With Elborigorn's permission and my occasional prodding him for advice, I have decided to give his classic guide to the captain class a much needed update. I hope you will be able to benefit from our combined experience of more than one year played time between our captains. What follows is a combination of our opinions and advice on how to effectively play the class.
What does a captain do, anyway?
This question is frequently asked by people who have either never played a captain, or are just getting into the class and have not yet done a lot of grouping. At first glance, the role of a captain is confusing. We have some healing skills, some tanking skills, some damaging skills and a whole bunch of buffing skills. But what does that make our role in a group? In my opinion, this is what makes captains shine. In most cases, we are not going to have one of the more obvious group roles (healer, tank, DPS), but we're somewhat behind the scenes making everyone else able to do their job better and more efficiently.
If you've read the previous version of this guide, you may recall that the captain's role in a group was described as that of a “Battle Manager”. This is essentially what a captain does. While you may not be leading the group, you should at least be managing in a more passive manner. This is done by keeping a close eye on your fellowship and on the target(s) your fellowship is fighting. Keep an eye on your enemies, making sure that you have a Mark on the fellowship's main target (usually either [skill]Telling Mark[/skill] to increase incoming damage, or [skill]Revealing Mark[/skill] to reflect heals back to your group as they do damage).
Watch your fellowship to make sure that each member has a buff on them appropriate to their role or style of play. You also want to be watching the morale numbers of your group. If one member is in danger and it doesn't look like the healer is going to get to heal them in time (or if it is the healer that is in danger) be sure to use [skill]Words of Courage[/skill] to give them a little more time. If you're at the level where you have [skill]In Harm's Way[/skill], be sure to use that when things get really ugly to redirect 50% of the damage coming in to your group to yourself. Many captains think that they can only use In Harm's Way when [skill]Last Stand[/skill] is in use, but there is a very valid reason why they are on separate, very different cooldowns. Unless the captain already has low morale or the damage incoming to the group is ridiculously huge, it is quite possible for a captain to survive use of this skill even without Last Stand. Don't be afraid to use it to save a healer or to prevent a tank from being one-shotted if you know a big hit is coming.
Pay attention to the flow of the battle and the strengths and weaknesses of your fellowship and react accordingly. Use your skills to heal the group, to buff them so that they can do more damage, to debuff the mobs so they take more damage, to protect your fellows, to generate some power for your fellowship so they're not running on empty, and so on. You need to be very focused on what is going on around you and make sure that you are using the appropriate skills at just the right moment. Your timing can make or break a fight for your fellowship. Keep in mind that you are there to support the group, so don't get so caught up in doing any one thing to the point that you neglect keeping an eye on the big picture.
Of course, there are times where a captain is going to be more specialized in their group role. For many 3- or 6-man instances, captains make excellent main-healers. Captains can also focus on certain trait-lines to take on the role of tank or DPS. In these situations, support may take a more secondary role, but don't forget that you can still buff and heal while you DPS or tank. In fact, there is no reason not to keep buffs up on your group at all times. A group that has a captain but does not have buffs is a group that is wasting space. Don't be a waste of space; buff your companions.
Above all, remember that no matter what their role at the time, captains are at their best when they SUPPORT the group!
Concerning Heralds, Archers, and Standards (oh my!):
You will want to use one of these “pet” options at all times. Different situations will mean it varies as to which is the most useful, so here are some of the pros and cons of each to help you in making your decision.
- Heralds can off tank.
- Heralds have a chance to stun with use of the skill Coordinated Attack. (This skill is called Coordinated Strike if you are using using Herald of War.)
- Heralds offer a small heal for the captain. (Herald of Hope has a larger heal; Herald of Victory heals both power and morale)
- Heralds move with you, easily keeping their buff on your fellowship.
- Heralds can aggro unwanted mobs.
- Heralds can die (In the case of herald death, you should immediately place a banner to maintain the group buff.)
- Heralds do not offer much in the way of DPS unless you slot the class traits Loyalty and Precise Ally.
- Archers can tank a bit. (Especially with the use of their Evasion skill which gives them 100% evade for 15 seconds, 50% for the 15 seconds after that, and is on a 1 minute cooldown.)
- Archer DPS does well to make up the difference in your own damage vs the loss of physical mastery from not having a banner equipped. (If you are solo and have the Master of War legendary slotted along with Blade Brother on your archer, this will MORE than compensate for the DPS lost due to lower physical mastery.)
