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Beginner’s Guide: The Odd Man Out – Support Classes

December 10, 2011

Which one does not belong in the Trinity of kittens?

Most of you now know about the MMO Trinity, which is Tank, Healer, and DPS classes (if you don’t click here, here, and here, respectively)

There is another type of class that has seen very wide use, and that is the class role of Support. Technically, Healers fall under the umbrella of “Support,” but I am going to talk about the classes that aren’t really Tanks, Healers, or DPS, but fall under a special sub-category all of their own.

Support classes are usually good for buffing, debuffing, utility skills like cures, off-healing, and power-healing. My ideal group in LOTRO for example has two Healers (one of which can be a Support class), one Tank, one other Support specifically for that purpose, and two DPS. For easier content, one healer can be swapped out for DPS. But what does a Support class actually bring to the table?

Make me stronger please

Buffs are temporary states of your character that make you stronger in some way. It could be a straight-up stat boost, like the skill In Defense Of Middle Earth (IDOME) that Captains have in LOTRO. Other skills can boost your chance to crit, parry, block, evade, etc. etc. Basically, a Support that buffs makes everyone in the group better, which is definitely worth more than bringing one more DPS or something like that.

Make him weaker please

Debuffs are the opposite of buffs, obviously. These are skills that weaken a monster and make it easier for you and your friends to defeat it. Debuffs can be a lowering of stats, an increase of miss chance, or an increase in damage taken. Basically, you can think of combat as rates. Rates of health going down. Through use of healing and mitigation, Healers and Tanks can keep the rate of health loss low on your side. Support classes can also affect the rates, but mostly through interaction with the OTHER side. Support classes increase the rate at which the enemy loses health, or reduces the enemy’s ability to increase YOUR rate. Debuffs are all about making the rates come out more favorably for your group.

Keep him off of me

Support classes are often the ones with the most “crowd control” (CC) abilities, like stuns, mesmerizes, roots, and knockbacks. These classes might not be able to do a lot of damage, but if they can keep a bunch of monsters busy NOT hitting people, then you can eventually get the DPS classes to mow down all of the enemies without taking too much damage.

“Do your thing, because I am not quite sure what it is that you do”

Sometimes Support classes have a lot of different things they can do, so many in fact that people who don’t play that class have no idea what to expect from them. For example, Lore-masters in LOTRO can cure diseases and wounds, heal a little bit, steal power from enemies (making them less likely to be able to use hard-hitting skills), restore power to party members, debuff monsters’ outgoing ranged, melee, and tactical damage, decrease monsters’ chances to crit, lower miss chance on monsters through use of hot-spots, lower monsters’ resistance to fire, lower monsters’ armor, root in two different ways, stun in three different ways, mez in two different ways, and resurrect dead players (out of combat). What is it that Lore-masters are most told to do? Restore power. People treat them like batteries, because that is all they know about Lore-masters usually. Hunters in LOTRO are also a very underused Support class. Most people think of them as pure DPS classes, but they have a special Traitline (specialization) that allows them to do about five different roots, snares, and slows, in addition to a mez and two fears, and to top it all off, they have debuffing skills in that Traitline as well. They are a potent class when played well.

So what are the Support classes in <insert your game here>?

You tell me, buddy. But I do know what they are in LOTRO and SWTOR.


  • Burglar (debuffs, CC, Fellowship Maneuvers)
  • Captains (buffs, debuffs, health- and power-healing)
  • Hunters (debuffs, CC)
  • Lore-master (debuffs, CC, health- and power-healing)
  • Minstrels (buffs, and of course healing)


From what I have seen, all of the classes have CC and buff options. In fact, in a feature that is somewhat unique, each class has its own specific buff that it can use on itself and its party members. This encourages bringing a balanced group, since the buffs do not stack. Debuffs are more rare than I have usually seen in games, but not really missed.


Support classes make good situations go better, bad situations go well, and horrible situations survivable. Support classes are useful. They are kind of like a Swiss Army knife: they have so many uses, you are afraid of leaving the house without one.

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