Class Guides

Warden Class Guide (U19.3)

Click here to go to the previous page – Gambits Part 5

Specializations/Trait Trees/Trait Lines/Class Traits

Assuming you’ve gone over most of the rest of the guide, by now you are actually probably pretty familiar with the Warden specs. When you get level 6 a new trait panel unlocks for your character. This panel contains three types of traits: virtue, racial, and class. In this part of the guide, we will cover class traits. Later on, we will go over our virtues and racial traits. Even though racial traits are race-based, we can still cover how some aspects apply to Wardens specifically. Anyway, when you go to the class traits in the trait panel, you will see 3 different parts. Each “part” is actually a trait tree. This is often called many different things…

  • Tree
  • Line
  • Spec

They all mean the same thing. They are a path you choose for your traits to focus on a certain role. When you choose one, you will get some immediate bonuses as well as future bonuses. The leftmost side will contain future bonuses. When you get class trait points (we will go over how shortly), you can use them within the trees:

  • The traits within the line you specced into cost 1 class trait point
  • The traits that are not in the line you specced into cost 2 class trait points
    • If I go into the middle one, the traits in left and right ones will cost 2 points each
  • There are no other increased (or decreased costs) for your trait points

Some traits have multiple ranks (2-6, usually). Each successive use will usually increase the effect, and may sometimes add a new effect. Each time you use a trait point in a certain line, it will be counted towards the total traits acquired in that line (2 ranks in one trait counts as 2 traits for this). When you get 5 traits total in a single line, you will unlock the next row of traits. In addition to this, every 5 trait points you spend in the line associated with the one you specced into, you will gain an addition bonus trait for “free”. These bonus traits have varying effects, usually boosting effectiveness for your roll. The final trait here only requires 30 traits. You cannot get these bonus traits in lines you did not spec in to.

Some traits require you have a previous trait to put your points into it. Often times this is when you gain a skill from a trait. Other times, they are just similar or linked somehow. And occasionally they have no apparent connection but are still linked like this. Another thing with these is you usually have to allocate a certain amount of points in the previous trait before the new one unlocks. It depends on the specific trait, but can be anything 1 or above. A Warden specific example is the trait “Defiant Challenge” (located in the blue/left most line). Once you get that trait, a new one unlocks next to it that adds an effect, and further ranks increase the new effect. The newly unlocked trait would have been locked until you put a point in Defiant Challenge.

So, now we know how class traiting works… Let’s look at the Warden specific traits trees. There will be an in-game image of the trait panel followed by a fancy table with some additional details…

Left Most – Blue

“Spec One”


Middle – Red

“Spec Two”


Right Most – Yellow

“Spec Three”


Tank Melee DPS Ranged DPS/Support
A trait line that focuses on boosting defenses and healing. It is able survive against multiple enemies. The in-game description is very inaccurate… A trait line that focuses on powerful bleeds and light damage over time A trait line that focuses on ranged combat and can support fellows by debuffing enemies with some damage enhancing buffs.
Good for solo survivability and ease of soloing content. All around solid. Otherwise good for tanking! Good for solo questing where content is not too hard. Good for speed and generally solid. Otherwise good for DPS! Good for a change of pace from typical Warden playstyles and ranged classes. Good for soloing old and/or easy content. Solid when you aren’t often hit in melee or can kite. Otherwise good for ranged DPS and decent for support!
We look for traits that will boost defenses, healing, aggro. We look for traits that will increase our melee damage. We look for traits that will increase our ranged damage or increase our support effectiveness.
Additional damage traits may be considered. Additional defensive traits may be considered. Addition melee damage/defensive traits may be considered

The Best Trait Tree

This depends entirely on the situation! There is no clear cut best tree for the Warden. However, some are much better/worse at certain things:

  • Blue – Best for tanking
    • only one for tanking
  • Red – Best for damage
    • Better than yellow’s ranged damage
  • Yellow – Best for ranged damage and support
    • Worse total damage than red’s melee damage

Now we know which tree is best for what, we will go over what each tree is best at next…

Red Line – Best at dealing damage via DoTs. Uses a mix of bleeds and Light damage. Has strong single target damage and stronger AoE damage.

