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Are darts the most under-appreciated weapon?

Darts get no love in this game. The one NPC with a clear love of darts is used as semi-comic relief early in the first game, but yet he inspired me! What is the maximum potential of this neglected weapon?

Well, we'll start with the good news: 3 attacks per round. We will want to hit hard and often, so looking for +damage to boost our output, each boost is automatically tripled! And we can do this single-weapon style or while holding down a shield, for an early AC boost.

Then the bad news starts - no strength bonus. We do get a great THAC0 bonus from max dex early in the game, but dex is the least boostable stat over the length of BG saga - I have no idea if it plays any better in IWD, but I get the impression that has significantly fewer stat boosts, so STR-based weapons might not get ahead as easily?

However, we can get a weapon specialization bonus, for 1+THAC0/+2 damage for any impure fighter class (such as a paladin or a multi class) and a whopping +3/+5 for 5 pips as a 9th level pure-breed fighter. This comes win a bonus 4th APR, and as we are straight fighter, we pick up another 1/2 APR at 7th and 13th, leading to 5 APR (unhasted) doing +5 damage - but can we do better?

The obvious place to look is kits, but we are spectacularly unlucky. As a fighter, I would want something like the Kensai kit, which grants extra damage every few levels for melee weapons, but bans range weapons. It happens to boost throwing weapons that double as melee weapons, which is every other throwing weapon in the game that is not a dart, oh, and they get the strength damage bonus too. So no help there. Never mind, Archers provide a similar bonus for missile weapons, but guess what? Throwing weapons are not missile weapons either - so dart is the ONLY weapon in the game that can benefit from neither of those significant boosters. Still, all is not lost!

First, we can play an assassin. That gives us an extra +1 THAC0 and +1 damage from level 1, plus the use of poison which plays super well without many APR. So option (1) is a 2 level dip into assassin, dealing at the first opportunity so that we do not lose out on too many fighter hit points, and giving up any idea of a fighter kit (they don't help darts builds much anyway).

Option 2 is a longer-term bet that will not pay off until late into ToB - swashbuckler. Swashes get +1/+1 THAC0/damage bonus every 5 levels, so +5/+5 at 25th level, costing 3.3 million xp. 26th level fighter will run you another 4.5 million xp, totaling 7.8Mxp, just under the 8 million cap. It is possible! But highly unlikely solo, and gives up a lot of HLAs. Also, you are not going to get 27th level fighter, that is 50kxp over the xp cap. But I think that is our ultimate build for unassisted damage output - +8/+10 THAC0/damage at 5 APR from weapon style and dualed kit. You will see this so late that it will not be relevant, but may be fun to cross off on the "Hey, I did it!" list. Console jockeys can have fun too.

A more reasonable dual from swash at 20th means "only" 2.2 million xp into Swash, and hitting 21st fighter at a further 3,250,000 xp. I have had a 6 person party hitting around 5Mxp completing SoA with a good deep dive into Watcher's Keep, so this is totally doable for a straight BG play through, although unlikely to repay the dual until early ToB. The extra 5 levels of swash seem unconvincing for an extra +1/+1. Conversely, taking swash to 40 for +8/+8 also seems a poor choice, as you give up the weapon specialization. You do not even get the +1/+2 from basic specialization playing a Swash, as darts are still not melee weapons. Finally, you will have only 3 APR rather than the fighter's 5, although you are still getting more than half the attacks, so it is not a big a penalty as for builds around more useful weapons :)


Of course, the next consideration is: is there any good kit to boost the weapons for me? The most obvious is the gauntlets of weapon specialization, which give a further +1/+2 in BG, where they are easily obtained towards the end of act 3, or a +2 THAC0 bonus, if preferred, from the aforementioned comic relief. Unfortunately, the BG2 version of those gloves is buried deep in Watcher's Keep, and comes with a bonus 1/2 APR that you won't be able to use (if fighter) as the game caps APR to 5 without magical assistance (enhanced haste only?)

Speaking of improved haste, Cespenar can make an improved cloak of protection which casts improved haste once per day, pushing us briefly to 10 APR. Likewise, the ring of gaxx will give us another 3 castings per day.

In the helm slot, the Helm of Balduran can give another +1 THAC0, but no extra damage.

Not much notable in the armors, although Shurrupak plate packs a +1 dex bonus, which may or may not be helpful.

