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Fighting styles

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So you decided to win DDO by fighting with a weapon. DDO offers several fighting styles, usually corresponding to a chain of feats that progressively improve your prowess when fighting in a certain way.

DDO awards specialization in combat. Most characters select only one fighting style and focus on that. For example, switching between melee and ranged weapons is rare.

Many classes in D&D and DDO have traditional roles; for example, Barbarian or Paladins are traditionally associated with melee combat. Over the years, as the game introduced additional options, races, universal enhancement trees, and epic destinies, the roles have blended, particularly with multiclassing.

Single weapon fighting[edit]

A fighting style characterized by fighting with a one-handed weapon and either nothing, an Orb, or a Rune Arm in your off hand.

Feats:

  • Single Weapon Fighting: While Single-Weapon Fighting, you gain +10% Combat Style bonus to attack speed and +3 Combat Style bonus to Melee Power. Requires fighting with a single one-handed weapon, and wielding only an orb, runearm, or nothing in your offhand. Feat Requirement: 2 ranks of Balance.
  • Improved Single Weapon Fighting: Your Single-Weapon Fighting bonus is increased to a +20% Combat Style bonus to attack speed and the bonus to Melee Power is +6. You now apply 25% more of your appropriate ability score to your damage instead of just your ability score. Feat Requirement: 4 ranks of Balance, Base Attack Bonus +6
  • Greater Single Weapon Fighting: Your Single-Weapon Fighting bonus is increased to a +30% Combat Style bonus to attack speed and the bonus to Melee Power is +10. You now apply 50% more of your appropriate ability score to your damage. Feat Requirement: 7 ranks of Balance, Base Attack Bonus +11

Swashbuckling[edit]

Swashbuckling is a variant combat style similar to single weapon fighting supported by the Bard's Swashbuckler enhancement tree. Swashbuckling requires wielding a finesseable or thrown weapon in your main hand, wielding a Buckler or nothing in your off hand, and wearing Light Armor or no armor. Enhancements allow you also to wield an orb, buckler or rune arm.

See also the list of Swashbuckler weapons with improved crit profile.

Tempest's second core ability makes Scimitar a light, finesseable weapon and allows you to swashbuckle with a scimitar. Your critical range or multiplier does not change. You do qualify for other effects that require swashbuckling. You don't benefit from Tempest's dexterity to hit (that requires TWF).

Inquisitive tier 4 ability Inquisition Style: Dashing Inquisition allows you to swashbuckle with Light Crossbow. Your critical range or multiplier does not change. You do qualify for other effects that require swashbuckling.

Sword and board[edit]

"Sword and Board" is the name commonly used to refer to using a weapon and a shield during combat, as opposed to using a weapon that requires both hands, or using a weapon in each hand. Although the expression uses the word "sword", the weapon in question can be any light or one-handed weapon.

Several classes gain the Shield Proficiency (General) feat, which allows them to effectively use Bucklers, Small (Light) shields, and Large (Heavy) Shields. These classes are Fighters, Barbarians, Bards, Paladins, Rangers and Clerics. Among these classes, only fighters (and clerics of the War Domain) are proficient with tower shields without needing to acquire the Tower Shield Proficiency feat.

Fighting with a shield[edit]

When fighting with a melee weapon and a shield, you may bash enemies with your shield.

  • Active bashing is performing a standard attack while shield blocking (Shift)
  • Passive bashing is a chance to proc an extra shield attack while attacking with your main weapon. This is what is usually understood as "sword and board" fighting.

See shield bashing for a detailed discussion about this fighting style: feats, classes, enhancements, items.

Shields and tanks[edit]

Tanks very often use shields for defensive benefits. Some fight, some only intimidate and shield block.

Shields and casters[edit]

Casters can use shields for defensive benefits. Apart from a minor increase of AC (often irrelevant), the most notable benefit is extra PRR and MRR from shield use. Non-proficiency penalties usually don't inconvenience casters: the penalties are marginal; most casters don't care, and you can use Master's Touch spell to gain proficiency if needed. Arcane Spell Failure might be more problematic for arcane casters, but there are ways around it.

Shield types[edit]

DDO has for shield types: bucklers, small shields, large shields, and tower shields. Which shield do you want to pick?