- It's ranged damage! (Something captains don't really have naturally.)
- Archers (especially when not traited down the Lead the Charge line) don't have very much morale and without some care will die pretty fast once Evasion drops off.
- Archers carry no group buff and prevent the use of standards and heralds. This fact makes the archer a pet that is only ideal in solo or in very special cases (such as three or more captains in a group or a situation where more ranged DPS is needed).
- Archers may pull unwanted mobs. Given the increased range of the Archer, use of the pet Aggressive stance is only recommended with extreme caution.
- Standards have a larger group buff than heralds. (Assuming your banner is the same level as you, which at end-game/level-capped play, it should be.)
- Standards provide increased stats to the captain when equipped. (All standards provide increased morale and physical mastery along with additional buffs related to the banner type. Hope = higher morale increase; Victory = power; War/PvMP = +5% Melee Damage)
- Standards can't die*
- Standards can't off-tank.
- Standards de-spawn after a while. (approximately 5 minutes)
- Standards don't move with you, so if your fellowship is on the move, you'll need to keep replanting your banner to keep the group buff up.
*There are rare cases where standards can die. (Such as in phase three of the Draigoch's Lair fight.) This is generally a bug since standards don't have morale and have no way of pulling aggro. If your standard dies, you should probably /bug it.*
Standard vs. Herald/Archer:
While leveling (solo):
In this situation, a Herald (or later on, Archer) is absolutely the way to go. The off-tanking provided by the herald and survivability of the pet added down the road by the Shield-Brother Inspire heal make for an invaluable leveling too. It does take some time getting used to using a herald, learning how to control it and use with enough caution to not often pull more than you want to. The net gains from standards are comparably low, especially since you will out-level them frequently for the lower levels and the herald buffs will increase in level as you do. For the later levels, you may find that using an up to date standard is more effective for your playstyle (for my most recently leveled captain, I used a banner almost exclusively for levels 70-75). Ultimately, it's about whatever works best for you, but in my experience, the herald or archer offers more versatility and survivability during leveling.
While leveling (fellowship):
If you're running instances as you level, use whatever is going to give the biggest group buffs at your level. Unless you have an on-level banner, you're probably going to get a bigger buff from having a herald, but remember to keep close tabs on your pet! While your herald pulling an extra mob or two solo can be a pain, in a group that sort of thing can be cause for a wipe. You may be better off just setting your pet to passive and basically using it as a mobile buff-bot. While this may mean that your DPS contribution to the group and your self buffs suffer from not having a banner equipped, this is where you have to remember that a captain is a support class. What is best for the group may not always work out best for you, but in the long run, the gains to the fellowship as a whole will make up for that.
Since an archer does not provide a group buff, very rarely will it be a good idea to bring one along for group content.*
*If you happen to be in a group with 3 other captains, by all means, use an archer. At that point you've already got every banner buff in use, so more DPS is the way to go.*
At level cap:
For nearly all group situations, you will want to use a standard. The buff to the fellowship and the increased stats to the captain are invaluable. For solo it's certainly fun to use a beefed up Oathbreaker Archer or Herald by slotting Master of War, Loyalty and Precise Ally. The combination of additional DPS from the pet and the ability to get the benefits of Blade Brother skills on both captain and pet beats soloing with a banner by far.
Choosing which banner to use and when:
Generally speaking, which banner you use doesn't matter. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out. No single banner offers such a huge advantage that it is THE banner to use for a given situation. It's generally going to be up to how you, as the captain, want to play. Although, if your group leader has a preference for which banner to use, humor them. All of these banners offer decent group buffs, so even having the “wrong” banner for a situation is better than nothing.
This banner provides an increase to the group's morale and gives additional in-combat morale regen. When traited at level 75 an extra 843 morale may not seem like much, but there are times where that small morale cushion is the difference between a fellowship member being one-shot or surviving to tell the tale.*
If you're fairly confident that being one-shot isn't an issue, then you may get more benefit from this banner. Increased power and in-combat power regen is definitely a good thing. Everyone in the group needs power to do their job, and the longer the fight is, the more you need to look to power management. That being said, captains have several other ways to manage their group's power regeneration, so the addition of this banner may not be necessary.
