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Old Sun, 6th May '12, 12:36pm   #1
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Default Weapon selection

Inspired by the discussion in the thief thread:

What do YOU consider the optimal way of utilizing the various weapons available during a full playthrough, BG1 (with or without Tutu) included?

In BG1 you have pretty decent selection of mostly anything except for clubs/maces/morningstars/flails and most exotic types such as Katanas. In BG2:SoA it'd be a cry and shame if no one can use Celestial Fury, Improved Mace of Disruption and/or Flail of Ages, all of which are of the types NOT readily available in BG1. And finally, ToB brings in the top quality ones with Axe of Unyielding, Ravager and Gram, all of which are AGAIN of the types of which there's only mediocre selection prior to them (axes) or are of type which are somewhat discouraged earlier (two-handed weapons) by the sheer superiority of dualwielding and/or shield use.

Obviously you mix and match according to the parties you decide to have with you, but it seems like there's no single best type anywhere, ie. always giving you the "best" current weapon. Which is, I guess, a good thing in that it makes the weapons selection an actually interesting choice rather than just going for the "best" every time.
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Old Sun, 6th May '12, 2:32pm   #2
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I don't personally believe dual wielding is all that superior to other weapon styles. It really only becomes good when Crom Faeyr is in the off hand. Typically I'll only have one character dual wield (a ranger or Korgan). Two handed weapons are the best weapons in the game, Carsomyr and Impaler really stand out in SoA. A staff is the first +4 weapon you can possess.

I rather like the increased critical chance with thieves and one-handed weapon is a good choice. Sword and shield is probably the least effective style but the AC bonus against missiles comes in handy every now and then.

If you look at the best weapons early in the game you will see an axe, a hammer, two-handed sword, a staff, and a flail (not to mention a good bow). It's interesting these choices just get better in ToB. The main late addition in ToB is halberd (amazingly you suddenly get a new character with halberd proficiency).
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Old Sun, 6th May '12, 7:12pm   #3
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Why put Crom in the off-hand when you can have almost as much STR naturally by the time you assemble it, or soon thereafter?

Other than f.ex. Korgan wanting to use both his belt and glove/bracer slot for something else than a STR item, I don't really see the differential from whatever you can otherwise get to 25 STR as such a big deal. Also, you need to sacrifice two STR enchancing items to get Crom, one of which is the only one going to the glove slot, and sometimes you'd rather spread the +STR goodness around. Most notably, Viconia could really use those gloves as she's such a natural for the Girdle of Fortitude so that she can don Full Plate & any Shield without inventory shuffle and/or fear of Dispel.

Main reasons I favor dualwielding is Belm and Kundane (or Scarlet Ninja-To if you get UAI), as they allow you an extra attack with whatever happens to be your main weapon. Especially if you can't get Greater Whirlwind for whatever reason, dualwield + imp. haste is pretty good substitute, and one or two more attacks per round from level one all the way to 3M exp is HUGE no matter how you slice it.
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Old Sun, 6th May '12, 11:31pm   #4
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The best you can get naturally is a 20 (+3 to hit, +8 damage) by the time you can get Crom Faeyr. You can have a belt which will give you a 21 (+4 to hit, +9 damage). You give up a girdle of frost giant strength (said +4, +9) and bracers of ogre power (+3 to hit, +6 damage) to get titan strength with +7 to hit and +14 damage -- a worthwhile trade off. My protagonist rarely uses CF and usually has a 19 strength at the start of SoA and will eventually get 20 or 21. There are plenty of strength items (and strength enhancements in general) to go around without worrying about combining two for a vastly superior weapon.

One extra attack is nothing compared to +7 to hit and +14 damage -- at least not in SoA.
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Old Mon, 7th May '12, 2:08am   #5
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In BG1, Enchanted Bows > Composite Bows > Long Bows/Crossbow of Speed > everything else. Doesn't matter with or without TuTu.

In BG2, the selection is much more varied, and I find it much easier to tailor a particular NPC around using particular weapon types instead of the other way round. "Optimum" would depend on how well the weapon allows the NPC perform his/her function. Like T2Bruno, I do not believe an extra attack is always justified. When 4-6 NPCs (+ any number of summoned minions) attack something at the same time their main concern is usually to kill their target instantly or do the most damage right before their target can retaliate with a powerful spell or use an ability like Winged Buffet. If the game was strictly turn-based and I could always depend on having people sit still and perform all their attacks per round -every- -single- -time- while everyone else took their turns moving (ie, no direct retaliation, no disruption, no need to retreat because a dragon is hitting me for 50 damage per attack) then almost everyone in my parties would be dual-wielding. This is not the case in BG2.