  • Use buckler if you are a Bard Swashbuckler.
  • Use buckler or small shields if you want to use shields but want to keep your Evasion. (Heavier shields negate Evasion.)
  • Use large or tower shield if you want to benefit from highest PRR and MRR passive bonuses, as well as the PRR/MRR multiplier.

Two-handed fighting[edit]

Two-handed fighting is, simply put, using a two-handed weapon. While wielding a two-handed weapon, your ability modifier to damage rolls is multiplied by 1.5 (or more, if you take the feats, see below). So, the higher your ability is, the more you will benefit from this fighting style. This is true whether you run a Strength-based Barbarian or a Dexterity-based Acrobat Rogue. However, as with every melee fighting style, Strength provides the largest damage bonuses.

While fighting with a two-handed weapon, you get Strikethroughs (which is a chance to hit an extra opponent). Your Strikethrough chance is increased by these feats:

The drawback you have from selecting Two-Handed Fighting is the loss of the shield slot, and thus, lower armor class versus a sword and board character. In addition, due to attacking with a single weapon, it means there is a reduction of the number of weapon attacks and effects, i.e. a two weapon fighter will often do more single target damage and will process more single target on-hit, on-critical, and on-vorpal effects.

Two Weapon Fighting[edit]

Two Weapon Fighting Style is employed when a character wields a weapon in each hand. TWF-style is primarily used by players seeking the highest possible, sustainable, single target damage in the game.

Effects of using the Two Weapon Fighting Style[edit]

When untrained (no feats), you suffer a −6 penalty on attack rolls on your primary hand and −10 on your off-hand. Taking the Two Weapon Fighting feat reduces those penalties to −4 for each hand. Finally, if the weapon in your off-hand is a light weapon, the penalty is also reduced by 2. Taking the Oversized Two Weapon Fighting feat allows a character to use a regular weapon in the off-hand without incurring additional penalties.

In addition TWF-style's offhand attack normally receives only 1/2 the characters ability bonus to damage and do not benefit from Double Strike bonuses unless the bonus explicitly says so. Also some special attacks, including almost all "cleave" type attacks, do not process an off-hand attack when Two Weapon Fighting. See also Attacks that hit with two weapons.

On the plus side, most effects that process on-hit, on-critical, or on-vorpal work normally with off-hand attacks. So a high level user of the TWF-style is especially adept at causing on attack-type effects to process with much greater regularity.

When using the Two Weapon Fighting Style a character has a base chance of 20% to make an off-hand weapon attack with each main hand attack. The chance to make an offhand strike is increased by the following weapon style feats and enhancements. Note that while all of the following bonuses add to each other, values in excess of 100% do nothing.

Handwraps[edit]

Handwraps are weapons that work by increasing the damage of unarmed attacks. Even though your character will use a single handwraps item in both weapon slots (just like a two-handed weapon), they benefit from two-weapon fighting line of feats.

Animal combat[edit]

Druids wildshaped into an animal or magical beast form such as Wolf or Dire Bear have a unique fighting style. They don't benefit from SWF, THF, or TWF line of feats. Instead, they can take Natural Fighting (up to 3 times) to improve their combat prowess while wildshaped.

Range fighting[edit]

Range fighting styles will tend to be different based on gear and builds. Range is generally divided into 3 categories, Classic Bows, Crossbows and Thrown weapons.

Ability to damage[edit]

One of the primary decisions when designing a ranged combatant is to choose your primary ability. Natively:

  • Bows get Dexterity to hit and to damage.
  • Crossbows get Dexterity to hit and nothing to damage.
  • Thrown weapons get Dexterity to hit and Strength to damage.

Most players prefer focusing on a single main stat, both for attack and damage. Fortunately, over time, DDO introduced many ways how to get a non-standard ability to hit and damage. See Non-standard attack and damage mods and choose one.

Feats[edit]

For ranged fighting, the feat selection is not that straightforward as for melee.

Precision
The only viable offensive combat stance feat. Remember to drag it to your hotbar and enable it.
Point Blank Shot / Precise Shot / Improved Precise Shot
Definitely get the first two. Consider the third. Use Archer's Focus or IPS depending on the situation. Keep in mind that IPS is incompatible with AoE ranged attacks.
Rapid Shot
Faster projectiles, faster reloading.
Rapid Reload
Higher attack speed with crossbows.
Improved Critical Ranged
Must have.
Dodge/Mobility/Shot on the Run
optional chain if you have spare feats
Epic feats
Plan ahead to meet the prereqs for some of Combat Archery / Overwhelming Critical / Expanded Clip / Improved Sneak Attack

To make the feat planning more complicated, Artificers and Rangers receive several of the feats for free.