With the removal of stat caps, War banner is more useful than it had been. Up to 90 more might and agility can be very handy in DPS race boss fights. Still, it's arguably even more situational in its usefulness than the other banners and should only be used when you know that morale and power are not as big of an issue as getting as much DPS as fast as possible.
This banner is only available to captains who have achieved rank 8 in PvMP. It has the same buffs to the captain as the banner of War, but the group buff provides a bonus to Physical and Tactical Mitigation for the group. This sounds very handy for raiding, but then again, most raiding tanks are going to be capped on mitigations from their stats and use of defensive scrolls and non-tanks are probably not that far off from their (generally lower) mitigation caps as well.
When it comes down to it, the choice of banner may be more based on what trait-line you're wanting to use and whether you need or want an extra banner-related trait in that line so you can slot the corresponding legendary capstone trait.
*Of course, one could argue that perhaps said fellowship member should focus on getting more morale for their character rather than relying on the captain's banner as a crutch, but that's a discussion for another time...*
Buff me, baby! On the selection of Tactics buffs for your group:
On Guard (Parry Rating)
This is the go-to buff for anyone in the role of tank. Any extra big of avoidance you can provide means less damage taken and therefore, less heals needing to be given later. Use this buff for any tanking Guardian, Warden, Champion*, or Captain.
Relentless Attack (Critical Rating)
This buff is helpful for EVERYONE. Increased crit chance means more damage for DPS classes, more heals from healers and more defeat responses for yourself.
Use this buff on anyone who is not currently tanking.
Focus (In-Combat Power Regen)
This buff is rarely used anymore. Changes to wardens have made them less power-hungry; the removal of stat caps has given casters much bigger power pools, and any group with a captain in it already has a leg-up in regards to power regeneration.**
That being said, there are still times when this buff is useful. For long fights that are exceptionally power-intensive, or situations where you are the only captain in a raid, you may want to consider giving the focus buff to Lore-masters and healers (especially if they are not in a group with a captain).
*Unless the champ is tanking in Fervour stance, in which case they can't parry at all and the buff will be useless to them.*
**This post is one I've previously written about captain “power healing” and how to maximize your ability to play generator for your group.**
But they don't want the buff I gave them!
Occasionally, someone will request a different buff than the one you would normally give someone of that class or group role. If this happens, don't argue with them. Chances are they have a good reason for the request and it's best to give them the buff they want.
So what's a “buff stick”?
A “buff stick” is a legendary weapon you use solely for the purpose of buffing your group before swapping back to your “real” weapon that you'll use in combat. I like to have a weapon with Morale from Motivating Speech (major legacy), Tactics: Relentless Attack Critical Rating (minor legacy) and Tactics: On Guard Parry Rating (minor legacy). If you don't have enough points to get these legacies completely ranked up, your priority should be Motivating Speech > Crit > Parry. For Motivating Speech, the level and age of the weapon doesn't matter. For the Tactics buffs (including Focus, which is found on emblems as a major legacy) the level of the item makes the biggest difference in rating, followed by the age of the item. You're not likely to want to use a level 75 First Age weapon as a buff stick, but if you can manage it, a 75 Second Age buff stick is handy to have.
Oh, Brother! On the use of the various “brother” buffs and skills:
*rattles cane and shakes finger at the young whippersnapper captains these days* “Back in my day, we only had Shield-Brother and none of this fancy 'Song-Brother' or 'Blade-Brother' nonsense!” Okay, now that I got that out of my system...
There are three different “Brother” buffs that you can target on one member of your fellowship. Each of these buffs allows you to use the skills Inspire, Strength of Will, and To Arms. The effects of these skills vary based on whether you are using Shield-Brother, Song-Brother, or Blade-Brother. Inspire is a 15s Heal over Time (HoT) and/or Power over Time (PoT) on a 15s cooldown. Strength of Will is a buff that has a 2m duration and cooldown. To Arms is a buff that lasts for 10s (up to 30s with the trait [trait]Tactical Prowess[/trait] and To Arms Duration legacy) and has a 1m cooldown.
If you use the legendary trait Fellowship-Brother the effects from Inspire, SoW and To Arms will extend to your entire fellowship, although at lesser effects to those not directly targeted by the Brother skill. (Inspire will heal the fellowship for about 1/3 of the amount the Brother target receives and the effect of SoW is 4% and To Arms is 10%, regardless of which Brother skill is active.) Also, if you have one of the legendary “capstone” traits slotted (meaning, one of the traits that require you to be using 5 traits in a specific trait-line before you can equip it), you will get the full effects of the Brother buffs associated with that trait-line.
