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Best Backstabber?

ZagaciousZagacious Member Posts: 55
I've always pretty much ignored backstabbing through all my of my runthroughs, so I wanted to make a character built mostly around backstabbing. The optimal choices seem to be Elf or Shorties, and either Assassin, F/T, M/T, or F/M/T

I'm gonna talk a little about what I think of each combo, but I've only really tried out Assassin fully for backstabbing purposes, then I'd like anyone to share your thoughts on each Class/Kit for backstabbing purposes.


Assassin - Up to 4x Backstab multiplier by the end of BG 1 EE, Plus the poison weapons. However, I found the backstab successful hit rate to be very low, especially for Plate and Above enemies. Constantly had to abuse Invisibility since Hide in Shadows doesn't seem to work that well even with > 100 Skill. Enemies with high AC are pretty much 90% immune to backstab since you rarely hit them.

F/T - This one has a lower Backstab multiplier, but I would think the improved weapon proficiencies, fighter thac0, and fighter attacks per round would make this better at backstabbing than Assassin, but I haven't tried yet.

Any M/T or F/M/T combo: You get the added bonus of casting spells to make backstabbing easier, but I prefer to just have another separate Mage to do this for me.

C/T - There are a select few Cleric spells that can make backstabbing more reliable/better, but I'd still rather have a separate Cleric/Fighter or something to boost me up. The only exception to this C/T and M/T rule is that some spells only apply to yourself


Also, include any tips and tricks you use for backstabbing- I know there's a lot of spells like Invisibility and Mislead that can make backstabbing a lot more reliable, but I'm sure there's a few I haven't thought of before.

Edit:

I just realized it was possible to backstab while wearing a shield, I figured it would disable all thieving skills, this makes it a little less risky to go in for backstabs near groups of enemies. As long as you don't need the melee damage aside from backstabbing it can be useful
Post edited by Zagacious on
Aerakar

Comments

  • ZagaciousZagacious Member Posts: 55
    Also include what your favorite/best weapons for backstabbing are. I know Staves are supposed to be the best but I find that kind of cheesy so I use Long Swords with the +Elf bonuses
    OrlonKronsteenDaevelon
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member Posts: 1,586
    edited April 6
    I prefer Short swords and clubs but mainly because of the look of the weapons. Covers the different damage resistant creatures. Rogue Rebalancing adds the upgraded SS of BS (+5 in hands of thief PLUS BStab multiplier increased by 1). A nice club in SoD adds a chance of knockout on a backstab.
    I tend to prefer using the timer method, switch weapons right before the backstab so it starts the timer to be able to hide again, count off the seconds in your head THEN backstab. Better to run and hide faster again.

    Shadowdancer almost got plain boring using that method, Id walk alone right into a group of enemies with the cloak of ND and just methodically stand there and wipe them all out, one by one, no need for running to re-hide. Mummies, mind flayers, spellcasters, whatever. See invisible critters were the only real dangerous ones.
    Post edited by Zaghoul on
    Aerakar
  • St. AndrewSt. Andrew Member Posts: 85
    Katanas have the best damage for backstabbing.
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 338
    My preference is for an elf fighter/thief or stalker and my weapons of choice are scimitars (good ones throughout the series), clubs and katanas (great one in BG2). My choices are mainly based on flavor rather than power gaming but they're effective, too.

    I agree with you on the assassin's low thaco. I didn't really notice it until I tried fighter/thief, but now I'm not sure if I'll go back to assassin.

    I barely have the patience to level two classes, so I could never last with a F/M/T, but they're very powerful. I like the mage/thief combo but I don't play them as backstabbers as the required buffing is too high maintenance for my play style (I prefer a class with built-in fighter thaco).

