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View Full Version : My stab at the new bard swashbuckler



elvesunited
06-12-2014, 10:25 AM
So after my initial dreams of making a bard character were squashed by the enhancement update last year
( I hated what was done with warchanter ) I figured I'd give Swashbuckler ( pure 20 bard build ) a try.

My initial impression:

The swashbuckler has multiple dodge increasers, but dodge is a supplemental defense ability not a primary one like AC or physical resistance combined with lots of hp. This does not seem like a character that could stand toe to toe in epic levels. But the real killer for me is no item defense. I've learned the hard way with a tempest character that lacking item defense will often result in you holding toothpicks by the end of a quest. Given the Swashbuckler uses one weapon at a faster speed it spells doom to me.

Given that I figured I go with thrown. Deflect arrows, Fast Movement and eventually evasion looks good for that. It hurt to find out that Different Tack ( dex or charisma becomes damage bonus stat ) is melee only and I doubt this character will ever achieve ultra high dps. But giving it a try I came up with 2 character paths.

One halfing dex-maxed bard combining the halfling/swashbuckler feats to achieve maximum thrown DPS. ( at least for a bard )

One drow charisma-maxed bard putting considerable investment into the spellslinger tree to make a capable spellcaster/ strong song singer in addition to being decent though not great distance damager. ( plus maxing out perform for coup de grace )

I decided to go with the drow. I already developed a ranged ranger/monk hybrid. and I don't see the halfling reaching near that level of DPS. Even if he did, I've already done the ranged DPS style character so I'd like to try something a little different.

A few thoughts on the AP picks:

--- The good ---
Blow by Blow: Looks good for a tier 1 and no sp cost!
Fast Movement: unless it doesn't stack with equipment which would be silly
Deflect Arrows: So many weird things are deflectable. ( like web lines )
Wind at my back: Obvious pick for throwers.
Different tack: obvious pick for melee.
Swashbuckler style: for 1 AP a good economic choice.
Swashbucker style II: anything that can trip or stun using perform for the check is good.
Coup De Grace: That actually seems quite powerful under right circumstances. and no sp cost!

--- The bad ---
Insults: sp cost for a measily -3 on one type of saves?
Limber Up: Not skills that I'd consider valuable enough to spend the AP
En Pointe: Melee only. Limited value. Plus an sp cost?
On the Mark: +1 seeker for 2 AP each. Too expensive.

--- The Ugly ---
sword dance: So weak, so expensive. and only useful if enemies miss you in melee. A situation a bard should avoid.

gwonbush
06-12-2014, 11:05 AM
Swashbucklers can definitely stand toe-to-toe in epic levels. Between 32% dodge (with ship buffs), self-casted 50% displacement, cure critical wounds/heal scrolls and maybe 80 PRR if you work for it, they can survive a decent amount of melee punishment even with their lowish hp. If you are about to enter a tough fight, fascinate the entire room and then kill them one at a time. With a Guardbreaking buckler (Cove buckler or Kobold Admiral's Tiller), anything that isn't a red named barely fights back.

Maelodic
06-12-2014, 12:42 PM
The swashbuckler has multiple dodge increasers, but dodge is a supplemental defense ability not a primary one like AC or physical resistance combined with lots of hp. This does not seem like a character that could stand toe to toe in epic levels.

My swashbuckler stands better in epics than all of my other characters including my full tank monk. Perma displacement combined with max dodge cap and the ability to CC most mobs is absolutely ridiculous. He also gets 90+ PRR and that combined with max dodge as well as Uncanny Dodge for hairy rooms, fast-as-hell movespeed, and invis on demand- it turns him into somebody who survives much better than the rest of my characters.


But the real killer for me is no item defense. I've learned the hard way with a tempest character that lacking item defense will often result in you holding toothpicks by the end of a quest. Given the Swashbuckler uses one weapon at a faster speed it spells doom to me.

Are you repairing your items regularly? The only characters I have problems with durability on are my stick-users- and even they can go through a longer quest just fine- most of the time.


Given that I figured I go with thrown. Deflect arrows, Fast Movement and eventually evasion looks good for that. It hurt to find out that Different Tack ( dex or charisma becomes damage bonus stat ) is melee only and I doubt this character will ever achieve ultra high dps.

I'd recommend halfling with Skillful Thrower- completely DEX based and just picking up the shuriken expertise feat for some ridiculous doubleshot. Your reflex save would be higher than 99% of other builds.