Ah, the good old standby buff of days gone by. I actually still prefer to use this “brother” skill for most raid situations because of the fact that its defensive capabilities are quite strong. If you know your tank is going to be taking a beating, make them your Shield-Brother target. The SB buff itself gives them additional In-Combat Morale Regen and Critical Defence. Your Inspire heal will give them a HoT that is comparable to the HoT from Words of Courage and can be maintained throughout the fight. Strength of Will (when using the legacy for “Strength of Will Healing”) will give your SB an extra 20% incoming healing. Finally, To Arms reduces your Shield Brother's incoming damage by 15%.
If you are using the Leader of Men legendary trait, you will get the full benefits of Shield-Brother along with your SB target. If you are using this trait-line to off-tank, place Shield-Brother on the main tank as usual. If you ARE the main tank, place SB on the main healer to give them a little more protection.
This is an incredibly powerful tool for restoring power to a healer or even your entire group if you have Fellowship-Brother traited. Generally speaking, you will want to temporarily swap to this “brother” skill for recouping some power in a long fight, or use full-time to help you do the job of the main-healer for your fellowship. The Song-Brother buff gives in-Combat Power Regen and -5% healing threat. When using Inspire for Song-Brother, it is a PoT that will make even the most power-hungry fellowship member happy. This version of Strength of Will decreases the power costs of your SB by 10%. Lastly, To Arms increases healing done by your Song-Brother by 25%.
When using the Hands of Healing legendary trait, you will get the full benefits of Song-Brother along with your SB target. If you are using this as a support healer, place Song-Brother on the main healer, although, beware, using this at the beginning of a fight can sometimes be too helpful and may pull unwanted aggro on your healer. Use with extreme caution at the start of a fight. In the case where you are using Song-Brother as the main healer for your group, it doesn't matter a whole lot who you make your SB, but my recommendation would be a warden (to boost their self heals) or Lore-master (SB will effect both their morale and power healing abilities).
So what happens if your tank doesn't really need your help keeping their defences up, and your healer is doing just fine without you and/or that boss needs to die, like, yesterday? Well, that's when you activate Blade-Brother on your favorite DPS nearby and make them just a little more awesome. The Blade-Brother buff itself gives your target increased in-Combat Morale Regen and Critical chance. With this buff active, Inspire becomes both a HoT and a PoT (both of these at around half the amount they would be with either SB version). Strength of Will now reduces your Blade-Brother's attack duration by 5%. And To Arms increases the damage your Blade-Brother does by 25%.
When using the Master of War legendary trait, Blade-Brother will apply to you, as well as to your Brother target. This is especially nice when soloing and using a herald or archer.
Different ways to build your Captain:
With the updates captains received with Rise of Isengard, all three trait sets offer solid ways to build your captain. Hands of Healing is rather obviously the trait set that focuses on healing. Leader of Men has tanking as its major focus, with some other group support options as a lesser focus. Lead the Charge is the way to go if you want to focus on DPS and pets.
Thoughts on Leader of Men:
This is an excellent trait-line if you are wanting to tank or off-tank on your captain. With the use of the Leader of Men legendary trait, you gain the ability to block while wielding a 2-handed weapon, 50% more threat from [skill]Noble Mark[/skill], and [skill]Routing Cry[/skill] (which can be traited to become a force taunt) no longer requires a defeat response.
If you're not wanting to tank, it is still useful to have a couple traits from this set to get the 2-set bonus of Improved Kick (10% chance to start a Fellowship Manoeuvre) and removed cooldown for mark skills. To accomplish this I prefer to use [trait]Tactical Prowess[/trait] for an extra 5s To Arms duration and [trait]Defiance[/trait] to gain an extra 10s for [skill]Last Stand[/skill] and a small heal after it expires.
Thoughts on Hands of Healing:
This trait set gives substantial increases to a captain's healing output and efficiency. The capstone legendary trait for this set grants even further increased healing across the board (a minimum of +10% to each healing skill) and turns [skill]Valiant Strike[/skill] into a powerful group-wide HoT which will actually stack with similar HoTs from other captains.*
This trait-line is very nice in raid situations, and will make you the best friend of any minstrel or healing RK in your group. (It's true, GLFF told me so!) If you're also using Song-Brother while in this trait-line, you're going to make everyone happy due to the amount of power you're passing around. One of the nice things about using this trait-line is that you're not sacrificing any DPS to heal, since VS and Inspire (Shield- and Blade-Brother) are melee heals that mean you don't have to stop beating up on mobs to cast a few heals.