Bonus: two-handed weapon also have more reach, so there is a much lower chance for a two-handed user to draw the attention of their target.

So in BG2 Wave/Vorpal/Carsomyr/Lilarcor/Dragon's Breath: Minsc/Keldorn for burst damage, safe damage. Arbane's/Sword of Mask/Llbratha/Kundane/Sword of Backstabbing/Cutthroat: Mazzy and HD for utility weapons and damage - no other weapon type offers a large selection of both at the same time. Mazzy switches to bows for damage (Gesen/Tuigan - damage). HD has defensive spells so ideally all one-handed weapons are fair game. He usually gets Tuigan or Belm/Scarlet and Kundane in my games - all arguments regarding extra attacks go out the window with Offensive Spin (max damage per hit on all attacks is optimal, right?).

Celestial Fury/Adjatha/Jhor/etc (damage-oriented weapons with some utility): Yoshimo and Valygar, Yoshimo uses single weapon style. Not like anyone else can use these weapons. Imoen and Nalia: utility shortbows like Tansheron's. Their weapon switch depends on what I need - call it the "weapon-with-game-changing-skills" category (Namarra/Ras/Daystar). Mace of Disruption/Flail of Ages - anyone free, usually the clerics or Valygar/Korgan (late).
Stonefire/Azuredge/Frostfire, Korgan (he's so deep in axes when you get him, there's not much point in switching early). I sometimes have Korgan dual-wield but adjustments have to be made for pitiful AC and lack of defensive spells. Ultimately Korgan may go two-handed weapons because I can spare neither the resources nor time/effort to keep him happily alive at point blank melee range. He sometimes gets Crom.

ToB is not so different, except for particular NPC's like Jaheira/Korgan. Almost everyone else just gets an upgrade.

If I were to create my own NPC's I'd favor short swords for utility, two-handed weapons for paladins specifically and dual-wielded katanas/long swords/flails for damage for everyone else except classes with very specific limitations/needs. No Crom, all my warriors will be able to reach 25 str on their own. Mace of Disruption isn't worth sinking a proficiency point for imo, you just need to actually hit things with it.

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Old Mon, 7th May '12, 3:01pm   #6
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How do all warriors reach 25 strength without cheating?
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Old Mon, 7th May '12, 6:15pm   #7
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Not sure about 25, but 24 is plenty doable. Start with 19, boost it to 20 in BG1. Get two (or was it three?) more in Hell Trials and one more from Machine of Lum.

I'm plenty aware that there's quite a difference between 19 and 25 STR but with all the other direct additions to damage (proficiency, gauntlets of weapon specialization etc.) it kinda disappears into the background noise, ESPECIALLY if you lose a whole attack per round for it.

Single combined hit kills half a millisecond after the monster appears, that I won't argue. Good point as well.
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Old Mon, 7th May '12, 7:30pm   #8
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He said ALL warriors. You can only start with 19 in BG1 with Tutu and a half-orc -- that's pretty limiting. You also must be evil to get the bonus in the Hell Trials -- even more limiting. A good, non-orc character will hit a 20 strength -- which would include paladins and rangers here. Granted an evil orc will hit 24 (+6, +12 is not bad).

A rough calculation using Celestial Fury in the main hand (GM in katanas and Gauntlets of Weapon Skill), either belm (with Girdle of Frost Giant Strength) or Crom Faeyr in the off hand, the damage (assuming all attacks hit) is comparable: three attacks plus belm gives 88 points of damage, while two attacks plus Crom gives 81.5 points of damage (averaging out the lightning strike but not the stunning). You're going to have an additional +3 to hit with the main hand while using Crom Faeyr (not much) and an additional +6 to hit with the off hand (could be significant).

The difference goes to over 10 points of damage in ToB in favor of Belm (112.25 versus 101.75) where you can add Foebane, Girdle of Fire Giant Strength and Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization to the mix. The evil half-orc can do 121.25 damage per round (Foebane and Belm).

