The Road to Mordor: Shopping for your skirmish soldier

Justin Olivetti
J. Olivetti|05.21.10

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The Road to Mordor: Shopping for your skirmish soldier

Every Friday, The Road to Mordor brings you the latest in Lord of the Rings Online news, guides and analysis.

Breaking up, as the song goes, is hard to do -- but sometimes very, very necessary. I'll admit that I have recently settled into a bit of a skirmish funk, firing up a session here and there merely for the XP and the privilege of filling my bags with 576 different types of marks (seriously, Turbine, couldn't we switch from this confusing British-like currency to something more streamlined, like the Euro?). When I couldn't find a partner for a skirmish, the sessions seemed like a drag, and even though I dutifully stabbed my way through them, I grew to resent their length and my death-prone Herbalist soldier.

It wasn't until the other day that a friend challenged my choice of soldier, and in so doing, freed me up for a more enjoyable skirmish experience. "Why are you sticking with the Herbalist?" he asked. I shrugged -- I thought that's what you picked when you were DPS-y and lacked a lot of self-heals. After doing a bit of research on the forums, I made the switch from the decaf healbot to 100% caffeinated Archer goodness, and I couldn't be happier. Pew pew, stab stab, win win.

The choice of a soldier companion for skirmishes may be the tipping point between a painful slog and a joyful battle, as it was in my case. If you're still trying to figure out which soldier might work best with your class, then hit the jump and see what other players recommend you try.
Burglar: The decision here seems to ride on whether you want to be more offensive (particularly for soloing lower tiers) or defensive (for tougher challenges). The Archer-Burglar duo is widely seen as ideal, as the Archer's stinging DPS helps to burn down enemies quickly, and the AI generally doesn't target CC'd mobs. For more of a middle-of-the-road solution, the Bannerguard (especially with Banner of Precision equipped) offers a little of everything: DPS, tanking, buffing and heals. Protectors are a fine choice as well, grabbing aggro and giving the Burg a chance for a bit of positional damage. You may also want an Herbalist if you're dying too quickly, or if you enjoy seeing her "heal tank" while you stab bad guys in the back.

Captain: Since you're playing a hybrid class, any soldier selections can be seen as filling in for your current build's weakness, although in most all cases, additional DPS is welcome for Cappys. The Sage is an excellent pick, with a nice combination of damage and crowd control. Archers and Warriors add that extra DPS, but you may want to consider a Bannerguard. At first glance, a Bannerguard may seem redundant, but he can buff in place of your herald or standard, letting you pull out a pet of your choice (such as the archer pet).

Champion: The choice here is one between an all-out assault (equip an Archer or Warrior, charge into the fray yelling "WHEEEE!") or the option to live to see the end of the scenario. In the latter case, an Herbalist or Bannerguard will help to keep you ticking as you plow through mobs, and you won't be trying your patience while doing so. It's largely up to your playstyle and preference, so -- like most other recommendations on this list -- there is no "right" or "wrong" decision here. Except the Protector. The Protector is wrong.

Guardian: You can't fail with the tried-and-true tank/healer combo, so if you want to feel completely invincible at the cost of time, then go with an Herbalist. Again, a Bannerguard would be a good jack-of-all-trades pick (particularly for buffs and heals), while a Sage can CC mobs you're not tanking and add a nice bit of "oomph" to your DPS on the one you're devoting your time to smashing into bits.

Hunter: Two attractive choices loom above the rest, so consider wisely. The first is the Sage, who helps by locking down mobs while you focus fire on others, all the while transforming your duo into a damage powerhouse. The second is the Herbalist, as you lack heals and burn through power like mad. Either will treat you well.

Lore-master: There's a lot of ways to go with a Lore-master, as your playstyle matters more than with other duos. A Protector is an obvious choice, considering how squishy you are; however, Protectors take a bit of work to get them up to the point where they're more of an asset than liability. Some LMs like to have a Sage to double their CC/DPS abilities; some appreciate the non-CC breaking Archer; and some find that a wildly-swinging Warrior helps to cut down the opposition quickly.

Minstrel: Minstrels know that they're tougher than they look, so it's generally wise to avoid thinking that they need the crutch of a tank protector in skirmishes. Instead, Minstrels should think about large-scale destruction, which can be accomplished with one of two soldiers. Herbalists can provide the healing and power renewal to empower the Minstrel's "nuke them from orbit" strikes, while a Warrior's AoE damage paired with Minstrels' AoE equals a lot of dead mobs, very quickly.

Rune-keeper: Pick a soldier, any soldier. Okay, not Archers, but anything else. Fine, you're set. Really. RKs work great with just about anything: Herbalists (RKs can nuke hard and not have to worry), Protectors (keeps the mobs off of you), Bannerguards (tank and buff to overcome your weaknesses), Sages (massive DPS), Warriors (ditto).

An Herbalist is tempting, particularly as a power battery, but it might be better to play to your strengths. Wardens are excellent at rounding up mobs and keeping their attention, which make great targets for both Archers and Sages. What, you goblins are dead already? Oh, terribly sorry, chaps.

Agree? Disagree? Do you recommend a particular combo? Let us know in the comments!

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