A quick and dirty overview of Bardin's weapons and talents, explaining their strengths and weaknesses to help you make your own builds.
Bardin's Weapons and Talents Overview
I've played Vermintide 2 for near on 300 hours, all of which have been spent on Bardin (to be fair, I tried Kruber once. Didn't like it, camera was too far off the ground.) I put this together to help intermediate players understand the roles of different weapons and talents, to help you make your own builds. This is all based on my personal experience with the game, and I won't be breaking out any spreadsheets. This guide does not contain any specific builds or detailed information on breakpoints and optimal stats, just a quick overview so you can easily look up how different weapons and talents play in practice.
The greataxe has great alpha damage and damage output against single targets, and is excellent for both elites and monsters. That said, it's slow, has poor dodge, and struggles against hordes. Slayer can make great use of it thanks to getting a second melee to deal with hordes, but on other classes you'll probably want either a versatile or anti-horde melee weapon.
The one-handed axe is a faster and more versatile alternative to the greataxe. It has slightly worse alpha damage and damage output, but far better dodge and speed. It can fill the same role of killing elites/monsters while also being usable against hordes, assuming you stack attack speed.
Dual axes have very high attack speed, damage output, and dodge, but lack cleave, stagger, and block. It's good for killing monsters and unarmored elites, but struggles with hordes and armor. Hard to use, but a good option in combination with another melee weapon.
Axe and Shield
Axe and shield is Bardin's safest weapon by far. It has immense block, amazing crowd control, and farms THP at an insane rate. It fares well against all targets, but kills slowly and suffers from poor dodge. Kill speed isn't much of an issue until Cata, so it's a little overpowered for Legend and below. For Cata, axe and shield means your melee is purely for crowd control, and you'll need to rely on your ranged weapons and/or your teammates to deal damage.
Hammer and Shield
Hammer and shield is mostly the same as axe and shield, except it kills hordes slightly faster at the expense of worse single target damage. I would argue the versatility of axe and shield makes it a better option for most situations, but hammer and shield can be good on Ranger if you actively use your ranged weapon to kill elites/monsters.
The one-handed hammer is a quick and versatile weapon. A lot of players consider it a very good defensive weapon, but I find that it performs poorly in all situations. Very much a jack-of-all-trades situation.
The greathammer has great single target damage against armor, and its high stagger allows it to keep hordes at bay if needed. Being a two-hander, it's slow and has poor dodge, so it's still not a great choice for killing hordes.
The coghammer is something of a reverse greathammer. Its light attacks are aimed at killing hordes, and its heavy attack deals high alpha damage against single targets. I would argue that light attacks for hordes and heavy attacks for single target is better than the reverse, making the coghammer a mostly superior choice to its older brother.
Dual hammers are by far Bardin's best weapon for killing hordes. They have high stagger, good dodge, and their combination of high stagger cleave, wide arc, and good attack speed means you're essentially putting up a wall in front of yourself that only very dense hordes and break through. It's very safe and still pretty killy, and has decent alpha damage against armor to boot. Its single target damage output is lacking and it doesn't have the best block, but it's hard to go wrong with dual hammers.
The war pick is an extreme one trick pony. Its easy to land headshots, and heavy attacks deal tremendous alpha damage, but that's the one thing this weapon does. Apart from the alpha damage, the damage output is horrendous, the attack speed is slow, it's got very little cleave, poor dodge, and so on. The only class that can really make use of the war pick is Slayer, who can take a fast horde killing weapon to complement it and/or stack Trophy Hunter, Skullsplitter, and Smiter to reach further one-hit breakpoints. Even then you'd be devoting most of your build to a gimmick, and it could be argued you'd be better off not being such a weirdy and just using an axe. With the release of the Engineer came the coghammer, which has almost as high alpha damage with its heavy attacks, but whose light attacks are wide and stagger well, making it a much more versatile weapon with largely the same function.
