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Bow preferences

So, I’m starting a new game using a fighter type through the trilogy i.e. bg1 then SOD then bg2 and was wondering...
A) would you choose to specialise in shortbows rather than longbows, or vice versa, given the general differences and the types of magic weapon that turn up?
B) similarly would you choose light crossbows rather than heavy? This is less important because they have the same weapon proficiency slot.




  • AaezilAaezil Member Posts: 166
    Longbows are better in bg1 but shortbows are better in BG2

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 339
    In the long run, the best options are shortbows and light crossbows, and it's not close. In BG1, not so much.

    The best bows and crossbows in BG1, with one of each available normally:
    - Composite Longbow +1. 2 APR, attack +2, damage +3, requires Str 18. Can be bought in Beregost.
    - Longbow +2. 2 APR, attack +3, damage +2. Drops in the chapter 3 boss fight at the bandit camp.
    - Shortbow +2. 2 APR, attack +2, damage +2. Drops from Marek in chapter 5.
    - Light crossbow of speed +1. 2 APR, attack +1, damage +1. Can be bought in Beregost.
    - Heavy crossbow of accuracy +2. 1 APR, attack +5, damage +2. Drops from Dabron Sashenstar in chapter 5, if you killed his brother back in the cloakwood.

    If you can use them, longbows beat shortbows in BG1. They're a little better, and available earlier. The crossbows are more debatable; that attack bonus is important, especially since bolts of lightning and bolts of biting don't come with attack bonuses.

    SOD: I don't have it, and don't know.

    BG2: Here, the auto-ammo weapons rule. Not only do they allow you to hit enemies that require high weapon enchantment levels, but the phantom ammo damage stacks with normal ammo. Also, enchantment bonus is no longer added to bow, arrow, or bolt damage, greatly weakening most weapons here. Some notable weapons in each category:
    - Tuigan Bow +1. 3 APR, attack +1, damage +1. Shortbow, drops from the Beastmaster at the CC.
    - Tansheron's Bow. 2 APR, attack +3, damage +1d6. Auto-ammo shortbow, bought in Trademeet.
    - Bow of Gesen. 2 APR, attack +4, damage +1d8+2. Auto-ammo shortbow, crafted in chapter 6.
    - Darkfire Bow +5. 2 APR, attack +5, damage +0, 1/day Improved Haste, minor resists. The "ultimate" shortbow crafted in ToB, and not worth using.
    - Elven Court Bow +3. 2 APR, attack +4, damage +0. Longbow, found in de'Arnise Keep - and it demonstrates the problem with bows.
    - Ripper +2. 2 APR, attack +3, damage +3. Longbow, requires Str 19, bought from Ribald. The most damaging longbow in the game, and it does less damage than Tansheron's on average.
    - Taralash +5. 2 APR, attack +6, damage +0, move speed +2. The "ultimate" longbow crafted in ToB, and it still doesn't have a damage bonus.
    - Light crossbow of speed +1. 2 APR, attack +1, damage +1. Bought from Bernard.
    - Firetooth +4: 1 APR, attack +6, damage +1d8+4+2. Auto-ammo light crossbow, bought at Watcher's Keep.
    - Firetooth +5: 1 APR, attack +7, damage +1d8+5+2. Auto-ammo light crossbow, crafted in ToB. Of the three items that use the same upgrade component, this is the only worthwhile one.
    - Giant Hair Crossbow +3: 1 APR, attack +3, damage +5. Heavy crossbow, bought from Ribald, and nowhere near the damage you get from Firetooth.
    - Drow crossbow of speed +3: 2 APR, attack +3, damage +3. Light crossbow, usable only in the underdark.

    Since the game designers didn't provide any auto-ammo longbows or heavy crossbows, and the two speed weapons are a shortbow and a light crossbow, the light versions of the weapons win. Some enemies require +3 to hit, and there are no +3 arrows, bolts, or bullets in SoA unless you delve into Watcher's Keep. Then there are no +4 arrows or bolts at all, and a few enemies require +4 to hit. Auto-ammo weapons (or slings with +4 bullets) are your only option there as an archer.

  • masteralephmasteraleph Member Posts: 61
    Longbows are better in BG1, while shortbows are better in BG2. There’s a particular light crossbow in BG1 that blows the heavy ones out of the water; it also appears in BG2 and is bested only by one heavy one sold at Watcher’s Keep.

  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 673
    If you want it in bg2, use this mod:

    It tweak the bows and crossbows to use the higher enchantment from arrow or bow or crossbow or bolt.

  • DhariusDharius Member Posts: 336
    Thanks for all the responses...what about the bows in TOB and the mana these make a difference at al?

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 339
    I included the unique ToB bows in my list. They're not as good as the Gesen bow, and arguably worse than Tansheron's or Strong Arm. No, they don't make a difference. The mana bow? That's just another longbow with no damage bonus - one point of THAC0 better than the far earlier Elven Court Bow, plus a resistance that doesn't make much difference.

  • masteralephmasteraleph Member Posts: 61
    The key to understanding BG2 bows and crossbows: the launchers that make their own ammo (specifically the Gesen Bow and the Fire Tooth Crossbow), when used with ammo you provide, do both the ammo you provide's damage AND the bow's bonus damage. That makes them the superior weapons.

    The Tuigan Bow and the Light Crossbow of Speed (the latter is also in BG1) add 1 APR to their bow type's normal base attacks, or two when used with Improved Haste, which makes them very good as well. And both are available right at, or very near, the beginning of Chapter 2.

  • DanacmDanacm Member Posts: 673
    edited September 25

    Post edited by Danacm on
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 4,669
    As presented above, either shortbows or xbows is the best. Use Tuigans or xbow of speed for simple mobs and early game and use the better Gesen's or Fire tooth later in the game.

    Generally, bows offer more choices of arrows than xbows offer with bolts. Arrows of detonation, acid, dispel etc are always good. Bolts of biting is my personal favorite, but overall arrows are generally just better on average.

    On a side note (though not sure if you're interested), if you are playing a fighter all the way through the saga and focusing on archery, perhaps you should consider going down the Archer route. The added damage from levels in that class helps you stay competitive in BG2 as well when ranged weapons starts to fall short at the later stages. An Archer ranger can still equip speed weapons to do well in melee with warrior THAC0, HLA's and STR boosts and has enough pips to GM two ranged weapons if you want it or splice in a pip here and there such as sling to use the +5 version for hard to hit enemies or dagger to equip ie firetooth in the mainhand with ie belm/kundane in the offhand for maxing out APR etc.

  • masteralephmasteraleph Member Posts: 61
    TBH, Archers can generally use ranged weapons on most enemies. As noted, there is a sling (it's located near the bottom of Watcher's Keep) that is very strong, and even though Archers can only put 2 pips into Sling, it's one of their most damaging weapons when using Greater Whirlwind (which alleviates the attacks per round problem slings have). GWW also lets you do melee decently at high levels. My preference is Staves, since you can do Crushing damage and take down clay golems.

    The absolute most damaging combo is Fire Tooth Crossbow + Scorcher Ammunition (Scorcher Ammunition hits twice), but you need the Big Metal Unit for that and you're nearly at the end of ToB at that point.

  • DhariusDharius Member Posts: 336
    edited September 25
    Thanks, this is very interesting. I’ll opt for a fighter using xbows then (I would choose an archer but I also would like him to specialise in melee weapons.)

    Post edited by Dharius on
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