--- The bad ---
Insults: sp cost for a measily -3 on one type of saves?

This is more useful than you think for Otto's Sphere of Dancing.

About the others- every class has useless enhancements.


--- The Ugly ---
sword dance: So weak, so expensive. and only useful if enemies miss you in melee. A situation a bard should avoid.

With max Dodge, displacement, and 10% incorp- you're going to be missed a lot in melee. This is actually fantastic for any melee Swashbuckler and I can't imagine not taking it. If you're in melee, you're going to be swung at constantly.

Holybird
06-12-2014, 01:21 PM
With max Dodge, displacement, and 10% incorp- you're going to be missed a lot in melee. This is actually fantastic for any melee Swashbuckler and I can't imagine not taking it. If you're in melee, you're going to be swung at constantly.

True about that. Normally when 5 or 6 mobs attack me I just just let em swing me. Swords dance can be so good that when you are killing the first mob others have swung their hps to half of maximum and sometimes they get killed before you even have time to touch em. And said you can get very good defences you are going to get hit twice or 3 times per encounter. That swords Dance is not actually bad.

junta64
06-12-2014, 02:33 PM
I get missed so much I have the timer run off for Boast before the temporary hit points.

Seikojin
06-12-2014, 02:54 PM
...snip...---
The Ugly ---
sword dance: So weak, so expensive. and only useful if enemies miss you in melee. A situation a bard should avoid.

Odd, considering that everyone else seems to think the opposite about swashbucklers. The idea is not to get hit, avoiding blows and getting crits.

The fact that this defensive proc happens a lot and is pumpable by spellpowers, you have a solid form of secondary dps.

elvesunited
06-12-2014, 06:24 PM
True about that. Normally when 5 or 6 mobs attack me I just just let em swing me. Swords dance can be so good that when you are killing the first mob others have swung their hps to half of maximum and sometimes they get killed before you even have time to touch em. And said you can get very good defences you are going to get hit twice or 3 times per encounter. That swords Dance is not actually bad.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't sword dance at max 1d20 damage? (10.5 average) even if you triple that with spell power you are still only going to get around 30. For epic enemies that doesn't amount to that much.


I'd recommend halfling with Skillful Thrower- completely DEX based and just picking up the shuriken expertise feat for some ridiculous doubleshot. Your reflex save would be higher than 99% of other builds

That's why I considered the halfling for Skillful and Master Thrower and save bonuses. But I thought the Bard Charisma based abilities would suffer. Can you Swashbuckle with a shuriken? I didn't recall seeing it among swashbuckle weapons.


Are you repairing your items regularly? The only characters I have problems with durability on are my stick-users- and even they can go through a longer quest just fine- most of the time.
Back before I got Item Defense for them: After every quest.

CThruTheEgo
06-13-2014, 08:42 AM
My initial impression:

I'm not sure where you are getting some of your assumptions from but many of them are simply wrong.


The swashbuckler has multiple dodge increasers, but dodge is a supplemental defense ability not a primary one like AC or physical resistance combined with lots of hp. This does not seem like a character that could stand toe to toe in epic levels.

Dodge is absolutely a primary aspect of defense. It's AC that is completely useless. The best defense is to simply not get hit. This is accomplished with three factors - dodge, concealment (blur/displacement), and incorporeality (ninja spy's shadow veil or ghostly on equipment). The entire AC system is essentially nonfunctional in the current state of the game. In EE content insanely high AC builds still get hit as much as AC dumped builds. AC is not the way to effective defense. To achieve effective defense against physical damage in this game you pump damage avoidance (dodge, concealment, and incorp) and damage mitigation (PRR) which minimizes the damage taken when you do get hit.


But the real killer for me is no item defense. I've learned the hard way with a tempest character that lacking item defense will often result in you holding toothpicks by the end of a quest. Given the Swashbuckler uses one weapon at a faster speed it spells doom to me.

Just repair after every quest or every few quests. Item defense is not essential and AP are a valuable resource which are better spent elsewhere.


Given that I figured I go with thrown.

If you just want to go with a ranged build, then go for it. But the reasons you've cited for not wanting to go melee are completely inaccurate, so don't let those be the reason that you avoid melee.


Deflect Arrows: So many weird things are deflectable. ( like web lines )

I did not know this. That's pretty handy.


On the Mark: +1 seeker for 2 AP each. Too expensive.

