The Hunter in LOTRO is a strong ranged class with excellent survival skills. Their ability to stealth, mez, fear, lay traps, evade and parry can make them invincible where some of the lighter classes have difficulty. They have unmatched travel and tracking skills and an out of combat run speed bonus making them the perfect buddy to level up with.
I’ve played hunter now as my main for eight or nine years. A class guide for a hunter seems a bit odd as there really isn’t much to it. Then it occurred to me that this is THE class to choose if you are a casual player who wants to raid. I’ve written this guide with the casual player in mind. I will focus on the red (and a smattering of blue) line hunters as in a raid a hunter’s number one job is doing as much damage as possible. I know many hunters with very strong preferences on how to trait, gear and which trait trees skills to choose. This is a guide based on my preferences developed over years of playing and high level raiding. My kinnies have gone into great discussions over the merits of their different play styles and they are all good. Please take the information here as a guide only and build your own play style.
Bowmaster (Red): Most hunters choose this trait tree simply because it is the highest DPS option. Who doesn’t like killer DPS?! This line is most effective for stationary play or raids that require little running around as you gain buffs while simply standing still. This is the trait tree that most raid leaders will expect their hunters to be in.
Huntsman (Blue): Hunters that are required to be on the move will use this line. You gain a buff while moving this time. Blue hunters kite extremely well and regain power better than their red line peers. This is a good survival mode.
Trapper of Foes (Yellow): The Trapper focuses on bleeds, AoE and traps for crowd control. This trait line suffers tremendously with DPS but has its uses in pvp or for more casual grouping when there is no tank. Some of the traps this player can lay will root 10 targets at once! That’s crowd control enough to rival a Lore Master.
I would recommend spending your trait points into mostly red (skip quick escape and deadly precision if you run in precision stance mostly). Put your remaining points into blue; strong draw, quick draw, impact arrows and quick shot focus. There is definitely more than one way to build a strong hunter so feel free to play around.
Precision: When in Precision stance your focus is easily managed. You gain 1 focus every 5 seconds just by being in Precision. You get a good finesse bonus and when you first use the skill you gain a nice crit multiplier. This is a good stance to run in for sustained action.
Strength: Strength stance is THE DPS stance. Practice toggling between Precision and Strength to gain the benefits of both bonuses while in a battle. It has a HUGE crit bonus and when just toggled on it has a HUGE damage bonus for 10 seconds. Since switching between stances takes only 100 power each time, feel free to toggle between these two stances regularly mid battle.
Endurance: This is the stance for survival. If you find you got in over your head and need a breather, throw yourself in Endurance stance. You gain a big parry and evade bonus and will use less power. Endurance stance is not recommended for every day play.
Focus is life force of a hunter. Without focus, you can’t use any of your better skills. Before every fight get used to filling up your focus bar with Improved Focus. If you hover over your skills you will either use focus or gain focus . Working your rotation out to have your focus bar filling as quickly as you empty it will give you better sustained DPS.
A hunter has some pretty cool skills that can benefit the whole fellow. They are often underappreciated but you know what you did ;).
Passage of Foes: This will allow you to track orcs and their ilk. Some goblins are invisible and often only a hunter can spot them (ex Tarlangs Crown area).
Shadow tracking is less useful as you can see those guys from a mile away.
Passage of Nature: This bad boy will make you the belle of any freep ball. A hunter that can scout wargs (creeps or invisible mobs in raids) is aces. Get used to popping this one as often as possible in a freep group.
A bright campfire gives anyone standing around an increase to out of combat regeneration. Power and morale will restore much more quickly.
Hunters are able to remove poisons from their whole fellow at once using Purge Poison . It also gives a very strong poison resist for 15 seconds. If there are two hunters in the group work together to see who will be on poison duty so you don’t double up on the work.
Find the Path gives your whole fellow an out of combat run buff. When you are in a boss fight it’s a good idea to turn this off as it will block out your buddies in combat speed skills or other run buffs that are more appropriate for in combat.
Cry of the Hunter will crowd control in an AoE fashion. If you see your mini getting in trouble, use this skill to mez everything around them. Hopefully the mobs will come to you after they recover. A dead hunter is much preferred over a dead mini.
