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BrownieMix

A6 - Dual Wielding?

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One of the more significant changes this game has is the ability to dual wield. In previous Avernum games, I had a Slith pole fighter, and three kitties - one archer/tool use, one priest, and one mage. I choose the Slith because the poles were amazingly powerful, while the swords were not as much.

 

The ability to wield two swords at once, however, throws everything out of whack. I don't know which is more powerful anymore. Specifically, I'm struggling with:

 

-Do I choose swords over pole weapons? Are swords more powerful now?

 

-If I do go swords, do I choose a Slith or a Nephil as my fighter? Slith get 2 points in pole weapons, which is a great starting point for Battle Disciplines, and they supposedly get a higher starting HP. Nephil, on the other hand, have a smaller XP penalty, get bows right off, and have nifty defensive bonuses.

 

Anyone have any general thoughts?

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Sliths get a bonus in Polearms. Nephils get exactly the same bonus in Bows and Throwing. Since each point of Bows and each point of Throwing counts as 1/2 a point of Polearms or Melee, they get the same Battle Discipline benefit.

 

—Alorael, whose solution is to stick with one sword and one spear fighter. He's not sure it's optimal, but he likes having a use for the magical spears he stumbles across.

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hmmm...you make an excellent point. I guess I'm used to having a dedicated archer, but I could go dedicated sword/dedicated pole and have everyone use bows as a secondary attack....

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Ephesos   

I went with a dual-sword tank (surprisingly effective), and actually wound up not using any of the spears I found. By the end of the game, even my slith mage was holding a sword. The enchantments are just so much better.

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Dual wielding has a serious penalty in hit chance and damage, which takes a while to overcome. Early in the game, things may be easy enough to hit that it doesn't matter. But I found that fairly soon it got too hard to turn down the benefit of some fine but heavy shields that turn up. But then once you get good gear, and pump up DW skill and Quick Action, it dual wielding can start to pay off again.

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I went with one of each and gave shields to my spellcasters. There are only a few fights even on torment where a dual wielder can't hit all the time if you have sufficient strength, melee weapons, and blademaster.

 

Synergy pointed out that if you have enough characters attacking the same target with dual wielding and using stunning blades, the opponent will never get to retaliate. He really liked giving all his characters dual wielding. This won't work against some scripted opponents.

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Ephesos   

I wasn't aware there were even that many stunning blades in the game... and anyway, I prefer jinx blades. Then it doesn't matter as much if the enemy hits you. And besides, the curse effects are pretty. And laggy.

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Istara   

I will just point out that you will find yourself really torn between Dual-Wielding and using a shield. There are a huge amount of insanely amazing shields.

 

Jeff really needs to enable three-armed characters wink

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Lilith   

Hmm. Just how inferior are polearms to swords in this game? Now I'm almost thinking of having two sword fighters so one can dual-wield and one can use shields.

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The best polearm is the Jade Halbred (20-80 damage), next is the Slith Bloodspear (17-68 damage).

 

Best sword is radiant soulblade (16-48 damage), then there are 4 swords that do 11-33 damage.

 

Dual wielding real makes swords better than pole weapons. The chance for extra strikes with quick action add to total damage. If you use two bonus AP items, battle frenzy or some other haste item, and the haste spell, then you have a chance at 3 double attacks with your 15 AP per round.

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I dunno; my first party was deliberately a mindless default build with little effort at optimizing anything, but FWIW my slith pole-wielder was doing significantly more damage than my swordsman throughout most of the game. My swordsman did eventually catch up, but I had also given him some better gear. This might also have been because Jeff pumped dual wielding near the end, though, so my experience may be out of date now.

 

There are quite a few good pole arms available rather early in the game, and the swords don't really keep up; but near the end of the game you're suddenly inundated with lots of great swords. So I don't think pole arms are significantly outclassed. Just the fact that you can get a free bonus to them by playing a slith probably makes them still worthwhile.

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SoT, you mentioned that dual wielding has "a serious penalty in hit chance and damage." It really has a damage penalty? Presumably it can't be too high. After all, there can't be much point to trading a shield for a second sword if it won't increase your damage noticeably.

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The off hand attack is -5% chance to hit with dual wielding reducing the penalty 1% per level.

 

I think the damage penalty is about 1/3 but I never ran a comparison.