The crossbow used to be the meta ranged weapon for Bardin, but has faded into obscurity after it got nerfed and the hangun got buffed. The crossbow has a lot of ammo, pierces enemies, and reloads fast, giving it a pretty decent fire rate. It's also pretty accurate from the hip, but can become pinpoint if you spend a quick moment ADSing. Back when it could reliably bodyshot specials and elites, there was literally no downside to it. Now it's got less damage, meaning in order to pull off one-shots you're gonna need to go for headshots, which can be tough given that it's a physical projectile with travel time, and a bit of drop over range. If you're able to consistently headshot with it, it's an amazing weapon, but in the heat of battle you're usually better off with something that's easier to use.
The handgun is the new meta ranged weapon, able to one-shot bodyshot most specials. With the right properties and Enhanced Power you can one-shot all important specials with a bodyshot, and one-shot the rest with a headshot. Even without power stacking, some careful aim still nets you a one-shot so long as you're able to take headshots. It's got a lot of ammo, and reloads reasonably quickly. The only real downside is that it's very inaccurate when firing from the hip, and it demands that you spend some time ADSing to make proper use of it.
The masterwork pistol is like a smaller, more gimmicky handgun. In theory it does the same damage, but at range it's slower, less accurate and has hefty damage falloff over range. At close range you can fan the hammer and spam out six incredibly inaccurate shots. It's a good weapon for killing patrols, and it's got high monster damage if you're willing to throw out most of your ammo, but it's not as reliable for dealing with specials as the handgun.
The grudge-raker is okay at killing hordes, and can take out unarmored specials at close range with one or two shots. I've always found it underwhelming, since you can kill hordes in melee far more safely and almost as quickly. Now that Engineer is out, the minigun really blows this thing out of the water.
Drakefire pistols are a jack-of-all-trades weapon with okay range, okay accuracy, okay damage, and so on. It's decent against both specials and hordes, and doesn't rely on ammo.
The drakegun literally melts hordes at close range, but it's a very risky weapon, and leaves you with no way to kill specials - or anything else, for that matter - at range. Engineer can make up for this with Gromril-Plates Shots, but even then you're probably better off using the regular minigun for hordes and your ranged weapon for sniping specials.
Ranger Veteran Talents
Ranger Veteran has always been a somewhat underwhelming career, and the release of Outcast Engineer made it virtually obsolete. The only thing Ranger brings to the table that other careers don't is a bit of team utility in the form of ammo pickups and some buffs to attack speed and THP.
- Ranger Veteran has THP on stagger, THP on cleave, and healshare. Either THP option is good depending on your melee weapon. Healshare is crap, but ever so slightly less crap on Ranger Veteran due to his 10% chance not to consume healing items when used.
- Ranger Veteran isn't particularly good in melee, so neither Last Resort nor Foe-Feller are all that useful. Last Resort can be used for a gimmicky throwing axe build, and the extra 5% attack speed from Foe-Feller pretty pitiful, being heavily outclassed by the cooldown reduction from Master of Improvisation. Master of Improvisation is the go-to choice for most builds.
- You're pretty much always gonna take Enhanced Power on a ranged class, since it's the only option that helps your ranged weapon. Enhanced Power is also decent for melee in all situations, so sacrificing 7.5% ranged power for only slightly better melee isn't worth it.
- Both Field Rations and Scavenger are unreliable due to their RNG. Field Rations provides a decent buff for your team, but the drinking animation means you'll only want to pick up the ale it drops when you're between encounters, which can mean doubling back or having to stop and check with your teammates regarding who ought to drink, making it an underwhelming talent in practice.
- Scavenger is incredibly unreliable at a 20% base chance for a drop, and the drop itself being a 1/5 shot at getting what you want. If you use potions and bombs responsibly your team will often be at full or near full capacity anyway, so Scavenger isn't even that useful when it procs.
- Grungi's Cunning increases the ammo drop from specials from 10% to 30%, giving your team virtually unlimited ammo, making it the go-to choice for every build except throwing axes.
- Extra movement speed is fun, but No Dawdling doesn't give enough to outrun enemies, even if you have 5% movement speed on your trinket. It can potentially make dodge dancing a little easier, but it's strongly outclassed by Exuberance. Since Exuberance procs off of both ranged and melee hits, it effectively gives you a flat 30% damage reduction in all situations except when a lone ambient mob manages to sneak up on you between hordes. Firing Fury gives you better ranged dps against hordes, which is good on shotgun and a waste on anything else. Exuberance is the go-to choice for most builds.