If you are not using the full HoH trait-line, you may want to use two traits from this line just to get the 10% bonus to vocal heals ([skill]Rallying Cry[/skill], [skill]Words of Courage[/skill]) so you can still contribute a decent amount of heals to the group. In this case, I highly recommend using [trait]Now for Wrath[/trait] for the power return on Rallying Cry and the second HoH trait really depends on the situation. [trait] Relentless Optimism[/trait] is good for the increase to all of your critical heals; [trait]Strength from Within[/trait] is great for soloing since it makes [skill]Muster Courage[/skill] a self-heal (and no longer bars you from summoning a herald or archer!), or [trait]Blood of Númenor[/trait]** if you're going to be in a group situation where a fast, reliable rez is needed.
*However, if you manage to get the cooldown short enough using the Draigoch set bonus and enough skirmish and player pets, it will not stack its effect from the same captain.*
**This used to be a legendary trait called “Defy Corruption”. I highly recommend use of this trait now, as it makes it so your Cry of Vengeance rez is actually worth using for more than just the group buff. Please, please do not use un-tratied CoV in a situation where people are dying from AoE damage. You're just going to end up getting them killed again. Also, your fellow healers hate to be rezzed with little-to-no power.**
Thoughts on Lead the Charge:
This trait-line includes substantial increases to damage from both self and from pets. The Master of War legendary capstone trait adds 50% more damage to [skill]Shadow's Lament[/skill] (a high damage, single target melee attack that also deals added threat, has the highest non-crit damage of any captain attack and with the capstone makes the captain “battle ready” on use) as well as boosts to pet offence and defence and the ability to use the [item]Armaments of the Oath-bound[/item] (ghost herald/archer!).
This trait-line is another winner. Added damage to most of the hard hitting melee skills captains have, melee skill cost reduction, better pet damage and survivability... it's the ultimate grinding/speed soloing build. Not to mention the 5% critical chance bonus that gives you the ability to cap out at 30% critical chance rather than the normal cap of 25%.
If you're going to be using only two traits from this line, consider using [trait]Expert Attacks[/trait] for increased critical chance on [skill]Devastating Blow[/skill] and [skill]Pressing Attack[/skill] (more defeat responses, whee!) and [trait]Renewed Voice[/trait] for more chances to use Devastating Blow and Pressing Attack.
Suggested DPS Skill Rotation:
[skill]Defensive Strike[/skill] > [skill]Battle Shout[/skill] > DS > Devastating Blow or Pressing Attack (DB for single target, PA for AOE) >DS > [skill]Blade of Elendil[/skill] > DS > [skill]Sure Strike[/skill] > DS > [skill]Cutting Attack[/skill] > DS > SS > BS > DS > DB/PA … and so on. I'd also throw Inspire in there as needed, based on what Brother skill you are using. Also, mix in Shadow's Lament as often as possible (which may vary based on legacies and potential armour-based set bonuses). [skill]Improved Sure Strike[/skill] will reduce the active cooldown of Battle Shout, so if it's up, you may want to toss that in there in place of another Defensive Strike.
Note: This skill rotation is just a suggested place to start. The bleed from Cutting Attack is an excellent addition to captain DPS, and should be maintained as much as possible. I'd recommend dropping a few uses of Defensive Strike to keep this bleed active at all times. (The chance of a power restore from DS is nice, but you'll contribute better to the group by increasing your DPS in raid situations especially.)
Thoughts on Legendary Traits:
If you are using 5 traits in any one trait-line, it's generally a good idea to go ahead and slot the corresponding legendary trait for that line.
If you are in a group of more than 2 people, Fellowship-Brother is almost always going to be the best thing to slot.
After that, you've got a few options...
If your group is going to be relatively solid, [skill]Oathbreaker's Shame[/skill] is a good option. That +35% incoming damage on a boss can really help your group push through a rough spot in a fight, or perhaps burn through a boss' self-healing bubble. This is generally my preferred choice for that third legendary trait slot. It may not be absolutely vital to all fights, but it has definite uses in many of them.
