I had to get Rancyd a new hat so he’d look extra Swashbucklery
Are you curious too? I’ve been wondering what happens when you have a level 17 pure Bard who reconfigures himself for Single Weapon Fighting and the Swashbuckler enhancement tree. And now I know.
My bard, Rancyd Danzig, has been on the shelf seemingly since the level cap was 16. He was a repeater build, bringing the songs and a little plink/plink/plink to parties. He was mainly built to accompany parties in the Shroud, Hound or VoD back when those three raids made up the end game; he was never expected to be successful beyond that limited portfolio. Nor was he. New enhancements came and went without making Rancyd any more effective. Not that he wasn’t good at anything, he was good at some things:
- Excellent at songs and buffing
- Excellent at Fascinate and crowd control
- Excellent at UMD-based wand and scroll use
- Okay at back up healing
- Barely okay at doing ranged damage from a distance
But that wasn’t enough to get Rancyd much playtime. Now though, now we have the Swashbuckler enhancement tree. And Single-Weapon Fighting. Will the combination be enough to turn my bard into a viable melee candidate? Can Rancyd bring the songs and the buffs and the crowd control and also stand in against the bad guys swinging his rapier?
Lets find out.
Stats and Specs
First, a reincarnation to reset his abilities. He isn’t geared for melee, but all we have is all we have: it will have to do. His new stats with gear (and keep in mind he is only level 17):
He swapped feats until he had SWF, ISWF and GSWF. He also swapped in Improved Crit: Piercing.
He took Halfling DEX and Luck and spent all the rest of his AP in the new Swashbuckler tree, enabling CHA-based attacks and damage, specializing in SWF with a buckler, and unlocking Coup De Grace.
Then he ran through the Test Dojo until he found a rapier (Turbulent Epee) and a buckler (one with two augment slots that I don’t bother filling). Together with his newly purchased Lucky Hat, that is about as swashbucklery as he is going to get; I don’t have the patience to try and equip him more specifically.
First let’s just enjoy the speed of the new build.
The Swashbuckler enhancements and SWF add up to a super-fast run speed, and a super-fast attack animation speed. Regardless of how this character does against bad guys, there is no doubt that a SWF Swashbuckler is the ultimate Hunter of Boxes.
The King of the BoxKillers
But no one is going to want a Swashbuckler for crate-smashing. Time to look for actual opponents, an appropriate place to test out his new prowess: how about Missing, a level 15 quest that plays 17 on Elite and can be harder than it looks, with large packs of bad guys that will swarm an unaware solo player? Rancyd is level 17, so is the quest, seems like a fit.
Off we go. The quest starts beautifully; a fight against a pack of dogs goes well, but then this fight was placed there by a particularly devious developer to give one false sense of confidence right before the quest comes crashing in. Or so I’ve always told myself.
Soon I find real opponents: CR21 Flesh Renders
Rancyd skewers Flesh Renders with aplomb – when facing them one at a time
The DPS is problematic versus groups. Rancyd is easily able to Fascinate all of the monsters in a single encounter, but then has to pick them off one at a time; a fine strategy when playing solo but no use at all in groups. The enhancement “Coup De Grace” (no Wiki link available yet) is supposed to allow a chance for Insta-Kill when the opponent is controlled but either it isn’t working yet on Lamannia or Rancyd is very bad at it: he never once successfully used Coup De Grace even though he tried it every time he could.
Note that Rancyd took 100 hit points versus the above Flesh Render. This is something he can certainly heal between fights, but requires a break between fights after every monster.
- Is this due to weaknesses in Rancyd’s build? Probably not, can’t go too wrong with a pure class build that pumps only the class’ prime statistic and Constitution. But maybe.
- Is this due to weaknesses in Rancyd’s gear? That is much more likely, he is rocking whatever I happened to have, and the Turbulent Epee is not the prime choice for DPS. On the other hand, he is not running around in starter gear either. Still, maybe.
- Is this due to inherent weakness in Single Weapon Fighting and the Swashbuckler enhancement tree? I fear maybe, but I am not willing to make that pronouncement yet, not on the basis of a one-hour experiment with a cobbled-together character playing a makeshift gear load out.
Here’s another, better example.
No one wants trouble with Mind Flayers
You can see right away how difficult it is for this build to melee multiple opponents. Rancyd nearly had his brain eaten but is able to get a timely save, run away, and re-Fascinate the bad guys. Also, I did not expect to awaken one Mind Flayer when I was targeting another: I am guessing I did not actually target anyone and was just swinging at whatever was closest. A dangerous tactic when relying on the ability to keep monsters Fascinated.
In the end, Rancyd was defeated. While fighting a large batch of Taken, one at a time, another Mindflayer snuck up behind him and stunned him. The Taken and Mindflayer combined to beat him into a senseless (and one would suppose, brainless) heap.
On the other hand, something as simple as a hireling might have made this completable. So there’s that.
A truer test will come when someone takes a Swashbuckler into an Epic PUG. Good luck, whoever that is, and please let us know how it goes.
Me, I think I’ll wait and see. There is no doubt that Rancyd is improved; the previous version would not have even attempted to solo something elite at-level.
I still have characters that are better at melee, or better at crowd control, or better at buffing, or better at healing. Maybe not in this exact combination, but for now at least, I expect it will be tough for Rancyd to break into the main character rotation. Even though he is much improved over Rancyd 1.0.
🙂 😀 🙂