- Exhilirating Vapours provides some attack speed and THP in a small AoE around you, making it both a decent team buff and giving you somewhat more reliable THP farm. It's good for playing up the "panic button" aspect of your ult, and giving you better staying power.
- Surprise Guest lets you be more mobile in ult to kill specials and elites. Ranger's Parting Gift is very underwhelming and should be avoided, but the other two are both good options.
Ironbreaker is easily Bardin's tankiest career. Gromril Armor allows you to ignore a hit every 20 seconds, which in practice means it will eat up almost all damage you take. Even when your Gromril is down, you still have a flat 30% damage reduction, and your ult, reducing your damage by a further 50%. Thanks to your incredible ability to shrug off damage, THP generation becomes less important, letting you safely take Barkskin instead of Boon, making you very hard to kill once down, and protecting you further against disablers and blightstorms. The only real downside to Ironbreaker is a lack of damage bonuses, but on Legend and below this doesn't matter.
- Ironbreaker gets THP on stagger, THP on kill, and healshare. Because of his low damage output, Ironbreaker is usually better off doing crowd control with a high stagger weapon than chasing elite kills in melee, making THP on stagger the superior choice. If you're using a 1h axe and drakefire pistols build, THP on kill is better. Healshare is crap, don't use it.
- Under Pressure gives you slightly higher damage output with drakefire weapons, Blood of Grimnir helps you reach some breakpoints when the team is clustered together, and Rune-Etched Shield gives you and your team a little extra oomph for clutch situations. All three are viable options, depending on your weapons, team, and playstyle.
- Ironbreakers will typically take Bulwark since it synergizes very well with high stagger weapons, especially shields and dual hammers. That said, Enhanced Power can help you reach some ranged breakpoints you otherwise wouldn't have, and doesn't noticeably decrease your melee effectiveness, making it a very viable option. Smiter is usually a poor choice, since Ironbreaker is not the kind of killy class that wants to invest into one-shot breakpoints.
- Vengeance is a lot of fun, turning Ironbreaker into an angry grudge-fuelled little killing machine for a short time. That said, it's vastly overshadowed by Gromril Curse, since that lets you escape from disablers when your Gromril is up. Tunnel Fighter looks good at first glance, but it's only useful on the rare occasion that you get hit more than ten seconds but less than twenty seconds after your Gromril went down - in other words, it's crap. Gromril Curse is the go-to choice for all builds.
- Dawi Defiance can save you in some clutch situations, but the rng makes it unreliable, and unreliable is the one thing you do not want from Ironbreaker. The Rolling Mountain is great on dual hammers, but on other weapons you'll usually want to use pushes very actively against both hordes and elites. Miner's Rhythm allows you to endlessly shield bash with a shield. All three are viable options depending on your build.
- Drenbarazi Oath and Oi! Wazzok! are both too situational to measure up to the might of Booming Taunt, which increases your Impenetrable duration by 5 seconds. This means you can activate Impenetrable as soon as your Gromril is down, and have it last almost all the way until Gromril is back up. Good players get hit rarely enough that they can therefore almost always have either Gromril or Impenetrable to protect them.
Slayer has the potential to do incredible melee damage, but his lack of versatility and range really hurts him. In order to get the most out of Slayer you need to play very risky and rely on your team to deal with any and all range, which can be rewarding but requires above average skill from both you and your teammates to pull off.
- Slayer gets THP on cleave, THP on kill, and healshare. THP on cleave is much more reliable, and won't make you hate your teammates for killing elites at range, making it the better option in most cases. Healshare is crap, don't use it.
- A Thousand Cuts and Skullsplitter allow you to put together weapons that would otherwise match poorly due to being too similar to each other, and the 5% crit from Hack and Slash is still worth it in combination with the increased versatility of a one-hander and a two-hander. All three are viable options depending on your weapon setup.
- Smiter helps you reach certain one hit kill breakpoints against elites and specials, which comes in very handy when you don't have a ranged weapon. Mainstay increases your already high damage, especially against monsters. Enhanced Power can give you some of the same breakpoints as Smiter while also helping your monster damage, especially on lower difficulties.
