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A comparison of Ranged Attackers in BG2

Warning: Incoming Wall of Text. Turn back now.



The Archer discussion recently, as well as my most recent Archer charname bringing his quest to a close, inspired me to crunch some numbers to create a base damage comparison between the various ranged classes one might be interested in trying. And since end-game comparisons ignore the entire journey to get there, I made comparisons at three different points: 300k experience, (i.e. fresh out of Chateau Irenicus with maybe one quest under your belt), 2.95m experience, (i.e. the old SoA level cap), and 6.5m experience, (i.e. late-game ToB). I've given each character appropriate gear for their level, and have excluded all ToB items from the first two comparisons, (including things like Firetooth that you could technically grab right away).

I've assumed all characters were imported from BG1 (so stats include tome boosts), and that they choose the good path in Hell, (so -1 dex there, and no +2 strength bonus). And obviously I'm withholding the Lum the Mad boosts until the final comparison. I'm also not writing up any Dart specialists because they're strictly inferior to the Shortbow-users, and I'm not writing up any Axe/Hammer throwers, because they get handily outperformed by the Dagger-tossers, (outside of Azuredge against undead, of course). I did include a Longbow and a non-LCoS crossbow at the 2.95m mark so you could see how much they suck compared to their shortbow/LCoS peers.

Also: yes, these are just damage numbers. No, a character's worth is not solely, or even perhaps primarily, determined by how much damage he can put out. Yes, I'm okay with that.

To avoid too much clutter (lol), I'll put the details of each character in spoiler tags and just list the raw damage per round (DPR) numbers in the post body.


300k Experience

Characters:
Level 9 Elven Archer with 20 dex, Tuigan Shortbow, and Arrows +1
Level 9 Elven Archer with 20 dex, Light Crossbow of Speed, and Bolts +1
Level 9 Half-Orc Kensai with 20 str, 19 dex, and the Boomerang Dagger
Level 9 Halfling Fighter with 20 dex, the Girdle of Hill Giant Strength, Arla's Dragonbane, and +2 bullets

All characters with appropriate Grandmastery


80.5 DPR - Kensai w/ Boomerang Dagger (1 THACO)
56.25 DPR - Archer w/ Tuigan Shortbow (0 THACO)
51.25 DPR - Fighter w/ Arla's Dragonbane (0 THACO)
47.25 DPR - Archer w/ Light Crossbow of Speed (1 THACO)


2.95m Experience

Characters:
All Archers are level 17 Elves with 19 dex and the Gauntlets of Weapon Skill. Bow-wielders have equipped Acid Arrows. Crossbow-wielders are using Bolts of Lightning.
The Kensai is level 19 with 18 dex, the Girdle of Frost Giant Strength, and no gloves, because Kensai.
The Fighter is a level 19 Halfling with 19 dex, gauntlets of Weapon Skill, Sling of Arvoreen, and +2 Bullets
The Fighter>Cleric is a level 13>15 dual with gauntlets of Weapon Skill, Sling of Arvoreen, and +2 Bullets
The Cleric>Fighter is a level 11>17 dual from the Priest of Lathander kit with the same gear
Both cleric duals pre-buff with Righteous Magic and DUHM. Additionally, the Priest of Lathander dual uses Boon of Lathander.

Again, all classes have the relevant grandmastery.


The DPR ranges with the Crossbows correspond to enemies making every save vs. spell and missing every save vs. spell. Actual damage will be somewhere in the middle.

132 DPR - Cleric>Fighter w/ Sling of Arvoreen (-11 THACO)
118 DPR - Kensai w/ Fire Tooth (-12 THACO) (+12 DPR with Kai)
100 DPR - Archer w/ Gesen Shortbow (-13 THACO) (+8 DPR with Called Shot)
97.5 DPR - Archer w/ Tuigan Shortbow (-10 THACO) (+10 DPR with Called Shot)
96 DPR - Fighter>Cleric w/ Sling of Arvoreen (-6 THACO)
90-110 DPR - Archer w/ Light Crossbow of Speed (-9 THACO) (+8 DPR with Called Shot)
86.0 DPR - Archer w/ Strong Arm Longbow (-12 THACO) (+8 DPR with Called Shot)
79.5-94.5 DPR - Archer w/ Giant Hair Crossbow (-11 THACO) (+6 DPR with Called Shot)
76.5 DPR - Fighter w/ Sling of Arvoreen (-12 THACO)

