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Bows can actually be pretty baller


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Many thanks to everyone out there making comments on optimization and how-tos. I've read most of them (and have for years on other spidweb games), so kudos to the many contributors who are too numerous to mention by name. Cheers!

 

Some folks were a little downer on missles in this recent romp, and since I love to play devil's advocate, I started investigating. I'm having a lot of fun with an archery focus so I thought I would share.

 

Everybody is level 33 right now and are reasonably focused and optimized. I used the editor to "re-organize" the skills at some point once I learned how the game mechanics work, but I haven't added any extra skill points. I'm playing on "Normal."

 

I'm running a 3 nephil (nephlim?) party with basically DW Fighter, Priest 15/Mage 7, Mage 16/Priest 8

 

Although nobody is primarily focused as an "archer" per se, I've beefed up the archery skills and dex a bit across the board. There's a great cloak you can make very early which gives +1 sharpshooter and +1 sniper. I made 2 of those and have been wearing them pretty much the entire game. Cloak of bolts is up constantly. Also, everyone is nephil, and there's probably an archery bonus for that. I use the bows that do the most damage and not the ones with lightning/acid, etc.

 

All 3 characters use bows as a primary attack and I regulalry see strikes of 90+ and I've see up to 130 per arrow. Before the defenses are included pretty much every shot is dealing out 500+.

 

I can pretty much choose my targets all over the battlefield and take out whoever I like in whatever order. When it gets to be a big battle, I break out some spells. Since I just use archery most of the time, and everyone has bit of first aid, we are almost always walking around with full spell energy. I haven't used a potion for a very long time.

 

Another thing I've noticed is that in addition to a resistance to "physical damage," some enemies have a additional resistance to "melee damage" (a similar effect is granted by some items), but nobody appears to have a resistance to "missle damage" I can have my DW fighter strike 2 blows for 20 damage, or step away and shoot for 70.

 

In addition, sniper (which some had panned) is actually kind of cool for this build. I haven't really invested in it, but it's a numbers game: when I use the bows so often, it happens pretty frequently. I can shoot 2 arrows, or 1 arrow and a spell/item. The random "curses" are OK, but that extra turn is niice. It's like a free haste. You can get 1 point from the cloak and I believe there's a trainer as well. My 2 spellcasters have it around 5.

 

OK, well just wanted to share that as a fun alternative to spells and melee. I didn't really get into the archery until later in the game so I don't have any feel for how it would have worked out in the early parts, but I think that "cloak of bolts" is available pretty early. plus the archery cloak(s) I mentioned you can make in Formello.

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Some technical points only:

 

Cloak of Bolts and Cloak of Blades become available at the same time. You can get level 3 Bolts a bit earlier though, and in AEFTP at least Bolts was slightly stronger in percent bonus (though not in ultimate impact) than the other two damage cloaks.

 

It's not clear if the "melee damage" protection from items is restricted to melee damage. That needs testing. My guess is that it's simply a physical armor bonus that (unlike armor) does not contribute half its strength to elemental resists. But regardless, there are not any enemies that have it, per se. It's an ability that is only conferred by items, not skills, and is not natively available to any NPC or PC. Enemies have a single physical resistance stat, that affects bows as much as melee weapons. Your DW fighter's performance probably reflects on his stats (for example, more Dex than Str), rather than the enemy in question.

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You're right the damage would be higher with more focus on hand-to-hand skills, but there is a great advantage at being able to do the damage from across the room (and for free), not to mention avoiding all manner of noxious effects from monsters which damage you back when you strike them in melee.

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Hey, I specifically avoided making that argument here since it was clear you'd already heard it :) I'm just saying the comparison you made with the DW damage is misleading.

 

I agree with you that bows are not worthless compared to melee/pole, at least for party members towards the rear. The points you make above are legit. (Although the last one almost never comes up in A2CS.) The real problem is the magic/weapons balance, not the melee/bows balance.

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I know what you're talking about. I never really found archery to be lacking so much that I would even consider not having an archer/melee weapon user in the game. That is always one character in my setup of polearm/missile user, archer/melee weapon user, pure priest, and pure mage. That has been my party setup throughout the second iteration of Exile/Avernum, and in the most recent remakes. I always play on the hardest difficulty setting as well. Does insisting on having a suboptimal party make the game harder? Most likely. Would I be willing to do what hardcore min-maxers do and have 2 mages, a mage/priest, and a priest (and maybe a dual-wielder or a pure tank that does nothing but sit there and take hits)? Never.

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Problem with Archery is that it doesn't offer anything unique that Wizards couldn't do much better. It doesn't have a unique role in the party; no interesting niche to cover, it just does ranged damage that is of an inferior damage type. Unfortunately I have no solution to offer as a way to make it more appealing either. I guess the (most) obvious way forward would be to give them some form of AoE and snares like what the Empire Archers use, but that wouldn't be very exciting either. Then Archers would only be lite versions of Wizards and that's not all that interesting.

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and for the record, I didn't really "focus" on archery either. In fact, for the DW fighter, the sword skills are much higher than the bow skills! For whatever reason, bows just do WAY more damage in his case.

 

i wonder how much damage could be done with a real focus on missle over melee.... in this case, it was developed as a backup attack and it's often better, and the mage's arrow is often better than the damage from his firebolt too.

 

Could it be the nephlim bonus is a big factor at high levels? dunno...

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What are his stats? Str, Dex, Melee Weapons, Bows, Blademaster, Sharpshooter, Dual Wielding; any relevant traits; any +X% to damage items; and did you have any Cloak spells active; and what weapons were equipped? The Nephil bonus is +10 to the missile damage percentile bonus.

 

There will be a stat-based explanation for the damage difference.

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