On the other hand, using Belm with the Axe of the Unyielding would be much better than using Crom Faeyr.
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Old Mon, 7th May '12, 9:26pm   #9
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Boy, you guys are such role-players....
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Old Mon, 7th May '12, 10:09pm   #10
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Yes, limitations apply. As always. My current NE half-orc F/T happens to aim for that particular 24 STR special case, but he's also going for GM in Quarterstaff courtesy of unnerfed mastery/multiclass mastery mods to spice it up a little.

On a larger scale, of course it's possible to customize any NPC to use any class-allowed weapon, but I'm thinking optimization within the the proficiencies already present and the ones they will acquire "fast enough".

For the specific example of Korgan, even if you acquire him early on, he needs two more proficiency points before dual-wielding becomes a good idea. Even then, it's most likely an axe/axe combo. At least three if you want to use Kundane/Belm with him. Should you want any other main hand weapon and you pretty much need five. If you are to wait that long, you might as well make him a GM in Halberds, Spears or Two-handed swords to GWW with since you're going to be in ToB by then anyway..

Also, I'm not denying the power of Crom - it's very nice as an off-hand, does competitive damage even when compared to Belm/Kundane off-hands and is one of the very few +5 weapons in SoA. However, it does cost you the only non-weapon, non-belt source of permanent & decent STR enhancement that I'm aware of. Especially nasty minus if you have Viconia with you, if you ask me.

Any level one warrior (pure, mc or dual) can get specialization in one (rangers two) weapon type and two pips in dual-wield and that doesn't improve much even if you go all the way to GM and three pips in non-modded rules. But other than going dualwield scimitars from Tutu, there's always going to be more or less superfluous (some other type would be better at a certain point) or conflicting (f.ex. you can't use your melee AND ranged at the same time) weapon proficiencies. The question is how to keep the waste to its minimum, with the weapon availability in mind.
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Old Tue, 8th May '12, 3:46am   #11
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All of them would be multiclassed. Ranger/clerics, possibly, except for the PC who will be some kind of arcane caster/fighter hybrid. All clerics (and paladins with spells) can reach 25 strength easy in BG2 with levels. If I have to make do with playing completelynon-interactive NPCs then I'm going all out on cheese.

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Old Wed, 9th May '12, 6:35am   #12
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I'm jumping in late, but debates on which weapons to use, dual-welding vs 2-handed vs sword & shield have been going on for over a decade. Shouldn't the fact that they are still so hotly (but cordially) debated mean that the game designers did a good job making sure that the different styles are rather well balanced and well designed so that it's more a matter of personal preference than any overwhelming advantage?
That is the mark of a good game where you can customize the character and choose your weapon and style. The fact that you can do equally well with all of them, with none having a overwhelming advantage means you can have a high replay value using different methods without a major change in difficulty.

Just a few thoughts.
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Old Wed, 9th May '12, 8:16pm   #13
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Agreed. A decade of number-crunching hasn't revealed a clear winner, which is pretty good thing when balance is concerned.

However, I'm not really debating which style is best but how to put the proficiency points best to use, both those already present and those acquired by the time certain especially noteworthy weapons become available.

For example, having all of your warriors specialize on two-handed swords is NOT a good idea since there's only so many top quality ones. Two, in fact, if you count Carsomyr as well, doubly as many as most other types. Also, it's pretty unique among weapon types that that two of them (Lilarcor/Silver Sword) can be an useful option for such a long time.

On the other hand, although Celestial Fury is such a nice piece of equipment, there's only a single NPC with the proficiency for it (Valygar) and Katanas lack a +5 alternative in ToB so that's definitely sub-optimal as a long-term plan.

Finally, GWW puts a real spin into the calculations. Two-handed weapons lack the extreme dps alternative (no Crom/Belm/Kundane off-hand) until then, but all of a sudden they top the meters, both in straight damage, reach and being available in +6 varieties later on.
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Old Thu, 10th May '12, 7:16am   #14
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I should point out that I nearly always have the ill-fated Yoshimo wield Celestial Fury until I rescue Imoen.

Point is, there are two NPCs that have Katana proficiencies.


Also, more on the issue you raised. It isn't as much of an issue considering that Rangers can't go beyond specialized, so by the time you're finding +4 and +5 weapons, you should have been able to put two stars in something else so you can wield Celestial Fury as an off-hand weapon. Although Valygar's own weapon isn't bad either, unlike Yoshimo's pathetic +1 katana.
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Old Thu, 10th May '12, 5:20pm   #15
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Yeah, rangers seem to have easiest in terms of weapon proficiencies since they get dualwield for free from the start and can't advance to grandmastery. By level 30 they ought to be specialized in no less than 7 different weapons, 6 if you decide to forgo dualwield in lieu of some other style. That's pretty huge coverage.