Nothing great jumps out of the amulet, belt, boots, or shield slots, although the shield of Balduran -1 STR penalty is not going to be a concern when chasing down beholders with darts :)

For cloaks, the other strong candidate is cloak of the stars, to make 6 +5 darts/day. Alternate cloaks to make the most of their abilities.

Finally, we come to the darts themselves. Stock a variety of special purpose darts that do +1d6 damage of various elements, or cause wounding etc. These are more useful in BG2 and later, as the high APR barrage of damage is enough for most non-magical foes in BG1.

For BG2, there is only one game in town - make a beeline for the first floor of Watcher's keep and the +3 returning crimson dart, which will be your mainstay for the rest of the game.


So at the end of the day, is a dart build feasible? Well, generally any build is feasible in this game, and it is certainly not awful. I have a lot of fun playing my darts builds. The most glaring omission in the BG series is the lack of any distinct boost at all focused on darts. It would be nice to have just one new kit added, perhaps for halflings, that gave the kensai/archer bonus for thrown weapons. Then it will still likely be a poor relation to thrown weapons with a STR bonus, but would be closer to the fore of the crazy builds.

Main thing in favor of this build is high APR multiplying any damage bonuses, and novelty. Down side is darts do piercing damage, very little damage without bonus, and even have a poor range compared to bows - you are not sniping safely out of harm's way.

Go forth and have fun!

OrlonKronsteenStummvonBordwehrGusindasemiticgodThacoBellAerakarSkatanlolienJuliusBorisovtbone1DesiderataCrevsDaak
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Comments

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,035
    I'd say clubs or morningstars are more underrated. Heck, I can't recall the last time someone even mentioned morningstars in a weapon discussion.

    GreenWarlockAerakarKamigoroshiCrevsDaak
  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 1,918
    The sleeper morning star is great fun.

    I really enjoy darts because of their seemingly increased chance to interrupt spell casting. They can be quite nice against mages who use protection from magical weapons but neglect protection from missiles.

    GreenWarlockThacoBelltbone1CrevsDaak
  • deltagodeltago Member Posts: 7,028
    Playing a wizard slayer (7)/Druid with specialization in darts and scimitars. He just got his wizard slayer levels back after finishing Durlag’s Tower.

    Managing darts (as in equipping the ones you want to use during the encounter and making sure your not wasting stunning or wounding on trash mobs) is the downside. It was easier when he was a pure fighter because of the extra quick slots.

    You have to look at darts not a DPS, but as a disabler. Stunning, wounding, spell disrupted and when combined with wizard slayer spell miscasting allows other DPS options to do land easier.

    Using spells like doom that lower saving throws before tossing them also helps with getting those second abilities off more often.

    I know in both SoD and BG2 there is a returning dart (Asp and Crimson) respectively so those will make managing more beneficial in the long run.

    ~~

    aren’t flails and morning stars the same prof? If so FoA and DoE are always mentioned.
    I’ll give you clubs though because there is only two magical ones in BG and both are subpar and get mid game compared to other blunt weapons you get near the beginning.

    GreenWarlockAerakartbone1
  • RaduzielRaduziel Member Posts: 4,716
    A Wizard Slayer using the Cloak of Stars or common darts (for PfMW) can make most of the battles very trivial.

    semiticgodGreenWarlockThacoBell
  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    I find clubs are quite motivating for my favorite class, the cleric/thief, as one of the few backstab weapons available, the only other choice being staves. BGEE greatly improved the availability of magic clubs, they don't need to be super special when the character does all the work, and you have the club of detonation to look forward to from Cespenar at the end game. Are darts the only weapon specialization that he does not service? Hmm, maybe slings too. Any other weapon types I am missing?

    Kamigoroshi
  • Abi_DalzimAbi_Dalzim Member Posts: 1,410
    I remember vanilla BG1 added your strength bonus to dart damage. I was planning on using a Fighter-Druid specialized in them at some point, with the premise being that 7/2 APR combined with tome-boosted 19 strength would let me do 20+ damage per round, which would be awesome.

    That's no longer the case in EE, unfortunately, so lately I've been more fond of throwing daggers. That said, the EE did boost them with the elemental damage darts. 3d6 in acid damage alone per round will add up pretty quickly.

