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Baldur’s Gate 3: College of Valour Bard Build Guide

The bard class in Baldur’s Gate 3 is a support prodigy, inspiring their allies and providing powerful crowd control, buffs, and debuffs through their spells. The College of Valour subclass enables the bard to make better use of weapons, adding martial damage to their vast repertoire. This guide will detail the best race, background, spells, feats, and equipment for building your College of Valour bard so you can maximize your weapon damage while also taking advantage of the bard’s unique utility.

The College of Valour Subclass

The College of Valour subclass allows the bard to specialize in martial combat without sacrificing their strong spellcasting abilities.

Here are the features you’ll gain through the College of Valour subclass:

  • Combat Inspiration at level 3 enhances your Bardic Inspiration ability, allowing the bonus to be used for weapon damage or armour class as well as for attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.
  • Martial Weapon Proficiency at level 3 lets you wield any weapon in the game.
  • Medium Armour and Shield Proficiency at level 3 give you more options for defensive equipment.
  • Extra Attack at level 6 lets you attack twice every turn, effectively doubling the damage you can do with your weapons.

You won’t learn any spells through this subclass, and you’ll only get Magical Secrets at level 10, unlike the College of Lore bard who gets Additional Magical Secrets at level 6.

Race and Subrace

Your race and subrace are primarily roleplay choices, and you should always pick the one that you would most like to play. That said, some races and subraces offer better advantages than others for our build. The College of Valour bard has all the proficiencies you’ll ever need, so those can be ignored when choosing your race. Instead, we’ll look at the special features and spells that each race has to offer. With that in mind, the Tiefling race offers Hellish Resistance, which is great to have because fire is the most common damage type in the game, as well as Darkvision, which will prevent you from having disadvantage on your attacks due to lack of light in the environment. The Mephistophelies Tiefling subrace gives you three useful spells: Mage Hand, Burning Hands, and Flame Blade.

If you choose another race, you may want to consider taking Mage Hand as a cantrip. We’ve skipped it in our spell list since we’re getting it from our subrace, but it’s a very useful one to have.

Ability Scores

Charisma is the bard’s most important stat, increasing the effects of all your spells as well as boosting your crucial social skills. A College of Valour bard will also want to boost their Dexterity to improve their weapon attacks as well as their AC and some more useful skills. Getting both of these stats to at least 16 is ideal to start. Remember that odd-numbered scores are generally a waste of points – a 17 is effectively the same as a 16. So look to even out your stats as much as possible.

Beyond Charisma and Dexterity, points in Constitution will help you maintain concentration on your spells as well as increasing your total health pool. Here’s our suggestion for how to allocate your stats in character creation:

  • Strength: 8
  • Dexterity: 16
  • Constitution: 14
  • Intelligence: 10
  • Wisdom: 10
  • Charisma: 16

Background and Skills

Your background, like your race, is largely a roleplay choice. Think about how you want to approach the game and choose the skills that will help you accomplish that approach. For a thief, opt for Sleight of Hand and Stealth. To befriend all the animals, look to Animal Handling and Persuasion.

Bards can get proficiency in any skill in the game, which means you can truly be whoever you want to be. Social skills are always a good bet with your naturally high Charisma. Choose one or two from Deception, Intimidation, or Persuasion, depending on how you want to go about doing your convincing. Insight is also a solid choice as a social skill, although it’s not Charisma-based. You should also look at commonly used Dexterity skills like Sleight of Hand, Acrobatics, and Stealth.

The Guild Artisan background is a good option for a bard since it gives you proficiency in two social skills, Insight and Persuasion. You can also choose the Charlatan background for proficiency in Deception and Sleight of Hand, Criminal for Deception and Stealth, or Urchin for Sleight of Hand and Stealth if you plan to do a lot of thieving. For our purposes with this build, we’ll choose the Soldier background, which will give us proficiency in one of those social skills we mentioned, Intimidation, as well as the Athletics skill, which will help compensate for our low Strength stat so we can still jump and shove effectively.

Spells

As a College of Valour bard, we’ll focus on spells that provide useful utility and support to our party along with a few that will help us deal damage with our weapons. You won’t be able to change your spells on the fly as a bard, only on the level up screen, so you’ll want to be particularly discerning about the spells you choose compared to a cleric, druid, or wizard. You should always take your own party into consideration when you choose your spells, as one of the bard’s strengths is their ability to fill the gaps in your team composition, such as by filling in for a cleric with healing spells.

Spells marked as (Magical Secrets) can only be obtained through that class feature at level 10, as they aren’t part of your normal bard spell list.