 

The only place in the demo area where you can't hit everything with a decent fighter build is the mage in the inn east of the Castle.

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Øther   

In my game, so far I have two fighters, both duel wielders, and so far its working very well for me.

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I'm assuming you meant -50%. Actually, I think that's what the penalty was in Exile, too. Does the Dual Wielding skill do anything other than increase your to-hit chance by 1%? Because if not, it would seem to be dramatically less useful than just putting more points in Melee Weapons.

 

If you take for granted that the damage penalty is in fact 1/3, we end up with comparable damage of 2 * 2 * 2/3 = 2.66 for dual-wielded melee weapons, versus 2.5 for pole weapons. This is in line with SoT's observations that dual-wielding isn't all that different from just using a spear. However, it doesn't take any special investment to dual-wield either, and you do get access to the ancillary-effect swords. So if the damage reduction is indeed 1/3, it sounds like one pole fighter and one Drizzt clone is indeed the way to go.

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Tests are in! And as usual, our theories are not quite right. And as usual, more testing is probably warranted.

 

I ran two tests. Both involved attacking the first NPC in the game with the first weapons in the game -- those "3-6" daggers. [i recorded damage BEFORE armor, that is, I added together the damage done with the damage blocked.] Each run, 7 in all, involved 20 successful attacks. I know that's not enough to be statistically bulletproof (hi, Thuryl) but it should give us a vague idea of what direction to look in.

 

I am suspicious that the daggers were a limiting factor; see below.

 

DUAL WIELDING AND TO-HIT

 

To-hit scores with 2 points of Strength and no Melee Weapons or Blademaster were expectedly low. For single wielding they were 28%, but for dual wielding they fluctuated between 13%, 18%, 23%, and 28%. With 0 DW they were often 13% and never 28%; with 20 DW they seemed to always be 28%. Given that this range of 15% is far off from the estimates of others (Randomizer's 50%) and that the weapon I was using had a bonus level of 3, I am suspicious that what dual wielding really does is remove the weapon to-hit bonus, then give a chance -- greatly increaed by DW skill -- to regain some or all of that bonus.

 

 

DUAL WIELDING AND DAMAGE

 

Let's begin with my data:

 

Test 1: Level 1, 6 Strength, 9 Melee Weapons.

00 SW: Avg 22.50, Range 16-28

00 DW: Avg 18.14, Range 10-26

02 DW: Avg 19.00, Range 11-26

 

00 DW / 00 SW = 0.80

 

Test 2: Level 61, 2 Strength, 20 Melee Weapons.

00 SW: Avg 27.35, Range 21-36

00 DW: Avg 21.55, Range 15-30

10 DW: Avg 27.00, Range 19-33

20 DW: Avg 29.30, Range 21-37

 

00 DW / 00 SW = 0.79

 

The good news is that, however paltry the data set, it is at least well-behaved, particularly the single-wielding to unskilled dual-wielding damage ratio. A penalty of 20% to damage seems pretty likely. This changes our formula above:

 

Poles Avg / Lvl = 2.5 * 1.0 * 1.0 = 2.5

Melee Avg / Lvl = 2.0 * 2.0 * 0.8 = 3.2

 

This makes swords more attractive. The other thing of note is that Dual Wielding skill did increase damage significantly. At least in this trial, 10 points was enough to counteract most of the penalty.

 

N.B.: there could well be other factors this test did not account for, such as weapon type -- I am suspicious of that one. So, we can hazard guesses based on this data but not ironclad conclusions.

 

That said -- given that the Dual Wielding skill is relatively cheap and easy to access, and that there doesn't *seem* to be much advantage to maxing it out, EW and DT still probably beat Ambidextrous. However, dual wielded blades now compete with and possibly outshine magic in terms of damage output, when you take Quick Action into account:

 

2.0 * 2.0 * 1.0 * 1.5 = 6.0 (rough estimate with 10 DW and 10 QA)

 

Compare to about 3.25 for Poles with QA, and 3 or 3.5 for spells. Admittedly Pole users can get the Slith bonus and save skill points on DW, but that simply won't make up the difference between 3.25 and nearly 6.0.

