LOTRO Beorning Class Changes – What Was Updated and How Did I Get On?

LOTRO Beorning Class Changes 2018-2019 OverviewA huge multi-stage class “re-balancing” effort by The Lord of the Rings Online has been ongoing for some time now. One of my favourite classes – that of Beorning, recently underwent multiple updates. So I want to look at the major parts of the LOTRO Beorning class changes and how I feel playing my Bears has been affected. This, for me, has been pretty much all positive, so please have a read. Also, while comments are open, please feel free to share your experiences below!

As with my other guides, this ended up more comprehensive than planned, so please click/tap the menu link below to skip to bits you want to focus on!
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Which LOTRO Patches Affected Beornings?

As with any of the class changes, Beorning updates occured in more than one update. Here are the links to the relevant patch notes.

The aim of this post is not to reproduce patch notes, but to highlight some major stuff and give my views on those!
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How I Play Beorning

It’s important at this point to make some quick points about where my Beornings are at in the game and how I play them. This will help you to get context on my feedback but also show where I do not have experience. This could mean others have just as important opinions from a different perspective!

I Play Solo DPS, Red Line and mostly ‘Landscape’ Quests

So I haven’t yet done any fellowship quests on my Beornings. Or many other characters for that matter. I’ve done Filikul/Watcher in Moria and maybe one other, but it’s been so long I don’t remember! Therefore I’ve not tried tanking or playing healer in any group content.

Both of my Bears are “red-line“, a trait tree that emphasises DPS in Bear Form. I’m now spending some points in Blue Line to bolster defences, but I’m still effectively a DPS Beorning.

I’m Not Yet Past Moria

My highest-level Bear is just about to leave Moria for Lothlòrien. So although I’m nearly starting post-Moria Rhovanion, I’ve not done anything that seasoned gamers would call ‘challenging’.

Okay with that out the way, here’s some of my highlights of the Beorning class changes!
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Beornings Can Equip Heavy Armour

Initially I felt that medium armour (crafted from hides from wild animals) was more lore-appropriate for a Beorning. However, in practice, Might-based medium armour was proving a royal pain, especially in certain tiers of Tailor crafting. In other Might-based classes (e.g. Guardian, Champion, Captain) you equip heavy armour. Medium armour suited classes such as Hunter and Warden, whose primary stat was Agility, not Might.
So Beornings have now being brought in line with the other Might-based classes. And, to be honest, in human form especially, I am very much preferring the heavy armour. Wading into a bunch of Orcs in Moria, even in man-form, I feel much less at risk from physical attacks.

This change, at Level 50 Guild-crafted armour, gives Beornings about a 20% increase in Armour:

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Beorning Crafting – You Need Metalsmith/Armourer

Unfortunately, I had made both my Beornings – Esilve and Lothver, to be self-reliant. This was based on them being in the wild and needing to use creatures for clothing. That meant they were Explorers, therefore crafters of – you guessed it – medium armour.

However the reality is now you can either rely on quest drops or Skirmish Camps for gear – or you need an Armourer in your characters’ crafting somewhere. Thankfully on Evernight, I already had one that was already a high-level Guild crafter. I had more work to do on Crickhollow. Here’s the comparison of L50 Guild-crafted, medium and heavy armour just as a rough guide to the difference:

You Can Use Medium Armour Still

If your Beorning was a Tailor, then you can still craft cloaks for yourself – and there’s nothing stopping you equipping medium armour if you want to. But I definitely feel less squishy (especially in human form) now I’m in heavy armour.
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Human/Bear Forms are Stances

Minstrels, Hunters and Wardens are three examples of LOTRO Classes that have ‘stances’. Beorning now joins their ranks. This means you no longer simply have one “Skin-Change” skill to switch between Human and Bear forms. As per other stance classes, you have separate ‘stances’ – still called Forms, but no longer called “Skin-Change”.

  • Human Form (“Man Form”)
  • Bear Form
  • Wanderlust (automatically puts you in Bear Form)

I was initially unnerved by this as I was used to the same shortcut key for Skin-Change regardless of what form I was in. But with there now being no wrath decay, the need to switch has been drastically reduced.
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Human- and Bear-form Damage Buff

Just as a note you get a different melée damage buff in Bear- and Human-form. Figures may be different at different levels. Also both my Bears have Legendary Weapons which affects these numbers, and the Critical Defence from Bear form. So these screenshots are as a guide only.

