The more I’ve leveled him the more I’m enjoying my Hobbit Minstrel. Minstrels are an interesting class. With traits, you can equip medium armor. At level twenty, Minstrels can use shields and get a stance called “War Speech.” War Speech reduces your healing to fifty percent of normal but decreases the cool down on your main cry skill (the name of which escapes me at the moment). Around twenty-two or so I also picked up an AoE damage spell which works only in War Speech stance. Not only does the new AoE do damage, it also debuffs the target to light damage – a Minstrel’s main damage type. The end result is an exceptionally good healing class which, with the stance change, is also a nuker. While changing stances to change the way a class functions isn’t new, WoW did it for their Warrior class among other games, it’s nice to see the concept at work in the healing class – often a type people will shy away from because of the low damage and the resulting slow leveling ability.
Without War Speech, the Minstrel is a powerful healer. My kinmates and I took on the Great Barrows at level (we were all twenty-two and twenty-three level-wise) and we did very well. Only two deaths, one of them mine, and we managed to complete the whole thing. It was interesting to see the fight from the perspective of a healing class instead of my usual melee class preferences.
If you’re playing LotRO and like DPSing, leveling a Minstrel seems like a decent option. In groups and instances, you’ll probably be the healer, but with the War Speech abilities, solo content is likely to be a lot easier than when playing a strict healer.
The stance change to War Speech for LotRO’s Minstrel is a lot like the stance change for the Warrior in WoW: it changes the abilities of a class towards another area of expertise. In the case of WoW’s Warrior, they can be a dps machine (berserker), defensive juggernaut (defensive) or a decent combination of both (battle). In the case of the Minstrel, the War Speech stance makes up for the low dps of the class under normal circumstances. I wonder if more games will pick up on stances as a way to allow a greater range of flexibility for their classes and a way to help ones with notable problems get a leg up to complete their leveling process (ex: low dps tanks and healers).