    GreenWarlockAerakar
  • AerakarAerakar Member Posts: 674
    I have been playing an assassin using darts/bows recently and do not find them as useful as they used to be given the poison weapon changes to once per round. Plus the shorter range is annoying and there is the reduced THACO stacking mentioned above by @Grond0.

    I agree though they are great disablers, but this is true for any class that can use them. Something with fighter (wizard slayer, F/Dr, F/Th,) or even swashbuckler seems to stand out for the higher APR and/or damage bonuses.

    dunbarGrond0GreenWarlockOrlonKronsteen
  • dunbardunbar Member Posts: 1,472
    I've enjoyed playing dart-flinging assassins (especially assassin/mages) but to my mind there are three drawbacks to them (as mentioned variously elsewhere in this thread):

    1) You have to keep darts in a quick weapon slot instead of ammo slots.
    2) Their shorter range makes it harder to keep your flinger out of danger.
    3) v2.x nerfing of PW makes assassins much less effective.

    In fact the last point is the main reason why I reverted to playing v1.3.

    AerakarGreenWarlockSkarose
  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    @dunbar that last point is why I am not /too/ bitter that the 2.x patch series has still not come to the Mac App Store, 2 years after release to other Mac customers :) I should be more careful what I wish for!

  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,466
    edited May 2018
    dunbar said:


    3) v2.x nerfing of PW makes assassins much less effective.

    I mean, technically each use of PW should only apply to one weapon. The idea that the amount of poison you can apply depends on your *APR* is beyond stupid.

    ThacoBellsemiticgod
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 734
    Ah yes, the old panic that came with going into your inventory during a fight. I'd forgotten that!

    I agree that there should have been a change with poison weapon in BG:EE too (e.g. damage scaling and giving blackguards a different (non-stacking) ability than assassins), I just think Beamdog really screwed the pooch with it and therefore debate is warranted.

    Skarose
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,078

    Whatever else they did to it was their judgment call and I'm not trying to defend it, nor dredge up the extremely, extremely tired debate about whose feelings about the "nerf" are or aren't valid.

    I'm surprised there's even a debate about that. Clearly, my feelings are the ones that are valid! :wink:

    GreenWarlockThacoBelllolien
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 10,035
    I think poison weapon should only affect the first missile weapon that gets launched. None of this per round or apr nonsense. Its completely ridiculous that an assassin can pour fresh poison on each arrow/bullet/dart/throwing dagger they launch mid combat without afecting apr.

  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    ThacoBell said:

    I'd say clubs or morningstars are more underrated. Heck, I can't recall the last time someone even mentioned morningstars in a weapon discussion.

    Only because you're not an IWD fan. Morningstars are arguably the best weapons in the game there.

    I ran the numbers and the highest-damage ranged attacker in the BG trilogy is a Priest of Lathander > Fighter dual-class wielding a sling, so I'd go with slings for most underrated weapon.

    JoenSo
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,078
    edited May 2018
    On the contrary, it's a Cleric of Lathander dual-classed to mage or thief using the Wand of Lightning trick to duplicate the bonuses from Boon of Lathander (+6 per casting) attacking using the Scorcher Ammunition. Or, in earlier versions of the game, when bard songs still stacked, a Blade using the Wand of Lightning to duplicate Mislead clones to stack the Improved Bard Song HLA, also with the Scorcher Ammunition.

    But eventually, any damage-based build experiences diminishing returns. Dealing 500 damage per round isn't that much better than 499 when the enemy only has 200 HP.

    ThacoBellSomeSort
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859

    On the contrary, it's a Cleric of Lathander dual-classed to mage or thief using the Wand of Lightning trick to duplicate the bonuses from Boon of Lathander (+6 per casting) attacking using the Scorcher Ammunition. Or, in earlier versions of the game, when bard songs still stacked, a Blade using the Wand of Lightning to duplicate Mislead clones to stack the Improved Bard Song HLA, also with the Scorcher Ammunition.

    But eventually, any damage-based build experiences diminishing returns. Dealing 500 damage per round isn't that much better than 499 when the enemy only has 200 HP.

    You are correct that I failed to add the caveat that I was looking at glitchless, exploit-less ranged DPS that also didn't rely on a single super-limited ammo type that required a full trilogy run (or cheats) to acquire. :smile:

    With that said, I think ranged DPS scales far better than an equivalent amount of melee DPS. Yes, eventually you're far exceeding any single enemy's HP total, but the great thing about ranged is the ability to switch targets and immediately begin applying that spillover damage without any time wasted on travel.