Auto Skin-Changing

One of the really helpful introductions with these Beorning class changes was what I’m calling “Auto Skin-Change”. While there’s no such ability or label, you can automatically switch between forms. This is highlighted by the abilities not greyed out.
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Automatically Changing from Human to Bear Form

This can be done at any time by using the Thrash ability. You do need a target selected but you do not need to be in-range to skin-change.

I have also added “Bear Form” to my quickslots under Shift+= (the very rop right of the 3 main quickslot bars).
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Automatically Changing from Bear to Human Form

You can automatically change back to human form by using the Slash ability. However you will need a target of the Slash to use this. It took me some time to stop accidentally reverting to human form mid-fight because I kept hitting Slash! I think this is because Expose used to be usable in Bear form, but it no longer is. So it took me time to rewire my auto-pilot.

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Running Out of Wrath

I guess for completeness and to help newer Beorning players, I should add this: Running out of Wrath will also change you back to human form.

Note: using Execute consumes all your wrath. So unless you quickly Thrash straight after an Execute skill use, you’ll be reverted to human form shortly after this. However, even this may also be avoided because of a slow increase of Wrath in Bear-form.
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Wrath No Longer Decays

AKA Stay in Bear Form Longer!! Probably for me this is the biggest and most welcome change. Beorn in The Hobbit can be in Man- or Bear-form and not only for combat. I am also under the impression it was not a simple ‘switch flick’ that could be done every other minute!

Before these class changes, switching forms mid-fight was a regular occurance. Now, if you’re not spending any Wrath on combat skills, you remain as angry and pent-up as you like!

This allows staying in Bear-form, including out of combat, effectively indefinitely. This lack of Wrath decay also facilitates Wanderlust.
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My Impression of No Wrath Decay

I feel this change make a huge difference: you can ‘preload’ your Wrath bar well in advance of any combat, without needing to replenish it when the fight actually commences. You can wander Middle-Earth as a bear as much as you like.

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Wrath Increase in Bear Form

One line from the patch notes, says

and now slowly gain wrath over time in Bear form

Because I’m really unobservant I had not noticed this. It’s also likely that I had Wrath at 100% therefore there was no increase to observe! So I tested this – and yes, it looks like you gain 1 Wrath every 2-3 seconds.

Does Not Work on Log-In (with Caveat)

Having just run a test, it seems that the increase in Wrath purely by being in Bear-form does not work if you are already in Bear-form on log-in. I don’t know if this is a bug, or intentional.

However, interestingly, I was not reverted to human form either. As soon as I returned to human form, and back to Bear-form, the wrath increase was triggered.
Update: this does seem to work on login but only if your Wrath is not zero. I logged in with about 10 wrath just now and the 1-wrath-per-3-seconds kicked in.
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Impact on Execute Beorning Skill

Why this matters is because Execute used to use 100% of Wrath and you would be auto-changed to human form. With this in place, when I used Execute, I had 1 Wrath, therefore was able to stay in Bear form. Win!
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Do You Need Wrath from Hearten?

Before LOTRO made these class changes, I was using some Trait Points in order to build Wrath from Hearten (your initial primary Heal-Over-Time skill).

Now, I do not feel that is necessary as a Solo/Landscape Beorning player. Especially since Thrash has been updated to add to wrath and not consume it.

Even against a sizeable group of mobs, keeping wrath over 50% was not particularly challenging. Though against a group of mobs, reverting to Human Form in order to use Hearten was still clearly necessary.

Maybe for Healers?

The only situation I can initially think of is if you’re a healer Beorning who participates in Fellowship Quests. As Hearten consumes Wrath (and will, no doubt, healing skills given way above my level!), then this Trait counteracts it.
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“Requires Human Form” Actions

Being able to stay in Bear form as much as you want (pretty much) does highlight one thing; the number of objects in Middle-Earth that require “Human form” to use. I don’t think anything needs to change on this – even if I think an Orc Forge would be more easily destroyed as a Bear!

But it may feel like the number of such items has increased. This is simply because, before this update, you were likely in human form already!
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Thrash Adds 5 Wrath

Rather than being deducted from it. Coupled with Wrath no nonger decaying, Thrash increasing Wrath really helps maintain levels of Wrath in combat. This is a little counteracted out by two other changes:

  • Vicious Claws (a Beorning ‘interrupt’ skill) Wrath cost has been increased (from 10 to 15).
  • Bash Wrath cost has been increased (from 10 to 20).