Offhand slot[edit]

  • Bows need two hands to use.
  • Crossbows also need both hands to use. But, you can place a Rune Arm into your off-hand slot, if you are proficient with them.
  • Inquisitives visually use one crossbow in each hand, but they use a single non-repeating crossbow. They can use Rune Arms off-hand if proficient.
  • Throwers use a single throwing weapon in the main hand. Off-hand, they can use a rune arm, orb, shield, melee weapon, or nothing. You cannot dual wield throwing weapons.

Classic Bows (Short or Long)[edit]

Main-Hand (Primary)
Off-Hand (Secondary)
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Repeating Crossbows (Light or Heavy)[edit]

Main-Hand (Primary)
Off-Hand (Secondary)
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Repeating Crossbows & Runearm[edit]

Main-Hand (Primary)
Off-Hand (Secondary)
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Inquisitive (Light or Heavy Crossbows)[edit]

Main-Hand (Primary)
Off-Hand (Secondary)
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Thrown[edit]

Main-Hand (Primary)
Off-Hand (Secondary)
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Misc[edit]

Build Advice[edit]

Strength-based[edit]

Strength offers the highest bonuses to hit, to damage, and to strength-based or any attribute-based tactical DC driven attacks at end-game. TWF-style characters that seek the highest possible melee damage will usually focus on Strength. However taking all of the Two Weapon Fighting Style feats requires a base 17 Dexterity (before bonuses from equipment and enhancements) unless you are playing a Ranger which receives those feats for free without prerequisite. As a result TWF-style based characters focusing on strength tend to be either Rangers, multi-classed characters with 11 or more Ranger levels, or character builds that have Attribute Bonus Tomes and/or 36pts to start with.

Dexterity-based[edit]

Not all TWF-style characters are ideally suited to use Strength as a primary ability and fortunately there are many ways to use other abilities for to hit and damage. In particular TWF-style Monks, Rangers, and Rogues rely on their Dexterity score for defenses and can also choose effects from their Enhancement trees to use Dexterity instead of Strength as their to hit and damage modifier. This allows them to consolidate points into fewer abilities to become an overall sturdier and more useful character without requiring past-lives or tomes.

Rogues using the Assassin enhancement tree may receive Dex to hit and damage when using Daggers and Kukris, as well as Dexterity to damage with all other finessable weapons if the character has the Weapon Finesse feat. Rogues may also gain Dex to attack and damage with Quarterstaves by putting points into the Thief Acrobat tree.

Rangers using the Tempest enhancement tree may receive Dex to hit and damage when using the TWF-style to wield light weapons. Tempests may also acquire the ability to wield scimitars as light weapons allowing them to be used with Dex to hit and damage.

Rangers using the Deep Woods Stalker enhancement tree may choose the Improved Finesse enhancement which grants Dexterity to damage to any weapon (except crossbows) that can use Dexterity to hit. For example, if the character has the Weapon Finesse feat and is wielding a finessable weapon such as a rapier, this enhancement will allow dexterity to damage with rapier.

Monks using the Ninja Spy enhancement tree may receive Dex to hit and damage with any weapons while centered.

Other Ability-based[edit]

As with Strength based characters, these characters require the minimum 17 Dexterity to use Greater Two Weapon Fighting. As a result they tend to be used by veteran players on characters with dexterity tomes and past lives to allow 36 pt builds.

Some Rogue Assassin TWF-style characters prefer to use the Harper enhancement tree for Intelligence to hit and damage. This makes it easier to achieve very high scores in Search, Disable Device, and Assassinate DCs while still allowing for excellent Evasion ability through the Insightful Reflexes feat. In addition with Int as a primary ability, Know the Angles will provide the highest bonuses to damage and tactical DCs including Assassinate.

Shintao Monks seeking high crowd control DCs may opt to invest in the Falconry enhancement tree for Wisdom-based to hit, damage, and superior bonuses to tactical DCs.

See also[edit]

Attacks that hit with two weapons