- Adrenaline Surge keeps your Leap up when using slower weapons, and still provides extra crowd control and consistency with faster weapons, making it the go-to choice for all builds. High Tally can potentially increase your damage output on faster weapons so long as your Leap uptime doesn't suffer, but is noticeably less consistent than using Adrenaline Surge. Impatience is overshadowed by Adrenaline Surge and High Tally, and I find it really jarring to have constant changes to movement speed.
- Grimnir's Focus is there to make up for how vulnerable you are if you decide to clear hordes using greataxe/greathammer. In theory it's also the best choice for other weapons, since it gives you a flat 40% damage reduction so long as you're willing to deal with the micro of having to do a heavy attack every five seconds or more. I'd argue this looks more appealing than it really is, for two reasons. First, slayer generally doesn't want to do heavy attacks. It's much safer to have one weapon whose light attacks are good against hordes and another whose light attacks are good against elites/specials/monsters. This is one of Slayer's primary strengths, which Bardin's other classes can't take advantage of, being limited to only one melee weapon. Second, doing heavy attacks in situations where you ordinarily wouldn't want to do so is both sub-optimal for damage, and risky - I find that I get hit so often while winding up the heavy attack to keep Grimnir's Focus up that I end up taking as much or more damage over the course of a mission than I would have done without it.
- Oblivious to Pain gives you pretty great damage resistance against monsters and elites, which are usually the sources of damage you should be most worried about. Barge gives a small boost to your crowd control, but can hurt your damage output. I would advise Oblivious to Pain for most weapons and Grimnir's Focus if you use greataxe/greathammer to clear hordes, but all three talents are viable.
- No Escape helps your dodge dancing and is therefore a boon to your survivability, and also helps for saving allies from being downed or getting caught by disablers, and keeping up with a moving monster to maintain your damage output. Crunch doesn't help your mobility, but gives you slightly better crowd control, and synergizes with Adrenaline Surge. Dawi-Drop is a fun gimmick, but not particularly useful. Both No Escape and Crunch are viable options that help your survivability, depending on whether you prefer mobility/versatility or frontline staying power / crowd control.
Outcast Engineer Talents
Outcast Engineer is by far the most versatile class Bardin has, if not the most versatile class in the game, period. With the right builds, Engineer is good at everything. He can deal great damage against hordes and monsters with his minigun, and kill armor, elites, and specials at range. He's not even bad at melee. The only real downside to Engineer is how team reliant you are - most quickplay players will mindlessly run at the enemy all day every day, placing themselves firmly between your gun and what you want to shoot. I've even seen players who seem hell-bent on dodging into my line of fire as I try to kill the horde. My assessment? Umgak.
- Engineer gets THP on stagger, THP on cleave, and healshare. Both THP options are great, depending on your weapon. Healshare is crap, don't use it.
- Armour Piercing Slugs drastically improves your horde clear, and can help take out specials in a crowd. You'll need to be a little more careful to avoid friendly fire, but it's absolutely worth it. Leading Shots is good on drakegun, and Scavenged Shot is interesting, but underwhelming for what it does. Armour Piercing Slugs is the go-to for most builds.
- Enhanced Power makes your minigun stronger, and helps you reach ranged breakpoints. If you want to sacrifice ranged power for slightly better melee, you may want to play a different class.
- Experimental Steam Capacitors gives you the highest uptime on your minigun, allowing for more damage. However, it means you'll have to constantly stop what you're doing to fiddle with your gun, and the lack of Superior Gaskets' attack speed will leave you vulnerable in melee. Superior Gaskets gets rid of the constant fiddling (and if you're like me, that's the difference between Engineer being fun or straight up annoying to play), and improves your melee. It's theoretically worse than Experimental Steam Capacitors, but not by much. Full Head of Steam is hard to make good use of, but can be good. All three talents are viable options.
- Ablative Armour gives you a much needed 25% damage reduction, and vastly outshines both other options, making it the go-to choice for all builds.
- Innovative Ammo Hoppers is far better than both other options on all builds except drakegun (where you'll want Gromril-Plated Shots to deal with armor and long range specials).