May 272014

Update 22: Swashbucklers and Single-Weapon Fighting
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.

Swashbuckler Enhancements

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):

STR 19
DEX 14
CON 23
INT 20
WIS 13
CHA 33

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.

Field Trial

First let’s just enjoy the speed of the new build.

Super fast!

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.

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

  5 Responses to “Update 22 Preview – SWF and the Swashbuckler (With Video)”

Comments (5)
  1. I had a go with it on a newly rolled up Bard/fighter. At mid lvls (12-15) it was fun playing when I took the SWF feats and added some of the sonic damage things, and the knock downs and then took care to be blurred and displaced and having enough dodge. In fights I regularly ended up standing “on a pile of mobs” who were tripped and still getting damaged/stunned from the guards and riposte effects.

    I think it can be fun playing this when you have others around you easily picking off what you stun / knock down, and then you can focus on songs and healing / buffing / CC a bit while still doing a bit of DPS. But certainly doubtfull it can hold up well in epics

  2. For nearly seven years, Cseven, my level 13 Bard has been paying his way by taking the role of official go-between to the Lordsmarch Bank in the market. The stars appear to have aligned to signal his run to cap. I will satisfied until end game so long as he can, with gear, handle a fair share of Epic Hard farming duties. Epic Elite is a darker cookie and I will leave the batter of whether he can or should be made a “natural” member of the group to those who make Epic Elite their kitchen. Ty for the Preview. Bad dog sad; “Where did all my boxes go?” πŸ™

  3. Maybe Swashbuckler is meant to be more of a build that’d be more for RPers and less of a practical build?

    (I was gonna have a better comment but I forgot what I was gonna say so I put what I assume was close to what I wanted.)

  4. Very insightful videos for those of us that won’t make to Lamma-land. Thanks.
    I see the Swashbucker as adding more attack versatility but more as a party role, as Bards often are, than anything. If the devs get those last few bugs squashed so that the build can swat things down that are controlled or helpless, great.
    But not all builds are meant to go solo, and this one is likely still one of them. I can see it helping to keep one enemy (say, a miniboss) quite busy while others in party handle the trash hordes or a true boss.

  5. Nice preview Geoff!! I hope that the Coup de Grace does get fixed, assuming if it isn’t working right, and if it is working right I hope it gets adjusted to allow it to be more useful. My halfling bard had also started out being a repeater user but now is dual wielding. He never does a whole lot of damage and I’m still experimenting with him although I don’t see this line as one travel down at the moment. We’ll see though..

What do you think?

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