Why Bards Are The Most OP Class In Baldur’s Gate 3

Why Bards Are The Most OP Class In Baldur’s Gate 3

Summary

  • Bards may seem weak in combat, but with the right build, they can be extremely effective in Baldur’s Gate 3.
  • Support spells like buffs and debuffs make bards invaluable on the battlefield, even without powerful attack spells.
  • The College of Lore subclass is the best choice for bards, offering wider weapon proficiencies and early access to powerful spells in the Magical Secrets spell book.

Bards are better than they seem in Baldur’s Gate 3. They’re the singers, comedians, and storytellers of the Forgotten Realms. They know how to work a crowd, provoke certain reactions, and influence people, but they’re commonly associated with weakness in combat. Bards don’t get many weapon or armor proficiencies from the beginning, and their Armor Class and Strength tend to be low. However, none of that is permanent, and a Baldur’s Gate 3 bard with the right build can be extremely effective.

In general, bards just seem to make more sense in a tabletop setting than in a video game. When playing face-to-face, there are more opportunities for bards to improvise amusing, lyrical dialogue and pester the rest of the party with incessant little ditties. However, character builds are flexible in Baldur’s Gate 3, and a deadly combination of spells, skills, and subclasses can turn a mellifluous bard into a menacing battle master.

You’ve Been Playing Bards Wrong In Baldur’s Gate 3

The tiefling bard Alfira performs a song on her lute while Shadowheart, Lae'zel, Wyll, and a drow player character look on.

Bards are primarily considered a support class in Baldur’s Gate 3, and that’s part of what they are—but there are ways to make them incredibly powerful in combat, too. Support isn’t just about healing, although bards can do that pretty well. There are many options in the bard’s spell book for buffing allies and nerfing enemies. Focusing on these instead of attack spells can make a skilled bard indispensable on the field of battle.

Just don’t expect it to be easy from the beginning. Bards get off to a rough start in Baldur’s Gate 3, with weak melee attacks, few damaging cantrips, and highly specific weapon proficiencies. Still, even the most basic support spells can make a world of difference. True strike grants a party member advantage on their next attack roll, and bless can give the whole rest of the party bonuses to attacks and saving throws. These can help support more damage-oriented allies until the bard comes into their own.

However, for every buff, there’s an equal and opposite debuff. Baldur’s Gate 3 spells like Vicious mockery, a cantrip, curses the target with disadvantage on their next attack. The level one spell bane gives up to three creatures penalties on all their attacks and saving throws for ten turns. Meanwhile, other spells, like dissonant whispers, Tasha’s hideous laughter, and crown of madness can inflict unique status effects to take enemies out of commission. When a bard is attentive, well-supported, and properly kitted out, their opponents won’t even know what hit them.

It’s no surprise that bards are also adept in dialogue scenarios. Bards use their Charisma stat to cast spells, which gives them a knack for the art of conversation. Even the hardest Deception, Intimidation, Performance, and Persuasion rolls are in good hands with a balanced bard. That also means reduced trade prices in Baldur’s Gate 3. At level three, bards can gain expertise in two skills. This is an excellent way to round out a party that lacks in a few categories and opens up even more dialogue options. If they somehow still struggle with an encounter, spells like friends and charm person can help soften an adversary’s attitude.

Best Subclass For The Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard

The bearded human bard Volo, in his floppy hat, stands in a dark, candlelit dungeon with arms outstretched as if delivering a soliloquy.

At level three, Baldur’s Gate 3 bards are permitted to choose one of three subclasses. College of Valor and College of Swords are the most tempting, as they promise to offset the classes’ shortcomings. The College of Valor subclass provides proficiency with medium armor, martial weapons, and shields. College of Swords is more limiting, with proficiency bonuses only to medium armor and scimitars. Valor is more about boosting defense, where Swords provides more opportunities for swashbuckling style. Neither of them is especially bad, but choosing either would be a mistake in Baldur’s Gate 3. The best bard subclass is the most unassuming.