Blue Line – Best at tanking. Uses a mix of defensive and offensive skills to stay actives. Has very (very) strong self-healing and stronger AoE self-healing. These are obtained via HoTs and Morale Taps. Also uses Light damage like the red line.

Yellow Line – Best at instantaneous damage (from range!). Unlike red line, they yellow line, focuses on single large javelin hits with their skills and getting high crits. Similarly, they use Light damage when possible by coating javelin with Light Oil.

By now we have a solid idea of what each spec does and their general uses… Let’s see how they compare to other classes specs:

Warden’s Blue Line Warden’s Red Line Warden’s Yellow Line
Guardian Blue, Captain Yellow, Champion Blue, Beorning Blue, are all three similar in that they are tank. None are very similar, Warden tanking is too unique! Blue Beorning is closest, though. Guardian Red is the closest, but still not too similar. Warden’s style of ST and AoE Light DoTs and ST Bleeds is unique. Red Guardian focuses on bleeds. Yellow Rune Keeper is similar. It is like the Warden Yellow line with more crits and fairly non-existent support. The RK is more bursty, though, with more “slow” parts compared to Yellow Warden.
Hunter Blue is also somewhat similar, but less so than the RK. This one can shoot while moving and focuses on crits as well. Otherwise not that close.

No lines will be truly similar to a Warden because in addition to just being different, they don’t have a gambit system, or even a similar system.

We need one more comparison to go through… Are the Warden specs even viable? Or… Did I write this guide for a bad class that no one wants to play?

Blue Line/Tank:

Viable! Worse than heavy armour classes (Guardian, occasionally Captain. Champion is mostly a weak tank) in certain situations where you absolutely need higher mitigations. Otherwise usually stronger (sometimes just as strong). Wardens are the best tanks in AoE situations and in self-sustainability (power and morale!).

Red Line/DPS

Viable! Worse at ST damage than a Fire/Red Rune Keeper, but competitive for #2. Similarly, in most AoE situations competitive for at least #2 in DPS, while sometimes being the best AoE DPS class in the game. As we have covered before, this depends on the situation. So, let’s go ahead and cover where each is generally better:

  • Warden>Champion – Small target amount (1-6)(especially so 3-)
  • Warden~Champion – Medium target amount (4-6)
  • Champion>Warden – Large target amount (4+)(especially so 6+)
  • Warden>Champion – Long fights
  • Champion>Warden – Short fights

What champions do in a couple seconds we do in DoTs over ~20 seconds. But, they have to wait for CDs while we can apply more DoTs. But, then we have to wait to refresh more DoTs or end up using a filler. They also have to build fervour.

Yellow Line/Ranged DPS and Support

Not quite as viable! We are outperformed quite frequently in both of these… But both at once? Yeah, other classes still do it better…

Ranged Damage:

  • Rune Keeper>Warden
  • Hunter>Warden
  • Lore Master>Warden*
  • Minstrel~Warden (Warden>Minstrel)*
  • Warden>Beorning, Champion, and Guardian (by far)
    • Do not worry, those are ranged classes. They have bows and and a ranged skill and all… Right?

I am not 100% sure if Lore Masters do more damage than ranged Warden, but am confident so. I am also confident, but less-so that ranged Warden does more DPS than red Minstrel. They are more burst-oriented with down-time while we are mostly up-time with less burst.

Support (ignoring straight healing, but not ignoring support healing):

  • Captain>Warden (by far)
  • LM>Warden (not as far)
  • Minstrel>Warden
  • Warden>~Beorning
    • That does not focus on heals
  • Warden>~Guardian
  • Warden~Burglar*
  • Warden>Hunter
    • If you consider yellow Hunter to be support!
  • Warden>Non-support classes
    • Like Champion…

* I am not 100% sure what Burglar support is like now. I think it is possible theirs is stronger, but most burglars I have seen do not support fellows but mostly themselves. I will level my burglar soon and see (maybe).