Cantrips

  • Vicious Mockery: A fun cantrip that lets you wound with words, but more importantly gives the target disadvantage on their next attack roll, giving it a defensive as well as offensive usefulness.
  • Blade Ward: A nice little bit of extra defense that you can put up when you don’t have anything else to do or don’t want to use a spell slot.
  • Minor Illusion: A useful distraction that can help you with thieving or setting up an ambush.
  • True Strike: Not the most useful ability, but worth putting up if you have a chance to buff up before you initiate a fight.

Level 1 Spells

  • Healing Word: The most useful healing spell in the game, allowing you to pick someone up from range with just a bonus action. You’ll always want to have this spell, even if you’re not the party’s primary healer.
  • Sleep: The best crowd control ability in the game at low levels, allowing you to put multiple enemies completely out of commission for a turn or two.
  • Speak with Animals: One of several spells that will expand the number of dialogue options available, which is great for bards with their superb social skills.
  • Thunderwave: A level 1 damaging spell that can hit multiple targets and push them back, giving you a chance to escape if you find yourself cornered.
  • Feather Fall: Not needed at level 1, but later on it’ll be useful to have someone in your party who can cast it.

Level 2 Spells

  • Cloud of Daggers: A great damaging spell that always hits anything in its area, so it’s never a wasted spell slot. Especially useful if you’re able to funnel or trap enemies within its radius.
  • Detect Thoughts: An essential spell if you want to maximize your social options and avoid fights.
  • Enhance Ability: This spell lets you get advantage on any skill check, both in dialogue and in combat and exploration.

Level 3 Spells

  • Fireball: (Magical Secrets) One of the most potent damaging spells in the game. You’ll have to be careful not to hit your party members with it. If you chose a Mephistopheles Tiefling, you’ll have fire resistance, but it’s still better not to stand in it.
  • Glyph of Warding: Great for setting ambushes or just taking advantage of elemental weaknesses, since you can choose the type of damage it deals.
  • Haste: (Magical Secrets) An exceptional buff that gives your target an extra action each turn as well as some extra movement. Use it on yourself, and you’ll be able to attack twice and cast a spell every turn, on top of your bonus action.
  • Speak with Dead: Another spell that opens up more dialogue for you to use your social skills. Skip this one if you have a cleric or someone else who can cast it.

Level 4 Spells

  • Dimension Door: Positioning is a big part of combat, and this spell will let you move two of your party members (your bard and one ally) to any place within their line of sight.
  • Freedom of Movement: Great for freeing your party members from immobilizing effects. You only need one person in the party to have this prepared, so skip it if someone else has it covered.
  • Greater Invisibility: Unlike the lower level Invisibility spell, this one doesn’t break when interact with objects or attack, making it way more useful.

Level 5 Spells

  • Hold Monster: A universal crowd control ability that will give you and your allies automatic critical hits on the target.

Level 6 Spells

  • Eyebite: This spell will let you put a creature to sleep for up to 10 turns. You can also choose to cause it to flee in fear or give it disadvantage on rolls instead. That flexibility is nice for your limited spellbook.

Feats

For a College of Valour bard, you’ll want to look for feats that increase your Charisma to buff your spells and skills, as well as feats that improve your effectiveness with your weapons. Here are our recommendations:

  • Sharpshooter at level 4 will make you a deadeye with your ranged weapons, letting you make the most of your extra attacks.
  • Ability Improvement at level 8 gives you two extra points in Charisma (or 1 in Charisma and 1 in another stat, if you have odd numbers).
  • Ability Improvement at level 12 maxes out your Charisma stat.

Equipment

Early on, there are some pieces of bard-specific equipment you can look for which will be nice to have:

  • Blazer of Benevolence: Given by Volo when you rescue him from the goblins. It heals you whenever you use your Bardic Inspiration (which should be often!).
  • Cap of Curing: Inside a locked chest near Alfra, the singing bard in the Emerald Grove. This hat gives your Bardic Inspiration a small healing effect.

After you gain Shield Proficiency at level 3, you’ll want to have a shield equipped at all times for extra defense. For your weapons, you can use any weapon you want, but you should opt for Finesse weapons since they’ll use your high Dexterity stat rather than your low Strength score. Rapiers offer the highest damage, but you may find another weapon that has better features. For your ranged weapon, you can dual wield hand crossbows early on, but once you have an extra attack, a longbow or light crossbow will do more damage per round.

Join the High Ground

Thanks for reading! We hope this guide has helped you build your College of Valour Bard in Baldur’s Gate 3. If you have any questions, leave a comment below, and be sure to subscribe to High Ground for more useful guides!

Happy gaming!

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