[The Welcoming Committee is a category of posts created in the spirit of Meavar’s New Player Relations initiative.]
In this series of posts, we’ll look at each of the classes available in LOTRO, from the standpoint of a new player. We’ll be focusing on each class’s strengths and weaknesses, and the type of player each might attract. We’ll also try to tie that classes in with general LOTRO lore, to see what makes them a special part of the story environment.
Please note that these notes are taken from my own experience playing each of the classes. I’m not a min/maxer, and don’t spend much time calculating damage, bonuses, etc. I play these classes for the unique experience each one offers in terms of solo and group play. More in-depth discussions can be found in the LOTRO Class Forums.
We start with the Burglar.
What Defines the Burglar Class?
New players to LOTRO often think that the Burglar class is the equivalent of Rogue classes in other games. However, while Burglars in LOTRO are indeed sneaky and make their best attacks from the shadows, they’re not the DPS monsters that, say, Rogues in World of Warcraft are.
The LOTRO Burglar is best thought of in relation to the character of Bilbo Baggins in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Bilbo was recruited to help Thorin and his Dwarves reclaim the Lonely Mountain and its treasures from Smaug, and there are numerous references of him as “a Burglar” (though he’s quite inept in the beginning!). However, although Bilbo did have to resort to violence at times (against the spiders in Mirkwood, for example), he usually preferred to find other, more diplomatic ways around dilemmas. Remember that he “defeated” Gollum by winning a riddle competition, and chose not to kill him in the end (a choice that would at first be criticized by Frodo in The Lord of the Rings). Likewise, he used his wits to steal from Smaug’s treasure horde.
Thus, in LOTRO the Burglar can best be described as a Crowd-Control/Debuff class. The Burglar’s most powerful abilities involve moving unseen, mesmerizing enemies through the use of the Riddle skill (which only works on humanoid mobs), and weakening them through a series of “Tricks” that lower armor, reduce speed, etc. This doesn’t mean that the Burglar can’t deal a respectable amount of damage; but damage often relies on being able to strike from stealth or by flanking an enemy, and is thus more dependent on specific achieving specific conditions. Players interested in dealing large amounts of head-on damage might want to look at the Hunter, Champion, and Warden classes instead.
The Class Traits available to Burglars are divided into the following branches:
- The Gambler. Generally focuses on making your debuffs (Tricks and removal thereof) more powerful.
- The Quiet Knife. Generally focuses on making better use of stealth movement and attacks.
- The Mischief Maker. Generally focuses on meeting enemies “in the light” and improving crowd control abilities like Riddle.
In terms of armor and equipment, Burglars can wear Medium Armor (not right away, but after a few levels), and dual wield various weapons. Hobbits receive a racial damage bonus fro using clubs (which also have the advantage of sometimes stunning your opponent), and Men/Women receive a bonus to sword use.
What LOTRO Races Can Play a Burglar?
The Burglar class is restricted to players who create Hobbit or Human characters. The class is not available to Elves or Dwarves for (probably) lore reasons. While Elves are naturally stealthy, they would probably not want to partake in the thievery and mischief associated with Burglars! And from what we know about Dwarves, we can imagine that they would prefer to meet their enemies head-on.
Burglar Play: Solo and Group Strengths and Weaknesses
In my experience, while Burglars make good solo characters (I’ve leveled mine mainly through solo play), they’re much more fun as part of a group.
For solo play, Burglars have the advantage of being able to sneak by mobs and to reach certain quest objectives (for example, retrieving an object, scouting a location, or defeating a specific enemy). Of course, this means that they don’t receive the XP from defeating all the mobs on the way to that objective, but on the other hand they can move on to the next quest more quickly, and in LOTRO quest completion gives more experience than defeating mobs.
One disadvantage that I’ve found in solo play is that the poor Burglar can easily be overwhelmed when there are more than 2 mobs to handle at the same time. If those mobs are humanoid, Riddle is a definite advantage. But against, say, a group of Wargs, things can get dangerous! This is where tools such as Marbles and Caltrops come in handy, but even then it can be a tough fight because Burglars can’t take enemies down as quickly as the highest DPS classes.
Groups are much more fun. Burglars are great for scouting ahead, and with a good tank it’s easy to attack from behind and thus deal more damage. Also, Burglars can initiate Conjunctions for their parties, which makes them a valuable addition to any fellowship.
Burglars are a great option for players looking for a challenging class that has solid roots in Middle-earth lore. Remember that for solo play the Burglar needs to choose battles wisely, and that sometimes the best solution is to sneak by! While Bilbo would never have dared charge Smaug head-on, he did manage to steal some treasure and eventually draw the dragon out of hiding! When grouped Burglars make a great support class: Riddling, scouting, initiating conjunctions, and striking from the shadows while enemies are distracted by the tank’s shiny armor!