 

BUT ALSO

The SW numbers were not what we would expect. Given the assumption we've made since A4 about the damage formulae being simple, we would expect a maximum range of 1-2 * (2 + 6 + 9) or 17-34, with an average of 25.5, for the first test, and a max range of 1-2 * (2 + 2 + 20) or 24-48, with an average of 36, for the second test. But the averages were lower: 22.5 and 27.4... it appears that Strength and Melee Weapons do not add to damage as simply as we thought they did. It may be more like Nethergate: Resurrection where they add at differing proportions. More testing is required -- this would be very advantageous to figure out!

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Update on the last issue. After some more (paltry) tests, it looks like Strength and Melee Weapons do have identical effects (haven't tested Blademaster). I also have a guess on the actual damage formula. Again, this could be off -- paltry data -- but it fits the data I have very well:

 

Damage before armor = Weapon damage + Skill damage

 

Weapon damage = Weapon multiplier * Weapon bonus

 

Skill damage = Weapon multiplier * Sum of all relevant skills * 0.75

 

This also fits the pattern we noticed with Unlock Doors in A5, which makes me suspect it applies to spells as well. Neat!

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I never said that the difference in the two dual wielding attacks was 50%. I got the 5% to hit difference based on my memory of two encounters where there were significant dodging against weapons. The last one is about 250-300% and really is interesting.

 

I wished I had known dual wielding skill increased the damage so much, but that was a recent addition during beta testing and Jeff was vague about the change except to say it would be better.

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Lilith   

One slight disadvantage of dual wielding is that the Well-Aimed Blow and Mighty Blow disciplines only apply to your first hit, so you don't get the full damage increase that a pole user would get. On the other hand, how often are you going to be using those particular disciplines?

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Anyone know what the weight requirement is to use a weapon in your off hand? In other words, what's the heaviest weapon you can use - 4 lb. ? 5? I noticed there's no way to boost that, even if you add strength....

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Thuryl -- Even then, if we go with the above numbers,

 

MB + Poles = 3.25 * 2.0 = 6.50

MB + Blades = (3.0 * 2.0) + 3.0 = 9.00

 

WAB + Poles = 3.25 * 1.5 = 4.88

WAB + Blades = (3.0 * 1.5) + 3.0 = 7.5

 

Gah, there's a weight requirement?!? That potentially changes things. If the off-hand weapons are limited to very weak ones, the formulae ain't égal.

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Whew! The weight restriction is 7.0 or under. That bans the nonmagical broadswords and waveblades as well as the Blessed Broadsword, the Venomous Blade, and Demonslayer. However, all the other good swords are available for off-hand use, including the Flaming, Oozing, and Frozen Blades, the Radiant Soulblade, the Ghostly Blade, the Stunning Blade, and the Discipline Blade. So it's essentially irrelevant.

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Thanks to this thread, I'm feeling strangely impatient for the Windows version so I can dual-wield again.

Originally Posted By: Ephesos
I went with a dual-sword tank (surprisingly effective)
I did that a lot with E3 & BoE; mowed down everything that moved.

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A dual wielding fighter is really effective. It actually makes swords fun again instead of primarily being a meat shield for spellcasters. Even the difference in armor from using an extra sword instead of a shield can be decreased over the course of the game using hardiness and luck.

 

At the end all my characters had 83 to 88% armor and resistances in the 60-80% range.

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Man! You can dual wield all those good magic swords? That potentially changes a lot. I thought you were restricted to shortswords.

 

On the other hand, most of those great swords are only available quite late in the game. Maybe I just didn't look in the right places, but I spent most of the game with a blessed broadsword, and only quite near the end picked up the nice rainbow set of multicolored magic swords, which really made melee with Aldous start to seem like Queer Eye for the Straight Blade.

 

(One-sword-fits-all is so 20th level! You need to start asking, What color goes best with a Rotting Shambler?)

 

Edit: hot damn, it's true. Radiant Soulblade and Oozing Blade together. Eat your heart out, Drzzt.

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Keep in mind you can wield the regular Blessed Broadswords et al. with your primary hand. Further calculations -- cheat-levelling two PCs up to around level 32 (for the lower XP penalty character): one DT EW Nephil DW, one DT EW Slith pole-fighter. Gave them the best weapons and pumped them full of skills, Blademaster of 20, Dual Wielding where appropriate (taking care to give the slith extra attack skills with those pts) etc.