As you can see we support better than classes without support. We also ranged damage better than the classes with 1 ranged weapon skill. But in seriousness, we are not at the bottom of either list. We just aren’t at or near the top. We do have 1 more list to get through, though!

Support and Damage

  • Captain>Warden
  • Minstrel>~Warden
    • We do more damage, they do more support
  • Burglar>~<Warden
    • I do not know, but think Burgs do more damage than us when DPS spec, unsure how well their support holds up when damaging

Two Ranged Wardens vs One Ranged DPS and One Support

This one is hard… But a Fire RK and Blue/Red Captain will probably outperform two ranged Wardens in both support and damage. Similarly, a yellow Minstrel and same Captain will do that.

Final Verdict

This is not our most viable spec. However, it is viable enough to be looked at seriously (yellow Hunter, some burg specs (I think), etc. aren’t). It is just overshadowed by our much stronger melee DPS and tanking ability. Unless your fellows know you are good with the spec and you are actually good with it, it will mostly be looked down upon. (That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, still, and doesn’t mean it is really bad)

Quick Review

Now we know a lot about Warden specs. Let’s review each line!

  • Blue Line/Tank – A viable, strong spec. Solid all around for solo and group content.
  • Red Line/DPS – A viable, strong spec. Solid for solo (quicker than blue) and group content
  • Yellow Line/Ranged DPS and Support – A not quite optimal but barely making to be nearly viable, decent spec. Solid for soloing old content (newer if your gear is better) and very unique playstyle.

Now, we are ready to get into builds. But we must cover some more basics on traiting, first.

The fun part… The part where we get to build our character! Now, you can really do whatever you want. You can choose the red line and put all your points in yellow for some reason. You can put your points in bad and useless traits. You can spec blue for aggro, ignore defense traits and only put in red and yellow. It is really up to you how you build your character’s traits. But, of course, I will give some sample builds and give my thoughts on traits…

First, we need to know how tree numbering works. Line 1 starts, and goes down to line 6()???. Each line has a number of traits, read from left to right. You can denote your build simply by numbers now! For example (likely unrealistic example):





That means in the first row I have 5 points in each trait. In the second row, I have 2 in the left most, 3 in the middle, and 0 in the right most. In the next, there are only 2 traits and I have 1 point in the left one and 6 in the right. The last row I’m on, I have 0 points in the left two and 1 point in the right one. Using this method makes it a lot more simple and easy to cover, just like Gambits!

And one more thing before we get into builds… Class trait points:

  • How many do we get?
  • How do we get them?

Both: We can get up to 82 total points (as of U18, I have not checked if there is an updated total). (Me, being an altoholic and lazy Warden has an amazing 63!). Here’s how we get them:

  • 1 every odd level (7-105)
    • 50 total
  • 8 from class deeds
  • 3 from the Moria books
  • 9 from quests in West Rohan and Central Gondor
  • 5 from Book quests
  • 2 from other deeds
  • 2 from epic battles
  • 2 from class quests
  • 1 from a book from Moria rep place
    • Iron Garrison Guards
    • Requires Kindred

In general, we can expect about 61 on average unless you go out of your way to farm more… Or, unlike me, quest in West Rohan and Central Gondor. But, we’ll usually assume 61 is a good place to start. Now we can get into some example builds!


Melee DPS – “Reckless Red”

Red Line:







10 (I have not seen a shield spike in game. Possibly ever, but I do think I have and just don’t remember it. Otherwise, we could consider 11)

Blue Line:

45 (We don’t like any of these, but we need ’em)



If we continued to 83, we would do:

Blue Line:

(4th row) 010

Red Line:

(1st row) 55 (was 05)

(3rd row) 355 (was 350)

at 73 used points, 10 remaining…

Blue Line:

(4th row) 110 (was 010)

8 remaining… Not much to use on at this point, I may go (due to occasional, but rare, cases of stance swapping):

Yellow Line:


There is our first build!