This is the same cost as it is in most other trees, except most trees split this into two enhancements (the to-hit portion is a pre-req for the damage portion) and each costs 1 AP, so either way it ends up being 6 AP for 3 seeker. But I agree, there are better things to spend points on.


sword dance: So weak, so expensive. and only useful if enemies miss you in melee. A situation a bard should avoid.

...snip...

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't sword dance at max 1d20 damage? (10.5 average) even if you triple that with spell power you are still only going to get around 30. For epic enemies that doesn't amount to that much.

If I'm not mistaken, the in game description says this scales with bard level as well as spell power. I'll recheck in game to verify this, but if that's true for both of those then this is a very powerful enhancement.


Back before I got Item Defense for them: After every quest.

Spending valuable AP on something that is easily managed by visiting nearly ANY vendor in the game after every few quests is a bad investment. Stick builds are the only build where I would recommend taking item defense and that's because staffs have very low durability and are much more easily damaged as a result.

I'm not trying to steer you away from a ranged build, just making sure your assumptions are correct so you can make an informed decision. If ranged is what you want, then go for it. But swashbuckler has some very strong incentives to go melee, more so than many other trees in fact.

Take a look at The Count of Monte Cristo in my sig if you want to get an idea of what a melee bard is capable of. Maelodic's build is also a good resource.

elvesunited
06-13-2014, 09:27 AM
First off, thank you for all responses.


I'm not sure where you are getting some of your assumptions from but many of them are simply wrong.
Well I don't play Lamania so this is my first attempt with a bard swashbuckler. So I just started him. And I'm trying to get the accurate lay of the character abilities. Most of my prior information was based off the wiki. And I agree many of my assumptions are proving to be wrong.


If I'm not mistaken, the in game description says this scales with bard level as well as spell power. I'll recheck in game to verify this, but if that's true for both of those then this is a very powerful enhancement.
ACK! you're right. It's one die per bard level. so at level 20. 20d20 modified by spellpower! Well that's a horse of a different color. I formally take back every bad thing I said about sword dance.


Spending valuable AP on something that is easily managed by visiting nearly ANY vendor in the game after every few quests is a bad investment. Stick builds are the only build where I would recommend taking item defense and that's because staffs have very low durability and are much more easily damaged as a result.
My tempest using rapiers could run "The snitch" under epic and by the end of the quest had to switch to an alternate primary weapon. Even my paladin using a longsword runs into trouble on longer ones.

Side Note
Now that I've actually got a chance to use my new bard character. I've noted that the "blow by blow" attack (3d6 sonic) using my "+3 Shock Adamantine Returning Throwing Axe of Bleeding" ( fortunately crafted before the update ) is not doing sonic damage.

From the combat log:
(Combat): You attack Witch Doctor Kneeza. You roll a 17 (+25): you hit!
(Combat): You hit Witch Doctor Kneeza for 1 point of electric damage.
(Combat): You hit Witch Doctor Kneeza for 3 points of damage
(Combat): You help Witch Doctor Kneeza with Threat.
(Combat): You hit Witch Doctor Kneeza, but did no damage.
(Combat): You hit Witch Doctor Kneeza for 17 points of slash damage.

I tried multiple times on different enemies. The sonic damage part of blow by blow never did any damage.

Another Note
The shield bash trip of Swashbuckler Style II does not work while using a thrown weapon. I thought it might be a neat trick to pull out should an enemy get to close. But alas not to be.

gwonbush
06-13-2014, 10:49 AM
Sword dance would be awesome... if it actually scaled with bard level. Tested on a 20 Bard with 220 sonic spell power, I never got over 66 damage, when the numbers say I should get around 640 on average (a number that seems insanely overpowered to deal every miss).

CThruTheEgo
06-13-2014, 10:52 AM
Sword dance would be awesome... if it actually scaled with bard level. Tested on a 20 Bard with 220 sonic spell power, I never got over 66 damage, when the numbers say I should get around 960 on average (a number that seems insanely overpowered to deal every miss).

I thought it was too good to be true. Thanks for the testing and confirmation.

Duallium
06-18-2014, 11:49 AM
Personally, I was slightly depressed in the new swashbuckler tree. It has many skill that would be amazing to use but many of them require you to be swashbuckling with an orb, rune arm, buckler, or nothing. A personal grievance I had when I saw this was that it seemed very limited on the multiclassing, as it requires a ton of points to get many things in the tree as well as single weapon fighting. I guess the main thing I would like them to tweak is allowing for dual-wielding of finesse weapons (ie: rapiers) and more debuffing being applied on hits (like destruction).

elvesunited
06-26-2014, 12:41 AM
Well having reached 12th level my Swashbuckler finally got the Improved Critical : Thrown skill.
How would it work with swashbuckling?

