What's a Minstrel?
Minstrels are known for their exceptional healing abilities, but are also capable of dealing respectable damage. Their core combat plays out via special Ballads, which is a system introduced with 2011's Rise of Isengard expansion.
All playable Free People races may choose the Minstrel as their class.
In LOTRO, each class has its own set of skills. When these skills are used in a sequence (e.g Skill A, then B, followed by C) it's called a skill rotation. The bread and butter of all Minstrel skill rotations are Ballads, Anthems, and Codas. However, Compositions also play an important role in Minstrel skills.
That's a lot of information all at once, so let's break it down to something more bite-sized.
It helps to think of Minstrel Compositions as combat stances; only one Composition can be active at any given moment. When a Composition skill is toggled "on," it has an effect on various Minstrel skills. There are three Composition types:
Melody is the default Composition for Minstrels. When no other Composition is active, a Minstrel defaults to Melody. It specializes in healing, self-buffing and group support.
War-speech is for Minstrels who desire to play more offensively. As expected, it excels greatly in damage dealing, damage buffing and self-preservation. This particular Composition is great for solo play.
Harmony is considered the most difficult Composition to master, as it focuses on self and group buffs, resource management and group healing.
There are three Minstrel Ballads: Minor, Major and Perfect. When a Minstrel uses a Ballad, it applies a set of minor buffs to themselves (when using War-speech) and sometimes others (when using Melody or Harmony).
Only three buffs can be in effect at once, however it can be any combination of the three Ballad buffs. Additionally, when three Ballad buffs have been reached and a new one is played, the oldest of the three is replaced by the newest Ballad buff.
Many of the strongest Minstrel buffs are applied through Anthems. Before using any Anthem, a Minstrel must use three Ballads. As an exception to this rule, Cry of the Chorus is a powerful Minstrel skill, able to instantly add three Ballads to a Minstrel's line-up, resulting in immediate Anthem and Coda availability. Use it wisely!
A Coda is the Minstrel's "Cash Out" ability, and will change depending on which Composition is activate.
The Harmony Composition is coupled with Coda of Resonance
War-speech transforms the skill into Coda of Fury.
A Minstrel must have three active Ballad buffs to use a Coda, and the resulting use will reset all Ballads and Anthems. It all sounds complicated in text, but in practice using Ballads, modifying them with an Anthem and then exploding foes with a Coda is exquisitely simple.
In fact, here's a handy visual guide to ease the learning process:
Echoes of Battle / Timeless Echoes of Battle
A great opening skill, Echoes of Battle becomes even better once a Minstrel can enact their War-speech Composition. This is best used as an opening skill because Echoes of Battle (and its War-speech enhanced cousin, Timeless Echoes of Battle) reduces an enemy's resistance to many other Minstrel skills, such as Ballads and Piercing Cry, in addition to causing damage-over-time
When coupled with War-speech, Piercing Cry becomes an incredibly powerful damage skill for the Minstrel. While Piercing Cry has a cooldown timer, it should be used as frequently as possible, as the skill isn't of a "save for emergency" variety.
Call of Orome
This skill can only be used while using War-speech. Like Timeless Echoes of Battle, it's a great opening volley, but also works well when accidentally grabbing an extra enemy during a fight because of its Area-of-Effect nature.
Be aware that Call of Orome can and will hit foes near the intended target.
When possible, use higher-level Virtues, but in an ideal world the following Virtues are great for most situations:
Empathy – Extra Armour, Fate and Resistance Rating is good mojo for any Minstrel.
Honesty – Additional Armour and Fate stacks well with Empathy, plus extra Power makes it easier to use skills more frequently.
Idealism – More Fate and Resistance Rating here, but also extra Will, which raise the damage of many Minstrel skills.
Loyalty – Extra Vitality, Power and Armour value make for increased survivability and less dead Minstrels.
Innocence – Add to survivability with increased Physical Mitigation, Resistance Rating and Tactical Mitigation.