If you know that there is one spot where your tank will be taking a massive amount of damage and you absolutely have to keep them alive for that, [skill]Shield of the Dúnedain[/skill] is probably the best choice for that situation. Of course, you have to remember to use it before your tank gets blown up for it to be useful...
If you are going to be in the same fellowship as another captain, now is a good time for one of you to [skill]In Defence of Middle-earth[/skill]. Sure, +75 to every stat for the entire group sounds awesome, it's just not as useful as some other options and, in my opinion, Oathbreaker's especially is more useful.
For mixed trait setups where you're not using a legendary capstone, I'd go with Fellowship-Brother, Oathbreakers and either Shield or IDOME (probably IDOME in this case).
Recommended Mixed Trait Build:
3 Lead the Charge
- [trait]Expert Attacks[/trait]
- [trait]Renewed Voice[/trait]
- [trait]Turn of the Tide[/trait]
Renewed Voice + Expert Attacks give you the most chances at getting a defeat response up as often as possible. Since we all know that defeat responses are what really make captains shine, having them available more often is a huge boon for the entire group. Turn of the Tide makes Routing Cry immensely useful as it is now a short AOE stun.
2 Hands of Healing
- [trait]Now for Wrath[/trait]
- [trait]Relentless Optimism[/trait]
Get the most from your two biggest heals with these traits. The power return from Rallying Cry (especially if you have the legacy to reduce the cooldown) makes an already great heal even better. Relentless Optimism provides a boost to all of your heals by adding 50% healing to your critical heals.
2 Leader of Men
- [trait]Tactical Prowess[/trait]
Add damage done, damage reduction or increased healing (based on the brother skill in use) by making the effect of To Arms last an additional 5 seconds. Combined with the To Arms Duration legacy, you can keep this effect up 30 seconds out of every minute. Defiance is nice for the extra 10s on Last Stand (for a total of 25s) and the small heal you get after it's over. Sure it's not a huge heal, but if your group is getting hit hard and you're using In Harm's Way at the same time, not being at 1 morale when LS is up is nice.*
Trait-line bonuses from this build:
- +15% melee critical multiplier (Yay, more damage!)
- -5% melee skills power cost (Saving power is always good.)
- +10% vocal skills healing (Bonus applies to WoC and RC, the two heals you're improving with this build.)
- No cooldown on mark skills (Very handy to have, especially if you know you'll be changing targets a lot.)
- Improved Kick (This gives you a 10% chance to start Fellowship Manoeuvres when using Kick. Nice to have, and fun to pretend you're a burg in Draigoch!)
This build is a best of all worlds raid support build and if you use it all to the fullest extent, you can make a huge impact in the raid without being a burden (like sucking power and using it for something that isn't worthwhile).
*Of course, longer Last Stand may mean your minstrel is unhappy with you if they decided to feign death at the same time so they can rez after what looks like an inevitable wipe...*
Solo Skirmish Trait Set:
- [trait]Precise Ally[/trait]
- [trait]Renewed Voice[/trait]
- [trait]Expert Attacks[/trait]
- [trait]Turn of the Tide[/trait]
- [trait]Now for Wrath[/trait]
- [trait]Strength from Within[/trait]
- [trait]Master of War[/trait]
- [trait]Oathbreaker's Shame[/trait]
- [trait]In Defence of Middle-earth[/trait]
The DPS in this build is great. You get power back from Rallying Cry with Now for Wrath, you've got an Oathbreaker herald/archer to deal with tanking mobs you're not ready to deal with yet, and Strength from Within gives you a self-heal to manage your own morale a bit better.
Master of War is perfect for solo skirmishes (and for most other solo situations, too). More DPS, and a sturdy pet to help you off-tank some of the masses of enemies you'll encounter in a skirmish makes for a fun fight*. Having use of two pets (your herald or archer, plus the skirmish soldier) makes dealing with multiple mobs very easy, and lets you feel like you're a small-fellowship all by yourself. This build can make it possible to challenge yourself and go for a higher tier skirmish than you would normally do. Tier 3 assault type skirmishes can be a breeze in this build once you have a decently ranked soldier.
