Welcome to the Month of the Minstrel! It’s the Minstrel’s turn in the spotlight, as we reach the latest part of our continued updates and additions to all of the classes in LOTRO. To identify the aspects of the Minstrel class we should focus on, we referenced player feedback, data collection, and our own experiences, and decided on the high-level goals of increasing a Minstrel’s ability to play solo, diversifying a Minstrel’s buffing/support role, examining and improving healing, and adding some fun treats for our players. These goals were addressed by adding new skills, modifying existing skills and traits, and by adding new items to the game.
Minstrels have always been most effective while supporting other players, but haven’t been at the top of their game when playing alone. We gave them some abilities that will let them solo better.
- New Skill: War-Speech - This skill is the first in the new "Words of War" skill category. It is a toggled stance that powers up both "Piercing Cry" and "Chant of the Oathbreaker", but decreases a Minstrel’s ability to heal. In addition, it limits usage of two other powerful skills. The overall intention of this skill is to give the ability to defeat monsters faster to those players who are comfortable with the amount of damage they are taking. While in Fellowships, most Minstrels will want to keep this power toggled off, but if there are multiple healers available, the Minstrel may wish to begin chanting words of war!
- New Skill: Call to the Elder King - Gated behind War-Speech, this call to the chief of the Valar will damage your foes and make them more susceptible to further attacks.
- New Skill: Call to the Second Age - Gated behind War-Speech, this call to ages past will greatly damage your foes and increase the movement rate of your Fellowship.
- New Skill: Chant of the Oathbreaker - This skill calls upon the spectral weapon of an Oathbreaker to harry a foe. It will deal damage and decrease the foe’s resistance to Songs and Cries. While in War-Speech, the damage and resistance debuff will increase. This skill is intended to be a new hallmark of a Minstrel. Using it in solo play will increase the speed at which you can defeat foes and make more of your Ballads connect. In group play, your tanking allies will appreciate the resistance debuff, which will make their taunts fail less frequently.
- New Items: Damage-type Instruments – New instruments have been added to crafting and reputation which will change Chant of the Oathbreaker’s damage type.
The buffs of a Minstrel are strong and varied already. We wanted to provide more options without turning the Minstrel into a primary buffer, so the new skills added tend to have longer cooldowns and very potent effects. This way, while the skills are strong, they cannot be used often.
- Trait: Strength of Voice - This trait now increases the duration of all ballad buffs.
- Skill Revamp: Song of Aid - The combat events that this skill triggers now only show up on a class if it benefits that class. No longer will Guardians gain critical events, nor will Burglars gain block events.
- Skill Revamp: Tale of Heroism - This skill was made into a proper aura toggle skill, and is joined by two new aura skills, only one of which may be used at a time. A power upkeep cost was added to the Tales to emphasize that the Minstrel, while a strong buffer, must work more than other classes to maintain such effects.
- New Skill: Tale of Battle - A new aura in the Tale family, this increases Vitality and Wound Resistance.
- New Skill: Tale of Warding - A new addition to the Tale family, this aura increases Armour and Hope.
- New Skill: Call to the Fellowship - A shout to your whole Fellowship that increases the effectiveness of your next Fellowship Manoeuvre.
- New Skill: Call to Greatness - A word of power that bestows a class-specific buff on a target. Each class gains 15 seconds of benefit in a way that helps them. For example, a Call to Champions gives an immediate defeat event (to activate skills like Red Haze) and two Fervor pips. For the next 15 seconds, a point of Fervor will be granted every 5 seconds.
Minstrels are, without a doubt, the kings of healing in LOTRO. We’re very happy with the amount of morale a Minstrel can restore and the amount of time it takes them to restore it. No new heal-over-time skills will be added, since the Captain is more focused on morale-over-time, and the Minstrel up-front heals. We also feel that the power cost of that restoration is too low at higher levels.
- Skill Revamp: Healing skills – We’ve increased the cost of healing skills at higher levels. No change has been made to lower-level players, but at a high level, the costs increase.
- New Skill: Chord of Salvation - The Minstrel now has an instant cast heal! Chord of Salvation heals more than Raise the Spirit but less than Bolster Courage. However, the price for being an instant cast skill is higher power usage, and a 30-second cooldown.
- New Skill: Gift of the Hammerhand - Minstrels can now put a shield on an ally, similar to their own Lay of the Hammerhand. This skill makes incoming damage reduce Power instead of Morale. The shield is instant cast, so combined with Chord of Salvation, a Minstrel can very quickly save a fellow who is about to fall.
It's fun stuff, and it’s full of surprises! We’ve also made the following non-combat additions:
- New Skill: Irresistible Melody – Playing a melody of such beauty, a Minstrel can now inspire those nearby to break into dancing.
- New Instruments: Bagpipe, Cowbell and Moor Cowbell - Minstrels can now play the bagpipe, cowbell (because too much cowbell is never enough) and the Moor Cowbell. All players will be able to learn the Cowbell, but the Bagpipe and the Moor variety of Cowbell will be Minstrel exclusives. Until they use the next skill that is...
- New Skill System: Mentor system – A Minstrel will now be able to teach other players how to play any of the Minstrel-specific instruments. Yes, you read that right: now anyone can be taught how to play any instrument in the game! Once a Minstrel has acquired the ability to teach an instrument (keep in mind, this will require more work then just going to a trainer), they’ll be able to teach it to any other player, but with a very long cooldown. All Mentor skills share the same cooldown, so once you’ve taught someone an instrument, you won’t be able to do so again for five days.
Well, these are the big things you will likely notice in Month of the Minstrel. There are more changes, but none as big as those described above. We think this will make an already fun and functional class even more interesting!