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Bard Lovers - who is your favorite bard kit and how do you like to play bards?

I've seen so many people on these forums suggesting bards, but I never tried one myself. Just by picking up Garrick in BG1 and playing around, they seemed underpowered to me. Also the fact that they can't use past level 7 spells seems frustrating.

But you guys swear by them, so I thought why not give it a try. What do you guys like about bards and what is your favorite way of playing them?
Favorite bard class
  1. Favorite bard class?19 votes
    1. Normal bard
      26.32%
    2. Skald
      26.32%
    3. Jester
        5.26%
    4. Blade
      42.11%

Comments

  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,008
    Bards are the ultimate utility players. They cannot truly replace a mage, fighter or thief; but they have skills like all of them.
    For spell casting, although their progression is “slow” and capped at 6th level spells; but they gain levels quickly. So especially through the middle levels they can compete with the mage.
    For fighting, they have good weapons versatility. So you want a mage with a bow, or crossbow, the bard can do that.
    And they can pick pockets. Depending on play style, that might or might not make a big difference.
    Bard song can be useful, although admittedly I would usually rather them cast a spell or shoot an arrow.
    I chose Skald as my favorite because I like the Norse imagery. I have no doubt Blade will win your poll.
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 7,305
    I'd vote Skald except for the Enhanced Bard Song hla that makes their unique song irrelevant. The Blade's only real weakness becomes a strength at those higher levels!
  • KhyronKhyron Member Posts: 603
    edited May 2
    I think many swear to bards for their diversity in a single class.. a FM or FMT is kind of better in all aspects but Caster Level (how spells stack upwards)

    But a Bard has more flair and requiers a bit more thought. Thus experienced players are likely to get the most out of them and appreciate their effort needed

    I like a good Blade myself.. and i very recently played through all of BG1 and SoD, in an attempted full saga run.
    Now that I'm in BG2 I am considering using editor to make it into a FMT because the novelty of the bard class has passed and it often has me sitting there "why didn't i just go fmt.. or FT.. or Swashbuckler"

    I don't like having to prebuff to kill trash mobs, I don't like having to use 4-5 different spells to be useful in a melee, i don't like having to rest after every 1-2 encounters (if the Blade is to be battle buffed) and I don't like any of the NPC thieves available to me sans Imoen, so when i am "almost" a thief it really sucks to not actually be one.
    You may wonder why i even like Blades at this point, but i do.. i really do. They're just.. a lot of work if they are to stay relevant in the group.. but when you -do- put the work in they can completely alter any encounter like no other class can.
  • AerakarAerakar Member Posts: 913
    I second blades and have found them quite powerful by mid-SOA. They are like a poor man's fighter/mage, but they are for sure one of the more flavorful classes (all bards).

    But I think bards should be roleplayed instead of power gamed. You get your own theater for goodness sake!
  • wildernesswoodelfwildernesswoodelf Member Posts: 12
    Aerakar wrote: »
    I second blades and have found them quite powerful by mid-SOA. They are like a poor man's fighter/mage, but they are for sure one of the more flavorful classes (all bards).

    But I think bards should be roleplayed instead of power gamed. You get your own theater for goodness sake!

    Eh, I mean in terms of roleplaying, they always just seemed like a Medieval hipsters to me lol
    Thinking of bards always made me think of Edward from Final Fantasy 4 and his characteristic ability to "hide" (which was basically his most useful ability)

    But people tend to think that they're much better than Paladins - and I personally much prefer a Paladin from a roleplaying perspective.
  • KhyronKhyron Member Posts: 603
    It's kind of difficult to measure which class is better in BG2.

    Paladins are extremely powerful.. and Blades can be too, different strength to play on.

    The only class that can objectively be said to be better than the rest is mage/sorc because their power output just has no equal.

    If you want single class tanks then rangers and paladins are great with 85% physical damage resistance.. if you want utility then Bards are for you.. if you just want power then mages.


    In BG2 Paladins can be difficult to rp, because you're going to make some choices and get some allies that make absolutely no sense for a Paladin, but you know.. ye olde shoehorn.
  • wildernesswoodelfwildernesswoodelf Member Posts: 12
    Khyron wrote: »
    It's kind of difficult to measure which class is better in BG2.