To carry on with the "nice, but no cigar" ideas:
- Dualwielding with Jaheira: You can get her Blackblood club and Belm+2 by just doing Trademeet quests early. However, she needs at least level 12 in Fighter before she can use them together well enough.
- Jan Jansen and shortbows: Sure, Tuigan/Tansheron/Gesen are nice, but he needs to get to level 12 as Thief first. That could take a while. So if you can get him the Light Crossbow of Speed early on, do so. Dualwielding anything with him takes at least level 16 AND you need a mod that allows more than one pip in dualwielding for rogues.
- Anyone aiming for dualwield with two different one-handers with grandmastery in both: Sure it's nice on paper, but do you REALLY want to wait until level 27 to achieve it? You'll do better with GM in a two-handed of choice, together with the two-handed weapon style long, long before that since you'll be swimming in GWWs by then.
- Any character dependent on finding & assembling Gram: Don't, you get it so late that there's only a pitiful few areas remaining to put it into use. Getting there as a natural culmination of things is another thing, DEPENDING on getting there is another.
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Old Sat, 12th May '12, 6:29am   #16
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Grandmastery is way overrated in general (at least BG2 GM without mods). Specialized gives you the most powerful benefit (the extra half attack) but that does not help your off hand. Specialized is more than good enough and heck just being proficient is enough really (though obviously more is better).
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Old Sat, 12th May '12, 11:23am   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Rechet View Post
- Anyone aiming for dualwield with two different one-handers with grandmastery in both: Sure it's nice on paper, but do you REALLY want to wait until level 27 to achieve it? You'll do better with GM in a two-handed of choice, together with the two-handed weapon style long, long before that since you'll be swimming in GWWs by then.
If you start with specialised in longswords and then put points in dual wielding and then start putting points in your secondary weapon skill, you'll be effective with at least longswords from the beginning (of BG2, anyway) and there's a lot of nice longswords out there to use.

Normally, though, I tend to give dual wielding with more than one weapon to guys that can't put more than two points in any weapon type anyway. A barbarian is a natural choice for dual wielding because of this. They can be proficient in almost all of the single weapon types by the end of ToB - they have more points than they could spend effectively if you'd give them two-handed weapons

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- Any character dependent on finding & assembling Gram: Don't, you get it so late that there's only a pitiful few areas remaining to put it into use. Getting there as a natural culmination of things is another thing, DEPENDING on getting there is another.
Any character that should eventually get Gramm would be able to use any other greatswords in the game as well anyway. You can get that sword that the genie in chateau Irenicus gives you almost straight away, then there's Lilarcor pretty soon after, if you're not good aligned you can get a nice one in the Underdark as well and you could assemble the Silver sword as well once you get back from the Underdark. By the time you get to ToB you should've been able to put points in a secondary skill already and you could start using the Ravager, the Impaler, or Ixil's spike depending on your preferences. Then there's also the Psion blade.

In short: there's a great weapon selection up until you reach Gramm, so I don't see the problem.

For me, the optimal way to use the various weapons throughout the series is by having a party with as little as possible overlap in different weapon types (at least to start with, by the end it's ok to have some overlap), so that I can actually use all these weapons.
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Old Sat, 12th May '12, 8:07pm   #18
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Well yes, the two-handed swords category was rather bad example since you pretty much always have two current best alternatives, three if you count Carsomyr. Silver Sword and Lilarcor are pretty equal in power - one defensive, the other more offensive while Psion and Gramm build a similar pair in ToB. Good point.

Speaking of which.. It just dawned on me that long swords are actually a rather mediocre choice. Sure you can get Blade of Roses early in BG2, but in combat terms it's just a plain old +3 sword. Blackrazor comes late and has alignment restrictions, and you get nothing better before Angurvadaal, which also comes in relatively late. Even the "lowly" Blackblood Club is arguably better weapon quite a bit into ToB due to its acid damage.

On the other hand, Bastard Swords fail to impress much pretty much all the way until you get Foebane, which is both quite impressive AND available very early in ToB, including its +5 upgrade. In other words, it could be a good idea to make sure one of your frontliners has two pips in Bastard Sword right about when you start ToB.