If under the effects of Haste:
165 DPR - Cleric>Fighter w/ Sling of Arvoreen
147.5 DPR - Kensai w/ Fire Tooth (+15 DPR w/ Kai)
128 DPR - Fighter>Cleric w/ Sling of Arvoreen
125 DPR - Archer w/ Gesen Shortbow (+10 DPR w/ Called Shot)
112.5-137.5 - Archer w/ Light Crossbow of Speed (+10)
106-126 - Archer w/ Giant Hair Crossbow (+8)
107.5 - Archer w/ Strong Arm Longbow (+10)
102 DPR - Fighter w/ Sling of Arvoreen
97.5 DPR - Archer w/ Tuigan Shortbow (+10)


6.5m Experience

All Archers are level 29 with 20 dex and Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization, *except* for the Tuigan user, who can do just as well with the regular Gauntlets of Weapon Specialization. All bow-users have Arrows of Acid, all crossbow-users have Bolts of Lightning.
The Kensai is level 34 with the Girdle of Fire Giant Strength, 19 dex, and Fire Tooth dagger. Still no gloves.
The Fighter is a level 34 halfling with Girdle of Fire Giant Strength, 20 dex, Erinne Sling +5, +4 bullets, and the Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization.
The Fighter>Cleric dual is level 13>31 with the same gear as the Halfling fighter, +DUHM and Righteous Magic to reach 25 str and 25 dex.
The Cleric>Fighter dual is level 15>27 with the same gear and buffs, 25 str and 24 dex, plus Boon of Lathander

For consideration with Whirlwind, I've also included an Elven Archer with Erinne Sling +5 and bullets +4, because GWW mitigates the biggest drawback of slings, being the loss of 0.5 APR due to no grandmastery. This is the highest damage output an Archer can get against enemies that require +4 weapons to hit.


I'm assuming all saves are made against Bolts of Lightning at this point, but expect Crossbow users to get a few extra points here and there when a save is failed, (+5 damage per failed save).

162 DPR - Cleric>Fighter w/ Erinne Sling +5 (-19 THACO)
142 DPR - Kensai w/ Fire Tooth (-20 THACO)
126 DPR - Archer w/ Gesen Shortbow (-20 THACO)
122.5 DPR - Fighter>Cleric w/ Erinne Sling +5 (-12 THACO)
114.75 DPR - Archer w/ Light Crossbow of Speed (-16 THACO)
112.5 DPR - Archer w/ Tuigan Shortbow (-17 THACO)
110.25 DPR - Archer w/ Firetooth +5 (-22 THACO)
103.25 DPR - Fighter w/ Erinne Sling +5 (-17 THACO)
If under the effects of Improved Haste, just double all those values.

For spike damage, here's the results with Whirlwind / Greater Whirlwind

360 DPR - Cleric>Fighter w/ Erinne Sling +5
355 DPR - Kensai w/ Fire Tooth +3
335 DPR - Archer w/ Erinne Sling +5
315 DPR - Archer w/ Firetooth +5
295 DPR - Fighter w/ Erinne Sling +5
280 DPR - Archer w/ Gesen Shortbow
255 DPR - Archer w/ Light Crossbow of Speed
225 DPR - Archer w/ Tuigan Shortbow, (though realistically, there's no reason to ever use WW over IH)
N/A - Figher>Cleric dual, (no warrior HLAs)

