A look at all of the skills in the archery tree. Explains the fundamental ideas of the archery tree, what it offers, and an explanation of the uses of all of the skills in the tree.
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The blades tree focuses on outputting damage with physical weaponry. Ironically only five abilities in this tree, including passives and subclass abilities, require a melee weapon. The tree excels at outputting heavy single target damage, bypassing enemy defenses, crippling enemies with the use of debuffs, and delivering lethal blows. Allows characters to use medium armor, as well as daggers and parrying daggers. Characters with this tree can subclass into assassins.
Deals slightly increased damage as well as ignoring up to 50 armor. Can be upgraded to gain the penetrating tag. This means that the attack would ignore armor entirely. This is a fair skill that provides a situational increase to damage. Using this skill over your normal attack against unarmored enemeis for the small damage increase generally isn't worth the energy use. Normally the 50 armor ignored is sufficient. The only cases where the penetrating tag is useful is against extremely heavily armored enemies such as gargoyles, and against enemies that have natural armor in addition to a buff to armor such as +30 armor static modifier that enemies will sometimes have naturally. In most cases +10% damage is superior, however it all depends on the situation at hand.
Deals heavily reduced damage and reduces the targets quickness by 30. Can be upgraded to a quick action. Cripple is more effective against slower enemies and in some circumstances can be better than a direct stun at supressing an enemy. This normally occurs when the target is hit with cripple shortly after they take a turn so that cripple is able to work for the maximum duration. In some cases cripple can cause an enemy to lose out on almost two potential turns making it more effective than a stun. However in many cases it will only act at a pseudo stun. Additionally it's not very helpful when an enemy is close to taking a vital turn and they absolutely must be prevented from doing so. Cripple will only slightly delay their turn in this case which often times with enemies like strong healers and summoners won't be enough. Upgrading cripple to a quick action makes it a much stronger skill that often times will be stronger than stun abilities because of the relatively minor investment required.
Deal reduced damage and causes the target to lose 75 power. Can be upgraded too a quick action. This ability isn't quite as powerful as it looks. Most of the enemies you would want to use this on will be residing in the backline meaning that, since this skill is melee only, by the time you can hit the enemies you'd like to use this on you've already dispatched of the entire front rank. By time if you've dispatched of the entire front rank either the back rank caster are already short on energy or using sap strength isn't relevant any more. The best potential use for this is to debilitate some bosses. A small upside to this ability is that, when you take the quick action upgrade, it actually acts as a damage increase over your basic attack.
Fan of Blades
Deals damage to all enemies in the front rank based on dexterity. Quick action. Can be upgraded to become a tool. If you're building a strength based character, you're out of luck on this one. If you're character is dexterity based though, this may be of some use. This isn't a very strong AoE so often times the best use you'll find for this is to finish off an enemy while still dealing some damage to other enemies. The obvious comparison here is cleave, so let's see how fan of blades stacks up to cleave. Cleave deals more damage than fan of blades in almost all circumstances. Fan of blades though can be used from the back line and is a quick action (instant action with preparation and tool upgrade). So essentially fan of blades is simply a light version of cleave. Use to finish off enemies in the front row or to spready damage in order to deal with storng single target heals.
Deals a lethal blow to a stunned enemy within weapon range. Can be upgraded to a half action. Normally you'll be best off pairing this ability with another character who has a reliable stun, such as pin. Useful for dealing with durable enemies who would normally require more than two or three attacks to take out. The primary difficulty you'll run into when trying to use this is syncing your stunning and killing character properly. If the stunned target is able to act before your coup-de-grace user this won't be very effective. This can be mitigated a bit by upgrading it into a half action. Keep in mind this won't work against boss enemies.
Deals reduced damage to the enemy back rank with severely reduced accuracy and reduced accuracy cap. This ability is, unfortunately, rather underwhelming. It's essentially half of a hail of arrows but with lower accuracy cap, lower accuracy reduction, and only hitting half as many targets. The accuracy reduction kills this ability because the number of targets attacked by it simply doesn't justify the -40 accuracy. There wont be many cases where you'll be inclined to use this. Even if you can get an accuracy buff to use with this, you'll still cap your accuracy at 70% making this an extremely situational, unreliable, and generally underwhelming skill.
A Note on Poisons
These abilities all share some characteristics that need to be discussed. Firstly they are all tools meaning that they benefit from preparation. Using them with preparation makes them servicable but in most cases not spectacular. Upgrading the duration of these abilities does NOT increase the duration of the debuff applied to enemies. It only increases how many turns the posion persists on your weapon. Finally, these poisons work with AoE skill like sneak assault. If you want to milk the most out of them AoE is probably the best way to go about it.
Applies a poison to your weapon that causes enemies struck with it to suffer from cancelled health regeneration, reduced poison resistance, and to take damage based on intellect after the effect wears off. Quick action. This ability is somewhat of a paradox. It's okay, if a bit slow to act, on characters with high intellect, however any characters who have access to it almost certainly won't be building intellect. Perhaps this ability will be useful if, in the future, new classes are introduced who can justify this ability. Unfortunately -25% poison resistance and no health regen isn't really a big deal for most enemies. This ability has future potential, but currently it's rather underwhelming because of the long damage delay and the limited number of builds that it's relevant to.