    Paladins are extremely powerful.. and Blades can be too, different strength to play on.

    The only class that can objectively be said to be better than the rest is mage/sorc because their power output just has no equal.

    If you want single class tanks then rangers and paladins are great with 85% physical damage resistance.. if you want utility then Bards are for you.. if you just want power then mages.


    In BG2 Paladins can be difficult to rp, because you're going to make some choices and get some allies that make absolutely no sense for a Paladin, but you know.. ye olde shoehorn.

    Also, typically Paladinhood/Knighthood is earned over time, whereas you start as a Paladin straight out of Candlekeep which is a little weird.

    It's also hard to RP Lawful Good because I love having my thief steal stuff lol.

    But regarding Bards, people often say that it's the most fun class, hence why I wanted to give them a shot. The idea of owning a theater never really appealed to me, but I like the idea of people able to cast spells AND wield a katana. Sounds pretty bada**
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,008
    edited May 3
    Historically Paladins were Knights of Charlemagne, but in D&D they've always been Holy Warriors. A Knight may be a political or military rank, varies by region I imagine. Knight is not defined by 2E rules, apart from noting several of the Fighter and Paladin kits in various supplemental rulebooks had names inspired by various knighthoods.

    I'd also add the Paladin is an absolute blast to play in BG2. You have many choices to make that are "lesser of two evil" sorts, yet there is always a way to play it through and stay the good guy. I find it very satisfying!

    *It occurred to me after posting, your comment may have something to do with later editions of D&D? So obviously, I'm an AD&D guy. If this is just about different expectations from different rulesets, I get it.
    Post edited by atcDave on
  • The_Baffled_KingThe_Baffled_King Member Posts: 114
    edited May 3
    The effectiveness of the unkitted Bard and the Skald compared to other classes mostly depends on the amount of value you get out of their Bard Song. The following are a list of factors that will improve the effectiveness of the Skald or unkitted Bard:
    1. You have a large party (preferrably the full 6);
    2. Your party members do a lot of attacking during combat (as opposed to debuffs and offensive spells);
    3. Your party has several Warriors or Warrior multi/dual classes;
    4. You use summons*;
    5. You rest sparingly (this ups the value of unlimited resources compared to limited resources like a Mage's spells);
    6. You micromanage your Bard so it can attack and sing in the same round.
    If you're making choices on the basis of power level then, with the exception of the Blade, I don't see the point in taking a Bard over a Mage if your party and playstyle are such that the Bard Song won't do very much. I guess it's worth adding that they can still be very useful if you have them join the party to identify and/or pickpocket a bunch of items and kick them out of the party immediately afterwards.
    Just by picking up Garrick in BG1 and playing around, they seemed underpowered to me.
    Garrick is underpowered, which helped sour me on the Bard when I played back in the days of (non-EE) Baldur's Gate 1.