College of Lore is the best choice of subclass for the Baldur’s Gate 3 bard. It has wider-ranging weapon proficiencies than either of the alternate subclasses, even if it’s limited to light armor. Bards gain the Cutting Words feature as soon as they take this subclass. Cutting Words can be used as a reaction, not a spell slot, to incur a severe penalty on an opponent’s attack before it hits. If it decreases their attack roll enough, a devastating strike that would otherwise hit will miss its target, stopping them in their tracks. The penalty’s severity levels with the bard, so it’s useful even in the late game.

More importantly, though, College of Lore bards get early access to one of the best class features. There’s a special, hidden spell book called Magical Secrets, containing some of the best spells in Baldur’s Gate 3. Most bards don’t even get to look at it until level ten, but those who take the College of Lore subclass can start using it as early as level six. The Magical Secret counterspell expands the potential of the bard’s reaction, allowing them to also nullify spells before they take effect. Pass without trace is perfect for sneaking around, adding ten points to the entire party’s stealth checks for the duration.

The Magical Secret call lightning finally allows the long-maligned bard to dominate the battlefield in Baldur’s Gate 3. Call lightning can do up to 30 damage to multiple targets and will never fully miss. Even if a target succeeds at a saving throw, they’ll still take half the damage. Moreover, once cast, call lightning lets the storm rage on, allowing the caster to continuously summon lightning strikes without expending spell slots for the next ten turns. Ultimately, what makes College of Lore the best bard subclass is that, instead of trying to compensate for weaknesses, it makes bards better at what they already do well.

Best Dual Class Features For The Baldur’s Gate 3 Bard

A lizard-like dragonborn monk wears an armored vest and brandishes a pointed staff.

For the most part, a College of Lore bard’s class bonuses begin to wind down after level six. That’s a good time to start taking levels in other classes to build out their repertoire. It’s common for bards to combine their skills with other magically-powered classes in Baldur’s Gate 3. Warlock is a particularly popular one, since both classes use Charisma for their spell casting stat. However, melee classes make for an adjustable all-rounder of a bard, and there’s no better multiclass combination than a bard with a few levels in monk.

Taking a level or two in monk can both improve a bard’s innate skills and make up for what they lack in Baldur’s Gate 3. Bards are already nimble, but monks are just plain fast. Bards may not have many options for weapon or armor proficiency, but monks have excellent defense even without armor, and their fists are as powerful as any weapon. Monk attack rolls are measured in Dexterity, not Strength, which bards also excel at.

Monks in Baldur’s Gate 3 have access to Ki, a pool of points that they can spend on special combat maneuvers. The Ki skill Flurry of Blows, for example, allows them to strike twice with just one action. As far as monk subclasses go, Way of the Open Hand is the best choice all around, giving Flurry of Blows the option to topple, stagger, or push enemies.

Exclusive Dialogue Options And Best Bard Moments In Baldur’s Gate 3

An elf bard beats a drum, creating white magical ripples around them.

Bards are fast talkers, so they have access to a variety of exclusive, often hilarious dialogue options. This is mostly a testament to the thoughtful, detailed writing in Baldur’s Gate 3 but can also help get the party out of some sticky situations. Bards can perform with Volo, the wandering minstrel, almost every time they encounter him in the open world. They can also sling clever jabs at enemies before attacking them, like when they’re given the opportunity to tell True Soul Nere they’ll deliver an insulting eulogy at his funeral.

Perhaps the best bard moment in Baldur’s Gate 3, though, comes when the party accidentally walks in on the bugbear Grukkoh and ogre Buthir during an intimate moment. This encounter almost always results in combat, but with a good Persuasion roll, a bard can convince them that they’re doing research for a romantic ballad. If they do succeed, Grukkoh and Buthir will actually let them stick around.

There’s no such thing as a bad class in Baldur’s Gate 3. However, there is a series of ideal choices that bards can make to bring them up to their full potential. It’s difficult to think of bards as the best class, but with the right build, they can become incredibly overpowered in Baldur’s Gate 3.

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