Skip to content

Backstab or Sneak Attacks


I see the difference between backstabs and sneak attacks I think. What is in your opinion better? With backstab the damage might me far better but sneak attacks require less setup and can also cripple the enemy, which lowers their hit rolls, afaik. One question though remains: how often can I sneak attack an enemy? When backstabbing I always have to restealth. But is every attack from behind or the side is considered a sneak attack with bonus damage? And can you only do that once to an enemy? The combat log is not clear regarding that, because I often get the message that a monster has been immune to my sneak attack and I don't know whether thats the case because I already hit it once with it or because I missed the sneak attack.

What do you prefer in IWD or in general and why?



  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,281
    Hm, are you talking about IWD2? Because I'm fairly sure IWD1 still used Backstabs only as it was using 2nd Ed rules.

    In either case, you're basically on the right track. Backstabs can have a much, MUCH higher total damage roll at the end due to the multiplier, but Sneak Attacks are more frequent and more reliable since, under 3rd Ed rules, you get your SA damage every time you attack an enemy who is flat-footed, meaning they don't get their Dex bonus to AC. This applies whenever a creature is caught by surprise, paralyzed, stunned, or when they're being flanked. The last part means that if your Rogue is attacking from the side or back while your Fighter is attacking from the front, every single attack your Rogue gets off is a Sneak Attack. If your Rogue has invested into dual-wielding, you can get off a LOT of Sneak Attacks in a single round.
  • wavingbugwavingbug Member Posts: 59
    edited May 2021
    Yes, in IWD:EE (and also in BG:EE) there is a setting to use 3E Sneak Attacks instead of Backstab. I think the setting has always been there but in the original IWD you would have to set it in the configuration program.

    I had the brilliant idea of consulting the manual for answers:
    Sneak Attacks and Crippling Strikes

    If “3E Sneak Attack” is enabled in the Gameplay Options menu, backstabs (see below) are replaced with sneak attacks and crippling strikes.

    When sneak attacks are in effect, any time a Thief or Stalker attacks an opponent from a flank or rear position, they can do additional damage once (and only once) to that opponent. A sneak attack does not require the attacker to be hidden or moving silently in order to work (although these skills can help them get into position). Critical hits do not double sneak attack damage.

    Successful sneak attacks also cripple opponents, reducing their to-hit and damage rolls. Creatures affected by these crippling strikes regain their normal to-hit and damage rolls one turn after being struck.
    Sneak attacks and crippling strikes improve based on level and kit. See the kit descriptions for more details.

    It is important to note that a Sneak Attack only works once on an enemy. If you had a successful SA, you cannot do it again, opposed to backstabs, if your are able to hide again. The advantage is that you get another chance on a miss without having to do anything. If you miss a backstab the chance is gone (except if you manage to hide again).

    There is nothing written on whether you would always get Sneak Attacks on an incapitated enemy. But you cannot miss (or perhaps only very rarely) miss an enemy that is being held or stunned, Sneak Attacks or not.

    And here are the numbers for thieves in general, also from the manual:
    May backstab for increased damage:

    * Level 1-4: x2
    * Level 5-8: x3
    * Level 9-12: x4
    * Level 13+: x5

    If 3E Sneak Attack is enabled, may sneak attack instead of backstab for increased damage:

    * Level 1-3: +1d6
    * Level 4-7: +2d6
    * Level 8-11: +3d6
    * Improves by +1d6 every 4 levels, up to +8d6 at level 30

    If 3E Sneak Attack is enabled, may deal crippling strikes upon successful sneak attacks. Crippling strikes last for 1 turn and have the following effects:

    * Level 5-8: -1 to target’s hit and damage rolls
    * Level 9-12: -2 to target’s hit and damage rolls

    So I guess it comes down to what your base damage is. The higher the damage, the more you benefit from the multiplier. If your base damage is on the lower end, the added damage might be better. Plus you can cripple your target. So I guess low damage/THAC0 probably better go with Sneak Attacks, otherwise go with Backstab.
    Post edited by wavingbug on
  • ZaxaresZaxares Member Posts: 1,281
    Ah, that was probably put in for game balance then. In 3rd Ed tabletop, you're able to get off your Sneak Attack damage every time your opponent is flatfooted. There isn't a requirement to attack from the back or sides either. I'm guessing this was a compromise to make it work within the game engine.
  • WarilliusWarillius Member Posts: 3
    I've picked the sneak attack / 3e flank option because Dragon age has really ingrained the rogues = behind the enemy
Sign In or Register to comment.