    In the same way that it just seems wrong to me from an RP and aesthetic standpoint to backstab with staves, I find the cleric/thief class to be incongruous and unappealing. Unless you're Tiax, that is. Tiax can make the Realms great again.
    Papa_Louthespace
  • SirBatinceSirBatince Member Posts: 663
    The biggest issue with solo backstabber is that pretty much everything important is immune to stabs when you reach ToB. real fun killer.
    KuronaOrlonKronsteen
  • ZagaciousZagacious Member Posts: 55
    I probably wasn't even going to try it in BG2 EE, even with a fully geared max Assassin character in BG EE 1 there were a few enemies that took 8+ attempts to successfully backstab, so I imagine it's not very effective at all in BG 2. Maybe a Fighter/Thief would have more success with proficiencies and such.
  • AerakarAerakar Member Posts: 490
    Quarterstaffs are not aesthetically or conceptually acceptable to some players as noted above, but mechanically they are good single hit backstab weapons mainly because of the weapon damage type (crushing), two-handed weapon reach, speed (magic staffs tend to have low speeds), and a few particular staff weapons - Aule's +3 Staff in BG1, Staff of Striking in BG 1-2, and Staff of the Ram in TOB. A Stalker, F/T or F/M/T with specialization in quarterstaffs and one pip in THS will backstab well consistently - and actually hit targets reliably -throughout the saga. Very, very few targets have crushing resistance.

    Weapons with on-hit effects are also good, e.g. Dagger of Venom in BG, Celestial Fury in BG2.

    I do not consider the Assassin the best backstabber, although the extra 7x damage is of course nice once you achieve it, which is late in SoA. I consider the Assassin's main ability to be poison and they shine as ranged sneaky poisoners or secondarily as melee backstabbing poisoners, even more so in BG1 where ranged is king.

    If you are looking for a strong all-around backstabber, I suggest something that includes Fighter THACO to have the reliable THACO and the bonuses from weapon specialization.

    Cleric/Thieves I hear can also be very strong backstabbers using magic to augment abilities, but I have never really played much with them and someone more knowledgeable would have to comment.
    OrlonKronsteenthespace
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member Posts: 1,586
    As @Zagacious mentioned C/T's have some interesting spell buffs that greatly boost their backstabs. Having played many you can always fire up the sanctuary sell if you miss. Helps also to throw in a few skelies out front to engage the target before sneaking in to backstab.
    Aerakar
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761
    Assassins are terrible backstabbers, in my experience, besting only pureclass thieves and bounty hunters. (And Swashbucklers, natch.) All the multipliers in the world won't help if you can't land a hit, and there's nothing worse than having your squishy thief appear in the middle of a bloodthirsty mob away from fighter support. And the real kick in the groin is they don't even get the boosted multipliers until level 17 (1.5m XP) and 21 (2.4m XP), shortly before all those annoying "immune-to-backstab" enemies start showing up. Until then, they're essentially just a kitless thief with +1 THACO. (Poison Weapon is useful on backstabs, but that's more about poison weapon being good than about any particular backstab synergy; you'd be better off poisoning some darts instead of trying to backstab with it most of the time.)

    I do like Assassins more in Icewind Dale using Sneak Attacks (for the faster progression), since sneak attacking is more about working in harmony and backstabbing is more about working alone, (IMO). (Plus with sneak attack you get as many attempts as you need to land the hit.)

    End-game, the best backstabber is F/M/T. Mislead abuse with Greater Whirlwind, fighter THACO and bonus attacks, and it doesn't even take *that* long to cap out your backstab multiplier, (just under 2m experience to reach x5). But F/Ts and Stalkers are both pretty good, and F/Ts have the benefit of being whatever race you want, (Half-Orcs for the +1 strength, Dwarves/Gnomes for the shorty saves).

    C/T gets a special shout-out because, while the combination is odd, I think it's actually the best "thief" in the game, i.e. the best at stereotypically thiefy things. Sancutary is amazing with thief skills, (you can open locks and chests without breaking it, unlike hiding or invisibility), and the suite of cleric self-buffs makes for some top-notch backstabs. If you really want to get wonky, you can dual a Priest of Lathander or a Priest of Helm to thief and take advantage of their innate abilities; Seeking Sword attacks three times per round and can backstab, making it a bizarrely good weapon to use with Assassination, and Boon of Lathander gives you +1 APR (and stacks with itself), which is pretty much the only way to get lots of attacks with something like the Staff of Ram without taking some fighter levels.

