All that said then (and I completely agree that maxed Listen > BF), which is the better choice for a base race?
Elf: +2 Dex/-2 Con; Able to take Tumble and Listen as class skills in LL's, at increased cost; Weapon Proficiency: Longbow for free
Half-Elf: +1 skillpoint/level, and the ability to take LSA: Listen (getting the pre-requisite for free)
With Half-Elf, you'd have to drop Toughness or Improved Critical: Longbow for proficiency with a longbow. Neither is ideal. Dropping Toughness may be more doable, because you're not losing the -2 CON you do with Elf. You do, however, lose that +2 DEX.
The build I show here has Blind Fight at level 6. You could easily replace that with WP Longbow especially if you were going to take LSA Listen and max the skill. Much more disturbing to me is which LL feat to drop to make room for LSA Listen. I don't like the idea of giving up any of them. A possibility would be pushing Epic Mage Armor to the level 32 bonus feat so you end with 19 INT instead of 20. Of all the feats I see that's the one I'd throw out. That will cost you some skill points but Half-Elf gives you 60 extra so no problem there.
Based on moving skills around with Elf, I think you'd gain about 7 Listen after all was done. You could swap the DEX and CON around to end up with the same end values as the Elf version shown. You'd lose Blind Fight and would be at 19 INT instead of 20. I think it's too much to pay for 7 listen -- you could stick with Elf and drop the Great INT to buy yourself ESF Listen and get 10 more, for a net gain overall for Elf.
Ok. Thanks very much to everyone for their input. Elf definitely seems the way to go (despite my utter dislike of the -2 to CON ). I agree that Half-Elf has to give up an awful lot to get to the same thing.
I just updated the build to take into account the new Elf Able Learner ability. I chose to drop two great dex feats, but made up for it with +2 Tumble AC, Epic Prowess, and 21 more Listen. The end result is one more AC, one more AB, and much higher Listen.
Back in December I was unable to find Acaos's spreadsheet, so did some calculations myself, based off percentages of attacks getting through conceal and how that changed the amount of damage. I got numbers pretty similar to the spreadsheet.
For a simple example, let's say you did 1000 points of damage in a round to an unconcealed mob on average. At 90% conceal, you would do 100 points if you had neither listen nor blindfight. With blindfight you only miss 81% of the time so average 190 points. With 90 Listen the conceal is 78.9% so you do 211 points or 11% more damage than blindfight (211/190). With 120 Listen the conceal is 76.8% so you do 232 points or 22% more damage (232/190).
Assuming our 90% concealed mob had 2000hp and no regen, with blindfight he's do down in 11 rounds. With 120 Listen it'd be 9 rounds.
The recent changes to AA damage make the current build much less attractive. 7d10 bonus damage on my DB bows sounds terrible, especially when my AB is already on the low side. I'm thinking of reincarnating to 26 Wiz/13 AA/1 Monk.
PROS: +5 AB from Enchant Arrow, and get 3d10 more bonus damage using DB/Phleg bows. CONS: no Epic Mage Armor, no Prescient's Guard, -10% conceal from EV, shorter duration on spells, can no longer fill in as mage in a pinch (except vs. no-SR mobs).
Any thoughts on switching out some of the current build's defense for more offense?
Yea this was a fun build that is much less effective. I think i will make it into a flurry over a 6month period since i made my Flurry to a dev crit, well the dev crit needs to be re-done as well since its not 30 lvls. Busy busy busy.
Perin- Apologies in advance for not answering you but commenting on this build in general.
I haven't used any artifact on mine. There is IMO no real need for more AC, mine is 138 without Girding after double demi, and when combined with 80% conceal, Epic Dodge, and the usual job of shooting things from behind the melee, makes it hardly ever get hit. Combined with Silver Nimbus this has meant extremely low damage taken numbers. Silver Nimbus is the holy grail for this toon, since almost all damage taken is from kickback.
I haven't noticed any issues with saves. An AA can get away with a lot a tank doesn't have to, for instance not having to constantly run through Stygia webs and implodes, and hardly ever being targeted much less hit by things.
Raks don't have SR, so it wouldn't help grabs on them. Without spell penetration feats, I don't think the spell penetration artifact would be worthwhile at all since your spell penetration will still be horrible.
The main problem with the character as it is, is that the damage is poor. It does comparable damage to a melee bard or high end dex assassin (but without the insta-kills the assassin has). Some of that is due to the AB which the dex art would help with, but a lot is due to the lousy damage per hit. The character gets a lot of attacks -- enough so that even missing much more often it can still land the same number of hits on a run as a high AB dual weapon ranger, and quite a few more than most of the tanks regardless of their AB. But said ranger will do about 2x the damage per hit. With the caveat that on my runs my wiz/AA always targets the nasty stuff like PF, Malebranche, Amnizu, etc. which are often concealed and crit immune or both, which doesn't help damage output.
The wiz/AA's benefit is being able to grab things with bigby 9, Starfire to help control randoms, Epic Wall when needed, being extraordinarily hard to kill (and since you have contingency even that doesn't hold you down), and keeping +25 C/C on the assassin or other needy toon. Is that worth the lesser damage? Depends on your party. I think it might be worth seeing if one could get Greater Ruin and enough spellcraft for 2/rest -- that would add a bit more value.
As for which artifact, none of them are making me terribly excited, so your choice between DEX, INT, WIS, CON, STR, or Saves. I guess I'd lean toward DEX (for the AB) or INT (confuse immune and dominate).
skills at 40: concentration 43 craft weapon 42 discipline 43 listen 43 parry 43 spellcraft 42 (make sure to take enough earlier to qualify for the bioware epics) tumble 43
In LLs, tumble to 60, spellcraft to 50 (for the second Greater Ruin per rest), concentration and listen each to 63, remaining 5 points into craft weapon
97 AB self-buffed, 0x demi, with DEX artifact and +14 gear 131 AC with arti and +14 DEX/WIS gear Epic Dodge and 80% conceal 2x Greater Ruin per rest @ DC 60 All wizard spells, good duration on buffs; no spell pen to speak of HG epics: contingency, epic wall, starfire saves: 60 F / 64 R / 60 W (with +14 DEX/WIS gear)
13d8 elemental damage on DB bows and Phleg sonic, 11d8 exotic on the other Phleg bows. This can be bumped up to d10 with the AA master aug.