This is the second part of a two-part column giving a broad overview of the different trait setups for the lore-master and the different roles it can fulfil in a group. The first part of the column can be found here.

Strong pet and off-healing/support. 5x blue, 2x red

The blue trait line (keeper of animals) is all about buffing the lore-master’s pet and, in theory, increasing your off-healing ability. At the moment, the keeper of animals (blue) line is probably the least commonly used lore-master trait setup, especially in a group environment. This is for two reasons (1) while the legendary capstone pet, the bog-guardian, is good it simply doesn’t make up for what you lose by slotting 5 blue traits, and (2) the entire off-healing boosts of the line are found in just two traits, meaning you can maximise your healing output while still slotted 5 deep into either of the other two trait lines.

However, this will greatly change in Isengard as there are two extra healing traits being added as well as a much more relevant 4-set bonus. These changes will be discussed in more detail in another post, but in short they seem certain to make lore-masters very viable healers in 3-person instances, and powerful off-healers in 6-person instances and raids.

The lore-master pet ‘flanking’ mechanism is mentioned below. I’m not planning on going into detail about this all-important mechanic, I highly recommend Staff Strike’s overview of it here. If you don’t know what a flank is, you are missing out on a lot as a lore-master, it is a very powerful mechanic.

Why does the best looking lurker skin have to be store exlclusive?

What this setup does

The set bonuses for the keeper of animals line are fairly underwhelming, and other than the three that have been mentioned previously (healer, light of hope and proof against all ills) the blue traits themselves are also either not that useful or very situational. Thus, pretty much the only reason to slot deep into the blue line at the moment is to unlock the legendary bog-guardian capstone pet.

Luckily, this is the best pet available to the lore-master. First of all when fully buffed with traits, it does a pretty decent amount of damage – approximately 90-95 dps while in melee range against on-level signature mobs (compared to about 45 for the eagle pet and ~20-25 for most other pets). It has a very high flank rate, including a passive special ability that procs a guaranteed flank approximately every 15s while in melee range on top of its normal flanks. It also has a special ability that increases incoming range critical chance by +5% and has a 20% chance of starting a FM every 1min.

When it should be used

In the current game, rarely in group situations. There are only two current end game fights where this line is even arguably the ‘optimal’ setup. The bog guardian’s high flank rate, coupled with the fact that using staff sweep on a flank restores power, makes it a decent option for the Lieutenant fight in BG (where your draw power ability is unable to be used). Other than that, in the poison wing in Ost Dunhoth, Frothmar wipes his debuffs so frequently (approximately every 35-45s depending on your raid’s DPS) that it’s hardly worth traiting yellow. Also, the nature of the fight, where you’ll be constantly running around swapping platforms means that the constant damage provided by the bog-lurker is most likely going to give you a higher DPS than traiting red will and the extra flanks will help your survivability.

The only other time you might want to trait blue is if you are the second lore-master in a raid where your cc is required and the other lore-master already has debuffs covered (eg. DN or Gortheron depending on your group’s strategy). Lore-master debuffs don’t stack so there’s not much point taking two yellow-traited lore-masters into a raid. A hybrid trait setup is probably just as viable or even better in these situations though.

If you are looking to solo very high morale mobs or do silly things like soloing the school/library or the first boss in NCF, then the bog lurker’s high flank rate and ability to attack from range will help you out a lot.

What traits to use

Healer and light of hope are obvious choices, and proof against ills if you want to be able to cure wounds or AOE cure diseases. Apart from that, use traits to buff your pet (hardy companion and beast-lore, which are being combined in Isengard) or Dunedain learning if you want to be able to get lazy with stun protection, or want to cover a large proportion of your group/raid.

Isengard will introduce two very exciting off-healing traits, improved flanking and improved inner flame which look set to become very useful if you’re looking to run something as a main or off-healer. The desirability of these traits alone should make the blue line more viable in grouping situations post-Isengard, which imo is going to be a great change.

A little bit of everything – 2-3x red, 2-3x blue, 1-3x yellow

Of course, as good as the lore-master legendary capstone traits are, it’s possible to use a mix of traits. These setups are particularly good if you’re looking to preserve a perma-mez while retaining a good amount of damage dealing ability and a mix of blue traits.

What this setup does

The aim of going hybrid is to keep your ability to lockdown a target (or two) with blinding flash without completely nerfing your personal damage output, as the yellow and (to a lesser extent) blue lines do. Limiting yourself to two or three red traits gives you a 30s or 20s mez, which enables you to lockdown one or two mobs with 4-5 slots left over to devote to enhancing your support ability.

When it should be used

Whenever lore-master CC is called for, but the content isn’t cutting edge raid content where your full debuffing strength is required. While lore-masters don’t have much of a CC role in either of the In Your Absence 6-person instances (unfortunately) or the commonly run GB cluster, there is a pretty strong case for using lore-master CC in Sammath Gul and the Annuminas instances. And, who knows what (if anything!) is coming with Isengard, but I’m guessing some White-Hand orcs and if the instances are at all tough then it might be useful to be able to CC some orc defilers or archers. Also, if you’re running group skirmishes, it’s not a bad idea to give yourself the ability to mez certain lieutenants until the end of a wave (eg. blood rook, priestess of flame, death-monger etc.).

What traits to use

For legendary traits, Ents is a given and then either Eagle if that’s the pet you want to use or Noble-Savage.

Apart from that, the whole lore-master trait toolkit is at your disposal here. You should be slotting Improved Staff Strike and Harmony with Nature as your first and second red traits (with Flame of Anor as the third if you don’t need a full 30s mez). Fast Loader is an extremely good trait to use if you’re mezzing anything, so throw that in, and deep lore if there’s going to be swarms of mobs that you want to root or debuff. Don’t forget that a second yellow trait will help you stun undead swarms too. Then fill out the rest with a mix of useful blue traits, healer, light of hope, PAAI, dunedain learning – whatever the instance calls for – and even beast-lore to boost your pet damage if there’s nothing specific that you need.

Post-Isengard I’m betting hybrid trait setups of some kind will make a bit more of an appearance. Improved Flanking, healer, light of hope + 3 red + fast loader combined with the eagle pet (which has a flank rate not too far off the bog guardian) gives you a huge amount of flexibility. CC, pretty powerful healing and good fire/melee damage – that looks like a powerful package.

Next week: my take on the known lore-master changes in Isengard and why you really shouldn’t be worried about the increased cooldown on ancient cures (it might even make you a better player!).