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Kensai/Thief

So I tried out the solo Kensai/Thief dual class (dualled at 13) I've been hearing so much about, and it was very meh. Much weaker than the other solo melee power classes (Cleric/ranger, Monk, Paladin, Swash). Why is this so widely touted?

Comments

  • luskanluskan Member Posts: 269
    The thief HLA Use Any Item negates the Kensai's item restrictions.

    Skatan
  • CvijetaCvijeta Member Posts: 397
    luskan said:

    The thief HLA Use Any Item negates the Kensai's item restrictions.

    If so, then every thief is powerhouse.

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    Cvijeta said:

    luskan said:

    The thief HLA Use Any Item negates the Kensai's item restrictions.

    If so, then every thief is powerhouse.
    Not every thief gets +2 APR, -2 AC, +4 THACO, +4 damage per hit, and max-damage backstabs like the Kensai/Thief.

    I'll agree that the Kensai bonuses are overrated, (I mean, +4 Thaco/+4 damage and Kai are really good, but you have to put up with substantial downsides for a really, really long time to get them), but from an end-game perspective it's one of the more powerful combinations in the game.

    (I think a Wizard Slayer > Thief is better, though.)

    Aerakar
  • proghead3proghead3 Member Posts: 65
    edited May 2017
    Fighter/Thief blows that dual out of the water and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Dualling at 13 forces you to play as a delicate Kensai for the entirety of BG1 and a large chunk of SoA and then you are forced into the role of emasculated thief which cripples your character many hours of game time. You also severely delay acquisition of HLAs with such a late dual. If your character sucks for 75% of the saga like a kensai13>thief, it's a bad character, period. Also, multis get racial abilities (shorty saves or elf bonuses), zero downtime, can effectively use two handers in the late game if desired (whirlwind attack), have access to ranged weapons, generally have better attribute scores and better endgame thac0.

    Aerakargorgonzola
  • pickuptubberpickuptubber Member Posts: 17
    Yah, it seemed very mediocre compared to what I'm used to.

  • BorekBorek Member Posts: 513
    Personally i prefer to dual a lot later, after i get Fighter HLA's for the Kensai in fact, mainly because i solo and therefore XP up really fast, so fast that if you are a completionist like myself then you'll actually cap out as a 50 thief way before finishing ToB unless you hold the Fighter until extremely high level. The added bonus is you keep access to HLA's unlocked from the 1st class all the time, you do not need to level past in the 2nd class to unlock those. So it means a normally gimped Thief can actually be a lot more effective in the lower levels than normal. I won't lie it's still a big slog to unlock, but i do love having +13 to hit and damage on top of so many Kai's it is pretty much an inate ability for the tough ToB fights.

    Plus people always forget that a Thief can use scrolls once they get UAI unlocked, just be careful with using them for key encounters and you essentially get to be a Mage as well.

    You can get some utterly insane numbers on Backstabs, it's just a bit annoying that a lot of the bosses are immune in ToB, but that's where the fighter HLA's come in, scroll of Imp.Haste and pop Critical strike and you're rocking 10 attacks a round with +13 damage from Kensai (maybe more if you go past level 39 lol), +3 at least from weapon, +grandmastery (probably another 5 depending on mods) which always hits, even if the enemy is immune to being critical'd which not all are. Use Staff of the Magi or Carsomyr if they have Stoneskins for the 1st attack to dispel it then switch back to more optimal weapons, it's just brutal, totally apt for the Child of Bhaal. Every swing is 35-40 + dice roll assuming 23+ Str which is highly likely by then, if it crits then you're doing up to 100 a swing and you never miss with the HLA used. Super-cheese it with Celestial Fury so that every hit is save or Stunned (you can use fighter HLA to do this but can only activate 1 HLA per round sadly). Plus pre-buff with Hardiness which lasts forever at that point in the game.

    Heck you could use a scroll of Shapeshift to become an Iron Golem to backstab with for the lulz, Kai that bad-boy for ludicrous numbers.

    Noobaccagorgonzola
  • pickuptubberpickuptubber Member Posts: 17
    Yes I think dualling at 39 next time would be interesting to try - esp. as I always solo.