Class Trait Lines
Each class has three available "Trait Lines" that allow them to specialize in a particular style of play. These Class Traits aren't immediately available; they require certain Deeds or Quests to be fulfilled.
In this segment, we'll give a basic breakdown of each Minstrel Class Trait line along with a table detailing the name, description, minimum level required and Deed/Quest requirement.
Minstrels at lower levels will find The Warrior-skald line as their best choice for solo play, given its synergy with War-speech. However, depending on fellowship makeup, a Minstrel may also want to take advantage of this Trait Line's ability to utilize either burst or sustained DPS.
Bonuses when equipping The Warrior-skald Traits are as follows:
+1% Tactical Damage Bonus to Minor Ballad Buffs
-[Level x 20] Target Resist Rating (Ballads)
-30s Cooldown of Cry of the Valar
-30s Cooldown of Cry of the Wizards
+25% War-speech Ballad Damage
+2% Tactical Damage Bonus to Minor Ballad Buffs
+10% increase to Coda of Fury damage
Anthem of War persists throughout combat in War-speech or until a Coda is used
|Discordant Melody||+5% Critical chance for Ballads||1||Use Ballads or Codas 1,500 times (500/day)|
|Powerful Voice||Reduces the Resistance chance of the targets of your Calls and Cries||2||Use your Cries 300 times (100/day)|
|Herald's Hammer||Your Herald's Strike deals double damage.||1||Smite enemies with Herald's Strike 700 times (240/day)|
|Unrelenting||When you land a Critical Hit with your Piercing Cry, your enemy is stunned. Piercing Cry also gains 30% to its critical chance.||10||Land critical hits with Piercing Cry 100 times (20/day)|
|Light in the Dark||
Ballads and Codas inflict more damage to your enemies.
+10% to Ballad and Coda Damage
+1% bonus to Ballad damage buff
|10||Use Minor Ballad 1,000 times (150/day)|
|Armour of Song||
All sources of armour are increased by 20%.
+20% additional contribution from all Armour Sources
|15||Complete the class quest A Song for the Company|
|Improved Echoes of Battle||
This trait incrases the damage of Echoes of Battle (as well as Timeless Echoes of Battle)
+10% Echoes of Battle Damage
|20||Use Echoes of Battle 250 times|
Increases maximum morale
Additionally, when you use any of your War-speech Calls there is a 10% chance that you will temporarily unlock Raise the Spirit, Chord of Salvation or the improved versions of these skills, to be used on any friendly target.
|20||Use healing skills 2,000 times.|
Watcher of Resolve
Minstrels who desire to become one of the most potent healers in LOTRO will want to invest in unlocking the Watcher of Resolve Trait line, which features a blend of powerful and efficient healing options.
Bonuses when equipping Watcher of Resolve Traits are as follows:
+5% Outgoing Healing Effect Modifier
+10% Chord of Salvation Healing
+1% Outgoing Healing Bonus to Major Ballad Buffs
Anthem of Compassion now persists through Combat or until a Coda is used
+10% Outgoing Healing Effect Modifier
+2% Outgoing Healing Bonus to Major Ballad Buffs
Increases critical chance on healing skills and improves healing bonus from ballads.
+10% chance to score Critical Heals
+1% to Healing Bonus from All Ballad Buff
|10||Use your Healing and Motivation skills 1,000 times (150/day)|
Increases the critical magnitude of all your healing skills
+25% healing from Critical Heals
|26||Use Cry of the Chorus 125 times|
Your induction skills execute quicker, making you harder to disrupt.
-10% Induction time for all Skills
|10||Evade enemy attacks 300 times|
Enlivening Grace and Rally! grant more morale and power on revive. Inductions are reduced by 2 seconds and Rally's recovery time is reduced by 5 minutes.
+20% Revive Morale Total
+30% Revive Power Total
|20||Use Enlivening Grace or Improved Enlivening Grace 100 times (15/day)|
|Subtle Movements||Bolster Courage can no longer be interrupted by damage.||28||Use Song of Soothing 300 times (45/day)|
|Improved Song of Soothing||
Song of Soothing no longer has an induction time and can be used at greater range.
