I'm not typically one to bash other people's efforts, but to be entirely honest I'd caution any up and coming minstrel players from taking too much of that to heart.
For starters, it only talks about blue line when yellow is the superior spec for the vast majority of LotRO content. But what I really take issue with is how most of the guide's substance is essentially telling you what's on skill tooltips. Not a single mention of what's *actually* important when playing a healer; understanding triage, situational awareness and predictive skills. Instead you get a nonsensical "heal yourself and heal the tank" in bullet points and a whole paragraph on how to rez people after you let them die.
I'd be happy to talk about triage and how to make the most of your buffing suite some time, so if any minstrel players feel like you could use a few pointers just shout.
Showing me Yellow line as Minstrel did open an eye for me Conrad,it makes it more interesting and showed me another way of playing Cenalith. I hope to learn more in playing a yellow line Minstrel,besides the blue line you do need sometimes ;)
I've tried Yellow line in the distant past, and I did like it a lot, but back then I mostly quested so it's an untested spec for me as healer/buffer.
Then I tried Blue line and I like that a lot for healer, especially with the set bonus that allows me to cast 3 stacking 'Improved Inspire Fellows' for AoE party heals and reduced damage. Both specs together on a raid would be great!
You say that "yellow is the superior spec for the vast majority of LotRO content". Would you elaborate? I like details :-)
Sure, like I said I'll happily discuss what I'd consider to be actually important when playing a minstrel (or any healer) and why yellow is generally better. I'll try to write it down tomorrow, probably won't have time today.
Okay, so the first thing that needs to be brought up when discussing any kind of healer is triage. Triage is originally a medical term and its definition is "the process of determining the priority of patients' treatments based on the severity of their condition. This rations patient treatment efficiently when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately".
Put simply, triage in the context of an MMO has to do with time management. When determining what to spend your time casting, you need to go through a multi-layered decision process, an example would be something like:
1. Which characters are damaged, how severely? 2. Which characters are likely to take damage again in the near future?
A combination of these two forms the first step of your decision making as a healer. The purpose here is to determine which characters are the most likely to take lethal damage if no healing is received in the near future. This is for you to judge and draws on your knowledge of the current encounter and its damage profile, coupled with the roles of the threatened players. (Does this boss deal significant spike damage to the tank? Is there frequent AoE, and if so, does it hit both players in melee and at range?)
This is where statements like "heal the tank first, then everyone else" falls hopelessly short of actual intelligent healing. The player who is most likely to die without immediate healing should always get your attention first, regardless of role. Only when you are unable to determine which of several players is under greater threat should you default to prioritising "critical" roles such as a group's tank.
Now that the recipient(s) have been determined, the second and final step of the triage process is selecting the appropriate ability. Here, the decision point is mostly about efficiency vs efficacy. What does this mean?
The definition of efficacy is "the ability to produce a desired or intended result". In other words, whichever tool does whatever you want to achieve the best. Efficiency on the other hand, is about conserving your resources as well as possible while still adequately producing results. In the context of Minstrel healing, your resources are time, power, and ability cooldowns/procs.
A concrete example for Minstrels is to compare Raise the Spirit, Chord of Salvation, and Bolster Courage. For a target that urgently needs healing, RtS and CoS may be more efficacious as the healing is applied more quickly. However, Bolster Courage is far more efficient both in terms of healing/time and healing/power. As such, Bolster Courage should always be preferred unless you believe your target will die before the cast would complete.
Other times, the same ability can be both the most efficacious and efficient. Inspire Fellows is an example of this, being the best heal available when at least 3-4 or more allies need healing without either of them being in more danger than any other. (The blue line AoE Bolster Courage will be better on occasion but I prefer not to encourage too much reliance on blatantly overpowered and abhorrently designed abilities. Please fix, devs.)
So, this is triage and that is the mentality that should be practiced when playing any kind of healer. It is the cornerstone of high level healing play and by far the most essential skill to teach aspiring healers.
Please let me know if you'd like me to further clarify the triage concept and how to apply it in practice.
As for the merits of the Minstrel blue and yellow lines, I think I'll write that in a separate post for the sake of readability.
Let me open up by stating something that perhaps isn't as widely known as it ought to be; Rune-keepers are generally stronger than any kind of Minstrel if what you're looking for is pure healing output. So why are Minstrels generally the preferred group healer? Because group contribution is the sum of not just healing, but any other kind of utility that is relevant for group play. Minstrels have this in spades, and the yellow line is designed to take advantage of this.
The primary form of group utility for the Minstrel class is the Anthem mechanic. If you play a Minstrel, you know what these abilities do and how powerful they can be. Now, by default you can only use a single Anthem at a time, but traiting Yellow increases this limit to three at a time. This is a big deal! It's the difference between Anthems of War increasing your group's Mastery by 66% instead of the standard 22%. But there's more!
As the guide in the OP points out, it's possible to play an Anthem that buffs your group (such as War) and then override it with Anthem of the Third Age. This preserves the effect of Anthem of War on the group, but you get the benefit of Anthem of the Third Age for yourself. Resonant Anthem of the Third Age provides +10% Outgoing Healing (which is significant because the Tactical Mastery cap doesn't apply) and -25% Induction time.
What all this means is that you can play the following sequence: War > Third Age > War > Third Age > War > Third Age and end up with +66% Mastery for your group and +17% Mastery, +20% Outgoing Healing and -50% Induction time for yourself. This coupled with the -20% induction time from the trait tree and -10% from the LI legacy means you end up with -80% induction time total which is actually faster than blue line.
The max buffing build is very specialised and should only be used when:
Damage contribution matters significantly more than healing output; or increased healing is made redundant by Captains and Lore-masters.
Most or all of the group's damage is Tactical
The other two builds however are not so far behind blue line in healing output, the biggest difference being the lack of the groupwide Bolster Courage heal (who on earth thought that was a good idea...). Both of these two are quite capable of healing competent groups through pretty much any T2 content you can think of, barring certain specific t2 raid bosses perhaps.
The short version of all this is that you can heal all T2C 3- and 6-man content (and most 12 man content) using one of these builds, while providing far stronger group buffs than what blue line offers. This makes it the superior spec in my eyes, blue line serving more as a safety net for weaker groups (meaning suboptimal class composition and/or experience) or out of the ordinary raid mechanics that either render DPS contribution relatively meaningless or have extremely heavy AoE damage without the opportunity for DPS to heal through Revealing Mark.
Please ask if you'd like me to elaborate further on any of these points, I've deliberately glossed over a few things so as to not make this too long.