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Kensai Dual - Druid, Cleric or Thief?

VanDerBergVanDerBerg Member Posts: 170
Coming back to BG after around a year long hiatus, i finished a solo run of BG1 (EE, with SCS on Tactical difficulty and with all features installed) with kensai. From creation, the idea was to dual him after level 9 to druid. Hence, he currently has 3 pips in clubs and 3 in two-weapon fighting, which made him a damage-dealing monstrosity in BG1. The stats are

STR 17
DEX 19
CON 17
WIS 21
CHA 17

Starting SoD, it is almost time to dual class. But now I am considering whether to proceed with dual-classing to druid, or maybe to switch to cleric (or even thief). The point of dualing to druid was to get tons of casting of Ironskins, making him a good frontliner while keeping his damage output, using Insect Plague as a main disabler and summoning Fire Elementals left and right. However, I am thinking that a cleric would also be able to serve as a good frontliner, with high-level Barkskin + DuHM plus good equipment lowering his AC and using DuHM + Righteous Magic to deal tons of damage and kill things before they kill him. Also, not sure that skeleton warriors + air servants are lagging behind fire elementals.

The third option is to dual to thief and backstab for tons of damage while also having a mage in the party to throw spirit armour at him for frontline fighting when needed.

Did anyone play any of these dual class variants and what do you think about them? Which would you choose for pure fun? Which of these would be the most durable come ToB? Just to mention, I will play with SCS, everything installed (most likely) on Tactical difficulty, and probably with a small party (up to 4, composition of the party depending on the chosen dual class option, obviously).


  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,712
    The only one of these I've ever played myself is the kensai-thief. That combination has tons of synergy, with the power of massive backstabs. Though, clubs aren't the best weapon for that - the good clubs in BG2 rely heavily on added damage that isn't multiplied in a stab.

    Priest duals, by contrast, are pretty low-synergy. There's no reason not to wear heavy armor and a helmet, but you can't. As a cleric in particular, you will be targeted by enemy attacks, a lot. And with poor AC and no crit protection, you'll take a lot of damage.

    A druid, by contrast, can get Iron Skins. It's slow to cast so you can't renew it while in melee, but the SCS enemy AI prioritizes attacking party members without that protection - so it lasts very well.

    Another point against the cleric dual? With SoD, level 9 is a really awkward time to do it. The SoD experience cap will only let you get up to cleric level 9, so you'll be playing basically the whole campaign as a pure cleric with extra HP and no armor. If you're really set on that option, you're best of waiting for level 10 or later.

  • VanDerBergVanDerBerg Member Posts: 170
    edited April 8
    I know kensai -> thief or kensai -> mage are the "classic" dualing options for kensai, but I wanted to try something a bit unusual but still (relatively) viable. Kensais are like gods in BG1 - my kensai has thac0 of 5/8 in main hand/off hand with +2 and +1 enchanted clubs, which is miles better than any other fighting type in BG1. Next level it will be 3/6...

    I see quite a bit of synergy with priest classes. Not as much as with thief or mage, naturally, and a part of it might be just me being a sucker for priests and almost always playing some variant of them as a CHARNAME, but still...

    Synergy with druids is firstly Barkskin, which at higher levels (together with kensai's -2 AC bonus) gives an equivalent of the body armour with -1 base AC, which sounds pretty decent. Plus, druids have literally nothing else to cast at level 2, so you can have 10+ barkskins memorised and have it on almost all the time. Plus, minor buffs like bless or defensive harmony can add a bit of thac0 and AC when needed. Admittedly, this sounds just like using buffs to get AC that any other fighter type would have anyway by equipping good armour. But further down the road, ironskins should add to tankiness and higher-level druid spells are quite neat, especially disablers. So, all this sounds like a lesser variant of what you get with dualing to a mage, but with more spells to cast.

    Synergy with clerics is, on the other hand, in increasing the output damage at the expense of defence. Righteous magic is a long-lasting kai, plus strength bonus. With DuHM, you can get strength to 25 easily and have very low thac0 and damage. Though, as you pointed out, without body armour and helmet, come ToB I would probably get gibbed in every other fight, so maybe that's not such a good option.

    The point about level cap is also good, so cleric is a no-go. Motivation for dualing at 9 was to get one more +1 to thac0 and damage (making the kensai have +3 thac0/damage bonus - equivalent of what cavaliers and undead hunters get, but for all enemies), the last d10 roll for HP and the next pip.