Applies a poison to your weapon that causes enemies struck with it to suffer from cancelled health regeneration, reduced speed, and reduced damage dealt. Quick action. Probably the most useful poison for most builds that have access to it besides intellect based underbosses. Unfortunately it's, like the other options, also rather underwhelming. This acts more to hinder enemies than to cripple them. The cancellation of health regeneration is, for the most part, pointless. The speed penalty is definitely nice but it's not that big. The damage penalty, like the speed penalty, isn't that big. This skill will only prove to be a nuissance to enemies.
Applies a poison to your weapon that causes enemies struck with it to suffer minor damage based on intellect each turn as well as cancelling health regeneration. Quick Action. This is the simplest of the three poisons and probably what first comes to mind when you think of weapon poisons. The poison is long lasting, and deals fairly low damage each turn. It acts faster than insidious poison but has lower damage potential. I would consider this ability to be about on par with insidious poison. Insidious poison can deal more damage, but potent poison deals some damage sooner, as well as dealing more damage over the full duration per application.
Up Close and Personal
Whenever you deal damage with a melee attack, you regain 5 power. Hitting multiple enemies with a single attack causes this to trigger multiple times in one turn. This a solid ability for manageing your power. You can generally consider this to be roughly equivalent to havin +5 power regen. Sometimes it's better due to AoE attacks like cleave. Sometimes it's worse because you may miss an attack.
While equipped with a melee weapon gain +20 resist melee. Keep in mind that melee resistance and armor are two seperate stats that stack multiplicatively. To find the total damage reducation your character would have to melee with parry subtract your armor percentage form one, then multiply that number by 0.8. Then subtrat the resulting number from one to see exactly how much damage is being negated. For example if my character has 40% armor along with parry, we start by subtracting 0.4 from 1 resulting in 0.6. Then we multiply this by 0.8 and get 0.32. Finally we subtract this number from one and see that we are reducing incoming melee damage by a total of 48%. This skill, tohugh it is fairly simple, is decently powerful and definitely worth investing in for melee builds.
Element of Surprise
The first attack made each encounter has an additional 25% crit chance. Provides the chance for that bit of extra burst coming right out of the gate. As with all abilities of this nature don't rely on it because it's not a guarentee to actually work (unless your already above 75% crit chance to begin with). It's probably best to pretend you don't have this and play the way you would anyway if it weren't there. If it works, great. If it doesn't work it's no big deal.
Makes the first tool used each encounter an instant action. The tools currently available are the following:
- Insidious Poison
- Enervating Poison
- Potent Poison
- Upgraded Fan of Blades
All of these except for shurikens are quick actions to begin with so this loses some of it's effectiveness on them. I can't make any recommendations on what you should this for because it all really depends on the situation at hand. Normally shuriken, if it's available, will give the highest damage potential. Regardless of this it really depends on the situation that you encounter.
Increases crit chance by 15% and crit damage by 100%. Provides a fairly high boost to average damage. Because of it's nature it tends to be fairly unreliable. Scales incredibly well with additional crit chance. Normally you'll want to use this when trying to output additional damage to enemies at fairly high hp or to attempt to finish off low health enemies that can't be taken care of with other styles or abilities. When this hits, it's spectacular. When this doesn't hit it's awful.
Causes your attacks to apply a poison to enemies that does damage each turn based on intellect as well as having a duration based on intellect. This suffers from the same issue as insidious and potent poison. Anyone who has access besides underbosses probably isn't building intellect. Unless you're either building intellect, or need just that little bit of extra damage to finish an enemy off and this is the only reliable way to get that, I would recommend staying away from this one. It may be a decent idea on long encounters like bosses and legendary monsters, but even then you need to weigh your available options.
Gives +10 armor piercing and causes all attacks to ignore half of enemy resistances. This is a very niche fighting style that you won't find your self using very often, if at all. It honestly feels kind of underwhelming for being the capstone fighting style for the tree. This is mostly useful against lightly armoed enemies that don't justify using pierce defenses, and when you need to circumvent a resistance. The most relevant resistances that you'll be using this against are resist melee, resist weapon, and if you're using a bow resist missile. The most useful of these is probably resist missile because of the widespread avilability of cover tiles. I suspect this may allow lethal blows to instantly kill bosses, however I'm not sure. If someone has tested this please let me know.
Deals heavy damage and never misses. Can only be used against debuffed enemies. The damage provided by this ability is very substantial for the power cost with the downside being minor compared to abilities like coup-de-grace. Debuffs should be fairly plentiful and often times this won't requireset up. When it does require set up the set should be fairly minor and easily manageable (depending on party composition of course).
An attack made with reduced accuracy and slightly reduced accuracy cap. Quick Action. Assuming you have a bit of extra accuracy to compensate for the accuracy loss, this is an excellent way to greatly increase damage output. The downside is minor with a bit of added accuracy, the power cost is more than manageable, and the damage is great. Unfortunately the cooldown is fairly long. In pure damage situations you'll generally want to use this right off of cooldown to push as much damage as possible.
Deals damage at range base don dexterity with 50% added lethality chance. This ability is decent, nothing spectacular though. Most of the time you use this it will probably be because it was the best choice to use preparation with. The cooldown is very long at five turns so you'll rarely get the chance to use this multiple times per encounter. When the lethality does not proc the damage is rather poor because it scales with dexterity rather than weapon damage. Not a great ability over all due to the unreliability. Fortunately preparation acts as a saving grace for it.