Range DPS/Support – “Yes, We Have Range Spec”









Red Line:




If we continued to 83, we would do:

Yellow Line:

(4th row) 351 (was 251)

5th – 13 (10)

6th – 03 (00)

Red Line:

(1st row) 55 (was 05)

Yellow Line:

(2nd row) 55 (was 05)

There is our second DPS build! It also contained a few support traits that could be dropped for some more damage (Red Line 4th row):


Is where we would want to end up for more damage. Just drop the support traits in yellow!

Tank – “What is Death?”

Blue Line:








Red Line:



If we continued to 83, we would do:

Red Line:

(3rd row) 055

1st – 15 (was 05)

Blue Line:

(1st row) 55 (was 45)

Quick build for tank! Later ones just maximize damage more. We assume here you want defense>damage, first.


“But… I am leveling and do not have all these points, yet!”

Well, fortunately, you can follow the previous builds and do just fine. They builds are made in the order you want to put traits in, so you can follow the paths while leveling. With leveling, and soloing tough content on level, you will want more survivability, so I recommend going the tanking build (even if you aren’t “tanking” anything for anybody else). There are also times when stuff is really easy and you just want it to go fast, I’d go red line. If stuff is really easy, as in near one-shot easy, I’d recommend yellow line for the ranged aspect and mobility. We will cover more in the leveling portion of this guide.

For more information and detailed information on leveling, please check out the leveling part of this guide.


That is it on speccing as a Warden! We now know some different builds and options we have for different scenarios. The next part will help fill gaps left by this with going specifically over the roles that Wardens can perform!


  1. DPS
  2. Tank
  3. Support

This part will go over more general details on the roles Wardens can perform. A lot of this information applies to any class that performs these roles! Although, there will be some Warden specifics…


DPS, damage-per-second, aka DD, damage dealer is a role that focuses on… Dealing damage!

This role has these things going for it:

  • Kill the enemies
  • Deal as much damage as you can
  • Focus target
    • Getting a specific enemy/group of enemies down fast (adds, etc.)
  • (don’t die)

As you can see, a DPS focuses on maximizing damage output.

It is important in PVE to do fight mechanics, as well.

Warden DPS

Warden melee DPS is strongest in AoE fights, but still strong in ST. You want to be hitting multiple mobs whenever possible with your gambits. We are also best in long-term fights as many of our strongest skills have over time effects.

We do not provide much else as a melee DPS spec.

To be a good melee DPS Warden, you want to:

  • Do the fight mechanics
    • avoid bad mechanics
    • go into good mechanics
    • etc.
  • Optimally follow your skill priority (covered in the next part!)
  • Focus on AoE when possible
  • Attack highest health mob
    • This allows you to provide more total damage for your fellows

Warden ranged DPS is not the strongest, but not really horrible. You are best in ST fights, especially ones that require ranged and mobile DPS. Short-medium fights are best for us, since we can quickly burst down enemies and sometimes just one-shot lower morale ones.

Generally, this is less optimal than melee DPS.

To be a good ranged DPS Warden, you want to:

  • Do the fight mechanics
    • avoid bad mechanics
    • go into good mechanics
    • etc.
  • Optimally follow your skill priority (covered in the next part!)
  • Focus on (single) priority targets
  • Attack low health mobs when burst is not open right now
    • “Seize the Moment” is not up (covered later)
  • Attack medium-high health mobs when burst is open


Tanking isn’t as simple as DPS… What is similar:

  • Do fight mechanics
  • Focus target when possible

Everything else is reactionary. Tanking in general is reactionary. Tanking is also situational. To sum up tanking

  • Requires you to pay attention
  • Requires you to be able to know how to react to what
  • Requires you to know how to handle different situations
  • Requires you to be able to lead fights

lot of requirements…

Fortunately, tanking is not as hard as this has made it sound. Aggro, and other tanking mechanics are relatively easy.

Tank Mechanics:

  • Aggro
    • Almost synonymous with threat
  • Defense
    • Skill/stuff that focuses on your defenses
  • CDs
    • Cooldowns that greatly increase morale/lower damage you take or similar large effect
  • Healing
    • The ability to self-sustain from damage without external healing
  • Mob mechanics
    • Familiarity with mobs and fights you are in

If you are comfortable dealing with these, you will be fine tanking.

