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Darkest Dungeon is a pretty tough game the first time you jump into it. Characters will die, you'll struggle to keep your party sane, and it can be overwhelming at first glance to choose who to take on your next quest.
These guides are designed to help with that. Each installment focuses on a character class, discusses each of their skills, and gives you a general build or two to try out.
Note these aren't intended to be “perfect”, optimum guides but more of a roadmap for the newer player who wants some help getting their head around things. Please leave a comment if you feel anything has been left out so that we can all benefit from it.
It's also worth noting that Darkest Dungeon has undergone repeated alterations and tweaks to class skills as it has been developed. Therefore, whilst these guides will strive to be as accurate as possible, by the time you are reading them, all of the information may not be 100% correct, so always double-check with your game in case skill properties have been altered in some way.
The Arbalest is a long-range support character that possesses decent damage potential in the right set-ups. Similar to the Occultist, the Arbalest's main strength is the versatility of her skills; there's plenty of options, but the focus is on working out what to take to enhance the overall party that she is working with. Alongside attack skills, she has access to healing, marking and debuff options ensuring she has plenty to work with.
Her stats and skills also mean that she can make a perfectly good back-up damage dealer. Her HP and damage output is rather high, especially for a character designed to sit at the back ranks. Whilst her speed is only average this can be drastically improved with one of her skills, Blindfire, that gives her a significant speed boost.
Position: 3rd or 4th rank
Target: 2nd, 3rd or 4th rank
A great attacking skill in the right team, Sniper Shot is incredibly accurate (as you'd probably expect), boasting a 95 accuracy rating before it's even upgraded. What's more, it gets a +50% damage and +5% critical hit rate when hitting marked targets. Now, the Arbalest has the benefit of being able to mark targets herself, making this easier to buff than, say, the Highwayman's Pistol Shot.
The best tactic however, is to simply consider the Arbalest whenever you're taking a team with multiple marking skills. It's rare for a supportive unit to have access to damage output like this so it's always worth experimenting with.
Position: 3rd or 4th rank
Target: 2nd, 3rd and 4th rank
Debuffs that hit almost the entire enemy party are also worth looking into, however, a minor debuff to the enemy accuracy and critical hit rate is hardly anything to get excited about. When you couple that with only minor damage (the skill comes with a hefty -80% damage modifier) and you have a skill that feels rather underpowered even when it's upgraded.
The Arbalest would be better spending those turns she used Suppressing Fire by instead taking out one weaker enemy with Sniper Shot. It's always important to focus on wiping out enemies as fast as possible in Darkest Dungeon as there's simply too much randomness to risk having fights drag on.
Like the Bounty Hunter's Mark for Death, Sniper's Mark does no damage but marks the enemy and inflicts a debuff. Rather than the protection debuff that the Bounty Hunter inflicts, the Arbalest's instead causes a -20 dodge penalty.
Sniper's Mark is not worth taking if it's there just to make Sniper's Shot better. After all, two rounds of Sniper Shot (200%) are better than one round of buffed Sniper Shot (150%). This skill is best taken when there's multiple characters that can take advantage of it. The Bounty Hunter, Highwayman and Hound Master are all characters that will appreciate marking skills.
The more characters in your party that can bonus, the stronger this skill gets, since you're effectively multiplying the effect of the damage buff it provides for each character that can take advantage of it.
Position: 3rd or 4th rank
Target: 1st or 2nd rank
A quaint little move that's designed to shore up one of the Arbalest's main weaknesses: she can't hit the front rank. Bola does 50% of the character's regular output whilst also pushing the target back one space. In theory, this is meant to then leave the enemy open to future Sniper Shot attempts over future rounds.
There's a much better way to compensate for the Arbalest's weakness however: take a close combat specialist or two! There's little reason to take Bola when there are much better options for the Arbalest. Leave the front rank of the enemy to your Hellions, Crusaders and Lepers and let the Arbalest to simply focus on the back ranks.
Target: Any (Random)
One of the highlights of the Arbalest's skill set, Blindfire will ensure that the character always has at least something regardless of where she is. The biggest boon is the hefty speed buff the move confers (+5), the fact that it does this whilst also dealing damage is what makes it so strong. Granted, the target is random, but it's better to do some damage than none at all.
High speed is especially useful for characters with support abilities, especially those that can mark. You always want the marker to paint the target before the unit that can make use of the effect.
Position: 3rd or 4th rank
Target: 1st, 2nd or 3rd rank
A solid healing skill that also has the benefit of making other healing skills better. Furthermore, it's just the kind of skill that combines well with Blindfire; you want the Arbalest to have her turn before the Vestal or Occultist so that they get the benefit of the improvement to healing effects.
What's more, repeated use simply makes the skill better. That +20% to healing effects makes Battlefield Bandage itself better when it's used again.
This should be a priority skill to upgrade for the Arbalest, since both aspects, the healing and the healing effect bonus, are improved with subsequent upgrades.
Rallying Flare is a situational but useful effect to have around. It removes the stun and mark status from the target and grants them a +10% debuff resistance, along with a slight boost to the torch meter. Having a stun-healing skill in particular is handy, the fact that it comes with so many other little benefits make it all the better.
Perhaps the best use of this skill is to simply have it unlocked and then wait and see what type of enemies you encounter. Some areas are more prevalent with stun-using enemies than others, so make note, and, if it's becoming an annoyance, switch this skill in.
Upgrading the skill only boosts the debuff resistance so even if you use Rallying Flare often it's not an important skill to level up.
Here's a sample build for the Arbalest:
- Sniper Shot
- Battlefield Bandange
- Sniper's Mark/Rallying Flare
The core of the Arbalest's build here is built around using Blindfire to maintain the speed boost, and then switching between Sniper Shot and Battlefield Bandage as the need arises. Sniper's Mark comes into play depending on who's in the party, and Rallying Flare is primarily there to defend against stun effects.
Overall, the Arbalest is a solid support-oriented unit, but one that provides a little more combat “oomph” than characters like the Plague Doctor and Occultist, who typically fight with her for the same party role. Thanks to Battlefield Bandage and Sniper's Mark, she definitely helps both aspects of your party, defensively and offensively.
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