    *ETA: In the case of the Skald, but not the unkitted Bard (unless the later is using the Enhanced Bard Song HLA).
    Post edited by The_Baffled_King on
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,338
    If you're using the unmodded versions of bard songs, some things to note:
    - Skald song, Blade song, and Enhanced Bard Song work on all allies within a standard medium AoE. The bard has to be pretty close to the action, but can help everybody in range.
    - Vanilla bard song works on all party members on the map. Unlimited range, but summons don't get anything out of it.
    The following are a list of factors that will improve the effectiveness of the Skald or unkitted Bard:
    When I ran my "Wee Cant Spell" party, which banned all arcane and divine spellcasting, I brought along bards in both BG1 and BG2 (Garrick and Haer'Dalis). Full party? Check. Lots of warriors? Check - five of them. Focus on unlimited resources? Check - they basically only ever rested when a party member became fatigued.
    The bards got very few kills, and hardly ever did anything but sing. They were absolutely indispensable.
  • The_Baffled_KingThe_Baffled_King Member Posts: 114
    jmerry wrote: »
    - Vanilla bard song works on all party members on the map. Unlimited range, but summons don't get anything out of it..
    Huh, I had thought that was patched at the same time they made it non-stackable. My bad - I've edited my above post.
    jmerry wrote: »
    When I ran my "Wee Cant Spell" party, which banned all arcane and divine spellcasting ... The bards got very few kills, and hardly ever did anything but sing. They were absolutely indispensable.
    Not so long ago I did a run in IWD:EE on Insane (no XP or damage increase), which was the first time I played the game, using an unkitted Bard together with a F/C, F/D, F/M, F/T, and a Paladin. My Bard was particularly awesome because IWD improves unkitted Bards, but it would've been pretty good even without the IWD-specific bonuses. I read the BG1 part of "Wee Cant Spell", by the way. Other people's playthroughs are generally not my thing, but the themed playthroughs + puns are often good for a laugh.
  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 451
    edited May 12
    Why would you need to prebuff your Blade before every battle? Don't you have STR belts? Kundane + Belm? Shouldn't you be swimming in extra gold and potions (oh so many potions)? Didn't you buy a starting pack of Potions of Master Thievery and go on a stealing spree so you can dump on early game? Can the F/M combine Melf's Minute Meteors or any type of shapechanging ability with Offensive Spin?
    Granted, any bard sans Jester is a poor choice in solo now thanks to all the efforts to curtail stealing/pickpocketing and the fact that bards scale with teammates better than any other class. Bring a warrior with 10 APR and your Blade is suddenly doing a potential extra 40 damage per round thanks to Enhanced Bard Song and a singing image. Bring three warrior-types can you're potentially doing an extra 120 damage passively. Hell, you can even have your wizard/cleric/druid buddies join the fun with Energy Blades.
    That's bonkers-level powerful that easily puts bards above most classes, and the Skald is already doing some variation of this as early as BG1.

    Finally, there's a big lull around the later part of SoA (which you likely reached earlier because you solo) where the bard pretty much just IS an F/M, up until HLAs enter the picture. After you've used your thieving abilities to get you that early game advantage then as the F/M slowly catches up then both classes play similarly.
    And then ToB hits and you're suddenly swimming in high level gear and Potions of Heroism. At that point the blade once again becomes its own distinct archetype. If the F/M is more of scrapper, then the blade is more of a finesse fighter with the final fantasy equivalent of "limit breaks" thanks to trap HLAs, Offensive Spin + some configuration that gives you crazy damage/APR, gear stat stacking and potion chugging.