*Now that I think about it, it's almost tempting to barter for one of those landscape soldier tokens and take on some trolls in the Limlight Gorge...*
Legacies to look for:
Please bear in mind that legacy choices are largely based on personal opinion. What works for one person will not necessarily fit in with the way another person plays their character. For example, my choice to use Strength of Will healing on my main emblem (rather than swapping emblems to apply the buff as needed) is one that many will disagree with, and that's fine with me. It works for my playstyle, but I don't expect it to be perfect for everyone. The following suggested legacies are ones you may want to consider using, and here are the reasons why I like them:
Telling Mark Damage: More damage for the entire group is always helpful.
Pressing Attack Max Targets: Being able to increase the targets on this skill gives you a greater chance of getting a defeat response and as we all know, that's always good news for a captain. Due to the high cost of this legacy, you won't want to get it completely maxed out. +3 should be plenty, as that will give you a total of 5 targets for this skill.
To Arms Duration: Gain up to 15 seconds longer on this useful buff, regardless of which brother skill you have active.
Kick Cooldown: I tend to favor this if I have 4 or more major legacies on my weapon. Sure, it's not as universally useful as the previously mentioned legacies, this is most helpful if you have the Improved Kick 2-set trait bonus from the Leader of Men line. A 30s interrupt is twice as good as a 1 minute interrupt and with a 10% chance to start a FM, the more often you can kick, the better.
You may also want to consider Melee Skill Power Cost, Pressing Attack Critical Rating and Devastating Blow Critical Rating. PA crit is obviously helpful if you're using PA max targets. If you don't want to use PA, DB crit would probably be a better replacement for that legacy.
As mentioned previously, you'll want to have Morale From Motivating Speech on a buff stick.
Blade of Elendil Damage:Combining the +25% bonus from this legacy with the Adherent of Elendil trait will increase the base damage of BoE by 40%. Considering that this skill already has an increased critical chance, it's hard to pass up the chance for a serious boost to your DPS in this skill.
Defensive Strike Armour Buff: Even if you don't put any points into this legacy, it's handy to have around, especially if you feel you might be tanking.
Cutting Attack Bleed Damage: It's a bleed = good. It's more of a bleed = better!*
For purposes of a buff stick, you'll want Tactics: Relentless Attack Critical Rating and Tactics: On Guard Parry Rating.
*I see you looking at me like that. Did you notice how long this post is getting? That's right, just be glad we're almost done here.*
Rallying Cry Cooldown: This is the single most important emblem legacy regardless of how you plan on playing your captain. Reducing the cooldown of this skill from 45s to 15s is invaluable for both solo and group play.
- Vocal Skills Healing
- Melee Skills Healing
- Rallying Cry Healing
- Valiant Strike Healing
Healing from Strength of Will (Shield-Brother): Very useful to have, usually best on a buff/swap emblem. Personally, I have it on my main emblem as my 5th major rather than using VS healing (which is really only very useful if you are HoH all the time). While it's certainly viable to swap between emblems, I find that the time saved in not having to do so is worth the extra major slot on my main emblem.
Tactics: Focus In-Combat Power Regen: Even though this buff is rarely requested these days, it's still nice to have it available on a buff emblem just in case.
Words of Courage Pulses: For each additional pulse to WoC, the target of this heal gets an extra heal pulse every 3s. (Making the maximum duration for this HoT 54s.) This legacy is my “put points in it if everything else is maxxed out” option, but even one or two ranks into it are a bonus in my opinion.
Muster Courage Cooldown: This is especially useful if you are using the Strength from Within trait for the self-heal.
Shadow's Lament Cooldown: Very nice to have on a DPS emblem. Can drop the cooldown from 45s to 30s.
The following legacies are especially useful on a swap emblem:
- Shield of the Dunedain Cooldown
- Captain's Escape from Darkness Cooldown
- Time of Need Cooldown
- Time of Need Morale Cost
I like to have an emblem with any or all of these legacies to swap to as needed. Just drag the emblem to your quickslots and click on it before use of the skill(s) in question and the cooldown will remain shortened even after you swap back to your main emblem.
In closing, thanks to Elborigorn for letting me recycle his original guide into something more relevant to the current state of the captain class.
If you read this whole thing, congratulations, you're almost as crazy about captains as I am! If you want to hear Elb, some other captains and I talking about the class, check out this roundtable on A Casual Stroll to Mordor. If you have an issue with any of my advice, feel free to say so. Much of this is personal opinion, and I know that there are other, maybe even better ways to build/play/dress your captain. (Although really, have you seen my captains? They are really well dressed, if I do say so myself!)