Pinning shot is an underwhelming root.
Bards arrow is a great fear for breaking a mob off your mini.
Trap skills are meh in a raid setting. Use it if you are bored and want to push a button otherwise skip it.
Is your first line corruption removal. Learning to recognize corruptions on every boss is essential in some raids. If you see buffs with a blue outline directly under the boss’s portrait, it’s time to remove corruptions. Use it with care and only approach a boss from behind. You will gain a better ranged corruption removal skill when the boss is < 50 % with ; Merciful shot. This is a big gun for DPS as well so use it as often as possible.
Blindside is your interrupt. Again it is a mele skill, so approach with caution from behind a mob. Use interrupts appropriately and your tank and mini will adore you. They may not know it was you, but they’ll love someone anyways.
Playing the long game:
Hunters are a self sufficient toon. They can refill their power efficiently and replace morale well enough to let the tanks get the heals instead. Get to know your survival skills.
Press Onward if properly legacied on your weapon and traited in your class traits (red tree) will give you a huge heal and power boost in combat. This is an essential skill and should be used liberally in a long fight.
Strength of the Earth is a power replacement skill. You will find this far down in the blue trait tree so likely its not one you will use.
Beneath Notice is a nice skill to have if you find you are drawing too much attention. This is a great one to use if you peel a mob off your mini and run to the tank to grab. Call out that you are bringing friends and then hit Beneath Notice.
Intent Concentration refills your focus. If you find none of your big guns or rain of arrows aren’t opening up when you want them, use this skill to refill your focus bar and unlock the goodies. Also carry a stack of Focus pots for a quick focus refill and a really great devastate magnitude bonus.
Crafted Hunter Buffs:
Bow Chants (choose one or choose them all; one is enough though):
Shield Bane reduces your opponents ability to block your shots.
Foe Finder gives a reduced evade modifier.
Breach-Finder (my personal favorite) gives a nice damage mit modifier.
Light oils are excellent for boss fights. Landing a crit with light oil can blind a boss and make it miss more frequently (they say anyway).
Fire oils are more popular as they deal damage over time. If there is more than one hunter in a group, work together to choose which oils to use as the effects don’t stack.
As always carry your dispel pots (wound, poison, disease, fear) that are + 5 levels over your current level. I strongly recommend using a plug in called Buff Bars. This program literally puts the appropriate pot right in your face so you just need to click when it comes up.
Level appropriate scrolls and Tokens because the one guy who always pops scrolls and tokens needs a break.
Make sure you’ve got your oils on, bow chants, food (stat, regen etc), scrolls, and token.
Count to 5 once the tank runs in.
Go nuts with your favorite rotation.
Keep an eye on your mini and take care of anything that is hitting them (unless you are the Target Assist then stay on target)
When choosing your rotation you must always be aware of which skills will use your focus and which will add focus. If you toggle between Precision and Strength stance it will also affect your focus. My tried and true favorite rotation is
Then I cycle Penetrating and quick shot over and over with the occasional other skill; especially Merciful Shot.
Use your corruption removal skills when necessary, they have a long cool down so don’t plan to spam it.
Keep your interrupt handy. It’s tough for a hunter to interrupt as they have to be 2.5 m from the boss and that’s just not a place to hang out. Try to throw out a corruption removal at the same time as an interrupt before fleeing to a more appropriate distance.
You might ask about Heart Seeker. Unless you have an armour buff that makes it instant cast, Heart Seeker induction is just too darn long to make it exciting.
Manage your power by taking pots as soon as you are low enough to make it worthwhile, use Press Onward and power pots. Hunter skills are notorious power suckers so keeping a healthy power bar takes practice. I’ve seen some hunters come blasting out of the gate to run out of power 1/3 of the way into the boss fight. Planning to play with as high DPS as you can manage while still maintaining power is so important.
Note: I have not listed my legacy choices on purpose. Since there is no one size fits all LI, I believe everyone should make it work for their play style.
As always comments and suggestions are most welcome.
If you have enjoyed the information here, please consider buying me a coffee 😉