My initial reaction was not promising. It didn't show up in the critical range of the description of the weapon I was wielding.
( whether the swashbuckler toggle was turned on or not )

So I took it to my airship's proving grounds and did some practice with the training dummy. And it confirmed the best of all possible results of mixing improved critical and Swashbuckling.

thrown axe critical chance : on a 20
thrown axe critical chance while swashbuckling : on a 18 - 20
thrown axe critical chance while swashbuckling with Improved Critical : on a 15 - 20

yep it took the swashbuckling expanded crit range and multiplied it by 2.

elvesunited
06-28-2014, 02:36 PM
Well I've now had a chance to use Coup de Grace.

At level 12 with a perform of 50 I'm seeing it autokill about a third of the time against non-red name opponents.
( I'm trying to not to count those enemies that break their condition that exact moment of being hit. )

I can't see the enemies save but I'm amazed that level 12 enemies are pulling off saves against 50+1d20 ( even if it is fortitude ) that often. Is there some other factor I am unaware of?

elvesunited
07-02-2014, 11:26 PM
I decided to check to test it out because I never saw it processing and confirmed what I thought wasn't happening. So I took my Swashbuckler character ( equipped with his returning throwing axe ) to the sands to find a skeleton archer and watched the combat log.

Deflect arrows via the Swashbuckler Enhancement Tree never processed. I don't think I've seen it work.

On the more amusing side I did see:

Combat: You hit Unholy Arrow with Knockdown

about 20% of the time that the arrow missed me.

Jhaeran
07-03-2014, 09:24 AM
Interesting on deflect arrows, curious if that's a known issue.

Odd on the failure on coup de grace - i rarely if ever fail on my 16 - even on lvl 18 elites. Make sure its a fleshy though, it won't work on undead/constructs.

AzB
07-04-2014, 08:55 AM
I can kinda sorta tank on my swash in EE. It depends on a lot of factors. But with ~30% dodge, 80prr, 120-130 AC, and at least 800hp, he can generally stand toe to toe with 80=90% of mobs and red names.

One thing that really helps the long drawn out fights is consecrated ground from the Divine Crusader ED. It heals for 110-120 pts every couple seconds while standing in the consecrated circle. And it heals everyone, which can be helpful as well. But that's usually enough to gain back what damage I take in toe to toe battles. The main thing is to have enough defense that you're not taken out in 1 or 2 hits.

Consecrated also adds a bit more damage to your foe, but that's just gravy for the most part.

elvesunited
07-04-2014, 04:15 PM
I can kinda sorta tank on my swash in EE. It depends on a lot of factors. But with ~30% dodge, 80prr, 120-130 AC, and at least 800hp, he can generally stand toe to toe with 80=90% of mobs and red names.

One thing that really helps the long drawn out fights is consecrated ground from the Divine Crusader ED. It heals for 110-120 pts every couple seconds while standing in the consecrated circle. And it heals everyone, which can be helpful as well. But that's usually enough to gain back what damage I take in toe to toe battles. The main thing is to have enough defense that you're not taken out in 1 or 2 hits.

Consecrated also adds a bit more damage to your foe, but that's just gravy for the most part.

I'm almost afraid to ask how you get 80 prr, 120-130 AC and 800 hp on a character who is basically restricted to light armor ( medium if don't care about evading ) and a buckler.

CThruTheEgo
07-04-2014, 08:55 PM
I'm almost afraid to ask how you get 80 prr, 120-130 AC and 800 hp on a character who is basically restricted to light armor ( medium if don't care about evading ) and a buckler.

The Count of Monte Cristo in my sig reaches 87 PRR and 821 hp with full breakdowns listed, no idea about AC though.

elvesunited
07-19-2014, 10:50 PM
With the latest update coup de grace now succeeds almost all the time now.
( it was iffy before even against dancing enemies )

So thanks devs!

Now if you could look into blow by blow and the bard enhancement deflect arrows ....
Both of which don't seem to function with a ranged bard.

( Swashbuckler Style Buckler trip as well though that might be WAI )

Sloene
07-20-2014, 04:13 AM
High defence is certainly doable, but does take some work.

http://i.imgur.com/OtjrWfc.jpg