  • unavailableunavailable Member Posts: 265
    cleric/thief multi is the only great thief. Never misses a back stab, always hits for full damage, can vanish almost instalty with sanctuary. Armor never comes off, thac0 is always good, and APR is... not great. righteous might and draw upon holy might both do a lot to heighten the few attacks it gets however.

  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 6,084
    I wonder why halflings weren't allowed Cleric/Thief? They're extremely thiefy and fairly pious too. I wanted to play one since they get sling bonus too but was shocked to find out that's not an option...

    Aerakarsmeagolheartilduderino
  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 447
    edited May 2017
    The AD&D multiclass system was complicated, balanced around a lot of out-of-combat factors like racial predisposition, racial longevity and how "realistic" it was for someone to develop multiple classes at the same time - that's why humans can't multiclass in AD&D, for example, because they don't exactly excel at any one thing and they are relatively short-lived.

    Haflings have a predisposition towards thieving that's why fighter/thief is an option. They're not an innately magical race like the gnomes/elves nor do they have a deeply spiritual/shamanistic culture like the orcs - the AD&D version was basically a lot like the hobbits you see in the LotR movies - that's why by default, no halfling thief/cleric. Of course there's an exception to just about everything, and if BG2 had a human DM you could probably present your case for a homebrewed chosen of Brandobaris cleric/thief or something and try to justify it.

    Aerakariosfrustration
  • unavailableunavailable Member Posts: 265
    edited May 2017
    SomeSort said:



    It's a fun combo, for sure. Bit of a weird one. You're basically limited to quarterstaffs and clubs if you want to backstab. It's also odd that you're basically limited to Gnome and Half-Orc as your race, too, since neither would be the most Cleric-y or Thief-y races I could think of.

    also flame blade. It is a level 2 cleric spell, and does 6-10 damage on hit. So it's less weak in early BG1 than you might think.

    Some of the strongest rogue weapons in BGII are staves, so I'm not worried about that.

  • CvijetaCvijeta Member Posts: 397
    What about cleric thief dual? Or thief cleric dual, maybe...

  • BorekBorek Member Posts: 513
    Cvijeta said:

    What about cleric thief dual? Or thief cleric dual, maybe...

    As a rule it works better as a dual to have the spell casting class 2nd, so it benefits from rising levels for spell durations and effects. The drawback of that would depend on when you dualed the thief and whether you had a stand-in thief to cover traps and locks before you leveled enough to unlock it again.

    Thieves are definitely one of the classes that benefit a lot from their HLA's, but you need to get very high level to unlock them due to their rapid leveling. Now fortunately Cleric is the 2nd fastest leveling class so it's not as bad as it could be, but a late dual-class will be painful for sure. Saying that then you do get to keep the 1st classes HLA's when leveling the 2nd class, so in theory you could late-dual and abuse Shadowdancers version of project image, spike traps etc to help. But unless you plan to solo i really don't think you could get enough thief HLA's to make it worthwhile, you'd have to wait sooooo long to unlock the thief abilities it would be unlikely to happen before Amelissan :D

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859

    SomeSort said:



    It's a fun combo, for sure. Bit of a weird one. You're basically limited to quarterstaffs and clubs if you want to backstab. It's also odd that you're basically limited to Gnome and Half-Orc as your race, too, since neither would be the most Cleric-y or Thief-y races I could think of.

    also flame blade. It is a level 2 cleric spell, and does 6-10 damage on hit. So it's less weak in early BG1 than you might think.

    Some of the strongest rogue weapons in BGII are staves, so I'm not worried about that.

    Yes, the "basically limited" part was because any spell-weapons should be viable for backstabs, or at least the melee versions should be, (no to Energy Blades, yes to Spiritual Hammer; I actually seem to remember reading once that since IWD treats Spiritual Hammer as a ranged weapon with a melee component, it's possible to use them for ranged backstabs, which sounds kind of amazing).

    Weapons created by shapeshifting are likewise usable in backstabs, which isn't relevant to the C/T but does make Polymorph Self's Ogre Form kind of great for a backstabbing M/T. (Also: backstabbing with Iron Golem fists.)

    Staves are so-so for thieves, I'd say. If you import the Staff Mace it's one of the better early one-handed weapons, which is good since shields are so great in SoA. (If you don't import it, you won't find one until the end of Chapter 3 or the beginning of Chapter 4 when it's already been surpassed.) It deals almost as much damage as the Staff of Rynn, (7 vs. 7.5), which kind of highlights how terrible the Staff of Rynn is despite being a +4 weapon. A Two-handed Sword +2 deals as much damage as a Quarterstaff +4.