    So, with cleric out of equation, now it is between thief and druid...

  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 6,932
    Personally I'd go for druid since it's not a dual I've heard much about. Try it out and let is know what you think.

    Thief would definately be more powerful in ToB after use any item. That dual combo is pretty standard issue though...

  • MrBaquanMrBaquan Member Posts: 36
    Kensai/thieves can do absolutely anything after getting Use Any Item. They're one of the most powerful class combos. Kensai/druid isn't bad but berserker/druid is better.

  • VanDerBergVanDerBerg Member Posts: 170
    edited April 13
    Kensai/druid isn't bad but berserker/druid is better.

    Probably so, but kensai has quite cool advantage in that +3 bonus in thac0 and damage at level 9, which is when I dualed him to druid. That's on par with cavaliers and undead hunters, but against all enemies, not just one specific kind. Also, with inability to wear shield, it simply cries for dual wielding. So, at level 9 (which is at the beginning of SoD), my kensai has (with strength of 17) thac0 of 4/7 with main hand/off hand (with a pair of clubs, one +2 and the other one +1). Moving to SoA, getting the girdle of hill giant strength straight on, achieving grandmastery in clubs and getting the good ones from trademeet, he will have thac0 of 1/4. With minor buffs such as bless and DuHM (until Spellhold), it can be further reduced so that it hits almost every time most of the enemies, and with 3.5 APR (4.5 if wielding belm in the offhand, which will reduce the offhand thac0 just by 2 or so) and kai occasionally, it can deal tons of damage in short while. Meanwhile, armour of faith, barkskin, defensive harmony plus that -2 AC bonus can lower his AC to acceptable value and adding ironskins will increase survivability while he kills things fast. So, rather than being a proper tank as the berserker/druid would have been, it will be more like a "I kill you before you kill me" kind of fighter. In any case, it should be a fun ride.

  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 2,291
    edited April 13
    Kensai 9 is only 1 thac0 and damage more than the berserker button, so the big bonus is likely the kai ability.

    To me the defensive bonuses of the berserker ability outweigh the kai bonus but your mileage may vary.

    Then again, I dislike dualing out of warriors as a whole but I like to dual into them once in a while

  • VanDerBergVanDerBerg Member Posts: 170
    Kensai 9 is only 1 thac0 and damage more than the berserker button, so the big bonus is likely the kai ability.

    Well, the difference is also that kensai has that +3 thac0/damage bonus permanently, so you don't rely on power that you need to refresh by resting.
    To me the defensive bonuses of the berserker ability outweigh the kai bonus but your mileage may vary.

    Undoubtedly, berserker -> druid would make for a better overall character. Immunities given by enrage are just absurd and wearing heavy armour/gauntlets makes them far better thanks. Though, to me, these two make up for two completely different styles of play. kensai -> druid is the one who eliminates the enemies as fast as he/she can before they start hitting him, because when they do (especially later on), he is dead. Which is why dealing lots of damage in short bursts is critical, hence why kai + minor druid buffs like bless are really important. Reaching negative thac0 and 4.5 APR early on in SoA is very neat. Improved haste on him, plus kai would hopefully mean he can burn through the enemies before they burn through his iron skins most of the time. On the other hand, berserker -> druid can stay in the fight for much longer and sustain many more hits/crowd control spells.

    Another reason for doing kensai -> druid was that I absolutely love druids, but absolutely hate their lower level spells. Until level 5, there is barely anything worth casting (especially in SoA) apart from Summon Woodland Beings and Armour of Faith. With this build, Barkskin becomes crucial, Bless and Defensive Harmony become quite neat so first four circles of spells aren't a complete waste anymore.

    Anyway, this run is going slower than usual because I am in parallel doing a run with Enchanter on SCS Insane without using any damage-dealing magics, which is lots of fun for completely different reasons. But I managed to reach level 10 in druid midway through SoD and regain the kensai abilities, with thac0 being 3/6 without any buffs. The rest of SoD and early SoA should be a breeze now...

  • MrBaquanMrBaquan Member Posts: 36
    I just like Berserker because Druid isn't as good at covering Kensai's weaknesses as Thief or Mage duals. You can still dish out tons of damage as a Berserker. Slightly less damage, but you're not naked when Iron Skins gets removed. Though depending on your mod setup Iron Skins might have a cast time of 1, or you might have spells like Entropy Shield.

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