I've been playing my Cappy since 2008, and she's weathered a long break from the game, a server transfer, and 85 levels of me literally throwing her to the wolves. In all of that, she has not once let me down. She's so terrific, in fact, that it makes alting in this game a nightmare for me, since none of the other classes feel as good in comparison.
Yes, I love the Captain and I am unashamed to announce that. As I've done with the Minstrel and the Lore-master, I will back up my appreciation of this class with a few reasons why they rock so very, very hard.
In my mind, a good hybrid class doesn't just offer you the ability to shift between parts of the holy trinity. A well-designed hybrid class is adjustable on more of a fine scale in terms of what you like to play. This is what the Captain is. Yes, it can tank, it can heal, and it can DPS, but there is a huge amount of variety between builds and roles. Depending on what weapon you have equipped, what trait line you've pursued, what skills you use, what legacies you have slotted, what standards/heralds you have out, and what gear you have on, you can adjust the Captain to fit the playstyle that fits you -- or the situation -- the best.
Yes, there are better classes when it comes to more focused play, but having the option to heal (as a tank) or step in as an off-tank, or combat rez a friend, or just go all-out with a two-hander has kept my interest high when other classes start to taste stale.
2. They have a pet
I love pets, and if you exclude the Rune-keeper's rocks from this category, then the Captain is only one of two pet classes in the game. Unlike the Lore-master's DPS menagerie, the Captain's heralds are more interested in buffing first and DPSing much, much later. Still, I think they're great and I resist using standards because of just how much I like having a herald around.
Not only are the buffs useful, but having a loyal lackey reinforces the class concept. I am a Captain of Men. People follow me. Well, a virtual guy follows me. It kind of makes me feel like King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with Patsy trotting alongside of him.
The devs gave us a pure-DPS pet, the archer, a while back, and that's what I primarily use (Oathbreaker Archer because I like throwing my ghost at the other ghosts). Again, options!
3. They are insanely group-friendly
Everyone loves Captains in a group. I'm not gorging on a feast of hubris here, it really seems to be the case. Captains are made for grouping like no other class in this game, mostly because they can slide into that wide variety of roles that we discussed earlier. On top of that, the group-wide buffs and healing are always welcome, and being able to shield-brother a healer or the main tank goes a long way to helping out. Plus, if being a sacrificial hero is your thing, then the Captain's ability to absorb a portion of all of the group's damage for a time should be right up your alley. Don't forget to trigger your temporary invincibility, however; that heavy armor will only go so far!
I haven't spent a lot of time tanking as a Captain, but there have been a few times that I've needed to assume that role. The heavy armor plus shield and other life-saving abilities puts the Captain tank right up there with the Guardian, Champion, and Warden, especially if traited right. Even without such traits, I find that the Captain is practically indestructible in all but the most lopsided combat situations. It's certainly made soloing a stress-free endeavor.
5. ...And their healing ain't bad, either
Everyone turns to the Minstrel or Rune-keeper for their go-to healing, usually forgetting that the Captain has a dedicated first aid trait line: Hands of Healing. I do not know a lot of Captains who have used this, either as a main or back-up healer, but I can imagine that such a build would be probably the most group-friendly once you factor in the buffs. In any case, I like knowing that I can toss off a heal or two if a battle is going poorly and not worry about the Orc smacking ineffectively against my armor.
6. They get great weapon variety
I'll be up-front with the drawbacks of this class, because they're no secret. The Captain is restricted to a single race (Man), has very little long-range damage potential, and is pretty straight-forward and somewhat bland as a fighter. I have about six skills I use in every battle, and just about all of them make me look like a bear taking huge swipes instead of a graceful warrior doing a dance of death. Gets the job done, though.
Anyway, the reason I mention the drawbacks is that I see the combat variety coming from the sheer amount of weapon choices available to the class. Captains can use shields and one-handers like daggers, axes, clubs, hammers, maces, and swords. Captains can also go two-handed with spears, swords, clubs, axes, and hammers. Finally, Captains are the only class in the game that can use halberds, a threat-producing two-hander. This puts us at 12 weapon picks, second only to the Guardian's 13. I've had a lot of fun switching up weapons to keep the fights feeling fresh, although nothing really beats a two-handed sword for the iconic Captain look.
Anyway, the Captain might not be the most complex of LotRO's classes, but it's just a joy to play and grow with through the levels. If you play one, why not add your own thoughts in the comments!
When not enjoying second breakfast and a pint of ale, Justin "Syp" Olivetti jaws about hobbits in his Lord of the Rings Online column, The Road to Mordor. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.