response Mechanics
Captains can use an on-defeat cry (Rallying, Routing, or War) when any of the following conditions are met
- an enemy is defeated (duh!)
- the Captain crits with DB
- the Captain crits with either of the two 2nd swings of PA
The last 2 conditions are important, esp when soloing, because the sooner in a fight we can begin popping cries, the more control we have.
The only ways to boost one’s crit rate with DB or PA are
- raise MCC (via Agility and / or MCC stats)
- use the Tactic: Relentless Attack buff (3% MCC)
- slot the EA trait
The EA trait rocks because it boosts burst damage and increases the chance for an on-defeat response. Win-win.
Captain Survivability Mechanics
Note: much of this section applies to all classes not just Captains.
You can B/P attacks in front of you, but you can’t B/P attacks from behind you. Therefore keep your enemies in front of you, esp in PVE. Just take a step or two back.
Might improves your B/P and common mitigation, which is by far the most common (no pun intended) damage type in PVE.
Agility improves your E/P. Evade is nice because it works on attacks from any direction.
Our morale % buffs (MS and Banners) buff morale, not Vitality, so you don’t have to stack Vitality to have high morale. Vitality is my lowest stat at 290 self-buffed, and I still have over 5200 morale.
If you haven’t tried slotting Defiance, try it. It makes LS go from good to great.
Captain Marking and Debuffing Mechanics
We have 3 marks available to us:
- NM: DoT. Mainly useful in PVE to ranged pull. For PVP, often used to put or keep Creeps in-combat
- RM: returns 15% of damage done on the marked target as healing to the attacker
- TM: adds a small amount of damage taken by the marked target
RM tends to provide the most utility for soloing and for grouping. RM scales based on damage done by the attacker, and it’s a target debuff, so anyone attacking the target benefits from it.
While the extra damage from TM is small, at least it scales in the same way that RM does: anyone attacking the marked target benefits from the mark.
As of Book 12, our marks “stack” again, so multiple Captains can put up different marks on the same target.
Captain’s have a superbly-scaling debuff in OS. It increases the target’s vulnerability to all damage types by 35%. Which means that anyone hitting the target will hit much harder. OS has value in both PVP and in PVE for burning down a mob (e.g. killing that 1st shaman on the Thrang fight, burning the last 10k of the Balrog, downing a Tyrant, etc).
When and How to Tank
There are cases when you are in a fellowship that doesn’t have a Guard.
The question is, who should tank, and why? Some considerations:
- The tank obviously needs to be able to generate more threat, on at least the primary target, than everyone else. A tank that can’t hold aggro is useless
- The tank should have solid B/E/P and mitigation
- Classes that have induction-based skills (e.g. Hunters and LMs), will lose DPS when they are getting hit
If it’s just you and a Hunter, remember, a Hunter delivers the most DPS when they aren’t tanking. Some folks will argue you should let the Hunter tank because you can heal them but not yourself. The problem with that is Hunters are very squishy. If you and a Hunter can kill the mobs while having you tank without any risk, you should tank.
People often complain about not being able to hold aggro over Hunters. The mistake most Captains make is not dictating the action. If you let a Hunter pull and start blasting while you are out-of-melee-range, you’ll be behind on the threat list from the get-go, and you’ll have to chase the mob around. Here’s what you should do:
- Pull the 1st mob with TS
- While the mob is running over, hit it with BS, and enable auto-attack
- Use CA + Grave Wound. GW raises your entire perceived threat
- Continue with your normal skill chain
The advantage of dictating the action is the mob will come straight to you. You may end up losing aggro eventually, but by that time the mob, even an elite, will typically be close to dead.
Are You an Active Captain?
An “active Captain” is one who contributes all of the following in a fellowship / raid context:
- Buffs, and
- DPS, and
Those are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of priority.
Buffing is a given, we should always do that. But what about DPS and healing? IMO it’s not either / or. You should do both, as appropriate, given the situation and group composition.
Granted, in a given group, your primary role may be the tank. Or the healer. But being a tank doesn’t prevent you from spot healing, and being a healer doesn’t prevent you from auto-attacking and mixing in some melee skills.
I read a lot of posts from Capts who say they are “buffbots” or “healbots”. Those posts make me cringe, for the same reason that I cringe when minstrels use healing skills without working their ballads/anthems into the mix. If you’re only healbotting (i.e. sitting back and healing), or buffbotting (simply there to buff), you’re not playing the class to it’s potential.
Acronyms / Terms Used in This Guide
AoE: Area of Effect
B/E/P: Block / Evade / Parry (damage avoidance)
BoE: Blade of Elendil (melee attack)
BS: Bullsh…I mean Battle Shout (ranged shout)
Bubble: term for a damage absorption shield, either for oneself (e.g. LS) or on another player (IHW or SotD)
CA: Cutting Attack (melee attack with DoT)
CC: Crowd Control. The ability to mez/root/snare/stun an opponent.
DB: Devastating Blow (gated melee attack)
DoT: Damage over Time
DR: Diminishing Returns. In LOTRO, what this means is that as you stack a given stat, the benefit per stat point decreases. DR also applies to CC and stuns in PVP
DS: Defensive Strike (melee attack)
FND: Fear No Darkness (healing trait)
HoT: Heal over Time
IDoME: In Defense of Middle Earth (legendary trait)
IHW: In Harm’s Way (AOE bubble)
LS: Last Stand (15 or 25 sec self-bubble)
MAS: Mirrored Ancient Steel (crit-crafted item)
MCC: Melee Crit Chance
MS: Motivating Speech (morale buff)
NfW: Now for Wrath (healing trait)
NM: Noble Mark (DoT)
OS: Oathbreaker’s Shame (legendary debuff)
PA: Pressing Attack (melee attack that per B14 is a mini-AOE)
RaC: Rallying Cry (AOE heal)
RoC: Routing Cry (AOE attack)
RM: Revealing Mark (15% damage down returned as self-heal)
SB: Shield Brother (allows SB buffs to be put on the target)
SoM: Strength of Morale (Man racial heal)
SotD: Shield of the Dunedain (legendary single-target bubble)
SoW: Strength of Will (SB healability buff)
TA: To Arms (SB damage buff)
TCC: Tactical Crit Chance
TCM: Tactical Crit Multiplier
TM: Telling Mark (adds fixed damage to attacks on target)
TS: Threatening Shout (non-damage ranged static threat skill)
WoC: Words of Courage (single-target heal)