    (Also, if you're opposed to using Quarterstaves, the best backstabbing weapon in the game is probably the Black Blade of Disaster, though without an XP cap remover only the M/T will be able to access it.
    AerakarOrlonKronsteen
  • thespacethespace Member Posts: 991
    edited April 6
    Stalkers will land their backstabs the most often, due to warrior THACO and fast leveling as single class, although a F/T can go half orc with 19 STR day one. A halfling F/T with max DEX will have considerably more thief points than Imoen, even though multiclassed (and her single classed), throughout BG1, if you are wanting more utility. Strength potions abound, another reason to pick a warrior build for backstabbing, as other thieves can't drink giant STR potions until UAI (late BG2). F/T get trap setting, which complements the backstabbing playstyle quite well.
    Post edited by thespace on
    AerakarOrlonKronsteen
  • KuronaKurona Member Posts: 767
    Shadowdancer->Mage makes for a pretty lethal backstabber thanks to the combination of Hide in Plain Sight and Polymorph Self: Ogre. Only maxes at x4 but you have high base damage and frequency.

    It's no F/M/T of course but still something to consider.
    Grond0AerakarNoobaccaOrlonKronsteen
  • ZagaciousZagacious Member Posts: 55
    This really makes me wish you could only backstab with Daggers and Short Swords.. I suppose it makes a little sense with some short blunt weapons like Mace/Club you could do great damage by hitting them on the back of the head.. but stuff like Staff, Halberd backstabbing makes no sense.. even to some degree it makes no sense for Scimitar and Long Swords to be backstabbable since they're long and noticeable.
    OrlonKronsteen
  • NoobaccaNoobacca Member Posts: 125
    edited April 6
    Zagacious said:

    This really makes me wish you could only backstab with Daggers and Short Swords.. I suppose it makes a little sense with some short blunt weapons like Mace/Club you could do great damage by hitting them on the back of the head.. but stuff like Staff, Halberd backstabbing makes no sense.. even to some degree it makes no sense for Scimitar and Long Swords to be backstabbable since they're long and noticeable.

    I think it depends on how you interpret "backstab". I never really considered it an actual stab-in-the-back (unless using a piercing weapon) but more of a surprise attack. I always imagined the character sneaking up and clobbering someone over the head with a quaterstaff or deeply slashing the back of someone to cause serious damage with a sword or scimitar. But that's just my opinion :smile:

    But overall I'd say a fighter/thief would be the *best* once he/she reaches HLA's. Assassination paired with a high number of APR is pretty devastating (assuming I can use assassination to argue who is a good backstabber...) I love stalkers too and they only just win over fighter/thieves in my eyes because I just love the concept of rangers :smiley:
    OrlonKronsteenthespaceAerakartbone1
  • ArctodusArctodus Member Posts: 534
    edited April 7
    I'll also quote that :
    Zagacious said:

    This really makes me wish you could only backstab with Daggers and Short Swords.. I suppose it makes a little sense with some short blunt weapons like Mace/Club you could do great damage by hitting them on the back of the head.. but stuff like Staff, Halberd backstabbing makes no sense.. even to some degree it makes no sense for Scimitar and Long Swords to be backstabbable since they're long and noticeable.

    Maybe you should look into mods like Rogue Rebalancing and Item Revisions. RR will give some love to the Assassin, as he will start with a higher multiplier that any other thief kit : x3 at level 1, x4 at level 5, etc...

    With IR, you can backstab with every weapon in the game, but with various penalty. For example, backstabbing with a longsword (which should be harder to pull off) is made with a -1 penalty. The bigger the weapon, the bigger the penalty. Only short swords, daggers and clubs have no backstab penalty. In this setup, small weapons are now the best weapons to use for backstab, which is nice.