    Slings have a lot else going for them, too. Available to every class, (the only ranged weapon available to Clerics, in fact), plus they get the strength damage bonus. They get outshone in a lot of respects by throwing daggers, but in the early game they require less inventory management and give you access to magical ammo far quicker, and in the late game they scale up to hit as high as +5 and generally see a huge power spike thanks to whirlwind attack.

    semiticgodAerakarlolien
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,402
    edited May 2018
    I love darts, however, I suffered some character deaths when I tried dart throwing with my mage in bg1. Because the range is short, the mage takes more attention from foes while attacking with darts, and low lvl mage+ critical ranged hit from a foe usually means death. (Ofcourse scs AI may be responsible, if you don't keep your naked mage FAR away, they WILL get prioritised)

    Slings have superiour range, and is a safer option for a 4 hp mageling. Plus you can get + to hit and damage bonuses from the sling and bullets as well, so each hit counts.

    Still my mages get dart at lvl 1, dagger at lvl 6, staff at lvl 12 (when some good staves are available in bg2-SoA) and finally sling at lvl 18 (when you can get some good slings AND +4 bullets at tob: they pack a punch.)

    As you said, APR is a very important factor and darts excel there. Therefore, it is very useful for assasins and mages that lack apr sorely. However, a fighter can use bows which are clearly superiour and they get fighter level+specialisation apr bonuses too, so dart bonus apr is kinda wasted on them.

    JuliusBorisovGreenWarlockAerakar
  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    I'll admit I struggle with darts as a pure mage, as I always regret that they are not minute missiles, which at higher levels do not struggle for ammunition.

  • deltagodeltago Member Posts: 7,028

    dunbar said:


    3) v2.x nerfing of PW makes assassins much less effective.

    I mean, technically each use of PW should only apply to one weapon. The idea that the amount of poison you can apply depends on your *APR* is beyond stupid.
    Is it? Does it take the same amount of poison to coat a great sword as it does an dart?

    SkatansemiticgodGreenWarlock
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 859
    lunar said:

    I love darts, however, I suffered some character deaths when I tried dart throwing with my mage in bg1. Because the range is short, the mage takes more attention from foes while attacking with darts, and low lvl mage+ critical ranged hit from a foe usually means death. (Ofcourse scs AI may be responsible, if you don't keep your naked mage FAR away, they WILL get prioritised)

    Slings have superiour range, and is a safer option for a 4 hp mageling. Plus you can get + to hit and damage bonuses from the sling and bullets as well, so each hit counts.

    Still my mages get dart at lvl 1, dagger at lvl 6, staff at lvl 12 (when some good staves are available in bg2-SoA) and finally sling at lvl 18 (when you can get some good slings AND +4 bullets at tob: they pack a punch.)

    As you said, APR is a very important factor and darts excel there. Therefore, it is very useful for assasins and mages that lack apr sorely. However, a fighter can use bows which are clearly superiour and they get fighter level+specialisation apr bonuses too, so dart bonus apr is kinda wasted on them.

    Other than clerics, (for obvious reasons), almost every character I roll in BG1 starts with a pip in daggers. 2 APR, PLUS range, PLUS strength bonus on throwing daggers is just insane for that early, just-starting-out portion of the game. And full range, not wimpy half-range like darts give you.

    Tuigan Shortbow also does a real number on the use-cases for darts in BG2.

    Aerakar
  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    @SomeSort the weight of throwing daggers and axes is more than enough of a balancing factor (for me) when playing through BG without a returning thrower. You can get returners very early in BG2 if that is your focus though. I have no idea about SoD yet (and no spoilers please!!) as that is still not available from the Mac App Store, so I cannot play it.

  • AionZAionZ Member Posts: 3,033
    Pretty sure they removed weight on throwing daggers at some point. Not sure about axes. That said my bigger problem is that the assassin’s poison doesn’t really feel like poison (short-term damage with no lasting adverse effects) so I made it one-shot Constitution debuff in my assassin mod. That ability has its own share of issues but I find it a lot more interesting than just an anti-caster ability.

    GreenWarlockAerakar
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