How do I Bard?

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So i was thinking about this subject today, and i figured i’d write down my feelings on a class i greatly enjoy… BARD.  one of the most maligned and misunderstood classes in DDO. 

people always joke about bards… sing your songs, then pike the rest of the quest/raid. bardic sacrifice for better loot, etc, etc.  TR junkies frequently dread their bardic life.  people don’t understand bards.  even some bard players complain about bards saying how weak and broken they are. they’re not.

part of the problem is bards didn’t translate well from pen and paper D&D.  a lot of a bard’s power there was their knowledge of everything… their ability charm their way thru most situations…but DDO doesn’t have much allowance for such things.  pretty much every quest is “kill X, Y, and Z, and then kill the boss”, so what REALLY made a bard shine in D&D doesn’t even really exist in DDO.

another problem is bards are not a power-gamer’s class.  this is what kills bard for most TR junkies.  the fact of the matter is they AREN’T a powerhouse class. they are flexible and versatile and can do incredible things in the hands of someone who understands and accepts this, but they ARE “weak” in comparison… if you compare sheer power to power.  they can’t hit like a fighter or barbarian.. they can’t nuke like a wizard or sorcerer, and while they can heal, and there are some very capable bardic healers out there, they just don’t have the same healing spells and thus healing power as a cleric or a FvS (no mass cures higher than cure moderate).  in the eyes of someone pushing for the max, the fact that they can’t do any one thing GREAT means the class as a whole is weak.

a bard’s true strength in DDO lies in it’s flexibility.  they get UMD as a class skill, and even if you go for a charisma “dumped” combat oriented bard, you still have a passable charisma, so having a good UMD skill is a given.  this means you are not limited to your own list of spells.  you can cast any spell you need, right from a scroll or wand.  raid healer died? not a problem! throw a res scroll on em! greater teleport your group back to meridia instead of double recalling back to the twelve and needing to do the run-around (or screw em… teleport yourself. XD ). facing a fire elemental? fire shield cold, baby. got killed and lost ship buffs? no problem… wand of resist energy (11) takes care of that problem.  bards also get a fair number of skill points, so they are typically easy to splash rogue into and remain a viable trapper.

another bardic strength is a somewhat misunderstood and unfortunately underused one: fascinate.  even the most charisma dumped combat bard can still stop a whole room in it’s tracks with this one song.  the downsides are – it’s not instant like a spell, it takes a few seconds to sing it… and if you then hit the fascinated mob, it is no longer fascinated.  PUGs typically don’t understand or care about a bard fascinating and sometimes it seems they’re using the music notes as a guide to which mob to hit next, resulting in a wasted song and a frustrated bard.  fascinate, while extremely powerful, is pretty much best used solo, in a group that knows the value of it and how to use it (IE: not your typical random PUG), or in an “oh s***” situation: the rest of the PUG is dead, you fascinate, all the mobs stop, then you (depending on level and current UMD skillz) whip out some rez scrolls or run all the stones to the shrine. yay bard saves the day!

i’ll never say bards don’t need a little more love, but they are certainly not as weak or bad as people make them out to be. 

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13 thoughts on “How do I Bard?

  1. My thoughts exactly. Bards save the day. I have an “all support – no dps” bard, he’s always the last man standing. No wipes. Fascinates easily in EE endgame quests. Bards contribution to a full party is far more than just 1/6. In a raid i’d say the mere presence of a good bard increases the party effectiveness by 20 %. Not doing any maths here, just a feeling. Long live bards !

  2. Bards definitely do get shunned. I’m wondering if this new talk of the swaskbuckler will help booster them more. I really like my bard and am looking forward to taking my main into a bard life. Just have to grind out all of the others first.

  3. 🙂 Nice blog, Katz. I think, since U14, ppl value support classes less and less, because it’s all about dps. Back in the “old” days when you needed a balanced party for epics, I can imagine that bards skills were valued more. But, I have seen some awesome bards too of late, so ppl should not underestimate bards. 🙂

  4. You say Bards can’t do any one thing GREAT, but I would argue they are by far the best at crowd control. Fascinate and/or enthrall can achieve a much higher DC than any CC spell…though as you said most pugs don’t seem to care one bit about breakable CC effects until everyone but the bard is dead.

    • fascinate and enthrall’s greatness is tempered by it’s fragility. it breaks very easily… AND it has some limitations over traditional CC spells. it doesn’t work on orange nameds (which can be danced/held/webbed). it doesn’t work on constructs (which can be webbed, or WF can be danced/held/webbed),it doesn’t work on undead (which corporeal undead can be webbed), and it doesn’t work on vermin (which can be danced/held/webbed).

      enhancements can fix the constructs/undead fascination aspect, and adds oozes to the list, but those particular enhancements are currently borked and don’t work quite right. they are known, and being worked on, but currently next to useless. the fatesinger ED fixes vermin fascination, but is unpopular. and that still leaves a bard unable to do anything about orange-names with song.

      this is why i didn’t make a big deal about fascinate. yes, a bard can reach an incredibly high DC with relative ease, but as powerful as it is, it comes with some hefty drawbacks, too

      • Maybe with the change to soundburst it can give Bards a good CC option that works relatively fast, cheap and reliable too.

        I also like to play bards (at times mixed with a bit of rogue or fighter/barbarian depending on what I want to go for) for their versatility. Also good for learning my brother how to play a cleric, as I often need to be that backup healer when he forgets to heal and instead gets killed in melee!

  5. Hello Katz,
    UMD isn’t exactly bard/rog/arti specific skill though. Even my Ftr/Pal/Mnk is sitting at 44* unbuffed. So, anyone can be flexible, honestly. Fascinate is a nice skill, however, especially at 85+ dc 🙂

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