Key Takeaways for me:
* THACO is a joke. IIRC, Demogorgon has -12 AC. You're pretty much going to hit everything always, sans critical misses.
* Long Bows are clearly the worst, but if you want one for RP purposes, you're really only sacrificing 15-20% damage potential compared to Short Bows. Not necessarily the end of the world. If you want to get one, go with Strong Arm for the sweet +3 damage bonus.
* Slings start out competitive, but they quickly fall way behind. But really, they're about on par with Long Bows, (especially if you're willing to start as a Half Orc and go evil in Hell to hit 24 strength). Plus, a Halfling slinger gets armor, shield, *and* shorty saves, making him the best defensive ranged character. Why you'd need that much defense on a ranged character is another question entirely.
* Kensai deal the best sustained low-maintenance damage, (no or minimal pre-buffing). News at 11. Vhailor's Helm alone is able to put any other ranged character over the top for single encounters. On the other hand, your teammates will appreciate not having to fight for quality gloves.
* I don't know if they've changed the way that ammo stacking works in EE, but I've been overrating Firetooth. It's actually the worst of the four primary Archer weapons, (Tuigan, Gesen, LCoS), though it becomes the best when Whirlwinding. At the same time, I've been underrating Gesen's a lot. That 1-8 lightning damage is huge.
* Tuigan's is such a beautiful little bow. It can easily be the first item you grab out of Chateau Irenicus and the last weapon you ever use. It can't match the others in spike damage, but it doesn't care about the Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization, it doesn't care about Whirlwind, it's great with Smite, Critical Strike, Greater Deathblow. Great bow.
* Boon of Lathander is amazing. I really only included the Priest of Lathander on a lark, and he wound up running away with it. Prebuffing is a hassle and you really only get a turn before it all wears off again, but who would have thought that an oddball Cleric>Fighter dual would be the most damaging ranged attacker in the game? Someone other than me, that's who. I generally hate late duals, but the dual from Lathander to Fighter at level 15 strikes me as a fun solo. Upgraded Skeleton Warriors to tank for you, seventh level spells, and not too long of a slog to get your levels back if solo.
* The common theme here is anything that gives you extra APR will cause you to dominate damage comparisons. Again, it's not like this is exactly news or anything.
* The best argument for making a ranged specialist as your charname, IMO, is just how terrible all of the NPCs are at it. At 6.5m XP, Mazzy is only dealing 90 DPR with Gesen's, about 30% less than you do. Actually, at that point, Anomen + Erinne Sling is the best ranged NPC, provided you don't mind pre-buffing.
* I dismissed darts at the beginning of the post, but I actually think the Crimson Dart is really useful for Rasaad in the early levels to keep him from getting his fool self killed. And K'logarath (+4 throwing axe) can be a useful fallback for a ranged Kensai against enemies immune to +3 weapons; when Whirlwinding, it's virtually identical to Fire Tooth.
* Having just played an Elven Archer from start to finish through the saga, I can confirm they're totally viable. They trivialize BG1 and the first half of SoA, and they're a great class choice for anyone who's not a fan of excessive micromanagement.
SkatanAerakarJasperRaithNuinlunarJuliusBorisovArctodussemiticgodcreateaccountCrevsDaakbob_vengNoobaccaCloutiercomebackhomeluskanislandkingbiffyclangerthespaceJidokwonShikaoAndreaColombo

Comments

  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 389
    No Haer'Dalis with Melf Minute Meteors/Offensive Spin? Blasphemy.
    CrevsDaak
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761
    Nuin said:

    No Haer'Dalis with Melf Minute Meteors/Offensive Spin? Blasphemy.

    With the gauntlets of weapon skill, that's 70 or 84 DPR, (I forget if Offensive Spin can get you to 6 APR with MMM; My sorceress can attest that Haste will push you past the 5-attack cap with them, at least in BG1). I forget exactly how they work THACO-wise, but you're looking at a base 10, (reached before the end of SoA), -5 from Melf's, -2 from offensive spin, -1 from the gloves, -2 from dex, for ~0 THACO. It's good enough, but it's a far cry from the virtual auto-hit the other ranged attackers will get.

    If you bard-song stack, those numbers shoots up in a hurry. But if you bard-song stack, every other ranged attacker's number shoots up in a hurry, too. In fact, stacking bard songs puts the other ranged attackers even further ahead, because however many Haer'Dalis can stack on himself, the other ranged attackers can stack that many +1.