I'm also plenty aware that GM is a waste of proficiency points if you have more pressing needs, but any points you just plain stop using at some point must be even bigger waste, right? You can only ever use two different single-handed proficiencies at the same time, otherwise it's just one.
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Old Sat, 12th May '12, 10:49pm   #19
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Long swords are a solid choice because there's plenty of choice to go around. There's Daystar very early on which is one of the few weapons out there that make the fight with a certain demi-lich much easier, then there's Adjatha the Drinker which has immunity to charm, qualifying it at least as a good off hand weapon. The Sword of Flame is not that great but easily available from the very start and able to kill trolls and disrupt mages. Dragon Slayer is also available quite early on and not that bad.

Later weapons like the Equaliser, Blackrazor and Angurvadal are good enough as end game equipment, as far as I'm concerned. Equaliser is a great off hand weapon for it's immunity to both charm and confusion. Angurvadal (and Foebane, for that matter) can be obtained in SoA already, as soon as you feel confident enough to go to the Watcher's Keep.

And if you start your adventures in BG1, long swords specialisation is one of the better weapon types to be proficient in, as are two-handed swords and warhammers.

While it's true that you can only use two different weapons at the same time, the barbarian in my earlier example has scimitars, bastard swords, axes and long swords in his weapon slots. By the end of the game anyway.
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Old Sun, 13th May '12, 1:57am   #20
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I tend to disagree with one item Sir Rechet -- the Silver Sword is insanely powerful. IMO it's the most powerful (i.e., deadly) weapon in SoA. Only the dispel ability of Carsomyr even puts the holy avenger in the same league as a vorpal sword. A 25% chance to outright kill an opponent (granted the target gets a save at -2).
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Old Sun, 13th May '12, 10:23am   #21
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I agree with T2B on the Silver Sword. Once I get it, I tend to use it all the time, with occasional use for Lilarcor for when I expect danger to be charmed. In terms of vorpal hitting, it's much better than even the Ravager or the Axe of the Unyielding. If it was more than a +3 weapon, I'd probably use it in favour of other weapons in ToB.
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Old Sun, 13th May '12, 10:44am   #22
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Silver sword IS powerful, I never contested that. But just as much as it is powerful, it's outright dangerous to yourself if the character wielding it gets charmed and starts whaling at your own party. You don't have that problem with Lilarcor. Sure you can use Chaotic Command and its cousins but having them active 24/7 is no small feat.

Oh, my bad about Angurvadal - you can actually get the unimproved version rather early and it's already +4, where as many other top weapons are only +3 when found first. However, I do have issues with many of the specialty long swords in SoA being only +2 in enchantment. They're absolutely great in their own niche, but in generic damage dealing they're mediocre at best.

Anyway, back to my original point. It's been proven, time after time during the last decade, that it's rather pointless debating which weapon/style combo is the "best" without going into the specifics. So, I'm after YOUR personal 'fits like a glove' matches between the proficiency efficiency, weapon availability in that category, the timing when you can actually get the weapon(s) in question and last but not least, the overall ownage level of the said weapon(s) as compared to any other choice.

And in the specific case of a good-aligned F/M/T dualwielder, there is a ton of worse choices than going dual scimitar, especially if you have unnerfed mastery AND multiclass mastery mods installed. F/M/T gets so very few proficiency points (only one every 2,250,000 experience points after the easy initial ones) that any sidetracking is costly business. There are absolutely GREAT scimitars available very early in both BG1 and BG2 and you only need to reach level 9 in Fighter to get to GM, while level 12 completes the build with the last pip in dualwielding.

Using the standard rules, a ranger can dual-wield two different weapons effectively starting at level one. However, there's pretty much nothing he can do with the remaining 10+ points during the game to further increase his overall performance. Sure, being flexible is a bonus, but isn't that exactly what you plan ahead for when deciding who is going to be in your party this time?
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Old Wed, 16th May '12, 5:04am   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T2Bruno View Post
I tend to disagree with one item Sir Rechet -- the Silver Sword is insanely powerful. IMO it's the most powerful (i.e., deadly) weapon in SoA. Only the dispel ability of Carsomyr even puts the holy avenger in the same league as a vorpal sword. A 25% chance to outright kill an opponent (granted the target gets a save at -2).
I thought the 25% chance was only on a critical, maybe I misread it or misremembered it (I've had this game since 2003). Hmm, the sword is worth a second look then if does have a chance to outright kill the opponent 1 time in four.
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