  • Aggro – a lot of aggro/threat management is automatic now. When you deal damage you generate much larger threat than non-tank fellows. You also have force taunts to transfer all threat to you and force enemies to attack you.
  • Defense – you have skills that will bolster your defenses so you can survive better. This allows healers to focus on others taking damage, until you take too much damage. These skills are naturally used.
  • CDs – just takes knowledge of when to use them. Usually when you expect a lot of damage or are about to die! (Class dependent)
  • Healing – this is a very strong mechanic for tanks. Fortunately it is one of the Warden’s strongest parts for tanking. If you can heal well, you won’t need as much healing and frees up healer power and ability to heal other fellows.
  • Mob mechanics – just takes general knowledge of the game mechanics and specific encounters. For example, you will want to know how silences affect you. You also probably want to know if you need to face the boss away or towards everybody else in the fellowship.
Warden Tanking

Warden tanks are by far best at taking on multiple mobs and self-sustaining. We get stronger the more mobs you throw at us! Well, until a certain point, maybe by 50 it will get a bit harder. We are also great against single bosses alone since we can out-heal a lot of damage they do. There is one main downside to warden tanking:

Our mitigation cap is 50% because we have medium armour, other tanks’ cap is 60% (Guardian and Captain…. and if they do exist, Champion tanks).

This simply means we take more base damage that we have no way of avoiding, that other tanks can avoid.

We also have the weakest CDs. At least, compared to Guardian’s and Captain’s CDs.

We have the strongest heals.

We also have the highest tanking damage.

Our aggro is not as strong as Guardians, it comparable to Captains with a couple upsides and downsides:

Warden Aggro:

  • Only one force taunt
    • bad
    • allows for little reaction besides more damage if we lose aggro
    • but it is a strong force taunt
      • good
  • Many strong AoEs
    • good
  • Strong ST damage too
    • good
To Summarize Warden Tanking
  • Strongest Healing
  • Strongest DPS
  • Worst Force Taunts
  • Worst CDs
  • Good General Aggro
  • Take A Little Bit More Damage


Yes, Wardens can support. Let’s cover what supporting is first…

A support class/spec provides buffs and debuffs that benefit the fellowship in some way. These buffs or debuffs can:

  • Boost fellows defense/damage
  • Heal
  • Harm enemies
  • Increase enemy damage taken
  • Decrease enemy damage dealt
  • Somehow make enemies easier to kill
  • Crowd Control

The Captain and Lore-master are two “classic” support class examples. LM is mainly supportive with the yellow line, while Captain’s strongest support line is Blue (even though it is an off-healing spec).

Support classes often focus on making healers, tanks, and DPSs jobs easier. They can sit there cheering their allies on while mocking the enemies (increase ally damage, decrease enemy damage), for example. A Minstrel can also go yellow line and do some damage, buffing, and healing and that generates a support role.

Usually support do do some damage! Any Captain spec does damage and all have support. Yellow LM and some burglar specs are the same way.

Healing specs aren’t considered support since they are dedicated to healing. Blue Captain may be an exception since it can dedicated heal, but does so in a very support play-style with some DPS mixed in and a whole lot of buffs and some debuffs.

What About Warden?

Like I said, Wardens can support.

Let’s face it though, our support is pretty weak compared to other classes’ support specs. We only have one line that can support and it focuses more on damage. We have only a couple skills that truly support that are worthwhile using. Other skills’ support is too weak or just not useful.

So as a Warden support, we got this:

  • Weak support
  • Mainly reduce mitigation
    • Good

Reduce Mitigation – As a yellow warden, this is our strongest supportive effect. It comes from 2 Javelin skills that reduce a mitgation type. This is a very strong effect… But… It is inconsistent! And relatively weak compared to overall support provided by other specs

So, to take away:

Warden support isn’t good and Wardens shouldn’t fill the role of support. Support is just a nice bonus gained from being ranged spec!


That is it on our roles. We are now ready to go over rotations to fill these roles!