    A level 18/30 Archer>Cleric (or a level 18 Kensai dual) using Energy Blades could deal 171 DPR with auto-hit THACO levels, which is better than any of the listed ranged character straight up, but worse than any of the listed ranged characters under the effects of improved haste. Righteous Magic only bumps that to 184.5.

    Or you could just barely squeeze a level 24/25 Kensai>Cleric under the cap for 189 DPR / 202.5 DPR with Righteous Magic (or Kai). Which, again... not really worth it given that it's outclassed even by the Halfling Slinger with Improved Haste. Really, the biggest draw of Energy Blades would be the ability to stack Called Shot to strength drain and destroy enemy saves. But if that's what you want, just use Tuigan and Improved Haste.

    I never use Fire Seeds, but I believe they carry the Archer's damage boost over the whole area of effect, (presumably the Kensai's, too, if he/she can use them). If so, that would bring their average damage per hit to... 17. Huzzah. Really, the only reason to ever use Fire Seeds is if you want to abuse Poison or Greater Deathblow.
    CrevsDaakthespace
  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 389
    edited March 10
    Still, it's a combo readily available as early as BG1 and it really doesn't matter that other people's ranged attacks are getting buffed too - Haer'Dalis made that happen, that extra damage wouldn't exist if he wasn't around and for all intents and purposes that damage might as well count towards his contribution.
    As for stacking improved bard songs, that's more the bard's version of the wizard's Project Image/Timestop spammage or the wild mage's power of word:reload spammage - it's there as an option but people generally avoid these methods unless they're feeling sadistic.

    You could bring that THAC0 further down with potions of heroism/power, gear like like the Pale Green Ioun Stone/Bracers of Archery, among other things like spells.

    Anyway the bottomline is that while the blade may definitely not be the best ranged attacker by itself, it holds its own well and it's definitely the more appealing option if you're going after increased ranged damage in general. That has to account for something, doesn't it?

    Edit:
    LOL, and yeah for some reason most of us really do seem to keep forgetting about the Big Metal Unit in these kinds of discussions.
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761

    If you're playing a trilogy run, the highest of all would be an Archer with Firetooth and the Scorcher Ammunition, which grants 5 APR and strikes twice due to using the Agannazar's Scorcher projectile. With Improved Haste, it effectively grants 20 attacks per round.

    This is true, but that's extremely late-game and not sustainable damage. Plus, more relevantly, I don't know the numbers in question and can't calculate a comparison. ;)

    I've been playing since release but am pretty new to the EE environment, so I'm not sure which of the more egregious cheese effects still work. I believe Firetooth has been nerfed, (I think it used to deal 2d8 when you had actual bolts equipped, making it the no-brainer end-game archer weapon), but there used to be all sorts of ways to cheese your way to extra APR, (the easiest of which involved MMM and would happen pretty frequently just through routine usage of the spell), any one of which could be combined with one of the high-damage, low-APR builds to juice the results a bit.
  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 1,667
    cleric>fighter ftw
    i've always advocated for that dual
    SomeSort
  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 389
    edited March 10
    At one point it seemed the EE devs were dead set on removing all things cheese, until they ultimately ended up changing the meta which itself led to people simply coming up with new meta-relevant cheesy tactics.

    I think it was at that point that they finally realized that it's really all just a neverending cycle and the point is to simply make sure such tactics don't get out of hand. And then they let things be.
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,002
    Self-policing is the only feasible way to address cheese - and perhaps the only sensible one, too. I for one trust myself to not use what I consider too much, and don't really need anyone else to direct me in determining what that is.
    Arctodussemiticgod
  • Mantis37Mantis37 Member Posts: 297
    What other ways of comparing characters are there other than damage? To be honest since I play no-reload survivability and disruption of enemy attacks also tend to be important (not to mention the rpg element).
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,002
    I find damage output potential a useful metric, but I agree that there are other factors to consider. A Fighter/Cleric hybrid versus a pure Fighter (Kensai), for example, may be preferable despite lower damage potential simply for the added buff utility, Turn Undead, etc. However, many of these extra factors are difficult to quantify and often subjective in their "value" - damage at least can be reduced to numbers relatively easily.