But the positive gain from Thrash far outweighs these increases, I believe. At least for me, a Solo player. Others may disagree and that’s fine too!
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I’m massively unobservant. Always have been. So I hadn’t realised that Vigilent Roar was classified as a “Cry” (as in the shouts that Minstrels and Wardens have, for example). Cries can be resisted by Enemies.

However now, Vigilent Roar (and Blue Line’s Thunderous Roar) are no longer cries – so cannot be resisted. Roar at your enemies as much as you like knowing that gaping maw will hurt them each time!
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Bear Form Expose Removed

This is my only niggle, but for me it’s not a massive issue given the other changes made. Expose used to have both a human- and Bear-form variant. It was designed to weaken a target’s armour – by a greater amount if triggered while in human form compared to Bear form.

Expose is no longer available in Bear form. Though handy in the armour-reduction potential, I had been mostly using it to maintain Wrath in combat. But with other change made, realistically, this is not a major loss. And with Beornings’ armour rating being increased because they can equip heavy armour, I very much feel I have the advantage over on-level foes.
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Wanderlust – 40% Peaceful Movement Speed

A completely new feature comes in the form of Beorning in Bear form is their own mount! With Wanderlust, you have 40% Peaceful Movement Speed. At this point I’m unsure if there’s much difference between the term “peaceful movement” and “out of combat”.

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Wanderlust Does Not Stack

Since Update 23.2, Wanderlust “overwrites most other movement speed buffs”. This means you cannot stack it with Hustle (which can be gained from various gear items). This makes perfect sense because a Bear shouldn’t be able to run as fast as a horse/mount.

Also note you cannot use Rush while using Wanderlust. That would have given you a 65% speed boost for few seconds – hilarious but not realistic.
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Wanderlust Speed Is Set

Linked to it not ‘stacking’, this is similar to carrying mail in The Shire where movement speed is set rather than increasing your current speed.

While “Carrying Mail” says 120%, Wanderlust says “+40%” – e.g. 140% of a normal walking pace.
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Exiting Wanderlust

Wanderlust is like a bear-only stance. That means it doesn’t work like an on/off switch. Instead, once you have Wanderlust activated, you’ll need to use a different action to exit it. These are the ones I’ve discovered so far, but I may have missed something.

  • Aggro-ing an Enemy: If you attack an enemy with Slash or Thrash will automatically exist Wanderlust. Note: being attacked/hit by an enemy does not exit Wanderlust mode. Just a warning!
  • Switching to Man Form: as Wanderlust is a bear-form only ability, switching to human form will also cancel Wanderlust.
  • Using Slash: Using ‘Slash’ in Bear-form will automatically switch you to Human form.

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Blue Line Beornings Can Block

Although this change Doesn’t affect me, it is important for Tanking Beornings. Along with the heavy armour, the ability to block should, in theory, help Bears to be more effective at tanking in Fellowship Quests. I don’t want to elaborate on this. Opinions on this are divided on the LOTRO forums, and as I have no tanking experience I cannot pass an informed opinion. I just wanted to highlight the change.

This block rating, as you would expect, is only for Blue-Line bears:

Blue Line Beornings are now able to block as a core line buff. They receive 2 block per Might.

I actually expected this to only be available in Bear-Form (i.e. block with your paws or hide). However, it seems that you can block with your weapon in Man-Form unless I’ve misunderstood.
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Animation Time Reductions

The animation times of Ferocious Roar, Hearten, Composure, Shake Free, and Shapechange have been reduced.

I have noticed this – it is much smoother now. The end result of this is how quickly you get the effect of the skill and how quickly you can use the next skill. I don’t feel now, that I am held back by a second in the middle of combat.
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TL;DR LOTRO Beorning Class Changes Summary

Phew! And those were just the highlights. Overall, for me, these Beorning class changes have been massively positive. Equipping heavy armour, retaining Wrath levels and auto skin-changing have all made playing my Beornings much simpler. Not having to switch forms multiple times in combat has been a huge boon. Adding Wanderlust is a great bonus and, I feel, more in line with lore in terms of the tiring effect of skin changing.

I realise I cannot pass an opinion on Blue (Tank) and Yellow (Heals) Beornings, but I hope this post has been helpful nonetheless. If you’re considering trying the Beorning class, I can highly recommend it! Thanks for reading!

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Fibro Jedi

A 30-something Shadow Jedi, married and have a small daughter. By that I mean "young", not just "short". I have a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia andI play LOTRO, SWTOR and FFXIV and blog about two of them. Social Media has connected me with so many people and some of those have become amazing friends too! As a hobby I am relearning drawing, which you can see on my DeviantArt profile.