If you would like to support Dadi’s LOTRO Guides, or maybe just buy him a beer, click the donate button below 🙂

Click here to go to the next page – Rotation


Here is a bit about me: I started LOTRO near the end of Siege of Mirkwood and shortly before F2P came into existence. I started a YouTube channel for LOTRO, which back then often had miscellaneous videos involving my Warden. Eventually my channel strayed away from mainly Warden as it grew. Currently I am enjoying end-game content on my characters while leveling some others. My main “LOTRO presence” (not in-game) is on YouTube. I am also active on the LOTRO subreddit (and soon to be an author here!).

15 thoughts on “Warden Class Guide (U19.3)

  • Flagron

    Awesome stuff I am going to camp on it a while. Thanks for posting


  • Flagron

    Noob question When you say the Javelin skills  (hampering target et al) “Generally this skill is not used.”  do you mean at all, or just for the buff or debuff, I find marked target has a longer cool time I use them

    • If you are not playing as yellow line, it is only used on pull (while running up to mob/boss), when you have to be ranged for some reason (like a ground effect in melee range will kill you, or something similar), or when you want to target a ranged mob.

      So in general combat (again, not in yellow line), it is generally not used. Those cases are pretty rare, most commonly I use it will running up to a mob/boss.

  • thorongil

    Thanks for a great guide!

    Please clarify what are the top virtue traits for a warden.  You start by saying that Honour and Innocence are ideal, while Zeal and Fidelity are great.

    But then you say:

    So, the final virtues are…


  • thorongil

    Thinking more about virtue traits I have another question for you:

    If General Virtue Priority is listed as:
    1    Resistance
    2    Mitigations
    3    Main Stat
    4    Vitality
    5    Max Morale
    6    Secondary Stat

    Why is Fidelity classified as ‘great’ – having     +76 vitality (4th on list)
    +56 power (Not on list)
    +1539 TMi (2nd on list)
    while Tolerance is entirely skipped – having    +1539 TMi (2nd on list)
    +114 agility (3rd on list)
    +107 ICMR (not on list)
    They have equal TMi, and forgetting not so important power and ICMR, I’d have thought that +114 agility beats +76 vitality?

    Just trying to understand how this works.

    • Sorry for the confusion, I have fixed that part and made it correct. Here is what the list was meant to be:


      Agility is definitely better than vitality in this context.

  • Netheriel

    I know this is not relevant to the Warden Class, but I just saw all these beautiful guides and I’m really impressed.

    I’m searching for a complete guide for the Captain but I struggle to find a complete one: on Youtube there are only very old videos, on the official forum only few post very contraddictory and not well reviewed. On Reddit I found some info, but scattered and not complete.

    In the future, can I hope for a Captain guide amazing like these one? 😀

    Thanks so much!

    • Dadislotroguides

      I intend to have guides for every class. I have a lower level Captain, so I am not qualified to write a guide on them. I am still searching for the right person to author it.

    • I have some experience with the Captain (not enough to write a guide at the moment), but if you need help anything specific, I may be able to help.

  • I appreciate greatly this website and the guides you provide. My Warden 105 is my “main alt” and so I need guidance from others how best to gear. Follow up -> why +agility crafted relics rather than the more popular +agility +physical mastery +critical?

    • The Agility crafted relics are only if you are not able to get the better ones.

      Sealed Westemnet Device of Accuracy if you can craft it.
      If you can’t, Sealed Westemnet Device of Agility

      • tearsofwrath

        Hello there,


        first i want to say: amazing guide. i have been gone quite a while and this guide eased my way back into the game. the warden IS a complicated class afterall.


        i wonder wether you will update this guide with the Mordor Expansion one day? The additional levels, new relics and such and gear. would be great!


        Keep up the good work!

        • Dadislotroguides

          We will definitely look to get it (and the other class guides) updated to reflect the changes in Mordor.

  • You mentioned, I’m not sure where, that we want to use our longest gambits ASAP.  Also, your USE priorities reinforce this, for example:





    ….but it would seem that the class is designed to go the other way in chains, or are you saying that the chain-buffs aren’t worth chasing in most cases?

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