    IR also add a +1 bonus to Short Sword of Backstabbing, which makes it THE weapon to deal big damage with a thief. Give that baby an Assassin and you can reach ×6 backstab at the end of BG1... With a few buffs, courtesy of potions and clerics, Assassins can now do a truckload of damage on a crit...

    These two mods are pretty much standard for me, because they conceptually balance backstab : small weapons, which should be the go-to weapons for a thief, are now indeed their preffered weapon to do their shady businesses...
    OrlonKronsteenGrond0NoobaccaAerakar
  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,286
    Arctodus said:

    I'll also quote that :

    Zagacious said:

    This really makes me wish you could only backstab with Daggers and Short Swords.. I suppose it makes a little sense with some short blunt weapons like Mace/Club you could do great damage by hitting them on the back of the head.. but stuff like Staff, Halberd backstabbing makes no sense.. even to some degree it makes no sense for Scimitar and Long Swords to be backstabbable since they're long and noticeable.

    Maybe you should look into mods like Rogue Rebalancing and Item Revisions. RR will give some love to the Assassin, as he will start with a higher multiplier that any other thief kit : x3 at level 1, x4 at level 5, etc...

    With IR, you can backstab with every weapon in the game, but with various penalty. For example, backstabbing with a longsword (which should be harder to pull off) is made with a -1 penalty. The bigger the weapon, the bigger the penalty. Only short swords, daggers and clubs have no backstab penalty. In this setup, small weapons are now the best weapons to use for backstab, which is nice.

    IR also add a +1 bonus to Short Sword of Backstabbing, which makes it THE weapon to deal big damage with a thief. Give that baby an Assassin and you can reach ×6 backstab at the end of BG1... With a few buffs, courtesy of potions and clerics, Assassins can now do a truckload of damage on a crit...

    These two mods are pretty much standard for me, because they conceptually balance backstab : small weapons, which should be the go-to weapons for a thief, are now indeed their preffered weapon to do their shady businesses...
    My favourite part of RR is probably the addition of the Sap... it's a club that deals non-lethal damage to allow you to knock out innocent but inconvenient civilians if they happen to be sitting on a chest you'd like to "examine"... only situationally useful, but it's a nice and characterful little addition.
    Aerakar
  • AerakarAerakar Member Posts: 490
    I love the RR mod and think it adds a lot of flavorful items for thieves and you can install only items if you don't like the kit changes.

    I used to play with the kit changes for thieves also but in recent times have decided to run a vanilla bounty hunter to see what all the fuss is about maze traps, as I've never actually used them. In RR they are replaced with very damaging acid traps. I am in SoD with him now.
    ZaghoulThacoBell
  • St. AndrewSt. Andrew Member Posts: 85
    edited April 8
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member Posts: 1,586
    edited April 8
    Aerakar said:

    I love the RR mod and think it adds a lot of flavorful items for thieves and you can install only items if you don't like the kit changes.

    I used to play with the kit changes for thieves also but in recent times have decided to run a vanilla bounty hunter to see what all the fuss is about maze traps, as I've never actually used them. In RR they are replaced with very damaging acid traps. I am in SoD with him now.

    @Aerakar Most definitely adds flavor. I liked the new BH kit as well. To me it just seems to fit better than some magical trap. Plus, it can bypass MR. I also liked the nice touch of how BH when they get HLA's, can brew more potions because of their alchemical expertise.

    It gives some interesting backstabbing possibilities to BH's. Esp. with the paralytic toxin and with the grease (slowing)trap & entangle traps (ain't goin nowhere buddy. WHERE you goin, nowhere (run, hide, return for a good club to the head, BIP!)
    AerakarArctodusThacoBell
  • thespacethespace Member Posts: 991
    edited April 18
    Just did the math in regards to thief points on a maxed DEX halfling F/T vs elf and half orc at level 1. Just thought it was interesting to note in regards to utility vs STR.