    Staff of Striking's 12.5 average damage is fantastic from the perspective of an early backstabber, but it's pretty much backstab-only and then switch or else you have to deal with juggling charges. (Of course, it'd be perfectly viable and even powerful for a C/T to use Flail of Ages for general combat and Staff of Striking for backstabs, getting the best of both worlds.)

    As a category, though, prior to getting your two uber end-game versions (Staff of Ram and Staff of the Magi), Staves lack the versatility of long swords, (Daystar, Flametongue, Adjatha), the protections of short swords (Arbane's, Ilbratha), the Celestial Furyness of Katanas.

    And, of course, there's the fact that losing access to Daggers / Scimitars / Shortswords (and the +APR versions of each) is a serious blow to the damage output of the 1APR classes in general.

    It's not the end of the world, and it gives you an excuse to use most of those fantastic weapons with other members of your party instead, but it's still a disadvantage. One that essentially persists until you get Staff of the Ram or Staff of the Magi / Use Any Item.

    (Actually, I think the saving grace of C/Ts in early SoA isn't the staves, but the clubs. Gnasher and Blackblood are both fantastic. As, of course, are Flail of Ages and Improved Mace of Disruption, even if you can't backstab with them. No rules against switching weapons as circumstances demand.)

    My first run-through of the new EEs was a Half-Orc Cleric/Thief. It's always been one of my favorite characters. I mostly like it for how it permits you to assemble a more powerful party than for how powerful it is by itself, though. (And because after playing a thief with access to Sanctuary it's really annoying to ever play one without Sanctuary.)

  • BorekBorek Member Posts: 513
    Yup, cleric is definitely nothing like the Mage for potency and benefits from high level, plus i completely agree that the Kits are pretty amazing, however if you look at the special kit abilities they do not gain additional uses that quickly, so you kinda want to get reasonably high level just so you get multiple ability uses and don't need to rest all the time.

    I do kinda disagree somewhat regarding the cleric HLA's though, a couple of them are really, really strong, Implosion is incredible, Aura of Flaming Death is also sweet, Storm of Vengeance also has it's uses for disrupting and mass-killing the trash, but yeah it's nothing compared to a mage.

    So the problem of Cleric 1st then Thief is when do you do it, plus that means no kitted thief and at end game you have just thief HLA's, the most potent of which are not always possible to use simply because you need to lay traps in advance of an encounter.

    I mean you can make anything work, it's far from a bad choice, but how i would do it for a solo run (my usual) is most definitely start as a Swashbuckler, level until 35 for huge +hit/dam/AC from the kit, plus enough levels to get 5 spike traps, 1 time trap, UAI and thanks to Swash class 5 Whirlwinds (sadly not greater QQ). Then i'd go cleric, the Swash kit benefits won't work until 36+, but the HLA's will, so that will make leveling back and killing some encounters much easier, once the cleric surpasses Thief in Mid ToB (early if you abuse the Fire Giants) then you will be extremely potent, only loss being a Swash is backstab and since 90% of ToB is immune it's no big deal.

    Of course with a party it doesn't really work, not enough XP unless you want to wreck fire giants for a long time in Saradush, but it can be a very strong end game class.

  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 447
    High level clerics do have undead ownage and things like Energy Blades in their favor.

    Still, they do lack the "I-win" spells of the druid and ultimately you do expect clerics to start spamming weapon attacks after a while - earlier/more often if you relegate healing to potions and items like the Rod of Resurrection. So if you only need spells after a certain point and nothing else, then dual-classing away from one makes sense.

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    Nuin said:

    High level clerics do have undead ownage and things like Energy Blades in their favor.

    Still, they do lack the "I-win" spells of the druid and ultimately you do expect clerics to start spamming weapon attacks after a while - earlier/more often if you relegate healing to potions and items like the Rod of Resurrection. So if you only need spells after a certain point and nothing else, then dual-classing away from one makes sense.

    Definitely Clerics are good on the undead-ownage, but this is undercut by the fact that undead are already the most-ownable class of critters in the game. A party without a single cleric can still equip Azuredge, IMoD, and Daystar, drop a half-dozen Protection from Undead scrolls, and rid the realms of pretty much every ghoul, ghast, zombie, vampire, skeleton, and lich in one fell swoop.