    The Jester is unfortunately a victim of attempts to D&D-ify BG2 more, which is unfortunate because the BG games originally went out of their way to apply the rule of fun over sticking to traditional D&D rules (hell, most of the mid-high level ruleset that the BG games use simply did not exist in traditional D&D, which is why your bard never gets spellcasting over level 6 for example - the rules are simply not defined, and no one bothered to create one in the tradition of the original BG games).
    It cannot use its song to create significant combat advantage the way Skalds can (at least not until much higher levels) and it lacks the combat abilities of the Blade. Once upon a time Jesters had a fallback -Invisibility+singing, which brought up some interesting tactical options.
    Post edited by Nuin on
  • wildernesswoodelfwildernesswoodelf Member Posts: 12
    edited May 12
    What's the advantage to playing your own bard vs just taking Haer Dalis? He gets innate fire/cold/electric damage, so isn't he automatically just straight up better than the main character as a bard?
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,338
    Haer'Dalis has some nice perks, yes - a bunch of resistances, +2 to hit and damage with short swords and potentially also long swords. He also has non-optimized stats - notably, no bonus HP from CON. Which rather takes the shine off all those resistances. A player-created character can get better stats, plus there's a unique bard stronghold if that's the protagonist. And BG1 is a thing, too - no Haer'Dalis in that game.
    Nuin wrote: »
    Why would you need to prebuff your Blade before every battle?
    Because bards are very squishy when they don't cast those defensive spells. Not a problem when you're standing back to sing and sling spells, but it's a big deal if you're trying to fight in melee. Thieves can keep the heat off them with stealth, but bards don't have that option. When you walk up to the enemy, they'll see you coming. And that means they're very likely to hit back.
    You talk about offensive potential, but that's not what you need to buff every time. Defense is. Going into melee without your defenses up, as any sort of bard, is always a serious risk.
  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 451
    edited May 12
    So adapt. Use summons like Ras' Dancing Blade, which is like a mini-Mordenkainen's. Summon fire/air elementals from their appropriate staffs. Cast slow, swap into jelly form + Offensive Spin, or use some other defensive form while inundating an area with cloudkills from the cloudkill wand if you absolutely need to tank something that hits really hard, or pelt things with ranged attacks (eg. MMM) + DUHM (you still get the max damage per hit and extra APR from Offensive Spin). Pop an invis potion/ring if you need to, since you'll have unlimited uses of these once you get the Staff of the Magi+UAI. Lure something into a small room or narrow corridor and watch the fireworks with Wand of Lightning spammage, just make sure you stock up on lightning resists.
    You essentially have unlimited cash and a guaranteed early game advantage if you know your way around stealing mechanics, so use it. It's not as strong as it used to be, but it's still there.
    But this is actual combat stuff and not prebuffing. I don't cast every important defensive buff unless I'm fighting super-powerful enemies, mostly it's just Stoneskin/AC buffs and the occasional SI:X.
  • morpheus562morpheus562 Member Posts: 153
    edited May 12
    I'm a huge fan of the Skald, especially modded. I personally use Bardic Wonders, and the Warsong of the Undying (Skald HLA Song) grants the following:
    • 10-point bonus to the skalds AC and +25% physical damage resistance
    • +5 bonus to hit, damage, and AC to all allies
    • +15% to all damage resistances to all allies
    • Immunity to fear, stun, and confusion to all allies
    • Haste to all allies
  • BardsSuck_BardsSuck_ Member Posts: 78
    Im happy theres still sanity in this forum and consensus agreeing jester is the worse, although soon someone will come out of the woods to claims its better than fighter mage or something.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,008
    I don’t doubt Jester would be in the running for any “worst character class” poll! On the other hand, that means someone will take that as the challenge for their next solo play!
  • wildernesswoodelfwildernesswoodelf Member Posts: 12
    Wait, so the only difference between the Jester and the other bards is that he has a crappy song?
    So the difference between being an S tier class and a C tier class is the quality of the song - therefore the song is the only good thing about the bard?
  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 451
    edited May 14
    Wait, so the only difference between the Jester and the other bards is that he has a crappy song?
    So the difference between being an S tier class and a C tier class is the quality of the song - therefore the song is the only good thing about the bard?
    Your argument made sense until that last sentence. I'm not sure how you made the logical leap from comparing a bard's song with that of other bards' and then going straight to comparing bards with other classes.
    The logic behind how the Jester is low tier is similar to the logic behind how your nose is critical to keeping you alive (and is therefore S+ tier) - very, very few people would appreciate having a second nose, or something that requires extra steps to do the very same things that your nose is doing.
  • wildernesswoodelfwildernesswoodelf Member Posts: 12
    Nuin wrote: »
    Wait, so the only difference between the Jester and the other bards is that he has a crappy song?
    So the difference between being an S tier class and a C tier class is the quality of the song - therefore the song is the only good thing about the bard?
    Your argument made sense until that last sentence. I'm not sure how you made the logical leap from comparing a bard's song with that of other bards' and then going straight to comparing bards with other classes.
    The logic behind how the Jester is low tier is similar to the logic behind how your nose is critical to keeping you alive (and is therefore S+ tier) - very, very few people would appreciate having a second nose, or something that requires extra steps to do the very same things that your nose is doing.

    The nose example is a very poor analogy because it isn't comparing multiple classes of thing against one another as the jester is being compared against other bards and failing due to one attribute.

    Suppose that x, y, and z are a type of forest, and all contain 4 trees.
    These are oak, maple, birch, and willow.
    We say that Y and Z are among the most beautiful forests in the world, but X is among the ugliest forest in the world.
    X, Y, and Z all have excellent oak, maple, and birch, but X happens to have ugly willow.
    It must be the case that willow is a very important tree in determining the beauty of the forest, because it is the only difference between X vs Y + Z.
  • JordiJordi Member Posts: 13
    Jesters were incredibly fun in the original SoA,
    Haven't tried in EE thought.
  • LammasLammas Member Posts: 208
    While I haven't played a Jester in ages the thing with bards in general is they are very strong even without their song. While the crappy song does make Jesters arguably the worst bards overall, they are still bards which in and of itself would make me place them rather high on any viability scale be it party play or ability to play solo.
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