Removes Induction time
|50||Use Song of Soothing 350 times|
|Improved Raise the Spirit||
This trait improves Raise the Spirit by eliminating the Cooldown of the skill as well as decreasing its induction time and increasing the magnitude of its healing.
-1.5s Cooldown time
-50% Induction time
+10% Increase to healing
|40||Use any version of Raise the Spirit 500 times (50/day)|
|Power of Song||
When you use any healing skill there's a small chance your War-Speech calls are temporarily unlocked for a single use with no power cost. (Note: This benefit is not applicable while in War-Speech). This trait also increases your power.
+[Level Dependent] Maximum Power
+10% chance to unlock War-Speech calls on heal
|50||Use your healing skills 1,000 times (150/day)|
The Protector of Song
Something of an all-around Trait Set, The Protector of Song is for the Minstrel interested in providing some damage, buffs and group healing.
Bonuses when equipping The Protector of Song Traits are as follows:
-20s Call to Greatness Cooldown
-5s to Anthem Cooldowns
-1% Power Reduction Bonus to Perfect Ballad Buffs
Anthem of the Third Age - Harmony now persists through combat or until a Coda is used
-5s to Anthem Cooldowns
+5s to Anthem Durations
-2% Power Reduction Bonus from Perfect Ballad Buffs
|Glorious Anthem||+5 seconds Anthem Duration.||30||Completing the class quest A Minstrel's Hope|
|Absolute Pitch||-1% reduction in Power cost by all Ballad buffs||30||
Use Anthem of War 500 times (50/day)
*Labeled Strength of Voice in the Deed Log
|Heralded Saviour||+25% healing to Noble Cause enhanced Herald's Strikes||30||Use Song of Aid 400 times|
Anthem cooldowns reduced by 5 seconds
5% decrease to Ballad costs
|2||Use Piercing Cry 600 times (200/day)|
|Flow of Harmony||
Reduces the cost of Anthems.
-10% Anthem Power Costs
|40||Recite any tale 150 times (16/day)|
When using Anthem of Prowess armour and evade ratings of your fellowship are improved.
+[Level dependent] to Evade
+[Level dependent] to Armour
|40||Use Cry of the Valar 250 times (38/day)|
|Lyrics of Bravery||
Increases your Resistances and Tactical Defence.
+[Level Dependent] to Resistances
+[Level Dependant] to Tactical Defence
|50||Use Anthem of Composure 1,000 times (100/day)|
This trait enables the minstrel to heal himself a small amount of power when he uses his normal, non-Noble Cause Herald's Strike.
Minor Self Power Restore on hit
+10% Incoming Healing on hit
Use Herald's Strike 250 times
Labeled Improved Herald's Strike in the Deed Log
Vitality increases your maximum Morale (Health), Out-of-Combat Morale Regeneration and Resistances to Wound, Disease and Poison effects. It also reduces incoming damage from non-weapon sources like Fire, Frost, Lightning, Acid and Shadow.
Will increases your maximum Power pool (Energy), Out-of-Combat Power Regeneration and how much you resist Fear effects, including cowering from Dread, a nasty effect of dying in combat and/or encountering powerful enemies. It also contributes to increases in Outgoing Healing Rating and Tactical Offence Rating, making offensive and healing Skills more potent.
Fate increases In-Combat Power Regeneration and In-Combat Morale Regeneration, allowing you to stay in battles longer. It also increases the chance and magnitude of Critical hits on Tactical skills (healing and damage spells).
Many a newbie Minstrel will find success in using War-speech, focusing on unlocking The Warrior-skald traits and prioritizing the above equipment. As you reach the higher levels (30s and beyond) there are many "In Case of Emergency" and utility skills to learn how to use as well, but no matter the level, Ballads, Anthems and Codas are the core of playing a Minstrel.