    Energy Blades is probably my favorite high-level spell, (spamming blue discs takes me to my happy place), but it's a good example of how bad Cleric HLAs are relative to the other classes. For Clerics, it's usually one of my first HLAs and I always have one memorized. For Mages, it's usually one of my last and I never find the room for it. For Fighters and Rogues, I don't think I'd ever take it over another Whirlwind or Spike Trap.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,193
    I was never a huge fan of the K->T, mostly because I find UAI overrated and Thief in general a bit of a meh proposition that's mostly QoL for me. Then again, I do not backstab extensively, and refuse to do things with Spike Traps. Personal choice only, of course.

    It just seems to me like you're lacking the sort of cross synergy of something like K->M or T->M duals, where you can combine physical and arcane to get the best of both worlds. Staying in physical/physical just makes me feel awkward a lot of the time.

    Also, don't dual at 13 it's just so not worth it ;)

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859

    I was never a huge fan of the K->T, mostly because I find UAI overrated and Thief in general a bit of a meh proposition that's mostly QoL for me. Then again, I do not backstab extensively, and refuse to do things with Spike Traps. Personal choice only, of course.

    It just seems to me like you're lacking the sort of cross synergy of something like K->M or T->M duals, where you can combine physical and arcane to get the best of both worlds. Staying in physical/physical just makes me feel awkward a lot of the time.

    Also, don't dual at 13 it's just so not worth it ;)

    It may sound obvious, but how much use you get out of UAI depends on how much you use UAI. Give your UAI thief Carsomyr, Vhailor's Helm, a scroll of Time Stop, and a scroll of Shapechange, and suddenly it's not so overrated when he creates a clone that stops time, dispels all enemy protections, turns into a mindflayer, and stat-drains him to death.

    UAI basically turns thieves into Sorcerers with very limited spell selection, (you can only cast three spells per clone, though they can be any three spells in the game). It makes Thieves one of the best classes to solo because it turns them into a high-level arcane caster with just one HLA. Plus it lets you do things like combine Carsomyr + Human Flesh to easily max out magic resistance, or abuse the insta-invisibility of Staff of the Magi on a physical-attacking class.

    If you're not doing super-cheesy things like that, then yeah, it's not all that. It lets pure thieves (especially Swashbucklers) get helmets and shields, but a couple levels of fighter did that anyway. You can use some of the nice bard-only gear, which isn't really gamebreaking. Unless you're a Cleric/Thief, any weapons it makes available were stuff you could either already equip, (because you have fighter levels), or stuff that you can't be proficient in anyway, with the big exceptions of Carsomyr and Staff of the Magi.

    AndreaColombo
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,193
    If you want to do all that, particularly in solo, that's fine - but there's still better ways to go about it than K->T, in my opinion. Heck, just be a FMT if you solo and get it ALL.

    And while those items you mentioned sure are powerful, they're powerful in many setups without UAI as well. A well-rounded party can usually make use of these items to devastating effect even without UAI. But of course it's 100% correct that there exist many setups in which UAI can be very good.

  • WatchForWolvesWatchForWolves Member Posts: 171
    SomeSort said:

    It may sound obvious, but how much use you get out of UAI depends on how much you use UAI. Give your UAI thief Carsomyr, Vhailor's Helm, a scroll of Time Stop, and a scroll of Shapechange, and suddenly it's not so overrated when he creates a clone that stops time, dispels all enemy protections, turns into a mindflayer, and stat-drains him to death.

    EE didn't fix the simulacrum quick use item exploit?

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859

    SomeSort said:

    It may sound obvious, but how much use you get out of UAI depends on how much you use UAI. Give your UAI thief Carsomyr, Vhailor's Helm, a scroll of Time Stop, and a scroll of Shapechange, and suddenly it's not so overrated when he creates a clone that stops time, dispels all enemy protections, turns into a mindflayer, and stat-drains him to death.

    EE didn't fix the simulacrum quick use item exploit?
    I don't know what 2.x did since I play on iPad, but it's alive and well as of 1.3.

  • colmacolma Member Posts: 1
    edited May 2017
    Kensai Thief is pretty meh until you get UAI, but still a fun time.