 

Expected average damage for the Nephil, not counting QA or Proficiencies or armor: 16-48 + (36d3 * 0.75) + 11-33 + (36d3 * 0.75) = 162 + acid drip.

 

Expected average damage for the Slith, not counting QA or Proficiencies or armor: 20-80 + (41d4 * 0.75) = 128 + acid drip.

 

So dual wielding does more damage in this practical simulation too, although the difference isn't particularly gross.

 

That said, if you go with lots of melee fighters, the Jade Halberd is preferable to a 3rd dual-wielder if only for the acid drip (and its significant protective powers). It's nice enough that it's a pity to not have a pole user at all, really -- there must be a way to work them into most any party...

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Actually, I just started a new game after having just gotten to Spire, with the primary reason being that my DW Nephil was just not cutting it. I don't know whether it was the way I built the character, or something I just made up, but my pole user was consistently hitting more and doing more damage. It got to be so bad that I decided I really wanted to try two pole users, which is what I'm doing now. I haven't finished the demo part yet, but I can definitely say the two pole users are treating me very nicely.

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Lilith   

Mind you, the comparisons assumed endgame equipment and some Dual Wielding skill. Dual wielding is markedly less impressive at the start of the game when you're tooling around with one broadsword, one short sword and a penalty to hit and damage. It's even possible to actually miss things on higher difficulty levels!

 

An interesting oddity: the Blessed Shortsword is actually too heavy to be dual-wielded. Why is all blessed equipment so damn heavy, anyway?

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Originally Posted By: Thuryl
An interesting oddity: the Blessed Shortsword is actually too heavy to be dual-wielded. Why is all blessed equipment so damn heavy, anyway?


Because Jeff didn't start lowering the weight until Geneforge 5 for puresteel equipment. He carried over the entire item list from Avernum 5 and had to be reminded to fix items to make them work properly in Avernum 6. Tinker's crystals used to try to remove magic locks for the no longer there mage spell unlock.

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Yes, usually Blessed equipment is very light. I am about half or so through the game and I have a dual wielding priest who is very dexterous, good with dual wielding, melee weapons, and strength. He is a knockout fighter, actually one of my best.

 

-Ni.

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VCH   

So does the dual wielding skill increase damage or just reduce you penalty to hit? Because I have no problem hitting things so if that's all this skill does I shouldn't waste points on it right?

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Lilith   

Dual Wielding also increases damage. Having about 10 points of it essentially negates the damage penalty from dual-wielding.

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Dual Wielding is worth putting points into, but isn't really a priority -- the damage increase is less than what you'll get out of comparable investment in basic attack skills, in Quick Action, and even in Anatomy.

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So... what's the verdict? Should I raise dual wield past 10? Somehow my melee fighter has been edging out my pole fighter for damage since early game. Should I have my slith dual wield melee weapons until he gets the jade halberd?

 

Also, what are two good weapons to dual wield by the end of the Abyss? I sold my stunning blade, unfortunately, so I use a blessed broadsword and the discipline blade. I still have the bonding knife.

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When I tested, I could only find a very small damage increase for raising DW beyond 10, so other skills are probably better. And yeah, a proper DW melee build *will* outdamage a slith pole fighter.

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Lilith   
Originally Posted By: [Google Bot
]So... what's the verdict? Should I raise dual wield past 10? Somehow my melee fighter has been edging out my pole fighter for damage since early game. Should I have my slith dual wield melee weapons until he gets the jade halberd?

Also, what are two good weapons to dual wield by the end of the Abyss? I sold my stunning blade, unfortunately, so I use a blessed broadsword and the discipline blade. I still have the bonding knife.


I really like the Bonding Knife as a secondary weapon for a dual-wielder, but make sure you don't get too dependent on it: you'll eventually want to let go of it for something better, and this will hurt you if you've been neglecting to raise Endurance with skill points. As your primary weapon, take the quest to drive Roark off his farm and take his sword, if you haven't already. It's a Blessed Broadsword.

Once you're done with the Abyss, head to the far northeast of the Eastern Gallery. There's a tough fight with some sliths up there, but you can probably handle it, and one of the rewards is the Frozen Blade. This is the first broadsword that's light enough to use as a secondary weapon, and it also curses enemies. After you get it, you basically want to be wielding two broadswords all the time, unless you have a very good reason not to.

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