    Halfling 210 (almost 3 extra levels over half orc)
    Elf 185
    Half Elf 155
    Half Orc 140
    Post edited by thespace on
    Aerakartbone1Noobacca
  • thespacethespace Member Posts: 991
    edited April 9
    As far as the "best backstabber" goes, does having the second ** in two handed weapon style serve any worthwhile purpose in regards to backstabbing with a quarterstaff? Anyone?
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member Posts: 1,586
    edited April 9
    @thespace
    Speed factor increase. I believe it gives more chance of striking(in my experience with 1 pip) before becoming visible if first try is a miss. Or the chance to backstab if you came out of shadows(the swish sound) early but still hidden(that is when the timer starts to become visible).
    A little thing but every bit helps. All my BS's were not fighters so never got the chance but would have added 2nd pip if a fighter combo. Used it with beastmasters, no multiplier but they get Hidden bonus to hit.
    thespaceAerakar
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761
    thespace said:

    As far as the "best backstabber" goes, does having the second ** in two handed weapon style serve any worthwhile purpose in regards to backstabbing with a quarterstaff? Anyone?

    On Quarterstaffs? No, no practical boost. Quarterstaffs have a base speed of 4, which drops to 2 with one pip in 2-handed style, and every +1 level of enchantment reduces speed by 1 beyond that. This means as soon as you get a +2 quarterstaff you've already hit 0 weapon speed, and there's nothing faster than zero.

    I mean, technically the second pip would help you a tiny bit when backstabbing with a non-magical or +1 enchanted quarterstaff, but that hardly seems worth it to me.
    thespaceAerakarStummvonBordwehr
  • St. AndrewSt. Andrew Member Posts: 85
    Is that actually true? I've been wondering about negative speed factor. I can almost swear I am hitting a bit faster in the round with the red ioun stone cap thing in SoD, with throwing daggers.
    Aerakarthespace
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member Posts: 1,586
    I don't think it goes beyond a 0 as far as being helpful but getting to zero definitely will make a difference.
    Aerakar
  • ZagaciousZagacious Member Posts: 55
    edited July 8
    After playing many backstabbers, it seems
    Half Orc Fighter/Thief or Cleric/Thief seem to be the strongest in BG1. Assassin's thac0 never gets good enough to make reliable backstabs it seems at least in BG1. By the time the assassin is high enough level to make decent backstabs, there's nothing he can successfully hit at least reliably to backstab.

    Just for fun I made an evil Half-Orc Cleric/Assassin with dual wielding, slings, and 2H style + staves for backstabbing and my god he is OP lol by end of BG I was backstabbing crit for nearly 200 with staff of striking, and 80+ dmg backstabs on a regular basis. And that was without any mage or bard to further boost me. His slings were also dealing like 30 damage per hit with very low thac0 with DrawUponHolyMight, pretty strong char. Cleric/Assassin kind of seems natural for a Half-Orc tbh, even if the backstab multiplier makes it a little OP late game.
    Aerakar
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761
    Since my first post in this thread, I have come to appreciate how glorious Alora is as a backstabber with her "fixed" rabbit's foot. With the Staff Mace, she deals 9.5 weapon damage per hit *on average*, which is ridiculous. Her minimum damage is 8, which is ridiculous.

    Throw on the big-fisted belt and she's perhaps the most "consistent" backstabber in the game. It's actually impossible to get a bad roll from her.
    Aerakartbone1QuartzNoobacca
  • QuartzQuartz Member Posts: 3,705
    Neverused said:

    Also, if you're feeling especially cheesy and corny... Being able to Hide is calculated by YOUR line of sight, not your enemies. So if you cast Blind on yourself, you're now a discount Shadowdancer, and I've won a fight or two from being Blinded and thus being able to hide and backstab.

    What the hell... I never knew that.
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