    For me it doesn't hold a candle to mage/thief multiclass for solo runs and comical, trivializing, game breaking absurdity.

    I mean, 80% of the game is handled just with Mislead abuse. If the clone created by Mislead is left out of range of enemies sight or spells like True Sight (True Sight will do nothing cast on you since the clone is what needs to be dispelled), you have permanent invisibility and backstab with every singe attack. Combo with Tenser's Transformation and Haste for luls...its basically un-counterable outside of small confined areas. At that point you just fall back on the standard OP mage stuff.

    Just an example:
    cast Mislead outside of Ribald's shop, walk in and he casts True Seeing but you stay invisible since the clone is left outside and you can murder everyone in there for funsies.

    Murissokah
  • MurissokahMurissokah Member Posts: 7
    edited May 30
    colma wrote: »
    I mean, 80% of the game is handled just with Mislead abuse.

    Holy shit, I guess I read mislead wrong the first time. When I read the copy couldn't act I tossed and never gave it a second thought. But indeed that doesn't mean *YOU* cannot act. Tecnhically correct, the best kind of correct.

    I just wish we didn't have so many of the powerful mage/fighter spells competing for level 6 slots. Improved Haste, PFMW, Tenser's and now Mislead. I guess Tenser's can go, as it's more of a buff than a necessity.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,621
    edited May 30
    as the thread has been resurrected...
    mislead used by a thief is extremely powerful, all the hits are stabs if you hit the enemies from the rear, you are immune to true sight and no one try to hit you or target you with spells.
    i personally don't use it as it is in most of the cases an automatic victory without any player's skill involved, it is a higher level version of bombing from the fog of war with fireballs enemies that don't react to it.
    but if some other player likes to use it there is nothing wrong, if not that once is fun, always becomes quickly boring, cast the clone, hide it, kill without a real battle or any real tactic.
    I was never a huge fan of the K->T...................
    It just seems to me like you're lacking the sort of cross synergy of something like K->M or T->M duals, where you can combine physical and arcane to get the best of both worlds.
    this is why i find that the FMT is the better thief in the game, he lacks of the always maximum damage that the K->T or CT have, is not the best mlee fighter, never reaches the lev 9 arcane spells a MT multi or TM dual gets, but has its advantages to compensate it.

    he is at the same time a good fighter, having only marginally lower thac0 then a 2 classes multi and in the end game a better thac0 (when not buffed) then the CT, he gets the thief HLA starting from 3M xp, don't has weapon limitations, and if is true that the best weapons to stab are the staves to be able to equip a OH speed weapon is an huge advantage when he decides to don't stab, and has the arcane magic, from the start, not waiting after UAI, so the use of wands, how many stoneskin and other useful spells as he likes without depending on the scrolls that are limited. He obviously can use the few level 9 scrolls, like a thief with UAI, the difference is that he can do it using his clones created from the spell book and not with scrolls or the 1 use/day of the helm, so he can potentially cast lev 9 spells often without wasting the few available scrolls.

    he can also, if he wants (even if i almost never do it) kick out the party members if not soloing and learn/erase spells to gain xp, so can somehow compensate his slower leveling up as triple class.

    his only real problems are that he gets later good stabbing multipliers and that the combo is not allowed to races that have shorty bonuses that would have made them better thieves, but both solo and in a party he is probably the most useful and versatile thief possible, that can stab, with thac0 that let's him hit often, set traps (that i use even if i never place them near known spawning points or still blue enemies), fight ranged or mlee, and also he, with 1 or 2 GWW, if needed with the first hit using the SoTM to get rid of protections, can kill almost every enemy very fast, you don't need the kensai bonuses for that as few enemies can survive to 9 hits of the staff of the ram if not in LoB difficulty.
    and obviously he can use mislead, even if i don't personally use it, or also the more balanced lev 2 invisibility spell to gain a second stab in the round without having to go to hide again, thing that compensates the lack of kai like ability.
    in a party is a good fighter that can tank with his arcane spells and use fighter hla and can protect himself and make himself not dispellable, thing that a K->T(using scrolls to buff) or CT can not, as long as has used all the few SI scrolls, is a good thief and a good secondary mage.
    solo is the most self sufficient combo I can think about, capable even in death magic areas or in situations that can give problems to other powerful solo combos.

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