Aug 242011

Before Update 11 this question had an easy answer: none of the above. No crossbow build was really useful after about level 12.* The damage potential simply wasn’t there.

* Exception – back when reducing CON to zero killed monsters, a Wounding of Puncturing repeater-based build _was_ viable all the way until Amrath.

Enter update 11. Crossbow rate of fire is dramatically improved, meaning DPS is too. Enough to remain viable at end game? Hard to say, but appearance suggests that a properly equipped and built crossbow may now be on an even keel with Arcane Archer. Some do not consider Arcane Archer to be endgame-viable but hey, can’t make everyone happy now can we?

Leaving us with the question: which is a better crossbow build? One of them is an INT class that needs to add DEX to hit anything. The other is a DEX class that needs INT to damage anything.

Let’s break it down:


  • PRO: Free Rapid Reload feat at level 1
  • PRO: Weapon Focus: Ranged, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Precise Shot and Improved Precise Shot are all considered class feats
  • PRO: Class enhancement available that adds +2 to attack and damage of repeaters (+4/+4 for non-repeaters)
  • PRO: Still has seven feats left to support other Artificer capabilities
  • PRO: Can use Insightful Strikes buff to apply INT modifier to attack if DEX is too low
  • PRO: Can use Deadly Weapons buff to increase base weapon damage (although this buff can be cast on the Mechanic too)
  • CON: Cannot use Insightful Strikes and Deadly Weapons at the same time. An xbow specialist is still going to need high DEX
  • CON: Will be challenging to build a solid melee or caster Artificer if pumping DEX high enough to hit reliably


  • PRO: INT modifier to damage
  • PRO: Sneak attack modifer to hit and to damage
  • PRO: Enhancements and items available to reduce or avoid agro
  • PRO: High INT will also help with Search and with total number of skill points
  • CON: Probably won’t be able to afford all of the ranged feats and still be top-shelf Mechanic
  • CON: Will be challenging to build a solid melee Mechanic after pumping INT high enough to add very much damage

On the other hand, I don’t think many people consider either of these builds to be really strong melee candidates.

I suspect that the Mechanic has the highest DPS potential, but only if the build is really centered around crossbow capabilities. Meanwhile the Artificer is (at least) nearly as good at ranged DPS while retaining enough build flexibility to be top-shelf in other capabilities.

So, like all build questions, it becomes a trade off. Which is the best? It depends!

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

  6 Responses to “Update 11 question: best crossbow build is Artificer? or Mechanic?”

Comments (6)
  1. mechanic 2 /artificer build then watch the warforged wizards fear you

  2. With 32 points 8 16 14 18 8 8 human is totally doable and a base 16 dex (+6 item + 2 tome) + full bab (divine power scrolls) + weapon or bolts should hit just fine…

    The real question is does an Art need a maxed Int? I don’t think so. A base 16 base int lets you do 8 16 16 16 8 10 for more hp and umd. A base 14 gives even more wiggle room.

    The real question is why not have xbows as a so so option and go Daxe/bastard sword(thf) + full on rune arm? and look a lot more like a battle clr/bard?

  3. @oskar Yeah a multi-mix may be the way to go

    @samius Once the artificer hits 20 then the divine power scrolls become very feasible – they will cast at level 22! Otherwise it is going to be a real hassle to cast one every minute or so. Some won’t mind but I would.

    On the melee suggestion, I dunno, I’m kinda meh about building a battleartificer. Partly because it is a d6 HP class without full BAB but mainly because the Rune Arm removes an entire arm from the fight. You would literally be fighting with one arm tied … well not behind your back, but still … not swinging a weapon either.

    And if you aren’t going to use the Rune Arm … serious meh … just build a bard and be done with it.

    Interesting conversation though. I’m looking forward to doing this on the live servers for real πŸ™‚

  4. Okay, so a few things for the OP.
    #1, You are incorrect about deadly weapons & Insightful stacking. Insightful Strikes as well as Insightful Damage (You left out) both stack with any weapon enchant such as Elemental Weapons, Minerals such as Silver, Alignments such as Good and Deadly Weapons.

    #2, it’s actually not hard to get an artificer to have high enough dex with all their bonuses to not need insightful strikes, and thus allowing them to use insightful damage. +15 to damage per shot and still adding deadly weapons is major.

    If you want to count divine power and divine favor into it. Remember a 20 artificer can cast both of these clickies at level 20, making their duration and effect greater than any non artificer could hope to achieve with the exception of maybe a battle cleric.

    To be honest and real for anyone that has played an artificer and a mechanic (I have both), a crossbow Mechanic cannot touch the crossbow dps potential of an artificer. There are far too many factors that are completely left out of this topic that bear significant value, such as the artificer being able to use rune arms that add up to 2d8 damage to every attack, and we won’t even get into the potential ranged damage when you calculate in the rune arm itself, because that destroys any chance a mechanic would have to create comparable ranged DPS through normal attacks.

  5. I’d like to add, on sneak attacks, a mechanic can produce some pretty good dps and as long as they avoid agro, can come fairly close to an artificer with the repeater alone. I’ve never seen a rogue with that much Int pumped, but 36/38 int on an artificer isn’t really all that hard.

    To continue on my list, the OP also left out Battle Engineer, which adds +2 hit/damage that stacks with anything as well as +2 stacking seeker, not to mention the 6 second machine gun effect 5 times per rest.

    Really, the list goes on and on and on. Like how casting spells or using rune arm can be done during reloads without causing delays in reloading, effectively making you reload while you’re doing something else, like a 1400+ damage blast from tovens hammer or a tactical detonation to add damage while putting them on the ground.

    I have to say, I hear a lot of people that have never played an artificer at cap discuss their potential dps. To those that have an interest in playing one, I urge you not to listen to them. An artificer can easily be one of the highest sustainable dps classes in the game and I honestly believe there isn’t a class more versatile. If not for evasion, they would have made the rogue worthless altogether in any fair comparison.

    If you’re interested in artificers and want to see what a geared artificer can do, please feel free to find me in game on Inspecther on the cannith server. This is a class that has been undervalued and underestimated by those that have never played one since it’s release. I assure you, these people could not be more wrong.

  6. @Malric sorry just now noticed these comments (and thanks for your input!). It is pretty clear in the the compendium, only one infusion can be on a weapon and Insightful Strikes is cast on the weapon. Meaning it will not stack, and if they do, it is not WAI and will (eventually) be corrected. The wiki agrees although that is obviously a much less definitive source.

    I also disagree with your statement that you have to play the class at cap to assess DPS potential. Math is math.

    I’m not trying to slam the class in any way. I completely agree with your statement about class versatility. In fact, I am finally about ready to roll up my own artificer. One or two more things to wrap up in my build and then off I go into my own empirical artificer studies πŸ™‚

What do you think?

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