    As always, apply intellect to data. Don't just take things at face value without critical scrutiny.
    ThacoBell
  • CloutierCloutier Member Posts: 188
    An added benefit of slings is the ability to wield a shield. Which makes slings stand out, according to the opening post, as the powergaming champions.
    semiticgod
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,002
    Cloutier said:

    An added benefit of slings is the ability to wield a shield. Which makes slings stand out, according to the opening post, as the powergaming champions.

    They're definitely on my hot list for testing in my setup, particularly because I really love the 100-damage energy sling from IR. Verdict's still out on how good exactly they are in my game.
  • biffyclangerbiffyclanger Member Posts: 198
    This gem needs to be stickied!
    thespaceAerakar
  • JidokwonJidokwon Member Posts: 196
    edited June 27
    Thank you for this thread. I hated how overpowered ranged weapons were in BG1 and I always thought that they were pretty bad compared to melee in BG2. Because of this, I've really only given pure casters and priests ranged weapons to have something to do when they didn't have any useful spells to be casting, though. It's nice seeing threads like this that actually show the numbers.

    How do these ranged numbers compare to their melee counterparts? Not counting the Archers, where would those same PCs be in the front lines?

    What would be sustained and burn numbers that the joinable NPCs are capable of? (I think that I consider sustained a bit differently than the OP here, as I'd only consider long term buffs for sustained DPS. Short term buffs, even if able to memorize a handful, would only be considered for Burns IMO.)

    Post SoD, 500k experience is the real starting point for SoA (not sure why it ever 89k vs 161k, unless SoA came out after TotSC, but I digress here). I have two Kensais ready to rock BG2EE. After hearing so much about Kensais dualing to mages, I'm breaking down to compare for myself the differences of dualing at 9th vs 13th level. Both will start with 19 strength, but after reading this thread, I'm reconsidering making both of them ranged now. I've heard good things about berserker duals, too. Are all of the pure fighter types capable of dualing able to put out the same ranged numbers as a non Kai Kensai? (or melee for that matter?)

    Thank you again for starting and to all those who have contributed to this thread.

    Aerakar
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,002
    Jidokwon said:

    After hearing so much about Kensais dualing to mages, I'm breaking down to compare for myself the differences of dualing at 9th vs 13th level. Both will start with 19 strength, but after reading this thread, I'm reconsidering making both of them ranged now. I've heard good things about berserker duals, too. Are all of the pure fighter types capable of dualing able to put out the same ranged numbers as a non Kai Kensai?

    While it varies with setup, of course, I personally believe quite strongly that dualing at 13 rather than 9 is almost never worth the investment. You get nice bonuses, yes, but the downtime is MASSIVE, and compared to what you get in the end it's just not a hassle I'd be willing to go through.

    As for other ranged Fighters, since DD can't dual that leaves Wizard Slayer and Berserker. WS of course does not have damage bonuses of any kind, while Berserker does have some during Enrage. However, neither will match the Kensai's static bonuses. That doesn't mean they don't have other interesting perks, of course. Berserker, for example, tends to be a lot tougher than a Kensai - and that can very well translate into more damage when you can position yourself better, or don't have to run away.

    If you're doing a dedicated ranged dual, the class you dual TO probably matters more than what you dual FROM - particularly if you dual at lvl 9, where kit bonuses are still fairly small.
    ThacoBell
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,002
    Should also be noted that piercing/missile resistance are the most common physical damage resistance types, which means all ranged weapons are at an inherent disadvantage (though it doesn't always apply).
    semiticgod
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761

    Should also be noted that piercing/missile resistance are the most common physical damage resistance types, which means all ranged weapons are at an inherent disadvantage (though it doesn't always apply).

    I'd originally mentioned that in passing in my last post, but it was taken out when I edited for brevity.

    Yes, I edit for brevity, why do you ask? ;)
    Grond0AndreaColomboPaulGreystoke
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